Tag Archive | China

Armchair BEA! Book bloggers wishing we were there…

sketch of stacked books typewriter person reading from 1clipart.com

(c) 1Clipart.com

The biggest US book event of the year starts now in NYC, and I am among the many book-fans not attending BookExpo America… sigh.

But, hark! There in the blogosphere… it’s Armchair BEA, a chance for book bloggers not thronging Javits Center to gather together virtually and celebrate our love of books and blogging!

First things, first – introductions:

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?
I learned to read when I was so little that I can’t remember ever not being able to read – and I’ve always loved reading a wide range of genres and subjects. In fact, being a non-specialist is why I became a librarian, back in the olden days of mainframes and card catalogs.

A few years ago, my husband’s out-of-state job transfer gave me the chance to ‘retire’ early from school library (the retirement checks will catch up in a few years), and I found myself with time to finally read and read. When Barb Langridge asked for guest reviewers for her website www.abookandahug.com where kids search for books themselves, I sent in a sample…and the rest is history! Barb always reminded me that my recommendations belonged to me and encouraged me to share them, so when I heard about WordCount Blogathon 2011 – blogging every single day for a month – I decided to leap in.

Thankfully, my choice of blog name was available, I had a built-in community of supportive bloggers for that first month, and I found my niche recommending young adult books beyond best-sellers. Because of Blogathon, I also got onto Twitter, where I can hear from authors, bloggers, and everyone else (love it).

This year, Blogathon starts June 1 (you still have time to sign up!). I still contribute many recommendations to www.abookandahug.com, too (over 340, at last count).

Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location.
Now in a different location for husband’s work – we stay in an RV park during the week, home to E. Texas most weekends. If you drive straight south on road from RV park, you get to the free Lynchburg Ferry which has been running since 1822! After crossing the river, you come to the San Jacinto Monument and the Battleship Texas.

Have you previously participated in Armchair BEA? If you have not previously participated, what drew you to the event?
This is my first year for Armchair BEA. For the past couple of years, I’ve just pouted when all the tweets and blog reports came in from BEA. It sounds like the Texas Library Association conference exhibit hall on steroids, and that would be some kinda huge!

I really like the chance for interaction and community in what can be such a solitary pursuit. It’s just me and 2 sleeping cats here writing reviews with content enhancements, week in and week out.

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013?
Oh, gosh, ask an easier question, like favorite book this week! I read very, very fast (so my summer #bookaday challenge should be easy), but really take time to craft recommendations with no spoilers.

Since I concentrate on smaller presses and debut authors, finding the gems among them is so cool. Two very different books by M. Scott Carter are recent reads that I’ll recommend during June so Blogathonners see them: Stealing Kevin’s Heart  and The Immortal Von B.  (both from The Roadrunner Press). Laurie Plissner’s Screwed from Merit Press made me cry; it’s so good, but no easy answers.

Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.photo of couple in traditional Chinese wedding clothes (c) Katy Manck
My husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary while he was building the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, so we had a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony as our rededication! The wedding planners said they’d never heard of a Western couple doing that before. Lion-dog dancers, acrobats, being carried in a palanquin, erhu and flute music – quite the experience!

Onward, Armchairers!

Clipart of reader with books and typewriter copyrighted by and courtesy of 1clipart.com

Fire Horse Girl, by Kay Honeyman (book review) – from China to America, from despised daughter to freedom?

book cover of Fire Horse Girl, by Kay Honeyman. Published by Scholastic | recommended on BooksYALove.comNot really believing in curses,
Curious as a good daughter never would be,
Escape to Gold Mountain would be paradise!

Jade Moon knows that her inauspicious birth sign won’t matter when she gets to America, right? But the tongs‘ control of San Francisco’s Chinatown could make it impossible for her to escape their evil clutches.

Look for this spring 2013 release at your local library  or independent bookstore to discover whether Jade Moon can truly find happiness in a new land.

What other immigrant stories would you suggest for young adults on BooksYALove World Wednesday?

Book info:  The Fire Horse Girl / Kay Honeyman. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013; Scholastic, paperback. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My recommendation: Small village, small minds, convinced that Jade Moon’s Fire Horse birth sign will curse anyone foolish enough to marry her. She will have to travel far from this small Chinese village to escape this bad luck, perhaps all the way to America, like her uncle.

But Uncle died coming back from the “Gold Mountain” says Sterling Promise, his adoptive son, Now Jade Moon’s father must pretend to be his brother, using Uncle’s identity papers so they can both enter the USA to pursue the family’s business interests, and they decide to take Jade Moon along to remove her curse from the family lands.

Up the river to the noisy bustle of Hong Kong, across the wide ocean by crowded steamship, Jade Moon and Father are coached by Sterling Promise in their ‘improved’ family history so that their answers will match when interrogated by the immigration officials. Only relatives with real business are allowed into the USA from China, though many others try to enter.

The shores of America look beautiful, but the Angel Island center is ugly. After weeks of waiting, Father fails the questioning intentionally, so Jade Moon is sure they all will be returned to China. However, clever Sterling Promise has bribed someone and will leave Angel Island on the next boat. Jade Moon’s desperation to escape the weight of village condemnation outweighs her fears as she cuts off her hair, locates Sterling Promise’s identity papers, dons his American suit and boards the boat to San Francisco.

Lost in the city, she’s almost caught up in a street fight, but is rescued by Harry Hon, whose father controls one of Chinatown’s ‘protection associations’ and is recruiting muscle and fists for the tong. She winds up staying at Mr. Hon’s home, being called Fire Horse, learning how to fight, helping Harry as numbers runner. Trying to ignore the dark sides of the Hon business becomes impossible when she discovers that a friend from Angel Island will be sold into prostitution and finds a way to help her keep her out of their reach.

Will the tong uncover her involvement in the escape?
How can she keep her identity secret when Sterling Promise appears?
Can this Fire Horse overcome old beliefs to find freedom in a new land?

Set in the waning days of the tongs’ power in Chinatown, this story of Jade Moon’s quest for a new life follows the twists and turns caused by her outspoken comments and daring choices. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

A Hundred Flowers, by Gail Tsukiyama (fiction) – Mao’s China, family’s fracture

book cover of A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama published by St Martins Press

You can see the White Cloud Mountain, if you look hard.
You must climb the spiny kapok tree to get high enough.
Is any tree tall enough to see where Tao’s father is?

Chairman Mao asked that “one hundred schools of thought” contend so that “one hundred flowers” would bloom during the Cultural Revolution. But could intellectuals believe that the dictator truly wanted opposing opinions to be voiced in Communist China?

Listen to the beginning of the story here, courtesy of Macmillan Audio, publishers of the audiobook version of A Hundred Flowers,  narrated by Audie Award winner, Simon Vance.

Get to know Tao’s family and this intriguing, difficult time in China’s history today at your local library or independent bookstore.

Should Tao’s mother have told him the truth about his father’s political imprisonment, or was she right in allowing her young son to believe that papa would soon return to them?

Book info: A Hundred Flowers / Gail Tsukiyama. St. Martin’s Press, 2012. [author’s website] [publisher site] [author video interview]

My Recommendation:

Perhaps Tao can see where his father has gone if he climbs the tallest tree in their Guangzhou courtyard. Instead his fall breaks his leg, but doesn’t break the Communist Party’s iron grip on his homeland, doesn’t bring Father home, doesn’t stop schoolmates from taunting that Father is a traitor.
If Chairman Mao’s call “let a hundred schools of thought contend” to be believed, then intellectuals like his papa Sheng and grandfather Wei would be safe to express their opinions, even if contrary to Communist doctrines. But a letter from their courtyard house to the Chairman results in papa’s departure, and mama won’t tell seven-year-old Tao where he has gone.
As Tao’s badly broken leg heals, he is often visited by Auntie Song who lives downstairs, by his grandfather who tells stories of olden times, and always by his mother, whose herbal remedies are renowned throughout the city. Into the courtyard house, Mother invites a lost teenage girl, a pregnant runaway grateful for small kindness and an empty corner.
Visits to the police to explain that Sheng must come home after his son’s terrible accident were useless; letters arrive from the re-education center rarely. Why did the Party think that making a teacher work in a dangerous stone quarry would change anything?
Finally grandfather Wei decides that he must take the grueling train journey north alone to see for himself that Sheng is still alive and try to convince the officials to let him come home.
A fascinating cross-generational tale, told through the voices of the residents of Tao’s courtyard house during the Cultural Revolution which crushed China’s artistic and intellectual communities, rippling like an undercurrent in its society even today. [Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.]

Eona (fiction)

Dragons malicious,
dragons benign,
dragons untamed…
Are there any dragons who serve humankind?

As the Chinese New Year begins – the Year of the Dragon – return to that ancient land much like China, to a place where the Dragoneyes commune with the dragons of the zodiac compass points to keep the land and its people safe from violent weather and terrifying storms.

Yet one Dragoneye seizes his dragon’s power for personal gain instead of serving the Emperor and his people. As the only female Dragoneye in the realm, Eona must decide where she stands, as well.

If you haven’t read Eon yet, stop here! It’s impossible to introduce the plot of Eona without giving away some key surprises of the first book (reviewed here). Eona will be issued in paperback in April 2012.

Book info: Eona / Alison Goodman. Viking, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: Only two Dragons remain in their celestial realms. Only two Dragoneyes to channel those immense powers to protect the land. Only one Dragoneye loyal to the Emperor. Now is war.

Eona dreamed that she could become a Dragoneye, never imagining that one of the 12 mighty Dragons was female – the long-absent Mirror Dragon. Few in the Imperial Court imagined that Lord Ido, the Rat Dragoneye, would help Sethon challenge the Emperor’s power; no one thought he would call on the darkest powers to slaughter 10 Dragoneyes and doom their Dragons to oblivion. Eona’s healing powers are being swept away as the ten masterless Dragons surge through the celestial passageways whenever she calls on the Mirror Dragon for help.

Without all the Dragons and their Dragoneyes to protect the Empire, its people are slammed with typhoons and earthquakes. Lord Ido and his assistant are using the stolen black folio to unleash its horrors on the new-crowned Emperor and his troops. Eona can taste the folio’s bitter magic, feel Ido use it to build Sethon’s mind-controlled army, sense the Rat Dragon’s will being twisted to evil purposes.

When young Emperor Kygo names Eona as his chief advisor, the few remaining palace nobles object. But the Mirror Dragon’s might and Lord Ido’s approaching army silence their protests. Eona searches for answers in the white folio, and her friends join her in spying missions and dangerous secret journeys. Why the Dragons ever consented to help humankind in the first place is still a mystery to her.

Can the Mirror Dragon overcome the black magic fueling the Rat Dragon’s attacks in the air? Can Eona’s friends and allies survive the battles on land? Can the land itself hold together as the darkest of evil forces strive to shake it to rubble and ash?

Eona’s 656 action-packed pages conclude the tale begun in Eon: Dragoneye Reborn in this far-distant place reminiscent of ancient China. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Huntress (fiction)

Years of rain,
Crops rotting overnight,
Monsters infiltrating villages near the Great Wood,
a sudden summons from the Fairy Queen to her hidden city.

The most talented sage-in-training for generations, Taisin has seen a vision with Kaede accompanying her on this quest, and the oracle stones have confirmed it. Kaede is an able enough scholar, but her years at the academy have merely proved that she has no ability as a sage, despite her noble father’s hopes. He’d rather solidify a political alliance using her as a marriage pawn, but the King has faith in the oracles and in Taisin’s vision – the two young women will indeed answer the Fairy Queen’s call, along with Prince Con and his best warriors.

Whether you’re saving Malinda Lo’s Ash until you finish reading this prequel or you’re returning to the sea islands and forests of ancient Cathair, you’ll be transported to a far place and a far time as you anxiously accompany Kaede and Taisin on their journey, hoping for their political success and future happiness together.

Find Huntress today at your local library or independent bookseller, and beware the monsters of the Great Wood.

Book info: Huntress / Malinda Lo. Little Brown, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: No sunshine, no crops, no hope for their country unless two teens can learn what the Fairy Queen knows about the new monsters attacking under the never-ending clouds. From the sanctuary of their Academy, 17-year-old Kaede and Taisin must travel far – a daughter of the hunt and a sage just coming into her immense psychic powers against threats from… where?

Kaede thought that this quest would be much better than her noble father’s plan to marry her off as a political move, but as their small group encounters human babies born with writhing monster souls and villages scoured clean by ravening creatures of the fog, she’s not so sure. Is it coincidence that the Fairy Queen’s invitation came to the King’s court at this time of great troubles, when only Prince Con could be spared for the journey?

Traveling further into the Wood, whispering winds taunt with empty promises and Xi ghosts try to lure them off the trail. Taisin worries that her spell-knowledge is not enough to protect them. Warrior Shae opines that worry is useless; only action will see them through. Ceaseless rain leaches color from the world and hope from their spirits. The only warm spark in this dismal place is the growing attraction between Kaede and Taisin.

As they near the Fairy Queen’s city, Taisin’s sleeping- self travels to distant icy halls, the Xi ghosts circle closer, and the Huntsman of legend appears with a message. Can they indeed ford that vast river separating Fairy lands from those of humans? Will the Queen know why Cathair’s weather remains always winter? Can she help them bring springtime back to their world?

This evocative prequel to Ash takes readers into a world of menacing shadows trying to overrun a land like ancient China, where much depends on the hearts of two girls who should still be studying in school and falling in love instead of having to fight monsters in order to save their people. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Cinder, by Marissa Meyer (book review) – cyberCinderella, human prince, true love?

As a plague rumbles across the Earth,
the Lunars’ queen plans conquest.
Can one teenage cyborg-human make a difference?

On this Future Friday, we get a new look at an old story as Marissa Meyer takes Cinderella’s tale into the celebrations commemorating the 124th anniversary of the end of World War IV (yep, more World Wars). Damaged body parts can be replaced with cybernetic-mechanical ones – although most full humans consider cyborgs to be lesser-class citizens. Across the earth, letumosis plague fells rich and poor, young and old, as scientists race to find a cure for the Blue Fever.

Those humans who colonized the Moon centuries ago are Lunars now and have developed mysterious powers. The Lunar queen wants to expand her kingdom, but needs an heir related by blood. Her relentless messages asking for an alliance with Prince Kai’s realm escalate into a personal visit to New Beijing’s palace. Can the Earthers resist her mind powers?

Hurry to your local indie bookstore to get the first book in The Lunar Chronicles series – Cinder will be published on January 3, 2012. In the meantime, you can listen to chapter one of the audiobook version free, and read the prequel story “Glitches” on Tor Books’ website now.

We’ll have to wait for the sequels, of course: Scarlet in 2013 (based on Red Riding Hood), Cress in 2014 (Rapunzel), and Winter (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs).

Book info: Cinder (Book One of The Lunar Chronicles)/ Marissa Meyer. Feiwel and Friends, 2012. [author’s website] [author’s blog] [publisher site] [fan-made book trailer]

My Book Talk:When the prince brings his android for repair, Cinder wonders if he suspects that she’s a cyborg. She’s the best mechanic in New Beijing, but must avoid public notice so she can keep her job. Otherwise, her stepmother Adri will sell her to doctors testing plague cures on cyborg teen girls.

Up on the Moon, the Lunars under Queen Levana’s mind control never catch the fatal letumosis. The ruthless Queen continues to hammer at the Eastern Commonwealth for an alliance by marriage, even as its King suffers with the plague’s agonies. Peony also falls ill with letumosis, and Adri blames Cinder for her stepsister’s illness.

If Prince Kai chooses an Earthen bride at the Spring Festival Ball – that would stop the Queen’s plans of conquest. Every young woman in the city prepares her gown for the ball – except Cinder. Her stepmother removes her mechanical foot and turns her over to the research lab; no cyborg has ever come back out.

Queen Levana is coming to New Beijing – in person! Will she be able to control every Earther mind? Can Prince Kai find a way to keep their kingdom free? Will Cinder escape the research lab? Why can’t she remember anything before the accident that led to her body being repaired with mechanical cyborg parts?

This fascinating retelling of the Cinderella tale is the first book of the Lunar Chronicles series, with many secrets underlying the familiar story. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn (fiction)

One dream.
One chance.
One life, forfeit if the secret is discovered.

To be chosen to assist a Dragon in protecting their land from disastrous typhoons, Eon struggles to master the intricate swordwork that will win a place at the annual competition.

She cannot deny the pull of dragon-spirit that whispers through her veins, risking execution for daring to compete in this men-only world of the Dragoneyes.

Strongly echoing the customs and traditions of ancient China, Eon’s world is swirling with intrigue and treachery, even before the long-absent Mirror Dragon roars in from the Spirit World to upset the order of the Imperial Palace.

Now available in paperback, the tale of Eon is continued in Eona – don’t miss either volume of this fascinating adventure!

Book info: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn / Alison Goodman. Viking, 2008 (hardback), Firebird, 2010 (paperback). [book website] [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: Only one chance to become Dragoneye apprentice… Soon Eon’s years of training will be over as he competes against 11 candidates. Perhaps the Dragon’s spirit eye will overlook his crippled leg?

Eon feels the mighty Rat Dragon’s spirit ripple through his blood, even after the swordmaster’s ambush on the competition field. Ten dragon brothers and the whole empire watch as the ascendant Dragon selects Dillon as his apprentice. Eon now must run away before anyone discovers that this 12-year-old boy is really a young woman who risked execution for a chance to serve the Emperor as Dragoneye!

Suddenly the long-dark twelfth dragon mirror brightens. For the first time in living memory, the Mirror Dragon has appeared to select an apprentice – and chooses Eon. In this imperial court of protocol and ceremony, no one knows what to do with an apprentice who has no master to train him or how to deal with two ascendant dragons in one year.

Soon, the ascendant Dragoneye and his dragon must travel north to help control the weather – for the Dragoneye Lords serve during their Dragon year to keep the empire safe. But the angry Rat Dragoneye doesn’t want to share power with Lord Eon, who might discover his plans to use dragon power to overthrow the Emperor!

Will Eon’s secret stay a secret in the rumor-filled Imperial Palace? How can Eon practice working with the Mirror Dragon without the correct instruction? Why do the dragons agree to help the Empire year after year?

This thrilling adventure set in a land much like ancient China reveals the rippling scales of dragons in the storm clouds overhead – and the bitter venom hiding in human hearts. First in series, 531 heart-stopping pages. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Paper Daughter, by Jeannette Ingold (book review) – family tree with hidden branches?

When what you “know” about your family isn’t true,
When the person with the real answers is gone,
How far can you search back into the past without losing yourself?

Maggie knows that she wants to be a reporter like her father, recently killed by a hit-and-run driver. But when investigations get too close to home, when the truth upends everything she thought she knew about her family background…

Her hometown of Seattle has always been shaped by immigration and change – from its wild days as a frontier logging town through the countless immigrants from China who made one corner of the city their own, despite the strangling restrictions of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

So what does Maggie discover about her family’s past and her own future?
Find out at your local library or independent bookstore on our World Wednesday – and remember to share family stories around the table this Thanksgiving.

Book info: Paper Daughter / Jeannette Ingold. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010. [author’s website] [publisher site] [student video book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: As a young journalist, Maggie Chen has her late father’s writing skills and reporting instincts. His recent death has left a gaping hole in her life, but she is determined to complete the summer internship he helped her arrange at the local newspaper.

That Jillian rushed in and grabbed photo desk before Maggie could even open her mouth – good thing Maggie won’t be working directly with the other intern, who is all talk and nosiness. But internship means trying every aspect of the job, so she’ll start at the sports desk and move to other assignments as the summer goes on.

Maggie and her professor mom start to notify Dad’s out-of-town contacts about his death, about that hit-and-run driver. When one call connects Maggie to Dad’s best friend in college, pieces of his life story begin to crumble as the truth about his past erases the family stories that he’d always told them. Now she’s wondering about the unfinished articles in her dad’s files.

If Dad wasn’t from a well-to-do family, then where did he come from?
Why did he contact so many people in California just before his death?
Was he in Seattle’s old Chinatown on the day he died for a newspaper story or on a personal investigation?

During her first “hard news” assignment, Maggie learns that someone else was killed in the same area on the same day, someone who might have been ready to blow the whistle on corrupt land development deals. Was her father’s death connected to that, too?

Murmurs of Chinese immigrants’ stories thread through Maggie’s search for answers, stories of “paper sons” claimed as blood relatives on immigration applications, of changed names and unchanged resentments. Can she ever know who she really is? (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

To Timbuktu, by Casey Sciezka (nonfiction) – art, teaching, love, travel

Nine countries,
Two people,
One true story.

Travel the long route To Timbuktu with Casey and Steven on this World Wednesday, sharing their everyday joys, occasional mishaps, and adventures on their two-year journey together.

Steven’s charcoal sketches perfectly complement Casey’s retelling of their experiences as teachers of English in Beijing (becoming residents instead of visitors that cold winter ), as travelers in Vietnam and Thailand (paradise of warmth and way too many tourists), and as observers in different towns of Mali, including the remote and legendary Timbuktu.

Returning to the US, they’ve established the Local Language Literacy foundation to provide humorous books to African students in their native languages. Casey’s first LLL book was translated into Bamanakan by a teacher they worked with in Mali, and 1300 copies are now in the hands of Malian high school students. Currently, she and Steven are working with author Daour Wade to create books in French and Wolof for students in Senegal.

What an adventure Casey and Steven had as they traveled together! You’ll be glad that you came along on their winding journey To Timbuktu!

Book info: To Timbuktu: Nine Countries, Two People, One True Story / Casey Scieszka, illustrated by Steven Weinberg. Roaring Brook, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: World travel – that’s the plan for Casey and Steven after graduation. Now, actually getting jobs overseas – that’s another thing…

When they met in Morocco during junior semester abroad, the pair tried to just live in the moment, as they’d be in college on opposite coasts when they returned to the US. But they couldn’t let each other go and kept up their long-distance romance through that long, difficult year before graduation.

Casey dreams of living overseas and writing the stories told by Muslims who live in different cultures, examining how Islamic schools differ from others in the same country. Steven’s art is his passion; what career that will lead him to is still uncertain. As Casey writes grant applications for her research, Steven wonders how his future fits into hers…

When Casey finally gets funding to live and write in Mali – a year from now – she and Steven decide to travel and work in other countries along the way. Teaching English in Beijing, touring Southeast Asia, grabbing a quick rendezvous with their families in Paris, a detour through Morocco to see their host families again, then they’re finally in Mali!

But can the couple stay in love through traveler’s flu, bureaucratic red tape, and erratic train schedules? When Casey is piled-up with research, will Steven have enough to do? And once you’ve gone all the way To Timbuktu, what do you do next??

This autobiographical travel memoir leaps off the pages, thanks to Casey’s evocative narrative and Steven’s many sketches, taking us from their Beijing neighborhood to the schools of Mali and everywhere in between. And, yes, Casey is the daughter of author Jon Scieskza. (Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher)

Read around the world (reflective)

We’ve circled the globe during July and the Ultimate Blog Challenge, highlighting books set in many countries (and eras).

The Grassland Trilogy reaches back beyond written history, showing the courage of young people trying to Escape the Mask, see Beneath the Mask, and go Beyond the Mask.

Cate of the Lost Colony traveled from the glittering court of Queen Elizabeth I to the desolate sand dunes of Roanoke in the New World, and Plain Kate, driven from her home by superstition, must search for answers down the river, into the mists.

Esty’s Gold took us from famine-stricken Ireland to the Australian goldfields in the 1880s, while The Reformed Vampire Support Group sticks together in today’s Sydney.

Online gamers in China, India, Singapore and the US are fighting For the Win and a fair chance at life.

Annexed and Briar Rose brought us perspectives on the Holocaust – the Netherlands, Germany, Poland – so many bitter sorrows, so many untold tales.

Modern-day Paris hides decades-old secrets in Die For Me, while in Montreal, Mira just wants her own today in Pieces of Me.

And we’ve just begun the Rivers of Time trilogy, as Lia and Gabi go back to 14th century Tuscany in Waterfall.

Oh, the photo up there? That’s me aboard the wooden sailing ship Southern Swan in Sydney Harbour in the 21st century. Ready for more great books in August?