Archive for the ‘Young Adult’ Category

Book Review – The Case of the Missing Marquess (An Enola Holmes Mystery) by Nancy Springer (@NancySpringer)

November 18, 2019 Leave a comment

The Case of the Missing Marquess (An Enola Holmes Mystery) by Nancy Springer

Book Description:

When Enola Holmes, sister to the detective Sherlock Holmes, discovers her mother has disappeared, she quickly embarks on a journey to London in search of her. But nothing can prepare her for what awaits. Because when she arrives, she finds herself involved in the kidnapping of a young marquess, fleeing murderous villains, and trying to elude her shrewd older brothers—all while attempting to piece together clues to her mother’s strange disappearance. Amid all the mayhem, will Enola be able to decode the necessary clues and find her mother?


The Case of the Missing Marquess (An Enola Holmes Mystery) by Nancy Springer is the first book in a series of books about the adventures of Enola Holmes (younger sister of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes). Enola doesn’t really exist in the series by Arthur Conan Doyle, making this an AU (alternative universe) fan fiction. Hopefully the young readers (who this book is geared towards) become curious enough to check out the classic series after reading this.

This book is an Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery nominee (2007), so I had high expectations. Unfortunately, I found the mystery in The Case of the Missing Marquess quite lacking and not really resolved emotionally. A mother who abandons her 14-year-old daughter, because she is a “free spirit”, is just despicable in my book and this main plot left me a bad taste in the mouth. Moreover, the secondary mystery is really mostly resolved by “convenient” coincidences.

Anyway, *** SPOILER *** the runaway Enola somehow succeeds in passing herself off as a private detective in Victorian-era London in the epilogue. I’m not quite sure how she managed that, given a time jump and lack of explanation. One moment, Enola’s a naive and unworldly teenager out of her depth in London and the next, she has established confident independent alter-ego(s) for herself.

I understand the appeal of a smart, young, rebellious, non-conformist heroine though, and maybe, the movie adaptation starring Millie Bobbie Brown will surprise me. I can certainly see this young actress pulling off the role of a precocious young Victorian girl, and given that she is British in real-life, would give Enola a “british-voice” not really apparent in the book (Enola comes off really American actually) .

RATING: ☆  ☆

The Case of the Missing Marquess (An Enola Holmes Mystery) by Nancy Springer (Puffin Books) is available on Amazon and other bookstores (B&N Nookbook, Kobo books, iBooks, Book Depository)


Book Review – The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (@RickYancey)

January 2, 2015 Leave a comment

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Book Description:

An Amazon Best Teen Book of the Month, May 2013 Spotlight Pick
The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.


Rick Yancey is the author of the excellent Monstrumologist series which I love, but I staved off reading this new series, mostly due to my ‘post-apocalyptic / dystopian books’ fatigue. But the sequel has been released (The Infinite Sea: The Second Book of the 5th Wave), so it was time for me to dive in!

The 5th Wave is about a hostile alien invasion of earth, and it starts out really creepy, with a ‘being’ visiting a sleeping pregnant woman and ‘inserting’ an alien consciousness within the fetus. Then, the countdown begins. (cue the music).

The book starts up again after the so-called ‘4th wave’ of the invasion, and is told mostly from the point of view of shell-shocked teenager Cassie (who fears she is the last person on earth). To my surprise, I found that I liked Cassie (I usually don’t like the YA heroines I’ve read so far). She had all the irritating teenage girl qualities (especially her tendency to moon over good-looking boys), but I don’t know – Rick Yancey managed to wrap her up in teflon or something – I was really rooting for her. I liked her sarcasm, guts and never-say-die attitude. I suspect though that part of why she didn’t wear out her welcome was that Rick Yancey, (wisely) chose not to tell the entire story from her POV.

The 5th Wave is also told from the POV of a teenage boy nicknamed Zombie, who has been conscripted into a ‘child army’ – whipped into fighting shape ostensibly to defeat the elements of the ‘4th wave’ – the ‘alien-infested’ humans who are busily wiping out what’s left of humanity after the previous ‘waves’.  Zombie is the leader of a rag-tag squadron, whose littlest member is (coincidentally) Sammy – Cassie’s little brother.

And more coincidence (!), Zombie happens to be Ben Parish – Cassie’s unrequited crush back in her previous life. But the requisite teen romance (because there has to be one – it’s like written in law or something) in The 5th Wave isn’t between Cassie and Zombie. Mysterious good (or bad?) guy Evan rescues a wounded Cassie, and they quickly fall in love while Cassie is recuperating under Evan’s care. Personally, I found Evan to be stalker-ish (even Cassie commented on this), but apparently, all that laser-beam intensity is an irresistible quality in a man. (Example – My girl friends who have read the book are in love with Evan – insert eye-roll here).

The 5th Wave ends strong with good action sequences AND on emotional cliff-hangers (the fate of one main character up in the air, other characters may be mortally wounded), so I’m darn glad that I already own book two!

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (Putnam Juvenile/Penguin Group) is available on Amazon and other bookstores.

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Book Review – The Curse of the Wendigo (Monstrumologist #2) by Rick Yancey

September 20, 2013 Leave a comment

The Curse of the Wendigo (Monstrumologist #2) by Rick Yancey

Book Description:

Rick Yancey’s first gothic suspense tale, The Monstrumologist, earned him a prestigious Michael L. Printz Award. The second installment of this acclaimed series, Curse of the Wendigo, finds young Will Henry on the hunt for a supernatural beast plaguing New England in the late 1800s.

Will and his mentor, the domineering Dr. Warthrop, are enlisted to help the doctor’s former fiancée. It seems her husband has been lost in the Canadian wilderness. And to make matters worse, there are reports that a Wendigo – a creature who gorges on human flesh – is on the loose.


I found Rick Yancey’s gothic horror story The Monstrumologist to be pretty bloody brilliant, so the second book in the series certainly had a lot to live up to.  And live up it did (although my favorite is still the first book). Do you want something scary to read tonight that will keep you up, keep you turning the pages in suspense, fire up your adrenaline? Add this to your TBR list (but if you haven’t yet, read book #1 first!)

Just a note though – while I think Curse of the Wendigo is an EXCELLENT sequel (serving up new monsters with a great heaping side of blood and gore, plus trips to the Canadian wilderness and 1800 Victorian New York) and I’d highly recommend it to any “mature” literary horror fan,  I really don’t think it should be marketed to young readers. Yes, the hero in the book is a 12-year-old orphan, but the situations he and his guardian Dr. Warthrop find themselves in are truly horrifying.  Stomach churning-, nightmare inducing- horrifying.

Maybe the problem is that Rick Yancey is such an amazing writer – the setting, the rich (aka gruesome) imagery, the atmosphere, the dialogue, the characters all felt very intense and real. If this book were a movie, I’d be watching it through my fingers – wincing at certain scenes (i.e. the autopsy scene!) while scared out of my mind (but loving every minute, mind you.) It’s very graphic & violent (in a literary Dickensian way), and terrible things happen to a lot of innocent people, and no wonder young Will was a traumatized mess in the end!

Once I’ve recovered, Book #3 The Isle of Blood next!

Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) is available on Amazon, B&N Nook, Kobo books and iTunes iBooks.

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Book Review – I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: The Search for Sam by Pittacus Lore

August 10, 2013 Leave a comment

Book Description:

Before Number Four, there were One, Two, and Three. Until now we’ve only known that the Mogadorians caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. But all of that is about to change. . . .

In this heart-racing companion novella to the New York Times bestselling I Am Number Four series, discover what happened to Malcolm Goode — the one human on Earth who can help the Garde learn the truth about their past and help them save our planet.

No one has seen Sam Goode’s father, Malcolm, since he mysteriously disappeared years ago. Sam had always fantasized that he was abducted by aliens. But that was before he knew the truth: aliens do exist, and some of them seek to destroy our world. That was before he himself became another one of their captives. Now father and son are both missing. . . .

But when a rogue Mogadorian named Adam, who now has Number One’s memories, decides the only way to make up for his past atrocities is to return home and infiltrate the Mogadorian stronghold, he’ll find the key to saving both Sam and Malcolm’s life.


I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: The Search for Sam picks up almost immediately from the cliffhanger where The Lost Files: The Fallen Legacies left off. The events in The Search for Sam eventually parallel the last part of The Rise of Nine (the 3rd novel-length book in the series), but it’s not necessary that you’ve read The Rise of Nine first.

In the previous novella The Fallen Legacies, the Mogadorian-with-a-heart-of-gold Adam was left for dead by his father and brother… and since Adam is pretty much the only likable character I’ve met in the series, I was plenty glad that his character survived to live another day. Honestly, if he had died, I would have just given up on the series. The Rise of Nine was so bad, with the surviving Garde continuing to act like spoiled immature idiots and the main Mogadorian villain Setrakus Ra turned out to be so lame. At this point, I’m pretty much only interested in finding out what happens to Adam next.

Adam continues to be a character I can root for, at least, and there’s some interesting developments in this novella about his relationship with the long-dead Garde One whose memories Adam shares after the mind-meld experiment in  The Fallen Legacies. I’m glad that Adam’s character continues to grow and mature, and maybe, he’s also a favorite character of the writers… since he’s really written much better, more defined, than the other Garde characters.

It’s kind of misleading to have titled this The Search for Sam though, since the novella is pretty much still Adam’s story, even though we do meet Sam’s missing dad Malcolm Goode. So, fans of the Sam character may be a bit disappointed since he doesn’t even figure in the story until the very last pages.

At any rate, this one ends in another cliffhanger as to Adam’s fate, and was much too short besides. I really wish that the author (s) had just combined the Lost Files stories into one book, or at least, Adam’s story into one full length novel. His story is definitely the most interesting for me in the I Am Number Four universe.

I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: The Search for Sam by Pittacus Lore is available on Amazon as a Kindle Edition ($3.99).

You can also get the ebook at B&N, Kobo, Sony and the Apple iBookstore.

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Book Review – The Paparazzi Project by Kristina Springer (@TinaSpringer)

May 18, 2013 Leave a comment

The Paparazzi Project by Kristina Springer

Book Description:

Livvie Peterson thought taking Interpersonal Communications her junior year would be an easy A. But when the first assignment is given, her world flips upside down. Here’s the deal: the class is assigned a six-week project and is split into three groups— Paparazzi, Tabloid, and Celebrities. The Paparazzi follow around the Celebrities taking pictures and grabbing any kind of quotes they can. The Celebrities try to navigate being tailed on a daily basis. And the Tabloid receives all the information collected by the Paparazzi and decides what makes the weekly summary report. Sounds harmless…and it’s all just pretend anyway, right?

Livvie is assigned as Paparazzi and when she is matched up with the über -cute Chas Montgomery as her Tabloid boss she’s pretty sure things couldn’t get much better. Livvie’s uncanny ability to capture the Celebrities in compromising photos matched with Chas’s skill of exaggerating captions and editing the photos make them an unstoppable team. And the long hours working side by side with Chas aren’t a bad bonus.

Livvie simultaneously launches an anonymous blog, leaking the class’ photos and stories on the Internet. Her rising follower number quickly becomes addicting and she possibly spills too much information online. Once she finds her own celebrity will she be able to give it back? And will Chas be gone before she ever has the chance to find out?


First thing – I know it’s terrible to judge books by their covers, but I almost passed this one up due to the terribly unappealing cover.

I’m glad I still read it, though, since I ended up being thoroughly charmed by The Paparazzi Project. Reading this tale of a unique Paparazzi/Tabloid/Celebrity roleplay school assignment taken too far made me wish that I was one of the kids participating in it 🙂 Now, why didn’t we get cool projects like this back then?!

I really liked Kristina Springer’s writing style too – it’s very light, funny and breezy, but not too flippant. And she managed to make her main character Livvie Peterson real and likable, even when Livvie was getting in way over her head as a paparazzi (in her quest to out-scoop her classmates), and started crossing some major TMZ red lines with her anonymous gossip blog.

For those who like a little romance in their stories, there is a touch of that here with Livvie and her tabloid partner Chas. But for me, the appeal in the book really was the school project and how it impacted Livvie and her classmates.

I really wouldn’t hesitate to recommend The Paparazzi Project to young readers. It’s a quick read, the characters are likable and it teaches some good lessons (without being preachy). It’s a fun change from the glut of uber violent, angsty YA books that are out.

(*One note though, I thought that the Interpersonal Communications teacher Mrs B was a terrible (or terribly written?) character, particularly about how she just washed her hands off the whole thing and didn’t take responsibility for her students in the end. I just wished that Ms Springer had written her to be better than a dead-beat teacher.)

The Paparazzi Project by Kristina Springer (Self-Pub) is available on Amazon and B&N.

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Book Review – Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal by Chris Colfer @chriscolfer

March 2, 2013 1 comment

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal by Chris Colfer

Book Description:

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal follows the story of outcast high school senior Carson Phillips who blackmails the most popular students in his school into contributing to his literary journal to bolster his college application; his goal in life is to get into Northwestern and eventually become the editor of The New Yorker.

At once laugh-out-loud funny, deliciously dark, and remarkably smart, Struck By Lightning unearths the dirt that lies just below the surface of high school.

The film Struck By Lightning features Colfer’s own original screenplay. Colfer also stars in the film alongside Allison Janney, Christina Hendricks, Dermot Mulroney, Sarah Hyland, and Polly Bergen.


I haven’t watched the film Struck By Lightning yet, but after reading the book version of Struck By Lightning, I’m definitely planning on renting it. What can I say, I liked the dark, sarcastic humor and I even liked the antihero antisocial main character of Carson Phillips.

This is a kid who has only this to say when his dad abandons the family and his mom breaks down in the front yard:

“Thank God for the sprinklers; otherwise she might have been out there all night.”

Yeah, that was cold, but it told me right out the bat what to expect from the character. Carson is like that cartoon character who had a rain cloud following him around. So, fair warning, this is not a happy book (even though it is funny). Carson is one sad, lonely, bitter kid, and it doesn’t end well for him. (I don’t think that’s a spoiler, since the movie’s trailer pretty much gave the ending away.)

To be honest, I was very surprised by how much I ended up liking the book (given how I couldn’t go through even just the first three chapters of Chris Colfer’s debut effort The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell). That one was pretty terrible, and really disappointed me.

This time around, I started reading the first chapter of Struck By Lightning and thought – hmmm… surprise, surprise… this is pretty good… I don’t hate the character… the writing is far from the stilted and awkward I was expecting… I’m actually laughing at the right places…  In short, I plowed through the book in one go and then promptly recommended it to a friend of mine.

The book is far from perfect, mind you – Colfer has a tendency to ‘tell us’ readers what happens instead of  just ‘showing us’.  Also, the secondary characters were treated pretty superficially (I wanted to know more about Carson’s only maybe-friend Malerie Baggs, for example) and the middle part of the book when Carson has a breakdown of sorts and ended up blackmailing people felt really rushed to me.

Overall though, Struck By Lightning is a book that I can comfortably recommend and not just to Colfer’s GLEE fans. If you like a bit of twisted, dark humor in your books, and you don’t mind revisiting the horrors of high-school, be sure to give this one a chance. Read a sample and see if it resonates with you too!

Note: Unlike Colfer’s first book, this one isn’t for kids. There’s some strong language in the book and there’s sex (not graphic).

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal by Chris Colfer (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) is available on Amazon, B&N Nook, Kobo books, Google Books and iTunes iBooks.

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Indie Saturday – Author James Wharton on his books and writing philosophies @jamesmwharton

November 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Today, we have author James Wharton featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘.

James Wharton writes:

Real life is stranger than fiction. That’s the premise on which I work when I’m writing.

My name is James Wharton and I have written ten books in three entirely different genres.

Historical fiction has brought the most success with recently published The Destiny Project topping the sales list with over three thousand e-books in the last two months. I write that with great humility because just one person buying one of my books is thrilling and gratifying.

The Destiny Project was the result of an idea about the role of women in World War Two, specifically, the WASPs, Women Airforce Service Pilots. Their job was to fly bombers, fighter planes and every other kind of plane, ferrying them to different destinations around the country. Unlike today, these women weren’t in the military and couldn’t fly combat missions. But, what if unknown to everyone, they did fly secret, ultra-dangerous missions?

Hence, The Destiny Project:

“An ancient artifact with powerful secrets, a rogue government agency and a Nazi nuclear weapons factory cause the lives of two women from different times to spin out of control. World War II ended in 1945, but a bizarre incident on an American bomber on a forgotten raid over Germany now threatens the security of the United States.”

Oh, did I mention there is a bit of time-travel involved?

“In the present time school teacher Kate Darron’s bad day gets much worse when a strange woman wearing clothes from another era knocks on her apartment door. Kate is troubled that the woman seems to know every detail of her life. “Who are you?” Kate asks. “Think of me as the fairy godmother of death,” the woman replies. “You shall be dead in less than half an hour.”

The Destiny Project II will be published in 2013.

Detour is a second historical fiction novel which has also enjoyed substantial sales.

“Peter Krause is a German physics professor in 1935. David Kelly is an American history professor in 2010. In the closing days of World War Two, Adolf Hitler retreated to his Furherbunker in Berlin. Surrounded by thousands of Russian troops, no escape was possible. Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945. The world, including David, has long accepted this fact. Peter Krause was there when it happened. He knows Hitler’s death is a lie. In the present time Lomasi Goodwater, a beautiful Navajo shaman, is haunted by visions of a coming nuclear holocaust.”

Did I mention time travel is involved?

The Jaguar Queen, the first book in the Arizona Sheriff Jimmy Harris series, was just published. It is an action story, a tale of passionate love and tells of otherworldly secrets.

“The paths of an ancient Mayan queen, a sheriff haunted by a troubled past and a beautiful cartel boss intersect when the violence of the Mexican drug wars spills across the border into Staunton, Arizona. While Sheriff Jimmy Harris grapples with the murder of a United States Senator’s son, the violence spins out of control and a daughter he has never met is suddenly thrown in harm’s way.
As Jimmy Harris pursues the beautiful but dangerous cartel boss, he is increasingly attracted to her and forced to confront the shadowy boundary between good and evil. All the while, the mysterious loner Indian Joe prowls the fringes of reality.”

The second genre in which I write is humor.

The Deluxe UFO Tour Company, (not sci-fi) is the first novel in The Empyrean Arizona series. The second, Invasion of the Moon Women, will be published in December this year (2012). Voyeurs, a brief humorous book (actually a long short story) is about the Russian Intelligence Agency and the man who runs it who also happens to be the world’s worst boss. That he drinks lots of vodka and steals his employees’ wives are the least of his faults. I have also published two humorous short story collections, Strange Breakfast and Other Humorous Morsels and Ghost Pets, the latter being quite insane.

I have also published two short story collections dealing with ghosts. They are Ghosts of the Grand Canyon Country and Ghosts of Arizona’s Tonto National Forest. Most of these stories were inspired by actual events.

On his writing philosophies…

My writing philosophy is first and foremost “follow the story.” The story and its characters will take the writer where they intend to go. As an example, when I first planned to write The Destiny Project, I thought it would be a natural to have the main characters be a man and a woman in love. But, that is not the way the story wrote itself. The story shouted out that two women should be the lead characters. While that seemed unusual and definitely out of the mainstream, I couldn’t write it any other way.

“Kate Darron and Bebe Beardsley are forced to undertake a terrifying mission across continents and time, one on which survival is not an option.”

The second part of my philosophy is to not release a book for publication until I am convinced that I did everything in my power to write the best book possible. Once a book is “out there,” an author is judged by it alone. If that book is the first exposure a reader has to an author’s writing, he will judge the author by the quality of that book. If the quality is good, hopefully that reader will read another of that author’s books. If the writing quality is bad…..well, you get the picture.

Lastly, respect the reader’s time. The reader made a commitment to purchase a book. The least the author should provide is an enjoyable, fulfilling experience. When the reader finishes the book and can say, “I really liked that book,” the author has done his job. That is what I aim for with every book I write. It is also where I get the most gratification. I am flattered when a reader buys one of my books, but I am delighted when a reader tells me he or she really enjoyed one of my books. I got an e-mail from a reader just last night telling me how much he enjoyed The Destiny Project. Then he asked, “When may I expect a sequel?” That made my day!

You can check out James Wharton’s Amazon Author’s page for more info!

To learn more about James, follow James on his official website: JamesWharton.Net, Twitter: @jamesmwharton and Facebook: jameswharton. Drop by and say hi!


Do you want to be a featured ‘Indie Saturday’ author too? Go here for more info!

Read an embedded sample from “The Destiny Project” after the jump!

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Indie Saturday – Author Lola StVil on her “Guardians” Series @guardiansgirl

October 27, 2012 2 comments

Today, we have author Lola StVil featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for her paranormal “Guardians” Series.

Lola StVil writes :

First, I would like to thank Randomizeme for allowing me to guest host.

I wanted to talk about writing Fantasy.

The best part about this genre is that you can still be a kid. You remember running around your house with a cape “flying?” Well with fantasy, you never have to take the cape off.

You can build worlds and planets. You can leap skyscrapers, make love potions and even save the world.

When I wrote book 1 of this series, there was so much action and adventure, my feet never touched the ground. I’m hoping you will feel the same way.

The first novel in my “Guardians” series is called “The Girl.” It centers around Emmy – a bookish, witty student who is rescued by six teenaged angels with powers, called Guardians. They’ve been sent to elicit the secret from her before the demons can; a secret hidden so deep, Emmy doesn’t even realize she knows it.

Things get worse when Emmy falls madly in love with Marcus, the well-intentioned but obstinate leader of the Guardians. He eventually confesses that he is in love with her as well. Unfortunately, Marcus has been warned by his clairvoyant and omniscient guide that should he and Emmy get together, the mission will fail and humanity will perish.

So, it’s okay if you are like me and can’t leap tall buildings and have no superpowers. Don’t worry. You can still save the world.

Lola St. Vil

Feel free to stalk me: )

Lola StVil’s Guardians series are all available on Amazon in Kindle format. Book 1, Book 2 and Book 3

You can also check out Lola StVil’s Amazon Author’s page for more info!

More author links!

Lola StVil’s Blog: and Twitter: @guardiansgirl


Do you want to be a featured ‘Indie Saturday’ author too? Go here for more info!

Read an embedded sample of “Guardians: The Girl” after the jump!

Read more…

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