Rummanah Aasi
    Today I am happy to bring you an author interview with Megan Tayte, the author of the Ceruleans series. If you are a fan of paranormal romances and are looking for something new to read, check out her series and the excerpt from her latest book, Devil and the Deep, which releases today! Ms. Tayte was also generous in providing a giveaway, just fill out the Rafflecopter below.

In a few words can you tell us what Death Wish, the first book in the Ceruleans series, is about?

An isolated cove. A tragic suicide. A girl alone, but for two boys who’ll do anything to save her. A summer of discovery. Of conquering fear. Of falling in love. Of choosing life. Of choosing death. Of believing the impossible.

There are so many books in the paranormal romance genre. Why should readers pick up Death Wish?

Because if they start reading Death Wish, they may find they don’t want to stop. Common themes coming through in reviews of my books are ‘read it in one sitting’, ‘couldn’t put it down’ and ‘when’s the next one out – I need more now, dammit’. I write twisting, turning books with plenty of intrigue and suspense and drama. If that’s your cup of tea, you may like The Ceruleans.

What influenced your creation of The Ceruleans? What can you tell us about them without giving too much of the book away?

The series is quite personal to me, based on a mix of experience and fiction woven from my imaginings and ponderings. The setting – in a part of coastal Devon where I spent every summer as a child – was a key inspiration. But the story, about love and loss, light and darkness, good and bad, is based on my own efforts to make sense of a world in which people close to you can die; in which being true to yourself can be incredibly difficult; and in which love – for people, for places, for a way of being, for a passion and an ethos – is the only reason to hold on.

If you could match Death Wish with another paranormal romance readalike what would it be?

Well, one reviewer compared it favourably to Twilight, so I’ll guess I’ll go with that. But the story and characters are very different, and the mood is sometimes darker and sometimes much lighter. And the writing style is more creative. And the romance is different: more grounded in realism. And the paranormal world is more unsettling than appealing to the main characters. So, er, not that much like Twilight then...

 Love triangles are the bane of most readers’ existence. What is your biggest pet peeve as a reader and as a writer?

Characters that don’t feel real. Whether it’s a hero/ine, a foil, a villain or a secondary character, I want to believe in them. I don’t like perfect; I like perfectly flawed. That’s how I aim to write my characters: messily real. I don’t want to approach writing like a colouring book, shading neatly between the lines. I want to scribble madly over the picture, going right over the lines; I want to draw the picture for myself.

Excerpt from Devil and the Deep (Ceruleans #4)

It began with screaming. Shrill, ear-piercing, horrified screaming.

A girl shrieked, ‘Blood! Look, look – it’s everywhere!’ and pressed her hand to her mouth.

A man shouted, ‘Good grief!’ and another, ‘Great Scott!’

An old lady swooned gracefully and would have tipped over the balustrade of the riverboat had a lanky lad not caught her.

The cause of the excitement – a woman lying slumped on the long table on deck, cheek on her bread plate, headdress in the butter dish – twitched a little.

‘She’s alive!’ cried a lad beside her delightedly. ‘She moved!’

‘Did not,’ argued another.

‘Did too!’

‘Gentlemen,’ interjected a short, portly man with a twirly black moustache, ‘if you will forgive my intrusion, it must be noted that this woman has a bullet hole in her head and is logically, therefore, quite definitely deceased.’

Another old dear folded to the deck with a prolonged ‘Ohhhhhh’ and her husband grabbed a feathered fan and began wafting cool evening air in her face while calling, ‘Smelling salts – does anyone have any?’

I tried to keep a straight face. Really I did. I bit my bottom lip until I tasted my cherry-red lipstick. I pinched my leg through the cream satin of my gown. I dug my long cigarette holder into the sensitive flesh of my arm.

But it was no good.

The ‘What ho, chaps’ posh accents.

The buxom woman sagging in the arms of an elephant hunter wearing Converse All Stars.

The production of smelling salts in a bottle whose label read Pepto-Bismol.

The corners of the little round man’s moustache coming looser with his every word.

The fast-pooling puddle of pinkish blood on the bread plate, buffeted by the steady in-and-out breaths of the corpse.

Take it from a girl who’s really died – death on the River Dart, Devon, is hilarious.

‘Dear me, Ms Robson here appears to be quite overcome with shock,’ said the guy at my side suddenly, and he slipped an arm around me and turned me away. ‘Come, madam. Let us get some air.’

I smiled at him. Then grinned. Then choked back a guffaw. Thankfully, by the time full-scale hilarity hit me I’d been led to the rear of the boat, away from the rest of our party, and could bury my face in the bloke’s chest and shake mutely with laughter.

The gallant gentleman rubbed my back soothingly as I let it all out and said loudly, for the benefit of any onlookers, ‘There there, pignsey, there there.’

‘Pigsney?’ It was the final straw. My high-heeled sandals gave way and I melted into a puddle of mirth on the deck.

‘I’ll have you know, Scarlett Blake,’ hissed Luke, my boyfriend a.k.a. gallant gent, hoiking up his too-tight corduroy trousers so he could squat down beside me, ‘I Googled “old-fashioned terms of endearment” and pigsney’s a classic.’

I wiped tears from my eyes, dislodging a false eyelash in the process, and tried to catch my hiccupping breath as Luke went on.

‘Means pig’s eye. No idea why that’s appealing, but apparently in the seventeenth century, calling a lady pigsney was the very height of courting.’

Through his fake specs Luke’s blue eyes fixed me with a stare so earnest I almost managed to stop laughing.

‘But this is a Death on the Nile-Stroke-Dart murder mystery night, Luke,’ I managed to get out. ‘Set in the nineteen thirties, not the seventeen thirties.’

‘Ah,’ he said, ‘but my character tonight, Mr Fijawaddle, is a historical fiction writer, isn’t he? So as well as dressing like a brainy recluse – and I’m warning you now, I won’t hear another slur against this tweed jacket – he’d know all kinds of obscure terms. Like ginglyform and jargogle and nudiustertian and bromopnea and farctate and quagswag and philosophunculist.’

His showing off sobered me just enough to control the giggles. ‘You made those words up,’ I accused, poking a crimson talon into his mustard-yellow shirtfront.

He blinked at me innocently. ‘Did not. I told you before we left the house, I did my homework.’

I narrowed my eyes. ‘All right then, Mr Fijawaddle, what does that last word you said mean?’


‘Yes, that.’

‘Er…’ Luke gave me a sheepish grin.

‘Spill it,’ I said menacingly. As menacingly as a girl dressed up as a vintage Hollywood starlet with cute little pin curls and rouge aplenty can be, that is.

‘Philosophunculist,’ recited Luke. ‘Noun. A person who pretends to know more than they do in order to impress others.’

I threw my head back and laughed. ‘Busted!’

Luke slipped an arm around me and pulled me close. Really close.

‘Bet you like it when I use long words,’ he said huskily, eyes fixed on my too-red lips.

‘Bet you like it when I wear a clingy nightgown as a dress,’ I replied, eyes fixed on his too-kissable lips.

‘Brazen hussy,’ he growled at me.

‘Randy boffin,’ I murmured back.

Then neither of us said another word for quite some time.

Buy the book on and

About Megan Tayte

Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. ‘Write, Megan,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did. Thirty-odd years later, Megan is a professional writer and published author by day, and an indie novelist by night. Her fiction – young adult romance with soul – recently earned her the SPR’s Independent Woman Author of the Year award. Megan grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in Robin Hood's county, Nottinghamshire. She lives with her husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; her son, a budding artist with the soul of a palaeontologist; and her baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When she's not writing, you'll find her walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as she pursues her impossible dream: of baking something edible.

You can find Megan online at: her website, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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Rummanah Aasi

 Banned Book Week is officially underway. I have been busy presenting and advocating our intellectual freedom to my Social Sciences and English classes. Students are shocked and appalled about the book challenges and we are having lots of great discussions. Due to time restraints, I will not be reading a banned/challenged book at the moment but I hope to do sometime this year. Check out of my Forbidden Reads feature if you are curious about some of the books that I have lighted on this blog. You can also see what Banned/Challenged Books I've read in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Here is an infographic from the American Library Association on the Top 10 2014 Book Challenges:

Click the caption to enlarge

It is important to note how diversity in books are widely targeted in 2014. I really don't see that declining. I've read 8 books on this list including the two graphic novels, Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples and Drama by Raina Telegeimer. How many have you read? Any books on this list that surprised you? Let me know in the comments!

Rummanah Aasi
 Today I am excited to bring you a guest post from author Elizabeth Wheatley who is celebrating the release of her new book, The Key of Amatahns, on Amazon Kindle.  Download the book from Amazon for $0.99 for a limited time!  Ms. Wheatley is also giving away a FREE copy of the book! Fill out the Rafflecopter below if you are interested.

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Five Favorites in Fantasy: Boy/Girl Friendships

Janir and Karile’s relationship was actually modeled on my brother and I, who were best friends growing up and are still very close. Probably in large part to this, I absolutely LOVE sweet brother/sister relationships in books as well as boy/girl friendships.

1. Sunny and Tuck from TheWitches’ Sleep by Kaitlyn Deann

Kaitlyn Deann knows how to write characters you love. I adored Sunny and Tucks and their mutually protective relationship made them even more so.

2. Sora and Dorian from Sora’s Quest by T.L. Shreffler

I think some people shipped this, but I didn’t. Dorian and Sora did, however, have some of the wittiest and funniest dialogue I’d read in awhile. A+

3. Branwen and Rhodri from Warrior Princess by Frewin Jones

I’m really glad the author decided not to make this a romantic relationship, because it looked like it was headed that way for awhile. But you’ve got to love two characters who would do anything for each other because they’re good friends—not  because of some unrequited love thing.

4. Kaliel and Pux from Surrender by Rhiannon Paille

These two were just so cute! Seriously, there is nothing to hate. They are both little dandelion floofs of cuddliness and to hate them requires the removal of one’s soul.

5. Harry Potter and Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Anyone who watched the movies will understand, never mind reading the books. Luna and Harry’s strictly “just friends” policy was carried off wonderfully and here’s another beautiful example of platonic loyalty. Good old JK!

thekeyofamatahns_LARGE In a land where those with magic are esteemed and revered, Janir guards a secret that would send her to the headsman's block at a word. As one of the reviled Argetallams, she has the power to destroy enchantments and steal others' magic—an ability that has caused bloodshed for generations.

Raised as the illegitimate daughter of an influential lord, she was determined to turn her back on her heritage, but when her power manifests, leaving a nobleman dead, she has no choice but to flee her adoptive home. In exile with the help of a fearless young enchanter and an elf sworn to protect her, she finds herself entangled in a quest to hide an ancient artifact from the kingdom’s enemies.

But they are not the only ones after the relic and soon their paths cross with a rival from Janir's distant childhood. With no hope of help or rescue, the fate of nations will depend on a fifteen year old girl and her mastery of powers she doesn't understand.

About the Author

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Elisabeth Wheatley began what would be her first novel at eleven and hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not daydreaming of elves, vampires, and/or hot guys in armor, she can be found wasting time on the internet, fangirling over her latest obsession, and pretending to be a functional citizen.

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Rummanah Aasi
I am excited to bring you the cover reveal to Liz Long's new book, Ignited, thanks  to Mark My Words Book Publicity. If you are looking for a paranormal romance read, you might be interested in her Donovan Circus series.

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    Lucy might've beaten Alex the Chameleon, but the cost of his defeat was too much to bear. After losing a beloved member, Sheffield Donovan temporarily disbands the show. Abandoned by the ringmaster and her friends, Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of their ruined circus – and defend it against those waiting for the opportunity to strike.
    During one of these attempts, Lucy learns of Augustus Rivers, the leader of his so-called gifted mafia. When Lucy is offered a chance to infiltrate the Rivers’ household, she jumps at the opportunity to seek vengeance on the mastermind. Augustus instead surprises everyone by proposing that the powerful female Firestarter work for him. It’s everything the Donovan Circus isn’t, an offer Lucy finds more enticing than she ever expected.
    With the Donovan Circus in shambles and the gifted world on the cusp of war, can Lucy Sullivan figure out who she’s meant to be? Or will her fire destroy everything they’ve built?

About the Author


   Liz Long is a ridiculously proud graduate of Longwood University with a BA in English. Her inspiration comes from action and thriller genres and she spends entirely too much time watching superhero movies. Her fabulous day job as a social media editor includes writing for a publishing company in Roanoke, VA.
   Her first book, Gifted, is the first book in the Donovan Circus series, where superpowers meets the circus. Burned is the second adventure. Her standalone book Witch Hearts, is a story about a serial killer hunting witches for their powers. Her newest book A Reaper Made is an NA Paranormal tale of a Reaper using magic to save her family from demons. All titles are available at Amazon on Kindle and paperback, Barnes and Noble for Nook, and iBooks.
Rummanah Aasi

Description: Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.
 Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.
 Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it. But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

Review: After reading several ho hum reviews of The Girl at Midnight, I wasn't exactly sure what expect, but I actually enjoyed this debut novel. Echo is an orphan, a young thief who is caught by the Ala and brought to the world of the Avicen--a race of long-lived, partly feathered people. Echo embraces the Avicen as her family and has managed to trade favors, learn magic, and found a boyfriend, Rowan, but she was never accepted by her so-called family. Echo splits her time between living in our world and traveling through magic portals using special powders. When is caught by the dragonlike Drakharin race, the opponents of the Avicen in a long-running war, she undertakes a perilous journey to find the legendary firebird and, hopefully bring peace to the Avicen and Drakharin war.
 While there are lots of similarities to previous fantasy series such as the Mortal Instruments, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and the Grisha Trilogy, I thought The Girl at Midnight held strong on her own. Echo is a strong female protagonist who has a snarky voice yet her yearning to find a place/role of her own makes her vulnerable and human. Her survival instincts balance well with her impulsiveness. Though Echo's new role was predictable, I am looking forward to see where the author takes her character. Echo's companions, both from the Avicen and Drakharin sides are interesting and entertaining. I definitely want to know more about them. I also appreciated the attempts of diversity in the book by the two different fantastical races along with sexual identity.
  I wasn't too thrilled about the disjointed narration between Echo and Caius, which didn't flow smoothly. I hope Grey can pick just one voice and use it throughout the book. I didn't find the need for the dual narrative. There are two simmering romances that are underway in the book but they don't overwhelm the story. I also thought the world building was done quite well. Though the book ends on a major event, I didn't think it was a big cliffhanger and I'm actually okay waiting for the next book, which I will definitely be picking up.

Rating: 4 stars

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

If you like this book try: Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor, Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Description: Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.
  But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?

Review: Jesse's Girl is a light, fun, summer romance read. Unlike Kenneally's other books in the Hundered Oaks series where sports is somewhere in the background and serious issues are at play, Jesse's Girl's tone is light hearted with the air of a fairy tale romance and the focus is on music.
Maya Henry, Sam Henry's baby sister, lives and breathes music. Unfortunately she was just voted out of her band who didn't like her vision and she has strong stage fright in performing solo. To add to her pile of bad news, Career Shadow Day is coming up and Maya is paired with her high school principal's nephew and Nashville's teen hearthrob country music star, Jesse Scott. Despite Maya's lack of interest in country music, Maya respects Jesse's talent and is eager to learn from him. 
   Unfortunately, Jesse and Maya start off at the wrong foot. Jesse treats her like another annoying groupie, but after being upfront with each other's expectations Jesse and Maya are surprised by the potential for a friendship as they share their dreams, fears, and past heartbreaks. The romantic attraction is palpable between the two leads, however, they do face bumps along the way with Jesse's insecurities and their different lifestyles. While I liked both of these characters, I didn't feel they were as strong as Kenneally's previous characters. I was annoyed though I understood Jesse's whiplash reactions of wanting to be trusting but always second guessing Maya's ulterior motives. The romance was cute and overall I did enjoy the story, but this is not of my favorites from the Hundred Oaks series.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language, brief discussion of sex, a small fade to black sex scene, and mention of underage drinking. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak, Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker, Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
Rummanah Aasi
 After reading three volumes of the Olympians series by George O'Connor, I've definitely become a fan of this series. The great thing about reading this series is that you can read them in any order.

Description: Greek Gods as you've never seen them before!

The strong, larger-than-life heroes of the Olympians can summon lightning, control the sea, turn invisible, or transform themselves into any animal they choose. Superheroes? No! Greek gods. The ancient pantheon comes to explosive life in this new series where myth meets comic books. Epic battles, daring quests, and terrible monsters await readers within the pages of these books.

Volume 2, Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess, is the tale of the goddess of wisdom and war, recounting her many adventures.

Review: O'Connor does a good job in summarizing Zeus's story for new readers. He also introduces the Fates who are the narrator's of this volume. Unlike Zeus's graphic novel, there is not a linear story told but rather a collection of vignettes of Athena's creation and birth story along with the story of Arachne and Perseus. Each story, in the end, tells how Athena added to her Aegis, which became her most powerful weapon. Plus there are two versions of why she took the name Pallas Athena.
  The storytelling and artwork sucked in me in quickly. The myths are brilliantly told, highlighting the prism of emotion that the Greek gods inhibited. The physical characterizations and facial expressions bring the characters to life. There were also some new tales told that I did not know much about, which was great. There is also a lot of violence in this issue, which makes sense since Athena is the Goddess of War, however, there are no graphic details of blood and gore. My only hesitation of adding this graphic novel to a elementary or middle school collection would be the actual birth story of Athena. There is real no way around the fact that her father eat Athena's mother in hopes of avoiding a prophecy only to have her born inside his body and popping out of his skill.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong violence throughout the graphic novel, however, there is no graphic bloodshed depicted. Given the context of Athena's birthing story I would feel comfortable in recommending this graphic novel to strong Grade 6 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Olympians: Hera by George O'Connor, Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of the Greek Myths by Bernard Evslin, Mythology by Edith Hamilton
Rummanah Aasi
 I had my first book club discussion for this new school year. The students were very excited to read Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. Many of them thoroughly enjoyed the book and are looking forward to hearing more movie news (the book is supposedly heading towards the big screen). While I liked the concept of the book and thought it was a fun read, it left me wanting more.

Description: Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.
  Nobody fights the Epics...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in. He wants Steelheart - the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning - and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience. He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

Review: Steelheart is a nice mash up of an X-men like comic and a traditional revenge story set in a dystopian Chicago setting. The formula though not new, Sanderson provides plenty of action and nonstop thrills with plenty of twists and turns until the very last page.
 Twelve years ago, a mysterious event called Calamity began turning random ordinary humans into evil Epics gifted with various combinations of superpowers, however, they are not invincible. The attention grabbing prologue sets the tone for the story as we learn of David Charleston's special vendetta against the Epics, particularly the ruler of Newago, a city cloaked in perpetual darkness and made entirely of solid steel thanks to its ruler, Steelheart, who killed his father 10 years ago. David has become obsessed with Steelheart in hopes he can track down the Epic's Achilles heel. He manages to make contact with a cell of Epic-killing Reckoners led by legendary mastermind Jon Phaedrus who is also known as simply "Prof". 
  We take the high octane ride with David as he tries to wrap his head around the mission of the Reckoners while going on car and motorcycle chases, secret missions, and avoiding huge explosions and hails of gunfire with high-tech weaponry. There is also a bit of a lull in the middle of the book as the Reckoners try to come up with a plan of how to attack Steelheart, but luckily it closes with a climactic battle with Epic Steelheart and a nice twist at the end. David shockingly realizes that not all Epics are evil. 
  While I liked the nice play of ordinary human trying to fight super villains and the fast paced plot, there is not much meat to the characters. I was hoping we would get layers to the characters, particularly that of Prof and Megan who play vital roles in the story, but that never happened. I also thought many of the names of the Epic and their powers were silly and stupid such as Deathpoint, Faultline, Pink Pinkess, and El Brass Bullish Dude to name a few. The book does not end in a cliffhanger, but it does raise several questions that will leave some readers clamoring for more. Definitely recommend this book to teens who love superhero movies, reluctant readers, and to those who are counting down the days until the next superhero movie to hit the big screens.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong violence and some gore in the book. Recommended for strong Grade 8 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Firefight by Brandon Sanderson (Reckoners #2), Young Elites by Marie Lu, Darkest Minds byAlexandra Bracken
Rummanah Aasi
  The beloved Buff the Vampire Slayer continues Season 8 in graphic novel format. I highly recommend fans of the show pick up this graphic novels to once again connect with their favorite characters.

Description: When a rogue debutant Slayer begins to use her power for evil, Giles is forced to recruit the rebellious Faith, who isn’t exactly known for her good deeds. Giles offers Faith a clean slate if she can stop this snooty Slayer from wreaking total havoc--that is, if Buffy doesn’t beat her to it.

Review: The star of No Future For You is Faith, one of the most multi-layered characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe. Buffy and Faith are both vampire slayers, however,  they are extremely different in personality and backgrounds. In many ways Faith is the antithesis of Buffy, a loner by circumstance and by choice. Abandoned by her guardians, Faith was forced to grow up on the streets. Unlike Buffy who has had consistent adults in her life for love and support, Faith has no one and is constantly yearning for affection. There are many times where Faith has been duped by villains who use her vulnerabilities against her to do their dirty work. Unlike Buffy, Faith's moral compass is all over the place and she is susceptible to being intoxicated by power and letting go of her dark side. Though the end of the television series sees Faith returning to the side of the good guys, she is always plagued by her inner demons and is constantly fighting against the dark aspects of her personality. There is a division between Faith and the friends of Buffy endearingly called the Scooby gang. Faith's isolation continues in No Future for You as she is recruited by Giles to do the unthinkable--to kill another Slayer. 
  My favorite thing about No Future For You is the continued exploration of Faith's character. Her voice from the show full of snark, dark humor, and vulnerability is perfectly captured. Vaughan really captures Faith's inner struggle to do good in a world that doesn't really accept her. In this graphic novel she has to again prove to herself that she can fight her temptation to succumb to evil by disposing a rogue slayer named Gigi who is in a lot of ways Faith's mirror. Faith is torn between killing Gigi and befriending, setting her straight. 
  In addition to large Faith plot line, other important secondary characters such as Xander, Willow, and Dawn are also included in the graphic novel and are dealing with their issues. Willow is afraid to pursue her relationship with another person given her fear of losing someone else closer to her while Dawn is trying to break a spell that is bestowed upon her. Buffy, interestingly feels left outside, not being clued in to Gile's pursuit of Faith and their dealings with Gigi. 
 The illustrations in this graphic novel are a hit or miss. Sometimes the characters look just like the actors of the show and other times it completely misses the mark. Still I really enjoyed following the characters and plan on continuing this series.  

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and strong violence as well as suggested nudity in this volume. Recommended for teens and adults.

If you like this book try: Fray by Joss Whedon, Buff the Vampire Slayer: Wolves at the Gate (Season 8, Vol. 3)
Rummanah Aasi

I am honored to participate in the blog tour for Deborah Hopinson's latest nonfiction title, Courage and Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark. Many thanks to Provato Events for inviting me on the blog tour and to Scholastic for providing me an advanced reader's copy of the book.

Description: When the Nazis invaded Denmark on Tuesday, April 9, 1940, the people of this tiny country to the north of Germany awoke to a devastating surprise. The government of Denmark surrendered quietly, and the Danes were ordered to go about their daily lives as if nothing had changed. But everything had changed.
   Award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson traces the stories of the heroic young men and women who would not stand by as their country was occupied by a dangerous enemy. Rather, they fought back. Some were spies, passing tactical information to the British; some were saboteurs, who aimed to hamper and impede Nazi operations in Denmark; and 95% of the Jewish population of Denmark were survivors, rescued by their fellow countrymen, who had the courage and conscience that drove them to act.

Review: Courage and Defiance may seem like yet another World War II book at first glance, however; its focus is not on the plight of the Jews in Germany nor the rise and fall of the Nazis but rather the Danish Resistance movement in Denmark. Before reading this book, I had very little knowledge of the Danish Resistance and it did not take me long until I found myself fully immersed in this book. I learned quite a lot from this book, which is always a good sign for a well written nonfiction title.  
 Hopkinson explores the exciting and true story about ordinary people who put their lives on the line in order to take stand on a belief they strongly felt was wrong and to save their country from Nazi control. Thoroughly researched narrative nonfiction, Courage and Defiance zeroes in on several people who held various jobs in the Danish Resistance such as Niels Skov, a saboteur who set fire to the Nazi vehicles, Tommy Sneum who secretly photographed German radar equipment and then flew a plane to England with the evidence in order to warn the British Allies, and many others who joined the resistance in a nonviolent way by illegally publishing Frit Danmark, a publication that called on citizens to take action and resist the German occupation.
  There were many times I was on the edge of my seat in fear that the Danish Resisters would be caught by the Nazis. Some were indeed caught and killed, while others miraculously survived. Though I really enjoyed learning about various people from the movement, I did have a bit of a hard time remembering who was who as the figures came and went. Thankfully, there is a list of people provided in the back of the book that I could use as a reference. The book also contains a detailed bibliography of titles that are suitable for young readers and young adults as well as sources with a higher reading level. In addition to the bibliography there is also a map, a timeline, black and white illustrations that made history come alive, as well as a Danish pronunciation guide. 
  Courage and Defiance is a great addition to the already abundant books on World War II. Though marketed for elementary school and middle school, I can see many ways how this book could also be used at a high school level. Readers interested in history, but also curious about spies and intrigue will find lots to enjoy in the book.

Curriculum Connection: Social Studies

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is discussion about the torture many have gone through in the concentration camps though not in graphic detail. Recommended for strong Grade 3 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Darkness Over Denmark: The Danish Resistance and the Rescue of the Jews by Ellen Levine, His Name was Raoul Wallenberg by Louise Borden or The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose,

 Be sure to follow the blog tour on the following blogs to read more reviews, guest posts as well as interviews with Deborah Hopkinson!

DateStop on TourBlog
September 4, 2015ReviewThe Nonfiction Detectives
September 5, 2015ReviewFrom Tots to Teens
September 6, 2015ReviewWelcome to Book Wonderland
September 7, 2015ReviewGeo Librarian
September 7, 2015InterviewLaurieAnnThompson
September 9, 2015InterviewHooray4Books
September 10, 2015InterviewGreatKidsBooks
September 11, 2015ReviewBooksInTheSpotlight
September 12, 2015ReviewThe Children's War
September 14, 2015InterviewProvatoEvents
September 16, 2015ReviewMichelle Edwards
September 25, 2015Guest PostingKirby Larson's Blog
Rummanah Aasi
 I wanted to really like The Little Paris Bookshop. The words Paris and Bookshop grabbed my attention when I saw it at my public library. Unfortunately, I did not click with this book and was bored most of the time.

Description: Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.
  After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Review: Jean Perdu's Literary Apothecary is a unique bookshop in that it is a barge moored on the Seine. I think the best way to describe Perdu's profession would be a biblio-therapist- a person who recommends books to help cure any emotional affliction such as heartbreak, loneliness, and ennui. While he can easily help others, Perdu ironically can't help himself. 21 years ago the love of his life left him with an unopen letter. Since then Perdu has not lived, but goes the motions. When the long lost letter from his lover resurfaces, he is compelled to read it and the unexpected contents catalyzes him into action and take his mobile bookstore to Avignon in search of closure and forgiveness. 
  The book held my attention for the first few chapters and a little after finding out what was said in the letter. Instead of being interested in solving the mystery and finding Perdu's long lost love, I grew bored by the repetition of finding new people, chatting, drinking wine and eating. While I liked some of the secondary characters that we meet along the way such as Max Jordan an upcoming author who is terrified of writing a sophomore failure and paralyzed with writer's block, all the other characters were too similar and blurred together.  In between the mini excursions we are also given a glimpse of Perdu's love, but I didn't like her at all. I found her to be selfish and I just can't understand her life choices. It also didn't help that the dialogues were cliched and at many points sacchrine.
Overall it was an okay read, more of a beach read. If you are looking for similar story that has a stronger, tighter plot and engaging characters do check out The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin which I liked a lot more though it too had its faults.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and sexual situations. Recommended for older teens and adults.

If you like this book try: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain, The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
Rummanah Aasi
 Today I am delighted to share an excerpt from Iain Reading's The Dragon Of The Month Club the exciting first installment in a new young adult fantasy book series. This books sounds extremely cute and great for dragon fans. You can find out more information about the author and the book down below.

 Chapter 2 – The Book

  It all started on a typical Friday afternoon. Ayana and Tyler had agreed to meet at the library right after school. Tyler had a dentist appointment and would either be a few minutes late or a few minutes early, depending on how long that took. Not surprisingly Tyler was a few minutes late. This could have been expected since Tyler took dentist appointments very seriously. For weeks ahead of time he would be sure to brush his teeth five times every single day—once when waking up, once after breakfast, once after lunch, once after dinner, and once again before bed—which was two more times a day than he usually did. (He normally deemed the wake-up and after dinner steps unnecessary.) All of this was in addition to flossing, rinsing, and otherwise generally trying to keep his teeth in the best possible shape for the check-up.

To Tyler, going to the dentist was like studying for a test in school. Failure was not an option. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that once he was actually in the dental chair, he expected the dentist to be every bit as thorough as he was, a process that required a bit more time than it normally would with less fastidious patients.

So Tyler was late.

And so, when he finally arrived, he hurried down the stairs and quickly navigated through the maze of shelves at the back of the library and found Ayana sitting there, crouched on the floor, sobbing her eyes out.

Tyler sighed heavily. He could already guess what must have happened: Heather van der Sloot... again.

He took off his backpack and set it on the floor. Folding his legs under him, he lowered himself down until he was sitting next to Ayana, not too close, of course, but as close as he dared to.

“What happened this time?” Tyler asked.

Ayana sobbed and buried her face even deeper in her hands. After a moment her left arm shot out, pointing an accusing finger toward a stack of soiled and disheveled papers lying in a heap on an empty space on the shelf opposite them.

“That,” Ayana cried, her voice thin and cracking.

Tyler stared at the papers, and it took him a moment to realize what they were.

“Your poems,” he gasped.

Tyler had to take a breath and swallow. Ayana’s poems were a work of art, neatly written in careful flowing script, one to a page. Ayana carried them with her sometimes in a stiff green cardboard folder with trees on it that had little strings that you used to tie it shut.

Ayana nodded, still sobbing.

“She threw them all over the playground,” she said, her voice raspy. “She grabbed my tree folder away from me and threw them everywhere. I... I ....” Ayana stuttered and couldn’t speak for a second.
“I don’t know if I got them all back,” she finally said, finishing her thought. “I think I lost some.”

Tyler nodded and crawled over on one knee to pick up the chaotic stack of papers. He sorted through them, one by one, trying to put them back into some kind of order. They were smeared and scratched and crumpled. One even had a dirty footprint stamped squarely on it.

Normally Ayana wouldn’t even let Tyler glance at one of her poems, so he was surprised that she wasn’t bothered by his looking through all of them now. She clearly wasn’t thinking straight, so he tried to make as neat a stack out of them as possible and set it down on the carpet in the middle of the row of shelves.

“There are a lot there,” he said, sitting close to her again. “Maybe you did get them all.”

Ayana shrugged her shoulders hopelessly.

“It doesn’t matter,” she said, staring blankly at the pile of papers. “I don’t care.”

Tyler felt a sudden squeeze around his heart. He had no idea what he was supposed to do to make Ayana feel better. But as his mind was racing, trying to think of something, the universe intervened.

“I hate her, Tyler,” Ayana said. “I HATE her!”

On this second last syllable, Ayana kicked at the opposite shelves with the heel of her shoe, making the wooden frame shudder and some of the books rattle around. One particular book—a small, thin one high up on the very top shelf—tipped forward as if in slow motion until it was hanging precariously at an impossible angle, almost as if it was levitating, before tumbling end over end to the floor.

Tyler tried to catch it but he was too slow, and instead it crashed into the stack of papers, scattering them slightly, before it fell flat on its back, right side up right in front of them.

how to conjure
your very own dragon
in six easy steps the front cover of THE BOOK in bright yellow letters against a wavy blue background.

Tyler frowned and Ayana stopped crying for a moment. They both stared at THE BOOK with wide-open eyes, neither of them quite able to believe what they were seeing.

“How to conjure a dragon?” Ayana asked, kneeling forward to grab THE BOOK. Tyler crawled next to her as she opened the front cover.

THE BOOK was very thin—more like a pamphlet, really— with no table of contents, no copyright page, no dedication page. There wasn’t even an indication of who the author might be. It just went straight into the first chapter, which was entitled:

the water dragon

On the thirteenth of every month a new dragon conjuring spell is revealed and the two friends attempt to summon the latest Dragon of the Month. The varieties are almost endless: Air Dragons, Paper Dragons, Fog Dragons, Waterfall Dragons, Rock Dragons, Tree Dragons - not to mention special bonus dragons for all the major holidays, including a particularly prickly Holly Dragon for Christmas.

But one day when a conjuring spell somehow goes wrong Ayana and Tyler find themselves unexpectedly drawn into a fantastical world of adventure based on the various books scattered all across Tyler's messy bedroom. Traveling from one book-inspired world to the next with nothing to rely on but their wits and a cast of strange and exotic dragons at their disposal they must try to somehow find their way home again.

Drawing inspiration from some of literature's most memorable stories - from 19th century German folktales to the streets of Sherlock Holmes's London - the adventures of Ayana and Tyler bring these classic stories to life in delightfully strange and unexpected ways. Filled with fascinating detail and non-stop action these books will spark the imaginations of readers of all ages to inspire a life-long love of reading and seeking out books that are just a little bit off the beaten track.

About the Author:

Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.

Iain writes young adult novels. He is the author of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, The Wizards of Waterfire Series, and the dragon of the month club. To learn more, go to Amazon.

Connect with Iain on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Rummanah Aasi
 At the Annual ALA Conference in San Francisco this year, I attended a Graphic Novel panel that discussed and explored diversity in many forms from gender, sexuality, and race to name a few. One of the graphic novelists on the panel was Noelle Stevenson who first started her career as a webcomic creator but her career soon blossomed into a published graphic novelist as her popularity soared and she received critical acclaim for her webcomics and graphic novels.

Description: Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together...and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way!

Review: Lumberjanes is a fun filled graphic novel series that focuses on female power and female friendships. The setting for the first volume of this graphic novel is set at a summer camp with creepy paranormal events happening in the least expected places. Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley, are our five campers at the "Hardcore Lady Types" from a diverse backgrounds and body shapes. The graphic novel begins in mid-adventure as the five girls are out after hours investigating a strange event that they all witnessed: a woman turning into a giant bear. 
This is just the first of many odd occurrences for the girls who call themselves the Lumberjanes, as the scouts are called, band together to solve puzzles, defeat three-eyed creatures, and escape the ire of their watchful counselor Jen. I loved how each camper has a skill that helps the group conquer each challenge that pops up in their way. The girls are all spunky, lovable characters sparkle with exuberant personality and challenge gender stereotypes. There is also a subtle same-sex relationship developing in the background as Molly and Mal share tender glances at each other. 
  At the opening of each chapter, an excerpt from the Lumberjanes field guide is included and a gallery of cover images append the book. References to female heroines such as Bessie Coleman and Joan Jett are sprinkled throughout the graphic novel. The artwork is very playful as it exudes humor and reinforces themes of teamwork and friendship. You may recognize the artwork style from Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl which is also illustrated by Stevenson. Overall, I enjoyed this volume and I look forward to continuing this series. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 5 and up.

If you like this book try: Chiggers by Hope Larson, Lumberjanes Vol 2 by Noelle Stevenson
Rummanah Aasi
 Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine! This week I'm eagerly awaiting the release of two books: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters and Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira. Even though both books are released in quite a few months, they were too good to pass up. 

The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters 
Publish date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books

 Diversity + Shakespeare Retelling + Cat Winters.  Need I say more?

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s HamletThe Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira 
Publish date: January 12, 2016
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press 

 This sounds beyond adorable and a must read for all booknerds. We've all thought fiction boys are much better, but I am curious about this Dev guy. :)

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?
Rummanah Aasi
 Another Day is the companion novel to David Levithan's widely acclaimed novel, Every Day. Another Day mostly succeeds standing on its own, however, I personally think you would miss its full impact if you did not read Ever Day first.

Description: Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.
  Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person…wasn’t Justin at all.
  In this enthralling companion to his New York Times bestseller Every Day, David Levithan tells Rhiannon’s side of the story as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you.

Review: In Every Day we explored the universality of love through a gender neutral character named A who inhabits a different body every day. In one of these bodies A was Rhiannon's boyfriend named Justin and they two spent a wonderful day together. Unexpectedly A fell in love with Rhiannon and has tried to pursue a relationship with her, which has been further complicated by A's constantly changing state.
  Another Day recalls this same event, however, we are now seeing things through Rhiannon's point of view. Throughout the book Rhiannon inquires what makes a relationship valuable. One of my main criticisms about Everyday was the lack of character development of Rhiannon. I never understood what was about her that captivated A. This time around I felt I had a better understanding of her, but I didn't really like her as a character.
  In the beginning Rhiannon is a codependent person who uses her rocky relationship with her acerbic boyfriend, Justin, to define herself. While she craves intimacy and emotional attentiveness, he wants distance and wants to hangout or in other words fool around, which feel cold and mechanical. It is clear to everyone around her and indubitable to even to Rhiannon in heart of hearts, that her relationship with Justin is doomed yet her fear to be alone eclipses her logic and it is what keeps her at Justin's side.
 While it was hard seeing Rhiannon defend Justin at his worst moments to her friends and even chastising herself from demanding things that is her right from her boyfriend, I did like how Rhiannon slowly comes into her own person after she encounters A and acknowledges her own needs and desires. With A's constant changing of human bodies from boy to girl, various body types, and backgrounds, Rhiannon has the emotional intimacy that she craves, but can't have the physical relationship that she wants with A. There is a nice contrast between the idealistic world that A would love to live in in which Rhiannon would love him regardless of who A is and the realistic world that Rhiannon has firmly placed her feet on in which she is only attracted to males of a particular type, however, this discussion seems to go on endless circles in Another Day and it began to feel a bit tedious. Readers who have read Every Day will recognize several scenes in Another Day, however the tone is a bit different.
 Like the ending of Every Day, there is no real conclusion to Another Day and Levithan leaves the door open to a possible another book featuring Rhiannon and A. Personally, I enjoyed Every Day just a bit more because I found A a lot more interesting than Rhiannon. I think readers who enjoyed Every Day will find something new in Another Day and readers who are meeting A for the first time would be intrigued to read Every Day to find more about him/her.       

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language, underage drinking, and strong sexual content since Rhiannon and Justin are sexually active however these episodes are not graphically depicted. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Every Day by David Levithan, Cycler and Recycler by Lauren McLaughlin
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