"Monkey Fun!" by Julia Dweck

NEW RELEASE and REVIEW
Monkey Fun!
by Julia Dweck
Monkey Fun! is Julia Dweck’s latest release. You can read my review below. You can also read my earlier posts and reviews of some of Julia’s other books: Blucy (blog post), Mary had a Sleepy Sheep (blog post), Humpfree: The Humpless Camel (blog post), Faux Paw (blog post), and Zippity-Zoo (blog post).
Description
Monkey Fun! proves that you’re never too young to begin your learning adventure.
It’s a barrel of fun and chock full of interesting monkey facts written in easy to understand rhyming verse for toddlers ages 0-4.
Bold, colorful illustrations by Aida Sofia Barbawill capture the attention of young readers and aid in story comprehension. This is an edutaining rhyming adventure that offers fun learning resources in the back of the book including, Mrs. Dweck’s monkey facts and a monkey counting game.
Excerpt
That’s not a monkey who’s peeling a grape.
Bigger and tailless, he must be an ape.
Monkeys who live in a family group,
travel together and share with their troop.
Review

Ever wanted to know more about monkeys? Here’s a fun way to entertain and educate the kids at the same time. Find out where monkeys live, what they eat, and how they interact.
Aida Sofia Barba’s monkeys are extremely cute and the colorful backgrounds are stunning, a perfect complement to Julia’s rhyming verse. Comes complete with fun monkey facts and a counting activity.
About the Author
Julia Dweck writes children’s stories for digital and traditional publication. Her stories span the spectrum of humor, fantasy, and edutainment in rhyme and in prose. Check out her newest ebooks, Blucy, Mary had a Sleepy Sheep, Humpfree: The Humpless Camel, Faux Paw, Zippity-Zoo, and Monkey Fun!.
Julia’s background in elementary education affords her the opportunity to be in touch with what children want to read and what makes them giggle. She’s collaborated with leading artists in the world of children’s literature to produce over twenty Amazon ebooks. Her titles have garnered placement on Amazon’s bestsellers in children’s color picture books multiple times with two #1 bestsellers: Pie-Rits and Zombie-Kids. These titles have been chosen by Amazon Editors for the prestigious “Kindle Daily Deal.” Many of Julia’s titles have earned placement on Amazon’s top ranked lists based on customer review. In her spare time, Julia is a designer of educational adjuncts for children’s literature, and has worked with such notable publishing houses as Penguin Young Readers. She presented at the 2011 National Center for Family Literacy for her creative use of technology in the classroom.
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"Tumbleweed Christmas" by Beverly Stowe McClure

BOOK BLAST and GIVEAWAY
Tumbleweed Christmas
by Beverly Stowe McClure
Tumbleweed Christmas is a Christmas story suitable for children aged 3 to 7. You can read my review and enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a great prize. This book blast is brought to you by Mother Daughter Book Promotions.
Description
Christmas is the time for miracles, but sometimes, a child must make her own miracle, and one for her siblings.
Book Trailer
Review
Jackie’s family has no money for a Christmas tree or presents, and her father is sick in hospital. So Jackie sets out to buy a Christmas tree for her family with her last dollar, promising her little sisters, April and May, a surprise. She meets up with her friend Daniel who is having troubles of his own. Jackie’s mother has told her that Christmas is the season of miracles. Will Jackie and Daniel get their miracles this Christmas?
Illustrated by Bridget McKenna, Tumbleweed Christmas is a beautiful, heart-warming story about the belief in miracles, the love of family, and acts of selflessness. Although stated to be suitable for children aged 3-7, in my opinion it is suitable for older children as it deals with some harsh realities of life. Younger children may question the absence of in this story.
About the Author
Beverly Stowe McClure is a former teacher turned writer. When she was a kid, writing was the last thing on her mind. She loved music and played clarinet in the junior high and high school bands. She also was a majorette. She still plays the piano to relax. Her cats don’t appreciate good music, however, and run and hide when she tickles the ivories.
She lives in the country with Patches and Tiger (the cats), along with a variety of wild critters that stop by for a handout. Next to her sons, grandchildren, and great-grands, writing is her passion and joy. She also enjoys researching her family roots and snapping pictures of clouds, flowers, deer and birds, especially the roadrunner that visits on occasion and the hummingbirds that she feeds.
Giveaway
Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.
Links

"Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not Book 1" by D. S. McKnight

INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY
Of Dreams and Shadow:
Forget Me Not Book 1
by D. S. McKnight
Of Dreams and Shadow is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an interview with the author. You can also enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card or a $10 Starbucks gift card. Be sure to visit all of the other tour stops as well.
Description
We live. We die. Is there anything more?
Jenna Barton is about to find out. After moving to the coastal North Carolina town of Parson’s Cove, Jenna has unwittingly stepped into the middle of a mystery involving a missing child. Unfortunately, the predator is still on the loose and Jenna has become his new obsession.
With a little luck and a bit of paranormal help, Jenna might survive.
Excerpt
         The day was almost over and not a moment too soon.  A brisk wind moved through the treetops as Jenna strolled to the large stone at the back of her yard.  Sitting down, she leaned against the boulder and closed her eyes.  The oyster roast would have been nice, if not for Chase.  It seemed as though the shadow of his disapproval loomed over her entire day.  Not for the first time, she wished she could go back home.  Charlotte was familiar and safe.  She didn’t have to worry about why an angry neighbor didn’t like her.
         Jenna looked back at her house.  Her mom was inside going over reports.  It wasn’t like she could talk to her about Chase anyway.  Karen was one of those people who took the bull by the horns.  She would be knocking on the Williams’ door wanting to talk about “the problem” between their children.
         Chase.  She didn’t understand him and wasn’t sure she wanted to.  But time and again, she found herself thinking about him, wondering why they didn’t get along.  She tried to put him out of her mind but he was always there – at school, with her friends, even at home.  Part of her wished she had never met him, but the other part of her was intrigued.  She would never admit tin, not to anyone, but she found herself comparing Chase to Ethan.  Ethan, with his dark hair and blue eyes made her laugh.  Chase, whose light brown hair looked as though it had been kissed by the sun, more often than not made her want to cry.
         The sun had set in the western sky and as the shadows of the eventide crept close, bringing with it the frosty night air, Jenna’s solitary vigil came to an end.  It was as though her thoughts had conjured him.
         “Got it, Mom,” Chase called as he walked out the back door carrying a garbage bag.  He rounded the corner of the house and dropped the bag into the trash can.  Jenna debated on whether to run to her house or to stay hidden in the darkness.  Instead, she forced herself to walk.  She refused to act as though she had done something wrong.
         “Good night,” Jenna said as Chase secured the gate.
         Chase whirled around.  “What are you doing out here?”
         “Nothing illegal.”  Jenna shrugged.  “Forget I said anything.”
         “Wait.”  Chase walked to the fence that separated their yards.  “That didn’t come out right.  I just meant to say you should be careful.”
         “Right – because we know how rampant crime is in Parson’s Cove.”  Jenna rolled her eyes.  “Tell you what, why don’t you come up with a schedule of when I can be outside and then you won’t have to see me.”
         “How about this, why don’t you go back to Charlotte?  That should take care of the problem,” Chase snarled.
         “You’re a real jerk.”  Jenna walked the last few steps to her house, refusing to give into the urge to scream.  She had to admit it.  Chase was right.  Moving back to Charlotte would take care of the problem.  She’d never have to see his face again.
Book Trailer
Review
This book was recommended to me by a friend. I usually do not have much interest in fiction, but I found this book different. The characters are awesome, and once I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. I hope the author continues this story, and I would seriously love to see this as a movie as well. I have recommended this book to a few family members and friends. So far, those who have read it have found it very entertaining. For me this was a great find at a good price.
Interview With the Author
Hi Deb (D. S. McKnight), thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
I think Robert Cormier had quite an influence. His novel Tenderness really struck a chord with me. It dealt with very broken people and I think it liberated my writing – I felt like I could tell my story without worrying that it was too dark. 
What age group do you recommend your book for? 
It’s classified as Young Adult – I don’t think anyone under 14 should read it. When I wrote the book, I had older teens and adults in mind.
What sparked the idea for this book?
When I was little, my mother found me in a state of panic – I was upset because I thought my shadow was going to get me … I had to ask myself “What if it had been trying to get me?” And Of Dreams and Shadow was born.
Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?
For me, the idea for the novel comes first and then the characters start showing up.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
There’s a scene when Liza finds out the truth about her missing child. That scene was really difficult to write. I had to go to places emotionally that I didn’t want to visit.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
Obviously, I hope the readers enjoy the story. If I have done my job than the readers will be looking over their shoulder making sure nothing is after them.
How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me about three years – but I had very limited writing time during that period.
What is your writing routine?
I wish I was one of those people who can write after work. Unfortunately, my brain won’t shut off if I’m writing at night. This leads to insomnia – not a good thing when I have a full-time job. So, I write on the weekends.
How did you get your book published?
I self-published.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Hire an editor. You only get one chance to make an impression. Most people will be forgiving of an error or two but too many and you’re toast.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I enjoy going to the beach in search of sea glass, taking pictures, and hanging with my family.
What does your family think of your writing?
They are very supportive but I know if I’ve been locked away too long – they start finding excuses to interrupt me. 
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I grew up in a very small town. When I think back, I was really lucky. I played in the woods, floated on inner tubes in the river, and worked at a fish house “heading” shrimp. 
Did you enjoy school?
I enjoyed school with the exception of math. I hated classes like algebra and geometry.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
I loved reading. 
What was your favorite book as a child?
My second grade teacher, Mrs. Hardison, would read to us each day. She introduced me to my favorite story – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Who were your favorite authors as a child? 
S. E. Hinton (The Outsiders), Jim Kjelgaard (Big Red), William H. Armstrong (Sounder)
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 
When I was in high school, I wanted to be a reporter.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
I think so – probably in more ways than I am aware. 
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I tend to hear more from people who are familiar with the North Carolina coast. They identify with Parson’s Cove.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m working on the sequel – as yet unnamed. I’m really excited about it. When I initially wrote Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not, I intentionally left it with an ending that a reader wouldn’t see coming. I hadn’t decided whether or not, I wanted to continue the story. But – there was a character that just kept popping into my thoughts … I can’t wait to get finished telling her part of the story because I have another brewing in the back of my mind.
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Deb.
Thanks for inviting me to your blog and for participating with my tour! 
From the Author

When I was a little girl, I was afraid of my shadow – seriously afraid – running and screaming afraid. Perhaps I’ve always been a victim of an over-active imagination and maybe that explains the monsters hiding under my bed, the ghosts lurking in my closet, and the Shadow that inspired my first novel –  Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not.  I have always loved to write.  While in school, I dreamed of being a reporter, parachuting into war-torn places and getting “the story.”  In reality I’m afraid of heights and would never jump out of a perfectly good flying machine. I have been fortunate enough to have had a varied career – from working as a DJ for a small radio station to serving as the president and part owner of a marina. I am married, have three sons and live in coastal North Carolina.

Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card or a $10 Starbucks gift card.
Links

"After the Ending: The Ending Series Book One" by Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue

ON SALE for $0.99
After the Ending:
The Ending Series Book One
by Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue
After the Ending is the first book in the emotionally charged post-apocalyptic series, The Ending. It is currently ON SALE for only $0.99 to celebrate the release of the sequel, Into the Fire.
This book blitz is brought to you by Bewitching Book Tours. Be sure to visit all of the other participating blogs as well.
Description
The Virus spread. Billions died. The Ending began. We may have survived the apocalypse, but the Virus changed us.
When people started getting sick, “they” thought it was just the flu. My roommate, my boyfriend, my family … they’re all gone now. I got sick too. I should have died with them – with the rest of the world – but I didn’t. I thought witnessing the human population almost disappear off the face of the earth was the craziest thing I’d ever experience. I was so wrong. My name is Dani O’Connor, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.
The Virus changed everything. The world I knew is gone, and life is backwards. We’ve all had to start over. I’ve been stripped of my home, my dreams … all that is me. I’m someone else now – broken and changed. Other survivors’ memories and emotions haunt me. They invade my mind until I can no longer separate them from my own. I won’t let them consume me. I can’t. My name is Zoe Cartwright, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.
We’ve been inseparable for most of our lives, and now our friendship is all we have left. The aftermath of the Virus has stranded us on opposite sides of the United States. Trusting strangers, making sacrifices, killing – we’ll do anything to reach one another. Fear and pain may be unavoidable, but we’re strong … we’re survivors. But to continue surviving in this unfamiliar world plagued by Crazies and strange new abilities, we have to adapt. We have to evolve.
And more than anything, we have to find each other.
Excerpt
Eventually, sporting fresh pajamas and damp hair, I was again settled in the living room but on an unfamiliar couch.
“This isn’t my couch,” I said to no one in particular. I watched Jack as he stared forlornly at the clean kitchen floor. Someone had swept up the mountain of kibble and locked it away.
“Yes, well, yours was … unsuitable. We swapped it with one from an apartment down the hall. It’s not like they’ll be needing it anymore,” Chris explained, setting a glass of orange juice and a generous plate of breakfasty goodness on the coffee table in front of me.
I stared at the food but didn’t touch it, even though my stomach grumbled in need. Cam usually made me breakfast. “What d’you mean? Why won’t they need it?”
Chris halted her efforts to arrange a fuzzy blanket around my legs and looked at me with sharp, sky-blue eyes. Her expression melted into sympathy before she spoke. “Because they’re dead, hon. Most people are. I thought you knew.”
“I …,” I tried to speak, but my throat caught after the first sound. I shook my head.
Satisfied that I was covered and warm, Chris moved to the other side of the coffee table to sit in a large recliner – another item from the furniture shopping spree in my neighbor’s apartment.
“It was that damn Virus…we all had it … weeks ago,” Chris said, gesturing around the room even though it was empty of anyone but us. “Several days back, everyone in the world seemed to be infected. Now everyone’s pretty much dead. The rest are like you and me – Survivors. But as far as we can tell, we’re in the extreme minority.”
“I don’t understand,” I said, confusion creasing my brow. “This is impossible.”
“Not impossible. Just improbable … and really, really awful.”
Review
And just like that … I’m hooked on another series.
Quite exasperating, the way that happens so often! But this series … These characters …
After the Ending is quite unlike many of the other post-apocalyptic novels I’ve read recently. Yes, there is a virus, and yes, most of humanity perishes, and yes, there are small bands of survivors traveling the country in search of… well, something. Where this series trails off from the norm though, is in the fact that there are no zombies shambling around in your old backyard. There are survivors who have gone mad and are quite violent and scary, but they are also very much alive still, and able to be killed as any human would, very much unlike a zombie.
Fantastic story-telling, very likeable characters, great ideas! Looking forward to the next book in the series!!
About the Authors
Lindsey Fairleigh lives her life with one foot in a book – as long as that book transports her to a magical world or bends the rules of science. Her novels, from post-apocalyptic to time travel and historical fantasy, always offer up a hearty dose of unreality, along with plenty of adventure and romance. When she’s not working on her next novel, Lindsey spends her time reading and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She lives in the Napa Valley with her loving husband and confused cats. You can visit Lindsey’s blog.
Lindsey Pogue has always been a little creative. As a child she established a bug hospital on her elementary school soccer field, compiled books of collages as a teenager, and as an adult, expresses herself through writing. Her novels are inspired by her observations of the world around her – whether she’s traveling, people watching, or hiking. When not plotting her next storyline or dreaming up new, brooding characters, Lindsey’s wrapped in blankets watching her favorite action flicks or going on road trips with her own leading man. You can visit Lindsey’s website.
Links

"Come Little Children" by D. Melhoff

NEW RELEASE and GIVEAWAY
Come Little Children
by D. Melhoff
Come Little Children is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The author stops by today for an interview. You can also read my review. Please visit all of the other tour stops and enter the giveaway below.
Description
A hidden town. A paranormal rumor. A family secret.
After graduating from the mortuary program at Mount Royal University, Camilla Carleton moves to a secluded town in the northern Yukon for her first job at a family-run funeral home. Her new employers, however, are the town’s most controversial citizens, and when strange occurrences begin happening around the morgue – including late night visits from children who were thought to be dead – she won’t stop until she uncovers the truth behind these paranormal events.
But unraveling the funeral home’s secret is just the start. When Camilla is faced with life and death decisions of her own, she must fight to undo a horrific chain of events while struggling to outsmart a serial killer, save her family, and escape the morgue alive.
Book Trailer
Review

By Lynda Dickson

Camilla Carleton, a recently-graduated mortician, travels to the Yukon to start her first job in the Vincent Funeral Home, run by the strange members of the Vincent family. A soaking wet six year old boy shows up on the their doorstep on Camilla’s first night, but that is only the beginning of the strangeness. Camilla starts speculating about what’s going on, but none of her imaginary scenarios can possibly prepare her for what is happening in reality. What dark secrets is this family hiding?
When a tragic accident threatens to ruin her life, Camilla must make a difficult decision and put her trust in Peter, the youngest Vincent. This sets in motion a chain of events which will forever haunt her.
This story starts of slowly, but stick with it. Once the action starts, you won’t be able to stop reading. Full of gory details of dead bodies and morticians’ practices, this book is moody and atmospheric. It is also darkly humorous, as evidenced by the hilarious comedy of errors that nearly sees Camilla fired on her first day of work. Come Little Children is extremely well-written, and the author has an impressive vocabulary. I’ll be keeping an eye out for future works by this debut author.
Interview With the Author
Hi D. Melhoff, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, Come Little Children.
What age group do you recommend your book for?
Come Little Children is for 18 and up (mainly for violence and “mature situations”), but let’s get real. We were all reading that kind of stuff much earlier on, so I’d probably slip it to a 15- or 16-year-old and say, “Go for it.”
What sparked the idea for this book?
Drugs. Sort of.
I had jaw surgery a few years ago, and I was flat on my back for almost three weeks solid. One of those afternoons, I remember watching a TV special about the funeral business (or at least I thought I was watching a TV special, maybe it was a hallucination from all the painkillers) and it hit me that a morgue would make the perfect setting for a story I’d been kicking around for a while. Plus, I’ve always wanted to write about morticians, so the morphine gave me the extra push I needed.
Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?
It differs by project. In the case of Come Little Children, Camilla waltzed into my head out of nowhere, a fully formed image of a beautiful and intelligent mortician. The story was built around her.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
Getting the start of the book right was challenging. For one thing, I had to introduce this main character who has a very strange – and distinct – view of the world, as well as a sense of humor, while simultaneously taking readers to places they’ve never been before (the Yukon, the town of Nolan, a funeral home, etc.). When you have that many unfamiliar elements at the start of a novel, there’s not a lot of common ground that readers can draw on and use to form a clear image in their head, so you have to be careful you don’t lose them.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope they enjoy the thrill ride and realize that not all horror is purely about blood, guts, and gore – some of it is much more subtle. Consequently, I hope they go around recommending it to friends who might not usually read this genre.
I sure will! How long did it take you to write this book?
Two years, part time.
What is your writing routine?
