What Dreams May Come, by Beth Honeycutt

what dreams may comeI read and reviewed What Dreams May Come at the request of the author, whom I had met online through the Clean Indie Reads group this past spring. I really enjoyed it! As an afterthought, I realized it would also be totally appropriate to feature here on Bookworm Blather.

I was a little hesitant to pick this one up. My regular readers have probably already figured out that I rarely read romance. Usually they’re too heavy on the smexy or they contain so much sappy mush that I’m gagging by the end—if I make it that far. This one is delightful sweet. And the paranormal adds a nice bit of creativity.

But I was especially appreciative of the prose. It’s smooth, readable, and just a little snarky. Ms. Honeycut has a style that is quite literary in nature, with lots of great word pictures and comparisons. I really enjoyed that. And the voice stays upbeat, even when the heroine is struggling with some heavy issues. There were times I wanted to shake the lead character and tell her to buck up, or I’d roll my eyes a bit at one of the more gushy scenes, but I kept on because I just plain liked the story. Kudos to a very fine writing style.

The editing is excellent, and the language and content are clean and innocent…so that I passed this one along to my teen daughter. A sweet and delightful YA paranormal. Ages 13+

Fall Clean Indie Reads Sale

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I am part of the Clean Indie Reads group (we have flinch-free fiction in all ages and genres), and our fall sale is becoming an annual event. If you don’t like a lot of gratuitous sex, violence, and language in your books, you won’t find it here.

We’ve got middle grade and YA books!

I’ve discovered some great titles among these authors! Hop over there and check it out!

The sale runs from Oct. 5 – 11.

 

Trusted: Dragons’ Trust Book 1, by Krista Wayment

trusted

Another dragon book. That was my rather reluctant thought when I picked this one up. There are a lot of dragon books out there, more than I realized when I wrote my own. But I’d been told this one was good…

I liked it more than Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, the dragonesque Newbery honor book I reviewed a few weeks ago.

Okay, I have to admit Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is arguably better literature, in that it makes better use of literary devices—word pictures, sensory details, a circular package where the story’s head comes around to bite its tail, if you know what I mean. But if I compare that gut feeling of contentment that settles over me after I close the back cover, Trusted wins, hands down. I just liked the plot and characters better.

It did take a little while for this one to grow on me. Fourteen-year-old Renick finds himself stranded in a huge, unfriendly wilderness with two other passengers who survived the flyer wreck—twelve-year-old Lainey, who aside from some chatterbox moments that don’t really remain consistent, usually seems older, and Thane, the sometimes stand-offish son of a nobleman. Together the three children discover a baby dragon and must avoid the dragon hunters, who come off quite stereotypically. (Think Disney’s evil dogcatcher type.) Also, I sometimes found it difficult to distinguish which of the three kids was talking when they were in a group. However, once the kids make it to the dragon city high in the mountains, I was completely hooked. The action and characterization just kept getting better and better. I came away really liking Renick, in particular.

This is a story of nobility, honor, trust (which you can probably discern from the title), and attempts at reconciliation between two ancient enemy races—dragons and humans. It’s one of those hopeful, feel good tales that leave you smiling at the end. But it’s also a survival story that will fill that craving for adventure. Two thumbs up! Appropriate for listeners as young as 7 or 8, but recommended for readers at a fourth or fifth grade level.

Grab a copy of Trusted for just 2.99.

Ragesong: Awakening, by J. R. Simmons

ragesong awakening

I love surprises. I especially love good surprises. And I really, really like it when that good surprise turns out to be only the first of several. That’s the case for Awakening. I loved the book, and it’s the first of a series. Book two, Uprising, just released in June. I’m getting it.

Since I’ve already spent too many hours reading this week and not enough time working on my own book, I’m going to paste in part of the Amazon blurb:

Jake starts his first day of junior high completely oblivious to the fact that he has been chosen for something incredible. That same afternoon, he learns that he has been marked as one with the power to save an entire kingdom. Through the course of his journey, Jake discovers that his advanced musical abilities are peculiarly connected to a mysterious power known as Ragesong. Joined by a shy, young girl with similar musical talents and two Changelings that hold a fierce loyalty to their homeland and king, Jake must learn to harness this ability in order to survive the dangers of a hostile new world.

This was a wild ride! I know there are many alternate world fantasy adventures on the market, but this one has an edge. Sometimes I make an allowance for a trace of clunkiness in the prose if the story is compelling, but this one had prose as sharp as a knife edge and a plot to go with it. And the dialogue? Spunky, quirky, light, and exactly right. That touch of lightness is necessary. It balances out a series of events that could be overwhelming to readers under ten. That’s because Jake is called on to battle, not monsters, but an army of men. There is killing involved, and some of it’s done by a junior higher. That is my one and only qualm. On the other hand, this world is ruled by the most evil of villains, and it is kill or be killed. It’s a battle for re-conquest. The violence is not gratuitous, it’s often video game-like, but it’s there.

