Cover Reveal: The Night is Found by Kat Kruger

The Night is Found reveal

The Night is Found by Kat Kruger
Book three in The Magdeburg Trilogy
Publication date: July 22, 2014 from Fierce Ink Press Co-op Ltd.

Read my reviews of books one and two here and here.
I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this one! Great story line aside, I think this trilogy has one of the best cover designs – I really do love them.

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Feature: Kat McGee and the School of Christmas Spirit

Kat McGee Kat KcGee and the School of Christmas Spirit
by Rebecca Munsterer
Publication: November 2013 from In This Together Media

If Kat McGee had one Christmas wish, she’d wish to be special. Instead, she’s the boring middle in a family packed with sparkly siblings, including three sisters who have all starred as Mary in Totsville, Maine’s annual big-deal Christmas Pageant. All Kat’s done is wet her pants on a rollercoaster and earn herself the horrible nickname, “Kat McPee.” When she doesn’t get the part of Mary, Kat’s convinced that Christmas will be just another Kat McPee failure. But then Kat’s beloved Gram lets it slip that she went to school with Mrs. Claus. The Mrs. Claus. Before Kat knows it, a magical snowglobe whisks her away to the North Pole, where she makes friends, checks naughty and nice lists, and takes classes in cookie baking, reindeer training, and toy designing. It’s a Christmas miracle… But something is wrong. The North Pole is being threatened, and only Kat McGee can help. Kat McGee and The School of Christmas Spirit is about a modern girl in a magical adventure. Kat is about to learn who you can be if you believe in Christmas…and yourself.

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Thanks to JKSCommunications and Rebecca Munsterer, I have a wonderful recipe to share with you today. At the back of each Kat McGee book is a recipe created by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, and to help with the candyfruit recipe in the back of The School of Christmas Spirit is Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery.

The recipe for Candyfruit comes to you from the kitchens of Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery. Pure ingredients mixed together in thoughtful and creative ways, this New York City-based bakery transports the curious on a delectable journey of mystery & desire. http://www.mahzedahrbakery.com

Yield: approximately 3/4 pound of candied fruit
3 large oranges
4 cups water
4 cups granulated sugar + 1 cup granulated sugar for coating the peel
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces (or you can use dark chocolate chips)

Rinse oranges under cold water, then wipe them dry. Cut about a quarter-inch o! each end of the orange. With a sharp paring knife, cut through the peel and into the white pith. Slice through the peel from the top of the orange to the bottom. Cut almost all the way through the pith but stop before you get to the fruit. Make that same cut about a quarter of the way around the fruit, making a total of four cuts into the orange. Cut a shallow cut into the top of the orange at the edge of the peel, all the way around the orange. These cuts are meant to create sections that you can peel o! easily. Wiggle your finger between the orange and the peel. Work your finger down under the peel to separate the peel from the fruit. Once you’ve removed the whole peel section, repeat the finger wiggle thing on all the other peel sections. Do the same with the other oranges.

Slice each piece of orange into thin strips, each a little less than a centimeter wide.

Now, blanch the orange peels. This is done to take the bitterness out of the pith. Boil a few inches of water in a medium sized pot over high heat. Once the water is boiling, drop in all the sliced orange peels. Stir the slices to soak them in the water. Boil for 20 minutes. Drain the peel pieces in a colander. Run under cold water until the peels are cool to the touch, for about a minute. Now simmer the peel pieces in the sugar syrup. Put 4 cups water and 4 cups sugar in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot. Whisk to combine. Over high heat, bring the syrup up to a boil. Whisk occasionally until all the sugar melts. Once the sugar syrup is boiling, carefully add the balanced peels to the pot. Be very careful when adding in the peel pieces so as to not get burned. Stir the peels a bit. Maintain a rolling boil (lower the heat a little) and boil the peels for 45 minutes. Keep checking the pot, especially after 30 minutes, to ensure the pot doesn’t boil over. When the peels are done, they will be translucent and look clear and jellied. Now drain and dry the orange peels. Take a baking sheet and lay paper towel on it. Then place a cooling rack on top of the paper towel-lined baking sheet. This will catch all the dripping syrup. Using a fork, take out a few pieces of peel at a time. Set the pieces on the prepared rack to drain. Repeat until all the peel pieces are on the rack. Separate the pieces out so they’re not touching. Let the peels drip dry for about 15 minutes.

Now decide if you want to dip the pieces in chocolate or roll in sugar. For all the pieces you want to eat without chocolate, you will roll them in sugar. Separate out the pieces you want to dip in chocolate. For the others, put 1 cup of sugar in a medium- sized bowl. Drop a few pieces of the peel into the sugar.

Roll the pieces around to coat them all over. Shake o! the excess sugar and place on a clean cooling rack set on top of a baking sheet covered in paper towel (don’t put them back on the original rack because that one is already full of sticky syrup!).

Repeat this process with the rest of the peels you’re not dipping in chocolate. Space them out so they’re not touching. Leave them uncovered overnight to dry out. If you just can’t wait, place the sugar-coated peels on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 200 degree oven for 15 minutes. That should
dry them out faster. If you want to dip the peel pieces in chocolate, melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl at high power for 1 minute. Remove the bowl and stir the chocolate. If it’s not fully melted, put the bowl back in the microwave and heat for an additional 30 seconds. Remove and stir until the chocolate is completely smooth. After the peels have dried for 15 minutes, take the peels one at a time, hold at one end and dip them into the melted chocolate. Leave about 1/4 to 1/2 of the peel naked, and cover the rest in chocolate. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet to set and dry overnight.

Now don’t forget, you have some delicious orange-flavored syrup. You can use it to flavor sparkling water, iced tea, and for the parents, some wonderful cocktails!

Find Kat McGee
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter – Author | Twitter – Publisher | Amazon | Book Depository

Review: Heartfelt Letters from Santa by Veronica Christine Steck

Letters from Santa Heartfelt Letters from Santa
by Veronica Christine Steck

ISBN-13: 9-780989-915625
Publication: October 2013 from St. Nick’s Publishing
Source: JKSCommunications

The magic of Christmas for children is embodied in Santa Claus. This book shows you how to capture that magic by writing a personal letter from Santa for the child or children who are special to you.

Letters from Santa can describe situations your child has been in, recount good deeds he or she has done, make suggestions for improving behavior, and generally inspire your child in positive directions you see for them.

The finely crafted companion volume is where you will write this special letter each Christmas Eve, after your child has brought their book of Santa’s letters to its honored place near the Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, the whole family can gather around as your child discovers what Santa has written just for them.

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Heartfelt Letters from Santa by Veronica Christine Steck and the accompanying My Letters from Santa Through the Years is a very neat non-fiction book about beginning the tradition of Santa replying to your child’s letter to him.

Now yes, if you send a letter to Santa in the mail you usually get a reply (at least you do where I live) but they are fairly generic and can only really make reference to what the child wrote in their own letter. Through this book, Veronica Steck has outlined a way to let your child(ren) receive a personalized and sincere letter back from Santa. She talks about how to introduce the concept to your child(ren) and then provides samples of that very first letter from Santa and sample sentences to get you started, from praise, accomplishments, spirituality, family, encouragement and everything in between. She even provides ideas for gentle reminders and ideas for how to “be good” in the upcoming year.

The back of the book is a journal of sorts for parents to keep track of significant moments during the year that they can then make mention of in the letter from Santa, while the accompanying book is where the letters will be actually written – a book from Santa, just for this purpose. The layout of the book is done very well, and is quite easy to comprehend and follow. I love the samples she gives, as I am a person who always struggles to get voice and tone when trying to write as someone else. She even talks about how to word your letters for different age groups, and growing up as Santa along with the child(ren).

I really like this idea and will definitely have to remember it for when I have children of my own. It’s a small tradition, but one that can be very significant for a child. I know I always loved those generic letters from Santa. I personal one would be so much more exciting.

Guest Post: CJ Lyons author of Broken

Broken Please welcome CJ Lyons to Escape Through the Pages! Today, CJ will be talking about what it is like working in an ER. Please come back later for a review of her novel Broken.

Books
Broken (2013)
Snake Skin (2010)
Nerves of Steel (2009)
Lifelines (2008)
and more

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CJ: Becoming a doctor was amazing—I come from a small town in Pennsylvania and worked three jobs to put myself through medical school—but becoming a writer was a dream I’d had all my life, so being able to make it come true has been fantastic beyond words.

My writing career hasn’t been smooth sailing, in many ways it’s as hard as being a doctor (I actually work longer hours now!) but it has been fulfilling in so many ways.

As a doctor the greatest rush came from those rare moments when I actually saved a life. As a writer I get the chance to touch hundreds of thousands of lives—and I can’t begin to describe the feeling I get when I hear from fans about how my stories have done more than provide entertainment but have inspired or empowered them. Talk about your dreams come true!

But real life in the ER isn’t always that exciting—and definitely not as glamorous as they portray it on TV. For instance, the popular TV show Grey’s Anatomy has interns, who’d be maybe 25 years old, sleeping with “world renown” surgical attendings…well, to be a “world renown” neurosurgeon you’d have to have 12 years of primary education, 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 7 years of residency, probably another 3 year fellowship, and then be in practice a long time, at least 5-10 years…so the 25 year old intern’s love interest would be old enough to be her father! Gross!

Not only that, a surgical intern doesn’t have time to sleep or bathe (interns eat on the run) so sex isn’t the first thing you think of doing when you finally do make it to a call room.

Don’t even get me started on stories where a “doctor” can do everything from take x-rays (99.9% of us wouldn’t even know where the “on” button is) to diagnose rare diseases from glancing into a microscope to doing brain surgery one minute and heart surgery the next…while I love the idea of doctors being heroes, let’s at least make us human.

Real life in the ER is a lot of hard, hard work—and it’s teamwork that counts. The ER is a crucible that exposes the worst and best in people. My seventeen years of practicing medicine gave me the chance to witness courage first hand and really see what it takes for ordinary people to step up and become heroes. I owe so much to my patients and their families for teaching me the true meaning of courage, love, faith, and strength.

Those years also gave me the opportunity to work alongside men and women who became my heroes: police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, social workers, prosecutors…As well as a chance to come face to face with evil, whether in the form of sociopaths, sexual predators, even killers.

All of these experiences have influenced my writing and are why I chose to write what I call Thrillers with Heart. Fast paced novels that aren’t about the car chases and explosions as much as they are about the people and their relationships while focusing on a truth I discovered for myself during my time as an ER doctor: Heroes are born everyday.

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CJ Lyons About CJ:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-one novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.

Winner of the International Thriller Writers’ coveted Thriller Award, CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday).

Learn more about CJ’s Thrillers with Heart at www.CJLyons.net.

Guest Post: Helen & Thomas Docherty – The Snatchabook

Please welcome Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty to Escape Through the Pages! Helen has a post for us on the inspiration behind the character of the Snatchabook and Thomas has provided some early illustrations of the Snatchabook’s design.

Snatchabook Helen: I have always been drawn to characters that transgress in some way – characters that are flawed, but not beyond redemption. Dr Seuss’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas has always been one of my favorite children’s books, and was definitely an influence in the creation of the Snatchabook (although they are, of course, very different characters). I am also interested in outsiders, and how their arrival impacts on a community (a theme also explored in our next book, Abracazebra).

The idea of a book thief who steals children’s bedtime stories popped into my head at the end of a long day of trying (and failing) to think up interesting storylines. A book cruncher? A book snatcher? No, a Snatchabook! Almost immediately, I saw the potential to develop the story as a mystery with plenty of suspense, a brave heroine and a twist in the tale – namely, that the Snatchabook is just a pitiful little creature, whose motivation for stealing all the books is simply that is he is desperate to be read to; to be included in the cosy bedtime world of Burrow Down. When you read to your own children and see their faces light up when they’re listening to a good story, the idea of any child being excluded from that experience is almost unbearable.

Tom and I had a lot of fun developing the character of the Snatchabook visually. I had an image in my head of a sort of bush baby with long, delicate wings and a long tail, and Tom set to work drawing sketches. He interpreted it so brilliantly that it looked like a creature that already existed. Here are his earliest sketches:

Snatchabook_01

Review: Glasswings: A Butterfly’s Story by Elisa Kleven [blog tour]

Glasswings Glasswings: A Butterfly’s Story
by Elisa Kleven

ISBN-13: 9-780803-737426
Publication: April 2013 from Dial
Source: JKSCommunications
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Claire, a glasswing butterfly whose transparent wings reflect her lush home, finds herself lost in the city after being separated from her family. She doesn’t know how they will ever see her, but she finds new city friends, a pigeon, an ant, and a ladybug, who search for the flowers Claire needs to live. They come upon a tiny urban garden, and as Claire drinks from the flowers’ nectar, she pollinates more flowers. Soon the garden—and Claire’s clear wings—fill with color, allowing her family to recognize her at last. Together they create an oasis for all to enjoy.

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As an educator and a reader, Glasswings: A Butterfly’s Story by Elisa Kleven appealed to me in a number of ways. The beautiful illustrations highlight the story of Claire, a glasswing butterfly who finds herself separated from her family. She makes the best of her situation and everything turns out ok for Claire in the end.

The story of Claire’s journey is filled with wonderful tidbits of information on not just glasswing butterflies, but the role that butterflies and other animals and insects (like pigeons, ants and ladybugs) play in nature. So even though Claire has been whisked away from her family and home, she begins to create a new home around her, through new friends and a small abandoned city lot with a few flowers in it. 4 heartIt’s a nice story of making the most of a situation, maintaining hope and forming new friendships all with an educational background of environment.

Glasswings: A Butterfly’s Story by Elisa Kleven works perfectly with the curriculum in my area. Primary and grade one learn about habitats and life cycles, and many of the classes even hatch moths or butterflies. This story will fit in perfectly, and I can’t wait to read it out loud to them!

Find ELisa
Website | Goodreads | Amazon

KlevenVBT

Hardcover copy provided by JKSCommunications as part of a blog tour in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Review: The Camp by Karice Bolton [blog tour]

The Camp The Camp
by Karice Bolton

ISBN-13: 9-781484-027028
Publication: 2013 from Createspace
Source: author / Forward Literary
Rating: 2 ♥ / 5 ♥ – it was okay
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Emma has always tried to be perfect in her almost eighteen years of existence, but it has never been good enough. As she finds herself counting the days until she’s officially free from her parents’ reins, her stepfather hands her a plane ticket explaining that she must attend the Re-Boot Camp in the wilds of Alaska.

Once she lands in the middle of nowhere, she realizes the camp is nothing like she imagined, and she wants out immediately. That is until she meets Liam.

The camp is full of teens with dark pasts, but she finds herself drawn to Liam’s ability to see who she really is and who she wants to become. While Emma and Liam begin adjusting to a place neither wants to be, frightening events begin to unfold. When people begin disappearing, it becomes apparent they can only trust one another as they fight for survival.

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My opinion is definitely the minority on this one, but The Camp by Karice Bolton – while having an interesting premise and solid writing – just did not really work for me. It certainly delivers on the synopsis, and I had no problems with Karice Bolton’s writing style, but there were things that did not add up and the book was very quick, plot-wise.

First and foremost, I enjoyed the premise. Emma is sent to ReBoot, a camp for juvenile delinquents, even though she is not one – let’s just say a wicked step-father and uninterested mother comes into play here. While at the camp, Emma finds romance and danger in spades. The book had some very creepy moments and some very swoon-worthy moments. But what ties them all together had issues. At the beginning is the question of why this camp of juvenile criminals is co-ed. That right there seems to be a bad decision (as is shown by a moment of sexual assault near the beginning). Likewise, how did Emma who has no criminal record get sent to this camp? Wouldn’t that be something the people who run the camp look into? Questions, I has them.

Insta-love is not my thing. While I have no problems with a dive-right-in romance if it’s well-formed, insta-love with no real explanations as to why makes me frown. Emma and Liam don’t even really know each other. For all Emma knows, Liam’s a criminal and for all Liam knows, Emma is! And when she says she is not, they all believe her immediately and Emma kind of joins the camp leaders. It isn’t long after the romance begins and the stage is set that the creepy stuff starts happening. Emma seems to be being stalked by an un-known guy (camper? Leader? Someone else all together?) and though Liam and two of the other guys catch the creep the next day, people start being injured or disappearing, so you know there’s someone else still around. And I was creeped out! Very well done intense moments.

Even though I liked the horror-movie creep factor, I didn’t enjoy it as well as I could have because there were just too many characters, not enough face time. Outside of Emma, Liam, camper Chelsea and camp leader Steph, I had issues keeping everyone straight. I had a hard time remembering who was a camper, a leader and how many people were actually at the camp. That makes it hard to know who’s left when people start disappearing. And then there were little things – like, Liam mentions at one point that someone knew bought the camp, but shouldn’t he know this person’s name? Wouldn’t interviews for camp leaders been done? (this also goes back to Emma even going to the camp – that, thankfully, is explained later but the fact that Liam and Steph never clued in to the owner is odd) I was also confused as to why some people lived and some died – I mean, I’m glad people lived, but I don’t understand the motivation. Same goes for the final reveal. The whole camp thing seems like an awful lot of work and murder for something that could have easily been done another way (I’m sorry if this is really vague, but I’m trying not to spoil things).

2 heart

In the end, I think The Camp by Karice Bolton showed promise but could have benefited from being a longer book. Everything felt rushed, from the creepy guy, to the disappearances, to the romance and the conclusion. There are some good intense horror moments and the romance does turn up the heat at points, enough so that I was kept entertained throughout my reading of the book. I would definitely suggest that if the synopsis sounds like something you’d enjoy, dig in!

e-copy provided by the author through Forward Literary in exchange for my honest review as part of a blog tour. Thank you!

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