Saturday, August 19, 2017

Review: The Long-Lost Secret Diary of the World's Worst Pirate by Tim Collins


THE LONG-LOST SECRET DIARY OF THE WORLD'S WORST PIRATE
The Long-Lost Secret Diary
by Tim Collins
North Star Editions Jolly Fish Press
Middle Grade Adventure
218 pages

COMING. . .
SEPTEMBER 18th!!!

Meet Thomas—a young man sailing with his parents aboard a merchant ship in the 18th century and prone to daydreaming about living an exciting life as a pirate on the high seas. When a pirate crew led by Captain Bartholomew Morgan takes over the ship, Thomas stows away and is accepted into their motley gang. However, life as a pirate proves far less romantic than what he was expecting. The hilarious Long Lost Secret Diary series put readers inside the heads of hapless figures from history struggling to carry out their roles and getting things horribly wrong. The accessible, irreverent stories will keep young readers laughing as they learn the importance of not being afraid to learn from one’s mistakes. 



MY TIDBITS

With the rawness of the sea, this book attacks the life of pirates and adventure but with a tidal wave of reality which has romantic idealism walking the plank.

Thomas is sailing across the sea with his parents to their new home, but the merchant ship is not nearly as exciting as a pirate ship would be. When Thomas spots a ship on the horizon, the adventure begins. Convinced the pirate life is the life for him, Thomas manages to become part of the crew, but soon he learns that pirating isn't nearly as neat as he thought it'd be.

Written in diary style, Thomas recounts his adventure of entering pirate life, not the life portrayed in myth and fantasy, but a harsh, more historical version. Thomas isn't a hero, and he isn't overly coordinated or intelligent. He's just a kid, who has to somehow make it through one of the biggest mistakes he could ever make. His reactions are hilarious, his decisions sometimes faulty, but he has determination and learns his lesson well.

For readers interested in the history of pirates, this book is a chest of gold. The situation, events and surroundings are not romanticized but hit with a dose of daily life...the kind that isn't easy or grand. Thomas faces true troubles and pirates who really aren't secretly moral or friendly. Some things are funny, others are simply harsh (such as an amputation with a saw). As an extra bonus, there are information breaks, which explain real historical facts along the way. All of this is rolled into a quirky adventure, which keeps the story rolling, and a character whose mishaps guarantee chuckles despite the more serious aspects. The book, however, is not written in a historical style, but the narration and characters keep the modern day vocabulary and style, making it an easy read for kids.

While the diary style lets the true life come through clearly and lets the humor shine, it is very narrative and leaves Thomas at arm's length. The tale lacks the personal touch, making it hard to slide into Thomas's shoes and truly worry about him. His lack of concern for his family is also surprising. Not only is Thomas a little flat, but the narrative form, especially in the first chapters, doesn't pull into the action as much as it could. Still, kids who love pirates are sure to enjoy this read. The information is rich and the added humor make it easy to digest. The modern writing style is actually an extra bonus and insures that even more reluctant reading pirate fans will happily dive into these pages.


Sneak Peek: Masked by J.D. Wright with Giveaway





Masked 
by J.D. Wright
Superheroes Undercover, #1
 Limitless Publishing
August 15th 2017
YA Paranormal, Superheroes






Vada’s To-Do List:

– Turn 18 (check!)
– Register super name
– Order supersuit
– Attend superhero indoctrination
– Graduate high school
– Start kicking criminal tail

Vada Lawson can’t wait to be a superhero. Born into a family with special powers, she’s been training to fight criminals and villains her whole life. But her indoctrination into the underground super community is derailed when normals start breaking out in superpowers themselves.
Not trained to control their new abilities, the normals are frightened and vulnerable. Then their mutilated corpses begin turning up all over town. What the heck?
Somehow, with the help—and hindrance—of an annoying newly-minted super named Orion, Vada has to stop the chaos before it destroys her and everything she holds dear…and ruins her superhero debut.




EXCERPT

Nick couldn’t take it anymore.
The entire morning had been one shock to his system after another. The nice long weekend in his giant but silent house had made him all but forget about the weird run-in with Janet. He’d spent the entire time working on his homework and enjoying the peace and quiet.
But after only five minutes at school, he was rudely reminded that he must be losing his mind. The voices came like a whirlwind into his head, one after another. So many that he couldn’t decipher whose thoughts belonged to who. He couldn’t even separate his own thoughts from the others. There were so many, and every one of them was as loud as the other, washing over him like waves of pounding noise.
Being in class gave no relief, either. The other students may not have been talking aloud, but every one of them was thinking, loudly. Nick heard too many things that he never wanted to hear and a lot of mundane thoughts that no one cares about.
…I wonder if I forgot to lock the door this morning…
…Oh, man. I’m not sure if I’m ready to do this. What if I get pregnant? But Luke is so cute, though…
…Mrs. Yates has such nice tits…
Nick actually agreed with that last sentiment, but he couldn’t be sure who had said it.
…Only thirty minutes left. I really need to pee…
…Nick is too good for Scarlet. What does he see in her? She’s such a bitch…
…This class is about as useless as my stepmother…
There was just so much noise. Nick pulled his hood up, but it did nothing to block the sounds. Every single thought that crossed someone else’s mind entered his. He didn’t give a damn about someone’s new pet lizard. And while he appreciated the girl across from him’s glances and thoughts of admiration—at least, he was pretty sure those belonged to her from the way she watched him—he didn’t want to know what other people were thinking.
What had caused this? Was it some sort of mental illness? Was he imagining these things? He couldn’t be sure he was even hearing real thoughts. He considered quizzing someone, but he was almost too afraid to confirm what he suspected.
He was reading people’s minds. Hearing their thoughts. Without even trying.
And it was excruciating.



And here she is. . .

J.D. Wright is a military wife, mother of four, and author of paranormal and fantasy romance books filled with strong-willed heroines, swoon-worthy heroes, and sprinkled with humor and adventure. J.D. creates artistry in many ways, as a baker and cake artist by day and author by night. You can usually find her typing away at the computer or covered in frosting.
Since discovering she has a knack for writing, J.D. has so far written and self-published eight books of the Everealm and Songs of Everealm Series and is now venturing into the world of paranormal with her new superhero-themed series. She is an avid reader and lover of all things romance so she always includes a good love story in her paranormal and fantasy novels. 


XBTBanner1

Friday, August 18, 2017

Review: Spellhaven by Sandra Unerman


The Unseen Spirits must be entertained, so that the city may prosper......


SPELLHAVEN
by Sandra Unerman
Fantasy, Adventure
August 17, 2017
Mirror World Publishing
In the summer of 1914, Jane Fairchild, a young English musician, is kidnapped by magic and sent to Spellhaven, an island city ruled by magicians. Here, peace and prosperity are maintained with the assistance of Unseen Spirits bound to the service of the Lords Magician. The Spirits must be kept in good humour by the performance of all kinds of shows, dance, drama and music. Jane is one of many people kidnapped from the outside world and forced to contribute to these entertainments for a set period of service.

Only Jane is having none of it. She will not perform for her kidnapper, Lucian Palafox, but agrees to undertake an apprenticeship with another magician impresario, provided she is taught magic in return. Jane's forays into magic lead her deeper within the mysteries of Spellhaven, her rivalry with Lucian escalates and the quarrels between them grow strong enough to shake the city to its foundations.


Follow the tour to read guest posts, reviews, and exclusive excerpts!
https://saphsbookpromotions.blogspot.com/2017/08/book-tour-schedule-spellhaven-by-sandra.html



MY TIDBITS

(Note: This starts with a normal YA read style, characterization and plot, although Jane matures in the last chapters.)

This magical world lures in and adds exciting twists and tension with every turn.

After completing a musical performance, Jane is approached by a strange man who insists she play a solo performance for him. She declines and finds herself put under a spell, which makes her feet act on their own and lead her to a magical island, Spellhaven. There, the magicians perform shows to keep the demons entertained so that they can continue to live, using their own magical powers. But Spellhaven holds many mysteries, some which should never be uncovered. But Jane does and now, she has to deal with the consequences.

The first chapters opened with a wonderful scene of Jane and her love for music, and it immediately takes off with tension as she finds herself under a compelling spell. Although it was easy to feel for Jane's plight from the first moments, the beginning scenes felt a little rushed and jumbled as there was no time to first settle into Jane's circumstances or surroundings. But after this beginning stumble, the story opens up into a fantastical world and plot.

The writing is gentle yet gripping. The world and scenes unfold with carefully placed details, letting the surroundings gain depth and feel. It's a fantastic island to visit, making it hard to want to leave. Which is important not only for the world-building but for the plot.

There is a lot of light-hearted fun and dreams built into the tale, letting imagination take flight. This throws a great contrast to the darker shadows and secrets Jane faces. But it's much like her own character. She's determined, has a golden heart and is easily liked, but on the same hand, her personality as its own deeper sharp edges and flaws. Some of her decisions leave a sour taste, but she's still a heroine to forgive and cheer on. Even those around her dance on a grey border as their actions and decisions waver from good to evil and back again. It makes for more realistic personalities and keeps the reader guessing the whole way through. 

Tension and mystery keep up a steady-pace and make it hard to set the book down. The plot held many surprising twists and kept a logical thread going even with fantastical turns. With a sudden switch in atmosphere, the last chapters take on a different tone and pace from the rest of the novel. The relationship between Jane and her hero rushes to pass time and loses the chemistry which made the rest of the book so interesting. It made the last chapters less grabbing and dulled even Jane's character a little. Although, the ending did pull it back together and close it off to form a satisfying read.


EXCERPT

Jane Fairchild lowered the flute from her mouth and curtseyed to the audience scattered around the lawn. She could not help smiling at their cheers, even as Toby Scott, the leader of their consort, bent down towards her and muttered, ‘You weren’t supposed to play that. You promised to behave.’

They had played one solo each, as agreed, but Jane had abandoned the Gounod she had rehearsed for some variations of her own on a nameless tune from her childhood. Toby despised that kind of music making and none of the others cared for it much. Jane had meant to be well-behaved this evening, when they wanted to impress Lady Waverley and her guests. The consort, music students in their final year, had been invited to play at this garden party in July chiefly because the Waverleys’ son had been at school with Toby, but their guests were likely to include several potential patrons and aficionados who might help them in their fledgling careers. The year was 1914.

The trouble was, as Jane had looked round in the deep evening light, she had felt a need to stir up the audience. They stood in little clusters under the trees or on the paths in the rose garden and listened politely between sips of champagne, but they were not properly engaged with the music. Most of them were young and busy flirting by whisper or touch, or staid and on the edge of somnolence. At least Jane had caught their attention and made some of them laugh.

She shook her head at Toby while she put her flute away and did not answer him. Now that they had finished their set, people were quick to surround the musicians and compliment them, and she was able to dodge round him without a fuss. She was thirsty, so she headed towards the refreshments promised earlier. She doubted champagne would be provided for the musicians but lemonade would be more welcome in any case.

A stranger stepped in front of her, a young man, dark and thin. ‘That last piece was the real stuff. Couldn’t you strangle your First Violin with his own strings and play some more of it?’ he said.

‘Good evening, Mr.…?’ Jane said.

The stranger inclined his head. ‘Lucian Hunter, at your service.’ There was a glint in his eye, as though at a joke he did not expect other people to understand.

‘Mr. Scott is a very fine musician and a friend of mine.’

‘But deadening. You ought to quarrel with him and strike out on your own.’

Jane drew breath to argue and then decided not to explain herself to this person, whoever he was.

‘I don’t think so,’ she said. ‘Excuse me, I should go and find Lady Waverley.’

‘Wait!’ Hunter’s voice was not loud but compelling. He spoke clear English but with the shadow of an accent Jane could not place. ‘I have something else to ask you. Will you meet me next week and play for me?’

‘I’m afraid not.’

‘I could pay you for some lessons. Surely you take pupils?’

Not arrogant young men, Jane thought. ‘It really isn’t possible,’ she said, and turned away.

She felt a hand on her arm and swung back to glare at Hunter. He dropped his clasp at once but he said, ‘You’ll regret it if you don’t. It’s the music I want, you know.’

‘Not from me. Or from anyone else I know if you lay a finger on me again.’

His smile was swift and infuriating.

‘I don’t need to, now,’ he said and turned away.

Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing eBook:  

Mirror World Publishing Paperback:

Amazon US:  
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/spellhaven-sandra-unerman/1126613810?ean=9781987976342


And here she is. . .


Sandra Unerman lives in London in the UK. When she retired from a career as a Government lawyer, she undertook an MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University, specialising in SF and fantasy, and graduated in 2013. Since then, she has had a number of short stories published. In 2016, these included stories in Three Drops from a Cauldron, the Midwinter issue and Aurora Wolf, the September issue, both available online. She writes reviews and articles for the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society. She is a member of London Clockhouse writers and other writing groups. Her interests include history, folklore and medieval literature.

Connect with Sandra :

Website:
https://sandraunermanwriter.com/

Amazon Author Page:
https://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Unerman/e/B0034NS9VM

Goodreads Author Page:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6566116.Sandra_Unerman

Goodreads Book Page:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cover Reveal: Journey from Skioria by Kandi J Wyatt with Giveaway


Journey from Skioria


Journey from Skioria

by Kandi J Wyatt
Middle Grade Fantasy


Cover is designed by Yosbe Design and Leo Illustrations.


