Friday, July 31, 2015

Review of Aoléon The Martian Girl Part 2 by Brent LeVasseur


The Martian Girl Part 2

by Brent LeVasseur

Aoléon Press

Middle Grade 

Science Fiction

132 pages

Gilbert never knew that school could be so dangerous!

Determined to accompany his new friend, Aoleon, wherever she goes, Gilbert soon finds himself back in school – at the Martian Space Academy.  There he’s introduced to Martian society, hears a history lesson on the Draconian and Andromedan races, and even gets invited to a psiball match.  But Gilbert soon finds out it’s not all fun and games.  Not only is Aoleon’s arch nemesis, Charm Lepton, determined to make sure that Aoleon doesn’t make it through the psiball game, but Gilbert also comes under attack when a mysterious force attempts to control him. 

Do our two heroes have what it takes to survive? 

Find out in this exciting middle-grade science fiction adventure that’s sure to please young readers! 


This is a fun continuation from book 1 (although it's easy to get wrapped into this story even without the first book). Gilbert, the boy from Earth, gets a good douse of what life on Mars is all about, and what a fun life it is!

Tons of imagination has been put into this alien colony and a nice amount of humor as well. The world is in some ways familiar, but then built up even more until even little things become super fantastic. Kids will eat it up and let their own imaginations soar as they experience all these amazing things right along with Gilbert. Then, there's the added bit of slap-stick comedy--my son finds these parts hilarious and was laughing out loud.

Where book one was mostly about adventure, book two gives the reader time to get to know Aoleon better. We meet her family, her friends and get a glance into her everyday life. She's nice and sweet but has her little quirks which make her easy to love.

The action moves a little slower in this book, but that doesn't mean it's any less exciting. Rather, the descriptions and chance to experience alien life make this interesting and kept my son and I turning from one page to the next. We get to meet several new characters, not all of which have good intentions. And little by little, we are given glimpses at the bigger problem Aoleon and Gilbert will be facing later in the series. The main plot does stretch over the entire series, making the individual books feel more like stepping stones.

The illustrations are as vivid as the descriptions, bringing the whole story to life. They add tons of color to Mars and give the entire story that extra boost, which is sure to draw kids in. There are moments where some of the technical explanations get a bit heavy, and I wonder if it doesn't go a bit too deep for the intended age group--my son tried to understand the paragraphs at first but quickly shrugged the explanation off, skipped the section and went on (and he's actually a space geek).  But there's a nice glossary at the end to help out those who really want to dive into the definitions and reasoning behind Aoleon's strange world.

All in all, this is an imaginative adventure which will let kids take flight and dream of their own future trips to Mars.


In LeVasseur's debut middle-grade sci-fi novel, a friendly extraterrestrial girl whisks a Nebraska farm boy away for a wild adventure of Martian intrigue, rebellion and invasion." -Kirkus Reviews


The Martian Girl Song!

Another World - Single

Featuring Élan Noelle

Download on iTunes

And here he is. . . 

Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Connect with Brent:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Aoléon: The Martian Girl 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: Fire in Frost by Alicia Rades

A Crystal Frost Novel Book 1
by Alicia Rades
Paperplane Publishing
YA Paranormal
242 pages

Crystal Frost has spent her whole life believing she’s ordinary, and her mother has long held the secret of her heritage. When Crystal begins seeing the ghost of a dead classmate, her life spirals out of control. She’s faced with the threat that everyone will find out she’s a freak, as if the struggle to figure out her new-found abilities wasn’t enough pressure. Crystal has to find some way to save the people who have come to her for help all while trying to keep her abilities a secret. Will she be able to fulfill these overwhelming demands while solving the mystery that is the ghost of Olivia Owen?


We start out in pretty normal circumstances with a pretty normal, teenage girl, Crystal. And already, in those first pages the stage is set--she sees a ghost. This moment hits well, and immediately pulls in with a sense of mystery and tension. Too bad that it takes a few chapters after this for the story to really get going--a lot of time is spent on Crystal, her mother and her friends as we're gently introduced to the situation. But after this lull, things get moving nicely.

The mystery is well woven except for a couple fairly predictable moments and suggestions. Crystal first has to get a handle on what she can do and what these new found abilities mean for her and her life, totally believable and understandable. While she's fumbling her way through, the world around her is becoming more uncertain, which added a good amount of suspense.

Crystal's friends are golden and one can only cheer for them. Her mother and her mother's colleagues are just as amazing, offering Crystal a great support group from all directions. Even the so-called 'outside' isn't as unsupportive as one might think. I was a bit disappointed by this easy acceptance of Crystal's powers. Although, on one side, it was great to see such a supportive environment (one could only wish this for someone like Crystal), a bit from the possible tension was taken away.

The bad guys are perfect! They scream mean, and I did fever for Crystal and want to punch those guys in the noses. There are dangerous moments, and times where I really wonder if Crystal is in over her head.This story never falls into the danger of going overboard with death and violence, but rather remains in the realm of reality, which makes it more believable and closer to a level for even younger teens.

This book opens up tons of possibilities for a series, one that has the potential to be very good if the tension can be held up right (which I'm cheering that it can.) Can't wait to see where Crystal goes from here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review: Phantom Limbs by Jake Bible

Scarescapes - Book 1
by Jake Bible
Permuted Press
Middle Grade Fantasy
93 pages
Ages 8 to 12

On the Earth Colony Asteroid Scorpio, something has gone terribly wrong. Millions of light years off course and 900 years late, the ship’s AIs wake up only seven kids, leaving the adults stuck in cryosleep! Damaged from the long journey, the AIs must repair the awakened seven with the only thing available–cybernetic robot parts. 

Along with learning to function with new cyber parts, the all-kid crew must unravel the mystery of what went wrong with the Scorpio. As if the nightmare of deep space isn’t enough, the kids soon find themselves battling the ship’s maintenance robots while their cyber parts begin taking on a life of their own!


This book reminded my a bit of 2001: A Space Odyssey but, of course, geared for children and with some interesting twists. The story starts right there where the trouble begins. A red headed thirteen-year-old girl, who is arguing with the computer about having the right to be called Isla on her birthday instead of Captain, is very uncomfortable with her birthday. Although thirteen, a mistake has left her hibernating for 1000 years. She and a handful of kids have awoken from their sleep, but most of the 10,000 head crew (adults) has not. With the help of the computers/spaceship, the kids have taken over the roles of their parents in running the ship. 

There isn't much back story, and the author does a great job of dropping in the bits and pieces of information needed as the story progresses. The characters themselves are presented a couple at a time, so the reader gets a chance to meet each one before moving to the next. The kids are in some ways mature for their age, but still have a nice level of childishness mixed in, especially in how they deal with each other. 

The plot itself is tightly woven and well paced. The tension mounts as the story moves along, going from one unexpected turn into the next. There are just enough descriptions to picture the spaceship, while still leaving enough room for a kid's imagination to take flight. And yep, there were a couple scenes where I gulped, hoping the kids would make it through alive.

The only trouble I had was with the dialogue. Although it's believable, well written and very fitting for the age group, there were times when simply too many of the characters were throwing in their tidbits and I got a little lost as to who was who. But the exchanges were humorous and each character has their individual voice.

As for the ending. . .now, that's a real surprise and a super twist. It hooked me enough that I can't wait to get my hands on the next book and see what happens to these kids as another adventure starts.

MORE ABOUT Jake Bible!!!

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.

A professional writer since 2009, Jake Bible has a proven record of innovation, invention and creativity. Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.

He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Bethany and the Zombie Jesus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, and the YA horror novel Little Dead Man.

Find him at Join him on Twitter and Facebook.

Review: The Ifs Return by J.D. Pooker

The Ifs Return  


by J.D. Pooker 

Illustrated by Frank Walls

Little Devil Books  

Middle Grade Fantasy

Ages: 8 to 12

123 pages

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Goodreads

 “Gage escaped.” 
 These are the worst words Broden could hear from his big brother Landon—just one day after they battled alongside Slade’s Ifs and his army of forest beasts. Sure, the brothers had learned to work together to fight and capture the evil If Gage. But, now, Slade has informed them that Gage has escaped! Fear and distrust have entered the boys’ world. Why should they help Slade if he can’t keep control of his prisoners? Will they be able to fight against a familiar foe? Plus, Landon has more news… “Gage has magic.” What kind of magic? Will he use it against them? As the boys are drawn into yet more adventure with the Ifs, they find out just how powerful, and dangerous, Gage’s magic can be.  


I didn't read the first book, but still had little trouble diving into this adventure. Although it took a couple pages to get a handle on the two main characters and what was going on, there's enough information to let a reader dive into the world without reading book one (however, I highly recommend grabbing the other book first because I'm pretty sure it's worth it.)

The author does a fantastic job introducing a tiny species, the Ifs. This little, honorable folk seeks out the help of two human brothers (again) to help against their greatest foe. I loved the descriptions and scenes--so easy to get lost in! The squirrels were an extra treat and added a nice touch of reality to the entire adventure.

The dialogue is right for the intended audience and the characters are true blue, even in the face of sibling squabbles. It's easy to get lost in their story and root for them the entire way through. At times, the descriptions could have been a bit tighter, but in general, the story moves along nicely. I can easily see this book as a great read-aloud for kids before they go to bed, or for older ones on their own.

Summed up, this is a fun adventure for kids ages 8+ which will send their fantasy on a wild ride and have them searching for an adventure of their own.

The Buzz About Book 1

Check out the Book Review Blitz for the first book in the series, The Ifs for over 30 reviews of the book! Here is some of the buzz:

Angela Burkhead: “The Ifs is a tale of brotherhood, loyalty, and knightly valor as two human brothers fight in a great battle to save the Ifs from their rival tribes. But which tribe is in the right? Borrowing from such beloved stories as The Borrowers, Pooker adds a unique twist in creating a group of ‘little people’ who are seemingly self sufficient and militarized…”

Vincent N. (Goodreads): “Kind of reminded me of the movie “Epic” or Disney’s “Rescuers Down Under.” There is some action and the storyline itself, and with that I mean what’s actually happening, stirs the imagination.”

1977 Books: “A good and exciting read for a middle school age child. I like the message this story projected, brothers no matter what!”

Jane Ritz: ” “The Ifs” is a fabulous mystery for children 3-5th grade. It reminds me of “Where the wild Things Are” in a good and strange kind of way.”

SOS-Supply: “This book has it all – fighting, plotting, sibling rivalry, weird experiences, adventure, mystery and battles. In short, everything that appeals to middle school readers. The plot rolls along at a good pace and hooks you in from the very start, with believable characters that are easily related to – we all know a Landon and a Broden, right..? A must-have for any child’s library with real-life lessons built in.”

About the Author: J.D. Pooker

J.D. Pooker

J.D. POOKER lives in wonderful Wyoming with her husband and two sons, along with a black lab named Ryder and a sweet kitty named Alia. J.D. likes to spend time with her family and go camping, fishing, and snowmobiling. Her sons, Landon and Broden, were the inspiration for The Ifs and The Ifs Return. The brothers enjoy camping, fishing, and snowmobiling with their parents. They also enjoy wrestling, playing with their Wii, their toy guns and bows and arrows, and their pets. J.D. can’t wait until her boys get older. She is sure they will have many fabulous adventures.



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: In Search of the Secret Sanctuary by Kim Michele Ingram

by Kim Michele Ingram
Children's Fantasy
Ages 3+
36 pages

Phillip the Prince of Edinshire, Scotland sets himself on a quest to find Tramara, his future bride to be. She is the daughter of Maon, a noble knight and her mother Helena. Accompanying the prince is his noble and illustrious stallion, Blacknight. As the prince proceeds on his quest he must overcome a horrendous obstacle that Isobel, a jealous witch has placed in his path. He encounters days of treacherous heat and torrent rains, even a fire breathing dragon. The fate of Prince Phillip's true love, now rest in his hands as he must travel through dangerous terrains, crossing the River Braan to find her.


If you're a fan of the magic and beauty traditional fairy tales offer, then this book is exactly what you should grab. Since this is also advertised as a great book for good night stories, I was totally thrilled by the star covered pages on the first pages. They really set a wonderful tone. And the story itself is printed on the imitation of an old paper roll, which gives it a nice feeling and will make it clear to young listeners that this is a story with traditional feeling.

The story itself is sweet. A prince, a witch and a true love which he isn't really suppose to marry. There's adventure and danger, and of course, the Prince must suffer all to save his love. It's the kind of story which will lead kids to lovely dreams and let their fantasies take flight.

As tot he writing itself, it's very fitting to the story. There isn't much dialogue or world building or any of those things. This follows the story telling pattern of old, taking the reader through the tale and letting them see the happenings in their mind. The vocabulary is perfectly fine for most age groups, and the story is sure to intrigue even younger listeners. This is the kind of story I could see a grandmother reading to her grandchild at bedtime. The only think I would have liked to have seen is a couple chapter breaks. Not only to break it down for readers, but also as a read aloud. It isn't that this story can't be read in one sitting--it can and is interesting enough too! But as a bedtime story, it might be a little long for younger listeners (and tired moms).

Summed up, this is a lovely story with nice, traditional fairy tale flare. And I can honestly recommend it especially to grandparents as a perfect bring-along for lasting special memories with your grandchild.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Review: Aoléon The Martian Girl​ by Brent LeVasseur


The Martian Girl Part 1

by Brent LeVasseur

Aoléon Press

Middle Grade 

Science Fiction

125 pages

Mars wants our cows (yes, cows!) and they're sending an invasion fleet to take them from us. Only Gilbert and Aoleon the Martian Girl stand in their way!

Gilbert always longed for adventure but now that he has it, he's not sure that it's everything it's cracked up to be. Ever since the night he met Aoleon the Martian Girl sitting in the middle of a crop circle in Farmer Johnson's field, it's been nothing but one wild ride after another.

From fighting off swarms of giant killer robots to dealing with strange aliens from another world, never mind trekking across the vast Martian desert in order to skyboard deep into the center of a (hopefully!) extinct volcano, Gilbert's had his hand full just trying to keep up with it all. And now it's up to him and his new friend, Aoleon, to face off against the evil Martian overlord and keep our cows safe at home where they belong.

The launch of this exciting and innovatively illustrated new series takes the reader deep into the heart of an unforgettable and out-of-this-world friendship in a story full of hijinks, hilarity, and good old-fashioned fun. Join Gilbert and Aoleon in this exciting middle grade science fiction adventure today!


My first impression was  'Wow!'. The cover is amazing and draws in right away. It sticks out and screams 'grab me and take a peek'. And that's exactly what a cover should do. The illustrations follow suit from there. They are vibrant, full of color and look like they're right out of the latest computer animated movie. My son loved them, especially the planet shots.

The story itself shoots off with a cosmic bang! It was cute to watch the connection with the field circles and see the not so deep and unexpected reasons why a young mars girl creates them. We get a little bit of a feeling for Gilbert and Aoleon (at least, we learn Aoleon has a good heart despite her adventurous side) before they head off in her spaceship together on a wild ride.

The plot is fast paced. Really fast. The characters dodge with the spaceship from one hairy situation into the next, and  in the process, visit a couple interesting places around the world. It reminded me of an action scene taken out of a movie and held the tension and humor of one too. With short scene changes, we're taken from Aoleon's spaceship as she tries to maneuver her way out of the chase to NASA to a boy in Chicago's apartment to the White House and other places. These scene and point of view changes made for hilarious moments but at times, seemed like a movie trying to add interesting shots. My biggest complaint was that this chase thing simply went too long. The book only has 118 pages and this scene went all the way to page 70. First, then did the reader head to Mars and learn of the real intrigue (which we got just a taste of here and seems to be continued in book 2). This isn't a high plot book, but then, it wasn't designed to be.

The characters are fun. Aoleon has a great mixture of mischief, heart and curiosity. If a kid had to run into anyone from Mars, she'd definitely be the alien of choice. Gilbert, the main character, falls short in her shadow. . .but what boy wouldn't when set up with a Martian girl like her? There isn't much character depth to either one and that makes it hard to really care about what happens to them (sympathize with them) but this isn't a story about heart, it's one of action. And that is done well.

The writing itself is as fast-paced as the plot. The language is modern day and hits just the right amount of details to let the reader dive into the world and see it happening around them. The vocabulary itself is difficult. I appreciated the glossary at the back to help with some words, and I'm a total supporter of having 'bigger' words mixed in to help strengthen a kid's vocabulary (after all, if they don't learn it while reading, then when?) But there are terms which really streamed past any middle graders (and most YAers) vocabulary and were simply thrown in as if the kids would understand. My son found this frustrating, and he's a complete science/space nerd.

This is a book, which from the cover, promises fast-paced, modern graphic adventure, and that's exactly what it gives. It would be great for reluctant readers if it weren't for the vocabulary hang-ups. The illustrations are perfect, modern day wonders and there are lots of extras including a downloadable song available, making it perfect for today's marketing main stream. The illustrations on almost every page are amazing, making this a potential great grab for kids who shy away from thicker books. Can't wait to see what happens in the next books, since the real plot appears to only have begun.


In LeVasseur's debut middle-grade sci-fi novel, a friendly extraterrestrial girl whisks a Nebraska farm boy away for a wild adventure of Martian intrigue, rebellion and invasion." -Kirkus Reviews


The Martian Girl Song!

Another World - Single

Featuring Élan Noelle

Download on iTunes

And here he is. . . 

Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Connect with Brent:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Aoléon: The Martian Girl 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Missing Prince from the Amanda Moonstone Series by Dan Wright

Amanda Moonstone Volume 1
by Dan Wright
Illustrated by Kirsten Moody
YA Fantasy
200 pages

Threatened with eviction, Amanda Moonstone stumbles across a lost Prince, of which there is a reward for his safe return. Little does Amanda know is that this “reward” is actually a wicked plan created by the tyrannical King Kimera to keep his claim on the Royal Throne intact. However, finding the Prince may just be the key to undoing the one mistake that has haunted Amanda for over a year. Because being a sorceress comes with a terrible price...

From the shadows, a mysterious man in black watches every step Amanda takes. But what is his purpose? And what part does the insidious Blood gem (her most guarded of gems) have to play in Amanda's future?

And here he is. . .

Dan lives Canterbury, Kent, UK. He picked up a love of Fantasy stories after reading The Lord of the Rings, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and numerous Roald Dahl novels. He is best known for his Draconica series, a Fantasy/Manga series that has been praised for its Anime style action, humour and illustrations. He has also had a short comic strip called Queller, which was published in an anthology for the comic Lighting Strike Presents . . . and has also been a judge for a book competition at his local school.
Dan also runs various websites dedicated to the world of Draconica, a blog and he occasionally reviews books. His other hobby is playing guitar in a band called Rage of Silence. He likes all kinds of music—but he mainly listens to rock and metal, rap, some pop music and also film and video game scores. He also loves Disney and Pixar movies—often finding himself singing along to the tunes, or crying manly tears!

He is also a slave to his cat, who takes up a lot of his time when he isn’t at work or writing!

Amanda Website:
Twitter: @PandaDanWright

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: She Dreamed of Dragons by Elizabeth J.M. Walker

by Elizabeth J.M. Walker
Mirror World Publishing
YA Fantasy
234 Pages

Trina is a fifteen-year-old dragon mage in a kingdom ruled by witches and wizards – the same people who have brought dragons and other magical creatures near extinction. Trina can barely control her fire powers and is desperate for an apprenticeship, but finding a fellow dragon mage to be her teacher is proving more difficult than coming across an actual dragon.

Then there’s the Royal Tourney – a competition presented by the Queen to find a successor to the throne. Trina heads to the competition in the hopes of sparking some interest in the mage society and earning herself an apprenticeship.

She never intended to be a frontrunner in the competition.

She never meant to catch the attention of the evil witch trying to take over the throne.

She never expected to fall for a wizard.

Now Trina must face tough decisions about who she is and who she could become. Trina must ask herself: Can she really win the Royal Tourney?

or in paperback


Firstly, I know this is marked as a young adult book, but in my opinion, it's a solid middle grade novel, and I'm going to review it as such.

This reminded me a bit of THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL by Soman Chainani. Trina is a dragon mage, something which is very rare, and she's a powerful one at that. But as a dragon mage, she doesn't fit in at the school of mages. But then the school of mages itself is an outcast in a kingdom ruled by witches and wizards. Not much time was spent on the School of Mages (which is a good thing) since the real story happens at a tournament, where from 200 partakers, one will be chosen as the kingdom's heir. 

This entire set up was wonderful. I'm not usually one to get into dragon, witches and castle stories, but this one pulled me in right away. Trina is an enjoyable character, who has several kinks, but knows right from wrong and has a heart of gold. She's easy to cheer for and adore. The rest of the characters are fun and entertaining. I know several of the reviews here say that there isn't enough character depth, but for middle grade readers, it's perfect. 

There's action, and the plot is very well-paced, never leaving a reader of the 8-12 age group time to set the book down. And the dialogue was peppered with humor among the tension, creating a great atmosphere.

The scene descriptions are vivid but never wordy. Most of the book is pushed along through the dialogue and adventure, but this is something I enjoy. 

The only thing which I felt was a little lacking were the subplots. The story is pretty laid out, and there's very little happening with the other characters in the group or any secret, side-line tale. If there'd been a little more of this, I believe this story could have ridden along with the best.

As it is, SHE DREAMED OF DRAGONS is a super, fun read. I can only recommend it to fantasy fans ages 8+.

And here she is. . .
ELIZABETH J.M. Walker!!!

Elizabeth J. M. Walker lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She has always loved books and writing. As a teen she discovered zines, which inspired her to publish her own litzine of odd fairy tales for over a decade.

She Dreamed of Dragons is her first novel.

Connect with her on her website: