Monday, July 22, 2013

Penumbras (Middle School Magic) -- Braden Bell

Conner, Lexa, and Melanie are back! Just when they think life is normal again, a dangerous shadow creature begins to hunt them. The trio must develop their powers in order to conquer this new peril and protect their school. Filled with action and even more magic, this book continues the exciting adventure in the Middle School Magic series. (GoodReads)

Another fun book in the series by Braden Bell. Middle school students who have already read The Kindling will enjoy this one too. As the story continues, the kids work to balance not only their newly discovered capabilities to Kindle which allows them to protect their school, but also work in time for music rehearsals and auditions for The Sound of Music. Oh, and don’t forget the budding romance that Conner and Melanie develop, despite his twin sister Lexa’s jealousy and feelings she’s no longer part of the group.

The crafting of story and development of character was much better this time around, something that adult readers will especially notice. Middle school readers will appreciate the action scenes galore, although at times I felt like we should have less action and more understanding of how the characters were feeling. About halfway through it seemed we were sitting back, watching the action from the sidelines as event after event was being thrown at us, almost as though we were watching a highlight reel from this summer’s action movies.

But no matter, my students loved The Kindling and I think they will not only love this one as well, but be anxious for more, a treat Bell promises us in the final line.

An exciting second book, worthy of being added to the library shelves.(Review copy provided by NetGalley)


Monday, July 8, 2013

Shahira & the Flying Elfs -- Anna del C. Dye

Book Giveaway Jun 29 to July 16
(See details at the end of the interview below)

I have the pleasure of welcoming author Anna del C. Dye to my blog today. Anna and I first met on a panel of self-published authors at the LTUE (Life, the Universe and Everything) conference at Utah Valley University two years ago. I was delighted with Anna’s easy-going personality and the inroads she had already made in the Indie market. I was also impressed with the life story she had to tell, so much so that I brought her to Payson Jr. High this past year to give a presentation to our Latinos in Action group, ESL and Spanish classes, a presentation I highly recommend. Both teachers and students loved it, and they loved Anna. Her books have surged in popularity among this group after meeting her and feeling of her love for both them and the written word.

Lu Ann: Anna, welcome. Can you tell my readers, what is your latest book about?

Anna: Shahira & the Flying Elfs is about giant eagles in the land of the elfs and her story. Shahira is a she-eagle and lives with her father, mother, and younger brother in the high cliffs of Eagle Mountain. Her dream is to find a stripling young eagle to mate. But mating is a ritual that happens in the sky and she can’t fly. She has told herself that one day she will be able to, but every time she tries, she falls.

Lu Ann: What inspired you to write fantasy instead of another genre?

Anna: Movies, I think. Star Wars, Start Trek, Willow, Arturian Tales, etc., and most of all The Lord of the Rings.

Lu Ann: How much of your books are planned out ahead of time, and how much of them are made up as you go?

Anna: They are all different. The Elf and the Princess was 90% planned. I sat to write the first page and tweaked it as I went. Shahira & the Flyng Elfs was 90% made up as I went. This was quite hard.

Lu Ann: So it sounds like having an outline works best for you. When it comes to Elves in fantasy, what do you consider to be some of the common elements of their race? Have you seen that completely changed or ignored in other books?

Anna: The common elements in elfs are that they live forever and know much. Also, that they are graceful, quiet, pretty, and overall much better that mankind. I have always expected elfs to be beautiful and perfect in many ways. Yet, when I read one book in the Shannara series they were ugly, in another book they were cannibals, in a third one, they were dark and delighted in killing. That set very heavily in my heart. I never picked up those books again. I consider elfs better than man and those three examples made them human or less, not better. Still, as authors we have the right to create our characters as we please…those are just not my cup of tea.

Lu Ann: It’s great that readers allow us that sort of freedom to craft our own characters. How do you pick the names for your characters?

Anna: Usually the characters come with their names to me. Seldom do I have to invent one. I have, though, and I usually pick a letter and then start saying words until one sticks with me. I usually sound the name of my characters in Spanish and I am picky about how they are pronounced. For this reason I have a table of pronunciation at the beginning of my books.

Lu Ann: I’m sure they are much more beautiful that way. Such a romantic sound to the language. Where can people go to find out more about you and your other works?

Anna: My website, and they can find my books also at Amazon: or Barnes & Noble. It was a pleasure to visit your blog today, thank you very much.

Lu Ann: Thank you for joining us, Anna. Our readers will be interested to know, they have a chance to win a PDF book of the Young Adult Novel, Shahira & the Flying Elfs. Anna will be giving one E-book to every blog that participates in the blog tour, so leave a comment if you want to be entered. 

Also, I’ll be adding my review of Anna’s book to this blog in the next few weeks. Thanks again!