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1. Vacation


I'm on vacation this week - escaping the cold.

Until I get back, perhaps you'll enjoy my recent reviews for AudioFile Magazine:


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2. Maya’s Blanket: La Manta De Maya Book Review #ReadYourWorld

Multicultural Children’s Book Day is nearly here!

MCCBD2016 Sponsor and multicultural publisher Lee and Low, since it’s inception, has been committed to multicultural and diverse literature for children. We are honored to have them as a Silver Sponsor of this year Multicultural Children’s Book Day

What if the objects we love most in our lives i.e. blankets, stuffed animals, dolls, toys etc could be creatively used, recycled, and treasured so that they’d never leave us?

Maya’s Blanket by Monica Brown and illustrated by Caldecott winning artist David Diaz is such a tale.

Maya's Blanket

This is a bilingual book. The left hand page is in English with some key Spanish words, and the right hand page is in Spanish. David Diaz does a magnificent job in portraying the story in his artwork of vibrant colors and wonderful character drawings.

Maya's Blanket

From the loving hands of her grandmother, Maya receives a magical blanket that keeps bad dreams away. As she loves and uses her blanket, it becomes frayed so Maya and her grandmother transform the blanket into a dress which she ends up spilling red juice on. From here Maya’s blanket is progresses through a series of other items such as a skirt, shawl, scarf, hair ribbon, and finally a bookmark. When at last even the magical bookmark is lost, all that is left are her memories of her magical blanket and all of it repurposed glory. So Maya wrote a book to capture and hold her treasures in.

Maya's Blanket

Maya’s Blanket is a Junior Library Guild Selection. We’re honored to have the Junior Library Guild sponsor this year’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day Classroom Challenge. Teachers, we’re giving away a beautiful FREE hard-covered book to your classroom. Have a look here to find out how you can bring a Junior Library Guild Selection to your classroom.

Classroom Reading Challenge

Something To Do

no sew

No Sew Blanket

Maya’s grandmother made the blanket for Maya but through all of it’s other transformations it had the creative helping hands of both Maya and her grandmother. This no sew blanket is such a blanket. It takes less than an hour, around 40 minutes, and is fun project to do together. At the end you’ll have a cozy blanket and the memories of making it.

You Will Need:

  •  2 coordinating fiber fleece fabrics, 2 yards each.
  •   Sharp fabric scissors
  •   1 tape measure
  1. Take your first piece of fabric and lay it down on the floor.
  2. Cut off the two salvedge sides.

3. Do the same thing with the second piece of fabric.

No Sew Set-up

  1. Lay your first piece of fabric face down on the floor.
  2. Take your second piece of fabric and lay it on top of the first with the wrong side down, right side facing up.
  3. Take your tape measure and measure a 4 inch x 4 inch square on each corner.
  4. Cut a 4 x 4 inch square out of each corner.
  5. Take your tape measure and spread it out from one 4×4 corner to the next. Lock the tape measure in place.
  1. Cut one inch slits which are 4 inches long around each side of the blanket.
  2. Now it’s time to knot the blanket. Take one cut slit of fabric. You will have two pieces of fabric per cut. One from the top and one from the bottom. Just make an over hand knot on each slit all around the blanket.

Enjoy your new blanket.

Spanish Language for Kids

Maya’s Blanket not only is bilingual but uses a series of Spanish words inside the English side of the story.

After reading the book, see how many words you remember and know the meanings of.

Fascinated about the Spanish language ? Would you like to learn more ? Have a look at these really fun YouTube channels that will have you speaking Spanish in no time.

Little Pim

Little Pim is the leading language program for young children. Winner of over 25 awards, Little Pim’s Entertainment Immersion Method makes it fun & easy for babies, toddlers and preschoolers to learn.

Rockalingua

Rockalingua is a collection of Spanish songs, videos, worksheets games and other teaching materials for kids.

Calico Spanish

Free Spanish lessons for kids, schools, family and after school programs. Wonderful curriculum!!!

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The post Maya’s Blanket: La Manta De Maya Book Review #ReadYourWorld appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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3. Dead Boy - an audiobook review



Below is my review of the audio book version of Dead Boy by Lauren Gale and read by Robbie Daymond.  Great plot with some unexpected turns.
GALE, Laurel. Dead Boy. 5 CDs. 6 hrs. Listening Library. 2015. $35. ISBN 9781101916827. digital download.

Gr 5-7–Crow was once a regular boy who played baseball and had friends and loving parents. But now, he’s dead. At first, being dead wasn’t so bad, but then his rotting flesh began attracting maggots. He couldn’t eat or sleep. His parents divorced. His mother will tell him only that his parents “wished him back to life,” but what kind of life? He’s trapped in a house kept purposefully cold to slow the putrefaction of his flesh. When Melody and her father move in next door, she and Crow become secret friends against the wishes of their parents. Together, they begin to unravel the terrible secret of his parents’ wish. Their forbidden friendship will be tested as they face a series of deadly challenges in their quest for the truth. Though the book’s description promises humor, narrator Robbie Daymond’s presentation of Crow is morose and forlorn. His cheerful portrayal of Melody offers the only break from the macabre atmosphere. VERDICT - Not for the squeamish, this one will be best for middle school fans of ghoulish favorites like The Night Gardener (Abrams, 2014) or The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls (S. & S., 2012). [“A great recommendation to middle grade fans of dark humor”: SLJ 7/15 review of the Crown book.]

  Copyright © 2016 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.
Reprinted with permission.

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4. “365 Devotions for Peace” Book Review, Author Interview, & a Giveaway!

by Sally Matheny
365 Devotions for Peace
by Cheri Cowell

As soon as I saw Cheri Cowell’s name on the cover of 365 Devotions for Peace, I selected it for my reading. I had never read Cheri’s writing before, but I heard her speak at a Write2Ignite Conference last year. Impressed by her speaking, I was eager to read her writing.

Each of the 365 Devotions for Peace are between 150-200 words in length. I found their brevity a nice accompaniment to my daily Bible reading. However, I thought about those battling in the middle of a crisis. Some of life’s torrential storms delay a lengthy basking in God’s Word. This book is perfect for those brief moments of respite.

Each devotion begins with one verse of scripture. Scriptures are taken from various versions of the Holy Bible—NIV, NCV, NASB, NKJV, MSG, and The Voice. 

A devotion follows and ends with a one-to-two-sentence prayer.
Fifteen areas are covered including: Peace with God, Peace at Home, Peace Within, Peace in Times of Trouble, and Peace for the World.

If you know someone who is searching for peace, this book would make a lovely and thoughtful gift. Perhaps you’ll win the copy of Cheri’s book I’m giving away this week!
Read more »

0 Comments on “365 Devotions for Peace” Book Review, Author Interview, & a Giveaway! as of 1/18/2016 12:06:00 AM
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5. Check out Edward Gorey’s “Amphigorey Too” Book Art & Interiors

If you already purchased “Amphigorey: 15 books” then this is obviously the next step. It collects 20 of Gorey’s books (ones which are less popular).…

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6. The Snowed-In Winter Book Festival- The Story of the Snow Children

Welcome to the Snowed-In Winter Book Festival!

Welcome to the Snowed-In Winter Book Festival!

One of the things I love most about winter is SNOW and being “snowed in” seems to happen frequently (whether officially…or “by choice”). So I’ve decided to dedicate an entire week of posts to our favorite snow books and the things we can do with them. Our book choice for this wonderful week of snow is Story of the Snow Children.

snow children

I can’t think of a better way to continue our Snow Festival week than with The Story of the Snow Children by Sibylle von Olfers. Who couldn’t love Poppy in her little red hat going to a winter’s feast? I was trying to remember the first time I heard this story and I can’t remember. It seems like its been a constant throughout my life.

snow children

As Poppy is gazing out of the window she notices the soft gently blowing snowflakes have little faces and are actually snow children. As they dance and swirl in the garden they soon take Poppy away to the snow kingdom of the Snow Queen. There, Poppy is welcomed to the grand festival by the Queen and her princess. Amidst the sparkling snow kingdom is dancing, feasting, and exciting games. At the end of all this play, Poppy sleepily returns home to recount her tales of the snow children to her listening mother.

snowchildren

To grab your copy of this book, go HERE.
To set the stage for the wonderful and exciting snow festival we need to be dressed appropriately. There is nothing better than a message crown to make one feel like wintry royalty.

Something To Do: A Message Crown

Snow festival

Message Crown A

Materials:

An assortment of 81/2 x 10 paper
An assortment of 12 x 12 paper
White card stock or blank index cards
Scissors
Picking shears
Small fasteners
Glue dots or glue
Tape
Heart Pattern
Large Circle pattern
Small circle pattern
Large triangle pattern
Small triangle pattern
To make a message crown you will need the following:
1 woven heart

2 large circles
2 small circles
2 large triangles
2 small triangles
2 -12 inch paper strips, 2 inches wide

How to make the woven heart

Fold a 81/2 x 11 ½ sheet of paper in half
Place the bottom of the heart pattern on the fold
Trace pattern twice onto the paper, each one placed on the fold.
Cut the two center lines on each heart piece.

Weaving Your Heart
Weaving a heart is a little different than weaving. We aren’t going under and over but in and through. The left hand side of the heart I’ve marked ABC. The right hand side of the heart I’ve marked 123. Let’s try this step by step. Look at the photos for help.
Step 1: Place C (left side piece) inside 1 (right hand piece).

heart weaving step 1
Step 2: Place 2 (right hand piece) inside C (left hand piece).
Step 3: Place C (left hand piece) inside 1 (right hand piece).
Step 4: Place 1 (right hand piece) inside B (left hand piece).

heart weaving step 2
Step 5: Place B(left hand piece) inside 2 (right hand piece).
Step 6: Place 1 (right hand piece) inside B ( left hand piece).
Step 7: Place C (left side piece) inside 1 (right hand piece).

heart weaving step 3
Step 8: Place 2 (right hand piece) inside C (left hand piece).
Step 9: Place C (left hand piece) inside 1 (right hand piece).

 

To Make the Message Crown you will Need the Following:
Two large circles
Two small circles
Two large triangles
Two small triangles

Make the Crown band
Take 2 12 x 12 inch pieces of paper. Place them wrong sides together.
Tape an inch on both the bottom left and right hand sides. This will hold your crown sides together.
Measure 2 inches from the bottom, fold, and cut along folded line. This is your crown band.
Crown Assembling
Take a folded heart and turn it over. On the reverse side, place a couple of glue dots down towards the bottom of the heart. Taking your crown band with the taped sides lying horizontally, place the heart in the center of the crown band.
Take one large circle and one small circle. Place small circle on top of the large circle and fasten with a small fastener. Make two of theses. Once together turn both pieces over and place a couple of glue dots on the circle and then place one circle to the right of the heart, and the other to the left of the heart.
Take one large triangle and one small triangle. Place a small triangle on top of the large triangle. Hold them together with a small fastener. Make two of these. Turn the triangles over and place a couple of glue dots on each triangle. Place the triangles to the left of the circles.

Adjusting your crown
Place the crown on the head holding it center on the forehead. In the back of the head, grab the crown band, gathering up the excess. Fold it over and tape it to fit.

crown band fitting
Messages

Message crown messages
The heart on the center of the crown is actually a little basket. It’s a perfect place for friends to leave messages for each other. To make your messages take the card stock and cut it into 8 rectangles. You can also use index cards as well. Cut those into quarters. Use your pinking shears to go around the edges. Write a heartfelt message. During the snow festival go around delivering your messages to your friends.

**Some of these links are affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may get a very small commission. This money goes towards postage and supplies to keep books and ideas in the hands of young readers!

Kids and nature go hand-and-hand and enjoying the bounty that the great outdoors brings is not just a “summer thing.” The newest book from children’s book authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters teaches families everywhere to enjoy not only the great outdoors with month-by-month activities, but to jump deeper into the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden! A Year in the Secret Garden is a delightful children’s book with over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!” More details HERE!
A Year in the Secret Garden

The post The Snowed-In Winter Book Festival- The Story of the Snow Children appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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7. Book Review- Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

First post of 2016! I'm starting as I hope to go on, with a review. Enjoy!
Title: Because You'll Never Meet Me
Author: Leah Thomas
Series: N/A
Published: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Length: 344 pages
Source: Publisher
Other info: This is Leah Thomas's debut. A sequel,  currently Nowhere Near You, should come in 2017.

Summary: Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.
A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

Review: Ollie is allergic to electricity-contact with devices means he'll have a seizure, or it will short out. Moritz was born without eyeballs and he has a pacemaker. And they live on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Still, they form a friendship, writing letters to each other, talking about their present and past.

I got sent this by the publishers. I didn't know what to expect, but the blurb looked good.
The story is told through the letters between Moritz and Ollie. Both write totally differently, reflecting their contrasting personalities. I think Ollie's style was more engaging, it is, for the most part, more enthusiastic, while Moritz is more controlled. However they're both styles that make you want to read on to learn about the characters, as they tell you about their struggles to interact with society, and their attempts to make it work.

Most of the book is telling us about the lives of the boys, separate from society for different reasons, but trying to interact. We meet friends like Liz, Fieke, and Owen, who help our main characters develop. I really liked watching Moritz and Ollie change, especially Ollie, as they both become more confident to do things on their own. Favourite moment- Moritz being taught how to read ink on paper.

When we do learn about their history, which seems quite late considering its focus in the blurb, for me, it's very out of the blue. I liked that we got a lot of coming of age and different stories, and this ending... I didn't see it coming, and it's a bit of a genre shift. Then again, I guess all the references to Daredevil does bring in some elements of it early...  I still prefer the friendship/growing up differently element of this story.  However, I did like the very ending, and the fact that you wonder about the stories of the other people who would be involved. I didn't see it coming, and There's a lot that could be written, in fanfic or by Thomas, or can be left open to your imagination.



Overall: Strength 4 tea to a story about an unusual friendship between two characters you love to watch.

Links: Amazon | Goodreads |  Foyles

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8. The Snowed In Winter Book Festival-The Story of Snow

Welcome to the Snowed-In Winter Book Festival!

Welcome to the Snowed-In Winter Book Festival!

One of the things I love most about winter is SNOW and being “snowed in” seems to happen frequently (whether officially…or “by choice”). So I’ve decided to dedicate an entire week of posts to our favorite snow books and the things we can do with them. Our book choice for this wonderful week of snow is The Story of Snow.
snow booklist

The Story of Snow by Mark Cassino celebrates the magic of snow through science, math, language arts, music, and visual art activities. The Story of Snow uses a brilliant balance of incorporating photographs of crystals, pen & ink drawings, text for 3 different reading levels, and uncovering the mystery of snow. It serves equally as both a fascinating non-fiction journey and an inspiring nature art book. For those who love snow, The Story of Snow opens the door of awe and wonder of the magnificent wet stuff and takes us on a personal journey.

Something To Do

Paper Snowflakes

paper snowflakes

When I think of snowflakes, I think of being a small child and cutting my very own out of paper. As a family we’ve spent countless hours doing the very same thing.

A Resource of snowflake patterns:

For small children who are learning how to use scissors or have just learned how to use scissors go to the snowflake creator here.

Here are eight simple snowflake patterns for ages 7 and up.

Here are 5 snowflake patterns good for ages 8 and up.

Here are 10 complex snowflake patterns for ages 9 and up.

Affirmation Snowflakes:: Letters from the Sky

 

Affirmation Snowflakes:: Letters from the Sky

snowflake affirmations

The Story of Snow ends with a quote from Japanese scientist Ukichiro Nakaya: “A snow crystal is a letter from the sky.”

Scientifically this is a true statement. Each snowflake will tell you what the temperature was when it was formed. How much moisture is there, and how it grew as it froze etc. All of the these great details are in The Story of Snow.

The ides of messages or letters from the sky got us thinking,wouldn’t it be great if we could catch snowflakes and save them for later ?

If we could, what would our messengers from the sky tell us?

Cut a few snowflakes from the instructions and templates above. Open up each snowflake and write a little message on it. I’ve given you some ideas below. Next fold them back up and put them in a jar. Each day pull out a snowflake and read it’s special message. You can also do this in reverse. Each day cut a snowflake and write a message then put it in the jar to pull it out again one day.

Affirmation Ideas:

  • I am awesome
  • I am very intelligent.
  • Learning is fun and exciting.
  • I have many gifts and talents.
  • I am unique and special.
  • My family, friends, and teachers love me for who I am.

Telling Time With Snow

snow clock

  • 12 x 12 white or off white scrap book paper or a paper plate.
  • Pencil and Ruler
  • Puffy Paint
  1. If using the scrap book paper, trace a dinner sized plate onto the paper.
  2. Starting with the number 12 and then moving onto 1, draw the numbers like a clock in the circle.
  3. To make a 6 sided snowflake we need to draw 6 guide lines. Draw one line from 12 to 6, another from 10 to 4, and the last line from 8 to 2.
  4. Using puffy paint in the color of your choice. Draw over the guide lines. Cover the ends of the lines in the center by making a little circle of puffy paint. Make a triangle at the top of each one and then some snowflake like designs working towards just under the triangle.
  5. Let dry.
  6. Hang on the wall, bulletin board, or fridge. Now we can honestly say it’s snow time.

Catch Your Own Snow Crystals

snow crystals

“Once a snow crystal lands, it starts to wither away. Snow crystals can’t keep growing after they fall from the clouds and soon breaks down. This means if you want to see a snow crystal, you need to catch it in the air,….”

You will Need:

  • A piece of dark cardboard of foam board. It should be about 8 x 10 inches. Make sure the cardboard is stiff enough to stay flat when held by one edge.
  • A magnifying glass so you can see the snow crystals better.

During the Snow Crystal Catching

  1. Put the cardboard or foam outside for at least ten minutes before catching snow. The board needs to be cold or else the snow will melt the second it hits the board. Make sure the board stays cold and dry.
  2. Gripping the board by one edge, hold the board out flat and watch as snow lands on it. If it’s snowing hard stand under a porch or patio so less snow falls on the board.
  3. Look at the smaller pieces of snow that land on the board. This is where you’ll find individual snow crystals. Use your magnifying glass to look at them closely.
  4. Once you’ve looked at them, shake off the board and try again.

Snow Storm in a Jar

snowstorm in a jar

What happens when you get a lot of snowflakes? A snow storm. Doing all of these snowflake activities had a wishing for a very large snow storm. Since one isn’t in the neighborhood, we decided to make one in the kitchen instead.

What you’ll need:

  • A tall or fat glass jar or something similar
  • Baby oil
  • White paint
  • Water
  • Iridescent glitter
  • Alka Seltzer

Fill the jar 3/4 of the way with baby oil. In a bowl mix together very warm water and white paint to make white water. In a bowl place enough warm water that will almost fill the top of the jar. Add white paint to the warm water and stir well. Once mixed pour the white water into the jar. Sprinkle in the glitter. Then wait for the glitter and water to settle at the bottom of the jar.

Once the water is settled it is time to make a snow storm! This is our favorite part !!! Take an Alka Seltzer tablet and break it into pieces. Have the kids drop the pieces into the jar and watch what happens

**Some of these links are affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may get a very small commission. This money goes towards postage and supplies to keep books and ideas in the hands of young readers!

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

Kids and nature go hand-and-hand and enjoying the bounty that the great outdoors brings is not just a “summer thing.” The newest book from children’s book authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters teaches families everywhere to enjoy not only the great outdoors with month-by-month activities, but to jump deeper into the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden! A Year in the Secret Garden is a delightful children’s book with over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!” More details HERE!
A Year in the Secret Garden

The post The Snowed In Winter Book Festival-The Story of Snow appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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9. The last word goes to Mo and Dale of Tupelo Landing

I can't let the year end without a shout out to Sheila Turnage's Mo and Dale.  Her latest Mo and Dale Mystery is The Odds of Getting Even (Penguin, 2015).  The Mo and Dale Mystery series is my favorite middle grade series. Each new book is as good as the last.  Each is filled with insightful humor, Southern-style hospitality, and all the eccentricities of small town living. The characters in Sheila Turnage's fictional town of Tupelo Landing, NC, will leave you begging for another chance to visit.

In The Odds of Getting Even, Mo and Dale, a.k.a. The Desperado Detectives, have another case on their hands.  Dale's no-good dad is on the lam and the whole town is on edge.

As usual, the café run by Mo and her "family of choice," the Colonel and Miss Lana, takes current events in stride,

I turned back to the Azalea Women. "Welcome and thank you in advance for your generous tips."  Generous tips equals a flat-out lie, but like Miss Lana says, you don't stop pitching just because nobody's swinging.  I draped a paper napkin over my arm. "Today, our Get Out of Jail Free Delight feature Free-Range Eggs, Potatoes at Large, and Bacon a la Parole.  We also got the Colonel's famous Tofu Incognito--a vegan delight featuring tofu scrambled up to look like somebody else.  A Special runs six dollars and includes a basket of All Rise Biscuits.  May I take your order?"

"Get Out of Jail and coffee," they chorused.  "How's Dale holding up?"

Once again, Sheila Turnage has written a book that deals with a serious topic (a father who is frequently on the wrong side of the law) in a humorous way. As narrator, Mo LoBeau offers up witty, often hilarious dialogue and commentary. There is much homespun wisdom in the the little town of Tupelo Landing.  Here are just a few examples from The Odds of Getting Even:

Mo (on the perceived indignity of wearing hand-me-down clothes):
"Dale's a musician.  He enjoys vintage outfits," ... "Besides, Miss Lana says most everything in life worth having is handed down."

Dale (voicing his opinion to a news reporter):
Your articles make it seem that way.  But a lot of people thinking flat don't change round.
Mo (her take on beauty):
Attila's face would be pretty if she didn't live behind it.
Dale (on "getting even"):
The only even you ever get is inside yourself--when you don't need to get even anymore.


If you haven't read them yet, don't miss the first two Mo and Dale Mystery novels.

Book 1

Three Times Lucky - a link to my review of the audiobook read by Michal Friedman
[http://shelf-employed.blogspot.com/2013/08/three-times-lucky-audiobook-review.html]

Book 2
The Ghost of Tupelo Landing - a link to my review for AudioFile Magazine
[http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/88494/]


0 Comments on The last word goes to Mo and Dale of Tupelo Landing as of 12/30/2015 1:02:00 PM
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10. My List of Top Ten YA Books of 2015

https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2559/4182826573_d82b2ff78a_o_d.jpg

It's been a great year for YA books!  This year, I accomplished my goal of reading 50 books in different formats (I'm really enjoying the wonder of e-books) and among that list is the cream of the crop titles I absolutely got lost in.  These titles are a mix of fiction and non-fiction, graphic novel and short stories and everything in between.  These aren't in any particular rank or order (other than alphabetical), as all of these books were absolutely amazing!  There are more than ten I could absolutely put on this list, but I took my time and really thought about the titles I chose and why.  So walk with me through my top 10 best of the best book for teens....

1. All The Rage by Courtney Summers
What struck me about this book is the powerful theme it contains.  Romy, the main character, faces the most intense hardships of high school - bullying, isolation, and being taken advantage of against her will.  These take Romy to the brink of a breakdown but her strength, family and the few she can trust help her not only deal with what she went through, but also makes her realize her own self-worth.





2. All We Have is Now by Lisa Schroeder
When I can read in a book in one setting, I know it's a book that should be on this list.  Emerson knows she has less than 48 hours to live - not due to illness, but to a meteor bearing down on the U.S. This novel shows how not only what happens to her, but others who decide to live the rest of their lives by fulfilling lifelong dreams, falling in love, and granting forgiveness.  What grabbed me are the different threads of lives Schroeder writes about that begin to interweave in unusual ways leading to a beautiful ending.




3. The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks
This is one of those books that people either loved or not and that's why it made my list.  Brooks' novel evokes powerful emotions from readers and what ultimately happens to the group of people who are victims of circumstance in this superbly suspenseful book.  Another reason why I put this book on the list is that the ending is so climactic and unexpected, most of the teens I know who've read it can't wrap their minds around the ending of it all.





4. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Fantasy fiction has become (or still is) a popular genre, and while so many I've read recently take place in another time and world, this book doesn't. Rowell writes an urban fantasy with quirky characters and villains in today's world where wizards co-exists with Normals.  VERY reminiscent of the Harry Potter series, Rowell brings back the magical fun the characters and the school creates that makes it such a refreshing read.  It's all about relationships first, conflict second and the ability to combine lighthearted reading with some dark places the readers get to explore.



5. Drowned City by Don Brown
Brown brings back into the spotlight the horrors, mistakes and redemptive circumstances that created the disaster of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.  This book tells the story not only through words but the powerful images depicted on the pages, allowing those to not only read it, but truly look at what happened and allow it to resonate in them.  This is one of the best graphic novels I've read not only because it brings an important event up in teens lives, but also because although it's a quick read, it stays there long after the last page is turned.

6. Hitler's Last Days by Bill O'Reilly
There are a few titles from O'Reilly's Killing series that have been adapted for young adults, and when there is, they become an important part of a YA collection because of the hidden history behind the event and person.  This is about Hitler, but also about World War II and how his decisions led to the ultimate downfall of one of the most evil people in history.  O'Reilly writes without any political motive, which makes this a book for all readers.  You may not like the author, but try not to transfer bias to a great YA non-fiction book.

7. Infinite in Between by Carolyn Mackler
Follow five teens as they enter high school and begin their four year tour. Any teen will be able to find a character to identify with, whether it be the most popular girl in school or the geekiest kid to enter high school.  Not only do you get to see how they change physically (case in point: freshmen year class picture to senior year) but also the relationships and conflicts that begin to create the person they are.  Its' definitely a St. Elmo's Fire meets The Breakfast Club kind of book you'll fall into.




8. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
It's not the flashy Marvel or DC graphic novel, but it's definitely a contender in attracting readers' attention through the clever use of dialogue and character.  Stevenson creates a meld of genres in this book.  She mixes a little fantasy with a bit of science fiction and adds a touch of historical fiction to create a fabulous graphic novel about friendships and enemies that holds a deeper meaning in what it means to be a true confidante and mentor.  I chuckled all the way through this book through Stevenson's dry and witty humor between the characters, especially Nimona and her unique talents.



9. Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt
There have been books that have made me shed a tear or two because of it's emotional impact, but this one jerked them right out of me because of its plot of love and loss.  Blending difficult days spent behind bars with a love story with the beauty of  adoption and foster care, Schmidt creates a character that has the weight of the world on his shoulders as well as the promise of new beginnings.  This isn't a book with lots of pages (in fact, it won't take hardly any time to read) but it makes up for it through the large emotional reach it'll have once the last page is turned.



10. Slasher Girls and Monster Boys edited by April G. Tucholke
This short story collection has the best YA authors that have written stories that are truly from the dark side.  This is horror at its best because it comes in small or large doses, depending on how much the reader can handle.  This isn't for those who get nightmares from reading YA horror and supernatural, but will definitely delight those who enjoy walking on the side tainted by dark evil and revenge.





And one to grow on....

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
This is a slice of science fiction that takes place completely in outer space. There aren't a hundred characters, planets and ships to keep track of.  One plot, one (or two) huge conflicts, and two main characters makes this book readable and enjoyable for those  who can't manage to keep track of too much.  The authors write the story through transcripts, text messages, secret documents and  file and this is what makes it a standout.  While reading this, I saw it as a movie in my mind...excellent sign of a great YA read!!




Now, bring on 2016!!!

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11. Kishaz Reading Corner: Alienated by Melissa Landers

About the Book


Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L'eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she'll have inside information about the mysterious L'eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara's blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn't sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L'eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn't seem more alien. She's certain about one thing though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn't just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life-not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.


Buy the Book


Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 5 stars

Here's why:

Disclaimer: I got this book from the public library and have received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.

I think a miracle has occurred. I'm giving out another 5-star rating. Good sci-fi is hard to find and when it comes in the YA market, it's even more remarkable.

Aelyx and Cara are in my top five couples on my reading list this year. Cara's spunky, fire and passion are everything you want to see in a lead. Aelyx, are visiting alien, was a perfect foil to Cara.

Fireworks are the least of the couple's problems when you have xenophobia, hatred and lies thrown into the mix. This is the first in a series and I've already snagged the short story (currently free on Amazon. You can grab it here) and will be heading to my local library for the sequel.


Would I recommend this? Yes and I would also recommend this one for guys, too.

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12. Kishaz Reading Corner: A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear

About the Book

A Companion to Wolves is the story of a young nobleman, Isolfr, who is chosen to become a wolfcarl -- a warrior who is bonded to a fighting wolf. Isolfr is deeply drawn to the wolves, and though as his father's heir he can refuse the call, he chooses to go.

The people of this wintry land depend on the wolfcarls to protect them from the threat of trolls and wyverns, though the supernatural creatures have not come in force for many years. Men are growing too confident. The wolfhealls are small, and the lords give them less respect than in former years. But the winter of Isolfr's bonding, the trolls come down from the north in far greater numbers than before, and the holding's complaisance gives way to terror in the dark.

Isolfr, now bonded to a queen wolf, Viradechtis, must learn where his honor lies, and discover the lengths to which he will to go when it, and love for his wolf, drive him.


Buy the Book


Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 4.5 stars

Here's why:

Disclaimer: I got this book from the public library and have received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.

I want to first say that this book was nothing like what I thought it was going to be and then turned out to be more in some areas.

I know, I'm talking in circles but this book threw me for loops at every turn. I do want to say up front that if you are against m/m pairings or anything related to m/m romantic elements, you might not like this book.

With that being said, the writing by both authors was a work of art. Once I started reading, I very reluctantly put it down (and that's only because I need to sleep) but quickly resumed reading the next day.

Watching Isolfr grow up and navigate his new life as well as the adventure/battle aspect of the plot was worthwhile. I can't really say more because I'm afraid of giving out spoilers.

I will be reading the next book in this series because I'm interested in the world that these two authors have created.


Would I recommend this? Only for those not squeamish about certain topics.

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13. Exploring the realm of space: Finn’s Rocket Book Review

The world is a place to be explored, and in Finn’s Rocket, Finn and his little Sister Gabriella go beyond the bounds of earth into the little-explored realm of space. But this was not exactly in the plans for these two siblings.
Both Gabi and Finn are very intelligent, which wins them both spots at a space camp at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Gabi gets to learn all about being an astronaut, while Finn gets to play with rocket fuel and explore the mechanics of space travel.

Finn's Rocket

However, neither of them are able to see the evil plot that the camp’s commander, Commander Morton, has been planning, and unfortunately, Gabi fits all of the qualifications for this deranged woman’s experiment. After running a series of tests on the young girl, Commander Morton deems her fit for space travel, unknown to Gabi. In the middle of the night, Gabi is brought to Morton; her sleeping area is cleared out, and a story is created about some serious illness that caused Gabi to leave camp early. Except while Commander Morton has been developing this elaborate plan, she failed to double check that all evidence of Gabi was gone—a young girl would never leave her favorite stuffed penguin or her cell phone. So when Gabi’s new friend Wendy finds them, she realizes that something fishy is going on at the space center.

After news of Gabi’s disappearance leaks, one of the camp counselors shares her theory about Commander Morton’s plot with a terrified Finn. Even with video evidence no one, not even his parents, believes that Morton would send a young, unprepared girl into space without any intention of bringing her home. So Finn has no choice. He has to go to the International Space Station and save his sister on his own. So with his two best friends, Axel and Burrito, Finn travels across the world to Sweden where he is lucky enough to convince an entrepreneur to give him a ride on the first ever tourist space shuttle.

Will Finn rescue Gabi? Will Commander Morton get away with her evil plot? You’ll just have to read to find out!
This was such an exciting book! It has sports, nature, treachery, deranged-wanna-be astronauts, and a couple of awesome, empowering kids! What more could a book need? Finn’s Rocket touches on the power of sibling bonds, the hearing impaired, and the exciting yet terrifying idea of space exploration. Definitely a good read, and I would definitely continue following Finn’s story with Finn’s Ship and Finn’s car. Grab your copy of Finn’s Rocket here.

Author Serena Schreiber has a whole series of Finn books if you liked this one and she writes adult fiction as well. Be sure to visit her site to see all of her offerings and don’t forget her blog. It’s a lot of fun and packed with adventure.

Something To Do:
1. Eating like an astronaut:
It’s very simple really. All you do is put anything that can be consumed through a straw, zip it up in a plastic bag with a straw, an slurp slurp! You’re eating like an astronaut!

astronaut activities
2. Build your own soda rocket (from Lemon Lime Adventures)

astronaut adventures

3. Sign language basics (so you can communicate with Gabi in space)
learning sign language
4. Fun Facts about Space Travel:

  • ~It takes 3 to 5 days for a spacecraft to reach the moon.
  • ~A space suit can weigh between 50 and 350 pounds—on Earth, that is.
  • ~There is no sound in space because of the lack of air.
  • ~Recent technology allows the use of phones in space.
  • ~Since 2000, permanent crews have been living and working in space at the International Space Station.
  • ~You become taller in Space.
  • ~In space, the skin on your feet peels off!
  • ~The word astronaut comes from the Greek word “Astron” which means star and “nautes” which means sailor.
  • The Russian cosmonaut has a similar meaning from ‘kosmos’ meaning universe and again “nautes” sailor.

5. This fun activity will teach you a little bit about rockets. It is from one of NASA‘s educational websites and the great rocket template you’ll find below is provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. LOVE all the resources on Kitchen Pantry Scientist!

astronaut activities

LAST DAY!!!!As the holiday season approaches, consider adding the gift of books to your shopping list. There are many wonderful booklists available for parents looking to give their child the gift of reading and adventure. A book makes a great gift because they are meaningful, beautiful, portable, appealing, and inexpensive and it’s a gift that can be opened again and again. Books are the perfect gift for any age and a gift that doesn’t require batteries or sizing instruction!

Book love sale

If you would like to get started on your family reading adventure, or would just like to add to your family bookshelf, Audrey Press has some special deals on their catalog of books to get readers and gift-givers on their merry way. From November 30th to December 15th, give the gift of reading, adventure and education at extra-special (and extended) Black Friday prices! Go here for the full scoop on the Holiday Book Love Sale!

The post Exploring the realm of space: Finn’s Rocket Book Review appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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14. Book Review: The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom…

I was looking for a book to take with me on my recent holiday (something light and easy to read)—so when I saw the title of this book, my heart almost stopped. Huh? Another book using the name time keeper? Perish the thought! And not written by just any author, but by Mitch Albom who has rubbed elbows with the rich and famous, including being Oprah’s Book Club pick. I reached for the book and checked the publication date. To my surprise The Time Keeper was published in 2012, the same year as the first book in my young adult time travel series, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis came out through my former publisher. Coincidence? I think not.

Here’s the gist of this novel…

The Time Keeper is a compelling fable about the first man on earth to count the hours. The man who became Father Time.

In The Time Keeper, the inventor of the world’s first clock is punished for trying to measure God’s greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years. Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.

He returns to our world-now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began-and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, he must save them both. And stop the world to do so.

After reading The Time Keeper, I found Albom truly has a gift for words. He has a unique brand of storytelling, one I’ve never come across before, which made this book flow easily. The tale is original and inspirational. At first, I wasn’t quite sure how to read Albom’s prose, but soon I found that I couldn’t put it down. I’d get to the end of one chapter, then was hooked into the next one. Although Albom’s spiritual convictions shine through, he’s not preachy, and leaves room for his readers’ imagination to percolate throughout the story. I loved the way certain myths were introduced into the mix—the Tower of Babel and Father Time—to give the story an air of familiarity. All and all, this book is worth the investment of your time, whether on vacation or cozying up on the couch at home.

 
Having read this book made me stop and think about how I spend my time and what is truly important in my life. Trust me, when you’re on your death bed, you’re not going to wish you could have spent more hours at work. Life is all about relationships, how you treat others and how you treat them. Life is about what makes you happy, what fulfills you. Just to stop and be still in the moment—now that’s a gift you can’t count.

So what about you? Read any good books lately? Would love to hear your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

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15. Slasher Girls and Monster Boys: A Bloody Good Read!

Penguin, 2015

Let me begin by saying if you LOVE horror fiction, you MUST pick up this amazing story collection!  Written by some well-known YA authors (think Carrie Ryan and Jonathan Maberry to name a few), the stories compiled with make you cringe while you keep reading story after story to see what terror the next tale holds.

April Genevieve Tucholke put together an amazing compilation with the idea of writing a new story from classic ones not only from books, but also from movies and television as well.  Each author, at the end of their dark tale, lets the readers know what inspired them to create their short story.

But it's the short stories which are downright horror(ibly) amazing.  There are fourteen short stories altogether, but here's a quick rundown of my favorites:

The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma: Three girls, all friends, think they know about the creepy guy who lives next door. Leonard may have the neighborhood fooled with his kindness and baked goods, but the girls get creeped out every time he looks at them.  And one night, Leonard brings a beautiful girl home and Tasha, Katie-Marie and Paisley see him sneak her in but they never see her again, except a few times through windows.  Something's not right, and they're about to find out how not right the situation becomes...

In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan: Cassidy has seen him in the forest since she was seven years old.  It all began when she discovered a most beautiful spot in the woods with a table in the clearing.  Perfect for tea parties!  But she felt someone watching her and out stepped the March Hare, the size of a man, dressed like a man, but not a man at all.  She knew he was watching her, but was it for good or evil?  Now at seventeen, she goes back to the woods but it's not longer tea she brings with her.  Cassidy thought the horrible tea party she became a part of was in the past, but then she sees the shadow of the March Hare again...

Sleepless by Jay Kristoff: Justin is in love, even though he's never met her.  He doesn't even know her real name, just her online one: 2muchcoff33_girl.  Neither of them sleep very well and their online conversations go from cameraderie to flirting to beginning to actually want to meet each other.  Of course, there are barriers Justin will have to overcome, like his overprotective mother, who constantly reminds him of how evil girls are.  But it doesn't matter.  He knows she was fated for him.  He's taken his time wooing his last three girl friends, even if the relationships didn't work out, and he's willing to try again  with 2muchcoff33_girl because he knows she's different and they'll work things out....

Stitches by A.G. Howard: Sage, Clover and Oakley lost their Ma, the gentle one.  Now all they're left with is Pa, who drinks to much, disappears too long, and hits too hard.  They live in the middle of nowhere with very little but themselves until they meet The Collector and he changes their world.  Pa got in trouble in town and The Collector came to help.  He wants to make Pa a better person, and for each visit he makes to the house, the children begin to see a definite difference in Pa.  He's kinder, gentler, not prone to drink.  But when Clover finally finds out the horrible truth about why, she's intent on revenge and goes to seek The Collector to exact it...


A summary of this story collection is best summed up by April Genevieve Tucholke's dedication,

                                        "For everyone who read Stephen King
                                         when they were way too young."


Recommended upper HS and beyond


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16. Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett

2015, G.P. Putnam's Sons

Ash is laying on the table, ready for another tattoo.  Rhys, her twin brother, can't stay beside her because he can't stand the pain or the sight of blood.  But their mother is there, putting another protection mark on her daughter...

Ash has seen the dead girl for quite awhile now. Although this frightens her, what's even more disturbing is how both she and the dead girl look alike.  No one else can see the dead girl, and now the sightings are becoming more frequent, even with the protection symbols on her body.

Ash and Rhys's mother spends most of her time upstairs in her workroom creating unusual and exotic perfumes to sell.  She also has quirky habits and tells the twins stories about a small town called Quivira and how she and their father were chosen to walk the corn in honor of Katia, who is an eternal being guarding the townspeople from being killed by Coronado, another eternal being who killed Katia's only daughter.  Ash and Rhys scoff at these stories and believe they sound more like a cult following than a quaint town.

Ash is prone to blackouts when she sees the dead girl and after having one, she rushes home knowing something is wrong.  Once she gets to their apartment, she and Rhys open her mother's workroom to find it filled with black crows, a dark omen, and the absence of their mother.

