Guest Book Review: In the Shadow of the Volcano by Wendy Leighton-Porter

shadow

Publisher: Mauve Square Publishing; 1 edition (April 15, 2013)
ASIN: B00CDUXKUC
Rating: Five stars
Age group: 9+

The Shadow of the Volcano is the fifth adventure of twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot and their friend Charlie. Joe and Jemima have been searching for their parents who disappeared several months earlier. Thanks to an old book and a magical key, as well as special charms, the kids and Max (their talking Tonkinese cat) are able to travel back in time to search for the twins’ parents. Sadly, on their previous adventures, it seems the twins’ parents were always just ahead of them. On this trip, they hope they’ll catch up with their mum and dad. Trips back in time can be dangerous, especially if they end up in the middle of a war, or some disaster. The kids have had their fair share of those and this trip is no less dangerous. The kids and Max end up in Pompeii, just a few days before Mount Vesuvius will explode, destroying the whole city. Unfortunately, they also land up on the tail end of a consignment of slaves. The slave dealer Scylax is ecstatic because he’s convinced he was short-changed by three slaves in the last delivery. Jemima befriends a young slave, a Briton called Caris, and tries to cheer her up. Luckily, Joe and Jemima are attractive twins and take the fancy of their new owners, while Charlie, originally thought weedy, impresses the book-keeper with his skill in mathematics. Joe has the hardest time of all, working his fingers to the bone, as he grumbles, while Charlie and Jemima have relatively easy jobs. Max manages to inveigle himself into the household, but on the night of a party, is booted out. He is rescued by a priestess of the Temple of Isis, and she is in love with a gladiator. An adventure to rival all others ensues, with a magnificent fake battle between Leo (a lion that Max helped) and Felix, the handsome young gladiator. All this time, the kids keep trying to warn people about the impending disaster; some listen and will escape the conflagration, but for the most part, people don’t heed the warnings. Vesuvius has rumbled before and they are used to it. Will the kids catch up with their parents? Will they make it back to their own world?
I just love this series and, in my opinion, it keeps getting better with every book. Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has such a lovely sense of humour that brings even the smallest characters vividly to life. Max is utterly captivating as himself, with delusions of grandeur after living as the descendant of a god in the Temple of Isis. The kids’ new owner is based on a real Pompeiian, whose villa was discovered and excavated. So much fact is cleverly woven into the story, teaching kids a history lesson without their even knowing it. There are details that young readers will remember, simply because of the way these have been used in the tale to lend credence and veracity. Who can argue with an exciting piece of history? Of course, as in her other books, Wendy Leighton-Porter does not shy away from the gritty realities of life back then. Being a slave was no easy task, and if one was a gladiator, death was just another fight away. I truly enjoyed the rich detail of Pompeiian life pervading the story, down to the descriptions of the eruption and what it must have been like for people at the time. The end material includes some lovely particulars for avid young explorers and historians; a glossary, a floor plan of a typical house, photos of the Pompeiian excavation and more. As always, maps put the leap back in time firmly into perspective. This book is a real winner, and don’t be surprised if your young relative starts sounding like an expert volcanologist. PS: If anyone is wondering how the romance is going between the twins’ Uncle Richard and Charlie’s mum … they are going on another date!

 

http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Volcano-Shadows-Past-Book-ebook/dp/B00CDUXKUC

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

First Chapter Review: The Stolen Herd by K. Madill (Win $25 Amazon GC)

1st Chapter Review TC&TBC

K. Madill is touring with Pump Up Your Book this month with her young adult fantasy novel, The Stolen Herd. Read to the end to see how you can enter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068]

BLURB: Mandamus is only a foal when his herd is captured by the terrible Rakhana Army. Rescued and raised in secrecy, he knows nothing of his heritage until a dreadful incident in the woods brings him to the attention of the Forest council – and everyone else. Sent away for his own protection, he is determined to seek help on behalf of the many animals who have gone missing from the forest, including his own family.

With the help of a troubled man and a stout-hearted bat, can Mandamus save his fellow creatures before it’s too late?

COVER: I’m not usually a fan of dark covers, but this one is stunning. The black of the horse, the white glint of his eyes, and the purples and pinks of the sky make for a fabulous piece of art that attracts readers.

FIRST CHAPTER: As the Rakhana Army closes in on the herd, Gideon takes their foal and dashes him to Daleth and Mareva to raise in secrecy.

KEEP READING: Filled with flowing descriptions and a multitude of characters, this opening chapter sets the scene for what will become of Mandamus after his herd is captured by the Rakhana Army. A butterfly, a bat, a herd of horses, a ruthless human army, and a special foal with white eyes who may be the stuff of legends make for an interesting cast. The strength of the world building is easy to see early on.  The hint of magic and the elegant writing in this first chapter definitely encourage me to follow along with the rest of Mandamus’ story.

 

Title:  The Stolen Herd

Author: K. Madill

Genre: Young adult fantasy

Paperback: 181 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace (February 20, 2014)

ISBN-10: 1482640023

ISBN-13: 978-1482640021

Kindle:B00GBQ9V8O

Purchase at http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00GBQ9V8O

 

I received a copy of this book from the author. I have been paid a fee to promote this book with a book tour through Pump Up Your Book. That fee did not include a review. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

A chronic “head in the cloudser” K. Madill lives in a rickety house on a well treed street in British Columbia, Canada.  When she’s not hanging out with her best equine friend in the woods she can be found trying to stay upright on her roller skates or mediating the affairs of her various furred and feathered friends that rule the aforementioned rickety house. 

K. Madill’s website: kmadill.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Madill/161159890706088

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaraiMadill1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20643483-the-stolen-herd

 

Pump Up Your Book and K. Madill are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms and conditions:

    • By entering, you confirm you are 18 years of age or older.
    • Raffle runs from 12:00 AM EST on June 2 through 12:00 AM EST on June 28, 2014.
    • Winner will be selected randomly by Rafflecopter.
    • Winner will be notified by email and has 72 hours to claim the prize before a new winner is selected.
    • Prize will be sent via email from the author’s representative.
    • VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Interview with K. Madill, Author of The Stolen Herd (Giveaway)

Karai MadillKarai Madill is a Canadian writer who lives in a wooden house not far from swiftly flowing river. Every now and then a bear comes along and steals her garbage.  When she’s not hanging out with her best equine friend, she can be found roller skating around in circles or planting butterfly friendly gardens. The Stolen Herd is her first novel.

For more K. Madill, visit her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Madill/161159890706088 or blog: http://kmadill.com/

Thank you for joining us today, Karai. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I am a true Canadian and it’s true what they say about us. We’re overly polite. We apologize for apologizing. I have to be near my creature friends as much as possible. I have to visit a forest as least once a week. I will always ditch everyone and everything to write.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug? 

I think it’s more the storytelling bug.  My mother is an avid reader and our house had a library in the den, full of fantasy novels. I wrote my first story when I was six years old, according to her, about a unicorn named Me. I don’t remember that one.  I do recall penning a tale that ended up in the school paper though. That one starred a miniature lion that led me to a room full of candy! Ha – animals and mythical creatures. There’s a pattern here, I think.

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

You know…I don’t think I actually consciously decided.  I just began the Mandamus and Luco series and it just sort of ended up in that category.

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

I think my favorite part is having animals as characters. I adore Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and Charlotte’s Web. I graduated to Animal Farm in my later years, and realized that while the first two were magical in their story telling, the way Orwell used animal characters to express a political message was equally as brilliant. For my books, I get to write scenes with people having conversations and arguments with animals. It’s a blast! I’m also a firm believer that stories need mythical creatures. With an eclectic cast of characters like that you can create all different kinds of scenarios. I think the biggest difficulty is keeping it short and sweet to hold a younger reader’s attention. I idolize the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. I enjoy page after page of descriptive narrative. I also like to write them, much to the chagrin of my editor. She cut a lot out of the original manuscript for this very reason.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

The Stolen Herd is about a foal who is orphaned when his herd is captured by an army. He is found and raised by a mare and her rather ferocious sister. When he’s a bit older, he finds himself in deep trouble, so deep he is sent into temporary exile from his herd. He goes on an adventure and meets all sorts of beings from terrible imps to forgetful naiads.

What inspired you to write it?Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068]

I saw a news article about a school that was busted up by the Taliban, just wiped out. It terrified me.  As I sat there, feeling immeasurably sad, this black horse with glowing, white eyes just popped into my head. He looked so worried. For the rest of the day, his story came in a flood of ideas. I wrote them down when I got home that evening.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

www.amazon.ca/Stolen-Herd-Mandamus-Luco-Book-ebook/dp/BOOGBQ9V80

What is up next for you?

The second book in the series. The planning is almost finished. Some of the writing has already begun. The storyboard is full and the creativity is overflowing. I love being able to work on new material. The Stolen Herd took six years. Towards the end I felt stagnated with the whole thing and I was trying to meet a deadline so I was doing re-writes to the edited version for up to 10 hours a day. I almost began to hate it.

Do you have anything else to add?

I do! I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read The Stolen Herd and messaged me or emailed me. Your encouragement is truly appreciated.  If you liked this one, you’re going to love the 2nd book!

Thank you for spending time with us today, Karai. We wish you much success.

Thank you for having me.

 

Pump Up Your Book and K. Madill are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms and conditions:

      • By entering, you confirm you are 18 years of age or older.
      • Raffle runs from 12:00 AM EST on June 2 through 12:00 AM EST on June 28, 2014.
      • Winner will be selected randomly by Rafflecopter.
      • Winner will be notified by email and has 72 hours to claim the prize before a new winner is selected.
      • Prize will be sent via email from the author’s representative.
      • VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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First Chapter Review: Guardians Inc.: The Cypher by Julian Rosado-Machain

TC&TBC

 

 

Julian Rosado-Machain is on tour with Pump Up Your Book promoting the young adult fantasy adventure novel, Guardians Inc.: The Cypher. I received the first chapter only for review.

Guardians Inc 7

BLURB: GUARDIANS INC.: THE CYPHER is two stories in one. A glimpse into a multinational company that is in reality the oldest of secret societies, one that spans close to seven thousand years of existence, weaving in and out of history, guiding and protecting humanity from creatures and forces that most of us believe are only mythology and fairy tales.

The other is the story of Thomas Byrne, a young man thrust into secrets he shouldn’t be aware of and dangers he shouldn’t face but, that he ultimately will, for he is a Cypher. The only one who can steer humanity’s future.

The ultimate conspiracy theory is that Magic is real. Kept in check by technology but, every five hundred years the balance can shift and, if it does, technology will fail and those creatures we’ve driven into myth will come back with a vengeance.

To protect the present, Guardians Incorporated needs to know the future, and to unlock the future they need a Cypher.

This is the first book of the Guardians Inc Series.

COVER: The fantasy genre lends itself to fabulous covers and this is no exception. What the reader can assume is the main character is seen facing off against dreadful creatures as a result of the shifting balance mentioned in the blurb. I love this design and color scheme.

FIRST CHAPTER: Thomas is still the new kid at school when he gets into a fight with the football team’s linebacker and finds himself in the office of the dreaded Vice Principal Killjoy.

KEEP READING: Definitely. Rosado-Machain does a fine job of dropping the reader right into the action with Thomas sitting outside the vice principal’s office while his grandfather talks with the vice principal about his fight with Roger Hill, the football team’s linebacker. The author sprinkles in the backstory and ends the first chapter on a note that entices the reader to continue. Even though there is no hint of what is to come for Thomas, the reader is left with a few questions that make her want to find out more of Thomas’s story.

Title: Guardians Inc.: The Cypher

Author: Julian Rosado-Machain

Publisher: Julian Rosado-Machain

Pages: 239

Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure

Format: Paperback, KindleJulian Rosado-Machain

Julian Rosado-Machain has enjoyed pizza in three continents, worked in graphic design, armored vehicles, built computers, handcrafted alebrijes and swears that he has seen at least one ghost.

He lives in San Diego, California. And enjoys the sun with his wife, three children and cat.

His latest book is the YA fantasy adventure, Guardians Inc.: The Cypher.

For More Information

This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

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Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Navigating early

Navigating Early by Clare Vnaderpool, a 2014 Printz Honor Book, is a moving novel of friendship, forgiveness, and moving on.

After the death of his mother, Jack Baker’s father moves him from Kansas to a boy’s boarding school in Maine. His life turned upside down, Jack makes friend with an odd boy named Early Auden who only attends class when he wishes, lives down in the basement, and listens to a variety of records depending upon the day and the weather.

Inadvertently left alone at school over the break, Jack and Early embark upon a journey by boat to find the Great Appalachian Bear. Fraught with danger and numerous surprises, the boys learn  a great deal about themselves and each other in the process.

Throughout the story runs the mythical story of Pi, an adventurer whose journey closely relates to Jack’s and Early’s.

I don’t often listen to audio books, but for this grade level they are fun. The variety of characters portrayed in this adventurous tale is superb. The narrator was fabulous! I don’t want to give away too much because the surprises along the way are worth picking up this book, but let me say that even though there are down times in this book, the pace is fairly steady.

Navigating Early is filled with engaging characters whose story will captivate you fully. Not only is Jack coping with the death of his mother, but he has a difficult relationship with his military father. Both Jack and Early Auden are odd men out when it comes to school. Early’s ties to the school hero who went off to war and Jack’s inability to row at a school where rowing is a right of passage, bring them together. But it isn’t until the journey they take while alone at school that Jack can appreciate Early’s friendship.

I loved everything about this book: the plot development, the character development, the hooks, the shocks, and the tears. The mythical story of Pi ties in nicely and connects the boys in more ways than one.

If your middle grade reader only picks up one book this year, it should be Navigating Early.

Highly recommended!

 

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Age Range: 10 and up
Grade Level: 5 and up
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Yearling (December 23, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307930653
ISBN-13: 978-0307930651

 

I borrowed this book from the library. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Kindle Freebie: The Tiger Princess (Saderia Series) by Sarah Renee

tiger

Ten years ago, the tiger King and Queen of a vast forest disappeared in a mysterious fire.

No one knows how the fire started. In ten years, the truth has never been discovered. But now, ten years later, their orphaned daughter is determined to solve the mystery…

Ten-year-old Saderia has led a life of luxury as the Princess of the forest under the care of her persnickety aunt and uncle – though it has always had its flaws. But when her nights are troubled by terrifying dreams of the fire that took her parents, her comfortable life is turned into a race to find the truth. On a quest to solve the mystery of who killed her parents, she stumbles upon bewildering clues, secretive allies, and even magic.

Saderia is determined to solve the mystery, but as she uncovers more clues, her own life is drawn deeper and deeper into danger. She must find out the truth before time runs out – and her own fate is sealed.

File Size: 3497 KB
Print Length: 342 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 146990263X
Publisher: Tiger Print Books; 1 edition (January 8, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B004W3L5DM

PURCHASE HERE!

Guest Book Review: The Shadow of the Pyramid by Wendy Leighton-Porter

porterPublisher: Mauve Square Publishing (February 4, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1909411043
ISBN-13: 978-1909411043
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Ages 8+
Fantasy/Adventure/Action

Five Stars

Jemima, Joe, their talking Tonkinese cat Max, and their best friend Charlie are off on their adventures again, searching for Jemima and Joe’s parents (somehow trapped in the past) and this time they are headed for ancient Egypt. Using their magical book, the poem containing clues, and Jemima’s necklace with the key, the kids and Max are transported back in time, arriving in the middle of an assassination plot to murder the young king Tutankhamun. Alas, Max has a morbid fear of mummies, having glimpsed a ghastly sight of one on Joe’s XBox game and he’s not too keen on this part of their adventure. They meet Ankharet, the gorgeous cat belonging to Tut’s young wife, Ankhesenamun. Max is totally smitten, but unfortunately Ankharet (who is jealous of Max’s instant popularity) doesn’t feel quite the same way about him. As the adventure unfolds, the kids and the cats, along with Tut’s wife try to stop several attempts on the young king’s life. Max even manages to foil two attempts, displaying a kind of unintentional bravery. The king is entranced with Max and names him “Max, beloved of Amun.” What an honour! Alas, despite their best efforts, once again the kids and Max are unable to change the course of history and cannot prevent the young king’s fate, a mystery which remains to this day. The end of the book is absolutely delightful and kids will just love the twist in this tale.

Max’s fear of mummies and the like afford some absolutely hilarious moments, especially since all his apparent heroics and saving the day are by accident. Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has woven a marvellous mixture of suspense, adventure, history, geography, and culture into an intriguing tale. Using real historical figures, she captures the feel and flavour of ancient times, and puts forward some quite viable theories for exactly what might have happened to Tutankhamun. As in previous books, the kids and Max are totally immersed in history, and this tale will definitely draw eager young readers to join them in the adventure. There are some interesting facts at the end of the book which will no doubt stimulate young time travellers to go and do a bit more research. Learning history the fun way is becoming the mark of this captivating series.

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.