Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Childrens Book Review: Millie Hardiman and the Red Parrot Fever by Eddie Owens

Millie Hardiman and the Red Parrot Fever
by Eddie Owens

Released: July 24, 2016
Millie Hardiman is a thirteen-year-old from Bognor Regis, with a wild imagination, who dreams of becoming a writer.

When Millie’s scriptwriter Dad, Barry, has writer’s block, Millie becomes his muse for the daytime television soap, Double Top.

After her success on Double Top, Millie creates a Sci-Fi, teen drama, The Adventures of Martian Girl.

Millie falls in love for the first time with Wolf Van Der Beek, an arrogant, South African child actor.

This is a story about friendship, first love and growing up.

My Review:
Millie Hardiman and the Red Parrot Fever almost sounds like a mystery novel, based on the title, but it’s more of a humorous coming of age story. Millie’s a kid with an over-the-top imagination and a knack for convincing unwary adults her stories are true. It drives her parents crazy, but when her dad hits a mega writing block at the worst possible time, they make a deal with her that opens the floodgates.

First off, I don’t think the description does this justice. It’s quite a fun read, but it’s more about Millie’s crazy stories both bringing her opportunities and getting her into trouble than about her love story and her budding writing career.

Besides the stuff Millie comes up with, I really enjoyed her growth as she pushes the boundaries and begins to recognize that even a fictional tale can have real consequences. The love story was more of a first crush tale, which I found plausible for kids that age. There are lessons to be learned, but overall, the stories and hijinks make it a quick and entertaining read.

The only thing I didn’t particularly care for was some clunky punctuation in the beginning, mostly odd pauses in the flow of the words that led to a lot of having to reread things. I didn’t notice very much of this near the end of the story, though.

Overall, I really liked this story and would recommend it to middle-schoolers and up who like humor and lots of shenanigans.

I received the review copy of this book from the author.

Book Links:

About the Author:

Well, I didn't find much about the author other than a picture and that he was born in Glasgow. Oh, and this quote of his on his Goodreads profile:

“"I didn't read "The Hunger Games" for ages. I thought it was some poxy book about a TV reality cooking show."

Fat Jimmy

From "Fat Jimmy and the Blind Ballerina" due out Jan 2017 (hopefully)”

Author Links:

Friday, December 23, 2016

Review: Fated Memories by Joan Carney

Joan CarneyFated Memories
by Joan Carney
Genre: Historical Romance/ Time Travel Romance
Age category: Adult
Release Date: April 15, 2016

A woman, a war, a vision of the future past...

Burdened with the scars of a tortured childhood and a shattered romance, Kitty is being forced to resign from the dull, anonymous job she’s been hiding behind. With her life in shambles and her friends moving on without her, she jumps at her cousin, Maggie’s, invitation to visit.

However, Maggie’s new boyfriend, Simon, has a secret that accidentally hurls the trio a hundred and fifty years into the past. Trapped in the midst of the bloodiest war in American history, and acutely aware their actions might trigger a butterfly effect on the future, the events that unfold will require more mettle than Kitty’s ever had.
My Review:
Fated Memories is a fusion of time travel, historical fiction, and romance. The story takes the perspectives of Kitty and her cousin Maggie in turn. Kitty’s just coming out of a bad situation and jumps at the chance to get away and figure things out. Maggie’s trying to prepare for her grandmother’s final days. Simon is intrigued by Maggie, who resembles a woman named Lucy, a remnant of a past life of whom he’s dreamed since childhood. None of them expect to be dropped right in the middle of the American Civil War.

This story focuses less on the time travel and more on how the main characters deal with being dumped into the past with no way home. I really enjoyed the level of detail and the immersion into the life of field nurses in the American Civil War. There’s also a bit of light romance with some interesting twists, particularly when it starts to look like the three are doomed to live out their lives in the past.

I guess the only things I didn’t quite buy were the herbal remedies from one soldier’s wife that very much mimicked modern medicine and the wealthy seamstress who becomes Kitty and Maggie’s benefactor. Both seemed to be rather deus ex machina. Also, the reader knows very early on what causes the time travel, so it can be painful watching the characters consistently overlook that possibility. I mean, it’s really obvious.

Overall I enjoyed this story. It’s immersive and intriguing, and the main characters are likeable and believable. I’d recommend it to folks who enjoy historical fiction, romance, and time travel.

I received the review copy of this book from the author via Lola’s Blog Tours.
You can find Fated Memories on Goodreads

You can buy Fated Memories on Amazon. This book is part of Kindle Unlimited.

Joan CarneyAbout the Author:
A transplant from the concrete sidewalks of New York City to the sunny beaches of Southern California, Ms. Carney enjoys writing stories about women who are strong—whether by nature or circumstance—and the men who love and respect them for who they are. Things that make her happy are rainy days (too much sun is a bore), writing the perfect first line, family get-togethers, reading books that grab her heart, and finding new connections in her genealogy research. Bold coffee and dark chocolate fuel the artistic fire inspired by her family, friends, and psycho, lizard hunting cat.

You can find and contact Joan here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Goodreads

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New Release: Holly Jolly Nothing by Vincent Daniels

Holly Jolly Nothing
by Vincent Daniels

Detroit native Vincent Daniels delivers a hilarious retelling of his absurd childhood as a mixed-race Jehovah's Witness whiz kid in an all-white Catholic-dominated community. Add in some energetic cult conventions, a neighboring halfway house, an unhealthy dinosaur obsession, a couple zealous, quirky parents, and a doozy of an imagination, and you've got one hell of a funny memoir here. This essay-style collection of stories is a great choice for fans of David Sedaris, Jenny Lawson, Allie Brosh, and Justin Halpern.

Daniels' sharp wit, fearless humor, and penchant for shining in even the strangest fiascos keeps his book consistently fun and relatable. In addition to a laugh-out-loud peek into what it's like to be a holiday-avoiding, door-to-door mini preacher, Holly Jolly Nothing sends you on a grandiose trip back to childhood, complete with first crush freak-outs, sleazy after-school jobs, grade school victories and debacles, head-scratchingly odd neighborhood kids, and other coming-of-age awesomeness - all penned with a strong dose of warmth, wonder, and belly laughs.

Don't let the idea of childhood nostalgia fool you though. These stories aren't mild salsa. There's enough spicy adult humor here to set up a lifetime of Judd Apatow movies. And for fans of Daniels' first book, Meaty Balls, don't worry - the author's voice-of-the-people, gleefully-less-than-PC perspective is present on all levels, as is his self-targeting, sincere humor. Daniels' musings are on par with the best Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari, or John Mulaney stand-up comedy. In summary, if you think laughter is the best medicine, don't walk, RUN, to get yourself a copy of Holly Jolly Nothing!

My Thoughts (not a review):
Well, I haven't read this yet, but I plan to buy and read it, and soon. Why? Because Meaty Balls, the first book I read by this author, is my absolutely favorite memoir, ever. I remember reading it in public and laughing out loud anyway. Check out the original review of Meaty Balls here.

This one promises to be just as funny and every bit worth buying for those who want a good laugh based on real, and really funny, events. Not for the easily offended, I'm guessing, based on the other one. 

I happened across Vincent on Facebook some time back, and his posts are just as irreverent and grin inducing. Anyhow, when I saw the new book come out, I sent him a message telling him I'd like to feature his new book and asked if he'd like to share anything personal for the post. Here is what he said:

You're literally too good to be true, Trish! So, first, obviously I appreciate this. Second, I can't think of much to add book-description-wise in addition to the Amazon write-up I "meticulously" crafted a few days ago. A link to my personal Facebook page would be cool though. I'd love more internet friends so I can feel meaningful in our cyber-culture.
As far as a personal message goes, how's this: When I finished Holly Jolly Nothing, I realized the best two things about moving out of my parents house years ago have been: 1) Being able to write just-shy-of-PC, non-PG-rated books that poke fun at religion and rules, because what I write would've never flown in the strict religious household I grew up in, but I'm having an awesome time doing it! And 2) Never having to eat canned green beans again. To even out the list, I'll add that the worst thing I've noticed about moving out is that I'm late for everything without Mom and Dad there to wake me up. And while that may make me sound like a kid, to set the record straight, I'm actually more of a kid-man-robot sentinel.
Also, feel free to add my recommendation that your blog readers can show their appreciation for your kind personality and book reviewing ways by knitting you soft mittens and cozy socks and mailing them to you, perhaps with candy. You can tell them this was solely my idea, not yours. 
Thanks again, Trish! I look forward to seeing the blog!
I like the sound of that cozy socks and mittens thing. Candy couldn't hurt either, lol.

About the Author:
Ok, so one of the things that made me pick up his first book was his over-the-top profile. So, here it is, right from Amazon, the author bio of Vincent Daniels:

Hi, I'm Vincent Daniels, author of Meaty Balls - a collection of essays, expositions, and insightfully elegant potty humor (which I heard you like). It's got like a million chapters (thirty, actually). I also just released a new book titled Holly Jolly Nothing. It's a memoir recounting absurdities from my religiously-stymied childhood along with other awesome coming-of-age stuff. If you have any semblance of a heart, I think you'll dig it. Even some of you heartless A-holes will get a kick out of it too.

If you're asking, "What makes you so special that you get to write hilarious books that I'll love forever?" Here's why: I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness and was out preaching to strangers about Satan's hooves as a nine-year-old. I wasn't allowed to celebrate birthdays or holidays but went to a public school where that stuff made up half the curriculum. Plus all the wonky beliefs and cult conventions are funny, in retrospect. Also, I'm half-Asian, which isn't intrinsically funny in itself, but being the only foreign-looking kid in an all-white hillbilly suburb is funny, also in retrospect. Additionally, I was married into a Puerto Rican family and gained two hundred spicy in-laws who swear enough to make Martin Scorsese blush.

In addition to those balls-out hilarious things about me, I now live in Detroit, which has a large black population and a lot of crime. I'm certainly not insinuating the two are related, I'm simply stating those things because that's what people usually think of when the think of Detroit. Though both are true, I've never been mugged or murdered by anyone black (or any race). Okay, this is coming out all wrong. One of my best friends is actually black! I'm tempted to rewrite this paragraph because it sounds suspicious, but I told myself I'd write this once and not edit it. This is getting wordy, so I'm going to list the other reasons I'm capable of writing a funny book without as much explanation:

5. Starting with "5" because technically there are four "Reasons I'm Funny" written above. I'm going to start a new "Number Five" because this one got ruined by this explanation.

Real 5. After being married to the Puerto Ricans, I got divorced...and divorce is hilarious! (After you've moved on, lost weight, and bought a bigger TV.)

6. I'm an auto-industry stooge who gets paid to design auto parts while actually writing essays in a word processor minimized in the bottom corner of my screen. Don't tell my boss. (That includes you, PC-monitoring IT guy!)

7. I go to dive bars and drink a lot. I look foreign. I'm divorced. I have a black friend. We have sweet hip-hop dance moves. Antics ensue.

8. I'm a part-time musician who plays guitar, writes mushy love songs, and says, "Yeah, I've sold a bunch of MP3s," even though I've only sold ten over the past five years and barely made enough money to buy a combo meal at Taco Bell.

9. I have a gigantic collection of rocks & fossils, comic books, '80s toys, movie memorabilia, weapons (non-functioning replicas), old-school video games, dinosaur books, hockey jerseys, lawn equipment, and button-up shirts that I never wear. The point being, I'm an expert on everything and exceptionally geeky in a sexy and sophisticated way that'll make you feel pretty cool.

So my advice is this: Nab a copy of Holly Jolly Nothing and/or Meaty Balls like the good-for-nothing nabber that you are, and live the remainder of your life, or at least a few measly days, in a cozy, orgasmic reading bliss. Let's cuddle after!                
Author Links:
Twitter @quite_meaty
Goodreads Vincent Daniels
Facebook Page Author Vincent Daniels

Intrigued, pick both up on Amazon!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Fantasy Review: Capering on Glass Bridges (The Hawk of Stone Duology, Book 1) by Jessica Hernandez

Capering on Glass Bridges (The Hawk of Stone Duology, Book 1)
by Jessica Hernandez

Released: August 21, 2016

The Utdrendans have spoken, and everything has changed as a consequence. People normally avoid the fog surrounding the cursed Kingdom of Mar, but now they are asking sixteen-year-old Kaia Stone to venture into it. The Utdrendans implied that there is something special about Kaia. They claimed that she could help free the land; she need only carry out their instructions and deliver a message to the Marian king.

Mar, however, is a land in which dark secrets abound, and many will stop at nothing to ensure that it remains forever cursed. Determined to work against Kaia, unfriendly forces have already begun to gather.

Will Kaia choose to abandon the only life she’s ever known—perhaps indefinitely—in pursuit of the greater good…in pursuit of her purpose?

My Review:
Well, this one was a bit surprising. Capering on Glass Bridges is a fantasy adventure in which Kaia, a young girl, is called upon to deliver a message that could release the country, Mar, from a curse. It starts off heavy on family dynamics, focusing on Kaia’s struggles not to be jealous of her younger sister’s pairing with her new companion, Ree. Then the family is summoned, and the plot broadens.

I like that I wasn’t able to guess the book’s outcome, though there are hints at some of the revelations I just didn’t pick up on the first time through. My first reaction upon putting the book down was, “Crazy!” Of course, I didn’t want to just post that word alone without explanation. I meant crazy as in surprising, I didn’t guess that, and wow.

Anyhow, I also like the stories sprinkled in throughout the book. The one the sisters made up was pretty creepy, and they never did finish it, but I liked it. And the others explained elements of history and culture in the world of the book, but they’re told like proper, complete stories. Nicely done.

The main thing I found difficult in the story was keeping up with all the names. There are a lot of characters, and they’re brought into the story in packs, with a mixture of modern and fantasy names. Once the cast was reduced to a manageable size, it became a lot easier to keep up.

The other thing I found difficult links to there being so many characters. There were a couple of places where I had to flip back in a conversation to retrace who was saying what. Not impossible when it’s only two characters speaking, but there were times this happened with group conversations. There are hints in the things they’re saying, but it was easy to get lost.

Overall, I really liked this story, particularly because it had a surprising outcome. Fans of fantasy quests and adventures will likely enjoy this story.

I received the review copy of this book from the author.

Book Links:

About the Author:

Hello, everyone! My name is Jessica. Pleasure to make your acquaintance. :) Allow me to share a bit about myself with you. I was born and raised in the beautiful, sunny state of Florida. I attended the University of Miami, where I spent more time than I care to admit daydreaming of a faraway land called Acu. Upon graduating with a degree in English and Political Science in 2014, I put pen to paper and brought Acu to life—so was born the Hawk of Stone duology.

Author Links:
Twitter @jessy_marie77

Friday, December 16, 2016

Funny Fantasy Review: Class Dis-Mythed (Myth Adventures #16) by Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye

Class Dis-Mythed  (Myth Adventures #16)
by Robert Asprin, Jody Lynn Nye

After years as a court magician and inter-dimensional hero, Skeeve needed a rest. So he took some time off to study magic and relax. When a few months later several members of the M.Y.T.H. Inc. Team each ask him to train some talented, young magicians in "practical magic" he has to agree. But after the assassins attack and a manticore tries to eat them, the Khlad mage soon discovers that there is more going on than learning. His students are preparing for a very deadly magical game and you won't believe where. Worse yet, the game may be fixed, and the only way to save his students’ lives is for Skeeve to risk his own.

My Review:
Class Dis-Mythed takes us back to Skeeve, who's on a long-term hiatus on his home dimension, Klahd, trying to become the awesome magician everyone thinks he is. But somehow trouble always manages to find him. This time, trouble comes in the form of a random group of young magician wannabes who are looking for instruction from The Great Skeeve in practical magic.

This installment seems to be everything I've always loved about the Myth series. Robert Aspirin and Jodie Lynn Nye wrote it together, and unlike in the last couple of books, their styles seem indistinguishable in this one. The tongue-in-cheek humor, the bit of mystery, the randomness that feeds into a coherent conclusion, all are very well done and a lot of fun.

Overall, I loved this book and got a lot of laughs from it. I'd strongly recommend this to folks who love fantasy and humor, particularly corny humor.

I received this book as a gift from my husband because he knows I'm a fan of the series and we'd both thought no more of these were being written.

About the Authors:

Robert Aspirin
Robert (Lynn) Asprin was born in 1946. While he wrote some stand alone novels such as Cold Cash War, Tambu and The Bug Wars and also the Duncan and Mallory Illustrated stories, Bob is best known for his series fantasy, such as the Myth Adventures of Aahz and Skeeve, the Phule’s Company novels and the Time Scout novels written with Linda Evans. He also edited the groundbreaking Thieves’ World anthology series with Lynn Abbey. Other collaborations include License Invoked (set in the French Quarter of New Orleans) and several Myth Adventures novels, all written with Jody Lynn Nye.

Bob’s final solo work was a contemporary fantasy series called Dragons, again set in New Orleans.

Bob passed away suddenly on May 22, 2008. He is survived by his daughter and son, his mother and his sister.  

Jody Lynn Nye

Jody Lynn Nye lists her main career activity as ‘spoiling cats.’ When not engaged upon this worthy occupation, she writes fantasy and science fiction books and short stories.

Before breaking away from gainful employment to write full time, Jody worked as a file clerk, book-keeper at a small publishing house, freelance journalist and photographer, accounting assistant and costume maker.

For four years, she was on the technical operations staff of a local Chicago television station, WFBN (WGBO), serving the last year as Technical Operations Manager. During her time at WFBN, she was part of the engineering team that built the station, acted as Technical Director during live sports broadcasts, and worked to produce in-house spots and public service announcements.

Over the last twenty or so years, Jody has taught in numerous writing workshops and participated on hundreds of panels covering the subjects of writing and being published at science-fiction conventions. She has also spoken in schools and libraries around the north and northwest suburbs. In 2007 she taught fantasy writing at Columbia College Chicago. She also runs the two-day writers workshop at DragonCon.

Jody lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, with her husband Bill Fawcett, a writer, game designer, military historian and book packager, and a black cat, Jeremy.

You won't find this one on Kindle, but you can probably find a decent mass-market paperback copy on Amazon for a good deal.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fantasy Review: The Horned Scarab (The Investigative Privateers, #1) by Matthew Marchitto

The Horned Scarab (The Investigative Privateers, #1)
by Matthew Marchitto

Ghorad-Gha, once magnificent city of clay and bronze, crumbles. Those prosperous few burden the shoulders of the downtrodden. In a city of forgotten glory, the lawless thrive.

A monk turns up dead, and Arn is determined to find out why. Along with his stone skinned companion, Rohqim, they'll be dragged deep into Ghorad-Gha's underbelly, where the Horned Scarab reigns.

My Review:
The Horned Scarab is a short, private-eye mystery set in a fantasy world. The city of Ghorad-Gha kind of reminded me of Venice, but not quite. Arn and Rohqim are investigative privateers tasked with figuring out why a broken off chunk of statue cost their client’s partner his life.

I liked the characters in the story the best, particularly the idea of the sculpted, stone people, Lodee and Rohqim. They’re fascinating. Who shapes them? It’s obvious they can heal, but I’m left curious about just how much stone they are. Anyhow, they’re neat. I also loved Resa. Her plight and her nature are intriguing. There’s some interesting stuff going on in the city, too, with just the right amount of background and world building.

Then again, it took me a while to get into the mystery because I was having trouble keeping everything straight. It seemed to be thought out and well-written, a good cadence to the words and some really fantastic descriptions that just blossom to life, but it wasn’t until almost the end that I realized why I was having trouble keeping up with the actual storyline: the transitions.

First, there are a lot of them. Also, the scenes seem to jump around like lightning. It’s like you blink and you’re now in someone else’s head or several hours have passed or maybe something’s happening at the same time as the scene you just read, both within the chapters and between them, and unfortunately, it isn’t always clear which of these it is. It’s disorienting. I think a few direct words added to the very beginning of each new scene to orient the reader in time, space, and character would go a long way.

So overall, I liked it. It’s a read folks who enjoy fantasy and mystery might enjoy. I’m hoping some of the jumpiness will be sorted in a future edition, but until then, I’d just say read it when you’re fresh so you don’t miss anything. You’ve got to be paying attention.

I received the review copy of this book from the author.

Book Links:

About the Author:

Matthew has always had an affinity for fantasy, starting with the Redwall series, and then stumbling into the lore of Warcraft. Robert E. Howard, George R.R. Martin, and Brandon Sanderson were the authors that really cemented the love for fantasy. Matthew is partial to anything with a sword and sorcery twist and unique setting.

Author Links:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

New Release and Review: Crisanta Knight: The Severance Game (Crisanta Knight #2) by Geanna Culbertson

Crisanta Knight: The Severance Game (Crisanta Knight #2)
by Geanna Culbertson 

Release Date: December 6, 2016

 A lot of questions ran through my head as I desperately clung to the roof of a magic train crossing over a gaping canyon. Like: How did I get here? What could I have done to avoid this fate? And, did I remember to shave my underarms before coming on this quest? But even after taking on a witch in a gingerbread house, bloodthirsty actors, and a whole mess of magic hunters and other fairytale shenanigans, the biggest, most pressing question pulsing through my brain as my fingers started to slip and my enemy bore down on me was this: Could I really trust the person whose life I’d ruined to keep me from falling? With antagonists closing in, inner demons threatening to consume me, and vivid nightmares chewing up my soul every time I shut my eyes, I was running out of options. I knew the moment to decide whether or not I could truly trust any of my friends was fast approaching. But my head and heart were stuck. For just like the precarious position I now found myself in, the pain of holding onto the path I’d chosen thus far was outmatched only by the worry I had over (gulp) letting it go…

My Review:

Book 2 in the Crisanta Knight series is a lot of fun, but a little darker than book 1.

In it, Crisanta and her band of friends, plus Daniel, are freshly on the run, but heading right into even more danger. And the whole time, Crisanta bears witness to darker and darker dreams involving her friends, herself, her enemies and even the mysterious Natalie Poole.

Action and adventure are huge in this book with rarely a dull moment, even in Crisanta’s dreams, and all of this is paired with quirky re-imaginings of fairy tale favorites. But that isn’t all. Crisanta is facing some existential issues, doubting who she is and whether she’s been deluding herself her entire life. That, and a growing distrust of her dearest friends that’s putting a strain on everything.

I’m not going to outline which fairy tales make an appearance in this book as that would ruin the surprises. I particularly liked the ones Crisanta and team run into in the forest. I think the more into (or formerly into) fairy tales and Disney movies you are, the more of a kick you’ll get out of all the wacky scenarios and cameos.

Overall, I loved this story for its originality, action, and suspense. Fans of fantasy, fairy tales, and action/adventure will likely enjoy this story.

I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley.

Book Links:

About the Author:
Image from Twitter
Geanna Culbertson adores chocolate chip cookies, watching Netflix in pajamas, and the rain. Of course, in her case, the latter is kind of hard to come by. As her dad notes, In California, we don't have seasons, we have special effects. On the flip side, she is deeply afraid of ice skating and singing in public. Although, she forces herself to do both on occasion because she believes facing your fears can be good for you. During the week Geanna lives a disciplined, yet preciously ridiculous lifestyle. She gets up each day at 5:00 a.m. to train. Goes to work where she enjoys a double life as a kid undercover in a grown-up world. Then comes home, eats, writes, and watches one of her favorite TV shows. On weekends, however, Geanna s heart, like her time, is completely off the leash. Usually she ll teach martial arts at her local karate studio, pursue yummy foods, and check out whatever s new at her fav stores like Banana Republic. To summarize, she'll wander, play, disregard the clock, and get into as many shenanigans as possible.

Author Links:

Twitter @gculbert14

Friday, December 2, 2016

Interview: Geanna Culbertson, Author of The Crisanta Knight Series

Today I am excited to share with you my interview with Geanna Culbertson, author of Crisanta Knight: Protagonist Bound and The Crisanta Knight Series. If you are looking for a new spin on fairy tales and folklore, all delivered in a fun and thrilling package, these books deliver.

Anyhow, on to the interview!

I see from your profile that you practice and occasionally teach karate. What are your favorite aspects of this martial art? Does what you have learned from practicing karate show up in your writing, and how?
What I love most about karate is simply the action-packed, empowering nature of the activity. When I was little I had the aspiration of being like the superheroes I so admired in film and television. I wanted to be just like them. Alas, “superhero” is not exactly a career one can pursue as a grown-up. Add to that, when I was younger I was small, round, and confined to a corrective back brace that limited my physical activity. However, as I grew I decided that I would not let that stop me from being the girl I wanted to be. And I realized if I wanted to be my own version of “super” it would be up to me alone to work hard and achieve that. So that’s what I did. Through training, over the years I have worked hard to make myself stronger, faster, and someone I can be proud of. Karate encompasses those feelings. Every time I learn a new maneuver, or spar, or train my students I feel the kind of elation that comes with pursuing something you love, and knowing that every day you are trying to be a better version of yourself.
My karate teachings do show up in my writing. As a general rule, I wanted every action sequence in my series and every fight my characters get into to be physically possible and make sense. So while I can’t run drills with Pegasi or dragons as I write, I do run through the physical dynamics and physics of my fight scenes to the best of my ability. I’ve tested knife maneuvers on my karate teacher, I run through the battle choreography of my characters in my garage with various types of workout equipment, I’ve even had mock sword fights with friends in conference rooms during breaks from work. My knowledge of different weapons definitely helps with this. It is way easier to write action for swords, knives, shields, etc. If you understand the way they move and how your body reacts to them.

I'm from California as well. What do you most love about living there?
The food. Hands down. I’m a lover of good food, and my favorite pastime is going on eating adventures with my mom (a.k.a. my partner in crime). And the great thing about California is the diversity of food you can experience. If you want ramen, head to Little Tokyo. Fancy a delicious sushi dinner? Happy hour at Blue C Sushi at Fashion Island is the best. The world’s greatest chips and salsa? La Sirena Grill in El Segundo. The world’s greatest guacamole? Rosa Mexicano at LA LIVE downtown is to die for. Need I go on?

When I lived in California, I used to love going to Knott's Berry Farm. Do you like going to theme parks? If so, what do you like about them?
You know, in all honesty I’m not really a theme park person. Though I did just go to the Harry Potter World that opened at Universal Studios Hollywood and I had a great time! My friend and I got chosen by our wands (Holly Wood with a Dragon Heartstring Core, thank you very much), drank delicious pumpkin juice, and went on the rides so many times we got dizzy. It was awesome!

I found your Crisanta Knight character to be complex but lighthearted and fun, as well. How much of her personality reflects your own? Who else provides inspiration for the characters in your story? Have any of them recognized themselves in the pages?
I would definitely say that Crisanta’s personality is a reflection of my own. She is not an exact copy. The analogy I like to use is that she is to me what Iron Man is to Tony Stark—we share the same core and heart, but are different personas. My friends do tell me that when they read the books they hear my voice shining through, though. I think that’s because a lot of the big personality traits are the same, particularly her sass and sense of humor, but also (as you noted) the balance between complex/serious and lightheartedly fun. I also gave her a lot of my random quirks and characteristics, like my love of boots!
In terms of other characters, the rest of the main protagonists (Blue, Jason, SJ, and Daniel) weren’t inspired by anyone in particular. But there are some side characters throughout the series that pull inspiration from people I’ve known in life, both good and bad. I also like to give little shout outs to people or places who mattered in my life through names of characters and settings in the series. The kingdom of Harzana, for example, was in honor of my good friend and sorority big sister Alexa Harzan.

What else would you like to share about yourself or your writing?
I think readers will be surprised by a lot of what’s coming. Like Crisanta Knight herself, this series doesn’t play by the rules. We’re going to explore a lot of characters, settings, and themes. Given that CHANGE is one of the main thematic elements of the series, I intend to keep it fresh at every turn.

Your new book comes out soon. What would you like to share about that?
I am so excited about Book Two coming out! The Crisanta Knight Series is comprised of eight books. Having finished writing Book Five recently, I feel like the storyline with Book Two was one of the hardest to write so far because I put Crisanta through the wringer so much. I intend for her to grow into someone incredible, but that means she has to go through a lot of internal challenges and growth first. With the story being told in such an in-depth first person narrative, as an author I really get into the struggling mindset of my characters and that is an intensive endeavor.
That being said, Book Two (like all books in this series) is full of the same humor and heart as Book One, which makes the story fun to read. That element of FUN is very important to me. As the series develops, the plots and twists and challenges will get more intense, but I never want the story to lose that spark of magic and humor and fun. That was my favorite element of The Harry Potter Series. Even as the characters became older and the world grew darker, you still smiled during the stories and had a good time reading them. And that’s what I want for my readers—at the end of the day, I want them to have a good time reading this series.

Author Links:
Crisanta Knight Website
Twitter @gculbert14

You can pick up the first two books of the Crisanta Knight Series on Amazon.  Book Two comes out December 6, 2016, but it's available on pre-order now. I've read both and loved them!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Paranormal Romance New Release: Raene and the Three Bears by R.S. McCoy

Today Raene and the Three Bears is live on Amazon. I received a very lovely ARC copy of this paperback from the author, and I enjoyed every bit of it. Take a look at the book details below and then keep reading for a rundown of my impressions of the newest installment of The Alder Tales.

Raene and the Three Bears  (The Alder Tales #2)
by R.S. McCoy (Goodreads Author) 
Release Date: November 29, 2016

*A paranormal romance retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears*

A golden-haired beauty with a tiger totem, Raene Randal is powerless to stop the dissolution of her life. Her uncle and best friend, Kaide, is sending her away for good. While Raene knows his actions are fueled by the sudden and unexplained loss of his bride, Blossom, that doesn’t change the fact that her future is certain. As the niece of a Pyro politician, it’s Raene’s duty to cross the realm and fulfill her marriage arrangements with an Alderwood Bear Clan.

The rest of her life is mapped out, but Raene has one choice left: to choose a husband from the sons of the Bear Clan’s leader—too bad she’s not interested in any of them. She knows her duty, but so far from her home and everyone she knows, Raene finds keeping her promises harder than she ever thought.

On the far side of the realm, Blossom knows nothing of Kaide’s implosion or Raene’s departure. She’s trapped in the Aero city at the whim of Syndicate Mercer. As much as she tries to adapt to her aerial totem and her new role within the Aero branch, Blossom knows it’s only a matter of time before she sees Kaide again, but this time, she’ll be his enemy.

A new paranormal romance from RS McCoy, author of The Sparks Saga, The Luminary Chronicles, and The Extraction Files series.

Book Two of The Alder Tales.

What I thought about the paperback:
One word: fantastic.

This book was everything I have come to expect from books by R.S. McCoy. It isn't all butterflies and happiness, but there's some of that. There's strife, danger, love, attraction, and loss. Not everything goes to plan, but I still get that warm and fuzzy feeling I demand from a romance. Raene is beautiful and strong and vicious (from her tiger totem), and watching her come to terms with both sides of herself was a delight.

Anyhow, about the actual paperback, it's lovely!  There's a good solid feel to it, not too thick, even at 405 pages of story. The font is pleasing to the eye and appropriate for the sort of novel this is, and it looks really nice against the off-white paper, which has a nice texture to it and isn't too thin. The formatting is consistent throughout, and the pages have plenty of whitespace around the edges. It doesn't feel cramped or pressed in. Just right.

Oh, and that cover, it's even more magnificent in person. I couldn't really tell on my computer screen or kindle what the animal was, but on the paperback, it is very obviously a tiger in shadows. You can even see her face (well, her tiger face). It has a really clean, pleasing look that carries over to the spine of the book, so it would look great either end out or front out on a bookshelf.

Overall, I think this would be a great gift for fans of paranormal romance, but I strongly recommend picking up Blossom and the Beast, too, because you'll need to read them in order.

I liked this book so much I wrote two reviews for it. For a more story-oriented take, check out my review on PureTextuality.com. I'm sure it will post there either today or close, so check it out, too! And don't forget to share with your friends.

About the Author:
Rachel McCoy is a Texan living in New Jersey. Between binge watching MTV reality shows and baking gluten free treats, she writes paranormal fantasy and science fiction novels. She is the self-published author of the Sparks Saga trilogy as well as numerous short stories, some of which now reside in anthologies. Back when she lived in the real world, Rachel earned a degree in marine biology, which contributed to her die-hard love of manta rays.

To connect with RS McCoy (or swap recipes), visit her on her website (www.rsmccoyauthor.com) or check out her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRSMcCoy). You can also join her newsletter to receive release updates, free stories, and bonus extras (http://eepurl.com/YItp1).

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sci-Fi Review: The Host: A Novel by Stephanie Meyer

The Host: A Novel
by Stephanie Meyer 

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

My Review:
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from The Host, but I didn’t expect to love it so much. It takes the body-snatcher invasion idea to another level. Benevolent, non-violent invaders who, nevertheless, destroy entire civilizations by taking over the bodies and suppressing the minds of their victims.

The two main characters, Wanderer and Melanie, are fantastic together. Wanderer didn’t ask to be given Melanie’s body, but she was. Unfortunately for Wanderer, Melanie’s will to survive is strong and she refuses to fade into nothingness. Wanderer can’t help but feel what Melanie feels, and it leads them both into danger and an unexpected life path.

I pretty much loved everything about this story, but one thing I couldn’t help but realize was that this would likely make a rather boring movie. Most of it would be set in the caverns, and a lot of it would have to focus on the inner dialog between Melanie and Wanderer. Not the stuff of movie magic. Perhaps that’s why I’ve heard the movie was no good. Anyhow, I am glad I picked up the book because it’s perfect. Makes you think, makes you feel, and makes you care.

I recommend this story to folks who love sci-fi with a bit of romance. It would mostly appeal, in my opinion, to those who love YA, but it’s smarter than many YA stories I’ve read and really makes you think.

I borrowed this book from the library.

About the Author (from Stephanie Meyer's Goodreads profile):

I was born in Connecticut in 1973, during a brief blip in my family's otherwise western U.S. existence. We were settled in Phoenix by the time I was four, and I think of myself as a native. The unusual spelling of my name was a gift from my father, Stephen (+ ie = me). Though I have had my name spelled wrong on pretty much everything my entire life long, I must admit that it makes it easier to google myself now.

I filled the "Jan Brady" spot in my family-the second of three girls. Unlike the Brady's, none of my three brothers are steps, and all of them are younger than all the girls. I went to high school in Scottsdale, Arizona, the kind of place where every fall a few girls would come back to school with new noses and there were Porsches in the student lot (for the record, I have my original nose, and never had a car until after I was in my twenties). I was awarded a National Merit Scholarship, and I used it to pay my way to Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah. I majored in English, but concentrated on literature rather than creative writing, mostly because I didn't consider reading books "work" (as long as I was going to be doing something anyway, I might as well get course credit for it, right?).

I met my husband, Pancho (his real name is Christiaan), when I was four, but we were never anywhere close to being childhood sweethearts. In fact, though we saw each other at least weekly through church activities, I can't recall a single instance when we so much as greeted each other with a friendly wave, let alone exchanged actual words. This may have been for the best, because when we did eventually get around to exchanging words, sixteen years after our first meeting, it only took nine months from the first "hello" to the wedding. Of course, we were able to skip over a lot of the getting to know you parts (many of our conversations would go something like this: "This one time, when I was ten, I broke my hand at a party when-" "Yeah, I know what happened. I was there, remember?")

We've been married for ten and a half years now, and have three beautiful, brilliant, wonderful boys who often remind me chimpanzees on crack. I can't write without music, and my biggest muse is, ironically enough, the band Muse. My other favorite sources of inspiration are Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, Coldplay, The All American Rejects, Travis, The Strokes, Brand New, U2, Kasabian, Jimmy Eat World, and Weezer, to mention a few.   
Follow the author here:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

High Fantasy Review: A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle #1) by Ursula LeQuin

A Wizard of Earthsea  (Earthsea Cycle #1)
by Ursula K. Le Guin 

Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth.

Hungry for power and knowledge, Sparrowhawk tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance.

My review:
A Wizard of Earthsea is the story about the origins of Sparrowhawk, a boy destined to be archmage and hero in the land (sea?) of Earthsea. I added this book to my to-be-read list back in 2013 when the miniseries based on the Earthsea books came out because I love fantasy and it had all the elements: young protagonist, magic, quests.

Still, having now read it, I can’t help but feel a little let down. The story itself is interesting. The struggle, the quest, and the danger, all progress logically and pull you along as Sparrowhawk grows into a more likeable hero.

Then again, it all falls flat. Part of that is due to the distant, 3rd person point of view. It’s all about Sparrowhawk, in the past, before he becomes famous, with lots of reminders that he will, in fact, fight this battle or that, become arch mage, or be an all-powerful master of the arcane of some sort. But, it reads more like a campfire tale by someone who’s memorized the words than an immersive adventure where the reader feels like they’re there in the action.

Also, there’s just a ton of hooptedoodle (look that up in the first few pages of John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday). Anyhow, I found myself skimming it. I just wanted the book to get to the point, the action, and while I can totally dig a few paragraphs of flowery words and fanciful description, there was way too much of both in some parts.

Also, if one’s true name is so important and powerful, why does Sparrowhawk find it so easy to share his? Right after going on and on about the true name, the first thing he does upon reaching the wizard school is state his true name to the keeper of the door. I recall this from the miniseries, too, and it didn’t sit well then, either. And if your friend shares their true name with you, why in the world would you then insist on greeting them with that name in public, ever? Seems incongruous.

Anyhow, while I didn’t find it a struggle to keep reading this book, it did make me second guess my own love of fantasy books. I couldn’t help but feel that if I’d read this ten years ago, I might have absolutely loved this book. But I didn’t read it ten years ago, I read it now.

So, overall, I must say I thought the book was ok and somewhat likeable, but not quite up my alley. Folks who really dig traditional fantasy with all the flowery words and hints of future greatness might enjoy this book. It’s not the most immersive experience, but there’s a good story in there. Still, I probably won’t continue reading the series.

I borrowed this book from the library.

About the Author:

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin is an American author of novels, children's books, and short stories, mainly in the genres of fantasy and science fiction. She has also written poetry and essays. First published in the 1960s, her work has often depicted futuristic or imaginary alternative worlds in politics, the natural environment, gender, religion, sexuality and ethnography.

She influenced such Booker Prize winners and other writers as Salman Rushdie and David Mitchell – and notable science fiction and fantasy writers including Neil Gaiman and Iain Banks. She has won the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award, each more than once. In 2014, she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Le Guin has resided in Portland, Oregon since 1959.

Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.                

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Short Story Review: Demon Rising: A Dark Fantasy Short Story by R.S. McCoy

Demon Rising: A Dark Fantasy Short Story
by R.S. McCoy

A demon hides under little Katherine's bed, only he isn't there to haunt her.

My Review:
A very short story, Demon Rising, is quick and intriguing.

The demon isn’t what you’d expect, and that’s part of the charm. I felt bad for him. Anyhow, it’s a good read. Took me about fifteen minutes to get through.

Folks who like short stories and fantasy might like this.

I picked my copy of this book during a free promotion.

View all my reviews

About the Author:
Rachel McCoy is a Texan living in New Jersey. Between binge watching MTV reality shows and baking gluten free treats, she writes paranormal fantasy and science fiction novels. She is the self-published author of the Sparks Saga trilogy as well as numerous short stories, some of which now reside in anthologies. Back when she lived in the real world, Rachel earned a degree in marine biology, which contributed to her die-hard love of manta rays.

To connect with RS McCoy (or swap recipes), visit her on her website (www.rsmccoyauthor.com) or check out her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRSMcCoy). You can also join her newsletter to receive release updates, free stories, and bonus extras (http://eepurl.com/YItp1).

Saturday, November 5, 2016

New Release and Review: Immortal Writers by Jill Bowers

Immortal Writers
by Jill Bowers

Young up-and-coming author Liz McKinnen has no idea that her life is about to change forever when she comes home from her first book tour.

When she's kidnapped and told by her captors that she has to kill her fantasy book's antagonist, she thinks that she's fallen into the hands of crazy, dangerous fans... until her antagonist sends a real, fire-breathing dragon after her. Liz is quickly initiated into the Immortal Writers, a group of authors from throughout time whose words have given them eternal life, and whose prose is so powerful that it's brought stories over from the Imagination Field into the Reality Field.

As Liz meets authors such as William Shakespeare, JRR Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jane Austen, she has to learn how to control magic, fight dragons, and face her own troubled past before her power-hungry villain takes over the world. Will she survive the ultimate battle against the dragon lord whom she created?

My Review:
Immortal Writers takes a rather literal spin to finding immortality through the written word. Imagine learning, as an author, that your plot twists, dashing heroes, and darkest villains have come to life. Not just come to life in the minds of your readers, but in reality. All I can say is Liz has her work cut out for her.

First off, I love how the story brings to life some of the things writers often say about writing. That they’ll live on through their words, that their characters take over the story, that the story itself has to happen the way it does, despite their intentions. I’ve felt this in my own writing, but to imagine that all of this might happen because the story is becoming real is just mind-blowing.
I also love which authors were chosen to be featured in this story and how they’re portrayed. Poe is one of my favorite characters in the story, mostly because of how the other authors react to him. But as a fantasy/sci fi fan, I particularly loved how Anne McCaffrey, J.R.R Tolkien, and even Gene Rodenberry make an appearance. And not just an appearance, some of them get involved in the plot personally. There’s mostly an air of fantasy, but also a few elements of sci fi, based on the writer’s who’ve been immortalized and the aspects of their writing that have leaked into the real world.
Now, all that’s related to the premise, but the story itself, the struggle and the romance and the personal growth of the main character, Liz, are all handled exceptionally well. It’s a satisfying read, and Liz’s story seems complete at the end.

That being said, there were points where the famous authors’ cameos made me roll my eyes. Just a little cheesy at times. And it was funny that Shakespeare seems to be the leader of all the immortal writers.

For folks looking for a book club read, there are some questions at the end specifically for that. In my opinion, this story would make an interesting discussion topic, particularly in book clubs where the members also enjoy writing.

Overall, I loved this book. I think folks who like to write, whether published or not, will be entranced by this story and the way it unfolds. Fantasy and sci fi fans in particular will dig the references to their genre and likely their favorite authors.

I received the review copy of this book from NetGalley.

About the Author:
Jill Bowers is a technical writer by day and a fantasy author by night. She is one of two composers-in-residence for the Westminster Bell Choir and has a great love for all music. She used to be the writer and host for the award-winning radio show Olde Tyme Radio on the Aggie Radio Station at USU and has dabbled in stage play writing as well.

Jill enjoys attending Utah's Comic Con and Fantasy Con and has an unhealthy attachment to Netflix. She lives in Utah and has a lovely dachshund that needs to lose weight because she probably doesn't get enough walks and is too cute to not feed. Jill attended Utah State University for their creative writing program, where she actually specialized in creative nonfiction rather than fiction. However, Jill loves delving into different worlds in fantasy and sci-fi novels and is excited to have people enter the worlds she has created.

Author Links:
w: www.immortalauthor.com/
t: @Jilliard08
f: facebook.com/immortalauthorjill
g: goodreads.com/user/show/2509616-jill-bowers
p: pinterest.com/jilliard08/
i: instagram.com/jilliard08/
y: youtube.com/channel/UC4FH9bS51qVga7rPot7awTw

**Updated 05NOV2017 with Author Info and Links!**

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Fantasy Review: The Endless Hills (Water Road Trilogy #2) by J.D. Byrne

The Endless Hills (The Water Road #2)
by J.D. Byrne

The Second Great Neldathi Uprising has begun, setting the world of the Water Road on fire.

United by Antrey Ranbren, the Neldathi clans have attacked across the great river, laying waste to the metropolis of Innisport. Now they hunt the Triumvirate army in the Endless Hills of Telebria. Antrey knows a crushing victory in pitched battle is what they need to win this war. The Neldathi have swept aside everything in their path, but time is not on their side. That’s why she’s sent Naath and Goshen on desperate missions to find help.

Trapped in Oberton by the negative reaction to her book exposing the Triumvirate’s treatment of the Neldathi, Strefer wonders how the Neldathi have been so successful on the battlefield. She leaves the safety of the city in the trees to find the truth. Along with Rurek, she traces the evidence back to the last place she ever expected.

A world torn apart by war and a dwindling sense of hope for the future - the next chapter in the epic saga of The Water Road.

My review:
A continuation of The Water Road, The Endless Hills takes on both sides of the new uprising. Antrey and Strefer still play important parts, but we also meet a new Ranger captain, who’s pretty interesting, and an ex-prisoner pressed into service on the Triumvirate side.

One of the things I love about this book, and the series so far, is how it draws you in emotionally. I want Antrey to win, but I also care about the characters introduced on the other side of the conflict. Both sides of the story are put out there in a relatable way. Good people on both sides. Old wrongs needing to be made right, but a new generation that isn’t at fault. Complex themes that really get you thinking.

Then, add the action and you have quite a fun and engaging read. Battles, strategy, personal conflict and favorite characters put in the line of danger make it all worth reading. The suspense in places had me on edge, and some of the outcomes are shocking. In the final chapters, one in particular left me reeling. That emotional connection to the characters is really what tipped this over for me.

So, overall, I loved this book. I’d highly recommend it to fans of epic fantasy. It’s just a good, solid read with a lot of meat to it. Fun and emotionally engaging. A great escape.

I received the review copy of this book from the author.

Book Links:
The Water Road
The Endless Hills

Learn more about The Water Road trilogy from the Water Road Wednesday posts on J.D. Byrne's blog.

About the Author:

J.D. Byrne
JD Byrne was born and raised around Charleston, West Virginia, before spending seven years in Morgantown getting degrees in history and law from West Virginia University. He's practiced law for more than 15 years, writing briefs where he has to stick to real facts and real law. In his fiction, he gets to make up the facts, take or leave the law, and let his imagination run wild. He lives outside Charleston with his wife, one-eyed dog, and black cat.

Facebook: JDBAuthor

Twitter: @JDBAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/JDByrne

Web: jdbyrne.net

New Release Review: Orphans of Time-Space by Robby Charters

Orphans of Time-Space
by Robby Charters

Release Date: November 1, 2016

 At nine years old, Drake was sure he had a best friend named Timmy Browning, but it turns out, Timmy never existed.

Later, at age sixteen, he has other weird memories, which remind him of his earlier one of Timmy Browning. While looking further, he realises he also knows things that he shouldn’t, such as the interior of the actual house that Timmy would have lived in, and Timmy’s mum (now the mother of Drake’s girlfriend, Jeanette); and weirder still: the name of a mysterious assassin.

These types of memories are the mark of one who has the “gift” of time perception. Thus, Drake’s adventures begin…

Saving Timmy Browning is the first in a collection of short stories, novelettes and a novella, all set in the same universe, some with the same characters. Saving Timmy Browning is a novelette, with an “uh-oh” ending if you want to take it on its own; or a cliff-hanger if you want to read straight into the sequel…

Saving the Time-line: Timmy Browning and his younger sister, Jessica have been saved from non-existence, but now the world has been plunged into a nightmarish alternative history of international proportions (no, not like Biff Tannen’s Hill Valley)

By now, we’ve already met Johann, a member of “The Order”. They have the task of streamlining history, and helping humanity avoid nasty things like nuclear war and mass genocide. They’ve been working overtime to keep the USSR and Argentina from a devastating war. They’ve run out of options, except for one, that Drake, Timmy, Jeanette and Jessica can help them with.

Episode Three is more like a chapter in the book that ties a few loose ends together.

The Murder Victim Who Was Still Alive is a stand-alone short story, set in the same universe, same premise. Police Inspector Dylan Murphy is working on a weird case: the body of a six-year-old boy was found buried under a pavement that hadn’t been been dug up in fifty years. But the time of death was only two hours ago. What’s even more strange: the boy, Mickey Stewart, is still very much alive.

The Great Time Shift (What would happen if Hannibal didn’t defeat Rome?) – How “The Order” was founded; Thoma tells the story of how it all started in a monastery in Iskandar (Kandahar). It was a time-line in which Rome never rose to be a great empire. First century Judea was under the Parthian Empire, so Christianity spread Eastward instead of Westward. India and China have been Christianised and Yoga is a Christian discipline. Thoma and his fellow monk Yoseph discover time-travel, and how to do it safely, avoiding the dangers of becoming embedded in the earth or dropping from the sky (because of the spin and orbit of the earth).

This novella answers the questions: how did history shift from the Parthian to the Roman time line; and how could the Incarnation and the rise of Christianity have possibly occurred in such a barbaric civilisation as the Roman Empire?

My Review:
The Orphans of Time Space is a rather intriguing collection of stories, all revolving around the possibility that some people may not only be predisposed to perceiving broken timelines, but also to traveling forwards and backwards along them.

The main character in the first one is Drake, and his story is all about discovering his own abilities and then learning to use them to save his abruptly non-existent friend, well, exist again. It gets complicated when he figures out that if he saves Timmy, his girlfriend Jeanette will go poof instead.
My favorite of the stories, however, is the one that stands alone in the middle, The Murder Victim Who Was Still Alive, even though the 6-year-old murder victim was incredibly well-spoken, especially when it cuts to his perspective. Still, I liked it. There was tension, and it really drew me in.
The longest one, I think, was the one about the history of The Order. It gets pretty deep, and Drake and friends reappear, but only as observers or students hearing a story second hand. I enjoyed the interesting take on the first Christmas. Clever.

Obviously, the author did a lot of research on the historical figures and put some real time into working through some plausible alternate realities, paradoxes, and methods to protect his time travelers from the influence of their own actions. I’m not as well versed in my history, but I didn’t any have trouble following along and enjoying the story.

The stories seem to be written in such a way as they could be read as standalone works, but as such, there are some redundancies, particularly in explaining the logistics around time travel.

Overall, I really liked these stories, particularly the mystery, the Saving Timmy Browning one, and the one with the first Christmas in it.  It’s an eclectic collection, all in the same world, but not all directly linked.

I received the review copy of this book from the author.

Book Links:

About the Author:
I presently live in Belfast with my family. That's where my dad was from, and where I have family connections. Most of my life was spent in Thailand, where I was born, and where my wife is from. I've done a number of things in my life, including charity work, training and mentoring, teaching English, telemarketing (don't hit me), working with homeless children, and, of course, writing. In three of my books you'll find a character named Boz. That's me. Oh, and I also do freelance book design. Just Google "Robby Charters" to find me, or go to my website: www.RobbyCharters.co.uk.

Author Links:

Twitter @robbycharters


On a side note, this isn't the first book I've read by this author. Nope, the first was The Zondon, which I picked up on Amazon back in 2013 because it started with a Z, it wasn't about zombies, and I was trying to complete an A-Z reading challenge.

Here's my review for The Zondon on Goodreads. It's one of those books I still find myself thinking about even a few years later.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Children's Book Review: In the Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey by Max Evan and Maria Evan

In The Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey
by Max Evan and Maria Evan 

This book is about the adventures of a boy named Christopher, a girl named Sophia and a retriever named Duke. By chance they find themselves in a balloon that takes them to a fairyland where mysterious events happen.

The children want to find the way home, but first they have to solve a lot of mysteries and learn interesting ways of measuring time.

My Review:
In the Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey is a short story featuring an unexpected adventure that lands three new friends in a place where time has gone wrong, dogs talk, and pacifying caps are in, especially for grumpy gnomes with bad reputations.

What I liked most about the story is that it’s fun and paced well. There’s a good bit of humor, too, but it also presents some interesting tips about keeping your vision when moving into a dark room or how matter changes when it heats up or cools down. I also like the part about how the gnome’s reputation was damaged after a single outburst—he was an amusing character, but his dilemma teaches an important lesson.

As for the translation and editing, it’s almost completely solid. There was one very short spot (maybe 2-3 paragraphs) at about the 83% mark, where it seemed to revert to rough translation, but everywhere else, it’s perfect. I just skimmed over that one place.

Overall, I really liked this book. It’s fun, educational, and well-paced. I think children in the elementary or younger middle school age groups would most likely enjoy either reading it or having it read to them.

I received the review copy of this book from one of the authors.

About the Authors:

From Maria Evan via Amazon:

Hello! I am the author and the illustrator of children's books.

The idea to write a fairy tale came at a time when my son was 5 years old. He was sick, and I wanted to please him more than anything. He likes to read books, but all of our books have been read several times so I had a desire to come up with new stories, the first of them -- an adventure in which our son and our boxer dog travel by balloon. It was very exciting for me, starting the next series. I did not know how it would end. :)

Then I saw how his eyes lit up, and thus, he gave me the belief that my writings are interesting.

Together with my husband - Max Evan - we were able to realize this idea, and for me, it is important to know your opinion about our first children's book.   

Note that the book, description, and author profile are all translations from Russian. The book was translated by Helen Hagon, who did a fantastic job. I'm not sure who translated the author bio and book description, but I edited the versions you see in this post to better reflect the quality I saw in the book.  I tried to keep true to the intent I saw in the original versions.