Thursday, June 25, 2015

EXILE: Book 3 of Guy Erma and the Son of Empire by Sally Ann Melia : A Review




Book Details:

Book Title:  EXILE:  Book 3 of Guy Erma and the Son of Empire by Sally Ann Melia
Category:  YA Fiction, 150 pages
Genre:  Science-fiction and Fantasy
Publisher:  Dickson House
Release date:  June 14, 2015

Book Description:
         
          13-year-old Teodor has found a way to escape from kidnap, how long before he is safely home?
          13-year-old Guy Erma has run away from everything he has even known and no longer knows what the future holds.

          They escaped through dark tunnels and back alleys but they also discovered a hidden terror that now threatens their entire planet.

          Two boys as different as two boys might be.  Their adventure has forged an unexpected friendship, but do they really trust each other?

Dare they share their darkest, deepest secrets?


Reviews:

"One of the most powerhouse imaginations I’ve encountered in sci-fi..." — Dean C. Moore, The Warlock’s Friend.
"Guy Erma and the Son of Empire by Sally Ann Melia is a fast-paced and exciting YA military sci-fi read. Don't miss this one!" — Brent LeVasseur, author and illustrator of the Aoléon The Martian Girl series.
"Set in a world where fashion and fun hide treacherous politics and danger, Guy Erma and the Son of Empire will keep you enthralled." — Sherrill Nilson, Karda: Adalta Vol. 1.
A good old-fashioned political thriller - if you loved both Frank Herbert’s Dune and Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games - you will adore Guy Erma.

BOOK REVIEW:
          Exile – for a series whose first two books are named ‘Kidnap’ and ‘Hunter’, this title itself creates a buzz. For those who have read books one and two of the Guy Erma and the son of the Empire, the story should be fairly easy to follow. It just continues where the previous book ended. Guy Erma and Prince Teodor escape through the dark tunnels of the domeside, but in the meanwhile discover a dark secret – a weapon that was placed in their kingdom to ruin the entire population and create a great impact that no one would forget easily. (For those who remember the first ever chapter of book 1, following this part is fairly easy!)
          Exile ends much as you would expect it to. But it does have a few very surprising twists and turns – the most important necessity of a political thriller. For two thirteen year olds, Guy and Teodor express grim determination and moral fibre. Their mistrust and deeply imbibed fear of each other slowly makes way to a friendship forged over time. The story moves at a fast pace in a racy escape. Teodor finally escapes his captors with Guy’s help. But once he escapes, he realises that there is a far greater threat to not only his life, but also those of his people.
          While hailing himself as King, for perfectly political reasons (Goosebumps when the people of Dome Elite say ‘Hail King Teodor’ – you can almost imagine how the scene is placed, the descriptions are so realistic), Teodor takes over the responsibility with smooth confidence. Guy meanwhile, realises the secret of his birth and slowly tries to grasp where he belongs. The plot has enough moments to keep you turning the pages, and also is totally confusing to those who don’t know what the story is about.
          Most series books do not bring up good conclusions that satisfy their readers. They are either too cheerful and unrealistic – (“And they lived happily ever after, ignoring half of the problems that were introduced over the course of all the previous books as the author lost the plotline” ) or they end with gruesome murder and sadness that those from the story who are considered to be among the ‘living’ would much rather wish they weren’t living at all. Thankfully, this series has the best possible, logical, poignant and sensible ending I have read about in recent times.
          The language is simple enough (if you are not able to follow a few words, the glossary helps). The plot is clear, with a very few holes that could easily be overlooked. The author has given a decent finisher and has finally given off a good feeling about actually ending a series of books. This is a much appreciated rarity. Go for this, you do really want to know how a concluding book should look!
Meet the Author:


          The author was born in Wallasey, England, in 1964, and moved to the South of France when she was eleven. She spent her teenage years living in the cosmopolitan city state of Monaco and became immersed in its many languages and cultures. An English girl in a French school, for three hours each week she would sit at the back of the class as her colleagues learnt English. To pass the time, she wrote stories. This led to a lifetime of writing novels, scripts, stories and articles.
          In her working life, Sally writes marketing communications and manages large international websites.
          In 2010, Sally joined the Hogs Back Writers, a club located on the outskirts of Guildford, and she set about turning an old manuscript into this novel: Guy Erma and the Son of Empire. Sally currently lives in Farnham, and she is married with two children.
PRICE: $8.99 for paperback


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What is Under the Chaos? Guest Post by Jackie Woodside, Author of Calming the Chaos

What is Under the Chaos?

          I am passionate about life – it’s depth and richness and complexity and joy. I love thinking about life and feeling the rhythms of nature and my own body. I love watching my son grow and explore all that life brings to him with each passing year. My curiosity and enjoyment of being a human being feels truly endless.

          One of the themes of my book, Calming the Chaos, is that our culture is so driven to stay busy that there must be something underneath that driven frenzy. Take for example that the most highly prescribed medication in our culture is an antipsychotic drug used to treat depression, or the fact that we are the most overweight, over medicated, addicted generation in history.

          What lies underneath our malaise? I believe it is a profound lack of meaning in life.

          We are a culture that is saturated with material goods but devoid of depth of meaning. Rather than sort out who we are, what we want and what we are here to experience; we lose ourselves in endless hours at the office, a night on the town, a night in front of the television or computer, or worse…

          We have everything we need except for what fills our heart and soul. The time has come to delve deeper into the richness of life by slowing down and orchestrating our lives around what matters not to our pocketbook or portfolio, but to our very being.

          Calm the chaos. The quality of your life depends on it.



Calming the Chaos: A Soulful Guide to Managing Your Energy Rather Than Your Time by Jackie Woodside, CPC, LICSW : A Review




BOOK DETAILS:
Book Title Calming the Chaos:  A Soulful Guide to Managing Your Energy Rather Than Your Time by Jackie Woodside, CPC, LICSW
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction, 232 pages
Genre:   Self Help / Personal and Professional Growth / Motivational / Time Management / Business Success through Personal Management 
Publisher:  Next Century Publishing 
Release date: April 7, 2015 

BOOK DESCRIPTION:
          Far too many people in contemporary culture feel they don’t have enough time to “get it all done.” The stress of this chronic overwhelm creates a disorganized mind that leads to a chaotic life. Based on her highly acclaimed “Energy Management” workshops, and drawn from over 25 years of counseling and coaching experience, professional trainer and speaker Jackie Woodside shares her breakthrough methods that lead to becoming the least stressed, most productive person you know!

          In Calming the Chaos, you will learn the step-by-step skills and thought processes that lead to increased productivity and peace of mind. Jackie’s approach stems from the new frontier of human performance called energetic consciousness. Part philosophy, part psychology, fully practical application, you will learn:

• Why there is no such thing as time management and what to do instead.
• How to manage your energy instead of your time and stress.
• The three-step formula for managing every component of your life for the rest of your life! 
• Why “to-do lists” are a set up for failure and what really works.
• “The Three Strikes Rule” that will end procrastination for good!
• How to always know that you have the time for what you want and need to do!
          Many books promise to change your life. Applying these principles will make this a reality!
BOOK REVIEW:
          Calming the Chaos – to tune the inner energy and make it work for you.
          Now that the one word description of the book has been put forth, (though it comes nowhere near the content of the book itself) this sounds too clichéd. But the book is nothing but clichéd. It doesn’t offer the meditation mantras that are supposed to work miracles. It tells us that change happens from the inside and slowly. There are no finite methods for proven success, but slowly, each person could realise that while time is a finite resource, their energy is infinite and they could work towards using that resource to their maximum benefit.
          The book emphasises on two things – doing things differently (the content) and being different (the context). It doesn’t offer quick fire ways. It concentrates on a holistic development process. The author describes, using her own life experiences, how the chaos in our lives can be tamed. It is simple, after all, to understand that if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’re going to keep getting what you have been getting.
          The steps for each person’s well being starts with their own awareness about self, and the parts that stood out in the book (for me) are the author’s own experience with her acupuncturist and his ominous words said in slow honesty, and the experience with student Alicia. The book is fairly simple to understand and advocates a few practices that will surely bring a marked change for those who want to follow it. Come to think of it, that is why we started reading this, didn’t we?
          As to the content and language, the content is presented in a fairly organised and simple way, using self examples and the language, thankfully doesn’t have too many jargons. While you are reading this, expect the little changes that will slowly make your life better and finally, you will realise that life need not be chaotic. GO for this one if you are looking for a book that is going to help you reorganise yourselves in the available time (pun intended).
MEET THE AUTHOR:

          Jackie Woodside, CPC, LICSW is a psychotherapist, coach, speaker and author, specializing in the power of managing personal energy, rather than time or stress. An Amazon bestselling author of 'What If It’s Time for a Change?' and highly sought-after speaker on leadership and empowerment topics, Jackie conducts training programs for public, private and government sectors nationwide.
PRICE: $14.40 for Paperback


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Interview with Brent Le Vasseur, author of Aoleon the Martian Girl Series



          Hello, I would like to start this interview with thanks! I really enjoyed being a part of the blog tour on this series and reading all the five books. As a roundup post about all the books and my whole experience hosting the five tours in this series, I would like to put forth a few questions. Thank you for taking time to answer my questions!
1.  Who or what inspired Aoléon?
     Around 2002 I became interested in learning 3D modeling, animation and rendering. As a modeling project, I created the Aoléon character. To give my hobby greater focus, I mapped out a story around the character. In 2005, I created the other main characters and wrote a screenplay for an animated feature movie. At the suggestion of the head of the screen-writing department at Sony Pictures, I turned my screenplay into a novel. Ten years later my illustrated novel was complete.
2.  Did you take any reference from mythology or history for writing this series?
     Most of the Martian character names stem from Greek mythology. Aoléon’s name is a play on the Greek god of the winds “Aeolus” or “Aeolian.” Because Aoléon is a free spirit and loves to fly around in her saucer and on her skyboard, I felt that name was fitting. Bizwat is the only character whose name is not based on Greek mythology.
     Many of the landmarks and astronomical objects on Mars also have Greek names. I also made Greek the spoken Martian language. So when a Martian speaks Martian, they are really speaking Greek. I did that for humorous effect as well as for consistency.
3.  Which character was closest to your heart?
I love all my characters. They are like my children. However, Aoléon is most special to me and closest to my heart. I love that she is benevolent and kind while also being independent and strong. She is also a bit of a trouble-maker and goofy, which makes her fun and adds to her uniqueness.
4.  Why Nebraska? Is there any significance?
    No, not really. Because wheat and cattle feature in my story, Nebraska fit the bill. Also, Kansas had already been used in the Wizard of Oz, and Iowa in Star Trek. On a couple of occasions, I had driven through Nebraska, so it was familiar to me.
5. The book is full of alien scenarios where imagination could conjure up all sorts of new names and places. But why Mars?
Mars has fascinated me for a long time. Although my characters and story are fictional, many of the places I describe on Mars are real. Astronomers and scientists have named places on Mars based on multiple sources such as Greek mythology, the Bible, names of scientists, science fiction writers as well as towns and villages on Earth. Names change as we learn more about the specific features of a place. For example, Nix Olympica (the snows of Olympus) became Olympus Mons (Mount Olympus). And Olympus Mons is featured in my book.
6.  What part of your imagined Martian technology would you like to see on earth?
    Probably the imagined innovation that would most captivate me would be the development of telepathic and telekinetic powers. These phenomena would lead to enormous social, political and economic changes that would transform the world into a very different place from what we see today.
7.  Is there any particular reason why the books are smaller than usual novels?
    Yes. Originally, my book was a 550-page novel with 150 full-color images. My reasons for dividing the book into five parts were based on the needs of my target audience (ages 8 to 13), the difficulties and economics of publishing so many graphics both electronically and in print, and marketing matters.
8.  Who was your target audience when you started writing this book? And how much of a variation do you see in that now? Has the book reached a wider audience?
    Initially, I envisioned this project as an animated movie in the Pixar/Dreamworks genre that would appeal primarily to kids (ages 8 to 13) but also to their parents. However, I was advised by a Sony executive to begin by turning my screenplay into a book. So I transformed my screenplay into the books you see today. Although kids love my books, the people who actually buy books usually are adults. So I have been pleased by the positive responses I have received from teachers, librarians and parents. This is encouraging because my ultimate dream still is to have these books made into an animated film.
9.  Will there be any future books? If yes, could you give us a sneak peek into what those books would be about?
    I am in the process of plotting future adventures with Aoléon, Gilbert, Bizwat, Helios, and Zoot (as well as introducing new characters you have not yet met.) The next books in the series will take place primarily on Earth (not Mars) and will involve Gilbert at his school, his evolving psionic power, and time travel.
10.     Could you elaborate a bit more on the beautiful illustrations in the book? I really enjoyed them and they were a very valuable addition to the book!
    Thank you for the compliment! One of the reasons it took me so long to write the book was because I had to teach myself 3D modeling, rendering and animation. Every character, piece of clothing, building, vehicle, prop and scenery had to be conceptualized, modeled and textured. The process required a tremendous amount of time-consuming detailed work. However, given the positive reaction of most people, it was worth it.
11.     A little about yourself that is not in your author’s bio?
I have an entrepreneurial and marketing background. This is my first attempt at writing and publishing a fictional novel/series.
12.     (With many thanks) what brought about the idea of offering gift cards to bloggers?
    This was Laura Fabiani’s idea as part of her ireadbooktours.com book tour. I can’t take any credit for that. Laura has been extremely helpful with ideas for promoting my books.
Now for a few quick fire questions.
    Are you a voracious reader?
    Yes! I constantly read and enjoy books. Lately, however, I haven’t had much time to read new books because I have been focused on publishing and promoting my own books.
    Your favorite authors?
I have many depending on the genre. Probably my most important books are the Bible and George Orwell’s 1984. Those two top my list of essential reading.
    A book that you have read more than once?
Most books that I end up reading more than once are reference books on marketing or business or some kind of non-fiction related to my work or hobbies. I typically read fiction books only once.
    Are you a fan of series books? If so, which?
    I am a fan of the Silo Saga by Hugh Howey and learned a great deal from his approach to self-publishing.
    Your literary inspiration?
    Like many authors, I pull my inspiration from my own life and personal experiences. I modeled the graphic of Gilbert after a picture of me as a kid wearing a cowboy hat. Both Gilbert and I are very interested in astronomy and space travel.
    Which is your most preferred writing environment?
    I frequently jump between writing and modeling characters, buildings, or props, or rendering an image. When I am actually writing or creating a new character or rendering an image, I am typically sitting in front of my computer workstation in my home office. Having said that, my office is not my preferred writing environment. I would much rather be on a beach somewhere, a mountain side, or some place more interesting. I’m sure most people who have to work in an office feel the same way. Maybe in the future with the advent of a synaptic interface, my creative process won’t be limited to where my computer physically sits.

What is your most favorite hobby? (From the list you have mentioned?)
Composing music is still my favorite hobby. Beyond music, I love doing anything that involves using my creativity.

About the author:
Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Interview with Jennifer Swanson, Author of 'What They See'

1.    How did you do research for your book?
      I've been teaching post-secondary students for 21 years, so much of my information came from direct experience. I did survey some of my most recent graduates, read articles and books, listened to podcasts and used the internet. Oh, and I asked my Millennial and teenaged children questions too...they were helpful!

2. In your book, you state, "you are more than your resume". Why is that?
    Because it's true. A lot of stock is put in putting together a killer resume, and that's important, but what's more important is how you show up in person for the interview, and on day one of the new job. Interactions in "real life" speak far more about you than does a slick document, and "what they see" will make a difference.

3. Where do you write?
     I write in several places. My favourite is in the kitchen at the island near the windows, because it's bright and there is a bird feeder and I like to watch them. It's also close to food, which allows for ease of snacking!

4. What is your writing schedule?
     It was pretty much whenever I could squeeze in the time. I'm a really fantastic procrastinator, and would find all sorts of things to do that weren't writing, (even washing bathrooms became interesting!) Between two jobs and four kids and a service-dog puppy in training...there was no regular schedule.

5. What is your favourite dessert?
     That's a hard one because I've recently developed a gluten allergy, and can't have all my favourites anymore...but I would say it's a toss up between anything chocolate and lemon-meringue pie.

6. What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you?

     Well, it was embarrassing at first and funny later. I was extremely pregnant with my first child, working on a busy medical unit in a hospital. I had a uniform on that was a dress (very comfy for a tent-like garment) and was standing up writing something on a clipboard, when a doctor came up behind me very quietly, and said, "Jennifer, you are really slipping." I turned in surprise and was about to ask in what area was I slipping in, when I noticed I something around my ankles. I looked down, and there it was...my slip.