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Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Seaborne #1: The Lost Prince by Matt Myklusch

Seaborne the Lost PrinceThrown in a cage and to the sharks by the evil pirate king known as One-Eyed Jack, Dean Seaborne pleads for a second chance.  Having a purpose for Seaborne, One-Eyed Jack sends him to spy on rival pirate, Gentleman Jim Harper, who is suspected of withholding some of the booty that is to go to Jack.  He also wants Seaborne to make his way to the mysterious island of Zenhala to investigate the reports of gold and treasure.

Taken aboard Harper’s ship, Seaborne discovers the information he came for but suddenly the ship gets hit with cannon fire and sinks.  Adrift in their lifeboats, Captain Harper and his pirates are rescued by Verrick, a seeker of the lost prince.  Upon their arrival on the island of Zenhala, Dean Seaborne finds the inhabitants think that he is the lost prince who went missing 13 years ago. Here, he is forced to endure intense rituals that will test his manhood and possible princehood.

Will Seaborne be able to complete his mission?  Is he really the lost prince?  You won’t be sorry you picked up this book to find out.  I highly recommend this fast paced and engaging read.

– Amanda

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Valiant by Sarah McGuire

ValiantAt the start of this book, 17-year-old Saville Gramton is traveling with her father for a fresh start in a new town. Saville would much rather have stayed home and sing at her mother’s graveside than travel with her unloving father who has uprooted the family because he can’t get along with anyone. He is a tailor by trade and they are on their way to the capital city of Reggen. There, her father has high hopes to become the king’s tailor and, since no one else can work with him, Saville is expected to assist her father in the family business. To say she is resentful of this is an understatement. But when her father suddenly becomes ill, she must proceed with his plans in order to survive – even going so far as disguising herself as a boy to become the clothes maker to the king.

Saville is strong willed, smart and brave which are traits she’ll need when facing an army of evil giants that are heading toward Reggen. She outsmarts the giants and tricks them into leaving while earning the praise and respect of the city. When she tells the king that she’s not the boy they thought, he’s not happy about the scandal their new champion would cause. Saville is aided by Lord Verras who may have more than just a passing interest in keeping her out of the dungeon. It’s a good thing because Saville has discovered there’s more than meets the eye with the giants as they are being led by an invincible Duke who’s bent on taking over the kingdom.

Will the courageous tailor girl be able to save those she loves and conquer evil? We’ll see …

– Mark

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Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

Denton Little's Death DateHow would you imagine living your life if you knew the day of your death?  For Denton Little, a 17-year-old high school senior, that day is tomorrow.

This story takes place in a world much like ours with one glaring exception – everyone is told the exact day they are going to die.  The day before his deathdate, Denton wakes up in his best friend’s sister’s bed.  He’s hung over and can’t remember what happened.  Things are not starting the way he planned as Denton heads home to prepare for his funeral.

The rest of the day continues to be just as strange as the morning.  Denton’s life has become overwhelming and has been filled with mysterious questions in the past few hours.  Running out of time, will he find the answers he’s looking for or will his deathdate arrive too soon?

Witty, entertaining, and fresh, debut author Lance Rubin knocks this one out of the park.

– Amanda

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The Fearless by Emma Pass

The FearlessAuthor Emma Pass has created a world where the worst possible outcome to a potential “World War” has happened. The governments of various world leaders created a drug to minimize the effects of PTSD in our soldiers  and it worked but it also diminished their capacity to feel other feelings as well. They are essentially mindless killing machines. This drug is sold to our enemies and everyone now has some form of their very own “Fearless” soldier. War erupts and mass invasions occur, thus ending life as we know it.

Years after our world has ended, small isolated groups of people that were able to survive the initial wave of invasion continue to live as best as they can.  Cass is a young woman living in one of these groups on an isolated island. Her baby brother was taken by the fearless on the same day a stowaway named Myo is discovered. She is faced with the choice to follow the rules of survival and write her brother off as dead or rescue the only family she has left.  She chooses to rescue him and leave her semi-safe island behind and venture out into the world. Accompanied by Myo, she begins her dangerous search for her brother.

This was a well written and exciting book. You follow Cass and Myo on their journey to rescue her brother and go through many obstacles along the way.  Their relationship develops into something more than friendship and you fall in love with their story.

I look forward to a sequel!

– Renee

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the AshesAn Ember in the Ashes is a beautiful narrative following the life of a Scholar girl named Laia and a Martial boy named Elias. In their world, the Martials have invaded and taken over and Laia’s people, the Scholars, and enslaved them. The Martials rule with an iron fist and tolerate no resistance. Her story begins in the middle of a war that she doesn’t know is raging between the resistance and the Martials.

Fearing raids and punishment for any tiny infraction, the Scholars tend to their daily chores as best as they can and Laia’s family is no different. That is until one day Laia discovers that her brother may be helping the resistance. That day her entire life changes. Her home is raided, her family is murdered and her brother is captured. Stranded and alone, she has no choice but to join the resistance that betrayed her and go on a suicide mission to rescue her brother.

Once on her mission she meets up with Elias and he shows her that not all Martials are the same. Their upbringing and lifestyles are vastly different and yet they are drawn to each other, bonded by similar love and loss.

This is a beautiful and exciting story and I am anxiously awaiting the sequel.

– Renee

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You Can Trust Me by Sophie McKenzie

You Can Trust MeLivy Jackson is a stay at home mom with a hormonal tween and a doting son.

She and the kids head out to her best friend Julia’s house for lunch and are devastated to discover that Julia is dead, an apparent suicide. Livy refuses to believe that her best friend would ever kill herself, but her attempts to convince anyone else of that are fruitless.

Soon after, Livy meets Julia’s secret boyfriend, who also refuses to believe that she killed herself. Together they start to investigate Julia’s last days. Julia’s diary leads them on a chase looking for a killer who is so much closer than they realize. Too late, they discover how much danger they are in and that they may be the next victims.

This was a twisted suspenseful thriller and I really enjoyed it.

– Tina

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A Fine Romance by Candice Bergen

A Fine RomanceI love romance.  I don’t love nonfiction.  This story is both, so it’s a flip of a coin as to whether or not I’ll enjoy it.  Following up on her previous memoir, Knock Wood, Candice delves into motherhood, marriage, her career, loss, and more.

The book opens with her pregnancy and birth of her daughter.  It’s a sweet little chapter that brought tears to my eyes.  She then goes on to describe her meeting and falling in love with French film director, Louis Malle.  You learn of their travels, falling into married life, and their struggles.  Although they lead an unconventional marriage; they barely lived together as they each pursued their own professional interests in different countries; they made it work.

At the age of 39, Candice conceived and gave birth to her first and only child, Chloe.  She tells of her pregnancy and life with a new baby.  We learn how she became Murphy Brown and managed to excel at it for 10 years, with a child in tow.

We learn Louis survived lymphoma, open heart surgery and pneumonia to turn around and find out that he had PML (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy).  She opens up about the experience, the struggles, and what helped to keep her grounded.  He succumbed to his illness at the age of 63 on Thanksgiving Day of 1995.

Candice walks us through the aftermath of losing Louie and then her courtship and marriage to Marshall Rose.  To round out the book, she shares with us her stint in ICU, the death of her mother, weight gain, and her daughter’s engagement.

In conclusion, this was a very heartfelt memoir.  More than once I found tears threatening to roll down my cheek.  A fine read.

  • Amanda

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Look! by Jeff Mack

Look!Gorilla is trying to get boy’s attention by being silly, but boy is too busy with his nose in the TV.  Gorilla is saddened, but tries something else.  The boy only gets annoyed and tells him to “Look Out.”  Gorilla only wants some attention, what can he do now?

Gorilla tries to balance on several books but only ends up falling and the boy once again hollers at Gorilla.  The boy kicks Gorilla out of the room and the boy continues watching TV.  Gorilla enters the room standing on a tricycle and juggling books.  This gets the boy’s attention but then things go horribly wrong when Gorilla falls off and lands on the boy and knocks the TV over.

The boy is distraught because now the TV is broken.  Angrily he tells Gorilla to get out.  Gorilla walks away with his head hung low and his heart broken.  Now that the boy doesn’t have the TV, he notices one of the books lying on the ground.  He picks it up and begins reading it.  Gorilla comes back in and the boy is excited to share the story with Gorilla.  They snuggle up and enjoy the book together.  What a perfect ending!

With very few words actually spoken in the book, it’s a sweet and wonderful way for children to use their imaginations to interpret the story and feelings as they wish.  I recommend adding it to your shelf.

  • Amanda

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The Book That Proves Time Travel Happens by Henry Clark

The Book that Proves Time Travel HappensThis book is an imaginative tale of time travel and acceptance with some historical fiction, Morse code and ancient Chinese text added in for good measure. The story centers on young Ambrose Brody who is a middle school student with an Irish father and an Afro-French-Canadian mother. His dad is a history teacher at his school and he kind of just got suspended because of his propensity for dressing like various characters throughout history.

While seeking the guidance of a carnival fortuneteller, Ambrose befriends Shofranka “Frankie” Camlo, daughter of Madame Janus the seer. The two, along with best buddy Tom Xui, first set out to find a missing Camlo family heirloom known as the Shagbolt which, as it turns out, was hidden in the boys’ school. The trio gets caught just as they find the magical device and in an attempt to flee their captors, Frankie activates the Shagbolt, which just so happens to be a time travel device.

They are whisked away, back to the year 1852 but they quickly find they’ve gone from bad to worse as they’re now running for their lives from dreadful slave catchers. The friends must combine their special talents while they search for clues to help them get back to their own time and do so without changing the future. Fortunately they have help along the way as they figure out the hints hidden in the ancient Chinese text called the I-Ching.

– Mark

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The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen

The Year My Mother Came BackIn this quirky memoir, Alice Eve Cohen claims that her mother Louise, dead thirty years, is making “visits” in the author’s daily life. While you may approach this with raised eyebrow (as I did) don’t let that stop you from enjoying this little gem. The author’s writing is fun and personable, even though the premise of the story is just a little hokey.

Cohen is having a No Good, Very Bad year when her daughter Julia decides to find her birth mother, her other daughter Eliana must endure painful leg surgeries, and Cohen herself is diagnosed with breast cancer. Channeling her mother (who also had breast cancer) to help comfort and console her seems to be Cohen’s only recourse. Through various mother-daughter interactions we discover the author’s painful past and what drives her to become Uber-Mother, taking up the slack of Louise’s own dubious parenting skills.

All in all, this memoir will no doubt warm the cockles of your heart and will most certainly make a nice addition to your Mother’s Day reading fare.

– Susan

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