Thursday, June 22, 2017

Blog Tour: That Crazy Perfect Someday by Michael Mazza


Title: That Crazy Perfect Someday
Author: Michael Mazza
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Turtle Point Press
Publication Date: June 20, 2017
Source: Irish Banana Blog Tours/Publisher



I think that That Crazy Perfect Someday may be my second book that I have ever read that is about surfing.  I'm not a surfer, I have never even tried it, so I'm not too surprised about this.

Thanks to this book though, I wouldn't mind going out into the ocean.  It made it sound pretty good.  Too bad I am not into the outdoors and I am too much of a chicken to try.

But anyways...

That Crazy Perfect Someday is about Mafuri Long, a surfer girl who is some where between the ages of 20 and 30 as far as I could tell.  She holds fame in the world for riding a record breaking wave.  She is currently training for the upcoming Olympic Games.  Her father is a depressed and troubled veteran and he mother passed away some time before this book began from cancer.

In short, this book is more or less about Mafuri Longs life and the things that happen in the course of time that this book is talking about.  She is trying to help her father and keep him safe from himself while training hard for the Olympics.  She wants gold.  Like really wants it.  It would be a life defining thing for her.  Not much else matters.  She needs to show the world she wasn't just that wave.

So we travel through her life with her on her way to the Olympic Games.  And a lot of stuff happens.

So That Crazy Perfect Someday is technically set in the future, but not a very far off future.  The year for the book is 2024.  The world is essentially in a predicted state from where we are now.  Some advances in technology and medicine - nothing to crazy from what we currently have.  Drones in the air, cars that can drive themselves, etc.  And the global warming has hit which has messed with the weather patterns and what not making them totally unpredictable.  Is this why surfing is such a huge deal for Mafuri's world?  I don't know, but it does seem to be the end all sport of the Olympics (is it a huge sport in the Olympics now?)

And of course this book talks a lot about surfing.  There were definitely times I felt like I was out in the ocean along with Mafuri.  Feeling the water on my skin and the sun beating down on me.

Character development wise, I did feel like there were a few bumps.  There were times when I was really feeling Mafuri, and there were other times where I just was not.  I would occasionally lose a bit of that feeling where she could be real, but it would come back.  Or there were cases where other characters had vindictive attitudes and I didn't really feel their actions were quite on the mark for what was going on.  I also wanted to feel more connections between the characters than I got, but part of that may just have been Mafuri's character (which we do see grow thankfully).

Also, there is some language use in the book, and it did throw me.  Mafuri, the narrator, tended to not swear and use words such as "effing" and other softer terms for the harsher ones.  But when other characters would swear, the harsher terms were used.  It isn't a huge thing, but I found myself noticing it and to me it felt a bit weird.  At first I thought Mazza was trying to not use swear words, but then they were there...and it just a tiny hiccup in the flow for me.

I will say this though, probably by the time I was 25% into the book I didn't want to put it down.  I wanted to be there on that beach with Mafuri.  I wanted to be surfing with her.  I wanted to see what was going to happen next to her.  Would she kiss that guy?  What was she going to do about this new situation she found herself in?  What was the heck was that person thinking?  I wanted to know.  And when I found myself at the end, I felt like I had made the journey with Mafuri.  And I enjoyed it a lot.

I look forward to reading more of Michael Mazza's work.

My Rating
4 Stars

This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher through Irish Banana Blog Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

My apologies if this review seems a bit rambly.  I wrote it much later in the night than I should have.  Yay for having a toddler.  Feel free to contact me on twitter or to use the comments section to discuss anything about this book further!


Follow the Rest of the Tour!

Tour Schedule:

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Blitz: The Strange Case of the Alchemists Daughter by Theodora Goss


Title: The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter
Author: Theodora Goss
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Saga Press
Publication Date: June 20, 2017
Source: Publisher


I just wanted to give a quick shout out to The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss.  I personally think the blurb sounds crazy interesting, and thought I would share it's existence with you.  

You can actually expect to see a review of this book up on the blog within the next few weeks!  I'm pretty excited to read it!

Here is a little about the book:

ABOUT THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST'S DAUGHTER:
How do I explain how amazing this book is? TSCotAD features found families, monster girls, snarky meta, and Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson all wrapped up in an incredible Victorian Era bow. Brianna took this book to London with her and devoured it. Hopefully you’ll love it just as much as she does!

Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins.

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.
When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous. 



Friday, June 16, 2017

Review: Roadfood by Jane and Michael Stern


Title: Roadfood
Author: Jane and Michael Stern
Series: Roadfood: The Coast-To-Coast Guide to the Best Barbecue Join
Publisher: Clarkson Potter 
Publication Date: March 7, 2017 (10th edition)
Source: Blogging for Books



Who doesn't love food?  I know I do.  A lot.  So I saw this book up on Blogging for Books and knew I needed to get it.  I really enjoy watching all of those food shows where the guys travel around and try food at various places local to wherever, so I figured a book that can tell you where some of the really good eats are would be cool to have.

This book starts out with the East Coast and works its way West.  Which probably isn't a problem for a lot of people, but I live way out on the West Coast and had to go find California way in the back of the book to see if it had anything near me (it does).  Each section has a map of the state and then each town that has a restaurant(s) listed is on the map.  Then from there, every restaurant in that town is listed.  Then each section actually has the restaurants listed with their phone numbers, address, if they serve breakfast/lunch/dinner, a price point guide, and a blurb about their atmosphere and food.  The restaurants are arranged alphabetically, not by city.

All in all, this is a pretty cool book.  There are a few restaurants that aren't too far away or in areas I may find myself in from time to time that I wouldn't mind trying out.  The sad part is that there are some states with very few things listed, or large portions of a state that don't have anything at all.  I don't know if it this is because there was nothing worth mentioning for those areas or something else.  This will definitely help when exploring the United States though!

My Rating
4 Stars

This review is based on a copy provided by Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch


Title: Dark Matter
Author: Blake Crouch
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Source: Blogging for Books


Dark Matter...Dark Matter...what can I say about this book?

I guess I can say quite a few things, but first I should probably give you a quick overview of what this book is about.

In this book our main character, Jason Dessen, find himself waking up in a world that isn't his.  It isn't his life.  His family never existed.  His career took off in a way it never had.  And everything is...just different.  Is he going crazy?  Which life is the real one?

Jason Dessen is hell bent on figuring this out and finding his way back to the life he believes is rightfully his.

That is Dark Matter if a really quick nutshell.

This book is based on the multiverse theory.  A pretty insane theory to talk about.  I won't bore you on what this is here in this post.  Dark Matter actually does a pretty good job explaining it.  Much better than I ever could, that is for sure.

Now, I am going to be totally honest with you here.  I felt like something was wrong with me the majority of the time I was reading this book.  I had quickly read other reviews and I knew that this book had a pretty high rating over on Goodreads, so I was really excited to read it.  And then I started reading it.  And you know what?  I was kind of bored!  The writing was fine and everything, but I found this book so freaking predictable!  And with it being predictable, I found it hard to get myself to want to pick the book back up after taking a break.  I wanted more "thrill" and "suspense" than this book provided me.  I was really rather let down.

What this book did do for me though was make me thing.  However, this really didn't start happening towards the end of the book.  Everything that goes on in Dark Matter kind of culminated for me and really started to make me think and kind of look at the world a little bit differently.  So I do give this that.

So while I found the plot predictable, Dark Matter still caused me to think and look at life and the world around me in a different way....and I appreciate that!

My Rating
3.5 Stars


This review is based on a copy provided by Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Blog Tour: The Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff

Image result for the great treehouse war

Title: The Great Treehouse War
Author: Lisa Graff
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Source: Publisher

First things first, let me just say that The Great Treehouse War was a lot of fun to read.  I started reading it and before I knew it I was near the ending.  Despite being way over the intended age group for this book, I still found myself able to read and appreciate it a lot.

The Great Treehouse War is about a young girl named Winnie.  Winnie is your normal 10ish year old girl (she is in the fifth grade).  She has friends, likes art, and has the worlds most amazing cat.  She also has parents that decided that they were better off no longer married to each other.

