Monday, June 29, 2015

Book Review- Hunters of Chaos by Crystal Velasquez

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Welcome to Middle Grade Monday! Today I am reviewing a new release from Aladdin Books, Hunters of Chaos by Crystal Velzaquez.

The Story-
Ana Cetzal has a wonderful life living with her aunt and uncle, but at the beginning of summer, an unexpected letter arrives bearing  a full scholarship to Temple Academy in New Mexico. Ana is surprised to learn that before her parent's died, they  started a trust fund for her to attend the same academy where they'd met as teenagers. Eager to see where her parents met, but feeling sad about leaving her aunt and uncle, Ana arrives at her new school with a mix of emotions.

Her feelings become even more confused as she is thrust into a school with rich, snooty girls and strange wacky weather. When others start blaming Ana for unnatural incidents, Ana discovers three other girls with similar backgrounds and all with the power to turn into a different wild cat. Soon, the four of them are fighting evil, ancient gods and battling the Brotherhood of Chaos.

My Thoughts-
I have to say that this book really reminds me of my own book, The Emerald Ring. So, if you like that type of fantasy, you'll like this book too. I found it fun that the author uses girls from different cultural backgrounds to represents four different wildcats: lion, jaguar, tiger and puma. Each girl has a different way of life and yet they are able to work well together.

The Brotherhood of Chaos and the evil god Anubis bring a fun spin to the story, especially the fact that they can inhabit human bodies and seem normal. I enjoyed getting into the history of the ancient civilizations and finding out about different artifacts. This is a straight forward story, but the author does a good job with the pace of action and of bringing out the tension. Young readers will find this a treat.  5 stars!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Percy Jackson Fan Fiction - Behind the Shadows by CazzyCat

Welcome to FanFic Thursday. Today a shout out to CazzyCat, an author of Percy Jackson fan fiction.

Behind The Shadows- Chapter 47- A Joyful Taxi Ride by CazzyCat. For the full work in progress 

Background- OC- Percy has a twin sister called Sapphire. She was adopted by Apollo to hide her from Zeus and Hades. She grew up with two loving parents and her best friend Luke.

Sapphire is now at camp half blood. She has been there for a few years now. A boy has turned up and is called Percy Jackson. All her friends are slipping out of her reach and are starting to stick to Percy. Even Luke who is starting to stray from her is becoming friends with Percy. As she starts to feel alone strange powers are starting to make them selves known. Sapphire is starting to doubt she is truly a daughter of Apollo. Chapter 47
It was either fight or die but fight what? Sapphire was already being gulped down by the enemy. Her backpack was long gone and was probably bobbing along the wave to some tropical island. Charybdis was not the biggest problem, well technically in size she was huge but not problem size. Sapphire's biggest problem was her mind. Her brain was like a wild storm, filled with fear, dread and panic. She was under water and it was so dark she could not see her own hand right in front of her face. She feared that if she let go of the breath she was holding she was drown. After her near death experience during her stay on Luke's ship she was terrified of testing her lungs out. trying it right now could be a terrible mistake.
The water around her kept on pushing her lower down into the pit of Charybdis stomach. Maybe Sapphire could hold her breath until she got there. If she could do that then her main problem would be how long would she be holding her breath for. Then there was the escaping part but right now Sapphire had other problems. The water was freezing and the coldness wrapped around her like a unwanted blanket. The pressure of all the water pushing her down was nearly unbearable. It felt like it wanted to break every single bone in her body. The only sound that flooded her ears was a strange buzz that refused to go away. Giving up was not a option but with the darkness of the water and the silent buzz Sapphire started to wonder who would notice her absence if she disappeared. It was depressing thought and she tried her hardest to push it away, but she had been alone for a long time now. Yes, she had been on Luke ship all this time but she had no one there. It was a deep sense of rejection and loneliness that she had been suffering from for.. well since she had left camp or maybe it had been since Luke had betrayed her. It was hard to pinpoint when it had started. Sapphire missed how it used to be, she missed it with all her heart.
The water around her gurgled a little bit before what felt like a giant flush and she was falling with all the water right into Charybdis stomach. Her lungs launched into action and she began breathing in stale fish scented air.
Through Jake's eyes Part 4
Sitting in a taxi with a can eating Satyr was not the most pleasant experience. The driver kept on turning her head to see what the crunching noise was. Jake smiled pleasantly back at her and he received a confused frown in return. Their mad adventure had led them to some place in Greece. Yes, they had hopped on one plane after another to get here. All Jake knew was that they were somewhere North west of Greece. Grover had suggested coming here and he is so intelligent that he even knows that the greek gods are well greek! Can you believe that? So Jake had followed him willingly to avoid insulting him further. It was unlikely that they would find Apollo here since the gods so like to move around the world a lot. The might bump into some minor god or monster but that was all Jake was expecting. Grover however seemed high of hopes.
"I've not seen Apollo since he brought you and Saph back from.. Where were you two anyway?" Grover asks with his mouth half full of can scraps. Jake sighs and falls back further into his seat with a slight amused smile on his face. Remembering their adventure/kidnap onto Luke ship was an amusing and slightly embarrassing story.
"We just decided to take a trip thats all" Jake lies. Grover grumbles to himself and takes another chunk out of his delicious can. The taxi driver turns her head and nearly swerves the car into a road sign when she spots what Grover is eating. She lets out a startled scream and attempts to grab the can out of Grover's hand. Grover is just as started and tries to snatch the can away from her prying hands.
"Sir! Give it to me before you hurt yourself" She screams in greek. Jake would laugh if the car was not about to crash. Its clear the lady has no intention of sorting the situation out. Jake breaks out of his seatbelt and climbs forward past the lady. He flops down into the front passenger seat and grabs the wheel. Sighing in relief when he sees that the car is an automatic. The road the car is on is empty and there are fields on either side that hold nothing but cut crops. The lady start screaming curses at Grover and is clearing getting no where. Jake yanks the wheel to one side and the car violently swerves and speeds across the road before crashing through the fields fence. He check to make sure everyone has their seat belts on before he takes the hand brake. The car stops in its tracks with a force that makes Jake grab onto his seat. The lady screams some more and Grover joins in with an even sharper screech. Once everything calms down Jake lets out a relieved sigh. The sun blazes through the window and makes something in the cup holder by his seat glitter. Jake looks down at it and almost let out a laugh. drachma. Their taxi driver isn't what she seems.
"Maybe you can tell us where we can find Apollo" Jake says with an amused smirk on his face. The lady freezes and turns her head to face Jake. She sighs and turns the rest of her body to sit in her set.
"And I was having so much fun" She grumbles. Grover gasps and points at the lady.
"She is a.. a.. What exactly are you?" Grover gasps out. Jake stares at the lady waiting on her answer.
"You are a smart one Jake Mason maybe you have been hanging around too much with that strange girl" She grumbles some more "I watch her sometimes and I just can't figure her out. Is she good or bad or just plain crazy" The lady ruffles her hair and shrugs her shoulders.
"What are you talking about? We just need to know where we might find Apollo" Jake grumbles, feeling slightly annoyed.
"A walking bomb would best suit her. yes, Sapphire Willow is a walking bomb and I fear for whoever makes her explode. Anyway enough of hopeless causes. I am Hecate Goddess of crossroads" Grover bursts out laughing and Jake turns to glare at his companion. Was Grover laughing at her description of Sapphire or for being Hecate. It was kind of creepy knowing she liked to watch Sapphire. Was Sapphire aware of her stalker?
"Why is the goddess working in a taxi?" Grover asks. Hecate hisses through her teeth and it looks like she is close to strangling a satyr.
"Its a good way to earn a few drachma. Happy?" Jake and Grover share a look before shrugging.
"Can I have my can back then?" Hecate frowns before she throws a can at Grover's head. Hecate rolls down her window and looks out at the field they are in.
"I can take you to him but it won't be free Jake Mason" Hecate mutters with an annoyed look on her face. "I will take all the drachma on you" Jake frowns at her
"I have some on me but where exactly is Apollo?" Jake asks. Hecate grins the most wicked of grins before she lifts the handbrake and floors the car into action.
"You will have to just wait and see" She chirps. All the windows go dark and the car zooms off through what Jake would assume was one of Hecate's crossroads. The speed they were going at made him want to throw up.

* art from Wikia collaborative communities

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Help Choose the Cover of my Next Book! The Diamond Looking Glass

*Don't forget to enter the Raising Rufus Book Giveaway!

Hello Readers! I need some help. My third book in the Cleopatra's Legacy Series is due to come out this October 2015. I have two covers that I need to choose from and I'd like your help picking the final version. Please look at both versions and let me know if you prefer version one or version two. Just leave a comment with your answer and if you want, tell me why. One lucky commenter on my blog or Facebook page will win a $10 Amazon Gift Card just for commenting. One comment whether blog or Facebook counts towards the giveaway. You must be 13+ to enter. Open internationally as long as your email will accept the Amazon code. No purchase necessary to enter. The contest will run for two weeks,ending midnight Monday, July 6th PST. Please help spread the word by sharing on Twitter and FB. Examples below...Good Luck!

Twitter- Please RT-Enter to #win a $10 Amazon gift card from @Dorinewhite when you help pick the cover of her next book!

Facebook- Please Share- Enter to #win a $10 Amazon gift card from fantasy author Dorine White when you help pick the cover of her next book!

Version One:

Version Two:

Friday, June 19, 2015

Author Interview with Kate Ristau

Welcome to YA Friday! Today I am interviewing the author of Shadowgirl, Kate Ristau.

First a little about the book:
(Blurb)- Áine lives in the light, but she is haunted by darkness, and when her fey powers blaze out of control, she escapes into the Shadowlands. But she cannot outrun her past. Fire fey and a rising darkness threaten the light, burning a path across the veil. Her fiery dreams come to life, and with the help of Hennessy, an uninhibited Irish girl, Áine dives into the flames to discover who she truly is. Her mother burned to keep her secret safe, and now Áine wields the deadly Eta. She must learn to fight in the shadows — or die in the flames. This is not a fairy tale.

The Interview:
1. Please tell me about  your main character Aine.

It’s not a plot spoiler to tell you that Áine is one of the fey. She grew up in the Aetherlands — the world of the fey. But, in a world of light, she is surrounded by darkness. Shadows follow her through the forest. Darkness surrounds her, and her fiery powers rage out of control. Áine escapes into our world — the Shadowlands — to find out the secrets of her family and her past.

Áine is strong, but there is so much she doesn’t know. Her story, Shadowgirl, is a journey of discovery, steeped in Irish folklore and mythology.

2. What makes this novel stand out among the fantasy world of lit? 

I have read so many folktales and young adult fantasy books about humans stepping into the world of the fey, or finding out they are fey (or sprouting gossamer wings). What makes my book different is I started with a different premise: what if one of the fey stepped into our world? Coming from a world of light, how would she deal with a world of shadows? How would she deal with a world of death? You know, sometimes we fear the fey and we fear what we don’t know, but my research made me believe that maybe they would fear us too. After all, we are creatures of light and darkness. We weave magic they could not possibly understand every time we flip a switch or turn on a car.

3. What influences brought you into the world of fantasy? Any special fantasy authors while you grew  up?

Where should I even start? I love Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, but a lot of my fantasy education has been more recent. Robin Hobb has had a huge influence on my understanding of the possibilities in fantasy, and Lev Grossman has shown me the perils. Melissa Marr and Cassandra Clare have shown me how a young adult book should be written, while Erin Morgenstern showed me how it could be written. Of all of those authors (I’m stopping myself now — there are many more!), Robin Hobb is the author that I would recommend to fantasy readers. Her worlds are rich and original, and her characters are complex and well developed. Her books are epic — nothing like my fast-paced novels — but brilliant. If you haven’t read her books, you should.

4. Can you tell me about your road to publication?

My road to publication is constantly under construction. Shadowgirl was first published by Lycaon Press. But after 6 years in business, they folded after my first print run! Luckily, they granted me all of my rights back, and I have been able to republish the novel. I couldn’t be more happy; I worked on Shadowgirl while I was in graduate school getting my Masters in folklore. It is full of my research and years of hard work, along with a fair amount of magic. Every time I pick up the book, I am filled with a particular kind of happiness that people get to read Áine’s story. And I hope they enjoy it too!

5. Any advice to aspiring writers?

My advice to aspiring writers is simple: Just write.

Write when you’re happy. Write when you’re sad. Write when the muse is with you, and write when the muse is in the basement. Every time you sit down to write, you’re moving closer to your goal. Some days the words will come easy, and some days they won’t. Some days you’ll want to launch your pen across the room.

Do it. Throw the pen. Then get up, walk across the room, pick it up, and start writing again.

It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.

6. Just for fun- favorite snack

Can I count coffee? Because my books are fueled by coffee, and I drink about half my calories. Coffee is liquid gold, running through my veins, making me a superhero. I’m not mixing metaphors here — coffee literally makes my blood gold.

Thank you Kate!
Here is the purchase link:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015

Raising Rufus by David Fulk- Middle Grade book review and Giveaway

I have a new release middle grade to share with everyone today. It is Raising Rufus by David Fulk. Random House Children's is giving a free copy away to one lucky reader within the US. To enter fill out the rafflecopter form below.

The Story-
Martin Tinker is a 12 year-old boy who would rather collect rocks and bugs than play sports. He spends most of his time in the family barn arranging his collections. On the search for new rocks, he comes across a crack in an old quarry mine and discovers an iced over egg. Surprise! the egg hatches into a T-rex that Martin names Rufus.

Raising Rufus is hard work. He is constantly growing and wants meat. Martin turns to jumbo cans of dog food to keep his pet happy. As time passes, he just can't keep things to himself and lets the new girl at school, Audrey, in on his secret. Together they spend the summer raising Rufus and teaching him tricks, but by the time school is about to start, Rufus is too big to stay alone in the barn and Martin and Audrey know they need adult help. They choose their science teacher as their go-to-guy, but before he can help, the sheriff, Martin's parent's and Mr. Fairfield (richest man in town and owner of the Trout Palace) find out their dino secret.

Now the town knows about Rufus and since adults know best, they take things into their own hands and turn their backs on Martin. What can Martin do? Can he save Rufus from a life of lab science and circus shows?

My Thoughts-
This is a fun book for boy and girl readers. Martin is a character that I found enjoyable and easy to relate too. He loves learning and would rather collect things, read books and play in the woods than do sports. Of course, his opposition to sports brings in a great dynamic with his father because his dad used to be an all-star football player. Again, another relatable plot line, a dad who thinks he knows what is best and doesn't pay much attention to his son.

Best friend Audrey is a wind of change for loner Martin. Suddenly he has a friend, someone to share his adventures and hang out with at school. One problem, she says Ai-yai-yai all the time! So annoying for a reader and it didn't fit in with her personality.  Authors, rule of three please. Any more than three mentions of a quirk in a story and it is over doing things.

Now, onto the adults. I couldn't feel anything but helpless as the adults come in and take everything away from Martin. The antagonist, Mr. Fairfield, was an easy call. From the moment you meet his character you know he will want Rufus as a main attraction. Martin's parents, now there is a doozy. His father completely ignores him and sells Rufus off to get money. There is no thought to other options or of listening to Martin explain about getting Rufus to the University. Epic Fail on dad's part. The fact that he later has a change of heart only slightly gives him points.

This book is about the dream.  The dream that one might find a mystical object and are able to keep it secret, raise it or learn its powers, and then become a popular hero. What kid could resist that? Well written and right on middle grade level. 4 stars!

Friday, June 12, 2015

In The Mouth of the Wolf by Nicole Maggi

One of my favorite days- YA Friday! Today I am looking at In the Mouth of the Wolf by Nicole Maggi. It is book 2 in the Twin Willows Trilogy.

The Story- 
The Benandanti (good shape shifters) now have control of the waterfall, but the Malandanti won't give up. They've brought in a mage to fight their battles. Desperate to keep the magic of the waterfall safe, and somehow bring Jonah to the right side, Alessia enlists Bree to spy on The Guild. Together they uncover secrets long lost to the Benandanti and some terrible truths about how far their enemy is willing to go to control the world.

Bree soon finds out that even though she is not a shape shifter, she actually has magic and begins to train as the Benandanti's mage. Alessia and Jonah try to stay apart, but their feelings keep getting in the way, and as another battle looms, Alessia wonders if Jonah will betray her.

My Thoughts-