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Showing posts from 2011

What's in store for The Masquerade Crew in 2012?

Before I delve into our plans for the upcoming months and year in general, I would like to take a look back at 2011. This blog started near the end of August of this year and didn't really gain speed until we ran a series of Harry Potter themed posts during October. Bec ran a giveaway on our sister Tumblr blog during our Harry Potter-thon.

Around that same time we started doing reviews for authors we met on Twitter. The first one was Orpheus by Dan DeWitt. (@Dan_DeWitt) Since then we have posted 15 other requested reviews for a total of 16 requested reviews in 2011. Most of these are either self-published or went through small Indie publishing companies. That's where we want to focus for 2012. More on that later.

"No animals were injured in the writing of this book." #BookReview

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Next Time We Steal The Carillon
by Louie Flann

Book Synopsis
Our student detectives have been tasked with the job of finding the stolen school antique. Signs point to witches or some magic people. Then, some other signs point to collectors, and yet other signs point to thieves. Too many signs!

You'll be pleased to know that in the end, they sort all the signs out. Yes, there is a little innocent flirtation going on, and yes, there are some college hijinx going on, and yes, there is some serious detecting going on. These are kids you'd be proud to have as your sons or daughters or mothers or fathers or pastors.

Please note: No animals were injured in the writing of this book.

Book Review: Hoot Hoot by Stephen Dickmann

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Book Synopsis

Upon returning from his dream vacation, Ray Harrison is a changed and refreshed man. Little does he know that his world has turned dark and deadly. His life takes an unforeseen turn. When bizarre and tragic events began to unfold, he must ask himself if these are all of coincidence, or do they have a deeper, more sinister connection.

As you follow Ray through this suspenseful novel of mystique, you will find that he is in fact in a race against time for the lives of his loved ones, and perhaps his very own. With the messenger of death one step ahead of him, Ray must struggle to find a way to stop the chaos.

Hoot Hoot takes you on a dark and deadly journey through the life of one man, and his family. It is a must read for any suspense/mystery lover. This novel is based upon true events.

"The Story in the Stars is a page turner." #BookReview

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The Story in the Stars
by Yvonne Anderson

Book Synopsis
Though heirs to an ancient, cosmic feud, he must save her life—and she must save his soul.

Ancient Gannah was well on the way to taking over the whole galaxy, until the people of Karkar engineered a virus that stopped them in their tracks. Now, eight centuries later, the plague has struck again. When the League of Planets receives the distress signal, Karkar-born doctor Pik is ordered to find a cure, despite his hatred of the whole Gannahan race. By the time he arrives on Gannah, it’s almost too late; Dassa is the only survivor. And she has a mission of her own.

Dassa and Pik survive a pirate attack, unsafe starcraft, food poisoning, vicious beasts, and a plane crash. But the hardest part is enduring one another’s company. The Creator who wrote the story of redemption in the stars has commanded her to share it with her reluctant savior. That’s not all He expects of her, but the rest is unthinkable.

Retweet Please: Help @MasqCrew get 1,000 Twitter followers by the end of the year.

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According to TwitterCounter.com, we've had an average of 9 new followers per day since we launched some months back. At that rate, we would come close to hitting 1,000 by the end of the year, missing it by only a few. (Based upon my calculation this morning. Of course, I am taking care of two kids under 3 as well, so I could be off some.)

Help us push to 1,000 followers and beyond.

Follow us if ... If you like books. If you like book reviews. If you are a writer. If you would like us to review your book. If we have reviewed your book. If you would like to write a book. If you are in the process of writing a book. If there is a reason I have not listed.



And while you're at it, follow us on Facebook as well.

Short Story Review: Saint Nick and the Fir Tree by Nancy Adams

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Story Synopsis
It's the day after Christmas and Saint Nick's on vacation. His first stop: the little town of Greenwood, where he meets a most unusual Tree. Nick and the Tree go out on the town, but a freak snowstorm brings their festivities to an unexpected conclusion.

"I'll have to reread this book a few more times to absorb all of the good information." #Kindle #BookReview

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Character Development From The Inside Out
by Scott Morgan
Genre: Non-Fiction Book Synopsis
No matter what genre you write, your readers all want the same thing – they want to be part of the show. Here’s the secret: If you want to engage readers, you need great characters, and writing great characters starts with writing great people. Character Development from the Inside Out tells you how to do just that!

5-Star Review: "If you find yourself scared while reading, don’t say I didn’t warn you."

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The Punished
by Peter Meredith
Genre: Horror Book Synopsis
12-year-old Curt Regis lives the carefree life of a beggar and a thief. Homeless since the age of six, he uses his guile and street smarts, as well as a glib, smooth lying tongue to reign as king of the street rats. So when he is caught breaking into a school and is sent back into foster care for the ninth time, he is quite confident that not only will it be a short stay, he will also be gone again in a day or two with a new set of clothes on his back and his bag filled with silverware, jewelry and maybe if he is really lucky, a Play station to pawn.

He is a veritable modern day Artful Dodger, with his breezy, devil-may-care attitude. However, his luck has run out. This time he is sent to what many in the foster-care system consider the perfect home. It is a home from which no one has ever runaway. A beautiful home where not a word of complaint is ever heard, where in fact, very few words are ever spoken and where the only real…

"It has the polish that you would find in a professionally published book." #Kindle #BookReview

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A Soul to Steal
by Rob Blackwell
Genre: Mystery Book Synopsis
You Are What You Fear.

Something is stalking the citizens of Loudoun County, Va. Is it the return of the notorious serial killer known as Lord Halloween? Or is it something worse—a figure that can cloak itself as your worst nightmare? Kate and Quinn, two community journalists, rush to uncover the truth before a promised bloodbath on Halloween night.

The debut novel from award-winning journalist Rob Blackwell, A Soul to Steal balances suspense, romance, action and the paranormal, building to a gripping and unforgettable conclusion. For readers who enjoy Stephen King, Stephanie Meyer and Jim Butcher, A Soul to Steal is the perfect autumn (or winter) novel.

"If you’re looking for something light and fun with a little bit of mystery." #Kindle #BookReview

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Mind Over Matter
by S.J. Clarke
Genre: Paranormal Romance Book Synopsis
For three years Rebecca McKenney grieved the loss of her daughter. Now, a vision showing Sabrina three years older, suggests her baby is still alive, and the FBI agent who gave up the search is the only one who can help find her. Rebecca once witnessed a psychic connection between Agent Cooper and her daughter. She only hopes their fragile bond remains – and that the coward has the decency to pursue it.

Special Agent Dan Cooper, haunted by a tragic mistake made early in the investigation, agrees to help Rebecca to ease his conscience, if nothing else. Together they fight inner demons, all too real bad guys, and an attraction neither wants to admit to. Each step closer to finding her daughter unearths wide-spread deception and an evil so vile it threatens to break Rebecca's spirit. The thought of having her daughter back in her arms is all that keeps her going. Until she learns the horrifying truth – her daughte…

"This story is a heart breaking one and one that has been well written." #Kindle #BookReview

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Small as a Mustard Seed
by Shelli Johnson
Genre: Historical Book Synopsis
As a child in 1960′s rural Ohio, Ann Marie Adler finds herself caught between her father, Frank, a veteran who survived the war in Korea but with devastating post-traumatic stress, and her mother, Adele, who is blindsided by the mental illness that accompanied him home. In a series of escalating dangerous episodes, Frank confuses reality with soul-searing memories, believing he’s still a soldier fighting for his life in battle-torn Korea. During the delusions, Ann Marie and her younger sister, Jolene, become the enemy, which leaves them fearing for their lives. Unable to fully protect her daughters, Adele scrambles to keep order while her husband’s threatening and unpredictable outbursts slowly tear the family apart.

"Daniel Ruyter has much experience in the dating scene, with stories and matching advice to go with it." #BookReview

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Memoirs of a Dating Dad
by Daniel Ruyter
Genre: Memoir, Advice Book Synopsis
Sometimes crazy, sometimes meaningful, always insightful – all of my experiences in dating as a single dad have taught me some very valuable life lessons. Memoirs of a Dating Dad is ten chapters of hilarity, sadness, anticipation and disappointment – all of the feelings and emotions that are inevitable when dating in today’s jungle.

"Ms. Thompson has a real gift for character analysis." #Kindle #BookReview

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Pterripus: The Awakening
by Kristl Thompson
Genre: Fantasy Book Synopsis
Buthania waits for the child of Earth to choose her destiny... Between our world and theirs, a storm threatens the veil that binds them. Fate has decided there is only one who can restore the balance...she just doesn't know it yet. How can Lilly be the key to their salvation when she can barely control the dangerous magick within her, magick she never knew existed? There are those who carry the knowledge of her potential, and those who would stop at nothing to prevent her from reaching it. Until now, Her Majesty Dagana has been still, preparing in secret for the coming war, awaiting the day her adversary will arrive to be trained by the great Masters, when the forces of dark and light will collide. Beliefs built from childhood will combine with those never imagined to create an understanding that will prepare Lilly for her destiny, bridging the gap between what was...what is...and what will be.

Description from…

"The best bit about this book is the humour." #Kindle #BookReview

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Force of Habit
by Marian Allen
Genre: Science Fiction Book Synopsis
Isobel Enid Schuster never planned to go into space. She almost wished there had been no Vatican III, and the clergy had not gone co-ed, or at least the Jesuits had not.

But all those things had happened. The Galactic Union Space-Troopers teamed up with the St. Bennedetta Jesuits to form the Space Academy Preparatory School, and now Bel is a Professor of Extra-Terrestrial Humanities and Value Systems on a starship.

Restricted shore leave on the planet Llannonn is better than staying on the ship, especially when Bel swaps clothes with a close-look-alike Llannonninn woman and slips out to see the sights. But the woman is the target of a criminal from another planet. The woman thinks Bel is a police agent, come to take her place. The criminal thinks Bel is his target. Yet another criminal thinks Bel is a VIP he can kidnap and hold for ransom.

The only thing between Bel and a life of slavery in the provinces is the tenuo…

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Writing Tips—How to Develop Characters (Tips from the Crew Part Two)

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In the first part of this series, we presented five tips to help you develop characters. The following are the remaining five general tips from the crew.

Writing Tips—How to Develop Characters (Tips from the Crew Part One)

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The perfect character should not be very perfect at all, because when we get down to it, no one wants to read a story filled with Mary-Sues and Gary-Stus. So how do we do it? How do we create the (near) perfect character?

The following are the first five general tips offered by the crew. Another set of tips to follow soon.

"Give this story a chance and it might surprise you too." #Kindle #BookReview

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Zombie Bible: Death has come up into our Windows
by Stant Litore
Genre: Horror Book Synopsis
595 BC. God is weeping behind her veil in the Temple while the dead are eating her city, and her cries emerge through the lips of the prophet Yirmiyahu. Trapped in a dry well while his gaolers toss zombies in after him, the prophet will have to survive the hungry dead, dehydration, and some truly wrenching memories -- memories of atrocities witnessed, lives lost, and sacrifices made that shatter the heart. This is the first installment of The Zombie Bible; it's full of violence, passion, religious clashes, and the irrevocable moaning of the walking dead. Read this story. It has teeth. And heart.

"It was exciting, and suitably horrible." #Kindle #BookReview

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Beneath
by Adrian Price
Genre: Horror, Short Story Book Synopsis
An excellent bite sized read! A sudden string of disappearances at Buffalo Lake is enough cause for panic for the people of Buffalo Bend, but they have even more to fear when a far greater mystery is uncovered during the investigation at the lake.

From Amazon Kindle product description

"This is a classic story of good versus evil, trust versus betrayal, and love versus debilitating hatred."

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Trueblood's Plight
by E.S. Lark
Genre: Fantasy Book Synopsis
Extract from ebook blurb:

Thirty years have passed since the clan’s flight from Tesmar, their beloved gryphon city. Three decades spent searching for safer shores, a place to repopulate and for some, to bury the truth of an age-old prophecy.

Until now.

Ava always knew she was different, from her pale plumage to her silver eyes, but being a Trueblood—a giphen who can use all forms of magic—takes ‘special’ to a whole new level. With overprotective elders and the enemy advancing from the north, Ava struggles to balance her time on and off the battlefield.

We Are Now Actively Accepting Book Review Requests

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I would like to start this post by saying thank you for all of the interest shown during our special month of Harry Potter material. From some of your comments here on the blog, on Twitter, and on Tumblr, we can tell that our reviews and analyses brought smiles to your faces. We are happy. We hope to continue this trend. With your help and suggestions we can do this.

With the start of a new month, we eagerly look forward to new things on the horizon. From the title of this post, the most significant thing is the fact that Bec C. now has a Kindle. I've been hesitant about sending word out that we want books to review because I was unsure how many books we could handle at one time. That isn't as much an issue anymore. Bec is a voracious reader, so we should be able to handle a lot more than we could last month. Sharon Flood is also a heavy reader, so I suspect you will see lots from her as well. The rest of us will help out where we can.

To handle the influx (hopefully) of bo…

Harry Potter—Character Analysis: Sorting Snape

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By Bec C. “I sometimes think we sort too soon”. With these words from Dumbledore in the books, and a carefully placed Gryffindor scarf in the movies (if you noticed it you know what I’m talking about), Snape’s whole identity, because in a Hogwarts universe our houses in part define who we are, was placed into question. Suddenly debates abounded. Was Snape truly a Slytherin? Or, like both the books and the movies implied, was Snape secretly a Gryffindor after all? After all, Snape has shown great bravery, and as Slytherins are the bad guys and Gryffindors are the goodies, the brave ones, then surely Snape is a Gryffindor? Right? Before we can get onto the topic of Snape’s true house, I want to examine these two houses, and the concept that while one is brave and good, the other is dark and evil.

Book Review #2: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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Book Synopsis
As the novel begins, Harry, Ron and Hermione are on the run from Lord Voldemort, whose minions of Death Eaters have not only taken control of the Minister of Magic but have begun to systematically -- and forcibly -- change the entire culture of the magic community: Muggle-born wizards, for example, are being rounded up and questioned, and all blood traitors are being imprisoned. But as Voldemort and his followers ruthlessly pursue the fugitive with the lightning bolt scar on his forehead, Potter finally uncovers the jaw-dropping truth of his existence.... (from goodreads)

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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Book Synopsis
The final installment of the Harry Potter saga! The final book has everything that will make your heart go wild with enthusiasm, excitement, and fear. After seeing Harry trudge along the winding path to Death, we see it all coming to an end very soon. Will it end how you expected, or differently? Read to find out!

Harry Potter and the Test of Time

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By Ciel W. The Harry Potter series are, undoubtedly, very popular books for this generation. It has fascinated, and still does, millions of fans worldwide. Out of these millions, more than half were (and are) only kids when they started reading, hence growing with Harry, creating an eternal bond of friendship and understanding. Additionally, some of these millions of readers are parents reading to their small children, seeding in them the love of reading. Harry Potter has marked its place in the top favorite reading choices of children, teenagers, and adults all over the world. Its increasing popularity has made the book very successful. However, does being popular and successful mean that it’s a “Classic” and will stand the test of time?

Many times when we refer to the word “Classic” we are referencing the Western Cannon, which denotes literary, artistic, and musical influences in shaping the Western culture (i.e. Europe, America, etc.). In the literary aspect, it is a book that is…

Book Review #2: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Book Synopsis
As the novel begins, a "grim mood" has fallen over the country. The minions of Lord Voldemort (a.k.a. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) continue to grow as his evil spreads. The Ministry of Magic has stepped up security everywhere, and as Harry enters his sixth year at Hogwarts, he begins to see himself -- and everyone around him -- in a different, more discerning, light. With rumors swirling about Harry being the prophesied "Chosen One," he begins taking private lessons from Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

As Dumbledore prepares Harry for his destined clash with Voldemort by revealing jaw-dropping insights into the Dark Lord's past—who his parents were, what happened after he left Hogwarts, and more—Harry also struggles to uncover the identity of the Half-Blood Prince, the past owner of a potions textbook he now possesses that is filled with ingenious, potentially deadly, spells.

(taken from good reads)

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Book Synopsis
Sixth year at Hogwarts.

Harry Potter—Books vs Films

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By Charlotte Parr ‘They were good but nothing like the books’. A common phrase that I often hear after coming out of the cinema when a much-loved book has been turned into a film. It doesn’t make the film bad; they’re just not quite the same.

The Harry Potter films have sparked off a whole different group of fans, those that have seen the films but not read the books and personally, I think they’re missing out on a lot. As great as the films are there are other bits of detail that are skipped out in the films. For example, early on in the series a comment is made about Peeves, Hogwart’s resident poltergeist, knocking something over which leads to a large crash. Although at the time it seems insignificant we later learn that the item Peeves knocked over was the vanishing cabinet that appears later in the series. Although this did not affect the plot of the films in any way, it was a shame that they couldn’t include these small details that made me smile.

Harry Potter—Character Analysis: Sorting Snape Part Two

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By Bec C. It cannot be doubted that Snape displayed extreme bravery. He was willing to lay down his life, on the chance that Harry would be able to defeat Voldemort. He was willing to risk everything for to protect Lily Evans, and then later, Harry Potter, the last remnant of Lily herself. But does this bravery truly make him a Gryffindor instead of a Slytherin? Is it possible to be brave without being in the house that prides itself on bravery? First let’s examine the notion of bravery.

Book Review #4: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Book Synopsis
Fifth year at Hogwarts.

Book Review #3: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Book Synopsis
From Amazon.com
As his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry approaches, 15-year-old Harry Potter is in full-blown adolescence, complete with regular outbursts of rage, a nearly debilitating crush, and the blooming of a powerful sense of rebellion. It's been yet another infuriating and boring summer with the despicable Dursleys, this time with minimal contact from our hero's non-Muggle friends from school. Harry is feeling especially edgy at the lack of news from the magic world, wondering when the freshly revived evil Lord Voldemort will strike. Returning to Hogwarts will be a relief...or will it?

Book Review #2: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Book Synopsis
Harry Potter returns to his fifth year at Hogwarts. No one believes his story about Voldemort's return and Cedric Diggory's death. To make matters worse, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Dolores Umbridge, is the most horrible, awful teacher they've met. Apparently, the Ministry has put her there to spy on Hogwarts and stop people from believing Voldemort is back. Harry has strange dreams of locked doors and very long hallways. What could it all mean?

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Book Synopsis
In the richest installment yet of J.K. Rowling's seven-part story, Harry Potter is faced with the unreliability of the very government of the magical world and the impotence of the authorities at Hogwarts.

Despite this (or perhaps because of it), he finds depth and strength in his friends, beyond what even he knew; boundless loyalty; and unbearable sacrifice.

Though thick runs the plot (as well as the spine), readers will race through these pages and leave Hogwarts, like Harry, wishing only for the next train back.

(taken from goodreads)

Harry Potter—House Analysis

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By Bec C. The four houses of Harry Potter produce much debate among fans, arguments based on what house a person is in. When you were a child everyone wanted to be in Gryffindor, along with Harry. This was where all the good guys are after all. Nobody wanted to be in Slytherin, unless you wanted to look tough, for that was for bad guys or evil and mean people. However, as you grew up you learnt that the houses were not nearly so black and white, and that in each person might be found traits of the four houses. Even the members of Gryffindor were debated, questions asked as to whether Hermione wouldn’t have been better suited in Ravenclaw, and Neville in Hufflepuff. And yet bot members proved themselves, and with the aid of suiting hat quizzes, and the newly opened Pottermore scores of Harry Potter fans are getting the chance to prove their house identities as well. But is it as simple as being only one house? And is it the end of the world if another house is chosen for you?

Book Review #3: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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Book Synopsis
Harry Potter and his friends adventures continues with the fourth installment!

Book Review #2: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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Book Synopsis
The summer holidays are dragging on and Harry Potter can't wait for the start of the school year. It is his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and there are spells to be learned, potions to be brewed and Divination lessons (sigh) to be attended. Harry is expecting these: however, other quite unexpected events are already on the march...

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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Book Synopsis
Once returned to Hogwarts after his summer holiday with the dreadful Dursleys and an extraordinary outing to the Quidditch World Cup, the 14-year-old Harry and his fellow pupils are enraptured by the promise of the Triwizard Tournament: an ancient, ritualistic tournament that brings Hogwarts together with two other schools of wizardry--Durmstrang and Beauxbatons--in heated competition. But when Harry's name is pulled from the Goblet of Fire, and he is chosen to champion Hogwarts in the tournament, the trouble really begins. Still reeling from the effects of a terrifying nightmare that has left him shaken, and with the lightning-shaped scar on his head throbbing with pain (a sure sign that the evil Voldemort, Harry's sworn enemy, is close), Harry becomes at once the most popular boy in school. Yet, despite his fame, he is totally unprepared for the furore that follows.

This is an excerpt from the Amazon product description.

How Harry Potter Has Impacted My Life

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By Bec C. Growing up I was always the nerdy girl, the book worm, the one who excelled on all the tests. While in primary school I was not treated differently due to this (and had a healthy rivalry with a boy in the class, both competing to see who could score higher on tests). In high school I began to see how uncool it was to be the smart girl. I was picked on for this, and had people try to befriend me in order to copy off my tests.

Enter Hermione Granger and the Harry Potter series into my life. Apart from making me wish I could enter the Wizarding World and study subjects such as transfiguration and Defence against the Dark Arts, I began to realise that it was okay to be the bookworm, that you could still have close friends and be the smart ones, that you don’t need the newest clothes to be cool. Harry Potter helped my self esteem and helped me accept myself.

Book Review #3: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Book Synopsis
During Harry's third year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he must face his greatest challenge yet: a confrontation with Sirius Black, an escaped convict and madman who is rumored to be in cahoots with Harry's archenemy, the Dark Wizard Lord Voldemort. This alone would be daunting enough, but Harry's task is made even more trying when he discovers that Sirius is suspected of being the one who killed Harry's parents.

Book Review #2: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Book Synopsis
Harry Potter's third year at Hogwarts.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Book Synopsis
From Amazon: For most children, summer vacation is something to look forward to. But not for our 13-year-old hero, who's forced to spend his summers with an aunt, uncle, and cousin who detest him. The third book in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series catapults into action when the young wizard accidentally causes the Dursleys' dreadful visitor Aunt Marge to inflate like a monstrous balloon and drift up to the ceiling. Fearing punishment from Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon (and from officials at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who strictly forbid students to cast spells in the nonmagic world of Muggles), Harry lunges out into the darkness with his heavy trunk and his owl Hedwig.

As it turns out, Harry isn't punished at all for his errant wizardry. Instead he is mysteriously rescued from his Muggle neighborhood and whisked off in a triple-decker, violently purple bus to spend the remaining weeks of summer in a friendly inn called the Leaky Cauld…

Harry Potter—It's Impact and My Experience

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By Ciel W. Harry Potter is more than just a book; it’s a promise of something better.

I am the type of person that would recommend Harry Potter to everyone, even though it might not suit their reading style. I would constantly tell people to read them. If they didn’t like it, well, I will respect their opinion. However, I will argue my point in favor of the books in hopes of changing their negative opinion about it, at least a little. If they really enjoy it, as much or even more than I do, I would engage them in endless conversations about the themes, characters, settings, and feelings the books evoke in us. This is how strongly I feel about the Harry Potter books. It is one of those books that you’d want everyone to read, at least once.

Book Review #3: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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Book Synopsis
Harry's on summer break after completing his first year at the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, and his aunt, uncle, and cousin are as mean as ever, trying at every turn to keep him from fulfilling his destiny as a wizard. Their efforts to prevent his return to Hogwarts are aided by an unknown force: a mysterious elf who shows up and warns Harry that he must never return to the school. (taken from Goodreads)

Book Review #2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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Book Synopsis
Young wizard, Harry Potter, is in his second year at Hogwarts.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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Book Synopsis
Ever since Harry Potter had come home for the summer, the Dursleys had been so mean and hideous that all Harry wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature who says that if Harry returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor and a spirit who haunts the girl's bathroom. But then the real troble begins—someone is turning Hogwarts students into stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious pat is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwart most suspects...Harry Potter himself!

Book Review #3: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's (Sorcerer's) Stone by J.K. Rowling

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Book Synopsis
Harry Potter thinks he is an ordiary boy—until he is rescued by an owl, taken to Hogarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel.The Reason: Harry Potter is a Wizard. (taken from the book back cover)

Harry Potter—Shaping a Generation

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By Charlotte Parr The Harry Potter series has taken a significant place on the world stage, inspiring many readers and, for some, shaping their childhood. I was one of the children of the Harry Potter generation, one of the ones who grew up waiting for the next installment.

It’s hard to put my finger on what makes Harry Potter so great and why it has become the success that it is. The world of Hogwarts has become a magical place that everyone wishes they went to school, Harry Potter is the wizard everyone wants to know and Voldemort is the villain we all love to hate.

Calling All Book Lovers #BookReview #BookBlogger

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Yes you. No, not the person behind you. I’m talking to you.

The Masquerade Crew wants you. We are looking for guest bloggers and reviews to post on our blog, and you could get that chance.

We are giving book bloggers, tumblrites, facebookers, twitterers and any and everyone in between a chance to be featured on our blog as a guest reviewer. It’s not too hard to do. All you need is to read a book and fill out one form.

We are reaching out to our existing fans and hoping to establish relationships with new fans. One primary focus will be with fellow book bloggers, but anyone can be accepted as a reviewer. If you operate a blog about books and would like to submit a book review to be included on our site, please do so. We will gladly link to your blog in the review and add you to our blogroll in the sidebar. It would be appreciated if you would do the same. You don’t even have to be the author of the review. If one of your fans would like to submit a book review (and they don’t have…

Book Review #2: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's (Sorcerer's) Stone by J.K. Rowling

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Book Synopsis
Taken from Book blurb:

Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a clock ofinvisibility. All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry's room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in eleven years. But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger:a letter to an invitation to an incredible place that Harry -and anyone who reads about him- will find unforgettable. For it's there that he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic in everything from classes to meals, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him...if Harry can survive the encounter.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's (Sorcerer's) Stone by J.K. Rowling

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Book Synopsis

What did Harry Potter know about magic? He was stuck with the decidedly un-magical Dursleys, who hated him. He slept in a closet and ate their leftovers. But an owl messenger changes all that, with an invitation to attend the Hogwarts School for Wizards and Witches, where it turns out Harry is already famous.

"There are some exciting twists and turns that make for heart pumping suspense." #Kindle #BookReview

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Orpheus
by Dan DeWitt
Genre: Horror Book Synopsis

Cameron Holt is fortunate enough to survive the initial outbreak that turns his New England island community into a hive of the undead. So is his son, Ethan. Now, the only thing keeping Holt going is the determination to rescue his son from the undead...or remove him permanently from their ranks. Unfortunately, zombies aren't the only thing getting in his way.

Calling All Harry Potter Fans!

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October is going to be a special month for The Masquerade Crew. We are going to showcase anything and everything Harry Potter. This includes reviews of each of the books, analyses of the series in general, reviews and analyses of the movies in relation to the books, and anything else we think of along the way. Our Amazon Ads on the right sidebar of both the main site and our Tumblr spin-off will feature Harry Potter material. A lot of the material we are starting off with has been written by Bec C., one of our dedicated inhouse Harry Potter fans. However great she may be, she can't do it all. We need your help.

Writing Tips—How To Make A Story Interesting

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Bored readers don't buy books. If a reader buys your book and gets bored, they won't buy your next book. What is a writer to do? How can one spice up a story so that readers don't start yawning and fall asleep? We present six tips to get you started.

Book Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

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Book Synopsis

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn’t expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves-Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body’s desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she’s never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

Organizing a Plot or Storyline

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So, you have an idea for a story. What do you do now? Perhaps your idea is very simple. How do you organize yourself so that you can fill in the gaps? Try out some of these tips.

An Imperfect Fairytale
Chapter 2.1

By Charlotte Parr
‘King of spades,’ Damia announced as she laid her card on the table, her expression cool, calm and collected. Her dark hair was pulled back tightly, away from her face, in an intricate knot. Across the table from her, Rowena sat with her hair falling loosely over her shoulders and down towards her waist. She studied her cards closely before taking from her hand and laying the card on top of Damia’s.

‘Three of spades.’ They’d been playing for a few hours, and Rowena was winning seven games to five. She didn’t think Damia was trying very hard, though. People weren’t meant to beat royalty, and those that did usually paid for it. Damia put down the three of clubs, rapping the table with her knuckles as she did so.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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Book Synopsis

When Pip is young, he helps a convict on the moors, shortly before being summoned to mysterious Miss Havisham’s house and meeting the beautiful, but cold-hearted, Estella. A gift of money leads him away from the blacksmith life he has known into London to learn to become a gentleman. But, as Pip becomes a man, Estella is still in his mind, as is the secret of who is his unnamed benefactor.

Testing Checkboxes

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An Imperfect Fairytale
Chapter 1.3

By Charlotte Parr

‘There’s someone coming!’ Rowena pressed her nose against the window, her eyes squinting to see the far off figure. ‘Damia, come and look.’ Damia walked quickly across the room and leaned over Rowena’s shoulder to see outside. ‘Where my lady?’ She squinted, straining to see.

‘Over there on the horizon.’ Rowena pointed, but Damia could still not see anything.

‘I think you’ve been looking out of the window for far too long, Crown Princess.’ Damia gently took the Princess’s arm and led her away from the window. ‘I think you need to rest for a while. Stop worrying about what might be out there. You’re not going to make your prince come any faster by looking for him.’

Writer's Block—Dream Your Way Out Of It

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By Sharon Flood We all do it, but we don't always use it to our advantage. I daydream to keep the creative juices flowing when I'm staring at a blank page and don't know how to fill it. Here's a few examples on how to use daydreaming constructively.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

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Book Synopsis

Have you ever wondered what your dog is thinking?

Meet one funny dog—Enzo, the lovable mutt who tells this story. Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: most dogs love to chase cars, but Enzo longs to race them. He learns about racing and the world around him by watching TV and by listening to the words of his best friend, Denny, an up-and-coming race car driver, and his daughter, ZoË, his constant companion. Enzo finds that life is just like being on the racetrack—it isn't simply about going fast. And, applying the rules of racing to his world, Enzo takes on his family's challenges and emerges a hero. In the end, Enzo holds in his heart the dream that Denny will go on to be a racing champion with his daughter by his side. For theirs is an extraordinary friendship—one that reminds us all to celebrate the triumph of the human (and canine) spirit.

Writer's Block—Tips From the Crew (Part 2)

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After the first installment of our Writer's Block series was written and ready to go, more tips started coming in. It soon became obvious we had enough for another post. We start this one with a tip so common that I am surprised we didn't include it before.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

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Book Synopsis

The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a friend to the poor, a ghost that walks through walls. Slightly built and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny. All of Locke's gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves: The Gentlemen Bastards. The capricious, colourful underworld of the ancient city of Camorr is the only home they've ever known. But now a clandestine war is threatening to tear it apart. Caught up in the middle of a murderous game, Locke and his friends are suddenly struggling to stay alive.

An Imperfect Fairytale
Chapter 1.2

By Charlotte Parr
‘Why are you so hard on Vincent?’ Rowena asked as she gratefully ate the grapes Vincent had stolen for her. ‘He’s only trying to be kind.’

‘You don’t understand, Crown Princess. He’s only trying to win your favour so he can prove himself to his mother. In fact, I’m not even sure what he’s told us about Narcissa is true at all,’ she said, cutting into her apple very delicately.

‘But he is so genuine, Damia, and look at what he’s done for us—both of us. Getting us nice things to eat and beautiful clothes to wear, just like we were back at home.’

Writer's Block—Tips From The Crew (Part 1)

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Writer's block can be devastating to a writer. It can halt you in your tracks, and you end up sitting there feeling helpless. Here's some good news, though. Every writer goes through it, and many of them have figured out ways to combat the evil demon. Your job as a struggling writer is to try various things until you find something that works for you, which sums up the first of six tips presented below.

Forgotten by Cat Patrick

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Book Synopsis

(taken from blurb of book)


Each night at precisely 4:33 am, while sixteen-year-old London Lane is asleep, her memory of that day is erased. In the morning, all she can remember are events from her future. London is used to relying on reminder notes and a trusted friend to get through the day, but things get complicated when a new boy at school enters the picture. Luke Henry is not someone you'd easily forget, yet try as she might, London can't find him in her memories of things to come.

When London starts experiencing disturbing flashbacks, or flash-forwards, as the case may be, she realizes it's time to learn about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.

Harry Potter Detailed Analyses

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Summer of Roses by Luanne Rice

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Book Synopsis

(taken from blurb of book)


On the windswept coast of Nova Scotia, two friends and their young daughters have found refuge in the rugged community of Cape Hawk. Lily Malone and nine-year-old Rose are making a new home with a man who will do whatever it takes to protect them. Marisa Taylor and young Jessica are beginning to recapture the music that once filled their world with joy. But now a stranger from faraway New England has made his way to Cape Hawk, bearing secrets from the past and news of an uncertain future. And each woman will face choices that will irrevocably shape all the seasons to come — between lives left behind, mysteries unsolved, and loves that must be reclaimed or abandoned forever.

An Imperfect Fairytale
Chapter 1.1

By Charlotte Parr Day 742

So bored! Everything around here is so boring! There is nothing I can do but sit and look pretty for when my prince comes to rescue me, and after two years, one week, five days, ten hours and twenty-seven minutes, it gets a bit dull. I could kill my father. He said in his last letter that a nephew of the Queen was coming to get me. That was nearly a month ago. What’s taking him so long?

At least I’m not Damia. Poor, sweet Damia. She could be at home with her family right now if she wanted, the only think keeping her here is me. I’d have gone insane by now if it hadn’t been for her. She’s the best friend I could have asked for.


One Step Over

By Charlotte Parr I looked through the window of my car at the edge of the cliff. I’m going to do it. This time I will. I was trying to think of reasons to stay in my car and drive back home. It was a useless task. There was no-one here to miss me. No-one who needed me. No-one to cry when I was gone.

I bravely opened the car door and stepped outside. I left my shoes behind. I wanted to feel the grass under my feet before I left this world. The strong sea breeze caught in my hair and tore at my clothes. I took a deep breath. I loved the sea. It was a huge part of me.

Memories of flying kites on the beach with my parents flooded into my head. Our cries of laughter. The smiles on our faces. We couldn’t have known what would follow. The pain and the tears and the heartache. I didn’t know what to do when he died. I was the one who found him. Blood pooling around him all over the kitchen floor. It was my fault; I know it was. I drove him to his death.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

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Book Synopsis

(taken from blurb of book)

Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens - until a student enters the local high school with an arsenal of guns and starts shooting, changing the lives of everyone, inside and out.

The daughter of the judge sitting on the case should be the state's best witness - but with her boyfriend dead and her childhood friend charged with murder, she's struggling to remember what happened in front of her own eyes....

Number one bestselling author Jodi Picoult brings us her hardest-hitting and most involving novel yet. NINETEEN MINUTES asks what it means to be different in our society, who has the right to judge someone else - and whether a person is ever whom they seem to be...

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

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Book Synopsis

(From Amazon.com's product description)

In the heart of Victorian England, an inquisitve gentleman known only as the Time Traveler constructs an elaborate invention that hurtles him hundreds of thousands of years into the future. There he finds himself in the violent center of the ultimate conflict between beings of light and creatures of darkness.

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