Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book Tour: Stitch!

Stitch Themes: Finding Balance

        Balance can be a difficult thing to achieve, and no one knows that better than Alessa, the main character of Stitch. In most respects Alessa is a perfectly normal college girl, but sometimes it seems like her life is stuck on a pendulum that’sconstantly swinging back and forth to the most extreme degree. So learning to cope with the dynamic world she lives in, and finding balance in her own character, will be some of her biggest struggles both in Stitch and throughout the Stitch trilogy.

        When you meet Alessa, she’s just starting her first year of college at a big state university where she feels like nothing but a number. She’s struggling to fit in with the bubbly, upbeat girls in her sorority house and her schoolwork sometimes feels like an avalanche that she can’t quite seem to dig her way out from under. She’s trying to claw her way out of a depression, but things are looking bleaker and bleaker for her every day.

        But things weren’t always this way for Alessa. In high school, she was an all-star student. Stellar grades, a resume of extracurricular a mile long, and high hopes of getting into a prestigious college. She was someone in her high school, someone with prospects and every chance of achieving her dreams. But then her parents died in a tragic accident, and everything just fell apart.

        So here Alessa is, in her first year of school trying to put the pieces back together and get her life back to some semblance of normal. And then she starts seeing the ghost. The ghost turns her life upside-down along a different spectrum. Suddenly Alessa’s questioning everything she ever believed about science and myths, and wondering how much is going on in this world that she never thought possible. On top of that, every sighting of the ghost sends her emotions into overdrive – she can’t move, can’t think, can only feel this intense rush of sorrow and pain and inexplicable allure – and then when it’s over she’s numb, just utterly exhausted and dead inside.

        It seems that no matter what Alessa does, she can’t seem to find a happy medium. She lets loose at party and has a fabulous time, until it all comes crashing down and she finds herself sprawled across her bedroom floor, desperate for answers that she doesn’t have the power to find. She goes to bed early some nights to give her drained body some rest, and instead she wakes up at 3 in the morning in a cold sweat, still reeling from eerily lifelike nightmares featuring none other than her ghostly obsession.

        It begins to seem that things couldn’t possibly get worse for Alessa – and then a close friend drops a bombshell that shatters everything she ever believed about her life. Now she’s in real danger, every move a question of life or death, and she doesn’t know if she has it in her to make it through intact. But the more Alessa thinks about what happened to her, the angrier she becomes, to the point that her rage blinds her to caution. She makes mistakes, and over the course of the series, she pays for them, dearly.

        Balance is not an easy thing for any of us to achieve. The world around us is constantly shifting under our feet, making us question who we are and what we’re capable of. And unfortunately for Alessa, no one’s world is less secure than hers. She’s waging a battle inside and out to come to terms with the realities she’s facing, and to reconcile her own ability to affect the outcomes. If she can find a balance between optimism and despair, caution and impudence, revenge and mercy, she may make it out alive. But if she can’t, she’ll lose everything – and everyone – she ever loved.

        Check out book one of the Stitch trilogy today to follow Alessa on the beginning of her journey! Available now at Amazon,Barnes& Noble, and Smashwords in print and e-book formats starting at only $2.99. Keep up with the Stitch Blog Tour all month long for giveaways, author interviews, and guest appearances from Stitch characters! Full schedule available here.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I Am The Messenger Review

Title: I Am The Messenger

Author: Markus Zusak
Illustrator: David Goldin
Genre: Mystery
Age: 12+
Pages: 357 (Paperback)
Publisher: Knopf Books

        Ed Kennedy is an under aged cab driver with no plans or goals in life. He spends his nights playing cards with his friends and on his days off he hangs around his old shack with his coffee loving dog named the Doorman. Ed is what we call a man with a routine. Day in and day out he drives people, plays cards, and talks to his dog. That is until he happens to stop a bank robbery. Soon after the publicity and news articles, Ed receives a playing card. An ace to be exact. With it are street names written on the back. Now Ed must help people he doesn't know in order to fulfill his destiny as a messenger!

        I Am the Messenger was very interesting in its own way. The characters were extremely detailed and deep. All of them had more flaws then good qualities mostly because of their past. I liked how at the end you saw more and more of the characters backgrounds and soon learned to appreciate them more. They were very sarcastic and witty, which made me like stepping in the protagonists shoes.

        This novel made me fall head over heels for it and I didn't know why. The themes and messages were very well done and the novel was created so well to deliver them. It's funny really that I didn't realize it by reading the title. Anyways I enjoyed the themes that small acts can change someone else's life. This is a quote which explains it perfectly at the end of the novel. "If a guy like you can stand up and do what you did, then maybe everyone can. Maybe everyone can live beyond what they're capable of."
Doesn't that just give you the chills?

        The only concern I had with this book is that some of the messages delivered by Ed seemed way too simple and fast. Especially the ones towards the end. It seemed as if the author wanted to finish them quickly and go on to his grand finale. Of course this was quite insignificant considering the amazingness of this novel.

        I greatly recommend anyone to pick this book up. Regardless of your genre preference it'll blow you away!

Available on Amazon

Rating: 4/5



Monday, September 24, 2012

Insurgent Review

Title: Insurgent 

Author: Veronica Roth
Illustrator: --------
Genre: Dystopian
Age: 14+
Pages: 525 (Hardcover)
Publisher: HarperCollins

Book One Review (Divergent)

        Erudite has declared war upon Abnegation and soon people must decide if the oppose Erudite or want to work for them. Tris is at the core of this war and she must find the strength to fight off her grief and guilt before she can fight Erudite. Destroying the traitors is only half the battle. They must discover the motives behind the attack. In a society that is so abnormal people must choose faction over blood, freedom over love, and truth over greed in order to get to the bottom of this!

        Insurgentwas one of those deep young adult dystopian themed books. The character complexity was very well done and there were many believable aspects about them. Tris had a lot of burdened anguish and grief which made her a depressive character. While I could not relate to her situation at hand I really felt her guilt and in some way I felt bad for her and the situation she was put in. Even side characters such as Marcus and Jeanine had some complex issues which weren't surfaced much but were still visible.

        The lack of action in the novel was cushioned by the plot twists which were pretty much spread out through the reading experience. Of course at the end we really had its full force and really understood how big the twists could affect the story or the readers. I liked how the twists were very unexpected and were quite risky on the author's part. I mean they weren't necessary but really added that extra spice to the brew!

        I believe that Roth showed us the true meaning of a young adult novel. While the characters were complex this was reinforced by the fact that they had a lot of inner conflicts. Just to name a few. Tris held her grief and guilt inside. She lied a lot to save others and was somewhat depressed. Tobias had a hard time trusting Tris and he was constantly tormented by his own father. Insurgent did a great job working on the emotional levels character wise and was rewarded in the end.

        While the plot twists did in fact cushion the lack of action I was still very disappointed by it and felt as if I was reading the Hunger Games all over again. I mean you can't start a series strongly and then go downhill from there. Anyways this was one of the big downfalls for Insurgent and it really annoyed me.

       I enjoyed Divergent because it had so many characters and the relationships were well established. I felt as if Insurgent broke all those relationships and moved everyone apart. No one felt really close and we did not see Tris with the help of an amazing friend. It was always Tris and four. I understand that the love relationship has to blossom but having friends on the side would of helped smoothen the plot line.

        If you're a Divergent fan then I bet you'll enjoy this one as well. If you disliked Divergent then you might hate this one even more. It's your call but make sure to tell me what you thought.

Available on Amazon

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Demon Hunter Saga Review (Part one)

Title: The Demon Hunter Saga

Author: Cynthia Vespia
Illustrator: Original Cyn Advertising
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Age: 13+
Pages: 123 (Kindle)
Publisher: Original Cyn Advertising

         Costa Calabrese is an orphan, a slave to the local tavern master in Gryphant. Costa passes his days miserably cleaning the tavern and on his free time he explores the forest, looking for anything abnormal that would bring excitement to his dull miserable life. You see, Costa isn't a boy destined to live on a farm, this is a young man filled with adventure and excitement, a life as a slave would not allow him that freedom. Although one day, when young Calabrese ventures off into the forest, he bumps into a dark cloaked man. That my friends, is when Costa ends his life as a slave and begins one as a Demon Hunter!

        The Demon Hunter is hands down, one of my favorite reads! This is mainly due to the built up relationships. Costa only had one friend as a slave and that made him an outcast. This brought out some lack of self confidence as well as some self conscious acts. I loved the way that Costa did make friends throughout the novel because of his stubbornness! It was also great to see the relationships between his masters and owners. Costa was a great character and the others just polished him up!

        Another great attribute about this novel is that the plot is just so simple and pure. That's how I enjoy my books, with a task ahead of you with a few twists and turns but the outcome will be the same. I enjoyed how the author made it so simple but it was very exciting as well. I also liked the fact that no loose ends or questions remained unanswered.

        While the relationships grew over time I enjoyed how the characters themselves grew together throughout the story. It was nice to see them actually bond and grow stronger together. Especially when it happened during a high intensity fight where your all caught up in things you don't actually realize it until it's over. I believe that the author did a marvelous job with this aspect of the book and that she didn't try to force it in. It was just there!

        One thing that many readers dislike is that fact that it can be very predictable at times. For me I enjoyed it, even when I knew what was going to happen but for some readers this might not appeal to you as much as I.

        Another thing that has me very agitated was the fact that the training was skipped and we had a 1 year later part. This really frustrated me and I could have seen a lot of potential in these 200 pages or so extra. These are my favorite parts and I was very sad to see it being skipped.

        Overall an amazing novel, one of the best I have read recently. I can't wait to finish it up and review part two. I highly recommend this for any fan of Fantasy as well as anyone who have read and enjoyed the series The Last Apprentice  or Ranger's Apprentice !

Available on Amazon

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Death Cure Review

Title: The Death Cure (Maze Runner Book 3)

Author: James Dashner
Illustrator: Philip Struab/ Syephanie Moss
Genre: Dystopian, Science-Fiction
Age: 12+
Pages: 325 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Delacorte Press

        Thomas and his friends have defeated the Maze and the Trials. They have defeated grievers and crazed zombies. Now the truth is beginning to unfold whether they like it or not. With one last test to complete the blueprint Thomas must make choices that he never thought he would have to and uncover the truth behind Wicked's actions. The last installment of a fast-paced dystopian series that will have you at the edge of your seat!

        The Death Cure was quite mysterious in the way that Wicked was labeled as evil from some characters while the main character was positive that it was evil. This controversy gave it the edge it needed and made us, readers, want to know what the truth is. I loved how the end was wrapped up with a twist that I did not expect and it always amuses me when I'm caught off guard.

        I enjoyed how difficult it seemed to be in the place of one of the characters. They must have been emotionally and physically shocked after an episode like this and the sacrifices that they had to make added to its intruigingness. I also liked how James Dashner was quite bold and killed off some, if not, many of the characters that we've seen since the beginning *cry*.

        The last book of the series brought back many memories for me especially since it brought back many things from book one such as places or people which we thought we would never see again. Of course if you read them all in a sequence it won't be as memorable but for me who had to wait for all three books I had amazing flashbacks emotions!

        I think that the past novels brought so much high expectations for our "grand finale" that it kind of disappointed me. The characters seemed to run around a lot and didn't do much fighting encounters which troubled me. It was mostly a game of hide and seek and Wicked had the upper hand. Also the plot didn't remain untouched throughout the novels and this disappointed me because I liked to finish series but when I pick up a book I like to be on the same story line when I finish it.

        Overall the book was great but somewhat disappointing considering James Dashner's great techniques!

Available on Amazon
Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Black Deeper Than Death Review

Title: A Black Deeper Than Death

Author: M.E. Purfield
Illustrator: M.E. Purfield
Genre: Supernatural
Age: 15+
Pages: 123 (Kindle)
Publisher: Trash Books

        Miki Radicci is a 16 year old famous artist with a curse that sets her apart. Being able to feel peoples pain isn't the worst curse you can have but when Miki witnesses a murder everything changes. With a killer on the loose Miki must try to catch him before he catches her! A great suspenseful novel with a twist at every turn!

        The novel, A Black Deeper Than Death, was easily one of the most suspenseful novel I've ever read. I liked how the author incorporated all the fantasy curse theme and a mystery gengre into such a short novel. She did a wonderful job packing all of that goodness and delivering it as easily as she did. While many novels fail to delivering un-predictable stories, this wasn't the case for Mrs. M.E. Purfield's novel I seriously did not know who the killer was until the end and it came as a surprise!

        The author did a wonderful job with her characterization. They were very concrete and had genuine emotions. While most characters seemed very complex like Miki, I could always easily relate to her complexity with my own. I enjoyed the character's flaws and I especially liked how they interacted with each other. This is one of the scenes I enjoyed a lot and felt it showed how the characters had great relationships with each other: Chris enters the condo and all I can do is feel sorry for him. He stands by the door as two Looney Toons confront him. Grandpa smiles and looks Chris over while Corey takes it a step further and walks with a scrutinizing expression around Chris. And here I am hoping to God that he doesn’t run out of the room, screaming and waving his arms. But he handles it well and smiles. Chris holds out a bunch of flowers, “And these are for you.” Corey swipes them, “Oh, thank you,” and buries his nose in the pedals. “Down, Corey.”  He barks, smiles, and hands me the flowers.

        The book had great potential and brought a lot of what I had expected. I was disappointed when the novel ended and I had not discovered a lot about the so called family curse and there wasn't any history or explanation about it which just left us readers hanging.

        While A Black Deeper Than Death was not my cup of tea I found a way to enjoy it tremendously and it easily brought me into the story line. I would definitely recommend it for any mystery readers as well as some casual readers who enjoy a few detective movies.

Available on Amazon

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, September 1, 2012

How to Create Your own Book Cover

So You Wanna Do Your Own Cover Art?

        I had finished writing my novel, ‘Forever Young The Beginning’and I learned that the publishers of eBooks all wanted cover art for a digital book. Being a newbie this was news to me, but I pondered it because two sites I visited both said that it was better for sales. Really, they discouraged any submissions without cover art, so I grudgingly set about doing a cover for my book, even though I never had intended to do a paperback version.

        I soon learned that I would need to buy Adobe Photoshop for a really professional look, and I learned that there was a terrific learning curve associated with that program. I tried to download Wimp, a freebie for photo-managing that was recommended to me by a friend. My computer’s security system did not like it and quarantined it, so I dropped that idea.

        Not wanting to get bogged down learning all of the many things in the Adobe program (it IS gigantic); I opted to do my own cover art. I was starting at the bottom of the learning curve about self-publishing then so I did not want to get bogged down learning all about Adobe at the same time. I figured that doing my own art work would not take as long and would surely not cost as much. It turned out that I was correct.

        Armed with some black construction paper, the title page text in Vivaldi font, and a tiny jar of el-cheapo nail polish bought at Big Lots, I bravely made my way to Fedex/Kinko’s.

        Using scissors, a glue stick, and my bottle of Big Lots’ finest nail polish, I put together a cover for my new book. I let the nail polish dry for ½ hour and then gave it to the clerk at the counter. In minutes, I had my first proof and a jpeg saved to my flash drive for a few dollars. I can tell you, I was disappointed, yet encouraged. It was a sad moment for the guy behind the counter because the nail polish had gotten warmed up by the copying machine and he was trying to get it off of the glass with windex!

        I went home and sat pondering my first attempt, but I gamely sent it out to a few unlucky friends for an evaluation, and I was pleasantly surprised that they liked it. Let me say here that black construction paper is not black, but it is a nice shade of dark gray, so my cover background was dark gray as well.

        I was doing some other work and noticed that I had an app on my computer (Microsoft Windows 7 system) that was called ‘Paint’. Duuhhh!! I soon had my jpeg in there and it was easy to get the gray background to become jet black. I retouched the blood and resent it to those unlucky ones who had seen it the first time, including an author friend in N Carolina.

        He sent me the exact same layout in a font that he had in his Mac computer, and I sent it around for an evaluation. It was 50-50, with my wife and kids liking the Mac fonts better. So I ran them through Paint and produced a new image to take to Fedex/Kinko’s for another proof.

        If you are going to use Paint, the first thing you need to do is to slow down your cursor speed to nearly as slow a setting as you can find if you want sharp straight lines and details.This is even truer if you have recently drunk coffee and have caffeine jitters!Magnify it 4 or 5 times to work, and then take it back to the original size. You will never see all of your little squiggles, jitters and such.

        Long story short, I had finally gotten a decent looking cover art jpeg for around $12 or so.

        For those of you who are not doing a paperback, this is as far as you will have to read.

        After getting my book live on Amazon Kindle, I turned my attention to a proper cover for a paperback book. I uploaded my file to Createspace POD and they sent me a template for creating a complete book cover for a paperback book, 6X9 size. They had given me a formula for calculating the thickness of the book so that I could design the spine artwork to fit in the allotted space for that book. The blurb on the obverse side had to be sized to leave room for a bar code and ISBN.

        After prepping, I again set off to Fedex/Kinko’s for another session. There were three more trips there to get it exactly right. This is an important thing to remember if you are going to do this yourself: Be certain to save all of your work on a flash drive and back that up at home in ‘My Docs’ and on another flash drive as well. You never know….

        BE SURE TO HAVE THE CLERK AT YOUR COPY SHOP COPY AND SAVE THE SOURCE FILE. That way when you return for this or that (and you will) there is no additional setup charge. My total cost on it was $44, tax included. Save it as a PDF as well as a jpeg. Paperback producers want a PDF for book covers.

        After you successfully get an interior file and a book cover file both uploaded to your POD paperback company, and they tell you it was a successful upload, you will be offered a download of what they are going to print. Get it and go over it page by page.You will get a picture of the entire book cover opened up and laid flat, showing all 3 surfaces. It will look like your proof from the copy service you used.

        Strange things can happen to nice looking docs after conversion processes. Anyway, even though your interior file now looks good, and you got a good report on your cover PDF, do order a proof copy. DO NOT OMIT THIS STEP. My proof cost me around $9.50 being it is a 719 page book. There was about $3.50 in shipping too for a total of $13. It was money well spent., because there were issues that did not show up until I had the book in hand.

        There was then some back and forth with Createspace. They were terrific to work with and stayed on it. They sent me proofs to inspect each time and they were at no additional cost to me. And they sent them express UPS, not the normal basic ground rate service.

        The 3rd time was the charm it turned out. Having a copy of the source file made it so easy and kept my cost down each time I took it to Fedex. I never had a problem with Fedex/Kinko at all. All of the problems in my paperback were in the process at Createspace. Regardless of that, they were a great team to work with and you can reach them by telephone very quickly and easily, 24-7. I am very happy with their product and their efforts on my behalf.

        I ended up having around $12 or so in my jpeg cover for Amazon Kindle for my eBook. Adding that to my complete cover image for the paperback book, my total expenditure ran somewhere from $55-$60 all told, plus some 7 trips to Fedex/Kinko.

For all of you indy authors and self-publishers out there, that is my ‘cover story’, and I am sticking to it!

Gerald Simpkins

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Prelude to a Hero Review

Title: Prelude to a Hero

Author: Jaime Buckley
Illustrator: Jaime Buckley
Genre: Science Fiction
Age: 15+
Pages: 110 (Kindle)
Publisher: On the Fly Publications

        Humans know so many things yet are oblivious to so many other facts. Those facts will change Wendell's life forever when he is kidnapped and teleported to another whole new galaxy. Upon arrival he is told that he is the last bloodline of the royal family and the only hope to defeat evil, which is growing ever stronger. Wendell doesn't want to have anything to do with these strange martians and so, he decides to bid his time until he can come back to Earth. Soon he meets an ecstatic girl named Kyliene and he believes he may have to stay a little while longer after all!

        The novel gripped me from the first few sentences. I had no doubt that the book would be an interesting one. The method used by the author to bring in his audience before every chapter started was by using an unfamiliar technique. He would create a quote that would relate to the characters or the situation in the chapter. I loved this technique because as a reader it made me think and also it made me relate and think back to the quote while reading. Example of the first quote: We knew we were the center of the universe. We knew the Earth was flat. We knew nothing existed smaller than the naked eye could see. We knew only birds and bugs could fly upon the wind. Yes, we knew so many things…even if it was only for a moment.

        My second love for Prelude was one character in specific. Wendell was oh so very stubborn. He had a lot of wit and could come up with very sarcastic remarks. I loved his exchanges with the High Elder. Wendell was also very awkward with his own body. Being tall and skinny his arms would dangle and his feet wouldn't be where they were supposed to be. Tripping and falling was second nature to him, and he made me laugh with him, or even cheer for him a few times.

        As for the setting, what's not to like? At first I thought it was like a deserted planet with rocks, but I was soon proven wrong. I enjoyed how Jaime included a fantasy-like feel into his sci-fi novel. The setting was gorgeous and had a lot of description when needing to be. I liked the places they described such as the market place and the sanctuary. Here's a small example of the description: Thousands of white buildings and domed cathedrals stretched out before him. His eyes followed the intricate waterways, saturated with flowers, trees, vines, and grass, between, around and even through the buildings constructed on a grid. At the center was a small, football-shaped park completely surrounded by a lake of crystal blue water. Five small bridges joined the park to the city and a much larger, white bridge arched over the buildings and waterways extending to the terrace, just to Wendell’s left.       

        Sadly every masterpiece can have its own flaws. As for Prelude, I thought that it took a while for the story to start rolling. By the time Wendell was accustomed to this whole new world and that reality hit him it was far too late. Which brings me too point number two. In my opinion there wasn't any climax where I was jumping off my seat. It seemed that the author deliberately ended the novel short.

        While I did enjoy Prelude, I believe that book two will be much better with actual battle scenes and the discovery of magic as well as some training. I recommend Prelude to Sci-Fi lovers!

Available on Amazon

Rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Betrayal of Magic (DOMA - Book 1) Review

Title: Betrayal of Magic

Author: Brian Dockins
Illustrator: Onaje Bael
Genre: Fantasy
Age: 13+
Pages: 302 (paperback)
Publisher: Siege Tower Publishing

        Ever since Cadan could remember he was able to use magic. Born in a family filled with magical powers he must train to hone his magical skills while keeping it a secret from everyone else. In a series of unfortunate events Cadan discovers that his world isn't what it truly seems to be. In an attempt to find some answers Cadan travels to New York, and that's where his world truly collapses. When you don't know your own Identity, who do you trust?

        The novel revolved around magical powers and I'm glad that it was as original as it could have been. The spells, even if they seemed familiar, were very unique and brought new battle scenarios that made the book more interesting. In the novel the characters could judge opponent's Ruhk magic powers and it made me enhanced because I felt as if I was judging the outcome of battles which was very unique! Sadly, I felt that there was a limited amount of spells that I got to see and I hope that book two brings more to the table.

        The action goes hand in hand with the magic. It was very well explained and had that adrenaline pumping feeling to it! The novel contained many group battles and the author did a marvelous job going from character to character and back. When I think about it, it almost felt as if I was watching a movie! The action is a very important role in the novel and made the roller coaster ride more enthusiastic.

        While some novels have a hard time to transition their characters, Brian seemed to do it effortlessly. The transition when Cadan is at home and learns magic to the part where he's in Doma was very smooth. It did not feel weird or badly timed. The character had reason and purpose to move on and that's the most important!

        While the book revolved upon friendship and family bonds I would have enjoyed seeing some romance. There were some indications of some blossoming love but it was quite brief. The author could have used this method to his advantage. Even the most sinister of characters would have died for their new love.

        This seems to come up a lot recently in my other reviews but it has to be mentioned. Too many characters is a turn off! It's really hard to get to know every character in a short amount of time. The "good guy group" wasn't too hard to put a face on a name but when you are introduced to different characters you have never seen, during a battle, it's very hard to remember that person. Also when the author introduces characters during battles he can't describe them physically or emotionally, or else he would lose his bloodthirsty action momentum! What I'm trying to say here is 1. don't introduce characters in battle! 2. Take the time to identify characters and make them stick!

        Betrayal of magic was a fantastic read. It made me laugh and even yell out loud a few times! If it can bring that amount of enthusiasm in readers then I'd say it has great potential! A must-read!

Available on Amazon

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Magyk Septimus Heap Book One Review

Title: Magyk

Author: Angie Sage
Illustrator: Mark Zug
Genre: Fantasy
Age: 9+
Pages: 564 (paperback)
Publisher: HarperCollins

        Silas Heap was on his way back home when he found a baby girl on the side of the street. It was a cold night and the child was bound to die if he didn't do anything so he took her home. Soon Silas' wife was giving birth to their seventh son. Tragedy struck as they were announced that the child had died in labour. The family decides to raise the young girl as one of their own and name her Jenna. Ten years later the ExtraOrdinary wizard pays them a visit, revealing that Jenna is in fact a princess and the Queen had died the night Silas found her. With news like this the Heap family know they are in grave danger and must run far away before the Supreme custodian catches them! A world filled with magic, a princess, and an evil wizard, anything is possible!

        Magyk has a great foundation containing magical abilities, queens and princesses, assassins, and they all revolve around a family of 9. With that in mind I would definitely take the book home, but what made it all worth it was the adventures and the fast paced action.

        A novel needs an image for it to sell, just like any other products out there. I bet a lot of readers here do judge a book by its cover! Heck I do it all the time. Now this is where Magyk can get credit. The cover art is just so intriguing. It's an image of a long lost journal with a dragon ring in the center. The words are very well written, with a magical look. The colors really work together and in general it looks wonderful!

        Angie Sage created the novel for younger readers. With that in mind, I believe that even a 10 year old could most likely figure out the plot twists. They were just too predictable and weren't cloaked well enough by other events. This was disappointing because the plot twists were one of the biggest plot drivers and could had made the story all together more interesting.

         The biggest downfall for me was that there were too many characters. With the start of the story you were introduced to around 10 characters or so and every chapter there were more and more. This meant that as a reader you weren't able to create any bonds or relationships with the characters. Also one of the biggest problems, character wise, was that  there wasn't any main character so to speak. The points of views were changed constantly and even with a world filled with 100 characters you can find a way to bond with the main character. That wasn't the case since there weren't any.

        The length of the book got to me a bit. It was a bit lengthy. 500 pages is a lot, especially since it's a 9+ novel so it's meant for children and some young adults. The author should have cut down on her details. She should have also described the setting in a larger mindset. We know they are someplace with a castle and there's a swamp someplace as well but the setting was very vague and unexplained.

        To summarize, the first installment of the series, Magyk, had many aspects that can make a fantasy novel a great one, but it contained many quirks that just pushed it further back from that title. I would recommend it to fellow fantasy lovers but I would not re-read it and most likely will not purchase the next book in the series of 7 total novels.

Available on Amazon

Rating: 3/5

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Aduramis Chronicles - Destiny of the Wulf Review

Title: Destiny of the Wulf

Author: Harrison Davies
Illustrator: Anna Herbel
Genre: Fantasy
Age: 13+
Pages: 516 (paperback)
Publisher: Harisson Davies

        Marrok and Coinin Wulf are pushed towards their destinies, following their parent's death. In the care  of their uncle they train and work waiting for the moment that will change their lives. Then one day, they are summoned to the secret temple of the Brotherhood, soon discovering that their destinies are far more important than they had thought! Death himself is trying to become the king of the gods, and if Coinin and Marrok cannot find the five swords of Cerathil in time the world will be destroyed. A battle that will take place in the heavens and the earth, the brothers must trust each other and do whatever it takes to save the realm of Rosthagaar!

        Harrison is unbelievable! He did such a great job creating his characters. They were witty and as a reader we could see how they interacted with the other characters. We could also see easily what type of relationships they had with the others. I especially enjoyed Coinin as a character because he seemed to be so real. He had some flaws like he was sometimes insecure and didn't believe in himself and I loved that about him.

        World building is one of the hardest things to do, especially in a fantasy novel where you typically change 75% of the world. In the Destiny of the Wulf I enjoyed how everything had a purpose and wasn't made just out of pure imagination. The thing that pops out most for me was the Gods; the whole religious aspect of the novel was intriguing and was easily one of the big plot drivers. The creatures fit well in this type of story such as the Madorine's, who had a nice history and society where they ruled and lived for bloodshed.

        As much as I would like to say that Mr. Davies expertise would be world building I can't because I know for a fact that his expertise lies in his writing style. It was one of those fantasy novels where you could easily picture the beautifully sketched patterns on the doorframes and the fine silk robes. The techniques used in this novel are wonderful and I loved reading about everything there was to see! I would certainly say that the author did a lot more of showing rather then telling, and his writing techniques were very descriptive. Exactly what a great fantasy novel needs!

        Like everything else in life, there's always something you could have improved or worked on. If we look at The Destiny of the Wulf, I believe that the beginning could have been maybe more intriguing. Most novels work on the first 1/4 and if that doesn't catch your audience then they might put the book down. In other words, the beginning was slow and not as intriguing as I would of liked it to be.

        Now that we've covered the major parts I just want to say that this novel was one of my favorite books of all time and I cannot wait to read the next one! If you're looking for a great fantasy novel that won't let you down, then this is the one!

Available on Amazon

Rating: 4.5/5

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hunger (Gone Series Book 2)

Title: Hunger

Author: Michael Grant
Illustrator: -----
Genre: Science Fiction
Age: 12-14
Pages: 590 (paperback)
Publisher: HarperCollins

**This is the 2nd book in the series, if you haven't read the review for the first book click Here

        Now that the Fayz is here to stay, real life problems have been thrown onto the leaders of the community. Their society is dispersed, food is scarce, and a group of rebel humans wants to take over and destroy anyone with powers. Although these problems are child's-play compared to what the "darkness" has planned for them. In order to survive the Fayz, Sam Temple and his buddies must work together and pray that it will all be over soon.

        Hunger is a great name for this novel. I enjoy how Mr. Grant usually names his novels after main events in the book and it sort of gives a reader an idea about what could happen before actually taking a peek inside. Also, I knew that at some point in this series the food would be gone and they'd have to do something about it. I'm very happy that it was actually brought up because some books don't take into account every detail and sometimes big things like "how do they get their food" or "When do they actually sleep" aren't answered. This brings a more realistic aspect to a book and I raise my hat to Michael Grant for that.

        The plot is still very well thought out and the book is quite fast-paced. One thing that was interesting was that Hunger contains many events and conflicts that need to be solved. Thus, creating diversity while reading. Many novels focus on one event, whether it be "saving the princess" or "defeating an evil king." Hunger is filled with conflicts, while some are more interesting than others, they are always entertaining.

        One of the interesting things of this series is that at every beginning of every chapter it has a time. For example: 120 hours, 12 minutes. As you go through the book the time goes down further and further until there's no more. At that point the book is over. Instead of saying 3 days later at the beginning of a chapter the author just uses his time method and takes off 72 hours off at the beginning of the next chapter.

        Since the fayz is basically a society of teens and children the novel revolves around a large number of characters and their lives. Of course this is a great way of showing different perspectives but when it comes to characterization there's just so much someone can do with that many characters. That's the downfall of a big society.

The Gone series has successfully amazed me once more and I can't wait to read the next ones. A must to read!

Available on Amazon

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Scorch Trials Review

Title: The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner Book 2)

Author: James Dashner                                            
Illustrator: Philip Straub
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian       
Age: 12+
Pages: 360 (paperback)
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Book One Review (The Maze Runner)
Book Three Review (The Death Cure)

        The Maze was the first test, the second is a burned wasteland known as the Scorch. With time in their enemies' hands the group must travel through the barren desert, or be left to die a searing death. Wicked isn't playing games anymore and so Thomas must be cautious and help his group if he wishes to survive. If the hot temperatures and the wretched natural disasters aren't enough of a challenge for the small group, the flare infested humans will surely finish them off... and so, let the Scorch Trials Begin!

        The Scorch Trials had so much to offer. While the novel is considered a dystopian/ Sci-fi, I would consider it a mystery novel as well. It's one of those books where you don't know the identity of the antagonists, you don't know who's trustworthy, you don't know if the antagonist is actually evil. It's a game of guess and you have the main character to help you out!

        In the second novel of the series, I enjoyed that Thomas' past was brought to us in short segmented dreams. This encouraged the readers to decipher the clues. It also brought the readers a deeper connection with our main character. I especially enjoyed that the dreams were confusing. I mean confusion is the building blocks for mysteries am I right?!

        James Dashner did an excellent job working his characters. His writing is  a great example on how to use only one type of Point of View in order to bring a stronger connection! Usually I enjoy reading both sides of a story but when I only read one I usually feel as if I am the main character, in mind and body. This method is extremely useful to bring readers into a book and not just on the surface but into the depths!

        Now, while the Scorch Trials was really fast paced and entertaining, I was disappointed to see that the plot had somewhat changed from its original course. Although, that's what a series is. It's many curves, twists, and loops that creates suspense and emotion. Even if the end result isn't what we expected it still contains that really strong plot that made it enjoyable.
        With that said, The Scorch Trialscannot match The Maze Runner yet it's a darn close call because both are filled with great writing, exciting plot, and interesting characters. A definate must-read!

Available on Amazon

Rating: 4.5/5

Monday, August 6, 2012

Giveway! 2 Ebook Copies!

Hey guys, I have another giveaway today! You can win 2 Ebook copies of the Paranormal novel: Feak!
To read my review on the novel Click Here

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Review: Freak

Title: Freak

Author: E.K. Henry
Illustrator: Felicia Simion
Genre: Paranormal
Age: 16+
Pages: 189 (paperback)
Publisher: E.K. Henry

        Juniper isn't ordinary, or maybe it's everyone around her that's a little odd. Nevertheless, when her life is twisted into a TV reality by the vampires who govern the town, she is labeled as a freak. Soon everyone around her starts to change. They act like they aren't themselves. but Juniper's biggest problem is how to get her life back. The answer comes to her when a group of vampire killers approaches her. Does Juniper has what it takes to take control of her life? Can she face the consequences after the acts she will take?

        Freak contains the secret formula any book would love to have! Quality over quantity. The characters couldn't possibly become more enjoyable. They had the qualities that made me hate them and love them at times, the same ones that made me root for my favorite characters! The main character was focused on a lot, and from the beginning it felt like I already knew her. She was stubborn but passionate, determined and faithful, and you could always count on her.

        The plot contained many strong points. It was very action packed and had a mystery side, where you had to look for clues and try to put the puzzle pieces together. I enjoyed the idea of vampires ruling the society and humans were the "freaks." At times I found myself thinking that the events were predictable, nevertheless it was still enjoyable to read.

        The book seemed to work with emotions a lot. Instead of using descriptive techniques the author tried to go for a more emotional technique in itself was quite effective. It was also a major plot driver and as the novel progressed it became even more important. Some examples:

I really am happy for him. I’m sure that he hates being a blood donor as much as I think I will one day, but I still don’t think that the show is going to be good for me or my health when the vamps at school find out.

A warm breeze tickles my face as I walk to the bus stop. A smile forms on my lips. Today is gonna be a good day.

        While E.K. Henry did a marvelous job with her characters, she could have made it better by showing more characters. The antagonists were left out until the end. Maybe a antagonist Point of view would have been pleasant. I understand that forestalling the discovery of the villain was crucial in the plot, as a reader I enjoy seeing different sides of a story.

Available on: Amazon

Rating: 4/5