In the 23rd century the world is a very different place. The population has dropped from 9 billion to 3 billion and the whole planet is controlled by one government. There are no cell phones or personal computers and everyone has a chip inserted into their arm so the government knows where they are at all times. People work at jobs assigned to them by the powers that be and if anyone breaks a law in this new world, it is dealt with harshly. There is no more religion or personal choice, there is just the Sovereign Regime or SR.

Many of the world’s young people aren’t happy with this way of life but it seems pointless to resist the SR’s will since they know your every move. Eighteen year old Goro and his friends Alex and Cory have found small ways to annoy the SR, such as a wristband to block their control chip’s powers and setting off explosives in a park. Their actions bring them to the attention of a small grass-roots organization with the goal of over throwing the SR. The odds are against them but with their old lives a distant memory, Goro and his friends do what needs to be done to make life better.

Sovereignty by Anjenique Hughes is a YA novel set in a post-apocalyptic future with themes of loyalty, friendship and the importance of freedom. The story is told in a fast paced manner from Goro’s point of view. Each chapter begins with a historical quote and then gets into a short history of how we got to where we are in the 23rd century. The idea of telling the history behind the story in small segments rather than having a couple of chapters devoted to setting up the story was a great idea. Anjenique Hughes knows her audience and you never get a chance to get bored with this book as it gives a history lesson, throws in some action and gives you characters that you can relate to.

This brings me to my favorite part of the book which are the characters. All of the characters come across as someone you might meet in real life complete with flaws and a good side. Take Goro for instance, he comes across like a normal teenager with a big ego and issues with authority. He is the hero of the story but he is complex because he creates a lot of his own problems. He hates the SR and wants to rebel but some of the actions he takes hurts his family and friends as much as it hurts him, though in his mind he’s always doing what’s right.

There is a point where Goro’s father finds out some horrible secrets of the SR. Goro finds out and his actions  leads his family to greater danger with some drastic consequences. Even when Goro joins the resistance he still has problems with authority and questions their leadership. Even Goro’s friends complain about how he was acting. What I liked about this was it seemed like normal behavior for most teenagers. Goro has a good heart but his ego and attitude still make life harder for the people around him. Goro is a shade of grey and in the real world people have a good and bad side to them so Goro comes across as realistic.

Sovereignty is an excellent read for a YA audience or an adult audience. While reading this book I found myself comparing the SR regime to other governments throughout history, there are parallels to the Nazis and any dictatorship that has ever been. Even in the future history is always repeating itself with a crooked government rising to power and a rebel force attempting to bring them down. This is one entertaining thrill ride and the first book in a series, do yourself a favor and check it out.


Guest Blog Post: Anjenique Hughes

Reaching YA readers


Anjenique Hughes

I particularly love writing for YA, because they are the future. Young Adults can be some of the most hilarious and fun people to hang around. They are insightful. They are intriguing. They keep things real. Therefore, books written for this population need to be relevant and somewhat applicable to their lives. YA are the best; I particularly like writing YA, because they don’t tolerate BS. Anything cheesy, corny, or downright dumb will receive immediate ridicule and relentless backlash. This is why it is so challenging and exciting to write a novel that stretches above the status quo for this age range.

When writing for the young adult population, it’s best to keep the conversations and dialogue interesting and realistic for this age group. With technology and video games constantly competing for their attention, a book really needs to be an exciting ride. If the book doesn’t take off with action from the get-go, they’ll be tossing it out the window in no time. I like to include nuances, witty cliché’s, and balance the humor with the serious. Developing strong characters and character relationships are important, as well as having a smooth, flowing plot. I have found that teens hate it when loose ends are not tied up in the end.

We underestimate the intelligence of YA a lot of times; they are plenty smart and can spot a phony a mile away. If the story is too predictable- that can be the kiss of death. Romance included, done tastefully, is always a plus. Coming up with a unique twist, something that hasn’t been written about or explored before can be a draw for YA as well. I also like to include a character that is somewhat rough around the edges, but who learns a valuable lesson in the end and concluding with their maturing and changing for the better. Of course, hidden positive messages and subliminal moral values never hurt!

With master’s degrees in education, special education, and counseling, Anjenique “Jen” Hughes is a high school English and math teacher who loves teaching and mentoring young people. She loves traveling and has worked with youth on five continents. Saying she is “young at heart” is an understatement; she is fluent in sarcasm, breaks eardrums with her teacher voice (students have complained when they were within earshot), and cracks sarcastic jokes with the best of her students. Her work with ethnically and socioeconomically diverse youth has inspired her to write books that appeal to a broad variety of students seeking stories of bravery, perseverance, loyalty, and success.

Guest book review: Privateer’s Apprentice

Privateer’s Apprentice by Susan Verrico is a great pirate story for young readers. Reading level is 6-8 graders, but this would also be a great “read-aloud” book for younger ages.

Jameson is the son of a printer who is swindled out of his inheritance because of his parents’ death and is forced to live on the street. When he is wrongly accused of stealing bread, he is forced into slavery for a baker. But that’s not where his trials end. One late night he is kidnapped by a crewman on the dreaded Attack Jack’s ship. Although the ship is under Queen Anne’s control, battle against Spanish ships through treacherous waters cause the crew to be more ruthless than most British Military. When Attack Jack learns Jameson can write and draw maps, he enlists him to help chart lands for Queen Anne.

After one particularly brutal battle, the hungry and injured crew take refuge at Crossed Island, a dangerous place where wild boar and other animals threaten to end their lives. The island has another secret…a cave that holds secrets only the Captain and his right hand man, Solitaire Peep know about.

When they return to Jameson’s home port, Charles Towne, the Captain is wrongfully accused of treason and will hang…unless Jameson and his crew can figure out how to free him without getting caught.

This is a fun adventure story that kids of all ages can enjoy. If they like ocean voyage and pirate themes, they will love it. Ninety percent of the book takes place aboard ship and there are great side characters to enjoy such as Gunther, who is a threat to Jameson throughout; the cook, who helps him out; and Jabbart, his unlikely comrade.

The violence is light, pirate-like ship combat and a little slavery content. There is also talk of beheading slaves because of their crimes, but I would still rate this less violent than most video games and TV for youngsters. This is definitely on the lighter side of PG.

As an adult, I found the end of the book unfinished and would like to see the story continue, but I can find no information about a new book coming. There is certainly a need to continue this tale and allow Jameson the chance to reclaim his destiny.

Overall, I think this is a great gate-way book to get your little pirates-in-training started.

Review by Emerian Rich

Book Spotlight: Silence Interrupted

Silence Interrupted


Sania Shaikh


Two months before Troye Saavedra’s senior year of high school, his father’s drinking problem skyrockets. When Troye’s parents make an impulsive move to Georgia in order to “help” him finish high school on a positive note, he is forced to leave behind everything he knows. Things couldn’t get worse for Troye. That is, until he meets three enigmatic teenagers: Adelaide, an independent violinist with radical ideas; Zaidan, fiercely loyal and always funny; and Arabella, a girl who harbors secret struggles. Together, the four friends try to pick up the jagged pieces of their lives without getting hurt themselves. An insightful tale of perseverance, Silence Interrupted is a young adult novel about the beauty and peril of traversing the world as a teenager.


Sania Shaikh is a junior at Cambridge High School. Inspired to write from a young age, she worked on Silence Interrupted, her debut novel, starting in eighth grade.



bloodmoon-book-3In a few short months werewolf Ashling Boru will have to fulfill her prophecy and unite the wolf clans by marrying someone she doesn’t love. Ashling leads a complicated life and it seems to get more complicated all the time. Her guardian has been kidnapped and she keeps finding out new secrets about her pack. To make matters worse a war is looming with the Dvergars, a family of powerful and evil wolves. Can Ashling make the right choices to save her pack and still end up with her true love Grey?

Bloodmoon by Aurora Whittet is the third book in the Bloodmark saga. This book has the most action in the series and the plat seems to move a lot quicker in this one then the last two. Each book has gotten progressively better and the characters come across as more complex in this one. I also enjoyed the spin on werewolf mythology that is present in this book. Bloodmoon and the whole Bloodmark trilogy is something that fans of Twilight and YA fiction in general will love.

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bloodmark-book-1Ashling Boru wasn’t your average werewolf princess. she was able to shift into a wolf from birth while others of her kind were not able to until they were older. She also never received her bloodmark  which is a brand that wolves get at birth when they are initiated into the pack. Her father is the king of their pack and instead of initiating Ashling into his pack he has promised her hand in marriage to a man she doesn’t know.


Ashling defies her father and the ancient laws of the pack and ends up going from Ireland to York Harbor, Maine. When she gets there she meets and falls in love with a rebellious human named Grey Donavan. Ashling is now leading a new life far away from everyone she has known but her wolf packs ancient traditions and secrets come back to haunt her and she has to make a choice between Grey or the path that she was meant to follow.

Bloodmark by Aurora Whittet is the first book in a trilogy and a pretty good YA novel. What drew me to this book was that it got into werewolf mythology and it was partially set in Ireland. I really enjoyed that this book was written from the first person perspective, in the beginning it had the feel of a diary as Ashling talked about her family. Bloodmark has a good story to it, I loved the character of Ashling and I think she is someone who teenage girls can relate to. This is a book that young readers will love.

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Guest Blog Post: Aurora Whittet

We are all surrounded by inspiration


Aurora Whittet

aurora-whittetI’m often asked where I find my inspiration and I always say everywhere. I see it in my waitress at the café, in the man at the bus station, in the child at the park. I find it in my friends and family. I find it in my dreams. Inspiration is endless if you open your eyes. It can be a word or phrase or even the way a bird mesmerizingly swoops through the sky. A photo you see in your FaceBook feed or a song on the radio.

The Bloodmark Saga is a combination of a few things I’m fascinated with: Mythology, Werewolves, and Ireland. And it all started from a scene in the third book. I knew how it was going to end. I saw Ashling’s face as she screamed those words, and I knew I had to tell her story.

I didn’t know who she was just yet, but I knew who she would become and I wanted to walk with her every step of the way to that moment that she dared to show me. I saw her hair in the wind, the fierceness of her face, and heard the strength in her words. Then I backed up to where her story began and I began my research. Her red hair told me she was Irish, her strength told me she was a wolf and then I dug through gobs of mythology until I found just the right pieces to braid together into the Bloodmark Saga.

So where do you find inspiration . . . you have no further to look then inside yourself.




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