Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Review: Cyclops by Rachel Meehan

The Chronicles of Curious Creatures
Book Two
by Rachel Meehan
Cherry House Publishing
Picture Book Humor
ages 4+
53 pages

How would it feel if every day, 

All the people ran away 
If all they saw was a monster wild 
When you were really meek and mild, 
If you had not one single friend 
With whom your leisure time to spend. 
For Cyclops this could be his fate 
As a monster men just love to hate....


One-eyed beasts, who have the strength to crush an army of thousands--well, not necessarily. This lovely book introduces cyclops in a beautiful ballad style tale which will have kids wanting to read it again and again.

This is the first in a series of monster books. The text is done in rhymes, which flow very nicely and slide over the tongue as smooth as a song. In other words, this can be read by kids alone but works wonderfully as a read-aloud.

The story itself is unexpected and grabs--a cyclops who lives on an island is captured by pirates and sold to a circus. It gives a new twist to this creature, which usually is seen as a brutal beast. The text is written white on black, and in this case, that works just fine.

But the biggest treat in this book are the illustrations. They are unique enough to grab little readers' attentions (big ones too) and lead through the story, adding just the right amount to make fantasies soar. It's fun simply to flip through them and enjoy the artwork all on its own.

Summed up: This is a lovely read for young monster friends, and one I can highly recommend.

Curious about how the wonderful illustrations are created?
Watch and See!!!

And here she is. . .

I live in rural, southern Scotland and have been writing fiction for a number of years, concentrating on the young adult genre.  I originally trained in the visual arts and always have some project on the go.  I like plot-driven writing that has its context in real life although I often stray to the edges of sci fi........My own YA writing concentrates on strong female leads, stays away from romance and has the occasional bit of conflict, social issues and adventure.  I recently finished the Troubled Times series, which deals with climate change.  Cyclops, is my first illustrated book although I am working on two more.
I love reading fiction especially, young adult, end of the world and dystopian novels.  My favourite authors include Gudrun Pausewang, John Christopher, Alex Shearer, Patrick Ness, Kevin Brooks and John Wyndham.  I have a keen interest in the environment.
I live with my husband, in a house is situated well above sea level where we grow much of our own food and generate some of our own electricity.
I check my garden and surrounding areas regularly for signs of triffids......

Monday, May 30, 2016

Review: Game of Fear by Glede Browne Kabongo

The Fearless Series, Book One

by Glede Browne Kabongo 

YA Thriller/Suspense
398 pages

The sophistication of Gossip Girl meets the nail-biting suspense of James Patterson

A desperate act, an explosive secret, and a diabolical enemy—all part of a treacherous game with no limits.

Overachieving good girl Abbie Cooper has her future all planned out. As senior year at her elite private school kicks off, she has one simple goal: get into the Ivy League. But at St. Matthews Academy, nothing is ever simple. The pressure is overwhelming, the secrets are dirty, and the games are wicked. Abbie has a dirty secret—one that could destroy her chances of getting admitted into Princeton, and the lives of those closest to her.

One morning, she discovers a note in her locker with the warning, “I know what you did”. Then a photo arrives in the mail. It captures her most shameful deed—the shocking blunder she can never erase, in glorious detail. Someone is out to ruin her, but who and why? The answer lies with the sender of the photo, a mysterious girl known only as The Avenger. For a price, she assures Abbie her secret will remain safe. There’s only one problem: The Avenger may not exist at all. If Abbie doesn’t uncover her true identity before acceptance decisions are made, it’s game over…


This book takes off after the occurrences in another novel by Glede Browne Kabongo, SWAN DECEPTION, an adult thriller about the mother of the Cooper family. However, it is not necessary to read SWAN DECEPTION (nor is it directly part of the series) before hitting GAME OF FEAR, which centers around the Cooper's daughter, Abbie. 

Abbie Cooper is a high school senior, an excellent student and simply one of those type of girls who has a golden future ahead of her. She's a bit trudged down by her family's past (the one which would be presented in SWAN DECEPTION), but has mostly put it behind her and is ready to take life on. Despite all the wonderful qualities which many might think make her the perfect student, she's very much like the girl next door--down to earth, concerned about those around her and, simply said, nice. She's the kind of person one could see as a good friend, which makes her easy to root for.

The story itself is well written. The school scenes, dialogue, actions, and behavior are very fitting to the age group and feel natural. It's told from Abbie's point of view, letting the reader dive into her thoughts and feelings. The supporting characters aren't shoved off to the side either, but have their own problems, which masterfully weave in and around Abbie's own. It's unclear as to what secrets are hiding behind who's facade, which adds to the mystery and makes for some unexpected twists and turns.

This is a thriller, and as such Abbie find herself deeper and deeper in an 'Avenger's' plot. The author does a terrific job letting the mystery and tension mount little by little. Just as it seems Abbie is about to take a step forward, the story twists, and she realizes that she's only in deeper than she first thought. It's not a 'dangerous' type of thriller and has no real violence, but the tension still remains high as the stakes include Abbie's entire future and dreams.

Of course, there's a romance involved--the kind which starts from nothing and builds at a heart-warming pace. But it's the friendships and family support which really shine through all of this. Which is good, because Abbie's troubles are going to thicken, since there's going to be a book two.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Review: Three Twigs for the Campfire by Joseph Cognard

Today, I'm excited to present a lovely collection of three campfire stories written by a father/daughter team: Joseph and Gabriella Cognard. They've graciously agreed to a short interview over on Kidbits, which you can check out here!

The Miller Family Album
by Joseph Cognard
Illustrated by Gabriella Cognard
and Karen Mullarkey
Middle Grade Fiction
62 pages

Billy is more than a little nervous. Even with all the excitement of his first "kids only" camp out, there is something truly bothering him. Listen to the fire crackle as the Miller children, in their campfire tradition, each tell a story. Will the fire last till Billy can fall asleep? Worse yet, what will happen when it is his turn to tell a story? Lastly, why won’t the fly and mosquito buzzing around the campfire leave him alone?
As in traditional Twilight Zone episodes, that the author grew up with, Mr. Cognard creates three unique and unpredictable stories, that both children and adults will all enjoy.
The book is packed with illustrations by Gabriella Cognard, a tween with artistic flair well beyond her years.


I love the setting of this book, a camping trip in the backyard with a young boy, Billy, nervous to sleep outside for the very first time. Of course, the campfire is there, and this book concerns the tales told around it.

Billy is like many other kids who are ready to brave this adventure for the first time, and it's easy to sympathize with him. He's scared of the dark--a fear many kids face. His older brother and sister are there with him, making for a wonderful family round-up. In other words, it's an experience kids can relate to.

There are three stories, all very different from the other, and each told by one of the three kids. Unlike a reader might think, this isn't about scary stories but rather ones to simply enjoy. It's easy to get lost in each one, while experience an entire different plot just as each of the kids is different in themselves. The break down into the stories also makes it easy to read only one at a time (as a read-aloud) or come back to the favorite one and read it again later on.

Even thought there are three separate stories, there's a lovely character arc as Billy overcomes his fears and, in a way, matures just a bit.

There are lovingly made illustrations sprinkled throughout the book, which make it that much more enticing to read.

Summed up: This is a nice read, which can work as a read-aloud or read-alone. The stories are perfect for kids and build a nice atmosphere while subtly presenting a message. And it's great for this time of year (summer vacation) where kids will be dreaming of tents, sleeping under the stars and campfires.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Excerpt: Sleeping Tom by E.V. Fairfall with Giveaway

Sleeping Tom
by E.V. Fairfall
(Sleeping Tom #1)
YA Contemporary Romance
345 pages

Hitchhiking is a bad idea but Caden is desperate.
When she accepts a ride from the first car to come by she meets Gabriel. He’s her age, hot, and the closest thing she has to a savior. Problem is, he is a total jerk. With nowhere to go, Caden convinces Gabriel to let her stay with him for one night. He reluctantly lends a couch.
That night Caden wakes up to strange noises. Concerned, she rushes into Gabriel’s room, already anticipating his bad temper. Instead, he’s kind, sweet, and suspiciously harmless—nothing like the man who gave her a ride. He seems like a different person altogether, and claims he is. By night he is Tom, and by day he is Gabriel. Caden finds herself drawn to the mysteries hidden in his eyes.
For Gabriel, Caden is an annoying mistake. One night turns into many, and despite all his anger towards her, she stays. She even seems to accept him and his flaws, but he still doesn’t trust her—is she staying for him, or has she already discovered more than he’s willing to share?
Grab yours today for only 99cents (for a limited time only)!
Stay tuned for Waking Gabriel‘s release in July!


“Don’t go.”
He was creeping her out. She wanted to run and hide from him, but instead she held her ground and, as casually as she could, leaned into the doorframe. “It’s like three in the morning,” she reminded him, attempting a frown to hide her anxiety.
“Do you want to play a game?”
“What?” Caden asked, his voice once again making her unsure. A game? It sounded like something Sean would say. Caden shifted her weight, eyeing him warily. I can handle this. She let out a deep breath; if nothing else she could use this as an opportunity. Cleaning at three in the morning obviously hadn’t scored her enough Good Samaritan points.
“Sure… We can play a game.” She wondered if her hesitation would make him angry, like she had when they had been in the car that afternoon.
She looked around for a weapon, anything she could use to protect herself. As her eyes scanned the room each surface was bare, aside from the bulky old alarm clock on the nightstand.
“First, you have to turn off the lights.”
Caden’s hand shook. This didn’t feel right. “Okay,” She mumbled, attempting to seem unfazed, and she turned off the lights with a flick of her wrist. It took a few seconds for her eyes to readjust, and when they did she saw the boy leap back onto the bed, light and agile. She took an uneasy step back. Her chest constricted and her breath caught in her throat. Caden couldn’t deny being unsure of the situation, of this boy who somehow had to be the man she’d met earlier that day.
His head moved from side to side, watching her as intently as she watched him. “What do you want to play?” he asked.
Even then, with him in better visibility, Caden couldn’t tell if the boy was really Gabriel. It was the same voice she had heard earlier, but without the rough edge of his irritation it sounded much younger and innocent, like that of a child. “I don’t know…”
“Oh, come on, think of something,” he said.
When he didn’t move to grab her, she relaxed a little, her breath evening out once again. Caden could feel her confidence slowly building. Maybe he really just wants to play a game. “Aren’t you tired?”
The boy’s shoulders and head dropped. “So you don’t want to play,” he confirmed dejectedly. She watched as he turned around on the empty bed, to face the other wall.
Caden’s little sister Reese always used guilt to get what she wanted. She hadn’t known a guy her own age could make her feel just as guilty, if not worse. “No, no, I want to play. I do.” As long as you stay on that side of the room. Caden moved farther into the room but stayed a good six feet away.
“What game? What game?” He bounced on the bed in his sitting position.
“Do you have any cards?” She clutched the blanket tighter around her, but tried to keep her voice light and casual.
“Cards?” The boy, who no longer seemed like Gabriel at all, stuck out his tongue. “Dumb. Something else.”

And here she is. . .

The hunger is encompassing, so she feeds the beast books. But the hunger never settles… so she writes. E.V. Fairfall has an itch that drives her to the world of story telling. With several published short stories, and soon several books (fingers crossed), she explores the topics of humanity and hardship.
During the daylight hours, a book is always within reach. She spends her nights reading with her husband, surrounded by towers of tomes and three furry children curled in close. If she isn’t reading, she is browsing bookstores or hiking, but always awaiting her next adventure.


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Friday, May 27, 2016

The Florentine Deception by Carey Nachenberg

This one is more for you Mom's and Dad's out there, but the sales support under-privileged kids and low-income students--something which definitely helps kids!

by Carey Nachenberg
Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller
336 pages

A seemingly mundane computer clean-up leads to an electrifying quest for an enigmatic—and deadly—treasure in this gripping techno-thriller.

After selling his dorm-room startup for millions and effectively retiring at the age of twenty-five, Alex Fife is eager for a new challenge. When he agrees to clean up an old PC as a favor, he never expects to find the adventure of a lifetime waiting for him inside the machine. But as he rummages through old emails, Alex stumbles upon a startling discovery: The previous owner, a shady antiques smuggler, had been trying to unload a mysterious object known as the Florentine on the black market. And with the dealer’s untimely passing, the Florentine is now unaccounted for and ripe for the taking. Alex dives headfirst into a hunt for the priceless object.

​What starts out as a seemingly innocuous pursuit quickly devolves into a nightmare when Alex discovers the true technological nature of the Florentine. Not just a lost treasure, it’s something far more insidious: a weapon that could bring the developed world to its knees. Alex races through subterranean grottos, freezing morgues, and hidden cellars in the dark underbelly of Los Angeles, desperate to find the Florentine before it falls into the wrong hands. Because if nefarious forces find it first, there’ll be nothing Alex—or anyone else—can do to prevent a catastrophic attack.

The author is donating all of his proceeds from sales of The Florentine Deception to charities to help underprivileged and low-income students.

1,620 books sold,  $8,173.00 donated as of December 31st (with $182 pending)!

Let's help him reach his goal of selling 2,000 books and donating $10,000!
Visit http://florentinedeception.weebly.com/charities.html to see the list of charities.

​Buy the audiobook:  Amazon  ~  Audible
Buy the book:   Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble

And here he is. . .

Carey Nachenberg is Symantec Corporation's Chief Engineer and is considered one of the inventors of Norton AntiVirus. As Chief Engineer, Carey drives the technical strategy for all of Symantec's core security technologies and security content. He has led the design and development of Symantec's core antivirus, intrusion prevention and reputation-based security technologies; his work in these areas have garnered over eighty-five United States patents.

In addition to his work in the cyber-security field, Carey has also recently published his first novel, a cyber-security thriller entitled “The Florentine Deception,” and is donating all proceeds from sales of the novel to charities supporting underserved students and veterans. Carey holds BS and MS degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from University of California at Los Angeles, where he continues to serve as Adjunct Professor of Computer Science.

Connect with the author:   Website   Twitter   Facebook


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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review: Willakaville by Mathew Heinecke

Amazing Adventures of Astronomical Awesomeness
by Mathew Heinecke
Middle Grade Adventure
216 pages

Why is all the toilet paper disappearing? Will Kyle escape the banana warriors? Can Marty save everyone from the mushroom zombies?

Find the answers inside Willakaville: Amazing Adventures of Astronomical Awesomeness. Follow intelligent children as they solve supernatural issues and find out about themselves along the way. 

The book is full to the brim with time machines, magic, mayhem, aliens, cats, mystery, secrets, strange lands, rockets, evil villains, and a pencil.

If you are into action, adventure and awesomeness, this is the book for you!




Some towns and the people in them are simply strange, but none is probably as vibrant, quirky and oddly exciting as Willakaville. 

This is a lovely collection of stories involving an unusual...and fairly zany town. The characters often are normal enough, but the situations they get involved in and the solutions will make the reader tilt their heads, make a 'huh' noise and smile or giggle. Nothing is at it seems; it's better. And one never knows what's going to happen in Willakaville town next.

Each story involves a different cast of characters, of all ages and types. These stories are broken down into fairly short chapters, making it easy to read one or two at a time. The plots are very different, making it impossible to guess what will happen, but they share one thing in common--they are unexpected, chucked full of funny fantasy and a bit of humor kids are sure to enjoy.

The writing is great, giving enough descriptions to know what's going on but keeping centered on the action itself. The characters are usually the kind of people one might see in real life, which gives the right foothold to let the nonsense take flight. 

This is especially a gem for reluctant readers and sure to pull at least a smirk on most reader's faces. I recommend it for kids ages 8+. 

And here he is. . .

Bald Guy is a genetically modified carrot-banana slug hybrid with mind controlling powers that allow him to implant silly songs into one's brain.  He is the supreme ruler over his bathroom and garage. He grew up in the sewers of the city of Glop on planet Toidy. After receiving his degree in bizzarology, he continued onto a career of laziness followed by several years of goofing off.

If you want to know more about Bald Guy, read his series Willakaville. By the time you are done reading it, you will have a better understanding of this monolith of galactic culture.

BALD GUY:  Amazon   Goodreads
BLOGS: Blogger   Wordpress
SOCIAL MEDIA: Twitter   Facebook    Tumblr   Google+   YouTube

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wizardry Goes Wild by Sunayna Prasad

Alyssa McCarthy's Magical Missions, Book 2
by Sunayna Prasad
Middle Grade Fantasy

After months of living a normal life, thirteen-year-old Alyssa McCarthy faces magic again. Only this time, though, she is cursed with it, thanks to an old depressed skeleton named Errol. Alyssa's time with her godfather, Alex, will never be the same again, as she can perform sorcery, but never control it.
From letting out enchantments at school to creating outdoor disasters, Alyssa is bound to face consequences. She can only get rid of her powers if she can boost her confidence levels and improve her bravery. But it's not as easy as it sounds. She must measure those abilities with a special device called a skillometer. Will she be able to get rid of her unwanted wizardry?

All about the author!

Sunayna Prasad is a college student studying art. In her free time, she likes to write fiction. She is also the author of From Frights to Flaws, which is the first installment of the series, Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions. Sunayna lives in New York with her family.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Excerpt: Flying Blind by Caroline A. Gill with Giveaway

Flying Blind 
by Caroline A. Gill 
(The Flykeeper Chronicles, #2) 
St Helena Press
Publication date: May 21st 2016
YA Dystopia/Paranormal

In a broken America, seventeen-year old Iolani Bearse encounters a world full of wonder and danger.
Lani discovers a secret: houseflies have magic.
Stealers have no mercy.
Armed with memory-draining lanterns, the stone-cold hunters relentlessly follow catastrophes, laying traps, preying on the weak.
Together with her father, Eleanor, Sam, and Mango, her beloved pinto mare, Lani rescues victims from the grasp of Memory Stealers. One by one, she saves whomever she can, looking for any path that leads to safety. When her family’s farmhouse is attacked, Lani must act quickly to save those she loves.
Can Lani unmask their powerful, hidden enemies before the flies’ magic fails and everything burns to ashes?
Will the loss of one of her greatest friends become her downfall?
Can Lani overcome the evil that is tearing her world apart, flying blind?



To be so resourceful, to survive such a terrible loss, storms, devastated homes, broken

buildings, that took a great amount of courage. But then the Stealers came. They always

came, with deceit on their tongues. They culled the herd. Following along after the worst

storms, the harshest blizzards, the days when everyone was snowed in and the air itself

was hard to breathe, they arrived with an offer to help. When the situation was most

devastating, they showed up, like crows and vultures surrounding carrion.

“They have no remorse.” I said that. Must have said it out loud, cause everyone nodded.

Kill them with kindness. That was the Soul Stealer way. And when everyone's guard was

down, they struck with efficiency, military in precision. Heartless, merciless, they snuck

into national and local emergencies and stole the ragged lives of desperate survivors. No

one was the wiser. No media reported on the phenomenon. We, the people had become

a product to be harvested.

And here she is. . .

Unusual stories attract me, ones in which the reader cannot easily see the ending or most of the journey. Visiting Rome during university studies, I found a simple truth sitting on buses, traveling all over the ancient city: the joy is in the Journey, in the people I meet, not in the destination. So, I write for you. I write for sanity. I write for chocolate and really good pizza.


Review: Inheritance by Joan Cleveland and Marisa Cleveland

by Joan Cleveland and Marisa Cleveland
Simeris Alliance, LLC
Middle Grade Paranormal
183 pages

His destiny is to save humankind. But first he must survive middle school...

The descendants of the fallen angels never had it so good. At twelve, Grayson Lahash is thrust into an unfamiliar world where battle lines balance precariously in favor of good over evil, and his unexpected arrival and fallen heritage may be just enough to tip the scales.

But as Grayson uncovers the secrets of his past, he must decide if he's willing to risk everything for the destiny that is his to inherit


This book is written by a mother/daughter team, and in the acknowledgements, Joan Cleveland states that it was done so middle graders would have more books 'to read with passion and depth and imagination'. The authors achieved exactly this.

After watching his mother die in front of him, 12-year-old Grayson's father orders a giant to carry him off to a boarding school, where Grayson isn't sure what's going on and would give anything to get his mother back. He soon realizes that the students in the school aren't exactly what they appear to be. He's involved in something much larger and more dangerous than the normal human world he's known up to now.

The story starts off with a gripping scene and puts Grayson in a situation where it's impossible not to sympathize with him. His confusion is felt in the first couple of chapters and soon starts to gain clarity as the pieces start to fall together. The authors do a great job of drawing the reader into the story, and just when it appears as if things are making sense, the plot turns in a new, unpredictable direction, keeping the tension and mystery high until the last page.

Although Grayson is the main character, there's a rich cast of side characters, each with their very own story. Some are easy to love or hate from the beginning, where others are struggling to discover who they are and what they stand for. Especially middle graders will understand how difficult decisions can be, and how things aren't always black and white but often sit in a unclear grey.

There are so many wonderful messages in this book, none of which feel like they're being held up like a flag. The characters learn about themselves, friendship, sacrifice and forgiveness. The strong, Christian aspects of the story are refreshing. They blend seamlessly into the plot without playing down the danger, tension, and fantastical aspects of the story. There are a few violent scenes, but nothing inappropriate for the age group.

Summed up: This is a story fantasy/paranormal friends, especially Christian ones, will enjoy diving into. There are fight scenes, mystery, hints of magic, twists and turns, and battles of good versus evil, all of which can keep a reader at the edge of there seat. I especially recommend this for readers ages 10+. 

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Review: The Road to Thune by Michael T. Best

The Crosswick Chronicles, Book 1
by Michael T. Best
Middle Grade Fantasy
183 pages

When Tessa Ferngrove, a strong, free spirited teenager is bitten by a poisonous wyvern while hunting, she and her friend Liam Crosswick must seek help from a mysterious mountain man called the Dweller. In exchange for her health, they must perform a series of favors for him. In doing so, Tessa and Liam learn of an ancient evil looming over the safety of their homeland of Harmonia. To fight this threat, Tessa and Liam must figure out how to use their secrets and gifts: namely her ability to hear people before they speak, see things she has never witnessed and Liam's uncanny knack to miss the target with every arrow shot.

Or find it at CREATESPACE

This is a nicely paced adventure with action, a tiny bit of humor and fantastical creatures. 

The two main characters, Liam and Tessa, portray a wonderful friendship which readers are sure to enjoy. Their back and forth banter is a treat, and it was easy to get to know both of them. When the plot thickens, they both grow with their tasks and it's a joy to watch them mature.

The story moves along, allowing little chance for boredom. There's a lot of action and character depth, and the dialogue is realistically done. The descriptions could have offered a little more to the world, and brought the creatures more to life. Still, it's a story to enjoy.

And here he is. . .

Michael T. Best is the author of science fiction, adventure, fantasy and American history books. His writing has appeared in Boys' Life Magazine.