Tag Archives: young adult

Life Skills – Jo Ramsey


life skillsAt first, Brian thinks of being assigned to assist in Mr. Spinetti’s Life Skills class, as a punishment. He doesn’t want to be labeled as the boy who helps in the “retard” class. Having no choice than to go, he reluctantly appears as told.

What he sees in the Life Skills class surprises him. He finds kids with a variety of handicaps doing their best to learn how to cope in the real world.

As a bisexual teen, Brian has had his share of bullying and teasing. An incident with one of the Life Skills girls makes Brian realize what they’ve put up with their entire lives.

With the help of his friends, Brian organizes a special rally, Spread the Word to End the Word. This is to make people aware of how much the word “retard” belittles handicapped people.

Jo Ramsey artfully depicts well rounded characters, presenting Brian and his own struggles with life and identity, with love and understanding. I highly recommend this story for any teen 14+. There is no explicit sexual content, no inappropriate language or violence.

Life Skills is a wonderful story of three teens who recognize there are people in the world with problems worse than their own.

5 Golden Acorns

© 2013 Dellani Oakes


Frosty – The Adventures of a Morgan Horse Ellen F. Feld


frostyHeather is a teenage girl who loves horses. She enjoys the freedom of riding and feeling at one with her horse. She’s got a stallion she adores named Blackjack (Blackjack – Dreaming of a Morgan Horse). When the story begins, Heather is at the horse auction with her friend Laura. Her parents have given her permission to buy a second horse. As she looks around, she finds a shaggy, timid mare with whom she feels an immediate attraction. The mare is obviously a Morgan, though her coloring is unique.

Unable to resist the shy animal, Heather purchases her, little knowing how badly the horse has been abused. This becomes apparent when she takes her home and tries to train her for show riding. When that proves unsuccessful, Heather decides to make Frosty a trail horse instead.

Frosty” is a wonderful book for young readers. The story is compelling, urging the reader to continue. The relationship between Heather and Frosty becomes one of mutual love and trust as they share a grand adventure together.

Ellen F. Feld, herself a lover of horses, brings a tenderness and unique perspective to the relationship between Heather and Frosty. She also portrays the affection Heather has for her stallion, Blackjack. She characterizes both the humans and the horses well, showing their different personalities.

Frosty – The Adventures of a Morgan Horse” is a winner of Children’s Choices from the Children’s Book Council. It is well deserving of the award.

“Frosty” is a great read. It’s fun, compelling and enlightening, bringing people unfamiliar with the world of horse shows and training, into this interesting world. I very much enjoyed reading “Frosty” and hope to read other books by Feld.

ISBN 9780970900272

illus. Jeanne Mellin

Willow Bend Publishing

Children’s Book Council Award

Morgan horses, horse riding, Ellen Feld, Children’s Book Council Award, Jeanne Mellin

From the Ashes – Jo Ramsey


from the ashesShanna Bailey has had a horrible life. At the ripe old age of 14, she’s had more pain and abuse than many three times her age. Her mother, a mean and wicked woman, has beaten and belittled her for years. With the help of her new friend, Jonah Leighton, Shanna is able to get away from her mother. Now, living in a loving foster home, life has stabilized – or has it?

One thing that most people don’t know about Shanna is that she’s battled spiritual evil and survived. Jonah has taught her a lot about spiritual healing, how to combat demon possession and how to find enlightenment. It’s all new and extremely odd to Shanna, but she’s finally embraced Jonah’s beliefs. She’s found that she is spiritually strong and is learning to manage her new strength and skills.

Jonah Leighton is a unique young man. Considered weird by his peers, Shanna considers him a godsend. He befriends her early in her freshman year, delighted that an older boy finds her the least bit interesting.

Their adventures together fill several stories. “From the Ashes” is book five in the Reality Shift series. The other books in the Reality Shift series: “Connection”, “Filtration System”, “Cutting Cords” and “Taking Control”.

In one of the prior books, an entity from another reality, wants to enter ours. Jonah and Shanna learn that if it passes into our world, it will destroy everything. They manage to prevent it once, but can they do it again? Join them as they embark on their fifth exciting adventure.

The story is well crafted, the characters interesting and realistic. Jo Ramsey handles the relationship between Shanna and her mother well, showing the fear of a child from an abusive home. She brings an element of tenderness to the relationship between Jonah and Shanna, of a friendship established in mutual interests and shared danger.

Even though “From the Ashes” is written with young adults in mind, it’s a great story for adults too. I highly recommend this book to any readers of paranormal adventure.

5 Golden Acorns

© 2013 Dellani Oakes

Draçian Dance – Nicole Izmaylov


dracian dance coverSarah Lynn Loque is the daughter of an explorer. Unfortunately, her father, James, disappeared on an expedition. In his absence, her mother has died. Left only in the care of her fussy uncle, Richard, she’s traveled to the New World from their home in United Kingdoms of the West.

Excited to be on her first expedition, she gets angry with Uncle Richard for keeping her grounded in camp. She sneaks away one night with only her friend Daniel for company.

The New World is nothing like her home. A jungle world, it’s full of strange plants and dangerous animals. As she and Daniel make their way through the undergrowth, they come across one of these creatures. In the ensuing confrontation, they are separated and Sarah Lynn is taken by—dragons!

The Draçar, as they call themselves, are a fascinating species. Fully sentient, they communicate by telepathy. Although they haven’t the weapons and tools that humans have, they are still quite advanced. Sarah Lynn is stunned by their culture. Çele, the leader of the Tribe of the Winding Rose, assigns her care to a young male Draçar, Tag’ren. They become fast friends and have many adventures together.

Sarah Lynn is an exceptional girl. She’s bright, well educated and curious. She is, in effect, a born explorer. She embraces the new culture, learning everything she can about it. She also learns to view her own people in a very different light.

Tag’ren is also an exceptional person. The young Draçar is kind and gentle, though he has the skills and instincts of a fierce warrior. In many ways, he and Sarah Lynn are exactly alike. In others, completely different. Their friendship develops throughout the book, making them close friends.
“The Draçian Dance” is a sweeping fantasy as amazing as the Draçar themselves. Nicole Izmaylov has sprinkled just enough real history into her novel to make it believable, but at the same time takes the New World and makes it her own.

“The Draçian Dance” is perfect for middle grades on up, making it also a great read for adults. The characters of Sarah Lynn and Tag’ren are wonderfully well rounded and believable. Their actions speak loudly about overcoming differences and finding friendship.
I highly recommend “The Draçian Dance” for any lover of fantasy.

Five Golden Acorns
© Dellani Oakes
Dellani Oakes is the author of Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo. Look for them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Connection – Jo Ramsey


connection by jo ramsey coverShanna Bailey’s life is far from happy. Her mother is overprotective and abusive. Her father does nothing to protect his daughter—never inserting himself between them. Now that she’s starting high school, Shanna isolates herself further, but hopes for one friend to ease her loneliness.

Her first day of school is predictably bad, but she happens to meet Jonah Leighton, an even bigger outcast than she. They become friends. Shanna isn’t sure how to handle the attention and kindness Jonah offers, thinking it make her beholden to him. Never having had a real friend, she alternates between accepting him and shoving him away. Regardless of how she behaves, Jonah continues to be friendly.

 Kaylie Sturbridge is rich and the most popular girl in school. Unfortunately, she has a problem that only Jonah and Shanna can help her with. She doesn’t want their help, but knows she can’t do this on her own and they are the only people who don’t abandon her.

“Connection” is the first book in Jo Ramsey’s ‘Reality Shift’ series. In it, we meet the two main characters, Shanna and Jonah. Both outcasts, they cling together in a friendship that seems to have spanned the ages. If one believes in past lives, as Jonah does, they were probably friends or lovers before. Their new relationship is unique, for each of them has never felt this immediate connection before.

 Ramsey, as always, treats her characters with deep respect, even love. She shows aspects of Shanna’s life that make the reader weep. Despite years of abuse, Shanna is a kind, loving person of intelligence. She may have problems with math, but she excels at other subjects. Her favorite thing to do is write. She’s filled notebooks with her stories, using them as a way to escape.

The reader learns less about Jonah, but it’s obvious that his life is vastly different from Shanna’s. He comes from a loving family. Although they don’t understand all that he’s into, they respect him and his beliefs.

I look forward to seeing how the relationship between Shanna and Jonah grows and matures as the characters do. I sense a deep, abiding love there that probably neither of them quite recognizes yet.

Jo Ramsey continues to be one of my favorite authors. Her work is consistently great, her characters well rounded, her plots engaging. She may write for YA, but her books are a wonderful read for adults as well. I loved “Connection” and will be reading more of the Reality Shift novels.

5 Golden Acorns

© Dellani Oakes

Cluing In – Jo Ramsey


cluing in cover Jamey Mandel is an average teenager with average problems. He’s got a great girlfriend, Tina, of whom he’s very fond. All that changes suddenly when Tina decides to break up with him because he won’t have sex with her. Angry and hurt, Jamey ends up in a fight at school. Suspended for several days, he comes back to find that Tina has already moved on and is dating a guy he can’t stand, Grey.

Frustrated by circumstances, Jamey turns to his friends, Jebbie and V.J. for companionship. He does his best to ignore Tina, but she has other ideas. For some reason, she starts calling him, trying to be friends. She wants him to listen to her, but he refuses. He even starts to date Amanda, a friend of Tina’s.

Cluing In is a wonderful YA novel written by Jo Ramsey. It deals with tough issues like teenage pregnancy, abortion and suicide. Ramsey deals with these openly, showing the raw underside left after a relationship ends and another turns sour. She voices various opinions without being judgmental.

As always, Ramsey’s characters come alive on the pages. She has a talent for finding the unique voice of everyone – especially Jamey. She shows his anger and frustration with loss of someone he cares about, as well as his growth and acceptance of the changes in his life.

Cluing In is a wonderful book for anyone 16+. This is an excellent novel, wonderfully written in language that teens can relate to. I highly recommend this book.

Five Golden Acorns

© 2012 Dellani Oakes

Tales of Aradia: The Last Witch, Volume 1 – L.A. Jones


Tales of Aradia: The Last Witch, volume 1 – L.A. Jones


300 years ago, vampires scourged the countryside, eradicating witches. Total annihilation was the goal, total genocide of the entire race of witches – and they were almost successful. Only the Seer of the Witches was able to elude them long enough to save her daughter, casting her into time. There, she was safe, born again in the future, not even knowing exactly who she is.


In the present, Ross and Liza Preston are driving home after being told by a fertility clinic that they will never have a child. Devastated by the news, they hardly expect to find a child abandoned in the wilderness. Seeing it as a sign, they take her home and adopt her, naming her Aradia.


The story moves ahead about 14 years and Aradia is starting high school. Her dad’s career change has necessitated a move from Arizona to Salem, Massachusetts. As an assistant district attorney, he’s been given his first big case, the Vampire Murderer, as the press has dubbed the mysterious killer who drained his victim of blood.

In a whole new school, Aradia faces her first day with trepidation. Fortunately, she makes friends with some other seeming outcast students, Rhonda, Felix, Everett and Calvin. She also meets a young man in PE named Roy and shows a little of what she can do by racing him on the track.


During the day, Aradia notices some of the other teenagers are too good looking for words. Roy is almost in this category, but Tristan and Dax are the two best looking guys in school. Aradia dubs them ‘too good to be true’.


Little does Aradia know, but much is afoot. The so called Vampire Murder may have been committed by an actual vampire! There is far more to Salem than meets the eyes and Aradia is about to get in over her head. Against her parents’ wishes, she investigates the murders, searching for the killer. What she finds is even more astounding than she anticipated.


Tales of Aradia: The Last Witch, volume 1, is extremely well paced, building steadily to the climax. The characters are believable, even though they are, for the most part, not human. Having it set in Salem is fun. According to the story, it’s a hot spot for paranormal creatures (or hiddens) to dwell. This is a wonderful book young adults and older adults as well. The language isn’t objectionable and there are no sexual scenes. It would make a great read for anyone 12 and up.


I highly recommend Tales of Aradia: The Last Witch, volume 1 and look forward to reading more about this plucky teenaged heroine.

Five Golden Apples