Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Queen's Poisoner (The Kingfountain Series #1) by Jeff Wheeler

To survive as a hostage in the court of Kingfountain, eight-year-old Owen Kiskaddon must find help among the adults from the king’s chilling inner chambers to the warm and inviting kitchen.

As Owen wanders the secret passages of the labyrinthine castle he learns to recognize the magic of the fountain that is bubbling through him, he gathers allies and avoids enemies among a cast of well-developed characters including the mysterious Queen’s Poisoner who dwells in secrecy.  

Wheeler’s understanding and ability to express the emotions of his young hero creates a political drama that will draw in readers of all ages.

Based on the War of the Roses, but don’t expect Game of Thrones or Shakespeare’s Richard III. Thought-provoking and moving, this well-paced mystery within a clean fantasy is constructed in the often hard-to-maintain third-person point of view. 

Wheeler’s writing style is straightforward – no long, flowery descriptions nor much internal dialogue. While the sentences and chapters are short, they keep the plot moving, the protagonists and antagonists creating intrigue, and the reader up late at night.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Wrinkles by Mian Mohsin Zia

Wrinkles: A True Love Story by Mian Mohsin Zia
“Wrinkles” by Mian Mohsin Zia WINS Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest 2016 held in USA.

According to Readers' Favorite the 2016 Readers' Favorite International Book Award Contest featured thousands of contestants from over a dozen countries.

Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest features entries from new authors to New York Times best-sellers, as well as Hollywood celebrities like "Jim Carrey" and "Henry Winkler".

Mian Mohsin Zia is an International Award Winning Author, Self-Publishing Specialist & a Marketing Specialist.

About the Book:

Wrinkles is a tender story of unconditional love that crosses generations and genders, cultures and creeds and removes the wrinkles from souls. Well-developed characters that carry beyond the pages from Cape Town, South Africa into readers’ hearts and reveal the wrinkles resident there. Zia is a voice for tolerance and change one person, and perhaps one wrinkle at a time. Once again the author takes a slice of a life lived by a strong, complex central character in a circle of relationships that makes him everyman (and everywoman by extension). He asks the hard questions of life and leads readers to sometimes surprising answers that hold TRUTH that teach and transcend without a hint of didacticism.

I have enjoyed watching Zia’s writing career unfold from book to book. He is a strong voice of not only literary Pakistan but the literary world without pretension, heavy-handedness or wordiness. His writing is honed and deep while telling a simple story in simple words that is not simplistic and lingers long after the final page is read.

About the Author

Mian Mohsin Zia aka "M I A N---No Time for Love" is a brilliant, humble and dedicated author obsessed with writing great books. He is an Internationally acclaimed Pakistani author, marketing, and self-publishing specialist. His books have been rated 4 and 5 stars on Amazon and other sales channels. He has set new trends worldwide in novel writing with his books. New York Times bestseller & Edgar Award winner author Mr. Burl Barer refers to Mian Mohsin Zia as "the brightest light on Pakistan's new literary horizon." For more visit: www.mianmohsinzia.com

I received a .pdf copy of this book from the author to read and respond with my unbiased review.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Author Interview Brenda Baker

Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
I’ve always liked writing and telling stories, but I didn’t get serious about writing until later in life.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I think all characters are based on real people. I mix their traits to create unique, different characters needed for a particular story. 

What was the most interesting research you had to do for your books?
I wanted to write about an eating disorder, but bulimia and anorexia have been covered extensively, so I found out binge-eating disorder is a real affliction.

Where do you go to do your research?
I can usually find enough information on the internet to cover any topic. The main character’s best friend in “Surviving Haley,” is a girl from India. Since some of my students and their families come from India, I knew a bit about their culture. For the rest, I read online articles. 

How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story?  Is the process the same for every book you write?  How long does it take you to write a book? 
I start with a subject I feel passionate about and then develop a main character to fit the story. Overeating and homelessness are two things that interest me. Yes, the process was the same for the second book. I picked a subject and went on from there. It takes me at least a year to complete a first draft and then longer to rewrite it. I do rewrite chapters as I go, but then I have to analyze the whole story when I’m done and fix any plot issues.

Are you currently working on any new book projects?

Yes. I’m almost finished with another YA contemporary novel about a girl whose family loses their house through foreclosure and end up living at a campground.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a book?  Do you have any advice for them regarding promoting that book once published?

If you want to be a writer, don’t give up. Keep writing. If you want to be an author (a published writer) you will have to work the business side of writing as well. Be prepared to promote yourself and your work online and in person. Establish relationships with other writers and future readers. Have an online presence even before you are published.

What’s your writing schedule like?  When do you find time to write?

I write every week, but not necessarily every day. Although I’m currently shooting for 500 words per day. I’m not a morning person, so it’s better if I write in the late afternoon or evening.

Do you have any writing idiosyncrasies? 
 Yeah, I whisper words as I’m typing them. It helps me know how a passage sounds.

What’s the most challenging aspect of writing for you? ~ POV issues; using too much passive voice and not enough active voice; trouble creating active and engaging dialogue; using too many similar words in starting sentences; or something else?

Definitely plotting. I don’t outline or even plan out my chapters and scenes—they happen on the page. It would be easier to plan ahead, but ideas don’t come to me when I try. I get a chapter written then my critique group comments on it. I’ll often rewrite that chapter before I go on to the next.    

Brenda Baker is a teacher who lives in Nebraska with her husband and a mixed husky. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, word games, swimming, traveling, and spending time with family.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Break from the norm. Recover your identity. Express your creativity.

Morrison, Erika. Bandersnatch: An Invitation to Explore Your Unconventional Soul. Thomas Nelson – W Publishing, 2015.
Contemporary Christianity seems to be suffering from an epidemic of sameness. Uniformity. Monotony. Those trapped inside are often afraid to step beyond established norms and express their creativity, and those on the outside often see little that attracts them. Yet God, out of the abundance of his own creative force, made each one of us unique. Peculiar. Irreplaceable. So why so much pressure to conform?
Bandersnatch* explores this intersection of disillusionment by inviting readers on a journey of liberation. It’s organized around four creative terms viewed through the life of Jesus: Avant-Garde, Alchemy, Anthropology, and Art. Each expression reveals a diverse facet of God’s unorthodox creativity planted within us.
Providing a fresh look at God’s avant-garde nature and a new set of definitions by which to live, Erika Morrison gives us permission to break free from the expectations and labels that cramp our souls. Only in embracing our uniqueness can we create artful, holistic lives that matter to both heaven and earth.
*A Bandersnatch, while more commonly known as the wild, ferocious, and mythical creature of Lewis Carroll’s creation, is also a person with unconventional habits and attitudes.

Morrison’s ability to encourage ability and courage to step outside the norm of our society into a place where we can live out our faith. I believe her approach encourages to us to “work out our faith” (Philippians 2:12) by a willingness to cross over into the life and teachings of Jesus in such a way that we lead original and creative lives that draw others to Christ.

The energy Morrison brings to living faith, and her ability to show rather than tell, captures the reader and takes them through the looking glass to a perfected and redefined life and intentional lifestyle that is exciting and god-breathed.

I received a complimentary proof of this book from the publisher through Net Galley for my unbiased review.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Kat McGee and the School of Christmas Spirit by Rebecca Munsterer and Georgiana Manderoli

Munsterer, Rebecca. Kat McGee and the School of Christmas Spirit. Illustrated by Georgianna Manderoli. 2nd ed. New York: In This Together Media, 2012, 2013.

Formats: Paperback, eBook
ISBN-10:0985895632; ISBN-13:978-0-9858956-3-1; ISBN-10:0985895624; ISBN-13:978-0-98589952-2-4

Ever since she had an accident on thas stuck like glue. Even worse, she lives in a household where she is the middle and only average child. So in fifth grade, Kat decides to reinvent herself. She sets her sights on the Totsville Christe roller coaster in four years ago Kat McGee’s nickname “Kat McPee” hmas Pageant. However, Kat was not chosen for ANY role in the biggest celebration in Totsville. Then it seems Mr. Mudge is bribing Principal Pratt to have his daughter play the part of Mary, the pageant’s most coveted role. 

Gram is the only one that believes she is special. Moreover, it turns out she went to school with Mrs. Claus – THE MRS. CLAUS. Then there is the magic snow globe by her bed, that takes her directly to the North Pole. Mrs. Claus runs The School of Christmas Spirit” where real Elves are teachers, mentors, and chaperones and the chosen children will learn worthiness, wonder, will, and whimsy. However, somehow, all is not as it should be. Is Kat unique enough to coach the reindeer and save Santa and Christmas?

A great Christmas story with an underlying message of the specialness of every child. Includes Christmas activities for families to build the values and virtues Kat learns during her time at the North Pole and a recipe for tasty Candyfruit Confection (an every morning delight at The School of Christmas Spirit). It is too bad, Mr. Mudge and Principal Pratt either didn’t get selected for Mrs. Claus’ school, or they forgot what they learned. Well written and will appeal to late elementary school girls especially.

Ages 8-10

Rating 4.5 stars

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Baldacci, David. The Finisher.

A Place Where Wrong as Wrong Can Be

Baldacci, David. The Finisher. New York: Scholastic Press, 2014.

ISBN: 978-0-545-65220-9

Five Stars

Tags: Young Adult, Middle School, Grades 6-9, Fantasy

Vega Jane has never left the village of Wormwood. But that isn’t unusual – no Wug has ever left Wormwood. At least not until Quentin Herms vanishes into the unknown. Vega knows he was chased into the Quag that surrounds the village. Quentin leaves Vega Jane a very dangerous set of clues only she can decode.
       As dangerous as the dark Quag with its tangled undergrowth and deadly beasts are the the Council and influential people within Wormwood who are willing to kill to hold their secrets and their power. Vega is the only Wug determined to discover the truth, but the closer she gets the more she risks her life and the lifes of those she has loved since her birth light.

       David Baldacci, author of twenty-seven books for adult readers has created an imaginative world for young adult readers where things are as wrong as wrong can be. A world filled with beasts, secrets and hidden magic. And, an unforgettable heroine and supporting characters that made me begin again as soon as I had finished. (Oh, and the second book in the series The Keeper has just been published.)

Friday, August 28, 2015

An Interview with Author Ella Jackson

E. C. Jackson

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I’m excited. Finally, the number one goal of my freshman English class has been realized. After a lifetime of wanting to write books, “A Gateway to Hope” is published. This one accomplishment answers many years of prayers.  

Describe the plot of “A Gateway to Hope” in a few sentences.

Neka (Nikhol Lacey) is a beautiful twenty-one-year-old introvert. Without a word to anyone, she leaves home to support a friend when his fiancée breaks off their engagement. James Copley is twenty-nine and every woman’s dream man. Despite his fiancée’s desertion, James still needs a fiancée so he can take control of his family’s business. Neka’s arrival offers the perfect solution to Teri’s defection — until Neka’s father attempts to maneuver James’s scheme into fulfilling the Lacey agenda. 

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?

Anyone who wonders what their life might have been had they made different choices. And those still seeking God’s purpose for their life.  

What inspired you to write a book about a shy, beautiful young woman who has the opportunity to help out her friend in a very unique way?

I believe that there is a little of Neka in all of us, but life has a way of muddying those unique qualities everyone receives from God. Difficulties, missed chances and thwarted dreams obscure our pathway, and then we accept the mundane instead of utilizing our natural gifts and talents. Neka can allow life to lead her into an alternate position or she can make decisions that fulfill her destiny.

Tell us a bit about the protagonists, Neka and James Copley.

Though grief came from different sources, they both suffered hurts while growing up. Neka masked the pain by putting on a brave face and pretending not to notice the exclusion and snide remarks. James harnessed each attack, using them to validate his calculating behavior.  

What are some of the challenges Neka and James face?

Can they embrace a life together without losing themselves in the process? How do they blend two diverse lifestyles into one? And they must decide if it’s worth taking a chance on each other.  

Who was your favorite character to write?

Actually, I liked writing both characters equally. I enjoyed Neka’s optimistic approach to life as she came to terms with reality. And James’s self-styled stage managing of everyone else’s life bumps heads against another master manipulator.

How do you hope readers react to “A Gateway to Hope”?

A Gateway to Hope

I hope they relate to the characters as believable and see the story as a real slice of life. That is part of the slogan on my website. The write way – a real slice of life. 

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing style?

Jane Austen. I’m pulled into her stories, especially my all-time favorite book, “Pride and Prejudice.”   

Tell us about your creative process, from initial idea to published manuscript.

The story flowed once I placed my fingers on the keys. Yet, I learned a lot through writing this first book. It’s hard to believe that I rewrote each chapter several times before moving on to the next one. However, I wised up halfway through the first draft and wrote the last 15 chapters before critiquing them. Many scenes were removed during the editing stage. No more overwriting. 

While writing “A Gateway to Hope,” did you ever use personal experiences as a reference?

On occasion, I identified with certain aspects of both characters.

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of eBooks?  

Publishing the e-Book was simpler than publishing the paperback.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?

Writing one bestseller per year that adds purpose to the reader’s life.

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?

Book promotion is difficult. The introvert in me shies away from exposure.

What do you have in mind for your next project?

Another standalone book following the hope theme.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?

“A Gateway to Hope” was a labor of love. I hope everyone enjoys Neka and James’s story just as much as I enjoyed sharing it with them.

The interview was featured on: http://www.writersinterviews.com