Monday, December 15, 2014

The Night Before the Night Before Christmas by Jay Dee

I found another fun Christmas picture book to share with everyone. It is called The Night Before The Night Before Christmas by Jay Dee and illustrated by Darren Geers. As an added bonus, the author is offering a signed copy to one lucky winner! Just fill out the rafflecopter form to enter.

My Thoughts- 
The overall story of the book is very endearing. We have Elfie, one of Santa's elves, working really hard on a present. He is spending so much time on making the gift perfect that the head elf, Nathan, starts getting upset. But, Elfie won't give up, and when Santa comes to inspect his workshop, Elfie is still fussing over his toy train. Nathan is worried Santa will be mad, but it turns out Santa asked Elfie to work on this particular gift and make it perfect. All the elves wonder why this one present needs to be perfect, and Santa tells them that it is for a very special boy, the baby Jesus.

I really think the illustrations are fabulous. The first time I looked at the cover I was taken in by the adorableness of Elfie painting the train. The rest of the illustrations followed suit. I loved the boldness of color, the different viewing perspectives and the awesomeness of the elves. Their big eyes just add that special something.

The concept behind the whole story is precious and reminds me of The Little Drummer Boy. The thing that did bother me was the timeline. If this is the night before the night before Christ is born, then how did Santa already exist? And why would they be making baby Jesus a train when he was born at the time of donkeys for transportation? But, I do like how the author tried to connect the commercial thinking of Christmas to the spiritual side. It's nice to have a book that let's children connect Jesus with the modern day giving of gifts. 3.5 Stars!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Hotwire by Cindy Hogan


YA Friday! And if my power doesn't go out, then this will be a review of Hotwire by Cindy Hogan. Oh- and a giveaway!
The Story-
Chrissy Hadden is a young spy teamed up with three others to find a stolen car. To capture the car theft ring, she goes undercover at a high school where the very wealthy and poor mix.  The suspected teens are rough characters, ones that Chrissy's team is hesitant about her contacting. But, the director wants the car found, and he will take no excuses.

As Chrissy infiltrates the team she is thrown into the chaos of the Russian mafia and men who will kill with no thought. Throughout it all, she must pose as the girl friend of one of the suspects, a boy with wicked tendencies and sociopathic behavior. When she uncovers a child kidnapping plot Chrissy can't back down, and if she doesn't win, people will die.

My Thoughts-
Wow, this is a really raw and intense book. The author doesn't fool around. The teenage characters that are part of the car theft ring are dark and scary. They live in a world of wealth and privilege, but they are angry and violent people. The tension is so high as Chrissy is forced to enter their world and flirt and later date these boys. Plus, people die. No one is safe. I was shocked at the end of the book.

Our main character is 19, so this book is at the very top range of the YA scene, but with all the teenagers at the high school, I'd definitely say this is YA. Chrissy is amazing. I really wanted to know more about her and wished there had been more on her entrance into espionage, but at the end of the book I realized this wasn't the first novel, so my only criticism evaporated.

Hold on for a wild ride, because this book delivers! 5 Stars!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Children's Blog Hop

This week I am excited to be participating in the Children's Author Blog Hop! For the hop, participating authors answer four identical questions and then invite three more authors to join in the hop. I was thrilled to be invited to participate in the hop by children's book author Brianna Caplan Sayres.

Brianna Caplan Sayres is a children's book author. Her picture books include WHERE DO DIGGERS SLEEP AT NIGHT? (Random House, 2012), TIARA-SAURUS REX (Bloomsbury, 2015) and WHERE DO STEAM TRAINS SLEEP AT NIGHT? (coming from Random House in 2016).

Brianna's other job titles have included elementary school teacher, adjunct faculty member at Bank Street College of Education and (most important) "Mommy".

Brianna is represented by Teresa Kietlinski of Prospect Agency. You can check out her blog at http://briannasbookstop.blogspot.com/

And now my answers to the four questions...
1.What are you working on right now? Well, at the moment I am in marketing and promoting mode. My YA Fantasy, The Awakening, was just released and I'm trying to get it out there into the public eye.

2. How does it differ from other works in the genre? The Awakening is a great, and complete fantasy adventure. I've noticed a lot of writers cutting their books into parts,and this is one stand alone book. The characters are fun and act their ages. The story is appropriate for any age level.

3. Why do you write what you do? I write because I really wish magic existed. I can't remember a time when I wasn't wrapped up in the fantasy world. My favorite movies as a child were Labyrinth, Mary Poppins and The Never Ending Story. I can't exist without magic, and storytelling is how I make it real.

4. What is the hardest part of writing? The hardest part is all the rewrites. So much goes into that first draft, and it is only the beginning of the process. All the edits take so much time and you just want to send that book out to publishers, but the process is always worth it and you get a better book.

And now for the three amazing children's book authors I get to share with you on this hop:

Shannon Messenger- Shannon has an amazing blog, and every Monday she is the ring leader for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. She's the bestselling author of the middle grade series, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, and the SKY FALL series for young adults. She lives in Southern California with her husband and an embarrassing number of cats. Find her online at shannonmessenger.com.


Next we have, Laurisa White Reyes and her blog. She is the author of The Celestine Chronicles, a fantasy series for middle grade readers.  Book I: The Rock of Ivanore came out in 2012, Book II: The Last Enchanter came out in 2013. Book III: The Seer of the Guilde will be released in 2015. Her debut young adult novel, a sci-fi thriller called Contact came out in June 2014 with Hallowed Ink Press.

In addition to writing, She is also a book editor with Hamilton Springs/Xchyler Press and the Editor-in-Chief of Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Cool Kids, a magazine for middle grade readers. Find her online at http://www.laurisawhitereyes.com/ .


And number three is Kevin Emerson. He writes both YA and Middle Grade. His most recent release is Far Dawn, the final book in the Atlanteans Trilogy. I first came across his writings with Scholastic and the Oliver Nocturne series. You can find him online at http://www.kevinemerson.net/



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Catch That Cookie by Hallie Durand

Time for another awesome Christmas picture book! Today I am looking at Catch That Cookie by Hallie Durand. It is a really sweet and fun book to read to your children.

The Story- 
Marshall and his class have been learning about Gingerbread cookies all week long. They've  also heard the tale of The Little Gingerbread Boy. So, when his teacher announces that they are going to bake their own cookies, he is so excited. He doesn't believe that gingerbread cookies can run away for real, but then they do! His school class has to follow a bunch of clues left by the absent gingerbread men to find their treats. When they find their cookies, it is if they really did run away.

My Thoughts- 
What a heart warming tale that allows magic to exist in the world. I really loved watching my son as he heard the story. He loved the author's word choice and giggled throughout the tale. The illustrations are bold and colorful and really catch your attention. This one scored big points! 4 stars.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Fyre by Angie Sage


Welcome to Middle Grade Monday! Today I am finishing up a series that I loved. The Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage. The seventh and final book in the series is Fyre.

The Story-
It is time for the Darke two-faced ring to be destroyed. To accomplish the task, Alchemist Marcellus reopens the Alchemy chamber, and unknown to Extra-Ordinary Wizard Marcia, he relights the Fyre.
Things are going well until the Darke Magic of the ring escapes and possesses Septimus's two uncles. In time, the magic will consume the uncles and the real Darke wizards that were captured hundreds of years ago will return.

These two wizards have two things on their minds, destroy Princess Jenna and destroy the Fyre and its ability to destroy the ring. It is a race against time and mighty magic as Septimus and the entire Heap family try to survive.

My Thoughts-
I have loved these books from book one, Magyk. The are unique and original with their own special vocabulary and circumstances. Sage is able to create an entire magical world that feels like it has always existed. In this book, the readers get an exciting conclusion, and my personal favorite, individual story endings for each important character.

Though the stories are based around Septimus, it is really the story of the entire Heap clan that keeps readers moving through the books. Each character is well developed and full of emotion and individuality. I was sad to reach the end, but yeah, then Sage announced a spin-off series that will include spotlights from our favorites.

5 stars!

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Awakening- Amazon Book Blast

Thank you to everyone who came to my online launch party last night. It was so much fun! So, today I'm focusing on Amazon and hopefully moving my book up in their rankings. If you can help in any way I'd be so grateful.

The first way is to of course buy the book, and I hope you will, it makes a great Christmas present. Plus, I'll send you a free SIGNED bookplate. Here is the LINK. While you are there please look above the price box for the tags for Pinterest, FB, and twitter. Please pin, share and tweet. Pinterest is huge if you have an account. Also, under the price box please add it to your wish list.

Other ways include:
Go to my author page on Amazon and under my photo click Favorite. Here is the LINK.

Write a review of the book and post it on Amazon.

There is also a $50 giveaway happening over at I am a Reader if you buy or share the book. Here is the LINK.

Thank you!
*For the free bookplate please email me at authordorine at gmail dot com and put bookplate as the subject. Include your name and address.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Meet Mordrake from The Awakening

Today is the day! My online launch party is TONIGHT from 5 - 7 pm Pacific, 6 - 8 pm Mountain, 7 - 9 pm Central, and 8 - 10 pm Eastern. Come join us, and tell all your friends!

For my final excerpt, I am taking a look at the villain from The Awakening, Mordrake.

Name: Mordrake the Monster
Age: After 1,000 who's counting?
Lives: In a pit.
Desires: Freedom to leave his prison and destroy the kingdom.
Weapon: Magic, his pet Griffin
Friends: None

EXCERPT:

Martha



The Orc nodded toward the decapitated head. “Good thing we wait to bring you. Master got mad at last mage. . . "


Martha knew she was about to meet evil itself: Mordrake.

The Orc led her around a ragged hole in the ground. Martha glanced into its depths and marveled at its scale. Darkness pooled within the hole, and Martha could not make out the interior. The Orc pushed her toward the tent. She struggled with all her might, flinging her elbows out and kicking in every direction.

The Orc picked her up and carried her like a baby.

Inside the tent, the area shined with lamplight and was covered in rugs and cushions. Several tables lined one side of the space, and Martha could see maps sprawled upon them. Then she saw a tall man step out of the shadows, and her heart all but stopped.

“Greetings, mage. Welcome to my resting place,” said the man. He walked forward, examining every inch of her from top to bottom. Martha instinctively reached up a hand to smooth her ratted hair, but stopped in mid lift and frowned. The man ceased a mere foot in front of her face.
Martha held very still, but her mind was churning with defensive spells.

“Those won’t be necessary.” The man raised his hand and cupped the side of her face, staring deep into her eyes. “My name is Mordrake, and you are perfect.”

Martha felt his mind push into hers and then take stock of her power. “I needed you to be clearheaded enough for me to read.”

He was tall and handsome with long brown hair and blue eyes. He wore leather pants, a tunic, and a broadsword strapped to his hip. Martha could see his trim physique and knew he would make a deadly foe in battle. It was his perfect face that confused her. This is Mordrake the monster?

“Mmm.”

“No need to speak. Not that you could.”

Martha gathered her strength and then thrust Mordrake out of her mind.

“Yes, you will do.” He walked around her, taking in her age and appearance. “Seems you’ve let yourself go, but no matter, it’s your magic I need, not your body.”


“Grrr.”