book reviews

Indie Authors–2 Great YA Books

I don’t read YA often enough so I’m really excited to review two I read recently and loved:

  • Einstein’s Compass — a scintillating blend of fact and fantasy to make an exciting story that includes Einstein’s greatest accomplishments
  • Stranded on Thin Ice — Isn’t twelve old enough to handle adult problems? Let’s see…

einsteins compassEinstein’s Compass

by Grace Allison and Laren Bright


Grace Allison and Laren Bright’s Einstein’s Compass (2019) is a glorious romp through a fantastical world of dragons and god-like light healers who are entrusted with protecting mankind from the realms of evil–wrapped around the historically-accurate adventures of the incomparable Albert Einstein. It starts with young Albert being gifted a compass. Being who he is, he is exhilarated and entranced, wanting to understand everything there is to know about magnetism and the forces that make that little needle point North. What he doesn’t realize is that this is a magical compass, containing valuable pieces of a mystical tool that will, in the right hands, keep the world safe, but in the wrong hands, give ultimate power to a devious creature with no respect for the boundaries between good and evil. To make that point, the authors provide us with a peek into the violent world that this special compass holds at bay. What we find is a power-crazed shape-shifter, a corrupted light healer with an insatiable lust for power.

Between his brow and the top of his skull were two chitinous horns. His burning, red eyes were riveted on the Ark, and an ichorous liquid escaped his lips as he salivated in anticipation. In one swift movement, the dark angel grasped and effortlessly lifted the Ark.

He seems unstoppable until he meets young Albert Einstein, his magical compass, and the forces of good arrayed to help the boy defeat evil.

I follow Grace Allison on social media and have been excited to read this book since I first saw it listed. What could be better than a YA book about one of the incomparable minds in history? Although it is intended for a Young Adult audience, it is well suited to adults who enjoy fictionalized history with a wide-ranging epic theme and a Harry Potter-esque plot.

Somehow, triangles seem to blend nature and science. I even see geometric designs in the flowers in the garden

Life was a series of “Xs” he decided, a series of unknowns.

“It’s complicated, Albert,” Akra interjected. “The laws of space and time, as you are learning, are filled with paradoxes and contradictions.”

As the revelation dawned, he suddenly understood that as you approach the speed of light, space distorts. Things would appear shortened. Everything was relative! Albert gasped as he became aware that he had the fundamentals of his new theory of light. 

In fact, I would even call this historical fanfiction, the magic and fantasy built on top of the factual world of Albert Einstein. I was delighted when the story delved into Einstein’s famous mind experiments. That is perfect for YAs struggling with how to solve problems.

This is highly recommended for those who enjoy a saga of good vs. evil that spans tens of thousands of years, for readers who devour novels that blend history and fantasy, and for anyone who is simply looking for a unique story that they will not want to put down.

–received a free ARC in return for my honest review

Want more Einstein? Here’s a review I wrote on Einstein: His Life and His Universe. Non-fiction and it rocks!

book reviewStranded on Thin Ice

by Sharon CassanoLochman


Preteen Tanner Phillips is sure this year he will win the ice fishing derby and be the proud owner of the best prize he’s ever seen: an ice fishing house with all the accouterments. Last year he lost his fishing pole in the ice and his dad made him sit at the ice hole the rest of the day without it but this year, everything will go perfectly. Things start going wrong before he even gets on the ice, when he sees something he shouldn’t have–a guy cheating–and the guy threatens him to keep his mouth shut. Next, still not on the ice, someone is injured and his dad has to talk to the police, leaving Tanner to set up the fishing tent on his own. Tanner’s not worried. He’s almost thirteen, been doing this for years. No problem. What he doesn’t get is why adults don’t let him run things:

“Eight months shy of my thirteenth birthday, and I’m still invisible to anyone over the age of twelve.”

“Why couldn’t my dad have had that attitude? Everything I do wrong is such a big deal”

“Some things are accidents. Some things are just plain meant to be shoulder-shrugging events.”

“I’m just packaged in a twelve-year-old body.”

When the guy in the ice tent next to him almost gets killed, Tanner’s dad again has to leave to take him to the hospital. That’s when things really go upside down. For a twelve year old kid who thinks he’s an adult, Tanner stops talking about how little he needs his dad to wishing he was there.

This is a wonderful, fast-moving, kid-oriented story about growing up, making decisions, and being a friend, with lots of realistic ice fishing details that will keep even adults fascinated.

“It was considered rude and unethical to move in on one of those holes; especially while the person who drilled it was still on the premises.”

“It’s black ice again today. Screws still in your boots?”

I can’t imagine a YA who wouldn’t love this.

–received a free ARC from Netgalley in return for my honest review

More historical fiction

Chat with Ancient Greece Writer, Luciana Cavallaro

2 Prehistoric Fiction I loved

The Singer From Memphis

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and Born in a Treacherous Timefirst in the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Survival of the Fittest, Spring 2019, first in the Crossroads Trilogy. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

34 thoughts on “Indie Authors–2 Great YA Books

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  6. Thank you, Jacqui, for wonderful reviews for two books I know my grandkids will love. We have a hard time keeping them in books, so I’ve put both of these titles on my next book order.

    Congratulations to Grace Allison, Laren Bright, and Sharon CassanoLochman for having written books that will capture the imagination of kids and teens with outstandingly written (and researched) stories.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Jill as Jacqui wrote in her review “Einsteins Compass” is not just for young adults. I wrote it for a wide audience. However, when publishing to the world I had to choose a niche and YA was born.

      My research included Albert Einstein’s early years from the biography written by Walter Isaacson, “Einstein”.

      The scenes of Atlantis came from “Initiation by the Nile by Mona Rolfe and my friend Doug Simpson who writes Edgar Cayce’s books and specializes in Atlantis.

      Here is a quote from Doug Simpson:

      Hi Grace

      I loved it!! This is an amazing story. Everyone should thoroughly enjoy reading it. I was impressed with how the authors managed to incorporate the known information on the lost continent of Atlantis, Light Workers, souls, reincarnation, time travel and the early years of Albert Einstein before he became famous, into a mesmerizing work of fiction readers will have difficulty putting down.

      Doug Simpson
      Author of We Lived in Atlantis

      Liked by 3 people

      • Some readers wanted to know why I wrote Einstein’s Compass:
        I have always thought of Einstein as a fascinating person. In reading about him, I discovered Einstein was a spiritual person whose father gave him a compass that sent him on his scientific journey. So I asked myself what if question.
        Since Einstein seemed to be a spiritual person on a quest to understand the universe, what if he was a modern mystic in his time?
        Moreover, what if he had help from spiritual beings to understand the universe?
        Through physics, he found his answers. My book of fiction follows his biographical history from age six to twenty-six and adds a new level of mystical spirituality that he had help from mystical beings who assisted him in his heroes’ journey and his miracle theory. Einstein believed that we have to go beyond what we can see and measure in the physical world. My book, “Einstein’s Compass” goes beyond what we know and adds a possible fictional explanation for how he came up with his miracle theory and changed the world.

        Liked by 1 person

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