Friday, November 8, 2019

Review and Interview: In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety by Krysten Lindsay Hager

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Krysten Lindsay Hager will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?

I was obsessed with reading when I was younger (still am actually), but I would take the edge off of a hard day at school by going up to my room and reading. I remember escaping into middle grade and YA books and how I’d feel less alone after seeing a character going through the same thing that I was dealing with. I always wanted to write a book other people could escape with when they were going through something. I love hearing from readers who tell me reading one of my books got them through something. A woman told my mother she took my book to her dialysis appointment to help her escape and that meant a lot to me.

Pretend your protagonist is at school and opens his/her locker – what will we see inside?

A makeup bag with lip stain, gloss, and blush in it. She’d also have her journal in there with a cute cover. She’d keep her cell phone in there between classes and some snacks. And because she’s like me, her locker would probably have empty Pepsi cans in it and photos pasted inside like I did. I used to have pics of celebrity guys I liked and Calvin Klein ads when I was her age.

What books were your favorite as a youth and why?

My Mother Was Never a Kid by Francine Pascal about a girl who bumps her head and goes back in time and winds up hanging out with her mom who is even more of a wild child than she ever thought of being. It’s funny and the kind of book you can’t put down. I’ve reread it several times. I met the author years ago at a writing conference in New York and I fangirled big time. I almost started to cry in front of her.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

I always wanted to be a writer of some sort. I wanted to write a book series like the ones I loved, but I also had an interest in screenwriting and journalism. For a long time I wanted to create my own TV show, too.

What superpower would you love to have? Why?
I want to be invisible so I can go wherever I want and observe people. I could slip in so many places and witness so much stuff that way.

What book is on your nightstand currently?

I’m reading 100 Days to Brave and one of the new Nancy Drew Diaries books. I unwind best with mysteries since I’m focused on figuring out who did it instead of letting my mind wander.

What reality show would you love to be on? Why?

Music City on CMT. I watched it for the first time this fall and it reminded me a bit of what Andrew and Cecily are going through being in the music world. Plus, it’s so much like the show Laguna Beach which I used to be obsessed with. I’m not sure I’d want to be on Laguna Beach though because that show was a little too much like my own high school. I remember talking to a guy who was a year above me and he said he couldn’t watch that show because it was so much like our old school!

Favorite TV show from your childhood?

The Simpsons was a favorite and I liked soap operas a lot. I was always into those adult cartoons and I still am. The Simpsons still cracks me up.

You’ve just won a million dollars and you’re not allowed to save any of it. What do you spend it on?

I would use it to start building my dream library! Then stock it with all my favorite books that went out of print years ago that aren’t easy to find in used bookstores.

Who was your teenaged crush? Why?

As a teenager I had a lot of crushes on football and basketball players like Daryl Johnston, Grant Hill, Troy Aikman, Jalen Rose, Toni Kukoc, and Deion Sanders. I used to like watching interviews with these guys and I didn’t start liking any of them until I saw them in an interview or on TV, so personality was always what got me to notice them first. My childhood crush was George Michael and I still liked him in my teen years, too.

Favorite class in high school. Why?

I would say sociology, my literature classes and journalism, too. If you asked high school me back then she would say I liked being in were the ones my friends were in that we could have fun in and pass notes.


Our review:

A quintessential contemporary young adult, this novel encapsulates all the real moments in time that our teens live through. I think, as adults, we forget sometimes how everything was the end of the world. How small things affected us as teens in big ways. And the big things? They flattened us.

Author Krysten Lindsay Hager really nails it on the head here. True, most teen girls aren’t dating a famous boy or looking forward to potentially being famous themselves, but that aside, our heroine goes through all the things a typical teen does: romantic angst, friendship issues, etc. I ached for her, especially when things with her BFF got rocky. Your friends are everything at that age, the ones you confide all your hopes, dreams, worries and misdeeds to. So, to have one treat you the way Lila does? It’s heartbreaking.

I really did feel for Cecily. She’s trying to do all the right things. She’s a good kid. She actually likes her folks, does her best in school, doesn’t really misbehave. She’s trying to do everything right and the world just keeps pulling the rug out from under her. While the drama was a bit overwhelming at times, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t actually happen that way IRL. It just means that there were times I had to step back from the book and take a breather before returning to see if Cecily got her HEA.

If you’re looking for a really real young adult book, you should grab a copy of this (or the first book in the series). They’re well written, realistic and solid stories for the generation. 4 Stars.


Cecily feels like she has it all: great best friends, the beginnings of a career as a model/actress, and she’s dating her favorite singer, Andrew Holiday. Then Cecily’s best friend Lila begins to ditch her every time Lila’s boyfriend calls. Cecily feels lost, but she and Andrew begin connecting more and she’s never been in a relationship where she felt so understood. Andrew even begins to confide in her about his anxiety. Soon Cecily experiences her own anxiety on a magazine photo shoot, but she manages to impress the magazine staff. Just when it seems like all her dreams are coming true, everything comes crashing down when a photo of Andrew with another girl appears online. He swears nothing happened, but Cecily is crushed. She feels like she’s lost two of the people closest to her.

Was her perfect relationship real or was she in over her head?

Read an Excerpt

“Good luck at the photo shoot tomorrow,” he said. “You’ll be great.”

I stared out the window on the ride back to the hotel taking in all the sites. As I walked into the hotel I felt a new air of confidence. Instead of just reading about someone going out with a pop star to some fabulous rooftop hotel restaurant and being in the big city, I was living it. This was my life and not some YA book heroine’s. Tomorrow I was off on a modeling shoot. I was living a dream and proving how I was ready for a big life. This was my destiny. I could do this.


My alarm went off and at the same time an alarm went off in my brain saying, no, I could not do this. What was I thinking? Me, model? That’s where people take photos of you for the sole purpose of other people looking at them, which encouraged judgement and evil comments. People don’t just keep those comments to themselves anymore. Oh no, they grab their phone or laptop or whatever device helps them spew out unhelpful and cruel comments on people’s appearances online for all the world to see.

My stomach felt like spewing all over the nice hotel sheets I was wrapped in. Why did I ever think I was up for this? Those strangers online would destroy me within seconds. Girls like Harlow who were born with an undeniable beauty could do stuff like this and even then, I had seen strangers criticize her online when she posted selfies.

Being anxious always made all my senses go nuts. I ate two slices of toast and then my stomach did a weird flipping thing. Oh no, not today. Looking over at the clock I realized it was almost time for us to leave. Come on, stomach. You’re fine. Just relax and…nope, time to hit the bathroom. Why can’t I just be a big girl and go to this stupid shoot which most girls would kill to do without my stomach freaking out?

About the Author:
Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends...Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy, and Can Dreams Come True. True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for childen/teens. Competing with the Star is a Readers' Favorite Book Award Finalist. Landry in Like is a Literary Classics Gold Medal recipient.

Krysten's work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on Living Dayton.

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Book One:

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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Fear Justice by C.C. Bolick

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Seventeen-year-old Rena Mason counts the days until she can leave for college. Every night her father drinks himself to sleep, leaving her to care for her younger brother. When her father is kidnapped by terrorists, her dreams of freedom become a nightmare.

Stunned that her father has a history with these terrorists, Rena knows she must run or be their next victim. She learns the tough guy at school has a reason to look after her - he's working for a government agency with the same goal as the terrorists: find a woman who disappeared eighteen years ago. Time is running out since only this woman's special gift can save the world from a looming nuclear attack.

Rena can't trust anyone, especially not the stone-cold agent she's falling for. Can they save the world before Rena's feelings trap her in an agent's fight for justice?

Fear Justice contains elements of fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal, with a clean romance. It's the first book in an exciting new series called The Fear Chronicles.

Read an Excerpt

Tony cleared his throat. “You said your dad was kidnapped?”

“Last night. Coach and my dad were friends. They joined the Army together.” Why was I babbling? Tony didn’t need to know my life story. “I showed up this morning because I thought he might know why these people were after my dad.”

“Did either of them tell you?”

I shook my head and looked at Tony. “The man who beat up Coach Andrews—he said he’d give me a head start before hunting me down.”

Again, Tony glanced in the mirror. “He didn’t happen to say he drives a black Lincoln, did he?”

As I spun in the seat and leaned over the headrest to see, the belt cut into my neck. Behind us, a black car crept closer with every second. Someone in the passenger seat leaned out of the window with a gun. “There’s a man with a gun following us and I’m not freaking out. At least, I don’t think I am.”

“No, you’re cool.”

With a bitter laugh, I turned back around and dropped down on the red vinyl seat. “Cool? When are you going to ask why I’m not afraid?”

Tony hit the brakes and made a turn that left me choking from the belt’s grip. “Right after you ask why I picked you up.”

About the Author:C.C. Bolick grew up in south Alabama, where she’s happy to still reside. She’s an engineer by day and a writer by night—too bad she could never do one without the other.

Camping, fishing… she loves the outdoors and the warm Alabama weather. For years she thought up stories to write and finally started putting them on paper back in 2006. If you hear her talking with no one to answer, don’t think she’s crazy. Since talking through her stories works best, a library is her worst place to write… even though it’s her favorite!

C.C. loves to mix sci-fi and paranormal—throw in a little romance and adventure and you’ve got her kind of story. She’s written nine books including the Leftover Girl series, The Agency series, and The Fear Chronicles.

The Book is on sale for $0.99 during the tour.

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Monday, October 21, 2019

Thea Reeves and the Tear of the Morning by Dmitriy Kushnir

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Dmitriy Kushnir will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?

I wanted to write a book series that would draw my daughter in. Since my daughter is a teenager, juvenile fiction was the best way to go from my perspective. Before I published the first book of Thea Reeves series, I gave it to my daughter to read as a trial ... she loved it!, so I decided to proceed with the series. I find family to be the best critics, family tends to never hold anything back when it comes to criticism.

Pretend your protagonist is at school and opens his/her locker – what will we see inside?

Since my protagonist is not really interested in school or the other students that go there, there would be only necessities in her locker like books and miscellaneous school supplies. There would definitely be nothing personal in her locker, since the school is not the place Thea wants to be.

What books were your favorite as a youth and why?

To this day I remember reading Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. It was really the book that drew me into the world of science fiction. Later on, in my early twenties, it was Dan Brown with his books (although I found his books to be very predictable and always following the same "route").

Hunger Games or Twilight? Why?

Hunger Games, no question about it, since it is something that could actually happen and is based in part on reality. I found Twilight to be a modern fairy tale, where a princess is rescued by her prince. Hunger Games is something that is full of connections to the real world e.g. the enslavement of the human race. Hunger Games always hints to the Flat Earth theory, the One World Government theory and some others.

What reality show would you love to be on? Why?

I'd probably get kicked off any reality show. But I'd love to be on a cooking reality show. It is fun to cook and even more fun to eat. I also like to cook with my daughter when I have the time and the opportunity presents itself. So any cooking reality show, I'd definitely sign up. Especially if it would be father/daughter tag team.

Favorite TV show from your childhood?

Fresh Prince of Bel Air ... I feel like I did not miss a single episode of that show. Although what was interesting and funny back in those days is dull and boring today. I tried to watch Fresh Prince a few weeks back on Netflix ... could not even finish episode 1. Times change, people tend to change with time as well.

Favorite hot beverage. Why?

Hot chocolate. It is chocolate, it is hot, and there are literally hundreds of different ways to prepare it. At first I wanted to say coffee, but there are definitely way more options with hot chocolate, than with coffee.

You’re stranded on a desert island—which character from your book do you want with you? Why?

I'll jump to book 4 (yes, spoiler) ... I'd love to have the spirit from the mine stranded on the desert island with me. One, I don't have to feed it or share food with it, so more for me. Two, I'd always have someone to have a conversation with. Three, even if I die on that desert island, I'd still have someone to talk to after death.

Favorite pizza toppings.

Nachos! I remember back in late 90s, Dominoes Pizza had a Mexican pizza and it was pretty much a Supreme Nacho Salad on top of a pizza. Like if Taco Bell and Dominoes decided to create a two-in-one. One of the top three pizza's I've ever had, the other two being Philly Cheese Steak pizza and Chicago deep dish.

Create an ice cream flavor. What’s it called?

Pancakes and Maple syrup. I think it would be a great ice cream flavor that incorporates pancakes and maple syrup ... if it's made properly. It would be a perfect dessert for all who love a traditional breakfast.

You’ve just won a million dollars and you’re not allowed to save any of it. What do you spend it on?

A better question would be "You've just found a million dollars", since winning a million dollars means you only get to spend about half of it (after taxes) to begin with. I'd spend it on building some small houses and use them as rental properties ... it would provide me a passive income for life.

Thea Reeves is an ordinary girl, from an ordinary family with financial troubles, living in a small town of Johnston. After she starts an after school job at The Magic Shop in order to help herself financially, her life becomes more extraordinary with every day.

Read an Excerpt

The girl took her eyes away from the pug and redirected all of her attention toward the raven, who sat just a few feet away from her. She talked softly, so no one, especially not even one of her neighbors or her parents would overhear. People these days may get the wrong idea from just a few misheard words, and the witch hunts and trials can begin again. Women have always been identified as the weaker sex throughout the centuries, and every time a woman spoke out or displayed any kind of strong character, she was met with oppression ... especially from the side of organized religion. Not long ago, Thea learned about Salem Witch Trials a few centuries back, and about how many ordinary women were tried by the church and by their neighbors and were executed. History tends to repeat itself.

I am no longer ordinary. Thea thought to herself, and immediately understood that no longer being ordinary could actually have a negative impact, rather than a positive one.

About the Author: Dmitriy Kushnir is a Sarasota, FL local and is a student of life. In his younger years, he had served in the military and received various degrees from multiple universities. One day, Dmitriy Kushnir realized that he had just too much to share with the world and began writing in the fields of philosophy, business, religion, history, fantasy and science fiction. To this day, he has written more than 40 books under various aliases.

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Friday, October 18, 2019

Gracie's Time by Christine Potter

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Christine Potter will be awarding a $30 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it? I write juvenile fiction because I am the world's oldest young adult. I taught high school English for years, and I have a theory that teachers actually become the age of their students after a while. My husband, a retired elementary music teacher, is a total eight-year-old. Me, I'm about sixteen. I get really happy and really sad like teenagers do. There's nothing, in fact, that I take more pleasure from than watching a group of teenagers get goofy with each other. It just makes me smile.

Pretend your protagonist is at school and opens his/her locker – what will we see inside? Gracie Ingraham is a time traveler from 1962, but she's doing a decent job of keeping that a secret and fitting in. She'd have a mirror for fixing her eyeliner hanging on the back of the locker door; her best friend in 2018 is a nerdy girl named Zoe who lives for the eyeliner wings, and Gracie's trying hard to master them. If it's not too cold a day, Gracie might have her vintage brown corduroy jacket in there, too. Good thing the group she's fallen in with is into collecting old vinyl and upcycling! It's a tidy, spare locker. Gracie's a badass, but she's quiet about it.

What books were your favorite as a youth and why? I liked anything to do with time travel—so A Wrinkle in Time, of course, and the Jack Finney books when I got a little older. Lord of the Rings, of course.

What’s your favorite sweet treat? God, I've never told anyone this before because it's a new thing for me. I love those shops that let you make your own frozen yogurt sundaes—but only if they have the weird little bubbles that pop in your mouth, like from bubble tea. I love mango fro-yo with raspberry pop-in-your-mouth bubbles. I want some now.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why? I wanted to be an archeologist because my parents' house was built on a plot of ground next to an old resort hotel that had burned down. You could find doorknobs and old silverware if you dug. It was amazing. Sadly, real archeology, I discovered, probably meant I'd have to excavate graves sometimes and that was the end of that. I became a teacher and a writer.

Favorite TV show from your childhood? I like to write time travel, which I guess counts as science fiction, but I don't really think of it as such. But as a kid, I LOVED the original Star Trek. I was a bookish, shy kid, and I had a crush on Mr. Spock.

Favorite hot beverage. Why? Latte. Foamy, delicious latte. It can keep you going for a while if you don't have time to eat. It wakes you up. It is pretty in a mug. It smells delicious. It is nectar!

Which of your characters would you most like to meet IRL? Why? I'd like to meet Bean, who is in all my books, although Gracie's Time really IS Gracie's time; Grace Ingraham is the main character. Bean is an awkward but gifted kid and she grows into a confident boho kind of grownup. I think she'd be fun to hang out with.

You’ve just won a million dollars and you’re not allowed to save any of it. What do you spend it on? A bunch of friends of mine and I run an internet radio station. It makes zero money and we all kick in to keep it going. If I suddenly got super-rich, I'd do over the studios and make it really plush. Either that or I'd buy a house in Nova Scotia and make it gorgeous. I love it there.

Playlist for your current book. Hah! It's a crazy mix. Gracie's from 1962, so she likes old-school folk (like Joan Baez) and The Tokens and rockabilly like Duane Eddy. But her travels crash her into folks who lived through the 70's and like the Grateful Dead—and her friends in 2018 are vinyl collectors who like Bowie and The Beatles, even though it's older music. Fleet Foxes get mentioned. And the soundtrack to Hamilton.

October, 1962

It's almost Halloween, but something a lot scarier than ghosts is on everyone's mind: nuclear war. After President Kennedy's speech to the nation about the Cuban Missile Crisis, Grace Ingraham overhears her parents' plans to keep her safe. She'll be sent off to live with a wealthy uncle—in the nineteenth century.

Gracie's from a family of Travelers, people who can escape into time. Too bad her mom and dad haven't Traveled since their honeymoon trip to the Lincoln Inauguration. So Grace will have to go alone—even though taking a wrong turn can have serious consequences: like heading for 1890, and ending up …in 2018.

Read an excerpt

I heard a snoring sound in the sky then, but it was only a plane. For a moment I thought about how terrible it would be if a nuclear war started right that minute, before I could escape to the past. Then I thought about Mom and Dad. I hoped they’d come get me from the 1890s if there weren’t a war. I didn’t want them to die. I didn’t want anyone to die. I really wanted there to be a future.

Mr. Mahoney and I walked past the train station and out onto the empty platform. He looked over his shoulder to be sure no one was around. “Are you ready?” He took my hands, squeezed them, and then he let go. “It’s the right time and place! Go on back, Gracie!”

At first, I thought nothing had happened, except then it wasn’t evening anymore. It was morning—and certainly not the 1890s. Nobody named Augustus introduced himself to me.

Dad always told me that if you get confused when you Travel, you should always look at what kind of lights there are in buildings and what clothing people have on to help place yourself. But what I saw only confused me more.

A freezing wind came off the river and cut right through my corduroy jacket. People in puffy grey and brown overcoats stood in clumps, staring at what I first thought were really tiny transistor radios. I learned that same day those things are called smart phones. I’d missed the 1890s by over a hundred years—and in the wrong direction.

A sleek, silvery train roared into the station from the north and everyone got on it but me. Bingo, the future! I’d just broken one of the biggest Rules there is.

About the Author:
Christine Potter lives in a very old, haunted house, not far from Sleepy Hollow. She’s the author of the time-traveling Bean Books series, on Evernight Teen: Time Runs Away With Her, In Her Own Time, What Time Is It There? and Gracie’s Time. She’s also a poet, with several books in print (the most recent is called Unforgetting). Christine loves all kinds of music, DJ’s, and plays dulcimer and guitar.
Evernight Teen:

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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Total Blueprint for World Domination by Jolene Stockman

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $75 Amazon/BN GC to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?

In Total Blueprint for World Domination, I wrote all the things I had wish I’d known sooner: that you don’t have to wait to be a grown up; you can write your book, plot your adventures, and take over the world – starting now! We all have so much more power than we know or appreciate. And if I can be a tiny part of helping people discover that? What total magic! Even though I write for young adults, I get amazing messages from parents who read my books and tell me they see their kids differently, and adults who change their lives because of what they read. How cool is that? I’m very, very grateful to be a writer in 2019!

What books were your favorite as a youth and why?

I was a weird kid (I still am!) I read Asterix books when I was four and The Neverending Story at eight. I loved the big words and intense themes. I recently read A Wrinkle In Time with my son – I would have loved that as a kid! Science, philosophy, empowered kids, world-changing words. The way books crack open space and time to show you a world bigger than yourself.

What would you write in a letter to your teen self?

I started writing this book as a teenager. I knew that when I grew-up I was going to write a book. So, I figured; why not start now and save myself some time? I wrote all the things I wish I’d known sooner. It still makes me laugh when I re-read the book now and see how much of the content I still need to know! That everything is possible, it’s okay to change your plans, it’s important to be happy, you can say no… All those bite-sized life jewels that kids should get alongside ABCs and broccoli!

Sum up your book for Twitter: 140 characters or less.

Design your dream world and make it happen!

Favorite class in high school. Why?

My favorite class in high school was Latin. Along with words that dance on the page (just, you know, the very foundation of science, law, language, art, and everything!) Latin class had violent and spectacular myths and legends, complex social and political structures, art, writing, and so many goodies that bring it all vividly to life. So much of the content of my Asterix books came together here, the gods and goddesses still gracing pop-culture thousands of years later. And better than all of that? We had Mrs. Hill; the most passionate, and completely on-her-path person I’d ever met. She spoke to us in Latin, wore Greek-inspired Jewellery, she showed us pictures of her actual trips to Italy. She loved and lived her passion with every cell, she glowed with it. And she encouraged us to treat our assignments the same way – jumping all in and bringing the stories and culture to life through our own art, construction, even cooking. I think teachers with absolute passion in any subject inspires the students they come into contact with. (Although, our gym teacher was super-intense, she never did fill me with a need to jump or run…! So, personal preferences definitely come into play!)

Total Blueprint for World Domination is a motivational non-fiction book for young adults. Design your dream world and make it happen! Bursting with full-color superheroes, boosted with online learning, the new edition of Total Blueprint for World Domination - illustrated takes you from this very second to your greatest dreams. So, are you ready?

About the Author:
Jolene Stockman is a multi-award winning author, speaker, and business owner. She is also tangata whaitakiwātanga; an autistic person. Since her adult diagnosis, she has gone public with her experience - its challenges and superpowers as a TEDx Talk Her books let you uncover your superpowers to design (and dominate!) your dream world.


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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Review: Escape from the Past: The Duke's Wrath by Annette Oppenlander

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Annette Oppenlander will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

"...will grip the reader's total attention from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for school and community library..." -Midwest Book Review

" entertaining and fast-paced read that guarantees to thrill any young reader's/gamer's wish to be a hero in faraway time." -Historical Novel Society

When nerd and gamer, Max Anderson, is lured into trying an experimental computer game, he doesn’t realize he's playing the ultimate history game, time-traveling into the past...anywhere...anytime. Survival is optional. To return home he must decipher the game's rules and complete its missions--if he lives long enough. Tofail means staying in the past--forever.

Now he’s trapped in medieval Germany, unprepared and clueless. It is the year 1471 and he quickly learns that being an outcast may cost him his head. Especially after rescuing a beautiful peasant girl from a deadly infection and thus provoking sinister wannabe Duke Ott. Overnight he is dragged into a hornets' nest of feuding lords who will stop at nothing to bring down the conjuring stranger in their midst

Read my Review

Enjoy a rollicking lesson in history? Then you should try Escape from the Past: The Duke's Wrath. From the start I was hooked on this story. Max keeps remarkably calm for a young boy thrust several hundred years in the past. I'm not sure I would be able to do the same. Of course, at first he's thinking it's still all just a video game, but eventually he realizes the error of his assumption... largely based, I think, on the smell of 1471! The stench and the horrible food (at least that "enjoyed" by the lower classes) were vividly described and incredibly off-putting (as they should have been). While I'm certainly no history buff, I have read extensively in the genre and it seemed quite accurately described, without much of the glamour many other historical books seem to use to make the past appear a lot more romantic than it actually was.

Max is clever, sneaky and so very brave. He does things several times that horrify his new friend from the time, Bero, but those are the very things that lead to his advancement in the time. At first, he just wants to get home, but eventually he resigns himself to living there and begins to make a very solid life for himself. It was quite interesting to watch the change in him, as well as in Bero and Bero's family.

I know we have to take an incredible leap of belief to honestly think a video game could be a time machine... but, heck, who'd have thought a DeLorean could be one? I had to suspend my belief other times, as well, because Max was very mature in ways most kids today are not. But without that ability, he likely would have been dead on the fifth page and then where would we be?

I really did enjoy this story. While certainly written for a youthful audience, I don't know why adults couldn't enjoy it as well. I did, and I'm many years out of my first decade. I'm absolutely looking forward to seeing more from this author, and from Max! Now that he knows what he's actually dealing with, things should get interesting...

4 stars from me!

Read an Excerpt

The guard ignored me and stared over my shoulder. I thought of my comment to Bero on how to speak up to the Lord. It had been easy to say. Bero would laugh at me now.

“What seems to be the matter?” a voice called from behind.

“My Lord.” The guard bowed his head. “We caught a suspicious intruder, a probable spy. We await your orders.”

“He came from yonder.” The second guard, who’d returned with a huge sour-looking youth, pointed in the general direction of Bornhagen.

“Then there is no better time than now, say I. Turn him ‘round.”

The guard shoved me to face the group. Not ten feet away towered one of the largest horses I’d ever seen. Its humungous head swung back and forth as if it were proud of the armored breast and nose shields. On top soared Knight Werner whose piercing blue eyes searched my face. For a moment, the world retracted into stillness. I felt my knees wobble.

Any second now they’d cut off my head. Hadn’t Bero said the Lord would kill me? Yet, the Lord of Hanstein neither showed anger, surprise nor fear. Nobody spoke as I stood pinned between the guards, their hands iron cuffs on my arms. I smelled them, their unwashed bodies and filthy hands. I wanted to leave the game. Return to the safety of my former life. Now! All I could do was suck air. My room might as well have been on the moon. Werner’s men waited, probably ready to charge on command.

“Your name is Nerds,” Werner finally said. The blue eyes were unsettling.

I stared up in surprise. “I’m Max.”

About the Author:
Annette Oppenlander is an award-winning writer, literary coach and educator. As a bestselling historical novelist, Oppenlander is known for her authentic characters and stories based on true events, coming alive in well-researched settings. Having lived in Germany the first half of her life and the second half in various parts in the U.S., Oppenlander inspires readers by illuminating story questions as relevant today as they were in the past.

Oppenlander’s bestselling true WWII story, Surviving the Fatherland, won multiple awards, including the 2017 U.S. National Indie Excellence Award. Her historical time-travel trilogy, Escape from the Past, takes readers to the German Middle Ages and the Wild West. Uniquely, Oppenlander weaves actual historical figures and events into her plots, giving readers a flavor of true history while enjoying a good story. Oppenlander shares her knowledge through writing workshops at colleges, libraries, festivals and schools. She also offers vivid presentations and author visits. The mother of fraternal twins and a son, she recently returned to her home, Solingen, Germany where she lives with her husband and old mutt, Mocha.


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Monday, August 26, 2019

Review: Taking Wing by Clemency Crow

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Clemency Crow will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Twelve-year-old Freya enjoys karate and is the only one in her class who’s trusted with a part-time job. But everything changes when she meets a boy with yellow eyes. She learns about the guardians, and how an age-old fight has prevented them from fulfilling their purpose.

Freya finds new friends in the Crow tribe, but not everything in the castle is blissful. A destructive shadow lies within her and all she needs to do to release it is close her eyes.

But as the guardians’ war rages on, Freya realises that, although the shadow’s power can be useful, it can’t create peace. To do that, Freya and her friends must solve the mysterious crime that began the war. Can they bring the guardians together before they destroy each other

My Review

Freya takes off on an adventure of a lifetime when she is attacked and then saved by a boy with yellow eyes. She discovers herself in another world--one of people who can transform themselves into birds (or, more correctly, birds who can transform themselves into people). She learns these bird clans have been tasked to be the guardians of humans, but for generations have been too busy fighting among themselves to do what they are supposed to be doing.

This is an exciting book - and would be even more so to kids middle-grade and a little older. There are many twists and turns as well as valuable lessons (all without being preachy). I loved the characters and the way they related to each other. It was good to see kids realizing that just because someone is different than you, does not mean they are less than or to be despised.

I'm looking forward to reading more of Freya and her friends' adventures.

Read an Excerpt

“You’re not used to it, Freya.” Winnie said. “We, each of us, have a soul. What you saw was simply an embodiment of your soul. They have been called many things over the years - conscience, spirit guides - almost every culture has a name for it. Only a handful of people, though, listen to them, and very few humans can summon them. I’ve never seen one summoned so quickly.”

“Can I trust it?” Freya could hear her voice shaking. “Is it good?”

“It isn’t good, or bad. No one person is entirely good, or bad.” Elialdor smiled. “But you can trust it for it cannot lie. But you must be careful - it’s motives are your deepest inner-most desires. Desires that even you don’t know you have. And you may be concerned to discover what they are.”

“I don’t think I ever want to close my eyes again,” she shuddered.

“It will help you defend yourself.” Winnie clasped Freya’s other hand. “It will guide you through learning your abilities - until you can command it as it now commands you.”

“And what happens if I can’t control it?”

There was a silence. Winnie looked at Elialdor, who stared back. Freya thought she could see a trickle of fear in their eyes.

“You’re a strong person, Freya,” the prince said at last, “you will control it.”

About the Author:
I can't remember when I wrote my first story. We had a word processor when I was very little. It was an archaic piece of technology with no mouse, which meant you had to know the codes for it to work. My sister, Judith, and I wrote several stories using this. I think one of my stories was about a mammoth, probably during my I-want-to-be-a-mammoth-when-I-grow-up stage.

When I was a bit older, during Year 3 at Primary School, another sister brought home several A5 grey jotters and gave one to Ginny and Judith to plan and write their stories in. Naturally, I wanted a notebook too, so I said I was writing a story called "The Rule of the Unicorns". I never finished that rather peculiar tale, but it meant I got one of those A5 grey jotters!

A good few years down the line and I'm a Primary Teacher in the tip-top north of Scotland. To encourage a love of reading in my pupils, I write a story with them in for their Christmas present. The first thing they do is flick through and try and find their name - but I hope they enjoy the story too!

When I'm not teaching, I love writing, working on my allotment and I'm crazy enough to be doing a Science degree at the same time.>

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