Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: Natives in Exile by Dirk Harman #MondayBlogs

by Elisabeth Scherer

cover Natives in Exile
Every small town has memorable characters.  That is exactly what you get when reading Natives in Exile by Dirk Harman. A collection of short stories starring a variety of characters from a dwindling town off of route 66.

When I first was given the book to review I was intrigued by the idea of the ghost town setting. Being a mom of a 4 year old boy I have watched the movie Cars hundreds of times and the book seemed to me like a human version of Radiator Springs.

I liked a few things about this book. First, I really enjoyed how the author Dirk Harman described the settings. It was very much like an artist painting a picture. I love when an author can write something that makes you feel like you are walking the streets of the world they create.

He also does a great job weaving the characters into the other stories as background characters and supporting characters. It helped me, as the reader, get the sense of the small town community. I felt the small town setting came across as authentic.

The only thing that really bothered me was the last story and it wasn’t the character or the wrap up. It was a few run on sentences that made the story hard to read. I stumbled a few times before finally getting through that particular story.

Lastly, I liked that little piece of America that Dirk Harman shows in this novel. It made me wonder what other gems of stories are out in the middle of no where in our country. I would recommend Natives in Exile for people looking for a touch of small town life that seems almost like a different time and place than the modern world.

Buy Natives in Exile at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (184 pages)
published: August 2015 by iCrew Digital Productions
ISBN13: 978-0692494585
genres: Literary Fiction, Native Americans
source: publisher
read: August 2015

A free book was provided for this review. Cover image from Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The White Thread Read Along: Chapters 25-28 @KBHoyle_author

by Donna Huber

cover The White Thread
Today we discuss the last few chapter of The White Thread (The Gateway Chronicles #3) by K. B. Hoyle.  This second reading of The White Thread has endeared this book to me more than it did the first time through. I've always thought that The Enchanted was my favorite book of the series, but now I'm thinking maybe this book is. Which is totally funny because in my review, I said I wasn't totally crazy about this book.

So while Darcy was recovering, Dean and Baynard scouted for the Oracle's lair. Of course, just enough is shared with Darcy so that she thinks she can find it on her own. Is it a good idea that she goes off on her own? Isn't that what she did in the first book? At least she left a note this time. And I guess Rubidius kind of endorsed it seeing as he left her note and packed her a bag!

I found this kind of find this funny,
Darcy wondered if she should knock but then felt foolish for the thought. If this Magus fellow had walled in his doorway, he obviously didn't want any visitors. Still, it seemed uncivilized not to announce her presence.
What did you think of the magus Darcy encountered? And I guess I wasn't so off from the Wizard of Oz reference in the last book.

I have to say, Darcy did well for herself. She kept her head and stated her case. And when the floor literally falls out from under her, she's ready with a plan. I guess Hoyle had to keep the Oracle a little evil, but really unleashing a beast on her. I guess in his own way he is helping her after all time is passing quickly above ground.

Her discovery of Yahto Veli is both happy and sad. I think I was waiting the whole book for him to take his oath. It's so sweet. She has no clue that it is something reserved only for royals, though she does get that it is something super special. I also find something sweet in Tellius telling her she needs to say yes to finish the enchantment. Though he is shocked because he knows the implications, but it seems he also know Darcy doesn't know what to do - he comes to her rescue.

Then we get the cute talk between Darcy and Tellius and her kissing Perry. Just a teenage conversation. I wonder how many times Hoyle has heard similar conversations while teaching.

As we head into the last chapter it seems like everything is wrapped up and it is just the turn home voyage. And as it is the last chapter, we can assume it will be smooth sailing. Hoyle hasn't left us with a cliffhanger before and there is no reason to suspect she will do so now.

Usually the heart-to-hearts between Darcy and Yahto Veli and typically with Veli, so I thought it was nice touch for to have one here with Yahto. I do believe this is when I really fell in love with Yahto.

I guess with all the references to the six being pulled through the gateway no matter where they were on the day they were to return we shouldn't have been surprised that we were going to be left with a cliffhanger. What did you think of this?

Usually I think authors who end on a cliffhanger are evil, Hoyle softens the blow with the gang returning to normal life at camp and even with an epilogue that solves the mystery of the missing Colin (well not totally). So we are only left with the same uncertainity that the six feel.

And that's that. As this was a summer read along and well I don't think anyone else is really reading along with me, I think I will stop here. Actually I did finish reading the last three books - I blazed right through them! (If you want me to continue chapter by chapter discussion with the next three books, leave a comment. If there is enough interest I will continue).

I do hope that you did enjoy this detailed reading of the first three books in The Gateway Chronicles. If you haven't read them, you could win them long with the first book in Hoyle's new dystopian series. Be sure to enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

"a complex and captivating novel" ~ Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani

When her father falls into a coma, Indian American photographer Sonya reluctantly returns to the family she’d fled years before. Since she left home, Sonya has lived on the run, free of any ties, while her soft-spoken sister, Trisha, has created a perfect suburban life, and her ambitious sister, Marin, has built her own successful career. But as these women come together, their various methods of coping with a terrifying history can no longer hold their memories at bay.

Buried secrets rise to the surface as their father—the victim of humiliating racism and perpetrator of horrible violence—remains unconscious. As his condition worsens, the daughters and their mother wrestle with private hopes for his survival or death, as well as their own demons and buried secrets.

Told with forceful honesty, Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani reveals the burden of shame and secrets, the toxicity of cruelty and aggression, and the exquisite, liberating power of speaking and owning truth.

I loved this intricate story... ~ Shirley Kurnick

Well written and full of surprising experiences ~ Arlene Fleishman

Beautiful story ~ Elizabeth Curry

Buy Trail of Broken Wings at Amazon

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: Seed by Lisa Heathfield

by Donna Huber

cover Seed

We watch the car from the window, Kate, Ruby, and I. From here it looks so small, like a ladybug crawling closer. Slowly, it creeps up our long driveway. We never have visitors and Ruby has gone silent, standing on the chair beside me. Kate's hands go still in the sink as we hear the rumble of the car's engine. It comes to a stop outside the main door of our house. page 56

The Review

I've had Lisa Heathfield's debut novel Seed in my to read for a few months and I couldn't wait to get to it. It's simple language and well developed characters had me reading it straight through in about 5 hours.

Pearl has only know life at Seed. There is only happiness at Seed, everything they need is provided at Seed. For the first time in Pearl's life there are newcomers to the family, people from Outside, What seeds will the grow?

The story opens as the naive protagonist Pearl becomes a woman.
Here, crouched beside the toilet, I'm terrified I'm dying. My stomach must be bleeding, or my liver, or my kidneys. Something inside me has somehow got cut. Spots of blood smear my underwear. I wipe myself with toilet paper and there's more blood. Am I being punished for something I have said or done?

We discover right along with her the only place she has ever known and it isn't all she thought it once was. Heathfield draws you slowly into the world of Seed, pulling back the layers with each new character and understated language.

As far as cults go Seed is pretty mild. I was kind of shocked that there wasn't some kind of indoctrination for the newcomers. In hindsight, I'm sure Papa S. wishes he had. If you are worried about your young adult reading dark fiction, you don't need to be with Seed.

The story is cast in shadows, but is not focused on the dark world of cults. Instead it is more of an emotional coming of age story. When I turned the last page all I could think was "intense".

It wasn't intense so much from external factors, but the internal battle that we witness within Pearl.

I thought there were some thin spots in the plot and that it followed a predictable pattern. It could have even been considered bland. But the characters more than made up for the story's shortcomings.

It was this human interest viewpoint of life in a cult that was so intriguing. My only complaint about character development was that they were not distinctly British. Outside of the use of "rubbish" and mention of Southampton, I didn't know the story was not set in the U.S. (and it wasn't until the word rubbish appeared that I started to question it as Southampton could be a town in New England for all I know). Perhaps it was done intentionally to be more accessible to American teens. But even as a teen I wanted the characters to fit the setting.

I'm glad that I read the note for the editor on the first page so that I knew that Seed is part of a two book series. The book doesn't end on a cliffhanger, but I definitely want to know what happens next to Pearl, Kate and Jack. It is actually the "after" that I usually find much more interesting in stories like this.

If you enjoy realistic drama that isn't too dark, then I recommend Seed by Lisa Heathfield.

Buy Seed at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook, audio, and print (336 pages)
published: March 2015 by Running Press Kids
ISBN13:  9780762456345
genres: realistic drama, coming of age
target audience: young adult
source: publisher
read: August 2015

A free book was provided for this review. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Blogging in the classroom

by Donna Huber

Are you a teacher looking for a fun way for your kids to develop their reading comprehension and writing skills? A classroom book blog can be the answer.

When I was growing up I always wanted to write for the school newspaper. There is something exciting about having your words read and acknowledge by others. Due to budget cuts and rising costs of printing, many schools no longer have a newspaper. Now with electronic media being so popular, a school or classroom blog can be an ideal way to bring back that excitement.

For elementary students, blogging can be a way to share with parents what the kids are reading. You may also consider doing a video blog. Those "kids say the darnest things" videos always go viral. And I know when I was a kid I always wanted to be one of the kids at the end of Reading Rainbow that tells what they are reading.

If writing blog posts, you may want to combine what a few of the kids think about the book into one post.

For older readers - middle school and high school students, they can take on increasing responsibility for the blog. From deciding what to post, to editing the contributions, to working on graphics. They can also work with publishers and authors conducting interviews. Publishers and authors love to hear what their target audience thinks about book and I'm sure they would be happy to answer the kids questions.

photo credit: teaching with emotion: a halloween story
photopin (license)
For kids of all ages, getting to speak with the author is a real treat and many authors are happy to Skype with a class if they can't be there in person. Having a blog may be the incitement some publishers need to assist you in making contact with the author.

Having a classroom or school blog can also earn you free books as publishers and authors will want to have their book featured.

The blog doesn't have to be solely about books, but can just be a feature. Much like in the newspapers.

Using affiliate links in your book posts may also be a way to earn some cash as well.

Even if the only people who see the book posts are other kids and teachers in the school, it can still be fun for the kids.

If you don't already have a school/classroom blog, you need to check your school;s policies and may need to seek parental permission.

Having students write for a school or classroom blog will also give you an opportunity to talk with them about internet safety, copyright, and plagiarism. The later were foreign concepts to my nephew. He claims his teacher told him he could using any image he found through a Google image search without attribution.

While most of what you will blog about falls under Fair Use, your students will still need to attribute images to the proper person. It is no different that using a quote from a book.

A variety of educational topics can be taught under the disguise of running a blog. If you are looking for a creative and fun way to incorporate these topics into your curriculum I highly recommend starting a classroom or school blog.

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

After Game of Thrones: My televisual fantasies

by Ross M. Kitson

One of the great things about Game of Thrones and its success is the boom in popularity of the fantasy genre, which for long- time fans such as myself can only be a welcome thing. HBO took a big gamble when they started the series in 2011. Traditionally fantasy had been a niche market, and the commitment to the series (which is still as yet incomplete) would be a long haul. Yet it paid off, making it HBOs most successful series, turning its less known actors into stars (especially Emelia Clarke, Kit Harrington and Peter Dinklage) and being the show that everyone talks about.

Yet the series is a finite thing. George RR Martin is already being overtaken by the show, having two books to finish in the series, but with the new season already being filmed. Assuming HBO bring it to a finale, and don’t milk it for a few more years, there will be a very significant void when the story concludes in a steam bath of dragon fire versus icy white walkers. And, as a fantasy lover, I’ve pondered as to what will potentially fill that void. So here we have five ideas for the post-Game of Thrones world…

cover The Complete Malazan Book of the Fallen
1. Steven Erikson’s Malazan Empire

Having the advantage of being recently completed, this complex ten book series certainly ticks the mature and epic boxes. It has an avalanche of characters, many occupying the gritty middle ground between good and evil, and intricate storylines that don’t insult the readers intelligence. Although the first book was originally developed as a film script, the books would be definitely better as a series. Compared to Game of Thrones it definitely has a more epic fantasy bent, with non-human races, undead warriors, and the best magic system in fantasy (in my opinion).

Buy The Complete Malazan Book of the Fallen at Amazon

2. Stephen Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

I know this one has been on and off the cards for years for a film version. The original trilogy was a best seller and tells the story of unlikeable leper, Thomas Covenant, and his trips to the Land. His visits, felt initially to complex dreams/hallucinations, are displaced in time—namely time moves at different rates between Earth and the Land. This would create some interesting casting challenges—but the attraction of complex and often unlikeable main characters in the series may be too much to resist. And one of the more iconic bad guys of recent fantasy literature too.

Buy Lord Foul's Bane at Amazon

cover The Gentleman Bastard series
3. Scott Lynch's The Gentleman Bastard series

Only three books in, but this series has really caught the imagination of fantasy readers. Its style is almost Martin Scorsese does epic fantasy—it’s a tale of gangs, thieves and con men, with suitably colourful language and characters. The lead characters Locke and Jean are charismatic rogues, and the action brutal and gory. Lynch palns for seven books in the series so there’d be plenty to go at, although I suspect to make a series they’d need to buff out minor plotlines to make a larger cast of protagonists.

Buy The Gentleman Bastard series at Amazon

cover The Eye of the World

4. Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time

The epic fifteen book series, which has been on my to-read list for… well… forever, is an obvious successor to Game of Thrones. It’s complete—although it took Sanderson to finish it after Jordan’s sad demise—and has a vast wealth of material and characters to draw upon. Its tone isn’t as ‘adult’ as Game of Thrones or Malazan, although as I understand there is a fair bit of violence and death, and some (no-explicit) sexual content.

A pilot was broadcast earlier this year in rather bizarre circumstances (apparently Jordan’s widow didn’t even know about it), and so it’s possible that may be optioned/ re-done or that Universal may go on to do something with it (they have been involved with proposals of developing it before).

Buy The Eye of the World at Amazon

cover Queen of Sorcery
5. David Eddings’ Belgariad

It was a tricky call for number five. It was between Belgariad, Moorcock’s Elric, and Abercrombie’s The First Law. Although the lightest of the three choices, I could see it working in a lot of ways. It’s a fairly linear plot, with a strong basis in traditional heroic fantasy, with an excellent set of characters and a nice coming of age style. The dialogue is one of the best in fantasy books I’ve read, with a great line in banter, and the iconic villain –Torak. For a series it may need some degree of maturation and modernisation (as did LotR) and buffing of sub-plots so as to avoid following Garion around like a puppy for five books.

Buy Queen of Sorcery at Amazon

So, do you agree with my choices? Am I biaised by the fantasy books that I have come to love rather than thinking commercially or artistically. Who would you throw into the list? Anne McCaffrey, Ursula LeGuin, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss? And if we expand it out to the borders between SF and Fantasy? I’d love to see the Amber chronicles by Zelazney done properly. One things for certain, with CGI and bigger and bigger budgets, this is a great time to be a fantasy fan.

Title screenshot from Game of Thrones is used under the Fair Use clause, copyright owner is Home Box Office Inc./BCKORS, LLC./GROK!, LLC./Generator Entertainment/Suction Productions, Inc.

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

K.D. Emerson: A new site for finding bargain ebooks

photo credit: Screen Frame via photopin (license)
Books! You gotta love them. I’ve traveled the entire world, the entire universe really, just by opening a book. I’ve meet characters that inspire me, make me angry, and make me cry or laugh aloud. I’m sure you can relate.

From my earliest memories I have wanted to be involved in the world of creating stories and providing a few hours of entertainment for people. Because of this I became passionate about helping other authors and readers connect.

I noticed a real need for a community where authors and readers could connect. I dreamed of a place where avid readers could find lots of stories at reasonable prices so they would never run out of great places to go and interesting people to meet.  I dreamed of a place where authors could promote their stories without going broke doing it. I wanted a place where authors and readers could chat and build a relationship.

The dream finally came true. This week, my team and I will open the new venue with a celebration on Facebook. You are welcome to join us here for some games and prizes and best of all an opportunity to build relationships.

If you cannot join our party this coming weekend on the FB event, feel free to join us on the website here.

About the author:
K.D. Emerson loves writing thought provoking and action filled stories that will bring her readers back for more. Although her writings deal with the evils of the world she dishes out healthy doses of laughter and fun along the way.
K.D. spends her free time wrangling wild horses, rafting down the Amazon, hang gliding on a toothpick and when she's awake you will find her working on her next adventure or assisting others in creating their dreams. 

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.


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