Thursday, February 22, 2018

Review: October Jones by J.D. McFarren

October Jones
The Lightning Pines Mystery
by J.D. McFarren
Middle Grade Mystery
ages 9 and up

October Jones is an adventurous, street-smart, and scrappy boy whose curiosity often leads to trouble, but ends up being his saving grace. When a series of crimes occur in Lightning Pines Cemetery, October thinks he knows who is behind it all, but his mission to solve the mystery is hindered by a meddling teacher, class bullies, false leads, and getting grounded. His impulsive nature and penchant for mischief leads his own father to believe that October might be the prime suspect. With the help from his pragmatic sister. April and his two best friends (Joey Franklin and Randy Cho), October works to solve the mystery of Lightning Pines and to clear his name. 


Packed with curiosity and a good dash of trouble, this sleuth is sure to get to the bottom of things. . .even if he winds up with house arrest and detention on the way.

With already the second letter from his teacher in hand, October Jones knows he's in trouble.but luckily, his father is too busy to immediately take notice. The cemetery has been vandalized. While his father waits for the police to gather their evidence, October takes things into his own hands because he has an idea who the criminal might be. But nothing is as clear-cut as October had hoped, and he ends up getting himself put into the suspect spotlight instead. He has to clear his name, but it will take all kinds of rule breaking, wiggling, and luck to do it, especially since he's no longer sure who the real criminal is.

October Jones is not the average sleuth, although he is smart in his own way and wears curiosity like a second skin. High intellect, special investigation skills and technology, however, have nothing to do with him. This mystery is solved with common sense, tons of wrong deductions and the ability to squirm around rules and troubles with finesse. October Jones is a character especially boys will easily relate to and see some of themselves in his antics along the way.

Despite October Jones's sharp corners, he's a nice kid who really tries to do the right thing. And he has a great ring of friends to prove it. Even his older sister, who can be a pain at times, has a nice relationship with him as does the father, although he has no choice but to punish October at times. The interactions are natural, supportive and caring even when everyone doesn't always agree.

As to pacing, this story isn't easy to set down. Something is always happening, and it's never simple to guess what surprises will pop up next. October's deductions are logical and sound, but that doesn't mean they're always right. It's this uncertainty which keeps the reader guessing until the end. To the joy of reluctant readers, the end doesn't take forever to reach. The story is quick, short and holds action the entire way through, keeping even readers with lower attention spans glued to the pages. After all, October Jones is probably not a long novel reader himself.

Summed up, this is a great beginning to a fun series. The mystery is very age appropriate and comes across as natural as the adventures of the kids next door. . .just much more exciting.

And here he is. . .

My name is J.D. McFarren. I'm a writer and candle maker living in the Hudson River Valley of upstate New York, in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. I have a masters in Cultural Development and work at a private college.
I write both fiction and nonfiction for children and adults with publications in Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore, Helen: A Literary Magazine, and Warm Brothers Magazine. I am the author of October Jones: 
The Lightning Pines Mystery, which is the first in a planned series of books for kids.
Ten-year-old October Jones popped into my head and wouldn't leave me alone
for a few months before his story came to me one day while I was walking my
dogs through a local cemetery. October and his friends are fun to write about, 
and a lot of the places in the book are based on where I grew up. I miss being 
a kid, but writing about October lets me relive my childhood with all of its
mystery, excitement, and wonder.

Trailer Reveal: First Life by Rose Garcia with Giveaway

First Life
by Rose Garcia
YA Sci-Fi/Paranormal 

COMING. . . 
MARCH 15th, 2018!!!

Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

Dominique has survived the final attempt on her life only to discover that someone connected to her future will suffer her same fate. Determined to spare this innocent loved one from being hunted for lifetimes, Dominique and her remaining allies travel to first life with a mission to alter destiny. When Dominique and her companions arrive in the past, they are confronted with a reality they didn’t expect, and are shocked by a turn of events that threaten to change everything they know.
A continuation of the Final Life Series that starts where Final Death leaves off, First Life delivers heart-stopping action and gut-wrenching emotional turmoil. Be sure to read Final Life, Final Stand, and Final Death before delving into the unpredictable world of First Life.

Rose Garcia is a lawyer turned writer who’s always been fascinated by science fiction and fantasy. From a very young age, she often had her nose buried in books about other-worlds, fantastical creatures, and life and death situations. More recently she’s been intrigued by a blend of science fiction and reality, and the idea that some supernatural events are, indeed, very real. Fueled by her imagination, she created The Final Life Series—a Young Adult science fiction/fantasy series about people who have the ability to control the energy in and around them. Rose is known for bringing richly diverse characters to life as she draws from her own cultural experiences. Rose lives in Houston, Texas with her awesome husband and two amazing kids.
You can visit Rose at

Author Links: Facebook Author Page:
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YouTube Channel:

First Life Pre-Order Link: 
Buy Links for Final Life Series:
Final Life: (FREE)
- Amazon UK:
Final Stand:
-Amazon UK:
Final Death:
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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review: Where Did My Friend Go? Helping Children Cope with a Traumatic Death by Azmaira E. Maker, Ph. D.

by Azmaira E. Maker, Ph. D.
Aspiring Families Press
30 pages

The world can be a violent place. Although you try to shelter your children, terrible things can happen at any moment. As a parent, you want to protect them, but this isn't always possible. The best thing you can do for your children is make sure you are prepared to help them after a sudden death or other traumatic experience.

Where Did My Friend Go? was written by clinical psychologist and child-development specialist Azmaira H. Maker, PhD, to help adults discuss a traumatic death and bereavement with children ages three to eight years old. Children will read along as the protagonist talks about the sudden loss of a friend and asks adults important questions about dying, grief, and safety.

Dr. Maker has spent her career working with children and families. She understands how witnessing-or even simply hearing about-a violent and sudden death can leave children traumatized, frightened, and confused. Dr. Maker's new picture book allows children to cope with their feelings and questions in a calm and nurturing context.

The book includes a guide for adults and a list of discussion questions to help children and adults talk honestly about the difficult emotions that arise after the sudden loss of a loved one. Through conversations, pictures, sculpture, playacting, and more, children can share their fears, learn how to cope, and receive appropriate reassurance about their own safety.


This is a gentle guide to assist parents, teachers and care takers help children who are close to the victim or have witnessed a traumatic death.

Starting with a personal note to the child, the author directly heads into a few words for the parent or adult using this book. This section is probably the most important and should be read through with care, since it isn't a book or its pictures which help children, but the personal interaction and ability to deal with the issue on an individual level. The author simply entitles these two pages 'Note To Adults' but I think it would have be beneficial to add a little more urgency to make sure these leading two pages aren't ignored or shoved aside because this is what determines how well the rest of the text and photos come across.

This isn't a book full of text, but rather harbors a lovely presentation of what a child might be thinking, questions it might have, and/or fears it might be hiding. Each two-page spread contains a big photograph of everyday children doing everyday things but slightly blurred with a dreamy effect. A few short, easy and direct phrases accompany each photo, which bring up simple starting points in thoughts and questions from which kids can open up or consider how they might respond. It's simple enough for even younger children to understand.

The wording and pictures are well done, and the book offers a wonderful basis for opening up to otherwise difficult but necessary discussion. But while the formatting is smooth, the set-up doesn't really invite to pause and discussions. Instead, the book lures to be read through like a normal picture book. But if done in this manner, it looses its value and doesn't offer much help or comfort. When my kids picked this up on their own, they were quite upset, which surprised me but also emphasized how important the notes to the adults are in the beginning.

As with all self-help and assistance books, this isn't one to be used without careful consideration of the child and the circumstances first. It is very focused on a certain target audience: young children who have witnessed a traumatic death of one of their friends or stand extremely close to such an experience. And even then, not all children have the same needs. Still, in the right circumstances and with proper use, this can be a helpful book.

And here she is. . .

Dr. Azmaira H. Maker, Ph.D, licensed clinical psychologist, author, speaker and expert in child development, parenting, and psychotherapy, has twenty years experience and has taught graduate and undergraduate students, published several articles in professional psychology journals, and is the author of Family Changes, which will educate, enlighten, and empower families going through divorce. (from Goodreads)

You can find more:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tribal Affairs by Matt Dallmann with Giveaway

Tribal Affairs
Matt Dallmann
 YA Fantasy
277 pages

Tour dates: Feb 5 to 23, 2018
Content Rating: G (No bad language or sex)

Dahlia, a centuries-old genie, lies hopelessly trapped in a damaged golden locket charm attached to an ankle bracelet. Its owner, sixteen-year-old Liana, wears it for the first time during her father Jamison’s opening night illusion spectacular. Not only does its presence cause Jamison to folly his performance, but it also starts a chain of bizarre events that lead to a showdown with Dahlia’s mortal enemy, Stefan, and an unsuspecting romance between Liana and his son.

And here he is. . .

Matt Dallmann has a background in acting and holds a BFA from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. His films and screenplays have been featured at film festivals across the United States including Cinequest, Big Apple Film Festival, Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival, DragonCon and Zero Independent Film Festival. His piano compositions have been published for commercial use and he is a member of ASCAP. Matt is also the Co-Founder and Vice President of the boutique medical billing firm VGA Billing Services, Inc. in New York City. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Pinerest

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends March 3, 2018

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Happy Book Birthday, Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon By M.R. Anglin with Giveaway!

Prince of the Sun, 
Princess of the Moon

By M.R. Anglin
YA Fantasy/Adventure 
Published by Clean Reads

For years the Moon Palace in the Valley of Aijalon and the Sun Tower in the Plains of Jashar has stood as testaments to the power of the sun and the graciousness of the moon. Helio and Lumina, Guardians of the sun and moon, kept watch over them and the Prince and the Princess who ruled them. But the Prince and Princess are missing, and the sun is exhibiting strange behavior. Now Joshua and his younger sister, Deborah, must untangle a web of lies and deceit to uncover the secret of who they really are and save their world from an imminent disaster brewing in the heavens. And they must hurry. Between the earthquakes, the sun and moon standing still in the sky, and the planet Jants hovering closer than it’s ever been, the planet could be torn apart before they have a chance to do something about it.



“Mr. Delango.” Mrs. Blaine’s voice sliced through the air, jarring Joshua out of his thoughts.
He jumped to his feet. “Yes, ma’am.” All around him snickers erupted as each of his classmates stared at him. Joshua stifled a groan. Judging by their reaction, he had missed something important.
“Perhaps you would like to elaborate on our topic?” Mrs. Blaine motioned to the blackboard.
Joshua winced. He had been staring out of the window and had no idea what she had been talking about.
His best friend, Neil, shrugged. With his skin the complexion of milk and Joshua’s the complexion of chocolate, Neil always said together they were two halves of the best drink ever to have been invented.
But now he shook his head at Joshua. “I tried to warn you,” he mouthed.
Joshua cleared his throat. “You are doing such a fantastic job at explaining this, Mrs. Blaine, I can’t elaborate.” He punctuated the remark with a smile meant to charm her.
“I think you can.” Mrs. Blaine pointed to the board. “Why don’t you come up and fill out this diagram?”
Joshua bit back a comment and made his way to the front of the classroom. The walls were white, and though Mrs. Blaine had set a plastic, potted tree in the corner, there were no posters or papers on the walls . . . just a blackboard where Mrs. Blaine wrote her lessons . . . not at all like the other teachers’ classes with their motivational posters and charts plastered all over the walls.
“No distractions for wayward thinking children,” Mrs. Blaine had said the first time someone remarked on the lack of decoration.
Joshua took the chalk from her and approached the blackboard. Empty spaces in the diagram she had written mocked him, but the words, “Planet/Celestial Body” and “Guardian” were written in separate columns at the top. At least Joshua knew what she was talking about now—the solar system and its Guardians.
“Fill it out.” Mrs. Blaine smirked. “Unless you aren’t smart enough to goof off in class and still retain the information.”
Again his classmates snickered.
Joshua took a deep breath and studied the diagram. Then he raised his chalk and wrote:
Planet/Celestial Body
Geon’s moon

Once finished, he faced Mrs. Blaine. “Is that correct?” He held out the chalk to her.
No one snickered now . . . well, except Neil. His face had surged red with the effort of stifling his laughter. To date, no one had bested Mrs. Blaine at her game to humiliate students who weren’t paying attention. In fact, Mrs. Blaine herself stared at the diagram Joshua had written with her mouth set.
Her eyes narrowed. “Go sit down.”
Joshua shot a smile at her as he went.
“See me after class,” Mrs. Blaine said.
Joshua winced. One smart gesture too far.
“The rest of you, commit this chart to memory.” Mrs. Blaine tapped the blackboard. “It will be on the test next week.”
“Dude, are you crazy?” Neil leaned over to him as Joshua sat. Joshua had to bite back a smile. His friend acted like he had been the one called in after class. “She’s going to hate you now.”
Joshua shrugged. “I’ve got more important things to worry about.”
“Like what?” Neil whispered, copying the diagram.
“Like . . .” Joshua stared full into the sun. “I think the sun is off by two minutes.”
Neil paused in his writing. “What?”
“The sun.” Joshua glanced at Mrs. Blaine to make sure she wasn’t watching. “It should be a little to the right. It’s in the wrong place.”
“Have you been moon-bathing or something? You’re as batty as a night-person.”
Joshua scowled at his friend. “Don’t say that.”
But Neil went on, ignoring Joshua’s annoyance, or . . . more likely . . . not noticing it at all. “The sun can’t be in the wrong place. It’s impossible.”
“Maybe.” Joshua could overlook his friend’s oversight. After all, he didn’t know how offensive the saying was. “But I’ve done the calculations over and over—”
“Done the calculations?” Neil snickered. “What do you know about calculations like those? There are smart people in the capital whose job it is to watch the sun. Don’t you think they would have said something if the sun was in the wrong place?”
“I guess . . .” Joshua faced the front of the class where Mrs. Blaine continued her lesson. He wrote the diagram down, more to get his mind off of the nagging feeling in the back of his mind than because he needed to remember it. Neil was right; Joshua had to be wrong. After all, Helio, the Guardian of the sun, was the epitome of precision. The sun would never drift out of position on his watch.
Still . . . a feeling, like a stone sitting in his stomach, told Joshua something was amiss. He had seen the sun doing strange things before. The other day he thought he saw it flickering, and the day before he was certain its rays were less intense than they should have been.
Joshua swallowed the knot rising in his throat and resisted the urge to fiddle with the gold necklace he wore hidden under his shirt. If something was wrong with the sun, he had more than filling out diagrams and studying for tests to worry about.
They all did.


And here she is. . .

M.R. Anglin has always had a fascination with space—particularly the moon and stars. She also has three amazing nephews, two adorable “near-nephews,” and one brilliant niece, so it’s no wonder she eventually wrote a story that combines these loves into one. You can often find her gazing up at the Florida sky at night or hunching over her notebook/computer by day. She is the author of the Middle Grade novel, Lucas, Guardian of Truth, the self-published Silver Foxes series. She has also been included in the Coyotl Award winning anthology, Gods With Fur (FurPlanet 2016) and Extinct? (Wolfsinger 2017).

Twitter: @authoranglin