Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fire Country Birthday Bash and Giveaway

Today, Fire Country by David Estes turns one year old. In the first year since Fire Country was born, so much has happened. David signed with an agent, sold more than 10,000 books, wrote five more books and published a further three). He knew he just had to celebrate and he'd love for you to be a part of it! David owes so much of his support to the blogger community, and he wants everyone to have the chance to be a part of the Fire Country Birthday Bash.
Everyone goes home a winner, simply follow the prompts below and swipe your eCopy of Fire Country from Smashwords. Read and leave a review on Amazon if you enjoyed it. Feel free to share the code with your friends, family, neighbours and literary inclined pets.

Coupon Code: WH62C
Expiration: March 1, 2014

What's a party without prizes? Yes, David is not only giving everyone a chance to download their own copy of Fire Country, book one in the Country Saga for free, but he's also giving you stuff too. You could win an Amazon giftcard open internationally, U.S residents can win a signed copy of the David Estes book of your choice, or a handful of David Estes eBooks of your choice. Awesome.

Visit David via his Blog  Facebook • Twitter and via Goodreads
Pay Perry the Prickler a visit on Twitter and Goodreads

Monday, February 24, 2014

Freebee Announcement: Fearless is free February 24-28 on Amazon

FearlessFearless by Patricia Hamill

Fearless, a survivor's account of the zombie apocalypse, is scheduled to be free from February 24-28 on Amazon. If you've been waiting to pick up a copy, now's your chance.

If you've read my other works, you'll find this one quite different: a bit darker, sometimes scary, and a bit more mature. I hope you enjoy it.

If you pick up a copy and want to share your impressions of it, please leave a review to let others know what you thought. Reviews are the most valuable way to get the word out, especially for an indie author like myself.

Fetch a copy at the Amazon of your choice will the promo is live:
US:   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HLUI83S
UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HLUI83S
Canada:  https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00HLUI83S
Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00HLUI83S

Happy reading!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Middle Grade Fantasy Review: The Quest of Galamar (Storyteller #2) by Lisa Cresswell

The Quest of Galamar(Storyteller, #2)The Quest of Galamar by Lisa Cresswell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Turning out to be quite a fairy tale.

The Quest of Galamar picks up where Storyteller left off. Lily, Peter and Heather are now trapped in the True World, a place torn by the onslaught of Formorian invaders, spirit creatures from another realm that steal the bodies of creatures and people alike, using them until they decay beyond help. And they have Lily's grandmother. As Lily learns more and more of Galamar and his quest to steal the powers of the four portal keepers, it becomes apparent that Lily is following in his footsteps, and not by chance. A prophecy tells of one who will complete his quest and turn back time. Unlike many sequels or middle books, this one doesn't lose steam. If anything the danger and the stakes are even higher.

Like the first in the series, The Quest of Galamar is well-written and fresh. There is some kissing, but nothing a middle schooler shouldn't read about, pretty tame. We learn a great deal more about the enemies and history of the fairy tale world the heroes are in, and through it all, there's never a dull moment. I enjoyed how Heather is developed in this story, though I wasn't sure what to think of Jude when he joined the team.

My favorite parts of the book were when Lily was reading about Galamar. Strangely enough, these were also the source of my biggest beef with the story. Lily would be interupted by her companions or "real life" right in the middle of a tale and never seemed to get back to the same story. I guess it bugged me because I like to read stories from start to finish, while Lily seems to be a bit of a browser, reading this or that on a whim. But, the snippets we do get of the history of Galamar are quite good, and I was always happy to see another one start, even knowing I probably wouldn't get the whole story.

Overall, this is another fine installment in the Storyteller series. Those who liked the style and direction the first book was taking will likely enjoy this one, too. I recommend reading them in order and having all three books in your possession before you start, because you won't want to stop once you get going.

I was lucky to have won a copy of all three books in the series in a contest.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Middle Grade Fantasy Review: Storyteller by Lisa Cresswell

StorytellerStoryteller by Lisa Cresswell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Exciting and magical.

Storyteller is the first book of the Storyteller series. The hero is Lily Lightfoot, a middleschooler with a not-so-secret ability to tell stories that come true. Rather than getting her ahead and making her well-liked, the disasterous outcomes of some of her stories have made her somewhat of a social outcast, leaving her with only one friend, Peter. The story opens with Lily letting her rivalry with former friend, Heather, get the best of her and retaliating with one of her stories.

Now, this plot would be pretty good if this were a story about Lily trying to get a handle on her ability and perhaps earning the peer friendships that it has cost her, but this story is much more than that. When Lily finds a strange book in an abandoned house, she begins to suspect there's more to her history than her Gran is telling her. Soon, she, Peter and Heather find themselves caught up in a struggle for survival against a shapeshifting monster, an evil king, and his minions.

This story blew me away. As a middle grade story, it's a success with plenty of social strife and a little innocent romance. But what really gets me is the world building, the fantasy and the adventure. Plus, there is an element of danger that soon builds into quite a gripping story, nothing at all what I expected in the early chapters. The writing is smooth and easy to read without being simplistic. The plot development is solid, and I really enjoy the unique way Lily learns about her mother.

The character development is also noteworthy. Each person, friend or foe, is unique and believable. The good guys aren't perfect and the bad guys are scary, but not invincible.

Overall I loved this story because it's exciting and reminds me of The Neverending Story.  It's one I know I'll read again and again.  I recommend this to young and old, anyone who loves fantasy and modern fairy tales.

I was lucky enough to win all three books in this series in a contest.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Humorous Fiction Review: Delilah Dusticle's Transylvanian Adventure by A.J. York

Delilah Dusticle's Transylvanian Adventure (Delilah Dusticle, #2)Delilah Dusticle's Transylvanian Adventure by A.J. York
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Delightful, lighthearted and funny.

Delilah the dust eradicator is back, and she's received a mysterious invitation from none other than Count W. Dracula. He's getting ready for a big party and neads her team to prepare the castle for his guests. But, when she and her assistants arrive, they're in for a surprise.

Book 2 in this series is fantastic. Where book 1 focuses on Delilah's broken heart and how she gets over it, book 2 picks up after she's figured out who she is and is happy with it. Unlike book 1, which focuses on feelings kids may not be familiar with, this story is definitely something kids would get and enjoy.

The characters and creatures in this book are entertaining and humorous. I love the quirky Grumpy Sponge (which I suspect is represented in the author's profile picture), especially when someone makes him angry. The Count is surprising and his efforts to prepare for the party and fit in to what people expect represent one of the main themes of this book. And, of course, Delilah's special abilities pull everything together.

Unlike the first book where the struggle was mainly internal to Delilah, this one introduces a villain or two and adds an element of danger. These things add to the excitement and make book 2 a page turner. I wish I could say more, but I don't want to spoil any of the book's surprises.

Finally, there are illustrations. I must say that almost every one I came across made me chuckle (or outright laugh) and they all fit perfectly into the part of the story they portray. I still want to know what the ? setting on the elevator does. The illustrator does a fine job of enhancing the story without distracting from it. Also, the pictures show up well on my tablet.

I do have a concern that the "handwritten notes" may not be quite readable on smaller devices or those that do not display illustrations. The notes are pictures, so they cannot be adjusted to the font size the reader prefers. I use a tablet and the longer notes displayed text smaller than the size I was using. Also, if I had been using my Kindle, I'm not certain they would have appeared at all, so I wouldn't have learned the contents of any of the Count's messages. My kindle is a bit of the cheapest one available. Still, on my tablet, they all displayed fine. I'm just concerned that not all readers would be able to see them, and they would be missing out on some important information. The notes, in my opinion, are vital to the storyline.

Overall, I absolutely loved this story. It's fantastic and magical, humorous and whimsical. The characters, major and minor, are entertaining. And the underlying themes of learning to be yourself and love what you have instead of what others have are admirably wrought. I would highly recommend this story to anyone, young or old, who likes a lot of humor, a little mystery, and a bit of magic.

I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest, non-reciprocal review.

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Links of interest:
Website: www.ajyork.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/delilahdusticle
Twitter: @delilahdusticle
Illustrator website : http://www.gavinchilds.com

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review: Delilah Dusticle by A.J. York

Delilah Dusticle (Delilah Dusticle, #1)Delilah Dusticle by A.J. York
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A charming story with a positive message.

Delilah Dusticle has a special gift: she can magically eradicate dust with uncanny ease. Her skills are much sought after, but she remains steadfastly loyal to her employers, the Fenchurch-Whittingtons, not because the offers she receives aren't attractive, but because she has a crush on their son, Charlie. With a light heart and her dust destroying skills in full bloom, Delilah revels in the occassional smile or admiring comment. However, her world and her abilities are shattered when Charlie comes home from a business trip with a new fiance in tow.

This story, while short, packs a powerful message of friendship, self-worth, and looking for the good in what you have. Delilah wears her heart on her sleeve, literally, as when she's down and doubting herself her powers backfire and coat her and everthing around her with dust. An unlikely friendship and the insight it brings finally bring her out of her cloud and back into the spotless sunshine and help her to realize that she has something to offer and that feeling sorry for herself won't get her anywhere.

The book is well written and the plot leaves no loose ends. The message is solid and the delivery is delightful. It slightly reminds me of Mary Poppins, where the ordinary servant has extraordinary powers, but in this case, Delilah comes off as more real than fantasy.

Overall, I really liked this book and recommend it to those who like a quick, positive read with a little humor and magic mixed in. I think this story would appeal mostly to adults because they are more likely to empathize with Delilah, but it is appropriate for a younger audience as well.

I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest, non-reciprocal review.

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 Links of interest:
Website: www.ajyork.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/delilahdusticle
Twitter: @delilahdusticle Illustrator website : http://www.gavinchilds.com

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Science Fiction/Fantasy Review: Book Two: Roc by Rustin Petrae

Book Two: Roc (Histories of Purga #2)Book Two: Roc by Rustin Petrae
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic continuation of the Histories of Purga series.

Book Two picks up some time after Keiara's transformation at the end of Book One. Rone, along with Asher and Fowler, are working their way up the side of a mountain and fighting a losing battle against the elements. But something tells Rone that he'll find Keiara at the top, so he pushes them to keep moving.

Meanwhile, Wilhelm's army of Blak soldiers has tracked down Rone's father, the king of Roanoke. Rone's friends, Darvian and Fiona, fight for him on the Island of Edaeri, and like Rone, they face the very real possibility that they won't make it out alive.

Fantasy and science fiction flow together naturally in Purga, complementing and contrasting in interesting ways, one of the characteristics I most enjoy about this series. The Rooks' nanobots can be formed into pretty much anything mechanical and can even be used to mend wounds, but they can't stand up to the insidious force called Blak. The Terraquois people can transform into animals and some can even control the forces of nature, but they too are helpless against the wave of evil that has been gathered against them. But there is hope. A long kept secret passed down through generations of Callers holds the key for destroying Blak and saving Purga from its clutches.

This story is jam packed with action, tension, and danger. The characters and the story flow naturally from where Book One: Dragon leaves off and set up for Book Three: Basilisk without leaving you hanging too badly. As in the previous book, the battlefields, the exotic locations, and the people are described with an attention to detail that brings them to life without overdoing it.

As for the quality of this book, I say it's excellent. The writing is smooth and well edited. The plot is well-developed and gripping. And the story comes to life in a very satisfying way.

I love this book and can't wait for Book Three: Basilisk. Although I usually avoid reading the "next book" excerpts at the end of stories, I found I could not resist reading the one at the end of this one. Looks just as exciting.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book and the series in general to fans of sci fi with a touch of fantasy mixed in (or vice versa).

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mystery Review: Debbie Valentine, Rookie Caterer by T.G. Davis

Debbie Valentine, Rookie CatererDebbie Valentine, Rookie Caterer by T.G. Davis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A good story. I like it.

Debbie Valentine is an entrepeneur who's just started off a new business venture as caterer. The story opens during her second catering job. There's a little scenario where her friend gets in trouble in a humorous way and Debbie comes to the rescue, but once she leaves the club for home, that's the last we see of her catering. From then on, the story focuses on the boisterous group of people staying at her Aunt Jill's bed and breakfast.

On a lark, they invite Debbie into their game of Truth or Dare, and soon Debbie picks up on the darker side of the group dynamics. The next day starts off fine with all the partiers sleeping it off, but it doesn't last. Soon, Debbie has a real mystery to solve and a murderer to identify. This should have been titled Debbie Valentine, Rookie Sleuth.

This is the second T.G. Davis mini-mystery I've read, and I must say, the author's writing and plotting have tightened up quite nicely. The characters in Debbie Valentine are similar to those in Annie Banner, but I think that this story has a much more believable plot and outcome. I like how Debbie's family, like Annie's in the other story, provides comic relief. Her mom, in particular, is rather quirky in a good way, and her Aunt Jill is one tough lady, both fearless and capable when it counts.

That being said, the story is a bit information heavy for the characters with a walk-on role, and the ladies of the Valentine clan seem to have dated everyone they do business with or encounter with the exception of the wedding party staying at the bed and breakfast. I would have preferred one- or two-liner introductions instead of one to two paragraph intros for those who only appear to say "way to go" or are merely mentioned in passing and then are never again seen again. I also got a little lost with all the rapid fire introductions for the wedding partiers. Still, the overall story is tightly drawn and the plot is solid.

I liked this story and would recommend it to those who like a quick read, a little humor, and some amatuer sleuthing gone right.

I received a free copy of this ebook in return for an honest, non-reciprocal review.

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

YA Ninja Fantasy Review: Shinobi 7 by L. Benitez

Shinobi 7: Trials of a Warrior (#1)Shinobi 7: Trials of a Warrior by L. Benitez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fresh style, lot's of humor, and ninjas-in-training.

Shinobi 7: Trials of a Warrior introduces six young ninjas in training in a setting similar to feudal Japan. The story, excluding the prologue, starts with Cassie, a gentle, non-violent sort, who is traveling to the training school of the Kitsune Clan, the only one that has yet survived the violent takeover of the evil Blackthorne Clan. On the road, she meets Hanran, a quiet boy with a secret, Yami and Luna, siblings who can't wait to be awesome ninjas, and Tabby, a girl who loves sugar. Following Cassie's map, the five soon reach the Kitsune school and along with others who have also just arrived, are welcomed into the school and assigned to Sector 7, where they meet Kuroi, an arrogant young man who has been the lone member of Sector 7 for quite some time and is not happy about having to welcome fresh meat.

Right away, I picked up on the youthful undertones of the book, mostly from Cassie's thoughts and reactions coupled with the teenager slang that comes through them. I didn't realize until later that this unique and appealing flavor was only one of several different perspectives I would enjoy as I read this book. Multiple viewpoints sometimes get a little hard to track, but in this book, the author does a fantastic job keeping them straight. Each one, down to their thoughts and mannerisms, is utterly unique and perfectly consistent throughout the story, and the viewpoints are used to move the story along as well as provide backstory and entertainment value.

Besides the young people in training, the seasoned teachers in the school are also featured in various scenes, particularly Akira, the young woman who is featured in the prologue. She and the other masters have the burden of dealing with their own fears and training the new recruits enough for them to survive an attack from the Blackthorne Clan. They also have a secret to protect.

As for the bad guys, they are pretty scary. Their bloodthirsty battle lust coupled with supernatural strength and powers obtained by linking with evil spirits make them a devastating force. Of the original 13 secret clans mentioned early in the book, only Kitsune Clan remains intact. The leaders of the Blackthorne Clan are sinister. Black Rose, a beautiful geisha, and Rengoku, a fierce warrior, lead the Clan and have their eyes set on ruling the entire world. They need only a mystical gem rumored to be held by Kitsune Golden Tail, the leader of the Kitsune Clan.

As for favorite characters, it's hard to narrow them down. I enjoyed all of the different perspectives. However, if I had to pick one, I'd say Luna is my favorite. She is utterly fearless, exuberant, and a force to be reckoned with, and she's only 8 years old, the youngest in Sector 7.

As a ninja, martial arts story, I must say that the level of detail regarding the martial arts, war and Japanese customs and terminology seem pretty extensive without being overbearing. I learned terms for a few new weapons, enjoyed the well choreographed fight scenes and battles, and the missions (both training and real). Each encounter packs a lot of action and excitement.

However, some of the training scenarios are a little unlikely. For example, I don't think it would be physically possible to come in off the street and complete 500 pushups as a raw recruit, even if you passed out, took and nap and came back to finish them when you woke up. I also noticed a couple of distance and proportion idiosyncracies. One time, the students are running in a field within the walled Kitsune Clan grounds and the field is described as being ten miles long. Sure, the school is described as enormous, but why would it need ten full miles of grassland for running within its walls where maybe one would do the trick. I used to run two to three miles at a time and picturing how far that was and applying it to the field in the school grounds just boggles my mind.

Overall, I recommend this book to martial arts enthusiasts who enjoy a youthful perspective, lots of action, and a good measure of humor. This is definitely worth reading (perhaps even multiple times).

I received a free copy of this ebook in return for an honest, non-reciprocal review.

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