Tag Archives: fantasy

The Tales of Little Lady M by Diego Di Mauro (Book Review)

A far kingdom hidden beyond the boundaries of imagination. A place where fantasy never sleeps, and dreams are much more than just a mind game. In that land inhabited by magic creatures and strewn with lost secrets, a little girl will begin a journey full of adventures and learnings. Always on a quest for knowing more, she will discover friendship, courage and the wonders behind an act of kindness. And that not everything is what it seems to be… In a far kingdom that only true dreamers can reach, a little lady will rise.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Since The Tales of Little Lady M is a children’s book, and I have a child, I decided to do things a little differently. I’ve asked my 11-year-old daughter to weigh in on her thoughts of the story.

 

But first, here’s the critique of a 40+ woman.

The artwork and poetry, in The Tales of Little Lady M, can be best described as whimsical. It reminded me of Mother Goose nursery rhymes I read to my youngsters. 

In this story, everyone spoke in rhyme. Some poems like in “The Witch’s Home,” reminded me of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. You can tell Diego was inspired by Seuss and Mother Goose. Another possible inspiration was in regards to Little Lady M. She was an adventurous, kind girl who carried a purple backpack, which was magical. She also lived in a land where animals spoke to her. Hmm, does she sound like Dora the Explorer to you?!

Whether or not any or all of the above mentions were inspirations for Diego’s creation, I will say it was a cute story that taught children many lessons. Examples: It’s important to be kind to others. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t enter a stranger’s home. Helping a friend in trouble can bring much happiness to yourself. My score: 4 

 

And now for my 11-year-olds thoughts.

The story, The Tales of Little Lady M is a great book, but there is just one problem. Some of the words in the book are hard to read and pronounce. For example, on page 71, when the good witch said the beginning of the spell, it just doesn’t make sense. I don’t usually like fairy tales, but some of them I love. The book The Tales of Little Lady M  is definitely one of the fairy tales I love. The rating I give it is 4 1/2 stars. 

 

KB: After much discussion, my daughter and I agreed it scored closer to 4 than 5. Therefore, when I share this review on Amazon and Goodreads, I will mark it as a 4. Here though, it will stand at 4.5!

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score:  ❤❤❤❤1/2

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Hi, my name is Diego Di Mauro, and I was born in Catania, Italy.

As a child, I enjoyed playing outdoor games, watching cartoons, drawing and reading comics. I soon became a huge lover of video games – and pizza – too.

At the age of 11, I entered and won a local writing contest, with an essay celebrating the bravery of the Italian armed force “Carabinieri”.
I also co-wrote the story, dialogues and lyrics for a school play.

Computer programming quickly became my main interest, and eventually my future profession. Nonetheless, I never lost my taste for writing: over the years, I’ve written a few poems and a couple of drafts for fiction stories. The last one inspired by my first trip to Poland, back in 2013.

I’ve also painted a few portraits for relatives and friends.

I lived in Italy, US and Czech Republic, before moving to England. I visited Canada, Mexico, Germany, Poland, Portugal and Luxembourg. At the age of 16, I spent a few weeks in Australia.

“The Tales of Little Lady M” is my first published author and illustrator work.

 

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Apples & Snail Trails by Russell Smeaton (Book Showcase)

Apples is a tale of a father and daughter finding themselves; Apples is a short dive into the horrors to be found in the English Countryside

In Snail Trails, Dave and the love of his life―Walter the dog―out on a walk one day discover all the snails, slugs and worms heading towards the hills. Dave and his faithful friend investigate. So begins the apocalypse…

(cover by Adrian Baldwin)

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Excerpt from Apples

The end of summer saw the beginning of the change. Fresh winds raced across the fields, scattering brown leaves as it went. Mike negotiated with Lucy’s school, allowing for a temporary home-schooling period. After a day of working outside, they would sit together to do  school work, television chattering away in the background.

As autumn crept closer, the evenings began darkening quicker, bringing with it a damp chill. Mike would get a fire going as Lucy closed the old-fashioned shutters, shutting out the world. As the wind sighed its lullabies, they felt warm and cosy inside the house.

Autumn marched on and the weather continued to turn. The wind gathered momentum, roaring down the chimney as it whipped the trees into a frenzy. The rusted aerial on the roof creaked and groaned as tiles clung on for dear life, reducing TV reception to grey static. Switching it off, they could make out the distant clanging of a neighbour’s wind chime over the howling wind. They spent the night reading and listening to the wind moan.

The next day Mike got up with the dawn. The morning was fresh and crisp with a ground mist rising to meet the pale-yellow sun. The smell of damp leaves mingled with bonfire smoke. A pheasant crowed out unseen. He walked around, assessing the damage the wind had delivered. The strawberries had escaped the ravages. The same could not be said for the dead birds that lay around the base of the old apple tree. He frowned. Counting about six, the carcasses were all withered and dried out. He picked up the birds and tossed them into the garbage before Lucy awoke, not wanting his daughter to see the strange corpses.


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Born from an egg on a mountain top, Russell has spent the past 40 something years doing stuff and things. After spending a decade travelling around the world he has now settled down in the North of England. He lives with his lovely family and a few errant cats, who know far more than they should. Luckily they’re not telling.
 
 

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Devon’s Island by SI Clarke (Book Review)

Other stories will take you to Mars. This one will take you inside the boardroom, the pub, and the bedroom with the people planning the mission.

Gurdeep is an engineer and a soldier. Georgie’s a food scientist. One is pragmatic with a tough outer shell; the other’s an optimist, a person of ideas and compassion. Together, they’re humanity’s last hope for survival.

In the span of a single afternoon, the couple find themselves in charge of planning and establishing a self-sustained colony on Mars. They have 160 slots to fill with experts from all over the world as they set about designing an all-new society with its own government, economy, and culture – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

With 1,114 days until the launch, excitement and tensions run high. Earth’s second chance hangs in the balance. Between strict genetic requirements and the dangers of the dystopian almost-present, will everyone make it to the final countdown?

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Devon’s Island is divided into three Acts; therefore, I will discuss each Act separately. 

 

Act One: This section was mainly dedicated to the recruitment of individuals who’ll be beneficial to the starting process of colonizing Mars. It was more scientific-based. SI Clarke discussed how much air, food, and water humans consume. Clarke also pointed out scientists needed to combat the issue of bone loss in space. Spoiler’s alert! It all had to do with stopping the body’s production of TSG-6. Whether you’re a science geek or not, I think you’ll like Act One.

 

Act Two: This portion of the story dealt with how many people would be needed to populate Mars. It was suggested no men would go, but that idea was promptly shut done. Instead, everyone agreed 160 people would go. (144-150 women and 10-16 men)

They would also take 25,000 genetic material. 

When you are starting a new civilization, life is essential. People die, so babies must be born to continue the preservation of the human race. How the people in charge went about ensuring it was a bit extreme. 

*no one over 36

*sexual orientation meeting

*must sign over reproductive rights

Every step the powers that be took had a purpose. Earth was becoming less habitable, so we must adapt. Goodbye Earth…Hello Mars. 

 

Act Three: And we have liftoff! It takes about a year to travel to Mars. As you would assume, space travel is no life on the beach. I’ve never been to space, but I suspect Chapter 27/Devon depicts life in a spacecraft quite accurately: overwhelming smells and lights, no privacy, always too hot or too cold. 

This portion of Devon’s Island was my favorite. I was fascinated by how much the initial crew was able to accomplish. They had bees, apple trees, and daisies. Heck, they also had coffee plants. You wait, in a few years, I bet the first Starbucks will be opening its doors. 🙂

But in all seriousness, Act Three was the darkest section of the three. Human life on Earth was in chaos. As with Act One & Two, SI Clarke touched upon real-life happenings: mass shootings, hate crimes, terrorism. Clarke was correct, “The world was getting darker by the day.”

Currently, we are working on getting the human race to Mars. However, will we get there before the world implodes, before we turn on each other, kill each other off?

After reading Devon’s Island, I DID NOT wonder if technology would allow us to create a colony on Mars and thrive there. No, I wondered if the human race will survive long enough on Earth to make the trek. Times are becoming more combustible by the hour… how long do we actually have on this planet? Days? Weeks? Years? Or how about hours?

 

And on that note…

Good job, SI Clarke! Love the story and the section titled –> It’s Science, Bitches. 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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That Night: A Nadira Holden Novel by Azaaa Davis (Book Showcase)

All Nadira Holden wants is to preserve the last of her soul and create a new life free of magic, demons, and war. 

