Sunday, December 30, 2012

Seth's review of Shadows by Michael Duncan


Synopsis:
A stolen text...When the Book of Aleth is stolen, Aaron, captain of the Royal Guard, is ordered by Emperor Therion to reclaim the ancient tome. The mission thrusts Aaron into a world he's never known--a world of elves and dwarves, races long thought extinct; a world where everything he has known and believed is a lie. A secret past... Forced to challenge his long-held beliefs, Aaron and his companions, two soldiers of the Royal Guard and two men of the Dwarvish kingdom of Brekken-Dahl, set out on a quest to recover the Book. Aaron resolves to discover the truth, and rescue the empire he is sworn to protect.

Seth's Thoughts:

Shadows started out fairly stereotypical to anyone who has ever read a medieval fantasy book. It did not get much better from there. I'm not saying it was a bad book. I'm not saying it was good. The characters were strongly written. There wasn't any lagging in the story. It flowed fairly nicely. I just felt underwhelmed by it as I felt I have read it half a dozen times in the past already. 

Seth gives Shadows: 3/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://www.michael-duncan.net/index.html
Twitter: https://twitter.com/luvtogolf1
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/97941.Michael_Duncan

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Neither Seth nor I were compensated in any way for this review.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dangerously Ever After by Dashka Slater


Synopsis:
Not all princesses are made of sugar and spice--some are made of funnier, fiercer stuff

Princess Amanita laughs in the face of danger. Brakeless bicycles, pet scorpions, spiky plants--that's her thing. So when quiet Prince Florian gives her roses, Amanita is unimpressed . . . until she sees their glorious thorns! Now she must have rose seeds of her own. But when huge, honking noses grow instead, what is a princess with a taste for danger to do?

For readers seeking a princess with pluck comes an independent heroine who tackles obstacles with a bouquet of sniffling noses. At once lovely and delightfully absurd, here's a story to show how elastic ideas of beauty and princesses can be.

My Thoughts:

As much as I liked Dangerously Ever After, I had a couple of problems with it. The first problem is the princess's parents. They let her do horribly reckless things that could seriously hurt her, if not kill her. One example of this is letting her collect broken glass which could seriously injure her. Another example is letting her lean out the tallest turret. If she were to fall out the turret, it would most likely kill her. My second problem with the book is that Princess Amanita is not a very good role model. I don’t know about the younger generation now, but most of my role models were characters in books. Junie B. Jones was a particular favorite role model of mine. With Princess Amanita always doing dangerous things, girls might imitate her thinking it’s cool. If they do they are likely to get hurt. I did love the illustrations in the book They were beautiful. My favorite one was Prince Florian’s castle with the roses everywhere. The story line was good. I just don’t think that it was appropriate for younger children who are easily influenced. 

I give Dangerously Ever After: 3/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://www.dashkaslater.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dashka-Slater/85310238963
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DashkaSlater
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/25018.Dashka_Slater

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Little Leah Lou and Her Pink Tu by Teasha Seitz


Synopsis:
Little Leah Lou and Her Pink Tu introduces a spunky girl who figures out that disappointment needn’t be more than a passing phase and perception is the key to happiness. Like little girls everywhere, little Leah Lou is obsessed with playing princess and wears her pink tutu wherever she goes. But when she wears her tutu to the zoo, she encounters a giraffe with the munchies and is left with just half a tutu. Her solution to her tutu tragedy will surprise and amuse young readers and wins little Leah Lou the admiration of one of the zoo’s flashiest residents.

My Thoughts:

Little Leah Lou and her Pink Tu is a cute children’s book. I really liked the author's sense of humor. Even though it’s a children’s book, I got a couple chuckles out of it. I liked how resourceful Leah Lou was. When her pink tutu got destroyed, she was only sad about it for a little while. She didn’t sit around and mourn the loss of her pink tutu. She did something about it. She created a pink tu which looked adorable. The book teaches a great lesson. When something bad happens, make the best of it. I really liked all of the illustrations. My favorite illustration is one of Little Leah Lou standing by the peacocks. Her tu is all puffed up and so are all of the peacocks tails. It looks like all three of them have peacock tails. The drawing is really cute. This is a fun children’s book. I recommend it to girls three and older. 

I give Little Leah Lou and her Pink Tu: 5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://teashaseitz.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Teasha-Seitz/309279405795973
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TeashaSeitz
Pintrest: http://pinterest.com/teashaseitz/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/112152488543888356710/posts
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6476808.Teasha_Seitz

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Puzzled by Pink by Sarah Frances Hardy


Synopsis:
Not every girl loves pink

Izzie hates pink as much as her sister, Rose, loves it. So when Rose plans an all-pink birthday party with the guests dressed in fairy costumes, Izzie decides to give her own alternative party in the attic, where the guests will be monsters, spiders, ghosts, and the pet cat. But some powerful magic triggers the appearance of yet another guest - an unexpected one. This will be a party nobody forgets!

My Thoughts:

I loved Puzzled by Pink. It reminded me of a children’s version of Emily the Strange. I can identify with Izzie, the main character. As a child, black was my favorite color, and all the girls in school thought I was weird because of it. The book teaches children a lesson. No matter how different someone may seem, get to know them before you judge them. It’s what is on the inside that counts, not the clothes that they wear. Puzzled by Pink also teaches that everyone, no matter how different they may be have something in common with another person. The illustrations in the book are all wonderfully drawn. I loved the ones with the black cat because they remind me of my cat, Sir Pig. My favorite drawing is the one of Izzie going up the stairs and Jinx following her. It’s adorable that they both have the same facial expression and walk the same way. This is a great children’s book. I recommend it for girls four and older. 

I give Puzzled by Pink: 5/5.

Want to know more about the author?

  • Website: http://sfhardy.blogspot.com/
  • Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4953654.Sarah_Frances_Hardy
  • Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sarah-Frances-Hardy-Authorillustrator/354293381264317
  • Twitter: https://twitter.com/intent/follow?original_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fsfhardy.blogspot.com%2F&region=follow_link&screen_name=sfhardy2&tw_p=followbutton&variant=2.0
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

How to Date a Vampire by Sophie Collins


Synopsis:
For any girl looking for a boy who's more Cullen than caveman, this book is her helping hand to a happy ending. Packed full of quizzes, charts, and fail-safe advice, this guide offers the lowdown on how to successfully date a vampire.

My Thoughts:

See my review of The Vampire is Just not That Into You. I’m kidding. Seriously though, the books were almost identical. I read them back to back. They are both short quick reads. I think they took me about an hour each to read. They are both how to guides when it comes to dating vampires. I really liked the illustrations in How to Date a Vampire. They have an emo/anime feel to them. I didn’t really care for this book. The only reason why I finished it was because it was so short. 

I give How to Date a Vampire: 2/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/How-To-Date-A-Vampire/312656160391

I bought this book at a book sale. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Vampire is Just Not That Into You by Vlad Mezrich


Synopsis:
Are you in love with a vampire?  Are you worried that you might not be his (blood) type?  Do you wonder whether that cold stare means he isn’t interested . . . or if it’s because he’s been dead for three centuries (nothing personal)?  Have you tried to coax him out of his crypt with a flash of your neck or a near-death situation that requires him to save you at the very last possible moment?  Have you ever considered what it will be like to introduce him to your mother?

Even though your vampire’s skin is transfixingly translucent, he can still be very hard to read.  Sometimes he’s simply holding back his true feelings, resisting the urge to bite you in the chance that one day you will truly love him.  And other times . . . well, he’s just not that into you.

How can you tell?  Undead dating specialist Vlad Mezrich has all the answers, utilizing quizzes, Top Ten lists, language analysis, real-life (and real-death) testimonials, and fancy charts to show you what you need to do in order to get your vampire and keep him forever.  Once you go vamp, you never decamp – so let this eternally rewarding book show you the way to the vampire of your dreams.

My Thoughts:

When it first came out, I loved He’s Just Not That Into You. When I found out they had a vampire version, I just had to read it. However, I was disappointed. It was probably my own fault that I was disappointed. I didn’t do enough research on the book before buying it. I thought the book was going to be a young adult book but it turned out to be middle grade. It was way below my reading level. I felt kind of silly reading it. Also, I thought it was going to be an actual novel, but it was more of a how to guide. Although He’s Not That Into You was a guide as well, it didn’t have all the charts and quizzes. I think the author thought that this would make the book more fun to read but it didn’t. I’m not quite sure if the author was trying to be like Twilight, or make fun of it with all the references to it. It just did not work. It just made it seem like he was trying too hard to be funny. As much as I dislike the book, there are a few things that I did like about it. The cover is beautiful. I like how the cover is a spoof of He’s Not That Into You, with more of a goth feel. Also when the author was using his humor in a non-twilight way, he was actually pretty witty. He made me chuckle a few times. However, the positives of the book don’t make up for how much I disliked it. 

I give The Vampire is Just Not That Into You: 2/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/vlad.mezrich

I bought this book at a book sale. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Friday, December 21, 2012

ARC Review: Lost Cat by Caroline Paul


Synopsis:
Caroline Paul was recovering from a bad accident and thought things couldn't get worse. But then her beloved cat Tibia disappeared. She and her partner, illustrator Wendy MacNaughton, mourned his loss. Yet weeks later, Tibia waltzed back into their lives. His owners were overjoyed. But they were also...jealous? Betrayed? Where had their sweet anxious cat disappeared to? Had he become a swashbuckling cat adventurer? Did he love someone else more? His owners were determined to find out. Using GPS technology, cat cameras, psychics, the web, and animal communicators, the authors of Lost Cat embarked on a quest to discover what their cat did when they weren't around. Told through writer Caroline Paul's rich and warmly poignant narrative and illustrator Wendy MacNaughton's stunning and hilarious 4-color illustrations, Lost Cat is a book for animal lovers, pet owners, and anyone who has ever done anything desperate for love.

My Thoughts:

I love books about cats. Whether they are fiction or non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. When I saw a book about a woman whose cat has gone missing, I knew I had to read it. I love my cat and I would be heartbroken if anything were to ever happen to him. I could definitely identify with most of the things the author was saying. Attaching a camera to her cat may have been a little over the top, but I can understand why she did it. I also liked that the book had lesbian characters in it. I know that wasn’t the point of the book and it didn’t impact the story in any way. I just like seeing LGBT characters in books. The book made me chuckle at things that only a "crazy cat lady" would understand. I also felt heartbroken when something tragic happened to one of her cats. Just feeling the authors pain and knowing what she was going through made me cry. I loved this book. I hope to find more like it. I recommend Lost Cat for cat lovers everywhere. 

I give Lost Cat: 5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://carolinepaul.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/carowriter

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Girl Who Was on Fire by Various Authors


Synopsis:
Katniss Everdeen's adventures may have come to an end, but her story continues to blaze in the hearts of millions worldwide.

In The Girl Who Was on Fire, thirteen YA authors take you back to Panem with moving, dark, and funny pieces on Katniss, the Games, Gale and Peeta, reality TV, survival, and more. From the trilogy's darker themes of violence and social control to fashion and weaponry, the collection's exploration of the Hunger Games reveals exactly how rich, and how perilous, protagonist Katniss' world really is.

• How does the way the Games affect the brain explain Haymitch's drinking, Annie's distraction, and Wiress' speech problems?
• What does the rebellion have in common with the War on Terror?
• Why isn't the answer to "Peeta or Gale?" as interesting as the question itself?
• What should Panem have learned from the fates of other hedonistic societies throughout history and what can we?

The Girl Who Was On Fire covers all three books in the Hunger Games trilogy.

My Thoughts:

I am indifferent to The Girl Who Was on Fire. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. It was interesting hearing all the points of views about the Hunger Games. I think it is cool that different people can read the same book and everyone of their perspectives on the book will be different. I was happy that the book featured quite a few essays by debut authors along with authors that most people know and love, such as Carey Ryan. If I liked the debut authors essays, it made me want to read their books more. Sarah Rees Brennan nailed my thoughts on why I didn’t want to read the Hunger Games at first. I had already read the manga, Battle Royale. I thought the Hunger Games would be a cheap rip-off of Battle Royale, but it turned out to be so much more. I was a little upset that Mary Borsellino spoiled the ending for 1984 for me. I had it on my to read list. My favorite essay was Lili Wilkinson’s. I like how she compared what was going on in The Hunger Games with what is going on in America on reality television. It was a big eye opener to me. Maybe the notion of The Hunger Games isn’t entirely impossible in our future. At least until we do something to change that. 

I give The Girl Who Was on Fire: 3/5.

Want to know where to buy this book?
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Was-Fire-Movie/dp/1936661586
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/girl-who-was-on-fire-leah-wilson/1102692474?ean=9781936661589

I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Reached by Ally Condie


Synopsis:
After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

In this gripping conclusion to the #1 New York Times-bestselling Matched trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.

*MINOR SPOILER ALERTS*

My Thoughts:

Words cannot express how much of a disappointment Reached was to me. The book was on my most anticipated books of 2012 list. However, I am glad that I borrowed it from the library instead of wasting money on it. The only reason I even finished the book is because I wanted to know how the series ended. The book had quite a few obvious plot holes that I caught right away. Just because Cassia slips a piece of paper that says remember, she is able to remember everything that happens to her. That was the biggest plot hole that bothered me. Normal people that lose their memory would look at the piece of paper and think ‘Why the heck do I have a piece of paper that says remember?’. It just seemed like a cop out. I expected more action from the Rising taking over the Society. It was anticlimactic. The book gives a reason for it being so quick. However, with two books leading up to this, you would think that it would be an epic battle. The only thing that I even somewhat liked about the book was the ending. Cassia chose who I thought she would. It was pretty obvious throughout the book who she was going to choose. Even though she could only choose one person, the person she didn’t choose got a happy ending as well. What the reader finds out about Lei towards the end of the book made me really happy. I was astounded. It was probably the only thing in the book I didn’t see happening before it was revealed. However, an okay ending does not make up for a horrible book. Reached was one of the most disappointing books of 2012, if not one of the most disappointing books I have ever read. It had so much potential but it fell flat. 

I give Reached: 1/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://www.allysoncondie.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allycondiebooks
Twitter: http://twitter.com/allycondie

I borrowed this book from the library. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Perfect Wedding by Debra Benson


Synopsis:
Leah is a successful weight-loss expert. She seems to have everything an independent girl ever wanted, but for one a perfect wedding. She had always dreamed of walking down the aisle with her father leading her toward her perfect mate. But she doesn't know her father. His idenitity has remained a secret for a very long time, and she knows she has to exhaust all her efforts to convince her mother to spill.

In the midst of her emotional turmoil, she meets Andrew, a man dumped by his wife, her new client, for being overweight. On one of their meetings, he notices her sad disposition and offers to listen, she opens up to him and all things begin to change. 

Will Leah find her father and will she ever see her dream come true in a perfect Wedding?

My Thoughts:

Perfect Wedding was a good short story. The plot was fun to read. I really enjoyed seeing Leah and Andrew’s relationship progress. My only problem with the story is that the book felt a little rushed. It would have been perfect if it was a little bit longer and had a bit more detail in it. It seemed like only a few days had passed from the time Andrew had walked into Leah’s office for the first time to when he proposed to her. Although, from some things that happened in the book, you can tell it must have been more than a few days. The reader just isn’t sure when everything happened. I liked all of the characters. They made the book entertaining to read. My favorite character was Cheryl, Leah’s aunt. She seemed like she was a woman wise beyond her years. I liked her spunky personality. Perfect Wedding was a good story. It’s a perfect read for a short ride or a wait at a doctors office. 

I give Perfect Wedding: 4/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://www.ollieleewords.com/index.html
Pintrest: http://pinterest.com/debrabenson/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bensondebra
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6454896.Debra_Benson

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Stubborn Princess by J.B Stockings


Synopsis:
What happens when a princess tires of the upkeep of her long curls and stubbornly declares a hair care holiday? Anyone with curly hair knows the answer to that question--a disaster!
Mistaking her knotted hair for a nest, a large bird lays her eggs and sets into motions an unexpected turn of events as the princess is flown far away. Getting back home will require that she focus her stubborn streak in a new direction, and getting back to normal will require she truly see herself for what she has become.

My Thoughts:

The Stubborn Princess is a cute children’s story. It reminds me of those ‘I can read’ reading level books I used to read quite a lot when I was a kid. The book teaches an important lesson. Even though it’s not a bad thing to be stubborn some times, eventually you have to admit that others are right. The book also teaches that it’s important to know how to ask others for help. I thought it was cute how the book rhymed. When I was a child I used to love rhyming books. The illustrations were well drawn. They helped to convey the story to the readers. My favorite illustration was of the princess when she has the long hair that looks good and walks by two boys that are sword fighting. The boys stop what they are doing to stare at her. This was a great children’s book. I recommend it for children just learning to read. The words aren’t too difficult and parents can help them if they get stuck. 

I give The Stubborn Princess: 5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://www.jbstockings.com/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6520653.J_B_Stockings

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Born This Way by Paul Vitagliano


Synopsis:
Based on the hugely popular blog of the same name, Born This Way shares 100 different memories of growing up LGBTQ. Childhood photographs are accompanied by sweet, funny, and at times heartbreaking personal stories. Collected from around the world and dating from the 1940s to today, these memories speak to the hardships of an unaccepting world and the triumph of pride, self-love, and self-acceptance. This intimate little book is a wonderful gift for all members of the LGBTQ community as well as their friends and families. Like Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project, Born This Way gives young people everywhere the courage to say, “Yes, I’m gay. And I was born this way. I’ve known it since I was very young, and this is my story.”

My Thoughts:

I love hearing coming out stories. There is something that everyone can learn from a coming out story. The positive ones give hope. The negative ones teach the reader how to handle the situation. So when I heard that Paul Vitagliano, one of the more well known members of the LGBT community had compiled a book of short stories about coming out, I knew that I had to read it. Born This Way definitely didn’t disappoint. I learned something from every single one of the stories. Some of them made me laugh while others made me sad. I could definitely identify with some of the stories, especially about being bullied in high school because of your sexual orientation. However, the stories all come with a great message. It gets better. It might seem hard to deal with now, but the bullying does decrease and you will find like minded people to be around who love you for you. The book also brings up another great point. No matter what, always stay true to yourself. Otherwise you will never be happy with who you are. Once you start to love yourself you will care less about what other people think about you. I loved this book. The only thing is that I wished it would have had more stories about lesbians bisexuals and transgenders coming out as well. I think Born This Way should be required reading for everyone. Maybe people would think twice about bullying someone because of their sexual orientation. I will definitely be passing the book along to one of my LGBT friends in hopes it will encourage them to be themselves. 

I give Born This Way: 5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://www.borngaybornthisway.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DJPaulV
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/DJ-Paul-V/153210308057861
Pintrest: http://pinterest.com/btwblog/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5772245.Paul_Vitagliano

I received this book from the publisher in exchange forn ahonest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Seth's review of Invisible by Carla Buckley


Synopsis:
Growing up, Dana Carlson and her older sister, Julie, are inseparable—Dana the impulsive one, Julie calmer and more nurturing. But then a devastating secret compels Dana to flee from home, not to see or speak to her sister for sixteen years.

When she receives the news that Julie is seriously ill, Dana knows that she must return to their hometown of Black Bear, Minnesota, to try and save her sister. Yet she arrives too late, only to discover that Black Bear has changed, and so have the people in it.

Julie has left behind a shattered teenage daughter, Peyton, and a mystery—what killed Julie may be killing others, too. Why is no one talking about it? Dana struggles to uncover the truth, but no one wants to hear it, including Peyton, who can’t forgive her aunt’s years-long absence. Dana had left to protect her own secrets, but Black Bear has a secret of its own—one that could tear apart Dana’s life, her family, and the whole town.

Seth's Thoughts:

Invisible switches points of view every other chapter or so, from the adult female protagonist to the teenager female protagonist. The teenager has just lost her mother to renal failure (kidney failure) and is in the process of mourning when her aunt arrives on the scene. The mother was determined that there was something wrong in the town due to the high number of people in it that had the same condition she did. She had been doing research up until she died. The aunt discovers the research and doggedly pursues all leads until she eventually solves the case. All in all the story wasn’t something I would call totally compelling to the point of you must read it. But it wouldn’t hurt you to pick it up and read it. You might even learn a few things about demolition and the ocean. 

Seth gives Invisible: 3.5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://www.carlabuckley.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carla-Buckley/159163215914?v=wall&mid=20b42baG60de8e34G0G66
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CarlaBuckley
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3005487.Carla_Buckley

I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Neither Seth nor I were compensated in any way for this review.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Seth's review of The Seventeenth Pocket by Hargus Montgomery


Synopsis:
The Seventeenth Pocket is the first book in the series “The Last Days of Kerious Pye”. 

Book One follows Arden McGivven, a member of an ancient and honorable order of explorers living quietly with us throughout history. When the old voyager meets gravely ill, fourteen-year-old Megan Carlson, he confides in her, revealing secrets about her past, including her real name. He offers Megan a glimpse of her future only days before she sets off on her own unexpected voyage. 

As the series continues, more secretive explorers gradually reveal themselves to confront a threat to their home and this world. Forced to escape, readers are shown the way to places they thought existed only in the imagination. 

Who are these ancient expeditionaries? Why are they here? How do they know our past and our real names? A search for answers begins in The Seventeenth Pocket.

Seth's Thoughts:

What can I say about this book? I was pleasantly surprised. I did not expect to be pulled into the story of the book the way that I was. I mean, at first it was a little on the slow side but once the main characters second life began the book threw me for a loop and I was hooked. I generally don’t go into too many details when writing reviews as to not spoil the story for people. If you want a synopsis on what the book is about I am sure you can find one on the authors webpage. The characters were well written, the plot made sense and had a good hook, and I read it from front to back in one setting. If I can’t say anything better about this book then I don’t know what will convince you to read it. 

Seth gives The Seventeenth Pocket: 4/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://www.keriouspye.com/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4985588.Hargus_Montgomery
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kerious-Pye-Series/218225008240900

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Neither Seth nor I were compensated for this review.

Christmas Guest Post from Brian D. Anderson

Today on the blog, we have a special Christmas themed guest post from Brian D. Anderson. Brian is the author of The Godling Chronicles series.


An Anderson Christmas Miracle

By: Brian D. Anderson

Written 12/2/12

Christmas, 1953, in Mobile, Alabama, was by all accounts, a great time to be a kid. At least that's the case when you watch the history channel. It was a post WWII paradise, where anything was possible, and the whole country bustled with industry and optimism. The Great Depression was just a story told by drunken old men at backyard BBQ's and cocktail parties. The Great War had been won and we were reaping the benefits of our victory. Every Christmas heralded more good times to come, and boy, oh boy, did the presents flow. Life was indeed good. That is, unless your name was Jerry, and you were an eleven year old middle child, living in the Anderson house. If such was your fate, as it was mine, you found life to be a bit more trying. In fact, it could be down right unpleasant.

My father had never been what you may call a gentle, kind or even moderately happy man. As lineman for the L&N railroad, he was often away for days at a stretch, and spent the little time he was home in a general state of low boiling anger. Angry at what, I never knew, but I did know enough to stay out of his way, and not draw attention to myself. I remember the times he would come home early in the morning from the New Orleans run, stinking of soot and steel. If it was a weekend and I was in bed, he would turn on the lights, staring daggers at me as I pretended to sleep. If I didn't stir, the next thing I knew a lamp blared in my eyes, and I was shaken violently. Right then, I knew there would be no play for me that day; only work, work, and more work. And let me tell you, when my father put you to work you didn't stop until you were ready to die from exhaustion.

My mother was about as different from my father as a person could be. I once heard that the opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. Well, that was my mother. Aloof and disinterested, she had a cold, unapproachable way about her. Not cruel and angry like dad, but uncaring and self-absorbed. As a young woman she was considered very beautiful; in stark contrast to my father's ruff, grizzled appearance, and the family story goes, she only married him because he worked as a butcher during the Great Depression and could get his hands on beef, which only people of means could afford at the time. How true this is, I don't know, but I wouldn't doubt it.

I know you may thinking that by the way I describe them, they were terrible people. Well, you're not wrong. At least that's the way it was from my perspective. But, if you were my older or younger brother, life was far more pleasant and bearable. Though as a man, I don't think about it much, back then, it was cause for me to truly despise my brothers. Bobby, the youngest-younger than me by six years-caused me a no end of irritation. Little brother's, as a rule, will always be a nuisance, but most aren't doted upon like Bobby. Okay, I admit that's not true, but that's the way I saw it. Every Christmas he would get everything he had asked for, and me...well I got the same thing every year. A truck and a ball. By eleven years old I have nine trucks and nine balls in total. I can only assume the two that were missing was due to the fact that as toddler and infant, they chose to skip me altogether.

Billy, my older brother by five years, was expected to get better treatment. After all, he was the eldest , and in those days it was common for the eldest son to get more than his siblings. By then, he was a teenager and no longer cared about toys. Nice clothes and girls were his thing. Billy took after my mother in most ways, particularly in vanity, and was the only person I had ever seen her show true affection for.

Knowing what Christmas would bring, didn't make me an excited boy on Christmas Eve. No, that was Bobby. Mom would drag us off to church, then send us to bed early. Invariably, the second my light went off, Bobby crept through my door and climbed in bed with me.

“What do you think Santa's gonna bring,” he'd ask.

I may have been irritated by Bobby, but he sure did think the world of me. A fact I always remembered and brought us close as adults.

“How should I know?” I'd say. “Nothing, if you don't get back to bed.” I'd push him off the bed and roll over, squeezing my eyes shut.

Though I pretended not to care, secretly I hoped each year that this time Christmas would be different. Maybe, just maybe, I'd get at least one thing I wanted, and that year I wanted a pocket knife. With this thought racing through my young mind I would drift off to sleep.

Bobby was always the first to wake, followed soon by me. Not that I was an early riser, but it's hard to sleep with a five year old boy jumping up and down on your bed, screaming “Santa came!” at the top of his lungs.

Half filled with hope and the other half trepidation, I slid out of bed, Bobby dragging me by my arm, toward the living room. I could see my breath billowing out as I tried my best to resist him. Mom and Dad wouldn't turn on the heat until they got up, and December is a damn cold month, even in Alabama. If I lit a fire or turned on the gas radiators, Dad would yell...or worse, so there was nothing to do but suffer through it. I nearly fell back as he let go of my my hand a bolted to the Christmas tree. Indeed, Santa had come, but this was no Macy's display. No model trains wound their way through the gifts, with flat cars carrying baseball gloves and toy soldiers. No our Christmas' were far more spartan.

In the corner of the room hung our stocking, and the familiar round bulge of the lone stocking stuffer protruded from the wall. An orange. Yes, for some reason, my parents thought an orange was the perfect thing for a child to receive at Christmas. Or perhaps it was just easy. The plastic covered gold cloth couch and chairs had been pushed aside, along with the cheap end tables. Normally we weren't allowed to play in the living room, so Mom took great care that her “things” were safe from our destructive little hands.

The tree was decorated with gold ornaments and a single string of lights- there was no tinsel, streamers, or anything else one might expect-and a unlit, silver painted, wooden star crowned the understated achievement. Aside from the tree, there were no other decorations in the house. I think that's why, later in life, I tended to go a bit overboard. My wife would compare me with Clark Griswald, in my obsession. But hey...I enjoy it, even if it's a character flaw left over from childhood.

Bobby made a beeline to his first, and favorite present, seeing it folded neatly atop a large gift wrapped box. He squealed with delight. It was a cowboy outfit; complete with hat, chaps, two cap-guns and a holster. Right there and then he stripped of his clothes, and donned the suit.

“Do I look like a cowboy?” he asked, as he struggled to put on the holster. “Do I?”

Without answering, I scooped up his pajamas and took them to the laundry basket in the bathroom. It was right next to Mom and Dad's room, so I tip-toed in and out. But, I must not have been as quiet as I thought, because Mom cracked the door and peeked out, her finger pressed to the side of her nose. I froze. Dad was still sleeping and she wanted to keep it that way. He never woke up in a good mood. In fact, you'd have thought he was a drunk, his moods were so foul, which of course, he wasn't. Looking back, though, I think I would have felt better about it if he had been. At least it would have been an excuse.

When I got back the the living room Bobby was still struggling with the holster, so I reluctantly helped him put it on. I scanned the floor for my gifts....and there they were. Unwrapped and tossed carelessly to the back of the tree, lay my truck and ball...both red, and both cheap.

I sighed with disappointment, plopped myself on the floor, and watched with envy as Bobby ran around the room pretending to battle the Indian hordes. And so you know, this was not politically incorrect in those days. I suppose I should have told him to keep quiet. I knew if he was too loud, Dad would wake up, and God knows we didn't want that. But then again, it was Bobby making the racket...not me. It was Bobby who would get in trouble. This made me laugh a wicked little laugh inside my head. I know it was petty and childish, but I was a child, and still very petty.

Just then I heard it. The stomping and grumbling of an angry father. I jumped to my feet and grabbed up Bobby, pulling him with me behind the tree. Don't ask me why, but in spite of my jealousy, I didn't want him to get a whoopin'. Not really. At least not the kind Dad would dole out.

The stomps grew louder until the whole living room shook...or maybe it was me. Suddenly, there he was. Standing there in his pajamas and robe. Bald, mean, and angry. The deep lines carved into his face by years of backbreaking work and the scorching southern sun, made him look all the more frightening. I just knew we were doomed. But for once, I was wrong.

“Keep it down,” he growled. “Your brother's still sleeping.”

“Yes sir,” we said in unison.

Dad scanned the room then spun around and marched into the dining room cursing under his breath. A moment later he was back carrying a small arm chair. He placed it beside the tree, glaring at the other chairs Mom had covered and dragged to the corner .

“Can't sit in my own damn chairs, in my own damn house,” he grumbled.

I could hear Mom rustling about the panrty, already starting Christmas dinner. I knew it would be the last we'd see of her for a while, unless we needed something from the kitchen. Now by all accounts, Mom was an awful cook; a fact I didn't realize until I left home many years later, and tasted real food. In fact, tales her culinary disasters became the stuff of legend, passed down through the generations.

Bobby resumed his pretend epic battle, albeit, quietly, and I grabbed my truck from behind the tree and did my best to look happy. I know most families open their gifts together, but we were not most families. Whatever gifts were left to be opened, would wait until Billy got up, and Mom and Dad would open theirs after dinner.

Dad sat there, staring grumpily, tapping his foot, not saying a word. Finally, he got up and strode off to Billy's room. A minute later Billy stumbled in, rubbing his eyes and sat down on the floor next to me.

“At least Dad's not yelling,” he whispered. He was right about that.

Billy and I were never close, not even after we grew up, but as older brothers go, he wasn't the worst. He was slight in build like Mom, and by the time I was eleven I was nearly as tall, broader in the shoulder, and twice as tough. But, this wasn't the reason he left me alone. Like I said, he took after Mom. He simply didn't care enough to pick on me, even when he still could.

Billy had already received his present the day before. Dad had bought him an old clunker of a truck and being that it couldn't be hidden, there was no point in waiting until Christmas morning. He had a few other presents, but he already knew what they were, and showed no interest in opening them. He would wait until Mom was nearly finished with dinner, then, in true favorite son form, quickly rip them open and tell her how much he loved them. The fact is, he was counting the seconds until dinner was over, and he could cruise in his new truck. I guess I can't blame him for that.

“Get dressed and go outside,” yelled Dad, from the kitchen. “Jerry, watch your brother.”

Dad didn't like us under foot, and thankfully my neighborhood was little more than woods, dotted with a house here and there. It wasn't much, but for a rambunctious kid, it was paradise. I quickly changed and grabbed Bobby's coat and helped him put it on. Dad had lit the radiators and fireplace by that time, and we hit the door and bitter cold air outside, just as the house was warming up.

I hadn't bothered with my ball and truck, and our oranges still waited for us in our stockings. Thankfully, I was young enough to still enjoy playing Cowboy's and Indian’s, so the next several hours were spent dodging in and out of brush, running from tree to tree, and making shooting sounds. Of course Bobby had his new cap-guns, and I had to use a stick, but it really didn't matter. We had fun.

Billy and Dad were busy working on his truck. Dad was notorious for “fixing” things until he was the only person who could use them. There was little doubt in my mind, that Dad was showing Billy the complex series of actions need to start, stop, and keep the engine running. But hey...when you're a teenager ,a vehicle means freedom, even if that freedom meant you have to pump the clutch three times, while turning the key half way, pulling the wheel slightly to the right, with the radio set to 660 AM, the left vent closed, and the windows rolled down. And if you think that's a joke, you've never tried starting one of Dad's cars.

By the time dinner was ready, the sun was going down and we had been playing for hours. We hadn't had breakfast or lunch (not that we couldn't have. Mom and Dad may not have been the greatest of parents, but they didn't starve us), and we were more than ready to for dinner. Billy and Dad had already gone inside and washed up. Billy as predicted had opened his gifts and I could hear the him in the kitchen, thanking Mom in the most genuine tone he could muster. She, naturally ate it up.

Mom had already set dinner by the time we had washed and changed . Dad was at the head of the table, talking cars with Billy. The turkey, sweet potato pie, ham, stuffing, deviled eggs, and potato salad, were crammed tightly in the center. The good plates were out, along with the good glasses and silverware. It was the only time Mom ever took them out of the china cabinet, and we were always nervous to use them. Dad didn't even bother to look up at us, and Mom was still in the kitchen, so we took our places on either side, me next to Billy, and Bobby on the other, near where Mom would be.

Now, every Christmas story, has a Christmas miracle, and this one is no exception; though it may not seem like a miracle to you.

For some reason, Mom was taking a long time to come to the table, and Bobby got very impatient (as kids his age often do). Without anyone noticing, he crept out of his chair and crawled around to my side of the table. I was listening to Billy and Dad's “car talk”, so when Bobby reached up and poked his finger into my ribcage, I let out a surprised yell and jumped out of my seat. Bobby laughed, proud that that he got me. I, on the other hand, was not amused, a fact that he must have sensed, because he scrambled to his feet and tore off around the table. I was in hot pursuit, intent on wringing his little neck...or at least whacking the crap out of him.

If Dad would have stopped either of us right then, what was to follow would have never happened. Of course, there would have been no Christmas miracle, and no point to this story.

The leg of our dining room table had come loose a few weeks earlier, and Mom had been after Dad to fix it. But instead of fixing it properly, he had rigged it back on with glue and tape. Don't ask me why. Had he fixed it right, Bobby wouldn't have clipped it as he ran, knocking it loose. Had he fixed it right, the table wouldn't have fallen. And had he fixed it right, Christmas dinner wouldn't have slid off the table, good dishes and all , and ended up in a heap in the corner.

For a second there was nothing but dead silence. Bobby was frozen, fear struck, and I was no better off. This was by far, the worst thing we could have done, and the beating I knew was coming would be well beyond what I cared to imagine. The silence was only broken by the primal scream of my mother as she rushed in to see her dinner and prize china, piled up waist high.

I didn't even bother to look at Dad, I just took off running. Though it only took a few second for me to reach my room, it felt like an hour. I could almost feel Dad at my heels, reaching out to grab me. That I reached my room unharmed, and managed to lock my door before he got there, IS NOT the Christmas miracle, though at that moment it felt like one. I pushed my self deep into the corner of my room, thinking that at any second, the door would burst open, and the beating would begin. But it didn't happen. After a few minutes I heard Mom crying and yelling at Dad for not fixing the table.

“My God,” I thought. “She's blaming him.”

A few more minutes passed and there was a light rap at my door.

“Come on out.” It was Billy.

Slowly, with cautious optimism, I crept to the door and opened it. “What happened?” I asked.

“Dad's fixing the table,” said Billy. “And Mom wants us to help clean up the mess.”

“Where's Bobby?” I asked. At that moment I was actually worried about him...and a bit guilty that I ran off and left him there.

Billy shrugged. “Playing with his cap-guns I guess. Mom told him to go to the living room and play by the tree.”

I followed Billy back to where disaster had first struck. There was Dad, table upside down, with a hammer and nails, and Mom was doing her best to salvage what was left of Christmas dinner...and her china, of course. Dad glared at me as I entered, but Mom cleared her throat, and he went back to work. I think it was the only time she actually protected me, and the first time I had ever seen my father back down.

We helped Mom, and soon the table was fixed, and what little food there was left had been place back on the table. Mom brought out the old dishes. Me and Billy had to throw away the broken pieces of the good China. She couldn't bear to look at them.

Once everything was ready we all sat back down, and for a full minute no one spoke a word. Then Mom nodded at Dad and we bowed our heads and said Grace. After that...more silence. All that was left was the turkey, the ham, and half a bowl of potato salad Mom had in reserve in the kitchen. The rest was either mashed on the floor or had broken glass in it.

Then...Suddenly, it happened. The Christmas miracle. It was so subtle and quiet, that at first I didn't know what it was, like a rumble of a distant storm that was just close enough to hear the echo of the thunder. Then it got louder and louder, until I realized what it was. It was Dad. He was laughing. I can't remember my father ever laughing before and he would be an old man before I heard it again. Soon Bobby joined in, followed by Billy. Of course, I couldn't help myself, and caught the fever right along with them. Finally, Mom could hold it in any longer, and there we were, dysfunctional family of the year, in an all out belly laugh that lasted for a good five minutes.

That Christmas dinner, we sat, talked, ate, and enjoyed one another's company as if it were something that we did everyday. And though the joy did not last past this one glorious meal, I felt somehow normal for a change. We even had a great time opening the rest of the gifts and helped Mom clean up after it was all over. Dad gave me his old pocket knife to keep, and it was Bobby that was jealous for a change. Billy hung around just long enough to see Mom and Dad open their presents, then went cruising. That night I went to sleep happy, and didn't even mind when Bobby crawled in bed with me.

In the years to come my father would grow from a mean, hateful man, into a kind and gentle grandfather. Sometimes I would stare at him in disbelief at how much he had changed. And though he never said so, I like to think that he regretted the way he was and the way he treated me.

My mother, bless her soul, would remain the cold, vain woman she always had been for the rest of her days. But still, she was my mother, and though I was never sure how much she loved me, I always loved her. She did protect me that one time, and because of that (among other things), the Anderson's had a genuine Christmas miracle.

Brian D. Anderson was born in 1971, and grew up in the small town of Spanish Fort, AL.. He attended Fairhope High, then later Springhill College where his love for fantasy grew into a lifelong obsession. His hobbies include chess, history, and spending time with his son.




Book One Teaser
Darkness comes as a new power rises in Angrääl. The Dark Knight has betrayed the Gods and stolen The Sword of Truth, trapping them in heaven. With the power of the Sword he can reshape the world and bring death to all who oppose him. Only one thing stands between the darkness and the light. Gewey Stedding. Only he has the power to stand against the oncoming storm. Only he can mend the world. But only if he can discover his power....

Book Two Teaser
Armies gather for war in the frozen land of Angrääl threatening to set the world
ablaze. The elves are divided and scattered and humans fall prey to the dark influence of the Reborn King. Now, Gewey is faced with his greatest challenge yet. Unite the world of elf and human before it is too late...