Book Blast: Left Behind


LeftBehindWhat would you do if everything you were taught about your home planet was a lie?

What would you do if you were Left Behind?

ENDIRION is a thirteen year old boy like any other. Except his skin is green and it glows. And he doesn’t have any hair on his head or anywhere else on his body. Oh and he lives in a cave underground. But so does everyone on the poisoned Mother Planet. There is little to eat and what they do have is as mutated as the people themselves. Fuel is scarce and technology exists only in history books.

Or so they are told.

When Endirion and his classmate Harlo are sentenced to hard labor at the Dump they see things that go against everything they have ever known about their planet. Determined to find out the truth the boys set off on a dangerous journey that pits them against angry marshals, mysterious animals, mutant humanoids, and lands them in the belly of a Monstruwhale. It is a harrowing quest that takes them down remote tunnels, across the Lake of Fire, into the Madlands and a whole new world.

The first book in the Left Behind Trilogy is now available for pre-order on most major online retailers for just $2.99! A paperback version will also be available on the release date of December 5th. Until then you can download the ebook for free in exchange for your honest review. Visit Story Cartel today for your own free copy. Happy reading!


RIMG_7068 (640x427). Anne Polcastro wrote her first book when she was five years old. It was only twenty some words long, typed up by her kindergarten teacher, and bound with construction paper and yarn . . . but it was the beginning of a dream that would later eat at the grown up her until she quit her boring office job to write more books. And while she no longer dictates fantasies about wild ponies to someone sitting at an old school typewriter, Polcastro’s stories still revel in the speculative. For example, in her Left Behind Trilogy, a series of middle grade sci fi adventures, she gives a teenage alien the reigns to a wild adventure.

Polcastro was born and mostly raised in the Pacific Northwest. When she wasn’t there, she was growing up on the other side of the Mexican border, which is why she learned to read and write in Spanish first (not that she can speak anything but English very well, and even that can be a challenge early in the morning). And while it was hard to love all of the wetness again after the desert, Polcastro still hails from the rain infested northwest where she lives with her two kids and their family dog.

You can purchase and learn more about the books here:

Guest Post: How to Incorporate Your Own Experience into Fiction

by Jenny S. Burke, author of The Dragon Dreamer 

Someone once said that writing good fiction is the art of lying convincingly. An author needs detailed subject knowledge to create realistic fiction with intricate detail. Using our own experiences adds another layer of understanding and “believability” with the senses and emotions. We know the true sights, sounds, smells, taste, texture, temperature, and movement involved in the experiences. We know how we felt. Memories are a rich treasure trove where an author can discover the unique details that help define a book.

DragonDreamerThe Dragon Dreamer is a MG/YA science fantasy/adventure with flying dragons, an undersea world, and an unexpected friendship. When an undersea volcano erupts it triggers a towering tsunami and a deadly chain of events. Can Arak use his unique talents and alliances to save the dragons?

I worked as a marine biologist for years, so the sea flowed into my book. I dove on coral reefs, skimming above a riot of camouflage and color. I held still and watched, suspended in space. Sometimes I spent an entire month at sea, beyond the sight of land, living in the center of a blue circle. I learned to walk with the sea. And I put this into my book:

After many weeks at sea, Arak (a young dragon) stumbled on the shore. “The boat had been in constant motion. For dragon-weeks he had walked with the sea, his knees loosely bent. As the boat pitched from side to side he automatically veered left and then right. Arak matched the movements of the restless sea. He anticipated the rising deck with a raised foot. Now, he lifted a foot and nothing moved to meet it. He almost fell.”

My boss sent me out into a storm to conduct research. I knew this was a bad idea, but I loved my job too much to risk it by refusing to go. Soon I was battling huge waves and did not think I would return, but the sheer power of the sea was amazingly beautiful. I survived and, later, cheerfully tossed Arak into that storm. I grew dragon wings and remembered the details:

“Arak reefed the sails to shorten them as the wind grew stronger. He furled his own wings, too. It felt unnatural to keep his wings so tightly folded against his back, but he did not want to be blown overboard . . . Arak fought to head diagonally into the huge waves, his muscles straining until they burned. The boat would flip and sink if it was caught broad-side. He thudded across gray hills in a jarring, uneven rhythm that knocked him off his feet again and again. He struggled upright each time, bruised, never releasing the sail ropes. The cold, relentless rain chilled him to the bone . . . Arak’s arms were on fire, his body was frozen, and his mind was a fog of exhaustion.”

Our experiences can provide vivid details for the story. When much of a book is detailed fact, it’s hard to discern the detailed fiction. Where does fact end and fiction begin? The entire story becomes believable.

I looked into the eyes of a deep-sea octopus and received a measuring gaze with silent questions. Octopuses are very intelligent beings with distinct personalities. Many octopus types can change color cell-by-cell and shape shift. Octopuses in captivity have formed strong friendships with people. One octopus became concerned after feeling the illness in her human friend, using the sensors in her arms. I studied these fascinating, alien Earth beings. And so Scree was born.

Scree uses her natural octopus abilities in a fantasy way, making skin pictures like a TV screen and helping an injured dragon at sea. “Her eight flexible arms were tactile marvels lined with suckers, and each sucker had millions of sensory cells. As Scree dressed the wound she felt the shape and texture of the break, sensed micro-changes in temperature and tasted the salty-metallic injury. She gathered detailed information to better treat her unusual patient.”

Arak and Scree become friends and learn to communicate without words. Celebrating success, “Scree flashed a rapid rainbow of brilliant colors, one after another: ruby-red, topaz, emerald, turquoise, and amethyst. Arak just grinned. He couldn’t have said it better himself.”

I blended my own experiences with real science and real fiction to create The Dragon Dreamer by J.S. Burke, now in paperback, kindle, nook, i-book, and stores. Learn more at See it on:

Interview with Pam Stucky – Author of The Universes Inside the Lighthouse

Universes 72dpi 380w 579h

Nikki’s Note: Following is an “interview” with Pam Stucky, the author of the new YA novel The Universes Inside the Lighthouse.

I say “interview” because I’ve been so swamped with stuff that I made Pam come up with her own interview questions. And she did a smashing job. So without further ado, here’s Pam!




Hi, everyone!

First, thank you so much to Nikki for letting me do a guest post/interview at her site! Nikki told me she was too busy to think up interview questions, so she let me think up my own, so here we go! Let’s see what happens …

Q: What do you think about the fact that Nikki didn’t think up interview questions for you?

A: Good question! I think it’s fantastic. I’m always delighted to see people setting boundaries in their lives. It’s far too easy to say “yes” when we want to say “no,” which can lead to too much saying “no” when we’d like to say “yes.” Brené Brown (whom I adore) once said something that really stuck with me: something along the lines of “The most boundaried people I have met are also the most compassionate.” When she said that, I had to write it down so I could stop and think about it later. It makes sense, when you think about it. If we know our boundaries, and we keep our boundaries, then we don’t end up putting our energy into being frustrated over people pushing us out of our boundaries. (And BTW if you don’t know Brené Brown, get thee over to her TED Talk about vulnerability—one of the best talks out there.) She also talks about the idea of ninety seconds of discomfort saving you hours of resentment—that is, if you can say “no” and sit with the discomfort of that moment, you’ll save yourself hours or days or years of resentment. Seriously, if you’re not familiar with Brené’s work, check her out. Amazing stuff.

 Q: Tell us about your book?

A: My latest book is a YA sci-fi, The Universes Inside the Lighthouse. When I started writing it, obviously it didn’t have a title yet, and I saved the document as “mystery adventure.” It’s light sci-fi, not the hard-core stuff, not Star-Trekky. More of an exploration of the universe(s). It’s YA because the protagonists are teens, but I didn’t scale down the vocabulary or the themes just because it was for a younger audience. Personally I think it’s good for all ages! As far as content, if any parents or educators are wondering, the content is appropriate for all ages.

My influences on this book were stories like A Wrinkle in Time and Doctor Who—that sense of boundless adventure, a little social commentary, some time travel and a lot of space travel, and places where everything is possible. On a deeper level, for those looking for a deeper level, this story is about loneliness, connection, discovering the powers within oneself, and dancing with the enemy.

Q: Pam, what’s on your mind today?

A: I’ll tell you what’s on my mind today: perfectionism, and the ways it keeps us from making progress toward our dreams. Let me ask all you readers something: How many of you know someone who died unexpectedly in the past twelve months? All of us, right? If we didn’t know someone personally, we knew of someone. I’m willing to bet every single one of us knows someone who died suddenly in the last year. Life is short, and there’s so much we want to do, and we’re not guaranteed anything more than this moment. So what’s stopping us? For many of us, it’s the fear that we aren’t good enough, we don’t know how to do whatever it is we want to do, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum. But we also know this: This life is the only one we know we have for sure. What are we going to do with this one messy, gorgeous, imperfect, short, precious life? I spent a whole heck of a lot of years worrying about whether I was good enough—or, more accurately, knowing I wasn’t. Now I’m trying to focus on a new idea: Worry less about whether you’re doing something exactly right, and worry more about whether you’re doing it at all. Less perfection, more action. Let other people worry about whether you’re good enough. Put your energy into making sure you are living your life. Give yourself permission to fail. Redefine failure. Redefine success. Live now.

For more thoughts on this, here’s an article I read yesterday: 5 Signs You’re Living Too Small

 Q: There are aliens in your book. Do you believe in aliens?

A: Honestly, it fascinates me that some people don’t believe aliens exist. Whether they’ve ever come to Earth, whether we’ll ever make contact—those things, I think, are up for debate. (For the record, my answers to those questions: probably not; hopefully.) But do they exist? I mean, the universe is HUGE. For us to be the only intelligent life, ever, anywhere, is so unlikely as to be almost absurd. So, if there’s other life out there, what is it like? That’s a fascinating question to me. When I die, if I get to ask any questions I want (and get the answers), one thing I’ll want to know about is life on other planets. The exciting thing, the fabulous and wonderful thing, is that as a writer, I get to speculate on these things all I want. I’m already planning some of the worlds that will be visited in the second book in this series, and it’s endlessly entertaining. Scientists posit that in infinite universes (Brian Greene, for example, is one who believes there are infinite universes), theoretically everything you can imagine is possible somewhere. Think about that. Seriously?? It’s mind-boggling, and I’m not even sure I agree with the idea, but if scientists are going to say that everything is possible somewhere, then for a writer, that’s a gold mine.

 Q: Tell us something about you that is relevant to this very moment.

A: I’m almost always cold, and right now, my toes are really really cold. But let me tell you, if any of you are always cold at night, try out fleece sheets. Oh my gosh! They are amazing! Sunbeam makes them, and I think JCPenney has a store brand. It’s like sleeping in a cloud. A warm, fuzzy, cozy cloud. On another note, I’m not a doctor, and this is not a prescription, but I’m convinced that when the tip of my nose gets really cold (which happens a lot) it’s because my blood calcium is low. I have not done any laboratory experiments to confirm this hypothesis, but when my nose gets cold I take some calcium and it seems to help. (If you’re going to do the same you should talk with your doctor first blah blah blah.)

 Q: That’s not really about writing, Pam.

A: Well, it is and it isn’t. I once went to hear Barbara Kingsolver speak—actually, that’s a lie; I’ve heard her speak twice. The first time I went to hear Barbara Kingsolver speak, she talked about the importance of writers having hobbies and lives and even jobs outside of writing. Her point was that your characters can’t just sit around and think about stuff; they have to do things. Having a rich, active life as a human being helps a writer create rich, interesting characters. So, if I have characters who, for example, have cold toes, they could have fleece sheets and that would be endlessly interesting. (Well, maybe not.)

And, for the other writers or aspiring writers in the crowd, here’s another tidbit from Barbara Kingsolver. She talked about being in the New York Times top ten bestsellers list, and about how diverse the list was when she was in it. She said she envisioned a giant football field with all the fans of each of the top ten books, and it occurred to her that there was probably very little overlap. Her point was that not everyone is going to like your book—but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. It means, find your audience and write to them. You can be in the top ten and still have people who couldn’t give a rat’s behind about what you have to say. So write for the people who do, and don’t worry about the rest.

Q: You just mentioned “aspiring writers.” Do you have more thoughts on that phrase?

A: Funny you should ask. Yes, yes I do. If you’re calling yourself an aspiring writer, stop. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. If you’re not writing, and you think of yourself as an aspiring writer, stop thinking and start writing, and call yourself a writer. Claim it. Do it. Write. Own it. This, as they say, is not a dress rehearsal. Be a writer.

Q: Pam, Nikki said not to make your interview pages and pages. Maybe you should wrap this up?

A: Good point. She did say that. Okay, well, for all who have made it this far, thanks for reading. If you like a great book of adventure and fun, with a deeper but hopefully not in-your-face message, if you liked A Wrinkle in Time and/or Doctor Who, then check out The Universes Inside the Lighthouse! If you love it, tell all your friends! If you hate it, well, let’s just keep that between us friends.

Q: Where can people find you and your books?

A: Info below. Come by Twitter or Facebook and say hi! Thanks, everyone! Thanks, Nikki!

Buy links: The Universes Inside the Lighthouse

Amazon (print)

Amazon (Kindle)

Amazon UK (print)

Amazon UK (Kindle)

Kobo                 Nook

More information on and purchasing information for Pam’s other books at

Connect with Pam Stucky


pamstuckyAuthor Bio

Pam Stucky, a native of the Pacific Northwest, is the author of the Wishing Rock series (novels with recipes), starting with Letters from Wishing Rock, and the Pam on the Map travelogue series, books that take readers along on Pam’s journeys and adventures around the world. The Universes Inside the Lighthouse, Pam’s eighth book, is Pam’s first foray into both YA and sci-fi. The Universes Inside the Lighthouse is available in print at Amazon, and in ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.


Book description: The Universes Inside the Lighthouse

Introducing the Balky Point Adventures!
An exciting new series, reminiscent of A Wrinkle in Time with just a dash of Doctor Who, that will take readers on adventures throughout space and time.

The Universes Inside the Lighthouse:

Seventeen-year-old Emma and her twin brother Charlie think they’re in for a boring summer vacation. That is, until Emma notices something unusual in the lighthouse lobby. Unraveling this mystery proves to be just the beginning of an adventure that will take Emma, Charlie, and their unlikely new friends to distant planets, throughout the multiverse, and to a place where everything is possible … and will ultimately lead Emma to discover the unfathomable powers that reside within her own mind.


Book Blitz: Spring Knight by Mia Hoddell


Spring Knight

by Mia Hoddell

Genre: YA Romance

Release date: November 14th 2014

Length: Novella


She wants the leading role in everything but her own life.

Kayleigh Barrow always gets the leading role. Top of her class, well liked, and a good actress, she’s most comfortable on stage where she can pretend to be someone else and forget the real Kayleigh exists. However, when auditions for the latest production are opened up to the entire university, the lines between fantasy and reality start to blur.The last person Kayleigh expected to audition was Aiden Hanson. Renowned player and popular on campus, Kayleigh has tried to conceal her feeling from him for years. She knows it would be stupid to think he’d want her or an actual relationship, but when they’re thrown together in the production, Kayleigh can no longer hide from him.No matter how much she tries to distances herself, he’s always there. Neither of them can deny their attraction, but Kayleigh has to question Aiden’s motives. He’s never had a serious relationship and she refuses to be another conquest. Yet, when her acting starts to become real and she can no longer hide behind her character, Kayleigh must decide whether Aiden’s worth the risk, or if he’s only after a challenge and will end up breaking her heart.

Spring Knight is the 4th book in the Seasons of Change series. However, all books are standalone reads so can be enjoyed separately, but can also be enjoyed as part of a series because characters overlap.

Out Now!



You can also download the first three Amazon best-selling novellas:
Summer Demons
Winter Angel
Autumn Ghosts
for only 99c/77p here.



Black. It was the only colour she could see as she stood on top of the platform. Her
vision had tunnelled with the waves of vertigo that hit her body, allowing only
the dark colour into her eye line. With the strength of a gale force wind, it
pounded on her chest, causing her to stumble back as its icy hold sent a shiver
along her spine. The break from seeing the ground wasn’t enough, though. She
couldn’t go far enough to feel safe. If she moved more than one step in any
direction she would fall.
She felt dizzy … lightheaded.
It was the worst possible time to find out she was scared of heights, but maybe it was the thought of jumping rather than the actual distance. Not only did she feel
faint, but also sick. Kayleigh didn’t even know how those two actions could combine, but she let out a nervous giggle and hoped another type of blackness would capture her mind before she made a complete fool of herself. It probably made her sound insane, but she couldn’t stop the sound.
No longer could she find the answer to why she was on a platform, willing herself to fall. It had seemed logical and easy on the climb up, but now she suddenly felt as if she was standing on top of a building, rather than a few metres in the air. Her heart was pounding in her chest; the rhythm frantic as she urged herself to peer over the edge once more. Palms slick with sweat, her fingers slipping over each other, she twitched nervously as she strained her neck to catch a glimpse of the floor.
“I can do this. Just lean back and it will all be over,” she muttered to herself, only adding to the crazy image she had going on.


People were shuffling anxiously on the ground, unsettled by her actions. “Block them out, Kayleigh. You can do this,” she chanted ritually under her breath before
she inhaled sharply. Slowly counting, she exhaled with a deep sigh when she reached twenty. Her whole body relaxed with the action and Kayleigh closed her eyes, trying to find a sense of peace and stillness. Unfortunately, all it did was make her knees weaker. Reopening her eyes, Kayleigh kept her head up and her chin parallel with the floor. If she didn’t look down, what she was about to do couldn’t scare her … at least that’s what she told herself.
About the Author
Mia Hoddell lives in the UK with her family and two cats. She spends most of her time writing or reading, loves anything paranormal and has an overactive imagination that keeps her up until the early hours of the morning.
With three poems published before the age of sixteen, Mia moved on to short stories but finding she had too much to tell with too little space, Mia progressed to novels. She started her first series (The Wanderer Trilogy) at the age of fourteen and since then hasn’t stopped writing. Elemental Killers is her second series and with an ever growing list of ideas, Mia is trying to keep up with the speed at which her imagination generates them.
Connect with Mia:
Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Google+ | Amazon Author Pageor subscribe to Mia’s Newsletter for information on: ARCs, giveaways and new releases



Book Review: Ghosts of Belle Isle





Belle IsleTitle: Ghosts of Belle Isle

Author: Steven K. Smith

Middle Grade Adventure

Book Blurb:

Legend says that the haunting lights over the rapids on the James River at night are the ghosts of long-dead soldiers still fighting the Civil War. Just past the water lies historic Belle Isle, the former Union soldier prisoner-of-war camp, now a city park filled with crumbling ruins and dark wooded trails. When brothers Sam and Derek explore the island and local monuments to Richmond’s past on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with their friend Caitlin, some ghosts may be more alive than they expected!

Join the adventure as the kids face their fears and a confederate biker gang led by the notorious Mad Dog DeWitt. Along the way they’ll explore the island, suspended bridges, hidden hideouts, and secret graveyard ceremonies, while learning about Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis and more.

My Review:

I’m a big fan of Steven K. Smith’s books. I think they’re great for a couple of reasons: they teach kids history, and they send kids on a quirky and sometimes scary mystery.

This book, the third in the series, was solid on the history part, but did lack a bit in the mystery department. There really wasn’t one. There was an adventure, to be sure, and a lesson learned, and the story was still definitely fun and easy to read. As a native Virginian, every time I read these books, I get nostalgic for home, and places I remember. So I love reading them. But I was expecting the boys to solve a mystery in this one, and that didn’t happen.

I’m still giving it four stars, because I love the series and the book was still fun. The premise was set up well, but many questions were left unanswered. The mystery on Belle Island was never satisfactorily solved, for me anyway. What were the lights all about? What happened to the kid that disappeared many years ago?

That said, the characters in this story are entertaining, and, if you live in the Richmond area, this book might prompt kids to want to get out and explore Belle Island. I know I want to go there now–that was one spot I’ve never visited when I lived there.

Check out the book here:   Amazon       Goodreads

Book Review: Bingo Summer

Bingo SummerTitle: Bingo Summer
Author: Dawn Malone
Genre: Upper MG
Book Blurb:
On her thirteenth birthday, Summer Haas scratches the lottery ticket her mom tucked into her birthday card and the down-on-their-luck family become instant millionaires. Then the attention gets crazy in their small Illinois town, and the family moves north to ‘disappear’ in the Chicago suburbs. Summer’s new home might as well be on the Moon, it’s so different from where she used to live.Suddenly, Summer is a candidate for student council, trades her t-shirt and jeans for mall-brand clothes, and throws a party for her entire grade even though she didn’t invite a single guest. Everyone wants Summer to be someone other than herself, including the super-popular Suri who Summer hopes will be her new best friend. There’s Mara who wants Summer to forget about competing with her for third base when softball season comes. And Summer just wants to avoid Dink and Anna even though she has more in common with them than she wants to admit.

But when Mara discovers how Summer’s family made their millions, and threatens to tell the whole school, Summer needs a friend more than ever. Can Summer fit in AND stay true to herself?

My Review:
Winning the lottery is one thing everyone dreams about, but how would your life change if it actually came true? Summer finds out in this enjoyable novel.
The characters in this book, especially Summer’s quirky, eccentric mother, are well-written and relatable, and the book moves at a good pace. There’s good conflicts and lessons learned (dealing with “mean girls”, overcoming the “shame” of coming from a poor background, the scary thought of losing old friends) and a nice hint at romance.
I’d consider this a more upper-level middle grade book, almost YA, but would recommend it, definitely. It was well-written and fun to read. The story might be strengthened by more up-to-date references (emailing instead of writing letters–I doubt many kids know what a postage stamp is nowadays), but besides little things like that, I had fun reading this one :D

Book Review: The Great Cat Nap




Cat NapTitle: The Great Cat Nap

Author: A.M. Bostwick

Author’s Blurb:

Ace is a hard-core newspaper reporter. He’s tenacious, confident, and assertive. He’s also a cat. When the famous show cat Ruby the Russian goes missing, Ace is on the story. But he bites off more than he can chew when he agrees to play detective and find the prize-winning cat, believed to have been kidnapped by animal smugglers. Calling on his feline friends, a few dogs, and even a boastful rat nemesis, Ace’s investigation will lead him from the most respected parts of town to the lowly haunts of the underground alley cat system. He’ll have to try to break a cat out of the pound for priceless information and get into a single-pawed battle with smugglers before getting his shot at solving the dangerous crime, culminating on a chilly October night in the gray and lonely streets of downtown.

My Review:

I did enjoy this book. I liked the cats’ very human characteristics, and the hijinks they get into. Ace and his friends are off to solve the mystery of a missing show cat. Was she stolen? Ran away? Ace is determined to find out, and many of his adventures are fun to read.

The first half of the book is mostly Ace chasing down leads, most of which don’t seem to go anywhere. So it takes a while to get to any real action and danger. I think the book could have been made a little stronger by introducing elements of danger sooner. It would have made for a more gripping read.

Still fun though, especially if you like cats!


Book Review: Lycanthor the Werewolf




lycanthorTitle: Lycanthor the Werewolf (The Dragonfyre Blade Series, #1)

Author: Aiden Storm

About the Book:

Thirteen year old Jack is spending the summer at his Aunt’s house in the country. Unfortunately, it’s done nothing but rain and he’s stuck in her old mansion without cable or internet. Bored and alone, he sets out to explore the house. When he reaches the attic, he finds an intricate and unusual mural painted on the walls. Life for Jack gets turned upside down when he stumbles and is transported through a portal into a magical world.

For Jasyra, the daughter of the High King, life couldn’t be worse. Her father has been turned to glass, her kingdom has been taken over by the Demon Emperor, and she and her friend, Evooku, have been exiled. The only way to save the land is to reassemble the Dragon Fyre Blade, but the Demon Emperor has hidden all six pieces and each is guarded by great mythical beasts. There is only one person who can help restore peace, but it has been said that he is not of their land.

When Jack awakens in the Great Forest of Karandur, he encounters Jasyra and Evooku. He discovers the only way home is to band together to fight the evil Lycanthor, a giant werewolf that guards a piece of the Dragon Fyre Blade. But first they have to make it through an enchanted land full of danger.

The Queen of Light appears to Jack and delivers a gift, as well as a revelation. He, Jasyra and Evooku form an unlikely friendship along the way and lasting bonds are made when they realize they are Karandur’s only hope. Will the trio be able to defeat
Lycanthor and save the kingdom from an eternity of despair?

My Review:

Overall, this is a book I think kids, especially boys, will like. There’s pretty much nonstop action without any down time, which will keep kids interested. The idea behind the story is a good one–a sword has been shattered and the only way to restore things is to find all the pieces and bring them back together. Fighting off werewolves is always exciting and appealing, and one part of the sword is captured in the end, paving the way nicely for other short books to follow.
The reason I didn’t rate this book higher was because there was very little character development, so I did have a hard time getting interested in or having much sympathy for the characters. Jack is a bored kid with nothing to do, but he doesn’t have a defining trait that sets him apart–some weird quirk or an internal struggle he’s trying to overcome–and because that’s missing, the book seems very one-dimensional. And while that’s not going to have much effect on young boys who want to read about kids fighting werewolves, it might be hard to make this into a sustaining series, without adding a bit more depth to it.

Book Review: Wishing Will






by Daniel Harvell

MG Mystical Realism/Fantasy

About the Book:

Outcast middle schooler Will Cricket spends all of his time wishing for a better life. He wants a new look, popular friends, cool parents and enough coordination to dribble a basketball – but he never actively pursues any of it. When the magical wishing corporation known as the Sky Castle Network and Enterprises (a.k.a. the SCENE) agrees to grant him his ultimate wish to be someone different, he must work for his reward. Becoming a super-powered agent for the organization, Will teams up with a celestial wish agent with delusions of Hollywood stardom, a shape-changing half-Genie, a narcoleptic Dreamweaver and a stick-in-the-mud wish lawyer. Together, they grant the wishes of Will’s classmates and family members, helping the same people who pick on Will every day. As if these challenges weren’t enough, there’s a mystery surrounding his peculiar grandmother and a malevolent force bent on enslaving humanity. In order for his dream to come true, Will may have to fight for not only the wish but also for the entire world!

My Review:

The idea behind “Wishing Will” is incredibly cool and original. I really enjoyed this story–the character development is great, and the struggles Will has to overcome are very real struggles that kids can relate to. You end up liking everyone in this story–the good guys anyway–they all have their faults and foibles, which is what makes them interesting.

The story is definitely unique and has some great twists and turns to it. It isn’t too long or too short–just right for a middle grade book. There are quite a few characters
though, and sometimes I had a hard time keeping track of them, and because of that, the story got a little confusing in places, but not enough to put a damper on the fun of reading this. I’d definitely recommend this to kids–and adults too!

Get it here: AMAZON



Book Review: Jack Templar Monster Hunter




Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000030_00040]Book Title: Jack Templar Monster Hunter

Middle Grade Fantasy

Author: Jeff Gunhus

About the Book:

Orphan Jack Templar has no memory of his parents and only the smallest details from his Aunt Sophie about how they died. The day before Jack’s fourteenth birthday, things start to change for him. At first it’s great: A sudden new strength helps him defend his nose-picking friend “T-Rex” from the school bully, and even his crush, Cindy Adams, takes notice. But then a mysterious girl named Eva arrives and tells him two facts that will change his life forever. First, that he’s the descendent of a long line of monster hunters and he’s destined to be in the family business. Second, that there’s a truce between man and monster that children are off-limits…until their fourteenth birthday! Jack has only one day before hundreds of monsters will descend on his little town of Sunnyvale and try to kill him.

As if that weren’t enough, things get even more complicated when Jack discovers that the Lord of the Creach (as the monsters are collectively known) holds a personal grudge against him and will do anything to see that Jack has a slow and painful death. To stay alive and save his friends, Jack will have to battle werewolves, vampires, harpies, trolls, zombies and more. But perhaps the most dangerous thing he must face is the truth about his past. Why do the other hunters call him the last Templar? Why do they whisper that he may be the “One?” Why do the monsters want him dead so badly?  Even as these questions plague him, he quickly discovers survival is his new full-time job and that in the world of monster hunters, nothing is really what it seems.

My Review:

This is a fun start to the series. I enjoyed it–it had just enough of a different twist to make it interesting. There’s a lot of action to keep kids’ interest, a bunch of gory monster fights, lots of surprising twists and turns, and a neat background story. I liked how Jack starts this book with a warning to all readers (although I thought it went on a little too long) on how if you read the book, you’re now under the curse of being a monster hunter too (kind of like “The Ring” curse, for kids). The character development was pretty good; I especially enjoyed Jack’s friends, the snarky Will and the wussy but determined T-Rex.

The crux of the story pretty much all takes place in one night, and I did feel like everything happened a little too fast, but I think that’s what the author intended. By the end, nothing was what it seemed like at the beginning, and I never felt like the story dragged, and the ending does set up the scene for following adventures.

This book will probably appeal more to boys than girls, but I think any kid into monsters and some mythology will enjoy this story.