I Am Malala– A Book Everyone Should Read

I Am Malala is the true story of a teenage advocate for education. She was shot by the Taliban because she believed everyone should have the right to education, and not just men. Now she and her family live in Birmingham, England where they continue to fight for education and wait until they can go back to their home in Pakistan.

This is an outstanding book. There is no other way to say it. Malala is a fantastic writer with a powerful message and story. As I was reading, I realized I’m pretty ignorant myself. I was surprised by how normal she and her friends are, despite the violence in their neighborhood. She likes the TV show Ugly Betty and has read Twilight. Also, Malala shows that Islam is a peaceful religion although many have twisted the philosophies. I loved the book, and it might be the best book I’ve read all year. I think this is a book that everyone should read.

Here’s a link to the book as well as to the Malala Fund, a fund set up to raise money for girls’ and womens’ education.

The Malala Fund:


I Am Malala:

<a href=”http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316322409?aff=KaraSkinner”>http://www.indiebound.org/book/</a&gt;


Click: An Online Love Story

Click cover photoSome friends will ask you to take them to the airport. Others, however, will want you to sign up for an online dating service with them because they don’t want to be the only one doing it. Which was how Renee found herself filling out a profile on choosejews.com, and responding to adult virgins, stalkers, and a devout jew in Israel. Through emails, she tells her friends all about her adventures and misadventures in the online dating world, and gets plenty of interesting stories in return.

This was definitely a cute book that was entertaining and a fairly quick read. It reminded me a lot of  “Boy Meets Girl” by Meg Cabot, but not enough to make me constantly compare them. I thought it was really funny, and Shelley is definitely a friend I would want. She is hilarious, maybe a little slutty, and is completely loyal to Renee. I also liked Renee quite a bit too, although sometimes she seemed like she was too mean for someone who was supposed to be exceptionally nice. Also, I didn’t see the plot twist at the end coming, although now that I think I about that, I probably should have. However, it was very well done, and I loved the book overall. It’s a great read for any woman who has suffered through the mishaps of online dating, or really for anyone who wants a good laugh.


Click: Online Love Story:

<a href=”http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781460922637?aff=KaraSkinner”>http://www.indiebound.org/book/</a


Blood Oath by Samantha Coville

They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and even though some of the Sirens under Lord Christopher’s rule are just plain mean, a lot of them have good intentions that just go awry.

Christopher’s daughter, Raya, is a Halfling, or half human and half Siren. After no contact for several years, Raya is sent to Siren headquarters on her seventeenth birthday to spend the last year of her childhood with her dad. The problem is, she doesn’t want to go. She isn’t a fan of Sirens, and most Sirens don’t like Halflings. It gets worse for Christopher because he swore a Blood Oath to protect his only daughter, unbeknownst to Raya. Breaking a Blood Oath means fatal consequences, so he must do everything he can to keep her safe. Meanwhile, Raya joins a rebellion plotting to dethrone Christopher because of unjust laws. But it isn’t long before she realizes it isn’t going to be a peaceful rebellion.

For the most part, I liked this book. It kept me engaged almost all of the time, the romance between Raya and Drew was very sweet, and Raya’s friend, Kat, is really. But some parts of the book irritated me. Why would Raya even join the rebellion to begin with? She should have figured out that it wasn’t up to any good by looking at the other people in the group. I mean, she didn’t consider any of them particularly smart or friendly, with the exception of Tiana. She joined supposedly for Halfling’s rights, but did she really think they were going to lift the ban on Halflings in Headquarters when most of the people in the group hated her for being a Halfling? Also, considering the traumatic childhood even caused by Christopher’s carelessness, he should have figured out that his daughter would be less than thrill going to live with him for a year. Not to mention it was sprung on her seventeenth birthday, about fifteen minutes before she had to be in the car and ready to go. And I know he was trying to protect Raya by forbidding everyone from telling her about the Secret of the Halflings, but again with the road to Hell being paved with good intentions. It was asking for trouble. But aside from that, I thought it was a good book. The characters are well-developed and their interactions with each other are realistic and often funny. This would be a good book for just about any teenaged girl, especially those who like vampires and ghost stories.

Far-Knowing by Melinda Brasher: Interview and Review

At some point in our lives, all of us have to work with someone we don’t like or even trust. In Melinda Brasher’s Far-Knowing, however, it gets a little more complicated when the task is to save a kingdom from a powerful enemy no one has ever seen before.

When a powerful mage known as Mistress casts a a far-knowing spell to find a man known as the Chaos Mage, it goes wrong and she nearly dies. Too weak to defeat him herself, Mistress sends out her two pupils to stop him. Just one problem: her pupils can barely tolerate being in the same room.

Ista, the daughter of a baker, resents her classmate, Protectoressa Kallinesha Rhaelenor of Gaidella and Illiandri, for her snobby and cold attitude, and Kalli is jealous of Ista, who has more power than she does, as well as the affection of Mistress. They have to learn to work together and quickly before the Chaos Mage can kill the king and take over the kingdom of Andalinn. And when plans go awry and the truth gets more complicated, the only people they can really trust are each other. Far-Knowing was both well-written and entertaining. I loved how different Ista and Kalli are, and yet neither one is better than the other. Usually when books switch points of views between two main characters I favor one character over the other, at least a little, but I liked them both equally. The only thing I didn’t like about the story was the first page or so. The book couldn’t really keep my attention until Kalli found Mistress on the floor. But after that it was hard to put down. This is definitely a book I’d recommend to anyone who likes fantasy and adventure books.

Melinda Brasher spends her time writing fiction, traveling, and teaching English as a second language in places like Poland, Mexico, the Czech Republic, and Arizona. Her talents include navigating by old-fashioned map, combining up to three languages in a single incomprehensible sentence, and dealing cards really, really fast. Her short fiction and travel writing appear in Ellipsis Literature and Art, The Expeditioner, Enchanted Conversation, International Living, and other magazines.

How did you get an interest in writing?

I’ve pretty much always written. My parents read to me a lot when I was little, which sparked my love for books and the worlds they create. I love reading books, looking at them, talking about them. It only makes sense that I would start writing them. I remember being annoyed by my classmates in second or third grade when we put together collections of stories we’d written, because so many of the tales had gaping plot holes or unrealistic character actions. I didn’t know the terms back then, but I knew that writing was a serious business.

What’s your favorite part about writing a book?

I love it when my characters come to life and do things I didn’t plan for them to do. I love the power to create whatever world I wish, and whatever situation the reader in me wants to watch unfold. I love tinkering with words, sometimes spending inordinate amounts of time on a single sentence. I love when my critique group argues about what they think my characters are going to do in the next chapter. I even like having to sleep with a notebook by my bed to write the ideas that hit me as I’m about to drift off.

What’s your least favorite?

I hate writing book blurbs and query letters.

What’s your typical writing day?

I tend to do most of my actual writing in the evenings or late at night, though I vary my routine a lot. Midnight to 2AM is my sweet spot. If I don’t have to go to work, I spend the middle of the day marketing, blogging, doing research, etc.

Are any of your characters in Far-Knowing inspired by real people you know?

All writing has bits and pieces of people and things in the writer’s life, but no, none of my characters are based significantly on real people.

What was your favorite scene to write?

I really liked writing the scene at the Baron’s castle where they first meet the Chaos Mage.

Are you thinking of making a sequel?

I’m not working on a sequel at the moment. Far-Knowing is a stand-alone novel, something I quite enjoy as a reader, and which is more and more rare in the YA fantasy world. However, the future might hold more adventure for some of the characters–in the form of companion books. I’m also going to be publishing a few short stories which take place before the events of Far-Knowing. Right now I’m revising Agrilon’s Arrow, another YA fantasy. I’m also working on a science fiction project.

So you’ve traveled to a lot of different places to teach English. What’s the scariest/most exciting thing that’s happened to you in another country?

The scariest thing happened while hiking alone in Europe, in winter, in a place I thought would have lots of hikers. Not so. I saw only one man, and he turned around and followed me. It was two or three miles back to the nearest town, and no one would have missed me for a couple of days. He kept following me, even when I ducked off the path to maneuver him in front of me. He just circled around behind me again. Luckily the snow crunching under his feet let me know how close he was getting. At an unmarked fork in the path, I went the wrong way and had to backtrack. He was waiting for me there, pretending to tie his shoe. I looked him right in the eye and said “good day” in the local language, because I’ve heard that people are less likely to attack you if they’ve spoken to you. He didn’t respond, like hikers in the area usually do. So I kept walking, visualizing all the self defense I knew. Finally, approaching an empty-looking building near town, I saw a woman with a big scary dog. I’d never been so happy to see a scary dog. My pursuer hid in the shadow of the abandoned building and I escaped into civilization. I still don’t know what he intended. Had he possibly been trying to look out for this poor solo girl he found on the trail? Or had he never quite mustered the courage to do whatever it was that would have made me into a big cautionary tale? All I know is that I spent the next several days high on the joy of being alive.

Other than that, I’ve had very few scary experiences. I spent six months backpacking around Central America and never even got pick pocketed. Mostly travel is wonderful and strange and full of nice people and interesting conversations on buses.

What’s your favorite thing to say in a sentence using three languages?

Well, I don’t usually try to use three languages in one sentence. It just happens naturally as the languages jumble in my head. It usually goes something like this (usually with a grammar error or two):

Hledam nádraží, aber ich bin perdida.

Translation: I’m looking for the train station (Czech), but I’m (German)lost (Spanish)

It gets lots of amusing looks, if not a lot of comprehension.

Is there anything else you want to say?

If you want to learn more about me or my writing, visit my blog at www.melindabrasher.com.

If you read Far-Knowing, please leave a review on Amazon or elsewhere, telling me how you liked it.

Buy it here: Far-Knowing on Amazon

Or you can find it in your local bookstore through here: <a href=”http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781494394035?aff=KaraSkinner”>http://www.indiebound.org/book/</a&gt;

Thanks, Melinda! Make sure to check out the rest of her blog tour here. http://www.melindabrasher.com/2013/12/mini-blog-tour-far-knowing.html

Runaway by Meg Cabot


What teenage girl hasn’t compared herself to the models and actors on TV? What girl hasn’t felt bad about herself at one point or another? But who has ever thought that the glamorous world of Hollywood is all fake? Well, Meg Cabot has.

In Runaway by Meg Cabot, feminist rebel Em Watts is suffering from a brain transplant into the body of Nikki Howard, America’s hottest model. Some may think it’s heaven. Who wouldn’t want to become perfect overnight? But Nikki’s world is far from perfect. Spy-ware is in all of her electronics and she’s tailed constantly, not to mention she was blackmailed into playing Nikki Howard in the first place.

Em must uncover the motive behind Nikki’s supposed death, bring down the organization that ordered it, and protect her family, all the while trying to figure out her relationship with her best friend/ boyfriend, Christopher, and walk down a runway wearing a million-dollar diamond bra on national television.

Cabot keeps a slightly sarcastic, slightly ditzy tone throughout the book as she sends a clear message to girls around the world that they should be happy with who they are and not try to be different. She describes the modeling preparation with painstaking detail, where hours of work are put into one person for every photo shoot (and then they use Photo Shop on top of that). Cabot writes the romance between Em and Christopher with an effortless, carefree style that is purely her own.

Runaway, the third book in the Airhead trilogy, is perfect for any girl (feminist or girly) looking for a thrilling but light book with a tone with the girlish sense of teenage romance.

Dreams, Teens, and Mysterious Happenings:Brightest Kind of Darkness by P.T. Michelle

All Nara wants is a surprise for once in her life. After all, when you dream your own future every single night, there’s little that can surprise you, which is how she can be a star soccer goalie, and get straight A’s without practicing or studying. That all changed when she called in a bomb in the early morning and then accidentally touched a super cute bad boy who had just moved there. Then her dreams were gone when she needed them most- when people at her school were getting injured because Fate was getting even.

That’s right- Fate gets pissed off when you mess with him (yeah, it’s a him).

Now Nara has to fight Fate and keep it from killing her with the help of Ethan- the super cute bad boy, etc., etc. Ethan, by the way, is cursed himself, first with absorbing negativity, then a strange tattoo that magically adds detail to itself.

Brightest Kind of Darkness is a quick and light read that’s great for a teenage girl who loves fantasy and, of course, romance.