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1. Thoughts for a Thursday

I'm blogging at the ALSC blog today with a post on "Putting it all together" - books, technology, creative space, diversity, and kids.  Please hop over and check it out. 

In other news, if you haven't checked out the new lineup yet, SYNC will  be returning on May 7th.  As they do every summer, they will offer free downloads of classic books paired with current books with a similar theme.  Each week features a different pairing. Week #1 begins with Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, paired with Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

And finally, here's a link to an audio book review that I wrote for AudioFile Magazine.  I don't think I ever posted it here. The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story by R.J. Palacio, read by Mike Chamberlain.  Brilliance Audio, 2014. 

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2. K is for Katrina and Winter by Nancy Stewart - A to Z 2015 Challenge

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->


Title:                           Katrina and Winter: Partners in Courage
Written by:                 Nancy Stewart
Hard cover:                 26 pages
Ages:                           8-12
Publisher:                    Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
Hard cover ISBN 13:  9781616332426
Published:                   April 2012
Pages:                          26
Print Price:                  $19.94


Connection between living creatures is essential to our soul and well being. Love, understanding, empathy, and a purpose for one’s life certainly helps a person flourish; especially in the face of adversity.

Meet Katrina Simpkins, a special young lady, who strives to be “so called normal” but because of her prosthesis leg she is anything but. That is until the day she meets Winter, a tailless dolphin who resides at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. From the moment Katrina and Winter meet there is an instant bond, which neither time nor distance can break. Inspired by Winter’s own adversity, Katrina’s life is transformed into triumphs to be celebrated.
Visit with Katrina Simpkins and Winter the dolphin in this heartwarming and awe inspiring true life story of how acceptance and love exceeds all.

Visit with Amazon best-selling and award-winning author, Nancy Stewart to learn more about her illustrious writing career and background bringing her passions full circle www.nancystewartbooks.com and www.nancystewartbooks.blogspot.com.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

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

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

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ New England Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

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

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3. Who Was Harriet Beecher Stowe? a review

I have to admit, that Who Was Harriet Beecher Stowe? is the first I've read in the Who Was ... ? series.  When I first began receiving them a year or so ago, I thought that kids would be turned off by the caricature cover art.  I was wrong.  They have been quite popular for biography assignments. One reason is because Grosset & Dunlap (Penguin) was smart enough to make them each about 100 pages long.  (Teachers, I do wish you would be less strict with page counts, particularly in nonfiction.  Kids miss out on a lot of great books because they're trying to reach that magic number.)

In any case, I am pleased to see that the latest entry into the Who Was? series is writer Harriet Beecher Stowe, best known for her book Uncle Tom's Cabin, or for being, as President Lincoln said,  "the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war."

Rau, Dana Meachen. 2015. Who Was Harriet Beecher Stowe? New York: Grosset & Dunlap.

The first chapter bears the title of the book, "Who Was Harriet Beecher Stowe?" and gives a very brief synopsis of her life and its impact on history.  Other chapters elaborate on her personal life and her book, Uncle Tom's Cabin.  Today's young readers should find it fascinating that in an age before telephones, radios, televisions and computers, the publication of this one book made Harriet Beecher Stowe a wealthy and well-known celebrity in the U.S. and Europe, and it helped bring about the end of slavery by changing public opinion.

The book is illustrated with black and white drawings, and also contains several double-spread illustrations featuring background information that is necessary to gain an understanding of the era. These inset illustrations explain The Famous Beecher Family, The Underground Railroad, The Congregational Church, and Frederick Douglass.

The story of Harriet Beecher Stowe is a perfect illustration of the power of the pen. Hopefully, it will inspire young readers to seek out a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin in the future.

Rounding out the book are time lines and a bibliography.

Who Was Harriet Beecher Stowe? will be on a shelf near you on 4/21/15. My copy was provided by the publisher.


Following on the heels of the Who Was... series' popularity, there is a  What Was ... series and now, a Where Is... series.  Details on all three series may be found on the publisher's site.

Learn more about Harriet Beecher Stowe at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.  If you've never read Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, there are numerous free copies available in various formats from Project Gutenberg.

Today is Nonfiction Monday.  Stop over to see all of today's reviews.


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4. Review – Nobody Is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey

I grabbed this book solely on the back of a tweet from Joss Whedon but it then languished in my TBR pile for months. With the book finally being released in Australia I thought it was time to pick it up and was immediately sucked in. Catherine Lacey’s writing style is electrifying. She skillfully balances […]

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5. Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge


Amulet Books, May 2015

Triss has woken up, not really knowing what happened before.  She vaguely remembers who she is, where she’s from, or who her family is.  Triss is also afraid.  She sees the dolls she’s always loved since childhood, watching her as she moves around the room, calling to her.  Is it her mind playing tricks on her or is it really happening?  All she knows is she’s ravenously hungry…

When the Crescents arrive home after their fatal holiday, they also begin to notice changes in their beloved daughter.  She’s eating everything set before her as well as everything in the pantry.  She begins to snoop on her parents’ conversation instead of being the docile and obedient daughter she once was.  The only thing that hasn’t changed is her little sister’s utter contempt and hatred for her. 

Triss begins to notice changes in herself she desperately tries to hide.  Leaves fall from her hair and dirt ends up in her bed and nightgown.  She’s eaten some of the dolls in the room and has even gone outside to devour the rotten apples no longer clinging to the trees.  These slow changes come to fruition when she realizes exactly who she is…and she’s not Triss.

Pen, her little sister, has been in contact with the Architect, a dark man who is handsomely disguised, driving a beautifully menacing black Daimler.  He’s the one who had the power to bring Triss to life and trade her for the real Triss.  He also isn’t finished with the havoc he wants to reap on Piers Crescent and him family for the binding agreement Piers made with him.  Something dark and personal…  Triss realizes she needs to help not only stop to the Architect and the Besiders from hurting the real Triss, but also from hurting her as well. 

Set in the backdrop of England after World War I, the reader will get completely lost is the magical realism Hardinge writes.  You’ll meet characters like Violet, a girl who loves jazz and rides a motorcycle but always is running from the winter she brings to Mr. Grace, a tailor who wields his scissors with talent along with the beautiful tea cakes he sets before his guests to the family dynamics of the Crescents, who don’t like change in a world on the tip of tremendous transformation.    Hardinge takes everything from a magical period in history and blends it with the magic in the book portrayed from the sympathetic Triss to the ruthlessness of the Architect to the strange creatures called the Besiders who live within the bridges and buildings of the city.  EXCELLENT read and highly recommended for JH/HS.

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6. The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Orion, 2015


Mare Barrow lives in a world divided between the wealthy (the Silvers) and the poor (The Reds). Her days consist of pick-pocketing to help her family survive.  Her father, a veteran of the war, cannot help so she and her sister take on work, either legal or illegal, to supply what little food and electricity they can.


The lives between the Silvers and the Reds run in completely separate veins.  Mare, her family, Kilorn (her best friend), and everyone else living in poverty in the Stilts are Reds.  They have nothing special about them except to ensure Silvers' lives of leisure.  The blood that runs through their them is even mundane...red. 

Silvers, on the other hand, not only have money and power, but are also gifted with extraordinary abilities.  Some can manipulate water, other can read your minds, still others are strong enough to crush rock with their bare hands.  There are fire starters, swifts, greeneys, and stoneskins, to name a few, and ever Silver is not only gifted with an ability, but their blood also runs silver, a beautiful and rich color.

Life in the Stilts is about to get worse for Mare Barrow's family.  When her sister can no longer work, Mare goes into full mode pick-pocketing.  Her best friend Kilorn, whom Mare has known since childhood, is in danger of being conscripted to fight in a battle between the Lakelanders and the Norta, which has lasted decades and decades.  His leaving is tearing at Mare, and she'll do anything to stop this from happening.

One fateful night will forever change the destiny of not only Mare, but her family's and Kilorn's as well.  Once a roamer of the streets, Mare is now at the Silvers monarchy's summer palace to serve and it's there that she unleashes a power unlike anything ever seen. But how can a Red have the abilities of a Silver?

Mare's life becomes a whirlwind where she now needs to balance two opposing sides - first as a newly formed future princess and pawn to a crown prince and secondly, as part of a hidden renegade group of Reds wanting to take down the hierarchy. But which life will she fight hardest for and whose trust will turn out to be a lie?


This is a novel that fantasy readers have been waiting for.  From the land where Reds and Silvers live to the individual powers displayed, to the deep and cunning nature of the renegades, Aveyard has created a sweeping fantasy that enchants and intrigues the reader to keep trying to figure out the twists, plots, schemes and relationships it presents.  Mare is a strong main character and the two characters vying for her attention in different ways create a polarity in personality that makes this book work.  The only thing missing is a map of this new world Aveyard has created, but those with enough fantastical imagination can create one of their own easily through the richness of the setting written in this new fanasty for YA.  Highly recommended for JH/HS

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7. Book review and giveaway- Delete by Kim Curran

Today, Faber Academy and I are kicking off the blog tour for Kim Curran's DELETE! It's had a bit of trouble getting out, due to the closure of Strange Chemistry, but it's coming and it's having a blog tour! 


Title:   Delete

Author:  Kim Curran
Series:    Shift #3
Published:   31 March 2015 by Xist Publishing
Length:  230 pages
Source: Strange Chemistry ARC
Other info: I reviewed Shift and Control and really enjoyed them! I’ve also had Kim over to talk about shifting in real life, and about her other book, Glaze (which I also reviewed).
Summary : The country is at war. Beset by enemies within and without. And all because of the decisions changed by one boy, Scott Tyler. In this ravaged alternative reality, Scott hardly recognises himself. He's a war hero, a leader of a unit of Shifters and maybe the only one who can prevent the country's frail defences from crumbling.
But all Scott wants to do is find a way back to the world he knew, without losing the girl he loves. With every Shift he makes, Scott edges closer towards oblivion. With no one to trust – not even himself – how much is he willing to risk to get home?

Review: This is the end of a trilogy, so this review will contain spoilers for the first two books (and you really do need to read Shift and Control before this one). Following the end of Control, Scott finds he has shifted to a world where Britain is at war, and Scott is apparently the Commandant of ARES, or at least its present form, and  everything is completely different. However, unlike most Shifters whose realities change when they shift to accomodate for that shift and they accept that shift as being the one true reality, Scott remembers the more peaceful, less treacherous world, and he wants to get back.
I really enjoyed Shift and Control, and thus I was very excited to read this. When I did get to read Delete, I read it so quickly. I think if life didn’t get in my way, it would be a one-sit-read.
You know how I said Control put the plot on a larger scale to Shift? It’s happened again. Majorly. Again.
I loved the different sides of the characters we got to know. Frankie, Aubrey, and Katie  were all changed but also still them, and Scott...woah. in this world, Scott’s personality is rather different to the one he remembers having, and I loved seeing him struggle with what he remembers, what he thinks he is, what what he has to do in this world.  So much character development.
The plot progressed well. It’s fast, but there are also quieter moments. Especially between Aubrey and Scott as  he tries to find the differences between the past Aubrey and the one now. .
I did have mixed feelings about the end. Initially I really disliked it, but after a little time, I realised how wonderful it was because Scott has learnt things and might be able to make things better and maybe it isn’t as bad an ending as I thought.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a brilliant ending to an action packed series examining decisions and their consequences.



Also, there's a tourwide giveaway happening to win all three Shift books. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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8. The Sculptor Book Review

Title: The Sculptor Author: Scott McCloud Publisher: First Second Publication Date: February 3, 2015 ISBN-13: 978-1596435735 496 pp. ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley Comic book authority Scott McCloud wrote and illustrated the graphic novel The Sculptor, his first work of fiction in over 20 years. The fact that it's already in development for a film should give you a clue that it's a

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9. Picture book roundup - more funny ones!

Here are two new funny additions to add to my earlier post, Picture Book Roundup - new or coming soon!

We were reading these at work the other night.  All you could hear were laughs, chuckles, and "awww"s.


  • Dyckman, Ame. 2015. Wolfie the Bunny. New York: Little Brown.  Illustrated by Zacharia OHora.


This one had all the library staff laughing! Wolfie is the cutest little wolf in a bunny suit, but the star of this story is his sister, Dot. Doesn't anyone else realize that a wolf does not make a good brother for a bunny? Every time I read it, I find something else amusing in the illustrations.  See you at the Carrot Patch Co-op! (Bring your own shopping bag.)



  • Slater, David Michael. 2015. The Boy & the Book. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge. Illustrated by Bob Kolar.

This wordless book about a book and a "rough-and-tumble" little boy will crack you up and then make you say "Awww!" It's sure to become a librarian favorite. You'll love the blue book (but "read" them all!)




Musing for the day: How does one become a wordless picture book author? ;)

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10. Review – One Step at a Time by Jane Jolly and Sally Heinrich

Inspired by a true story, One Step at a Time exposes the unfortunate reality of the global landmine crisis through the prism of a friendship between a young boy and an elephant. Writer Jane Jolly and artist Sally Heinrich handle this subject with such deftness and clarity to ensure young readers grasp the predicament facing […]

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11. Wildlife Book Review

Title: Wildlife Author: Fiona Wood Publisher: Poppy Publication Date: September 16, 2014 ISBN-13: 978-0316242097 400 pp. ARC provided by publisher Wildlife is Australian author Fiona Wood's US debut, and my love for Australian YA grows. Wildlife is a dual narration novel, with Sibylla telling one story and Lou telling another. Both live in the same dorm during a wilderness semester at

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12. My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp

2015, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Lulu has her life mapped out.  First and foremost was to get as far away from the small town of Dale as fast as she could.  San Diego and higher education waited for her there.  Of course she’d miss her best friend Roni, who would stay home, and all of her escapades with Bucky, who was going to college in-state.  But life gets in the way sometimes….

Her father, who comes home between extensive traveling, has told her there are no funds to pay for school this year.  Next year would be better.  These words are poison to Lulu’s heart and soul.  She knows working Sal’s used auto parts business won’t pay enough.  But then Aunt Jezebel comes to town and changes everything.

Lu sees her future clearly now with the help of Aunt Jezebel, who is primed and ready to make illegal moonshine for a lot of money.  Her copper pipes are just waiting to distill the nectar of the hills and her metal drum is hungry for corn, sugar and yeast.  Lu has the equipment, (she’s only “borrowing” it for the summer) but she needs the know-how…and that’s when Mason makes his entrance into her money-making scheme.

His family has been known for making the best moonshine in West Virginia, and Lu will do almost anything to get him to help out her, Roni and Bucky.  It isn’t as easy as it looks though. Mason is hiding something from Lu - something dark and dangerous it could kill him in the process.  But he makes the decision to help just once and everything and everyone can’t stop the fall…


The first thing that will gravitate the reader to this book is the narrative.  Written in first person, Lu is telling the story of that summer, but where from?  It could be so many different places and the allusion to this point will keep the pages turning.  Brilliant writing!  The other strong part of this novel are the characters, including the adults in this small town.  Set in rural West Virginia, what the reader may think of as stereotypical is crushing through realistic character development while the innate culture of the state remains.  Sarah Tomps has done an outstanding job in her new novel and will should definitely be on any YA book roadmap created!  Recommended HS

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13. Made for You by Melissa Marr

2014, HarperCollins


Eva Tilling is the girl who has it all…popularity, a good-looking boyfriend, and a family who is considered the top of the social echelon in the small southern town she was born and raised in.  Like most of her friends whose families are connected, she follows traditional Southern etiquette, including who she can date or be friends with. 

Nate used to belong, but something changed…now he’s a loner and a social paraiah, known more for his drinking and partying.  His family has slowly crumbled, reflecting his reputation.  He’s known Eva Tilling since they were kids and played together, but now as upperclassmen in high school, their relationship has changed.  It’s non-existent, with only furtive glances and cold shoulders.

But this changes the day of the accident.  Eva is now in the hospital recovering from a hit and run, trying to understand who or why it happened.  She also suffers from severe brain injury and can’t remember details afterward.  Her best friend has come by often to check on her, and unexpectedly Nate shows up, spending time with her.  Eva couldn’t be happier about this.

But something else is bothering and scaring her.  When she touches people, she can see their deaths.  She’s seen her best friend in danger as well as Nate’s, but can’t see the face of the person who is behind the shadow.  Then dead bodies begin to turn up, and all of them have one thing in common:  Eva Tilling.

The Judge is in control, knowing who and when to attack and kill to get Eva’s attention.  He knows she was made just for him and no one is going to get in the way of their love, even if it may seem maniacal and twisted.  He’s leaving her breadcrumbs, waiting for her to notice and understand them.  She needs to hurry or he’ll have to find another victim with another clue…

Melissa Marr has once again delved into the dark side and written a wonderful novel that will have readers asking  who the murderer is  until the end of the book.  And that is the one perfect reason that makes any mystery book an excellent one.  Marr builds suspense by making the readers continue to question if a particular character is the one, even as innocent as they seem.  Not only are the characters in question, but also family dynamics and expectations these teens are required to follow.  Excellent YA murder mystery and recommended for high school readers. 

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14. Soppy Book Review

Title: Soppy Author & Illustrator: Philippa Rice Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing Publication Date: December 2, 2014 ISBN-13: 978-1449461065 108 pp. ARC via NetGalley "Soppy" is something that's overly sentimental and it's a word used more in the UK than the States.  So it makes sense that the writer/illustrator of Soppy, Philippa Rice, is from the UK. Soppy started out as a webcomic

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15. Book Review: Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind

 Title:  Spring Awakening (Original German title: Frühlings Erwache)
Author:  Frank Wedekind, translated by Francis J. Ziegler
Series:   N/A
Published:    Feb 2012 by Methuen Drama. Written 1890-1. First performed 1906.
Length:  192 pages
Warnings: rape, suicide, child abuse, and abortion
Source: Project Gutenberg
Summary from Student edition:  Wedekind's notorious play Spring Awakening influenced a whole trend of modern drama and remains relevant to today's society, exploring the oppression and rebellion of adolescents among draconian parents and morals. This seminal work looks at the conflict between repressive adulthood and teenage sexual longings in a provincial German town. Highly controversial and with themes of sexuality, social attitudes and adolescence, the play is a popular and provocative text for study, especially at undergraduate level. 

Review: Late 1800s Germany.  Schoolboys and girls discover sexuality. It really does not go well. Among other things, Wedla Bergmann does not understand how babies are made, Moritz Stiefl is tormented by erotic dreams, and Melchior Gabor, having read about sex, now believes in nothing. In a series of scenes, we follow the teens as they try to navigate growing up.
You may have heard of the rock musical that got adapted from this play. It’s the controversial one that deals with rape, suicide, child abuse, and abortion.  When the play first came out in 1906, it was criticised for sexuality, puberty, and homosexuality as well, but to be honest, that’s the least of everyone’s problems. As someone who quite enjoyed the musical and enjoys reading/seeing source material, I knew I’d have to read it someday.
I felt that some characters were quite underdeveloped. Martha’s story is only mentioned in passing, most girls don’t get any characterisation beyond fancying Melchior, and I didn’t really care for what happened to the boys other than Melchior and Moritz. We do get good characterisation for the three main characters, and we did get to know what some people were thinking in detail (see next paragraph). It could have been better though.
Giant monologues. Ugh.  I know monologues are a standard part of drama, and I don’t mind a couple. But they seem to drag on and on and on, Hanschen’s “have you prayed tonight, Desdemona” one in particular, and if I were seeing this live, I would probably want the actors to just be quiet.
The plot is mostly driven by subtle indications of what’s happening. There are not that many stage directions, and if I didn’t know the story from the musical, I’d have had to reread quite a few scenes to make sure I understood what was going on.
What I really like about this play is that while it was written to criticise the repression of the 1800s, despite 120 years passing, it’s still relevant today:  the young people are unprepared for life due to the inadequacy of adults. There’s a scene after Moritz dies in which the teachers are going to start discussing what to do about his death, but then they spend ages arguing over what window should be opened, which is the clearest example of adults failing to care for young people, a theme also seen when Wedla’s mother does not tell her about conception until it’s too late.  The young people are victims of the society that forces academic knowledge on them (if they’re boys), does not tell them about life (for almost everyone) and leaves them to discover it on their own, which leads to tragedy.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a tragedy that showcases perfectly what happens when sex-ed fails.
Links: Amazon Goodreads 


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16. Review: Soil by Jamie Kornegay

There is something about stories set in the American south, particularly those in and around the Mississippi. Whether they are classic American Southern Gothic, contemporary fiction, crime mystery or a combination the confluence of history, atmosphere and long-held beliefs makes for rich, dark, fertile storytelling. Jamie Kornegay digs into this tapestry with a debut about […]

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17. Where'd You Go, Bernadette Audiobook Review

Title: Where'd You Go, Bernadette Author: Maria Semple Narrated by: Kathleen Wilhoite Publisher: Little, Brown & Company Publication Date: April 16, 2013 ISBN-13: 978-1478978947 Listening copy via public library Where'd You Go, Bernadette was a 2013 Alex Award winner, which means that it's an adult book with teen appeal. Which means it's a book that it is little edgy, a little twisty, a book

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18. Kishaz Reading Corner: A Shiver of Light by Laurell K. Hamilton

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


About the Book

Merry Gentry, ex–private detective and full-time princess, is now the mother of triplets, a rarity in the high ranks of faerie. And not everyone is happy about it, including Taranis, King of Light and Illusion. He’s using the human courts to sue for visitation rights, claiming that one of the babies is his. To save herself and her children, Merry will use the most dangerous powers in all of faerie: a god of death, a warrior known as the Darkness, the Killing Frost, and a king of nightmares. They are her lovers, and her dearest loves, and they will face down the might of the high courts of faerie—while trying to keep the war from spreading to innocent humans in Los Angeles, who are in danger of becoming collateral damage.

Buy the Book

Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 4 stars

Here's why:

This is the long awaited ninth book in the Merry Gentry series. For the fans of the series, you should give this a read. It feels like the way Hamilton used to write and I liked it.

We finally learn more about Meredith, her kings and her babies in the latest installment to this series. What I enjoyed the most was that the sex didn't drown the story. There was enough that it complimented the flow of the overall plot which was a breath of fresh air.

We also learned a little bit more about Meredith's mettle and what makes her tick.

Would I recommend this book? Yes.



DON'T MISS THE OTHER BOOKS IN THIS SERIES

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19. El Deafo Book Review

Title: El Deafo Author: Cece Bell Publisher: Harry N. Abrams Publication Date: September 2, 2014 ISBN-13: 978-1419712173 248 pp. ARC provided by publisher I am so happy that Cece Bell's El Deafo got some Newbery love as it was named an Honor Winner earlier this month. This graphic novel is funny, sweet, honest, touching, and true. It deserves all the accolades and awards and fans that it

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20. Review: Resistance by John Birmingham

John Birmingham takes up where he left off at the end of Emergence. Dave is enjoying a well-earned rest after the battle of New Orleans while the rest of the world is coming to terms with the fact that monsters (Orcs, dragons, super-sized bugs, you name it) are now among us and wanting to re-subjugate their […]

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21. Review: Touch by Claire North

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August announced the arrival of a very special talent. Claire North maybe the pseudonym for Catherine Webb (and Kate Griffin), who has already published a number of books, but Harry August was something else entirely. It was bold, intelligent, gripping and mind-blowing. Before the real identity of the pseudonym […]

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22. Book Review-The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks

Title:  The Bunker Diary
Author:  Kevin Brooks
Series:   N/A
Published:  7 March 2013 by Penguin
Length: 268 pages
Warnings:  many things. Highlight [start] suicide, murder, quite extreme cruelty [/end]
Source: library
Other info: The Bunker Diary won the Carnegie Medal in 2014.
Summary : Room meets Lord of the Flies, The Bunker Diary is award-winning, young adult writer Kevin Brooks's pulse-pounding exploration of what happens when your worst nightmare comes true - and how will you survive?
I can't believe I fell for it. It was still dark when I woke up this morning. As soon as my eyes opened I knew where I was. A low-ceilinged rectangular building made entirely of whitewashed concrete. There are six little rooms along the main corridor. There are no windows. No doors. The lift is the only way in or out. What's he going to do to me? What am I going to do? If I'm right, the lift will come down in five minutes.  It did. Only this time it wasn't empty . .

Review: Linus has been abducted and is now in a bunker. He doesn’t know why. More and more people come into the bunker. They have to try and survive.
It is a terrifying idea. Everyone’s scared of random abduction, of not knowing what’s going to happen to you. Also, another thing to be scared of is humanity (I’ve learnt my lesson from that Doctor Who episode-Midnight). What people will do to eachother. What people will really think of eachother.
I liked the narration. It is, as the title suggests, the diary that Linus keeps while he’s kept in the bunker.  But we don’t know everything that Linus does-it states he doesn’t write everything in case The Man Upstairs comes and finds it. I really liked that idea-knowing even less than the character we see the story through. I also liked seeing the different ways people reacted, even if I kenw it wouldn't be that good for some people.
It’s one of the books for me where the literary criticism and reader criticism collide. From a literary point of view, I understand that we don’t get much development of Bird and Anja-Linus spends less time with them, reader spends less time with them. From a reader point of view, I want to know what they’re all thinking. Even more of a clash is the ending. From a literary point of view, I understand why Brooks would have ended it there. Linus doesn’t know, so we don’t know. From a reader point of view, it’s very unsatisfying. There’s no closure. We don’t get ANY of our questions answered.
It does keep you hooked from the start- not knowing anything, only finding things out in bits, the new things that The Man Upstairs puts in their way. Also, the tension, as well as the sittuation of being trapped, is heightened by the fact that these people are going to be unpredictable, and there isn’t a sense of cohesion, and ugh human relationships.  The feelings of panic, of claustrophobia, of uncertainness are brilliantly conveyed.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a book that’s gripping throughout most of it, but is let down by the end.
Links: Amazon Goodreads 


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23. Review: Canary by Duane Swierczynski

It’s been awhile between drinks for a Duane Swierczynski novel but as always it has been worth the wait. Straight away its like jumping on a runaway train with that instant pleasure of having no idea where Duane Swierczynski is going to take you this time. After the brilliant insanity of the Charlie Hardie series […]

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24. Netgalley/Review Tour: Cursed by Fire by Jacquelyn Frank



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


About the Book

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.

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Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 4.5 stars

Here's why:

I am in love with this couple. Dethan and Selinda make up one of the best pairings I've read in a while.

Scarred, yet beautiful and with a innate fierceness and love for her people made Selinda one of the most believable characters I've read about in a while. Dethan was no slouch either in that department.

Intelligence, flaws, redemption, treachery, I read this book in one day and can't wait to read the next one in the series.

Well done, Ms. Frank, well done.

Would I recommend this? That's a resounding YES!

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25. Review: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is only my second Kazuo Ishiguro book following on from Never Let Me Go. For me, coming off a novel about cloning, I had no expectations about where he would go next. Much has been made about this novel being a “departure” for Ishiguro but I would argue that he has gone back to something […]

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