She traveled to a new world to find her sister. She left her whole life behind. Now, to keep Emily safe, Alicina must pose as a wealthy aristocrat. Plunged into a royal court steeped in intrigue, she is forced to do battle with someone she once called a friend. Will her belief in herself and the magical powers she has found be enough to save them all?
Welcome to Telidore.
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After a serious car crash, Stefan comes round from a coma with a case of amnesia. Eva, his younger sister, is the only one who can see that Stefan is not really Stefan at all…When a strange letter arrives, written in gothic handwriting and addressed to Stefan, saying there has been a terrible mistake and signed by a mysterious ‘Hyacinthe’, the puzzle starts to unravel. Along with Eva, Stefan’s friends, Kim, Thomas, Harry, and Andrew must try to solve the mystery but to do that they will have to take part in a dangerous race, called The Game of Life.
Anna Musewald’s A Game of Life is a YA fantasy and mystery novel which draws you in from the first page. The prose is so easy to read; it is witty and enchanting and feels perfect for a YA audience. In spite of the simplicity of the language, it doesn’t feel at all patronising or one-dimensional. The ‘game’ from the title is quite complex, with lots of imaginative systems and challenging tasks set for the players which really immerses the reader in the experience. I loved the inclusion of Greek myth, such as Apollo and the Sirens, woven through the narrative. The plot is in the vein of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which could make it seem derivative, but with an original and inventive spin, it manages to feel fresh and exciting. Meaningful themes of friendship, loyalty and bravery flesh out the fun storyline.
The pacing is excellent; I was instantly engrossed by the opening chapter and the book never let me go! We are drawn in by the question of what has happened to Stefan and led through a number of rabbit holes and strange happenings. The revelation isn’t made until the end which kept me greedily turning the pages, and there are also plenty of action scenes to keep the reader hooked until the final page.
I had total belief in the characters, who all have distinctive personalities, and I loved the way that the friendships and rivalries are portrayed, showing the tangled and complex nature of relationships. The relationship between Stefan and Eva is particularly poignant and depicts the protective and intuitive nature of sibling relationships. The dialogue is funny and clever, and the conversation seems very authentic for a group of young people.
One of the aspects that I enjoyed the most was the setting of Parsi and the fully formed ‘underground’ city created by the author which is full of fantastical and magical detail. Musewald excels at writing surroundings and conjures up place in a beguiling and descriptive way so that the reader feels as though they are on the journey with the characters.
This is a great addition to the young fiction genre, full of twists and turns, mystery and suspense; I enjoyed the journey immensely. I gobbled it up in one go, and I can’t wait for another riveting story from Anna Musewald.
Pages: 202 | ASIN: B01M0ZBKXP
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Henry and the Hidden Treasure is the story of one little boy’s quest to keep his treasure a secret from his sister. How did the initial idea for this story come about and how did it evolve as you wrote?
Imagination. Secrets. Spies. Treasure. These were all the things that I loved to read about when I was a child, so it made sense that I would incorporate these themes into a picture book sooner or later. Probably the very first thought I had when I set about writing Henry and the Hidden Treasure centered on the idea of treasure. What makes the concept of treasure so appealing to children? From there it wasn’t hard to extend this idea and ask the question: What constitutes real treasure within a family?
The story leads the reader on a journey into a child’s imagination and its endless possibilities. What do you hope your readers take away from the story?
Exactly that! I try to write every one of my books to encourage imagination. I think the mark of a great picture book is when children go beyond the written narrative and begin to explore the world of the story for themselves. Of course, it’s important to have positive themes and morals, but I try to make them subtle, or at least secondary to the imaginative qualities of the tale.
I love the brother vs. sister dynamic in this book. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
I think anyone reading Henry and the Hidden Treasure will immediately identify with the dynamic between Henry and his younger sister. Henry has the traits of a child who is perhaps a little possessive and who is certainly suspicious of Lucy’s place in the family. Lucy is a lot more enigmatic throughout the story, but her own qualities end up challenging Henry’s perceptions.
There are a number of morals that can be highlighted in the story. Henry’s possessiveness with his ‘treasure’ not only examines his exclusive approach to playing, but has a valuable lesson in listening to parental advice. His suspicion of Lucy also challenges his ideas of what it is to have a little sister, and what it means to be the big brother. In addition to this, there are other teaching points in the story, such as the use of ordinal numbers, understanding the broad use of financial institutions, and of course, the power of imagination.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book coming out is called Titch the Itch. It centres on the idea of friendship and how this can be difficult when you’re an itch. It will be available on November 30 2017.
Henry and the Hidden Treasure is an imaginative adventure a young child has in defending his pocket money against his little sister. Henry constructs elaborate defensive measures that he is sure will stand up to the clever ambitions of Lucy. Little does he know, Lucy has a few tricks of her own.With a focus on introducing children to the use of ordinal numbers, Henry and the Hidden Treasure also draws out some important qualities of being a kid – such as creativity, the value of listening to parental advice, and of course, being nice to your sister.
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B.C.R. Fegan’s Henry and the Hidden Treasure is the story of one little boy’s quest to keep his “treasure” a secret from one person in particular. Henry’s tale of overwhelming desire to keep his treasure box from his sister’s clutches leads the reader on a journey into a child’s imagination and its endless possibilities. The threat posed by his baby sister is the driving force behind a long string of scenarios designed to trick, intimidate, and trap his sister as he shields his beloved treasure from her greedy hands. Henry, for all his planning, learns a valuable lesson about jumping to conclusions in the process.
Henry and the Hidden Treasure is a delight in both text and illustrations. As a third grader teacher and parent and one who has read more than my share of picture books to Kindergarten through 5th grade students, I can say Fegan has written a real gem. Children of all ages love a surprise ending, and the author has more than provided such a conclusion with a fantastic build-up and an added bonus on the last page. Teachers appreciate the opportunity to have students predict endings, and Fegan and Wen’s last page of text allows us to do just that with the simple yet powerful lone illustration of Lucy stealthily peeking at Henry.
The author/illustrator team of Fegan and Wen has created a story for both families and classrooms. The older brother versus baby sister dynamic is addressed via detailed, colorful illustrations which demonstrate the intensity of a child’s imagination. Each subsequent illustration adds a sense of drama children find appealing. My personal favorite of all the illustrations, as a mother, is the one depicting the reality of Henry’s room.
Teachers looking to create text sets for their students will find Henry and the Hidden Treasure a delightful addition to sets alongside books like Charlie McButton Lost Power where sibling rivalry is the theme. With the open-ended conclusion given by Fegan and Wen, I certainly hope there is a sequel to the saga of Henry and Lucy.
Pages: 32 | ASIN: B0719JXRRT
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When a historical fantasy grips you from the very first page, you know you are in for an excellent read. With Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner, we are brought into the world of the not-so-distant past when Rome set their sights on Britannia. We follow the experience of our protagonist Celtic princess Catrin and her star-crossed Roman lover, Marcellus. On opposing sides of a battle that grows fiercer with every passing day. There is more to this tale than love and war for magic and mysticism are part of the lifeblood of our characters. This is more than a tale of might and magic. This is also a tale of a woman coming into her own as a powerful warrior and a strong mystic. Catrin has faced uncertainty and hardship even within her own family. When pitted against the Roman Empire will she find the strength she needs to survive?
When you write a story that has its base in history, research is a must. You cannot simply write whatever you wish and hope that it makes sense. Tanner realizes this and does her best to research her time period. How people acted, how they dressed, their beliefs and their mannerisms are carefully reviewed in this tale. At the end of the book she does acknowledge that the Celts did not leave much written history. This is a blessing for a writer though, because it leaves an open creative license. Since they didn’t keep records, who is to say that the druids did not behave in exactly the same way they did in this book? This is where the fantasy aspect comes in. Tanner is careful not to get too carried away and the tale feels believable and relatable.
Tanner begins each chapter with a brief excerpt. This gives the reader a sense of where the story is going. This can be a useful tool when you take long gaps between readings. While there is some slightly graphic content, a teenager would find this to be a friendly reminder of what is about to happen and can help jog the memory if they haven’t picked up the book in some time.
The way Tanner portrays women in this book is also very empowering. Our protagonist is a princess, yet she is not fragile. There is no Snow White here. She is forged with fire and metal and trains to be able to reach the pinnacle of fortitude her eldest sister has. For a young woman who is trying to figure out where she belongs in her world, this tale is relatable to other young women in our timeline who are also trying to figure out where they belong.
If you’re looking for something entertaining with a fast, action-paced rhythm, Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner is a definite must. The first in a series this book firmly establishes backstory while also being able to stand alone if necessary. It’s a very exciting read and readers of all ages and genders will find something to identify with in this tale. How will things turn out for Catrin? What will happen with her relationship with Marcellus, scion of the Roman Empire sent to oppress her people? You’ll have to read and find out.
Pages: 400 | ASIN: B06XJQ74H6
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Seed of Treachery takes place far in the future, where humanity is on the brink of extinction and alien star systems are on the brink of war. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
First of all, thank you so much for your kind words on Seed Of Treachery. I’m glad you enjoyed the read. Architects as a series is actually the realization of a long-game story arc that I’ve had in my head since I was a tween or so, which went through various forms until it finally ended up in this format as a published work. Seed Of Treachery, in particular, was always intended to be just that: a seed, an introduction to the universe, with a story arc that resolves while also sending out hooks for the next books. The tragic rift between the two sisters was the first plot point that really came together as the beating heart of the story. And as I got deeper into the writing process, the Jagged Edge plotline came together, and the idea that our protagonists are fighting a war against people whose motivations they actually agree with, the more they think about it, informed the way the narrative moved forward from there.
This story follows two interesting characters, Eva and Ashy, members of a bird-like alien species. What were the driving ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?
I think most of us can relate to Ashy, who constantly feels judged as something she’s not, tension and anxiety worming their way in with every intrusive thought. Outcast and downtrodden, I admire her spirit to keep running if it means a sliver of a chance of making right. She’s clinging to a past that was unjustly stolen from her, while Eva, always the more stoic of the two, has abandoned her past to become what some would call a beacon of hope, and others have called an ‘outlaw with exceptions’. I think one of Seed Of Treachery’s main themes is Separation, and the sisters are no exception. It’s clear that Ashy still has hope for a brighter tomorrow, but at this point, is Eva really a totem of stoic resilience, or, as a certain someone says, “a shell waiting to be shattered”?
As for their species, the arkerian race, I had a ton of fun with it, and I’m still having a ton of fun with it as I currently write the third book in the series; they have hollow bones, which means that they break easier, and they have a species-wide aptitude for feats of tricky athleticism to compensate for that, which means I always enjoy writing their action sequences. In the back of my mind, I kind of like the term ‘genetic parkour’ when summing it up.
Space adventure novels are my favorite. What were some authors and books that inspired you as a writer?
I like to think I soak up inspiration from anything and everything I can get my hands on. A lot of things that inspired this series in my formative years actually weren’t books; films like Star Wars and video games like Metroid Prime caused the sci-fi bug to bite me early on. I love entertainment-art in general, no matter the format (music, film, books, games), but I latch on to just about anything with elements of futurism, sci-fi or a speculative nature.
What was the driving force behind the idea in this novel that humans are a dying race?
It’s something a bit different, and there’s an inherent sense of intrigue behind the idea of having outraced our own extinction, I think. It turns humanity’s socio-political paradigm in this universe on its head. Lots of great sci-fi narratives depict a universe where humanity goes right from Earth to joining with a wider universe full of cool aliens and worlds, like Mass Effect (one of my personal bibles of thorough sci-fi worldbuilding) and Star Trek. In Architects, humanity’s still managed to lift up and join the Convergence, but it hasn’t been without some pretty huge speedbumps in their past that inform their future.
Where does the story go in book two of Architects of the Illusion?
Storm clouds are gathering. If Seed Of Treachery is a bit more insular – most of the action mainly takes place in a single star system – then The Great Scourge is the gateway to a larger, darker, wilder, more dangerous universe.
Earth is long-gone. In a distant future where the endangered species known as humanity has assimilated into a much broader tapestry, the star system of Arela is at the brink of war with itself. What measures are right and wrong in the moral vacuum of space? Join the last vestiges of the human race, the birdlike Arkerians, technological Terraxins and others in the first installment of Architects Of The Illusion. Though the galaxy may be won by the bolts of blasters and forbidden sciences, darkness lurks just beyond the corners of perception…
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