Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Centennary Edition- Simple History- A Simple Guide to World War I by Daniel Turner

Simple History- A Simple Guide to World War I
The Centenary Edition 1914-2014
by Daniel Turner

Available Now
Paperback 54 pages
MG History

To buy links- Amazon/ Kindle/BN/Indiebound/

Goodreads- Jump into the muddy trenches of the World War I and discover the story of one of the bloodiest wars in history! 

On the way meet the soldiers and leaders of the conflict and explore the exciting weapons, tanks, planes & 
technology of battle. 

Illustrated in the popular minimalist style of today, young reader's imaginations will come to life. 

Simple history gives you the facts in a simple uncomplicated and eye catching way. 

Simple history is part of an ongoing series, what will be the next episode?


This isn't a book I typically read, but it's Middle Grade and the pictures were so tempting I just couldn't resist. As an American, my knowledge of the war- WWI- is limited to a chapter in a book in high school starting with when the USA entered the war. I never really knew why the other countries were fighting or what was going on, I just knew why we entered the war. But this short book gives a brief history of the complete war, starting with alliances and going  all through to the trenches and rats the size of cats to the bloodiest battles and the disgruntled winners. (If there really are winners in a war.) I learned a lot in this short book. It wasn't like reading- more like bullet points with information and pictures to illustrate.

I really recommend this to reluctant readers, to kids as an introduction to history, and to brush up on your history. I enjoyed it so much I think I might check out some of the other ones.

Find out more about Daniel Turner's other books at 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Available Now
Harper Teen
Hardback 358 pages
YA Dystopian
To Buy- Amazon/ Kindle/ Audio CD/ Audible/ BN/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads-  The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.


So as I read The Jewel a while back, I couldn't help but think about all the other dystopians I've read with girls in pretty dresses in hopeless situations trying to escape the powers that be. I wasn't wowed by this one like I thought I would be. Okay, yes, I was drawn to the cover. I still am. But Violet, she just wasn't the kind of girl I'd choose as the leader of a rebellion. She does take risks, a good trait to have for a leader, but they are selfish and she doesn't think about the consequences to anyone else. Every time she did something risky, I didn't worry about her, as a surrogate, she seemed protected. But I worried about the person she was with and if they would get caught. Anyone that she communicated with in any way was at risk. I just never warmed up to her. She seemed to be a nice girl, but she really wasn't nice so much as indifferent. If she had really cared about her friends, others, she would have acted instead of settling into the idyllic and pampered life she had going on. She wouldn't have kept so many secrets. And it cost her. But it cost others more.

I don't like the world. Women seem to have the power, but not really. It's pettiness and jealousy and all about who has more and the best. It makes women appear to be exactly what we have always been portrayed to be concerned more about how we look, what we have in terms of jewels, gardens, potential children, clothing, mansions all those things mean power. But. at the end of the day, it's the men that have the power to make the rules. At least, the women have to have the man's name behind them in order to make the rules. So it's nothing really new. Female slavery, female treachery and conniving, it all leads to a very unflattering picture of women in general with men stepping back to allow the women like cats to fight it out for themselves. I don't know what the outcome will be, but with the events at the end of the book I was shaking my head, disappointed, but not surprised by the turn of events given Violet's selfishness.

The idea is certainly new to me and horrific, girls are taken at a young age and sequestered from their family to be raised so that they can hone their "gifts" and talents and then go to be auctioned off in a room full of women, known from then on as a number only. Everything is done to make them lose their identity so that they become property, lose their sense of self. What happens to them after they give birth to the precious children is unknown. Each girl is treated differently by the woman that purchases her. Some are pampered, some are treated little better than slaves and none of them are allowed to talk to each other despite having grown up together. The cruelty is endless. Death is not uncommon as the women are cutthroat about having the child that will marry the next ruler. The sooner the child is born, the better. Science and deviousness mix into horrifying experiments until Violet and probably many of the girls fight for their lives.

While this wasn't the story for me, I am sure many readers will be intrigued by the story line. Surrogacy and slavery, power and loss of identity and a rebellion in the making. The writing is good and the topic is interesting, give it a try if you find that it is something you want to tackle. Don't be fooled by the cover, though. Much like the dresses, the homes, the makeup and jewels that the women that purchase girls like Violet have, the book cover is just window dressing. It's not telling you what's inside. Read it for yourself.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Binge- Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas

All of these are out now and can be found at your local indie bookstore. They can also be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and all the other on line retailers. I'm not going to post the links. You can probably type "T" in the search and it will bring THRONE OF GLASS up right away. Sarah J. Maas should be a household name, in my humble opinion. Like her addiction, Walt Disney.

I have to be honest, its been hard coming back from the world of Adarlan and Wendallyn. Of The Captain of the Guard, Chaol, who is so opposite of Celaena in his goodness, blind faith and loyalty and belief in his king that he can't see the truth staring him in the face. Of the world of Dorian, once chaser of women and carefree, but now with the weight of a dark secret and an even heavier burden, knowing he must live up to being a leader, but not quite there. Of magic, sweet, sweet, terrible, painful, glorious, powerful earth magic like nothing I've ever read before. And oh the painful, deep loss and grieving and loneliness of losing everyone and yourself and giving up all hope. Of letting that spark die.

I don't know that a fantasy book has ever made me cry like I did with this series, but not only can Sarah J. Maas elicit feelings of "well he got what was coming to him" and "God, she's a cold hearted bitch" or "what a spoiled child." She can also make you feel the heavy, heavy weight of grief without even writing the words. I didn't even realize that was what I was experiencing until the character finally voiced it. But Lordy did I feel it. A sense of gloom, darkness, no spark of life, no color as I read. I am so hooked!

