Monday, September 28, 2015


Curse of the Sphinx (Sphinx #2)
by Raye Wagner
Publication date: August 9th, 2015
Genres: Mythology, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

How long can a monster stay hidden in plain sight?

Seventeen-year-old Hope Nicholas has spent her entire life on the run. But no one is chasing her. In fact, no one even knows she exists. With her mom, she’s traveled from town to town and school to school, barely staying long enough to meet anyone, let alone make friends. And she’ll have to keep it that way. It’s safer.

When her mother is brutally ripped away from her, Hope’s life shatters. Is this the fulfillment of Apollo’s curse, murder from the shadow monsters of the Underworld, or have the demigods finally found her? Orphaned and alone, Hope flees again, but this time there’s no one to teach her who to trust—or how to love.

Set in a universe where mythology is alive and well in the modern world, Curse of the Sphinx irresistibly blends action, suspense, and romance.

The box slipped from her hands, the contents spilling on the asphalt. The sleeve of her mom’s sweater landed in the gutter, the splash of red contrasting with the darkness around her.
Even before she turned to the car, the fermented stink of alcohol wafted on the breeze. Two men, just more than shadows, came from the left, their drunken gait slow as they ambled toward her car. Even if she ran, she couldn’t get in the car before they reached her. She sucked in a deep breath.
Adrenaline washed through her body, and her muscles tensed. The sound of her heartbeat pounded in her ears, pages of a book rustled in the wind, and then the sharp intake of breath from a man.
The shorter man leered, and his brown eyes bespoke his mortality, and his smirk promised pain. His fist clenched the handle of something. A hammer? No, a wrench.
The taller man’s gait was steady, and something about his features was . . . off. Wrong. Washed out. And . . . his eyes! Two solid orbs of pitch. 

Raye Wagner grew up in the suburbs of Seattle, the second of eight children, and learned to escape chaos through the pages of fiction. As a youth, she read the likes of David Eddings, Leon Uris, and Jane Austen. Inspired by a fictional character, Raye pursued a career in nursing, and thought to help the world one patient at a time.
One summer afternoon, a plot dropped into her head, and she started writing.
Raye enjoys baking, Tae Kwon Do, puzzles, and the sound of waves lapping at the sand. She lives with her husband and three children in Middle Tennessee.

The top ten most frequently challenged books of 2014

The top ten most frequently challenged books of 2014 include:

1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”

2.   Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”

3. And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda"

4. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”

5.  It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”

6. Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group. Additional reasons:

7. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence

8.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”

9. A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

10. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: sexually explicit 

“Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight.”            ~  Steven Chbosky

*Hey, let's be like North Korea!
*If I don't believe in it nobody should...
*My child can watch a movie based from a book just not read the book.

Does free speech not apply to books?
What can you come up with on the reason for banning books?


Hookah by Cameron Jace 
(Insanity #4) 
Publication date:
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult

A Plague Scarier than Death
Alice and the Pillar have to stop a Wonderland Monster who’d lashed out an incurable disease onto the world. Their biggest challenge is that the world loves this monster so much.

A Cure Larger than Life
The only way to save the world is to travel to the other side of the globe, and peek into one of Lewis Carroll and the Pillar’s darker pasts.

A Truth Madder Than Fiction
This time, the price of saving the world is too high. Alice will have to live with the consequences of the maddest logic of the world surrounding her.

Will Alice find who the Pillar really is? What does he want? Is she brave enough to handle the one Wonderland Monster she’d thought was a good friend? And even so, is the world ready the truth?

"Have you ever jumped out of a plane in a parachute, down to meet up with people who’d take selfies of your blood on their faces for breakfast?
I am doing it right now. And guess what, it’s nighttime, so not only am I free-falling, but I am also doing it in the dark. That’s what I call a bonus.
Throwing away the Pillar’s goggles, I hear the plane explode in midair above me.
Oh my god, this is for real!
“I’ve always wanted to blow up my employees,” the Pillar shouts all the way down. I am not sure how I can hear him. “But you’ll be fine. Just pull the red lever when I tell you to.”
In spite of all the madness, I feel unexpectedly fine up here in the air. Fine is an understatement. I feel euphoric. I want to feel like this every day. It’s ridiculous how much I am enjoying this, although I may get face-palmed by the earth in a few seconds.
Mary Ann, also known as Alice Wonder, 19 years old, dead and gone. I imagine the scripture on my grave says. But who cares? She was mad anyways.
Suddenly I realize that the madness hasn’t started yet. Not at all.
Down below, I can see something glittering. The vast land where we’re landing is nothing but an endless field of ridiculously over-sized mushrooms.
Big mushrooms growing everywhere, whitening up the black of the night.



Cameron Jace is the bestselling author of the Grimm Diaries and Insanity series. A graduate of the college of Architecture, collector of out-of-print books, he is obsessed with the origins of folk tales and the mysterious storytellers who spread them. Three of his books made Amazon's Top 100 Customer Favorites in Kindle 2013 & Amazon's Top 100 kindle list. Cameron lives in California with his girlfriend. When he isn't writing or collecting books, he is playing music.

Sign up for his mailing list here:


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Pharaoh's Cat

The Pharaoh’s Cat, narrated in the present tense by the cat himself, is the story of a free-spirited, quick-witted stray in ancient Egypt who suddenly finds himself with human powers joined to his feline nature.

The cat immediately captures the attention of the seventeen-year-old Pharaoh, making him laugh for the first time since his parents' death and is brought to live with him at the royal palace.

The cat also becomes friends with the High Priest of the god Amun-Ra and seeks his help in solving the mystery of his human powers and the supernatural manifestations that later plague him. He has an enemy in the Vizier—the Pharaoh's uncle and the second most powerful man in Egypt. The Vizier hates him for himself and even more for his relationship with the Pharaoh.

The cat participates in festivities at the royal palace, developing an insatiable appetite for good food, wine, and gossip. He later accompanies the Pharaoh on a trip through his kingdom, all the while renewing the Pharaoh’s ability to enjoy life and inspiring him to become a stronger leader.
Between the cat and the Pharaoh, a bond of love gradually forms which will determine Egypt's destiny.

The Pharaoh's Cat imaginatively blends Egyptology with comedy, drama, and even time travel--the cat and the High Priest will meet Elena, a resident of the twenty-first century and the daughter of a renowned Egyptologist.

First, I want to thank the author for giving me a copy of this book to review. I was sceptical at first since The Pharaoh’s Cat it did not fit into any genre that I would usually read but I am so happy that I accepted and will be rereading this book far into the future. You do not have to have an interest in Egypt or even cats for that matter, all you need is to be eager for a brilliant read. Second, I do not find it necessary in my review to recap the blurb or give away parts of the book, just to review about the author's writing ability.

One thing that is a constant throughout is humor. So if you only like drab books, this one is not for you. The humor mostly comes from the book's narrator, Wrappa-Hamen, a cat. Therefore, the prose is smooth and flows nicely. The plot is overflowing with events so that as a reader, there is never a dull moment. The adventures are non-stop and I assure you will never guess what is going to happen next everything fits perfectly into the story even the time travel as strange it seems. Whereas, things can be learned from this book such as who some of the Egyptian gods are and what they do, a sneak peek into the daily life in Egypt, and some of the rituals. Mostly this is a fun loving book that I could not find much wrong with but there is one part. That is when Wrappa-Hamen lost consciousness from being out in the snowy cold. I could not make sense of that. One last thing, I know you are not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but we all do it. The cover does not reflect how good the book is. It is a short book yet, you are not left wondering anything, but there is a sequel on the way!

Get a copy of this book to read, you will not be disappointed.


Maria Luisa Lang was born in Rome, Italy, and lives in New York City. She has a degree in art from the City University of New York, and her artwork has been exhibited in New York galleries.

She often returns to Italy to visit her family. She has also stayed for extended periods in Bath and London. She loves all animals and is an amateur Egyptologist. Her love of cats and ancient Egypt inspired her to write two novels about them. The Pharaoh's Cat is her first novel. She has almost completed its sequel, The Lady of Mystery.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wide-Open World

For readers of Three Cups of Tea; Eat, Pray, Love; and Wild comes the inspiring story of an ordinary American family that embarks on an extraordinary journey. Wide-Open World follows the Marshall family as they volunteer their way around the globe, living in a monkey sanctuary in Costa Rica, teaching English in rural Thailand, and caring for orphans in India. There’s a name for this kind of endeavor—voluntourism—and it might just be the future of travel.

Oppressive heat, grueling bus rides, backbreaking work, and one vicious spider monkey . . . Best family vacation ever!

To begin with I think you should know that this is not your regular Travel Memoir it is more of a family vacation but with a unique and positive twist. The Marshall family was stuck in a stagnant phase in their family life. John and his wife are having marital problems while their two children grow up quickly before them. John decides what their family needs is to unplug and spend a year together in unique places around the world, but without the money to fund such a trip he did not know what to do, until three words popped into his head “Year Of Service” (It was not a full year). Therefore, the family worked for a place to stay and the meals that were provided for them in secluded locations around the globe.

The story is told solely by John Marshall, who has a peculiar sense of humor that after a few chapters I grew to enjoy. This book has a nice flow to it making it easy to follow. The Marshall family stayed in unique places made the story incredibly interesting. John did a satisfying job of describing to the reader where the family stayed, what they did for work and fun, and explaining the indigenous people and surroundings. I found it amazing the whole family shared one room throughout almost the whole trip and they all returned back home alive. John's goal of the “Year Of Service” was not only to have a vacation, but to instill certain positive traits in his children and to show them what the real world is actually like while Also trying to salvage his marriage. Therefore, the book is not focused only on travel, but also on this family, such as, how each individual family member faced each expedition, the internal growth that occurred and how each person changed differently, and finally what they took away from this adventure. John did a phenomenal job of intertwining both aspects of the book. Whereas, the last few chapters felt rushed and due to the fact the family had split-up going to different locations it was slightly confusing keeping track of what location they were at.    

It is excellent what the Marshall family did. They brought joy to many people on their journey. Yet, I do not think this type of trip is for all families. Just as I do not think this book is for all readers. If you enjoy books that are purely about the travel experience this might not be the book for you. Why? Because this book has two dimensions one regarding travel that is intertwined with a story of a family. If you are looking for something inspiring to read this book is for you.

“...recent UNICEF figures, there are somewhere around thirty-one million orphans in India alone...Thirty-one million is twice as many people as every man, woman and child in the six states that make up New England. It’s as if the entire states of Texas and Colorado...were inhabited by orphaned children”

This is John's Website It shows not only pictures from their "Year Of Service" but also volunteer opportunities you at home can help with!

Thank You, Netgalley, for letting me give an honest review of this book

Monday, September 14, 2015


The Natural Order by R.J. Vickers 
Publication date: March 14th, 2015
CreateSpace Independent Publishing

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
ISBN  1511770481
314 Pages

Tristan Fairholm is one of 15 juvenile delinquents selected to learn magic…for a purpose that is kept secret from them. When they at last learn that the magic they have harvested causes death and ruin in a bid to keep the world from collapse, they must make a choice: do they fight it? Or do they use it?

If you loved Harry Potter and The Golden Compass, you won’t want to miss this new YA fantasy!



R.J. Vickers grew up in beautiful Boulder, Colorado, earned a BA in Writing and Publishing at Emerson College, and was shortly thereafter whisked off to New Zealand by her Kiwi partner. 

She now lives in Christchurch with her fiance, Daniel, where she works as a part-time chef. When she's not writing, she loves hiking and adventuring throughout New Zealand. 

R.J. Vickers is the author of The Natural Order, the first book in a new young adult fantasy series. She swears by NaNoWriMo, and has written seven short novels during the typing frenzy that is November.



How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies greatly.  I’ve written seven books during National Novel Writing Month (where you try to write at least 50,000 words in November), so I can certainly write quickly when I decide to.  And I’m a very fast typist, so it’s the ideas that slow me down, not the mechanics.  But when I’m not working during NaNoWriMo, it can take me a year or more to write a book.  Several times I’ve set a longer project aside to write a quick novel in November, only to pick it up again once the month was over.

Editing is what really takes up time.  To properly revise a book, you have to get perspective on it, which means letting it sit around unread for a few months.  Then, when you and your critique partners single out which parts don’t quite work, it takes a bit of time to figure out how to fix them. With The Natural Order, I actually wrote every scene on a notecard and then laid them out on a table so I could play around with rearranging them.  Any scenes that didn’t seem to fit into the overall flow of the story were cut, and several were reorganized. 

Do you have any interesting writing quirks?  
My partner and I are both writers, so we love doing writing-challenge days.  We draw up a chalkboard like this:

500 words—massage
1,000 words—hot drink
1,500 words—play cards

Each time one of us gets to 500 words, we get a treat.  The ideas can get very creative, such as being forced to sit on the floor until we reach 500 words, or writing blindfolded for 15 minutes after we’ve reached a certain number!  It makes the writing go much faster; some of the most productive writing days I’ve ever done have happened this way.  

How many books have you written?  Which is your favorite?  
I’ve written 10 novels, and I’m in the middle of writing two more.  My favorites are The Natural Order, Beauty’s Songbook (a Beauty and the Beast retelling), and The Fall of Lostport (which I’m halfway through at the moment).  I love them each for different reasons.  The Natural Order is a favorite because the characters are so vivid to me, and I know every one of their backstories and futures.  Beauty’s Songbook I love because of the setting and the fairy-tale atmosphere.  And The Fall of Lostport is my most ambitious novel yet, set in the fantasy world I’ve spent years creating.  

When did you write your first book, and how old were you?  
I started my first novel-length story in middle school though all the way from third grade my teachers and classmates were jokingly calling the long stories I wrote in class “novels.”  That first novel took three years and three notebooks to write, entirely by hand, and it ended up at 120,000 words. I have yet to write a longer novel.  
What does your writing schedule look like?  Consistent or sporadic?  
I’m not terribly consistent though I am good at keeping to the daily word-count goals during NaNoWriMo.  When I’m working on a novel outside of November, I often have to go to a café to make space in my life for writing.  Then I can put in a good couple hours, rack up two thousand words, and head home inspired to do more.  I try to do that at least once a week though it’s often hard to find time for it.  

What environment do you write in?
When I’m writing at home, I have to be listening to music (either I’ll play my story’s theme song, or I’ll search “epic writing music” to find an appropriate mix), and I often have to disconnect the internet.  I’m very bad with distractions.  But when I’m at a café, I can completely tune out any distractions and write for hours.  There’s something magical about writing at a café!

Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I’ve done both, with varying success.  I’ve jumped into a few NaNoWriMo novels with no outline whatsoever, just a vague idea of where the plot needs to go (I started Millennium Rail, a futuristic dystopian story set in Japan, with nothing more than the image of the flooded railway tracks from Spirited Away…).  
I’ve also outlined extensively.  Beauty’s Songbook is a story told in five parts, with five characters narrating and five chapters (plus a prelude and postlude) in each part.  I had every single chapter planned out before I started—which character was narrating, what would happen, and how the overall story arc was proceeding.  Beauty’s Songbook is one of my favorites, but when I was writing it, I got bored about 2/3 of the way through because I knew exactly what was going to happen.  
With most of my novels, I use a combination of the two.  I jump in with no outline and a general idea of where the plot is going, and then partway through I run out of all the ideas I had from the outset, start panicking, do a frantic brainstorm session, and come up with the perfect outline for the rest of the plot.  Then I make myself a bulleted list of events that will happen in the course of the book, which are highly subject to change as I write, though they keep me from having another moment of panic when I discover I have no more plot left to write.    

Do your characters ever run away from you and change the plot without your permission,  or do you have to force them to do everything?
Usually the former.  I’ve had several stories where the book has changed significantly while I’ve been writing it simply because a character won’t obey the character profile I’ve written, or they start making decisions that don’t fit within the original plot.  It can make for a mess, but that’s part of the fun of writing!  It means the characters have become real for you.  


Is there any particular author or book that influenced you while growing up?
More than one!  I was an incredibly voracious reader as a kid, and I devoured—and sought to emulate—every book I read.  One time I was reading a book where the main character isn’t allowed to talk for years on end (Daughter of the Forest, a beautiful book by Juliette Marillier), and each time I put it down I had to remind myself that I was actually allowed to talk.  
Ella Enchanted was certainly one of my all-time favorite books, as well as The Golden Compass. And I read Tamora Pierce’s Alanna more times than I can count.  I love fairy tales, and I especially adore any novels that have managed to capture that same fairy-tale sense of magic and wonder.  

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?  
Lots of things!  I have more than enough hobbies to keep me busy.  I love reading, crocheting, knitting, traveling (that’s how I first ended up in New Zealand), hiking, baking, and photography.  

Do you have a day job as well?
Yes—I work as a chef at Town Tonic Café, in Christchurch, New Zealand.  I never went to culinary school, but I’ve been working as a cook for several years now, since even writers have to eat!  I love the work, though, and it’s been very rewarding.  

Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate hands down.  Everything is better with chocolate!  


Who is your favorite character in The Natural Order, and why?
Leila is definitely my favorite.  She’s a bit like me (she likes cooking and telling stories), but she’s a lot more snarky and confrontational.  She’s been hurt, and she thinks very poorly of herself, but she still gives everything she has to the people she cares for.

Who was your least favorite character?  What made that individual unappealing?
Evvie.  I originally started writing the book from her perspective, only to get bored within about three chapters.  The worst part was that the beginning sounded exactly like the start of a story I’d written in middle school.  It was embarrassing.  Anyway, Tristan was supposed to be this dark, brooding character who fascinated and scared Evvie, but then I decided his perspective would be much more interesting.  I switched then and there, and never regretted it.  Evvie is interesting enough, but I still have a grudge against her.    

What else did you edit out of The Natural Order?
I can’t even remember everything I’ve cut out!  The book has gone through 9 drafts of revisions, and for the first five or so, things were drastically changing between each draft.  First of all, after Evvie was cut from narrating, her initial scenes were gone.  Then the story started right before the car crash where Tristan kills his brother, and eventually I cut that scene and the scenes of Tristan at Juvie, because they weren’t the right tone to lead into the story.  

A few characters have been axed as well—originally the students were collected by someone named Professor Rowdy, who had a goatish face and a nervous tic.  I can’t remember much more about him; clearly he wasn’t very important.  And second, there was originally a mountaineer who stumbled across the Lair and fell in love with Evvie, but that later became *(spoiler alert!)* the twins Evvie cares for, since it heightened the tension between the teachers.   

What was your favorite chapter or part to write, and why?
I have to admit, I’m a sucker for cozy scenes.  I love getting into characters’ heads, so I adore spending time with them and seeing them interact in a comfortable, enjoyable scene.  Part of it is because I often feel like I’m living the scenes as I write them, so I get great pleasure from living those moments.  I loved writing the section set around Christmastime in The Natural Order, though I ended up cutting a lot of it to keep up the pace of the plot!  

What can we expect from you in the future, with regard to this story and other current or future projects?  
I’m working on the sequel and plan to complete that during NaNoWriMo this year.  I’m also halfway through a massive epic fantasy novel, The Fall of Lostport.  Lostport is set in a world I’ve been developing for a long time now, so it’s wonderful to finally get a chance to spend time in it.  

When is the next book in the series going to be released?
I’m aiming to release the second Natural Order book at the same time next year: June 2016!  

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