Rummanah Aasi
 Every year there are books that are adapted into movies. 2016 seems to be the year for many highly anticipated book to movie adaptations such as the live-action Jungle Book and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Here are some adaptations that I'm really looking forward to watching in 2016.

A Monster Calls has been on my tbr list for quite sometime. I guess I really need to fit this book in before the month of October when the movie comes out! The book is basically about a young boy overcoming hard issues such as bullying and coping with his mother's terminal illness. I'm really curious as to how they will create the monster. This movie has an excellent cast featuring Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson, and Sigourney Weaver. It is directed by J.A. Boyona who also directed The Impossible.

Check out the trailer below:

The BFG, one of my childhood favorite books by Roald Dahl, is also getting the big screen treatment. It is directed by Steven Spielberg in July 2016. I love how this book teaches us to look beyond superficial appearances. The movie stars: Mark Rylance, Rebecca Hall, and Bill Hader.

Check out the trailer:


  There are other movie adaptations that I'm looking forward to seeing, however, they do not have a trailer yet:

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. This is another book that has been on my tbr since it came out. Every Halloween I think of picking up this book, but when I take a look at the photos and I chicken out. Now that the series is over, I'm curious to check it out for real this time. The movie will be directed by Tim Burton and it will star: Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, Asa Butterfield, and Madame Judi Dench. I remember thinking when Miss Peregrine came out that this would the perfect Tim Burton movie. A perfect blend of quirky fantasy with some horror overtones.
Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. This was a great historical fiction, family drama read. It is about a lighthouse keeper and his wife living off the coast of Western Australia where they rescue a baby they found from an adrift rowboat and raise the baby on their own. I would highly recommend it. The movie stars: Alicia Vikander, Michael Fassbender, and Rachel Weisz. There is currently no release date on file. 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, this is another childhood favorite of mine. Calvin O'Keefe was my first book boyfriend. The book is in the "development stage" and there is no director or cast information at the moment. I only hope that whoever does this movie does not screw up. Fingers crossed that this adaptation will be much better than the awful tv movie adaptation back in 2003.

 These are just a few movies that I'm really looking forward to seeing in 2016. What about you? What are you excited to see on the big screen? Let me know in the comments below!
Rummanah Aasi
 The Fever caught my eye as I was browsing the shelves at my public library. I was curious to see how an adult writer would capture the high school milieu and portray teenagers who are usually in the background in many adult novels.

Description: The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community. As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.

Review: The Fever is a deliciously twisted tale of hormone driven teenagers with echoes of hysteria and witch hunt that is first seen in Arthur Miller's The Crucible. The premise of the book is very simple: a mysterious illness occurs at school and everyone has little information as to how it started and how to stop it.
  Abbott's talent shines in depicting the viciousness of high school where jealousy, entitlement, manipulation to get what you want, and the desire of immediate satisfaction knows no bounds. The book follows a group of female friends at Dryden High School. At the center of the group is Deenie Nash and her best friends Lise Daniels and Gabby Bishop, an inseparable trio. Deenie is our main character and the daughter of a popular teacher, and the younger sister of hockey star and school heartthrob Eli. I liked how Abbott portrayed Deenie, who balances on the seesaw of confident and vulnerable. Not only is she trying to navigate her own sexual awakening, but she also has to deal with her distant mother, school drama, and feeling jealous of Skye, a girl who is spending way more time with her best friend Gabby.
  The book's suspense is kicked into high gear when the mysterious affliction appears. What seemed like an ordinary school day is changed when Lise suffers an unexplained and violent seizure in the middle of class. Many people thought Lise's incident was isolated until a series of girls began exhibiting the same symptoms. The rumors seem to spread as fast as the mysterious affliction, which is blamed on everything from a rotten batch of vaccine to female hysteria.
  Abbott expertly withholds just enough information to slowly ratchet up the hysteria and suspense as the school is shaken with half-formed theories and speculations. One speculation in which the disease is transmitted sexually is a curious thought. As a society, we seem to be fine with boys being sexually active as if it is their rite into manhood and an event to be celebrated, however, there is a double standard when it comes to females. Interestingly, Abbott shows this double standard in how she creates her male characters, attractive beings who is always on the outside and something to be possessed, conquered.
  As Deenie tries to solve the mystery, she has to sort through uncomfortable complex social and emotional issues. While I was a bit disappointed on how the mystery is solved, I really liked going on this bizarre and dark journey with Deenie. All of the characters were fleshed out and I would definitely recommend it if you like character driven stories. The Fever is a book that might not please all suspense readers, but it does make you think. I really liked Abbot's writing and I will definitely read another book by her again.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: Since the contagion is rumored to be sexually transmitted, there is a lot of discussion and mention of sex along with sexual situations. There is also strong language in the book. Recommended for mature teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn, Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter, Furies by Natalie Haynes
Rummanah Aasi

Description: Jasper Rabbit loves carrots—especially Crackenhopper Field carrots. He eats them on the way to school. He eats them going to Little League. He eats them walking home. Until the day the carrots start following him...or are they?

Review: Creepy Carrots is a fun read. I really like how it plays on the old horror movie tropes of a main character feeling paranoid that something or someone is stalking them only to find out that there is no one there when they turn around. I thought the use of using carrots was very clever, honing on the distaste of many children who don't like to eat their vegetables. The panels vary in size, highlighting Japer's fears and his attempts to secure himself from the looming carrots that just won't leave him alone. The gray coloring reminds me of an old school black and white noir film. Creepy Carrots would be a great read for any time of the year, but I think it would be especially great for Halloween.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for PreK to Grade 1.

If you like this book try: The Monster's Monster by Patrick McDonnel, Black Dog by Levi Pinfold, and Even Monsters Need Haircuts by Matthew McElligott

Description: As a boy and his mother move quickly through the city, they're drawn to different things. The boy sees a dog, a butterfly, and a hungry duck while his mother rushes them toward the departing train. It's push and pull, but in the end, they both find something to stop for.

Review: Wait is a beautiful story. The plot is very simple yet very relatable. A mother and her young son are trying to rush to their morning train. While the mother passes by ordinary events and her sole focus is getting on the train, her son times time to observe all of things around them with a repeatable chime of "Wait" and the mother's response of "Hurry". I love how the images from the mother's perspective flash by like a blur, but for her son's point of view things are much larger and impressive, mirroring the perspective of time as an adult and as an innocent child. The pacing is just right. Just when the mother and child reach the door of the train, the mother does scoop up her son and they both marvel at a rainbow together.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for PreK to Grades 1.

If you like this book try: Waiting by Kevin Henkes, Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena

Description: There's been a terrible mix-up in the royal nursery. Priscilla the princess has accidentally switched places with Pigmella, the farmer's new piglet. The kindly farmer and his wife believe it's the work of a good witch, while the ill-tempered king and queen blame the bad witch-after all, this happens in fairy tales all the time! While Priscilla grows up on the farm, poor yet very happy, things don't turn out quite so well for Pigmella. Kissing a frog has done wonders before, but will it work for a pig?

Review: The Princess and the Pig had me chuckling throughout the story. A new baby princess is accidentally switched with a piglet. I enjoyed the author's clever fractured fairytale and his nods to other famous and familiar fairy tales such as "Sleeping Beauty", "Thumbelina", and "The Frog Prince" as the princess and the piglet try to back to their rightful places. I think young readers would get a kick of pulling out references to the fairy tales and also point out the absurdity of a king and queen actually believing that their daughter is a pig no matter how much lipstick or expensive gowns they make the piglet wear. It will also be a good reminder in a lesson that wealth and advantage do not equate with self-worth.

Rating: 4 stars

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

If you like this book try: Fairly Fairy Tales by Esme Codell, The Other Side of the Story by Trisha Speed Shashkan
Rummanah Aasi
 I am a Brontes fan. Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite books and I have reread it several times. So when I saw the description for Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakely which mixes both fantasy and literary history, I was definitely interested. Unfortunately, the book didn't meet my expectations.

Description: Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been close. After all, nothing can unite four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict, spartan upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

Review: Worlds of Ink and Shadow has a very intriguing premise, blurring the lines of reality and fiction. The book focuses on the four remaining Bronte children: Charolette, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. Though sequestered by their father in a house and looked over by their help, the Brontes escape their drudgery in writing and creating their own fantasy worlds, which to their amazement, fantastically come alive. One such world is Verdopolis in which is manifested through their strong imaginations, words, desires, and an an uneven bargain with an untrustworthy spirit.
  Verdopolis is an intruging place in which Coakley drew inspiration from the various settings, atmosphere, and even characters of the Brontes' popular works. Unlike the original works, however, Verdopolis and its inhabitants are pretty to look at and a nice nod to the Brontes, but they lacked depth to stand on their own. The plot constantly shifts between the real and the fantastical worlds is jarring and there is no smooth transition. I was confused at times while reading the book and I had to reorient myself several times.
  Although the world building is weak, what really disappointed me is the underdeveloped fictional Brontes. Though the characters have close ties to their real counterparts, I didn't learn anything new about them. Readers of the Brontes will clearly see a plain Charlotte's whose worse fears is becoming a governess, a wild Emily who loves the moors, the arrogant Branwell who fears obscurity, and the prim and proper Anne. I would have loved for the author to take a chance on her characters, perhaps tackle their psyche and fears, and really explore the themes such as class and guilt that is so commonly seen in the Brontes' works. Maybe this book would work better for readers who haven't exposed themselves to the world of the Brontes, but for me I grew bored quickly with this book and I probably should not have finished it.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: Alcohol, infidelity, and cuckolding are mentioned in Verdopolis. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde for fantasy elements featuring literature, to learn more about the Bronte sisters check out Charlotte and Emily by Jude Morgan (historical fiction), and for nonfiction titles: The Brontës by Juliet Barker Charlotte Brontë and her Family by Rebecca Fraser, and The Brontës at Haworth by Ann Dinsdale.
Rummanah Aasi

The beautiful cover is thanks to Mandie Manzano.
When fifteen-year-old Edna Mather tears an expensive and unfamiliar pocket watch off her little brother's neck, he crumbles into a pile of cogs right before her eyes. Horrified, Edna flees for help, but encounters Ike, a thief who attempts to steal the watch before he realizes what it is: a device to power Coglings—clockwork changelings left in place of stolen children who have been forced to work in factories. Desperate to rescue her brother, Edna sets off across the kingdom to the hags' swamp, with Ike in tow. There, they learn Coglings are also replacing nobility so the hags can stage a rebellion and rule over humanity. Edna and Ike must stop the revolt, but the populace believes hags are helpful godmothers and healers. No one wants to believe a lowly servant and a thief, especially when Ike has secrets that label them both as traitors. Together, Edna and Ike must make the kingdom trust them or stop the hags themselves, even if Ike is forced to embrace his dark heritage and Edna must surrender her family.


   Green smoke snaked up the side of the tenement and drifted over the sill of an open window. A breeze blew the vapor into a column before it solidified into the shape of a stout, young hag. She shook her crimson curls away from her face and straightened the hood of her cloak to keep her kohl-lined, silver eyes shadowed.
    The scent of lavender clung to her robes, washing over the small room. Two brass-framed beds crowded the floor. Blankets covered sleeping children. A little boy wheezed against the head of his stuffed bear, drool dripping onto the wool.
   The hag squinted to see the goldenrod dream cloud above his head—a dream about seeing his father again. She frowned at the other bed, where a sleeping teenager lay with a threadbare blanket tugged around her chin. Even squinting, the hag couldn’t make out a dream cloud. The girl was too old to be of any use.
   The hag slithered to the boy’s bed and, from the folds of her cloak, drew out a rectangular box four inches long, with a circular indentation on one side. She set it on the floor to remove a vial and rag from her skirt pocket, the rough wool of the rag irritating her fingertips.
“Do it, Simone,” the hag muttered to herself as she willed her hands not to tremble. “Make the Dark Mother happy.” She couldn’t fail at her first mission.
Holding her breath, Simone dribbled three drops onto the rag, yanked the teddy bear away, and shoved the drugged cloth against the boy’s mouth. His eyes opened, his gasp muffled, and his body jerked. Simone stiffened.
  The girl moaned. Her mattress rustled as she rolled over to face the wall, brown curls shifting over her pillow.
  Simone’s heart thudded. By the seven Saints, she should’ve cast a sleeping spell over the girl. The Dark Mother preferred humans to think hags were harmless healers, not thieves who kidnapped children.
   The boy writhed, squeaks emerging from behind the rag. Simone pressed harder. She needed his breath in the wool to disguise and fuel the machine.
   The potion took hold and the boy collapsed. Simone’s thick lips curved over her broken teeth. She lifted a pocket watch from around her neck and positioned it into the crevice in the metal box. As the two pieces connected, a chime rang out. She set the box beside the limp little boy and draped the rag over it. Even though she should wait to make sure his breath stuck in the machine, she couldn’t risk waking the girl.
   The metal stretched to become his replica as if it were made of putty. With a second chime, the metal shimmered and dulled into the pale peach of his flesh, becoming an exact duplicate of the child.
“Mine.” Simone hefted the little boy into her arms, leaving the duplication on the bed, and transformed to smoke before the chimes awoke the girl.

Check out COGLING on GoodReads and Amazon.

About the Author

Jordan Elizabeth, formally Jordan Elizabeth Mierek, writes down her nightmares in order to live her dreams. She is the author of ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW, TREASURE DARKLY, and BORN OF TREASURE. Check out her website,, for more information on her books, contests, and bonus short stories.


Rummanah Aasi
 Jojo Moyes' breakout novel, Me Before You, is a heartbreaking and emotional novel. I was a bit surprised to learn she had planned on writing a companion novel. Though it was nice to see the characters again, the sequel did not have much of an emotional impact on me.

Description (edited to avoid spoilers): Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.
  Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future.

Review: Though After You is a companion novel and takes place 18 months after Me Before You, I would highly recommend reading Me Before You first as there are major spoilers in the plot of After You. After Louisa was given the opportunity of a lifetime to live her life, she is still left with a hollow heart. She's settled in an empty London flat and has taken a dreary waitress job at an airport pub. After falling off her apartment roof terrace in a drunken state, she momentarily fears she'll end up paralyzed herself, but Sam, the paramedic treats and saves her. Louisa's family, scared of her mental state, takes her in, which is where the books shines with the family's warmth and humor. 
  Just when I wanted to know more about Sam, the story then shifts when Louisa returns to London and finds a troubled teen named Lily on her doorstep. Lily is a selfish, bratty teen, and a character that I didn't much care for until her relevance is revealed. Once we found out Lily's role in the story, she takes over the book, which made wonder why Louisa is even present in this book and told mostly in her point of view. 
  There are surprises and misunderstandings sprinkled throughout the book to keep the plot moving, however, they are all neatly tied up. The romance between Louisa and Sam is cute, but it felt a bit superficial to me because Sam was a little too perfect as a love interest. While the novel does a decent job in exploring how different people grieve and mourn, its seriousness doesn't sustain with the addition of stereotypical characters such as Lily's narcissistic, rich, and distant mother.
 While I'm glad to be back with the characters that I liked in Me Before You, After You does not leave a lasting impression and isn't as emotionally intense. If you had to choose of the two books to read, I would highly recommend just reading Me Before You

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, sexual situations, and mature themes. Recommended for older teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern, The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel, Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain
Rummanah Aasi

Description: Arthur believes that he is destined to become a famously rich novelist. The first step in his journey to literary greatness will be winning the school writing contest, which will also (hopefully) distract him from the untimely death of his mother. Unfortunately, Arthur can't come up with a good story, unlike his beautiful writing partner Kennedy, who he's sure will ditch her popular boyfriend and fall in love with him sometime soon. Even Robbie Zack, Arthur's nemesis, has an idea! As the competition draws closer, and as his father drifts further and further away, how far with Arthur go to win?

Review: Arthur Bean, an egotistical and bright seventh grader, chronicles his school year through entries in his reading journal, email exchanges, and writing assignments in this humorous coming-of-age novel. He knows he is very smart and isn't afraid to tell everyone. While some readers maybe put off by his know-it-all attitude, Arthur reminded me of a younger version of Sheldon Cooper, especially when it comes to his teacher insisting that in fact he does not know everything.
  Arthur wants to be a famous, wealthy author and hopes to start his journey by winning a citywide contest for young writers except he has a severe case of author's block. In addition to his writing woes, Arthur is also forced him to tutor his nemesis and bully, Robbie by his teacher in hopes that both boys will learn to understand each better. Arthur also tries to woo the heart of his crush and writing partner Kennedy.
  Underlying these familiar middle-school dramas and problems, there is a grey cloud lingering above Arthur and his father as they are grieving over the recent death of his mother. Though Arthur doesn't directly talk about his grief, it is implied but I wished it focused more which will help balance the book between the humorous parts of the book with the more serious issues. The author does a job establishing and maintaining the humor of the book from Kennedy's exuberant personality which shines through her LOL-dotted, exclamation-point-laden emails to Arthur's response to his homework assignments. I would also have liked the author to avoid the stereotypes of a bully as well as the self absorbed popular girl. Overall Arthur may not be a likable character for every reader, but he does learn a few things about compassion, open-mindedness, and fairness.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: There are a few scenes of Arthur's father drinking beer but that is about it. Recommended for Grades 4 and up.

If you like this book try: Charlie Joe Jackson series by Tom Greenwald
Rummanah Aasi

Description: Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.
   Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.
    The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.
   The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

Review: I had really high hopes for These Shallow Graves and was disappointed with the book for many reasons. After starting with a promising prologue, the book's melodrama and a lackluster, predictable murder mystery drives the book. Set in 19th-century Manhattan, much like an Edith Wharton novel, socialite Jo Monfort's wealthy father meets an untimely death. Suicide is deemed the cause of death, but Jo believes foul play is the real cause because her father would never have thought to kill himself. When Jo overhears that her father's partners in a shipbuilding firm paid hush money to keep the fact that it was murder out of the press, she knows that solving her father's murder mystery is her mission and she is willing to risk her reputation to solve it.
 I have mixed reactions to Jo. On the one hand, I admired her for asserting her right to run her own life, but on the other hand she makes no attempt to give up the comforts of her privilege lifestyle such as letting her maids put the clothes on her or serve her at the house. I was also very annoyed with her blatant naivety of the less pleasant side of city life such as poverty, prostitutes, and unsavory men just to name a few. Though I understood the author wanted to emphasis Jo's sheltered life, her ignorance became repetitive and very annoying. Donnelly also does a fair job in establishing the social expectations for women like Jo such as being married to a man of good status and having babies and comparing women with dog breeds, however like Jo's naivety, this was also repetitive and heavy handed.
  In addition to the murder mystery and social issues in the book, there is also a bit of a romance, which fell flat for me. The insta-love with a bland love interest made me roll my eyes. I also thought a forced love triangle in which the other person didn't even know he was on it was very awkward and unnecessary.
 Though the pacing was steady with the right amount of clues leading to the next step in solving the mystery, I had figured the mystery out pretty early on. I don't think this book needed 500 pages and I think it could have been told much better in 300 pages.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, crude humor, scenes at a brothel and opium dens. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: The Agency series by Y.S. Lee, Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown, Out of The Easy by Ruta Septys

Description: Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl. Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child? Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary, the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.

Review: The Killing Woods was a solid mystery, however, I was expecting a bit more from the book. The novel starts with an attention grabbing first chapter in which Emily Shepherd looks out the window in the early morning and sees her father carrying the body of a teenage girl through the woods. Things become much more complicated because Emily knows the dead girl, Ashlee Parker, a classmate, and girlfriend of football star Damon Hilary. Emily's dad is a war veteran, who suffers from extreme post-traumatic stress disorder, is accused of the murder, and it is up to her to find out what really happened in the woods that horrible night.
 I really enjoyed the first half of the story. The narrative is split between Emily and Damon as we try to find out what really happened in the woods. Both Emily and Damon refuse to take responsibility for Ashlee's death and have their own personal motives making them unreliable narrators. Damon who was in a drug induced state the night Ashlee died can't remember his own actions and his lack of memory haunts him. The characters are revealed in complex layers and the woods themselves have an eerie personality, the only witness of the real truth. This first half is taut, suspenseful, and very intense.
  The second half of the novel is not as smooth. The story becomes bogged down with repetitious dialogue and descriptions. The clues to the mystery are not given as much which slows down the pace and made me lose interest. I was also really disappointed how Emily's father seems to disappear from the book, making the mystery to be a bit more obvious. The ending does try to get back to the fast paced story with lots of action and details thrown rapidly. While I liked the book, it lacked a polished feel to the story.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language, underage drug usage, allusions to sex, and strong violence. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: The Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks, The Last Good Place of 
Lily Odilon by Sara Beitia
Rummanah Aasi
 I stumbled upon George O'Connor's Olympians graphic novel series as I was browsing the graphic novel section at work. As readers of this blog know, I'm a big fan of Greek Mythology and I couldn't resist picking up this series. O'Connor's attention to details, meticulous research, incredible artwork, and great storytelling makes the Olympians an enthralling read and a must have series in libraries. Please note that this review is based on the advanced reader's copy that I received from First Second via Netgalley. Olympians: Apollo the Brilliant one will be published and available on January 26th at libraries and bookstores.

Description: Mighty Apollo is known by all as the god of the sun, but there's more to this Olympian than a bright smile and a shining chariot. In the latest volume of Olympians, New York Times bestselling author George O'Connor continues to turn his extensive knowledge of the original Greek myths into rip-roaring graphic novel storytelling.

Review: Unlike the previous installments of the Olympian series, Apollo's graphic novel is narrated by the nine Muses who were also worshiped along with the Greek deity. Each muse tells a different story featuring Apollo and they all paint him as a tragic hero "who has had many loves, but whose loves seldom prosper."
  O'Connor successfully shows different aspects of Apollo's personality through a variety of myths, some of which I was familiar with before and a few others that I did not know. We witness Apollo the hero when he goes off to avenge his mother, Leto, by defeating Python, the humongous serpent who had harried Leto at Hera's instigation, with fiery arrows. We also watch Apollo's ill luck with finding love as he lusts and chases after the nymph Daphne who would much rather be transformed into a laurel instead of being with him, kill his lover Hyacinth, the Prince of Sparta, who was killed by a misguided discus he threw and was led by the winds of a jealous Zephyr, and have his sister shoot the unfaithful mother of his own not-yet born son, Aklepios.  
  In addition to theses heartaches, we also see the majestic Apollo as he reminds everyone that he is indeed the greatest musician ever created after he gruesomely skins the hubris satyr Marsyas and wears it as his cape. Perhaps out of all of these different sides to Apollo, what struck me the most was the parental side of Apollo as he watched helplessly as his gifted son who healed many mortals be killed for upsetting Hades. As we wrap up the graphic novel, we can't help but think that the Muses maybe right in stating that Apollo is the most human out of all of the Greek gods and goddesses.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: Though not graphically depicted, there are strong violent allusions in the myths and mature themes. Recommended for Grades 4 and up.

If you like this book try: Greek Gods and Monsters by Bernard Evslin, Mythology by Edith Hamilton, or any of the Olympians series by George O'Connor
Rummanah Aasi

 I am happy to participate in The Bookminder blog tour by M.K. Wiseman. Many thanks to Xchyler Publishing and M.K. for inviting me on the blog tour. Below is an interview with M.K. If you are interested in The Bookminder, be sure to checkout the description, enter the giveaway below and follow the blog tour!

How did you come up with the concept of your story?

  In 2004 I had a very vivid dream that, afterward, wouldn't leave me alone. Said dream basically detailed out one scene from the story, something so different and captivating for me that it stuck. Now, it must be noted that I was not writing at that time, nor did I intend to write in any professional capacity. But as this one nugget of an idea would not let me be, I started to form a story around it – Why were these people doing what they were doing? Who were they?

I think that working in the Preservation Dept of the campus library system had bled into my subconscious and that is where the magick system that rules The Bookminder developed.

Please provide some insight into or a secret or two about your story.

The locations in Bookminder are real. Parentino truly did fall to ruins, while its twin fortification flourished. And while the town known as Dvigrad in the story did have another name, Moncastello, in keeping with the attitude of the characters in the story, I dropped the name from their fortification and merely called it Dvigrad. Call it a decision of character politics, if you will.

The tales of what actually happened to Dvigrad are a little muddled but history has the town mixed up in the middle of the Venice and Austrian conflict of the sixteenth century. And the town truly was abandoned due to plague—though history has that date at 1630 and Bookminder has it coming some 50-odd years later.

What was the most surprising part of writing this book?

The more I write (and this is, by far, the most writing I have yet done) the more I have come to realize that stories like to take on a life of their own. I used to hear that and scoff. But, in penning Bookminder, I found that sometimes an element would sneak into the narrative and then prove to be a stroke of brilliance in how it either foreshadowed a thing, or simply played a symbolic role. I kept looking at how things turned out going “but I'm not that smart!” or maybe “I've gotta just be lucky . . .” or “ . . . the story is asserting itself!” So I'm a convert to that philosophy, now.

What was the hardest part of writing your book, and how did you overcome it?

Point of View. Point of View. Point of View. I really love an omniscient narrator. I almost exclusively read omni POV. So to have to convert over to 3rd Person in service of the voice and narrative was a bit of a square peg / round hole issue for me. But the story is better served cutting out that distancing narrator that I so love. As to how I overcame it, I figured that as I'd put myself in the hands of professionals who wanted my book out there for the world, I had better do my part and learn and grow.

Who is your favorite author? Who has most influenced your work?

Two questions. Two answers:

Fav author? Have to go with Douglas Adams. His humor is superb. And while my brain tends to go a little sideways when reading his stories, that's part of my enjoyment of his very unique work. I appreciate that there really is no other author with his touch.

As for who has most influenced my work: Brian Jacques. While this may not seem the most obvious choice, hear me out. His Mariel of Redwall is the very first book that I remember being completely in love with. I read, of course, before that. Quite a bit. But this one book seemed to change reading for me. It became more than merely enjoyable. Stories could be transcendent, not mere personal experiences. Reading could link you to others. Maybe it was just the right book at a certain moment in my life. But I was a lucky enough kid to meet Mr. Jacques on more than one occasion at bookstore readings/signings. He became my author rockstar and it was his stories that changed how I thought of books which, in turn, has influenced my writing at a very deep level.

What's up next for you?
Hopefully we get to hear what happens next for the characters in Bookminder. Else I'd like to put the finishing touches on a couple of steampunk manuscripts I've been kicking around. But I'll keep writing for now. There are still a lot of stories in my head, a lot of characters.

The Book

Buy the book at: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Indiebound

The Author 

Find M.K. at Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

 We're celebrating the release of THE BOOKMINDER by M. K. Wiseman with a blog tour and Rafflecopter give-away! Visit each blog each day for more chances to win lots of great prizes. If you like epic fantasy, you'll love this coming-of-age tale of magic and wizards set in the Renaissance era.

January 9-16, 2016

Saturday, 01-09 Bookwhizz
Sunday, 01-10 M. K. Wiseman
Monday, 01-11 Perpetual Chaos of a Wandering Mind
Tuesday, 01-12 Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Wednesday, 01-13 Belart's Book Reviews
Thursday, 01-14 Dreams to Become
Semi-short Chic
Friday, 01.15 JD Spero
Books in the Spotlight
Saturday, 01-16 Creativity from Chaos
Rambling Reviews

Don't forget to enter our blog tour Rafflecopter give-away below, on the blogs above, on our Facebook page, or on Rafflecopter, with daily chances to win!

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: Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier and And I Darken by Kiersten White. Even though both books are released in quite a few months, they were too good to pass up. 

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier 
Publish date: September 13, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic

 I've thoroughly enjoyed Raina Telgemeier's graphic novels. Her stories are always heart warming, funny, and smart. I ordered her graphic novels for my high school library and was a bit worried the students would think it was a "kids" book. Fortunately, they are a big hit and always checked out!

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake -- and her own.

And I Darken by Kiersten White 
Publish date: June 28, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press

 Besides the author, what really caught my eye with And I Darken is its unique setting of the Ottoman Empire and a potentially female villain.

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
Rummanah Aasi

I have been looking forward to this morning and anxiously awaiting the announcement of several Children and Young Adult book awards. The Young Media Awards are like the Oscars for many librarians, including myself. The awards took place at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting at Boston, Massachusetts. Although there are many awards honored today, I was looking forward to finding out the winners for the CaldecottNewberyMorris, and of course the Michael L. Printz Award. You can find the other winners on the Association for Library Services to Children website and the Young Adult Library Services website (YALSA).

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of  Randolph Caldecott, who was a nineteenth-century English illustrator. The award is given annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Winner of the 2016 Caldecott Medal is:

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick 

Honorees of the 2016 Caldecott are:

Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews
Waiting by Kevin Henkes
Voice of Freedom: Frannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford

The Newbery Medal was named in the honor of John Newbery, who was an eighteenth century British bookseller. Like the Caldecott, it is also awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal is: 

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena

Honorees of the 2016 Newbery are:

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

The William C. Morris YA Debut Award was first awarded in 2009 by YALSA. The award is given to a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.

Winner of the 2016 Morris Award is: 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Honorees of the 2013 Morris Award are:

Because You'll Never Met Me by Leah Thomas
Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
The Weight of Feathers by Anna Marie McLemore

 The Michael L. Printz Award was named in the honor of Michael L. Printz, a school librarian in Topeaka, Kansas, who was a long-time active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association. The Michael L. Printz Award is an award given annually by the Young Adult Library Services Association to a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.

Winner of the 2016 Michael Printz Award is:

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Honorees of the 2016 Printz Award are:

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

 Congratulations to all of today's winners! The library associations have spoken. What do you think of these book awards? Will you read the books that have won and have been honored?
Rummanah Aasi
  There are a lot of great titles coming out in 2016! I'm thrilled to see a lot more diverse titles and subjects being published this year and I hope to see it grow in the future. In addition to the new releases by already established authors and series, I thought I would post some of my anticipated reads either by debut authors or some authors that fly under the radar. Please note that all of these books all have tentative release dates.

Anticipated Titles of 2016

We are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Synopsis: Henry Denton doesn’t know why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button. But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.

Since the suicide of his boyfriend, Jesse, Henry has been adrift. He’s become estranged from his best friend, started hooking up with his sworn enemy, and his family is oblivious to everything that’s going on around them. As far as Henry is concerned, a world without Jesse is a world he isn’t sure is worth saving. Until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.

Release Date: January 19, 2016

The Memory of Light by Franciso L. Stork

Synopsis: Inspired in part by the author's own experience with depression,The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one -- about living when life doesn't seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.

Release Date: January 26, 2016

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Synopsis: Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And secretly gender fluid. Riley starts an anonymous blog to deal with hostility from classmates and tension at home—but when the blog goes viral, an anonymous commenter threatens to out Riley to the world.

Release Date: February 2, 2016

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig: February 16th

Synopsis: Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end.

Release Date: February 16, 2016

The Visitor by Amanda Stevens

Synopsis: Years after their mass death, Ezra Kroll's disciples lie unquiet, their tormented souls trapped within the walls of Kroll Cemetery, waiting to be released by someone strong and clever enough to solve the puzzle. For whatever reason, I'm being summoned to that graveyard by both the living and the dead. Every lead I follow, every clue I unravel brings me closer to an unlikely killer and to a destiny that will threaten my sanity and a future.

Release Date: March 29, 2016

If I was your girl by Meredith Russo

Synopsis: Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. She's determined not to get too close to anyone. But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can't help but start to let him in. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself--including her past. But Amanda's terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life--and her new love?

Release Date: May 3, 2016

The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder

Synopsis: Featuring a spectrum of artifacts that chronicle the lives of the curator Penelope Marx, her best friends, her first boyfriend, and some dinosaurs, the MoH explores the giddy confusion, inevitable sadness, and sheer joy of growing up and falling in love.

Release Date: June 7, 2016

The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele

Synopsis: When Cedric, crowned prince of Caelum, and his fellow royal friends (including his betrothed, Kat) find themselves stranded in modern-day L.A. via a magical portal and an evil traitor named Malquin, all they want to do is get home to Caelum—soon. Then they meet Liv, a filmmaker foster girl who just wants to get out of the system and on with her life. As she and Cedric bond, they’ll discover that she’s more connected to his world than they ever could’ve imagined…and that finding home is no easy task…

Release Date: June 21st

As I Descended by Robin Talley

Synopsis: A GLBT retelling of Macbeth set in a contemporary Virginia boarding school.

Release Date: Summer 2016

Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia

Synopsis: Pitched as Gossip Girl meets House of Cards, the novel takes the form of an unpublished manuscript written by over-achiever Reshma Kapoor as she launches a Machiavellian campaign to reclaim her valedictorian status after being caught plagiarizing.

Release Date: August 2, 2016

Into White by Randi Pink

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Latoya Williams, who is black, attends a mostly white high school in the Bible Belt. In a moment of desperation, she prays for the power to change her race and wakes up white.

Release Date: September 13, 2016

Related Posts with Thumbnails