Tag Archives: young adult

Book Review: The Universe Builders: Bernie and the Wizards by Steve LeBel

26 Apr

Title: The Universe Builders (Book #3): Bernie and the Wizards

Author: Steve LeBel

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Publication Date: June 15, 2017

Description (from Goodreads)

Bernie fixes broken universes for a living. Unlike other gods, who tend to take a hell-fire-and-brimstone approach to problem-solving, Bernie prefers a more gentle approach.

Bernie’s job is to restore production on the planet Photox, but he soon discovers a world caught up in a civil war. With a hard-to-please boss breathing down his neck and a personal life in desperate need of relationship advice, Bernie’s chances of success are dwindling fast. The gods on Bernie’s world are no help. If he fails to restore production, they will destroy Photox’s entire population.

Bernie is desperate to keep this from happening, even if the murderous wizard causing all the problems is powerful enough to hurt a god…

All books in The Universe Builders series are standalone and can be read in any order. The first book, Bernie and the Putty, won 16 national and international awards for excellence. 


My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free advanced review copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. I had read Bernie and the Putty and Bernie and the Lost Girl and I’ve been patiently waiting for this book to be ready.

I love the world that Steve LeBel has created in which gods create universes. Unfortunately, most of the gods believe that their creations have no feelings so they have no qualms about destroying a universe if it didn’t turn out the way they wanted. Bernie believes that all life forms, especially higher life forms that have intelligence, should be preserved if at all possible. He suspects that they may even have souls. This is causing Bernie problems in his new job in which he is a troubleshooter. His boss is ready to wipe out the farmers on the planet Photox that Bernie is working on but Bernie is working hard to save them. With a final deadline approaching, Bernie is running out of time.

The characters are well developed and have mostly human characteristics. Bernie, the main character, is a young god, famous because of winning an award for a universe he created. His best friends are Suzie and Lenny and they try to help him figure out ways to save Photox. 

I like Steve LeBel’s writing style. He brings the characters and the planets alive. I’m sure Bernie and the Wizards will be winning awards like Bernie and the Putty did. Now if I could only fast forward time long enough to grab a copy of Steve’s next book…

Pre-order on Amazon.


About the Author

What is the best way to describe an author who writes humorous fantasy?
Do we tell about bookshelves full of fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal books, his love of mythology, or the years he spent as dungeon master? Or is it more important to know his favorite player-character was a chaotic-good elven fighter / magic user? What about that stack of old comic books he never seems to get rid of?

But there’s a serious side too. The other half of his bookshelf is filled with books on management, marketing, computer programming, and financial analysis? What about his years as a hospital president, or the many businesses he created, his years as a stock trader? What about his early years counseling drug addicts?
Is there a pattern to his travels around the world? Why chose places like King Arthur’s Camelot, the Temple of Delphi, Buddha’s Tree of Enlightenment, China’s Forbidden City, or the Great Pyramid of Egypt? What is it he’s searching for?
And what does any of this have to do with writing a good fantasy book?
Perhaps it’s that mix within Steve that makes The Universe Builders such a delightful story with such serious undertones.


Book Site:  www.TheUniverseBuilders.com
Email:  Steve@TheUniverseBuilders.com
Facebook Fan Page:  www.facebook.com/SteveLeBel.Author
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SteveLeBel.Author2
Twitter: @SteveLeBel




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Book Review: Savages by Katherine Bogle

12 Apr


Savages (Chronicles of Warshard #2)


Daughter of Chief Ruin, Breen, is one of the most fearsome warriors in the Southern Delica Tribe, but nothing can stop the Emperor from reaping the Savage Lands for soldiers.

When her village is attacked, Breen is taken from her home and her family to the Seaburn Academy, where southern savages are broken and chained into a life of service to the Empire. Through the beatings and torture, Drakkone, one of the few Seaburn-born soldiers, brings solace to her days and gives her hope for the future.

Once freed of the Academy dungeons, Breen is sentenced to daily training between her plots for escape. But one night of unexpected passion turns into a problem bigger than either of them could have imagined.

Breen and Drakkone must risk capture and flee the city or death might be a blessing compared to eternal imprisonment.


Buy the Book:



My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. I had read Haven by Katherine Bogle and really liked it so I jumped at the chance to read and review this book.

Savages is about Breen, who is taken from her home when she is a teen, locked in a dungeon with other warriors from her tribe, and is tortured until she’s broken. It gets to the point that she either give in or die. One of the enemy soldiers, Drakkone, persuades her to make a decision to give in before it’s too late.

Breen’s honor and determination are admirable. Everything she does is with escape on her mind. She must get home to her people. Drakkone does what he can to help her but it becomes apparent that escape is the only option for both of them.

The second half of the book draws on the story from Haven and would be confusing if I hadn’t read it first. It is nonstop action since Breen and Drakkone are on the run.

Savages is a young adult fantasy that I definitely recommend for young adults as well as adults. But be prepared: it is not a light-hearted read since it is full of fighting, torture, and loss. 




About the Author

2016-08-31_14-25-16Katherine Bogle‘s debut young adult novel, Haven, came second in the World’s Best Story contest 2015. She currently resides in Saint John, New Brunswick with her partner in crime, and plethora of cats.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook





The Amazon purchase link in this post is an affiliate link. Purchasing through it helps sustain Bound 4 Escape.




Book Review: Taken by the Shadow by Rue

6 Apr

Title: Taken by the Shadow (The Chronicles of Hawthorn #4)

Author: Rue

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: February 5, 2017



Captive. Heartbroken. Sentenced to death.

The Shadow Witch has finally won. Flynn Hawthorn, heir to the wand of the Coven of the Sacred Wood, has been Taken by the Shadow.

As the peace of Aotearoa is shattered by the evil seeping out of Dreamwood Forest and Magdelana continues her quest for power, Flynn remains a prisoner.

Flynn’s magick is held in check by cruel iron bracelets and she is forced to choose between her love for her people and her constant craving for dark magick—knowing that her decision has the potential to change the future for the inhabitants of Aotearoa and Southeil.

Flynn has to make a decision: salvation or destruction.

But for whom?

Available on Amazon.


My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

I love this series! I read the first three books and had to start this one right away because book #3, The Shadow Calls, ended in a cliffhanger. Poor Flynn has been taken by the Shadow Witch and things don’t look promising for her or her people.

Flynn, the main character, is supposed to become High Priestess after her mother. How can she do that when she’s been imprisoned by the Shadow Witch? They’ve put iron bracelets on her so that she can’t use her powers, although eventually they let her remove them for short periods of time because Magdelena, the Shadow Witch, wants to use Flynn and bring her to the dark side. 

I’ve grown to love the characters in the Chronicles of Hawthorn. They’re well developed and Rue’s writing flows well. I can’t wait for the next book! Obviously, I recommend this series. To get the most out of the books, I suggest reading them in order.


About the Author

Rue_2013BW(2)Rue graduated from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, with a degree in Journalism. Her intimate knowledge of the Midwestern United States, the inordinate amount of time she spent in its churches’ pews and her unique parentage make her an expert on life after religion. Having moved 17 times by the time she graduated from high school Rue has seen more than her share of the Great Plains. She never stayed in one place long enough to make lasting human friends. Her best friends were all characters from her beloved books; and the love of reading led to a lifelong passion for writing.




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Book Review: Feel Me Break by Tara R.

18 Mar

Chloe Reed and Nick Grayson couldn’t have more different lives. Where Chloe had a bleak future and was trying to deal with a loss that had left a hole in her heart, Nick was a happy-go-lucky guy, leading a carefree life with a path set.

Until one fateful night, they met and everything changed. The night that gave Chloe hope for the future, left Nick scarred for life. Was their meeting a one-off tryst or was their story just beginning?


My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Nick and Chloe meet one fateful night. Nick saves Chloe from ending her life and after he leaves her with a friend, his life changes in an instant. Both Nick and Chloe are broken and think about each other all the time but they don’t know how to contact one another. Even though they hardly know each other, that night brought them together.

When Nick and Chloe meet by chance two years later, Chloe is doing better and she can see that Nick is suffering. She wants the chance to save him this time. What happens next? I don’t know because that’s how this novella ends!

Feel Me Break is good and I recommend it, but only if you plan on reading the book that follows, Watch Me Rise.


Available on Amazon.


The Amazon purchase link in this post is an affiliate link. Purchasing through it helps sustain Bound 4 Escape.

Book Review: Roam by Erik Therme

28 Feb


Three strangers, each searching for something out of reach.

Sarah Cate, celebrating her twenty-first birthday, is pushed over the edge after car trouble strands her in the middle of nowhere with an angry, unstable boyfriend.

Kevin Reed, a troubled adolescent abused by a loveless father, roams the night in his black Camaro, looking to pay forward one of the few acts of kindness he’s ever received.

Scotty Mason, plagued by profound guilt and completely detached from his world, is haunted by the unshakable fear that something inside him is dangerously broken and cannot be fixed.

When their lives intersect in an unsavory hotel with a bloody history, all three will struggle to exorcise their personal demons, unaware that a bigger threat is looming . . . and waiting for the right moment to strike.

Like Joshua Gaylord and Daniel Kraus before him, author Erik Therme explores the angst of disconnected youth in his enthralling and powerful Roam. Therme’s darkly tinged novel is an unforgettable tale of three errant souls brutalized by life’s cruel circumstances, and a remarkable night of discovery and violence that will change them forever.


Available on Amazon


My Review

I received a free e-copy of this book from the author and I chose to review it. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. I had read and enjoyed Resthaven and Mortom by Erik Therme so I was happy to read this book and it is my favorite of his so far.

Roam is about just one night and that’s how long it took me to read it because I couldn’t put it down. In that one night, Sarah and Kevin meet, face obstacles and danger, and realize that they like each other. They also share their stories and get to know one another better than some people get to know each other over a long period of time.

The characters in Roam are complex and none of them have an easy life. There is no gray area with most of these people, though. I either liked them or not. Sarah and Kevin are far from perfect but I couldn’t help liking both of them and hoping that they would not only get through the night, but would end up together. Scotty is the only one that I didn’t really like or dislike. I just felt sorry for the poor guy.

I definitely recommend Roam for young adults and adults alike, especially if you like a book full of suspense.



About the Author

2017-02-28_15-00-41Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader.

When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering for his oldest daughter’s volleyball team, or chilling on the PlayStation 4 with his thirteen-year-old. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only seven places in the world UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.





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Book Review: Deadly Beauties by Cherita Smith

16 Feb


Genre: Dark paranormal, young adult

Pages: 41

Publication Date: August 3, 2016

Hell has its demons. Lux has Foster Dad George in LUX AETERNA, a coming-of-age superpower origin story—of a darker sort. Lux is just one of five troubled girls who haunt this trio of dark paranormal tales that will appeal to fans of Laini Taylor & Francesca Lia Block.

In MAUDLIN CARNIVAL, a mysterious investigator hunts through the memories of Evelyn Jones in search of the clues he needs to prevent her tragic death. But time is almost out. What will happen to Evelyn if he should fail?

In ROZA MIRA, Svetlana, Catalina and Soojin have it all: beauty, youth, successful modeling careers… and a creepy man in black who watches them from afar. But each day he gets closer. They call him El Flaco, Geulimja, a Rasputin in a suit. Who is he and what does he want? The three girls will soon find out—whether they like it or not. And chances are good it will be “or not.”


 Amazon     Goodreads     iTunes     Barnes & Noble     Kobo


My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

In some ways, it’s more difficult to review short stories because there’s less content than in a full-length novel, however, I did enjoy these short stories. They’re dark but interesting.

There wasn’t a lot to Lux Aeterna, but I did like where it was going with her power.

Maudlin Carnival was a little difficult to follow but it had an interesting premise. This investigator is looking through the memories of Evelyn Jones, trying to find some tidbit to help avoid her horrible death. Will he find something in time to help her?

The Roza Mira stories were my favorites. They combine real life problems of young successful supermodels with a bit of paranormal. These girls are so driven, but are they too driven? Will they give up too much to get the fame that they crave?

I definitely recommend Deadly Beauties if you like dark fiction. I’d like to read more!


About the Author

41xlnxznfel-_ux250_Cherita Smith is a writer of fictional words, doer of magical deeds, lover of social justice, dope street art and pretty, girly things. A Los Angeles native, she writes speculative fiction of all kinds, from dystopian sci-fi to paranormal urban fantasy. Whatever the subgenre, dark, lush and haunting with a dash of creepy-thriller is her preferred writing jam.

In the not-too-distant past, her bread and butter was fundraising and online marketing for organizations like Brave New Films and Film Independent, who produce the Los Angeles Film Festival and Spirit Awards. She did a lot of writing then, too, only none of it was speculative and it was (mostly) non-fiction.



Book Review & Giveaway: Grimm Woods by D. Melhoff

9 Feb


A remote summer camp becomes a lurid crime scene when the bodies of two teenagers are found in a bloody, real-life rendering of a classic Grimm’s fairy tale. Trapped in the wilderness, the remaining counselors must follow a trail of dark children’s fables in order to outwit a psychopath and save the dwindling survivors before falling prey to their own gruesome endings.

Drawing on the grisly, uncensored details of history’s most famous fairy tales, Grimm Woods is a heart-pounding thriller about a deranged killer who uses traditional children’s stories as tropes in elaborate murders. Set against the backdrop of modern-day Michigan, it’s a journey through the mind of a dangerous zealot and a shocking glimpse into the bedtime stories you thought you knew.


Buy the Book: Amazon.



My Review

I chose to read this e-book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

I could not put this book down once I started reading it. I had to know what was going to happen next.

Scott decides to become a counselor at Camp Crownheart, a summer camp based on fairy tales that is for troubled kids. His only goal is to make some money but it doesn’t turn out that way. Soon he realizes that earning money is no longer his goal. His new goal is to stay alive and help keep the children and other counselors safe because a crazed killer is on the loose.

I wish I could say that the characters are unrealistic. Unfortunately, there are some troubled teens and twenty-somethings who act like these counselors. Note that I said some. I was disappointed in Scott at times, but his character is realistic.  

I knew that the original Grimm’s fairy tales were gruesome but I never had the desire to read them. I might have to do that now.

Grimm Woods is nonstop suspense filled with gore, terror, and is a great read. I definitely recommend it if you like a horror-filled whodunit.

Warning: contains sex, graphic violence, profanity.



About the Author

d-melhoffD. Melhoff was born in a prairie ghost town that few people have heard of and even fewer have visited. While most of his stories are for adults, he also enjoys terrifying younger audiences from time to time, as seen in his series of twisted picture books for children. He credits King, Poe, Hitchcock, Harris, Stoker, and his second grade school teacher, Mrs. Lake, for turning him to horror. For more information, visit www.dmelhoff.com.


Connect with the author:  Book Website  ~  Twitter ~  Facebook




Prizes: Win a copy of GRIMM WOODS by D. Melhoff or a $20 Amazon GC

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Audiobook Review: Beyond by Maureen A. Miller

22 Jan


It is the day after Aimee Patterson’s high school graduation. College beckons, as does her dream of becoming an engineer. On an early evening walk, her cocker spaniel charges into the woods on the other side of the pond. Aimee trails after him, and in the stillness of that forest the unthinkable happens. She becomes paralyzed and watches in horror as her hands vanish before her eyes.

Waking to the sound of voices, Aimee realizes that she has been kidnapped. Little does she know how far away from home she is, though. In an attempt to flee her captors, she launches from their confines only to freeze at the view outside the window. The sky is black and filled with stars, and in the distance is a familiar blue globe. The planet Earth.

A group of humans forced to flee their planet after an epidemic destroyed their civilization now travel the galaxies in search of an antidote. Retrieving samples of plant life from every solar system, on this occasion Aimee was accidentally seized instead.

Aimee must learn to avoid the advances of an awkward young scientist who seems intent on dissecting her, as her own fascination turns to the exotic young warrior, Zak. Having fallen in love with Zak, she is now torn with the decision to return to Earth or live beyond the stars.

Available on Amazon.


My Review

I chose to listen to this audiobook after receiving a free copy from Audiobookworm Promotions. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Beyond is the first book in the Beyond series and the first book I’ve read (or listened to) in this series. It won’t be the last. I need to find out what happens to Aimee and Zak, the main characters in this series.

I like Maureen A. Miller’s writing style. Not only does it flow well, but she throws a little humor in here and there among the drama. I do think there could have been a little more information about Aimee’s time on the ship. It was mentioned that she could spend time learning from the scientists, but it was never mentioned again and all of a sudden, it was time for her to go home.

I’m hoping to get to know the characters more in the next book. Zak and Aimee are the only two humans on the ship from different planets. They are drawn to each other and fall in love. Thankfully, it’s not love at first sight like in so many young adult books.

Emma Lysy has a distinct voice that is perfect for this story. She did the different voices well and her pauses and inflections were spot on.

I definitely recommend this audiobook to anyone who enjoys young adult books.




Book Review & Giveaway: A Thousand Salt Kisses Later by Josie Demuth

11 Jan



The spellbinding sequel to A Thousand Salt Kisses.

Four years ago, Crystal White fell in love with Llyr, a prince of the magical mer colony living off the coast of Starfish Island. For one summer, he enchanted her with stories of jeweled palaces and underwater gardens, but then he left, returning beneath the waves with her heart in tow.

Now, graduated and with no job in sight, Crystal is forced to go back to the island she thought she had left in the past. By the sea again, she realizes she is far from over her first love, and when an opportunity arises to contact the merfolk, Crystal can’t resist.

Once more with the mer, Crystal is forced to come to terms with the fact that Llyr has moved on, and also with her own magical secret that has endangered her life, his throne, and every mer kingdom. Working against all odds, she has to try to save the people she has come to love and—if she can—rekindle the romance of her first summer on Starfish Island.


Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble




My Review

I chose to read this e-book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

A Thousand Salt Kisses Later is the sequel to A Thousand Salt Kisses. Crystal White has moved on from her summer of love with Llyr. At least she has tried to. She even stays away from home on Starfish Island so that she doesn’t have to think about Llyr. Even though she’s dating someone who is very nice and who loves her, he doesn’t compare to Llyr.

Josie Demuth’s writing flows well and this is a quick and easy read. When I wrote the review of A Thousand Salt Kisses, I said the one thing I missed in the book was a detailed description of Llyr’s world because Crystal never got to see it. I got my wish in this book and I wasn’t disappointed. Josie Demuth’s descriptions of the kingdoms down below didn’t disappoint. I could picture being there among the merfolk.

The characters and their relationships are much more believable than in the first book. Crystal’s relationship with Sam, her boyfriend in London, is one-sided and she realizes that she’s not being fair to him. I thought it was funny that the one girl who hated Crystal at the beginning of the first book is now her best friend. Even though funny, it is something that often happens. I enjoyed the merfolk, the characters were unique. I did find the relationship between Crystal and Spirit a bit odd, but it did help move the plot along.

I liked this book more than the first one. It had more fantasy and drama. It’s definitely a book to check out if you enjoy young adult fantasy.



About the Author

josie-demuthJosie Demuth is an author based in London. First published on Wattpad, her Salt Kisses series has garnered nearly four million reads and are now serialised on Radish Fiction. The second of this series, A Thousand Salt Kisses Later is her fourth novel.


Connect with the Author: Website  ~  Twitter ~  Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads





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Audiobook Review: Retained by Samantha Jacobey

6 Jan


irrevocable audio.jpg
Bailey Dewitt is on a crash course with Armageddon. Orphaned, she and her young brothers find themselves living with their renegade uncle. Part of a group of survivalists, she is terrified to discover they are preparing for the end of the world! Surrounded by strangers, she ponders if they could be right; that is mankind headed for a global disaster. In a twist of fate, Caleb becomes her dearest friend and the one person she can trust to love and protect her, but when things spiral out of control, will their bond be enough to save the entire community? Or will rival forces strip away all that they have worked for at the time they need it most…


2017-01-06_10-44-15When Bailey’s parents died, her life changed in ways no one could have imagined. Taken in by her uncle and forced to live in a community preparing for global disaster, she is shown little kindness by the locals. Taught to work hard towards their common interests, the group pushes her to the limit… and beyond. Discovering that some of the members may have had a hand in her parents’ death, Bailey soon fears they may be plotting to send her to join them..

When Caleb Cross, her dearest friend, puts his own life on the line to get her to safety, he thought she should have been grateful. Instead, it opens a whole new set of obstacles for the pair as they fumble along their way. Together, they face new challenges as the world around them begins to decline into chaos. Faced with global events that could signal the coming of the apocalypse, will they discover the truth in time, and will they make it back to The Ranch before it’s too late? Find out when Bailey Dewitt becomes… Retained.



My Review

I chose to listen to this audiobook after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.


Retained picks up where Rendered left off. Bailey has tried to fit in with the community that her uncle belongs to but they decide she’s too much of a risk. She’s told she’s being taken back to finish school but Caleb takes her himself and insinuates that she never would have made it, that she would have “disappeared.” She can’t believe her uncle would have let them kill her!

Again, there’s not really a lot to this book. Rendered and Retained could easily have been one book.

Things start to go crazy when the weather turns cold and it looks like another Ice Age is possible. Caleb and Bailey decide to go back to The Ranch, hoping that she’ll be accepted by them since things have gotten so bad. When they get to The Ranch, it’s deserted. Will they be able to find the community members? Can they survive on their own?

Samantha Jacobey is a good storyteller and this was a quick and easy read. The narrator, Sarah Rogers, did a good job enunciating and made it easy to listen to Retained. She had also narrated Rendered and it’s nice to have the same narrator in a series. The pauses were appropriate and I could differentiate between voices.

I’m looking forward to reading (listening to) the next book and finding out what happens to Caleb and Bailey and hopefully get all my questions answered.


About the Author

2016-12-16_10-35-30Anyone who knows me could tell you, I am a friendly kind of person, never met a stranger and take up conversations any where at any time. I work hard, and my mind never seems to shut down, as I wake up often in the middle of the night with ideas pouring out and demanding to be dealt with. Of course that means much of my books were written in the middle of the night.

I grew up and still live in the great state of Texas where everything is bigger, where we have warm weather and a central location. I love my state, my town, and my family, which includes my four sons, my significant other, and many friends as well.

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing the books that are currently available and hope you will enjoy reading them just as much. And of course, there will be many more stories to come.


Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/SamJacobey

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00GEB5LX0

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/aut…/show/7335383.Samantha_Jacobey

Twitter – https://twitter.com/SamJacobey

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/samanthajacobey/

Fan Club / Street team –https://www.facebook.com/groups/518336211610077/


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