Her involuntary bond with a succubus makes her desires impossible. The threat of this disgruntled demon possessing her urges Nadira to find the succubus’s missing body. 

Nadira’s only hope of avoiding demonic possession lies with Derek, the only demon she can tolerate without slaying. Except his hands are full trying to secure his recently-inherited title of prince. Desperate, Nadira agrees to help Derek secure his title by experimenting with the deadly magic they once generated in exchange for his aid in her investigation. 

To untangle herself from the evil that surrounds her, Nadira must be willing to betray her friends and get cozy with her enemies. She may even have to do the unthinkable: break the peace treaty that allows demons and humans to coexist. If she can’t toss aside her scruples, Nadira may not make it out of this ordeal with her soul intact. 

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Below is the first scene of That Night — book two in the Nadira Holden, Demon Hunter seres. Enjoy this sneak peek and pre-order your copy today!

Please note this writing sample is provide before the final round of professional editing.

 

 

He pressed his lips against hers. His were thin, chapped and puckered. He began moaning immediately. His head tilted from left to right and back again. His mouth opened greedily. Long, thin and forked, his serpentine tongue licked her face from lip to brow, cheek to chin. And, she allowed it.

Nadira looked away as her stomach turned. Despite the biting cold waiting for her outside, Nadira pushed away her full cup of hot green tea. Sadly, she realized she would have to find a new hangout spot or accept the fact that demons were now sought after as lovers to teenage bookworms. And with those two unfortunate choices, Nadira stood from her cushioned lounge chair, stretched, then began walking out of Great Escape—her favorite bookstore—with her coat in one hand and a small, hardcover novel titled A Little Princess in the other.

“Miss, miss!” Nadira heard someone shout from behind her. “You forgot your phone!”

She turned and came face to face with the reason she was leaving.

“Thanks,” she mumbled as she carefully took the phone, successfully avoiding skin to skin contact.

The tall, slumped demon narrowed his eyes when he saw her discomfort. His pale skin had a blueish-green undertone that became more apparent when he clenched his jaw in annoyance. When Nadira rolled her eyes and sucked her teeth at his attitude, he swiftly grabbed her wrist and pulled her in close.

Do not kiss me.

“You’re next,” he said. Then, he licked his barely-there lips.

Nadira jerked backward and accidently bumped into the arm of someone sitting close by. From the sound of dishes clinking, the aroma, and someone hissing in pain, she knew hot coffee was spilled.

“Geez, I’m sorry!” Nadira apologized quickly.

Before she could turn around to make amends, Nadira heard someone say, “Sanford?” in a soft, timid voice. The young woman that actually enjoyed making out with the snake-tongued Sanford approached them hesitantly. “What’s … Um. What’s going on, bae?”

They all stood in a line facing each other due to the narrow aisles caused by a small room filled with oversized armchairs.

Shaking her head, Nadira tried to walk away again. She was a hammer—ready to fix problems the only way she knew how—and Nadira saw all demons as rusty, exposed nails in need of a beatdown. As riled up as she was by his cryptic attempt to threaten her, she knew a fight in a bookstore was not the way to go. She reminded herself that she was retired now and demon hunting was illegal.

The strained moment was cut by an unlikely request, “If you bump me with your beautiful butt one more time, you’re gonna hafta gimme your number.”

This man with a coffee stained shirt and a half empty cup stood. The interruption somehow broke the tension and they all relaxed their rigid stances a bit. The flirtaious man’s commanding presence reminded them that they were in a crowded bookstore and had no business causing a ruckus.

“Let’s go,” Sanford said while roughly grabbing his girlfriend’s arm.

He pushed past the rest of them, and his girlfriend mumbled apologies in his wake as she was pulled along. A minute later, they were out of sight in the cozy, cluttered bookstore. Nadira hoped they were gone.

Crink.

She felt an instant flash of pain in the palm of her hand in the same moment she heard the sound of her expensive phone’s screen cracking. Jaime is going to kill me. This made the second cell phone she would need replaced in the six weeks since she started using the minicomputers to make calls and look up “what would millennials do?”

Holding up her damaged phone, Nadira said to the guy wearing his coffee, “My number won’t do you any good today.”

She couldn’t hold back her look of utter frustration. He stood there looking at her, really looking at her, as if he could see her past and make sense of it. He nodded gravely, presumably accepting her—aggression, clumsiness, and all.

“I’ll go easy on you since you’re clearly not having a good day,” he offered.

Feigning a look of amazement, Nadira said, “That’s big of you after my blatant attempt to come on to you.”

Matching her mocking tone, he replied, “I can tell you’re clumsy as fuck.”

Nadira laughed. The sound erupted from her—loud and abrupt enough to turn a few heads. She quickly covered her mouth with her uninjured hand. Then, she dropped her hand just as quickly and allowed herself to continue laughing wholeheartedly.

“I—” She tried again when her laugher tampered off. “I think I needed that. Thanks.” She wiped tears from the corners of her eyes while smiling at him. She was intrigued now.

“What’s your name?” Nadira asked, genuinely curious about this twenty-first-century guy.

The animated face he made was filled with reluctant regret. “You’re gonna need to buy me a replacement cup of joe before this gets personal.”

“Done,” Nadira said decisively.

She swung around to face the front of the bookstore and headed for the makeshift coffee stand.

Nadira got in line to order Mr. Tall-and-Handsome whatever he wanted. She wasn’t sure if it was her hunter instincts or feminine intuition, but she knew he would follow her. In fact, she felt the exact moment he stepped in line behind her. The butterflies in her stomach fluttered and the goosebumps on her arms rose. Nadira’s full lips lifted into a satisfied grin. She was grateful he couldn’t see her face.

Stay cool.

There was only one customer ahead of them. After the young woman in front of her with pink-streaked blonde hair ordered herself a five-word, over-sugared, over-foamed, over-caramelized drink, Nadira stepped up to the register. The cashier was running a one-woman shop as she took care of both book purchases and coffee orders.

To stay relevant with all the trendy cafes springing up, the owner of Great Escape added a high-end coffee maker next to the cashier’s stand. The big, shiny piece of machinery seemed out of place in the dusty bookshop lined with shelves that overflowed with classic literature.

“Hi, sweetie. What are you having today?” the cashier asked looking a little frazzled.

Nadira took a dramatic step to the right and presented her new friend.

The cashier paused as she visually devoured the well-toned man of Chinese descent Nadira had presented.

“You willing to share this one, hon?” she asked Nadira.

With a bashful look, Tall-and-Handsome interrupted, “Caffe Americano, please.”

“Not a problem, not a problem at all,” the cashier said while leaning forward and batting her eyelashes. “And, your name for the order?”

Nadira chringed, hoping she wasn’t coming on as overtly as the cashier.

“Shaun,” he answered. The flirtatious cashier then tilted her head to make eye contact with Nadira as if to say ‘now you know too.’

While Nadira and Shaun looked at each other, the cashier continued to try her luck, “You gotta number for me, handsome?”

Nadira couldn’t help the frown that appeared as she wondered why the eager cashier didn’t care if he was her boyfriend or not.

All three of them smiled in the awkward silence that followed the cashier’s question, but Nadira was sure it was for three very different reasons. Her smile was more of a baring of teeth as she subconsciously displayed a nonverbal warning. Shaun might have been enjoying the attention of two women. It was too soon to tell what his preferences were. And the cashier—plump, curly-haired, and older than them by at least ten years—saw nothing wrong with hitting on customers while working.

“Will this cover it?” Between two fingers, Shaun held up a folded five dollar bill.

That was Nadira’s cue to play the role of sugar mama for a moment. She stepped into his personal space, swung her hips, and gently bumped him out of the way. Shaun stepped to the left with a chuckle. Nadira quickly pulled out her wallet and slammed her five dollar bill onto the counter. The cashier flinched, her come-a-little-closer look melting away.

“Aren’t you an eager one?” the older woman asked, chidingly. In a stage whisper, she added, “It’s not that attractive, you know.”

Nadira simply let her eyebrows do the talking. Her look said ‘are you serious?’ with all the sass she could muster while biting her tongue.

Perhaps sensing that the lightheartedness of the moment was over, Shaun chimed in, “I’ll take it to go.”  

Copyright © 2019 — Azaaa Davis


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A Crown in Time by Jennifer Macaire (Book Showcase)

Introducing TEMPUS U, the brand new time-slip series from Jennifer Macaire. From the far future to the distant past, A CROWN IN TIME is the perfect, action-packed read for fans of Jodi Taylor.
 
Since it was perfected in 2900, time travel has been reserved for an elite, highly trained few. However, on certain occasions, a Corrector is needed to rectify a mistake in the past.
Do your job well, and you’ll go down in history. Fail, and you will be erased from Time . . .

 

The first in an exciting new time-slip series, from the author of the action-packed Time for Alexander series, Jennifer Macaire. A CROWN IN TIME will have you on the edge of your seat from the very first page . . .
 
In the far future, a convicted criminal is given a chance at redemption. The Corrector Program at Tempus University is sending Isobel back in time, to the year 1270, to rewrite history.

Her mission? To save the crown of France.

If she follows the Corrector’s Handbook everything should run smoothly. But soon, Isobel finds herself accompanying a hot-headed young noble on his way to fight the infidel in Tunis: a battle Isobel knows is fated to be lost.

Isobel must fulfil her duty, knowing she can never return to her time, knowing one wrong move can doom the future, or doom her to be burned as a witch . . .

Praise for Jennifer Macaire’s Alexander series:
‘Fascinating . . . jam-packed with adventure and colour.’ Jodi Taylor
 

 
 
 
 
~~Excerpt ~~

 
Jean was already perched on the railing, his feet drumming excitedly on the wood, his eyes glowing. ‘Look!’ he cried, pointing toward shore. ‘The Saracens have arrived!’

In the indistinct light of dawn, I could make out a huge crowd of men and horses milling on the beach. I looked to the right. Another small army was camped on the bluff overlooking the harbour. On the left, tents were scattered across the land, and I could clearly see the glitter of light on the metal spearheads.

My head swam and I gripped the wooden railing until splinters dug into my palms. Unexpectedly, my stomach heaved, and I retched over the side of the ship.

‘Are you all right?’ Jean hopped off his perch and put his arm over my shoulders.

‘It’s just nerves.’ I wiped my mouth with a shaking hand. A shiver of fatigue washed through me, so I sat down on the deck.

‘There’s a whole shipload of sick people,’ said Jean conversationally. ‘They’ve all got swamp fever.’

‘Oh great,’ I said. ‘Malaria. That’s just what we need. I suppose King Louis is going to attack the Saracens?’

‘He’s planning to do that, yes.’ Jean’s face fell. ‘Our ship won’t be fighting, though. We’re going to retreat a way back and keep the king’s ship covered.’

‘That sounds like a sensible idea, don’t you think?’

‘The knights have been getting ready. I can hear the clanging of armour coming over the water. The sound carries well in the early morning. The horses have been kicking the sides of the ships.’

The noise of iron-shod hooves striking the wooden planks was distinct. The knights must be the first ones off. The ship crews, protected from arrows by large wooden panels, manoeuvred the ships backwards towards the beach. The ships carrying the mounted soldiers were simply hollow vessels that the horses surged out of in a tight group down two enormous gangplanks. There were thirteen of these ships, one having sunk on the way to Sardinia.

Our fleet boasted ten of another type of ship, designed for the archers with towers and shields. These, including the king’s own archers on their own special ship, would cover the cavalry’s flanks. The ships holding foot soldiers bobbed around the edges of the battle, searching for an opening to land.

The full force of the king’s army landed that afternoon and drove the Saracens out of the harbour without much trouble. The knights galloped their heavy chargers out of the bowels of the ships onto dry land, the archers rained arrows on the hillside and the foot soldiers charged gamely up the beach.

The Saracens retreated toward Carthage, their fiery horses galloping with their tails held high in the air like flowing flags.

Jean, Charles, and I cheered.
 
‘What happens next?’ asked Charles, his face pink with excitement.

‘We set up camp.’ Jean sounded morose, disappointed to have missed the action.

‘There will be other battles,’ I said, just as gloomily.

‘We’d best get our things in order if we’re leaving the ship,’ said Charles, ever practical.

I looked out over the water, toward the king’s ship floating so close to ours. All the flags waved jauntily in the hot breeze, and the king sat under his awning and waved his thin white hand at the soldiers on shore. His face was serene, joyful with the painless victory. However, it wasn’t a victory, really. The Saracens had simply wanted to see exactly what kind of an army the French king had brought. Now they knew.

 
 
 
 
Jennifer Macaire lives in France with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves cooking, eating French chocolate, growing herbs and flowering plants on her balcony, and playing golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories. 
 

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