I read THRONE OF GLASS when it came out. I might have even gotten it through NetGalley. But I have my own copy, actually signed and a signed copy of CROWN OF MIDNIGHT. I have met the awesome Sarah J. Maas in the beautiful town of Asheville at the coolest Indie bookstore called Malaprops. (Several awesome authors call that bookstore home away from home.) But, as the rest of the books were released, although I bought them, I didn't make time to read them. So with only THRONE OF GLASS and THE ASSASSIN AND THE EMPIRE under my belt, I spent my birthday weekend in Celaena's world. I was in heaven!! It's so great to give yourself permission to read anything you want and then read with abandon.

My life has been in chaos for the past few months but sinking into fantasy, what a huge relief. It was like a vacation, so wonderful, and to share it with these characters, yes!! So ummm, what can I say that hasn't already been said?? If I wasn't a fan of fantasy, this would make me one. If I didn't have a favorite female character, Celaena would be her. It's not just that she is bad ass, God to have an ounce of her bad assery!!! But she is more than that. A refugee without a country. A woman without her true love. A tragic fate without the will to fight it. A girl wounded, almost broken looking for vengeance for her love. A child without parents. It makes for a mass of emotions swirling in a dangerous woman who, though she controls them well, is always on the verge of slipping. And is more scared of losing control than dying even. All of that and she serves the king that brought all of this down on her.

When I met Sarah J. Maas in Asheville, she said that THRONE OF GLASS was inspired by the music from Cinderella and she thought, what if Cinderella didn't lose her shoe but saved herself and became an assassin. I'd say she took that thought to a whole new level!!! Thank you, to writers like Mrs. Maas. I needed this book binge. I'm thinking about catching up on some other series I have but haven't even started. But this one, this one goes on the special shelf. Like Walt Disney's Cinderella, it is a masterpiece. If you follow Sarah's Tumblr blog she posts sporadically about music that inspires certain scenes and I love to read them and imagine the music as I re-read the chapters. Music is such an inspiration to me whether it's just getting through the next hour or getting me through the day. I love to read what music does for other people, how it speaks to them. I write to music. Maybe I'll find the score to Cinderella and it will inspire me. Whether it does or doesn't, I will think of Celaena who rose from the ashes of the castle. She didn't need a prince, she cast him aside. Cast the knight in shining armor aside. She saved herself. As the saying goes, "No one is coming." Except Celaena, and I'd say that the King and his knights should start running. Because Celaena may be pretty and like pretty things. She may fall in love and may cry at beautiful music and love to read, but she's a warrior and Celaena is coming. I can't wait!

THE STARKILLERS CYCLE SPACE OPERA (this is a collaborative effort with Susan Dennard (SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY SERIES) and is free on line for anyone to read. It is updated when the authors have a chance meaning, in between books tours and a life. It's an awesome opportunity to see more of their imaginations!)


Friday, October 3, 2014

Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardcover 416 pages
YA Historical/Paranormal
Free Preview- Here
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ BN/ Indiebound/ Book Depository

Goodreads-  A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.


I love witches. The Witch of Blackbird Pond remains one of my favorite childhood books. However, as an adult, I haven't found a lot of witch books that have lived up to my childhood favorite. Avery Roe and her tale is one of those stories. Avery is a strong minded girl, fighting her mother tooth and nail to return to her grandmother, the last Roe witch, so that she can learn how to use her magic. Avery's mother refuses to let her become the witch, declaring that she has ended the line. She has seen the life her mother lived and she doesn't want it for her daughter. But it's what Avery wants, she feels the magic crawling inside her, desperate to get out. And her mother is just as desperate to keep Avery with her, going so far as to marry a preacher, a wealthy one, and giving Avery a lady's education so that she can make a good match.

Then, Avery has her dream of being murdered and knows she only has a little time to become the Roe witch and change her fate, if that's even possible. She's a dream teller and she's never known anyone to change their fate, even when they tried. The islanders rely on the Roe witch for protection and safety. Love, happiness, wealth, fidelity, they believe that the Roe witches are responsible for it all. So, if a charm know how it goes. The thought that there will be no Roe witch after Avery's grandmother dies is something no one wants to entertain. Avery feels a deep need to take on the role of the Roe witch, fighting against her mother, hating her for keeping her from her rightful place and her grandmother. She feels her roots in the island and an obligation, a sense of duty to the island. That she can't fulfill the duty makes her feel like she's betraying her island. She is both taunted and revered. 

Tane is such a breath of fresh air on this island of sailors, whalers and widows. He comes from an island so far away it's taken years for him to sail to Prince Island. He and Avery make a striking pair, his magic is from a strange land and she cannot access hers. He seeks her out for her dream telling powers, but they both have something to learn from each other. Tane's patience with Avery is almost poetic, his willingness to help her more than brave. And Avery, in return was brave for Tane.

Yes, being the Roe witch takes sacrifice. Something no one ever told Avery. The lessons she learns one after another in quick succession barely allow her to catch her breath before she has to handle another seemingly insurmountable situation. Her life hangs in the balance many times. And Tane is there beside her. 

I highly recommend this novel! If you love historical novels this is a great one. But if you love witch stories, I think you'll really love this one. For me to place it next to The Witch of Blackbird Pond, it is an incredible story. I loved it! 

Thanks to Little Brown Books for Young Readers for an e-ARC through NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Find Kendall Kulper


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