Hello ladies and gents,
(*insert much applause, etc., hehe*)
Today I’m interviewing Dawn Dagger, author of the novel My British Bear for her blog tour. I hope you enjoy the interview (and the included information about the book & tour).
Title: The Incredible Adventures of Scruffer & Co.
Author: John Serbin
Series: The Incredible Adventures of Scruffer & Co., Part 1
Setting: United States
Publisher: John Serbin
Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)
Overall Rating: 3.5 stars
A self-centered teddy bear becomes real and has to learn how to live in this new reality. He is soon joined by other teddy bears with differing personalities. Together, they embark on a series of comical adventures as only fun loving teddy bears can.
If you enjoy the characters and humor of Calvin and Hobbs, The Far Side, and Peanuts, you will definitely fall in love with this comical company of teddy bears as they experience the world from their unique perspective.
Title: Unexpected Allies and Recurring Warts
Author: Grace Marshall
Series: Horse Haven, #2
Genre: Christian Young Adult Fiction
Setting: Missouri, USA
Publisher: Grace Marshall
Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars
A spunky kitten on a daring rescue, a neglected mare full of love, and boys that recur like warts make teenager Ruth Deloach’s life far from boring. For every kind person that comes to the ranch there seems to be two warts.
The attitudes and temperatures of southeast Missouri starkly contrast the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but Ruth doesn’t have time to adjust before her father holds an open house for their horse ranch, Meredith Meadows. Ruth’s overbearing older brother seems to just add dangerous sparks to her frustration as she tries to figure out who she has to be nice to and who she actually wants to be nice to. At first, the horse lessons on the ranch start making Ruth feel as if she is back in her comfort zone until she gets tossed by one of the horses.
Sometimes the best way through life is to laugh through the tears, warts, and her own attempts to mow the grass in a straight line.
Title: Nyssa Glass and the Caper Crisis
Series: Nyssa Glass, #0.5
Author: H.L. Burke
Genre: steampunk (science fiction)
Age Range: upper middle grade/young adult
Overall Rating: 4 stars
Orphaned cat burglar Nyssa Glass intends to outwit her rotten fate.
“Adopted” by her incarcerated uncle’s gang of thieves, she breaks into homes and picks pockets to repay her family debt and one day buy her freedom from their dark enterprise. Mechanically adept and determined, Nyssa longs to attend Miss Pratchett’s School for Mechanically Minded Maids and make an honest life she can take pride in.
She wasn’t made to steal things. She was made to create and fix them.
However, before she can make her escape, the head of the gang taps her for a new assignment, one her conscience cannot bear. Nyssa is faced with a heartrending decision: sacrifice everything or become the very thing she’s desperate to escape.
Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection, #1
Genre: Dystopian Romance?
Source: from library
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
Title: Only Children Chase Sawdust
Author: Willowy Whisper
Genre: Christian Historical Adventure
Era: Pioneer-era (maybe early 1800s? Mid-1800s?)
Setting: United States
Publisher: Willowy Whisper
Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)
Overall Rating: 4/5
Their whole life turned to sawdust and blew away . . .
Please don’t leave me, Jacob. I need you. I know you’re grieving. Maybe we all are. But you’re chasing something you’ll never catch . . . and we both know you won’t come back alive.
I wasn’t sure what to think of this novel when I first began it. The author doesn’t really even offer us a synopsis to go off of! However, I read it in an afternoon. It wasn’t the best story I’ve ever read, but it was really good.
This is the tale of a young couple who must recover from an Indian massacre during which most of their loved ones were killed. Jacob, the husband, leaves Annie in the care of some military men to go preach salvation to the Indians.
The plot does seem to rush or slow down unnecessarily in a couple places, but I really did enjoy it. It was both sweet and heartbreaking. There were times when I was close to tears, which is rare for me.
Jacob: I was really skeptical of his choices from start to end. I knew it was the right thing to do, but like Annie, I just wanted him to stay!
Annie: *breaks out the tissues and comfort food* My heart is broken. I may never recover. *sobs* Also, Annie and Jacob were so cute together. Just sayin’.
Akando: his development happened too fast, but he was a great character nonetheless. I just wish a little more time could have been spent on his development.
Obadiah Clark: oooh, I could kill this man! I really wish I could. Except that would be wrong. But he’s a fictional character, so … *considers the jail fines for killing a fictional character* *realizes I have killed several fictional characters* *shrugs*
There were several other characters, but I won’t mention them because I don’t want to write an overwhelmingly long review. They all seemed well-developed to me, however.
This is the real failing-place of the book, in my opinion. There just wasn’t enough focus on where we were. It made no impression on my brain if the time or place were ever mentioned.
It might have been nice to see dates at the beginning of the chapter or something similar. Just so my mind would know where it was supposed to be.
I really enjoy Willowy Whisper’s writing style, and this was no exception.
I really did enjoy the themes of forgiveness and spreading the Good News (even to your enemies), but occasionally it seemed like the Christian content was a little bit forced. Still, great themes. I wish I was as brave as Jacob!
Violence: a massacre and Indian torture methods are described in some details, people die or almost die, murder (apart from the massacre) is attempted
Sexual: kisses between a married couple, mentions of pregnancy and childbirth (few to no details), a man pushes himself on a woman repeatedly (not as in rape or anything like that, but as in persistent courtship which is almost inappropriate)
Also some drunkenness, few details. Rated PG-13 for violence.
This is a great book, and I’d recommend it to any lover of Christian historical adventures. There were a few short-comings, but they weren’t overwhelming and in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the story.
Is Structure the Hidden Foundation of All Successful Stories?
Why do some stories work and others don’t? The answer is structure. In this new guide from the author of the bestselling Outlining Your Novel, you will discover the universal underpinnings that guarantee powerful plot and character arcs. An understanding of proper story and scene structure will help you to not only perfectly time your story’s major events, but will also provide you with an unerring standard to use in evaluating your novel’s pacing and progression.
Structuring Your Novel will show you:
• How to determine the best methods for unleashing your unique and personal vision for your story.
• How to identify common structural weaknesses and flip them around into stunning strengths.
• How to eliminate saggy middles by discovering your “centerpiece.”
• Why you should NEVER include conflict on every page.
• How to discover the questions you don’t want readers asking about your plot—and then how to get them to ask the right questions.
Story structure has empowered countless bestselling and classic authors. Now it’s your turn!
Rating: 4.5 stars
This book changed the way I look at story structure. It’s changed the way I look at the dramatic arc. At the books I read and the movies I watch. At the way I outline and write and revise.
Structuring Your Novel is a nonfiction book about writing … more specifically about story structure. It starts with a detailed look at the structure of a novel. It shows you the entire story arc in a new way, giving tips for writing each tiny little detail of the dramatic arc. This was very useful, even as someone who knows the dramatic arc fairly well.
Next, it moves on to scene structure. I’d never really thought much about scene structure, so this was an eye-opened for me. I read this section through more than once! It was very informative.
The only thing I didn’t find useful was the chapter on sentence structure. It didn’t really help me, mostly because I learned most of that in grade school and the rest from noveling blogs, other writing books, and practical experience. Still, it may be useful to other people.
K.M. Weiland writes in an entertaining style, but she also grinds the facts into your head in a way that really makes them stick with you. Her examples from popular fiction (old and new) were very useful in helping me grasp the concepts she introduces. But don’t worry if you don’t read a lot (shame on you; why are you trying to write?!). Even if I hadn’t read the books/watched the movies (which I didn’t with two of them), I would have understood, which was nice.
I’d recommend this book to any writer who wishes to improve their craft. It’s definitely worth your time!
Title: The Ugly Teapot: Hannah
Author: Fred Holmes
Series: The Ugly Teapot, Book 1
Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure
Setting: United States and the Middle East
Publisher: Fred Holmes
Source: from the author (in exchange for an honest review)
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Fourteen-year-old Hannah Bradbury loved her father so much that she worried about him constantly. After all, he was a photographer who traveled to the most dangerous places in the world.
To allay her fears, each time he came home he brought her silly gifts, each one with supposed magical powers: the Seal of Solomon, the Ring of Gyges, even Aladdin’s Lamp. It was that lamp Hannah found the most unbelievable, for it looked like an ugly teapot. Nevertheless, her father assured her it was real, and made her promise to save her three wishes for something very special.
Then . . . six months later . . . the unthinkable happened. Her father was killed while on assignment to Baghdad. And so on the day of his funeral Hannah did something she never thought she would ever do.
She took out that teapot and gave it a rub . . .
The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes is a timeless tale, filled with magic and adventure. More importantly, it will make you believe in the overwhelming power of love.
I honestly don’t know how to rate and review this book. I thought I’d wait a while after reading it to see if my thoughts organized themselves, but they haven’t, and so I guess I’ll just do my best to give my honest opinion.
Honestly, it’s an emotional journey, and emotions boggle me a little. I laughed and cried and was both disturbed and happy.
The plot was really one of the cleverest I’ve read in a while. If you’ve read the blurb (^), you probably have a pretty fair idea as to what goes on, but it still surprised me. I think the only thing I didn’t appreciate was pausing the adventure to return to V’s life every once and a while, though when the ending came I understood why it was necessary.
The ending was a bit disturbing. I didn’t quite know what to think about it at first … and was a little disappointed, too. However, after I thought about it for a while, I decided it was really a cool twist … and totally unexpected! Still, it was disturbing and, in my opinion, sudden.
There were several characters who held prominent parts besides Hannah, but I always had them kept straight in my mind. A few things did confuse me (for instance, it wasn’t explained until the very end of the book why Griff has the ability to communicate with Hannah telepathically; we were just expected to accept it like all dogs communicate with their masters like that), but overall, I found them all well-developed and interesting.
Hannah was a sweet little girl (well, “little” is a broad term …) looking for her father. Stories with grieving people in them always get me even though I’ve never lost anyone really important to me.
Griff, Hannah’s dog, was a fun character. He can communicate telepathically with Hannah for much of the book, and he has a fun sense of humor.
Hannah’s father … well, something seemed wrong with him from the beginning, and so I was pleased with Hannah’s realization towards the end. Sure, he was a fun dad … but a good one? Eh. Not so much.
Vivian (V), Hannah’s mother, was a great character. I loved her growth and the growth of her and Hannah’s relationship. It was also cool how she’s this steady person who is always there, even if Hannah didn’t think her decisions were always the best.
Gus was my favorite. He was just so hilarious! Every word out of his mouth had me in stitches, and that whole thing with the treasure chest … and his relationship with Hannah’s father was the best. 😛
Ahmed … wow. Insta-crush, huh, Hannah? *glares at Hannah* Okay, okay, I know, you’re fourteen and he’s this awesome exotic gentleman … but still.
Ahmed’s parents I actually liked … until the end. At which point I kinda got frustrated with them. I still don’t know about that little lie to Hannah’s father. What was that about?
The Magician, we all hated. Well, at least I did. He was so cruel and evil and wicked and awful … and other words that are near-synonyms to each other. I hate him! And yet he’s a “good” villain as villains go (as in he is good at being evil).
The description and setting were both very good. I always had a good idea as to where we were. I especially loved the descriptions of the treasure chamber and the Sheik’s house.
As far as settings, we started in a small town in the United States in Hannah’s bedroom and went halfway around the world to Baghdad and then some mountains (I’ve forgotten which) and back to Hannah’s house. All vividly described without too many words.
Excellent! I especially enjoyed the punchy dialogue and, of course, description. The best thing about the writing was the humor. I laughed aloud several times.
However, I did find some sentences to be a little complicated or overthought.
I felt like the theme could have been worked a little better. The ending and resolution were somewhat sudden, as I mentioned before, and the main character was kind of in denial before that point. V’s point of view helped decrease that shield Hannah put up a little … but not much, especially as V had no idea what was going on until the end.
Language: “oh my god” several times and then stronger euphemism such as “crap,” etc. 10+.
Violence: lots of this, I’m afraid. Many, many people were killed during Hannah’s adventure. There was lots of blood and death and scary situations. It never got extremely gory, but it was mildly gory in several places. 13+ at least.
Sexual: n/a (although Hannah develops a crush on a boy she’s traveling with)
Other: the world is assumed millions of years old. Hannah is suffering from severe depression, anxiety, and delusions. The ending is kinda of disturbing. 10+
I’d say 13+ at least for violence, disturbing themes, and mild language (taking the Lord’s name in vain). Parental guidance suggested for more the more sensitive.
A fairly decent young adult novel with a great beginning and middle. The end was a little sudden, but for those who are good at sorting details out, it won’t make any difference. I really enjoyed the humor and the adventure (though it could be a little gory or disturbing at times), and the character were well-developed and interesting.
A great story for any upper middle grade or young adult reader who loves a character-based adventure with magic elements.