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AlexandrasAdventures

Alexandra's Adventures in Books

The real world is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

 

Just an occasional lurker here.  I won't post much blog content until/unless Booklikes institutes Privacy options.

Just Have To Laugh

Please excuse me while I laugh.  A certain BBA who ranted and raved about reviewers not liking her first self-pubbed effort, who chased them from site to site to site personally insulting them, published a second novel in March.

 

I just looked and it currently holds a 2.8 average on Amazon.  Most of the positive reviews look to me to be the Friends and Family type.

 

And while this author seems to have learned something - after being banned and blocked from various places - she still could not help herself from commenting on one of the negative reviews.

 

But still, I laugh.

Help a Friend's Dog?

Authored by Themis-Athena's Garden of Books:

 

I don't believe what vet's bills can be these days.  Sophie, the dog of friends of mine, had to have ACL surgery last week - and it cost over $4000.  There's a go fund me page for her here.

 

She hasn't had an easy life before this, either - they found her in a ditch on the side of I-40 between Durham and Chapel Hill, N.C., when she was just a puppy.  She had been beaten badly and left for dead.

 

I hate people who abandon puppies, kittens, dogs, and cats.

 

 

The Looking-Glass Portrait

Authored by Grimlock ♥ Inhumans:

 

 

Kindle exclusive, so available for Kindle Unlimited members, at Amazon now.

 

When Thomasina Ryder inherits her grandmother's house, she expects to quickly arrange for the sale of the estate. She soon learns the disposal of her legacy will be a more complicated process than she expected. And nothing could complicate matters more than the return into Thomasina's life of a forbidden love from the past.

The further she delves into the secrets of that past, the more she is made aware of something sinister and hidden, never to be spoken of even in whispers. She begins to suspect this secret is connected to the silent forms she has seen moving in the old house, from the corner of her eye or in the distorted reflection of a mirror. Then, as her investigations bear fruit, the shadows in the mirrors become more threatening.

Help a Friend's Dog?

Authored by SusannaG - Confessions of a Crazy Cat Lady:

 

I don't believe what vet's bills can be these days.  Sophie, the dog of friends of mine, had to have ACL surgery last week - and it cost over $4000.  There's a go fund me page for her here.

 

She hasn't had an easy life before this, either - they found her in a ditch on the side of I-40 between Durham and Chapel Hill, N.C., when she was just a puppy.  She had been beaten badly and left for dead.

 

I hate people who abandon puppies, kittens, dogs, and cats.

 

 

Review: Click Here To Start

Click Here to Start (A Novel) - Denis Markell

Ted barely knows his great-uncle when he visits the dying man in the hospital.

“I have a flashback for a movie I saw where a guy laid out like this had a monster burst out of his chest and jump on someone’s face.  I’m not saying I expect that to happen here, but hey, it does go through my mind.”

During the visit Ted’s great-uncle (who is also Ted), asks him about his love for computer games, and escape-the-room games in particular.  Turns out the younger Ted not only enjoys these games, but is very good at them.

“Wait. Is a real, live adult person actually asking me details about the games I play? This is unheard of.”

At the end of the visit Great-Uncle Ted gives Ted a strange message, insisting on a promise.

“THE BOX IS ONLY THE BEGINNING. KEEP LOOKING FOR THE ANSWERS. ALWAYS GO FOR BROKE! PROMISE ME!”

Ted doesn’t understand what all that is about, but as his great-uncle falls into exhausted sleep he gives his promise.

This sets Ted off on a path of mystery, suspense and puzzles.  Aided by his friend Caleb, and reluctantly by the daughter of his dad’s boss, Isabel, Ted sorts through the junk filled apartment his great-uncle left him in his will.  The will mentions treasure and that Ted is good at solving puzzles.  What will they find there?

The trio comes across numerous puzzles to solve throughout the story, and there’s mystery, suspense, humor and of course – villains.

The boys figure out Isabel isn’t just a snooty know-it-all, and Isabel finds the boys aren’t just dumb nerds, slowly developing friendship and mutual respect.

And along the way we learn a bit about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, including mention of the excellent book, “Farewell to Manzanar”, “The Maltese Falcon”, and the Nisei brigade – the Japanese American unit that served in World War II.  Don’t worry though, the book is pretty sneaky about hiding any educational value in all the fun and excitement.  Kids will never figure it out. I'm sure they won't.

Well, ok, they will, but they'll find it interesting, really, I promise.

As an adult reading this I found the kids, and our narrator Ted in particular, hilarious and quite charming. I lost track of the number of times I laughed out loud.  Even the parents are funny, in that grown up way of being funny because they think they’re funny when really they’re just lame.

I’d put this book in a similar category as “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”, but of course written for the current crop of young people to relate to and enjoy.

