Oct 022015

Westly51DNspxRg5L._SX361_BO1,204,203,200_ Product Details

  • Title: Westly: A Spider’s Tale
  • Author: Bryan Beau
  • Genre: Fantasy for ages 8+
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (September 29, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1629720682
  • FTC, FYI: I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
  • Reviewed by Sheila and her 2nd grade class


Book Description:  

He  didn’t look like anyone else

He didn’t act like anyone else.

But Westly was destined to be extraordinary.

This is tale of a caterpillar named Westly who is destined to be a Monarch butterfly and the next king of the butterfly kingdom. But sometimes things don’t turn out the way we plan. When Westly emerges from his cocoon he is nothing like he expected. He’s a spider! And he must navigate the social hierarchy with butterflies at the top and insects at the bottom and Westly somewhere in-between. Adopted by the “dirt eaters,” Westly is determined to make a difference. He is determined to belong, to be loved, and most importantly, to become who he was born to be.

My Review:
I was very excited to read Westly: A Spider’s Tale to my 2nd grade class. I have to say, they were enchanted from the first chapter. They really loved the characters and they also liked the different voices I used as I read the novel to them. This book is perfect for the age group I teach, 7-8 year olds. They couldn’t wait each day until after lunch when it was time for Read-Aloud. They all groaned when I ended a chapter and put the book away to do something else. They learned the main message from the book, {which impressed me} without me telling them.

I decided to have my class help me write this review. When we finished the book, I had them write down what they liked the most about Westly. Who better to see how kids liked the book than hear from kids themselves? So here is what they had to say, at least those who turned their paper in…{There may be some spoilers here :) and the spelling has been corrected in order for you to read their comments. ;) }

Beckett: “My favorite character was the raven. I liked the book because Westly became a hero and saved all the insects.”

Cole: “My favorite characters were Westly, Zug Zug and the Raven.”

Ava:  “I like when Westly turns into a spider. My favorite characters is Zug Zug the fly.”

Gretta: “My favorite part was when Wesley was in the menagerie and he almost died, but it was super, duper sad…I would think every body would like Westly. It is awesome; my favorite book! 

Ty: “Westly learned being different was fine.”

Serg: “I learned that at the end Westly became King of the menagerie.”

Aryianna:  “I learned it doesn’t matter if someone is different. I just love Westly. It’s a good book!”

Brooklyn: “I liked the part where Westly’s dad hugs him. I want to share it with my friends.”

Evan: “I liked that we don’t have to be sad if we are different. I like the book because it is exciting!

Brody: “I liked the story because of the moth…you should buy it and Westly.”

Lillian: “I loved when Westly stuck up for his friends, even the raven. I recommend 2nd grade and up will like this book.”

Jaslene: “I like Westly and Zug Zug. They live in the menagerie. I recommend it.”

Edison: “I love Westly and the Raven KIng and learned that different is good. The story was very funny…a good book for all ages.”

Will: “I learned that you should never give up.”  

Charlie: “Westly was a very good spider. I like how he got the key from the worms.”

Dyson: “My favorite characters were Westly, Zug Zug, the worms, the raven and the dragonfly.”

Owen W. “I liked the pictures. It is a good story. You should read it.”

Jordan: “The raven was scary and they all looked awesome. I liked it!”

 So there you have it! It’s a great book, with a good message for kids, and very entertaining.  So from my 2nd grade class, they recommend this book to other kids. 

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Meet Author Bryan Beus:

Bryan Beus – which rhymes with Zeus – is the winner of the Kirchoff/Wohlberg Award from The New York Society of Illustrators. He works full time as an illustrator for magazines, book covers, film and game conceptual art, and more. When not writing and drawing, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amanda, mindful meditation, drinking root beer floats, and eating far too many Sour Patch Watermelons. Westly is his debut novel.

What did you think of my student’s reviews?  Please leave a comment about how you think they did?

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Sep 292015

played-for-a-fool-cover Product Details

  • Title: Played for a fool
  • Author: Stephanie Black
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Covenant Communications Inc.; Pap/Com edition (September 5, 2015)
  • Genre: Mystery/Suspense
  • ISBN-10: 1680476505
  • FTC, FYI: I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
  • Reviewed by: Sheila
Book Description:

Three years ago, the small town of Britteridge was rocked by the senseless murder of Gail Ludlum. Now the people most affected by the tragedy have returned to the place where it all began, and the scene is set for the perfect revenge . . .
Megan O’Connor’s life was shattered when she was unwittingly drawn into a kidnapping plot that ultimately led to the murder of an innocent woman. Though the road to redemption has been long, she’s finally found happiness with her recent engagement to a wonderful man, a pillar of the community. But amid the chaos of wedding planning, the return of Gail Ludlum’s son to Britteridge sets in motion a disturbing sequence of events. Soon Megan finds herself the victim of a series of cruel deceptions that indicate one thing: her past mistakes have not been forgiven or forgotten. As the mischief escalates to dangerous levels, it becomes clear that someone is determined to avenge Gail’s death. And he won’t rest until he’s taken a life for a life.

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My Review: 
Just like every other mystery/suspense book I’ve read by this author, I should realize I can’t just pick up the book, read for awhile and walk away. No, I make this mistake every time. I pick up the book read, then read some more, realize it’s midnight and I have to teach the next day, but I still can’t put the book down, and keep reading until I pass out. It was pure torture to work all day and have to wait until I came home to finish the book.
Played for a Fool is one of those books where you know exactly who is behind all of the crazy things happening to the main character, but you just don’t know how or when the next thing is going to happen. You worry and panic for main character Megan O’ Connor whose life is finally settling down after tragedies that had happened three years before. Just when Megan thinks maybe she can have a normal life with her twin sister in jail for murder and kidnapping, the past has come back to start wrecking havoc in her life by making it look like Megan is as bad as her sister. It’s really frustrating when even Megan’s finance Trevor starts thinking that Megan is behind the strange things happening; after all it was his kid sister that was kidnapped by Megan’s sister and almost killed and Megan was duped into helping with the kidnapping. There is a lot of action and much deception in this novel. Just when you think things are starting to settle down, guess what? It’s time for more crazy action that will keep you strapped to this novel. As I said earlier, be prepared to set aside a day to read this book, because it’s very hard to put down. The interesting characters and the schemes going on all around, will keep this book in your hands and your mind whirling, way after you have read the last page. Another winner for author Stephanie Black!
Meet the Author: Stephanie Black
STEPHANIE BLACK has loved books since she was old enough to grab the pages, and has enjoyed creating make-believe adventures since she and her sisters were inventing long Barbie games filled with intrigue and danger or running around pretending to be detectives. She is a three-time Whitney Award winner for Best Mystery/Suspense, most recently for Cold as Ice (2010). Stephanie was born in Utah and has lived in various places, including Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and Limerick, Ireland. She currently lives in northern California and enjoys spending time with her husband Brian and their five children. She is a fan of chocolate, cheesecake, and her husband’s homemade bread.

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Sep 192015

To say I was excited when I first heard about this series would be an understatement! So many of my favorite authors wrote a book for this series, so I know it will be amazing! There will be a book released each month throughout 2016. I’m currently reading the prequel novella to the series, written by Heather B. Moore. Here is what the prequel is all about!

A prequel novella to the POWER OF THE MATCHMAKER Series

Mystical . . . Beautiful . . . Romantic . . .
12 novels by 12 bestselling authors
Released once a month in 2016
Read the matchmaker’s story to find out where it all starts . . .

Mae Li has been in love with Chen Zhu for years, and he with her. But when the matchmaker arrives at the Zhu family home, she recommends another village girl for Chen.

Heartbroken, Mae Li watches as Chen does his duty by marrying another. Mae flees her village with the clothes on her back and her only possession—a pearl embedded comb, given to her as a goodbye gift from Chen Zhu.

Upon Mae’s arrival in Shanghai, she quickly learns that she’ll starve within days unless she sells her prized comb or joins a courtesan house. She goes to the Huangpu River and promises the River God that she’ll always be selfless if he will save her from becoming a prostitute . . . Her wish is granted when Ms. Tan, the matchmaker of Shanghai, finds Mae. But Mae must completely change her future and her name if she is to become the next matchmaker.

Cover Reveal

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Sep 112015

A Tale of Light and Shadow23493842 Product Details

  • Title: A Tale of Light and Shadow
  • Author: Jacob Gowans
  • Series: Tale of Light and Shadow (Book 1)
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing; First Edition edition (May 12, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609079817
  • FTC, FYI: I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
  • Reviewed by :Sheila

Book Description: 
Enter Atolas, a world where swords and daggers both extend life and end it, where magic is feared by all but a few, and where feuds and friendships influence kingdoms and courtships. Henry and Isabelle have secretly sworn to marry despite his lowly station as a carpenter, but his devotion to her drives him to commit an unthinkable act that may cost both of them their lives.

At the same time, a secret, dark prophecy has set in motion events that will affect not only them, but the thrones of rulers throughout all of Atolas, threatening to eclipse the world in shadow. But all is not lost while hope remains in the guise of an unlikely hero and the strength of friendship.

My Review of Book One: A Tale of Light and Shadow

When I first started reading this book I felt confused and it dragged to me. I put it down for a few weeks and read other things. One weekend I picked it up again, started from the beginning,and once I got to chapter three(22 pages into the book) the story took off!! Please don’t give up on this book, because there is a very impressive story hiding within the pages of A Tale of Light and Shadow! I was amazed at the plot, the unforgettable characters, and the realism of life portrayed in this YA Fantasy novel. 
The love between two of the main characters, Henry and Isabelle, makes you long for this kind of love in your life. Henry and Isabelle being driven apart is at the heart of the plot of this series. Henry, along with his sister Maggie, his best friend Ruther, and Isabelle’s brother, James, head out against all odds to rescue Isabelle who has been “kidnapped” by the evil Emperor of Neverak, who wants Isabelle to become one of his concubines. You meet some grand characters along the way that will astonish you and some will terrify you, as they journey towards saving Isabelle. 
A Tale of Light and Shadow will give you many characters to cheer for and many more to hate. After I started reading this a second time, I finished it in less than 24 hours because I literally could not put it down…until my eyes were red, the letters were blurring, and I had to go to  sleep. 
If you are looking for a book that includes the power of love and friendship, great adventure,humor, mystery and fantasy; you will be glad that you picked up A Tale of Light and Shadow.

Secrets of Neverak23453183 Product Details

  • Title: Secrets of Neverak {A Tale of Light and Shadow: Book Two}
  • Author: Jacob Gowans
  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing; First Edition edition (July 7, 2015)
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609079787
  • FTC, FYI: I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
  • Reviewed by: Sheila

Book Description: 
Henry Vestin believed that despite being only a carpenter he could lead Isabelle and their friends to safety. He thought he could defy an emperor and protect Isabelle from harm. He was certain that love and friendship would be enough to survive.

He was wrong.

The Secrets of Neverak follows Henry and his friends after the disastrous battle at the Iron Pass. Horrors await them in strange new lands. Crippled and broken, Henry must rely on his friends more than ever. Allies and foes find them at every turn, but which are friendly and which are deadly? Isabelle, now a slave in Neverak, finds herself surrounded by enemies, uncertain about the fate of her friends, and desperate to escape. The Emperor moves forward with his plans of conquest, spurred on by the Seer’s dark prophecy, but he has not forgotten those who defied him.

Return to the world of Atolas, where a blade can extend life or end it, where friendships can topple kingdoms, and where the Path of Light and Shadow is feared by all but a few.

My Review of Secrets of Neverak {Book Two of A Tale of Light and Shadow}:
I was so ready to pick up this sequel the second I finished reading the first book, and that is exactly what I did! This second book is over 500 pages long. I’m a fast reader and I have been reading this book as quickly as possible. I’ve been reading every spare minute, even during my whole lunch time. I’m also taking advantage of my 2nd grade class “Silent Reading Time”. When my kids read, I read. 
Secrets of Neverak has all of the characters in so much distress: mentally, physically, and emotionally. Within the first few chapters many of them have to pass through a horrifying place called, The Iron Forrest, which is haunted. That was a very hard chapter to read because of what they go through during their passage. It just seems like one terrible thing after another keep happening to Henry, James, Maggie, Ruther, and a new friend Thirsty. I just kept thinking…please give them a break! I know it adds excitement and the characters grow a lot as individuals as they go through each trial. Isabelle has her own things to handle as a slave/concubine in Neverak and trying to stay out of the way of jealous women and the Emperor who wants her as his own. Isabelle has the hope that Henry and the others are on their way to rescue her, but she keeps trying to find ways to escape.  
Meanwhile, there are hideous bounty hunters after our heroes, the Emperor of Neverak is planning an invasion of his allies, and none of our main characters can stay out of trouble. I kept reading quickly because I hopefully wanted their journey to end and happily. But, here is the kicker, this series is NOT over yet. It ended and I sat there thinking how dreadful it was that now I had to wait for more. Author Jacob Gowans is a great storyteller, and you don’t want to miss out on this YA Fantasy that will be enjoyed by older teens and adults of all ages and imaginations. 

Meet Author: Jacob Gowans

Jacob Gowans is a resident of Utah, working as a dentist for kids. He is husband to a beautiful wife, and father to four children. When not working or writing, he enjoys watching sports, reading YA novels or long tomes, running, and chasing his kids around the house.

Psion Beta was his first novel, and he is currently working on two new series: Super Six and the Clone Saga. His favorite music artists are blink-182 (and their spin-offs) and Brandon Flowers. His favorite book is Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, and thinks the greatest film ever made is Dead Poets Society.

He was raised in Papillion, Nebraska, graduated from college with a Bachelor of Arts in theater studies, and moved to Cleveland shortly thereafter for dental school at Case Western Reserve University.
For more info check out http://www.jacobgowans.com

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Sep 012015

Janitors5 Heroes of the Dustbin (Janitors #5)

Author: Tyler Whitesides

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Published Date:  September 8, 2015

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Hardcover/Audio/ebook: 416 pages

ISBN# 978-1-62972-065-4

Reviewed by: Shanda

FTC FYI: Received a free Advanced Reading Copy in exchange for an honest review.

Summary (DeseretBook.com)

Spencer knew that from the moment the Founding Witches had returned, the Rebel Janitors had begun disappearing. So many schools were defenseless now, the students’ minds rotting from Toxite breath while the janitors vanished without a trace. Then it became personal.

Although their enemies are powerful, their allies few, Spencer and his ream of Rebels are not giving up! But what chance do a handful of kids and one rescued janitor have against the combined evil of the Founding Witches and the Sweepers? Can the Rebels close the source of all Glop and stop the Toxites once and for all—or is the world doomed to fall under the control of the sinister Bureau of Educational Maintenance? This explosive series finale is a griping ride through conflicted loyalties and daring escapes, unexpected alliances and betrayals, and an ending you’ll never forget!


I remember the first time I met Tyler Whitesides, a few months before his new book, Janitors, was due to be released. He told me about his new book, the first in a series, and I thought it sounded like a fun and unique adventure. Fast forward to today, as I review the last book in the Janitors series, and I can honestly say it has been a lot of fun. A little gross at times for the germaphobic, but always an adventure.

Our characters are in dire circumstances as the story begins, reeling after the loss of mentors and the continuing disappearances of allies. Spencer and Daisy must decide whether to trust former enemies and bear the responsibility of rescuing their Rebel allies. Secrets are uncovered that change everything, and their situation seems impossible.

I sailed through the book, anxious to see what happened from chapter to chapter. Tyler did a great job of keeping the pace going, surprising me and, as usual, making me laugh. He knows how to include the details with enough entertainment to keep young readers (and adults like me) engaged in the story. The creative use of every day janitorial items is clever and I still really want a set of magic squeegees.

Spencer, Daisy, and Dez, while still the same characters we know, have also grown both in experience and friendship. They’ve learned to appreciate each other and make sacrifices. Well, at least Spencer and Daisy have, though Dez surprised me more than once. As the story ends, I believe there is hope for him yet.

I found Heroes of the Dustbin to be a fast moving and satisfying conclusion to the Janitors series, and I think other fans will as well. This series is perfect for engaging the imaginations of young readers. I know many middle grade readers have enjoyed Tyler’s books, and I hope many more discover this series as they explore the possibilities that exist in the world of reading.

**Visit Tyler’s website for information on the book launch and signing events on September 4th and 5th.

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Aug 282015

Legacy-Human-Cover-197x300 Product Details

  • Title: The Legacy Human:Singularity Book 1
  • Author: Susan Kaye Quinn 
  • File Size: 1218 KB
  • Print Length: 413 pages
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Publication Date: March 2, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • FTC, FYI : I received a review e-copy in exchange for an honest review
  • Reviewed by Sheila

The Legacy Human by Susan Kay Quinn What would you give to live forever? Seventeen-year-old Elijah Brighton wants to become an ascender—a post-Singularity human/machine hybrid—after all, they’re smarter, more enlightened, more compassionate, and above all, achingly beautiful. But Eli is a legacy human, preserved and cherished for his unaltered genetic code, just like the rainforest he paints. When a fugue state possesses him and creates great art, Eli miraculously lands a sponsor for the creative Olympics. If he could just master the fugue, he could take the gold and win the right to ascend, bringing everything he’s yearned for within reach… including his beautiful ascender patron. But once Eli arrives at the Games, he finds the ascenders are playing games of their own. Everything he knows about the ascenders and the legacies they keep starts to unravel… until he’s running for his life and wondering who he truly is. The Legacy Human is the first in Susan Kaye Quinn’s new young adult science fiction series that explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world… and how technology will challenge us to remember what it means to be human.

 (Normally $3.99)
EXCERPT- The Legacy Human (Singularity #1)
I want to ascend so badly, I can taste it.
It’s bitter and metallic, like the acrylic paint spread before me. It’s beautiful and beckoning and untouchable, like the shimmering rose skin of my patron, Lenora, who hovers over my work, tasting it in her own way. Her fingertips barely graze the paint, sensing its color and texture and scent in a way that is utterly inhuman.
Because she’s not human. Not anymore. She’s ascended—vastly more intelligent, compassionate, and enlightened than any human could be without the procedure. I’m just one of those remnants of humanity the ascenders left behind long ago.
Lenora leans in toward the painting in that sudden kind of motion ascenders sometimes have. Her cascade of red curls brushes my cheek… and raises goose bumps on my arms.
I hold absolutely still.
This is the closest she’ll come to touching me. Anything more would be… wrong. Ascenders and legacy humans don’t do that sort of thing, at least not legally. I tell myself the instant full-body alert is just because I’m a seventeen-year-old guy who’s definitely straight—anything vaguely female would get this response—but it doesn’t help that Lenora’s body is pure fantasy. Sculpted cheeks. Curves that irresistibly draw my gaze. Lips that beg for me to draw each perfectly rounded part. The red curls have to be synthetic—ascenders don’t have hair—but their softness still heats my cheek. There’s plenty to desire in the bodyform she’s wearing now, but lust is a pale reflection of the thick, complicated feelings I have for her.
Feelings no legacy should have. And no decent ascender would return.
It’s wrong to want her. Or really, just delusional. But my fingers ache with the need to touch her, just once. She’s close enough that I easily could.
If only ascendance were equally within reach.
Praise for The Legacy Human “This book is Hunger Games (without the violence or controversy) meets Divergent.” “This story is so intense I felt I couldn’t get a proper breath.” “Science fiction with philosophical depth!”      


My Review of the Series:
This series has taken me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting so much action, interesting characters and thought provoking plots. I liked that this “dystopian” type world had technology that was easily understood, and would make sense to any reader. Author Susan Kay Quinn writes such beautiful words that brings the story to life. I know that I will want to read more from her.
 Main character Eli is one that you are drawn to, especially because all he wants to do is to save his mom, who is very sick. If he wins his artistic competition, he would have the drugs available to cure his mom.This futuristic world has “Legacy” humans, and then humans that have ascended into new and superior bodies. What has happened to the souls of the ascended? This is the question that is paramount in the story. I love a novel that makes me think about life and it’s meaning, and the fate of our souls. I also loved the twists and turns in both book one and book two. I did read that this series will have six books. Once you start reading the books, I can guarantee that you will be hooked like I am now. Though Eli is a teen, this book is by no means only for teen readers. Anyone who likes a sci-fi book that creates a plot that will make you look differently at life, along with some romance, and loads of action, will want to read the Singularity Series.

Duality Bridge

Product Details

  •  Title: The Duality Bridge: Singularity Book 2
  •  Author: Susan Kaye Quinn
  • Print Length: 426 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publication Date: August 17, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B014242I36

The Duality Bridge What does it mean to be human? Elijah Brighton is the face of the Human Resistance Movement. He’s the Olympic-level painter who refused an offer of immortality from the ascenders—the human/machine hybrids who run the world—in solidarity with the legacy humans who will never get a chance to live forever. Too bad it’s all a complicated web of lies. Worse, Eli’s not even entirely human. Few know about the ascenders’ genetic experiments that left him… different. Fewer know about the unearthly fugue state that creates his transcendent art—as well as a bridge that lets him speak to the dead. But the Resistance is the one place he can hide from the ascender who knows everything the fugue can do. Because if Marcus finds him, he’ll either use Eli for his own nefarious purposes… or destroy him once and for all. The Duality Bridge is the second book in the Singularity series and the sequel to The Legacy Human. This thrilling new young adult science fiction series explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world.

EXCERPT – The Duality Bridge (Singularity #2)
Delphina is watching me from outside the holo matrix… along with Kamali, whose wide brown eyes hold silent judgment for the things she thinks I’ve done. Forbidden things, like being a love toy for my ex-patron and current-rebel-ascender, Lenora. Who happens to be standing right next to her. While Kamali’s graceful dancer body is hidden under the black military garb of the resistance, Lenora’s perfect bodyform is barely covered in scintillating ascender-tech fabric. The thing is, I’ve never so much as kissed Lenora. Except in my dreams, which really shouldn’t count against me. Any seventeen-year-old guy would have those kinds of thoughts. But the truth is Kamali’s not wrong to judge me.
My feelings for Lenora have always been… complicated.

Susan  Meet: Author Susan Kay Quinn
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the Singularity Series, the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, and the Debt Collector serial, as well as other speculative fiction novels and short stories. Her work has appeared in the Synchronic anthology, the Telepath Chronicles, the AI Chronicles, and has been optioned for Virtual Reality by Immersive Entertainment. Former rocket scientist, now she invents mind powers, dabbles in steampunk, and dreams of the Singularity. Mostly she sits around in her PJs in awe that she gets to write full time.

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