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.
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If you’re in the mood for something short, supernatural and entertaining, look no further than The Nefarious, Noble and Nocturnal compilation by Michael Holman. These four short tales come together in one volume to tease and delight readers. We meet three ghostly women and a vampire during our adventure and they all have something on their minds. One wanders the world in limbo waiting for a lover that will never return. Another warns her former partner of impending danger and another woman is completely unaware that she has even passed on. We close out with a vampire who is seeking someone to accompany her on her immortal journey. Four women, four tales of spooky versions of affection. Will all four tales have a happy ending? What would be a happy ending for a spectre? You’ll just have to read to find out for yourself!
When writing a compilation of stories it is always good to have an underlying theme or two. Holman uses slight affairs with romance and the supernatural in all of this tales. While the ideas are entertaining, the writing lacks somewhat. Our first story doesn’t have clear transitions in time and the characters are all too accepting of the supernatural event that takes place. It seems unrealistic and rushed. Our second story is shorter and is written much better than the first installment. There are some stylistic issues, but they do not detract from the actual tale. The same can be said about the third and fourth story, although they all feel as though they were rushed and incomplete. It can be difficult to write in a shorter format and still get all the important details across, but I feel that Holman has made a valiant effort.
If you could skip the first story and focus on the remaining three you would have a much better read. They are better written and feel more like short stories than the first. The language used in the remaining three fits better and more of the important substance of the tale comes across. The first story is brimming with so much possibility that the story feels hampered by the shorter format, where it would really shine as a full length novel.
The Nefarious, Noble and Nocturnal is an interesting compilation of four supernatural events and their impact on a very natural world. All four tales are separate from each other but have an underlying theme of romance or affection. I found the ideas behind each story to be entertaining and the story lines were easy to follow, but the feeling of being rushed detracts from what could otherwise be an interesting read. The language is easy enough that these stories should be enjoyable for all reading levels. Readers will find a nice nugget of storytelling in this small book.
Pages: 28 | ASIN: B01NANCV3M
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In Sir Princess Petra’s Mission, Petra’s father sends her on a mission where she is expected to fail so that she can stop having fantasies of adventure and become a proper lady. The book is beautifully written, did you set out to create a story rich in kindness and morality, or did that happen organically?
Before I began to write the story, I did tons of work creating the characters. When I felt the characters were fully rounded and as well-known to me as friends, I began to write their adventures. It was, also, important to me to have noble characters doing noble deeds. So, the story was written and developed with noble values in my mind, but the characters seemed to develop the story organically because of who they are.
Princess Petra is a strong young woman. What was the inspiration for the main character’s traits and dialogue?
I’ve always believe that gender was never an issue to accomplishing what one’s heart desires. Petra’s character was created out of that belief. Petra is a strong young lady, and I am sure those traits come out because of my upbringing with a strong mother figure who has, and still is, accomplishing great things in life whether those accomplishments are male or female orientated.
What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in Sir Princess Petra’s Mission?
Believing in oneself is the most important theme Petra instills throughout the series. Also, kindness, acceptance of others, standing up for what is right, bravery, and friendship were important themes to bring out in all the characters.
What will the next book in that series be about and when will it be published?
The characters haven’t told me yet what the next book is about yet. They have mentioned that they like the title Sir Princess Petra’s Quest. I’m hoping we’ll have created the 4th book for publication in later 2017. In the meantime, I have a new book, based on these characters, releasing in early 2017. The book is entitled The Dragon Grammar Book, and it’s an-easy-to-understand grammar book for middle grades through adults. The book is kind of quirky (well, if you think fantasy characters giving grammar lessons is quirky), and a fun and easy way to learn grammar.
Sir Princess Petra has already attained her knighthood in the Kingdom of Pen Pieyu and her non-princess-like talent certificate from Talent School, neither of which pleases her father and mother, the king and queen. The king writes up more silly rules in the royal rule book to deter Sir Princess Petra from her knightly ways and useless talent, and turn her into a real princess once and for all. Will the king finally succeed with this newly written, ridiculous mission for Petra?
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Children’s books are more than just fun stories on paper. More often than not they are designed to teach the readers a skill or lesson that will serve them as they grow older and interact more with the world. The key is to make the lesson seem so natural in the story that it gets absorbed without much notice. Diane Mae Robinson does this with Sir Princess Petra’s Mission. The book is the third in a series and the very beginning gives a synopsis of the two prior installments. This is exceptionally beneficial for those who are coming into the tale so far behind. In our story we find Petra, the Princess Knight, who has been given a mission by her not-to-pleased father. As is the case with many books where young women strive to be outside the ‘ordinary’, Petra’s father is displeased at the fact she is a knight. He charges her with a mission that he desperately hopes she will fail in an attempt to conform her to his views.
The language is very fun and easy to read. There are several pictures throughout the story which give a great addition to the words. It is always fun for readers to have an idea of what the author intended when they describe something and this is a welcomed bonus for young readers who are possibly reading for pleasure for the first time. The text is simple enough for children yet interesting enough for adults to actually be engaged with what they are reading with or to their children.
Petra is a strong female character who has a desire to live her life the way she wants. Much to the chagrin of her father this means being a knight and going on knightly adventures. This means no pink frilly dresses and no classes on how to faint properly. The story of the young girl going against expectations has been around for quite some time, but Petra truly needs no saving by anyone. She is not a trapped princess who needs help getting out of the tower or the princess who tries to fight a dragon but needs help from a male. Petra takes every task head-on and does her best to deliver results with her own hands. Even when she is faced with a difficult question or situation, she does her very best to think about what the right answer in her heart would be.
It’s truly sad that Petra’s father can’t be excited for his daughter and proud of everything she has done for the kingdom. How many princesses subdue a snarling dragon, only to become allies with them? Not many, even in the realm of children’s books. Sir Princess Petra’s Mission is no different in that her father hands out an impossible task, yet when she does her best to achieve her mission and strives to straighten out some incorrect information on the way, her father’s response is less than delightful.
Robinson weaves a wonderful tale of adventure and excitement that any boy or girl could love. With an underlying message that doesn’t scream from within the pages all readers, adults too, are sure to come away with the desire to emulate Petra’s wonderful tenacity; even if only for a while.
Pages: 106 | ASIN: B01AX8G1Q0
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In The Dream Walker Miranda is having vivid dreams of a world full of castles, forests, ice caves, and dragons. I find this world brimming with possibilities. Where did the inspiration for Mystica come from and how did it change as you were writing?
The inspiration for Mystica came from the ideas of dreams and mist. A world full of castles, dwarves, knights in shining armour, ect. I think a lot came from other fantasy books I’ve read and enjoyed, The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia, and so forth. Of course, I made the world my own and added little twists and turns to it. It didn’t really change much as I was writing, but expanded to include more lands and people. My husband created a map for me, which really helped! Readers asked for more information about Mystica and I’m working on some back stories. The possibilities are endless, and I look forward to delving into this world more and creating more stories and characters.
Miranda is a young college-aged woman who is sucked into an alternate world due to her powers as a Dream Walker. I found Miranda to be a refreshing character. What were some of the emotional and moral guidelines you followed when developing Miranda?
When developing Miranda, I used a lot of my own childhood experiences and my own emotional and moral guidelines. The idea of helping others with no expectation of getting anything in return reminds me of a time when we were poor and our neighbors and church often came by with food, clothes, and sleds at Christmas time. This has stuck with me through ought life, and I think it is refreshing in today’s society. I personally feel we need more books like mine, and less violent ones.
On Mystica, the evil wizard Midnight has been released and is gathering an army in preparation for war. How did you create balance in the use of magic to keep it believable?
I always had the idea for six wizards, three light and three dark to keep things in balance. In order for there to be a story, there must be some conflict. I had this idea in my head that Midnight would want to rule the world, after all that’s how he ended up being trapped in stone to begin with. He would use his magic for destruction, while Miranda would use hers to try to help by freeing Lightning. The balance of magic in Mystica came from there being three wizards on each side.
The Dream Walker is the first in the Land of Mystica series. Can you tell us where the book goes and where we’ll see the characters in the next book?
Currently, there are two more books and a short story. Readers have asked for more, so I’m working on a fourth. In Dream Walker’s Return, Miranda meets Brian a fellow magic user. She returns to Mystica to defeat the Darkness, which Brian has unleashed. Will he help or hurt her on her journey? In Dream Walker’ Destiny, the destiny of Mystica falls of Miranda. She must find the final white wizard Polaris and return him to Mystica before the dark wizard Spyder does. Mystica is breaking apart without the magic of all the wizards. She must travel to the Lost Islands to find Polaris, and Spyder and the Pirates are on her heels. In Ichra’s Quest (my short story), we learn more about the ice people, Ichra has turned 14, and he must go on a journey through the Ice Caves to find his magical stone, the one that will give him his adult name. Can he traverse the dangers of the Ice Cave and find his stone. And due to reader demand, Dream Walker’s Fight is being written. The darkness stalks Miranda and her dream magic. She must travel through the Dream Realm to defeat it once and for all. Night Shadow stalks her every move and waits for an opportunity to strike.
Miranda is having vivid dreams of a world she’s never been to. A world full of castles, Forests, Ice Caves, and Dragons. She goes to a bookstore to see about these dreams, and discovers she is a Dream Walker. She has been called to save this mystical, magical world. On Mystica, the evil wizard Midnight has been released. Midnight is gathering an army, and preparing for war. Miranda needs to find and release the white wizard Lightning from his stone prison to save Mystica. Follow Miranda as she travels through Mystica. Can she find and release Lightning and save Mystica?
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