Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: Marice the Unbeastly by Amy Dixon, Illustrated by Karl James Mountford


MAURICE THE UNBEASTLY
by Amy Dixon
Illustrated by Karl James Mountford
Sterling Children's Books
Picture Book
32 pages 
ages 3 and up


Beasts roar! Beasts destroy! But not Maurice.
This frightfully unbeastly tale about staying true to yourself is for everyone who’s just a little bit different.

With his melodious voice, fondness for kale, and unfailing politeness, Maurice isn’t quite like other beasts. So his concerned Mama and Papa send their ridiculously photogenic beastie to the Abominable Academy for Brutish Beasts to learn how to behave badly. Will Maurice master growling, scowling, snarling, and howling? Or will he prove that being different is a good thing after all?
 




 MY TIDBITS

With monsterly sweetness and abominable fun, this book embraces different in all of its furry and ungrowling ways.

Maurice is a vegetarian, kind and polite—all those things a monster shouldn't be. Not sure how to help him, his parents send him off to monster academy in hopes he'll learn true brutish behavior. Maurice tries, but keeps messing up.

Although Maurice is a monster, his behavior isn't very scary or beastly, and this is reflected masterfully, especially in the illustrations. His black and furry appearance sits like a snug costume around a gentle, green face. He's a monster, but even at first glance, it's clear that he's not necessarily something to fear. His habits support this in a humorous yet caring way. Even when mocked, Maurice doesn't lose face. He tries to make the others happy but remains true to himself. 

The situations are cute, calm and always hold a light sense of humor. The growling and roaring comes across familiar without turning frightening. The other monsters hold their monsterly outside while never growing too scary for younger readers. 

The text tells the story while adding light pinches of humor here and there to make sure a smile never leaves the face. The vocabulary is a bit high even for slightly older listeners and will need some explanation along the way. Some of the clever humor will get lost because of this too. The message still comes across loud and clear, and leaves a warm, huggy mood. Maurice is a wonderful type of different and this is something young readers will love (and need) to hear. He's the kind of monster kids will want to have as a friend too.


And here they are. . .

The Author. . .



The Illustrator. . .














Premonition by Leigh Walker with Interview and Giveaway




PREMONITION 

by Leigh Walker
The Division #1
July 19th 2017
YA Romance, Science Fiction






When Riley heads off to boarding school for a summer work-study program, she knows it’ll be demanding. What she doesn’t expect? To be thrust into an intense physical training program described as special, exclusive and worst of all–top-secret. She signed up for tuition assistance, not to be held in a secret government facility for boot camp…
Welcome to The Division, the government agency that’s so classified, most United States senators have never heard of it.
The Division wants Riley bad, but she can’t figure out why. Skeptical of what she’s being told, Riley’s determined to uncover the truth. Boot camp is intense, physically and mentally draining. The upside? One of her new teammates is the cutest boy ever. Watching Finn hit the gym wearing a tank top doesn’t suck–although sometimes his brooding attitude does. But when training forces Riley to confront her tragic past, even Finn’s big biceps aren’t enough to make her want to stay…
Beware: The Division isn’t something you just walk away from. You better run.
Riley realizes her capabilities and strengths are greater than she’d ever imagined. But she also learns she wasn’t just chosen for this special program…
She was made for it.



INTERVIEW WITH LEIGH WALKER

Q: Wow, you’re interviewing yourself…how pompous!
Right? It’s to tell people more about the series, lol. Although I should admit that I normally talk to myself a lot, so this isn’t much of a departure.

Q: Tell us about “The Division” – it’s a bunch of teenagers with psychic powers, right? How did you get inspired?
Everyone on the team has psychic powers, yes. I was watching “Stranger Things” on Netflix and I WAS SO PSYCHED they were testing poor Eleven for psychic powers. But I was also like, YEEHAW! Because I LOVE psychic powers, and I can’t remember the last time I saw or read something that included them. I’ve always been obsessed by the concept, and there’s so many variations of powers, so many incarnations it can take… Anyway, after watching that show and having that reaction, I thought, other people must love this stuff, too, I can’t be the only one. So I wanted to give us all more!

Q: Tell us about the main character, Riley Payne.
Riley is a ‘normal’ girl dealing with a lot. Her father and sister died in a car accident and her mother started drinking heavily after it happened. She just wants to get out of her house and go to boarding school, but she gets more than she bargained for when she abruptly gets recruited into a secret agency…

Q: The ‘secret agency’ is The Division, correct?
Yes. It’s a secret cell of teenagers who were genetically engineered with psychic gifts. They work for the American government to combat domestic terrorism.
Riley thinks they’re nuts, of course. Until she unlocks her powers, then she’s blown away by what she can do.

Q: As the series goes on, you get into genetic engineering, fated love, eco-terrorism, loyalty, isolation, human nature, climate change…some pretty heavy themes. But would you describe the series as a difficult read?
I don’t think so, but certainly some parts were hard to write – like about Riley missing her dad and her sister. I still cry when I read those parts. And in the second book, an eco-terrorist is introduced, and some terrible things happen in the book. So yeah, there’s definitely a heaviness to some of what the characters are dealing with. But they’re teenagers, and their youth is sort of a tonic against everything they’re dealing with. They still care about their friends. They still want to hang out, tell stories, joke around. They are still very interested in falling in love. I think my writing style is naturally light and breezy, so it’s sort of a counterpoint to the storyline. If that makes sense, lol.

Q: What’s your favorite part of this series?
Riley and Finn’s relationship. They have so much on their plates, and they’re so young, but they genuinely care for each other in a way that makes me ache.

Q: What do you do when you’re not writing?
I have three large, unruly boys who like to play every sport and eat as much food as possible. When I’m not at my computer, I’m busy carting them around and grocery shopping. But I also love to relax with a great book or television show – I am currently completely obsessed with Riverdale, OMG!!!
Thanks for having me! Happy reading!!!



And here she is. . . 
Leigh Walker lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. She has a degree in Journalism and a law degree. She's never been to the Naval Shipyard prison in Kittery, ME, but she's driven by it...and boy, is it creepy!

Leigh has lots of books planned for The Division Series. Sign up for her mailing list at www.leighwalkerbooks.com to be notified of the next release in the series! You can also find her on The Division's FB page: https://www.facebook.com/divisionbookseries/ 

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Review: Bewitching Hannah by Leigh Goff


Being a witch is the last thing she wants…


Bewitching Hannah
by Leigh Goff
Mirror World Publishing
September 17, 2017
YA, Fantasy, Romance


Sixteen-year-old Hannah Fitzgerald has always known she is descended from a troubled legacy of magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial. However, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful Chesapeake witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W, a Calvert descendant who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the danger that lies ahead. Engaged in a deadly game without knowing who her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she will survive, and if she loses she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.


MY TIDBITS

Shadowed with a constant layer of darkness, this read packs magic, tension, and the hand of fate into a read which hooks until the last page.

Hannah is a witch, although she wishes she wasn't and tries to keep the magic inside of her from surfacing. After her parents' tragic deaths, she lives with her aunt in Annapolis and is forced to take part in the coven she was born into. Hannah's attempts to deny what she is unravel as she's faced with three girls/witches, who are determined to make her life not only difficult but use any means possible to steal a so-called 'key' from her. Even if Hannah is sure she doesn't have it and wants nothing to do with it, the girls' quest for power turns into a deadly game.

I enjoyed reading this book. There's tons of magic, wonderful tension and enough twists and turns to keep one guessing until the end. Hannah isn't comfortable in her own skin, and it's a rough road before she learns to accept who she is. She's a bit snarky at times and tends to snap out exactly what she thinks, but there's a caring side to her and her moral compass keeps her actions intact. In other words, she's far from perfect but still a true heroine inside.

The idea of covens and witches living right under normal human radar comes across very naturally. The magic is intense but it slides right along with normal high school life in a smaller town. Although witches and wizards are key in the plot, other types of magic also have an influence as magic from cultures such as the Incas and even a bit of the Greek mythology is sprinkled in.

The plot moves along quick, never leaving a moment for boredom. Even the romance holds dark secrets, which keep the tension high the whole way through. I enjoyed the hesitation in the romance, but found it sometimes was a little off in the chemistry. Some of the reactions seemed a bit sudden, or lacked a little more background. Especially the first chapters were a little confusing, and it seemed as if some information was missing. But then there were hiccups even later on, at times. Still, the world and story were interesting enough to keep me engaged, and even with these little stumbles, I didn't want to set the book down.

Fans of witches, magic, slightly dark romances and hidden evil will enjoy diving into these pages and are sure to get caught up in Hannah's world.






EXCERPT

Lightning flashed, followed by a rumble of thunder, jolting me alert. A tempest churned over the Chesapeake Bay and was rolling toward town. I stared at the clouds, ready to calculate how much time we had before the rain hit. Another bright flash of white-hot lightning forked across the purplish-black sky. One, two…twenty.

Boom.

The storm was at least four miles away. I pressed a hand over my chest, feeling the thumping slow.

I glanced at Aunt J, who was no longer bopping her head to the bad music. Instead, she blinked over and over, and rubbed her eyes with one hand.

“If you’re tired, I can drive.” Who needed a license when I’d already mastered a moped along with the Green Briar golf carts?

Her slender fingers searched for me as if I were a ghost she could only hear. She grasped my arm tightly.

“Hannah?” Panic drenched her voice.

My eyes widened. “What’s wrong?”

“I can’t see. I mean, I see something, but it’s not the road. What’s wrong with me?”

I peered out the windshield. A distant telephone pole grew bigger as her foot stuck to the accelerator.

A frightening swell of adrenaline flooded my veins, sending my heart into a frenzy. “Stop!” I yelled, but she was frozen with fright. I grabbed the steering wheel and threw my leg over to jam on the brake pedal.

It was too late. Absolute silence fell over us in the grim second before we plowed into the pole. My lower body slammed into the dashboard while the seatbelt squeezed hard against my ribs. Metal groaned. White bubbles deployed. Glass shattered with a scream. Or maybe the scream was mine. The car groaned to a halt with a hiss and clank.

Stillness settled over us. My head was reeling as I checked myself for injuries. Bursts of pain sparked from my chest and leg.

“Hannah?” Aunt J’s quivering voice reached out.

I pried my eyes open. She had escaped her seatbelt. Her lips and hands were trembling, but I saw no blood or broken skin. Inwardly, I sighed with relief.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

I sucked in a shallow breath. “Me? Fine,” I managed, not wanting to stress her out, but I struggled to breathe and my left leg was wedged under the intruding dashboard.

She reached over, wiping her hands across my cheeks and forehead, dusting away crumbs of glass. She touched her trembling fingers to the seatbelt release and pressed on it, over and over. “Come on, dammit. Let go.”

I pushed her hand away, restraining a whimper. “It’s okay. Go get help.”

She nodded and with a hard push, shoved her door open. “I’ll be right back.”

A heavy silence fell over the car’s interior until a hiss sounded from the engine. Within seconds, the smell of burning oil seeped in through the vents.

One toxic breath went deeper than I meant it to. “Ow!” I coughed and writhed beneath the unyielding seatbelt like a five-year-old having a tantrum. Panic swept over me as I struggled for freedom.

Stress vibrated deep in my gut. Self-soothe, self-soothe, I reminded myself. The air grew thicker with burning oil and a starburst of pain wracked my body. I was going to die. Unless…

No. How could I even think it? There had to be another way because what if I couldn’t send it back? What if it took me to the same terrible place it had taken them?

I peered out the windows, searching. There was no one. I turned my focus on the glove box. Maybe Aunt J kept a knife in there or a pair of floral scissors. I pushed the button hard, again and again. Jammed. My heart raced.

A burst of smoke puffed into the car’s interior. I coughed and closed my eyes. The pressure on my leg intensified and the sickening fumes filled me with dread. Eff it. I balled my hands into fists.

I recalled the spell I’d overheard my dad utter once. I recited it in my head before casting, making sure I had it right. “By the power of fire, I do summon and churn, and call thee forth to blaze and burn.”

I stopped breathing, trying to sense any changes. I felt no different. And then it filled my core like a warm sphere of energy. Quickly, the power expanded into a blazing inferno. My back arched, pressing me harder into the seatbelt as my internal fire surged. Every cell jolted awake. My heart pounded out of control as I imagined channeling the smoldering energy. Suddenly, my hands tingled with intense power. I swallowed hard and aimed my fingers at the strap. The fiery threads trickled out in a wiggly pattern until I steadied my hand. The seatbelt burned orange, then cooled to black before separating.

Purchase Links:
Mirror World Publishing eBook:
https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/young-adult-fiction/products/bewitching-hannah-ebook

Mirror World Publishing Paperback:
https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/young-adult-fiction/products/bewitching-hannah-paperback

Amazon:
http://amzn.to/2vtH056

Kobo:
https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/bewitching-hannah

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bewitching-hannah-leigh-goff/1126756568?ean=9781987976311

And here she is. . .

Writing Enchanting Ever-Afters ♥


Leigh Goff grew up in Maryland where she resides today. Her writing is inspired by an eclectic childhood, a vivid imagination, and compelling historical events. After taking several writing courses in college and attending professional writing workshops after she graduated from the University of Maryland, she joined the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. 

Connect with the Author:

Facebook:

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Amazon US: 

Goodreads Author Page: 

Blog: 

Pinterest:

Publisher Website: 

Author Website: 
http://leighgoff.com/author/leighgoff/


Follow the tour to read reviews, exclusive excerpts, guest posts, and book spotlights:
https://saphsbookpromotions.blogspot.com/2017/09/virtual-book-tour-schedule-bewitching.html




Cover Reveal: What the Valley Knows by Heather Christie





What The Valley Knows 

by Heather Christie

January 25th 2018
YA Romance






Millington Valley is a quintessential small Pennsylvania town: families go back generations. Football rules. Kids drink while adults look the other way. High school is a whirlwind of aspiration and rivalry, friendship and jealousy.
When smart and pretty Molly Hanover moves to town and attracts the attention of the football team’s hero, Wade Thornton—a nice guy with a bad drinking habit—longtime friendships are threatened and a popular cheerleader tries to turn the school against Molly.
The young couple’s future is shattered when Wade, drunk, wrecks his truck and Molly is thrown through the windshield. She wakes from a coma to find her beauty marred and her memory full of holes. As she struggles to heal, she becomes sure that something terrible happened before the accident. And there is somebody in the valley who doesn’t want her to remember.


And here she is. . .

Heather Christie grew up in rural Pennsylvania and, at age seventeen, took off for New York City in hopes of becoming a movie star. Flash forward several decades, a couple degrees, a bunch of cats, two kids and one husband later, she's back in Pennsylvania writing her heart out and chasing dreams again. She loves to read, run, drink tea, and make Sunday dinner. Follow her blog at www.HeatherChristieBooks.com and say “hello” on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 


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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Review: This Is a Good Story by Adam Lehrhaupt


THIS IS A GOOD STORY
by Adam Lehrhaupt
Illustrated by Magali le Huche
Paula Wiseman Books
Picture Book 
ages 4 to 8
40 pages


From E.B. White Read Aloud author Adam Lehrhaupt comes an inspiring new picture book that takes apart the pieces of a story—hero, heroine, setting, conflict—and asks the reader to put the story back together again. This is a good story…or is it?

As a child takes her pencil and begins to draw pictures for a story, the narrator takes her and the reader through a rollicking sequence of events in this classic tale of bad guys and townsfolk and dungeons. With simplicity and flair, Adam tells a story and then a meta-story of the parts of the story at once! This Is a Good Story is a wonderful primer on the parts of a story and an imaginative way to encourage creative thinking, writing, and storytelling.
 



MY TIDBITS

Setting, plot, climax and other story terms come to life when accompanied by this lively and humorous adventure.

This picture book introduces the various parts of a story--hero/heroine, setting, climax, etc--while following a girl as she writes an adventure. But sometimes, not everything runs as smoothly as it should.

To make a 'good' story, several things are necessary. By following a small adventure from start to finish, the most vital parts of a tale are not only mentioned but used in an immediate example. The tale starts with the introduction of a hero and heroine, and goes on from there, hitting each story part as it should come. All along, an adventure is growing where the hero, heroine and even the villain throw in humorous spice of their own. It's cute, it's humorous and it flows well. But this isn't a book for the youngest listeners.

The text is held to short phrases on each spread, but that doesn't mean it's simple. There's the story part terminology, which is very clearly printed and stands in center point of the tale, but may be a bit too high of a concept for kids under age 5 or 6. To help out, there's also a quick glossary at the end. Some of the other vocabulary used might also be a little high for younger readers. As a story, the text is lacking, but as a guide to help learn the parts of a tale, it offers lots of room for open discussion or sudden questions. Older listeners might find the text on the childish side, though.

The play back and forth from text to illustrations is well done. The text carries the learning, while the illustrations run alongside with their own cute story. Humor ensues, which makes the drier aspects of the book much more fun, and is sure to draw a few smiles as those silly characters tend to run out of control. It's a simpler type of drawing, but never misses on details and brings everything across crystal clear.

Summed up, this is an entertaining way to discuss and learn about forming a story as well as what parts are crucial to make it good. Despite the small amount of text, it's not a concept that younger readers will easily grasp and would be better for those who already know how to read and write (so they can make their own story). As a learning tool, it's cute and sure to bring some giggles too.


And here they are. . .

The author. . .

Adam Lehrhaupt's first picture book, Warning: Do Not Open This Book!, received the E.B. White Read Aloud Honor Award, was an ALA notable Book, and a Huffington Post Notable Book. School Library Journal called it, 'More fun than a barrel of monkeys." He is also the author of Please, Open This Book!, which was named a Wanda Gag Comstock Read aloud Honor Book and Idea Jar. Adam has traveled to six continents, performed on Broadway, and lived on a communal farm. He currently lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with his wife, sons and two bizarre dogs. Visit him online a t AdamLehrhaupt.com.


The Illustrator. . .

Magali le Huche was born in Paris. She stsudied illustration in Strasbourg then returned to Paris where she works on children's books and for the press. She regularly teaches workshops for children.

Happy Book Bday, HER by Danielle Rose!





HER
YA Horror, Short Story
Cover Art by Gwenn Danae
Cover Text by Eight Little Pages
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR









Kemper Academy is over a hundred years old, but it has only recently reopened after a series of murders and stories of hauntings shut it down. Avlynn, a new student, refuses to let the rumors scare her, chalking them up to a bit of friendly freshman hazing. But when night falls and screams draw her from her room, she finds the truth is much more horrifying than any ghost story.






Danielle Rose holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine. Currently residing in the Midwest, where she spends her days dreaming of warmer temperatures, when she’s not writing, she enjoys pretending she lives in California, spending an embarrassing amount of time at Hobby Lobby, and binge-watching Netflix. Visit Danielle on the Web: www.Danielle-Rose.com.


Author Links:
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Monday, September 18, 2017

Review: Talon, Come Fly With Me by Gigi Sedlmayer


TALON, COME FLY WITH ME
Book One of the Talon Series
by Gigi Sedlmayer
Middle Grade Contemporary
187 pages





Nine year old Matica lives in a remote village on a dry plateau in the Andes of Peru. She moved to Peru when she was five with Australian missionary and schoolteacher parents. Because Matica is trapped in the body of a two year old, her growth handicap has caused her to be rejected by the local people and they would not accept her into their community or allow her to play with the children.

With patience and a sense of adventure Matica befriends a pair of condors. A strong bond and love develops between them.
Matica rescues the egg the condors, Tamo and Tima, are trying to protect from poachers and nurtures it to hatching. The egg hatches on her 10th birthday and she names the new fledging Talon.

Many adventures unfold, including her finally being accepted into the local community.
This is the beginning of many incredible adventures with Talon and Matica. It is a story of hope, determination and love.
 


MY TIDBITS

This is a tale of finding acceptance, love, friendship, bravery and so much more.

Matica is a bright, young girl but, thanks to her handicap, stuck in a body which is smaller than that of her younger brother. The villagers shut her out, unable to accept her differences. But Matica doesn't let it get her too down. Her adventurous spirit enables her to befriend two condors, and helps them when a poacher tries to steal their egg. When the egg hatches, Matica has a new best friend, Talon, and this is only the beginning of their adventures.

This book is a lovely adventure with an amazing heroine. Matica is a strong, brave girl, who battles with her handicap and how others view her. But this isn't a story only about her gaining acceptance or over coming her challenges. Rather, it's a tale packed full of exciting moments and tons of emotions. Matica comes across naturally as does the village and world around her. It's beautifully set and an easy landscape to dive into. The author does a great job at bringing this foreign culture and setting across, and even the dialogue holds many wise statements packed in a way young readers will understand.

Not a boring moment settles into these pages, and it's hard to set the book down. At less than 200 pages, it won't scare away more reluctant readers either. It's easy to feel for Matica and readers will be dreaming of find condors to befriend themselves. Which is actually an interesting twist, since condors aren't usually seen as the most beautiful or love-worthy birds. After reading through this, kids will have a better understanding of these birds, of the problems of poachers, and simply gain a deeper sense of nature and protecting it.

Not only children ages eight and up will enjoy this, but even older audiences will get lost in this tale and leave feeling a little more inspired than before.


And here she is. . .

Gisela (Gigi) Sedlmayer was born on 19 May 1944 in Potsdam, a suburb of Berlin in Germany.
Her family escaped to the West just before the infamous wall went up. They moved around in Germany until finally settling in Munich where Gigi studied architectural drafting and met Albert in 1965, marrying in December 1967. She worked as a civil draftsperson in various private consultancies in Munich.
Since her uncle was a writer, she tried to write short animal stories herself. Nothing further came of it, but she developed a love for the written word and started to consume books.
In May 1975, Gigi and her husband moved to New Zealand. Because of language challenges, she started a handicraft business. As a specialty, she made colourful parrots of which she sold thousands in a few years.
In 1988, they decided to adopt and became adoptive parents of twin girls the year after. They lived in New Zealand for eighteen years and moved to Australia in September 1992.
Two years later Gigi was diagnosed with cancer. After operations and radiation, she withdrew, thinking that she would probably soon be dead, like her friend who died of cancer, but her two little girls gave her the courage to keep going. After a few years, still among the living, her brain started to work again, so she thought, ‘Get a grip on yourself and do something good with your life’.
She remembered the time she wrote short stories and got inspired again, seeing her husband Albert writing the story of their adoption. Her English became increasingly better so she pressed on to develop her creative writing.
Albert taught her how to use a computer and she wrote many short stories. She entered them in competitions and often got very good reports back, which gave her confidence to go on writing. One day the idea for the TALON series came to her and she spent the next several years bringing the story and the characters to life.
She now loves writing and spends most of her time at the computer, developing new story lines. She also loves traveling, 4x4 touring, swimming, gardening, handcrafting, reading, fossicking and enjoys good adventure DVD’s or going to the movies.


My new website: http://gigised.com