Rummanah Aasi

  I'd like to thank Amy Lignnor for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk about The Angel Chronicles, her supernatural series. I'd also love to thank Amy and Tribute books for allowing me to do a giveaway on my blog. Thank you also goes out to all the participates who entered in the giveaway. According to, the winner of Until Next Time giveaway is Alden! Congrats, Alden. I already sent you an email about your notification and what required information we need from you. :)
Rummanah Aasi

  Sadly, this is the last week of discussion for the Kiss Me, I'm Irish Read-along.  Kiss Me, I'm Irish is a read-along of HOUNDED by Kevin Hearne, and hosted by awesome bloggers Felicia of Geeky Blogger's Book Blog, Amanda of On a Book Bender, Ash of Smash Attack Reads!, Jen of In the Closet with a Bibliophile and Missie the Unread Reader. Today we are discussing the last chapters and the epilogue. Head over to Missie's blog to participate in today's questions!

1. In a moment of anger, Atticus reveals something about himself that he usually keeps very secret, for his own benefit. Has something similar ever happened to you? Have you ever spilled a closely guarded secret in a moment of excitement or anger or absent-mindedness?

I can't say that I've spilled any secrets in anger, but I have mentioned past grudges to make a 'point' which almost always back fires or just refuels the fires more. 

2. Atticus tells Mrs. MacDonagh, "the universe is exactly the size that your soul can encompass. Some people live in extremely small worlds, and some live in a world of infinite possibility." Then he asks her what she is going to do with the new information she has discovered. What would you do if you found out that other beings were among us? Would you deny it or embrace it?

I would embrace it. Mind you, I will be honest and say that I'll be scared about it. I'd like they are nice and not like those zillions of sci-fi movies where they try to take over the planet. I always wondered why we, humans, think we're so superior and that it's always us against them.


3. So far, Atticus has revealed a few of his powers and has even shared some power by putting bindings on Granuaile. What do you think has been his coolest or most helpful power so far?

I love that his power is nature-bound and that he can refuel by absorbing those powers. I've finally got a hero who's got superhero powers without any scientific experiments gone wrong!

4. Atticus gets pretty pissed when he finds out that Aenghus Óg is drawing power from the Earth and, in turn, killing it. That's when Atticus decides he must fight the old Fae for committing such a heinous offense. What is something you would fight for, even if it meant you might die trying?

Besides family and my loved ones, I'm trying to defeat illiteracy and censorship daily. Sometimes it's a struggle, but it's incredibly important to me. 

5. What did you think of the final showdown between Atticus and Aenghus Óg? Did it go down the way you expected? Was there anything about their battle that surprised you?

I know this may sound bad, but I appreciated the fact that Atticus went down quickly. It goes to show that he is vulnerable and despite his awesome powers, he does have to struggle to fight. I'm so glad that Aenghus Óg was defeated, talk about a huge jerk.

6. What was your favorite/least favorite part of Hounded? Who was your favorite/least favorite character?

Favorite part of Hounded: All the dialogue! I totally didn't expect Hounded to be so funny. I was going into thinking since it's got a male lead character, it's going to be serious and all about the action.

Least favorite: The secret behind Granuaile was revealed too quickly. I would have liked to have a lead up to that part.

 Favorite characters: Mrs. MacDonagh (that lady made me laugh so hard, I could barely read the page!), Oberon (best sidekick ever), Leif and Hal (love the bromance with Atticus), Laksha (I'm excited to see what plans she has up her sleeves).

Least favorite characters: Morrigan- this woman scares the crap out of me and I have no idea where her 'relationship' with Atticus will go.

7. What do you think is coming up next for Atticus? Will you continue reading this series, and if so, what do you hope to see happen in the next book?     

Well, I've only read the first two books, but I'm curious to see how and if Atticus will go after Thor. I would love to know more about Leif and Hal too. 
Rummanah Aasi
 I've had a great time getting some much needed R&R during my week of Spring Break. I got a mixed bag of books some of which had a promising start but then lost me as I reached the book's end. Today I'll be reviewing Incarnate by Jodi Meadows and New Girl by Paige Harbison. Please note that the reviews are based on the books' advanced readers copy. Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books, Harlequin Teen , and Netgalley for the advanced reader's copy of these books.

Description (from the publisher): New soul Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why. No soul Even Ana's own mother thinks she's a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she'll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame? Heart Sam believes Ana's new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana's enemies-human and creature alike-let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else's life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all? Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

Review: I've always been curious about the concept of reincarnation. I've read a few books that touch upon the topic, but none of them dwell deeper than the superficial level. I really liked basic concept of Meadow's debut novel: for thousands of years in a place called Range, the same one million souls have been born, lived, died and been reborn. They come back in either gender, but they still retain their past experiences and skills they've gained before they died. When a girl named Ciana died, she wasn't reborn. Instead Ana was born, for the first time. Now she must face her hostile mother and the suspicious of the old souls.
  I really liked the first half of the book. There was intrigue, mystery, and danger. Ana is a likable heroine. She was verbally and physically abused by her mother due to her new soul status. At the age of 18, Ana is booted out of her house and hopefully will gain her independence and knowledge of what it means to be a new soul by traveling to the city of Heart. In route to her travels, she is attacked by a sylph and narrowly escapes from the help of a kind and handsome stranger named Sam.
 My issues with Incarnate come in the second half of the book. Instead of focusing on Ana's mission to find and establish her identity, the romance between Sam and Ana hijacks the plot. We are given pages and pages of gazing, sighing, and "does x/y really like me or am I making it up?" As a result, the pace and plot moves at a snail's pace and I found myself getting really frustrated. To make matters worse, the world building of a really unique society is very weak. There is not much difference between the cities of Range and Heart. Range is populated by both creatures of European mythology and regular North American animals. These elements seem to be thrown in haphazardly, perhaps to build danger in what seems like convenient places. Ana's characterization is also uneven, especially when her emotional scars from her upbringing emerge only when they are important to the plot. Overall, the book which is the first book in a series, really reads like a very long prologue. I didn't care too much about the world or the characters to pick up this series.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: Mild language and violence. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.

If you like this book try: Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause, Meridan by Amber Kizer,

Description: It's hard to be the new girl--especially when the spot you're filling at Manderly Academy, an exclusive boarding school, was formerly held by perfect Becca Normandy, the girl everyone loved, including your new roommate and Max Holloway, the boy you're crushing on. Even when Max starts to take an interest, it feels like Becca is still out there, somewhere, watching. And waiting to come back.

Review: Daphne Du Maurier's famous and well loved romantic suspense classic Rebecca gets a CW makeover in Paige Harbison's New Girl. For the most part, many of the major characters and plot points from the original book are retained. Where New Girl fails miserably is building the mystery and suspense around Becca's persona and her connection to Max. Instead of becoming a force of nature, especially in the minds of the characters, Becca is resorted to a one dimensional rich girl who is an attention starved nymphomaniac. Though it was interesting to see Becca play a large part in the New Girl, I found her chapters to be redundant and boring.
  As far as the new girl herself, I liked her for the most part. I didn't understand her desire to go to boarding school, but I guess she has to get to Manderly somehow. I hated how she was jerked around by Max and I didn't support their relationship at all. I thought Max was cold and arrogant. He did absolutely nothing for me. The original Max de Winter was charismatic and charming, which made the ending of the book colorful and shocking. The ending of New Girl, however, was extremely disappointing and takes away all of the questions we have about responsibility. Do yourself a favor: Skip this one and read the original.

Rating: 1 star

Words of Caution: Strong sexual content mentioned, language, and lots of scenes of underage drinking. Recommended for Grades 10 and up.

If you like this book try: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, Mrs. De Winter by Susan Hill
Rummanah Aasi
 I'm delighted to have The Apocalypse Gene authors, Suki Michelle and Carlyle Clark on the blog today. Suki and Carlyle would like to share their top 10 bad habits they would like to break. A few of their bad habits mimic my own. How about you?

Top 10 Bad Habits You Wish You'd Break

1. Procrastination
2. Midnight snacks.
3. Putting Equal in my coffee every morning. I think sugar is healthier!
4. Writing so slowly and meticulously, it takes an hour to produce a sentence.
5. Not practicing the piano.
6. Not walking my dog often or long enough.
7. Feeding our calico cat too much – she looks like a throw pillow.
8. Chicken fingers.
9. Enjoying the little gladiator fights between our two cats instead of breaking them up.

   Thanks for stopping by, Suki and Carlyle! By the way, I don't think there's anything wrong with daily chocolate. Chocolate is good for you. :)

Global pandemic is raging.

Olivya Wright-Ono's once loving home has been converted to a hospice for the dying. Her ability to see auras forces her to witness, with agonizing detail, the vibrant colors of life consumed by malignancy.

The beautiful and troubled, Mikah, is an elite Empath in the ancient Kindred clan, led by the brooding, ever-morphing, monster named Prime. Mikah has learned a terrible truth . . . the plague is linked to Kindred origins. When Olivya sees evidence of disease creeping into her mother's aura, she has no one to turn to but Mikah. Can he unearth the Kindred secrets and find a cure?

Can she trust this boy whose power allows him to manipulate her very emotions? With her mother's life, and that of the world, in the balance, Olivya and Mikah embark on a quest to stop the Pandemic, only to discover it is far, far more than a mere disease . . .
Rummanah Aasi
  The Restorer, the first book in the Graveyard Queen series by Amanda Stevens, was a delightful new find and enjoyable read. After the events that transpired in Charleston, South Carolina, I couldn't wait to find out what adventure Amelia Gray has next. I was thrilled to discover that Mira offered an advanced reader's copy of the book on Netgalley. Needless to say, many thanks for Mira and Netgalley. The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens is released today! This review contains no spoilers for The Restorer nor The Kingdom.

Description (from Goodreads): Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town…My name is Amelia Gray. They call me The Graveyard Queen. I've been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I'm coming to think I have another purpose here.Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to a hidden grave I've discovered in the woods? Something is eating away at the soul of this town—this withering kingdom—and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth.

Review: The Kingdom takes place a few months after the events of The Restorer. Stevens gives enough background information for new readers to the series, however, I would definitely recommend reading the first book in order to fully appreciate the spooky, dark, Gothic, and suspenseful world of Amelia Gray.  Though the murder mystery in The Restorer was effectively resolved by the end of the book, we like Amelia were left with many questions regarding to her past. Though there is also a murder mystery present in The Kingdom, there is a stronger focus on the questions that puzzled us and Amelia about her ability to see ghosts and why those rules her father established about contacting the ghosts are reinforced strongly. Stevens avoids the troublesome sophomore slump with presenting us with a new, different, page turning thriller.
   Leaving behind the sultry setting, her heart, and the home of many years in Charleston, South Carolina, Amelia is transported to Asher Falls, a remote, isolated mountain town surround by water and mountains. Buried under the town and the water lurks one of the two cemeteries that was flooded by a dam, with ghosts of those buried in a state of unrest looking for justice, and in the mountains lays a dark evil that feeds on the greed and power hunger of the people of the town. Amelia feels the unrest of the ghosts. Though she logically thinks she needs to leave the town, she can't help but feel drawn to the strange town- like a calling, a vague feeling of having been there before, a need.
   I really like Amelia. Though stumbling and trying to make sense of what happened in Charleston, she pushes forward and doesn't wallow in her sadness. Though I know that she is passionate about her job and is extremely compassionate towards others, I didn't really feel like I got to know her outside of her job, but thankfully that all changes in The Kingdom, where Amelia's character growth takes front and center of the book. After discovering her secrets, we have a better understanding of her lifestyle and personality, making her that much more endearing and likeable. 

   Still dealing with everything that happen, Amelia feels a need to get away from Charleston, she feels a pull back home and a person that haunts her heart and caused her to break all the rules she's ever known and followed- Delvin, who doesn’t physically appear in this book is still very much present in spirit. I really missed Delvin and I wondered how he is dealing with everything that happened in the last few months. We are, however, introduced to another captivating character in the form of the charming and carefree man named Thane. Thane hides behind his carefully constructed social role of a wealthy local, but he is really a complex and caring man that complements Amelia quite well. Before you groan and say "not another love triangle", let me assure you that there is none. While there is mutual attraction between Thane and Amelia, their past and present are interwoven and hints at Amelia's current job. Thane is the grandson of the wealthy local Pell Asher, behind many of the bad things that has happens to the town. Amelia hired by the local historical society to redo the rich Asher’s family and now local cemetery. What she uncovers will change her whole life forever and that of those who live in Asher Falls.
   Though the murder mystery was a bit of a let down and could have been a bit tighter, I was entirely captivated by Amelia's past. There are many eye-opening and jaw-dropping moments reveals which answers some of our question but also provoke another slew of questions.While I wouldn't say the book ended in a cliffhanger, I will say that I will be eagerly awaiting the next book's release, which is next month, to find out whether or not Amelia returns to Charleston.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is are a few allusions to sex and disturbing images in the book. Though marketed to adult readers, older teen readers who enjoy urban fantasy and ghost stories will be interested in the book.

If you like this book try: The Prophet by Amanda Stevens (Graveyard Queen #3) available in April 2012, Haunted by Heather Graham, Gravelight by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Rummanah Aasi
   I've been inspired by Small Review's Tips and Tricks feature and thought I could do something similar for readers who have questions about manga. This week's question has to do with the format of manga:

Is all manga written back to front and by Japanese companies like Tokyopop?

  Manga that is found in the U.S. and other countries usually follows the traditional style as found in Japan. Japanese Manga is to be read from the right side to the left, which is the opposite of how we ordinarily read books in the U.S. Not only do you read the pages from right to left, but you also read the panels and text from right to left. This is why when you open the manga volume like a regular book, you will find the ending and have to flip it to the opposite to begin the story. There are a few manga series that I've read that are published in the U.S. that are look and read like traditional books, but many artists have opposed this. Fans of manga, who are generally interested in the Japanese culture have requested and been active that many manga produced in America today retain their traditional Japanese style.
   Manga is generally published differently than American comics. Manga is usually much smaller and collected in small volumes. Unlike American comics, manga are first published in manga magazines that collect different stories. If they gain popularity, then the stories are collected and published in a new volume, which is why it takes so long for a new manga volume of your favorite series to come out in the U.S.

How do you read a manga?

  While this question was not asked, I think it's logically the next question asked. Reading a manga for the first time can be a bit confusing. Where do you start? What do I read first? Reading a manga is a bit like watching a movie. You have to pay attention to the actor's facial expressions, body language, and their interactions with other actors and the setting on screen. Instead of seeing all of this on the screen, you have to read it.

Below is a panel with instructions on how to read a manga:

Image from: Manga Page Turners

Okay, now that we have a grid to help us out, let's see how it applies to different pages of a manga:

A.) One panel:
Image from Manga for Kids

B.) Single Page:
Image from Manga for Kids

C.) Two Page Spread: 
Image from Manga for Kids

 It takes time to get adjusted to the new format, but with practice it becomes less jarring and noticeable.

Do you have a question about manga? All you have to do is simply fill out this simple form. The form is completely confidential so please don't feel shy in submitting a question and remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question.

Rummanah Aasi

  Kiss Me, I'm Irish is a read-along of HOUNDED by Kevin Hearne, and hosted by awesome bloggers Felicia of Geeky Blogger's Book Blog, Amanda of On a Book Bender, Ash of Smash Attack Reads!, Jen of In the Closet with a Bibliophile and Missie the Unread Reader. For more information on how to join, click here. Today we are discussing Chapters 16-20.

Chapters 16-20

1.  Just after Atticus is shot, Oberon has to "ninja" his way out of the shop and into Hal's Beamer (with the icky air freshener). Have you ever been in a situation where you had to "ninja" your way out and try not to be discovered? If so, what happened?

When you have a large family and four other siblings, it's hard to go or do anything unawares. ;)

2. Atticus's main goal through a large portion of the book is not only protecting Oberon, but also protecting the sword. You are now living in a paranormal world and you need a weapon! What weapon do you choose and what can it do? 

I have to fan-girly once again, but I'd pick Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth. The Lasso was forged by Hephaestus. It's unbreakable, and is capable of confining even beings as physically powerful as Superman. Empowered by the Fires of Hestia, the Lasso forces anyone held by it to tell the absolute truth. The fires are said to even be able to cure insanity, as they did in the case of Ares, God of War, when he attempted to incite World War III, but renounced his plan when the Lasso showed him that such a war would destroy all life on Earth, including any potential worshipers he sought to gain from it. (Source: Superhero Database).

3. To recharge and heal after being shot, Atticus sleeps naked, tattoos to the earth, in a patch of grass near the Civic Center in downtown Scottsdale. Where is the weirdest place you have ever slept? 

 I can't think of any place. I had a professor in college who had the worst monotone voice ever. It took will power and large amounts of caffeine to stay awake in his class. I still remember a guy sitting in the front row who would fall asleep and snore very loudly within the first 10 minutes of class (I'd actually timed it after the third time). The class was very small, about 15 kids and there was no where to hide and sleep. I wondered if that guy ever passed that class. 

4. We finally find out some very interesting information about Granuaile and I don't know about you, but I certainly wasn't expecting to find that she's sharing her head with someone else. What about you, did you expect anything along those lines? If not, what were you expecting concerning Granuaile?  

 I really like Granuaile and think she will become an interesting character as the series progresses. I had a hint about her, but I thought she was just another supernatural character. While I wasn't disappointed to know that she's pretty normal besides the dual personality, I kinda wished there was more of a development leading up to the discovery. It seemed to kind of come out of nowhere. Now that I look back, I actually like how she's kinda like the 'normal' version of Atticus and serves as a great contrast to him.
5.  Laksha is a witch, a truly evil one at that for many of the things she's done in the past. However, she's supposedly seen the error of her ways. Do you think she really has? Would you be willing to trust her? Do you think Atticus is smart to have decided to trust her to help him with the "other" witches?

 I love Laksha only because I don't know what she has been planning and there's something spontaneous about her. I love the fact that she is Southeast Asian and not the stereotypical woman who is passive and quiet. I'm really curious about her background and hope to get more of her back story. I don't think she has seen the errors of her ways. Not at all. She got her butt kicked and now she's looking to dust herself off and get back in the fight. If I was Atticus, I would definitely keep my eye on her.
Rummanah Aasi
  Thanks to the generosity of many authors and publishers, I receive advanced readers copies of books to read and review on the blog. Some reviews make it to the blog while others I didn't finish because I'm frankly not the right reader for it. Now I've come to the point where I'm quickly running out of book space on my bookshelves and I need your help! I would like to giveaway a box of ARCs to one very lucky reader. Old titles along with hot, new, and upcoming titles are included! Here's just a glimpse of what you will find inside:

What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?
Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.
But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round.   

  Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could--from the criminal's point of view. And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod. In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret--could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

It's been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. Now three ordinary teenagers, the winners of NASA's unprecedented, worldwide lottery, are about to become the first young people in space--and change their lives forever.
Mia, from Norway, hopes this will be her punk band's ticket to fame and fortune.

  Midori believes it's her way out of her restrained life in Japan.
Antoine, from France, just wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible.
It's the opportunity of a lifetime, but little do the teenagers know that something sinister is waiting for them on the desolate surface of the moon. And in the black vacuum of space... no one is coming to save them.

  In this chilling adventure set in the most brutal landscape known to man, highly acclaimed Norwegian novelist Johan Harstad creates a vivid and frightening world of possibilities we can only hope never come true.

Fifteen-year-old Isabelle Scott loves her life by the boardwalk on the supposed wrong side of the tracks in North Carolina. But when tragedy strikes, a social worker sends her to live with a long-lost uncle and his preppy privileged family. Isabelle is taken away from everything she's ever known, and, unfortunately, inserting her into the glamorous lifestyle of Emerald Cove doesn't go so well. Her cousin Mirabelle Monroe isn't thrilled to share her life with an outsider, and, in addition to dealing with all the rumors and backstabbing that lurk beneath their classmates' Southern charm, a secret is unfolding that will change both girls' lives forever.

                                            GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
Rummanah Aasi
I have fond memories of story-time as a kid, where my class would gather up close to listen and watch as the teacher and/or librarian would read picture books or other books aloud. While I student taught in elementary school, I always looked forward to reading to the kids. The best times were when you see how the kids are involved in the story and you could tease them about what would happen next. This year I'm taking a part in a picture book challenge hosted by Jennifer over at An Abundance of Books  in hopes of finding some great reads and new favorite titles.  Today I'm featuring a book and reading theme, which I didn't consciously intend to do. It just happened that way. I will be reviewing: A Story for Bear by Dennis Haseley, Excuse Me, But that's My Book by Lauren Child, and The Wonderful Book by Leonid Gore.

Description: A young bear who is fascinated by the mysterious marks he sees on paper finds a friend when a kind woman reads to him.

Review: A Story for Bear is a heart warming story that captures the excitement and rapture of being a told a story. The plot is very simple: A young bear finds a piece of paper with black marks on it in the woods and keeps it for several years, wondering about its meaning. One summer, he wanders farther away from his usual trail and discovers a cabin in a clearing, and a woman holding a mysterious square thing in her hands. He returns day after day, his curiosity compelling him closer to her. One afternoon, the woman invites him to sit with her and begins to read. Thus begins a daily routine of the woman reading aloud to the bear, who cannot understand the words, but is mesmerized by the tones and melodies of her voice. 
  The bear is anthropomorphized, but still a believably realistic wild bear with his movements. You do have to spend disbelief that the bear can understand what the woman is holding is a book and that the stories make sense to him. Some may think that makes the book awkward, but I disagree. I equate the bear with a toddler who can't grasp every story they are told. LaMarche's illustrations, done in warm tones of acrylic and colored pencil on watercolor paper, support the warmth of the story and the magic of storytelling.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for K-2nd Grade.

If you like this book try: We are in a book! by Mo Willems, Bats at the Library by Brian Lies

Description: When Lola's favorite book is not on the library's shelf, her older brother, Charlie, tries to find another book she will enjoy.

Review: Though I've heard of Charlie and Lola before, I haven't read any of the books. In this book, Lola loves Beetles, Bugs, and Butterflies, which is simply the best book in the world and the only thing she will read. When Lola finds out that the book is not on the shelf and another patron has taken out the book from the library, Charlie, Lola's older brother, comes to the rescue before a temper tantrum begins by helping Lola find other books that will enjoy. 
 I have to admit that the librarian in me couldn't help but chuckle and sigh along with Charlie in his frustration to help his sister. Anyone who has dealt with a child who is extremely picky will sympathize and encourage him to keep trying. Parents and older adults will know Lola's one track mind really well and can anticipate what she will say next. The book is filled with lots of laughs and the high-energy text are matched by the exciting, eye-catching design and clever collage-style art.

Rating: 4 stars.

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Preschool to 2nd Grade.

If you like this book try: The Library by Sarah Stewart, Miss Marlarkey Leaves No Reader Behind by Judy Finchler

Description: When various forest animals discover a mysterious object in the woods, they each use it for a different purpose, until a boy reads stories aloud from it, much to the animals' delight.

Review: The Wonderful Book was a really clever read. For the youngsters, I think they would laugh and shake their heads with what the animals do with the book. Older readers, however, will probably stop and think of other ways how a book is used and whether or not the animals are right to think outside of the box. The short, straightforward text is well matched by the whimsical, oversize animal figures that fill up the pages. Gore's artwork and writing would work well with group storytelling.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Preschool to K.

If you like this book try: Wild About Books by Judy Sierra
Rummanah Aasi
  For the past few months or so I've been having dystopian fatigue. With the excitement surrounding the Hunger Games movie and the influx of dystopian reads in the YA world, it's hard to not get swept up in the frenzy. Unfortunately, when a genre becomes popular you get a lot of books that are derivative-filled with the same plot and characters. Just when I thought I read your average dystopian book, along comes The Apocalypse Gene by Suki Michelle and Carlyle Clark which dares to go beyond the dystopian boundaries and dares to do something new.

Description (from Goodreads): Global pandemic is raging.

Olivya Wright-Ono's once loving home has been converted to a hospice for the dying. Her ability to see auras forces her to witness, with agonizing detail, the vibrant colors of life consumed by malignancy. 

  The beautiful and troubled, Mikah, is an elite Empath in the ancient Kindred clan, led by the brooding, ever-morphing, monster named Prime. Mikah has learned a terrible truth . . . the plague is linked to Kindred origins. When Olivya sees evidence of disease creeping into her mother's aura, she has no one to turn to but Mikah. Can he unearth the Kindred secrets and find a cure?
   Can she trust this boy whose power allows him to manipulate her very emotions? With her mother's life, and that of the world, in the balance, Olivya and Mikah embark on a quest to stop the Pandemic, only to discover it is far, far more than a mere disease . .

Review: By combining elements of the dystopian, paranormal/supernatural, science fiction, fantasy, and adventure, The Apocalypse Gene is a book that can be enjoyed by readers of all these individual genres. The story world building is intriguingly built as the past and future begin to collide. Ethical dilemmas and modern-day humor add depth to the tale while we are shown somber visions of apocalypse with every twist and turn of the plot. The different genre elements are put into play as the neck breaking actions begin at the very first page. While we aren't given answers right away and feel disoriented at first, we are swept away by what is unfolding right before our eyes just like our main characters.
  Olivya has the ability to see auras, something she has always tried to control and keep separate from her daily life, which is extremely hard to do when your house is turned into a hospice. Who would want to see the vibrant colors of death and diseases? Olivya’s abilities lend a very vivid and artistic element to the story. I enjoyed the descriptions of emotions through color and a glimpse of what it means to be a member of her world. I also loved the fact that Olivya is of mixed race, part African American and part Japanese, which both cultures play an important role in her life. Despite the dark ambiance surrounding Olivya, her humor is what keeps The Apocalypse Gene from being a dark and dreary read.
  While Olivya is rooted to reality, Mikah is otherworldly. He brings a mythical and supernatural slant to the book with his not quite human abilities. His story also connects the death Olivya is surrounded by every day with worlds beyond imagination and monsters of alien background. I had a fun time trying to figure out what exactly Mikah is and his role with the pandemic.
  The combination of Olivya and Mikah twists classically separate genres into the main story arc. Although I loved the different elements incorporated into the story, I felt it made the plot very convoluted. I had to get past all the various mythological creatures, invading aliens, technological gadgets, etc. to get to the root of the story, which is about belief-believing in yourself, your friends, your family and the hope of a better future. The characters come alive when things are kept simple, allowing the readers to connect to the characters at a personal level. If the authors decided to concentrate and develop a few elements in their story, it would have worked better.
 As a whole, The Apocalypse Gene was a very interesting albeit frustrating read, that offers a genre buffet-style read, which should appeal to many different readers.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and PG-13 violence. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, Possession by Elana Johnson
Rummanah Aasi
  As part of the Teen Book Scene promotional tour for Cole Gibson's debut novel, Katana, I have Cole here to share with us the ten most important things that every samurai girl needs. While I haven't gotten around to reading the book, I've heard great things about it. A lot of reviewers are describing it as Buffy meets Kill Bill. If that sounds like your kind of book, be sure to check it out. Katana was released on March 8th!

 Cole Gibson's Top 10 Items Every Samurai Girl Needs

1. Glitter bandages. There’s no reason an injury can’t be stylish.

2. Kakute. Another decorative item that can double as a weapon. The kakute or “horn finger” is a metal ring with two metal spikes most often worn on the middle finger for the ultimate “give ‘em the finger.”

3. Neosporin. Infections from cuts and scrapes are no joke. Don’t be a hero.

4. Dr. Scholl’s shoe inserts. Who says you can’t fight in comfort?

5. Chip-resistant nail polish. Because you know how annoying it is to chip your polish after delivering a perfectly timed left hook.

6. Kanzashi. These decorative hair pins can double as a fashion statement as well as a hidden weapon.

7. Kashi Trail Mix. Surviving a ninja ambush takes energy. Keep trail mix on hand for a pick-me-up on the go.

8. A list of clever comebacks. You never know when you’ll have to engage in witty banter with the enemy. Best to be prepared so as not to resort to the ever clichéd, “Your face!”

9. Listerine pocket packs. What better way to get the taste of blood out of your mouth?

10. A cute boy. Who else is going to hold your stuff for you while you fight?

 Rileigh Martin would love to believe that adrenaline had given her the uncanny courage and strength to fend off three muggers. But it doesn't explain her dreams of 15th-century Japan, the incredible fighting skills she suddenly possesses, or the strange voice giving her battle tips and danger warnings.
  While worrying that she's going crazy (always a reputation ruiner), Rileigh gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she's harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior.
  Relentlessly attacked by ninjas, Rileigh has no choice but to master the katana--a deadly Japanese sword that's also the key to her past. As the spirit grows stronger and her feelings for Kim intensify, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she's always been and embracing the warrior inside her.
Rummanah Aasi

  Kiss Me, I'm Irish is a read-along of HOUNDED by Kevin Hearne, and hosted by awesome bloggers Felicia of Geeky Blogger's Book Blog, Amanda of On a Book Bender, Ash of Smash Attack Reads!, Jen of In the Closet with a Bibliophile and Missie the Unread Reader. This post will contain answers for last week and this week. Hope that's okay with you ladies!

Chapters 6-10

1. In Chapter 6, Atticus goes hunting with Oberon and Flidais. What was supposed to be a fun hunting trip turned rather disastrous. Were you expecting something like this to happen or did it catch you by surprise? Have you ever had something that should have been fun turn disastrous or nearly disastrous?

I expected something to go wrong and crank up the action in the book, but I didn't think it would be so disastrous. I've had lots of great plans and expectations to do things that I thought were fun like a part or a movie night only to find people back out at the last minute, which is why I stopped planning for things. It just seems counterproductive.

2. We are only briefly introduced to the witches (or, a witch) in chapter 7. What are your first impressions? How much would you trust the witches? Why?

 After reading lots of paranormal/urban fantasy books, I've learned quickly to never trust anyone who has super powers. I don't trust the witches at all, because they always seem to back out of their deals and twist things around to favor themselves just like the fey.

3. Oberon says, “With dogs you just go up and smell their asses and you know where you stand. It’s so much easier. Why can’t humans do that?” Do you ever wish there was an easier way to find out where you stand with someone (besides Oberon’s suggestion, of course)? In what cases would it be easier or better to hide your true feelings?

Of course! There were lots of times where I wished I had a radar like Cinder does in Marissa Meyer's book where she has a light that goes off when she suspects someone and if they are not telling the truth. I think it would be easier to hide your true feelings in a life or death situation or when you have the potential to really hurt someone. 
4. Chapter 9 makes Atticus’ life much more difficult: the witches are in some way working with Aeghus Og, Bres comes after Atticus, and more trouble appears at the end of the chapter. Have you made sense of what has happened thus far? Any predictions for what might happen?

 I had an idea of what would happen next, but since I already the book and knows what happens I'm going to avoid this question.
5. Atticus has had plenty of time to cultivate attitudes and ethics that would allow him to live a very long time. What do you think it is about Atticus that has allowed him to live for as long as he has?

 Well, he is smart and keeps thing in check.  He has a very small circle of people who can trust and help him when in need. Plus, you know, he's a druid so magic spells are also a big help. :)

Chapters 11-15

1. I love Leif Helgarson, Viking Vampire, Esq. I have to say that combo makes a pretty cool attorney. If you could have a paranormal/mythical beastie (or combo) covering your tuckus in court, what would you choose and why?

You're making me think on a Friday morning? Hrm..well, I guess I would have to go with Jim, the were-jaguar who is head of security, from the Kate Daniel series. Jim is a non-sense guy who doesn't hide around the bushes. He's super smart and a sleuth so he would have no difficulty in finding evidence and using those to my benefit.

2. The police show up to question Atticus about his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon. If you could own any dog breed, what would it be and why? (P.S. Oberon is going on my list of favorite sidekicks!)

 I honestly don't know. I don't own a dog or know much about them. 
3. Malina Sokolowski and the other Sisters of the Three Auroras coven have my antennae up. What is your opinion of them?

I don't like them at all. They're are sneaky and can't be trusted.  I'm pretty sure they have an ulterior motive too.

4. Brighid, goddess of poetry, fire and the forge, gave Atticus the power of Cold Iron, which can be used to fight off that nasty lilttle hellspawn. If you could wield one magical power, what would it be and why?

I know it's a cop-out but I would love to have Rogue's power from the X-men who is able to absorb other people's abilities by a touch. If that's not possible than Professor X's talent of memory manipulation. If you can't already tell, I'm a huge Xmen fan. :D

5. The cops show up at Atticus’ shop to search for poor Oberon, who remains magically hidden throughout the ordeal. What is the one thing you would do if you could remain hidden from sight? I want to hear some good answers for this one!

 Not sure to be honest. Being voyeuristic just sounds so ... creepy.
Rummanah Aasi
  As part of the Teen Book Scene promotional tour for Shirley Vernick's Blood Lie, today I have a really interesting post about its characters. Although the book takes place in the 1920s where cell phones did not exist, but what if these characters were placed in our world now? Fast forward 80+ years and let's meet Jack, Emaline, Lydie, Harry, and George.

Emaline@Jack16:  Happy bday sweetie!

Jack16@Emaline: Thanx. U r up early. Will I c u after work?

Emaline@Jack16: !!!

Jack16@Emaline: gr8. Paradise Woods, our tree, 4:00?

Emaline@Jack16: Double !! No, triple !!!

Emaline@Lydie: Hey cuz, u have 2 b my alibi l8r. Hot date!

Lydie@Emaline: George?

Emaline@Lydie: Nope. Mystery man. LOL

George@Emaline: Can I c u later? I want to ask u something.

Emaline@George: Can’t. I’ll be at my cousin Lydie’s.

George@Emaline: Damn.

Emaline@George: What’s up?

George@Emaline: Why – is the suspense is killing u?

Emaline@George: Just curious, that’s all.

George@Emaline: I think u can’t wait 2 c me, THAT’s all.

Emaline@Lydie: I repeat, it is NOT George.

George@Emaline: Em? U still there?

Harry@Jack16: Hey bro, guess who thinks u r hot?

Jack16@Harry: idk idc

Harry@Jack16: Would u care if I said Sarah Gelman?

Jack16@Harry: Yeah, right.

Harry@Jack16: So, can I tell her u like her back?

Jack16@Harry: NO!

Harry@Jack16: Does that mean u don’t like her, or u just don’t want her 2 know it yet?

Jack16@Harry: Drop it, twerp, or I’ll put Tabasco sauce in your matzo balls.

September 22, 1928, Massena, New York. Jack Pool's sixteenth birthday. He's been restless lately, especially during this season of more-times-at-the-synagogue than you can shake a stick at. If it wasn't Rosh Hashanah, then it was Yom Kippur, and if it wasn't Yom Kippur, it was the Sabbath. But temple's good for some things. It gives him lots of time to daydream about a beautiful but inaccessible Gentile girl named Emaline. And if she isn't on his mind, then he's thinking about his music and imagining himself playing the cello with the New York Philharmonic. Yup, music is definitely his ticket out of this remote whistle-stop town—he doesn't want to be stuck here one more minute. But he doesn't realize exactly how stuck he is until Emaline's little sister Daisy goes missing and he and his family are accused of killing her for a blood sacrifice.
Blood Lie was inspired by a real blood libel that took place when a small girl disappeared from Massena, New York, in 1928, and an innocent Jewish boy was called a murderer.
Rummanah Aasi
  You may have noticed about a lack of adult book reviews posted lately. I've been through a really bad adult fiction reading slump lately. I'm trying several genres to help me snap out of it and so far it's been working. I thought I would give my first adult historical mystery a shot and picked up the first book in the Sebastian St. Cyr series. I have a friend who really enjoys this series and suggested I give them a shot during my slump. I read and enjoyed the first one.

Description (from Goodreads): It's 1811, and the threat of revolution haunts the upper classes of King George Ill's England. A beautiful young woman is found savagely murdered on the altar steps of an ancient church near Westminster Abbey, and the dueling pistol found at the scene and the damning testimony of a witness both point to one man--Sebastian St. Cyr.

Review: The first book in the Sebastin St. Cyr series is off to a racing start with the gruesome near-decapitation and rape of a lovely actress. Sebastian St. Cyr, the youngest but only surviving son of an earl, stands accused of brutally raping and murdering a young actress. As he's led away by police, an accidental knifing of a police officer is also attributed to him. Sebastian runs, bent on finding the real murderer and clearing his own name. and an innocent man on the run. What turns out to be a simple murder mystery, quickly evolves into what seems to be a political game where the Whigs try to gain control of the government before the Tory prince becomes regent.
  I was pleasantly surprised by the fast-paced plot of this Victorian mystery. Harris does a great job in  pitting the sophisticated, overly mannered elite against the grimier lower echelons of 1811 London society. We see all social classes at work in the book as the plot and mystery unfold. I thought the mystery was very well interwoven. At first I was a bit disoriented by the sheer amount of characters that are introduced, but I quickly got over that when I realized that all of these seemingly unconnected people leads to a maze set with clues connecting everyone from the high-ranking politicians to actresses who have side jobs. What I found unusual is that a lot of the character development of Sebastian comes from the people who is associated with him.
  Since this is the first book in a series, there is much we don't know about Sebastian. We know that he was an intelligent officer in the army during the Napoleonic War and suffers from shell shocks or from post traumatic stress disorder. He does have a real life genetic mutation, which allows him to have uncanny seeing and hearing abilities. The author describes him as a Darcy and James Bond combo, so far I do find him charming and he does have the skills to be an effective sleuth. I am interested to get to know him better as I continue the series. What Angels Fear will appeal to readers who like historical fiction, political intrigue, romance, and of course mystery.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, small sex scenes, and violence (which mostly happens off the page). Recommended for older teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn, And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander, The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry
Rummanah Aasi
 I first heard about Friendship on Fire on Nic's blog, Irresistible Reads. For full disclosure, I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange of an honest review. I liked the book and would recommend it to someone who enjoys contemporary romance.

Description (from Goodreads): Daisy Brooks’s senior year is not off to a great start. Her first assembly as school captain is slightly ruined by her new bright orange hairdo – thanks to her father’s inability to choose correct permanent hair dye. The local Blonde Brigade is already giving her a hard time (and affectionately dubbed her ‘ranga’) and her teachers have done the unthinkable and handed out assignments on the first day back.
   The one bright spot in Daisy’s first day back is the appearance of a private school boy hottie. Oh, and her best friend and vice-captain, Roman, who she can count on to hold her temper and have her back, but the winds of change are sweeping through Daisy’s small town of Twin Rocks. Turns out the private school hottie is new in town and fast friends with her brothers. His name is Nate and he turns Daisy’s legs to jelly. But her totally platonic best friend, always reliable Roman, is starting to act strange.
   This is Daisy’s senior year. She’ll learn hard truths and lose small battles on the path to adulthood but, hey, nobody said it was going to be easy.

Review: Danielle Weiler's Friendship on Fire is a book that a lot of readers will be able to relate. Our narrator is Daisy, an Aussie who is in her 12th year of school. Like most kids her age, she is trying to find her place in the world. The journey with bumps on the road particularly when it comes to relationships isn't always smoothed. Not only is Daisy uncertain about her future, but she also finds herself falling in love for the first time, changing her friendships, and learning more about herself along the way all the while keeping her head above the water with all her responsibilities as a school captain and student.

   It took me a while to connect to Daisy. She had a fiery personality and a bad temper that often got her to trouble. I found her to be a bit whiny and self absorbed, but as I continued to read Daisy opened up a bit more and I didn't mind her as much. Though she is at a crossroads about her future, Daisy seems more preoccupied about wanting to be in love. When she spots an arrogant hottie from another school, she is determined to find out who he is but more importantly, if he's dating anyone. For the first time, Daisy is listening to her heart and not her mind. During the process of a crush and the highs of a beginning relationship, Daisy loses her perspective on life and becomes one of those girls whose lives revolve around her boyfriend. What makes Daisy different is that recognizes what she's become and struggles with being true to herself or giving into the feelings of a first love. She makes real choices and mistakes that many teens will be able to relate too. There were quite a few times I found myself wanting to remind her to listen to her gut and stop being so gullible, but that's only because I'm cynical and had my suspicion radar go off on numerous occasions. Weiler does a great job in showing how ones teen years can be fun, challenging, and confusing time. 
  I also liked the supporting characters around Daisy. She has a very close knit family and I loved how protective her big brothers were of her. Her parents were much more lenient than mine, but I was glad that they trusted her enough to make her own mistakes and let her grow. There were plenty of times I got frustrated with Daisy, especially when so many people around her advised her about the mistakes she is making, but she ignored them all. 
  As Daisy's boyfriend, I didn't care for Nate. Sure he was rich, cute and had a great body to lust after, but beyond that superficial surface he was a complete jerk who gave nothing but back handed compliments. I had a really hard time trying to understand what he saw in Daisy. Perhaps he craved her undivided attention or maybe she was a pet he took care of during his endless amount of spare time. You don't have to be a genius to figure out that Nate is not the right person for her. Though I did want Daisy to be happy, I couldn't fully support her in this relationship especially how they barely meet in one scene and then madly makeout in the other.
  I did, however, really like Daisy's best friend Roman, who truly cared about her. Daisy and Roman's friendship is solid and slowly becomes more. You very easily tell that Roman liked Daisy. I grew frustrated with him when he pulled the "I don't want to tell her because that'll ruin our friendship card" when clearly he was miserable watching her and Nate get close. Regardless, I really liked watching these two interact. 

 Though the book's length is a lot longer than needed for this contemporary story, Weiler brought a lot of issues female teens deal with in her story, which made it realistic. I liked her character development and humor in the book. The plot, as you can probably tell from the description is predictable, but if the book was edited a bit more and trimmed, the story's climax and Daisy's self realization could have been much stronger and memorable. Aside from that I liked the setting. Being set in Australia it was fun to get glimpses of the culture and learn some of the slang, which I understood by the context. Over all I enjoyed Friendship on Fire and I think many people could relate to and identify themselves with Daisy's struggles and her rite of passage.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, underage drinking, crude sexual humor, and a couple of allusions to sex. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kelley, Bloom by Elizabeth Scott
Rummanah Aasi

   I've been inspired by Small Review's Tips and Tricks feature and thought I could do something similar for readers who have questions about manga. This week's question has to do with terminology that many readers and reviewers have thrown around:

What is the difference between manga, anime and graphic novels?

First of all, thank you for the awesome question! There are ongoing debates in how these terms are defined. Below are the definitions that most scholars agree on. I defined graphic novel first since the forms the basis for manga and anime.

Graphic novels:  Graphic novel is a relatively new term popularized by Will Eisner when he presented his stand-alone long work, A Contract with God, as a 'graphic novel'. What Eisner meant was that his work  is a bound narrative that tell a story through sequential art with or without text. These comics may have been conceived originally as novel-length works or be compilations of previously serialized stories. Graphic novels can range in length from 50 pages to thousands, but they are always intent on telling a longer story arc. They may be collected from serials (as are most superhero stories, for example, and most manga) but they may also be created as a graphic novel. Many people may be involved in creating a graphic novel, or it may be done by one creator who both writes and illustrates the story. Most people think that since novel is implied that all graphic novels are fiction, which is completely wrong.

Still confused? Let's try a visual example. The first image you see is an excerpt from Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis which chronicles her childhood under the Iranian Revolution. As you can see the image below doesn't tell the whole story and you would need several images to find out what happens next.

Here is a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip where the story begins and ends in the same line. You don't need another image to tell you what happens next.

Manga: Manga is the Japanese word for whimsical or humorous comics. Outside of Japan, the term is usually interpreted as comics or graphic novels that were originally published in Japan. It is either read in serialized form in monthly magazines or in volumes. Manga come in many different genres and are created for every audience, age range, and sensibility, so there are comics intended for kids as well as comics intended for adults. Like many other books and graphic novels, manga comes in a variety of genres and merge illustrations with text. The illustrations are mostly black and white, although there are very few in color. Manga is read differently than your usual graphic novel. For one thing, it is read right to left, which means you start at the back of the book. There are other things associated with manga too, particularly the "big-eyed" Japanese art style, the giant robots, the fangirly-like schoolgirls, etc.

Anime: Anime from the English word animation which was then adopted into Japanese as animeshon or Japanimation (what we called it in the U.S.), which was then shortened to the term anime. Anime is basically any animation that is produced in Japan, from feature films (Spirited Away, Princess Monoke) to manga adaptations (Fruit Basket and several others ) to direct-to-video releases know as OAVs (R.O.D. Read or Die, Voices of a Distant Star.) Most kids and teens today are familiar with TV show anime (i.e. Pokemon, etc that appear on the cartoon network) and a few of the feature films (Howl's Moving Castle.) The Japanese animate for many different audiences and have a larger demand for them than we currently do in the US. Just do a quick search on Hulu and you will find pages and pages of examples. As note, many anime are based on manga series, particularly if the manga become best sellers, but not all. A few manga are produced from anime stories.  Below are a trailer for Spirited Away (which you'll see has been dubbed in English) and the opening and ending credits of Vampire Knight Season 1:

Wow, I never thought I had to think so hard on a Monday morning! Hopefully, this post makes sense and I haven't completely failed. If not, please let me know.

Do you have a question about manga? All you have to do is simply fill out this form. The form is completely confidential so please don't feel shy in submitting a question and remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question.

Rummanah Aasi
 Happy Friday, Everyone! Today, I'm delighted to introduce you to Amy Lignor, the author of the Angel Chronicles series. The first book in the series is Until Next Time is now available. Paranormal and supernatural romances are virtually everywhere from our library and bookstore shelves. Some may have almost an identical cover or even book description where the only change seems to be the character's names. I can only imagine the obstacles authors who want to pursue this genre face. I asked Amy about these high expectations and how she works past them. Be sure to check out the giveaway information at the bottom of this post for your chance to win a copy of Amy's book!

 What expectations and/or pressures do you face with writing in a highly popular genre and how do you deal with them?

   Before this ‘jump’ into YA, I concentrated mainly on historical fiction. I love doing research about famous characters throughout history, as well as events - real and legendary - of fantastical treasures, and the good and ‘evil’ that happened in our past. Tallent & Lowery is my largest project. This is a seven-book series that’s basically along the lines of Indiana Jones meets The DaVinci Code, and it’s a great deal of fun. My mother is a research librarian, so I think I got that ‘gene’ from her, being able to take completely different facts from the past and finding a way to combine them into a mystery for a reader to really sink their teeth into.
   YA, as far as the pressure you face, is astronomical. Let’s face it, YA is now the largest and most popular genre in the world. When J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter she didn’t end up with a series of books, she wrote herself into history. Then, with the huge outpouring of love for the ‘fanged ones’ that seemed to begin full-force when Twilight turned into a phenomenon, even attempting to write a unique YA seems almost impossible. There are so many titles out there right now that young adults have actually formed fan clubs for, and the characters have become household names.
   I am having fun watching the ‘winged ones’ appear more forcefully and try to unseat the vamps. I took a chance with my series because I truly wanted to do something that went down a different path. It still has adventure, romance, characters that are trying to keep their faith in each other while buried in a world that’s intent on tearing them apart, but I wanted to move away from the ‘fallen’ angel category and begin with some truly innocent souls.
   I wanted to know, if there was an angel/warrior team that’d trained and worked for the express purpose of coming here and saving humans, would they even stay? Human emotions are the hardest things in the world to learn and be able to live with. I mean, romance, anger, hate, fear, evil, heartache, true love - these are subjects that are hard enough for a human to deal with on a daily basis, let alone a being that’s never experienced any of them before. I certainly wanted to make Emily and Matt a team that readers would love and want to see more of, and get them involved with a romance that was completely unexpected, but I also wanted to make characters that were new to YA fiction. Hence…the fear.
  All passionate readers are extremely loyal to the characters they love, so all I can do is hope and have faith that people will see the mystique of this team when they see themselves in Emily and Matt. We’ve all faced these emotions, so it’s interesting to see how Emily and Matt deal with them.
Expectations I have? I’m hoping not to get too much hate mail because I have a daughter who’s very proud of me…and Book II is completed. :)  But I’ll just have to wait and see.

Until Next Time, Everybody.


   Thank you for stopping by, Amy. I think readers will be curious to see angels as innocent souls. I'm always intrigued on how much we focus on humanity when we're discussing the supernatural. I wish you the best of luck with your series! 

 How does a girl choose between the one who steals her heart and the one who owns her soul?

Matt and Emily were created for a specific job. Raised and trained as the ultimate angel/warrior team, they are sent down to save, defend, judge and forgive, depending on the 'life' they've been assigned. What they don't realize is that the power of human emotions, such as love, anger, passion and fear can take over even the best of souls, causing them to make mistakes and follow paths that lead to confusion and heartache.

When the reason for their training is finally revealed, the angel/warrior team find themselves thrust into a world they know nothing about. Matt takes over the life of Daniel, a young man with a great deal of baggage. Emily becomes Liz, a girl living in a remote village who relies on nothing more than her own strength to survive. A violent storm erupts one night, and framed in the window of Liz's establishment is a frightening face. Let in by the soul of a Good Samaritan, the two visitors bring with them a past full of secrets that could literally change an angel's path and a warrior's plans.

From murder to redemption, this angel/warrior team must find a way to keep the faith they have in each other in a world that's ripping them apart.

More information about Amy and her Angel Chronicle Series: 

 Find Amy on her website, blog, Facebook , Twitter, and Goodreads.

 The Angel Chronicles website & The Angel Chronicles Facebook page

To purchase Until Next Time: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, PDF buy link


Rummanah Aasi
  There are some events in history and in our lives that we can't wrap our heads around. One of the puzzling things for me is understanding why humans hurt one another. Where does the hatred come from and how does it start? Shirley Vernick's novel The Blood Lie zeroes in a dark period in American history where ignorance and prejudice collide.

Description (from the publisher): September 22, 1928, Massena, New York. Jack Pool's sixteenth birthday. He's been restless lately, especially during this season of more-times-at-the-synagogue than you can shake a stick at. If it wasn't Rosh Hashanah, then it was Yom Kippur, and if it wasn't Yom Kippur, it was the Sabbath. But temple's good for some things. It gives him lots of time to daydream about a beautiful but inaccessible Gentile girl named Emaline. And if she isn't on his mind, then he's thinking about his music and imagining himself playing the cello with the New York Philharmonic. Yup, music is definitely his ticket out of this remote whistle-stop town--he doesn't want to be stuck here one more minute. But he doesn't realize exactly how stuck he is until Emaline's little sister Daisy goes missing and he and his family are accused of killing her for a blood sacrifice.

Review: The Blood Lie is a very slim novel that packs a lot of information and food for thought in less than 150 pages. The reader is taken back to 1928. Unlike the glitz and the glamor of the flappers, mobsters of the Jazz Age, our setting is a quiet, provincial Massena, New York. Jack Poole is 16 and  wants nothing more than to leave his small, insular upstate town to study music in Syracuse. Not only is Jack's dream, but also a welcoming distraction from his forbidden crush, Emaline, a girl he can never be with because he is Jewish and she is Christian.
  With the exception of Emaline's family who accepts the Poole's as friends and looks beyond their different religious affiliations, the town simmers in anti-Semitism. The depth and strength of the town's prejudice is revealed when Emaline's sister, Daisy, goes missing and presumed dead. When a libel starts that Jews use human sacrifice as part of their Yom Kippur celebrations, Jack is accused of Daisy's murder as he was last seen with the child. Investigators assume that Yom Kippur involves human sacrifice and the use of children's blood for religious ceremonies is correct and starts to target the Jewish community. Vesnick does a good job in keeping the reader in suspense about Daisy. We are given several scenes of a search team trying to find her but come up empty. The plot twist does come in much later as the mob hysteria grows to a feverish pitch.
  I found the plot twist improbable, but I was fascinated to read in the afterword that the book is closely based on an incident that occurred in the author's hometown of Massena, NY., which proves the often saying that life is indeed stranger than fiction. The dialogue and details about the characters' social world are given importance and seem carefully researched. Though the setting and period may seem distant to us, we can identify with the characters' universal desires and feelings.
  My main issue with The Blood Lie is its brevity. The action is extremely compressed, which makes for a fast but unsatisfying. The novel is clearly plot driven and doesn't give us enough time nor space to get a deeper, more-nuanced knowledge of the characters. I also had a problem with some of the Hebrew words, which weren't translated. I had hoped there was a glossary that was included in the book, but there wasn't. Still, Vernick reminds us how terrifying intolerance, prejudice, and ignorance can be.

Curriculum Connection: Social Studies, Religious studies

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: There are some violent images mentioned in the book and some language. I would be comfortable in recommending it to Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: Witness by Karen Hesse
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