Book Review: Dragon Stone Trilogy by Kristian Alva

This is a tale of the prophesied boy, Elias, with magical powers from a small village. He discovers a dragon stone and is hunted by an evil emperor. The story has elements that have been seen before: dragon, elf, dwarf however it is mixed with new and interesting creations like the necromancers. The backdrop of a simple village where Elias is living in a dark time, being poverty stricken was well depicted. His grandma was his one and only family. She was his guide but she hid her true magical powers. The story would have benefited if both the characters were developed substantially more. This is a simple story but it is fast paced and keeps you turning pages to find what happened next. Book 1: Dragon Stones is however, pretty short.

The end of book one offers some nice surprises which also kept me going on to Book 2: Return of the Dragon Riders. While we have yet to meet the evil emperor Vosper, more about Elias’s parentage is revealed to the readers. Thorin, Elias’s halfling friend from Book 1, is still around providing advice, support, and the occasional comedic relief. There’s plenty of action in this novel and it is well-paced. I like that the point of view shifts around and we get to spend time away from Elias. Elias is a well-meaning teen who wants to think the best of nearly everyone. Many of the other characters are not so trusting. In fact, there is a hidden traitor among them, which adds suspense to the story.

Book 3: Vosper’s Revenge, is an excellent ending to this saga! There is more action, mystery and magic. The evil Emperor Vosper and his forces are stronger and more wicked than ever and their opposition to the Riders and the land of Durn comes to an action packed conclusion. I really enjoyed the strengthening bond between Elias and his dragon, Nydiered. Their story is sweet and warms the heart. The end of the book seemed rushed. The battle between Vosper and Elias seemed almost anticlimactic. I would have also enjoyed a more detailed account of the after effect of the war, as well as what happened to the characters. However, the book was still a decent conclusion to the series.

Overall, I give the entire series four stars.

Book Review: Prophecy of the Most Beautiful by Diantha Jones

This book has it all! Think Greek mythology dressed up in today’s clothes. You are reminded of Percy Jackson where there are Gods, Demigods, Nymphs and so forth but there in the similarities end. Chloe, the main character is a teenager that hears voices. She kept having these “hallucinations” and no one really understood them. They could only do the thing that made the most sense and that is to call her crazy. It is her coming of age story. Realizing and owning what she is and what she can do. She is the Oracle of Delphi, a very powerful incarnation at that.

Strafford Law is her guardian. He is a dishonored demigod and there is a cute romance blossoming between Chloe and Stafford. The many worlds are interesting but definitely borrowed from cities well known to most readers.  I do not necessarily understand the tattoos and how much the demigods seem to like them! This book was fast paced with a lot of twists and turns. It was a fun, entertaining read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a very imaginative take on ancient Greece and their famous Gods.

One issue that I had with the book was the development of Chloe’s character. She inherently seems to get good at fighting and leaps before thinking. This seems to be a miss with an Oracle but perhaps we will understand this behavior in the other books. 4.5 stars! I will definitely watch for more books in this series and by Diantha!

Book Review – The Happenstance Marshal by Michael O’Gara

The Happenstance Marshal is about someone who is down on their luck and how she turns things around. She does this with her skill and a lot of luck. Although it started out unusually the story definitely picked up as it kept developing. This is a fast paced western book that definitely made me want more. 

Millie Boyd is a character full of spunk but with a rarely seen softer side. She has a great cast of supporting characters that I suspect will develop more as the series unfolds. There is a lot of action but not very many twists and turns, it was a straight up thriller and an easy read. 

A good author writes about what they know and Michael O’Gara does just that. The book successfully conveys  the nuances of how a city office works. My only complaint is that some instances seem just a little hard to believe but still I can’t wait to see what Millie gets into next!

Book Review – Sink or Swim by Stacy Juba

Cassidy is a strong, motivated woman with some dreams and ambitions. What I really like about Sink or Swim is that Cassidy isn’t a helpless female. She is strong and willing to fight for herself and for what she believes is right.

The back drop of the book is a reality game show or rather the book starts at the last episode of “Sink or Swim”. It quickly turns into a murder mystery with a few twists and turns. There is also some budding romance. Sink or swim is an easy read and I would give it my three and a half stars. 

The main reason why it didn’t score higher for me is that Cassidy’s character could have been portrayed better. The author focused on her indecision very well but didn’t develop the character as much as I would have liked. Some of the supporting characters could have been better portrayed as well. 

All Authors Blog Blitz

Featured Author – Amy Whalen Deger 

Hello all! My name is Amy Whalen Deger and I am working to become a self-published author. As part of the All Author Blog Blitz that Abha and I are both participating in I am going to be guest posting today. In this post I want to touch on two topics. The first is using Kickstarter to fund a writing project and the second is my first book, Escaping Tiger Island.

Kickstarter is a crowd-funding website that helps entrepreneurs, inventors, and creative types fund their projects. Each project has a funding goal and rewards to give to the funders for their donation. In order to receive the funds donated your project must hit 100% of its funding goal. It can go above, but even one dollar below and the project funds are not collected. 

The project I posted was to raise funds to have a cover design created for my book and to have it edited. My goal was $350 and (thankfully!) I was able to reach it. I wanted the rewards I offered to be connected to the book so I offered e-book versions, signed paperbacks, and even a chance to have a character in the book named after a person of the donaters choosing. Using Kickstarter gave me a chance to get the word out about my book and give my friends, family, and strangers a chance to get an advanced copy. The projects available through the website are far ranging so I suggest you go check it out! If you want to read more about using Kickstarter and see the book cover I had designed you can check it out on my blog www.authoramy.com

I also want to tell you all about my forthcoming debut novel called, Escaping Tiger Island. I began writing it a little over six months ago and I am now finishing up the editing process with plans to self-publish in mid-July. 

The story is about sixteen year old Claire who gets pulled into a magical world while trying to protect her brother Noah. Noah, at only eleven, doesn’t realize the danger that they are in and sees the enchanted island they have landed on as a place of adventure and excitement. Fairies, which are indigenous to the island, use the boys to fight off intruders and protect the island ecosystem, thereby ensuring their own survival. When Claire realizes that her brother is starting to forget the home they came from she takes action and makes unlikely alliances to save them both. 

I want to thank Abha for having me on her blog, and I hope you all look for Escaping Tiger Island on Amazon next month!

The Dragon’s Loyalty Awards

dragonsloyaltyaward

I was linked and awarded by Ty Patterson

When you have someone like him looking out for you, a writer’s life is smoother.

The loyalty award is not given lightly and goes to those who help upcoming authors and Ty is a worthy recipient of that award.

The “rules” – if you so chose to participate – associated with receiving the award are :

1.Display the Award Certificate on your website. Check.

2.Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented your award.

Of course.

3.Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers. Yup. as below.

4.Drop them a comment to tip them off after you’ve linked them in the post. Yup.

5.Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

this is tough.

1. I am a paraglider, yup jump off a  mountain and everything!

2. I am an engineer, mechanical. I guess this could be interesting to some 🙂

3. I read a lot of books. This is hard!

4. I am also scuba diver.

5. I taught myself how to swim. i had no technique but i could stay afloat 🙂

6. The Little Ant was my first book and it was written in just 2 months. Written, illustrated and published!

My nominations are

http://kanzensakura.com/

http://www.hazelnutt.com/

http://ethanreilly.wordpress.com/

http://cristianmihai.net/

http://coreymp.wordpress.com/
http://globalparkedideas.wordpress.com/

NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP

Welcome to the NEXT BIG THING Blog Hop.

What is a blog hop? Basically, it’s a way for readers to discover authors new to them. I hope you’ll find new-to-you authors whose works you enjoy. On this stop on the blog hop, you’ll find a bit of information on me and one of my books and links to other authors you can explore!

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My gratitude to fellow author, Hazel Nutt, for inviting me to participate in this event. You can click the following links to learn more about Hazel and her books.

Hazel Nutt – http://www.HazelNutt.com

In this blog hop, my fellow authors and I, in our respective blogs, have answered ten questions about our current book or work-in-progress (giving you a sneak peek). We’ve also included some behind-the-scenes information about how and why we write what we write–the characters, inspirations, plotting and other choices we make. I hope you enjoy it!

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions. Here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the working title of your book?

The Little Ant

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

Good question! It all started when I wanted to find a book to read with my daughter that would also teach her something.

3: What genre does your book come under?
It is a Children’s picture book.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Abigail Breslin would be perfect as the little ant. She always plays a quirky but loveable character.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The little ant went exploring to the park.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
This is a self-published book.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It was so much fun writing this that it took only 2 months to get it out there.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I would say I Love You! and Goodnight Moon.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My daughter.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
This book is a children’s picture book that has a learning component to it. The book is constructed in such a way that it allows the young readers to learn new words through repetition.

Below you will find authors who will be joining me virtually, via blog, next Wednesday. Please be sure to bookmark their sites, and add them to your calendars for updates on their upcoming books! Happy Writing and Reading!

Ty Patterson : Blog: http://pattersonty.wordpress.com

Jill Sanders: Blog: http://www.prideseries.com/blog.html

Book Review – Leandra’s Enchanted Flute by Katy Huth Jones

Sometimes the magic lies within.

This is a fantasy tale filled with talking birds an enchanted flute and a world that is dying. The main character Lee Ann (Leandra) has just survived chemo and her cancer is in remission when she gets called into this world. This is an easy story to follow for the young readers. What I like about the book is how it compares cancer to things tweens or teenagers could relate to. The story itself is absorbing and the characters are interesting. I like that Lee Ann although physically weak is portrayed as a strong character capable of defending a world.

I would give this book four stars and caution the readers of the content. I think it is appropriate for tweens/ teenagers and particularly if someone is dealing with cancer on any level. Another subtle message of the book is how our world is connected. There is evil in many forms but if we are strong then we have a way of fighting it. The author is a cancer survivor and the reader can definitely see some of what she went through in her own personal journey.

The story did leave me with an incomplete feeling. Even if a book is part of a series I like to see some closure. This book does have an ending but perhaps its not the ending I was looking for! I sure hope Katy continues Leandra’s journey so that eventually I get my ending!

Author Interview – Lord & Lady Doherty authors of What Squirrels Do Series of Picture Books

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1) Tell us about yourself- where are you from? What do you like to write?

We are Lord and Lady Doherty and live in the UK. We have a beautiful baby daughter called Hazel, who is the inspiration and muse for the pen-name Hazel Nutt. She takes up most of our time during the day and by night we write! At the moment, we are happy creating childrens’ picture books.

Who knows what the future holds, we will probably write a few non fiction books in our own names, however we are having another baby in April, so not a lot will be written in the next 6 months or so!

2) What prompted you to start writing?

Both of us have written short stories and poetry from an early age, however in the last few years we have had a writing hiatus. We have written numerous articles, reports and books as ghostwriters, but nothing resembling fiction.

When Hazel was born it was like a creative bolt of lightening and we have been getting inspiration and ideas left, right and center. We have so many future picture books up our sleeves, if we are successful in promoting our first set of picture books.

3) What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

We mainly like to read thrillers and murder mysteries. Our favorite thriller writer is Peter James. We are really into the Agatha Raisin murder mysteries set in the Cotswolds. Agatha Raisin is like a comedic drunk version of Miss Marple! We have read the entire series by M C Beaton and we pounce on the new releases when they come out!

4) What inspires you to write?

That one is easy – our daughter Hazel. She makes us laugh everyday and is is just the perfect muse.

5) What made you self-publish? Would you recommend that to other aspiring authors?

Well we wanted to do something special for our daughter’s second birthday, so we decided to have the publish date of the “What Squirrels Do” trilogy as her birthday

Although the name Hazel Nutt is a pen-name, for all intents and purposes these books have been created for our daughter, as a sort of legacy for her and her future family. We wanted to retain control over these books and have a go ourselves at self-publishing.

We think that the traditional route of publishing of finding a publisher is a very time consuming task and you seem to have to wait a long time to get anything published, even when the manuscript is finished and ready to go.

Self publishing gives you complete control. It is by no means the easy route, as it is difficult to create a professional looking manuscript that looks good printed and marketing it yourself is no mean feat either, but hopefully it will all be worth it.

Make no mistake, It is hard work whatever publishing route you take – maybe more so with the self-publishing route, as you are on your own.

6) What did you find to be the most difficult part of the writing process? Easiest?

One of the most difficult parts of the writing process is the editing – deciding what stays and what goes. In addition to that putting it together in a format that looks good in print and on Kindle is very hard. We ended having to outsource the making it look good in Kindle part.

The easiest part is coming up with ideas, because Hazel is so curious and scrumptious it is impossible not to!

7) Tell us about your books. Where can our readers find it?

The books: What Squirrels Do When You Are Not Looking, What Squirrels Do: The Squirrel Olympics and What Squirrels Do: Just For Fun are full of beautiful illustrations and ideas that could just be true. Who really know what squirrels get up to while people are looking the other way?

What Squirrels Do When You Are Not Looking – this book answers some of life’s mysteries like why car alarms go off in the middle of the night and why shopping trolleys can be found deep in the wood – squirrels have something to do with the answers.

What Squirrels Do: The Squirrel Olympics – Human Olympics take place every four years, but squirrels get up to all sorts of fun events like squirrel bunjee jumping or limbo dancing all year around when everyone’s backs are turned.

What Squirrels Do: Just For Fun – A look at the everyday antics of squirrels and what they might do to keep themselves entertained, like swinging on the ivy like Tarzan, or pulling faces at humans behind their backs.

The books encourage a love of nature. They also help develop creativity and little imaginations, as children can have fun thinking of additional antics that squirrels (or other animals) could get up to when no-one is there to see.

You can find these books on Amazon as paperbacks and Kindle ebooks.

What Squirrels Do When You Are Not Looking
Amazon.com:http://www.amazon.com/What-Squirrels-When-Youre-Looking/dp/1478363800/
Kindle (Amazon.com): http://www.amazon.com/What-Squirrels-Youre-Looking-ebook/dp/B00BDBVKRW/

What Squirrels Do: The Squirrel Olympics
Amazon.com:http://www.amazon.com/What-Squirrels-Do-Squirrel-Childrens/dp/1482354195/
Kindle (Amazon.com): http://www.amazon.com/What-Squirrels-Do-Childrens-ebook/dp/B00BDZYOCG/

What Squirrels Do: Just for Fun
Amazon.com:http://www.amazon.com/What-Squirrels-Do-Rhyming-Childrens/dp/1482354349/
Kindle (Amazon.com): http://www.amazon.com/What-Squirrels-Do-Childrens-ebook/dp/B00BDZYR2S/

8) Who is your favorite character in your books? Why?

Well Hazel Nutt is the both the writer and narrator of these books and her picture appears at least once in each of the books, so she is our favorite character. Why? Because it’s Hazel!

9) Do you have a website? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?
Author Website: http://www.HazelNutt.com

Book Website: http://www.WhatSquirrelsDo.com

Social Media Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/1HazelNutt

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BabyBloggerHazelNutt

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/105971791020252696308/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hazel-Nutt/e/B008JI05GO/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/HazelNutt

Get a Squirrel Mask to catch those squirrels in the act yourself here:

http://whatsquirrelsdo.com/activity-pack

Win Signed Copies of The What Squirrels Do Trilogy here:

http://whatsquirrelsdo.com/whatsquirrelsdogiveaway

Children’s Health

This week I wanted to mix it up. I typically interview kid lit authors and review children’s and young adult books but I was inspired by a simple ad this week.

It is a village setting in India where a man is walking on his hands. Soon the entire village starts to follow him as he continues his “walk” towards the temple. He takes a break by resting his feet on a tree-branch, still upside down. He only straightens up when he reaches the temple. An outsider asks what this was all about. The answer, “This is his only child that survived past five years of age and today is his birthday.”

It was an ad for soap. I didn’t know that the simple act of not washing one’s hands can lead to infant death. We in the developed countries don’t know how fortunate we are until something like this reminds us of all the blessings we have. We have clean water,  soap and even (organic!) food.

I realize I am fortunate but that somehow doesn’t seem enough. I feel like I should be doing something, what? I have no clue. My excuse has been that I give to charity X but is that enough? Should corruption or administrative expenses of these charities (like red cross) be my excuse? I am sure I am not the only one that thinks about this, so drop me a line. Tell me what you do? What is enough? How do you find peace with your decision?

Here’s the ad (hit the image to play the ad)