Rummanah Aasi
   The Dresden Files has been one of the recommended series that I received when I started exploring the urban fantasy genre. It has become synonymous with an action-packed plot and non-stop fun. The series was also developed into a short lived TV series of the same name. Storm Front is Jim Butcher's first novel and introduces his most famous and popular character-Harry Dresden, wizard for hire.
Description: For Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's black magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name.

Review: I was really excited to read Storm Front because it took place in my hometown of Chicago, it features a male protagonist, and I hear nothing but rave reviews every time a new book in the series is released. So, I naturally am curious to see what the fuss is about. I'm happy to say that I enjoyed this book and look forward to getting to know more about Harry as I continue this series.
 As the first book in the Dresden Files series, Butcher doesn't suffer his readers by dumping huge piles of boring information. We are slowly introduced to Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, a wizard who also happens to be a private investigator stationed in Chicago where paranormal creatures and magic runs amok.
  Harry is a very likable hero, a honest guy who doesn't catch many breaks. He is smarter than people give him credit for being and has a noble streak that gets him in trouble, mostly due to poking his noise in matters that he should avoid. His strong sense of justice and his own ideas of right and wrong set him at odds with the powers that be. His moral compass leads Harry in very difficult situations and he has to use his wit and power to get himself out of them. Of course, Harry isn't just another trenchcoat wearing, Chicago roaming, sarcasm spewing, private detective. He's a wizard living in a world not too dissimilar from ours, trying to make a life from a talent that's part blessing and part curse. Not to mention that he continuously bumps heads against authority, both mortal and non-mortal, while doing what he thinks is right and trying his best to protect his fellow humans and paranormals/supernaturals from the evils that roam -- and often, each other. Harry and I got along quite well as I loved his dry, sarcastic humor. Not much his British skull side-kick named Bob who loves his romance novels. There are a tons of other secondary characters such as Toot Toot, the pizza loving faery; Mister, Harry’s enormous grey cat whose father had to be a wildcat or lynx; Mac, the taciturn bartender of McAnally’s; Susan Rodriguez, beautiful reporter for the ChicagoArcane, who flirts with Harry to get a lead on the double murder he’s investigating – or maybe for other reasons; sword wielding Morgan, Warden of the White Council, looking for any sign of Harry’s guilt – past or future; Bianca, madam of the Velvet Room and a vampiress you'll never forget; Gentleman Johnny Marcone, a mob boss who wants to hire Harry not to investigate; and other assorted witnesses, missing-persons, clients, and client-wannabes – all well drawn and fascinating.
  There is action, suspense and mystery as Harry starts investigating two murders that may or may not be related. The plot kept me engaged  as it is fun to get to know Harry and start to understand his relationship with the ‘magic’ world. We are given small hints about his past as well as his connections to secondary characters in particular Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, Director of Special Investigations, who begrudgingly asks Harry for help.
 While not too serious, Storm Front is a fun, quick read. As a side note, the audiobook is read by James Marsters of Buffy fame and does an incredible job in narrating the book. If you don't have time to read the physical book, please do check out the audiobook. I'm really looking forward to continuing the series and already have the second book on hold from the library.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language and violence as well as sexual situations/innuendo in the book. Recommended for mature teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: Fool Moon (Dresden Files #2) by Jim Butcher, Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, Child of Fire by Harry Connolly, Fated by Benedict Jacka
Rummanah Aasi

Description: "The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. ""If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company." "And there are no strangers in the town of Near." These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger--a boy who seems to fade like smoke--appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
   The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.
As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi's need to know--about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Review: The Near Witch is Victoria Schwab's debut novel, but I couldn't help but wonder if it would have more of a lasting impression if it was written in the novel in verse format. My curiosity of the format change is based on the fact that The Near Witch has great, beautiful passages dedicated to the moors, the night, and the wind but it lacks in plot. Lexi Harris is our heroine. She wants to be "of" the moor, but she is unsure how to obtain her dreams. Her father, who she thought held the secret, is dead, her mother has withdrawn, and her brutish uncle Otto is unsympathetic to Lexi's aspirations. The only one that seems to be on Lexi's side is her sister Wren, but she's too young to fully comprehend Lexi's struggles. Uncle Otto comes across as mean and strict uncle who would like Lexi to be nothing more than a "proper" girl in learning ways around the house and to be responsive to the advances of Tyler Ward so she could be a suitable wife. Lexi, however,  would rather buckle on her father's hunting knife and visit the shunned and dangerous witch sisters, Magda and Dreska Thorne.
  The plot of the book takes form when a mysterious, handsome stranger that Lexi seems to only see, comes to the village of Near, and children begin vanishing from their beds. Lexi is of course intrigued by the stranger and after a few encounters with him, they develop a friendship that quickly turns into a romance. Lexi is determined to solve the mystery, but not for the sake of the children, but more so because she feels her love interest is innocent. Schwab puts more emphasis on mood and atmosphere than on plot. As a result, I grew restless with the story and began to skim parts of the description just to get the story going. I didn't really feel any connection to any of the characters as I found them to fit neat into character tropes, while some of them are intriguingly sketched they are underdeveloped and don't really fully realize into three dimensional characters.
  Given the time dedicated to the descriptions surrounding the setting of the village/city of Near, I was amazed on how little world building details we are given. For example, The village has guns, but no other technology, while the fear of witches suggests a medieval time. The presence of actual witchcraft suggests a whole other world from today's, but further world-building is neatly side-stepped by making the town isolated. Schwab's use of present-tense, first-person narration heightens the sense of unreality, as though Lexi is less a fully realized person than a character the reader inhabits in a dream. Overall, The Near Witch is a decent debut that isn't very memorable. Though marketed as young adult, I think older elementary and middle schoolers who aren't ready for the popular paranormal romances such as Twilight and the like would enjoy this story. I would recommend this story to young readers who like a light paranormal mystery story. Schwab has talent and I'm looking forward to reading more of her books.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There are some disturbing images. Recommended for strong Grades 5 readers and up.

If you like this book try: The Revenant by Sonia Gensler, We Hear the Dead by Dianne K. Salerni, The Old Willis Place by Mary Downing Hahn
Rummanah Aasi
  Sangu Mandanna's debut novel, The Lost Girl, is a provocative and page-turning thriller/romance that gets at the heart of what it means to be human. Using similar themes of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, the story is wholly original and one that is not easy to forget.
Description (from the publisher):  Eva's life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. She was made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her "other," if she ever died. Eva spends every day studying that girl from far away, learning what Amarra does, what she eats, what it's like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready. But sixteen years of studying never prepared her for this.
  Now she must abandon everything and everyone she's ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she's forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive. What Eva finds is a grief-stricken family; parents unsure how to handle this echo they thought they wanted; and Ray, who knew every detail, every contour of Amarra. And when Eva is unexpectedly dealt a fatal blow that will change her existence forever, she is forced to choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. To be Eva.

Review: Eva doesn't have a right to her own life. She is an echo, a carbon copy of a girl named Amarra who lives halfway across the world. Eva is created as a back-up plan for Amarra's parents in case Amarra dies. Eva mimics Amarra's life, she learns everything that Amarra learns and is even nearly forced to suffer the same physical injuries as her other. Though the concept of clones isn't breaking new ground, what makes The Lost Girl stand out is the exploration of the psychological aspect to Eva's character, since it's not just Eva's organs that are being harvested, but her entire entity and identity.
 The Lost Girl is a novel that sits uneasily along the genre lines of dystopia, science fiction, and speculative fiction. While it contains elements of each of these genres, the world of echoes and their creators called Weavers take on a somewhat mystical and mysterious manner. The book never really delves into how the world came to exist. Like some of Bradbury's stories, we are shown human beings who find themselves in extraordinary futuristic circumstances instead of a technology driven setting that drives humans. I know some readers may be disappointed in not knowing much about Weavers and the utterly creepy setting of the Loom, but this didn't bother me at all. I was thoroughly captivated by the characters of this story and it didn't deter me from enjoying the story. 
  Mandanna's writing is exceptional, thoughtful, and beautifully descriptive, deftly balancing seriousness and humor, just like her characters. Eva is a heroine that I loved from the start. She finds herself in a horrible circumstance, but makes the best of it without losing her dignity and constant persistence. Unlike many heroines that fill our pages with noble self-sacrifice, Eva refuses to give up her inalienable rights to have a life and a place in society regardless of how he kind is perceived. She is rightfully selfish, but also aware of the dangers she puts her loved ones while she goes an incredible journey. 
  Though the plot of The Lost Girl is a bit of a slow starter as it is divided into three sections. The first section introduces us Eva as Eva without any strings attached. In this section,  we see Eva as a reflection of our humanity. Her connection to her family, a collection of people who are not bound to her by blood but by their concern and love for her, and her guardian/best friend/love interest Sean are explored. Each of these members reflect a different aspect of Eva's personality. The pace of the book quickly picks up in the second and third part of the book, where we see Eva on display and acting out her duties as an echo. Our hearts ache with her struggle and we are horrified at all the hurdles she must jump and conquer. I completely admire Eva's tenacity, her drive, and in this very rare instance her impulsiveness to not stay quiet.
  I hadn't expected to enjoy The Lost Girl as much as I did because I've been on a dystopian burn-put lately where all the book seem the same. There are a few aspects that I wish were given more time to develop such as the settings of London and Bangalore as well as further development of some really intriguing secondary characters. The Lost Girl gave me much to think about while being cathartic. The characters and premise asks us unsettling questions, but ultimately it is a story about love, grief, death, and above all what makes us human. I'm very eager to see if Eva's story continues and what else Mandanna plans on writing.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There are some disturbing scenes and a scene of underage drinking. Recommended for strong Grade 8 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Afterschool Charisma manga series by Kumiko Suekane, Unwind series by Neal Shusterman, The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Children of Men by P.D. James
Rummanah Aasi
  Shadowlands is a book that has been greatly anticipated once the cover and description were revealed by the publishers. After seeing it on a few blogger's radar, I, myself, grew curious and requested an advanced copy from the publishers via Netgalley. Please note that this review is based on the review copy.

Description (from Goodreads): Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived… and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye.
   Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

Review: Shadowlands is an uneven mixture of teen soap opera, thriller/mystery with a "surprise twist" that should have been a shocker but instead of leaving you with a reaction of "Oh my god. What just happened?!"to "Okay. I'd like to get the hours that I spend reading this book back."
  As we open the book, our heroine is running through the woods from her attacker. Our adrenaline and fear are spiked and we breathe a sigh of relief when she finds help. We quickly learn that her name is Rory and the person chasing her is an actual serial killer that has not only been posing as Rory's math teacher and has been spying on her for months and planning his attack. The FBI assures her they will catch him, but months have passed to no avail. In the meantime, she and her family are given new identities and sent to a secret location. They arrive in Juniper Landing, an idyllic vacation island, seemingly without incident, though Rory is troubled by nightmares of the killer murdering them on the road. We are shown over and over again with dark images that something is not right with this island. Everyone is too pretty and parties like they have no care in the world. Rory senses something is wrong because people keep disappearing, and while she is sure the killer is responsible, everyone else seems suspiciously unconcerned and oblivious.
  Though I had zero expectations for the book, I was quickly drawn into the first hundred pages or so.
The author builds a strong sense of menace and the dual narrative from the serial killer himself and Rory was initially engaging, this structure loses consistency because it is dropped in the second half of the book and I wish it wasn't because that was the book's biggest strength. The characters are all stereotypical caricatures and very hard to tell them apart. For instance Rory is your typical mousy (must they always be portrayed as being a brunette?), dull, and people pleasing teen. Her sister, Darcy, is your superficial, mean girl who might under all that plastic exterior might have a tiny slither of humanity. There is a vague hint of romance in the book but it goes no where. There are so many plot improbabilities, such as the stunning ineptitude of the FBI, and plot holes that you can make a game out of picking them all out. The abrupt ending leaves most of the interesting questions unanswered, perhaps saving it for the sequel that I will not bother wasting my time to read it. I honestly can't recommend this book. If you are looking for a really good YA thriller, please look elsewhere.

Rating: 1 star

Words of Caution: The book contains language, disturbing images, and scenes of underage drinking. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like YA thrillers try: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, the Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting, Reality Check by Peter Abrahams, Blood on My Hands by Todd Strasser
Rummanah Aasi
    I've seen a lot of favorable reviews about Rachel Vincent's Werecat series on the blogosphere a few years ago. I thought since some of my favorite bloggers liked the series, I might enjoy it too since our reading choices are similar. Unfortunately, we might need to agree to disagree about this series because I didn't really like it a whole lot.

Description (from back of the book): There are only eight breeding female werecats left . . . And I'm one of them. I look like an all-American grad student. But I am a werecat, a shape-shifter, and I live in two worlds. Despite reservations from my family and my Pride, I escaped the pressure to continue my species and carved out a normal life for myself. Until the night a Stray attacked.
  I'd been warned about Strays -- werecats without a Pride, constantly on the lookout for someone like me: attractive, female, and fertile. I fought him off, but then learned two of my fellow tabbies had disappeared. This brush with danger was all my Pride needed to summon me back . . . for my own protection. Yeah, right. But I'm no meek kitty. I'll take on whatever -- and whoever -- I have to in order to find my friends. Watch out, Strays -- 'cause I got claws, and I'm not afraid to use them . . .

Review: I had a really difficult time with this book. I went back and forth from enjoying it and reading feverishly to see what happened next to then getting very annoyed and putting the book aside for days. Stray brought back bad memories of last year's Vampire Academy reading experience, but I since I was mildly interested in the plot I was determined to give this book a shot. In the beginning I could sympathize with Faythe; nobody wants their life decided for them but as you start to learn exactly what she's running from, responsibility and family obligation, the argument loses steam and my sympathy turned into frustration where I wanted to smack Faythe upside the head several times and tell her to knock it off.
  Faythe is one of the few female werecats in the United States. For some reason females are very rare, although I never really understood why and I don't think it was ever really explained why. Faythe wants to go to college and try to have a career and a life separate from her Pride. She doesn't want to be her mother, stuck in the role of mother and housewife, so she tries to run away from it all. While I would normally support Faythe, I would have to disagree with her after learning that someone is hunting, raping, and killing female werecats. In order to protect his daughter, Faythe's father makes her come home from college so she can be protected by her numerous brothers and the enforcers working for him. So Faythe naturally turns from "I'm a woman, hear me roar", mature grad student to a two year old throwing a temper tantrum of wanting to be left alone and tries to negotiate a deal with her Father to leave. I guess she can't see the huge, neon lit sign that flashes "Imminent danger ahead!" This is where I lost my patience with Faythe, but wait it gets better. There are countless times where Faythe does the one thing that she shouldn't do, resulting in her own kidnapping, attempted rape, beating, and so forth. Some of the situations she gets into are so ridiculous that you almost have to rethink how the hell is this girl to survive on her own when there are no dangerous circumstances.
  Add to the mix to an intolerable heroine is the inevitable love triangle. Faythe fights her attraction to Marc for most of the book, an alpha who she apparently left at the alter, but then she gets drunk and sleeps with him. Oh, she also has a human boyfriend at school and made out with another pack member Jace who may not may not be more.
  Stray is over 600 pages long and there was so much attention given to superfluous information that after reading the book I'm still not sure how her Pride works. While the person behind the kidnapping and rapes is revealed I still don't know why he took action. All in all, this was a bad book. While I liked the big cast of male supporting characters, I'm not curious enough to continue the series and I decided that was okay for me.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language and violence including torture scenes, rape, and murder. There is also a brief, graphic sex scene. Recommended for mature teens only and adults.

If you like this book try: Rogue (Werecats #2) by Rachel Vincent, Bitten by Kelly Armstrong, Bitter Night by Diana Pharaoh Francis
Rummanah Aasi
Description: Lulu's parents refuse to give in when she demands a brontosaurus for her birthday and so she sets out to find her own, but while the brontosaurus she finally meets approves of pets, he does not intend to be Lulu's.

Review: Lulu is a spoiled brat who screeches, whines, and throws a temper-tantrum until her parents given in to her demands. On her birthday, Lulu declares she wants a brontosaurus. Naturally, her parents refuse. With her lightbulb-shattering screeches and four consecutive days of screaming and seeing she isn't making any progress with her parents, she tells them that she is leaving, packs a small suitcase, and sets off into the forest in search of her own pet. After getting the best of a snake, tiger, and bear on hr journey through the forest, she meets a brontosaurus. He, however, decides that she will be his perfect pet. Lulu must now convince him otherwise and come up new tactics to achieve her goal.    While this story follows a familiar cautionary-tale story line, Lulu is both determined and surprisingly resourceful. Her small suitcase for instance reminds of the bag that is found in Harry Potter that carries a vast amount of things. Viorst's narrative is definitely tongue in cheek which makes this book a great choice for a read-aloud.  There's plenty of child-friendly humor, and Lane Smith's droll, exaggerated pencil drawings on pastel paper deftly add to the fun. Lulu and the Brontosaurus is an inventive, lighthearted fantasy that manages to teach a valuable lesson without being heavy handed. I would definitely recommend this chapter book for younger readers.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 1-4.

If you like this book try: Lulu Walks the Dog by Judith Viorst, The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman, Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo
Rummanah Aasi
 Can you love someone beyond their physical appearance? I'm pretty sure most of us would hardly need to think twice before saying, "Absolutely. I'm not that superficial." I wonder if our answers would be just as strong if we met an entity like A who is destined to be someone different every day.

Description: Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
  It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

Review:  Every Day is a thoughtful, touching story that will surprise readers with its sentient literary style. It is a story that makes us question ourselves with countless "what if" questions after we finish reading. Everyone longs for human connection, especially with those that can truly see us as a whole person with our flaws and all. For the protagonist A, this desire is overwhelming and all consuming given his special circumstances. Every day, for as long as he can remember, he wakes up in a different body regardless of sex, race, sexual orientation, among other indicators that separates human from one another. He has long recognized the futility of trying to create lasting relationships, but everything changes when he meets Rhiannon, a girl who for the first time makes him want to achieve what he thought was impossible.
  A. has self-imposed policies to not to interfere too much in his "host's" life. He is mainly a visitor and observer for the day. For the most part, I thought A was a likable protagonist who doesn't wallow in self-pity or histrionic behavior, but there are times when I did want him to be a little less self absorbed. Levithan does an incredible job in retaining A.'s voice and personality consistently even though he is a different person in different circumstances. One of my favorite things about this book is how we catch a glimpse of all the lives that A. touches; each life is very different and allows us to see life through someone else's eyes. Some of the manifestations are humorous, sweet, while others are tinged with sadness and hopelessness. There is also a tension and urgency in the story from various different sources as A. struggles to become close to Rhianon every day. There is also someone who is relentlessly pursuing A. for his own dangerous reasons.
    Levithan doesn't spend much time answering how A came to be, which I'm sure would deter readers who want specific answers, but this is not what the book is about. Every Day spends more time ruminating and philosophizing about love and identity. When you say that you love someone, what makes you love them? If the object of your desire appeared less physically appealing, perhaps from a different race, religious background, or even financial background, would you love for he/she lessen? A. obviously makes some mistakes in his judgment, not unlike the ones we make daily. I think A's relationship with Rhiannon happened too quickly. While she seems like a good person, I didn't really understand what A found so fascinating about her. Perhaps that in itself makes us think that sometime we perceive a crush to be a bit more. 
    In addition to learning about A and the different life stories we are told in a daily snapshot, things become very difficult and complex as Rhiannon learns about A.'s unique circumstance. We witness how her comfort level changes each time she meets A in a different body. It's hard to fault anyone for having trouble accepting the fantastical premise, as well as the reality of living with it, because after all, a big, big part of love relies on both the thrill and the comfort we find in another person's familiar presence. Unlike other romances we've read so far, the struggle that these two have is to reconcile how to love ones essence without all the physical and superficial attachments involved. I couldn't help but wonder how Levithan would resolve this conflict but he does in a very pensive and bittersweet manner that shows how the purest form of love is perhaps when it involves some form of selflessness or self-sacrifice, depending upon how you look at it. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, scenes of underage drinking and drug use, as well as brief discussion of sex. Recommended for strong Grade 8 readers and up.

Description: In this digital-only collection Six Earlier Days, Levithan gives readers a glimpse at a handful of the other 5993 stories yet to be told that inform how A navigates the complexities of a life lived anew each day. In Every Day, readers discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day. In Six Earlier Days, readers will discover a little bit more about how A became that someone.

Review: Six Earlier Days is a novella that follows A through some earlier days that take place before the book Every Day begins. While we still aren't given any answers as to how A exists, Six Days Earlier does provide insight on how A approaches his hosts. Unlike in Every Day, A is a bit more detached but also can't help but yearn for the connections that his hosts have. The stories of living various lives in various ages are engaging and emotive. Though you are not required to read Six Earlier Days before Every Day, I would recommend doing so as it allowed me to be a little less impatient and frustrated with A. I felt as if I understood his situation and mindset much better.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None.

If you like these books try: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
Rummanah Aasi
  Like many people, I'm enraptured with the television show Downton Abbey. Every Sunday I tune into the show and can't wait to discuss it with fellow fans at work. While it's sad to see Season 3 come to an end and  to theorize what the cliffhanger that we will all agonize over, I didn't want to leave the world of Downton Abbey just yet. There have been a slew of books written and published about the era of the television show, a sheer marketing ploy to ride on the curtails of the show's popularity. Some are incredibly horrible while others like the Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey is insightful and informative.

Description (from the publisher): Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration for the hit PBS show Downton Abbey , and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon and the basis of the fictional character Lady Cora Crawley. Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, letters, and photographs, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a transporting story of this fabled home on the brink of war. Much like her Masterpiece Classic counterpart, Lady Almina was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Alfred de Rothschild, who married his daughter off at a young age, her dowry serving as the crucial link in the effort to preserve the Earl of Carnarvon's ancestral home. Throwing open the doors of Highclere Castle to tend to the wounded of World War I, Lady Almina distinguished herself as a brave and remarkable woman. This rich tale contrasts the splendor of Edwardian life in a great house against the backdrop of the First World War and offers an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle.

Review: Fans of the extremely popular television show, Downton Abbey, will love this book that profiles some of the real nobility who lived in Highclere Castle in its grand day in the late 1890s through to the end of the Great War as well as provide historical and social context to the show. For those of you familiar with the show, you can see where Julian Fellowes, the television show creator, got his inspiration for story ideas for Seasons 1 and 2 of Downton Abbey after reading this short biography of Lady Almina, the Countess of Carnarvon. Lady Almina lived in Downton Abbey during the early 1900's to 1922 with her husband, the famous Earl of Carnavon who financed Howard Carter's Egyptian discoveries, particularly finding tombs of famous pharaohs  Unfortunately, her life story in this book stops after the death of her husband in 1922 when her son became the next Earl of Carnarvon and she thus had to move out of Downton Abbey, the family home.
  While I initially took the book out because it was associated with my favorite television show, I actually learned a lot about the important topics the show touched upon, particularly of the arrangement of the downstairs staff and why certain positions were move coveted more than others. I also gained a great deal of insight of World War I and the efforts people took to take care of wounded soldiers. Unlike World War II, I don't really have a clear grasp and the implications of why the war occurred  The book also does a great deal of name dropping of famous, rich people of the time as well as intricate details of the parties given and gone to and monies spent on these entertainments. Informative and engrossing, I highly recommend picking up Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey if you like the television show or if you're just curious as to what has drawn so many people about the show.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for teens and adults interested in

If you like this book try: The World of Downton Abbey by Jullian Fellows, Up and Down stairs: History of the Country House Servant by Jeremy Musson, Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor by Rosina Harrison
Rummanah Aasi
  Fairy tales are more popular than ever. They inspire new adaptions in books/graphic novels, movies, and even TV shows. No matter how familiar you are to the story, each new retelling adds a new dimension to the characters and themes. Hansel and Gretel by Anthony Browne is no exception.

Description (from Amazon): This is a retelling of this famous, dark fairy tale from award-winning author-illustrator Anthony Browne. "Hansel and Gretel" is perhaps the darkest and greatest of the fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm. This extraordinary book brings the classic childhood tale to a new generation courtesy of one of the world's greatest picture book artists, Hans Christian Andersen Award-winner Anthony Browne.

Review: The Hansel and Gretel fairy tale is one of the most creepiest fairy tale that I've ever read. Anthony Browne's adaptation of the famous Brothers Grimm fairy tale quietly balances the light and dark aspects to the story. The text is faithful to the fairy tale, but the illustrations is what really stands out in this book. If there was no text in the book, the picture could have easily told the story. Life-like images painted with vivid colors provide more contextual information about the story. We really do get the sense of camaraderie and love between the two siblings as they are constantly drawn next to another another as shown in the cover of the book as well as their father's reluctance to follow his wife's orders. The evil stepmother shares a very eerie resemblance to the wicked witch in the forest. There are many symbols which are subdued in dark colors that older readers will easily spot the allusion and foreshadowing of the horrors that Hansel and Gretel will face. The scary parts of the story such as the children locked up in the witch's cage to get fatten and the witch burning are brief and short.  

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Due to the dark aspects of the story, I would recommend this picture book to Grades 2 and up who are more familiar with the story.

If you like this book try: Hansel and Gretel by Rika Lesser, Red Riding Hood by James Marshall, Rapunzel: A Groovy Fairytale by Lynn Roberts
Rummanah Aasi
  I had been meaning to read a book by Breena Yovanoff for quite some time, but didn't get a chance to do so until now. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley, I was able to read an advanced reader's copy of Yovanoff's latest release, Paper Valentine, a subtle book of love and death. I enjoyed the book for the most part, but I was left somewhat unsatisfied.

Description (from Goodreads): The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls. For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.
  With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

Review: The sleepy, small-town community Hannah Wagnor grew up in used to feel safe, but now, during a record-breaking July heat wave, a serial killer is targeting young girls. Like her setting, Hannah use to be a happy go-lucky girl but she has been hiding her depression since her best friend Lillian's death six months earlier. Hannah goes through the motions of daily life with a happy, superficial outlook such as dressing in bright colors and smiling when she's filled with sadness inside. She is constantly haunted by Lillian's ghost at her side and hears Lillian's running commentary of all the choices she makes from her clothes to her classmates. As more bodies are discovered, Hannah begins to see more ghosts-those of the murdered girls and begins to feel responsible to catch the serial killer. Investigating the deaths, she begins to wonder how much she really knows about Finny Boone, the cute bad boy she's has a crush on forever but is only just beginning to understand.
  The narrative tone of Paper Valentine is very detached and numb just like our heroine. Hannah's depression is believable. Her insecurities are tangible and the realizations of how Lillian truly was as a person is startlingly and insightful. The friendship between Hannah and Lillian is what I remember the most from this book. Lillian is the leader, obsessed about finding perfection, and slowly kills herself with anorexia. Hannah is the follower, who blindly trusts Lillian and is afraid to speak openly about her own opinions and desires. With the loss of Lillian,  Hannah has also lost her own self of identity. As the story progresses, we see Hannah thaw but it is inconsistent to her actions. For instance, Hannah has always been the dependable, responsible older sister who keeps her sisters safe, a quality that I greatly admire. When she begins to embrace her emotions, however, she starts a romance with the shady, distant, and mysterious Finny Boone at the cost of leaving her younger sisters alone with a serial killer running around their town. Of course I understood that Finny isn't what he appears to be and has a painful past, but there more than enough warning bells that went off that would make Hannah think twice before running around with him in dark places alone. To say the least, I was a bit perplexed of what to make our heroine and her choices.
  Paper Valentine has an overambitious story that bounces from important and big topics such as guilt, depression, and eating disorders to child abuse, foster families, serial murder, and mean girls. The book takes on so many issues that the characters and plot remain underdeveloped. Though the book seems to be marketed as a supernatural/paranormal murder mystery, the murders just hang in the periphery of the characters. There were quite a few times while reading the book that I forgot the murders even existed. Though there are some creepy moments in the book, the murderer, once revealed, seems random and lacks real motive, and his ultimate confession to Hannah felt underwhelming and anticlimactic. It seems as if the clues to discover the murderer were far more important than any insight into the psychology of a murderer or the fate of the ghosts in the end. Though it is engrossing at times, Paper Valentine moves at a slow pace and leaves too many loose ends, too many questions unanswered.
 Paper Valentine is not my last book by the author and I do look forward to reading her earlier books as well as future releases.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and disturbing images. Recommended for Grades

If you like this book try: Love You, Hate You, Miss You by Elizabeth Scott, Velveteen by Daniel Marks,  The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Rummanah Aasi
  Literacy has always been defined by scholars as having the ability to read and write. Now studies suggest that our definition of literacy is too narrow and that we should also include visual literacy, which allow us to use pictures like words to draw meaning. The critically acclaimed graphic novel, The Arrival by Shaun Tan, is a wordless graphic novel that challenges our way of thinking and reading.

Description: In this wordless graphic novel, a man leaves his homeland and sets off for a new country, where he must build a new life for himself and his family.

Review: Tan expertly captures the displacement, fear, and awe with which immigrants respond to their new surroundings in this wordless graphic novel. The story is very simple, but the execution of it is very complex and multi-layered. The Arrival depicts the journey of one man, threatened by dark shapes that cast shadows on his family's life, to a new country. His native land is shown in ominous dark colors suggesting a cold and confining place. Some reviewers have suggested that the native land has a totalitarian government by focusing on some symbols, but in my opinion, I think that might be reading a little too in to the graphic novel.
  The unnamed man goes through the several motions like any immigrant who is preparing him/herself to go to another land. The only writing in The Arrival is an invented alphabet, which creates the sensation immigrants must feel when they encounter a strange new language and way of life. A wide variety of ethnicities is represented in Tan's hyper-realistic style, and the sense of warmth and caring for others, regardless of race, age, or background, is present on nearly every page.
  When I first read The Arrival I was taken aback on the strange illustrations, but once I started reading this graphic novel slowly to full embrace its narrative, everything started to click and I grew mesmerized by the  strange new world that Tan creates. The Arrival is a very quick read, but reading it quickly is a big disservice to the reader and to the graphic novel. Readers who take their time looking at the pictures will grasp the sense of strangeness and find themselves participating in the man's experiences. They will linger over the details in the beautiful sepia pictures and will likely read the book again as soon as they turn the last page.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Though the reading level for this graphic novel can be as low as Grade 4, I would recommended this graphic novel for mature Grades 7 readers and up due to the complex understanding of the visual symbolism.

If you like this book try:  The Wall by Peter Sis, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Rummanah Aasi
  If you were to ask readers of the Illiad who would you consider the hero of this epic poem, many would say without any hesitation that it is Hector, the Prince of Troy and Paris's brother. I don't think Achilles would be in the running, much less seen as a romantic figure, but it is undeniable to recognize his ferocity, strength, and rage that made him a one-man killing machine. His wrath so powerful that it starts The Illiad. In Madeline Miller's debut novel, The Song of Achilles, we get a to look at the softer side of Achilles beneath his fury and bloodshed as the story of the Trojan War is told from the perspective of Patroculus, Achilles's beloved.

Description: Patroclus, an awkward young prince, follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate. Set during the Trojan War.

Review: Miller's book expands on the little known relationship between Achilles and Patroculus. Though they are briefly mentioned together in a few lines in Homer's epic poem, we don't have much detail about their relationship except for the devastating loss experience by both characters. The Song of Achilles begins with the adolescence of Patroculus through the battle weary years of the Trojan War. Neither handsome nor athletic, Patroculus has nothing to offer his father. When he accidentally kills a bully, he is exiled to Phthia and befriended by confident Prince Achilles. While Patroculus is mortal, soft, and gentle, Achilles's demigod divinity shines through his physique and mannerisms. Though there is a clearly distinct separation of these two boys, there is a mutual attraction and unvocalized equality towards one another. When they speak, they are equals. They seek out each other for advice, share their fears, and over time their friendship blooms into love. I admire Miller for refusing to simplify the relationship between Achilles and Patroculus in sexual terms. They are friends, confidants, lovers, and so much more. To trivialize their relationship is to take away the huge impact it has made in the plot of the Trojan War, but also of their own character arcs.
  Strong attention to character development and relationships is the foundation of this remarkable book. There is a constant battle (pun unintended) of desiring glory, honor, power, and above all immortality. Miller entwines popular myths into her story such as the birth of Achilles, Helen's marriage to Meleanus, and Achilles' mother Thetis desperate attempts to disguise and hide her son from enlisting in the war. As readers of Greek mythology already know, the is no happy ending to the Trojan War.
  In addition to the central story of Achilles and Patroclus, Miller offers a complex study of a few selected female characters that hold as much power and attention though their appearances in the book may be brief.  Briseis, the trophy beauty who inspires a rift between Achilles and Agamemnon, shows how war has affected Achilles and his relationship with Patroculus. Iphigenia's sacrifice at Aulis in one quick, brutal image is a constant reminder of what 10 long years of war will bring. Thetis, Achilles' sea nymph mother makes us quake in horror with her divinity yet we can't help but sympathize with her futile attempts to save her son. These are all probing relationships that Homer only hinted at.
  With language both evocative and lyrical of her predecessors and fresh outlook on familiar scenes that explore new territory, Miller is clearly a lover of ancient Greece. While I will always be a fan of Hector and have my heart broken by his death, Miller did make me pause and see Achilles and Patroculus in a new light.  The pacing of the book is steady as we try to prepare ourselves of the heartbreak that is bound to happen. Millers book loses a bit of steam towards the end of the book where the whole war is quickly wrapped up and that's the only thing that prevented me from giving it a five star rating. Readers interested in Greek mythology should not miss this book. I'm eagerly looking forward to reading more from Miller.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, sexual situations, and strong violence including rape and torture. Recommended for mature teens interested in Greek mythology and adults only.

If you like this book try: The Illiad by Homer (translation by Robert Fagles is highly recommended), The Age of Bronze graphic novel series by Eric Shanower, Achilles by Elizabeth Cook, The King Must Die by Mary Renault, Ransom by David Malouf
Rummanah Aasi
  Last year I picked up pictures books and I've gotten to appreciate them much more than I did as a child. I hope to continue read and review them in the future. Extra Yarn by Mar Barnett, One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, and Sleep like a tiger by Mary Logue are all 2013 Caldecott honorees. I enjoyed all of these great titles.

Description: With a supply of yarn that never runs out, Annabelle knits for everyone and everything in town until an evil archduke decides he wants the yarn for himself.

Review: Annabelle lives in a dull and colorless town. To occupy her time, she knits courtesy of a gift of yarn she received. She begins to knit herself a sweater and then one for her dog. Everywhere Annabelle went she was mocked and found adversity, but instead of whining or getting angry, she simply made things out of yarn for her adversaries, bringing color, warmth, and happiness. The news of this famous yarn made its way to an evil archduke who tries to buy the yarn from Annabelle with lots of money, but to his shock Annabelle refuses. What happens next brought a smile to my face. I loved how this book illustrated peaceful tolerance.   the little girl went, she met with scorn and adversity, but she unwaveringly persisted, always with a contented smile. Readers familiar with Jon Klassen's illustrations will recognize some familiar characters. Overall, this is a simple, odd but charming and magical story that is sure to please everyone.

Rating: 4 stars

If you like this book try: A piece of chalk by Jennifer Ericsson, A visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker, Knitty Kitty by David Elliott

Description: Elliot, a very proper young man, feels a kinship with the penguins at the aquarium and wants to take one home with him.

Review: Elliot is a very proper young man, impeccably dressed, formal, and polite. Elliot wasn't particularly thrilled when his father suggested they go to Family Fun Day at the aquarium because it would be filled with too many noisy kids, but he smiled and agreed. At the aquarium Elliot explored while his father sat and read a magazine. Elliott avoided the crowded areas of the museum and found his way to the Magellanic penguins. He liked their proper posture and precise black and white markings. Elliot asked his father for permission to buy a penguin. His oblivious father and him money thinking his son would want a plush penguin that is on sale. Elliot, of course, had other plans and grabbed the smallest penguin, named him Magellan, and popped him into his little red backpack. What ensues is a hilarious and tongue-in cheek story.
  One Cool Friend is split between the amusing narrative and dry, tongue-in-cheek dialogue between Elliot and his seemingly oblivious father. Though kids may be annoyed with Elliott's manners, they will sense some kinship with his smart and mischievous plans. Dialogue is printed in line with the rest of the text, but is cleverly encapsulated in speech bubbles, which ties the illustrations neatly. Small’s hand drawn illustrations that use pen and ink, ink wash, watercolor, and color pencil are based in crisp black and white, with accents of icy blue, vibrant red, and a tortoise-y plaid. There are also many small details that foreshadow Elliot’s father’s hilarious revelation at the conclusion of the book, something that I missed the first time I read the book but later realized after flipping back a few pages. Hiliarious and heart felt, this picture book is sure to delight many readers.

Rating: 4 stars

If you like this book try: 365 Penguins by Jean Luc-Fromental, When dinosaurs came with everything by  Elise Broach

Description: At bedtime a young girl asks "Does everything in the world go to sleep?"

Review: As a child, I never could go to sleep until all the lights in my house are off. I didn't want to miss out on any adventures or stories told when I was away in my room. These memories returned when I read Sleep like a tiger by Mary Logue. This warm and gentle story reflects on the common theme of a child not ready for bed, but with a refreshing notion that everything follows a pattern. The parents aren't threatening their child nor are they frustrated by her disobedience. Instead they rhythmically soothe her and tell her that everything in nature goes to sleep. After they kiss her goodnight and turn out the light, the child incorporates her parents' descriptions of the various animals into her nighttime routine. As the title suggests, she too falls fast asleep. T
  The narrative flows well as the mood becomes increasingly tranquil. Though there is quite a lot of dialogue in the first portion of the story, they are realistic and reiterated later by the child. The illustrations in this book are really interesting as it seems the illustrator used digital pictures along with paintings to present her characters. I also liked how the family and the various animals are depicted as royalty. The illustrator also incorporates many patterns into the characters' clothing, rooms, blankets, and pillows. Sleep like a tiger is a a beautiful, warm, and soothing read.

Rating: 4 stars

If you like this book try: Shhhhh! Everybody's Sleeping by Julie Markes, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, No Go Sleep! by Kate Feiffer

Rummanah Aasi
  I thoroughly enjoyed Yolen's first graphic novel, Foiled, and really hoped there would be a sequel since the first volume leaves you with many questions after Aliera's real destiny is revealed. I was thrilled to find the advanced reader's copy of the sequel available on Netgalley thanks to the publishers. Please note that this review is based on the advanced reader's copy.

Description (from Goodreads): Aliera Carstairs is back. This time she's got her cousin—and best friend—Caroline in tow, and the stakes are higher than ever. The realm of Seelie, the fairy kingdom of which Aliera is the hereditary defender, is under attack, and only Aliera and Caroline can set things right. Caroline, fragile and wheelchair-bound, may seem like more of a liability than an asset, but Aliera knows there's more to her quiet cousin than meets the eye.

Review: Curses! Foiled Again is a follow up to the delightful graphic novel, Foiled. It starts right where the first book ended, but there is also a great recap of what previously happened in the introduction. This volume had a grown up vibe to it. Aliera is still a really enjoyable character. She is snarky, intelligent, but as this volume shows she doesn't have all the answers. Curses! Foiled Again goes a little deeper to the fantasy realm that it briefly touched upon in the first volume. We are introduced to new characters, some which are unexpectedly helpful while others deceived and betrayed our heroine.
  I also loved that we got a chance to see how the Aliera and Avery relationship steadily develop. There are some hurt feelings between the two after Avery's real identity came out and I'm glad that Aliera took the time to see if she could trust him again. The banter between these two characters were fantastic and had me grinning throughout the entire time they appeared on the page.
  For the most part, there is enough action and humor to keep the reader occupied but there is a small lull in the middle of the book which I thought could get shorten and tightened up. The panels are very easy to read and follow. The monochromatic art style with a few bursts of color that distinguishes between the fantasy and real world that Mike Cavallaro used in the first book is continued and well used.
  Though the bigger story arc is solved and wrapped nicely in this book, the ending is open to another volume which I would gladly read since it features Aliera's sweet and mysterious cousin Caroline. I'm curious to see what Caroline's story line is and I really hope the publishers will encourage Yolen to release a third volume. I would definitely recommend this graphic novel series for those readers who want to read a graphic novel but are a bit hesitant because of its format.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is minor language and some fantasy violence.  Recommended for Grades 7 and up.

If you like this book try: Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch, Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel
Rummanah Aasi
  Happy Monday! I'd like to introduce to you a brand new author, K.J. Klimasz. Mr. Klimasz is here to day to talk about his current release, Murders, Bikers, and a Meteor, which an eclectic collection of short stories.

Hi, K.J.! Thanks for stopping by the blog today. Can you please tell us about your current release?

   My new release is called Murders, Bikers, and a Meteor. The book is a collection of short stories that I’ve written over the past couple of years. The stories range in genre from crime drama to science fiction, with story settings in the 1950s, ’60s, ’90s, and today. The stories are dark in nature, and it seems that my best work tends to run a little on the dark side.

Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?

    I started writing fiction in high school, but back in the ’80s personal computers were not very common and to be honest my typing was horrific. I walked away from writing altogether thinking that writing wasn’t my niche. I didn't get my first computer until the late ’90s. By then I figured my imagination had went unused for so long that it was gone, a use it or lose it kind of thing. A few years after that I met a gal, fell in love, and we got married. Shortly after we were married my new mother-in-law passed away, and my wife took her loss really hard. My wife began having panic attacks at night. I would ask her if there was anything I could do for her, and she replied, “Just talk to me.” I couldn't think of anything to say, so I closed my eyes and just started randomly making up stories for her, and she would eventually fall asleep with me telling her stories. After a while I had gotten the bug to write again, and I had came up with quite a few good ideas for novels, but I knew that I wasn't ready to tackle a project of that size, so I started writing short stories. Stories that I’m happy to say don’t put my wife to sleep. Over this last summer I decided to go through all of my short stories and publish a collection of my best ones.

Can you tell us the story behind your book cover?

My book cover and book title are tied together with one another. After I submitted my manuscript, I still didn’t have a title for my book and the publisher
told me I needed to have a cover designed. The publisher then gave me the name of a graphics design company that they refer their authors to. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted for a cover, and I was having trouble picturing what it should look like. If I can’t picture it, how am I supposed to describe to somebody what it is I want?
I went for a walk, hoping I would come up with some rough idea for a cover design and then I remembered that I had an old friend from high school that used to work in video game graphics, so I gave him a call. He asked me what I thought of the old pulp fiction book cover designs from the ’50s and ’60s. I looked up pulp fiction book cover designs on the internet; saw some examples and I liked the idea. After seeing the old book covers and titles it didn’t take me long to come up with my own book title. I sent my title and some excerpts from my book over to my friend, and a day later he sent me my cover design and asked me if I would like to make any changes with it. I told him it’s perfect, don’t change anything.

What approaches have you taken to marketing your book?

In addition to this blog tour, I also have an author’s website at, and my wife would like to create an author’s facebook page for me.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I get almost all of my story ideas, characters, and even dialogue pushing my lawnmower around my yard. Every story in my new release started with an old Honda lawn mower with a squeaky wheel making laps back and forth across my yard.
   Every writer dreams about being able to earn a living and support themselves off of crafting their stories. I once heard someone say, “If you’re going to dream, dream in Technicolor.” and if my Technicolor dream was to come true, I’d be able to say, “I earn a living mowing my own lawn.”

Do you plan any subsequent books?

  I am currently working on my first novel. The book is a mystery that starts out with two boys finding a body floating in a river. Once the victim’s identity is revealed the list of suspects grows with each new twist.
I think organization is the key to successfully writing a mystery, so I’ve spent a lot of extra time laying this story out, working in subtle foreshadowing and plot twists. I’m hoping to have the book completed next summer.

Tell us what you’re reading at the moment and what you think of it.

  I’m currently reading Duma Key by Stephen King. I admire writers who can write in the first person. I say this because I’ve done a little first-person writing. At first I thought, “Oh, writing in the first person would be easy. I only need one point of view for my story.” What I didn’t realize is that as a writer you have to go into character when you write, and you have to use your character’s speech pattern to tell your story. You need to give the reader the impression that your character is sitting right beside them next to a dying campfire, and your character is stirring the glowing embers with a stick and telling the reader his or her story in their own words. Stephen King has done this very well with his character Edgar Freemantle. Like all of King’s books he has great character development and an imaginative story line. If you like Stephen King’s work, you’ll probably like Duma Key.

Thanks for stopping by, K.J.! Good luck on your first novel. Readers, if you would like to know more about Mr. Klimasz and read an excerpt from Murders, Bikers, and a Meteor, please check out his website.
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