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1. If you only had a brain

scarecrow-in-fieldFarah Mendlesohn called my attention to this bit of fuckwittery from The Guardian, in which their art critic Jonathan Jones opines that the late Terry Pratchett wrote “trash” while the equally late Günter Grass was a “true titan of the novel,” so why is everyone more sad about the passing of Sir Terry? The dumbness of this point–let’s start with the fact that more people love Pratchett’s books more than people love Grass’s–is exacerbated by the fact that Jones admits, nay, crows, that he’s never read a word of Pratchett and doesn’t intend to.

I have only read about half a dozen of Pratchett’s books and none of Grass’s, so I have no opinion of their comparative merits. (That didn’t stop Jones but I haven’t passed judgment on a book I haven’t read since that time I put Red Shift on a syllabus but never got around to reading it before the class began. I was younger then.) But his argument is straw-man specious–as far as I can tell, the only person comparing Pratchett to Grass is Jones.

He is right, though, that critical discourse is now both puffed-up and flattened. I blame the internet, although God knows even The Horn Book has tossed around words like “brilliant” and “ground-breaking” for books that are in hindsight “smart” and “different from those other books we’ve been seeing lately.” But not only has the internet brought together readers, critics, creators, fans, and publicists in what can be an orgy of self-serving hyperbole, it has leveled distinctions between high, middlebrow, and disposable culture, with TV episodes, for example, dissected with the same assiduousness as, well, the works of Pratchett or Grass. It makes me think of Anne Lamott writing in Bird by Bird about her brief but over-reaching career as a restaurant reviewer, where one of her friends had to remind her gently that “Annie, it’s just a bit of cake.”

It is a peculiarity of books for youth–along with speculative fiction and romance novels–that its devotees frequently feel burdened by the genre’s putatively second-class status of not being “real literature.” The defensiveness is certainly warranted–witness critics like Jonathan Jones!–but it can also lead to claims of greatness than only resound in the choir loft. If I were to write “Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching books are awfully good children’s books” (talk about clickbait) I would inevitably be scolded for putting limits on their goodness. But can’t it be enough that something be an awfully good children’s book without claiming it stands among the titans of literature writ large?

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2. Diary of a Mad Brownie - an audiobook review

I can't republish certain reviews that have already appeared in print or elsewhere online, but I can point you to where you might find them.

The Enchanted Files: Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville. (Listening Library, 2015)
Suggested for ages 8-12.  298 minutes.

http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/102097/

Diary of a Mad Brownie is the first book in Bruce Coville's new series, The Enchanted Files.  I listened to the audio book, and I can tell you that it was the most fun I've had listening in a long time. And it's read by a full cast!

Read my review here: http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/102097/


Note:
My copy of the book was supplied by AudioFile Magazine.

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3. 6 Authors + 5 Books = 1 Great Evening of Readings and Book Signings…


It’s been a busy summer of new releases from Mirror World Publishing, so they’re throwing a multi-author book launch event to celebrate! If you’re in the area or able, please come out and meet the authors of five new books. Here are the details:

When: September 3rd, 2015
Where: Artspeak Gallery, 1942 Wyandotte East, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Time: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The Authors:

Sharon Ledwith - Legend of the Timekeepers
Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred - Unintended
Rita Monette - The Legend of Ghost Dog Island
Elizabeth J. M. Walker - She Dreamed of Dragons
Nate Friedman - The Coffee Monster

From children's to middle grade, young adult and adult, Mirror World Publishing is launching creative fiction novels in every age category! Come out and hear the authors read from their new releases, pick up a signed copy, and stick around for your chance to win free books! Plus there’s going to be cupcakes and coffee on tap from local vendors. Yum!

BTW – Rita Monette is the special guest star, as she'll be coming in from Tennessee! So don't miss this opportunity to meet her and get your signed copy of The Legend of Ghost Dog Island! Hope to see you there! Cheers!

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4. Baba Yaga's Assistant by Marika McCoola, illustrated by Emily Carroll, 136 pp, RL 4

Baba Yaga's Assistant is the superlative new graphic novel written by Marika McCoola and illustrated by Emily Carroll, who brought us the eerily wonderful graphic Through the Woods. I am a HUGE fan of fairy tales (my secret dream is to get a PhD in fairy tales and write a killer dissertation...) and always excited to see a story that features one of the lesser known (to Americans) characters

0 Comments on Baba Yaga's Assistant by Marika McCoola, illustrated by Emily Carroll, 136 pp, RL 4 as of 8/28/2015 5:03:00 AM
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5. Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk, by M. M. Allen | Dedicated Review

Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk, written by M.M. Allen, is a fantastical novel filled with some mystery and a touch of magic. It deals primarily with loss and healing.

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6. Book Blog Tour: Unintended by Justine Alley Dowsett & Murandy Damodred...


Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for

Unintended by Justine Alley Dowsett & Murandy Damodred


About Unintended:

Four people. Four very different lives. Four tales interwoven.

Meet Kenzie enShareed, the High Clan Chief’s daughter who is sent south to fulfill a treaty by marriage only to marry the wrong man; KadreanAuthier, the Crown Prince who must come to terms with his new bride, even if he doesn’t much like the idea; GarronD’Arbonne, a noble Lord who has been commanded to marry a cool and aloof princess he doesn’t love; and Vivianne Chappelle, a young and ambitious woman who is in love with her abusive father’s manservant and must find a way to avoid having her entire future decided for her.

Fate and wills collide in this Shakespearian-style romantic comedy about good intentions and their unintentional consequences.

Book Details:

Title: Unintended

Author Name:  Justine Alley Dowsett and MurandyDamodred

Genre(s): Fantasy Romance, Romantic Comedy

Tags: Fantasy, romance, comedy, Shakespearian-style, romantic comedy.

Length: Approx. 440 pages

E-book:  978-1-987976-08-3
Paperback:  978-1-987976-07-6

Release Date: August 17, 2015

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing 
http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/

Tour Host: Sapphyria's Book Promotions 

Purchase Links:

Amazon ~ 



Mirror World Publishing ~ 



Follow the Tour to Read Reviews, Guest Posts, and Spotlights:


Meet the Authors:


MurandyDamodred (left) & Justine Alley Dowsett (right):

With a background in Drama and Communications from the University of Windsor, MurandyDamodred (left) enjoys fantasy fiction with strong romantic subplots. She is an avid roleplayer and is happiest when living vicariously through her characters. Though she’d rather think of herself as the heroine of her next novel, in the real world she is an expert in sales and management living in Windsor, Ontario.

From obtaining a BA in Drama at the University of Windsor to becoming an entrepreneur in video game production and later, publishing, Justine Alley Dowsett’s unswerving ambition has always led her to pursue her dreams. Today she lives in Windsor, Ontario and is still writing and publishing fiction novels. When not focusing on growing her business, she enjoys role-playing with friends and developing new ideas to write about.

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7. Mechanica: Review

There is something so frustrating about a story that is so close to being satisfactory but doesn’t quite make it. Mechanica is a perfectly serviceable retelling, I imagine, but doesn’t have the emotional substance to make an impact. When I read a book I want to be swept away to another world, brought far from my own experiences, and caught up in the emotions of the characters. I don’t want “serviceable.” Now, I haven’t read Cinder, but from what I could tell this really isn’t very similar. Whereas Cinder is a futuristic dystopian-ish (I think?), Mechanica has much more of a traditional fairy tale feel. Think: 18th century but with magic, fae, and some adorable steampunk creatures. Also, that book has a significant focus on the romance aspect of the story. This one…doesn’t (but more on that later). I actually really enjoyed the first 20% or so of the book... Read more »

The post Mechanica: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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8. Audio Review: Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I am not big on audio books, and prior to Hunting Ground, I could count the number I’ve listened to on one hand.  I had a long solo drive to a horse show, though, and thought that listening to a book would keep me alert and less stressed during the drive.  I picked this book because I loved Cry Wolf, but I haven’t had time to read any further in the Alpha and Omega series.  At first I was a little hesitant as I pulled out of the driveway and started my journey, but MY.GOODNESS!  I didn’t want the drive to end, I was that engaged in the story!

The narrator, Holter Graham, was incredible.  The different voices he used for different characters were spot on, and now I can’t imagine that they would sound otherwise.  He varied the cadence of the words depending on the pacing of the particular scene, and wow, I was so caught up in the story that I can’t imagine reading it instead of listening to it now.  The story translated well to audio; it’s fast-paced, exciting, and there’s a lot of action that is read with a staccato of sounds.  It was like listening to a long, intricate song, with changes in reading tempo and crescendos of action.  I loved the narration, and I’m so glad I picked it for my first foray into Scribd’s audiobook library.

The story, for me, is all about Charles and Anna, and their blossoming relationship.  They are sent to a meeting in Bran’s place, to discuss the Marrok’s plan to let the world know about the existence of werewolves with some of the foreign alphas.  Charles fears that something bad will happen to Bran, so he and his father had been fighting about Bran’s attendance.  Shy, quiet Anna forces the two to see reason, and soon, she and her new mate are headed to Seattle, Washington to meet with some of the biggest, baddest  werewolf leaders in the world.  As the snarling males circle each other, looking for weaknesses, Charles was right to be concerned.  There is a lot of animosity between the wolves, especially for Bran, and not all of the alphas are on board with coming out to the general public.  A gruesome murder doesn’t help, and Charles finds himself framed for a crime he didn’t commit.  Only Anna’s clear thinking and bravery helps root out the true villains.

The characters are what make this such a good series.  Anna is still suffering from her mistreatment with her previous pack, and Charles, his father’s enforcer, is feared by the other wolves.  Because he might be required to kill any one of them at any time, he also seeks to keeps himself emotionally distant.  Only with Anna does his wolf feel at peace. Anna is learning that being Omega doesn’t mean being a pushover.  She does not have to be submissive, she does not have to yield, and she has a strength she didn’t think herself capable of.  Anna’s mere presence in a pack brings it peace and a sense of calm.  While Charles’ job is to control the pack and protect the weaker members, Anna’s is to make everyone in the pack happy.

This was such a successful endeavor that I started listening to Moon Called, also by Patricia Briggs.  So far, it is also an engrossing listen; too bad I don’t have any long trips in the near future!

Grade:  B+

Review copy listened to on Scribd

About the book:

The first Alpha and Omega novel, Cry Wolf, unlocked the doors to a unique urban landscape in “a great…new werewolf series” (Darque Reviews). In Hunting Ground, #1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs invites readers to follow her even deeper into that seductive realm of the unknown…

Anna Latham didn’t know how complicated life could be until she became a werewolf. And until she was mated to Charles Cornick, the son—and enforcer—of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, she didn’t know how dangerous it could be, either…

Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran’s controversial proposition: that the wolves should finally reveal themselves to humans. But the most feared Alpha in Europe is dead set against the plan—and it seems like someone else might be, too. When Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic, the kind of power only werewolves should be able to draw on, Charles and Anna must combine their talents to hunt down whoever is behind it all—or risk losing everything…

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9. Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon, 247 pp., RL 3

Ursula Vernon is the author of the excellent, comic hybrid Dragonbreath series (Book 11 comes out January, 2016!) and the superb stand alone novel, Castle Hangnail. Vernon is a triple threat when it comes to kid's books. She is a great illustrator who makes creepy cute on every page. She is an imaginative author, always adding to the fantasy genre. And, best of all, she is a very funny

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10. Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If I Taught Fantasy 101...

From Becca's Shelves... Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke & The Bookish.  This week's topic is Top Ten Books That Would Be On My Syllabus If I Taught Fantasy 101. I figured this would be the perfect 101 for me to do, since I recently became obsessed with any and everything fantasy related. Below you will find my most beloved fantasy series (in no particular order, because that's way too

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11. Novella Review: The Great Bazaar & Brayan’s Gold by Peter V Brett

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I had fond memories of The Warded Man when I saw this novella.  It was one of the first fantasy galleys that I ever received, and I was looking for a fix while I was waiting (forever!) for the next installment of GRRM’s Song of Ice and Fire.  I gobbled up The Warded Man, finding it innovative, engaging, and oh-so-hard to put down.  Then I held off on reading The Desert Spear because I was still stinging over the wait for GRRM’s book, and I decided at that time to not read series until most of the books were released.  Lately I have broken that rule, but I’m not as anal about finishing what I started as I used to be.  Now, if it crosses my path, and I have the time to read it, I will, regardless of where it is in the longer series. The only series I won’t break the rule for is Song of Ice and Fire; they are just too long, the waits are interminable, and I can’t remember what happened from book to book.

I enjoyed Brayan’s Gold the best of the stories in this collection, and thought it a good representation of the longer series. Arlen is reckless and refuses to be cowed by the demons that rise from the Core at dusk every evening, searching for prey to tear to shreds. I love the concept of this series: being outside after dark is almost a certain death sentence, unless you are protected by magic wards. Arlen is a gifted warder, and he won’t live locked behind walls when there’s a whole wide world to see and try to take back from the corelings. Brayan’s Gold showcases his ability to think on his feet and not be ruled by his fears, though this almost costs him his life on several occasions.

The rest of the content, while entertaining, didn’t entrance me like Brayan’s Gold. If you haven’t started reading the Demon Cycle, this novella collection is a great place to start.  You’ll get an introduction to Arlen, as well as another major character in the series.

Grade:  B / B-

Review copy purchased provided by publisher

From the dangerous world of the Demon Cycle comes the early adventures of Arlen, Peter V. Brett’s quintessential fantasy hero. These exciting origin tales follow Arlen as he learns to navigate a world where the elemental forces of evil conjure themselves from the earth each night.

Humanity has barely survived a demonic onslaught by using magical wards that protect their cities and homes. Only a handful of mercenaries and explorers risk traveling after the sun sets. Arlen, seeking adventure and fortune, is barely protected by the warded armor upon which he has inscribed intricate defensive runes. From a journey ferrying a wagonload of dynamite to a mountain stronghold, to a dangerous mission to recover desert treasures, Arlen faces friends and enemies with a strong arm and a cunning wit.

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12. Release Day Extravaganza: Unintended by Justine Alley Dowsett & Murandy Damodred...


Welcome to the Release Day Extravaganza for

Unintended by Justine Alley Dowsett & Murandy Damodred


About Unintended:

Four people. Four very different lives. Four tales interwoven.

Meet Kenzie enShareed, the High Clan Chief’s daughter who is sent south to fulfill a treaty by marriage only to marry the wrong man; KadreanAuthier, the Crown Prince who must come to terms with his new bride, even if he doesn’t much like the idea; GarronD’Arbonne, a noble Lord who has been commanded to marry a cool and aloof princess he doesn’t love; and Vivianne Chappelle, a young and ambitious woman who is in love with her abusive father’s manservant and must find a way to avoid having her entire future decided for her.

Fate and wills collide in this Shakespearian-style romantic comedy about good intentions and their unintentional consequences.

Book Details:

Title: Unintended

Author Name:  Justine Alley Dowsett and MurandyDamodred

Genre(s): Fantasy Romance, Romantic Comedy

Tags: Fantasy, romance, comedy, Shakespearian-style, romantic comedy.

Length: Approx. 440 pages

E-book:  978-1-987976-08-3
Paperback:  978-1-987976-07-6

Release Date: August 17, 2015

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing 
http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/

Tour Host: Sapphyria's Book Promotions 

Purchase Links:

Amazon ~ 



Mirror World Publishing ~ 



Follow the Tour to Read Reviews, Guest Posts, and Spotlights:


Read an Excerpt:

The rolling hills and grasslands of Ismera were strange to her in the beginning. Now, after nearly a month of riding through them, they had begun to seem commonplace. What the High Clan Chief’s daughter was not prepared for, however, were the high turrets of the palace she was headed towards and the sprawling city of Ismer that surrounded it. Even more surprising than all that was the fanfare that greeted her when at last she reached the city’s high-walled gate.
A handsome man atop a white horse rode boldly out to greet her, without so much as a weapon drawn or a friend to watch his back.

They are much more trusting here of strangers than they are back at home, she noted. Unless, it’s only that they don’t consider me a stranger.

Mackenzie enShareed of Haldoram straightened her back, instinctively preparing herself to make a good impression. She felt her breath catch in her throat as he came closer and she realized that the man before her, with his sunny hair, tanned skin and bright blue eyes could be none other than the man she’d ridden all the way here to marry. She felt her usually flawlessly tanned skin flush an uncomfortable shade of red as she watched him dismount and walk the rest of the way to her side, a wide grin spreading across his face at the sight of her.

I didn’t expect him to be so handsome.  Kenzie found that as much as she might want to, she couldn’t deny the pounding of her heart or the fluttering in her stomach. I’m very fortunate to be attracted to him so easily.

If he took notice of her discomfort he didn’t show it, bowing over her hand and kissing it lightly. “Princess Mackenzie, let me be the first to welcome you to the City of Ismer.”

Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, Kenzie reached for the marriage bracelet she’d woven herself for this very occasion. Unhooking it carefully from her belt, she caught his hand before he could take it away and swiftly wrapped the small, white-flowered wreath about his wrist, tying it with a practiced motion.

She could see in her husband-to-be’s eyes that he was confused, but she didn’t have time to explain it to him now. That would come later, after they were entwined together in their marriage bed. Right now, only the ritual mattered.

I have to do this now, she affirmed silently. Once I enter this city of theirs and am completely surrounded by Ismeran culture and politics it will be too late to marry him in my own way, in front of my people and by our customs. It’s the only way I will feel comfortable with his arrangement. I can marry him in the Ismeran way afterwards.

The barest nod over her shoulder was enough to bring Seraphina over. Her mentor and friend had accompanied her this far and now she played her part of the wedding ceremony by bringing forth the wreath that Prince Kadrean would place upon her head, sealing their arrangement and making them man and wife.

Aging Seraphina bowed before the Prince, despite the aching old bones she always complained of, holding out the wreath before her in offering.

“Take it,” Seraphina urged him, her English much less accented than Kenzie knew her own to be. “You must place it upon her head and say the words.”

Looking as confused as ever, the Prince took the woven white flowers and did as instructed.
“What words, exactly?”

“I be bhuragusthu de agamsa,” Kenzie spoke in her native tongue, making sure to properly enunciate each syllable so he could follow along.

“I be burr…” he began, trying his hardest to stumble through the words that were foreign to him, “a Gus who de Gamsa.”

That’s good enough, I suppose…  Kenzie frowned, regarding him. Though I thought that being the heir to these lands, he would have some knowledge of Gaelic.

“You may call me Kenzie,” she told him, dismissing her negative thoughts with a smile, before leaning in to kiss him, as was customary.

Seraphina and the other clanspeople who’d made the journey with her began to cheer, but their cheers were cut short when her new husband pulled back from her in surprise. “Whoa! I don’t know what’s expected between two strangers in the North, but here in the South it’s customary to save that kind of greeting for your husband.”

“Yes?”

“Yes…” he agreed, searching her eyes as if to gauge how much of the language she understood, “so I have a fiancée and you have a Prince who’s waiting very anxiously to meet you up at the Palace.”

Kenzie suddenly felt ill and more than a little dizzy. “You are not Prince Kadrean…?” The golden-haired stranger she’d just married wore a look of concern mixed with confusion. “Then who are you?”

“Uh…” He cleared his throat, made a little uncomfortable by the stares of the clanspeople. “Lord GarronD’Arbonne…at your service, Your Highness.”

An uncomfortable silence fell over them and the clansfolk, but Kenzie couldn’t find it in her to break it or fill it with anything meaningful. Her entire focus was on keeping herself from hyperventilating.
I just married this GarronD’Arbonne… Not the Prince; not my intended. Kenzie was in full panic at the gravity of the error she had just committed. How can I fix this?! The marriage bond is forever, never able to be undone… A man can remarry, under certain circumstances, but can a woman? Would they even allow such a thing?

My father will be so disappointed in me. He wanted this treaty between our lands to work. I’ve only just arrived and I’ve already ruined it. What am I going to do?!

“Well,” Garron cleared his throat again, “we should be going. I’m sure Prince Kadrean is eager to meet you.”

Gesturing forward, her husband held out his arm for her.

No, I mustn’t think of him that way, she admonished herself. He is my husband, but he’s right, I’m supposed to marry Prince Kadrean. There is a treaty; our marriage is law. It must happen…

Meet the Authors:


MurandyDamodred (left) & Justine Alley Dowsett (right):

With a background in Drama and Communications from the University of Windsor, MurandyDamodred (left) enjoys fantasy fiction with strong romantic subplots. She is an avid roleplayer and is happiest when living vicariously through her characters. Though she’d rather think of herself as the heroine of her next novel, in the real world she is an expert in sales and management living in Windsor, Ontario.

From obtaining a BA in Drama at the University of Windsor to becoming an entrepreneur in video game production and later, publishing, Justine Alley Dowsett’s unswerving ambition has always led her to pursue her dreams. Today she lives in Windsor, Ontario and is still writing and publishing fiction novels. When not focusing on growing her business, she enjoys role-playing with friends and developing new ideas to write about.

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13. Shadow Scale, by Rachel Hartman | Book Review

Fans of Rachel Hartman’s breath-taking imagination and startling humane characters, dragons or otherwise, will marvel and mourn as Seraphina’s journey—at least on the page—comes to an end.

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14. The Book Awards Kindle Winner July 2015

And the winner of The Book Awards top Kindle book for July 2015 is…

 

Kindle Winner July15

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15. Picturing fantasy

Funny, action-packed, thought-provoking (and sometimes all of the above), these three graphic novels and one…well, what do you call Brian Selznick’s books? take readers on fantastic adventures.

selznick_marvelsBrian Selznick defined his own format with The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck. He pushes the envelope even further in The Marvels. Black-and-white drawings (over four hundred pages’ worth) wordlessly tell the story of a storm, a shipwreck, and a rescue in a theater. In the text narrative that follows, a boy named Joseph runs away from boarding school to his uncle Albert’s house in London, a place that feels strangely from another time. Selznick is a unique and masterful storyteller, and his story-inside-a-story unfolds an emotional narrative that will leave readers marveling. (Scholastic, 10–12 years)

mccoola_baba yaga's assistantIn Marika McCoola’s Baba Yaga’s Assistant, Masha answers a help-wanted ad to become assistant to the mortar-and-pestle-riding, child-eating folkloric character. To win the position, she must creatively accomplish challenges set forth by Baba Yaga. Masha draws on lessons learned through her grandmother’s stories and her own inherited magical ability, uncovering her family’s complex connection to the witch along the way. Illustrator Emily Carroll‘s vividly colored digital art establishes setting and tone. Comprised of short chapters, this graphic novel shines in its pacing, harmony of image and text, and use of flashbacks to advance plot. (Candlewick, 12–14 years)

watson_princess decomposia and count spatulaWith her hypochondriac father taken to his bed, capable Princess Decomposia of the Underworld — star of Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula — is running the show…and running herself ragged. A baker named Count Spatula joins the castle staff, and his nourishing food and supportive demeanor help the princess get through her hectic days. When the king has him fired, the princess must decide whether to stand up to her father. Andi Watson’s unique and funny graphic novelpopulated by friendly creatures of the night — has a decidedly supernatural twist, but at its core is a relatable tale of self-actualization and blossoming romance. (Roaring Brook/First Second, 12–14 years)

stevenson_nimonaBallister Blackheart — ex-knight and current supervillain — is focused on the destruction of the Institute of Law Enforcement and Heroics. He also wouldn’t mind getting even with Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, a knight-school acquaintance who shot off Blackheart’s right arm. Just as Blackheart’s plans are coming to fruition, plucky young shapeshifter Nimona shows up on his doorstep claiming to be his new sidekick. Set in a medieval-type kingdom mixed with futuristic science, Noelle Stevenson’s webcomic-turned-graphic-novel Nimona entertainingly tweaks both the science-fiction and fantasy genres. Nimona herself is beautifully flawed and refreshingly unstereotypical. (HarperTeen, 11–15 years)

From the August 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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16. Legacy of Kings: Review

Well, it looks like I missed the hype bus for this one. Legacy of Kings failed to engage me at the start and, unfortunately, the slow pace and predictable plot kept me from engaging throughout. This is a sort of “retelling” of the story of a young Alexander the Great, but with some minor fantastical element, namely magic. It’s like “history, but magic is real!” Awesome, right? Except when the characters are dryly drawn, the plot is ridiculously convenient, and there is nary a fresh twist or turn to be seen. Clocking in at past 450 pages, this book could easily have done with a good bit of editing. There are seven POV characters, so if multi-POV makes you dizzy this is not going to be your thing. I normally love multi POV, but not here. The voices stretched so thin, and are so very repetitive. I feel like this... Read more »

The post Legacy of Kings: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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17. BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY // Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine

From Becs... I'm so incredibly stoked for this post today, ya'll! I absolutely ADORED Of Metal and Wishes last year, which is a Phantom of the Opera retelling that you need in your life ASAP! I'm so honored to be on the OF DREAMS AND RUST tour. I have my review letter for you guys today, AND a super cool giveaway!  ABOUT THE BOOK:    Of Dreams and Rust (Of Metal and Wishes #2) by

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18.


The Temple of Doubt

by Anne Boles Levy

Fifteen-year-old Hadara and her mother Lia are technically committing a sin when they collect plants and make medicines. The priests of the Temple of Doubt use magic to cure people under the power of their god Nihil; natural remedies are heresy. But magic doesn't always work, and the priests usually look the other way and ignore the illicit medicines.

Everything changes when two powerful Azwans visit Port Sapphire. The Azwans are Nihil's highest priests, or "navigators," and they come seeking a demon that fell from the sky. Hadara and Lia are forced to guide the expedition to find the demon, because of their knowledge of the swamps and the secretive race called Gek who live there. But the swamps are dangerous and the Gek hostile to outsiders. Add in an arrogant Azwan who thinks he can take what he wants, and the expedition may not make it out of the swamps alive.

In The Temple of Doubt, Anne Boles Levy has created a beautifully detailed world, complete with three separate races and cultures, and a well-developed and unique religion. The religion is an amazing thing: Levy has obviously put a lot of work into developing it, including scriptural quotes at the beginning of each chapter. As you would expect, faith is a theme explored in this book. Although their religion is based on doubt and ambiguity, it seems like the followers of Nihil are not allowed any doubt or ambiguity in their faith, and are expected to conform and obey in all things. There are hints that there is more to this religion than it appears, and I look forward to seeing where Levy goes with it.

Hadara is a great character that teens will appreciate. She's bright and curious and bold in a culture which frowns on those characteristics, especially in a young woman. Hadara's impulsiveness gets her in trouble, especially her inability to stop herself from speaking her mind. Hadara has trouble with faith; as bright and curious as she is, she can't help asking questions, or thinking that the things she has to learn are pointless. She knows the names of a thousand plants and animals, but she can't remember the name of a single one of Nihil's wives, or their faults.

The relationship that Hadara begins to develop with one of the soldiers is disconcerting, but I think it was intended to be. Any relationship that begins with a power imbalance is bound to be uncomfortable, particularly given the destruction caused by the soldiers. Hadara holds her own, but even she feels discomfort and confusion about the situation, even as she begins to develop genuine liking for the soldier, and he seems to genuinely like her. It's interesting as a developing friendship dealing with differences in culture as well as the power imbalance, however I never really felt enough chemistry between them to make anything more than friendship credible.

The pacing is a little uneven, and although there are several exciting scenes, overall this is a book that you read slowly and ponder. I actually enjoyed it more on the second read because I picked up on more detail and development on the second time around. This is the first book in a series, and so in part it sets up the rest of the series. It'll be interesting to see how it develops.

Who would like this book?

Teens who like richly developed worlds and strong female characters. This is a book that will appeal more to teens who like their fantasy slower-paced and thoughtful.

Diversity?

Hadara and her people have bronze skin, in contrast to the Feroxi soldiers accompanying the Azwans, who are described as being very fair. One of the Azwans has ebony skin, and is described as handsome.

Buy The Temple of Doubt from Amazon.com

FTC required disclosure

Review copy sent by the publisher to enable me to write this review. Anne Boles Levy is an online friend whom I've met several times in person. We've worked closely together on the Cybils Awards. However, I don't write biased reviews even for a friend. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. None of these things influenced my review.

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19. Edda: A Little Valkyrie’s First Day At School, by Adam Auerbach | Book Review

This book, wonderfully written and illustrated by Adam Auerbach, provides a fun and imaginative tale, with a uniquely voiced female character at its center.

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20. The Trap by Steve Arnston, 245 pp, RL 4

I am so excited to read and review The Trap, Steve Arnston's third book! I loved his debut, the creepily marvelous post-apocalyptic tale, The Wikkeling, with amazing illustrations by the superb Daniela J. Terrazzini. His second book, The Wrap-Up List, is a YA novel in which a sixteen-year-old chooses the things she wants to do in the week before her scheduled "departure" from a world

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21. Fairy Sewing Project

About a month ago I started a project, a sewing project. I decided to create my own costume for the World of Faeries Festival, something I've always wanted to do, but never felt I had the know how or guts to do.

I decided it was time to just "do it".

Although each step took several deep breaths, I am very happy to say I know how to use my machine well enough to sew without a manual, and I am way more confident in using the foot and speed. :) The costume is coming along too. It'll be interesting to see it all come together in the end.

When designing, and as I continue to create this costume, I keep asking myself "What would one of my fairies wear?". I want to personify one of my own creations. When do we ever get that opportunity!? It's way fun!!

Here are some progress shots. :)

Pockets!


Took apart a beautiful skirt to make my own "artist" apron. It will also allow for no cashbox.


A crown of course!


My parents bought me a beautiful costume for the ren faires this past Christmas. I decided to modify the chemise to make it longer and more like my fairies' design.


Apron on the chemise. The idea is to have a half bodice in the future, but for now this will do.
Also, HUGE shout out to my mom, who did all of the hemming and sewing for the apron!! 


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22. An Underwhelmed/Meh Letter To Public Enemies by Ann Aguirre...

From Becca PUBLIC ENEMIES Immortal Game #2 by Ann Aguirre Hardcover: 320 pages Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (August 4th, 2015) Language: English Goodreads | Amazon In Book 2 of the Immortal Game trilogy, Edie must learn the rules of the game . . . and then play better than anyone else.Through a Faustian bargain, Edie Kramer has been pulled into the dangerous world of the Immortal Game, where

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23. Micro Reviews: Demons, Race Horses, Assassins and Majors

And here’s another catch up post of long overdue mini reviews.

The Shadow Ellysium by Django Wexler

B / B+

This short novella served its purpose as a teaser to generate interest in the Shadow Campaigns series. I loaded The Thousand Names on my Kindle – now I just need time to read it!

 

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander

B / B+

This inspirational romance caught my eye because of the horse on the cover.  Maggie is dismayed when her father arranges her marriage to Cullen, an Irish immigrant.  She’s reluctant to marry a complete stranger, and an Irishman at that.  She’s also fearful that he’ll object to her training her mare to run in an upcoming race. 

I enjoyed the development of the romance, as well as the details of daily life on a farm in post Civil War Tennessee.  The author doesn’t shy away from describing the prejudices and terrible treatment of the Irish and African Americans.  At first I had a hard time with Maggie because her thoughts and views mirrored those of her neighbors, but as she got to know Cullen and the farm hands working for them, she began to finally see them as individuals deserving respect.  And the horsey bits were entertaining. 

 

 

Hit! by Deliah S Dawson

C-

This just did not work for me. I can’t help but think that a huge banking conglomerate would have a better solution for deadweight borrowers than having them assassinated, or forcing them to be assassins. Meh, I didn’t care for HIT.

Mad About the Major by Elizabeth Boyle

B

Fun read with a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off vibe. Lady Arabella escapes the suffocating confines of her father’s estate to grab a small taste of freedom before she’s forced to marry a stodgy old bachelor. Her father is furious with her because a handsome stranger made a spectacle of her at a ball, and now he’s adamant that she marry before she’s completely ruined. She runs into the rakish Kingsley, the stranger from the ball, after he almost runs her down with his carriage. Arabella convinces him to accompany her on her day of freedom, arguing that he owes her three favors for his behavior at the ball. What follows is an enjoyable romp through London, as Arabella and Kingsley fall for each other during their unusual adventures. I really enjoyed this.

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24. Michelle Knudsen: Other Words Than These - Building Your Fantasy Universe

Michelle Knudsen is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 40 books for young readers. She won the 2015 Sid Fleischman Award for Humor for her YA novel Evil Librarian, and she talked to us about world building.

She started with a definition: World building is the physical world and the cultural world your characters inhabit.

All kinds of novels require world building. Fantasy and speculative fiction have other kinds of requirements, because you can't pre-suppose knowledge on the part of your reader. "Nothing can be taken for granted. You need to tell your readers everything they need to know about the world in which it takes place."

"The world of your fantasy story is just as important as your characters are."

As a young reader, she loved the Xanth books by Piers Anthony. In this world, everyone was born with a magical talent—it could range from a tiny skill like projecting a color on a wall to the ability to transform people, animals, and plants into other things. "As a young reader, I wanted desperately to go there. Everything about the world was literally magical."

World building also helps readers believe the things that happen in your world. The belief in the viability of the plot if affected by the viability of the setting (an idea she learned from the poet Julie Larios). Here's a sampling of the craft tips she shared with us.

Effective world building requires consideration of these five interconnected areas:

  1. Physical environment
  2. Inhabitants
  3. Social structure
  4. History
  5. Beliefs
Physical environment: Patricia Wrede has a huge list of world-building questions (available online). A few of them: 
  • Are the laws of nature and physics the same in this world? 
  • How does magic fit in?
  • How do magic beasts fit in? 
  • Is it like an alternate earth? 
These elements affect the way your characters live, what they wear, and how they travel. 

Inhabitants: This includes main characters and all types of people and creatures who live in your world. 

Social structure: This includes governments, relationships between individuals, neighboring discussions, languages. Who makes the laws? Can they move about freely? 

History: The recent and long-term history of the world that may be relevant to your story. Michelle starts thinking about this once she knows her characters and what's going to happen, and she asks what happened in the past that might have made a character do something. It's possible that little of this history will appear in the story, but having the knowledge in the back of your head will enrich the story. 

Beliefs: These include religious and supernatural (and possibly magic). Some decisions in this section depend on decisions made in other areas. So, if a religious figure rules, you need to know what the beliefs are and what happens to people who don't believe. 

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25. A Legend is Reborn…

This month marks the re-release of the prequel to The Last Timekeepers series, Legend of the Timekeepers through my new publishers Mirror World Publishing! I found this story much harder to write because I was jolted out of my comfort zone of historical facts and into the fictitious civilization of Atlantis. Fantasy isn’t easy to write. You have to come up with a believable world to lure your readers in. And if you write something that doesn’t jive, you risk pulling your reader out of the world you’ve created and possibly out of your book. That said, I’m so grateful for the editorial crew I was gifted with on this book, and my hope is that you’ll appreciate and enjoy the journey we’ve all been through to make this book possible and believable.

Here’s the tagline and blurb from Legend of the Timekeepers:
         
There is no moving forward without first going back.

Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.

Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

When The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantisdebuted, I posted my Dedication and Acknowledgements from that book on my blog. So in keeping with this tradition, here is the Dedication and Acknowledgements from Legend of the Timekeepers:

Dedication:

For my mother, Peggy. You taught me to stand up for myself, and never forget my roots.

Acknowledgements:

I said it before and I’ll say it again: Life is a team effort, and nothing is done without the help and support of others. The following people are in some way connected to the fabric of this work, to which I am eternally grateful:

Thank you to the staff at Mirror World Publishing, Justine Alley Dowsett, Murandy Damodred, and Robert Dowsett who gave this book a second chance.Hugs to my rock-star editor Tricia Schwaab who pushed my creative buttons so far I thought I was going through the change of life all over again. Seriously, Tricia, you made me a better writer. And finally, high fives to my book cover artist Kelly Shorten, who knew exactly what I wanted on her very first attempt at designing my beautiful cover—you are truly gifted.

A special shout out goes to my Wenches of Words family, especially to my cohort, Sloane Taylor. You Wenches have made this past year a special one with your show of kindness, support, caring, solidarity, and teamwork. Love you gals! May your lives be blessed with many bestsellers!

And last but not least, a big sloppy thank you to my hubby, Mike. You put up with enough of my melt-downs and tantrums to clear away any bad karma left between us. Again you acted as my pillar, my post, and more often than not, my anchor. God bless.
  

Cheers, hugs, and happy time traveling!

     

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