THE BARREN GROUNDS – Book One of THE MISEWA SAGA by Award-winning Canadian Indigenous author DAVID A. ROBERTSON

Title: THE BARREN GROUNDS  

Series: THE MISEWA SAGA – BOOK 1

Author: DAVID A. ROBERTSON

Genre:  MIDDLE GRADE FICTION, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, MULTICULTURAL INTEREST, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY

Length: 256 PAGES

Publisher: PUFFIN CANADA – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 8, 2020

ISBN: 9780735266100

Price: $17.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home — until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them.

MY REVIEW:

THE BARREN GROUNDS is the first in a series of Middle-Grade Indigenous/Fantasy novels. The series is titled THE MISEWA SAGA and has a Narnia-esque theme.

The story begins with Morgan, an angry preteen Indigenous girl who was placed into the foster care system as a toddler. That system is all she knows, and, as is often the case in real life, her experiences in foster care have not been pleasant.

Placed with a young couple who are new to foster parenting, Morgan resists all attempts at bonding because she is extremely cognizant of the fact that she can be sent back to an orphanage or on to another foster home at any time. “You’ll see. The world will harden you.” This seems to be Morgan’s issue. She has been thrown away all her life – even her biological mother didn’t want her. 

Her foster parents bring a boy into their home who is a year younger than Morgan, named Eli. Eli is Indigenous, as is Morgan, but because she was placed into the system as a toddler, she knows nothing about her rich cultural background. But, Eli does.

When Eli draws a detailed scene, it somehow opens a portal to another reality. When Eli goes into the portal, Morgan goes after him to bring him back.

What they discover is a land out of Indigenous lore. With talking animals who walk on two legs, and a land stuck in perpetual winter, Morgan and Eli learn about their heritage.

Eli and Morgan set out on an epic quest to save the “two-leggeds” and their world from perpetual winter.

The adventures they have teach them that it isn’t always blood that creates a family.

They also learn that whether they are aware of their Indigenaity or not, it does not matter. That does not make them any less Indigenous than those who are aware of their heritage.

This story brings attention to the fact that too many Indigenous children are being removed from their parents and placed into foster care, often with non-Indigenous foster parents who are more interested in the money provided to them by government than in having the child become a true member of their family. There are definitely some amazing foster parents, but, unfortunately, the majority of foster kids tend to have multiple negative experiences before finding an acceptable placement. Many foster kids learn almost nothing about their heritage and culture and there is a vast difference between growing up in a white culture and growing up in an Indigenous culture.

All in all, this book has everything a Middle-Grade reader can possibly want and I think the MISEWA SAGA will be a hit.

I rate this book as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

** Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book. **


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

DAVID A. ROBERTSON is the author of numerous books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.

Strangers, the first book in his Reckoner trilogy, a young adult supernatural mystery, won the 2018 Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction (Manitoba Book Awards).

David educates as well as entertains through his writings about Indigenous Peoples, reflecting their cultures, histories, communities, as well as illuminating many contemporary issues.

A sought-after speaker and educator, Dave is a member of the Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.darobertson.ca

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

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DAVID A. ROBERTSON is also the author of several important Indigenous Peoples books and now has a podcast about his life.

SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD by Canadian Literary Phenom SALEEMA NAWAZ is available now as an Ebook – Coming Soon to bookstores. THIS BOOK IS BEING CALLED “EERILY PRESCIENT” in the wake of the Covid19 Pandemic

Title: SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD

Author: SALEEMA NAWAZ

Genre: FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, SPECULATIVE FICTION

Length: 438 PAGES

Publisher: McCLELLAND & STEWART – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: AUGUST 25, 2020EBOOK AVAILABLE NOW

ISBN: 9780771072574

Price: $24.95 CDN

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

From the award-winning, Canada Reads-shortlisted author of Bone and Bread comes an immersive and eerily prescient novel about the power of human connection in a time of crisis, as the bonds of love, family, and duty are tested by an impending pandemic.

How quickly he’d forgotten a fundamental truth: the closer you got to the heart of a calamity, the more resilience there was to be found.

This is the story of a handful of people who find themselves living through an unfolding catastrophe.

Elliot is a first responder in New York, a man running from past failures and struggling to do the right thing.

Emma is a pregnant singer preparing to headline a benefit concert for victims of the outbreak–all while questioning what kind of world her child is coming into.

Owen is the author of a bestselling plague novel with eerie similarities to the real-life pandemic. As fact and fiction begin to blur, he must decide whether his lifelong instinct for self-preservation has been worth the cost.

As the novel moves back and forth in time, we discover these characters’ ties to one another and to those whose lives intersect with theirs, in an extraordinary web of connection and community that reveals none of us is ever truly alone.

Linking them all is the mystery of the so-called ARAMIS Girl, a woman at the first infection site whose unknown identity and whereabouts cause a furor.

Written and revised between 2013 and 2019, and brilliantly told by an unforgettable chorus of voices, Saleema Nawaz’s glittering novel is a moving and hopeful meditation on what we owe to ourselves and to each other.

It reminds us that disaster can bring out the best in people–and that coming together may be what saves us in the end.

MY REVIEW:

I was surprised to learn that the writing of this book took place before the Covid19 Pandemic. In fact, this book was begun six years ago.

SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD centers around a coronavirus disease called ARAMIS which is eerily similar to COVID19. There are other things in this story that are extremely similar to what is happening in the world today.

In fact, one of the main characters is an author who had written  fictional account of a plague similar to ARAMIS. Little did Saleema Nawaz know that she was going to experience firsthand what her character went through.

The main difference between this book and other sci-fi / post apocalyptic /dystopian / speculative fiction novels is the outlook of the characters. What I mean by this is that in most of the books of this genre, the actions of the populace devolve into violence over the course of the story. In fact, in most post-apocalyptic books, the plague ends up being less dangerous than  the people.

In SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD, the majority of the characters act for the good of society rather than simply taking care of themselves and their families. Of course, they do not take reckless risks, but they are somehow able to hang onto their humanity. This is a refreshingly optimistic view of how people act during a catastrophe.

Although I said this book is optimistic, don’t think that every character is perfect; they are far from it. There are also characters that act like self righteous jerks, as well as a few characters you will want to smack upside of their head for how they behave. In short, just as in real life, there are good people, bad people, and people who fall somewhere in the middle.

I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a unique science fiction novel with characters that are so relatable that you will feel like they are friends of yours by the end of the book.

I rate SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A READER’S GUIDE CAN BE FOUND HERE

QUOTES:

“It was the first time in his life he had encountered thinking – the deliberate thinking of difficult thoughts – as a thing to be encouraged, rather than staved off or endured.” 

The way she leaned into him, Stu realized that marriage had strength embedded in its very architecture, a resilience that beat back the usual threats. Given his parents’ union, he’d always thought of marriage as something more like resignation, a contractual obligation of last resort. But he now saw the hope of it, the faith in the promise itself.”
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“‘But was it me in there?’ Jericho asked. ‘Or the person I used to be?'”
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“Thinking is a sacred disease. And there’s no cure.”
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“Everything is a song in one way or another.”
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“As time went on, he began to think of his declarations of love as an ill-conceived engineering project, like digging graves along a shoreline; they could neither withstand nor contain her sorrow, nor his growing sense that he was no longer enough for her.”

Photo credit: Thomas Blanchard

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Saleema Nawaz’s first novel, Bone and Bread, won the Quebec Writers’ Federation Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the 2016 Canada Reads competition.

She is also the author of the short story collection Mother Superior, and a winner of the Writers’ Trust of Canada / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize.

Born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, she currently lives in Montreal, Quebec.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://www.saleemanawaz.com/

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

WIKIPEDIA

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https://www.theloop.ca/watch/entertainment/fun/this-fictional-story-about-a-pandemic-is-eerily-similar-to-covid-19/6153152480001/1665407062388927200/your-morning
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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Penguin Random House Canada is a full service Canadian publisher and distributor of books in hardcover, trade paperback, mass market and digital formats.

Imprints of Penguin Random House Canada include Anchor Canada, Bond Street Books, Doubleday Canada, Knopf Canada, Penguin Canada, Puffin Canada, Random House Canada, Razorbill Canada, Vintage Canada, McClelland & Stewart, Tundra Books and Appetite by Random House.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://penguinrandomhouse.ca

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FIVE LITTLE INDIANS by Debut Novelist Michelle Good is a FANTASTIC Book, and One that will resonate deeply with all Canadians who believe in justice. 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I absolutely LOVE the cover of this book. Bravo! The birch trees are significant as are the silhouettes.

Title: FIVE LITTLE INDIANS

Author: MICHELLE GOOD

Genre: FICTION, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, MULTICULTURAL INTEREST, CANADIAN FICTION, TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION, BASED ON TRUE STORIES

Length: 304 PAGES

Publisher: HARPER COLLINS

Release Date: APRIL 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4434-5918-1 (Softcover)

Price: $22.99 CDN (Softcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Taken from their families when they are very small and sent to a remote, church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released after years of detention.

Alone and without any skills, support or families, the teens find their way to the seedy and foreign world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver, where they cling together, striving to find a place of safety and belonging in a world that doesn’t want them. The paths of the five friends cross and crisscross over the decades as they struggle to overcome, or at least forget, the trauma they endured during their years at the Mission.

Fuelled by rage and furious with God, Clara finds her way into the dangerous, highly charged world of the American Indian Movement.

Maisie internalizes her pain and continually places herself in dangerous situations.

Famous for his daring escapes from the school, Kenny can’t stop running and moves restlessly from job to job—through fishing grounds, orchards and logging camps—trying to outrun his memories and his addiction.

Lucy finds peace in motherhood and nurtures a secret compulsive disorder as she waits for Kenny to return to the life they once hoped to share together.

After almost beating one of his tormentors to death, Howie serves time in prison, then tries once again to re-enter society and begin life anew.

With compassion and insight, Five Little Indians chronicles the desperate quest of these residential school survivors to come to terms with their past and, ultimately, find a way forward.

MY REVIEW:

FIVE LITTLE INDIANS is a book that everyone in North America needs to read. This may be Fiction, but it is based in reality and the five main characters are a great representation of what happened to the Indigenous children who were forced to attend Residential Schools.

These Residential Schools are a shameful part of Canada’s past and the harm they caused has resonated through multiple generations. That pain is still being felt by Indigenous People to this day. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is attempting to compensate the victims, and to tell their stories, but the hurt and victimization runs deep.

This novel concentrates on a handful of children, all of whom attended the same residential school. It follows them throughout their lives and readers are taken along for the ride.

The difference between this book and the various others that have been published is that FIVE LITTLE INDIANS focuses mainly on what happens to the children once they leave the Residential School system.

As each child reaches the age of release, they are given nothing but a bus ticket to Vancouver. Arriving in the city is sensory overload for these teenagers who have only ever lived either on remote reserves or at the school. I can only imagine how confused and scared they must have been.

It is amazing to me that any of them survived, but, as is demonstrated in the book, there is a huge difference between surviving and thriving.

With succinct yet heartfelt prose, readers will feel a fraction of the pain of the characters in the book, and even though it is only a fraction, it is enough to bring the reader to tears. (I am not ashamed to say that it made me cry.)

Although there are moments of unbelievable sadness and flashes of rage and violence, the story also contains momentous instances of love and inspiring occassions of spirituality. It is during these amazing and wonderous moments that the reader’s heart will soar alongside that of the characters.

I hope to read more books by Michelle Good in the near future. I would like it if she wrote about the generation of children who came from the Residential School Survivors and how their parents and grandparents traumatic experiences affects generation after generation.

I would be doing the world a great disservice if I was to rate FIVE LITTLE INDIANS as anything less than 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I urge every Canadian to purchase a copy of FIVE LITTLE INDIANS asap.

It is imperative that we educate ourselves and our children about our country’s pastincluding the shameful parts.

It is by acknowledging the harm done that we can learn from it so that these mistakes are never repeated.

In addition to avoiding past mistakes, it is my hope that books such as this one will help to foster a better, less adversarial relationship between Indigenous Peoples and other ethnicities.

WE MUST ELIMINATE RACISM NOW!!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michelle Good is a writer of Cree ancestry and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.

She obtained her law degree after three decades of working with indigenous communities and organizations.

She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at UBC, while still practising law, and won the HarperCollins/UBC Prize in 2018.

Her poems, short stories and essays have been published in magazines and anthologies across Canada.

Michelle Good lives and writes in south central British Columbia.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://www.michellegood.ca

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FACEBOOK

TWITTER

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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

A BIT OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE RED PHEASANT CREE NATION:

**Information Copied From: https://www.batc.ca/member_first_nations/red_pheasant.html

History

Prior to signing treaty, Chief Wuttunee (Porcupine) and his CREE band hunted and fished along the Battle River, and as settlers moved into the Battleford region where they conducted trade.

Though Wuttunee was chief at the signing of TREATY 6 on September 9, 1876, he was not in favour of the treaty and appointed his brother Red Pheasant to sign for him.

The department recognized Red Pheasant as the band’s chief from that point. In 1878 the band settled on their reserve in the Eagle Hills, where the land was good and there was enough forest to enable them to hunt.

Red Pheasant day school opened in 1880, and St. Paul’s Anglican Church was built in 1885 on land set aside for that purpose when the reserve was surveyed.

The reserve is located 33 km south of NORTH BATTLEFORD, with an infrastructure that includes a band office, band hall, school and teacherage, public works building, fire hall, and a treatment centre.

The main economic base is agriculture, but the reserve hosts a band-owned grocery store, and in 1997 the band signed an oil and gas agreement with Wascana Energy Inc.

The band’s successful completion of a Treaty Land Entitlement Agreement has enabled them to increase their reserve’s size to 29,345.7 ha, and invest in furthering economic development.

The band has 1,893 registered members, 608 of whom live on the reserve.

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING by Award Winning Hmong-American Children’s Author KAO KALIA YANG and Illustrated by the Incomparable KHAO LE – a multi-award-winning Vietnamese artist is based on the author’s own childhood. This Family may not have much money, but they have something better – A LOT OF LOVE – Available to Pre-Order Now!!!

One of the most beautiful children’s book covers

Title: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING

Author: KAO KALIA YANG 

Illustrator: KHOA LE

Genre: CHILDREN’S NON-FICTION, MULTICULTURAL INTEREST, FAMILIES, MULTIPLE GENERATIONS

Length: 32 PAGES

Publisher: CAROLHODA BOOKS – A Division of LERNER PUBLISHING GROUP

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 6, 2020

ISBN: 9781541561915 (Hardcover)

Price: $17.99 USD (Hardcover)

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Drawn from author Kao Kalia Yang’s childhood experiences as a Hmong refugee, this moving picture book portrays a family with a great deal of love and little money.

Weaving together Kalia’s story with that of her beloved grandmother, the book moves from the jungles of Laos to the family’s early years in the United States.

When Kalia becomes unhappy about having to do without and decides she wants braces to improve her smile, it is her grandmother―a woman who has just one tooth in her mouth―who helps her see that true beauty is found with those we love most.

Stunning illustrations from Vietnamese illustrator Khoa Le bring this intergenerational tale to life.

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MY REVIEW:

MOST BEAUTIFUL REVIEW & LINKS

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL is a gorgeously illustrated,  intergenerational, story about a Hmong-American family who left their ancestral homeland in hopes of a better life.

The story is told from a young girl’s point of view. Her family home includes her parents, her siblings and her grandmother.

As the child gets older, she will occasionally ask for something expensive from her parents. However, despite the fact that they worked hard, there was no money left over for extras. Her Grandmother is always around and tells stories of her own childhood and the hardships she faced. Obviously, the grandmother’s situation was much more dire than that of the narrator.

The author has perfectly captured the aging of both the young girl and her grandmother. She also conveys the child’s emotional intelligence and her maturity levels with perfect ease.

The illustrations in this book are nothing short of brilliant. In fact, I would love it if the artist offered prints of each of her layouts. I, for one, would 100% purchase them.

I should rate this book as 5 Stars, however I felt the ending could have been better. However, please DO NOT let this deter you from buying this book. We need more books from diverse and multicultural authors. It is imperative that children have access to books they can personally relate to. Also, children from other cultures should be exposed at a young age to books from diverse backgrounds.

Books such as THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING are important in a multitude of ways. I am rating this book as 4.5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

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*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong-American writer. She holds degrees from Carleton College and Columbia University. Yang is the author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir winner of the 2009 Minnesota Book Awards in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir and Readers’ Choice, a finalist for the PEN USA Award in Creative Nonfiction, and the Asian Literary Award in Nonfiction.

The book is a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read title and on the roster of the American Place Theatre’s Literature to Life Program.

Her second book, The Song Poet won the 2016 Minnesota Book Award in Creative Nonfiction Memoir, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, a PEN USA Award in Nonfiction, and the Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize. The story has been commissioned as a youth opera by the Minnesota Opera and will premiere in the spring of 2021.

Yang’s debut children’s book, A Map Into the World is a American Library Association Notable Book of the Year, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book, winner of the Northstar Best Illustrator Award, and now a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award.

Her co-edited collection titled What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss By and For Indigenous Women and Women of Color is a groundbreaking work that centers the poetry and prose of women whose voices have been neglected and silenced on the topic despite the fact they experience these losses disproportionately. The book was one of the ten best books of the fall of 2019 by the Star Tribune and forty other national papers.

In 2020, Yang will publish her second children’s book The Shared Room, a collective memoir about refugee lives, Somewhere in the Unknown World, and another book for children, The Most Beautiful Thing.

Kao Kalia Yang is also a teacher and a public speaker.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://kaokaliayang.com

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

LINKEDIN

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ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Khoa Le has illustrated picture books published in a number of different countries.

She is also an author, a graphic designer, and a painter. Khoa has a passion for travel, an eagerness to learn about different cultures, and a desire to discover the beauty of the world.

Her inner moth makes her attracted to any source of light, but her dream is to one day see the northern lights.

She lives in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, with her five cats.

She is the winner of the Grand Prize Samsung KidsTime Authors Award 2015 (Singapore) and the second runner up of The Scholastic Picture Book Award 2017 (Singapore).

Khoa also has a passion for travel, an eagerness to learn about different cultures, and a desire to discover the beauty of the world.

To read an interview with Khoa Le click HERE.

Freelance illustrator, graphic designer and painter based in HCMC, Vietnam

Graduated from HCMC University of Fine Art, Graphic design department

Exhibitions:

Exhibition of Graphic Design Department, HCMc University of fine art 2008 -Group exhibition Myth and sleepwalker, digital art 2008

Group exhibition Small 2009 -Biennale of the young artist 2009 (group exhibition)

Solo exhibition Unravel 2010

Group exhibition Cyber space 2010

Group exhibition My sister, San art 2011.

Group exhibition Eperantopolis 2011 – Group exhibition Art Expo Malaysia 2012

Asia Contemporary Art Show, Hong Kong 2012, group exhibition

To learn more about this highly talented Illustrator visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://khoale.daportfolio.com

GOODREADS

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Artwork by Khoa Le
Artwork by Khoa Le

THE ALGONQUIN READER – Spring/Summer 2020 Edition is AVAILABLE NOW. Want to know what books you simply need to read this season? This magazine tells you all about them and even offers Sneak Peeks, Book Club Discussion Guides, and much more.

Title: THE ALGONQUIN READER 

Issue: SPRING 2020

Cover Illustrator: CURTIS PARKER

Genre: FICTION, LITERARY FICTION

Received: NETGALLEY 

ISBN: 9781643751290

RATING: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE SPRING 2020 ISSUE:

The Spring/Summer 2020 Algonquin Reader.

Discover the inspiration behind each book listed in this season’s issue through an original essay by the author.

Then enjoy an excerpt from each novel or short story collection.

The books featured in this issue are:

Afterlife by Julia Alvarez
On Sale April 2020

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
On Sale March 2020

Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle Dr
On Sale June 2020

The Falling Woman by Richard Farrell
On Sale June 2020

The Lives of Edie Pritchard by Larry Watson
On Sale July 2020

A House Is a Body by Shruti Swamy
On Sale August 2020

With or Without You by Caroline Leavitt
On Sale August 2020

MY REVIEW:

THE ALGONQUIN READER is a literary fiction magazine. I received an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of the SPRING/SUMMER 2020 issue.

In this issue, a selection of authors who have books being published between March and August of 2020, each wrote an essay and include an excerpt from their upcoming book.

The first author to be included was Julia Alvarez whose book AFTERLIFE was published in April of 2020. Her essay speaks of the evolution of her writing style as well as her writing routine. The excerpt from AFTERLIFE had the intended effect on me, as I have now added it to the list of books I want to read this year.
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Next up was the incredibly talented author of THE MOUNTAINS SING –  Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai. In her essay titled “Climbing Many Mountains,” she writes about her life in Vietnam and how winning a writing competition at the age of ten, which she had secretly entered, led her to spend her teen years talking to relatives and elders about their lives. This inquisitiveness (unknownst to her at the time) was the beginning of her research for THE MOUNTAINS SING. Also included is an excerpt from her amazing book which I have already read and will be reviewing soon. She ends her essay with the following quote:

“I hope the story of Huóng and Diêu Lan helps international readers discover our common humanity, as in the words of Huóng: ‘Somehow I was sure that if people were willing to read each other, and see the light of other cultures, there would be no war on earth.'”

The third included author is JILL McCORKLE whose book: HIEROGLYPHICS is due for release in June. Her book is based around two historic tragedies, a train derailment in 1941 and a nightclub fire in 1942. At the conclusion of her essay, author Jill McCorkle states:

“My hope is that the readers of Hieroglyphics will be entertained by these characters and their lives, but I also hope it will lead them to think of various fragments and images from their own lives and to experience the oldest and purest form of time travel – memory.”

I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book. The essay, as well as the excerpt included in the Spring issue of THE ALGONQUIN READER has succeeded in piqueing my interest.

THE FALLING WOMAN by Richard Farrell is a tale of suspense. A plane crashes and the sole survivor is a woman, and the story is about her, as well as the young agent whose job it is to find her. THE FALLING WOMAN is being released in June. In his essay, author Richard Farrell says:

We all are haunted by something – something we did or didn’t do – and the passing years either add to the weight or diminish it.”

I agree and identify wholeheartedly with this quote.

The final three books highlighted in the Spring 2020 Issue of THE ALGONQUIN READER are:

1. The Lives of Edie Pritchard by Larry Watson which hits bookstore shelves in July of 2020.

2. A House Is a Body by Shruti Swamy
is set for release in August of 2020

and

3. With or Without You by Caroline Leavitt which goes on sale August 2020.

Out of all the books highlighted, I most want to get my hands on a copy of AFTERLIFE by Julia Alvarez.

Courtesy of ALGONQUIN BOOKS, you can read an excerpt from AFTERLIFE by clicking HERE

You can also read an essay by the author HERE

And, last but not least, you can download a FREE BOOK CLUB KIT for Afterlife HERE

I rate the Spring 2020 Issue of THE ALGONQUIN READER as a hearty 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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*Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Founded in 1983, Algonquin Books started as a small Southern house but quickly garnered national attention for publishing authors such as Julia Alvarez, Kaye Gibbons, Robert Morgan, and Lee Smith. In 1989, Algonquin was acquired by Workman Publishing. Algonquin is recognized internationally as a literary publishing house with numerous fiction and nonfiction bestsellers and award winners. Algonquin Young Readers is a new imprint that features books for readers seven to seventeen.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

#TheAlgonquinReaderSpring2020  #NetGalley

THE LAST HIGH by Canadian Bestselling Author and ER Doc DANIEL KALLA is a timely book. Although THE LAST HIGH is fiction, it is based on what is currently happening in Vancouver, BC. His first hand knowledge makes this story come to life and be felt viscerally by the reader.

Title: THE LAST HIGH

Author: DANIEL KALLA

Genre: FICTION, THRILLER, CANADIAN AUTHOR, OPIATE CRISIS, ADDICTION, SOCIAL THEMES

Length: 320 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MAY 12, 2020

ISBN: 9781501196980

Price: $22.00 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Dr. Julie Rees, a toxicologist and ER doctor, is stunned when her emergency room is flooded with teenagers from the same party, all on the verge of death. Julie knows the world of opioids inside and out, and she recognizes that there’s nothing typical about these cases. She suspects the teens took—or were given—fentanyl. But why did they succumb so quickly?

Detective Anson Chen is determined to find out. He and Julie race to track down the supplier of the deadly drugs. But the trail of suspects leads everywhere, from unscrupulous street dealers to ruthless gang leaders who hide behind legitimate business fronts and the walls of their mansions.

As Anson and Julie follow clues through the drug underworld, Julie finds herself haunted by memories of her troubled past—and the lover she lost to addiction. When other overdoses fill the ER—and the morgue—Julie realizes that something even more sinister than the ongoing fentanyl crisis is devastating the streets. And the body count is rapidly rising.

A gripping thriller, The Last High explores the perfect storm of greed, addiction, and crime behind the malignant spread of fentanyl, a deadly drug that is killing people faster than any known epidemic.

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MY REVIEW:

Eerily plausible. THE LAST HIGH takes readers inside today’s headlines into the world of both opiod addiction and the current rates of overdose deaths due to drugs being laced with the extremely powerful painkiller, fentanyl.

According to Wikipedia, “The Downtown Eastside is a neighbourhood in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The area, one of the city’s oldest, is the site of a complex set of social issues including high levels of drug use, homelessness, poverty, crime, mental illness, and prostitution.”

The East side of Vancouver, is notorious and holds onto its reputation as the epicenter of hopelessness. This area was not only the hunting ground of prolific serial killer Robert Picton, but is also known for the number of junkies and drug addicts who live there.

Overdoses are not uncommon in East Van, and Author Daniel Kalla works as an Emergency Room doctor, so he sees, and tries to save, many of the unfortunate victims of overdose – mainly due to fentanyl being added to the drugs users usually buy unbeknownst to the buyer.

The terrifying plausibility is what makes this book so very realistic. It is this realism that will grip readers from the very first page.

This book is fast paced and the characters seem so real that is impossible not to get caught up in the story. Readers of this book are in for quite a ride. I found myself wanting to jump into some of the scenes and just shake the people involved.

I have no choice but to rate this book as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

THE LAST HIGH is due to be released on May 12th but is already available for Pre-Order. I am fairly certain that this book will hit the bestseller lists shortly after it’s release. Because of this I highly recommend pre-ordering THE LAST HIGH so that you don’t miss out.



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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photography by Michael Bednar

Born, raised, and still residing in Vancouver, Kalla spends his days (and sometimes nights) working as an ER Physician in an urban teaching hospital.

The idea for his first medical thriller, PANDEMIC, sprang from his clinical experience in facing the SARS crisis of 2003. He has written five science thrillers and or medical mysteries, delving into themes and topics as diverse as superbugs, drug addiction, prions, DNA evidence, pandemics and patient abuse.

Kalla’s last book, THE FAR SIDE OF THE SKY, is a historical novel set in Second World War Shanghai against the dramatic backdrop of converging cultures and ideologies. RISING SUN, FALLING SHADOW continues the story of the Adler family through 1943, the bleakest year in war-torn Shanghai.

His books have been translated into eleven languages, and two have been optioned for feature films.

Daniel received his MD from the University of British Columbia. He is married and the proud father of two girls in a home predominated by the XX chromosome (even his beloved Labrador retriever, Lola, is female.)

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://danielkalla.com/

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Vincent Lam and Daniel Kalla

The Inaugural I READ CANADIAN DAY is Coming Soon – And I Am Hosting A Terrific Giveaway ENTER TO WIN NOW!

FEBRUARY 19, 2020 is the First Ever I READ CANADIAN DAY.

The inaugural I READ CANADIAN DAY is a national day of celebration of Canadian books for young people.  This is a day dedicated to ‘reading Canadian’ and will empower families, schools, libraries and organizations to host local activities and events within the week.

For example, libraries or book stores can create a local I Read Canadian display for a month, or host author and illustrator visits during the week of the I Read Canadian day. Schools or communities can create challenges to get more readers involved – see how many readers can read Canadian.

GOAL: The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of Canadian books and celebrate the richness, diversity and breadth of Canadian literature.

WHEN: February 19th, 2020.

ACTION: We challenge the nation to “Read Canadianfor 15 minutes and to share their experience at their library, in their school, with their families and friends, or on social media Young people are encouraged to read, or be read to, a Canadian book of their choice.

SIGN YOUR READERS UP FOR FREE

TOOLS FOR YOUR I READ CANADIAN DAY 

NEWS/MEDIA

Canadian School Libraries Journal Article – November 4, 2019

Quill & Quire Article – Northern Exposure – December 2019

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

So, I really want to encourage everyone to join in on I READ CANADIAN DAY on February 19th, 2020

To encourage readers of all ages to sign up, I will be giving away books by Canadian authors from my stockpile.

So, HOW DO YOU ENTER TO WIN? Entering is easy. Click on the Giveaway and complete each task for more and more entries.

WHAT CAN YOU WIN?

I will be giving away a softcover copy of FROM THE ASHES: MY STORY OF BEING MÉTIS, HOMELESS AND FINDING MY WAY by Métis Canadian Author JESSE THISTLE.

Because I want to promote Canadian authors to everyone on the planet, this Giveaway is OPEN WORLDWIDE.

GIVEAWAY starts TODAY and Ends at midnight on the last day of February.

I READ CANADIAN DAY (February 19, 2020)

ABOUT THE PRIZE:

Jesse Thistle, once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar, chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is.

From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Photo Credit: Lucie Thistle

My Review of FROM THE ASHES will be posted by the end of this week.

A PROMISE TO KEEP by Canadian Author MELONY TEAGUE is Now Available To PreOrder – RELEASE DATE January 21, 2020

SYNOPSIS:

Research librarian Savannah Sanderson wants nothing more than to escape into her happily-ever-after novels with their larger-than-life fictional heroes. But a promise to her late husband has her attending her dreaded twenty-year high school reunion, drinking ghastly punch, and taking desperate measures just to keep her vow, even if she has to hide behind the décor to do it.

Once a reckless troublemaker, Michael McCann fled town after graduation. Now a professional technical rescuer, he’s back for the reunion, but on his trip down memory lane, he soon comes face to face with unresolved issues, namely Savannah.

Before the night is over, a pact between these two old friends will lead them on an adventure into uncharted emotional territory where Michael must confront his past regrets and find the courage to reveal the truth. But can Savannah fly from her sheltered nest and risk her heart on a real-life hero?

PRE-ORDER NOW BY CLICKING HERE:

ADD THIS BOOK ON GOODREADS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melony Teague is a co-author of As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers & Speakers released in 2016 and finalist in The Word Awards. Melony Teague is a Freelance Writer, Ghostwriter, and Columnist. By her written words, she loves to bring more laughter to this crazy world.

Born in South Africa, she stepped onto a plane to start a new life in Toronto, Canada in 1999. She loves to uncover stories hiding in plain view, but they are remarkable nonetheless. She believes that everyone has a story to tell…and sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

As a freelance writer and journalist, she is an editorial contributor for various newspapers and magazines in the Greater Toronto Area and wrote guest columns on issues pertaining to the community. Melony handles Communications for a Non-Profit Organization in Canada and is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers)

Watch for her debut novel, A Promise to Keep, Available To PreOrder NOW.

Melony lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, two teens and two cats.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

AMAZON

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

GOODREADS

BOOKBUB

THE LEGACY AND THE LION by Elaine Jemmett is a 5 Star read set in a primitive future, 300 years from now and the world is similar to medieval times. THIS IS A MUST READ. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: THE LEGACY AND THE LION

Series: THE YUSAN CHRONICLES – BOOK ONE

Author: ELAINE JEMMETT

Genre: FICTION, FANTASY FICTION, CANADIAN AUTHORS, SCIENCE FICTION, POST-APOCALYPTIC FICTION

Length: 390 PAGES

Publisher: TITONIK BOOKS

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: MARCH 29, 2017

ISBN: 9780995327221

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

The future is a primitive place. Three hundred year from now, the kingdom of Yusay stands solidly amid the broken bones of our broken world. Horses ply the roads, the best weapons are broadswords and bows, and the Ancients are feared and despised.

Patrick Bell hails from a secret colony that remembers the Ancients. After the violent death of his wife and children, Patrick needs a new home. He follows the trail of his ancestor to the kingdom of Yusay, only to find that ancestor is not merely remembered, he is worshipped. Patrick wins the powerful post of Master of Guards, but his mysterious past and his claim to be the descendant of the Yusan prophet make him the target of enough suspicion and envy to put his life on the line.

