Monday, July 31, 2017

Review: Aurella the Witch by Annie Sezate

Book One
by Anni Sezate
Middle Grade Fantasy
356 pages

Aurella found out she’s a witch… just in time to start a witch hunt.

Twelve years ago, the kingdom of Dovice was purged of magic. All the witches were killed in a massive witch hunt, and evidence of their existence was erased from history. So when Aurella discovers she’s a witch, she’s both confused and frightened. Despite the risk of revealing herself, Aurella uses her powers to protect her only friend from a dangerous situation and accidentally sets in motion another witch hunt, making her the key target.

With few allies and an entire country against her, Aurella flees north in hopes of finding Rashtica, the alleged kingdom where her kind live in peace. But Aurella can’t run forever, and if she doesn’t learn to embrace her power, the witch hunt she brought about could be her bitter end.


Magic, fantasy and friendship make this an adventure to get lost in and hold on to even after it the last page ends.

In a land where magic has been completely wiped-out and destroyed, the last thing Aurella hates to be called is  a witch. But when she accidentally casts a spell, bullying is the last thing she's concerned about. Forced to hide her true nature, Aurella embarks on a journey to find the one place where she might survive in peace, Rashtica. But her hopes of reaching it quickly unravel, and she's in more danger than she ever imagined she could be.

There is so much to love about this magical world. The author does a terrific job of creating a place which is familiar enough to feel a bit like home, while staying fantastical enough to allow dreams to take flight. There are enough details to bring everything to life without bogging down the pace. It's a great introduction to a world, which can easily support the adventures of an entire series.

Aurella is a lovely character. She's a bit too mature for a twelve-year-old but, that aside, the age enables other facets of the story to unfold nicely. She's kind and daring but not quite perfect, making her easy to cheer for the whole way through. Her age allows the beautiful friendship with a slightly older Mavic to form without a wave of drama, which probably would have happened had she been older. The friendship between the two was my favorite part of the story. They are opposites in many ways, and it's exactly this that creates the perfect balance. The dialogue and interaction between the two keeps the story moving along and makes both very sympathetic.

A vast variety of characters is introduced as the plot unfolds, each one adding a new facet and layer. It was a treat to meet each one and watch how the story thickened with each new personality. The side characters aren't simply thrown in, but have their own small histories and importance. It's a fun adventure, but never overly simple. And the magical aspects add a nice twist.

I can't wait to see where the adventure goes from here.

And here she is. . .

Debut author Anni Sezate is an elementary school teacher from Gilbert, Arizona. She received her education degree from Arizona State University, though she spent a semester living out her acting dreams as a musical theater major. Anni is your typical right-brained lefty who spends most of her time reading, writing, drawing, and singing way too loudly to Broadway soundtracks. Anni is a proud daughter, sister, aunt, and Ravenclaw (Thunderbird, if we’re being technical).

Moonburner by Claire Luana

by Claire Luana
Moonburner, #1
Soul Fire Press
Publication date: June 14th 2016
YA Fantasy

Kai is a Moonburner—a female sorceress reviled by her people and normally killed at birth. Except Kai’s parents saved her by disguising her as boy—a ruse they’ve kept up for almost seventeen years. But when her village is attacked, Kai’s secret is revealed and she’s sentenced to death.
Thankfully, the gods aren’t done with Kai. Despite the odds stacked against her, she escapes her fate, undertaking a harrowing journey to a land where Moonburners are revered and trained as warriors.
But her new home has dangers of its own—the ancient war against the male Sunburners has led the Moonburners down a dark path that could destroy all magic. And Kai, armed only with a secret from her past and a handsome but dangerous ally, may be the only one who can prevent the destruction of her people…

And here she is. . .
Claire Luana grew up reading everything she could get her hands on and writing every chance she could. Eventually, adulthood won out, and she turned her writing talents to more scholarly pursuits, going to work as a commercial litigation attorney at a mid-sized law firm. While continuing to practice law, Claire decided to return to her roots and try her hand once again at creative writing. She has written and published the Moonburner Cycle and is currently working on a new trilogy about magical food. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and two dogs. In her (little) remaining spare time, she loves to hike, travel, binge-watch CW shows, and of course, fall into a good book.


Happy Book Bday, Illuminate by L.L. Hunter

by L.L. Hunter 
YA paranormal romance/ urban fantasy
Cover Designer: Desiree DeOrto
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

 Emma Raine looks like your average eighteen-year-old.
But she holds a secret deep within her.
She is a magical being, a powerful queen of a faraway mythical land who fled her destiny.
No one will ever know.
And she’ll kill you before you ever will.
By day, Emma is a journalism intern in one of Sydney’s top media companies.
By night, she researches ways of keeping magic hidden, of keeping her world separate from the life she lives now.
But something is stirring in the streets of the trendy Australian city.
There are whispers of magic, and Emma must stop it before it takes hold.
Her search leads her to the mysterious forests of New Zealand, the one place she swore she'd never return… and the man who rules it all.
In the enticing first novel of the spin-off of the Dragon Heart Series, can Emma keep her magic hidden from the one man she thought she’d never see again?
Or will his interest in her illuminate everything?
You can’t run from your destiny.

L.L. Hunter is the author of over 20 published works, including The Legend of the Archangel Series and The Garden of Eden. She has studied everything from veterinary nursing, forensic science, and dramatic arts, but has always known her true calling was to be an author. 

She has been writing since her teens - everything from fan fiction, to song lyrics, to plays and musicals. When not working on her next paranormal romance, she can be found at home in Australia, reading somewhere comfortable with one or both of her “fur babies.” Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @llhunterbooks, and her blog -

Buy Links: Burn
Book 2: Illuminate
Book 3: Obliterate (Pre-order)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Review: Unicorn Princesses Sunbeam's Shine by Emily Bliss

by Emily Bliss
Illustrated by Sydney Hanson
Bloomsbury Childrens
Chapter Book
ages 7 and up
128 pages

AUGUST 8th, 2017!!!

Welcome to an enchanted land ruled by unicorn princesses! Cressida Jenkins, a unicorn-obsessed girl who is sure that unicorns are real, is invited to visit, and readers will be thrilled to journey to the Rainbow Realm along with her! In each story, Cressida is called to help a unicorn princess and her sisters in a magical adventure.

In the first story, a blundering wizard-lizard casts a spell that accidentally robs Princess Sunbeam of her magic yellow sapphire. Without it, she loses her powers--the ability to create light and heat. The only way to reverse the spell is for a human girl who believes in unicorns to find the yellow sapphire and reunite Sunbeam with her gemstone. Sunbeam ventures into the human world and enlists Cressida's help, who is thrilled to visit the Rainbow Realm. But finding Sunbeam's sapphire isn't quite as easy as she thought it would be . . .


Taking off on a magical adventure packed full of sparkling fantasy, this is sure to be a favorite with young unicorn fans.

The wizard-lizard is determined to make a spell that works, but, as usual, it goes array. He accidentally zaps the magic yellow sapphire our of Princess Sunbeam's possession and make her magicless. The only way to solve the problem is to find a girl in the human world who believes in unicorns, and have her find the gem and give it back to the princess. Then, all will return to normal. Too bad that many human girls no longer believe in magic, let alone unicorns.

This story has everything a magical tale for young girls should have. There are princess unicorns, magic, sparkling gems, adventure and tons of feel-good fantasy. It's a playful tale and keeps the whimsical adventure light and fun even when the going gets rough. The human girl, Cressida, is a lovely girl with a huge imagination and ready to take on whatever comes at her. It's wonderful to watch her ignore others as they try to tell her unicorns don't exist, and stick to what she believes without a single negative thought. But she's not completely naive either, and does think things through before diving in. When things get tough, she doesn't give up but shows that determination and persistence do pay off.

The writing is well done for the intended audience, never talking down to the readers but never jumping too high over their level either. This makes for an easy, fun read even if the 120 pages might sound like a lot to more reluctant, younger readers. The illustrations peppered through the pages add a nice change of pace and help bring the story to life.

Summed up, this is the type of unicorn read girls ages 7 to 10 will be more than happy to dive into. It holds all the princess fanciness and unicorn magic a young heart desires, and maintains a wholesome, whimsical adventure the entire way through. It's a wonderful start to a magical series.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Cover Reveal: Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy Coloring Book by Paula Berinstein and Anna Mogileva

Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy Coloring Book

Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy Coloring Book

by Paula Berinstein and Anna Mogileva
 Coloring Book

Twenty fun-to-color detailed drawings featuring characters from the popular Amanda Lester, Detective series. Designs are printed one to a sheet so you never have to worry about markers bleeding through. Includes portraits of blind sleuth Ivy Halpin, her guide dog Nigel, arch villain Blixus Moriarty, and four different outfits for budding detective Amphora Kapoor.

You can find Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy Coloring Book on Goodreads

You can see the portfolio of Anna Mogileva here.

Pages from the Coloring Book
Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy Coloring Book page 1

Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy Coloring Book page 2

Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy Coloring Book Page 3

About the Amanda Lester series:
Set in England’s Lake District, the series revolves around a twelve-year-old girl, Amanda Lester, who is forced to attend a super-secret school for the descendants of famous detectives, despite her desire to pursue filmmaking. Adding to the heroine’s angst is the fact that she is ashamed of her famous ancestor, bumbling Scotland Yard Inspector G. Lestrade.

The books in the series so far:

Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar ConspiracyAmanda Lester and the Orange Crystal CrisisAmanda Lester and the Purple Rainbow PuzzleAmanda Lester and the Blue Peacocks’ SecretAmanda Lester and the Red Spider RumpusAmanda Lester and the Gold Spectacles Surprise

And here she is. . .

Paula Berinstein
Paula Berinstein is nothing like Amanda. For one thing, she’s crazy about Sherlock Holmes. For another, she’s never wanted to be a filmmaker. In addition, compared to Amanda she’s a big chicken! And she wouldn’t mind going to a secret school at all. In fact, she’s hoping that some day she’ll get to build one.

You can find and contact Paula here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Goodreads
- Paula's blog on Goodreads
- The Writing Show podcasts
- Newsletter


There is a cover reveal wide giveaway for the cover reveal of Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy Coloring Book. Open International. These are the prizes you can win:
- One winner will win an Amazon gift card and the Amanda Lester coloring book
- 2 winners will each win a copy of Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy Coloring Book

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Happy Book Birthday, Guarding Eden by Cameo Renae!

Guarding Eden
A Midway Novel 
by Cameo Renae
 YA Fantasy
Publisher: CHBB
Cover Designer: Stefanie Saw
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

***The Midway Novels are spin-offs of the Hidden Wings Series, but each book can be read as a standalone.***
Tucked away at an upscale, private boarding school in Brindle Hollow, Washington, seventeen-year-old Eden East comes face to face with a hideous creature on her walk back to her dorm. Shaken to her core, she's left questioning the world around her, and soon finds herself entering a friendship with a hot, new student named Alexander.
Little does she know, Alex is a Guardian Angel, sent from Midway to protect her from those dangerous creatures—known as Darkling—lurking in the forest outside Brindle Hall. It isn’t long before Alex learns this is no ordinary assignment. Eden’s existence holds a secret; something hidden from even herself.
Eden is thrust into a world where Fallen angels and creatures of the Underworld will stop at nothing to catch her. With Alex at her side and a little help from some of his old friends, they form a formidable front against the enemy.
 Hopefully, it’s not too little, too late.

2016 Young Adult Author of the Year - Penned Con
2013 Break Out Author by Young Adult & Teen Readers
2013 Book of the Year (Hidden Wings) Cameo Renae was born in San Francisco, raised in Maui, Hawaii, and recently moved with her husband and children to Alaska. She's a daydreamer and a caffeine and peppermint addict who loves to laugh, loves to read, and loves to escape reality. One of her greatest joys is creating fantasy worlds filled with adventure and romance and sharing it with others. One day she hopes to find her own magic wardrobe and ride away on her magical unicorn. Until then...she'll keep writing! HAPPY READING!

Author Links:
Buy Link:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Review: Mickey's Found Sounds from Hal Leonard

A Musical Exploration Book
Published by Hal Leonard Corporation
32 pages
ages 4+

Explore Music! Learn music through creative play, including online activities.

This inventive story uses music, crafts and creative play to help children experience the fun of making music out of “found sounds.” The Main Street Parade has been rained out, but Mickey and his friends make their own parade as they discover items around the house that can be used to make musical instruments. The book includes special unique online activities including a video read-along, an audio sing-along, and activities to explore sounds and sound makers. Ages 4+.

Also available from Hal Leonard Corporation here.


One cute story, and before you know it, kids are creating instruments and making music of their own. Love it!

Mickey Mouse opens up the window and realizes that it's a great day for a parade. Mickey's friends have tons of ideas for it too. But when the weather takes a turn for the worse, the parade is cancelled. Now, the friends have to come up with something else to do.

First, comes Mickey Mouse and a simple tale, which includes all of his most familiar friends. It's a quick read, only a few lines on each page, and perfect to pull into a short adventure. The only thing that's missing is the ending. . .and that's exactly the way this should be. With finesse, the story glides into an invitation for kids to get involved and make their own music instruments. While some of the instrument ideas take a little bit of material gathering (plastic bottle, glue, construction paper, etc), others are so simple that it only takes a quick run and grab (a bucket and two spoons). There are five different projects and each one is explained in detail on a two-page spread. Although an adult needs to stand by to offer a hand, most steps are simple enough for kids ages four and up to tackle without too many problems.

The illustrations are bright and fun as is to be expected for Mickey and Co. During the instructions on building the instruments, there are 'real life' photos of the materials required as well as of each step, making it clear what needs to be done. A cheerful Disney character mentors each instrument, tying the entire thing together. And at the end of each instrument's instructions is a 'play' idea, which inspires kids to use their self-made musical toy. All of this is easy to follow and the instruments are simple enough that they are pretty fool proof and will work well in even the clumsier hands.

As an extra bonus, there are extra activities offered online which accompany this book. There's a 'sing-along' where the kids can do a type of karaoke and play their instruments, and the words for this are also found toward the end of the book. There's also a couple of extra activities and even a read-along version of the full book, so kids can watch it and listen to the story too. All of these are nicely done and offer a bit of variety.

At the very end of the book, there's a note to parents, caretakers and teachers which offers a few quick hints on homemade instruments, music and how important/easy it is to slide this into kids' lives.

In other words, this book packs a lot of fun in a few pages, encouraging not only reading but music, crafting and family fun. The different aspects enable the book to be used in many different ways so there's always something new to discover and do.

All about. . .

This book is authored by a Hal Leonard team of artists, designers, writers, music educators, songwriters and music producers, and based on an early childhood music curriculum commissioned by Disney Learning. Each of these hardcover picture books includes not only a charming, colorfully illustrated story that's perfect for ages 4 to 8, but also an array of musical exploration activities. To add to the fun, additional online activities, including video read-alongs, audio sing-alongs, and more, are provided for each title on the Hal Leonard Explore Music website.

Sale blitz: The Gryphon Series by Stacey Rourke

The Gryphon Series
by Stacey Rourke
 YA Fantasy
Anchor Group Publishing
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Embrace the call of destiny with the Award-Winning Gryphon Series written by Stacey Rourke. Fate and sacred calling have landed nineteen-year-old Celeste Garrett in the middle of a demonic war, with nowhere to run. Journey through the chronicles of this Young Adult adventure which includes four full length books, and two bonus novellas:
The Conduit
The Sidekick Chronicles, Vol I
The Sidekick Chronicles, Vol II

RONE Award Winner Young Adult Fantasy 2012
YATR Author of the Year 2012
Turning Pages Magazine Best Teen Read 2013

Book Buzz

“Another fantastic, awesome, laugh-out-loud funny addition to the library of ‘falling in love’ with Stacey Rourke books! It’s different, and a great example of some pre-Twilight era YA Paranormal books, where angst was minimal, family was important and adventures were up front and center.” -InD’Tale Magazine

“Celeste is a well-rounded character and a spunky, sassy protagonist. Though she is a superhero, she commands compassion because she is so human and vulnerable, flawed and weak in spite of super powers. She has the demands of a job, sibling feuds, family issues and the weight of the world on her shoulders.” -IndieReader

RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel
Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012
Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013 
Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Adapted for Film. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head. 

Visit her at
or on Twitter or instagram at Rourkewrites.
Buy Link:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Review: A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

by Frances Hardinge
Amulet Books
Upper MG/YA Fantasy
496 pages

OCTOBER 10th, 2017!!!

Frances Hardinge weaves another darkly extraordinary tale in A Skinful of Shadows, her follow up to the Costa Award-winning novel The Lie Tree

'Hardinge is an unusual talent who deserves to be read by children and adults alike'

This is the story of a bear-hearted girl . . .

Sometimes, when a person dies, their spirit goes looking for somewhere to hide. 
Some people have space within them, perfect for hiding. 

Twelve-year-old Makepeace has learned to defend herself from the ghosts which try to possess her in the night, desperate for refuge, but one day a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard. 

And now there's a spirit inside her. 

The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, and it may be her only defence when she is sent to live with her father's rich and powerful ancestors. There is talk of civil war, and they need people like her to protect their dark and terrible family secret. 

But as she plans her escape and heads out into a country torn apart by war, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession – or death.


I was only given the first chapters of this book and admit that I find it a little difficult to base a review on only a beginning piece of a much larger story.

Makepeace hasn't had the easiest childhood. In attempt to strengthen her against dark forces, her mother forces her to sleep alone in graveyards--a terrifying situation for Makepeace. The day comes when she's sent to live with her father's rich, powerful and mysterious relatives. There, she must hide a bear spirit, which accidentally took home in her heart, from the relatives or face horrible circumstances.

This is a dark story, and the author does an amazing job building up exactly this type of atmosphere. Although never being graphic, the situation borders on brutal and weighs down as if buried under a collapsed stone wall. It's impossible not to feel sorry for Makepeace as she undergoes her mother's efforts to strengthen her, and all along, it's not really clear what her mother is exactly strengthening her against. The negative emotions are raw and hit with just the right among off sting, especially since Makepeace doesn't seem to know how to place what's happening to her really herself.  She's definitely a character that demands sympathy and has the potential to grab the reader and pull at the heart-strings the whole way through. If only her name weren't so unfortunate.

The characters around her draw out strong emotions as well, but in these first chapters, it's by far negative. The mother never instills an ounce of warmth but comes across cold, and Makepeace's relatives make it clear that this isn't going to be a tale of rainbows and happiness. These are characters to hate or, at least, keep a very wary eye on, and these emotions run thick over the pages. In other words, there are tons of things to love in these first pages. Not only are the characters packed full with potential but the writing is a masterful treat.

Despite all of this, these first chapters were muddled. It's not clearly said what Makepeace's mother is strengthening her against, only the circumstances (and blurb) make one assume that it's probably evil spirits of the dead who want to enter Makepeace somehow...or something. But if they want take over her soul, hurt her or whatever is also never spelled out. Makepeace's uniqueness gains more explanation when she enters her father's evil relative's home, but even here, it's never explained said but left to the reader to pull hints and strings together. It was descriptive and did a fantastic job of holding the dismal darkness but it was more like reading in a never breaking fog. Just when there appeared to be a break and what all of this surrounding Makepeace finally was explained (as said, in Chapter 5), the excerpt I was given to read ended.

So what do I make of it?

Hard to say. The emotions and atmosphere are intense and amazing which screams great read, but if the plot and pertinent pieces information continue to be unclear and left as a constant search for hints in a fog --and that for almost 500 pages -- it's definitely a no go for me and won't be an attention grabber for most younger teens, which would be the age group most interested in a 12-year-old character. Still, this could be just the beginning to an amazing read. The first chapters set up the atmosphere amazingly well even if the information isn't clear. If the rest of the plot gets rolling after this and the story unleashes with masterful fury, then this has the potential to be an unforgettable read. But my gut's telling me that this is probably not the case. 500 pages is a hefty read even for young adult audiences and the writing style doesn't suggest clarity will come nor is there really a reason to believe that the pace will pick up soon. So it turns out to be a guessing game--this book could go either way.

Sneak Peek: The Union by T.H. Hernandez with Giveaway

The Union
by T.H. Hernandez
The Union #1
November 18th 2014
YA Dystopian

After global warming and a second civil war devastated the former United States, two different societies rose from the ashes – the Union, a towering high-tech utopia, hugging the perimeter of the continent, and the devastated, untamed midsection known as the Ruins.
Seventeen-year-old Evan Taylor has an easy, privileged life in the Union. What she doesn’t have is any idea what to do with the rest of her life. She only knows she wants to do something meaningful, to make a difference in the lives of others.
When she’s kidnapped and taken into the Ruins as a pawn in a dispute involving her boyfriend, Bryce, her ideal world is turned upside down. What she learns while in the Ruins shakes her faith in everything she’s ever known, from Bryce, to her family, and even the Union itself.
Now Evan must choose whether to stay with Cyrus, the sexy, resourceful survivor who believes she’s in the Ruins for a reason, or return to the only life she’s ever known. But when she stumbles upon a dangerous plot that threatens both worlds, her decision could tear her apart.
The Union is a futuristic young adult romantic adventure.

The complete series:

The Union – book 1 – is only 99¢ for a limited time!


My eyes flutter open to complete darkness, my brain cloudy. My shoulders ache and my arms are numb from sleeping on them. When I try to sit up, the moments before I blacked out come rushing back, filling me with dread.
My hands are tied behind my back, so the best I can do is roll to my side. I strain into the darkness to make sense of my surroundings. I’m inside something that’s moving. It’s too dark to make out anything, so I rely on my ears. A train. But not the L-Train, nor a commuter train. Maybe a cargo. My pulse throbs behind my eyelids and I fight the urge to vomit.
Shit, shit, shit. Tears fill my eyes, but I can’t afford to cry. I need to figure a way out of this mess. Lisa and Colin must have looked for me when I didn’t come back. That only provides small comfort though, since I have no idea where I am or how they’d find me.
None of this makes any sense. The only kidnappings in the Union are due to custody disputes. Maybe Eddie had me kidnapped. Except that’s completely crazy. If he was going to do that, why wait until I’m almost an adult and already on my way to see him?
This must be about money. A ransom or something. That seems so fantastic though, like straight out of a movie. There was that one kid who disappeared a couple of years ago, but it turned out he’d just run away.
Maybe it’s got something to do with my Uncle David. As one of only seven governors, he has an incredible amount of power. Only the Prime Minister has more. Unfortunately, it’s the only thing that makes sense. If I have any hope of surviving, he might have to give them what they want.

And here she is. . .

T.H. Hernandez is the author of young adult books. The Union, a futuristic dystopian adventure, was a finalist in the 2015 San Diego book awards in the Young Adult Fiction category.
She loves pumpkin spice lattes, Game of Thrones, Comic-Con, Star Wars, Doctor Who marathons, Bad Lip Reading videos, and all things young adult, especially the three young adults who share her home.
When not visiting the imaginary worlds inside her head, T.H. Hernandez lives in usually sunny San Diego, California with her husband and three children, a couple of cats, and a dog who thinks he’s a cat, affectionately referred to as “the puppycat.”
You can find her online at