The kids’ voices are authentic and quite funny. The story is engaging, with puzzle after puzzle, each like a real life point and click computer game. I think both boys and girls who enjoy mysteries will like this one.

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

On Sale: Rosemary and Rue - Kindle version $1.99

Rosemary and Rue - Seanan McGuire

The Kindle version of Rosemary and Rue is on sale for $1.99.  Looks like it's a monthly deal, since the post I saw alerting me to this was posted July 4 and I found it's still on sale today.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Rosemary-Rue-Book-Toby-October-ebook/dp/B002N83HAW/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1468801755&sr=1-1&keywords=rosemary+and+rue

 

Surprise New Release! WORD, by E. Lorn.

Authored by Lornographic Material:
Word: A Collection - E. Lorn, Edward Lorn

SURPRISE!

THIS IS NOT A REVIEW. IT IS A NOTICE OF RELEASE AND SALE PRICE

So this is a thing that exists now. My newest collection,WORD, (this one is literary and not horror) is available this week only for $0.99 on Amazon.com:https://www.amazon.com/Word-Collectio...

If you're interested in a signed copy of the paperback, they're $25 with free shipping to the US. You can pre-order one here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr...

Pre-orders will only be available until July 1,2016. Paperback ships on August 18, 2016.

Thank you for your support.

E.

Review: Nightfall Gardens

Nightfall Gardens - Allen Houston

“Only later, when she was locked away at Nightfall Gardens, would Lily realize that the moment she saw the man with the wolf’s-head cloak was the beginning of the end of her old life.”

Fourteen year old Lily has dreams of being an actress on the famous stages of Paris.  Her brother Silas is writing a play.  Theirs is a family of the stage, their parents trying to make a go of a run-down theater in New Amsterdam.

Lily is a bit shallow and vain, Silas a bit of a dreamer, but as the story unfolds they both show they have more spunk and backbone than we might have thought.  I liked them both.  Silas especially is caring, empathetic and loyal.  Lily isn’t as superficial as she comes across in the beginning.  And they care about each other, which is nice.

This book starts out in New Amsterdam, which would be New York about 100 years prior to the Revolutionary War.  I had thought it had a bit of a Victorian era feel, with carriages, etc.  I was only off by a bit there. :D

Soon though the story moves on to Nightfall Gardens, the mysterious, spooky and exceedingly strange estate of the children’s dying grandmother.

Their uncle tells them, “I’ve done my duty keeping the dark at bay for 13 years, but it draws closer with each sip of Deiva’s faltering breath.  Only a Blackwood daughter can keep the final night from coming.”

We get our first view of the house, “The ancient-looking palace rose out of nowhere to dominate the landscape.  It was protected by a high stone wall that stretched to the horizon.  He saw a jumble of towers, spires, and walls of windows that soared toward the heavens.  Statues of gargoyles dominated the eaves.”

 



On the Blackwood estate it is always dusk or dark, never day.  The gates only open to the outside world once a year for just a few days.

The house is strange, rooms move around, there are strange noises and sights.   There are dangers for the unwary.  The grounds, with the gardens, are strange and dangerous as well, full of odd, and bloodthirsty creatures determined to end the Blackwood line.

There are some grisly bits, and it’s definitely spooky, but would be fine for middle grade readers who can tolerate dark tales.  Not for those sensitive, nightmare prone kiddies though. (Well, that depends too, I was one of those sensitive, nightmare prone kids and I would have liked it around the 8 – 12 age, but I would have been sleeping with the hall light on!)

But, I wouldn’t classify it as firmly middle grade, in spite of the ages of the main characters.  It’s more complex in story and in writing than is typical for middle grade books.  I’d recommend this from older middle grade to young adult readers, and even adult readers who can enjoy stories with young protagonists.  

The story incorporates the myth of Pandora in an ingenious way, making it family history rather than myth.  There are plants with magical properties such as healing or protection from evil creatures.  The use of Greek myths, folklore, and other strange creatures, was reminiscent of Harry Potter.  Although the plot is very imaginative and original and not anything like Harry Potter.  I was very impressed, I can’t remember reading a book with a similar plotline.

A dark fantasy, also may appeal to fans of ghost stories, haunted house tales, and dark fairy tales.  This is not a ghost story or fairy tale, but some of those elements are here.


Fair warning, the book does end with a cliffhanger.

 

The Kindle version is only $.99.


I’ve already purchased and started reading the next book in the series.

Reading Progress 53% - Nightfall Gardens

Nightfall Gardens - Allen Houston

I'm really enjoying this.  Unless it tanks I'll probably read the next one in the series.

 

There are some grisly bits, and it’s definitely spooky, but would be fine for middle grade readers who can tolerate dark tales.  I wouldn’t classify it as firmly middle grade, in spite of the ages of the main characters.  It’s more complex in story and in writing than is typical for middle grade books.  I’d recommend this from older middle grade to young adult readers, and even adult readers who can enjoy stories with young protagonists. 

 

A dark fantasy, also may appeal to fans of ghost stories, haunted house tales, and dark fairy tales.  This is not a ghost story, but some of those elements are here.

Review: The Possible Police

The Possible Police - Wylde Scott

When I was growing up my mother wouldn't allow me to say, "I can't".  She taught me an important lesson, that there was nothing I couldn't do if I wanted it bad enough and was willing to work hard enough to do it.

That there is no "can't", there is only "I won't" or "I don't want to".

This book empowers and affirms dreams of children to do even the impossible.  The rhymes and artwork are reminiscence of Dr. Seuss.  The message is clear, don't listen to the nay-sayers, dream big, and believe in yourself.  Presented in a fun, colorful and imaginative way.  This story is positive, cheerful and energetic.

I also love the fact that the story features a girl.  Even today, often in spite of our best efforts, some girls get the message there are things they cannot do.

 

If there's anyone in the picture book crew you get books for, get them this one.

'"We are the possible police.
We know everything.
And yet you still
imagine things
we have not thought
and have not seen.

How can this be?"

And I replied...
"If I dream,
and then believe,
nothing in the world
is impossible for me."'

Books...

Authored by Lora's Rants and Reviews :

Review: Behind the Bookcase

Behind the Bookcase - Mark Steensland, Kelly Murphy

Seriously, publishers really need to stop promoting books by relatively unknown authors by saying they are like very popular and/or classic and beloved books.  It’s almost always an unfair comparison that raises expectations to unrealistic levels.

This book is only like “Coraline” or “Alice in Wonderland” in the broadest sense of type – a fantasy story in which a child magically enters a fantasy world.

This does not at all mean it isn’t a good story, it is! It simply means I believe it should be allowed to be enjoyed and appreciated on its own merits, without expectations it will equal books that have reached top-of-the-class status.

Those who have seen my reading lists over the years have probably noticed that there are two kinds of books I am automatically drawn to, and will snatch up when I come across – time travel stories and kids who magically are transported to a fantasy world.  

“Behind the Bookcase” is a solid effort of the second type.  My childhood self would have grabbed this one, if it’d been around at the time, and would have enjoyed it.

Finding a secret passage to a magical, fantasy world in your house?  Absolutely a favorite premise of mine.

“Truth be told: the place looked creepy.  Sarah simply couldn’t believe that anyone she knew-let alone someone from her very own family-could have anything to do with such a house. Never in her life had she seen such a disaster.”

‘”Awesome!” Billy said, with a reverence that thoroughly annoyed his sister.   “What could be awesome about this?” “Look at it,” he said, “It’s like a haunted house.”’

It’s hard to say much without spoilers, but world we visit with Sarah is a highly imaginative and original one.  People there are certainly very strange.  Bathazar, Lefty, Jeb, B. B.  And imaginative places such as the Forest of Shadows and streams of moonlight rather than water.

And seriously, what are we teaching kids these days? If you suddenly find yourself in a world that is not ours, populated with strange people, please do keep in mind that while you may find friends and allies, you also may run into villains pretending to be friendly.

This story did several things that are relatively unique for the type.  One of which is the traveling back and forth from the “real” word several times, and other things I won’t mention because it’d be a bit of a spoiler.  But I really did enjoy this aspect.  It added to the adventure and the tension of the plot.

If you’re one who provides Middle Grade books to a young reader who enjoys fantasy, particularly those where an ordinary kid travels to a fantasy world, where things are a bit creepy and things can get tense, this is definitely one to put on their reading list.  If they’re like I was at that age they can go through them like candy, and are always on the lookout for another to read.

For parents:


The story touches upon a fantasy/fictional place where souls go to sleep after we die.  This of course isn’t reflective of any real religious beliefs.

Reading Progress 45% - Behind The Bookcase

Behind the Bookcase - Mark Steensland, Kelly Murphy

Another Middle Grade.  Liking it so far.  Always be suspicious of talking cats.

Review: Armstrong

Armstrong: A Mouse on the Moon - Torben Kuhlmann

* Review copy provided by Netgalley *

I knew there was a conspiracy about the moon landing.  I just knew it!

The story begins with a little mouse fascinated by views of the night sky, and the moon in particular, from his telescope.  He studiously made notes of his observations.

He excitedly informs the other mice, “The moon is a giant ball of stone!” and that, “The light from the sun is what makes the moon shine…”

The other mice are not impressed, however.  They are convinced the moon is made of cheese.  Of course they believe this myth, they’re mice, and mice love cheese.  They didn’t want to hear anything contrary to the wonderful idea of a whole moon of cheese.

I don’t want to spoil the story, so I won’t go through more of the plot, but our little hero mouse does make it to the moon eventually.  After some trials, and a bit of a nail-biter about some humans that are close to discovering him.

Along the way he makes a visit to the Smithsonian, where he finds there is a mouse-sized room.  “It looked just like the human museum above.  But these were mouse-flying machines.”

Mouse-flying machines? Who knew? I certainly had no idea!

We also learn that this little mouse and his trip to the moon might have had an impact on humans getting to the moon.  But of course that would be a closely held secret.

The art in this book is absolutely gorgeous.  The story is one that would either need to be read by an adult, or for independent readers a bit past typical picture book level.

A few years ago I reread "The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet" with a tutoring student of mine.  I realized then it’s unfortunately a bit dated.  Written before the first moon landing, at a time people were still dreaming about it, I had to explain to my student a bit of what that was like.

“Armstrong” is a good bridge between young people today growing up after the missions to the moon, and the excitement of the first moon landing.

At the end there is information regarding several pioneers in science that influenced and contributed to space flight.

This book is absolutely perfect – wonderful artwork, an interesting, engaging and adventurous story, and factual information at the back regarding the human endeavor to reach the moon.

I received a free, expiring, copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Currently Reading: Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon

Armstrong: A Mouse on the Moon - Torben Kuhlmann

The art in this book is rich and glorious.

Review: It's All Fun And Games

It's All Fun And Games - Dave Barrett

* Review copy provided by Netgalley *

From the time I discovered The Chronicles of Narnia as a kid I was drawn to stories about young people transported to a magical place.  Whenever I ran across a book with that premise I’d snatch it up and give it a try.

So, of course I had to read “It’s All Fun And Games”.

I’ve never done any live action or table top role playing, although I think it sounds fun and would have if I’d had the opportunity.  I’ve done my share of adventure gaming with computer games.

So the premise of this story really appealed to me.

I liked the use of a newbie, Allison, to whom the basic rules are explained, so a reader unfamiliar with this kind of gaming is giving the basics in a way that seems natural to the story.  I think enough information was given to inform the reader, but not so much it seemed artificial or dragged the story down.

As the story begins we’re introduced to TJ, the regular LARPer, and his friend Allison who he convinces, reluctantly, to join in a game one weekend.   The fact that TJ seems to have a bit of a crush on Allison and tempts her to come along with the information that a guy she has a crush on will be there was such a classic young person ploy it made me chuckle.

We’re soon introduced to the rest of TJ’s group, Chuck, Simon, Jimmy, and Stu, and we’re given the mission,

“Word has reached us that a mighty wizard has arisen from the squabbles of Arcanum in Estervary.”

“One stands supreme amid the ruins of his rivals and is able to act unchecked – at least for now.  He has turned his eyes westward, with thoughts of war and conquest.”

“Or shall we ride forth to meet him, to turn him aside before he comes within a hundred leagues? For myself, and for our people, I choose the later.”

The adventure game starts off normally enough, but soon the group finds itself in a situation where things have obviously changed.  Arrows from adversaries are suddenly deadly real.  TJ and his group suddenly find that their weapons also are suddenly real, as are the abilities, knowledge and even some memories, of their characters.

At first they don’t have much time to think about this as they’re in the middle of being attacked.  But afterward they seem to accept it rather quickly and with minimal thought or question, which seems strange.  In part this makes some sense perhaps, because although they maintain their own memories and thoughts, they now additionally have memories and thoughts of the characters they’ve created and been playing.  As if they are still themselves, but also now actually their character as well.

I thought that was an interesting aspect, this duality of memories and knowledge.  It also meant they conveniently had information, as well as abilities, to assist them along the way.

I enjoyed this story, but also was a bit disappointed.  Early on an event occurred that should have had more emotional impact than it did, but we’re just not given enough to be very invested in the characters.  I found them all likable enough, but would have liked to have had more in the way of characterization and interaction so that we really felt for these young people.  Possibly the fact that they were not overly distressed or confused by their situation lessened the impact for us as well.

Due to the fact that knowledge and ability needed was usually conveniently there, and the fact that I wasn’t too emotionally invested in the characters, the tension and suspense in risky or dangerous situations wasn’t what it could have been.

We’re not ever given any explanation on how they magically came to be in this place, with their characters and the game story suddenly real.  I was fine with that though, although some hint would have been nice.

Overall I’d give the first half of this story a solid 3, “I liked it”, and I do think the second half of the story was better.  So I’m giving this a 3 ½.  I do think this is an enjoyable read plus extra points for a book that will appeal to guys – those are often so hard to find.

I received a free, expiring, copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.