Review: I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

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Ed Kennedy has literally nothing going for him. He is 19, drives a taxi cab, lives in a ramshackle house with his dog the Doorman, and is hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey. In other words, he has no plans for his future. His life has been nothing but ordinary and he hasn’t done anything to make his situation better. Every day is the same in Ed’s life until he is witness to a bank robbery and helps to catch the culprit. Not long after, he mysteriously receives a playing card in the mail. The Ace of Diamonds with three addresses and times written on it. Each address leads Ed to someone’s home where he is prompted to help someone, to change their lives forever, or to simply do something for that person that makes them feel special. Will Ed live up to the expectations of the cards? Will he become the messenger?

Read the rest of my review at My Entertainment World

Top Ten Books on my TBR list!

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It’s Top Ten Tuesday again brought to us by The Broke and the Bookish. This week I am listing the Top Ten Books on my  TBR (to be read) list. Some of these books are new releases, some have been around for quite some time, and others  will be released this fall or winter!

TopTenTuesday

Top L-R

Allegiant by Veronica Roth, Asylum by Madeline Roux, The Beginning of Everything by Robin Schneider, The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth, and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.

Bottom L-R

Matched (trilogy) by Ally Condie, The Impossible Knife Of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (will be released January 2014), The House of Hades by Rick Riordan (will be released this Fall– hell yeah!), Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (another January 2014 release and sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.

I may have started reading Eleanor & Park last night… which is kind of cheating.

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Catherine Tate ain’t bovvered by that, so neither am I.

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That’s all for now! I can’t wait to see everyone else’s lists.

Interview with Bev Stout, Author of Secrets of the Realm

Bev contacted me a couple of weeks ago asking me if I was interesting in reading her Young Adult historical fiction debut, Secrets of the Realm. I jumped at the chance to read a novel about a 15 year old girl who has to pose as a boy and ends up as a cabin boy on a merchant’s ship. Bev was awesome to work with and I was very excited to get the chance to interview her and get her take on Secrets of the Realm.

Amanda: Tell us a little bit about yourself? Who is Bev Stout?
Bev: I am a wife, mother and grandmother.  While I have worked at IBM and also in a dental office, my favorite jobs always involved 61791_401394223313936_1715457053_nworking with children.  I taught piano for thirty-five years, have been a Girl Scout Leader, a Den Mother, and I now volunteer at a children’s outreach program.  I love feeding the ducks on the lake, taking our dog, Milly, for walks and spoiling our crazy cat, Jasmine.  I enjoy vacationing in Cambria on the California coast and anything that has to do with nature and family.  Almost forgot, I play tennis at least twice a week even if the temperature is in the triple digits.

Amanda: How would you describe Annie, the main character in Secrets of the Realm to someone who has not read the book yet?
Bev: She is a fifteen year-old English girl who is spirited, highly intelligent, and often talks and acts on impulse, which gets her into trouble.  Annie knows what she wants, and nothing will stop her—not her small stature and not society’s norms. She is a survivor who sets out to overcome the cruel hand fate has dealt her.

Amanda:  Where did you get the inspiration to write this novel?
Bev: My motivation for writing Secrets of the Realm was to hand down something to my family . My inspiration was simply Annie. Her story was always a part of me.  I knew her birthplace. I knew her love for family. But when I actually sat down to write her story, I realized there was so much more to her.  The people from her past and her present were all a big part of who Annie is.

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Happy Roald Dahl Day!

 

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I was introduced to the wondrous worlds inside Roald Dahl’s books when I was in 2nd and 3rd grades when my teachers read them aloud to us during story time. My second grade teacher read us Charlie and the Chocolate Factory & my third grade teacher terrified us with The Witches and made us fall in love with The BFG.

Years have passed and I still remember clearly the wonder and excitement I felt as these stories made themselves a part of my life. Now as an adult, a copy of each of these books sit on my bookshelf. While I haven’t read them in a while they continue to bring me, and today’s children the same joy that they brought me.

Thank you Roald Dahl for your contribution to literature and most importantly to the lives of children and adults everywhere. I salute you.

 

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Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins is more than "Hogwarts for Juvies"

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Synopsis

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Review:

Hex Hall was recommended to me by a book seller at my local independent bookstore, The River’s End Bookstore.  She described it as “Hogwarts for Juvies.” And while that did sound interesting, it didn’t exactly make me jump to begin reading this book. However, I am glad that I bought/read it. Hex Hall was funny and light read that I read the majority of in one sitting.

The first thing that grabbed my attention when I began reading  was the witty and sarcastic narrative of the main character, Sophie Mercier. While she is gullible and quick to judge at times, I enjoyed reading from her point of view. She is a witch who knows so little about her powers, which is one of the reasons why she sticks out amongst the rest of the people who go to school at Hex Hall. I enjoyed reading from her point of view. Despite being one of the most hated people at her school (for reasons I will not spoil for you) Sophie was a likeable and compassionate character.

Jenna, Sophie’s roommate was easily one of the best characters in Hex Hall. She is the only vampire in a school full of witches/warlocks, faeries, & shape shifters, making her singled out and picked on more than anyone else in the school. She is also a lesbian. I love how Rachel Hawkins made one of the most interesting characters in her book a lesbian without making a huge deal about it. She told Sophie about her sexual orientation and it was simply accepted and not made the main focus in the book, which is awesome to see in YA.  She and Sophie have a realistic friendship that is natural and sometimes strained.

The description of the school, it’s ghosts, and it’s unpredictable and unique students kept me wanting to read Hex Hall. The idea of a secret society called “The Eye” hunting Prodigium (what witches, warlocks, shape shifters, faeries, and vampires call themselves in this series) was intriguing and is something that I hope to read and learn more about in the upcoming book.

Hex Hall was a fun read that kept me on my toes! It had the right amount of mystery, suspense, and great characters with interesting stories (not to mention a lot of awesome supernatural elements). I hope to be picking up the second book in this series, Demonglass very soon!

I highly recommend this book to teens and adults that like to read books about the paranormal and supernatural.

5/5 Stars!

Find Hex Hall Online:

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

And of course, support your local independent bookstores and check and see if they have it there!!!

 

Find Rachel Hawkins Online:

Her Blog!

 

Exciting News!

I have some awesome news for you all.

I am now a Staff Writer at My Entertainment World. I will be reviewing and talking about books there twice a week.

 

But never fear, I have big plans for this blog as well! There will still be interviews, reviews, vlogs posted as often as I can (at least 1-2 posts per week, hopefully more!)

 

& I may have some other awesome news coming for you soon as well!

The Book Thief Movie Trailer

Speaking of books being turned into movies, I finally saw the trailer for The Book Thief today.
As many of you know, The Book Thief is one of my favorite books and since I heard it was being adapted for a film I have anxiously been awaiting the trailer. Well, ladies and gents, here it is.

My reaction: I was sobbing before the trailer was over, but in a good way. The novel is so beautiful and I feel that the trailer captures so much of the mood and tone of the novel, one of hope despite terrible circumstances.
However, I really hope that Death as a narrator/character is somehow incorporated into the film. That was one thing that really struck me while reading the novel and it is something that makes the story of The Book Thief so unique and memorable.

Of course the book will always be better than the film, but I can’t wait to see it and I hope that it is as wonderful as the trailer promises.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions! Let’s chat!

Top Ten Books I Would Love To See As A Movie/TV Show

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme: Top Ten Books I Would Love To See As A Movie/TV Show. I have read a million books that I think would make wonderful movies/ tv shows. Some of my choices might be a little unconventional, but I have my reasons 🙂

Here is my list of books that if I had my way, would be fantastically, wonderful, fabulous movies.

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Review: Secrets of the Realm is a wonderful sea-faring voyage

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Synopsis:

Blamed for her uncle’s death, fifteen-year-old Annie is on the run. Knowing the perils she will face on the streets of 18th century London, Annie disguises herself as a boy.

Her life changes course when she becomes Captain Hawke’s cabin boy. Not only must Annie work alongside the Realm’s motley crew of outcasts and gentlemen, she must also keep her superstitious shipmates from discovering she is a girl.Annie vows she will never leave the Realm, where dreams are chased, shattered lives can mend, and secrets are stowed like keepsakes in an old desk drawer.

But, when Annie’s past catches up with her, can she stay on the Realm? More importantly, will she have a choice?

Review:

It’s been a long time since a Middle Grade (MG) historical fiction has caught my interest. Secrets of the Realm by Bev Stout drew me in hook, line, and sinker and kept me interested and wanting more throughout the whole book. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect right off the bat with this one, I knew that it was historical fiction, but the title of the novel sounded somewhat mystical to me. While I was slightly surprised to see that it wasn’t, I wasn’t the least bit disappointed in the story. Secrets of the Realm is a gem of a book!

Anne/Andres is a wonderful character who you are rooting for from the beginning to the end.  I was constantly wondering if her crew mates were going to discover her secret— that the captain’s cabin boy is really a female in disguise. Annie was everything you could want in a young female protagonist. She was extremely independent and brave in an environment where many people thought women did not belong. It is easy for children and adults alike to connect with such a strong character.

The supporting characters in this book were equally as intriguing. I found Doc to be one of my favorites. While he had a sad story, he was kind to Annie and took on such a wonderful fatherly role. Captain Hawke was an interesting man of many secrets, some of which I would still like to find out. The rest of the crew ranged from hilarious and endearing to unpredictable and somewhat frightening. I couldn’t help but fall in love with them all as well as the story.

Secrets of the Realm was not only a wonderful, sea-faring voyage, but it was a rare look at a coming-of-age story.

5/5 Stars

Check out my interview with Bev Stout here

 

Find Secrets of the Realm Online:

Goodreads

Amazon

Audible

Find Bev Stout Online:

Twitter: @bev_stout

Facebook