Saturday, September 23, 2017
Running Press Book Publishers
Ages 8 - 12
Twelve-year-old Caleb is shorter, frailer, and more protected than most kids his age. That's because he has cystic fibrosis, a diagnosis meaning lungs that fill with mucus and a shortened lifespan. Caleb tries not to let his disorder define him, but it can be hard with an overprotective mom and a perfect big brother.
Then Caleb meets Kit—a vibrant, independent, and free girl—and his world changes instantly. Kit reads Caleb's palm and tells him they are destined to become friends. She calls birds down from the sky and turns every day into an adventure. Her magic is contagious, making Caleb question the rules and order in his life. But being Kit's friend means embracing deception and danger, and soon Caleb will have to decide if his friendship with Kit is really what's best for him—or her.
I received a copy of Caleb and Kit from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I enjoyed this sweet story of friendship and families. It tackles some really tough issues for kids: abuse/neglect, mental illness, terminal illness, divorce, etc. But it does so in a very sensitive way that opens the door for conversations between parents and children.
Caleb is suffering from cystic fibrosis and is dealing with his parents' divorce, his dad's new girlfriend with baby on the way, and his own poor health and impending death. He finds refuge in his friendship with Kit, a strange, imaginative girl who believes in fairies. Kit has her own problems: her mother is mentally ill and severely abuses and neglects Kit.
I really only have a few complaints: First is Caleb's dad, who is a self-centered, emotionally-absent father. Only at the end do we get the hint that his being a jerk may come from his fear of losing Caleb, but I only got that because I'm an adult and made those subtle connections. I doubt kids would be able to do that. He really is horrible, though I suspect some kids from divorced families might relate, though many others (including divorced dads) might take offense to his character.
Second, I am wary about blaming Kit's mother's abuse on mental illness. People with mental illness already must battle the stigma of the disease, of which there are endless variations. With proper treatment, many people with mental illnesses, including members of my own family, live stable and happy lives. Conversely, there are plenty of abusive, violent people who are perfectly "normal", for lack of a better term. I just felt the insertion of mental illness was unnecessary.
Finally, I would like to have had a little more information about what happens to Kit. She supposedly ends up with a nice elderly couple and is very happy. But that gives the false impression that kids in foster care are always safe and happy. That just isn't true. There are a lot of good foster families out there, but a lot of foster kids continue to experience abuse. Not that that is appropriate to discuss in a middle grade novel. But it just seemed too trite of an explanation.
Don't get me wrong. Caleb and Kit is a worthy read. I actually enjoyed every page and would feel comfortable handing this to my 9-year-old son to read. Unlike so many books, it does not have a tidy, happily ever after ending, but the end is satisfying. Despite my complaints, the upside to the issues presented is that parents can read this book and help their kids learn to spot signs of abuse in others, or in themselves. And maybe this story can give them the courage to do something about it.
Sexuality: Mild (kissing)
Friday, September 22, 2017
Cedric the Demonic Knight
The Cedric Series Book 1
by Valerie Willis
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Known for hunting the supernatural, no mortal man realizes Lord Cedric is one of Sorceress Morrighan’s abominations. After competing in a tournament, he is wed to a Lady of the Court, Angeline. Cedric’s senses begin to overwhelm him and he struggles to decipher his feelings; Are they a creation of his incubine bloodline or truly heartfelt emotions for the girl who has lost it all to him? He finds himself forced to choose between falling in love or continuing his suicidal quest to kill his creator. Epic battles against all manners of beasts and demons fill this story with memorable antagonists such as Morrighan and her two sisters; Romasanta the Father of Werewolves; Succubus Queen Lillith and many more. Find yourself engulfed in lores and history long forgotten from the 12th Century and beyond.
Romasanta: Father of Werewolves
The Cedric Series Book 2
Romasanta finds himself a cursed man and struggles with his internal demon, literally. All his troubles start with a stone and after that he will be losing everything he's ever loved. Faced with clinging on to what little humanity he has, he will lose it many times before reaching the end of his journey. His life's tale will take you through time to see how every lore, every moment in history tied in with wolves all come back to him. They call him the Ancient One, others simply refer to him as the Father of Werewolves, but we know him by his name, Romasanta. Many battles will be fought before he gets closer to his goals, but will he be ready to finish what was asked of him at the very beginning of his horrible fate. Will he be able to return the Eye of Gaea and free the love of his life from the laurel tree in the Black Forest?
The Cedric Series Book 3
Released Sept 1st!
With Angeline back in Cedric’s arms and the Eye of Gaea in Romasanta’s grip, the next step in their journey begins. All eyes are set on Mt. Parnassus where the Oracle is protected by Delphyne, the mother of all dragons and beasts. Assembling a group of willing patrons, Romasanta leads them to Delphi, Greece where they will cross into a realm void of technology. Only brute strength and magic reign in a place where packs of Mimick dogs, Wyverns and Jaculus still run wild. Meanwhile, back home Lillith takes on a mysterious curse cast on Tony who will have to make a life changing choice. The question weighing on all their minds is if two werewolves, the Incubus King, and a demonized sorceress will live to fight their way into Gaea’s Gate to enter the Otherworld?
Valerie Willis is a sixth generation Floridian who loves crafting novels with elements inspired by Mythology, Superstitions, Legends, Folklore, Fairy Tales and even history. She braved the Independent Publish route at the end of 2012 and has devoted herself for being a pillar of “Self-Publishing How-to” from formatting of both print and digital versions to book cover designs.
Her fantasy romance novels within The Cedric Series is a wonderful blend of genres that appeal to a wide-range of readers whether they like paranormal, fantasy, romance or action adventure. The characters are flawed in mental and emotional ways while being amazing powerful creatures, demons, witches and Gods. Many of the monsters presented in battle derive from Medieval Bestiaries and adds a fun flavor of new yet deeply rooted assortment of creatures such as Coin Iotair, Shag Foal, Cynocephali, and many more.
For Young Adult readers looking for a Dark Fantasy and coming-of-age lessons, Tattooed Angels Trilogy is an ode to her teenage life for those teenagers getting ready to step out in the world on their own. Hotan is a failed reincarnation and is becoming immortal against his will. Life is complicated and often we withdraw within ourselves, shut others out, when life becomes hard. As the story unfolds we learn the importance of opening up and asking for support in all its forms to the people in our lives even beyond friends and family. Each immortal controls amazing powers of Nature, like fire, or elements of Humanity, such as fear.
You can often find this Author hosting workshops about writing and self-publishing in the Orlando, Florida area or working on the next novel. She loves to inspire other writers and creative minds. Be sure to visit her blog for some of the advice she has to offer from a perspective that has influences from Game Development and Graphic Design.
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!
A wide-shouldered figure leapt out of the second story window and hit the boardwalk next to the ruined cart with an enormous smack. He was bare-chested, and every inch of the man’s skin was covered in a tattoo of intricate design. He held a sword in each hand, and the look on his face said he was about to use them.
“Let’s talk about this?”
Gavin heard Ardin but couldn’t see him anymore. He was running, pushing Noobit out in front of him. The Treekin’s legs moved as fast as they could, but not fast enough for Gavin. They turned several times before either of them felt comfortable enough to stop.
“I told you that guy was bad news,” Gavin said as he caught his breath, placing his hands on his knees. “He would have gotten us killed.”
“You offered him twenty blonks,” Noobit reminded him. “Now we don’t have a boat.”
Gavin nodded, but he didn’t have any ideas for their next move. They were in the middle of a nasty looking part of the city. A clearing filled the view ahead of them, most of it covered with makeshift tents and lean-tos. A wave of funky body odor clung to the air and made Gavin’s nostrils flare.
The entire encampment was the size of a football field, rounded at the edges. Patches of open space dotted the backdrop between the temporary homes. The openings centered on fires, most surrounded by people drinking and conversing. A number of songs hovered over the camp, each highlighted by an instrument or a chorus of voices.
“What is this?”
“This is where you end up if you don’t have a boat,” Noobit explained.
Gavin’s stomach soured. “You mean like us?”
Gavin took one more look around. “Oh, heck no,” he announced. “We have to get out of here.”
“And go where?” Noobit asked.
“I don’t know, but we can’t stay—”
He refused to stay a minute longer in that dreadful place, but a familiar sight froze his tongue in his mouth. A group of figures covered in ratty cloaks stalked across the open ground, their hoods pulled tight around their heads. The troop worked its way between the makeshift tents, heading directly toward Gavin. His mind pulled back to the attack on the streets of Tarravale.
“We’re in trouble.”
Noobit sighed. “Tell me something I don’t know.”
About the Author
Michael W. Garza often finds himself wondering where his inspiration will come from next and in what form his imagination will bring it to life. The outcomes regularly surprise him and it’s always his ambition to amaze those curious enough to follow him and take in those results. He hopes everyone will find something that frightens, surprises, or simply astonishes them.
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