Zachary Paul Chopchinski



My Book Story: The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Zachary Paul Chopchinkski

It’s difficult to examine what influences us, as we have so many different encounters in our life. For myself, I would have to say that the author/work that really is an idol for my writing and creativity is J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series.

HPATSSGranted, looking at something as big and iconic as these works, it’s easy to say that they influenced a lot of youth, and yet I consider it a saving grace from my childhood. Growing up, I was lucky to have many good things in my life; however, I was also unfortunate in many circumstances. When I first found the Harry Potter series, I was living with my mother and 6 siblings in an 850 square foot 2-bedroom apartment in the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio. It was safe to say that we did not have much.

Coupled with the fact that we lived in a rather impoverished area, with more buildings either boarded up or vacant than occupied, opportunities for expression in my childhood were rare. As a middle schooler, I often missed class due to threats from other students (being a rather gang affiliated school, despite the ages of the students), bomb threats to the school, weapons being found or just the utter lack of desire to leave my room. I was desperate for an escape. This formed my fuel.

Enter the catalyst, J.K. Rowling. She managed to create an entire world, not just a story line, that allowed for one to escape their lives and enter that of another (as many great works often do). This was something that I heavily gravitated to. This new world I could enter, coupled with the fact that the primary protagonist, Harry Potter, found himself in a life of strife and neglect, allowed for Harry to become my hero, so to speak. When the sun set, and things began to quite in the dark, often I could be found in the communal bedroom, under a small lamp in the corner reading for as long as I could keep my eyes open.

These books came at an amazing time for me, for the ages of the characters where close to mine. So as the books came, and the characters aged and grew, it was like they grew with me. These became an escape of mine for years. With the intricacies and clever plotting, it was a chore to not become immersed in J.K Rowling’s world.


ZPCZachary Chopchinski is the author of The Curious Tale of Gabrielle, a piece of young adult fiction that’s an adventure through time, mystery, love, friendship and death unlike anything you have ever read.

Zach lives in Maine with his wife, Layla, and their two dogs and two cats. He had two short stories published by Ohio State University when he was in elementary school, and a poem published when he was in high school. When he isn’t writing, or thinking up his new story, Zach can be found watching horror movies with his wife, studying watches or playing video games.

The Curious Tale of Gabrielle


Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

I originally posted this in August of 2013.  It was a wonderful story and definitely worth a second look.


Yellow CrocusYellow Crocus: A Novel

By Laila Ibrahim

Book Summary:

Moments after her birth to the mistress of a sprawling Virginia plantation, Lisbeth Wainwright is entrusted to Mattie, an enslaved wet nurse. From then on, Mattie serves as Lisbeth’s stand-in mother, nursing her, singing her to sleep, and soothing her in the night. And yet mothering Lisbeth tears Mattie away from her own baby, Samuel, who lives in the slave quarters. Growing up under Mattie’s tender care, Lisbeth adopts her traditions of prayer, singing, eating black-eyed peas, and hunting for yellow crocuses in the spring. As the years pass, Lisbeth is drawn back into the white world, earning a growing awareness of the inequality of her and Mattie’s stations. She struggles to reconcile her love for Mattie with her parents’ expectations for her future, intent on keeping the best of both worlds-until a terrible betrayal forces her to choose once and for all. Yellow Crocus is a compelling novel of love, loss, and redemption set during one of the most sinister chapters of American history.

My Review: 

This was a truly remarkable story.  I wish I could go over every detail, but I don’t want to give anything away.  As I watched Lisbeth grow up going from a naive girl to a woman who truly stood up for her beliefs. I felt proud of her.  It takes a horrific scene for her to realize that this is NOT the life she wants. She doesn’t condone her parent’s beliefs.  The sacrifice she made turned out to not be a sacrifice for her.  It was her path in life.

The story of Mattie rips your heart out, but at the same time shows the love she had in her heart.  The risk Mattie takes makes your heart stop. She was a strong woman who took control of her life and ended up a free woman.

