Friday, March 30, 2012

Don't Expect Magic

Don’t Expect Magic is a YA urban fantasy novel by Kathy McCullough.

A dead mom, a move that takes her across the country – away from her lifelong hometown of New Jersey and her best friend that still resides there – and a new guardian in her absentee father. That’s fifteen-year-old Delaney Collins’ new life.

If you asked Delaney if she believed in fairy tales she would laugh. Probably something close to a cackle.

Problem is, soon after moving in with Dr. Hank (the name her life-coach/author dad is famous under), this comes under question. Her world is turned upside down when she realizes that “life-coach” actually means “fairy godmother”.

And, okay, her dad is a guy – so maybe the technical term might be “godfather”, though she quickly christens the ridiculousness as simply “f.g.” – but apparently that doesn’t matter. He’s got the magic, the wand, etc.

Plus, the f.g. gene? Apparently it’s hereditary.

Delaney, the girl with an anti-social personality, is supposed to make wishes come true? Ha!

Yet, soon enough, she finds that her new high school is full of wistful souls that cause her to experiment with her burgeoning powers. One of which is Flynn, a yearbook photographer that she butted heads with on her very first day, who is hopelessly in love with a beautiful cheerleader – who, of course, doesn’t know he exists.

Deciding she might as well give it a shot, Delaney decides that she’ll do her best to make his wish come true.

But she’s sure as hell not going to start wearing pink, sparkly, poufy dresses!

Don’t Expect Magic was an absolutely delightful, magical novel!

Delaney is a bitter, sarcastic, caustic protagonist to start, which can sometimes be a hard sell, but her grief is very real and her reason for disliking her dad is legitimate. Kathy McCullough manages to make the awkward scenes awkward for all the right reasons – Delaney can sometimes be, well, not so nice and it can be a little painful to witness. Yet this pain is what gravitated me to Delaney – I became invested in her quickly and began hoping for as close to a “happily ever after” as is possible.

After establishing her character quickly, we then get to delve into a truly refreshing storyline and an honestly touching view of a father-daughter relationship healing, slowly but surely. Don’t Expect Magic is funny, original, upbeat and positive without turning syrupy. It stays grounded and believable.

This is a swift read that made me almost deliriously happy – and sometimes that’s EXACTLY what you want! I most definitely recommend Don’t Expect Magic – and I hope for more new, contemporary fairy tales from Kathy McCullough in the future!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Queen Hereafter

Queen Hereafter is a historical fiction novel by Susan Fraser King.

Margaret is a young Saxon princess that longs to be a nun. A secret from her father’s death long ago still lies heavy in her heart, and her loyalty and steadfastness to the Church is strong ever since. But when her brother Edgar wages a rebellion against the king of England, a war for the crown he believes is rightfully his, Margaret, her mother, and her sister get caught up in it.

The warrior-king of Scotland, Malcolm Canmore, has agreed to aid Edgar in his fight in exchange for Margaret’s hand in marriage.

Distraught at losing her primary focus on the Church, Margaret decides to throw herself into being the perfect wife and queen of Scotland. But it is a strange land filled with unfamiliar customs and wildness she is not accustomed to.

When a talented Celtic bard named Eva, around Margaret’s age, is brought to court, she finds an unlikely friend – yet Eva has ties to Lady Macbeth, whom is none too friendly with Malcolm. Can Eva be trusted?

This is the story of Margaret of Scotland.

I love good historical fiction, and do broach out of YA to enjoy it at times, as regular readers of the Bibliophile Support Group know. This particular title takes place in medieval times, which in the beginning imposed what seemed to be difficult names for my mind to process and remember – yet King’s simplistic prose quickly made it easy.

From the get-go Margaret’s individuality and humility is clear, as well as her strong, decisive mind. The writing conveys a vivid 11th century environment and it’s not hard to get caught up in the story. After all, there’s all sorts of drama, royal intrigue, and political interests literally at war here – plus tons of historical details and facts.

All of the characters feel real, enigmatic, and magnetic. I was surprised to find that Margaret and Malcolm had a unexpectedly intense, deep, attractive connection – their chemistry sizzled. Though Margaret’s piousness was always present, it didn’t change that romantic sensation.

Queen Hereafter is a novel to embrace and enjoy with a royal family that seems to legitimately care about each other (refreshing, as that seems to be rare) and a beloved, extremely generous queen with a huge heart. She is fascinating to read about in this fictional, narrative setting.

My only complaint was that I didn’t see the necessity of the fictional character of Eva. Knowing she wasn’t a real person kind of tainted a lot of the scenes for me. I know that historical fiction does this often, but I guess this time around I didn’t feel she was needed all that much to add or help with the story. However, this complaint is a faint one. I still very much reveled in the medieval court life and details of a revered piece of Scotland history.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Darkness Falls

Darkness Falls is a YA urban fantasy/paranormal and the second book in the Immortal Beloved trilogy by Cate Tiernan.

As Darkness Falls is the second book in a trilogy, it’s obvious this review will contain spoilers of the first book, Immortal Beloved. So, if you haven’t yet read Immortal Beloved (and you really should, it was great), you should instead read my review of Immortal Beloved, which I posted on Friday.

If like me, however, you have read Immortal Beloved – read on…

Y’all should remember what Immortal Beloved was about (unless you’ve ignored my previous warning about spoilers – if that’s you, what are you doing still reading this???).

Nastasya Crowe is over 450 years old and still looks about seventeen. She’s an immortal. And only recently did she realize how utterly pointless and empty her long life has been. Taking up an offer from almost a century ago, she showed up at River’s Edge – a farm/rehab for wayward immortals. She met the gorgeous, golden Reyn who was strangely familiar and began to try and make peace with her history.

Then, as I’m sure you recall, she found out she wasn’t safe at River’s Edge either. Her past came calling and other threats to her healing were revealed.

And it was awesome, right? Well, I most certainly thought so.

So, now here we are in book two. Things start where they left, basically.

Only her initial hope and optimism of a New Year bringing relief from her ugly, dark past begins to wane. Things start going really bad at her job – worse than usual – even though she’s trying to help. She’s also dismayed to see that nothing she says to Dray, the juvenile delinquent she’s run across more than once, is improving anything.

Plus, Reyn’s fevered kisses war in her mind with the revulsion she now feels knowing how their pasts are linked. Nothing’s going as well as it should.

And it’s all her fault. It’s pointless, she feels. So, why keep trying to change? Why ruin it all for everyone else?

This all leads to a reckless change of course.

But is she really better off away from River’s Edge? Or is she in more danger than ever?

Okay, that’s all I’m gonna give you. Why ruin all the surprises, right?

One thing I absolutely loved about Darkness Falls was how the tone was exactly the same as Immortal Beloved. Sometimes when I read sequels right after the initial book there’s a weird change in tone you have to adjust to and get over initially – not here! And the story continued seamlessly with great consistency.

Without revealing too much of where the plot goes, I’ll say that Cate Tiernan really upped the suspense in Darkness Falls. I was nervous and worried for Nastasya, feeling the tension that reverberated tightly on each page.

Scary developments peppered the story throughout, as well as quite a few personal ones. It still had the fantastic straddling of the line between fantasy and literary fiction, giving us that character development and meditative narrative that is truly unique.

Darkness Falls is introspective, mysterious, poignant, and surprising. The self-realization is poetically and suspensefully done. There’s tons of horrifying, chilling twists (Incy really freaked me out) – not to mention moments that are incredibly romantic.

I did at times get frustrated with Nastasya and her choices in Darkness Falls – yet I still loved her as a character and felt that what she was doing made sense for her character, even if I might want to clench my teeth a little while she did it. I’m being just vague enough for you to do the same, aren’t I? Sorry! Gotta read the book for yourself!

Essentially, I found Darkness Falls to be an exhilarating read, yet again. I can’t wait for the third book and I hope it won’t take too long to come out!

By the way, if you don’t ordinarily read YA you should still consider Immortal Beloved and Darkness Falls because there is a maturity to the story that is easily accessible to older readers as well. Check it out!

*I received a copy of Darkness Falls from Hachette Book Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Immortal Beloved

Immortal Beloved is a YA paranormal fantasy novel in modern times and the first in a trilogy of the same name by Cate Tiernan.

Nastasya is immortal.

No, really. She’s over four-hundred-years-old. There’s a bunch of immortals out there.

The good part of that? She still looks about seventeen-years-old and has all the time in the world to party and see the world.

The bad part of it? Eventually it all gets old. Too much pain, too much horror, too many memories to try and forget.

But it’s when she sees her best friend for a century commit an atrocious act on a human without blinking an eye and see her other so-called friends either laugh or shrug it off that she realizes she can’t deal with this life anymore.

Remembering a moment back in the 1920s when an immortal named River told her to come to her place if she ever wanted to leave her way of life behind, Nastasya finds herself in small town Massachusetts at a safe haven for messed up immortals called River’s Edge.

It’s a huge adjustment. Jeans and flannel shirts. Gardening and chores. Not exactly what she’s consider “fun”.

But every time Nastasya thinks about returning to her old life, to her friends… she just can’t. So she stays. Or she tries to.

She’s not the only one that isn’t so sure she belong at River’s Edge. A strangely familiar, simply gorgeous specimen of an immortal man that lives at River’s Edge named Reyn tells her she should leave. He doesn’t say it too friendly either.

Unfortunately, her attraction seems unrequited.

Everything about River’s Edge is in stark contrast to what Nastasya is used to – and though it scares her, that’s why she knows she has to stay. She needs the aching to go away. She wants so desperately to be happy.

Yet she doesn’t seem to be the only one with dark secrets – and Nastasya’s healing may be being interrupted by someone who has other intentions for her – fatal intentions.

Is that even possible for an immortal? Well, with Nastasya’s luck it probably is.

Immortal Beloved is an oddly unique paranormal novel that focuses on the darker aspects of living forever. There’s a disturbing, effective slow burn in the beginning that really allows the reader to see the degeneration of emotion and caring that takes hold of immortals over time. You start to see how you might need to rehabilitate, in a way, the depraved, harmful changes that have been wrought on the psyche over the centuries – and how so many might have no interest in that rehabilitation.

I’ll be honest here. Though I had nothing against it, it took me a while to really get into Immortal Beloved. The glimpses into Nasty’s wounded, vulnerable, buried humanity were painful to see and there was an interesting tone. But it wasn’t until about halfway through the book that I became fully fascinated with the increase in emotion, suspense, mystery, and plot.

Immortal Beloved is a truly original mix of a lyrical contemporary novel about a broken soul seeking healing (think of Sarah Dessen, Sara Zarr) and the magick, mystical, supernatural vibe of immortality. There was a sense of magnitude and meaning to the story that created a depth and character development that was astounding and unexpected.

I became more and more invested in Nastasya with each page. The seriousness combined with the sarcasm and humor of our main character make for an excellent tone that, in the end, created an exhilarating, satisfying novel!

Immortal Beloved was a bit slow to start (for me) but left me absolutely giddy that I already had the second book in the trilogy (Darkness Falls, which I’ll have a review of on Monday) to jump right into.

I applaud Cate Tiernan for creating something really different and really cool!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Vespertine

The Vespertine is a YA historical paranormal novel by Saundra Mitchell.

Sixteen-year-old Amelia van den Broek has been sent to stay with her cousins in Baltimore by her brother who wants her to have her time in society and find a good, appropriate husband – of which there aren’t many in their small town of Broken Tooth, Maine.

It’s 1889 in the summertime and all the pleasantries the city has to offer amaze Amelia and make her feel more like a naïve country girl than ever. But her cousin and companion Zora helps to introduce her to new friends as she begins to enjoy the new gowns, the parties, and the joviality. Though the one young man she feels inexplicably drawn to is not at all acceptable.

Then Amelia starts to have visions, amber-colored yet forceful and illusory, at sunset – and what she sees comes true. She’s seeing glimpses of the future. She can’t explain it and she’s doesn’t know why – but once words gets out about it she finds herself more popular than ever.

Acquaintances and strangers alike want her to peek into their futures – but what Amelia has to say is not always that big of a deal – nor, she learns, is it always pleasing. When her visions become darker and she starts to see things that burden her mind – her new life is thrown into chaos.

Because she is not the only one to wonder… is Amelia just seeing these new horrific things, or is she causing them?

The Vespertine left me speechless. Wow.

But now I have stuff to say. ;)

At first The Vespertine seemed simple – just a story about a girl in 1889 falling for an unsuitable guy and attending balls and such. Yet the initial chapter really provides an ominous, foreboding sensation that lingers on each page, especially as the story becomes increasingly creepy and disturbing. This paranormal historical novel becomes so much more as you factor in Saundra Mitchell’s ingeniously dramatic, gothic intensity as we jump forward to Autumn 1889 and get an occasional look into what is in Amelia’s future. Oooh boy.

But even with these evocative glimpses, it still took me a bit (though not too long) to really be captivated by the story. Soon, however, I was swept away by the zealous, restrained romance and lush, luxurious prose that soaks you in an atmosphere that is undeniably gripping.

I was constantly wondering where all of it would go as the spiritualism took twists and turns that sizzled with suspense. The Vespertine has “wowza!” developments and revelations that create an ethereal, stunning, amazing tone. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on this one-of-a-kind lyrical novel, you realize you don’t!

Yes, this is one heck of a dark, deep, and introspective book. The style is lovely, unique, startling, passionate, and unlike anything I’ve read for a long while. It’s utterly fantastic and breathtaking! I was literally frozen, caught up in the narrative – haunted, absorbed, mesmerized.

The Vespertine had me riveted to the very last word – and I must say that I was more than satiated. I mean – oh my goodness!!! Wow! I was gob smacked, and like I said earlier – speechless!

There’s going to be a companion novel coming soon called The Springsweet. You can count me among those hungry bibliophiles that will be waiting with bated breath – how about you?

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Fire King

The Fire King is a YA/middlegrade fantasy adventure and the second book in Paul Crilley’s The Invisible Order trilogy.

WARNING: If you have not yet read the first Invisible Order novel, Rise of the Darklings, you should avoid this review like the plague. It’s way too awesome to sour with inescapable spoilers, in my opinion. Instead you can read my review of Rise of the Darklings here and go get yourself a copy. Then you can return.

I really, really loved Rise of the Darklings – the flavor of Victorian England mixed with a brand new mythology of faeries (most of which were creepy and deceptive) and an epic storyline featuring a smart, resourceful young 12-year-old girl named Emily Snow that really just wanted to make sure she and her brother could eat every night. Excellent plot, characters, etc., and a fantastic cliffhanger end that had The Fire King being one of my most anticipated books on my shelf.

And The Fire King met all my expectations!

I don’t want to give away too many details of the plot here, as any fan of Rise of the Darklings should already be invested enough in the characters and story not to need it. Just pick it up and read!

But, if you’d like it, to kind of sum up where we start – it’s right where we left off! Emily, her brother William, her friend Jack and the hilariously grumpy and tricky piskie Corrigan have landed in 1666 London with no way to get home.

Not to mention they are running into too many familiar, unfriendly faces, such as Jenny Greenteeth and Black Annis, as well as new enemies – and trying to keep their possession of Victorian England’s version of the always-sought-after key a secret!

Emily is convinced that the solution to their problem is to find Christopher Wren, past leader of the Invisible Order and try to find Merlin (all of which Merlin himself seemed to suggest she had already done in his past back in Rise of the Darklings) but her brother William is stubbornly insistent on following up on a lead about someone called the Raven King – a prophesied helper in the issue of fey.

Nobody seems to know what they’re talking about, and time is running out as the Fire King begins to burn London to the ground – and all those inhabiting it… Will they ever get home?

So, that’s a general sum-up of the initial plotline, without giving much away. But if you loved Rise of the Darklings, you’re going to love The Fire King too!

We have more adventure, surprisingly unexpected twists, a refreshing sense of real danger, scheming, and fear, and a legitimately epic tone in a story that weaves legends, myths, and wonderful humor into a story completely original.

I was sucked in from start to finish and actually finished it in one day! And I was at work! And it’s 400 pages! So, that says a lot. I mean, I don’t even know how I managed to do that.

But when a book like The Fire King is as fun, entertaining, fast-paced, well-plotted, smart and witty as this one is, plus has a wide variety of colorful, clever, fully-shaped characters that you are truly invested in, it’s easy to read fast! I also love how it can read by any age and be truly delightful!

Don’t even get me started on the last couple of sentences, either. I need to know when the third book is coming out!

You’ll know what I mean when you see it!

Go grab your copy of The Fire King and start reading! It’ll be more than worth your time!!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Queen of Kentucky

The Queen of Kentucky is a YA contemporary novel by Alecia Whitaker.

Ricki Jo Winstead is entering her freshman year of high school and she’s ready to make some big changes.

First to go will be her farm girl name. It’s now the more sophisticated sounding Ericka.

Next, she’s focusing on using all the tips from Seventeen magazine to do an overhaul on her look. Nicer, newer clothes and hip hairstyles.

Especially if she doesn’t want to keep looking like a young boy – since puberty has (sadly) yet to hit.

Finally, Ricki Jo is determined to get herself involved with the “right” friends. This puts her in a good position to flirt with the resident freshman bad boy and start her high school life off right.

But along the way, will she overlook her lifelong best friend Luke?

Or maybe lose the parts of her she never really meant to change?

Ricki Jo Winstead is changing all right…

The Queen of Kentucky features a ton of charming personalities (especially that of Ricki Jo and Luke) that jump off the page quickly. Their friendly, relaxed sparring is good natured fun. Plus, Ricki Jo’s somewhat frenetic determination to “better” herself brings about a thought of her being the Southern, farming community’s version of Meg Cabot’s Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries series.

Alecia Whitaker shows the horrors and hurts of high school in a way that transcends the culture of small town life. She also provides a bit of an edge when it comes to revealing Luke’s home life – and she’s rather unique to the YA world in allowing Ricki Jo to (*gasp!*) be a believer in God.

The Queen of Kentucky had some jarringly poignant, moving moments that provided depth among the fluff. It zipped along pleasantly, sometimes heartbreaking, always sensitive. I did occasionally want to shake some sense into Ricki Jo, but she is a relatable character – especially if you are entering your first year of high school, or vividly remember doing so in the past (ahem).

Wow. I just realized I was 14-years-old ten years ago.

Okay. Moving on from that sudden weirdness…

I felt the strongest moments of The Queen of Kentucky were its sensibilities regarding animals, guilt, and family – these portions provided relief from what could sometimes be a predictable story. Yet, even the rather predictable parts were still fun and done pretty well.

The end was slight and sudden, but undeniably sweet. It was a very good, fast read.

*I received a review copy of The Queen of Kentucky from Hachette Book Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wielder's Awakening

Wielder’s Awakening is a fantasy novel by T. B. Christensen and the first in the Wielder Trilogy.

Unbeknownst to eighteen-year-old Traven, there is a formidable wielder of magic positioning himself for conquering a people who have forgotten that magic even exists, a King is looking to fight an army and save his kingdom, and a stunning princess is seeking love and adventure with a spirit of determination.

All Traven knows is that it’s his first time away from home.

He’s traveling to reach a school where his future lies. He’ll become more than just a woodcutter in a small village. His loving grandparents have saved for years to make it so. His previously ridiculous-sounding dreams now feel more reachable.

But maybe he was never meant to be a simple woodcutter anyway. And maybe Traven is not meant to go to school either.

His fate lies in saving the world…

Wielder’s Awakening represents itself as high fantasy, taking place in medieval-like times with an unsuspecting hero in Traven.

Unfortunately, I had a very difficult time trying to become engaged in the story.

There is a straightforward simplicity to the writing that will appeal to many, I’m sure – but, for me, it came across as dry and tedious and didn’t really ever improve. There’s great detail and build-up for the readers who will respond to Wielder’s Awakening – and a setup for epic magical battles.

Sadly, the charm, thrill, or magnetism never pulled at me. The prose, personally, was excessively descriptive and oftentimes repetitive. I saw a lot of chances for Christensen’s tremendous imagination to take off and create an epic tale – yet I could never grasp investment in the novice Traven or the various minor and major plots in the large, obviously thought-out and beloved world.

Now, as I always say, you can’t just take my word for it. Just looking at the reviews, I see varying opinions – some of which absolutely adore Wielder’s Awakening. So, if lots of adventure, plot twists, classic-like quest tone, beautiful ladies, sword fights, some legitimately creepy villains, and intrigue sounds like an awesome read to you (it does to me to, on paper) – try Wielder’s Awakening and form your own opinion!

On my end, I saw a novel that could have profited greatly from a good bit of editing. I also felt a swifter, tighter, more focused plot would have benefited Wielder’s Awakening and – this is only personal opinion here – maybe a first-person narration to give us a better opportunity to know and care about Travern as a character.

I myself could not call myself a fan of Wielder’s Awakening – but I respect the fact that there are those that will. And I don’t want to dissuade any of you from seeing if you will be one!!

By the way, if you do end up being a fan of Wielder’s Awakening, you’ll be happy to know that T. B. Christensen has recently published the second novel in the trilogy – Wielder’s Rising!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Highway to Hell

Highway to Hell is a YA paranormal mystery and the third book in a series called Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil by Rosemary Clement-Moore.

Being that this is the third book in a series, I would recommend making sure you’ve read the first two before reading this review and becoming party to some inevitable spoilers from the first books. Instead, read my review of Prom Dates from Hell here and Hell Week here.

Oh, you have read the last two Maggie Quinn books? Those of you who are nodding, feel free to continue…

It’s Maggie’s first Spring Break while attending college and she is on assignment to be a totally normal freshman and spend it in South Padre Island with her best friend D&D Lisa.

That is, if normal means her best friend is a sorceress in training with a bit of a dark past and Maggie herself has weird psychic powers that she has recently used to bring down a sorority that was literally Evil, and before that save her classmates from a not-so-nice demon.

Well, she’s trying anyway.

Yet it seems like Maggie can’t stay away from the freaky stuff. Before they are anywhere near Girls Gone Wild territory their car is gored by a dead cow in the middle of the highway and they find themselves stranded in the tiny town of Dulcina, Texas.

What are the chances that the cow died in a normal fashion? Or that the town isn’t full of supernatural theories and tons of suspicious activity?

Yeah, not so much.

Apparently there have been a lot of livestock deaths lately. Gruesome. Mysterious. Weird.

Go figure.

It doesn’t take long for Maggie to get the sense that there is some Evil here that needs some butt-kicking.

Too bad she still hasn’t gotten around to taking any butt-kicking lessons…

Highway to Hell is, like I said at the beginning of the review, the third book in the Maggie Quinn series. And, so far, the last one. I’m really hoping for a fourth – or more!

But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I?

I’m so happy I finally got the chance to read this! Rosemary Clement-Moore has done it again. With the wit and cleverness of our smart heroine Maggie and the sarcastic, caustic, often-hilarious personality of Lisa we have a duo that makes for an excellent read!

There’s a tone kinda reminiscent of the mystery of Nancy Drew – or even Scooby Doo, as crazy as that sounds. There are lots of different leads, lots of confusion, and many clues to follow up on. But unlike Nancy Drew or Scooby Doo, the monsters here are real – and usually creepy. I wouldn’t say the supernatural scenes were quite as chilling as they were in Prom Dates from Hell or as funny/disturbing as in Hell Week, but somewhere in a good spot in the middle.

It was delightful to read, which wasn’t at all a surprise to me.

And one thing I really love about Clement-Moore in this series is how she presents Maggie with her boyfriend Justin. It’s not really angsty. Sure, she has occasional, common insecurities – but the moments are small. Overall, we are given a protagonist that has a good, stable head on her shoulders – even if it is full of psychic dreams. I love that!

I’m hoping for more Maggie Quinn books, as they are funny and do provide a Buffy-esque air with those awesome dashes of classic mystery solving and phenomenally dynamic characters. Highway to Hell just cannot be the last one!!!

However, whether it is another Maggie Quinn book or not – I am eagerly awaiting another Rosemary Clement-Moore novel!

Guest Post with Author Larry Peterson!

I am happy to tell you that we have a guest today! Let’s welcome author Larry Peterson into our admittedly crazy, bibliophile-world! He’s the author of The Priest and the Peaches.

Want to know more about the book? Your wish is my command!

Historical fiction novel set in the Bronx in the mid-1960s

Take a seven day journey with the five, newly orphaned Peach kids, as they begin their struggle to remain a family while planning their dad's funeral.

They find an ally in the local parish priest, Father Tim Sullivan, who tries his best to guide them through the strange, unchartered and turbulent waters of "grown-up world." A story that is sad, funny, and inspiring as it shows how the power of family love and faith can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Mmmm, sounds interesting right?

Only thing is it’s an e-book only – but for those of you who have the ability to read those, you can get one for your Kindle here, for your Nook here, for your iBooks here, Smashwords here, or a PDF here. Check it out!

And now is Larry’s own words:

I have described writing a novel as akin to building a house. For me, the overall concept is in my mind. The blank paper is the land where the house will be built. Most of the building materials are on the truck waiting to be unloaded. The only problem for me is I do not have any blue-prints to follow so I have to figure out where everything goes without direction. Many writers outline carefully (blue-print) and some synopsize from beginning to end (build a scale model). I synopsize after the fact (more or less jotting down where I have been after a few chapters so I have reference to the thousands of words already written). I am more or less considered a "pantser" (flying by the seat of my pants) and it is a method frowned upon by most experts.

Another way to look at the process of novel writing is as if you are on a cross-country journey. The first couple of hundred miles are more or less a straight run on the interstate and you just breeze along with nary a bump in the road. Suddenly there is an unexpected detour ahead and you are sent in another direction. You make a wrong turn and discover that you have no idea where you are. Where is that darn highway? You stop and ask directions (thinking) and write them down (different ideas) and the person who gave you directions becomes a new character. You begin to drive and "thumpa-thumpa," you blow a tire. Uh oh--the spare is flat. You have had enough and decide to stop at a motel so you can relax and regroup. Ultimately, you fight through the adversity (write-edit-write-edit-write) and keep on going.
I hope you get my point with all of this. You will always hit the proverbial "bump in the road".

Sometimes you will wind up in a ditch. You have to deal head-on with all obstacles. The goal is to finish the journey. The entire process will more than likely prove to be a lot more challenging than you ever thought. But you MUST keep on truckin' - sooner or later you will reach the end of the journey.

Sidebar: If some of the young folks out there would like to get an idea of how it might be to have to fend for themselves and take care of the "business of life" they might enjoy reading The Priest & The Peaches. Not all kids come home to an X-Box 360 or a Wii, and a mom who is there to feed them and tuck them in.

Isn’t that the truth? How weird is to imagine life without the internet, cell phones, etc.? That’s what’s awesome about books – you get the chance to be transported anywhere!

To learn more about Larry Peterson and The Priest and the Peaches you can visit his blog here, his Facebook page here, or his Twitter page here. You can also learn more about Tribute Books, the publisher, at their website here.

Thanks for visiting, Larry!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Copper Room

The Copper Room is a YA sci-fi novel, and the latest by Henry Melton.

High school senior Jerry thought he was just helping his Uncle Greg with a weird house project to make a bit of extra money… but Uncle Greg is always up to more.

The room they’re constructing completely out of copper has properties that can adjust time, making it slower or faster while you’re inside the room.

Wow, right?

Being the cool guy Uncle Greg is, he acknowledges Jerry’s help (and overwhelming amount of studying he needs as he reaches the homestretch of high school) and lets him use the copper room to give him extra time to do schoolwork. He gets to cram a fifteen hour study marathon into just five minutes of real world time.

Which gives him plenty of time to spend more time with his new girlfriend Lil.

But when Uncle Greg leaves town for a bit and entrusts the copper room to Jerry, Jerry can’t help but get tempted to reveal the secrets of the room to Lil. He gets her extra studying time – and quality time of a more enjoyable nature, without being gone long from their parents.

Yet things fall apart fast when they stumble into a set of controls that Uncle Greg warned never to touch – and find they are far into the future!

And have no way to get back.

Sci-fi bibliophiles, especially those of you who love YA, definitely need to make sure and put all of Henry Melton’s books on your to-read list. The Copper Room is yet another addition to an excellent line-up.

This is not a long novel, yet it packs a ton of plot, amusement, romance and provocative ideas in its pages. Jerry and Lil are likable, easy characters to follow as we jump forward in time and deal with the consequences.

Since they are decent, nice, generally mature teens (one of the consistently refreshing factors in Henry Melton’s writing), what they do with their situation is very cool and creates a unique situation that I do not want to give away. Believe me; the premise itself gives away enough! The rest needs to be a surprise!

As always, Henry Melton has penned yet another stimulating, intelligent, entertaining novel that makes for a swift read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It wasn’t too heavy on the science details, but gave enough to allow you to take a leap of faith on all the various elements of advanced technology, etc. That, for me, is the best kind of sci-fi. It’s logical, it’s interesting, and it seems almost possible – and always fun!

You can do a search of Henry Melton on my blog to find reviews on all his other books. And I must say, I’m looking forward to getting the chance of reading more from him in the future!

Hopefully a much nearer future than Jerry and Lil end up in, that is. ;)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Blood Sun

Blood Sun is a YA action/adventure book featuring Max Gordon by David Gilman.

Again, since there are a few serialized elements and plots that could be spoiled from the earlier books, I would suggest you read the first two Max Gordon books – The Devil’s Breath and Ice Claw – before reading Blood Sun. Might suggest you be careful with this review as well…

If you’ve read the two previous books, then you’re safe! Please continue:

When a former student of Max Gordon’s private boarding school Dartmoor is found dead in the London Underground, shady men come to ask Max questions.

Why? Because the boy found dead was carrying an envelope addressed to Max, supposedly holding clues to how his mother actually died years earlier.

Only recently has Max begun to question the details surrounding her death – after running across an old family friend during his last escapade in the French Pyrenees who cast doubt on Max’s father’s bravery.

Now, Max has become consumed with finding out the truth. And the one that was looking for answers is now dead – which leads Max to believe there is someone out there who does not want him to know what happened.

Of course, that doesn’t stop Max. He takes off on his own, his search sending him to her last known location in the rain forests of Central America – where there are more dangers than he can count.

He will know the truth…

I feel like I’ve been on a bit of a reading marathon with Max Gordon over the last week – and I have to tell you, it’s exhausting! All of the stunts, the action, the constant plot movement… well, it might be better in smaller doses. Just being honest, here.

But the creepy, adrenaline-pumping first few paragraphs are like the opening scene of an action movie. It’s a cool start with a more personal goal in sight for Max this time around. And we’re seeing a Max that is a little darker and more preoccupied this time around – jaded and edgy. It’s interesting, but sucks a little of the good-natured fun out of it.

Blood Sun, like The Devil’s Breath and Ice Claw, moves at a breakneck pace and is chockfull of plot twists, villains, battling the elements, and fights for survival. However, I think that maybe it was all a bit too much for me – reading all three of the novels in quick succession. Because this time around, I wasn’t as enthralled. Maybe the plot just didn’t grab me as much. It wasn’t as globetrotting, there weren’t as many lively characters, and the end didn’t come with as much of a punch as I expected.

Max came across as a bit too seasoned for me… I mean, I know he’s done a lot over the last couple of books (how can he still only be fifteen?!), but I liked following a slightly-out-of-his-depth guy that has surprising capabilities in the face of death and injustice, but now Max is being portrayed more along the lines of an expert.

None of this is necessarily bad. Like I said, it could have just been too much action/adventure in too little time. I really enjoyed The Devil’s Breath and Ice Claw. Blood Sun just dragged a bit more for me, and I just didn’t feel that same exhilaration.

But I would still keep my eye out for the fourth book, if there is one. And you might find that Blood Sun is your favorite Max Gordon book – so read it! :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ice Claw

Ice Claw is an action/adventure YA novel by David Gilman, and the second one featuring Max Gordon.

Though this is technically the second book in a series, the story is stand-alone – however, I still recommend reading them in order so you can understand and appreciate all the smaller details that work together. So, if you haven’t read it yet – go pick up The Devil’s Breath, which I reviewed on Friday.

Max is up high in the freezing French Pyrenees for an Xtreme sporting challenge that he’s participating in. But an ordinary endeavor (as ordinary as Xtreme sports are, that is) soon becomes anything but as Max witnesses the last moments of a mysterious monk who screams out a cryptic message to Max before dying.

Based on his own personal honor system, Max is determined to respect the monk’s wishes to pursue this information – as nonsensical as it is. But before he knows it, he suddenly finds himself in the middle of a prophecy foretelling a major devastating environmental incident.

And he’s being pursued by not only bad guys – but the police as well!

Looks like Max has gotten himself into something big again – but he’s ready to follow it to the end. The only one he can fully trust is his best friend Sayid, who’s also drawn into the chase.

But how can Max fix anything when no one will believe a word he says?

Ice Claw immediately flings us into danger and breathless suspense with great imagery and vivid locales, yet again. In the first book, The Devil’s Breath, I was impressed with how much I felt the essence of Africa – now I was immersed in cold France – shivering among the snow and ice!

David Gilman has penned yet another journey of epic proportions, sending us across the globe with clues and secrets unraveling as we trail Max and his one-minded focus on putting the puzzle together – and staying alive! Ice Claw mixes extreme sports, athleticism, and adventure with occasional moments of humor to lighten the death-heavy plot.

Like Jack Bauer, Indiana Jones, James Bond, and other famous action heroes – Max Gordon is very hard to kill. Which is kind of awesome.

The thematic, nonstop action as Max deals with his new debacle in a much frostier climate, provide us with new locations that leap off the pages with crystal clear clarity. Max’s devotion to sticking with what comes across his path is not only noble, but likable – making this extremely fast-paced and entertaining novel fun to venture in.

Every once in a while the action scenes are a bit longwinded and the fight scenes could get a little tiring for me, but when you’re giving Ice Claw your focus and attention (and you’re not already tired when reading it) all of this is precise and gratifying. I don’t have the same connection to Max as other favorite books, where I am glued to the page and devoted to the story in a super-special way – but Ice Claw, and the other Max Gordon books, aren’t really – in my opinion – meant to do that. What they do they are successful at – create a mystery thriller that is a pleasure and a breeze to read!

Ice Claw is, overall, an excellent YA adventure that deserves to be considered among the popular adult authors of today!

Return on Wednesday to find out what I thought of the third and latest Max Gordon novel Blood Sun!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Devil's Breath

The Devil’s Breath is a YA action/adventure novel by David Gilman.

Fifteen-year-old Brit Max Gordon was minding his own business, taking a run at his private school Dartmoor, when an attempt was made on his life. It’s violent, sudden, and though Max comes out of it the survivor, rattling. After all, someone tried to kill him.

This event leads Max to find out that his father, a mysterious world-traveling ecological protector, is missing. Having been groomed to not sit around and wait for others to find answers, Max takes off on the search himself – clues sending him from London to Namibia, where a disaster of epic proportions may be about to take place – on purpose.

Determined to save his father, whom he believes might be held somewhere, Max must utilize the survival skills he has gleaned from his unorthodox school and his enigmatic dad. But he isn’t alone – he gets help along the way by his best friend Sayid, a computer whiz still back at Dartmoor, a South African teen named Kallie, and a young Bushman that knows the wilds of Africa better than most.

Yet, even with all the help, this isn’t an easy task.

Especially when there is someone, constantly, trying to kill him…

Wow! The Devil’s Breath is an action-packed (and I mean packed) adventure located in exotic locations with wild animals and extremely dangerous villains. David Gilman manages to make the respect demanded for such primitive lands and powerful animals resonate off the pages. I really felt like I was in Africa!

We get foot and car chases, fight scenes galore, and crazy stunts that pepper The Devil’s Breath, keeping a level of vibrant, non-stop suspense that somehow keeps itself grounded with believable characters and reverently awed prose amidst incredible situations. Max is no ordinary fifteen-year-old boy – but he’s also new to this. We get to relate to him a bit. He does get scared. He does get sick. He does get hungry. He does get tired. And that is one of the great things about The Devil’s Breath – it may be insane, but you feel like it’s still possible.

David Gilman has created a fun, and kind of exhausting, mystically edged international YA thriller with constantly switching viewpoints and a blockbuster tone. I’m sure action inclined guy readers will love this, and I thoroughly enjoyed it as well – I’m ready for book two, Ice Claw!

Are you?

*By the way, this week will be the last week in the foreseeable future that I will have five posts a week. Starting on Monday March 5th, I will be returning to three reviews a week – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’m sure we’ll have another month or two in 2012 of five reviews a week, but let’s give our bibliophile selves a little time to breathe for a while, agreed? :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Guest Post with Author Mary Lowry!

Today I want all of us to give a warm Bibliophile Support Group welcome to Mary Lowry!

She is the author of the YA contemporary adventure novel The Earthquake Machine and she is visiting us today with a guest post.

First she wants to tell us a bit more about her novel:

The Earthquake Machine

The book every girl should read,
and every girl’s parents hope she’ll never read.

The Earthquake Machine tells the story of 14 year-old Rhonda. On the outside, everything looks perfect in Rhonda’s world, but at home Rhonda has to deal with a manipulative father who keeps her mentally ill mother hooked on pharmaceuticals. The only reliable person in Rhonda’s life is her family’s Mexican yardman, Jesús. But when the INS deports Jesús back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation.

Determined to find her friend Jésus, Rhonda seizes an opportunity to run away during a camping trip with friends to Big Bend National Park. She swims to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and makes her way to the border town of Milagros, Mexico. There a peyote- addled bartender convinces her she won’t be safe traveling alone into the country’s interior. So with the bartender’s help, Rhonda cuts her hair and assumes the identity of a Mexican boy named Angel. She then sets off on a burro across the desert to look for Jesús. Thus begins a wild adventure that fulfills the longing of readers eager for a brave and brazen female protagonist.

Then we get a cool glimpse of an insight from the author herself:

What was your life like when you were writing THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE?

When I was writing THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE I lived in a rented basement room at the Desert Rose Horse Ranch outside of Durango, Colorado. The Desert Rose was owned by a gorgeous 50-something woman named Ana Hale who taught English at Fort Lewis College and also broke colts for a living. It was totally inspiring to be around someone who was dedicated to reading and writing, but who also loved adventure and being outdoors.

I woke up before dawn to write and and then drove to my job as an apprentice carpenter. I worked for a Viking of a man named David who believes that women should have a chance to learn carpentry. As we framed houses or built fences, we talked about books and art and music. We worked outside in the cold all day so when I made it home at night I was too tired to do anything but lie on the floor for a little while before bed.

Since THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE is essentially about a girl brave enough to have a wild adventure, it was great to push myself at my carpentry job while I was writing the book. I learned how to rip boards on a table saw, use a nail gun and compressor, and how to tell my boss David to chill out when he got mad I’d messed something else up.

I believe women and girls shouldn’t be afraid to try new things, even if they are out of the bounds of what’s comfortable or even “acceptable” for women. There are still so many professions from which women are largely excluded and I’d like to see that change. I worked as a forest firefighter—only 10% or so of forest firefighters are women. That doesn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was when I started working as a screenwriter and found out that only 10% of screenwriters of major films are women! I hope reading THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE inspires women and girls to stretch the limits of what they believe they can do and push against limitations.

Author Bio:

Mary Pauline Lowry has worked as a forest firefighter, screenwriter, open water lifeguard, construction worker, and advocate in the movement to end violence against women. Due to no fault of her sweet parents, at 15 she ran away from home and made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. She believes girls should make art, have adventures, and read books that show them the way.

Learn more about Mary and her book by visiting her website:

I want to thank Mary for stopping by the Bibliophile Support Group and encourage everybody to check out The Earthquake Machine.

*By the way, this week will be the last week in the foreseeable future that I will have five posts a week. Starting on Monday March 5th, I will be returning to three reviews a week – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’m sure we’ll have another month or two in 2012 of five reviews a week, but let’s give our bibliophile selves a little time to breathe for a while, agreed? :)