Gar of the First Line was once a young scholar. Forced to become a warrior when a murderous uprising slaughtered most of the ruling family, Gar reconquered Yusay. Now an ageing king with a long lifetime of impressive reforms, Gar needs a man as talented as Patrick to protect his family, and his legacy. He risks trusting him, but only to a point. Gar’s trust is increasingly tested when it becomes obvious that Patrick is a prime suspect in a plot to murder the king . . .
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MY REVIEW:

This book is the beginning of a truly epic saga.

It is exceedingly rare that I find a new author who writes so well that I believe her book can easily be rated up there with famous and bestselling authors. The only reason people have not yet heard of this book is a lack of marketing.

THE LEGACY AND THE LION could, and I believe would, hit the best-seller lists if more people spread the word as to how truly exceptional this story is. In fact, when I was speaking to my husband about this book, he asked me which writer I thought this book matches up to. My answer was George R.R. Martin, who is the author of many books including the Game of Thrones series.

For me to compare Elaine Jemmett to George R.R. Martin is a huge compliment.

The reason I am so passionate about this book is that Elaine Jemmett has created an entire post-apocalyptic civilization, yet the events in the book occur three hundred years after the fall of civilization and, neither what led to the apocalypse, nor what took place during or immediately after, are not mentioned at all. This in itself makes this book unique.

The hero of the tale is a man named Patrick Bell. Patrick arrives at the palace of Yusay from a colony far enough away that no one in Yusay is even aware of its existence.

Despite his outsider status, Patrick wins the position of Master of the Guards and quickly becomes indispensable to King Gar.

As Patrick works hard on reforming what he sees as a lack of organization within the ranks of the guards. This, plus the fact that he is not from Yusay, is enough to put his life in danger on more than one occasion.

King Gar learns of a plot to end his life, and despite his growing affection for his new Master of Guards, he has a list of suspects and Patrick is high on that list.

This book contains many different important characters, all of whom are responsible for various aspects of the palace and/or life within the kingdom of Yusay. With so many characters it would have been easy to become lost in the minutiae of their lives and responsibilities, but, author Elaine Jemmett weaves the details seamlessly into the story. This impressed me greatly and brought to mind the many different houses and kingdoms in the “Game of Thrones” books.

This story contains multiple layers as well as a variety of intricate plotlines that drew me in and literally held my attention right to the last page.

If you love books full of intrigue and deception as well as books with fantasy type plotlines, then you must read this book. This tale can be seen as good versus evil, but that is only part of the story. There is an undercurrent of an additional plotline which has yet to be explained and has only been hinted at thus far.

Character development in this story is phenomenal. I felt like I knew each of the important characters intimately by the end of this first book in the series and I am extremely excited to get my hands on a copy of BLACK KING; Book Two of the Yusan Chronicles.

I rate THE LEGACY AND THE LION as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

** Thank you to the author for providing me with a free copy of this book.**

*** The fact that I received this book for free has nothing to do with how I rated it. Before I accept a book to read and review, I make sure that the author is aware that I will review it honestly, whether good or bad.***
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Elaine Jemmett was born in 1958 in Toronto, Canada, the youngest child of three.

When Elaine was ten the family moved to the country. Her nearest friends were far away, and Elaine spent a lot of her free time rambling in the woods with the family dog, feeding a deep love of nature and developing an already over-active imagination.

Born at the beginning of the space age, Elaine Jemmett grew up watching endless reruns of Star Trek and dreaming about adventure. In university she majored in English and her reading interests expanded to include literature, science, history, and politics.

She studied English Literature at Toronto’s York University and has worked as a legal editor and author’s representative.

When not writing, she can usually be found attempting to quench a dire addiction to iced tea.

The National Geographic has landed in the family mailbox for some 50 years and remains a steady source of inspirational tinder.

Elaine is married, and lives with her husband and overgrown offspring in Ontario, Canada.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
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GOODREADS
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BOOKBUB
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ITUNES
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SMASHWORDS
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AMAZON
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KOBO
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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

Here are Links to the FREE short story VALUE by Elaine Jemmett:

Goodreads
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SMASHWORDS

ABOUT THE BLACK KING:

The Black King is a much longer, far more complex book than I thought I was going to write. It’s shorter than Legacy and the Lion, but still a fairly long book. There’s a lot more action in this book (yes, heads will roll) and the psychological drama is far more intense. I’m hoping people will find it an excellent read.

Anyone interested in contacting the author can do so by sending an email to ElaineJemmettAuthor@gmail.com

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Founded in 2016, Titonik Books is a privately-owned company based in Ontario, Canada. At present we publish the literary works of only one author. We do not accept manuscripts for consideration.

For more information about this publisher click on the following link:

https://titonikbooks.ca/about/

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:
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

GIVEAWAY!

Blitz-wide giveaway (INT)
  • $100 Amazon gift card + a signed copy of The Honeymooner Full Colour Book Lover’s Edition
  • Giveaway Ends April 18th

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