“The Girl” Madhuri Blaylock

November 20, 2014 3 comments

Rated 4 stars **** ebook. (Also available in paperback). 2014. The Sanctum, book #1. Lucy Publishing (Amazon Digital Services.)

TheGirlDev is half demon and half angel, and has been living in India while training to be a warrior. For years her parents have been in hiding from The Sanctum, a group of families called The Circle of Ten, who believe Dev will destroy their way of life. They have ordered Dev be killed on sight and, when they succeed in killing her family, Dev vows revenge on all Sanctum.

The Clayworth family is in charge of The Sanctum’s New York Academy where Wyatt, his sister Jools and his best friend Ryker learned their warrior skills. Wyatt and Ryker hold opposing views of the role The Sanctum plays in their lives. The gods created The Sanctum to protect humans and magicals (trolls, vampires, fairies, etc.), yet their original purpose is long gone because of one founding family’s lust for greed and power. Despite Wyatt’s and Ryker’s differences of opinion in what The Sanctum means to each other and to society, they are inseparable in their love and friendship for each other.

When Wyatt stumbles upon Dev after she escaped The Sanctum’s attack, their lives are forever changed. Little do they know the love they feel for each other, and the invisible bond that ties them together, will lead them onto paths neither had ever expected to travel. It is only a matter of time until they change the lives of all they hold dear.

I received this book to review from the Diverse Book Tours blog, and was a little leery since it was self-published. Readers of my blog know how squeamish I get around self-published books. However I am happy to report there were relatively few grammatical errors and, despite having many similarities to Cassandra Clare’s “Infernal Devices” series, the storyline was very interesting. I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen next to Dev and Wyatt, as their star crossed lives seemed destined for heartache from the beginning.

In addition “The Girl” developed strong female characters through the persons of Dev, Jools and the vampire Darby showing them as well trained fighters who remained one hundred percent female and were not dependent on a man to complete their lives.

I was not happy with the title of the book, as Dev is not a girl. She is a strong, independent woman and I wanted a title which reflected that image. I also didn’t like the cover, as I would have preferred to see a photo of Dev, Jools and Darby in action ready to show readers all that a woman can be. I look forward to reading part 2 of the series “The Boy.” 

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Blues for Zoey” Robert Paul Weston

November 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. To be published February 2015 by Flux. (Originally published by Penguin Books Canada 2014.)

BluesForZoeyKaz Barrett misses his father, who died of a sudden heart attack, and is worried for his little sister who doesn’t seem to be coping well with his mother’s rare sleeping sickness, which reduces her to a zombielike state. He has been working hard after school and over the summer to get her treated at a sleep clinic, but is still $2000 short of his $12,000 goal.

With so much on his mind, and with light at the end of his long, financial tunnel, Kaz has no idea what awaits him the day he meets beautiful Zoey and her strange cross-like instrument. Suddenly his feelings for her over ride common sense, and Kaz finds himself involved in something mysterious and painful that will forever change his life.

Weston’s book of love and betrayal will keep readers glued to its pages as they ride Kaz’s emotional rollercoaster alongside him.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Alice & Freda forever: A murder in Memphis” Alexis Coe

November 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Rated 4 stars **** Pulp (Zest Books). 2014. 223 pp. Includes “Appendix,” “Bibliography,” “Notes,” and an “Index.”

Alice&FredaForeverI was asked to participate in the “True Stories Fall Blog Tour,” put on by Zest Books, where you can see lots of other information on this great book.

In 1892 nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell, fine upstanding citizen of Memphis, Tennessee, committed an unfathomable crime against her seventeen-year-old ex-fiancée. In a fit of passion, she brutally slashed Freda Ward’s throat on a public street in front of witnesses.

Before the murder Alice had planned to impersonate a man so she and Freda could marry, move away, and live together as a couple. When their plan was discovered their families forbade them from any interaction, but Alice was obsessed. Freda seemed uninterested in restoring their relationship, appearing to be in love with several men, causing Alice to become extremely jealous and determined that no one could have Freda if she couldn’t be the one to marry her.

What made this crime so sensational was that lesbianism was not socially acceptable in 1892, and the social mores of the time dictated Alice would have had to be insane to entertain such impure thoughts towards another woman.

Using an impressive array of primary and secondary sources, Coe uses Alice and Freda’s love letters, newspaper accounts of the day, and other sources to walk readers through their disastrous love story. The events leading up to Freda’s murder, and Alice’s insanity trial are also thoroughly investigated.

Coe’s historical research allows readers to “see” the Memphis of 1892 including its civil rights violations, crooked politics, amazingly inaccurate medical theories and the ways in which Alice’s case was decided by the media rather than the courts. The turmoil faced by Alice and Freda for their love over 100 years ago will long resound with her readers.

