Monday, November 24, 2014

Organ Reapers - Shay West



Genre:  Adult, Mystery, Fantasy
Source:  I received a copy to help facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

No one does time travel/portal travel like Shay West. We meet Tai and Keena who are young and definitely not from our world. They are harvesters. What are harvester?  They harvest the organs needed on their world from humans on earth.  Being a harvester is not only considered an honor, but comes with perks for the whole family.  Their religious beliefs don't allow them to take organs from their own deceased, and that is why they come to earth. One assignment is just too much for them so they decided there must be a way to stop all of the killings.

Eli and Ava are the two detectives stuck with this mystery.  These detectives have very realistic flaws.  Eli drinks too much, having caught his wife with the neighbor and then divorcing her.  Ava is a good balance to Eli.

Master Kelhar is the one sending out the harvesters.  But, is he just pure evil?  Is there a way to stop him?  Find out what happens when Eli and Ave join forces with Tai and Keena.  As always Shay West does an excellent job of story telling.  I would recommend all of her books. She did an excellent job of keeping the pace so that the reader sits on the edge of their seat waiting for the next event.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Student Saturday: Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein


Student Reviewer: Trinity M.
Genre:  Middle Grade, Mystery 


The characters are Mr. Lemoncello, Kyle, Akimi, Andrew, Miguel, Charles, and Sierra. This story takes place in a library where you have to escape by playing games doing research and using wits. It reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because of Mr. Lemoncello seemed like he had the same type of personality as Willy Wonka. Just like how  Charlie thought he wouldn’t find a golden ticket,  in this book Kyle didn’t write a long reason why he ws excited about the new library and he still got picked. I recommend this book to those people who like to play games and solve mysteries. I thought this was a five star book.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Green Dagger by Kelly Hess



Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: I received a copy to help facilitate my review. The opinons expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
Tensions rise between Delvengard and Sorak as the Sorak queen demands the return of the Blade of Torrill. As Delvengard scrambles to locate the mythical weapon, many fear war is inevitable.
Fritz, who secretly possesses the dagger, is tormented by its evil. Eager to take control of its power, he journeys in search of a mysterious being who may be able to help.
The Green Dagger, Book Two of the BlackMyst Trilogy, continues the adventure, five years after the events of Book One, Eyes of the Enemy.

My Thoughts:

I loved the first book in the BlackMyst trilogy.  This second one is just as good.  It is definitely one I will add to my shelves. When we left the first book Fritz has in his possession a special dagger.  The problem is that it has attached itself to him.  The Sorak Queen has sent people out to find and return the dagger.  We learn how and why the dagger was created.  We learn about some of its powers.  Most importantly we learn of the effect it is having on Fritz.  With Beynn by his side, Fritz sets off to find a way to control the dagger.  You have really got to read this book to find out if he is successful.  Like the first book in the series we are left waiting impatiently for the next book in this trilogy.  This is an action packed, clean series.  I have a long student waiting list for the first book in this series.  I definitely need to have the second book on my shelves.  This is a must read for all fantasy readers young or older.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Interview with Kelly Hess

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m about as boring as they come. J I live in Vacaville, CA (A shopping destination along I-80 between Sacramento and San Francisco) with my wife and twelve-year-old son. My favorite flavor ice cream is Vanilla, and I can typically be found wearing ratty jeans and a tee-shirt. All that creativity that is obviously lacking from my wardrobe and diet, I hope is being channeled into my writing.

  1. What was it like writing this book and how long did it take you?
I very much enjoyed writing this book and it went quite quickly - a couple of months. I was really excited to go back into BlackMyst and see where things might lead after the first book. Certainly, it took an unexpected direction!

  1. Where did the idea come from?
Although I think I tied up Eyes of the Enemy pretty well as a stand-alone novel, I left (intentionally or not) one giant loose end that needed exploring, and that was Fritz being in possession of the mysterious green dagger. So I just let my imagination run.

  1. What are the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of writing?
Developing a plot that really drives the story and excites the reader is always a challenge. Likewise, when I finally do link up the chain of events, it’s a lot of fun.

  1. Do you listen to music when you write?
No. I’ve found that I write best in as quiet and non-distracting an environment as possible.

  1. Where did the title come from?
The Green Dagger. Not my most creative moment. J But the dagger is at the very center of the plot, so I can’t think of what else I would have titled it. Maybe, “Fritz’s Big Adventure”?

  1. What or who inspires you to write?
My son. I started writing for him. I wanted to create something that I thought he’d enjoy. He really liked what I wrote and from there, things just kind of snowballed.

  1. Do you have any habits when you write?
Quiet. If I can be alone in the house when I’m writing, that’s always best for me.

  1. What is something surprising or shocking about you that most people don’t know?
I suffered a brain aneurysm several years back that limited my ability to use my left side. All three books of my BlackMyst Trilogy were typed using only my right hand. This hasn’t really been too much of a problem since I couldn’t type worth a damn to begin with.

  1. What was your favorite part about writing the book?
Finishing it! Seriously, there are few feelings better that completing a book.

  1. What are you currently working on?
I’m writing on another YA fantasy. Not as much magic as in BlackMyst, but hopefully just as magical.

  1. In your opinion, what makes a book good or bad?
Story, Plot, Characters (Not necessarily in that order).
If a writer can make me care about what’s happening in a book; make me care about the characters, I’ll read to the last page. If, as a reader, I don’t care what happens next, what’s the point?



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Tree of Water by Elizabeth Haydon

Genre:  Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to help facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
The epic voyages continue in The Tree of Water, the fourth adventure in bestselling author Elizabeth Haydon’s acclaimed fantasy series for young readers, The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme.

As Royal Reporter of the land of Serendair, it is the duty of young Charles Magnus "Ven" Polypheme to travel the world and seek out magic hiding in plain sight. But Ven needs to escape the clutches of the nefarious Thief Queen, ruler of the Gated City, whose minions are hunting for him. His friend, the merrow Amariel, has the perfect solution to his dilemma: Ven and Char will join her to explore the world beneath the sea.

As they journey through the sea, Ven finds himself surrounded by wonders greater than he could have ever imagined. But the beauty of the ocean is more than matched by the dangers lurking within its depths, and Ven and his friends soon realize that in order to save thousands of innocent lives, they may have to sacrifice their own. For everything in the ocean needs to eat…

My Thoughts:
The preface hooked me.  When the author named a place” Ketchup-upon-Hamburg, South Germany”  and talked about “attending a yak milking seminar in the high peaks of Katmandont” I was hooked.  I  interrupted my husband to reread the lines to him.  I knew then I would enjoy this book because of the word play.

The author wrote the story in first person through Ven’s journals and then third person throughout the rest. Ven tells us he is from the race of people known as Nain. They live with humans in Vaarn. Here is how he describes them. “…Nain are somewhat shorter than humans, and grumpier. They live almost four times as long as humans, and tend to be much less curious, and much less adventurous. They hate to travel, don’t swim, and generally do not like other people. Especially those who are not Nain. I clearly am not a good example of my race.” The minute I read that last line I was sucked into this wonderful world. He described himself as tall for a Nain. He used sixty-eight Knuckles high as the measurement. I knew I had found an author with such a creative and imaginative mind that it left no doubt I would love this book.

The adventure begins with Ven and his best friend trying to find a fisherman to cut gill slits in their neck. Before the slits can be cut,  Madam Sharra shows up and gives him another dragon scale.  He must evade the  Thief Queen, who is the ruler of the Gated City.  Ven must travel with his friend Char and merrow friend Aariel to the bottom of the sea to find the Tree of Water. Finally, he mustreturn the dragon scale to its proper owner, the dragon it came from.  He must also avoid getting them all killed by the predators of the sea.


I loved the Reader’s guide in the back of the book.  It is aligned to the Common Core Standards. There are discussion Questions as well as Writing and Research Activities.  This is the fourth book in this series.  It read as a stand alone book.  However, I feel I missed some great adventures by not reading the first three books; The Floating Island,  The Thief Queen’s Daughter and The  Dragon’s lair.  I will be purchasing them for my shelves and reading them.    Great fantasy lover.  This is one I am not going to be able to keep on my shelves and one I may need to purchase as a giveaway prize for my students.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Three Wonderful Children's Books

Carole P. Roman has come out with two more books in the "If You Were Me and Lived in...." series.

If You Were Me and Lived in Peru
The first one is about Peru.  In this book we learn the capital is Lima and we learn the word actually means "talker.  We also learn common names for boys and girls.  If you visit you will want to know that their money is called nuevos soles. You will learn a little bit about the Incas.  You will read about some of their favorite foods such as fried guinea pig.  Peru is the potato capital where you will find about 4000 kinds of potatoes.  There is so many more cultural things to learn as you take this wonderful trip to Peru.

If You Were Me and Lived in Greece


The second book is about Greece.  Here you will learn the capital is Athens and is known as the birthplace of democracy.  Money used to be call drachmas, but now the use Euros.  Common foods are stuffed grape leaves, octopus, or grilled slabs of white cheese. You will want to have dessert which is a donut covered with honey and cinnamon.  This is where the Olympics originated.  During the Feast of St. Basil if you find a coin in your piece of cake then you will have good luck all year.





True Tails from the Dog Park by Max & Luther 

This wonderful book is a wealth of information for people who take their dogs to dog parks.  The stories are told by two dogs, Max and Luther.  You will hook kids when you read the section titled, Picky Poop Eater.  I laughed so hard when I read that Max was a poop eater.  But, he was picky.  He didn't eat his own poop, he ate other dog's poop.  These cute stories are followed by signposts or newspaper looking articles that tell you what you should or should not do,  There is definite humor the way this is written.  We are told that dogs view kids as fun toys.  The tales told from a dogs perspective are great for teaching adults and kids about dog parks.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Homeowner With a Gun by Samuel Hawley


Genre:  Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Source:  I received a copy to help facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
It's the middle of the night. You’re awakened by a noise. Someone is in your house. What do you do?

When it happens at 148 Maple Drive, homeowner Jeff Shaw gets his gun and goes downstairs to investigate while his wife calls 9-1-1. It’s their home, after all. Jeff has to protect it. He finds two men in the kitchen and shoots them both. Dead.

The incident puts great strain on Jeff and his family. He wants to believe they just need to get on with their lives and everything will return to normal. But it’s not that easy. The dead intruders belonged to a gang, ANG, “Ain’t No Game,” that now wants revenge. And one of the gang, an ex-con who goes by the name I-Man, knows more about the break-in than he’s letting on.

It starts with a threatening phone call. Then it gets worse. The police, unable to protect the Shaws, suggest they move away for a while. But Jeff isn't going to be intimidated from his house. Homeowner With a Gun takes the reader on a suspense-filled thrill ride as this everyman fights to save himself and his family, while something a detective said plays in the back of his mind: Maybe the intruders broke into the wrong house. Happens all the time. You wouldn’t believe how often...

My Thoughts:
This is a story that could have been ripped right out of today’s headlines.  It was terrifying.  I could feel the fear of the homeowners knowing someone was in their house.  I can only imagine how  Jeff and his wife felt during the drive by shooting.  First is the fear and then the sheer panic when your find your daughter has been shot.  I felt so sorry for their son who witnessed it all.  I have heard stories like this from students who live in violent neighborhoods.  It reminded me of a poem a student wrote about himself. It was an “I am, I was, I will be” poem.  He feared he would be killed in a drive-by shooting and by the end of the poem he imagined himself headed to heaven because he would be dead.  I wondered if those in the gang felt so helpless at some point in their lives.

I was grateful we got to see the thinking behind both sides, Jeff’s side and the gang’s side.  I sat on the edge of my seat in fear for Jeff and wondering if and when things were going to end.  This was  the first  book I had read by this author and I would definitely read more.  This is a face paced book and one I recommend.

About the Author From Goodreads:
Samuel Hawley was born and grew up in South Korea, the son of missionary parents. After earning BA and MA degrees in history from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, he returned to East Asia for two decades to teach, first in Japan and then Korea, retiring in 2007 as an associate professor of English at Yonsei University in Seoul.

It was in Japan that Hawley started writing for magazines and newspapers on topics ranging from travel and Japanese fashion to sumo wrestling and fishing at downtown tsuribori. By the late 1990s he had turned his attention to books, notably The Imjin War, the most comprehensive account in English of Japan’s sixteenth-century invasion of Korea and attempted conquest of China. His other Asia-themed books are America’s Man in Korea and Inside the Hermit Kingdom, concerning George C. Foulk, America’s diplomatic representative in Seoul at the time of Korea’s opening to the West. 

Hawley switched his focus to popular nonfiction after returning to Canada in 2007. His first work in this new vein was Speed Duel: The Inside Story of the Land Speed Record in the Sixties, which received starred reviews in both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. He followed this with I Just Ran: Percy Williams, World’s Fastest Human, named one of the five “Best Sports Books of 2011” by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). He has most recently turned his hand to writing historical fiction with his first novel, Bad Elephant Far Stream.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Soul Thief Blog Tour

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The Soul Thief (The Angel of Death Series #1)
by Majanka Verstraete
Publisher: Booktrope
Published: November 11, 2014
Genre: YA, Paranormal
9781620155585_front   When sixteen-year-old Riley is injured in a car crash and sees a girl stealing a boy’s soul, she’s convinced she’s hallucinating. But when she sees the same girl at the hospital later, she knows she wasn’t dreaming. That’s when Riley learns her secret heritage and who she really is: a halfling Angel of Death. Riley must come to terms with her new reality and supernatural abilities, but before she can do this, girls her age start dying in mysterious circumstances. It’s up to Riley to figure out why, what the innocent victims have in common, and what she can do to stop them.

My Review

This was an on the edge of your seat story.  The action starts on the very first page.  You think you know someone only to find out that they were not who you thought they were and things were not the way you perceived them to be.  Told from the perspective of a sixteen year old girl, this book is sure to grab the attention of those who love YA books.  Anyone who has loved reading angel and demon book series will definitely love this one. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best out there.  Riley is one of those characters with plenty of flaws. Yet it is this flaw that lets us identify with her. She is motivated into action by her love for her friends, and her determination to protect them.  This is what will lead her in all of her endeavors.  The characters are so well drawn that I actually felt like I was sitting in the room eavesdropping on their conversations. There was no over the top voodoo type things that gave it an out of the world, hard to believe fantasy feel.  Even the mention of vampires was explained in a realistic way, based on the context of the story. I have some students at school that I know would love reading this book.  I will definitely need to buy it for my shelves at school and a copy to give away to those students I know would want something like this in their own personal library.  I have a love hate relationship with series like this.  As much as I love the book, I hate having to wait for the next book in the series to come out. I will definitely be looking forward to the next book in this one. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. 

Excerpt

  “Let’s vote,” the man who’d touched me proposed. “Who is in favor of executing the Halfling?” That was the moment when it actually fully hit me. They might execute me. Kill me. My knees gave way and if Diane hadn’t grabbed my arm just then, I would’ve fallen. “Stand up straight,” she hissed at me. “You’re an Angel, not a coward.” So I did, even though exhaustion swept over me as if I’d worked for seven days in a row without any sleep. Sweat dripped down my forehead and a fever wrapped itself around me. A lot of Council members raised their hands at the giant’s question. I started hyperventilating. “That’s more than half.” I gripped Diane’s arm with all my strength. If I hurt her, she didn’t let it show. A light blush rose on her cheeks though and she bit her lip as if she felt guilty but wanted to act tough. “It has been decided,” the leader-guy said. “She shall be executed.” Before I had time to faint, scream, or do something else dramatic, the silver-haired woman rose from her seat. Her hood slipped off, and my breath got stuck in my throat. She had the kind of face painters would dream to eternalize on canvas. From the color of her hair, I’d anticipated her being old, but she appeared in her twenties. Large, silver eyes stared at me. Her skin was the color of porcelain, without any blemish, as if she was made of wax. “I, Seraphyn,” she said, “call in my veto.”

About the Author

majanka

  Majanka Verstraete begged her Mom to teach her how to read while she was still in kindergarten. By the time she finished fifth grade, she had read through the entire children’s section of her hometown library. She wrote her first story when she was seven years old, and hasn’t stopped writing since. With an imagination that never sleeps, and hundreds of possible book characters screaming for her attention, writing is more than a passion for her. She writes about all things supernatural for children of all ages. She’s tried to write contemporary novels before, but something paranormal always manages to crawl in. Majanka is currently studying for her Master of Laws degree, and hopes one day to be able to combine her passions for law and writing. When she’s not writing, reading or studying, she likes watching “The Vampire Diaries” and “Game of Thrones,” spending time with her friends, or playing “World of Warcraft.”
Tour Schedule
November 12 Write Away Bliss - Schedule / Excerpt The Musings of a Book Addict - Review Suzy Turner, Author - Author Interview The Best Books Ever - Character Bio, Dreamcast, Excerpt November 13 Country Book Bumpkin - Review, Soundtrack, Excerpt Reese's Reviews - Review, Character Bio, Dreamcast Pinky's Favorite Reads - Top Ten, Excerpt November 14 Indy Book Fairy - Review, Excerpt Kimber Leigh Writes - Top Ten, Excerpt Here is What I Read - Author Interview, Dreamcast, Soundtrack, Excerpt Writing Belle - Character Bios November 15 A Book Paradise - Author Interview, Soundtrack, Excerpt Endless Reading - Review, Excerpt The Literary Melting Pot - Review November 16 Roxy's Reviews - Review, Character Bios, Top Ten Real Talk, Book Talk - Dreamcast, Excerpt Becca Anne's Book Reviews - Review, Character Bio, Dreamcast Nerd Girl Official - Excerpt November 17 Deal Sharing Aunt - Author Interview, Top Ten, Excerpt Star Shadow Blog - Character Bio, Dreamcast, Soundtrack Dystopia Capitol - Review November 18 Kristy Centro - Character Bios Whispered Thoughts - Character Bios, Excerpt, Soundtrack Little Hyuts Reviews - Dreamcast November 19 Step Into Fiction - Review, Excerpt Behind the Pages - Author Interview, Dreamcast, Excerpt This Redhead Loves Books - Review, Excerpt The Avid Reader - Soundtrack, Character Bios November 20 Tracy's Nook - Review, Character Interview The Pleasure of Reading - Excerpt Bex n Books - Character Bios Becky's Barmy Book Blog - Top Ten, Excerpt November 21 Relaxed Reads - Dreamcast Renee Entress's Blog - Review Books and Friendz - Character Bio, Excerpt Pretty in Fiction - Top Ten, Excerpt Kat's Book Promotions - Dreamcast

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Soul Thief Release Day Blitz

rdb banner  
The Soul Thief (The Angel of Death Series #1)
by Majanka Verstraete
Publisher: Booktrope
Genre: YA, Paranormal
9781620155585_front   When sixteen-year-old Riley is injured in a car crash and sees a girl stealing a boy’s soul, she’s convinced she’s hallucinating. But when she sees the same girl at the hospital later, she knows she wasn’t dreaming. That’s when Riley learns her secret heritage and who she really is: a halfling Angel of Death. Riley must come to terms with her new reality and supernatural abilities, but before she can do this, girls her age start dying in mysterious circumstances. It’s up to Riley to figure out why, what the innocent victims have in common, and what she can do to stop them.

Excerpt

 
teaser3

Buy Links:

About the Author

majanka

Majanka Verstraete begged her Mom to teach her how to read while she was still in kindergarten. By the time she finished fifth grade, she had read through the entire children’s section of her hometown library. She wrote her first story when she was seven years old, and hasn’t stopped writing since. With an imagination that never sleeps, and hundreds of possible book characters screaming for her attention, writing is more than a passion for her. She writes about all things supernatural for children of all ages. She’s tried to write contemporary novels before, but something paranormal always manages to crawl in. Majanka is currently studying for her Master of Laws degree, and hopes one day to be able to combine her passions for law and writing. When she’s not writing, reading or studying, she likes watching “The Vampire Diaries” and “Game of Thrones,” spending time with her friends, or playing “World of Warcraft.”

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Innkeeper of Bethlehem by Scott Roloff



Genre: Christian Fantasy
Source: I purchased

When I was a child my mom would sit us down each night for a Bible story.  This was our devotional time.  It was important to her that we learn the importance of hearing and telling the stories at a young age.  This book would be great for parents who want to continue sharing stories nightly with their children.  This is a wonderful way to bring Santa Claus into the Christmas story. 

The story starts off with a visit from an aunt, uncle and cousin from Jerusalem to their relatives in the United States.  The kids, Kallie and Pinkie, love to hear their Uncle Aaron tell stories and beg him for one.  He tells them that the story he is going to tell them started in Bethlehem. Instead of the usual story of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus, he tells the story from the perspective of the Innkeepers Shai and Adi.  They rent out every available space in the inn, and are forced to sleep in the stable.  Adi was not happy about this.  Then along come Mary and Joseph.  Mary gives birth to baby Jesus.  It is shortly after this the story takes a turn.  When Mary and Joseph flee from Herod, Shai and Adi travel with them.

Uncle Aaron knows just when to stop a story to keep the audience hanging.  That is what he does.  He tells them just a little bit each day up to Christmas.  That is what is unique about this book.  This book is set up so that you can read it in one sitting, like I did, or you can read a chapter a night.  I think that this would be the best way to do this with little kids. 

Where does Santa fit into all of this?  I really think you need to read the book to find out.  For those who want a Christian story with no deviation then this might not be the book for you.  For those of you who want a book that tells the story of Jesus from birth to death and yet brings in the secular part of Christmas, then this is definitely the book for you.  Just remember it is not all fact.  That is not what the author set out to do.  It is a lot easier to show Santa’s beginnings this way than to fill your child’s mind with the rosy cheeked Santa they see on all of the  TV programs then tell them one day.  Oh I figured you would be old enough to understand there is no such thing as Santa.  At least this book tells the story of Santa’s beginnings as if it is a tale being told to children.  I loved it.  I can’t wait to share it with my grand kids this year.  I am purchasing a copy for my daughter to read to them.  I’d like for her to start that tradition each year.

About the Author

Scott Roloff is the author of the Christmas book The Innkeeper of Bethlehem-The Story of Santa Claus, the novel Dreams at Dusk and Short Stories for the Hopeful and the Weary. He is a lawyer and a CPA, having received his accounting degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, his MBA from the University of Texas at Arlington, and his law degree from Southern Methodist University. Scott lives in Texas with his wife, Lynne.