Cheap Reads for Your Kindle! Books for a Stormy October Night

Here are some inexpensive reads for your Saturday night.  If the weather in your area is like mine, you are probably going to want to stay in this evening.  We are expecting thunderstorms to roll through, and it has been cloudy and overcast all day long.

The Rise of Renegade X rocks, and I highly recommend it, even though at $3.99 it’s the priciest book listed below.  The rest are $1.99.

The Rise of Renegade X (Renegade X, Book 1)

Sixteen-year-old Damien Locke has a plan: major in messing with people at the local supervillain university and become a professional evil genius, just like his supervillain mom. But when he discovers the shameful secret she’s been hiding all these years, that the one-night stand that spawned him was actually with a superhero, everything gets messed up. His father’s too moral for his own good, so when he finds out Damien exists, he actually wants him to come live with him and his goody-goody superhero family. Damien gets shipped off to stay with them in their suburban hellhole, and he has only six weeks to prove he’s not a hero in any way, or else he’s stuck living with them for the rest of his life, or until he turns eighteen, whichever comes first.
To get out of this mess, Damien has to survive his dad’s "flying lessons" that involve throwing him off the tallest building in the city–despite his nearly debilitating fear of heights–thwarting the eccentric teen scientist who insists she’s his sidekick, and keeping his supervillain girlfriend from finding out the truth. But when Damien uncovers a dastardly plot to turn all the superheroes into mindless zombie slaves, a plan hatched by his own mom, he discovers he cares about his new family more than he thought. Now he has to choose: go back to his life of villainy and let his family become zombies, or stand up to his mom and become a real hero.

I just saw a listing for the sequel  The Trials of Renegade X (Renegade X, Book 2), which released last month. I will be grabbing it as soon as I have some room in my reading schedule.

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Mini Review: Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman

Fortunately, the Milk

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

"I bought the milk," said my father. "I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road."

"Hullo," I said to myself. "That’s not something you see every day. And then something odd happened."

Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal, expertly told by Newbery Medalist and bestselling author Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young.

Review:

I love Neil Gaiman’s writing, and I love that he’s so entertaining in so many different creative arenas.  He creates for adults and children with equal skill, and don’t forget his celebrated writing for comics.  He confidently stretches his creative muscle, and his audience is made the richer for his efforts.

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Blog Tour – Review: Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters by Diane Zahler

Welcome to my stop on Diane Zahler’s blog tour for her newly released Middle Grade fantasy Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters.  I’m excited to be part of this tour because I love Diane’s books!  I’ve read almost all of them, and they have all captivated me with her twists on familiar fairy tales.  As the title of Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters suggests, this is an alternate version of Sleeping Beauty that chronicles the adventures of Sleeping Beauty’s daughters. They are 12 and 9, and don’t understand why they live such an isolated existence.  There are no sharp knives or scissors, or anything with a pointy end to be found anywhere in the castle. All food is sent from the local village in bite sized pieces.  Their father heads to the village to get his hair cut, and the castle guards don’t even have weapons (maybe they have mallets to fight off possible threats of attack?). 

After Luna accidentally cuts herself, giving their emotionally fragile mother quite a fright, they learn about their mother’s history.  She was cursed as a baby, and after being pricked on the finger, she fell into a deep, deep sleep that lasted one hundred years.  Their father awakened her with a kiss, and when the evil fairy Manon discovered that they were living their happy ever after, she cursed them again.  This time, it would be one of their daughters that would fall into a deep, deep slumber, only when she woke up, everyone she knew and loved would be dead and gone.  That’s really scary!  It would terrify me to find myself completely alone, so I could easily imagine how terrifying that thought was to Luna and Aurora.  When Aurora pricks her finger due to Luna’s carelessness, it becomes a desperate race to find their fairy godmother before Aurora takes a really, really long nap.

As in every Diane Zahler book, the characters made the story for me.  They are young and have little practical world experience, yet they rally together to accomplish great things.  Luna is stubborn and bold, while Aurora is more timid and hesitant to face new challenges.  Her idea of a good time, like mine, is curling up in the library with a good book.  The curse and the threat of sleeping for a century get them both moving to find a cure, and with the help of an orphan fisherman, they head off into danger.  Each adds strength to their group, and without all three working together, they would fail at their task.  They all grow and gain confidence as they face one frightening challenge after another.  They aren’t content to just sit around and wait for an adult to solve their problems; nope, they dive right into action, determined to find a way to reverse the terrible curse that’s been placed on Aurora. 

The other thing I love about these books is that the girls don’t take a backseat to the boys.  They are every bit as brave, strong, and courageous as the guys.  Probably more so, because the girls are the ones to get things moving in the first place.  I like that they wait to be rescued; they take control of their own destiny and try to figure things out for themselves.

Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters is very fast-paced, as the sisters race against time to save Aurora from her terrible fate.  Along the way they learn to embrace both the good and bad in each other.  They also make friendships that will last a lifetime, and face terrors beyond their imagining.  Through all of their adventures, they discover a new appreciation for each other, and the courage to overcome any obstacle – together.

So…did I like it?  You bet!  4.5 / 5 stars! 

 

About the book:

The classic fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty is transformed into a dazzling new story of two sisters fighting a powerful curse by Diane Zahler, the acclaimed author of The Thirteenth Princess. Briskly paced and full of lush descriptions, readers who enjoy the work of Shannon Hale and Gail Carson Levine will be swept away by this spellbinding novel.
The daughters of Sleeping Beauty, Princesses Aurora and Luna, have grown up in a cliff-top palace by the sea, where they are carefully protected by their parents. No one visits, the girls cannot stray beyond the castle walls, and all sharp objects are forbidden here.
But accidents will happen—particularly when an old curse still has power. Soon, in spite of all precautions, Aurora is struggling not to slip into an enchanted sleep.
Frantic, the princesses accept the help of a young fisherman named Symon and embark on a daring ocean voyage to find their aunt—a fairy who may be able to break the spell. From fearsome beasts to raging storms, many dangers befall them, yet they must not give up . . . for if Aurora sleeps, she will not wake for one hundred years.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour:

August 27: www.theresabook.com

August 28: www.bookalicious.org

August 30: http://www.iceybooks.com/

August 31: www.greenbeanteenqueen.com

September 1: http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/search?q=zahler

You can learn more about Diane by visiting:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Waiting on Wednesday–A Hundred Horses by Sarah Lean

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

One guess why I’m waiting for A Hundred Horses by Sarah Lean…Yup, it has horses!  And magical adventures.  And a lot of fun, I hope!  In stores January 2014

 

From the author of A Dog Called Homeless, winner of the Schneider Family Book Award, comes a gentle tale with a touch of magic about the power of friendship, the truth of belonging, and the most special of a hundred horses.

Nell is not happy about spending her school vacation with relatives she doesn’t know. Expecting nothing more than silly little cousins and boring farm life, she sneaks along a special suitcase that once belonged to her father. In it, she knows, are the parts of a music box and sixteen miniature painted horses, and she thinks maybe she can fit them all back together.

But the countryside has unexpected surprises. When a half-wild and mysterious girl named Angel steals Nell’s suitcase, the two girls are tied in an adventure of Angel’s devising. Nighttime meetings and a horse that might just be magical pique Nell’s curiosity, and soon she must put together the mystery of who Angel truly is, understand the legends about the herd of a hundred horses, and also discover something special about herself.

 

What are you waiting on?

Waiting on Wednesday–Moonkind by Sarah Prineas

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

ZOMG!!!!  I just discovered that Sarah Prineas has another book due in stores in December! I loved Winterling, and I have Summerkin on my wish list.  I just added Moonkind to the list, so it looks like I have some awesome MG novels to look forward to at the end of the year.

 

Moonkind, the sweeping conclusion to Sarah Prineas’s fantasy adventure series that started with Winterling, follows Fer, the Lady of the Summerlands, as she attempts to inspire change in the face of great danger and resistance.

Fer, the Lady of the Summerlands, has made a critical mistake. In a world where oath-binding magic runs deep, the consequences of a broken promise can be nothing short of dire. But Fer has not broken her promise-she’s remained true to her vow to rule with honesty and without the disguise of a glamorie. Yet as a young leader, she’s naively trusted others to honor such an oath, too-one that many are unwilling and unable to keep.
With the cost of countless broken oaths weighing heavily on the land, the realm has begun to change. A stillness is creeping in, bringing a silent death to the place that Fer holds so dear. Only Fer has the power to fight it, but she may have to rely on the help of the one boy whose very nature is to deceive her.
Sarah Prineas, the award-winning author of the Magic Thief books, shines in this mesmerizing series conclusion. Praised by Kirkus Reviews for her lush and sensuous prose, Sarah once again takes readers on a breathtaking journey to a land of wildling transformations, magical poultices, shape-shifting troublemakers, and enduring friendships that cannot be broken.

 

What are you waiting on?

Interview with Jessica Day George, Author of Wednesdays in the Tower and Giveaway!

Please welcome Jessica Day George to the virtual offices this morning! Jessica is here to chat about her latest release, Wednesdays in the Tower, and after the interview, she has a copy for one of you to win!

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Jessica Day George] Redheaded chocoholic bookworm.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Rolf?

[Jessica Day George] Devil-may-care, loyal, tough. (Hyphens make that one word, right?)

[Manga Maniac Café] Name one thing Celie is never without.

[Jessica Day George] Sketching pencils.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Jessica Day George] River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay. I’ve been a huge fan for many years. He just keeps getting better!

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Jessica Day George] It was definitely The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley. I’d never read anything like it, and I swore I would be an author too, when I read it.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!

Ready for your chance to win a copy of Wednesdays in the Tower? Just fill out the widget below to enter! US addresses only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Didn’t win?  Click the links below to purchase Wednesdays in the Tower:

B&N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wednesdays-in-the-tower-jessica-day-george/1112951651?ean=9781599906454

About the book:

A castle that is constantly rearranging itself, and a young royal family sworn to protect it… Celie, Rolf, and their beloved Castle Glower are back in this exciting sequel.

Strange things are afoot in Castle Glower: new rooms, corridors, and even stables keep arriving, even when they aren’t needed. Celie’s brother Bran, the new Royal Wizard, has his hands full cataloguing an entire storeroom full of exotic and highly dangerous weapons, while Celie has her hands full . . . raising the creature that hatches from a giant egg she finds! Will they be able to find out what’s making the Castle behave this way in time?

Review: Coyote Winds by Helen Sedwick

 

 

Title:  Coyote Winds

Author: Helen Sedwick

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

COYOTE WINDS is an historical novel set on the western prairie in the years before the Dust Bowl, a time of optimism and confidence, a time when a man was measured by what he produced, not what he could buy. It explores the American can-do spirit that drew people to this wind-swept frontier and the consequences of that spirit. It asks whether that spirit survives today.

Lexile Score HL 690 (high low book); Honorable Mention 2013 Green Book Festival Award for Young Adult Fiction.

Summary: When thirteen-year old Myles brings home a coyote pup half-blinded by a dust storm, his father warns him a coyote can’t be trusted. His neighbor loads his rifle and takes aim. Yet Myles is determined to tame the pup just as his father is taming the land. The time is 1930. Tractors and fertilizers are transforming the prairie into the world’s breadbasket. The American dream is within every man’s reach. But when drought turns these dreams into paint-stripping, crop-killing dust, Myles wonders if they have made a mistake trying to tame what should be wild.

Seventy years later, when Andy remembers his Grandpa Myles’s tales about growing up on the prairie, he wonders what stories he will tell when he has grandchildren. Algebra, soccer practice, computer games, the mall? Determined to keep his grandfather’s memories alive and have some adventures of his own, Andy heads out to discover what’s left of the wild prairie.

Inspired by her father’s tales of growing up during the Dust Bowl, Sedwick weaves insight, humor, historical details and unforgettable characters into a coming-of-age story that reminds us that chasing a dream, even if it brings heartache, is far better than not dreaming at all.


Review:

I am fascinated with history, so when I was contacted to review Coyote Winds, I jumped at the chance.  The story is told through alternating POVs (including a coyote’s), and Myles is experiencing the Dust Bowl first hand.  His grandson, Andy, is desperately trying to understand his grandfather’s stories of life on the prairie.  Andy feels like he is nothing but a disappointment to his overachieving attorney parents, and he is struggling in school.  He can’t seem to connect with his peers or his classes.  After his grandfather’s death leaves a hole the size of the prairie in his heart, Andy attempts to reconcile his grandfather’s tales with what life on the prairie in the 1930s was really like.  Conflicting accounts his great aunt told his mother puzzle him, and for a boy who didn’t like reading, Andy was suddenly all about researching what his grandfather and his family endured on their homestead.  I loved how Andy kept insisting that it’s his story, too, and his mother’s story, after she shuts down and doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.

It took me a while to warm up to Andy and his segments of the story.  But before I knew it, I was invested in the lives of all of the characters in Coyote Winds.  By the end of the book, I shocked by how much I had come to like them.  The more I think about it, the more moved I am by this story.  It is raw and uncompromising at times, and Myles’ accounts of his childhood experiences are unflinchingly truthful.  From brutal rabbit hunts to disputes with the neighbor over proper farming techniques, Myles’ narrative POV is both unemotional and free of embellishment.  He’s just telling it like it is.  As he begins to realize how primitive life on the farm is, with no electricity or running water, he begins to question his father’s dedication to farming.  Is he just stubborn?  Can’t he see how difficult life in the middle of no where is, and how unhappy his mother and sister are?  While Myles loves the land, he longs for something more.

Ro, the coyote pup Myles rescues after a dust storm, also shares the story through his eyes. His point of view didn’t work as well for me, because I was so stressed that Bad Things would happen to him.  His chapters left me sad and depressed, because he kept longing for the things he would never have; a life among his own kind, and his brothers and sisters to play with.  His human pack didn’t understand him, and when Myles, in an effort to protect both his friend and Ro, chases him off, my heart broke for the little guy.

By the end of the book I was sobbing.  I don’t know why, other than each character had come to life for me, and had come to mean something to me.  Even the people I thought I couldn’t stand had shining moments of insight that made me understand their stance on farming and raising their families.  This is a book of broken dreams, but it’s also a story of  hope and the courage to attempt to make changes in your life.  While the farmland was harsh to Myles and his family, it was healing to Andy and his parents, and brought them closer together.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by the author

Interview with Soman Chainani, Author of The School For Good and Evil

Please welcome Soman Chainani to the virtual offices today.  Soman is here to chat about the School for Good and Evil, which releases today.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Soman Chainani] A professional storyteller by trade. Sensitive, intense, athletic, and a lover of all things fantastic and imaginative.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The School For Good and Evil?

[Soman Chainani] THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL is the first book in an epic new fantasy trilogy, which follows two heroines: gorgeous Sophie, with her waist-long blond hair and her dreams of becoming a princess — and her black-wearing friend Agatha, awkward and dour, who everyone thinks is a witch. But when they arrive at the School for Good and Evil, where children are trained to become fairy-tale heroes and villains, they’re put in the wrong schools. Sophie is dumped in Evil to learn Uglification, Death Curses, and other villainous arts, while Agatha finds herself at the School for Good amid handsome princes and fair maidens. But the question remains: Is it really a mistake?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Soman Chainani] I’ve been toying with versions of this story since I was 12. But it finally all congealed in my head one day when I was in London on a film project. I remember walking in Regents Park and I had the image of the two girls, one in pink, one in black, falling into the wrong schools. The entire story just opened up, as it had been there all along. I ended up 30 minutes late to my next meeting, just because I was ambling around, lost in the idea.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Sophie?

[Soman Chainani] Diva. Iconoclast. Charismatic.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Agatha had a theme song, what would it be?

[Soman Chainani] “I’m Only Happy When It Rains” by Garbage.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Sophie is never without.

[Soman Chainani] A homemade honeycream facial scrub

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Agatha’s school bag?

[Soman Chainani] No makeup. No change of clothes (she always wears black). No regrets.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Soman Chainani] Madonna. Miyazaki. Classic Disney cartoons. Roald Dahl. Stanley Kubrick.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Soman Chainani] A hard workout before I start. A reclining chair. A lunch I’m looking forward to.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Soman Chainani] A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. It made me cry in a café and I remember looking up after the last page and seeing the waiters giving me very concerned looks.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Soman Chainani] From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg. I read that book every day for months and months. I loved the idea of being parentless in a museum. I still do!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Soman Chainani] I’m a tennis maniac. On another planet in an alternate universe, I’m a pro tennis player. If I’m not playing tennis or writing, I’m likely reading, watching movies, travelling or having a long dinner with friends.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Soman Chainani] My website is: www.somanchainani.net

Facebook.com/schoolforgoodandevil

Tumblr.com/somanchainani

Twitter @somanchainani

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase The School for Good and Evil by clicking the links below:

B&N http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-school-for-good-and-evil-soman-chainani/1113200551

About the book:

At the School for Good and Evil, failing your fairy tale is not an option.

Welcome to the School for Good and Evil, where best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.

The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.

But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are . . . ?

The School for Good and Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.