This book made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think.  The ending was perfect.  It was wonderfully written and I highly recommend it.temp-4











Original background image by PetraKratochvil

Angela Campbell



 My Book Story: The Nancy Drew Files by Carolyn Keene

Angela Campbell


First of all, thank you for allowing me to share my book story with The Modest Verge and its readers. As anyone who loves to read knows, asking a book lover to select a favorite book is similar to asking a parent who her favorite child is. It’s next to impossible for me to select only one favorite book! Do I go back to my young adulthood, when my love of books truly developed, and choose “Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret” by Judy Bloom, “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier or “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton — the three books I re-read dozens of times? Actually, I think I’ll go back a little further to the series of books that really jump-started my love of reading: “The Nancy Drew Files” by Carolyn Keene.
Nancy Drew
Growing up, I had three brothers, no sisters, and was the daughter of a cop, so the idea of a strong and smart girl detective really appealed to me. I devoured all of the Nancy Drew books I could get my hands on at the library or bookstore. Back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Nancy Drew had romantic plots as well as stories that sometimes found her investigating hauntings and monster sightings. It’s no wonder I grew up to write romantic suspense that veers into paranormal more often than not. So, here’s to Nancy Drew, girl detective — my favorite book heroine of all time.
I really appreciate The Modest Verge’s support of my books. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this.
Angela Campbell
Author of romantic suspense, with a scent of paranormal

Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Get Even by Gretchen McNeil


Get EvenBook Description:

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process.

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.


My Review: I don’t think this book is Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars. I think it’s more Heist Society meets Pretty Little Liars. The members of the secret society in question function like a team. The group isn’t about secret handshakes and holding secrets over each others heads. In fact the members of DGM don’t find out each others secrets until the end of the book. In case you’re wondering the secrets are big.

Each member has a particular skill set. Bree breaks into places and uses her bad attitude to their advantage. Olivia is the actress. Margot is the hacker. And then we have Kitty, who happens to be the ringleader. DGM was her creation and she spends the book conflicted about it. This book isn’t about the rise of DGM. It’s about the fall of it.

My only issue with this book was that the end felt less like an end and more like the book just kind of stops. I flipped back and forth on my e reader but I was out of pages. It ends at a really traumatic point. Maybe I was supposed to feel like the assembly where Kitty intends to give herself up was the big intense scene. I can’t say that I did because the whole book is made up of glorious moments like that. There were just too many loose ends.

Luckily for all of you who haven’t read it yet, number two “Get Dirty” is out now. I was dying to know how it ends. I will only say that Get Dirty doesn’t have the problem that Get Even had. There is a spectacular ending. True fourth of July stuff. I hope there are more. I love these characters.

lynn signaturepicsart_1375992730999QC-13_round





I’m giving this Questionable Content only because it deals with issues like those in Pretty Little Liars. So bullying, language things like that.







Background Image: American High School by dspskk0



Sydney Lane




Summer Days

by Sydney Lane


When I was a little girl, my big sister loved to read. She always had a book in her hands, and I just wanted to play outside. We lived on a farm with rolling fields and beautiful horses. The trees were great for climbing, and the lake was perfect for afternoon swimming. At dusk, we caught fireflies, and after dark, the neighborhood kids crowded around a campfire and told ghost stories. I was enchanted by one particular boy who never wore a shirt and told the best stories. With all of that going on, I just couldn’t understand why anyone would want to lay in bed all day with their nose stuck in a book.

WTCFThe summer I turned thirteen, all of that changed. My sister checked a book out from the library called Walk Through Cold Fire by Cin Forshay Lunsford. By this time, my sister was seventeen and we were allowed to stay home alone. Playing hide-and-seek and catching fireflies wasn’t as fun as it used to be, and the boy who told good ghost stories had a girlfriend. I was listless, searching everyday for something to keep me occupied. When my sister recommended that book to me… she forever changed my world.

First, the book! That book was like a modern day Beautiful Disaster. Forbidden teen romance, hot guys in a gang, and poignant revelations… what more could you ask for? Interestingly, this author never wrote another book under that name, and Walk Through Cold Fire became a piece of cult fiction. Years later, I would search and search for a hardback copy and purchase it at unmentionable price.

