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Learn To Tie A Tie With The Rabbit And The Fox: Story With Instructional Song by Sybrina Durant

Sybrina Durant's "Learn to Tie a Tie with the Rabbit & the Fox: Story with Instructional Song," illustrated by Donna Marie Naval, is a clever mnemonic story intended as an activity book for families with children.

The story describes the encounter between a carefree white rabbit and a ravenous gray fox.

One afternoon, when the rabbit is foraging for food far away from his cozy, underground home, he stops to enjoy the tastiest shoots.

But soon, the aggressive fox, hearing the rabbit chomping loudly on the grass, stuns the little rabbit into a shocked state with his approach.

With a racing heart, the rabbit quickly comes to his senses and bounds off to avert the fox's attack.

At this point in the story, simple diagrams on how to tie a tie are included that parallel the chasing patterns between the fox and the rabbit. For example, just as the rabbit slides under the bush, the tie blade slides under the neck loop.

Children and parents alike will delight in the tale's creativity, the hands-on practice of tying a tie, and the illustrator's energetic and bright designs, as well as the accompanying song that helps commit the skill to memory.

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"Queen Darkara" by Renn McWolfe

Renn McWolfe's "Queen Darkara" is a brilliantly written fantasy novel for teens with an engaging plot and a fascinating world.

The story follows the young, beautiful enchantress Queen Darkara after she is summoned to a distant land rife with death and destruction.

When Darkar learns that the land is being overtaken by a powerful, cunning witch, she agrees to do her best to hunt the witch, with a team of equally dedicated warriors, including the dashing, headstrong General Dominik the Brave.

As engaging as the plot is, it is the writing that truly makes "Queen Darkara" shine.
It is one of those books where you forget you are reading, and instead feel as though you are a transient observer in a far-off world.

The well-developed characters and otherworldly creatures, such as the Trickster, a creature with a hunger for human hearts, feel tangible.

The humor in the book adds a light-hearted element to the book, despite the somewhat dark plot.

Unlike humor in many books aimed at teens, the humor does not feel forced; it feels like a natural part of the situations.

Because of the writing, humor, and world, the cat-and-mouse game between Darkara and the evil witch is continually interesting, and the reader finds his or herself not wanting it to end.

"Queen Darkara" is a must-have for any teen craving an accessible, fast-paced fantasy novel.

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Jayden & the Mysterious Mountain by Katrina Cope

“Jayden & the Mysterious Mountain," the first book in the Sanctum series, is a young adult novel with a fantasy-themed plot that will have readers on the edge of their seats.

Katrina Cope's 222-page novel begins when Avando, a mysterious old man, makes Jayden, a homeless youth, an offer that seems too good to be true --  food and shelter in exchange for academic performance.

The plot takes off when Jayden takes the offer, enrolling at a mysterious school called The Sanctum.
The school itself is interesting for the reader, hidden in the mountains and filled with imaginative technology.

One of the strongest points of the novel is Cope's descriptions of the characters' backgrounds, which add a layer of characterization that helps the reader understand their decision-making.

Cope also does a wonderful job describing scenes and action, giving the reader a vivid picture of what is going on.

The plot is paced well and will have the reader eager to learn what will happen next -- there are even a few twists along the way.

Overall, "Jayden & the Mysterious Mountain" is a good read for anyone looking for an imaginitive, fast-paced YA book.

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Hearts for Sale! A Buyer's Guide to Winning in Afghanistan by Farzana Marie

“Hearts for Sale! A Buyer's Guide to Winning in Afghanistan," by Farzana Marie, is an insightful look at the conflict in Afghanistan that will have even the most informed reader questioning what they have been told.

Marie's 155-page book draws upon her six years of experience as an active duty military officer and her two years of deployment in Afghanistan, as well as her experience as a PhD student of Middle Eastern Literature.

Marie's firsthand experience in Afghanistan is apparent in her writing, giving the reader a taste of what is really happening during the conflict. She incorporates descriptions of her firsthand experiences throughout the book, which makes the topics she discusses easier to visualize for the reader.

The conflict in Afghanistan is complicated in nature, but Marie presents the information in a way that is easy to digest, without neglecting anything important, covering everything from politics to culture.

Not only does Marie chronicle what is happening in Afghanistan, but she offers clear solutions to the problems.

Overall, "Hearts for Sale! A Buyer's Guide to Winning in Afghanistan" is an incredibly informative and fascinating read that is a must-have for anyone interested in culture, human rights, politics, or the conflict in Afghanistan.

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Ametsapolis Rising by Shaun Myandee

Shaun Myandee's "Ametsapolis Rising" is a vast, post-apocalyptic sci-fi with a riveting plot and unique world that will have even the most jaded sci-fi fans clamoring for more.

The story is set in the 24th century in the futuristic city of Ametsapolis, the last city on Earth, where humans depend upon cybernetic implants to survive the harsh environment.

Although the implants are humanity's saving grace, they are also used by the government for control.
A mysterious group called the Zorastran Order uses special implants that give them extraordinary powers.

The ambitious Jonas Evermount is trained by the order because of his unique way of harnessing the power of the implants.

After much training, Jonas leads a rebellion against the corrupt government of Ametsapolis and is joined along the way by a geneticist and researcher with similar goals.

The plot is filled with twists and turns, keeping the reader on the edge of his or seat the whole way.
The characters in "Ametsapolis Rising" are dynamic and interesting; one of Myandee's strengths is showing the reader what drives each character.

The technology and world Myandee created are unique and well-thought out.

The book's pacing is not too fast and not too slow, perfectly leading up to the dramatic climax.
Overall, "Ametsapolis Rising" is a fresh sci-fi novel that is a must-have for anyone who likes a gripping story.

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Speed Reading by John Kelley

"Speed Reading: In 24 Hours: Learn to Read Faster, Think Faster and Remember What You Read" is a recently-published Kindle Ebook by John Kelley about the requisite skills, practice, and applications of speed reading.

Kelley's book is designed to benefit high school, college, and adult students who can apply his techniques to their schoolwork and in their professional careers to gain a competitive edge.

The book follows Kelley's five basic steps, beginning with "isolating the trouble" using practice tests that assess rate, comprehension, page response, fast thinking, and vocabulary.  Readers are encouraged to calculate their individual scores and to chart their progress in their Profiles.

Next, readers learn the basic techniques of speed reading, such as analyzing paragraph structures, as well as more advanced abilities, such as speed reading while maintaining a high comprehension level.

All the while, there are exercises devoted to practicing these new frameworks and an answer key to "verify your success."

Lastly, Kelley encourages his readers to apply his techniques to all reading material, and he acknowledges that speed reading is a skill that can be honed throughout one's life.

The book is most interesting in its broad approach to cultivating one's speed reading ability by teaching multiple components of the task.

Overwhelmingly, "Speed Reading: In 24 Hours: Learn to Read Faster, Think Faster and Remember What You Read" is a successful "how-to" manual for learning and improving upon one's speed reading.

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Changed Forever: The Dreams of Sara Knight by Steven Misosky

"Changed Forever: The Dreams of Sara Knight" is the first book in Steven Misosky's Young-Adult Series of Empowerment encouraging readers to seek out the "divine splendor within."
It begins on the birthday of 10-year-old Kara and Sara Knight who are the twin daughters conceived out of great love by their parents, Steve and Cindy, whose plan is that the twins will take the "extraordinary path" to help the Earth.

Steve and Cindy Knight as well as Steve's mother, Grandma Gaddi, tell the girls about the presence of "awakened ones" called "Heart Knowers" who are attuned to their souls and to God.  Kara and Sara become increasingly excited about this new challenge of "waking up" and experiencing each moment in the present.     

The day after the twins' birthday, the family meets Grandma Gaddi for a hypnotist show, and Gaddi presents the girls with symbolic necklaces and dream journals. From that point on, Kara and Sara reflect upon their dreams, the subconscious, love, karma, and synchronicity.

The novel is most interesting because of the philosophy Misosky presents and in the way that his narration makes one feel like he or she is there experiencing the wide range of dreams, including one involving the country singer Taylor Swift.

The emphasis on family, harmony, and one's inner-life is especially unique for a novel catering to the Young-Adult demographic.  It is refreshing that Misosky is tapping into the spiritual reservoirs of teens and adults and asking them to think about living in a different way.

By and large, "Changed Forever: The Dreams of Sara Knight" is a wonderful, descriptive narrative about challenging oneself to look within to seize the "limitless possibilities" that await. 

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Kindreds: An Alliance of Bloods by Tani Mura

“Kindreds: An Alliance of Bloods," book 1 of the Kindreds series, a fantasy/dystopian novel with a dash of sci-fi, is an engaging novel that will have the reader hooked from the start.

Tani Mura's 330-page novel follows the exploits of Raine, an ambitious twenty-year-old, in an unfriendly world.

Raine, an inhabitant of a dangerous region known as the Outer Rims, opts to become a warrior, rather than join the Breeders like most most women in her village.

Although being the only female warrior is tough, Raine manages to cope; however, her coping is in vain for she is soon whisked away to a peculiar kingdom fixated on war and genetic manipulation.

Mura masterfully builds Raine's world, immersing the reader in details that make the universe feel real.

One of the strongest points of the novel is Mura's description of each culture and its history, which adds a layer of depth to the plot that truly engages the reader.

The plot really takes off when Raine leaves the Outer Rims, steadily building until its dramatic climax.

Mura's writing is descriptive yet concise, with telling narration and dialogue.

Overall, "Kindreds: An Alliance of Bloods" is a great read with a riveting plot and a fascinating world.

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Exodus Lost by S.C. Compton

S. C. Compton's "Exodus Lost" is a compelling look at the voyages of pre-Western American cultures across the Atlantic.

Compton, having studied these cultures for years, is well-versed on the subject, presenting a well-developed case for the voyages.

There is a variety of archeological evidence used to help the reader see the plausibility of the voyages.

Compton's studies allowed him to discover a variety of new things outside the topic of travel about  indigenous American cultures.

Compton also incorporates information about Biblical events into the book.

One of the strengths of the book is that it is so approachable.

Although Compton is an esteemed scholar, the book can be read by anyone, regardless of his or her background.

Another strength of the book is its visual aids (126 photos, maps, and engravings).

The book is in the history section, but it has enough real-life adventure to keep anyone interested.

Overall, "Exodus Lost" is a strong offering about a fascinating topic -- it is a must-read for anyone with a remote interest in history, especially that of Egypt and early America!

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Don't Call Me Baby by Betty Byers

Betty Byers “Don't Call Me Baby" intrigues with an exciting combination of romance, mystery, and suspense.

Set in a London, the novel follows 24-year-old Lola Hussey as she navigates her complicated love life and her new position as a junior investigator at a private investigator agency.

Lola, whose previous primary concern had been how to move out of her mother's house, finds herself assigned to solve a case involving the suspicious death of a wealthy Australian.

Although there is a lot going on in the novel, Byers paces it well, keeping the reader from being overwhelmed with information.

Byers develops all of the characters extensively, especially Lola.

The reader is granted a deep look into Lola's upbringing, making Lola's actions in the present more understandable.

The novel is written in the first-person perspective, which really allows the reader into Lola's head.

One of novel’s greatest strengths is its humor.

Byers is a smart, witty writer, and her talent certainly shines in the novel's comedy.

Despite Lola's demanding job as an investigator, she has time for romance.

After coming clean about her lack of feelings for her on-and-off-again romantic partner of two years, she is torn between her feelings for her stoic Danish boss, Julian, and the playful yet dreamy Joe.

"Don't Call Me Baby" is truly the complete package -- and it is a must-read for anyone who likes romance with their mystery.

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Killgrace and the Singular Situation


“Killgrace and the Singular Situation” is science fiction for the thinking person.

Part of a series of science fiction and historical stories called Killgrace, the novella revolves around a team of scientists who are trying to rescue planet-sized aliens from a black hole while aboard a spaceship.

