Thursday, July 18, 2013

WILL IN SCARLET - A Wild-Ride of a Novel by MATTHEW CODY



RELEASE DATE: October 8, 2013

FORMAT/PAGE COUNT: ebook/272 pages

PUBLISHER: Knopf Books for Young Readers


Will Scarlet is on the run.

Once the sheltered son of nobility, Will has become an exile. While his father, Lord Shackley, has been on the Crusades with King Richard, a treacherous plot to unseat Richard has swept across England, and Shackley House has fallen.

Will flees the only home he’s ever known into neighboring Sherwood Forest, where he joins the elusive gang of bandits known as the Merry Men. Among them are Gilbert, their cruel leader; a giant named John Little; a drunkard named Rob; and Much, an orphan girl disguised as a bandit boy.

This is the story of how a band of misfit outlaws become heroes of legend - thanks to one brave 13-year-old boy. - (From GOODREADS)


I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Having said that, there was a thread or two I would have liked to have seen the end of. But I'm sure that's just me. I do know one certainty about Will In Scarlet...young boys will LOVE this book. It would have been just the book I'd look for when I was a young teen. The hero is 13...he's fortunate, being a Lord's son...but he's not fortunate enough to be royalty. It's as his house falls around him that the story really sparks for me. He sees the other side of life and his first reaction is to try to make things better for those less fortunate than he had been in his previous station.

I found this to be very much like Siddhartha, in this respect. Will had the luxury of living in a castle and having servants. But when he sees outside the castle for the first time, when he escapes its overthrow, he sees poverty. Like Siddhartha, who took to the streets and witnessed poverty the first time he was paraded around his kingdom, Will has his eyes opened.

This novel is filled with rich characters and a lot of action. And the intensity of the peril was palpable, too. There's a great attack scene when Will and "Much" (a girl who lost her parents and joined the Merry Men disguised as a boy!) return to Will's lost castle to help the other Merry Men escape hangings. Look for it. The story really explodes there.

I loved the way Cody made Rob a fallible character...the reader sees him overcome himself just as Will sees it. His transformation from Rob to Robin Hood is not only timely and quite awesome...but fully believable. I also very much loved the POV switches between WILL's and MUCH's characters. I liked knowing what each was thinking about the other. There's a great push-me-pull-ya play with them. They go from almost hatred, with a touch of compassion, to admiration and...yes...maybe even BIG CRUSH TERRITORY. That's all I'm saying.

As I said, just a few loose threads that got to me. BUT...I am not aware of one thing! It COULD be a series. And if it is, I forgive the 4 1/2 rating. I would certainly be in line for a book two if this turns out to be a series. It seems pregnant with potential...and with such an exhilarating pace that keeps you reading until you've devoured the entire book in one sitting, I'd love to keep going!

I would highly recommend this title for boys of 10-14. But I wouldn't stop there. It appeals to the inner child big-time. Memorable characters and great action! It fully fulfills its promise to show us the boy behind the Robin Hood legend.

Size: 4 1/2

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B - A Review of the Novel by Teresa Toten

TITLE: The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B


RELEASE DATE: August 27, 2013

FORMAT/PAGE COUNT: ebook/256 pages

PUBLISHER: Doubleday Canada


Two-time Governor General's Award nominee Teresa Toten is back with a compulsively readable new book for teens!

When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. He's determined to protect and defend her--to play Batman to her Robyn--whatever the cost. But when you're fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it's hard to imagine yourself falling in love. How can you have a "normal" relationship when your life is so fraught with problems? And that's not even to mention the small matter of those threatening letters Adam's mother has started to receive . . .

Teresa Toten sets some tough and topical issues against the backdrop of a traditional whodunit in this engaging new novel that readers will find hard to put down. (From GOODREADS)



It's only the best books that suck the reader in so completely that they begin to experience the feelings of the main character. This book has reached that goal in SPADES! Be careful. This is a story of a teen with OCD...and the OCD group he attends. Toten does a spectacular job of injecting the reader into that group. What a ride! I was there, sitting in a circle looking at all the other OCD sufferers...listening to their facilitator, Chuck, as he attempted to lead the group to a healthier less obsessive compulsive lifestyle. I cannot say enough about the way Toten guided the reader through the real--and real painful--world of the OCD sufferer. Spectacularly crafted!

Though the backdrop of Unlikely Hero was OCD, there was so much more to the story. Toten takes the reader on a ride as the main character, Adam, falls in love while falling apart. I've a feeling this will be my pick for FAVOURITE READ of 2013. I love the way Adam's inner dialogue played out; his fears, his feelings for Robyn (the girl of his dreams), his thoughts on the interactions with his mom, his step-mom, his dad, his brother Sweetie, his therapist..and even Thor, the quiet hulk of a teen who attended the OCD group Adam was part of. Just a great insight into the main character's itchy scratchy obsessive compulsive world. This book is REAL.

Without giving away too much of the story, Unlikely Hero is, IMHO, a story of a boy struggling to keep it together AND the illness he takes on as a result of that struggle. His mother plays a keen role in this struggle. Adam tries desperately to combat the forces of his OCD by attending his therapist's teen OCD support group. But Adam's mother is a hoarder. As he tries to repair his ticks and obsessions, he lives in a home that is getting swallowed up by itself. Throw on the fact that his mother is being stalked, and Adam's stress level is a thousand. Amid the chaos, he is falling in love with fellow support group member Robyn. He complicates this relationship with his axiom, Everybody Lies.

I guarantee you will be on the edge of your seat as all the loose threads in this freight-train of a story begin to come together. Just when you think Adam cannot take another thing thrown into his path, something bigger and more stressful happens. And it all culminates in a satisfying ending that will have you gasping.

When this book releases, pick yourself up a copy. I will be purchasing a copy! It's one of those stories you can read again and again.

Size: 5 1/2 (1/2 for the feeling of OCD symptoms that plagued me for the duration of the story!)

Happy Birthday to My Own Novel AND Happy 10,000 Reads!

I'd like to take a moment to thank all the readers of this, my review blog. Sometime over the past few days I reached 10,000 reads. I hope I'm doing something right...suggesting the best of the best books, giving my readers some insights through interviews, etc. Thank you for stopping by AND I hope to see you again!

ONE MORE THING before we continue with scheduled reviews, interviews, etc. I don't do this often, but I wanted to give a shout out to my 2nd novel, SEBASTIAN'S POET! SB just hit its 1st anniversary! I'm giving away print copies on my author blog. You can read the post HERE. To enter for your chance to win a copy, all you are required to do is comment on the post. I'm keeping the contest open for the month of July. Winner(s) will be announced August 1st, at which time I will ask for a shipping address. Naturally, the prize includes shipping. (-:

Here's a book trailer for Sebastian's Poet:

AND, while I have you, here's a book trailer for my latest novel, The Reasons (PS: Check out the most awesome band in the background!) :

If you enter the contest, good luck!

Thanks so much. NOW...back to the regular business of this blog. (-: