Review: Karmack

Title: Karmack
Author: J.C. Whyte
Publisher:  Muse It Up Publishing
Release Date: June 2013
Length: 140 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Middle Grades, Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

Everyone knows Curtis “Sully” Sullenburg is the toughest kid at Higgins Elementary. For years, he and his gang have tormented students and teachers alike with their pranks. And for the most part, they’ve gotten away with it. But all that changes when a strange little creature appears on the scene. From that point on, pranks start coming back like boomerangs, smacking Sully’s gang right in their fifth grade butts!

Sully is the only one who can see this creature, which he names Karmack. The little guy claims to be a nature spirit whose job is to balance all the bad karma the boys have amassed over the years. Because if Karmack fails, these boys will undoubtedly suffer “dreadful, awful doom”. Just like that kid who shot at crows with his BB gun – one day he crashed his bike into a pigeon coop and emerged as the Abominable Snowman of bird poop! Yeah, that kind of doom.

Sully soon realizes he must save not only himself but his friends from Karmack’s doom, even though they have no idea why they keep getting boomeranged!

***** Review *****

Sully, Breeze and Gonzo (also known as Curtis Sullenburg, Matthew Brezinski, and Carlos Gonzalez) were the toughest dudes in fifth grade. Everyone knew these three were definitely trouble. And the worst was Sully, their leader.

Sully is the ringleader, The Big Cheese. There’s none bigger, and he has the whole fifth grade living in fear of his wrath. One wrong look, and you get clobbered.

That is, until one day Sully and his gang are chasing down the squealer. They manage to corner him in the alley at the bank, and just as one of his gang is going in for the clobber, a bunch of snow falls off the roof and hits him. HARD. Sully looks up and sees this…creature.

As the days go on, Sully continues to see this creature around town and at school. Sully isn’t sure why he is the only one who is able to see the little guy, but he is out for blood.

Sully and the creature wrestled on the ground for only a few moments. The creature seemed to realize that fighting a bigger, stronger opponent would be useless. So it shouted, “Leggo, leggo.” And Sully mostly did. Yet he kept one hand clamped around the creature’s wrist so it couldn’t run off. 

The boy sat down on a nearby log and pulled the creature before him to take a look at what he’d caught. He saw that it was exceedingly ugly, with a great bulbous nose, beady green eyes, and a very round midsection. Dark green hair sprouted like thick blades of grass from one spot on the top if its head. And its clothes, well…they were really just a bunch of leaves twisted together to form a sleeveless tunic. The creature’s brownish arms and legs poked through the tunic like tree branches. 

“You look like a little tree,” concluded Sully. “But I know you ain’t. What are you?”

As if resigning itself to the status of prisoner, the creature looked down and mumbled, “I’s be karmic balancer.”

Karmack is quite nimble and so fast most don’t see him. It’s very rare for anyone to see him, but he’s been sent to balance the karma in Sully’s life…and those of his gang. Their skyscraper of bad tricks is getting to tall and it’s about to come crashing down. That’s Karmack’s job.

Sully goes back and forth with Karmack, and tries to convince Karmack that his behaviors and actions are just practical jokes on others. That’s what Sully keeps telling himself, but Karmack is still the karmic balancer and does his job.

The dialogue between Sully and Karmack is quite humorous, and Karmack warns Sully that one of his friends’ skyscrapers is about to fall. Being a good friend, Sully does everything he can to stop his friends from doing bad things, but eventually the skyscraper comes falling down. Sully knows there is a way to cheat his own skyscraper down, and he’s trying to figure out how to do that.

Even though Sully is turning himself around, maturing, and keeping his nose clean, when a mustache appears on a sentimental photo in his teacher’s drawer and halts the fifth grade field trip, everyone thinks it’s Sully whose done it…and for revenge. Sully makes a choice that changes his fate and his karma.

Sully goes through a lot of personal growth throughout his fifth grade year. He discovers it’s not always fun and games when you’re bullying others. He also discovers the power of love and attraction. He doesn’t know why he likes this one particular girl, but she always makes him smile and do good things.

This is a great book to read for younger, elementary-aged children. It is interesting to see the turn-around in Sully throughout the year, and how he tries to help others and cheat down his own skyscraper by doing good things.

***** About the Author *****

J.C. Whyte discovered her love for writing at the age of eleven when her 6th grade teacher told the class to write a poem about a sport. She knew her classmates would probably choose a popular sport like baseball or football, so J.C. chose to write a funny poem about golf. To her surprise, the teacher really loved it and encouraged J.C. to continue writing. So she did.

Then that summer, students were told to choose 26 books from a reading list, read them and write a book report on each. BLAH! J.C. wanted to enjoy her summer, not spend it reading. Back then, she was a very slow reader and didn’t much enjoy the experience. Plus, kids didn’t have the fun books which are available today. But her wise teacher told J.C. she could write 26 stories instead of reading them. That was genius. J.C. didn’t actually write a full 26 stories, but she wrote at least one which made her teacher laugh out loud in class. And the teacher gave her an “A” on her summer reading assignment. J.C. never forgot that wise and wonderful teacher who let the budding author play to her strengths.

So as a result, J.C. knew at an early age she wanted to become a professional writer. Yet when she reached college, she also understood that writing stories seldom paid the bills. So she got her degrees in Journalism and Communications Management. Then for many years she channeled her creative energies into the field of Public Relations.

Marriage, kids, and several more degrees and occupations later (including stints as a travel agent and paralegal), J.C. entered law school – mostly because of the challenge of writing creative arguments for the court. But while in law school, she became a columnist for the student newsletter, writing humorous pieces on the strange and quirky life of a law student. She was thrilled when one of these articles was chosen for publication in The National Jurist, a magazine distributed to law students throughout the USA.

But after graduating and passing the Bar, J.C. realized within a few years that creative writing was still what made her heart sing. So now, as a grandma, she’s returned to writing for children. And with the publication of Karmack, J.C. has come full circle, back to where her writing journey truly began. .

Find the author: Website | Goodreads

Review: Darkness Rising (Catmage Chronicles)

Title: Darkness Rising
Author: Meryl Yourish
Publisher: MAY Publishing
Release Date: September 2012
Length: 264 pages
Series?: Catmage Chronicles #1
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

It’s been hundreds of years since the Darkness last surfaced, a grim time when both humans and Catmages lost their lives. But now the Wild Ones work with humans again, and thirteen-year-old Andy Cohen gets the surprise of his life when a talking cat shows up in his front yard. Goldeneyes, a powerful Catmage, needs Andy’s help. In the exciting first installment of this new series, Meryl Yourish takes the reader into a world of magical cats, dark powers, and a boy who finds himself entangled in their war.

***** Review *****

Darkness Rising is the first in the YA series The Catmage Chronicles. I’m not sure I would categorize it as YA and fantasy, because it does have some darker elements to it.

There are a wide range of characters, including the Catmages, Andy and his band of friends (and enemies!), and the Catmage antagonist and his gang. Some of the Catmages have two names, like Goldeneyes, where one is more of a nickname.

Andy is the one whom the Catmages are searching for in order to help defeat the Darkness, which has risen up again after nearly three hundred years. The Son of Aaron is who can help save the Catmages. He is a young teen coming from a single-parent home. It turns out he can identify quite a bit with Goldeneyes, and they form a strong bond with one another. In many ways, Andy is the kind of kid you want to be your friend: loyal, kind and protective.

The world building of the Catmage society and their history was woven in perfectly, as Goldeneyes teaches Andy about her life. As it turns out, when Goldeneyes briefs Andy on all of this, the last time the Darkness rose coincided perfectly with the Salem witch trials. The Wild Ones, those expelled for breaking the Laws of Secrecy and other laws, are responsible yet again for the Darkness rising up.

The Catmages have a council and a Compound where they reside, and the Wild Ones and the Evil One have invaded. Life for Catmages is in turmoil. At the core of the conflict are political agendas and strife. A greed for power.

Unfortunately, the Evil One has captured one of the wisest and most powerful of the Catmages – Goldeneyes’ grandmother – and the prophecy states that Andy is the way to defeating the Darkness. Goldeneyes and her catty friends are helping Andy – and later his friends – to figure out how to rescue Nafshi from the Evil One.

There’s just a bigger problem: the Evil One knows who Andy is, and how to manipulate him to his advantage. Andy has his own set of problems at school, headed by Taylor the bully, who creates problem after problem for Andy.

The relationships in this first installment are what make this book strong and complete, from the Catmages to the humans and everywhere in between. Plus, the Evil One’s neighbor seems to be the only person the Evil One fears. Mackie is great!

***** About the Author *****

Meryl Yourish is a graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fanstasy Writers Workshop (1990, Michigan State University). She has been writing since the ninth grade, when her very first short story was published in the Parents Night magazine.

Meryl spent most of her life in northeastern New Jersey. She moved to Richmond, VA in 2002, where she lives with two cats that look suspiciously like Goldeneyes and Letsan.

Find the author: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: The Wishing Spell

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Title: The Wishing Spell
Author: Chris Colfer
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Release Date: July 2012
Length: 438 pages
Series?: The Land of Stories #1
Genre: Middle Grades, Fantasy, Retelling

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

The Land of Stories tells tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.

***** Review *****

I picked up this book because I thought it would be interesting. I had no clue who the author was until after I had finished the book. (What? I don’t watch TV.)

However, Chris Colfer’s acting career aside, the man can write. He’s taken the classic and beloved fairy tales we grew up with and thrown in some interesting quirks and some very interesting twists. AND he’s done it with a heap of humor.

Alex and Connor, twins, have suffered a devastating loss in the last year: their fairy-tale and story-loving father. They even had to move out of their house. After their grandmother comes to visit, she leaves them with their father’s book, The Land of Stories. Alex is consumed by the book, and it lands the twins not only in big trouble, but big danger, too!

“I was just thinking,” Conner said. “Alice went to Wonderland after she fell into a rabbit hole. Dorothy’s whole house was scooped up by a tornado that dropped her off in Oz. The Narnia kids traveled through an old wardrobe. . . and we ended up in the fairy-​tale world by falling through a book.”

“Where are you going with this, Conner?” Alex said.

