MMGM: A Tangle of Knots

A Tangle of Knots

In a magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that Fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born. And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a peanut butter factory, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent thief who could alter her life forever.

So I should probably work on not judging books by their covers so much, but if it keeps working out for me like it has been, maybe I’ll just roll with it… This was a cute little book that I read recently, and I really liked the idea that everyone is exceptional at something, even if it’s just something considered to be useless, like playing jacks or tying knots. (hint hint) PLUS there’s all these cake recipes inside the book at the beginning of some of the chapters, which I LOVE because I love to bake, and I can’t wait to try out some of the recipes to see how they go. Sorry I’ve been gone recently, by the way. School is getting a little bit crazy right now, but I’ll try to post an MMGM as often as possible. SO:

Things I Didn’t Like About It:

  1. There was this mysterious character that you never really learned much about and he’s just sort of there and that seemed kinda weird to me.
  2. There were a looooot of characters to keep straight.
  3. There’s no sequel to tie up the loose ends.

Things I Did Like About It:

  1. The cover
  2. The Recipes
  3. The main character
  4. The world building/overall world idea of ‘talents’

Turns out Lisa Graff is a pretty well known Middle Grade author. Any others of her books that you guys recommend? Happy Easter!

MMGM: Lost in a Book

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Ah, a beautiful cover, isn’t it? So sorry I’ve been gone the past couple of weeks, I’ve just been soooo busy. Hopefully I’ll be better about updating for the next few weeks. Anyways, I saw this movie finally, and it was AMAZING, and my mom found this book, and I thought it sounded really interesting. Here’s the description:

An original addition to the beloved Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, Lost in a Book follows the lonely, bookish Belle as she finds an enchanted book in the Beast’s library called Nevermore that carries her into a glittering new world. There, Belle is befriended by a mysterious countess who offers her the life she’s always dreamed of.

But Nevermore is not what it seems, and the more time Belle spends there, the harder it is to leave. Good stories take hold of us and never let us go, and once Belle becomes lost in this book, she may never find her way out again.

This deluxe hardcover novel expands upon the beautiful story and world seen in the new Walt Disney Studios’ film, Beauty and the Beast.

Obviously, they had to skip over a lot of what happened at the castle in the movie, because it would’ve taken ages to go over all of that. I think it’s really cool that someone thought about what could have happened at an enchanted castle with a curious, brave, young, book-loving girl, and put it into words! The only downside was that the author was trying a bit to make it easier for younger readers to understand, so it comes across a little cheesily childish at some points, but mostly it’s a good balance.

Also, this book now has me wanting a book of the whole story! Books are just so much better than movies for the most part, because no matter how good the actor, you still don’t really know what the character is thinking, or experience the story quite the way it was intended to be experienced, without reading it off a page.

Not that I don’t love movies, too of course. This weekend I watched ‘She’s the Man’ with my brother. What are some of your favorite movies turned into books, or books turned into movies?

Have a great week! 🙂

 

MMGM: Winterling

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Okay, first of all, I would like to say that I’m pretty sure that the cover artist for this also did the cover art for Shannon Messenger’s books, and man I sure do love all of his covers. Anyways. Moving on.

With her boundless curiosity and wild spirit, Fer has always felt that she doesn’t belong. Not when the forest is calling to her, when the rush of wind through branches feels more real than school or the quiet farms near her house. Then she saves an injured creature—he looks like a boy, but he’s really something else. He knows who Fer truly is, and invites her through the Way, a passage to a strange, dangerous land.

Fer feels an instant attachment to this realm, where magic is real and oaths forge bonds stronger than iron. But a powerful huntress named the Mor rules here, and Fer can sense that the land is perilously out of balance. Fer must unlock the secrets about the parents she never knew and claim her true place before the worlds on both sides of the Way descend into endless winter.

Sarah Prineas captivates in this fantasy-adventure about a girl who must find within herself the power to set right a terrible evil.

Okay, so good things about this book:

  1. Really creative world building!
  2. Rook is adorable
  3. Pretty cover 🙂
  4. Cool character names- I wonder what their meanings are?
  5. I love Fer’s loyalty and blind kindness

Not so good things about this book:

  1. Lots of unanswered questions
  2. Some characters need character development
  3. Short so I feel like you don’t get that much time to really engage yourself in the world

The good news is, there’s two more books! I’ll be doing reviews on them next. Have a great week everyone! 🙂

MMGM: Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism

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Orphan Molly Moon was found as a baby in a box marked ‘Moon’s Marshmallows’.

For ten terrible years she’s lived under the sinister rule of Miss Adderstone in gloomy Hardwick House. But her life changes overnight when she finds a mysterious book on hypnotism and discovers an amazing talent – the power to make people do anything she wants them to! Escaping from the orphanage, Molly heads to New York in search of fame and fortune. But her adventures lead her into the clutches of a dangerous enemy, who will stop at nothing to steal her hypnotic secret…

The main characters in this book are:

  1. Molly Moon
  2. Petula
  3. Simon
  4. Rocky
  5. Miss Adderstone
  6. Edna
  7. Lucy

Some tips from Molly:

“Here are some off the top of my head.

First of all… Be careful of hypnotising under water. I suppose this is an odd one to start with, but I’m looking at a glass of water here, and so I thought of it.
So, as I was saying, be careful. This is why. The refraction of the water can do funny things to your hypnotic eye glare and people can think they’re hypnotised by the water and not by you. When they think they’re hypnotised by the water it’s really tricky as they do all sorts of weird things. They want to sleep in the water for instance and they want to keep drinking it. They go into water nymph mode and it can be really embarrassing for them.

Be careful hypnotising people near water.

I hypnotised a fat woman in the swimming pool in Los Angeles because she was saying how much she needed to do some exercise but couldn’t be bothered. I thought I’d do her a favour and make exercise really easy for her. But when I hypnotised her she fell over backwards and her head went under. It was terrible – she nearly drowned. Rocky had to help pull her out and we had to put her into the life saving position once she was on dry land again. All her makeup had smudged all over her face and she coughed up lots of water. At least she survived. That one gave me a shock.

If you hypnotise people through the flames of a fire, your eye glare gets distorted so be careful. This can be really dangerous. When I did it, the man I hypnotised wanted to get into the fire. He could have been barbecued. Luckily I persuaded him that it was a very bad idea so he didn’t.

That brings me onto the very important warning that you must be very careful where people are when you hypnotise them. For instance I would never hypnotise someone who was standing on the edge of a cliff or by a busy road – you never know if they’re going to react strangely and move when you first hypnotise them. They might step backwards off the cliff or into the traffic – that sort of thing. I could write a long list of why you should be careful of hypnotising people but I’ll write a short one and you should get the idea.

Be careful of hypnotising drivers, when they’re driving, and pilots of planes or helicopters and captains of ships etc.

Be careful of hypnotising people holding dangerous things. For instance butchers holding knives, guards holding fierce dogs, police holding guns, old ladies holding umbrellas or heavy handbags. Of course sometimes you will just have to hypnotise on the spot but just beware that if you do it wrong that weapon they are holding can be used against you.

Hypnotising animals

Obviously this is good fun but just be careful because animals with teeth can be very scary if they aren’t hypnotised properly. It is lovely though to hypnotise lions and make them cuddly. You can hypnotise elephants to do dog tricks and mice to run in circles and roll on the floor or climb into matchboxes. When you hypnotise animals you have to work out a way of explaining what you want them to do. That is quite difficult…. Easy if you speak lion or elephant or mouse. Difficult if you don’t.

Remember that you probably don’t want a lot of attention if you are hypnotising people, so don’t ask them to scream at the top of their voices or do something that will have them arrested. To be a responsible hypnotist you should always make sure that you are around to bring a person out of the trance that you put them in. If they are miles away in a police station you can’t get to them… unless you hypnotise a few policemen. Generally anyway you don’t want to make people do things that make them get into trouble as this is not very nice… (unless of course they deserve a bit of a punishment like Adderstone did).

I have found that hypnotism is best when it is used to help people. It’s brilliant for curing bad habits like smoking, over-eating, fear of flying, fear of making friends, that sort of thing. And as a hypnotist it always feels so nice to be useful like this.

Lastly, remember that you can also hypnotise yourself.

I like the hypnotic saying that goes,

‘Every day in every way I get better and better and better.’”

Molly Moon is an enjoyable book, though I must say that I might like her pug better than her. She’s fairly rad, of course, being able to hypnotise people, and, later, do crazy things like time travel and stop time. (This is the first book in a 6 book series) Her best friend Rocky is also pretty awesome. I need to reread the rest of this series, I must say, because while this first book is entirely necessary for setting the stage for the rest of the series, I do believe that I prefer the later on ones when her hypnotism-skillz are already developed more fully, because she manages to do some pretty awesome stuff that way. I think at one point she turns into a ladybug maybe? When she realizes that she can switch bodies with others sort of? Don’t take my word for it, like I said I need to do some rereading here, but I’m pretty sure that happens, which in itself is a valid reason to read the books. 😉 Have a great week!

MMGM: Author Feature on Jessica Day George

Hello! Today I’m doing something a little different: an author feature on Jessica Day George, one of my favorite middle grade authors. And just to put it out there early, I will not be posting next week because I will be out of town with no wifi for the President’s Holiday. Anyways, here’s a little about Mrs George

Official Story:

Jessica Day George earned a BA in Humanities/Comparative Literature from Brigham Young University, where she enjoyed classes in Pottery and Old Norse, and dutifully forced herself to take Algebra and Biology. Originally from Idaho, she now resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and three young children.

More Info:

It’s all about the books. Friends, family, school, “real jobs”, they were just obstacles to be tackled so that I could return to my true love: books. All I have ever wanted in this world is to read and write books. My criteria for choosing a purse is that it must be able to fit a paperback book inside. I took books on my honeymoon, and bought more while we were there. I picked my major because it looked like I would get to read a lot of books, and also I thought it would provide me with interesting background information for my own books (which it did). From the time I was twelve on up, I told people that I wanted to be a writer. When they said, “So, you’ll teach and then maybe try to write a book?” I would just shake my head. No, I was a writer, and that was all I wanted to do. So over the years until I got published, I lived in Idaho, in New Jersey and Delaware, and in Utah, because it didn’t matter. I could read and write anywhere. I’ve worked at a wedding invitation factory (Bet you didn’t know they made them in big scary factories, did you?), at a video store (back at the birth of DVD), at libraries and bookstores, and even been an office lady at a school while I waited to get published. I knew that I would be published eventually, because . . . well, I just had to be.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have other interests. I took eight years of German, four of Norwegian, and even studied Old Norse so that I could read the great Viking sagas in the original language. I knit like a maniac: hats, scarves, sweaters, dog sweaters, socks, felted purses, you name it. I play the piano and viola, love to travel and to watch movies.

But mostly, it’s about the books.

She has written and published eleven books in three different series, plus a stand alone novel. My favorite series of hers is probably the Dragon Slippers series, but I also love her fairy tale retellings, though those are geared at a bit of a higher age level than her other series. Her third series is about a girl who lives in a castle that’s sorta alive… or, anyways, it changes a lot and it sometimes complies to the wishes of the main character.

As you can tell, Mrs. George is a very creative and inspired author, and I hope you have the pleasure of enjoying her books!

 

MMGM: Sugar and Ice

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For Claire Boucher, life is all about skating on the frozen cow pond and in the annual Maple Show right before the big pancake breakfast on her family’s maple farm. But all that changes when Claire is offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — a scholarship to train with the elite skaters in Lake Placid. Tossed into a world of mean girls on ice, where competition is everything, Claire soon realizes that her sweet dream come true has sharper edges than she could have imagined. Can she stand up to the people who want her to fail and find the courage to decide which dream she wants to follow?

I’ve read this book so many times since I first picked it up years ago, because it’s just so cute, inspiring, and relatable.

“Claire smiled a little. “I know.” She was stronger. And she’d choose her own dreams from now on. She had a bunch of them to get started on. “Thank you for everything.”

Claire wants to do what she loves, which is ice skating, but to get there she has to push through all the pettiness and competition of teenage girls. Claire is great, loves her family, and is a loyal friend, and her best friend who loves to read paranormal YA books is pretty funny too. Oh- and just to put it out there, don’t worry if you know nothing about skating, because I love it, and I can basically guarantee that I know even less than you.

Some quotes about it:

“For fans of ice skating this book is nothing short of a dream come true. If I don’t see a copy of this book in every single ice skater’s gym bag by the end of December I will eat my proverbial hat. But there’s a lot of rich writing at work here, above and beyond the obvious plot elements. It’s got a relatable heroine, three-dimensional villains, a rags to riches element, some convincingly exhausting sequences, and an ending that will probably catch a couple folks by surprise…”

~Betsy Bird, Fuse #8 Blog at School Library Journal

“Claire’s self-doubt and inner turmoil over whether to continue with the Silver Blades after her scholarship ends is both realistic and sensitively depicted. The solidarity among some of the skaters is nicely contrasted with the mind games and meanness of others. The addition of a light romance and the satisfying conclusion will appeal to those who have skating fantasies of their own.”

~Kirkus

“One moment Claire Boucher is tapping the sap from her family’s maple trees; the next she is plucked from obscurity by a coach who sees her skate in the Maple Show and offers a scholarship in Lake Placid…. Even those who don’t know their double toe loops from their single salchows will enjoy …reading about what it takes to make it on the ice.”

~Booklist

Have a great week everyone!

MMGM: Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator

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OH NOES. Woke up this morning and realized that I COMPLETELY FORGOT to do an MMGM! Alas, it’s one of my New Year’s Resolutions to do an MMGM every week, and I don’t want to quit this early in the year. Anyways! I shall post the link to this in the comments on Shannon’s website, so if you see it from there, THANKS SO MUCH FOR FOLLOWING MY LATE LINK. 🙂

Anyways. Onto the review.

Ever since her father died, kooky Gilda Joyce has been working hard to sharpen her psychic skills. She’s determined to communicate with spirits from the Other Side and become a crack investigator of spooky, twisted mysteries. After wrangling an invitation to visit San Francisco relatives, Gilda discovers just how much her dreary, tight-lipped uncle and his strange, delicate daughter need her help to uncover the terrible family secret that has a tortured ghost stalking their home. From poignant to hair-raising and hilarious, this is a behind-the-scenes, tell-all account of the very first case in the illustrious career of Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator.

I think there’s five of these books…. Anyways, this is the first one. Gilda is a self-proclaimed “psychic investigator,” who took that title unto herself when her father died. Now, she tries tons of crazy methods to get spirits to talk to her. They sorta do at first, too… except they sorta don’t. That makes sense, right? Anyways Gilda Joyce is an awesome character.

She likes:

  1. her typewriter
  2. her best friend wendy
  3. wearing disguises
  4. wigs
  5. stiletto heels
  6. ouija boards
  7. people watching
  8. creative writing
  9. cat-eye sunglasses

She does not like:

  1. snobbish attitudes
  2. wasting time
  3. cleaning the bathroom
  4. tedious and repetitive homework
  5. people who try to hide the truth

I’m sure you can tell she’s a real interesting person. She frequently consults her Master Psychic’s Handbook, some excerpts from which are:

“For the psychic it is often the unexpected impulse that leads her to people in need of help, clues that solve crimes, and even spirits seeking her attention. Over time, you will recognize your own physical cues: you may have headaches, itches, aches, twitches, or other physical sensations that become your own personal psychic signals.”

—Balthazar Frobenius

Gilda’s psychic signal: An itch in her left ear.

“This writing technique is like being a ventriloquist for the dead. Handwriting can be another means of accessing a voice from beyond! I prefer writing by hand, using a tablet of paper made from a very rare type of tree that has ancient magical properties.”

—Balthazar Frobenius

Gilda’s automatic writing method: Typing on her father’s typewriter.

“Of all the psychic methods I’ve used, the pendulum is perhaps the most efficacious technique for ‘reading’ objects connected with an individual. I’ve found numerous missing persons and also located the bodies of murder victims this way. My pendulum was a gift from my grandmother, who was also a psychic…. Using this object along with a map or photograph, I have been able to detect the location of wrongful deaths.”

—Balthazar Frobenius

Gilda’s pendulum: an enormous Everlasting Gobstopper affixed to a lengthy piece of pink yarn.

I know I haven’t said much about the book itself, but to be fair, it is a mystery. Have a great week!

MMGM: Fantastic Beasts Screenplay

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Fantastic Beasts follows Newt, a well-meaning British magizoologist who brings his case of magical creatures to New York. After he bumps into Jacob, a No-Maj (the American word for “muggle”), Newt accidentally lets some of his animals escape.

These fantastic animals, including the Thunderbird, “a creature like a large albatross, its glorious wings shimmering with cloud- and sun-like patterns,” are the best part of the story. As Jacob says in the screenplay and in the movie which barely changes a thing from its source material, “I ain’t got the brains to make this up.” Only Rowling does.

By inadvertently releasing his creatures, Newt has committed a crime, and a former investigator from the Magical Congress of the United States of America, Tina Goldstein, wants to turn him in to authorities. While that’s happening, and Newt desperately tries to find his animals, there’s something else at play: Anti-wizard sentiment is on the rise, with protests against “witchcraft in America.” Also, a manipulative MACUSA security man, Percival Graves, keeps meeting with the shy Credence Barebone, a member of a family of anti-wizard extremists. *

Hey guys! I’m not really ready for another exausting week, but at least I have some great books to keep me company. For example, I finally got the Fantastic Beasts Screenplay! So far, it’s, well fantastic. 😉

Three Good Things:

  1. ALL OF THE CREATURES NAMES. Not that I don’t hang on to every word said by Eddie Redmayne/Newt Scamander, but he sure does have a loooot of creatures in that case, and having the book tell you what they are called and what they look like every time has been great.
  2. INSIGHT INTO WHAT THE CHARACTERS ARE THINKING. Okay, so, in theory actors/actresses do this, and the people acting in Fantastic Beasts did a pretty good job with it, revealing a lot, but there’s some things you just can’t know about a character until you can read their voice on a page, so I really feel like I understand the characters better now.
  3. THE ILLUSTRATIONS. Guys. Besides the fact that the cover is completely gorgeous between the lettering and the coloring and the layout etc., there are drawings of all the creatures in between each… um… chapter? Anyways, it’s really really really pretty and actually maybe my favorite thing about the book at the moment because PICTURES.

Three Bad Things:

  1. IT’S SHORT. It wasn’t meant to be a book, it was meant to be a screenplay, and “Newt does crazy mating dance with magical rhino” (sorry for spoilers if you haven’t seen the movie yet) takes up a lot less room/time to write down/read then it actually did in the movie. So yeah, it’s a quick read.
  2. HARD TO READ WITHOUT SEEING MOVIE FIRST. To be fair, I never read it until after I watched the movie, but as I’m reading it, I can see the movie playing in my head, and while have no evidence for this to be true, it seems to me like reading the book/screenplay without first seeing the movie could quickly become confusing and not entirely enjoyable. Besides which…
  3. NO EDDIE REDMAYNE. This one’s self explanatory, right? I had never heard of Eddie Redmayne before Fantastic Beasts, and now I have plans to send him piles upon piles of fanmail until he responds. And in the screenplay, well, you always have your imagination I suppose, but no Eddie.

That’s it for today! Enjoy your week, and tell me if you liked Fantastic Beasts! (either the movie OR the book version)

*taken from usatoday.com

MMGM: Lodestar

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It’s almost 10:00 on Sunday and I just realized that I forgot to do an MMGM. So I reverted to the classic: Keeper of the Lost Cities! I always have lots to say about it. Here goes:

Dark schemes unfold—and Sophie’s loyalty is pushed to the limit—in this thrilling fifth book in the bestselling Keeper of the Lost Cities series.

Sophie Foster is back in the Lost Cities—but the Lost Cities have changed. The threat of war hangs heavy over her glittering world, and the Neverseen are wreaking havoc.

The lines between friend and enemy have blurred, and Sophie is unsure whom to trust. But when she’s warned that the people she loves most will be the next victims, she knows she has to act.

A mysterious symbol could be the key—if only she knew how to translate it. Every new clue seems to lead deeper into her world’s underbelly and the Black Swan aren’t the only ones who have plans. The Neverseen have their own Initiative, and if Sophie doesn’t stop it, they might finally have the ultimate means to control her.

Okay, so this is a website dedicated to Shannon Messenger. What I’m going to say here, is why.

Three main elements of a book:

  1. The characters. This is probably my favorite thing about Keeper of the Lost Cities. I care about what happens to Sophie, Fitz, Keefe, Dex, Biana, Tam, Linh, etc. so much that it’s a little bit scary sometimes. Because Shannon Messenger just wrote them into existence and with a single sentence, she could kill them. She has all the power here. And what she’s done with that power so far is make me relate to all the characters, even some of the ones I don’t want to, because as this series has progressed, we’ve seen the good and the bad in every character. Lodestar, trying to have no spoilers here, but Lodestar introduces a new character, though not really new, and I’m super excited to find out what’s going to happen with her/him/it, because they have a lot of potential.
  2. The world. Sophie’s world is certainly different form ours, which is interesting because we (as humans) live so nearby to the other intelligent species, but are so far apart in so many non-literal ways. One really interesting thing about the Lost Cities is that they’re supposed to be perfect. Their world is supposed to be the perfect community, and yet it’s hopelessly broken. I think one of the major factors in this is that they can’t allow themselves to feel guilt, or they risk their minds breaking. So if something happens they feel bad about, they just erase the memory; pretend it never happened. How can a society truly function like that for long?
  3. The plot. Obviously, even with great characters, a book would be nothing without a story. One of my favorite parts about reading Shannon Messenger’s books is that she always surprises you. The story might have started out simple, but with every book it grows, and every page brings something unexpected– which sometimes you’re glad it happened, and sometimes not so much. But it keeps you turning the pages.

That’s a brief summary of why I love KOTLC, though I apologize for it not really being specifically Lodestar related. Next week I’ll do this on Saturday! Have a great week. 🙂

MMGM: The Candy Shop War

The Candy Shop War (2007) is a children’s fantasy novel by Brandon Mull about Nate, and his friends, tomboyish Summer, cool Trevor, and smart Paul (who everyone calls Pigeon, due to an incident in third grade), are given magic candy by Belinda White, the owner of a new candy and ice cream shop, but the fun turns sour when she uses their trust to do terrible things, and they have to go to John Dart, an agent that works against bad magicians, and Sebastian, another candy shop owner, but a good magician, unlike Mrs. White.

I first read The Candy Shop War a long time ago, and it’s been well read ever since– in fact, the front cover of it fell off. None of the pages though, and that’s all that matters. This book makes you feel like a kid, excited about all the special candy and its powers. It makes you want to run to a candy shop right away, and buy the lot of it. At first, anyways.

I don’t think I read the plot description of this book before I first read it, because I remember the whole Mrs. White thing really throwing me through a loop. There’s a couple of other plot surprises, though. It’s one of my favorite one of Brandon Mull’s books.

I will say, though, that I didn’t like the sequel all that much. It was alright, of course, but it had this whole magical arcade with pins built into it, and it almost felt like it was set in a differently world, just with the same characters. I tend to think of The Candy Shop War as just a stand alone novel.

These kids have a really cute friendship, and I especially like Summer. She’s kinda awesome. This book also has plenty of action scenes,  but it’s really a very safe book. No goryness, no cussing, no kissing, just good ol’ friendship and magical candy.

John Dart’s a pretty crazy character. I’ve gotta say, it’s been a while since I’ve read this book. Any middle grade book, really, since my English teacher’s been keeping me so busy with vaguely boring reading material. What I mean to say,  is that I don’t quite remember if I liked him or not, but I’m pretty sure I did.

I really did like the creativity of the different types of candy. Müll didn’t just go Classic flying, super strength, talking to animals. I mean, he had those, but he also came up with some really awesome ideas for the candy that are powers I would love to try out.

Also, this book has an excellent ending.

I’d like to end by saying that the reason that I am joining the MMGM group on the second week of the year, instead of on the first, is because I did one last week, but accidentally mistyped Shannon Messengwr’s email. Oops. Anyways, if you’d like to read that one, on Lost in Lexicon, by Pendred Noyce, just scroll down to my previous post and enjoy! Have a great week!