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

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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 and announced on December 3rd, 2012.

Open to U.S. residents only.

Find more book reviews by Cherese Vines here.

Inside The Book of Nalia and the Potion Maker w/ Queenbe Monyei by JMcManus

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Article first published as Interview: Queenbe Monyei, Author of Nalia and the Potion Maker on Blogcritics.

Welcome back Everyone. This is JMcManus bring you another Inside The Books inteview. Today I have an interview with Queenbe Monyei author of Nalia and the Potion Maker.

Los Angeles born author Queenbe started writing as a child, but the idea for her debut novel, Nalia and the Potion Maker, didn’t spring to mind until she started blogging to promote a book she and another writer was working. It happened one night in November 2010 while she was sitting in her room thinking about what she would love to be reading if she were reading about a young girl who was special and powerful but thought she was anything but, and the girl turned out to be Nalia.

Now let’s found out some things about Nalia’s adventure.

Nalia very early on notices strange things happening around her although she can’t pinpoint what is going on. Then she finds out she is an Amemora. Can you tell us what an Amemora is and how you came up with the concept?

Well, I won’t give it away, because that’s part of the fun of the book trying to find out what she is exactly, but I will say that Amemoras are very powerful and have a unique gift.

During Nalia’s journey, she meets the potion maker Poto who is one of the key people in her story. Can you tell us a little bit about Poto and his role in helping Nalia on her journey to face Agithara?

Poto is a genius potion maker who also has a story of his own. He is a key person in helping Nalia discover all the different lands in Aetheria, and takes her on an adventure that will shape who he is. He becomes an important person in her life and will be for the books to come.

One thing I enjoyed was the riddles. As a writer, do you like creating riddles are did riddles just become part of Nalia and the Potion Maker?

Well, riddles are very important to Aetherian culture. Aetherians believe that life’s lessons shouldn’t just be handed to you. You should take the time to figure them out or else they will have no meaning in your life. Also, I love playing with language, so I wanted this to be a part of the book.

For those who like riddles, see if you can figure out one of the riddles Nalia faces during her journey. Please give your answer in the comment section. In a few weeks I will post the answer.

It comes easily enough in times of distress,
Giving the beholder no chance of any good rest.
It knows no distinction between evil and good.
And leaves not when the bearer wishes it would.
It is a thief of all things good, for sure.
But, alas, for this curse there is no quick cure.
All great and small will eventually find.
It is not easily lost whether mean or kind.

Lyris is another great character in your novel and is a great friend to have around if you’re going on a dangerous adventure. His ability to heal is extraordinary. He also lives in a very welcoming place, the land of Amoen. Can you tell us a little bit about the land of Amoen and Lyris’s ability to heal?

Amoen is a guarded city. They don’t really experience pain or sadness and it’s very different from the world that Nalia is familiar with. It is probably one of the most beautiful lands in Aetheria.

During Nalia’s adventure she travels to many different lands in the other world like the River of Caedes, the Forest of Dark Deeds and Gubland to name a few. If I could visit any of the locations I would visit the Land of the North so that I could stop by Poto’s Potions. Which location would you visit and why?

I would love to visit Amoen because it is the most beautiful and it is virtually impossible to feel pain or discomfort there.

If I could have Nalia make something for me I think I would have her make an Amoen star. What would have Nalia make you?

A Toyota Prius. No question.

What is your favorite part of the story?

Well, I love when Nalia discovers Poto’s secret and when we see Agithara’s childhood.

This book definitely leaves you wondering what other journeys Nalia will go on. Are you working on any other books?

At the moment I am only working on the Nalia series.

Since we know you are working on another book, can you tell us if Nalia’s father will be making an appearance in book 2 and if we will be seeing more of Lyris?

Nalia’s father will remain out of the picture for now; this may change in the future. Lyris will definitely be a big part of all the books. And there is a possible love triangle in Book 2, Nalia and the Rise of the Marés.

Where can people find more information about you and your books?

For all of you who are looking to get a sneak peak of Nalia and the Potion Maker please read the excerpt below.

From chapter 10 Sarp the Grogin, after Nalia learns about Poto’s Secret:

Nalia quickly took her hands away from Poto, as she didn’t want to see anything he didn’t want her to. She still wasn’t used to seeing other’s memories, and she felt sorry for what she had done. She sat there motionless for a few minutes, staring straight at him, still transfixed on what she had just learned.

How could Poto have done such a thing? He didn’t seem evil in any shape or form. Quite the contrary, Poto was gentle and kind, and his eyes gave him away easily enough. This, coupled with what she had just seen, made her all the more confused.

Sensing that he was being judged, Poto finally spoke.

“You cannot understand what she did, what it took. No,” Poto was trembling as he said this. His eyes were filled with tears, but he was fighting back the urge to let them loose. “Only one who lost all that is good inside him could truly understand how she became what she is today.”

Then, he did something that took Nalia by surprise; he held his hand out to show Nalia the memories that had been hidden for so long, memories that he was thankful Agithara had stolen and those that he was not eager to have so soon returned.

“Please…don’t see me for what I was then,” he said softly.

Nalia agreed and took his hand.


I want to thank Queenbe for taking the time to tell us more about Nalia and the Potion Maker. And I hope you enjoyed finding out about Nalia and the Potion Maker. If you have any suggestion please don’t hesitate to email me at Info (at) InsideTheBooks (dot) com.  To keep up with interviews please follow me on twitter @InsideTheBook.

Sneak Peak of what’s to come: Nalia and the Potion Maker

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I’m working on an interview with Queenbe Monyei’s Nalia and the Potion Maker for Inside The Books. Here’s a sneak peak of what the book is about.

Nalia and the Potion Maker
By: Queenbe Monyei

Paperback: 328 pages

ISBN-10: 1461094852
ISBN-13: 978-1461094852

Buy at: Amazon
Buy on:


About the Author

A Los Angeles native, Queenbe Monyei shuffled between England and the U.S. as a child. After graduating UCLA she taught English for a year in Turkey then earned her graduate degree in Education in England. She enjoys writing fantasy novels with a hint of romance.



In the once beautiful Aetheria, a spreading evil stems in the great Land of The North. It is a world that has been ravaged by vengeance and fury. But Nalia knows nothing of this world. She doesn’t even know that she bears one of its most coveted and sacred gifts, a gift that has killed many and forced others into hiding. But when an unusual visitor escapes from the other world to find her, he claims that her gift is vital in order to save his world. Her task won’t be easy: find the great potion maker whose memory has been stolen, if he’s even still alive. There, Nalia meets the strong yet gentle Lyris who can heal anything with his touch. Soon she discovers that his powers run deep as he slowly begins to mend the pieces of her heart, shattered by her own tragic family and a haunting secret; a secret stemming before she was even born. A heart wrenching tale of death, betrayal, and the dark side of unrequited love.

MyMcBooks Interview w/ Cherese A. Vines

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Novelist, Cherese A. Vines was born into a military family in the late 1970s. She has lived in a number of different cities and states throughout her life. Although she has a background in Journalism, her love of reading fiction led to creative writing pursuits. She has incorporated her experiences and travels into her stories, which include young adult fiction, science-fiction, and fantasy. She has self-published two young adult novels, Countercharm and Countercharm 2: Of Stars and Dreams and is currently working on her third novel, Elan Vital. Cherese currently resides near Atlanta,GA with her husband and two

Interview with Cherese A. Vines author of Countercharm.

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 Pendragon: The Merchant of Death by DJ MacHale. I found the book at my local thrift store and saw that there was a series so I bought all the Pendragon books there. Thrift stores and libraries are good places to take a chance of an author you don’t know. I had never heard of the Pendragon series, but it seems like a pretty good series so far.

What were your earliest memories of writing?

I wrote a story in second grade for a project. We made our own books with wallpaper and cardboard and wrote our stories inside. I still have the two that I made some 27 years ago. It’s amazing to see your words in a book that everyone can enjoy. It was not until I was 24 that I was able to see my words in a professional, glossy book when I self-published my first young adult novel, Countercharm. It was only a little more exciting that those first ones in second grade.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?

A little of both. But I was definitely nurtured as a reader first and then a writer. I love reading and that’s where writing starts. Once I discovered that I could make up my own stories and write them down, it became a fun thing for me to do and to escape into a new world. But it wasn’t until I was about 13 or 14 years old when I got typewriter as a present that I started typing up my first book. It was about a young girl who’s parents were going through a divorce. I guess it was therapeutic because my parents were divorcing at that time. I think a lot of children could relate to the story today, but I never published it I think because it was so personal to me.

Are you working on a new book?

Yes. Elan Vital is my next book. It is a fantasy adventure story. It takes place on the same world as the one mentioned in my first book Countercharm and the sequel, Countercharm 2: Of Stars and Dreams. In Elan Vital two sisters are being trained as priestesses to protect their world by maintaining the balance of energy when they are orphaned by an attack on their village by semi-immortal beings. Afterward, the girls must complete their training on their own so that they can prevent the semi-immortals from further disturbing the balance and subsequently destroying their world.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?

I am a stay-at-home mom, so I have plenty to keep me busy with two young children. I also help other writers by critiquing and editing their work.

How did you come up with each character?

A lot of my stories come from dreams I’ve had so the characters come to me pretty well rounded already. Other characters come in to support my central character. In Countercharm, Sydnie Knight is 16, so she needs a guardian. Since her mother is not there, Aunt Sandra becomes the mother figure. So most of my characters evolve because my protagonist needs them. They all add something to the protagonist’s transformation.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

Oh definitely. When I put too much pressure on myself to produce something spectacular on the first draft, I end up blocking my creativity. I usually write without outlines and so most of the time I’m working from a general idea. As I write the inspiration for characters, settings, plot come to me without much planning. But when I try to be too specific and rigid with the direction of my story, it stifles my creative flow. The best thing for me to do is to put the story down for a few days or start on another part of the story and then I can usually work around the writer’s block. It’s always better to keep writing than to have a perfect first draft.

What is the most difficult part of writing?

Editing is the most difficult part of writing for me. I’m really all about getting the story out and going along on the adventure. This is the fun part for me. But when I start to edit, it becomes work. I’m no longer riding along, I’m checking the gears to make sure it’s working right and replacing parts: Work. However, it’s something that must be done to give my characters and the story the respect they deserve. Spending all that time on editing makes me feel like I’m really invested in this story and that I really want it to be heard. There have been some stories that I didn’t think deserved editing, and so they’re in the bottom drawer somewhere. That’s not to mean that I will never revisit those stories again, it just means not now. They may get a second try because I may feel differently about them a few years from now. Another reason why editing is my least favorite task is that it tends to be a “forever” activity. As the author, I will probably always find something to change or make better, even when the book is in print.

How do you react to a bad review?

It can hurt a little, but if people only say “I liked it” when they really didn’t, this does me no good. How can I fix something so my reader can enjoy the journey if I don’t know something is wrong? With a bad review, I can take it and use it to make my stories better. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I take critiques seriously and I make sure I don’t repeat the mistakes that brought that type of review.

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?

It would have been great to sit down with Octavia Butler who passed away in 2005. She had such a phenomenal imagination. Before reading Octavia Butler’s books, I didn’t know African-Amercian women read or even wrote Science-Fiction and Fantasy. I thought I was a little strange for liking it when I was younger. Anne Rice is another writer I would like to meet. The way she writes is so beautiful. The words flow almost without effort, taking you into new worlds that although seedy at times, still sound pleasing just because of the way she puts the words together. J.R.R. Tolkien is another creative author. The world created in Lord of the Rings is amazing. The history is what drew me. The attention to the details of each character’s history and the worlds’ history is so appealing because Tolkien knew these worlds as if he really lived there. That’s what I like about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series as well. The characters are not just thrown in there. They are well thought out and have their own history that is just as real and important as Harry Potter’s because it made them who they are in the story.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?

Well, as a mother of two young children, I don’t have much time to write. But what I do make sure to do is to have a notebook and pen nearby at all times. I can get inspiration while driving or getting the kids ready for bed. Ideas come at such strange times for me. I also make sure I participate in the National Novel Writing Month each November ( It’s where you write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It’s very ambitious, but I have finished three out of the four years I’ve done it. I like the challenge, it gives me the added discipline or push I need to make sure I write. It also gives me a sense of comradery with other others and a sense of accomplishment which is really a motivator in itself.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

I would tell them to talk to people who work with children like teachers, caregivers, librarians. Also, try different types of books to see what your child likes. Libraries and the internet are good resources as well. The best resource, however, is other parents. See what they are reading their children. What works best for me is letting my daughter choose her own books. I found that if I chose her books, they were more to my tastes and did not always interest her. But allowing her to choose the books actually was amazing. She seemed to pick the right books for her, for the time and message that we/she needed at that particular moment. She gets some sense of independence and responsibility as well which promotes positive emotions about reading.

What advice you would give to new writers?

My advice is to read widely, even genres you don’t like. Write daily. Take an English class. Interact with others who like books, whether it’s reading or writing. I like the idea that you write, write, write and then edit later. My focus is on getting the story out of your head and on paper. It’s so rewarding to see those words, your words, in print. Experience life as much as you can because every story has come from some bit of reality. Use all your resources and get positive support for your writing. Most important for me would be to write because you love to write not because you want to be a bestseller. I believe when you start writing to please others, your writing loses that sincerity and heart that makes it worth reading.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I believe everyone has a story in them, fiction or non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. Some people may not believe they are “writers” but if you can speak, you can write. And there are so many resources out there to make what you write, glossy and print ready. So write, because your story needs to be heard, read and enjoyed.

Thank you for this interview.


Cherese A. Vines Blog


This Thing Called the Future

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This Thing Called the Future
by J.L. Powers
(Cinco Puntos Press)

In a South African shantytown, 14-year-old Khosi struggles with poverty, disease and oh, there’s a boy at school she has a huge crush on. This Thing Called the Future, the latest from Fulbright scholar J.L. Powers, pulls you right into Khosi’s confusing, magical world, where ancient tradition collides with modern problems. Where the teenage anticipation of a first kiss or going away to college is marred by the deadly threat of AIDS. Powers holds master’s degrees in African History from State University of New York-Albany and Stanford University, won a Fulbright-Hayes to study Zulu in South Africa, and served as a visiting scholar in Stanford’s African Studies Department in 2008 and 2009. Publisher’s Weekly described This Thing Called the Future, an alternative fantasy, as “compelling,” Kirkus called it “compassionate and moving,” and School Library Journal says it is “powerfully gripping” and “eye-opening.”


Available for purchase at:
Barnes & Noble