Review of Elle Klass’ “The Vampires Next Door”

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This fast-moving tale is populated with engaging characters whom you feel you know personally as this intriguing story unfolds. Freshly transplanted to St. Augustine, Florida, Alison is a shy teenager with the usual insecurities inherent to her age who lives with her recently divorced mother. The two of them reside in an apartment where Alison engages in some people-watching, particularly Rodham, whom she has the hots for, as well as a bunch of young women who occupy the apartment next door. These particular neighbors are given to loud, boisterous partying into the wee hours of the night while her mother, a shift nurse at a local hospital, is typically gone. Of course the title of this story serves as a spoiler as to who and what those nuisance neighbors actually are.

Much to Alison’s horrified delight, Rodham introduces himself and the pair begin a warm friendship moving toward a cozy romance as they investigate exactly what’s going on with these weird neighbors. A variety of surprises and plot twists quickly ensue, presented in Elle Klass’ outstanding, character-driven style with which she’s developed a unique vampire culture known as Bloodseekers with whom an eternal war wages with their mortal enemy, the Slayers. Skillfully woven into the history of the USA’s oldest European-established, continuously occupied settlement, you’ll find a liberal dose of paranormal phenomena intermingled with magic that will satisfy Harry Potter as well as other fantasy fans. You’ll have to read this exciting tale to find out where the young hero and heroine fit into this fascinating tale, but rest assured you won’t be disappointed.

Even better, since you’re bound to fall in love with Alison and Rodham, this is the first volume of a trilogy which promises further exciting adventures. While this story contains plenty of action and intrigue, it’s well within the PG range and thus suitable for adolescents and teenagers. It gets creepy and a little scary, but not terrifying, just exciting. The author’s former life as a junior high school teacher comes through beautifully in her understanding of teen motivation, behavior and emotions. Nonetheless, the book contains enough substance, character development and plot twists to satisfy readers of all ages. I’m not a big vampire fan myself, yet thoroughly enjoyed this suspense-laden tale by this up and coming multi-genre author.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

Sci-Fa Epic Adventure: Review of “Thunder Moon” by Jeanne Foguth

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The second volume in Jeanne Foguth’s Chatterre Trilogy, “Thunder Moon”, picks up where “Star Bridge” ends. As someone who’s read all three volumes, but not in order, I highly recommend that they be read in sequence so that the complex plots and character relationships are easier to follow. Each builds upon the other, weaving a fascinating and intricate Sci-fa saga.

In this episode, Nimri’s brother, Thunder Cartwright, is worried the madrox will invade his world unless the star bridge is closed. He borrows his brother-in-law, Larwin’s, environmental suit, and sets out to do so with the assistance of GEA-4, Larwin’s androtic assistant. Meanwhile, Larwin’s sister, Tem-Aki, is looking for her brother, who’s been missing from his world long enough that she’s concerned that he’s dead. (Background on Larwin’s arrival on Chatterre can be found in volume I, “Star Bridge”.)

As you’d expect from any misbehaving and unstable Star Bridge/wormhole, Thunder winds up on yet another world, Kalamar, which is covered with what he fears most–water. Furthermore, he’s severely injured, but fortunately, rescued by Raine, a dragon shepherd, who’s on patrol in her ship, Nambaba, trying to recover a rogue dragon calf.

And thus the fun begins.

As always, the science fiction/fantasy elements of these stories are masterfully integrated as simple matters of planetary diversity. Dragons, a.k.a. madrox, are Chatterre’s mortal enemy, threatening to reduce it to ashes. However, on Raine’s planet, Kalamar, they’re carefully managed, a seeming paradox that further drives the story’s plot and suspense.

Mistaken identities, culture clashes, alien creatures, and a variety of interpersonal conflicts, including sibling rivalry and political intrigue, ultimately explode in this fast-moving, complex tale. The world building is exceptional, particularly with regard to how a human culture would operate on a world comprised mostly of water. Not only are the mundane details addressed, but other intelligent species introduced as well as a convincing and convoluted political structure.

If you like an intricate plot, lots of action and continual suspense with all sorts of surprises you can get your teeth into, then this trilogy is for you. But don’t forget to read “Star Bridge” first and then this one before move on to the satisfying conclusion in “Fire Island.” (Note that all three volumes are “clean reads” suitable for all ages.)

You can pick up a copy on Amazon here.

JUST RELEASED! Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, Andy Smithson, Book 5

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I’m delighted to participate in this blog tour for L.R.W. Lee’s latest episode in the Andy Smithson fantasy series for Middle Grade readers!  I had the pleasure of sharing a booth with her at the Austin Book Festival last October and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this intelligent and fascinating person. Learn more about the fifth book in the series, get to know more about the author and then be sure to grab a copy from the buy links at the end.

Four years ago, Andy Smithson discovered he is the Chosen one to break a 500-yr-old curse plaguing the land of Oomaldee when he unexpectedly and mysteriously found himself there. To do so, he must collect ingredients for a magical potion. Thus far he has gathered the scale of a red dragon, venom from a giant serpent, a unicorn’s horn, and the tail feather of a phoenix. Now he must ask a griffin for one of its talons. There’s just one problem…humans have poached griffin treasure, causing these mythical creatures to attack on sight.

Complicating matters, the evil Abaddon, sovereign of Oomaldee’s northern neighbor, is turning more and more citizens into zolt in his ongoing campaign of terror as he sets in motion the final steps of his plan to conquer the land. Things really start to heat up in book five!

If you loved Harry Potter, you’ll love the Andy Smithson series chalk full of mythical creatures, newly invented animals like zolt, herewolves, and therewolves, a complex plot with evolving characters, and positive themes including responsibility, diligence, dignity, friendship and more.

Purchase Kindle and Paperback

 THE BUZZ

5 Stars! – “A marvelous book in a great series!” – Erik Weibel (Age 14) This Kid Reviews Books Blog

“Readers of this series have come to anticipate a host of challenges, intense battles, and on an epic scale. In Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, you won’t be disappointed. For lovers of fantasy, I consider it a must read.” – Richard Weatherly, Author

“One of the admirable qualities I like about the entire series is seeing Andy’s growth from a self-absorbed kid to a more thoughtful teen as he learns how to deal with the various crises which face him, all the while knowing that the future may hold unpleasant consequences.  The watchword for Vision of the Griffin’s Heart is “courage.” – Wayne Walker, Home School Book Review

THE DEPTH OF THE ANDY SMITHSON SERIES

If you’re an adult looking for a clean series you can sink your teeth into, Andy Smithson is definitely it! In it I develop four layers simultaneously: 1) Andy Smithson in Lakehills, TX 2) Andy in Oomaldee 3) the Afterlife 4) a meaning layer. A few examples to demonstrate the depth…

Symbolism is used extensively (a couple examples):

  • The fog of the curse symbolizes blindness and oppression.
  • The magic key unlocks doors, brings stone statues to life, as well as revives. Put another way, it symbolizes bringing forth, opening up, and revealing (aka taking responsibility).
  • Methuselah is not only a weapon and helper, but also represents justice as it divides good and evil. Consistent with life, justice requires diligence to uphold.

Names are also important in this series (a few examples):

  • Andy means brave or courageous.
  • Alden means helper.
  • Hannah means favor or grace.
  • Imogenia means blameless.

Alchemy used throughout the series (a few examples):

  • Alchemy played a significant role in the development of modern science. Alchemists sought to transformbase metals into the gold or silver and/or develop an elixir of life which would confer youth and longevity and even immortality.
  • In the series, the first instance of alchemy begins with the gold weavers, Max, Oscar, and Henry, spinning straw into gold to manufacture the wealth of the kingdom.
  • The four elementals: air, earth, fire, and water are then seen on Methuselah’s hilt.

 The titles of the books manifest yet another layer of meaning and reveal Imogenia’s evolution.

  • Beginning with Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, Imogenia is furious at what has happened to her and she fuels her emotional hurt.
  • In Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Imogenia turns venomous (or spiteful) and cunning in seeking ways to continually punish her brother.
  • Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor has Imogenia act in a manner disgraceful to the honor of royalty.
  • In Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace we see Imogenia’s grace reborn as she begins to reflect.

In Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, Imogenia realizes she is gripped by hatred and distrust she has harbored for so long. Unlike griffins who choose to trust others, Imogenia cannot yet make that leap when it comes to her brother.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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R. W. Lee credits her love of fantasy with her introduction to C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Later on, she enjoyed the complex world of Middle Earth brought to life by J. R. R. Tolkien in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The multiple dimensions of the worlds mixed with a layer of meaning, captivated her and made her desire to invent Young Adult Fantasy and Epic Fantasy worlds others could get lost in, but also take meaning away from. More recently, L. R. W. Lee has found inspiration from J. K. Rowling and her Harry Potter series as well as Brandon Mull and his best selling Fablehaven, Beyonders and Five Kingdoms series.
R. W. Lee writes to teach her readers principles that can transform their lives – overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and more. She also shows why responsibility, diligence and dignity are the keys to true success in life. She lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband. Their daughter is a Computer Engineer for Microsoft and their son serves in the Air Force.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Email

L.R.W. LEE INTERVIEW

  1. How did you come up with your main character, Andy Smithson? Did he just pop into your imagination or did you specifically develop him?

Andy is patterned after my son. After our first child who was what I would call compliant and seemed to need little to no correction, our son arrived on the scene. As with most 2nd children, he was polar opposite and provided much fodder for an engaging main character.

  1. How did your experience with building a business help with your writing?

It has been invaluable for I understand that writing is only 50% of the writer’s success equation. Unlike Field of Dreams, with so many good books available today, just launching it, even on a well trafficked platform like Amazon, does not get recognition. Because of my corporate background, from day one I began working to build a platform – Twitter and Facebook primarily and now also Book Nerd Paradise. As well, I understand the importance of the author community, for no author can succeed these days without the support of fellow authors. My background has also helped in understanding the need to optimize my books to rank well on the variety of sites they are listed on. There’s much more, but those are the biggest helps I would say.

  1. Was there any particular book or author whom you feel had the most influence on your work?

I have to say JK Rowling. The imagination she revealed, the strength of her characters, the world building, the depth of plot over multiple books…she definitely shaped how I think about writing.

  1. What do you love the most about writing for young people?

Young people are moldable. My passion for writing is to share with readers principles that from my experience can help them live more peaceful lives. A few of these principles include overcoming fear, frustration and impatience as well as understanding that true success in life is not from riches, fame or power, but rather responsibility, diligence and dignity. If they can finish any of my books closer to understanding these principles, I feel very fulfilled.

  1. Which part of the creative process is your favorite? Least favorite?

Designing the story arc is my favorite part of the creative process for you can take a story anywhere your imagination can go. My least favorite part is editing/revising. Even though I know the narrative gets much stronger as a result, it’s still my least favorite part.

  1. How long does it usually take you to write one of your stories from when you get the idea to when it’s finished?

Usually about 6 months.

  1. I know that most authors love all their characters but which of your many “children” is your favorite (besides Andy) and why?

I have to say Mermin, the kindly old wizard who speaks with a lisp. I love him most after Andy because he’s so warm, humble and approachable. He’s fallible and he knows it, which is why he doesn’t apologize for his mistakes, rather he is comfortable in his own skin.

  1. Do you ever plan to branch out into other genres besides middle grade/young adult fantasy?

Funny you should ask. Yes, I’m actually noodling with a story arc of a YA Sci Fi story.

  1. How do you feel your writing has evolved since your first novel?

I can see how much I’ve changed and improved in showing rather than telling my readers what’s happening. I want them to engage and to show – providing sight, sounds, touch, smell, and taste cues is a big part of that. I was particularly thrilled when my editor came back a full week sooner than expected with this current book because I had improved so much between book three and four. My pocketbook also appreciated that J

OTHER BOOKS IN THE ANDY SMITHSON SERIES:

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Blast of the Dragon’s Fury (Andy Smithson, Book One) ebook is FREE. Download a copy at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Google, B&N.

Listen to the FREE podcast of Book 1 by L. R. W. Lee on Podiobooks.

Book one is also available in paperback.

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Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning (Andy Smithson, Book Two) is available in Kindle and Paperback.

Download the professionally recorded audiobook at Amazon

It’s only $1.99 if you download the eBook first…Savings of $16!

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Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor (Andy Smithson, Book Three) is available in Kindle and Paperback.

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Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace (Andy Smithson, Book Four) is available in Kindle and Paperback.

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Power of the Heir’s Passion (Andy Smithson, Prequel Novella) ebook is FREE. Pick up a copy at Amazon, Google, B&N, Smashwords. It’s also available in paperback.

Download the professionally recorded audiobook at Amazon

It’s only $1.99 if you download the eBook for $.99 first…Savings of $1!

“Fire Island” (Chatterre Trilogy Vol. 3): Sci-Fa at its Best

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This well-written novel is the worthy third book in the Sci-Fa Chatterre Trilogy. The author does an excellent job of melding science fiction and fantasy together in another convincing story of another world. This particular world is similar enough to what ours was a century or two ago to be vaguely familiar then mixed with high technology imported via a spaceship wreck you can learn about in the first book, “Star Bridge.” Having not read the second book, “Thunder Moon,” I was a bit lost on the full context of this one, but the immediate action and suspense were enough to grab my interest without knowing the full story of how Tem Aki got into her precarious situation.

Tem Aki is on a quest to find her brother, Larwin, whom you meet in “Star Bridge.” Her journey is substantially complicated when she finds herself on the other side of the planet via an encounter with a time/space anomaly. Fortunately, there’s a settlement nearby where once again you are treated to Jeanne Foguth’s outstanding ability to depict major culture clashes when Tem Aki meets Cameron, the somewhat reluctant leader of a tribe-like culture. Since she emerged from the ocean, albeit in a spacesuit, he thinks that she’s a goddess who has arrived to help him celebrate an upcoming religious ceremony as well as deal with some troublesome individuals who are losing their religious faith as well as trying to undermine Cameron as their leader.

Cameron’s culture is well-developed as is their traditional belief in the madrox dragons, specifically the great dragon-mother, Shaka-uma. The problem lies in that fact that no one has seen her in a long time so a few troublesome doubters are declaring that they never existed. Meanwhile, Cameron is trying to prepare for their annual pilgrimage to honor Shaka-uma, which his adversaries are trying to sabotage. Tem Aki is thrown into this controversy which is further complicated by the fact that there are no other females around in the immediate environment which can best be compared to a monastery.

The misunderstandings between them are at times hilarious and if nothing else demonstrate how easily such confusion can develop when two cultures collide. Tem Aki’s technology, which includes my favorite android, GEA-4 (whom you can also meet in earlier volumes), of course convinces Cameron of her godhood. His fascination when GEA-4 stares into the sun to recharge is classic. Tem Aki’s revulsion toward the primitive, chauvinistic culture is certainly convincing as is the rationale Cameron maintains that she’s some form of divinity.

Cameron’s challenges alone would make a fascinating read but adding Tem Aki into the mix is the coup de grace for a great story. I don’t want to delve any further into the plot because I don’t want to throw any spoilers out there, but believe me when I say that there are plenty of complications, surprises, believable characters, Kazza is joined by another delightful mystic cat, and a satisfying ending. I recommend reading the books in sequence, though this one can stand on its own if you’ve at least read “Star Bridge.”

Pick up your copy on Amazon here.

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Connect with the author, Jeanne Foguth:

Visit Webhome Jeanne Foguth

Follow on Twitter @JeanneFoguth

Get Pet tips, etc. http://foguth.wordpress.com

Roy Huff: Mastermind behind the Everville Epic Fantasy Series

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Roy Huff is a prolific writer who has just released the fourth volume in his Everville fantasy series entitled “The Fall of Brackenbone”.  As I write it’s already number one in various categories in six countries & ranked number 60 in all books in the US and Canada. The boxed set is currently #1 in anthologies in the paid Kindle Store. Clearly Roy’s a gutsy, off-the-scale intelligent guy who’s not only well-traveled but has accumulated a plethora of college degrees as fodder for his popular books.

MF: The creative writing bug didn’t bite you until later in life. At what point did you decide to become a serious writer?

RH: I was writing a paper for an English class, then the feedback I received was very positive, so I decided to turn the assignment into an actual book, and then soon after that a series.

MF: Did discovering your creative writing side come as a surprise?

RH: I had other creative talents such as drawing and singing. My father had drawing talent as well, so it wasn’t a complete surprise. What surprised me the most is how fast I’m able to write off the cuff. Last week Saturday I wrote 40 pages alone. I’ve written countless 30+ days, all with no outline.

MF: Does your scientific background inhibit or enhance your creativity?

RH: I certainly think my science background provides added background when I am writing, and it definitely helps with my speed.

MF: Tell us a little about Everville. What was your original premise? Did you expect it to grow into a series?

RH: So Owen Sage is a college freshman who is pulled into the fantasy world of Everville in book #1. He learns of how his world and the others are connected and works with various races and creatures across time and space to stop whatever dark force comes his way. After a few chapters through book #1, I decided to turn it into a series.

MF: Who’s your favorite character other than your protagonist and why?

RH: I still like The Keeper. His wisdom is great. He is a fatherly figure that I think most people will enjoy.

MF: Of the four books in the Everville series which title was your favorite? Which was the most challenging to write?

RH: I liked the last two books the most. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but there are a few sub plots that carry the story into unexpected directions. I was really pleased when I finished writing it.

MF: Do you plan to continue adding to Everville or start another story line? If so, can you tell us a little about it?

RH: There will be 4 more books in the series. In each story, Owen must pass the test of one of the Pillars of Truth. This will continue, but the details remain yet to be written.

MF: What part of the writing process is your favorite? Least favorite?

RH: I like it most when I actually sit down and start writing. The writing flows. The thing I [like] least is actually sitting down and starting. It’s always that first step that’s most difficult, especially when you have a million things going on.

MF: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

RH: Just start writing. Write as consistently as possible. Try writing everyday, even if it’s just a paragraph or a page. Do it first, before you start watching tv or doing something else, but take a nap first. Get a little rest and refresh your brain. Don’t let fear of not being good enough keep you from writing. You can learn along the way. Failure and bad reviews can teach us, but if you never actually sit down and write, you will never get anything written.

MF: What’s your favorite activity when you need inspiration?

RH: I like daydreaming or sleeping. Both are very productive when it comes to creativity. I do enjoy watching tv or movies or using random word generators at times, but sleep and thinking are the most effective.

MF: Is there anything you want your readers to derive from your stories besides enjoyment?

RH: There are some points of wisdom that can be gleaned from the story, but I’ll leave that to the reading.

MF: Among your many travels do you have a favorite place? What about it enchants you the most?

RH: Hard to say. I love London, Vancouver, Kobe, Honolulu, Seattle, San Francisco. All great places. I plan on traveling much more when I have the time.

You can find out more bout him on his Amazon page bio. His book are currently on sale on Amazon so grab one now!

Connect with Roy:

Blog http://www.owensage.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/EvervilleFans

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/evervillefans

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Roy-Huff/e/B00BCX199A/

 Buy links:

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The Fall of Brackenbone Worldwide

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00WWO1CC2

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Everville:  Books #1-3 Boxed Set

US http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013HWFNYU/

UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B013HWFNYU/

Katy Huth Jones’ “Mercy’s Prince”: A Truly Believable Fantasy World Saturated with Suspense

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This story was nothing short of a joy to read. It’s always refreshing to get totally immersed in a story without being jarred back to reality by misspellings, grammar goofs and other writing faux pas. As a self-declared grammar Nazi, I truly appreciated a book that has been so well-written and meticulously edited. But this is certainly not the only thing I loved about this book.

The characters jump right into your heart, at least the good ones. I love the cover, which captures the spirit of Prince Valerian so beautifully. He as well as sweet Mercy and many other supporting characters are not only convincing but very human with dreams, aspirations and hopes beset with tremendous obstacles, making it easy to connect with them emotionally. Their struggles are at times heart-rending as these genuinely goodhearted, god-fearing individuals are forced to confront situations where they’re forced to make a decision that runs against their beliefs, vows and principles. Moral dilemmas make any story more interesting while providing plenty of internal conflict and philosophical fodder as well. Nothing draws reader sympathy like making your characters suffer and suffer they truly do, through no fault of their own.

Not all of the characters are good, of course, and this one includes a villain who’s ruthless and beyond evil. His actions and intent sets your hair on end as you wonder what this devious slimeball is going to do next to make the hero and heroine miserable, up to and including making attempts on their respectively lives, as he furthers his own agenda.

Which brings me to the suspense, an element that’s superbly sustained throughout. This is reinforced by the fact that the good guys are not spared hardships, injuries or in some cases, death, making it more true to life than some where the protagonist and his cronies border on omniscient super-heroes who miraculous escape any sort of physical threat. This is a dangerous world where sedition is but part of a brutal war being waged against an enemy that reminded me more of the creatures in the “Alien” movies that starred Sigourney Weaver than a species of dragon. But there are dragons as well, some good, some not.

Fantasy fans will find a familiar world, one with a medieval flavor that includes royalty, castles, knights, ladies and dragons. The main characters have some magical traits, but nothing beyond what some possess in real life such as the ability to heal or communicate via telepathy. There are no magic swords beyond their significance as a connection to the past, which is richly represented in the well-developed culture. Their language is familiar, reminiscent of Olde English with a few variations that bring additional personality and color to the characters.

This story has enough elements to satisfy fantasy buffs, but they’re low key and realistic enough for those who simply enjoy a good tale with plenty of suspense and, of course, romance. The ending is satisfying but certainly leaves room for a sequel as new challenges await, throwing a few shadows into the “happily ever after” conclusion. I highly recommend this story to anyone seeking a journey back in time to a fantasy world that’s truly believable along with plenty of action and suspense. Pick up your copy in Kindle or print format at the link below.

http://amzn.to/1hAvPNp

Science Fiction and Fantasy Converge in Jeanne Foguth’s “Star Bridge”

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This delightful tale bespeaks another scenario where a spacefighter jock from a world annihilated by war and greed is shipwrecked on a lush world where its occupants are in tune with nature, superstitious and possess psychic as well as mystical abilities. While this is not a new theme as anyone who has seen “Avatar” or “Dances with Wolves” can attest, the characters are unique and refreshing, their interactions convincing and the descriptions vivid from the massive sequoia trees in which their dwellings are built to the vast array of herbs that the heroine, Nimri, uses in her role as a healer. Some themes never wear out in spite of repeated use when skillfully adapted to new characters facing age-old dilemmas.

Nimri’s peaceful life has been disrupted by the death of her harsh great-grandfather who was their tribe’s former leader, placing her in the role in which she’s expected to take up the Staff of Protection and assume the role of Keeper of the Peace between her tribe, the Chosen, and their nemesis, the Lost, who reside on the other side of the river.

Her great-grandfather has done a sorry job of preparing her, however, having bombarded her with constant criticism and demeaning comments which have left her devoid of confidence in her nascent abilities. Before she can even consider her new responsibilities, however, she must deliver his ashes to Sacred Mountain and scatter them at The Guardians’ feet, a journey from which no one has ever returned. Nonetheless, she swore an oath that she would do so and being a woman of her word, Nemri sets out on the hazardous path to her destination, joined along the way by her 600 pound feline companion, Kazza. Upon finding the sacred spot, she release’s her progenitor’s ashes. A moment later a disturbance shakes the ground and a tree falls, shoving her into the mysterious dark space between the looming stone Guardians.

Meanwhile, Colonel Larwin Atano, a Guerreterre Shadow Warrior, crashes unexpectedly on what he believes to be an uncharted planetoid. He blames the accident on software faults in the sexy-voiced android, GEA-4, which he is beta testing. As they exit their ship to seek shelter on what appears to be a lifeless rock, they find a tunnel which they follow. Eventually they encounter a beautiful, unconscious woman amidst the rubble in the cavern and the fun begins.

The misunderstandings resulting from Nimri and Larwin’s vast cultural differences are at times downright hilarious. Once he sets eyes upon a verdant world covered with vegetation, he envisions the vast wealth that will be his when he somehow gets back to Guerreterre where only the richest of the rich can afford house plants much less trees. Nimri, of course, thinks he’s the personification of one of the Guardians. Fortunately, GEA-4 facilitates the language barrier but while some understanding follows, the often humorous cultural barriers persist. Kazza adds yet another dimension, tying it all together with that wisdom seen in the eyes of his many feline cousins, large and small.

There is much more substance as well as plot intricacies in this enjoyable story than I can go into here to say nothing of avoiding spoiler territory as well. The imagery and details of this distant world are vivid and convincing, particularly Nimri’s gardens and tree-based abode. The culture with its myths, superstitions and traditions is well-developed, providing a strong basis for a trilogy of which this is the first volume. This charming crossover between science fiction and fantasy has elements that should satisfy fans of both genres. The main characters are complex and engaging while the supporting cast lends additional color and conflict. There are plenty of surprises along the way, especially in the finale, which brings a satisfying ending while leaving plenty of room for sequels that I look forward to reading. If you’re looking for an entertaining read with great characters and just the right amount of suspense highlighted by some great culture-clash humor, “Star Bridge” should fit the bill. You can pick up your copy at the Amazon link below.

Star Bridge on Amazon

Meet Multi-talented, Multi-genre Author, Jeanne Foguth

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Jeanne Foguth’s story of Xander de Hunter as chronicled in “The Red Claw” was an absolutely purr-fect light read which you can learn more about in my review of that title. As a cat lover I am hooked. To my great delight, she has just released Xander’s latest tale (or perhaps I should say “tail”?) entitled “Purr-a-noia” with another “Sea Purrtector Files” episode promised for next year.

Yet these charming cat adventure stories are but a small part of Jeanne’s repertoire. If you’re a romantic suspense, fantasy or science fiction fan you’ll want to get a hold of her other novels as well. Her vast travel experience coupled with her attention to detail create engaging characters in the midst of exotic settings which will pull you in and leave you wanting more. So without further ado, let’s learn more about this fascinating author and creator of my favorite cat hero.

MF: Clearly you’re an avid cat lover, which seems to be the case with numerous writers. What besides a strong affection for felines inspired you to write The Red Claw and its upcoming sequels starring Xander de Hunter?

JF: Yes, I love cats. In fact, I like most types of animals and over the years, we have had a wide assortment of furry and feathered friends. In 1981, we were adopted by Rom a.k.a. The Ramakazi, who became my good friend, fellow gardener and writing partner. We shared an L-shaped desk where he lounged on his keyboard while he looking out the window and tweeting to the birds. This allowed me to write freelance projects without him feeling the need to edit my work.

Rom was a major part of our lives until he died at 16.5. For years, I thought of various ways to write a memorial to him and when we were living aboard EvenStar, our Gemini 105MC, I imagined how Rom would have enjoyed the adventure…. by the time we got to Jamaica, where The Red Claw is set, I began putting notes in a file. Initially, I thought that I would only write one book, however I had so much fun that The Sea Purrtector Files is turning into a series. Purr-a-Noia (#2) is newly released and The Vi-Purrs (#3) will be out in early 2016.

MF: Do you have a favorite real-life cat that demonstrates Xander’s traits?

JF: Rom, who Xander is based on, loved technology and seemed very adept at turning things on and opening things – not so good at turning them off or closing drawers and doors. His technical expertise is the main reason we realized we could not share a keyboard and mouse. He was also “Mr. Cool’ when startled, so even when he decided that retreat was the wise choice, he never tucked tail and ran – he exited with dignity. In your review of The Red Claw, you suggested that Xander was sort of a feline 007 and that captures Rom’s character quite well.

BTW, the Siamese cat on The Red Claw‘s cover is Rom. We don’t have many photos of him, so my cover artist, Kiara Graham, adapted the same photo for Purr-a-Noia‘s cover.

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MF: He was certainly beautiful and it’s like he’s looking through you with those blue eyes. I can’t think of a better way to immortalize a beloved pet than in a series of novels. What other animals have you had for pets besides cats?

JF: Hmmm, that is a long list. When I was a child, we lived on a dairy farm, which was at least a half mile from the next neighbor. Aside from cows, we had horses, a dog, sheep (rams are NOT good pets, but lambs are adorable), pigs and chickens.

Over the years, we have usually had a cat and sometimes a dog, but we’ve also had a variety of outdoor pets, which included birds, bunnies and even a few goats (I called them my gardening crew and used them in my war on kudzu ;-).

MF: Your biographical sketch mentions that you have a background in technical writing. Which industry was it applied to?

JF: Initially, I helped write J.C.H.A.(hospital procedure manuals) and preventive maintenance guidelines. Later, I wrote computer-user manuals as well as several free-lance projects that included policy and procedure manuals for some small companies.

MF: How do feel your technical writing experience influenced your fiction writing?

JF: I am a stickler for accuracy. It was drilled into me that J.C.H.A. manuals were used by hospital staff as a guide to treat life-threatening conditions.

MF: I can relate. Accuracy was drummed into my head when I was a techwriter at NASA. Speaking of accuracy, clearly you have traveled extensively which enriches your writing’s sense of place with a strong sense of authenticity. Your descriptions of Jamaica made me feel as if I was there such that I would recognize it if I ever was.  Which location is your favorite and why?

JF: My favorite is wherever our next destination is 😉

I also like where I am and where I have been. Each place has had good and bad points. For example: in Alaska, the Northern Lights were amazing, but the mosquitoes were horrid (BTW, catnip is ten times better than DEET as an insect repellent and if you use it, you might make a new feline friend).

MF: LOL! I have a hard time growing catnip because it always gets ravaged long before harvest. I have one plant surrounded by a hardware cloth cage which so far has survived.

As you’ve gone to these fascinating locations do you find that you’re always thinking like a writer in that new experiences automatically evolve into a new story idea? Or does the story come first with travel and research following?

JF: Yes to both. For instance, the initial idea for Star Bridge (#1 of the Chatterre Trilogy) came to me on a sweltering day, as I was sitting in traffic, waiting to make a left turn. I had the thought that there wouldn’t be traffic jams and pollution on a world where humanity chose to live in harmony with nature. Of course, when I actually began writing the book, I needed to research a variety of things. For instance, Nimri, a main character, is an herbal healer, so I needed to verify what each herb that I used in the book was good for and also to confirm that if people decided to use something, it should not have an adverse reaction to something I mentioned in a scene.

MF: I’m a real fan of accuracy myself. You never know who might be reading your book and if they’re familiar with the subject and you get it wrong then you lose all credibility. Such details in fiction should be trustworthy as well as contribute to the substance and reality of the story. Speaking of accuracy, I assume that you’ve spent some time living on a boat based on the terminology the average non-mariner wouldn’t know in “The Red Claw.” What’s your favorite part about that life? What would you recommend to someone considering such a lifestyle?

JF: We lived aboard EvenStar for a few years. My favorite part was that I didn’t need to pack a suitcase when we moved to the next country – we only needed to pull up the anchor.

If anyone was considering the lifestyle, I would recommend:

1) that they be a good jack-of-all-trades because once you get off shore, you and your shipmates need to be capable of dealing with a wide variety of problems.

2) that they be competent sailors and good at plotting an accurate course.

3) that they be adventurous and open-minded, yet realize there are dangers out there, so avoid inviting problems aboard and stay away from trouble spots.

4) that they expect to learn new languages and understand cultural sub-text and not expect people in a new country to adapt to them.

MF: Makes sense! Have you had any frightening experiences living on a boat?

JF: Of course, but I’ve had worse and more life-threatening experiences on land.

MF: I can believe that. So which of your many books and/or characters are your personal favorites?

JF: That is a difficult choice, but I think Kazza and Xander are my favorites. Interestingly enough, both are cats, so I guess that brings us full circle to your initial observation that I am an avid cat lover.

Be sure to connect with Jeanne via her social media sites listed below and pick up one or more of her books today!  Also note that both Xander and Kazza have their own blogs which have links on Jeanne’s blog site.

CONNECT WITH JEANNE:

Website: www.jeannefoguth.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jeanne-Foguth/e/B00JDW7TC8

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PurrtectorFiles

Blog: https://foguth.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeannefoguth

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1452089.Jeanne_Foguth

Jeanne’s Books on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=%22Jeanne+Foguth%22

Jeanne’s Books on Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/-Jeanne-Foguth-?store=allproducts&keyword=%22Jeanne+Foguth%22

AMAZON BOOK LINKS

The Red Claw: http://www.amazon.com/Red-Claw-Purrtector-Files-Book-ebook/dp/B00OYAXK6I/

Purr-a-noia: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ZFUKBAO

Star Bridge (Chatterre Trilogy Book 1): http://www.amazon.com/Star-Bridge-Book-Chaterre-Trilogy/dp/099133387X/

Thunder Moon (Chatterre Trilogy Book 2): http://www.amazon.com/Thunder-Moon-Chatterre-Trilogy-Triology-ebook/dp/B00S2WGH82/

Deadly Rumors: http://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Rumors-Jeanne-Foguth/dp/0991333810/

Fatal Attractions: http://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Attractions-Jeanne-Foguth-ebook/dp/B00JDNBS7O/

Passion’s Fire: http://www.amazon.com/Passions-Fire-Jeanne-Foguth/dp/0991333845/

The Peacekeepers: http://www.amazon.com/Peacekeepers-Jeanne-Foguth/dp/193092870X/

Review of “Circle of Five” (Volume I of the Pha-Yul Trilogy) by Jan Raymond

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A Young Adult Fantasy Series with a Huge Dose of Reality

“A Circle of Five” kicks off the “Pha-yul Trilogy”, a Young Adult fantasy series. Rather than plunge the reader abruptly into a fantasy world, however, the author slowly transitions to other realms from the daily routine of five “normal” teenagers as they confront challenges encountered following a literal lightning strike which occurs during an after school detention session overseen by the school’s football coach.

The author did an excellent job naming the characters such that they stand out as individuals within a variety of races, ethnicities and financial situations. By the end of this volume you feel as if you know each of them inside and out which is accomplished through the omniscient viewpoint handled in such a way that, to the author’s credit, was never confusing.

Each of the five has his or her own problems, mostly related to their family situation. The details provided for each accurately demonstrate the insecurities and personality issues which can arise from a person’s home environment. These are ordinary teens living anything but a charmed life, other than the fact that most of their parents are affluent or were at some point. Just about everyone should be able to relate to one or more of the situations described from sibling rivalry to neglectful, disinterested or inebriated parents. This factor alone makes this story relevant to both teens and adults, specifically parents, who may see a bit of themselves from the perspective of teens. Life at that age can be overwhelming enough as they try to figure out who and what they are, much less having to do so with a lack of parental emotional support. In today’s world where most homes require two incomes to survive, to say nothing of the financial and emotional struggle of single parents, this situation is probably far too common.

These distinct individuals are not even friends as the story begins. In fact, some of them overtly dislike each other, contributing to plenty of conflict as each character struggles with their own personal issues, dealing with classes, plus being thrust into this exclusive group which involves grueling training they must undergo before and after school. Furthermore, all of this is required without knowing the whys or wherefores of where these abilities came from. While they get a glimpse of what these talents are they cannot control them at will, thus necessitating the training. About all they’ve seen was a quick flash trip to Tibet where they discover the coach is clearly an important figure in that world who reports to a woman even higher in status.

This story is the antithesis of waking up with superpowers and instinctively knowing how to use them, showing it may not be the bed of roses most would expect. The idea that developing any skill to a high level requires discipline and hard work is an important concept and life lesson nicely woven into the plot. The teens’ struggles with their daily routine, personality conflicts and typical high school situations brought the characters to life. Their mundane challenges were detailed, realistic and relatable, lending realism to the story but somewhat understating the fantasy element, which the cover and prologue imply. Thus, anyone expecting the book to be heavy on the fantasy side could be disappointed since there is far more reality within the pages than escaping to another realm. The characters as well as readers are left in the dark with regard to various details with a few revelations in the final chapter.

Nonetheless, as the first book in a series these questions will most likely be addressed in the sequels which have the advantage of being populated with fully developed protagonists whom you feel as if you know as well as the kid nextdoor.

Buy Link:

http://www.amazon.com/CIRCLE-FIVE-Pha-yul-trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00H6LS59E/

Follow Jan:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jan_raymond_cof

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7817816.Jan_Raymond

Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Jan-Raymond/e/B00IKG6J9M/

Review of “Elemental Earth” by Harmony Kent: A Coming of Age Story with a Fantasy Twist

This coming of age story with a twist had me engaged with the main character, Sarah, from the beginning. She’s fifteen, in the usual identity crisis typical of that difficult age, and her family life is a wreck. Her father left and she doesn’t know exactly why, but from the conversation between her parents she overheard she believes it has something to do with her. Her mother has been depressed, sitting incommunicado in a darkened house, ever since.

Answers begin to come when she meets Imogen, a strange girl whom she initially sees as a “freak.” And then things really start to get even weirder as Sarah is led to a world in another dimension where it turns out she’s an important figure in a prophecy. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory so I will leave it at that and invite you to experience this intriguing story for yourself.

It’s easy to relate to Sarah who lacks confidence and has so many questions about who she is. The author did an excellent job getting inside Sarah’s head and making her very human. There’s a subtle message there about how parents can inadvertently damage a child’s confidence trying to protect him or her, which is a large part of Sarah’s problem. Attempting to deny her prophetic destiny, her mother punishes her at an early age for using her amazing talents, which inhibits her ability to utilize them later when her fate asserts itself and depends on them, regardless of whether or not that’s what she or her parents want.

As a professional astrologer I have a deep appreciation for the “elements” of Earth, Air, Fire and Water of which the author captures the essence nicely via the “elementals” in the story. Indeed, each of us has our own set of “elementals” in the form of talents, propensities and abilities with which we were born as well. Each of us simply needs to discover them and recognize how they can help us.

While this book is definitely in the “Fantasy” category, since it involves a girl steeped in modern times, the language is familiar and comfortable. Thus, those who may not usually be drawn to stories set in ancient eras replete with archaic speaking styles, dragons and swords can easily enjoy this story of a teenaged girl plunged into an entirely different world with a heavy future that everyone seems to know more about than she does. There are plenty of plot twists and turns and various surprises. I was impressed with the clean copy which made the read smooth and pleasant compared to so many Indie books which are loaded with typos and other distracting errors due to poor copy editing. Her knowledge and research were apparent and nicely integrated. Many kudos to the author for that.

The only thing I didn’t like about this story was the abrupt, jaw-dropping ending which left me with the feeling that I’d missed something. While I knew it was a series and would probably lead into the next book, there were too many inconsistencies and questions left unanswered for the ending to be satisfying. Rather it was somewhat confusing and frustrating as “What just happened?” reverberated through my head and drove me to make sure I hadn’t missed a chapter or two. IMHO, the author has a lot of explaining to do in the sequel.

http://www.amazon.com/Elemental-Earth-Mysteries-Harmony-Kent/dp/1500690767/

Author Website:  http://harmonykent.co.uk