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.

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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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First Chapter Review: The Luthier’s Apprentice by Mayra Calvani

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The first chapter of this young adult dark fantasy novel was sent to me by the author. You can read it online at http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/LuthiersApprentice_ch1.html

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BLURB: When a psychopathic violinist starts kidnapping other violinists around the world, 16-year old Emma must hunt her down before her own beloved violin teacher is killed.

COVER: This is a stunning cover. From the stormy sky to the rolling waters to the beautiful young woman to the contrast of the red on her lips and dress, every book cover should capture the eye as well as this one does.

FIRST CHAPTER: In present day Brussels, Emma gets off at the bus stop and is stunned by a newspaper headline at the news stand. Her violin teacher has disappeared. She races home to discover more bad news. Her world is quickly turned upside down by what she has learned in the past few minutes, but she has other news she hasn’t even shared with her mother that makes preparing for the upcoming violin competition ever harder.

KEEP READING: I’ve never been disappointed by one of Calvani’s books, so it’s no surprise that she opens The Luthier’s Apprentice with a strong first chapter that encourages the reader to continue. The author drops the reader into the action with an excellent hook and keeps the tension high throughout it all. We meet Emma and her mother, but also get information about other people in Emma’s life: her violin teacher and his wife, her grandfather, and her mother’s eccentric sister. I’m eager to see what happens next.

Author web site: http://www.MayraCalvani.com
Publisher: Twilight Times Books, http://twilighttimesbooks.com
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Series: Book 1
Distributors: Amazon Kindle; Apple iBookstore; BN.com Nook; Kobo Books; OmniLit, etc
Release date: May 15, 2014 ebook; August 15, 2014 print
Pages: 184
Purchase links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K93R3OO/

B and N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-luthiers-apprentice-mayra-calvani/1119467189

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

First Chapter Review: The Paladins DuBois by Patricia Donaruma Williford

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While attending the WriteAngles Conference this past November, I ran into Patricia Donaruma Williford, author of The Paladins DuBoisPat is a teacher in our local school district. Luckily, she had a copy of her book with her that I was able to purchase.

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BLURB: Eighteen years after the infants Kai and Mahri DuBois were separated and taken from La Foret de Chenes for their own protection, they are called to return. Appointed as Paladins, they receive their first charges from the Elders. The twins must overcome the devastating act of treachery that tore their family apart, restore the integrity of the treasure they guard, and beat back the encroaching evil of La Famille DeMauvaise.

COVER: While I’m not always a fan of dark covers, they are popular in the young adult genre. This cover works well for the book because the dark forest with its glowing fireflies is an integral part of the story.

FIRST CHAPTER: Kai Woods, a painfully shy boy with unruly blond hair, has just graduated from high school. The letter he has received from his Uncle Frank invites him to be considered for a position of caretaker of La Forêt de Chênes, The Forest of Oaks. He follows a trail and soon comes to a cottage, where he meets the mysterious Shaun O’Shaunessey.

KEEP READING: Definitely. Williford quickly captivates the reader with her mysterious, magical tale. In a few short pages, the reader learns a bit about Kai’s past and the future that is about to unfold before him. Told from Kai’s and Shaun’s points of view, this intriguing first chapter is filled with rich descriptions that add depth but are not overdone. The back story is just enough to entice. It doesn’t cloud over the present day happenings.

While I’ll admit fantasy is not my first choice of reading material, this strong first chapter, the conflict of a family torn apart, and Kai and Mahri’s destiny enchanted me. I’m eager to continue.

Paperback: 524 pages
Publisher: Booklocker.com, Inc. (September 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1621417719
ISBN-13: 978-1621417712

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

First Chapter Review of and Excerpt from Down Under Calling by Margot Finke

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When a reluctant grandson in Oregon is pressured into writing to his grandma in Australia, wonderful things happen. Both have a need for love and reassurance, and between letters their daily lives go on.  Back and forth the letters go: Josh shares his  problems, while Grandma Rose shares stories, and past memories that astonish her grandson and his friend Kelly. His Xbox gathers dust, while he and Kelly ride bikes and bird watch. Googling the weird and wonderful Aussie critters that visit Rose’s garden becomes a hobby for them.  Soon, Andy and Grandma shrink the Pacific Ocean into a puddle they can easily ford.

There is a glossary of Aussie words and animals at the back of the book.

A SAMPLE from the Beginning:

CHAPTER ONE

Grandma Rose

On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, where water lapped the sandy eastern shores of Australia, Rose Larkin slept. She lived on the edge of the Queensland bush in a small town called Morningside. At sixty plus Rose was a light sleeper, so the sound of the rifle crack snapped her awake.

Silence. This was followed by the mutter of distant voices. Rose’s cat, Lady, sleeping at the foot of the bed, had not twitched a whisker.

“The same hooligans again I’ll bet,” Rose muttered, “Shooting at whatever moves.”

Stiff from sleeping, Rose threw on a dressing gown and headed for the back door. Outside the door she grabbed a long handled garden fork that leaned against the wall. She hefted it. Not a bad weapon – just in case.

A skimpy moon left the back yard in complete darkness. But Rose didn’t need a flashlight. Her feet had long ago memorized every pebble, dip, and curve that lead to the back fence. The voices now grew more distinct.

“Cripes mate, I killed somethin’!”

“Dumb git! You offed a ‘roo. The old biddy’s heard us for sure. Let’s scarper.”

The voices faded, lost in the far reaches of the wild bush area that backed onto Rose’s property.

Grim-faced, Rose reached the fence line. Soft scrabbling noises came from the bush side of the fence. Leaning the garden fork against a fence post, she hiked up her nightie and dressing gown. Climbing over the broken section of the fence wasn’t easy. Rose struggled. Then a tearing sound. Blast! My favorite nightie, too!

Finally, she made it over the fence and into the bush, hoping to find whatever was making those distressed rustling sounds. Aha… She peered down at the ground around her – dim and blurry. Stupid woman – forgot my glasses! Her toe hit something furry. Kneeling in the darkness Rose searched the ground with outstretched hands. She felt something warm and soft. Oh Lord, NO!

In front of her lay a still warm but very dead female kangaroo. Snuggled beside his dead mum, yet very much alive, was her joey.

“There, there,” murmured Rose. “Not to worry little mate. You come with me.”

It took a few more rips and tears to her nightie, but she finally got the joey over the fence and safely back to the house. Tucking him into a spare pillowcase, Rose hung the makeshift pouch on the back of a kitchen chair. His small head peeked out, all big ears and long snout, a wistful look on its face. The pillowcase, loosely knotted at the open end, was the best she could do to provide a pouch.

Oh-ho, he’s shivering. Mustn’t let the little bloke go into shock. Rose quickly filled a hot water bottle and slipped it into the pillowcase. A swift look through her winter woolies, and her young guest wore a blue beanie scrunched down over his ears. She had knitted the beanie last winter.

“That’ll have to do for now. First thing in the morning I’ll find out what to feed you. Then I’ll phone the police. I just hope they catch the hooligans that killed your poor mum.”

Rose, chilled to her toes, made herself a steaming cup of tea. The joey, blue beanie askew over one eye, ducked inside his makeshift pouch every time she ventured near.

AVAILABLE FOR KINDLE: http://www.amazon.com/Down-Under-Calling-Margot-Finke-ebook/dp/B00FZXORQK/

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I want to thank Cheryl for allowing me to chat with her wonderful readers and introduce a book that means so much to me. Writing “Down Under” took me back to my long ago Aussie roots.  It was a book I had to write, and it came right from my heart. In some ways it is a tribute to my mum.  She was the most honest person I have ever known.  Also a fantastic story teller,  a terrific judge of character, and she always showed her love for me in caring ways.

Some of the stories Grandma Rose tells grandson Andy in her letters are ones told to me by my mum.  Mum was shy, and only opened up to close friends or relatives.  I know she would be delighted to know that I have connected her stories to a far wider audience.  Mum is long gone. . . yet I still miss her a whole bunch.

Website:  http://www.margotfinke.com
Young Teen and Picture Books  + Manuscript Critiques and Help for Writers.

Download a FREE “Sneak Peek” inside ALL my books:
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Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/margotfinke/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Margot10

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/margot.finke

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COVER: I love this hand drawn cover that captures where Grandma Rose lives as well as Andy and his friend Kelly together. Cover artist Agy Wilson chose wonderful colors to attract readers and the drawing has a down-home style that works well for this book.

FIRST CHAPTER: Grandma Rose is awakened by the crack of a rifle. Grabbing a long handled garden fork for protection, she heads out to the fence line. Climbing over the fence, she discovers a mother Kangaroo has been shot and killed, but her joey is very much alive. Rose takes the joey back to her house to care for it. The next day, a letter arrives from Rose’s grandson, Andy, who lives in Portland, Oregon. She wonders if Andy would like to hear about her new animal friend and sits down to draft her reply.

KEEP READING: What I admire about Finke’s work is the way she pulls you in. The opening pages drop you right into the story, as Rose is woken in the middle of the night by the noise of the rifle. You feel her urgency to discover what has happened and the pain of her discovery. That is tempered by the introduction of Andy’s letter and Rose wondering what his mother did to con him into writing. This looks like it will be a great book and I want to know what happens next.

I purchased a copy of this book for my Kindle. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

The Funny Adventures of Little Nani by Cinta Garcia de la Rosa

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Typically I read the first chapter of a book, but with this short story collection, I am reading the first story in the book and discussing it.

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BLURB: Little Nani is a little girl who likes helping people. However, when she helps people the results can be a bit unexpected. Why is that? Little Nani is a witch! Or at least she wants to be a witch. With her magic wand, she will try to cast different spells to help her friends, but she won’t be successful all the time. Follow Little Nani in her funny adventures and meet her extraordinary friends. Funny ostriches, horses that love reading, super-fast turtles, grumpy zombies… Little Nani has lots of friends! You can also draw your own characters! Little Nani is willing to become a good witch. Will she manage to do it? Who knows? Read the stories and discover what happens next!

COVER: Since the top illustration comes from the first story, I’m guessing these postage stamp or postcard type bordered illustrations contain drawings from different stories in the collection. I love the color scheme and the darker contrasting colors of the borders.

FIRST CHAPTER: The Funny Adventures of Little Nani is about a girl with a magic wand whose spells often go awry. In this opening story, “Little Nani and Some Unexpected Events,” Little Nani tries out the wand she got from a correspondence course and tries to make her friends, Big Billy and Skinny Nikki, grow up faster. That’s definitely not what happens.

This looks like it will be a cute book. I can only judge it based upon the first story I read, but all the characters have unique personalities and lovers of magic and fantasy will enjoy the horse who loves to read. Little Nani appears to be an independent-minded girl who leaps before she looks, which tends to create a bit of chaos for her and her friends. By including pauses in the story called “Drawing Time!” the author makes this an interactive adventure for young readers, who are asked to draw certain scenes from the book. I haven’t seen this before in a book, but I like it.

KEEP READING: If I were basing this review solely upon the uniquely crafted characters and the interactive aspect of it, I would say definitely. The thing that gives me pause is the dragged out dialogue. Big Billy appears riding a horse, which he tries to convince Little Nani to ride. She declines because she’s allergic to horses and can’t touch them. But as Big Billy points out, she’s stroking the horse’s head. It goes back and forth like this for a few seconds, before Skinny Nikki arrives. Skinny Nikki wants to ride, but Big Billy says no because he wants Little Nani to ride with him, to which Skinny Nikki replies, “But Little Nani won’t ride with you. She’s allergic to horses.” And then they start going on and on about how Little Nani wants to ride an ostrich, but she doesn’t have an ostrich, so she can’t ride one.

What I ended up doing is downloading another short story in the series for my Kindle (this book has all the stories in it, but they can also be purchased separately). It appears this dragged out conversation might be the way Little Nani interacts with others. In “Little Nani and The Flying Muffin” it is about how bored she is on a rainy day. She whines “I’m bored!” three times while Big Billy and Skinny Nikki get aggravated over her whining and Horse tries to convince her to listen to the story he’s reading to her.

Children probably won’t notice it. I just didn’t care for this style of conversation. I would probably still keep going. It’s one of those “don’t bite your nose off to spite your face” moments. If you like the characters and the story is funny, is it worth abandoning the book simply because one of the characters is a bit repetitive? No, you keep going and enjoy the rest.

Overall, this is a really cute story and I’m thinking it will be a hit with youngsters, especially those who enjoy humor.

File Size: 1577 KB
Print Length: 144 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00DGXKOWM

I downloaded a free sample of this book to my Kindle. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

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First Chapter Review: The Black Shard by Victoria Simcox

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The first chapter of this tween fantasy novel was sent to me by the author Victoria Simcox.

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BLURB: The Black Shard, Victoria Simcox’s fast-paced, intricately woven sequel to The Magic Warble, takes Kristina Kingsly and her schoolmates back to Bernovem … and into a thrilling, often dangerous adventure.

Kristina’s stay at summer horse camp is horrible to say the least, and it’s all because Hester and Davina are there as well, making her life miserable. When Hester’s cruel prank goes terribly wrong, it’s actually what sends the three girls back to the magical land of Bernovem. In Bernovem, Kristina is very excited to see her former friend, Prince Werrien. When he invites her to sail with him on his ship to his homeland Tezerel, putting it simply, Kristina can’t refuse.

Reunited with her gnome, dwarf, animal, fairy friends … and best of all, Werrien, things seem like they couldn’t get any better for Kristina. But when Werrien becomes fascinated with an unusual seeing stone, the “Black Shard”, Kristina is haunted by a ghostlike old hag. Struggling against suspicion, guilt, illness, and ultimately the one who wants to possess her soul, Kristina will see it’s in her weakest moment that she will encounter more strength than she has ever known.

COVER: Love it. The covers for both novels in this series are exquisite. They speak to the genre, the characters, and the setting.

FIRST CHAPTER:  Stuck at a summer horse camp, Kristina is having a hard time dealing with Hester and Davina. The girls make her so miserable, she ends up wanting to leave camp. As she prepares to leave, she runs into Graham Kepler a kid she has known since kindergarten, who works at the camp.  Now she’s even more eager to leave.

KEEP READING:  You bet. Fantasy isn’t my favorite genre, but one of the great things about this series is Kristina is an average girl dealing with regular issues. There are the mean girls (Hester and Davina) and the dreaded summer camp experience. Combine that with  Kristina’s memories of the magical world of Bernovem and her friend Werrien and you have an engaging novel filled with characters you want to journey with.

Publisher Two Harbors Press (October 4, 2011)
Language English
ISBN-10 1937293149
ISBN-13 978-1937293147

File Size: 2330 KB
Print Length: 268 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1937293149
Publisher: Two Harbors Press (September 30, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B0084AA7RO

I received a copy of book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

First Chapter Review of The Master’s Book by Philip Coleman

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The first chapter of this young adult thriller was sent to me by the author, Philip Coleman. This book was recently released by MuseItUp Publishing.

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BLURB: In 1482 Mary, the last Duchess of Burgundy, lies on her deathbed in a castle in Flanders. She is only 24. In her final moments she makes a wish that, 500 years later, will threaten the lives of a boy and a girl living in Brussels.

The Master’s Book is the story of Sean, an Irish teenager, just arrived in Brussels to a house that is also a crime scene. Together with Stephanie, his classmate, he finds an illuminated manuscript, only for it to be stolen almost at once.

Where did this manuscript come from? Who was it originally made for? Is there a connection with the beautiful tomb Sean has seen in Bruges? Above all, why does someone want this book so badly that they are prepared to kill for it?

Part thriller and part paper-chase, this book is aimed at boys and girls of twelve and over.

COVER: Love it. Great for the age group. The color scheme and fonts used are captivating.

FIRST CHAPTER: Sean, his younger sister, Maeve, and their parents are outside a restaurant at the Grand Place in Brussels. The parents are arguing because Dad didn’t tell Mam that the house they moved into was a crime scene. Sean is more concerned with how many points he lost with his mates by not knowing he was moving into a house where the former owner was murdered.

KEEP READING:  Yes. Coleman drops the reader right into the action. Though this is a serious conversation, Sean’s sarcasm and his view of how everything unfolded between his parents is kind of funny. It makes me wonder what my kids think of it when my husband and I get into a heated discussion. Though this first chapter is short, we get a fair amount of information from it. First, that Dad and Mam were not necessarily on the same side when it came to the move. Sean was less than thrilled about moving, too. Maeve plays a minor role at the beginning, but her childlike curiosity adds to the plot. My interest is definitely piqued.

File Size: 435 KB
Print Length: 267 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing (March 12, 2013)
ISBN 978-1-77127-277-3

I received the first chapter of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.