30 April, 2012

#BookReview :: Raising Abel by Carolyn Nash

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The first word that comes to my mind about this book is “Amazing”. There is truly no other word for it.

Being human, we all have dreams & hopes for ourselves and visions of how our lives should be. Sometimes those dreams come true and sometimes they don’t. Carolyn Nash was an ordinary woman like you and me, with her own set of dreams & regrets. One of Carolyn’s regrets was that she did not have a child of her own. This was something she could remedy. She adopted a child who came from a family of parental abuse. This book deals with her journey there on. Dealing with a child is no ordinary task and it gets even harder when the child is dealing with PTSD. Treatment, medicines and therapists become a lifestyle for Carolyn and Abel. Raising Abel also in many ways forces Carolyn to come to terms with her own life and issues.

Often while reading memoirs or autobiographies I question whether the author has been completely truthful? Has this person been honest about his feelings and reactions? But in this particular case, I have no doubt. The author has been able to connect with her audience so well, that I felt that I knew her personally and was able to feel what she felt!

This is sad at places but mostly a heartwarming story that I would recommend everyone to read.

27 April, 2012

#Interview with Robert Swartwood, #Author of The Serial Killer's Wife

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Five years ago Elizabeth Piccioni's husband was arrested for being a serial killer. Her life suddenly turned upside down, she did what she thought was best for her newborn baby: she took her son and ran away to start a new life. 

Now, living in a quiet part of the Midwest with a new identity, Elizabeth is ready to start over. But one day she receives a phone call from a person calling himself Cain. Cain somehow knows about her past life. He has abducted her son, and if Elizabeth wants to save him she must retrieve her husband's trophies -- the fingers he cut off each of his victims. 

With a deadline of one hundred hours, Elizabeth has no choice but to return to the life she once fled, where she will soon realize that everything she thought she knew is a lie, and what's more shocking than Cain's identity is the truth about her husband. 

The Serial Killer's Wife is a 80,000-word thriller in the vein of Jeffery Deaver, John Sanford, and Thomas Harris. It includes a special foreword by Blake Crouch. 

DDS: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
RS: A few years ago I created the term “hint fiction” and then edited the book Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer, published by W. W. Norton. Besides that, I write short stories and novels in many different genres, though my novels tend to lean toward the thriller part of the spectrum.

DDS: What got you into writing?
RS: I’ve always liked reading, and I’ve always liked telling stories. So as I got older and realized that I could still keep doing both, I was thrilled. 

DDS: Tell us about your books
RS: Again, almost all of my books tend to lean toward the thriller part of the spectrum, though some have supernatural elements – like The Calling and The Dishonored Dead – and some are just straight-up action, like my novel No Shelter, which features Holly Lin, who works as a nanny but moonlights as a non-sanctioned government hit woman.
DDS: Tell us about ‘The Serial Killer’s Wife’.
RS: The back-story of The Serial Killer’s Wife is about a woman whose husband has been arrested for being a serial killer. She just had a newborn baby, and to protect herself and her child, she manages to run away to start a new life. The book picks up five years later, as she’s reestablished herself far from home under a new identity. But someone finds her and abducts her son and tells her that if she wants to see her son again, she must retrieve her husband’s trophies – the fingers he cut off each of his victims.

DDS: What was the hardest part while writing this book?
RS: Writing the novel twice. After I had initially pitched it to my agent, I had the idea of having Elizabeth's son get abducted just like in the published version, but that she would be reunited with him almost immediately ... except there would be an explosive collar around his neck. The collar could not be taken off or else it would explode; Elizabeth could not go to the authorities or else it would explode; what's more, there was a timer on the collar that counted down from one hundred hours. The idea was to be a kind of twist on the standard thriller setup; her child was in peril, yes, but this time her child was with her every step of the way. I sent it to my agent and he said he liked it but felt it may be a tad over the top; his main concern was the collar around the son's neck, how bombs don't really have timers on them -- that's more a movie and TV conceit -- and how triggering a bomb isn't as easy as pushing a button. So he said that he would go out with it as is but suggested I revisit that particular point. I am as impatient as any writer, but I am also a perfectionist, so I decided to hold off and revisit the point, and in doing so rewrote most of the novel. But because of this, I ended up cutting out a good chunk and making the novel even tighter and more fast-paced.

DDS: What are your writing pet peeves?
RS: The fact you actually have to do it. Writing is hard.

DDS: Who is your favourite Character? (one of your own creation – published/unpublished)
RS: I think Holly Lin – the female hit woman I mentioned before. The reason I think she’s my favorite is because I wrote the character with the idea of doing a series, so obviously I want to spend a lot more time with her.

DDS: Now time for some fun facts about you. If ‘The Serial Killer’s Wife’ was to be turned into a movie – which Actor/actress would you like to see playing the characters?
RS: I’d probably like to see a lesser-known actress play the role of Elizabeth. Maybe even Elizabeth Banks. She has primarily done a lot of comedies in the past, but it’s been proven time and again many comedic actors can do great in dramas.

DDS: Who is your favourite author & which is your favourite book? I know it is beyond difficult, but you can name only one in each category!!
RS: Stephen King is my favorite author. Lord of the Flies by William Golding is my favorite book.

DDS: One thing readers would be surprised to know about you…
RS: I have sung karaoke. Many times.

DDS: Besides writing, what else do you enjoy?
RS: Reading. Watching movies. Procrastinating.

DDS: What’s next?
RS: I’m currently working on finalizing my thriller The Inner Circle, which is the second book in the Man of Wax trilogy.

DDS: Anything else you would like to say to your readers/fans?
RS: There are millions of books out there, so I feel extremely honored and lucky when someone takes the time to read something I’ve written—and, hopefully, enjoys it enough to try something else of mine. Thank you.

25 April, 2012

#BookReview :: Deadly Reunion by Amy Manemann

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Taci Andrews is an investigative journalist for Riverdale Times. Though she has almost zero happenings in her personal life, there’s a lot happening around her that could make anyone feel a bit overwhelmed. A much dreaded high school reunion, a high profile ‘missing child’ case and a missing colleague isn’t enough. Her ex-flame reenters her life too!

The characterizations are amazing. Taci is a brave, smart, witty and yet sarcastic person. I loved her from the very first moment. Toni is simply great and I might have tried to compete with Traci for his affection, but then Traci and Toni are simply superb together. [Also the fact that Toni is a fictional character might have something to do with me not actually chasing him ;)]

The plot had really great potential which I feel was not completely explored. Things could have gotten a bit more dangerous perhaps? Also, I felt that the characters often had their priorities in a very wrong order. But overall, this is a fast paced romantic thriller with action, drama, suspense and comedy. It is worth a read and quite enjoyable.

23 April, 2012

#BookReview :: The Evernight Series by Claudia Gray

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The Fantasy Series  includes Humans, Human Vampire Hunters, Vampires and Ghosts. It is initially set in Evernight Academy where Bianca arrives with her parents. It is here that she realizes that her destiny is out her control and falls in love with a human Lucas. Over the four books in the series, Bianca and Lucas faces and overcomes a lot of hurdles against all odds. Slowly we are also introduced the concept of Ghosts and the comparison between Vampires and Ghosts is handled very well.

When I started reading this series, I was aware that it was a fantasy series involving Vampires. But the way the author introduces us to the vampires in the novel is just awesome. The story begins as the story of a girl called Bianca and just when you start to forget that this is a fantasy novel with Vampires, Claudia hits you with it! The relationship between Bianca and Lucas is dark and strong. You cannot help but fall in love with them as a couple because even though they are young and so different from each other, they make it work like there are no differences between them.