This book will hold special appeal for gamers as the main character is an avid gamer himself and often references them in the text. I am not a gamer. I am a mom who is tired of monitoring video games, tired of redirecting children to alternate activities, and who often wishes they’d never been invented. However, if this book can hook a few of those kids and turn them into readers even for a while, I’ll gladly suspend my own disinterest and shout out that particular attribute. But regardless of whether the reader games or not, this is a finely told story with a superb dialogue and a twist of imagination. Recommended for ages 10+

Find it on Amazon:

Ragesong: Awakening
Ragesong: Uprising

Lost in the Bayou, by Cornell DeVille

lost in the bayou

I love this cover. It sucked me in immediately. I’ve always liked survival stories, and this one looked intriguing. Whoa! It got intense in a hurry.

Andy and Robin are orphans, or so everyone “official” is telling them, even though the bodies of their parents have not been found. It’s a new role for them and they don’t like it. Not at all. Especially now that Uncle Conrad has come. Robin has no doubt, Conrad wants them dead, and he’s crazy enough to do it. With the children out of his way, Conrad would inherit their fortune.

So the kids take off into the swamp.

This one is fast-paced all the way through. The danger is immediate, and the setting is absolutely fabulous. Check this out:

To my left, the moon is breaking through the gray clouds now and frosting the landscape with a pale silver glow. It lights our way somewhat, but it makes the moss-covered limbs of the trees look like grotesque arms in ragged sleeves, beckoning as our shadows dance along beside us.

Now add to the foggy swamp alligators, the legend of an asylum escapee, and the mystery of the missing parents, and you have a real page-turner.

I do have a couple cautions: There are a few minor language incidences and some omg’s. And Uncle Conrads’ threats are pretty disturbing. He’s a real wacko who makes a game out of killing the children. It might be pretty freaky for younger readers, although I wouldn’t hesitate to hand it off to an eleven-year-old. There’s danger and some intense moments, but the outcome is quite mild. I read the whole thing in one sitting. I highly recommended it for adventure-loving boys.

Dream Warriors (Joey Cola, 1), by D. Robert Pease

joey colaI loved Noah Zarc, Mr. Pease’s MG trilogy. And I enjoyed his recent grown up fantasy, Shadow Swarm. But this is his best book yet.

Just as Noah was a loose parody of the Bible story, so Joey has similarities to the biblical story of Joseph. If you’re familiar with those old favorites, I’ll let you pick out the parallels–there’s a bunch. But Joey soon takes a dive into the fantasy world that’s full of originality, fun, danger, romance, and suspense. There are some great twists and turns in here that I never saw coming!

Joey’s father is a well-to-do former ambassador to Italy and the patriarch of a large Italian American family. Joey is the eleventh of twelve sons and routinely persecuted for being the favorite. But when his father gives him an amulet, a family heirloom that traces back to ancient Egypt, Joey suddenly finds himself in a position of strength–as a warrior in the world of dreams. The alternate world, however, is more closely linked to reality than he first assumed. And friends and enemies can’t be taken at face value.

This one is appropriately billed as YA. There is some violence, but it’s mostly, well, dreamlike. Dream warriors have some great gladiator scenes, but they can’t die. Mortal blows simply send them back to wakefulness. But they can be killed if they’re followed back to their physical bodies. Also, romance is sweet. There’s some very mild sensuality. Nothing I’d censor for my kids (and I’m pretty conservative), but it might be enough to gross out fourth or fifth graders. Language is 100% clean. I highly, highly recommend this one for anyone eighth grade or older.

Grab a copy from Amazon.

Navigating Early, by Clare Vanderpool

navigating earlyThis is a strange book, one that has beautiful moments I’ve come to associate with Clare Vanderpool, but it doesn’t always resonate with me. At times, the book even feels over-written and abstract with images that are too great a stretch. And I struggled to get a handle on Early.

Early Auden is a young boy whose behavior is sometimes simplistic, sometimes remarkably advanced. He kept me puzzled and guessing throughout the entire story. Only after I reached the end of the book did I realize the author had modeled his behavior on what we now define as autism. But as the story takes place at the close of WWII, it has no name or diagnosis. I sort of wish I’d read the author’s note first. It changed the whole way I think of the story…and the story did make me think.

Jack Baker finds himself miles from home at the close of the war and after his mother’s death, enrolled in a school for boys. There he meets Early Auden who has a fascination for the number pi. Early sees the sequence of numbers as landscape and color and tells an entire story about the character named Pi that closely follows the boys’ own real-life adventures. But when a mathematician suggests that the number pi might end, Early throws a tantrum. That’s when Jack realizes Early is suffering a loss of his own, a loss he just won’t accept.

“Connecting the dots. That’s what Mom said stargazing is all about. It’s the same up there as it is down here, Jackie. You have to look for the things that connect us all. Find the ways our paths cross, our lives intersect, and our hearts collide.” Taken from the epilogue, that’s a pretty good summary of the message of this book.

I give this one a recommendation with a minor caution (not against content). While it’s deep and beautiful and a “thinker”, this book is a little slow, and Early is hard to relate to. Great for diehard  readers, but I’d probably point less motivated kids in another direction.