The art and science of manipulation has been formally and informally studied and dissected a countless number of times.
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A World of Wonder by Brent A. Ford and Lucy McCullough Hazlehurst is an educational combination of photographs and poetry, designed to be enjoyed by parents and children together. Giving the latter an interest in the world and to act as a starting point for appreciating its wonders. It consists of 41 high-quality, color images of nature and natural phenomena across the globe, each paired with a relevant, short poem – some newly written for the book, and some classics. The interactive copy has links to further information related to each photo.
The first thing that struck me was the quality of the photos, which are expertly-framed, beautiful shots of a range of animals, scenery, and weather across the globe, as well as views from beyond the upper atmosphere. As an adult, I still wonder at many of them, so it must be magical for a child. They evoke multiple emotions – some are dramatic, some cute, some calm – but all are of a suitable nature for young children, as should be expected.
The accompanying poems are apt for the stated age range of 3-8, and grade level K-2; they’re short, accessible and fun to read aloud. Some are humorous, while many are more instructive about the habits of animals or natural processes. They match well with the photos, and explore different aspects of life on Earth.
The combined variety of photos and poems are ideal for promoting conversation of all kinds between parents and children; it’s easy to tell that the authors have experience in education. Not just parents, but teachers could certainly get a lot of use out of this book, too.
It’s not particularly long, and because it’s designed to be picked up and put down, it seems perfect for different attention spans and available periods of time. It could be used at bedtime, or for car journeys.
The amazing choice of photographs enables you to revisit this book many times, so parents can ask different questions to highlight different points and to introduce more complex ideas as their child grows. This flexibility of use would is a huge draw for parents. It would be ideal for guessing games – trying to remember the photo from the poem, or even the poem from the photo. Budding artists could get some great inspiration from it, and it could be a very useful starting point for crafting projects or for guided research about animal habits and habitat.
I appreciate the authors’ aims and the work that they have put into the book in order to achieve them. A World of Wonder truly delivers on the wonder that it promises.
Pages: 88 | ASIN: B072LJWBSZ
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In the lobby of a prestigious Wall Street investment firm, one man is dead and another seriously injured. The man accused of the crime now a fugitive.
When the Director of the FBI personally orders Special Agent Sean Kruger to New York City to find the fugitive, Kruger questions the reason. Told to shut up and do his job, he starts looking into the case. What he finds is troubling. Eye-witness accounts seem contrived with little variance between individual testimonies. The more he hears, the more he feels someone is manipulating the story.
As the investigation unfolds, he discovers the only information known about the fugitive is a HR file from a former employer. Public records of the man do not exist.
The fugitive is a ghost. A ghost who has disappeared.
When Kruger unearths information the investment firm lied about the incident in the lobby, he learns there is a possibility the fugitive was defending himself. He also discovers another individual is searching for the fugitive. An individual who has no interest in allowing the truth to be discovered.
When the cat and mouse game turns lethal, Kruger must use all of his skills and experience to find the truth, protect the fugitive, and ultimately stay alive.
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Have you ever imagined what it would be like to live inside your favorite video game? Karen Glista’s novel, Embellished, the first novel in The Chronicles of Orian trilogy, takes us on a wild ride with a story about teens who find themselves inside the world of the M.M.O.R.P.G. game, The Battle of Orian. While playing the game during a lightning storm, Bekka, Travis, and Matt are suddenly transported into the antiquated world of Orian. Bekka, a teen suffering from a rare genetic disease, finds herself fully healed from her earthly ailments and rises up the royal rankings. Meanwhile, her brother, Travis, and his friend Matt continually search for an escape back to Earth. Their only hope for escaping this world is finding the only other human from Earth, also trapped in the game, before they’re all killed by dangerous creatures.
Embellished is so much more than a fantasy/paranormal romance with a fair amount of compelling, steamy scenes. Embellished transcends genre boundaries through incorporating elements of adventure, suspense, and gruesome battle scenes. What makes it even more exciting to read is the development of its deeply complex characters and intricately woven plot with twists that’ll leave you gasping.
The novel opens with a group of teens playing The Battle of Orian on a stormy night in Texas, when lightning strikes their home and catapults the teens into the world of the game. Little do they know that their real-life bodies on Earth are rapidly deteriorating. Luckily, they know how to defeat evil spiders, bears, and violent Vadarcs, a sub-human species.
While the novel begins by focusing on Travis, who becomes the leader of the group, the perspective shifts to his sister, Bekka. She starts as a somewhat timid, soft-spoken individual, as her body on Earth was ravaged by the rare Marfan’s disease, but once she begins to find her voice, Bekka truly blossoms into a bold, outspoken, and open-minded heroine. I thought that it made the story so much more compelling to give Bekka these strong character traits, since it added suspense to the decisions she had to make.
Glista does a great job of capturing the inner feelings that any person would have when faced with a love triangle. Bekka befriends Atharia and even becomes betrothed to Atharia’s brother, the devastatingly handsome Vallas. But during a harrowing attack, she and Atharia are taken captive by a belligerent Vadarc tribe. After she meets Zandar, a half-Human Vadarc who exudes masculinity and passionate sensuality, Bekka wonders if she can ever go back to her life with Vallas again. She has the chance to choose between Vallas and Zandar – attracted to the different qualities within both men, she is torn between her desire for passionate, romantic love, or for safety and security.
Glista also masterfully incorporates multiple themes that add multiple layers to the novel. For example, Bekka discovers that there are deeply entrenched discriminatory practices between the Humans and Vadarcs, and after learning the history of the Vadarcs, Bekka begins to preach open-mindedness to her Human friends. I thought this was an extremely vital and current theme to have as it relates pretty directly to racial issues within today’s world.
As the first novel in the Chronicles of Orian trilogy, Embellished provides a bit of closure at the end, but it’ll definitely be interesting to see what happens to Bekka, Travis, and Matt in the next installment.
Pages: 302 | ASIN: B01M5BZVQ1
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Coffin Dodgers takes place on a pre-historic world where thrill seeking competitors fight to be the last man standing. What was the inspiration for the Survivathon the characters must survive?
The story as a whole sprung from a nightmare I had where I was trapped amongst rapids with a bunch of other people, and we were being stalked by predatory dinosaurs – a bit like Jurassic Park! The dream was so vivid that I plotted out a simple outline immediately. As with many of my stories, I weave in a lot of ideas from books, films and experiences in life. I’m fascinated by people who drive themselves to the limits and it seems like extreme sports are springing up left, right and centre. The sports in the story, such as wing-suiting and volcano boarding actually exist and the dangers are very real. Recently, I was reading that two experienced wing suiters died in the US after attempting a risky drop. I imagined a future where this Type T mentality is extrapolated even further. Wouldn’t earth’s challenges seem a bit tame by the year 3154? The rest of the story basically wrote itself and incorporated the horror element of two contestants going rogue and using the whole event as a hunt to satisfy their psychotic desires.
This competition takes place on a dangerous planet called Atrocitas. Where the plants and animals are just as eager to kill as the competitors. What drove the development of this planet and how did that change as you were writing?
I’m a zoologist by training so I have always been fascinated by the living world. One fact I wasn’t aware of until a few years ago, was that at the time of the dinosaurs, grass and other cereal plants had not evolved. Much of the world was covered in more primitive plants such as cycads and ferns. So I researched the Cretaceous period to try and lend some authenticity to the flora and fauna. It was fun inventing the challenges for the ‘Coffin Dodgers’, from the peak known as the ‘Tooth’ to the white water rapids of the ‘Angelwater.’ The setting, the characters and the nature of the challenges worked together to produce what I hope is a fast-paced story.
The contestants range in gender, nationality, and skill-set. They can either work together to survive, or split up to try to win the whole bounty. What were some of the emotional and moral guidelines you followed when creating your characters?
I wanted to stretch myself and write a female lead character, together with a multi-cultural cast that might reflect a more homogenised society in the future (although recent world events seem to show that this is a long way off yet.) The T-type or ‘Coffin Dodger’ mentality is very different from your average person in the street. They crave and live for that adrenaline rush, the dopamine infusion that comes from confronting death full in the face. Such an extremely competitive spirit can, of course, lead to selfishness as everything else is given second place to being the best of the best. This tension is explored in the relationship between two of the main characters, Wade and Eden. They are from the same mould and are engaged to be married, so they think they understand each other’s life goals and motivations and accept them. However, the circumstances they find themselves in challenge this assumption. What is more important, relationships with your fellow men or the prize of knowing you are the number one multi-athlete in the world? Other characters are conflicted in terms of their desire to survive. Are they likely to increase their chances if they go it alone, or is it better to work together as a team? I think it’s fair to say that none of the characters are completely black and white in terms of their morality, and all of them are changed by the terrors they face on Atrocitas.
What is the next book that you’re writing and when will it be published?
I’m already half way through writing the sequel to my first dark fantasy novel. It’s the second book in the Psychonaut trilogy and will be called ‘Demon-Slayer’. This should be out in the late Summer. In the meantime I’m committed to getting my previous books, including Coffin Dodgers out on audio. I narrate my own books as well as produce for other authors and have a profile on Audible/ACX. So I’ve got a lot to keep me busy in the next six months!
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The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Bean Takes a Walk by Ann Bevans & Matthew Ethan Gray
Mother Athina by Danny Estes
Game Over by Derek Eddington
Beyond Cloud Nine by Greg Spry
The Second Sphere by Peter Banks
Seed of Treachery by C.A. MacLean
Wolves Among Sheep by Steven Pajak
Chaste: A Tale From Perilisc by Jesse Teller
The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana by Katlynn Brooke
“When I look at a book, I see the history of books, old tomes with sacred knowledge. The authorities that controlled the books controlled the people. Books brought the old world to order. My books are how I bring my life and my thoughts to order, the only lasting way I can see to impart wisdom and ask questions.” – Jesse Teller author of Chaste
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‘The game’, as it’s called in the book, gives egocentric narcissists with impulse control issues something to do with their free time. It’s a game with real world consequences and real world rewards. HP is a recent inductee into the game and quickly finds himself the center of attention for his criminal exploits done in the name of the game. But one rule of the game, like Fight Club, is you don’t talk about the game. When HP breaks the rule he becomes the target of other players that are trying to come up through the ranks. To stay alive HP has to separate fact from game fiction. He starts seeing the tentacles of the game all around him. The game is everywhere, the game is everyone; you are either a player or a pawn.
There are two main characters in the book; HP and his sister Rebecca. HP is the stand out character in the novel, someone you love to hate for his selfish and arrogant ways, but his love for his sister grounds him and spotlights his humanity. Most of the entertainment in the book surrounds HP and his work for or against the game. Rebecca’s character seems to serve the purpose of telling the families tragic back story, and in these instances the novel seems to suffer from slow uninteresting story telling. Even the moments where Rebecca is not lamenting her past she’s stuck describing her ordinary encounters at work or at home. Her story is interesting only in those rare moments where her story intersects with HP’s. The only reason why I gave this a rating of 3 out of 5 is because Rebecca’s story takes up about half the book. On the other hand there’s HP: smart, witty, resourceful and generally a jerk. His story is really the backbone of the novel. He’s uncovering secrets of the rich and powerful, evading the police, vandalizing, fighting, terrorizing and running for his life all in the name of the game.
The book is a translation from a Swedish book called, Geim. I didn’t see any hiccups in the translation. Dialogue seemed a bit awkward at times, but I doubt that’s due to translation issues. One thing was odd for a Swedish book; there was a lot of references to US culture and locations. I wonder if these were inserted for an American audience or if it was in the book the whole time and my world views are just very limited or depreciating to the US, lol.
Paperback: 368 pages
Published: December 5th 2013 by Blue Door