There are two other characters in the story that I particularly liked. One is Balthazar and the other is Dana. Balthazar is one of the oldest vampires at Evernight Academy. He is a gentleman, a good friend and loves Bianca even though that love is not reciprocated. Through the series we see him as a stable and dependable character. He and Bianca form a very compassionate relationship, that is different yet similar from Bianca & Lucas's relationship. I couldn't help but love and respect Balthazar. Dana on the other hand is a dynamic character. She is introduced to us as Lucas's best friend and an expert Vampire hunter. When Lucas's own family turns against him, Dana stands by and helps him out showing a trait of fierce loyalty to her friend.

Overall, Claudia Gray manages to keep her readers enthralled with her plot and her flow of writing.  This is a must read for all Fantasy novel lovers. I just can't wait to get my hands on her next Novel "Balthazar"!!!

20 April, 2012

#BookReview :: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

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People who know me, knows me as an avid reader who always has her nose stuck to a book. They know me as a person who reads anything that is within reach – hardcovers/paperbacks/pdfs/ePubs… But what most people do not know is that I got hooked to reading because of Agatha Christie. The first book that I ever read (besides fairy tales and school reads) was one of Ms.Marple stories. One read and I wanted more. And even after some 15years, she remains my favourite, not only for introducing me to the world of books but also for each of her works. So when I was asked by a fellow blogger to review an Agatha Christie novel, it was a split seconds decision to do it, and also which book to write about.

“The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” is a Poirot mystery novel. Poirot moves into a new town with the intent of spending his retirement in peace and growing vegetables. However, he soon finds himself involved in the case of Roger Ackroyd’s murder with Dr.James Sheppard as his assistant. This particular story is narrated by Dr.Sheppard and as such is different from the very onset. Being set in a small country village, the plot reveals the lives of the people who are well aware of the scandals in each others lives as their main form of entertainment is gossiping. Overall, there are three deaths that take place to cause disruption in the lives of the people in the village. First, Mrs.Ferrars, followed by Roger Ackroyd and lastly Roger Ackroyd’s butler. The suspects include a small circle of people. First, there is Ralph,Flora’s fiancĂ©e. Then, Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd, Roger's sister-in-law; Major Blunt, a big-game hunter; Geoffrey Raymond, Ackroyd's personal secretary; Ralph Paton, Ackroyd's stepson and Ursula Bourne, the parlourmaid.

Like any other Crime fan, I like to play the detective myself while reading such stories. This case was no exception. Only, I ended up falling for each “red herring” and suspecting a different person in each chapter and never the actual murderer. However, the highlight of the story is a very well placed clue placed at the beginning of the story and the last chapter of this novel is a masterpiece.

Though not her best, this is my favourite Agatha Christie novel and is a must read for any crime/thriller/mystery fan.

Christie revealed in her autobiography that the basic idea and twist in the novel was first given to her by her brother-in-law, James Watts of Abney Hall. In March 1924, Christie also received a letter from Lord Mountbatten, who was impressed by her previous works and write to her with an idea and notes for a story. Mountbatten’s basic premise echoed Watt’s suggestion – Christie acknowledged the letter and began writing the book to her own plotline.

19 April, 2012

#BookReview :: October Breezes by Maria Rachel Hooley

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In the first book itself, we are introduced to the main characters: Skye Williams, Devin Abbott, Kellin Jacobs and Tyler Rutherford. Skye, like any normal teenager, has her own issues. With her father walking out on her when she was a child and her mother's series of boyfriends not sticking around, Skye has problem trusting anybody. The only exception being her best friend Devin Abbott. Warren Jacobs, enters her life as her mother's latest boyfriend and irrespective of her efforts of driving him away, sticks around. As the plot progresses, we see her struggle with her issues, develop a relationship with Kellin and slowly warming up to Warren. Her life is turned upside down at an after-game party and she is forced to make difficult choices. She finds an unexpected ally in Jimmy and works through her feelings for Devin. The book ends with her trying to accept and live with the consequences of her own choices.

The second book starts off five years after the end of the first book and is written from the point of view of Devin. He has been in love with Skye for a long time but due to the circumstances he could never confess it to Skye. He managed to save Skye's life, guides her through her problems and helps her adjust to whatever life throws at them. We also catch a glimpse of Kellin leading us to believe that he has managed to clean up his life. In the end of this installment, Skye and Devin find their happily ever after.

As a reader you cannot help but sympathize with Skye, respect Warren, like Kellin & Jimmy, hate Tyler and absolutely love Devin. Even though the story mainly revolves around Skye, its impossible to not take notice of Devin right from the first chapter of the first book. His love, protectiveness and patience for Skye is bound to touch your heart.

This series of two books touches upon a lot of sensitive subjects. Starting from the relationship between parents and child, the relationship between stepfather and daughter, teenage drinking, rape, abortion and the emotional aftermath of such events. Its a total roller coaster ride as we also see glimpses of love, friendship and fun. Maria Rachel Hooley, the author, has done a fantastic job of capturing all the aspects of life. Her way of story-telling has a natural flow that keeps you hooked onto the story.

This is a must read folks... [Keep your tissues ready!]

18 April, 2012

#BookReview :: The House of Order by John Paul Jaramillo

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‘The House of Order’ is a collection of short stories. I guess it would be more appropriate to describe it as a collection of snippets off the Ortiz family saga. The Ortiz family is highly dysfunctional as the men are abusive and the women strive to have a normal life. Manito is one of the most important characters and is featured in almost all the stories.

The writer’s style of writing and his language is quite unique. I have not had an opportunity to read anything like this before and thus it was a new experience for me – one that I enjoyed thoroughly. John has put a healthy dose of Spanish words in it and so I had to keep the online translator open and constantly refer to it. I have learnt quite a few new words! The equations between each character are different and mostly enjoyable.

The only negative part about the book is that sometimes it gets too confusing to understand who is narrating the story. Otherwise this is quite a wholesome book that is bound whet the appetite of a wide range of bookworms.

Disclaimer: I received a free book from the author & Novel Publicity in exchange for a fair review.

16 April, 2012

#Interview with C.M.Gray, #Author of Shadowland

‘I have lived more years than I can remember, probably more than the sum of all your years combined. Kings have called me friend and brigands have sworn to burn the flesh from my bones even if they have to search all seven halls of the shadowland to find me.’

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On the night of midwinter’s eve, a storyteller takes his listeners back to the Dark ages and a tale from his youth.

Deserted by its Roman masters, Britain has been invaded by the Saxons at the invitation of Vortigern, traitorous leader of the Britons. Now, as the tribes unite to reclaim their land, one man must rise to lead them and become their true and only king.

DDS: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
CMG: Hi! And thanks for the opportunity of this interview. Okay, I’m an Englishman, but I left England when I was just 17 and have lived in about 20 different countries since then, doing jobs as diverse as church organ restoration to venture capital. I love different cultures and use a lot of the experiences I’ve had in my writing. For the last 12 years I’ve been living in Barcelona Spain with my Dutch wife and two children, Dylan who is 11and Yasmin who will soon be 7.

DDS: What got you into writing?
CMG: I’m a voracious reader. It takes me about 3 - 4 days to finish an average size book. I love books and the journey they can take you on. Most readers will say that a good book is so much better than a good film that has been based upon the book because with the book, you get to use your imagination.  I always heard that we all have a book inside us, so one day I sat at my laptop and thought, let’s give it a try. It turns out the only thing better than reading a book is writing a book! Writing is when your imagination really gets to fly. It does help if you can type as fast as your imagination flows!

I always start without any idea where the story is going and just watch as the idea forms. For instance, the first line I ever typed for a book was The floorboard creaked under the sole of his felt boot - a calculated risk whenever entering a sleeping man's room uninvited. It’s the first line from ‘The Flight of the Griffin’ which will be published next month. I wrote the line and felt the story bursting to come out. Whose felt boot? Why felt? Who is the sleeping man and why is someone entering his room? So, your question was what got me into writing? An over active imagination and thirst for adventure!

DDS: ‘Shadowland’ is your first publication, right? How does it feel to be a ‘Published Author’?
CMG: Shadowland is actually my second book. The first was The Flight of the Griffin but there are reasons why I chose to publish Shadowland first. I love being a published author, knowing that people are being drawn through the story that I cooked up.  Like most authors I crave feedback, any feedback. Imagine cooking an incredible meal, people come and eat it, you wonder if they like it, then they stand up and walk away without offering any comments. Of course you want them to say they loved the meal, but if they merely say it had too much salt then at least you can add less next time! If you read my books, please leave a review, or if you think there’s too much salt just send me a message saying, less salt next time! (Thanks so much in advance!)

DDS: Oh! I just saw the cover for 'The Flight of the Griffin' on your blog! Its amazing... Coming back to 'Shadowland' - tell us a bit about the book.
CMG: Shadowland starts with a storyteller entertaining a crowd of people one stormy midwinter’s night. It unwinds into an Arthurian legend. It’s actually the story of Uther Pendragon, father of Arthur Pendragon, he of the Knights of the Round Table, the sword Excalibur, and of course Merlin the Magician. In the prologue, the storyteller is prompted into parting with a story of his youth. He tells of the dark ages in Britain when the Romans are leaving and Saxon invaders threaten the native tribes. Two boys return to their village to find it being raided by Saxon and Pict warriors. Hostages are taken and the boys give chase. You will be introduced to Merlin and the lady of the lake, be party to the discovery of Excalibur and meet some pretty crazy druids!  The title Shadowland describes two things; Firstly the shadows in our knowledge of the dark ages - very few written records exist of that time, and secondly, it refers to the shadowland between life and death, because death may not be as final as some people think....

DDS: What was the hardest part while writing this book?
CMG: The hardest part in the writing process is the editing. The writing part is a joy, but then you have to edit and edit and edit. I must have read Shadowland at least thirty times! But then it’s a great book so I don’t mind so much! After the editing comes the formatting... sometimes line by line... I now know a lot about formatting now but it has been an education!

DDS: I bet! What are your writing pet peeves?
CMG: My pet peeves in the writing world are... agents and publishers... sorry any agents and publishers that read this. I know you are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing the books you work with but come on! Treat us like human beings!

DDS: [Ahem! I hope note taken] What were your sources of inspiration while naming the characters? And who is your personal favourite?
CMG: I spend a lot of time looking for names. I use naming sites, name engines and then when working on Shadowland I used a lot of known names from the time. Several of my least favourite from Shadowland are actually the correct names for the people at the time. Uther Pendragon had an elder brother named Ambrosius... don’t like the name, but I used it because he was really there! Same with Vortigan, rebel leader of the tribes before Ambrosius shows up. My favourite character is actually Cal. He has a certain affinity with wolves that was fun to write about and makes him an interesting figure. He also is the one who enters the Shadowland....

DDS: Interesting. Now time for some fun facts about you. If ‘Shadowland’ was to be turned into a movie – which Actor/actress would you like to see playing the characters?
CMG: Okay, my problem is that I watch a lot of films but have no idea who the actors are... I know a few names but that won’t help much. I would quite like the idea of using previously unknown actors and indie music writers for the score.

DDS: Can I suggest you "The Weepies" for the music? I love them. But this is about you. So, who is your favourite author & which is your favourite book? I know it is beyond difficult, but you can name only one in each category!!
CMG: This is tough, I have several favourite authors but... Bernard Cornwall and his book ‘The Last Kingdom.’

DDS: How about your favourite drink and a fun incident tied to it?!
CMG: Lots of drinks but I was too drunk to remember!

DDS: :) :) :) One thing readers would be surprised to know about you…
CMG: Surprised to know .... hmmmm. Been bitten by a snake ... no .... jumped out of a plane or dived down over 50 Metres to a wreck .... no, how about, I was once a millionaire but lost it all?

DDS: Besides writing, what else do you enjoy?
CMG: I love reading, of course. I play guitar and sing ... not very well but I enjoy it! I love looking up at the stars with a telescope, searching for galaxies and spotting planets. I enjoy cooking, especially Indian food! I enjoy making my kids laugh and I enjoy adventure!

DDS: Aha! I'll drop by for a meal then... I know you’ve visited India long time back. Any memories you would like to share?
CMG: I was nineteen years old and working as a carpenter in London. The work I was doing was outside in a London winter starting at 7am each morning. I was freezing cold and not a happy guy. I finished my contract and went into a travel agent ‘I want to go somewhere hot... a one way ticket’. They sent me to Bombay, or so it was called at the time.
I didn’t want to stay in the city, I wanted a beach to lay on so I could soak up the sun and defrost my bones! So I went straight to the ferry and got a boat down to Goa. I had never ever had spicy food up until I searched for something to eat on that boat. I remember going deep down inside to the galley, not recognising the thali tray as it was thumped down in front of me. I waited ages for someone to give me a knife and fork! Wow! I learnt fast!
I spent the first month of my stay on Colva beach in Goa trying to get my stomach under control. I stayed in your wonderful country for eight months, and when I eventually went back to the UK, only because I ran out of money. I slathered hot sauce and spices onto everything because I couldn’t taste the bland English cooking without spice! I’m still a little like that. When I moved to Spain there were no good Indian restaurants, so I bought a few books and did my best to learn. One day I will return to India with my family, I’m trying to get them ready but my son, Dylan still prefers pizza so he may suffer as I once did!

DDS: We get pizza's here now. We have Dominoes, Pizza Hut and even U.S Pizza. And, some of them even offer 'Desi' Pizzas. When can we expect the next book?
CMG: The Flight of the Griffin is now finally through the editing and formatting and I am coming up with a cover design. It should be available on Amazon and Smashwords about the time you are reading this! I’m now writing the sequel to The Flight of the Griffin as I had such a blast writing it, that one is called Chaos Storm and will be out early next year.

DDS: Anything else you would like to say to your readers/fans?
CMG: Firstly thank you for reading this and thanks so much to Debdatta for putting this interview together. I would urge anyone that loves to read, to write. Don’t do it for money or fame, there isn’t much of that! Do it because it’s a blast, a journey and a release of your creative juices! I would also ask you all to review anything you read, especially by us indie authors. Writers need feedback and you don’t get honest feedback from friends and family! If you loved a book, tell the world on Amazon or Goodreads. If you hate something or think it was badly edited then tell the author by email. Thanks for reading this, I hope you will try reading Shadowland and The Flight of the Griffin, ‘cos I want to get into your head!

I don't know about me getting into writing... but I will surely be reading Shadowland soon (Thanks for the book!). 

And Guess What? You can too. C.M.Gray has kindly offered to Giveaway 10 copies of his book. Isn't that awesome? All he wants in exchange is that if you like the book, then post a review on Amazon and/or on Goodreads. 

So here are the rules for this Giveaway:
  • Please, if you like the book, then try and post a review of it.
  • There is one mandatory entry for following b00k r3vi3ws via GFC/Networked Blogs/Linky, and then there are optional extra entries. These are entirely optional, but they could mean the difference between you winning, or someone else taking the prize.
  • When I email the winner, they will have 48 hours to reply to the email with confirmation.
  • Please don't leave your email address anywhere in the comments on the blog. I am using  rafflecopter to keep your details safe, so please take advantage of that!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

15 April, 2012

#BookReview :: Farsighted (Farsighted #1) by Emlyn Chand

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Alex Kosmitoras (Pronounced Caas-me-toe-rh-aas as insisted by Alex) was born blind and at fifteen he has adjusted to life well enough. Depending upon his other senses, he can get through school, homework – pretty much everything. But he is treated like an outcast, a freak at school because of his handicap. Well, that seems to be like the life of any blind person, right? Only Alex is different. He has visions of present and future! You may say that it is ridiculous – how can a blind person, who has never seen the light of the day, have visions? Well, like everything else, Alex’s visions are also dependent upon his other senses – he hears and feels it rather than ‘seeing’ them. It’s ironic that he should have the ‘second sight’ when he has always been deprived of the first!

His life was set. A loving and coddling mother, a father who is nice to him only when his mom is around, zero friends and the school bully’s favourite target! But everything changes when Simran Shergill arrives in the town and enrolls in his school. She is sweet and empathetic. She befriends him and his life takes a turn. He enjoys having a friend and even has feelings for Simmi and they certainly have ‘CHEMISTRY’ together ;). That is when he starts getting visions and that too visions of someone mortally hurting Simmi. What option does he have other than finding that person and trying to prevent the whole episode? So, Alex along with his dad (oh! did I mention that he has his own secrets?) Simmi, Shapri and Miss Teak, embarks on an adventure that is going to influence everyone around them.

I love the characters in this novel. They are truly lovable. The plot is amazing and so is the flow of the story. Towards the beginning I did feel that it was a bit slow, but later on I realized that the details were necessary for us understand how the characters think and feel and also the dynamics of the relationships. But what I love the most about this book is that at the beginning of each chapter there are one or two lines written that set the mood for the chapters. It’s simply unique and genius of Emlyn!

14 April, 2012

#GuestPost by Mona Schmitt, the Author of The Incredible Shrinking Bully

At what point does teasing become bullying?  There is lighthearted teasing and joking around.  Little boys will tease little girls they like because they are trying to get their attention and understand their own feelings.  Sometimes people just don’t mesh and are unkind to one another.  These situations are opportunities to help deal with and learn about the realities of life and aren’t really bullying.   I think for the most part, you let it roll off your back…..it’s a part of life.  But when it becomes a persistent, day after day event in someone’s life -- that is when it becomes a problem.  When it begins to effect how a person values his or herself -- that is when it has gone too far.    

No person should be made to feel so hopeless that they can think of no other solution than to check out of life, literally or figuratively. 

I had no idea when writing The Incredible Shrinking Bully, that it would allow me the opportunity to connect with some wonderful people.  I have had the opportunity to be in contact with people who have been horribly bullied themselves and they have shared how it has shaped their lives.  I have also had the opportunity to connect with parents of kids who have been or are being bullied.  The stories and the feelings are heartbreaking.

What is the solution to bullying?  I don’t know.

When I wrote the book, my hope was to give parents and educators an opportunity to start a dialogue about it at an early age, in hopes that awareness could prevent potential problems in the future.

 Do you agree with they way Bart handled the situation?  Maybe, maybe not. 

A few parents raised concerns when Bart considered hitting the bully back.  Bart had a true and natural reaction, but the parents have a fair and valid concern.  It’s the perfect opportunity to share your thoughts with your kids and even more important, take the opportunity to ask your kids what they think and what they are feeling. 

Where do you draw the line?  At what point do you teach your children to stick up for themselves and not allow someone to make them a victim?  I’m of the opinion that you do not teach your children to fight, but it is your responsibility to teach your children to defend themselves.  Defending themselves does not have to entail “violence”.  Defending themselves could include verbal tools, safety in numbers, self defense, etc.

Ideally, your child will tell you or another trusted adult
…..but sometimes they don’t. 
Sometimes kids are too embarrassed to tell anyone.  The bully may have threatened to harm them if they do tell anyone.

Ideally, the school will get involved and put an end to the situation
….but sometimes they don’t.   Many schools now have zero tolerance policies, but that has to be enforced in order to work.  One mother told me that when they reported it to the school, it only made the situation worse.  Her child is 8 years old and has been continually called names, been spit on, has been hit, etc.  Another parent told me, the school did very little to deal with the bullying.  His parents needed to keep pushing and pushing until an incident took place and they threatened to have the police involved.   Only then did the school begin to take action.  Another child was choked on the school bus.  I was told those schools have zero tolerance policies on bullying.  If you watch the news, you’ll find these are not isolated incidents.

In our minds, there are ideal ways for our children to handle things, but it’s not an ideal world, or this wouldn’t even be a topic of discussion.

Upon reading this book, it offers a perfect opportunity to address how you feel and an even better opportunity to ask your children how they feel.  At the end of the book, I have included a page entitled, Let’s Talk About What You Think.  There are ten questions to help start a conversation about bullying and it gives you the opportunity to share your thoughts on how to handle it.  One mother reported that when she finished reading the book with her daughter, her daughter began to tell her about things taking place at school and her mother knew nothing about them.   Sometimes it just takes opening the door. 

I was made aware of a resource available for teens being bullied and wanted to share the link:
It’s seems to be a great support system for older kids.

The Incredible Shrinking Bully was published by Chick-E Limited.

Chick-E’s website can be found at


13 April, 2012

#BookReview :: The Secret of Spruce Knoll by Heather McCorkle

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Can I start by saying that I love the name ‘Spruce Knoll’? At first I thought that it was just weird! A place called Spruce Knoll! But by the end of the book -- I love it. Before I tell you why, let me tell you a bit more about the book and the storyline.

The story revolves around Eren and Aiden. Eren, whose parents are recently killed, moves to Spruce Knoll to live with her aunt.  Moving from a big city to a small town, Eren was in for surprises. But the basic difference was nothing compared to the much darker secrets of the town and the people living in it. But it is also where she first meets Aiden. Also an orphan, Aiden had grown up with his adoptive family and had a few secrets of his own. Together, Eren and Aiden work through whatever is thrown at them.

The best part of the story is, not the plot and not the magic (though I loved them both) but the relationships portrayed. Eren and Aiden’s relationship is totally ‘dreamy’ (that’s the only word I can come up with to try and explain it) and Eren’s relationship with her aunt is also amazing. Now coming to the second and third best parts of the story, the plot is just amazing and so is the magic described in this book. It is only after coming to Spruce Knoll that Eren realizes that she has magical ability. I love the way Heather has developed her character and portrayed her dealing with this ‘gift/ability’. Besides the protagonists, the author has also created a few very lovable characters – like Sylvia and Fane.

I had started reading this book with the thought – a place called ‘Spruce Knoll’ – seriously? But now I love it simply because it has grown on me along with the characters and the plot of the book. It’s unique and special, just like the book!

#BookReview :: Born of Fire by Heather McCorkle

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I came across the Channeler’s Series through Christine Fonseca’s blog and it immediately caught my attention. So when I saw that the Prequel to the series was available for free on Smashwords, I downloaded it.

The first thing that caught my attention was the name “Born of Fire” and it made me curious. The amazing book cover managed to only increase my interest in the series.  I mean – look at it – isn’t it gorgeous? By the time I was done reading the summary of the book and little bit about the series, I was hooked.

Aiden, the protagonist of the series, has special talents. While still in his mother’s womb, he made it very eminent that he was special and powerful. He was hunted even before he was born because of a prophecy. His parents were on the run in order to protect themselves from the hunters. Eventually the hunters caught up to them and they fought valiantly. But in the end it was just not enough! We are also given a glimpse of Aiden’s life with his adoptive family where there’s no love lost. But the last line of book, [“Never. Someday I’ll defeat you.”], gives us an idea about his strong will and character

Heather has managed to put in so much in those few pages that I am simply in awe of it. So much emotion, action, love and betrayal and all in just 33 pages without overwhelming the reader – it is indeed an amazing feat.