Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Archive for the category “Book Reviews – Renee”

After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga

After the Red RainLife as we know it has ended in this thrilling book, “After the Red Rain”. Wars, pollution and other unnamed disasters have blocked the sun and because of this, our planet is dying. There are no natural forms of plant or animal life, excluding humans, left on the planet and as a result, we are destined for extinction.

Our heroine, Deedra is doing the best she can to survive in this new and terrifying world. Having been born in this dark time, she doesn’t know that life could be any better.  That is until she sees the most perfect and Beautiful Boy named Rose, trying to cross the river into her district.  Rose is as mysterious as he is beautiful and Deedra is immediately drawn to him. The two become unlikely friends and discover that not everything is as it seems.

After the murder of the magistrate’s son, Rose becomes the prime suspect. They fight to prove Rose’s innocence and for their survival. In the process, they stumble across the government’s darkest secret imaginable. With this new knowledge, they are forced to act to save what is left of the world.

This is a fast paced book with surprises around every corner. I loved the way the author proposed the terrifying idea about our bleak future without plants. This is a very real issue in today’s world and it really makes you think “what if?”

Extremely well done and I look forward to a sequel!

– Renee

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Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Circus MirandusBrought together through the death of his parents, Micah has spent several blissful years with his Grandpa Ephraim; to Micah, grandpa is all anyone could ask for. He regales young Micah with tales of a magical Circus that he discovered as a child. Micah is captivated by these stories that Grandpa Ephraim brings to vivid life with fantastic characters such as an invisible tiger that guards the gates, the beautiful flying bird woman and the mysterious “Manager”.

Micah’s favorite stories are the ones about the powerful magician – the Man Who Bends Light. His grandpa tells about how this very talented magician had the most popular show at the circus. The magician delighted in showing the wonders and mysteries of the world to the audience through spectacular illusions.  On his last day at the circus, he offered Grandpa Ephraim a miracle. Being mindful of his future, Grandpa Ephraim asked to save the miracle, or so the story went.

All too soon for Micah, Grandpa Ephraim becomes deathly ill and Micah’s Great Aunt Gertrude comes to take care of them.   She is a horrible person – mean, nasty and nothing like her brother. Micah is faced with the frightening reality that should Grandpa Ephraim die, Aunt Gertrude and her cruelty will be his future.

Knowing he will die soon, Grandpa Ephraim shares his secret with Micah; the stories are true! Now the time has come for Grandpa Ephraim to cash in the miracle he has been saving for over 50 years. Possessing unwavering faith and love for the dying man, Micah knows he will do whatever he can to help. Teaming up with his friend Jenny, they set out to find the Circus Mirandus and the magical man he believes can save his grandfather. This could be an adventure that will change his life forever.

– Renee

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The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

The Witch Hunter

The Witch Hunter is a fantastic story following the chaotic life of Elizabeth Gray. She is orphaned at a young age because of a plague believed to have been started by witches and wizards unknown. The direct result is the immediate eradication of witchcraft. Anyone found reading books associated with witchcraft, using herbs or practicing magic of any form will be sentenced to death.

Alone and starving, Elizabeth is saved by Caleb, who is also an orphan, and together they survive by becoming servants at the palace. Unhappy as a servant, Caleb aspires to be more, so he asks Elizabeth to join the elite team of witch hunters with him. Afraid to be left alone, but unsure this is the right choice for her, she blindly follows him.

They become the most fierce witch hunters the land has ever seen, bringing countless witches and wizards to justice. She is soon betrayed, imprisoned, and sentenced to death. With little hope, Elizabeth is rescued by a wizard and is forced to reevaluate everything she has ever believed. She finds friends and allies in the most unlikely places.

This is a fast paced book that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I genuinely look forward to reading the sequel.

– Renee

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The Boys of Fire and Ash by Meaghan McIsaac

The Boys of Fire and AshThis book is set in a very scary and different world than we know. It follows the lives of the Ikkuma Brothers. These boys are abandoned at birth in the Ikkuma volcanic pits by mothers that don’t want male children. They take care of each other and have become brothers by fate.  The Bigger boys get assigned a baby and he takes on the role of raising the baby, teaching him and making sure he is fed and healthy. When a big brother becomes a man at the age of 16, he leaves the pits and makes room for a new little brother.  No big brother has ever come back after he has departed on his leaving day, until now.

Near death and being chased by huge angry beasts, Blaze returns and offers no explanation for his mysterious arrival. Blaze brings with him trouble the boys have never seen. The monsters kill one little brother and take another one to be sacrificed to their god. Little brothers die all the time but not like this. Big Brothers are obligated to take care of little ones, so they follow the beasts in the hopes of a rescue. Blaze and a few big brothers chase the beasts and leave the pit embarking on a journey that has never been attempted before. And hopefully will never happen again.

This book is about emotional and physical discovery. I found it fascinating to read and enjoyed the development of the story. It leaves you on the edge of your seat!

– Renee

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The Fearless by Emma Pass

The FearlessAuthor Emma Pass has created a world where the worst possible outcome to a potential “World War” has happened. The governments of various world leaders created a drug to minimize the effects of PTSD in our soldiers  and it worked but it also diminished their capacity to feel other feelings as well. They are essentially mindless killing machines. This drug is sold to our enemies and everyone now has some form of their very own “Fearless” soldier. War erupts and mass invasions occur, thus ending life as we know it.

Years after our world has ended, small isolated groups of people that were able to survive the initial wave of invasion continue to live as best as they can.  Cass is a young woman living in one of these groups on an isolated island. Her baby brother was taken by the fearless on the same day a stowaway named Myo is discovered. She is faced with the choice to follow the rules of survival and write her brother off as dead or rescue the only family she has left.  She chooses to rescue him and leave her semi-safe island behind and venture out into the world. Accompanied by Myo, she begins her dangerous search for her brother.

This was a well written and exciting book. You follow Cass and Myo on their journey to rescue her brother and go through many obstacles along the way.  Their relationship develops into something more than friendship and you fall in love with their story.

I look forward to a sequel!

– Renee

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes is a beautiful narrative following the life of a Scholar girl named Laia and a Martial boy named Elias. In their world, the Martials have invaded and taken over Laia’s people, the Scholars, and enslaved them. The Martials rule with an iron fist and tolerate no resistance. Her story begins in the middle of a war that she doesn’t know is raging between the resistance and the Martials.

Fearing raids and punishment for any tiny infraction, the Scholars tend to their daily chores as best as they can and Laia’s family is no different. That is until one day Laia discovers that her brother may be helping the resistance. That day her entire life changes. Her home is raided, her family is murdered and her brother is captured. Stranded and alone, she has no choice but to join the resistance that betrayed her and go on a suicide mission to rescue her brother.

Once on her mission she meets up with Elias and he shows her that not all Martials are the same. Their upbringing and lifestyles are vastly different and yet they are drawn to each other, bonded by similar love and loss.

This is a beautiful and exciting story and I am anxiously awaiting the sequel.

– Renee

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Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

NightbirdNightbird is a wonderfully enchanting tale about acceptance, friendship and love.  The story is narrated by a little girl named Twig that has a secret that she can share with no one.   Twig’s family has been living with a 200 year old curse that affects only the men in their family and they will do anything to keep their secret. Everyone in town believes that they are being terrorized by monsters but in reality it’s far less mystical.  Twig and the rest of her family have kept themselves separate from the town folk in order to keep their curse a secret and everything is going fine until someone moves into the house next to their orchards. This is a beautiful story about friendship and love with just enough fantasy to keep you guessing.  All becomes clear as the story unfolds into a surprising ending!

I would think this book is targeted towards middle school age children but it’s interesting enough to keep adults entertained. Very good book!

– Renee

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Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross

Tear You ApartThis book puts a very interesting spin on the fairy tales that we all know and love.

In this rendition, the stories are curses that are bestowed upon anyone with the slightest trace of fairy blood in their lineage. In this cursed land there are several Cinderella’s, Sleeping Beauty’s and Snow White’s. Basically, if there was a story about it, it’s a curse. These are curses because they don’t necessarily end well for anyone involved. Sometimes they have a ‘happily ever after’ and sometimes they don’t.

This book primarily follows the life of Viv, who has been cursed with the Snow White curse. Her childhood friend and first love is cursed to be her huntsman and every day she fears that he will one day kill her. She struggles daily with her busy and uninterested father and her evil spiteful step mother.

This story is very interesting and keeps you guessing. Author (Sarah Cross) has a fantastic imagination and I look forward to other books from her.

– Renee

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Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols

Now That You're HereThis book explores the concept of parallel universes. Danny is a kind-hearted street artist in a world where the cold war never ended.  Eevee and Warren are smart kids living in the world as we know it. Through a twist of fate, they find each other face to face.

Danny is evading the authorities when an explosion sends him across dimensions into Eevee’s world. Everything is different but strangely the same. Danny searches for his family, only to find out that in this world they are long dead and he is living with an angry and violent foster father. He tries to find his friends from his own world but discovers them to be mean horrible people here.

Desperate to get home, Danny works side by side with Eevee and Warren to get him back to his reality. While trying to find his way home, love blossoms with Eevee. This makes it hard for Danny to leave but he knows he must. He gets the feeling that time is running out for him because while he is with Eevee in this universe, the other Danny is in serious trouble in his old world. Danny has to get home and fix the problems he started.

This book is very hard to put down. It’s filled with love and adventure and mystery and will keep you guessing.  I enjoyed it very much.

– Renee

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Autumn Falls by Bella Thorne

Autumn FallsAutumn Falls is about a girl and her family starting their life over after the sudden and devastating loss of her father.  She starts a new school with the hope of blending in and just getting by.  This unfortunately does not happen, however, as she is the target of bullying by the popular girls and struggles to fit in.

Along the way she becomes friends with people that accept her for who she is. They help her realize that even though life is tough sometimes, you can still have fun along the way. She learns to get along and to rise above the petty drama caused by her peers. Eventually she discovers that people will like her for exactly who she is.

This book is a very quick read that holds your attention and keeps you guessing. Autumn is a very likeable character and her story is going to be very relatable for teen girls that are struggling for acceptance.

– Renee

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