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Dining and Driving with Cats – Alice Unplugged

Dining and Driving with Cats - Alice Unplugged

Dining and Driving with Cats – Alice Unplugged by Pat Paterson tells the story of Patterson and his wife, Alice, driving from the Mexican border to Atlanta, Georgia, with their two cats, Munchie and Tuffy. Along the way they use the opportunity to sample as much as they can from their pre-researched food-stops. The book will take you on a journey as they try countless dishes, meet unexpected people and attempt to tame their two beloved cats – who, there is no doubt, are definitely in charge.

While reading the book, Pat and Alice’s Honda Fit feels somewhat like home – you can almost feel yourself squished into the back with the two cats roaming around, as the two of them drive to their next destination. The tone is always kept light, making this an easy read and giving the reader a sense of comfort. While there are many descriptions of the food they eat and the antics of their two cats, the real theme in this novel is storytelling.

Patterson’s goal is to use their long trek to Georgia to tell stories along the way. The stories of the people they meet are interesting to a point, but you do find yourself feeling slightly removed as there is no real tie to them.

The best stories told are the ones about Pat and Alice; how they met and eventually fell in love. Not only does this insight make the reader feel more connected to them, but the stories themselves are sweet and witty and good enough material to be made into a Hollywood romance.

The best thing about the whole book is definitely Alice. I almost want to call her a ‘character’ of the book because that’s what she feels like. Her smarts and determination, coupled with her calm composure and uncanny ability to cajole the cats to bend to her will, makes her seem almost too good to be true. She seems the type of person who, if you were married to them, you would want to write about.

The only down side to the novel is the actual travel aspects. While mildly interesting to start with, it becomes slightly mundane, and all the descriptions of the food they eat becomes repetitive – it can’t all be as delicious as described, surely? However, this may just be because the Alice and Pat stories are so good that it leaves you craving more. The food is unimportant; you just want to hear about Alice and Pat!

Overall this is an enjoyable read, and the way the stories of the couple are intertwined with them visiting familiar places, is expertly done. The cats are sweet and their antics add an entertaining element. This is a great book for storytelling and memories, and will leave you feeling sentimental and warm and fuzzy inside.

Pages: 260 | ASIN: B06XD7XGGH

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Her Forever Home

Rolynda Tassan Author Interview

Rolynda Tassan Author Interview

Lucy Finds a Home is a short and sweet tale featuring an adorable grey kitten that gets lost and searches for its place in the world. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this lovely children’s story?

Writing has always been a passion of mine. Lucy Finds a Home, came to life for me when my husband and I were enjoying a long weekend in the mountains of WV. One afternoon, while hiking through the mountains (getting my steps in:)) I saw twin fawns, several squirrels, many trout in the river, and even a turtle! That walk inspired me to write about a kitten, we found abandoned earlier that year, and her adventures searching for her forever home.

I love the book’s underlying ideas of perseverance and trying new things. What were some morals you felt were important for this book?

Thank you, I think it is important for children to know that not everything we do works out as planned. But that does not mean we failed. It means we have an opportunity to learn…..it means we have an opportunity to try again. In Lucy’s adventure she finds herself in many situations that don’t work out as she planned.  But this gives her the opportunity to make new friends and learn how they live. Accepting them for who they are, but knowing that she has to be herself, she moves on until eventually she finds her forever home. If she had given up she would have missed out on all of that.

The art in this book is very cute. How did the art develop and what decisions went into picking the right scenes?

I have to give this credit to the illustrator, Bryce Westervelt. He has written and illustrated many books, and I have been a fan of his work for years. His pictures are crisp, simple, and clean. I love that! I sent him the manuscript for Lucy Finds a Home and was thrilled when he said he would be interested in illustrating the book. Since Lucy Finds a Home is a first reader, I wanted pictures that enhanced the story, but did not necessarily tell the story. I sent Bryce some pictures of the “real” Lucy. He was able to capture her look and highlight each scenes primary focus with cute vibrant pictures. When he sent me the preliminary drawings, they were exactly what I wanted. Bryce took it from there and brought the book to life!

What is the next book that you are working on?

Lucy Finds a Home is the first book in the Lucy’s Tale series. The second book, Lucy meets the family is in the works! You can expect Lucy to get herself into some predicaments as she adjust to her new family!

Author Links: Website | GoodReads | Facebook

Lucy Finds a Home (Lucy's Tale #1)“Lost in the woods, Lucy meets a fawn, squirrels, a turtle, and even a trout who all invite her to stay with them. But a kitten can’t eat acorns or live in a river. What Lucy wants most of all is a family to call her own.”

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Lucy Finds a Home

Lucy Finds a Home (Lucy's Tale #1)5 Stars

Lucy Finds a Home by Rolynda Tassan features an adorable little grey kitten who got lost in the forest after climbing out of the basket she shared with her siblings. It is a short and sweet tale about a lost animal searching for it’s place in the world, and comes across many different animals and struggles as it looks for a family and a home to call it’s own. It rings true to classic children’s stories that revolve around discovery and identifying animals, and the kitten Lucy goes through a series of emotions as she tries to find a family with the forest creatures.

This book is good for children because you can show them that hard-work will always bring in good results. Most children books have simple meaning to them, and the story about Lucy is the same. You can teach a lot of different easy to understand life lessons by following Lucy’s quest for finding a home in the world. When the story begins, Lucy is in a basket with her other siblings, and the picture shows that the kittens are free and available to be taken in by a good home. Of course Lucy doesn’t read the sign, and wanders off to go explore.

In her exploration, Lucy comes across animals like turtles and deer, whom all welcome her into their lives. Unfortunately, Lucy finds out that she doesn’t quite belong with the woodland animals as she tries out their different food and living situations. This can be a great way to help children learn more about animals and their habitats, while also encouraging them to be brave and try new things.

The plot of the book is centered around the lost kitten Lucy and her struggles to find a home. You can get your children involved with the storytelling by asking them who they think Lucy should live with and why. As the story gets closer to the end, Lucy has to deal with scary parts of the adventure like a rushing river and losing her dry place to sleep. Remind your children to be brave, just like Lucy was in the story!

This is an adorable, sweet little book that children will love. I liked the adventures that Lucy went on, and how it showed she wasn’t afraid to try new things, but was also brave enough to admit when something didn’t work out. My favorite thing about the story, and that I hope to see featured in the rest of the line of books that Lucy will be featured in, is that she never gave up. This is a great thing to see in children’s books, and as a mom personally, I’m always encouraging my kids to stay strong. Having a kitten like Lucy to remind them of when times get tough is a great thing, and I love that it is shown here!

Pages: 28 | ISBN: 0998331805

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Quite a Character

 Werner Stejskal Author Interview

Werner Stejskal Author Interview

Oliver and Jumpy is book 4 in your children’s series that follows playful characters as they go on various adventures. Why was it important for you to create a children’s story that focused on kindness, friendship and helping others?

Many picture books have lessons to tell, but can be very obvious. Children don’t really like to be told what to do. A good example is always better and Oliver, although he is quite a character, shows that you can have fun and adventure, and at the same time do good.

The art in this book is wonderful. What was the collaboration like with the illustrators?

I thought a long time about which quality of illustrations I should pursue. I did not want to go cheap with dots for eyes figures. I would have loved to follow the very complex pictures of the fairy-tales books of 100 years ago. Unfortunately, being self-financed, this option would have been far too expensive. I grew up with Walt Disney and decided to follow that style, which is easy enough for most illustrators to create, but with facial expressions possible. I tried out six illustrators. The first one, Marvin Alonso, was outstanding. He did illustrations to about eleven of the stories before finding greener pastures. Then I found Maycee Ann Reyes who works together with her husband. The rest is history. This team was simply fabulous. They needed a minimum of supervision and created the scenes of the stories totally by themselves. I just provided the story and simple instructions. Maycee turned out a picture every 3-4 days. These series has about 500 illustrations. Oliver and Jumpy began 4 years ago and it was a herculean task which is now finished. This is a triumph of self-publishing. No run-of-the-mill publisher would have been able to produce such an elaborate work in that time.

My favorite story is Butterfly Trouble. What is your favorite story in this book and in the series?

I like the Dog story. I wrote this story because every time we have our daily walk through the neighborhood, there is a bored dog barking and my wife is saying that we should knock on the door and see if we can take him for a walk with us. My favorite story of the series is Story 18 called Moon Crystal. Oliver travels to the moon to bring healing crystals back to Sillandia. This book won the Readers Favorite Book Award Gold Medal.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be available?

I have been working and finished the Chinese and Spanish version of the series. I am now working on the German one and other languages will follow. My final goal will be to find a company who is willing to invest in a TV series. I would like to see children all around the world to benefit of the marvelous work of my illustrators.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Google | Website | LinkedIn | Amazon

Oliver and Jumpy - the Cat Series, Stories 10-12, Book 4: Bedtime stories for children in illustrated picture book with short stories for early readers. (Oliver and Jumpy, the cat Series) by [Stejskal, Werner]

Picture book: A cat series book for kids riddled with mystery and fantasy.

Oliver is an elegant tuxedo cat, who is full of himself. As a matter of fact he says: “I love myself!”, quite often. Naughty, isn’t he? But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that he has a soft heart and will always want to help others. The great thing is Jumpy’s pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in! He calls her his kangaroo taxi! These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids. A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words. These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value. Love you all! Meow! Story 10: Unhappy Dog – The friends help an unhappy dog to escape his boredom. Story 11: Kite High – Flying high is everybody’s dream, but how to get down? Story 12: Butterfly Trouble – Butterflies don’t like to be caught. Buy Now From Amazon.com

Our Pets Transmogrified

Terry Tumbler Author Interview

Terry Tumbler Author Interview

The Inlooker follows Thomas as his life changes when his daughter’s cat dies and he realizes that the dead cat’s soul inhabits the body of another cat in the house. This is one of the most unique story setups I’ve read in a long time. How did this idea develop into a story for you?

It is an event that actually happened. We had three cats at the time, each of which died in quick succession and had a unique personality, unlike those of the others. It was a wonder to behold, as each of our pets transmogrified into another way of behaving, which only lasted a couple of days before reverting to the original personality. That was over 30 years ago, but it led me to believe that animals possess spirits like we do.

Thomas works to enhance his powers, not just reading souls and manipulating his own, but taking control of other people. What was the biggest challenge you faced in developing the character along with his powers?

Dispassionate research was needed into reincarnation, spiritualism, poltergeist activity and the possibilities of bodily possession by others. I could not even begin to start this monumental task until retirement. The most profound findings were actually in reincarnation, where much evidence exists and has been documented, especially involving children.

I enjoyed the narrators voice, it’s humorous, dark, clear, and ironic. Was this an intentional part of the story or just a facet of your natural writing style?

It was deliberate and based on the style of an old-time English actor called George Saunders. I can’t honestly say if it reflects my style in general. There’s a touch of Terry Pratchett in there too, plus the zaniness of P.G.Wodehouse.

What is the next story you are working on and when will that book be available?

I’ve recently issued The Sightseers Agency and am working on another in the Sci-Fi vein that will be ready by June 2017. All my books are near-future speculative and most of the contents are based on what is possible in key areas of science.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website | GoodReads | Blogspot

The Inlooker: Full LengthThe magical World of Science Fiction is dominated by stories about individuals with outlandish costumes, fantastical skills and superior strength. They compete energetically for attention, and capture our imagination in the most unbelievable of ways.

But what if in real life, there were to exist a force that could take on any of these mythical beings, without needing to possess similar or opposing strengths?

Thomas Beckon wields that force, in much the same way that a contagion can wipe out most of humanity, from within. For Thomas is an Inlooker, perhaps the only one as far as he is aware, and is truly capable of invading any person’s soul that he chooses.

Luckily for those around him, Thomas is a benign individual who chooses a path through life that barely creates a ripple in his wake. At least, what he does is so undetectable that any malevolence in his actions is hardly ever recognized, even superficially.

Pity those who cross swords (or should I say souls?) with the Inlooker, for he can take anyone down, or initiate a chain-reaction of catastrophes, regardless of a person’s super abilities, or position in life.

Then he becomes less benign, and begins to focus on changing the society in which we live. Thereafter, he focuses on the world.

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Oliver and Jumpy

Oliver and Jumpy, Stories 10-125 Stars

Oliver and Jumpy: Stories 10 – 12 is a collection of children’s stories featuring Oliver the cat and Jumpy and Joey, the kangaroos. Written by Werner Stejskal and illustrated by Maycee Ann Reyes and Marvin Alonso, the stories are geared toward young children and early readers. There are three stories in this collection: “Unhappy Dog,” “Kite High,” and “Butterfly Trouble.”

In “Unhappy Dog,” Oliver meets a dog who barks all the time. Instead of being angry, Oliver strikes up a conversation and learns that Barky is lonely and bored, and he can’t get out of his yard to play. Oliver enlists Jumpy and her son Joey to help Barky get over the fence, and they play games to help Barky feel less lonely.

“Kite High” is another adventure where the three friends get swept up into the sky while riding a cart with a parasail attached. They talk to seagulls, and meet some pelicans, too. There’s danger ahead for Joey, but the friendly pelicans help them land their craft.

“Butterfly Trouble” starts when Oliver meets a butterfly named Bluey. Bluey needs Oliver’s help because a boy with a butterfly net is trying to catch him. Jumpy and Oliver stop the butterfly hunt, save the day, and free Bluey’s friends from captivity.

I shared these stories with a three-year-old girl, and she declared that her favorite story was “Butterfly Trouble.” The illustrations are vibrant and full of expression, inspiring her to take the time to point out the little details as we read. The book looked wonderful on the tablet computer – the colors and images were perfect, and it was easy to read.

All the stories emphasize friendship, helping others, and they include a bit of mischief. There is one potentially scary scene in “Kite High” prompting my young friend to exclaim, “Uh oh!” she also pointed at the pelicans helping our heroes. Every story ends happily, and no one is hurt.

One thing I noticed is that the author is clearly aiming for a global audience. Readers in the U.S. may notice a difference in words or usage, but they aren’t incorrect. It’s just the subtle difference between US and European English.

If you’re a parent, you can’t go wrong with this delightful book. It’s perfect for reading aloud to toddlers or a fun addition to your early reader’s digital library. All the Oliver and Jumpy stories are available on Amazon and several are on YouTube, narrated by the author.

Pages: 25 | ISBN: 9781625174079

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The Inlooker

The Inlooker: Full Length5 Stars

It all starts with a dead cat. Thomas Beckon is a father of two daughters, a husband to a kind, happy woman named Pat, an IT Manager, and a seemingly nice man who many fondly refer to as “Tommy.” His life changes when his daughter’s cat dies, and he realizes that the dead cat’s soul temporarily inhabits the body of another cat in the house. It’s always been his belief that even the smallest creatures have souls, so this discovery intrigues him more than it surprises him. His curiosity leads him to attempt a soul transfer of his own, taking over the body of the remaining cat. After much struggle, he’s successful.

This early success gives him the confidence to move on to humans. He comes to believe that he’s trained his entire life, through his interactions with his co-workers and his ability to understand them, to take on the role of Inlooker. An Inlooker is an immortal supernatural being which has the power to take over the souls of others. Beckon works to enhance these powers, not just reading souls and manipulating his own, but taking control of other people, body and soul.

He starts out using this power for what he believes is “good,” but even his idea of good is twisted around his own self-interests. He moves from doing “good” to purposely doing evil. As Beckon explores his abilities and learns the extent of his power, he will face many enemies, the strongest one of all, himself and his baser instincts. When the future of the world and humanity hangs in the balance, the question for him becomes: can he overcome his greed and hunger for power and chose to utilize his superpowers for the greater good?

Set mostly in England and written by a British author, The Inlooker has a distinctly English voice with a dry sense of humor readers often find in British mystery novels. I enjoyed the voice most of all. It’s humorous, dark, clear, and ironic. At first, I didn’t like the narrator’s intrusions into the story, but I soon grew used to them and enjoyed the quirky voice very much.

The author, Terry Tumbler, is able to move around in time without confusing the reader and without making unnatural or abrupt scene changes. I like the way he reveals Thomas’ true nature slowly, first showing us how he became the Inlooker, and then backtracking to illustrate how he was kind of always an Inlooker, or at least an Inlooker-in-training. His skills didn’t just appear in an act of God type of moment; rather, they were always evolving, always building until the moment when he took over the cat.

This idea of latent powers is further explored when Thomas uses his powers selfishly and heartlessly. Early in the book, I was reminded of the quote by Sir John Dalberg-Acton: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” I at first believed that ultimate power corrupted Thomas, but as the story went on, I realized that self-centeredness and the lack of conscience he displayed always existed within him. Societal norms, familial pressures, and office etiquette had served to control his baser instincts, but once Thomas achieved absolute power, he no longer needed to work within those parameters, so he didn’t. In an ever-evolving world that grows more complicated with an alien invasion, Thomas must decide if dominating the world or saving the world is his ultimate destiny.

I like the format of the book, specifically the short chapters and the descriptive chapter titles. Both kept the story moving at a steady pace. My own personal preference would be for the book to end with Chapter 25 and to not include the Addendum and the five Reference chapters. Beckon does a splendid job in Chapter 25 of wrapping up all the major themes and storylines of the book in a satisfying, yet unexpected way. Readers who like to dive in deeper and learn all the ins and outs will likely enjoy the evolution of the story in the remaining sections.

Pages: 350 | ASIN: B00VVCVEZ6

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The Humming Blade

The Humming Blade3 Stars

In the beginning, everything seems normal. A normal young man, leading a normal life in a normal village. But Christopher Clark has plans for destroying the image of ‘normal’ in his tale The Humming Blade. We meet our protagonist, Wyatt Arden, as he wakes from a dream that seems more like a premonition than anything else. He stumbles out of bed to go about his normal day only to have his entire life turn upside down before the night is even over. He’ll soon learn he’s not so normal and that his entire life and history is more fantastical than any tale he has ever read before. Our young farm boy who has grown up with a single mother learns that you can never assume that life is what you already know; there is so much more to learn.

Clark writes in a fashion that is very easy to read and understand while being engaging and almost poetic. The words flow on the screen in such a way that not even the dialogue seems choppy. His descriptions are fantastic and truly draw the reader in the world he has created. Clark slowly builds his world without drawing anything out longer than it needs to be. Explanations are placed accordingly and nothing seems forced or useless. The introduction of Wyatt and his life on the farm is simple and careful. He doesn’t over embellish anything and doesn’t confuse readers by giving them too much information at once. The narrative is broken up nicely between what is occurring the in the present of the story and the past of the world as well.

Without drawing anything out, Wyatt learns quite quickly that the simple life he thought he has is anything but. After his best friend leaves for military duty and Wyatt is feeling a bit bogged down by responsibility to the farm and his mother, he is thrust into the center of a typical fantasy-adventure plot. He finds a magic sword, a talking, slightly invisible cat, discovers that his lineage is not what he thought it was and that he possesses incredible power that has been hidden from him. These are necessary in Clark’s fantasy story and while they are stereotypical, nothing feels forced or overdone. After Wyatt learns that the friendly village blacksmith has a more intimate connection to him than he initially thought his entire world literally goes up in smoke and Wyatt is faced with a journey of self-discovery. This journey holds not only his future, but the future of his world in the balance as Wyatt uncovers more truths than he cares to.

The ending is slightly abrupt with a big reveal and no indication whether the story is going to continue. That aside, the book is a well done stand-alone as other questions are neatly wrapped up and answered. Clark knows his craft and has delivered a satisfying ending. Hopefully he decides to delve once more into the world of The Humming Blade and give us a final answer on the surprising plot twist he left us with. Readers who are looking for a fun adventure filled with interesting world development and exploration of the foundations of the world itself will not be disappointed with this tale.

Pages: 426 | ISBN: 1483447154

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Jabberwocky: A Novella

Jabberwocky: A Novella

Theodore Singer Author Interview

Jabberwocky: A Novella follows Astreus, heir to the House of the Jabberwock as he embarks on a quest to slay the Jabberwock. There is obvious inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, but what was the inspiration for the epic journey that Astreus undertakes?

I have always loved stories of quests, and became fascinated with the idea of a quest stripped down to its bare essentials – a journey by a lone hero through a series of landscapes and events. I also got the idea of writing a novel inspired by the Lewis Carroll poem Jabberwocky, and eventually put the two together. This worked particularly well for me, because the poem says almost nothing about the events of the quest, just its beginning and end. It’s all reduced to a single line: “Long time the manxome foe he sought”. It was the perfect empty space where I could place my quest story.

Astreus leaves his cozy privileged life behind for the sake of the quest. What do you think drives Astreus to the quest rather than being safe at home?

Apart from youthful restlessness and a wandering heart, it’s the sense that life could be more. As I say in the novella, it’s the idea of enlarged possibilities. It’s the feeling that you don’t have to accept the life that has been laid out for you – instead, you can create your own life. Ultimately, it’s about personal freedom. That’s why people have always admired people like pirates and gangsters. Despite their grievous shortcomings, for people crushed by their circumstances, they seem like heroes for rebelling against those circumstances.

There is a city in your story where psychic cats live with their human servants. I find this setup endlessly entertaining. How did this idea start and develop as you wrote?

I have a certain fascination with chess, despite being a terrible player. Once I was sitting on the floor at home, playing through a grandmaster game from a book, when my cat came and sat opposite me and stared intently at the board and pieces. It looked exactly like she was playing a game against me. This gave me the idea of a city where cats played chess against each other to determine status, instead of physically fighting the way cats usually do. It followed that they would need human servants to move the pieces for them. I started with that when my hero came to the city, and the finer details suggested themselves to me quite naturally as I progressed.

What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?

I’m writing a full-length novel about a strange world, based on a single strange concept. I can’t say more than that, but it should be finished in about a year.

Author Links: Website | GoodReads

Buy Now From Amazon.comThe winner in the Novella category of the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and a finalist in the Young Adult category! Inspired by the Lewis Carroll poem, this is a dreamlike fantasy quest through strange landscapes, where the hero gradually grows into an understanding of himself and the true nature of the quest.

Jabberwocky

Jabberwocky: A Novella5 StarsTheodore Singer’s Jabberwocky: A Novella is an engaging, entertaining journey that feels like an epic saga; but without the page count. Contained in the few pages of this novella is a world full of intrigue and mystery. The story follows Astreus, heir to the House of the Jabberwock as he embarks on a quest that has been reduced to nothing more than ceremony. At the tender age of eighteen he has come of age and while his father and grandfather expect him to take his place in their world he opts instead to take on the Quest of finding and killing the Jabberwocky. While it comes as a shock to his family, Astreus labors forward in his romantic notion of fulfilling the quest that has been passed down for generations. Taking up the Vorpal Sword, the only blade capable of separating the Jabberwocky’s head from it’s body, Astreus leaves his cozy privileged life behind for the sake of the quest.

Singer does a fantastic job drawing the reader into his tale. There is very little dialogue throughout the novella so we are left with his amazing descriptions that make the words jump off the page.

Singer takes us on a journey of the strange world Astreus lives in. In the beginning it seems like a stereotypical medieval setting as our protagonist leaves his castle behind and journeys to a mysterious island. There, he becomes embroiled in a cruel test of his mettle while his emotions are toyed with and he learns that there is far more to the world than what he has read in his books at home. After leaving the island we come to a strange city occupied by psychic cats and their human servants. Our protagonist continues to grow and develop quite nicely. Nothing is forced or feels contrived at this point. Singer does a great job keeping the human development part of his tale as realistic as possible. Beyond the city of cats is a valley of certain death. Astreus continues to chase the tales and whispers of the Jabberwocky’s path in an eager effort to fulfill his quest.

Theodore Singer does as fantastic job with this tale that keeps the reader wanting more. Even with everything that happens in the tale the reader is not left feeling overwhelmed or left with questions beyond what imagination can answer. The nice thing about it being a novella is that you can allow yourself to get completely consumed without losing hour after hour of your day. Even the unexpected resolution of the Quest fits perfectly in these pages. It is a fantastic, compact tale of wonder and fantasy.

Pages: 156 | ASIN: B00TUFU8YE

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