Monday, June 23, 2014

The Golden-Chime Mermaid - Spotlight

Title: The Golden-Chime Mermaid and the Silver-Scaled Merman (The Merfolk of Gold Chime City)
Author: J. R. Hardin
You can find this book here: BQB Publishing, Amazon (Paperback), Amazon (Kindle Edition) and Barnes & Noble.


Tinkle, a Golden-Chime Mermaid and the protector of the underwater city of Gold Chime, is losing her power. So the city will stay safe, she must pass on her abilities to the young Golden-Chime Mermaid, Twinkle. But Twinkle has been captured by the evil warlock, Grim.

The city needs a hero to rescue the young mermaid, but for twenty years no hero has appeared. As time is running out, a young silver-scaled merman named Dart arrives to undertake the task. Dart must find the mermaid and free her from the large sea serpent that is guarding her. In order to free her, he must complete several quests. With every task Dart undertakes he faces more and more unexpected dangers, and he only has ten days to complete the quest before the old Golden-Chime Mermaid loses all her power.


J.R. Hardin, author of numerous children's books, has released a new adventure story, "The Golden-Chime Mermaid and the Silver-Scaled Merman", which is to be the first in a series of Merfolk tales. With this occasion, he has agreed to answer a few questions:

1. What inspired you to write Golden Chime Mermaid?
I just thought a book about mermen and mermaids would be interesting. I like writing action adventure books, so I made it a quest chain story with lots of danger.

2. Who should read this book and why will they enjoy it? 
My books are chapter books for readers between the ages of eight and twelve. If they like action adventure stories then they would like my books.

3. What made you want to become a writer?
After I retired from working, I prayed for something I would enjoy doing in my retirement years. I received some mail from The Institute of Children's Literature about taking courses on writing for children. I finished a couple of the courses and started writing stories for middle grade readers.

Thank you, J.R. Hardin.
You can find more information on the author, his dog, and his books here: J.R. Hardin on BQB.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cruentus Coniuro - New Release!

Title: Cruentus Coniuro
Author: J. Gairaud
Illustrator: Rocio Bertolina
You can find this book here: Amazon (Kindle Edition).


The lives of the Duke's daughters go by as pleasantly and normally as the lives of any two young girls who can each sprout a wing from their backs can: they enjoy dances, festivals and the attentions of young men, and then discuss all about them perched on the top of the old cemetery's church. However, everything changes with the arrival of a man, entangled in a battle between primal forces he can barely comprehend, and a dark woman with blood-red eyes.


"Cruentus Coniuro", a YA fantasy/ romance/ supernatural novel, is being officially released today, June 15th. Jaqueline Gairaud, the author, has agreed to share some exclusive insight on her characters:

Despite all the gossip, rumors and boy troubles, Aleissa lived happily in her small mountain town. Always thankful to have been given the chance to live the live of a little duchess and of having her sister to talk and share in secrets. But things can't stay like that forever, the arrival of a mysterious man, who has been fighting his own battles for too long, will change the order within her and all around her.    

Thank you, Jaqueline! Looking forward to reading your book.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Pauper by May Nicole Abbey (Tour Stop)

Title: The Pauper (Book Three) (The Fall Series)
Author: May Nicole Abbey
This book can be found here: Amazon (Kindle Edition), Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.


A mysterious stranger
A desperate mission
A grueling journey through time and space

Life had always been an exciting adventure to Heather Higgins. Even after the death of her father, the loss of a fortune, and a disappointing proposal, she yet sees the future as bright and full of possibilities. At the miraculous appearance of a mysterious man with piercing green eyes and a powerful intellect, Heather knows she has met her destiny. Whether he likes it or not.

In pursuit of a dangerous mission, Ammon Maharahi doesn’t have time for spoiled, doe eyed beauties. But no matter how hard he tries, he cannot dismiss her. Amidst his frantic travels through time and space in the effort to fix a dark future, his illness wears him down. He must find and stop a fellow time traveler before it is too late and all is lost. Tired, ill and disheartened, he wonders if he is fighting a losing battle when Heather Higgins is thrust into his path, infusing energy and life into his weary heart.

But time is running out. The answer lies with a gifted university professor from the future, as bizarre as she is brilliant. As Ammon and Heather race through time to unlock the puzzle, they know Ammon’s life and the future of all humankind slip closer to catastrophe with every tick of the clock. 


Title & Genre
I have to admit that, at first, the title “The Pauper” did not tell me anything. It really does not let you into the content of the novel. But, as I kept reading, I realized the irony and the humor behind it, the same characteristics of style that define the writing throughout. This is a historical fiction/ adventure novel, with elements of clean romance.

The theme is an unusual one: time travel. It is not disclosed from the beginning, the author letting us guess and discover along with one of the main characters, Heather. I was surprised by the notion of travelling through time without a time machine of sorts. Besides the fact that I find it very original, it is presented and explained in a way that makes it sound logical and believable. But I would not advise you to try it.

The main plot is based on the second main character’s, Ammon, determination to change the future, to reestablish order and to save people’s lives. Though his motivation seems selfless, Heather helps us discover that it might not actually be so, that his actions might be related to his wanting to change the outcome of his illness. In order to help himself and others, Ammon is on a quest; he is in the search of a woman, Rachel Madera, which becomes a sort of a Holy Grail in the book. Even if the character appears episodically, she is always present in the other characters’ minds and runs the action from behind the curtains.
The sub-plots are numerous, they develop and resolve, leading to other sub-plots. These are mainly based on the undesired love that grows between the two main characters, while they both fight it, the adventures they take part in, during their travels through time and space, the characters’ inner struggle, and, most originally, exquisitely hidden in the side notes of the journal-like novel.

Point of view
The book is written from the point of view of one main character, Heather Higgins. She is forced – or so it seems – to write her memoirs. At the beginning of each chapter, of each page of her journal, she adds the comments of and on her jailer. These comments become a story on their own and transform the novel into a story within a story.

The author seems to love all her characters, creating a bond with all of them, making the reader fall in love with them too. All the characters, no matter how little space or attention get in the novel, are very well delineated, portrayed through their actions, words or direct characterization. The main characters are Heather and Ammon, a couple that fights not for, but against their love. They undertake the task of changing the future, and they end up changing themselves and each other. It is difficult to choose a favorite here. I loved them all, I grew attached to them. I could see the crazy Rachel Madera preach about nanotechnology in 18th century England before my eyes, I was taken care of and amused by the Vissers, I looked deep and analyzed myself together with Heather.

Because the theme is time travel, it makes sense that the action takes place in different moments in time and space – 18th century England and Africa, ancient Egypt and the nowadays – but also on different levels of existence, in parallel universes, if you will.

The setting is essential to the plot development and influences the course of events, making secondary characters, like nomad tribes in Africa, pirates and Egyptian kings, possible and plausible.

As I have said before, the book is written in a form of a journal or memoirs, with notes on the side, a story within a story.
The writing is full of humor, seldom the kind that makes you burst out laughing, but a more subtle form of it, which keeps you smiling for pages in a row. Irony and sarcasm also play a big role. Apart from the main characters incessantly teasing each other from beginning to end, irony is used as a characterization method or as a source of humor. The title is also ironic, but you will have to discover why by reading the book.
Dialogue is present throughout, as is inner thought, leading us directly to the characters’ core.
The language used is illustrative for each time period that takes its turn in the storyline. We read old English, modern US English and – what I guess are – Egyptian words.

These characteristics, together with the fast pacing, make the book an easy, fast, very interesting and, if I may say, delicious read. 

No criticism. At all. Nothing. I loved everything.
(Nothing to read here.)

I almost never say this, but you have to read this book! It is too good for you to miss out on. I recommend it to teenagers, young and not-so-young adults, readers of all genres, as the novel touches and quenches desire for adventure, romance, fantasy and history.


Favorite characters: the Vissers, the Dutch couple that took Heather and Ammon in. I share Ammon’s point of view on them, as I find them extremely entertaining, with their continuous fighting and endless sarcasm. Noticeable is the way the author uses vocabulary to emphasize their accent.
Favorite quotes: “She’s not trying to kill him. She’s just not a very good cook.” – I wonder if my husband says the same thing about me.
                          “Bugs. They were eating bugs. And still they smiled.” – Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like bugs. I hate bugs. I have an all-bug phobia. And I would certainly never eat them. The first two sentences of this quote give me the heebie-jeebies and make my skin crawl. But the third makes me burst out laughing. Each time I read it.
Favorite name: Rachel mad-as-a-hatter Madera – The humor that builds around the character, the exoticism of the name, or maybe just the fact that it reminds me of Madeira wines make this name a favorite.

Least favorite character:  Ammon – he is lovable and detestable in the same time. Sometimes I want to kiss him, sometimes I want to kill him. Or am I identifying myself too much with Heather here?
Least favorite quote: (Heather:) “Why did you kiss me?”(Ammon:) “Forgive me.” – men… they just don’t get it, do they?
Least favorite name: Cuddy – does this guy have cooties?


News headline: “Woman kills herself by jumping off 24-story building after breakup”
Severe depression, caused by breaking up with her boyfriend, led a young woman to suicide yesterday…

Wrooong! She had just read “The Pauper” and attempted to travel through time.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Evolution of Angels by Nathan Wall

Title: Evolution of Angels
Author: Nathan Wall
You can find this book here: Amazon (Kindle Edition), Barnes & NobleKobo and Smashwords.

Author's description:

"'Your enemies will outnumber you. Your armor will define you.'
A second war in heaven is sparked by the actions of Azrael: the Arch-Angel of death. 
After his banishment, Angels all over existence flee to earth, masquerading as gods. Hints of their genetic code - and the unlocked powers therein - live on through the millennia, hidden in the bloodlines of their descendants.
Best friends, army Rangers Jarrod and Austin, are invited by a secret agency to participate in a program that would make them the ultimate weapons. The "Double-Helix," which unlocks hidden abilities in the Angels' human-born descendants, is not without its consequences. Participants will no longer be themselves, that is until a familiar face returns in human form."


The first eBook of the series "Evolution of Angels" has its official release today, June 5th, and I have had the honor of receiving an ARC for an honest review. Here it goes:

My official review:

Title & Genre
The title “Evolution of Angels” is quite deceptive, as this book is not really about angels. Not in the form or from the point of view you would expect, anyway. It is an action-adventure/ urban fantasy/ science fiction novel that deals with superheroes who fight to save the world.

Theme & Plot
The eternal good versus evil theme is not hidden, but presented in a direct way, and we know from the beginning who is good and who is not. We have the angels and the superheroes derived from the angels’ essence on one side, and the creatures of the underworld – some of which you will recognize from Greek mythology and some newly-created by the author – on the other.The plot develops on different levels: present and past, human and supernatural. While the main plot seems to take over the novel, with the endless fights between supernatural beings, the secondary plots give a shape to the story, especially to its human side. Each character comes with his baggage, his inner fights and problems. While the author does not insist on these, it still gives us some insight into the characters’ lives.

The source of the characters seems to have its roots both in mythology – we encounter angels, Cyclops, satyrs, the Minotaur, Charon – and in video games - superheroes with their detailed armors and fantastic weaponry.
Author’s attitude towards his characters is detached, you don’t feel that he has a close connection or preference toward any of them.
As to character delineation, most of the characters are sketched, the author paying more attention to their appearance and especially their armors, than to the psychological or moral traits. The motivation behind their actions is well defined, though. The author prefers to “show” rather than “tell”, a laudable characteristic of his style. The numerous flashbacks in the novel show the motivation that drives them.
The characters are not static, but they change, drastically sometimes, from human beings to superheroes with amazing powers, or, in one case, from a tough researcher who disconsiders human life to a caring father and husband, when given a second chance.
My favorite character was Oreios, as he is portrayed with a sense of humor and is the only impartial character in the book; a mercenary monster who doesn’t care about anybody but himself and who chooses which fight is worth fighting by weighing the advantages that it would bring him. I also liked the way the angels are presented, not as innocent chubby cherubs, but as powerful (fully grown-up) beings, dressed in impenetrable armors and making use of weapons. They have a conscience, and they carry their memories from thousands of years ago.

In his story, the author makes us travel all over the world and beyond: from the Middle East to Russia and then to Texas; from the world as we know it to the underworld; from a normal, earthly environment to a secret base; from the outside to the inside of someone’s head. At one time, we even follow him through space, having a beautiful image of the Earth from out there.

Nathan Wall’s diction floats between casual and slang, making you feel “at home” in his book. He is very original in the way he avoids “he said”/ “she said” tags after or before dialogue lines, by replacing them with action phrases, showing that the action takes place at the same time as the speech.
What I want to highlight is the dialogue itself: it is dominating the book, and I consider it a praiseworthy characteristic of Nathan Wall’s style.

I would have liked to know more about the characters, about their personality. At the end of the story, I remained detached and could not relate to any of them.
Also, I think the endless fight scenes take place much too often.
I wish the author had put as much time and effort in describing the characters as he did in describing the fights.

This book will be loved by science fiction readers, and especially by those who enjoy playing RPGs (role-playing games).  

My Twist:

Favorite character: Oreios, a “bad dude, named after a cookie”, a mercenary who fights for whichever side seems to hold the winning hand at a particular moment. He has a very interesting and original supernatural power (you’ll have to read the book to find out what that is), he is quite funny and impartial, and he is probably the only character who doesn’t have a hidden agenda of his own. Or does he?
Favorite quote: ’Woo, go America,’ another drunk voice yelled out, prompting a cheer from the crowd, making everyone erupt in applause.” - This sounds just like a real-life speech. All that’s missing is the flying shoes (or is that too old of a joke for you?).
Favorite name: I’ll have to go with Oreios again.

Least favorite character: Elliot, probably the meanest guy of them all, the proverbial snake pretending to be a friend.
Least favorite quote: pulled the blade out, releasing a gush of blood and guts” – eew!
Least favorite name: Hershiser – this name can be considered, by itself, a tongue-twister.

Aspirin of the book:

The phrase “you are an angel” changed its connotation for me. I’ll think twice before saying that to anybody again, and I certainly hope that the person to whom I’ll be saying it will not actually be an angel or one of his descendants.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Cat Who Spied On Me - New release!

Title: The Cat Who Spied On Me
Author: Jane Oldaker
Cover art and illustrations by J.B. Mann of Fuzzballs*Fuzzywinks Illustrations
You can find this book here: Amazon (Kindle Edition), Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.

Author's description:

Excess holiday indulgence leads Mahoney into an ultra-secret undertaking placing him in an undreamt of predicament with only an unlikely ally for help. Arlo is required to marshal all available resources for a tactical mission and his spycraft is taxed to the limit. 

My recommendation:

"The Cat Who Spied On Me" is the 3rd book in the series "The Secret Life and Career of Arlo the Barncat", a series inspired by real life characters. You will be amused reading about Arlo, a covert spy tomcat, his friends and his enemies, and how they always get into some kind of trouble.

The other books in the series are "Arlo's Epiphany" and "The Littlest Spycat's First Christmas". Links below.

"Arlo's Epiphany" can be found on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.
"The Littlest Spycat's First Christmas" is free on Smaswords and Barnes & Noble.