Tag Archives: Young Adult

The Rose Diary by Curtis Maynard

Jacqueline finds herself dealing with death much more intimately than most her age would ever be expected to do.   First, it’s her childhood best friend, Chase who passes in a mysterious fire, and now it is her older sister, Sandra who is discovered dead in her bed.  Family rifts and accusations follow her throughout the book until she discovers her sister’s death was much more than an illness … so much more!

Curtis Maynard develops the story vividly and realistically through dialog, character development, and plot twists.  The author is meticulous in details, leaving nothing to chance.  Every movement of each character is carefully choreographed to make the story realistic and accurate.  The plot twists and supernatural occurrences resonate with many because of the simplistic approach used in the storyline. Maynard expertly communicated the story, emotions, and character relationships.

I had a difficult time stopping the book until I was free to listen again.  Maynard does not scratch the top of the story, but rather takes the listener deeper and reveals a much darker story.   I enjoyed listening to the book and hearing the plot and twists evolve with each passing second.  The cliff hanger at the end was a bit of a shock and well done but it makes me need to hear the 2nd book now.

The narrator, Jess Combs, performs the story with just the right amount of emotion.  Her performance engages the listener to vividly see the book and each step of the mystery until the end.  Her voice for the story was very well done – one would not believe she wasn’t 14 or 15 years of age!

There were no issues with the production or quality of this audiobook.

Star Rating:  * * * * 1/2

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One if By Land, Two if By Submarine by Eileen Schnabel

History is about to change.  Paul Revere is missing, presumed kidnapped and Samuel Adams and John Hancock are in a precarious situation as well.  Kep, TJ, Max, and Tela are charged with traveling back and taking the infamous ride to warn the colonists of the British invasion as well as rescuing a trunk of documents for John Hancock that could put a deadlier spin on the outcome of the war.  Several twists keep this listen exciting and riveting!  Kep, TJ, Max and Tela are all kids and in 24 hours or less they must right the wrongs.

Action-packed, Eileen Schnabel captures our imagination and runs with it.  Well written, the plot is executed beautifully with finesse and charm.  One cannot help but fall in love with the kids and smile with the fresh take on Hancock and Adams.  It is a fresh way to look at time travel and the intrigue was fascinating.  The characters were very well developed, each character was realistic and her attention to detail made the story unforgettable.  Well written with realistic dialog and interactions, it is an easy listen.

Narrated by Kevin Clay, the story is wonderfully performed.  Clay moved the story along with his skilled voices and added just the right mix of emotions.  Clay brought the characters to life, including the nasty Fox and Rat Face!

The production quality of this book was well done and clear.

Regardless of your age, this is a book that will drag you in.

Star Rating:  * * * * *

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Conquest (The Chronicles of the Invaders Book 1) by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard

Earth has been conquered with little bloodshed and is now ruled by a race of beautiful humanoids. Their control is seemingly schizophrenic, trying desperately to avoid loss of life, then being brutally cruel and even wiping out entire cities in retribution. The humans have not given up their planet and continue an unceasing campaign of resistance and rebellion.

The Illyri invaders have also conquered many different alien races and use them as servants and soldiers. But they have never met aliens so similar to themselves, nor as intellectually advanced as the human race. The Illyri are clearly far ahead of the humans technologically, but that is not much of a long term advantage. They are both fascinated and wary of humans.

Syl is the daughter of the Alien governor of Earth. Born in transit to Earth, she is Illyri, but raised on Earth and has a great affinity for humans. Her curiosity catches her in a vast web of conflict and lies, both from her people and the aliens; and she doesn’t know who to trust.

Conquest is a fast-paced story of action balanced with teenage romance and otherworldly technology. The teenage heroes are willing to do the right thing when their adult counterparts are not. The gentle Illyri is a contradiction, not wanting to harm the humans, but needing to put down the endless insurgencies, sometimes violently. The reason becomes clear at the end and would spoil the plot to reveal it here.

This is a well-crafted story with rich characters and believable technology. There is a hint of Dune in the novel, but more of a nod than any kind of derivative story. Perhaps because there are teenagers as the main characters, you could call it a young adult novel. But those are often arbitrary labels and Conquest should appeal to any SciFi lover, especially those who enjoy space opera.

The book is performed by Nicola Barber. There are many very good narrators working today, but Nicola stands above even this excellent crowd. She is magnificent, changing accents and voices with ease, male and female easily discernible. Her tone and pacing are spot on, moving the action forward, slowing when necessary and speeding up during the action, emotion oozing from her voice.  You will want to follow this talented performer and listen to other books by her. Just great.

