SAVAGE APPETITES: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession by Author and Journalist Rachel Monroe will enthrall readers!

Title: SAVAGE APPETITES

Subtitle: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession

Author: RACHEL MONROE

Genre: TRUE CRIME, NON-FICTION

Length: 272 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER CANADA – SCRIBNER

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: AUGUST 20, 2019

ISBN: 9781501188909

Price: $11.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A provocative and original investigation of our cultural fascination with crime, linking four archetypes—Detective, Victim, Defender, Killer—to four true stories about women driven by obsession.

In this illuminating exploration of women, violence, and obsession, Rachel Monroe interrogates the appeal of true crime through four narratives of fixation. In the 1940s, a frustrated heiress began creating dollhouse crime scenes depicting murders, suicides, and accidental deaths. Known as the “Mother of Forensic Science,” she revolutionized the field of what was then called legal medicine. In the aftermath of the Manson Family murders, a young woman moved into Sharon Tate’s guesthouse and, over the next two decades, entwined herself with the Tate family. In the mid-nineties, a landscape architect in Brooklyn fell in love with a convicted murderer, the supposed ringleader of the West Memphis Three, through an intense series of letters. After they married, she devoted her life to getting him freed from death row. And in 2015, a teenager deeply involved in the online fandom for the Columbine killers planned a mass shooting of her own.

Each woman, Monroe argues, represents and identifies with a particular archetype that provides an entryway into true crime. Through these four cases, she traces the history of American crime through the growth of forensic science, the evolving role of victims, the Satanic Panic, the rise of online detectives, and the long shadow of the Columbine shooting. In a combination of personal narrative, reportage, and a sociological examination of violence and media in the twentieth and twenty-first century, Savage Appetites scrupulously explores empathy, justice, and the persistent appeal of violence.

MY REVIEW:

Rachel Monroe is a woman after my own heart. As she described her visit to the premiere True Crime Conference called CrimeCon in 2018, I was green with envy. Living outside the city of Toronto, Ontario in Canada, there was just no feasible way for me to attend such an event, especially since it takes place quite a distance from my home.

Rachel Monroe has taken it upon herself to dig into the “why” of the appeal of True Crime to women and to explore the possible reasons.

Any female of my generation (I am 47) who are interested in this subject probably grew up reading Nancy Drew and maybe even The Hardy Boys. Rachel states that: “This detective impulse first burbled up in [her] early, say around age eight.” Reading these words, I wanted to shout out loud, “Me too!”

The book focuses on four very different women, from different times, but, who all had an interest in crime and murder. Their reasons are as varied as possible, yet they are all tied together by the singular theme of True Crime.

I couldn’t believe I had never heard of France’s Glessner Lee. Sure, she was a child of the 1890s, and grew up “… Living in a mansion on Chicago’s ‘Millionaire’s Row.” But still, she was a role model for other women in adulthood and smashed through gender barriers that would have seemed impenetrable to other women of her time. I am impressed and glad that I now know about her. Thank you Rachel Monroe!

The author talks about the Manson murders which have been excessively covered, and yet the way she presents this crime is less about Manson, and more about how the crime changed so many things and so many people.

She speaks about the murder of Taylor Behl in 2005 which happened in her town. Rachel says “Part of what I was looking for, I realized, was overlap, all the ways she and I were similar. There was a troubling pleasure in thinking about how I could have been her, or she could have been me… It felt good, in a bad way, to think about my own proximity to violence. To imagine my life as a near miss.”

Rachel also addresses a phenomenon that has always perplexed me – that of women who “date” and/or marry men serving life sentences in prison. This section is a must read.

I even learned a new word:

HYBRISTOPHOLIA – the attraction to someone who has committed murder.

I never knew there was a word for it, but, in this day and age, I should not have been surprised.

All in all, Author Rachel Monroe has gone deep down many rabbit holes in her research for this book. She extensively studied so many factors that it is amazing she was able to whittle them down into a cohesive and compelling whole.

I rate SAVAGE APPETITES as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐ and because of it’s subject matter, I forsee it becoming a book that is widely read. Perhaps she will have her own following at CrimeCon 2020.
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*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photograph by Emma Rogers

Rachel Monroe is a writer and volunteer firefighter living in Marfa, Texas.

Her work has appeared in The Best American Travel Writing 2018, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

AUDIBLE

FACEBOOK – PUBLISHER

INSTAGRAM – AUTHOR

INSTAGRAM – PUBLISHER

TWITTER – AUTHOR

TWITTER – PUBLISHER

YOUTUBE – PUBLISHER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

WARNINGSPOILERS AHEADSTOP READING THIS POST NOW IF YOU DO NOT WANT ANY EXTRA INFORMATION ABOUT THIS BOOK!!!

SUBJECT # 1 OF SAVAGE APPETITES is FRANCIS GLESSNER LEE.

The following is copied from a 2017 Washington Post article written by Sadie Dingfelder

Frances Glessner Lee trained homicide detectives with her miniature murder scenes. Scroll down to try your hand at one.

At first glance, the grisly dioramas made by Frances Glessner Lee look like the creations of a disturbed child.

A doll hangs from a noose, one shoe dangling off of her
stockinged foot.
Precise down to the smallest detail.

Another doll rests in a bathtub, apparently drowned.

A third lies in bed peacefully … except for her blood-splattered head.

There’s no need to call a psychiatrist, though — Lee created these works in the 1940s and ’50s as training tools for homicide investigators. 19 of the dollhouse-size crime scenes are on display in the Renwick Gallery exhibit “Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.”

Lee, who died in 1962, called her miniatures “nutshell studies” because the job of homicide investigators, according to a phrase she had picked up from detectives, is to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent and find the truth in a nutshell.”

“She became the first female police captain in the country, and she was regarded as an expert in the field of homicide investigation,” exhibit curator Nora Atkinson says.

When Lee was building her macabre miniatures, she was a wealthy heiress and grandmother in New Hampshire who had spent decades reading medical textbooks and attending autopsies. Police departments brought her in to consult on difficult cases, and she also taught forensic science seminars at Harvard Medical School, Atkinson says. Lee painstakingly constructed the dioramas for her seminars, basing them on real-life cases but altering details to protect the victims’ privacy.

“She was very particular about exactly how dolls ought to appear to express social status and the way [the victims] died,” Atkinson says.

“If a doll has a specific discoloration, it’s scientifically accurate — she’s reproducing the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and positioning them based on when rigor mortis took effect.”

Tiny details in the scenes matter too. For example, fibers on one doll’s wounds match those on a nearby door frame.

At the Renwick exhibit, visitors will be given magnifying glasses and flashlights to conduct their own homicide investigations, but don’t ask museum staff for help — the scenes are still used in annual training seminars, so their secrets are closely guarded.

TRY TO DEDUCE WHAT HAPPENED IN THE 11 ITEMS POINTED OUT BELOW …

Frances Glessner Lee built the miniature rooms pictured here, which together make up her piece “Three-Room Dwelling,” around 1944-46. This is a puzzling case – – – – A beautiful woman lays shot to death in her bed, her clean-cut, pajama-clad husband lies next to the bed, also fatally shot.
– Their baby was shot as she slept in her crib.
– Blood is spattered everywhere. -All the doors are locked from the inside, meaning the case is likely a double homicide/suicide.
– But something isn’t right. The murder weapon is nowhere near the doll corpses – instead the gun is in another room???

1. Lee used red nail polish to make pools and splatters of blood.

What details can you discover?

2. Lee crocheted this tiny teddy bear herself, so that future investigators might wonder how it landed in the middle of the floor.

3. The pattern on the floor of this room has faded over time, making the spent shotgun shell easier to find.

4. Lee knit this runner and sewed the toy chairs on it in this exact state of disarray.

5. The bedroom window is open. Could it be a sign of forced entry?

6. Lee would paint charms from bracelets to create some prop items. Others she bought from dollhouse manufacturers.

7. The table settings are sewn into place to indicate an orderly, prosperous family.

8. There’s one big clue in clear view in this room

9. Lee sewed the clothes worn by her figurines, selecting fabrics that signified their social status and state of mind. In some cases, she even tailor-made underwear for them.

10. The doll heads and arms were antique German porcelain doll parts that were commercially available. Lee would create the bodies herself, often with lead shot in them.

11. How did blood end up all the way over here?

Renwick Gallery, 1661 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE SOLUTION IS?

Leave your guess in the comments and I will come back and discuss it with you. In your comments post any clues or abnormalities in the scenes that you find.

A FEW MORE PICTURES OF THE “NUTSHELL” MINIATURE CRIME SCENES:

Every element of the dioramas—from the angle of miniscule bullet holes, the placement of latches on widows, the patterns of blood splatters, and the discoloration of painstakingly painted miniature corpses—challenges trainees’ powers of observation and deduction. The Nutshells are so effective that they are still used in training seminars today at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore.

Showcasing the Nutshells at the Renwick allows visitors to appreciate them as works of art and material culture in addition to understanding their importance as forensic tools, and to see Lee’s genius for telling complex stories through the expressive potential of simple materials. While the Nutshells represent composites of real and extremely challenging cases featuring homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths, Lee imagined and designed each setting herself. She was both exacting and highly creative in her pursuit of detail—knitting tiny stocking by hand with straight pins, hand-rolling tiny tobacco-filled cigarettes and burning the ends, writing tiny letters with a single-hair paintbrush, and creating working locks for windows and doors.

The exhibition also highlights the subtly subversive quality of Lee’s work, especially the way her dioramas challenge the association of femininity with domestic bliss and upend the expected uses for miniature making, sewing, an other crafts considered to be “women’s work.” Also evident is her purposeful focus on society’s “invisible victims,” whose cases she championed. Lee was devoted to the search for truth and justice for everyone, and she often featured victims such as women, the poor, and and people living on the fringes of society, whose cases might be overlooked or tainted with prejudice on the part of the investigator. She wanted trainees to recognize and overcome any unconscious biases and to treat each case with rigor, regardless of the victim.

As the Nutshells are still active training tools, the solutions to each remain secret. However, the crime scene “reports” (written by Lee to accompany each case) given to forensic trainees are presented alongside each diorama to encourage visitors to approach the Nutshells the way an investigator would.

Nutshell “Kitchen” Picture # 1
Nutshell “Kitchen” Picture # 2 Even the curtains perfectly match the original crime scene
Nutshell “Kitchen” Picture # 3 The tiny rolling pin, the clock on the window sill and even miniature tea towels hang in this precise representation of the original scene

Dioramas or “Nutshells” as the creator of them referred to them, photographs were obtained from the website of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Want to learn more about Frances Glessner Lee?

Here is a preview of the original documentary

Watch this documentary “OF DOLLS AND MURDER” when you have a spare hour

This documentary was followed by another with newly discovered material called MURDER IN A NUTSHELL

THE MURDER OF TAYLOR BEHL

Taylor Behl was a 17-year-old freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, left her dormitory room Sept. 5, 2005 to give her roommate some privacy with her boyfriend. She took with her a cell phone, some cash, a student ID and her car keys. She was never seen alive again.


To learn more about the murder of Taylor Behl, click HERE.

Photograph Obtained from Taylor Behl’s Memorial Page

THE GOOD HAWK by Author JOSEPH ELLIOTT is now Available. I challenge everyone to read this Dystopian novel. You just might find a hidden message inside

Title: THE GOOD HAWK

Series: SHADOW SKYE – BOOK ONE

Author: JOSEPH ELLIOTT

Genre: FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, DIVERSE FICTION, DISABILITIES, LGBTQ, MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

Length: 358 PAGES

Publisher: CANDLEWICK PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JANUARY 21, 2020

ISBN: 9781536207187

Price: $17.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Agatha is a Hawk, brave and fierce, who protects her people by patrolling the high walls of their island home. She is proud of her job, though some in her clan whisper that it is meant to keep her out of the way because of the condition she was born with.Jaime, thoughtful and anxious, is an Angler, but he hates the sea. Worse, he’s been chosen for a duty that the clan hasn’t required for generations: to marry. The elders won’t say why they have promised him to a girl in a neighboring clan, but there are rumors of approaching danger.When disaster strikes and the clan is kidnapped, it is up to Agatha and Jaime to travel across the haunted mainland of Scotia to Norveg, with help along the way from a clan of nomadic Highland bull riders and the many animals who are drawn to Agatha’s extraordinary gift of communication. Thrilling and dark yet rich with humor and compassion, this is the first book in the Shadow Skye trilogy, written by a wonderful new voice in fantasy and introducing a welcome new kind of hero.
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MY REVIEW:

What a rare gem is THE GOOD HAWK. The two protagonists are unlikely heroes. They know they have face their fears and use any and all gifts they may have to survive in this unique work of Dystopian Fiction.

Agatha has Down Syndrome (in the book there is no official diagnosis, but it is obvious to informed readers.) When was the last time you read a book, or even a short story, where the protagonist is a person with a “DisABILITY?”

Kudos to Author Joseph Elliott for challenging stereotypes and showcasing the fact that people are just people, and that everyone is different and every individual has a variety of things to offer the world.

This book is set in a world that is vaguely medieval and definitely dystopian. Agatha lives with her tribe in an enclave on an island reminiscent of those off the coast of Scotland.  Even though Agatha has been assigned to be a “Hawk”, which is an important position in the tribal hierarchy, there are still many people who treat her with contempt and loathing because she is not like everyone else. The author does a terrific job depicting the discrimination Agatha faces on a daily basis.

Jamie is a young man who has recently been told that his permanent profession is to be an Angler. To say he is disappointed is an understatement. He does not like boats and has no interest in catching fish, but he has no choice. He will do what the Elders tell him, just like every other tribe member.

To add insult to injury, Jamie has also been told that he is to be married to a member of another tribe. He is horrified. No one in the tribe is married. They believe marriage is an archaic and unnecessary institution.

When their tribe is threatened, it is up to Agatha and Jamie to save them, but they are only two people, and young people at that. The task in front of them is momentous, it is daunting, and it would be much easier to just give up.

So, what do they do? How do they even begin? You will need to read the book to find out.

The action is unrelenting, and the surprises are continuous.

Agatha turns out to be special in many ways, and Jamie will confront not only physical dangers, he will also meet other people and other tribes and ultimately come to realize that many of the ideas and attitudes he has been taught since childhood are discriminatory. He will have to decide what he believes deep in his heart.

I read this book over a two day period and enjoyed every minute of it. This story will touch readers and will hopefully open their eyes to the fact that just because someone is “different” does not mean they are ‘lesser than.’

Yes, there are quite a few lessons to be learned from reading this book, but it is also a fantastic story that grabs the reader’s attention from the very first chapter. The characters are brilliantly depicted and the world is one which our world could easily become.

