Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she’ll realize how big she is inside, where it counts.

Julia is still mourning the loss of her beloved dog Ramon when her mother signs Julia and her younger brother Randy up for a local university production of The Wizard of Oz.  Julia is quite short for her age, so her mother is certain she will be cast as a Munchkin.  Reluctant at first, Julia becomes more and more enamored with the various people involved in the semi-professional production.  The director, some of the actors, and a few of the tech crew have been hired from out of town; some are college students; the rest, like Julia, are from the local community.  Julia acknowledges not only her own “shortcomings” both at school and at home, but is realistic in her assessment of other people as well. The reader will grow along with Julia as she learns about life and the world around her through this classic production. A must read for students who love to act, as well as for those who feel they are average in a world of “stars.” I loved the main character Julia SO much and I think I took a liking towards her right from the beginning due to her love of her dog! Highly recommended for grades 4 & up!

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

What happens to the leaves on a tree when autumn and winter comes around the corner? Well, that is what we are about to find out! “Fletcher and the Falling Leaves” is a children’s book  and it is about a young fox named Fletcher who tries to save a tree’s leaves from falling off during autumn and winter. “Fletcher and the Falling Leaves” is a cute story about the beauty of changes in weather that I am sure that many children who are interested in knowing what happens to the trees during winter and autumn will easily enjoy for many years!

Each morning, Fletcher would come out of the den and explore the world, but then he realizes that the tree’s leaves were turning gold and beginning to fall off the tree. Fletcher than goes to the tree every day to keep the leaves on the tree; however, when winter came, Fletcher noticed that all the leaves were starting to fall off more rapidly than before.

Fletcher is very worried. He tells the tree he’ll help. But when the very last leaf falls to the ground, Fletcher feels as though he’s let down his friend . . .until the first day of winter, when Fletcher sees that his tree has turned into a shining, glittering surprise.

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Samantha Whipple is the last remaining family member of the Bronte’s – her father, author Tristan Whipple, being descended from one of the siblings of the Bronte patriarch, Patrick. Home schooled by her father, Samantha has grown up with the shadows of the Bronte sisters looming large over her life. Now, with her beloved father is dead and her mother is living in France; American Samantha has arrived at Oxford University to study English Literature.

While Samantha longs for anonymity, with her family background, this is hard to obtain. Before long, she is the focus of University magazines, while Sir John Booker, who runs the Bronte museum, is insistent that Samantha has inherited the ‘missing Bronte estate.’ However, Samantha has been taught that Sir John is, as far as her father was concerned, the ‘enemy’ and that there is no estate to inherit. In the meantime, she is at Oxford to learn something and has to contend with her tutor, the icily intelligent, Dr James Timothy Percival Orville III. Struggling with the attention from fellow students, her inability to utter anything intelligent under Orville’s sarcastic glare and the loss of her father, she suddenly finds a new problem. Books begin appearing – books which once belonged to her father and should no longer exist…

If you need a well written book that–in spite of serious themes–will lift your spirits, I cannot recommend THE MADWOMAN UPSTAIRS enough. I purposefully drew out the reading of this novel because I didn’t want it to end!  Reading this book lead me to pick up some of the Bronte sisters works…..a can of worms!  Enjoy!

Annabel Lee (Coffey & Hill #1) by Mike Nappa

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

On a farm fourteen miles east of Peachtree, Alabama, a secret is hidden–a secret named Annabel Lee. Her uncle’s last words before he hid her away: “Don’t open that door for anybody, you got it? Not even me.”

I will completely admit that the title first drew me to this book. I’ve always appreciated Edgar Allen Poe and with a reference like the title, I knew I was in for a good read.  While there are many elements that relate this book to the stories of Poe, this novel is not a fan fiction or anything like that. This story is full of mystery, suspense and many -many- twists in the story that will leave you wanting more.

The story is told from three points of view, with only Annabel’s being in first person. Annabel lives on a farm in Peachtree, Alabama. She is months away from her twelfth birthday, and has been home schooled by her uncle. When she is left in the bunker with the guard dog, she does not understand why. We experience this through her eyes.

Trudi Coffey has a degree in English lit but now works as a private investigator. Her part of the narrative is told in third person, and it is in her sections that we get to know Samuel Lee, her ex-husband (a descriptor that she generally follows up mentally with “the pig.”) and former business partner.

The third perspective is that of an Iraq veteran known as The Mute. Also told in third person, it is primarily in his sections that we learn more about Leonard Truckson’s past.

Each of the characters that are developed in the story are ones I wanted to know more about. Whether a good guy or bad guy, they are written so well I found myself wondering about them more and more. Even the dog that Truck leaves with Annabel Lee makes me wonder about his training and where he came from in the first place.

This was a GREAT book!  Highly recommend!

Room by Emma Donoghue

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A story that is similar in ways to the true story of Jaycee Dugard as my mom pointed out while I was telling her about this book!

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

This seriously disturbing story is narrated by Jack and starts on his fifth birthday. Jack and his Ma share Room. He thinks of every object in Room like Rug or Plant or Meltdy Spoon as a friend to be treasured, and he and Ma spend every day doing their chores and playing games like Scream where they yell as loudly as they can. Jack loves his Ma and Room, but he’s scared of Old Nick who comes some nights and stays with Ma in Bed while Jack sleeps in Wardrobe.

Jack’s Ma blows his mind by telling him that she used to live Outside, and that Old Nick stole her and brought her to Room seven years ago. She has a plan for them to get out of Room, but Jack can’t believe that the things he’s seen on the fuzzy TV screen for years are real. How can there be anything but him and Ma and Room?

The premise for this book sounds like something that a Stephen King or Dean Koontz would have come up with, and it certainly works as a kind of horror novel as Jack’s innocent depiction of life inside Room shows Ma to be the victim of a horrible crime that she is trying to shield her son from. What makes this so chilling and heartbreaking is Jack’s view of the Room as the entire world, and he has so adapted to it that the very idea of real people existing outside of it is something akin to blasphemy to him.

The writing here is exceptional, and Emma Donoghue makes what could be an over-the-top plot into a character based and all too plausible story. It’s creepy and chilling and terrible and intriguing and kind of sweet.

Author Interview… Jonathan Janz, author of “Wolf Land” + Giveaway

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“One of the best writers in modern horror to come along in the last decade. Janz is one of my new favorites.” –Brian Keene, best-selling author

 

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Thank you so much for hosting me today! I’m a husband, dad, teacher, and writer. My wife and three kids are extraordinary, and I love both of my professions. That might be a dull answer, but it’s the truth.

 

Sierra:  When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

 

I took my first crack at writing after I got into a near-fatal car crash during my senior year in high school. The book was horrid. I took my second shot at it when I was twenty-six. That book was less awful, but it still wasn’t good. About seven years ago, I got serious about writing, and though I finished the book (it was called STARLIGHT), no one wanted to publish it. That’s because even though it was better than anything I’d written at that point, it still wasn’t good. So I rewrote it seven more times. In the mean time, I wrote another book called THE SORROWS, which sold in 2011. Then, the one first one sold, as well, this time under the name HOUSE OF SKIN. Since then, things have been growing steadily.

 

Sierra:  Tell us a little bit about your first book or the first book in the series.

 

THE SORROWS was a Gothic horror novel that showed both the influence of Peter Straub and Richard Laymon. Though that’s a strange combination, I think it worked really well for the book. The novel is about a pair of horror movie music composers who travel to a haunted island in the Pacific to find inspiration for the horror film they’re scoring. Readers seemed to dig it at any rate, so I wrote a sequel called CASTLE OF SORROWS of which I’m also very proud.

I also have another pseudo-series called SAVAGE SPECIES. That book is one of my most popular ones; it’s a brutal survival thriller along the lines of the film THE DESCENT. Since people enjoyed it so much, I wrote a prequel of sorts called CHILDREN OF THE DARK that’ll be published in early 2016 by Sinister Grin Press.

 

Sierra: How did you choose the genre you write in?

 

This will undoubtedly sound cheesy, but I’d say that horror chose me. I grew up between an old graveyard and a deep, dark woods, and I spent my childhood terrified of the spirits and monsters that I was convinced resided in those shadowy realms. I write in other genres, but horror will always be my favorite.

 

Sierra: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write?

 

In my most recent novel WOLF LAND, I loved writing the werewolf transformation scenes because they were uniquely compatible with my “approach.” Essentially, I love to subside into the background and allow my characters to seize control of the story, which means the books kind of write themselves. What more natural a scene to write then, than a transformation scene in which an irresistible impulse grabs hold of a character and changes him/her into something else? As liberating as most of my writing feels, those transformation scenes flowed so rapidly out of my fingertips that I could scarcely keep up with the words. There’s one scene in particular in the bathroom of a drive-in movie theatre that exploded onto the keyboard as violently as the blood exploded onto the cinderblock walls of the bathroom. WOLF LAND was a total blast to write.

 

Sierra:  Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

 

Tons of both. I forget who said this, but someone once called a writer “a person on whom nothing is lost.” I like to think I’m that way, watching the world closely, storing away details, and then allowing them to gush forth onto the page. At the same time, there are things I write that have no connection to anything I’ve ever done, seen, or heard. So yeah…both.

 

Sierra: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

 

Stephen King’s THE TOMMYKNOCKERS made of me a reader and a writer back when I was an adolescent, so that one will always have a special place in my heart. A recent book that influenced me was Gillian Flynn’s DARK PLACES. I loved how bold she was and how willing she was to follow her characters into their most depraved thoughts and behaviors. She has a great deal of guts, and I deeply admire that.

 

Sierra: Do you ever experience writers block?

 

Not yet, though I’ve heard enough about it to know how real it is for some writers. Personally, my only problem is having so many ideas and so little time to write them that I get frustrated at having to place wonderful projects on the backburner.

 

Sierra: Is there an author that you would really like to meet?

 

Stephen King. I would kill to meet Stephen King. Okay, maybe not kill, but I’d at least maim. I’ve met many of my writing heroes, but King is the one who showed me the way and is the single most important influence on my writing life. He can have no idea how much influence he’s had on the world, nor could I ever repay the debt I owe him. But I’d still love to meet him.

 

Sierra: Will you have a new book coming out soon? If so, can you tell us about it?

 

I have three coming out in 2016 (and maybe more). The first will be CHILDREN OF THE DARK in March. I’m really jazzed about that one because it’s my first “coming of age” book, and one that I think blends tenderness and savagery really interestingly. The second is EXORCIST FALLS, which is a novel-length sequel to an extremely successful novella called EXORCIST ROAD. The third will be an updated, improved version of a novella called WITCHING HOUR THEATRE, which was the first thing I ever got published.

 

Sierra: If you could go back and do it all over again, is there any aspect of your first novel or getting it published that you would change?

 

Not really, because I’m thankful for the way it has all happened. If I did go back and change anything it would be spending less time on query letters and worrying about breaking arbitrary writing rules, and spending more time on studying books the way I do now. Reading and examining a story by one of my favorite writers teaches me far more than any other method I’ve tried.

 

Sierra: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

 

Yes. While talent matters, and while there are a great many factors involved in writing, nothing is as important as persistence. I met F. Paul Wilson this summer, and one thing he said really resonated with me. He had a great quote about it, but rather than butchering it, I’ll just paraphrase him: “Everybody wants to succeed, but most writers don’t have the discipline to actually do it and stick to it.” I think that’s the biggest divider; there are tens of thousands—maybe even millions—of people with the talent to write. But the vast majority of those will never succeed because they simply don’t have the discipline, the humility, and the stomach to do it. If I could give any advice, I’d say to disabuse yourself of the notion that you’re owed anything by editors, agents, or readers and that you have to work your tail off consistently for a long time to earn your success. That might not be sexy advice, but I believe it’s true, and knowing that, you can buckle down and do the work. For me, it’s a reassuring thought because I love working for what I get. It makes success that much more rewarding.

 

Sierra: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

 

Jonathan: I am truly grateful for your support, and it means the world to me that you take the time to read my books. I work tirelessly to craft the best stories I can, but that effort wouldn’t matter without readers. So thank you. I deeply appreciate you!

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Purchase Links

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Wolf-Land-Jonathan-Janz/dp/1619231166

Barnes & Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wolf-land-jonathan-janz/1122266491

Samhain

https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5624/wolf-land

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Giveaway!!!

Enter to win ONE (1) print copy signed by Jonathan Janz of WOLF LAND! Click the link to enter. There are several things you can do to get multiple entries each day. Forward any questions to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjI2/?

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Click on the book to see my review!