Tag Archives: teen

Court of Snakes: This Desert Cage by Tycho Dwelis (Book Review)

Content Rating:  PG + M: Some allusion to domestic abuse, fantasy violence, adults drinking alcohol
 
 
In the city of Segeno, it’s eat or be eaten. Someone has to rule the masses. A boy has lost his birthright. His parents killed. Dead and gone. A girl has lost her father. She means nothing to him now.

The city of Segeno stands tall after a great war, the only city left of its kind. Terran has lost both of his parents and is now on the run from a tyrant eager to kill him and cut off the royal bloodline. Parisa struggles with her own identity as even her father rejects her for the color of her skin as he claws for the throne. Along their journeys, they meet unexpected allies and encounter unprecedented magick, but, most importantly, they learn what it is to stand up for themselves and take back their city from corruption.

 
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 
Court of Snakes: This Desert Cage by Tycho Dwelis began with a mammoth squashing a pickpocketer and The King batting more than one guard. I knew from the start that this book would be excellent, and as I finished the last line, I was correct. 


Teens and young adults will love how swiftly Terran, The King, and other characters navigated the districts. The movements reminded me of parkour. 


The King also taught Terran the real power of tarot cards. They don’t just see a person’s future; they allow chosen ones to harness the deck’s power. You don’t choose which card works in a particular situation. Instead, the cards seem to know what the bearer needs. The cards are judge, jury, and (at times) executioner. 


Many powers were displayed, but I liked when The King’s six swords came out. The written battle scenes were amazing, and I can only imagine how epic they would be if the movie industry could bring them to life. I would watch that movie in a heartbeat! 


With the build-up to the show-down, I expected it to be grander – longer. It was over too soon. That said, many unexpected moments happened when the war began- some shocking and rather sad. 


This story did conclude on a happy note, which is always lovely. 


While the cover is nice, I don’t think it lives up to the story’s contents. I think the colorful promo banner (shared on my site, Amazon, and Ireads Book Tour) would’ve been a better fit. It’s vibrant, eye-catching, and draws the eye. Well done to whoever created it. 

 
Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤
 
 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
Author Tycho Dwelis

I’m Tycho (I also use the pen name Cassidy), and I love storytelling! I’m incredibly passionate about writing, art, and anything that allows me to create my own worlds. My goal is to write dreamy fiction for all ages that is unique, inspiring, and imaginative. I like to write about themes that include coming of age, magic realism, identity, relationships, and bullying. My books are intended for readers ages eight to twenty-five, and are meant to connect the world of the fantastical to everyday life.

I currently live in Colorado and have an MA in Publishing.

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Child of Etherclaw by Matty Roberts (Book Spotlight / Author Interview)

CHILD OF ETHERCLAW by Matty Roberts

 
 
The bonds of family go well beyond blood.

But can those bonds hold when the blood itself carries a devastating secret?

Fenlee’s opal necklace had always radiated a certain warmth since her mother’s death. But now, at sixteen, her world begins to unravel as the stone sparks to life, revealing itself to be an otherworldly artifact of untold power.

Between her mechatronics studies at the academy and scavenging expeditions beneath the sprawling city of New Cascadia, Fenlee and her adopted brother, Elliot, try to decipher the mysteries of her necklace and its link to events in Fenlee’s past.

But they’re not alone in their search.

Strange undercity dwellers offer cryptic warnings, drones track their movements, and deadly corporate agents lurk in the shadows. When tragedy rips Fenlee’s family apart, she must learn to use the artifact’s power to save those who are deeply precious to her. But nothing can prepare her for the dark truths that she will uncover on that journey…

“Lee,” Elliot mumbled. “I’m not who you think I am.” 

 

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Meet the Author:

Author Matty Roberts

Matty Roberts began their career in journalism where they earned an Emmy and had the privilege of working on several other award-winning projects. They hold an MS from Johns Hopkins University and are now an engineer in renewable energy in Denver, Colorado where they live with their wonderful partner, two extraordinary kids, and the best doggie ever. In addition to writing, engineering, and parenting, Matty is a vegan enby nerd who is in love with this world and will forever be doing all they can to make it a better place. And they may be known to occasionally play in a punk band here or there.

 
 

Do you have a profession outside of writing?

Yes, I work as a software/data engineer in renewable energy. I’m very passionate about making the world a better place, and it’s an industry I’m proud to be a part of. Though I started my career as a journalist a while back, that didn’t last long once the Great Recession hit and I found myself (and all my coworkers) laid off. Still feeling as though I’d just finished college, I found myself back once again pursuing additional education so I could find gainful employment. I loved journalism, but for someone so young and inexperienced as myself, there were just no opportunities at the time.
 

How long have you been writing?

 
I’ve been writing forever, though very little of it shall ever see the light of day. I’m talking everything from awkward fanfiction to overly verbose LiveJournal posts that served as a dumping ground for my angsty opinionated thoughts.
I’ve written a number of partial novels and short stories, but Child of Etherclaw is the first one that I feel confident enough in to release.
 

What do you find to be the most important element of a great book?

 
For me, the most important element of any book is character development. A rich character arc is critical to keep me engaged. I enjoy sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genres, but without a well-developed character that I can identify, the best plot out there will lose me. And the characters need to be a little mushy, you know? Sure, “strong” characters are great, but often times too much strength can flatten a character out. I want a character who gets embarrassed, who has anxieties about seemingly trivial things, and who struggles with inner conflicts and self-doubt. I need a character who can cry—whether they do so on-page or not.
 

Do you have any great book recommendations?

 
Absolutely! Some of the more enjoyable books I’ve recently read include:
SAWKILL GIRLS by Clare Legrand
The LIFEL1K3 series by Jay Kristoff
The WANT series by Cindy Pon

And I’m currently reading ENTANGELMENT by Alina Leonova. It’s got a fantastic dystopian society with cyberpunk vibes and a wonderfully unique cast of characters. I’m not quite through with it yet, but would recommend it without hesitation.
 

What advice do you have for people writing their first novel?

 
It’s quite an endeavor just getting through the first draft of a novel. There are times when you feel as though the words come faster than you can type, and other times when you feel your creativity buried under a few tons of rapidly setting cement.
 
Among all the advice out there and the endless how-to guides, I think the most important thing that bears repeating over and over is to celebrate yourself. You wrote 200 words today? Cheers! That’s awesome! You cut out a scene that just wasn’t working and actually had a net loss of 1,000 words? A round of applause! It’s hard to let go of your own writing, but you recognized the need to and you should feel accomplished! Set goals that are small, realistic, and achievable. And when you reach them, celebrate yourself. You deserve it.

 

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Kingdomless (The Evamore Series, Book 1) by Michelle Garyfalakis (Book Spotlight)

KINGDOMLESS by Michelle GaryFalakis

 
The remnants of the United Kingdom of Garth, once ruled by the legendary Dynasty of Evamores are in the throes of conflict. Ten years ago, King Wren of the West discovered Raelle washed up on the shores of the Balour Sea, with no memory of the first nine years of her life. She was brought back to the castle and dutifully cared for and cherished by the king and his three older sons. On her nineteenth birthday, the Western Kingdom’s adoptive princess is secretly sent away by her stepmother to marry King Veras as a token of peace between the kingdoms. But, the Northern King has other plans.

As Raelle’s amnesia melts away with the help of a northern storyteller, she discovers more about the Kingdom of Garth, magic, the lovetie connection of the Evamores, and her role in the grand scheme of things. She is confused, angry, and curiously comfortable in the North.

A dark shadow overcasts all of the kingdoms, and the threatening influence of the fallen god Kellar seems to spread among the people, inciting disorder and violence. While the fate of the kingdoms may rest on Raelle’s shoulders, she can’t help but feel kingdomless. Betrayal is everywhere, from her own adoptive family to her newfound friends. Fearless, observant, witty, and determined, she is town between her attraction to King Veras’ good nature and the unexplained pull to the Tracker Calak. The challenge that she faces is not simple. As the old gods, laws and magic awaken, so does her own sense of self. There is a choice to be made, step into the role expected of her, or dive into the unknown and make her own destiny.

This YA fantasy novel asks the readers important coming of age questions, captures the attention with witty dialogue, relatable characters, and a world that is reawakening its forgotten magic. The readers will be entranced and hungry for more (and perhaps a piece of chocolate cake).

 

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Meet the Author:
Author Michelle Garyfalakis

 
MICHELLE GARYFALAKIS was born and raised throughout Ontario, Canada. She currently lives just outside of Hamilton, Ontario with her husband, four kids and Snowy (their friendly Samoyed-Border Collie). When she isn’t obsessively typing out new stories on her computer, you can find her drinking coffee with a friend, snacking on some guacamole or binge watching Outlander (again). Michelle loves finding creative ways to communicate with people, and her passion for storytelling is the newest addition to that list. 

 
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The Mirabal Sisters: From Caterpillars to Butterflies by Raynelda A. Calderon (Book Spotlight)

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​Born in a small town in the Dominican Republic, the Mirabal sisters lived at a time when the country was under the merciless rule of a dictatorship. Their deaths on November 25, 1960 (at ages 36, 34, and 25), have received international coverage. In their honor, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is observed annually on November 25.
 
 
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Meet the Author:
 
Picture

 
​Raynelda A. Calderón, a Dominican native who lives in Queens, NY, is a children’s book author who has worked in public libraries for more than 15 years. She holds a doctorate in leadership in higher education, and she has taught Information Literacy at various colleges, most recently at Bronx Community College. As a librarian, working with children inspires Raynelda to write about the accomplishments of Hispanic women in history. She hopes to inspire young readers to follow their passions and never take no for an answer. Raynelda is the creator of the first Hispanic Heritage wall calendar that honors the accomplishments of Hispanic Americans in the United States. She lives with an untamed Shih Tzu, Toby, and a much attached Chihuahua, Maya. She spends her free time thinking (and drafting) about books to write, or painting, crocheting, or crying over abused dogs.
 
 
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Discovery of the Five Senses Book One – The Urban Boys Series by K. N. Smith (Book Review)

THE URBAN BOYS: DISCOVERY OF THE FIVE SENSES by K.N. Smith
 
Welcome or unwelcome. Fate has arrived.

A suspenseful incident in a forbidden preserve heightens the senses of five friends. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become super-gifts that forever change the world. But furious battles confront the boys as they try to understand their sensory super powers in a race to save mankind. With light beings and mysterious strangers complicating their plight, will the boys be able to defeat the evil Druth before it’s too late? Get prepared for the twisting and grinding of this award-winning, action-adventure story — an edge-of-your-seat narrative for young and mature readers alike.  ​

 
 
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 
Discovery of the Five Senses Book One – The Urban Boys Series by K. N. Smith deals with the responsibility of having extraordinary gifts. As Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker (Spiderman), “With great power comes great responsibility.” 


Imagining a life with powers is fun, but, after reading this story, maybe it’s not such a glamorous lifestyle after all. Let’s take enhanced hearing, for instance. Readers will watch as several teens, past and present, have difficulty navigating their new heightened senses. I get annoyed with the (low-volume) constant ringing in my ears, so having an overload of loud sounds 24-7 with no off-switch would be horrific. After you read Discovery of the Five Senses Book One – The Urban Boys Series by K. N. Smith, and I highly encourage you to read it, you’ll better understand why being normal, a non-super being isn’t that terrible. 


Despite the struggles the teens faced, they did help others by using their super skills. With their senses working on overdrive, they also became black belts in martial arts. Okay, maybe not technically black belts, but they could whoop some A**. Their newfound fighting skills came in handy QUITE  a bit because danger followed them. They also sought out criminals to battle. I really enjoyed these scenes, especially when ***** used nunchucks. Yup, I omitted the name on purpose. NO SPOILERS! 


If you’re a teacher or parent reading this story with your class or child, ask them the question below before starting the story and then again after you’ve finished it. See if their response changes and if it did, why.


Discussion question: “What sense would they like heightened?”

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤
 
 
 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
 
K.N. Smith

 
K.N. Smith, winner of the “Best of” in the category of “Outstanding Young Adult Novel” at the Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards, is an author, screenwriter, and passionate advocate of literacy and arts programs throughout the world. She inspires people of all ages to reach their highest potential in their creative, educational, and life pursuits. She lives in California with her family. 
 
 
connect with the author: 
 website ~ facebook ~ goodreads
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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