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Results 26 - 50 of 2,565
26. Author Interview with Pauline Holyoak

Welcome to this week’s edition of Author Interview Thursday.Pauline Holyoak Today’s special guest writes in multiple genres. She’s traditionally published but don’t let that fool you into thinking that she has her feet up smoking a pipe in comfy slippers while the minions at her publishers do all the donkey work. No way José! She works hard to market her books and is passionate about improving her craft as a story-teller. I got introduced to her by Cynthia Echterling who was on our hot seat way back in February. She has a lot to share with us today so please join in welcoming Pauline Holyoak.


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written?

I grew up in England, in a coal mining village lovingly nicknamed, “The place that time forgot.”  I immigrated to Canada when I was 21 in search of adventure and a new life.  I currently live in Alberta with my husband, beautiful Sheltie and ginger cat. I am the proud mother of two grown children and one adorable grandchild. As far back as I can remember the pen and paper have been my faithful companions and story telling my forte. As a child I lived in my inner world of fantasy and make-believe, preferring the company of Mother Nature and my imaginary friends, than that of other children. Often, I would sneak away from the mundane adult world, find a private retreat (usually behind the garden shed) and imagine. There in my own little sanctuary with tools in hand, I’d conjure up all kinds of intriguing tales, colorful characters and magical places. I recall the first time I wrote a real story, at school. I must have been about 8 years old, at the time. It was about a rabbit and a hare, cousins I think, running away from home to a strange country and getting into all kinds of mischief. I still remember my teacher’s reaction after she read it. She looked at me with a stern faced and asked, “Did you copy this?” “No, Miss Finn, I pleaded, “It just, came right out of my head.” “Hmmmm” she scoffed suspiciously. I was devastated but it never stopped me. “I’ll show her.” I mumbled. And I kept writing, whatever came out of my head. I have spent the past 25 years writing editorials, articles, short stories and books.


What can a reader expect when they pick up a Pauline Holyoak book?

If you were to pick up my trilogy, you will find… A chilling tale of love, lust, sorcery and sacrifice; laced with mystery and tied with humor. Inspired by my own experiences at a remote little cottage near Stonehenge. If you picked up my Children’s book you will find, fantasy, humor, colorful illustrations and fun!


You write in the Fantasy genre which is very popular and competitive. What advice would you have for someone who wants to write in this genre?Ultimate Sacrifice COVER

Unlike some other genres, you can let your imagination run wild, while writing fantasy. Read the classics for ideas and use some of the established legends and myths for your fantasy world. But be sure to make your work original. Draw from your childhood world of make-believe. Even though your story is fantasy, your characters have to seem real and believable. Make sure your character’s name fits with your fantasy world, its time and culture. Unless you’re writing a series, your villain must die! I like to finish with an epilogue, so that my reader can be sure that the hero is living happy-ever-after.

You’re published with Whiskey Creek Press. Can you tell us how this came about and the benefits of being with a traditional publisher?

The benefits of having a traditional publisher are – No cost. Publisher pays for editing, printing, cover design, illustrations, etc. More exposure for your book, promotions, help and advertising.


What would you say is the greatest challenge facing authors in this day and age?

Getting your book ‘out there!’


What have you found to be a successful way to market your books?

People often ask me. “Do you spend much time marketing?”….. Oh yes, much more than I care to. Years ago one would write a book, get it published then sit back and collect the royalties. It’s not that way anymore.  Most authors are not salesmen, public speakers or comfortable being in the limelight but we are expected to promote ourselves, as well as our books, even by the big publishing houses. The internet of course, is the most powerful tool an author has. There are literally hundreds of sites that will promote your book, some are free and some are very costly.  I blog, do online interviews, reviews and try to keep a consistent online presence. It can be extremely time consuming but it’s an important element in establishing one’s writing career.

What were some of your favourite books as a child?

Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Alice In Wonderland, Nancy Drew Mysteries, Jane Eire, Great Expectations, The Secret Garden, Anne Of Green Gables…I could go on…and on..


What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue? Malevolent Spirit

Make it clear who is talking. Keep it short. Show rather than tell.


What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?

I have read many wonderful books that have inspired me. I have just finished a book called, This House Is Haunted, by John Boyne. It is written in first person and the dialogue is amazing. It has inspired me to improve my own dialogue. The book that has inspired me the most would have to be Anne of Green Gables. I read it at an early age. The writing, the dialogue and the story encourage me to pursue my dream of becoming a writer.


What is your definition of success as an author?

It may seem cliché to say that ‘success’ isn’t just about money or fame, but obviously that’s the way the world defines it, including the publishing industry. But, if that’s how we define our ultimate success, most of us are going to be doomed to disappointment. Ever noticed that the ‘top ten’ best-sellers list, by definition, only have ten spots. People like Steven King usually have at least two of those spots. Ask anyone on the street to name a successful author and their likely to mention Stephanie Meyers, Steven King or J.K. Rowling’s, yet these people do not strike me as being any happier than the average Jo and certainly not as people who have been ‘made’ happy by their success. I have this quote framed and sitting on my desk. “Successful, is the person who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much, who has gained the respect of children, who leaves the world a better place than they found it, who has never lacked appreciation for the worlds beauty, who never fails to look for the best in others or give the best of themselves.” If and when I become that person, then I will be successful.

Toy Story or Shrek?


What three things should a first time visitor to your home town do?

Get a visitor’s guide (online or off) to Spruce Grove and Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada. We have so many wonderful tourist attractions in this area and it’s only a four hour to the Rocky Mountains.


What can we expect from Pauline Holyoak in the next 12 months? Merryweather Lodge

I am working on paranormal romance and another children’s book. It’s about a little girl who has an incredible dream and visits the land of make-believe. I hope to have both books published by next spring.

Where can readers and fans connect with you? 

Facebook - www.facebook.com/PaulineHolyoak 

Twitter - @PaulineHolyoak

GoodReads - www.goodreads.com/author/show/4415532.Pauline_Holyoak

Amazon - Amazon.com/PaulineHolyoak

Website - http://www.paulineholyoak.com/

LinkedIn - LinkedIn/PaulineHolyoak


Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?

Writing a successful novel depends on four things –a little talent, lots of determination, a vivid imagination and skill. No one can teach you the first three but skill is something you ‘can’ learn…

Try to spend some of your time lurking around the internet – read authors blogs, Facebook pages, websites, read comments and critiques. The internet is a treasure trove of information…

When writing, whether it’s a novel, article or short story, you must grab your reader in the first few sentences. People are much too busy these days to spend the time reading something that doesn’t grab their attention on the first page. Lure them in, give them a hint of what’s to come, tempt them with the breadcrumb trail that will lead them deeper into the thicket.

Be descriptive; convince your reader that she is there, by assaulting each of her senses, with color, sound, taste and texture. If your reader can feel the sun on her face, the wind fluttering in her shirt sleeves, envision the landscape and feel for your characters, half your job is done…

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. ‘Show’ don’t ‘Tell.’ I was confused when I first heard this but it is a simple concept. You can ‘Tell’ your reader how two characters meet, or you can ‘Show’ the characters meeting, making eye contact, checking each other out.

Don’t ever try to compete with others. In this competitive market, one needs to be unique, build your own brand, whatever that might be…

Brush up on your grammar and punctuation. If you have grammatical errors in your book proposal or article query, they are not going to look at your manuscript. If you can afford it, get yourself a professional editor, or find someone with an English degree to go over your work for you. And, never give up!!


Thanks for spending time with us today Pauline. You’ve touched on so many topics that authors and aspiring authors will derive great value from. I think you summed it perfectly when you advocated never giving up. You can connect with Pauline by clicking one of the links she gave and you can also grab one of her books at the link below.

Pauline Holyoak on Amazon


5 Comments on Author Interview with Pauline Holyoak, last added: 6/13/2014
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27. Book Signing Event!

Book signing event at Waterstones, Tower Shopping Centre, Bank Hey St, Blackpool on Saturday 21st June from 1 to 3pm! Come along for a chat with me and maybe buy a signed copy of my children’s humorous fantasy book, ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’. You can also meet the witch ‘Granny Grimthorpe’ and have your photograph taken with her if you like! ‘Granny’ is one of the characters from my book, and she will be offering the kids free novelties from her cauldron. It will be a fun day out. Don’t miss it!

Caution - cover FINAL

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28. Agent Looking For Writers


Madeleine Clark: After working for several years in the editorial department at Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Madeleine Clark joined Sterling Lord Literistic in 2011. Madeleine was born in London, but raised in Virginia. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill., Madeleine is an unabashed anglophile, so some of England has rubbed off on her. She lives in Brooklyn.

Interested in: Madeleine is interested in commercial and literary fiction as well as narrative nonfiction. She is drawn to realistic YA, literary thrillers, novels that can believably introduce a bit of fantasy/sci-fi, and books that draw heavily from their environment whether that is geographical or cultural.

How to submit: If you have a manuscript that seems to fit what Madeleine is looking for, you can email her at: info (at) sll.com with “Attn: Madeleine Clark” in the e-mail subject line. For fiction, please send a synopsis and the first three chapters or a 50 page sample. For nonfiction, send a detailed proposal. Cover letters should be in the body of the email but send the actual submission as a Word document attachment.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, opportunity, Places to sumit, Young Adult Novel Tagged: contemporary/realistic fiction, fantasy, Madeleine Clark, Sci-fi, Sterling Lord Literistic

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29. Dragon Keeper, by Carole Wilkinson

Question:  Can one really recommend a book about a Chinese dragon in which the dragon has wings?  Or does that throw the whole story so off kilter that all that is good gets overshadowed?

This is the question I was forced to ask while reading Dragon Keeper (originally Dragonkeeper), by Carole Wilkinson (Hyperion, 2003; winner of Australia's Aurealis Award for best YA novel, but it's really middle grade).  It's the story of a girl in the time of China's Han Dynasty who is the slave of the Imperial Dragon Keeper.   He is a nasty piece of work, and the slave girl and dragons are cruelly neglected, to the point where all but one of the dragons have died.   Now the Emperor wants to be rid of the last of them....but the slave girl, who does not at this point even know her name, saves the dragon from the hunter charged with killing it, and the dragon (though wounded in the wing) flies off with her (and her pet rat).

The dragon tells her her name, Ping, and though Ping had thought that maybe she'd simply return home, this is not in the cards.  For one thing, the dragon hunter is after them, and has spread the story that she is a witch.  For another, the dragon doesn't want her too, and is rather insistent that they do things his way.  So Ping, her rat, and the dragon head off toward the mythical ocean (on foot, because of the wounded dragon wing).   And Ping finds that the dragon is taking a rather bossy tone with her, assuming she'll be there to look after the mysterious Dragon Stone that is his chief treasure, and it's a bit hard for her to trust him entirely.  But they journey together, outwitting the bad dragon hunter who's still after them, and meeting sundry other folk (including the new young emperor), and the dragon teaches her to develop the power of her qi (which is formidable, and magically efficacious) and shares Taoist bon mots with her.  And at last, after doubts and dangers, the secret of the Dragon Stone is revealed.

In short, it's a rather engaging "girl with special gifts on journey with dragon" story.  The Chinese setting adds interest (although in that sort of "here is an exotic setting adding interest to this fantasy story" way-- such that quotation marks are called for around "Chinese").  Ping is an appealing heroine (once she gets a name) whose dilemmas and decisions and dangerous circumstances make for good reading.  It gets a few bonus points for making Ping the first ever female Dragonkeeper, and one can cheer her on as she develops self-confidence and self-respect, and one can cheer as well for the brave rat friend.  However, the main dragon character is not my favorite dragon ever-why isn't he more open with Ping?  He's basically using her.  Why does he speak fluently aloud, but in broken English when using telepathy? Why does he suddenly not trust her toward the end? Why do his magical powers never come in all that useful? Why is he keeping a comb under one of his scales (this distracted me)?

And most pressingly of all-   wings on a Chinese dragon?????

So I'm not sure I'll bother to look for the sequels, and I'm not going to bother to offer this one to my own inveterate fantasy reading child.  Though I didn't mind reading it at all-- that the pages turned nicely and I enjoyed it (except when I was being critical)--I think there are better books.

Here's the Kirkus review, if you want another opinion that is essentially the same as mine.

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30. Review: The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones

May Contain Spoilers


When I learned that Diana Wynne Jones had passed away, I actually cried.  I have loved her books so much, for so long, and the thought of her wonderful being silenced depressed me.  She was writing brilliant tales brimming with magic long before Harry Potter arrived on the scene, and it’s frustrating that she never attainted the recognition she deserved.  I remember haunting used bookstores and libraries in search of her then out of print books.  At least today, the majority of them are readily available, and quite a few are offered in eBook format.  Win!

I was so excited when I received a review copy of The Islands of Chaldea.  But then I didn’t want to read it, because this is the last new book by her that I will ever have the pleasure of reading.  Completed by her sister, Ursula Jones, I couldn’t have hoped for better.  This is classic Diana Wynne Jones, and I loved every precious word of it.

Aileen is descended from a long line of Wise Women, powerful magic users on the island of Skarr.  Raised by her Aunt Beck after her mother’s death, the story begins with a failure.  Aileen has been confined for the night to seek her magic, but when things go awry, she realizes that she’s not going to receive her vision or her magic.  Feeling like a complete failure, she frets about her lack of powers.  Her no-nonsense Aunt Beck reassures her; sometimes, it takes more than once to receive the gift of magic.

Shortly after, they are both summoned by the king.  The High King insists that they set off on a journey to free his son from Logra, the kingdom that stole him away years ago, and without much choice, off they go.  Beck and Aileen are joined by Ogo, a village boy, and Ivar, an arrogant young prince.  According to prophecy, they must gather people from the other islands of Chaldea to bring down the barrier that separates Logra from the rest of islands.  The barrier has disrupted trade and has everyone worried about what exactly the Lograns are doing on the other side of it.  Are they building an army? Preparing for war?

I love DWJ’s writing so much because her protagonists are so relatable.  Aileen is no exception.  She feels like a failure because she didn’t have her vision, and frets that she might not have any magic.  She is lacking in confidence, though as the journey proceeds, and she is forced to make decisions for the little group, her self-esteem begins to build.  Each challenge gives her another reason to believe in herself, so by the end of the book, she is more than ready to face the villain.  Though she is still terrified of being overmatched, she’s more than ready to give her all to the confrontation, and with everyone’s life at stake, she finds the resolve to stand strong.  It doesn’t hurt that she finds assistance from an unexpected, and very powerful, source.

The other thing I enjoy about DWJ’s books is how magic just is.   There’s no big build up or lengthy explanation for it, but it’s everywhere.  The magic is so natural and such a fundamental part of her stories that I wonder why there isn’t any in ours.  Seriously!  Invisible cats?  Magical songs?  Why don’t they exist in our world?

The Islands of Chaldea is highly recommended for old fans of Diana Wynne Jones, as well as new.  This MG read will appeal to readers of all ages.

Grade:  A-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

The Islands of Chaldea is a new novel of magic and adventure by the renowned fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones, who left behind many acclaimed and beloved books upon her death in 2011, including the internationally bestselling Howl’s Moving Castle and the Chrestomanci books. The Islands of Chaldea was completed by Diana Wynne Jones’s sister Ursula Jones, an acclaimed novelist and actress.

Aileen comes from a long line of magic makers, and her Aunt Beck is the most powerful magician on Skarr. But even though she is old enough, Aileen’s magic has yet to reveal itself. When Aileen is sent over the sea on a mission for the King, she worries that she’ll be useless and in the way. A powerful (but mostly invisible) cat changes all of that—and with every obstacle Aileen faces, she becomes stronger and more confident and her magic blooms. This stand-alone novel is a perfect introduction to the novels of the beloved Diana Wynne Jones.

The post Review: The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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31. Valcoria: Children of the Crystal Star by Jason King


“Jason King weaves powerful stories that grip the reader to the last word with a perfect blend of amazement, fear, love, and destiny…” ~James Wymore, author of Theocracide and The Actuator 



History repeats itself like a song. The verses may vary, but the melody is always the same. 

The eastern empire of Aukasia has a new leader, a man who means to bring war to all the land. Yet, even in all his bloody ambition, he does not realize that he is but the puppet of a greater evil. 

Only the Kalyra – The Children of the Crystal Star – can stand against what’s coming. Only they can protect the world of Valcoria from the mad hatred of the fallen god, Aedar. 

A new verse of the song has begun. The last verse…










Jason’s Website Twitter Facebook / Goodreads 

*Jason King is the author of Valcoria, Lure of Fools, and Thomas Destiny. Other books attributed to him are an error. 

Jason King wishes he was raised on a desert planet by his aunt and uncle and watched over by a mysterious old recluse, but his life is much duller than that. He supposes that’s why he started making up stories. Born in Salt Lake City Utah, Jason grew up on a steady diet of anime, science fiction, Dungeons and Dragons, JRPG’s, and chocolate cake donuts. He pretended not to be a nerd just long enough to get married and start a family. And although dismayed by the revelation that Jason was a geek, his wife stuck with him and they are now the proud parents of four beautiful children. Jason holds a bachelor’s degree in I.T. Management and is currently the Internet Marketing Manager for a local bookstore chain, but he is determined to one day quit his “9 to 5” and write full-time. Jason has two indie books; “Valcoria Children of the Crystal Star” and “Thomas Destiny,” but “The Lure of Fools” is his first published novel.



This tour was hosted by Worldwind Virtual Book Tours


Follow the rest of the Valcoria tour here!

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32. Interview with K. Madill, Author of The Stolen Herd

Karai MadillKarai Madill is a Canadian writer who lives in a wooden house not far from swiftly flowing river. Every now and then a bear comes along and steals her garbage.  When she’s not hanging out with her best equine friend, she can be found roller skating around in circles or planting butterfly friendly gardens. The Stolen Herd is her first novel.

For more K. Madill, visit her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Madill/161159890706088 or blog: http://kmadill.com/

Thank you for joining us today, Karai. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I am a true Canadian and it’s true what they say about us. We’re overly polite. We apologize for apologizing. I have to be near my creature friends as much as possible. I have to visit a forest as least once a week. I will always ditch everyone and everything to write.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug? 

I think it’s more the storytelling bug.  My mother is an avid reader and our house had a library in the den, full of fantasy novels. I wrote my first story when I was six years old, according to her, about a unicorn named Me. I don’t remember that one.  I do recall penning a tale that ended up in the school paper though. That one starred a miniature lion that led me to a room full of candy! Ha – animals and mythical creatures. There’s a pattern here, I think.

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

You know…I don’t think I actually consciously decided.  I just began the Mandamus and Luco series and it just sort of ended up in that category.

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

I think my favorite part is having animals as characters. I adore Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and Charlotte’s Web. I graduated to Animal Farm in my later years, and realized that while the first two were magical in their story telling, the way Orwell used animal characters to express a political message was equally as brilliant. For my books, I get to write scenes with people having conversations and arguments with animals. It’s a blast! I’m also a firm believer that stories need mythical creatures. With an eclectic cast of characters like that you can create all different kinds of scenarios. I think the biggest difficulty is keeping it short and sweet to hold a younger reader’s attention. I idolize the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. I enjoy page after page of descriptive narrative. I also like to write them, much to the chagrin of my editor. She cut a lot out of the original manuscript for this very reason.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

The Stolen Herd is about a foal who is orphaned when his herd is captured by an army. He is found and raised by a mare and her rather ferocious sister. When he’s a bit older, he finds himself in deep trouble, so deep he is sent into temporary exile from his herd. He goes on an adventure and meets all sorts of beings from terrible imps to forgetful naiads.

What inspired you to write it?Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068]

I saw a news article about a school that was busted up by the Taliban, just wiped out. It terrified me.  As I sat there, feeling immeasurably sad, this black horse with glowing, white eyes just popped into my head. He looked so worried. For the rest of the day, his story came in a flood of ideas. I wrote them down when I got home that evening.

Where can readers purchase a copy?


What is up next for you?

The second book in the series. The planning is almost finished. Some of the writing has already begun. The storyboard is full and the creativity is overflowing. I love being able to work on new material. The Stolen Herd took six years. Towards the end I felt stagnated with the whole thing and I was trying to meet a deadline so I was doing re-writes to the edited version for up to 10 hours a day. I almost began to hate it.

Do you have anything else to add?

I do! I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read The Stolen Herd and messaged me or emailed me. Your encouragement is truly appreciated.  If you liked this one, you’re going to love the 2nd book!

Thank you for spending time with us today, Karai. We wish you much success.

Thank you for having me.


The Stolen Herd Banner

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33. Great Kindle Offer!

Click here to go to site. Only 99p for a few days!

Caution - cover FINAL

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34. Book Review- Spireseeker by E.D.E. Bell

Title: Spireseeker
 Author: E. D. E. Bell
Series:  Spireseeker #1
Published:  October 2013
Length:472 pages
Source: author
Summary : Spireseeker is an epic fantasy tale by debut novelist E.D.E. Bell in which the heroine, Beryl, is forced from the only home she's ever known and must discover her true identity in order to confront one of her own kind, before the evil Aegra is able to enslave all of Fayen’s creatures.
Please join us in sharing this creative new novel about Beryl, a young elf who discovers that she is not who she thinks she is but instead is looked to as the one remaining hope to save her home. Communicating with the diverse creatures of the land, Beryl and her unlikely companion march through mountains, forests, and deserts to defeat evil—even as that evil seeks to destroy them first. Though a classic fantasy tale, we promise this one will be unlike any you've read. Experience it today!

Review: Beryl believes herself to be a normal girl until she is able to heal her grandomther when she is badly wounded, and she is told that  she is an elf. And not just any elf. She  has a unicorn’s blessing, enabling her to do the healing, and is also believed to be the one to  free the land of Fayen from the grasp of Aegra, who uses her blessing to manipulate loyalty to help her eliminate the other elves.
The fantasy world is different to those I’ve met before. Each elf can be blessed by an animal that gives them a unique gift, which I liked learning about. 
I really liked the characters. Beryl and her healing powers and Kick, the human companion, were fun to read about and get to know. The culture ofthe elves was fully developed and so were all the other cultures of animals. I quite liked the fact that the nonhumanoid characters played a larger part than they often do in other high fantasy stories.  
The writing style is simple, with more formal language during the council meetings  and more modern language occasionally that feels out of place.
Pacingwise, it starts off well, introducing new powers, new ideas and new quests for Beryl quickly. The middle is quite slow, It picks up towards the end, when Aegra finally appears more after an introduction at the very start followed by 70% of Beryl’s adventures. I think it would have been nice to see her a bit more, to break up the  sameness of the visiting various groups of animals and the discussing in the council, which does get a bit boring after some time. The action scenes were better  written than the talky ones.  

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a fantasy with great characters but was really dragged out in the middle.

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35. The Lost, by Sarah Beth Durst, with Armchair BEA giveaway of ARC

It is such a lovely thing, when a book you get for review turns out to be a beautifully satisfying read.  All the pressure to be tactful is off, and you can simply say things like "I really truly enjoyed this book and didn't want it to end."  The Lost, by Sarah Beth Durst (Harlequin, May 27th, 2014) was such a book.  The pleasure of having some of it left to read this morning almost made up for the hideous fact that the cat woke me up at 4:30am.

Lauren was on her way to work one day, driving to a job she didn't like, driving away from the return of her mother's cancer.   But instead of doing what she was supposed to, she just kept going, driving down a highway through the desert with no plans or intentions to speak of.  And she found herself in Lost.

Lost is a place where missing things, missing houses and toys and dogs and library books, and even lost oceans end up.  Its residents are people who have lost their way, or been lost, themselves.    If they find what they are missing, they can leave... And in the meantime, they survive, or not, by scrabbling through the detritus of the lost bits of other people's lives.

Lauren doesn't know what she's lost.   And she doesn't know what she's going to find.

Here's what she finds:

--lots of scavenged stuff (those who like people making home-ish places with scavenged stuff will share my pleasure in this aspect of the book)
--two of the most meaningful relationships of her life (such as made my heart ache).
--what she needs to do

Here's what the book did to me:

--erased reality
--left me with images and emotions that I will enjoy revisiting during the coming summer of yard work (my mind plays books back to me as I weed)
--left me with a strong desire to read the sequel (The Missing, coming this November)
--made me want to enthusiastically recommend it

It is a fact that I mostly read books for young readers, and I think part of the reason I enjoyed The Lost so much is that it is a book written for grown-up that keeps all that I love best about kids books--the deeply, lovingly created world, the characters who are worth caring about, and the sense of wonder and possible impossibility you find in the best children's fantasy.    If I had to pigeon-hole The Lost explicitly, I'd call it New Adult fantasy, because the main character, Lauren, is a New Adult, facing the questions that come with that territory (of the "what am I going to make of this life I have in front of me" type).    It's easy to imagine YA readers also enjoying it just fine.

You can read the first two chapters via Sarah Beth Durst's website.   

And if you are an Armchair BEA participant, I'm giving away my (very very gently read; you might not even notice my reading of it) ARC of The Lost.  Just leave a comment by midnight this Saturday (May 31) making sure that I can somehow find you....

And now, having lost track of time, I must rush off.  (I would so love to find all the time I have lost track of during the course of my life.)

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

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36. The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett {Review}

The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett Ages: 12+ Hardcover: 304 pages Publisher: Harlequin Teen (June 24, 2014)' Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She's tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother's noble family-especially now that the family's wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It's hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way

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37. Book Review: The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst

The Lost
by Sarah Beth Durst

Lauren doesn't want to face the diagnosis; she fears the news that her mother's cancer has returned. Without planning or even conscious intent, she sets off driving, trying to escape her troubles. Three hundred miles later, Lauren is lost in the desert, surrounded by a dust storm. Finally, she escapes the storm and finds a town where she hopes to get gas, a phone to call her mother, and a hotel room for the night. What she finds instead is a town strangely cluttered with trash, and populated by residents who seem troubled. This is the town of Lost, where everything that is lost - including people - ends up. There's no escape from Lost unless you find what you've lost. With the help of a precocious child named Claire and a mysterious, charismatic man named Peter who calls himself the Finder, Lauren tries to find a way to get out of Lost and back to her mother.

The Lost is Durst's first foray into adult fiction, and what an adult debut it is! As with her YA's, she doesn't disappoint. An intriguing and twilight-zoneish premise, fascinating characters, and a highly readable story make this a book you won't want to miss.

I don't think that Durst gets the recognition she deserves for being one of the best writers of literary fantasy today. I've followed her books since her first one, Into the Wild, which I loved, but over the years since then she's honed her craft to a exceptional level. Her literary technique is masterful, yet doesn't get in the way of telling a good story.

The Lost is a very character-driven story. Although there are a few edge-of-your-seat moments, the plot is primarily driven by Lauren's character arc. It's a mesmerizing book that's hard to put down, and one that proves a book doesn't have to be driven by a frenetic plot to be a page-turner. As you can imagine from the title, everyone in the town of Lost is, well, lost in some way, and the book revolves around a theme of finding your way. Even the Finder, who is supposedly there to help people, seems, in some ways, more lost than anyone. Lauren's journey of self-discovery unspools gradually, as her relationships with Claire and Peter develop and the details of her past life are teased out.

The town itself is fascinating and well developed, almost a character in itself. The streets are cluttered with piles of things that were lost: keys, socks, luggage, and even things like foreclosed houses scattered all over, creating an odd juxtaposition of different architecture. It's all a little bit creepy, as well, in a Stephen King kind of way. The idea sounds like a cliche, but it's so much more than that and the reality and details of life in Lost are fully fleshed out. Survival is a big part of life in Lost; residents have to scavenge among the piles to find the necessities of life. And not everyone in Lost is friendly, in fact, some are decidedly unfriendly. So Lauren has to learn how to survive in Lost as well as trying to figure out how to get home.

I hope I won't be spoiling too much if I say that there's a powerful chemistry between Lauren and Peter right from the start, but I won't say much more than that. It's handled well, and while it's an important element, it doesn't take over the story.


None of the three main characters appear to be people of color in this book. One of the important secondary characters, Victoria, who runs the diner, is described as having rich brown skin. In conversation with Durst, she confirmed that Victoria is African-American. She also told me that Peter is half Native American, but the reader doesn't learn this explicitly until book 3.

Any relationships in the book were heterosexual, and all characters appear to be cisgender. Since Lost draws in all sorts of lost people, one could reasonably expect to see a diversity in Lost reflective of society in general, however, I didn't see that. There's quite a variety of people in Lost, but other than the one character, none were described in a way (that I noticed) that would lead me to believe they were from an underrepresented group.

Who would like this book

Adult and teens who like a well-written, slightly dark, character-driven fantasy with an intriguing premise and a bit of a romantic interest. Although The Lost was published for the adult market and has an adult protagonist, I think it has a strong teen crossover appeal.

Other Reviews

For another view of The Lost, check out Reading in Tandem: "The Lost," by Sarah Beth Durst at Finding Wonderland.

Get it from:
FTC required disclosure: Review copy sent by the publisher to enable me to write this review. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.

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38. The Night Gardener, by Jonathan Auxier -- deliciously creepy, certainly frightening! (ages 10-14)

My students and I have had the best time sharing our latest favorite book: The Night Gardener, by Jonathan Auxier.
"Ooooh, I had nightmares last night from reading it! Did you?"
"Yes!! But I couldn't stop reading!"
"And then I heard the leaves rustling outside and I was sure he was out there!"
"Who? Who are you talking about?"
"The Night Gardener! You've got to read it, but only if you like getting scared!"
Half of our Mock Newbery book club is certain there's no way they're going to read it, but the other half can't wait to get their hands on it. If you like creepy stories full of atmosphere, suspense and mystery, you'll definitely want to find yourself a copy.
The Night Gardener
by Jonathan Auxier
Abrams, 2014
Your local library
Google Books preview
ages 10-14
*best new book*
Molly and her younger brother Kip are orphans fleeing the Irish famine, looking for work in England. They've been told there's a job waiting for them at the Windsor estate, but the local folk are nervous telling them that it's in the sourwoods. An old storyteller tells them, "They say the sourwoods changes folks... brings out something horrible in them." Little do Molly and Kip know just how much the sourwoods will change, tempt and test them.

Auxier does a masterful job at slowly building the suspense. Right away, Molly and Kip sense that something is not right at the Windsor home, but they welcome the warm bed, food and shelter. When they discover the power the tree has over everyone living there, they have been sucked into the terrible evil of the tree and the Night Gardener.

My students and I debated whether this was just a great, frightening story or one with depth and subtlety. While I agree that the climax was certainly heart-pounding, I suggested that Auxier asks readers to consider deeper themes than are apparent on the surface. What did they make when the old storyteller Hester Kettle (one of their favorite characters) told Molly,
"'You asked me for a story; now you call it a lie.' She folded her arms. 'So tell me, then: What marks the difference between the two?'" (p. 214)
When Molly asserts that a lie hurts people and a story helps them, Hester counters by asking her exactly what a story helps them do? And so I ask my students: when the tree gives Molly its secret gift, the gift she wants more than anything else, is it a lie? Or is it a story that she desperately needs to believe in?

I adore that this is a story that can be read on so many levels. Auxier starts with a quote from Paradise Lost, writes in his afterward that he drew inspiration from Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Secret Garden. But I also see connections to the desperate greed and dire consequences of The Picture of Dorian Gray. I want to leave my students ruminating over this passage:
"'I think I figured it out.' (Molly) sniffed, looking up at the stars. 'Hester asked me what the difference between a story and a lie was. At the time, I told her that a story helps folks. 'Helps 'em do what?' she asked. Well, I think I know the answer. A story helps folks face the world, even when it frightens 'em. And a lie does the opposite. It helps you hide.'" (p. 278)
And yes, just for the record, I definitely got nightmares reading this. I had to stop reading it at night and finish it early one Saturday morning. But it's a story that has stayed with me long after that quiet morning.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Abrams Books, but I've already purchased the first of many additional copies! If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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39. The Eighth Day, by Dianne K. Salerni

The Eighth Day, by Dianne K. Salerni (HarperCollins, middle grade, April 22, 2014)

Basic premise:  13-year-old kid with new-found powers finds himself a key player in an ancient magical war.

Basic reaction:  Fun, fast, gripping, lots of interesting twists.


Jax's life pretty much sucks.  His parents are dead, and his guardian,  Riley, is an 18-year old who is failing to provide much in the way of creature comforts, cleanliness, and food.  And then Jax wakes up on the morning of his 13th birthday to find himself in a world seemingly devoid of people.  He has found himself in an eighth day, squeezed between Wednesday and Thursday.

But though, on the eighth day, houses are abandoned and cars sit empty on the highways, Jax is not alone--also awake on this eighth day are the descendants of the two sides in an ancient war.   One one side, there are the heirs to the magic of Merlin, King Arthur and the knights of the round-table.  On the other side are the Kin, magic-users who were imprisoned by the creation of the eighth day millenia ago.  Jax is a descendant of the former side, heir to magical powers of his own.  And the war is still going strong...

Jax, along with Evangeline (the mysterious girl next door, alive only on the eighth day) find themselves facing choices that may lead to the destruction of all normal people.  Jax's newly emerged powers are of little use, but fortunately Riley and Evangeline are much more complicated than they first appear....

Personal reaction:

I enjoyed it lots.  The basic premise of the eighth day was tremendously diverting, and helped make the "kid developing magical powers on his birthday" plot interesting. There's some nice obfuscation of the good guy/bad guy dynamic, with some characters in the gray area between, and some uncertainty about whether what the good guys are doing is, in fact, good.  Nicely complicated!   I liked that older characters (Riley and Evangeline, in their late teens) do most of the heavy lifting viz adversary confronting, because I prefer kids with new found powers to be realistically challenged by the difficult situations in which they find themselves.

My favorite part of the book, though, was not the larger set up with all its dangers and plottings, but the relationship between Evangeline and Jax, which is poignant, fascinating, and thought-provoking (I could have happily read a whole book just about that!).  And I liked the relationship between Jax and Riley too--it ended up going to places I never expected. 

Final thought:

This is one to give the young fan of Rick Riordan's books-real world meeting fantasy in a complicated snarl of mythology-inspired story.  The love interests that appear in the later Percy Jackson books aren't here (yet), though, so it is very much for the middle grade reader, as opposed to the teenager.  That being said, this one is not exactly wish-fulfillment fantasy, and there's a touch of real world grittiness in Jax's home life and in the actions of some of the secondary characters--it is not rainbow unicorns and great Heroics, and the magical fun is slow to really get going.  Which means it will appeal more to some readers and less to others...maybe, now that I am thinking about it more, it will appeal most to the kid who almost loved the Percy Jackson books but didn't quite.  I think the cover will do a good job helping the book find the right kids, what with its urban sci fi look, and nary a rainbow unicorn in sight!

I myself am looking forward to the sequel (The Inquisitor's Mark, coming next January) very much.

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40. Mini-reviews- Tainted by A E Rought and Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Title: Tainted
Author:  A E Rought
Series:  Broken #2
Published:  October 2013 by Strange Chemistry
Source: Netgalley
Review: Post events of Broken, Alex and Emma should be able to get back to their normal lives. These plans gets scrapped when Hailey Westmore turns up—Alex’s ex-girlfriend who we are quickly introduced to as a “manipulative, spoiled witch”. People start dying and it’s clear there’s more secrets that may come out.
This book is told from Alex’s POV as opposed to Emma’s which was a nice change because it helps  you understand the Alex from Broken a little more too. It also means the narrator knows things that everyone else doesn’t, a feature I like sometimes in mysteries.
The beginning was good. Something big happens in a car which really changes the dynamics, which I liked, and the way that scene was written kept me gripped. Later, it wasn’t quite as good-it’s quite predictable and the villain, while being beautifully crazy, isn’t very deep at all.
It’s very over the top with use of tropes and lots of romantic lines that you’ve heard before. There’s a lot of focus on the romance, which I found less interesting than all the action going on. Alex also goes a bit broody and annoying at times.  I liked Emma just as much as in Broken.
There’s still bits of Frankenstein in here, but there’s bits of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde in here too.
I liked the fact that the deers were still a thing. 

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a book where we saw different parts of other characters.

Title: Blood Magic
 Author: Tessa Gratton
Series:  Blood Journals #1
Published:  26 April 2012 by Corgi
Warnings: cutting (for magic, but still cutting), lots of gore
Source: borrowed from friend
Review:  Ever since her parents were murdered, Silla’s been mentally scarred. Nick’s the new boy in town with past experiences of magic. When he finds Silla experimenting with magic, they form a bond, and romance happens. And then there’s a journal kept by Josephine, a girl from years past whose experience with blood magic will highly shape theirs.
From the start, you’re pulled in. The magic and intrigue starts pretty quickly, and promises to build.
The story is narrated by Nick and Silla in alternating turns. They’re two very contrasting characters that work together well. The writing is intricate, gothic and a bit longwinded in places.
I must admit, I didn’t read all of this. The copy of  Blood Magic that I got had journal entries in copperplate, which I looked at and thought “Eyes broken enough anyway. Not even going to try decoding that.” *bases view of plot on characters’ reactions to this*
The magic system is good. Due to it all requiring blood, this book isn’t for the faint hearted!
I didn’t really get into this for reasons unknown. I got characters mixed up a bit every now and again, it took a while for Josephine’s relevance to become clear, but the main thing is that it didn’t have that spark of awesome for me.
Overall:  Strength 2 tea to an atmospheric magic story that I didn’t get into.

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41. Oddfellow's Orphanage written and illustrated by Emily WInfield Martin, 126 pp, RL 3

ODDFELLOW'S ORPHANAGE  is now in paperback! With her first book for children, Oddfellow's Orphanage, Emily Winfield Martin combines her many talents and uncommon vision to create a book that I would have adored as a child. Martin's first book, The Black Apple's Paper Doll Primer, caught my eye one day last year while I was shelving in the craft section and I was entranced. Martin doesn't

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42. Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, 384 pp, RL 5

Newbery Honor winner  SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS  is now in paperback! Laura Amy Schlitz is the author of the Newbery winner Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village. She is the author of one of my favorite books, A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama, that reads a bit like a Gothic Anne of Green Gables if an had been adopted by a trio of elderly sisters who pretend to be

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43. The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, 366 pp, RL 4

The Night Gardener is the second novel from Jonathan Auxier (check out his fantastic blog The Scop) with perfectly creepy cover art by Patrick Arrasmith. Auxier's first book, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, an excellent story that reads like a cross between Peter Pan and Treasure Island with a bit of Dickensian drama thrown in for good measure. With The Night Gardener, Auxier has set

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44. Interview with Jeffe Kennedy, Author of The Mark of Tala


[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good afternoon, Jeffe!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Jeffe Kennedy] Writer, scientist, woman, hedonist, enthusiast

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Mark of the Tala?

[Jeffe Kennedy] Besides the official blurb? (which is here: http://www.jeffekennedy.com/the-mark-of-the-tala/)

It’s a story that plays with fairy tale tropes and explores what the life of the middle princess is like. Not the most beautiful, not the eldest, but the one who serves as a footnote in the stories. The stepping stone between her sisters. My middle princess, Andi, has spent her life being unseen, until she discovers a frightening legacy that’s hers alone. It’s about her journey to take control of her own life and be something more than an invisible nobody.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Jeffe Kennedy] My FAVORITE scenes are all spoilery…but here’s a very good one.

            Then he was tugging me toward the fireplace and the white fur rug in front of it. He sat me in a chair and began working the laces of my boot, his shining black head bent over the task. Soon he’d have all my clothes off and would be inside me. No going back. I scanned the room, not really looking for escape. Just to settle myself. The fire blazed with welcome warmth and the fur looked soft.

            “What has white fur that’s this big?”

            Rayfe glanced up, dark-blue eyes glinting. “To the north are great white bears. Lethal hunters.”

            More stories come to life. He slipped the boots off my feet and smiled that wicked half smile at me. “I wouldn’t lie to you, Andromeda.”  He stood, urging me to my feet, and swept his free hand over my hair. “Would you help me with my boots?”

           I understood the hesitation in his voice when I knelt at his feet to pick one-handed at the wet knots. Though he’d performed the same service for me, I felt oddly subservient. The image of the long-ago foreign queen slipped through my mind, forever kneeling at the throne of her conqueror while her people glared at her with accusation and pity.

            “I wonder what you’re thinking about,” Rayfe mused. “Not about the bears of the north, I think.”

            “Perhaps I am. Or about lethal hunters in general.”

            “Is that how you see me?”

            I looked up to see that he’d leaned forward, tails of hair that escaped from the knot at his nape falling around his sharp cheekbones.

            “Trying to choose the right words?” He sounded amused and I remembered Ursula teasing me the same way, standing in the exercise yard a lifetime ago. I could see the echoes and layers around him, just as I’d seen around her that day.

            “I see the wolf in you. And the raptor. I see—” him dead in the snow, surrounded by a circle of crimson blood. I willed the image away.

            “What do you see?” he urged, curiously intent.

            I shrugged, abruptly self-conscious. “Dreams and visions. It’s of no matter.”

            “Visions were one of Salena’s gifts. If they are yours, too, you’ll have to learn to wield this ability.”

            I stared at his boots, the black scuffed and worn. “What about shape-changing?”

            “That, too. Have you ever?”

            “No.” I shook my head, confirming it to myself. “But I feel…”

            “Most learn as children,” he told me in a gentle tone. “And even for the most experienced, it’s far more difficult to accomplish away from Annfwn. I’ll teach you that, too.”

            “But not tonight. My mind and heart can only stretch so far, so fast.”

            He slipped his fingers under my chin and raised it, brushing my lips with a kiss so sweet my heart turned over in my chest.

            “No. Not tonight,” he murmured.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the story?

[Jeffe Kennedy] The ending! I had a visceral feeling for how Andi would use her newfound gifts to solve the problems and I knew the final scene, but it took me a long time to figure out how to get there. I ended up stopping about 8,000 words shy of what I thought it should be, though the book was finished. Then I went back and revised from the beginning and, the second time through, suddenly (and thankfully!), I understood how it would all work out.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Jeffe Kennedy] My book book! http://www.twelvesouth.com/product/bookbook-for-iphone-5

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Jeffe Kennedy] Glass of wine *cough*, snow globe with a cover of The Mark of Tala in it and my tea pot warmer.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Jeffe Kennedy] Ooh, interesting question. Maybe Tina Fey. She’s so smart and ballsy – I would love to walk a day in her shoes.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Jeffe Kennedy] I’m going to pick the ability to heal. I seem to know a lot of people lately dealing with terrible, chronic and progressive health conditions. I would heal as many of them as I could in that week.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Jeffe Kennedy] I’ve been re-reading JD Robb’s IN DEATH series, which is one of my all-time favorites. I also just picked up a copy of Helen Kay Dimon’s MERCY and am loving it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Jeffe Kennedy] I’m on Twitter more than is healthy for one human being, so that’s the easiest way – @jeffekennedy – and I skitter through Facebook a fair amount – https://www.facebook.com/jeffe.kennedy. I also blog fairly regularly on my website and people can sign up for my newsletter there, too! http://www.jeffekennedy.com/



The Mark of the Tala

The Twelve Kingdoms Trilogy

Book One

Jeffe Kennedy

Release Date May 27

Available on Amazon

Book Description:

Queen Of The Unknown

The tales tell of three sisters, daughters of the high king. The eldest, a valiant warrior-woman, heir to the kingdom. The youngest, the sweet beauty with her Prince Charming. No one says much about the middle princess, Andromeda. Andi, the other one.

Andi doesn’t mind being invisible. She enjoys the company of her horse more than court, and she has a way of blending into the shadows. Until the day she meets a strange man riding, who keeps company with wolves and ravens, who rules a land of shapeshifters and demons. A country she’d thought was no more than legend–until he claims her as its queen.

In a moment everything changes: Her father, the wise king, becomes a warlord, suspicious and strategic. Whispers call her dead mother a traitor and a witch. Andi doesn’t know if her own instincts can be trusted, as visions appear to her and her body begins to rebel.

For Andi, the time to learn her true nature has come. . .

Upcoming books in the trilogy are The Tears of the Rose and The Talon of the Hawk.

About the Author:

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her fantasy BDSM romance, Petals and Thorns, originally published under the pen name Jennifer Paris, has won several reader awards. Sapphire, the first book in the Facets of Passion series, has placed first in multiple romance contests and the follow-up, Platinum, is climbing the charts. Her most recent works include three fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns, the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and the post-apocalyptic vampire erotica of the Blood Currency.

She is currently working on Master of the Opera and The Twelve Kingdoms, a fantasy trilogy.

Jeffe lives in Santa Fe, with two Maine coon cats, a border collie, plentiful free-range lizards and a Doctor of Oriental Medicine. Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com or every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog.





The post Interview with Jeffe Kennedy, Author of The Mark of Tala appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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45. Son by Lois Lowry, 393 pp RL 5

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - SON -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> Son by Lois Lowry completes the quartet of books that began in 1993 with The Giver, followed by Gathering Blue in 2000 and Messenger in 2004.  Son begins at almost the

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46. “It was not simply beauty and strength, it was terror.”

I’m trying to recall where, exactly, I first heard of this book…I know I very quickly added it to my Goodreads To-Read list last October, but the GR summary doesn’t include the one element that’d especially grabbed my attention.  Maybe it was one of the reviews that first mentioned the strange, sparkling bones found by the protagonist — bones […]

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47. Star Wars Stuff

Well, Episdoe VII is officially under way. Principal cast has been announced and shooting has started. As a life-long fan, I have much confidence in JJ. Contrary to many, I totally enjoyed what he did with Star Trek and thought Into Darkness was better than his first one. To me, it seems Mr. Abrams is a fan first and a businessman second. I hope that he makes my beloved universe his own, acknowledges the fans and makes something not only for kids, but also those of us who never really grew up.

Star Wars Weekends 2007

I have my hopes for what I would like to see in the new trilogy; characters like Mara Jade and events like the death of Chewbacca. Don't get me wrong - I don't want to see Chewbacca die. Jar Jar heads that list. Chewbacca's death was an epic moment and a great sacrifice. He swore a life-debt to Han and it should be a necessary moment, even if it does not occur as it did in the Expanded Universe novel.

The cast consists of a young group of relative unknowns. Sound familiar? Still, there is one Harry Potter alum, two from Coen Bros and one that endured Attack the Block. One of the biggest treats for me is to see Max Von Sydow join the ranks of Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. In case you are not familiar with this legendary actor, he starred in the classic Strange Brew.

I could rant about how great the original trilogy was, everything wrong with the prequels and what they musn't ruin in the new movies. I won't do that. We all have our own opinions and own hopes. Isn't that what Star Wars is really about...hope? It is adventure, humor, mystery, love and good conquering evil. On top of all that, it gives us hope...hope that there is something bigger, greater out there - something that binds the universe together. It gives us hope that we can revisit our childhood and remember the things that made us happy.

Star Wars remains one of the earliest inspirations for my own writing. The Hero's Journey is a universal map that applies to my first novel, The Fourth Queen. I even tried my hand at some SW Fan Fiction (which might end up on this blog some day).

"They're for sale, if you want them."

As I continue my training in the Jedi way, I find that I can part with material things. To that end, I have created a Facebook album featuring over 300 figures collected since 1995. Feel free to make me an offer on any or all of them.

As always, thank you for reading my blog. 
Please be sure to visit me on FB: www.FB.com/MarkMillerAuthor

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48. Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff, 272 pp, RL 4

RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPLESTILTSKIN is now in paperback!! Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff is a clever exploration and expansion of the classic fairy tale and, as with the original, there is everything in a name. Names and magic are at the heart of Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin, which is set in a bleak fairy tale landscape where a king who is hungry

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49. First Chapter Review: Guardians Inc.: The Cypher by Julian Rosado-Machain




Julian Rosado-Machain is on tour with Pump Up Your Book promoting the young adult fantasy adventure novel, Guardians Inc.: The Cypher. I received the first chapter only for review.

Guardians Inc 7

BLURB: GUARDIANS INC.: THE CYPHER is two stories in one. A glimpse into a multinational company that is in reality the oldest of secret societies, one that spans close to seven thousand years of existence, weaving in and out of history, guiding and protecting humanity from creatures and forces that most of us believe are only mythology and fairy tales.

The other is the story of Thomas Byrne, a young man thrust into secrets he shouldn’t be aware of and dangers he shouldn’t face but, that he ultimately will, for he is a Cypher. The only one who can steer humanity’s future.

The ultimate conspiracy theory is that Magic is real. Kept in check by technology but, every five hundred years the balance can shift and, if it does, technology will fail and those creatures we’ve driven into myth will come back with a vengeance.

To protect the present, Guardians Incorporated needs to know the future, and to unlock the future they need a Cypher.

This is the first book of the Guardians Inc Series.

COVER: The fantasy genre lends itself to fabulous covers and this is no exception. What the reader can assume is the main character is seen facing off against dreadful creatures as a result of the shifting balance mentioned in the blurb. I love this design and color scheme.

FIRST CHAPTER: Thomas is still the new kid at school when he gets into a fight with the football team’s linebacker and finds himself in the office of the dreaded Vice Principal Killjoy.

KEEP READING: Definitely. Rosado-Machain does a fine job of dropping the reader right into the action with Thomas sitting outside the vice principal’s office while his grandfather talks with the vice principal about his fight with Roger Hill, the football team’s linebacker. The author sprinkles in the backstory and ends the first chapter on a note that entices the reader to continue. Even though there is no hint of what is to come for Thomas, the reader is left with a few questions that make her want to find out more of Thomas’s story.

Title: Guardians Inc.: The Cypher

Author: Julian Rosado-Machain

Publisher: Julian Rosado-Machain

Pages: 239

Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure

Format: Paperback, KindleJulian Rosado-Machain

Julian Rosado-Machain has enjoyed pizza in three continents, worked in graphic design, armored vehicles, built computers, handcrafted alebrijes and swears that he has seen at least one ghost.

He lives in San Diego, California. And enjoys the sun with his wife, three children and cat.

His latest book is the YA fantasy adventure, Guardians Inc.: The Cypher.

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This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.



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