6:15am – 8:00am – Wake up, get ready, commute to the office (I have some co-working space downtown)
8:00am – 8:15am – Deal with e-mails
8:15am – 12:00pm – Write, research, talk with editors and publishers
12:00pm – 12:30pm – Shovel lunch down my throat
12:30pm – 5:00pm – More writing, more researching, etc.
5:00pm – 8:00pm – Commute home. Eat, drink, and be merry.
8:00pm – 2:00am – Anyone’s guess. Sometimes I’ll take the evening off if I feel I’ve had a productive day, but most of the time my mind wanders back to my current project, so I’ll just keep writing. Personally, I like working late. There’s something special in the air when the rest of the continent goes to sleep and no one’s awake to bother you.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Take criticism as objectively as possible. Work in the good feedback; forget the trolls. Take breaks, but go hard and give your project as much time and attention as you can afford. At the same time, don’t stress about the aspects you can’t control.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Play chess and take in live theater. I wish I could say I’m a thrill-seeker in my personal life as well as my writing life, but alas, it isn’t so.
What does your family think of your writing?
Many of them died in a tragic fire, so thank you for bringing it up.
Only joking. They’re very supportive.
I never do know when you’re joking! Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
All right, Dr. Lecter. I grew up in a small city that has since turned into something of a ghost town. My mother is a psychiatric nurse and my father owns a brew pub (unfortunately, I had neither free alcohol nor therapy growing up), and my grandparents own a farm roughly ten miles north of the city limits.
My father was athletic in his day, so he tried to enroll me in every sport he enjoyed. Hockey, baseball, soccer – you name it. Sadly, I wasn’t very good at any of them. In fact, I stunk. I’d usually show up to the locker rooms with a book tucked under my arm, or find myself day-dreaming in the outfield during all my minor league baseball games (which is actually a good place to day-dream, seeing as kids at that age aren’t usually good enough to whack the ball past second base). My sports career ended around sixth grade, which is roughly the time I started writing.
Did you enjoy school?
I was good at school, and I enjoyed some classes, but I wouldn’t say I’m an academic. The only reasons I got good marks were because: 1) I have a good memory for facts, and 2) I’m comfortable with public speaking.
I graduated from university with high honors and great distinction, but oddly enough, I hate research and academic readings. Warning: If you want more on my perspective regarding the flaws of our current post-secondary system, we’ll need to start an entirely separate blog post.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
Absolutely. Anything by Roald Dahl, Robert Munsch, and R. L. Stine.
What was your favorite book as a child?
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I think I liked the idea of being a writer early on (high school), but it took a while to finally get there. I dabbled in screenplays and poetry in university, then eventually moved on to novels.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Sure, but don’t our childhoods influence everything we do? I guess far as direct influence – such as sticking certain settings and people into my books – I’d say yes, I probably draw on some inspiration from when I was little. But don’t get the wrong idea and think that my childhood household was anything like the Vincent Funeral Home.
I should hope not! Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
A lot of them finish my first book and immediately ask, “What’s next?” Which is a good sign, I guess. Most of them just like the posts on my Facebook page (#shameless_plug).
That said, what can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m currently working on a summer camp horror story, which I’m very excited about. Nothing paranormal in this one, just my own take on the classic “summer slasher” story (with a few new twists, of course).
Sounds great! Thanks so much for stopping by today. It’s been a pleasure.
Thank you for the interview.
About the Author
D. Melhoff was born in a prairie ghost town located an inch above the Canadian-American border. He credits King, Poe, Hitchcock, Harris, Raimi, and his second grade school teacher, Mrs. Lake, for turning him to horror.
Come Little Children is D. Melhoff’s first commercial release.


Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for your chance to win one of five paperback copies (US only) or one of five ebook copies of Come Little Children by D. Melhoff (international).
Links

"The Adventures of Zeppi #4: Greenback Town" by C. K. Omillin

ON SALE for $0.99
The Adventures of Zeppi #4Greenback Town
by C. K. Omillin
The Adventures of Zeppi: #4 Greenback Town written and illustrated by C. K. Omillin is ON SALE for only $0.99 (save $1.78) to 15 December. The Adventures of Zeppi #1: New Friends, #8: Trip to the Castle, and #9: Ghosts at the Castle are also ON SALE for $0.99 to 31 December. 
Description
How it all started …
On his way to Antarctica, a young penguin named Zeppi, falls off the delivery truck and finds himself trapped in his cage in the middle of the night. Abandoned on the side of the road, he misses his parents and fellow penguins. But Zeppi is brave and struggles to free himself from his cage. He makes his way into a backyard where he finds a place to shelter for the night.
The next morning Zeppi the penguin is found by a boy named Alesdor. He is the lonely boy who wished every night for a special friend since his neighbor and best friend moved to a faraway country
Zeppi the penguin loves the mall and his favorite shop is Kingdom of Toys. When he plays a joke on his friend Alesdor in the toy store, something unexpected happens and Zeppi needs a lot of courage to get himself out of this nasty situation.
Excerpt
“Zeppi, where are you?” Alesdor searched for him in the aisle.
Zeppi kept quiet. He thought it would be fun to play a joke on him. Hidden under the pink cat’s hat, he pretended he was a toy. He stopped breathing as his friend and Mia-Mom were seeking for him. Would Alesdor recognize him?
Book Trailer
Review
If you’ve ever dreamed, as a child, that a special pet would magically appear and you and he would have a magical life together, then you can well identify with young Alesdor and Zeppi, the little penguin who lives in a teepee in Alesdor’s garden. This is the fourth book detailing their adventures, this one in a department store where Alesdor almost loses Zeppi to an overzealous wildlife warden who, in some tense moments, tries to haul Zeppi off to the zoo. My inner child loves these stories. Yours will too. Highly recommended.
About the Author
Writer by day and artist by night and inspired by the world around us, bestselling author Charlotte Omillin loves creating the adventures of Zeppi the penguin.
Omillin believes we must do all we can to respect our environment and she weaves ecological tips through her stories.


Links

"Death of the Mad Hatter" by Sarah J. Pepper

NEW RELEASE and REVIEW
Death of the Mad Hatter
by Sarah J. Pepper
Death of the Mad Hatter by Sarah J. Pepper has just been released. You can read my review below. You can also join the Facebook online release party for your chance to win some great prizes.

Description
If the king loses his head, then the Queen with a Bleeding Heart would rule the Red Court until Time ceased to move forward. When a second carried on for infinity, every creature in Wonderland would tip their Hat to the misfit girl with a Boy’s name (or was it a boy with a Girl’s name?) who’d end the Reign of Terror. However, it all hinged on the One-Eyed Hare being able to convince an uninspirable Heir that the impossible was indeed possible – like stopping time – and that Love was worth a Beheading.
Heads would Roll…
Hearts would Break…
In the end, would it matter who Reigned?
Excerpt
The Queen of Hearts kissed the King one last time before the Joker ripped the King’s head from her hands and tossed it alongside the rest of his body. The queen’s personal guards picked up the pieces and clumsily carried the dead king out of sight.
No one spoke. Only the sound of a ticking clock interrupted the stunned silence of the night. Standing next to the pool of blood, the queen let a love-letter the king had written slip through her fingers. It made no noise as it cascaded to the floor.
Appearing out of thin air, a Cheshire kitten, affectionately named Chez, who was distinguished by his white and blue stripes, playfully pawed at the letter. Extending his claws, he shredded it. The queen did nothing. When the Joker bent over and reached for the remaining pieces of the letter, the kitten bit him, drawing blood. Chez’s hair stood on end as he guarded the letter.
“If you want to play dirty, may I suggest a play date, Chez?” the Joker asked, inspecting the bite mark. His voice was as innocent as a child, but the look in his beady eyes was that of a psychopath’s. “I have all sorts of modified toys collecting dust in the dungeon.”
“Don’t antagonize the Joker, Chez. He is a bit of a schizoid,” Hearts said, picking up the kitten. She stared at the pieces of the love-letter for so long that her eye twitched. “Burn it so that no one finds out that the king loved a seamstress.”
The Joker picked up the pieces and fisted them. The recipient of the letter showed through his fingers. Dearest Genevine — He held his hand up to his mouth and blew. Pieces of the letter flew into the air and burst into flames. They flickered and fell to the floor in a pile of ash.
“I’m required to scold you for leaving your sharp toys scattered all over, Joker. It’s a pity the king had to pay for your untidiness,” Hearts said, glancing at the guillotine that was drenched in the king’s blood.
“Then I shall only take out my biggest toys when you order me to do so… again,” the Joker said and winked. “Since this is a hush-hush operation, I assume you don’t want me to kill the seamstress? Oh! Or perhaps she could have a misfortunate accident as well?”
“No, that would be far too coincidental,” the queen said, as a matter-of-fact. “Keep her alive. Isn’t it fitting that she must live, knowing her lover is dead? Oh, and see to it that she never leaves Wonderland. Everything considered, she is still the most talented seamstress in the court, and I’ll need someone sew me a black dress to wear at King Edward’s funeral.”
***
The Jack prophesied: If the king loses his head, then the Queen with a Bleeding Heart would rule the Red Court until Time ceased to move forward. When a second carried on for infinity, every creature in Wonderland would tip their Hat to the misfit girl with a Boy’s name (or was it a boy with a Girl’s name?) who’d end the Reign of Terror. However, it all hinged on the One-Eyed Hare being able to convince an uninspirable Heir that the impossible was indeed possible—like stopping time—and that Love was worth a Beheading.
Heads would Roll…
Hearts would Break…
In the end, would it matter who Reigned?
“Reign of Terror—everyone acts like it’s a bad thing,” the Queen of Hearts said, reading the script that Jack, the prophesier, had scribbled on an ingredients page of a violet book entitled, Sweets for the Rabbit Hole Voyager. The Mad Hatter’s crest, M.H. and a top hat, was printed on the top of every odd number page inside the book.
Hearts tore the last stanza from the Bleeding Hearts Prophecy, crumpled it into a ball, and smashed it between the pages of The Lazy Killer’s Poisons, another of the Mad Hatter’s works.
What a silly notion—dying for love. Ugh! (Cue eye-roll)
However, the faux love of her life did “misplace” his head, and he was king, until today. These two happenstances made Hearts believe that the Bleeding Heart Prophecy was about her and that her head would roll. And furthermore, it always mattered who reigned!
She pushed both of the Mad Hatter’s editions back onto the shelf, but made sure the one about poison was flipped upside-down, just to see if any of her feline servants would notice the disarray of her library. With her hands behind her back, Hearts stepped down from her golden step stool and paced around the library, which was filled with more books than anyone could read in a single lifetime.
“I have no heirs,” Hearts said, thinking out loud. “But Robby will make a fuss about sitting on the throne if I don’t act in haste. I’ve never been fond of hares. Hence, it would behoove me to damage the reputation of all the rabbits in my court, just in case this Bleeding Hearts Prophecy holds some weight.”
Wandering aimlessly around her library, she spotted a speck of dust on the third shelf. She walked over to the fainting couch and rang a silver-plated bell. Quickly, a glaring of cats raced through the door. They stood at attention on a glittering line that Hearts drew years prior, when she still loved the king.
But, that was a long time ago.
All of the cats toed the line, except for the little Cheshire kitten, Chez. His butt was high in the air as it got ready to pounce on a hopping bug near the king’s personal chambers.
“It’s filthy in here,” Hearts said as she walked past each cat, giving them a look of severe disapproval. She stopped in front of a black cat whose tail fluttered whenever she passed. “You have forty eight seconds to remove the dust I located in this room, or you’ll spend a week in solitary confinement with the Joker.”
In a panic, the cats raced around the polished library, frantic to locate the speck of dust that the queen spotted. The smaller cats flipped onto their backs and let the bigger cats use their furry bodies as dust rags. In the meantime, the queen collapsed onto a golden couch. The Cheshire kitten, who missed the formation on the glitter line, pounced on the cushion beside her. A feisty grasshopper wiggled in his mouth.
“What did you bring me, Chez?”
Chez dropped the grasshopper on the queen’s lap. The bug wore a tiny dress coat with the King’s initials and a torn heart on them: E.E. The bug wheezed, which made the kitty’s incisive purr grow louder.
Chez pawed at the grasshopper and said, “I found this creepy-crawly snooping around in rooms where it didn’t belong, like the king’s chamber.”
“Spare me from this vile kitten, my Queen! I did nothing wrong,” the grasshopper begged. He held up a miniature violin and a mangled rod. “I was only near the king’s chambers tonight because he enjoys my music before resting. I barely cracked his bedroom door when this feline attacked me! The king would never allow such behavior; so unbecoming!”
Hearts petted Chez behind his ears and talked in a baby voice when addressing the grasshopper. “Haven’t you heard? The king had a terrible misfortune earlier this evening.”
Every single cat in the library skidded to a halt. Their eyes glowed in the darkness of the night. The grasshopper swallowed noticeably hard.
“The Joker’s guillotine broke his fall,” Chez said.
“Accidental beheading,” the queen recited. “I was beside myself with horror as it happened. I’ve already spoken to the Joker about leaving his toys around. It shall never happen again.”
“Eddie, the King of Hearts, is not clumsy,” the grasshopper said and cleared his throat. He glanced at the other cats. One shook his head ‘no’ like it was a plea for the bug not to disagree with the queen, but the grasshopper didn’t listen. “Eddie would never have accidentally tripped on the weapon.”
“Are you calling me a liar, grasshopper?” Hearts spat.
“I’m saying that Eddie was not clumsy,” the grasshopper said, nervously.
Hearts’ cheeks were beat red. She was panicking.
“Edward, not Eddie,” Chez corrected, “tripped over me and fell onto the Joker’s big boy toy.”
“That’s right!” the queen said, giving Chez a quick pat on his head.
“That’s not what I saw when I was on my way to play for the king,” the grasshopper said and then slapped his hand over his mouth.
“Did you see something to contradict my claim?” Hearts lowered her face so that she and the grasshopper were eye-level.
The grasshopper shook his head. The more visibly his legs trembled, the wider the queen’s smile grew.
“Leave us, my glaring,” Hearts demanded. “The grasshopper and I have much to discuss regarding this unfortunate accident.”
The cats scampered out of the library, leaving Chez behind. The grasshopper’s eyes darted to the exit when the last cat locked the door behind it.
“Well, the King might have tripped over an unsuspecting kitten right before the Joker lost his grip on the guillotine rope, but Edward took the risk of death when he broke my heart!” The queen blinked away a nonexistent tear. “Edward wanted to leave me and our so-called loveless marriage, for a seamstress! Leave me? For a seamstress? Can you imagine my humiliation?”
The grasshopper took off hopping toward a window that overlooked the room belonging Edward’s brother.“Robby! Robby! Help me!”
“Sic him, Chez!” the queen ordered.
Chez disappeared, only to reappear on the windowsill. The kitten flicked out his claws. He slashed the red drape, allowing the moon’s light to shine through. It glistened on Chez’s claws. After jumping off the windowsill, Chez circled the injured grasshopper. When he came to face with the grasshopper, he got down on all fours. His butt went up in the air as he fixated on the grasshopper with blood thirsty eyes.
The grasshopper gulped and with his last breath, he shouted, “Hearts killed him, Robby! She pushed him over Chez so he’d land on the guillotine! Long live the rightful king, Robby Edg—!”
Book Trailer
Review
The Queen of Hearts beheads her husband, King Edward, after finding out he has been having an affair with the Seamstress. Because of the Jack’s prophesy, the Queen is now on the lookout for a boy with a girl’s name (Ryley) or a girl with a boy’s name (Alice, also known as Al) who will bring about the end of her reign. Alternately told from Ryley’s and Alice’s points-of-view in the present and through Alice’s past visits to Wonderland, we slowly piece the story together. It’s a puzzle worth solving.
Even though it’s inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, this is a highly original story, full of dark humor, nonsense, quirky characters, and riddles. It is a fine tribute to Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The main character is even named after Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for his Alice, Alice Mae Liddell. There are a few minor editing errors but, overall, the author’s writing style makes this book a pleasure to read. I loved the dynamic between Ryley (a normal high school student) and the eccentric Alice, and I especially liked the description of Ryley’s and Alice’s first kiss. This is definitely an author to watch.
From the Author
I specialize in dark, paranormal romance – think “happy ever after” but with a twisted, dark chocolate center. Real-life romance isn’t only filled with hugs, kisses, unicorns, and rainbows. True-love can be more thoroughly described in times of darkness and tribulation. It’s in those harsh moments where you see what a person is truly capable of – both the good and bad. Sometimes prince-charming isn’t always on time, and the glass slipper is a little snug. However, it doesn’t mean Charming is not Mr. Right, and who says every shoe is the perfect fit?
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