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

Title: CROSSING THE LINE

Author: BIBI BELFORD    

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

Length: 287 PAGES

Publisher: SKY PONY PRESS – An Imprint of SKYHORSE PUBLISHING

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Received From: PUBLISHER

Release Date: AUGUST 22, 2017  

ISBN: 978-1-5107-0800-6 

Price:  $15.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟  


DESCRIPTION:

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

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

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

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

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


MY REVIEW:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A white gang looking for Black victims

An African American being stoned during the race riots

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Teacher-turned-Author  

|  Literacy Advocate  |  

Educational Consultant

 Gardening Enthusiast 

 |  Writer-Mentor  

|  Admirer of Lighthouses

 | Kid’s-Fiction Writer

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

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

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

To learn more about this author visit the following links: 

OFFICIAL WEBSITE      

GOODREADS       

TWITTER       

FACEBOOK       

INSTAGRAM          

PINTEREST     

AMAZON


CHAPTERS


 

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: 

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

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

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



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

Title: VANGUARD    

Series: RAZORLAND – BOOK FOUR

Author: ANN AGUIRRE      

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

Length: 368 PAGES

Publisher: MACMILLAN CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING GROUP      

Type of Book: EBOOK

Received From: NETGALLEY 

Release Date: JULY 25, 2017

ISBN: 9781250089823 (HARDCOVER)

Price: $17.99 USD (HARDCOVER)

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟

  


DESCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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


THE MORAL OF THE STORY:  

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



MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Author Photograph and description obtained from her website.

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

To learn more about this author visit the following links: 

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

GOODREADS       

FACEBOOK     

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AMAZON      

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BARNES & NOBLE  

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STARBORN by Lucy Hounsom may just be one of the best YA Fantasy books to be published in the past few years. A 5 Star Read that will appeal to everyone 16 and up.

Title: STARBORN     

Series: THE WORLDMAKER TRILOGY: BOOK ONE    

Author: LUCY HOUNSOM 

Genre: FANTASY FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, NEW RELEASE /COMING SOON 

Length: 544 PAGES

Publisher: TOR – An Imprint of MACMILLAN PUBLISHERS LTD    
Type of Book: EBOOK

Received From: NETGALLEY   

Release Date: AUGUST 24TH, 2019 

ISBN: 978-1-4472-6845-1 (Hardcover)   

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟    

MY REVIEW:     

Firstly, I need to address the title of this book. If you are the type of person to judge a book by its cover, (everyone does this at least to some degree) you will miss out on a phenomenal book. The cover and title tend to make potential readers think this book will be about outer space and will be a sci-fi novel, however, this is not the case. Starborn is a perfect example of fantasy fiction at its finest.

I literally devoured this book. The characters are so vividly described that a picture of each of them immediately formed in my mind. Not only that, but each character has a fully imagined history that further fleshes out their believability.

This is the first book in the WorldMaker trilogy and even though this book hasn’t been released in North America yet, I am already wishing that I could get my hands on the next book in the series. I believe not only that this book is destined to become a Bestseller, but that it will also be optioned for it’s film rights.

This story has just the right amount of betrayal and dedication, fantasy, magic, history, romance, frustration,  ingenuity and truly astounding world-building which all combine to create a surefire winning combination.

Not since the Harry Potter series, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hunger Games trilogy have I encountered an author with the ability to so seamlessly craft a complex epic tale of right and wrong, of good and evil and with the ability to build an entire world from nothing but their own imagination. The name of Lucy Hounsom will soon be on the lips of North American readers and publishers all over the continent, and rightly so. 

I highly recommend this book to both youth and to adults who love epic adventure stories.

This book will grab your attention from the first page and it will not let go. It is because of its ability to entrance the reader and because of the author’s incredible world-building, that I have no choice but to rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟  

My recommendation is to mark your calendars for August 24th and grab your copy right away since this amazing book is bound to sell out quickly.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (In Her Own Words):   

* obtained from her website
* Author Photos by LOU ABERCROMBIE

I live in the hilly, red shores of the Jurassic Coast. It’s a beautiful, mysterious part of the country (U.K.), steeped in myth and folklore. And so unsurprisingly, it’s a perfect place in which to make up stories.

In the vein of most writers, I’ve been making up stories for a long time. I grew up in the tamer neighbourhood of the Thames Valley, where I used to think I’d be an actor. I attended theatre school for six years, worked professionally on stage and screen and took an awful lot of dancing exams. That changed when I hit 15. I was writing a novel (like most normal teenagers), and quite randomly thought: wouldn’t it be cool to do this all the time?  

