Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The White Princess

The White Princess is the tale of Elizabeth, the daughter of The White Queen and sister to the Princes in the Tower. At the conclusion of the Cousins' War, when Henry Tudor takes the throne, Henry also takes Elizabeth as his wife. The pair is less than pleased to be wed, but they know it is necessary to unite the houses of York and Lancaster, and it is most necessary for there to be a whole slew of Tudor Princes, else Henry won the war for nothing. Henry struggles to hold the throne, hold the love of England, and gain the love of his wife. Things seem to be going well, but then there is "the boy." The boy who may very well be Prince Richard of York, Elizabeth's brother. The boy with a better claim to the throne then Henry. 

Philippa Gregory is very upfront with the fact that this is fiction about a mystery, and we don't know the truth of the Princes in the Tower or their death. She is only presenting a case of what might have happened, a story strung together by the facts we do know. Loving Gregory's work as I do, I tend to believe her story, that it is possible things could have happened this way. 

As with all historical fiction, we already know how the story ends. There isn't going to be a big twist. Yet The White Princess is still an enjoyable read. It's not my favorite Gregory work because Elizabeth wasn't as complex a character as her mother or grandmother (I also felt the book ended too soon). She is, however, still a unique character. Same as Henry. Both of them are very realistic and make choices I feel to be true to character. Reading The White Princess also helps one understand Henry VIII better because one comes to understand his heritage. I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend this book. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Zoe & Zak and the Yogi's Curse


Title: Zoe & Zak and the Yogi's Curse (Zoe & Zak Adventures #2)
Author: Lars Guignard
Genre: Children /Middle Grade
Published: Fantastic Press (July 23, 2013)
Buy Links: 

Synopsis: Zoe and Zak are back in India. Again. And this time they’re attending Moonstock Himalayan Boarding School, which might seem fun except for the fact that the school is a little strange. Students ride elephants instead of school buses, snarling monkeys work as security guards, and angry parrots monitor the halls. And even when they manage to get used to the wildlife, the food is absolutely terrible.But living with a bunch of other kids their age can be a lot of fun too, or at least it seems that way until Zoe’s roommate goes missing. Following the directions written on a steamy bathroom mirror, Zoe and Zak fly through the clouds on their magic carpet to learn that the two of them have been chosen yet again. This time they’ve been asked to lift the Yogi’s Curse.It’s not going to be easy. Zoe and Zak don’t even know what the Yogi’s Curse is let alone how to lift it, but like it or not, they soon discover that a whole lot of people are depending on them. Now, if they’re going to save the day, they’re going to have to fool the monkey guards, avoid the nasty parrots, and maybe even develop a supernatural ability or two. Because lurking beneath Moonstock is a powerful new enemy. And if Zoe and Zak can’t stop him, nobody can.

Review: Adventure certainly seems to follow Zoe and Zak at their boarding school in India. Their adventures start in Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard, but The Yogi's Curse can be read as an independent read. Guignard gives enough of the back story for their new adventure to make sense without it being a bore to the reader who has read The Ghost Leopard. Overall, I thought it was very imaginative and a fun read. I did have a problem with Guignard's use of the word "coolie" though. When I first read it, I thought, oh, isn't that a derogatory term? So, of course, I turned to Wikipedia: I think, and certainly hope, that it is an out-dated term, and Guignard mistakenly used it. I also read Zoe as being a smart girl, she, herself, appears very well-read in The Ghost Leopard, and it seems as though she should know not to use that word, or having heard it, looked it up and learned of its origin. However, "coolie" is only in the first chapter, and there is much more to the book than one word! Aside from that word choice and a few grammatical errors and typos, I very much enjoyed The Yogi's Curse and recommend it to children and adults alike, including as a read-aloud or read-together book for parents and their children.

Author Bio: Prior to writing novels, Lars Guignard wrote for film and television. As a teenager he attended boarding school in the Indian Himalayas and his experiences there provided the inspiration for the Zoe and Zak series which now include: Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard and Zoe & Zak and theYogi's Curse. He now makes his home in the Pacific Northwest where he is busy completing the third Zoe & Zak adventure for release in Fall 2013.For news about new releases, please join his email list here:

He can also be reached at the following places: Blog: Twitter: @Lars_Gu Facebook:

I am a book tour host with CMBook Tours: I received a complimentary e-copy of  this book for the purpose of review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard

Lars Guignard's Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard is an exciting children's book about two sixth graders accompanying their parents on a work trip to India. Zoe is initially on a quest to take a photo to win a contest at school, but Zak's snooping gets them into trouble, which leads them on a crazy adventure. Overall, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It is a great mid/upper-level juvenile fiction or younger/lower level young adult work. I think it's right on par with Magic Tree House and the Zak Files books. One problem I did have was the lack of editing. There were a few noticeable typos and sentence fragments. Aside from those errors, the story was well thought out, though clearly fantasy and fiction, and the characters were realistic and dynamic. I enjoyed and recommend this book to all ages and as a read-aloud or read-along parent-child book. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Matrix and the Alice Books: An Intertextual Study

Title: The Matrix and the Alice Books
Author: Voicu Mihnea Simandan
Genre: non-fiction / movie studies / literary criticism 

Synopsis: The Matrix and the Alice Books presents aspects of intertextuality in three primary sources: the script of the motion picture The Matrix written by directors Andy and Larry Wachowski, and the books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll. Intertextuality is a set of relations with other texts, which can include direct quotations, allusions, literary conventions, imitation, parody and unconscious sources amongst others. In The Matrix there are few explicit references to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. This book by Voicu Mihnea Simandan presents both the explicit references and the less direct ones, giving evidence from primary and secondary sources. In doing so, it makes use of a literary construction developed from Gérard Genette’s structuralist theory of transtextuality as a framework to present how a web of intertextual relationships is clearly formed between the Alice books and The Matrix. 

Review: I enjoyed reading The Matrix and the Alice Books. It was written very much like a thesis and followed thesis structure very well. While it wasn't a super original idea (what is?) it was enjoyable and well researched, as well as something I hadn't really ever thought about. All the terms were well defined and it was very clear how The Matrix and Alice fit together and to read into the intertexual relationship of the children's stories and the movie. Everything was well thought out, ideas were fully developed, and it was well presented. It was easy to read and understand, even without a thorough knowledge of The Matrix or either Alice book. I look forward to reading his upcoming novel: The Buddha Head.  I give The Matrix and the Alice Books 4.5 stars for its genre.  

Author’s Bio: Voicu Mihnea Simandan is a Romanian writer and freelance journalist who was 
born in 1978 in Arad, a small city in Transylvania. He has published short stories, non-fiction, and books for children. He has been calling Thailand home since 2002 and he has been a member of the Bangkok Writers' Guild since 2009 and a member of AP Writers since 2012. He is now teaching Language Arts and Social Studies at an international school in Bangkok. His upcoming debut novel, The Buddha Head, a suspense thriller set in Thailand, is scheduled for publication in late 2013. He loves archery, martial arts and travelling.
Author links: Facebook/ Twitter / Goodreads / Blog / Website
Giveaways: For each tour stop, the author will give to the most engaging commenter an ecopy of The Rage of a New Ancestor, a collection of short stories set in Asia, where Voicu Mihnea Simandan also has one contribution. The author will be awarding a $10 grand prize to a randomly chosen commenter during the course of the tour.For each tour host, the author will give an e-copy of Mr. Cheng’s Silver Coffeepot, an anthology of Asian short stories, where Voicu Mihnea Simandan also has one contribution.

I am a book tour host with CMBook Tours: I received a complimentary e-copy of 
this book for the purpose of review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Guest Post: An Interview with a Vampire


Dante is the brother of one of the main characters, Charlie Cross.  He has a small part in book one of the series, but is a crucial turning point in book two.  Dante has asked if he can interview the author, Judy Serrano. Here’s what he had to say.


Mrs. Serrano, why didn’t you give me a bigger part in Linked? I wanted to be a more important part of Daphne’s life.


Dante, when I write a book, I start with a basic idea. When I sit down at my MacBook, whatever happens is totally the idea of the characters. You were a delightful surprise.


Well that doesn’t make me feel any better. I was the hero. Why didn’t I get the girl?


I understand your frustration. But don’t worry. In book two you will certainly be the star.


Why did you make Charlie a gangster? Was it really necessary to bring organized crime into it?


I am actually pretty familiar with this storyline. Easter’s Lilly, which is the first novel of my last series, is all about the Mafia and its effects on the lives of the innocent. I thought it would be a unique and fun added touch.


I guess I understand. I liked the way my character fit into that scenario. Now, you are the author, so you know all… Does Daphne love me? Sometimes it’s hard to tell.


You and Daphne have a special relationship. Both Charlie and Heathcliff are better for it. You easily became my favorite. That’s all I’m going to say about that.


Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I am really excited about book two. Can’t wait to see what happens to me next.


It promises to keep you on your toes. Even you, Dante, will surprise yourself.


Book Info: 


Title: Linked

Author: Judy Serrano

Genre: Suspense/Thriller with a Twist

Synopsis: Daphne Foster is a substitute teacher stuck in an English class, waiting for that dreaded parent-teacher conference. With much preparation and anxiety, she encounters the unforgettable Charlie Cross. His charm and good looks, win her over but rumors of his involvement with organized crime make his continued disappearances disturbing. In walks Heathcliff Vanderpool, creating a love triangle of unusual sorts. Unknown to Daphne, Heathcliff and Charlie are old friends: Older than she could have imagined. With Charlie away on business, Daphne and Heathcliff discover a passion between them lying beneath the surface. As their souls link, pulling away from Charlie becomes next to impossible. Will his involvement in organized crime consume them both before she’s able to get free? When you become “linked,” the choice may not be your own.

Author Bio: Judy Serrano graduated from Texas A&M University, Commerce with a BA in English. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Dallas Area Romance Authors. She is a substitute teacher at the local school district and writes for various on-line publications. She is the author of Easter's Lilly, Brother Number Three, Relatively Close and Memoirs of a Mobster, which are romantic thrillers and part of The Easter’s Lilly Series.Judy currently resides in Texas with her husband, four children (all boys) and five dogs. She is also a singer/songwriter in her spare time.

Author web links: 






Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Radio Murders: The Collectors

The Radio Murders: The Collectors by Chuck Collins jumps right into the action from page one. Sometimes this is a great storytelling tactic, but I found it unsavory in The Radio Murders. It was a little hard to follow and I felt lost for a bit. I also found this novel to be a little too adult for my taste: lots of vulgarity in language as well as sex scenes. Aside from that, I found the story enjoyable, yet hard to follow with too many indistinct characters. It was a very tangled web of deceit  mystery and action. It was intriguing, mysterious, and action packed. It ends with a cliffhanger, making the reader want to know what happens next. Unfortunately, this reader won't be finding out. It's an okay book, but not for me. 2 Stars. 

I am a book tour host with CM Book ToursI received a complimentary e-copy of this book for the purpose of review. All opinions are 100% my own.