COMING. . .
SEPTEMBER 5th, 2017!!!




Tania is lost, shipwrecked on an unfamiliar shore. With no friends or family, the nine-year-old girl must make her way through the realm of the woodland people to a town she's never heard of. With unexpected allies from the forest, Tania departs on a wild adventure where storms rage and the forces of nature do their very best to end her journey before it has truly begun.

In a land full of magic and evil forces, can one young girl make it home alive?

Lord of the Rings meets Narnia in this standalone middle grade fantasy by author Kandi J Wyatt.


You can find Journey from Skioria on Goodreads

You can pre-order Journey From Skioria here:
- Amazon
- B&N
- iTunes

Check out these teaser images:

Teaser-Adventure-Skioria


Teaser-Moon-Skioria


Teaser-Song-Skioria




Kandi J WyattAnd here she is. . .

Kandi J Wyatt is a wife, mother of five, teacher, artist, and author. In her free time, she enjoys writing fantasy stories and Christmas programs, and drawing with graphite and colored pencils. Portraits are her specialty. Kandi also enjoys photography, thanks to her photographer husband who has let her join his journey as both his model and apprentice, and she occasionally serves as his assistant when he needs a “light stand with feet.”

You can find and contact Kandi J Wyatt here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Pinterest
- Instagram
- Google+
- Amazon
- Goodreads


This cover reveal is organized by Lola's Blog Tours.


GIVEAWAY!!!

There is a cover reveal wide giveaway for the cover reveal of Journey from Skioria. One winner will win an e-Arc of Journey from Skioria.

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Review: Nemesis by Anna Banks


NEMESIS
Nemesis, Book 1
by Anna Banks
Feiwel & Friends
YA Fantasy
359 pages

COMING. . .
OCTOBER 4th, 2017!!!


Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king’s servitude.

Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But Mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.

Sepora's gift may be able to save Tarik’s kingdom. But should she risk exposing herself and her growing feelings for her nemesis?




MY TIDBITS


Mistrust and secrets hang in the background of a vibrant fantasy, making love and trust a difficult, if not impossible, task.

Princess Sepora is fleeing her kingdom in hopes of finding a way to stop her father's power hungry plans, which will launch their world into war. Captured by thieves, she's sold on the neighboring kingdom's market and forced to join the newly crowned Tarik's harem. Determined to break free from her fate, she's brought in front of Tarik, who, mesmerized by her beauty and attitude, makes her the assistant to his head adviser. But Sepora doesn't trust any of it and soon finds herself weaving between truths, allegiances, doubt and an attempt to save everyone.

The first pages demand immediate attention as Sepora rides her fly serpent in an attempt to run away from her father, the King. Her desperation hits full force and the situation draws in from that very first page. Her trek through the desert and delivery to the market leave no doubt about the hardships she's facing and call for empathy. It's a vivid world, packed full of fantasy without coming across to foreign. The characters come across very naturally and are easy to get lost in, each and every one. At first.

This book is written in two POVS: Sepora's and Tarik's. The two sides let the intrigue and problems unfold in a compelling way and make it clear how difficult the situation not only between the two character is, but also for their world. The chapters switch between the two, making it easy to follow. But Sepora is written in first person, while Tarik is in third. This made for a jerk every time Tarik's turn came and caused a pause at the beginning of every single one of his chapters to re-orientate to the narrative.

There's never a lull or boring moment as the tension and intrigue increases with every turn, and the characters weave between the situations with moments to cheer for. Sepora is full of self-confidence and takes matters into her own hand. She's mistrusting, which is understandable, and sticks to her goals. At times, her actions aren't well thought out, but this isn't surprising considering her background. Her stubbornness and inability to see past some things, on the other hand, made her hard to like. She's simply lacking a little needed warmth. Tarik is a more than able king. Sometimes, his wisdom was too advanced for his experience and age but his character was likable. He makes solid decisions, has noble intentions and does the really the best he can with the situations and information he faces. His special 'ability' adds a wonderful and needed twist to the story.

This is the first novel in a series, and the problems Sepora faces are only starting. There is intrigue, many kingdoms to balance out and many more difficulties to come before things are worked out. But it wasn't enough. The relationship between Tarik and Sepora, as well as Sepora's mistrust, takes center stage and dominates the plot. It could have been so much richer. The intrigue is there but skims over depth, and several characters are missing more meaning and purpose. Much of this is probably still to come but it was missed in this first installment.

But this was an engaging read. It was entertaining, grabbed until the last page and promises an interesting tale. The world is a treat, and there is so much still unexplored which hints at an exciting series. Young adult fans of fantasy with hard-won romance and a love for princesses striving to save the world are sure to enjoy this one.








Review: Ally-saurus & The Very Bossy Monster by Richard Torrey


ALLY-SAURUS & THE VERY BOSSY MONSTER
by Richard Torrey
Sterling Children's Books
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 and up


What happens when a bossy new girl tries to make everyone play by her rules? 
Ally-saurus is back—and ROARING louder than ever! 

Ally-saurus and her friends always have lots of fun playing pretend. They stomp, they roar, they dance, each in their own way. But new girl Maddie wants everyone to play by HER rules. “Monsters can’t be dinosaurs or dancers,” she insists. Worst of all, she won’t let little Petey have his teddy bear! Can Ally-saurus help Maddie understand that bossiness is no fun at all?  With charm and humor, Richard Torrey teaches a gentle lesson in respecting each other’s differences . . . and playing nice.
 



 MY TIDBITS

The power of imagination combines with an enthusiastic heroine to tame even the fiercest monsters of reality.

Ally and her friends love to pretend, and each has a favorite role they slip into--dinosaurs, a performer, and a bear. . .kind of. The three have so much fun until the new girl in the neighborhood, Maddie, steps in and wants to lay down tons of rules. All of which serve her purposes, of course. Ally and her friends want to be nice and try to play along, but at one point, things get out of hand.

Imagination flows from every page, letting its magic unfold as Ally and her friends are swallowed up in their own delightful worlds. The role play is something many kids do every day. Readers/listeners will have no problem understanding Ally and feel the urge to follow in her dinosaur footsteps or slip into a fantasy all of their own. The illustrations do a fantastic job of bringing this 'extra' skin to life, and mold reality with fantasy, while, at the same time, keeping it clear which is which. The balance between black and white with only gentle colors in the background, hold the focus on Ally and her friends. The crayon outlines building the imaginary roles onto the characters, make it clear how the characters see themselves (and let the reader sink into this game) while still keeping a solid foot in reality. The combination is simply clever.

When Maddie steps in, her monster shines through. Her actions and words bring cringes as she falls into a mold kids will recognize from their own experiences. But Maddie's own uncertainty comes across as well. Ally handles the situation with a bit of hesitation, but then total finesse. And the ending is an inspiration, which offers a solution readers can maybe use themselves.


And here he is. . .

Richard Torrey is an author, artist, and editorial cartoonist. He has written and illustrated 15 books, including Sterling's Ally-saurus & the First Day of School (2015); the popular Beans and Baker series for Random House; and the three-book series Almost, Why?, and Because for harperCollins. he's also illiustrated dozens of books for Simon & Schuster, Golden Books, McGraw-Hill, and Scholastic; has had his art published in Highlights, KidCity, and Inside Sports; and has created a successful line of greeting cards for Recycled Paper Greetings.

Richard lives in Shoreham, NY and is available for interview. Visit him online at:

RichardTorrey.com
Twitter: @richtorrey
Instagram: @richardtorrey
Facebook: RichardTorreysBooks


Cover Reveal: Rebellious Heart by L.L. Hunter




Rebellious Heart
by L.L. Hunter 
 YA Dystopian/Sci-Fi
Cover Designer: Desiree DeOrto
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR


COMING. . .
SEPTEMBER 30th, 2017!!!
 Four years after Skye became the youngest president in history, and returned precious resources to her people,
She had hoped this would mean the end of the war.
But there is still a threat.
An enemy once thought dead has returned from the grave to exact revenge, and he won’t rest until he gets what he wants.
In the quest to give herself some credibility despite her young age, and to defeat their enemy, Skye, Lukas and their friends devise a plan to distract their enemy using a decoy, while they go in for the kill.
But, when their plan goes south,
Lukas and Skye must do whatever it takes to save their people and the world from ruin.
Even if it means betraying those they love the most.
In the thrilling conclusion to the Molten Heart Saga,
When matters of the heart are concerned,
Risks will be taken.



L.L. Hunter is the author of over 20 published works, including The Legend of the Archangel Series and The Garden of Eden. She has studied everything from veterinary nursing, forensic science, and dramatic arts, but has always known her true calling was to be an author. 

She has been writing since her teens - everything from fan fiction, to song lyrics, to plays and musicals. When not working on her next paranormal romance, she can be found at home in Australia, reading somewhere comfortable with one or both of her “fur babies.” Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @llhunterbooks, and her blog - http://llhunter.blogspot.com.au.

Pre-Order Links: Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2x19U9E