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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Fantasy, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 2,813
26. Book Blog Tour: The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality...

Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Language: English
ISBN-10: 937293645
Genre: fantasy, action and adventure

The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality

The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality takes the shape of a fantasy story full of action and adventure. There is a small kingdom set aside in time and space, saintly king, evil duke, prophecy and unlikely hero.  The book is about a real kingdom set up in the present day by a wealthy eccentric in the Canadian wilderness; there is no magic, no bizarre weapons or fantastic creatures. Everything that takes place is the story is possible and plausible. Among other things it’s a serious book about the human predicament and lies across several genres, or maybe falls through the cracks between several genres, and that's what makes it unique.
When Gahan started writing The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality,it had a different title, certain characters, which were present in early project ideas, didn’t make it into the final work. Several scenes took place in locales that disappeared. Gahan was not afraid to just mess around and try all sorts of different approaches because that is the magic brew that what you are looking for will arise out of.  He recommended that other authors work on paper with a ballpoint pen. Writing involves many changes, scratching out and writing between the lines before you ever try to type it out on the computer. Whatever you do have fun and be patient with your creation.

He had created living characters the same way he used to create characters as a ‘method’ actor in his previous career in the theatre. Through the characters own ingenuity and perseverance, chapter-by-chapter the new story unfolded. Some of them lost their lives solving the problem, and he regretted he was not being able to save them, but they made their own decisions. The only veto power he exercised was if they decided to sit down to eat and talk things over and the action began to drag, he would send in a messenger with some bad news to bring them to their feet again.

There was also a time during which he had to set the whole project aside. This made the story ten times better.

Teenagers and adults who enjoy King Arthur-like stories, castles, battles and life-threatening quests will enjoy this Arthurian saga. The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality is not only an escapist adventure but at times creates cultural controversy.

Gahan Hanmer's creativity and gift for storytelling came from his background in theatre. Creativity ran in the family, Gahan mother and uncle were well known actors. He developed his talent exclusively as a theater artist, working with many inspired teachers and directors

The result was the following:

What Readers are Saying...

"The mark of a modern classic is a story line handled with such originality that it cannot be imitated. Like Lord of the Flies or The Last Unicorn, The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality is in a class by itself; it is one of a kind. --- Diane K. Stevenson, PhD "

About Gahan Hanmer
Gahan speaks French and Spanish and has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University. He unintentionally became a grown-up raising two beloved daughters and now lives in the high chaparral desert of California. The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality is available at: Amazon, and on his website.  Ask Gahan Hanmer questions by visiting his website at http://thekingdomontheedgeofreality.com/contact.htm.
Book Excerpt

Sir Leo was glad to see me and shook my hand warmly. I had caught up with him in the field outside the walls where he was practicing with a bow and arrow. “Do you shoot?” he asked me.
“I haven’t since I was a boy.”
He handed me his bow and quiver and watched me put two arrows in the target and scatter five or six others in the grass beyond it.
“That was not too good,” he said, holding out his hand for the bow. In one fluid motion he nocked and drew and loosed and that arrow sprang into the bullseye like it couldn’t wait to do anything he wanted it to.
“That’s fantastic, Leo,” I said, and he grinned with pleasure. “How did you learn to do that?”
“Well, I taught myself. Or you could say I learned it from the birds. Have you ever wished you could fly?”
“Who hasn’t?”
“I made myself miserable with envy watching the birds when I was a boy. But when I discovered archery, I realized there was more than one way to ride the wind. If my body couldn’t do it, my spirit could. Here, take this arrow and throw it at the target.”


This Giveaway is open Internationally.
PRIZES 1 Winners will each receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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27. Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

Feiwel and Friends, 2014

Edie knew this was the end of the line.  One step off the bridge would take her from the misery her current life to a world of nothingness.  But someone else has another plan for Edie…

Going to a private school, Edie Kramer knows the difference between her and the Teflon crew – those gorgeous and popular students everyone loves and wants to be like.  But one day would change Edie’s life.  What they did to her was unforgivable and if Edie could teach them a lesson she would.  But really, what kind of lesson could she, Edith Kramer, science nerd extraordinaire, do to Cameron, Allie and rest of the crew?  Riddled with pain and a sense of complete loneliness Edie has made her decision to jump, until Kian guides her down and gives her an intriguing option.

Edie can’t believe a guy like Kian would even care about her.  He was one of those guys who turns girls, and even, women’s heads because of his unbelievable looks.  Why would he be so interested in her?  When he tells her why he’s there, she can’t believe it’s real.  She gets three favors to use within five years and in return…she will owe three favors.  After going through every possible situation trying to debunk Kian’s offer, Edie realizes he’s offering her the truth and once she agrees, a sign is burned onto her wrist.  She now belongs to the firm of Wedderburn, Mawer & Graf.  And revenge is fresh in her mind…

Going through a complete physical transformation, Edie returns to Blackbriar with a different mindset and agenda.  Beyond beautiful, she starts a new year at high school slowly working her way into the Teflon crew to make them pay.  But horrible things begin to happen to them – coincidence or not?  On top of it all, she begins to see horrible things…crazy who want to grab her only to disappear; three dark creatures who watch her from the street.  And then Kian tells her the other truth.  Edie is now a pawn between two evil entities, but why?  And what’s the outcome for them both when there isn't a good side to help?


Ann Aguirre delivers a dark novel of love, revenge and survival in her latest.  She fills the pages with fantastically evil creatures the reader must guess if they’re human, chimeras, or real monsters; what a shift in paradigm or reality.  The strength of the main character, Edie, derives from the fact that although her façade changes, who she is doesn't, which put her and the plot into a juxtaposition.  Part reality, part fantasy, this book is full-on amazing and will read fast.  Recommended for high school.

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28. When I Don't Like a Book Everyone Else Loves...

Sometimes I wonder what on earth is wrong with me. Is it the expectation? I don't think so. There are plenty of books that are super-hyped that I end up loving right along with everyone else. But every once in awhile, everyone I know absolutely adores a book, and I just don't get it at all. Such is the case with a recent UBER-HYPED releases. Ugh. Here it goes... Yep. The infamous ACOTAR. Let

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29. Review: The Mist-Torn Witches by Barb Hendee

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

This is a series I would have completely missed out on if I hadn’t received an email from the publicist about it.  Since I’m going through a fantasy phase, I thought I’d give it a shot, and I’m so glad I did.  It’s a very fast read, I liked the protagonists immensely, and there’s enough court intrigue that it kept me guessing.

Celine and Amelie Fawe are trying to eke out a living in their little village, which has been impoverished by the noble in control of it.  After Celine’s mother died, Celine did her best to run their apothecary shop, and while selling herbs brings in some cash, and she enjoys that aspect of the business, the big money is in fortunetelling.  Her mother was a gifted seer, and with her gone, Celine pretends to be one.  Clever and observant, she asks leading questions and gives vague enough answers that her customers are satisfied.  When a young man asks her advice about who he should marry, she has no way of knowing that her response will cause so much grief for both herself and the young man.

When she’s ordered to advise a young woman to marry Sub-Prince Damek, and paid handsomely to do so, Celine experiences her first real vision.  Much to her horror, it reveals a ghastly end for the noblewoman if she does marry the cruel Damek, the man responsible for so much of the misery afflicting her village.  Unable to live with herself if she does as she’s ordered, she advises the young woman to reject the offer.  Later that evening, the sisters’ shop is set on fire, and assassins attempt to kill them.

Unknown to Damek’s people or Celine and Amelie, Sub-Prince Anton has been spying on his cruel older brother.  Anton’s soldiers save the girls and take them to Anton’s castle.  Under his safekeeping, Anton has a proposition for them; if they can solve the mysterious deaths plaguing young women in his city, he’ll allow them to take over operation of the apothecary shop in town, which has been abandoned since the apothecary died the previous summer.  Tempted by both the prosperity of Anton’s holdings, and by the shop itself, Celine agrees to help him.  If word of his inability to protect his subjects reaches his father, he’s afraid that he will not be named heir, and that his awful brother Damek will instead.

Celine’s dishonesty from that seeing years ago is back to bite her in the butt.  Anton was the lad she advised, and things did not turn out well for him.  His young bride died, and he’s been a train wreak since.  He looks weak willed and emotionally distraught, and I thought he needed to worry more about his personal image than catching the mysterious murderer.  Everyone thought he was on the edge of a breakdown, and he wasn’t exactly my idea of the guy I’d want in charge of a kingdom.  While he’s a wise leader and compassionate, he’s also sickly and more an object to pity than one to follow.

The Mist-Torn Witches worked for me because I liked Celine and Amelie so much.  They are both smart and independent, and they empower each other.  They also have different strengths and weaknesses, and both play a huge part in solving the mystery plaguing Anton’s court.  As Celine has visions of death after death, she becomes frantic trying to save the girls from their horrible fates.  This drives a wedge between Celine and Amelie, and then between Celine and almost everyone else in the story.  She wonders what good her visions are if she can’t change the future to save one innocent life.

I polished this off in two sittings, and if I have any complaint, it’s with the ending.  The story just kind of peters out, which made me immediately borrow the next book, Witches in Red, from the library (so I guess it served it’s purpose!).  I like a little more closure than I got here, but I loved this book anyway.  If you liked A Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier, I think you will enjoy The Mist-Torn Witches, too.  While the story isn’t as heavy or as dark, there is a similar feeling to both.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

National bestselling author Barb Hendee presents a dark, fascinating new world and the story of two sisters who will discover they have far more power than they ever envisioned….

In a small village in the nation of Droevinka, orphaned sisters Céline and Amelie Fawe scrape out a living selling herbal medicines in their apothecary shop. Céline earns additional money by posing as a seer and pretending to read people’s futures.

But they exist in a land of great noble houses, all vying for power, and when the sisters refuse the orders of a warlord prince, they must flee and are forced to depend on the warlord prince’s brother, Anton, for a temporary haven.

A series of bizarre deaths of pretty young girls is plaguing the village surrounding Prince Anton’s castle. He offers Céline and Amelie permanent protection if they can use their “skills” to find the killer.

With little choice, the sisters enter a world unknown to them—of fine gowns and banquets and advances from powerful men. Their survival depends on catching a murderer who appears to walk through walls and vanish without a trace—and the danger grows with each passing night.

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30. Release of Beauty’s Kingdom by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)

Long before the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, Anne Rice was writing a raunchy series of erotic novels in the 1980s under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure. The Sleeping Beauty series contained the following three novels: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty’s Punishment and Beauty’s Release. The trilogy has been very successful for Anne Rice, and in the 1990s, […]

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31. Spotlight on a Book Series: Kai Strand and Super Villain Academy Series…

I want to thank and welcome wonderful and prolific middle grade and young adult author, Kai Strand for sharing her personal experiences on writing a book series and showcasing her YA fantasy/speculative series Super Villain Academy series with us on my blog today. So let’s get this interview with Kai rolling…KAPOW!

Where did you get your idea and inspiration to writeSuper Villain Academy series, Kai?

The inspiration started with the first book only. It was early on November 1st. I was sitting down to start my NaNoWriMo novel (write a novel in one month – nuts!). For the first time I’d outlined so I could be more prepared for fast drafting. Well…yeah. When I sat down I was struck with the thought, “Who trains the bad guys?” and Super Villain Academy was born. It turned into a series when the ending refused to change from a set up of a second book. So I decided I’d call the series Super Villain Academy and changed the name of the first book, King of Bad.

It’s amazing where authors get their ideas! How many books are you planning to write in this young adult fantasy/speculative fiction series?

There are three in the series. Polar Opposites is the second. Super Bad (releasing May 6th) is the final book.

Looking forward to it! What sets Super Villain Academyapart from other series in the same genre?

So many of the super hero/villain books are set in a middle grade setting, but these are definitely written for young adult readers. I like to call them PG-13. Also, my supers are born with their powers, not made into supers with a shot of gamma radiation. They discover them at different times in their lives, so some kids have been going to SVA (and other academies) since they were as young as twelve and others don’t join until they are sixteen or older.

You seem to have books for every age group, Kai! How long did it take for you to start and finish each book from Super Villain Academy?

King of Bad took the longest. Turns out when you write an entire novel in one month, it can be pretty messy! It took me five years to clean it up and get it under contract. Though, I wasn’t working on it exclusively. I don’t write only one book at a time. The other books took less than a year each to get them written, revised, and through the publishing channel.

Wow, I admire your stamina. What are some of your favorite book series, Kai?
·         Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series
·         Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls
·         Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus series
·         I’m really enjoying Brigid Kremmerer’s Elementals series. Close to teens with superpowers like my SVA series, without the super hero/villain aspect.

Great picks! Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write a series?

One of the benefits to writing a series is you really get to know your characters. Truly understanding them like that allows you to write them into and out of some crazy situations. It was very hard for me to finish the last book in the series because I loved writing those teenagers so much!

On the flipside, writing a series can feel limiting when you want to branch out. As I mentioned, I don’t write one book at a time, but even so, at the beginning of last year, I found myself plotting out the year’s writing projects and there wasn’t one new world or main character I was going to be attacking and I said to myself, “Whose idea was it to write series, anyway?” So be sure to throw a standalone into the mix now and again to keep yourself sane.

LOL! I’ll remember that sage advice. What’s next for Kai Strand the author?

Ha ha. A standalone. Currently titled EVERYTHING. YA romance. I loved writing Save the Lemmings (MG contemporary) and Finding Thor (YA romantic suspense). And because I don’t like to do the same thing twice, I’ve decided to change the way I write this newest one and really take some time with it. I don’t know what I expect to get out of a slower pace, but I suspect it will be different.

You certainly are an author of many talents, Kai, and I really admire that about you. Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—IF you could time travel into Earth’s past, WHO would you love to meet, and WHY?

I would become Mozart’s scribe. Oh my gosh, how much I would love to watch him compose. His mind must have been a marvel and I have always wanted to know how he got all of the layered, complicated music out of his head and onto paper. Plus, I’m pretty sure I’m taller than him – doesn’t happen often for me, so YAY!

Thanks for having me, Sharon!

You’re very welcome, Kai! And congrats on completing your awesome series! Bravo!

Super Villain Academy Books:

King of Bad (Super Villain Academy Bk 1)- Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. Is Jeff bad enough for SVA?

Polar Opposites(Super Villain Academy Bk 2) - Heroes and villains are balanced. After Oceanus is kidnapped, Jeff learns the supers are so balanced, they no longer care to get involved. Ironically Jeff’s superpowers are spiraling out of control. Will they find Oci before he looses it completely, and will they find her alive?

Super Bad(Super Villain Academy Bk3) - The world is in chaos. Violence and thievery reign. And with the supers still balanced, it’s only getting worse. Without good versus evil, the supers care less and less. In order to restore purpose, the world needs its super heroes and its super villains, but the one who balanced them in the first place is missing.


About the Author:


When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for the younger ones, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website, www.kaistrand.com.




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32. Friday - In the Artist Studio

End of the week, and believe it or not, this is when things get real busy. Our weekends are usually socially full with friends, family, and yard work. So on Friday I try to get one more big push to paint or draw.

Everything else typically gets pushed to Monday. Because of our weekend schedules working on Saturday or Sunday nights becomes quite difficult, so it becomes easier to just not work and give my loved ones my attention.

It was mentioned on Twitter that I create a fairy delivering coffee. I couldn't let it go, being a big coffee person myself, and on a weekly basis wish there was a coffee delivery service here in Des Moines. At that, I just got started and let other projects go to the side. When you feel it, you must go with it. That's how you know it's from the heart. :)

It wasn't raining either, so Norah and I did some errands to Hobby Lobby, Target, then some weeding out back to get some vitamin D. Loved watching her play in the dirt (helping mom weed) and pick dandelions.

I worked on the coffee fairy during her morning nap (2.5 hours) and in the evening (2 hrs). Brian and I finished the night off with an episode of Dr. Who. ^_^

Have a great weekend!


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33. End of Days: Review + Giveaway

  Well, it’s the end of an era isn’t it? I wasn’t even a little bit nervous that this book would fail to deliver on all the promise of its predecessors and I am so happy to tell you that I was right in my confidence. If you are looking for heart pounding action, a fierce but all too human heroine, the swooniest of swoons and, of course, intense creepiness you will find it, and more, in End of Days. Like World After, End of Days picks up almost immediately where its predecessor left off. Penryn is reunited with both Raffe and Paige, but they are still plagued with problems. The world is still a mess, overrun with angels, humans, and other monsters. Raffe still needs his wings back and Paige needs help steering back to humanity. As is to be expected this book is super creepy. You thought you’ve... Read more »

The post End of Days: Review + Giveaway appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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34. #690 – Fork-Tongue Charmers (Luck Uglies #2) by Paul Durham

CBW-email-childrens_2015

 

cover 2X
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Fork-Tongue Charmers

Series: The Luck Uglies (#2)
Written by Paul Durhamtop book of 2015 general
Illustrated by Pétur Antonsson
HarperCollins Children’s Books             3/17/2015
978-0-06-227153-2
416 pages                     Age 9—14
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“It’s not easy being the daughter of the High Chieftain of the Luck Uglies. Now an insidious new lawman in Drowning has declared Rye an outlaw from her own village, and she’s been exiled to the strange and remote Isle of Pest. But the island quickly feels much less remote when the battle to control the future of the Luck Uglies moves to its shores. To defeat the Luck Uglies’ bitterest rivals, Rye must defy a deranged earl, survive a test meant to judge the grit of the fiercest of men—and uncover some long-buried family secrets. And when Rye leads the charge to defend t island, she and her friends will meet an eerily familiar enemy . . . “ [book jacket]

Review
In The Luck Uglies, Rye O’Chanter came to realize her family had been lying to her all her life. Nothing has changed. Rye learns there are many more family secrets. Rye also learned in The Luck Uglies that those she lives with, and around, are not who they appear to be. This, too, continues as new people enter Rye’s life. And the classic theme of good versus evil continues with a slight variation. This time, it’s good versus evil and evil versus evil, making the lines blurrier than ever.

fortonch hccb

The Luck Uglies

 

At the start of Fork-Tongue Charmers, Rye and her friends are anxiously awaiting Silvermas, and anticipating shoes overflowing with candy. On the eve of Silvermas, three strange, masked men knock on the O’Chanter door with a message: Harmless wants Rye to join him posthaste. Soon, the magical Silvermas Mud Sleigh arrives for Rye, but something is amiss. Meanwhile, Earl Longchance hires a new constable, Valant, who has a violent, vindictive reputation and fears no one. He immediately implements new rules and laws. Villagers who seemingly violate Valant’s strict and often unfair laws receive public humiliation and severe punishment at the Shaming Pole. Abby and Lottie move out of their home (and into the notorious Dead Fish Inn), after Valant burns down the Willow’s Wares. Once the Mud Sleigh is ravaged on Silvermas—with Rye aboard—Valant posts a new decree.

“PROCLAMATION
OF EARL MORNINGWIG LONGCHANCE!
Generous Rewards Offered for the Capture of
Abigail O’Chanter and her Two Offspring!
Wanted for Crimes Against the Shale!”

valant harper 3

Constable Valant

Once more, the relatively peaceful lives of Abby, Rye, and Lottie O’Chanter are disrupted as they, Folly, and Quinn are thrust into situations few could survive. Sent to the Isle of Pest—Abby’s childhood home—via the Slumgullion, a rickety pirating vessel navigated by an over-the-top Captain Dent, calm returns but questions continue. Refusing to cease when so close to victory, Earl Longchance follows the Slumgullion to Pest, and wages a surprise war against a group of peaceful people.

Where is Harmless? How far will Valant and Earl Longchance push the people of Drowning? What new secrets will Rye uncover? Will she ever get off the small Isle of Grit? OH, I’ve forgotten one important thing, who are the Fork-Tongue Charmers? These men are easy to identify, if they will open their mouths. They have willingly split their tongues like a snake. Slinister, the group’s aptly named leader, seeks revenge against Harmless, having no qualms about using a child in his scheme. One last piece of vital information; these Fork-Tongue Charmers are Luck Uglies.

Rye Crossing Barnacle-Covered Rocks

Rye Crossing Barnacle-Covered Rocks

Durham’s second novel will lull you on a nice countryside filled with sheep and eccentric personalities. He gets you all snug and cozy then, just as you are enjoying the oddness, BAM, the worlds of Drowning and Pest collide, tossing you like the sea back into an adventurous fantasy only Durham could handle with such precision. The Fork-Tongue Charmers are not so charming, but Dunham’s story will keep you glued, wondering whom these men really are and what Slinister really wants. He (Slinister), abandons Rye, alone, on the Isle of Grit, in the open sea, doomed. The final chapter gripped me tight as I waited for the impossible to occur. But can all end well that starts badly?

Dunham’s writing has improved. Pushing the envelope in children’s literature while taking kids—and adults—into an unforgiving medieval world, where princes dress like commoners and heroes are villains, each book of The Luck Uglies series amazingly can stand on its own. Fork-Tongue Charmers belts readers into the first car of a roller-coaster ride with intriguing, often eccentric, characters with unlikely stories belted in behind them. The lure of impressive and imaginative writing made me a loyal fan who believes in Dunham’s brilliant creativity. If his writing continues to improve, as I suspect it will, book 3 (as yet un-named), will shoot readers into the stratosphere of kidlit, glad to remain there as long as Dunham will have us.

Silvermas Mud Sleigh

Silvermas Mud Sleigh

FORK-TONGUE CHARMERS (LUCK UGLIES, BOOK #2). Text copyright © 2015 by Paul Durham. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Pétur Antonsson. Reproduce by permission of the publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York, NY.

Purchase Fork-Tongue Charmers at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesHarperCollins C. B.

Learn more about Fork-Tongue Charmers HERE.
Meet the author, Paul Durham, at his website:  http://www.pauldurhambooks.com/
Meet the illustrator, Pétur Antonsson, at his website:  http://paacart.tumblr.com/
Find more middle grade novels at the HarperCollins Children’s Books website:  http://www.harpercollins.com/

HarperCollins Children’s Books is a division of HarperCollins Publishers.

Review word count = 661

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews.

forl tongue charmers ftc


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: action-adventure, eccentric characters, fantasy, Fork-Tongue Charmers, HarperCollins Children’s Books, HarperCollins Publishers, Luck Uglies #2, magic, Paul Dunham, Pétur Antonsson, spell-binding

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35. Fan of INTO THE DARK series? Watch this goofy short film by Bree Despain where she explains Mythology.

Bree Despain's INTO THE DARK series is based on two of her favorite Greek myths: Persephone and Hades, and Orpheus and Eurydice. Both are stories about people who ventured into the dark (or the unknown) for the sake of love. Most people are more familiar with the Persephone myth than they are with the story of Orpheus and Eurydice so Bree decided to to make a little 4 minute movie version of

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36. The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz (A Prequel to the New Disney Channel Movie DESCENDANTS)

Teen Review by Reagan  THE ISLE OF THE LOST A Descendants Novel by Melissa De La Cruz Age Range: 9 - 12 years Grade Level: 4 - 7 Series: The Descendants Hardcover: 320 pages Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (May 5, 2015) Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by

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37. Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes

by Sabaa Tahir

Told in alternating stories of two main characters on opposite sides, An Amber in the Ashes is a suspenseful exploration of the effects of violence on both the conquered and the conquerors. Set in a Rome-like fantasy world, the Scholars are a subjugated people under the rule of the Martials. Laia is a Scholar living with her brother and grandparents. When her brother is arrested on suspicion of being a member of the resistance, and her grandparents are killed violently by Martial soldiers, Laia runs away in fear. To atone for her cowardice, Laia sets out to save her brother, and goes undercover as a slave to the cruel and sadistic commander of the elite military academy Blackcliff.

Elias is a student at Blackcliff, training to become a Mask, the most elite of Martial soldiers. Although he has lived most of his life as a student under the harsh discipline at Blackcliff, Elias still sees things differently than his peers because he spent the first six years of his life outside the Martial society. Elias is determined to escape the violent society and his role as an enforcer as soon as he graduates. Then a visit from the Augurs — the Martial's version of oracles — puts a difficult choice before Elias. But can he trust the prophecy, or is he being manipulated by the Augurs?

Sabaa Tahir was inspired to write An Ember in the Ashes during her time at the Washington Post's foreign desk, when she was exposed to horrifying stories of the effects of violence on people around the world. An Ember in the Ashes is an exciting dystopian story that shows how a violent society affects everyone, from the slaves to the highest levels. Even the resistance is divided by the question of whether they have an obligation to help those of their people in need, or whether such aid detracts from their mission of fighting back against the Martials.

I had some minor credibility problems, and the plot development was occasionally awkward. I thought that the addition of supernatural characters like djinn was an unnecessary device that muddies the waters. The augurs were fine and really drive the plot in many ways, but the djinn and other spirits made it start to feel like everything was thrown in, including the kitchen sink.

This isn't a subtle book: the message about the effects of violence is hammered pretty hard. However, as I write this in a Baltimore (and a nation) trying to figure out how to police our communities without unnecessary violence by police against the people they are supposed to protect, the message really resonates.

In spite of the minor issues, I found An Ember in the Ashes to be a thrilling and highly engaging plot-driven story with loads of teen appeal, especially for fans of dystopian fiction like the Hunger Games. I can understand why it's been optioned for film already.

Diversity

Elias is described as having golden-brown skin. The identity of Elias' father is unknown, but it's likely that his skin color came from his father, since his mother is described as having pale skin. Other than that, skin color doesn't seem to play a role, although one of the more despicable characters is also described as having dark skin. The Martial empire appears to be generally diverse, with various ethnicities of people coming from the different conquered nations, although it's not significant to the plot.

Although the empire appears to be fairly patriarchal, female characters play a significant role. Besides Laia, there's Helene, who is also a student at Blackcliff and Elias' best friend. Helen is one tough cookie, in some ways one of the toughest students there. In spite of that, though, she's mostly relegated to the traditional female support role, and a subplot about an attraction leaves her acting "like a girl." There's also the female commander of Blackcliff, and several minor female characters including a cook who used to be an explosives expert.

The author is a woman of color.


Who would like this book?

Anyone who enjoys a thrilling, suspenseful plot-driven story, particularly fans of The Hunger Games and other dystopian fiction. In keeping with the theme, An Ember in the Ashes is fairly dark and violent, so sensitive readers may want to take a pass.


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FTC required disclosure: Review copy sent by the publisher to enable me to write this review. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.

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38. #Giveaway! Witches with the Enemy by Barb Hendee

This morning I have a giveaway for Witches with the Enemy by Barb Hendee.  I just started Mist-Torn Witches, the first book in the series, and I love it so far!  Check out the info below, and then fill out the Rafflecopter for your chance to win!  US addresses only, please.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

When seers Céline and Amelie Fawe fled Shetâna under threat of death, they vowed never to return. Yet, less than a year later, they are summoned back—to aid the man who once tried to kill them.…

The cruel prince Damek is on the verge of closing marriage negotiations with the powerful family of a young noblewoman when his intended’s sister is murdered. To keep the engagement from falling through, Damek must expose the killer quickly—and he needs the seers’ powers to do so. Though the Fawes’ patron, Prince Anton, fears that bringing Céline and Amelie to Shetâna places them in grave danger, he is honor-bound to help his brother Damek.

Only none of them is prepared for the peril that awaits them at Castle Kimovesk—for someone in the court is determined to prevent the marriage from happening, no matter how deadly the cost.…

 

PRAISE FOR THE MIST-TORN WITCHES

“Hendee has a gift for intricate psychological plots, and her characters are some of the best in current fantasy.”

Booklist

“[An] engaging fantasy novel…Clues as to the sisters’ magical heritage, hints of romance, threats both supernatural and human, and courtly intrigue combine for a fun fantasy mystery.”

Locus

“The murder mystery at the core of this book…will hold readers spellbound.”

RT Book Reviews

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Barb Hendee is the author of the Novels of the Mist-Torn Witches, including Witches in Red and The Mist-Torn Witches. She lives in a quirky little town near Portland, Oregon, with her husband J.C. Hendee, with whom she writes the Noble Dead Saga. Barb’s short fiction has appeared in numerous genre magazines and anthologies. She is also the author of the Vampire Memories series.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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39. You Know I Love "Jane Bear?" I Mean, "Jane Eyre."

I was intrigued when I read a review of The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville and snatched the book off the shelf when I saw it at my local library. I mention this to make the point that sometimes reviews actually do get readers. Or, in this case, a reader.

The Cottage in the Woods has been described as Jane Eyre meets Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It certainly is. Jane Eyre fans can have a fantastic time picking out the connections. A young, powerless, single female enters a large house as the employee of a wealthy man. This is a wealthy, married man with a family, which is one of the ways this book is different from Jane Eyre. But he's also a bear, as is the young female, Ursula. (Relating to ursine, I'm guessing.) Ursula is there to act as a governess to the bear's son, Teddy. (Oh, my gosh. Teddy Bear!!! No, actually his last name is Vaughn.) Ursula has a love interest, and, shades of Mr. Rochester, he's not free to love her. There is a mystery in this house, as there is in Jane Eyre. And it's related to a female, as is the mystery in Jane Eyre. This female, though, is young, with golden hair.

However, there is a whole nonJane plot involving human bigotry toward enchanted animals like Ursula and the Vaughns. I've read that some reviewers found that aspect of the book didactic. To me it was distracting, because it wasn't part of the Jane Eyre/Three Bears premise. It seemed unnecessary. What was going on with Goldilocks was so clever and unique that I would have liked a plot sticking much closer to that, which could have been closer to the Jane Eyre source material.

But, then, I know Jane Eyre. Readers who don't could feel differently. Since this is a middle grade novel, there will be many readers who don't know Jane.

While reading this, I wondered what Ms. Yingling would think of it. Sure enough, she read The Cottage in the Woods and weighs in on the subject. I agree that while I enjoyed it, it may have trouble finding an audience. 

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40. A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

In the deepest winter forest an arrow is shot in desperation. The quarrel finds its target, but the consequences are far reaching and unexpected. Feyre, youngest daughter of an impoverished nobleman, has unintentionally killed one of the Fae and broken the treaty between humans and Fae. Now she must trade her life for that of her slain foe. Caught between death or handing herself over to live in the lands of the Fae, never to return to her family, Feyre surrenders. This is a totally new fantasy world, completely separate from that of Throne of Glass. Feyre lives on an island resembling Great Britain that is divided among human ruled lands and the realms of the Fae (many blessings upon Bloomsbury for including a map for those of us “constant flippers”). The humans live in constant fear of the Fae, and the Fae live in constant fear of the ever... Read more »

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41. An Ember in the Ashes: Review

I couldn’t put Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes down. This is a statement of fact: I picked it up late at night when I couldn’t sleep, started reading, and had to force myself to go to bed approximately 300 pages later. (Wendy can vouch for me here as the lucky recipient of some early morning “OH MY GOD THIS IS SO GOOD” texts.) I can’t remember the last time this happened and it was excellent. It reminded me of how I felt about reading as a teenager, which is to say that I was engrossed in Sabaa Tahir’s imaginary world. And that is basically what I want to reiterate, now that An Ember in the Ashes is out and ready and waiting to keep you up at night. Oh my God, you guys. This book is so good. It’s not a perfect book (more on that later) but it is... Read more »

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42. 'Daisy and Bartholomew Q' -- EPIC FAIL Syndrome!


Fantastic Fantasy

Daisy and Bartholomew Q


PLUS outrageous critters like--
The Dynoroar, The Oogledork, The Featherbutt Bird,
and. . . Evil Big Crow.

by Margot Finke
Cover Art: Ioana Zdralea.



 This young tween fantasy will be published as soon as the cover to be completed.
Then, Soft Cover and Kindle pop-up will be your purchase choices.
(on Amazon and my website)

Daisy and Bartholomew Q. are an unlikely twosome.
She is a stubborn and feisty young teen girl. She likes to do things her way.




He is a slightly pompous fellow who loves books and reading.
He lives in a world of words, and his friends are astonishingly odd--to say the least.



With Daisy's procrastination teetering at EPIC FAIL,
Bartholomew Q. is sent to guide and advise her.

He will show her where to discover those
fantastic words that will earn her garden essay an 'A.'


QUESTIONS:
#1- Where would he take Daisy?
#2 - Who would she ask?
#3 - WHAT words would she choose?


ANSWERS:
#1 - the Thesaurus ('G' for Garden section)
#2 - the Cousin Adjective Tree, the Mother Noun Tree, the Father Verb Tree,
and the Depressed Raccoon--WHO ELSE?
#3 - Fabulous words that describe a garden.
Essay due tomorrow morning.
PLEASE HURRY!

Of course if you're like Daisy, you've put off writing your essay until
the last minute. A failing grade looms--plus the wrath of Mom!



OH. . .
and did I mention attacks by bizarre World Word residents,
Talking Trees, a depressed raccoon, and being kidnapped by Evil Big Crow?

So much fun and adventure--so many fabulous words.


I can't wait to see the cover. (the art here is only temporary)




STAY TUNED, MATES!




********************************

Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits
http://www.margotfinke.com
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/nogbdad

********************************* 




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43. Review of the Day: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

The Jumbies
By Tracey Baptiste
Algonquin Young Readers
$15.95
ISBN: 9781616204143
Ages 9-12
On shelves now

“All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.” So sayeth Leo Tolstoy (at least in theory). Regardless of whether or not it’s actually true, it is fun to slot books into the different categories. And if I were to take Tracey Baptiste’s middle grade novel The Jumbies with the intention of designating it one type of story or another, I think I’d have to go with the latter definition. A stranger comes to town. Not quite true though, is it? For you see, in this particular book the stranger isn’t coming to town so much as infesting it. And does she still count as a stranger when she, technically was there first? It sounds a bit weird to say, “All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a creature comes to a village where it is the people who are the strangers” but you could make a case for that being the tale The Jumbies brings to light. Far more than just your average spooky supernatural story, Baptiste uses the underpinnings of a classic folktale to take a closer look at colonization, rebellion, and what it truly takes to share the burden of tolerating the “other”. Plus there are monsters. Gotta love the monsters.

Corinne La Mer isn’t what you might call a superstitious sort. Even when she chases an agouti into a forbidden forest she’s able to justify to herself why it looked as though a pair of yellow eyes followed her out. If she told other people about those eyes they’d say she ran across a jumbie, one of the original spooky denizens of her Caribbean island. Corinne’s a realist, though, so surely there’s another answer. And she probably would have put the whole incident out of her mind anyway, had Severine not appeared in her hut one day. Severine is beautiful and cunning. She’s been alone for a long long time and she’s in the market for a loving family. Trouble is, what Severine wants she usually gets, and Corinne may find that she and her father are getting ensnared in a dangerous creature’s loving control – whether they want to be or not. A tale based loosely on the Haitian folktale “The Magic Orange Tree.”

A bit of LOST, a bit of Beloved, and a bit of The Tempest. That’s the unusual recipe I’d concoct if I were trying to describe this book to adults. If I were trying to describe it to kids, however, I’d have some difficulty. Our nation’s library and bookstore shelves aren’t exactly overflowing with children’s novels set in the Caribbean. Actually, year or so ago I was asked to help co-create a booklist of Caribbean children’s literature with my librarian colleagues. We did pretty well in the picture book department. It was the novels that suffered in comparison. Generally speaking, if you want Caribbean middle grade novels you’d better be a fan of suffering. Whether it’s earthquakes (Serafina’s Promise), escape (Tonight By Sea), or the slave trade (My Name Is Not Angelica) Caribbean children’s literature is rarely a happy affair. And fantasy? I’m not going to say there aren’t any middle grade novels out there that make full and proper use of folklore, but none come immediately to mind. Now Ms. Baptiste debuted a decade ago with Angel’s Grace (called by Horn Book, “a promising first novel” with “An evocative setting and a focused narrative”). In the intervening ten years we hadn’t heard much from her. Fortunately The Jumbies proves she’s most certainly back in the game and with a book that has few comparable peers.

My knowledge of the Caribbean would fit in a teacup best enjoyed by a flea. What I know pretty much comes from the children’s books I read. So I am not qualified to judge The Jumbies on its accuracy to its setting or folkloric roots. When Ms. Baptiste includes what appears to be a family with roots in India in the narrative, I go along with it. Then, when the book isn’t looking, I sneak off to Wikipedia (yes, even librarians use Wikipedia from time to time) and read that “Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian are nationals of Trinidad and Tobago of India ancestry.” We Americans often walk around with this perception that ours is the only ethnically diverse nation. We have the gall to be surprised when we discover that other nations have multicultural (for lack of a better word) histories of their own. So it is that Corinne befriends Dru, an Indio-Trinidadian with a too large family.

The writing itself makes for a fun read. I wouldn’t label it overly descriptive or lyrical, necessarily, but it gets the job done. Besides, there are little moments in the text that I thought were rather nice. Lines like “Corinne remembered when they had buried her mama in the ground like a seed.” Or, on a creepier note, “A muddy tear spilled onto her cheek, then sprouted legs and crawled down her body.” What I really took to, more than anything else, was the central theme of “us” and “them”. Which is to say, there is no “us” and “them”, really. It’s a relationship. As a local witch says later in the story, “Our kind? What do you know about our kind and their kind, little one? You can’t even tell the difference.” Later she says it once again. “Their kind, your kind, is there a difference?” This is an island where the humans arrives and pushed out the otherworldly natives. When the natives fight back the humans are appalled. And as we read the story, we see that we are the oppressors here, to a very real extent. These jumbies might fight and hit and hurt and steal children, but they have their reasons. Even if we’ve chosen to forget what those might be.

I have a problem. I can’t read books for kids like I used to. Time was, when I first started in this business, that I could read a book like The Jumbies precisely as the author intended. I approached the material with all the wide-eyed wonder of a 10-year-old girl. Then I had to go and give birth and what happens? Suddenly I find that everything’s different and that I’m now reading the books as a parent. Scenes in The Jumbies that wouldn’t have so much as pierced my armor when I was younger now stab me directly through the heart. For example, there is a moment in this book when Dru recounts seeing her friend Allan stolen by the douens. As his mother called his name he turned to her, but his feet faced the other way, walking him into the forest. That just killed me. Kids? They’ll find it nicely creepy, but I don’t know that they’ll not entirely understand the true horror the parents encounter so that later in the book when a peace is to be reached, they have a real and active reason for continuing to pursue war. In this way the book’s final resolution almost feel too easy. You understand that the humans will agree on a peace if only because the jumbies have them outnumbered and outmanned. However, the hate and fear is going to be lingering for a long long time to come. This would be an excellent text to use to teach conflict resolution, come to think of it.

In her Author’s Note at the back of the book, Tracey Baptiste writes, “I grew up reading European fairy tales that were nothing like the Caribbean jumbie stories I listened to on my island of Trinidad. There were no jumbie fairy-tale books, though I wished there were. This story is my attempt at filling that gap in fairy-tale lore.” And fill it she does. Entrancing and engaging, frightening but never slacking, Baptiste enters an all-new folktale adaptation into our regular fantasy lore. Best suited for the kids seeking lore where creatures hide in the shadows of trees, but where they’re unlike any creatures the kids have seen before. Original. Haunting.

On shelves now.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:

Misc: Read several excerpts here.

Video:

And here’s the book trailer for you:

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44. IN A WORLD JUST RIGHT by Jen Brooks

Review by Leydy IN A WORLD JUST RIGHT by Jen Brooks Age Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and up Hardcover: 432 pages Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (April 28, 2015) Goodreads | Amazon Imagination takes on new meaning for a uniquely talented teen in this debut novel that is a breathtaking blend of contemporary, fantasy, and romance. Sometimes Jonathan Aubrey wishes he

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45. Ode to Troll

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

Hi friends,

Here’s my latest “story”. I put story in quotes because with this one it’s more of an implied story told through the image and the underlying context of a poem. The image popped into my head one day when I was thinking about how it would look if beauty and the beast were reversed. Once I’d thought of it I knew I had to make it.

As always you can download the story free for your devices on smashwords.com Just click here.

Ode to Troll

or The Troll Bride

By a guy who’s been under a spell, 
and is just now coming out of it.

Ode to Troll, A #story #poem and #illustration by Manelle Oliphant. Funny fantasy illustration.

Oh my beauteous troll-y bride,
I sit contented at your side.
I dream of all our lives will be,
And feel my stomach disagree.

You command me body and soul.
For you my heart won’t charge a toll.
My mind, my life I freely give.
It makes me wonder how I’ll live.

Luscious lashes before my eyes.
Draw from me spontaneous sighs.
Your large lips and protruding teeth,
Have me writing my last bequeath.

I stroke your wig and feel your skin.
I plant a kiss upon your chin.
I long to hold your giant hand,
And wonder why I read the banns.

My heart wilts when I think of you.
Crying would, to myself be true.
Annulment is my best retreat.
To flea from you will be a feat.

Oh my beauteous troll-y bride,
I sit uneasy by your side.
I dream of all my life will be,
After I’ve run away from thee.

The End

If you enjoyed this story learn how you can support the creation of more like it at www.patreon.com/manelleoliphant

Manelle Oliphant Patreon

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46. Review of Shadow Scale

hartman_shadow scaleShadow Scale
by Rachel Hartman
Middle School, High School   Random   600 pp.
3/15   978-0-375-86657-9   $18.99
Library ed. 978-0-375-96657-6   $21.99   g
e-book ed. 978-0-375-89659-0   $10.99

With the dragon civil war closing in on Goredd, Seraphina (Seraphina, rev. 7/12) begins an uncertain mission: she and Abdo, a fellow half-dragon, embark on a journey to recruit other ityasaari like themselves, hoping that if they can learn to thread their minds together, they will be able to defend Goredd by forming a trap to stop a dragon in flight. Seraphina has misgivings — what if the attempt leads to another ityasaari taking over her mind? Jannoula, a half-dragon whom Seraphina contacted telepathically in a time before she knew there were others like her, once usurped Seraphina’s consciousness, and it was only by great effort and luck that Seraphina managed to fight her off. However, as Seraphina and Abdo travel through the neighboring lands, they are horrified to learn that Jannoula already controls the other ityasaari. The author’s generous and self-assured world-building effortlessly branches out to the different cultures the pilgrims encounter, unveiling fresh customs and new folklore with consummate ease. A subplot involving Seraphina’s hopeless romance with Kiggs, the man affianced to her friend and monarch, Queen Glisselda, takes on a love-triangle twist that most won’t see coming. From graceful language to high stakes to daring intrigue, this sequel shines with the same originality, invention, and engagement of feeling that captivated readers in Hartman’s debut.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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47. The Wrath and the Dawn: Review

My subtitle for The Wrath and the Dawn: A (Whole New) World of No. This book seemed chock-full of things I love: a good enemies-to-friends romance! something inspired by One Thousand and One Nights! and, last but not least, as an Arab-American, a story with a kickass Middle Eastern protagonist. So you can see why I fully expected to enjoy this one. I kept on seeing rave reviews for this on GoodReads and Twitter, so my hopes were way up. But in truth? I was not the biggest fan of this book, you all, and I’m still sad about it. (Though I am not alone in my black sheep pen: Wendy was mostly underwhelmed by this, too.) I want to begin, though, by making mention of the things I did like: Shazi is pretty excellent. She is brave, she knows how to use a bow and arrow, she’s mouthy, and she’s out for revenge. These... Read more »

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48. Teaser Quotes From The Eternity Key by Bree Despain - Coming April 28, 2015

Age Range: 12 and up  Grade Level: 7 and up Series: Into the Dark Hardcover: 368 pages Publisher: EgmontUSA (April 28, 2015)  Pre-Order today on Amazon! Fan-favorite author Bree Despain continues her modern-day romance trilogy inspired by the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades with this second book in her Into the Dark series.     Haden Lord, the disgraced Prince of the Underrealm,

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49. THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT by Melissa Grey {Book & Audiobook Review}

Review by Andye THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHTThe Girl at Midnight #1 by Melissa GreySeries: THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHTHardcover: 368 pagesPublisher: Delacorte Press (April 28, 2015) AUDIOBOOK Publisher: Listening Library Narrated By Julia Whelan Goodreads | Amazon | Audible Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through

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50. Children’s Book Author Django Wexler Combines Computer Science and Creative Writing

Django Wexler is a self-proclaimed computer/fantasy/sci fi geek. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with degrees in creative writing and computer science, and worked in artificial intelligence research.

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