Conquest is an enjoyable listen with a terrific performance. It doesn’t exactly break new ground plot-wise but has well-developed characters that are easy to like (and hate) with an exciting backdrop of war and intrigue. The novel wraps up the immediate action nicely but also starts the transition to the next volume.

Star Rating:  * * * * 1/2

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Spellbound and Hellhounds by Nia Rose

**An Amazing Land of Magic with Life Messages**

Review by Rox Burkey 

Nia Rose created a captivating world in the start of this series with Spellbound & Hellhounds, Coven Chronicles Book 1. This fantasy world is alive with supernatural creatures of varying degrees of good or evil powers and structures constructed of magic described to create detailed images in my mind. A balance of exploits and achievements, to witty humor captured my imagination in a one sitting listen. Yep this audible kept me seriously engaged.

Vanessa, a new member of the Coven grows up in this complex world of Raen, in the country of Aeristria, within the city Tolvade as she works to achieve her assignments to reach the next level in the Coven. Each of the magical creatures she encounters are like the woven spells of complex wards including all the colors, smells, sights, and sounds. As Vanessa works to defeat the 24 evil ones, galloping from one compromising situation after another, hellbent on succeeding to the rank of spell weaver.  Not only has Leon, an accomplished spell weaver of the same Coven, come to her rescue previously, but also saves Vanessa and Bobo from the pack of hellhounds. Leon glowered down at Vanessa with smugness earned by his sage experience, teetering on the edge of promotion to the rank of summoner. They share an unlikely partnership in Vanessa’s quest.

Bobo was my favorite, endearing ogre with an accented voice that matched perfectly to the well-developed character. He is Vanessa’s pet, protector, and confidant. His saving her – “suicidal hide on a regular basis” – is merely a taste of the tongue and cheek banter. Infused humor made me laugh aloud more than one.

Alex Goodman’s engaging pace kept my attention with clear, crisp narration, from start to finish. His transitions of voices between the characters was consistent and helped color the images of each. Alex’s voice acting was so winning that finding the pause or stop button was impossible.

I highly recommend Spellbound & Hellhound for those who want to be taken to a magic land of fantasy this series for those who enjoy a fantasy of magic

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Sam Green and the WhipEye Great Ones by Geoffrey Saign

Sam Green is a young girl hurting from the recent passing of her mother and isolation due to her father’s grief.  Seeking sympathy, she confides her feelings to a pet store parrot, Charlie.  Then the unthinkable happens and Sam finds herself thrust into a mystery and adventure that’s outcome rests on her shoulders. Then, Jake, her cute neighbor, becomes entwined in the adventure and together they help the Great Ones face off with the evil shopkeeper guardian who wants to kill Charlie for his magical powers.

Given a magical staff, Whipeye, Sam and Jake together must discover its secret powers, so they can defeat the evil creatures released by Magnar, the shopkeeper guardian, and defeat his plans as well.

Geoffrey Saign has created an adventure that is mesmerizing!  Vividly described, Saign has created a world that lures listeners of all ages in.  The story flows naturally and with ease; this is one of those rare books where the listener can sit back and enjoy it.  The characters have realistic qualities and personalities and depth that allows the listener to relate to them.

The audiobook allows one to hear Sam’s pain, Jake’s confusion, and angst and the evilness of the shopkeeper guardian.  While it’s not an emotional rollercoaster, one cannot help but feel the emotions.  There are multiple layers to the story.  There are no dull moments, it’s action and forward-moving from beginning to end.  The only thing difficult about this audiobook … is shutting it off before the end.

I highly recommend this book – it is the first in a series.  It is fascinating, entertaining as well as engaging!

The narrator, Lauren Holladay performed the story perfectly making each character unique.  She kept the story moving smoothly adding the appropriate amount of enthusiasm and doubt and anger and fear.  Holladay’s voice was calming and pleasurable to hear.

There were no issues with the production or quality of this audiobook.

Star Rating:  * * * * 1/2

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You’re Going To Mars by Rob Dircks

Triplets named Paper, Rock and Scissors live in Fill City One with their father and grandmother.  Paper’s dream is to go to Mars someday.   Good news for Paper!  Zach Larson, a private entrepreneur is funding a private trip to Mars.  For one lucky person who competes on his TV game show and wins!  Much like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Paper has to find the much sought-after prize, a red scarab.  If she’s lucky enough to find a winning scarab, she has to escape Fill City One; ride over 2,000 miles with her absentee mother, then she has to compete in Larson’s live TV show for three months and beat out 25 other contestants. Can she do it?  Thing is Paper is smart and strong but she’s not without feelings.  She has to decide to what depths she will sink to get to Mars …

Rob Dircks, the author, gives his audience an action-packed adventure full of twists and emotional highs and lows. Dircks creates characters that he gives depth to and cultivates them into likable (and hate-able) beings.

