Saturday, January 30, 2016

Review: Demon Princess by Kassandra Lynn



DEMON PRINCESS 
Demon Kingdom Fairy Tales, Book 1
by Kassandra Lynn
YA Fantasy
162 pages








With her father gone and her brother missing, Demon Princess Adriana has to assume the throne, temporarily becoming the Demon King. The procession is underway, and the princess is nervous yet determined … until the unthinkable happens and she is summoned! Somehow, Aldric, a mage-in-training has summoned the princess into the human kingdom. Now trapped, Adriana must hide her identity and escape before she loses her life in the hands of her mortal enemies.




MY TIDBITS


The second I saw the cover and read the blurb, I knew this was one I had to get my hands on.

From the very first page, I was hooked. We meet Adriana, a demon princess, just as she's on her way to be crowned Demon King, since her brother and father disappeared. She's nervous, not sure it will work, but is ready to face what she must for the sake of her kingdom. And this already makes her a character that's easy to love, but when she's suddenly kidnapped and swept away to horrid circumstances, it's impossible not to feel for her.

But she's a princess through and through. There's the perfect hero, some more complicated characters which it was hard to determine whether they should be loved or hated, and a world ready to destroy her if they discovered who she really was. The fantastical creatures, exciting magic and dangerous battles made this into a real treat. In other words, the tension held from one page to the next, and I ended up reading this in one setting.

There are a few little holes in the plot, and a couple actions I didn't quite understand, but this by no means made the book any less fun to read. I can't wait to read book two and see what happens next. 


And here she is. . .
KASSANDRA LYNN!!!




Kassandra Lynn is the author of Book of Immortals series and Demon Kingdom Fairy Tales series. Her favorite genres are fantasy and romance. She especially enjoys reading and writing about unique concepts, unpredictable plots, and protagonists who aren't the typical protagonists.

Link to my website: http://www.kassandralynn.com

Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy by Paula Berinstein

AMANDA LESTER
and the 
PINK SUGAR CONSPIRACY
Amanda Lester Detective Series, Book 1
by Paula Berinstein
The Writing Show
Middle Grade/Tween Mystery
386 pages




A reluctant detective, a criminal mastermind, and . . . sugar?


Amanda Lester wouldn’t be caught dead going into the family business. Her ancestor, Sherlock Holmes’s colleague Inspector G. Lestrade, is a twit. Nevertheless her parents refuse to see his flaws, and she’s going to a secret English school for the descendants of famous detectives whether she likes it or not.  
When Amanda arrives at the dreaded school, she considers running away—until she and her new friends discover blood and weird pink substances in odd places. At first they’re not sure whether these seeming clues mean anything, but when Amanda’s father disappears and the cook is found dead with her head in a bag of sugar, they’re certain that crimes are taking place. 

Now Amanda must embrace her destiny and uncover the truth. The only snag is that arch-villain Blixus Moriarty, a descendant of Holmes’s nemesis Professor James Moriarty, might be involved, and he doesn’t like nosy little girls interfering in his business.


Available for purchase at:




MY TIDBITS


The first paragraph already made me an Amanda Lester fan. I have a soft spot for Sherlock Holmes (always have had), and the idea that one of Detective Lestrade's (a police detective who had close ties with Mr. Holmes) descendants would be a girl, who wants nothing to do with her ancestry had me smiling right away. Especially when she calls Sherlock Holmes 'Mr. La-di-da boring detective, whoop-de-doo.'

Another huge bonus is the added information at the front of the book. There are maps, floor plans, a glossary and other goodies which allow a reader to visually get everything laid out before the mystery begins--and also as a great aide once the story gets underway. And at the end of the book, there is a list with descriptions of other great detectives, questions to help with class discussions and a nice author interview.

Amanda is a girl with lots of spunk, tenacity, and won't take no for an answer. . .unless it's her parents. Even when she's forbidden to follow her hobby (film-making) and shipped off to some detective school in the UK, she manages to make it all shift in her direction. She's easily distracted and, at times, a little bit scattered brained, but it makes her that much more lovable.

I really enjoyed the fact that the mystery takes place in a 'detective' school. In some ways, it reminded me of the famous Hogwarts (4 different houses, unexpected things around every corner), which made the story that much more endearing. There's lots of fun little details here and there, but there's never an overload on descriptions either. It's just enough at the right times.

As to the story itself, it's a wonderful mystery which is perfect for kids around ten to fourteen years old. Amanda and her friends aren't out to find trouble, but rather notice that something is up bit by bit. This allows the tension to build, while the layers of secrets slowly come to light. It's unpredictable, full of surprises and seasoned with just the right amount of humor.

Summed up, this is a great story which is sure to catch young mystery lovers' attention, and I can only recommend it.




And here she is. . .
PAULA BERINSTEIN!!!


Paula Berinstein is nothing like Amanda. For one thing, she’s crazy about Sherlock Holmes. For another, she’s never wanted to be a filmmaker. In addition, compared to Amanda she’s a big chicken! And she wouldn’t mind going to a secret school at all. In fact, she’s hoping that some day she’ll get to build one.


You can find more about her at. . .

Paula's blog on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/969582.Paula_Berinstein/blog
Paula's Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/969582.Paula_Berinstein Amanda Lester's Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/AmandaLesterDetective
Paula's Twitter account: @pberinstein
The Amanda Lester, Detective Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AmandaLesterDetective
Website: http://amandalester.net/



Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: At the Sharp End of Lightning by N.R. Bates with Giveaway




AT THE SHARP END OF LIGHTNING
Oceanlight, Book 1
by N.R. Bates
444 pages








AT THE SHARP END OF LIGHTNING. The interwoven fantastical tale of family, of loss and sacrifice, of unexpected gifts and coping with disability and new abilities set against the backdrop of climate change occurring across parallel worlds. In Oceanlight, Yalara Narika, a winged Sea Sprite, searches for her lover over immense seas only to find catastrophe and realization that her world is in turmoil.

Meanwhile in the safe suburban normality of North Wales, Einion Morgan Alban, a restless youth afflicted by a disease of the blood, is nearly murdered by a man in a white suit. Yalara and Einion must discover the causes of their near-deaths and their as yet unrevealed connections as they both face upheaval to their lives and their worlds.





MY TIDBITS


This is a fantasy/science fiction novel which weaves between three very different worlds and does an amazing job delving the reader into each single one.

The story mainly centers around three characters: a sea sprite, who we meet as she searches for her lover but finds a destroyed village instead, a forest sprite who can travel to the human world and is on a secret mission, and a human from 1977 North Wales who discovers the forest Sprite's entrance (the thinness) and travels through time. This weave of time travel and fantasy was one of my more favorite parts.

This isn't a story built on action but world building. It isn't hard to guess that the author is an oceanographer as he goes in beautiful details, bringing things to life which might normally be looked over. Although I found the descriptions amazing, I'll admit that, for me, it was a bit much (I tend to like stories with more plot and action.) But still, there is definitely an art to this which shouldn't be overlooked.

The characters are interesting and easy to like. There were moments, I wished I would have had a better grip on their thoughts and intentions, but in general, they are well-rounded and engaging.

This wasn't an easy read. Especially the terminology made the beginning a little difficult to get into. Luckily, there is a glossary at the end to help out, and as one gets deeper into the book and accustom to the worlds, the entire story flows better. Since this centers more on world building than plot, it took awhile before it became clear where all the characters and worlds were heading. Even by the end of the book, nothing is really solved and tons of questions remain unanswered. But being the first in a series, I'll just say that this is definitely not a stand alone. Rather, it's a beautiful introduction to several worlds, which will (hopefully) deliver an amazing tale in the rest of the series.


And here he is. . .
NR BATES!!!





NR Bates was born in London, grew up in Wales, and lived in Canada and Bermuda. He shares his life with his wife and his house with seven cats, one dog and the subtropical wildlife of lizards, wolf spiders and ant colonies that seek out a better life indoors.

He is an oceanographer and scientist, and has published more than one hundred and thirty scientific papers on ocean chemistry, climate change and ocean acidification. He is a Senior Scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and Professor of Ocean Biogeochemistry at the University of Southampton, UK.

​His novels focus on epic fantasy and magic realism, and inspired by his deep love of the ocean and environmental sciences. He has also recently published a small book of short-stories set in Paris, entitled “The Fall of Icarus (The Elevator, The Fall of Icarus, and The Girl)”.

Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Facebook


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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Excerpt: Elementals The Prophecy of Shadows by Michelle Madow with Giveaway





The Prophecy of Shadows

by Michelle Madow
(Elementals #1)
 Dreamscape Publishing
January 26th 2016
YA Urban Fantasy







Filled with magic, thrilling adventure, and sweet romance, Elementals is the first in a new series that fans of Percy Jackson and The Secret Circle will love!

When Nicole Cassidy moves from sunny Georgia to gloomy New England, the last thing she expects is to learn that her homeroom is a cover for a secret coven of witches. Even more surprisingly … she’s apparently a witch herself. Despite doubts about her newfound abilities, Nicole is welcomed into this ancient circle of witches and is bedazzled by their powers–and, to her dismay, by Blake–the school’s notorious bad-boy.
Girls who get close to Blake wind up hurt. His girlfriend Danielle will do anything to keep them away, even if she must resort to using dark magic. But the chemistry between Blake and Nicole is undeniable, and despite wanting to protect Nicole from Danielle’s wrath, he finds it impossible to keep his distance.
When the Olympian Comet shoots through the sky for the first time in three thousand years, Nicole, Blake, Danielle, and two others in their homeroom are gifted with mysterious powers. But the comet has another effect–it opens the portal to the prison world that has contained the Titans for centuries. After an ancient monster escapes and attacks Nicole and Blake, it’s up to them and the others to follow the clues from a cryptic prophecy so that they can save their town … and possibly the world.


BOOK BUZZ!

“Elementals is going to blow your mind!”
-Crossroad Reviews, ★★★★★
“Five glittery stars for being such a compelling read!”
-Andrea Heltsley, Goodreads Reviewer ★★★★★
“A perfect mixture of magic and mythology. An entrancing story of trust, friendship and well naughty boys. WITCHES are not the only thing walking the earth!”
– BenjaminOfTomes, BookTuber ★★★★★


EXCERPT

Everyone stared at me, and I looked to the front of the room, where a tall, lanky man in a tweed suit stood next to a blackboard covered with the morning announcements. His gray hair shined under the light, and his wrinkled skin and warm smile reminded me more of a grandfather than a teacher.
He cleared his throat and rolled a piece of chalk in his palm. “You must be Nicole Cassidy,” he said.
“Yeah.” I nodded and looked around at the other students. There were about thirty of them, and there seemed to be an invisible line going down the middle of the room, dividing them in half. The students near the door wore jeans and sweatshirts, but the ones closer to the wall looked like they were dressed for a fashion show instead of school.
“It’s nice to meet you Nicole.” The teacher sounded sincere, like he was meeting a new friend instead of a student. “Welcome to our homeroom. I’m Mr. Faulkner, but please call me Darius.” He turned to the chalkboard, lifted his hand, and waved it from one side to the other. “You probably weren’t expecting everything to look so normal, but we have to be careful. As I’m sure you know, we can’t risk letting anyone else know what goes on in here.”
Then the board shimmered—like sunlight glimmering off the ocean—and the morning announcements changed into different letters right in front of my eyes.




And here she is. . .
MICHELLE MADOW!!!




Michelle Madow grew up in Baltimore, graduated Rollins College in Orlando, and now lives in Boca Raton, Florida. She wrote her first book in her junior year of college, and has been writing novels since. Some of her favorite things are: reading, pizza, traveling, shopping, time travel, Broadway musicals, and spending time with friends and family. Michelle has toured across America to promote her books and to encourage high school students to embrace reading and writing. Someday, she hopes to travel the world for a year on a cruise ship.
Visit Michelle online at www.michellemadow.com, and be sure to sign up for her newsletter and follow her on Amazon to get instant updates on her books!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Be Careful What You Witch For by Thomas Hoobler



Title: Be Careful What You Witch For 
Author: Thomas Hoobler 













Magic is a tricky thing. Especially when it comes from an ancient book of spells that jumps off a shelf into Olivia’s hands. Bad news for the popular girls in her new school who don’t like Olivia. But hey–now she can get the attention of her crush who’s more interested in comic book superheroes. And when she finds out her aunt is a witch, she imagines all her problems are solved. Unfortunately, not quite–what she conjures up is trouble. And the only one who can help her is an 800-year-old woman.
















Thomas Hoobler has written nearly 100 books with his wife Dorothy, and some more by himself. The Hooblers are the co-authors of the Samurai Detective Series, which tells the adventures of a boy in 18th century Japan who helps his samurai father solve mysteries. The third book in the series, IN DARKNESS, DEATH, won an Edgar as the Best YA mystery of 2004. The Washington Post also chose the book as one of the Best Children's books of that year. Tom won $500,000 on the quiz show WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE, making it easier for the Hooblers to follow their career. They have written history for children, young adults, and adults.




Facebook: Twitter: @tw_hoobler




Monday, January 25, 2016

Review: Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve in Tiger Trouble by Grant Goodman


AGENT DARCY AND NINJA STEVE IN TIGER TROUBLE!
by Grant Goodman
Middle Grade Fiction 
ages 8+
196 pages






SECRET MISSIONS. SPIN KICKS. SINISTER GHOSTS.

Thirteen year-old Agent Darcy is one of the top students at the Bureau of Sneakery, where there are three rules every agent must follow: never make friends with an outsider, never speak of the Bureau, and never reveal your real name. Lately, Darcy has hit a rough patch: her rival, Agent Serena, keeps outdoing her. If things keep going this way, Darcy is convinced that no one will ever assign her a real mission.

Ninja Steve's city, Ninjastoria, is the home of sword fights, throwing stars, and Tae Kwon Donuts. Unlike his genius older sister, twelve year-old Steve isn't the best ninja student. He'd rather be swinging a sword instead of taking notes in class. Steve, however, is about to learn that being a true ninja means far more than being able to use a sword.

When Darcy is sent to Ninjastoria as an exchange student, it will turn both of their lives upside-down and raise all kinds of questions:

What do the mecha-moles want? Who is the man in the gray mask? What do ninjas eat for lunch? And why is there a menacing tiger on the cover of this book?


Time to read and find out!







MY TIDBITS

The second I read the blurb on this one, I knew I had to read it. Ninjas and secret agents....it had to be good! And it was.

This is written in two perspectives, Ninja Steve and Agent Darcy, and starts off with a glance into each of their lives. And it is priceless. This isn't a realistic story but rather runs full tilt into a world of fun. Ninja Steve's family is comprised of. . .(guess this one). . .Ninjas! They walk on the ceiling, flip and spin through the air at will, wear black all of the time and have birthday parties I'd never want to experience. And the agents. . .well, they are as strict and agent centered as is to be expected (I can't get the Mission Impossible music out of my head whenever I think of Darcy.)

I really enjoyed the glance into each ones background before they meet and the plot thickens. Steve and Darcy come from very different worlds, and the expectations placed on them are different as well. By gaining this separate look at both of them, it was very clear why each reacts the way they do when things start running out of control.

The descriptions in this book are fantastic. It's never too much but enough to make it play like an action movie before your eyes. There are little oddities here and there which had me smiling the entire way through. It's an amazing world kids (and even I as an adult) will love to dive into.

Where agents and ninjas are involved, there's going to be tons of action. Even at school, Ninja Steve and Agent Darcy are constantly faced with the unexpected. But that's exactly what one would expect from characters like this. Especially reluctant readers will find it easy to get caught up into the story...and at a length of under 200 pages, they won't be scared away by the size.

Of course, there's also a lot of heart in this story. Friendship plays a huge role as well as learning to work with others. Trust is another big one. Not only do they have to trust each other but also their own skills. These messages are never screamed out, but the relationship between Steve and Darcy naturally brings them to light. It's a great friendship, one I hope to see more of in the future.

Summed up, this is a terrific read for middle graders--girls and boys alike. The characters are simply tons of fun as is the world they live in. There's action, heart-filled moments, tension and humor. Simply said, it's a crazy ninja/agent ride.





And here he is. . .
GRANT GOODMAN!!!



Grant Goodman teaches middle school English in Montgomery County, Maryland.

He is fueled by Ray Bradbury stories, spicy curry, and 9:30 Club concerts.

Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve in...Tiger Trouble! is his debut novel.




Social Media:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1238479.Grant_Goodman

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Excerpt: Dora's Jinx by Boom Baumgartner with Giveaway




DORA'S JINX
by Boom Baumgartner
Untold Press, LLC
YA Urban Fantasy
242 pages






Dora Behn might as well have been born invisible. She could wear bright colors and dance the Macarena in the middle of class without so much as a glance. It’s not that she's antisocial, just no one other than her family seems to even notice she’s there. This would naturally put a damper on her romantic life… If she had one to begin with. 
Everything changes on her sixteenth birthday when a talking cat appears and tells her she is a witch. For Dora, nothing could be worse. No one dated crazy cat ladies! 
Things go from bad to worse when the other witches’ familiars go missing, including her aunt’s. Dora’s magic may be the only thing that can prevent the total destruction of the sleepy town of Kinderhook. But to save her friends and family, Dora must learn to embrace who and what she is. She just needs to figure out what that means. 








EXCERPT

Dora's foot tapped against the yellow linoleum floor, her eyes moving back and forth between the clock and the calendar. The two stood in a stubborn standoff to see which could move the slowest.
The seconds ticked in an agonizingly slow rhythm. On the down beats, she looked at the calendar, the birthdays of all the students in Madame Djoat's class scrawled in each block. Dora's name was added with a different color pen as if it were an afterthought. Well, Dora's French name, Donatienne, was added in with a different color pen, in any case.
Since the beginning of school she'd watched Madame Djoat cross off each day on the calendar, and sing "Bon Anniversaire" to each and every student, eager to have her turn. As her birthday drew nearer, she found it harder and harder to pay attention in class. She had already failed one pop quiz on the masculine and feminine articles for vegetables, and she wasn't listening at all while they memorized the articles for fruits.
"Stephen! Quel est l'article correct pour ananas?" Madame Djoat pointed to the right side of the classroom.
Next to Dora, Steve jumped as he shoved his arm across his notebook, covering up a drawing of stick figures jumping off cliffs with his elbow. Apparently Dora wasn't the only one fantasizing about other things in French class.
"Um, what?" Steven swallowed audibly.
Madame Djoat stomped her foot. "Stephen! Quel est l'article correct pour ananas?"
"I, uh… I don't…"
Finally, she translated. "What's the correct article for pineapple?"
"Um, I don't know."
"En français." She crossed her arms.
"Oh, er, je ne sais pas." Steve scratched the back of his head and looked over to his friends for help. The other two boys kept their eyes resolutely on their desks. Breath hitched in Dora's throat as a thought occurred to her. If she diverted attention off him, maybe he'd notice her.
Shakily, Dora raised her hand. Sweat beaded on her neck, and her heart beat hard against her chest. Maybe he'd be so grateful he'd ask her on a date.
But Madame Djoat moved on. "Ça, Josephine. Connaissez-vous l'article? La ou le?"
Frowning, Dora put her hand down. She shouldn't have been surprised Madame Djoat ignored her. As far as the school–no, the entire town of Kinderbook–was concerned, she was a witch, and even if she wasn't one now, she was going to be one eventually.
Used to it, Dora shrugged it off. It would be different soon. When they sang "Bon Anniversaire," Madame Djoat would ask "Quel âge as tu?" and Dora would proudly say, "Seize."
Or at least, she thought it was seize. She quickly flipped to the back of her textbook in the dictionary section and looked for the word "sixteen." She was right. Seize.
No one ever became a witch after sixteen.
"Madame Djoat," a loud voice echoed around the room.
Dora whipped around to look over at Melanie Haan, the actual witch of Kinderbook High. Her right arm was waving in the air.
The rest of the class lazily turned their heads toward the speaker while Madame Djoat glanced up and down the lines of desks, trying to find who spoke. Melanie wore a bright pink sundress with fluorescent purple stockings and pink Chucks. It was impossible to miss the girl, yet it took a few moments for Madame Djoat to see her.
"Yes…" Madame Djoat went over to her desk and glanced at the clipboard with their seating charts, her finger trailing down the row. "Oui, Joan."
Melanie's French name, Joan, seemed a little bit strange. Wasn't the image of Joan burning at the stake precisely the sort of association Melanie would want to avoid, seeing as she was actually a witch?
"I know the answer," Melanie said. "I mean, je connais le response. It's le. I mean, c'est le."
"Bon. Correct," Madame Djoat affirmed briskly. Then she moved on to the next fruit. "Next! Pomme!"
About the time pomegranate came up, Dora zoned out again. Melanie reminded her of what it was like to be a witch. It was hard to get anyone's attention at all; something Dora's aunt had said had to do with a natural defense mechanism.
People treated Dora as if she were microscopic–there, but not worth noting–because they thought she also might be a witch. After all, it ran in the family. Even her mother was surprised that two days before her sixteenth birthday a cat still hadn't shown up.
After all, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a witch must have a familiar, and that the familiar be a cat. The fact that a cat hadn't appeared meant that Dora wouldn't end up a spinster cat lady like her Aunt Pamelia, or her Great-Aunt Calixta.
The class would not be singing "Bon Anniversaire" until the end of the period, and Dora contented herself with daydreams about Steve. In them, his confused expression would turn to her, suddenly have purpose, and he would grin at her like she had seen him do with other girls in the hallway. After her birthday, maybe he would ask her out.
Sure, he hadn't said more than two words to her since elementary school, but Dora dared to dream.
If Steve didn't ask, maybe someone like John or David would. Neither of them had really spoken to her either, but Dora was confident that once suspicion of her latent witchdom dispersed, she would be able to catch one of their eyes.
She dreamed up dates in nature parks and laughing at clothing on mannequins at the shopping mall. Then she dreamed up castles and dragons, putting different faces on the prince, until Madame Djoat projected the lyrics to "Bon Anniversaire" on the screen and commanded everyone to sing.
Dora grinned, and sat up straight. Sure, her birthday was actually Sunday, but still, they were going to sing to her, and as far as they cared, it would be her birthday. Oh, and Steve's. But she didn't really care about his birthday. Not right now, anyway. She would worry about it if they started dating.
"Bon Anniversaire, nos vœux les plus sincères…" the class sang.
When they finished singing, Madame Djoat smiled and looked at Steve. "Stephen! Quel âge as tu?"
"Um, sixteen. I mean, seize."
"Bon Anniversaire!"
"Thanks, I mean, merci."
"All right, class! À demain! No homework this weekend!"
Dora sat at her desk, shocked, her big moment disappearing like a bubble being popped. The rest of the class shuffled around her, putting their things away in their bags and laughing as they went out into the hallway.
When everyone had left, and Madame Djoat started prepping the room for the next class, Dora slowly put her stuff away. Leaning over to shove a book in her backpack, something bright pink caught her attention. She closed her eyes, and opened them again. The bright pink hovered in her periphery.
"Hey, Dora." Dora looked up to see Melanie smiling at her. "Bon anniversaire."
Weakly, Dora smiled, trying not to meet Melanie's eyes. "Yeah, um…thanks." Then she crammed the last of her things in her bag and escaped. Of all the people to notice her, it just had to be the witch of Kinderbook High.


And here she is. . .
BOOM BAUMGARTNER!!!



Influenced from a young age by greats like David Bowie, Boom likes to add a little bit of glam to everything she does, from playing the ukulele to writing novels. When she’s not turning out stories about witchcraft and werewolves, she is a staff writer for ScienceFiction.com. You can find her other musings at LovingTheAlien.net

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