Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Review: The Snake Who Baked A Cake by Afrough S. Hough



THE SNAKE WHO BAKED A CAKE
by Afrough S. Hough
Illustrated by S. Goodway
Clink Street Publishing
Picture Book
13 pages





This is the story of a Snake who decided to bake a big cake.




MY TIDBITS

Introduced with bright illustrations, this is a snake which truly belongs in the kitchen.

Jake's hungry. So he bakes a cake! And what an adventure that is.

This is not a long story but stays compact within just a few pages. But that doesn't mean that there's a reduction in fun. Jake's a bright, beautiful snake and his love for baking spills off of every page. Each step of the backing process is hit upon as this snake swirls together flour and all sorts of delicious things. It's fun to follow his antics and puts a smile on the face.

The illustrations are bright and demand attention. The squiggly flow of the writing makes it clear that this is a slithery read. It's a lot of fun to look at and read. It could be a bit longer, and allowed the illustrations to draw out larger and over more pages, but it's entertaining either way. The last picture hits with a sudden jolt and it seemed as if a little more was missing for the end.

This is a book which will make young listeners smile and definitely call forth the desire to bake.





All About the Authors. . .

Sisters Sara and Simin’s childhood was influenced by a variety of stories from Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to The Adventures of Tintin.

Their grandmother also played a prominent role in their childhood. Sara and Simin have fond memories of visiting their Grandmother as children. One of which was helping her produce her cherry jam, a speciality that was made every year. 
The sisters would also lend a hand to their Grandmother when she baked. They would then sit around and indulge in the bake while their Grandmother would share mythical tales, that served as analogies for moral reasoning.

Today, Sara lives in London while Simin lives in Liverpool with her husband and children.  Sara recently gained a PhD in Biological Sciences at Oxford University and looks to pursue a career in research.  Simin studied law and is pursuing a career as a commercial property lawyer.

After giving birth to Darius, Simin wanted to share stories and adventures to her son through books. A pilot baby book club had started a couple of months after Darius was born and despite, some would argue that he was too young, Simin wanted to take him to it. It was there that she was re-introduced to children’s stories. However, this time from a different perspective, as the storyteller.  Simin fell in love how a storyteller would engage and communicate with their audience. As her son grew older, Simin noticed how he would add his own creative twists to stories. 

In writing their own children’s book, the sisters wanted a fun, colourful book with an element of everyday life that was interactive, baking in this instance.

The main character, Jake, was inspired by the California Red-Sided Garter Snake due to its vibrant colours. The sisters were drawn to a snake being the main charter, a limbless reptile yet long enough to be able to grasp objects by circling its body around them.

The text from the book is presented in a wavy pattern resembling a snake’s movement. A few of the words throughout the book have effects aimed at conveying their meanings visually to young readers.

The authors also wanted to have a black and white object running throughout the book. This was in consideration any children under the age of one and their inability to differentiate between similar toned colours.


The sisters’ aim for the book is not only to encourage bedtime reading but also to share invaluable experiences in the kitchen between generations.



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Cover Reveal: Boomerang Boyfriend by Chris Cannon with Giveaway

Title: Boomerang Boyfriend
Author: Chris Cannon
Genre: YA RomCom, Sweet Romance
Publication Date: Sept. 11th, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb:
Working with her best friend’s brother at Betty’s Burgers, free-spirited Delia starts to see Jack in a new light. Not only has Jack-the-Jerk turned into a hottie, he’s even acting like a nice guy, who rescues dogs and knows how she likes her coffee. But if Jack is into her, then why is he keeping her a secret? Of course, if her best friend doesn’t approve, Delia could lose the only family she’s ever known.
Seeing Delia in her retro waitress uniform throws Jack’s world out of whack. She’s always been just another pain in the butt little sister…not a datable female. But she’s rockin’ the Pie Princess tiara, and even her hot-pink striped hair is sexy. What’s that about? He needs to get his head on straight, because artsy, funky Delia and her nonconformist ways don’t fit in his safe and ordered world.
Chris Cannon is the award-winning author of the Going Down In Flames series and the Boyfriend Chronicles. She lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and several furry beasts.
She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures or romantic comedies. You can find her online at www.chriscannonauthor.com.
Author Links:
Buy Links:
Blackmail Boyfriend: http://amzn.to/2ilitK3
The Boyfriend Bet: http://amzn.to/2ikJ75y
Boomerang Boyfriend (Pre-Order): http://amzn.to/2vXaSnW
  

Monday, August 21, 2017

Review: Elemental Lies by Elle Middaugh with Giveaway





ELEMENTAL LIES

by Elle Middaugh
The Essential Elements, #2
July 24th 2017
YA Fantasy






Valerie Moore is an Elemental, a person who commands one of the classical elements of wind, water, fire, or earth. She’s special, though. She controls two—fire and water—though sometimes it seems like they control her.
After the accidental exposure of Elementals to humanity, Valerie finds herself—and all of her kind—struggling to attain equality. Three different groups fight to secure leadership, and with all of their hidden agendas, she doesn’t know which side to choose. The balance between peaceful cohabitation and all-out war is precarious, at best.
When a chance meeting brings Val and earth Elemental Cade Landston back together, everything changes. She realizes what she knew in the beginning—that he’s the one she wants. Her desire to win him over draws her closer to him, and his vengeful mission to hunt down her murderous grandfather brings them both closer to trouble.
From mysterious doppelgangers to reckless rescue missions, scapegoat bombings, and evolving Elemental powers, Valerie strains to keep up.
All she knows is she must stop her grandfather at all costs. To do so, she has to figure out the truth, but how can she do so when almost everyone she knows has been telling lies?


MY TIDBITS

Struggles from many different sides make this a read full of unexpected twists and turns.

The world has changed. Now, each group of Elementals is fighting to find their place and all have their own secret plans to gain power. Valerie is caught up in between, not sure which side she should join. But one thing is clear, she needs to set aside all differences and take the help of her comrades to stop a much greater evil.

There's a lot going on in these pages, and it's a lovely play of shades of gray with only one very dark spot of evil. Layers of intrigue build up around every bend, making it difficult to decipher what plans for power lay where. It's the way Valerie and her group fight past all of this to pull together and fight off the one thing that can destroy them all, which makes this an interesting and grabbing read. The pace stays high the whole way through with tons of action and surprises. 

The characters, at least many of them, have quite a bit of depth and are more than they seem to be. They made this a very interesting read. Valerie on the other hand, was hard to grasp at times. While she usually came across as a wonderful heroine to root for, sometimes her decisions and the way she handled others was simply frustrating and made her hard to like. The constant tide changes in romance interests wasn't really my thing, but it didn't jerk out of the plot either.

All in all, this is an entertaining read which promises to keep the reader pinned to the pages the whole way through. 



Sequel to:

And here she is. . .
Elle Middaugh lives in the Allegheny Mountains outside of Clearfield, Pennsylvania, with her wonderful husband and three beautiful children. Most of her time is spent raising kids, writing stories, playing video games, reading, and attempting to keep a clean house.
She’s a proud Navy wife, a frazzle-brained mother, a fan of health and fitness, a lover of hot tea and iced tea, and a believer in happily ever afters. 


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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Review: The Long-Lost Secret Diary of the World's Worst Pirate by Tim Collins


THE LONG-LOST SECRET DIARY OF THE WORLD'S WORST PIRATE
The Long-Lost Secret Diary
by Tim Collins
North Star Editions Jolly Fish Press
Middle Grade Adventure
218 pages

COMING. . .
SEPTEMBER 18th!!!

Meet Thomas—a young man sailing with his parents aboard a merchant ship in the 18th century and prone to daydreaming about living an exciting life as a pirate on the high seas. When a pirate crew led by Captain Bartholomew Morgan takes over the ship, Thomas stows away and is accepted into their motley gang. However, life as a pirate proves far less romantic than what he was expecting. The hilarious Long Lost Secret Diary series put readers inside the heads of hapless figures from history struggling to carry out their roles and getting things horribly wrong. The accessible, irreverent stories will keep young readers laughing as they learn the importance of not being afraid to learn from one’s mistakes. 



MY TIDBITS

With the rawness of the sea, this book attacks the life of pirates and adventure but with a tidal wave of reality which has romantic idealism walking the plank.

Thomas is sailing across the sea with his parents to their new home, but the merchant ship is not nearly as exciting as a pirate ship would be. When Thomas spots a ship on the horizon, the adventure begins. Convinced the pirate life is the life for him, Thomas manages to become part of the crew, but soon he learns that pirating isn't nearly as neat as he thought it'd be.

Written in diary style, Thomas recounts his adventure of entering pirate life, not the life portrayed in myth and fantasy, but a harsh, more historical version. Thomas isn't a hero, and he isn't overly coordinated or intelligent. He's just a kid, who has to somehow make it through one of the biggest mistakes he could ever make. His reactions are hilarious, his decisions sometimes faulty, but he has determination and learns his lesson well.

For readers interested in the history of pirates, this book is a chest of gold. The situation, events and surroundings are not romanticized but hit with a dose of daily life...the kind that isn't easy or grand. Thomas faces true troubles and pirates who really aren't secretly moral or friendly. Some things are funny, others are simply harsh (such as an amputation with a saw). As an extra bonus, there are information breaks, which explain real historical facts along the way. All of this is rolled into a quirky adventure, which keeps the story rolling, and a character whose mishaps guarantee chuckles despite the more serious aspects. The book, however, is not written in a historical style, but the narration and characters keep the modern day vocabulary and style, making it an easy read for kids.

While the diary style lets the true life come through clearly and lets the humor shine, it is very narrative and leaves Thomas at arm's length. The tale lacks the personal touch, making it hard to slide into Thomas's shoes and truly worry about him. His lack of concern for his family is also surprising. Not only is Thomas a little flat, but the narrative form, especially in the first chapters, doesn't pull into the action as much as it could. Still, kids who love pirates are sure to enjoy this read. The information is rich and the added humor make it easy to digest. The modern writing style is actually an extra bonus and insures that even more reluctant reading pirate fans will happily dive into these pages.


Sneak Peek: Masked by J.D. Wright with Giveaway





Masked 
by J.D. Wright
Superheroes Undercover, #1
 Limitless Publishing
August 15th 2017
YA Paranormal, Superheroes






Vada’s To-Do List:

– Turn 18 (check!)
– Register super name
– Order supersuit
– Attend superhero indoctrination
– Graduate high school
– Start kicking criminal tail

Vada Lawson can’t wait to be a superhero. Born into a family with special powers, she’s been training to fight criminals and villains her whole life. But her indoctrination into the underground super community is derailed when normals start breaking out in superpowers themselves.
Not trained to control their new abilities, the normals are frightened and vulnerable. Then their mutilated corpses begin turning up all over town. What the heck?
Somehow, with the help—and hindrance—of an annoying newly-minted super named Orion, Vada has to stop the chaos before it destroys her and everything she holds dear…and ruins her superhero debut.




EXCERPT

Nick couldn’t take it anymore.
The entire morning had been one shock to his system after another. The nice long weekend in his giant but silent house had made him all but forget about the weird run-in with Janet. He’d spent the entire time working on his homework and enjoying the peace and quiet.
But after only five minutes at school, he was rudely reminded that he must be losing his mind. The voices came like a whirlwind into his head, one after another. So many that he couldn’t decipher whose thoughts belonged to who. He couldn’t even separate his own thoughts from the others. There were so many, and every one of them was as loud as the other, washing over him like waves of pounding noise.
Being in class gave no relief, either. The other students may not have been talking aloud, but every one of them was thinking, loudly. Nick heard too many things that he never wanted to hear and a lot of mundane thoughts that no one cares about.
…I wonder if I forgot to lock the door this morning…
…Oh, man. I’m not sure if I’m ready to do this. What if I get pregnant? But Luke is so cute, though…
…Mrs. Yates has such nice tits…
Nick actually agreed with that last sentiment, but he couldn’t be sure who had said it.
…Only thirty minutes left. I really need to pee…
…Nick is too good for Scarlet. What does he see in her? She’s such a bitch…
…This class is about as useless as my stepmother…
There was just so much noise. Nick pulled his hood up, but it did nothing to block the sounds. Every single thought that crossed someone else’s mind entered his. He didn’t give a damn about someone’s new pet lizard. And while he appreciated the girl across from him’s glances and thoughts of admiration—at least, he was pretty sure those belonged to her from the way she watched him—he didn’t want to know what other people were thinking.
What had caused this? Was it some sort of mental illness? Was he imagining these things? He couldn’t be sure he was even hearing real thoughts. He considered quizzing someone, but he was almost too afraid to confirm what he suspected.
He was reading people’s minds. Hearing their thoughts. Without even trying.
And it was excruciating.



And here she is. . .

J.D. Wright is a military wife, mother of four, and author of paranormal and fantasy romance books filled with strong-willed heroines, swoon-worthy heroes, and sprinkled with humor and adventure. J.D. creates artistry in many ways, as a baker and cake artist by day and author by night. You can usually find her typing away at the computer or covered in frosting.
Since discovering she has a knack for writing, J.D. has so far written and self-published eight books of the Everealm and Songs of Everealm Series and is now venturing into the world of paranormal with her new superhero-themed series. She is an avid reader and lover of all things romance so she always includes a good love story in her paranormal and fantasy novels. 


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Friday, August 18, 2017

Review: Spellhaven by Sandra Unerman


The Unseen Spirits must be entertained, so that the city may prosper......


SPELLHAVEN
by Sandra Unerman
Fantasy, Adventure
August 17, 2017
Mirror World Publishing
In the summer of 1914, Jane Fairchild, a young English musician, is kidnapped by magic and sent to Spellhaven, an island city ruled by magicians. Here, peace and prosperity are maintained with the assistance of Unseen Spirits bound to the service of the Lords Magician. The Spirits must be kept in good humour by the performance of all kinds of shows, dance, drama and music. Jane is one of many people kidnapped from the outside world and forced to contribute to these entertainments for a set period of service.

Only Jane is having none of it. She will not perform for her kidnapper, Lucian Palafox, but agrees to undertake an apprenticeship with another magician impresario, provided she is taught magic in return. Jane's forays into magic lead her deeper within the mysteries of Spellhaven, her rivalry with Lucian escalates and the quarrels between them grow strong enough to shake the city to its foundations.


Follow the tour to read guest posts, reviews, and exclusive excerpts!
https://saphsbookpromotions.blogspot.com/2017/08/book-tour-schedule-spellhaven-by-sandra.html



MY TIDBITS

(Note: This starts with a normal YA read style, characterization and plot, although Jane matures in the last chapters.)

This magical world lures in and adds exciting twists and tension with every turn.

After completing a musical performance, Jane is approached by a strange man who insists she play a solo performance for him. She declines and finds herself put under a spell, which makes her feet act on their own and lead her to a magical island, Spellhaven. There, the magicians perform shows to keep the demons entertained so that they can continue to live, using their own magical powers. But Spellhaven holds many mysteries, some which should never be uncovered. But Jane does and now, she has to deal with the consequences.

The first chapters opened with a wonderful scene of Jane and her love for music, and it immediately takes off with tension as she finds herself under a compelling spell. Although it was easy to feel for Jane's plight from the first moments, the beginning scenes felt a little rushed and jumbled as there was no time to first settle into Jane's circumstances or surroundings. But after this beginning stumble, the story opens up into a fantastical world and plot.

The writing is gentle yet gripping. The world and scenes unfold with carefully placed details, letting the surroundings gain depth and feel. It's a fantastic island to visit, making it hard to want to leave. Which is important not only for the world-building but for the plot.

There is a lot of light-hearted fun and dreams built into the tale, letting imagination take flight. This throws a great contrast to the darker shadows and secrets Jane faces. But it's much like her own character. She's determined, has a golden heart and is easily liked, but on the same hand, her personality as its own deeper sharp edges and flaws. Some of her decisions leave a sour taste, but she's still a heroine to forgive and cheer on. Even those around her dance on a grey border as their actions and decisions waver from good to evil and back again. It makes for more realistic personalities and keeps the reader guessing the whole way through. 

Tension and mystery keep up a steady-pace and make it hard to set the book down. The plot held many surprising twists and kept a logical thread going even with fantastical turns. With a sudden switch in atmosphere, the last chapters take on a different tone and pace from the rest of the novel. The relationship between Jane and her hero rushes to pass time and loses the chemistry which made the rest of the book so interesting. It made the last chapters less grabbing and dulled even Jane's character a little. Although, the ending did pull it back together and close it off to form a satisfying read.


EXCERPT

Jane Fairchild lowered the flute from her mouth and curtseyed to the audience scattered around the lawn. She could not help smiling at their cheers, even as Toby Scott, the leader of their consort, bent down towards her and muttered, ‘You weren’t supposed to play that. You promised to behave.’

They had played one solo each, as agreed, but Jane had abandoned the Gounod she had rehearsed for some variations of her own on a nameless tune from her childhood. Toby despised that kind of music making and none of the others cared for it much. Jane had meant to be well-behaved this evening, when they wanted to impress Lady Waverley and her guests. The consort, music students in their final year, had been invited to play at this garden party in July chiefly because the Waverleys’ son had been at school with Toby, but their guests were likely to include several potential patrons and aficionados who might help them in their fledgling careers. The year was 1914.

The trouble was, as Jane had looked round in the deep evening light, she had felt a need to stir up the audience. They stood in little clusters under the trees or on the paths in the rose garden and listened politely between sips of champagne, but they were not properly engaged with the music. Most of them were young and busy flirting by whisper or touch, or staid and on the edge of somnolence. At least Jane had caught their attention and made some of them laugh.

She shook her head at Toby while she put her flute away and did not answer him. Now that they had finished their set, people were quick to surround the musicians and compliment them, and she was able to dodge round him without a fuss. She was thirsty, so she headed towards the refreshments promised earlier. She doubted champagne would be provided for the musicians but lemonade would be more welcome in any case.

A stranger stepped in front of her, a young man, dark and thin. ‘That last piece was the real stuff. Couldn’t you strangle your First Violin with his own strings and play some more of it?’ he said.

‘Good evening, Mr.…?’ Jane said.

The stranger inclined his head. ‘Lucian Hunter, at your service.’ There was a glint in his eye, as though at a joke he did not expect other people to understand.

‘Mr. Scott is a very fine musician and a friend of mine.’

‘But deadening. You ought to quarrel with him and strike out on your own.’

Jane drew breath to argue and then decided not to explain herself to this person, whoever he was.

‘I don’t think so,’ she said. ‘Excuse me, I should go and find Lady Waverley.’

‘Wait!’ Hunter’s voice was not loud but compelling. He spoke clear English but with the shadow of an accent Jane could not place. ‘I have something else to ask you. Will you meet me next week and play for me?’

‘I’m afraid not.’

‘I could pay you for some lessons. Surely you take pupils?’

Not arrogant young men, Jane thought. ‘It really isn’t possible,’ she said, and turned away.

She felt a hand on her arm and swung back to glare at Hunter. He dropped his clasp at once but he said, ‘You’ll regret it if you don’t. It’s the music I want, you know.’

‘Not from me. Or from anyone else I know if you lay a finger on me again.’

His smile was swift and infuriating.

‘I don’t need to, now,’ he said and turned away.

Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing eBook:  

Mirror World Publishing Paperback:

Amazon US:  
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/spellhaven-sandra-unerman/1126613810?ean=9781987976342


And here she is. . .


Sandra Unerman lives in London in the UK. When she retired from a career as a Government lawyer, she undertook an MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University, specialising in SF and fantasy, and graduated in 2013. Since then, she has had a number of short stories published. In 2016, these included stories in Three Drops from a Cauldron, the Midwinter issue and Aurora Wolf, the September issue, both available online. She writes reviews and articles for the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society. She is a member of London Clockhouse writers and other writing groups. Her interests include history, folklore and medieval literature.

Connect with Sandra :

Website:
https://sandraunermanwriter.com/

Amazon Author Page:
https://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Unerman/e/B0034NS9VM

Goodreads Author Page:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6566116.Sandra_Unerman

Goodreads Book Page:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cover Reveal: Journey from Skioria by Kandi J Wyatt with Giveaway


Journey from Skioria


Journey from Skioria

by Kandi J Wyatt
Middle Grade Fantasy


Cover is designed by Yosbe Design and Leo Illustrations.


COMING. . .
SEPTEMBER 5th, 2017!!!




Tania is lost, shipwrecked on an unfamiliar shore. With no friends or family, the nine-year-old girl must make her way through the realm of the woodland people to a town she's never heard of. With unexpected allies from the forest, Tania departs on a wild adventure where storms rage and the forces of nature do their very best to end her journey before it has truly begun.

In a land full of magic and evil forces, can one young girl make it home alive?

Lord of the Rings meets Narnia in this standalone middle grade fantasy by author Kandi J Wyatt.


You can find Journey from Skioria on Goodreads

You can pre-order Journey From Skioria here:
- Amazon
- B&N
- iTunes

Check out these teaser images:

Teaser-Adventure-Skioria


Teaser-Moon-Skioria


Teaser-Song-Skioria




Kandi J WyattAnd here she is. . .

Kandi J Wyatt is a wife, mother of five, teacher, artist, and author. In her free time, she enjoys writing fantasy stories and Christmas programs, and drawing with graphite and colored pencils. Portraits are her specialty. Kandi also enjoys photography, thanks to her photographer husband who has let her join his journey as both his model and apprentice, and she occasionally serves as his assistant when he needs a “light stand with feet.”

You can find and contact Kandi J Wyatt here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Pinterest
- Instagram
- Google+
- Amazon
- Goodreads


This cover reveal is organized by Lola's Blog Tours.


GIVEAWAY!!!

There is a cover reveal wide giveaway for the cover reveal of Journey from Skioria. One winner will win an e-Arc of Journey from Skioria.

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