You are now entering the world of my thoughts.

This blog is my diary of works in progress. The only way a writer can improve upon her skill is to practice, practice and practice some more. Here, in this place of quiet peace, I pen to paper my thoughts and creativity. Welcome to my world.

Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 SN Taylor, All Rights Reserved

Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Tour: Alexander Drake by Elizabeth Parkinson-Bellows

alexander tour

Tour Schedule

  Alexander Drake new coverAlexander Drake's Extraordinary Pursuit
Meet Alexander Drake, a curious young man living in a drab, oversized mansion with his secretive father. He spent his days playing alone. In the back of his mind he wondered what happened to his mother, and why his father was tight-lipped about the past; but secrets have a way of getting out. It all started with a stay at his grandmother’s cottage. Alexander found strange clues tucked away in his father’s old bedroom. With a mysterious key and several maps in his pack he set off on an innocent search for answers about his family. When he discovered a secret passageway the search took a dramatic turn. He suddenly worried about what was searching for him. Alexander was being hunted by a sorcerer from his father’s past. Answers lead to more questions and the journey of his life. Join Alexander for a thrilling adventure in Azra’s Pith, a place of beauty and magic… but beware—something evil lurks in the shadows.  

Amazon


General drake new coverThe Return of General Drake

When Alexander arrived in Verhonia, something went terribly wrong. A dark spell delivered from the mountains of Acadia sent him on a dangerous journey in the middle of the night. As he marched into the mountains, the great city of Verhonia was ambushed and burned to the ground by Roman's army of vicious giant murks. With the safety of the realm in jeopardy, General John William Drake was asked to come back to Azra's Pith. He swore he would never return. But after discovering his son was under a spell and in the grips of a dark sorcerer, he had no choice. Things take a wild turn in the mountains, with runaways, a hungry wolf and a mysterious, young empyrean wizard thrown into the adventure. A tight race against time and evil is in full swing. With faith and a little magic, they just might come out on top.  

Publisher

    lizzieAuthor Elizabeth Parkinson-Bellows
Being the frizzy-haired tomboy with buck teeth gave me a slight case of shyness as a kid. A colorful imagination meant escape and adventure at the drop of a hat. Over the years I learned that the insecurities I carried around were a waste of time. I still prefer a football game to a manicure any day of the week. That indispensable imagination has found its way into my writing providing a sense of joy and a true purpose.  

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Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 5/15/13 a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Book Excerpt:


Ferdinand finally stopped, allowing Alexander to catch up. “Did you bring the key with you, young man?”
“Oh, yes! Is this what you’re talking about?” Alexander pulled the strange key out of his pocket. The sparkle and beautiful chiming intensified in his hands.
Ferdinand was mesmerized. “I haven't seen that key since....” The frog's eyes gleamed. It was apparent he had a connection to the key. “Let’s see if it still works.” The creature disappeared into a thick fern.
Alexander pushed the fern back to find him rubbing his long-fingered hands together with anticipation in front of a large dead tree. “Okay, it’s a dead tree. What are we doing here?”
“Hush!” Ferdinand whispered with a sting in his tone. “We must watch for the Passageway. It appears; then it's gone at the blink of an eye.”
Within seconds, the rays of the sun shot through gaps in the surrounding trees onto the thick trunk. A small portion at the base took on a brassy tone, and radiant emerald leaves instantly sprouted from every curvy branch.
“It’s—it’s—magic—it has to be! Amazing! ” Alexander gasped. This was the tree in his dreams.
A glowing light beamed through the center, forming a slit barely large enough for the key to fit in. Alexander brought his hands to his face, partially covering his eyes. “I—I can't believe this is happening!”
“Alexander, hurry—the key—put it in!”
Alexander fumbled with the key and quickly slid it in the slot. The key turned on its own, without the help of Alexander's nervous fingers. Almost immediately, a portion of the tree dissolved into the tiny specks of light Alexander knew all too well. They danced in celebration, creating an intense energy field.
“Come, Alexander—we must move quickly!” Ferdinand took a blind leap into the specks of light and disappeared.
“I'm afraid!” Alexander was frantic. He had visited this tree in his dreams many times before. Could his mother have been trying to tell him something? “This is crazy! What have I gotten myself into?”
This was far beyond anything Alexander could have ever imagined, but his heart ached for his mother, and he wanted answers. He knew if he truly wanted things in his life to change, this was something he must do. He closed his eyes and took a flying leap into the tree.

 

Book Tour: Fields of Elysium Guest Post: A Publishing Journey





A Publishing Journey

What is an author platform and how can you get one?

If you are a new author, getting ready to publish or one who has been published already, and you don’t understand why your book doesn’t sell, you probably haven’t heard about author platforms, as was the case with me when I published my first book.

Since there are dozens of articles and posts explaining the definition of author platforms, I’ve decided to share the personal experiences of my publishing journey with you instead. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and launch a very successful writing career.

It was in 2011 when I finished my first novel American Charm.  I was so excited about it that I couldn’t wait to see it in print. While my test readers (only family members back then) read it and criticized it, I researched literary agents and my publishing options. I considered the story to be perfect because it came from my heart, and I believed as such it deserved to be on the shelves of bookstores. I decided to find an agent who would represent me at the major publishing houses. I bought guidebooks, did more research online, and finally ended up sending query letters to two prestigious agents in the business. Very soon I had to face the reality that instead of agents fighting each other to get hold of my manuscript, one of them rejected me politely, the other never responded. My pride suffered, but not my enthusiasm.

Next, I did more research and found out about Amazon KDP and Createspace self-publishing. Eager to hold and smell my first freshly printed book, I submitted my novel to an online editing company, paying them big bucks to bring the manuscript into shape, only to find out a year later that they did a sloppy job. I designed the cover, wrote a synopsis, and finally uploaded my book to Amazon but priced it way too high. I didn’t want to be compared to other self-published authors. I thought myself better. Stupid of me. Then I shared the link with my three hundred friends on Facebook, believing that they would promote it for me and the news about my newly published book would spread like wildfire. Oh boy, how wrong I was!

While I wanted the world to stop and for everybody to concentrate on my super-duper amazing story, and download, review and share it, I received a monthly report with only a dozen sales.  My husband encouraged me, saying that, considering that I’m Hungarian and English is my second language, the fact that I convinced a dozen people my book was worth their money is pretty incredible. But I wanted more. I just didn’t know how to get it. Soon I became torn between spending my limited time working on a sequel or promoting myself. I started to read articles about successful self-pub authors with great envy, hoping to learn a trick or two, but whatever I tried only boosted sales momentarily.

But I kept going. I reached out to local papers and review companies, and created a little buzz once more. The book started to sell, then the sales died down again. Finally I gave up on self-promotion and concentrated on writing, believing that either my story or my writing style was not good enough. I wanted to get better. 

Four months later I published a short novella, and by early next year the second volume of American Charm. I knew I was not going to break the bank with the new releases, but I believed I had to continue the story for those who enjoyed my first book.

However, as time went by I never stopped collecting information about self-publishing successes, so by the time I finished my fourth book, Fields of Elysium, I had a well-detailed marketing plan. Due to the fact that Fields of Elysium is a young-adult romantic fantasy, a different genre from my first series, I decided to change my author name and start afresh. I even un-published my previous novels because they are nowhere near to my new standards, but I’m planning to revise them.
Fields of Elysium was completed, proofread, and edited by a retired English professor, test-read, designed and had a cover and synopsis. I only had to start building my author platform, bring awareness to my book, and create a demand for it. I opened an account on Goodreads and started a two-month-long ARC book giveaway. By the time the novel was published, close to a thousand people marked it ‘to-read.’

I submitted it to professional review companies, like Kirkus Reviews, Readers Favorite, Reader Views Kids, Young Adult and Teen Readers, etc. to gain creditability through their respected opinions. Then I started to send queries to book bloggers and book clubs, humbly asking them to accept a free hardcopy of my book in exchange for an honest review. When I ran out of books (you have to watch your budget), I offered free e-books. Truth be told, hardcopies were more popular than e-books.

In the meantime, I bugged the life out of my already existing Facebook friends and fans with news of my upcoming hot release. Surprisingly I received positive feedback. The number of my fans started to increase, so I began to post giveaways, funny posts, romantic posts, etc., aware that I’m not really good at connecting with fans through social media sites.

With the growing awareness about my book on Goodreads and Facebook, I started to receive five-star reviews from professionals.

The big day came. Fields of Elysium was published. Knowing my former sales numbers, I was very pleased to see the first monthly report. But my job was not nearly done. I reached out to other authors in the same genre; we did author exchange reviews, along with promoting each other’s work and exchanging information.

I’m still new to the business and I learn something everyday, such as how effective book blast and blog tours can be; how important it is to join forces with similar authors and do joint promotions; and even how to price your book right.

I have learned over the past two years that building your author platform takes time and it’s necessary for traditionally published and indie authors equally. Visibility and proven reach (number of fans, comments on your posts, reviews, target-audience posts and interactions, etc.) are what agents and readers look at first before they invest in you. You have to be open to new approaches, reach out and help fellow authors, open Facebook, Twitter, Google+ accounts, set up a Goodreads page to increase your book’s visibility. Create a trailer, join book clubs as a reader not a writer, reach out to bloggers, reading communities, and above all never give up.

I still have a lot to learn, but I never stop browsing the web for new ideas. After every book I published I learned something new, and I do better with each book launch. Today I know that it’s not enough to start building awareness of your book two months in advance, because receiving reviews and organizing book blasts and blog tours take months.

I hope you will learn from my mistakes, and will be patient and won’t rush into publishing your book. If you plan to write a series, I highly recommend finishing the second and third books before you publish the first one. You will still have time to polish them, or rewrite parts between publications, but that’s still less work than trying to write an entire novel in a timely fashion while you spend six-teen hours a day on the computer to promote your first book.

And I leave the most important thing for last. It doesn’t matter how much money or how many hours you spend on building your author platform if your book doesn’t talk to the readers. All successful authors – fiction or non-fiction – have one thing in common: they were all able to strike an emotional chord in the readers; and their books were most likely well edited and proofread as well. It’s not an easy thing to do; otherwise every book would be a bestseller



A.B.Whelan is a Hungarian born, American writer. She currently lives with her husband and two children in Southern California.
While growing up in a wealthy Eastern European family, she had a chance to travel Europe. Later as an adult, she visited Africa and the Middle East and lived in Ecuador and in Crete.




Website * Facebook * Twitter

$25 Tour Giveaway
 
Ends 5/15/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://www.iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Tour and Review: Assured Destruction by Michael F. Stewart


Assured Destruction:
Sixteen-year-old Jan Rose knows that nothing is ever truly deleted. At least, not from the hard drives she scours to create the online identities she calls the Shadownet.

Hobby? Art form? Sad, pathetic plea to garner friendship, even virtually? Sure, Jan is guilty on all counts. Maybe she’s even addicted to it. It’s an exploration. Everyone has something to hide. The Shadownet’s hard drives are Jan’s secrets. They're stolen from her family’s computer recycling business Assured Destruction. If the police found out, Jan’s family would lose their livelihood.

When the real people behind Shadownet’s hard drives endure vicious cyber attacks, Jan realizes she is responsible. She doesn’t know who is targeting these people or why but as her life collapses Jan must use all her tech savvy to bring the perpetrators to justice before she becomes the next victim.


Michael F. Stewart's Bio:
After crewing ships in the Antarctic and the Baltic Sea and some fun in venture capital, Michael anchored himself (happily) to a marriage and a boatload of kids. Now he injects his adventurous spirit into his writing with brief respites for research into the jungles of Sumatra and Guatemala, the ruins of Egypt and Tik’al, paddling the Zambezi and diving whatever cave or ocean reef will have him. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and SF Canada, and the author of the Assured Destruction series, 24 Bones, The Sand Dragon, Hurakan, Ruination and several award winning graphic novels for young adults.

Formats: paperback & ebook
Release: March 22, 2013

Links



Giveaway
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 My Review:

I have to say, I was really impressed with this book. Assured Destruction was a fun, captivating, fast-paced and adventurous read. Mystery does not even begin to describe the suspense of the book once it get toward the middle of the story. Most books I don't read in one day, but this one I could not put down!

Janus Rose is a sixteen year old who works at her mother's business, Assured Destruction, a place where people go to have their electronic devices recycled or completely destroyed.  Her mother has MS and therefore relies a lot on Janus to help keep their business running and caring for her. Janus's job is to wipe clean the hard drives for recycle or send them through chop chop, their metal shedder. Easy enough right? Except, Janus is a computer wiz kid, app developer and hacker. With little to no time for socializing with kids her own age or anyone for that matter, Janus creates her very own social network of family and friends called 'Shadownet' out of the discarded hard drives of Assured Destruction's clients, including her real life classmates and friends. Everything is fine until one day she gets a laptop from a mysterious foxy lady which she is suppose to promptly destroy, only she doesn't when she finds it belongs to a classmate, Johnny. She proceeds to create a Johnny profile to add to her "friend" circle. But soon things go wrong, really wrong. Her real life friends begin to come under attack online (and offline) and information only found on their "discarded" hard drive begins to appear all over the web. It is not before long, Janus finds herself tangled in a web of deceit, danger and death, as well as the loss of her family's only source of income. Janus defies all logic and goes after the culprit trying to destroy her, her family and friends.

What I liked:
I loved the character, Janus. She was well developed. She felt like a real teen, smart, responsible (sort of), strong-willed, sassy, creative and perfectly flawed. Her decision making skills were quite lacking. While I think she deserved everything that happened (minus the injury but kids have to learn their actions have consequences), I was rooting for her the whole way. I loved that she had the integrity to fix her mistakes and to protect her family and friends (even the ones who turned on her).

The story was unique. I don't think I have read anything like it. It was modern, even I could relate to the use of present day technology and social media. It addressed a real present day problem of not being careful with your data, identity theft. While Janus, did not pose a real threat, others do.

What I didn't like:
The love triangle. I'm not a fan of romance so I was not all that into the love triangle. I thought it was pointless. While I loved the ending, I thought the last line was a bit cheesy and a bit over dramatic. I think the author did a great job keeping the pace however there was one part that I felt was a over described and  bit drawn out. I don't know if it was because it was overdone, or the nature of the scene, or because I was so tensed and terrified for Janus that the scene seemed to take so long to get through. I found myself trying to skim over it to get to her actual escape and rescue.

Overall, I enjoyed Assured Destruction. It is a fast, engaging, and entertaining read, great for a rainy day.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Tour and Review: January Black by Wendy S Russo

Tour Schedule
January Black Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school’s headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty’s future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master’s diploma. More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple. What was January Black? It’s a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty’s journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He's been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost...or call the king’s bluff.  
Praise Refreshingly intelligent and loads of fun! I lost a few hours as I read this book. It's a Young Adult novel that is refreshingly and astonishingly intelligent, and the love story is perfectly played out. ~Christine Ashworth, Amazon Review The mystery was intriguing - I loved how Wendy Russo weaved in all her secrets throughout the book, how she incorporated just enough to keep you reading, while never actually divulging much of anything. I was guessing for most of it and that's pretty hard to make me do. ~Julie, Clean Teen Reads Wendy Russo has created a masterpiece. ~Ivan Amberlake, Author   Book Trailer
Author Wendy S. Russo Wendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she’s majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, taken a course on short novels, and watched most everything ever filmed by Quentin Tarantino. A Wyoming native transplanted in Baton Rouge, Wendy works for Louisiana State University as an IT analyst. She’s a wife, a mom, a Tiger, a Who Dat, and she falls asleep on her couch at 8:30 on weeknights.  
My Review:

January Black was an appealing, fast-paced coming-of-age story. It had all the right ingredients to keep the reader engaged and entertained. What was January Black? The quest to answer this question is the fuel behind the story. But readers are taken on a journey of twists, turns, hidden secrets and agendas, a lost garden and downright lies before discovering the answer. Oh, and romance. I guess it would not be a YA novel if it did not have that element in the story as well. My review will be divided into what I liked about the book and what I didn't like.

What I liked:

January Black was fast-paced and had an engaging plot with interesting characters. The first chapter opens with Iris racing through the streets to prevent Matty from opening the doors of the Lost Garden, an act punishable by death. But instead, she actually leads the police to Matty in which he is captured and taken away but not before he leaves her with a task. "January Black, Iris!" The story then goes back two years where everything begins with Matty taking the King's challenge for a master's diploma. "What was January Black?" because it was NOT a ship. The author did a great job developing the main characters. While Iris played a huge role in forcing Matty to "grow up" she was not my favorite character. However they did make a cute couple and team. King Hadrian, Matty and Elijah Ducayn were my favorites. Hadrian made a cool big brother figure for Matty but even at the beginning, I could tell there had to be something else that made the king treat Matty differently, not just his wits, smarts and knack for getting into mischief in school. Matty and his father's relationship was a tense one but again, there was something off about it. Elijah was hard on Matty but for some reason, I did not get the impression that he hated Matty. Toward the end, you find out why. Secret Societies are always an added bonus! And this story has one that keeps the corrupt government of Colombia very busy. I was thrilled to find out who the "Cowboy" was in the story :D They have a vested interest in Matty and his quest to find the answer to "What was January Black?" and "righting the way of the world" and bringing about freedom. World building. While the author built an intriguing world, I was not sure if the people were immigrants from another world/planet of if they simply migrated from another continent. It wasn't till the end that it was made clear. Great thing though, it did not pose a problem while reading the story. The bottom line, the citizens of Columbia were the descendants of migrants looking to find a new home, life, opportunity, liberty and freedom. But three hundred years later, it was anything but that. Politics. I have never liked politics but I feel the author did a great job exploring the political atmosphere of Colombia's past and present. Government corruption, civil discourse, American history, add a bit of science fiction all made this very interesting read. Even in novels it seems history tends to repeat its self.

What I didn't like:

The story was promoted as a clean teen read due to the relationship between Matty and Iris. But I have to disagree. For much of the book, it was okay but there was still quite a bit of content, implied and explicit. For example Matty being aroused sexually, detailed description of them kissing, making out and sleeping together. I was grateful that the author did not go into much detail of their actual sex encounter, it was treated more like an after thought. There was also the use of profanity in the book that I did not like.

***********************

Overall, I have to say I enjoyed the story, the plot, the characters and the mystery of January Black even though it was NOT a "clean" read by my standards.

January Black 100th Amazon Review Giveaway
 
january black promo
More Information:
 
Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 5/8/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.  a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Showers of Books Giveaway Blog Hop 4/24/13-4/30/13

 

It Raining in Seattle! 
So what better time to curl up with a cup of tea (or coffee) and a good book? 
 
I love giveaways. I love reading, especially on a rainy day. Rain makes for wonderful and soothing background music. :) A big thanks to I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Books a la Mode for hosting this giveaway hop. I will be giving away a collection of children's books and a ten dollar gift card. That's right, there will be two winners :) First place winner may choose their prize and the second place winner will receive the other prize.

Rules:

* Must be 18 and over
* Must reside in the US to receive the book prize
* Must fill out the rafflecopter form
a Rafflecopter giveaway
As always, this is a hop. There are over 200 participants with fabulous giveaways! So happy hopping! :D

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Tour and Review: The Life is Too Short Collection

 

Life is Too Short Collection

Are you looking for a fabulous life boost today? The Life is Too Short series is just what you need. Written by Connie Sokol—mother of seven, author, speaker, and amazing matching sock finder—these humorous self-development columns give you just the right amount of fun and functional. Originally written for a major newspaper and magazines, you can now enjoy the entire collection in one book. Put your feet up and laugh as you relate to time-tested tips on being a woman, wife, and mother. You'll learn the cozy stuff of how to adjust expectations, have faith in your dreams, and lighten up in motherhood. And, you'll learn a few life skills such as easy spring cleaning, simplifying the holidays, and creating successful goals. It's the perfect gift for any woman! Short, funny, insightful, these quick power columns are ideal anytime, anywhere, to rejuvenate your mind and soul.

Amazon

  Review from I Love to Read & Review Books:
For some laughter therapy read this book! I LOVED the funny stories in each chapter followed by a LIFE TIP to help you put into practice the things you just learned...and as an added bonus...there is a BOOK PICK to further your enlightenment on the subject.
  Author Connie Sokol
Connie Sokol is a mother of seven, a national and local presenter, and a regular speaker at Education Week. She is a monthly contributor on KSL TV “Studio 5,” and regular blogger for KSL "Motherhood Matters." She is a former TV and radio host for Bonneville Communications, and columnist for Deseret News and Utah Valley Magazine. Mrs. Sokol is the author of several books including the award-nominated romance Caribbean Crossroads, the 8-week Challenge program of Faithful, Fit & Fabulous, Life is Too Short for One Hair Color Series, as well as talk CDs and podcasts. Mrs. Sokol marinates in time spent with her family and eating decadent treats.

Website * Facebook

Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card Ends 5/7/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://www.iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

My Review: 

 Honest, down to earth, humorous and inspiring, Life is Too Short is the perfect read for a quiet rainy day. I enjoyed it quite a bit. It is always nice to see another woman's perspective on life. I love that Connie was so open and real about what it is to be a woman, a mom, and a wife. Life is too Short is arranged in three main sections, womanhood, wifehood and motherhood. Every section is comprised of  many short essays that offer tips, reflections and humor. Enjoy reading all in one sitting or read snippets curled up on the couch by a crackling fire place with a cup of tea, or hiding out in the bathroom from the chaos of home/family life. I really appreciate that there is an essay for just about any woman to relate too. One great take away I got from the book was that life indeed is much too short to sweat the little stuff. Be who you are, enjoy life and live one moment at a time.



Monday, April 15, 2013

Book Review: The Silver Sphere by Michael Dadich



The Silver Sphere


Shelby Pardow never imagined killing someone. That's about to change.

While hiding from her troubled father in the local library, Shelby stares at a flashing instant message on her computer: YOU ARE NEEDED. She discovers a portal that opens and teleports her to the planet Azimuth, where soldiers await. Here, she is not a child but a warrior, Kin to one of the six Aulic Assembly members imprisoned by Malefic Cacoethes, the daunting leader of the Nightlanders.

Malefic, the evil spawn of the demon Biskara, razes towns and cities in his quest to rule Azimuth, and yearns to turn his forces against Earth. Yet every time Biskara gets close to achieving his malevolent goals, the Assembly uses the Silver Sphere, a sophisticated armillary device, to thwart him.

With the Assembly deposed, Biskara directing Malefic's conquests, and the Silver Sphere out of reach, Shelby is thrust into an unforgettable quest with her fellow Kin. She must learn to kill and lead an army into battle, or Azimuth—and Earth—will fall.

My Review:

While not my favorite book of the year, this was a really interesting book. The Silver Sphere starts of with the introduction of Shelby, so one thinks that she is the main character and that the story will be written from her point of view. However, the story quickly goes from one character to about six. The Aulic Assembly each have a kin, a teenager from earth that acts as a mind link to the members. The shift in the various points of view got a little confusing and was a tad bit hard to keep up with who was who, where and what was happening to them. There was even another character, Nick, that kind of threw me off but his importance is later proved toward the end of the story, but it was a bit of a distraction. Once the stories converged, it was a lot easier to focus and enjoy.

It was a true good vs evil story. The kids go to another world to do battle against the son of an evil being, otherwise known as Satan on earth, and his army of various beasts and creatures.

The world building was nice, it was different. The reader visits earth, Azimuth and a mystic plane where the truthseekers reside.

The story was fast paced; something was happening in every chapter that moved the characters along.

I liked most of the characters. Funny thing, the only character I did not really connect with was the main character, Shelby. It was really hard connecting with her given all that I knew about her, abusive dad, no mom, etc.  My favorite characters however were, Throg, Zach and Stuart. They were real and tangible. Funny and brave. :D I wish Riley, Emily and Max were more defined.

The relationships for the most part between the characters were a bit awkward. Don't get me wrong, this was my kind of story, CLEAN, no romance but immediately you see a relationship between Max and Shelby forming. But given the fact that they were total strangers, thrown into gruesome battle with terrifying creatures and Satan of all things, how do you have time to start a relationship? But honestly, I will take that over them having at it in the dark forest! 

The ending was a bit rushed. I was not too happy with that. The author threw in some interesting twists that set the stage for a second book but at the same time left too many questions as to how the kids got back home, what happened to Malefic, the result of the war on planet Azimuth. Also, we only know what happens when Shelby returns to earth but not the other kin.

Overall, I would give this story *** and half stars. It was interesting, entertaining and a quick read.

The Silver Sphere Book Tour




Shelby Pardow never imagined killing someone. That’s about to change.

While hiding from her troubled father in the local library, Shelby stares at a flashing instant message on her computer: YOU ARE NEEDED. She discovers a portal that opens and teleports her to the planet Azimuth, where soldiers await. Here, she is not a child but a warrior, Kin to one of the six Aulic Assembly members imprisoned by Malefic Cacoethes, the daunting leader of the Nightlanders.

Malefic, the evil spawn of the demon Biskara, razes towns and cities in his quest to rule Azimuth, and yearns to turn his forces against Earth. Yet every time Biskara gets close to achieving his malevolent goals, the Assembly uses the Silver Sphere, a sophisticated armillary device, to thwart him.
With the Assembly deposed, Biskara directing Malefic’s conquests, and the Silver Sphere out of reach, Shelby is thrust into an unforgettable quest with her fellow Kin. She must learn to kill and lead an army into battle, or Azimuth—and Earth—will fall.

 Author Michael Dadich
I’ve been writing since first setting pencil to steno pad at age 8. A year later, I began developing the world of my current series-in-progress, and even created its title, The Silver Sphere. Now, with the support of years of experience, those early maps and back stories have progressed into what I hope is a fresh and entertaining take on the classic young adult fantasy adventure.
Despite my frequent escapes into parallel worlds, I root myself firmly in my very real family and community. When not pacing the yard maniacally after every few pages of writing, I spend as much time as possible hanging out with my studly 9-year-old son, and my inspirational wife Jenna. I also coach several local youth sports teams in Beverly Hills, and alternate between yelling at my two crazy Corgis and hiking with my trained German Shepherd.
For more, join me in my favorite fantasy worlds, from Lord of the Rings to the creations of C.S. Lewis, Anne McCaffrey and Terry Brooks. Even more importantly, stop by and say hello on my Facebook page at AuthorMichaelDadich, tweet me at @MichaelDadich, and stalk my website at http://www.thesilversphere.org.

release day trailer

Links






Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Blast: January Black by Wendy Russo


January Black

Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school’s headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty’s future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master’s diploma.

More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple.

What was January Black?

It’s a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty’s journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He's been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost...or call the king’s bluff.




Praise
Refreshingly intelligent and loads of fun!
I lost a few hours as I read this book. It's a Young Adult novel that is refreshingly and astonishingly intelligent, and the love story is perfectly played out.
~Christine Ashworth, Amazon Review

The mystery was intriguing - I loved how Wendy Russo weaved in all her secrets throughout the book, how she incorporated just enough to keep you reading, while never actually divulging much of anything. I was guessing for most of it and that's pretty hard to make me do.
~Julie, Clean Teen Reads

Wendy Russo has created a masterpiece.
~Ivan Amberlake, Author


Book Trailer



Author Wendy S. Russo

Wendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she’s majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, taken a course on short novels, and watched most everything ever filmed by Quentin Tarantino. A Wyoming native transplanted in Baton Rouge, Wendy works for Louisiana State University as an IT analyst. She’s a wife, a mom, a Tiger, a Who Dat, and she falls asleep on her couch at 8:30 on weeknights.


BookBlast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 5/5/13
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


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Monday, April 8, 2013

Book Review: January Black by Wendy S. Russo




January Black

Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school’s headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty’s future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master’s diploma.
More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple.
What was January Black?
It’s a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty’s journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He’s been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost…or call the king’s bluff.

About the Author:
Wendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she’s majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, taken a course on short novels, and watched most everything ever filmed by Quentin Tarantino. A Wyoming native transplanted in Baton Rouge, Wendy works for Louisiana State University as an IT analyst. She’s a wife, a mom, a Tiger, a Who Dat, and she falls asleep on her couch at 8:30 on weeknights.


My Review:


January Black was an appealing, fast-paced coming-of-age story. It had all the right ingredients to keep the reader engaged and entertained. What was January Black? The quest to answer this question is the fuel behind the story. But readers are taken on a journey of twists, turns, hidden secrets and agendas, a lost garden and downright lies before discovering the answer. Oh, and romance. I guess it would not be a YA novel if it did not have that element in the story as well. My review will be divided into what I liked about the book and what I didn't like.

What I liked:
January Black was fast-paced and had an engaging plot with interesting characters.
The first chapter opens with Iris racing through the streets to prevent Matty from opening the doors of the Lost Garden, an act punishable by death. But instead, she actually leads the police to Matty in which he is captured and taken away but not before he leaves her with a task. "January Black, Iris!" The story then goes back two years where everything begins with Matty taking the King's challenge for a master's diploma. "What was January Black?" because it was NOT a ship.

The author did a great job developing the main characters. While Iris played a huge role in forcing Matty to "grow up" she was not my favorite character. However they did make a cute couple and team. King Hadrian, Matty and Elijah Ducayn were my favorites. Hadrian made a cool big brother figure for Matty but even at the beginning, I could tell there had to be something else that made the king treat Matty differently, not just his wits, smarts and knack for getting into mischief in school. Matty and his father's relationship was a tense one but again, there was something off about it. Elijah was hard on Matty but for some reason, I did not get the impression that he hated Matty. Toward the end, you find out why.

Secret Societies are always an added bonus! And this story has one that keeps the corrupt government of Colombia very busy. I was thrilled to find out who the "Cowboy" was in the story :D They have a vested interest in Matty and his quest to find the answer to "What was January Black?" and "righting the way of the world" and bringing about freedom.

World building. While the author built an intriguing world, I was not sure if the people were immigrants from another world/planet of if they simply migrated from another continent. It wasn't till the end that it was made clear. Great thing though, it did not pose a problem while reading the story. The bottom line, the citizens of Columbia were the descendants of migrants looking to find a new home, life, opportunity, liberty and freedom. But three hundred years later, it was anything but that.

Politics. I have never liked politics but I feel the author did a great job exploring the political atmosphere of Colombia's past and present. Government corruption, civil discourse, American history, add a bit of science fiction all made this very interesting read. Even in novels it seems history tends to repeat its self.

What I didn't like:
The story was promoted as a clean teen read due to the relationship between Matty and Iris. But I have to disagree. For much of the book, it was okay but there was still quite a bit of content, implied and explicit. For example Matty being aroused sexually, detailed description of them kissing, making out and sleeping together.  I was grateful that the author did not go into much detail of their actual sex encounter, it was treated more like an after thought. There was also the use of profanity in the book that I did not like.

***********************

Overall, I have to say I enjoyed the story, the plot, the characters and the mystery of January Black even though it was NOT a "clean" read by my standards.




Member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators