Reviews

Labyrinth's Door – Anyia, Dream of a Warrior Receives 5 Stars

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Readers’ Favorite 5 Stars Labyrinth’s Door – Anyia, Dream of a Warrior is
available on Kindle http://amzn.to/VkEVyI and Nook http://bit.ly/ZfhkOD

 

Cherese Vines Book Review & Giveaway: Princess Kandake: Warrior By Choice…Appointed to Rule

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princess

Princess Kandake: Warrior By Choice…Appointed to Rule by Stephanie Jefferson follows the story of Princess Kandake, one of four of King Amani’s children. In a kingdom rich with culture, wealth and peace, girls can grow up to be artisans, warriors and even queen. Kandake desires to be a warrior and worries that Great Mother will not choose her to be Prime Warrior to the kingdom of Nubia. What she fears most comes to fruition when Great Mother not only doesn’t name her Prime Warrior, but she instead names her the next Queen of Nubia. How can she be what she’s been called to be while being who she was meant to be?

Princess Kandake is full of rich sights, aromas and sounds. It skillfully captures the feel of the Nile and the kingdom of Nubia and her people. It is a very peaceful and loving kingdom. Everything and everyone acts with respect and discipline above everything else even in the face of adversity and death. Princess Kandake’s family is loving and supportive. The royal children rarely do anything to shame themselves, their family or the kingdom. Nubian warriors are the epitome of warrior without match.

Rumors of war surface, and then Kandake’s elder brother Alara goes missing from a hunting trip. Tough decisions must be made to avoid war, maintain alliances and locate her brother. Kandake and her remaining siblings get a crash course in being leaders of Nubia. She in turn has to struggle with her warrior instincts and her role as Nubia’s next queen. Her character is tested several times and she grows in reconciling her desires with what is expected of her.

The different characters, from Kandake’s brothers to Great Mother to best friend Ezena are simplistic. They serve their purpose, but really stayed somewhat vague. I didn’t see a difference between Alara and the other brother Natasen in speech. We were told that they were different instead of shown. Although Princess Kandake’s sister Tabiry becomes a source of conflict, she is nothing more than annoying rather than an actual adversary.

The descriptions of Kandake’s home and way of life are vivid, including sounds and scents. One thing that I was impressed with was the description of how an animal was deemed “healthy” by scent. I thought that kept well with the time and place of the novel. Nowadays most people couldn’t tell much about nature except what we see on PBS.

Also, even though the story is set in the past, the speech is not so archaic that it is hard to follow. This is an easy read with quick chapters. Princess Kandake is well put together with some great description, and enough action and adventure to make it an interesting story.

On the downside, the “perfect” life of Nubia depicted, and the resolution of problems and conflicts are a bit too utopian. It lacks the drama and feeling of urgency and danger to make it truly great reading. For me, the conflicts did not elicit enough emotional response. However, with an open-ended conclusion, Princess Kandake may face greater dangers in the future that will draw me closer to the characters and their plights.

I would recommend this book for a quick read. Ages: 11+

Rating 3.7/5

Reviewed by Cherese Vines
I was provided with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway: Princess Kandake: Warrior By Choice…Appointed to Rule
by Stephanie Jefferson

In Nubia a woman can be whatever she chooses. At 14, Kandake knows exactly what she chooses…Prime Warrior of Nubia. But her grandmother has said that she will follow her father on the throne.

Refusing to abandon her warrior dreams she continues to train. When her brother is kidnapped, Kandake learns she must be both queen and warrior to win his release!

1 Copy available

Ending: December 2, 2012

To win? Leave a comment below about your interest in the book.

Winner will be chosen by Random.org and announced on December 3rd, 2012.

Open to U.S. residents only.

Find more book reviews by Cherese Vines here.

Kristi’s Book Nook Review of Galstanberry #3: The Girlz of Galstanberry Series

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Galstanberry 3

Galstanberry #3:
The Girlz of Galstanberry Series

Author: Garen S. Wolff
Illustrator: Little Tree Designs/Thornpallette
Publisher: Wolff House Books and Publishing
ISBN: 9780615668406

Available on Amazon

Review:

Galstanberry Academy is a pretty average school considering its prestige. The girls that attend have the same worries and concerns as any other school. They worry about their hair, nails, shoes and clothes. Making friends isn’t easy either. At Galstanberry, which friends you make can be the difference between winning or losing a class president election. At least this is the case for Team Tabitha and Team Brandi.

Tabitha and Brandi are roommates and competitors for the class presidency. Tabitha is well traveled, but Brandi is just the opposite. Tabitha finds Brandi to be very interesting. On the other hand, Brandi doesn’t hesitate to challenge Tabitha’s views and ideas. Both girls stubbornness create an environment that prohibits friendship from being an option. In order to bring awareness, in regards to the upcoming election, each team is preparing for an event for votes. Team Brandi has decided on a poetry slam to gather potential voters. Team Tabitha is planning to wear t-shirts advertising and honoring a vote for Tabitha theme, and of course there will be an order form for anyone who wants to buy a shirt in support of Tabitha. And so, the battle begins.

Wolff walks readers through the pains of being in school and the sixth grade. It’s not just about an education but finding out who you are and where you fit in. Young readers will recognize the mean girls, the book worms and the cliques that form in any social environment. Most of all, Wolff takes readers on a journey on how to stand up and be the person you can be. Wolff has also provided a fun read for young girls who are into all the girlie stuff, like fashion, accessories and hairdos.

Visit Kristi’s Book Nook for more book reviews and giveaways.

Kristi’s Book Nook Review of Colorful Kisses by author Melissa Fusarelli

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Colorful KissesColorful Kisses
Author & Illustrator: Melissa Fusarelli
Publisher: Perfected Pen Publishing
ISBN: 9780982773796

Review:

Molly is starting the day happy and ready to play. She asks her mommy what color are her kisses. Molly has all colors of kisses and they reflect her moods. Molly’s morning kisses are pink, soft and sweet just like cotton candy. When Molly learns something new her kisses are yellow. But when Molly can’t have her way her kisses turn dark.

Fusarelli has created colorful kisses on every page. Whimsical rhyme make for a fun read for any beginner. Soft pastel illustrations add warmth and depth to the meaning of this story. Parents and teachers will have fun sharing the colors and talking about the moods they represent. A really happy read for any preschooler who loves to smooch.

Visit Kristi’s Book Nook for more book reviews and giveaways.

MyMcBook Blog: Book Review & Giveaway: Countercharms 2 Of Stars and Dreams. Ends Jan 29th

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Countercharm 2:Of Stars and Dreams
by Cherese A. Vines

After Sydnie Knight called on the stars to destroy the man who terrorized her family, everything should have returned to normal. But as dreams reveal that he may have survived, Sydnie also discovers that she must stay on guard against her mother as well. Doubt and betrayal darken Sydnie’s heart when her mother, Antoinette, whisks her from home without an explanation. Her only hope against the evil energy threatening to consume her is to find her father. Can Sydnie change the horrible visions of her future, or will unlimited power seduce her and destroy any hope of reuniting her family?

Read all about the Author http://mymcbooks.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/interview-with-author-cherese-a-vines/#comments

Read review of Countercharms http://mymcbooks.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/book-review-giveaway-countercharm-by-cherese-a-vines-ends-august-10th/

My Review: This is the most entertaining fantasy series I’ve read to date. The author easily draws the reader into the book. It was like watching a movie. I like a book that keeps you wondering what’s going to happen next. I thought that the characters were great. Sydnie finally reunite with her mother but she still needed to find her father. If you like fantasy books then you will love this! I recommend you buy a copy of this book at Amazon.com

Ages: 9 and up

Pages: 225

Disclaimer: As per FTC guidelines, I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation. All opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.

Giveaway Ends January 29th. To Enter visit: MyMcBooks


Inside The Book of Ellen's Broom w/ Kelly Starling Lyons by JMcManus

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Hello Everyone,

I hope you’re all doing well in this New Year!

Welcome to Inside The Books. This is JMcManus with another post for you. Today’s post is part of Kelly Starling Lyons blog tour for the release of her new book Ellen’s Broom, a wonderful book about a young girl’s experience of freedom.

Ellen always knew that the broom resting above the hearth was special. Before it was legal for her mother and father to officially be married, the broom was what made them a family. But now all former slaves who had already been married in their hearts could register as lawful husband and wife.

As part of the blog tour Kelly Starling Lyons will be giving away a grand prize to anyone who leaves a comment on any of the tour stops. So please read the interview and review below and leave a comment for your chance to win a decorated wedding broom courtesy of Stuart’s Creations (www.stuartscreations.com) and a poster of the Ellen’s Broom cover. The winner will be drawn on January 16.

 

1. As a writer myself, I’m always interested in the creation of characters. Can you tell us about Ellen and how she became the character of your book?

While researching family history, I saw a Virginia cohabitation register that listed formerly enslaved couples, the dates of their marriages and the names and ages of their children. Though their marriages – sometimes celebrated by jumping a broom – weren’t legal during slavery, they were finally in 1866 protected by law. Freedmen’s Bureau officers registered the couples and even issued some marriage certificates. Ellen was the result of my imagining what it would be like for a girl whose parents finally have their marriage made legal.

It took an editor’s encouragement to see my research had potential for a story. Once I started working on it, I envisioned Ellen and her family and tried to imagine how they would feel to go from slavery to freedom. I could see her mama wanting to make sure the story of what they survived was not forgotten. The broom was a symbol that Ellen came to see as a special part of their history. It’s something she vowed to pass on.

2. During a time of change, from slavery to freedom, one constant in Ellen’s life was the broom her parents jumped during slavery. Can you tell us why it is so important for children of today to understand the history of brooms in marriage during that time period?

Today, it’s not unusual to attend an African-American wedding where the couple jumps the broom. But many children have no idea why they’re doing it. Ellen’s Broom helps give them a sense of the history. It shares what the broom ritual meant to enslaved families who could be torn apart at any time. Through the story, they see that even as Ellen’s family celebrated new freedoms – like finally having marriages of former slaves legalized — it was important to remember that past. I hope it helps children understand why jumping the broom is done by some couples in memory of that history now.

3. I was delighted to receive a small broom with my copy of Ellen’s Broom. Is that something that will ship out with every copy?

There’s a fun craft kids can do to make their own miniature broom out of a pencil. Directions are in the Ellen’s Broom craft and discussion guide created by author/educator Debbie Gonzales. Here’s the link: EllensBroomDiscussionActivityGuide.pdf.

4. Can you share with us an unknown fact about the book? Like something that appeared in the first draft that was edited out by the final draft.

One fact few people know is that I chose the name Ellen for the main character in honor of my maternal grandfather’s mother, Ellen Hairston Starling.  It was through researching her side of the family that I stumbled across the cohabitation register that inspired this story. I also learned that Ellen is a family name. Her grandmother, who likely was once enslaved, was named Ellen too.

Something that was edited out of the story were the names of the songs Ellen, her family and the rest of the congregation sang in the church. I mentioned Follow the Drinking Gourd, Wade in the Water and Go Down, Moses. Those songs gave enslaved people hope and in some cases instructions for escape. Once free, the songs were a testament to what they survived and a reminder to cherish their freedom. You can still hear those spirituals in some churches today.

5. As an author, what inspires you to write?

I’m inspired to write children’s books by the memory of being a child who rarely saw herself and her history reflected in stories for young people. I write to help create a different reality for kids today. I write to give back.

I still remember the story that inspired me to write for kids, Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth. It was the first time I saw an African-American girl featured on the cover of a picture book. Right then, I decided to add my voice.

6. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I’m so grateful for the chance to share this story. I wrote Ellen’s Broom as a celebration of family, love and freedom. I was amazed by how illustrator Daniel Minter reflected those themes in his art. People can learn more about Ellen’s Broom and find printables for kids at my site, www.kellystarlinglyons.com. If you want a peek inside the book, you can watch the trailer for Ellen’s Broomhere. Thanks again for all of your support.

 

Thank you Kelly for a wonderful interview and some insight in the making of Ellen’s Broom.

Ellen’s Broom is a delightful book about how a broom that was once used during the time of slavery for marriage becomes a tradition. Readers will journey with Ellen as she carries the broom her parents once jumped over during slavery to bind the family, to a courthouse where her parents will be officially married.

Kelly has a wonderful and delightful way of creating characters that connects with young readers. And that connection takes you on a journey through a moment in time. It’s like the characters hold your hand as they tell you about history…what a way to learn.

And let me just say, from someone who is big on illustrations, Daniel Minter did a wonderful job with his block print illustrations. When my eight-year-old daughter saw this book lying on my table she asked if she could have a poster.

Ellen’s Broom is a great book about family traditions and I can’t wait to read more books from Kelly Starling Lyons.


MyMcBooks Interview & Review w/Author Donalisa Helsley

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Donalisa lives inTulsa, Oklahoma with her husband, David, her daughters, Jadyn and Genesis and their miniature schnauzer, Shadow. She is Wild About Reading. Donalisa has written many stories since she was a child. She is a social worker and has worked with children for over 12 years. Donalisa is finishing her Masters in Social Work so that she can be a therapist for children and adolescents.

http://www.wildaboutreading.net/index.html

Interview with Donalisa Helsley, author of The Day No One Played Together.

I want to thank you for being my guest here on MyMcBooks Blog

What is the last book you read?
The last book I read was “Tell No One” by Harlan Coben. I’ve already read it before but didn’t realize it until I got it home from the library. I read it again anyway because I could not remember the ending!  Also, I usually read more than one book at a time! I’ll have one on the night stand, one in the office, one in the car and some on the ipad, and my iphone. That way I always have a book wherever I go!

What were your earliest memories of writing?
I remember typing on an old typewriter at the kitchen table at nine years old. I completed my first book when I was 11. It was about 250 typed pages and it was a Christian version of “Sweet Valley High” I gave it to a friend to read and never got it back! It still frustrates me to this day!

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
I believe it was something that came natural. I was encouraged to read and loved to. I would think of stories I wished I could read and would write them instead.

What was your favorite children’s book?
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf was my very favorite as a child. I also loved George and Martha and Amelia Bedelia books.  I  read all of the Chronicles of Narnia and the Laura Ingall’s Wilder books over and over. Growing up I was so thirsty for books I read any book that I could find in the house (even the hidden ones). So I read a lot of non fiction and A LOT of  historical romance novels (shhh don’t tell my mom!) Another of my all time  favorites is Oh, The Places You Will Go! by Dr Seuss. Which I didn’t read until I was in high school.

Are you working on a new book?
Yes, I have quite a few already written. I am currently finishing up two. One is about a big bad bully and the other is a silly mixed up fairytale. I don’t know when I will be sending any of them out to be published. “I Love You Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookies” will be out in January.

What inspired you to write ‘The Day No One Played Together’ and how did you come up with each character?
I promised my oldest daughter that I would write a story about her when she was three. She is multiracial (black, white and chinese). She wanted to see someone that looked like her in books. So the characters are based on my two daughters, Jadyn (9) and Genesis (4). I am always trying to help them figure out how to work through conflicts on their own. I  helped them learn to compromise and they loved doing it so much that I thought that maybe other children would enjoy the lesson also.

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
I hope that they learn that they can brainstorm creative solutions to their problems. My goal with the Jadyn and Genesis series is that children learn life and social skills in a fun way.

What do your kids think about your book?
My kids are estatic! They want to show everyone and they can’t wait for the other two books that I have written about them to be illustrated. They have told all of their friends that they can be in the books too.

Tell us about your website ‘Wild About Reading’
My website is a place you can go to learn more about me, my mission and also buy my books. It is a work in progress. I want to add links to places you can donate books for children who can’t afford them and also some tips for parents. My Wild About Reading facebook page is a page where I share tips, encouragement, book reviews, interviews of other authors, book give aways and trivia. Stop by and visit! The goal is to re-ignite a love of reading in parents and encourage it in children.

What is the most difficult part of writing?
The most difficult part is actually setting aside time to write. It seems every moment of everyday is filled with something to do. Once I have the time the words seem to flow right out.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?
I am a mother, a student, and a therapist. So most of my time is spent studying, taking care of my family and of course reading. Oh yeah, and Facebook!

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
C.S. Lewis, Dr. Seuss, James Patterson, Iris Johansen, Tami Hoag….I have so many. I love reading true stories of people who have survived. I would also love to dine with people like Corrie Ten Boom, Elie Wiesel, Langston Hughes….the list could go on and on.

What author inspires you the most and why?
I am not sure who inspires me the most. I am inspired by any author who puts their work out there for the world to see. What people don’t understand is that when we write we are sharing a piece of our heart and soul. Its scary. Anyone who is brave enough to share their work and let the world see a piece of them inspires me.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Procrastination is the only rule I follow consistently. Sadly, in my writing I do not impose schedules or even goals upon myself. If it comes to me I jump up and scribble it on a scrap piece of paper or I type into my ipad or whatever is handy. Once I have graduated “I have a dream” (said in a Martin Luther King Jr. voice) that I will be able to devote a more consistent and structured time to write.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
One of my favorite quotes sums it up: “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children that have not found the right book.” ~Frank Serafini  Let your child chose what they like. Take them to the library, the bookstore and let them wander around. If you notice they have an interest in dinosaurs or princesses find all the books about dinosaurs and princesses you can find.

I have also learned that just because I liked a book that doesn’t mean my daughters will like it. So I watch and see what they enjoy and then try to find other books like it.Readingshouldn’t be a chore. If all they want to read is comic books be happy they are reading. I do suggest checking out what they read so that you can be aware of what is going on. I try to read every YA book that comes out and is a fad because it helps me engage with my child and adolescent clients and also I figure one day my kids will be reading them.

What advice you would give to new writers?
1. Read, Read, Read. How can you be a writer if you don’t even read? 2. Find people that you trust to share your thoughts with. 3. Never stop believing in magic, the impossible and the unbelieveable. Some of the greatest books I have ever read were written by people who remembered what it was like to be a child and to dream. 4. If you are a children’s book writer I believe that there is a part of us that never grows up. Tap into that!

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Thanks for reading this. It is very humbling to think that anyone would want to read about me! By the way when I grow up I would like to be a ninja. Random? That’s me!

Thank you for this interview.
Thank you for taking the time to interview me and review my book!