The cast of characters, consisting mostly of scientists and space aviation personnel, are likeable and interesting, especially the two protagonists, Professor Susan Wells and the humanoid Cet Killgrace.

The plot is paced well, and the various problems the scientists must solve are realistic (from a scifi standpoint) and do not feel forced.

It is worth noting that this novella is firmly rooted in science.

Physics concepts, such as the Coriolis effect, are referenced and used to help the scientists come up with a solution for rescuing the gigantic aliens.

Although the novella is heavy on the science, it is by no means a physics textbook, and author does include fictitious creations, such as a tugboat-like ship called the Renshaw.

The novella’s basis in science and the elegant ways in which the scientists attempt to solve the problem make “Killgrace and the Singular Situation” a recommended read for any serious science fiction fan.
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Captured by Elizabeth Bolling

Elizabeth Bolling’s “Captured” intrigues with a cocktail of suspense and romance.

The novella follows Meredith Clarke, a consultant at a small marketing firm, who has philosophical thoughts about marriage and singleness as she approaches her third year of marriage.

Her thoughts are cast in a new light when she is kidnapped at a gunpoint, and during her captivity, there is much reflection about her life and relationships.

Bolling uses multiple perspectives to tell the story, including that of Meredith’s husband, Rob Clarke.

Although the plot is relatively linear, it is written in a way that has the reader wondering what happens next.

One of highlights of the novella is Bolling’s ability to incorporate interesting details, such as the décor of the kitchen, into her writing without being boring. The details make the story feel much more real.

The dialogue of the novel is also well-written, and the exchanges between Meredith and her kidnapper, as she tries to understand him, are particularly interesting.

Being a romance novella, there is no shortage of pages dedicated to romance and sex.

With Meredith’s husband having been involved in an affair in the past, the chemistry between Meredith and her husband is pleasantly uncharacteristic of the romance genre.

At its core, the novella is a romance piece that explores the ideas of fidelity and relationships, with a suspense-filled plot moving it forward. Anyone who is a fan of the genre will love “Captured.”

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Going Home by Kim Welsman

“Going Home,” the first book in a series, goes where few science fiction novels have gone before – with a female protagonist and antagonist– and executes in a way that will have all science fiction fans wanting more.

Kim Welsman’s 103-page novel is set on Earth a few hundred years from the present. The plot takes off when a sage-like alien, named Sygen, appears in front of a general, bearing a powerful gift and the message that the newly emerging Agency will be tremendously harmful to Earth.

Fast forward a few years, the determined protagonist, Lyrissa, is tasked with infiltrating the hateful yet powerful Agency to get in contact with Peggy, an enigmatic being with a mysterious agenda.

The novel’s plot is relatively simple, yet intriguing and engaging. It also almost has a spy novel feel to it, with secrets, targets, and contacts.

Welsman is able to build a world that is reminiscent of present Earth, but also has plenty of futuristic components. Welsman’s creations, such as the soma-like drug Zyloftin, help move the plot forward, as well as make the world more interesting.

The writing is punchy, with relatively short sentences and paragraphs, making the book an easy yet affective read.

The novel’s usage of females in a variety of strong roles is innovative for the genre, making the novel feel refreshing.

The combination of an intriguing plot, strong writing, and a fresh take on the genre make “Going Home” a worthy buy for any science fiction fan.

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Her Something Impetuous by Kim Hunt Harris

Kim Hunt Harris’ “Her Something Impetuous” shines with a brilliantly humorous and romantic take on the post-divorce life of a middle-aged woman from the suburbs.

The novel follows the adventures of Karen Way, a recent divorcee whose impetuous visit to a tattoo parlor results in a cascade of gripping, steamy, and humorous events.

Karen’s relationship with a dreamy bad-boy tattoo artist, Will Corcorran, begins when she impulsively decides to get a smiley tattooed on her buttocks. Despite the lighthearted beginning, the relationship quickly heats up, and Karen finds herself navigating her first post-divorce relationship.

In addition to the novel’s romance component, a subplot involving police raids, planted drugs, and a mysterious stripper emerges, taking the reader on a wild journey as Karen and Will travel all around town, from the police station to a drag queen club and everywhere in between, to make sense of everything.

To complicate matters further, Karen’s ex-husband, the local district attorney, and his new, young, sexy fling somehow seem to be involved with Karen’s misfortunes.

The reality of the novel is one of its strongest features. Despite the chaos that accompanies the development of Karen’s relationship with Will, Karen does not neglect the more mundane parts of her life, such as baking muffins for a neighborhood association event, which Harris addresses in a gut-wrenchingly hilarious manner.

The multiple layers of action, mystery, comedy, and romance make “Her Something Impetuous” a must-read for anyone who likes to get laughs and romance from the same book.

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Tainted by Helen Macdonald

“Tainted” by Helen Macdonald is a contemporary, scifi fantasy that explores the dark side of the human experience.

The first few chapters of the book are available for purchase on Amazon.

One of the highlights of the available chapters is Macdonald’s writing.

With fresh, crisp prose, she captures a wide range of human emotions.

The fantasy elements in “Tainted” allow Macdonald to flex her imaginative wings. The result is some extremely creative ideas, such as the Alternate Realm Variator and interesting conceptions of genetic alterations.

Despite the fantasy elements, Macdonald does not neglect developing her characters.

Her characters are extremely dynamic, and their dialogue is true-to-life.

The chapters give the reader an idea of what is to come. For instance, the character Reagan talks about being chosen for combat at age 10, and the reader anticipates action.

The rich plot is shown through a variety of perspectives. Each perspective gives the reader a new insight into some aspect of the plot. This technique is particularly powerful in showing both sides of the characters’ relationships.

The story is written in first-person, present tense, which allows the reader to have an intimate connection with the characters.

Overall, the available “Tainted” chapters will have readers clamoring for more.

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Vampire Elite by Irina Argo


Irina Argo’s “Vampire Elite” wows with intriguing mythology, fascinating characters, and a tantalizing plot.

Set in a variety of exotic locations, such as Greece and Venezuela, the book, follows the ages-long battle between vampires and the Amiti, a race created by the Egyptian goddess Hathor to unlock the love of vampires.

One of the novel’s strongest points is its usage of the interplay between relationships and politics to drive the plot forward.

Case in point, it is Simone, the child of the former Queen of the Amiti and the King of Vampires, who takes the initiative to protect the new Queen of the Amiti, Arianna.

The story shifts perspectives occasionally, giving the reader a spectrum of viewpoints, truly allowing a connection with the characters.

Although the plot is fast-paced, Argo does not neglect the lore behind the Amiti and the vampires, fully explaining their history and capabilities, such as the blood-bond.

The government structure of each group, such as the Amiti’s Keepers, play an important role in the plot and are described in a way that keeps the reader interested.

The tie in between the Amiti, the vampires, and Egyptian mythology is seamless and adds a layer of realism to the story.

One of novel’s strongest points is its emphasis on capturing emotion. For instance, the novel explores the conflicted feelings of Simone, who is half vampire and half Amiti, and her reservations about the vampire practice of enslaving Amiti for use as bloodstock

The novel is such a complete package that it’d appeal to anyone who loves a story with a fast-paced plot and fascinating characters, whether they like vampires or not.

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The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling


With strong writing and a diverse cast of characters, J.K. Rowling looks into the dark side of human nature in her novel, “The Casual Vacancy.”

Set in the picturesque English village of Pagford, the book practically reads as a response to the Harry Potter books, with a lack of the imaginative.

The book starts with the death of councilmember Barry Fairbrother.

The death creates a casual vacancy in the council that causes some characters to reach for power, while others are victimized.

The plot rockets into orbit following the death, only to fizzle out a few chapters later.
The book’s ending feels premature and overly dramatic.

Luckily, Rowling’s characters, a group representative of the town’s demographics, keep the reader interested.

The characters often move to the dark side of human behavior, pursuing casual sex and drug use.

The novel’s cast of characters and sharp writing more than make up for the weak plot, and the book is perfect for anyone interested in the human condition.

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