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1. Muddy Max - a graphic novel review

I have been busy lately with review and blogging obligations, as well as work and preparation for the holiday season, but I did take time out to read a copy of Elizabeth Rusch's graphic novel, Muddy Max: The Mystery of Marsh Creek. Thanks to the hard-working intern who brought it to my attention and supplied me with a copy.


Rusch, Elizabeth. 2014. Muddy Max: The Mystery of Marsh Creek. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel.  Illustrated by Mike Lawrence.

Max lives in the aptly-named suburban town of Marsh Creek. In addition to the marsh on the outskirts of town, mud is everywhere in town as well, making it almost impossible for the child of neat-freak parents to stay clean!  Max becomes suspicious of his parents'secretive habits, frequent trips to the marsh, and fanatical obsession with his cleanliness.  When he accidentally discovers that mud gives him superpowers, he and his friend Patrick become determined to figure out exactly what is going on in Marsh Creek.

This is an easy-to-read graphic, sci-fi novel that should be popular with younger kids and reluctant readers. The panels are easy to follow, with simple, but expressive drawings in muted browns and grays that reflect the book's muddy locale. Hopefully, future installments will add some dimension to the Max's female friend. Not willing to completely divest herself of her nonfiction roots, Rusch adds some real science about mud and its denizens in the back matter.

I predict that more than one member of my book club will want to take this one home.  I'll have to place some holds on library copies.



A Teacher's Guide to Muddy Max is available here.


Elizabeth Rusch is also a talented author of nonfiction. Last year I reviewed her book, Volcano Rising.


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2. Going Out On A High

I have liked some of M.T. Anderson's Thrilling Tales/Pals in Peril books better than others. (I know I'm nitpicking on this, but the name of the series changed for some reason.) I had to be won over by the first book, Whales on Stilts, but the second one, The Clue of of the Linoleum Lederhosen, was a hit. The third one I read (there are supposed to be six; I seem to have missed a couple), Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware wasn't a favorite. But the final book in the series, He Laughed with His Other Mouths, is an absolute gem.

The basic premise for all these books: A Tom Swift-type character named Jaspar Dash and a spunky girl (younger and spunkier than the 1930's era Nancy Drew) existed in their own book worlds that reflected the eras that created them, the 1920s/30s and the 1980s/90s. And yet, at the same time, they are existing in our own twenty-first century where Jaspar, in particular, is both having adventures but out of place.

In He Laughed with His Other Mouths, Jaspar is now that classic/stereotypical character, the young male in search of his father. Jaspar will go to the ends of the universe in search of dear old dad. He will accept some pretty outlandish behavior from his father figure. However, Jaspar is a young hero, and he recognizes evil when he sees it. Maybe he doesn't recognize it right away and maybe he needs a little push from his spunky girl companions, but he does recognize and behave as a hero should.

All of the books that I've read in this series operate on more than one level. You have the basic contemporary adventure. You have characters from an older book world trying to function in a contemporary one. You have the knowledge that children who are now old, if not dead, read the older books back when they were new and shiny.

With He Laughed with His Other Mouths, Anderson does something quite marvelous with footnotes. Using footnotes for witty asides has become a cliche since Terry Pratchett perfected doing that back in the day. But Anderson uses his clever footnotes not to be witty but to tell another story entirely, this one about a kid during World War II who was a Jaspar Dash fan. This is a complete story, a piece of serious historical fiction embedded in a fantasy satire/comedy.

As with all these books that I've read, I wonder how much of this wonderful stuff child readers will understand. Assuming they enjoy the layer with the contemporary adventure, will they get the jokes that are part of it? Will they get the nostalgic elements?

Kid readers aside, for those of us who do get He Laughed with His Other Mouths, it's pretty damn brilliant.

He Laughed with His Other Mouths is a Cybils nominee in the Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category.


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3. The Wonder and The Imaginary; 2 very special books indeed

I believe any book can fuel the imagination when it arrives in the right hands at the right time, but there are also some which explicitly explore how we nurture creativity and create space for inspiration and following our dreams. The Wonder by Faye Hanson and The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold and Emily Gravett are two such books which I’ve read recently and which have left me brimming with delight, hope and happiness and which have sparked hours of inspired play in my children.

wonderfrontcoverThe Wonder by Faye Hanson is a sumptuous début picture book about a young boy whose head if full of daydreams which transform the humdrum world around him. Time and again adults tell him to get his head out of the clouds and come back to reality, but this is barely possible for a child who finds wonder, curiosity and delight wherever he looks. Finally in art class he’s able to let loose his imagination onto a blank sheet of paper delighting his teacher and filling his parents with pride.

The child in this story sees ordinary objects but has the imagination to turn them into astonishing stories, breathtaking ideas, and worlds full of adventures waiting to happen. I know I want to foster this ability in my own children (and in myself!); the world becomes more beautiful, richer, and simply more enjoyable when we are able to imagine more than the grey, wet and humdrum daily life that all too often catches us up. This utterly delightful book is an enthusiastic encouragement to let more imagination in to our lives.

Click to view a larger version of this interior spread from The Wonder by Faye Hanson

Click to view a larger version (it’s really worth it!) of this interior spread from The Wonder by Faye Hanson

Hanson’s illustrations are dense, saturated, and rich. Careful use of colour lights up the boy’s dreams in his otherwise sepia coloured life. Limited palettes add to the intensity of these pictures; it’s interesting that their vitality doesn’t come from a rainbow range of paints, but rather from focussing on layer of layer of just a few colours, packed with exquisite detail. There’s a luminosity about the illustrations; some look like they’ve got gold foil or a built-in glow and yet there are no novelty printing techniques here.

All in all, an exquisite book that will tell anyone you share it with that you value their dreams and want to nurture their ingenuity, inventiveness and individuality.

imaginarycoverNow let me play devil’s advocate: Is there sometimes a line to be walked between feeding a child’s imagination and yet enabling them to recognise the difference between real life and day dreams? In The Wonder, there are plenty of adults pointing out the apparent problems/risks of day dreaming a great deal. On the other hand, in The Imaginary, a mother fully enters into her daughter’s imaginary world, not only acknowledging an imaginary best friend, but actively supporting this belief by setting places at meal times, packing extra bags, even accepting accidents must be the result of this friend and not the child herself.

Amanda believes that only she can see her imaginary friend Rudger. But all this changes one day when a mysterious Mr Bunting appears on the doorstep, apparently doing innocent door-to-door market research. But all is not as it seems for it turns out that Mr Bunting has no imagination of his own and can only survive by eating other people’s imaginary friends. He’s sniffed Rudger out and now he’s going to get him, whatever it takes.

Click to see larger illustration by Emily Gravett , from The Imaginary by A. F. Harrold

Click to see larger illustration by Emily Gravett, from The Imaginary by A. F. Harrold

If you’ve ever wondered where imaginary friends come from, and what happens to them when their children grow up and stop day-dreaming this is a book for you. If you love a good villain, adventures which include libraries and narrow escapes you’ll enjoy this too. If you’re a fan of elegant and attractive books you’ll want to feel this between your hands. The illustrations by Emily Gravett are terrific (in every sense) and incredibly atmospheric, magically adding beauty and tension to a story which I thought couldn’t be bettered.

Intelligent, clever, thoughtful, and packed with seeds of love and inspiration The Imaginary is perhaps my favourite middle grade/young fiction book of the year. If you want a fuller flavour of this gem before hurrying to get it into your hands, head and heart, there’s a full teacher’s guide to The Imaginary available on the Bloomsbury website and you can watch a video of Emily Gravett working on her illustrations here.

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

One of the ways my girls have been inspired in their playing since sharing these books became clear when they told me they wanted to make a star-making machine to go with the one features in The Wonder (see the illustration above).

M first wrote out some recipes for stars:

bluegiantrecipe

redgiantrecipe

I provided a little food for thought…

foodforengineers

…and a selection of machine parts.

machinepartsJPG

Several hours later the star machine was coming together

starmachine1

buildingmachine

Next up a selection of star ingredients were sourced:

staringredients

The machine was fed…

feedingmachine

Can you see the pulses of one star in the making?!

starinmaking

And out popped these stars (here’s a tutorial) at the end of the star making process:

starsfrommachine

Here’s one just for you:

endresult

Whilst making our machine we listened to:

  • Invisible Friends by Dog on Fleas
  • Imaginary Friend by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
  • ‘Pure Imagination’ from the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film
  • Land of Make Believe by Bucks Fizz (Groan!)

  • Other activities which could work well alongside reading The Wonder and The Imaginary include:

  • Creating a wonder wall on which to write all those curious questions you and the kids want to find answers to. There’s a lovely tutorial for creating your own Wonder Wall over on Nurture Store.
  • Going on a Wonder Walk. I’ve been thinking about places which spark the imagination or create a sense of awe and thinking about how I can take the kids to visit these places and see what ideas the experience sparks. In general the sorts of places I think have the potential to ignite wonder include high-up places with views to the horizon, hidden places, for example underground, enormous spaces whether man-made or natural, and dark places lit only by candles or fire. I think these locations could all work as seeds for the imagination, and so during the coming holiday I’m going to try to take the girls to a place that fits each of these descriptions.
  • Spirals feature a great deal in The Wonder‘s artwork. Here are various art projects which might inspire your own spiral creations: spiral mobiles, spiral suncatchers, spiral wall art made from scrap paper and even human spirograph art (you need huge pieces of paper but this looks great fun).

  • How do you foster your kids’ imagination? And your own?

    Disclosure: I was sent free review copies of both books in today’s post.

    3 Comments on The Wonder and The Imaginary; 2 very special books indeed, last added: 12/15/2014
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    4. Holiday Buffet of Free Ebooks compliments of Musa Publishing…

    Holiday season is upon us, and with it comes some wicked-awesome deals! Anyone who has an ereader or tablet will benefit from this wonderful opportunity to score 40 fabulous reads for the holidays. Musa Publishingis offering 13 Days of Free Ebooks starting December 13th—whoa that’s TODAY folks! Below is a list of ebooks and authors on board with this promotion, but you better act fast, as their ebooks are available for free download for only ONE day. BTW—I’m on the list too, and anyone who gets an ereader or tablet for Christmas will benefit from my free download day! Ho Ho Ho…

    December 13th, 2014:
    The Rhesus Factor by Sonny Whitelaw
    Returnby Lynn Rae
    Struckby Clarissa Johal

    December 14th, 2014:
    Tournament of Chance by S.G. Rogers
    Obsessionby JoAnne Keltner

    December 15th, 2014:
    Bridge to Desire by Alice Cross
    Saving Hope by Liese Sherwood-Fabre
    The Grimm Legacy by Addie King

    December 16th, 2014:
    Spire City: Contagion by Daniel Ausema
    Stained Glass Summer by Mindy Hardwick
    Time Will Tell by Mary Palmer

    December 17th, 2014:
    Guarding His Heart by Carolyn Spear
    An Unstill Life by Kate Larkindale

    December 18th, 2014:
    Hunter’s Find by June Kramin
    Five Golden Suitors by Jen Coffeen
    First Frost by Liz DeJesus

    December 19th, 2014:
    The Reluctant Bridegroom by Arabella Sheraton
    Persephoneby Kaitlin Bevis
    The Glass Sealing by Andrew Leon Hudson

    December 20th, 2014:
    The Exile of Elindel by Carol Browne
    Michaela’s Gift by Cordelia Dinsmore
    Pantheonby Josh Strnad

    December 21st, 2014:
    Only a Hero Will Do by Susan Lodge
    Prentice and Desiree by Brita Adams
    The 13th Guest by Rebecca Royce

    December 22nd, 2014:
    Silhouette of Darkness by George Wilhite
    Long Haul by Tom Olbert

    December 23rd, 2014:
    DEAD series by Lizzie T. Leaf
    Looney Dunes by Anne Skalitza
    Her Name by Alicia Joseph

    December 24th, 2014:
    Regarding Eliza by Viki Lyn
    The Sun God’s Heir by Elliott Baker
    Hard Pressed by Sharon Maria Bidwell

    December 25th, 2014:
    To Catch A Fish by Mary S. Palmer & David Wilton
    She Dreamed of Dragons by Elizabeth Walker
    Identity Crisis by Elizabeth Ashtree


    I hope you take advantage of this wonderful offer from Musa Publishing. There’s a book for every taste on the list from romance, science fiction, horror, thrillers, paranormal, fantasy, speculative fiction, and young adult, so please help yourself to this buffet of ebooks! Wishing you, and your family, a safe and happy holiday season! Cheers and happy reading!

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    5. In The Limelight with MG/YA Author Cheryl Carpinello…

    I want to thank magnificent middle grade/young adult author, Cheryl Carpinello for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Cheryl’s book Sons of the Sphinx can be purchased from Amazon, and other major on-line bookstores. Welcome, Cheryl! So let’s get this interview started…

    How long have you been writing, Cheryl?

    Probably around 20 years, but I started writing for MG/YA readers about 10 years ago. Nothing I wrote in those first 10 years will ever be published.

    Never say never, Cheryl! Wink. Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Sons of the Sphinx?

    We had visited Egypt in 2008 and that started me thinking. However, it wasn’t until 2010 when the Tutankhamen exhibit was in the US that I thought seriously about writing a book set back in ancient Egypt.

    Egypt is definitely on my bucket list. What sets Sons of the Sphinx apart from other books/series in the same genre?

    I believe it is the fact that this isn’t just an historical adventure story full of action and danger. It is also a story of a young teenager trying to come to grips with who she is and how she fits in the world around her. Ages 14-18 are stressful years for kids, more than most people would think. Any trait that sets a teen outside of the norm can be devastating, and Rosa, the main character, has just such a distinction. She can hear dead people, and her classmates know this. This makes for some tough times for Rosa.

    Hear dead people? Now you’ve got me hooked! As a middle grade/young adult author, what is your writing process?

    I do a lot of brain work before I start a story. Once I have a basic idea and outline in my head, then I write that out—when I say write, I mean in long hand. Then it’s back to mulling the idea over in my head for a while longer until I can sit down and write out a chapter by chapter outline. Once the outline is finished, I start writing the story. My goal is always to write the first draft without worrying about changes or omissions. Each day before writing I do type the previous writing on the computer without making any edits. If I find that something is not working, then I change from that point on. I don’t go back over previous entered material. Once the first draft is done, I start rewrites and do any additional research. From that point on, it’s a breeze! Just read, rewrite, edit, rewrite, and so on. My story always goes through my personal editor at least three times. Then a professional editor goes through another three or four rounds with me.

    Wow, I don’t think readers realize the leg-work authors must do to write a book! Thanks for sharing your process, Cheryl. How long did it take for you to start and finish Sons of the Sphinx?

    I started working on the idea in May 2010. Sons of the Sphinx was released in October 2014.

    Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, Cheryl?

    Do your homework: research the time period you are writing in. While I saw Egypt firsthand, I did a ton of book research, and I went to the Tutankhamen exhibit three times. Even if you are creating your own story’s history/background, you need to know everything about it.

    Good advice! What’s next for Cheryl Carpinello the author?

    Right now I’m working on sequel to my first Arthurian tale Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend. I’ve also got the first book in my new trilogy series Feathers of the Phoenix over half finished.

    Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

    I don’t even need to think about this—the Ancient World 1000BC to 400BC. I love the Greeks, Romans, even Egyptians of that time period. I’m also keen to see Atlantis! Those eras gave modern man and society so much in the way of philosophy, government, art, science, that it had to be fascinating to be a part of those worlds.

    Blurb for Sons of the Sphinx:

    Armed with what she considers her grandmothers curse, 15-year-old Rosa agrees to help the ghost of King Tut find his lost queen Hesena. Though Hesenas ba inhabits part of Rosa, finding the whole spirit of Hesena so that she and Tut can be together for the first time in over 3300 years proves to be a harder task than Rosa first thinks. Thrust back into Ancient Egypt with Tut, Rosa discovers that finding Hesena is not all she must do. She must keep out of the reach of the living Horemhebwho crosses mortal boundaries using Seths evil magicif she is to stay alive to make it back home.


    Buy Links for Sons of the Sphinx:






    Cheryl Carpinello’s Author Sites:

    Author Bio

    I love the Ancient and Medieval Worlds! As a retired English teacher, I hope to inspire young readers to read more through my Quest Books. Please follow me on this adventure. Hook up with me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Google.


    Also please visit my other sites: Carpinello's Writing Pages where I interview childrens/MG/Tween/YA authors; my home website Beyond Today Educator, and The Quest Books where I've teamed up with Fiona Ingram from South Africa and Wendy Leighton-Porter of England/France/Abu Dhabi to enable readers to find all of our Ancient and Medieval quest books in one place.

    0 Comments on In The Limelight with MG/YA Author Cheryl Carpinello… as of 12/12/2014 7:36:00 AM
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    6. Mortal Heart: review + giveaway

    Assassin nuns! Who doesn’t love assassin nuns? (All of the people who get assassinated by them, probably.) If you aren’t a threat to 15th-century Brittany, though, you’re probably safe. That said, if you haven’t read any of the books in the His Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers, GO READ THEM NOW. That is an order. The second book, Dark Triumph, is one of the best books I’ve read in the past year, and I think the series as a whole is pretty awesomesauce. The premise is as follows: the books follow the adventures (murder adventures) of three initiates – Ismae, Sybella, and Annith – of the Convent of Saint Mortain, the god of Death. All of the convent’s novitiates are also supposed to be the daughters of Mortain and have the creepy birth stories to prove it (with the exception of Annith whose birth is mysterious and unknown). They have all... Read more »

    The post Mortal Heart: review + giveaway appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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    7. A Letter to ZODIAC by Romina Russell

    Review by Becca ZODIACZodiac #1 by Romina RussellAge Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and upHardcover: 336 pagesPublisher: Razorbill (December 9, 2014)Goodreads | Amazon At the dawn of time, there were 13 Houses in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now only 12 remain…. Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to

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    8. Friday Feature: Annie Cosby



    "... a darkly romantic beginning to what promises to be an unusual contemporary YA fantasy series."
    - Serena Chase, USA Today

    When Cora’s mother whisks the family away for the summer, Cora must decide between forging her future in the glimmering world of second homes where her parents belong, or getting lost in the bewitching world of the locals and the mystery surrounding a lonely old woman who claims to be a selkie creature—and who probably needs Cora more than anyone else.

    Through the fantastical tales and anguished stories of the batty Mrs. O’Leary, as well as the company of a particularly gorgeous local boy called Ronan, Cora finds an escape from the reality of planning her life after high school. But will it come at the cost of alienating Cora’s mother, who struggles with her own tragic memories?

    As the summer wanes, it becomes apparent that Ronan just may hold the answer to Mrs. O’Leary’s tragic past—and Cora’s future.

    Buy the book


    The second book, Learning to Live, is out now!


    You can catch up with Annie at SincerelyAnnie.com. She'd love to hear from you!
    Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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    9. The Story behind 'GoldStar Magic! Family Pen-Pal Kit' by Terry Nicholetti

    When I moved from Ithaca, NY to Washington DC in 1998, I was missing my three granddaughters, ages 10, 8, and 6, and wanted to stay close to them. At the same time, I was going through a rebellious phase, resisting doing daily things we all need to do, cleaning, sorting mail, paying bills, etc.  My therapist encouraged me to make friends with the “little girl” within me who was so angry about “shoulds” and find a way to work together.  She also encouraged me to look for the “why;” why should I care about this task that I don’t want to do.

    One day I told her that I had paid all my bills on time that month, and she said, “Good for you! Give yourself a gold star!” What an idea! So I started a little notebook, listed my accomplishments, and gave myself a gold star each time. I wanted to share this idea with my granddaughters, so I designed a two-way postal card out of oak tag. On the top part it said, “Here’s something I did that I’m proud of.” On the bottom half, to be returned to the sender, it said “Here’s what I think of your story.” I made up a supply of these cards, and for a while, we exchanged these messages with great joy.

    When I shared these cards with my friends, they said, “This is a great idea; you should turn it into a product!” I didn’t want to just write up a boring “how to” pamphlet to go with them, so I got the idea to write a children’s story about a little girl named NoraLee Johnson who hates doing chores and misses her grandparents who have moved away. She is visited by Loofi Mondel from planet Ifwee, where the motto is “If we care, it’s magic!” They travel in a space ship to Ifwee, where NoraLee meets several residents who only do things they care about. Then they give themselves gold stars, and share their accomplishments with people they love. That’s GoldStar Magic!

    They also show her the “magic two-way postal cards” so she can stay close to her grandparents by writing to them about things she’s proud of. The GoldStar Magic! Family Pen-Pal Kit, ™  including NoraLee’s Adventures on Planet Ifwee, two-way postal cards, gold stars, and a link to download the Ifwee song.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR


    Terry Nicholetti, Founder and Chief Encourager of Speak Out, Girlfriend!, is a former teaching nun and professional actor/playwright and author, with nearly 30 years experience in sales and marketing. A speaker, consultant and member of National Speakers Association, Terry helps clients, especially artist/entrepreneurs, find their voice and tell their stories. For the past five years, Terry has been studying Mindfulness Meditation, and loves to share a simple yet profound process for becoming more “mindful or “present” at difficult moments, for example, when one is nervous right before a presentation. A member of Unity Worldwide Ministries congregations for more than a decade, Terry has built her Speak Out, Girlfriend! 9 Steps to Get from Fearful to Fabulous in part on Unity principles, especially that the spirit of God/Source/Universe lives in each of us, and that we create our life's experiences through our thoughts. Inspired by missing her own grandchildren after a move, Terry created and produced the GoldStar Magic! Family Pen-Pal Kit ™, including the delightfully illustrated  NoraLee's Adventures on Planet Ifwee, to help children and their grandparents get closer together, one story at a time.



    ABOUT THE BOOK

    Title: GoldStar Magic! Family Pen-Pal Kit, ™ including NoraLee's Adventures on Planet Ifwee Genre: children
    Author: Terry Nicholetti
    Publisher: Terry Nicholetti
    Purchase linkhttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0971648816 

    The Gold Star Magic! Family Pen-Pal Kit™
    Bringing children and their grandparents closer together – one story at a time!
    Parents: Are you looking for ways to help your young children (ages 4-10) stay in touch with their grandparents?

    Grandparents: Are your Skyping, texting, emailing, to stay in touch with your grandchildren? Do you remember how exciting it was to get something in the mail addressed to you?

    The Gold Star Magic! Family Pen-Pal Kit™  offers a really unique way to use first class mail to help children get closer to their grandparents – as well as build their self-esteem – one story at a time! The kit is built around NoraLee’s Adventures on Planet Ifwee, a delightfully illustrated, 32 page book about a little girl who hates doing her chores, and misses her grandparents. When she visits Planet Ifwee, she learns how to use GoldStar Magic! to solve both these challenges. NoraLee meets residents like Robinia Clarinda Gazaundry, who helps her dad with the family laundry. From her new friends,  NoraLee learns to do something because she cares, give herself gold stars because she feels so proud, and use magic Two-way postal cards to tell her grandparents so they can be proud too.

    The kit also includes:

        6 Two-Way Postal Cards™ and sealers for children & grandparents to tell their stories.
        Lots of Gold Stars.

        A link to download The Ifwee Song!“ by Terry and Jan Nigro of Vitamin L Children’s Chorus.

    0 Comments on The Story behind 'GoldStar Magic! Family Pen-Pal Kit' by Terry Nicholetti as of 12/1/2014 1:00:00 PM
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    10. Strange things did happen here…

    Hi everyone!  So, that was another fun hiatus.  Since our last episode: My family moved from our Wisconsin home of 20 years, to the Fort Wayne area. I’ve made it a project to check out all the area coffee places and review them on FourSquare (and also hopefully find a new favorite haunt or two). Put […]

    2 Comments on Strange things did happen here…, last added: 11/28/2014
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    11. A Lot Further Down The Romance Road

    Back in 2012, I found Daughter of Smoke and Bone to be both romance and fantasy, two genres I'm not fond of in and of themselves. I need something more in those genres, such as a strong character, or, in the case of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, a mystery. Who was the main character, Karou? Why was the guy with the wings always hanging around her? There was a journey thing going on, as Karou discovered who and what she was. I can't find a post on Days of Blood and Starlight, the second book in the trilogy, but I recall feeling it was a connector, which second books in trilogies often are.

    Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the last book in the trilogy, is more clearly a romance. There's various other things going on, but the real significant storyline here is all about Karou and Akiva. Their eyes meet across a crowd. There are many paragraphs about kissing. Lots of relationship stuff. There are teases for the reader, too. Will they kiss? Someone shows up at the cave opening and No! The kiss is off! Will they get together for some real hot and heavy stuff? Oh, they're getting closer...closer...No! Akiva has disappeared!

    You can probably tell I'm not that keen on Karou and Akiva anymore. No, Liraz was my big interest in this book. I won't tell you who she gets together with because that's the best surprise.

    The Significance Of Romance And Marketing "Gods And Monsters"

     

    I happened to read A Billion-dollar Affair in the Oct. 24 issue of Entertainment Weekly while I was reading Dreams of Gods and Monsters. Sales of romance are huge, there's an enormous market. At the same time, though, author Karen Valby says the "long-ridiculed" genre is "dismissed by the critical mass." As a result, I started wondering how Dreams of Gods and Monsters is being marketed. Is it being promoted as a fantasy or paranormal romance, which could bring it to a large and appreciative audience? Or is it being marketed as something else, perhaps to avoid the romance label?

    In a USA Today interview, Taylor talks about working on a short story for a romance anthology, so she thinks of romance as a genre she works within, at least some of the time
    . I think there is a romance thing going on in the publisher's marketing of the book, but it's subtle. The publisher's copy at its website includes the line "They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love." There's also talk of various beings fighting, striving, loving, and dying.

    Wait. I just realized. My romance reading is limited to historical mysteries with couple characters. I don't read advertising copy for romance novels. "They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love" may be exactly how a romance novel is marketed.

    Dreams of Gods and Monsters is a Cybils nominee in the Young Adult Speculative Fiction category.
    From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera, and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc
    They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc
    They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc
    They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc
    They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc
    They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc

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    12. Book Review- The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

    Title: The Mirror Empire
    Author: Kameron Hurley
    Series:  Worldbreaker Saga #1
    Published:  26 August 2014 by Angry Robot
    Length: 569 pages
    Warnings: semigraphic sex, assault, graphic gore
    Source: Netgalley
    Other info: Hurley has written many things, like God’s War and We Have Always Fought.
    Summary : On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.
    In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.
    As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.
    Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.
    In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.
    Review: Two worlds exist, mirrors of each other, and two versions of people exist, one in each world. Doorways can be opened between them, but you can only cross into the other world if your double in that one is dead. In one world, the Kai, the leader of the magic workers,Kirana, dies mysteriously, leaving her ungifted brother Ahkio  to take her place. In another story line, Lilia was pushed through a door to escape death. Many other stories weave together to form the story of this mirror empire.
    I read this because Kameron Hurley's  blog posts are really good and Angry Robot had this on offer from Netgalley and I'd heard of really good diversity  and so I read this.
    I haven't read high fantasy for some time,I think, and it shows. I did infer lots of things about this world  and my head picture is probably completely different to Hurley's.
    I also think I missed something crucial as to how everything fits together in terms of plotlines. There's Zezeli,an army captain, who goes campaigning and then.has to find her husband Anavha (who we followed for a bit then I think we stopped following him which was sad because I liked him). Other characters I liked include Roh, Ahkio, Taigan, Gian and many others. Most of the main characters really.  They were all developed, and their stories were intriguing and I wanted to carry on reading about them despite me not fully understanding the links between them all.
    The worlds are well developed. Polyamory and female led relationships and strong belief in magic and a  coherent magic system can be found, and settings range from army camps to cities to frozen areas.
    The writing is descriptive, even in the very gory areas. It felt like  a long book, but it didn't feel slow. i didn't want this book to end!
    characters' storylines clearly overlap in places, but in others, it felt like we were just following someone without it feeding in to a main thing.  I didn't mind, because the small plots were well written and interesting, but I would like to see more convergence in any future novels.


    Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a book I enjoyed for its characters' individual plots, despite them not all coming together.


    0 Comments on Book Review- The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley as of 11/26/2014 5:50:00 PM
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    13. Zac’s Destiny – Award Winner!

    Great News! Zac’s Destiny won the online People’s Book Awards for the month of October 2014! Thank you so much to everyone who voted.
    This award winning Sword & Sorcery fantasy is available to purchase from Amazon worldwide.

    Click here to buy your copy

    Kindle winner Oct14

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    14. Zac’s Destiny – Award Winner!

    Great News! Zac’s Destiny won the online People’s Book Awards for the month of October 2014! Thank you so much to everyone who voted.
    This award winning Sword & Sorcery fantasy is available to purchase from Amazon worldwide.

    Click here to buy your copy

    Kindle winner Oct14

    Add a Comment
    15. Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti

    Hansel & Gretel, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Lorenzo Mattiotti is the newest release from TOON Graphics, a line of graphic novels for kids reading at 3rd grade level and above, launched by the superb François Mouly and the fantastic people at TOON Books. What Gaiman and Mattotti do with a very familiar fairy tale in their rendition is amazing, both for the spare starkness of

    0 Comments on Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti as of 11/24/2014 4:48:00 AM
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    16. Siren’s Song

    Siren’s Song

    Siren's Song Illustration by Manelle Oliphant

    Siren’s Song, Personal Project: Digital

    A Short Story

    By Manelle Oliphant

    To Download This Story Click Here

    Joseph stood on the ship’s deck where he’d served for the last three years and stared at the miniature painting his wife had sent. The picture showed his smiling two-year-old son in a sailor’s outfit.

    “I show him your portrait and tell him about you every day. We are very excited you will be home soon,” her most recent letter had read.

    Joseph smiled. The shortcut through the pass would allow them to be home in a few short weeks. He would see his wife and meet his son. Best of all he could now retire from the navy. The crew had made a fortune on this voyage. His percent plus the money he’d saved from his pay was enough to buy a small house.

    The ship’s bell tolled and someone yelled, “Amar Pass ahead! Make yourself ready.”

    Joseph stuffed the letter and miniature in his pocket as he ran toward the helm. Sailing through the pass required strict protocol. Every sailor must have their ears plugged and be tied to the ship. One man steered the ship with his hands tied to the helm. The pass’s smooth water held few hidden rocks, despite the high hills on either side. The pass itself was safe. Any danger came from the creatures who lived there.

    Commander Weldmen would steer the ship, and Joseph’s assignment was to help him prepare. When Joseph arrived Weldmen handed him some rope. “Get on with things Midshipman. We don’t have long.”

    “Yes sir.” Joseph took the rope and waited while Commander Weldmen plugged his ears with wads of cloth. Then he tied the Commander’s hands to the wheel. Weldmen nodded and Joseph ran to the main deck.

    The pass was in view. The sight filled him with dread no matter how many times he’d seen it before. He took some rope from Billy, another Midshipmen, and tied himself to the railing. He double checked its tightness around his waist, and stuffed his ears with cotton cloth.

    The only sound Joseph could hear as they entered the pass was the breathing inside his head. Huge boulders jutted up out of the water on either side of them. He looked toward the shoreline where the sirens sat.

    They were ugly. They looked like women but green and blue scales covered their skin. Instead of legs they had long tails, which flopped in the water like a dying fish. When the ship steered close enough they bit at the sailors with their sharp teeth.

    All the while they sang a song Joseph couldn’t hear. The song enchanted men to drown themselves. Stories told of only one man who heard the song and survived. His shipmates kept him from jumping overboard and he lived out the rest of his days in an asylum. Joseph shuttered when he thought about it.

    The movement loosed the cotton in his left ear and it fell into the water. Horrified he watched it fall into the water, and the beauty of the song wrapped around his heart.

    Joseph reached up and pulled the other plug from his ear. Waves of song flowed through him. The water, clouds, and rocks dazzled before his eyes. He looked at the singing women and sighed. Such beautiful women! His heart leaped in his chest when one smiled at him. Her teeth shined like pearls and her scales glistened in the sun. She waved him over. He waved back. He thought about feeling her cold skin and wet tail. He imagined putting his arm around her tiny waist and pulling her close. Would she let him give her a kiss?

    He tried to jump over the railing but a rope tied around his waist stopped him. He remembered tying the rope but couldn’t understand the reason. There was no danger here. He grabbed at the knot with his fingers. It wouldn’t budge. Curse his knot tying skill. He pulled a knife from his pocket and sawed at his prison.

    Someone grabbed his arm. Joseph looked up. Billy shook his head and reached for the knife. Joseph scowled and jerked it away. Wasn’t Billy his friend? Now, when he thought back, he remembered all the times Billy had betrayed him. Why hadn’t he seen it before?

    Billy reached for the knife again. Joseph hit him with its handle. Billy’s nose started to bleed.

    Joseph smiled. Serves him right. He finished sawing and jumped into the water.

    Cold engulfed his whole body and a current pulled at his legs. The sensations invigorated his body. He’d never felt so alive. He kicked to the surface and looked around. The ship had passed him. He waved at the men who watched him from the poop deck. Silly fools, they would regret not taking this chance. He turned to the shore and spotted the flirt who smiled at him before. He grinned and swam toward her.

    He ignored the current pulling at his legs, and imagined running his fingers through her long clammy hair. His muscles grew colder but rainbows danced off her scales as the sunlight hit them. He smiled again. His eyes had never beheld such a feast. He had never heard such a song. He ignored his body’s protests and swam closer. His whole purpose in life was to make this beautiful creature happy.

    She was so close now. She smiled at him again with her beautiful arrow-like teeth. Inviting teeth. Oh, to kiss her mouth!

    The current pulled at his legs again, he fought it, but his cold muscles protested. His head went under water. He kicked hard and resurfaced. He reached for her. She sang her song. He relaxed and sunk again. He looked up through the clear water. She grinned at him. Water filled his mouth. He didn’t fight. Water filled his nose. He breathed it in. He could still see her smile. He had made her happy. Now he knew every event in his life, good and bad, had happened to lead him to this blessed moment.

    November 6, 1895

    My Dear Mrs. Hansen,

    I understand you have heard the news of your husband’s death. I write to offer you my deepest condolences. I served with your husband on the Greenfly for the last three years. He talked of you often, and was very proud of his son. He showed me the miniature you sent. He looks like a strong healthy boy who takes after his father. I was with him as he went overboard and I know he thought of you ‘til the last. Your husband was a good man, and a good friend. It was an honour to serve with him.

    With deepest sympathies,

    Midshipman William Smith

     

    The End

     

    Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this book support the author and the creation of other ebooks like this at http://www.patreon.com/manelleoliphant

    Manelle Oliphant Patreon

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    17. Come On. No One Else Gets A "Jane Eyre" Vibe Here?

    When I was a teenager, I was a big fan of historical romance. In college, I would read Georgette Heyer during exam weeks to relax. As an adolescent, I really liked that "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, Well, maybe you're not so bad" storyline in a historical setting. So I picked Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge off the Cybils Young Adult Speculative Fiction nomination list for one reason and one reason only: The main character has been raised to marry and murder a demon who has had control of her country since before she was born but falls for him before she can complete her task. Okay, it was paranormal and not historical, but I was dealing with a speculative fiction list, after all.

    Now, though I seem to read a lot of fantasy, it's mainly because a lot of children's and YA books are fantasy. It's not because I'm so fond of it. I don't get excited about fantasy elements, as a general rule.  I'm not crazy about houses that are always changing, for instance, as the one in Cruel Beauty does. I was kind of mystified about who the Kindly Ones were in this book, especially since there seems to be an alternative Greek mythology thing going on here and where do the Kindly Ones fit in? But that didn't matter because the demon was very witty and clever and our protagonist wasn't a particularly nice person, which I like in a heroine.

    Yes, Teen Gail would have loved this thing. Cruel Beauty should be on a list of teen vacation reading that is totally inappropriate for school papers. 

    But If You Want To Write A School Paper On It, Try Talking About Jane Eyre


    However, if someone really wants to sell this as a subject for a high school paper, I think they might be able to do a Jane Eyre comparison. Cruel Beauty is being marketed as a Beauty and the Beast meets Greek mythology tale, but I kept thinking of Jane Eyre.

    Jane Eyre was not assigned reading for me when I was a teenager. I read it on my own, as I read a great many things back then. I did not find it particularly memorable, except for the scene where poor Jane sits on the sidelines during an evening event at Mr. Rochester's house. That probably speaks volumes about my adolescence. I didn't become a fan of Jane's until I re-read it in 2003 after reading The Eyre Affair. The Good Reading Fairy had hit it, and I've become a bit of a Jane Eyre groupy, looking for and reading retellings. Cruel Beauty may not be an intentional retelling, but I still think an enterprising student could make a case that would convince a teacher to at least accept a Beauty/Jane Eyre paper.

    Jane Eyre is about a prickly young woman who doesn't inspire affection in traditional relationships, such as the one with her aunt. In the course of acquiring what is by the standards of her time a good education, she is not treated very well. She enters a wealthy (wealth is power) man's home as a governess. Said wealthy man is unhappy and bitter over the life he has been forced to live. These two damaged, unromantic people find something in each other.

    Cruel Beauty is about a bitter, angry young woman, her father's least favorite child, the one he bartered away to a demon. He provides her with what is by the standards of her world a good education so she can kill the demon he's marrying her off to. The plan will mean her death as well, explaining her bitterness and anger. She enters a powerful male's home as his wife. Said powerful male is amusing and attractive but resigned to a fate he brought upon himself, one we're not aware of for a while. These two damaged, I can't say unromantic because I'm sure we're supposed to think they are, people recognize something in each other.

    In Jane Eyre, there's a madwoman in the attic. In Cruel Beauty, there's a little something in one of the house's many rooms.   

    Jane and Mr. Rochester's story in Jane Eyre is framed with a beginning piece about Jane's rough youth with her family and boarding school and an ending bit about her suffering after she leaves Rochester. Nyx and Ignifex's story in Cruel Beauty is framed with a beginning piece about Nyx's rough youth with her family and an ending bit about her suffering after she and Ignifex are separated. Some have argued that Mr. Rochester's blindness is a punishment for what he planned for himself and Jane, a punishment that was alleviated when Jane returned to him. A clever high school student could argue that Ignifex was punished for all he had done, a punishment that was alleviated when Jane returned to him.
     
    There you've got it, folks, the beginning of a Cruel Beauty/Jane Eyre English paper.

    Wait! There's more! It's kind of a stretch, but if enterprising students wanted to, they could claim there's a bit of a torn-between-two-lovers thing going on in Jane Eyre what with Jane being proposed to by both Mr. Rochester and that creepy minister named St. John. The author of Cruel Beauty does something interesting with the torn-between-two-lovers cliche.

    Okay, lads and lasses. You're welcome to this material, but put it into your own words.

    0 Comments on Come On. No One Else Gets A "Jane Eyre" Vibe Here? as of 11/19/2014 11:42:00 PM
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    18. World Building

    Here are some techniques to use when creating a fantasy world for your story. 

    http://www.adventuresinyapublishing.com/2014/10/craft-of-writing-world-building-tips-by.html

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    19. Review: The Turning Season by Sharon Shinn

     

    May Contain Spoilers

    Review:

    I’ve read and enjoyed several of Shinn’s older books, so I was curious to see if I’d still like her writing style now.  I haven’t read any of the other books in the Shifting Circle series, and I didn’t feel that I was missing anything by not reading them.  The Turning Season stood well on it’s own, though now that I’ve read it, I would like to read the other books in the series.

     

    Karadel is a shape-shifter and she hates it.  She hates the unpredictability and the disruption to her life, and she yearns to be normal.  She has a small group of close friends who help out with her animal menagerie when she’s unable to because she’s changed into something else.  She experiments with the DNA of other shifters in an attempt to make her own change cycles more regulated.  Living outside of a small town, she works as a vet, as well as offering shelter and medical care to other shifters in need.

    The Turning Season reads like a day in the life of a reluctant shape-shifter, and though the pacing might be slow for some readers, I really enjoyed it.  I liked how powerless Karadel felt about her shifts; she has no control over when or what she will change into.  This makes it difficult to do many of the things that I take for granted.  Planning a vacation, a date, or even holding a steady job outside of the house is nearly impossible for her.  Going to school if you are a teenage shape-shifter is definitely not a good idea.  Karadel has a contingency plan in place for when she does change, and her close friends make her chaotic life possible.

    Her  impulsive friend Celeste inadvertently turns Karadel’s life on end.  After Celeste changes shape in public, Karadel’s got serious damage control to orchestra.  Worse, Celeste’s life is in danger, and the small community of shape-shifters is in danger of being exposed.  This is so not a good time to start having romantic feelings for a local guy.  Worse, he’s normal.  How can Karadel ever share her secret and be herself with him, when she’s having such a hard time accepting herself for who she is?  Then, to make things really difficult, throw in a murder and make your ex the main suspect.  Karadel’s quiet life goes from bad to worse, and she isn’t sure who she can trust with the truth.

    I thought the love story was sweet, and that Joe was the perfect match for Karadel.  I found all of the characters engaging, even the sly sheriff who always seemed to be sniffing around for the truth.  All of the shifters had different challenges to deal with regarding their ability, and I found it interesting how they dealt with them.  Overall, I enjoyed the world Shinn created for her shifters, and more importantly, I enjoyed getting to know all of them.

    Grade:  B

    Review copy provided by publisher

    In national bestselling author Sharon Shinn’s latest Shifting Circle novel, a woman must choose between hiding her nature—and risking her heart…

    For Karadel, being a shape-shifter has always been a reality she couldn’t escape. Even though she’s built a safe life as a rural veterinarian, with a close-knit network of shifter and human friends who would do anything for her—and for each other—she can’t help but wish for a chance at being normal.

    When she’s not dealing with her shifts or caring for her animal patients, she attempts to develop a drug that will help shifters control their changes—a drug that might even allow them to remain human forever.

    But her comfortable life is threatened by two events: She meets an ordinary man who touches her heart, and her best friend is forced to shift publicly with deadly consequences.

    Now Karadel must decide whom to trust: her old friends or her new love.

    The post Review: The Turning Season by Sharon Shinn appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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    20. Audio book reviews - recent fantasy favorites

    *
    I'm back from vacation and have some catching up to do!  If you're a frequent reader, you'll know that I review books for AudioFile Magazine.  Once submitted, I cannot reprint my reviews here, but I can offer a quick rundown, and link to the reviews as they appeared for AudioFile.


    I am smitten with the unflappable Jennifer Strange, protagonist of Jasper Fforde's Chronicles of Kazam series. I recently reviewed the second book in the series, The Song of the Quarkbeast. A quirky, funny, and smartly-written fantasy series.  Book 3, The Eye of Zoltar just published last month, so get reading!  Read my review of The Song of the Quarkbeast here.  Suggested for ages 10-14. (I think older readers may enjoy it as well.)

    I love Cornelia Funke's dark fantasy titles.  The Inkheart trilogy is a favorite series, and I thoroughly enjoyed Reckless, the first in the Mirrorworld series. I was thrilled when offered an opportunity to review her new early chapter book fantasy, Emma and the Blue Genie, especially when I discovered that she is the narrator.  My review of Emma and the Blue Genie is here.  Suggested for ages 7-10.
     (I only reviewed the audio copy, but the print copy is lovely - small and special and delightfully illustrated)




    * Headphone image courtesy of Openclipart.org.

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    21. KidLit Book Review - Ashlynn's Dreams by Julie C. Gilbert

       

    Ashlynn’s Dreams
    Written by Julie C. Gilbert


    Julie C. Gilbert has created and delivered a fantasy adventure like no other. From the onset the reader is immersed into Jillian Blairington’s world told from the perspective of those closest to her as well as Jillian’s inner most thoughts. Using the technique of diary/letter entries shared from each perspective person, the reader is carried through a journey of unexpected twists and turns. Jillian longs for the days of her predictable life after her kidnapping. What she learns about her existence and the plans Dr. Deyva has for her newfound capabilities shatters Jillian’s every waking thought and dream state. Will she figure out all the components to save herself, Danielle and her “new siblings” in time? Or will Jillian succumb to the treachery of Dr. Deyva and the so-called capability of shaping a person’s dreams?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Best wishes,
    Donna M. McDine
    Multi Award-winning Children's Author

    Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

    Connect with
    A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

    Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

    Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review

    The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
    ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

    0 Comments on KidLit Book Review - Ashlynn's Dreams by Julie C. Gilbert as of 11/13/2014 10:29:00 AM
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    22. Friday Feature: Wicked Path by Eliza Tilton





    Wicked Path, by Eliza Tilton

    Genre: young-adult, fantasy

    Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

    Date of Release­­: October 6, 2014

    Series: Daath Chronicles (#2)

    Cover Artist: Michelle Johnson at Blue Sky Design(https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blue-Sky-Design/1401031006827361?sk=timeline)

    Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22452354-wicked-path?from_search=true

    Description:
    In Wicked Path: Book Two of the Daath Chronicles brother and sister are forced to opposite sides of Tarrtainya on a fast-paced adventure where the wildlife isn’t the only thing trying to kill them.

    Three months have passed since Avikar defeated the Reptilian Prince, and he still can’t remember his battle with Lucino. On the hunt for answers, he returns to the scene of the fight and discovers a strange connection between his family’s dagger and the mysterious kingdom of Daath, and it seems only his distant father can reveal the truth behind it all.

    Before Avikar can travel back home, Lucy assaults him in the market and forces him to flee to Nod Mountains—a place few dare to enter, and even less return from. With Raven and her childhood friend by his side, they must survive the treacherous journey through the pass with a vengeful Lucy hunting them. If they don’t, they’ll never see home again.

    Jeslyn’s new life in Luna Harbor is the perfect remedy for her confused and broken heart. But when a group of mercenaries kidnap her beloved Grandfather, interrupting her daily routine as his jewelry apprentice, she's forced to join forces with the one person from her past she tried to forget.


    And his assistance comes with a price.

    About The Author:

    Eliza graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing.

    Her YA stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a hot romance. She resides on Long Island with her husband, two kids and one very snuggly pit bull.

    Find Eliza Tilton Online:


    Website (http://elizatilton.com/)| Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eliza-Tilton-YA-Author/245765852217133) | Twitter (https://twitter.com/ElizaTilton)| Goodreads(https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7047768.Eliza_Tilton)

    Want your YA, NA, or MB book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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    23. Demons and Thieves

    Demons and Thieves
    Author: Lynda Berger
    Publisher: Fuluji’s Publishing Ltd
    Genre: Adventure / Fantasy
    ISBN: 9780957374300
    Pages: 268
    Price: £6.99

    Author’s website
    Buy it at Bookstore.co.uk

    Tad Bailey can’t take much more. After another fight between his parents, he runs from his home, wondering if things can get any worse. When he discovers a mysterious gate leading to another world, he’s offered a chance at happiness. He doesn’t know it, but he’s been living in the Shadows, and now he has the opportunity to get out.

    All he has to do is find three Keys in Shiladu before time expires. If he doesn’t succeed, he’ll be stuck there forever. While he’s there, demons prey on his vulnerabilities, another visitor tries to steal his Keys, and a permanent resident of Shiladu upsets the time continuum, making Tad the scapegoat. Seeking the Keys is his ultimate goal, but he’s even more concerned with making it out of Shiladu alive.

    Demons and Thieves is an exciting fantasy and adventure novel that grabbed my interest from the very beginning. Tad faces dangerous situations that he needs to escape from, and he never knows what lurks behind the next corner. Evil comes at him from every direction, keeping the reader hooked to find out what happens next. I enjoyed this story very much, and I look forward to reading the next two books in this Seven Keys Trilogy.

    Reviewer: Alice Berger


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    24. Adelita’s Secret by Christopher Cloud

    AdelitasSecret_Ecover-187x300Title: Adelita’s Secret

    Author: Christopher Cloud

    Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform

    Genre: young adult fantasy romance

    Format: paperback copy, kindle 

    Lost in a superficial world of materialism and social status—and ashamed of her Latino heritage—seventeen-year-old Adelita Noé is loved by two men, two men separated by a hundred years and vastly different stations in life. One man owns little more than the shirt on his back. The other, a poet at heart, is heir to a vast fortune. Their love for Adelita serves as the backdrop for the Latino girl’s quest to better understand herself and her Mexican roots.

    For More Information:

    Title is available at Amazon kindle,  or paperback

    Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble

    Ron-15-224x300
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    Award-winning author Christopher Cloud began writing fiction full time at the age of 66 after a long career in journalism and public relations. He writes middle-grade and young adult novels. Chris graduated from the University of Missouri in 1967 with a degree in journalism. He has worked as a reporter, editor, and columnist at newspapers in Texas, California, and Missouri. He was employed by a major oil company as a public relations executive, and later operated his own public relations agency. Chris lives in Joplin, Missouri, and enjoys golf and hiking. 

    Visit Christopher Cloud’s website

    Visit Cloud’s blog

    More books by Christopher Cloud


    0 Comments on Adelita’s Secret by Christopher Cloud as of 11/18/2014 4:29:00 AM
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    25. Steampunk queen: an interview with Gail Carriger

    gail brookline parasol Steampunk queen: an interview with Gail Carriger

    Tea time! Photo: Elissa Gershowitz

    Gail Carriger introduced readers to her alternate Victorian London — chock-full of steampunk technology and supernatural characters — in 2009 with Soulless, the first volume of her five-book adult series The Parasol Protectorate. The Finishing School series, a YA prequel series set in the same world, soon followed, beginning with Curtsies & Conspiracies. Espionage lessons, a dirigible boarding school, a girl inventor, vampires and werewolves, witty banter: what more could a steampunk fantasy fan ask for? Gail is currently working on another companion YA series, The Custard Protocol, which will kick off with Prudence in spring 2015.

    brooklineinvite Steampunk queen: an interview with Gail Carriger

    You’re invited… Photo: Elissa Gershowitz

    My beloved local Brookline Public Library (hi Robin!) hosted Gail on November 10th for a lovely evening tea party — cucumber sandwiches and all! — and Q&A event to celebrate the release of Waistcoats & Weaponry, the third book in the Finishing School series. I spoke with her over tea just before the event. In addition to being a prolific and (ahem) fantastic author, Gail is also an archaeologist by training, Elissa’s college roomie (Oberlin represent!), and a very stylish lady — she told me she had a different Waistcoats & Weaponry–cover coordinated ensemble for each stop on the book tour.

    The Parasol Protectorate books are adult books and The Finishing School series is YA — although there’s been a lot of crossover, with the YA books being read by adults and the adult books being read by teens. Have you found that there are things you can do in adult books that you can’t do in YA, or vice versa?

    For me, YA has to be — and this is what I like about it — it has to be very clean and sharp. As a writer, it requires me to do a lot more editing because it needs to be very sparse. You don’t sacrifice details, but you sacrifice a certain amount of waffling. In adult books you’re allowed to put in extra little bits and distract the readers with pretty description for a while. In young adult, you just can’t do that. You have to be very structured and paced. Pacing is always really important to me, but I think in YA it’s even more important. That’s one of the biggest differences. And I allow myself to be a little more racy when I’m writing the adult stuff.

    carriger waistcoats and weaponry Steampunk queen: an interview with Gail CarrigerYour Finishing School protagonist Sophoronia Temminnick has quite the name. Do you have other favorite Victorian-era names that you’ve come across in your research (or that you’ve come up with yourself)?

    I tend to use them if I come across them. I love the name “Euphrenia”; I don’t know if I’ve leaked it into the books yet, but it’s one of my favorite ultra-Victorian names. I really like first names that are traditionally Victorian but are not used anymore. That’s one of the reasons I chose “Sophronia.” It’s still a pretty name, and sort of like “Sophia,” but just old-fashioned enough for you to know immediately, the minute that you read her name, that she’s not of our time. “Dimity” was another actual name from the time period. Alexia [from the Parasol Protectorate books] only got named “Alexia” because she was one of those characters that announced herself as being named that. Sometimes characters just enter your head and they’re like, “This is my name!” “Soap” is one of those as well. “Pillover” is another one — it’s not a real name; I just made that one up completely. But “Sophronia” and “Dimity” I picked.

    Is there a mythological creature that you’ve been wanting to introduce into this world that you haven’t gotten to yet?

    I’m pretty strict with myself with world-building. I’m sticking to motifs of vampires, shape-shifters, and ghosts, probably because almost every ancient culture has some version of them, like the kitsune in Japan. But I excavated in Peru for a while and there is a legend in the Peruvian highlands of a creature called a pishtaco (which is fantastically ridiculous-sounding, first of all). It’s essentially a fat-sucking vampire rather than a blood-sucking vampire — which is comedy gold. I’m dying to get [Custard Protocol protagonist] Prudence to the New World at some point so that she can meet one of these creatures and I can write all about them.

    gail standing brookline Steampunk queen: an interview with Gail Carriger

    Ensemble #1 at the Brookline Public Library. Photo: Elissa Gershowitz

    Are we going to see more mechanimals like Bumbersnoot in the Finishing School books? (Or do you say “mech-animals”?)

    I say “mechanimals,” like “mechanicals” but with an “animal” at the end. You will see more of them, but you’re not going to see a named little friend like Bumbersnoot. There’s quite a few in the last book but that’s all I’m going to say.

    If you were going to have a mechanimal pet yourself, what kind of animal would you pick?

    Probably something like a hedgehog. I would like a round, roly-poly, friendly sort of critter. I have a very demanding cat who’s svelte and overdramatic, so I think I’d like a calm, rodentia-style, chubby little creature. Something in the porcupine, hedgehog arena. The cat would probably be very upset with it.

    What would your dream teatime guest list and menu look like?

    Oh, goodness. Do I get to pick fantastic characters? Or historical people?

    Sure. Living, dead, fictional — anyone you want.

    There’s part of me that has to be true to my archaeological roots and pick Nefertiti, Hatshepsut, Boadicea… I’m attracted to super-powerful female historical figures, the queens and mistresses, so I’d probably concoct a party that was all these fantastic women from history. The problem, of course, would be interpretation, but it’s my fantasy so everyone would speak English. I’m an adventurous eater, and I’d like to cater to the guests, so I’d have foods from all of the different places and times they came from. One of my favorite things is cooking ancient food, sourcing the ingredients and re-creating it myself. I think if you can taste the flavor of the past, you can get a better impression of it. I’d try to do that so everybody got to try everybody else’s dishes.

    What’s your specialty, your pet era as an archaeologist?

    I’m not an area specialist; I’m a materials specialist. My focus was on ceramics. To this day I have a propensity to pick up a piece of pottery and flip it over to look at the back side — which can be terribly embarrassing if I’ve forgotten that there’s food on the front side — to look for the maker’s mark.

    gail cambridge Steampunk queen: an interview with Gail Carriger

    Ensemble #2 at Cambridge’s Pandemonium Books and Games store. Photo: Elissa Gershowitz

    Are there other historical eras that you’d like to write about?

    The series I’m writing now [The Custard Protocol] is set in the 1890s, which is basically the dawn of female emancipation. Mostly because of trousers — women gained a great deal of autonomy due to education and to the bicycle. The two combined started the New Woman movement, these educated young ladies with self-motivation and autonomy. I’m excited to move closer to the turn of the twentieth century and to have a bit more realism behind my super-strong female characters, because they’re not quite realistic to their time. There’s certainly other time periods I’d love to write in. I’d love to set an ancient story in some of the places I’ve visited.

    What would be the most useful gadget for a Finishing School student to have on her person in the case of an espionage emergency? (This is a very difficultly worded question!)

    It sounds like something I’ve written! The voice-acting talent [for my audiobooks] is always calling and complaining because I love tongue-twisters. I don’t even realize I’ve written them until somebody’s like, “Why did you write that?!” “I didn’t think about you guys reading it out loud.”

    “Handiest gadget?” is the short version!

    I love Sophronia’s fan, but I think it’s really handy for her. She becomes comfortable with it and adapts to it, but it’s not necessarily something that would be useful for everybody. In the final book, the chatelaine really comes to the fore. The girls keep going to balls, and they keep having to have chatelaines on them. A chatelaine is like the base for a Swiss Army Knife; it hangs off your belt and there’s a bunch of little chains and clips so you can hang multiple little things off it. Customarily you’d have a bit of perfume and a dance card, maybe keys or a little sewing kit. But of course Geraldine’s girls have a whole different set of things dangling! I love the idea that you could just attach something that has everything useful hanging off of it. Why can’t we still do that?

    More fabulous photos at the Brookline Public Library Teen Room Tumblr.

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