Monkey is capable of some marvelous things. He wishes to be a master in virtually every area, Small but mighty. His thirst for knowledge is unmatched, and his abilities outshine everyone around him. When he transforms into the famed Monkey King, it is just the beginning of his fantastic journey. Monkey is, however, quite a character. He never fails to be the center of any and every bit of chaos. Monkey is filled with intensity and determination from his temper to his strength. There is no one else like him.
Tales of the Monkey King, by Teresa Chin Jones, is a retelling of classic Chinese tales of the famous Monkey King. Jones delivers a fabulous series of chapters tracing the making of the Monkey King through his outrageous adventures to the fascinating end of his journey. Along the way, readers will meet captivating characters and find themselves in awe of the fantastic and, sometimes, harrowing situations in which Monkey and his cohort find themselves.
I was taken with the colorful characters and the vibrant language throughout the book. Though there are beautiful illustrations placed sporadically throughout the chapters, readers will have no trouble visualizing the characters and exquisite settings. Jones does a fantastic job of building Monkey and his comrades into strong mental images for her readers. In addition, the more challenging text structure and choice of verbiage will push young readers. I can see Tales of the Monkey King as a beautiful read-aloud addition to any classroom.
As a teacher, I appreciate the added summaries at the beginning of each chapter. Teachers and students alike will find these little bonuses helpful when picking up reading where they left off. As I usually spend a little time reviewing previous chapters before reading, I can see these summaries making that much more manageable and bringing my students and me quickly up to date. In addition, young readers will find the summaries an easy way to review on their own.
I truly enjoyed reading Monkey King’s escapades and seeing Jones’s work as a real asset to upper elementary and middle school classrooms. Folklore is an essential part of literature education, and I highly recommend Tales of the Monkey King to any fan of classic folk tales and legends. Monkey is sure to bring a smile to readers’ faces.
Pages: 277 | ASIN : B091721V92
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The Lady and the Dragon by Ruth Finnegan is an intriguing fantasy story following a young lady, a powerful dragon, an angel, and a couple of philosophical conundrums. It’s all packaged in a delightfully poetic format and explores themes such as sin, humanity, and destruction in an easy and engaging manner.
This story seems like it was made to read aloud, with funny voices and panache. I couldn’t help myself from muttering the best bits to myself, even getting strange looks from the other occupants of my home. There’s alliterations and rhymes and repetition and onomatopoeia– basically a linguistic candy store. The book reads like classic literature, it is offbeat and charming without ever being boring. It creates a comforting atmosphere with plenty of depth and imagination.
It is hard not to smile when you reach the end– it was definitely a glimmer of hope and joy in my generally mundane days. I can easily see myself reading this book to my baby nephew or recommending it to my teenage sister. A witty story and sharp writing elevates this fantasy novel, and I personally thought it was refreshing and a good break from the intensity of the real world. The Lady and the Dragon captures the essentials of the soul, offers subtle commentary on humanity, and is written with precision and a depth of understanding that will fascinate any reader. I can’t wait for Ruthfinn Romance Book 2!
Pages: 46 | ASIN: B08XW8561P
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Queen of Dragons finds an uneasy peace shattered when Elky and Ustice are taken and the Spires are spurred into action. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from book one?
Thank you, Thomas. In this book I wanted to show how even one life is missed from a community. The beginning of the story expresses, I think, the feeling of loss each individual of a community feels and the joy at the recovery of that person. This part of the story leads to the ‘why’ behind the crime which is the focus of the book.
I really enjoyed the world your building in this series. What were some sources that informed this world’s development?
I lived in California for many years, close to the mountains. Hiking trails along those mountains gave me a keen sense of a land the dragons would inhabit–the outcropping of mountains close to the ocean with the scent of sea spray that hangs in the air is much like The Spires of Dasny.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I don’t prethink themes, they occur naturally through the writing process. The sense of loss was one theme, a joyful return another, redemption yet another. Mainly in this book I wanted to show the growth of the characters and the challenges each of them face with that growth. It’s not necessarily a ‘coming of age’ book, but it does touch on some of those emotions and the growth each character experiences.
This is book two in The Spires of Dasny series. What can readers expect in book three?
In book three of The Spires of Dasny, the readers will be propelled into a much larger world. They begin to learn of other kingdoms and how they can benefit them or destroy them. Along with this discovery is an ancient lore that plays out with the main characters of Seyra, Grifton and Elky. What is the meaning behind it and will it help them or come at a cost? It is my hope to expand this series by focusing on these different kingdoms and the impact each plays with The Spires of Dasny.
I am aiming for the release of book three, The Kingdom of the Spires, by fall 2021, and with any luck, much sooner!
Posted in Interviews
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Sinbad the Sailor sets out over the sea to retrieve his fortune with all his remaining goods on board. They alight on a beautiful island – but no it is a huge whale who, awakened by their shouts, tosses Sinbad painfully into the sea. Magically rescued he is befriended by a great king, and his ship, with crew and full cargo wondrously returns. Sinbad returns to his beloved Baghdad, now a rich man – till the next voyage! A tale from the Arabian Nights, a collection of adventures parallel to Homer’s Odyssey. Like your grandmother told you.
Posted in book trailer
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In the long ago, there was a boy named Henry. His greatest love was his little sister, and his greatest desire was to be a thief. It was a passion as misguided as it was pure.
In the coming of age story The Fortieth Thief, author Ruth Finnegan tells the lively story of Henry as he grows up and tries to pursue his dream of learning to be a proper thief. Finnegan packs a lot of literary dazzle in a short and charming story. This fantastic tale gives a new and unique perspective to Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves story. A folk tale of the natural world, and a morality story about selflessness and love. Henry can be forgiven for his ill-advised goals because of his innocence and youth, while at the same time we can all learn a little something from his passion and exuberance.
The Fortieth Thief is an adorable story that is a great addition to an age old tale that contains a great message for young children where adventures like this may be in short supply in the real world but never in our imagination, and Ruth Finnegan sets readers imagination on fire.
Pages: 43 | ASIN: B086SDJ9KT
Mylee is experiencing one of the most trying times in her young life. Not only is she watching solemnly as her parents’ marriage hits its rockiest stretch to date, she is unable to convince her mother that she is happier and more productive not being a cheerleader. To top it off, Mylee should be having the time of her life as she seems to have caught the eye of the school’s most desired boy–real homecoming king material. Mylee just can’t seem to catch a break. When her beloved Grammy, her confidante, moves into a new apartment farther from Mylee’s home, the struggle becomes even more real.
Ellie Collins’s second book in her Greek mythology series, Mylee in the Mirror, is a fantastic follow up to her first, Daisy Bold and Beautiful. This young adult fiction series is shaping up to be an artfully designed set of books with well-developed characters and engrossing plot lines. Collins is a master at incorporating current teen culture and dialogue. Her writing flows smoothly, and her characters seems to jump off the page–especially her main characters. Mylee and Ty are an adorable pair and their friendship leaves the reader rooting for them from their very first interaction. Collins seems to have a knack for drawing a thoroughly detestable antagonist. Sam is clearly sketched as the villain, and the dialogue she has given him keeps readers focused on exactly how wonderful Ty is for Mylee–writing perfection.
Collins manages to tap into complex relationships quite easily whether it be the parent-child relationship or the ever-evolving relationships between teen friends. She pinpoints the drama that so easily arises between girls over potential love interests while at the same time highlighting how easily true friends are able to see the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I am, again, intrigued by Collin’s use of Greek mythology in her plots. She pulls the story of her grandmother’s mirror and the tale of Aphrodite almost effortlessly into what, otherwise, reads as young adult fiction. The fact that Mylee is able to keep her experiences to herself and use what she learns from her encounters with the mirror is a truly unique approach in this genre.
Collins is an author to be watched in the coming years. The ease with which the words flow from her mind to the paper is to be envied indeed. Her writing is phenomenally engaging, and I look forward to seeing more from her series in the future. I highly recommend her writing to any parent of young teens looking to engage their children in well-written and timely books.
Pages: 180 | ASIN: B07JZKV317
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Jolie Dubriel’s Red and Blue is a fascinating, re-imagined tale that combines both classic fairy tales and nursery rhymes with many twists and turns. Dubriel takes old favorite characters and story lines you knew, loved, and memorized during your childhood story times and weaves them together as one beautiful story of secrecy, heartbreak, and the power of love. Obstacles and setbacks are sprinkled in along the way on the journey from once upon a time to happily ever after. Nostalgic characters Little Red Riding Hood and Little Boy Blue are now grown-up characters who play the lead parts. Humpty Dumpty, Old King Cole, and other classic figures also pepper this amazingly creative compilation.
Like any classic fairy tale, this book is not without tragedy. As is par for the course, there are separations of young children from parents and premature deaths of parental figures. There are hearts broken and healed. Red and Blue are coming of age characters who are growing up, discovering who they are, who they want to be, and who they begin to have feelings for. Stories from the past surface that throw wrenches in plans and change life trajectories. The story is full of conflicts and characters trying to solve them. The dynamic as old as time, good vs. evil, is also prevalent in parts of the story.
I love a good anthropomorphic animal or inanimate object, and those characters seen in the Kingdom of Rhyme do not disappoint in this area. Animals and objects are personified throughout the story. Fish, salamanders, cats, and dogs walk around in suits as servants and guards in King Cole’s castle. A dish runs and talks with a spoon through the forest. A cow jumps over the moon. These are the kinds of things that a nostalgic childhood reader will love. The half human/half animal or object cast of characters are reminiscent of those kinds of splits found in The Wizard of Oz, Beauty and the Beast, The Sword in the Stone, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
I like the twist that Red’s story takes regarding her relationship with wolves. Red and her grandmother have their classic encounter with the Big Bad Wolf, and miraculously survive. Later, her loving stepfather gifts her with a little wolf pup that grows to be her best friend and companion. It’s refreshing to see the girl have the upper hand over a wolf in one of these tales.
What classic tale would be complete without magic? The ultimate symbol of magic in this story is Little Boy Blue’s golden horn. He is unaware of its power, but has been cautioned to keep it with him always. Blue has grown up with the horn strapped to his back while working on a farm. It is only later that Blue will discover his true identity and the power that the horn truly holds.
I really enjoyed how Dubriel took so many classic and loved stories and characters and wove them together into one cohesive story. It is truly a feel-good kind of read. It is a love story that keeps its innocence. There is some tragedy and conflict, but I think it’s appropriate for pretty much anyone. Middle schoolers through adults will enjoy this book. Jolie Dubriel may have written a “new classic” with this book.
Pages: 192 | ASIN: B079WCF5ZF
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The Nefarious, Noble and Nocturnal is a collection of short stories that follow three ghostly women and a vampire. How did this collection come together for you? Did you write them individually over time, or did you set out to write a compilation?
My short story compilation came together when I was getting my apartment organized one weekend this past summer and found some college ruled notebooks. From notations I had made in side margins, all four of them had been written years ago. Frankly, I had forgotten all about them. They appear in chronological order; “Another Helen’s Haircomb” was written in 2011 and is the oldest. The last short story, “There’s Always Another One,” was finished in 2014. As readers can see, even with all of them combined, the cumulative word total is less than 8,500 words, but I remembered that while I attended business college I had enjoyed various compilations and Reader’s Digest editions during breaks from classes. An idea of putting four of my own writing projects together grew more and more appealing to me, so I ran with it. Pun intended.
I really like the cover of the book. How did you decide on what cover to choose?
I appreciate what you wrote about the cover for my compilation, many people have had similar comments, for which I’m grateful. But credit doesn’t belong to me. The Chief Executive Officer of my publisher, Captive Quill Press, is also an author friend of mine, Kenya, and that attractive, haunting woman on “The Nefarious, Noble and Nocturnal” cover was Kenya’s idea. She said market research showed potential consumers react with more interest when a striking female model appears on a book, especially when it is in the paranormal fiction genre. I trust my friend’s savvy, so I approved her suggestion.
I consider this a thrilling paranormal romance collection. Do you read books in that genre? Are there any books in that genre that have influenced you over the years?
Yes, I do read paranormal romances. Perhaps that’s unusual for bachelors, but my reasoning is there’s more opportunity for the creative half of my brain to engage when I read stories with supernatural content, and I can immerse myself with the element of “what if” because it makes for great entertainment, a great escape from my work life which is compartmentalized, ordered. I see enough drab, plain stuff everyday.
I want my imagination to have adventures.
Stephen King’s “Bag of Bones” influenced me to write “Intervention” in particular.
I felt that the characters had a lot of depth. What ideas did you have about your characters when you started and how did that change as you were writing?
As I mentioned earlier, “Another Helen’s Haircomb” was written in 2011, so I can’t remember specific ideas about my characters as I wrote at the time, but the reason I thought it was so important to include within The Nefarious, Noble and Nocturnal is our basic human curiosity and awe when it comes to the vastness of eternity. However, what dove tails with that concept is simply no matter how many technological advances are made, we’re still much like my fictional character of Helen from ancient Athens, in that we grieve and love deeply. Furthermore, according to what I’ve read and heard over my life span, thirteen-year-old girls, especially those who have faced traumatic incidents (such as the loss of a parent), seem to be more apt to accept paranormal manifestations they witness. I took some liberty with a father “rolling with the punches” too, granted, but I thought it was reasonable if I demonstrated a dad and his daughter seeking to adapt as best they could together. Where my other three short stories are concerned, the characters remained as originally written, except for Moira in “There’s Always Another One.” When I did a final edit before I sent my file to you, I decided to make her a bit more complex. While I wanted her to keep a degree of seductiveness, it was vital for readers have a more pronounced idea that she’s no bubble-headed nymphomaniac who happens to be a vampire. She has an agenda, and she has every intention of carrying out her objective with a mercenary’s calculating, cold willfulness to succeed.
What is the next story that you are writing and when will that be published?
Currently, I’m in the process of writing a novel, still on its fifth chapter, which is a ghost story entitled “The Stein and the Studebaker: Book 1 of the Norseman Chronicles.” Another of Stephen King’s older works, “Christine,” is influencing me again, but there will be notable differences when my book is done this coming summer or autumn. For starters, King’s supernatural auto, a 1958 Plymouth Fury, is written as a homicidal, vengeful wraith on wheels. By contrast, the 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk in my story is motivated by a desire to see justice is brought to bear for a murder investigation that went cold in 1960. My intent is to have the story written sometime between June and October of 2017, but I have no idea how long it will take to get the book published after that. Oh, and it will be the first of a trilogy series.
Readers, prepare yourselves, and embark on a supernatural journey spanning the battlefield of Marathon in ancient Greece to the present day in America’s Pacific Northwest. Three long distance runners will encounter ghosts, one falls in love with a beautiful vampire who has an agenda, and all four will cross very different finish lines, whether they’re ready or not.
Posted in Interviews
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