Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Drago Tree – Book Review

Book: The Drago Tree
Author: Isobel Blackthorn
Publisher: Odyssey Books

Synopsis:
Haunted by demons past and present, geologist Ann Salter seeks sanctuary on the exotic island of Lanzarote. There she meets charismatic author Richard Parry and indigenous potter Domingo, and together they explore the island.
Ann’s encounters with the island’s hidden treasures becomes a journey deep inside herself as she struggles to understand who she was, who she is, and who she wants to be.
Set against a panoramic backdrop of dramatic island landscapes and Spanish colonial history, The Drago Tree is an intriguing tale of betrayal, conquest and love, in all its forms.

Book Review

A little overdue but finally here. The Drago Tree by Isobel Blackthorn is a story of self-discovery and understanding oneself and life. The story is mainly about Ann, along with two other characters, Domingo and Richard, who teach her different things about herself and life.

Ann runs away from an abusive husband and travels to the exotic island of Lanzarote, a Spanish-speaking island off the coast of Morocco. Personally, I had never heard of it but having read this book, I fell in love with it.

The Drago Tree is a beautiful example of travel literature, as Blackthorn gives the reader exquisite detail about the setting and the country.

"For Ann, names were important. A change of name wasn't just about change of ownership; it involved change of identity. Even married to Andrew, she'd held onto Salter."

When Ann arrives on the island, she begins by writing a single sentence and is quite critical of herself. She meets the handsome author Richard, who gives her harsh criticism, but also introduces her to the local potter-maker Domingo.

Ann then begins to write regularly, but the story takes up after many of her experiences and her family problems, particularly those of her sister and failed marriage – both of whom we are introduced to in the form of flashbacks.

"Too many times she'd been shut in this courtroom of a marriage, forced by her own sense of injustice to defend her position to an irascible judge."

Some of the flashbacks were a bit confusing for me, especially when they were in a new chapter. Both Ann and Richard have flashbacks.

The Drago Tree is full of stunning imagery, quotes, lines and setting. The pace is very slow; however, the book is an experience in of itself.

The overall description, whether for characters, emotions or setting, was done very well. If Blackthorn ever decides to give writing courses, I'll be the first to sign up. The narrative is simply brilliant.

"He was a bulldozer of a man, with a deep gravelly voice. He had bushy eyebrows, flaring nostrils, and a coat hanger of a moustache."

I particularly liked the idea of Ann writing, first a sentence, then later a book. The writing process is a kind of catharsis for her – and many writers can relate to that. It was interesting for me to see how her views of her writing and of Richard develop in the course of the novel.

"While her writing allowed for a certain outpouring of emotion, the narrative was about as therapeutic as a knife twisting in her guts…May be she needed to change the characters' names, make them less like their real life counterparts."

Character development is significant for the main character Ann. I liked Domingo, whom Richard sees merely a source of information and history to help with his book, but who is truly a wiser person than Richard, with his colonialist views, is.

"Before long she was a faucet turned on full, words blasting out of her, tumbling so fast her pen could scarcely keep apace."

Overall rating: 4 stars




Note: I received a free copy of The Drago Tree from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Takhayyal #writingprompt 52: Power

Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen, Artists, Poets, Writers, Authors, Dreamers, Friends and Family; Welcome EVERYONE to Nadaness In Motion's bi-weekly picture-prompt writing challenge Takhayyal.

A second Merry Christmas is in order for those celebrating on the 7th of January! I hope you enjoyed the previous Christmas prompt and the 50th milestone prompts. 

Now off to the last writing prompt in 2016! Nothing like a little magic and power to end one year and start a new one. Let's write, shall we?


Picture found via Pinterest. Copyright: 2016 Wizards of the Coast


Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity and explore new genres.

Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction; you name it and write it.

General rules:
·        No nudity, violence, and/or abuse.
·        Leave the link to your post in comments below OR post your piece as REPLY to this post
·        Your piece MUST be inspired in some way or other by the above picture
·        Multiple entries allowed
·        It is not required but it is a nice and encouraging gesture to comment on others' pieces.
·        Feel free to add your Twitter handle (@....) so I can tag you in my tweets!

Let's IMAGINE!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas and Supporting Women

Christmas is a time of family gatherings, love and peace.

There are of course the picture-perfect themes shown on television, advertisements and commercials. But the festive season is also known for the high cost of buying gifts, preparing costly meals and the like. While I do not celebrate Christmas, many of my friends do.

In Egypt, we do not have the whole gift buying extravaganza that we hear about in the US, UK and Europe – considering that most Christians who celebrate Christmas in Egypt celebrate it on the 7th of January, but there is the overall festive season in malls, cafes and shops.

Today, I read an article saying that domestic abuse and domestic violence nearly doubles during Christmas. And I was horrified. I realise that closed spaces, excessive drinking and of course buying gifts or clothes can lead – or mostly leads – to tension in the households.

Still, the article and the figures mentioned – and that was only in the UK – shocked me.

I had never looked at Christmas like that. I guess I had the stereotype image of families gathering around a large, ornate Christmas tree, sharing a big dinner, watching movies together and exchanging presents.

While, there isn't much I can do about it, I can try to raise awareness about the problem.

I can also help spread the word about an anthology published by Scripting Change, whose proceeds all go to a charity for domestic abuse in the US. The charity organisation is called REACH. The anthology of poetry and short stories is called "Breaking Free". More info about the charity can be found here.

So, help out women today or just reach out to your friends or family members you suspect are suffering some kind of abuse and comfort them or help ease their suffering.

Breaking Free on Smashwords allows you to set your own price, on Amazon it has a fixed price.


Merry Christmas to All

P.S. My poem in the Breaking Free anthology is called "Unchained". You can also listen to me recite it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHCHBzDW5g4 
There are two poems in the video, the first is called "Air", the second is "Unchained" and starts at 2:15 


P.S. 2: For the UK, this article provides links that help women who are suffering from domestic abuse or violence.




Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bentwhistle the Dragon by Paul Cude – Book Review

Book: Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past 
(Book I in a Trilogy)
Author: Paul Cude
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Young Adult, Sports
Publication date: 19 October 2011 

Synopsis:

Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past is an adventure story children and adults alike will love, about the present day world in which dragons disguised as humans have infiltrated the human race at almost every level, to guide and protect them.
Three young dragons in their human guises become caught up in an evil plot to steal a precious commodity, vital to the dragon community. How will the reluctant hero and his friends fare against an enemy of his race from far in the past? Fascinating insights into the dragon world are interspersed throughout the book.

Book Review by Nadaness In Motion

Bentwhistle the Dragon, A Threat from the Past by Paul Cude is the first instalment in the Bentwhistle the Dragon Series. The first chapter opens in the middle of a chase in Egypt, with an unnamed woman, whom we learn is a dragon in human form.

After that the reader gets long alternating chapters narrated in the third person for two characters: Flash and Peter. Other chapters include a number of prisoners, where the reader gets a different from view point from the characters.

The chapters with Flash are action-packed, exciting and fly by. The same cannot be said for the chapters with Peter, which are mostly mundane and boring, not to mention very slow. Some of Peter's chapters also involved sports, which I were not enjoyable for me and felt could be cut out. Others might find them fun, but I thought they were too long and not needed. At some point, I thought one of the games was going to affect the dragons in the long run, but it just turned out the dragons in human form were too tired, so I felt it was wasting time (for me).

"He knew now that his life hung in the balance, dependent on whether he could choose exactly the right window of opportunity, show one even exist."

There was a lot of unnecessary descriptions and scenes for me, again in the chapters with Peter in them. At some point, I got the impression that every writer wants to include everything they've thought of in the book, but some of it just extended the length of the novel, which is an already long one. At some point, I felt I wouldn't be able to finish the book but I wanted to get to the end, so it spurred me forward. However, there were some points where I started skimming and skipping bits just to finish.

"It was something all of his years of training had never prepared him for…fear, deep down, genuine fear, with a capital F."

There were some parts that I felt were not logic, like in the beginning with the pyramid, and later with Flash having a dislocated shoulder but miraculously undressing. There was also a significant amount of repetition in some parts that I felt could be trimmed.

The novel would have moved a lot faster if the chapters were shorter, especially since there were breaks within the same chapter to alternate scenes and character perspectives.

One of the things I truly disliked about Bentwhistle the Dragon was how the narrator addressed the reader in some parts, like saying "Something quite literally magical happened." And "I don't mean no energy to run, jump or swim. I mean he simply wanted to give up."

When emotions and events are repeated over the course of the novel, they are often repeated using the same description or terminology. There were also bits between brackets, like the author was explaining to the reader what was happening. I preferred if that were integrated in the text itself. These bits bothered me.

The problem that kept nagging at me was that Peter Bentwhistle is too ordinary. There is nothing special about him that would promote him to hero, as opposed to Flash who is likeable, practical and brave, and who has all the qualities that make him a hero.

"Risk and thrill seeking were simple part of his nature, as much as a twenty-foot tail, brown shiny scales, and teeth that a crocodile would die for, were part of his body."

On the other hand, I loved the Lavapool game. It reminded me of Quidditch from the Harry Potter series, only played by dragons. I would have preferred I was given an idea how it was played rather falling right into it and having to figure it out for myself.

There were however many interesting images and similes.

"Richie, normally cooler than a cucumber in a Siberian fridge, flinched just a little uncomfortably in her seat."

"Huge icebergs the size of houses littered the landscape like popcorn on a cinema floor."

I have no idea how the cover relates to the novel. There were no incidents of Native American history or events. I rarely comment on the cover, unless it's truly amazing or if it strangely does not reflect the content of the book.
I also couldn't find the threat from the past. I think the novel needed some tuning in terms of redundant parts, so as not to lose the reader, and in some cases not to bore the reader as well.

Overall rating: It took me a long time to write this review because I felt the novel didn't meet my expectations when I finally finished it. On closer inspection of my notes and while rereading bits for the review, I think a fair overall rating would be: 2 stars.

Note: I got a request from the author for an honest review.

The book is free via Smashwords here.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Tales of the Rose Rabbit – Poetry Book Review


Tales of the Rose Rabbit by Kirsten Weiss is a companion chapbook of poetry and poetic prose for the Witches of Doyle cozy mystery series.

Featuring a variety of poetic styles, the book contains shape poetry, rhymed-poetry, some with quatrains, stanzas and others as a single block, but all highly enjoyable pieces.

The themes are often dark, sometimes with a bit hope at the end. The main ones are war, darkness, hope and fantasy.

The pieces in the Tales of the Rose Rabbit have to be read in the order in which they've been assembled, since I felt that some poems build on their predecessors.

The reader is told that the narrator of the collection, Lenore Bonheim, is a fictional poet and witch from the Doyle Witch cozy mystery series.

The book opens with a prose piece, followed a brilliant poem titled "Elemental Dance". What is particularly interesting about this piece is the flow of the stanzas and how each begins with the closing of the previous idea.

"They Arrive" is the five-star dark-themed poem, done in shape poetry. I wish I can quote it whole.

Then there is "The Queen Vanishes", a poetic prose piece with a bit of internal rhyme and wicked word choice. Another dark but magical piece.

"The Dancing Lady" is a conversation in poetic form and I absolutely loved it.

"Prisoner's Dilemma" is another five-star poem.
"I pray it is my dungeon-dimmed eyes
And not my world that has died."

Other recommended pieces from Tales of the Rose Rabbit: "The Ivory Queen and the Rose Rabbit Do Battle", "Treachery", "The Enchanted Other" and "The White Lady".

Overall, Tales of the Rose Rabbit is a musical, flowing, magical and brilliant collection. I loved it!

Add the book on Goodreads.

Note: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
Kirsten Weiss worked overseas for nearly twenty years in the fringes of the former USSR, Africa, and South-east Asia.  Her experiences abroad sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.
Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes genre-blending steampunk suspense, urban fantasy, and mystery, mixing her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.
Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking red wine. Sign up for her newsletter to get free updates on her latest work at: http://kirstenweiss.com

Check out Nadaness In Motion's book review Weiss' The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum here.

Also, check out this post by Kirsten Weiss on the main elements that differentiate a cozy mystery from a traditional mystery. The post is a collaboration between Kirsten and myself (most of the work done by Kirsten though :D). Read it here.


The book can be purchased on Amazon for 99 cents here.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Crossroads Saga by Mary Ting - Book blast & Giveaway




crossroads

Crossroads
When Claudia, a seventeen-year-old girl, mysteriously wanders through her dreams, she encounters an ethereal place where nephilims reside. There, she unexpectedly meets Michael and the group of half-human angels at the Crossroads—their home and a place she never imagined existed. However, Claudia has unknowingly changed the course of her life when fallen and demons come after her, all suspecting that she is special. It is up to Michael and the other nephilim to protect her. Claudia's once simple dreams become nightmares, when more secrets are revealed about who she really is and the true identities of the people she loves most. Will Michael and the nephilims be able to protect Claudia or will she fall prey to the fallen?

Between
As the Alkins head back to Crossroads, Claudia leads her normal life, but not for long. Having a special soul, she attracts danger. The Twelve, known as Divine Elders on Earth, are very much involved when they find out evil is lurking in the shadows and Claudia is no longer safe. As more secrets are revealed, Claudia learns about the Venators—demon hunters—on Earth.
When two opposing angelic forces come together to protect Claudia, trust becomes a big issue. Will love be enough to keep Claudia and Michael together? Who will make the ultimate sacrifice? Who will betray them all?

Beyond
Torn between the past she can't remember and a future she isn’t ready for, Claudia feels at a loss. With unanswered questions, she is certain there is more to her past than just being a Venator. Finding the missing pieces in her life won’t be easy because duty calls. When mysterious dark shadows get released, an apocalypse sets in motion.

The Venators and the Alkins must work together once again. Knowing Claudia would be the key to destroying the demons that were released, a familiar stranger appears to protect her. Who is the angel assisting her and can he unravel the mysteries of the past in order to help save the world.

Eternity
Having happily ever after is never easy when evil lurks nearby. Now that Claudia has her memories back and her life seems to have settled down, the Fallen have come out of hiding. The Fallen coming out of hiding is not a concern, there are those who want to be left alone. However, one particular one, Dantanian, is hungry for revenge. Being one of God’s first fallen angels, he is the evilest of his kind. He will do anything to get his way and he will stop at nothing to get Michael on his side. Dantanian will torture, kill for pleasure, and concoct evil schemes to get Michael’s attention; and once in his hands, he will try to destroy all the happiness Michael fought so hard to gain. The Venators and the Alkins must work together once again to save their friends. As death draws near to those captured by Dantanian, will the gang reach them in time? Or will Michael return to the dark angel he once was and destroy everyone he loves?


amazon



Author Mary Ting
Mary TingInternational Bestselling, Award-Winning, Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children's chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.



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Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 12/31/16

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Takhayyal 51: Santa, a Pirate?!

Welcome back Ladies and Gentlemen, Artists, Poets, Writers, Authors, Dreamers, Friends and Family; Welcome EVERYONE to Nadaness In Motion's bi-weekly picture-prompt writing challenge Takhayyal.

The holidays are almost here and I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I hope you'll find some time to write a piece, no matter how short. Although I expect some funny pieces with this one or scary. Your piece, your call!

Shall we? 
 
Image found online. Author unknown.


Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity.
Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction; you name it and write it.

General rules:
·        No nudity, violence, and/or abuse.
·        Leave the link to your post in comments below OR post your piece as REPLY to this post
·        Your piece MUST be inspired in some way or other by the above picture
·        Multiple entries allowed
·        It is not required but it is a nice and encouraging gesture to comment on others' pieces.
·        Feel free to add your Twitter handle (@....) so I can tag you in my tweets!

Let's IMAGINE!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Stake Out by Lily Luchesi – Book Review


Book: Stake Out
(Paranormal Detectives Book #1)
Author: Lily Luchesi
Publisher: Vamptasy Publishing
Publishing Date: 19 May 2015

Synopsis:
Detective Danny Mancini is on a case, following a murder suspect. When he catches him, he finds out that the perp isn't even human: he's a 200 year old rogue vampire!
The department doesn't believe him, and puts him on early retirement, despite his many years of service to the Chicago Police Department, which sends him into a downward spiral.
Two years later, Danny gets an invitation from the beautiful, young and very attractive Detective Angelica Cross to join a secret branch of the FBI to help her track down Vincent, the wayward vamp.
But renegade werewolves, meddling immortal witches and Danny's strange visions of a life lived a century ago with Angelica make things more difficult than it should be.

Book Review by Nadaness In Motion


Stake Out by Lily Luchesi is the first paranormal, romance and crime novella in the Paranormal Detectives series.

Easily read in one sitting, the book is fast-paced, action-packed and highly enjoyable.

It opens with detective Daniel – Danny - Mancini surviving an encounter with a man named Vincent, whom we learn is a 200-year old vampire. After submitting his report of the incident, Danny is forced into an early retirement. Two years later, he is approached by a beautiful young-looking woman, claiming she is from a lesser known FBI division called the Paranormal Investigative Division (PID).

The woman, Angelica, tells Daniel that what he had seen two years prior was true and that the PID is responsible for weeding out dangerous paranormal creatures, like Vincent. Danny struggles to come to terms with these revelations, but accepts to help Angelica catch the rogue vampire. The two slowly become attracted to one another, igniting a bit of a romance, which has deeper roots than the reader expects.

Stake Out is fairly gritty but nonetheless exciting with likable characters. I liked how the reader got the viewpoints and flashbacks of various characters throughout the book.

"He also knew that Angelica would personally kill him if he did anything to compromise the investigation. Her body might be 24, but her mind was older and more cunning than even Gandalf!"

The use of songs at the beginning of each chapter gave the novella a gothic feel. I liked it.

Character development is done well for both Mancini and Angelica, especially as both of them have a history and begin to create a new history together. There is enough character development to show that Angelica isn't rash, while at the same time leaving some space for further development in the coming books.

I liked how Luchesi was to the point in the novella, while also keeping the reader on edge by feeding us bits and pieces of history about Angelica, Vincent and even Danny and the PID. I also liked how she had me guessing at events, many of which proved true and others I had to wait for the revelation.

I also liked how Stake Out has a closed and open ending at the same time, prompting the reader to want to know what happens in later books.

Overall, Stake Out kept me glued to the Kindle screen till I finished it.

Overall rating: 5 stars. I definitely would love to pick up the next books in the series.

Note: I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Felicity and the Fire Stoppers by Loralee Evans - Spotlight & Giveaway

felicity-and-the-fire-stoppers
Felicity and the Fire Stoppers by Loralee Evans


Felicity is no stranger to adventure, and not much surprises the little sparrow any more. Even if it’s a visit from an old enemy!

But when she sees something that looks suspiciously like…smoke in the mountains near her home, Felicity realizes that she’ll need to use all her smarts and courage to help her friends.
Especially when a group of fire fighters, or as the animals in the Wildwood say, fire stoppers, needs her help!



amazon

Praise for the Book:
“This new adventure is both novel and exciting with language, dialogue and plotline very well arranged and pitched, in my opinion, for the target audience of children 6 to 10 years.” –PFID, Amazon Reviewer
“Reading this story was a real treat. I loved the simplicity of the writing and will certainly read this story to my children.” Sheena Perry, Amazon Reviewer
"Felicity’s bird's-eye view of the world is fun, charming, and traverses the magic of human and nature alike…” D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
add to goodreads
Author Loralee Evans

Loralee
Some of Loralee Evans' earliest memories are of sitting with her mom or dad while they read her stories like The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, or Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. These memories, along with many great teachers who got her excited about reading are what helped her develop a love of books, and of writing. She has lived in Missouri, Texas, and Utah, and even spent a year and a half in Japan! Some of her favorite authors are James Dashner, C.S. Lewis, Heather B. Moore, and J.R.R. Tolkien. Felicity and the Fire Stoppers is her sixth book.



Blast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Code or Paypal Cash


Enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 1/1/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway