Friday, December 14, 2018

Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

About the Book

Published in June 2016 by Night Shade Books

GoodReads Description

"History is just one damned thing after another."

Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary's, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don't do 'time-travel' - they 'investigate major historical events in contemporary time'. Maintaining the appearance of harmless eccentrics is not always within their power - especially given their propensity for causing loud explosions when things get too quiet.

Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary's Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History. Their aim is to observe and document - to try and find the answers to many of History's unanswered questions...and not to die in the process. But one wrong move and History will fight back - to the death. And, as they soon discover - it's not just History they're fighting.

Follow the catastrophe curve from 11th-century London to World War I, and from the Cretaceous Period to the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria. For wherever Historians go, chaos is sure to follow in their wake....

My Thoughts

I am going to have such a hard time talking about this book and not sounding like a raging fan girl!  UGH  I'm going to try my best but OH MY GOD! I love this book so freaking much!  I am so in love with this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

The best place to start, of course, is to talk about the characters.  Max is a wonderful protagonist who deserves all the praise we could possibly proffer.  I couldn't help but identify with her as she's a short, chunky, red head who always finds herself in the middle of whatever trouble is brewing.  That's also a fairly decent description of me. She is such a believable character that the pain she feels forces the reader to not only empathize with her, but actually cringe.  At one point, the pain she went through was so powerful that I threw the book down on the couch and screamed.  I had no other choice.  Maybe I'm just a bit melodramatic, but I think that screams volumes about the kind of reader Taylor truly is.  

Despite my identification with Max, Chief is definitely my favorite character.  He has been through so much in different time periods yet he continues to be a wonderful example of a perfect gentleman.  The poor guy has no choice but to go along with all of Max's shenanigans.  This could either cause him a huge amount of trouble, or he could simply accept the crazy and just keep going.  I'm proud to report that I love when he does the latter.

Taylor truly had to do her best work when it came to world building in this novel.  Because the characters visit so many other time periods, Taylor is faced with the unique challenge of describing each time period as they get to it.  She does a beautiful job of describing the scenery and history of each time as well as bringing in characters from each era that the reader easily relates to and wants the best for.  Additionally, Taylor makes the wise choice of spending the vast majority of her efforts on building the personality of St. Mary's University.  She explains not only the smells and sights, but the ways that the different characters fit together like one enormous mismatched puzzle.  These characters are wacky and mischievous, but absolutely cohesive.

Taylor has definitely made her way to my "Favorite Authors" List as a result of this novel.  I look forward to sharing my reviews of the rest of the series with you.

My Rating


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Neverwhere: The BBC Dramatisation by Neil Gaiman

About this Version

Published March 16, 2013 by BBC 4

GoodReads Description

Beneath the streets of London there is another London. A subterranean labyrinth of sewers and abandoned tube stations. A somewhere that is Neverwhere.

An act of kindness sees Richard Mayhew catapulted from his ordinary life into a subterranean world under the streets of London. Stopping to help an injured girl on a London street, Richard is thrust from his workaday existence into the strange world of London Below.

So begins a curious and mysterious adventure deep beneath the streets of London, a London of shadows where the tube cry of 'Mind the Gap' takes on new meaning; for the inhabitants of this murky domain are those who have fallen through the gaps in society, the dispossessed, the homeless. Here Richard meets the Earl of Earl’s Court, Old Bailey and Hammersmith, faces a life-threatening ordeal at the hands of the Black Friars, comes face to face with Great Beast of London, and encounters an Angel. Called Islington.

Joining the mysterious girl named Door and her companions, the Marquis de Carabas and the bodyguard, Hunter, Richard embarks on an extraordinary quest to escape from the clutches of the fiendish assassins Croup and Vandemar and to discover who ordered them to murder her family. All the while trying to work out how to get back to his old life in London Above.

A six part adaption of Neil Gaiman’s novel adapted by Dirk Maggs for Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra, sees James McAvoy as Richard lead a stellar cast which includes Natalie Dormer, David Harewood, Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Anthony Head, David Schofield, Bernard Cribbens, Romola Garai, George Harris, Andrew Sachs, Lucy Cohu, Johnny Vegas, Paul Chequer, Don Gilet and Abdul Salis.

My Thoughts

I have never looked forward to listening to audibooks.  I simply have neither the patience nor the attention span for them.  When I saw that this version of Neverwhere had been released, I simply had to give it a shot.  I first tried listening to it in 2013 when it originally aired.  Despite my love for the novel, I fell asleep.  I tried again in 2017, but failed again.  2018 led to me spending hours upon hours in the car with several road trips each month.  Music started to get a little boring because almost EVERYTHING was overplayed.  I decided to give audiobooks another shot.  I am so glad that I did!  Not only did I finish Neverwhere, I began listening to more audibooks and am now able to enjoy so many more books!  All thanks to a lot of quiet hours on the road with my dog.  And, by the way, Rascal enjoys listening to audibooks too.  I can see his ears perk up when I hit play.

When I started listening to Neverwhere, I was already familiar with the story.  It's one of Neil Gaiman's most wonderful works!  BBC did an amazing job bringing it to life.  I was so impressed by not only the voice actors, but the sound effects.  Instead of merely having the story read to me, I was immediately immersed in the action.  I was there.  I was surrounded by the battles and deaths and betrayal. BBC chose the best actors for this piece!  James McAvoy plays a wonderful Richard Mayhew.  He simply has the clueless and lackluster voice needed to play an ordinary man in extraordinary situations.  Likewise, Benedict Cumberbatch's solemn and menacing voice brings Islington to life.  I will definitely be on the lookout for more BBC productions.

While I could happily spend this entire review discussing just how amazing it was to listen to BBC bring this novel to life, I believe it's imperative that we talk about the novel itself.  To begin, let's talk about some of the amazing characters.  By far, my favorite is Door.  I admire her independence and quick thinking.  She is a truly empathetic character who looks out for the best result for everyone around her despite having necessary tasks to complete for herself.  Such a strong woman deserves to be admired!  But then, there's Hunter.  What a terrific foil to Door!  Her physical strength and looming presence terrify others and create a legacy for her, but she is more likely to turn a friend to a foe than help another person.  She cares only for herself until the very end.  In her last moments, however, I don't believe that she truly redeems herself even though she tries to do exactly that.

This BBC Dramatisation brings Gaiman's skill as a master world builder to life.  London Above and London Below are very diverse places with very different players.  This dramatisation demonstrates and exaggerates these differences so that the casual listener can enjoy them as well.  This is true down to the diction of people from both places.  For example, the people from London Below tend to be more comical and they enjoy life.  Those from London Above, on the other hand, take life far too seriously.  Perhaps this is because those of London Below are far too aware of just how short life is.  They want to make the absolute most of it while the people of London Above are more interested in living the way they are told to.

I truly hope that BBC releases more Neil Gaiman Dramatisations.

My Rating



Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Top 3 Reasons I'm Excited to Teach Lord of the Flies

About the Book

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Published September 17, 1954


GoodReads Description

At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate; this far from civilization the boys can do anything they want. Anything. They attempt to forge their own society, failing, however, in the face of terror, sin and evil. And as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far from reality as the hope of being rescued. Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies is perhaps our most memorable tale about “the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart.”

My Thoughts and Excitement

During my time in high school, Lord of the Flies was not required reading material.  Even now, it isn't.  Honestly, I think it's one of the most important books.  I'll get into my reasoning a little bit later, but I wanted to take a moment to give you a mini-review on a more personal level.  It has been a week since I finished Lord of the Flies, but I'm still in awe of the powerful story and message.  The bleak future and dark being of man is often portrayed in literature, but no piece has done so more powerfully than this one.  Golding created a story filled with young men that the audience can't help but care about.  I wanted every single one of them to succeed, to live, and, perhaps most importantly, to be saved.  This book is one to be cherished and to be shared with our high school students.  These individuals need to have the conversations about the nature of man in order to make informed decisions about the kind of man, or woman, they would like to become.

INTENSE SPOILER ALERT FOR THE REST OF THIS POST 

The Top 3 Reasons I'm Excited to Teach Lord of the Flies

  1. Golding creates a number of wonderful characters.  These are characters that I truly believe my students will be able to identify with.  The smart kid?  The leader?  The bossy pants?  I can think of specific kids who fit each of those descriptions.  If I'm able to see them in my own classroom, I believe my students will be able to as well.  This will help to make the story more relevant as they see that instead of being a bunch of adults, it is a bunch of boys not much older than themselves.  How would they react?  Should we chastise these boys for their bad choices?  Should we celebrate their wise choices?  Is the fire or the rescue still something to celebrate with Piggy and Simon gone?  Is there a specific reason those boys didn't deserve to survive?  
  2. The symbolism in this book is absolutely powerful.  There is so much anger toward the way things are and hope for the way things could become.  Especially when you consider that Piggy's final moments are the very last moments that there is hope for intellect on the island.  Once he, the intellectual symbol, has perished, Ralph faces the imbecilic takeover of the other boys.  This lends a brand new example to mob mentality and the necessity of rules.  I am so excited to have this conversation with my students and to understand their thinking.  Will it change?  Will they hold tight to their current feelings toward school rules?
  3. Despite the age of this novel, it remains relevant to our society today.  Politically, many people believe that we are abandoning rules that should be followed and are falling into a state of chaos.  In the pop culture sphere, we see many of the same themes in books like The Hunger Games and even The Maze Runner.  I am so excited to discover what other connections my students make.



Thursday, November 8, 2018

The House with a Clock in its Walls (Review)

About the Book

First published in 1973


GoodReads Description

Orphaned Lewis Barnavelt comes to live with his Uncle Jonathan and quickly learns that both his uncle and his next-door neighbor are witches on a quest to discover the terrifying clock ticking within the walls of Jonathan's house. Can the three of them save the world from certain destruction?

My Thoughts

As a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe, I was delighted to see other reviews of this novel liken Bellairs' style to Poe's.  I was not let down.  In fact, I absolutely devoured this book!

While I do enjoy books written in the third person, I tend to prefer books written from the first person.  This book was a lovely exception to that rule.  Bellairs' choice to write in third person allows the reader to connect to Lewis on a much deeper level.  This level forces the audience to care what happens to Lewis and to be terrified not only because of the haunting events that unfold but because they truly want to see a happy end for Lewis.  This brought so much more meaning to the story and created a more memorable experience.

While it may seem strange, my favorite character was Mrs. Zimmerman.  I absolutely loved how kooky she was.  For a while, I actually thought that there wasn't much strength in her character.  At the moment that she shows up in the novel, I found myself looking forward to her silly antics.  I LOVED how sassy she was! 

After I finished this book, I was excited to learn that Bellairs wrote a few following books!  I'm so excited to get them and to find out what happened to Lewis next!

My Rating



Saturday, November 3, 2018

6 Degrees of Separation: November 2018

This meme is brought to you by Books are My Favourite and Best

This month, the starting book is Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray...


...which I've never read.

But, you know what else I've never read? 


That's right!  The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.  Who knew the author of one of my favorite books...


And did you know that The Great Gatsby was Fitzgerald's third book?  Which, coincidentally, is the same number as my favorite Harry Potter book!


The Harry Potter series was very important to me as a young reader.  Through this world, I learned just how much I loved fantasy.  That led me to authors like Clive Barker.


During my first read through of Abarat, a movie called Stardust was being released.  I loved the movie!  But, as usual, the book was better.


And that was how I met my favorite author, Neil Gaiman.  But Stardust wasn't my favorite of his books. That title belongs to Coraline.  A 128 page children's book that gave my teenage butt nightmares for weeks!



And there you have it folks! 




Monday, October 22, 2018

The Top 3 Reasons You Should Read Moira Ashe: Kindred Spirits

About the Book

Published by Brendon Bertram on August 20, 2018

I received an ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.



GoodReads Description

Exposed, Moira Ashe flees to the city of Trident Bay seeking passage out of the city. Denied by every ship in port, her salvation comes from Caspian, hero, chieftain and business leader. He promises to get her out of the country, but only if she can slay the legendary Terror of Trident Bay. Moira's hunt goes awry as she is caught in the city's power struggle, a peasant uprising and romance, all while she races to leaves Fotland's shores before word reaches the city about her identity.

*This is the second in the series.  It is NOT a standalone novel.*

My Thoughts

When the first book in this series was released, I devoured it.  You can read my four star review here.  The moment I found out the sequel had been released, I raised my hands in the air and screamed "Gimme!  Gimme!"  For most people, that's an exaggeration.  For me, that's a very true statement that terrified the ever-living-love out of my poor dog.  I felt bad for Rascal, but pretty good for me that day.

Lately, I've been splitting my reviews into things that I do and don't like about the books I read.  Bertram made this IMPOSSIBLE for me. So, I'm just going to go with the top three reasons you should read this book! 

  1. Hello World Building!  The lack of world building was my biggest complaint about Moira Ashe: Enemy Within. Unsurprisingly, it was also my biggest concern going into Kindred Spirits. I was not disappointed.  This novel is filled with details of the world that Bertram has created and this world truly comes to life.  I could see each piece of it as clearly as the world outside of my window.  I doubt that Bertram took the advice for this improvement from my blog, but I'm going to act like he did.  I'm just smug like that.
  2. Bertram chose not to pull any punches when it came to Moira's development.  When she felt joy, so did I.  When she felt pain, I wept. It was not a pretty sight and I'm not proud of it. It was fascinating to see Moira as more of a human and less of a hunter in this piece.  Granted, she still hunts.  That's what her role is.  But I enjoyed seeing Bertram develop more of her humanity in this piece.  This was especially true in her relationship with Caspian.  And, once you finish the novel, you can curse Bertram right along with me because THAT WAS NOT OK!
  3. Although it felt strange at first, I loved that this book read like a series of video game cut scenes.  This style definitely sets Bertram's writing apart from the others and was an interesting way to move from location to location.  It helped the story to move along so that more could be accomplished despite the book's brevity.  

My Rating


Let's Chat

Have you read any of Bertram's works?  What do you think of them?  Do you typically enjoy werewolf novels?  

Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, October 15, 2018

October 15, 2018: It's Monday and I'm Reading...

What Have I Read Recently?

The last book I read was The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman.  I love this witty story and would love to use it as a precursor to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.





What Am I Reading Now?

I'm currently working my way through Moira Ashe: Kindred Spirits by Brendon Bertram.  I am so in love with this series!  I was excited to review the first book, which you can read here, and am looking forward to posting my review of Moira's next adventure.  Bertram definitely knows how to charm his readers!




What Will I Read Next?

The next book on my TBR is The Darkening by Chris Sarantopoulos.  I'm really excited to have gotten an eARC of this book!

GoodReads Description

Don’t fear the dark. Fear the light.

The end came when light changed. It decimated humanity, leaving scattered bands of survivors stumbling in the dark.

Faced with saving himself or his family during the apocalypse, John Piscus made the wrong choice, and has been living with the guilt ever since.

When a glowing girl shows up at John’s shelter begging for help, his instincts tell him to kill her. After all, light kills.

But when masked troopers tasked with capturing survivors come after them, it’s up to John to protect himself and the girl. Not only may she hold the key to reversing the lethal effects of light, she could also be the one who can save his soul.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Review: RoseBlood by A. G. Howard

About the Book

Published by Harry N. Abrams on January 10, 2017

Neither the publisher nor the author requested this review.

GoodReads Description

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera. 

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

My Thoughts

Fun Fact: I am a HUUUUUUUUGE Phantom of the Opera fan.  I have read the book.  I've seen the different versions.  I fall deeper and deeper in love with Erik's tortured soul each time.

I am also a huge fan of re-told tales. 

When I found out that there was going to be a POTO  re-telling, I almost died from happiness.  There were literal tears and I squeaked like a flipping chipmunk. I am truly ecstatic to review it for you.

What I Liked

  • Thorn.  What a well-written character!  I loved that he was such a deep thinking individual who truly remained loyal to the people he cared for.  Not only was he a tortured soul in childhood, he must make several decisions throughout the novel that test this loyalty.  It cannot be easy to be Thorn, let alone to write a character as complicated as he is. I loved that Howard chose to create a second phantom figure.  I felt like this was a very powerful move because it allowed the possibility of the original story to go full circle.
  • The tone of this piece is spooky yet mystifying.  I became truly engrossed in the plot and wondered what would happen next at every turn.  Although this is something I hope for in every book, I felt that Howard did especially well when creating tone.
  • Talk about twists and turns!  Right when I thought that I knew what was going to happen, I was completely surprised.  Right when I thought my favorite character died (yes, I cried and cursed Howard's name) I found out what had really happened to him.  I enjoyed the roller coaster plot of this novel.
  • The ending was beautiful.  I know that many other people have thought it was a bit cheesy, but after some of the grim points of this book, it needed some cheese. 

What I Didn't Like As Much

  • I'm sure that some of this was done to keep the mystery going, but this book severely lacked world-building.  It seemed like the world it was in had absolutely no rules.  This may seem freeing, but resulted in severely downplayed drama.  I wish Howard had been just a little darker in this piece.
  • There was so much info dumping that I got lost.  I found myself re-reading several parts to figure out what exactly had happened. It would have been a HUGE improvement for Howard to slowly add the pieces instead of trying to create and explain a world that simply could not be contained in a 432 page book.
  • I am glad that Howard was willing to take risks.  Some of the decisions that she made in this piece weren't quite what I (or any other reviewer) expected.  However, I'm not sure that these were all good decisions.  I love a good fantasy piece, but there was so much going on in this novel that there was no way that it could be cleanly written.  It started to feel like she was pouring paint, or plot, on the page and hoping that something would stick and make a pretty picture.

Overall, I thought that this was an entertaining book that I will read again at some point.  Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations.

My Rating






Saturday, September 29, 2018

Cover Reveal: The Secrets That Shape Us

Unveiling a new cover!
Book 2 of The McKay Series by W.L. Brooks!
The Secrets That Shape Us
THE SECRETS THAT SHAPE US
W.L. Brooks
Series: The McKay Series Book 2
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: October 22, 2018
Returning home was just the beginning, but staying…might be her end.
After uncovering a devastating secret, Casey McKay left her beloved home town and pretended not to look back. For years, the truth her sisters hid from her has kept her away. Now, in desperate need of Casey’s help, her sisters have hired a PI to find her.
As a private investigator, Ryan Keller is used to getting into sticky situations, but nothing could have prepared him for the likes of Ms. McKay. Unable to resist her appeal for help, Ryan returns with her to Blue Creek. Little do they know they are walking right into a deadly plot to destroy the McKay sisters.
The closer they get to the truth, the harder it is for them to resist temptation. But succumbing to their desires puts Ryan in the crosshairs of a vengeful foe. To save them, Casey must face her past and the secrets that have shaped her.

Pre-Order Links

Releasing October 22. Pre-order your copy today!
Available on The Wild Rose Press: Paperback | Digital

Upcoming Book Tour

Save the Date! Follow the book tour from October 22 - November 3, 2018.
Visit each tour stop daily and discover more features, excerpts, reviews, interviews, fun facts and more! To check the latest tour schedule, visit the The Secrets That Shape Us Book Page at Book Unleashed.
The Secrets That Shape Us Tour Graphic

About W.L. Brooks

W.L. Brooks
W. L. Brooks likes to write like she reads with a bit of mystery, romance, suspense, and, to keep it interesting, the occasional dash of the paranormal. Living in Western North Carolina she is currently working on her next novel.
Official website: http://www.wlbrooks.com/
Social Media Links: Facebook | Instagram

Giveaway

WIN $50 AMAZON GIFT CARD
The Secrets That Shape Us Giveaway Graphic
Contest runs from September 28, 2018 - November 3, 2018.

In partnership with
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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Review: All We Have is Now

About the Book






Published by Scholastic Inc. on July 28, 2018

Find it on Amazon!


GoodReads Description

What do you do with your last day on earth?

Just over twenty-four hours are left until an asteroid strikes North America, and for Emerson and everyone else who didn’t leave, the world will end. But Emerson’s world already ended when she ran away from home. Since then, she has lived on the streets, relying on her wits and on her friend Vince to help her find places to sleep and food to eat.

The city’s quieter now that most people are gone, and no one seems to know what to do as the end approaches. But then Emerson and Vince meet Carl, who tells them he has been granting people’s wishes—and gives them his wallet full of money.

Suddenly, this last day seems full of possibility. Emerson and Vince can grant a lot of wishes in one last day—maybe even their own.

My Thoughts

I had such high hopes for this novel!  I anticipated something so spectacular!  That was not what I got.

What I Liked

  • Emerson was such a well-written character!  I truly appreciated the way that Schroeder made sure she stayed true to who she was, even though that meant writing a very conflicted character.  Emerson had quite the chip on her shoulder and I didn't see her letting go of that chip until the very end of the novel.  
  • I loved the romance between Vince and Emerson.  Even though Vince had no reason to hope that Emerson would ever have feelings for him, he stayed true to her.  I think this dedication is important for young men to see in a society that champions "playing" women.  Once this relationship bloomed, it was one of the strongest that I've seen written in modern YA fiction.
  • The connection of Carl's story and the Vince/Emerson plot was predictable, but well done.  I think it was interesting to see Emerson's emotions toward and expectations of the family we were able to see frantically searching for her.

What I Didn't Like As Much

  • THE ENDING????? What the heck was that?! That was not ok.  I am so frustrated by the ending of this novel that I would never pick up a sequel if Schroeder wrote one. I won't say too much here, but talk about taking the easy way out.
  • There were so many crossing plot lines that I stopped caring about a few of them and found myself skimming the pages just to finish the book.  

Overall Thoughts

Honestly, the ending totally messed this book up for me.  I may have been able to overlook the multitude of crossing plots, but I CANNOT IGNORE THAT UNSATISFACTORY ENDING!!!!  I'm so stinking mad about it!  

My Rating


Friday, September 14, 2018

Review: Paloma's Dream

About the Book

Paloma's Dream by Paloma Rambana and Hillary Ring
Published on June 1,2018 by New Iberia, LLC

Find it on Amazon!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

GoodReads Description

In a world where lobbyists are big and carry briefcases, one little girl with an IPad walked into the Florida state capitol and made a big difference. Meet Paloma Rambana who was just an above average fourth grader until she successfully lobbied the State of Florida legislature to help secure $1 million in funds for blind and visually impaired kids in Florida. Born with a rare eye condition called Peters Anomaly, Paloma knows what these kids need, and she is on a mission. Join Paloma as she sets out on her adventures to secure funding for kids, to inspire kindness and activism in people of all ages, and of course to finish her homework before bedtime.

My Thoughts

I was absolutely blown away by this book.  I typically do not review nonfiction, but I was so drawn in by Paloma's accomplishments at such a young age.  These feats are simply incredible for such a young person!  

This book is impressively written by such a young individual.  Her use of words and the flow of her memoir blew my little teacher mind.  It can be such a struggle to get my students interested in literature at all, and here is Paloma.  She enjoys lobbying and going to museums and reading!

I was surprised that I didn't spend more of this book thinking about her disorder.  Which seemed weird to me because her disorder is the reason that she was able to see the needs for teenagers in her area.  I thought much more about her interests and her accomplishments than about her inability to see properly.  At first, I was upset about this.  Wasn't the point of the book to show that despite her disability she was able to conquer?  But, I think Paloma would be happy to know that I thought of the things she did and achieved before I ever considered the things that she couldn't.  After all, those are the things that truly matter.

I am beyond excited to share Paloma's story with my seventh grade class.  So many of them are in need of inspiration and I believe that Paloma is the perfect role model for them.

My Rating


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

About the Book

Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Published on April 4, 2017 by Quirk Books

Find it on Amazon!

Neither the author nor the publisher requested this honest and unbiased review.

GoodReads Description

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic science-fiction series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck and her dad's old costume, Elle's determined to win - unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons - before he was famous. Now they're nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he has ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake - until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part-romance, part-love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

My Thoughts

Me?  Read a fairy tale retelling??  DUH!!!!!  I freaking love these things.  They are sooooooo much better than bacon!  And, to make things a million times better, I'm a total nerd!  This book was so freaking enticing, even if the weirdly girly cover did put me off a bit.

I absolutely loved this book!  When I was getting close to the last page, I actually stayed up as late as my exhausted teacher body would let me before passing out.  I woke up the next morning, still clutching to the pages of this book! 

What I Liked

  • I related to Elle so flipping much!  Not because I have a horrible family life (my family is flipping amazing), but because she is wonderfully independent.  I absolutely loved seeing a Cinderella that was bound and determined to make her own happiness happen instead of waiting for someone to come and fix it for her.  She embodied a strong female spirit that is perfectly wonderful.  I am pretty much guaranteed to love any book with a strong female lead, and Geekerella did not disappoint.
  • Darien was a wonderful guy.  I don't say that in a "He's so cute I wanna die!!!" kind of way, but in a "Thank goodness that someone is showing the softer side of a guy."  Too often, I think we are encouraged to think about the hardened exterior of our gentlemen; this book illustrates that typically hidden side.  I am so happy to see that Poston made such a bold statement in a world where boys are typically told just to suck it up.  Darien learned to make his own decisions and deal with consequences while seeing that it was OK to experience emotions rather than hide them and neglect them.
  • I know that there will be others who say that this romance wasn't very believable.  And I agree.  But, I think that this really makes the book.  After all, does the original Cinderella tale really make romantic sense?  I think that by choosing a slightly unrealistic path to a very sweet romance, Poston stayed true to the original piece.
  • The world building in this piece was immaculate.  I had no trouble visualizing every scene that Poston wrote.  The world needs more books with such beautiful writing.

What I Didn't Like As Much

  • Holy typos, Batman!  I was really surprised to see so many typos in such a well-loved book.  There were actually a few places where they distracted me from the story and interrupted the flow.
  • I hated that I couldn't reach into the book and slap Chloe. Those of you who have read the book will get it. If you haven't, go read it.  Then you can get it too.

My Rating


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Giveaway!!!!!!! Signed Copies of The Apollo Illusion by Shari Lopatin!

Who doesn’t love winning an author-signed copy of a terrific new book?


In May this year, the riveting science fiction/dystopian suspense about a future society’s frightening overdependence on technology, The Apollo Illusion, hit the market. A gripping story of opposing futures, it’s been racking up four-and-five-star reviews from readers and book bloggers. You can check out my review here! Now, author Shari Lopatin is giving away two SIGNED copies of The Apollo Illusion to two lucky winners!

Enter the Giveaway!

To enter the giveaway, sign up for Shari’s email list, “The Readers Club” before Sept. 30, 2018. Then, on Oct. 3, Shari will randomly select two lucky winners from the list of giveaway participants. You could be one of them! 

1. Sign up for Shari’s “Readers Club” at this link: https://mailchi.mp/128965a01501/apollo-illusion-giveaway-entry.

2. That’s it!

But hurry and enter now, before you forget! And you might even get a sneak peek at the opening chapters (wink, wink). 😊

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Cover Reveal: Xavier by Christina Bauer


Xavier
Christina Bauer
(Angelbound Worlds, #1)
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication date: February 25th 2020
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Find it on Amazon!
“Anyone into fantasy and other worldly experiences would enjoy these books. I am officially addicted!” – Rachely, Goodreads
I am the archangel Xavier,
General of the Angelic Army.
My life began at the dawn of time,
And in all the long eons since
I have only known war, never love.
Until HER.

Enter the Angelbound Worlds, a new series of novellas that take place within different areas and eras of the after-realms (Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, the Dark Lands, and Antrum). Don’t miss Book 1 in the Angelbound Worlds series, in which the archangel Xavier shares how he finally fell in love.
Suggested to read after Angelbound Origins Book 1.
“SUCH interesting stories!! I love the characters, the plot, the writing style. Unique, beautiful, not sappy with the romance, but steamy enough to keep my interest. DEFINITELY recommend!” – Keri, Goodreads


Author Bio:
Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers. The first three books in the series are now available as audiobooks on Audible and iTunes.
Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Cover Reveal: The Wolf of the Baskervilles by Majanka Verstraete


The Wolf of the Baskervilles
Majanka Verstraete
(The Adventures of Marisol Holmes, #3)
Publication date: June 25th 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Find it on Amazon!
Who is Marisol Holmes?
She’s a teenager.
Detective.
Jaguar shifter.
And don’t forget, she’s also the descendant of the great Sherlock Holmes.
Our heroine had been in some pretty tight spots before, but now? She’s about to face her biggest challenge yet: a powerful shifter with a taste for blood. No one has faced down the deadly wolf of the Baskervilles and lived to tell the tale.
Even so, Marisol Holmes plans to do just that.


Author Bio:
Author Majanka Verstraete has written more than twenty unique works of fiction. A native of Belgium, Majanka’s novels explore the true nature of monsters: the good, the bad, and just about every species in between. Her young adult books include the acclaimed Mirrorland (YA Dark Fantasy) and Angel of Death (YA Paranormal) series of novels. At MHB, Majanka is currently developing a new YA shifter series with a fresh take on fierce female detectives called THE ADVENTURES OF MARISOL HOLMES.
When she’s not writing, Majanka is probably playing World of Warcraft or catching up with the dozens of TV series she’s addicted to.

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Review: Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

About the Book

Published by HarperTeen on June 6, 2017

Find it on Amazon!

Neither the author nor the publisher solicited this review.  These are my honest and unbiased opinions.

GoodReads Description

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

My Thoughts

The moment I saw this book's GORGEOUS cover, I knew I had to read it.  I simply had to know what this was all about!  After reading the synopsis, I was even more certain that this book was right up my alley.  This was a wonderful introduction to Charbonneau's work!

What I Loved

  • Charbonneau writes in a very descriptive style that truly draws the reader into her words.  I especially appreciate this as a teacher because I know that a copy of this book in my classroom is sure to draw in reluctant readers and to keep their attention.  I was impressed by her choice to include sex and violence without overdoing either.  It is obvious what is happening during these scenes, but they are written in a clean and tasteful way.
  • Many times, I was certain I knew what was going to happen next. And then it didn't.  Something WAY better happened instead.  This only added to the fast pace of the plot and made sure that around each corner there was something for the reader to look for and be excited for.  The intrigue and suspense that Charbonneau creates is truly magical.
  • By far, my favorite character was Princess Carys.  I admire her steadfast bravery as she guards her family and her people.  She truly goes through an awakening not only of herself and her duty, but of what it truly means to be loyal.  In each moment that she held to her morals and her loyalty to her brother even as it was tested, I admired this strength and considered how hard that would be for a young woman to do.  I think that Princess Carys needs to go down in the literary bad***es of literature with Hermione and Katniss!

What I Wasn't A Huge Fan Of

  • Andreus.  What a piece of trash!  His character did nothing but infuriate me as he left his morals far behind him in his desperate grasp for power.  The things that he put his sister through even as she held fast to their long history of camaraderie and loyalty is truly appalling.
  • Additionally, Andreus' relationship with Imogen seems a bit forced.  It showed just how power hungry the two of them are, quite like the MacBeths.  This relationship was based on deceit and immorality despite their supposed feelings of love and loyalty to each other.
  • The most troubling thing for me, however, was the lack of concrete world building.  I know that there are these monster things but I don't know why they're so cranky. Heck, I can't even pronounce their name correctly.  Why are they so afraid of the orb?  There were so many issues with the world building that I spent a frustrating time flipping through the book to find clues as to why things mattered.  This definitely interrupted the book's flow and readability.

Overall

I truly enjoyed the quick pace of this book and the intrigue that came with it.  I believe that Charbonneau paid excellent attention to the affects that power can have on morality and on immorality.  She makes an excellent case for the ways that power can change an individual.  I would love to read this book with a class of seventh or eighth graders.  It would give me a wonderful opportunity to talk about plot, characterization, theme, setting, and many other literary elements.  

My Rating




Monday, August 20, 2018

Guest Post: The Process of Writing with A. M. Bochnak

The Process of Writing


I’m often asked about my writing process and for advice on how others should approach writing a novel. I wish there was an easy answer to this question, but it’s surprisingly a hard question. When you break down writing a novel into its simplest form, it seems so easy. You start with the basic three act structure and identify all the key plot components that need to be considered to tell an engaging story and you start writing. Sounds simple enough. Wrong.

Here’s the thing. No two people approach writing the same way. And no two people are inspired to write via the same techniques. Some people are plotters (that’s me, every detail must be planned out from beginning to end before I write a single word) and some people are pantsers (those who fly by the seat of their pants and don’t plan anything out). Personally, I have no idea how the pantsers do it, but that approach works very well for so many.

Beyond plotting, there’s the process of just sitting down to write. Sometimes I can sit down and simply brain dump. This is a process by which I don’t let myself think too much about the words I’m putting down on paper, but rather let information dump onto the page without a care in the world about the prose. Sometimes this works really well for me when I’m struggling with where to the take the characters or how to get them to the next major plot point.

As I’ve grown as a writer, I’m finding that I’m leaning on this technique a lot less than I used to. In large part, because the amount of rewriting required is significant. Yes, you read that correctly, rewriting. Writing the first draft of your first book doesn’t even scratch the surface of the amount of writing still required to make the book great.

It took me almost three years to plan, plot, organize, write, rewrite, rewrite again (and again), and edit my debut novel, Fortitude Rising. I rewrote this book so many times, I lost count of my revisions. Not everybody takes this long or goes through so many revisions to get to the final product, but for me it was very laborious and on occasion, painful. At times, I thought it would never be finished. No matter the frustration or mistakes I made, I continued and worked hard to get it right.

People are surprised to hear my writing experience with my first book and often ask me why I did it if it was so painful. All I can say is I loved every minute of it, even all the frustration and pain it caused me. There is a skillful art to writing. It’s not something you’re born great at, and you must work at it every day. Yes, it comes easier to some than others, but everyone who wants to be a good writer and write books that others will enjoy and read for years to come, must be willing to work harder than you’ve ever work before.

The good news is, it gets easier. I started writing the second book in this series, In the Wake of Rebellion, long before Fortitude Rising was published. The third book in this series is plotted and ready to write as soon as I am finished with book two. All you have to do is finish one book, that’s the hard part. The others will come and be easier than the first. The most important thing to remember through this process is to have fun. This is your imagination at it’s best and nothing should stop you from starting.



Author Bio:


A.M. Bochnak is a dreamer. With her head in the clouds or her eyes turned to the stars, she spends countless hours imagining new adventures and far off worlds for which to travel. When she isn’t dreaming, she writes science fiction and fantasy with her focus on epic fantasies, apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. Fortitude Rising, a sci-fi dystopian fantasy, is her first published novel. She is an American author, born and raised in southern Ohio and now lives in Gainesville, Florida. www.ambochnak.com





Debut Novel: Fortitude Rising, Volume One of the Magical Bond Series




Ebony Hunter has spent her entire life isolated on an island institution run by her father, Dr. Daniel Hunter. When Connor Vance and his group of outsiders are brought to the institution, they cause her to question everything her father has ever told her about the world. But who’s telling her the truth? Her father or the outsiders?

Just when she starts to open up to Connor Vance, he admits that he and his companions are on a mission to kill her and her life-long friends. Connor’s mission to kill her is halted when he realizes Ebony is a pawn, albeit a powerful pawn, in her father’s game. They must join forces and work together if they ever hope to escape the clutches of the true enemy, Dr. Hunter and Vivian Way, a political reformist.

To find the truth, and hopefully earn her freedom, Ebony must overcome her fears and embrace her magical powers. Her life depends on the trust of people she hardly knows as the battle for control of her powerful magic escalates between her and her father.

Through her journey of self-discovery, she finds friendship, love, and a strength she never knew she possessed. Everyone around her is taking sides in the struggle for power, and the lives of everyone she cares about are on the line as the tension rises in this sci-fi dystopian fantasy. Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DCF1XCP