But what really changed that summer was my relationship with my sister. She was four years older than me, and we had very little in common. She had long since outgrown Barbies and tag, and I wasn’t yet able to do the things she was allowed to do. We never liked the same things, and we had differing opinions on every subject known to man. But that summer, we found a common ground, a place where we met in the middle and shared these beautiful stories that I never knew existed. We often lay in the same hammock, reading the days away under the hot summer skies. It was a whole new world, and we were in it together.

Even as we both grew up and moved away, we shared books, trading them back and forth. I remember picking up and dropping off boxes of books at each other’s houses. There were many late night phone calls when we couldn’t wait until the next day to discuss our latest reads, and we had to talk quietly so as not to wake our roommates. Lots of laughter and lots of tears were shed as we bonded over the miles that separated us.

When my sister was thirty-six years old, she took her own life. As you can imagine, it was devastating. It was so completely heartbreaking that no words exist to describe it. I was angry and hurt and broken. No matter the sentiments everyone offered, I felt in my heart that they could never really understand. Often, my only solace was a good book, a beautiful story that could take me away from the reality that was now mine.

To this day, when I read a really awesome book, I want to call my sister. I think to myself, “She would’ve really loved this one.” And as the rest of the world lies sleeping, I sit in the dark and share those quiet moments with my sister.

Books, to me, are not a luxury. They aren’t a hobby. They are words someone put on a piece of paper that sometimes reach right into your chest and make you live that moment. They briefly take me to another time and place, one where I lie in a hammock, drinking Dr. Pepper and eating Doritos, beside my sister. I can feel her leg brush against mine and hear her voice… and the breeze blows while we read the day away.


7060081Sydney Lane lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and children. Growing up in Smalltown, USA, Sydney dreamed of being a writer. After spending an outrageous amount of money to go to college, Sydney finally decided to follow her heart. With her babies in bed and husband neglected, she worked by the light of her laptop and wrote Choices. Sydney is very active in charity work for anti-bullying and depression awareness groups.



Our reviews of Sydney Lane’s books:

ChoicesFate Cover


Ella, The Slayer by A. W. Exley

ella-the-slayer-front-cover-for-previewElla, The Slayer

by A. W. Exley

Book Summary:

The flu pandemic of 1918 took millions of souls within a few short weeks. Except it wasn’t flu, and death gave them back.

Seventeen-year-old Ella copes the best she can; caring for her war-injured father, scrubbing the floors, and slaying the undead that attack the locals. Vermin they’re called, like rats they spread pestilence with their bite. Ella’s world collides with another when she nearly decapitates a handsome stranger, who is very much alive.Seth deMage, the new Duke of Leithfield, has returned to his ancestral home with a mission from the War Office — to control the plague of vermin in rural Somerset. He needs help; he just didn’t expect to find it in a katana-wielding scullery maid.

Working alongside Seth blurs the line between their positions, and Ella glimpses a future she never dreamed was possible. But in overstepping society’s boundaries, Ella could lose everything – home, head and her heart…

My Review:

I follow the author on facebook and when I read her summary of the story before it came out I was very intrigued.  You all know by know how I feel about fairy tale retellings and Ella, the Slayer is  a take on Cinderella that you just have to read to appreciate.

Ella is also a strong capable, katana wielding woman who the town has deemed their slayer.  But this is not meant to be endearing.  You see her soul is already tainted from her first kill, of what they see as possible helpless souls, so they have tasked her with the job saving the humanity and afterlife of the other towns other inhabitants.  All of this while serving her Step Mother Elizabeth and her step sisters Louise and Charlotte.  And let’s not forget a father who has returned from the war with a brain injury that has left him helpless.

Then there is the Duke of Leithfield Seth.  He has also returned from the war to take over his families estate and to see to his people.  When he encounters Ella sparks fly and you can’t help but be drawn to this very capable man.  It is fun to watch him dodge unwanted advances from Louise and deal with the vermin problem and fall in love with Ella all at the same time.

The author does a wonderful job of drawing you into her world and keeping you there. The story smoothly takes you on a journey through the zombie outbreak in the 1920s and brings in new elements that are interesting.  The supporting characters add depth and adventure to the story.  I would absolutely put this on my must read list.

As to A. W. Exley’s question at the end, I would LOVE to see Ella’s story continued.  What happens with Elizabeth, Henry and Frank and Alice and most importantly do Seth and Ella finally get their queen for the War Office?temp-4












Original background image by wieslawmajczuk




The Strongest Ring by Laura Bradley Rede


51oSZBy3rVL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_The Strongest Ring

by Laura Bradley Rede

Book Summary:

Seventeen year old Beck doesn’t consider herself a tree-hugger. With her multi-colored dreadlocks and her combat boots, she’s more at home working at Criminal Records Music than taking a stroll in the woods. That is, until she falls for Jordan, a handsome vampire activist who remembers Earth’s past and wants to save its future. But will Jordan’s friends accept Beck’s help? Or will they decide that humans are the problem – and the solution is wiping them out? A hopeful environmental message shines at the heart of this YA short story by Writers of the Future award winner Laura Bradley Rede, author of the YA paranormal series The Darkride Chronicles.

My Review:

I picked up this short story quit a while ago, but as with many things it had gotten lost in the vast mess of books that is my kindle.  Know that I have finally read it, I wish I had done it sooner.

Beck is your typical teenager of today. Jordan, although we don’t find out his exact age is obviously quit old.  He has a special connection to this particular forest from his childhood.  Without giving to much away, it is a short story, we find out that the vampires are out in the open to the human population and they are worried about the plant.  The environmental message is strong and the flow of the story is great.

I was hoping this was part of a bigger series.  But I can’t find anything.  All in all if your looking for paranormal and quick your heading in the right direction.temp-4










original background image by Unsplash




Sandra Danby



My Book Story:  Pigeon Post by Arthur Ransome


Sandra Danby


Pigeon Post, my old copy 2-5-15The book which opened doors/pages for me was Pigeon Post, one of the ‘Swallows and Amazons’ series by Arthur Ransome. It was a birthday present and, judging by my handwriting in the front – ‘If this book should dare to roam, Box its ears and send it home’ – written in ink with my first fountain pen, I judge it to have been 1969-1970. This first Puffin edition was published in 1969 though Ransome wrote it in 1936. To me it is timeless. It was the gateway to the whole series which still, to this day, have an important place on my bookshelves and are picked up on days when I am feeling ill or vulnerable and need to retreat to a place of familiarity.

The Swallows and the Amazons are two sets of children – the Walkers and the Blacketts – who come together each summer for holidays and adventures in the Lake District. These were ideal books for me – the farmer’s daughter, a tomboy, who loved stories, was writing stories, had an over-active imagination, and longed to be allowed to go sailing with my brother in his dinghy on the cold NorthIf this book should dare to roam 2-5-15 Sea.  I wanted to be Nancy, the leader of the Amazons, she was the strong one, brave, and decisive [no female stereotyping for the Amazons, though Susan Walker is deemed the sensible adult and clucks over food and blankets].

In Pigeon Post, the Walkers and the Blacketts trek into the hills, prospecting for gold, where they run into all sorts of problems, not the least of which is a suspicious character they call Squashy Hat: is he a rival gold prospector, or a spy?

S&A books on my bookshelf 2-5-15The story is timeless, as usual Ransome slips in all kinds of useful information – survival skills, sailing, nature, human relationships, chemistry, mining – and the children are brave, adventurous and unafraid to try new things.

There is something addictive about these books. Just writing about PP makes me want to read it again, though like any serial addict I will start with book one, Swallows and Amazons, and work my way in order through the series. The anticipation of having a whole series to read is like contemplating eating a whole chocolate bar to yourself.


sandranewsletterAuthor Sandra Danby lives in England and Spain. She turned her childhood love of stories into an English degree and became a journalist. She now writes fiction full-time. Her short stories and flash fiction have been published online and in anthologies. Ignoring Gravity is her first novel. Her next novel, second in the series about ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’, is Connectedness [to be published in 2015].

Twitter: @SandraDanby


Watch the book trailer for Ignoring Gravity:

Read our review of Ignoring Gravity: