My Book Rating System

My book rating system is based on 5 stars. The book must be rated at least 3 stars for a review.

3 Stars: Good story, good plot, good writing.

4 Stars: I was wowed, but something about the story fell short of perfection.

5 Stars: I was either drooling, on the edge of my seat, or falling in love.

If you would like me to review your book, please contact me at

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book Review: Undermountain, by Eric Kent Edstrom

Eric Ken Edstrom

Star Rating: 4 Stars 

Summary (from Goodreads):
Two teens from from different worlds . . .

Danny Michaelson, sixteen, just wants a little time away from his troubled home in Nashville. So when he joins a group of teens in the Canadian Rocky Mountains for a ten day hiking excursion, he's primed for adventure.

Breyona Lewis, sixteen, is a beautiful rich girl from Chicago. Outwardly cheerful, she conceals a dark secret. One she denies even to herself.

. . . the encounter of a lifetime . . .

Danny and Breyona come face to face with a creature of legend--an eight foot tall beast they tag as "bigfoot." But it's no missing link, no mere animal. And it does not want humans knowing its secrets. Because there are thousands of them here on Earth, living in a hidden city deep beneath the mountains, waiting for the day humans are "ready."

. . . friendship, love, and loyalty . . .

Separated from each other and told they may never return home, Danny, Breyona, and the others race to escape. To survive.

One is made more than human, one is made less.

One must fight, one must surrender.

Both must face the truth of who they are.

My thoughts:
Okay, at first I was like, Bigfoot? Really? Can that be any way interesting in a story? Well, in fact, it kinda was. I liked the plot, I liked the characters, I liked the descriptions, and I liked the writing. I think the premise is unique and different. There's some humor in there (I love how Wa gets his nickname), there's a bit of romance (but just a tinge...perfectly acceptable for younger, male readers...seriously, not enough to gross them out), and there's a lot of growing up for these kids. I wanted to kick the bad apples in the butt, they were so irritating; and yes, that's a good thing. And best yet...the writing is solid.

The only real gripe I have is that one character is extremely intelligent. Good, good, I can take a smart kid. But this character's intelligence was portrayed through his speech...a lot of times relying on not using contractions. Geniuses use contractions when they speak. I would prefer a brainiac's dialogue supported by the substance of *what* is being said rather than *how* it's being said. It makes the character sound like he's trying to be smart, instead of portraying him as smart. And yes, this character did use contractions sometimes, but really, that's not how kids speak...even the brilliant ones. This character just didn't sound natural to me.

Other than that one very small thing, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Book Review: Jaguar Sun, by Martha Bourke

Jaguar Sun
Martha Bourke
Star Rating: 3- Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

DECEMBER 21, 2012 Will that fateful day destroy our world, or did the Mayans have something else in mind?

Maya Delaney knows. Unfortunately.

Maya Delaney is just an average sixteen-year-old. She’s busy dealing with exams, her soon to be ex-boyfriend and fitting in.

But Maya’s got bigger problems. She’s hiding a major secret from her dad and having strange visions she can’t control.

In her struggle to figure out who she is, she learns that she is meant to fulfill an ancient Mayan Prophesy and bring forth a New Age on earth.

Will the spirit magic Maya wields be enough to defeat Toltec, an evil society bent on keeping her from her destiny?

Or will that destiny destroy her.

 My thoughts:

First, this is a different cover than my version of the novel. I like this one much better.

 I really latched on to the premise of this story; the whole issue of the Mayan calendar ending in December, 2012, is fraught with mystery, trepidation, and awe. I was eager to pick up a book that depicts one version of how the mystery is solved.

 Maya is a like-able character who handles the changes she's going through marvelously well. She has good friends who stand by her, and a boyfriend who's not so like-able in the beginning but grows on you as he grows himself.

It wasn't really what I was expecting, I guess, and I don't want to say what kind of changes Maya goes through without revealing anything, but it's not usually the type of book I would pick up. With that being said, I did like the way this author approached those changes, and it actually didn't bother me all that much. There is also variety in this aspect, which again was least to me.

 The book was both slow and fast; the story moved slowly, but the timeline and events moved very quickly. If that makes any sense. Let me try to explain myself. The story takes a long time to get started and the plot itself moves slow, yet doesn't take enough time on significant events and seems to rush from one event to the next...there were certain things I would have liked have seen fleshed out. This is especially notable in the first half of the book; the second half of the book seems a bit better paced.

 There was much ado with the character (author) injecting little witty (sometimes) paranthetical thoughts while the story is moving. As the story gains speed, these parantheticals take a short hiatus, but then return at the end. They're okay if used occasionally and do inject some humorous thoughts from the character...but the over-use was over-done.

 The author kept telling you when something was going to happen, rather than let the story play out. "That's when I saw it." "And it only got worse from there." And things were always happening suddenly. "Suddenly, all I could think about..." "Suddenly, I realized..." "Suddenly, I felt a wave of nausea..." It occurred often enough for me to take note of it.

 Some of the concepts of the story are not fleshed out to my satisfaction. I can't go into too much detail without giving away parts of the story, but the changes Maya goes through seem to merge and blend bits of spiritual (?) and physical aspects (and the only way I can question this is: really, where do the clothes go and how do they magically re-appear?)... it made no sense to me. The ending, too, seemed anti-climatic. I'm not sure *what* Maya did means for the future of the world and humanity, because we don't really know what would have happened if Maya had been stopped from her mission. Her power seemed to be diluted from what we're lead to expect throughout the story. I guess I was expecting more, I don't know, BAM! And to that end, we don't know what it means for the future world and humanity now that Maya *did* complete her mission. It's vaguely referred to, but the whole conceptual future world is not mapped out in this book. It's hard to root for the character and her mission when you don't know what the consequences will be if she fails; not knowing removes the sense of urgency. What I got out of it was that life would go on as we know it (except I don't know where the bad players fit in); you can't get any more anti-climatic than that. Maybe we find out in the sequel, perhaps.

 The series may have potential if some of these things are addressed.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Book Review: Life of the Party, by Christine Anderson

Life of the Party
Christine Anderson

Star Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Mackenzie Taylor can't wait to be free; free from high school, the shadow of her perfect older sister, and her disapproving parents. The rebellious party girl has a perfect accomplice in best friend Riley, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who scores them drugs, booze and under-age entry into the only club in town. But then everything changes. A traumatized Riley suddenly decides to give up the party life, and a wide-eyed Mackenzie meets Grey Lewis, a broodingly talented, gorgeous older man she falls instantly in love with. Though Riley warns her to stay away, the aspiring rock star's body and ample drug supply are too tempting for her to resist. Previously inseparable, Riley and Mackenzie go their separate ways.

When summer hits, Mackenzie has new friends, a new apartment and new drugs to mask the pain of Riley's absence. And of course, she has Grey. But despite the fierce, consuming passion they share, the mysterious bad-boy always leaves her guessing. Is Grey really a good guy? Or was Riley right about him all along? Mackenzie's in too deep to care. Unable to curb her mounting addictions, before long the lust-for-life teen totally loses control. She forgets Riley, forgets life, forgets everything but Grey and their next hit. 

But luckily for Mackenzie...Riley has never forgotten about her.

My thoughts:
I really got into this book. Um, can I say the story's addicting? LOL The book is well-written. The characters are real, believable, and like-able. You are caught in the life of Mackenzie, feel her pain and confusion, understand her angst, dismayed as you watch her life spiral out of control. You want everything to work out for all of the characters, because you *like* all of the characters.

The ending is a twisted shocker, one that I didn't see coming. It's so real to life, though, it could hardly be unexpected...but it was. Books don't usually show the grit and the dirt and the underbelly of human emotion and addiction, and life isn't always happily ever after for everyone. And that's not how this book pans out. And that's what makes the story so believable.

What I didn't like so much? It was long. There are points along the way where I thought would have been a good place to end. Thinking back on it, however, I can't honestly say what I would have done differently to shorten it, because all of the moving pieces are essential for the ending, but there were chunks in the middle that probably could have tossed or shortened without losing the integrity of the over-all story. Moral here? It's not a quick read. Expect to spend a good amount of time to get through (and I'm not saying that's a bad thing either!)

The end got a little preachy for me. I understand the life-changing event for Mackenzie, and I understand what motivated her to change. I don't fault that. What I did fault was the pages of recited scripture; I felt like I was reading a sermon rather than a work of fiction. It took  me out of the story, and seemed more like the author's platform rather than a part of the story. I don't fault religious platforms...if I'm expecting it. There is a whole Christian market out there, and I especially recommend this book to that audience. People might expect to hit upon scripture if the book is marketed as Christian fiction (I'm not sure it was), and to that audience that's probably expected and relevant. Not sure how the secular readers will respond to it.

With that being said, I highly recommend this book.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Funnies!

Are you ready for a little Friday humor? Check out these signs....might get a chuckle or two.

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In the Hot Seat! with author Tom Sarega

Author Tom Sarega is taking a turn on the hot seat today! Tom is the author of a young adult dark fantasy, Dreamcatchers - After Darkness Light.

And you are in for a real treat today. Tom has recently revealed his new cover, which is pretty cool. Let Tom know what you think!

And the love doesn't stop there, my friends. Dreamcatchers - After Darkness Light is FREE on Amazon from 9/19 through 9/21, so hurry to Amazon and get your copy (see deets at the bottom of this post).

So, anyhoo...

I know this sounds like a cool read, and I'm very much looking forward to reading this myself!
Now, we'll get to the hot seat.

Dale: Tell us a little about Dreamcatchers - After Darkness Light.
Tom: Dreamcatchers – After Darkness Light is the story of five school
friends who are unwittingly drawn into the malice of an ancient
rivalry between two Mayan brothers, who feud over a dreamcatcher woven
by the gods.

The Mayan prophecies are nigh and the immortal Anunaki, a murderous
Mayan warrior, will fulfill them. He will unleash the dreamcatcher and
shroud the world in such darkness that none will survive. And if by a
miracle some do, they will pray every night that they had perished

The only person who can stop him is his younger brother, Iktaniki, a
spirit guide - but not without the help of the five. There’s just one
problem. They don’t trust him....or his motives.

Dale: Where do you get your inspiration to write?
Tom: Interesting question Dale – well, I was into writing from a young age.
I wrote stories from about the age of ten but stopped when I started
my marketing career. However, I have always held onto one source of
inspiration and I remember it now every time I sit down to write. At
school one day, at about the age of fifteen or so, I was asked to stay
behind after class. My teacher asked me if the piece I had just
written for homework was autobiographical, so immersive were the
scenarios I had created. That has always inspired me to write.

Dale: What's the first book you read that made you catch your breath?
Tom: So many stories have moved me in so many different ways. I wouldn’t
say “catch my breath” but The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS
Lewis was the first book to entrance me with its magic. I would say
that Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin was the first story to really scare
me and Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway, was the first book to
make me cry, so invested was I in his characters and their fates.

Dale: If you had a super-power, what would it be?
Tom: Another interesting question! Well it just so happens that in
Dreamcatchers, the five school friends have “dreaming abilities” in
their dreamworld - just like superpowers. My favourite would be
Ronnie’s ability, to “see” into the past through another person's
memories. Watch this space for Book Two though - it’s not only the
past that he can see into…….

Dale: If your book was to become a movie, what would the theme song be?
Tom: It would have to be "Run" - by Leona Lewis, for no other good reason
than I just love the song!

Dale: When you write, are you a plotter or a pantser?
Tom: I do find that if I sketch a plot outline then the story hangs
together but I do let the characters lead me as I write. I think it
allows for more believable characters.

Dale: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?
Tom: I think I was about eight when my uncle asked me “what do you want to
be when you grow up?” Of course, I replied “an author”. I even wrote a
series of short stories called “The Adventures of Alex the Ant” that I
submitted to Walker Books but unfortunately I did not hear back from

Dale: Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what music do you listen to?
Tom: No I don’t. I find that I have to write either in complete silence or
in a place where there is a constant hum of noise. I wrote
Dreamcatchers at the Christchurch University Library in Canterbury (in
England) and at Café Rouge along Canterbury High Street.

Dale: What process do you use to create your worlds?
Tom: Research, research and more research. I read a number of books about
Mesoamercian (Mayan, Toltec, Aztec etc) cultures and I studied their
wars, their weapons and their mythology in order to link the story of
the five schoolchildren and the Mayan prophecies together. In the real
world, dreamcatchers are from a separate culture to Mayan history.
However, as this is a fictional story, and as the dreamcatcher is so
important as a metaphor for something very relevant to today's world,
I found it enticing to base the story around it - I think it works
very well.

Dale: What inspired The Dreamcatchers series?
Tom: The idea for Dreamcatchers originally came to me in 2001. I was
searching on the internet for a Portuguese art shop named Destarte,
back in the days when the internet was nothing but a mass of blue

I accidentally clicked a link to a website about dreamcatchers. On
that website there was a quote by Thoreau –
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve

And then it hit me – what if you actually could travel through your
dreams? What if you were actually there? And the basic idea for
Dreamcatchers was born. Have a look – I think the website is still

Dale: Hot seat questions:
a. Beach or mountains?

Beach! If I went up a mountain I’d probably never make it back!

b. Summer or winter?
Definitely summer. I’m British don’t you know? We hardly ever have summers!

c. White or dark chocolate?
Both of course!

d. Coffee or tea?
100% coffee. I live on the stuff. Hot Java Lava coffee is my favourite.

e. Favorite TV show?
Big Bang Theory

(Dale: Me too! Love that show!)
f. Favorite color?

j. Morning person or night owl?
Night owl – most of the time, when I was struggling to resolve plot
issues in the story, I would fall asleep and I would dream how it
should happen. More often that not, my subconscious wrote

Thank you Tom, for sitting in the hot seat and giving us view of your world!

So, pretties, now that you know a little bit about Tom, I have to show you how you can get your hot little hands on his excellent book, Dreamcatchers - After Darkness Light.

Amazon links:
Goodreads and Library Thing:

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cover Reveal! Whispers on the Wind

Check out the beautiful cover of Whispers on the Wind: Ari's Story (#1) by author Alison Davis!

Looks cool, right? Here's more information on Whispers on the Wind:

Haunted by the echoes of the past, Ari's finds love, sees death and saves one man from repeating his ancestors’ mistakes and takes it upon herself to catch him when he falls.

Ari moves to a small English coastal town and takes a job at the local library, she begins to fall in love and become embraced in the community. 

Meanwhile under her house through a bomb-shelter under the cellar she discovers a natural cavern in the cliff face. The cavern contains a wealth of treasures and trinkets left behind by those who found it before her. 

A wedding photograph and a set of letters become her obsession. 

Ari does her best to uncover their stories, only to discover that history is repeating itself, every male descendant of Alexander has died on that cliff top since and now a new set of letters have appeared with the same seal and the same warning signs.

I stood in the cavern and looked about with a candle. I’d only been down in the hidden grotto a few times and hadn’t ever ventured beyond the first pillar. Even now I still didn’t go any further than that. There was no need; so many hidden treasures were right by the steps. I set the candle in the closest corner as always, and within its range I scanned the treasures. There were tiny figurines carved from wood set in some of the alcoves. They become mere silhouettes right on the edge of the pool of light cast by the flickering flame. Some small tin toy cars from the 1950’s were stationed into traffic queues, with a fire engine parked up by the pillar and a small police officer with his hand held up to the nonexistent drivers. There were more relics in the ‘garden’ above, some magazines from the 1970’s rotting in a corner, next to the bench. Even older relics were scattered about too, hair ribbons, earrings and even a photograph of a wedding from the early 1900’s.

On the back of it someone had penned a note.

My darling husband,
You were mine for one short hour before you were taken to the battlefields.
I waited. I wrote to you. For so long I waited to hear from you, a note, or a letter. Then I waited for a telegram. For the news you were not returning to me. Then I just waited.
My family moved away. I stayed and waited for news. But it never came. Without you the world is grey, my heart is still, and day blurs into night. I feel as if I am Lot’s wife -with all the tears I have cried I shall surely turn to salt.
You never returned to me my love and so I shall come searching for you

The handwriting had deteriorated gradually throughout the note and the ink was smudged, tears had stained the words. I had placed it on a ledge of a rocky alcove last time I was down in the cavern to stop the damp ruining it too much; but now I reached out and slipped the picture into my bag as the candle light began to dim and the flame died.

About the Author:

Alison has been writing from an early age, stories, poems, novels, prose. After a 3 year sabbatical from writing she returned to her passion to write Whispers on the Wind: Ari's Story.

Her first novel, Whispers on the Wind: Ari's Story, was published in August 2012 on Hanging from the Family Tree: Tobias' Story, a companion/sequel to Whispers on the Wind, will follow soon.

And this beautiful creature is Alison, who looks busy at work:

And here's where you can do your stalking: