RESURRECTION LILY: A Memoir of the BRCA Gene, Hereditary Cancer and Lifesaving Whispers From the Grandmother I Never Knew by AMY BIER SHAINMAN is a heart wrenching read, but THIS BOOK MIGHT JUST SAVE YOUR LIFE

Title: RESURRECTION LILY

Subtitle: THE BRCA GENE, HEREDITARY CANCER & LIFESAVING WHISPERS FROM THE GRANDMOTHER I NEVER KNEW – A MEMOIR

Author: AMY BYER SHAINMAN

Genre: MEMOIRS AND BIOGRAPHIES, NON-FICTION, HEALTH AND WELLNESS, MEDICAL CARE

Length: 291 PAGES

Publisher: ARCHWAY PUBLISHING

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: DECEMBER 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4808-6706-2

Price: $19.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Resurrection Lily shares a gene.story of inheritance and intuition, of what can surface in the body and the spirit when linked by DNA. As Amy Byer Shainman discovers she has inherited a BRCA gene mutation that puts her at high risk of developing certain cancers, she struggles to come to terms with preventively removing her breasts when she does not have a breast cancer diagnosis. Through her experience making decisions about her health, Amy becomes invigorated with purpose and establishes herself as a leading advocate for those with BRCA and other hereditary cancer syndromes, tirelessly working to educate others facing the same daunting reality.

Painting a timely and moving portrait of what it feels like to carry a BRCA gene mutation, Resurrection Lily provides firsthand insight into the patient experience. Weaved throughout Amy’s open and vulnerable story is the expertise of her doctors, education from top medical experts in cancer genetics, and whispered lifesaving guidance from her grandmother Lillian.

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MY REVIEW:

Before reading this memoir I had some small knowledge regarding the BRCA gene. If I had been asked before reading this book whether I felt I was fairly well informed on the subject of breast cancer and the BRCA Gene, I would have confidently said that I was. Now, upon completion of Amy Byer Shainman’s memoir, I know I was mistaken.

The reason I am including the above fact is that, I think many people will feel that they already have enough knowledge on Breast Cancer and on the BRCA Gene. I urge those of you who are thinking along those lines, to trust me and to pick up a copy of this memoir (and one for each of your friends and family members.) I guarantee that if you do, you will be grateful that you did. IT MIGHT EVEN SAVE YOUR LIFE – OR THE LIFE OF SOMEONE CLOSE TO YOU.

I do not want to misrepresent this book. It is NOT a dry, medical text full of facts, figures and survival rates. Instead, first and foremost it is the story of Amy and her family. It is a memoir, but is not JUST a memoir. Amy’s story is an interesting one and what struck me the most was the utter normality of her life before her unasked for trip into the world of Breast Cancer and gene studies. She could have been anyone. In fact, she could have been you. She could have been me.

When Amy’s sister is diagnosed with cancer, it changes Amy’s whole life. Then, her husband’s co-worker and close friend to both him and to Amy, is diagnosed with breast cancer as well.

Amy began looking into these cancers and discovered that there are some genetic components to breast cancer and especially to having the BRCA gene.

This book also contains quotes by specialists as well as short anecdotes written by other people who have had their own personal experiences with the BRCA Gene.

Because Amy is a “regular” person and not a doctor, this story, as well as the information contained within, is written in easy to understand prose and is NOT filled with technical jargon.

Amy does a fabulous job of conveying the conflicting emotions she experienced while worrying about her sister, worrying about her friend, all while making difficult decisions regarding her own medical issues. Readers will find themselves invested in the decisions. I even cried a few times.

Maya Angelou once said “When women take care of their health they become their own best friend.” I firmly believe this and reading this memoir has served to strengthen that belief even further.”

This book is all about Maya’s message which has become Amy’s mission in life. She has become the BRCA RESPONDER and is dedicated to helping other BRCA positive people to navigate through the health care system.

Simply put, this book might save your life, and because of that fact, to me, it is a “No-brainer.” You should not only want to read this book, you NEED to read this book.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

(Photographer: Debby Gans Photography)

Amy Byer Shainman, also known as the BRCA Responder, is a passionate patient advocate for those with BRCA and other hereditary cancer syndromes. While Angelina Jolie inherited her BRCA1 gene mutation from her mother, Amy inherited her BRCA1 gene mutation from her father. In 2010, Amy had two prophylactic surgeries to reduce her cancer risk drastically; a nipple sparing, skin-sparing mastectomy with reconstruction and oophorectomy with a hysterectomy.

Amy Byer Shainman, also known as BRCA Responder, is a patient advocate who provides support and education surrounding BRCA and other hereditary cancer syndromes. She’s the executive producer of the award-winning documentary “Pink & Blue: Colors of Hereditary Cancer” and the author of the award-winning medical memoir “Resurrection Lily: The BRCA Gene, Hereditary Cancer & Lifesaving Whispers from the Grandmother I Never Knew.” As a BRCA1 gene mutation carrier, Shainman has been featured in Cure Magazine, The Jewish Journal, and The Palm Beach Post, as well as numerous live and taped television and radio segments nationwide. As a digital ambassador for the National Society of Genetic Counselors gene pool, she is considered one of fifteen influencers who have unique perspectives and knowledge in the fields of genetics and genetic counseling. Her articles have been published in The American Journal of Managed Care, Jupiter Magazine, and Oncology Nursing News.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.brcaresponder.com

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GOODREADS
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FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

PINTEREST

LINKEDIN

GOOGLE PLAY BOOKS

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PATIENT’S STORIES PODCAST

WON AWARD

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SOME OF THE MANY RESOURCES SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED IN THIS BOOK INCLUDE:

– A Documentary DVD from PBS called IN THE FAMILY (not the Archie Bunker sitcom)

The BE BRIGHT PINK Website
http://www.bebrightpink.com

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The FACING OUR RISK EMPOWERED Website
http://www.facingourrisk.org

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DR. JOHN A.P. RIMMER, FACS, FRCS, BREAST SURGEON

DR. DAVID A. LICKSTEIN, MD, FACS, DIPLOMATE, AMERICAN BOARD OF PLASTIC SURGERY

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CENTER FOR BRCA RESEARCH HEREDITARY CANCER CLINIC

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#BRCA #hereditarycancer #previvor #ovariancancer #breastsurgeon #cancerprevention #plasticsurgery #advocacy #womenfilmmakers #plasticsurgeon #brcasisterhood #breastcancer #mastectomy #menshealth #womenshealth #resurrectionlily #geneCSM #NetGalley #bookreview #memoir #biography #cancer #genetics #genetictesting #book #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #bookblog #bookreviewer #tbr #mustread #thefinchbook
#Amiesbookreviews #cancerbook #5Stars #5Star #5StarBook #cancerawareness #facingourrisk #FORCE #facingourriskempowered
#licksteinplasticsurgery #BRCAResponder #AmyByerShainman

THE QUEST by Lara Kellett-Smith is Young Adult Fantasy Fiction at it’s Very Best

Title: THE QUEST

Series: FIRST SNOW – BOOK ONE

Author: LARA KELLETT-SMITH

Genre: FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, FANTASY FICTION, SOCIAL THEMES

Length: 392 PAGES

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: DECEMBER 30, 2018

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Hashtag tricked.

Hashtag coerced.

Hashtag there are no hashtags here…wherever here is.

Seventeen-year-old Jemma Alder is easy prey for her classmate. Tricked into crossing to another world and coerced into going on a dangerous Quest, Jemma must quickly learn how to survive in an 18th-century-like land against an unknown enemy. By her side is Aaron Norling…but tribal laws, ancient prejudices, and family secrets soon threaten their fragile love.

Suitable for ages 13+

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MY REVIEW:

THE QUEST is a FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC young adult novel and the beginning of what promises to be an awesome new series.

The official description of this book just does not do it justice. Although the beginning takes place in the real world, it is a small part of the overall tale.

With exquisite prose, an epic journey, adventure, a battle between good and evil, a budding romance, magic, shapeshifters, and a beautifully described new world, this book is not to be missed.

What reader hasn’t dreamed of being swept up, away from their everyday lives and into the adventure of a lifetime? One of the reasons the fantasy genre is so popular is our desire to live vicariously through the characters in a book. THE QUEST embodies this desire perfectly.

QUEST begins in present day Yorkshire, England, but soon moves to a parallel world with almost nothing in common with the modern world. At Jemma’s “home” in England, it is winter, however, when she arrives in the strange, new land of Terran, she realizes the seasons have changed in an instant. It is now spring (or maybe summer – at first she is unsure.) The landscape is completely different as well. Gone are the fields of Yorkshire. In their place, is a lush valley with mountains in the distance.

Jemma is a character that most teens (as well as most adults) can relate to.

Jemma somehow fits in beautifully with Aaron Norling’s family, and they take her into their home, and eventually, into their hearts. The clan of which Aaron and his family are part of are the Loukyn Clan – shapeshifters who turn into wolves. Jemma does not discover their magic for some time, but once she is finally able to wrap her mind around the fact that shapeshifters are real, and that they are a reality in Terran, she learns more and more about her adoptive land and it’s inhabitants.

She discovers that there are many different clans and that each clan shapeshifts into a unique animal. There is a Bear clan, an Eagle clan, a horse clan, etc. Jemma soon learns that racism and classism are rampant in Terran and that exile is the punishment for falling in love and mating with a member of a different clan. This bothers her immensely and rightly so.

However, trying to change their culture is secondary to the fact that she is to take part in a dangerous quest to retrieve a special plant from high up on a glacier.

THE QUEST is the story of their travels and all the obstacles that the six Questers must overcome. To make their journey even more difficult, it seems that someone, or something, is doing its best to ensure the failure of their task even if that means they all must die.

The story moves at a pulse-pounding rate and readers cannot stop themselves from becoming engrossed in the story. In fact, this book is UN-PUT-DOWNABLE!!!

Add in the fact that Jemma and Aaron are drawn to each other by an inescapable attraction and a mutual respect that causes their feelings of friendship and admiration to turn into so much more. But, this budding romance faces challenges at every turn, some of which might be impossible to overcome.

I hope I have intrigued potential readers to pick up a copy of this Indie authored Young Adult Fantasy novel. It will not disappoint you. This author has a true gift for characterization, world building as well as an intuitive sense for pacing.

I rate THE QUEST as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I am eagerly awaiting the second and third books in this series and I now a dedicated Lara Kellett-Smith fan.
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****Thank you very much to Author Lara Kellett-Smith for providing me with a free copy of this amazing, new, Young Adult Fiction novel.****

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hi, I’m Lara…teacher, avid reader, and author of books for children and young adults. My stories have an adventurous element, and I’m a huge romantic so you’ll find plenty of this in my YA work.

I’m from the island of Guernsey, Channel Islands (Uh, huh…as in ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society’ by Shaffer and Barrows), but also spent my childhood on the tiny Scottish island of Tanera Mhor (no roads or shops, and we had to go to school by boat), and the Scottish Highlands of Glencoe (the region where they filmed Harry Potter…and Braveheart, Rob Roy, The Highlander, and The Loch series, to name a few. Popular scenery!).

It was an adventurous upbringing with lots of freedom, spent at the beach, on boats, and in the forests and mountains (with my dog, Heidi). My love of outdoor swimming and skiing were developed from an early age; I learned to swim in a rockpool, and to ski on the rugged slopes of White Corries, Glencoe. I confess, though, that having lived in a Swiss ski resort for twenty years, I’m a bit spoilt now for long, wide pristine slopes and lots of cafes!

I spent three months of my gap year in remote parts of northern Australia, with Operation Raleigh and continued my travels with a year’s university exchange to SUNY Plattsburgh, USA – then taught in primary/elementary school in Aviemore, Scotland, and Prague, Czech Republic. I’ve been settled, as a teacher, in Switzerland for twenty years.

Fun fact: My home base for twenty-five years was Glencoe and I now live in the Swiss canton of Vaud. The father of Ian Fleming’s character, James Bond, was from Glencoe, and Bond’s mother was from the Swiss Canton of Vaud!

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.larakellettsmith.com

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

PICTOSEE

AMAZON

HYPEHUB

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HOW IT ALL BEGAN:

This entire series stemmed from a single quote by J.B. Priestley, that I spotted in a magazine…however, I’m still awaiting updated permission to use it, so you’ll have to try and figure it out for yourself!

But here’s a clue: I’m a huge fan of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and always wanted to write a two-world fantasy story. This quote sparked an idea, then another, then another, until I had characters and countries, and worlds.

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CAST OF CHARACTERS:

THE EARTHENS:

Jemma Alder-Norling: (17) Orphaned at thirteen and raised by her stepfather.

Lord Robert Clayworth: Jemma’s stepfather.

Captain James Cook: An earthen, who sailed as a cabin boy with Captain James Cook.

Grace: Jemma’s feisty best friend, currently dating Ben. Her mum is a paramedic.

Ben: Jemma’s friend and recently Grace’s boyfriend.

Yash: Jemma, Grace and Ben’s friend.

Octavia: Part of Veronika’s ‘Elite’ clique.

Miranda: Part of Veronika’s ‘Elite’ clique.

Florence: Part of Veronika’s ‘Elite’ clique.

Charles: Captain of the football (soccer) team. Veronika’s boyfriend.

Henry: Friend of Charles.

THE LOST VALLEY LOUKYN CLAN:

Isaac Norling (father): Missing, presumed captured by slavers.

Amos Isaac Norling: (21) betrothed to childhood sweetheart, Bronwen Allan.

Aaron Finlay Norling: (17) First met Jemma on Earth at Gunnar High. Leader of the questers.

Olaf Reistad (father): Missing, presumed captured by slavers.

Mary Reistad (mother): Known for her gentle demeanour and homemaking skills.

Yari Reistad: (17) Twin brother to Rose. One of the six questers.

Rose Reistad: (17) Twin sister to Yari. Whereabouts unknown.

Poppy Reistad: (13) Feisty, adventurous identical twin sister to Daisy.

Daisy Reistad: (13) Creative, thoughtful identical twin sister to Poppy.

Bryn Allan (father): Missing, presumed captured by slavers.

Clara Killin-Allan (mother): A ‘tough cookie’ responsible for the farm animals.

Bronwen Allan: (20) Betrothed to Amos Norling.

Bree Allan: (17) One of the six questers. Skilled with a bow and arrow.

Bess Allan: (10) Adores dressing in frilly, girly clothes.

Shaun Allan: (2 ½ )

Edwyn Killin: Clara Allan’s father.

Nora Killin: Clara Allan’s mother.

Elgan Killin: Edwyn’s brother. Shared his cabin with James Cook.

Anders Killin: Cousin to Edwyn and Elgan. Married to Dena.

Dena Killin: Wife to Anders.

(The Killins are guardians of the warning beacon at Killin’s Post)

Hendrik Karloff (father): Loukyn Clan Chief and voted as next Righnar of Alligand.

Gwyn Karloff (mother)

Landon Karloff: (19)

Veronika Karloff: (17) Studying on Earth, she tricked Jemma into using the ring and crossing to Terran in her stead.

Felix Jensen: (father) Missing, presumed captured by slavers.

Oskar Jensen: (17) One of the six questers. Engaged to Wanda. Has younger triplet brothers.

Doctor Falk: Local doctor.

Wanda Falk: (17) One of the six questers. Engaged to Oskar.

Aldora Judd: Like a grandmother to Aaron and true mate/girlfriend of Captain James Cook.

Konselor Enid: Clan elder / member of the Loukyn Konsul.

Konselor Kaisa: Clan elder / member of the Loukyn Konsul.

Konselor Jonah: Clan elder / member of the Loukyn Konsul.

Joseph: Farmer and neighbour to the Reistads/Allans.

Carrig: (18) Landon’s friend. Demi-kyn whose wolf is dominant. Mother is Merkyn.

Garth: (19) Landon’s friend.

Rhys Evans (father): An excomunicated loukyn from the Fern Valley Clan. Lives in the Ukyent.

Alice Evans (mother / wife): A domaren from Novitalia

Reanna Evans: (16)

Deri Evans: (15) Demi-kyn, wolf shifter.

Idelle Evans: (14)

THE AIKYN TRIBE:

Kirill Orel: (father) Elder in the Aikyn Tribe.

Darina Orel: (mother)

Yerik Orel: (18) Befriended Aaron when he lived up north during his ‘Finding’.

Kristina Alexeev: (18)

THE WHYTIE TRIBE

THE EQUOSKYN TRIBE

Nikolas Duke: A horse shifter, lawyer and friend to the Yenti chieftains.

THE YENTI:

Prifar Vandar : Ourskyn – Chieftain of the Yenti Tribe. Twin brother to Bard, chief of an Ourskyn clan. Exiled from his clan when he married Emmeline.

Primor Emmeline: (Omnishifter) Chieftain of the Yenti Tribe.

Liv: (24) ourskyn – daughter of the chieftains.

Fergal: (19) omnishifter – son of the chieftains. Bonded to Aaron.

Valda: (18) lynxkyn – daughter of the chieftains.

Halvard: ourskyn – Chief of the Yenti guard.

Hadwin (Serpentine): Member of the guard. Penelope’s father.

Helga (Demi-kyn, wolf/skallert parents): Penelope’s mother.

Penelope (Demi-kyn, skallert): Daughter of Helga and Hadwin

MONSTERLAND by Michael Okon BOOK BLITZ & GIVEAWAY TO WIN A $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD

Title: Monsterland Reanimated

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Series: Monsterland Book 2

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Author: Michael Okon
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Publication date: April 13th 2018

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Genres: Horror, Young Adult Fiction, YA Lit

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DESCRIPTION:

After Monsterland has imploded, the entire world is thrown into chaos. World leadership is gone, economies have collapsed, and communications are non-existent. Wyatt must go beyond the boundaries of his small town to reestablish contact with the outside world, and alert the government about a traitor-in-chief.

During his journey he discovers a new threat released from the bowels of the defunct theme park.

When an army of relentless mummies, a life-sucking ooze called The Glob, and a hybrid reanimated Behemoth rise from the depths of Monsterland, who will survive?

“Another true gem of dark fantasy action/adventure by a master of the genre, Michael Okon’s “Monsterland Reanimated” is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Fantasy Fiction collections.” – Midwest Book Review

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To Purchase This Book, or others in the Monsterland Series, click on one of the following links:

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

The Night After the Monsterland Catastrophe

A bright moon painted the desert’s surface pewter. Here and there, dark spots soiled the landscape like oil spills. Most of the bodies had been taken before the troops were ordered to leave. They carted away the corpses, bulldozing the zombies into mass graves, until radios chirped with urgent orders deploying the soldiers to the bigger threats that erupted in the main cities like a chain of angry volcanos.

Monsterland was extinguished, its carcass left for the vultures to pick, the exhibits silent as a tomb.

The dead president and his equally dead entourage were whisked away on Air Force One, along with the dark-clad special operatives that came and left like the brisk desert wind that now howled through the empty streets.

A gate screamed in the silence, slamming with a reverberating smash. The uneven gait of someone with a physical challenge filled the void. The scrape and plod of his limp echoed against the wall of mountains framing the theme park. His labored breathing huffed as he made his way down the streets.

A door creaked loudly as it was blown by the wind. He stopped, his distorted figure silhouetted in the pale moonlight, his body turning silver. He looked at the broken glass littering the pavement like diamonds, then up to the still, pre-dawn sky. He considered the sun peeking over the jagged horizon in the east, its golden light painting the dips and hollows of the hills. Soon the coming day would chase the darkness away.

Time was the enemy now. He had to move faster, or it would be too late. He picked up his pace, lurching along the winding road. A keening howl ricocheted through the streets, bouncing off the walls. It sounded like a … no, he thought, it couldn’t be. The werewolves were all dead. Destroyed by Vincent Konrad when he made their heads explode.

The old man paused, listening for it again, and was not disappointed when the animal whimpered. He gauged it to be inside the defunct vampire exhibit. He moved toward the entrance. The storefronts had been destroyed. A few body parts lay on the pavement, as if people had discarded them in a rush. He heard the scraping of paws on the street and a shiver went down his crooked spine.

He knew the werewolves were dead; he had seen it with his own eyes. A figure detached from the shadows. Igor flattened himself against the wall. He watched it move stealthily down the street, stopping when it scavenged a morsel of rotting flesh. It looked up to stare at Igor, its eyes glowing in the darkness.

A coyote? He waved a hand, dismissing it. It had to be a coyote; it was too small to be a wolf, too big to be a dog. The beast twitched its ears, then resumed its meal.

Igor knew the coyote was not a threat, and he continued his mission. His lame foot hit a can, sending a cacophony of sound like an explosion in the deserted park. The beast dropped the bone it was gnawing on, sniffing the area. Its iridescent eyes searched the streets.

It could be a baby wolf, Igor thought, keeping himself as still as possible. He felt it watching him, even from this distance. It was not a threat, yet.

Igor skittered away, hugging the walls of Monsterland, putting as much distance as he could between them. Not an easy feat, considering his distorted hips. He muttered to himself about carrion and the wind. His eyes darted nervously, scouring the hills, not exactly sure what he was looking for. Adrenaline coursed through his veins. His heart pounded so loudly he was certain that the creature watching him could hear it too.

His feet stumbling to a halt, he bent over, gasping for air, cursing Vincent and those meddlesome teenagers, as well as the rest of the world.

The beast gave another mournful howl that went right through him. Igor glanced at his empty hands, berating himself for not bringing a weapon. He searched his surroundings for anything to protect himself.

Then he saw it, one of the axes they had on almost every corner. All of them had been pulled from their protective cases. One was lying in a pool of coagulating blood, the blade long gone. He picked up the broken axe handle, turning in a semicircle. He was ready for an attacker.

A new, larger outline made his heart quiver with fear. It crouched in a corner, its snout covered with blood. This one was bigger, not a coyote, a wild wolf. Wait, he thought. Weren’t the gray wolves of California all but extinct?

Igor narrowed his eyes. The beast was a light reddish brown and not the silver gray of a wolf’s pelt. A chain hung from its neck, the pendant of a werewolf’s head dangling, emerald eyes flashing. What was it? Was it a mutant coyote? A wolf? Some weird hybrid, he wondered for a minute, his breath harsh in his ears. They watched each other soundlessly.

A hybrid then. He’d heard about them, a rare mixture of wolf and coyote. What did they call them? Coywolves …? or was it Woyotes? He shrugged indifferently. Perhaps someone’s pet, he decided. Igor’s mirthless laugh came out like a snort.

The coywolf stood still, its ears alert, its head cocked as if it was observing him.

Igor dropped the makeshift weapon, calling out, “Eat the rest of your meal, you dumb beast.”

The animal continued to watch him, its two front paws on the remains of a zombie’s chest.

Igor wiped his forehead, waiting, his eyes coming back to search the village, confirming it was empty, except for the carrion eaters like the coyotes and vultures. He looked up, noting the circling predators waiting for him to move on.

“Interrupted your meal,” he chuckled. Just the local scavengers looking for food. That was all; the shadows revealed nothing else. Satisfied he was alone, he moved on. He had work to do.

A paper flew past him, hitting a kiosk as the wind plastered it against its surface. It flapped like a dying bird. Igor reached over, taking the fluttering paper, peering at the map of the park, the one they gave people as they entered Monsterland. A bark of laughter escaped his mouth.

He looked up at the giant monolith that was once the Werewolf River Run, its hulking shape obscuring the horizon. “You are here,” he giggled, pointing a grimy finger on the paper’s surface. He dragged his deformed body further down the pavement. The storefronts that used to be Monsterland’s Main Street yawned vacantly, the wind whistling through the narrow alley- ways. “Now, you are here,” he laughed. Shouting, he listened to the sound of his voice bouncing off the blood-splattered walls.

He made his way to the back end of the zombie village, feeling like the last man on earth. He glanced around at the desolate landscape. His home, the beautiful theme park, was little more than ruins destroyed by the army.

His nose twitched from the fetid smell of rot. The US Army had massacred the zombies. The troops came like a force of nature wiping out everything in its path, every last one of them blown away by the troops.

They were black ops, special forces, he knew from their uniforms. He wondered if things were indeed going as planned. He shrugged, knowing right now nothing mattered except for what he had to do. The irony that he was just about the most important man on earth brought more amusement to his smile.

The local police force was gone, as were the leaders of most countries in the world. He knew all was chaos outside, perhaps even war, each nation blaming the next for the loss of their leadership. Not to worry, he thought. Vincent left America in capable hands.

Dreams do come true, he snickered. Nightmares too, he finished the thought. A long line of drool pulled at his lower lip. He paused at a pothole in the road, decomposing body parts glistening, the disappearing moon turning the bits of bone and brains pearly.

Anxiety bloomed in his chest as he passed the opaque windows of Vincent’s derelict Monsterland hotel, the Copper Valley Inn. He hated that place. Abandoned construction vehicles were frozen in their spots, testimony to the hotel’s unfinished business.

Despite the pastel colors of its exterior, it sat like an ominous crypt to the part of the theme park that Vincent could never control. Told Vincent it was a money pit. Crews couldn’t work because … well, it didn’t matter anymore. The help was all dead. He thought he saw a light flicker in the window, but when he turned, he realized it was nothing more than a sputtering gas lamp that had never been disconnected.

He stood for a while, staring for more activity, and then jerked with the realization that he waited too long and wasted precious time. Surely no one expected him to go searching during the heat of battle.

Vincent said it was enough time to set up the timetable. Vincent knew everything, and Igor felt his panic ebb. It had been barely twenty-four hours since the attack. For all he knew, he could be on a fool’s errand.

He pressed his hand on his hip, his back screaming with resentment at so much movement. He was not used to any exercise. He sighed, wiping his brow with the ragged end of his costume, the lace scratching his skin. He caught the cuff, snagging the material with his teeth, tugging it free from his velvet jacket. He loathed the show and was glad he’d never have to endure the humiliation of performing again, especially with the vamps. Those condescending, blood-sucking parasites. He wouldn’t have to worry about them anymore, he thought with satisfaction. Vincent had promised he’d not have to endure them for long, living up to his part of the bargain quite nicely. They were gone, torn apart by the werewolves or transformed into a tasty dinner by the zombies. Either way, they wouldn’t be bullying him with their nasty insults. Something buzzed around him, and he swiped at it.

It felt as though he walked to the other side of the earth. Why Vincent had to pick Zombieville to make his last stand, he’d never know. The Werewolf River Run would have been much more convenient. It was getting lighter now, and he could easily make out the smoking devastation.

He searched the horizon, his eyes resting on the burnt wreckage of a golf cart, the torched skeleton listing at an odd angle.

Pulling his lame foot, he pushed himself as fast as his body could travel, his breath hitching with the effort.

The corpse was gone. He knew they would have taken that for DNA testing, proof that the enemy was vanquished. The only things left were the putrid carcasses from Monsterland, the decaying zombies, massacred vampires, and what was left of the werewolves after Vincent had exterminated them.

He climbed a small hill, his bad leg screaming with pain. Igor crowed with triumph when he saw it, the discarded lump of flesh, lying forgotten in a ditch, face down. He shivered as the desert wind stirred and eddied around him. Damn, but it was desolate here.

He hunkered down, forcing himself to skitter on the hard- packed earth. He wondered what his son, the vice president—no, he corrected himself, the new president of the United States, Mr. Nate Owens—would think of his father now, scrambling like a dung beetle in the dirt.

He cursed. The drool was back, dripping from his mouth like a sparkling spider web. Instead of rising—it was beyond him at this point—he shimmied over to the severed head, reaching forward, reverently, grabbing it by the matted hair, and grasping it to his chest.

The black eyes stared back dully, the dark depths reflecting the hunchback’s twisted smile.

Vincent Konrad’s lifeless face lay in his hands, the pale lips open in a soundless scream.

“I’m so happy I could kiss you, Vincent!” he told the decapitated head. He cradled the face of his friend. “We’ll get you fixed up in no time.”

The moon bathed the face a pale blue. The hunchback jiggled the dead weight, cackling with delight as the one papery eyelid drooped as if it were winking.

In the distance, that coywolf howled, making Igor suck in his breath with fear. He tucked the head under his arm as he struggled back up the small hill, mumbling something about Plan B.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author Bio:

Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help.

He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance.

Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw “The Goonies“, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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THE HONEYMOONER by Melanie Summers BOOK BLITZ – Plus Enter to Win a $100 Amazon Gift Card & more

Title: The Honeymooner

Series: PARADISE BAY – BOOK ONE

Author: Melanie Summers

Publication date: August 7th 2018

Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance, Canadian Author

ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! The Honeymooner is a must read…I didn’t want this book to end. Get it today and start laughing. ~ Jilleen, SeasideBooknook.com

A must read! More than 5 stars! Melanie Summers could write a menu and I’d read it… I love her stories, they are all heart and soul. All I can say is I want to move to Paradise Bay! ~Lori Zenobia, Goodreads Reviewer

From bestselling author Melanie Summers comes the wickedly funny, ridiculously romantic spinoff of her highly-acclaimed Crown Jewels Series…

Twenty-eight-year-old workaholic Libby Dewitt lives by the motto ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ She’s finally about to start her dream life with her steady-as-a-rock fiancé, Richard Tomy. Together, they’re the perfect power couple—right down to the fact that he’s agreed to use their honeymoon to help further her career in mergers and acquisitions. But ten minutes before the wedding, her dreams dissolve via text message.

Devastated and humiliated, Libby escapes to Paradise Bay alone. She’s got two goals for her trip: to devise a plan to get Richard back and to convince resort owner Harrison Banks to sell his property to her company. Unfortunately, when she arrives, she discovers that tall, dark, and built, Harrison is not about to make anything easy for her.

Instead, he derails her plans while at the same time, bringing out a side of Libby she’s kept carefully tucked away—a carefree, adrenaline junkie. After a few days together, Harrison’s got her wondering if the life she always wanted was meant for some other girl. Suddenly, Libby must decide which version of herself she wants to be.

Will she go back to her comfortable, safe life, or risk everything to be with the only man who’s ever made her feel truly alive?

Goodreads / Amazon

FREE for a limited time only!

EXCERPT:

“Oh my God…did we…?” I press the sheet to me again, gripping it so tightly, my knuckles turn white.

“You don’t remember? It was amazing. The earth moved. And you—you were loud enough that we probably cleared out the entire resort.” He grins at me, then rolls off the bed and starts across the room, giving me a view of his muscly back and behind. Those are some seriously tight shorts.

No, Libby! Do not focus on his taut buttocks! You are not that kind of girl. “I’m very sorry, but I’m afraid I don’t remember any of it.”

“None of it?” he asks.

When I shake my head, he says, “That’s a real crime because it was the best night you’ve ever had. You told me as much right after round three.” Opening the mini-fridge, he grabs a bottle of water and takes off the lid. “At least I have it all on video.”

“What?!” My pulse speeds up, and I suddenly feel both hot and dizzy. What have I turned into? Some kind of hussy? Or worse—my mother?

“I didn’t think it was a good idea, but you were pretty insistent.” He shrugs, then crosses the room and holds the bottle of water out to me.

I take it cautiously, then shrink back from him a bit. Why would a man this hot do whatever predictable, boring old Libby Dewitt said to do?

In an instant, it all makes perfect sense. My heart sinks and I let out a loud groan. “You’re a gigolo, aren’t you?”

“What?”

“Listen, I don’t know what I told you last night, but I can’t afford to pay you. I’m a little low on cash at the—”

“I’m not a gigolo.”

“Then why would you…?” I don’t really know how to put this. Why would someone as hot as you sleep with a very plain Jane like me?

“Why would I what?” He folds his arms across his broad chest.

My words come out rushed. “Sleep with someone like me.”

“Are you kidding right now?” he asks, raising one eyebrow.

“No, I’m afraid not.” I shake my head, then wince because my brain is pounding and because I really don’t want to hear his answer. I’ve had enough rejection for one weekend. Before he can say anything, I take a wild stab at it. “Now I get it, you’re one of those guys with extremely low standards. The type who’ll sleep with anything with a pulse.” I gasp again. “Oh my God. I probably have an STD by now, don’t I?”

“Ouch,” he says, rubbing at his chest. “You’re pretty mean when you’re sober.”

“Sorry. I don’t mean to insult you. I’m honestly just very confused.” I sigh and close my eyes for a second, unable to stand the look of hurt in his strikingly brilliant hazel eyes. “Maybe it would be best if you just left. I’m really not myself at the moment.”

“Okay, but it might make more sense if you left.”

“Why?” I ask, opening my eyes again.

“This is my room.”

Author Bio:

Melanie Summers also writes steamy romance as MJ Summers.

Melanie made a name for herself with her debut novel, Break in Two, a contemporary romance that cracked the Top 10 Paid on Amazon in both the UK and Canada, and the top 50 Paid in the USA. Her highly acclaimed Full Hearts Series was picked up by both Piatkus Entice (a division of Hachette UK) and HarperCollins Canada. Her first three books have been translated into Czech and Slovak by EuroMedia. Since 2013, she has written and published three novellas, and eight novels (of which seven have been published). She has sold over a quarter of a million books around the globe.

In her previous life (i.e. before having children), Melanie got her Bachelor of Science from the University of Alberta, then went on to work in the soul-sucking customer service industry for a large cellular network provider that shall remain nameless (unless you write her personally – then she’ll dish). On her days off, she took courses and studied to become a Chartered Mediator. That designation landed her a job at the R.C.M.P. as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator for ‘K’ Division. Having had enough of mediating arguments between gun-toting police officers, she decided it was much safer to have children so she could continue her study of conflict in a weapon-free environment (and one which doesn’t require makeup and/or nylons).

Melanie resides in Edmonton with her husband, three young children, and their adorable but neurotic one-eyed dog. When she’s not writing novels, Melanie loves reading (obviously), snuggling up on the couch with her family for movie night (which would not be complete without lots of popcorn and milkshakes), and long walks in the woods near her house. She also spends a lot more time thinking about doing yoga than actually doing yoga, which is why most of her photos are taken ‘from above’. She also loves shutting down restaurants with her girlfriends. Well, not literally shutting them down, like calling the health inspector or something–more like just staying until they turn the lights off.

She is represented by Suzanne Brandreth of The Cooke Agency International.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:
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WHAT HE WANTS BOOK BLITZ and GIVEAWAY – Win Books and Amazon Gift Cards

Title: What He Wants
Jessie Gussman

Series: Baxter Boys, #2

Publication date: December 22nd 2018

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

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One night changed everything…

Cassidy Kimbell killed a man when she was only nineteen.

Torque Baxter took the blame, serving ten years for her crime.

He told her to flee the scene of the accident. He told her to run. He told her to keep her mouth shut, so that’s what she’d done. She’d let a boy with a crush become an innocent man behind bars.

Today, that man is being released.

Cassidy expects Torque to hate her. She knows nothing she has done to atone all these years can compare to what he’s lost. But she hopes becoming his sponsor on the outside, especially since she’s a lawyer now, might help.

Little does she know, Torque doesn’t want her to owe him.

He wants her to love him.

But to do that Cassidy would have to give up the life she’s built for the last ten years. She’d have to sacrifice it all, just like he did.

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Goodreads / Amazon

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EXCERPT:

“Are you okay?” His voice whispered across her face, and she shivered.

“I’m fine,” she said. “You’re wet. Are you hurt?”

“I’m glad I’m wet. I wouldn’t want you to think I planned this.” He stood to his feet, the water splashing around them. “Glad it’s been a little dry this year and the creek’s low. It would have softened the landing, but you’d have gotten wet if the water had been higher.” He splashed out of the creek and set her down. She didn’t let go of his neck right away, and they ended up pressed together, his hands on her hips.

“Why would I have thought you planned it?” she asked, a little breathlessly. Neither of them was hurt, and it had been fun, even after the rope broke. For her at least. She wasn’t wet.

“So I could hold you.” His hands tightened on her waist, and his head bent so his cheek rested against her temple so his words hit her ear then drove straight to her heart.

“You don’t have to make up elaborate schemes with frayed ropes and water in order to hold me.”

His body stiffened. His chest heaved in and out. It took him so long to answer that she wasn’t sure he was going to. “This was almost as good as driving with you.”

They could have been teenagers again, with no worries and few cares, driving down the back roads, free and easy.

“I miss your old pickup.”

He stepped back, and she let her arms drop, missing his heat immediately. “I’d rather have gone driving, but I need to put a truck together first.”

He grabbed her hand, and she laughed. “You’re the only person I’ve ever met that doesn’t ‘buy’ a truck, but ‘puts one together.’”

His chuckle drifted back as he led her out from under the bridge. “I’d fall in that dang creek a hundred times to hear you laugh. You need to do it more often.”

Her smile froze on her face. “It’s good to hear you laugh too. It’s actually good just to hear you at all.” She didn’t mean to slam him for not talking to her after he went to prison, but it had hurt. She’d thought she meant something to him, but he’d completely shut her out.

He paused, one foot on the bank, ready to climb up. “I’m sorry.” He turned, searched her face.

“Why?” she asked, even though it wasn’t the first time, and he’d refused to answer her.

She could hardly contain her surprise when he put a hand in his pocket and shifted, opening his mouth.

Author Bio:

Jessie Gussman is the award-winning author of The Baxter Boys series and The Sweet Haven Farm series – soul-stirring, SWEET, small town romance with humor and heart.

Jessie lives in central Pennsylvania with a lot of other people. Some of them claim to be related to her. She has five dogs, nine nice cows plus one that tries to kill her every day, and twenty thousand chickens. Some of the people in her home claim a cat lives there, too, but those reports have not been substantiated.

Jessie cooks for a crowd every day (except when she can get out of it) and does as little cleaning as possible.

Jessie is allergic to social media, but she does send out a newsletter once or twice a week to a thriving community of several thousand readers. Anyone can subscribe, as long as Jessie doesn’t have to cook for them. Her newsletter includes snippets from her life and books, along with special deals, offers and sneak peaks of soon-to-be released novels. Sign up here and get a FREE sweet romance novella delivered to your inbox: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/qx71qtunbm

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
  • $25 Amazon gift card + ebooks of the first 3 in the series
  • $25 Amazon gift card + ebook copy of Book 1
Giveaway ends March 28th
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REMOTE by Lisa Acerbo BOOK BLITZ and GIVEAWAY – Win an Amazon gift card and/or copies of her books.

Title: Remote

Author: Lisa Acerbo

Publication date: December 24th 2018

Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

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When technology fulfills every dream, reality is a nightmare.

Below the streets of New State, the Grounders fight to remain free of the technological control of the world above. When dusk falls, Wren risks her life by entering the capital city as a raider to secure resources for the rebellion. Each step further inside puts her life in jeopardy from New State’s deadliest weapons – Phantoms. More machine than human, tortured until devoid of emotion and caring, Phantoms have only one objective. Kill. And they do it with exacting precision.

Wren is good at her job as a raider and committed to the cause until she meets Codex, a New State citizen who doesn’t quite fit her preconceived expectations. After a couple of awkward encounters, he shows her the meaning of hooking up—a computer simulation that allows people to live out their fantasies—without the complication of emotional entanglements or physical reality. But what Wren feels for Codex is very real. And it’s punishable by death.

As she and Codex grow closer, Wren convinces him to leave New State for the underground. But unrest between New State and the Grounders escalates, and Phantoms move in to destroy her world. Nothing goes as Wren planned. Families are arrested, loyalties are strained, and Wren’s forced to choose between her people and her feelings. The wrong choice could mean the end of her people, and reality could slip away—forever…

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

“We should stop.” Part of her didn’t want to.

Codey ignored her words, pulling her closer.

Wren should draw back, take a breath, but her body betrayed her and she wrapped her arms around him tightly, tangling her fingers in his hair when their lips met. She kissed him back.

She felt his hand run over her thigh and then move up. He slid his fingers under the fabric of her worn sweater so he could caress her abdomen, tracing the lines of her ribs. In the next second, he whipped off his shirt and pulled her close, continuing to kiss her. She felt his skin, smooth and hot, and thought she would scream if she couldn’t get closer to him. She pushed herself against him, and Codey responded with another passionate kiss as he pressed gently against her on the bed.

The watch on Wren’s arm belched an alarm. Her mouth dropped open in a silent ‘ooh.’ How could so much time have passed? “This is bad.” She sprang off the bed. “I’m late.” Gaze intense she said, “You’re so not what I expected.”

“I’m not what a lot of people expect. But you can’t leave me like this. Hook ups never end like this.”

“Welcome to reality.” She smiled at him.

“I’m not sure I like it.” He adjusted his clothes.

“You have to help me. I had another reason for coming here but got distracted.” Wren didn’t have time to blush. “I need a tablet, smartphone, or portable computer and a change of clothes.”

“Why?”

“No time to explain.”

He acquiesced, grabbing an old six-inch tablet. She shoved it into her pack as Codey began to lead her out the door.

“We can get some of my mom’s clothes in the automatic laundry, but they might be big for you.”

“They’ll do.”

Codey stopped her in the doorframe of his room.

“What? We need to go.”

“Not until I get a“We should stop.” Part of her didn’t want to.

Codey ignored her words, pulling her closer.

She should draw back, take a breath, but her body betrayed her and she wrapped her arms around him tightly, tangling her fingers in his hair when their lips met. She kissed him back.

She felt his hand run over her thigh and then move up. He slid his fingers under the fabric of her worn sweater so he could caress her abdomen, tracing the lines of her ribs. In the next second, he whipped off his shirt and pulled her close, continuing to kiss her. She felt his skin, smooth and hot and thought she would scream if she couldn’t get closer to him. She pushed herself against him, and Codey responded with another passionate kiss as he pressed gently against her on the bed.

The watch on Wren’s arm belched an alarm. Her mouth dropped open in a silent oh. How could so much time have passed? “This is bad.” She sprang off the bed. “I’m late.” Gaze intense she said, “You’re so not what I expected.”

“I’m not what a lot of people expect. But you can’t leave me like this. Hook ups never end like this.”

“Welcome to reality.” She smiled at him.

“I’m not sure I like it.” He adjusted his clothes.

“You have to help me. I had another reason for coming here but got distracted.” Wren didn’t have time to blush. “I need a tablet, smartphone, or portable computer and a change of clothes.”

“Why?”

“No time to explain.”

He acquiesced, grabbing an old six-inch tablet. She shoved it into her pack as Codey began to lead her out the door.

“We can get some of my mom’s clothes in the automatic laundry, but they might be big for you.”

“They’ll do.”

Codey stopped her in the doorframe of his room.

“What? We need to go.”

“Not until I get another kiss.” His voice was husky and human, his smile unabashed.

Wren acquiesced.

Once downstairs in the laundry room, Codey shoved some of his mom’s clothes into a small duffle and handed it to Wren.

“What do you need these for?” he asked.

“I came here to get your opinion on the archives and tell you about something the Grounders are attempting, but never got the chance.”

“What are the clothes for?”

Wren didn’t know how much to reveal. She had to leave and return to the rest of the raiders soon or they’d trigger the alarm to search for her. She lacked the time to explain properly and hated to leave Codey guessing about the Grounders and the archive raid.

“It’s part of the plan being developed,” she said.

“What plan? Is it dangerous? Will you be risking your life?” Codey’s voice crept up an octave. “Nobody knows about us, right? My family wouldn’t get in trouble?”

“I’m so sorry, but I have to go. You’ll understand soon.” Wren hoped she survived so she could come back and explain.

Author Bio:

Lisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and adjunct faculty at the University of Phoenix. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughters, two dogs, and horse. When not writing, she mountain bikes, hikes, and tries to pursue some type of further education.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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GIVEAWAY
Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
  • 5 eBook copies of Remote
  • 5 eBook copies of Twelve Months of Awkward Moments
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My Blog has been chosen as One of The Top 25 Canadian Book Blogs for 2019. I am thrilled.

Designed by Freepik

My blog has been chosen as One of the Top 25 Canadian Book Blogs for 2019 by Feedspot.

I am in the #15 spot.

To see the entire list of the TOP 25 CANADIAN BOOK BLOGS click HERE.

I am very excited to be receiving this award, especially since my health in 2018 has not been the best.

To any and all authors awaiting reviews from me, I will be posting quite a few reviews over the next few weeks.

Thanks, and Have a Happy New Year!!!

GRIM LOVELIES by Young Adult Bestselling Author Megan Shepherd is sure to enchant teens and adults alike. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: GRIM LOVELIES

Author: MEGAN SHEPHERD

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, FANTASY FICTION

Length: 384 PAGES

Publisher: HMH TEEN – HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS

Received From: HMH TEEN INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY

Release Date: OCTOBER 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-80918-6 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 978-1-328-80962-9 (eBook)

Price: $17.99 USD HARDCOVER

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love.

But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human.

Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittoria, the evil witch who spelled her into existence.

That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood – and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away.

If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known… but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

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MY REVIEW:

Inventive and dazzling, with a host of characters readers will be unable and unwilling to forget.

With a diverse cast, this book has everything required to become an instant Young Adult Best-Seller. Having just been released a little over two months ago, it is already trending on social media, and, if I have my way, it will trend even more after I post this review.

I love that the Author chose animals turned into humans as her main characters. I love that she chose the city of Paris as the headquarters of the Royals who reign over all magical beings. There has always been something alluring and mysterious about the historic city of Paris, especially to those of us in North America. With the millions of bones in the city’s catacombs, Paris also has a barely hidden sinister air.

Best-Selling Author Megan Shepherd has created a magical world that secretly exists alongside our own. Of course, we humans, or “Pretties” as the witches call us, are completely oblivious to the magic surrounding us.

Within this world there are “Beasties;” animals and birds who have had spells cast on them to change them into humans (sort of like the mice in the tale of Cinderella, except the change is permanent.) Anouk is one such Beastie. She is a year and a half old which is the equivalent of being a seventeen year old girl. For the entirety of her human existence, she has not been allowed to leave the house she was “born” in. It is the home of Mada Vittoria, the witch who changed Anouk from animal to human.

This imaginative tale, filled with magic, mystery and mayhem is perfect for today’s Young Adult audience. Readers of all types, and of all ages will be able to find a character to relate to.

There is a theme of good vs. evil in this book, but what, or who is deemed evil is often in the eye of the beholder.

GRIM LOVELIES is also a unique Coming-Of-Age tale in which Anouk realizes that her captivity at the hands of Mada (Witch) Vittoria, has resulted in her knowing very little about either the Pretties world, or the magical world of the Haute.

GRIM LOVELIES and the world of the Haute would make for a terrific and visually stunning movie. I very much hope to see this series become optioned for film.

I rate GRIM LOVELIES as a 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Young Adult novel and am excited to read more about Anouk and her other “Beastie” friends in the next installment of this wonderous tale.

***Thank you to HMH Teen for hosting the Instagram contest in which I won a Grim Lovelies prize pack. ***

MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THE BOOK:

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“Everything had a darker side, magic most of all.”

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“He was a twat and she’d sooner kiss a frog, but even frogs deserved little moments of joy.”

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“Even if we can find someone to recast our spell, I’m afraid that a spell alone can’t make us human. TRULY human. Only actions make a person human, not magic.”

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“I’m not a bird with broken wings… I don’t need to be sheltered.”

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“Through all this darkness, you’ve held on to love and hope, and that’s true strength.”

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THE CHARACTERS:

A

BOUT THE AUTHOR:

MEGAN SHEPHERD – New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd grew up in her family’s independent bookstore in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

She is the author of several young adult and middle grade novels. She now lives and writes on a 125-year-old farm outside Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, two cats, and an especially scruffy dog.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

MORE BOOKS BY MEGAN:

*** Leave a comment and let me know if you have read any of Megan’s books?

And if so, which was/is your favorite? Why?

4 Stars for PAPER WIFE by Laila Ibrahim – A timely tale of what it was like to move to a new country, where you knew noone and didn’t speak the language. NEW RELEASE!!!

Title: PAPER WIFE

Author: LAILA IBRAHIM

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION, DIVERSE FICTION, MULTICULTURAL FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION

Length: 298 PAGES

Publisher: LAKE UNION PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 30, 2018

ISBN: 9781503904576

Price: $14.95 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

From the bestselling author of Yellow Crocus comes a heart-wrenching story about finding strength in a new world.

Southern China, 1923. Desperate to secure her future, Mei Ling’s parents arrange a marriage to a widower in California. To enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife.

On the perilous voyage, Mei Ling takes an orphan girl named Siew under her wing. Dreams of a better life in America give Mei Ling the strength to endure the treacherous journey and detainment on Angel Island. But when she finally reaches San Francisco, she’s met with a surprise. Her husband, Chinn Kai Li, is a houseboy, not the successful merchant he led her to believe.

Mei Ling is penniless, pregnant, and bound to a man she doesn’t know. Her fragile marriage is tested further when she discovers that Siew will likely be forced into prostitution. Desperate to rescue Siew, she must convince her husband that an orphan’s life is worth fighting for. Can Mei Ling find a way to make a real family—even if it’s built on a paper foundation?

MY REVIEW:

With immigration currently being a hot button issue in the United States and many other countries around the world, the publication of this book could not be more timely.

Although this story begins ninety years ago in 1923, there are many alarming similarities between the discrimination faced by immigrants during that time period and the discrimination faced by those who have chosen to emigrate to the United States in modern times.

Mei Ling was happily living out her young life in China when the matchmaker arrived at the door of her parent’s home. A suitable match had been found for Mei Ling’s older sister and the wedding date was set. But, as fate would have it, her sister fell ill and her parents told Mei Ling that she would have to take her sister’s place.

This deception early in the story is only one of many deceptions and ‘white lies’ that occur throughout the book.

It is obvious that author Laila Ibrahim did her research for this book as the facts and traditions written about in this tale match perfectly with historic accounts from those who actually did leave China in hopes of a better life in the United States.

Laila Ibrahim’s writing style and subject matter reminds me of author Lisa See.

I enjoyed the story even though I found one event to be completely implausible. Despite that, the author has written a book that anyone who wonders what life might have been like for the huge wave of Asian immigrants who arrived en masse in the years following World War I will want to read.

I believe that by reading books such as PAPER WIFE, people will gain, at the very least, a small measure of empathy for people whose cultures and/or backgrounds are different from their own.

Reading stories like this one, prove to readers that people are more similar than they are different. We all want the same thing. We want a safe and comfortable place to sleep, a good education for our children, and a job that allows us to provide for our families.

In PAPER WIFE, Mei Ling was detained on Angel Island and interrogated by officials who used intimidation and threats to try to force her to change her story or to catch her in a lie. This is a true reflection of what immigrants were subjected to in 1925.

Chinese immigrants on Angel Island

Poetry carved into the walls at Angel Island

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We need to learn from the past. If we do not learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them.

I rate PAPER WIFE as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laila Ibrahim grew up in Whittier, California on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, and moved to Oakland, California to attend Mills College where she studied Psychology and Child Development. After getting a Master’s Degree in Human Development, she realized she wanted to do more hands on work with children, and opened up her own preschool: Woolsey Children’s School.

Her education and experiences as an educator and parent provide ample for her writing – especially her study of Attachment Theory and multiculturalism.

She identifies as a devout Unitarian Universalist – which is sort of like being a radical moderate – and worked as the Director of Children and Family Ministries at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland for five years.

She lives in a small co-housing community in Berkeley with her wife, Rinda, a public school administrator. She the proud mother of two wonderful young adult daughters and the not-so-proud mother of a rambunctious mini-Aussies.

Laila self-published Yellow Crocus in 2011 after agents repeatedly told her that no one would want to read a story about the love between an enslaved black woman and her privileged white charge. Over the years the readers have proven them wrong. She became a full-time writer in 2015.

Living Right, her second novel, is set in 2004, but with a similar theme: loving across difference. It goes beyond the headline to reveal the life and death stakes when a devoted mother struggles to reconcile her evangelical Christian beliefs with her son’s sexual orientation.

Mustard Seed continues with the lives of the Freedman and Johnson families after the Civil War.

Paper Wife tells the story of Mei Ling, a young woman forced by social upheaval to marry a stranger and immigrate from Southern China through Angel Island to San Francisco in 1923.

To read an interview with the author click HERE.

Laila loves calling or Skyping into bookclubs and public speaking. She can be contacted at ldibrahim@gmail.com

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

AMAZON

HISTORIC PHOTOS

Photos obtained from the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

S

OME OF THE POEMS LEFT BEHIND:

(Source: Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation)

A Few Selected Poems


獨坐稅關中,
心內起不痛。
亦因家道貧,
遠遊不近親。
兄弟來到叫,
只得上埠行。
黑鬼無道理,
唐人要掃地。
每日食兩餐,
何時轉回返。

– 辛亥年七月十二日李字題寧邑
Poem 3

Hear Poem 3 Read In Toishanese.

Translation
Sitting alone in the customs office,
How could my heart not ache?
Had my family not been poor,
I would not have traveled far away from home.
It was my elder brother who urged me
To embark on a voyage to this shore.
The black devil* here is unjust-
He forces the Chinese to clean the floor.
Two meals a day are provided,
But I wonder, when will I be homeward bound?

– Lee from Toishan District, September 4, 1911

*A pejorative to refer to those of African descent-here, presumably, an African Canadian working at the immigration station directed the detainees to sweep the floors.


妻囑情
出門求財為家窮,
把正心頭在路中。
路上野花君莫取,
為家自有係妻奴。
臨行知囑情千萬,
莫作奴言耳過風。
家中妻兒係莫掛,
勤儉二年掃祖宗。
妻兒衣裳無一件,
米盒掃來無半筒。
家中屋舍無間好,
爛溶爛揸穿爛帘。
夫係昔日都尋賭,
不念奴奴淚飄飄。
多得親兄來打稅,
莫學忘叔大恩公。

– 辛亥七月十二日到李字題寧邑
Poem 4

Hear Poem 4 Read in Toishanese.

Translation
My Wife’s Admonishment
We are poor, so you’re leaving home to seek wealth;
Keep hold of propriety while on this journey.
Never pick wildflowers along the road,*
For you have your own wife at home!
Before you depart, I admonish you a thousand times;
Don’t let my words just whistle past your ears.
Don’t worry about us, be diligent and frugal,
And two years hence return to sweep the ancestors’ tombs.
Your wife and children haven’t a thing to wear;
Not half a cup of rice can be scooped from the pot.
Our house and rooms are dilapidated;
Our housewares are worn, and the curtains torn.
In the past, you did nothing but gamble;
You never thought of me and my flowing tears.
You are fortunate your elder brother has paid the taxes-
Always remember your great debt to him!

– Lee from Toishan District, Arrived July 12, 1911

Footnotes: To engage in romantic/sexual affairs while away from home.

THE WITCH ELM by Bestselling Author TANA FRENCH Audiobook Review

Title: THE WITCH ELM

Author: TANA FRENCH

Narrator: PAUL NUGENT

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS

Length: 22 HOURS, 8 MINUTES

Publisher: PENGUIN AUDIO

Type of Book: AUDIOBOOK

Purchased from: Audible.com

Release Date: OCTOBER 9, 2018

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life – he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.
*

MY REVIEW:

Phenomenal. Intriguing. Unconventional. Thrilling. Astonishing.

All these words and more apply to Tana French’s novel, THE WITCH ELM.

At it’s core, this book is a modern day whodunit, a thriller of epic proportions, but it is also so much more.

This book is a character study, a tale of teen angst, the story of a family rallying together in the midst of a horrific medical diagnosis. It is the story of a romance. This is a book about siblings, cousins, friends and how relationships can change over time and how they stay the same. It is also a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

This is truly a book that has everything. I enjoyed listening to it immensely. The story takes place in Ireland and having a narrator with an Irish accent gave this book a sense of place and added authenticity to the audiobook.

The story has plenty twists and turns, some which were expected and many that were not.

Tana French has created characters so realistic that you almost expect to run into one of them on the street.

At just over 22 hours of listening time, this is not a short audiobook and you would think that 22 hours would be too long, however, you would be wrong. In fact, I didn’t want this story to end. I had become invested in the character’s futures.

The Publisher has created a reader’s guide for this book which can be found and downloaded HERE.

My favorite character was Uncle Hugo. On the surface he seems like a giant bore. But as you learn more about him, you start to realize that he is like an onion with many layers, some quite shocking. He has a passion for genealogy research and was able to parlay that into a career as a Genealogist. The author is somehow able to make this career choice seem interesting to listeners and Hugo’s research into his client’s history is an interesting side storyline.

I rate THE WITCH ELM as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I also give a 5 STAR rating to the narrator whose Irish accent offers listeners authenticity as well as a sense of place. His pacing is sheer perfection. Listeners are able to easily distinguish between character voices which is a huge plus in my opinion.

All in all, I highly recommend this audiobook to readers and listeners from the ages of 16 and up.

Tana French was new to me before experiencing “The Witch Elm” audiobook, but I will be on the lookout for more books from this author in the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tana French is the author of The Witch Elm, In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, The Secret Place and The Trespasser.

Her books have won awards including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Barry Awards, the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction.

She lives in Dublin with her family.

AUTHOR NOTE:

“There’s one thing that no one I know, including me, ever has enough of: time. Everyone has at least three things they should be doing with every minute, and everyone could do with about six more hours in the day. So I’m very aware that when you take a chance on one of my books, it’s not just your money that you’re putting on the line; it’s your time, which is probably even more precious. I want to thank you, so much, for taking that chance; for your wonderful support, which never stops taking my breath away. Here’s to all of you. I’ll do my absolute best not to waste your time.”

Tana French in The New Yorker

‘The Trespasser’ begs us to take crime fiction seriously

The Millions Interviews Tana French

*
To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

AUDIBLE

GOODREADS
AMAZON

CHAPTERS
“A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.

  • Quotes:

    The thing is, I suppose,” he said, “that one gets into the habit of being oneself. It takes some great upheaval to crack that shell and force us to discover what else might be underneath. What if I never got another day in my life when I was normal again?

    Once the fear took hold, I was fucked. I’d never known anything like it could exist: all-consuming, ravenous, a whirling black vortex that sucked me under so completely and mercilessly that it truly felt like I was being devoured alive, bones splintered, marrow sucked. After an eternity (lying in bed with my heart jackhammering, adrenaline firing me like a strobe light, feeling the last few threads that held my mind together stretch to a snapping point) something would happen to break the vortex’s hold—a nurse coming in so that I had to make mechanical cheerful chitchat, an uncontrollable rush of sleep—and I would clamber up out of it, shaky and weak as a half-drowned animal. But even when the fear receded for a while, it was always there: dark, misshapen, taloned, hanging somewhere above and behind me, waiting for its next moment to drop onto my back and dig in deep.

    ABOUT THE NARRATOR:

    https://vimeo.com/178172746

    To learn more about this Narrator, visit the following links:

    OFFICIAL WEBSITE

    AUDIBLE

    LINKEDIN

    VIMEO

    FACEBOOK

    YOUTUBE

    AMAZON

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