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

TC&TBC

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

LuthiersApprentice_med

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

TC&TBC

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.

dubois

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

Down Under3_cover

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/

=========================

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:
http://tinyurl.com/9npjy9n

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/margotfinke/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Margot10

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

TC&TBC

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.

First Chapter Review: Sky Girl And the Superheroic Adventures by Joe Sergi

TC&TBC

Joe Sergi is on tour with the second book in his Sky Girl series, Sky Girl And the Superheroic Adventures. This is a young adult superhero fantasy novel.

Sky-Girl-Front-CoverBLURB:  Being a teenage girl is hard enough, but for DeDe Christopher, it is proving impossible.

In addition to cliques, books, and boys, she has to worry about capes, apes, and aliens. Last year, DeDe discovered that she possessed fantastic abilities that were strangely similar to those of a comic book character named SkyBoy.

With the help of her best friend Jason, a self-professed comic geek, DeDe accepted her legacy and became Sky Girl. Now, DeDe must learn what it means to be a heroine as Sky Girl faces the all too real enemies and allies of SkyBoy, including the clever Quizmaster, the beautiful Penny Pound, the enigmatic Jersey Devil, and the magical MissTick.

DeDe must also face personal challenges as she discovers the secrets of her late father and his connection to Skyboy–secrets that will affect Sky Girl’s destiny.

COVER: I’ve loved both Sky Girl covers for their vibrant, eye-catching colors. As a comic book fan in my childhood, this cover definitely brings me back to those days of Wonder Woman and Superman.

FIRST CHAPTER: Nick is walking along warily by City Hall Park in Manhattan when a noise catches his attention. With crime elevated in the city, you can’t be too careful. After accidentally being knocked on his keister by a young girl in a trench coat, he feels somewhat more at ease, thinking she was the source of the noise. He quickly finds out how wrong he is and, as the criminals descend upon him, Nick comes face-to-face with Sky Girl.

KEEP READING: Sure thing.  After a moving prologue, which the author cleverly titles Chapter 0, the action quickly takes front and center. While I was a bit surprised DeDe, a.k.a. Sky Girl, wasn’t the first character we meet in Chapter 1, it’s a smart and classic move. How often was Superman or Batman in the opening scene? Um, never. The crime is in progress and then the superhero shows up. This shows Sergi’s knowledge of the genre in which he writes; always a pleasure.

Because of Chapter 0, you know there is a lot more to DeDe’s story than meets the eye. But you don’t get into that at all in the first chapter. I like that air of mystery surrounding her. It compels me to move through the story to see how DeDe is coping with what transpired in her past. Comic relief is provided by DeDe’s attempt at witty banter with an as yet unknown entity.  It’s confusing for poor Nick as he listens to her talk to someone or something he can’t see.

After this strong opening, I look forward to reviewing the rest of the book later in the tour.

AMAZON PAPERBACK

AMAZON KINDLE

BARNES AND NOBLE

  • Series: Sky Girl Series
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Martin Sisters Publishing (May 28, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1625530277
  • ISBN-13: 978-1625530271
  • ASIN: B00D4FHE7U

Joe Sergi lives outside of Washington, DC with his wife and daughter. Joe is an attorney and a Haller Award winning author who has written articles, novels, short stories, and comic books in the horror, Joe Sergi photoscifi, and young adult genres. Joe is the creator of the Sky Girl series of novels and the editor of Great Zombies in History. His first novel, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy was selected Best of 2010 by the New PODler Review. Joe is a life-long comic fan who regularly writes on the history of comics and censorship for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. A complete list of Joe’s titles is available atwww.JoeSergi.net. When not writing, Joe works as a Senior Litigation Counsel in an unnamed US government agency and is a member of the adjunct faculty at George Mason University School of Law.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/joesergi1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joe-Sergi/25641644989

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3209002.Joe_Sergi

I received a free PDF version of this book from the author, who is on a tour with Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Sky Girl 2 banner

First Chapter Review: Chasing Memories by Tia Silverthorne Bach and Giveaway

TC&TBC

Tia Silverthorne Bach is on a virtual book tour this month to promote her coming-of-age story, Chasing Memories. I have agreed to review the first chapter of this novel for the tour.

Chasing_Memories_Final_FOR WEB 5713

BLURB: There isn’t another way; not now. The others are coming. I can’t let them have you…

Seventeen-year-old Reagan has a problem: She can’t remember what happened the night her brother was taken.

Now, the dreams haunting her from the incident are becoming more intense by the day. All the while, the lines between what’s real and what’s a product of her paranormal-obsessed mind are becoming blurred.

Is she losing her mind or has she just stepped into a world she thought only existed in books?

Caught in a web of worried parents, competing boys, Wiccan relatives, protective amulets, and psychiatrist babble, Reagan must determine the truth before it’s too late.

COVER: Very intriguing. Though based upon the prologue and first chapter I have no idea what the werewolf (maybe) peering through the the bushes has to do with the story line, this is an excellent cover choice for the genre. This will be a dramatic story that involves family, hunting, and the paranormal, so the creepy eyes staring out at the reader catches your attention.  All covers should be this good.

FIRST CHAPTER: Reagan is bored by life in Superior, Colorado. Not much happens there and she is forced to deal with a mom who seems like she’s trying to become BFFs with Reagan and her friends, an outdoorsman of a father who has planned a family vacation to Yellowstone where she’ll be stuck camping in a tent and freezing her butt off, and an annoying little brother who she has to drive everywhere.

It’s her senior year in high school and she should be thrilled that her boyfriend Dex is so into her, but she’s not. Like her parents, he seems to run her life. But hopefully things will change when she heads off to college next year.

KEEP READING: If I had to base my opinion solely upon the first chapter, I would probably say no.  Reagan comes off as a bit of a whiner and not a tremendous amount happens that compels me to keep going.  There’s a party. Stuff happens. Reagan is unhappy about Dex and her parents running her life. But overall, she doesn’t come across as someone I want to get to know.

That all changes, however, when you read the prologue first. The events in the prologue actually occur a week later than what takes place in Chapter One.  The family is in Yellowstone when something unexpected and horrible happens. The prologue is so enticing and thrilling that a first chapter filled with everyday happenings in small town America drops the intensity from the top of the mountain to the lowest point in the valley.  The shift in pace is felt immediately.  My confusion increases when the second chapter brings the reader back to the events from the Yellowstone cliffhanger from the prologue.

I definitely plan to continue, but I hope the pace evens out a bit. I don’t mind peaks and valleys, but I don’t want to feel like I’m riding the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney, dropping thirteen stories each time I switch chapters.

Reviewer’s note: Due to the content of what I’ve read so far, I wouldn’t suggest this book for anyone under the age of 16.

Prices/Formats: $3.99 ebook, $12.99 paperback
Pages: 296
Publisher: self-published
Release: May 22, 2013

Kindle buy link ($3.99):
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D7TFM5E?tag=tributebooks-20

Amazon paperback buy link ($12.99):
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1484820541?tag=tributebooks-20

Barnes and Noble paperback buy link ($12.99):
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/chasing-memories-tia-silverthorne-bach/1115417703?ean=9781484820544Chasing Memories Tia author pic

Tia Silverthorne Bach is an avid reader, sometimes runner, involved wife and mother, and rabid grammar hound in addition to being a multi-genre writer. Her three daughters were born in Chicago, San Diego, and Baltimore; and she feels fortunate to have called many places home. She’s the award-winning co-author of Depression Cookies, a coming of age story written with her mother. Tia’s office is wherever her laptop takes her and any place that’s conducive to allowing a wild imagination like hers to flourish.

Tia Silverthorne Bach’s Web Site:
http://depressioncookies.com/

Tia Silverthorne Bach’s Author Blog:
http://depressioncookies.blogspot.com/

Tia Silverthorne Bach’s Book Review Blog:
http://etjrmbach.blogspot.com/

Tia Silverthorne Bach’s Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/tia.bach.author

Tia Silverthorne Bach’s Twitter:
https://twitter.com/Tia_Bach_Author

Tia Silverthorne Bach’s Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/TiaBach

Chasing Memories Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17909317-chasing-memories

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribute-Books-Blog-Tours/242431245775186

VISIT THE CHASING MEMORIES BLOG TOUR SITE TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN ENTER AND WIN A $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD OR PAYPAL CASH!

Chasing Memories blog tour site:
http://chasingmemoriesblogtour.blogspot.com/

I received a PDF version of this book from the author’s publicist. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.