Book Review: Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien

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Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien is an edgy new YA with an intriguing science fiction premise.

Vault of DreamersFrom the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.

The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success:  every moment of the students’ lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students’ schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What’s worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

The idea behind Vault of Dreamers is truly extraordinary — but the execution is less than exceptional. The book’s fast-paced start bogged down in the later chapters, as potential plot twists and subplots became dead-ends. And ultimately, the ending was far from satisfying — and in many ways, felt as if the author had written herself into a corner and had to scramble for a conclusion to the story.

If Vault of Dreamers is the first in a series, there is certainly potential for things to improve — but the ending of this book was not just disappointing, but felt like a cheat. When I read a book, I want to feel rewarded — and that never happened with Vault of Dreamers.

The real disappointment is that the book had such potential. The concept alone is massively intriguing — and O’Brien’s characters are entirely likeable. I would have happily spent more time with Rosie and her friends — had the circumstances of their story been different.

Vault of Dreamers is in stores September 16th.

Book Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

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I was sold on Jackaby by William Ritter by the publisher’s description alone: “Doctor Who meets Sherlock” — but when the book held-up to this comparison and far-exceeded my expectations? Well, you can call me a fan – a BIG fan.

jackaby“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion–and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

With a macabre crime investigation, witty banter, unexpected humor, and distinctly likeable characters, Jackaby won me over from the first page to the very last.

The publisher’s Doctor Who/Sherlock description is apt — with Jackaby’s Sherlock-like crime-solving skills and quirky Doctor-esque mannerisms, with Abigail serving as a sort of Watson/Doctor’s companion role with aplomb. And yet, as referential as Jackaby is to these comparisons — the book remains wholly unique. Jackaby, as a character, is fully realized — as is his plucky companion and our assertive narrator, Abigail, a thoroughly modern woman trapped in the 19th century.

I was enchanted by every moment in Jackaby, and when I wasn’t reading it, longed to return to its pages. And much as I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next — I wanted to prolong the reading experience as much as possible, so as to savor Ritter’s world and his characters all the more.

Jackaby is in stores September 16th.

Book Review: The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill

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A charming new middle grade adventure from author Kelly Barnhill awaits readers within the pages of her latest book, The Witch’s Boy.

witch's boyWhen Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging, bewitched river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. Sure enough, Ned grows up weak and slow, and stays as much as possible within the safe boundaries of his family’s cottage and yard. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic that Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it’s Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community.

In the meantime, in another kingdom across the forest that borders Ned’s village lives Áine, the resourceful and pragmatic daughter of the Bandit King. She is haunted by her mother’s last words to her: “The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his.” But when Áine and Ned’s paths cross, can they trust each other long enough to make their way through the treacherous woods and stop the war about to boil over?

With a deft hand, acclaimed author Kelly Barnhill takes classic fairy tale elements–speaking stones, a friendly wolf, and a spoiled young king–and weaves them into a richly detailed narrative that explores good and evil, love and hate, magic, and the power of friendship.

A powerful story about family and friendship, love and magic, The Witch’s Boy is as delightful for adult readers as it will be for younger audiences. Barnhill weaves an enchanting story in a fantastical realm that readers will love discovering, with plenty of adventure and intrigue mixed in for good measure.

The writing itself is smart, beautiful, and lyrical — drawing in the reader with each careful turn of phrase. And that’s good, because the story itself starts out slow — so as Barnhill’s writing hooks you, it takes a while for the pace to catch up. But once it does, the characters and the magic of the story will really keep you hooked, as each new chapter unfolds.

Get bewitched by The Witch’s Boy, when it hits stores on September 16th.

Book Review: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

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Tragedy and triumph collide in Jandy Nelson’s exhilarating new novel, I’ll Give You the Sun — a captivating and magical read. This was a book that captured me from the very beginning, and refused to let me go until I’d followed twins Noah and Jude through the rest of their incredible journey.

i'll give you the sunA brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant, fully alive, sometimes very funny novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

I have not felt so captivated by a novel in a long time. I’ll Give You the Sun is a book that took hold someplace deep inside of me while reading — and refused to let go, even after I’d finished the last page. It has stuck with me, and I continue to marvel over the beauty of Nelson’s writing and the enchantment of her characters and their stories.

It’s hard to put into words just how magical it was, the experience of reading I’ll Give You the Sun. It’s a story about love and family and truth; about art and expression. About finding out who you are, both as an individual and as part of a family, and as part of the world.

I’ll Give You the Sun is the kind of book that sweeps you away, and leaves you changed for the better having read it from start to finish. Look for it in stores on September 16th.

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper: Sailor’s Knots

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Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper takes place on an island off the coast of New England in the 19th century, where the whaling industry is king. With sailing such an important part of the story — and considering the book’s striking cover — we thought today we’d explore some of the most common types of sailor’s knots.

The Celtic Heart Knot

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This is the one you see on the cover of Salt & Storm. Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to create the Celtic heart knot, or watch this video tutorial:

Bowline Knot

bowline-300x269This knot has been used by sailors for over 500 years, and is considered one of the most essential knots for sailing and boating. (And for you landlubbers, it’s also the perfect knot for hanging a hammock!) See a step-by-step tutorial here, or watch this video tutorial:

Figure 8 Knot


Besides just being pretty, the figure 8 knot is used as a “stopper” to prevent the rest of your line from slipping out of sight. It’s also fairly easy to undo, although that also means it doesn’t always hold well compared to other “stopper” knots like the overhand knot.

Check out a step-by-step tutorial here, or watch the video:

Carrick Bend Knot


Almost like a double-figure 8, the carrick bend knot is used to link two lines together. Here is a step-by-step tutorial, or watch the video:

Anchor Hitch or Fisherman’s Hitch Knot

Used primarily for tying rope to an anchor or other item, here are instructions on how to tie one, or watch the video tutorial here:

Learn more knots here!

New YA Releases: September 9, 2014

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Here’s a look at some of today’s new YA releases:

no one needs to knowNo One Needs to Know by Amanda Grace

Sometimes, the cost of love is too steep

Olivia’s twin brother, Liam, has been her best friend her whole life. But when he starts dating, Olivia is left feeling alone, so she tries to drive away Liam’s girlfriends in an effort to get her best friend back.

But she meets her match in Zoey, Liam’s latest fling. A call-it-like-she-sees-it kind of girl, Zoey sees right through Olivia’s tricks. What starts as verbal sparring between the two changes into something different, however, as they share their deepest insecurities and learn they have a lot in common. Olivia falls for Zoey, believing her brother could never get serious with her. But when Liam confesses that he’s in love with Zoey, Olivia has to decide who deserves happiness more: her brother or herself?

hunt for the bamboo ratHunt for the Bamboo Rat by Graham Salisbury

Based on a true story, this World War II novel by Scott O’Dell Award winner Graham Salisbury tells how Zenji, 17, is sent from Hawaii to the Philippines to spy on the Japanese.
Zenji Watanabe graduates from high school in Hawaii and is recruited into the army as a translator because he speaks perfect Japanese. He is sent to Manila undercover as a civilian to gather information on the Japanese in the Philippines. If they discover his identity, he’ll be executed as a traitor. When captured, he maintains that he is an American civilian despite unthinkable torture. He also survives being lost in the jungle for months. Zenji’s time behind enemy lines is grueling, and his survival is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.
This is the fourth book in Graham Salisbury’s highly acclaimed Prisoners of the Empire series, which began with the award-winning Under the Blood-Red Sun. 

illusions of fateIllusions of Fate by Kiersten White.

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray.

rites of passageRites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty…no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time’s running short. Sam must decide who she can trust…and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

kiss of broken glassKiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick

Madeleine Kuderick’s gripping debut is a darkly beautiful and lyrical novel in verse, perfect for fans of Sonya Sones and Laurie Halse Anderson. Kiss of Broken Glass pulses with emotion and lingers long after the last page.

In the next seventy-two hours, Kenna may lose everything—her friends, her freedom, and maybe even herself. One kiss of the blade was all it took to get her sent to the psych ward for seventy-two hours. There she will face her addiction to cutting, though the outcome is far from certain.

When fifteen-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for mandatory psychiatric watch. There, Kenna meets other kids like her—her roommate, Donya, who’s there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems . . . for a moment.

falling into placeFalling into Place by Amy Zhang

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

blood of my bloodBlood of My Blood by Barry Lyga

Jazz Dent has been shot and left to die in New York City. His girlfriend Connie is in the clutches of Jazz’s serial killer father, Billy. And his best friend Howie is bleeding to death on the floor of Jazz’s own home in tiny Lobo’s Nod. Somehow, these three must rise above the horrors their lives have become and find a way to come together in pursuit of Billy. But then Jazz crosses a line he’s never crossed before, and soon the entire country is wondering: “Like father, like son?” Who is the true monster?
The chase is on, and beyond Billy there lurks something much, much worse. Prepare to meet…the Crow King.

of monsters and madnessOf Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author.

Summoned to her father’s home in 1820’s Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which he might be implicated. She is torn romantically between her father’s assistants-one kind and proper, one mysterious and brooding-who share a dark secret and may have more to do with the violent events than they’re letting on.

egg and spoonEgg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire

A fantasy set in Tsarist Russia.

Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. One of her brothers has been conscripted into the Tsar’s army, the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food. But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg — a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena’s age. When the two girls’ lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and — in a starring role only Gregory Maguire could have conjured — Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs

twyning, theThe Twyning by Terence Blacker

In a harsh and dangerous world, a rat and a boy must each choose their way as their fates become inextricably linked.

Efren is a young rat, unnoticed and timid among the kingdom of rats living in the London sewers. When the king dies, leaving the kingdom in upheaval, only Efren dares to journey into the human world, where he discovers a human doctor’s plan to destroy London’s entire rat population. Meanwhile, Peter, otherwise known as Dogboy, does odd jobs for both the scheming doctor and the town ratcatcher. But his gift for understanding animals — even rats — forces him to decide where his allegiances truly lie. Dogboy and Efren, along with the waifish girl Caz and her pet rat, Malaika, set out to test the strengths of friendship and loyalty against the gut-wrenching cruelties of the world.

evil librarianEvil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

#EvilLibrarian He’s young. He’s hot. He’s also evil. He’s . . . the librarian.

When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body! From best-selling author Michelle Knudsen, here is the perfect novel for teens who like their horror served up with a bit of romance, plenty of humor, and some pretty hot guys (of both the good and evil variety).

monstrous affectionsMonstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales ed. by Gavin J. Grant & Kelly Link

Fifteen top voices in speculative fiction explore the intersection of fear and love in a haunting, at times hilarious, darkly imaginative volume.

Predatory kraken that sing with – and for – their kin; band members and betrayed friends who happen to be demonic; harpies as likely to attract as to repel. Welcome to a world where humans live side-by-side with monsters, from vampires both nostalgic and bumbling, to an eight-legged alien who makes tea. Here you’ll find mercurial forms that burrow into warm fat, spectral boy toys, a Maori force of nature, a landform that claims lives, and an architect of hell on earth. Through these, and a few monsters that defy categorization, some of today’s top young-adult authors explore ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders.

With Monstrous Stories By
M. T. Anderson
Paolo Bacigalupi
Nathan Ballingrud
Holly Black
Sarah Rees Brennan
Cassandra Clare
Nalo Hopkinson
Dylan Horrocks
Nik Houser
Alice Sola Kim
Kathleen Jennings
Joshua Lewis
Kelly Link
Patrick Ness
G. Carl Purcell

winterkillWinterkill by Kate A. Boorman

Emmeline knows she’s not supposed to explore the woods outside her settlement. The enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, attacking at night and keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. Living with the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent.

When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it’s an opportunity for Emmeline to wash the family slate clean—even if she has eyes for another. But before she’s forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her into the woods, where she uncovers a path she can’t help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the village will kill to protect. Her grandmother followed the same path and paid the price. If Emmeline isn’t careful, she will be next.

paper airplanesPaper Airplanes by Dawn O’Porter

It’s the mid-1990s, and fifteen year-old Guernsey schoolgirls, Renée and Flo, are not really meant to be friends. Thoughtful, introspective and studious Flo couldn’t be more different to ambitious, extroverted and sexually curious Renée. But Renée and Flo are united by loneliness and their dysfunctional families, and an intense bond is formed. Although there are obstacles to their friendship (namely Flo’s jealous ex-best friend and Renée’s growing infatuation with Flo’s brother), fifteen is an age where anything can happen, where life stretches out before you, and when every betrayal feels like the end of the world. For Renée and Flo it is the time of their lives.

With graphic content and some scenes of a sexual nature, PAPER AEROPLANES is a gritty, poignant, often laugh-out-loud funny and powerful novel. It is an unforgettable snapshot of small-town adolescence and the heart-stopping power of female friendship.

For the comments: Which of today’s new YA releases are you most excited about?

Exclusive Cover Reveal & Contest: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

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Today, I am so thrilled to be sharing the exclusive cover reveal for The Devil You Know by Trish Doller, as  well as an excerpt and a GIVEAWAY that includes all three of Trish’s books — Something Like Normal, Where the Stars Still Shine, and one of the first ARCs of The Devil You Know.

Are you read for the cover?

No, really. Are you ready?




Well, okay then. Here it is:

devil you know

Gorgeous, no? And so, so perfect (I think) for this thrilling new YA novel. Here is the official synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and a friend to join them on a road trip, and it’s just the risk she’s been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

You can add the book on GoodReads here, and pre-order it on Amazon. Plus, connect with Trish Doller here:

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Want to win one of the first ARCs of The Devil You Know, plus Trish’s first two books? Start by telling everyone about the cover reveal for The Devil You Know:

  • Post the cover reveal on your blog, Tumblr, or other website & link back to the contest here!
  • Tweet about the cover reveal & contest
  • Follow Trish and Novel Novice on Twitter
  • Comment below & tell us what you think of the cover

See all the ways you can enter to win & submit your entries using the Rafflecopter form HERE!

One winner (U.S. only) will receive finished copies of Trish’s books Something Like Normal and Where the Stars Still Shine, as well as an advanced reader’s copy of The Devil You Know.

something like normal where the stars still shine devil you know

The contest runs through midnight (PT) on Sunday, September 14th. U.S. Only. Remember to share the cover for The Devil You Know as much as possible!

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And now here is an exclusive excerpt from The Devil You Know:

The Devil’s Chair is built into a low brick wall that surrounds a private burial plot consisting of two graves. One of the headstones has toppled over while the other is missing entirely, and the chair sits facing the graves. According to information Matt gleaned from the Internet, the chair is a mourning bench built by a man who wanted a place to sit while visiting his wife’s grave. A symbol of love, not evil. But in the dark, lit only by the narrow glow of the flashlight, I half expect to see the devil waiting there for us.

“What time is it?” I fall back to clutch Noah’s hand as Matt points the beam at his watch. I’m not usually scared of things that go bump in the night, but Joan’s warning creeps out from the corner of my brain where I’ve kept it tucked away all afternoon. What if there’s someone out here, lurking in the woods, waiting for urban myth chasers like us? Thinking about the gun in Joan’s premonition makes me shiver and Noah wraps his arm around my shoulder.

“We’ve got a couple of minutes,” Matt says. He places an unopened can of beer on the armrest of the big brick chair, an offering for the mythical devil who is supposed to drink it without opening the can––or, more realistically, for the person who will come along for the free beer after we leave. “Who’s going to sit?”

“Count me out,” I say.

“Aw, come on, Cadie.” Noah catches me up against him and pulls me down with him onto the chair. Straddling his lap. His hand steals beneath the back of my shirt and his mouth grazes my neck, making me shiver for a whole different reason. “I won’t let the devil get you.”

“You guys…” Matt sounds irritated.

“How do I know you’re not the devil?” I whisper to Noah, my lips touching his. I can feel his smile against my mouth, even in the dark.

“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t,” he whispers in reply as his fingers tiptoe up my back.

Matt counts down the seconds. “. . . three . . . two . . . one . . . midnight.”

Noah kisses me at that moment, holding me so close I can feel how much he wants me. His face is rough with stubble under my palms and his tongue warm and alive in my mouth. I sink so quickly when I’m around him, turning into an aching, hungry creature more frightening than any devil could be. And it isn’t until the sound of a revving engine splits the stillness around us that I realize we’re alone. Several of the buttons on my shirt are open and Matt is gone.

GoodReads | Amazon


Novel Novice Junior Guest Post: “The Moment Reading Mattered to Me”


Today, my friend and former co-worker Chad stops by to guest blog for this month’s edition of Novel Novice Junior. Chad is a new dad, and the co-creator of the Dads Who Diaper website & podcast.

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The Moment Reading Mattered to Me
by Chad Carter

I was not what you would call an avid reader growing up. Being I guess a “typical” boy, I spent more time outside running, playing, maybe even blowing up a few G.I. Joe’s from time to time. Books and reading weren’t necessarily on the forefront of my mind.

ChadBioHorizontalIt’s funny because it turns out my career would depend on reading. As a former TV news anchor I spent the majority of my day reading information, stories, and Tele Prompters. More accurately my title should should have been “news reader.” I spent four and a half hours a day reading to a live audience on TV. I say this because I never gave much thought to the importance of reading. It was always just something I did.

Then I had a watershed moment in my life that has forever changed and shifted my beliefs on the importance of reading and sharing the love of reading.

I became a father.

wyattHaving a child has given me an entirely new perspective on the impact reading can have. There are countless studies highlighting the importance of starting to read to your child even as a newborn. According to a recent study released by the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime.” What does that mean to me? It means as a parent it’s my job to help my child grow and develop as best they can. And it starts with reading.

As a new dad, I’m thankful for websites like Novel Novice and Novel Novice Junior. I may not be the best resource for reading material that suits him as he grows up, but the dedication of Sara and the team behind Novel Novice comes to my rescue. They give him a place to feel comfortable discovering the love of words on a page and importance of diving into a story to enrich his mind and life.

He will no doubt at times be a “typical” boy wanting to sprint outside to have fun. But as more research comes out on the importance of reading – even from a VERY early age – I look forward to developing a shared love of reading. Our nightly bedtime routine includes at least one board book a night. With a library of children’s books just waiting to be cracked open as he gets older.

Reading is a life long love. One I hope to get started early and become a passion for the rest of his life.

150x150DWDGraphicChad Carter is the co-founder of a comprehensive website dedicated to providing dads with information, reviews, tips, forums, podcast, and parenting humor. He’s also a regular contributor to writing about the joys and triumphs of parenthood.

Salt & Storm: 19th Century Whaling

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Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper takes place during the downturn of the whaling industry in the United States in the late 1860s. As we wait for the book’s official release later this month, here’s a bit more about the real-life world of characters Avery and Tane.

Whaling in the United States

1024px-Walfang_zwischen_1856_und_1907The first whalers in the U.S. were Native Americans on the Northwestern and Northeastern coasts — who usually hunted whales using longboats and harpoons.

As an industry, whaling in the U.S. dates back to the 17th century in New England. The industry continued to expand through the American Revolution and beyond, peaking between 1846-1852.

Despite being largely outlawed around the world, and conservation efforts, whaling still persists today — even in the United States, with indigenous tribes allowed to continue the practice under the International Whaling Commission’s exception for Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling.

Purposes of 19th Century Whaling

JonahspermBesides the use of whale meat as food, whaling served many purposes for people in the 1800s.

Throughout the 19th century, whale oil was primarily used for lighting homes and businesses (before the advent of petroleum and kerosene). Whale oil was also used as a lubricant for machinery.

Whalebone – or “baleen,” the long bristle-light keratin strips that hang from the top of whales’ mouths – was used to produce a number of common items, including buggy whips, fishing poles, corset stays, and dress hoops. Plastic, fiber glass, and other synthetic materials are now used for these items.

Actual whales’ bones were also used sometimes for carving or cutlery handles. Many sailors also carved onto the teeth of whales and filled in the designs with ink, a technique known as scrimshaw.

Geographical Landmarks

new bedfordNew Bedford, Massachusetts was one of the most important whaling ports in the world during the 19th century. Part of New Bedford’s importance in the whaling industry came from the invention of the toggling harpoon by resident Lewis Temple. In Salt & Storm, Kulper based the fictional town of New Bishop on New Bedford.

Other major ports in the U.S. whaling industry included Nantucket, Massachusetts and New London, Connecticut.

Despite the decline of the whaling industry in the 1860s, the industry did not die out completely for many years to come. New Bedford sent out its last whaler in 1927.

Downturn of the Whaling Industry

1871_Whaling_DisasterAs noted in Kulper’s author’s note at the end of Salt & Storm, the whaling industry in the U.S. took a major decline after the Civil War. Some of the contributing factors include:

  • The discovery of petroleum & kerosene as an alternative to whale oil
  • The Whaling Disaster of 1871 – in which 33 U.S. whaling ships were trapped off the northern coast of Alaska and eventually abandoned (and the overall increasing dangers of whaling conditions in the Arctic); amazingly, no one died during the disaster of 1871, but it dealt a major blow to the whaling industry
  • The California Gold Rush (which lead to many whalers quitting to head west in search of riches)

More recently, environmentalists and conservationists have pushed to continue the ban on whaling to protect the endangered whale species. The say that whaling is both cruel and unsustainable. Some pro-whaling countries, such as Japan, Norway, and Iceland are still pushing to have the ban lifted.



Book Review: Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

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Whaling and magic collide in this intoxicating tale of love, destiny, and family — taking place during the downturn of the whaling industry in the late 19th century. Transporting readers to a cloudy seaside village, located on an island off the coast of New England, Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper is as enchanting as the spells cast by the witch of Prince Island.

Kulper_Salt&Storm_HCA sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder–and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she’s to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane — a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

Kulper sets the stage for her saga with a vivid setting: it’s so easy to imagine yourself on Prince Island, with her descriptions of the sea, the rocky paths, the docks, the salty air, the seagulls soaring overhead, the cloudy weather. And once transported to this other place — and this other time — Kulper wraps you up in her intoxicating story and bewitching romance.

I ached to know what would happen next to Avery and Tane, and that made it near impossible to put down Salt & Storm – even after I’d finished reading the last page, and wanted more, more, more. (Good thing there is a prequel on the way!)

Salt & Storm is a story about finding love in unexpected ways; about destiny and truth and family — and all the misguided, murky things we’ll do to protect the ones we care about most.

Salt & Storm is in stores September 23rd.