First Strike by Jack Higgins with Justin Richards

“[Readers] will be sucked in and taken on a roller-coaster ride…teens who are enjoying Anthony Horowitz’s and Ally Carter’s books will get a kick out of Jade and Rich as well.”

– School Library Journal for Death Run


In the latest installment of the series involving the British Chance twins and their secret-agent father, the family once again bonds as they duck bullets and fly through the book’s nonstop action. Two sets of villains (Chinese rebels and American right-wing fanatics) infiltrate the White House during a reception in an effort to steal a box containing nuclear launch codes. Fortunately, the Brits are on hand to save the day. Fans of the twins’ exploits will enjoy this thrill ride, which, like the series’ other titles, is an obvious read-alike to the Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz. Grades 6-9. –Todd Morning


I personally thought that this was a quite good book. Since I am a fan of Alex Rider, I immediately was drawn to the book. I also thought that the cover was kind of cool as well. So, this story was about these two kids who were trapped in the White House while it was under the control of terrorists. One of the kids was helping guard the president and the other one was trying to find a way to stop the people. The two children, Jade and Rich, are similar but different. Jade usually is the bait and gets the persons attention, and she likes to do stuff right. Rich, well Rich is more like Alex Rider. He likes to do stuff in the moment and figure out how to kick-ass.

This story kept you turning pages and wanting to read more. But I have to say this. I don’t know how and why people are comparing it to Alex Rider. Yes it is true, if you finished the Alex Rider series and you are thirsty for more, this is the book, but this is nothing like Alex Rider. First of all Alex Rider is better (in my opinion), second Alex is all alone, while in this book there are two kids. Also in this book the kids have their Dad helping from the outside. In Alex Rider, he really was alone, except in dire situations and usually he could get himself out of it. If this book was Alex Rider, Alex would have saved the day. In this book though kids, their dad, and SAS men, and a whole lot of explosives saved the day. Alex never had a gun. In my opinion, this was not as good as Alex Rider at all, but I still believe that it was a decent spy book. I believe the characters could also have been described a little more. But if you are one of those people who likes explosions, guns, and things like that, this is the book for you.

Also I believe that this is a series. This one is book #4 but I do not believe that it matters the order.

#1 Sure Fire
#2 Death Run
#3 Sharp Shot
#4 First Strike





Strike a Chord: My Piano and I

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Strike a Chord.”

Music is the center of my life. It always has been. Yes, it started off with no choice, my mother quite literally forcing me to continue to play the piano (with much whining on my part) but then it developed into a serious, and deep, love. I play all the time. Do I practice for my lessons all the time? Absolutely not. To be blunt, I hate practicing and I’ll definitely avoid doing it, though I know that it is better to do it and it is very productive. I’m the person that loves to just sit down and play. I’m quite good at just sight-reading the music and what I call BS-playing (where you just kind..go with it? xD). But, it sounds pretty good. That’s my problem. ‘Cus I can get by.

The piano has always been my baby. I played an upright for years until my music school, the place I love and adore, decided to sell a few of their older, smaller sized, grands and I begged and pleaded with my parents and was gifted with a new piano. It’s not in great condition, the varnish is very strange (water proof to save it from little children), the music stand doesn’t match the piano, the bench is scratched, some of the notes don’t work and it needs a lot of work (which will cost so much money >Painful face<) but despite all of that, I love it. It’s a familiar friend and we’ve been through so much together. So many hours of practicing, so many moments of me having frustrating moments, moments of fear before competitions. It is, in all honesty, one of my best friends. Call me crazy, I dare you xD, but it’s the honest to god truth. The sound is rich, the keys are powerful, and my hands have developed because of my best friend (no I haven’t named it…yet).

I’m pretty versatile with what I can play. Dabbling in some percussion, recorder, flute, I dabbled in guitar but gave up, and touched the harp. But nothing, absolutely nothing, comes close to piano. Piano and voice together is what I do. And it’s what I live, breathe, and revolve around. No, I can’t go out and say I play about 20 instruments, but I can go out and say “I play the piano” and to me, that is all I need. I don’t need to show off with the number of instruments that I play.

But while I love my instrument, I sometimes hate it. And my reason is weird as heck.

The piano is the least intimate of instruments. You sit on a bench…and press keys. Wow. Yes, don’t get me wrong, there is skill and all instruments require impressive skill to play well, but you don’t get to be with the instruments. Cello you have to hold close to you, violin needs to be held to your body, wind instruments you use your lips, drums you even get to be surrounded by. Piano you sit there. And while most people don’t even think about it, it’s true. You can’t carry your instrument with you places either. Violinists become best friends with their violin, and same with many other instruments. You get an instrument and go everywhere with it. Pianists go to their venue or event and the piano there they aren’t familiar with. The struggle is realllll!!! But, you have to get accustomed to the change and you don’t get that until you mature. Some never get it because they are stubborn. “It doesn’t feel like the one at home.” or “It doesn’t feel like the one I practice on.” You have to get to the level where you become best friends.

My piano teacher is good friends with a famous pianist by the name of Menahem Pressler. During a lesson not so long ago, my teacher told me that Mr. Pressler had made a comment during a master class, and to sum up what was said, he essentially said that pianists have to become best friends with their instrument before they play and find the best quality in the piano and bring it out for the concert. Essentially no piano, especially ones that you play on for a concert once or twice, will be perfect in every way. You just have to find the really positive thing about it. Even if that G is rich, bring that note out and make it the most beautiful note in your piece. The smallest things can make the biggest difference.

Either way. Through everything that has happened in my life in music, it is something I can go back to. I’m the idiot that when I go places for a long period of time one of the first questions I ask is, “Is there a piano nearby?” Music is a constant and the piano is what I do and love. Without it, my life would change drastically. Got a problem? Play it out.

My piano and I will be something that I won’t change and won’t be changed. My piano and I are forever. My piano and I are eternal.

(Deep ending huh? xD)


Book Reviews

All the book reviews done on this blog can be found here in alphabetical order by author.


The Bridesmaid by Hailey Abbott 
MAX CASSIDY Escape from Shadow Island by Paul Adam 
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Trapped by Alison Aimes
George Washington, Spymaster by Thomas B. Allen 
Zahras Paradise by Amir and Khalil 
Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral 


The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker
Tortured Souls: The Legend of Primordium by Clive  Barker
The Lost Years of Merlin
by T.A. Barron (Book #1)

The Seven Songs of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Book #2)
College Safety 101 by Kathleen Baty
When You Lunch With the Emperor by Ludwig Bemelmans
The Name Of This Book Is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Something Wick This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

Digital Fortress by Dan Brown 
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown 
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown 
Inferno by Dan Brown
The Shadow Project by Herbie Brennan
Moloka’i by Alan Brennert 
Bad Kitty Gets a Bath by Nick Bruel 
Spy High by A. J. Butcher


Graceling by Kristen Cashore
Siren’s Call (A Rainshadow Novel) by Jayne Castle

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark
Citizen Kill by Stephen Clark
Shogun by James Clavell
The Naked Roommate: And 107 Issues You Might Run Into In College by Harlan Cohen
Finding Magdalena by Shannon Cordon
How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer 
Dangerous Territory: An Alpha Ops Novella by Emmy Curtis


Raining Embers (Order and Chaos Book 1) by Jessica Dall
The Ledge
by Jim Davidson and Kevin Vaughan

Hacking Timbuktu by Stephen Davis
Outlaw by Stephen Davies 
Horrible Histories: Edinburgh by Terry Deary
Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin 
The Spider and the Fly by Tony Diterlizzi 


Are You My Mother? by P.D Eastman
The Middle School Survival Guide by Arlene Erlbach


The Research Project (The Research Project Trilogy Book 1) by Sarah Fawcett
Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush Book #1) by Becca Fitzpatrick 
Silence (Hush, Hush Book #3) by Becca Fitzpatrick
Star Wars vs. Star Trek by Matt Forbeck 
The Girls’ Book HOW TO BE THE BEST AT EVERYTHING by Juliana Foster 
Who Was Ben Franklin? by Dennis Brindell Fradin 
Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life As A Weapon by Matt Fraction
On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt
Lyrec by Gregory Frost
Inkheart by Cornelia Funk


Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman 
Katana (A Katana Novel Book #1) by Cole Gibson
Senshi (A Katana Novel Book #2) by Cole Gibson
Noah’s Knits by Fiona Goble 
Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Leviathan


Found (The Missing Book #1) by Margaret Peterson Haddix 
The Old Willis Place by Mary Downing Hahn
Riven by Jane Alvey Harris 
Pandora Gets Jealous by Carolyn Hennesy 
Out Of The Dust by Karen Hesse 
First Strike (Book #4) by Jack Higgins
SilverFin (A James Bond Adventure) by Charlie Higson
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge 
Stormbreaker (Alex Rider Book #1) by Anthony Horowitz 
Alex Rider Series (Book #1-9) by Anthony Horowitz
Tiger’s Curse (Tiger’s Curse Series Book #1) by Colleen Houck
Tiger’s Quest (Tiger’s Curse Series Book #2) by Colleen Houck
Tigers Voyage (Tigers Curse Series Book #3) by Colleen Houck
Tiger’s Destiny (Tiger’s Curse Series Book #4) by Colleen Houck
Soldier Boys by Dean Hughes
Into The Wild (Warriors Book #1) by Erin Hunter
Fire and Ice (Warriors Book #2) by Erin Hunter
Forest of Secrets (Warriors Book #3) by Erin Hunter 
Rising Storm (Warriors Book #4) by Erin Hunter
A Dangerous Path (Warriors Book #5) by Erin Hunter
The Darkest Hour (Warriors Book #6) by Erin Hunter
Midnight (Warriors: The New Prophecy Book #1) by Erin Hunter 
Moonrise (Warriors: The New Prophecy Book #2) by Erin Hunter
Dawn (Warriors: The New Prophecy Book #3) by Erin Hunter
Starlight (Warriors: The New Prophecy Book #4) by Erin Hunter 
Twilight (Warriors: The New Prophecy Book #5) by Erin Hunter
Sunset (Warriors: The New Prophecy Book #6) by Erin Hunter
Firestar’s Quest (Warriors Super Edition) by Erin Hunter
The Sight (Warriors: Power of Three Book #1) by Erin Hunter
Dark River (Warriors: Power of Three Book #2) by Erin Hunter
Outcast (Warriors: Power of Three Book #3) by Erin Hunter
Eclipse (Warriors: Power of Three Book #4) by Erin Hunter



A Bargain in Silver (Solis Invicti Book 1) by Josie Jaffrey
Repossessed by A.M Jenkins
The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John 
Dead Mans Cove by Lauren St. John


A Million Shades of Grey by Cynthia Kadohata
Zahras Paradise by Amir and Khalil 
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Misery by Stephen King 
The Mist by Stephen King
Joyland by Stephen King
The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower Book 1) by Stephen King
King Matt the First by Janusz Korczak


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Leviathan
Rules by Cynthia Lord
The Headhunters by Peter Lovesey
The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry
Number the Stars by Louis Lowr
The Young Elites (A Young Elites Novel) by Marie Lu

Kill Switch by Chris Lynch


A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah. J. Maas
A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Dashing Through The Snow by Debbie Macomber
Between Us And The Moon by Rebecca Maizel
Twilight (Book #1) by Stephanie Meyer
Must Love Dukes by Elizabeth Michels
Destiny of the Republic: A Take of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard
Fracture by Megan Miranda
Lord of Rage by Jill Monroe
Strange Magic by Syd Moore
Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery
Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran
The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern
Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Haruki Murakami and Seiji Ozawa 


A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Forsaken by Ken Newman
Evermore by Alyson Noël


A History of Weapons by John O’Bryan
The Flame of Olympus (Pegasus) by Kate Ohearn
Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa
Japanese for Healthcare Professionals by Shigeru Osuka


Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
C3 Corvette 1968-1982: How to Build and Modify – Performance How-To Series by Chris Petris
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot by Dav Pilkey (Review by M.O.M)
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilney (Review by M.O.M)
Die For Me (Revenants Book #1) by Amy Plum 
Until I Die (Revenants Book #2) by Amy Plum 
The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley



Ready or Not? by Tina Radziszewicz
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Ford Small Block Engine Parts Interchange – Performance How-To Series by George Reid
Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Book 1) by Rick Riordan
Jackaby by William Ritter
Somehow Tenderness Survives by Hazel Rochman
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (Book #1) by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book #7) by J.K. Rowling
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan (Reviewed by M.O.M)


She’s So Dead To Us by Kieran Scott
Embrace by Jessica Shirvington (Embrace Series Book #1)
Lost in Yonkers by Niel Simon
Angels’ Blood (Guild Hunter Series Book #1) by Nalini Singh
Archangel’s Blade (Guild Hunter Series Book #5) by Nalini Singh
Guild Hunter Series (Books #1-6) by Nalini Singh 
Archangel’s Shadows (Guild Hunter Series Book #7) by Nalini Singh
Archangel’s Enigma (Guild Hunter Series Book #8) by Nalini Singh
Archangel’s Heart (Guild Hunter Series Book #9) by Nalini Singh
Archangel’s Viper (Guild Hunter Series Book #10) by Nalini Singh
Lord of the Abyss (Royal House of Shadows Book #4)  by Nalini Singh
Slave to Sensation (Psy/Changling Book #1) by Nalini Singh
Visions of Heat (Psy/Changling Book #2) by Nalini Singh
The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle by L.J. Smith
Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
Santa’s Snow Cat by Sue Stainton
Parker by Richard Stark
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedmad
The Hitchhiker by R.L. Stein
Beach Party by R.L. Stein 
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater


The Secret DIARY OF ADRIAN MOLE Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend
Shibumi by Trevanian
The Art of War by Sun Tzu



The Ledge by Jim Davidson and Kevin Vaughan


Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood Book #1) by J.R. Ward 
Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood Book #2) by J.R. Ward
Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood Book #3) by J.R. Ward
Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly
Gol (The Legends of Ansu) by J.W. Webb
McDuffs New Friend by Rosemary Wells
Oh Deer! Coloring Book by Christie Whelan 
Night by Elie Wiesel
Debt Inheritance (Indebted #1) by Pepper Winters 




Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff 


100 Questions You’d Never Ask Your Parents by Elisabeth Henderson and Nancy Armstrong


The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry Summary

“London, 1893. When Cora Seaborne’s husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one, and she never suited the role of society wife. Accompanied by her son Francis – a curious, obsessive boy – she leaves town for Essex, where she hopes fresh air and open space will provide the refuge they need.

When they take lodgings in Colchester, rumours reach them from further up the estuary that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, is immediately enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a previously undiscovered species. As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter’s vicar.

Like Cora, Will is deeply suspicious of the rumours, but he thinks they are founded on moral panic, a flight from real faith. As he tries to calm his parishioners, he and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart, eventually changing each other’s lives in ways entirely unexpected.

Told with exquisite grace and intelligence, this novel is most of all a celebration of love, and the many different guises it can take.”

-From book jacket


This book was an absolutely exquisite read – there really is no other way to put it. First of all, a little bit about the author. She is highly well educated with a PhD in creative writing from Royal Halloway, which is a very well respected university. Additionally, she has been the writer in residence at Gladstone’s Library as well as the UNESCO World City of Literature Writer in Residence in Prague (summarized from book jacket). So clearly she knows her stuff in regards to writing and this is clearly evident within the book.

It is written in an older English kind of style as there are Old English contractions between words, as well as English spelling and longer sentences. It is more like a Jane Austen novel than a newer piece of literature, which I absolutely love. This book is nothing like you will find in the ‘new’ section of your bookstores.

It was definitely a challenging read, to get into it, as it was so different from any other book that one may generally read. It took a few chapters to get into the book and understand the flow of how it would be progressing, but once you did, it was a wonderful story. It was vividly written with beautiful descriptions and you were really able to feel the atmosphere of the book and locations mentioned with great ease.

If you are looking for a book that is fast paced, then this is not your book. It is a very slow story but it keeps you interested. I do not mean slow in a negative way, but there are no fights or action scenes as such. It was a calm book and not once did I have any of my emotions go to an extreme where I had adrenaline pumping or tears streaming down my face. It was all so calm and peaceful which I loved.

There was one small sex scene, which shocked the living daylights out of me. It was so soft and nothing really happened but it was obvious what was happening. And for the time period and what was happening in the story, it shocked me overall and was just so scandalous. In other books I wouldn’t have even batted an eyelash however in this one I was internally going “oh my gosh, wait what?!”

Overall this book was fantastic! It won’t be released in the United States until June 6th, so this is definitely hot off the press. It has been released in the UK for a few months however, like all good things, other countries had to wait for it.

So I do recommend adding this to your wishlist and giving it a buy. It’s an amazing read and a wonderful gift for any book lover in your life. I mean, just look at the cover! Who wouldn’t love to receive a book that was beautiful as that?

Happy Reading and let me know what you all think!


Shannon Cordon Author Info

Shannon CordonBiography
Shannon Condon (1969-) was born in upstate New York and raised in South Florida. She graduated from the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida. While she was married she moved frequently to several states. When she got to North Carolina, she fell in love with the state. Soon she divorced her husband and moved to Greensboro, North Carolina. She and her sons were soon joined by the rest of her family who migrated up from South Florida. Shannon comes from a close knit family and with the help of her parents, she is able to work and raise her three sons. Her dream has always been to write books. In 2015 she got that chance and the result is her debut novel, Finding Magdalena. It will pull at your heartstrings from the first few pages and hold you captive until the shattering climax.

BookBear logo Disclaimer: These questions are courtesy of BookBear.

Q & A

1. When did you realise you wanted to become an author?
I realized I wanted to be a writer when I was in high school and went to college with that goal in mind. Of course, life happens and it wasn’t until recently that I have had the opportunity to realize my dream.
2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The message I want readers to take away from this book is abuse in teenage relationships and at the teenage level, whether in a relationship or not, is a very real thing. I think girls are particularly susceptible at college when they are away from home and looking for security which is often equated with a boyfriend. Abuse can come in many forms and I knew many girls who experienced it, myself included.
3. What genre do you consider your book(s)?
My book has been labeled by the publisher as coming of age/ young adult. Due to the nature of the content, I would recommend it for 15+.
4. What was the hardest part of writing this book?  
I think the hardest part of writing this book was keeping the length to a reasonable length. I had a lot more I wanted to add to the book but had been advised not to go over a certain word count. Fortunately, that is what sequels are for.

5. Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advice to other writers is not to get discouraged. I received lots of rejection letters before I decided to self publish. I am still sending query letters to publishers. Just because what you write doesn’t strike a chord with one agent doesn’t mean another won’t love it. The most important thing is to believe in yourself and make sure you EDIT your manuscript before you send any part of it to an agent.

6. How long does it take you to write a book?


It’s hard to put a timeline on how long it takes me to write a book. I can spend a couple of months developing a book and the characters before I actually put a single word on my computer.  Once I begin writing, however, I would say it takes about six to eight months.  I am constantly rewriting in my head even as I am writing on my computer and this leads to deleted chapters and backtracking. It’s important to me that when I am done, the characters are strong and the story fluid.


7. What books have most influenced your life most?

I think the books that have had the greatest influence on me are the ones that I don’t want to end. They draw me in so much that I am immersed in another world. Some examples would be my all time favorite, ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding and the Hunger Games series.


8. What are you working on at the minute?

Right now I am working on the sequel to Finding Magdalena. I am very excited about it because I feel that Maggie is growing as a woman and in strength. There will be a lot of surprises and I hope everyone who has been asking for a sequel will be asking for more!


9. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead characters from your book?
To be honest, I cannot think of any current actress who could play Maggie. She is such a unique character. I would envision a new face playing her if a movie was made of Finding Magdalena.

10. What’s is your book about?
My book is about a girl named who suffers a terrible tragedy at fifteen. As she begins to recover with the help of her best friend, Graham, she meet’s her roommate’s older brother, Eric. He becomes obsessed with Maggie. His obsession becomes violent and he abuses and sexually tortures her. She flees to Spain to attend college and try to find her mother’s estranged family. Just as she settles into what she believes is a safe life, Eric finds her and she begins a journey across Europe to escape him that draws upon all her strength and shows her the woman she is meant to be.