THE CREEPING by Alexandra Sirowy will have you checking behind you in fright. 


Title: THE CREEPING 

Author:ALEXANDRA SIROWY 

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, HORROR

Length: 400 PAGES 

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER 

Release Date: 2015

ISBN: 9781481418874

Price: $9.99 USD (PAPERBACK) 

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

“>

The fact that THE CREEPING is Alexandra Sirowy’s debut novel is astounding. Not only is it creepy and cool, but it also contains characters who are so believable that, at times, readers will wonder if this is actually fiction.

Twelve years earlier Jeanie and Stella were playing near the woods close to home when something really bad happened. Stella came back, Jeannie never did.

Now Stella’s seventeen and looking forward to her last year of high school. Sure, she may not have any memories of what happened to her on that long ago day and sure, maybe sometimes she wonders if it was somehow her fault, but summer is here. And Stella and her best friend plan to have the best summer ever.

Unfortunately, it seems that fate has other plans for Stella.

When the body of a little redheaded girl – who looks an awful lot like Jeannie – turns up, Stella’s memories begin to come back.

Has an ancient evil reawakened? And if so, is it angry at Stella? And why kill red-haired little girls?

Something or someone took Jeannie, and now that it knows Stella’s memory is returning,  will she be it’s next victim?

THE CREEPING is an apt name for this novel because it registers highly on the creepiness metre. With 100÷ believable characters, a town that has seen much more than its fair share of tragedies, and a mystery that must be solved before anyone else dies, THE CREEPING will grab you by the hair, drag you off into the bushes and will only release you once you reach the final page. Even then, this book will stay with you.

This book is filed as Young Adult Fiction which is fine in my opinion, however, I recommend it only for readers ages 13+ due to violence and sexually suggestive situations.

If you like to feel the hair on the back of your neck rise from fright, this is the book for you.

I can’t wait to read her next book: THE TELLING.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars.🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo by Vivian Sachs

Alexandra Sirowy is the author of The Creeping and The Telling.

She was born and raised in Northern California, where she attended a women’s college as an undergraduate and received her MA at the University of San Francisco.

Some interesting facts about Alexandra Sirowy:

* Alexandra is a voracious reader
* She is the oldest of three children
* Is an avid traveler
* Is a record-holding high school long jumper
* a gourmet cook
* a feminist,
* and is forever grateful to her parents for reading to her as a child.

Alexandra now lives in Northern California with her husband.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE   

GOODREADS  

TWITTER

FACEBOOK      

PINTEREST    

TUMBLR     

Shop Indie Bookstores

SKITTER by Ezekiel Boone is the second book in THE HATCHING Series and it is even better than Book One. THIS BOOK WILL MAKE YOU REALIZE WHY WE SHOULD BE AFRAID OF SPIDERS. 

Title: SKITTER   

Series: THE HATCHING: BOOK TWO

Author: EZEKIEL BOONE 

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Genre: HORROR, SCIENCE FICTION

Length: 352 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER  

Release Date: MAY 9, 2017

ISBN: 9781501125072

Price:  $26.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

If you were a bit scared of spiders before reading the first book in this series then you probably now have an extreme case of arachniphobia after reading THE HATCHING. Well, once you read SKITTER, that arachniphobia will morph into a full-blown neurosis. You might even need therapy. Seriously!

I had been waiting (not very patiently) for the sequel to THE HATCHING and I was thrilled when I was able to read an ARC (Advance Review Copy) courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley. The bad news is that if you are not a reviewer like me, you will have to wait until May 2017 for this book to be released. Might I suggest that you spend some of that time re-reading THE HATCHING.

In the first book we learned that a very old spider species has awakened from their slumber and that they were hungry. A group of researchers found an old dried out egg sac and sent it to America for identification and study.

That simple event seemed to trigger a worldwide awakening of spider egg sacs that had lain dormant all over the world for thousands of years. The spiders were unlike any that humans had encountered since the beginning of recorded history. They were bigger, they were meaner and they were much deadlier. 

Worse than finding egg sacs, people discovered (too late) that the spiders often travelled inside people who had no knowledge that they had even been bitten. Thus they spread throughout the world – much as the spread of a viral pandemic.

Los Angeles is deemed lost and it’s residents are quarantined as are many other cities and provinces around the world. Just as it seemed that all was lost, the spiders seemed to have reached the end of their life span and they all died off. However, they did leave thousands if not millions of egg sacs behind.

Now, it seems that all that is left is the clean up and to eradicate any egg sac sites and then all should be ok. Right?

Wrong! In SKITTER we learn that the threat is not over and that, in fact, that first wave of spiders was only the beginning.

Something is coming. Something really bad. The question is: Can mankind survive it?

You will need to read SKITTER to find out.

This book may sound like a typical horror story, but it is anything but. Both THE HATCHING and SKITTER are actually a mixture of multiple genres. Yes, there is definitely a horror element to this story, but it is much more. In fact, I could argue that it fits into every category of adult fiction.

It is a thriller. It is a drama. It is very much a mystery. It is Apocalyptic Fiction as well as Science Fiction. It is literally everything a reader could possibly want in a great book and for that reason I give this book the highest possible rating of 5 out of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I cannot wait to get my hands on the third installment of THE HATCHING SERIES. Ezekiel Boone has a lifetime fan in me!

WATCH THE TRAILERS:

 https://youtu.be/QhaQYliQ6qg

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

image

Photo By Laurie Willick

EZEKIEL BOONE is a Canadian writer who currently lives in upstate New York with his wife and children.

THE HATCHING is Zeke’s first thriller and the first book in the series, with SKITTER coming in 2017.

THE HATCHING series has sold in twelve countries and nine languages, and has been optioned for the screen. When not writing thrillers, Zeke writes acclaimed literary fiction under a different name. Along with a healthy respect for spiders, Zeke has two poorly behaved dogs and enjoys the outdoors.

To find out more about this author visit:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

THE HATCHING OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK
 
TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

 

THE RIVER AT NIGHT by Erica Ferencik does not release until JAN. 10, 2017 but you NEED TO PREORDER THIS AMAZING THRILL-READ NOW!!! 

Title: THE RIVER AT NIGHT    

Author: ERICA FERENCIK

Genre: GENERAL FICTION, DRAMA, THRILLER

Length: 304 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER 

Release Date: JANUARY 10, 2017

ISBN: 9781501143199  

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟  


* I received a free copy of this book through 
Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Drawn in by the book’s description, I began to read and immediately found myself able to relate to and to  empathize with the characters in THE RIVER AT NIGHT.

Pia, Win, Rachel and Sandra are all forty-something women who (like everyone I know) have busy lives. The four friends vacation together once a year, renewing their friendships and using the trips to briefly escape their everyday lives.

Pia is the adventurous one and has booked this year’s vacation – a whitewater rafting adventure on a remote river in Northern Maine. Despite their apprehension, the other women agree and their lives are forever changed.

ERICA FERENCIK is a master of pacing. This book moves FAST. There is never a lack of action and readers will find themselves quickly becoming engrossed in this dramatic tale.

I have actually been whitewater rafting (not in Maine) and I found that the author did a terrific job of capturing the mix of emotions that a first-time rafter experiences. From terror to euphoria and back once again to terror, the author relates every heart-pounding moment.

Also, I have to commend this author for her ability to hold the reader’s attention, not just through pacing, but also through exceptional word choice. Erica Ferencik seems to maintain the flow of the book effortlessly and that quality makes it incredibly easy to become absorbed in her prose.

When I first read the book’s description, I was concerned that it would end up being a female version of the hillbilly-rafting-trip-from-Hell movie: DELIVERANCE, but thankfully, that did not turn out to be true.

THE RIVER AT NIGHT is a heart-pounding, suspense filled, gem of a book. You will not be able to put it down. It pulls you in right from the first chapter and never lets you go.

My advice? Clear your calendar for a full 24 hours, grab a copy of this book and get comfy. You won’t regret it.


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

 

Simon & Schuster has published a Reader’s Guide for this book. It also contains information and sample questions for those who read this book with their own Book Club. To view the Reader’s Guide, CLICK HERE.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photograph by Kate Hannon


Erica Ferencik is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Boston University. Her work has appeared in Salon and The Boston Globe, as well as on National Public Radio.

To learn more about this amazing new author visit her online at any or all of the following links: 

PUBLISHER’S OFFICIAL AUTHOR PAGE  

 AUTHOR’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

TWITTER

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK  

BOY ROBOT – Simon Curtis’ debut novel will be released on October 25th – A terrific Young Adult character driven Sci-Fi. 4 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟 

Title: BOY ROBOT  

Series: BOOK ONE OF A PLANNED TRILOGY 

Author: SIMON CURTIS

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Genre: YOUNG ADULT, SCIENCE FICTION

Length: 432 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER TEEN 

Release Date: OCTOBER 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7564-8 

Price: $17.99 USD / $23.99 CAN

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Imagine losing your mother before you even had a chance to meet her because  she died giving birth to you.

Historically, women used to die in childbirth all the time, but with the advent of modern medicine, this has become a rare event. The fact that it doesn’t happen very often is no consolation to Isaak who ends up being raised by “parents” who show him not a single ounce of love.

He thought his life already sucked. Little did he know – it was about to get worse – much worse.

On the night of his eighteenth birthday, his life is changed forever.

Lying in bed trying to fight off the mother of all migraine headaches, a mysterious and incredibly strong girl tells him to come with her if he wants to live. (Yes, it sounds kind of like a knock off from a scene from the Terminator – but it is my opinion that she was trying to add a bit of levity to a terrifying situation.) Turns out she showed up just in time and the pair end up running for their lives.

Isaak has no idea what is happening. He has no enemies and can’t think of anyone who would want to hurt him – nevermind someone wanting him dead.

His savior is a girl named Azure and it is her that explains to him that they are both robots and that a highly trained, highly deadly, secret branch of the US government is hunting down and destroying any and all robots.

His only hope for survival is to reach the hidden, secret base of the Underground, which is a group of robots (and some humans) that are fighting back.

The way my description makes it sound, it seems like this book is a science fiction novel, which I guess it is, but really it is a story about the characters themselves.

The character development is excellent but the world building leaves much to be desired. I would have liked to have had more information about the resistance and it’s leaders. I am hoping that this information will be included in the next book in the trilogy. 

This book includes so many personal, moral and ethical issues that readers could literally discuss this book for hours before exhausting the different topics. This makes it especially perfect for book clubs.

Here is a list of just a few of the topics and issues that are included in this book:

* Death of a parent
* Child abuse – physical
* Child abuse – mental and emotional
* Puberty
* Teenage Angst
* Bullying
* The desire for acceptance
* The desire for love & connection
* Transgender youth
* Sexuality
* Confusion over sexual identity
* What is the definition of life?
* What makes you human? Is it biology or psychology?
* Moral dilemmas such as:
– Would you leave a friend behind to face certain death in order to save yourself?
– Would you be willing to kill to save yourself?

I could go on and on with the list, but I think you get the idea.

Overall I enjoyed this book and I think that Simon Curtis has done a terrific job on his debut novel. I give BOY ROBOT 4 out of 5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟 

  • Pre-Order online at AMAZON 


* I received a free copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  


SIMON CURTIS was born in Michigan and raisef in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was diagnosed with leukemia at age 10 and began performing in musical theater and opera that same year. He was the happiest bald, chemo-therapy-addled cancer patient ever seen on stage. At eighteen, he moved to L.A. After various roles on Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel, Simon left acting to pursue music, releasing his first album, 8bit Heart, as a free download, followed by his second album, RA, which landed at number 20 on Billboard’s Dance & Electronic Albums chart.

Simon continues to write and release music as an independent recording artist, and looks forward to his new chapter as an author. Above all else, he strives to inspire hope in young people.


BOY ROBOT is his first novel.

To learn more about this inspiring young man, visit the following links:

PUBLISHER OFFICIAL WEBSITE   

GOODREADS       

TWITTER  

INSTAGRAM   

SIMON’S MUSIC WEBSITE   

A Fictional Tale of A Korean Immigrant to Canada

image

Title: KAY’S LUCKY COIN VARIETY

Author: Ann Y.K. Choi

Type of Book: Ebook

Genre: Fiction, Canadian Fiction

Length: 288 pages

Publisher: Touchstone by Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 9781476748054

Price: Canadian Hardcover $29.99

Release Date: May 3, 2016

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

image

Upon reflection, after reading this book I realized that one of the reasons that I enjoyed this book so much was due to the author’s talent for reaching inside her readers hearts and minds and being able to relate to them.

I also loved that this story was set in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I truly enjoy reading books that contain “real” settings, especially settings that I can easily visualize in my head. Being born and raised in a small town north of Toronto, I have often visited many of the locations mentioned in the book.

I will never again be able to visit a Variety Store without thinking about this book and wondering about the lives of the people working behind the counter.

Visiting Korea for the first time since emigrating to Canada as a small child, Mary was shocked at what she saw. “[She] looked out at the endless rows of high-rise apartment buildings set against a dreary November sky. It made [her] claustrophobic. Were there any houses left in Seoul? This was not the Korea [she] remembered.” Reading this brought to mind the changes I have seen in my own hometown. Author Ann Choi uses very few words and yet is still able to evoke a sense of nostalgia in the reader for their own childhoods. That nostalgia is universal. It crosses gender and even racial lines. No matter who you are or where you grew up, your childhood home will always have a special (and usually rose-coloured) place in your memory.

What struck me the most about Mary’s visit “home” to Korea was that it was no longer her home. She felt like an outsider and was more comfortable in her adopted homeland of Canada. I loved that fact. It proves that immigrants who move to Canada become full-fledged Canadians and not just long-term visitors.

What people who discriminate against immigrants seem to forget is that we are all the products of immigration  (except members of the Aboriginal groups). It may have been a few generations since our ancestors moved to Canada, but they all came to Canada with the same goal as modern-day immigrants – the goal of a better life.

I have often heard that writers are told to “Write about what you know.” It is evident to me that Ann Y.K. Choi has followed this advice. Although I am unable to prove it, I believe that she has taken settings and scenes from her own life and fictionalized them to fit within her story. If this is not the case, then I am even more impressed since reading the story truly made me feel as if these characters were actual people and not just two dimensional fictional characters.

image

Collage by Michael Lyons

I enjoyed the story very much and I believe this book should be required reading for all adults. It is especially important reading material for anyone who seeks to understand the life of Canadian Korean immigrants.

The writing is fantastic. The characters are believable and realistic and the story is both interesting as well as absorbing. I rate KAY’S LUCKY COIN VARIETY as 5 out of 5 stars. 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

The Publisher has included a Reading Guide on their website which is a terrific companion guide to the book which can and will be perfect for those reading KAY’S LUCKY COIN VARIETY as part of a Book Club.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

image

Ann Y.K. Choi immigrated to Canada from Korea in 1975. She attended the University of Toronto where she studied English, Sociology, and Education. Ann has also graduated from the Humber School for Writers, the Creative Writing Certificate Program at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies, and is completing her MFA in Creative Writing from the National University in San Diego, California. In 2012, she received the Marina Nemat Award.

To learn more about Ann Y.K Choi visit her online.

Author Website

Publisher Website

Twitter

Goodreads

* Author Photo by John Burridge

5 Stars for THE BLACKTHORN KEY by Kevin Sands – BOOK REVIEW

  
Title: THE BLACKTHORN KEY

Author: Kevin Sands

Type of Book: Hardcover

Length: 371 pages

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction 

Release Date: September 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4651-8

Price: $17.99 U.S. / $21.99 Canada 

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 



~ I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. A review was not required, but it is appreciated. 

Wow! According to the publisher, this book is aimed at Middle Grade readers (ages 10-14) but I can easily see older young adult and adult readers absolutely loving this book, much as I did. 

I feel compelled to compare “The Blackthorn Key” to the Harry Potter series for a couple reasons. First, this book does not cater to kids of a lesser intelligence, nor does it patronize its readers. This book is aimed at articulate and intelligent readers who want a complex story with multiple plot twists and a smart but still likeable protagonist. Secondly, the lead character (Christopher Rowe) is extremely loyal and has a highly developed sense of right and wrong. Christopher has to make many choices throughout the book and he rarely jumps and makes rash decisions. When he needs to make a choice his sense of morality and loyalty to his master are factored into his decisions.

I love the choice of time and location, as well as the choice of apothecaries as central to the plot. Kids reading this book may not realize it, but they are being educated at the same time as they are being entertained. 

There is a King, a cult, baker’s and their sons with hidden talents (especially with rolling pins). There are orphans, beggars, noblemen and women. There are crazy people who talk to ghosts, corrupt officials, true friends, bitter enemies and even assassins. This book has it all. 

If you want a book that will both challenge and delight you, look no further than THE BLACKTHORN KEY. 

I cannot give this book anything other than a perfect 5 out of 5 Star rating. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

This book (if it isn’t already) is sure to make the bestseller lists. Christopher Rowe’s name may even come to be known on the same level as that of “Harry Potter” and Christopher’s friend Tom is the “Ron Weasley” of this historical world. 

I am hoping that the author plans to continue this series with many more tales of mystery, alchemy and adventure. I know I will be keeping my eye out for absolutely anything else that writer Kevin Sands publishes. 

It is hard for me to believe that this book is Kevin Sand’s debut novel. I am proud of the fact that this Canadian author has burst onto the literary scene with such a polished and professional work of fiction. 

This book needs to be on everyone’s MUST READ list. If you fail to buy this book you will definitely be missing out on an exquisitely crafted book. 

Watch a video preview of The Blackthorn Key
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

  
Since escaping from university with a pair of degrees in theoretical physics, Kevin Sands has worked as a researcher, a business consultant, and a teacher. He lives in Toronto, Canada. The Blackthorn Key is his first novel. – See more at: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Kevin-Sands/501383023#sthash.HXZ5oPcg.dpuf 



READ AN EXCERPT: 

The Blackthorn Key  

CHAPTER 1  

“LET’S BUILD A CANNON,” I said.

Tom wasn’t listening. He was deep in concentration, tongue pinched between his teeth, as he steeled himself for combat with the stuffed black bear that ruled the front corner of my master’s shop. Tom stripped off his linen shirt and flung it heroically across the antimony cups gleaming on the display table near the fire. From the oak shelf nearest to him, he snatched the glazed lid of an apothecary jar—Blackthorn’s Wart-Be-Gone, according to the scrawl on the label—and held it on guard, a miniature ceramic shield. In his right hand, the rolling pin wobbled threateningly.

Tom Bailey, son of William the Baker, was the finest fake soldier I’d ever seen. Though only two months older than me, he was already a foot taller, and built like a blacksmith, albeit a slightly pudgy one, due to a steady pilfering of his father’s pies. And in the safety of my master’s shop, away from the horrors of battle like death, pain, or even a mild scolding, Tom’s courage held no equal.

He glared at the inanimate bear. The floorboards creaked as he stepped within range of its wickedly curved claws. Tom shoved the curio cabinet aside, making the brass balances jingle. Then he hoisted his flour-dusted club in salute. The frozen beast roared back silently, inch-long teeth promising death. Or several minutes of tedious polishing, at least.

I sat on the counter at the back, legs dangling, and clicked leather heels against the carved cedar. I could be patient. You had to be, sometimes, with Tom, whose mind worked as it pleased.

“Think you can steal my sheep, Mr. Bear?” he said. “I’ll give you no quarter this day.” Suddenly, he stopped, rolling pin held outward in midlunge. I could almost see the clockwork cranking between his ears. “Wait. What?” He looked back at me, puzzled. “What did you say?”

“Let’s build a cannon,” I said.

“What does that mean?”

“Just what you think it means. You and me. Build a cannon. You know.” I spread my hands. “Boom?”

Tom frowned. “We can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because people can’t just build cannons, Christopher.” He said it like he was explaining why you shouldn’t eat fire to a small, dull child.

“But that’s where cannons come from,” I said. “People build them. You think God sends cannons down from heaven for Lent?”

“You know what I mean.”

I folded my arms. “I don’t understand why you’re not more excited about this.”

“Maybe that’s because you’re never the one on the pointy end of your schemes.”

“What schemes? I don’t have any schemes.”

“I spent all night throwing up that ‘strength potion’ you invented,” he said.

He did look a little dark under the eyes today. “Ah. Yes. Sorry.” I winced. “I think I put in too much black snail. It needed less snail.”

“What it needed was less Tom.”

“Don’t be such a baby,” I said. “Vomiting is good for you, anyway. It balances the humors.”

“I like my humors the way they are,” he said.

“But I have a recipe this time.” I grabbed the parchment I’d leaned against the coin scales on the countertop and waved it at him. “A real one. From Master Benedict.” 

“How can a cannon have a recipe?”

“Not the whole cannon. Just the gunpowder.”

Tom got very still. He scanned the jars around him, as if among the hundreds of potions, herbs, and powders that ringed the shop was a remedy that would somehow get him out of this. “That’s illegal.”

“Knowing a recipe isn’t illegal,” I said.

“Making it is.”

That was true. Only masters, and only those with a royal charter, were allowed to mix gunpowder. I was a long way from either.

“And Lord Ashcombe is on the streets today,” Tom said.

Now that made me pause. “You saw him?”

Tom nodded. “On Cheapside, after church. He had two of the King’s Men with him.”

“What’d he look like?”

“Mean.” 

“Mean” was exactly what I’d imagined. Lord Richard Ashcombe, Baron of Chillingham, was King Charles’s loyal general, and His Majesty’s Warden here in London. He was in the city hunting for a pack of killers. In the past four months, five men had been butchered in their homes. Each of them had been tied up, tortured, then slit open at the stomach and left to bleed to death. 

Three of the victims had been apothecaries, a fact that had me seeing assassins in the shadows every night. No one was sure what the killers wanted, but sending in Lord Ashcombe meant the king was serious about stopping them. Lord Ashcombe had a reputation for getting rid of men hostile to the Crown—usually by sticking their heads on pikes in the public square.

Still, we didn’t need to be that cautious. “Lord Ashcombe’s not coming here,” I said, as much to myself as to Tom. “We haven’t killed anyone. And the King’s Warden isn’t likely to stop by for a suppository, is he?”

“What about your master?” Tom said. 

“He doesn’t need a suppository.”

Tom made a face. “I mean, isn’t he coming back? It’s getting close to dinnertime.” He said “dinnertime” with a certain wistfulness.

“Master Benedict just bought the new edition of Culpeper’s herbal,” I said. “He’s at the coffeehouse with Hugh. They’ll be gone for ages.”

Tom pressed his ceramic shield to his chest. “This is a bad idea.”

I hopped down from the counter and grinned.

•  •  •

To be an apothecary, you must understand this: The recipe is everything.

It isn’t like baking a cake. The potions, creams, jellies, and powders Master Benedict made—with my help—required an incredibly delicate touch. A spoonful too little niter, a pinch too much aniseed, and your brilliant new remedy for dropsy would congeal instead into worthless green goo.

But new recipes didn’t fall from the sky. You had to discover them. This took weeks, months, even years of hard work. It cost a fortune, too: ingredients, apparatus, coal to stoke the fire, ice to chill the bath. Most of all, it was dangerous. Blazing fires. Molten metals. Elixirs that smelled sweet but ate away your insides. Tinctures that looked as harmless as water but threw off deadly, invisible fumes. With each new experiment, you gambled with your life. So a working formula was better than gold.

If you could read it.

↓M08→

02160911101825261310092611221315240322132410220710092611221315141607011613010417261122131514142207151126152613021304092514261122132215260720080419 

Tom scratched his cheek. “I thought there’d be more words and things.”

“It’s in code,” I said.

He sighed. “Why is it always in code?”

“Because other apothecaries will do anything to steal your secrets. When I have my own shop,” I said proudly, “I’m putting everything in code. No one’s going to swipe my recipes.”

“No one will want your recipes. Except poisoners, I suppose.”

“I said I was sorry.”

“Maybe this is in code,” Tom said, “because Master Benedict doesn’t want anyone to read it. And by ‘anyone,’ I mean you.” 

“He teaches me new ciphers every week.” 

“Did he teach you this one?”

“I’m sure he’d planned to.” 

“Christopher.”

“But I figured it out. Look.” I pointed at the notation ↓M08→. “It’s a substitution cipher. Every two numbers stand for one letter. This tells you how to swap them. Start with ‘08,’ and replace it with M. Then count forward. So 08 is M, 09 is N, and so on. Like this.” 

I showed him the table I’d worked out.

A=20, B=21, C=22, D=23, E=01, F=02, G=03, H=04, I=05, K=06, L=07, M=08, N=09, O=10, P=11, Q=12, R=13, S=14, T=15, V=16, X=17, Y=18, Z=19 

Tom looked between the cipher and the block of numbers at the top of the page. “So if you replace the numbers with the right letters . . .” 

“. . . You get your message.” I flipped the parchment over to show the translation I’d inked on the back.

Gunpowder

One part charcoal. One part sulfur. Five parts saltpeter.

Grind separately. Mix.

Which is what we did. We set up on the larger display table, farther from the fireplace, based on Tom’s reasonable suggestion that gunpowder and flames weren’t friends. Tom moved the bleeding spoons from the table and got the mortars and pestles from the window near the bear while I pulled the ingredient jars from the shelves.

I ground the charcoal. Sooty clouds puffed into the air, mixing with the earthy scent of the dried roots and herbs hanging from the rafters. Tom, glancing uneasily at the front door for any sign of my master, took care of the saltpeter, crushing the crystals that looked just like ordinary table salt. The sulfur was already a fine yellow powder, so while Tom swirled the ingredients together, I got a length of brass pipe sealed at one end from the workshop in the back. I used a nail to widen a hole near the sealed end. Into that, I slipped a loop of woven, ash-colored cord.

Tom raised his eyebrows. “Master Benedict keeps cannon fuse?”

“We use it to light things from far away,” I said.

“You know,” Tom said, “things you have to light from far away probably shouldn’t be lit at all.”

The mixture we ended up with looked harmless, just a fine black powder. Tom poured it into the open end while I propped up the pipe. A narrow stream spilled over the side, scattering charcoal grains onto the floor. I stamped the powder in the tube down with cotton wadding. 

“What are we going to use for a cannonball?” Tom said.

Master Benedict didn’t keep anything in the store that would fit snugly in the pipe. The best I could come up with was a handful of lead shot we used for shavings to put in our remedies. They scraped down the brass and landed with a hollow thump on the cotton at the bottom.

Now we needed a target, and soon. It had taken a lot longer to put everything together than I thought it would, and though I’d assured Tom that my master wouldn’t return, his comings and goings weren’t exactly predictable.

“We’re not firing this thing outside,” Tom said.

He was right about that. The neighbors would not look kindly on lead shot flying through their parlors. And as tempting a target as the stuffed beaver on the mantel was, Master Benedict was even less likely to appreciate us going to war with the animals that decorated his shop.

“What about that?” I said. Hanging from the ceiling near the fireplace was a small iron cauldron. “We can shoot at the bottom of it.” 

Tom pushed aside the antimony cups on the other table, leaving enough space to put down the cauldron. I picked up our cannon and pressed it against my abdomen to hold it steady. Tom tore a scrap of parchment from our deciphered recipe and held it in the fire until it caught. Then he lit the cannon’s wick. Sparks fizzed, racing toward the pipe like a flaming hornet. Tom dived behind the counter and peeked over the top.

“Watch this,” I said.

The blast nearly blew my ears off. I saw a burst of flame, and a mound of smoke, then the pipe kicked back like an angry ox and nailed me right between the legs.” 

By Kevin Sands 

5 Stars for THE GIRL WHO WANTED TO BE A PRINCESS by Bruce Lansky – BOOK REVIEW

 

 Title: THE GIRL WHO WANTED TO BE A PRINCESS

Series: NEWFANGLED FAIRY TALES

Author: BRUCE LANSKY

Type of Book: eBook

Length: 20 pages

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Fairy Tales

Target Readership: Ages 7-12, Grades 2-7

Release Date: March 11, 2014

Publisher: Meadowbrook Press – A Division of Simon and Schuster
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

~ I received a free copy of this book from www.SimonandSchuster.com It is also free on Amazon and in iBooks. ~

This book is from the “Newfangled Fairy Tales” series which is edited by Bruce Lansky. This series is a collection of revised fairy tales with new twists on older themes and even some modern characters. It includes the story of “…a beautiful princess who is put to sleep for 100 years because she is so cranky… and Hansel, who is so obsessed with candy that he steals Gretel’s piggy bank and runs off to the Old Witch’s Candy Factory.”

This series is suitable for both male and female children from the ages of 7 to 13. 

I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS BOOK! 

At only 20 pages it is a quick read and despite the fact that the target readership is children, this is also a great short tale for adults to enjoy as well. 

The main character is a ‘tweenage’ girl named Michelle Koszlowski. This girl is like many other girls her age and she is 100% believable. She lives “…with her parents and her bratty little brother, Donald, in a gray house with white shutters. The Koszlowski house looked just like all the other gray houses with white shutters on Maple Street in Sheboygan, Michigan.” Anyone who has ever visited (or lived in) modern day suburbia will recognize what Michelle’s house looks like. 

Michelle is very similar to some modern day tween girls I know. She doesn’t like her house; she thinks it’s too “ordinary”. She’s lazy, spoiled and feels like it is her right to have everything she wants given to her immediately. In short, she’s an annoying, spoiled brat.

Michelle wants to live the life of a Princess.

But, when her dream comes true, will Michelle be happy? You’ll have to read the story to find out.

Since this fairy tale is available free of charge courtesy of Simon and Schuster Publishing you have nothing to lose by giving this book a chance. If you have children that are between the ages of 7 and 13, you really should have them read this book. Or, better yet, sit and read it together. You will enjoy the story and its moral shines through and could open up a new topic to talk with your child about.

I rate this “Newfangled Fairy Tale” as 5 out of 5 stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR/EDITOR: 

  
Bruce Lansky has edited a number of poetry anthologies (including Rolling in the Aisles, Kids Pick the Funniest Poems, If Kids Ruled the School, A Bad Case of the Giggles, Miles of Smiles, and No More Homework! No More Tests!), and 3 silly songbook anthologies. Lansky created the popular GigglePoetry.com website for children and the PoetryTeachers.com website for teachers. He also created the Girls to the Rescue series, the New Fangled Fairy Tales series, and the Can You Solve the Mysteries series. 

Read Bruce’s biography here: 

http://www.meadowbrookpress.com/t/Bruce-Lansky 

Visit his Facebook page at https://m.facebook.com/bruce.lansky.3/