Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jonathan Rush and the Star Academy by Gregory Blackman

Published synopsis:

The Dark Prince has emerged from the shadows, ready to wage war on the Star Academy. The galaxy’s only hope for salvation rests in the arms of an anxious fourteen year old named Johnny. Portals in space have opened, spreading chaos throughout the galaxy. The monsters from beyond call themselves the Void Empire, and they will not stop until they have destroyed everything in their path. Jonathan Rush and the Star Academy is the coming of age story about a cautious young teen, who may be the only person able to close these portals and save everyone. What Johnny soon finds out, is that the hardest thing he is going to do is believe in himself.


Jonathan Rush is a shy, timid boy with dreams of being a superhero. He feels out of place in his world, always the odd kid that bullies liked to pick on. And he lets them because he doesn’t believe he has the power to fight back.

Even when Jonathan is taken to a strange space station to attend the Star Academy, and told that he had the power to do great things in time, he didn’t believe any of it. Taken under the wing of a Star Knight, he begins to train for the future; whatever that may hold. Soon, with the help of several knights, the girl of his dreams, and a robot, he is finally ready to make a stand.

In Jonathan Rush and the Star Academy, Gregory Blackman weaves his story with the important message that the only way to accomplish great things is to believe you can do it. The message does become repetitive, but it is still important, none the less. Jonathan seems a bit young for his fourteen years, though. He cries easily and is as timid as a rabbit, making his transition a little hard to believe. I would have liked to see more growth in his character if not in his power.

Jonathan Rush and the Star Academy is a good book that most preteen and maybe early teen kids will find enjoyable. The story is fast paced and filled with interesting characters and battle scenes. There’s the potential to go a long way with this series. I thank the author for providing me with a review copy and I give the book three stars.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lorelei and the Sirens by Aaronni Miller

Published synopsis:

Lorelei Twila Adams is from the McAdams line of sirens in Ireland and as the second generation in America Lorelei must never fall in love, never let her beauty mark burn (a means of surveillance), and she must practice perfect restraint at all times; to her great chagrin. Lorelei abhors the stifling gaze of her over-protective mother and gets a breath of fresh air when Ellis Latif McMillan, the new boy, shows up at Harry P. Strange High School. With hypnotic, crystal-blue eyes Lorelei stumbles into talking to Ellis at school, trips when he writes a poem about her, and falls in love with him when she sneaks out to meet him late one night, but her days are numbered soon after. Lorelei's family finds out about Ellis and her; they call for her immediate trial to determine her guilt. Lorelei runs away with Ellis; she knows the outcome if her family finds her. Lorelei's first taste of love will either set her free from the lies of her family or it will kill her and the boy she loves.


Lorelei Adams is different from the rest of her family. She is inquisitive, far from perfect, and wants to be able to act like a normal teenager. One with friends, a boyfriend, and being able to leave the house other than just for school. Long given up on the idea, her desires come tumbling back to her when Ellis McMillan shows up at Strange High School. He’s beautiful, irresistible, and likely to get both of them killed if Lorelei’s family finds out about his growing attraction to her.

The wickedness she lives with on a daily basis - from her backstabbing sisters to her cruel mothers, is enough to break anyone’s heart. Lorelei seems destined to be unhappy the rest of her days; trapped in a world she wants nothing to do with.Once she meets Ellis, though, things start to seem possible. By the end, the reader wants a happily ever after for them as badly as Lorelei does. But first, she has to learn what secrets he’s hiding, and trust him with hers.

In Lorelei and the Sirens, Aaronni Miller has given a fresh take on the paranormal world. Sirens, which were once only able to swim in the sea, have evolved to having two legs and their own rules in society. Rules that are cruel, alienating, and deadly to humans who get in their way. Told from the viewpoint of the main character, the book is captivating. Aaronni Miller draws readers into Lorelei’s world, and lets them experience her pain, her fear, her rebellion and her love.

Based on the characters, the premise, and the style of writing, I would have gladly given the book a five star rating. What holds me back from that is one thing. I hate having to discuss editing when reviewing a self-published work because these authors do not generally have the luxury of a professional editor. So, they do the best they can. Therefore, I overlook small mistakes and grammatical errors. What makes me focus on it in this book is the fact that a final read through by the author probably would have fixed most of the many, many errors – the missing words, the incorrect words and the spelling errors. The nice thing about self- publishing is that it’s never too late to do that. I thank the author for providing me with a review copy and I give the book 4 stars.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Shoe Strings by Christy Hayes

Published synopsis:

After being hounded by her estranged father just as her boutique shoe business is taking off, Atlanta’s Angelita Barros heads for the mountains of North Carolina where she couldn’t be a bigger fish out of water. The cabin she rents is perfect, but one look at the owner’s son and Angelita’s in lust big time. She finds resisting the charming Jesse Bloodworth as difficult as maneuvering small town life in her custom made stilettos.

Jesse has spent years rebuilding his relationship with his teenaged son and ex-wife after running out on them eleven years ago. But his dad’s not so quick to forgive and forget. The water under the bridge becomes mighty choppy when beautiful Angelita walks into their lives.

Jesse’s ex, Kerri Ann, is a far cry from where she thought she’d be in life. Even before she got pregnant with Ty, things between her and Jesse had faltered, and there was only one person to blame: Bryce Jenson. Kerri Ann never expected her long-ago crush to settle back into Sequoyah Falls to practice law. Hell, no one did.

Bryce had his reasons for returning home and Kerri Ann was at the very top. They seem destined to remain just friends, until Angelita comes to town and stirs everything up.

As Angelita and Jesse embark on a relationship, her father’s demands become threats and she’s forced back to Atlanta. Jesse’s attempt to save her uncovers more of her past than he bargained for. Will Angelita’s prince charming come to her rescue or does Jesse’s love come with Shoe Strings attached?


I would like to think it is my knack for picking good books to review that has led to so many excellent books I’ve reviewed lately. But, no, I can’t take any credit for the dedication and excellence these authors have put into their work. Finding these strong voices in literature is what makes doing reviews fun and interesting.Christy Hayes is another one of those authors I’m glad I’ve read and reviewed.

Angelita carries a lot of baggage around with her, and not just the ones filled with shoes. Her mother deserted her, her father couldn’t care less about her, and a pregnancy at seventeen started a chain reaction that sent her life swirling into a downward spiral. That is, until she met Sophie. Sophie helped her put her life back together and with a lot of hard work, they turned Angelita’s shoe designs into a thriving business. But now, her father wants a piece of that business and he’s not taking no for an answer. The only thing Angelita can think to do is run from him.Which puts her right smack in the middle of other people’s baggage.

Sequoyah Falls is a small town where no one forgets the past. Jesse is still considered the ne'er-do-well who ran out on his wife and kids; even though he’s been back in town for years and has done everything he can to repair those relationships. Kerri Ann still pines for the man she never thought she was good enough for – the man that drove her into Jesse’s arms with the end result being a baby boy. Bryce couldn’t stick around and see the woman he loved with another man, but now he’s back, Kerri Ann’s divorced and this is his chance. But it’s been several years now, and no one knows how to get their lives back on track and go after what they want. Until Angelita shows up.

Shoe Strings is a novel that showcases how bad choices made in our youth can change the course of our lives forever. Her characters have grown into their adulthood still clinging to the past, keeping them from seeing their bright futures.Insecurities, emotional scars and the opinions of other people keep them from finding the right path over and over again. But stirring up the pot a little bit can change the flavor of things. Throw a new person in the mix who sees things in an unbiased light and new attitudes and self-confidence can have a chance to sprout roots where they never have before.

In Shoe Strings, Christy Hayes transports the reader into a world in desperate need of second chances. Her story drives home the message that ghosts from the past do not get to determine the future, and love can win over even the most disbelieving hearts. The reader will enjoy watching these characters grow into the people they deserve to be, and will root them on every step of the way. Christy Hayes brings to life their hopes, dreams and desires and you can’t help but grin happily as everything finally comes together.

I thank the author for providing me with a review copy and I give the book 5 stars.

Purchase Shoe Strings by Christy Hayes

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Stupid Poetry Volume 2, New and Improved Stupidity

Published synopsis:

Stupid Poetry - Volume 2, NEW AND IMPROVED STUPIDITY! brings back the limericks that drove people to drink from the first volume. Leipold takes mundane topics and transforms them into Dr. Seuss-like poetry (for adults only) designed to elicit belly laughs.


From politics and religion to family and homosexuality, Stupid Poetry – Volume 2, New and Improved Stupidity covers it all. In a funny, sarcastic and sometimes angry way. There’s a poem for everyone in here. The rhymes can be cute, and the hearts of the poets are in the right place, even if occasionally they go a little overboard in their dislike for this or that. Some may find the poems offensive, others will be shouting, ‘Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel.’ Overall, it’s a good read for adults.

I thank the author for providing me with a review copy and I give the book 3 stars.

Purchase Stupid Poetry Volume 2, New and Improved Stupidity

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Superior by Tracy Brantley

Published synopsis:

Superior tells the story of Joselin and Karter, two teenagers who had never met, but both of their families have suddenly moved to a minuscule town in rural Arizona. Joselin is furious with her parents for uprooting her from her comfortable life, and deep down she knows she is going to hate living in this rinky dink place. Shortly after landing here, Joselin finds herself inexplicably drawn to the mysterious Karter. Try as she might she can't seem to stop thinking about him, and very quickly both of their lives begin to change. Karter shares with Joselin a secret that she doesn't even know about herself, and the grave danger that it poses to both of them. Their lives become completely intertwined, and they will have to fight together to survive the battle they were destined to undertake. Superior is a tale of teenage exploration, discovery, and growth.


Joselin and Karter both have the bad luck of being dragged by their parents to a small town in Arizona for no apparent reason. Karter has always been a loner, not really letting anyone get close to him except his family. Joselin is strong-willed and stubborn, but sociable. She likes having a best friend to talk to and hang out with. Which is why the two make an unusual pair.

Drawn together for reasons they have yet to learn, a bond grows between Karter and Joselin that can’t be ignored. As the two become closer, they help each other understand the changes going on in their lives, supernatural and otherwise. They are also able to be there for each other when it turns out that both of their parents have a laundry list of secrets that they have kept from them. With evil witches hot on their trail, Joselin and Karter need to find some answers quickly because all of their lives depend on it.

In Superior, Tracy Brantley captured well the essence of the teenage mind, both the good and the bad. She created typical teenagers that are stubborn, independent, at times insecure, and always quick to be led by their emotions instead of logic. But, it’s the latter that led them to get close in the first place. The romance is quick to develop, but for good reason. The sweetness and the urgency of teenage love is portrayed exceptionally well as the two leave their childhood behind and prepare for the changes that will guide their future. The only thing lacking in this regard is that when intimacy occurs between them, neither discuss the possible ramifications of their actions – an important message for teenage readers.

Superior is a wonderful example of YA paranormal romance. The story is captivating and the characters lovable. The ending tied up loose ends while still leaving room for more adventures – which I would love to read about. I thank the author for providing me a review copy and I give the book 4 ½ stars.

Purchase Superior by Tracy Brantley