The plot is well structured and solid.  Each character is realistic as is the dialog.  The reactions of his characters are spot on as well.  Dircks has carefully and delightfully constructed a memorable story.  I would love to see it filmed!

I got this audiobook two days ago and I finished it within the 48 hours I had it.  It is captivating, interesting and creative.  I could not put it down!

Khristine Hvam performed the audiobook excellently!  She was comfortable with the story and characters, she made the audiobook pleasant and memorable as well.  This is the first time I have heard her; she is perfect!

I loved it this book.  I enjoyed the different messes Paper found herself; I found the emotional discoveries she made were insightful and at times painful.  This is an audiobook I will listen to again and again!

There were no issues with the quality or production of this audiobook.

Star Rating:  * * * * *

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Struck by Rachel Langley

Imagine being in love with your soul mate and everyone in your world knows it.  Then waking up the next morning only to discover your world is no more; everything has changed; everyone is … just gone.  Laney and her twin, Leela, travel to a distant place to try to set things right and rescue their friends/family but to do so means traveling in the light, a powerful and dangerous journey with a most uncertain outcome!  The girls are faced with serious consequences as they move forward with their plan, it becomes clear that not everyone will be coming home.

Rachel Langley, the author, weaves a delicate story of love and compassion, intrigue and betrayal, and morality.  The dialog, action, emotions are all genuinely young adult and realistic.   Langley builds each character slowly with detail both physically and emotionally.  There were a few twists that made the story more moving and exciting.  The story, the characters all flowed smoothly.  I liked the way in which we heard from both of the twins – seeing their perspective was satisfying.

The narrator, Jelyne Helms performed the audiobook wonderfully.  Her voices were realistic and comforting – just the perfect pitch and tone for each character.  She read the book comfortably and seemed very familiar with it.  Her tone and inflection gave weight to her characters sounding appropriate ages.  Plus she captured the personality of Leela and Laney perfectly.

There was only one small minor glitch in the publication.  Otherwise, the production quality of this audiobook was top-notch.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Struck.  I hope to hear the second part of this series.  I want to see how things play out.  The cliffhanger was perfectly timed and presented.

 

Star Rating:  * * * * ½

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The Mage Destinies (Path of the Daydreamer) by Brett Galen

Review by Rox Burkey

This is a fun, intriguing young adult fantasy centered around the Colvin family who is made up of a widow, Tempest, and her teenagers. The focus is on the siblings, Bradley and Tessa, as they begin to realize their magic abilities, yet keep them secret from one another. How they are involved in some of the overarching issues and crimes occurring in town becomes interesting as the story progresses. Teenagers have so many things to deal with during high school – intense classes, discovering new feelings, and learning how to become adults.

Brett Galen creates a complete world that feels like hometown USA, with a subtle magical aura that makes it believable. Each character is well-developed, in a small town containing all the elements teenagers explore as they grow up.

Bradley, Mr. Atomic Avenger, seems to have learned some of his abilities in advance of his sister. The anticipation increases when Tessa hears a voice in her head that seems to be her but is unexplainable. Tessa is a daydreamer who sometimes lets her imagination take her into a different world. The idea of being a Mage is confusing, as Tessa learns she can manipulate energy at the atomic level at the same time she learns her future is at risk. Coming to grips with the reality of being magical is something difficult to share with friends or siblings. This makes it an intriguing hard to put down story.

The dialogue is spot-on for teens today, totally appealing. The combination of descriptions, compelling conversations, and the evolving storyline is brought to life by the narration. The twists and turns that occur in this story kept me totally engaged through to the surprise ending.

As a perfect Young Adult story narrator, Julie T Kinn brings a balanced cadence to the story. This fast-paced story moves delightfully forward with Julie’s light-hearted rendition, especially when speaking as Tessa. Kinn makes this fantasy come to life with the various, distinctive character voices woven into this delightful adventure.

As an adult, I totally enjoyed the story start to finish listening to a delightful narrator. I can easily recommend this fantasy as well-suited to teens and young adults; boys or girls. The rest of the series is expected to be just as compelling.

 

Star Rating:  * * * * *

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