THE MOONSTONE GIRLS is destined to be One of the Best Books of 2022 – Pre-order Now to avoid missing out

Title: THE MOONSTONE GIRLS

Author: BROOKE SKIPSTONE

Release Date: FEBRUARY 14, 2022

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, LGBTQ

Number Of Pages: 397

Publisher: SKIPSTONE PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

ISBN: 978-1-73700643-5

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Mount McKinley in Alaska – the name was changed and it is now called Mount Denali – Notice the digging bear on the left side of the photo Photographer Daniel Leifheit

DESCRIPTION:

1968, a seventeen-year-old queer girl traveled to Alaska disguised as a boy.

Tracy should have been a boy. Even her older brother Spencer says so, though he wouldn’t finish the thought with, “And I should have been a girl.”

Though both feel awkward in their own skin, they have to face who they are—queers in the late 60s.

When both are caught with gay partners, their lives and futures are endangered by their homophobic father as their mother struggles to defend them.

While the Vietnam War threatens to take Spencer away, Tracy and her father wage a war of their own, each trying to save the sweet, talented pianist.

At seventeen, Tracy dresses as a boy and leaves her parents in turmoil, with only the slimmest hope of finding peace within herself. She journeys to a girl with a guitar, calling to her from a photo, “Come to Alaska. We’d be great friends.”

Maybe even The MoonStone Girls.

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MY REVIEW:

My first thought after reading THE MOONSTONE GIRLS is that it must be somewhat autobiographical. Author Brooke Skipstone has written with such depth of emotion that it is difficult to believe the story is fictional.

Before I get too far into my review I wanted to be sure to mention just how gorgeous the cover of this book is. It is the perfect blend of colors to bring the 1960s to mind. And, the choice to just use silhouettes is 100% inspired. 5 Stars for the cover. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I love that this #book is set in the late #1960s – an era much different than today’s world. So much was different at that time for anyone who was gay, and as hard as it is to fathom, being gay was considered to be against the laws of both God and men. This just highlights how far LBGTQ rights have come (even though society still has a ways to go.)

I cannot fathom the fear and pain experienced by LGBTQ youth at that time in history, especially for men whose arousal is much harder to hide. In the book, both Tracy and her brother Spencer are queer. The good thing is that they have each other to lean on and they have a mother who loves them just the way they are. This is much more than most #queer #youth had in their lives during that period in #history

This book delves into not just LGBTQ history, but also into the #draft and the #VietnamWar #WomensRights #RockAndRoll and the #SexualRevolution

There are some extremely #emotional scenes in The Moonstone Girls and at one point during reading I was literally in tears. It takes a truly talented #writer to be able to evoke so much #empathy and #emotion in their readers. Kudos to Brooke Skipstone for writing such an important and believable book.

Ultimately, this is a tale about hope and about having the courage to fight back in the best way you can against those who would try to stop you from living life on your own terms. It will encourage readers to never settle for second best and to keep trying until they find a place where they belong and where they can live a life of hope and honesty. It also reminds us that there is a person out there for everyone and that everyone has the right to live a happy life on their own terms.

Tracy is a fiery, take-no-prisoners type of young woman. This is the face she shows to the world, but inside, she is suffering and full of shame. This reminds readers that the persona people present to the world is not always accurate and that everyone has an inner world that is invisible. Never judge a book by its cover is a great lesson and one that we often forget.

Although not specifically stated, I get the feeling that the author also wants readers to think about mental health and to realize the depths of despair that people can feel when forced to live a lie just to be “normal.”

All in all I have to say that this book should be on everyone’s Must Read list for 2022 and although it is labeled as Young Adult fiction, this book will appeal to readers of all ages.

I am rating THE MOONSTONE GIRLS by Brooke Skipstone as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ and I highly recommend this book … just make sure you have a box of tissues nearby when you read it.

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

BELOW IS THE MOONSTONE GIRLS PLAYLIST

https://open.spotify.com/embed?uri=spotify%3Aplaylist%3A3FHQ6I55MRmqkIuFhA2mvD

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brooke Skipstone lives in Alaska, where she watches the mountains change colors with the seasons from her balcony.

Where she feels the constant rush toward winter as the sunlight wanes for six months of the year, seven minutes each day, bringing crushing cold that lingers even as the sun climbs again.

Where the burst of life during summer is urgent under twenty-four-hour daylight, lush and decadent. Where fish swim hundreds of miles up rivers past bear claws and nets and wheels and lines of rubber-clad combat fishers, arriving humped and ragged, dying as they spawn.

Where danger from the land and its animals exhilarates the senses, forcing her to appreciate the difference between life and death. Where the edge between is sometimes too alluring.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

GOODREADS

AMAZON  

#NetGalley #AmiesBookReviews #BookReview #tbr #BookReviewer  #ReadAndReview #bibliophile #bookstagram #bookstagrammers #AuthorsOfInstagram #author #NewBook #MustRead #BookNerd #book #books #reading #yalit #ya #instagramhub #YoungAdultFiction
#TheMoonstoneGirls #BrookeSkipstone #LGBTQ #DiverseBooks #1968 #Vietnam #DraftCards #Equity #Equality #LoveIsLove

THE TEACHING – A Thriller Based on the Author’s True Life Experience of Living In A Cult by T.O. PAINE is Coming Soon

Title: THE TEACHING

Author: T.O. PAINE

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS, BASED ON THE AUTHOR’S EXPERIENCE OF LIVING IN A CULT

Length: 381 PAGES

Publisher: DARK SWALLOW BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MARCH 3rd, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-9992183-2-7 (PAPERBACK)
ISBN: 978-0-9992183-3-4 (HARDCOVER)
ISBN: 978-0-9992183-4-1 (EBOOK)

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Based on the author’s true-life experience living in a cult . . .

Raine Harkins believes everything the Teaching tells her—forgiveness is freedom, there are no dead, and there is no dying. She has lived her entire life in the Haven, a small religious community buried in the hills of northern Nevada, and it’s been a good life.

But when she discovers a frightened teenage girl hiding in the forest, everything changes. Raine offers to help the girl, but gunshots ring out, and the girl runs away, never to be seen again. A week later, Raine finds a letter pinned to her cabin door—God doesn’t want you here. Leave the Haven now, before he runs you down.

Raine can’t bear the thought of leaving the only life she’s ever known, but the threatening letters keep coming, and her search for the missing girl leads her down a twisted path, unraveling the truth behind the Teaching. It’s not a good life—there are dead, and people do die.

MY REVIEW:

Debut author T.O. Paine did exactly what authors are supposed to do: he wrote about what he knows. Since he has lived in a cult, he was able to create a community that is believable and is populated by inhabitants that are so realistic that I had to wonder if they were based on people he had known in his past.

If readers are approaching this story hoping to discover that all the people in Haven are evil, they will be disappointed. However, this is exactly what makes this book all the more believable; it’s acknowledgement that not everything in life is easily classified into simple categories.

The mystery that is the main plot will keep readers guessing and has multiple twists and turns. There are also several other sub-plots that the author seamlessly weaves together which will intrigue readers just as much as the main plot does.

There are five novels planned, of which THE TEACHING is only the first. I have added myself to the Author’s mailing list and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

I rate THE TEACHING as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book can be pre-ordered now and the official release date is set for March 3rd of 2022.


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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

T.O. Paine is a suspense novelist whose authentic characters triumph over extreme situations in challenging, true-to-life settings. He enjoys delving into the emotional consequences of his character’s choices and taking his readers along for the ride. Though his novels are contemporary, things always get out of control. Cults are real, anger is a disorder, and everyone loses when a friendly competition becomes an obsession.

His first of five novels, THE TEACHING, is set for publication Spring of 2022.

T.O. holds a master’s degree in information systems, and when he is not writing, you can find him running or cycling through the mountains of Colorado, USA. He has run over thirty marathons, ridden over twenty 100-mile cycling events, and completed an IRONMAN.

T.O. resides with his wife, two children, and a Boston terrier who stares at himself in the mirror, questioning his existence.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK   

TWITTER

AMAZON

APPLE BOOKS

BARNES AND NOBLE

BATHTIME FUN – An adorable rhyming Children’s Book that will quickly become a favorite of both parents and kids alike by Award Winning Canadian Children’s Author KATHLEEN GAUER – Book Review and Sample Pages

Title: BATHTIME FUN

Author: KATHLEEN GAUER  

Illustrator: SARI RICHTER

Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION

Length: 32 PAGES

Publisher: SKIPPING STONE PRESS

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: JULY 31, 2021

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Bathtime is FUN!!! Find out why in this bubbly, fun-to-read-aloud, tugboat adventure.

With bright, bold, and playful illustrations, diverse characters, and an engaging, rhythmic text, this delightful book is sure to spark the imagination of young readers everywhere.

When you combine adventure with getting clean, bath time is a fun time.

MY REVIEW:

BATHTIME FUN is a fun Children’s Book that both parents and young kids will adore.

The story is written in rhyme which allows the narrative to flow.

Children who may have been hesitant to have a bath or who start out afraid of the water, will see bath time as a time for fun during which they can allow their imagination to soar.

The illustrations are bright and engaging. These illustrations bring the fun of the rhyming story to life.

I rate this exceptional Canadian children’s book as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Toronto writer Kathleen Gauer’s published works include illustrated children’s books, High in the Sky, For No Reason, The Wish Carvers, and Bathtime Fun! as well as poetry, and magazine and newspaper articles.

Her books have been acquired in libraries across Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Kathleen worked as a contributing associate editor for a Toronto community focus magazine for 15 years, and as an arts columnist for the Etobicoke Guardian newspaper.

She retired as an Educational Assistant in Special Education after working with the Toronto District School Board for 29 years.

When not writing or reading, Kathleen enjoys hanging out with her family and friends, yoga, hiking, golf, knitting, world travel, and choral singing.

She also volunteers with IBBY Canada’s Readers and Refugees program in Toronto and does author visits and story time programs in local schools and libraries.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Photograph by Nadia Guo

Sari Richter grew up in Ancaster, Ontario, and moved to Toronto where she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting at the Ontario College of Art and Design University and a Masters Certification from the Toronto Art Therapy Institute.

She works in a vast array of traditional and non-traditional drawing and painting media and looks forward to challenging commissions. Sari is also a published children’s book author (I’ll Know It When I See It!), illustrator, storyboard artist, and muralist. She has worked in the field of children’s mental health as an art therapist and loves challenging drawing and painting commissions.

To learn more about this Illustrator visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.sarimichellerichter.com

PINTEREST

INSTAGRAM

INSTAGRAM – ART ACCOUNT

TWITTER

AMAZON  

BLOODSUCKER CITY by Horror Director, Podcaster, and Author JIM TOWNS can now be pre-ordered. Secure your copy now, you will Not be disappointed.

Title: BLOODSUCKER CITY 

Author: JIM TOWNS

Genre: FICTION, HORROR, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS

Length: 121 PAGES

Publisher: CASTLE BRIDGE MEDIA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: NOVEMBER 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-17364726-7-5

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Like a female Shawshank Redemption — with vampires.

1933

Falsely convicted of murdering her own boy, Lena—a poor young widow—is sentenced to life imprisonment in the infamous Steelgate Women’s Prison: an ancient stone fortress perched atop a jagged mountain in the middle of nowhere.

Abused by guards and her fellow prisoners alike, Lena is soon introduced to the Wardens of Steelgate. Strange and aloof, these seven men control everything and everybody within the prison. To break their rules brings severe punishment, as Lena soon learns when a misunderstanding sends her to the Hole for three days. There, in the darkness under the prison, she learns the true horror of Steelgate: the Wardens are all vampires, feeding off their women prisoners one by one: forgotten women, whom no one will ever miss.

Aware now that doing life in Steelgate is actually a death sentence, Lena decides she must form a plan to not only escape the prison, but to also bring down the evil that dwells there.

Obtained from the Author’s Facebook Page

MY REVIEW:

I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant to read another story with vampires as the central theme. However, I am VERY HAPPY I decided to go ahead and read BLOODSUCKER CITY by Jim Towns. The fact that he is a horror movie director definitely swayed my interest. The first line of the book’s synopsis also grabbed my attention and piqued my interest. It reads:

“Like a female Shawshank Redemption— with vampires.”

What self-respecting horror fan could pass up a book with that plot?

100% I was in!!!!

I was not disappointed. Jim Towns has crafted a fabulous story of risk, reward, and redemption. This novella has everything required of a great story. There is a gutsy heroine who has been trampled on simply by virtue of being a woman in 1933. There is a story of deep familial bonds, ones that transcend death. There is a women’s prison where those who could not (or would not) conform to society’s expectations of who and what and how a woman should behave.

I don’t want to ruin the story for any potential readers, but if you are a fan of horror and/or historical fiction, this is one book that you should pre-order now. It will be officially released on November 2, 2021 and I predict that it will obtain a dedicated cult following. I can’t wait to see how people react to BLOODSUCKER CITY.

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jim Towns is a writer, director and visual artist. His films include the silent expressionist feature Prometheus Triumphant: a Fugue in the Key of Flesh, the award-winning haunted heist film House of Bad, the post-apocalyptic drama State of Desolation, and the streaming series Immortal Hands.

His short fiction has been published in print and online by Burial Day, Switchblade Magazine, Pulp Modern, Castle of Horror, and many more. He is the author of the non-fiction book American Cryptic, and his collection of poems, writings and photographs, Whiskey Stories, was recently released by Uncle B Publications.

His paintings and mixed media artwork have been exhibited in galleries in Pittsburgh, New York and Los Angeles.

He currently lives in San Pedro, CA with his wife and two mysterious cats.

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

WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

LINKEDIN

TWITTER

AMAZON  

SLEWFOOT Audiobook by BROM – One of the Best Historical Horror Books I Have Ever Had the Pleasure of Reading – Creepy and Terrifying, SLEWFOOT will stay with you forever. 5+ Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: SLEWFOOT

Author:  BROM

Narrator: BARRIE KREINIK

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION, HORROR

Length: 14 HOURS and 15 MINUTES

Publisher: TOR NIGHTFIRE / MACMILLAN AUDIO

Type of Book: AUDIOBOOK

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 14, 2021

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Connecticut, 1666.

An ancient spirit awakens in a dark wood. The wildfolk call him Father, slayer, protector.

The colonists call him Slewfoot, demon, devil.

To Abitha, a recently widowed outcast, alone and vulnerable in her pious village, he is the only one she can turn to for help.

Together, they ignite a battle between pagan and Puritan – one that threatens to destroy the entire village, leaving nothing but ashes and bloodshed in their wake.

“If it is a devil you seek, then it is a devil you shall have!”

A Macmillan Audio production from TOR NIGHTFIRE

MY REVIEW:

World building at its finest. Characters so fully developed that it is impossible to not be invested in their lives. A build up in intensity that quite literally will have readers on the edge of their seats.

I was lucky to receive an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of the SLEWFOOT Audiobook from the Publisher through NetGalley. I am thrilled to say  listening to the story enhanced my experience.

Until I looked her up (yes, Barrie is female) after listening to her fabulous voice for hours on end, I had no idea that she wasn’t British by birth. Her website mentions her proficiency with accents, but actually hearing her performance, I realized she is not merely proficient, she sounds 100% as if she is a native Brit. Barrie is a masterful voice actor with an exquisite sense of timing. The way her voice rises and falls during particularly suspensful moments had me hooked. I will 100% be looking for more audiobooks featuring the skills of Barrie Kreinik in the future.

As for the story itself, the following offers a clue as to what I thought of SLEWFOOT…

From this day forward I will always think of Brom when anyone mentions historical horror fiction with fantasy elements. In fact, I don’t believe that any other author alive today even comes close to his skill level.

Because I do not want to give away any spoilers, I am not going to discuss the plot any further. Suffice it to say that this book is not just a story, it is an experience.

I rate SLEWFOOT as 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

BROM

Born in the deep dark south in the mid-sixties. Brom, an army brat, spent his entire youth on the move and unabashedly blames living in such places as Japan, Hawaii, Germany, and Alabama for all his afflictions. From his earliest memories Brom has been obsessed with the creation of the weird, the monstrous, and the beautiful.

THE ART OF BROM – HARDCOVER

At age twenty, Brom began working full-time as a commercial illustrator in Atlanta, Georgia. Three years later he entered the field of fantastic art he’d loved his whole life, making his mark developing and illustrating for TSR’s best selling role-playing worlds.

He has since gone on to lend his distinctive vision to all facets of the creative industries, from novels and games, to comics and film. Most recently he’s created a series of award winning horror novels that he both writes and illustrates: “The Plucker”, an adult children’s book, “The Devil’s Rose”, a modern western set in Hell, “The Child Thief”, a gritty, nightmarish retelling of the Peter Pan myth, “Krampus, the Yule Lord“, a tale of revenge between Krampus and Santa set in rural West Virginia, and his latest concoction, “Lost Gods” one man’s determined trek through the brutal landscape of purgatory, “Slewfoot” a historical horror novel of witchery and vengeance, set in colonial America.

Brom is currently kept in a dank cellar somewhere in the drizzly Northwest. There he subsists on poison spiders, centipedes, and bad kung-fu flicks. When not eating bugs, he is ever writing, painting, and trying to reach a happy sing-a-long with the many demons dancing about in his head.

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

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

AUDIBLE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER   

AMAZON  

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ABOUT THE NARRATOR:
[headshots by David Perlman]

Barrie Kreinik is an award-winning audiobook narrator with titles produced by

Macmillan, Hachette, Penguin Random House, Harper, Podium, Tantor, Audible, and AudioGO.

She specializes in accents and dialects, particularly those of the British Isles. And she does it perfectly.

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

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

AUDIBLE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM  

BLOG

AMAZON  

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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THE SLOW MARCH OF LIGHT by Heather B. Moore RELEASES TODAY!!! Check out the special offer for book buyers and invite the author to virtually attend your book club – BASED ON A TRUE STORY

Title: THE SLOW MARCH OF LIGHT

Author: HEATHER B. MOORE

Publication Date: 9/7/21

ISBN: 9781629729282

Retail Price: $26.99 (Hardcover)

Page Count: 368

Genre: Historical Fiction

Cover: Image by
BrianScantlebury/Shutterstock

Endsheet Image by: Naeblys/Shutterstock

Book Design: © Shadow Mountain

Design: Sheryl Dickert Smith

Art Direction: Richard Erickson

SYNOPSIS:

Sometimes all you have is hope.

In the summer of 1961, a wall of barbed wire goes up quickly in the dead of night, officially dividing
Berlin. Aware of the many whose families have been divided, Luisa joins a secret spy network, risking
her life to help East Germans escape across the Berlin Wall and into the West.

Bob Inama, a soldier in the US Army, is stationed in West Germany. He’s glad to be fluent in German, especially after meeting Luisa Voigt at a church social. As they spend time together, they form a close connection. But when Bob receives classified orders to leave for undercover work immediately, he doesn’t get the chance to say goodbye.

With a fake identity, Bob’s special assignment is to be a spy embedded in East Germany, identifying
possible targets for the US military. But Soviet and East German spies, the secret police, and Stasi informants are everywhere, and the danger of being caught and sent to a brutal East German prison lurks on every corner.

Best-selling author HEATHER B. MOORE masterfully alternates the stories of Bob and Luisa, capturing the
human drama unique to Cold War Germany was well as the courage and the resilience of the human
spirit.

http://www.shadowmountain.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Heather B. Moore is a USA Today best-selling and award-winning author of more than seventy publications. She has lived on both the east and west coasts of the United States, including Hawaii, and attended school abroad including the Cairo American College in Egypt, and the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel. She loves to learn about history and is passionate about historical research.

Help Heather B. Moore get her latest novel, The Slow March of Light, to hit the New York Times best-seller list by purchasing a copy between September 6-11.

Everyone who submits a copy of their receipt and fills out this form during the week of September 6-11 will receive The Slow March of Light – Swag Bundle*.

*While supplies last. Click here for terms and conditions.

Available From The Above Resellers

IT’S RELEASE DAY – John Carpenter’s Storm Kids: SACRED HEARTS IS NOW AVAILABLE – This graphic novel is targeted at young adult horror fans and readers will find themselves unable to put it down

Back Cover

Title: SACRED HEARTS  

Series: JOHN CARPENTER PRESENTS STORM KIDS: BOOK FOUR

Author: STEVE NILES

Genre: FICTION, HORROR, COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS, YOUNG ADULT FICTION

Length: 152 PAGES

Publisher: STORM KING COMICS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JULY 27, 2021

ISBN: 9781734389104

Price: $23.99 USD (PAPERBACK)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

For Chris, Dirk and Shelley, life in their small town has always been quiet. But they have all heard about the Franklin Farm… a place they should never go near.

The Franklin Farm

When the three best friends decide to build a tree fort in the woods, they dare each other to go to there in search of wood, and find themselves in a strange world they never expected, setting off a terrible chain of events.

Building the fort

In this place, monsters are created, and an ancient evil from an old family curse is rising within their little town. But in all the chaos, they come to learn that not all monsters are bad. Some are special… some are born with a Sacred Heart… From his horrific beginnings, this special Monster was born from a broken pact with evil, and somehow a door to a dark world had been opened. With the help of their new Monstrous friend, the kids try to stop the destructive forces happening all around them, and end the curse once and for all.

MY REVIEW:

I was drawn to this graphic novel because of seeing “John Carpenter” on the cover. But, that alone would not have been enough to make me love this graphic novel as much as I do.

This is the 4th book in a series, but each novel is a standalone seperate story. This means that you can read them in any order, or just read this one. But, now that I have read one of the novels, I want to read them all.

Even though this is a horror story, it is targeted at the young adult (or full adult) audience. The gore is kept to a minimum and I recommend it for ages thirteen and up.

The story itself will resonate with anyone who has grown up in a small town. Every small town seems to have at least one house or property that is rumored to be haunted or evil. SACRED HEARTS is no different.

The Sheriff

In this case, three friends – Chris, Dirk, and Shelley are building a fort in the woods outside of their town. When they realize they need more wood to be able to finish it, they remember seeing an old pile of boards beside the barn on the Franklin farm.

Retrieving that wood sets off a chain of events they could never have expected. Curses, pacts with the devil, and a monsterous creature unlike anything the kids have ever seen are only a few of the surprises awaiting readers.

The entertainment value of this graphic novel is off the charts. It also highlights some basic life lessons such as never judging someone by their appearance, and the value of true friendships.

The illustrations are utterly fabulous. I particularly liked the way the illustrators used dark and light to highlight the difference between the scenes of good versus those of evil.

Willie of ‘Willie’s Towing’
Close to the Franklin Farm

I highly recommend this graphic novel to everyone who loves a tale of good against evil. I rate SACRED HEARTS as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

ABOUT THE CREATORS:

A Note From the Publisher

John Carpenter Presents Storm Kids brings horror and sci-fi stories to YA and MG audiences.

Brought to you by Sandy King’s Storm King Comics and the Master of Horror himself, John Carpenter, Sacred Hearts is the fourth story in the anthology series. As a mature version of childrens’ books like “Where the Wild Things Are”,The Gruffalo”, and “Leonardo, the Terrible Monster”, Sacred Hearts shows us that not all monsters are bad.

Like the young adults’ book, “No Place for Monsters” but with its own twist, Sacred Hearts takes us on a journey with children trying to save their town from a curse, while exploring what exactly makes monsters good or evil.

With twists and turns, and a backstory that comes full circle, this story contains revelations on how we as a society view monsters.

Steve Niles’ name is synonymous with the Horror genre. He is credited among other contemporary writers as bringing horror comics back to prominence, best known for 30 Days of Night, Criminal Macabre, October Faction, Simon Dark, and Batman: Gotham County Line. Steve’s comic series, The October Faction, was made into a successful Netflix show in 2020.

His comic, 30 Days of Night, was released in 2007 as a major motion picture.

Nat Jones is one of the industry’s top horror and dark fantasy artists, he has worked with many of horrors’ most recognized creators and filmmakers including Rob Zombie, Guillermo del Toro, Steve Niles, Todd Mcfarlane and Joe Hill.

A 5 STAR YA Graphic Novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

UNSILENCED: A Teacher’s Year of Battles, Breakthroughs and Life-Changing Lessons at Belchertown State School by HOWARD C. SHANE is an unforgettable and compelling story of finding hope and inspiration in the most unlikely of places – THE MOST IMPORTANT MEMOIR YOU WILL READ IN 2021 – 5+ STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: UNSILENCED

Subtitle: A Teacher’s Year of Battles, Breakthroughs, and Life-Changing Lessons at Belchertown State School 

Author: HOWARD C. SHANE   

Genre: NON-FICTION, DISABILITIES, HISTORY, MEMOIRS, DISCRIMINATION

Length: 254 PAGES

Publisher: BROOKES PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: NOVEMBER 1, 2021

ISBN: 9781681255156

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

https://m.facebook.com/watch/?v=898640163601782&_rdr

DESCRIPTION:

The year is 1969, and fresh-out-of-college smart-aleck Howard Shane has just landed his first teaching job—at Belchertown State School, a bleak institution where people with disabilities endure endless days of silence, tedium, and neglect.

Howard is stunned by the conditions at Belchertown and the challenges of his new job, but as he gets to know his diverse, endearing, and intelligent students, he becomes consumed with a mission: to unlock their communication skills and help them reach their full potential. Pitting his youthful idealism and passion against the rigidity of a rule-bound administrator, Howard battles his way to small joys and victories with his students—and, along the way, learns just as much as he teaches.

A stirring and spellbinding memoir from internationally renowned AAC expert Howard Shane (Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School), Unsilenced is a candid look at a pivotal era in disability history and a deeply personal account of how all human beings can flourish when we care for each other and fight for change.

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MY REVIEW:

“It began in 1969, at a school with a name that’s repellent to modern ears: ‘Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded.’ Located in the sleepy town of Belchertown, Massachusetts, it was a grim institution where children with a wide range of disabilities were warehoused for nearly a century. At that time, parents of children with disabilities had few alternatives when it came to raising and educating their children.”

This fantastic memoir is an important addition to the history of people with disabilities. This is a story that MUST be told.

A scan of a 35mm slide taken of one of the dorms at BSS likely in the late 1970s.

Howard Shane was only 22 when he took a teaching position at the Belchertown State School. Much has been written about the institutions where “disabled” people were warehoused in the past. However, this book is completely unlike any other.

Ruth Sienkewicz-Mercer – Born in Northampton, MA, Ruth suffered a severe bout of encephalitis at five weeks old and at 13 months was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Ruth was admitted to Belchertown as a teen and spent the next 8 years in a bed on a ward for schizophrenics. In 1969, Ruth was introduced to a new teacher, Howard Shane, who, with the help of the physical therapist, created the first alternative communication device that allowed Ruth to communicate more widely. By then, the nurses on the ward had already figured out that Ruth communicated using eye movements and facial expressions.

Institutions such as the Belchertown State School were not places of learning as one would expect from the name. It’s full name says much about the commonly held attitudes of the time: The Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded. These were NOT places where hope or inspiration could be found. Instead, the residents were taught either only the basics of self-care, or were taught nothing at all.

Residents (patients) were often left with little or no access to external stimuli and had little access to educational materials.

When Howard Shane arrived to begin his teaching position, he had no idea that it would shape his entire future.

With A and K Building demolished, the worst conditions could be found in the other two large scale residential buildings: G Building and the Infirmary shown here where residents far outnumbered staff and there was little day to day activity on the wards to enrich the residents’ time there. The residents of the infirmary rarely left their beds unless it was to spend time on mats that were spread out on the floor. From Instagram.

Determined to actually educate his students, who were the most severely physically disabled residents of the “school,” Howard devised a way for the non-verbal students to actually communicate. This invention changed the lives of his students in untold ways.

In the early 1940s the residents attended the Belchertown fair and enjoyed riding the carousel so much that the administration decided to purchase one for the school. In 1948 they purchased a c. 1912 Stein & Goldstein Carousel from Forest Lake Park in Palmer. Obtained from the Belchertown State School Friends on Instagram

His dedication to actually educating his students caused him to butt heads with the administration continuously. His views were seen as radical and his goals for his students were seen as unrealistic and a waste of time.

This book will grab your attention and is 100% unputdownable. Readers will find themselves rooting, not only for Howard Shane, but also for the students in his unconventional classroom.

This book is important. We need to remember the past and how people with disabilities were viewed and treated. This knowledge is essential so that society is never allowed to slip back into believing the uneducated views of the past.

I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone who believes that every person, despite their physical and mental disabilities, are important and deserve the chance to be happy and to live a fulfilling life.

I am very much hoping that Dr. Howard Shane decides to write a follow up to this memoir. I would be extremely interested in hearing more about his career and the devices he helped to create. In my view, Howard C. Shane is an exceptional human being and his life and work need to be celebrated.

I rate this book as 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I will be eagerly awaiting the next volume of his memoirs.
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*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

* Hear an Excerpt Read by Howard Shane, Ph.D. here: 

https://products.brookespublishing.com/Unsilenced-P1285.aspx

*

From: AsylumProjects.org

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Howard Shane, Ph.D.,is an associate professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Center for Communication Enhancement and the Autism Language Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

He has designed more than a dozen computer applications used widely by persons with disabilities and holds two U.S. patents.

Dr. Shane has received Honors of the Association Distinction and is a fellow of the American Speech and Hearing Association.

He is the recipient of the Goldenson Award for Innovations in Technology from the United Cerebral Palsy Association and has authored numerous papers and chapters on severe speech impairment, lectured throughout the world on the topic, and produced numerous computer innovations enjoyed by persons with complex communication disorders.

https://images.app.goo.gl/WfN2yAadxXCmtzgi8

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

WIKIPEDIA

BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

BROOKES is the premier publisher of practical, research-based resources that support children’s healthy development and boost the learning and success of all people, with and without disabilities. We partner with pioneers and fresh voices to inspire readers and provide them with the tools needed to help all learners achieve academic success and work toward a bright future.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

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PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE BELCHERTOWN STATE SCHOOL:

Photograph obtained from http://www.asylumprojects.org
This photo shows dinner being served in one of the women’s buildings at the Belchertown State School in the late 1920s or early 1930s. Food was prepared for residents at a central kitchen and delivered to the various dormitories.
Note the Buster Brown haircuts on most of the women–the preferred style because it was said to be easier for the staff to do than anything else. (Photo courtesy of the Clapp Memorial Library)
In this 1972 photo, empty beds at the Belchertown State School are pictured. James Shanks reported in his 1970 expose on the conditions at Belchertown State School where men slept in large barracks, beds touching head to foot, with only a narrow twelve-inch aisle separating rows. Sometimes residents had to climb over one another to get to and from their beds. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Albertson/CORBIS)

The Following Photos and Links have nothing to do with Dr. Howard Shane’s memoir. They are included here as additional content I found interesting:

INFORMATION ON THE BELCHERTOWN STATE SCHOOL

From: The ATLAS OBSCURA WEBSITE

THE BELCHERTOWN STATE SCHOOL FOR THE FEEBLE-MINDED was founded in 1922.

The 845 acre campus comprising some 57 buildings must be called scenic, if nothing else—the Holyoke Range is visible from the campus, and many of the original structures were old farmhouse cottages (five farms were purchased to build the school).

After its establishment, the school became the only institution for developmentally disabled children in Western Massachusetts. Conditions deteriorated over the next few decades. Wards were overcrowded and attendants overworked. As a result, patients were often left to soak for hours in their own excrement. Sometimes, handicapped patients had their teeth removed to facilitate feeding.

In 1992, the school was finally closed after decades of reported human rights violations. In 1994, the campus was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the buildings are all boarded up. Graffiti and vandalism are rampant. Many of the ward rooms have been destroyed. Weather has also done its fair share of damage. The buildings have asbestos and, while possible to walk in, aren’t structurally sound.

However relics remain of the old school. One room in a large dormitory building still has plastic mats nailed to the walls—a padded cell. Large recreational rooms on either side of the dormitory halls get the most sun. The light is fractured by old-fashioned wheelchairs. In the basement of one building, a piano is lying on its back like a sleeping horse.

And, while the town of Belchertown may have forgotten this nasty piece of its history in the few decades since the state school was closed, it is possible the former residents still remember. In an upper floor, a note was scrawled on the floor, on top of which were human feces. “We were here. Now we’re gone,” it read. “Clean this place up. It’s a mess!”

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

The grounds are conveniently located right behind the Belchertown Police Department. There are No Trespassing signs, and the local paper reports trespassers being arrested on a weekly basis.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you might find the following links interesting:

ARTICLE: Abandoned New England: Photos from inside the old Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded by Matt Hester, Freelance Photographer on MASSLIVE website

Book: Crimes Against Humanity: A Historical Perspective. It was written by Benjamin Ricci, who sent his six-year-old son Bobby to live there not knowing what the conditions were like, and who was involved in the initial 1972 lawsuit.

Another book with vivid descriptions of Belchertown is Ruth Sienkiewicz-Mercer’s I Raise My Eyes to Say Yes. She was a resident of the school in the 1960s and 1970s. Ruth was one of Howard Shane’s students.

BOOK: THE BOYS AND GIRLS OF BELCHERTOWN by Robert Hornick

NEW RELEASE TODAY – RAYMOND THE BUFFALO by Lou Beau

Title: RAYMOND THE BUFFALO

Author: LOU BEAUCHESNE 

Illustrator: KATE CHAPPELL

Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION, CANADIAN AUTHOR

Themes: FRIENDSHIP, LOSS, COME TO LIFE, TRANSITIONAL PICTURE BOOK, EARLY CHAPTER BOOK

Length: 48 PAGES

Publisher: ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MAY 11, 2021

ISBN: 9781459826175

Price: $19.95 CDN / $19.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Raymond is a brave, strong and hairy buffalo. Gilbert is a quiet, growing and not-at-all hairy boy. Raymond is the hero of Gilbert’s favorite book, and Gilbert brings his favorite book everywhere. When an unfortunate incident separates the two, Raymond finds himself in a very unusual situation—outside of his book and loose in the local library! There’s nothing for Raymond to do but wait for Gilbert to come find him. But as the days turn into months and months into years, Raymond has to be brave and make a new home in the library shelves and a new friend in the librarian, Nicole.

This adorably illustrated picture book celebrates the love we have for books and the strength of friendship.

MY REVIEW:

RAYMOND THE BUFFALO is a terrific tale, written as an early chapter book.

The story is about a boy named Gilbert who, for years has taken his favorite book with him wherever he goes. That book is called RAYMOND THE BUFFALO and it is from Raymond’s point of view the story is told.

One day, Gilbert discovers (like every young boy I have ever known) the wonderful world of dinosaurs. Gilbert’s mother takes him to the library where he borrows several dinosaur books.

When Gilbert’s mother grabs all of the library books to return them, she inadvertently drops off Raymond’s book as well.

Raymond somehow finds himself outside his book and he meets the friendly librarian and discovers the wonders that exist in a library.

Author LOU BEAUCHESNE has crafted a wonderful story of love, friendship, and loyalty as well as pointing out the wonderous world of the local library.

Raymond may be a buffalo, but he is also a terrific help to the librarian, staying inside his book when the library is open and re-shelving books at night. 

The Publisher of RAYMOND THE BUFFALO is my favorite children’s book publishing company; ORCA BOOKS. Even their logo (a killer whale) is gorgeous and I love that they are based in Canada.

I rate RAYMOND THE BUFFALO as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I recommend it to readers ages six to ten.

This book would make a fabulous gift for teachers, librarians, and booklovers, in addition to every child aged six and up.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lou Beauchesne is an author and illustrator of over twenty books for young readers, including La princess cowboy and La guerre des suces.

She began writing and illustrating small books that she sold to her neighbors and has been doing this ever since.

Lou writes and draws from her home in Quebec.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Kate Chappell is a freelance illustrator living and working from her home in Lincolnshire, UK.

She graduated from Falmouth University with a degree in illustration in 2013 and uses a mix of traditional textures and digital techniques to create fun, dynamic characters and illustrations.

Kate has created art for Google, Stella Artois, Nespresso, Dove and many others and tries to include elements of humor in her work whenever possible.

To learn more about this Illustrator visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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RELEASED TODAY – Creative Crochet Projects – 12 Playful Projects for Beginners and Beyond by the uber-talented Stephanie Pokorny CROCHET AT IT’S MOST CREATIVE

Title: CREATIVE CROCHET PROJECTS

Subtitle: 12 PLAYFUL PROJECTS FOR BEGINNERS AND BEYOND

Author: STEPHANIE POKORNY 

Genre: NON-FICTION, CROCHETING, CRAFTS AND HOBBIES

Length: 96 PAGES

Size: 8.5″ X 10.8″

Publisher: LANDAUER PUBLISHINGA DIVISION OF FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING 

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MAY 1, 2021

ISBN: 9781947163638

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

You’ve never seen a crochet book like this before!

Whether you want to learn how to crochet or you’re looking for new projects to try, Creative Play with Crochet is for you! Featuring 12 projects that start easy and introduce a new technique one design at a time, this exciting guide contains crochet patterns you won’t find anywhere else!

Filled with personality and color, follow step-by-step instructions and skill-building tutorials to create a collection of charming crochet projects, from a beehive mobile and a kitchen play mat to toys, beanies, scarves, and more!

Crochet with creativity!

– 12 fun crochet projects with a charming, offbeat sense of style
– Create kids’ toys, beanies, buntings, scarves, a beehive mobile, and more
– Step-by-step instructions, coordinating photography, and skill-building tutorials
– Beginner-friendly introduction to common stitches and crochet basics.

Author Stephanie Pokorny has a one-of-a-kind style that has both wide appeal and originality.

MY REVIEW:

Ever wished you could learn to crochet? Or, are you already an accomplished crocheter? Either way, this is a must-have book.

With 96 pages, of the highest quality photography with detailed instructions for each project, this is a craft book of the highest quality.

To ensure CREATIVE CROCHET PROJECTS will appeal to crocheters of every skill level, author Stephanie Pokorny has included instructions with full colour photographs for each crochet stitch.

It is obvious to me that a exceptional amount of thought went into the creation of this book.

The author even includes information as to how to read other crochet patterns and what each abbreviation that crocheters might run across stands for.

I have seen (and own) dozens of crochet pattern books, but have never seen one (until now) that appeals equally to crafters of all ages and degrees of proficiency.

From a kitchen placemat that looks like a stovetop to a fully stacked hamburger for kid’s play kitchens, each project is unique and beautiful.

The projects include:

Finger Crochet Scarves

– It’s a Chinch One-Hour Cowl


– Squiggles McGee Hat


– Bubble Hue Shift Hat


– Asymmetric Owl Wrap


– Happy Heart Bunting


– Foldable Burger


– Foldable Hot Dog


– Sliceable Watermelon


– Bee-Unified Mobile and a


– Roll-Away Kitchen Placemat

I rate CREATIVE CROCHET PROJECTS – 12 PLAYFUL PROJECTS FOR BEGINNERS AND BEYOND as 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stephanie Pokorny is the designer and owner of Crochetverse.com that offers a one-of-a-kind original style to the crochet world.

Her elaborate children’s crochet costumes were even acknowledged in the 2019 edition of Ripley’s Believe it Or Not.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  

GOODREADS 

ETSY

FACEBOOK – AUTHOR

FACEBOOK – PUBLISHER

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER – AUTHOR

TWITTER – PUBLISHER

RAVELRY

AMAZON  

YOUTUBE

CHAPTERS

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“Stephanie Pokorny is one of the most creative crochet designers working today and her clever ideas shine through in this book. Every design is innovative, joyous, and most of all, FUN!”
Heather Mann

Download the Free Pattern “Walt The Worry Bear”