Friday, October 24, 2014

Author Interview with Samantha Allard- Dark of the Moon

Welcome to YA Friday! Today I am interviewing author Samantha Allard, the writer of the new YA paranormal, Dark of the Moon.

The Interview- Samantha Allard

1. Tell me about your road to publication

This isn’t the first time The Dark of the Moon has been published. It was actually one of the first stories I wrote under my penname Ella Grey. So this copy is a heavily revised and expanded edition. When I got the rights back to the story I knew there was only one place that I wanted to send it to. I’ve had three stories published with Breathless Press and they have a sister company Lycaon Press who handle Young Adult stories. My editor with Breathless suggested an editor for Lycaon and I sent it to her. The rest as they say is history. 

2. Can you tell me about Rachel Valentine and how you see her evolving in the series? 

Originally The Dark of the Moon was an eshort series and it was specifically aimed for younger readers. I chose to write paranormal young adult because that has always been a genre I’ve enjoyed reading. Rachel Valentine, my heroine was based on strong female leads, Sydney Bristow and Buffy. Rachel is strong, fearless and is the daughter of a government agent. That means she has a skill set different from most sixteen-year-olds. I see her getting more in touch with her shifting abilities as the series progresses. 

3. What helped you the most in your quest to become a writer and what is your writing schedule?

Networking. I originally had a site on Myspace and through that I met Nick Valentino. Nick write steampunk and was published through Echelon Press. He was the one who suggested me submitted to his publishing company which I did.  I really can’t stress enough how important it is to get your name out there. Social networking is a very important tool for writers these days. 
My writing schedule is pretty normal I guess. My son is currently at school so when he’s there I can usually be found in front of my computer. When he goes to bed I get back to writing.  

4. Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

1. Have a strong presence online. A blog. Facebook. Twitter. Goodreads. All of that helps reader to find you.
2. Get used to rejection and don’t take it personally. 
3. Read and write every day. It doesn’t have to be great numbers. A few hundred one day might become a thousand another day.
4. Always trust your editor. They only want to make your story better and having a second pair of eyes on your manuscript helps.  
5. Any future paranormal projects in the works? I intend to finish Rachel’s story and I definitely have a few genres I’d like to explore. Paranormal fiction will always be one of my favourite genres. It’s the genre I grew up reading and one I think has a lot of potential. 

The Book- Dark of the Moon

 Rachel Valentine isn't your average girl.
Three years ago her brother disappeared, and Rachel went off the rails quite spectacularly. Now she is trapped in a nunnery because she accidently blew up half the science department at her old school. One night she sees her long-lost brother in the crowd behind a reporter on television. There's no mistaking who he is, but getting her parents to believe her is a different matter. It leaves her one option: break out of the nunnery and travel to London to track him down.
She's about to find out that things are never that simple and there are some secrets that are impossible to believe.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chum by Adam Glendon Sidwell

Today I am happy to take part in the blog tour for Chum by Adam Glendon Sidwell.
The Story- (blurb)
Thirteen-year-old Levi Middleworth insists he's got a Destiny, even if half the internet's tried to bully it out of him with a viral video. When a Hollywood executive in a trim green suit invites Levi to star on a reality TV show aboard a hi-tech pirate ship, Levi thinks his Destiny's finally come a knockin' a bit of fame is exactly what he needs to finally make some friends his eighth grade year. But almost as soon as they set sail, the games aboard the ship turn savage, and he and his new bud Holly must do everything they can to find themselves some Chums little round-headed autonomous toys since failing to do so means getting thrown to the sharks. With the help of Levi's long-lost television hero and a tech-savvy pirate crew, Levi has to rethink his quest for fame in an attempt to save himself, his fellow contestants, and every human being on the beach from a feeding frenzy of grisly proportions.

My Thoughts-
I so love this author. His stories are amazing and original, and Chum keeps that ball rolling. First off, the main character Levi is a true thirteen-year-old. Somehow Sidwell must have channeled his inner child because the voice of Levi is dead on. At first I couldn't stop thinking, why would this boy get on a ship with no other information? Then I realized, it is exactly what this character would do, what most thirteen-year-olds would do. He wouldn't care about the consequences. Of course, as his character grows, we see a hero form and again and again, this boy is willing to sacrifice himself to save others. I love good, well written characters, and Levi is full of depth and growth, while still being a teenager.

I have to admit that the first half of the book is my favorite. The mystery surrounding the reality show and the chum dolls is so intriguing. I couldn't stop reading. I had to know what obstacle would pop up next and who would get thrown overboard. The tension is perfect and the quickness in which the contestants turn on each other is heartbreaking. I was ready for a book full of bobby traps and riddles, but that's when things change. The reader is then thrown into the role of TV show turned reality, as Levi and a group of submarine pirates take on the evil pirates of Chum. The book lost a lot of its tension here, but the story is so absolutely original that I had to admire Sidwell's craftsmanship.

And the little chum dolls, they are so cute. Somehow he made me care for these strange yellow beings. I was ready to believe they were some type of alternative life form and was so sad to see them go down with the ship. I wanted someone to rescue them.

Yep, this one is worth the read. 4 stars!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Drone Games by Joel Narlock

I have a special review today, a spy thriller entitled Drone Games by Joel Narlock. For more info on the tour check out the Cedar Fort blog.

The Story-
Professor Al-Aran is a terrorist. His plan is to use drone machines that his colleague in Georgia built, to destroy US air craft and bring the economy to a halt. He is the brains, the man power is a young man named Akil, who is willing to control the drones and kill hundreds of people.

Jack Riley works directly with the President of the United States. He is a resource on terrorist attacks and has many theories about what disaster will happen next. Tom Ross works for the NTSB and joins up with Riley to uncover the terrorist plot and stop it.

My Thoughts-
First off, 3.5. Why? Because this novel was hard to judge. It has a great story line that is interesting and scary. The author proposes several terrorist scenarios and the whole time I'm thinking, hope nobody takes him up on these ideas. The story is fast paced, moving from one disaster to the next and building in tension until the final take down. And then- watch-out there's a twist and the potential for a second book. The author really knows his stuff and I don't have any doubt that he did significant research with this book.

My problem was that there was no main character. The story hops around to different vignettes. For the first 50 pages I was lost, not knowing who to invest in or where the plot was heading. It reminds me a lot of how World War Z was written. I might have stopped reading if not for the fact that the plot was solid. As the reader delves into the story, finally the characters of Jack Riley and Tom Ross emerge as leads, and finally, there is some cohesion to the story. The terror plot is well planned out by the villains, and is written in such away that is tragic, but not gory.

I really enjoyed the fact that Al-Aran starts off the story with the full-on plan. I knew what was coming and I just had to wait for it to unfold. It also had me feeling like America is really dumb and too busy with political correctness to take necessary steps to stop terrorism. There are so many gaping holes revealed by the author that I was hitting my head about security issues. Of course, this is also why I was hoping nobody actually does what the book outlines. Yikes.

This book is well-written, and despite the character issues, it tells a solid story that will leave the reader thinking.


From the author: Faiz Al-Aran, al-Qaeda’s top strategic planner finalizes last minute details with Akil Doroudian, a lone-wolf jihadist and explosives expert who will carry out the US airline terror attacks.


“The tactics have changed,” Al-Aran said. “Have you set the Milwaukee timetable?”

“Yes, a morning flight to Atlanta.”

“And the aircraft selection?”

“As you ordered,” Akil replied. “Delta. MD-90 series. Two fuselage-mounted engines. Changed how?”

“Suffice it to say that you will not have to maneuver underneath or even near the flaps. You will fly the drone to the front of the aircraft and attach it to the vertical shock strut of the nose landing gear. It will be swallowed inside like poison.”

“You mean the main landing gear?”

“The nose,” Al-Aran calmly repeated, seeing the confusion on Akil’s face.

“But there’s no fuel in the nose,” Akil protested. “We should attack the center tank. If we destroy the front wheels, an aircraft can still land safely.”

“There are many vulnerabilities on an aircraft,” Al-Aran said. “You must trust my plan. Tell me about the explosive.”

“I made twenty-four hundred grams,” Akil answered. “Enough to cut each aircraft in half.”

“That’s exactly what I don’t want,” Al-Aran said firmly. “The first plane’s failure must raise doubts about the cause. We need uncertainty. We need the infidels thinking and discussing. I want you to use a measured amount of explosive so that the entire cockpit is not destroyed. How large is each charge?”

“Approximately 150 grams.”

Al-Aran paused to calculate. He knew that just 250 grams of high-energy PETN and Semtex-H destroyed Pan Am 103, a 747 flying over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988. The detonation velocity was nearly five miles per second. That charge was placed in the forward cargo hold and detonated at 32,000 feet. It literally severed the cockpit from the rest of the plane. The pilots were found still strapped in their seats. Potassium chlorate, however, was one-fourth as powerful.

“Use two charges,” Al-Aran ordered.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Code Busters Club Giveaway

I have a great giveaway to announce today. Egmont Publishers is giving one lucky winner a chance to win paper copies of The Code Busters Club books 1-3 and a Hardback of book 4 by Penny Warner. To enter fill out the rafflecopter form below.

The Code Busters Club, Case #1: The Secret of the Skeleton Key
Bad guys beware!

Cody, Quinn, Luke, and M.E. may be really different, but they all share one thing in common: they love playing around with codes. In fact, they love codes so much, they have their own private club, with a super-secret hideout and passwords that change every single day.

When Cody and Quinn notice what could be a code on the window of a nearby house, the one owned by their strange neighbor, the guy they call Skeleton Man, the club gets to work. And it is a cry for help!

Now the Code Busters are on the case—and nothing will stop them from solving the mystery and finding the secret treasure that seems to be the cause of it all!

This exciting interactive mystery offers more than fifteen codes for you to decipher, including the Consonant code, Morse code, and American Sign Language. Test your brain with the Code Busters and solve the mystery along with them. Answers are in the back, if you ever get stuck.

Trade Paperback

2011 Agatha Award Nominee

The Code Busters Club, Case #2: The Haunted Lighthouse
When Cody, Quinn, M.E., and Luke receive a cryptic message directing them to Alcatraz Island, the promise of a new adventure, and possible treasure, sets them on the trail to the famous prison to solve a decades-old mystery involving the Alcatraz lighthouse, a jewel thief, and his fabled missing haul. If the Code Busters can unravel the secret of Diamond Dave's biggest theft, they could be in for a fortune!

Trade Paperback

Winner of the 2012 Agatha Award

The Code Busters Club, Case #3: The Mystery of the Pirate's Treasure
Cody, Quinn, Luke, and M.E. love playing around with codes. In fact, they love codes so much they have their own club, with a secret hideout and passwords that change every day.
On a class trip to the Cornell Mission, The Code Busters learn about Hippolyte de Bouchard, California's only known pirate.
Now the Code Busters are on the trail of a new prize: pirate gold! But with a fortune at stake, the codes are bound to be hard. Will the Code Busters be able to figure them out, or will this mystery prove to be too difficult to solve?

Trade Paperback

2014 Agatha Award Nominee

2014 Anthony Award Nominee

The Code Busters Club, Case #4: The Mummy's Curse
Egyptian secrets take center stage in this interactive mystery where boys and girls can solve codes and puzzles right along with the multicultural cast of characters.

Cody, Quinn, Luke, and M.E. love playing around with codes. In fact, they love codes so much they have their own club, with a secret hideout and passwords that change every day.

After learning about steganography, the study of concealed writing, the Code Busters discover that artists have been hiding secret messages in their artwork for centuries.

A clue hunt on a class trip to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum leads the Code Busters to an artifact that doesn't seem to quite fit with the rest of the collection. Could it be a forgery? The Code Busters code-cracking skills and new knowledge of hieroglyphic messages will help them get to the bottom of this mystery, but they better think fast before the criminal tries to frame them!

On Sale: 10/14/2014


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Author Updates

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spooktacular Hop

Welcome to this stop on the Spooktacular Hop! I am giving away a $10 Amazon gift code. To enter please fill out the rafflecopter form. Thanks and Happy Halloween :) Don't forget to hop over to the other blogs.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Claude on the Slopes by Alex T. Smith

*Last day to enter to win the Temple Run Book pack giveaway.
Don't forget the BZRK Giveaway!

Welcome to Middle-Grade Monday. Today I am taking a look at an early middle grade reader, Claude on the Slopes by Alex. T. Smith. Brought to you from Peachtree Publishers. They have an adorable How to make a Claude sock puppet up on their blog.

The Story-
Claude the dog lives at 112 Waggy Avenue along with his best friend Sir Bobblysock. One day Claude opens his front door to see the world covered in white. It's his first sight of snow. Together Claude and his friend find their way to a mountain where they learn all about sledding, snowballs and avalanches.

My Thoughts-
This is a seriously cute book that both child and adult will love. On the child's side, Claude is an adventurous dog who wears a magic beret. This nifty beret left me in fits, reminding me of Mary Poppins carpet bag. What fun for a child's imagination? So great. The book is done in a black, white and red color scheme that works. Somehow the author/illustrator is able to capture the perfect expressions on the character's faces, especially Claude's smug looks.  The author's European roots shine through as Claude loves his tea and fashion. Claude dazzles wherever he goes and learns all about the many things that can be done with snow.

As an adult this book cracked me up. There are so many inside jokes that had me snorting. I really liked the fact the Sir Bobblysock had a bunion. I could read this book over and over to my kids. 4 stars for Claude!