Tag Archives: Teen & Young Adult

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “The Agben School,” BY AUTHOR @SPARKES777

the-agben-school-by-jo-sparkes

  • Title:  The Agben School, Book 2 of the Legend of the Gamesmen
  • Author: Jo Sparkes
  • File Size: 2569 KB
  • Print Length: 384 Pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: Oscar Press
  • Publication Date: July 19, 2014
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN:  B00LYO1VFE
  • ISBN-10: 978-0-9853318-5-6
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Sword & Sorcery, Sports, Fantasy, Teen & Young Adult

*The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review which follows*

In the Author’s Words:

“Agben had stood for a thousand years. A mysterious school housing more than students, it was the seat of the powerful Women of Agben and the center for harnessing the potency of herbs. Few knew all that transpired within the walls.

And now Marra stood at its gate.

With friends and support stripped from her, the fragile life she’d built for herself now lays in tatters. And the source of this evil hunted her like a deer culled from the herd. The gateway before her was her only hope.

For as the city itself crumbled, all depended not on a prince trying to save his people, nor the valiant men who’d brought them this far. Everything depended on finding a magic powder in the vaults of Agben itself.

Everything depended on her.”

The second book in the series takes place in Missea. The third book, “The Dim Continent,” is in the works, and will be the last in the series. However, I’ll probably write more stories in this world because I won’t be able to resist.

From the Inside Flap: Hiding from an evil that stripped away friends and support, a young woman discovers the future of her race depends not on a prince trying to save his people, nor the heroic men who’d brought them this far. Everything depends on her.

 My Recommendation:

The Agben School is the exciting sequel to The Birr Elixir which I read and reviewed here.

The story resumes with Marra and the Truemen team finally arriving in the land of Missea, where Tryst is a Skullan prince, although nobody knows his real identity. The Skullan and the Trumen are the gamesmen. The Trumen are the smaller, weaker race, while the Skullan is the physically superior race which rules the kingdom.

New to the city, Marra looks for a shop where she can buy herbs for her elixir for the team. The boy running the shop presents her with a mysterious box. She keeps it hidden, not knowing its actual use, or who it was meant for. As a Truemen, Marra is required to be subservient to the Skullan, so she keeps her secret.

Marra’s herbalist skills out surpass many other Bristas. It is revealed that she possesses an acute sense of smell, a gift so rare, it earns her a coveted place as a student at the school. Once there, she learns the Women of Agben are the most powerful in Missea. There is a mystical magic found in the potions and elixirs created and taught at the institution. However, there is a dark magic that hangs over the palace. Soon it becomes apparent that only Marra can rid Missea of the evil malignancy growing within the castle walls and possibly within the Agben school.

Weaving throughout the story is the game of Comet. The “game” is played in an arena with two opposing teams. At an inner circle in the field, a line is drawn in the sand by a judge. It is forbidden for the teams to cross the line until the judge allows it. There is much jockeying for the balls by both team members. Four leather balls need to be dropped into a cone shaped area to score points, which are determined by the judge. Each ball contains distinctive markings which ascertain the number of points each ball is worth. As contact sports go, I envisioned the game to be a combination of football and hockey with players participating in a competition to the death to win, if necessary.

The author, Jo Sparkes, skillfully weaves a story within a fantasy kingdom that leaves you wanting more. The detail about the Agben School and the study of herbs was excellent. There is quite the mystery here, and I am sure all will be revealed in the final book of the series, The Dim Continent.

I must add that this book could stand alone because the main details from The Birr Elixir are intertwined within the pages of the story. Even so, I loved the first book and would encourage everyone to read it. The rich descriptions put you right into the action, and you feel like you are peeking over Marra’s shoulder waiting to learn her fate.

If you love epic fantasy with the added excitement of tournament games, you will love this book and the series.

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 4
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars

4-5-stars

 

 

jo-sparkes

Author, Jo Sparks

 

About Jo Sparks:

From television shows to articles for Arizona Sports Fans Network, Jo’s been writing for years. She’s taught screenwriting at the Film School at SCC, interviewed Emmit Smith and Anquan Boldin (as Arizona Cardinals), and went on camera to make “Stepping Above Criticism.”

Her fantasy ‘The Birr Elixir’ was awarded a Silver Ippy; her script ‘Frank Retrieval’ won the Kay Snow Award.

She’s probably most recognized as the lady walking her dog in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

You can connect with Jo Sparkes through her Twitter at https://twitter.com/Sparkes777

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 5.3.16

 

 

Save

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “Szen Zone, BY AUTHOR @GARYSZENDERSKI

41InsPIbHzL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

  • Title:  Szen Zone – Reaching a State of Positive Change
  • Author: Gary Szenderski
  • File Size: 644 KB
  • Print Length: 203 Pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: Finger Touch Books
  • Publication Date: December 16, 2015
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN:  B019H83NUE
  • ISBN-10: 1500514977
  • ISBN-13: 9781500514976
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Motivational, Teen & Young Adult, Self Help

*The author provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which follows*

In the author’s words:

“From the author of Book of Szen, Stories and Inspiration for a Changing World. Whereas ZEN is of the moment and what is, SZEN celebrates what could be. The SZEN ZONE – Reaching a State of Positive Change contains lighthearted and positive narrative on life and its possibilities, with stories that cover the gamut from interesting to profound. The general overarching theme is on change and all of the aspects of it – Creating, surviving and managing change with the goal to recognize the power we have to become what we choose, both when we’re feeling in control and how to manage when we’re not in control.

The SZEN ZONE focuses on identifying the lift-off point for creating positive change. Although everyone is different and it’s a very individual and sometimes internalized process, the principles in this book can help you establish the context and right frame of mind to embrace and manage change. After many years of professionally helping individuals and companies navigate change, I’ve observed how some changes seem to take forever while unforeseen change can come right at you and in an instant move your world.”

Recommendation:

The Szen Zone is a collection of life lessons interwoven into short stories which lead the reader into the possibilities of change, and how making changes can open the doors to further growth. A self-help book in nature, it is written in a down to earth style that everyone can relate to.

The book is split into topics which then flow into each short story. At the end of each story, the author follows with his points to ponder. He then ends with a “Szenippit,” a clever play on words with his last name. Each Szenippit is a quote that really hits home with the subject discussed.

For example, Chapter Four is called, “Living in the Present.” One of my favorite quotes from the book is this:

“There is no perfect time, there is only this time, your best first chance. You know that you’re as ready as you will ever become.”

Each chapter and topic are geared at empowering us as individuals to create positive change in our lives. A detailed description of the five essential elements necessary to create positive changes is shared. They are, self-exploration; perspective; imagination; now and energy. The words create the acronym, S.P.I.N.E. which is a handy way to remember that it takes character to change and succeed in life.

It took me a couple of weeks to read the book because the subject matter really made me think about my own goals and ability to change. I weighed the possibilities and not only lived in the now, I also thought about what some of these positive changes could bring to me at this stage in my life.

It would be easy to read the book in its entirety, or split it into a topic at a time. I found myself highlighting and bookmarking many passages that spoke to me. This is the kind of book that I will refer to often. I liked the author’s message of setting goals and allowing myself the freedom to make changes that will facilitate me reaching the completion of my goals.

Are you looking at making some positive changes in your life? Don’t do it alone. Let the Szen Zone guide you down the path of self-discovery. Remember:

“Achievement is not only about reaching the goal; it’s about setting the right goal to reach. We’ll know we’ve set the right one when we can’t wait to get there.”

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 4
Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars

4.5 stars

 

 

Gary Szenderski

About Gary Szenderski:

Gary Szenderski is an author, speaker, teacher, and branding specialist internationally acclaimed as an expert on the subject. He specializes in helping people and organizations to navigate change and frequently speaks and writes on the topic of emerging brands, personal branding and companies in transition. Gary is an award-winning writer, author of the Book of Szen and SZEN ZONE. He’s an often quoted marketing expert and recipient of the Distinguished Instructor Award from the University of California at Irvine where he teaches branding. He resides in Southern California and welcomes your comments. Email him at gary@bookofszen.com.

To watch an interview with Gary Szenderski, please click the link below.

Make certain to connect with Gary through Twitter @GarySzenderski

Facebook: Books of Szen

Author blog: Szenzone.com

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 5.3.16

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “TEARS IN THE SUN,” BY AUTHOR @JAOWENBY

Tears in the Sun

  • Title:  Tears in the Sun, A Short Story
  • Author: J. A. Owenby
  • File Size: 439 KB
  • Print Length: 16 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: J. A. Owenby
  • Publication Date: December 25, 2013
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HBZOKY4
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Women’s Fiction, Drama, Teen & Young Adult, Parenting & Relationships

*The author gifted me a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review which follows*

From the Author, J. A. Owenby:

“A Short Story – Lacey, a senior in high school, has never heard of borderline personality disorder yet she lives with it every day. As she begins realizing her family isn’t as normal as she thought, she searches for help and answers. Those answers turn her world upside down, and she is left with making life changing decisions for not only herself but her mentally ill mother who she loves more than anything.”

Recommendation:

This is an entertaining short read that really takes your breath away. Mental Illness can be debilitating to a family’s structure and Lacey’s family is no exception. I won’t kid you, there are some scenes in this story that will affect you deeply.

I found the characters to be well thought out and totally realistic. I felt great empathy with Lacey as a teenager trying to cope with her mother’s religious obsessions which she forced on everyone, near and far, all symptoms of a deepening mental illness burgeoning out of control.

The one salvation for Lacey was Patsy, her mother’s lover who had bought the house with her mother years ago. Their relationship hints at a deep friendship and emotional alliance against the shame and humiliation forced upon them from the ravages of the mother’s mental illness.

All books start somewhere and J. A. Owenby shared with me that she wrote this short story in 2011. She worked with an editor from Writer’s Digest and decided to put it on Amazon a few years later. Jen said that after her short story was published she had many people reach out and ask for a full novel, so she finally wrote it.

Her novel will be released later this year and called, “The Truth She Knew.” The book will include Lacey, Mama, and Patsy from the short story, and additional characters. Jen adds that she addresses issues in the novel including mental illness, mental/physical abuse, and religious manipulation. Lacy falls in love for the first time in the novel and is able to summon all her strength to make some very difficult decisions.

As of the date of this review, Jen was not sure of a publication date for the novel. I understand it is in the hands of her editor. However, I am sure if you connect with her on her blog or social media you will be able to follow the novel’s progress.

This is one you won’t want to miss!

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 4
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars

4.5 stars
J.A. Owenby

About J. A. Owenby:

J. A. (Jen) Owenby lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and two cats.

She’s a published author of six short stories and is beginning her first full-length novel. J.A. doesn’t mess around when it comes to working with a professional team in order to present her best writing.

She also runs her own business and helps people find jobs they love as a professional resume writer.

She is an avid reader of thrillers, romance, new adult and young adult novels. She loves music, movies, and pop tarts. Her downtime consists of a beautiful summer evening, snuggling with her hubby outside underneath the stars. If it’s winter, listening to the rain and watching NFL football.

You can follow the events of her upcoming novel on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JAOwenby, and on Twitter at J A Owenby, Author at https://twitter.com/JAOwenby. Look for J. A. Owenby on her blog at Jen’s Thoughts https://jenowenby.wordpress.com/.

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 1122016