The Dungeoneers (John David Anderson) – Cover Reveal

21 Oct

Hey MG Squinks …  Scroll down to see the cover of John David Anderson’s new book, The Dungeoneers!  I’m really excited to read a new story by the scribe of Sidekicked and Minion.  Here’s a little something to whet your appetites:

Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day.
Teach him to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.
Teach him to steal, though, and he won’t have to eat fish every day for the rest of his life.

I think I’m gonna love the protagonist (especially if he’s got zippy zingers)!  The Dungeoneers is slated to release sometime in 2015, so until then, let’s enjoy speculating about what is (and isn’t) being revealed on the cover!

Thanks to Walden Pond Press for the awesome cover shot and to Novel Novice for the blurb (read more here).




John David Anderson’s Online Corners
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The Copernicus Legacy #1: The Forbidden Stone (Tony Abbott)

14 Oct

Copernicus Legacy - Forbidden Stone


Sometimes, I really wonder how I get so lucky discovering Great Reads. This time, I was doubly lucky, for not only did I discover a seriously unputdownable book, but I was sent a galley of it by the publisher. And, Squinks, let me tell you: for a hard-core bookworm like me, galleys of a fabulous story are more valuable—and more highly treasured—than any first-edition copy out there. After the third chapter of The Forbidden Stone, the first in a series of six novels and six interstitial novellas by Tony Abbott, I knew that I held a rare gem in my hands. How rare? I ran to Chapters to buy an official copy just so I could preserve my galley as best as possible (though, sadly, it had been dented in the mail before it reached me)!

Why did I purchase multiple copies of The Forbidden Stone for our library even before I had finished reading it? Because I knew you would all love it as much as I do! Let me tell you about it …


Copernicus Legacy


The Forbidden Stone is about four friends who unwittingly find themselves in a heart-pounding treasure hunt. Wade and Darrell are stepbrothers who, along with Wade’s dad (Roald), cousin (Lily), and her friend (Becca), travel to Germany for the funeral of Wade’s honorary uncle (Henry). Not-really-uncle Uncle Henry was Roald’s erstwhile professor and benefactor of Wade’s most cherished possession—a 17th-century star chart. Sound like a run-of-the-mill story? Well, Abbott keeps you on your toes, starting from the very first chapter. Check out these plot peeks:

1. Uncle Henry sends Roald a coded message the day he dies.

2. The only way to decode the message is to check Wade’s star chart, which Uncle Henry sent him for his seventh birthday.

3. A building collapses in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and an oil tanker sinks in the Mediterranean all around the same time as Uncle Henry’s coded message.

4. When they get to the funeral in Germany, strange people are watching their every move.

Not since the multi-author, multi-platform, multi-series 39 Clues saga have I been as excited to start another adventure series like this … and that’s saying a lot, considering you know how highly I regard The 39 Clues books and authors. Pick up The Forbidden Stone and mark on your calendars the release dates of the rest of the books. (The first novella, Wade and the Scorpion’s Claw, released this summer, and the second book, The Serpent’s Curse, came out just a couple of weeks ago!)  Join Wade, Darrell, Lily, and Becca for the adventure of a lifetime and discover more about the Copernicus Legacy.


Copernicus Legacy - Join the Hunt



Tony Abbott’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters

By the way, does Tony Abbott’s name sound familiar (besides being the name of that other guy who’s currently the prime minister of Australia)? That’s because he’s also the author of the totally awesome Secrets of Droon series!

Thank you, Katherine Tegen Books and Harper Collins for sending me a copy of
The Forbidden Stone.  All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are
entirely my own; I received no compensation for them.

Tomorrow’s Kingdom (Maureen Fergus)

2 Sep


There are few series that have gripped me from the get-go enough to compel me to be first in line at the bookstore to buy the sequel(s) on release day. And fewer still are the number of books that have kept a hold on my heart long after they’ve found a resting place on my bookshelf. Squinks, Maureen Fergus’ The Gypsy King trilogy fits squarely into both categories, and I strongly urge you to run very, very quickly to Chapters or Indigo and grab a copy of all 3 books if you don’t already have them!

Let me tell you about Tomorrow’s Kingdom, the finale of the series that gave me all the feels! A Fool’s Errand left off with such a jaw-dropping cliffhanger that I practically got papercuts from the speed with which I flipped through and devoured the pages of TK’s opening chapters. I literally—yes, literally—had to cover the pages on the right so that I would force myself to slow down and appreciate everything on the left. Otherwise, in my haste to find out what happens to Persephone when she goes against Azriel (again), I’d miss out on the fine nuances in Fergus’ writing that bring her story to life. We’ve talked about this in class many times before: What makes a story so good that you just have to share your new-found treasure with someone else? The content and the writing, exactly.

And peeps, let me tell you how Fergus scores not just the game-winning goal with TK, but the game-7-OT-Stanley-Cup-winning game-winning goal!


The Content

This book has:

1. Romance
Um, yeah. There were times when I wished I didn’t care about all the other characters so that I could skip the chapters without Azriel and Persephone. Their love story is just so charming and endearing … I want to read more and more and more of it.

2. Adventure
Forests, castles, glens, caves, rivers, waterfalls … all there!

3. Comedy
Azriel is my favourite, but all of Fergus’ characters have some great comedic nature that I laughed out loud so many times throughout this book. I LOLed alone, with friends, and among complete strangers in crowded rooms … and I laughed often!

4. Heartache
Every great love story has some heartache in it. I’ll let you discover this for yourself …

In short, TK has almost everything I’m looking for in a book. The only thing missing? Magic. But you know what? Fergus’ writing weaves everything together so flawlessly that there must’ve been some pixie dust sprinkled on these pages … which brings me to the other reason everyone should read TK


The Writing

Fergus’ writing is:

1. Intelligent
Fergus writes for an intelligent audience, and that is something I appreciate very much. She splashes her writing with a mix of complex and inverted sentences; she loves inserting rhetorical questions; and she makes her characters spout witty, well-timed one-liners, all of which add flavour to an already great story line.

2. Funny
I have found a kindred spirit in any author whose wit and dry humour flow easily across the page, and Fergus has tons of well-placed comedic scenes and one-liners that really strike to the heart of the matter. I love reading everything she writes.

3. Powerful
Check these out:

“[I]t was a truly lovely thing to be cherished by a man who had eyes for none but her and who acted as though she were more beautiful than the stars, more fragile than blown glass, and more precious than a bucketful of jewels.”

“Do this and though I cannot promise we will ever be friends, I can promise that I will honour you … now and forever.”

“It was as if, by mutual accord, they were avoiding speaking of the dangers tomorrow might hold that they might better enjoy the sweet, fleeting moments of today.”


For real, Squinks, you know how I always say, “If you want to be a better writer, read”? Well, read Fergus. Read this trilogy. Read everything else she’s written. I can try to teach you how to write well jusqu’à perpète, but it’s so much more effective and entertaining if you read this trilogy. You’ll walk away from TK feeling exhilarated about the ride you were on, a little sad at having to say goodbye to some new friends, and a lot in awe at the great fortune of having just read a masterpiece by one of Canada’s greatest authors.


Azriel and Persephone forever!



Maureen Fergus’ Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters

Prettiest Doll (Gina Willner-Pardo)

29 Aug

Prettiest DollA librarian friend of mine suggested I pick up a copy of this book, and the author, Gina Willner-Pardo, very kindly signed and sent me a copy.  This is one of those books that I probably would have passed over if I had simply been browsing Chapters for my Next Great Read, so I was glad that it was recommended to me.

Prettiest Doll is a sweet story about a 13-year-old girl, trapped in the clutches of the beauty-pageant world by her mama, whose resentment over her glitzy cage manifests itself into running away.  Olivia desperately wants to live a life that doesn’t include stiff dresses, stiff hair, and stiff smiles—no matter how many people tell her she’s beautiful.  So when a stranger comes to her small corner of Missouri, in the form of 15-year-old Danny, who’s also dealing with the trappings of his own cage, Olivia finds her ticket out of town.

There are a few things that I really enjoyed about this book that you might like as well.  First, I like that Olivia is not whiny.  It would’ve been very easy to write a character who complains about anything and everything under the sun, especially since Olivia does have something to complain about.  But I very much appreciated that despite her complaints, she doesn’t seem bratty or annoying.  She has genuine concerns about how her participation in pageants might affect the rest of her life.

Second, I liked having a bit of a backstage pass to view the life of a beauty queen between contests.  I wonder if Willner-Pardo ever participated in any pageants herself of if she knows someone who does.  I think, Squinks, what you’ll like is the fact that she tackles the "uncommon" situation of someone who’s good at something but who doesn’t actually want to participate in it.  We never think of that happening.  I mean, usually, if you’re good at gym, for example, teachers assume that you actually enjoy gym class.  I liked the fleshing out of Olivia’s character by giving her so many layers.  She wants to please her mom, knowing she easily could, but she doesn’t enjoy it and, instead, dares to think differently and deeply about her future.

The third thing I really enjoyed was the dynamic between Olivia and Danny.  Willner-Pardo nicely juxtaposes Olivia’s obstacles with Danny’s dilemmas to showcase the fact that despite being relatively similar in age, kids can have radically distinct—though somewhat related—problems.  And in talking about their lives and sharing their fears and hopes, these two people who might never have known each other if not for their chance encounter over milkshake, begin a friendship that I’m sure they will cherish for the rest of their lives.  I know it’s hard to think about making friends and leaving them, and although Willner-Pardo doesn’t indicate that Olivia and Danny will never meet again, in creating the character of Danny, the author highlights the existence of a rare and beautiful gift that sometimes we take for granted (or not even realize we have): Danny is one of those souls that walks into our lives, if but for a fleeting moment, but that nonetheless changes us forever.  I liked that Olivia and Danny discover more of themselves by getting to know one another.

Squinks, this is a nice story of friendship and growing up that you might like.  I did find some parts of it moving a little slowly—there was a moment when I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pick it up again after I was interrupted, but I was glad I did.  The ending is sweet and thought-provoking.  And parents, this is a great story to lead into discussions of physical appearances, expectations, and the true meaning of beauty—not to mention running away from home.  That being said, the irony isn’t lost on me about how I totally judged this book by its cover when I first saw it, which is the issue Olivia and Danny grapple with throughout the story.  But just as with other things, there’s so much more than meets the eye in this book.



Gina Willner-Pardo’s Online Corners
Website| Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters


Thank you, Gina Willner-Pardo and Clarion Books, for sending me a copy of Prettiest Doll.  All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own; I received no compensation for them.

Always, Abigail (Nancy J. Cavanaugh)

27 Aug

Always AbigailHey, Squinklebooks Squad!  I’ve got a great new book to recommend to you today.  Always, Abigail is a fantastic twist on the epistolary novel, and I think you’re really going to love it.  Who doesn’t love making lists to be more organized?  Nancy J. Cavanaugh has found a great way to engage both bookworms and reluctant readers alike by telling Abigail’s story in amusing, delectable bites.  So, to take a leaf from her book (get it, Squinks?):

Two Things I Loved About Always, Abigail

1. The plot is believable and relatable.  I don’t know anyone out there, girl or boy, who hasn’t experienced the drama of middle school.  My own middle-school experience was so colourful that I can pinpoint sixth grade as a defining year in my emotional growth.  Just like with Abigail, it was the year that began so promisingly, unravelled rapidly, and then ended with a few surprises.  I completely understand Abigail’s dilemma of trying to hang on to AlliCam whilst knowing that they were growing further and further apart.  And who wouldn’t have a hard time accepting a Gabby Marco as the teacher’s purposeful choice of Friendly-Letter-Assignment partner?  Gabby is a great character and, in some ways, is the star of the show for me.  She’s funny, rational, and authentic.  And, to be honest, I saw so much of my grade-6 self in her that I felt sad saying goodbye to her at the end.  I wonder if Cavanaugh will tell her story someday, too.

2. Cavanaugh’s voice is so well developed.  It really felt like Abigail was talking to me, and when the novel ended, I could still hear her making lists in my head.  Readers often take it for granted that different characters will sound differently from one another, but we forget that it requires talent, which Cavanaugh has in spades, to make this skill seem effortless yet effective.

Squinks, pick up this book: it will give you a glimpse into the grade-6 world of modern times.  Parents, this is a great segue into the topics of conformity, (mild) peer pressure, and dealing with classmates who are different in one way or another.



Nancy J. Cavanaugh’s Online Corners

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters


Thank you, Sourcebooks, for sending me a copy of Always, Abigail.
All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own;
I received no compensation for them.

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