Sunday, 23 November 2014

Book Review -- The Leopard Stratagem by T.A. Uner

The Leopard Stratagem (Leopard King Saga, #2)The Leopard Stratagem by T.A. Uner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was provided with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest revew.

The Leopard Stratagem is the second book in the Leopard King saga by TA Uner. This volume takes us further through the tale of Tullus, the Leopard King who has successfully conquered Scorpio. Tullus needs some time for emotional recuperation to overcome the grief of losing his beloved, owing to which he heads off to Elemence, whose master is Hradack. The latter's wisdom proves enlightening for Tullus as he braces himself for battling a fresh onslaught of enemies, who are all eager to overthrow him and Celestra.

I loved the first volume in this saga and the second one proves even better. The characterisation of the protagonist, Tullus, particularly has been handled remarkably well. Tullus has evolved mentally as a much better person, ruler and fighter and it shows through. The negative characters are also etched well - be it the hideos Serpentus or the vicious Scorpio in the first volume, the author had highlghted the venom in the characters pretty well, making them loathsome, exactly as how they should be. The pace of the book is easy and smooth. Given the fact that this book deals with a number of characters and turning points, pace was an important element to ensure the reader doesn't feel dazed, and it has been done just right.

I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of paranormal adventure and action, but I suggest that readers read The Leopard Vanguard first before picking this up, in order to truly relish the characterisation of the protagonist.

My Rating for this Book: 4.5 Stars

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Author Spotlight -- Linda Dawley

Magic Happens -- Guest Post by Linda Dawley

Excerpts from Wee Mac and Tooth Fairy by Linda Dawley

Reviews for Wee Mac and Tooth Fairy by Linda Dawley

Linda Dawley, born and raised in Canada, married a Kiwi and moved to New Zealand, via Australia. In New Zealand they continued the trend of shifting house at least once a year and Linda decided she needed a profession that could shift along with her. She turned to a long held desire to write and studied 'Applied Writing' with Northland Polytechnic. New Zealand's Learning Media School Journal, and the Australian School Magazine, are home to her first children's short stories. The Tooth Fairy's Mistake is her debut children's novel, and her second novel, Wee Mac, was released in 2014. She is completing work on the next two novels in the Tooth Fairy series.


Interview with Author Linda Dawley

How does a typical book get written in your world - what do you start with?
There is no typical way to write a book in my world. Sometimes I start with and idea, or a sentence that I like or even an incident that has happened that seems like it would make a good story. Then I work at it until it all unfolds. Usually the easiest part is starting.

How would you compare the protagonists of your books with yourself?
I suppose authors consciously or unconsciously write ourselves into the books at some point. I don't think it is confined to just the protagonist, bits and pieces come out in all the characters. I would like to be as courageous as some of my characters--I don't think I am.

How would you typically choose the names of your characters?
I try to find a name that fits the character of course, and that isn't always easy. Sometimes while writing, one character will call another by name--and it works. I often look at lists of names and see if any would fit my character, I try to have them all work together and not be too similar so I, or readers, have trouble keeping them straight.

What's that one Classic work that you wish had been written by you? #

That is a hard question--there are so many. The one that first comes to mind is Victor Hugo's, Jean Val Jean, a story of love, friendship, courage and compassion. I read it when in grade school and have always remembered it.
How would you deal with reviews?

I have appreciated the time and trouble readers take to comment on my work and am grateful to say that they have all been positive so far.
One of the greatest gifts I have been given was by a mother who told me her son, who doesn't like to read, everyday after school read The Tooth Fairy's Mistake, until he finished the book.
I was also recently told of a young lady, an avid reader, who has a pile of her favorite books by her bed: The Tooth Fairy's Mistake and Wee Mac are both residing with Roald Dahl and various other notable authors.

What's your favourite writing location?

I love writing and the beauty of being a writer, you can write anywhere. A pen and paper are the only tools you need and they can be with me at all times--and are. Mostly I write in my office at my desk. I love my office and have a collection of my favorite pictures, books and other items with me all the time.

What awesome books and projects are you working in at the moment?
I am excited about the Molly's further adventures in fairyland, and this time we learn more about Eddie the Elf and their friendship. The Tooth Fairy's Assistant is complete and almost ready to go to press--I anticipate it will be available early in the new year.
I have just about finished writing the third book in the series and I anticipate publication in the first half of 2015.

Guest Post by Author Linda Dawley

MAGIC HAPPENS, and for me the magic lasted an hour one day last week. It was in the form of a chat, via Skype, with a group of third grade pupils in the US state of Oregon.

The class is reading my book, The Tooth Fairy's Mistake, a chapter a day. They invited me to talk with them about it, and writing in general.

I was thrilled to be asked, and a little nervous to do so.

The teacher sent me a link to the blogs the children had created and reading through them, I realised they are far beyond my computer skill set. I was impressed with their poetry, writing proficiency, and the interest they have in the world around them.

The teacher had posted questions about New Zealand for the students to answer: What time will it be in New Zealand when we speak with Ms Dawley? What is the capital of New Zealand? Do hobbits really live in New Zealand?

The Skype phone rang and when I answered it I saw a beautiful young lady, with fairy wings, sitting beside her teacher. My heart melted.

I was delighted that the entire class was so enthusiastic about my story. They all joined in the fun of wearing fairy wings to ask their questions. Brilliant.

I was so impressed with their polite manner. The children alternated sitting in front of the camera to speak with me. When their question was answered each person concluded with 'thank you' and invited the next student to the question chair.

They were so curious: When did you first start writing? Do you believe in Fairies? What is your favourite book? What do you like to do when you don't write? What do you like best about being a writer? What food is different in New Zealand? How does the book end?

Some of the questions were easy. I definitely believe in fairies. When I'm not writing, I like nothing better than curling up with a good book. There are two best things about being a writer for me; the dress code and the work schedule, (I can wear my nightie and work whenever I want to). Foods that are different, they don't have kumera or chokos in Oregon. I found it impossible to answer the question about my favourite book—that's like asking Mum and Dad which child do you like best? I couldn't spoil the surprise and tell the ending of the book.

At the end of the interview, the teacher explained that for each chapter read the children picked a favourite scene and created a picture to depict it. They showed me their pictures—I loved them.

I was grateful for the opportunity to speak with these children. I learned more about my writing process and how my book has touched their lives and imagination. The children learned a bit about writing, and some differences and similarities between the United States and New Zealand.

The Internet has changed lives in so many ways—this is one of the most positive aspects of connecting in cyberspace. Magic happens.

Spotlight -- Sara Wager

Sara Wager is a popular and talented astrophotographer. Her brilliant work is on display here -

Here is Sara's brand new calendar, Beauty in Space.

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The Age of Amy: Channel 63 by Bruce Edwards

Title: The Age of Amy: Channel ‘63
Author: Bruce Edwards
Genre: Young Adult
What if you could tune your TV to the year 1963, and watch—live? A new theme park attraction allows visitors to not only observe, but talk with the people of that turbulent decade. For 16-year-old Amy, it’s the perfect escape from her own time, and the hardships of teenage life in the 21st century.
Things get complicated when Amy falls for a teenage boy in the 60s. Trying to build a relationship across time proves maddening, especially when computers bleep any language that might impact the future. Happily, Amy acquires a "magic clicker" which defeats this annoying restriction. But gaining the ability to speak freely comes with a heavy responsibility: Amy now has the power to alter history!
She struggles to be mindful of her speech, but finds the temptation to reverse the mistakes of the past irresistible. It is November, 1963 on the other side of the TV screen, and President Kennedy is about to be assassinated. Knowing the details of that tragic event, Amy hatches a dangerous plot to save the 35th president, unaware of the deadly consequences facing her long-ago friend, who must carry it out.


"I quit!” I shouted, my shrill voice echoing through the courtroom. “I resign from this family!”
   “Please take your seat, Amy,” said Judge Higgins. “Your theatrics have been noted, but you are in Family Court, not an episode of Law & Order.”
   The judge shuffled a pile of legal documents on his tall desk, then set aside the one that prompted the hearing in the first place: Petition for Declaration of Emancipation of a Minor. State law permits minor children, with unresolved parental issues, to leave home and live with someone else. I had filed the papers on my own, with no help from anyone.
   What they basically said was that I wanted to be free to live on my own; to be liberated from playing the dutiful daughter; to be released from the grip of my controlling parents. In simpler terms: I wanted a divorce from my family.
   It was a bold move to make, especially for a sixteen-year-old.
   The August sun shined through the tall windows onto an empty jury box. On this day, no testimony would be given from the witness stand. There were no lawyers, no court reporters, nor spectators in the gallery. The judge didn’t even have a gavel.
   My mom and dad sat at a long table normally reserved for high-powered attorneys. I sat at the same table, a few empty chairs down from them. After all, they were the bad guys, not me.
   “As to why you are all here,” said the judge, “I have called this hearing to see if this issue can’t be resolved before proceeding further.”
   My dad raised his hand and rose to his feet. “What’s the point?” he said. “We are all in agreement in this matter.”
   “Absolutely,” added my mother. “Amy wants to move out, and I for one don’t plan to stand in her way.”
   “I understand that,” said Judge Higgins, “but before I can issue a ruling, the laws of this state and the Department of Social Services mandate that the court shall first attempt to mitigate the situation, in accordance with Family Code Regulations.”
   Legal mumbo jumbo! The “situation” was clear. I no longer wanted to share my life with my parents, and they made no bones about not wanting me around.

Award-winning author Bruce Edwards is a former Hollywood film animator, and brings the whimsy of a character artist to his stories. A music major in college, he is also an accomplished musician and composer. His other creative endeavors include a stint as a puppeteer and performing magic at Disneyland. Bruce's thought-provoking books for young adults are never short on fun, fantasy, and imagination.



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