The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

BarnhillTheGirlWhoDrankTheMoonHeldigClaudieNarrator: Christina Moore

Publisher: Recorded Books (2016)

Length: 9 hours 37 minutes

Author’s Page

In this beautifully magical book, the witch Xan adopts a sacrificial baby from the Protectorate into her heart, having accidentally fed her the moonlight. As baby Luna grows, so does her magic yet she is unable to control it. Soon she unknowingly becomes a hazard to her adoptive family, turning Glerk into a fuzzy mammal. Xan fears tiny dragon Fyrian may be next, so she bottles up Luna’s magic until she is older and can control it. Meanwhile, sorrow hangs heavy over the Protectorate as the Tower and the Elders demand the yearly sacrifice to the ‘witch’ to keep their town safe. Meanwhile, young Antain has grown into a young man and over the course of the book he becomes determined to stop the ‘witch’ from stealing any more of their children.

Wow! Just, simply, wow! I fell in love hard with this book. I do enjoy a fun kid’s book here and there but this hit all the right buttons for me. It has this wonderful mix of magic, sorrow, adventure, loss, love, discovery, humor, and goodbyes. Barnhill has magnificently caught the sorrow of losing a child and also a child’s longing to know their biological parents in this intense fairy tale. Those two things give what would otherwise be a light, fun read a certain keen edge that makes all the beautiful parts that much more intense.

The Protectorate is surrounded by a bog and a forest and few of the residents know of any life outside the area. It is ruled by two powers – the Council and Elders (a group of ‘wise’ old men) and the Tower (which is filled with armed, armored, and well-educated women). Right away, we are privy to a yearly scene where a child is taken from its family and walked to edge of the town and left for the evil ‘witch’ to retrieve. The townsfolk are told this is to keep the entire town from being decimated by the witch, but the Elders all know there is no witch. The ritual keeps them in power and comfort. Young Antain, who is being groomed to become an Elder, sees first hand the horrible result of this as the baby’s mother goes insane with grief and is locked in the Tower for safekeeping.

Xan has known for years that the Protectorate gives up a child on the same day every year so she has been visiting them in secret and taking the babies off to other cities to be adopted into willing families. Yet this time it is different. Xan calls down the starlight to feed the baby, but she is extra hungry, and before Xan knows it, she has accidentally fed the babe moonlight, enmagicing her. Xan decides to adopt her, names her Luna, and becomes her Grandmother. Glerk, an ancient, friendly bog monster, and Fyrian, a tiny baby dragon, round out the family.

Xan is the real star of this book. She gives so much and becomes a bit of a willing sacrifice herself. Her decisions drive much of the plot. Plus I just enjoy her character. She’s got a bit of a hidden history that becomes clearer towards the end of the book. Luna is fun but she doesn’t have much of a personality until the last quarter of the book. I was also quite taken with Antain. His story arc is the most dynamic, starting off as a young lad, being groomed as an Elder, studying in the Tower, suffering a scarring accident, and eventually resolving to put an end to the yearly sacrifices. I think Antain deserves a story of his own. Fyrian and Glerk provide the comedic relief much of the time but add so much love and happiness to the tale I would be shallow to dismiss them. Glerk, being as ancient as he is, knows the importance of family and the ties of love and friendship. Fyrian is not as young as he thinks he is but he’ll grow into it.

There is a hidden villain in the story and I didn’t figure out their identity until the last third of the book. I loved that I was totally not expecting it and therefore, I didn’t really know where this tale would take me. I loved that I couldn’t easily predict how things would turn out. The story has just enough hard edges, just enough evil and sorrow, that the author had me wondering if this fairy tale would indeed have a happy ending. Luna’s mom really captures the heart of this novel. Her immense love for her lost baby has driven her into a deep sorrow and that sorrow has pushed her into a touch of insanity and that touch has opened the door of magic just a crack. All these elements are connected in one person here and the bigger story shows how those elements connect all the people in this tale to one another. It’s really quite clever. Like up there with Neil Gaiman kind of clever.

In short, I can’t recommend this book enough. I was captured from the opening scene and didn’t want to put it down. I was never quite sure how things would end and this kept me thoroughly invested in the story and characters.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Christian Moore did a great job with this book. I loved her voice for Xan, Glerk, and Fyrian. She also managed quite well in portraying not only a young Antain but also the man he grew into over the course of the book. Her voice for the true villain could be quite spooky indeed! She was excellent at imbuing scenes with the correct, and sometimes subtle, emotions. 

What I Liked: Beauty and sorrow mixed together; and intense fairy tale; enchanting characters; clever villain; ties of family, friendship, and love; Antain’s quest; Luna’s coming of age; Xan’s sacrifice; Glerk and Fyrian; excellent narration; beautiful cover art. 

What I Disliked: Nothing! A completely enchanting tale.

What Others Think:

Nerdy Book Club

Geeks of Doom

The Winged Pen

Reading to Know

Carina’s Books

Audiobook & Signed Book Giveaway + Interview: Brandon Bosse, Author of the Phillip Aisling Adventures

BosseTheDreamsOfPhillipAislingAndTheNuminousNawaaganEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Brandon Bosse. Don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post – signed paper copies and Audible.com/.UK copies of The Dreams of Phillip Aisling and the Numinous Nagwaagan. 

What’s next for Phillip Aisling?