Recommended for ages 18 and older.

“No longer a Slumdog: Bringing hope to children in crisis” K.P. Yohannan

November 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Rated 3 stars *** 2011. GFA Books. 166 p. (Includes an FAQ section, “Believe it or Not” statistics and “Notes.”)

NoLongerASlumdogDrawing comparisons between the poverty of children seen in the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” and their own real life experiences, author Yohannan takes readers through the caste system of India which causes extreme distress to be the lot of the Dalit (Untouchables), members of the lowest rung of India’s social system. His focus in writing this book is to describe the life of the impoverished children from this caste, and to tell how they found help through a relief agency he founded called Gospel for Asia. As these children tell their personal stories of homelessness, poverty, prostitution, discrimination and murder, it is difficult to maintain a dry eye in the face of their pain and sadness.

“No longer a Slumdog” incorporates statistics telling of the number of Dalit children sold into slavery, prostitution or forced to live their lives in the streets, as well as their personal stories, to reach its readers. The 60,000 children they have helped over the past 35 years through giving them food, clothing, schooling and education have been saved from their former street lives, and are no longer slumdogs, yet remain a drop in the bucket compared to the millions more Dalit children which still remain to be rescued from their lives of poverty and discrimination.

Recommended for Adult readers.

“There’s a name for this feeling: Stories/Hay un nombre para lo que siento: Cuentos” Diane Gonzales Betrand

November 12, 2014 Leave a comment

Rated 4 stars **** Piñata Books (Arte Público Press) 72 p. (Includes “Ideas for Conversation,” and “Ideas for Writing”)

TheresANameForThisFeelingIn these 10 short stories, readers are introduced to various characters trying to find their way through circumstances life has thrown at them.

These stories span the range of teen feelings and, though short, are ones to which readers will be able to relate. There is an emotion and a story for every reader, making “There’s a name for this feeling” an excellent choice for your reluctant reader as well as for any tween or teen.

Recommended for readers aged 12-16.

“Unmarked” Kami Garcia

November 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. ARC. Published September 30, 2014. The Legion, Book #2. Little Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group.)

UnmarkedAfter recovering from injuries sustained in “Unbreakable,” Kennedy has been sent to live in a boarding school but can’t stop thinking about Jared and wondering who is the fifth member of the Legion. Nightmares keep her awake at night while Andras, the demon she loosed upon the world, is trying to get to her through them. Rescued from the school by Jared, Priest, Lukas, Alara and her best friend Elle they begin scrambling to find her missing Aunt who may hold the key to containing Andras.

Murder of innocent people and chaos seems to have become the new world order with Andras leading the way. Before they know it, Kennedy’s aunt has been murdered and Andras is hot on their trail. Rescued by members of the Illuminati, they are unsure if they should believe what they have to say but are united in their attempts to rid the world of Andras.

Unfortunately Andras has no desire to leave, and will soon set into play a chain of events which will leave Kennedy’s heart broken. It is only a matter of time before the life she had known after meeting Jared will be forever changed.

The second book in the Legion series is just as exciting as part one. I was unable to put it down, continually turning pages to see what would happen next to Kennedy, Jared and the rest of the group. The cliffhanger ending made me chomp at the bit to read part 3 but, as of this writing, no one seems to know when it will be released. ARGH!

Recommended for readers aged 14 and older.

“Muerte en Una Estrella/Shooting Star” Sergio D. Elizondo

November 9, 2014 Leave a comment

Rated 4 stars **** Arte Público Press. 2014. 310 p. (First published in Spanish in 1984 by Tinta Negra Editores, this 2014 version contains both the original Spanish version and the English translation).

MuerteEnUnaEstrellaShootingStarIn 1968, sixteen-year-old Oscar Balboa and nineteen-year-old Valentín Rodríguez were shot in the back and killed by several Texas policemen. With a dreamlike quality, Elizondo takes readers through Oscar and Valentín’s rambling thoughts as they lay dying in the field where they fell.

Oscar and Valentín had recently arrived at Camp Gary to learn new, employable skills that would help them escape the difficult, poor paying migrant worker lives of their parents. They soon became inseparable. Valentín had a protective “big brother” outlook towards Oscar and big dreams to make something of his life. Oscar was a dreamer who loved Valentín and classical music, and was desperate to escape the fields. He was sure there was more to life than what he was experiencing, and envisioned himself in a whole new world.

Oscar and Valentín’s memories and experiences speak about the heavy prejudice and police brutality they and others experienced in Texas, while bringing readers alongside César Chávez as he worked to improve migrant worker’s lives. “Shooting Star” opens reader’s eyes to a time in Chicano history which has been largely unknown or forgotten, but is still relevant today.

Recommended for Adult readers.

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