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1. Coming in October! The Heroes of Olympus Book Five: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

riordan

 

Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen-all of them-and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood-the blood of Olympus-in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it might be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Grade Level: 5 – 9
Series: The Heroes of Olympus (Book 5)
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (October 7, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423146735
ISBN-13: 978-1423146735

Pre-order here!


0 Comments on Coming in October! The Heroes of Olympus Book Five: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan as of 8/29/2014 9:19:00 PM
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2. LOGO MAGIC



TRYING
TO PROMOTE YOUR BOOK?

ANY LUCK?
NO!


Then, allow me lend you my
Magic Wand.
 

 PS:
You'll need to supply the imagination yourself. 

I see so many of the same writers flashing the same book covers on Facebook,
Google+ and elsewhere. My DELETE button works overtime - I'll bet yours does too.

Then there are those that think reams of words are better.
Their covers are followed by mountains of text.

DELETE!


Wanna learn some MAGIC?
Wanna get attention for that book and cover?
Wanna halt that reflex delete?


The MAGIC WORD 
is 
"Snipping Tool"from Microsoft


Now you are ready to  
LINE UP, COPY, PASTE, RESIZE, JUGGLE AROUND, ADD
BACKGROUND, TEXT BOX, PAGE COLOR AND BORDERS.


All this magic gives you a JPEG that is awesome.
You can SNIP anything from anywhere on the web - the whole page,
a picture, or only the exact part you want to use.


Snipping Tool Magic
lets you present your books in different ways on different days.
TOGETHER - SEPARATELY - WITH TEXT or WITHOUT.

REMEMBER
One memorable LOGO is worth 10,000 chunks of text!






TRY "SNIPIT"

IT'S AWESOME!


******************
Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits
Manuscript Critiques
http://www.margotfinke.com 
*******************



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3. New Chapter of The Shadow Gate!!

New Chapter of The Shadow Gate with my illustration just published, you can read it for FREE @ https://storybird.com/chapters/the-shadow-gate/7/

0 Comments on New Chapter of The Shadow Gate!! as of 8/28/2014 2:37:00 PM
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4. A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd | Book Review

A Snicker of Magic, Natalie Lloyd’s sensational middle grade debut novel, begs to be read aloud and shared with an audience of dreamers.

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5. Review: Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I love this series so much that I preordered Sisters’ Fate as soon as I noticed it listed on Amazon.  Book 2, Star Cursed, ended on such a great cliffhanger, and I could hardly wait to see what happened next. The wait was agonizing.  There are times when I enjoy a series, but then I lose interest in the period between releases.  The Sisters’ Fate release date was close enough to when I finished Star Cursed that I didn’t forget about it.  Good thing, too, since I have the attention span of a small bug.

The narrative picks up right were it left off.  Maura has erased Cate right out of Finn’s memories, and now she’s nothing but a stranger to him.  What?  Wow!  What an awful thing for her to do!  I hated Maura!  She has one priority, and that’s herself!  She will do anything to earn praise from Inez, the new leader of the Sisterhood, even betray her sister.  And then not be one bit apologetic for her horrible actions.  No wonder Cate simmered with rage every time she had to interact with her sister.  I really wanted to see Cate kick her butt, but I know that wouldn’t have done anything to change Maura’s attitude. 

Cate is worried about how the Brotherhood will react now that Inez has reduced their leaders to mindless vegetables.  Will they start a second Terror, killing any woman or girl suspected of being a witch, without a second thought?  Inez’s agenda frightens Cate, so she attempts to establish ties with the Resistance.  She knows that she has to stop Inez and her followers somehow, but she realizes that she can’t do it alone.  Making an uneasy truce with Merriweather, who runs an illegal newspaper that reports on the actions of the Brotherhood without censorship, things finally start falling into place.  Then her temper gets the best of her, threatening everything she’s worked so hard to accomplish.

To up the stakes, Cate is not only fighting against those that would destroy all witches, there is also a fever raging through New London, and nobody seems to be doing anything about it.  Since it originated among the poorest citizens of the city, there’s not a whole lot of concern at first.  So what if a bunch of river rats die of the fever?  When the disease jumps to the wealthier occupants of the city, it’s the perfect opportunity to blame the witches for cursing the populace with the illness.  Once again, the witches become a convenient scapegoat to control the population through fear and intimidation.  The Brotherhood did awful things to anyone who got in their way, and then they orchestrated convincing cover stories for every heinous act the committed. They made powerful, frightening villains.

I thought Sisters’ Fate was a fitting end for the series.  All of the loose ends are tied up, and the conclusion is very satisfying.  I was even able to forgive Maura, at least a little bit.  The romance was well done, and while it ended with a Happy For Now, you know that everything will work out for Cate in the end. 

I highly recommend The Cahill Witch Chronicles.  There’s a sweet romance, action, and interesting world building.  It comes to a satisfying end with Sisters’ Fate, so if you like YA paranormal romance, give this series a try.

Grade:  B+ / A-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.

The post Review: Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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6. Aleister Crowley and Thelema

By Alyssa Bender


The twelfth of August marks the Feast of the Prophet and his Bride, a holiday that commemorates the marriage of Aleister Crowley and his first wife Rose Edith Crowley in the religion he created, Thelema. Born in 1875, Crowley traveled the world, living in Cambridge, Mexico, Cairo, China, America, Sicily, and Berlin. Here, using Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism as our trusted guide, we take a closer look at the man and his religion.

Photo of Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley, Golden Dawn. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1898 Alesiter Crowley was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn as Frater Perdurabo. The teachings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn were based upon an imaginative reworking of Hermetic writings further informed by nineteenth-century scholarship in Egyptology and anthropology. The order was structured around the symbolism of the kabbalah and organized into temples that were run on strictly hierarchical lines. Authority was vested in leading individuals, and initiates were given a rigorous and systematic training in the “rejected” knowledge of Western esotericism. They studied the symbolism of astrology, alchemy, and kabbalah; were instructed in geomantic and tarot divination; and learned the underpinnings of basic magical techniques.

Aleister Crowley as Magus, Liber ABA

Aleister Crowley as Magus, Liber ABA. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Crowley’s magical self, Perdurabo, was a part of his concept of selfhood. In his own words:

As a member of the Second Order [of the Golden Dawn], I wore a certain jewelled ornament of gold upon my heart. I arranged that when I had it on, I was to permit no thought, word or action, save such as pertained directly to my magical aspirations. When I took it off I was, on the contrary, to permit no such things; I was to be utterly uninitiate. It was like Jekyll and Hyde, but with the two personalities balanced and complete in themselves.

Photo of K2 expedition.

The base camp of 1902 expedition for K2. Aleister Crowley is in setted in the middle. By Jules Jacot Guillarmod. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1902, Aleister Crowley was a part of the team who made the second serious attempt to climb the world’s second highest summit, K2.

Frontpage from a published versions of Liber AL vel Legis

Frontpage from a published versions of Liber AL vel Legis. By Ordo Templi Orientis. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

In the spring of 1904, while on his honeymoon in Cairo, Egypt, he received a short prophetic text, which came to be known as Liber AL vel Legis or The Book of the Law. The book announces the doctrines of a new religion called Thelema, with Crowley—referred to in the book as “the prince-priest the Beast”—as its prophet.

The most important book of The Holy Books of Thelema, The Book of the Law is a channeled text that consists of 220 short verses divided into three chapters.

Aleister Crowley as Magus, Liber ABA

Aleister Crowley as Magus, Liber ABA. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The core doctrines of this new creed of Thelema were expressed in three short dictums: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” “Love is the law, love under will,” and “Every man and every woman is a star.”

Thelema Abbey, Cefalù, Sicily

Thelema Abbey in Cefalù, Sicily, by Frater Kybernetes. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Thelema Abbey was established in the small Italian town of Cefalù in the period between 1920 and 1923. It consisted of one large house occupied by a small number of Crowley’s disciples and mistress(es). Life at the Abbey was for the most part Crowley’s attempt to translate his magical and Thelemic ideas into social reality. For the participants, the regime of life involved a great deal of occult and sex-magic activity as well as experiments with various mind-and mood-altering substances, such as hashish, cocaine, heroin, and opium.

Alyssa Bender is a marketing coordinator in Academic/Trade marketing, working on religion and theology titles as well as Bibles. She has worked in OUP’s New York office since July 2011.

Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, edited by Henrik Bogdan and Martin P. Starr, is the first comprehensive examination of an understudied thinker and figure in the occult.

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The post Aleister Crowley and Thelema appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Cover Reveal: The Elementalists by C Sharp

 

I have a couple cover reveals this morning.  First up:  I read about The Elementalists last week, and the plot sounds intriguing.  Besides, anything with dragons gets a second look from me.  What do you think of the cover?

The Elementalists

C. Sharp

It is the hottest year on record for the fifth year in a row, and famine riots spread across much of Africa. Along the Gulf Coast, the hurricane season is one of the worst in memory. The latest in a string of 9.0 strength earthquakes has claimed two-hundred thousand lives in central China. Far below the earth’s crust, imprisoned in ancient slumber, the elemental powers of the land grow restless…

All seems normal in small town Virginia, where fifteen year old Chloe McClellan dreads the start of her sophomore year. Whip-smart, athletic and genuine, she’s also a bit of an angry loner who is totally unaware of her charms. Despite her plans to stay under the radar, Chloe becomes a target for the fiery queen of the It-girls in fifth period gym. She then draws instant notoriety when she’s struck by lightning after her first disastrous day of school. As if that weren’t bad enough, she soon comes to believe, that either she’s going insane, or her accident has unleashed a powerful and terrifying creature from the mythological world—triggering the final countdown to the world’s sixth great extinction level event.

Chloe finds some solace as she inexplicably wins the affections of an unlikely trio of male classmates: the earthy and gregarious captain of the football team, the flighty stoner with a secret, and an enigmatic transfer student who longs for the sea. All the while she struggles with the growing realization that “Dragons” exist, and she may be the only one who can stop them.

The Elementalists, book one of the Tipping Point Prophecy, follows Chloe and her group of friends, and enemies, as they struggle to save humanity by harnessing the power of the elements.

Author bio:

This is C. Sharp’s debut novel. He studied English Literature and Anthropology at Brown University and Mayan Archaeology at the Harvard Field School in Honduras. He works in film and commercial production. Chris now lives in Concord, MA with his wife and daughter.

Goodreads link:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22838892-the-elementalists

Sales widget:

https://ganxy.com/i/95879/c-sharp/the-elementalists-the-tipping-point-prophecy-book-one

eISBN:

9781626813113

Price:

$4.99

The post Cover Reveal: The Elementalists by C Sharp appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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8. Novella Review: Cursed (The Order of the Wolf) by Angela Addams

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I was in the mood for a quick read, so when I saw Cursed, it’s like it was calling my name.  All it took for me to start reading this were the following words: “Vengeance Dealer” and “Werewolf.”  Yeah, I was all over that!  I loved this short read – the pacing is blistering, the romance hot, and I loved the wolves.

I’m not going to lie, though.  It took a long time to like Darcy.  At first, she impressed me with her boldness and confidence.  Then I started thinking about what she was doing and I thought, “Damn, girl!  That is so not right!”  A Vengeance Dealer, Darcy’s clients engage her services to curse the men who have hurt them.  On the surface, that’s just great.  Girl power and all that.  But under closer examination, she’s not much better than the men she’s trying to teach a lesson to.  In fact, she’s worse.  She collects bodily fluids (semen, no less), casts a spell on it, and curses the guy to lust for her for the rest of his life.  She then promptly vanishes without a trace, reveling in the satisfaction of a job well done.  Ugh!

Not to worry, though, because Karma has a particularly nasty joke to play on Darcy.  After having the best sex of her life, she curses her latest victim.  Only to discover that he’s a werewolf.  Ho boy!!  Things can’t get any worse!  Or can they?  Werewolves have a gift for hunting, and they never forget a scent.  Darcy’s on the run for her life, with a very pissed off supernatural creature on her trail.  Her pathetic skills at witchery are no match for Raven and the rest of his pack, and Darcy is about to learn the error of her ways.

I am all about the pack.  I want to get to know each and every one of them.  I think Mayhem is my favorite, but that’s probably because he’s in charge.  Raven is a younger pack member, still coming into his powers, which can be tenuous when he’s emotionally charged.  The guys are members of a popular rock band, and while the idea is really cool, I wonder at the practicality.  How are they going to be guests on daytime talk shows or shoot music videos at the beach when they are confined to their wolf forms during the day?

Anyhoo, Cursed is the perfect read for a lazy afternoon.  It really is a fun read.  The hero is hot, the heroine is redeemed, and then she totally kicks ass.  Where is Book 2?  (It’s not out until October – boo!)

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Her biggest mistake comes with fangs…and a nose for tracking her down.

The Order of the Wolf, Book 1

Wherever there’s a lying, cheating scumbag who’s broken a woman’s heart, Vengeance Dealer Darcy Wells is there. So what if she isn’t the most skilled witch around? She’s only using one spell, which leaves the hapless male suffering tormenting lust for one woman. Her.

The beautiful part? This curse comes equipped with a blinding agent, allowing her a clean getaway. Unrequited lust, coming right up! As far as Darcy is concerned, it’s justice served. Her next target: Raven Glock, rock band bassist and drop-dead-gorgeous sex god.

When Raven lays eyes on the luscious Darcy, he gives her what he promises all the starry-eyed groupies who toss their panties at him—one unforgettable night in his bed. Sex with Darcy is so epic that he forgets his cardinal rule: to get her out before morning.

At the crack of sunrise, Darcy serves Raven a face full of cursed ash. But something goes horribly wrong…and she finds herself magically tethered to one pissed-off werewolf.

Worse, breaking the spell could cost her everything…maybe even her life.

Warning: Sexually explicit language, tattoos, piercings, and giant…um…feet. Wet panties are a given. Author assumes no responsibility for spontaneous ravishment of significant others, pool boys, or local pizza delivery personnel.

The post Novella Review: Cursed (The Order of the Wolf) by Angela Addams appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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9. Review: House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I admit it!  I wanted to read House of the Four Winds because of the cover.  I think it is absolutely breathtaking.  We all know the problem with judging a book by its cover, though.  Sometimes the story doesn’t live up to that gorgeous cover.  In this case, I’m glad I did pick it up.  While the pacing was occasionally frustrating, House of the Fours Winds was a gripping read none the less.

I can’t think of the last Mercedes Lackey novel that I’ve read.  It’s been years and years, so I was curious to see if I’d like her writing style now.  I don’t think I liked it way back when, but after reading this, I’m going to have to give her backlist another look. The storytelling reminded me of Diane Zahler, told to a slightly older audience.  While House of the Four Winds is an adult fantasy, I don’t think there is anything objectionable within the pages, making this a great candidate for a motivated younger reader looking for a challenge.  Clarice, the heroine, is 18, making her highly relatable to a teen reader, and I thought the writing skewed young.

The set up was a bit difficult to swallow.  Princess Clarice is the oldest of twelve daughters, and after her mother finally gives birth to a son, the girls are all informed that they must make their own way in the world.  Swansgaard, their tiny kingdom, would be ruined if the treasury had to provide for twelve dowries.  Instead, each girl will seek her fortune upon attaining the age of 18.  Clarice, gifted with a sword, has decided to become a swordmaster.  Unfortunately, she needs some practical experience if she expects to attract any students, so off she goes, seeking adventure.

Disguised as Clarence, she buys passage on a ship bound for the new world.  Once aboard the ship, she questions the wisdom of her decision.  The captain and the senior officers are cruel men, quick to punish the crew for any infraction.  The only solace is her friendship with the young navigator Dominick.  He is the opposite of the captain; good and kind, he is outraged by the treatment of the crew, but he is powerless to help them.  Until the day the men are pushed too far, and they take up arms against their leaders.  Before she knows it, Clarice finds herself caught up in the munity, even taking an active part when Dominick’s life is threatened.

So, yeah!  House of the Four Winds has a cross-dressing heroine, mutiny at sea, pirates, and magic.  The first 10% of the book dragged for me, and I was tempted to put it down.  I have so many books to read that a slow start almost guarantees a quick trip back to the TBR mountain.  By 15%, though, I couldn’t put it down.  The pacing slowed periodically, but I liked the characters so much that I didn’t mind getting to know them better.  Much of the book is character driven, with bursts of action and danger, and while I was expecting more action, I didn’t mind its absence.  The treacherous journey under the control of the evil sorceress more than made up for it,  and the end of the book was fraught with terrible challenges for the ever shrinking crew to deal with.

Another thing I enjoyed about the book – Clarice is a strong, intelligent heroine.  She saves Dominick far more often than he saves her, and I really enjoyed that.  Instead of waiting for her prince to find her, Clarice took control of whichever situation presented itself, and became her own prince.  That doesn’t happen nearly enough in the books I read.  Now I’m curious to see if her sisters are as confident and capable as Clarice, so I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Mercedes Lackey is the New York Times bestselling author of the Valdemar series and romantic fantasies like Beauty and the Werewolf and The Fairy Godmother. JAMES MALLORY and Lackey have collaborated on six novels. Now. these New York Times and USA Today bestselling collaborators bring romance to the fore with The House of Four Winds.

The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes.

Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain.
Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight. 

Full of swashbuckling adventure, buoyant magic, and irrepressible charm, The House of the Four Winds is a lighthearted fantasy romp by a pair of bestselling writers.

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10. #623 – Krabat & the Sorcerer’s Mill by Otfried Preussler (translated by Anthea Bell)

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Krabat and the Sorcerer’s Mill

written by Otfried Preussler

translated from German by Anthea Bell

The New York Review Children’s Collection     9/23/2014

978-1-59017-778-5

Age 9 to 13       258 pages

.

.“New Year’s has passed. Twelfth Night is almost here. Krabat, a fourteen-year-old beggar boy dressed up as one of the Three Kings, is travelling from village to village singing carols. One night he has a strange dream in which he is summoned by a faraway voice to go to a mysterious mill—and when he wakes he is irresistibly drawn there. At the mill he finds eleven other boys, all of them, like him, the apprentices of its Master, a powerful sorcerer, as Krabat soon discovers.

During the week the boys work ceaselessly grinding grain, but on Friday nights the Master initiates them into the mysteries of the ancient Art of Arts. One day, however, the sound of church bells and of a passing girl singing an Easter hymn penetrates the boys’ prison: At last they hatch a plan that will win them their freedom and put an end to the Master’s dark designs.”

Opening

“It was between New Year’s Day and Twelfth Night, and Krabat, who was fourteen at the time, had joined forces with two other Wendish beggar boys.”

The Story

Krabat has a strange dream he feels he must follow. The next day he slips away from the other two boys in his vagabond group and goes to the mill of the sorcerer. Krabat and eleven other boys work grinding grain for long days and nights. It is hard work and Krabat has a difficult time keeping up, until Tonda, the lead journeyman and Krabat’s new best friend, lightly touches Krabat while uttering a few words under his breath. Suddenly, Krabat can work as if he gained the strength of many men; the work is still laborious, yet Krabat can work with ease. Krabat has been with the mill almost one year when Tonda dies. Days later, Krabat, now three years older, becomes a full journeyman and a new boy replaces Tonda, sleeping in his bed and wearing his old clothes, just as Krabat had done one year earlier, though he did not know this until the new apprentice arrived that he slept in the bed and wore the clothes of the journeyman he replaced.

Year 2 is not much easier for Krabat. He thinks of Tonda regularly, who, in a dream, tells Krabat to trust Michal. Michal is similar to Tonda and helps Krabat when he needs help. The millwork is still long and hard, but he can easily get through it with the magic the Master teaches his little ravens in his Black School. Once a year, the boys mark each other with the sign of the Secret Brotherhood, pass under the yoke at the door, and take a blow to the check delivered by the Master, reaffirming their roles for another year.

Various Covers, pt. 1

Various Covers, pt. 1

Year 3 sees Krabat ready to leave the mill. He tries to leave three times and three times, he finds himself back in the mill. He runs to the east as far as he can run—but is still on the grounds of the mill. Krabat runs to the north—only to be at the mill. Krabat can escape but one way—death. Year three’s new apprentice is one of the friends Krabat left when called to the mill. The young boy recognizes the name Krabat, tells of having a friend by that name, but does not recognize Krabat who is now many years older than the boy is. Krabat takes his friend under his wing; much like Tonda had done for him.

Krabat cannot let go of the voice of a young singer from the village. Girls and journeymen of the Master’s mill tend to end in tragedy for at least the girl—including Tonda’s girl—and often the boy as well. Krabat knows this, yet still wants to meet this girl. She could become his savior, except no one has ever outwitted the Master. With the help of a couple of other journeymen, Krabat sets about a plan to gain not only his freedom, but also that of the other journeymen as well. This would mean the end of the mill, the end of magic, and the end of the Master. The Master has his own plan involving Krabat; an offer Krabat should find hard to resist yet does. Instead, Krabat places his life in the hands of the village girl. Can this girl pull off what no one before her could?

Various Covers, pt. 2

Various Covers, pt. 2

Review

I have never been disappointed by a New York Review Children’s Book and Krabat & the Sorcerer’s Mill is no exception. When originally written in 1971, winning many children’s book prizes, some of the German words were archaic and difficult, especially for American children. The translator replaced those words, never losing the story or its basic scheme of horror, love, and friendship between those held in bondage. It is easy to understand why Neil Gaiman calls Krabat & the Sorcerer’s Mill “one of his favorite books.”

After his dream, when Krabat is walking to the mill, each person he asks for directions or simply meets, tells him to stay far away from the mill. The villagers tell him dark, strange things occur at the mill; yet Krabat ventures on, compelled to find this it. For a beggar boy the mill must seem like Heaven. Krabat gets a warm bed and filling meals that do not scrimp on meat. No more singing for his supper and traveling on foot from village to village is indeed a blessing. But the work grinding grain from dusk to dawn is laborious and leaves Krabat exhausted. Then an older boy, Tonda, steps up to help Krabat. Krabat must keep Tonda’s help secret, as the Master would not be pleased his new apprentice received assistance.

Movie Posters

Movie Posters

The Master is unsympathetic, mysterious, and dangerous. He has secrets of his own. With only one eye, the Master seems to be able to see everything, regardless of where it might occur. Many times, he follows Krabat into town, showing up as a one-eyed raven, or a one-eyed horse, and even a one-eyed woman, all with a black patch over the useless eye—that he cannot disguise. Krabat sees these creatures but never makes the complete connection as to it being the Master.

Krabat & the Sorcerer’s Mill will delight kids who like adventures, mysteries, and magic. Though the Master deals in the black arts, there is nothing in the story that will scare anyone. At times, the writing feels long, and at times, it is long, yet never arduous or out of place. Preussler spins a tale so complete one wonders if such goings on really occurred in seventeenth-century Germany. Krabat & the Sorcerer’s Mill will keep kids entranced as they read this gothic tale of orphaned boys finding a home with a dangerous wizard. I enjoyed every word of this captivating story. Krabat & the Sorcerer’s Mill tends to be best for the advanced reader. Adults will also immensely enjoy this alluring tale.

KRABAT & THE SORCERER’S MILL. Text copyright © 1971 by Otfried Preussler. Copyright © 1981 by Thienemann Verlag. Translatation copyright © 1972 by Anthea Bell. Published in 2014 by the New York Review of Books.

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Purchase Krabat & the Sorcerer’s Mill at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryNew York Review of Booksat your favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Krabat & the Sorcerer’s Mill HERE.

Meet the author, Otfried Preussler, at his website:    http://www.preussler.de/

Meet the translator, Anthea Bell, bio wiki:    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthea_Bell

Find other classic children’s books at the New York Review Children’s Collection website:   http://www.nybooks.com/books/imprints/childrens/

New York Review Children’s Collection is an imprint of the New York Review of Books.   http://www.nybooks.com/

Originally published in 1972, under the title The Satanic Mill.

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Also by Otfried Preussler, (soon to be published by NYRB)

The Little Witch

The Little Witch

The Robber Hotzenplotz

The Robber Hotzenplotz

The Little Water Sprite

The Little Water Sprite

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also Translated by Anthea Bell

Pied Piper of Hamelin

Pied Piper of Hamelin

Inkheart (Inkheart Trilogy)

Inkheart (Inkheart Trilogy)

The Flying Classroom (Pushkin Children's Collection)  3/10/2015

The Flying Classroom (Pushkin Children’s Collection) 3/10/2015

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copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: Anthea Bell, children's book reviews, classic tale, journeyman, Krabat & the Sorcerer’s Mill, magic, middle grade book, New York Review of Books, Otfried Preussler, ravens, The New York Review Children’s Collection, wizards

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11. Review: The Magician King by Lev Grossman

9780434020805I think I loved this even more than The Magicians (which if you haven’t read beware spoilers ahead). The first half of The Magicians was like an adult Harry Potter and full of the wonder of discovering magic was real. The second half was an exploration of what happens to people who discover a new power. It was much darker, which I really liked, and you really got to know the negative sides of the books characters which is not something many books of this genre do.

The Magician King picks up where The Magicians ended. Quentin, Elliot, Janet and Julia are now the Kings and Queens of Fillory but Quentin is growing restless. He wants a purpose, a quest, an adventure and he will do anything to find or create one. Interspersed with Quentin’s story are flashbacks to Julia who went down a very different (and much darker) path to gain her magical knowledge. And as before there a dues to be paid for gaining this power.

Grossman again finely balances a story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, referencing other familiar stories, while slowly turning what seems to be an innocuous and manufactured quest into something far more important. We explore more of Fillory and the expanded universe and (much to some characters’ shock and horror) revisit Earth and the ‘real’ world. I also felt I reconnected to the characters after becoming detached from them after some of the questionable decisions they made in the first book.  Loose ends from the first book are also nicely tied up and the ending is both highly satisfying as a reader and nicely sets up the third and final book in the series.

This truly is a brilliant series and while I’m late to the party in discovering it I get the advantage of reading all three books in the trilogy close together with the final book, The Magician’s Land due out next month. And I will be reading that one straight away!

Buy the book here…

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12. Spotlight and Giveaway: Knight Avenged by Coreene Callahan

 

 

KNIGHT AVENGED
Circe of Seven, #2
Released July 15

Alone in a world on the brink of war…two unlikely allies will discover a love greater than time.

Exiled from her home, powerful oracle Cosmina Cordei holds the key to uniting those protecting mankind from evil. But just as she makes her way into the holy city to perform an ancient rite, the enemy closes in for the kill.

Drawn by a destiny he won’t accept…elite assassin, Henrik Lazar, detests the mystical curse handed down by his mother. But when the sorcery in his blood is activated and past pain comes back to haunt him, his new abilities come into play and he must learn to control them.

Rescued by Henrik in the heat of battle, Cosmina must decide whether to trust the assassin who loathes the goddess she serves or face certain death on her own. Forced into an untenable position, Henrik is left with a terrible choice—protect the magical Order he despises, or deny destiny and lose the woman he loves forever.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Avenged-Circle-Seven-2-ebook/dp/B008H5VWVG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398342253&sr=8-1&keywords=knight+avenged

So pick up your copy today. And if you haven’t had a chance, grab the first book in the series, Knight Awakened, too and settle in for a wild, magic-filled ride.

BOOK TRAILER: http://youtu.be/o_KdxrTIIlU

 

KNIGHT AWAKENED
Circe of Seven, #1

In AD 1331, warlord Vladimir Barbu seizes control of Transylvania. But in spite of his bloody triumph, his claim to the throne remains out of reach. The king of Hungary opposes his rule, the Transylvanian people despise his brutal ways, and the high priestess needed to crown him has vanished without a trace. But Barbu hasn’t come this far only to be thwarted by a woman. He unleashes his best hunters to track her down and bring her to him — dead or alive. For Xavian Ramir, killing is the only life he has ever known. Torn from his family when he was a child, he was trained from an early age to be an elite assassin. But now he longs for something more, vowing to start anew after one last job. The bounty on his target’s head is enough to set him up for good — if he can resist the long-dead conscience that stirs to life when he meets his beautiful mark. Afina Lazar never wanted to become high priestess, but the brutal murders of her beloved mother and sister leave her no choice. Now she is running for her life, desperate to protect the magical amulet entrusted to her care. But when Barbu’s assassin comes for her, she realizes her only chance of stopping the warlord’s rise to power is to convince this enigmatic — and handsome — hunter that she is more valuable alive than dead. Dramatic and fast-paced, Knight Awakened is a stirring love story between two people searching for a second chance in a magical world of assassins, warlords, unearthly beasts, and nonstop adventure.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Awakened-Circle-Coreene-Callahan/dp/1455885908/ref=la_B006NAHH48_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1349251261&sr=1-4

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As the only girl on all guys hockey teams from age six through her college years, Coreene Callahan knows a thing or two about tough guys and loves to write about them. Call it kismet. Call it payback after years of locker room talk and ice rink antics, but whatever you call it, the action better be heart stopping, the magic electric, and the story wicked, good fun.

After graduating with honors in psychology and working as an interior designer, she finally succumbed to her overactive imagination and returned to her first love: writing. And when she’s not writing, she’s dreaming of magical worlds full of dragon-shifters, elite assassins, and romance that’s too hot to handle. Callahan currently lives in Canada with her family and writing buddy, a fun-loving golden retriever.

Connect with Coreene:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

http://www.coreenecallahan.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coreene-Callahan/173981189346509

https://twitter.com/coreenecallahan

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5321960.Coreene_Callahan

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

A signed copy if Knight Avenged & some dragon swag

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Knight Avenged by Coreene Callahan appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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13. Crunchyroll Morning: Skip Beat!, Sailor Moon Crystal, and Arslan

I’ve kind of been in a funk the last few days, and  I’m not sure why.  I’m having a hard time finding a book that holds my interest for more than a few chapters, so I set my Kindle down this morning and spent some time playing with Crunchyroll.  If you haven’t heard of the site before, Crunchyroll bills itself as “the leading global video service for Japanese Anime and Asian media.”  They offer free streaming of anime and manga, as well as paid memberships for access to a larger library of titles with no advertising.  Everything I’m going to talk about today I viewed under their free offerings.

 

The Heroic Legend of Arslan Chapter 1 by   Yoshiki Tanaka and  Hiromu Arakawa (author of Fullmetal Alchemist)

About the series:

Someday, a boy will become a man, then in time, the man will become a king. Who is the true hero?! An unprecedented story of the struggle to succeed the throne has begun. Hiromu Arakawa, the creator of “Fullmetal Alchemist” illustrates the great historical fantasy novel in a never before seen style!

My thoughts:

Many years ago, I watched the anime of Arslan.  I loved it.  When I discovered that the anime was based on a series of Japanese novels (13 volumes and still on-going, I believe), and that there was a manga series, too, I kept hoping it would get licensed.  It didn’t, but Hiromu Arakawa reimagined Yoshiki Tanaka’s novels for Bessatsu Shonen magazine, and it did.   As FMA is one of my favorite series, I was excited to see Arslan on Crunchyroll. 

The first chapter introduces 11 year-old Prince Arslan.  He’s a kind-hearted boy, in direct contrast to his cold parents.  His father, King Andragoras, is a fierce warrior and his armies have never been defeated in battle.  When the warriors return victorious from recent skirmishes, Arslan saves some boys from an escaped warrior and gets dragged along on his dash to freedom.  The enemy warrior is also 11, but he couldn’t be different from Arslan.  Tough and a seasoned warrior, he refuses to submit to slavery.  As Arslan is dragged around  his city, he is given a different perspective of his enemies’ beliefs than he’s been taught, which leaves him wondering why his kingdom is at war with their neighbors. 

I enjoyed the pacing of the manga, and I liked Arslan.  We don’t get to learn much about him, except that he isn’t skilled in arms and that he is a kind, caring kid.  I love Arakawa’s art, and I would read this just to get a chance to enjoy her illustrations. 

Rating: B+

 

Skip*Beat! Episode 1

Ahahaha!  I love Skip*Beat!  I am so far behind in the manga, but I figure if I watch the anime up to where I left off, I can start reading again without forgetting too much.  I hope.  This is a very funny series about a normally meek, kind girl who completely loses her shit when she discovers that the boy she has loved since childhood thinks that she’s boring and ugly.  Sho, an idol who is just starting to hit the big time, has only been using Kyoko to pay his bills and clean up after him after they move to Tokyo.  Kyoko thought that Sho asked her to go with him because he cared for her, but NO!  All he ever saw her as was an unpaid maid.

Kyoko’s never-ending grudge is released from the locked boxes in her heart, and after she declares her intention to get revenge on Sho’s crappy treatment of her, he mocks her and tells her the only way a little commoner like her could ever get back at a big star like him is to become famous, too, so Kyoko, all guns blazing, decides that she will make it big in show biz, and she will be a bigger star than Sho.

I love this series because it’s funny, Kyoko goes from being a doormat to a butt-kicker, and Ren, Sho’s biggest rival, is hot.  I’m looking forward to watching all 25 episodes of Skip*Beat!, but I think the manga is still ongoing, so I have to catch up on my reading, too!

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal Episode 1

Ah, there is just something comforting about Sailor Moon.  This reboot of the series is fun, fast-paced, and vividly colorful.  I loved revisiting with Usagi and Luna, and I can’t believe the series is 20 years old.  I never get tired of Sailor Moon, regardless of format, and have enjoyed the manga (both Tokyopop’s awful presentation, and Kodansha’s much better packaged release), anime series, and live-action show.  Usagi is so easy to relate to.  She doesn’t want to do anything that’s hard – homework, studying, exercising, chores – and would rather spent her time eating, napping, and playing video games.  Who wouldn’t!  She’s also clumsy and hardly an athletic girl, so, while I fear that the fate of the world is resting on her shoulders, I know that Luna and Tuxedo Mask won’t let her completely screw up.  If you haven’t watched the show before, give it a try.  There is a reason Sailor Moon is still popular after more than two decades, and that’s because the storytelling is fun, and the characters are so likeable.

The post Crunchyroll Morning: Skip Beat!, Sailor Moon Crystal, and Arslan appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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14. Book Review: ‘Stolen Dreams’ by Christine Amsden (new adult fiction)


StolenDreams_med-193x300I can’t believe this is the last book in the Cassie Scot new adult paranormal mystery series! I really have enjoyed this series a lot.
If you’re new to the series, I advise you to pick up the books in order:
In this the final installment, talented author Christine Amsden brings the infamous Scot vs. Blackwood family feud to a close, but not without filling her story with enough intrigue, mystery, twists and surprises to keep you thinking about the characters for a long time.
And this is, really, the biggest draw in these stories, the characters, especially Cassie and Evan. Cassie has been such a likable protagonist throughout the series, smart and strong and opinionated, yet caring and warm-hearted. Evan –yes, arrogant, condescending and overprotective Evan — has also been the perfect hero. They were school sweethearts…until Evan’s father stole her powers from her and gave them to Evan, thus starting a conflict between them that brought them to the depths of despair, especially for Cassie.
There are many subplots in this book, but the main problem happens when Cassie’s father is killed and she and her family think that Evan’s dad is the one responsible. The primary storyline has to do with finding out if this is true or not and, if not, then who, in fact, is responsible.
There are many surprises in Stolen Dreams, and I enjoyed all of them. Fans of romance will especially enjoy the focus on Cassie and Evan’s relationship. I loved the ending. In sum, this was a wonderful series, and the author delivered a satisfying closure. I wonder what she will come up next? I’m certainly going to be on the lookout for her future books.
My review was previously published in Blogcritics Magazine. 

0 Comments on Book Review: ‘Stolen Dreams’ by Christine Amsden (new adult fiction) as of 6/29/2014 10:07:00 AM
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15. The Fruit of the Poet’s Tree

What with getting sick the week before last and zooming back and forth to appointments last week, I never found time to write about something I absolutely must chronicle. I mean, it was only one of the finest surprises of my entire life. As I’ve mentioned, I taught a six-week  poetry workshop to a group of our homeschooling friends. These were the same kids as my Journey North group; I had so much fun doing Mystery Class with them that my friend Erica (who generously hosts our meetings at her house and is a far better planner than I am) and I put our heads together and decided to start a Literature Club for this enthusiastic bunch of kids.

Our age range was wide: from a ten-year-old or two up to a number of teens, including one 18-year-old who arrived home from college midway through the session and asked, to my delight, if she could drop in. (Not Jane: her school gets out late and she missed the whole thing.)

Over the course of the six weeks, we discussed rhyme scheme and meter, many kinds of meter, and several kinds of figurative language. We had examples from lots of poets but each week (except the last) I chose one poet for close readings—someone wonderful whose work had example of the meter and/or tropes we were encountering that week. Yeats (you know I had to start with him), Frost, Hughes (Langston, not Ted), Dickinson, Blake.

We had ourselves a fantastic time. Most of our meetings ended with my giving the kid a few starter lines in a particular meter and having them form groups and finish up the poem. This was their favorite part of the class, and the group readings provided much merriment.

For our last session, I wrote a poem incorporating all their names, sorted by meter—a stanza each for our iambs, dactyls, and trochees (written in the appropriate meter), with some lines full of spondees for the single-syllable names. It ends with an appeal for an anapest: we had none in the group.

I was pretty excited about my little surprise, and they seemed to get a big kick out of it. But then they revealed they had a surprise for me: they’d all written poems to thank me for the class. They read them out loud and I was crying before the first poem was finished. These kids, they blew me away.

I sailed away with my good friends three,
Up and out to the Poet’s Tree,
There I wrote poems about sharks and dogs,
And giants galore who got smacked with fat logs
But we couldn’t have done all of this without you,
Yes Mrs. Peterson you’ve made that fact true.

—”The Poet’s Tree” by Peter H., age ten

(Peterson’s my married name, as I think most of you know.)

Couldn’t you just melt? Best thank-you gift I’ve ever been given, these poems. All the kids presented me with copies to keep, which I will forever.

Alliteration, synecdoche, and onomatopoeia,
Learned a ton,
Love you lots,
Until next time—see ya!

lines from “My dear Melissa Peterson” by Olivia L., age 13

photo (35)

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16. Seven Stories Up, by Laurel Snyder | Book Review

In Seven Stories Up, Laurel Snyder combines humor and friendship to spin a rich story of adventure, sprinkled with Snyder’s signature magic and mystery.

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17. Review: The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

When I learned that Diana Wynne Jones had passed away, I actually cried.  I have loved her books so much, for so long, and the thought of her wonderful being silenced depressed me.  She was writing brilliant tales brimming with magic long before Harry Potter arrived on the scene, and it’s frustrating that she never attainted the recognition she deserved.  I remember haunting used bookstores and libraries in search of her then out of print books.  At least today, the majority of them are readily available, and quite a few are offered in eBook format.  Win!

I was so excited when I received a review copy of The Islands of Chaldea.  But then I didn’t want to read it, because this is the last new book by her that I will ever have the pleasure of reading.  Completed by her sister, Ursula Jones, I couldn’t have hoped for better.  This is classic Diana Wynne Jones, and I loved every precious word of it.

Aileen is descended from a long line of Wise Women, powerful magic users on the island of Skarr.  Raised by her Aunt Beck after her mother’s death, the story begins with a failure.  Aileen has been confined for the night to seek her magic, but when things go awry, she realizes that she’s not going to receive her vision or her magic.  Feeling like a complete failure, she frets about her lack of powers.  Her no-nonsense Aunt Beck reassures her; sometimes, it takes more than once to receive the gift of magic.

Shortly after, they are both summoned by the king.  The High King insists that they set off on a journey to free his son from Logra, the kingdom that stole him away years ago, and without much choice, off they go.  Beck and Aileen are joined by Ogo, a village boy, and Ivar, an arrogant young prince.  According to prophecy, they must gather people from the other islands of Chaldea to bring down the barrier that separates Logra from the rest of islands.  The barrier has disrupted trade and has everyone worried about what exactly the Lograns are doing on the other side of it.  Are they building an army? Preparing for war?

I love DWJ’s writing so much because her protagonists are so relatable.  Aileen is no exception.  She feels like a failure because she didn’t have her vision, and frets that she might not have any magic.  She is lacking in confidence, though as the journey proceeds, and she is forced to make decisions for the little group, her self-esteem begins to build.  Each challenge gives her another reason to believe in herself, so by the end of the book, she is more than ready to face the villain.  Though she is still terrified of being overmatched, she’s more than ready to give her all to the confrontation, and with everyone’s life at stake, she finds the resolve to stand strong.  It doesn’t hurt that she finds assistance from an unexpected, and very powerful, source.

The other thing I enjoy about DWJ’s books is how magic just is.   There’s no big build up or lengthy explanation for it, but it’s everywhere.  The magic is so natural and such a fundamental part of her stories that I wonder why there isn’t any in ours.  Seriously!  Invisible cats?  Magical songs?  Why don’t they exist in our world?

The Islands of Chaldea is highly recommended for old fans of Diana Wynne Jones, as well as new.  This MG read will appeal to readers of all ages.

Grade:  A-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

The Islands of Chaldea is a new novel of magic and adventure by the renowned fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones, who left behind many acclaimed and beloved books upon her death in 2011, including the internationally bestselling Howl’s Moving Castle and the Chrestomanci books. The Islands of Chaldea was completed by Diana Wynne Jones’s sister Ursula Jones, an acclaimed novelist and actress.

Aileen comes from a long line of magic makers, and her Aunt Beck is the most powerful magician on Skarr. But even though she is old enough, Aileen’s magic has yet to reveal itself. When Aileen is sent over the sea on a mission for the King, she worries that she’ll be useless and in the way. A powerful (but mostly invisible) cat changes all of that—and with every obstacle Aileen faces, she becomes stronger and more confident and her magic blooms. This stand-alone novel is a perfect introduction to the novels of the beloved Diana Wynne Jones.

The post Review: The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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18. #553 – Magical Animals by Ian White & Gastón Hauviller

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Magical Animals

by Ian White & Gastón Hauviller, illustrator

Laredo Publishing     2014

Magical Animals

by Ian White & Gastón Hauviller

Age 4 to 8       32 pages

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“Leo is bored, wishing there was more magic in life. He gets big surprise when a mysterious wizard appears and sweeps him away on an incredible whirlwind tour of the animal kingdom!”

Opening

“Leo was sitting so bored and so blue.

He couldn’t play Wizards as he loved to do.

His mother had told him ‘Magic’s not real!’

Imagine how miserable that made him feel.

Now he was grumbling, downcast, and glum, /

“A world without magic is simply no fun!’”

The Story

Leo could not play the game he loved, one filled with magic, so he sat feeling grumpy instead of doing something else. Soon a wizard arrives and takes Leo on a tour of magic in his own backyard. They start by watching a humming bird hover by a flower as it drinks a flower’s nectar. The Wizard tells Leo the hummingbird’s ability to hover is magical. Next they go to the beach were baby turtles are hatching and immediately walking toward the ocean. No one tells these turtles what to do, they move on an innate instinct the Wizard calls magical. The two continue on to different animals and the “magical” abilities each possess, with the Wizard proclaiming, (or a variation thereof),

“It’s magic, true magic, hard to explain!”

After watching a chameleon change its color, a squirrel find nuts it squirreled away now under snow, and a mother penguin find her family among thousands of penguins, the Wizard returns Leo to his bedroom. He tells Leo magic does not always require wands or spells, but in life all around him, if only he will look.

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Review

Many things in the animal kingdom are amazing and sometimes unexplainable. The Wizard calls these things magic, or magical, when showing ten these creatures to Leo. It is hard not to agree that a newly hatched turtle immediately taking off in the direction of the sea, no matter the direction they face when hatched, is not magical. Or that the Monarch Butterfly makes it from Canada to Mexico each year without maps or GPS. There are many amazing abilities animals possess that we never consider magic, but maybe we should. How else to explain that an octopus can squeeze into astronomically small spaces or that a  mountain goat can prance about a steep rock and  not fall, thanks to “magical hooves” that stick so well.

The illustrations, softened by subtle dots that run through the paper, have muted color in Leo’s room, where he is glum about not playing his Wizard game. An actual Wizard brings more color with him and each setting, whether the ocean or the glaciers, the illustrations depict very realistic worlds.

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The Wizard spins a great tale for young Leo, who comes away feeling much less glum for not being able to play a game of “magic.” The author’s plausible message, that there is magic all around us, is a good message for kids and adults. The story is simple; a Wizard takes a boy on a magical trip around the world to watch select animals. It is hard to resist believing the Wizard’s message too young Leo. We all know some intriguing animals are on this earth and they can do some pretty amazing things, some without a bit of direction or advice. That is possibly magical.

Kids will love this story and after will have a new understanding of their world. I’m sure they will look at their surroundings with a new perspective and see magic where it had not been just minutes before. If we look closely at the world around us on our daily commutes, we may be surprised at what we see. Magical Animals is Ian White’s debut children’s book, and  very good beginning to a new career.

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MAGICAL ANIMALS. Text copyright © 2014 by Ian White. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Gastón Hauviller. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Laredo Publishing,

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Learn more about Magical Animals HERE.

Buy Magical Animals at AmazonLaredo Publishingyour local bookstore.

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Meet that the author, Ian White, at this website:  http://magicalanimalschildrensbook.com/index.html

Meet the illustrator, Gastón Hauviller, at his website:  http://www.hauviller.com/

Find more books at the Laredo Publishing website:  http://laredopublishing.com/

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Also by Gastón Hauviller

I Do Not Want This On My Plate

I Do Not Want This On My Plate

an honest boy

An Honest Boy, Un hombre sincero

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reviewed HERE

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magical animals


Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: animals, children's book reviews, Gastón Hauviller, Ian White, imagination, Laredo Publishing, magic, world view

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19. The Magician’s Doll $25 Book Blast with M. L. Roble

About the Book

The Magician's Doll by M.L.Roble

Title: The Magician’s Doll | Author: M.L. Roble | Publication Date: February 2, 2013

Publisher: Independent | Pages: 320 | Recommended Ages: 10+

Summary

“They are stronger. They are coming. They will arrive!”

Life would be so much better for twelve-year-old Natalie if she and her mother weren’t different; other kids wouldn’t pick on her; she wouldn’t have to get into fights. She would have friends. But Natalie has abilities that set her apart, and despite her very best efforts to have a normal life, her developing “gift” has a way of upending them all. Then one day a big top circus rolls into town bringing with it Beausoleil the Magician, his daughter Louisa, and his mysterious doll. Strange things are afoot with Beausoleil’s arrival, and in his wake, an eerie storm is approaching. Soon Natalie discovers there is more to her world and the people around her than she knew, and that being different is just the tip of the iceberg… The Magician’s Doll sparks readers’ imaginations with a tale of magical discoveries, profound friendships, a fight against evil, and the growth that comes with facing your fears and accepting who you are.

Purchase the Book

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | The Book Bin

The Buzz

“The story of exceptional and gifted beings secretly living among us is timeless; this exhilarating book is an impressive treatment of that classic storyline. The writing is fast and clear, with a well-developed plot and perfect buildup of action and suspense.” ~ 5 Star Review, G. Wagner, Amazon

“This is perfect for kids of the middle grade age. It forces them to look at the way they treat each other and their differences. It makes them look at what true friendship is and what they would do in certain circumstances. I am sure this book was written to be a wonderful story, yet I find it is a great example of teaching kids something without them realizing they are learning I will definitely continue to recommend this book to parents and students.” ~ 5 Star Review, Sandra S., Amazon

“I am a eighth grader, and was told to read this book by a friend. I am a huge fan of fantasy and magic, and thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found it well thought through with colorful characters from a variety of backgrounds. The concepts and ideas are fresh and interesting, I especially enjoyed the idea of travel through maps, like Phillipe. I would DEFINITELY recommend this book to all my friends, and will do so as soon as possible.” ~ 5 Star Review, Eugenia, Amazon

About the Author: M.L. Roble

M.L. RobleM. L. Roble’s desire to write a children’s novel stems from the nostalgia of her own middle grade reading years where she first experienced books like “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Shattered Stone”. There have been different books and genres since, but those years fueled an enchantment for story that continues to this day.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Google+

* Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift card

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: April 11, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, M.L. Roble and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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20. The Good Little Devil and Other Tales by Pierre Gripari plus 7 ways to turn your (child’s) words and pictures into a book

Do you think there is an age at which you’ll stop reading aloud to your children?

Have you already reached that stage?

Why might you keep reading to an older child who can already read themselves?

These are some of the questions I’ve been contemplating as part of a discussion, initiated by Clara Vulliamy, about reading to big kids. I’ve also been thinking about books which I think work especially well as read-alouds to big kids, kids who can read perfectly well themselves.

the-good-little-devil The absurd, magical, funny collection of tales which make up The Good Little Devil and Other Tales by Pierre Gripari, with illustrations by Puig Rosado, translated by Sophie Lewis are curious and intriguing, and make for especially interesting read-alouds to “big” kids.

Adults in these fairy tales are often foolish and fooled, children save the day, taking everything in their stride, there is great humour, wit and cheekiness, as well as the occasional tinge of gruesomeness. Plot twists and turns which might leave my grown-up sensibilities unsatisfied perfectly resemble stories children will tell themselves, with little psychology, minimal internal reason, but plenty of pace. Talking potatoes, giants and shoes in love, witches hiding in cupboards – this book is full of off-beat, silly and enjoyable stories.

But one of the reasons why I think this book works particularly well as a read-aloud, as a shared experience with an adult, is that the book – translated from the French – is full of richness and new horizons that are easier to explore with someone else along for the ride. The book is set in Paris, and has a distinctly Gallic flavour (from the illustration featuring a naked female chest, to a helter skelter ride through French history, via a strong, albeit often tongue-in-cheek Roman Catholic presence), and whilst the wackiness of the tales will be enjoyed by older children reading alone, I think lots that could be missed on a solo reading might be fruitfully explored and doubly enjoyed with a grown-up around.

Each story in this collection has one or two drawings by the Spanish illustrator Puig Rosado

Each story in this collection has one or two drawings by the Spanish illustrator Puig Rosado

Perhaps this all sounds a bit worthy and educational, and that’s not at all what I’m aiming at. Rather, I’m thinking about to what extent books are enjoyed with or without (some) background knowledge. The language and style of writing in this book is perfect for say 9 year olds to read themselves, (and it clearly is enjoyed by lots of children, having been translated into 17 languages, with more than 1.5 million copies sold around the world) but my experience of it was that it was a book which became considerably enriched by sharing it.

Library Mice says: “The Good Little Devil and Other Tales is the one book I’d recommend to any child of any age, from any country.
Julia Eccleshare says: “Delightful trickery abounds in this collection of magical tales all of which are spiced with a sophisticated sense of humour and sharp wit.
The Independent says: “[For] Readers of all ages who appreciate a good story and a kooky sense of humour“.

A view down rue Broca. No. 69 is on the left, just after Les Delices des Broca. Image taken from Google street view.

A view down rue Broca. No. 69 is on the left, just after Les Delices de Broca. Image taken from Google street view.

One aspect that my kids and I particularly enjoyed about The Good Little Devil and Other Tales was the discovery Gripari wrote these stories with children: Gripari created them along with kids who would sit with him outside his favourite cafe in Rue Broca, Paris in the 1960s. As Gripari writes in his afterword:

The stories in the collection were. thus, not written by Monsieur Pierre alone. They were improvised by him in collaboration with his listeners – and whoever has not worked in this way may struggle to imagine all that the children could contribute, from solid ideas to poetic discoveries and even dramatic situations, often surprisingly bold ones.

My kids were so excited by the idea that kids just liked them had helped a “real author” write a “real book”. It was an inspirational moment for them, and with a glint in their eyes they were soon asking how they could turn their stories into books.

And so it was I started to investigate ways to turn M and J’s own words and pictures, stories and illustrations into books of their own. I soon realised that I was not only finding ways to support my kids desire to write, I was also discovering ways to store all those creations of theirs I can’t bear to part with, as well as objects that could be turned into unique Christmas or birthday presents for family members.

Here are 7 ways to turn your child’s words and pictures into a book. Some of these approaches could also be used by classes or creative writing/art groups, to create publications that could be used for fundraising projects.

1. The slip-in book

displaybookStationers and chemists sell a variety of display books that can be adapted for self publication. Choose the size you want and simply slip in your pictures and text! Photo albums often offer greater variety of binding, and come in many more sizes, so these are useful if you want to include documents which aren’t a standard size. Display books typically have either 20 or 40 pockets, giving you 40 or 80 pages in total. Depending on whether there is a separate pocket for a title page, you can use stickers to give your book a title.

Advantages: Very easy to produce, and cheap. Minimal printing required, and no typesetting needed! Older children can make these books themselves as all it requires is for them to slip the original into the binding.
Disadvantages: Only one copy of each book can be made this way (unless you photocopy the originals).
Cost: £ (Display books in my local stationers started at £2.50, and photo albums at £5 for larger ones)
Ideal for: Storage solutions, one-off books.

2. Comb bound

Comb_bind_examplesMany local stationers offer a cheap and quick option using comb binding. For this option you’ll need to prepare your images and texts so that they can be printed (normally at A4/letter size, not at smaller or nonstandard sizes), and this may involved scanning images and a certain amount of typesetting. Once you’ve prepared your document, binding can be very quick (a matter of minutes), and because you’ve prepared an electronic copy you can bind as many copies as you’d like. It’s possible to buy coil binders (£100-£300) and this might be an effective option for schools.

Advantages: Cheap and quick, good for multiple copies.
Disadvantages: Can look a bit “cheap” (I think slip in books look more appealing; they can look like real hard back books), can be a little flimsy.
Cost: £ (comb binding at my local stationers – Rymans, for UK folk – started at £3.49 for 25 sheets, going up to £7.49 for 450 sheets). Don’t forget you’ll have to include printing costs too.
Ideal for: short runs of books at a low price

3. Glue bound

Image Source:  University of Birmingham Bindery

Image Source: University of Birmingham Bindery

Is there a university near you? If so, they will often have a binding service, aimed at students with dissertations, but open to the public too. If you’re looking for something which looks a little more like a paperback than a comb bound book, a glue bound book might be for you. Again, you’ll need to prepare your text and images so they can be printed, but once you’ve done that, you can print and bind as many copies as you like.

Glue binding (sometimes known as Thermo binding) is quick (often a while-you-wait) service, and you can often get your pages printed and bound at A5 size rather than A4 (making the finished product look more like a “real” book).

Advantages: Finished book can look quite a lot like a “real” book, which is very satisfying!
Disadvantages: Glue binding is considered “temporary” and so isn’t ideal for books which are going to be read very many times. Glue binding won’t work if you’ve very few pages in your book; most binders I’ve spoken to recommend an absolute minimum of 24 sides (12 pages).
Cost: ££ (glue binding at my local university was £7.50 per book). Don’t forget you’ll have to include printing costs too.
Ideal for: When you want a cheapish option which looks like a real book. University binderies are also often able to give some advice on typesetting and layout, so if you’re not confident about your skills in those areas.

4. Self published via Amazon’s CreateSpace

createsapceCreateSpace is a fairly easy tool to use to create paperback books. It has an extremely clear step by step process you can follow. There’s quite a variety of formats, both in terms of size, black and white printing or full colour, or cream paper instead of white (the former being better if you want to be dyslexia friendly, though this option is only available for black and white printing). To make your life much easier, you can download templates with much of the formatting done for you (for example margins set up correctly) – I’d definitely recommend doing this, though it isn’t a requirement. Once you’ve downloaded the template you’ll fill it in with your child’s writing and images, just like you would in a word processing document.

Both my kids have used the template and typed straight into it (rather than writing by hand and then me typing up their words). Adding images works just like it does in a word document, the only thing I’ve found you need to be careful of is making sure your images are of a high enough resolution. When you/your child has finished their document (perhaps with multiple stories and images) you need to upload your work as a print-ready .pdf, .doc, .docx, or .rt. CreateSpace then checks everything is ok before you go on to design your book cover.

You can order M's first book by clicking on this photo!

You can order M’s first book by clicking on this photo!

Advantages: The CreateSpace step-by-step guide is thorough and pretty easy to use. The resulting books have definitely had the “wow” factor with my kids.
Disadvantages: For a whole variety of ethical reasons you might not want to deal with Amazon. Everything is done online so you may want to think about personal details. M has used a pen name, so her real name doesn’t appear online, and if you were publishing work by children in a school you might want to consider only using children’s first names, especially if the name of the school also appears on the book you create (this is less of a concern if you don’t make the book available for the public to buy).
Cost: ££ The cost to create the book is nil. The final purchase price depends partly on page number and the use of colour (the more pages, and the use of colour make books more expensive), and whether you want to sell book at cost or to make a profit. M’s book (64 pages, 6″x9″, full colour) has a public cost price of £6.24 (although price is actually set in $). although as the author M can order copies at about half that price (though there are then postage costs to pay).
Ideal for: Producing books which really look like paperback books. Great if you want family and friends to be able to buy their own copy. You can also choose to publish your book in Kindle format.

insidequeneldasfirstbook

5. Self published via Lulu

lulu-logoI’ve yet to use Lulu, but Juliet Clare Bell has a really useful post on using Lulu in school over on Picture Book Den. Having taken a quick look at Lulu it looks quite similar to CreateSpace, although you can do hard covers, and A5 and A4 sized books (CreateSpace mostly does standard US Trade sizes, and doesn’t offer hardbacks.)

6. Using the Scholastic We Are Writers scheme

we-are-writersThe Scholastic We Are Writers scheme is specifically designed with schools in mind. It costs nothing for the school to set up and publish, thought each final book costs £5.99 (though you can sell it for more if you wish to make a profit) subject to a minimum order quantity of 50 books. A nice feature is that the books come with an introduction written by a leading children’s author (although this isn’t personalised to your school)

Advantages: You can run We Are Writers as part of your Scholastic Book Fair to earn Scholastic Rewards for your school.
Disadvantages: Not ideal if you just want a few copies of the book you create. Although the cover is full colour, the interior of the book is black and white only, so not ideal if you wish to include artwork. Books must contain a minimum of 50 pages.
Cost: ££
Ideal for: Schools wanting to create books which are text based.

7. Book Creator for iPad

bookcreator200pxThe Book Creator App makes ‘fixed layout’ e-books and is apparently very easy for kids to use to create books with lots of images. I’ve not used it, but here’s a series of case studies where it has been used in the classroom, and it would seem families at home could also easily use this app (free for your 1st book, then up to $4.99 for unlimited use).

My thanks to @candyliongirl and @sue_cowley for helpful suggestions when exploring options for creating books.

Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of The Good Little Devil from the publishers.

3 Comments on The Good Little Devil and Other Tales by Pierre Gripari plus 7 ways to turn your (child’s) words and pictures into a book, last added: 3/24/2014
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21. A Rainbow of Birds by Janet Halfmann

rainbow

Papa Cardinal tells his chicks a story of how birds gave the world the rainbow in a story that has been passed down through generations.

A Rainbow of Birds by Janet Halfmann is a vibrant story of color that celebrates the tradition of storytelling. In this imaginative idea that capitalizes on legends and the ancient art of storytelling, children find a fanciful and fun story of how birds came together–sometimes after a squabble–to create the world’s first rainbow. In her trademark habit of educating and entertaining, Halfmann has included fun facts about rainbows, the magic of leprechauns, and rainbow activities and crafts.

Artist Jack Foster has truly outdone himself with the vibrant and occasionally zany characters depicted in this story. I always enjoy Foster’s work, but this book is so stunning it warrants special mention. Coupled with Halfmann’s delightful text, I could imagine and almost hear the story taking place through my office window.

Nature lovers, lovers of legends, and those who enjoy books where storytelling plays a role will want to snatch this one up right away.

Highly recommended!

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

 

Paperback: 20 pagesrainbow inside
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc; large type edition edition (February 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616334622
ISBN-13: 978-1616334628

 

I received a free digital copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.


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22. Magelica’s Voyage Book Blast with Louise Courey Nadeau (Giveaway)

About the Book

Magelica's Voyage by Louise Courey NadeauTitle: Magelica’s Voyage | Author: Louise Courey Nadeau | Publication Date: August 24, 2013 | Publisher: Kite Readers | Pages: 48 | Recommended Ages: 5 to 10

Summary: Who ever heard of a girl being hatched from an egg the colour of sapphires? Magelica doesn’t know where she came from or who she really is. But when she’s transported to the Isle of Dreams in a flying bathtub, she launches into an adventure of discovery, and learns that wonderful things can happen when she uses her imagination, believes, opens her heart and trusts in love. Come fly with her and discover for yourself the power of imagination,gratitude,believing in yourself, and love! In this special first voyage, fantasy, adventure, magical illustrations, empowering messages, and a wonderful cast of enchanting characters come together as Magelica takes young girls and the special people in their lives on a fun, inspiring voyage about making your life magical.

* Available in English / French / Spanish *

 

Purchase

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

 

Book Trailer

The Buzz

“Magelica’s Voyage is an inspiring, magical tale of a world that I did not want to leave. The author’s imagination takes off with vivid magical characters transformed into beautiful illustrations that your child will love. At the Isle Of Dreams anything is possible including Wally the wizard, the benevolent queen, Odin and even a Warblegrif. In the Festival Of Cheer the message is clear; just be yourself and let love be your guide. When you open this book you’ll instantly discover that magic is indeed in the air.” ~ 5 Star Review, StevieV, Amazon

“This is a wonderful, enchanting book! The story is so imaginative and the illustrations are beautiful! It is delightful to join Magelica on her adventure to the Isle of Dreams, and it is great to see such a positive, confident heroine. I highly recommend this book!” ~ 5 Star Review, Laurie J., Amazon

“Magelica is easy to love; a child who accepts herself as she is but who questions the very world around her, is someone many children will be able to relate to. Give this wonderful story a try- you won’t be sorry you did.” ~ 5 Star Review, Shelley V., Amazon

“Magelica’s Voyage by Louise Courey Nadeau is a beautifully written enchanting tale filled with alluring adventure. The story is magnificently illustrated, from the winsome depiction of Magelica to the creative Isle of Dreams, the authors gifted imagination is prevalent on every page. I found Magelica’s Voyage to be a charming story with a very special message for all. I highly recommend picking up a copy..” ~ 5 Star Review, Stacie T., Amazon

“I purchased the book in August and since then, my 2 kids request to read it for them every single time. I travel and I have to read it over FaceTime to them as they do not want to miss when their mom is unable….Same Timezone has helped. I recommend it to every kid between the age of 3 until 9 whether it is a girl or boy. The energy when reading it is indescribable. I bought 2 versions (the english and the spanish). Both are well made and I recommend it to every parent that cares about how their children should be raised! Great buy and thank you for the author.” ~ 5 Star Review, Hassan, Amazon

 

About the Author: Louise Courey Nadeau

Louise Courey Nadeau

Louise Courey Nadeau

A marketing and advertising executive, a tireless fundraiser for many charities, a painter, gardener and mother to two daughters and two sons, Louise’s passions keep growing. Sensing the need to do more for young children in our challenging world and inspired by life itself, Louise created MAGELICA, a young girl with fairy blood and her own questions about life. In the first book of Magelica’s Voyage trilogy, Louise takes our winged heroine along with her fun and wacky friends to new worlds of magic and adventure, where the reader discovers the magic of life and the power of love and how faith in the unknown can create confidence and a sense of empowerment . More than a decade in the making and with new stories underway, Louise and MAGELICA intend to spread their magical feathers and create a bond with children and their caregivers around the globe.

Book Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

* Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift cardAmazon 25 gift card

 

 

 

 

Prize: Two winners will each receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: May 2, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Louise Courey Nadeau and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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23. Review and Giveaway: Prince’s Fire by Amy Raby

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I have had an eye on Amy Raby’s  Hearts and Thrones series since the first book, Assassin’s Gambit, came out last year.  When I had the opportunity to hop on the review tour for book 3, Prince’s Fire, I jumped.  I really enjoyed this book, and it wasn’t a hindrance that I dove into the series three books in.  I never felt lost, and all of the characters were introduced in ways that didn’t leave me wondering about their relationships with each other.  As soon as I get a chance, I am going to read Archer’s Sin, a novella featuring two of my favorite characters from Prince’s Fire. 

 

Prince Rayn is visiting Kjall to work out a trade agreement.  He is expected to fail miserably by his political enemies back home in Inya, so he’s surprised when he’s offered the hand of the imperial princess to strengthen the ties between the two kingdoms.  Inya is a smaller nation comprised of thousands of islands.  Weak militarily, Inya does have something that Emperor Lucien desperately wants; brimstone.  With the means to produce gun powder, Lucien believes that he will have the weapons to deter more wars for his kingdom.  He wants nothing more than to live in peace, leaving the warlike traditions of his father, Florian, far in the past. 

Rayn is mistrustful of the offer, and he doesn’t want to trade the brimstone to the Kjallians.  He’s still holding a grudge against Lucien’s father for murdering his aunt, and he refuses to listen to his advisor when he’s counseled to accept the princess as his bride.  She’s the daughter of a murderous lunatic, so surely her sanity, as well as Lucien’s, isn’t to be trusted.  This turns out to be an ironic position for Rayn to hold, because his own father is suffering for mental issues that are having an adverse effect on his own nation. 

Rayn’s refusal to see beyond Celeste’s father’s behavior irritated me to no end.  After meeting her, his impression of her was that she was shy and intelligent, but he would not forgive her for her father’s actions.  Since she was a young girl when Florian was terrorizing the world, it wasn’t like she could have intervened on behalf of the nations he was destroying.  It took Rayn better than half of the book to forgive Celeste for something that she had no control of, and I found that frustrating.

Celeste is a very intelligent woman.  She’s also suffering from a low self-esteem, thanks again to being the daughter of the emperor.  Kidnapped by one of Florian’s rivals, she was forced to marry him, and suffered from his abuse until Lucien rescued her.  Celeste wants to do nothing other than study her beloved mathematics, but when her brother suggests the union with Rayn, she’s intrigued by the handsome prince.  She’s hurt that he can’t forgive her for her lineage, but so be it.  If he refuses her, she’ll continue work on her math treatise and mend her wounded heart with the comforting nature of mathematics.

When an attempt is made on their lives, they are thrown together in a struggle for survival.  Thrown off a ship in the middle of the sea, they manage to make it to shore with the help of their magic.  Rayn is a fire mage, and he keeps them warm in the frigid water with his powers, while Celeste is a mind mage, who can compel creatures, like the shark that takes them to land, to help them.  I thought their magic complimented each other, and while I didn’t completely understand all of the nuances of the magic system, I found it interesting and I would like to know more about it.

As the attempts on Rayn’s life continue, the other thing about him that I found annoying surfaced.  In Inya, bodyguards are a sign of a weak king, and they aren’t employed, while in Kjall, they are part of imperial life.  This reinforces his poor impression of both Celeste and Lucien.   Rayn refuses to have bodyguards, even though it’s obvious that somebody wants him dead.  This, to me, was just another example of Rayn’s immaturity.  Dude!  The Land Council has made no secret that they are out to enrich themselves, at the expense of both your people and your family, so you need to get over yourself and do whatever is necessary to protect your kingdom! Argh!  Some people are just slow learners!

Well, it’s a good thing Celeste was around to give Rayn a helping hand.  She is obviously going to be the brains of the relationship!  After uncovering the plot to end Rayn’s life, Celeste decisively moves to save Rayn’s life, despite his rejection of her.  She steals her brother’s ship with the help of his wife, Vitala, and off they go in a desperate attempt to save the prince’s life, and his kingdom, too.  I guess if Rayn had been a little quicker on the uptake, the novel would have only been half the length, so I will try to overlook his stubbornness and inability to think outside of the box.

These minor quibbles aside (victim blaming is such a hot button for me), Prince’s Fire is an enjoyable, sexy read.  I’m looking forward to reading more stories set in Amy Raby’s Hearts and Thrones series.

Grade:  B

 

Prince’s Fire

Hearts and Thrones #3

By: Amy Raby

Releasing April 1st, 2014

Blurb

The imperial princess has been offered in marriage to the Prince of Inya as part of an alliance needed to ensure Kjall’s military prowess. And despite having been hurt in the past by men using her to gain power, Celeste finds herself falling for the passionate fire mage.

Prince Rayn has no intention of allying his country with the militaristic Kjallans. But his political enemies at home may be the greater threat. The princess’s beauty and intelligence catch him off guard, throwing an unexpected and dangerous hurdle in the way of his plans.

As a deadly political plot threatens Rayn’s life, the attraction between Celeste and Rayn ignites into a sizzling affair. But to save her people and herself, Celeste will have to discover if Rayn’s intentions are true or risk having her love burn her yet again….

Link to Follow Tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2014/01/now-booking-tasty-review-tour-for_6800.html

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Princes-Fire-Hearts-Thrones-ebook/dp/B00F9EZCMI

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/princes-fire-amy-raby/1116934331?ean=9780451417848

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/princes-fire/id709600981?mt=11

Author Info

Amy Raby is literally a product of the U.S. space program, since her parents met working for NASA on the Apollo missions. After earning her Bachelor’s in Computer Science from the University of Washington, Amy settled in the Pacific Northwest with her family, where she’s always looking for life’s next adventure, whether it’s capsizing tiny sailboats in Lake Washington, training hunting dogs, or riding horses. Amy is a 2011 Golden Heart® finalist and a 2012 Daphne du Maurier winner.

Author Links

Website: http://amyraby.com/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/Amy.Raby.Author

Twitter: @amyraby

Excerpt

Celeste followed her older brother, Emperor Lucien of Kjall, down the sun-drenched pier at the docks of Riat. Shielding her eyes, she gazed at the Inyan ship Magefire which rode at double anchor in the harbor. It looked like an interloper among the heavy Kjallan warships. Its masts were higher, its lines sleeker, its hull paler in color.

Sailors and dock workers moved aside to clear a path for them. The emperor was an infrequent visitor to the docks. He moved at a brisk walk, limping almost imperceptibly on his wooden leg, his eager eyes fixed on the barrels rowed in earlier this morning.

Beside Celeste gamboled a large black and white dog, who darted longing glances at the ocean waves that lapped at the sides of the pier. And on all sides were the Legaciatti, their bodyguards and security staff.

“You’re going to love this,” said Lucien. “A stone that burns.”

Celeste smiled; she knew his real reason for dragging her out here. Celeste wasn’t naturally sociable except with a few trusted people. She had a tendency to lock herself with her work in her rooms, where the hours slipped by faster than she intended. Her brother interrupted her now and then, when he thought she needed sunshine and conversation.

The dock guards before the barrels stood straight and stiff, awed by the presence of the emperor. Lucien studied the label of the first barrel and signaled the nearest guard to open it. Celeste ran forward to see its contents revealed.

Inside was a bright yellow powder. Celeste scooped up a handful and let it sift through her fingers. “This isn’t stone.”

“It’s brimstone.” Lucien dug into the substance and cupped a handful of it, staring reverently as if it were powdered gold. “It’s been pulverized into this powder. Do you know where the Inyans gather it? Along the edge of a volcano.”

“What poor sod gets stuck with that job?” She had no personal experience with volcanoes, since there were none in Kjall, but everyone knew a volcano had destroyed the nation of Dori.

“A well-paid sod, I hope. But Inya’s volcanoes are more manageable than Dori’s. The Inyans have a system for controlling them. Ask the prince about it when you meet him.”

Celeste was trying not to think about the prince. He’d come in the Magefire to negotiate a trade agreement with Kjall and had brought the barrels of brimstone as a demonstration of good faith. What the prince didn’t know was that Lucien wanted more than a trade agreement. He wanted an alliance, and to secure it, he meant to offer Celeste’s hand in marriage. Celeste had never met the Inyan prince, and in a matter of months, he could be her husband.

Scooping up a double handful of brimstone, she asked, “Does it really burn?”

“Absolutely. Come and see.” Carrying his own handful, Lucien gestured her to follow. The black and white dog wagged its tail beseechingly, and he addressed it. “Oh, just get in the water, Patricus. Everyone knows you want to.”

With a joyous bark, the dog leapt off the pier and splashed into the ocean.

As they walked the length of the pier, passing by the staring dock workers, Celeste cradled the powdery treasure in the folds of her syrtos to shelter it from the breeze. At the end of the pier, they descended a wooden staircase to a sandy beach.

Lucien found an open space with nothing flammable around and, with the foot of his wooden leg, dug a crude hollow in the sand. “In there.”

Celeste poured her brimstone into the hollow, and Lucien added his. Though the brimstone had a consistency similar to the sand, it was a brighter yellow.

Lucien took Celeste’s hand and backed away from the hole, drawing her with him.

A bit of movement caught her eye—a dark shape appearing and disappearing among the white froth of the breakers. “Don’t light the brimstone yet. Patricus is coming.”

“I see him,” said Lucien.

Patricus burst from the waves and loped up the beach.

“He’s sopping wet,” said Lucien. “Shake it off, Patricus!”

The dog kept coming. His feet sank into the soft sand, but he pumped his legs and scrambled on, sending the sand flying out behind him.

“Shake it off!” Lucien commanded.

Patricus galloped to Lucien and shook, spraying sand and seawater all over him.

“Pox this animal.” Scowling, Lucien brushed sand off his imperial syrtos and turned to the Legaciatti, who were covering their faces to hide their grins. “Where were you? Some security detail.”

“We don’t interfere with the imperial dog, Emperor,” said one of the Legaciatti.

Lucien muttered to Celeste, “I don’t get half the respect Florian did.”

“They love you. Everyone does.” This was not true, of course. Lucien had numerous enemies. But Celeste felt that if those people truly knew Lucien, they would love him as much as she did.

Lucien grabbed Patricus by the scruff and gestured to the fire mage in his security detail. “Light the brimstone, Jasper.”

The fire mage waved his hand, and the yellow powder ignited.

Celeste gasped. The flame was blue. “Three gods, that can’t be right. It’s unnatural. Like a Vagabond fire.”

“It stinks like the Vagabond’s breath.” Lucien waved away the smoke.

Celeste got her first whiff of the fumes and choked. He was right; the burning brimstone smelled like something rotten. She backed away and so did Lucien, dragging Patricus with him.

Lucien beamed like a delighted schoolboy. “Have you ever seen the like?”

Holding her nose, Celeste shook her head.

“Only the gods could devise something so strange and wonderful. No wonder it’s needed for making the most important substance in the world.”

“Chocolate?” said Celeste.

Lucien gave her a look. “Gunpowder, as you well know. Put the fire out, Jasper.” When the fire was out, he released Patricus, who fell into step at his side, wagging his tail. He offered his arm to Celeste, and they headed to the carriage, followed by the Legaciatti.

“Where are the Inyans?” asked Celeste.

“Up at the palace,” said Lucien. “They’ve had a long sail. They need to rest, freshen up. So do we, I think, after that brimstone.”

“I wish you had told the prince in advance that you were going to offer him my hand.”

“And spoil the surprise?” Lucien grinned. “Trust me, it’s better he should see what he’s getting. If you can’t sell this alliance, no one can.”

Celeste shook her head. Lucien thought the world of her, but he was her brother and obviously biased. She was not as pretty as he suggested. “When will you make the proposal?” Her stomach knotted at the thought of seeing her potential marriage partner for the first time at a formal event, with everyone’s eyes on her. She’d heard a few things about the prince: that he was twenty-two years old, a good match to her own age of nineteen, and handsome. Those were points in his favor, but they were surface traits and told her little about whether she would be happy with the man. Or whether he would be happy with her.

“I don’t care for official presentations,” said Lucien. “The last one I attended turned into a fiasco. Instead I’ve arranged a small dinner party. You and me and Prince Rayn, plus a few officials to balance things out and keep the conversation flowing. What do you think?”

She let her breath out. “That sounds less intimidating.”

They had arrived at the imperial family coach, an imposing blue-and-gold conveyance which comfortably seated six and was drawn by a quartet of matched grays.

Lucien took her hand and squeezed it as he lifted her into the carriage. “Courage, sister. It will all work out.”

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24. A WORD FROM URSULA JONES

THE ISLANDS OF CHALDEA, a new, stand-alone novel of magic and adventure, is the last book from the beloved Diana Wynne Jones. Almost finished upon her death in 2011, the manuscript was completed by Diana’s sister Ursula Jones, a popular author and actress.

The Islands of Chaldea

Read on for some lovely thoughts from Ursula on growing up with such a talented storyteller for a sister and on the challenges of finishing her sister’s work . . .

Dear Readers,

When I first read this lovely, searching, last novel by my sister, Diana Wynne Jones, it stopped short where she became too ill to continue. It was a shock: it was like being woken from sleepwalking or nearly running off the edge of a cliff. It had elements of a much happier time in our childhood, too.

Diana wrote her first full-length novel when she was fourteen years old. It filled a series of exercise books, and she would read the newest section to us, her two younger sisters, in bed at night. When she suddenly stopped reading, we would wail, “Go on, go on. What happens next?” and she’d say, “Don’t you understand? I haven’t written any more yet.” And we would go to sleep, agog for the next section. It always duly turned up the next night, which is where the present day diverged so unhappily from our childhood past. This time, the next section couldn’t turn up. Her book had ended without an ending.

Diana Wynne Jones was such a masterly storyteller that it was impossible to imagine where she planned to take it. She left no notes: she never ever made any. Her books always came straight out of her extraordinary mind onto the page, and she never discussed her work while it was in progress. There was not so much as a hint of what she was up to, and it seemed The Islands of Chaldea was lost to its readers.

Then the family suggested that I might complete it. I was nervous. Diana was my big sister, and big sisters notoriously don’t like kid sisters messing with their stuff. Particularly when the big sister in question is very good at her stuff. Nevertheless, her family and friends had a meeting to pool their ideas on how the story might continue. We were all steeped in her work. We’d all known her well. Everyone was sure that, by the end of the afternoon, we would come up with something. We didn’t; she had us all stumped. Eventually, Diana’s son closed the session with, “Well, Ursula, you’ll just have to make it up.”

It took months. I scoured the text for those clues that Diana always dropped for her readers as to where the narrative was headed, and which I’d always unfailingly overlooked until I’d read the final page. I hadn’t changed. I found nothing.

Initially, I was working at the National Theatre in London, too (I’m an actress when I’m wearing my other hat), and the play I was in was full of eerie happenings and second sight. I would catch the bus home across the river after the show and dream weird and often frightening dreams as I tried to break into my sister’s thinking. I believe I got even closer to her at this point than I was during her lifetime. But although I hunted and pondered, nothing came to me. Then, just as I was beginning to feel like a sous chef, endlessly producing flat soufflés under the slightly disapproving gaze of the Chef, I found one of her clues. I found it near the beginning of her manuscript. And we were off!

When I started to write, it came easily. It was almost as if Diana were at my elbow, prompting, prodding, turning sentences around, working alongside—and then it was finished, and she was gone again. That was a terrible wrench. But her book was there—complete.

So far, no one who has come to The Islands of Chaldea freshly has spotted exactly where Diana Wynne Jones left off and I begin. Perhaps you will be able to, perhaps you won’t. It doesn’t really matter. It is intrinsically and utterly her book, and I hope you and all its readers love it as much as I do.

Sincerely,
Ursula Jones

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25. Secrets of ‘The Ice Bear’ – an insight from Jackie Morris

Jackie at a recent book signing.

Jackie at a recent book signing.

Last month Jackie Morris‘ haunting book The Ice Bear was released in a new paperback edition. To celebrate this I asked Jackie to share a little of the background to this bewitching story, to share some the book’s secrets.

If you’ve already got a copy of the book you might want to have it to hand whilst you read what she reveals, so you can go back and look at the images with fresh eyes. And if you haven’t already found a place in your home for this piece of art between two covers, … well perhaps this post ought to come with a warning notice. There’s magic in and on the pages of The Ice Bear. Prepare to be charmed and enchanted.

The Ice Bear began with an image in my mind’s eye. It was an image of a child, kneeling. Around the child there were bears, so that the child looked like the centre of a daisy and the bears were the petals. My job was to work out how to get the child there, and probably more important, how to get him out again. This is what books are about for me, asking and answering questions, and in the process discovering more questions.

daisy

The Ice Bear began with a friend, pregnant with her first child. Something went wrong. The baby stopped moving, at full term. He died. She had to deliver a stillborn child. A tragedy for her and the child and her husband. The way people reacted to this was a shock to me. Quick, rush over it, brush over it, hide it under business, do anything but face the pain. (Not Sophie and Jon. They couldn’t rush over it, hide it, they had to face it.) I wanted to do a book about a lost child, about loosing a child. This was a thread that wove into the book. Though few would know if I didn’t say and the book is dedicated to Rhoderic, and Sophie and Jon and also to Katie and Thomas who were born by the time the book came out.

Some of Jackie's first sketches for The Ice Bear

Some of Jackie’s first sketches for The Ice Bear

The Ice Bear began with a wish to do a book about polar bears, and to weave into it transformation and a legend, of the trickster and the shaman.

The Ice Bear began when the flight of a raven began to stitch together ideas with its patterned flight in the Pembrokeshire sky, because all books are like rivers, fed by streams of ideas, coming together.

The book is part of a series of books I have written about animals, each with a cover that is a portrait of the animal, staring out from the book. The covers are strong, almost iconic, and the books are often given shelf space so that the whole cover is seen, rather than being placed spine out on a shelf. I am told by bookshops who put the in the window that they work like a charm to bring people in to the shop, and one shop in Edinburgh said that people often missed their bus as they crossed the road to get a better look at the Snow Leopard when that was in the window. There’s something about eyes looking straight at you that still holds a primitive magic over the wild parts of the human consciousness. When I paint an animal in this way I am not searching for the humanity in the animal. I am searching for the soul, the spirit of the creature.

Some of Jackie's covers, including her forthcoming 'Something About a Bear'

Some of Jackie’s covers, including her forthcoming ‘Something About a Bear’

Having ‘begun’ with an image the story then builds into a balance of words and images. Picture books are meant to be read aloud. The language needs to taste good in the ear, to look right where it sits on the page. A picture book is like a theatre, each page a stage set for that part of the story and in designing each page I often include parts of the stories that are only in the pictures. Once open I try to keep the words inside the pictures. I want the book to become a world where the pictures and the words tell the story. The composition is thought out right to the corners and often the corners and edges are where the main focus of the story is. (You can see this best in the picture where the child finds his mother bear. The image dominated the page but in the top right hand corner there is the figure of the father, charging in).

findingmother

I paint on smooth paper, arches hot pressed, beginning with pale washes and then building and building with layers and then smaller details. The paints that I use are Winsor and Newton Artist Quality watercolours, usually tubes, and I use ceramic palettes. I know these colours quite well now after 25 years of working with them. I know when to run wet into wet and how much water to use. Now I use sable brushes. They carry the paint so well and a brush like a series 7, no. 4 will allow a wide wash but also can pull the finest line when handled right. And in the same way that writing is like finding the answers to a series of questions, so too is painting. I am constantly asking myself questions, about composition and colour and line and finding the answers is what makes the book.

brushes

In The Ice Bear the mother and the father each have a totem animal. The mother’s is the Arctic fox, and often when it seems that the child is alone on the ice you can see the fox is there somewhere, watching. The father’s is the owl, a fierce sky hunter. The boy’s is the bear and always will be. And raven, the trickster, a character who is perhaps a force for good, perhaps bad. He steals the bear child, but takes him to the hunter and his wife who have longed for a child. And when it is time he leads him back across the ice and joins the bear people with the human people forever. So is she good, or bad?

During the telling of a tale things can change. When I originally wrote The Ice Bear the raven lured the child out over the ice with small shards of sea glass. But I had wanted the book to be set long before glass was invented. The child becomes the first shaman, a bridge between humanity and the bear people. It was a time when there were no borders and people wondered the land without any border controls. There was no concept of ownership of land. The very idea would have seemed ridiculous. And so I looked for something else, something more timeless and lit upon the idea of amber. Amber is natural, not a manufactured thing. And I have a necklace of amber beads that if taken apart by a mischievous raven would look just like the broken amber heart in the snow.

Jackie's amber necklace

Jackie’s amber necklace

The Ice Bear has been published now in many languages, French, Spanish, Catalan, Danish, Swedish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese. This is one of the things I love about working with books. Words found on a hill top in Wales can travel the world. I also love the democracy of books. Paintings in a gallery are expensive and usually bought to be hung in one home. Books can be bought, translated, and borrowed from libraries. They can be shared.”

My thanks go to Jackie for so generously sharing some of the stories behind The Ice Bear.

The House of the Golden Dreams (an art gallery featuring Jackie’s work): https://www.facebook.com/TheHouseofGoldenDreams
Jackie on Twitter: @JackieMorrisArt
Jackie’s blog: http://www.jackiemorris.co.uk/blog/

3 Comments on Secrets of ‘The Ice Bear’ – an insight from Jackie Morris, last added: 5/5/2014
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