Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review: Touching the Clouds by Bonnie Leon

Touching the Clouds
by Bonnie Leon

Genre: Inspirational Historical Fiction
Publisher: Revell
Cost: $9.99 (Kindle)

What I Liked:
First of all, the time period is my absolute favorite. I love Depression-era books. WWI and II books. Adore. I'm hopiong that the following books in this series will stay in this time period. I'm so glad to see that big publishers are taking chances on less familiar time periods. I hope to see more books in the early 20th century written about American history. That's definitely my favorite historical period. SO well done on that front, for certain sure.

Now, for the story. Amazing! I absolutely adored this hero. He reminded me a little of Michael Hosea from Redeeming Love in his rugged, backwoodsy, tender-hearted way. Kate, the heroine, was nothing like the heroine from RL, but for some reason, this book had that flavor. An excellent writing style, rich historical detail, a poignant love story with as difficult a path to its resolution as I could really tolerate. Both characters had such difficult pasts, and such hard presents, but not in a way that made the book unreadable. It's just not your typical fluffy historical romance book. This was a book that had to work hard for its hope, in a lot of ways.

But the writing was just so excellent. I found myself halfway through the book before I even knew what was happening. I can just imagine being the first editor to read this. Golden would have been my first thought. It's really an excellently crafted plot, the characters seem real to me, and I care about what happens to them. When I would put the book down, I was always looking forward to coming back to it. And I find myself, even now, wondering if I should re-read it before I get to RWA Nationals, just so I can read it again before I pass it along to someone else.

This is the first in a series of books, and like Jill Eileen Smith's Wives of David saga, I definitely have my opinions about whom I hope gets featured in upcoming books. I think I've become a Bonnie Leon fan for life. As long as her other books live up to this quality, she won't be rid of me anytime soon.

Book Blurb:
Kate Evans is an adventurous and independent young woman with a pioneering spirit. She pilots a mail-delivery plane in the forbidding Alaskan wilderness, the lone woman in a male profession. But even that seems easy compared to finding true love. She likes a fellow pilot and would even consider marrying him--if it weren't for Paul, a mysterious man on her mail route with a gentle spirit and a past to hide. Can Kate break through the walls Paul has put up around his heart? And will her quest for adventure be her demise? Book 1 in the Alaskan Skies series, Touching the Clouds will draw readers in with raw emotion and suspense, all against the stunning backdrop of the Alaskan wilds.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My Parallel Universe Post

http://www.thegalaxyexpress.net/2010/07/parallel-universe-respect-reader-lesson.html

SUREBLOOD by Susan Grant

Okay, so this isn't actually a review.  The truth is, I just don't have time.  Since I signed with Decadent, they now want the short story prequel to Sugar Rush too and I'm burning up the keyboard, besides getting four children ready for the new school year too.  I'm booked solid.
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Suffice it to see, I've read enough to know it rocks.  Pop over to Susan's website to link to several awesome reviews-  http://www.susangrant.com/  by other awesome reviewers and my fellow reviewers here are certainly welcome to pick up the ball. 
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Yeah, okay, back to work!
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P.S. Despite what the cover art might lead you to believe, SUREBLOOD is actually Science Fiction Romance.
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P.S.S. While you're at it, click over to her blog and check out this-

Saturday, July 24, 2010

HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS by J.K. Rowling

Review by Kimber, Jr.
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Countdown to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Month One-Book Two-Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K Rowling
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Next up we have the Chamber of Secrets, number two in the Harry Potter series! Here we go!
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The story opens to find Harry back with the Dursleys, who, as usual, are ignoring his birthday. What a life! What with the Dursleys telling him to pretend he doesn’t exist and Dudley bullying him at every turn, Harry is desperate to get back to Hogwarts.
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That’s when a strange thing happens. A house-elf named Dobby turns up in Harry’s bedroom! Between hitting himself over the head with Harry’s lamp, he tells Harry that there will be horrible things going on at Hogwarts and that Harry must not go back! Then, to prove his point, Dobby decides to drop a cake on a person whom Uncle Vernon had been trying to drive a deal with, thereby landing Harry in his room with bars on his window and no way to get to Hogwarts.
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Luckily, however, his friends haven’t forgotten (and neither have his enemies, either, but that’s irrelevant right now) him! One night, Harry happens to wake up to see Ron and the twins Fred and George hovering outside his window in a flying car! Not your typical school bus, maybe, but it does the trick, and they manage to get Harry out of there and to their own house, the Burrow. Needless to say, Mrs. Weasley isn’t happy that Ron and the twins borrowed the car, so some funniness ensues, topped off by Mr. Weasley interrogating Harry about the strange workings of Muggles.
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Then on the first day of school, things start going wrong from the time Harry and Ron step into King’s Cross, the railway station! First off, the gateway to Hogwarts Express seals itself so that Harry and Ron can’t get on! Then, when the boys decide to fly Mr. Weasley’s flying car to Hogwarts, it pretty much completely flops. I mean, sure, they get there, but some Muggles spot them, so they get in trouble. But more than that, when they land, they don’t land-they crash-land! Add to that they do it right into a very cranky tree called the Whomping Willow, and you can see why it’s not a good idea to fly a car to Hogwarts!
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Luckily, though, they don’t get expelled, so you can stop holding your breath. But other problems soon crop up! First off, you’ve got the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Lockhart. Not only is he a lousy teacher, he’s a lousy teacher who thinks he’s the awesomest teacher in the world just because he (supposedly) beat all kinds of Dark creatures.
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Then there’s two little first-years, Colin Creevey and Ginny Weasley. Ginny is Ron’s sister, and she is like, whoah about Harry. As in whoah. Colin is just generally in awe of Harry, and is always bugging Harry for a signed picture, which leads to some sticky situations involving a jealous Malfoy and a persistent Professor Lockhart.
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But then, at Halloween, a new and much bigger problem shows itself. While going back to their dormitory, Harry, Ron, and Hermione come upon a surprising sight: Filch’s cat Mrs. Norris, hanging as though dead, next to a threatening message about something called the Chamber of Secrets opening once more.
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Remember Dobby? Well, he’s not done with Harry yet! In the next Quidditch game, he tampers with a Bludger so that it follows Harry, and only Harry, around. The end result? Harry ends up in the hospital wing with a boneless arm! The moral of this particular dilemma? 1): never let Professor Lockhart try and fix your arm, or it will definitely and literally flop, and 2): try to stay on Dobby’s bad side, or else he’ll try to save your life, which can result in broken-or completely gone, if you decide to ignore my advice about Professor Lockhart-bones! Oh, yeah, and I’m not telling who won. Once again, it’s waaaay too obvious!
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That’s when Harry finds that poor Colin has been Petrified, just like Mrs. Norris! What’s doing this? Who’s to blame? Has it happened before? These are the questions Harry, Ron, and Hermione are determined to find the answers to. So they brew up a batch of Polyjuice Potion, a potion that will temporarily give them the appearance of another, and go interrogate Malfoy as Slytherins. Well, at least Harry and Ron do. Hermione accidentally uses a cat hair instead of a Slytherin’s, and for a while she’s stuck in the hospital wing with a cat’s face and tail!
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Soon after, Harry, Ron, and Hermione join a dueling club, where, in a duel between Harry and Malfoy, a snake crops up, and we all figure out that Harry is what’s called a Parselmouth-in other words, he can talk to snakes! This doesn’t do much good for his reputation, however, as, for one; Lord Voldemort is also a Parselmouth! Yipes!
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Soon after this, Harry discovers a diary, thrown away by someone in the girls’s bathroom. It’s dated fifty years ago, when the Chamber of Secrets was last opened! The only problem is nothing appears to be written in it! But then Harry discovers that if you write in it, a guy named Tom Riddle writes back! He tells Harry that the last time the Chamber was opened, a girl died!
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But before Harry, Ron, and Hermione can figure out where the Chamber is, Hermione is Petrified! Yeah, you heard me right. Hermione is Petrified!!!!
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However, with a little help from Hermione’s research, Harry and Ron figure it out: the monster in the Chamber is a Basilisk. Harry been hearing it through the walls because he’s a Parselmouth, and the Basilisk is basically a big serpent, that’s been using the plumbing to get around! It kills by looking people in the eye, but no one’s looked it in the eye, so no one’s dead! And the girl that died last time it was set free is still at Hogwarts-the ghost-in-the-bathroom, Moaning Myrtle! And the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets? It’s in her bathroom!
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That’s when Ginny is taken into the Chamber, and Harry and Ron decide to go get her, with the (unwilling) help of Professor Lockhart, who ends up at the wrong end of Ron’s malfunctioning wand and has his memory wiped! Ooops.
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So Harry (Ron is trapped behind a rockfall when Professor Lockhart accidentally wipes his own mind and sets it off) reaches the heart of the Chamber of Secrets, only to find Ginny, unconscious, and almost dead.
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Then he meets Tom Riddle, and finds out he’s the one who opened the Chamber of Secrets and set it on all those people fifty years ago! He’s the one who’s been possessing poor Ginny all this time, making her set the basilisk on the people and Mrs. Norris! He’s the one who grew up to become………..LORD VOLDEMORT!!!!!!!!!!!
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Yeah. Really.
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Not to mention he’s a Parselmouth, too, so he summons the basilisk to try and kill Harry. But before he can, two things come to help Harry-Dumbledore’s pet phoenix, Fawkes, and the Sorting Hat! Not much against a basilisk, you say? Think again! With Fawkes’s help, he kills the basilisk with Godric Gryffindor’s legendary sword, pulled out of the depth of the Sorting Hat. Then, with a fang pulled out of its mouth, he stabs Tom Riddle’s diary, thereby getting rid of the teenage-Voldemort and saving Ginny’s life.
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Then, with Fawkes’s help, he gets everyone out of there and gives the sword to Dumbledore.
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And yes, he survives. What’d you expect? “Oh, yeah, Harry’s dead, uhmm, so there’s no more books.” Well, sorry, but not by a long shot! Everyone’s fine, and they go home from Hogwarts safe and in one piece.
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For now!
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So that’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for you! Next month we’ve got two again, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. After that, though, it’s back to one book a month until we get to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! But until next month, see you later!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review: Shades of Morning by Marlo Schalesky

Shades of Morning
by Marlo Schalesky

Genre: Contemporary Inspirational Romance
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Cost: $10.07 on Amazon

What I Liked:
The main characeter (heroine) in this book was really well-written. In fact, from the first page of her voice, I thought, this is going to be a great book, and I wasn't disappointed. The woman that Marlo Schalesky creates to anchor her novel in is a sweet but jaded woman, wounded by life, haunted by her past, and trying desperately to ignore the call of her own heart.

But she faces (and has faced) real struggles. This isn't some soft, emotional book with no real-life resonance. It's full of poignancy and heartbreak, as much as it is full of hope and love. It shows the hard side of life, and the hopeful side of regrets. I really enjoyed the writing, I loved the hero, and I thought the young man who came into the heroine's life after the death of her sister was absolutely riveting. All in all, this was a great book, and I look forward to reading more of Marlo Schalesky's work, if it's all like Shades of Morning.

Book Blurb:
Slips of paper, notes of regret. And a boy who sees through it all.

Marnie has her life just where she wants it. At least that’s what she tells herself – her past is hidden, her regrets locked tightly in a box on her shelf, and her bookstore and coffeeshop business is booming.

No one knows what she’s done, who she’s been. That is, until the man she once loved finds her again and brings startling news – she’s now the guardian of her 15-year-old nephew, a boy she never knew existed.

To make matters worse, when the boy arrives, she discovers he has Down syndrome. The past collides with the present, the box of regrets is exposed, and Marnie’s world shattered and rebuilt through the love of one special boy who makes all things new.
(from the author's website)

'Parallel Universe' Starts today at the Galaxy Express

http://www.thegalaxyexpress.net/
It runs all this week to coincide with the RWA National Convention.  I've contributed a post called 'Respect the Reader.'

Sunday, July 18, 2010

SUGAR RUSH Query Letter

For you aspiring authors out there, I know it really helped me to read examples-  http://opheliadawsonchronicles.blogspot.com/2010/07/sugar-rush-query-letter.html

Changes for Enduring Romance

Good morning, Blog Buddies!
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In case you haven't heard, I've signed an ePublishing contract for my YA Paranormal, SUGAR RUSH.
http://enduringromance.blogspot.com/2010/07/kimber-ans-sugar-rush-to-be-published.html
This necessitates change for Enduring Romance.
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I will no longer review books, but fear not!  I do have an Heiress to My Book Reviewing Throne, my daughter whom I refer to here as Kimber, Jr.  She will review Middle Grade and younger Young Adult novels.  Right now, she's working on the entire HARRY POTTER series, leading up to the release of the last movie, THE DEATHLY HOLLOWS.
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However, we could use another reviewer, if anyone's interested.  Just email me at kimberannebulaATyahooDOTcom
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I will remain as Moderator and occasionally post newsworthy stuff.
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Next Saturday, July 24th, I will post my final review, SUREBLOOD, by Susan Grant.  One of my first reviews was for Susan and I think it was THE STAR KING.  It was on my old, old Star Captains' Daughter blog, which I deleted though.  Anyway, I thought it was fitting to review one of hers last.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Book review...next time.

Today I was due to review Magic Study by Maria V Snyder. I haven't quite written the review yet. I've read the book twice already. I'm on my third re-read.

This week was a bit busy, and yesterday I was doing various bloggy bits on my own site. Today I had meant to finish the book on a train journey, but that didn't happen either. I want to finish the re-read so that the story is fresh in my mind.

I can say that I'm picking up more details on this re-read. I love it as much as the first, and I'm getting tense in all the right places. And sometimes a lot earlier because I know what happens next!

I do apologise for not putting this review up today. I had a busy day, and had to take time to create a blog post about the day's exciting events.

They weren't as exciting as Kimber An's latest news! Congratulations again on the acceptance of your book! Yay! You're going to be published!

I promise to have a review of Magic Study on 5th August.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kimber An's SUGAR RUSH to be Published by Decadent

Good afternoon, Blog Buds!  I mentioned I'd accepted a contract for SUGAR RUSH.  Well, I've been told it's okay to let you know its with Decadent Publishing.  I had three ePublishers offer, in fact.  Although Decadent is brand new (they debut August 1st), I felt most comfortable working with their editors and their contract.  Not all authors are the same, you know, and I made my choice based on my own unique life and lifestyle.
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http://www.decadentpublishing.com/
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I think the cover art is perfectly beautiful.  Adrian and Ophelia look even better than I imagined and having them both on the cover conveys the Romance element.  The barn owl who keeps watch over Ophelia made it on the cover too, which conveys the Paranormal element.  The cold Alaskan mountains provides you with the feeling of isolation vital to the plot.  I'll post the final cover when I get it.
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No release date yet.  This just happened and I know I still have TONS of work ahead of me.
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A big THANK YOU to all my Blog Buddies, published authors and readers alike, who've advised and encourage me over the past four years.  Also, a big THANK YOU to Decadent for taking a chance on me and bailing me out of Queryland.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review: Seaside Letters by Denise Hunter

Seaside Letters
by Denise Hunter

Genre: Contemporary Inspirational Romance
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Cost: $10.19

What I Liked:
This book was excellently written, and very engaging. Tucker is a sweet, kind beta hero who knows what he wants and isn't afraid to wait for it. This is the kind of man that a lot of women need, but may not be willing to engage with. Of course, he's also hot, so that helps a lot. And Sabrina has been hurt before, so she's not on the prowl for some alpha male who won't treat her right. She needs a man who will wait for her to be ready, and who will accept his love.

Very beautiful metaphor, since it is a Christian book. And not overdone on the Jesus-y front, which I appreciated. This is a book that will not disappoint, I think. I was a little skeptical, I'll admit, because I have read a couple of duds recently. But I was impressed by this book. It was well-written, the characters were engaging, the love story was beautiful, and there was a lot at stake. Plus, there's just something about Nantucket.

Thankfully, it appears that Denise Hunter has a whole series of Nantucket love stories, and one just came out last week. I look forward to reading more of her work. I love what I've seen so far.

Book Blurb
"Sabrina never intended to fall in love with Tucker McCabe, the man she serves coffee to every morning at a Nantucket cafe--especially since he's unwittingly tied to a past she deeply regrest. But she's fallen hard, though she's kept her feelings a secret.

"When Tucker learns Sabrina is the research assistant for a local mystery writer, he asks Sabrina to help him with a little sleuthing of his own... locating an elusive woman he's fallen for online.

"If Sabrina accepts the job, the'll be spending her evenings in close proximity to a man who can never be hers. If she turns him down, he'll hire someone else--and that would be a disaster. Because if someone else sifts through all those letters and finds the truth, Tucker will discover her secret...

"That the person he's trying to find is her." from the back of the book

Kimber An Accepts Publishing Contract

Good morning, Buds!  I've just accepted an ePublisher contract for SUGAR RUSH, my YA Paranormal Romance.  More details are forthcoming as I feel at liberty to discuss them.  Thanks to everyone for encouraging and helping me!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Household Management Posts at My Blog

Good morning, Blog Buddies!  I'm the mother of four children, two of whom I homeschool and one of whom is a baby, and the wife of an airline pilot with a changing schedule.  And I'm bracing for the new school year.  This requires a TON of research and careful planning on my part.  Topics will include feeding, housekeeping, planning homeschool lessons, kids and their chores, and putting together the Master Schedule.  Starting today, I'm posting about that and I thought you might find some of it helpful.  Today's Topic:  'I've Given Birth to a Pack of Ravenous Hyenas.'  I've switched to a new personal blog, so here's the new one-
http://kimberansblog.blogspot.com/
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If you're an author or an author's associate with a book to send or recommend, please let me know.  However, I may not have time to review it.  I may pass it on to a fellow reviewer, but I'll at least showcase it with cover art and blurb. 
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Everybody, if you have tips, please feel free to comment!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE by J.K. Rowling

Reviewed by Kimber, Jr., Heiress to Kimber An's Book Reviewing Throne.
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Countdown to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!-Month One-Book One-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling

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Yeah, I know, it’s only July and the movie isn’t out until November, but this is going to be cool. What’s going to happen is I’m going to review one or two of the Harry Potter books each month, and I’m going to coordinate it so that my review of the Deathly Hallows happens in November, right before the movie comes out! Right now I’m gonna start at the very beginning, with the Sorcerer’s Stone. Then there’ll be the Chamber of Secrets later this month, and in August there’ll be the Prisoner of Azkaban and the Goblet of Fire, and so on until we reach the Deathly Hallows! So, with no further ado, here’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling!
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The story starts in a quiet street somewhere in Britain, with a wizard called Professor Dumbledore. Soon he is joined by a witch called Professor McGonagall, a rather large guy named Hagrid, and a small boy named Harry Potter, who is, as of that night, an orphan, his parents killed by the dread villain Lord Voldemort! The strange group then leaves Harry on his Muggle (that’s non-magic people, by the way) relatives.
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Almost eleven years later, we find Harry living with the Dursleys-his horrible Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, and spoiled cousin Dudley. He isn’t in the comfiest of predicaments, that’s for sure!
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One interesting incident that doesn’t much affect the story line of this (note: this) story is when Harry goes with the Dursleys to the zoo for Dudley’s birthday. There he meets a snake, and he accidentally sets it free! How? Well, let’s just say that he learns how he did it in this one. Why he did it is a whole other question, one that is answered in the Chamber of Secrets.
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Back on track, however. Just when life gets back to normal, a letter arrives. Uhhhhmm, excuse me, you’re probably thinking. Why’s a letter all of a sudden so important?
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Well, the thing is, Harry has never gotten a letter for him before! Unfortunately, however, Uncle Vernon steals it before Harry can open it! But the letters persist, and Uncle Vernon has had enough! He takes them to a little island, way out at sea, where he thinks they can never find them!
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Wrong! That very night (incidentally, it happens to be Harry’s eleventh birthday) a giant knocks on the door! Unfortunately, it turns out to be the kind of knock where you (accidentally, of course) knock in the door! Not pretty, but when you’re dealing with the likes of the Dursleys, it does the job.
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In any case, the giant turns out to be the very same giant named Hagrid who helped deliver Harry to the Dursleys! But before we find that out, he decides to drop the bomb: Harry’s a wizard! He also tells Harry how his parents died (the Dursleys just told him they died in a car accident) and that the letters had been about his acceptance into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the finest school of magic in Britain!
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The next day, Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley, home of all things magic! There he buys all his school stuff, including his holly-and-phoenix-tail-feather wand and Hedwig, his beautiful snowy owl. But just before that, Hagrid took out a small bundle from Gringotts, the wizard bank. What’s up with that, I wonder?
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Then, a bit later, on the first of September, he boards the Hogwarts Express on Platform nine and three-quarters! There he meets Mrs. Weasley, a kind but rather stern woman and her sons Percy, Fred, George, and Ron, who is also a first-year. He also meets his future best friend Hermione, clumsy but (eventually) heroic Neville, the twin’s friend Lee Jordan, and his arch-school-enemy Draco Malfoy and his henchmen Crabbe and Goyle! (His regular arch-enemy is, obviously, Lord Voldemort, but he has to deal with Malfoy a lot more often!)
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One boat ride across the Black Lake with Hagrid and the other first-years later, Harry is in the Great Hall waiting to be Sorted into his house. See, there’s four different Houses- Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Gryffindors are really brave, Slytherins are wily, Ravenclaws are brainy, and Hufflepuffs are hard workers. There’s this hat that decides which House you’re best suited for. Turns out Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all for Gryffindor, along with Neville. Malfoy? Easy. He’s in Slytherin, and so are Crabbe and Goyle.
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Lessons in magic come soon after that. Some of the subjects include Transfiguration, taught by none other than Professor McGonagall, Defense against the Dark Arts, taught by Professor Quirrell, and Potions, taught by Harry’s least favorite teacher and ex-Death Eater (maybe), Professor Snape.
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Then, some time later, Malfoy challenges Harry and Ron to a duel! Needless to say, it flops, and Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville end up coming face-to-face with a very bored and rather hungry three-headed dog named Fluffy.
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Yeah. Really.
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Anyway, that’s how Harry figured out where the little bundle Hagrid picked up from Gringotts went. That’s right: in a trapdoor guarded by a very bored and rather hungry three-headed dog named Fluffy.
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Then at Halloween, Hermione gets trapped in the girl’s bathroom by a very large and very scary mountain troll, and Harry and Ron have to save her. After that, she changes from her strict, rule-following self that thinks Harry and Ron are stupid to their best friend. Overnight.
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Yeah. Really.
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Then there’s Harry’s first Quidditch game-Gryffindor versus Slytherin. Quidditch is like this half-soccer, half-basketball game played on broomsticks. There’s four balls-one bright scarlet Quaffle, two hard iron Bludgers, and one little Golden Snitch. There’s seven players-a Keeper, who keeps the Quaffle from going in the goal hoops, three Chasers, who try to get the Quaffle through the rival team’s hoops, two Beaters, who try to keep the Bludgers away from their teammates, and a Seeker (Harry’s a Seeker) whose job is to catch the Golden Snitch. And no, I’m not telling who won, but I bet you can guess. It’s pretty obvious.
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Then Harry discovers this cool mirror called the Mirror of Erised that shows you the things you desire the most-in this case, it’s Harry’s parents! But then Dumbledore says that the Mirror is being moved to a new home. Where? And why? That’s what Harry is about to find out! To aid this, it seems, for Christmas Harry receives an Invisibility Cloak, inherited from his father! But who’s it from? Once again, I’m not telling because it’s waaay too obvious!
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Then, after learning about Dumbledore’s friend Nicolas Flamel and helping to release an ill-fated pet dragon of Hagrid’s, Harry, Hermione, Neville, and Malfoy end up in detention together. They, accompanied by Hagrid and his dog Fang, go into the Forbidden Forest. See, Hagrid found a dead unicorn, and another one is obviously hurt. They have to find it.
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Well, they do. Dead, and with a cloaked figure bending over it, drinking its blood! Yuck! Malfoy and Fang are with Harry at the time, and at the first sight of it promptly beat it, leaving Harry to face the thing!
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Luckily for Harry, a centaur named Firenze intervenes and chases off the thing! But guess what it was! No, really, guess. I’m not telling you. It’s waaaay too obvious!
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That’s when Harry overhears Professor Snape threatening poor Professor Quirrel. The kids think he’s going to try and steal the little bundle, which turns out to be the Sorcerer’s Stone, a magic stone that can turn anything into gold and makes the Elixir of Life, a potion that will make the drinker immortal! So the next thing you know, they’re play music to put Fluffy to sleep and use fire to defeat a Devil’s Snare.
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The next room is just too awesome! It’s a giant chess set, and they have to play across the room! Of course, they do, and they win, but in the process, Ron is taken and is knocked unconscious by the enemy Queen!
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The next room is an unconscious troll. It shows for sure that somebody has managed to get through to the Stone! So Harry and Hermione press on, until a room that requires only one to go on. Harry goes; Hermione has to get Ron and get help! So Harry continues alone, and when he reaches the room where he knows the stone is, he finds not Voldemort, but…..
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Professor Quirrell! He’s the one who’s let the bodiless Lord Voldemort take over his body! He’s the one who was plotting to take the Stone! He’s the one who very nearly kills Harry! Luckily, though, Harry is able to protect the Stone long enough for Dumbledore to get there and save his life. And it’s not for the last time, I can guarantee that! Oh, and as for the Mirror of Erised, it was moved there as the final and most difficult obstacle between anyone and the Sorcerer’s Stone!
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Harry’s fine, of course. What’d you expect me to say? “Uh, yeah, Voldemort managed to kill Harry, so yeah, there are no more books.” Not by a long shot! They’re all fine, in fact, except Professor Quirrell. He gets turned into dust just by touching Harry!
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So then its summer break, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione go back to their respective homes. But their time at Hogwarts isn’t over. Not by a long shot!
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So, that’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone! Next up I’m going to review Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. That’s going to be later this month, but I’m not saying when, so keep checking! Then we’ll have Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire-books number three and four, respectively, next month, then Order of the Phoenix-book five- in September, Half-Blood Prince-book six-in October, and finally Deathly Hallows –book seven-in November, so keep checking in until then! See you!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Review: The Prince's Royal Concubine by Lynn Raye Harris

The Prince's Royal Concubine
by Lynn Raye Harris

Genre: Series Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Presents
Price: $4.12

What I Liked:
Okay, somehow, I've been on a Harlequin kick lately. But I don't really mean to review this many HQs in a row. It's just that I've read two really great ones lately. The Jillian Hart book that I reviewed last week. And this one.

This book was... fantastic is the only word I can come up with. I've read enough marginal books from Harlequin that I'm always skeptical. I've never read a really bad book from Harlequin, so I know it'll always be at least a decent experience, but a lot of them are sort of forgettable--in my opinion, anyway. I will never, ever forget this book. I know that it was melodramatic. I always expect this, even when I write romance myself. (Haha! Real, though.) I knew it was probably not a story that really happened. Or would ever happen.

But it was smokin. Sm-ok-in. The girl was a very interesting character. The hero was hot and deep. And, my favorite, the wounded hero. Fantastic. I would give it five stars, but I didn't like the ending very much. It sort of fizzled after a fantastic 85% of the narrative. Still, it's going in my keeper pile. The ending wasn't bad. Just not very fulfilling. Still. The hero made it all worthwhile. And the love story was very engaging. A very good book. I'm gonna have to read more of these Presents books now. I had a bad taste in my mouth after the last two, but this one renewed my interest in this line. Would also like to read more of Lynn Raye Harris's writing. Very good.

Book Blurb:
Two glittering royal houses…

Prince Cristiano di SavarĂ© hunts his prey by ruthless means. Tonight’s pickings…Antonella Romanelli, crown princess of a rival country and part of a dynasty he has every reason to despise…

…one majestic seduction

Antonella is rocked by Cristiano’s unexpected magnetism. But there’s ice in his wolfish smile… She’s far from the promiscuous, spoiled socialite he believes her to be, but Cristiano is here to persuade her into compliance. If bedding her is what it takes, then it will make his mission all the more pleasurable…

DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES Film Rights Sold

For more details, pop over to  http://sfrcontests.blogspot.com/2010/07/hailing-on-all-frequencies.html

Saturday, July 3, 2010

HALF WAY HOME by Hugh Howey

Young Adult Science Fiction has two problems that I can see.  One, a lot of authors are clueless about how to get behind the eyes of real teenagers.  And, two, they still think girls got kooties.
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Hugh Howey doesn't have these problems.
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Porter's one of many 'babies.'  Programmed and educated from conception to be what someone else has decided they should be, they've been nourished and stimulated in artificial wombs almost into adulthood.  They were meant to be in those 'wombs' for thirty years, totally bypassing adolescence and parenting to become what is deemed truly worthwhile - adults.
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But, they're spaceship landed with an indecisive controller, 'Colony.' 
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About sixty survived and came out of their wombs cold, naked, hungry, and totally clueless, except for their programming.  The rest burned in an 'abort phase.'
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Porter was programmed to be the philosopher, which isn't considered that important.  With adolescent cluelessness rampant though, he quickly becomes integral.  He also forms a fast friendship with Tarsi, a girl who came out of her womb right next to him, and Kelvin.
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'Colony' orders them to begin working on a rocket, not taking into account that it's human nature to survive first.  They start work, but the business of surviving distracts.
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Not to mention there are girls, and the knowledge if they don't procreate they'll die out.
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'Colony' doesn't seem to notice or care about their longtime survival though.
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But, love and the human tendency to form families, even ones which don't involve sex, soon distracts them too.
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Porter loves both Tarsi and Kelvin.  In fact, he's a little bewildered to realize he loves Tarsi like a sister and Kelvin like...well...something else.  Tarsi loves Porter, you know, that way and Kelvin loves Tarsi.  Poor ol' Porter.
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Then, there's this big tractor-eating monster and vinnies, which are edible but gross Porter out.
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So, the teens are out surviving, falling in love, and forming families, you know, like humans do, but there are a few, the enforcers, who are determined that they toe 'Colony's line.  They run away from all that, but 'Colony' doesn't give up his little 'cult' so easily.
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I say 'cult' because the whole story reminds me of children raised in a cult, brainwashed into being a certain way, boys raised to be obedient laborers, girls raised to be sex slaves or whatever.  But, it's love which drives them away towards freedom, the desire for a true mate, the ability to imagine a better world.
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It also reminds me of LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding, but I like HALF WAY HOME better.  It's hopeful.  It exemplifies and celebrates human nature and the incredible ability of young people to create wonderful lives of their own...
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...in spite of adults.
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Pop over to the author's website to learn more-  http://www.hughhowey.com/

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Review: Darkscape Redemption by R. Garland Gray

January 2010, Medallion Press (Sourced through Gazelle Books)
Science Fiction Romance, paperback, review copy

Summary from Gazelle Books

In this science fiction romance that blends clan alliances, historical heritage, and a feudal government, Declan de Douglas has come to Planet Forest to negotiate a trade agreement with the treacherous Clan MacKendrick. Despite his training on Planet Mars under the Braemer Keep of Clan Douglas, Declan is not prepared for the peril ahead and ends up in the collared life of slavery. Fallon MacKendrick, princess of the MacKendrick clan, has fallen deeply in love with this forbidden savage despite the laws of her betrothal contract. When she later discovers that he has been kidnapped, she resolves to rescue the haunted man who touched her heart. But the destined lovers are doomed unless Declan's soul can accept the DNA synthesis that has altered his physical makeup. Princess Fallon holds his life in her hands -- the only woman with the power to save him from his captors and himself.



This is actually the second book in the Darkscape series. (No, I haven't read the first). The Princess has red hair! I've heard that this is a stereotype, but in truth I haven't come across many red-heads. She isn't a wall flower, and is eager to escape from her betrothed, who is a pig in so many ways. Annoyingly he crops up several times in the story, having me clutch my cushion at several times. Fallon can be stubborn, she is highly intelligent and knows what she wants in life. She actually clashes with Declan on several occasions because of her independent streak. However, if it weren't for that, she and Declan wouldn't be together.

Declan himself is a likeable character. He battles with himself throughout the book, because he isn't 100% human any more. He questions his past actions and, with the comments of other characters, doesn't always believe he is right for Fallen. Fallen thinks otherwise! In a lot of respects Declan is in the most danger in the book: both from his own body and the vile enemies he makes.

Fallon disagrees. She has had a privileged upbringing, but is willing to put that aside in the attempt to ditch her unwanted fiance and help save Declan. Declan is in enemy hands, leading Fallen to enter into establishments that no princess should be seen in. I liked her resolve: even though she knew she was going to be in danger, she went ahead with her plans. What makes Fallon even more likeable to me, is that she has psychic abilities. She spends much of the book hiding just how high a rating she is, to protect herself. But there comes a point when she has to confess to her skills, to try and save a disaster from happening.

Content wise, there is a lot of romance and other elements to do with dubious establishments, so I rate this book Sensual to Highly Sensual. There is a little bit of violence, but most of the content is of a sensual nature.

I loved reading this book, and I hope that further books will include both Declan and Fallon.  Definitely one to add to your collection!