“I’m just saying, it’s kind of lame compared to the others,” Conner said with another sigh.

Alex is a very sentimental, caring and kind young girl. Connor, on the other hand, is slightly obnoxious and quite funny, and there were many times I agreed with some of his thoughts and comments.

They discover there is a spell that will grant any wish, so after getting their bearings in this new fairy tale world they set off in hunt of all of the items from the book. They know that the spell has been used once before, and it can only be used twice, and it is their only hope of getting home.  It’s not going to be easy, though, with a land so vast!

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Unknown to them until encounters with various fairy tale characters, someone else is after all of the items for the Wishing Spell as well…and she will do anything to get them.

I LOVED this book….so much so that the week after I finished it, I saw the second book at my school’s book fair and snatched it up!

I highly recommend this book to anyone. It is an incredible story with a few twists to fairy tales as we know it. I am hoping to somehow incorporate this book into my classroom.

***** About the Author *****

4919495Chris Colfer is an Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actor best-known for his portrayal of Kurt Hummel on the FOX television series “Glee”.

He is also a New York Times bestselling author whose books include the first three novels in the “Land of Stories” series (“The Wishing Spell”, “The Enchantress Returns” and “A Grimm Warning”) as well as “Struck By Lightning: The Carson Philips Journal” which is a novelization based on the script he wrote for the film “Struck By Lighting” (Colfer also co-produced and starred in that movie).

Find the author:  WebsiteTwitter | Goodreads

Review + Giveaway: The Witching Elm

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Welcome to my tour stop for The Witching Elm by C.N. Crawford. This is a YA dark fantasy and the review tour runs February 2nd-13th. Check out the tour page for more information.

on sale Feb. 5-11th for only .99 cents!

The Witching ElmTitle: The Witching Elm
Author: C.N. Crawford
Release Date: December 2014
Length: 316 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Fantasy, YA

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Seventeen-year-old sorcerer Toby Corvin has one desire: to get back to Maremount, a world of talking ravens, ancient spells, and sinister bone wardens. Not only to fight a tyrannical monster, but to reunite with his girlfriend.

There’s only one problem—he’s stuck in downtown Boston.

After a brutal civil war forced Toby into our world, he took refuge in Mather Academy, blending in with the students in the prestigious boarding school. Sheltering in its creaky old walls, he secretly plots to save his home.

But if anything can distract him from his mission, it’s his wild-haired and intriguing classmate Fiona. Of course, she has her own distractions with Jack: rich, mysterious, and annoyingly attractive.

When a ghostly army from Maremount descends upon Boston, Toby and Fiona must work together, racing desperately to stop the slaughter. In the process, they face unspeakable danger while unearthing dark secrets of New England’s past—a past that holds the key to saving both worlds from destruction.

***** Review *****

Toby is a young man from a parallel, older world. Even though Boston has changed quite a bit, some things are still the same. He takes up residence at Mather Academy and quite quickly integrates and makes friends. What surprised me was how quickly he revealed his story to Fiona and the bunch.

The bunch is quite a handful, and in the beginning I was confused about the characters because there seemed to be just a few too many and they all of a sudden band together almost immediately to go on what seems like a wild goose chase for an unknown poem about King Phillip. That part was a bit wild, but what happens near Mather Academy is even wilder and they need each other every bit to keep their world safe.

The beginning was a bit rough for me to get into with all of Toby’s story, and the backstory and history of his world…that starts colliding with current-day Boston. Everything revolves around the Salem witch hunt, with two very distinct groups of people from that time and Toby’s world of Maremont: the Ragmen (aka the good guys) and the Purgators.

The Blodrial cult is called the Purgators. They’re a cult of witch hunters. They started in ancient Rome. The witch-hunting Kings, James and Charles the First, were both members. The Purgators led the witch hunts in England.

I was thrown for quite a few loops throughout the book, and I can definitely say this is indeed a dark fantasy.

***** About the Author *****

CN_CrawfordC.N. Crawford is not one person but two. Christine (C) grew up in the historic town of Lexington, and has a lifelong interest in New England folklore – with a particular fondness for creepy old cemeteries. Nick (N) spent his childhood reading fantasy and science fiction further north during Vermont’s long winters.

Together they work to incorporate real historical events and figures into contemporary urban fantasy novels.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

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1st Prize ~ Ring & Necklace handmade by the author
2nd Prizes
2nd prize ~ Piece of jewelry handmade by the author 
***10 winners!***
Each item has a fragment of a love spell from the book.
Open to US/CA/UK

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Guest Post + Review + Giveaway: Henge

 

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Henge by Realm Lovejoy is a YA Fantasy that is a modern spin-off of the Arthurian legends featuring Morgan Le Fay as the protagonist. This tour will consist of reviews, interviews & guest posts. Check out the full schedule for more information.

Title: Henge
Author: Caroline Healy
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (Sparks)
Release Date: August 2014
Length: 250 pages
Series?: no
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Modern-day Camelot. Where knights no longer carry swords. Magic is dangerous. And those who seek control are not to be trusted.

23151530Sixteen-year-old Morgan le Fay is a fire user. An ordinary girl with an extraordinary skill, she has the ability to create and command fire at will. Her dream is to become the Maven—the right hand of the future King Arthur. In the chance of a lifetime, Morgan is selected to join Arthur’s Round, an elite group of young magic users from which the new Maven will be chosen.

Along with the other fire, water, and wind users in Arthur’s Round, Morgan is rigorously trained and tested. The handsome Merlin, a brilliant water user, takes a particular interest in her. Is his friendship to be trusted, or is Merlin simply trying to win the position of Maven for himself? Among the many rivals Morgan faces is the current Maven, Mordred, who seems determined to see her fail.

But Morgan has a secret—years ago, her mother was executed for using fire magic, and Morgan’s desire for justice makes her more than ready to take on the challenge before her. Can she prevail in Camelot’s tests of survival and magic? Only time—and Morgan’s powerful fire—will tell.

Realm Lovejoy’s modern Arthurian series features one of literature’s most complicated and powerful female figures. Henge is the first book in the LE FAY series, and—like Morgan le Fay’s magic—it is sure to dazzle and amaze.

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***** Guest Post *****

I am lucky to be able to design my own covers since I work as an artist for my day job in the video game industry. I have experience in setting and character design as well as branding and mocking up box art concepts. When I first come up with a story, I usually already have the cover idea in my mind since I am very visual and I like to encompass the story into a cocoon of symbols and colors.

Process-wise, I distill the concept of the book into one symbol, key color, and general mood and style. For example, the cover of Clan, my first book, is very sci-fi and modern looking. It’s minimalist to reflect the world the characters live in and the blue color conveys coldness. The broken stick figure pops out–it’s about being different in a culture that’s supposed to be unified. It all sounds simple when I describe it like that, but I did try all different ideas to see what’d come of it. In the end, my first and most simple ideas tend to work best.

For Henge, it was a bit of a different process since it’s a series with many symbols. The core concept is Morgan le Fay herself. The focus is what’s in her mind and her own battle within herself. She is flawed and complex but also a hero. I wanted to feature her as an iconic woman and show a hero shot for the series book covers. I hope readers look into her eyes and want to know her story. For the first book, the mood is mysterious and suspenseful so I set the cover up that way and put the Henge scene in the background. I admit that I already know what’s going to be on the cover of all the books in the series and can’t wait to share them with everybody.

***** REVIEW *****

This is indeed a Camelot meets Hogwarts meets Panem type of story. Morgan le Fay has (nearly) mastered her talent of fire. She takes hold of a chance of a lifetime and enters into a competition in hopes of being selected as the next Maven, the right-hand of the next king. Morgan had a premonition in which she becomes Maven, and sees so much more in her vision of what is to come.

There’s one thing, though: her mother was executed for use of her fire magic. No one besides the father knows that she bore a child. Morgan can’t let loose any of this information in Camelot. Nearly burning down Mordred, the man who executed her mother, lands Morgan in some very hot water.

As Morgan makes her way around Camelot and through the Rounds and the magic testing, she soon realizes there are many connections in Camelot. All of the major characters from Arthurian legend appear throughout, in the same context as they appear in Arthurian legend, but their positions are slightly different. It’s as if Henge is a retelling with a different beginning but with the ending we know.

I liked Morgan’s character. She is a very determined girl, with a sensible head on her shoulders. She loves her father deeply and has the capacity for a great amount of guilt, but it is equally weighed and measured with her ambition to go forward with her dreams.

She meets Merlin in the Rounds, and he is an exceptional water user. He is an oddity of a character. I couldn’t quite get a grasp on Merlin for a while, but he comes to Morgan’s aid and I was quite impressed!

 

***** About the Author *****

7339930Realm Lovejoy is an American writer and an artist. She grew up in both Washington State and the Japanese Alps of Nagano, Japan. Currently, she lives in Seattle and works as an artist in the video game industry. CLAN is her first book. You can find out more about her and her book at http://www.realmlovejoy.com

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

*****Giveaway*****

This is a large giveaway, ending November 28th. Prizes include:
-signed paperback of Henge + swag (US)
-4 paperbacks of Henge (US)
-6 ebooks (INT)
-1 ebook + $20 Gift Card (INT)

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Top Ten + Review + Giveaway: Blood Entwines

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Blood Entwines by Caroline Healy is a YA Urban Fantasy published by Bloomsbury Publishing (Sparks). The tour runs October 20th- November 16th with reviews, interviews & guest posts. Check out the tour page and schedule.

Title: Blood Entwines
Author: Caroline Healy
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (Sparks)
Release Date: August 2014
Length: 250 pages
Series?: no
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | Bloomsbury

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A dark compelling story of love and its more sinister elements…possession.

In the aftermath of a blood transfusion that saved her life, Kara feels different. Her senses are stronger … she can hear whispered comments not meant for her ears … she can hear the person following her.

When Jack, her stalker, reveals himself and insists that Kara has something that belongs to him, she does her best to avoid him. But he’s determined to talk to her, convinced that they’re linked through the blood she received during her transfusion.

Jack is struggling against a dark and dangerous demon. His body is host to the evil power that wants Kara’s blood and will stop at nothing to get it. If Jack is able to gain control he can warn Kara. But which is stronger, the power of the blood they share or the force for evil? How can Kara help save Jack without risking her own life?

***** TOP TEN *****

Top Ten Rituals I Do While Writing ~ Caroline Healy

I like to write first thing in the morning, like with the sunrise. In Wintertime I practice some yoga as it is really dark first thing in the morning, then sit at my computer for 7.30. In the summertime if I am in first draft mode I could start work at 6 or 6.30, writing till around midday.

I have a notebook for every project. I jot down ideas and plans into these notebooks. I can’t put more than one project in each notebook because in my mind it’s like contaminating the story. Needless to say I have notebooks all over my house. Some of the projects will never see the light of day but you never know what you might come back to.

I have tea break around 10.30 a.m. every day, usually black tea and some dark chocolate. When I am on my tea break I check the gossip columns for all the latest star scandal!

Once I start a project I will write every day until the project is complete, until the first draft is down on paper. That might mean that I write six weeks straight, every day, till I reach my daily word count and the finished draft.

I post-it my story on the wall next to my desk, moving scenes around till I get the right fit.

I don’t like reading similar books to the project I am working on until I have first draft written. So if I’m writing a Y.A. novel I will only read literary fiction or crime thrillers so as not to influence my writing voice during the project.

I have days when I don’t get out of my pyjamas if I’m writing a particular tough section of the book.

When I finish the first draft I have to leave the writing for about a month before I can begin on the edits.

I plan in paper, in coffee shops and I first draft on the computer in my office.

I have to have a clear desk, so I am not distracted by all the stacks of papers…so I usually push everything to behind my computer so it doesn’t catch my line of site. I know it’s there but at least I can’t see it…so I trick myself into thinking everything is tidy…the perfect writing space. 🙂

 

***** REVIEW *****

At first it was difficult for me to get into this book, but then I got sucked into the drama that is high school.

Kara’s storyline is paralleled with Jack’s inner thoughts, leaving just a hint of what is to come each time. I thought that was a brilliant technique to use and it worked very well.

After her accident and return to school, Kara’s character changes quite a bit. She goes through an immediate stage of personal growth and finds something in common with a most unlikely friend, Hannah, and stands up to others.

As the story continued to unravel, I discovered that each character had something to hide.

Hannah is a strange one, or so Kara and her group of friends thought. Sure, she has her own oddities, but she comes to Kara’s aid on more than one occasion. She wants to fly under the radar with her super religious parents and her doctor.

Ben, Kara’s crush, is between a rock and a hard spot in more than one way. He needs to maintain some semblance of a friendship with Ashleigh Jameson and try to fly under the radar in his friendship with Kara. Ashleigh has the power to rip the scholarship he so desperately needs right out from under him. He also has a situation at home very similar to Travis in Girls Love Travis Walker...except he also has two younger siblings to take care of on top of mom.

Worse than making an enemy and shunning the most powerful girl in school and dealing with the strangeness of returning to school after the accident, Kara has a stalker. A weirdo stalker who insists she’s stolen something from him.

Jack’s character puzzled me. Besides stalking Kara, he also has something important to share with her and it becomes very complex. There are things beyond his control and he tries to warn Kara before it’s too late.

***** About the Author *****

unnamedCaroline Healy is a writer and community arts facilitator. She recently completed her M.A. in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University,Belfast.

She published her first, award winning collection of short stories, entitled A Stitch in Time in August 2012. Her work has been featured in publications s

She writes literary fiction and young adult fiction, with her Y.A. book Blood Entwines released with Bloomsbury Publishing in August 2014.uch as Wordlegs, The Bohemyth, Prole and the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice.

Caroline loves drinking tea from mis-matched china, doing yoga, as well as reading, writing, talking and thinking about all things bookish. She also has a penchant for cake and dark chocolate.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

*****Giveaway*****

There is a $20 Amazon gift card giveaway! Ends 11/26/14.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Review + Giveaway: Blade Singer

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I’m excited to announce my blog stop for Blade Singer, a middle grade fantasy by Aaron de Orive and Martha Wells.  The tour runs September 29th – October 10th with reviews, author interviews, guest posts and more. To see all the tour goodiness, visit the tour schedule page.

Title: Blade Singercbbtourhost
Author: Aaron de Orive & Martha Wells
Publisher: Cloak & Dagger Studios
Release Date: July 2014
Length: 202 pages
Series?: no?
Genre: MG, fantasy
Source: CBB Book Promotions

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

*****Synopsis*****

Manuel “Manny” Boreaux, a troubled adolescent from Texas, is magically transported into the body of a goblin pickpocket in an alternate world inhabited by faerie creatures. Manny must quickly adapt to the danger all around him and try to find a way to get back home, a feat complicated by the pickpocket’s association with a notorious gang of thieves. But when Manny uncovers a plot to assassinate a young king, he must enlist the aid of an elf cavalier and a cat burglar to thwart a Sidhe witch’s scheme to ignite a civil war between humans and the Fae.

*****Review*****

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Manny hails from the capital of Texas: Austin! I had an instant connection with him. He’s been taken in by his aunt and he’s a bit of a handful. She’s not very happy with his doings and troublemaking.

One day Manny gets transported to an alternate world after riffling through some books at the local, independent bookstore. He finds this book that is very old, and a coin inside. The coin is like a portkey to the other world.

When Manny arrives, he has no idea what is going on. Things are so different and strange. There are all kind of creatures, and he comes to learn he has inhabited the body of a young goblin pickpocket. All Manny wants to do is get back home. He can’t help but wonder what his aunt is thinking – is he unconscious in his world? Does his aunt think him dead?

Little does Manny know that the body he now has ownership of – belonging to one Remy – belongs to a gang of thieves. A wanted gang of thieves. It kind of reminded me of the gypsies in The Hunchback of Notre Dame II and how they have taken up a hiding residence within the city. Like in his world, Manny is also in a bit of hot water and has to get himself out of some scrapes.

With a shake of his head, Etienne started away down the side street. 

“Dad, wait!” Manny called after him. “You have to tell me -“

Etienne waved a hand without looking back. “I have no time, boy.” 

He doesn’t recognize me? Manny started after him. 

Manny stumbles upon an elf guard who has a striking resemblance to his father. The guard just thinks he’s crazy. He also stumbles upon fellow thief Adrianna, who also bears striking resemblance to his mother. Adrianna is like a mother to Remy, so she kind of takes him under her wing. She doesn’t know what happened to Remy, but she doesn’t want anything happening to his body.

The figure leaned close to whisper. “Don’t panic,” it said, adn the voice was familiar. “It feeds on that. You can hide from it, trick it. It can’t catch you if you use your head. Trust your instincts.”

But Adrianna and Remy (or as the table turns, Manny) are indebted to one hag witch: Morrigan. And a powerful witch she is. Through happenstance, Adrianna and Remy uncover a sordid plot for revenge and power – and the real identity of Morrigan.

Manny and Adrianna do their best to gather all the help they can – starting with the elf who so resembles his father, but someone has other plans for Manny.

This book was full of action and fast-paced. I did go through a couple of lulls when there was so much action and no dialogue, but I would recommend this book. It is interesting and yes, it does play off of some Arthurian legend, with Morgan le Fay and Merlin both appearing in the book, as well as a sword that is basically Excalibur (but called Amechanteur).

“But only when wielded by a swordsman whose cause is just and whose heart is true. The spirit of the blade bonds with the soul of that swordsman and he becomes a Blade Singer, a champion without equal.”

*****About the Authors*****

Aaron De Orive

A graduate of the University of Texas’ film program, Aaron de Orive began his professional writing career in the video game industry, serving as a lead or senior writer on Metroid Prime 3: Corruption,Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided, Tabula Rasa, Anarchy Online, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. He is also the creator of the fantasy role-playing game SHARD: World of the False DawnBlade Singer is his first novel. Aaron lives in Austin with his wife, daughter, and two very spoiled terriers.

Find the author: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Martha Wells

Martha Wells is the author of a number of fantasy novels, including The Cloud Roads, The Siren DepthsThe Wizard HuntersWheel of the Infinite, and the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer. Her YA fantasy, Emilie and the Hollow World, was published by Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry in April 2013, and the sequel, Emilie and the Sky World, was released in March 2014. Two collections of Books of the Raksura novellas will be published in September 2014 and Fall 2015. She has had short stories in Black Gate, Realms of Fantasy, Stargate Magazine, and Lightspeed Magazine, and in the anthologies Elemental, The Year’s Best Fantasy #7,Tales of the Emerald Serpent and The Other Half of the Sky.  She has essays in the nonfiction anthologies Farscape ForeverMapping the World of Harry Potter, and Chicks Unravel Time. She has also written media-tie-in novels, Stargate Atlantis: Reliquary and Stargate Atlantis: Entanglement, and a Star Wars novel, Empire and Rebellion: Razor’s Edge.

Find the author: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

*****Giveaway*****

There are TWO $25 Amazon or B&N gift card up for grabs! Open internationally.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Review + Giveaway: Sprung

witchbound4

cbbtourhostTitle: Sprung
Author: Kelbian Noel
Release Date: April 2013
Series?: The Witchbound Series #2
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy
Source: CBB Book Promotions

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

*****Synopsis*****

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Since she discovered magic, seventeen-year-old Skye Jackson’s life is almost perfect. Almost. Even perfect has its glitches.

What happens when the one with all the power makes the biggest mistakes? Welcome to my life.

Four months ago, I couldn’t have been happier. When my parents got divorced, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. Especially when Mom married a guy half her age. But then I found out I wasn’t the average Joana. Discovering magic existed and, best of all, I could use it, made everything easier to deal with. That is until I got a little too spell happy. But what girl wouldn’t defend her best friend against a world-class creep? Now I’m stuck in a nightmare, forced to make life and death decisions I never dreamed I’d face.

Love the magic, hate the responsibility.

*****Review*****

This is the second book in the Withbound series. My review of Roots, the first book, can be found here.

The Witchbound series jumps from Baltimore’s story in Roots (fitting since her element is earth), to Skye’s story in Sprung.

Skye Jackson is a bit of a hot mess. Her mother and grandmother didn’t get along. Her dad put her grandmother in a home to keep the family together, but it wasn’t enough. He screwed up everything, and now her mother has married a guy half her age and they live in a McMansion. Her new stepdad thinks he’s going to run her life, using the placard of being a good dad.

The downside to having a seventy-one year-old partner in crime, who resides in a nursing home, is that I have to do all the messed up stuff myself.

The upside of all this? Skye has magic. She knows how to use it, and her grandmother has started talking after five years of silence. Skye has made visiting her grandmother a priority over everything else in her life, especially over dating, because her grandmother will only talk to her. They spell the room and cluster themselves away for hours.

Skye thinks she’s got it all figured out…until she tries to hex a boy for hurting her best friend, Claire. Skye doesn’t end up finishing her task, but all of a sudden the boy’s gone missing and Claire is in hot, hot water with the police. Skye has nowhere to turn, except to a little shop owner who can get her all the items she needs to fix her mistake.

Skye has to protect and save Claire, while finding the boy and fixing her mistake, and she has no idea how to do that. She confides in the shop keeper, who also turns out to be a witch, and the shop owner helps Skye figure it out.

There’s only one problem: only one person is known to be brought back from the grave, and the witch responsible for it gained immortality, but lost all of her magical powers. Living an endless lifetime with no magic sucks, and that witch is on a witch hunt of her own.

Skye finds herself at a loss, and Ramon from the first book comes to her aid. After what happened before with Baltimore and Brooklyn, Ramon doesn’t use magic. Rather, he’s restricted not to. Between the two of them, they determine that Ramon is the guiding mentor of the Elementals, and Skye is one of them. He helps her, but he also warns her of making a fatal mistake.

Worst thing? Skye’s already made it.

I am giving fair warning that this book is much more gory and gruesome than the first book. I’m sure it’s nothing compared to say, Stephen King, but it’s quite a step up from the first book.

At many times in the book, I thought Skye was a bit of an idiot. Rather, she did exactly what most teenagers do these days: act without thinking. She put blind faith in complete strangers, and those strangers knew more about her than even she knew, including what her Pure blood can do.

*****About the Author*****

unnamed (6)Kelbian Noel was born on a warm June night in Moncton, New Brunswick. From a very young age, she loved to read. She found herself engulfed in novels by Janette Oke and L.M. Montgomery, but never seemed to find herself in the pages. At the age of 11 she declared she would simply have to rewrite them, and become the youngest author in history. But life was full of baseball, homework, BFFs and boys. Decades later, having studied writing in college and pursued it as a career, she rediscovered her hobby. She is excited to introduce The Witchbound Series to the world with hopes someone will love this story as much as she does. Kelbian lives in Toronto, Ontario with her two children (where, thanks to a thick layer of smog, Junes are much warmer than they used to be).

She is the founder of www.diverse-pages.com and blogs there often, in the company of some pretty cool people.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

*****Giveaway*****

There is a $25 Amazon gift card up for grabs!

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Review + Giveaway: Roots

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cbbtourhostTitle: Roots
Author: Kelbian Noel
Release Date: March 2013
Series?: The Witchbound Series #1
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy
Source: CBB Book Promotions

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

*****Synopsis*****

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Seventeen-year-old Baltimore Land just wants to be normal, but magic has other plans. 

I don’t consider myself a witch, that’s my parents’ thing. I’ve never really believed in magic either. Sure, I tried it a few times. Fell for the whole “magic happens” thing. But it didn’t happen to me. No amount of rhyming stopped my parents from moving me halfway across the country. Not one spell stopped me from being labeled the town freak.

And worst of all, no matter how many times I begged the Universe to bring my twin back, I was ignored. Until now.

He’s back all right. And in a magical bind of his own. Not the magic-won’t-work-for-me kind either. In fact, it’s working a little too well. Too dark. Too deep.
It turns out our entire family’s magical roots run just as deep and my brother didn’t end up where he is by accident. So I’m going to help him. But magic isn’t really on my side. Nope. Once I finally get the craft under control, I’m expected to abandon the one person in the world who’s closest to me, just to save myself.

*****Review*****

Earth is solid. Follow the wind. Warmed by the fire, the water will quench thee.

Baltimore Mary Land. That’s her name. Poor thing, right? It gets worse. Her parents are witches. In a small town. Can this girl get any bigger of a target on her back?

Not asking has earned me a choice. For the first time ever, I’m free to do what I want. I’m no longer the witches’ daughter. I’m just Baltimore.

Baltimore is stuck in a hard spot, made especially harder because her twin brother has run off. It’s been two years and he’s shown no signs of coming back. For me, this was hard to swallow because twins run in my family and choosing to separate from your family and the person you shared the womb with is beyond imaginable.

One day, Baltimore finds Brooklyn. (I know. Cute, right? If only he were a girl…). He wants her to come visit. She figures out how to make it out to him, tricking her parents, friends and school. She uses a class trip as her cover, and hightails it to Brooklyn. Only, he’s not there when she arrives. He’s not there for HOURS.

Not only did Baltimore start getting worried, but I started getting worried, especially after reading Roots right after reading this book. Who wouldn’t be paranoid? Brooklyn finally shows, but things get crazy weird. Supreme weirdest of all? Brooklyn’s girlfriend.

Nothing about this girl makes sense. Sweet and scary. Petite and monstrous. 

Things take a turn for the worse, and one of Brooklyn’s roommates comes to Baltimore’s rescue. Little does she remember that she’s met him before, as a child, and he knows exactly who and what she is. She doesn’t realize this until later, and it leaves an ache in Baltimore’s heart. Right before they fled the seance, they heard Nate’s mother’s voice.

What’s the best way to determine how far you’ll go? The company you keep and the shoes on your feet.

Baltimore ends up in a safe and familiar place: her grandparents; house. It looks like it hasn’t been lived in in years, judging by the amount of dust that’s settled on the couch, but her grandfather and his operatives are definitely using the house, if for no other reason than the one thing that Baltimore has been running from all her life: witchcraft.

“How do you, of all people, end up hanging out with my seventy year old grandfather? That’s not weird or anything.” 

He grins. 

“Magic has a way of bringing people together.”

Baltimore also gets in touch with another childhood friend, one she instantly remembers: Ramon. He is the kind of guy any girl would want as a friend by her side, and that’s exactly what he does in this book, even if it goes against his oath and his role and her grandfather’s wishes…and going back for Brooklyn.

Baltimore is tasked with writing her own spell, one only she knows. She’s not buying all this magic jazz, and through several conversations with Ramon, Nate and her grandfather, along with reading her grandfather’s own spell book, she learns the truth about herself: descended from one of the four Pure witch families, tasked with the element earth.

Here’s the thing that really set strongly with me: Noel tied in the storyline of these Elemental witches with the witch hunts and persecutions of Europe. A perfect tie-in.

Baltimore cannot let Brooklyn go without a fight…or two…or three. She will do anything to save her brother from the Tainted witch, but it comes with a cost, and the price is high.

“Hey, everyone makes mistakes. At least you’re doing something about it. It’s only bad if you act like it never happened.” 

*****About the Author*****

unnamed (6)Kelbian Noel was born on a warm June night in Moncton, New Brunswick. From a very young age, she loved to read. She found herself engulfed in novels by Janette Oke and L.M. Montgomery, but never seemed to find herself in the pages. At the age of 11 she declared she would simply have to rewrite them, and become the youngest author in history. But life was full of baseball, homework, BFFs and boys. Decades later, having studied writing in college and pursued it as a career, she rediscovered her hobby. She is excited to introduce The Witchbound Series to the world with hopes someone will love this story as much as she does. Kelbian lives in Toronto, Ontario with her two children (where, thanks to a thick layer of smog, Junes are much warmer than they used to be).

She is the founder of www.diverse-pages.com and blogs there often, in the company of some pretty cool people.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

*****Giveaway*****

There is a $25 Amazon gift card up for grabs!

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Review: Frankie Dupont And The Mystery Of Enderby Manor

22066928Title: Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor
Author: Julie Anne Grasso
Release Date: July 2014
Length: 135 pages
Series?: not yet…
Genre: Children’s/Middle Grades, mystery
Format: e-book

Find the book:  Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

When his cousin Kat disappears from Enderby Manor, Frankie Dupont jumps on the case. Bumbling Inspector Cluesome is convinced that Kat is lost in Myrtle’s Mesmerising Maze, but Frankie isn’t buying it.

He follows the evidence trail to a conniving concierge, a six fingered chef, a talking parrot, a mad maid and a shifty dwarf, and quickly finds himself in a desperate race to recover Kat before her time runs out…

*****Review*****

According to Goodreads, this is “An exciting new illustrated middle grade mystery series for children aged 8-12.” So, I suppose it will be turning into a series!

Frankie Dupont is one pretty phenomenal young man. His dad is a PI, and Frankie obviously looks up to him from the many comments that Frankie makes about his investigation into his cousin Kat’s disappearance at Enderby Manor.

Frankie is first on the scene and methodically goes through his investigation, retracing Kat’s steps from the morning of her disappearance and interviewing witnesses. He notices a few key things that various Enderby Manor employees are and are not saying. He’s taking everything under consideration and leaving nothing out, but that’s hard to due with the condescending and very clueless Inspector Cluesome around. Seriously, the guy needs to get some clues.

Frankie gets the feeling after coming to a dead end that each employee is hiding something. Slowly Frankie unravels these things after getting some helpful clues from Kat herself and a helping hand from the new teen employee, Lachy.

After Frankie unraveled the mystery of Kat’s disappearance and the strangeness of Enderby Manor, the ending snowballed from there and it turned out to be a great day…and a really nice payday for Frankie himself a little while down the road.

This book is very fast-paced, but Frankie is a grade A kid. Despite being very tempted to tell of Inspector Cluesome, he remains calm and respectful while trying to figure out what’s happened to Kat. This was a great, light, fun read and I look forward to more adventures with Frankie.

*****About the Author*****

6545447With a background in paediatric nursing, Julie Anne Grasso spent many years literally wrapping children in cotton wool. Every day she witnessed great courage and resilience from the tiny people she cared for, which inspired her to write stories about a little girl elf just like them.

She lives in Melbourne Australia with her husband Danny and their little elf Giselle.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads