Friday, February 28, 2014

Review of 'Two Degrees From Zero' by M.J. Stewart

Two Degrees From Zero
by M.J. Stewart


Thirteen-year-old Derek’s cool snowboard adventure does a dangerous rewind, because his Burton Hero board holds the key to an unsolved crime.

Two Degrees From Zero is a story that opens up the world of snowboarding and surviving hazardous winter conditions in Keystone, Colorado.

Derek, his mom, and teen friend Janae (The Clan) are invited on a snowboarding vacation by his mom’s new romance Thomas. A blizzard hits during a sleigh ride and dinner at an isolated yurt miles from Keystone. The Clan accepts an offer from two arrogant snowmobilers for a way home. But to The Clan's dismay instead of going home, they are abandoned in a creepy backwoods cabin.

Derek and Janae sneak out of the old cabin and make a dangerous trek across a white wilderness to find help while the snowmobilers are on the loose. Just as the teens find temporary shelter in an old car, another blizzard rages all night, leaving them hopelessly stranded. And their adventure has only begun.

Derek and Janae must escape the frozen ravages of the blizzard. Derek’s determination to save The Clan while outwitting the thieves is unstoppable. And the thieves are just as determined to find Derek’s snowboard because of the valuable information hidden on the board.

Read an excerpt:
Shelter for the evening appeared in the form of an abandoned car hunkered in the deep snow.

“What the heck?” As he got a better look, the form reminded him of his family’s old car—the Pontiac his dad owned as a young man. And the same metallic blue gleamed in the setting sun.

Derek did an awkward happy dance on one foot. “Looky-look. Maybe our luck is changing. The miracle we needed.” Shelter from the biting wind, relief for his swollen ankle, and a place to rest his aching muscles.

Janae burst out in shrill laughter. “If we can get the doors open, we can drive home.”

But the more Derek checked out the car, the more his heart sank. I can’t do this, I can’t. Suddenly, his feeling of relief turned to anger, and emotions overtook his tired, weak mind. He stepped backward and turned from the car.

“What’s wrong now?” Janae asked.

“I can’t do this.”

“Can’t do what?” Janae asked.

“That car. It’s just like my dad’s old car. I can’t get in,” Derek said. He froze in his tracks like a marble statue a few feet away.

“I don’t understand. What is your problem. We’re kinda desperate, and we don’t have a choice. We’ll be in trouble tonight if we don’t have shelter,” Janae reminded him.

“You can sleep inside, but I’m not. I’ll have nightmares about him again. I can’t,” Derek said.

**My thoughts**

I found the beginning of the book a little confusing, as Derek first started to interact with the thieves and the Clan was taken to the abandoned cabin in the remote woods. I had a hard time believing that Derek's mom would allow for the kids to ride off with strangers, no matter how much they wanted to get back to their hotel. Once Derek and Janae took off to try to find help, I was able to get into the story.

Derek is an absolute mess, because he has never been able to forgive himself for the part he feels he played in his father's death. He is still angry and takes it out on everyone around him. When he and Janae take off in the wee hours to try to find help, he is seeking vindication and trying to make up for his past. You want to smack the kids for being stupid and taking off without telling the adults, but are glad that they have each other. Janae really is a good friend to Derek. 

It is also interesting to read about how they try to survive out in the wilderness. It's a good springboard for conversations about what you should and shouldn't do if you ever get stranded out in the snow. 

If you're looking for a story that is about the sport of snowboarding, this is not going to be the right book for you, despite the subtitle. A snowboarding adventure does set this story into motion, but is not the main focus of the book.

Available on Amazon

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

M.J. Stewart is a Colorado author and lives in Colorado Springs. Her love for the outdoors has provided many exciting adventures and include downhill skiing, biking, hiking, camping, and nature photography.

I'm on Facebook at:

I'm on Twitter at: @hike4ski

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Meet Aldred Chase, author of 'Dragon's Fool'

What was the inspiration behind this series?
I’m fascinated by the history of theatre and I thought it would be interesting to base a story around a troupe of strolling players in a medieval setting. I was also inspired by the legend of Robin Hood. My hero would stand up and fight for the downtrodden people in an unjust society, and no matter how bad the situation became, he would never admit defeat. The final strand was that I wanted a hero who would be fun to write. I made my hero, Keth, a boy who was an energetic, impulsive risk-taker with a sharp wit and a flair for getting into trouble.
Can they be read out of order or as stand-alones?
Although the books can be read as stand-alones, I think it is more enjoyable to read them in order. The characters and their relationships between each other grow and develop over the series of books and it is fun to take that journey with them.
Which character has spoken to you the most?
The books are written in the first person and I feel a strong connection with my hero, Keth. I tend to be thoughtful and cautious whereas Keth is an impulsive risk-taker, and I find it exhilarating to experience the world through his eyes. I admire his resilience. He makes mistakes and he has setbacks, but he never gives in.
What is one of your favorite scenes?
I can’t tell you my favorite scene in Dragon’s Fool because it would give away a big chunk of the story in advance. My favorite scene in the quartet happens early in Apprentice Fool, book one of the series, when Keth hides from the Prince’s guards in a costume hamper and is discovered on stage by Ma’s troupe of traveling players. The scene is funny but with an edge of danger, and it develops in an unexpected way.
What is so appealing about writing fantasy for middle grade readers?
Writing fantasy lets me give free-rein to my imagination. The stories can be inventive, humorous and playful, while at the same time they can tackle big, important issues. Children at middle grade age are full of potential, and it’s exciting to write stories about characters that are discovering who they are in the world.
Why do middle grade readers gravitate to this genre?
It’s a wonderful feeling having vivid new worlds open up inside your head. Also, the challenges that characters face of taking responsibility, making difficult choices and understanding their world are played out in dramatic life and death situations, but they mirror those challenges that the reader faces in their own life
What were some of your favorite books in the middle grade years?
My favorite books were Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit and ‘The Lord of the Rings’. The feeling of having such a richly imagined new world open up inside my head was exhilarating. I loved all of Roald Dahl’s children’s books, especially ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. My favorite series was the ‘Just William’ books by Richmal Crompton. I liked the way that William, with the best intentions in the world, always managed to get himself into trouble, and I think a little of that has rubbed off onto my hero Keth.
On what projects are you currently working?
I’ve begun writing a series of scary books set in our contemporary world. One challenge with a scary story is choosing the right level of terror. Where should my story sit on a scale of ‘mild tingle of fear while reading’ to ‘I’m not going to switch off my bedroom light for the next three years’?
What advice do you have for young, aspiring writers?
Write because you love it. The act of writing should be its own reward. Don’t get too hung up about sales and critical recognition.
While you should work hard to improve your writing skills, you should take at least ten minutes every day to write for pleasure, keeping your pen moving or your fingers tapping, and not judging the quality of what you write.
I’m writing a series of posts on my website entitled ‘Writing for Fun’ where I explore these ideas.
What can we find you doing when not writing?
I enjoy watching plays and movies; any form of storytelling draws me in. I like to travel, especially long distance train journeys. The planning is almost as much fun as the trip.
What may readers be surprised to learn about you?
My first love was numbers rather than words and I have a degree in mathematics. In the back of my mind I have an idea for a middle-grade book that weaves mathematical concepts into the story.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Apprentice Fool, the first book in the series, is available free and is a great way to get into the series.
Thank you so much for your time!
Thank you for inviting me, Andi.

Dragon's Fool, Book Four of the Nobody's Fool Quartet
by Aldred Chase



Keth has become the most powerful person in the city of Russett. He is both Prince Dawyn's fool and his most trusted adviser. The secret of Keth's success is listening to the tart, sour comments that the turnip on the end of his fool's stick pours into his mind, which no one else can hear.

When an earthquake strikes Russett, it is only the first in a series of disasters to devastate the city. Superstitious folk say that these are signs that a dragon is coming and only the golden prince of legend can save them. Keth's turnip tells him that these are only natural events and dragons don't exist, but he can use peoples' fears to his own advantage.

In the ruined city, Keth has to decide who he will trust and what he will believe. The fate of his friends and the survival of the land depend on the choices he makes.

Dragon's Fool is book four in the Nobody's Fool Quartet, the gripping climax to a tale of comedy and adventure.

Read an excerpt:
The roar of the water was now deafening. It had wiped out all the other sounds. Urchin and Grub had got hold of Wilbert’s arms and Smiley and Bead were clinging to them to stop them toppling over, but Wilbert was too heavy for them to drag up. Wilbert’s foot pushed down against my shoulder but he didn’t have the strength to boost himself up. My last view before the water engulfed me was going to be of Wilbert’s bum.

I had an idea. I raised my turnip stick. I wedged the turnip head against Wilbert’s backside. I shoved hard. Wilbert shot up. The others hauled him on to the roof tiles. I climbed up after him.

“I hate you,” Turnip said inside my head. “I’m glad you’re going to drown.”

I scrambled onto the corner of the roof. Urchin, Grub and Smiley were crawling up to the ridge of the roof. Wilbert was lying, gasping like a stranded fish and clutching his bum. Bead was kneeling over him, checking he was okay.

From up here, I had a much better view of the wave than I wanted. A great wall of water swept towards us with terrible purpose. It ripped up the wooden pier beyond the stone quay and tossed the timbers high in the air. It blasted over the top of the city wall and collapsed the buildings on the other side as though they were made of paper.

Buy links

For readers who would like to begin the series from the beginning, Apprentice Fool, book one of the Nobody’s Fool Quartet, is available free at Amazon in the USA, Canada, and UK, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo and Barnes and Noble

AUTHOR Bio and Links: 

Aldred Chase’s first experience of fantasy fiction was reading ‘The Hobbit’ at school, and he has been hooked on the genre ever since. His favorite places for writing are cafes and park benches, but he does most of his work sitting at his desk. His best ideas come to him when he is travelling by train or walking by the sea. Aldred has just released Dragon’s Fool, the final installment of the Nobody’s Fool Quartet, a tale of adventure and comedy with some scary bits, aimed at children age 9 to 12. He vacated his desk to give his brain and keyboard a rest, but during a recent train ride the idea for his next novel arrived, and the desk is calling him back. 


Aldred’s website: 
Aldred on Facebook:

Aldred will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

'Purple Girl' by Audrey Kane Super Book Blast!

The Purple Girl

by Audrey Kane and illustrated by Tory and Norman Tabor



CAUTION! Violet lives within the pages of this book. And her purple spreads to everything she touches…

Violet lives behind garden walls. Is she magical? Is she the devil’s child—or simply cursed? When the lonely thirteen-year-old embarks on a dangerous journey to find the one boy that dared to befriend her, she travels at the keep people from seeing her purple skin. But no one is more surprised than Violet when she unlocks her mysterious gift.

Read an excerpt:
This is how the story was told to me.

When the midwife brought me into the world, she let out a scream. Hands trembling, she swaddled me in a white blanket, leaving only a small opening so I could breathe. She refused to let my mother see me until my father appeared and stood by her side. Purple mist seeped through the white blanket, staining the midwife’s fingers.

“God help us all. This baby is cursed!” the midwife cried, thrusting me into my father’s arms. She grabbed a rag and tried to scrub the stains off her hands.

As my father unwrapped me, the color drained from his face. My mother, weak from the delivery, reached toward him...or perhaps to me.

“What’s wrong?” After a moment, he held me up.

My mother wailed when she saw her purple baby.

My father turned away from her and laid me in the cradle, far from my mother, his fingers shaking as he bundled me in the plum-colored blanket. He remained silent, wiping his purple stained palms on his pants. The stains wouldn’t stay on him forever... only a few moments...but he didn’t know that then.

“Oh, Samuel,” my mother sobbed. “How did this happen?”

My father gazed into my eyes, and when he finally spoke, his voice broke.

“We’ll call her Violet.” He stroked a tuft of my lavender hair and sank to his knees.

Available on Amazon

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

As a writer, and also a designer of tapestries with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Georgia, it is only natural for Audrey to weave visual stories. When she is not designing tapestries, she is busy conjuring up characters that find themselves in extraordinary situations. Between carpools and design work, she is plotting, scheming, writing, and revising. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, their three children, and her unruly dog, Rascals. Audrey's favorite time to write is in the early morning while her family sleeps. With Rascals sprawled out snoring beside her, it only takes one oversized cup of coffee to get her mind moving.

Audrey is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. She loves traveling, museums, and blackberry-apple pie. Actually, she loves all kinds of pie. And she especially loves her family. They have put up with Violet and Waxy for a long time. You can visit her at:



Audrey will be awarding a $20 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $15 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn host. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

Monday, February 17, 2014

'Spartanica (The Survivors of Sapertys)' by Powers Molinar Book Tour Blast!


Book Tour

Ty and Marcus Mitchell are average middle school brothers growing up north of Chicago until one night when they’re hurtled through an inter-dimensional gateway to a parallel world defined by its multiple moons and planet-wide apocalypse. As they struggle to figure out where they are and how to get home, the boys encounter refugees of “the last day” from the distant city of Atlantis and a mysterious girl called Bellana, the sole survivor and resident of the devastated city of Spartanica. Ty and Marcus soon learn they only have seven days to get home. But before they can leave, they must battle through long-extinct predators, track down the elusive Professor Otherblood, and rescue a new friend from certain death. Is all of this insanity just Ty’s overactive imagination or are the brothers truly on the brink of being stranded on the brutal wasteland known as Spartanica?


Amazon | B&N | Smashwords | Kobo | Sony Books | CreateSpace

Author Bio:

Powers Molinar grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago and earned engineering and business degrees at the University of Iowa. While he works as a process engineer and project manager during the day, his passion is writing science fiction. His first novel, Spartanica, is the culmination of several year's of part-time effort mostly late at night and on weekends when he wasn't enjoying time with his wife and kids, all of whom were big helpers getting Spartanica written.

Powers believes every kid has the potential to become exceptional. In addition to being a blast to read, he truly hopes his books spark kids' imaginations and inspire them to read more and maybe even become writers. Being a solid reader is a foundational piece of leading an exceptional life. Powers hopes his books can be part of that foundation for as many kids as possible.

Follow Powers: Twitter | Facebook

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

'Glitter Girl' by Toni Runkle and Stephen Webb Book Giveaway from Taking Time for Mommy


About Glitter Girl -
  • True Confessions of a Trendsetter
Hi! I’m Kat. Welcome to my blog. I may be from a small town but I’m also Glitter Girl Cosmetics’ newest trendsetter. Thanks to my flair for fashion and my popular style blog, I’ve been chosen to be an Alpha Girl, which means I get to try out all the Glitter Girl products before they hit the stores. 

Forty-eight hours after she blogs about the goodies in the new line, every girl at Kat’s school is sporting the gear. Kat’s popularity skyrockets, but Jules–Kat’s BFF–seems to be the only one who’s not buying into the Glitter Girl lifestyle. Is Kat willing to sacrifice her friendship for life in the fab lane?

Glitter Girl By Toni Runkle and Stephen Webb

Ages 10 and up

Purchase Paperback or Kindle version

Toni Runkle and Stephen Webb are both working screenwriters in Los Angeles. They met in grad school at the University of Southern California and have been writing partners since. They are both married (not to each other) and have middle-grade daughters. Find them online: @kidslitwebb @writtenbytoni. Toni also run the popular mom blog,

Taking Time for Mommy is sponsoring a giveaway of one paperback of Glitter Girl. Open to US addresses 13+
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