When Winnie's parents decided to divorce, they split everything up so it would be equal for both of them.  One parent had Winnie 3 days of the week and the other had her for the other 3 days.  This only equals up to 6 days, however, they couldn't let one parent have 4 days and the other only get 3, so they came up with a plan.  Between the two properties (they had found a place that they could live there was a treehouse.  So for that odd day of the week, which happened to be Wednesdays, Winnie would be in the treehouse, not with either parent.

That way everything would remain totally equal and fair.

Of course, that was too hard for the parents.  They started celebrated all the crazy holidays that happen.  They each kept trying to one up the other.  This was causing Winnie to fail the fifth grade.  But neither parent was listening.  As long as everything was fair that was all that mattered.

A lot of things went on that ended up with Winnie in the treehouse with her friends...and the great treehouse war began.

See?  It really is quite the book!

Throughout the book there are tons of illustrations and little side notes from her classmates about the things that happened in the story.  Each kid has their own little quirk, and the quirks pop up over and over again.  It lightens up the seriousness of the book and makes it a lot more fun to read.  At first I thought they took away a little bit from the story, but once I got used to them I enjoyed them.

Also, as you can tell, there is a serious note to this book.  I am an adult, not a kid in the age range that this book is intended for....so to me it was quite obvious.  The way the parents were behaving was really affecting Winnie.  How this translates to a kid with the way this story was written?  I am not 100% sure.  Maybe they will relate to Winnie, maybe they wont.  I can't tell you.  Did I think it was fun?  Yes.  Do I think Winnie should have had to go to such an extreme measure to try to get her parents to listen to her?  No.  But this story wasn't meant for me - the adult.  It was meant for the kids.

And I will definitely let a kid read this book.  I think they will enjoy it and I hope that if they find themselves in a similar situation, that they will find a character that they can relate to.  And that they can find some help from this book on how to speak up and be heard if they need to be.

My Rating
5 Stars


This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.  #PRHPartner


Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff (ARV: $16.99 each).
 
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 15, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 2, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Follow the rest of tour!!

Week One:
May 15 – Books 4 Your Kids – Review
May 16 – Margie’s Must Reads
May 17 – Pirates n’ Pixie Dust
May 18 – We Are Word Nerds
May 19 – Mundie Kids
 
Week Two:
May 22 – The Reading Nook Reviews – The Coolest Treehouses Roundup
May 23 – Crafty Moms Share – Review + Craft
May 24 – Word Spelunker – Review + Dream Treehouse
May 25 – Reading is Better With Cupcakes – Review
May 26 – Mama Smiles

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Book Blitz: The Last Star by Rick Yancey is out in Paperback!


It is the paperback release day blitz for The Last Star!


If you are unfamiliar, The Last Star is the third and final book in The 5th Wave trilogy by Rick Yancey.  

I personally have only read the first book in the series.  And it was a long long time ago.  Like back when I was a bookseller and I had managed to snag an ARC of it before any of my coworkers could take it (don't worry, I passed it on to another coworker once I finished).  I recall really liking it!

I actually plan to reread it one of these days and then getting into the rest of the series.  I know there is a book based off of the first book as well, but I have managed to steer clear of that so far and I don't plan on watching it unless I am really really bored one day.

Anyways.... I have a few things to share with you.  The first being pictures of the covers of all three books in the series.


Aren't they pretty???

And also there is a giveaway!!!  Who doesn't love a giveaway?  I know I do!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter for a chance to be one (1) grand prize winner and receive a set of The 5th Wave Collection in paperback, including The 5th Wave, The Infinite Sea, and The Last Star (ARV: $32.97), or to be one (1) of five (5) second place winners to receive The 5th Wave in paperback (ARV: $10.99 each).
 
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 23, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 30, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 2, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.


Thank you to the publisher for allowing me to participate in the release day blitz.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone and are in no way influenced by them.  #PRHPartner

Monday, May 22, 2017

Blog Tour: Dragons Love Tacos 2 by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri - How to Properly Eat a Taco




Hi everyone!

In honor of the fabulous picture book Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel I am here to help you learn to properly eat a taco.

I'm guessing you had no idea that there was a proper way to eat a taco huh?  Well, if you were to ask the dragons, they would tell you that the proper way to eat one is to abstain from adding any salsa to the taco.

I don't necessarily agree with the dragons on that, but there are others out there that might...

I guess what I am really saying here is...

There are a lot of ways to properly eat a taco!

However, we will cover some of the basics.

The first step to proper taco eating:
The taco shell.

For this step you must choose if you want a hard (crunchy) or soft taco!  This may be the most vital of the steps.  There are people out there that may try to tell you that one is better than the other, but the most important in this step is choosing what is right for you!

The second step to proper taco eating:
Filling up the taco

For this step you must choose what goes into your taco.  I mean, I guess if you want to eat an empty taco shell that is your decision and all, but usually there are some good things you can choose to put in there.  There are quite a few meat options you can go with: pork, beef, steak, and chicken being some of the obvious ones.  You don't eat meat?  Then you might put some potato or some yummy avocado in there.  Then there are the extras: cheese, lettuce, tomato, and salsa (unless you are a dragon!) that you may opt to put in your taco shell.

The third step to proper taco eating:
Open your mouth and take a bit out of your taco.

This is by far the most important step to eating a taco.  You aren't eating one if you are only looking at it sitting there on your plate.  Pick that taco up and take a bite!  Chew the amazing goodness up and then swallow!  Rinse and repeat until the taco is done.

Congratulations you now know how to properly eat a taco!

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter for a chance to be one (1) grand prize winner and receive a set of Dragons Love Tacos and Dragons Love Tacos 2 (ARV: $17.99 each), or to be one (1) of five (5) second place winners to receive Dragons Love Tacos 2 (ARC: $17.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 1, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 2, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.


Follow the rest of the tour!

Week One:
May 1 – In Wonderland – Jane Austen Taco Hunt
May 2 – The Children’s Book Review – Review
May 3 – A Homeschool Mom – Tacos in the Renaissance
May 4 – Inspiration Laboratories – Tacos in Space
May 5 – Ali’s Book Nook – Dragon Paper Doll Activity
Week Two:
May 8 – The Book Nut – Tacos in Ancient Greece
May 9 – A Story A Day – Tacos During the Civil War
May 10 – Pirates n’ Pixie Dust – Taco Pirates
May 11 – Margie’s Must Reads – Review
May 12 – My Little Poppies
Week Three:
May 16 – As They Grow Up
May 17 – YA Book Nerd
May 18 – Swoony Boys Podcast – Review & Mini Swoon
May 19 – The Plot Bunny – A Dragons Love Tacos Playlist
Week Four:
May 22 – Reading is Better with Cupcakes – How to Properly Eat a Taco
May 23 – No BS Book Reviews
May 24 – Mundie Kids –Time Travelling with a Dragon Checklist
May 25 – The Book Shire
May 26 – Artsy Momma

Thank you to the publisher for providing me a copy of this title in exchange for this blog post.  Any and all opinions are mine and mine alone.  #PRHpartner

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A World Without Tacos - A Blog Tour Post



Hi everyone!

I don't know if you have heard or not, but dragons absolutely love tacos.  Tacos are their most favorite thing in the world.  They eat them day in and day out.  Nothing is better than a taco.  There is a whole book telling us about this...and there is a dragon with a taco right here!



But could you imagine what the world would be like without tacos?!

I mean just look at this glorious thing!  How could anyone even want to live in a world without tacos in it?


For one thing we have to think about the dragons!  What would they eat if they didn't have any tacos?!

And then we need to think about the babies....  Would they just eat rice like this poor kid pictured here?

What about the dogs?  What would they be asking for with their puppy dog eyes if not tacos?


To me it is obvious that they want tacos.  There is no way it couldn't be about tacos!

To imagine a world without tacos is horrible.  We want to see the kids laughing and happy.  We don't want to see them like this...


A world without tacos is definitely not a world I want to live in...

Good thing we have these two books to help us remember how important tacos are (especially to Dragons).  The first one is out now, and the sequel is out soon!!!



 \


And yes...there is a giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) Dragons Love Tacos Book and Toy Sets (ARV: $17.99 each).
 
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 3, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 1, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about May 5, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.



And check out the rest of the tour!  There is a lot of good stuff!

Week One:
April 3 – Pirates n’ Pixie Dust – Taco Scavenger Hunt
April 4 – Margie’s Must Reads – Review + Recipe
April 5 – A Story a Day – Review + Taco Craft
April 6 – The Book Shire – Review
April 7 – Swoony Boys Podcast – Recipe + Taco Craft
 
Week Two:
April 10 – Ali’s Book Nook – Review + Recipe
April 11 – Mundie Kids – Review + Taco Party Checklist
April 12 – The Children’s Book Review – When You Invite a Dragon to Dinner…
April 13 – Reading is Better with Cupcakes – A World Without Tacos?!
April 14 – My Bookbloom – Review + Taco Activity
 
Week Three:
April 17 – As They Grow Up – Review
April 18 – The Book Nut – Taco Soup Recipe
April 19 – YA Book Nerd – Missing Taco Hunt
April 20 – Inspiration Laboratories – Dragons Love Tacos Birthday Party
April 21 – In Wonderland – Review + Taco Salad Recipe
 
Week Four:
April 24 – A Homeschool Mom – Review + Chili Pepper Experiment
April 25 – The Plot Bunny – Review + Recipe
April 26 – No BS Book Reviews – Taco Craft
April 27 – My Little Poppies – Review
April 28 – Happily Ever Elephants – Review

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Blog Tour: Stranger Things Have Happened by Jeff Strand


Title: Stranger Things Have Happened
Author: Jeff Strand
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Source: Publisher



Hey!  I'm back with yet another book that should be on your radar!  It is definitely on mine, I just sadly haven't gotten around to reading it (story of my life and my overwhelming tbr pile!) but I wanted to make sure you all knew about it too!

First up, here is what the book is about:

You can’t always believe what you see in this hilarious coming of age novel from the author of The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever and I Have a Bad Feeling about This


Harry Houdini. Penn and Teller. David Copperfield. Marcus Millian the Third.


Okay, so Marcus isn’t a famous magician. He may not even be a great magician. But his great-grandfather, the once-legendary and long-retired Zachary the Stupendous, insists Marcus has true talent. And when Grandpa Zachary boasts that he and Marcus are working on an illusion that will shock, stun, and astonish, Marcus wishes he could make himself disappear.

The problem? Marcus also has stage fright—in spades. It’s one thing to perform elaborate card tricks in front of his best friend, Kimberly, but it’s an entirely different feat to perform in front of an audience.

Then Grandpa Zachary dies in his sleep.


To uphold his great-grandfather’s honor, the show must go on. It would take a true sorcerer to pull off the trick Marcus has planned. But maybe he’s the next best thing…

Up next we have some words from the author Jeff Strand:


Hello. I'm author Jeff Strand. If you tolerated A Bad Day For Voodoo, were ambivalent toward I Have a Bad Feeling About This, and had little or no opinion regarding The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever, I'm pleased to announced that you'll be equally unenthused about my latest YA novel, Stranger Things Have Happened.

It's an extremely silly comedy about 15-year-old Marcus Millian III, who aspires to be a legendary magician like his great-grandfather, Zachary the Stupendous. The problem (well, the first problem of many) is that he suffers from paralyzing stage fright. That's a bit of an issue when you want to be a stage magician.

Some stuff happens, and Marcus finds himself part of a bet between Grandpa Zachary and his arch-nemesis Bernard. Marcus has to invent and perform a ridiculously amazing illusion that will astound the audience at Bernard's theater. Yeah, this is going to be a challenge, but at least he's got Grandpa Zachary to help him. Until Grandpa Zachary dies in his sleep.

So now Marcus is on his own. Well, not entirely. He's got his neighbor (and secret crush) Kimberly to help out, along with the very socially awkward and heavily bullied new kid, Peter, who has...secrets. Together they will work to create the ultimate illusion, one that may or may not involve making a shark disappear from a tank in front of a live audience.

Also, there's a really evil guy named Sinister Seamus. Watch out for him.

Readers who are into magic (of the Penn & Teller variety, not Harry Potter) should enjoy this book because that's kind of what the whole thing is about. Readers who are into books that are filled with silly (some might even say stupid) jokes should also enjoy it. It's also about overcoming obstacles and following your dreams, if that's the angle you want to play.

And of course we have an excerpt:


“What is this slop?” asked Grandpa Zachary.

“Shhhh,” Mom hushed.

“Marcus, do your magic. Turn this food into something edible—wait. No magician has that much talent.”

Marcus was with his family at a fund-raiser potluck for a local animal shelter. Since his retirement, Grandpa Zachary had focused his attention on raising money for charitable causes, although he had trouble sticking with any particular cause for very long. Last month he’d been saving the red-tailed hawk, which he later discovered was nowhere close to being an endangered species.

“I wouldn’t feed this slop to the dogs we’re trying to help,” said Grandpa Zachary.

“Shhhh,” Mom repeated.

“I’m speaking at a very low volume. The people who brought this vile gunk won’t hear.”

There were about fifty people in the park. Admission was five dollars. Plus you were supposed to bring your own dish of food to share. Grandpa Zachary didn’t generate a lot of money for his causes, but he did give most of his free time.

Grandpa Zachary dipped a pretzel stick into the translucent goo and popped it into his mouth. “Actually, that’s infinitely better than it looks. I withdraw my criticism.” He snapped off the end of his pretzel so he wouldn’t be accused of double dipping. (Grandpa Zachary hated double dippers.) Then he plunged the pretzel into the sludge again. “Marcus Three, do me a favor. Find me a paper bowl so we can take this home with us. It’s delicious.”

Marcus went off in search of a bowl, grabbing an oatmeal raisin cookie along the way. The band, which had arrived half an hour late, was finally set up and ready to perform. The lead singer was wearing sweatpants, a white hat, and nothing else. He had dark circles under his eyes and looked like his latest shower was a distant memory.

“Good evening, everybody,” the singer said into the microphone. He held onto the stand as if to keep himself upright. “We’re Banjo Dan and the Wham Zaps. We’ve been drinking since nine-thirty this morning. Enjoy the show.”

He plucked a few strings on his instrument, which Marcus was pretty sure was a ukulele and not a banjo.

“This is a benefit for an animal shelter, right? So here’s a little song we wrote called ‘Your Wife Is Uglier than a Dog’.”

“Nope, nope, nope, we won’t be hearing that,” said Grandpa Zachary, hurrying up to the stage. For an eighty-nine-year-old, the man could move.

Still, he wasn’t fast enough to get there before Banjo Dan passed out. The other two members of the band just stood there, staring awkwardly at their fallen leader.

“What other songs do you know?” Grandpa Zachary asked them.

“Uhhhh…we actually just stand here and pretend to play.”

“Begone!” cried Grandpa Zachary. “Take your snookered friend with you. Shame, shame, shame!”

The Wham Zaps dragged Banjo Dan away.

Grandpa Zachary picked up the microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for that crass spectacle. What a disgrace.” He shook his head and started to scan the audience. “But the show will go on. Let us amuse you with a different act.”

Marcus suddenly felt sick to his stomach. He began to sweat. It was hard to breathe. His feet hurt, even though he couldn’t explain why.

Grandpa Zachary’s gaze fell on him, and Marcus started to tremble. He loved to perform tricks for Kimberly. Loved to perform tricks for his great-grandfather. Loved to perform tricks for his parents. But he was terrified of performing in front of an audience. He’d never done it before.
It was a fear he knew he’d have to overcome to pursue his dream of being a famous magician, but he sure wasn’t over it yet.

Grandpa Zachary cleared his throat. “Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together in a warm welcome for Marcus!”

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