Thursday, December 14, 2017

Review: Ethan and the Key by Dennis Canfield



ETHAN AND THE KEY
by Dennis Canfield
Middle Grade Fantasy
215 pages
ages 9 and up





Twelve-year-old Ethan Mason is focused on baseball, math tests, and staying out of Howard Russman’s way. That is, until a mysterious puddle of green light appears in the upstairs hallway of his home. The light brings Ethan to the kingdom of Abentur, a beautiful world defended by a dragon against vicious invaders and Draykik, their brutal leader. Ethan can’t tell his parents or friends or anyone else about the new world he’s discovered, because he has no way to prove, even to himself, that it really exists. When the invaders capture the castle and take him and the royal family prisoner, Ethan learns that he alone may be able to save Abentur. But should he risk his life for the kingdom?

Ethan and the Key is appropriate for ages nine and up, and is especially written for parents who love reading with their children.



MY TIDBITS

This adventure rides as smooth and as thrilling as the flight through the clouds on a mystical dragon.

Ethan loves baseball, actually doesn't mind math and can't stand the biggest jerk at school, Howard. He's as normal as normal can be and totally satisfied with life, but when a green light in his hallway transports him to the forest outside of a castle, normality disappears. Ethan soon finds himself wrapped up in an adventure, where horses fly, dragons breath fire and evil men plan to destroy a peaceful kingdom. . .and him.

The first page plants foot in a very real, easily recognizable situation—a baseball game. Ethan and his friends come across as normal as the kid next door and it's no problem to connect with them right away. Ethan isn't overly daring or brave, but he doesn't back down from things simply because they're difficult. He's got a good head on his shoulders, knows right from wrong, and takes on things as best as any kid could. Readers can easily slip into his shoes and cheer him on every step of the way.

There's no time for boredom in these pages as the fantastical world, and it's challenges comes to life. Something is always happening. Still, it's not high-tension with jerking abruptness, but rather takes on a smoother pace, making an enjoyable read.

Ethan is caught up in a flip-flop between two worlds, the kingdom and real life. The author sets up the mechanics masterfully, making it believable while adding a bit of humor. While the fantasy world is rich and exciting, the real world borders on obsolete during most of the tale. Ethan does have clever interactions with his 'real' friends, but these are short, sporadic and miss a bit more depth. Still, this doesn't hurt the main plot in the fantasy world in the least. The adventure remains strong the whole way through, holds many surprises and is sure to lure readers in.

Summed up, this is an exciting, well-written adventure for ages 9 and up. It comes across smoother than many adventures for this age group, while still holding all the elements necessary for a terrific read. And at only 200 pages, it's a fantasy even more reluctant readers can dive into and enjoy.


And here he is. . .


Dennis is a lifelong Mid-westerner, growing up in suburban Chicago. He graduated from the University of Illinois College of Commerce and the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. He and his wife and their two daughters lived in downtown Chicago for fifteen years before moving to the western suburbs several years ago.

His interest in writing started when his older daughter was cast as Wendy in the local community theater's production of Peter Pan. Dennis was the one pulling the ropes to make her fly over the stage. The experience was so much fun, it inspired him to try his hand at writing  a play. But, having no training in writing for the stage, it wasn't long before he decided to start with a book instead, and published the Christmas noveletta, "Silent Night," in 2011. He took what he learned from that experience and wrote the novella, "Back to Christmas," published the following year. Over the next few years, he talked with several professionals who know a lot about writing plays, and now has the book and lyrics for a stage musical version of "Back to Christmas." Most recently, he finished "Ethan and the Key, a full-length middle grade novel.

"I think 'Ethan and the Key' may have been the first story I ever wrote, pre-dating even 'Silent Night.' The original idea for 'Ethan' was based on Puff the Magic Dragon, and told the story of Jackie Paper, now a middle aged- man, being called back to Honah Lee to rescue Puff. But I couldn't find a way to write that story that I liked, so I put is aside for several years and only returned to it in early 2017. Ethan and the Key is quite different from my original vision for the story, but I'm very pleased with the way it turned out.


As far as links go, I'm terrible at social media.Here are the links for Ethan and the Key:


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review: Norman the Slug with the Silly Shell by Sue Hendra!



NORMAN
THE SLUG WITH THE SILLY SHELL
by Sue Hendra
Aladin 
Picture Book
ages 4 to 6
32 pages

Norman the Slug is willing to do anything to become a snail—but how far will he go? Find out in this wonderfully wacky, bright, and colorful picture book from popular UK author Sue Hendra.

Norman is a slug who longs to be a snail—if only he could find the perfect shell! He tries a tennis ball, an apple, and even an alarm clock but none of them feel quite right. Until one day, Norman stumbles upon a doughnut! What could be better than that?! But is that sweet shell really the perfect fit?







MY TIDBITS

Silliness spews as an adorable snail searches for his place in life.

Norman is a slug, but he wishes he was a snail. The search for a perfect shell brings him across the most interesting possibilities, and the results. . .well, things don't quite turn out the way anyone thought they would.

The cover on this one is an eye-catcher and lures kids (and parents) attention right away, not only thanks to the glittery foil, but a doughnut as a shell is simply fantastic. The story itself begins with the reasoning why Norman needs a doughnut for a shell. On the first spread, he encounters a pyramid of lovely snails. After the encounter ends in clumsy disaster—at first, it wasn't clear what exactly happened, which caused a bit of a stumble until some thinking and flipping between those first two pages finally let enlightenment strike—the fun begins. Either way, Norman hooks from the get-go. He's super cute, super sweet and the type of slug to cuddle and snuggle. . .if one doesn't mind slime.

Words are kept at the minimum to let the story flow. It's concise and to the point, letting the tale and illustrations take lead. Young readers will fall into the story immediately and bounce from situation to situation without the slightest bit of pause. It's great for those who adore silliness and, especially, those with a short attention span—a real plus for younger listeners. Giggles are guaranteed, and there's even a moment of suspense. The ending will either leave a reader thinking, dreaming or simply saying 'huh' and wondering what just hit them. It's a book younger listeners will adore, while older ones will either enjoy it, or shake their heads and toss it to the side. It's an original tale, which hits or doesn't.

The illustrations are like a candy store rainbow. Every page invites with bright colors and whimsical depictions. These are what brings this book to life and make Norman a slug to love.

Summed up, this is a book young listeners are sure to enjoy. Older listeners/readers, however, could fall either way. It's quirky and ridiculous, and doesn't follow the usual story flow. With all of the fun, it does pull kids into thought without them ever realizing it, and might inspire them to adopt a slug of their own.




And here she is. . .

Sue Hendra graduated from the University of Brighton in 1994 and has been an illustrator of children's books for over 20 years. She is the illustrator of the fabulously funny Barry the Fish with Fingers and the author and illustrator of Keith the Cat with the Magic Hat. Sue lives in Brighton with her partner and their young daughter.



Phoenix by Daccari Buchelli with a Sneak Peek at Symbiote and a Giveaway




PHOENIX
The Peradon Fantasy Series Book 1
by Daccari Buchelli
YA Fantasy
399 pages



No power is greater than the one you’re willing to sacrifice. 


Princess Violetta Flame lives her life according to rule, but those rules require her to pay a heavy price. Haunted by a devastating loss, she longs for freedom. When a handsome ruler takes a special interest in her, she senses greater things lie ahead, but behind the handsome fa├žade lies a dark secret – one that can usurp her efforts and cast her back into the life she detested.

The throne was never promised to Emperor Ryore Frost, but now that he has ultimate power, his world is filled with possibilities. Citizens bow at his feet, but their fleeting adoration is no match for his obsession with the young Flame Princess. As his feelings for the staunchly independent princess grow, a new threat emerges, bent on undermining his efforts and betraying his sensibilities.

When past tragedies, malevolent behaviour, and strong wills collide, which will reign supreme?





SNEAK PEEK

Violetta found herself near the infirmary once more, set on re-tracing her steps when someone snatched up her arm, slamming her back against the wall.
‘Please,’ she begged, ‘I-’
A hand clamped across her mouth.
‘Shh.’
Violetta’s eyes clenched shut. This is it, she thought. She waited for the familiar ring- for the feel of cold steel pressed against her flesh.
‘Shh,’ whispered the figure.
Violetta worked to slow her breathing, running various scenarios through her head.
Enough! Her free hand balled into a fist. She was not some helpless child or damsel in distress: she held immense power and it was hers to use as she saw fit.
She touched her core, drawing magic up, into her veins. Flames burned beneath her skin. They danced at the thought of being released, shooting stray sparks through the tips of her fingers.
‘Wait.’ That voice. ‘It’s me.’
The stranger freed Violetta’s mouth. She spun round, prepared to scream when she noticed the figure’s emerald eyes.
‘Surprise.’
‘Surprise?’ She glared at Xyhoni, her fury rising. ‘You terrified me, you-’
Xyhoni’s lips meshed with her own. Heat rushed over her skin, her own lips fighting to draw him closer as his hands smoothed along the curve of her hips.
‘Xi,’ she breathed, ‘We can’t.’
Years of desperate yearning fought against her. Her lips parted, allowing him access to the soft cavern of her mouth.
Xyhoni’s arms wrapped around her. They kneaded her soft flesh, crushing her against his body.
A breathy moan escaped Violetta’s lips when Xyhoni suddenly broke contact.
‘Xi?’
‘Shh.’ He placed a finger against her lips. She had never seen him like this: his eyes were wide and unblinking, his body tense.
Violetta’s heart raced. That kiss- wow. There were no words. She observed Xyhoni, matching his posture as she strained to hear over her thundering heart. The instant she closed her eyes, the voices began.
‘I’m telling you, I saw her.’
‘Then where is she?’
The clang of a nearby door saw the voices raise to a shout.
‘Highness, are you down here?’
Metal clinked against itself.
Guards? Violetta’s eyes flashed open, to find Xyhoni’s pleading with her to stay quiet.
‘Highness?’
Xyhoni inclined his head and as one they backed into the shadows, unable to tear themselves away from each-other.
The clank of armour drew close. Beads of sweat slipped between Violetta’s breasts. Please, she prayed, don’t let them find us.
Xyhoni urged her further back, into a tight passage. His palm rose to envelop her own, his alchemist’s sigil glowing with power.
‘Look at me,’ he was careful to whisper, ‘I can hide myself, but-’
Violetta pressed a finger to his lips.
‘I understand,’ she mouthed. She knew this moment would have to end, but it didn’t prevent her heart from breaking. This small measure of intimacy had made her happier than she’d been in years.
Violetta bit back tears, craving the feel of Xyhoni’s lips.
‘Go,’ he whispered.
Violetta pushed out of Xyhoni’s grip as he began to call upon his magic. She took a deep breath, tip-toeing to the edge of the crevice before casting a last look back at her love. A new wall of rock was already forming and covered most of Xyhoni’s form.
Violetta turned, dabbing her eyes before stepping out into the passage.





SYMBIOTE
The Peradon Fantasy Series Book 2
Releases December 25th, 2017!!

In order to save the ones you love, you must be prepared to risk it all.
Five years have passed since that fateful day at the Frost Estate and Violetta fails to shake the memories of her husband’s demise. Her daughter Elinor cannot know of the part she played, but that is only one of the Flame Queen’s problems.
With a mysterious storm blanketing the whole of Peradon, Violetta, with the help of Lord Jork and Xyhoni, sets out to uncover its source. The last thing she expected was for her only child to vanish and for a troublesome rumour to be circling Peradon.
At her wits end, Violetta must journey through the four realms in search of anyone who can help to find her daughter, but- is she willing to accept the help of a traitor?

Goodreads * Smashwords

SNEAK PEEK

Violetta found herself near the infirmary once more, set on re-tracing her steps when someone snatched up her arm, slamming her back against the wall.
‘Please,’ she begged, ‘I-’
A hand clamped across her mouth.
‘Shh.’
Violetta’s eyes clenched shut. This is it, she thought. She waited for the familiar ring- for the feel of cold steel pressed against her flesh.
‘Shh,’ whispered the figure.
Violetta worked to slow her breathing, running various scenarios through her head.
Enough! Her free hand balled into a fist. She was not some helpless child or damsel in distress: she held immense power and it was hers to use as she saw fit.
She touched her core, drawing magic up, into her veins. Flames burned beneath her skin. They danced at the thought of being released, shooting stray sparks through the tips of her fingers.
‘Wait.’ That voice. ‘It’s me.’
The stranger freed Violetta’s mouth. She spun round, prepared to scream when she noticed the figure’s emerald eyes.
‘Surprise.’
‘Surprise?’ She glared at Xyhoni, her fury rising. ‘You terrified me, you-’
Xyhoni’s lips meshed with her own. Heat rushed over her skin, her own lips fighting to draw him closer as his hands smoothed along the curve of her hips.
‘Xi,’ she breathed, ‘We can’t.’
Years of desperate yearning fought against her. Her lips parted, allowing him access to the soft cavern of her mouth.
Xyhoni’s arms wrapped around her. They kneaded her soft flesh, crushing her against his body.
A breathy moan escaped Violetta’s lips when Xyhoni suddenly broke contact.
‘Xi?’
‘Shh.’ He placed a finger against her lips. She had never seen him like this: his eyes were wide and unblinking, his body tense.
Violetta’s heart raced. That kiss- wow. There were no words. She observed Xyhoni, matching his posture as she strained to hear over her thundering heart. The instant she closed her eyes, the voices began.
‘I’m telling you, I saw her.’
‘Then where is she?’
The clang of a nearby door saw the voices raise to a shout.
‘Highness, are you down here?’
Metal clinked against itself.
Guards? Violetta’s eyes flashed open, to find Xyhoni’s pleading with her to stay quiet.
‘Highness?’
Xyhoni inclined his head and as one they backed into the shadows, unable to tear themselves away from each-other.
The clank of armour drew close. Beads of sweat slipped between Violetta’s breasts. Please, she prayed, don’t let them find us.
Xyhoni urged her further back, into a tight passage. His palm rose to envelop her own, his alchemist’s sigil glowing with power.
‘Look at me,’ he was careful to whisper, ‘I can hide myself, but-’
Violetta pressed a finger to his lips.
‘I understand,’ she mouthed. She knew this moment would have to end, but it didn’t prevent her heart from breaking. This small measure of intimacy had made her happier than she’d been in years.
Violetta bit back tears, craving the feel of Xyhoni’s lips.
‘Go,’ he whispered.
Violetta pushed out of Xyhoni’s grip as he began to call upon his magic. She took a deep breath, tip-toeing to the edge of the crevice before casting a last look back at her love. A new wall of rock was already forming and covered most of Xyhoni’s form.
Violetta turned, dabbing her eyes before stepping out into the passage.




Born in 1993, British writer Daccari Buchelli spends his time focusing on his favourite genre, Fantasy. Having developed an early love of literature, he became determined to create his own magical wonderlands for fellow readers to explore. He spent his teenage years working on several Fantasy novellas, which he has yet to release to the general public. 


He has since released the first book in a new Fantasy series, which revolves around young royals and the elemental magic that they possess. As an active member of the LGBT+ community, Mr Buchelli hopes to help reduce intolerance and bullying by promoting acceptance and understanding of those different to ourselves.






Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!





Happy Book Birthday, The Last Hour by Tara Brown





The Last Hour
by Tara Brown
 YA Dystopian

Hosted by Lady Amber's Reviews & PR







From the trees, I can smell them—smell their fear.
They’re scared as they scurry like animals.
They look different now.
Clothes are ripped.
Hair is dirty.
It’s not them I’m watching for.
They don’t know it, but I’m watching over them.
They move silently, not making noise.
It’s a different world.
Everything is quiet.
The prey moves differently here.
The others listen—always listening.
Silence was survival.
But what are we all surviving for?








I believe growing up in a really small town gives a person a little advantage when it comes to the imagination. You need one or you go mad.
Needless to say, mine saved me. After it got me into trouble first, that is. That's the problem with a vivid imagination, all the lies you tell.
I am happily married with two daughters.
I have two giant dogs, two savage cats, and a penchant for a glass of red.
Also, I drag my bread through the sauce. I can't help myself, bread is life.
According to my age, I am meant to be a responsible adult, but it isn't going well at all. I would still head off to Hogwarts tomorrow and I suspect there isn't a single wardrobe I haven't crept into, hoping to find the door to Narnia. And don't even get me started on the King's Road, I get lost.
Fortunately, I am an international bestseller so I have wormed my way into a quirky or eccentric category.
Thank God for that.
I am represented by Natalie Lakosil from the Bradford Literary Agency and am published traditionally with Montlake Romance.

Buy Links:
The Seventh Day: http://amzn.to/2BVUyFK
The Last Hour: http://amzn.to/2BEldLo





Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cathadeus by Jeff J. Peters with Giveaway




CATHADEUS
Book One of the Walking Gates
by Jeff J. Peters
YA Fantasy 
Wise Ink Creative Publishing
December 8, 2017
344 pages

Tour dates: Dec 4 to 15, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 (fighting scenes)


It has been six hundred years since the Alchemists fused together men and beasts to form strong, mindless slaves. Now, their most vicious creations have attacked the mystical Walking Gates, slaughtering their Keepers and isolating their cities. Wounded in the brutal attack, Braxton Prinn’s mother is on the verge of death and he makes a desperate journey to find the reclusive elven master who can save her. But when he discovers an ancient magic, Brax is caught up in an even greater struggle and soon finds himself hunted for his power. Drawn into the chaos of an impending war and pursued by enemies on all sides, Brax must fight to save his mother and her race from slipping into darkness. Though his untamed magic may be the greatest threat of all . . .


BOOK BUZZ. . .

“Jeff J. Peters’ strong cinematic writing style allowed me to easily visualize the story and feel that I was right there alongside the characters.”
- Alison W.

“Jeff J. Peters’ writing is so smooth and easy to read – I can’t tell you how much of a pleasure it was…and how quickly you end up being drawn into the story because of it.”
- Amanda R.

“Cathadeus is the best kind of fantasy story - you get to learn along with a flawed main character while you get lost in a richly designed world. You can’t help but keep reading. A cleanly written pairing of characters you wish you could spend more time with and an enthralling world built around them. Cathadeus is the kind of story that plays perfectly off of your imagination, with characters grounded in reality to make it feel like you could really be there.”
- Ryan N.

“Jeff J. Peters definitely has storytelling skills...The story stayed on my mind when I wasn’t reading it. Young readers will be drawn in this imaginative story, while they relate to Braxton’s struggles with temper, insecurity, and young love. Cathadeus is dramatic, with an anxious tone—at times bleak, as the story keeps you wondering until the final battle if good will prevail.”
- Elizabeth C.



Add to Goodreads



And here he is. . .

JEFF J. PETERS was born in South Africa and immigrated to the United States as a teenager, where he fell in love with all things fantasy. He obtained degrees in digital electronics and computer science and worked as an IT professional for more than twenty years. In 2014, he left his corporate position to focus full-time on writing. Cathadeus is his debut novel. He is currently working on the sequel.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Facebook








Enter the Giveaway!
End Dec 23


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Monday, December 11, 2017

Review: How Animals Build from Lonely Planet


HOW ANIMALS BUILD
by Moira Butterfield
Illustrated by Tim Hutchinson
Lonely Planet
Picture Book Non-Fiction
24 pages
ages 4 and up



The North & Latin American edition of this title is available here.
Lonely Planet Kids’ How Animals Build is a beautifully illustrated lift-the-flap hardback that explores the incredible world of animal architects. Children can open flaps and unfold spreads to discover amazing animal homes up high, underground, on land, and under the sea. From spider webs and rabbit warrens, to bird nests and ant colonies, and even coral reefs and beaver lodges, we reveal the secrets to these extraordinary structures and how they’re built.
Do bees need cement mixers to build hives? Do beavers use cranes to construct dams? No, of course not! Like many animals, they’re building geniuses who don’t need building site tools to create incredible work. Welcome to nature’s very own, super-clever world of construction.
Created in consultation with Michael Leach, wildlife author, speaker, photographer, and filmographer. Michael is the author of over 20 books on subjects ranging fromm big cats and owls to great apes and bears.


Themed topics include:
 Apartment Block with Branches
  • Dig, Diggers, Dig!
  • Number 1 Bunny Street
  • A Winning Design
  • It’s Buzzing in Here!
  • Nest Neighborhoods
  • This Way to Waterworld
  • Extreme Builders
  • Mouse House Here




MY TIDBITS

Every page of this one is packed full of interesting information and guarantees to suck in information hungry, animal loving kids for hours.

Every animal needs a home, and the variety is almost as vast as the imagination. While some animals keep it simple, others are genuine architects with a touch of genius. From birds, to mice, and even underwater creatures, this book covers a vast array of examples from the animal kingdom and is sure to hold a surprise or two.

The second this book is open, it's clear that the reader is in for a treat. Not only are animals from every corner of the globe, even lesser known ones, mentioned in these pages, but each home is presented through colorful illustrations with many secret doors, which lead to even more interesting tidbits. Not only is it exciting to see what animals and homes are up next, but the various possibilities to open up some homes to large scale, while peeking in the holes of other corners and crannies, makes it a delight to visit again and again.

With all of its fun, this isn't a book for the youngest readers but more suiting ages six and up. The text, while whimsically placed and holding a vocabulary great for the age group, is something for a larger attention span. This isn't a book a reader can devour in one sitting. At least, not while absorbing all of the information. There's simply too much for that. This is the kind of book readers will visit time and again to discover new information or notice things they skimmed past before. And the information is interesting—even for adults. There are enough less known facts to guarantee that something new is to be found for almost every reader.

This is a book of pure discovery and the sheer enjoyment of finding more, and is sure to draw kids back into the pages again and again.




Cover Reveal: Alien Minds by Christina Bauer with Giveaway






ALIEN MINDS
Christina Bauer
Dimension Drift, #1
Monster House Books
November 27th 2018
YA Science Fiction








Meimi Archer is living the perfect life. Too bad it isn’t hers.
On my seventeenth birthday, I wake up in the hospital to find I just survived a sketchy but terrible accident. My parents stand by my bedside—both are beautiful, wealthy, and super-nice. They tell me that once I leave the hospital, I’ll attend the prestigious ECHO Academy, where I’ll churn out equations for the government along with my mega-smart peers.
So, I’m living the perfect life.
Then why does everything feel all wrong?
My parents, my house and even ECHO Academy…none of it fits. Plus, what’s up with Thorne, my brooding yet yummy classmate who keeps telling me I need to remember my true past, which seems to have included a lot of us kissing? That’s one thing I’d really like to remember, except for the fact that I’m pretty sure Thorne is hiding a ton of nasty secrets of his own, including the fact that he may not be from this world. But considering how my own past seems alien to me, it’s not like I can judge. Plus, Thorne has dimples. That’s a problem.
And worst of all, why does it feel so yucky to work on these calculations for the government? It’s all supposed to be part of ECHO, but my heart tells me that I’m helping something truly terrible come to pass. Thorne seems to think that kissing him again will release my real memories.
Maybe it’s time to pucker up.




And here she is. . .
Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers.
Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.
Stalk Christina on Social Media – She Loves It!


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