Okay, Harry Potter Fans, I Get It

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It seems crazy to try and write a standard review for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone because it is so well known. So, here is how my introduction to the Harry Potter series came about and my admission that it is definitely a worthy read.

For many years now, I’ve avoided the Harry Potter series. Not because I had anything against it, but because I won’t read wildly popular books/series. I’m not much of a follower. My son had read the books when they first came out, but neither daughter expressed much interest until it became a reading assignment for the Lil’ Diva.  As I was browsing the library shelves with her a few weeks ago, I discovered an audio version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. So, I figured, what the heck.

After listening to the entire book read by author and voice artist Jim Dale, it’s easy to see why the Harry Potter series took off like it did. Harry is this young orphan boy who is mistreated by the relatives he is forced to live with. He has no memories of his parents, who died when he was a baby; but he does have this nagging scar on his forehead and recollections of a green light.

When Harry finds out that he is a wizard, his entire life changes. Hogwarts is filled with people who admire the one who survived an attack by Lord Voldemort. Draco Malfoy, however, isn’t a big fan and provides some great conflict. With Hermoine Granger as the know-it-all, good girl and Ron Weasley as the dependable best friend, author J.K. Rowling creates a superb and diverse cast of characters for readers to enjoy.

I have to admit I am wholeheartedly looking forward to the next book. Once and for all: I get it!

Book Review: Escape Through The Wilderness by Gary Rodriguez

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Action, adventure and friendship fill the pages of this debut young adult offering by Gary Rodriguez.

Escape Through The Wilderness finds Savannah (Savi) Evans, Jade Chang, Rico Cruz, and Conner Swift in peril when a white-water rafting adventure at Camp Arrowhead separates them from their guide. When they finally pull themselves out of the water, the bruised, beaten, and lost teens must traverse twenty-five miles of wilderness to make it back to camp; complicated by the threat of Vexel, a vicious animal that Savi believes is stalking them.

This is one of those books that I could easily see as a movie. Action and adventure fill its pages, while the difficulty of four diverse teens trying to work together to get back to safety provides plenty of conflict. And let’s not forget about Vexel, whose pursuit of the teens as they traverse unfamiliar territory adds suspense.

Though not new to publishing, Rodriguez is new to the YA market. It seems a natural fit for him. His character development and plot will attract many. It would be great if he could find some way to turn this into a series: either keeping the same four teens and using their summer vacations to set them up for additional adventures, or using Camp Arrowhead as the place for new adventures by a different group of teens.

I would definitely recommend Escape Through The Wilderness if you like adventure, action, suspense, and stories surrounding legends.

For More Information

I received a free copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

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New Release: Super Bad by Kai Strand

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Super Bad (Super Villain Academy Book 3)

The world is in chaos. Violence and thievery reign. And with the supers still balanced, it’s only getting worse. Without good versus evil, the supers care less and less. In order to restore purpose, the world needs its super heroes and its super villains, but the one who balanced them in the first place is missing.

Sandra’s concern over finding her brother Jeff, isn’t her only problem. Her pathetic excuse for super powers has left her needing a new ankle. And though she’s still very much committed to her boyfriend, Source, she’s growing unreasonably attracted to Set, the boy who double-crossed Jeff by stealing his girlfriend.

When Sandra is taken and held as bait by some kids who want to unbalance the super world, it becomes the inciting event that changes things for supers everywhere and forces them to answer the question, “Hero or villain?”

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Whiskey Creek Press

Kai Strand writes fiction for kids and teens. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was an a061e-kai2bstrandEPIC eBook Finalist. King of Bad soared to the publisher’s #1 spot its second month. She is a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four kids. The most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, “Do your dishes!” Kai and her family hike, geocache and canoe in Central Oregon, where they call home.

Kai organized the free, themed, multi-author, short story blog, Lightning Quick Reads. She is available for personal appearances, workshops, and classroom or school visits. Feel free to contact her directly to discuss availability and request references.

Visit Kai online at www.kaistrand.com

Coming Soon!

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Check out Nikki Maxwell’s ninth diary in the #1 New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries series!

Nikki’s diary is up to the month of April, and springtime is sure to bring more wacky adventures with Nikki and her friends Chloe, Zoey, and Brandon!

whatever2The magical seventh installment in this NEW YORK TIMES bestselling series!

This time, the magic mirror sucks Abby and Jonah into the story of Beauty and the Beast. When Jonah angers the Beast by picking flowers from his garden, he becomes the Beast’s prisoner! Abby has to save her brother by finding Beauty, whom the Beast will surely fall in love with, right? NOPE. The Beast doesn’t like Beauty, so it’s up to Abby and her brother to match-make this reluctant pair and fix this fractured fairy tale before things get pretty ugly!

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The New York Times and USA Today bestselling series soars to even greater heights with a new prophecy and five new dragonets ready to claim their destiny!

Daring mission… or deadly mistake?

Winter has been a disappointment to his royal IceWing family his whole life. When his sister, Icicle, runs away from Jade Mountain Academy, fleeing terrible crimes and possibly planning to commit more, Winter knows that they both need a second chance to make things right — if only he can find her.

Winter’s new clawmates, Moon, Qibli, and Kinkajou, won’t let him make this dangerous journey alone. They don’t seem to understand that IceWings, the most superior of all dragon tribes, can fix their own problems. When their search leads the dragonets straight into Queen Scarlet’s vicious talons, Winter is grateful to have some help. But even the bravest dragons can’t follow him to the Ice Kingdom, where he’ll have to face the greatest threat of all: his own family.

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She’s grown accustomed to her brother, Peyton, being the focus of the family’s attention and, lately, concern. Peyton is handsome and charismatic, but seems bent on self-destruction. Now, after a drunk-driving accident that crippled a boy, Peyton’s serving some serious jail time, and Sydney is on her own, questioning her place in the family and the world.

Then she meets the Chatham family. Drawn into their warm, chaotic circle, Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time. There’s effervescent Layla, who constantly falls for the wrong guy, Rosie, who’s had her own fall from grace, and Mrs. Chatham, who even though ailing is the heart of the family. But it’s with older brother Mac—quiet, watchful, and protective—that Sydney finally feels seen, really seen, at last.

Saint Anything is Sarah Dessen’s deepest and most psychologically probing novel yet, telling an engrossing story of a girl discovering friendship, love, and herself.

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Jack and Annie are diving into danger when the magic tree house whisks them away to shark-infested waters in this NEW adventure in the New York Times bestselling Magic Tree House series!

It’s a dream vacation for Jack and Annie—or is it?

When Teddy, a young sorcerer, offers to send Jack and Annie on a dream vacation, they can’t wait to go. The brother-and-sister pair wish for a trip to a beach paradise, and the magic tree house whisks them off to the coast of Mexico. Everything starts out perfectly as they raft around a coral reef. But then a hungry shark attacks! And their dream vacation turns into a nightmare!

New Release: Something Like Grace by Anelise Farris

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Two sisters—Noah Blank and her younger sister Cali, both live in Middletown, Maryland with their parents. The story begins just as summer is starting, and the girls are ending school.

Noah has a dark secret.

Cali, who prefers to view life through the lens of her camera, neat and contained, documents the changes in her sister—hoping to bring help to Noah before it is too late.

In the midst of this, a stranger arrives in Middletown—a mysterious, young, vagabond—determined to help Cali overcome her fear of the world around her.

While Cali is learning to love, Noah is struggling just to live. This is a story of grace, of survival, and of the all-too-familiar struggles of an average, beautifully dysfunctional American family.

 

File Size: 500 KB
Print Length: 188 pages
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press (April 8, 2015)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00UPFP7UI

Purchase at Amazon!

Anelise Farris was born in the Deep South, and she continues to reside in the Lesser South area of Northern Virginia. Anelise is currently an Adjunct Professor of English at a few local colleges and a part-time bookseller at The Winchester Book Gallery. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in English from George Mason University with a concentration in Folklore, Mythology, and Literature, as well as a Masters from Mason in English Literature and a Graduate Certificate in Folklore Studies. Her research interests include children’s literature, folklore, horror and monster theory, disability studies, mythology, fantasy and science fiction, and major writers of Modernism, Existentialism, and the Beat Generation.

Anelise intends to begin working towards her PhD in English in the near future, but for now she satisfies her desire to be a student again by living vicariously through each of her students. Anelise lives with her husband and three beautiful children: a dog and a cat, Mulder and Scully respectively, and a kitten named Loki —all are aptly named, for the most part. When she is not teaching or being a student, she enjoys writing and reading (naturally), hiking, traveling (especially to literary sites), music of all kinds (playing and listening), and cooking vegetarian concoctions that she forces on her poor husband. Growing up in a family of eight and marrying a husband who grew up in a family of twelve, Anelise is continually inspired by the lives of people around her, the power of memory, and the quirkiness of daily life.

First Chapter Review: Escape Through The Wilderness by Gary Rodriguez

 

1st Chapter Review TC&TBC

BLURB:  Sixteen-year-old Savannah Evans walks with a slight limp thanks to a gymnastics’ accident that dashed her Olympic dreams, but didn’t stop her from attending an adventure camp in Idaho. At Camp Arrowhead, she quickly befriends Jade Chang and Rico Cruz, but Conner Swift taunts Savi because of her injury.

When the four are teamed together for an overnight white-water river rafting adventure, Savi refuses to get in the same raft with Conner. Unfortunately, the director will not reassign her.

A fun expedition down the river turns into a nightmare when their raft slams into a huge rock and their adult guide disappears down the river.

Without their guide and desperately trying to steer an out-of-control raft, they pass the “last chance” marker and enter the larger rapids. With Jade pinned between the raft and a rock, and Rico clinging to a lifeline, Savi must cut the raft free.

When the four drag themselves out of the river, they’re bruised, beaten, lost, and twenty-five miles from camp. Because of late-night campfire tales of Vexel, a vicious animal that roams the nearby woods, Savi and the others are terrified.

Savi becomes the unlikely leader who tries to guide the group back to Camp Arrowhead. Limited supplies, injuries, and the constant threat of Vexel—who Savi fears is stalking them, complicate the harrowing return trip.

Readers will enjoy dramatic survival scenes and the group working together, solving problems, and learning to overcome adversity.

Escape Through the Wilderness coverCOVER: I find this cover fascinating. The author has toured with this book before. I loved it then. I love it now. The dark colors with the glowing yellow eyes make it a tiny bit creepy, but it is a stunning cover.

FIRST CHAPTER: Savannah Evans, also called Savi, makes quick friends with Jade at Camp Arrowhead. Savi’s run in with Connor Swift doesn’t go quite as smoothly.

KEEP READING: I am on Chapter 12, so I’ll let you be the judge. :) The opening chapter mostly introduces the characters, but it also sets up the conflict that we will see later on. In addition, it actually opens with a news blurb about the disappearance of the four teens and then goes back in time two days to when they all met, so it’s a neat way to drop the reader right into the action, followed by a tiny bit of backstory. I look forward to more.

 

For More Information

I received this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

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Coming in April: One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart

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Something is not right with Nadia Cara. While spending a year in Florence, Italy, she’s become a thief. She has secrets. And when she tries to speak, the words seem far away. Nadia finds herself trapped by her own obsessions and following the trail of an elusive Italian boy whom only she has seen. Can Nadia be rescued or will she simply lose herself altogether? Set against the backdrop of a glimmering city, One Thing Stolen is an exploration of obsession, art, and a rare neurological disorder. It is a celebration of language, beauty, imagination, and the salvation of love.

5 5/8 x 8 1/8 in; 280 pp;
Hardcover
April 2015
ISBN 9781452128313

Beth Kephart is the award-winning author of books for both adults and young readers, includingGoing Over, You Are My Only, Small Damages, and Handling the Truth. She lives in Devon, Pennsylvania.