Well that could be answered a few different ways. First, and what I’m most excited about, I am working with a team of talented UCSD students to create a virtual reality game called Phillip’s Lucid Dream Training.  It is based on the first and second books, so it will actually be a bit of a preview of book #2. In the game, the player takes on the role of Phillip, a young true Dreamer just getting started learning how to master his dreams with lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming and virtual reality go hand in hand because both transport you to a world that looks incredibly real, but you are aware that it isn’t real! A demo version will be coming out later this year for Google Daydream and a full version for HTC Vive later.

Next, the second book is underway titled The Dreams of Phillip Aisling and the Lessons of Lucidity.  In this book, Phillip begins training by the Dream Masters to learn how to fully take control of his dreams. I have taken your comments to heart that the story needs something more to draw the reader in, so expect the story to take an epic turn in book #2. I have tons of notes that I’ve been collecting as I’ve been doing research for the book over the years. I cannot wait to get them down into a book. It is just so hard to find the time to write between all the other projects I have going on!

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

If I had to choose? Oh but why choose?! Why not be rescued by a supernatural alien who happens to be my own personal superhero?! Since my book is about interdimensional travelling via lucid dreams, I am imagining a being that has developed the ability to open portals to any point in time and space, which would be quite supernatural indeed. I imagine that this being would rescue me just as my eyes close as I prepare to accept my unfortunate fate and my spirit transitions back into the astral. By some unexplainable supernatural force I’m swiftly yanked back to reality by the interdimensional alien, pulled to safety within the hyperspace of infinite possibility. Or I suppose I could have just gone with a superhero. Superman. Yes, let’s go with Superman. He will do nicely. Come to think of it, he is a supernatural alien superhero!

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

My favorite movie of all time, The Matrix. I recently re-watched it again for the umpteenth time, but this time with a friend who had never seen the movie before. It brought back many fond memories of what it was like to watch it for the first time.

[SPOILER ALERT] Go watch the movie if you haven’t already! Come back and read the rest afterward!

There is a scene near the beginning where Neo is offered a deal by Agent Smith to “wipe the slate clean” in exchange for helping track down Morpheus, but Neo instead gives him the finger and demands his right to a phone call. Agent Smith responds, “What good is a phone call if you cannot speak?” and Neo’s mouth begins to seal shut as the lips inexplicably begin to grow together! When I first saw this movie I was really taken aback by this scene, as was my friend watching it with me for the first time. This is the first point in the movie where you realize some something really serious is up. It’s moments like that in the movie and many other ah-ha moments that make me want to relive it all over again for the first time.

What makes you fall in love with a story?

I love a story that has a misunderstood, goodhearted protagonist that has supernatural abilities. Remember the 1995 movie Powder? It featured a misunderstood albino boy who had telepathy and telekinesis and was taunted relentlessly by ignorant boys and eventually died by converting back into pure energy. I loved that movie and was very moved by it. I also loved Matilda. Her parents didn’t get her at all, but her teacher helped her realize the potential of her telekinetic gifts! Now that was a fun movie!

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

In no particular order, I would select the following 4 fantasy authors to join me on a magical quest:

J.R.R. Tolkien – because he practically invented the modern genre of magical quests! Although, he is a bit long-winded at times, which might get annoying after a presumed weeks long journey together, his ability to imagine fantasy worlds would no doubt prove more than useful.

Brandon Sanderson – First of all, Brandon has a cool name! Haha! He has impressed me many times with his prose in The Way of Kings and is a big inspiration for me as I set off on writing book #2 in my Phillip Aisling series. The fact that he’s roughly my age helps, too!

J.K. Rowling – Speaking of inspiration, Harry Potter was absolutely a huge influence on my book! Ms. Rowling’s knowledge of magical systems would be essential to solving any puzzles along the way.

Terry Pratchett – He seems like a happy-go-lucky, lighthearted fellow. His ability to imagine worlds rivals those of Tolkien and Lewis Carroll. I’d invite him just to add some much needed levity to the bunch!

Who or what are your non-writer influences?

I would definitely say that Rob Bryanton’s video, Imagining the 10th Dimension, was the most influential source I drew from when forming the ideas for dream magic in the book. It was in 2007 when I awoke from an unusually vivid dream and I had been watching YouTube videos about higher dimensions. I came to the realization that given the infinite probability space that exists in the theorized multidimensional hyperspace, then dreams are then glimpses into alternate positions therein. Now take that concept, and write a young adult novel about it. There’s 99% of the inspiration for The Dreams of Phillip Aisling.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

I remember watching The Incredible Hulk as a kid and liking it, but the new movies are, well, incredible! There’s just something about how realistic CGI can make the Hulk that a body-builder with green body paint and purple spandex just doesn’t live up to, you know? Plus, the story line, dialog, and acting are more on par with what we’ve come to expect with modern movie production. As for reboots that I haven’t gotten into, sticking to the superheroes, I’d say that I really wanted to like The Flash reboot, but just couldn’t get into it. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a lot of time to watch TV these days and so I’m very selective with what I’ll give my attention.

Cover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. Will you tell us a bit about your book’s cover art?

I absolutely agree! A mistake some indie authors make is putting their heart and soul into their writing but then scrimp on the book cover. While I still agree that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you still need a cover that grabs the attention and imagination of potential new readers. The cover is the first impression that either leads someone to invest their time into reading your book or not. My book’s cover was illustrated by the very talented Andres Cortes. If you want your best chance of getting a book cover you’ll absolutely love then I recommend you do what I did. Here is a blog article that gives away my secret to getting the perfect book cover.

As for how I came up with the scene for the cover, I knew it needed to capture the more important moment of the namesake of the book, ‘The Numinous Nagwaaagan’. In the depicted scene, Phillip is receiving his prized possession from the Oracle, an old Native American woman who’s dreams have shown her all she ever wanted to know of the future.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Well other than picture books from early childhood, like the Berenstain Bears, the first full length novel that I recall reading was The Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. It made me want to learn more about wilderness survival. I loved it!

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

Nightcrawler from X-Men would be a great partner for any obstacle course! He has always been my favorite of the X-Men because his teleportation ability is awesome and he is always so compassionate. Of course having him with me would almost be like cheating considering he could simply teleport us both past any obstacle, but you did say I could invite any fictional character of my choice!

Thank you Susan for these fun questions! They certainly lead me down a few unexpected paths that have even contributed to ideas for my book series!

Book Blurb for The Dreams of Phillip Aisling and the Numinous Nagwaagan

BosseTheDreamsOfPhillipAislingAndTheNuminousNawaaganPhillip Aisling is just like any other boy, or so he thought. On the night of his 13th birthday he has a dream so vivid that he is convinced it was real! He soon learns that he has begun training with the Dream Masters. They practice lucid dreaming to be able to fully control their dreams, giving them immense power. But when his vivid dreams turn into nightmares he never wants to fall asleep again!

In his struggle to understand his remarkable dreams and prevent terrible nightmares, he finds The Dreamer’s Dictionary written to help young Dreamers make sense of their new powers. It begins with a very peculiar poem:

“Through the Gates of Dreaming come powers untold.

There are distant worlds for true Dreamers to behold.

You may not understand just what your dreams mean

Once you have broken through the barrier in between.

Each moment you sleep brings signs without number.

May this book bring meaning to visions of your slumber.”

The dictionary leads him to seek the guidance of the Oracle who gives him a numinous nagwaagan, or a magical dreamcatcher, to protect him from the draiths that are causing the nightmares. With the protection of the nagwaagan hanging above his bed, he is finally able to safely return to dreamland. But his struggle to learn to control his new powers has only just begun!

Join Phillip and his friends on an epic journey to learn how to become a powerful Dreamer. Explore the possibilities of where our dreams might come from. Are our dreams nothing more than glimpses into alternate realities within the multiverse?

Have you had a dream so vivid that you are certain it was real? Would you like to control your dreams? Maybe you too are a true Dreamer!

About Brandon Bosse

BrandonBosseAuthorBrandon Bosse is a computational cognitive neuroscientist, biomedical engineer, and visiting scholar at UCSD. He has worked in the field of retinal implants for the past 10 years, including prior work in Germany and Australia. During this time he wrote The Dreams of Phillip Aisling. He was inspired to begin writing the story after awakening from an unusually vivid dream in 2007. He is a Lucid Dreaming and Virtual Reality enthusiast and is also working on a VR Game called Phillip Aisling’s Lucid Dreams, where the player can learn lucid dreaming techniques while exploring Phillip’s dreamland.
Follow Brandon at facebook, twitter, and instagram to get regular updates about the VR project, the newly released audiobook, and the next book in the series!

Places to Find Brandon Bosse

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

GoodReads

Amazon

Audible

GIVEAWAY!

Brandon Bosse is generously offering up 2 signed copies of the paperback and 2 copies of the Audible audiobook (winners choose Audible.com or Audible.UK) of The Dreams of Phillip Aisling and the Numinous Nagwaagan. You can enter the Rafflecopter below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) Are you interested in the signed book or the audiobook? 2) What reboots have you enjoyed? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways ends March 1, 2017, midnight. Additionally, if you are interested in receiving a free copy of the book (including audiobook copies) in exchange for an honest review, you can contact Brandon through any of his social media.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Teddy Bears and the Christmas Pirates by Justin Sloan

SloanTeddyBearsAndTheChristmasPiratesNarrator: Michael Gilliland

Publisher: Justin Sloan (2016)

Length: 1 hour 26 minutes

Series: Book 3 Teddy Defenders

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 3 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

Teddy bears Ari and Mia are in for quite the adventure in this story! It’s Christmas time and these bears are a little worried about being replaced. Their fears aren’t to be taken lightly. However, no one expected Grizzly pirates! They came and stole the new bears and now Ari and Mia feel compelled to mount a rescue mission. They must be back before Christmas morning for their kids Rick and Tiffany. So right there we have the makings of a great little adventure – danger, the unknown, and a time limit for true success.

The Teddy Defenders (which is primarily Ari, Mia, and Brutas) come up with a plan to track down the pirates and find out what they’re up to with captured bears. Turns out Captain Crab wants to conquer the world! Muuuhhhhahahahaa! Captain Crab might be reaching a little too high, but that doesn’t mean we should let him give it a good try. The Teddy Defenders have to figure out who they can trust and who might be swayed to side with them.

Captain Crab is after a treasure that will give the Grizzly pirates great power – the Treasure of Cardoz! There’s plenty of swashbuckling and humorous Grizzly pirate swearing (all G rated). The Teddy Defenders feel they must find this treasure first and keep it from the Grizzly pirates. As things unfold, a plot is hatched. There’s honey involved.

Over all, it was a very amusing story. I do believe it is my favorite so far in the series. I loved all the pirate outfits on the Grizzlies and the standoffs and the pirate swearing and the race to find and capture the treasure. As with the previous books, the ending was quite cute and totally fit the story.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Michael Gilliland continues to be a great pick for this series. I really, really enjoyed his Grizzly pirate voices in this book. He also does a great job with the few female voices, especially Mia. There’s a few sound effects tossed in here and there and I really liked that too – they added to the story and didn’t distract from it.

What I Liked: Grizzly pirates! great book cover; good use of honey; pirate singing; G-rated pirate cursing; the treasure hunt; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Interview: Danica Davidson, Author of Battle with the Wither, an Unofficial Overworld Adventure

DavidsonBattleWithTheWitherEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Danica Davidson. We chat about manga, cyberbullying, Minecraft, and plenty more! She’s previously been interviewed on one of my favorite book blogs, The Little Red Reviewer. Make sure to check that out for even more about Danica. Now, on to the interview!

Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten its deserved amount of attention?

I think things tend to move in waves, and as you notice certain sales dominating publishing, then it’s all about that kind of book. It changes every so often, but there are usually a few types of books that garner the most attention, and others that fall to the wayside. Personally speaking, it can sometimes be very difficult to pitch my Minecrafter books for reviews or interviews, because there can be a stigma about kids’ adventure books. People assume adventure books can’t have much depth. But I write books that have lots of cliffhangers (to keep kids excited) and talk about real issues at the same time, like cyberbullying. It’s important for me that these books are fun and also have deeper meaning.

DavidsonMangaArtForBeginnersIf you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I think I’d have to go with superhero. Then again, what kind of supernatural creature?

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

The Simpsons. It’s been my favorite show since I was seven, and I like to joke I learned half my vocabulary from it. (In fourth grade I used to walk around and use the word “perspicacity” because I heard it from Lisa.) As an adult, I realize how well the show is written for both kids and adults, and tons of jokes went over my head back then. I think it’d be amazing to watch all over and not know what to expect, because so many jokes would catch me off-guard.

DavidsonPuppyPartyHow does modern pop culture influence your work? Do modern cultural references date a piece or add touchstones for the reader?

It depends on what I’m writing. For my manga book, Manga Art for Beginners, it goes into how to draw popular manga character types, like ninja or butlers. With my Barbie comic Barbie: Puppy Party, Barbie and her sisters put on an adoption event for the local shelter, so it’s not pop culture there, but it’s a reference to reality and animal welfare.

For the Minecrafter books, I talk a lot about Minecraft and tech, so that puts it very much in the now, but that’s also the point of these books. I also talk about cyberbullying in the books, which is sort of a “now” thing, but treating people badly is still treating people badly, and that’s not going to go away. Tech just allows us new, anonymous, farther-reaching ways to harass people. I hope these books can help kids be able to talk about cyberbullying, how it affects them, and how we can all be good online citizens.

I also take on cyberbullying in a short comic I wrote called “Picture Perfect,” which will be in Tales from the Crypt from Papercutz in 2017. It’s much darker than the cyberbullying in the Minecrafter books.

If you were sent on a quest which other manga authors would you take with you?

Is this for survival or for fun? For survival, I’d have to check out their skills. If it’s for fun, then I’ll just get distracted by their great art and probably get nothing accomplished. I’d bring along a lot of bishonen artists who’d probably get tired of me asking them to draw all sorts of things for me.

DavidsonEscapeFromTheOverworldAre there any manga characters you would like to cosplay or have cosplayed?

I don’t generally cosplay myself, though I love seeing what people come up with. I’m more into “becoming” new characters by writing about them as opposed to dressing up like them.

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Lisa Simpson from The Simpsons, Kazutaka Muraki from Descendants of Darkness, the Phantom from The Phantom of the Opera, Raven from DC Comics and Stevie from my books.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I probably sounded like an idiot when I got to meet Tamora Pierce at the ALA convention. I was telling her I started reading her books when I was in middle school and I loved them so much and I was writing for MTV right then (I showed her my badge so I’d try to look professional) and maybe I could interview her for there and lots of incoherent (another Lisa Simpson taught word) chatter. But she was very nice.

Places to Find Danica Davidson

Website

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

Author Bio: 

AuthorDanicaDavidsonDanica Davidson is the author of the Minecrafter novels Escape from the Overworld, Attack on the Overworld, The Rise of Herobrine, Down Into the Nether, The Armies of Herobrine, and Battle with the Wither; the how-to-draw manga book Manga Art For Beginners; and the comic book Barbie: Puppy Party. Her books have been called “EXCITING” by Forbes, “RECOMMENDED READING” by School Library Journal, and have been spotlighted by Sci Fi Magazine, Barnes & Noble Kids Blog, MTV and other publications. She was also one of a small group of writers to receive a Webby honor at MTV for Best Youth Writing.

Book Blurb for Battle with the Wither

DavidsonBattleWithTheWitherAfter finally defeating Herobrine and rescuing his father, Stevie is looking forward to putting the prophecy far behind him. Bidding his friends farewell, Stevie returns to the Overworld to make up for lost time with his dad.

But their reunion is cut short when a Wither attacks the Overworld, destroying their house. When Stevie rushes outside to survey the damage, he can’t believe his eyes; they’re surrounded by deadly ghasts, blazes, and zombie pigmen from the Nether! Somehow, Herobrine has found a way to retaliate from beyond the grave—and now the entire Overworld must face his vengeance.

In the exciting conclusion to the Unofficial Overworld Adventure series, it’s up to Stevie, his dad, and their friends to restore balance between the Overworld and the Nether, defeat the Wither, and—most importantly of all—protect each other.

In particular, this adventure series is created especially for readers who love the fight of good vs. evil, magical academies like Hogwarts in the Harry Potter saga, and games like Minecraft, Terraria, and Pokemon GO.

Book Giveaway & Review: David Travels to the Past by Gonzalo Martínez De Antoñana

DeAntonanaDavidTravelsToThePast

Don’t forget to check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

Illustrator: María José Mosquera

Publisher: Saure Publisher (2016)

Length: 74 pages

Author’s Page

Note: This book contains two distinct adventures: The Rock Painters, Art of the Upper Paleolithic Period and also The Babylonians, Art of Mesopotamia. Each story starts with a little introduction page. David is an apprentice artist to Master Messina and Angela joins in the second adventure. While there are a few typos, perhaps due to translation errors perhaps, in the first story, there are more in the second, including a few lines that are rather clunky. Please note that my copy was an ARC and these typos and translation errors may be corrected in the final publication. They did not detract from my enjoyment of the book.

In the first tale, The Rock Painters, Art of the Upper Paleolithic Period, Messina uses hypnosis to transport both himself and David into the distant past – the Paleolithic period. There, they befriend a small group of nomadic hunters and they then spend weeks with them learning about their various types of art. Po-pec and Ae-tel are the most prominent characters among the the tribe. They act as guides for David and Messina in exploring caves and learning how to do their art.

What I really loved about this story is that the author didn’t shy away from using big words, which were then usually explained by Messina or by the context of the images the words related to. Also, the story shows several different types of art, such as portable art (images carved on small bone pieces), narrative art (art that tells a story), clay modeling, bas-reliefs, and others. The story also goes into some of the techniques used in making the art.

In between the bits of art lesson, David and Messina are on an adventure. There’s animal hunts, dancing, mudslides, and more. Not only do our heroes get to examine the prehistoric art up close, they get to live the life for several weeks, giving them a deeper appreciation of the art. My little criticism for this story is that while there are a few females depicted in the tale, none of them get names, get any lines, and aren’t a significant part of the story.

In the second story, The Babylonians, Art of Mesopotamia, David and Messina use the same method to be transported back to around 600 BC in the city of Babylon. Angela, Messina’s niece, was also transported with them and she’s just as ready as David for an adventure. They start their hunt for the origins of Mesopotamian art. They see several famous buildings, such as the Ishtar Gate and the Babylonian gardens. It’s not just architecture they investigate, but also the decorative friezes and and the glass bricks with relief patterns.

Still they hunt for the origins of this fine art. With the aid of the god Marduk, they are transported even further back to 645 BC at the Ninive library. At this point in the story, somehow they are able to understand the Niniveans and vice versa. In the first story, such linguistic abilities were not possible. However, they are unable to understand the written cuneiform. While I found this odd, it wasn’t a major point in the story. Besides, I was having too much fun with this ancient history adventure. There’s the ruler Assurbanipal and the mythological hero Gilgamesh to meet! There’s wall paintings and sculptures to enjoy!

The next leg of the journey has them even further back in time, in the second millennium BC, where they meet Hammurabi. Here, I was pleased to see the diorite sculptures. Finally, Marduk transports them to the third millennium BC, in the city of Uruk of the Sumerian civilization. Here they meet the high priestess of the goddess Innana. Finally, they discover the origins of the Mesopotamian art. Indeed, I found it very clever to walk back in time and see how architecture and art grew from these earliest Sumerian works. I enjoyed this second adventure more than the first, partially because it wasn’t just an art adventure, but also architecture and history. Also, this story had three female characters (though only two have names) that each had lines and roles in the story.

Illustration: I really enjoyed the illustrations for this graphic novel. In the first adventure, The Rock Painters, Art of the Upper Paleolithic Period, I especially liked that Mosquera has this distinct style for the story, but then also uses a different style to depict the Paleolithic art. Her depictions of the cave art is immediately identifiable as such. As with the first story, The Babylonians, Art of Mesopotamia has the distinct style for all the characters and background, but then totally different styles to depict the various art. I like that Mosquera rendered true-to-life depictions of the various art, which added to my delight in the book.

What I Liked: Adventures in art and history!; great illustration!; David and Messina appreciate the art more with each adventure; Angela joins in for the second adventure; the Mesopotamian gods and rulers; how David and Angela mimic the art they’ve learned about.

What I Disliked: The first adventure was all about the men.

Be sure to check out other reviews on the book tour via iRead Book Tours!

Buy the Book

USA: Amazon  ~  Kindle ~  Barnes & Noble

UK: Amazon  ~ Kindle

Australia: Fishpond  ~  Booktopia ~ Kindle

Author and Illustrator

María José is a teacher. She won international illustrations awards.

Gonzalo has a degree in art history. He works in museums and as a tourist guide.

Connect with them: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook ~ Pinterest

GIVEAWAY!!!

Win a print copy of the graphic novel David Travels to the Past (open int’l / 5 winners)

Ends Dec 10

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Dreams of Phillip Aisling and the Numinous Nagwaagan by Brandon Bosse

BosseTheDreamsOfPhillipAislingAndTheNuminousNawaaganNarrator: Fred Wolinsky

Publisher: Brandon Bosse (2016)

Length: 7 hours 48 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Dreams of Phillip Aisling

Author’s Page

On Phillip’s 13th birthday, his friends and family gather with presents, food, and plenty of quirky personalities. That night he has his first strange dream and he soon learns that he is in training to become a Dream Master. Luckily, he has a set of solid friends he can confide in. He’s going to need their help and advice!

Some parts of this book I enjoyed and some parts were only ho-hum for me. I didn’t dislike it, but I find that I wanted just a bit more from the story. I think maybe it is because I’m a scientist at heart and sometimes I wanted to step into the tale and explain to Phillip about coincidence and also how our mind sees and records more than we do consciously, and how that can affect our dreams. For instance, he has a crazy dream about a flower one night and the next day he notices the same kind of flower in his own yard, which had been there for perhaps a year (though perhaps without a bloom on it). So I think my natural skepticism kept me from enjoying this book. If you lack such skepticism or can shove it to the corner of your mind, you might enjoy this tale more than I did.

There are plenty of oddball personalities in this book and that’s one thing I really liked. Cynthia talks too loud all the time but she’s a stalwart friend. Jack, Phillip’s best friend and neighbor, is a rock, totally dependable. He’s also Thai so we get references to some really good food in this book. The there’s a new girl in school named Lair (I think. I had trouble telling if it was Lair or Blair). Anyway, she has lived in several places with her family and this gives her a bigger view of the world. She gives Phillip some useful advice several times concerning lucid dreaming and other cultures.

There’s a variety of hurdles that Phillip has to contend with. One of them is the perpetually-angry Mrs. Bishop, his history teacher at school. Sometimes his older brother Jeff is a bit difficult, along with his cousin Carl. Then there are the draiths in the dreamworld that give him nightmares and are capable of some painful tricks. Luckily, Phillip received a dream catcher early on that assists in preventing nightmares.

In the dream worlds that Phillip visits, I liked the sprite Fidgeon (or Fid for short) the most. He was helpful and playful. The old Dream Master that is in charge of Phillip’s training and the woman who gave Phillip his dream catcher (the numinous Nagwaagan) didn’t catch my imagination as much as Fid.

Phillip and his friends have a few troubles in this book but none of them really caught my attention. It was typical growing pains kind of stuff that really matters at the time, but weren’t anything spectacular or deep or dangerous, etc. This book has plenty of components that work for the story and yet none of it provoked emotions from me. Sad to say, I didn’t strongly connect with this book despite the obvious care and craftsmanship that went into it.

I received this book free of charge from the author.

The Narration: Fred Wolinsky continues to do great work in the world of audiobook narration. He has distinct voices for every character. I really liked that he pulled out some few special effects for certain dream character voices, like Fid. He’s also great at imbuing the kids’s voices with emotion. When Cynthia is angry, you know it. When Phillip is distraught over being wrongly accused of cheating, you know it. Wolinsky’s performance brings these characters to life!

What I Liked: Gorgeous book cover; great narration; over all, a good idea for a story; Phillip’s stalwart friends; Fid the sprite.

What I Disliked: There was nothing I really disliked but I was sad that I didn’t connect with this book. I think my innate skepticism kept me from fully enjoying this book.

Guest Post: Using Fiction to Interest Young Readers in Non-Fiction by Henry Herz

Hello everyone, please welcome Henry Herz to the blog today. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Henry in the past as well as enjoying his clever children’s rhyming book Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes. One of his other books, When You Give an Imp a Penny, was beautifully illustrated and mischievously fun! Today, we’re celebrating the release of his latest children’s book, Little Red Cuttlefish. Without further ado, enjoy the guest post!

Using Fiction to Interest Young Readers in Non-Fiction by Henry Herz

I think it’s fair to say that parents want their kids to develop both the right-brain creativity stoked by reading fiction, AND the left-brain analytical capacity encouraged from reading non-fiction. Both help round out young minds. Both improve school grades and SAT scores. Both are useful life skills.

Sadly, many young readers view only fiction as fun reading; looking down their cute noses at “boring” non-fiction. This makes fiction the chocolate pudding of the literary banquet table. History, math, and science are relegated to the role of lima beans, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Boy are they steamed!

Now, I love fiction. After all, I write fiction picture books – like the fractured fairy tale, Little Red Cuttlefish recently released by Pelican Publishing. And I moderate fantasy literature panels at San Diego Comic-Con. That said, I’ve also been long fascinated by history, math, and science.

HerzLittleRedCuttlefish

So, how do we get kids to use both sides of their brains and eat their literary vegetables? Well, as a parent, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’ve resorted to melting cheese on vegetables so my co-author sons eat what’s good for them. And why not use the same technique with my writing?

Little Red Cuttlefish is a good example of this approach. The story is an aquatic retelling of the classic fairy tale. In the original, Little Red Riding Hood is swallowed whole by the wolf – not a very savory outcome (for the girl, anyway). In Little Red Cuttlefish, the plucky cephalopod protagonist uses her wits and natural defense mechanisms to thwart a hungry tiger shark.

Aside from a more positive message (they were called the Brothers Grimm, after all), the aquatic version is intended to spark young readers’ interest in learning about sea creatures, zoology, and science in general. Toward that end, the story showcases the superhero-like abilities of cuttlefish, and an author’s note serves up fascinating facts about cuttlefish and tiger sharks, an excerpt of which is below.

Cuttlefish aren’t fish at all. They are members of a class of animals that includes squids, octopuses, and nautiluses. They have a porous shell inside their bodies, called a cuttlebone, which is used to control their buoyancy.

Male cuttlefish have eight arms and two tentacles. Female cuttlefish have only six arms and two tentacles. The arms and tentacles have suckers for grabbing prey. And if that isn’t strange enough, their blood is greenish blue.

Cuttlefish have an amazing ability to quickly change the color, pattern, and texture of their skin. Cuttlefish can use this camouflage to sneak up on their prey, which consists mostly of crabs and fish.

The cuttlefish’s ability to quickly change color also helps it avoid being hunted by sharks, dolphins, seals, and other predators. If camouflage doesn’t work and it is spotted by a predator, a cuttlefish can squirt out a cloud of brown ink to help it hide.

LittleRedCuttlefish

Now, what kid wouldn’t want the superpowers of changing color, squirting ink, and multiple sucker-covered arms? As if by magic, fiction can point young minds in the direction of non-fiction. “Why, yes, I WILL have some broccoli now.”

 

Places to Stalk Henry

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Pinterest

Amazon

Pelican Publishing Company and Little Red Cuttlefish

Little Red Cuttlefish by Henry Herz, Josh Herz, & Harrison Herz

HerzLittleRedCuttlefishWhere I Got It: Review copy

Illustrator: Kate Gotfredson

Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company (2016)

Length: 32 pages

Author’s Page

This is an aquatic retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood tale. Little Red, a cuttlefish, is set to deliver crabcakes to Grandma. Little Red looks forward to sharing krill cakes with her. She makes it there safely and that’s when the tiger shark shows up! The shark sniffs for her as she plays hide and seek. Little Red has to use her natural abilities, her smarts, and gumption to outwit the tiger shark.

There’s one page where Red has obviously changed colors (to gold like her mom) but no mention of the cuttlefish’s ability to change color is mentioned in the text. For small children this might be the only confusing part, but it also provides a chance for the reader and the kid to chat about the natural abilities of cuttlefish. This particular ability is mentioned in the Author’s Note at the back of the book, along with other factoids about cuttlefish. I like that info on the tiger shark is also included at the end of the book. The authors also provide links to additional resources on sea life in this section. The whole package is a great little introduction to sea life for small kids.

Illustrations: Brilliant colors worthy of a living coral reef are used. I like how the angle changes too throughout the story, sometimes looking side on and sometimes from above, like a scuba diver. The facial expressions on the characters are great, like when the tiger shark bumps his face into the coral. A variety of sea life is illustrated in this book: sea cucumber, shrimp, octopus, tiger shark, and staghorn coral.

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the authors in exchange for an honest review.

What I Liked: A fun story; a variety of sea life; showing off the cuttlefish abilities; additional sea life facts in the Author’s Note; some links for more info; great illustrations.

What I Disliked: None – a fun book for little kids!

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Arthur Slade, author of The Hunchback Assignments

SladeDustEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Arthur Slade. I’ve enjoyed Slade’s works – check out my reviews of Dust and Ember’s End. We chat about book villains, which fictional characters to invite over for tea, tough jobs, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss the international GIVEAWAY at the end of this post – ebook of Dust.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

The Six Million Dollar Man. Battling sasquatches! Running at amazing speed! A bionic eye! When I was a kid this was the only science fiction type show on tv and I watched it religiously. In fact, I think we only had one channel on our TV (I grew up in the outback). So I’d love to experience that amazing, overwhelming joy that I felt whenever the show came on TV. In second place would be Star Trek and Space: 1999 (tied for 2nd, of course).

SladeEmber'sEndWhat has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I was a night auditor for a hotel. It wasn’t horribly difficult, except that I was the only employee in the hotel from 1 to 7AM and that meant I was the plumber, the security guard, and the guy behind the desk. Often there were hours of boredom peppered by the occasional crazy party that I’d have to break up. Writing is certainly safer and, oddly enough, pays better. I was able to get a bit of writing done between 2 to 4 AM because the hotel was usually quite then.

SladeTheHunchbackAssignmentsMore and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel, etc. Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm? Will there be more Arthur Slade audiobooks?

I do have plans to create more audiobooks. My latest novel, Flickers is in the hands of a studio right now that is putting the book together. I’ve been lucky, also, to delve into graphic novels via Kickstarter. And my steampunk series, The Hunchback Assignments, has been optioned for a movie. So there are several irons in the fire, so to speak. One of the joys of this modern digital age is that so many of these types of publications are easier to access. Well, except making movies. Those still cost a mountain of money.

SladeTheDarkDeepsWho are some of your favorite book villains? Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

As far as villains, I’m partial to Captain Hook. That villainous pirate who always hears ticking in the background. I’m also a huge Lord of the Rings fan, but in all honesty Sauron is a boring villain. He’s just so powerful and so far in the background. Instead betrayers like Saruman are much more interesting. Any of the hobbit duos were great fun in those books, too.

SladeEmpireOfRuinsIf you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Hamlet, but he probably wouldn’t be able to make up his mind whether he wanted tea or a beer. Darth Vader, to see if he would use the force in a ping pong game. Katniss, to tell her to hurry up and make up her mind about one of those men. Sherlock Holmes, because he could probably find the socks that I’ve lost. And Julius Caesar (who appears as a fictional character in many works) to ask him whether he was represented properly.

SladeIslandOfDoomCare to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

The restraining order from Stephen King doesn’t allow me to repeat the story. Kidding, of course. I did go to his house once because I was in Bangor, Maine. I just wanted to see it. Didn’t knock on the gates or anything. I did ask his neighbour what it was like to live next to Stephen King and he said, “It’s fine, but I get tired of the tourist buses pulling up and people getting out to stare.” Not sure I’d want to be that famous.

What do you do when you are not writing?

Netflix. Oh, and reading. Far too much Netflix, though.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. Still one of my favourites! I blame it for turning me into a fantastical type writer.

ArthurSladeAuthorPlaces to Find Arthur Slade

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

Author Bio: Arthur Slade was raised on a cattle ranch in the Cypress Hills of southwest Saskatchewan and he caught the writing bug at an early age. He is the author of eighteen bestselling books, including “Dust”, “Jolted,” and “The Hunchback Assignments.” He currently lives in Saskatoon, Canada.

SladeDustBook Blurb for Dust: SEVEN-YEAR-OLD MATTHEW DISAPPEARS one day on a walk into Horshoe, a dust bowl farm town in Depression-era Saskatchewan. Other children go missing just as a strange man named Abram Harsich appears in town. He dazzles the townspeople with the promises of a rainmaking machine. Only Matthew’s older brother Robert seems to be able to resist Abram’s spell, and to discover what happened to Matthew and the others.

GIVEAWAY!

Arthur Slade is offering up an ebook copy of Dust. Giveaway is open internationally! You can enter the Rafflecopter below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) What country do you live in? 2) Who are some of your favorite heroes from books? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways end October 7, 2016, midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guest Post: Fairy Tales and Fairies and Fae (Oh, My!) by Henry Herz

Hello everyone, please welcome Henry Herz to the blog today. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Henry in the past as well as reading his wonderful children’s book Nimpentoad. He was also the editor for a great anthology, Beyond the Pale.  His latest clever creation is Mabel and the Queen of Dreams. Without further ado, enjoy the guest post!

Fairy Tales and Fairies and Fae (Oh,My!) by Henry Herz

Fairy tales are commonly defined as children’s short stories featuring fantasy creatures and magical enchantments. Wikipedia artfully states, “The characters and motifs of fairy tales are simple and archetypal: princesses and goose-girls; youngest sons and gallant princes; ogres, giants, dragons, and trolls; wicked stepmothers and false heroes; fairy godmothers and other magical helpers, often talking horses, or foxes, or birds; glass mountains; and prohibitions and breaking of prohibitions.” The fairy tale is such a ubiquitous literary form, that it even has more than one classification system*.

Thomas Keightley indicated that the word ‘fairy’ derived from the Old French faerie, denoting enchantment. Fae is not related to the Germanic fey, or fated to die. Some authors don’t distinguish between Fae and fairies. Other authors define Fae as any inhabitants of Faërie, be they large or small, good or evil. For them, Fae is the broader term encompassing not only fairies, but elves, dwarves, ogres, imps, and all other fantasy creatures. They consider fairies to be Fae who are diminutive and often ethereal, magic-wielding, and/or winged.

ElvesAndFairiesIdaRentoulOuthwaiteFairy Islands from Elves and Fairies by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, 1916

Fairies of either flavor have been flitting about literature for centuries. Consider Morgan le Fay in Le Morte d’Arthur, Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Oberon and Titania in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tinker Bell in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, Holly Short in Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, all the way up to Bloom in Doreen Cronin’s eponymously titled picture book and Mabel and the Queen of Dreams (inspired by Queen Mab in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet).

HerzMabelAndTheQueenOfDreams

C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and others established fantasy as the subgenre of speculative fiction that employs magical elements set in an alternative world. Tolkien wrote in his essay “On Fairy-Stories” that fairy tales are distinct from traveller’s tales (e.g., Gulliver’s Travels), science fiction, beast tales (e.g., Aesop’s Fables), and dream stories (e.g., Alice in Wonderland). He felt that fairies themselves were not an integral part of the definition of fairy tales. Rather, fairy tales were stories about the adventures of men and fantastic creatures in Faërie, a marvel-filled magical otherworld. By that definition, The Lord of the Rings is a fairy tale.

TheBoyAndTheTrollsJohnBauerBy John Bauer from The Boy and the Trolls, 1915

Urban fantasy** is a subgenre of fantasy set in an urban setting, typically in contemporary times. This setting violates Tolkien’s definition of a fairy tale, since the story takes place in the “real” world, rather than in Faërie. Thus, Mabel and the Queen of Dreams, though featuring a fairy, is an urban fantasy rather than a fairy tale, or as Tolkien preferred, Märchen (wonder tale).

Regardless of subgenre, I hope readers will find in my story what Tolkien posited for Märchen generally. “Far more powerful and poignant is the effect [of joy] in a serious tale of Faërie. In such stories, when the sudden turn comes, we get a piercing glimpse of joy, and heart’s desire, that for a moment passes outside the frame, rends indeed the very web of story, and lets a gleam come through.”

*Two major fairy tale classification systems are Aarne-Thompson and Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folk Tale.

**Some notable urban fantasy includes the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, Modern Faerie Tales series by Holly Black, Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine, Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, The Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris, The Hollows series by Kim Harrison, The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, Feral series by Cynthia Leitich Smith, The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, October Daye series by Seanan McGuire, Marla Mason series by Tim Pratt, Simon Canderous series by Anton Stout, and Borderlands series by Terri Windling.

Places to Stalk Henry

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Pinterest

Amazon

Schiffer Publishing and Mabel and the Queen of Dreams