Ash has a gut feeling her mother is in danger and decides to drive to Kansas to find Quivira and bring her mother back.  Rhys is more reluctant, thinking they're driving into a dangerous cult and although he tries to dissuade her, it doesn't happen.  When they get to the point on the map where the town should be, they find themselves surrounded by corn fields with no town in sight.  Now they must walk the corn...

Kim Liggett has crafted a fantasy horror novel that takes the reader into two very different worlds - one we all know and understand, and the other a place that's more reminiscent of the 1800s and completely set apart from all humanity.  Her novel is also one of opposites.  Families within Quivira, the twins, Ash and Dane, and even the eternal ones all create a divide where the reader isn't sure who is telling the truth and who is lying.  As the novel progresses, so do the characters and with this progression, all is revealed with a surprising twist.  

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17. Kishaz Reading Corner: Blood Assassin by Alexandra Ivy


About the Book

They are the outcasts of humanity. Blessed with power. Cursed by fate. Driven by passion. The Sentinels have returned. . .

Out Of The Shadows

At six-foot-three and two-hundred-fifty pounds, Fane is a natural born guardian. A flawless mix of muscled perfection and steely precision, he has devoted years of his life to protecting a beautiful necromancer. But after she found love in the arms of another, Fane has been a warrior adrift. He swears allegiance only to the Sentinels. And no woman will ever rule his heart again. . .

Into The Fire

Not only a powerful psychic, Serra is that rare telepath who can connect to minds through objects. When the daughter of a high-blood businessman is kidnapped, Serra agrees to help. But when she stumbles onto a conspiracy involving secrets sects and ancient relics, her life is in mortal danger--and Fane is her only hope. Is the warrior willing to risk his body, his soul, and his heart, for Serra? Or will one last betrayal destroy them both?


Buy the Book


Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 4.5 stars

Here's why:

Disclaimer: I got this book from the public library and have received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.

It's getting hot in here and yes clothes definitely were coming off. But I regress.

First I want to say that I like the main characters' names - Serra and Fane.

The fact that they both knew how to take care of business and handle themselves in a fight was great. The romance and heat between the pair has been building for a while now and when we get to read their story in this book, let's just say fireworks have nothing on the sparks and inferno of this pairing.

The strengths of both complement and help fill the weaknesses in each other. I read this book in one sitting and would do so again, any time.


Would I recommend this? Yes! Tall, dark, smoldering and a warrior....checklist complete.

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18. Bunjitsu Bunny's Best Move - a review

Bunjitsu Bunny's Best Move


by John Himmelman
(Henry Holt, 2015)

When Bunjitsu Bunny's Best Move came across my desk, my nose wrinkled and I thought, "Oh, this is going to be goofy."  But yet, I loved the cover art, and dove in anyway - taking it on my lunch break.  I'm so glad I did.

In fourteen, short, illustrated chapters, Isabel, John Himmelman's "bunjitsu" expert, learns important lessons of wisdom that are the perfect complement to her martial arts prowess.  In the second chapter, "Bunjitsu Bunny Fails," the usually perfect Isabel fails to master the "bunchucks."  She is profoundly disappointed,

     "You should not be unhappy," said Teacher.
     "But everyone passed the test except me," said Isabel.
     "Do you know what you did wrong?" asked Teacher.
     "Yes," said Isabel.
     "Can you do better?" asked Teacher.
     "Yes," said Isabel.
     "Lucky you," said Teacher. "They passed the test, but you learned the most."
Bunjitsu Bunny learns wisdom through action and observation.  Her lessons are similar to those imparted in John Muth's award-winning Zen Shorts picture books. However, the Bunjitsu Bunny books are simple chapter books for a suggested age range of 6-8 years.  The words are large, and the red, black and white illustrations are bold and full of expression.  The final chapter includes instructions for making an origami bunny face. Bunjitsu Bunny is a winner.

This is the second book in the series.  The first was Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny. (Images and excerpts here: [http://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250068064]) 


Bunjitsu Bunny is similar in reading level with one of my other favorites, Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson books.  I reviewed Mercy Watson to the Rescue in 2012


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19. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine




Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is a creative retelling of Cinderella. As a baby, Ella was cursed by a fairy to obey any orders that were given to her, no matter what they were. So when her mother dies and her father remarries, Ella must live with her stepsisters, Hattie and Olive. Quickly, Hattie discovers that Ella will obey her and uses that knowledge to her advantage. Instead of being treated as an equal, Ella is forced to be her stepfamily's servant.

Ella meets Prince Char. Together, they have exciting adventures. Slowly, they fall in love, but she knows that if she marries him, an enemy of the throne could command her to do something awful to him. She struggles to protect him and break the curse, but it seems impossible with such a burden as hers. Will she ever gain the freedom required to be with her true love?

-Grace


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20. Review: The House By The Lake by Thomas Harding

This is history writing at it’s finest. Taking a small microcosm to tell the story of a country over the last 100 years. On a trip to Berlin in 2013 author Thomas Harding visited the summer lake house his great-grandfather built. Upon discovering the house in disrepair and scheduled for demolition Harding began researching the […]

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21. Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge November 2015 - Cursed by Ice by Jacquelyn Frank

About the Book

As punishment for plotting with his brothers to steal immortality, Garreth is suffering a freezing torment until the end of time. Again and again, his fierce fighter’s physique is frozen into a chiseled ice sculpture, his heart hardening like a diamond in his chest—only to thaw and resume the chilling torture. Until, like his older brother Dethan, he is offered a reprieve from a goddess—in exchange for his allegiance in a celestial civil war.

Garreth lives to fight and fights to live. But while laying siege to an embattled city, he finds another reason to go on—a beautiful warrior woman named Sarielle, who commands a mythic beast through a mysterious and powerful bond. Terrified of her strength, the city rulers have kept her captive, and now she refuses to submit to a new master. As Garreth seeks to unleash her passion and melt the icy resistance of her heart, will he become her ultimate salvation—or lead them both to greater destruction?

Buy the Book



Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 4 stars

Here's why:


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

This is the second book in this series. You can read my review of the first one here.

This story focuses on Garreth, the warrior cursed to freeze at night. He tries to have icy control over his heart and emotions but all that gets disrupted by innocent and vulnerable Sarielle whose heart is just as chilled and guarded as his.

The mix of jaded warrior (Garreth) versus innocent, yet stubborn protector (Sarielle) made the story a decent read. This one took me longer to read than the first one and I can't quite pinpoint why. Overall, so far, this series is pretty good.


Would I recommend this? This sequel keeps the pace set by the first. If you like to finish a series then yes, go for it.


Don't forget to get the first book in this series

For centuries, Dethan has been trapped in a fiery inferno for defying the gods and snatching the power of immortality. Condemned to have his battle-hardened body licked by flames only to regenerate and be consumed all over again, Dethan has lost all hope—until the Goddess of Conflict appears. She will release him from torment—if he’ll use his power and strength as a warrior to raise an army and defeat a fierce enemy faction of gods.

Free to live as a man once again, Dethan meets Selinda—heir to the throne of Hexis—and his thoughts quickly turn from the conquest of cities to the conquest of this headstrong beauty. Betrothed to a cruel, calculating powermonger, Selinda needs a champion, and so Dethan enters into another bargain: If she will share her bed—and her body—with him, Dethan will save her city from destructive forces within and without. As the lovers ignite a searing passion, Dethan will risk all—even the wrath of the Goddess of Conflict—for a chance to make Selinda his forever.

Buy the Book


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22. Kishaz Reading Corner: Lair of the Lion by Christine Feehan


About the Book

Lair of the Lion is a  dark-edged and enthralling take on the beloved “Beauty and the Beast” fairy tale. It is the breathtaking story of a beautiful, penniless aristocrat who promises herself to the handsome, powerful, mysterious, and not wholly human Don Nicolai DeMarco in order to free her imprisoned brother—even though legend has it that the Don will destroy any woman he weds.

Buy the Book


Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 4.5 stars

Here's why:

Disclaimer: I got this book from the public library and have received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.

My paranormal romance reads so far this last half of the year have not been disappointing. See, browsing a library can bring good things your way.

This is not one of her more recent works (Lair of the Lion was published in 2010) but it still has all the hallmarks of Feehan's style that I enjoy.

The heroine in this story is not shrinking violet which was fun to watch as she pitted her will against the hero/antihero, Don Nicolai DeMarco's "cursed" existence. The characters were complex and pretty well developed so that I didn't feel like I was reading about "token fodder" for the sake of the plot.

There were a few twists that I honestly didn't see coming and can't list because they would spoil the book.

Would I recommend this? Yes, especially for those who love saucy heroines.

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23. The Blackthorn Key - an audiobook review

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
Read by Ray Panthacki
Simon & Schuster Audio, 2015
7.25 hrs
Grades 5-9


Christopher Rowe, is a lucky lad.  Plucked from the orphanage for his intellectual potential, Christopher is apprenticed to the kindly apothecary, Master Benedict Blackthorn. Despite his lowly upbringing, relayed by narrator Ray Panthacki's hint of a Cockney accent, Christopher receives training in Latin, astronomy, ciphers, potions, and other tools of the apothecary's trade. In the midst of a suspicious atmosphere following great political upheaval, a mysterious cult of murderers arises. Christopher will need all his skills and more to decode a series of clues to a dangerous plot that threatens to upset the balance of world power. Panthacki clearly defines each of The Blackthorn Key's large cast of characters, creating distinctive voices that reflect their standing in British society.  Christopher's best friend is Tom, an apprentice baker.  Like Harry Potter and Ron, they are a memorable pair, and their dialogue sounds honest and warm.   Whether in terror, danger, or mere horseplay, the listener feels the emotion in and between the characters.  The only thing that slows the pace of adventure in this gripping mystery is the occasional reading of lengthy ciphers. Print readers may well try their hand at decoding them, but for listeners, they're primarily a drag on the action. The setting is as rich as the plot in this mid-17th century adventure brought to life by veteran actor Ray Panthacki.

 


My review copy was provided by AudioFile MagazineMy review of The Blackthorn Key for AudioFile Magazine (along with an audio excerpt) appears here. [http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/107274/]

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24. Book Review- The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

Title: The Penelopiad
Author: Margaret Atwood
Series: Canongate Myths
Published:  October 2005
Length:  198 pages
Source: library
Other info: Atwood has written many things, such as The Blind Assassin, The Handmaid's Tale, and The Heart Goes Last. The Penelopiad was written as part of the Canongate Myths series.
Summary : For Penelope, wife of Odysseus, maintaining a kingdom while her husband was off fighting the Trojan war was not a simple business. Already aggrieved that he had been lured away due to the shocking behaviour of her beautiful cousin Helen, Penelope must bring up her wayward son, face down scandalous rumours and keep over a hundred lustful, greedy and bloodthirsty suitors at bay...And then, when Odysseus finally returns and slaughters the murderous suitors, he brutally hangs Penelope's twelve beloved maids. What were his motives? And what was Penelope really up to? 

Review: Since her husband Odysseus left to fight in the Trojan War, and then gets caught up for ten years on the way back, Penelope has been left running her household, and fighting off suitors who want to marry her, and eat her out of house and home. Now that she's dead, she's ready to tell her side of the tale, as are the twelve maids who were hanged.
According to Goodreads, I read this a few years ago and gave it three stars, but I don't remember doing that. Now I know the Odyssey a bit more, and we're doing a feminist-orientated piece of English coursework, I decided to pick this up, and now I understand things better, I loved it.
There's reinterpretations and challenges to the characters and stories. Obviously, there's those against Odysseus, where there's the question of whether the Cyclops he fought was a monster or a one-eyed barkeeper, and whether his years with Circe and Calypso were spent in brothels or nymphs and witches. But there's also a conversation with Antinous, one of the suitors, explaining why they wanted to marry Penelope so much, and the presentation of Helen as vain, proud, and wanting to conquer men just because she can. Atwood has taken inspiration from multiple sources, not just Homer's epic, but also theories from Robert Graves (who used many writers to inform his work) and Homeric hymns. I like the possibilities this gave Atwood to work with, and the ways she used them.
Penelope's voice often dryly comments on various parts of the stories, and I enjoyed her different insights. What I liked most was the use of the chorus, the twelve maids, whose chapters mostly alternate with Penelope's and change styles each time. Poems, songs, plays, and a transcript of a modern-day murder trial are some of the ways the maids pass their story on in many ways. The writing is well crafted, allowing each of the styles as well as Penelope's main narration to work together to make a story that is intriguing and easy to read.

Overall: Strength 5 tea to a book that makes you think about the different interpretations a myth can have, and provides a new one.



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25. Kishaz Reading Corner: The Star King by Susan Grant

About the Book

Lair of the Lion is a  dark-edged and enthralling take on the beloved “Beauty and the Beast” fairy tale. It is the breathtaking story of a beautiful, penniless aristocrat who promises herself to the handsome, powerful, mysterious, and not wholly human Don Nicolai DeMarco in order to free her imprisoned brother—even though legend has it that the Don will destroy any woman he weds.

Buy the Book


Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 4 stars

Here's why:

Disclaimer: I got this book from the public library and have received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.

So, I've been doing mostly paranormal reads and thought it prudent to vary up my reading diet with other types of romances.

I've not found that many good science fiction romances, but I'd heard that Ms. Grant was really good at the genre so I picked up this title and decided to give her a shot.

I'm glad that I did. This book started with a literal bang and maintained a nice balance between action, adventure and romance. Plucky heroine with a hero that really has a heart of gold but tries to hide it because it's led to heartache for him.

The worldbuilding was pretty awesome and I could really picture each planet that was visited.


Would I recommend this? Yes. Give yourself the treat of this out-of-this world experience.

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