Posted in reviews

Soraia, Child of the Sea by Leen Lefebre Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young girl who dreams of life outside of her castle walls finds solace with a new friend whom she hides her true identity from, but soon discovers another adventure awaits her in Leen Lefebre’s “Soraia, Child of the Sea”. 

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The Synopsis 

On an island in the Atlantic Sea lives Soraia, Princess of the Azores. Father cleaves through the waves with his war fleet but she is never allowed to go along. From her balcony, she dreams of one day sailing those waters herself. Out of sheer necessity, she now finds joy in a book with hero stories.

Soraia soon falls ill with a desire for adventure. The lady-in-waiting and jester agree that she may go explore. A chance to be free presents itself. In the dale, she meets a shepherd boy. After a day together in the mountains, they are in love. But then, totally unexpectedly, King Netuno returns home.

The Review

This was a beautiful and memorable new fantasy tale like no other. The author does an incredible job of crafting a wholly unique story with a classic fairy tale vibe and memorable characters that keep the reader invested throughout the narrative.

Soraia is a fantastic protagonist, who portrays the classic princess stuck in her castle who dreams of a life beyond the home she’s forced to live in. Readers can instantly sympathize with the protagonist as she dreams of adventure and finding her place in the world. The irony of her journey and how it brings her to her dream of life beyond her island and castle, but comes at the cost of losing the relationships she has built over the long years isolated on the island, showcasing that destiny and life often come at the cost of the past we all hold dear to us. 

The Verdict

A short yet beautifully written fairy tale come to life, this Norse-driven mythological story is a must-read for middle graders and up. The characters are wonderfully written, and the theme of isolation, dreams and destiny are explored in-depth and honestly in this tale, making for a truly incredible reading experience. If you haven’t yet grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Leen Lefebre grew up in West Flanders where she works at the Local Heritage Service. As a kid, she threw herself upon each book that was available. Later, she turned around and settled on the worldwide web. She then emerged as a true explorer of literature, music, and sports. Leen is a dreamer and a doer – and this is how her stories rose up as charming and lively fairy tales for adventurers of all ages.

Posted in reviews

’Til the Last Snowflake Falls (The Adventures of Fawn #1) by Al E. Boy Review

A young reindeer seeking a life of excitement and adventure finds more than she bargained for as her adventures soon become more dangerous than she could have ever known in author Al E. Boy’s novel “’Til the Last Snowflake Falls (The Adventures of Fawn #1)”. 

The Synopsis

“I want some fun and excitement! I don’t care how dangerous it is!” Even if your parents are legendary reindeer Comet and Vixen, life can still be pretty boring. Fawn is a precocious youngster who starts sneaking out of the stable every day looking for fun, excitement…and friends. She’ll find them all…but she’s also going to encounter more than her share of danger! 

The Review

The author does a fantastic job of creating a wholly unique and original Middle Grade Action/Adventure story that incorporates both new characters and classic fairy tale and holiday characters readers will know and love. The story focuses on the power of friendship, family and the pros and cons of seeking adventure and a life outside of the one you know. It also highlights the struggles of youth to connect with others and the natural rebellion many children face when they become their own person. 

A mixture of a middle grade action/adventure story that explores the innocence of youth and a rich setting filled with magic and wonder, this story does an excellent job of drawing the reader in and creating a story that both naturally feels like a holiday read and yet could be enjoyed any time of the year. 

The Verdict

A story of exciting adventures, shocking twists and turns and a magical ending that speaks to the nature of this wonderful tale, author Al E. Boy is a natural born storyteller who does a great job of creating fresh new takes on classic characters. With a whole new cast of characters for readers to fall in love with, this is a story you won’t want to miss, so be sure to grab your copy of ’Til the Last Snowflake Falls by Al E. Boy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Through almost 40 years as a Santa Claus, Al E. Boy developed quite a repertoire of tales to explain and answer the many questions children ask about Santa, the North Pole, his reindeer, and his friends, the elves.

It was this collection of tales which prompted him to begin writing The Adventures of Fawn. Through the young daughter of legendary reindeer Comet and Vixen, he’s been able to weave an exciting, colorful, imaginative world which will delight readers of all ages!

Mr. Boy not only hopes you enjoy these tales, but make reading them part of your Christmas traditions, as well.

Additional info: ‘Til the Last Snowflake Falls was awarded the Bronze Medal in Dan Poynter’s 2017 Global E-book Awards, is listed as ‘Recommended Reading’ with The US Review of Books, and was awarded an Honoree Medallion by indieB.R.A.G.. In addition, it has garnered a number of favorable reviews.

Links: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NRZO920

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36291145-til-the-last-snowflake-falls

http://aleboysnowflake.wixsite.com/fawn

Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/The-Adventures-of-Fawn-740272912731782/

Posted in reviews

The Lady Raven: A Dark Cinderella Tale by Rebecca Henry Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The classic tale of Cinderella takes a very dark turn in author Rebecca Henry’s The Lady Raven: A Dark Cinderella Tale. Here is the synopsis.

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The Synopsis 

In The Lady Raven, Rebecca Henry tells the tale of Zezolla, a little princess abandoned by her father into the hands of her evil stepmother and wicked stepsisters. A familiar fairy tale you may think but all is not as it appears. The reader is soon drawn into a web of witchcraft, lies and deceit, and gradually realises that this is no typical fairy tale but a dark and macabre take on one. Zezolla is treated with the utmost cruelty, neglected and vilified, and left to live in the damp cellars of the castle. The only friends Zezolla has are her beloved raven and her pet wolf. Her only comfort lies in the loyalty of the creatures of the forest and her mother’s hazel tree. Will Zezolla have the power to escape her torment and ultimately save herself from the unscrupulous clutches of the king? The Lady Raven is a compelling tale and one that is not for the faint-hearted.

The Review

If George R. Martin and The Brothers Grimm were to retell the story of Cinderella, they would have come up with this tale. It’s a truly dark retelling of the original story, filled with the same elements of the classic fairy tale with added elements of horror, dark fantasy and drama that rarely make their way into modern day retellings. The author does a marvelous job of adopting the same writing style of the classic fairy tale while infusing darker elements that not only play to the story, but bring imagery that reflects the attitudes and views of modern day life.

To read this story is to mirror the way in which women are viewed and treated in our world. While the fantasy elements are more prevalent than anything else, it’s hard to ignore the ways in which the protagonist Cinderella is shown the cruelty of men. From her father’s betrayal to future king’s desire to own and conquer her, she is also shown how women are too often pitted against one another by society, one made so desperate to find their perfect life that they are willing to burn down anyone in their way, much like the evil stepmother and her daughters. 

The Verdict

This was a unique and interesting take on the Cinderella tale. Bringing the subtle horrors the protagonist had to face in her original story to the forefront in a much darker and in your face way, the author beautifully blends the magical fantasy elements of the genre with a look into the cruelty of mankind and the hope that in that darkness, light can find it’s way out into the open once more. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of The Lady Raven: A Dark Cinderella Tale by Rebecca Henry today! 

Rating: 8/10

https://rebeccahenryauthor.blogspot.com/

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About the Author

I am a newly published author with one novel released and another book coming out for publication, in February 2019. I am also a world traveller, living abroad. I have many interests and hobbies in life, besides my greatest passion of all, my family. I am also a vegan, gardener, crafter, and I practice yoga regularly.

Posted in Guest Post

Finding a Co-Author is Finding a Soul Friend (Guest Blog Post by Professor Gore)

I was born into a family of literati.

No one recognized that I had a talent with language because everyone did.  The best evidence of this? At nine months old, I hollered out in the night.  Mother rushed to my bedroom and flipped on the light. I said clearly, “Mommy, let’s visit.”  Instead of realizing how remarkable this utterance was coming from a nine-month-old, she closed her eyes and said, “Dear God, why, oh why did you give me such an annoying child?” She flipped off the light and went back to bed.

The first person to acknowledge and encourage my skill as a wordsmith was my private music teacher and junior high band director, Maestro Wilson.

He would catch the subtlest of quips I would tender during our lessons and laugh out loud.  He would twist them and flip them back at me. I would toss him a pun and he would toss one back.  By ninth grade, band kids would fill his office on Friday afternoons to watch our official pun wars.  We were fierce and worthy opponents.

I adored him and began to think of him as a second father, one who made time for me, while he began to think of me as his daughter.  We became anam cara: soul friends.

Almost as exciting as word playing with Maestro Wilson was that when I was excited about a book, I would give it to him, and he would read it. I gave him O Ye Jigs and Juleps and he laughed and talked about it with me for days.  

He stayed up all night reading the terrifying Rosemary’s Baby after I gave it to him.  We talked about it for weeks like a father and daughter would. I began to see myself through his eyes, and that made me feel like I could be a writer.

I declared English as my major in college.  But my mom’s friend, a first-grade teacher who was like a second mother to me, said, “Millie, only six people in America can make a living as a writer at any one time, and honey, you ain’t one of ‘em.  I’m not going to look across the street when you’re thirty and see you living at home with your parents supporting you because you got a degree in something that you can’t make a living at. You have to change your major to Elementary Education.”

We argued, and argued, and argued, but she refused to go home until I promised I’d change my major to elementary education.  

That ended my dream of becoming a writer.  I became a teacher, and although that wasn’t what I’d wanted to do with my life, I was a great teacher, won awards, was highly valued by my administration, and was adored by most of my students.

Over the years, I sold a few small articles and stories, but teaching is so demanding that I had little energy to devote to writing.  

However, after I finished a doctorate degree at age 40, an academic publisher offered me a contract based on my dissertation.  That first book was followed over the next twenty years by four others for parents and teachers.

But I was yet to write what I was aching to: a picture book for the children of LGBT parents.  I wanted it to be lyrical with a beguiling cadence, filled with metaphor and subtlety, and based on the Hero’s Journey.  A book as much for parents as for children. And I wanted a co-author to share the journey with me.

Only one name came to mind: the teacher who had made words such fun for me. My second father. Maestro Wilson.

Recently widowed, he agreed that we would talk one hour every night, seven nights a week, until the book was complete.  

Over the next months, I taught him about the Hero’s Journey and about same-sex families.  I taught him about character development and how plot grows out of characters rather than characters being forced to fit a plot. I taught him about dialogue and beats, eliminating adverbs and using strong verbs.  

Then we began creating our characters, King Phillip and Don Carlos. We developed the men’s back stories, knew their strengths and vulnerabilities, their triumphs and defeats, how they met and fell in love.  

Maestro Wilson is Hispanic at heart, having grown up in downtown Santa Fe where his brothers of affinity had names like José or Carlos.  He was called Felipe (the Spanish form of Phillip) even by his father, and when he’s tired, lapses into a gentle Spanish accent. So Don Carlos grew from Maestro Wilson’s soul.  

We began creating the Blue Star and baby Milliflora, and although that process was different from creating the men, their essence emerged from my soul.

Every day I’d write based upon what we’d talked about the night before.  Then I would email the maestro what I’d written, and that night, he’d read the draft to me and we’d re-work it. Because he was a musician, his ear for the rhythm of language was magical.  

The next day I would write a new draft based upon our discussion. We continued writing every night for five months until we had created our perfect 1000-word story, All is Assuredly Well.

We have six more books to go in this series.  We’ll have the second book, Most Assuredly Well, ready for our illustrator on January 1.  

The first person ever to recognize my literary skill was my teacher, my soul friend, my second father: Maestro Wilson. I was eleven, and he a grown man with three children and four more to come.  Now, more than a half century later, we’re having the time of our lives writing together. Each book will be one of our legacies to children and families. Our message? The only ingredient necessary to be a family is love.  Shared DNA not required.

 

professorgore

Professor M. C. Gore holds the doctorate in education from the University of Arkansas.  She taught first grade through graduate school for 36 years in New Mexico, Missouri, and Texas.    She was a professional horse wrangler and wilderness guide and continues to play clarinet in two community bands.  She is Professor Emeritus from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas where she held two distinguished professorships. Her books for teachers and parents are shelved in over a thousand libraries throughout the world.  She is retired and lives in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas.