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!