COMING EVENT – Attend the Toronto Book Launch of THE TORONTO BOOK OF THE DEAD on Friday, September 15th at 7.30pm – FREE ADMISSION 

Friday, September 15, 2017 – 7:30 PM

Book Launch: Toronto Lit Up

Spacing Store

401 Richmond Street West
Toronto M5V 3A8

Cost: FREE

IFOA and Dundurn Press invite you to the release of The Toronto Book of The Dead by Adam Bunch as part of the Toronto Lit Up book launch series.

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“Toronto has witnessed countless lives lived and lost as it grew from a muddy little frontier town into a booming metropolis of concrete and glass. The Toronto Book of the Dead tells the tale of the ever-changing city through the lives and deaths of those who made it their final resting place.”

15-dundurn

 

 


Toronto Lit Up is a three year initiative, spearheaded by the Toronto Arts Council and IFOA, designed to spotlight Toronto’s writers and empower local artists with career-building opportunities.

toronto-lit-up-logo-magenta-2Toronto Arts CouncilPrint


Participants

  • Adam Bunch

    Adam Bunch

    Adam Bunch is the creator of The Toronto Dreams Project, and has written about the history of the city for Spacing Magazine, Torontoist and the Huffington Post. In 2012, he earned an honourable mention for a Governor General’s History Award. Adam lives in Toronto.

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NEW RELEASE – “CROSSING THE LINE” by Bibi Belford is Historical Middle-grade Fiction at its finest. A 5 Star Read recommended for ages 10 to 110. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

Title: CROSSING THE LINE

Author: BIBI BELFORD    

Genre: FICTION, MULTICULTURAL FICTION, MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION, DIVERSE BOOKS, HISTORICAL FICTION

Length: 287 PAGES

Publisher: SKY PONY PRESS – An Imprint of SKYHORSE PUBLISHING

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Received From: PUBLISHER

Release Date: AUGUST 22, 2017  

ISBN: 978-1-5107-0800-6 

Price:  $15.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟  


DESCRIPTION:

“I’m excited about my new historical fiction,CROSSING THE LINE, a middle grade novel to be published in 2017 by Sky Pony Press.

It’s set in Bridgeport, Chicago in 1919, and told through the eyes of eleven-year-old Billy McDermott.

Billy is pretty sure skin color doesn’t matter. Not when you and Foster, your fifth grade buddy and his brothers, Odelle and Emmett, are just horsing around, building a raft.

But in the Red Summer of 1919, it does matter, and Billy’s misguided innocence causes Odelle’s murder, igniting Chicago’s bloodiest race riot.”

Bibi Belford, Author of Crossing the Line, Canned and Crushed, and other middle grade fiction.


MY REVIEW:


CROSSING THE LINE
 is a brand new middle-grade fiction novel released August 22nd, 2017. The timing of this book’s release could not be better.

With racial tensions currently  rising across the United States, it is time to remind adults that those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it. Even though this book is targeted at children between the ages of 10-14, it is written in such a way that adults will enjoy reading it as well.

Set in the year 1919, this is a fictional story told around actual historic events. CROSSING THE LINE would be perfect for book reports and/or book clubs. I believe that after reading this book, children will be interested in digging deeper and learning more about their nation’s history. Even if that does not happen, readers will find themselves with a much better understanding of the role of race in American history. 

I love the fact that author Bibi Belford chose 1919 as the time period for this book. The events in the book occur after the soldiers who survived have returned from World War One. In fact, the main character, Billy, is dealing with his father’s return from the war. Instead of returning as a celebrated, conquering hero, Billy’s Dad is confined to the Veterans Hospital with a severe case of Shell Shock. This leaves Billy as the “Man of the House” and leaves his mother struggling to provide her family with a roof over their heads and to put food on their table.

To help reduce household expenses, Billy leaves the Catholic school he has always attended and in which he was just another Irish Catholic kid, like all the other students. There was zero diversity among the students and their families.

Now attending Public School, Billy befriends a student in his class named Foster. Both boys love baseball and bond over that as well as the fact that both their fathers fought in the war.

The author took this picture of CERMAK BRIDGE which is where one of the scenes in the book takes place.

Foster is black and even though the two boys see nothing wrong with being friends, but when the city’s residents find out about it, a series of events take place that culminates in murder and citywide mayhem.

five policemen and one soldier with a rifle standing on a street corner during a race riot in the Douglas community areaof Chicago, Illinois

A white gang looking for Black victims

An African American being stoned during the race riots

With perfection in character building, and a plot that will have readers riveted, CROSSING THE LINE is a 5 Star Read. It will remind people of one of the darkest periods in Chicago’s history and remind us that small actions matter. The time to stand up against racism is now. We cannot allow history to repeat itself.

I highly recommend this book and I would like to thank the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Teacher-turned-Author  

|  Literacy Advocate  |  

Educational Consultant

 Gardening Enthusiast 

 |  Writer-Mentor  

|  Admirer of Lighthouses

 | Kid’s-Fiction Writer

Bibi Belford is the author of books for middle grade readers: CROSSING THE LINE, CANNED AND CRUSHED, THE GIFT, and ANOTHER D FOR DEEDEE (coming 2018). 

She lives in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois with her husband. She enjoys books, gardening, beaches, and spending time with her grandchildren. 

Belford also works as an educational consultant and volunteers in public schools. She is a member of CWA – Chicago Writers Association, SCBWI-Illinois, and has served as a panelist for author Success Stories at the UW-Madison Writers’ Institute.

To learn more about this author visit the following links: 

OFFICIAL WEBSITE      

GOODREADS       

TWITTER       

FACEBOOK       

INSTAGRAM          

PINTEREST     

AMAZON


CHAPTERS


 

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: 

Launched in fall 2011, Sky Pony Press is the children’s book imprint of Skyhorse Publishing. Following in the footsteps of our parent company, our goal is to provide books for readers with a wide variety of interests. Our continually growing list includes fiction, picture books, educational books, novelty books, and midgrade, and we even reissue some well-loved classics. Since we do not view our potential readers as generic age groups, but rather as individual children, each with specific talents and needs, we publish in a broad range of subject matter to celebrate their diverse interests.

To learn more about Sky Pony Press click on the logo above, or click HERE.

*** Thank you to the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of CROSSING THE LINE. 



VANGUARD by the talented ANN AGUIRE – Book 4 in the Razorland Series 

Title: VANGUARD    

Series: RAZORLAND – BOOK FOUR

Author: ANN AGUIRRE      

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, POST-APOCALYPTIC FICTION, DYSTOPIAN FICTION 

Length: 368 PAGES

Publisher: MACMILLAN CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING GROUP      

Type of Book: EBOOK

Received From: NETGALLEY 

Release Date: JULY 25, 2017

ISBN: 9781250089823 (HARDCOVER)

Price: $17.99 USD (HARDCOVER)

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟

  


DESCRIPTION

This book begins ten months after ‘The War of the River.’

Tegan sets out to fulfill her mentor’s last request and to fulfill the wanderlust in her soul. She is accompanied on her journey by Millie Faraday, who is trying to outrun her reputation of being “the kindest girl in the free territories.” 

On her way to the first stop on their  adventure, she encounters Szarok, the Vanguard of the Uroch. Szarok offers to travel with them and Tegan accepts, knowing there is safety in traveling with him.

When Tegan is offered a job as a ‘long-haul ship’s doctor’ Millie, James and Szarok all sign onto the ship as well. Each has a different reason for traveling aboard the ship, but none is more important than Szarok’s reason. He is on a mission to save his people and despite the strange feelings he experiences whenever in Tegan’s presence, he is determined to fulfill his mission.

Tegan’s affection for the strange but somehow beautiful Uroch grows over time and she defends him from the blatant prejudices of other humans.

As their time together lengthens, it is Tegan who, through stormy seas and a variety of strange, new lands, will become stronger than she ever knew possible.


THE MORAL OF THE STORY:  

The very thinly veiled moral of this story is that prejudice is NOT OK. This may seem like a very basic idea to many of us, but unfortunately, there are still many people who have yet to recognize this very basic truth. 



MY REVIEW:

The previous three books in the Razorland saga followed the adventures (and romance) of Deuce and Fade. Tegan was very much part of the story, but she was never the sole focus. In VANGUARD, Tegan steps out of the shadows and takes center stage.

Although this is the fourth book in the series, it also works as a stand-alone novel. Those who have read the first three books in the Razorland saga will be able to connect with the history of the post-apocalyptic world they live in as we as what led Tegan to this point in her life. Author Ann Aguire has included enough detail about the past that new readers will not find their enjoyment diminished in any way. In fact, I believe new readers will be so intrigued by VANGUARD they will want to run out and buy the rest of the Razorland saga immediately.

The story begins once Tegan’s Doctor/Mentor/Father-Figure dies and she decides to head out into the world. Tegan’s skill as a healer affords her the ability to provide for herself wherever she goes.

When she meets up with Szarok at the beginning of her journey. Szarok offers to travel with her and although the peace between his “people” and the regular humans is tenuous, his offer affords Tegan a measure of security that she knew she would be foolish to refuse.

Tegan and Szarok start off their journey as acquaintances who both find each other visually unappealing and dislike each other’s scents and eating habits. They do recognize certain similarities, but their historical and cultural differences and the clear division between their “tribes” are not easily put aside.

When the two end up stranded alone together they learn more about each other and their differences cease to be an issue. This is realistic. Once you spend time with someone, regardless of their race or faith you realize that surface differences no longer matter. This is a lesson that is important. People need to understand that skin color, religion, and other differences are not the entirety of a person – they are just the wrapper. It is what is inside that matters.

This situation reminds me of racial differences  and smacks of ingrained discrimination. Readers should be able to relate Tegan and Szarok’s tale to instances of interracial or interfaith relationships.

This book is an extremely easy read and its length makes it perfect for a weekend at the cottage, the beach, at a campground or for a lazy weekend at home.

Ann Aguirre uses her considerable writing talent to pen a romance between unlikely characters. Readers can view this book as just a wonderful, light-hearted romance, or they can look a little deeper. If readers choose to look deeper, they will realize this book as one that combats racism.

Choosing two different races as her main characters, Ann Aguirre demonstrates a truth that many people have yet to embrace; the fact that just because a person looks different from you on the outside does NOT mean they are different on the inside.

I rate VANGUARD as 4 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The only reason this book did not receive a 5th Star was that in some ways, the plot was predictable. However, this did not in any way diminish my enjoyment in reading this tale.

To read more of my reviews – Follow me here on my blog as well as on INSTAGRAM and TWITTER   

* A special Thank You to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Author Photograph and description obtained from her website.

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes books, emo music, and action movies. She writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens.

To learn more about this author visit the following links: 

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

GOODREADS       

FACEBOOK     

TUMBLR     

AMAZON      

CHAPTERS    

TWITTER    
FIERCE READS     

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE     

BARNES & NOBLE  

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WATER MEMORY – A 4 STAR GRAPHIC NOVEL by Mathieu Reynes will thrill all ages. 

Title: WATER MEMORY     

Author:  MATHIEU REYNES   

Illustrator: VALÉRIE VERNAY    

Genre: FICTION, GRAPHIC NOVELS

Publisher: DIAMOND BOOK DISTRIBUTORS     

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: NETGALLEY        

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 5, 2017

ISBN: 9781941302439

Price: $14.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟    


DESCRIPTION
:

“A new life begins for Marion when her mother inherits an old family house and decides to make it their new home.  With its own private beach and a view of the sea, the house has all the makings of a happy new life. But when Marion discovers strange rock carvings nearby, and learns that a sinister-looking lighthouse watchman may be part of a local legend come to life, it becomes clear that things are not as idyllic as they seemed.”


MY REVIEW:

A gorgeously illustrated graphic novel with a plot that will draw in readers and keep you turning pages.

I did not know just how well an author and illustrator could work together to create characters with as much depth as Marion and her mother exhibit in WATER MEMORY. It is impossible to read this graphic novel and not feel like you know Marion intimately. 

The story and the mystery unravels at the perfect pace and the illustrations add to the air of otherworldlyness and will have readers guessing as to what is happening.

The ending will surprise readers and it  creates the possibility of a sequel. Personally, I hope a sequel is written, as I, for one, will buy it.

With beautifully illustrated pages and a gripping story-line, WATER MEMORY is a wonderful graphic novel that I rate as 4 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟 and I highly recommend it to lovers of mystery and even though it is a graphic novel, I believe that even those who have never read this type of book, will be drawn in and will enjoy it immensely.  

**Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this graphic novel.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:   

Photo of Author and Illustrator. Click on the photo to be taken to the source website


Mathieu Reynès is a French comic book writer and artist. Since 2002, he has worked with many of Europes’ top comic publishers including Ankama, Dupuis, Paquet and Spirou. He illustrated the successful Alter ego series, wrote Water Memory, and is currently writing and drawing the supernatural graphic novel: Harmony.

