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Just City

This gripping story follows Nathan, a hard-working young man in San Francisco with a dream to become an entrepreneur. He and his friends need $10,000 to enter a competition in order to win a startup opportunity. Nathan’s grandmother, a neuroscientist, presents the young entrepreneurs with the chance to fund their goal by participating in a VR simulation called Just City. This experience snowballs into self-discovery and reflection – contemplating earned success, privilege, and values. Nathen looks for identity reflected through various relationships. Ultimately, he arrives at a place of contentment, knowing that he is being true to himself through love and reason.

Olga Tymofiyeva creates a compelling narrative in Just City, where the main character must walk between two worlds. The ideas explored are complex and meaningful to the character’s growth. The concept of privilege and empathy are timely to society without being devoid of hope.

Nathan begins with a view that lacks humanity but ends with a balanced position capturing the inherent worth of those around him. Nathan’s grandmother acts as a loving sounding board during his paradigm shift, honestly guiding him while respecting his personal exploration. A relatable aspect of this book is the evolution that Nathan’s relationships undergo as he searches to define his worldview.

The narrative feels blocky at first glance but feels more appropriate as you get to know Nathan and his internal dialogue. Nathan approaches everything analytically, and it is reflected in how his thoughts are organized. Nathan is self-centered at first, which might feel slightly off-putting. However, his growth journey is relatable to many who have encountered challenging information. Especially if the world’s cruelty has quieted the child-like compassion in all of us.

Just City is a compelling coming-of-age young adult novel about self-discovery. The journey the protagonist embarks on is relatable to teens, and virtual reality makes the message more relevant in this age of technology. This thought-provoking novel is perfect for young adults and teenagers who may question how the world is changing and what they can do to improve things.

Pages: 147 | ASIN : B0BLJ3X1QZ

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Sofia Gama and the Templar’s Prophecy

From the country of Portugal comes a fresh new take on the genre of middle-grade fantasy. In the days of the Templars, heroes bravely sacrifice everything to seal away a deadly threat. But the forces of evil are not so easily extinguished. The insidious force remains, seeking to one day overthrow all that is good in the world.

Sofia Gama, a Portuguese schoolgirl in the modern day, soon learns that she is a part of this mysterious world of magic and mystery and will have her own part to play in saving the world from utter annihilation. However, when the truth of her story comes forward too quickly, Sofia must harness the strength within her spirit to do what is right and protect those she loves.

Translated from its original Portuguese, Sofia’s story is a fantasy adventure that thinks outside the box. A tale is woven over a thousand years of world events, the interplay of the fantastic and historical meld together perfectly. The historical information was, in most respects, correct. However, as this book was originally in another language, there are a few interestingly translated words throughout. Additionally, I was nearly a quarter of the way through the book before Sofia’s part of the story truly began.

Once the book takes off, it is a nonstop rollercoaster of an adventure. Sofia and her best friends Eduardo, Joana, and Filipe face dangerous magic, evil henchmen, and despicable bullies. The descriptions of the Portuguese coast and school life, something an American audience seldom gets to see, were the best moments of this story. Add that to the unique perspective of a magical world where there is no separation between the sacred and the secular, and you get an incredible adventure that’s as out of the box as it gets. From hardcore single dad Miguel to the spunky Joana, the characters in this narrative are as vibrant and memorable as the colors of the rainbow.

A tale of faith, family, and friendship, Sofia Gama and the Templar’s Prophecy by Isabel Ricardo is a thrilling young adult fantasy novel. This in-depth book is perfect for avid readers who crave something new and great for ages 12 and up due to fantasy violence, fatalities, and mild language. An original take on an established genre, Sofia’s story is packed full of surprises and suspense in a truly unforgettable story.

Pages: 417 | ISBN : 1949868605

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Liberation

After reading the first part of M. C Ronen’s Liberation trilogy, The Shed, it felt right to proceed to the second part. The story picks up immediately after Sunny escapes from Nature’s farm. We get insight into her life after she’s recruited by DaSLiF, an activist organization with the sole purpose of liberating enslaved people. 

Leaving her past behind, Sunny strives to get acquainted with her new reality, but she is still haunted by nightmares from her past, particularly Jacqueline Roth. Roth is the reformed nature’s farm soldier responsible for her mother’s death, and Sunny is convinced that this former assassin is not all she appears to be.

Liberation by M. C Ronen is an independent read, so if you’ve not read part one, you will not be lost when reading this book. M. C Ronen carefully refills all the loopholes from part one. However, I recommend reading it for better context.

The author creates a world where all forms of slave exploitation are legal, a symbolic representation of animal exploitation in the real world. The brutal conditions these enslaved people find themselves in emphasize the cruelty of humanity. Readers’ discretion is, however, advised for young readers as the book contains detailed scenes of horrific experiences that could be triggering.

Another commendable element of Liberation is Sunny’s character development. She undeniably evolves from a dairy slave to an activist while balancing an ordinary life as a teenage girl. She confronts her fears, although not without a few missteps. M. C Ronen crafts an empathic character, making us feel the apprehension of the protagonist.

Liberation is a suspenseful dystopian novel that will leave readers with much to think about. The dynamic characters and drama of fighting for freedom will have readers waiting for the third installment to see how things end.

Page: 300 | ASIN : B084KKNJ77

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The Shed

The Shed is a suspenseful young adult novel and is the first installment of the Liberation trilogy authored by M.C Ronen. This chilling dystopian story revolves around Sunny and her seemingly apocalyptic community called Nature’s farm. Sunny lives in blissful ignorance, governed by strict rules and occasional raids. Her innocent bubble bursts when she discovers a disturbing revelation of what goes on in The Shed: a place off-limits to younger children on the farm. Stomach-churning secrets surround the shed that Sunny and her friend begin to uncover as they begin to explore forbidden areas on the farm.

With this gripping tale, M.C Ronen delivers powerful writing that will chill you to the core. The author’s use of detailed descriptions creates graphic images that will forever be stuck in the mind of readers. I found certain parts of this story unnerving, adding to the dystopian feel. This thrilling story is quite the page-turner, and I found myself flying through the pages.

The author is excellent at character development. The character of Sunny starts out as this naïve girl and develops into a strong independent thinker who starts to question her surroundings. With a strong intuition, Sunny can sense when danger is near and uses this to her advantage to survive the raid that attacks the farm in the opening chapter.

The story progresses smoothly, and the tension remains until the very end. M. C Ronen keeps the reader wondering what is going to happen next. Unfortunately, when the story ends, readers will be left waiting for the second book in this series to find out what happens to Sunny’s character.

The Shed is a shocking and unpredictable dystopian novel. Readers will be taken into a dark and thrilling world where women must fight for their very survival. Older teens and young adults will find this to be a suspenseful read and find it hard to put down.

Pages: 302 | ASIN : B07H4GYYLY

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A Person Can Choose to be Good or Bad

Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait Author Interview

Stone Dragons Kingdom follows a city of people that are dragon riders as they try and protect their city and world from destruction. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for this story was to create a situation where a villain can have a change of heart. It shows, I think in a dramatic way, how allowing other people to help you can lead down a wrong path, as indicated by the Stone Dragons Kingdom, but also on a human level, we have Belinda who focuses on all she doesn’t have, rather than what she does have. If she could only reach that light inside her, what would change?

Learning she has strong and deep powers changes Belinda. What were some driving ideals behind Belinda’s character’s development?

Belinda is a very interesting character. She stems from a person consumed with being the best, but when she isn’t, she’ll go to the extreme to show that she is the best. In her development, I wanted to show, no matter what, a person has a choice of what they want to be, either for bad or good. With Belinda, I chose to show that she was only one choice away from changing her life.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Yes, but as always, they only come to light after I’ve written a story. I think the main theme of this one is redemption. The story starts out harshly for Belinda, even though others believed her to have changed, it took her a long time before she could shake her demons to find the person she wanted so much to become.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Thank you for asking! Well, The Stone Dragons Kingdom was supposed to be the last for this series, but… one of my characters had something else in mind! I’m currently writing The Spires of Dasny: 5 ~ The Northern Kingdom. It’s on pre-order now and will be released by Fall 2022.

It may not be the last of the series, either ~ the same character has been given knowledge of how their current kingdom will undergo change, and he’ll be instrumental to this change.

Author Links: GoodReads

Continue the saga of the award winning young adult bestselling series, The Spires of Dasny as Book 4 takes you on a journey to another kingdom. Belinda, an ambassador from the Spires of Dasny is now living amogst the Stone dragons and teaching the ways of the Spires to them, including the bonds made between dragon and rider. She stays with them after they healed her beloved dragon, Sezalor… or so those in the Spires believe.
It’s only after Seyra hears from the Truth Speaker, that she learns the truth behind Belinda. What she learns could not only destroy the Spires, but every other kingdom in their world. Belinda holds a magic so powerful, so destructive, there may be no way of stopping her.
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Belinda

Returning to Sezalor’s lair, I pause to connect to the Rocks. Splaying my hand open, I lay my palm flat against the wall immediately feeling the surge of power enter me.

“Time is short. As promised, you will have your own kingdom as long as you carry the Rock and Water energy for us to expand. We have been locked in one place for too long. Agola grew old and set in his ways, this is why you have this opportunity to expand with us. Use the energy we absorbed by the stone-encased Xi to bring our Stone dragons under control.”
A blinding flash cracks through the wall. I feel like I’m hit by lightning, my head screams in pain with an ache like it’s being crushed by an enormous hand. Behind me, the roar of Sezalor adds to the unbearable pain. Clasping both hands over my head, I beg for it to stop. Anything, please take this pain from me! Briefly, I smell burning. In my horror I look down to find myself being burnt alive before I’m hit by a wall of Water. Darkness.
Rebirth. I suck in First Breath. Expelled from the womb of Rock and Water, I stand on shaky legs and return to my chamber to dry. As my hands move the drying cloth over my body, I discover more scales covering me from my shoulders to the biceps. I grin. Large, stone scales. Who needs armor when I have these?

Stone Dragons Kingdom

With the stone dragons as its new allies, peace returns to the Spires, but not for long. An enemy seeking the Spires’ destruction rises from within under the influence of the Xi’s mind-controlling magic and the Rock and Water gods. Seyra, Queen of the Spires, finds herself in mortal danger due to the actions of this enemy but escapes in a dramatic turn of events. The Spires Kingdom makes it out of this sticky situation only to face old enemies in the form of the Xi people again, but the brave dragon riders and their beasts secure victory for the kingdom. Elated by the destruction of the persistent Xi sorcerers, the Spires make a startling discovery that would pit them against their most brutal opponents yet in their battle for survival.

Author Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait (C.R.C.) returns with her captivating tale of dragons, humans, and magic in this fourth book in the Spires of Dasny series, Stone Dragons Kingdom. With just enough backstory and new challenges, you don’t have to worry about not having enough context to understand what’s going on. The book starts with a bang. There’s a high-tension and high-stakes scenario threatening to unravel right from the get-go. But Cowperthwait is also proficient in building anticipation as she thrusts readers right into the thick of things. She knows how to set the stage and slowly dial up the tension in anticipation for what happens next.

Cowperthwait also shows impressive control over her story as she swings from one story gap to the next but keeps things cohesive and engaging. The storytelling is also compelling as Cowperthwait expertly humanizes her characters, thus making them relatable and memorable. With a simple yet beautiful and expressive writing style, the Stone Dragons Kingdom makes for a breezy and entertaining read from start to finish.

The Spires of Dasny: 4 Stone Dragons Kingdom is a riveting young adult fantasy novel. With plenty of action and thrilling suspense, readers will be drawn into the battles and feel connected to the characters while following their saga.

Pages: 211 | ASIN : B09BTG9DLR

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