I am excited that the second book in the series is already being written and I will be eagerly awaiting it’s publication.
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TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DOWN SYNDROME VISIT THE FOLLOWING LINK:
http://www.dsrf.org

Click HERE to download the Winter 2020 Down Syndrome Magazine FREE.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo Credit: PHIL SHARP

Joseph Elliott is a writer, teacher, and actor known for his work in children’s television. The Good Hawk is his first book. He lives in London.

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

GOODREADS  

GOOGLE BOOKS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON  

CHAPTERS

KIRKUS REVIEWS  

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE – CANDLEWICK PRESS

SPOTLIGHT

@WalkerBooksUK
#TheGoodHawk #NetGalley
#downsyndrome #debutnovel
#debutauthor #authorsofig #writersofig #roaring20sdebut #bookstagram #fantasy #map #mglit #yalit #yafantasy #books #booksofig #instabooks #readersofinstagram #childrensbooks #illustration #art #africkinmap #SkyeTrilogy #LeaveNoOneBehind @downs_syndrome_association
@walkerbooksuk @walkerbooksya

COVER REVEAL of TO PLANT A SINGLE SEED by Kelsey Ketch – YA Book

TITLE: TO PLANT A SINGLE SEED

AUTHOR: KELSEY KETCH

Summary:

“Each of us has a seed of our own, each as diverse as the person that carries it.”

Raised in an isolated world of strict rules, one young woman questions what is the purpose of the seed she carries in the palm of her hand. What is its purpose in a world that already seems perfect and is basically untouchable? Railing against her society, she decides to travel toward the distant tree line to discover her purpose.

About the Author:


Kelsey Ketch is a young-adult/new-adult author, who works as a Wildlife Biologist in the state of North Carolina. During her free time, she can often be found working on her latest work in progress or organizing the New Adult Scavenger Hunt, a biannual blog hop. She also enjoys history, mythology, traveling, and reading.


For more information, please visit her site at kelseyketch.com

Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram

FRAGILE REMEDY by Maria Ingrande Mora is an upcoming 2020 Young Adult Dystopian Fiction novel with LGBTQ characters and written by a Queer Author. It is a 5 STAR Read that I was unable to put down.

Title: FRAGILE REMEDY

Author: MARIA INGRANDE MORA

Genre: FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, LGBTQ, QUEER YOUNG ADULT FICTION, DYSTOPIAN FICTION,  SPECULATIVE FICTION

Length: 400 PAGES

Publisher: FLUX BOOKS – A Division of  NORTHSTAR EDITIONS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JUNE 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63583-057-6 (EBOOK)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Sixteen-year-old Nate is a Gem—a Genetically Engineered Medical Surrogate—created by Gathos City scientists as a cure for the elite from the fatal lung rot ravaging the population. As a child, Nate was smuggled out of the laboratory where he was held captive and into the Withers—a quarantined, lawless region. He manages to survive by becoming a Tinker, fixing broken tech in exchange for food or a safe place to sleep. When he meets Reed, a kind and fiercely protective boy that makes his heart race, and his misfit gang of scavengers, Nate finds the family he’s always longed for—even if he can’t risk telling them what he is.

But Gathos created a genetic failsafe in their Gems—a flaw in their DNA that causes their health to rapidly deteriorate as they age unless they are regularly dosed with medication controlled by Gathos City. When violence erupts across the Withers, Nate’s illegal supply of medicine is cut off, and a vicious attack on Reed threatens to expose his secret. With time running out, Nate is left with only two options: work for a shadowy terrorist organization that has the means to keep him alive, or stay—and die—with the boy he loves.
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MY REVIEW:

“His kind had been developed by scientists to fight the lung-rot outbreak, and later — when the lung-rot was gone — to be used up. Harvested by the wealthy. Kept endlessly asleep or left awake to participate in the horror of it. At least that’s what people said when they whispered about GEMs…Genetically Engineered Medi-tissue. He wasn’t supposed to be here.”

Nate is sixteen and an abomination. At least, that is what he had been told. He knew he wasn’t like everyone else in the Withers. He was starving and scraping together a meager existence, just like everyone else who had the bad luck to live in The Withers – a slum filled with people who would not hesitate to kill you for food, or for anything they could use to trade for Chem to feed their addiction.

Nate knew that if the members of his gang discovered he was a GEM, they would either kill him for putting their lives in danger, or they would turn him over to the Breakers – never to be seen again. He didn’t want to put his friend’s lives in danger, especially Reed’s, but he loved being a gang member, they were the closest thing he had to a family. And, although he had never admitted it out loud, he not only loved Reed, he was also IN LOVE with him.

Just surviving the streets of The Withers was challenge enough, but Nate had another problem, his genetically engineered DNA (and that of all GEMs) had been modified so that his body would deteriorate and he would perish before ever reaching adulthood. He needed to find a way to survive, and he knew it would not be easy.

The world-building in FRAGILE REMEDY is second to none. With vivid descriptions of the slums known as The Withers so descriptive it is impossible not to form pictures of it in your mind. I love the fact that the world in which Nate lives is comprised of islands, and instead of water separating each island, and each social class, from the other, there is a vast ocean of toxic sludge which is fatal once submersed in it.

There are numerous parallels between our own society and the issues planet Earth is currently experiencing to the world of FRAGILE REMEDY. For example:

The society in FRAGILE REMEDY is segregated between the ‘Haves’ and the ‘Have Nots.’  The high class citizens live in the Towers of Gathos City and never leave their perfect lives to see how anyone else lives. It is these people who create and keep GEMs so that they can extend their own lives by using the GEMs blood and body parts. This may sound far fetched, but cloning already exists, and stem cells are already being used in medical treatments. Is it really so unbelievable that in humanity’s quest to extend human lives, something like creating a clone for the purpose of using ‘it’ as a personal organ bank may be inevitable.

Of course, it would be expensive to create a clone, so only the uber-rich would be able to afford such a luxury, thus creating another socioeconomic division amongst the world’s population.

Once the clones are created, the rich clone owners would want to protect their assets. This could easily lead to physical segregation similar to that of the islands on which Nate has spent the entirety of his sixteen years of life.

ADDICTION is another of the central themes of FRAGILE REMEDY. Instead of being addicted to alcohol or opiods, the addicts in this story are fiends for a substance known as Chem. “They’d all been regular people once. People who’d made choices – good and bad. Chem had wrenched those choices out of their hands.”

Another theme is HOPE. In FRAGILE REMEDY, Nate may not have many possessions, and he is aware that he will die sooner rather than later, but he still has hope. He hopes that he can do some good before he dies. He hopes that Reed feels the same way about Nate as Nate feels about Reed. And in a wider sense, the inhabitants of The Withers scrounge a meager living on a daily basis, but they still have hope that at some point, the doors to Gathos City will open to admit them.

I love the fact that the characters in this story are diverse and multi-faceted. Sparks is Trans, Nate is Gay, Alden is Queer, and other characters are Cisgender. Skin color is so rarely mentioned that I chose to believe that it was not a factor in their society.

Central to the story and to life in both Gathos City and in The Withers is the ethics of cloning as well as the question of what it is that truly makes a person human. With the increasingly complex technology and the numerous companies and laboratories working on the advancement of A.I. (Artificial Intelligence,)

There are plots and subplots, there are individual histories for each character, there is the storyline where  their lives intersect. There are romances and romantic entanglements that will satisfy even the most diehard romantic. And, finally, there is the theme of Family, and the fact that sometimes the people you choose to invest your emotions in make a more loyal family than those who share your DNA.

I started reading  this book yesterday morning and was unable (and unwilling) to put it down. I spent twelve straight hours reading FRAGILE REMEDY and they were hours well spent.

There is only one rating I would even consider giving to this book and that is the best possible one. So, I rate FRAGILE REMEDY as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and am sincerely hoping that author MARIA INGRANDE MORA is planning to write additional books in this series. I will be first in line to grab a copy of any book she writes.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book ***
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FAVORITE QUOTES:

“He [Nate] longed for the simplicity of believing in something good. He’d seen too much of the bad to have faith.”
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“He had no right to love Reed. But the soft, private smile on Reed’s lips when their eyes met still sent a current of affection through him.”
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“Nate approached slowly, the way hungry kids stalked sludge-rats.”
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“‘They’ll make him sleep like they do in Gathos City.’ His voice went ragged. ‘They’ll cut him apart. What were you thinking coming here?'”
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“I feel the need to remind you that my grandmother also believed that the cockroaches in her bedroom were trying to get a look at her knickers.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Maria Ingrande Mora (she/her) is Content Director at Big Sea, a digital marketing agency in St. Petersburg, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida, she has been working in digital media since 2002. Maria specializes in identifying brand narratives and translating them into messaging that doesn’t feel like marketing.

Maria is the single mom of a tween and a teen, and the roomate of two cats and two dogs.

She identifies as bisexual, and hopes that it isn’t super weird of her to outright say, because representation and visibility matter.

If she isn’t writing, revising, or at work, please tell her to go to bed.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://www.mariamora.net

GOODREADS  

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON  

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE
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https://t.co/Av9RMbehc8
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THE QUEST by Lara Kellett-Smith is Young Adult Fantasy Fiction at it’s Very Best

Title: THE QUEST

Series: FIRST SNOW – BOOK ONE

Author: LARA KELLETT-SMITH

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

Length: 392 PAGES

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: DECEMBER 30, 2018

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Hashtag tricked.

Hashtag coerced.

Hashtag there are no hashtags here…wherever here is.

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

Suitable for ages 13+

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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

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

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

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.larakellettsmith.com

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

PICTOSEE

AMAZON

HYPEHUB

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HOW IT ALL BEGAN:

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

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

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CAST OF CHARACTERS:

THE EARTHENS:

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

Lord Robert Clayworth: Jemma’s stepfather.

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

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

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

Yash: Jemma, Grace and Ben’s friend.

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

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

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

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

Henry: Friend of Charles.

THE LOST VALLEY LOUKYN CLAN:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bronwen Allan: (20) Betrothed to Amos Norling.

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

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

Shaun Allan: (2 ½ )

Edwyn Killin: Clara Allan’s father.

Nora Killin: Clara Allan’s mother.

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

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

Dena Killin: Wife to Anders.

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

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

Gwyn Karloff (mother)

Landon Karloff: (19)

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

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

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

Doctor Falk: Local doctor.

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph: Farmer and neighbour to the Reistads/Allans.

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

Garth: (19) Landon’s friend.

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

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

Reanna Evans: (16)

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

Idelle Evans: (14)

THE AIKYN TRIBE:

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

Darina Orel: (mother)

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

Kristina Alexeev: (18)

THE WHYTIE TRIBE

THE EQUOSKYN TRIBE

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

THE YENTI:

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

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

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

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

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

Halvard: ourskyn – Chief of the Yenti guard.

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

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

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

Only two days until the release of THE GRACE YEAR by KIM LIGGETT – One of the best books of 2019 and one you do not want to miss

Title: THE GRACE YEAR

Author: KIM LIGGETT

Genre: FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, SPECULATIVE FICTION, DYSTOPIAN FICTION, FEMINIST FICTION

Length: 416 PAGES

Publisher: ST. MARTIN’S PRESSWEDNESDAY BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 8, 2019

ISBN: 9781250145444

Price: $16.99 USD

Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden. Girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for their chance to grab one of the girls in order to make their fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

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ELIZABETH BANKS TO DIRECT AND PRODUCE THE GRACE YEAR FOR UNIVERSAL PICTURES.

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MY REVIEW:

I just finished reading Kim Liggett’s upcoming novel THE GRACE YEAR which releases in only two days and it has quickly become one of my favorite books of all time.

A mixture of several styles of books including Dystopian fiction, horror, speculative fiction, literary fiction, mysteries, thrillers, dramas and feminist fiction, this book is all-around phenomenal. Reminiscent of a mixture of The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, Lord of the Flies and Gathering Blue.

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READ THE KIRKUS REVIEW OF THE GRACE YEAR BY CLICKING HERE!!!
***

Magic, lies, deception, discrimination, madness, despair and the tiniest flutterings of rebellion abound in this exceptional work of Speculative fiction perfect for our current generation of young women.

Set in a future world where women are the possessions of men. At birth, their feet are branded with the sigil of their fathers. They remain in his possession until the day when a man gives them a veil, signifying the transfer of ownership from father to their betrothed and eventual husband. The women have no choice. They cannot say no. If there are more women than men, the extra women are sent to work in the necessary and difficult menial labor of ensuring the survival of the entire colony.

Sounds horrific already, right? Well, as usually occurs in life, it gets worse. This is due to the ritual of The Grace Year. Every year, the girls who turn sixteen years old are sent out into the wild for a full year. Not all of those who leave the colony will return. The dangers are numerous and since speaking of The Grace Year is forbidden, the girls know almost nothing of the situations they are about to encounter.

Sixteen year old Tierney James is not like the rest of the girls her age who titter and smile coyly at the village’s young men in hopes of receiving a veil from one of them. Tierney has zero desire to be a wife. As she sees it, “There’s no freedom in comfort. They’re padded shackles, to be sure, but shackles nonetheless.”

Tierney dreams of a better life. A better world. One in which the women are free to speak their minds. She hopes for the women to come together and to work together to make everyone’s lives better. Unfortunately, this is exceedingly unlikely.

What the girls experience during their Grace Year changes each and every one of them in different ways, and author Kim Liggett has done a fabulous job of getting into the minds of her characters. I literally could not put this book down. At 416 pages, it should have taken at least a few days to read, but I couldn’t wait that long and finished the book within eighteen hours. Eighteen hours where I chose to forgo sleep and I do not regret a single second. My only complaint is that I wish the next book in the series was available already. If so, I would willingly give up sleep once more just to discover what happens next.

I believe this book will be on everyone’s reading list and that Bestseller status will be bestowed upon it very quickly. Books are rated on a scale of one to five stars, with five being the best. However, this book is deserving of more than just five stars. In fact, I am bestowing upon it my highest, most coveted rating: I rate THE GRACE YEAR as 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

At sixteen, Kim Liggett left her rural midwestern town for New York City to pursue a career in music. Along with lending her voice to hundreds of studio recordings, she was a backup singer for some of the biggest rock bands in the 80’s.

Kim spends her free time studying the tarot and scouring Manhattan for vials of rare perfume and the perfect egg white cocktail.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.kimliggett.com

GOODREADS – AUTHOR

GOODREADS – ST. MARTIN’S PRESS

FACEBOOK – AUTHOR

FACEBOOK – ST. MARTIN’S PRESS

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INSTAGRAM – AUTHOR

INSTAGRAM – PUBLISHER – ST. MARTIN’S PRESS

INSTAGRAM – WEDNESDAY BOOKS

PINTEREST

TWITTER – AUTHOR

TWITTER – PUBLISHER – WEDNESDAY BOOKS

TWITTER – MACMILLAN PUBLISHERS

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TALES FROM BEHIND THE WINDOW by Author/Artist EDANUR KUNTMAN is a feast for the eyes and the Soul – AVAILABLE NOW!!!

Title: TALES FROM BEHIND THE WINDOW

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Author/Illustrator: EDANUR KUNTMAN
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Genre: BASED ON A TRUE STORY, GRAPHIC NOVEL, FICTION, WOMEN’S ISSUES, HISTORY

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Length: 168 PAGES

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Publisher: EUROPE COMICS
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Received From: NETGALLEY
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Release Date: AUGUST 14, 2019

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ISBN: 9791032809136

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Price: $10.99 USD (eBook)

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Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Tales from behind the Window” is based on memories of an Anatolian grandmother and women she knew who suffered from male dominance over their lives. Writer and illustrator Edanur Kuntman seeks a unique way to express and give voice to women in her grandmother’s memories and in our reality who were not able to reconcile their inner emotional depth with their rural worlds in Northern Turkey. One long and two short stories included in this book revolve around terrifying emotional burdens such as forced marriages, being betrayed by patriarchs, and lost love, which have haunted and still haunt many in rural Anatolia.

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MY REVIEW:

This graphic novel tells the true stories of three women from the author’s family. Although this book is categorized as fiction, it is based on interviews have the author’s grandmother.

This type of book is important because if we remember the past and the many injustices faced by women, we give them a voice. Those voices remind us of how far society has come and how far we still have to go.

Using the medium of a graphic novel, the author is able to convey emotions much more powerfully than if she had only described them in words.

The use of darker colors and austere illustrations, readers easily see the difference between the vibrant colors of the female illustrations and the grim male based illustrations. This is brilliantly rendered.

I rate TALES FROM BEHIND THE WINDOW as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

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***** THE AUTHOR ALSO CREATED an Animated TV Spot created for Down Turkey together with Koff Animation. The goal was to remind people that Down Syndrome is not a disease and people diagnosed with Down Syndrome are capable of working just like the rest of the society. In this project she worked as a character artist and animator.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Edanur Kuntman is an up-and-coming Turkish artist who has been working in animation, illustration, and game design, as well as taking on publishing projects, and has a degree in political science.

She is currently based in Brooklyn, New York, as a visual and game designer.

She is the author of the graphic novel Tales From Behind The Window (Akan Ajans/Marmara Cizgi; Europe Comics in English).

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
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LINKEDIN
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BĒHANCE
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GOODREADS
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INSTAGRAM
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TWITTER
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COMIXOLOGY
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AMAZON
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GOOGLE BOOKS
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CHAPTERS
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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE
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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Europe Comics is a joint digital initiative run by 13 European comics industry players from 8 European countries. Its main purpose is the creation of a pan-European catalog of award-winning graphic novels from across the continent, published digitally in English and available through major retailers and library networks. Europe Comics also works towards the promotion of European authors and the creation of a European comics online directory, meant for both comics readers and professionals.

To find out more about Europe Comics, Visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
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GOODREADS
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TWITTER
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FACEBOOK
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PINTEREST

More Illustrations By The Super-Talented Edanur Kuntman

THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER is the first book in the worldwide phenomenon that is The Shamer Chronicles and it is being released soon – this is a series that YOU CANNOT MISS.

Title: THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER

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Series: THE SHAMER CHRONICLES – BOOK ONE

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Author: LEME KAABERBØL

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Genre: FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY

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Length: 240 PAGES

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Publisher: PUSHKIN CHILDREN’S PRESS

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Received From: NETGALLEY

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Release Date: SEPTEMBER 10, 2019

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ISBN: 978-1-78269-225-6

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Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

The first step into the thrilling middlegrade fantasy world of The Shamer Chronicles

Dina has unwillingly inherited her mother’s gift: the ability to elicit shamed confessions simply by looking into someone’s eyes. To Dina, however, these powers are not a gift but a curse. Surrounded by fear and hostility, she longs for simple friendship.

But when her mother is called to Dunark Castle to uncover the truth about a bloody triple murder, Dina must come to terms with her power – or let her mother fall prey to the vicious and revolting dragons of Dunark.

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MY REVIEW:

“Birches is not a big Town, but we do have a smithy, an inn, and the mill … not to mention eleven different houses and farms of varying sizes… In almost all the houses were families, and almost all of the families had children, some as many as eight or ten. You would think, with so many to choose from, that it would be possible for me to find a friend or two, or at least some playmates. But no. Not me. Not the Shamer’s daughter. Two years ago I could still sometimes play with Sasia from the inn. But then it became more and more difficult for her to look me in the eyes, and after that, things became kind of difficult. Now she avoided me completely, just like everyone else.”

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Dina wants to be like everyone else. However, try as she might, it is impossible for people to treat her normally. She has Shamer’s Eyes.

Dina’s mother is a Shamer and Dina is already showing traits of the Shamer she will become.

” I knew that it would be so much easier for them if I simply stayed away. But I hadn’t asked for the damned Shamer’s eyes; I couldn’t help being my mother’s daughter… Didn’t I have a right to be here? Someone to talk to, someone to be with…”

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Author Lene Kaaberbøl has created a brand new world peopled with both good and evil characters and has brought to life the idea of a Shamer – a person who can read your mind and detect any and all actions you are ashamed of. That power brings people face to face with the shame they feel and can (and often does) bring grown men to their knees. A Shamer can also tell truth from lies and her services are often called upon to determine a person’s guilt or innocence in criminal matters.

That talent and the repercussions of seeing inside someone’s heart and mind are what gets Dina and her mother involved in matters of which they would rather have stayed out of.

The concept of a Shamer is unique and after reading THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER, I completely understand why this book series has garnered Lene Kaaberbøl fans around the world, of which I now count myself among their number.

The target audience for this book series is middle grade to young adults, but I am forty six years old and I enjoyed reading this tale immensely, and as such, I am labelling THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER as good for all ages.

With characters readers will be invested in and a fast paced plot full of continuous action and the entire tale being essentially a story of good versus evil, I rate this book as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

An award-winning and highly acclaimed writer of Fantasy, Lene Kaaberbøl was born in 1960, grew up in the Danish countryside and had her first book published at the age of 15. Since then she has written more than 30 books for children and young adults.

Lene’s huge Internationally breakthrough came with ‘The Shamer Chronicles,’ which have been published in more than 25 countries selling over a million copies worldwide.

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

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

AUDIBLE

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

SIMON AND SCHUSTER

“I SPY THE BOY NEXT DOOR” BOOK BLITZ AND GIVEAWAY – ENTER TO WIN AN AMAZON GIFT CARD – Open Internationally

Title: I Spy the Boy Next Door
Author: Samantha Armstrong
Publication date: May 25th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

DESCRIPTION:

Four p.m. spy sessions are the highlight of Mallory Taylor’s day. Observing the boy next door—one with a body and an attitude to match—has her perched beside her window so often it can’t be healthy.

When she finally convinces her mom to let her go to public school, Mallory comes face to face with her neighbor, Troy Parker. And he makes it clear he wants nothing to do with her. His rejection awakens a newfound tenacity and maybe even a touch of recklessness. But when Troy starts to show up when she needs him the most, Mallory can’t help but wonder if there’s more to him than he’s let on.

Taking chances, breaking rules, and following her heart is all new to Mallory. And no one warned her just how fickle hearts can be. When she discovers that Troy isn’t at all the guy she imagined him to be, secrets rise to the surface that will change her life forever.

**This is a standalone mature YA/new adult contemporary romance.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

We’re about ten minutes into the lesson when everything around me stops and spins. I don’t know which because all I can see is him.

“Mr. Parker, nice of you to join us,” Mr. Brown says.

I stalked him a few years ago on Facebook to see if we were in the same grade, but I wasn’t expecting to be in the same class.

My day just got a hell of a lot better.

I press my palm to my chest, feeling the familiar beat. I press harder, hoping the pressure will soften the racket inside of me.

He slides a note onto Mr. Brown’s desk, barely acknowledging him before returning his attention to his phone. His fingers fly across the screen as he walks down the aisle.

Please look at me. Please look at me. Please look at me, I silently chant, but when he turns and heads directly for me, my prayers abruptly change. Don’t look at me. Don’t look at me. Don’t look at me.

My heart’s thumping so hard against my ribcage, I’m losing air.

This is the moment.

I don’t know what to do. I’ve been envisioning it for so long, and now that it’s about to happen, everything I’ve ever planned I would do or say has gone out the window. I start clicking my pen, then tapping my foot. I should be focusing on the lesson at the front of the room, but I can’t take my eyes off him. He’s wearing a hood, but I can see his hair slipping out from under it. Dark jeans hang low on his hips, and a bag sits snug on his back.

He’s only a few steps away. I swallow.

He’s in front of me. He looks up.

My breath catches in my throat.

His eyes widen, then narrow. All these years later, he still doesn’t smile at me.

And I realize, I sat in an already claimed seat.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author Bio:

Samantha Armstrong’s novels incorporate all of the feels–from swoon-worthy heroes to sweet-but-mostly-sassy heroines, quirk and laughter to emotional grit and panty melting-heat. She has written in multiple genres, but never strays far from romance.

Born and raised in New Zealand, Samantha Armstrong prefers to be tucked away writing whenever she can — or, rather, whenever her adorable yet demanding baby boy allows.

A normal day for her includes diapers–lots of them–walks with both babies (i.e. human baby and dog baby), writing between naps, and staying up late to write even more. Then somehow fitting all the other stuff in between.

To sign up for information on upcoming releases, giveaways and more:

https://www.samantharmstrong.com/subscribe

To learn more about this author visit the following links:
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram

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