Born in 1977 in the western suburbs of Paris, France, Reynès spent much of his childhood near the Basque coast. Initially studying science in Bordeaux, he decided to change course and pursue cartoons and 3D animation at the CNBDI in Angoulême. He released his first album, Banana Fight in 2002, in collaboration with writer Frédéric Brrémaud. The duo went on to create two volumes of Sexy Gun and three volumes of Lola Bogota.

Reynès worked predominately in the field of humour, until 2011, where he embarked on the conspiracy series Alter Ego. Reynès used a more realistic style to tell the complex intertwined story. Written by Denis Lapière and Pierre-Paul Renders, the series spread across 11 albums. This series won the 2011 Saint Michael Award for Best Story.

In 2012, Reynès wrote the two-part story La mémoire de l’eau (Water Memory), which was undoubtedly inspired by his childhood memories of the Basque coast. Beautifully drawn by Valérie Vernay the story balances reality and mystery and is just as good for a pre-teen as for an adult.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE    

GOODREADS     

TWITTER      

FACEBOOK           

TUMBLR    

INSTAGRAM           

AMAZON   

CHAPTERS     
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR: 


VALÉRIE VERNAY trained as an illustrator at the Emile Cohl school. With her illustrator’s diploma under her belt, she published her first children’s book “Le Gardien de la Nuit” (published by Petit à Petit). 

 Over time, she edged her way onto the comic book scene: step by step, a secret dream she never thought would be possible. She started by participating in several collective works, and worked as a colourist on “Sexy Gun,” volumes 1 and 2 (published by Soleil), before creating volume 1 of the comic book adaptation of the “La guerre des Boutons” (published by Petit à Petit).

At the same time, she illustrated another children’s book “Perdus dans la forêt” (published by Magnard). She has now created her very own series “Agathe Saugrenu,” with Vincent Zabus on the script (published by Dupuis), and is continuing to do children’s illustrations for magazines on the side (published by Milan and Normandie Junior.)   

To learn more about this terrific illustrator visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE        

VALÉRIE’S BLOG    

GOODREADS           
FACEBOOK     
LINKEDIN          
  

**Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this graphic novel. 

DAMAGED LIKE US – BLOG BLITZ & $50 GIFT CARD & SIGNED BOOKS GIVEAWAY – STARTS TODAY!!! 

Damaged Like Us

by Krista & Becca Ritchie
Like Us #1
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Purchase: Amazon | iBooks

Don’t date your bodyguard.
It was the one rule he had to break.

Maximoff Hale is a force of nature. A ship unwilling to be steered. Headstrong, resilient, and wholly responsible — the twenty-two-year-old alpha billionaire can handle his unconventional life. By noon, lunch can turn into a mob of screaming fans. By two, his face is all over the internet.
Born into one of the most famous families in the country, his celebrity status began at birth.

He is certified American royalty.

When he’s assigned a new 24/7 bodyguard, he comes face-to-face with the worst case scenario: being attached to the tattooed, MMA-trained, Yale graduate who’s known for “going rogue” in the security team — and who fills 1/3 of Maximoff’s sexual fantasies.

Twenty-seven-year-old Farrow Keene has one job: protect Maximoff Hale. Flirting, dating, and hot sex falls far, far out of the boundary of his bodyguard duties and into “termination” territory. But when feelings surface, protecting the sexy-as-sin, stubborn celebrity becomes increasingly complicated.

Together, boundaries blur, and being exposed could mean catastrophic consequences for both.

About Krista & Becca Ritchie

Picture

Krista & Becca Ritchie are New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors and identical twins—one a science nerd, the other a comic book geek—but with their shared passion for writing, they combined their mental powers as kids and have never stopped telling stories. Now in their early twenties, they write about other twenty-somethings navigating through life, college, and romance. They love superheroes, flawed characters, and soul mate love.

They are the New Adult authors of the Addicted series and Calloway Sisters spin-off series, and you can find them on almost every social media, frolicking around like wannabe unicorns.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter

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THE LAST NEANDERTHAL by Claire Cameron – The best prehistoric fiction book since “Clan of the Cave Bear”

Title: THE LAST NEANDERTHAL

Author: CLAIRE CAMERON    

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION

Length: 272 PAGES     

Publisher: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE 

Type of Book: AUTOGRAPHED HARDCOVER

Book Jacket Designer: GREGG KULICK

Purchased From: BOOK LORE – An Independent Book Store located in Orangeville, Ontario
Release Date: APRIL 2017   

ISBN: 978-0-385-68678-5    

Price: $29.95 CDN (HARDCOVER)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

MY REVIEW:

When was the last time you pondered the similarities between Neanderthals and modern man? If you’re scratching your head because you can’t remember, you are not alone. Before reading THE LAST NEANDERTHAL by CLAIRE CAMERON, I hadn’t thought about Neanderthals since reading CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR by Jean M. Auel many, many years ago.

In this book, Archaeologist Rosamund (Rosa) Gale makes an astounding discovery that just might change everything we thought we knew about Neanderthals.

The book flips back and forth between Rosa’s story and that of a Neanderthal simply called, “Girl.”

Most people view Neanderthals as little more than savage beasts who just happen to look like us. However, if that were true, why do so many people contain traces of Neanderthal DNA.

I enjoyed reading Girl’s story and there are many parallels between her story and that of Rosa Gale.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 I believe this book will get people talking and that is always a good thing.

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“Their lives together had slipped away as the ice breaks from the river in the Spring. It does not melt off in a slow thaw. Instead, a series of deep cracks destabilizes the structure. When it goes, large chunks get pulled away all at once. And in the span of a day, before disbelieving eyes, the ice is gone. But underneath the river is the same…”

ABOUT THE BOOK JACKET DESIGNER:

GREGG KULICK is a graphic designer and art director at HarperCollins in New York City. He lives in Clinton Hill in Brooklyn.  

To see more book covers designed by him visit his official website HERE.
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo by David Kerr

(COPIED FROM THE AUTHOR’S WEBSITE)

When I was young I read The Clan of the Cave Bear and watched “Quest for Fire,” but Neanderthals felt as distant as dinosaurs. In school I was taught Neanderthals were an evolutionary step between the apes and us—hairy, primitive knuckle-draggers.

In 2010, a team sequenced a first draft of the Neanderthal genome and made an extraordinary discovery. Modern humans of European and Asian descent have inherited between 1-4% of their DNA from Neanderthals. Most scientists agree this is evidence of interbreeding between the two groups. Rather than a more evolved version of Neanderthals, we are close cousins.

But we think of ourselves as the ones who drove the Neanderthals to extinction, rather than having sex with them. So how did modern humans and Neanderthals make contact? We can’t know the answer, but a novelist should take on the risk involved in imagining one.

I worked with experts and used the new science of Neanderthals like a set of rules, or creative constraints, to build the story. My experience living and working in the outdoors gave me some insight into how surviving in the wild might have felt more than 40,000 years ago.

My novel is about Neanderthals, but it’s also a story that questions what it means to be human.

To learn more about this talented Canadian author who currently resides in Toronto, Ontario, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE      

GOODREADS     

TWITTER     

FACEBOOK     

INSTAGRAM        

AMAZON       

CHAPTERS     

Read The New York Times Book Review HERE.

HASHTAGS:

@penguinrandom @PenguinBooks @PenguinCanada @randomhouse @RandomHouseCA ⠀
@doubledaybooks @littlebrown

 #clairecameron #bookface #instabook #bookstagram #indiebookstore #readlocal #toronto #torontoauthors #canlit #thelastneanderthal #canadianauthor #readandreview #newbook #newrelease #mustread #book #bookblogger #tbr #tbrlist #bookstagrammer #fiction #bookreview #bookreviewer #booklorebookstore #CanadianPride #Canadian #instagramhub #instalike #thefinchbook #neanderthal #historicalfiction #Amiesbookreviews #Amiesbookreview #history
#archaeology #canadianauthors #randomhouse #readandreview #newbook #newrelease #mustread #bookblogger #bookreviewer #bookblog 

LOVE, ISH by Karen Rivers is a unique and engaging middle-grade novel that should be read by all ages. 

Title: LOVE-ISH    

Author: KAREN RIVERS     

Genre: MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

Length: 236 PAGES

Publisher: DANCING CAT BOOKS   

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: THE AUTHOR  

Release Date: APRIL 22, 2017 

ISBN: 978-1-77086-492-4   

Price: $12.95 CDN    

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟 
DESCRIPTION:

Mischa “Ish” Love knows she’ll be one of the first settlers on Mars. She’s applied to – and been rejected from – the Mars Now project forty-seven times, but the mission won’t leave for ten years, and Ish hasn’t given up hope. She also hasn’t given up hope that Tig will be her best friend again. 

When Ish collapses on the first day of seventh grade, she gets a diagnosis that threatens all her future plans. As Ish fights cancer, she dreams in vivid detail about the Martian adventures she’s always known she’d have – and makes unexpected discoveries about love, fate, and her place in the world. 


MY REVIEW:

Most Middle-grade books, especially those targeted at female readers, seem to contain little more than what I call “fluff.”

From their stereotypical pink covers to the oh so dreamy boy the main character has a crush on, Middle-Grade books for girls SUCK!!!

I LOVE that LOVE, ISH is different from any other book targeted at Middle-grade readers.

The cover of this book is awesome. It shows off Ish’s long red hair, and the artist’s decision to have her standing on the globe of Earth and looking towards Mars is 100% perfection.

I was not as happy with the description on the back of the book as I was with it’s cover. It does not really do this book justice, but I have the feeling that this was done on purpose to grab the interest of the target age group. Once they begin reading and are pulled into the story, they will realize that this book is truly one of a kind. Readers will discover that even though there are some very serious issues discussed in this book, they will want to keep reading despite the fact that they will be learning in the process.

Parents who do not try to keep their middle-grade children in a bubble and who realize that kids are a lot smarter than most people give them credit for, will want to buy this book for their sons and their daughters. Just because the protagonist is female, does not mean that this is a girl’s book. In fact, both boys and girls will be able to relate to Ish and to her struggle to find her place in the world [or, maybe on Mars instead.]

The writing style of author KAREN RIVERS draws middle-grade readers into the story instantaneously. Her knowledge of what clothing and footwear appeal to this age group is an example of her attention to detail, sibling rivalry and the jealousies that seem petty to adults but feel so very important to tweens and teens are another example.

Ish’s dream is to be the first woman/girl to live on Mars. In pursuit of this goal, she has read anything and everything that she could get her hands on that has to do with Mars and about the difficulties of colonizing a new planet.

I love that this book encourages readers to dream big. Ish found a website where people can apply to be part of the first Mars colony expedition. She is only twelve years old and has already applied more than 40 times. She has received a rejection every time so far, but she will not give up hope. She plans to keep applying until they finally accept her. The message implied by Ish’s actions is twofold. First, young people have dreams and aspirations and should be encouraged to follow those dreams, no matter how unlikely they seem. Secondly, the message to others is to be tenacious, and to not allow setbacks (or the opinions of others) to stop you from pursuing your dreams.

This book deserves a very high rating. There is so much contained in it’s pages that is unlike any other middle-grade book on the market. In fact, even though the target readership is ages 10 through 15, I believe that readers of all ages will fall ìn love with LOVE, ISH and that upon completion, they will recommend it to their friends and families. 

I rate this book as 4 out of 5 Stars in the Middle-grade Fiction category.    🌟🌟🌟🌟

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Living with Elliott is sort of like coexisting with a talking, breathing shard of broken glass. You never know when it’s going to poke you in the foot and leave you bleeding all over the clean floor.”


“My brain is basically a salad spinner, whirling unrelated ideas.”


“The thing with chemo is that it is the worst and also, it sucks all the energy out of me, leaving me as floppy as a piece of paper. I feel like I’m constantly carrying something heavy, but that heavy thing is me.” 


***** CAUTION *****


*****STOP READING THIS REVIEW NOW IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO KNOW WHAT ISSUES ARE BROUGHT UP IN “LOVE, ISH.” *****

So, if you are reading this, you have decided that you want to know. Good for you! I would have made the same choice.

Some very important social issues are discussed in LOVE, ISH. Some of these are discussed below: 

Ish lives on the shores of a lake in California and, just like in real life, the lake is getting smaller and smaller. 

In fact, the lake pictured below is called Lake Cachuma which is Santa Barbara’s primary water source. According to the New York Times, it is currently only at 7% capacity and is expected to dry up completely by the end of 2017. 

– Above is a picture of Lake Cachuma as it is today.

– Below is a picture of that same lake when it was full of water. The difference is staggering. 


[To learn more about California’s very real and extremely terrifying present-day water crisis, click 
HERE]    

Not only is the lake water disappearing, but before that started happening, a large chemical company located on the opposite side of the lake from Ish’s home, spilled a large amount of toxic waste into the lake. 

Ish even mentions the fact that the water changed to a bright blue color for several weeks after the incident.
Unfortunately, this type of corporate negligence happens way too often in our world today. 

It is an issue that our children will be left to try to remedy when they grow up. Not only that, but the polluted water can (and often does) end up entering into the water that comes from the taps in our homes. Recent news stories regarding the tainted water supply in Michigan prove that this is very much a relevant and legitimate problem. 

 
This will not only affect our children in the future, but it can cause very real, and very scary health problems, right now. 

What happens to Ish (being diagnosed with a brain tumor) could, in fact, have been due to the toxic spillage into the lake behind her house. This possibility is not explicitly mentioned  in the book, but astute readers will pick up on it anyway. 


[To learn more about recent toxic spills into lakes, rivers and oceans click 
HERE

Ish passes out on her first day of middle-school and it is discovered that she has a brain tumor. She undergoes chemotherapy and radiation treatments and the author does not shy away from writing about the aftereffects of those treatments.

“The thing with chemo is that it is the worst and also, it sucks all the energy out of me, leaving me as floppy as a piece of paper. I feel like I’m constantly carrying something heavy, but that heavy thing is me.”

I cannot think of any other middle-grade book that writes so openly and honestly about this topic. In other middle-grade books, if cancer is mentioned at all, the authors usually gloss over the details, and, almost always, the cancer sufferer is an adult, not a child. It is my opinion that by doing this, we are doing a disservice to our children. With the prevalence of cancer in today’s society, it is likely that most children will experience cancer in some way; whether it is a friend, or a family member, or even just the old lady who lives down the street.


[To learn more about childhood cancers click 
HERE]

I give HUGE Kudos to Author KAREN RIVERS for writing such an important and yet entertaining novel. I hope everyone who reads this review runs out and buys her book immediately. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Information was taken directly from the author’s website. 

Q & A About Karen Rivers

Where were you born?

I was born in Nanaimo, BC, on June 12, 1970.  

Where do you live?

I live in a little green house in Victoria, BC with two kids, two dogs, and two birds.  

Where did you go to school?

I did most of my schooling in Victoria.  After I graduated, I went to UVic for a couple of years, then I went to UBC and ended up with a degree in International Relations (‘91) and most of a degree in Physiology, that I never quite finished.  

Why did you become a writer?

I became a writer because I didn’t have any other choice. Every time I tried to stop writing, a new idea would pop into my head.  Sometimes I wish I had a job with regular hours (and a regular paycheque!) but mostly I feel incredibly lucky to be able to tell my stories for a living.

Where do you get your titles?

I don’t know!  Much like writing the books, I think a lot of it is magic.  And sometimes, my editor comes up with a much better title, so we use that one instead!   Writing a book is like being part of a big team.

What were you like when you were a kid?

Karen at age 10

I was a bookworm. I read so many books, it was ridiculous. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of books. I was also really skinny. When I was nine, I got glasses. Big glasses. It was the 1970s and/or 1980s, so that’s what glasses looked like. I had a lot of bad haircuts. I blushed a lot. I never knew how to do a cartwheel. I thought they’d teach us at school but it turned out everyone else knew how to do one before they even got there! I was pretty quiet and very shy. I think I was sometimes funny, too. I was always competitive so I got good grades. I think at different stages of my life, I was a lot like some of my characters.  I still am.  I think we are all always every age that we’ve ever been, like the layers of an onion. 

What’s your favourite book for kids?

For a long time, I avoided reading kids’ books or YA at all because I thought if I read someone else’s book, I might think my own books didn’t measure up and I would be filled with self-doubt.  I hate to think about all the great books that I missed by worrying about that.  Now I read a lot of YA and Middle Grade, so much that I have a hard time picking a favourite, but today I”m going to say that Rebecca Stead’s WHEN YOU REACH ME is topping the list.     

Are you married?

No.

Do you have any pets?

Yes.  I have a dog named Happy and a dog named Augie.  They are rescue dogs.  And I have two birds, named Herbert and Feisty.   

Do you write every day?

Yes.  Even if I don’t actually write it down, I’m always thinking about the book that I’m working on, and trying to unravel all the tangly bits.  

Writing every day is necessary to keep me from panicking.  It makes me feel more sane than when I don’t write every day. But I do take some days off.  That’s life!  You can say, “Oh, every day I will drink 8 glasses of water!”  But the truth is, some days you just aren’t that thirsty.  The same is true for writing. 

What’s your favourite of your books?

I’m so proud of all of them for different reasons, I could never pick a favourite.  Usually my most favourite is the one I’m working on right now.

What’s your favourite colour?

Green.

Lucky numbers?

3. And 14.  And, of course, 42.

Favourite ice cream?

Coconut


To learn more about this amazing Canadian author visit the following links: 

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

GOODREADS      

TWITTER     

FACEBOOK   

INSTAGRAM       

AMAZON       

CHAPTERS    

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE   

AUDIOBOOK-A-PALOOZA BLOG TOUR, REVIEW & GIVEAWAY 

Welcome to Lauren Carr’s Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour! To celebrate the release of Lauren Carr’s mysteries in audiobook format, we have 14 books from her three series on tour!


To follow the tour and to read reviews, please visit Lauren Carr’s page on iRead Book Tours.

The Mac Faraday Mystery Series:

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

Book Description:
Old loves die hard…and in the worst places.

In Old Loves Die Hard, Lauren Carr continues the rags-to-riches story of Mac Faraday, an underpaid homicide detective who inherits 270 million dollars and an estate on Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, from his birth mother on the day his divorce becomes final.

Mac is settling nicely into his new life at Spencer Manor when his ex-wife Christine shows up-and she wants him back! Before Mac can send her packing, Christine and her estranged lover are murdered in Mac’s private penthouse suite at the Spencer Inn, the five-star resort built by his ancestors.

The investigation leads to the discovery of cases files for some of Mac’s murder cases in the room of the man responsible for destroying his marriage. Why would his ex-wife’s lover come to Spencer to dig into Mac’s old cases?

With the help of his new friends on Deep Creek Lake, Mac must use all of his detective skills to clear his name and the Spencer Inn’s reputation, before its five-stars – and more bodies – start dropping!

MY REVIEW:

I had not read anything by Lauren Carr before listening to OLD LOVES DIE HARD and I have to say that I am now officially a fan. 

Her characters are complex and yet simple, they act like real people rather than characters in a book.

The fact that Mac’s wife cheated on him and then asked for a divorce which then became final on the exact same day that he learned that he was to receive $270 million dollars along with a mansion and a thriving 5 Star Inn, feels like sweet justice.

Mac had been a homicide detective, and he never made much money, but he was good at his job and he loved it. Coming into massive amounts of money, anď quitting his job, he isn’t really sure what to do with his time.

But, ‘Old Habits Die Hard’ and he finds himself once again investigating murders. The difference this time is because of who the victims are as well as where they were killed.

If you choose to purchase this audiobook, and I sincerely hope you do, you will fall in love with Mac Farady (just like I have.)

I rate this book as 4 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

Book Description:

Question: what do you get the man with everything?

Answer: when that man is the heir of the late mystery writer Robin Spencer, retired homicide detective Mac Faraday, you get him a cold case to solve.

In Shades of Murder, Mac Faraday is once again the heir to an unbelievable fortune. This time the benefactor is a collector of stolen art. But this isn’t just any stolen work of art – it’s a masterpiece with a murder attached to it.

Ilysa Ramsay was in the midst of taking the art world by storm with her artistic genius. Hours after unveiling her latest masterpiece, she is found dead in her Deep Creek Lake studio, and her painting is nowhere to be found.

Almost a decade later, the long lost Ilysa Ramsay masterpiece has found its way into Mac Faraday’s hands and he can’t resist the urge to delve into the case.

A world away, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, former JAG lawyer Joshua Thornton agrees to do a favor for the last person he would ever expect – a convicted serial killer.

The favor: solve the one murder wrongly attributed to him.

Joshua finds an unexpected ally in Cameron Gates, a spunky detective who has reason to believe the young woman known to the media only as Jane Doe, victim number four, was the victim of a copycat. Together, Joshua and Cameron set out to light a flame under the cold case only to find that someone behind the scenes wants the case to remain cold, and is willing to kill to keep it that way.

Little do these detectives know that the paths of their respective cases are on a collision course when they follow the clues to bring them together in a showdown with a killer who’s got a talent for murder!

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book





Book Description:


In this fourth mystery on Deep Creek Lake, Mac Faraday finds himself up to his eyeballs in mobsters and federal agents.
After an attempted hit ends badly with two of his men dead, mobster Tommy Cruze arrives in Spencer, Maryland, to personally supervise the execution of the witness responsible for putting him behind bars – Archie Monday!

Mac Faraday believes he has his work cut out for him in protecting his lady love from one of the most dangerous leaders in organized crime; but when bodies start dropping in his lakeshore resort town, things may be hotter than even he can handle.




Buy the Audiobook ~ Book





Book Description:




Never tell Mac Faraday not to do something.

Spencer’s police chief, David O’Callaghan, learns this lesson the hard way when he orders Mac Faraday to stay away from the south end of Spencer’s mountaintop – even though he owns the property. It doesn’t take long for Mac to find out what lies on the other side of the stone wall and locked gate, on which hangs a sign warning visitors to Keep Out!

Topping the list of the 10 top haunted places in America, Astaire Castle is associated with two suicides, three mysterious disappearances, and four murders since it was built almost a century ago – and Mac Faraday owns it!

In spite of David’s warning, Mac can’t resist unlocking the gate to see the castle that supposedly hasn’t seen a living soul since his late mother had ordered it closed up after the double homicide and disappearance of Damian Wagner, a world-famous master of horror novels.

What starts out as a quick tour of a dusty old castle turns into another Mac Faraday adventure when Astaire Castle becomes the scene of even more murders. Mac is going to need to put all of his investigative talents to work to sort out this case that involves the strangest characters he has run into yet – including a wolf man. No, we’re not talking about Gnarly.

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book





Book Description:


Fame comes at a price. Some pay with their privacy. Others pay with their pride. Khloe Everest paid with her life.

Determined to get her pretty face in front of the cameras, Khloe Everest fakes an abduction only to make a grand entrance in the midst of a press conference held by Spencer’s Police Chief David O’Callaghan.

Three years later, after failing to catapult her notoriety into a long-lasting celebrity, Khloe Everest returns to Spencer upon her mother’s sudden death and seemingly finds another weapon to propel herself into the spotlight. Unfortunately, someone kills her before she can make this entrance.

In Lauren Carr’s sixth Mac Faraday Mystery, Mac and his friends come up against reality stars, politicians, has-beens, and wannabes. Mac also finds himself face-to-face with an old foe from his past who had managed to escape arrest during their last encounter. Now, Mac sees that his adversary has only become more powerful, and dangerous, with the passage of time.

Intent to not let this killer escape again, Mac and his friends need to put all of their talents together to put a stop to a cold-blooded lady killer.

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book




Book Description:




Two people are brutally murdered in their summer place on Deep Creek Lake. Suspected of the murders, former child star and one-time teenybopper idol Lenny Frost takes innocent bystanders hostage in a local pub and demands that Mac Faraday find the killer. Can Mac save the hostages and himself from the wrath of the enraged has-been by piecing together the clues in less than twelve hours, or will it be a fatal last call at the stroke of midnight?


Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

Book Description:


With three days left to the year, Deep Creek Lake is hopping with holiday vacationers and wedding guests pouring into the Spencer Inn for Mac Faraday and Archie Monday’s huge wedding ceremony which is being touted as the social event of the year.

But droopy flowers and guests who failed to RSVP are the least of Mac’s and Archie’s problems when a professional hit squad hits Spencer Manor to send the groom, Joshua Thornton, Archie’s mother, and Gnarly running for their lives.

With time running out before the big day, Mac Faraday and Spencer’s small police force have to sort through the clues to figure out not only who has been targeted for assassination, but also who is determined to stop everything…forever!

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

Book Description:


Spring is in the air. In Deep Creek Lake, the burst of blossoms on the trees has the effect of a starting pistol in the race to get the resort area ready in time for the seasonal residents return to Spencer, Maryland.

This year, the Spencer Inn, Mac Faraday’s five-star resort, has the added duty of preparing for the Diablo Ball, an annual benefit event that used to kick off Deep Creek Lake’s summer season. The exclusive gala has drawn in A-listers from across the country, including suspects and witnesses connected to Ashton Piedmont, a young woman who had disappeared while skinny dipping in Deep Creek Lake five years earlier, days after the last Diablo Ball.

Intrigued by a mysterious phone call from a young woman claiming to be Ashton, retired homicide detective Mac Faraday can’t resist diving head first into the cold case. But he’s not the only one. Someone behind the scenes has gone to a lot of trouble to bring Ashton Piedmont’s friends and enemies to the Diablo Ball, which promises to be a gala event to die for!

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

Book Description:


Police Chief David O’Callaghan and Chelsea Adams’ wedding day is fast approaching. Unfortunately, at the last minute, David discovers that there is one small problem to be taken care of before he can walk down the aisle – divorce his first wife!

Lauren Carr takes fans of the Mac Faraday mysteries to the Big Apple in this nail-biting adventure. In Cancelled Vows, David, Mac, and Gnarly, too, rush to New York City to dissolve David’s marriage to an old girlfriend – and he’s got five days to get it done. When murder throws up a road block, it is up to David’s best man, Mac Faraday, and Gnarly, K9-in-waiting, to sort through the clues to get David to the church in time!

The Lovers in Crime Mystery Series:



Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

Book Description:



Spunky Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of Cherry Pickens, a legendary star of pornographic films, whose body turns up in an abandoned freezer. The case has a personal connection to her lover, Joshua Thornton, because the freezer was located in his cousin’s basement. It doesn’t take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué star’s roots were buried in their rural Ohio Valley community, something that Cherry had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept her hometown off her road map, too – because when this starlet came running home from the mob, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

Book Description:


When Homicide Detective Cameron Gates befriends Dolly, the little old lady who lives across the street, she is warned not to get lured into helping the elderly woman by investigating the unsolved murder of one of her girls. “She’s senile,” Cameron is warned. “It’s not a real murder.”

Such is not the case. After Dolly is brutally murdered, Cameron discovers that the sweet blue-haired lady’s “girl” was a call girl who had been killed in a mysterious double homicide.

Meanwhile, Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton is looking for answers to the murder of a childhood friend, a sheriff deputy whose cruiser is found at the bottom of a lake. The deputy had disappeared almost 20 years ago while privately investigating the murder of a local prostitute.

It doesn’t take long for the Lovers in Crime to put their cases together to reveal a long-kept secret that some believe is worth killing to keep undercover.

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

Book Description:


Joshua’s eldest son, Joshua Thornton Jr. (J.J.) has graduated at the top of his class from law school and returns home to spend the summer studying for the bar exam. However, to Joshua’s and Cameron’s shock and dismay, J.J. moves into the main house at Russell Ridge Farm and Orchards, the largest dairy farm in the Ohio Valley, in order to rekindle a romance with Suellen Russell, the one-time leader of a rock band who is twice his age. Quickly, they learn that she has a deep dark secret.

The move brings long buried tensions between the father and son to the surface – not the least of which being J.J.’s inexplicable dislike for his stepmother Cameron. But when a brutal killer strikes, the Lovers in Crime must set all differences with Joshua’s son aside to solve the crime before J.J. ends up in the cross-hairs of a murderer.


 

The Thorny Rose Mystery Series:


Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

Book Description:


Five women with seemingly nothing in common are found brutally murdered in a townhome outside Washington, DC. Among the many questions surrounding the massacre is what had brought these apparent strangers together only to be killed.

Taking on his first official murder case, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, believes that if he can uncover the thread connecting the victims, then he can find their murderer.

Before long, the case takes an unexpected turn when Murphy discovers that one of the victims has a connection to his stepmother, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates. One wintry night, over a dozen years before, her first husband, a Pennsylvania State trooper, had been run down while working a night shift on the turnpike.

In this first installment of the Thorny Rose Mysteries, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday sift through a web of lies and cover-ups. Together, can the detectives uncover the truth without falling victim to a cunning killer?

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

Book Description:


After 10 months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect…except in the middle of the night when, in the darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.

When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family while visiting family at the winery near-by, and suppressed the memory.

Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?


Content Rating:


All of Lauren Carr’s books are rated PG-13 because they are murder mysteries and will contains murder scenes. Some of the books contain violence associated with military assignments. There are some books that contain sex scenes which are not explicit. There is little profanity, no f-words.

 

Meet the Author:



Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband and three dogs (including the real Gnarly’s klutzy nephew Sterling) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

 

Connect with Lauren: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook


Meet the Narrators:

​Over the past several years Dan Lawson has appeared in numerous spots for radio, television and the internet. He has worked with All-State, Sprint PCS, Mountain Dew and many more. His unique ability to mimic existing characters and celebrities has landed him diverse voice match work ranging from Charlie Sheen to Morgan Freeman.

In 2008 Dan was cast as the first American voice actor for the Korean video game company, Nexon. Over the next several years Dan was the flagship voice of the company, appearing in such titles as Mabinogi, Maple Story, Vindictus, Dragon Nest, Dungeon Fighter Online and Atlantica. In total he has voiced nearly 100 characters for Nexon.

In late 2012 Dan’s voice over career took an unexpected turn into book narration. His first audition landed him the job of narrating The Psychology of Twilight, a psychological look at the wide-spread obsession of the Twilight saga created by Stephanie Meyer. Eighteen more audiobook narrations have followed and show no signs of slowing down.

C.J. McAllister is an Audible Approved Producer — “Audible Approved producers are the best audiobook producers in the business.” Only a small number are awarded this honor.

C.J. has produced best-selling audiobooks in multiple genres/styles, TV commercials/promo teasers, animation projects, interviews (TV and radio), corporate presentations.

Another Audible Approved narrator, voice actor James Lewis has established a solid reputation in fiction as well as non-ficton audiobooks. At latest count, he’s narrated nearly 50.

Although his specialty is noir fiction, James has done several non-fiction books as well on a range of people and subjects: Butch and Sundance, General Custer, Revolutionary War, psychic development, taxes.

James Lewis has been awarded the AudioFile Earphone Award for narration, “The Last Outlaws”. It’s about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

A broadcast veteran of over 30 years, Mike Alger is best known as the award-winning Chief Meteorologist for KTVN-TV in Reno, NV. He is also a successful author, having penned the Mystery-Thriller novel “Snow Storm,” and is the narrator of the audiobook of the same name.

Enter the Giveaway!

Ends July 22

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National Jewish Books Award Winner – ON BLACKBERRY HILL by Rachel Mann examines the mother-daughter connection in a unique way. 

Title: ON BLACKBERRY HILL 

Author: RACHEL MANN 

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, JEWISH FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION, INDIE FICTION

Length: 194 PAGES

Publisher: SELF-PUBLISHED

Release Date: 2016

ISBN: 9781535262910

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Awards Won: National Jewish Book Award Winner      


 

Reena has no desire to spend her last summer before high school at her cousin’s Jewish residential summer camp far away from her life in the city. She may be Jewish, but living with her non-practicing father means that she does not feel a deep devotion to her dead mother’s faith.

When her father announces that he is leaving the city for the entire summer, Reena’s fate is sealed. Whether she likes it or not, and she really does NOT, she will be living at the camp in Upstate New York until her father returns. Reena will have her cousin with her at camp, but they barely tolerate each other, so that won’t make much difference.

Twenty years earlier, her mother had attended that same camp, but her mother died when Reena was a baby, so it’s not as if Reena knows anything about Naomi’s time at camp.

This book is written in two different time periods and from two different perspectives. It tells not only the tale of Reena’s time at camp, but also the story of her mother, Naomi’s time at that same camp approximately twenty years earlier.

How do the two stories intertwine? You will need to read this book to find out, and you will not be disappointed.

Rachel Mann has penned a moving story that goes beyond the Jewish faith. Yes, the characters are Jewish, but that is only a small part of who they are. This book won the National Jewish Book Award, but again, the “Jewish” part of that award is only a small part. Rachel Mann won the award on the merit of the story.

I love how Rachel Mann seemlessly transitions between Naomi’s past and Reena’s present. The fact that Naomi died when Reena was just a baby means that Reena knows almost nothing about her mother. Sure, her father mentions her from time to time, but he really doesn’t tell her much and Reena is desperate to find some way to connect with the mother she never knew. Camp Tova just might be that place.

Author Rachel Mann has a bright future ahead. She has a gift for getting to the heart of the story and to create characters with depth.

This multi-generational story depicts how the choices we make can effect the future of not just ourselves, but of our family and friends as well. 

I rate ON BLACKBERRY HILL as 4 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 


Rachel Mann is the author of the young adult novel, ON BLACKBERRY HILL, winner of the 2016 National Jewish Book Award for Young Adult Literature, and the play CLASS MOTHER, nominated for best play at the Winterfest Theater Festival 2016. Her theatrical work has been seen at Forward Theater Company in Madison, WI, Ensemble Studio Theatre’s First Brew, Naked Angels Tuesdays at 9, The PlayGround Experiment, and InViolet Theater in NYC. Her writing has been published and performed at The Forward, Kveller, Liars’ League NYC, Manhattan Lit Crawl, and The Fish Anthology (UK). She graduated from the Novel Studio course at City University London, as well as from Columbia (BA) and NYU (MA). She lives in NYC with her husband and three daughters.

To learn even more about the talented Rachel Mann, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE       

GOODREADS   

TWITTER        

FACEBOOK    

INSTAGRAM       

AMAZON     

JEWISH BOOK COUNCIL    

IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE by Leah Weiss is a beautifully written novel set in the Appalachian Mountains – A MUST READ – PRE-ORDER NOW!!!


Title: IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE
Author: LEAH WEISS

Genre: FICTION

Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS LANDMARK

Release Date: AUGUST 8, 2017

ISBN: 9781492647454

Price: $15.99 USD

Type of Book: ARC from Netgalley 

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This is the debut novel written by LEAH WEISS.

Set in the 1970s high in the Appalachian Mountain range sits a small, secluded community struggling to survive and to live their lives as they see fit.

The inhabitant’s lives are not very different from the lives of their ancestors. Down the mountain, people are embracing new technologies and just about everyone has a car, indoor plumbing and telephones are installed in every home. Not so on the mountain. Outhouses are still in use and the mountain folk have no desire for the intrusion that improvements might bring.

In fact, outsiders are treated with scorn and suspicion. Children are taught in a one-room schoolhouse that in theory sounds quaint and idyllic, but in reality is anything but.

Teachers arrive with the best of intentions, but soon run away with their tails tucked between their legs  when they discover the harsh reality of mountain life. Their leaving could also have something to do with the fact that the last teacher’s home mysteriously caught fire in the middle of the night and burned to the ground.

With character names such as Marris, Gladys, Sadie and Otis Blue, the author creates a sense of living in the past. There are too many characters and too many intertwined storylines to mention them here, but Leah Weiss has crafted a complex but believable and haunting tale that will tug at your heartstrings and make you shake your head in both exasperation and disbelief.

IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE is as harsh and unapologetic as the immovable mountains. Leah Weiss has a gift for character building and the people who live on the mountain come alive on every page. Even the way the characters talk comes through as raw and authentic. For example, Sadie’s grandmother Gladys says, “From the start there’s been a film of dingy on my days. I’ve always done woman’s work; man’s work, too. Woke up with work to do, went to bed before it got done … I been chained to an iron life.”

My favourite line in the book was when Gladys says that her friend is as annoying and clingy as chickenshit on shoes.

I rate IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE as 5 out of 5 stars and predict that we will see this book at the top of the Bestseller lists as soon as it is released.  🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


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


MY FAVOURITE QUOTES:


“Only got the clothes on her back and a backbone that won’t bend.”


“Ugly talk follows Roy like fleas on a mangy dog. He’s a spiteful, small-minded man who drinks hard and plays for keeps.”   


“Truth always hurts and it’s extra hard to look at late in life.”


“She’s got lessons to learn, and life’s one bugger of a teacher.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
(In her own words – copied from her website)

Leah Weiss’s roots are deep, simple and southern. 

They started where my mama Lucy was born on a tobacco farm in the flatlands of eastern North Carolina. She was one of fifteen siblings raised without electricity or indoor plumbing. My daddy, a Marine from Cherry Point, saw my mama a handful of times. Then he married her on her eighteenth birthday in 1944. They settled near her family where my sister and I were born in a farming town, where neighborhoods were divided by train tracks and held together by church and traditions.Just about everybody we knew was kin.

When I was ten, we left Carolina and moved to Virginia when my grandpop died. We moved in with Nana, and on the empty lot next door my parents built us a four-room home, sawing, hammering and painting. They were self-sufficient and hardworking people with humble dreams.

In my childhood days, I fell in love with Nancy Drew mystery books. Every spare moment was spent between the covers of those blue books solving crimes and thinking that could be me. If my name was Nancy. If I had a roadster. If I was five years older. I have nineteen of those early Nancy Drew books on my bookshelf. They hooked me on the pull of imagination.

But my world wasn’t Nancy Drew’s world. I took piano lessons that led to a scholarship that took me to Dunbarton College in Washington DC in the second half of the turbulent sixties. Our Nation’s Capital was in chaos over Vietnam, racial strife and women’s equality. Marches and sit-ins were the norm in that time of unrest. A year after college, I married, had a son, taught music, and wrote articles for a magazine. Two decades later, I divorced then took the job of executive assistant to the Headmaster at Virginia Episcopal School that lasted my next twenty-four years.

In those years, I wrote memoirs and fiction whose rules weren’t always clear. I attended writing conferences and workshops, haunted bookstores and studied my favorite authors. I cut my writing teeth on a novel that didn’t sell and a string of short stories that did. Eventually, I found.my writing voice. No surprise, it’s southern and musical and best when read aloud. It is always about people who are self-sufficient and hard working with humble dreams.

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