I’ve always loved books, perhaps because my parents read so much to us as children. Dad favoured classics like The Day of the Triffids andHothouse, which – though possibly a bit advanced for under 10s – exposed us both to a multitude of words. (Yes, my sister’s a writer too). But the books that really stayed with me were J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

I am irrevocably drawn to fantasy. As an unsociable teenage misfit, I read mountains of it. Growing up, some of my favourite writers were Robin Hobb, the three Terrys (Brooks, Goodkind and Pratchett), Robert Jordan, Patricia A. McKillip, Ursula Le Guin, David Eddings and Alan Garner. J. K. Rowling holds a special place in my heart for all those summer evenings I spent re-reading Harry Potter, wishing for adventures at Hogwarts.

That first novel still exists on my hard drive, quietly embarrassing me, but despite its flaws, I’m glad I wrote it. Working on the principle that if you’ve done something once, you can do it again, I studied creative writing at university for four years in the hope that I’d be better prepared the second time around. Creating something as vast and complex as a novel is fun, terrifying, exciting, torturous and pretty much every emotion in between. 

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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

Title: LOVE-ISH    

Author: KAREN RIVERS     

Genre: MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

Length: 236 PAGES

Publisher: DANCING CAT BOOKS   

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: THE AUTHOR  

Release Date: APRIL 22, 2017 

ISBN: 978-1-77086-492-4   

Price: $12.95 CDN    

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

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

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


MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE QUOTES:

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


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


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


***** CAUTION *****


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


[To learn more about childhood cancers click 
HERE]

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

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

Q & A About Karen Rivers

Where were you born?

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

Where do you live?

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

Where did you go to school?

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

Why did you become a writer?

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

Where do you get your titles?

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

What were you like when you were a kid?

Karen at age 10

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

What’s your favourite book for kids?

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

Are you married?

No.

Do you have any pets?

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

Do you write every day?

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

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

What’s your favourite of your books?

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

What’s your favourite colour?

Green.

Lucky numbers?

3. And 14.  And, of course, 42.

Favourite ice cream?

Coconut


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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

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CHAPTERS    

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Although this book is targeted at young adults and middle-grade readers, I believe that Canadians of all ages will enjoy this short, but informative book about our 9th Prime Minister. 4 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Title: ARTHUR MEIGHEN: A WAY WITH WORDS     

Subtitle: THE STORY OF CANADA’S 9th PRIME MINISTER      

Author: RODERICK BENNS    
Genre: NON-FICTION, MIDDLE-GRADE     

Length: 78 PAGES

Publisher: FIRESIDE PUBLISHING HOUSE     

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: I received a free copy of this book from the Publisher.

Release Date: 2012

ISBN: 9781539538158     

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟  

Although this book is targeted at young adults and middle-grade readers, I believe that Canadians of all ages will enjoy this short, but informative book about our 9th Prime Minister.

Historians called Arthur Meighen  (pronounced Mee-an) ‘arrogant’ a ‘heroic failure’ and the prime minister ‘who might have been’ … Yet in all of Canadian history, Meighen had no equal when it came to public speaking.”

The subject matter of this book is something that could have become a very boring read, but author Roderick Benns includes many funny anecdotes and “cool” facts about Arthur Meighen and his childhood which will help to capture and hold a child’s  (and an adult’s) attention.

For example, when describing what Arthur was like, the author tells us that “…Meighen seemed to have no fashion sense at all and was absent minded whhen it came to everyday things. For instance, he once appeared in the House of Commons still wearing his bedroom slippers.”

I am ashamed to admit that prior to reading this book, I could not have told you who our 9th Prime Minister was, nor would I have reacted at all had someone said the name “Arthur Meighen.” I believe this is probably true of the vast majority of Canadians today (excluding those whose post-secondary education  focused on either politics or Canadian history.) This is a major flaw in our education system.

I give kudos to FIRESIDE PUBLISHING HOUSE for creating not only this book, but also an entire line of Middle-grade books focused on our past Prime Ministers. I am thrilled that because of this patriotic publishing house, our next generation may feel more connected to Canada’s past than the current generation seems to.

This year is Canada’s 150th Birthday which makes it the perfect time to buy these books and to share them with your children. I highly recommend this book and will be reading and reviewing more books in the series very soon.

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

* I received a free copy of this book from the Publisher but this in no way influenced my review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
RODERICK BENNS:

Roderick Benns is an award-winning author and journalist. He is the author of The Mystery of the Moonlight Murder: An Early Adventure of John Diefenbaker and The Legends of Lake on the Mountain: An Early Adventure of John A. Macdonald.

He has interviewed former Prime Ministers of Canada, Ministers, and Senators, and has written for The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and National Post. Roderick is a sought-after speaker on Canada’s history and its Prime Ministers.

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

Title: ON BLACKBERRY HILL 

Author: RACHEL MANN 

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

Length: 194 PAGES

Publisher: SELF-PUBLISHED

Release Date: 2016

ISBN: 9781535262910

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Awards Won: National Jewish Book Award Winner      


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 


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

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ZENN DIAGRAM by Wendy Brant will pull you in and won’t let you go. A 5 Star Must Read Book!

Title: ZENN DIAGRAM

Author: WENDY BRANT       

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION

Length: 328 PAGES

Publisher: KIDS CAN PRESS 

Release Date: APRIL 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-792-7 Hardcover

List Price: USD $17.95, CAD $18.95

Grades: 9 To 12 / Ages: 14 to 18  

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟   

Unique. Utterly readable, with awesome characters and a guy that teen girls will have crushes on. Zenn is the latest book-boyfriend of choice.

Eva Walker’s life is unlike anyone elses. She is a loner, a math nerd, an orphan and she feels like a freak. Out of all these labels, the most significant one is Eva’s loner status.

You would think the math nerd status would be the reason she was a loner – not so. Eva is a loner by choice. Why? Well, she has a gift (curse?) Anytime Eva touches someone, or even touches someone’s property, such as a cell phone, she immediately knows all about them – including their secrets and their fears.

Now, some may think that this would be an amazing gift to have, but it never turns off. Imagine going on a date and having to listen to the guy’s dirty thoughts about you the entire time you’re with him. Yuck!

The only time that Eva is thankful for this strange ability is when she is tutoring someone in math. She just has to touch their calculator and she knows exactly what they are struggling with. This makes her an excellent tutor. It is through her tutoring that she meets Zenn.

When she is assigned to tutor Zenn Bennett, she is nervous. Who wouldn’t be? Zenn is absolutely gorgeous and he does it without even trying.

When she accidentally touches Zenn’s jacket she is rocked by what she sees. The violence of the vision is like nothing she has ever seen or felt before.

Eva must decide whether or not to confront Zenn and the horrifying vision or whether to keep it to herself and stay safe; but alone.

This novel has so many twists and turns that readers will never be bored and they will not want to put this book down.

There is romance, there is tragedy, there is guilt, remorse, fear and mystery. This book has it all.

Author Wendy Brant has written a young adult novel that will suck you in from the very first chapter. Both her world-building and her character development are top notch.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in a single sitting. I must warn potential readers that once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop, so you should make sure you set aside some time to curl up with this fantastic book.

I rate ZENN DIAGRAM as 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: (In Her Own Words):

So my name alone should give you a clue that I graduated from high school when bangs were big and clothes were baggy. I went to Northwestern University and majored in journalism even though I had no desire to be a journalist. I’ve been married to a great guy for a whole drinking-aged person’s life. I’ve got two amazing and yet very different (and very tall) teenage kids. I like crappy food, pinning inspirational quotes on Pinterest, have a tendency to start paragraphs with “anyway”, and I wish I were funnier. I would love to be one of those really, REALLY funny bloggers (like Insane in the Mom-Brain) that makes you pee yourself a little bit. I am only moderately funny. I admit that. It’s one of my great sadnesses in life.

​​I started writing fiction when I was 10, but tried to be practical with the whole journalism thing. Didn’t take. Shortly after college, the fiction-writing desire reared its non-practical head and I’ve been writing ever since.

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A New MUST READ Young Adult novel that will have adult readers fondly thinking about growing up in the 80s. THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is available now!


 
Title: THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS

Author: JASON REKULAK     

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION  (THE 1980s)

Length: 285 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER 

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: SIMON AND SCHUSTER through the Goodreads Giveaway program

Cover Design: WILL STAHLE

Release Date: FEBRUARY 7, 2017

ISBN: 9781501166839

Rating:   5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟     

  

I LOVED THIS BOOK. Although THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is targeted at young adult readers, anyone who, like me, grew up in the 1980s will find this book a trip down memory lane.

Jason Rekulak may be a debut author, but it is obvious that his years working as an editor for Quark Books embued him with an excellent sense of the proper balance between the plot and character development.

Will Marvin and his two best friends are the ultimate underdogs. It’s 1986 and Vanna White is the ultimate girl next door. When the boys learn that she is featured in Playboy magazine, they are determined to get copies.

Will is a nerd. I can relate. I remember taking classes in Basic Code and doing anything on a computer took hours and hours of entering programming code. But, Will loves it. Hos ultimate life goal is to design video games for a living.

Then he meets Mary Zelinsky. She is a computer nerd too. Will is stunned. He had no idea that there were girls who liked computers. Remember – this was the 80s and women were still battling the secretary stereotype.

Can Will get the girl, perfect his video game called The Impossible Fortress, and get his hands on the dirty pictures of Vanna White?

This novel will have adult readers waxing nostalgic for the less complicated days of their youth and both adults and young adults alike will be able to relate to the terror and elation of discovering the opposite sex for the first time.

THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is liberally sprinkled with pop culture references and readers will find themselves digging out their old mixed-tapes.

I absolutely loved this book and I will be recommending it to all my friends. I doubt this is the last we have heard from debut author Jason Rekulak and I, for one, can’t wait to read whatever he comes up with next.

I rate this book with an enthusiastic 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Now, I’m off to my basement to try to find my old Atari system. I can’t wait to play Space Invaders – old school style.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 

JASON REKULAK was born and raised in New Jersey. He has worked for many years at Quirk Books, where he edits a variety of fiction and non-fiction.

He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two children. THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is his first novel.

To learn more and to play a version of The Impossible Fortress game, visit his website.

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BEAUTY of the BEAST by Rachel L. Demeter RELEASE BLITZ & GIVEAWAY – NOW LIVE 

Beauty of the Beast

by Rachel L. Demeter

Fairy Tale Retellings, #1

Publication Date: March 15, 2017

Genres: Historical Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling, Gothic Romance, Adult


🌹 Special $2.99 sale price through March 19th 🌹

🌹 Buy 🌹


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🌹 Book Blurb 🌹

Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.

A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST

Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.

A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE

Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…

Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.

Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

Disclaimer: This is an edgy retelling of the classic fairy tale. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

🎬 Book Trailer 🎬

🌹 Excerpt 🌹

~ Isabelle bravely takes her papa’s place ~

Quite a while later, as Isabelle relaxed and soaked in the hearth’s warmth, she found herself nodding off to sleep.

Her mind detached from the stress of the past few days and receded to another time and place. She recalled her journeys with Papa when she’d been little more than a girl. All the villages they’d passed through; all the faces they’d seen. She thought of reading fairy tales beneath a bejeweled sky, of leaning against a mountain of crates as Papa pointed out the constellations and their eternal stories—

Rattling seized her attention and ruptured her thoughts. She peered at Papa, who was carefully examining his teacup. Not with his sightless eyes, of course—but with wandering fingertips. The same impressive coat of arms engraved the fine proclaim; Papa ran his weathered fingers over its surface, clearly in awe of the raised gold decorations and studded gems. The thing must have cost a small fortune. Indeed, she’d never beheld such finery. Even the wares Papa had once sold paled in comparison. The faded brim of his top hat hung low and covered his glassy eyes.

Then her mouth went dry as he slipped the teacup inside his coat.

Has he gone mad—or simply grown that desperate? It was completely unlike Papa to steal. How could he—and after being shown hospitality?

Her outcry startled him. He half leapt from the chair—and Isabelle watched in horror as the teacup tumbled out from the coat. It rattled and rolled onto the stone ground, shattering into a million pieces.

A gloved hand broke through the darkness, quicker than a lightning strike. The hooded figure emerged from the shadows and seized Papa by his cravat. His other hand clasped a branch of flickering candles. The illumination flashed across the dark folds of his cloak, soaking him in a pool of light.

“Stealing from me, are you? Breaking my family’s keepsakes?” A sharp jerk forced Papa to his feet. The rough movement sent the top hat tumbling from his head and onto the stone floor. Papa’s waxen features melted into an expression of horror and confusion.

Her heart pounding, Isabelle lunged forward and frantically cried out, “Let him alone! It was an accident. Don’t you see that you’re frightening him?”

“Good.” The simple declaration threw Isabelle into stunned silence. Papa called out for her as the man strode from the sitting room, his solid legs eating up the ground in swift, decisive strides. Mon Dieu, he was physically dragging Papa through the castle.

This isn’t happening. It cannot be…

“Stop it! Stop it now—you monster!” Isabelle picked up her skirts and frantically chased after them. Parts of the castle were dark and unkempt, causing her to trip several times over wayward pieces of furniture. Her heart violently pounded in her ears. The man moved impressively fast; between his agile stride and sweeping cloak, he almost appeared to float through the corridors. Plopping onto the stone floor, his dog gave up trying to keep pace. Dust motes rose and fell in midair like ashes, obscuring her vision. She followed the branch’s illumination, watching as the candlelight threw prisms along the walls and floor.

“Please, monsieur. Have mercy, I beg you! He didn’t know any better. He’s not in his right mind. He would never—”

“No one steals from me.” His low voice echoed in the darkness, steady as a war drum.

Isabelle felt herself descending. She ducked as she crossed a low archway, where she was met with a steep flight of stairs. A mouth into Hell. The ceiling lurked unusually low and was strung with cobwebs. Isabelle hiked up her skirts, which were now a filthy mess, and raced down the decayed steps. The hooded figure kept a swift pace while she desperately pursued Papa’s frightened cries.

Plagued by the darkness, Isabelle tripped and crashed down the stone steps. Pain cascaded through her body, knocking the breath from her lungs. Her skinned knees and elbows throbbed, her heart pounded, her head burned. She spared a moment to catch her breath as she struggled to her feet and resumed her vain quest. Papa’s muffled pleas and the sound of slamming bars ripped at her very soul.

The dank dungeon was nearly black. She slowed her pace, moving toward a beam of light at the far end. Rats the size of kittens scurried across the stone floor and filled the darkness with their terrible squeaking. Her heart thudding, Isabelle rushed through the maze of cells, following Papa’s voice and that flickering light. Chains and crude-looking objects littered the ground—torture devices from a past age, she realized with a shudder.

She found them.

Papa was grasping the rusted bars; disoriented and frightened, he was murmuring incoherent pleas. Tears fell from his sightless eyes, though Isabelle knew he fought to restrain them. The branch of candles sat in front of the cell, its wavering light illuminating his terrified expression.

“Forgive me. I have wronged you when you showed my daughter and me hospitality and mercy. Please, monsieur!”

The man towered before him, silent and still. His long arms remaining crossed, he stood with his lean torso straighter than a broadsword. His hood was drawn back, though Isabelle couldn’t see his face from her angle.

“Papa, I’m here,” she said beneath the weight of a strained breath.

“I-Isabelle?”

Not sparing a moment, she dashed over to the cell—and the man slowly rotated into sight.

Except he resembled more of a beast than any man she’d ever seen.

Isabelle clamped both hands over her mouth and forced her eyes away. The sight burned—and the inferno in his gaze only kindled that fire.

Half of his face looked monstrously twisted; charred mounds of puckered flesh distorted the features beyond any recognition, draining him of all traces of humanity. Those heaps of burned, leather-like skin gleamed and glistened in the candlelight. His hairline receded on the left side of his face and slanted high above a shriveled ear.

Under the severe scarring, his age was more or less indistinguishable—though Isabelle guessed he wasn’t a day under thirty-five.

But his eyes were breathtaking. Two brilliant sapphires. There was also a great sadness and anger in those eyes, as if he’d suffered more than his share of original sin. Alas, as she gazed into his eyes, all she saw was blue ice—an endless, arctic landscape of cold desolation.

The man turned away, appearing greatly affected by her stare, and hastily rearranged the hood. His scarred hands trembled as he smoothed down the cloak’s thick folds.

“Release him,” she demanded. “He didn’t mean any harm. I—”

“No one meddles with my family’s possessions. He can rot down here as my prisoner. He ought to count himself fortunate that I haven’t taken his hand.”

“Your prisoner? This… this is a mistake! You must believe me. He’d never—”

A deep, husky chuckle cut through her plea. “Even so.”

“Please. Just let him out.”

“It’s too late for that.” Those words seemed to speak volumes. He exhaled a long breath, and Isabelle watched as it unfurled against the darkness in a cloud.

Silence.

“Why… why are you so angry? Why must you be so hateful? So cruel?”

“If I let him go,” he said at length, “what can you offer in return?” Isabelle couldn’t find her tongue. She wandered directly in front of the cell, almost in a lucid trance, and clasped the cold bars. Papa was huddled in the corner now, coughing and shivering. Guilt, unlike anything she’d known before, pulsated through her.

I’m to blame for this. And if Papa stays here, he’ll die well within a fortnight, likely much sooner…

“Get out of my sight.” The man’s voice jarred Isabelle from her inward stupor. She turned to him and stepped forward, raising her chin at a defiant angle.

I am not so easily broken or frightened.

I am a survivor.

She scanned her empty, dank surroundings: the cold stone walls, sweeping cobwebs, and blazing branch of candles. Despair encased her. Stark emptiness. She dared to step closer while a faint trace of pity bloomed inside her heart.

They stood centimeters apart. Heat radiated from the man’s body, surrounding her, immersing her. Isabelle vainly searched for softness him, but only a dark, embittered spirit reached her. She stared up at his towering frame and gestured for him to bow forward. He hesitated, then did as she commanded. Her hands shook, damn her, as she peeled back his hood and met that piercing gaze again.

Half of his face was handsome—devastatingly so. In her twenty-two years of life, she’d never beheld such haunting beauty.

Jet‑black waves, rich and flowing, framed the chiseled lines of his startling features. Stubble peppered the strong curve of his jawline and shadowed a smooth, sculpted cheekbone. The right side of his face was striking, beautiful—a stark contrast to its wrecked counterpart. And within those patrician angles and intense eyes, she encountered his humanity.

His was a face of inconsistencies. Complex. Damaged. Predatory. And more than a bit intriguing.

“I will stay with you,” she heard herself whisper. “In my father’s place.”

“Isabelle—no! I forbid it!”

The man folded long, strong arms across his broad chest. His gaze crawled down her face and settled on the rise of her breasts—planting directly on her silver cross.

“I demand he’s seen by the finest of physicians.”

“Isabelle! Listen to me! I’m an old man. I’m dying. I—”

The man’s dark, strangely erotic voice cut through the cellar, and his eyes whipped back to her own with a startling force. “As my mistress.”

“What?”

“You must stay here as my mistress. For as long as I demand. Perhaps forever.”

Forever.

The word rang with a note of finality.

“Please, Isabelle! I beg you. Don’t do this!”

How could I endure it?

“Do as I say and your father shall safely return home.” He waved his cloaked arms with a magician’s delicate grace. “Your father—whatever family you may have—shall want for nothing. A house, clothing, anything they require. You only need to say the word. Your father will be under my protection—under the care of nurses and physicians—until his last breath.”

Isabelle briefly recalled what—and who—was waiting for her back in Ruillé. This fate wouldn’t be much worse. This desolate castle could serve as the perfect hideout. Papa would live in France, free from Raphael’s clutches and in the hands of the world’s greatest physicians…

“How… how can I trust you?” And does he even have the wealth to uphold such a promise?

“You cannot.”

She had faith Papa would send help once his health recovered. Or she’d find a way out, means of escape. In the interim, she would survive this grim castle and whatever horrors it concealed.

Papa would not. The castle would crush him beneath its dark heel in a matter of days.

Isabelle glanced at Papa again, then stared into the man’s brilliant eyes. There, lurking within those expressive depths, she found the softness she’d pursued minutes before.  

She sucked in her breath and nodded her agreement.

“It is done.” The man swept backward. “He’s to remain down here till first light. Then our agreement shall be carried out. In the meantime, I will bring blankets and food—”

“But it’s so cold! He—”

“Stole from me while he was a guest in my castle.”

He would not compromise. That much was certain.

“I demand to stay with him.”

“As you please.” He unlocked the cell. “Beyond the dungeon lies a labyrinth. Try to escape, and you’ll be lost forever.”

He tapped the wall with his booted heel. It swiveled, spun, and rotated, sweeping her captor to the other side…

🌹 Excerpt 🌹

~ Adam gives Isabelle his library ~

“Close your eyes, ma belle.”

Strong hands cupped either side of her face. She felt as Adam’s thumbs tentatively brushed back and forth, stroking her cheeks in reverent caresses. Isabelle shut her eyes and slipped beneath his spell… leaned closer in the darkness until they stood heartbeat to heartbeat. The warmth of his breaths teased her hairline, bringing with them a minty scent. His thumbs descended to just below her chin. She lowered her face… felt a featherlight kiss land on her brow. It happened so subtly and gently—Isabelle wasn’t sure whether she’d imagined it.

She was allowing herself to feel too much. A stab of guilt penetrated her chest as her thoughts crept inward. Yet instincts told her to trust in her gut—to allow her heart to speak over her tumultuous thoughts. So she shoved away her guilt and allowed herself to simply feel.

Pounding footfalls echoed in the room, attesting to its sheer size. Isabelle waited in anticipation under the veil of darkness, her small hands knotted in Stranger’s wiry coat. The steady beat of Adam’s boots floated away from her. A loud whipping noise and a burst of light illuminated the room as he tugged a heavy damask curtain aside.

“Open your eyes, Isabelle.”

She did as he commanded. Shafts of sunlight tore inside, dancing across the marble floor in blaring prisms—though the darkness still obstructed the room’s contents. Isabelle’s imagination soared as she fantasized about what lay in those clotted shadows. Pale light fringed Adam’s formidable shape, contrasting his silhouette against the dim atmosphere.

He paused in front of the opened window and folded both arms behind his ramrod-straight back. Isabelle gazed at the line of his body, unable to tear her eyes away. Indeed, light from the window set him aglow, shrouding him in a cloak of gold. He wore black trousers and a white silk shirt, which fluttered lightly when he moved. Over the past several days, he’d made a habit of abandoning the cloak and hood. Isabelle had become accustomed to the mismatched sides of his face; where she once felt horror and revulsion, she now tingled with curiosity and budding admiration. Alas, the only true revulsion that remained was the memory of that night…

Adam was an undeniably prideful man, and she knew he’d only scorn her pity. Even his stance exuded a sense of importance and authority. Strange, how he was so often shy and almost childlike; then, as if by a flip of a coin, he’d turn regal, confident. It was as though he was battling two separate halves… as if an intricate part of himself kept fighting to emerge.

Not unlike the two contrasting sides of his face, Isabelle mused.

For a suspended moment, he stood in front of the conservatory window, his scarred hands planted on his lean hips as he surveyed the distant gardens. Then he crossed the room, his footfalls amplified by the medallion flooring, and thrust open another curtain.

Whoosh. Light flooded the space and chased away the shadows, and the room’s contents were ushered into view.

Isabelle nearly lost her breath at the sight.

It was a beautiful library—the most stunning sight she’d ever beheld. Ornate, intricately carved shelves towered against the painted walls and reached for a gilded ceiling. A baroque chandelier hung in the heart of the room; its crystals sparkled like diamonds as they drank in morning’s light. Isabelle fought to temper her racing heart as she gaped at the sweeping shelves. An intimate reading nook lined a curved window; lush pillows decorated the chaise, and a brass candelabra towered beside it.

In all her life, she’d never seen so many books. There were far too many to count. Too many books to read in one lifetime. Isabelle couldn’t help but think of the little storekeeper from Ruillé’s bookshop; she imagined his astonishment, how his bushy white brows would rise at the sight of Adam’s vast library. He’d run his wrinkled fingertips over the bindings and spines, reverently caressing each one. Her heart twisted with nostalgia at the thought of her former home. Once Raphael had entered her life, however, Ruillé had transformed into a prison.

This castle should have been just that. A jail cell. Yet she’d never felt more free than in that moment.

The library was larger than her whole cottage; several book-filled rooms connected to it, each one built with floor-to-ceiling shelves. Three sliding ladders were nestled against the circular walls, soaring to the very top of the domed ceiling.

She spun on her heels, twirling in place—watching as the immense collection flurried by in a fantastic mosaic of colorful spines and intricate woodwork.

Her eyes planted on Adam, who stood in front of the large row of glowing, arched windows. His arms were still folded behind his body, his sleek back straighter than an arrow. She couldn’t find her voice, couldn’t move forward, although she ached to reach out and embrace his solid body.

How would it feel to be enveloped inside that commanding strength?

A devastating smile spread across his misshapen features and cut her thought short. He ran a shaky hand through his hair, which was highlighted by the sun’s rays, and then hesitantly strode toward her. His boots rapped against the floor, and the sound swelled through the library. Stranger barked as he approached, the loud noise echoing in the room and jarring Isabelle from her trance.

“Do… do you like it?”

Finally he stood before her, silent and still. Isabelle inhaled a long breath, then laid her palm on the left side of his face. Her fingertips danced over the raised ridges and welts, the reddish scars and shriveled ear. His eyes shuttered closed, and she felt a shudder rake through his tense body.

“Yes. I love it.” And I’m starting to fall in love with you, too…

 

🌹 Meet the Author 🌹

Rachel L. Demeter lives in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, her goofy lowland sheepdog, and her high school sweetheart of fourteen years. She enjoys writing poignant romances that challenge the reader’s emotions and explore the redeeming power of love.

Imagining dynamic worlds and characters has been Rachel’s passion for longer than she can remember. Before learning how to read or write, she would dictate stories while her mother would record them for her. She holds a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances. Whether crafting the protagonist or antagonist, she ensures every character is given a soul.

Rachel endeavors to defy conventions by blending elements of romance, suspense, and horror. Some themes her stories never stray too far from: forbidden romance, soul mates, the power of love to redeem, mend all wounds, and triumph over darkness.

Her dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through her words.

Don’t be a stranger! Rachel loves to connect and interact with her readers:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter | Amazon Author Profile | Instagram

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‘THE MAGICIANS’ BOOK ONE – BLOG TOUR by Christopher Hansen and J.R. Fehr 

About the Books:

The Magician’s Workshop, Volume One



Authors: Christopher Hansen, J.R. Fehr

Published by: Wondertale, California

Publication Date: November 8, 2016

ISBN: 1-945353-11-2

ASIN: B01MQGHGBH

Genre: Coming of Age, Fantasy, Magic

Ages: 12 and up.

Length: 85,000 words / 290 pages
Book Links:

Amazon * Goodreads
Synopsis:

Everyone in the islands of O’Ceea has a magical ability: whatever they imagine can be brought into existence. Whoever becomes a master over these powers is granted the title of magician and is given fame, power, riches, and glory. This volume of books follows the journey of a group of kids as they strive to rise to the top and become members of the Magician’s Workshop.

Layauna desperately wants to create beautiful things with her magical powers, but all she can seem to do is make horrible, savage monsters. For years she has tried to hide her creations, but when her power is at last discovered by a great magician, she realizes that what she’s tried to hide might actually be of tremendous value.

Kai just wants to use his powers to have fun and play with his friends. Unfortunately, nearly everyone on his island sees him as a bad influence, so he’s forced to meet them in secret. When one of the creatures they create gets out of control and starts flinging fireballs at their town, Kai is tempted to believe that he is as nefarious as people say. However, his prospects change when two mysterious visitors arrive, praising his ability and making extraordinary promises about his future.

Follow the adventures of Kai, Layauna, and a boatload of other characters as they struggle to grow up well in this fantastical world.

The Magician’s Workshop, Volume Two

Authors: Christopher Hansen, J.R. Fehr

Print Length: 273 pages

Publisher: Wondertale

Publication Date: November 22, 2016

ASIN: B01N988TW7

Genre: Coming of Age, Fantasy, Magic

Ages: 12 and up.
Book Links:

Amazon * Goodreads

Synopsis:

Return to the world of The Magician’s Workshop: Where Dreams Become Reality.

In Volume Two, the Festival of Stars has finally arrived, and the Color Ceremony is about to commence. As children from all over the islands gather to stand before a puller, one question remains: who will have a Color, and who will be found void?

Rejoin your favorite characters as they step forward and receive a label that will have the power to dramatically alter the course of their lives forever.


About the Authors:

Christopher Hansen

The first glimmering Chris Hansen had that there was far more to reality than he had ever imagined occurred six days after his ninth birthday. “Christopher!” cried a wise, old sage. “Life is full of deep magic. Miraculous things happen all the time and all around us, if you know where to look for them.” Full of expectation and childlike optimism, Chris began searching for this magic, prepared to be surprised and amazed by it. And he was: he found Wonder! Now he’s chosen to write stories about it.

J.R. Fehr

When J.R. Fehr popped out of the womb, he knew there was more to the world than the four boring hospital walls that he was seeing. “Zango!” his newborn mind exclaimed as he saw people appear and disappear through a mysterious portal in the wall. As a child he found life wowtazzling, but as he grew older the cold water of reality hit him, and the magic he once knew vanished. After spending some wet and shivering years lost in a joyless wasteland, he once again began to see magic in the world. He writes because the Wonder of true life is far grander than anything he ever thought possible.

Contact the Authors:

Website * Facebook