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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: book review, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 2,671
1. Book Review- This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Title:   This is Where It Ends

Author:  Marieke Nijkamp
Series:   N/A
Published:    5th January 2016
Length:  292 pages
Source: The #TIWIEUKTour organised by Luna of Luna’s Little Library
Summary :  10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won't open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Review: This is the story of a school shooting, told as it happens from the perspectives of the shooter's sister Autumn, Autumn's girlfriend Sylv, Sylv's brother Tomás, and the shooter's ex-girlfriend, Claire. 
I wanted to read this because it's an amazing setup, and Marieke is brilliant on Twitter.
This was a would-be-one-sitting-if-life-didnt-get-in-the-way book.  It starts normally, setting up friendships and relationships (quite a few, and it’s a little confusing   because there’s lots of people introduced at the same time but you pick it up as you carry on)  to start with it’s just a normal school day  but after 10.05 it's full on until the end. There's books where you can't stop reading, then there's this.
I liked the multimedia approach, showing tweets, blogs, and texts from those involved and on the outside. The helplessness of everyone on the outside comes through, and I liked the way Marieke showed how tragedy doesn’t just affect those there.
Emotions. All the emotions for everyone. Particularly on page 212 of the proof, where one character slips into the conditional and that’s one of the most heartbreaking parts in the book (there's a few). But everywhere you see characters you know and don't know and fear for them and need to know what's going to happen.
I think the biggest thing about this book for me is how immediate it is. I’m  someone who’s grown up in the UK, where the last school shooting happened in 1996, before I was born, and was followed by pressure groups and the banning of handguns. As a result, when we hear of things like this happening, it’s horrifying and upsetting but you still feel distanced because, despite knowing that this could happen anywhere, living in the UK with its strict gun control laws makes it  harder to imagine a society where there’s the possibility of something like this happening and you practise what to do if it does, despite knowing that this is some people’s reality.
 TIWIE does one of the things I like most about reading contemporary/realistic fiction: make different situations real. The fully diverse cast of victims, survivors, and shooter is developed, and we see their dreams, their experiences, and lives. We see the people involved as people, not just names in a news report, which is, I think, why TIWIE is so hard hitting.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to one of the most intense books I've ever read.

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2. Review: Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

I am a huge fan of Chuck Wendig’s Miriam Black series so when I saw he had a new book coming out I had to read it. On the surface this appears to be a cyber-thriller about hacking. But in the hands of Chuck Wendig it goes somewhere quite different. The book opens and we are […]

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3. Review: I Kill The Mockingbird by Paul Acampora

I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora is a gloriously witty and murderous book and I can’t love it enough! It’s a book about books (bookception!) and how can an avid bookworm not love and adore that?! If you geek out over books and authors — this was built specifically for you. Obviously it’s about the infamous To Kill a […]

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4. Review: The End of All Things by John Scalzi

John Scalzi returns to the Old Man’s War universe for his next fantastic installment. Following on from The Human Division, which was told over thirteen episodes, this time Scalzi tells his story over four novellas and once again demonstrates his total mastery in whatever form or perspective he chooses to tell his stories. Have firming […]

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5. Book Review: 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

Book: 5 to 1
Author: Holly Bodger
Published: 2015
Source: Review copy from publisher via NetGalley

After decades of gender selection, the ratio of boys to girls has become 5 to 1, and the tiny country of Koyangar has instituted elaborate tests for girls to pick their mates. The winners will get marriage, money, and a life of trying to breed more daughters. The losers will get menial jobs or worse, sent to the wall that separates Koyangar from the rest of the Indian subcontinent, an almost certain death sentence.

Sudasa is the granddaughter of a highly-placed woman in the government, and knows that she is expected to select a particular contestant. But she keeps getting distracted by Contestant 5, who helps out the other contestants and shows compassion for the injured that are ignored by every other boy. What she doesn't know is that Contestant 5 has come to the Tests without any intent of winning a wife. Instead, he plans to escape, because anything is better than Koyangar.

Initially, Contestant 5 disdains Sudasa as spoiled and corrupt, and Sudasa can't fathom why he would risk the wall rather than try for a life of comfort and plenty as her husband. But as they get to know each other in stolen moments, they come to understand that they both want the same thing: freedom.

I have to be honest: I've been completely over the whole novels in verse thing for awhile, so while Sudasa's free-versified thoughts and feelings were interesting, I was always relieved when I got back to the prose of Contestant 5's sections. That being said, seeing Sudasa slowly realize that there was a life for her outside of Koyangar, and her grandmother's control was a fascinating character arc. I just wished it had been more fleshed out. Free verse tends to be extremely spare, without a lot of detail. This is obviously a personal preference, so your mileage may vary.

With its themes of gender inequity (girls are still treated like property, their rarity adding to their value like precious gems, locked away in a safe most of the time) and political corruption (always, always political corruption) this book fits into the usual run of current dystopian fiction. The non-Western setting and culture makes it stand out, but at only 246 pages (and about half of those in free verse), it feels like we skimmed over the setting and honestly, everything outside of the Tests themselves.

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6. Review: Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt

Patrick deWitt’s follow up to the brilliant The Sisters Brothers is just as described by the publisher on my advanced reading copy, “incredible”. Continuing on with the subversiveness that made The Sisters Brothers such a magnificent and unique take on The Western, deWitt turns his hand to another genre to create a darkly comic romp that […]

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7. Razorhurst by Justine Larbelestier

Allen & Unwin, 2014

Kelpie has been on her own for most of her life.  She has vague memories of her childhood, but the street life in Razorhust is her home.  She's been fortunate, getting help from people in the city...whether dead or alive.  Kelpie lives on the streets of Razorhurst, a  part of Sydney divided between two gangsters, their henchmen, and a beautiful moll.  And it's when Kelpie steals into a home she shouldn't have that her world completely changes.

Looking at the murder scene was rough enough, but now the ghost of  is following her.  What's more, Kelpie is being used as cover by Dymphna, who thought she was smart enough to leave gang life, or at least take over.  With the law prohibiting guns in Australia in the 1930s, everyone thought gang violence would wane, but razors came out, just as deadly.

Dymphna and Kelpie are polar opposites.  Called the "Angel of Death" because all of her boyfriends end up dead,  Dymphna is well taken care of by Gloriana Nelson, who considers her one of her most valuable assets.  Beautiful, well-coifed and dressed, Dymphna exudes glamour, although her path in life is far from glamorous.  Kelpie, on the other hand, is small, looking more like a child (although she's a teenager), fiercely (or perhaps ferally) independent, and hasn't known the inside of a bath tub in a long time.  And while they may be different, they share one very important thing in common-they both can hear and see ghosts...

They're now both on the lam.  Mr. Davidson, one gang leader, is stalking Dymphna, where his stalking has very serious undertones.  Gloriana is also searching for her, for reasons she doesn't have to explain.  And friends of Kelpie's are also following her, trying to make sure both she and Dymphna stay alive.  But is that possible in a cat and mouse game of the 1930s, where lawlessness abounds and innocent lives are considered a small loss in the pursuit of glory, power and control?

What makes this book such a standout is how Justine Larbelestier creates a dual-genred novel (both supernatural and historical fiction) that wraps itself around real history  and biographies of Australia and Australians in this book.  Readers will not only get caught up in the storyline but also begin to make connections and differences  between both the U.S. and Australia and how gangsters shaped the country.  Although this book is filled with male characters, both good and bad, it's the two females that create the strength in this novel.  Larbelestier uses the ghostly characters as a backdrop to further strength Kelpie's and Dymphna's character flaws and attraction.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one and consider it a strong historical fiction novel for YA. 

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8. Review: Sweet Caress by William Boyd

The new William Boyd is simply sublime. Sweet Caress tells the story of photographer Amory Clay and her tumultuous life over the course of a tumultuous century. Interspersed with photos from key periods in Amory Clay’s life Boyd will have you almost convinced that his novel’s protagonist and narrator is real and existed. Amory Clay […]

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9. Review: The Day The Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt illus. Oliver Jeffers

Following on from the phenomenally brilliant The Day The Crayons Quit comes the sequel. The crayons are back…and they are still not happy. This time around Duncan has to deal with the lost and forgotten crayons. The broken, chewed and melted crayons. And they are all, quite rightly, even more upset! These are the crayons who […]

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10. Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

Well, just WOW. I did not expect to be terrified absolutely witless while reading this. BUT I WAS. This book is wonderful and addictive and…frightening.  If you need me, I shall be the one rocking in the corner giving random pterodactyl screeches from the trauma. True story. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes is about […]

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11. Book Review: The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

Book: The Fourteenth Goldfish
Author: Jennifer L. Holm
Published: 2014
Source: review copy from publisher, picked up at ALA last year

When Ellie's grandfather comes to live with her and her mom, it's worse than most people's grandfathers suddenly moving in. An old man would be bad enough. But Ellies grandfather is a scientist who's learned how to dial back the aging process, so now he's in the body of a thirteen-year-old boy, with all the stinky socks and boundless appetite that go with it.

That stuff is no fun, and neither is listening to her mom and grandfather fight all the time. But he also recruits Ellie to help him get back his experiments from his old lab, and in the process shares his love of science and the scientific process with her. For the first time, Ellie feels like she has a passion of her own.

But she soon learns science is a double-edged sword. Are there things you shouldn't do, even if you can?

Some years ago, I got a piece of writing advice about "gimmes." You get one "gimme" per story. It's the one thing that the audience has to accept for the story to work. It can be as outlandish as you (like a lone scientist secretly and successfully reversing the aging process on himself). But you only get the one, and everything else that builds on that "gimme" has to be real and logical. This is an example of how well that works. Holm uses the idea of reversed aging to explore complicated family dynamics and moving on with life even after things have changed on you - like the death of a spouse, a divorce, or even a one-time best friend who's moved on to other things.

I especially loved that she didn't just go the "rah-rah-science!!" route. A major theme of the book is the negative consequences of scientific discovery, such as Marie Curie's death from radiation poisoning or the aftereffects of Oppenheimer's atom bomb.  At the same time, Holm balances that with the wonder of discovering the world and its possibilities - a more nuanced rah-rah-science theme than most.

Funny, sweet, and swift-moving, this will appeal to a lot of middle-schoolers.

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12. Review: The Dust That Falls From Dreams by Louis de Bernieres

Louis de Bernieres adds to the pantheon of First World War novels with his latest book. Inspired by his own family history de Bernieres explores the devastation and changes the war wrought upon British lives and society following four daughters of the McCosh family. At it’s it is a centre a love story; about love […]

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13. The Golden Compass Book Review and Activities for Young Readers

It’s winding down! Summer may slipping away, but the Jump Into a Book team is always looking for creative ways to showcase amazing kidlit authors while also offering up companion activities to keep families reading and “jumping” into the pages of their favorite books.
This week I would like to focus in The Golden Compass; a wonderful book by author Philip Pullman.
 The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

In the world of Jordan College at Oxford, Lyra Delaqua’s life is more than simple. She shares many adventures with her daemon Pantalaimon and her best friend Roger. She occasionally learns from the scholars, but only when she’s in the right mood. She’s neither a peasant nor a noble child.

However, this simplicity only lasts until she catches the Master of Jordan trying to poison her nobleman uncle, Lord Asriel. This sets off a series of events that wrenches Lyra from her careless life at Oxford.

Lord Asriel is the first to introduce the aspect of Dust to her, something that he believes can only be found in the north, the place she desires to go more than anywhere else on planet. Thoughts of the great, white north race through her mind on a daily basis. This could be her chance—to travel to the north with her scholarly uncle to help him discover this so called dust.

But events are set in place to keep this from happening. Children are disappearing from Oxford. No one knows where they go or what happens to them once they are gone. All they know is who is taking them—the Gobblers. But the gobblers are faceless, and day by day, more children and their daemons are disappearing from all over the world.

After Lyra’s uncle has departed for his journey into the north, Lyra is introduced to the charming and graceful Mrs. Coulter, who intrigues Lyra so that she agrees to go with Mrs. Coulter and her eerie golden monkey to become her assistant, learn the ways of traveling, and venture into the north.But before Lyra leaves Jordan College, she is called to the Master who gives her a curious device called an alethiometer—a truth measurer. He gives her no information—not how to read, nor why he is giving it to her. He only emphasizes the great need to keep it secret.

For the first few weeks with Mrs. Coulter, Lyra’s life is drastically improved. She dresses well, bathes frequently. She learns about geography, cartography, and every other “ography.” But dark secrets are soon revealed—secrets of Dust, something called the Oblation board, and possibly what is happening to the children snatched up by the Gobblers. Lyra escapes from Mrs. Coulter just barely, and on her journey to find truth and her friend Roger, she encounters and learns more than she could ever imagine including Lord Faa and Farder Coram of the water-bound gyptians, Lee Scoresby the hot air balloon pilot from Texas, Serafina Pekkala—queen of a tribe of witches–, and Iorek Byrnison, an exiled bear prince from Svalbard. Together this ragtag band of determined allies travel into the north, discover the secret of the Gobblers, and many more secrets that even the alethiometer kept hidden.

The Golden Compass was one of the most interesting, intriguing books I have read in awhile. Everything is different about this book. Pullman has his own style, his own view of the world. The introduction of the idea of daemon’s as a person’s external soul is a very beautiful idea to me, especially since I am such an animal lover. There are so many unique, intricate ideas weaved into this book that you must read closely to catch them all. I am thoroughly intrigued and can’t wait to finish out the series with The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.
author philip pullman
**Some of these links are affiliate links
Golden Compass Inspired Activities at Copalette.com. Enjoy a plethora of fun activities inspired by the book including Serafina Pekkala’s Mini Bow and The Golden Compass Game Spinner:
activities inspired by The Golden Compass
Make a pouch to hold your own alethiometer at Special Collections Learning:
What are the Northern Lights?
Northern Lights
Scientifically known as Aurora Borealis, the northern lights are electrically charged particles from the sun that collide in earth’s atmosphere. So basically it’s these tiny particles that are really excited and in turn create these beautiful colors in the sky. SO..Where is the best place to see the northern lights?
  • Remote Islands in Norway
  •              Scotland
  •             Canada
  •             Greenland
  •             Finland
  •             Iceland
  •             Sweden

(and my Head Elf, Becky, tells me that Northern Minnesota should be added to this list! :)

Follow me on Pinterest!
Follow Valarie Budayr @Jump into a Book’s board Jump Into a Book Kidlit Booklists on Pinterest. Follow Valarie Budayr @Jump into a Book’s board A Year In The Secret Garden on Pinterest.

Do your young readers love nature and all of nature’s critters? Experience the magical story of a family of foxes that took up residence right in the front yard of the author and publisher, Valarie Budayr. The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden offers an enthusiastically educational opportunity to observe this fox family grow and learn together.
The Fox Diaries
From digging and hunting to playing and resting, this diary shares a rare glimpse into the private lives of Momma Rennie and her babies. Come watch as they navigate this wildly dangerous but still wonderful world. Great to share with your children or students, The Fox Diaries speaks to the importance of growing and learning both individually and as a family unit. It is a perfect book for story time or family sharing. Not only can you read about the daily rituals of this marvelous fox family, there is an information-packed resource section at the end of the book that includes lots of facts and even a few “fox movies” that you can enjoy with your family. Grab your copy of this beautiful and inspiring book HERE.


The post The Golden Compass Book Review and Activities for Young Readers appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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14. Night Film Audiobook Review

Title: Night Film Author: Marisha Pessl Narrated by: Jake Weber Publisher: Random House Audio Publication Date: August 20, 2013 ISBN-13: 978-0307932655 Listening copy via local library Marisha Pessl's debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, was a hot read a few years ago. I read it and thought it was intelligent and intricately plotted, but overall a meh from me in terms of being

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15. Book Review: Inheritance (The Evolution Chronicles Book 2) by RJ Palmer

Description on Amazon:

It’s been twenty years since that fateful winter night in the Colorado asylum and the Donnelly twins are all grown up. Elizabeth is a bit of a bounder with a taste for adventure and Renee… Well, Renee just wants to be normal.

Like that’s ever going to happen.

When tragedy strikes the Donnelly family and everything goes haywire, Renee finds herself scrambling alone in a race against time to solve the riddle of a lifetime, fix what’s broken and figure out how it all went so horribly wrong to begin with.


First let me place my disclaimer and state that this is my wife's book and I agreed to review it on my own. I remove one star as she is my wife. This seems to be fair.

Point of View: In this installment you are taken into the mind of Raine's daughter Renee. You know, one of the twins from the first book (Birthright). Be ready for an impressive ride inside the mind of a person who has more power than she can fathom.

Voice: I have always found RJ Palmer's work to have a bit of introspection in them and see her as trying to convey to look in oneself before casting your judgments. She follows this same voice into her third published novel.

Character Development: You can tell that Birthright was written by a young woman trying to find herself in a big wide world. Sins of the Father showed massive growth both personally and professionally. Inheritance steps that learning up a notch and the writer is coalescing with the author and the woman. In other words, outright beautiful character development. I hurt for each of them, cried for their pain and felt the ache of despair. I wanted to jump into the novel and save all of them, even those that may have deserved worse fates.

Plot: Most people are afraid to jump so far into the future (20 years) to start the second novel but this author does it so well you do not miss a beat.

Dialogue: All "good" novels have the "unwritten character". I mean any book worth reading makes the dialogue wrap the reader into the story and causes them to be a part of the story. RJ Palmer does this with expert precision. Be ready to cry, yell and scream for the entirety of this book.

Pacing: Be ready to be exhausted by the end but aching for more.

Setting: RJ Palmer has found the sweat spot when it comes to detailing a setting. Enough to show us her mind, but leaving enough room for our imaginations to take flight.

Continuity: Again, 20 years seems like a long time but the author does well to keep it in line with the first book and does well throughout the story spinning her web.

Where to Find:

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16. Book Review: The Game of Pawns (Book Three of the Darkness Series) by Leonard D. Hilley II

Description from Amazon:

Pawns are Expendable . . .

Twelve execution-style murders have occurred in Newark, New Jersey, in less than a week. Each murder has a calling card - a red pawn on each corpse. Kat Gaddis and Lucian investigate the homicides and discover the last four victims were employed by GenTech, a company that recently merged with Mech Cybernetics. After FBI director Mike Carpenter shares evidence with Kat, they soon discover political ties and corruptions that place Kat's life in direct danger. New players emerge and what seems like serial murders suddenly becomes a struggle for biotech knowledge and power. Kat is thrust into their game - The Game of Pawns.

Overall: Picking up three years after the first book in this series the reader is taken on another thrill-filled ride. As a word of warning I ask that anyone reading this review go pick up and read the first in this series so that they can and will understand the development and progression of both the plot and characters. This action-packed follow up is a perfect follow up to the first and caused me to go right into the third of the series because I just had to know where it was going. This author is full of talent and has a very long career in entertaining the brain of this reader.


Point of View: Again you walk the same path as Daniel from the previous two novels. With a myriad of characters that have been developed throughout the series and some new ones thrown in for fun.

Voice: The author maintains their dark and erotic thrills throughout the series and this one does not disappoint.

Character Development: Flawless execution once again. The characters we have followed are fully fleshed out and roaring for a story.

Plot: Staying in form with the previous books, this installment does not leave the reader clueless.

Dialogue: Well formed if not a bit overdone in some places.

Pacing: At the last page you will try to remember just how long you have really been reading as it goes by the seemingly fast.

Setting: New Jersey 2026. Need I say more.

Continuity: The author obviously took the time to make sure each book related to the next and kept the reader inside the story as it unfolded.

Where to Find:

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17. Book Review: Goblin Secrets by William Alexander

Book: Goblin Secrets
Author: William Alexander
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

Rownie isn't like all the other children who live in Graba's house, because Rownie has a brother of his own. But Rowan disappeared a couple of months ago, leaving Rownie all on his own without any defenses against the old witch.

When Rownie runs away from Graba's house and falls in with a troupe of goblin actors, he discovers a place where he's welcome, and moreover a gift for acting. With a mask on, he can be anybody. But Graba doesn't let go of what's hers that easily. Not to mention, the floods threaten their city and the Mayor, who has outlawed acting and is prejudiced against goblins, threatens the theater troupe. What can one small boy without his brother do against any of these dangers?

When this won the National Book Award a few years ago, I hadn't really heard of it. This is a quieter book, not very action-packed in spite of the action that occurs, because Alexander has a very detached prose style that made me feel as if I were being told the story rather than living it. Still, I kept reading this for the world of goblins and witches. Alexander has a way of dropping grotesque and magical details about the world and the people that indicate intriguing secrets, which we never fully get but know are there. I also read this for Rownie himself, discovering the magic of acting and his own strength, which both help him when he finds his brother again.

Give this book to lovers of other quiet fantasy books.

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18. Two Words You Don't Want to Hear & One Book You Really Should Read: Interview with Author, Venita McCart

"It's Cancer"
“It’s Cancer”—Finding Help and Hope on the Road to Recovery was recently released by Straight Street Books. There’s a great need for this book because statistics state one out of every two men, and one out of every three women, will hear those two words no one wants to hear. "It's cancer."
While statistics sound cold and clinical, this book is not. Rather it is full of hope, encouragement, and helpful guidance.
I am delighted to have the author and cancer survivor, Venita McCart, as a guest on my blog this week. Venita and I became friends a few years ago and I’ve eagerly waited for her to write this book. Not only does it offer help for those diagnosed with cancer, but it is enlightening and beneficial for the rest of us to read.
In “It’s Cancer”—, Venita shares her own experiences as well as those of others. The back copy reads, “Come alongside patient survivors as they successfully overcome the obstacles of weighing treatment advice, managing caregivers, establishing attainable goals, realigning expectations, and embracing a new normal during and after cancer. Grapple with the tough questions about suffering, death, and heaven. Learn the value of being your own advocate, accepting setbacks, choosing gratitude, and developing a closer relationship with God.
As the founder of Faith Force Cancer Support Ministry in Illinois, Venita continues to validate the realities of cancer while offering strategies for finding inner joy and peace. I’m delighted to have her share with us today.

Read more »

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19. Kishaz Reading Corner: Claimed by Evangeline Anderson

Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.

About the Book

Brides of the Kindred Book One—Claimed

Olivia Waterhouse has just graduated from nursing school and has her whole life ahead of her—until she gets drafted. Problem is, she isn’t being forced into the Army, she’s been chosen as a Kindred bride.

The Kindred are huge alien warriors—a race of genetic traders whose population is ninety-five percent male. After saving Earth from the threat of invasion they demand a reward—the right to find brides among the population. The chances of being chosen are about the same as those of winning the lottery—guess it’s just Liv’s lucky day.

Baird is a Beast Kindred who recently escaped imprisonment and torture at the hands of the malevolent Scourge. Through the torment and pain only one thing kept him sane—the thought of finding and claiming his bride—Olivia. His need to possess her is a burning intensity that threatens to consume them both.

Angry at having her future and her family taken away from her, Liv vows to fight back the only way she can—by resisting. She has one month on the Kindred Mothership with Baird—their claiming period. If she can keep from having bonding sex with him during that time, she can go home and get on with her life on Earth.

But Baird isn’t going to make it easy for her. Every week he is allowed to touch Liv more and more intimately and according to the contract she signed, she has to let him. She’s determined to resist him but his touch sets her on fire. And just as she thinks she knows what she wants, a twist of fate and an attack by the faceless Scourge AllFather changes everything…

More about the Brides of the Kindred series
A race of Genetic Traders from beyond the stars
Three very different types of men
All looking for one thing…their brides

Beast Kindred—Savage in battle these dark, brooding warriors from Rageron bring their passion and intensity to the bedroom. They possess a very special endowment that ensures every sexual experience is a tantric one.

Blood Kindred—Cold as ice to their enemies, these tall, blond warriors from Tranq Prime warm up when they find the right woman. But be careful…they bite.

Twin Kindred—Muscular and rugged, these warriors from Twin Moons always come in pairs and cannot be separated. They experience physical pain when parted from each other…or the one woman they both choose to love.

And then there is the enemy…

The Scourge—A genetic trade gone wrong, these menacing outsiders have twisted desires and sexual needs fierce enough to frighten away even the most adventurous. Their need to dominate and possess their women completely has led to a strange prophesy that they must fulfill…or die trying.

Buy the Book

Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 3.5 stars

Here's why:

I like the premise of this first novel in the Brides of the Kindred series. The different types of Kindred and their specific needs in "brides" is interesting. However, there were a couple of things that irritated me about the story.

One of the things that drove me nuts was Olivia's constant denial of her situation and her whiny behavior at being selected as a bride for the Beast Kindred, Baird. Also her unwillingness to even try to get to know him better as well as her rule breaking were hard things to handle. And her quick change of behavior to a "save me, save me" mentality whenever her poor decisions landed her in hot water had me yelling at Baird to get rid of her and find someone better.

I like Baird. He had infinite patience and he bent over backwards to try to accommodate his unwilling and annoying bride to be. His attempts to move ahead with his life after suffering horribly at the hands of the enemy made me want to get to know him better.

The flow of the story was fine as was the overall writing of this story.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, but be prepared for the overflow of the whiny cup.

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20. Kishaz Reading Corner: One Night With the Sheikh by Penny Jordan

Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.

About the Book

The searing attraction between Sheikh Xavier Al Agir and Mariella Sutton was instant and all consuming.When a storm left Mariella stranded at Xavier's desert home, passion soon took over…. It was a night she would never forget!

But having always yearned for a child of her own, Mariella planned just one more night with the sheikh—to conceive his baby….

Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 3.5 stars

Here's why:

Must be something about the desert, sand, and men so hot they raise the temperature up several degrees.

I understand that when a woman's biological clock starts ticking we do crazy things but I'm not sure I liked how Mariella went about scratching her urge. Xavier was very arrogant but also vulnerable. Mariella had her share of issues, too. The pairing was decent.

I didn't have a problem with the story overall. It was a solid read.

Would I recommend this book? Yes.

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21. Book Review: Starglass by Phoebe North

Book: Starglass
Author: Phoebe North
Published: 2013
Source: Local Library

Terra's world is bounded to a single spaceship, the Asherah. It's been that way since she was born, and her mother, and her mother's mother back through generations since they left the dying Earth to travel to their new home of Zehava. Her life is laid out in a similarly confined way. At sixteen, she will take the job that the ruling Council has chosen for her, she will marry before the age of eighteen, and she will have her requisite two children in her early twenties.

But unlike her ancestors, Terra will land on Zehava. As she approaches adulthood, and as the Asherah approaches its final destination, she begins to realize that life is not nearly so simple as doing what you're told when you're told to do it. She gets involved with the Children of Abel, a rebel group seeking to overthrow the system, but she has her doubts about their motives and their methods.

The Council has one idea about life on Zehavah, and the Children of Abel have another. Somewhere in the middle is Terra's - but what exactly is it?

This is a doorstop of a book, but I didn't want to put it down. Terra's world and her narration were completely compelling. Sometimes it's hard to put up with Terra herself. She seems naive, self-centered, often clueless about the motives and emotions of others or the political system that rules her world. And there are also times when she willingly keeps her blinders on, going along with what's expected because it's easy, trying to be a good Asherite because it's too hard to swim upstream. These things also make her tremendously real and sympathetic, and made me willing to see how she was going to change and grow.

On starting this, I worried that we would have the inevitable love triangle. And we do . . . but at the same time we don't. There are two, and neither of them are quite standard. Koen, the boy Terra has agreed to marry, is in love with Van, another man, and both of them are Children of Abel. But same-sex marriages don't exist on the Asherah, so he's settling for Terra (who, to be fair, is settling for him). There's also Silvan, in line to be the next captain, who is arrogant and spoiled but also exciting and tempting. Terra doesn't love him either, but at least he evokes a reaction. But it makes things complicated that he once dated and dumped her best friend, who has never gotten over him. And then, of course, there's the one she's told nobody about - the mysterious boy in her dreams of the new planet. I appreciated the complexity of these relationships (well, except the last one, which seems more like wishful thinking than anything) and how Terra's feelings toward them were more about trying to be in love than actually being.

One of the other things that sets this book apart is the culture aboard the Asherah. Besides the standard, regimented dystopian system, the customs and language of the ship draw on cultural Judaism. Religion and faith, at least as far as God is concerned, seemed to have disappeared but ideas remain, like tikkun olan (the responsiblity of humanity to heal the world) or mitzvot (used in the sense of duties or good deeds in this book, but a minor Google search tells me is really more related to God's commandments).  Not being Jewish myself, I suspect I'm missing the subtleties and would love to talk this book over with somebody who knows both the culture and the faith.

A complicated, sophisticated sci-fi dystopia with a complex main character, suitable for those already into the genre.

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22. Kate Messner’s Thumbs-Up Revision Tool for Anyone, Any Time

Just in time for our back-to-school TeachingAuthors posts, which JoAnn kicked off Friday with a Book Giveaway of her WRITE A POEM STEP BY STEP, I share my THUMBS UP review of Kate Messner’s REAL REVISION (Stenhouse, 2011) – a must-read for anyone any time of the year  (really!) who wants to get his or her writing right.

Personally, I’m a Big Fan of the prefix “re” – as in, back to, return to, again and again. According to my trusty online dictionary, verbs affixed with re connote restoration and repetition, a backwards motion, a withdrawal.
Think Second Chances.
Think Do-overs.
REAL REVISION makes all of the above possible, breaking down the revision process into doable, fun-even tasks, by sharing the revision strategies of a bounty of award-winning children’s book writers – Mentor Authors who truly show readers that all writing is revising. 

Kirby Larson, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Jane Yolen, Kathi Appelt, Mitali Perkins, Donna Gephart, Tom Angleberger, Tanya Lee Stone, G. Neri, Rebecca Stead, just to name a few – share honest-to-goodness manuscripts and revision experiences of specific titles they’ve published in order to illustrate a key element of narrative – say, voice or characterization, setting or plot, and the writing process – maybe research, seeing the Big Picture, word choice, copyediting or brainstorming. 
I’m talking REAL examples that lead to raised eyebrows and bulging eyes and all sorts of head-shaking responses.
Each Mentor Author’s offering is the stuff of a mini, personalized writer-to-writer one-on-one.

Each Mentor Author also offers a Try Out for the reader that accompanies the teaching point of each chapter– an easily-reproducible hands-on, doable, concrete exercise that underscores what’s – really – important.

The quotes that begin each chapter are delicious, too.
For instance, Lisa Schroeder’s:
Revision is like cleaning your room because it may not be fun while you’re doing it but when you’re finished, you can stand back and see what you’ve done, and think, ‘Wow! That looks great!’”
Or Kirby Larson’s:
“Revision is like a newborn because it’s a 24/7 commitment and worth every sleepless night.”
Or Donna Gephart’s:
“Revision is like a lottery ticket because it’s a golden opportunity to make your work even better!”

Throughout REAL REVISION, Kate herself wears both her author and teacher hat, sharing her writing life, her process and the revision stories of her books.  Kate happens to be a National Board-certified teacher – and – the award-winning author of such books as the E.B. White Read Aloud Award winner THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z., SUGAR AND ICE and the Marty McGuire chapter book series.

I don my two TeachingAuthor hats to sincerely thank Kate for bringing REAL REVISION’s Mentor Authors and their realistically-presented, insightful and informative revision strategies to the page in such a fun and readable instructive way.

Whether it’s back-to-school for you, and/or back-to-writing, don’t leave home without this anytime/anyonetool.

Oh, and don’t forget to enter our Book Giveaway for JoAnn Early Macken’s WRITE A POEM STEP BY STEP.

Here’s to that prefix “re” and second chances!

Esther Hershenhorn

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23. The Witch of Lime Street: Seance, Seduction and Houdini in the Spirit World

Crown, 2015

The 1920's was an unforgettable era in the United States, and the biggest event to impact many lives was the end of World War I.  Millions of people died, millions of families grieved.  Not only were there big events, but big personalities as well.  One of the grandest and boldest of Americans at the time was Harry Houdini.  There were also new trends and beliefs that began to sprout, and Spiritualism was taking over the world.  Together these three combinations would make for a fascinating story....

Sir Conan Doyle, English author, became entrenched and entranced with Spiritualism when we lost his son to the war.  Through mediums, he was able to talk to his son beyond the grave through a seance.  This became a passion that Doyle brought to the United States, which created a furor and controversy and the validity of mediums and their powers.

While speaking to throngs of people in auditoriums, Doyle was able to convince many that communication with the dead was a different kind of science.  What you may not be able to see doesn't mean it doesn't exist.  With that in mind, a very reputable publication as well as scientists and professionals from Harvard, began to investigate mediums to see if they could discern between a true medium and a charlatan.  Along with the investigation, a $5000.00 award would be given to a medium who truly had the gift.  One of the many professionals on this team was Harry Houdini.

Harry Houdini was a master of deception.  Having worked his way beyond vaudeville, Harry learned and knew all the tricks of the trade and could easily spot them.  One event that bolstered Harry's goal to exposing medium frauds was the death of his beloved mother.  Even Harry wanted to be swayed to believe mediums could connect him to his dear mother, but in the end, he realized there were con artists on every corner waiting to make money from the grief of another.  This he couldn't tolerate.

With believers on one side, and naysayers on another, a medium entered into the fray claiming she was the true embodiment of a medium.  Unlike others, this beautiful woman, Margery, was the wife of a doctor and lived in a wealthy area of New England.  She didn't need the money and because of her status, many were disposed to believe her talents and story.  Why would a high society lady lie?What could be her motive?  And Margery truly had talent...but was it real or not?  A war was about to begin between Margery and Harry.  Who would ultimately win?

Steeped not only in an interesting era of history, the author creates a story centered around two people, with many other characters woven throughout to make this another piece of history not taught in most textbooks (it always seems like the best stories are left out!)  Written in narrative format, this book is enjoyable to read, and the images were peculiarly interesting.  An excellent additional to any YA non-fiction section, this could most certainly be paired with excellent YA fiction, including Libba Bray's The Diviners books.  Recommended.

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24. Review: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

I totally loved this book. This sucked me in from the opening sentence and still has not let me go. The moment I finished I started missing all the characters straight away and want to get back to this universes as quickly as possible. This is science fiction at its best; expansive, alien, full of […]

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25. Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa

I am so dragonishly pleased with Talon by Julie Kagawa. It was just so excitingly good! I do love me some dragons, though. I absolutely adore them, so I had a feeling this book would be “my thing”. It isn’t flooded with dragonishness (that is a word, don’t doubt me now), but it has loveable characters and sparky humour […]

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