JOHN CARPENTER’S STORM KIDS: SACRED HEARTS is a fabulous Young Adult horror themed graphic novel with an important underlying message 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ COMING SOON

Back Cover

Title: SACRED HEARTS  

Series: JOHN CARPENTER PRESENTS STORM KIDS: BOOK FOUR

Author: STEVE NILES

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

Length: 152 PAGES

Publisher: STORM KING COMICS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JULY 27, 2021

ISBN: 9781734389104

Price: $23.99 USD (PAPERBACK)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

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

The Franklin Farm

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

Building the fort

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

MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

The Sheriff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE CREATORS:

A Note From the Publisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A 5 STAR YA Graphic Novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

NO ONE DIES IN THE GARDEN OF SYN is FREE March 1st to the 5th. Don’t miss out

Book Blitz! 
No One Dies in the Garden of Syn
Book 1 in THE GARDEN OF SYN Trilogy

Author: MICHAEL SEIDELMAN

Wi:ichael
Genre: YA Fantasy 

Summary: 

Synthia (Syn) Wade is a teenage girl who struggles with cystic fibrosis, an incurable life-threatening disease. One day she is pushed into a pond by an unseen figure and wakes up in a new world – a mysterious garden where illness and death don’t exist.

Welcomed by the garden’s residents and now free of her symptoms, Syn decides to stay. But, before long, she realizes that this apparent utopia holds many dangers and dark secrets.

Surrounding the garden is a fog that Syn is warned never to enter. She encounters bizarre creatures that defy reason. And always lurking in the shadows is a masked woman – a woman who may have a connection to the

disappearance of Syn’s parents many years ago. A woman whom no one will speak of, but whom everyone fears.

* No One Dies in the

Garden of Syn will be FREE 

on Amazon from
March 1-5th! *

Buy Links:

Amazon 

B & N

Walmart/Rakuten/Kobo

AbeBooks.com 

Book Depository

Alibris 

Indigo

Better World Books

Indie Bound 

About the Author:

When Michael Seidelman was growing up, his passions

were reading, watching movies, enjoying nature and creative writing. Not much

has changed since then.

Working in Online Marketing for over ten years,

Michael felt it was time to pursue his passion and began writing The Garden of Syn trilogy.

Michael is excited about the upcoming release of the third and final book in The Garden of Syn series and beyond the trilogy, he has more books in the works that he can’t wait to share with the world!

Michael was born in Vancouver, BC Canada where

he continues to reside.

Author Links: 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14809383.Michael_Seidelman

Website: https://michaelseidelman.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SeidelmanAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mseidelman

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mseidelman/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/mseidelman/

Tour created by YA Bound Book Tours 

Mackenzie Grey: Trials Complete Box Set RELEASE BLITZ – NOW AVAILABLE by Karina Espinosa

Title: Mackenzie Grey: Trials Completed Boxed Set

Author: Karina Espinosa

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Release Date: Jan 29, 2021


Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:

Secrets don’t stay buried forever.

Mackenzie Grey is a lone wolf who’s earned her fair share of battle scars from the past, but that’s all over now. Or so she thought.

Known as the Freedom Princess, her heroic deeds have come with a heavy price when a mysterious new villain emerges, one who’s intent on killing Sebastian.

As a new breed of danger lurks on the horizon, secrets between Bash and Kenz pile up and her worst nightmare is realized.

Mackenzie spent the last three years learning who she was in Origins. Now she will face her greatest challenges in Trials …

Karina Espinosa is the Urban Fantasy Author of the Mackenzie Grey novels and The Last Valkyrie series. An avid reader throughout her life, the world of Urban Fantasy easily became an obsession that turned into a passion for writing strong leading characters with authentic story arcs. When she isn’t writing badass heroines, you can find this self-proclaimed nomad in her South Florida home binge watching the latest series on Netflix or traveling far and wide for the latest inspiration for her books. Follow her on social media!

REALER by David Hewson and Narrated by Gemma Whelan – An Audiobook Review of a Speculative/Dystopian Near Future that could easily become our post-pandemic reality. 5 Terrified Stars

Title: REALER

Author: DAVID HEWSON

Narrator: GEMMA WHELAN

Genre: FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION, SPECULATIVE FICTION, DYSTOPIAN FICTION

Length: 8 HOURS and 35 MINUTES

Publisher: W.F. HOWES LTD. 

Type of Book: AUDIOBOOK

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 29, 2020

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Audiobook is narrated by Game of Thrones
star Gemma Whelan

DESCRIPTION:

AN AUDIOBOOK EXCLUSIVE, PERFORMED BY GAME OF THRONES STAR GEMMA WHELAN.

‘Life is real…but this is Realer…’

Realer promises a new virtual reality, a safe and sanitised window into a virtual existence without the risks of the real, crumbling, post-pandemic society beyond the door. Sixteen year old Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Mackintosh is a loner whose father works for the company. He gives her Realer for her birthday – only to be murdered as she watches through her high-tech hood at home. Alone in a tense, post-lockdown world, Charlie has to turn to Realer to find his killers. She’s soon trapped in a murderous conspiracy behind a system that’s steadily beginning to take over people’s lives. Charlie comes to understand that she can only hide from outside dangers for so long. In the end, the only way to defeat them is face-to-face, in the real world. A place she fears more than any.

Audie award-winning author David Hewson’s edgy dystopian, near-future thriller gives us a chilling glimpse into what our post-pandemic world could become.

LISTEN TO THIS AUDIBLE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR DAVID HEWSON FOR FREE.
Click on the photograph to get this free Audible interview.
David Hewson joins Robin Morgan in the Audible Studios to discuss Romeo and Juliet: A Novel, the latest in the series of original audiobook adaptations of Shakespeare plays, narrated by Richard Armitage. The audiobooks are imaginative reworkings of the original plays using contemporary language but retaining the original historical settings.
©2016 Audible Ltd (P)2016 Audible Ltd

MY REVIEW:

Not your typical Dystopian fiction tale.

This tale could (and probably should) be taken as a warning.

The story begins not long after a full year of lockdowns because of the Covid19 pandemic. (Although Covid19 is never specifically named.)

A corporation that is eerily similar to the Amazon corporation of today is at the center of this speculative fiction tale.

A new technological gadget has begun to take the world by storm. It is called a “Realer.” The company tagline is:

‘Life is real…but this is Realer…’

This piece of technology allows the user to visit anywhere in the world through a sort-of virtual reality.

Instead of being themselves, users create avatars and when in “Realer World,” it is those avatars that people see and interact with – meaning you could be talking to anyone, from anywhere and their real identity remains secret.

Fears of the Virus coming back have been a boon for the Realer Corporation. Why actually go on holiday and chance catching the virus when you can “visit” anywhere – from the comfort of your own home?

Charlie (short for Charlotte) is attacked while sketching at a nearby lake. After the attack she is terrified to leave her home. She receives a Realer from her father as a birthday present as a way to coax her back outside and to prove it is safe.

Her father goes for a walk in the nearby woods while wearing Realer glasses. Charlie is able to tag along from her Realer in the safety of her home. She starts to enjoy herself and even begins to think her father is right and that there is nothing to be afraid of.

Suddenly, three cartoon devil monsters appear in her father’s path. He is brutally murdered while she could do nothing except watch it happen.

So begins this unique Dystopian/Speculative Fiction story.

Charlie may be only sixteen, but she is determined to find out who killed her Dad.

With the dogged determination of the youthful, Charlie finds herself not only caught up in a murder investigation, but also in what might prove to be life-altering events not only for herself, but for the entire planet.

With non-stop intrigue, believable technological innovations, a pandemic causing long term lockdowns and the detrimental mental health issues it caused, this story could easily be our near future.

There are a variety of social issues tackled in REALER, along with a mystery that will keep readers guessing until the very end.

David Hewson has created  characters that readers will recognize as either similar to themselves or to others they know.

If you want to take a look at one of our society’s potential futures, this Audiobook is a must listen.

I will be looking for more audiobooks narrated by GEMMA WHELAN. She is a professional actress and was a member of the award-winning cast of Game of Thrones. Her acting experience shines through in her narration as she knows exactly what intonation to use for each chapter. Her narration deserves a 5 Star review of its own. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

It is the combination of great writing, exceptional narration and professional production that combine to make REALER an audiobook not to miss.

A 5 Star rating is exactly what this Audiobook deserves.

5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

David Hewson is a contemporary British author of mystery and thriller novels. His work includes the Nic Costa series and Romeo and Juliet, an expansive and rich retelling of the Shakespeare classic which was awarded Best Original Work at the Audie awards.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

AUDIBLE

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER   

AMAZON  

ABOUT THE NARRATOR:

Gemma Whelan is an actress and comedian, best known for playing Yara Greyjoy in the HBO fantasy-drama series Game of Thrones.

She plays detective Eunice Noon in The End of the F***ing World on Netflix.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

AUDIBLE

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER  

AMAZON

………….

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

N

https://www.instagram.com/wfhowes

https://m.facebook.com/WFHowes

https://mobile.twitter.com/WFHowes

FIND THE HELPERS:What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope is AVAILABLE NOW!!! Fred Guttenberg lost his daughter Jaime to a school shooter – this is his story.

Title: FIND THE HELPERS  

Subtitle: What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope

Author: FRED GUTTENBERG

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, SELF-HELP

Length: 198 PAGES

Publisher: MANGO PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

ISBN: 9781642505351 (Hardcover)

Price: $19.95 USD (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

FIND THE HELPERS tells the story of Fred Guttenberg’s journey since his daughter Jaime’s death and how he has been able to get through the worst of times thanks to the kindness and compassion of others. Good things happen to good people at the hands of other good people─and the world is filled with them.

They include everyone from amazing gun violence survivors Fred has met around the country to former VP Joe Biden, who spent time talking to him about finding mission and purpose in learning to grieve.

https://abcnews.go.com/video/embed?id=53148682

https://abcnews.go.com/video/embed?id=61068732

MY REVIEW:

FIND THE HELPERS is a book that never should have had to be written. What I mean is that Fred Guttenberg should never have had to lose his daughter in a “school shooting.” His daughter, Jaime, should be at home right now thinking about her life goals, competing in dance competitions, and giggling with her friends over boys. Instead, she has been dead for the past two years and her family is grieving the loss of a vibrant, intelligent, and caring young woman.

Gun violence and mass shootings have become commonplace in the United States and that is the horrific truth.

After losing his daughter in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, grief-stricken father Fred Guttenberg dedicated himself to fighting against gun violence in America. He did not want any other family to have to lose a loved one to gun violence.

This book does talk about the shooting and it’s aftermath, and does talk about the epidemic of gun violence in America today. However, FIND THE HELPERS is more about the people he has met and who have appeared in his life at the exact moment he needed someone.

“This book is not about gun safety or what happened at Parkland. Instead, [the Author] share[s] the story of the journey [he has] been on since Jaime’s death and how [he’s] been able to get through the worst of times thanks to the love and kindness of others.” Fred Guttenberg states that his book: “…focuses on when good things happen to good people at the hands of other good people.” He states that “To fight, you have to have hope. And this book is about nourishing the soul so that you have the stamina to fight. This book is meant to be a beacon of love and hope and compassion.”

The stories he relates in FINDING THE HELPERS all speak of the people he has met since his daughter’s death and how each of those people have been “helpers” to him and to his fight against gun violence.

“Guns don’t discriminate; bullets don’t discriminate. When they hit you, they do not know if you are a Republican or a Democrat. They do not know if you are for or against gun safety. They don’t know if you are black or white. When they hit you, all that you know is that they are likely to kill you.”

“We do have a real crisis in this country, a real emergency. In the United States of America, over 40,000 people now die every year from gun violence. That is a higher rate of death than from traffic accidents.”

The two quotes I included above are, to my mind, very telling. Now, just to make it clear, I am a Canadian, not an American. Being Canadian means I grew up in a country where gun violence happens, but nowhere near as often as it does in the United States. Fred Guttenberg asks a question in his book that I, and millions of others, would love to have answered. Fred asks: “Why doesn’t President Trump consider 40,000 people dying a national emergency?” The author also writes: “It is sad to realize that if all gun violence were only committed by illegal aliens, this President would be working overtime to do something about it.” I believe that to be true.

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, invited Fred to the 2019 State of the Union address, and once again invited Fred Guttenberg to be her guest at the 2020 State of the Union address. He was hopeful, but knew it was unlikely, that the President might address the gun violence issue during his speech. Fred Guttenberg was right to be skeptical. During the speech, Fred’s emotions got the better of him when Trump’s only reference to violence against American citizens was once again blamed on illegal immigrants. “He was blaming violence on them, and that was inaccurate.” When Trump announced that he would protect the second amendment, and Republicans in the audience jumped up and cheered, “… [Fred] lost it. [He] had been quiet all night, but at that, [he] stood up and yelled back, saying only nine words: ‘What about victims of gun violence like my daughter?’ Within seconds, [he] was confronted by security… [His] outburst got [him] handcuffed and detained by the Capitol Police.” He was detained and questioned, but was ultimately released (but not until Trump’s speech had concluded) when Speaker Pelosi intervened on his behalf. These events made national and international news. I say, GOOD FOR HIM. Someone needed to say something to the current President who seems to care only about violence caused by illegal immigrants and ignores the epidemic of gun violence that is prevalent in U.S. society.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Fred Guttenberg, his family, and his mission to stop other parents from having to bury their children due to some 郎 with a gun.

I am rating FIND THE HELPERS as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

My only semi-negative comment is that the title can be misconstrued and I hope that people will look past that and will run out and buy this book. In fact, Christmas is coming soon and this book (along with a t-shirt and orange enamel pin from the ORANGE RIBBONS FOR JAIME charity) would make a fabulous gift for every parent, first responder, and educator on your shopping list.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photographer: Julia Brownley

Fred Guttenberg began his public life after the murder of his beautiful 14-year-old daughter Jaime in the Parkland school shooting on Feb 14th.  The day after the murder, Fred decided to attend a public vigil in Parkland. While there, the Mayor asked him to speak. His words shook a nation and he has not stopped since.

Only four months prior to the murder of his daughter, Fred’s brother Michael passed away in October 2017 from cancer related to his service in 9/11. He was one of the original first responders at the WTC with a team of doctors who got trapped in the WTC as it collapsed. Amazingly, the room that they hid out in did not collapse and Michael and his team of physicians spent 16 days at ground zero taking care of others.

Following his involvement in these two distinctly American Tragedies, Fred has traveled the country talking about both events but also talking about perspective, perseverance, and resilience. He discusses pivotal moments in our life and how we respond to those moments. Fred uses his speech to inspire others.

Prior to these vents, Fred Guttenberg’s professional life included over a decade of experience in sales and management with Johnson and Johnson, followed by almost 15 years as an entrepreneur, having built a business that consisted of 19 Dunkin Donuts, which he sold in November 2016.

Fred and his wife Jennifer now spend time challenging our elected officials to do more. They began a nonprofit organization dedicated to Jaime’s life called “Orange Ribbons for Jaime.” He has been a regular on TV news programs and myriad of online and print media. Through the formation of the non-profit, this is now his full-time mission.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

WIKIPEDIA

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

ABOUT ORANGE RIBBONS FOR JAIME:

On February 14th, 2018 our 14-year-old daughter Jaime Guttenberg, along with 16 other victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were tragically murdered by a troubled former student.

Orange Ribbons For Jaime will honor our daughter by supporting programs that were important to her, as well as those dedicated to pursuing common sense gun safety reforms.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

INSTAGRAM

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

THE BARREN GROUNDS – Book One of THE MISEWA SAGA by Award-winning Canadian Indigenous author DAVID A. ROBERTSON

Title: THE BARREN GROUNDS  

Series: THE MISEWA SAGA – BOOK 1

Author: DAVID A. ROBERTSON

Genre:  MIDDLE GRADE FICTION, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, MULTICULTURAL INTEREST, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY

Length: 256 PAGES

Publisher: PUFFIN CANADA – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 8, 2020

ISBN: 9780735266100

Price: $17.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home — until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them.

MY REVIEW:

THE BARREN GROUNDS is the first in a series of Middle-Grade Indigenous/Fantasy novels. The series is titled THE MISEWA SAGA and has a Narnia-esque theme.

The story begins with Morgan, an angry preteen Indigenous girl who was placed into the foster care system as a toddler. That system is all she knows, and, as is often the case in real life, her experiences in foster care have not been pleasant.

Placed with a young couple who are new to foster parenting, Morgan resists all attempts at bonding because she is extremely cognizant of the fact that she can be sent back to an orphanage or on to another foster home at any time. “You’ll see. The world will harden you.” This seems to be Morgan’s issue. She has been thrown away all her life – even her biological mother didn’t want her. 

Her foster parents bring a boy into their home who is a year younger than Morgan, named Eli. Eli is Indigenous, as is Morgan, but because she was placed into the system as a toddler, she knows nothing about her rich cultural background. But, Eli does.

When Eli draws a detailed scene, it somehow opens a portal to another reality. When Eli goes into the portal, Morgan goes after him to bring him back.

What they discover is a land out of Indigenous lore. With talking animals who walk on two legs, and a land stuck in perpetual winter, Morgan and Eli learn about their heritage.

Eli and Morgan set out on an epic quest to save the “two-leggeds” and their world from perpetual winter.

The adventures they have teach them that it isn’t always blood that creates a family.

They also learn that whether they are aware of their Indigenaity or not, it does not matter. That does not make them any less Indigenous than those who are aware of their heritage.

This story brings attention to the fact that too many Indigenous children are being removed from their parents and placed into foster care, often with non-Indigenous foster parents who are more interested in the money provided to them by government than in having the child become a true member of their family. There are definitely some amazing foster parents, but, unfortunately, the majority of foster kids tend to have multiple negative experiences before finding an acceptable placement. Many foster kids learn almost nothing about their heritage and culture and there is a vast difference between growing up in a white culture and growing up in an Indigenous culture.

All in all, this book has everything a Middle-Grade reader can possibly want and I think the MISEWA SAGA will be a hit.

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

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


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

DAVID A. ROBERTSON is the author of numerous books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.

Strangers, the first book in his Reckoner trilogy, a young adult supernatural mystery, won the 2018 Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction (Manitoba Book Awards).

David educates as well as entertains through his writings about Indigenous Peoples, reflecting their cultures, histories, communities, as well as illuminating many contemporary issues.

A sought-after speaker and educator, Dave is a member of the Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.darobertson.ca

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

YOUTUBE

AMAZON  

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

.


.

DAVID A. ROBERTSON is also the author of several important Indigenous Peoples books and now has a podcast about his life.

THE HIDING GIRL by Award-winning Author DORIAN BOX is available for Pre-Order now. This book is truly unique, it is a MUST READ.

Title: THE HIDING GIRL

Series: EMILY CALBY SERIES: BOOK ONE

Author: DORIAN BOX

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS

Length: 314 PAGES

Publisher: FRICTION PRESS 

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JUNE 15, 2020

ISBN: 9781734639902 (Paperback)

Price: $12.99 USD (Paperback)

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Twelve-year-old Emily Calby was a good girl from a religious family in rural Georgia. She loved softball, her little sister and looking up words to get her allowance. Then two men came and murdered her family. Somehow Emily escaped. Only the killers know she survived.

On the run in a fugue, she makes an unlikely ally in a ruthless former gang member who takes her in. Overwhelmed by guilt, she persuades him to train her to kill before setting out alone on a terrifying search for justice.

Nothing will stop her—not cops or creeps, not even her own splintering mind. Through it all, Emily fights to hold onto hope and the girl she once knew, kept buried deep inside.

A testament to the boundless limits of love, sacrifice and will to survive, The Hiding Girl is the first book in the Emily Calby Series.

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MY REVIEW:

Twelve year old Emily Calby is desperate, scared, and all alone. She’s on the run from the men who tortured and killed her entire family; men from  whom she just barely escaped.

Emily is a white girl, with blonde hair who grew up in a middle class family and who has never had to experience racism or classism. Even though she has never thought of herself as privileged, she starts to realize just how good she had it when she meets Lucas.

Lucas is an adult, black male who lives in a poverty stricken neighborhood that experiences way too much gang violence. A previous gang member himself, Lucas knows exactly how dangerous it can be for a young, white girl to be homeless in the city. Despite his reservations, Lucas takes Emily under his wing. (This relationship is a huge part of the plot, but the way the two met and his decision to befriend Emily is extremely far-fetched. I reduced the number of stars I gave THE HIDING GIRL because of this.)

Emily is terrified that the two men from whom she had barely escaped will track her down and finish what they started. Because of this, she convinces Lucas to teach her how to kill.

Readers learn about Lucas and his past, including the fact that he used to be in a gang, and he also talks about the death of someone close to him. It is this death that is used to explain why Emily keeps seeing teddy bears attached to hydro poles in his neighborhood. The inclusion of this tidbit is based on fact. Author Dorian Box has seen these Memorial Teddy Bears in real life.

This book is a testament to the resiliency of youth, as well as the power of fear, grief, and a hunger for justice. I enjoyed the inclusion of the conversations between characters in regard to exactly what is justice, and who has the right to extract that justice. Emily must decide whether she is willing to kill the monsters who had obliterated her entire family.

There are a multitude of social themes in this book and the plot has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. It is an enjoyable story with characters you will come to love.

THE HIDING GIRL is the first book in a brand new EMILY CALBY SERIES. The second book is due for release within the year.

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

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

I feel that I have to mention and give kudos to @Herabooks

Hera is a FEMALE-LED Publisher.

It is about time that women were not only in positions of power, but are also the owners and CEOs. I have bookmarked and am following Hera Books.

It is important to me to celebrate and support women-led Indie businesses, especially in this unprecedented time in history when everyone on the planet is trying to #flattenthecurve and to #eradicate #Covid19

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

“Dorian Box” is a professor and author of eight nonfiction books, one an Amazon Editors’ Favorite Book of the Year.

Psycho-Tropics, his first novel, received a Writer’s Digest Award in Genre Fiction.

Kirkus called it “[a]n engaging thriller with plenty of humor, good characterization, and a memorable villain ….”

The Writer’s Digest judge said, “Marrying humor with suspense is not easy, but it comes across masterfully. … A truly enjoyable read.”

His second novel, The Hiding Girl–scheduled for release on June 15, 2020–is the first entry in the Emily Calby Series, which follows twelve-year-old Emily’s perilous, traumatized life forward from the day two men invade her rural Georgia home and kill her family. The unpublished manuscript was named a semifinalist for the Publishers Weekly Booklife Prize out of more than 700 entries.

The Critic’s Report described it as: “Dark and gritty … an exceptional, heart-pounding story full of raw emotion, deep-seated fear, and an undercurrent of hope and innocence. Deeply atmospheric … without peer in contemporary mysteries/thrillers.”

Book 2 in The Emily Calby Series is also complete and Book 3 is underway.

In his regular life, Box has received numerous awards for teaching and research, written thousands, possibly millions, of scholarly footnotes, and been interviewed by sources such as National Public Radio, the PBS Newshour, and the New York Times.

Box lives out his childhood fantasies singing and playing guitar in rock cover bands that earn tens of dollars sweating it out until two a.m. in smoky dive bars.

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

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https://dorianbox.com

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ESME’S GIFT by the Mega-Talented Author of Young Adult Fiction – ELIZABETH FOSTER is a solid 6 out of 5 Stars. Yes, It is that good.

Title: ESME’S GIFT

Series: THE ESME TRILOGY: BOOK 2

Author: ELIZABETH FOSTER

Genre: FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, FANTASY

Length: 254 PAGES

Publisher: ODYSSEY BOOKS

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: NOVEMBER 30, 2019

ISBN: 9781925652833

Price: $16.95 CDN

Rating: 6 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

“Now, nothing else mattered. She had found the place her mother had whispered of, the place sewn into the fabric of her dreams.”

In  the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver is faced with her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift – the power to observe the past – and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.

In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends – old and new – travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.

Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must confront their deepest fears and find hope in the darkest of places. Esme’s Gift, the second instalment in the Esme trilogy, is an enthralling fantasy adventure for readers 12 years and over.

MY REVIEW:

ESME’S GIFT is the perfect book to sit, and read right now. You can immerse yourself in the unforgettable world of. Esperance.

Currently, our entire world is on ‘pause.’ The Coronavirus dubbed Covid19 has caused a worldwide phenomenon called “Social Distancing.’ Health authorities all over the planet are asking (or demanding) people stay home to avoid catching and/or spreading the virus. The one good thing that has happened because of Covid19, is that we now have the time to read those books that we have all been wishing we had time for.

Physical bookstores may be closed right now, but just about every bookseller is allowing customers to order online and have your books delivered straight to your door. My suggestion is that you place an order for ESME’S WISH and ESME’S GIFT written by the Mega-Talented Author, Elizabeth Foster. I guarantee you will love these books and will find that time flies by because you will become immersef in this tale of magic, mystery, family ties, dragons and the fascinating and scintillating world of Aeolia.

Elizabeth Foster truly has a talent and a gift for creating fantastic worlds that readers will wish they were able to experience firsthand. Elizabeth does for water what J.K. Rowling did for Platform 9 3/4 at the train station.

In “Esme’s Gift,” the fifteen year old title character returns from the magical world of Aeolia with the intention of convincing her father that his wife, Esme’s mother, Ariane, is alive (although currently in a magical coma) in the enchanted city of Esperance. She wants to convince him to travel to Aeolia with her so that he can see for himself.

He reacts the way most of us would react if told that our daughter who had been missing for weeks, shows up one day and says that she had been in a magical city that exists only through an underwater portal. He does not believe her (can you really blame him?) Esme overhears the plan to have her checked out by doctors at a mental hospital and flees back to Aeolia.

Upon her early return, she discovers that there has been no change in her mother’s condition. But, there is hope. If she can procure the ingredients necessary for a special potion, then maybe, just maybe, her mother will awaken from her coma.

The rest of the story follows the quest for the potion’s ingredients. Esme and her friends have several crazy adventures along the way … even including a mistakenly cast spell with harrowing consequences.

Anyone who loved the Harry Potter series will enjoy this book series. It is planned as a trilogy and I am going to be eagerly awaiting the next and final installment.

The descriptions of the magical city of Esperance are so vividly rendered that it is easy to picture it in your mind. The characters are not just superficial, they are realistic and have flaws and foibles just like everyone does. These characters will draw you in and you will find them 100% unforgettable.

If you choose to read only one young adult fantasy fiction series this year, you need to ensure it is THE ESME SERIES.

Without hesitation, I rate ESME’S GIFT AS 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ELIZABETH FOSTER was born in Brisbane, Australia. She read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago, when reading to her own kids reminded her of how much she missed getting lost in other worlds.

Once she started writing, she never looked back. She is at her happiest when immersed in her stories and plotting new conflicts and adventures for her characters.

Elizabeth now lives in Sydney, Australia where she can be found scribbling in cafés, indulging her love of both words and coffee.

Her first novel, Esme’s Wish, a fantasy-mystery for younger teens, was released by Odyssey Books on October 30, 2017. Esme’s Gift, the second in the trilogy is AVAILABLE NOW!!!

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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KOBO: You can read the first chapter of Book One of The Esme Series HERE.

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

ODYSSEY BOOKS is an Australian Independent publishing house. It was founded only eight years ago, in 2009 by Michelle Lovi.

They only publish 12 to 18 books per year. Odyssey Books produces quality literary and genre fiction, as well as memoirs and creative non-fiction.

They live for the adventures that books provide and are not afraid to take risks with new writers and new ideas.

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

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THE MULBERRY TREE by ALLISON RUSHBY is Middle Grade Fiction at it’s Best.

Title: THE MULBERRY TREE

Author: ALLISON RUSHBY

Genre: MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

Length: 304 PAGES

Publisher: CANDLEWICK PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JULY 14, 2020

Pre-Order: AVAILABLE NOW

ISBN: 9781536207613

Price: $17.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Is the eerie tree beside their bucolic cottage really a threat to ten-year-old Immy? Legend and hearsay give way to a creepy series of events in a captivating mystery.

Do naught wrong by the mulberry tree, or she’ll take your daughters . . . one, two, three.

Ten-year-old Immy and her family have run away from their storm cloud of problems to a tiny village in Cambridgeshire, England, where her depressed physician father can take a sabbatical and get back on his feet. Luckily, they find an adorable thatched cottage to begin a new life in. But their new home comes with one downside: in the backyard, there is an ancient, dark, and fierce-looking mulberry tree that has ceased bearing any fruit. There’s a legend that the towering tree steals away girls who live in the cottage on the eve of their eleventh birthday, and villagers even cross the street when they pass by the house. Of course, Immy thinks this is all ridiculous. But then she starts to hear a strange song in her head. . . . In a page-turner perfect for middle-graders, Allison Rushby folds themes of new-school travails, finding friends, being embarrassed by parents, and learning empathy into a deliciously goose-bumpy supernatural mystery.

MY REVIEW:

“Do naught wrong by the mulberry tree, or she’ll take your daughters … one, two, three.

In the dead of night, spirited away, never to see an eleventh birthday.”

How can any potential reader not want to keep reading with an intro like that?

I know that it instantly piqued my interest, and at 304 pages, THE MULBERRY TREE is a substantial length which means that readers will be able to lose themselves in the story the same way I did. 

Imogen (Immy) and her parents have moved to England from Australia. They are moving in order to seek a fresh start after her father experienced a trauma. In fact, since that fateful day, her father’s personality has completely changed and not in a good way. Immy doesn’t understand what has happened to her father and finds it extremely frustrating to feel so powerless. She wants her Dad to go back to the way he was, but she is starting to believe that this is his new normal.

As with all children, Immy had no say in the plans to relocate, and she is  unhappy about leaving behind all her friends and everything else familiar. 

Immy’s mother is a heart surgeon, her father was a Family Doctor, well, I guess he technically still is, but he isn’t currently practicing. He is depressed and blames himself for the actions of one of his patients.

The family decides to rent a cottage style house known to locals as “Lavender Cottage.” In the backyard of their new home is a huge mulberry tree. Little do they know this tree is at the center of a local superstition and the rhyme at the beginning of the book is about this same tree.

The locals all believe that the tree is evil, which is patently ridiculous … Or is it?

THE MULBERRY TREE has everything a middle grade reader could possibly want. The characters are believable, and most readers will find parts of  themselves in Immy’s personality. I can still vividly remember my father doing embarassing things when I was Immy’s age, just like her father does to her. (As an adult, now I am the one embarassing my own kids.)

The story is fast paced and readers may just find themselves unable to put this book down. At night, I kept saying to myself that I would just read one more chapter before going to bed, but ended up staying awake until I finished the entire book.

So, since the plot is terrific, the story  engaging, the characters relatable and believable, and the writing is nothing less than fantastic, I have no choice but to rate this book as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram and keep an eye out for several upcoming book giveaways on both here my blog and on my Instagram account at: http://www.instagram.com/Amiesbookreviews

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Allison Rushby, an Australian author of a whole lot of books. I’m crazy about cities with long, winding histories, wild, overgrown cemeteries, red brick Victorian museums, foxes and ivy. When I’m not writing about these things, you can often find me falling down the rabbit hole of Social Media. of . Most days I’m helped (read: distracted) by my small, warm, wrinkly assistant, Claudia the Devon Rex cat who kindly allows me to live in her home.

If you’d like to try one of Allison’s books for free, Diamonds are a Teen’s Best Friend is free on Kindle or Smashwords.

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

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Candlewick Press, based in Somerville, Massachusetts, publishes outstanding children’s books for readers of all ages.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

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MORE BOOKS BY ALLISON RUSHBY:

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

Title: SAVAGE APPETITES

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

Author: RACHEL MONROE

Genre: TRUE CRIME, NON-FICTION

Length: 272 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER CANADA – SCRIBNER

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: AUGUST 20, 2019

ISBN: 9781501188909

Price: $11.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

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

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

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

MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I even learned a new word:

HYBRISTOPHOLIA – the attraction to someone who has committed murder.

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photograph by Emma Rogers

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

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

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

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

SUBJECT # 1 OF SAVAGE APPETITES is FRANCIS GLESSNER LEE.

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

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

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

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

Another doll rests in a bathtub, apparently drowned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What details can you discover?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Renwick Gallery, 1661 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE SOLUTION IS?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to learn more about Frances Glessner Lee?

Here is a preview of the original documentary

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

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

THE MURDER OF TAYLOR BEHL

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


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

Photograph Obtained from Taylor Behl’s Memorial Page