Guest Book Review: The Battle for Princess Madeleine by Kirstin Pulioff


Book Review: The Battle for Princess Madeline
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 21, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1482790085
Genre: Fantasy/magic/adventure
Age: 12+
Five Stars

In book two of the Princess Madeline series we’re back in the Kingdom of Soron, in the midst of the Fall Festival. Apart from the fun and activity of this festive event, there is a special significance: Princess Madeline’s betrothal to her Champion Knight Daniel, who saved her during her previous escapade. Princess Madeline is starting to grow up as well, and apart from making her tutor’s life a misery with her questions, is taking a great interest in the kinds of things necessary for running a kingdom and being responsible for people. It seems that nothing will spoil this idyllic time, except the reappearance of the sly Prince Paulsen, making outrageous demands on King Theodore. Paulsen demands Madeline’s hand in marriage and when the king reminds the prince that although he rid the country of brigands, he did not actually save the princess himself, this leads to terrible events. War ensues, and at the same time Madeline must decide how she can help save the kingdom. The banished wizards risk the wrath of the king by appearing, with messages, clues, and advice. While Theodore and Daniel face Paulsen’s ravaging troops, Madeline makes her own decisions.

Kudos to author Kirstin Pulioff for introducing more entrancing back story regarding magical choices that Madeline and her twin brother made without knowing it. Fragments of their mother’s story come through, adding to the wizards’ role in this book, and indeed in the prehistory of Soron. I loved the element of magic and mystery that the wizards bring, with suggestions of building onto forthcoming events, when the Age of Dragons looms over Soron. Madeline develops a sense of maturity about life, and her relationship with Daniel. She also uses her wits and embarks upon a daring plan, so courage is part of her nature. The battle scenes and the grim results of Paulsen’s invasion are brought to life by the author’s gift for description. In fact, description is part of what makes the series so appealing. One can hear the clash of swords, the shouts of the soldiers or (on a more peaceful note) almost rub shoulders with Madeline as she gazes at a beautiful view. There is much to entice young readers in this tale of the Princess: action, adventure, a charming romance, magic, and of course, the promise of dragons to come. I am looking forward to book three.

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 She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Guest Book Review: The Escape of Princess Madeline by Kirstin Pulioff


Book Review: The Escape of Princess Madeline
Paperback: 120 pages
Publisher: Malachite Quills Publishing (November 28, 2012)
ISBN-13: 978-1623750367
Genre: Fantasy/magic/adventure
Age: 12+

4 stars

Princess Madeline lives in the fairy tale kingdom of Soron, with a loving father and twin brother, Braden, a castle of servants at her beck and call, a charmed and pampered existence … and yet, she is not happy. For one thing, her father King Theodore has decided that at the ball to celebrate her sixteenth birthday, a suitor will be chosen for her. This indignity totally offends Madeline who is quite capable of making her own decisions. She wants freedom, independence, the ability to make her own choices, and—very importantly—to choose her future husband for herself. The only thing to do is run away; desperate measures for sure, but a drastic situation calls for an equally drastic response. Her disappearance throws the castle and indeed the whole kingdom into total turmoil, with Knight Daniel, her champion and protector, setting off to find her. Various princely suitors (mostly unsuitable!), but eager to court favour with the king, also set off on their own missions to retrieve the princess. Madeline, however brave she feels inside, is completely unprepared for life in the real world. Her inexperience and ignorance land her in the clutches of brigands. Daniel, meanwhile, has done the unforgivable; he has approached the wizards, now banished from the kingdom, for their help. Will he find Madeleine in time? Have the wizards betrayed him? And why is the creepy Prince Paulsen so interested in saving Madeleine?

This is a traditional fairy tale with a realistic twist. The princess does start out as a bit spoiled, but a few nights on her own, braving brigands and an inhospitable environment soon shake her up. Parents reading this will smile at the part where Madeline deeply regrets giving up what she had for what she thought she wanted: isn’t that what life is all about? This is a life lesson in a dynamic package as she comes to terms with her own selfish desires versus what her responsibilities as future princess would be. She also realises how much pain she has caused those who love her. The author’s strength lies in wonderful, rich descriptions that entice all the readers’ senses. From the opulence of the palace, to the terrors of the forest, to the magicality and enchantment of the wizard realm, the readers will experience it first-hand. Although the story seems simple, there is a strong back history that no doubt comes into play with the subsequent books. There is also a strong hint that certain people are not who they appear to be. I would have liked a more detailed back history, instead of a prologue to create Soron’s past and delve deeper into King Theodore’s painful memories. I hope this is developed more in the following books. Charming, and with enough fairy tale elements to satisfy young readers, this book sets a nice beginning for the Princess Madeleine Trilogy by Kirstin Pulioff.


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 She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Interview with Melanie Roberston-King, Author of A Shadow in the Past

Melanie author photo croppedAlways a fan of the written word, Brockville born and raised, Melanie spent many of her formative years reading.

The writing bug first bit when she was about thirteen, but the itch subsided and it wasn’t until a number of years later that she put “pen to paper” and began writing again.

Prior to returning to fiction, Melanie wrote articles for various publications for a number of years and has been published in Canada, the US and the UK.

In addition to writing, her interests include genealogy, photography and travel – especially to Scotland, although Paris rates high on her “must return to” bucket list as well. On one of her trips to Scotland, she had the honor of meeting The Princess Royal, Princess Anne.

A Shadow in the Past is her debut novel.

You can find her website – Melanie Robertson-King Author – at

Her blog – Celtic Connexions – is at

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

I was born in Brockville, Ontario, Canada and have lived in or around the city all of my life. Before my parents moved into the city when it was time for me to start primary school, we lived in a winterized cottage along the St. Lawrence River. The river is in my blood and I like to say that where I live now, I have a river view. Okay, you have to stand on the sidewalk out front of my house and look south but you can see the river.

My father was born in Scotland and although I’m Canadian by birth, I’m Scottish in my heart. So much so that I bought my husband and I plots of land in the “auld country”. Okay, these plots are only one square foot each but it’s enough that we can be called “Laird” and “Lady”.  *grin*

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

My first attempt at writing was the summer after I graduated from grade 8. I wrote a story about some glamorous girls who were the partners of the hunks on the local hockey team. It went on… and on… and on. I don’t think it ever had a “proper” ending. But the neat thing was, I could draw reasonably well so illustrated it, too. Dare I refer to it as a graphic novel? 

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

Believe it or not, I never set out to write for the YA market. I had time-travel romance in my mind from day one, but with the age I made my protagonist, it made it a difficult sale. It wasn’t until much later when attending a Brian Henry (he’s a former editor from Harlequin) workshop that I heard the term YA Crossover. The bells and whistles went off and I knew then, that’s where my novel belonged.

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

I guess even though I’m 50+ years old, I still think of myself as a teenager, but with the knowledge I’ve acquired over the years. I love to read YA as much as any other genre so it’s a natural fit.

The biggest challenge is keeping true to the way teens talk. A further complication is that my book is set in Scotland so I have to use the words and phrases local to that area. Having travelled through the country (long before I began writing seriously), there is a great variation in expressions from one part of the country to another.

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

This is the back cover blurb which tells it all in just one paragraph.

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages; powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

What inspired you to write it?a shadow in the past cover 500x773

I had just finished reading the first four books in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.  When I first heard about this author and her books, I jumped at the chance to read them mostly because they were set in Scotland. A co-worker loaned me the first book in the series and before I finished it, my husband had bought me the set of books from our local independent bookstore. A friend (also a DG fan) said that I could write something just as good so why not give it a go? So I did.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

4RV Publishing:


Barnes & Noble:

What is up next for you?

I’m currently working on book two in my Shadows series, tentatively entitled Shadows from her Past.

Do you have anything else to add?

Believe it or not, I’m basically an introvert so I wasn’t sure how I would feel about putting myself and my work “out there.”  But now that I have, I’m loving every minute of it. I’ve met some wonderful people along the way and am no longer backwards about being forward.

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

Interview with Gary Ghislain, Author of How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend (Giveaway)

Joining us today is Gary Ghislain, author of the YA humorous sci-fi slash romance extravaganza also known as How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend.

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

Here is a bit a about moi: I was born in France and I grew up between Paris and the French Riviera. I studied literature and linguistics in Paris with the definite idea of becoming a fiction writer. After obtaining a master’s degree, I decided to travel the world while writing. I lived and worked in Amsterdam, Lodz (Poland), London, Wellington (New-Zealand), and Stockholm, before returning to France.  I read and write in English, though my first language is French and I do speak like Inspector Jacques Clouseau. I now live in Antibes, in the French Riviera, where I write my novels, haunt the fantastic public library (a.k.a. la médiathèque), and occasionally enjoy the sun and the Mediterranean Sea. 

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I got bitten quite early. And it was quite a bad bite too. I submitted my first completed novel to uber French publisher Gallimard when I was 16. I punished them with one strange manuscript every year after that. Until I thought, ‘mince, alors!’ and swapped to writing in English.  I’ve always been bookish.  As a kid. As a teen. And now as a wannabe adult. And I’ve always pictured myself as a writer, especially after trying all sort of odd jobs (everything but hanging people, as one of my colleagues once told me) and becoming a real ace at resignation letters. 

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

I didn’t really choose that genre. I don’t even choose my characters or my stories. I don’t go like, “why don’t you write a vampire story where every teenager is either vampire, werewolf or food?”  and, poof, go off to a laptop and write a book. It goes the other way around for me: I need the characters and their story to choose me. I’m like Joan of Arc, in that aspect: to get into action, I need to hear a voice inside my head, the voice of my main character and narrator. If that voice belongs to a teenager, as David in How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend, then I will write a YA title. 

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

I love bringing back themes that were important to me when I was a teenager: first romance, the on-going war against adults, rebellion against the machine, the supernatural etc. I also love trying to impress the teen I used to be. I love nudging him and bringing him back to life and making him laugh too.

The greatest challenge, of course, is to stay true to that teenage boy I used to be, while at the same time staying true to the adult I’ve become. I remember my teenage years as being very intense and wild and dangerous and rebellious. But as an adult and a parent, I feel like I know better. I’ve given up on violence and destroying things and general wilderness. The hardest thing for me then, is to find a compromise between the adult I am and the teenager I used to be.    

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

How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend is about an earthling boy falling in love with a girl from outer space. David is the son of a famous French child psychologist. Zelda is his father’s new patient. Zelda believes she’s from outer space. David believes she’s TOTALLY BONKERS. But totally bonkers doesn’t mean much to a boy who’s 14 and in love, and soon David and Zelda are tearing around Paris as she looks for her chosen one so that she can take him back to her planet. And who is her chosen one? The same guy millions of girls wish they could fly away with: Johnny Depp!         

Interviewer’s note: I concur with that last statement, especially since the Pirates of the Caribbean movies–though I thought he was a cutie back during his 21 Jump Street days.

What inspired you to write it?

Somehow, I’m always getting my ideas while traveling. Trains. Airplanes. Automobiles or Converse shoes. Every means of transportation goes. This one, I got it in a train, while crossing Sweden. I was thinking about the Norse mythology, the Valkyries, the Vikings, and the crude violence of the early Scandinavian cultures. And, well, I was mostly thinking about Swedish girls! And suddenly, between Gothenburg and Helsingborg, SHAZAM! Zelda was born. A violent space girl, a rude warrior and religious fanatic from outer space who would destroy anyone on her way to her soul mate. A few days later, I was walking through a wood toward Gothenburg City, thinking about Zelda’s story. I needed something more. Something very funny that would drive the story forward. Right there, I had my second SHAZAM moment: she wants what every girl wants: SHE WANTS JOHNNY DEPP! I started to laugh out loud and nearly ran back to my flat to write that story. 

Where can readers purchase a copy?

You can order it at my publisher website, or add it to your cart at, or just walk in your favorite bookstore and pick up a copy at the YA shelf, or just ask them to order it pronto. 

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Yes, I do occasionally blog and drop ’10-points-how-to’ lists at

What is up next for you?

Well, I’m working on a new hilarious YA title. Us versus the Galaxy – a fast paced humorous sci-fi meets romance YA extravaganza where all the adults turn into cold blooded Aliens (Invasion of the Body Snatchers Style) – and the teens/kids are left alone to do all the fighting and resistance– it has a good narrator with a funny voice and a deadpan sense of humor.

Do you have anything else to add?

Yes, I do: thank you so much for having me here

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

Now that y0u’re so stoked about this book, here’s how you can enter to win a free copy:

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Contest is open to residents of the United States only. Deadline for entries is 11:59 PM on June 28, 2011. A winner will be selected from all correct entries received. The winner will be notified by email and will have 72 hours to respond with mailing information. If we do not hear from the winner within the 72 hour time frame, a new winner will be selected.

Video Trailer for Across the Pond by Storyheart

Across the PondSomeone drew my attention to a promotional video for Across the Pond by Storyheart. Across the Pond is a teen romance between Fred, a boy visiting the United States from England, and Brittany, whose parents are entrusted with Fred’s care while he is in the States.

We reviewed this title here.

One of the things that can be most challenging about book promotion is to find a unique angle. Barry Eva, the writer known as Storyheart, did just that when he created this silent movie video trailer to promote Across the Pond. It looks like he got some help from his family.

Check it out!