Sunday, June 29, 2014

Book Review: ‘Stolen Dreams’ by Christine Amsden (new adult fiction)


StolenDreams_med-193x300I can’t believe this is the last book in the Cassie Scot new adult paranormal mystery series! I really have enjoyed this series a lot.
If you’re new to the series, I advise you to pick up the books in order:
In this the final installment, talented author Christine Amsden brings the infamous Scot vs. Blackwood family feud to a close, but not without filling her story with enough intrigue, mystery, twists and surprises to keep you thinking about the characters for a long time.
And this is, really, the biggest draw in these stories, the characters, especially Cassie and Evan. Cassie has been such a likable protagonist throughout the series, smart and strong and opinionated, yet caring and warm-hearted. Evan –yes, arrogant, condescending and overprotective Evan — has also been the perfect hero. They were school sweethearts…until Evan’s father stole her powers from her and gave them to Evan, thus starting a conflict between them that brought them to the depths of despair, especially for Cassie.
There are many subplots in this book, but the main problem happens when Cassie’s father is killed and she and her family think that Evan’s dad is the one responsible. The primary storyline has to do with finding out if this is true or not and, if not, then who, in fact, is responsible.
There are many surprises in Stolen Dreams, and I enjoyed all of them. Fans of romance will especially enjoy the focus on Cassie and Evan’s relationship. I loved the ending. In sum, this was a wonderful series, and the author delivered a satisfying closure. I wonder what she will come up next? I’m certainly going to be on the lookout for her future books.
My review was previously published in Blogcritics Magazine. 
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book review: Tanner Builds a Block Tower, by Anita Banks

Tanner Builds a Block Tower is an adorable picture book for ages 3-6 by debut author Anita Banks. It tells the sweet story of a little boy with big dreams:
"I'm going to build a tower. It's going to be bigger than the trees. It will touch the sky."
But as he carries his blocks into the garden and encounters different animals--ants, ladybugs, a chipmunk, a rabbit, and a cat--something unexpected happens and he will have to figure out where all his blocks have gone. Will he get to build his big tower, after all?
Anita Banks has created a charming, totally sweet picture book that will both educate and entertain. Young children will learn about animals and numbers as they follow Tanner on his adventures. The illustrations are lively and colorful and well suit the story. Anita Banks is a name to watch out for!

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Title:  Tanner Builds a Block Tower
Genre:  Children’s Picture Book, ages 3-6  
Author:  Anita Banks
Website:  www.anitabanks.com
Publisher: Wee Creek Press




About the book:  Tanner is determined to build a tower with his blocks. Despite the distractions of the garden’s various animals and losing his blocks on the way, Tanner joyfully shows determination and perseverance.


About the author:  Anita Banks harbored her secret of writing since she was in junior high school where the desire took seed in a creative writing class. She still journaling, reading, running and traveling, but nothing compares to playing with her grandchildren.


Links to your site/blog/FB and Twitter:
@anitambanks

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Review: The Tooth Fairy Trap, by Rachelle Burk

Title: The Tooth Fairy Trap
Author: Rachelle Burk
Illustrator: Amy Moreno
Publisher: Wiggle Room Books
Format: Paperback
Pages: 69
Price: $8.09
Genre: Fantasy chapter book

Book description:

Bluma is a young tooth fairy who is allergic to her own fairy dust. She faces many problems during this night of tooth collecting, but her biggest challenge is Brian's fairy trap. Bluma can succeed in collecting his tooth only with the help of the boy's grouchy hamster, and a few things she has collected through the night. An illustrated chapter book for young readers.

My thoughts...

This is a charming, magical picture book about a super cute tooth fairy and her adventures as she does her duty visiting the various children's homes during the night. Children will be enchanted by the story as our young tooth fairy, Bluma, tries to come up with a clever way to get the tooth from Bradley without falling for his trap. To do so, she must come up with ideas and enlist the help of a furry friend. 

The language is simple, yet playful and lovely. The black & white illustrations by talented artist Amy Moreno complement the book perfectly. The Tooth Fairy Trap is a beautifully written tale that will delight children and adults alike. Highly recommended! 

Find out more on Amazon

Visit the author's website.

Visit the illustrator's website www.tips-fb.com

Thursday, June 19, 2014

On the Spotlight: Anita Banks, Author of 'Tanner Builds a Block Tower'


I'm thrilled to announce the release of debut children's author Anita Banks. Her picture book, Tanner Builds a Block Tower (for ages 3-6) was just published by Wee Creek Press. I had the pleasure of "virtually" meeting Anita when she took my "Walking on a Rainbow" picture book workshop on Savvy Authors two years ago. Major congrats, Anita! 

My review of Tanner Builds a Block Tower coming soon! 

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Title:  Tanner Builds a Block Tower
Genre:  Children’s Picture Book, ages 3-6  
Author:  Anita Banks
Websitewww.anitabanks.com
Publisher: Wee Creek Press




About the book:  Tanner is determined to build a tower with his blocks. Despite the distractions of the garden’s various animals and losing his blocks on the way, Tanner joyfully shows determination and perseverance.


About the author:  Anita Banks harbored her secret of writing since she was in junior high school where the desire took seed in a creative writing class. She still journaling, reading, running and traveling, but nothing compares to playing with her grandchildren.


Links to your site/blog/FB and Twitter:
@anitambanks


www.tips-fb.com

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

#WeNeedDiverseBooks Blog Hob

Hi all,
I was invited by talented Puerto Rican writer Eleanor Parker, author of the upcoming novel, A Decent Woman (Booktrope, summer 2014), to participate in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Blog Hop. Thanks for nominating me, Eleanor!
I hereby answer the questions for the hop:
1) What are you working on?
I’m working on a YA psychological/supernatural thriller set in a convent in the Puerto Rican rain forest in the 1970s.
2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
As human beings  from different cultural backgrounds, environments and upbringing, we all have our own individuality and the potential to bring originality into our work. When we follow our true vision, regardless of what other writers are doing or what is ‘trendy’ at the moment, when we write with passion and honesty, when we go to where the pain is and where the pleasure is, we can create works that are fresh and unique.
3) Why do you write what you do?
Because I cannot not do it. My creative spirit must have an outlet, a channel. In my case, it is writing stories. For others, it is creating a painting or sculpture or music composition. If I weren’t able to write and create my fictional worlds, I would probably be mentally unstable. Where would that rush of creativity go? Suppressed, in what devious ways would it unleash? :-) 
4) How does your writing process work?
It may start with an image, a character, a name, a title. There are no rules, and it’s never the same with every book. Sometimes a single image simmers in my mind for years before it becomes the spark for a story.
Then I mentally play with ideas and the thing that was just an image begins to expand into a web. Simple at first. Then more intricate as I spend more and more time thinking about it. And I think about it. A lot. While driving, walking, taking a shower, doing housework, etc–routine, monotone activities, which are great for creativity. Once I can’t stop thinking about it, once I become obsessed, that’s when I know I’m ready to start jotting down words and sketching a rough plot.
Nowadays, I like to begin ‘discovering’ the story using Alan Watt’s “Unlock the Story Within” techniques. Once I have a more solid idea of the characters and where I want to go with them, my plotting gets tighter and more detailed, but never at the expense of staying flexible and open to change. In fact, what I love most about the writing process are those surprises that I never saw coming.
For plotting, I love Alexandra Sokoloff’s method and Carol Hughes’ Deep Storymethod.
Then, after some anxious procrastination, I try to put my ego aside and sit down and face the blank page. That is never easy. In fact, it is terrifying. Every time. But the need and passion to create is greater, I guess, because finally I just do it.
The plot keeps evolving as I write. I adjust and change things as needed.
I may write like the wind at times, but those moments are rare. Usually, I edit as I write, which slows down my writing process considerably–not to mention that it prevents me from getting in “the zone.”
Rituals and habits work for me. I write best in the mornings. Unless life gets in the way, I’m at my desk Monday-Friday from 9:30 am to noon. I put my timer and go. There’s something about the timer that works for me, as if somehow I’m tricking my brain. Sometimes I listen to an eerie movie soundtrack (for my current YA WIP, I often listen to Interview with a Vampire, among others); other times I need complete silence.
Slow but steady. This pretty much describes my progress. I would love to be one of those writers who can cough up a whole novel in four months, but I’m not–not yet, anyway.
Once I finish the first draft, I spend an agonizing amount of time editing and polishing. My SCBWI critique partners are awesome at pointing out things that I can’t see. Also, I always hire a professional editor before I send my manuscript to my agent. I think a professional editor is a writer’s best investment. I love Deborah Halverson of DearEditor.com. She’s fabulous.
It takes me about two years to fully complete a book that is ready for submission. I’m trying to write faster and cut it down to a year. But it isn’t easy.
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And now…I nominate the following super talented children's author to continue with the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Blog Hop…
Nicole Weaver!
Nicole writes trilingual picture books in English, Spanish and French. Check out her cool blog, Melange of Cultures
www.tips-fb.com

Monday, May 12, 2014

On the Spotlight: 'The Friend Ship Friendesha' by Joe Scott


This promo spotlight is part of a 15-day virtual tour sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center, a showcase for children's book authors and illustrators.

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Title:   The Friend Ship Friendesha  
Genre:    Children's Illustrated books - ages 3 -8
Author:   Joe Scott
Website:   www.friendesha.com
Publisher:   Hillcrest Media Group

About the Book

Meet the Friendeshans, a lovable race of beings who spread friendship and positive energy throughout the galaxy!  In this first book of an inspiring new series, the Friendeshans encounter the Oily Spoilies, creatures that thrive on meanness and negativity.  What will happen when an Oily Spoily spy gets aboard the Friendeshans' ship?!


About the Author

Joe Scott is a contractor and real estate developer who built a thriving enterprise from a truck and a toolbox.  He has negotiated thousands of business deals involving corporate executives, homeowners, bankers, laborers, and union officials.  In addition, he has hired, and been hired by, individuals from every walk of life.  Through these dealings, Joe has learned that all people fall into three types -  givers, takers, and those who both give and take.  Knowing how to recognize and cope with all three types is the key to his success.  In this children's series, he hopes to instill in kids a good foundation for a happy and positive life.  His first book, "The Joe Dial", released in 2011, is age appropriate for those who are 12 to 95 years old.  The Friend Ship Friendesha series is based on the adult book, "The Joe Dial."

Excerpt

Way, way far away, deep in outer space, spun a clean, green planet named Friendesha where all creatures lived together as friends.  This planet was home to the Friendeshans, the happiest beings in the galaxy.  They were bursting with pozzi-power - that's the positive, loving energy inside every living thing.  The Friendeshans had so much pozzi-power they had to give it away!  And so they built a pozzi-powered Friend Ship, the F.S. Friendesha.  The crew of the F.S. Friendesha traveled all around the galaxy, looking for sad and droopy planets that needed just a little bit of extra pozzi-power.  And when they found one, they would go to work.  They'd hide in logs, bogs, and bushes, and whenever they saw a grim or grumpy creature, they'd pop out and give it a "Friendesha" with their glowing, humming wands.  A Friendesha is a special spark that lights up all the pozzi-power that's hiding inside someone.  It can put a grin on the grumpiest grizzle-rat!


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Friday, May 9, 2014

Book Review: 'Beth's Birds,' by Deanna K. Klingel

This book review is part of a 5-day virtual tour sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center, a showcase for children's book authors and illustrators.

Title: Beth’s Birds
Genre: Education, Preschool & Kindergarten, picture
Author: Deanna K. Klingel
Publisher: Peak City Publishing, LLC

Book description
Little Beth romps through her personal playground showing how she learns the proper names and characteristics of her bird friends. Her antics come alive in the delightful illustrations.

My thoughts...

Join our young narrator, little Beth, in a journey of discovery and she describes the birds around her house, from the moment she wakes up to later in the day. First is Jenny Wren, the little brown bird that wakes her up with its bright, cheery song. Then it's the woodpecker who loves to join her when she's having her oatmeal breakfast, and so on throughout the day as she feeds them and even gives them a party. 

Beth's Birds is a charming educational story with gorgeous bird illustrations. The language is simple and very appropriate for young minds. Children will not only learn about the different birds, but also ways to care for them and even how to make them a peanut butter cone. The story brings attention to the beauty of nature and how soothing it can be to interact with it. Recommended!

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About the Author
Deanna lives in the mountains of western North Carolina with her husband Dave and their golden retriever Buddy. Their seven children, spouses and eleven grandchildren are scattered around the southeast. Deanna enjoys traveling with her books and visiting friends and family along the way.

Connect with Deanna on the Web:

@deannakklingel
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