Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Review: The Ice Maiden's Tale by Lisa Preziosi



THE ICE MAIDEN'S TALE
by Lisa Preziosi
Xist Publishing
Middle Grade Fantasy/Adventure
300 pages
ages 8 and up





Every town has an old lady all the children just know is a witch. 
When Johanna and Casper must spend the afternoon at her house, there’s nothing to do, except listen to a story. While the siblings await their mother’s return from the hospital where she’s visiting their ailing father, Mrs. Kinder reads them a story of adventure, magic and music. 
Mrs. Kinder’s mysterious golden book tells an intertwined tale of two young men—the sensitive Sculptor who carves a beautiful woman from ice and the thieving Sorcerer searching for a spell that will bring the statue to life. 
The story twists and turns, from the Frozen Forest, to the land of the Lemon Trees, to the home of the Swamp Witch, as the Sculptor’s and Sorcerer’s adventures circle each other. Their inevitable confrontation reveals buried memories that force each of them to confront the true cost of love and redemption.
The Ice Maiden's Tale the perfect story-within-a-story with magic, adventure and romance reminiscent of The Princess Bride for a new generation of readers.


MY TIDBITS

With a bit of the feel of The Princess Bride, this is an enchanting fairy tale and more.

Casper does not want to go to the witch's house, even though his older sister Johanna insists the Mrs. Kinder isn't a witch at all. With their father in the hospital, they have no choice but to let the Mrs. Kinder babysit them so their mother has time to visit him. Mrs. Kinder tells them a tale about a beautiful ice sculpture and two young men, who are possessed with the idea of bringing the sculpture of a young maiden to life. The journey holds many stumbling blocks for all of them.

The story starts out in modern day times with Casper and Johanna arguing as siblings do. The back and forth is a little humorous, and each one gains a very distinct character, which kids will easily relate to. Interesting enough, each of them has a German name (even Mrs. Kinder) which gave a slight hint a Hansel and Gretel going to the witch's house. But the thought of danger is quickly brushed aside as Mrs. Kinder pulls out her books and offers them cocoa. Casper's continued skepticism adds a smile to the face.

The fairy tale follows a traditional flow and holds magic, gypsies and even a dragon. There are tense moments but also slower ones. There are two heroes who are possessed with the thought of bringing an ice sculpture to life, but each one has a very different adventure to follow. It's well told and interesting to follow. At times, the switch between each hero's journey was a bit confusing and could have been distinguished better, but each ones personality and adventure took a very different path. Which made the ending even more interesting.

This isn't only about the heroes' journeys but also about the modern day siblings, and the author does an amazing job of weaving it all together. At first, the shifts between the fairy tale and the modern day siblings jolts, but as the story progresses, it's a treat to watch all aspects drift together. The connection between all of them becomes clear and is never predictable.

Although this book is intended for the readers ages eight and up, it's something that adults will enjoy as well. The heroes hit upon topics which adults will relate to as well. I can see this especially nice as a read-aloud.
 


EXCERPT

Mrs. Kinder settled herself in the chair across from the children and cracked open the book. She adjusted her spectacles, ever so slightly, then caressed the page with her wrinkled fingers. 

“In our world, when magic happens outside of a storybook, we call it a miracle. And miracles are considered so rare and special that lifetimes can go by without so much as a hint of one. But there are faraway places where our kind of miracles are as common as blades of grass in an open field. In the northern region of one of these worlds, in the top far east corner, past green forests, swamps, lakes, and even an ocean, there lived a young artist named Gabriel.” .... 

“This isn’t a very good story.” Casper complained. 

"Casper!” Johanna exclaimed in embarrassment. 

Mrs. Kinder laughed. “That’s because I’m not even at the story part yet, but it’s high time we get started. This story doesn’t begin, the way you think it might and the way most stories do. It doesn’t begin with a big adventure or a journey, or even pirate treasure. It starts with a tiny choice—one that seems unremarkable at the time, but that changes the course of destiny. One crisp morning, our Gabriel decided to search for firewood—and it’s with that simple decision that our tale begins.”

Curious about what inspired THE ICE MAIDEN'S TALE???

Pinterest Inspiration Board for “The Ice Maiden’s Tale”: https://www.pinterest.com/redlisella/inspiration-the-ice-maidens-tale/


And here she is. . .



Once upon a time, long, long ago, Lisa attended Syracuse University where she studied singing in a giant castle surrounded by ice and snow. After she earned her music degree, she headed to the island of Manhattan, down to the West Village, to a place called the New School. There, she earned another degree in the great art of writing stories for children. Her debut novel "The Ice Maiden's Tale" was released by Xist Publishing on May 30, 2017. It's a story-in-a-story fairy tale adventure for all ages. Currently, she still works on that same island, in the dungeon of an old building, making up stories while she sorts through endless stacks of papers, just dreaming of being somewhere with windows. She is currently working on several novels and hopes to write her way to that aforementioned windowed place.

LINKS
To Buy the Book: https://www.amazon.com/Ice-Maidens-Tale-Lisa-Preziosi/dp/1532402317
Blog: www.lisapreziosi.com
Goodreads Author Page:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16866112.Lisa_Preziosi
Goodreads Page for “The Ice Maiden’s Tale”:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35167967-the-ice-maiden-s-tale?from_search=true 
Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/subscriptiontherapy/
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/RedLisella

Monday, September 25, 2017

Mommy Tuesday with Review: The Lauras by Sara Taylor


THE LAURAS
by Sara Taylor
Hogarth Press
Adult Contemporary/Coming of Age
304 pages





I didn t realise my mother was a person until I was thirteen years old and she pulled me out of bed, put me in the back of her car, and we left home and my dad with no explanations. I thought that Ma was all that she was and all that she had ever wanted to be. I was wrong. As we made our way from Virginia to California, returning to the places where she d lived as a child in foster care and as a teenager on the run, repaying debts and keeping promises, I learned who she was in her life-before-me and the secrets she had kept even from herself. But when life on the road began to feel normal I couldn t forget the home we d left behind, couldn t deny that, just like my mother, I too had unfinished business. 

This enigmatic pilgrimage takes them back to various stages of Alex s mother s life, each new state prompting stories and secrets. Together they trace back through a life of struggle and adventure to put to rest unfinished business, to heal old wounds and to search out lost friends. This is an extraordinary story of a life; a stunning exploration of identity and an authentic study of the relationship between a mother and her child.

The Lauras is the new novel from the exceptionally gifted author of The Shore, which was long listed for the Baileys Women s Fiction Prize and shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.



MY TIDBITS

This is a tale of grit, hurt, strength and finding true support.

Alex is thirteen when the mother decides to take off from the father in the middle of the night. Alex will never forget the day they drove away. The journey encompasses three years, where they travel through half of the U.S. and even into Canada. The mother reveals her past, especially tales about the Lauras, and Alex has many issues to battle and overcome.

This is a beautifully written read with many personal identification agendas. Alex carries a lot of baggage and refuses to be placed in a certain gender category. There are also issues with family, belonging, love, trust. . .and the list goes on. The story starts out very strong as Alex is ripped out of bed and hauled into a sudden trip. The emotions and happenings hit hard and are masterfully done, hooking into Alex and the story right away.

This is not a soft book but packs many punches. The author eases through tough material, stretching boundaries and making them sit. All along, the writing pulls in with vivid descriptions and heart-breaking tugs. There are some stumble blocks as far as sequencing, but most of the story flows well and lets the reader get swallowed up into Alex's world. Alex meets problem after problem as does her mother as she comes to terms with the tales of her past. This is a read, in many ways, which makes one think and churn. Then, at other times, there is simply too much. The baggage goes into over-weight, bringing up too many identification problems until it, at times, almost verges on an outright agenda. This, combined with the brutal harshness, made some areas tough to work through and had me setting the book down as it pulled out of the flow of the read. Still, I found myself coming back to it and was quickly pulled back into the story after these moments and had passed.

The ending was like the book—leaving to think. Although some ends were tied, others are left loose and questions remain unanswered. 

All in all, it's nicely written and had many things to enjoy as well as food for thought.

I received a complimentary copy through Blogging for Books and found this one interesting enough to want to leave my honest thoughts.


Review: Starter Zone by Chris Pavesic (A LITRPG Novel)


Starter Zone
The Revelation Chronicles, Book 1
Chris Pavesic

Print Length: 219 pages
Publication Date: September 25, 2017
ASIN: B074YZ9JKB

Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, LitRPG

Follow the tour to read reviews guest posts, exclusive excerpts, and spotlight posts:

About the Book:


When hydrologists inscribe the consciousness of a human mind onto a single drop of water, a Revelation sweeps the land. The wealthy race to upload their minds into self-contained virtual realities nicknamed Aquariums. In these containers people achieve every hope, dream, and desire. But governments wage war for control of the technology. Terrorist attacks cause massive destruction. The Aquariums fail.  Inscribed human minds leech into the water cycle, wreaking havoc.

Street gangs rule the cities in the three years since the fall of civilization. Sixteen-year-old Cami and her younger sister Alby struggle to survive. Every drop of untreated water puts their lives in peril. Caught and imprisoned by soldiers who plan to sell them into slavery, Cami will do anything to escape and rescue her sister. Even if it means leaving the real word for a life in the realms, a new game-like reality created by the hydrologists for the chosen few.

But life in the realms isn’t as simple as it seems. Magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as the sisters navigate their new surroundings. And they encounter more dangerous enemies than any they faced in the real world.

Time to play the game.


MY TIDBITS

This fantasy/adventure mixes the gaming world with reality for an exciting read.

Cami has one goal—keep her and her younger sister alive. Civilization has been destroyed, leaving street gangs and worse fighting for whatever supplies might be left. It doesn't help that water in every form is deadly unless it's been cleansed. While trying to sneak out of the city in hopes of finding a more peaceful life in a forgotten rural house, Cami and her sister are caught by hydrologists, and they force Cami and her sister to become part of a different world. A very dangerous one.

The novel starts out with a dystopian setting. Cami and her sister are trying to survive, and need to avoid the deadly street gangs. And rain. The tension is high from the very first page, and the sisterly bond between Cami and her seven-year-old sister pulls at the heart strings. Even though Cami can be cold when necessary, her relationship to her sister makes her impossible not to like and cheer for. When the novel takes a sudden twist and the game type world opens up, the switch flows smoothly. The author does a good job of providing enough explanation to make the switch believable, and does it in a manner which never comes across boring. Cami needs to learn about her new world and the role she plays in it, and the reader learns along with her.

Anyone who has gamed will feel at home in this tale. The adventures follow the regular gaming basics with a familiar feel. The sudden bouts of information about Cami's level, skills, health, and such don't jolt from the story but blend right in with the plot. Even when Cami isn't fighting or in a tense situation, the story is well-paced and doesn't let the reader go. I had no trouble reading this in one setting.

It's an easy read, but enjoyable. There are layers of intrigue waiting in the shadows and hints at a bigger adventure to come. Enough unexpected twists and turns keep the plot interesting, and even when some thing aren't completely a surprise, the tense build-up left me on the edge of my seat. It's simply a fun read, which fantasy friends and gamers are sure to enjoy.


EXCERPT

I would like to offer you a glimpse into Starter Zone, the first book of my new YA/LitRPG series, The Revelation Chronicles.

PROLOGUE

I was born into a world where silicone still ruled. Where the products of the earth outshone those of the sea. Integrated circuits ran all electronic equipment and scientists strove to make the conducting lines smaller and smaller. Silicon Valley tried, and failed, to make chips fast enough to upload human consciousness.
The Revelation came a few years later from the hydrologists. They designed a system that did not use silicone, but instead worked with water molecules. The hydrologists managed to imprint the consciousness of a human mind on a single drop of water.
The water was to be kept in self-contained, sealed aquariums—pure, undiluted, eternal—where virtual realities were constructed to meet every need and desire. All of human knowledge encoded and stored in literal pools of data and integrated with the drops of human consciousness. It was, the hydrologists claimed, utopia achieved.
The obscenely rich were the hydrologist’s first clients, many taken near the end of their lives. The procedure did not always work, but there were enough successes to spur people’s interest. People suffering from terminal illnesses volunteered to be inscribed, and the hydrologists worked and refined their process. Private companies formed and competition forced price wars. Hundreds of customers grew to thousands, and then to millions. There were landmark court cases arguing whether or not health insurance should cover the cost of the inscription—whether or not this was a medical procedure designed to save lives or a form of physician assisted suicide. The law struggled to decide if life ended when the body was drained to a dry, leathery husk, or if life continued inside those glowing, sealed aquariums.
I was thirteen when the governments seized control of the laboratories, first in the Eastern European countries. Then the labs of Europe and the Middle East were swallowed up. Terrorist attacks soon followed and destroyed most of the civilized world over the next three years. The United States, Canada, and Greece, those bastions of democracy, did not fall until the very end. Of course, by then no one cared whether or not the government or the private companies ran the uploading programs. Many of the aquariums ruptured in the strife and the droplets, imbued with human consciousness, re-entered the water cycle of the planet.

CHAPTER ONE

As the sun hovers near the horizon, ready to dip below and plunge the world into darkness, the weather changes for the worse. Clouds gather. Peeking out my window and over the outline of rooftops in the distance is what looks like thunderheads moving toward me in the invisible polluted gusts of wind.
I try not to think about the coming storm as I methodically pull on my boots and zip up my jacket. It is supposed to be waterproof, but I would not risk going out in anything above a light drizzle. Water has a way of seeping through even the best defenses. There’s also a lining that’s overly warm for a summer evening. I’m already sweating and the discomfort adds to my nerves.
I check the hunting knife strapped to my left leg. It was one of the first weapons purchased for me by my dad back when the sporting goods stores were still open for business. He didn’t think I was ready to handle a handgun at thirteen, but he taught me to shoot a rifle in the open fields by our house, helping me hold the weapon steady until I grew strong enough to support the weight. Now, three years later, I have a handgun, a Ruger semi-automatic, but bullets are scarce and loud noises are problematic. My small ammo stash sits in the bottom of my backpack next to the gun.
Instead of the gun, I carry an extra-light crossbow as my go-to weapon. I can hand-make the bolts so I don’t worry about running out of ammunition and the shot is relatively silent. I carry the spare bolts in a quiver strapped to my right leg. It’s awkward when running, but I can draw the bolts fast when needed.
My little sister, Alby, has loaded her own backpack. I lift it to test the weight and then pull a few things out. I place them in my own pack without comment. I help her position the lighter pack over her shoulders, tightening the straps so that it will stay balanced. She always tries to do more than she should, but I don’t like the way her face has a perpetual pinched, strained look or the deep shadows under her eyes. She looks far older than her seven years. This scares me more than everything else and that fear threatens to register on my face. I force myself to stay calm.
I check her raincoat and boots, making sure everything fits snugly. I help Alby pull up the hood of her coat, tucking in a strand of dark hair that has escaped her ponytail. As frightened as she is, she manages to give me a smile. I smile back, trying to present a brave front. As my dad used to say, “fake it till you make it.”  Over the last few years, I’ve been faking confidence more and more often for Alby’s sake.
“Ready to go?” I ask with all the false cheer I can muster in my voice. I take one last glance over the motel room that had served as a temporary home for the last few days, looking for anything that we might have left behind. The room is swept clean. No trace whatsoever that we had ever been there.
Alby nods. “Ready, Cami.”
“If we get separated, remember to keep going north,” I say. “Follow the road till you get to the park, then take the walking paths. No matter what happens, keep going. Stop when you get to the Stone River. I’ll meet you at the bridge in the center of the park where we used to feed the ducks, okay?”
She nods again, looking up at me with those dark eyes so full of trust. I hug her, because if we do get separated, there isn’t much hope we will ever see each other again. I need to keep up the pretense of hope, though, because that’s all we have to keep us going.
Stone River Park is at the very limits of the city and the area surrounding it is relatively unpopulated. I figure that once we are out of the city, our chances of survival will dramatically increase. After reaching the park, we can follow the Stone River north. There’s bound to be deserted houses in the country and less chance that any of the gangs would be interested in the meager pickings outside of the city. We might even be able to find a place to stay before winter.
I crack open the door of our motel room. It is still light enough to stain everything with graying shades of color. The setting sun casts long shadows between the buildings, so I depend more upon my ears to find signs of other humans. I hear no motorcycle engines and no voices, only the wind, blowing and moaning, and the far-off call of a bird. The coming storm appears to have cleared the streets. They are deserted except for empty, crashed vehicles abandoned in every lane.
Alby and I had been lucky to reach the motel a few days ago. The single-story building is on the outskirts of the main town and catered to big rig truck drivers and other traffic from the interstate. I had found the skeleton key in the motel office after climbing in through the bathroom window. Alby and I spent the nights scouring every room for supplies.
No one had broken into it before we got there. Too many other rich targets to go around. But inside each room was a mini-fridge filled with snacks. Even though the electricity had been turned off, the chocolates and small bags of honey-coated nuts were edible. The tiny bottles of alcoholic beverages in each fridge did not seem useful, but I kept a few. They might be helpful in starting a fire someday when we made it outside the city. We even discovered coffee filters and a small bottle of chlorine bleach—a major score for treating our drinking water. 
If I hadn’t spent days secretly peering out the dark windows of the motel, I might believe my sister and I were the last two people left on earth. But I know that out there, behind the ruined buildings and boarded-up windows, there are at least a few pairs of eyes whose owners would kill us without a second thought. My eyes flick toward the two bodies hanging from the traffic lights in the nearby intersection. They hadn’t been moved. Good.
     The daytime usually belongs to looter-gangs, each with spray-can marked territories in bright displays of color that start on the buildings and drip down toward the pavement. The gangs wear something marked as well, usually a jacket or bandanna that will stand out from a distance. The snipers hole up in their nests and target anyone who encroaches on their gang’s territory. They particularly looked for members of other factions trying to increase their terrain.
Paint tags don’t show up well after dark, though, so the gangs have started leaving their victims as warnings to others not to encroach on their holding. These bodies have been hanging undisturbed in the intersection for several days, indicating a lack of activity in the area. I can only hope that the gangs have moved inward, toward the center of the city and more supply-rich targets.
No one is ever going to catch the murderers, or the ones who strung up the bodies like macabre trophies, and put them in jail. They’ll just go on and do it again and again. Like animals in the jungle—except that animals are not cruel.
We were lucky to go unmolested by the local gangs. Heaven knows we don’t look like we have much of anything, and we don’t look threatening, but that will only last for so long. Someday someone will try to kill us, possibly for no other reason than wanting to watch us die. The whole world, it seems, is at war, and no one is on my side except Alby. We only have each other.
A streak of lightning splits the sky almost directly overhead, making me wince. It is followed by a heavy clap of thunder. As frightening as it is, the bad weather is to our advantage. No one wants to be caught outside in the rain. Everyone is more afraid of fresh, untreated water and what it can do than they are of each other. But I believe we can make it out of the area and to shelter before the rain poses any danger.

In fact I’m betting our lives on it.

Purchase Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/starter-zone-chris-pavesic/1127125956?ean=2940158707476




And here she is. . .




Chris Pavesic lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends. She blogs on www.chrispavesic.com and Tweets @chrispavesic 




Sunday, September 24, 2017

Review: NIV Kids Visual Study Bible


NIV KIDS' VISUAL STUDY BIBLE
Explore the Story of the Bible - People, Places and History
Zonderkidz
Religious - Bible
1952 pages
ages 8 and up


The NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible, for ages 8–12, brings the Bible to life in four-color illustrated splendor. This study Bible includes a spectacular full-color interior featuring over 700 illustrations, photos, infographics, and maps on every page that visually represent key Bible information. Each page also features important facts located near the relevant verse. Intriguing facts; colorful, engaging maps; photographs; and illustrations make this a Bible they’ll want to explore.
Features:

-Over 700 four-color photographs, illustrations, infographics, and maps throughout 
-Full-color design 
-Book introductions, including important facts and an image to orient the reader 
-One-column format with side bar study notes for ease of reading 
-Presentation page 
-The complete text of the New International Version (NIV) translation of the Bible 



MY TIDBITS

Dry and boring are words of the past with this study Bible. With grabbing tidbits, an easy to read lay-out, and tons of other informational goodies, this is a Bible to grab onto and digest to the heart's content.

Study Bibles aren't usually a book which perk kids' interest. Neither is the sight of a nearly 2000 word volume a reason to dance for joy. But this Bible surprises by not talking down to kids or soaring way above their heads. Each book of the Bible starts out with a one page run-down with basic information about the book: who wrote it, what are the key people, what stories, etc. There's also a photo of a modern day view of a place mentioned in the book or something which has to do with a verse in the book. 

The chapters are presented in a single column with a yellowish sidebar along each page. Here, short dabs of helpful information and explanations are presented with reference to the verse. These are much easier to understand than old fashioned footnotes, simple to read and presented in a very understandable way. Colorful and interesting diagrams are also peppered along the sides to visually support some information and provide an easy to understand summary (for example: a diagram to Amos' Visions). There are also small footnotes at the bottom of the text to add extra information and assistance on top of everything else, but these are not the main aide. A table of weights and measures, an index and maps round off the end. And, as a small extra bonus, there's a blue ribbon attached to use as a always ready and simple bookmark.

This is a NIV (New International Version) translation—which, of course, is a matter of opinion to its correctness (as always)—but it is a version children can easily understand and read. The notes along the side help with any terminology stumbling blocks, making it very reader friendly. There is some space for personal notes along the side, but not too much, and the text itself is in a relatively small print — not necessarily 'highlighter' friendly. So more intense fans of scribbling down thoughts and notes will need an extra notebook on the side. But this study Bible isn't necessarily hitting that area hard. This one is about bringing the text to life and helping the reader understand the background behind the verses. And these are tidbits which kids will love and devour. Things passed by in just a word or two in the verses are explained. . .and that in a simple, clear way. (Why tents needed to be bigger, how was a funeral procession conducted, why armies destroyed Moab, etc) Often things, events and objects are assumed to be understood, but this Bible explains the cultural differences, reasons behind certain actions, or what something simply is. 

Summed up, this is a Bible which encourages children to not only learn the verses and meanings but opens up the past. It uses visual means to sum up information, show connections and simple bring the past to life. Even adults will enjoy diving in and are sure to grab up things they didn't know before.

I received a complimentary copy of this one through Booklook Bloggers and was honestly surprised how interesting this Study Bible is. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Happy Book Birthday, Running with Wolves by Summer Lane with Giveaway!





Running with Wolves 

by Summer Lane

September 22nd 2017
YA Adventure, Historical, Romance


Alaska, 1898
“They always come back,” she whispers. “Always.”

He spilled their blood. Now, she’s out for revenge.

Jenna Renee is a woman wronged. When her adoptive parents are brutally murdered by an outlaw named Conroy Parker and his gang of thugs, they take everything from her: her family, her happiness, and her money.

Determined to bring Conroy and his boys to justice, she hires a gruff but dangerous gun-slinging trapper and guide, Jeremiah Black, to help her hunt Conroy down.
But there is more to Alaska than meets the eye.
The cold touch of the arctic winter is dangerous, and the corruption of Conroy Parker and his comrades runs deep. The tundra is unforgiving, and so are the wolves. Nothing is as at seems.

If the wilderness doesn’t kill Jenna, the pack will. Revenge comes with a price, and so does love. There will be no mercy….only the hunt.

A romantic adventure from #1 bestselling author Summer Lane, set amidst the gritty and awe-inspiring setting of Alaska during the last great Gold Rush.



Interview with Bestselling Author Summer Lane
(Courtesy of Writing Belle Publishing)

This is your first historical fiction. How different was the writing process, as opposed to the past 17 novels you’ve written – which have all been post-apocalyptic?

A historical novel is more strictly attached to the time period in which it takes place. The way people talk, dress, act, and even eat are different than how we do all of those things modernly. I had to do a lot of research, of course. I have been slowly working on this book for roughly 2 years, when the idea originally occurred to me. I have read so many books about Alaska…toward the end of the writing process, I was devouring whole college textbooks and double fact-checking everything I had until I was entirely sure my eyes were going to fall out of my head.
With my apocalyptic books, the research is tactically-oriented, if that makes sense. With Wolves, I had to make sure the slang and vernacular was correct and that the history was right on target. I took a few artistic liberties with the story, as all writers do, but everything is based in fact. Everything.

Where did the idea for Running with Wolves come from?

I have always loved animals. I have always loved dogs. I first was enraptured by the idea of setting a story in Alaska when I was a little girl, after watching the animated film Balto for the first time. The concept for this particular novel sprung up about 2 years ago. It took me a long time to cultivate the plot to a point where I liked it enough to go ahead and write the book. I have always wanted to write a western-style novel, and that’s what Wolves is. A western novel set in the snow, with adventure and romance.

Where does the story actually take place?

I have constructed a fictional tale within the boundaries of the boomtowns and mining camps that existed in 1898. The main character, Jenna Renee, lives outside of a town called Dyea. I used prominent and famous historical hotspots, such as the Chilkoot Pass and Dawson City, in the book, too.

Can we look forward to some romance, in addition to adventure?

Yes! One of the central themes of the novel is the romance story between Jenna Renee and the rather callous but handsome United States Marshal Jeremiah Black. I love Jeremiah’s character – he’s got a lot of surprises up his sleeve, and I think readers will love him as much as Jenna does.

What are your upcoming projects?

Well, I have a non-fiction novel coming up in the next several months: Prolific: Writing a Hit Novel. I’m also releasing the first installment of the anticipated Resurrection Series in January 2018. Resurrection will continue the adventures, fights, and romances of Commander Cassidy Hart from the hit Collapse Series.

And here she is. . . 
Summer Lane is the #1 bestselling author of 18 novels, including the smash-hit Collapse Series. She owns Writing Belle Publishing. Lane is also an experienced journalist and creative writing teacher. Writing Belle is her online magazine, where she has interviewed and featured hundreds of writers from around the globe.
Look for her upcoming books, Prolific: Writing a Hit Novel, and Resurrection: Shadows of Omega, the hotly anticipated continuation of Cassidy Hart’s post-apocalyptic adventures.
Summer lives in the Central Valley of California with her husband, Scott, and their German Shepherd, Kona. 


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Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: Marice the Unbeastly by Amy Dixon, Illustrated by Karl James Mountford


MAURICE THE UNBEASTLY
by Amy Dixon
Illustrated by Karl James Mountford
Sterling Children's Books
Picture Book
32 pages 
ages 3 and up


Beasts roar! Beasts destroy! But not Maurice.
This frightfully unbeastly tale about staying true to yourself is for everyone who’s just a little bit different.

With his melodious voice, fondness for kale, and unfailing politeness, Maurice isn’t quite like other beasts. So his concerned Mama and Papa send their ridiculously photogenic beastie to the Abominable Academy for Brutish Beasts to learn how to behave badly. Will Maurice master growling, scowling, snarling, and howling? Or will he prove that being different is a good thing after all?
 




 MY TIDBITS

With monsterly sweetness and abominable fun, this book embraces different in all of its furry and ungrowling ways.

Maurice is a vegetarian, kind and polite—all those things a monster shouldn't be. Not sure how to help him, his parents send him off to monster academy in hopes he'll learn true brutish behavior. Maurice tries, but keeps messing up.

Although Maurice is a monster, his behavior isn't very scary or beastly, and this is reflected masterfully, especially in the illustrations. His black and furry appearance sits like a snug costume around a gentle, green face. He's a monster, but even at first glance, it's clear that he's not necessarily something to fear. His habits support this in a humorous yet caring way. Even when mocked, Maurice doesn't lose face. He tries to make the others happy but remains true to himself. 

The situations are cute, calm and always hold a light sense of humor. The growling and roaring comes across familiar without turning frightening. The other monsters hold their monsterly outside while never growing too scary for younger readers. 

The text tells the story while adding light pinches of humor here and there to make sure a smile never leaves the face. The vocabulary is a bit high even for slightly older listeners and will need some explanation along the way. Some of the clever humor will get lost because of this too. The message still comes across loud and clear, and leaves a warm, huggy mood. Maurice is a wonderful type of different and this is something young readers will love (and need) to hear. He's the kind of monster kids will want to have as a friend too.


And here they are. . .

The Author. . .



The Illustrator. . .














Premonition by Leigh Walker with Interview and Giveaway




PREMONITION 

by Leigh Walker
The Division #1
July 19th 2017
YA Romance, Science Fiction






When Riley heads off to boarding school for a summer work-study program, she knows it’ll be demanding. What she doesn’t expect? To be thrust into an intense physical training program described as special, exclusive and worst of all–top-secret. She signed up for tuition assistance, not to be held in a secret government facility for boot camp…
Welcome to The Division, the government agency that’s so classified, most United States senators have never heard of it.
The Division wants Riley bad, but she can’t figure out why. Skeptical of what she’s being told, Riley’s determined to uncover the truth. Boot camp is intense, physically and mentally draining. The upside? One of her new teammates is the cutest boy ever. Watching Finn hit the gym wearing a tank top doesn’t suck–although sometimes his brooding attitude does. But when training forces Riley to confront her tragic past, even Finn’s big biceps aren’t enough to make her want to stay…
Beware: The Division isn’t something you just walk away from. You better run.
Riley realizes her capabilities and strengths are greater than she’d ever imagined. But she also learns she wasn’t just chosen for this special program…
She was made for it.



INTERVIEW WITH LEIGH WALKER

Q: Wow, you’re interviewing yourself…how pompous!
Right? It’s to tell people more about the series, lol. Although I should admit that I normally talk to myself a lot, so this isn’t much of a departure.

Q: Tell us about “The Division” – it’s a bunch of teenagers with psychic powers, right? How did you get inspired?
Everyone on the team has psychic powers, yes. I was watching “Stranger Things” on Netflix and I WAS SO PSYCHED they were testing poor Eleven for psychic powers. But I was also like, YEEHAW! Because I LOVE psychic powers, and I can’t remember the last time I saw or read something that included them. I’ve always been obsessed by the concept, and there’s so many variations of powers, so many incarnations it can take… Anyway, after watching that show and having that reaction, I thought, other people must love this stuff, too, I can’t be the only one. So I wanted to give us all more!

Q: Tell us about the main character, Riley Payne.
Riley is a ‘normal’ girl dealing with a lot. Her father and sister died in a car accident and her mother started drinking heavily after it happened. She just wants to get out of her house and go to boarding school, but she gets more than she bargained for when she abruptly gets recruited into a secret agency…

Q: The ‘secret agency’ is The Division, correct?
Yes. It’s a secret cell of teenagers who were genetically engineered with psychic gifts. They work for the American government to combat domestic terrorism.
Riley thinks they’re nuts, of course. Until she unlocks her powers, then she’s blown away by what she can do.

Q: As the series goes on, you get into genetic engineering, fated love, eco-terrorism, loyalty, isolation, human nature, climate change…some pretty heavy themes. But would you describe the series as a difficult read?
I don’t think so, but certainly some parts were hard to write – like about Riley missing her dad and her sister. I still cry when I read those parts. And in the second book, an eco-terrorist is introduced, and some terrible things happen in the book. So yeah, there’s definitely a heaviness to some of what the characters are dealing with. But they’re teenagers, and their youth is sort of a tonic against everything they’re dealing with. They still care about their friends. They still want to hang out, tell stories, joke around. They are still very interested in falling in love. I think my writing style is naturally light and breezy, so it’s sort of a counterpoint to the storyline. If that makes sense, lol.

Q: What’s your favorite part of this series?
Riley and Finn’s relationship. They have so much on their plates, and they’re so young, but they genuinely care for each other in a way that makes me ache.

Q: What do you do when you’re not writing?
I have three large, unruly boys who like to play every sport and eat as much food as possible. When I’m not at my computer, I’m busy carting them around and grocery shopping. But I also love to relax with a great book or television show – I am currently completely obsessed with Riverdale, OMG!!!
Thanks for having me! Happy reading!!!



And here she is. . . 
Leigh Walker lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. She has a degree in Journalism and a law degree. She's never been to the Naval Shipyard prison in Kittery, ME, but she's driven by it...and boy, is it creepy!

Leigh has lots of books planned for The Division Series. Sign up for her mailing list at www.leighwalkerbooks.com to be notified of the next release in the series! You can also find her on The Division's FB page: https://www.facebook.com/divisionbookseries/ 

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