Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling

by Aya Ling
YA Fairy Tale Retelling
452 Pages

When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she’s magically transported into the world of Cinderella–as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she’ll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?


What a unique twist on Cinderella! Kat is actually a really sweet, very caring teenage girl, so when she gets stuck in a place where only playing out the role of the ugly stepsister will let her return home, she's got quiet the quest on her hands. I wondered right away how she was going to go against her own being and help Cinderella find her Prince Charming. The result is a bunch of unexpected twists and surprises.

It took me a few pages to get into this simply because the first chapters felt a little if it still needed a little work. But after that, I was grabbed up in Kat's world and couldn't let go. Kat is a wonderful character, full of heart and strength and good sense. . .even if she does some spontaneous things at times. It's easy to love her and cheer for her as she hit the realm where she's captive in unexpected and earth-shattering ways. 

The fairy tale world is easy to dive into, the descriptions bringing it to life. Although it takes part in a whole different reality, there's still bits of our modern world thrown in, making it that much more fun to be apart of. Of course, there's all the wonderful dresses and foods and parties and all those rich things a Cinderella would never have been able to take part in. I enjoyed getting lost in this high-society world.

The plot runs along nicely, never missing a beat. The author throws in all sorts of twists which added a lot of depth and dimension to the traditional story. There were times where the twists were extremely predictable (and it was hard to believe Kat couldn't see it), but many came out of nowhere and were nice surprises. I especially enjoyed the added bits of magic and could practically feel the fairy dust by the end as everything slid into place. The ending was not unexpected, and felt a little too familiar, but it was still fun to read.

I was a little disappointed at the end, but there's nothing really wrong with it--more a matter of personal taste. Maybe my disappointment came because I'd grown to like Kat that much.

Summed up, this is a great twist on Cinderella and while it adds a lot of new twists and original ideas to the story, there's also enough from the original tale to make the entire thing feel familiar.  I can only recommend it to fairy tale retelling fans who dream of happy ever afters.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: Never Been Texted by Linda Joy Singleton with Giveaway


by Linda Joy Singleton
Leap Books: Surge
YA Romance
168 pages

When Ashlee’s stepdad completely forgets her birthday she takes matters into her own hands to get the one thing she really wants: her own cell phone. But text messages start rolling in from a broken-hearted boy, and though Ashlee knows not all stories end happily, she’s determined to make hers the best it can be.
99 cent Pre-Order Sale Links:


“Things have been weird lately.” I meet his gaze. “Do you believe in magic?”
“Is that a trick question? Or part of the tour?”
“No trick.” I glance up at the gray-blue sky where clouds ripple like ocean waves, as if the world has flipped upside-down.
“Seriously, magic?” Derrick laughs but not in a mocking way, more like he’s really considering what I’ve asked. “Have to say no. Turn on the news and all you see is violence and tragedies. My tutors are big on world history, so I know more than I want to about wars that destroyed civilizations. If there really was magic, people wouldn’t be so cruel to each other.”
“Cynical much?”
“I’m a realist.” He shrugs, his tone matter-of-fact. “Still it would be cool if I could believe in something like magic.”

“Stick around,” I say, thinking of the phone in my pocket. “You never know what might happen.”


I'm always a sucker for fairy tale re-tellings, and this one is as sweet as can be. Ashlee is a teenager who is ready to fight for things when she believes it's worth it. That she wants a cell phone is something teens will easily relate too and sympathize with--how terrible not to have one, especially when your own dad forgets your birthday! But Ashlee is a twit about it either. She works to get things, but is never mean or tries to step on people's toes. She's very open to other's feelings, and one can only wish that all of her dreams come true.

The side main character (if there is such a thing) is a super, cute dog. I loved reading about Toffy and her little tricks. She alone makes this book worth taking a look at.

Of course, there's bad guys - a wonderful, jerky girl at high school who wants to control everything. And Ashlee's best friend is true blue, in some ways opposite to Ashlee, but by doing this, the author reinforces Ashlee's character.

There's also romance, but not the right and out kind one often sees in YA. This is sweet, and not really clear that it's even there. Although Ashlee is head over heels, she goes at it with friendship first--very refreshing.

My most favorite part of this book is the mixture of magic. It's subtle, and yet not so. It reminded me of pink glitter and butterflies...perfect for a Cinderella story. The descriptions and fantasy are fun and have just the right amount of childhood glee. But this isn't a complicated read either. At 168 pages, it's easy to finish in a few hours and doesn't have much room for heavy descriptions. The writing is kept simple, the plot and ideas as well, making this a pure fairy tale without any strings or weight attached. I recommend it more for tweens (kids ages 10 to 13.)

And here she is. . .

When she was 8, she wrote animal stories and by age 14 she was writing mystery novels.  In 1986,  she had the unique experience of co-writing a mystery, THE TALKING SNOWMAN, with her favorite childhood author, Margaret Sutton (Judy Bolton mysteries).  Her goal was to have a mystery series of her own that that happened in 1994: MY SISTER THE GHOST series/Avon Camelot Books.  Recently she’s crossed genres to publish her first picture book, SNOW DOG, SAND DOG (Albert Whitman 2014). 
When Linda isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, movies, country walks, camping, bowling and reality shows (she’s never missed a season of Survivor, Amazing Race or Big Brother). She also collects vintage girl series mysteries like Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton and Trixie Belden and in 2014 spoke at a Nancy Drew convention.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: Connected by Kat Stiles

by Kat Stiles
Wild Child Publishing
YA Paranormal Romance
257 pages

High school is hard enough, Em knows. Her freshman year introduced her to all the cliques, annoying teachers, and tough homework assignments. But discovering you have super powers and not knowing how to control them is a whole new level of complicated.

Thankfully, Em isn’t alone. Her best friend Roz starts having unusual dreams that come true, and Tommy, Em’s secret crush, can hear the softest whispers in class.

A romance blossoms with Tommy. But just as things are looking up, people start dropping like flies. A telepathic serial killer is on the loose and only Em and her friends have a hope of stopping him.

Or do they? If they don’t figure out the killer’s identity soon, one of them could be next.​

Like many kids in high school, Em's fighting to stay afloat in the teenage social world. Her hands sweat, she's not as gorgeous as some of the other girls, and one of the more popular girls seems to have it in for her. Em's knee deep in every day high school life, and this is something many teens will have no trouble relating to. Of course, Em isn't completely going under; she has a best friend who sticks to her through thick and thin. And this is a stabilizing element that holds throughout the book.

Friendship is a main string in the otherwise uncertain world that Em's facing and a strong message at that. In the first chapters, Em learns through a tense scene that she (and others) have special powers. Her quick acceptance of this came across naturally, and it was encouraging to see her friend's easy acceptance of it as well. But then, no matter what happened, Em and her friends stuck together and had each other's backs. It was heart-warming to see this type of bond.

The other bond is more of a romantic one, and this relationship is brought over with just the right douse of tension. Tommy's entrance is intriguing but not necessarily love at first sight (which I appreciated). The relationship between the two builds slowly, leaving room for tension, insecurity and anticipation. The story remains clean, only getting a little steamier towards the end. Tommy's got his quirks, but he's a hero girls can drool for.
The author does a great job building the world and Em's predicament in the first chapters. I was swept away into the pages right away and had no trouble cheering for Em from the very beginning. The action moves along nicely, and I never had the urge to skip over a few paragraphs. There were twists and turns with just enough description to make the world visible and sink right in. The first part of this book really pulled me in.

The rest of the book kept up the action, deepened the danger and really brought it on. However, there were several plot hiccups and small holes which broke the flow for me just a bit. Some spots stayed a a bit too superficial and should have dug in a little deeper, and some of the twists weren't as unexpected as they could have been. Still, I enjoyed reading this and when I did set it down for the night, had no trouble picking it up the next day to find out how the entire thing turned out.
I am looking forward to seeing how Em's story continues in the next book and can recommend this  to any young adult fans of paranormal romance who love a douse of fun superpowers. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Review: Aoléon The Martian Girl Part 4 by Brent LeVasseur with Giveaway


The Martian Girl Part 4

by Brent LeVasseur

Aoléon Press

Middle Grade 

Science Fiction

147 pages

Having foiled the Luminon’s plot to disrupt the Martian galact supply, Aoléon and Gilbert join forces with Bizwat – a Procyon commando who poses as a pizza delivery guy, and Helios – a first-generation soldierbot. They flee the Martian megalopolis aboard a flying saucer with the Luminon’s paladin guards in fast pursuit. 

Their luck quickly goes from bad to worse. Their saucer is blown out of the sky, and they crash deep in the forbidding Martian desert, more than a thousand miles away from their intended destination. 

Battling starvation, thirst, and a Klyklon dust storm (not to mention a giant slor intent on swallowing them whole), will our two intrepid heroes live long enough to reach the secret base where Aoléon’s parents are being held captive? 

Dive into part four of Aoléon the Martian Girl to find out!


Now, in book four, we find the earthling, Gilbert, and his Martian friendAoléon, in all sorts of trouble. Earth is about to be invaded, Aoléon's parents are being held prisoner and about to be executed, and our heroes crash in a forbidden desert. 

The first pages of this book start with Aoléon's mother and her imprisonment. The story dives right in where book 3 left off. Unlike the first three books, I didn't get to read this one until two weeks after completing book 3 and would really have liked to have one or two sentences to help get back into the flow. But there's absolutely no back information, so I highly recommend reading these books back to back to keep the story fresh in mind.

The first chapters bounce around from one scene and character to the next...from Aoléon's mother to the Luminon's to Earth to Bizwat. This definitely keeps the action going and feels a lot like changing movie scenes. There's no time for boredom - important for readers of this age group - and descriptions are added only when they're really needed. Still, it's no problem to picture the Martian world and the characters.

This is where the wonderful illustrations come in. Exactly then where needed most, the illustrations enhance the story and add a perfect touch. I especially enjoyed the 'chirons' and found myself wishing I could ride one as well.

The writing, situations and dialogue are in general well suited for kids ages 9 +. There are several descriptions that will probably go right over kids' heads and some of the humor seems more directed toward adults (and I do know several adults who love this series), but in general, I can see kids loving it. The characters are coming more to life with each book and especially Gilbert is growing on me. A few of the other characters aren't gaining as much depth and lack emotion, but then, this is more about fast-paced, galactic fun then digging deep.

In other words, I'm glad I've come so far and can't wait to dive into book 5 to see how our heroes survive.


In LeVasseur's debut middle-grade sci-fi novel, a friendly extraterrestrial girl whisks a Nebraska farm boy away for a wild adventure of Martian intrigue, rebellion and invasion." -Kirkus Reviews


The Martian Girl Song!

Another World - Single

Featuring Élan Noelle

Download on iTunes

And here he is. . . 

Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Connect with Brent:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Aoléon: The Martian Girl 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Free Excerpt: A Pirate's Time Served by Chris Malburg

Enforcement Division #4
by Chris Malburg
Middle Grade Fantasy
232 pages
ages 9+

Careful what you wish for...

Sarah Schilling’s twelve year-old brother is wicked smart. But this? Pure genius. Brian snagged an invitation to spend the summer with their favorite aunt and uncle on St. Croix. Uncle Jack tells them, “There will probably be some swimming, some diving. We like to run. There’s a range, so maybe you’ll learn to shoot. Cooking. Your Aunt Helen is a classically trained chef. You knew that, right? There’s the Mallard seaplane, so maybe you’ll learn something about flying. That sort of thing.”

That sort of thing sounds like too much work for Sarah Schilling’s summer on the beach. Until Brian’s scuba regulator mysteriously fails sixty feet underwater. Her training snaps into laser focus. During Brian’s rescue they unearth the 250 year-old secret of Black Bart—the pirate and his ghost. The discovery launches them into a hurricane of peril at the hands of modern-day pirates. The Schilling family will not survive unless Brian and Sarah discover the most powerful weapon that is within themselves.

A Pirate’s Time Served is a YA thriller of a ghost story. It shows how two teens can dig deeper than they thought possible, discovering what it means to lead, to follow, and to never ever give up—especially on family.

A Pirate’s Time Served is my third novel. I wrote it while attending Stanford’s Writers School, Continuing Education. My second novel, God’s Banker, reached number eight on Amazon’s suspense list. I have also written eleven business books published by Simon & Schuster, Putnam, McGraw-Hill, Wiley, and Adams.


“Nice job, Jack,” says Helen as she pulls back the fluffy white summer
comforter on her side of their bed. Then she pulls Jack’s T-shirt—the one with US
Navy stenciled in gold on the front—over her head, sets it on the bed-side table
and climbs in beside her husband. She sinks into bed with a comfortable sigh after
a long day.
“What do you mean?”
Helen turns on her side, facing her husband, “I mean how you concocted your
legend of Black Bart the pirate.” She chuckles as she squirms in up against Jack.
“Planting that antique metal box with an animal skin treasure map inside. Then
bringing Bill in for credibility. Priceless.”
“Bill is an expert on Caribbean pirates,” says Jack.
“That’s what is so perfect about casting him. What I don’t understand is how
you managed to get Brian’s air turned off this afternoon. Sara’s in on it, right?”
Out the open window the full moon cast a silvery shine like a ribbon-straight
road on the water as it leads straight into Bart’s Cove. “Hon, the legend of Black
Bart is a historical fact. Neither Bill nor I are cast members and nobody planted
the metal box that Brian and Sarah found this afternoon.”
Helen lies there and says, “I checked on the kids. Right now Brian and Sarah
are both sitting at the kitchen table mapping out how they’re going to get Bart’s
treasure. Can you imagine?” But she is talking to an empty bed. Jack has already
left for the kitchen.
“What might you be havin’ in mind there, laddy?” asks Jack in his
guttural pirate’s voice.
I lay down my pencil. “Well, I’m thinking, what does Bart want?”
“He wants to kill us,” says Jack, “he’s tried twice already.”
“If he wanted us dead he’d have done it by now,” says Sarah. “Underwater is
a dangerous place. He could have done it any number of ways.”
“Then what?” asks Jack.
We’re sitting under the soft light of the lamp hanging over the kitchen table.
Sounds of splashes from the fish jumping in the lagoon come through the open
window. A warm breeze blows in off the ocean. I start, “Bart is just scaring us. He
really wants us to just leave him alone. But now we have something that belongs
to him—”
“The metal box with his treasure map,” says Jack.
“Exactly,” I reply. “And he wants it back. So let’s give it to him.”
Uncle Jack raises an eyebrow. “Don’t you want to find his treasure?”
“Brian thinks we can get Bart to help us find it if we ask politely—”
“The map may not be accurate,” I say. “Back then pirates were not map
“Cartographers,” corrects Jack.
“Right. Look here, Bart’s map only shows three islands out there and he
didn’t name them.”
“He buried his treasure on three islands to spread his risk,” says Jack.
Sara says, “Yes, but there are other islands in this part of the Caribbean. We
checked the naval charts. There’s St. Thomas and St. John, of course. Then there
are Saba, Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, Martinique, St.
“Got it,” says Jack. He scans the map again. “Bart’s three islands all could be
about the same distance from our cove as any of the closer islands. We don’t
“Right,” I say. “But we three know someone who does.”
Uncle Jack nods his head, “Black Bart. So we need him to interpret his own
“Listen to my theory,” I say. “Bart made this map for himself in case he
forgot. He probably figured he would never forget which islands he used, so he
didn’t label them on the map. Once we find the correct islands, his notes of
direction and distance from shore look pretty good. It’s just finding the right
islands that’s the problem.”
“So how are you two going to enlist the late Bartholomew Roberts’ help?
What’s in it for him?”
“Brian and I thought we’d just ask him.”
“Sarah is right,” I agree. “What’s in it for him is a chance to spend his
Uncle Jack lays his hands on the table, “He’s a ghost. He can’t spend his
“We’ll do it for him,” reasons Sarah. “We’ll take his share and spend it on
something really good. He can’t use a fancy car or a boat or any earthly
possession really. But maybe we’ll use his share to build a school or a hospital if
we find enough of his loot. It’ll give him a new place to hang out.”
My Uncle Jack sits there staring at the map, then at both Sarah and me. For a
long time no one speaks. The two dogs, Carrie and Dove, suddenly jump up from
their dog beds. The sharp knock on the door makes all three of us jump. Then the
back door creaks open. Both dogs stand there wagging their tails in greeting.
“I saw your light from across the cove,” says Bill Lama. “I was too agitated
to sleep. Figured you were too. So I thought I’d come over. What’s up?”
I run through my idea of enlisting Bart’s help to find his treasure and what we
might do with it once we find it.
Bill sits there listening. When we finish he asks, “How do you intend to
communicate with Bart?”
“Ah, we haven’t got that far.” Then I ask, “How do you talk to a pirate
The air from my tank hisses into the air hose. I glance down at my dive
watch—midnight. The full moon lights up the dock and the lagoon before us in a
silvery glimmer. Still, it’s creepy. Uncle Jack turns on the underwater lights.
Suddenly I can see the bottom stretch out into the lagoon. There is Merryweather,
sitting upright and bathed in a white glow. All of her corals look like brightly
colored overgrown decorations—orange, purple, red, blue. What must she look
like from the air, all lit up at night? We are four divers doing a night dive to talk
with a ghost.
Bill already has his tank and fins on. He’s sitting there on the edge of the
dock, fins hanging over the side into the water with his mask resting on his
forehead. “Here’s what we’re out to accomplish,” he says. “First, as young Brian
said, we’re returning Bart’s metal box with his treasure map back to where he
found it. Since Brian took it, he’s the one returning it.”
“Then, we’re going to try communicating with Bart’s ghost. It may not work.
Probably won’t. But we’re going to give it a try.
“I need you to believe, really believe that Bart’s ghost exists. Our intentions
are pure—we’re returning something we should not have taken in the first place.
Keep thinking that way. There must be kindness in your heart. We are here on a
mission to help Bart’s ghost. Notice any cold or warm places when we’re down
there on Merryweather. Let me know if you get tingles or prickles on the back of
your neck. If you get scared or apprehensive, let me know that too. Above all,
listen. It’ll be noisy down there with your bubbles and the fish making their
sounds. But listen for anything out of the ordinary.”
“Like what?” Sarah asks.
Bill shrugs his shoulders. “Don’t know. I’ve never talked to a ghost before. If
Bart is down there, he just may want to chat. Ready?”
Uncle Jack, Sarah and I all nod our heads. I reach behind Sarah’s tank and
make sure her air is on. She does the same for me. I check my pressure gauge to
be sure my tank is full to the max of 3,000 pounds (pounds per square inch of air
pressure). All three of us lean over the dock and just fall into the warm water,
leaving Carrie and Dove laying on the dock watching us leave.
A night dive is much different than in the day. First off, some of the fish are
just hanging there in the water, asleep. Some—like the king crabs—are out
walking around looking for something to eat. Bill takes the lead. I’ve made this
trip enough times that I know some of the landmarks down here. Our swim takes
just a few minutes. Soon Merryweather looms into view. She’s lit up from bow to
stern with the underwater lights Uncle Jack installed. The old lady is a riot of
Merryweather’s rudder glows, buried in the sandy seabed beneath the glare
of Uncle Jack’s underwater lights. It towers upward, rising up out of the light and
into the darkness overhead. The only sounds are popping noises the fish make and
the rush of air from our tanks followed by the explosion of bubbles as we exhale.
Uncle Jack, Bill, Sarah and I form a circle, kneeling in the soft sand near
Merryweather’s rudder where I found the box with the map. Sarah grabs Bill’s
hand on one side and mine on the other as if we’re at a séance.
Imagine, midnight, sixty feet underwater. We’ve been waiting down here for
fifty minutes already to maybe see the ghost of Black Bart, the pirate. My tank
was full when I submerged—3,000 pounds of pressure. Now my air gauge shows
550 pounds of pressure—near where I should think about surfacing.
Then the current shoves me. Goose bumps rise on my arms and the hair on
the back of my neck stands up. All of us look at one another.
Bill is the famous expert on the supernatural. He uses a grease pencil to write
on the waterproof white board—about the size of an iPad—he brought down here
for just this purpose:
“Don’t move”
Then, “Welcome Capt. Roberts”
My air gauge now shows just 350 pounds of pressure left in my tank. Past
time to surface. A few big breaths would exhaust my tank. If that happens I’ll run
out of air down here.
Another minute passes. I look again at my air gauge—well in the red, just
219 pounds now. My heart beats faster; breathing accelerates. Still, Bill told us
not to move. And I’m not leaving without returning Black Bart’s box and treasure
map. He’s plenty pissed off that I took it. The next visit he might actually kill
someone rather than just scare us. I try taking slow, shallow breaths. Impossible. I
want a huge gulp of air. I can see Uncle Jack’s air gauge beside me. He has over
1,000 pounds of pressure left. Plenty for us both. He’s a more experienced diver
who doesn’t over breathe getting excited. Unlike me.
Then it happens. At first it’s just letters in the sandy bottom. If it really is
Black Bart, he’s staying invisible for now. Then entire words appear in the sand:
“Why ye be botherin’ me?”
Bill writes on his white board: “Returning box & map”
Bart’s earlier words suddenly sink into the sand. They’re replaced with:
“I be upset. The map be mine. The box too. Why’d ye take them?”
Bill writes furiously: “Didn’t know”
“Ye shouldn’t take what don't belong to ye.”
“Sorry” Then Bill waits for the response to appear again in the sand.
If I didn’t see this with my own two eyes I wouldn’t have believed it. I set the
old, dented metal box containing the treasure map in the center of our circle. The
sandy bottom opens up and immediately swallows it without a trace. In its place
on the sandy bottom is:
“No harm done, I guess. Hearty thanks for returnin' me property.”
Little dots explode before my eyes from the shallow breaths. I urgently tap
Uncle Jack’s leg and hold up my air gauge. I don’t want to spook the spook. Jack
nods, then reaches into the pocket of his buoyancy compensator and hands me his
spare safety regulator. Problem solved. I take my first deep breath in minutes and
immediately feel better. I flash a quick OK sign to Jack. He nods. We keep
kneeling there in the sand, unmoving. I watch Bill write again on his white board:
“We want to help you”
“And how might ye go about doin’ that?” writes Bart in the sand.
“Spend your treasure wisely”
“Aye. That be mighty considerate. Talk more. Meet up with ye on the dock.”
Bart’s words appear in the sand, then slowly fade away. He’s gone.
Black Bart’s ghost is amphibian? Of course he is. He’s a ghost. What’s this
250 year-old pirate ghost look like? Seems we’re about to find out.
When we surface Jack whispers in my ear, “Good job on the air management,
Brian. We were down a long time. That’s why you ran low. Don’t mention your
little air problem to Helen. She’ll gut both of us with the fish boning knife. We
good?” Then Uncle Jack raises his hand up out of the water for me to shake,
sealing our secret pact.
* * *

And here he is. . .

Chris's  Website / Twitter / Goodreads

Chris Malburg is a widely published author, with work spread over 11 popular business books--including How to Fire Your Boss (Berkley) and Surviving the Bond Bear Market (Wiley, March 2011).  In his other life, Chris is a CPA/MBA, a former investment banker and now the CEO of Writers Resource Group, Inc., providers of professional financial literary content to corporations (  That’s the professional side of Chris’ career.  The fun side began when UCLA’s Writers’ school taught him to transition from biz-speak to fiction. GOD’S BANKER and the first installment in the Enforcement Division series, DEADLY ACCELERATION, both combine Chris’ natural talent for story telling with his professional command of the high-stakes investment world and what money and power do to some people. 

GOD’S BANKER  came to fruition from Chris’ hospital bed while recuperating from an athletic injury.  As a long-time endurance athlete, Chris is no stranger to the surgeon’scalpal.  Over 130,000 words later, GOD’S BANKERwas complete.  “It just poured out me,” says the author.  “I carried my note pad to physical therapy; made plot notes during the hours in the gym doing rehab; even while on my long bicycle rides through the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean where we live.  Slowly endurance returned and with it, GOD’S BANKER.”

Chris Malburg lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Marilyn.  Their hobby is raising service dogs for Guide Dogs for the Blind.  As of this writing, they have raised eight Labrador retrievers and have had three make the cut for placement with their disabled partners.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Excerpt: The Evolved by KT Webb

by KT Webb
YA Fantasy
370 Pages

From Indie Author KT Webb comes a fantasy novel that challenges tradition. She artfully combines elements of mythology, theology, romance and adventure to create a fast paced and intriguing story.
Thatcher Kline is a ward of the state, a runaway and a loner. But he has a few secrets; secrets that make him a freak, secrets that have cut him off from any semblance of a family.
Hadley and Whitley Callaghan are the twin daughters of a powerful man. Their mother abandoned them when they were little, leaving them to be raised by an absent father and his security detail. They find themselves settling into small town life in South Dakota when they meet Kerr Mason and their world turns upside down.
Kerr is a bookworm, storeowner and a good judge of character. He likes to be alone; other people make him uncomfortable. When he meets the Callaghan twins, he feels a connection he can’t comprehend.
Distant relatives raised Nora Lowell after her parents died in a car wreck. She lives in a constant state of suspension as she waits to be joined by others like her. When Nora learns that the others are on their way, she feels like her life can finally begin.
Their paths were destined to meet; their lives were destined to be intertwined as those of their ancestors were. When they come together, mysteries are unraveled, prophecies are revealed and this group of misfits quickly discovers they are destined to save the world from the clutches of evil.


Thatcher felt mildly uncomfortable as Romulus placed both hands on his shoulders and looked him in the eyes.
“You have nothing to prove Thatcher. Don’t forget that.” Romulus said before heading out of the alley. Kerr slapped Thatcher on the back and followed the Old Immortal.
Thatcher took a deep breath and was about to leave the alley too when Nora reappeared.
“Where’d they go?” Nora asked.
“They just went to find more people. I’m going to go offer myself up on a silver platter.” Thatcher said cheekily.
“You’re what?!” She almost shouted. “Are you crazy? You have no idea what you’re doing. You’re not ready for that.”
“I have to Nora. Malcolm left yesterday. He left and went back to them. I have to see if he’s with them. I have to see if he’s helping them do this to these people. But most of all, I have to face Absalom.” Thatcher told her firmly.
Nora was quiet for a moment. She bit her lip and looked at Thatcher thoughtfully. When they heard footsteps approaching, she nodded her head at him and told him she understood. Kerr had arrived with three more people; a scared old woman, and two terrified teenage boys. Nora didn’t even bother explaining this time, she simply grabbed on to them and disappeared.
Thatcher and Kerr left the alley together. Kerr was still searching the streets for the little girl from his vision.
“Maybe she hasn’t lost her mother yet Kerr. Let me try to distract the Old Immortals while you look for her.” Thatcher told him.
“Romulus is right you know. Just because your prophecy tells you that you are torn doesn’t mean you have something to prove. You are who you are, and who you are is one of us.” Kerr told him as he jogged across the street.
Thatcher stepped out into the afternoon sunlight. If he only looked at the sky, he could almost forget what was happening around him. But the pungent odor and endless tortured screams continued to remind him where he was. He was in Absalom’s playground. Thatcher wasn’t sure what he was supposed to be confused about. He wanted to stop Absalom with all his heart and all his mind. He knew without a doubt his prophecy was not about that.
Hearing a scream erupt to his left, he took off in that direction. He broke through a row of bushes beside a parking lot to find Absalom standing over a fleshless body. It was obvious that the scene around him was something Absalom enjoyed. He didn’t blink twice at the bodies lying on the ground around him; he almost looked happy.
Thatcher stepped out from between the bushes. He had seen enough death and destruction today. He needed to distract Absalom and find Silas.

And here she is. . .

K.T. WEBB!!!

KT Webb is a big city girl living in small town South Dakota. KT is a wife and mother of two young children. She works full time as a marketing and communications coordinator for a technology solutions company. KT is also an avid reader and prefers books that allow her overactive imagination to run wild. She published her first book, The Evolved as the first installment in The New Era Saga; the second book will be out in late 2015.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: The Joyville Sweat Sox by Linda Fausnet

by Linda Fausnet
Wannabe Pride
Middle Grade Fiction
134 pages
ages 8+

It's against the law to get mad in Joyville. Will Konnie Mack be able to coach a ragtag team of kids who are clueless about baseball without completely losing her cool? 

Twenty-one-year-old Konnie has broken the No Anger law for the third time. She has two choices for punishment: coach Joyville's Little League baseball team for the summer, or spend five years in jail. 

Konnie used to be the best baseball player in town, but she hasn't played the game she loves since she was sixteen. That was the year Bobby Hearsay stole Joyville's team in the middle of the night. It was also the year her father died. 

The current team includes the likes of Clueless Joe Jackson, Joltin' Joanna Demargio, and Carl Repkin, Jr. Keeping her temper in check with these kids won't be easy, and it’s going to be nearly impossible for this bunch to win any games. But Konnie has no choice. Getting mad will land her in the slammer, and her punishment for losing will be far worse than any jail sentence. She will be banished from playing baseball forever….


I love getting my hands on books for kids which include sports. . . there's simply not enough of them around. So when I was offered to review The Joyville Sweat Sox, I was thrilled.

Konnie was a great baseball player when she was sixteen but like many people into sports, tended to let her excitement get the best of her. In other words, she has a bad temper. The first scene has Konnie sitting in a courtroom, waiting to hear the verdict of a ridiculous judge. In Joyville, no one is allowed to get angry and since Konnie has done this three times, she's now facing five years of jail.

This story has an interesting twist of reality with a bit of fantasy thrown in. Each town has it's own funny name (Joyville, Cranksville, etc.) and the players are given even funnier names (Catfish Punter or Clueless Joe Jackson). When Konnie meets the kids she's to coach for the first time, the situation is hilarious. The author definitely knows how to pack in the humor, and kids are sure to laugh their heads off.

But this isn't all fun and games. There are some important and serious messages buried in the pages, ones that kids will never hear enough of. The players learn (as well as Konnie) that a name does not define the person. Even when placed against terrible odds, the players stay true to themselves--a great inspiration.

The only thing that bothered me about this book was the main character. Although the language and writing fit very well to a middle grade audience, the main character herself is not someone kids will easily be able to relate to. The author does a great job giving Konnie a personality kids will understand, but there are still adult view points making it difficult for kids to completely sympathize with her. And the children on the team are held at arm's length, not giving a close enough impression for kids to sympathize with them either.

Still, there's a lot to appreciate in this story and kids will still find it fun to read.

And here she is. . .

Linda Fausnet is the author of several books, mostly adult fiction. She has also written numerous screenplays of various genres. Two of her scripts have been optioned by production companies in Los Angeles; Mega Films, Inc. and Runaway Productions. Her screenplay, QUEEN HENRY, was a Finalist in the national Progress Writers Competition. Linda runs an educational and promotional website for indie writers at

Twitter - @lindafausnet

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