Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review: The One and Only Ivan

About the Book


Published January 17, 2012 by HarperCollins


GoodReads Description


Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.


My Thoughts


Most of the time, I spend my time as a teacher encouraging my students to read certain books.  Then, there are the other times that my students encourage me to pull one off of the shelf and get busy.  The One and Only Ivan was recommended to me by a sophomore boy who loves a good story.  I knew that if he was suggesting it, I was in for a good time.

Within the first ten pages, I was hooked.  I simply did not want to set it down for anything.  In fact, I woke up one morning with this book open and spread out over my face.  I swear, I was only up until midnight (which is late in the life of a teacher).

The first absolutely stunning aspect of this novel was Applegate's ability to get into the mind of a gorilla.  After looking at a variety of photos, it is obvious to me that Applegate is, after all, human.  Getting into the mind of a different person is difficult enough, let alone getting into the mind of a different species altogether!  And she did the right amount of research necessary to be able to bring some of the more instinctual and intellectual aspects of a gorilla to life.  I would not be surprised if Applegate's gorilla persona accurately portrayed what the real Ivan was thinking!  Once I was stunned by this portrayal, she stuck her mind into two elephants and a dog!  Nicely done, Ms. Applegate!

I will warn you, however, that an entire box of tissues is required for reading this novel.  Not only is there one especially unexpected sad part (Boo!) there is a very happy part that had me in tears as well.  Applegate knows how to play with her readers' emotions and does so unabashedly.

My Rating



Thursday, December 7, 2017

12 Days of Fantasy for Christmas!

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

12 Days of Fantasy for Christmas
Day 7: Pretender to the Crown by Melissa McShane

Pretender to the Crown
(The Saga of Willow North #1)
by Melissa McShane
New Adult Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 328 pages
October 30th 2017 by Night Harbor Publishing

Willow North is a thief, and despite her secret magical talent for sensing worked metal, she has never wanted to be anything else. But when her former fiancé appears on her doorstep with the eight-year-old King of Tremontane in tow, she is drawn into the political conflict surrounding the boy King's ascension. His uncle, a powerful Ascendant with the magic of manipulating the elements, murdered the old King and intends to kill young King Felix.

Willow intends only to take the boy to safety, but as the days pass, she finds herself increasingly attached to Felix and unwilling to leave him once he's safe. But the pretender to the Crown has a long reach, and as his men close in on the fugitives, it seems nowhere may be safe.


Guest Post: The Making of Willow North

Willow North, the main character of Pretender to the Crown, was never meant to be anything but a throwaway line. Background: my series The Crown of Tremontane was written out of order, with the third book, Agent of the Crown, written first. In that book, the main character, a princess and a spy, mentions Willow in passing, saying she always felt sorry for her because it was such a frivolous name. That was it—Willow was just a bud on the North family tree, a passing joke to give my spy princess depth.

I don’t remember when Willow became a real character. Certainly by the time I wrote Rider of the Crown (second book in the series, third written) because I had to go back to Servant of the Crown (first book, second written) to insert Willow and her history. At that point, she was an important figure in Tremontanan history, but I knew no more about her than that. But she had captured my imagination.

I love stories about rogues, and making Willow a thief satisfied that interest. But Willow had to be more than that; she had to be someone who could lead others. Willow starts the book a loner, focused on her work and disconnected from almost everyone around her. Throughout the course of the trilogy, she discovers she cares deeply, not only about her friends but about her country as well.

Willow also has magic in a time when the country of Tremontane is ruled by magic-wielding tyrants called Ascendants. Her relationship with magic is complicated: no one can learn she has magic, or she’ll be forced to become an Ascendant, but she depends on her magic, the ability to sense worked metal, for her living. Willow’s talent was my husband’s idea, and it’s the perfect ability for a thief to have.

It’s taken years for Willow to go from being a throwaway line to being the main character of a trilogy. I hope readers will find her as fascinating as I do.

About the Author


Melissa McShane is the author of several fantasy novels, including the Crown of Tremontane series, beginning with SERVANT OF THE CROWN, The Extraordinaries series, beginning with BURNING BRIGHT, and the trilogy Convergence. After a childhood spent roaming the United States, she settled in Utah with her husband, four children and a niece, two very needy cats, and a library that continues to grow out of control. She wrote reviews and critical essays for many years before turning to fiction, which is much more fun than anyone ought to be allowed to have.

Tour Schedule

November 30th: Launch
December 1st: Sarra Cannon
December 2nd: W.R. Gingell
December 3rd: Nikki Jefford
December 4th: K. D. Jones
December 5th: M. L. LeGette
December 6th: Belle Malory
December 7th: Melissa McShane
December 8th: Sara C. Roethle
December 9th: R.K. Ryals
December 10th: Jennifer Silverwood
December 11th: Melissa Wright
December 12th: Morgan Wylie
December 13th: Grand Finale

Tour Giveaway


1 winner will win a FIRE HD 8 TABLET from Amazon along with the following ebooks:
- TRITON'S CURSE by Sarra Cannon
- MASQUE by W.R. Gingell
- AURORA SKY: VAMPIRE HUNTER by Nikki Jefford
- A WHITE SO RED by K.D. Jones
- THE TALE OF MALLY BIDDLE by M.L. LeGette
- THE TWELFTH KEEPER by Belle Malory
- SERVANT OF THE CROWN by Melissa McShane
- THE XOE MEYERS TRILOGY by Sara C. Roethle
- TEMPEST by R.K. Ryals
- CRAVING BEAUTY be Jennifer Silverwood
- THE DESCENDANTS SERIES by Melissa Wright
- REAWAKENED by Morgan Wylie

Open to US residents or those who are eligible for the Fire Tablet in their area (those who are not, can receive cash value through PayPal)

Ends December 17th

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Review: (Un)Graceful Cat by B.A. Gabrielle

About the Book

(Un)Graceful Cat by B.A. Gabrielle
Published December 10, 2016 by B. A. Gabrielle Books

GoodReads Description


Fifteen year old Amelia Fafnir was born into a high-class family, but she has had zero confidence ever since her mother cancelled her piano lessons and told her she had no talent. However, a shocking truth suddenly rattles her daily life. The home economics room is the base of operations for the Spirits (humans who have died with regrets and remain in the world until their regrets are erased). However, their sworn enemies are the Dark Fairies (evil beings who take advantage of human weaknesses) and their target is Amelia. Who should she trust? Which side is "good" and which is "evil"?

My Thoughts

When B.A. Gabrielle brought her novel to my attention, I was immediately pulled in by her synopsis.  This book sounded so exciting!  I could tell that she was inspired by the manga/anime that she loves and I was excited to see how that played out.  Unfortunately, there was a lot that she did really well, but more that I despised.

Gabrielle had a terrific idea for this novel.  She does a wonderful job introducing this idea and presenting it.  However, she has so many separate thoughts that it seems she doesn't know how to tie all of them together.  As a result, her story suffers and pulls away the readers' attention.

She also had a cast of wonderful characters!  They each have wonderful personalities and hidden secrets.  I loved learning about Lindow and Esther!  Mr. Shapiro was terrific!  But, again, Gabrielle has so many ideas for these characters, and so many characters, that she is unable to spend the time to completely develop them.  There is very little growth in any of the characters and, when growth is present, it feels very sudden and unrealistic.

While Gabrielle does present her audience with a terrific world and a wonderful war between good and evil, I truly believe that this book would be much more enjoyable and more suspenseful if Gabrielle took the time to better develop each aspect of her work.

My Rating