Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone by Darlene Foster #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog #MG #mystery

Amanda is delighted to show Leah aaround Alberta during her visit from England. They take in the Calgary Stampede, go on a cattle drive, visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, spend time with the dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and explore the crazy Hoodoos.When Amanda finds a stone with a unique mark on it, she doesn’t think it’s important until everyone seems to want it – including a very ornery cowboy. Is this stone worth ruining Leah’s holiday and placing them both in danger? Spend time with Amanda as she explores her own country while attempting to decipher the mysterious writing on the stone and keep it from those determined to take it from her. 

This is my first time ‘meeting’ Amanda and while there are several books in the series, I chose this one because I traveled to Calgary earlier this year and visited some of the places mentioned in the description.

What a delightful story!  Amanda is excited to spend time with her friend, Leah, and show her around during her holiday with Amanda’s family.  I really enjoyed ‘re-visiting’ some of these places with them, while also learning new facts.  Being a dinosaur nerd (I love that great aunt Mary is a paleontologist), I wish we’d been able to visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum and see the World’s Biggest Dinosaur – maybe on our next visit.

Amanda is intelligent, feisty, and adventure-loving, and her inquisitive nature soon draws the girls into a mystery which results in some perilous situations.  They run into some pretty unsavory characters while trying to learn more about the markings on the stone.

The author does a wonderful job of blending educational facts with a mystery and adventure that will thrill young (and older!) readers.  These are quick reads I’d highly recommend, and I look forward to traveling with Amanda to more destinations.

#BadMoonRising: Saving Hascal’s Horrors by Laura Smith #ghosts #supernatural #middlegrade

Hanging out in a haunted graveyard or spending the night in a haunted house?  This author has no problem with either – she’s done both.  And if the Ghostbusters need a new recruit?  She’s ready – already has the proton pack.  Welcome Laura Smith!

Would you rather walk through a haunted graveyard at midnight or spend the night in a haunted, abandoned house?

I’ve actually walked through a haunted graveyard at midnight, and it didn’t really phase me. Cemeteries are pretty peaceful places at any time of day, and as long as your intentions are innocent, nothing should bother you.

I’ve also spent the night in old, eerie houses and even once slept over in a church as a kid which was pretty creepy, but as a horror fan, it’s also exciting. It’s everyday life that scares me, and having other people around me who are afraid of the paranormal always makes me feel braver not only to face a potentially scary situation but also to come out of my shell in response to that adrenaline rush that you get from being scared.

Would you rather spend a night in The Overlook Hotel with Jack Torrance or be in the high school gym during prom with Carrie?

While I’d love to experience the isolation of staying in a hotel during a blizzard, I’d be more in my element around Carrie. I feel like she would leave me alone, and I’d either be able to stop her from getting drenched in pig’s blood or at least get out of there before she freaks out. Also, Carrie is my favorite Stephen King book so that alone gets my vote.

Would you rather be part of the X-Files team or Ghostbusters?

Definitely the Ghostbusters. I watched both movies religiously as a kid, and my brother, sisters, and I had toy proton packs that we would use to play Ghostbusters while the cartoon played in the background. So, I feel like I’m really practiced in the art of busting ghosts. I’ve also never seen an episode of the X-Files. So, it was an easy choice.

What is your favorite cover of all your books?  Why?

Saving Hascal’s Horrors is easily my favorite cover. I drew the image myself and chose the font. It’s not perfect, but it’s personal, and each silhouette perfectly represents each of the main characters in the story.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to read, watch movies, draw, exercise, garden, watch YouTube videos, shop, and spend time with my family. I’m never bored. There are always projects or activities in progress in or around my house, and this year, I’ve taken on so many writing gigs, including starting my own blog, that there’s always writing to do. If I could freeze time or add more waking hours to my day, I would, but I always finish what I start.

What are you working on now?

In terms of novels, I’m working on a trilogy about a little girl who gets super powers after losing her eyesight in one eye in a freak accident. The series has a strong anti-bullying message. Each character is bullied for a different reason, and it’s populated with my most diverse cast yet. Two books in the series are finished. The first is in the process of being submitted to agents and publishers, the second is in the editing process, and the third is still being written. I’m determined to get this series traditionally published, even if it’s just by a small, independent press, but I’m still proud to be called an indie author.

Ten-year-old Mike Hascal loves horror movies. His family owns a horror-themed shop that his sister, Julie, inherited from their dad who died when Mike was only two. Before his death, the shop held a contest to see who could find and photograph a real live ghost. Two teenage boys went into some nearby woods looking to win this contest. One of the boys, Shawn Mackey, never made it out of the woods. Shawn’s father, a teacher at Mike’s school, then forced the Hascal family to close their shop to the public.

When Mike finds out about this, he and his friends, along with his new friend and horror movie lover, Freddy Nickerman, spend the summer planning a search for Shawn’s body in the now forbidden woods. Will Mike and his friends make it out and save the shop, or will the ghost of Shawn Mackey keep them from leaving too?

Purchase Links

Amazon

Bio

Laura Smith is an author, blogger, and freelance writer from Pittsburgh, PA. She has self-published three middle grade books, writes book reviews for LitPick, reviews movies for HorrorScreams VideoVault, and blogs for HubPages and her own personal blog. She is a life long horror fan, and her love of the genre led her to write her second novel, Saving Hascal’s Horrors, which is an homage to both the kid-friendly and adult horror books and movies that she devoured growing up. When she’s not writing, she’s usually watching movies, drawing, gardening, shopping, and spending time with her family.

Social Media

Blog: https://laurasbooksandblogs.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/laurasmithauthor
Twitter: @lsmith335
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/lsmith335
Instagram: www.instagram.com/laurasbooksandblogs

Indie Author Friday: Janice Spina #IndieAuthor #ChildrensBooks #YA #middlegrade

Happy Friday!  Today’s indie author has penned books for all age ranges – children’s, middle grade, young adult, adult – take your pick.  Oh – and don’t even think about challenging her to a hula hoop duel.  Welcome, Janice Spina!

TITLES:

 PS-Grade 3 (ages 0-8):
Louey the Lazy Elephant
Ricky the Rambunctious Raccoon
Jerry the Crabby Crayfish
Lamby the Lonely Lamb
Jesse the Precocious Polar Bear
Broose the Moose on the Loose
Sebastian Meets Marvin the Monkey
Colby the Courageous Cat
Two more children’s books coming in 2018

Middle-Grade: Grades 4–7 (ages 9-12):

Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Book 1 (The Case of the Missing Cell Phone)
Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Book 2 (The Case of the Mysterious Black Cat)
Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Book 3 (The Case of the Magical Ivory Elephant)
Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Book 4 (The Case of the Brown Scraggly Dog)
Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Book 5 (The Case of the Sad Mischievous Ghost)
A new mystery series for girls coming in 2018 with two of the character from Davey & Derek Book 5 (Abby & Holly).

Young Adult: Grades 8-12 (ages 13+):

YA fantasy book 1 coming in 2018 (series)

Novels: Ages 18+:

Hunting Mariah (thriller/mystery/crime)
How Far Is Heaven (paranormal/mystery/romance)
An Angel Among Us (Short Story Collection)
A new edition of Hunting Mariah in 2017
A sequel to Hunting Mariah coming in 2017

What are your favorite books in your genre?

I write in different genres for all ages and enjoy them all. I found my niche with the Middle-Grade/Preteen/YA group when I began my Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series. It was my aha moment!

When I write any book I begin with a title and the story flows from there. I have changed titles occasionally when the story takes a different turn. Book 1 of Davey & Derek, The Case of the Missing Cell Phone, came to me after hearing about a cell phone that was stolen from a student at school. Of course, my story is purely from my imagination.

Writing these books has been a joy to me. They make me feel like a kid again. I plan to keep writing more.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would that be?

The one thing I would have told myself would have been – believe in yourself. Don’t let anyone discourage you from your dream. Do what you love to do and follow your heart.

I began writing at the age of nine with poetry and greeting cards. Stories came later for my children. My first fairy tale has yet to be published. I was first published in 2008 when one of my poems appeared in a local newspaper. My first children’s book was published in 2013, after I retired from an administrative secretarial school position, followed by 16 more books up to this time. I wish I had done all this sooner. I am not wasting another minute and plan to have 40+ books before I leave this world.

What do you love most about the writing process?

I love when ideas begin to form when a title pops into my head. As I hold my fingers above the keys of my laptop I can feel the energy flowing from my mind onto the keys as my fingers fly across them. It is an incredibly euphoric feeling! I feel alive!

I love the way the story and characters come to life. I am a pantser and write as the ideas come to me. I never know what is going to happen next, not even how the story is going to end. I do, at times, have to rein in the characters and move them in the direction I want them to go. I do take notes and list all the characters and their traits to keep them straight. For children’s books and MG this works well but for novels I need to take more control since they are longer. All I know is I love writing and will continue to create more stories for as long as I physically can.

What’s your favorite kind of cookie and why?

I love macaroons! Just saying the name makes my mouth water! I love all kinds of nuts, almond being my favorite. The smell, the taste and the crunch are wonderful!  I don’t eat cookies now because of my dietary restrictions but I can still eat almonds.

Any unusual talents or hobbies?

When I was a child I remember getting a hula hoop. I practiced daily and could keep it going for long periods of time much to the chagrin of my friends who struggled with it. In my twenties and thirties, I won some contests at local dances and on cruises being the longest standing hula hooper on the floor. To this day, at 69 years young I can still hula hoop and keep it going for as long as I want until I want to stop.

Book you would want with you on a desert island?

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne is the book I would choose. This book inspired me to write numerous poems and some of my early children’s stories. When I need inspiration, I peruse its pages from time to time. It’s a small book packed with ideas and knowledge if the reader reads between the lines.

As the book description states: The Secret contains wisdom from modern-day teachers—men and women who have used it to achieve health, wealth, and happiness. By applying the knowledge of The Secret, they bring to light compelling stories of eradicating disease, acquiring massive wealth, overcoming obstacles, and achieving what many would regard as impossible.

I think anyone who reads this book obtains a different perspective. I found my creativeness peaked and flowed freely without much effort.

Thank you, Teri, for the kind invitation to guest on your blog. It was a pleasure to answer your eclectic and intriguing questions and share a little bit about myself with you and your readers.

Author Bio

Janice Spina aka J.E. Spina is an award-winning author with seventeen published books. She has been writing since the age of nine. Janice always dreamed of being an author but did not realize this dream until after she retired from an administrative position in a school system. She is also a copy editor, blogger, book reviewer and supporter of fellow authors.

In 2013 she published her first children’s book, Louey the Lazy Elephant, (which is one of her most popular books today), along with another children’s book, followed by three more children’s books and one novel in 2014, two children’s books, and two middle-grade/preteen detective books 1 & 2 in 2015 and one novel, a children’s book, and Book 3 and 4 of her MG/PT series in 2016. In 2017 at this writing she has published a short story collection, Book 5 of her MG/PT series and a children’s book.

Her goal is to write for all ages and encourage children to read which will cultivate a love of reading and carry them through their lives. Janice’s books range from PS-Grade 3 to 18+. Janice’s motto is Reading Can Give You Wings to Fly. Her logo is Jemsbooks – Books for all ages.

Janice plans to write more children’s books, middle-grade, young adult fantasy and novels over the next two years. As the author says, “There is always another story running around in my head just waiting to be written down.”

Janice’s hobbies are crocheting, exercising (walking, hula hooping to keep in shape), and reading, reviewing books, blogging, traveling, going out to the movies and dinner with her husband, and spending time with her five grandchildren who are her inspiration to write.

Social Media

Website:  http://www.jemsbooks.com
Blog: http://www.jemsbooks.wordpress.com
 FB Children’s books: http://facebook.com/janicespina7
FB Main Page: http://facebook.com/janice.spina.9
FB Novelist Page: http://facebook.com/jespina77
GOOGLE: https://plus.google.com/102370955158139843400/about
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/janice-spina/59/321/a01/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/janice_spina
Pinterest: http://Pinterest.com/janicespina
Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/user/show/17094469-janice-spina

Buy Links

Amazon Author Page:  http://amazon.com/author/janicespina7

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Janice+Spina

Novel Hunting Mariah: http://www.amazon.com/Hunting-Mariah-J-E-Spina/dp/0692317171/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414007473&sr=1-1&keywords=Hunting+Mariah

Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Janice-Spina/e/B00HNET4HG/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1499977596&sr=1-2-ent

 Davey & Derek Series page:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries/B073W2MTFC

 Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/janice-spina?store=book&keyword=janice+spina

Barnes & Noble: Children’s Books – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Janice+Spina?_requestid=705563

Barnes & Noble: Novels –

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/J.E.+Spina?_requestid=706857

far far away – by Tom McNeal

It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn’t even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he’s able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it’s been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn’t been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the voice of the ghost of16030663 Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, The Brothers Grimm. Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings. . .

Young adult veteran Tom McNeal (one half of the writing duo known as Laura & Tom McNeal) has crafted a novel at once warmhearted, compulsively readable, and altogether thrilling–and McNeal fans of their tautly told stories will not be disappointed. – Goodreads.com

This was probably not a book I’d normally read, but with all the remakes of fairy tales these days in TV and movies, I thought, “Why not try it?”  Plus, there was a ghost.  It was unlike anything I’ve ever read, and I’m glad I took a chance on this book.

The plot was well-paced and took me in unexpected directions.  As with fairy tales, especially Grimm, there were some very dark moments, but it was also a wonderful tale of adventure, fantasy, mystery, a little romance and comedy.

The characters were odd, quirky, imperfect, and hilarious.  I laughed out loud more than once and although ambivalent at first, I quickly added Ginger Boultinghouse to my list of favorite characters.  She was straightforward, sometimes inappropriate, mischievous, and although misguided at times, attempts to do the right thing.  The relationship between Jeremy and Jacob was heartwarming.  Jacob came at a time when Jeremy very much needed someone in his life and although a ghost, Jacob acted as both a friend and paternal figure.

This was an entertaining read and I would highly recommend it to 10+ age middle grade and adults who love fairy tales.

This review was based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.