Fantasy Book Review: The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle

The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy

Synopsis:
Prince Liam, Prince Frederic, Prince Duncan, and Prince Gustav, the charming princes from the fairy tales of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose, saved the countryside from an evil witch in The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. And now, they have to save the day again, by keeping a magical object from falling into the hands of power-mad warlords who would use it for evil.

Review:
The Princes are back in another fun-filled adventure in this charming sequel. The heroes and their princesses are based on familiar fairy tales with a fun twist. The characters are unique, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The villains are wicked but silly, and are just as much a source of humor as the heroes. This story is just as rousing and delightful as before. This is an enjoyable and witty fantasy series that I highly recommend for fantasy fans of all ages.

Fantasy Book Review: The Silver Door

The Silver Door by Emily Rodda

Synopsis:
Rye made it through the golden Door and rescued his oldest brother, but his troubles are far from over. The walled city of Weld in which he lives is still under attack by flying beasts called skimmers and Rye must discover who is sending them before it’s too late. Also, his second brother, Sholto, is still missing and Rye can feel that he’s in terrible danger. Rye must choose one of the three Doors that lead out of Weld and venture into the unknown one more time. Will he save Sholto and Weld . . . or will the silver Door be the end of Rye?

Review:
Rye and his companions decide to go after Sholto, assuming he took the silver door. Weld’s leader is just the same as before – naïve and stubborn. So, the group is forced to also try to find a way to save their town from the nocturnal beasts that plague the town.

Rodda’s fantasy world of magic and unique creatures and characters is exciting and captivating. With a bit of humor and plenty of suspense and mystery – this sequel is another fun read for all ages. And as before, it’s impossible to put down. I have high expectations for the third and final installment in this incredible fantasy trilogy.

Fantasy Book Review: Flicker & Burn

Flicker & Burn by T.M. Goeglein

Synopsis:
Sara Jane Rispoli is still searching for her missing family, but instead of fighting off a turncoat uncle and crooked cops, this time she finds herself on the run from creepy beings with red, pulsing eyes and pale white skin chasing her through the streets in ice cream trucks; they can only be described as Ice Cream Creatures. They’re terrifying and hell bent on killing her, but they’re also a link to her family, a clue to where they might be and who has them. While she battles these new pursuers, she’s also discovering more about her own cold fury and more about the Chicago Outfit, how the past misdeeds–old murders and vendettas–might just be connected to her present and the disappearance of her family.

Review:
Sara Jane is now living in a hideout with her best friend, and constantly on the run from whoever owns the ice cream trucks that always seem to be around. Her relationship with Max starts out well, after a long summer of being apart. But he’s soon suspicious of Sara Jane’s secretive nature. Meanwhile, Sara Jane has some unexpected extended family arrive that may help her with her search for whoever has her family.

Flicker & Burn is the sequel to last year’s Cold Fury – part mafia thriller, part urban fantasy. Sara Jane’s adventures are a whirlwind of suspense, mystery, history, and drama. The creatures from the ice cream trucks are bizarre and didn’t seem to fit in the story, but are finally explained towards the end. Fast-paced and action-packed, both the story and characters are engaging and enthralling. I’m hoping the finale lives up to the building suspense and anticipation.

Fantasy Book Review: The Beautiful and the Cursed

The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan

Synopsis:
After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris.

In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures.

And Grayson has gone missing.

No one seems to know of his whereabouts but Luc, a devastatingly handsome servant at their new home.

Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows he’s in grave danger. It will be up to her and Gabby to navigate the twisted path to Grayson, a path that will lead Ingrid on a discovery of dark secrets and otherworldly truths. And she’ll learn that once they are uncovered, they can never again be buried

Review:
Ingrid is a strong and brave young woman. And she’s the only one actively looking for clues into her brother’s disappearance. Her younger sister Gabby is a bit naïve. Morgan’s unique fantasy world of demons and gargoyles is dark and fascinating. And the characters are rich and engaging.

The Beautiful and the Cursed is the first in a powerful new young adult series. This debut is a captivating read full of suspense, drama, and romance. Events culminate to a big, exciting finale that doesn’t disappoint. I look forward to the next in this breathtaking series.

Guest Post: T.M. Goeglein “From Concept to Completion”

From Concept to Completion, or, How a Blink becomes a Book
by T.M. Goeglein

Want to start up a fiction writer like an outboard motor, I mean, really get him babbling about inspiration and motivation, memories and ‘a moment that changed my life’?

As him where his ideas come from. And then put on your spit-guard and stand back.

When I was first asked this question, I strove to be as earnest as possible, walking backward through my mind like a little Sherlock Holmes – did it start here, did it start there? – and after I’d been spewing nonsense for, like, twenty minutes, non-stop, I gave up. The words faded in my mouth like a slowly deflating balloon. I had no real clue what I was going on about.

Since then, I’ve participated in numerous author events and when a fellow writer is asked this question, I peek at my watch and begin planning a nap-with-my-eyes-open. It’s not uncommon for a response to begin with something like, “Well, when I was a child back in Akron…” Oy vey. You might as well start handing out the No-Doze now.

Here’s all that I know about myself. It starts and ends in the length of a blink of an eye.

I see something on the streets of Chicago – a well-dressed old woman yelling at a cop, who seems scared – or read a story in the news about some guy who, while renovating a deserted home, finds a locked metal box hidden inside of a wall – and that’s it. Done. The idea will be planted like a tree and the rest of the forest, so to speak – the story or book – will grow up around it.

The rest of the process is really too dull to describe. I sit, I write, I edit. But in the end, if that blink has become a book, I know I’ve done my job.

T.M. Goeglein’s new novel Flicker & Burn releases August 20, 2013 from Putnam Juvenile.

Sara Jane Rispoli is still searching for her missing family, but instead of fighting off a turncoat uncle and crooked cops, this time she finds herself on the run from creepy beings with red, pulsing eyes and pale white skin chasing her through the streets in ice cream trucks; they can only be described as Ice Cream Creatures. They’re terrifying and hell bent on killing her, but they’re also a link to her family, a clue to where they might be and who has them. While she battles these new pursuers, she’s also discovering more about her own cold fury and more about the Chicago Outfit, how the past misdeeds–old murders and vendettas–might just be connected to her present and the disappearance of her family. But connecting the dots is tough and time-consuming and may finally be the undoing of her relationship with the handsome Max–who’s now her boyfriend. But for his own safety, Sara Jane may have to end this relationship before it even really starts. Her pursuers who’ve shown her her mother’s amputated finger and the head of the Chicago Outfit who’s just whistled her in for a sit-down make a romance unthinkable. The only thing that matters is finding her family and keeping everyone she loves alive.

Book Giveaway: Lexicon

Courtesy of Penguin Press, I have a copy of Lexicon by Max Barry for five (5) lucky winners!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends July 19. I’ll draw names on July 20, and notify winners via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Max created a quiz based on the book – find out which poet you are: http://www.maxbarry.com/lexicon-quiz/

About the book:
At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren’t taught history, geography, or mathematics—at least not in the usual ways. Instead, they are taught to persuade. Here the art of coercion has been raised to a science. Students harness the hidden power of language to manipulate the mind and learn to break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. The very best will graduate as “poets”: adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive.

Whip-smart orphan Emily Ruff is making a living running a three-card Monte game on the streets of San Francisco when she attracts the attention of the organization’s recruiters. She is flown across the country for the school’s strange and rigorous entrance exams, where, once admitted, she will be taught the fundamentals of persuasion by Brontë, Eliot, and Lowell—who have adopted the names of famous poets to conceal their true identities. For in the organization, nothing is more dangerous than revealing who you are: Poets must never expose their feelings lest they be manipulated. Emily becomes the school’s most talented prodigy until she makes a catastrophic mistake: She falls in love.

Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent man named Wil Jamieson is brutally ambushed by two strange men in an airport bathroom. Although he has no recollection of anything they claim he’s done, it turns out Wil is the key to a secret war between rival factions of poets and is quickly caught in their increasingly deadly crossfire. Pursued relentlessly by people with powers he can barely comprehend and protected by the very man who first attacked him, Wil discovers that everything he thought he knew about his past was fiction. In order to survive, must journey to the toxically decimated tow nof Broken Hill, Australia, to discover who he is and why an entire town was blown off the map.

As the two narratives converge, the shocking work of the poets is fully revealed, the body count rises, and the world crashes toward a Tower of Babel event which would leave all language meaningless. Max Barry’s most spellbinding and ambitious novel yet, Lexicon is a brilliant thriller that explores language, power, identity, and our capacity to love—whatever the cost.

Read moreBook Giveaway: Lexicon

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