Category Archives: Young Adult

Saw the Forest: A Novel by Patrick L. McConnell

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

A read which keeps your heart as invested as your mind, Patrick L. McConnell’s Saw the Forest explores life through a multi-faceted lens, bringing attention to aspects of the human condition, wrapped in layers of emotion and motive through the experiences of life. Presented with a grove of eclectic characters, each on their own life’s journey but whose paths cross in dynamic and life-altering ways.

A deft storyteller, author Patrick L. McConnell, captures the attention quickly with his literate narrative, which features a well-drawn cast of characters, each as interesting as the next to meet, as well as somehow entangled within the same web of a diverse community collective. Moreover, the story divulges uniquely posed aspects of human nature, exemplified through the characters, inclusive of traits like love, bravado, religion, violence, as well as politics. Moreover, skillfully presented amidst relatable interactions which create an interwoven mosaic of human frailty and strengths, making exciting fuel for this evocative, character driven read.

Immediately, this literate, detail focused narrative brings into view the Right family; father, Artemus a doctor, Mother Taniaz, and their sons, Philip and Adam. The brothers are a unique pair, in that, younger brother Adam takes care of his elder brother Philip, who is considerably larger and stronger than him, but his mind is that of a child. As the family dynamic changes over time, after having lost both parents, the pair of brothers live humble lives as adults, still sharing a close bond. Adam, quietly stalwart, socially awkward, even reticent but well-meaning remains his brother’s faithful keeper who at times can become an unintentionally aggressive and intimidating handful.

The Gene Rasp: A Novel by Patrick L. McConnell

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

A noteworthy excursion into the world of science fiction, Patrick L. McConnell’s The Gene Rasp renders the heart and the mind rapt with its exploration of the heart and humanity through the journey of the inventor of a phenomenal life altering device offering hope to mankind for a future utopia.

Fascinating from its outset, the story takes place in the future, with the autobiography of
of central character Tom Spoon later known as Dr. Tom Maloof due to be published in the year 2165. However this is no ordinary autobiography because Tom is no ordinary person; as a matter of fact he becomes the savior of future humanity as he invents a revolutionary medical device called the Gene Rasp which can alter genetics of individuals offering cures for cancer as well as many other diseases thusly making the road to immortality a little clearer.

Easily engaging, the story captivates as Tom Spoon charms readers into his world with a humble and comfortable tone, drawing rich images as he reflects on his life, remembering people, relationships, and experiences which affected his journey from orphan to renowned doctor. He recounts having grown up in an orphanage of which we learn that life for Tom was lonely as a boy, although surrounded by many others, he was different, as he struggled with dyslexia. Believing his brain was broken but determined to overcome his affliction, he yearned to be both understood and connected to something, he began to write poetry, heartfelt masterpieces which appear interspersed throughout the story. Tom grows despite dyslexia going on to accomplish much with his life. He wins a woodworking contest at eighteen, attends college, and later graduate school. Altogether Tom’s journey culminates into a hopeful version of an immortal future.

Entirely a very likable read, The Gene Rasp garners the attention with an intelligent and richly woven journey through a science fiction narrative. I enjoyed author Patrick L. McConnell’s efforts within this work as he successfully brought forth a story that was simultaneously thought-provoking and touching. In particular, I appreciated the refreshing inclusion of intermittent QR code scanning tags and URL links as well as the inclusion of the end of the screenplay for the movie version, all served well to enhance the reading experience by creating deeper interaction with the reader. Also personally, I think this would make a great movie and I look forward to more works by author McConnell. This is a read definitely worth adding to your science fiction collection.

Harbor’s Edge by Sanne Rothman

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Sanne Rothman’s young adult thriller, Harbor’s Edge, piques the curiosity while romancing the imagination, with a story that offers mystery, the supernatural, budding romance, and an intelligent 14-year-old heroine on a profoundly insightful journey to self-discovery.

The story is set in beautiful Hawaii with which author Sanne Rothman does a wonderful job of detailing the beautiful environment. She brings forth both its timeless natural beauty as well as artfully presents intriguing aspects of Hawaiian life and culture especially with her incorporation of the lore of the dark and ancient sea monsters called The Mo’o, the legend, and mystery of which is initially contemplated by Harbor early on in the story.

Initially, as the story unfolds, we meet Harbor, a young, resilient, intelligent teenager who finds her life shrouded in mystery and sadness. Having lost both her parents under mysterious circumstances, she fights with feelings of abandonment as she seeks to solve the mystery of what truly happened. She lost her F.B.I. agent father to a cold-blooded murderer and her mother, who disappeared without a trace, leaving her and her younger sister Fig in the care of their TuTu (grandmother). TuTu owns a popular, local restaurant, featuring Hawaiian hamburgers and Harbor works at the restaurant in the drive-thru which allows her the opportunity to practice analyzing the faces of customers based on techniques from her father’s FBI profiling manuals. She works on her skills at analyzing faces in the hopes of finding clues to her father’s murderer and clues to her missing mother.

The Wild Robot and The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown

Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Wild RobotThe Wild Robot EscapesTechnology makes life easier in today’s society all over the world. Full-sized robots are capable of completing a multitude of tasks for humans. One particular technological company is sending hundreds of their robots, each packed in their own individual crate across to the ocean to their begin their new productive lives.

However, the ship encounters a hurricane sinking the ship to the bottom of the ocean. Only five crates containing robots did not sink. Quickly, one crashed into the rocks, shattering the robot inside, leaving only four. Three more robots quickly hit the rocks, breaking into pieces. Leaving just one, who somehow missed the rocks, cracked the crate, but left the last robot unscathed.
A group of sea otters played with the broken crate accidentally turning on a button on the back of the head. Breaking out of the crate, the robot became stronger every second it spent in the sunlight. How can a robot survive on an island that seems to be without humans? Can robots exist completely on their own without mankind guiding them?

Fortunately for readers, Roz finds herself alone with the native animals on this island? Can a robot develop feelings?

The Wild Robot, the first book reveals themes of loneliness and the value of friends. The unique abilities of each individual, even though not human, demonstrates that friendship can exist even without commonalities.

For Roz, she discovers her own individualism while learning to make friends and to value these friendships.

Where Dragonwoofs Sleep and the Fading Creeps by A.J. Massey

Reviewed by Diane Pollock

The snow burns! Ben has slipped into another world in his sleep, a very odd and magical world indeed. Fairies are mean, snow is hot, humans are referred to as weeds and the whole place is fading away. He embarks on a quest to save this land and meets fellow weeds along the way, as well as a myriad of other fascinating creatures.

Reminiscent of the Oz books, this land is peopled with creatures that are at once familiar and strange, like dragonwoofs. Small dragons that are very doglike in their devotion and culinary tastes! Friendly robots, cruel fairies, translucent elves and more.

World Saver by Neal Goldstein

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

World SaverMeet Cy “LUVTR41N” Orbick, a teen hooked on the World Saver computer game, and the hero of talented author Neal Goldstein’s debut sci-fi novel. Cy’s father died while flight testing a plane in New Mexico, and his mother remarried her late husband’s best friend—Captain Trent, who happened to be manning the radar when Cy’s dad’s plane crashed. Cy aspires to solve the puzzle clues of the World Saver game, and to get hired at World Saver headquarters. Little does he realize his gaming chops will be put to use helping to save real worlds.

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Westward: The Journey Of Adolf Nagel by Harry Simpson

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Westward:  The Journey of Adolf NagelComparable to the famous Louis L’ Amour western novels, Harry Simpson’s Westward: The Journey Of Adolf Nagel brings readers along on a wild and exciting jaunt through the old west.

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The novel starts out with a bang, literally, as seventeen year old Adolf Nagel is forced to go on the run to the untamed west, after thwarting the attempted rape of his beloved fiancé the beautiful Caroline. Accompanied by his long-time best friend, Oskar McGill, Adolf makes his way from Hocking County, Ohio into the vastness of the western frontier. Although great friends, Adolf and Oskar are polar opposites which makes for entertaining moments throughout the story.

The Wanderer’s Last Journey (The Orfeo Saga Book 4) by Murray Lee Eiland Jr.

Reviewed by Veronica Alvarado

The Wanderer's Last JourneyIn The Wanderer’s Last Journey, the fourth volume of the young adult Orfeo Saga, Murray Lee Eiland, Jr., delivers an exciting, fast-paced historical fantasy that will no doubt please devoted fans of the series.

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The Wanderer’s Last Journey opens with a burst of action. Traders from a foreign land have arrived Linnaeus’s kingdom, where Orfeo and Clarice are currently residing. Soon a scuffle ensues, during which Orfeo is taken captive. In order to get Orfeo back, Clarice has no choice but to send for Daryush, the Kassite. She and Semria, Daryush’s wife, join Daryush on the quest when he arrives at court. Soon, Zurga joins the search as well. He first looks for clues first at home and then travels to Egypt. There, he learns that foreigners from across the sea have kidnapped Orfeo; he soon enlists a crew to go and rescue Orfeo.

The Truth About Fragile Things by Regina Sirois

Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Truth About Fragile Things“I’m here to forgive you. It wasn’t my idea—to forgive you. It was my dad’s.”

What has made you fragile? What event in your life left you so scarred emotionally that you could break? That feeling as if you are made of glass is terrifying for each person, always wondering when you will shatter.

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For Megan Riddick, she carries the memory of her two-year-old self. As a toddler, she was following a butterfly when she ran out onto the road in front of an oncoming vehicle. Miraculously, a man pushed her out of the way, giving his life for hers. The guilt of his death and hers being spared still hangs on her like an albatross around her neck.

Megan is a junior in high-school and enjoys being the prize of the drama department. She loves becoming someone else. That is much easier than being herself.

The Book of Nonsense (Forbidden Books) (Volume 1) by David Michael Slater

The Book of Nonsense

Reviewed by Diane Pollock

What if you life depended on the next word you read? A fun and intriguing adventure story with just enough of a fantasy element for added interest. This series promises to be a winner!