The King’s Ransom by Cheryl Carpinello – My Review!!

The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table) – My Review!!

King's Ransom Cover

 

King Arthur and the legends surrounding him and the Knights of the Round Table are fascinating. Cheryl Carpinello combined the legendary figure with the coming of age story of three friends in her book The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table), and I had to add it to my reading list. Here are my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author): Three Friends. Three Quests. Three Mysterious Predictions

In medieval Wales, eleven-year-old Prince Gavin, thirteen-year-old orphan Philip, and fifteen-year-old blacksmith’s apprentice Bryan are brought together in friendship by one they call the Wild Man. When an advisor to the king is killed and a jewelled medallion is stolen from the king’s treasury, the Wild Man is accused of the theft and murder. Filled with disbelief at the arrest of the Wild Man, the three friends embark upon a knight’s quest to save their friend’s life. To succeed, the three must confront their fears and insecurities, and one of them will have to disclose the biggest secret of all.

What I liked: Adding a coming of age twist to the King Arthur era was a neat storyline to me. Gavin, Philip, and Bryan all have different fears to confront, and each handled their quest bravely. The idealism each displayed was inspiring, and there was enough action and intrigue to keep my attention. In addition, a few interesting secrets sets the stage for a good story. Lastly, although written for ages 9-12, I enjoyed the read!

What I didn’t like: The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Roundtable) had a few predictable parts, especially during the three quests. Additionally, although I liked the characters, they were a bit clichéd.

Overall impression: The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table) by Cheryl Carpinello captured the essence of the King Arthur legends and the idealism embodied in the stories. Good characters, nice plot twists, and a few surprises make the book is an excellent read for ages 9-12 (or anyone who simply enjoys a good book!

My rating: 5 Stars

Have your or your children read The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table)? If not, consider adding it to your list! If so, please consider leaving a review. It only takes a few minutes and means a lot to the authors! While you’re surfing around, stop by Cheryl Carpinello’s Amazon Author page or her website and check out all her books!

Speaking of surfing around, why not head over to the socials and connect with me? I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Of course, you can email me at bill@williamlstuart.com, too. And, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog so you won’t miss a post!

Dragon Lightning (Dragon Dreamer Book 2) by J.S. Burke – My Review!!

Dragon Lightning – My Review!!

Dragon Lightning Cover

I read J. S. Burke’s first book about dragons and octopuses (Dragon Dreamer) a while back. When she released Dragon Lightning (Dragon Dreamer Book 2), it hit my TBR list immediately. As a bonus, J. S. Burke is a Georgia author, so I got to read another of my fellow authors. Here is my review!

Synopsis (from the author): Dragon Lightning is a stand-alone book and the second in The Dragon Dreamer series. It’s a fast-paced adventure with flying dragons, an undersea world, and unlikely friendships. This science fantasy is layered for readers age 9 to adult.

Drakor seems like a normal young ice dragon with a talent for making lightning swords. But he alone feels the changing heart of his island Volcano. It destroyed his beloved sire. Now he foresees their doom, but none will listen. As he seeks proof, the Volcano shakes him off into the frozen sea . . .

Arak was mocked as a worthless dreamer until he and Scree, a fearless undersea misfit, saved the dragons. Now dragons and octopi sail north in search of mythical ice dragons. They find Drakor and a terrifying reality. When Scree enters the abyss to check his volcano, she discovers everyone is in peril. Can this crew of unlikely friends save three realms?

What I liked: Dragon Lightning was an excellent book! The familiar heroes from Dragon Dreamer return with new adventures starting with the search for the ice dragons of legend. Arak and Scree grow as characters and Drakor adds an interesting twist. The undersea science woven throughout provides cool information, and the trials faced by the unlikely friends entertained me. All in all, a good read!

What I didn’t like: I had a couple of minor issues with Dragon Lightning. First, Drakor stuttered at times, and didn’t at others. It seemed inconsistent. Secondly, the battle between Drakor and his leader was too predictable. Other than that, no complaints from me!

Overall impression: Dragon Lightning (Dragon Dreamer Book 2) by J.S. Burke was a great read. Written for ages 9 and above, I enjoyed the characters’ growth, the science behind the story, and the story itself. If you like dragons, octopuses, and the occasional squid, this is a book for you! I recommend it to any and all science fantasy readers!

My rating: 5 Stars

Have you added Dragon Lightning (Dragon Dreamer Book 2) to your TBR list? I hope so! Once you’ve read it, please consider leaving a review. Reviews let authors know what the reader’s think and how their work impacts readers. While you are leaving the review, check out J. S. Burke’s Amazon Author page and her website and say hi!

As always, if you want to leave me a comment on my review, please do! And, if you want to connect on the socials, find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. You can also email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. Remember to subscribe to the blog so you won’t miss a post!

The Star Realm by Julie Elizabeth Powell – My Review!!

The Star Realm – My Review!!

The Star Realm Cover

As a fantasy author, I’m constantly on the lookout for that genre. When Amazon recommended The Star Realm by Julie Elizabeth Powell, I gave it a shot. Read on for my review!

Synopsis (from the author): What would you do if you were called to another world…a world filled with seemingly impossible things?

Faced with this choice, Davie, Ben, Anne, Chrissie and Billy embark upon a mysterious quest, finding themselves transported to the spectacular and extraordinary world of Avalon, whereupon they are catapulted into one of the uncountable heptagonal pieces that make up the magical sphere of the Orb of Caprice…namely, the Star Realm question remains…will Time be on their side?

What I liked: The Star Realm has all the elements in place for a great story. 5 friends embarking on a great quest, danger lurking around every corner, help from unexpected places, and a satisfying conclusion made the book an enjoyable read. I liked the talking flowers and the various challenges the children accepted. The goblins were my favorite characters!

What I didn’t like: My dislikes included some of the dialogue, especially from Billy, which was difficult for me to follow. Billy’s constant food obsession irritated me. Lastly, I never really understood Ezrin’s reason for choosing the children for the quest.

Overall impression: I think this book would appeal to middle grade readers and maybe very young teens. The Star Realm has fun characters, touches on many of the issues in the world today, and enough action and adventure to hold the reader’s attention.

My rating: 3.5 Stars (rounded to 4 stars)

What do you think? Will you  read The Star Realm by Julie Elizabeth Powell? I think you should give it a chance. Visit Julie’s Amazon author page to see the rest of her books (and maybe buy 1 or 2)!

Do you like my reviews? If so (or if not), leave me a comment and let me know. If you would rather, send me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. And, don’t forget to connect with me on the socials! I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. If you don’t want to miss a post, subscribe to the blog! I enjoy meeting new friends!!

Reflections of 2016 – My Year in Reviews!!

Reflections of 2016 – My Year in Reviews!!

Now that Christmas and New Year’s Eve have come and gone, I wanted to spend a few minutes reflecting on 2016 and the books I read. I didn’t read and review as much in 2016 as I did in 2015, and I need to do a better job in 2017. Still, in keeping with my belief that writers want to know what readers think about their work, I managed to read and review 32 books last year. Without further ado, here is a roll call of my reviews from 2016!

January 2016:

I started 2016 with my review of The Ruby of Helios by Scott Larson. This book is the 3rd installment of the Scepter series. If you are looking for a good fantasy series, check out this one!

Reflections Ruby of Helios Cover

I discovered many new authors last year. One of my favorites was Tamie Dearen. I read the first book of her Alora YA fantasy series aptly titled Alora: The Wander – Jewel and gave it 5 stars!

Reflections Alora Cover

Iron Mike by Patricia Rose rounded out my January 2016 reads. Aliens and the dystopian aftermath of an invasion of Earth entertained me!

Reflections Iron Mike

 

February 2016:

My February reviews kicked off with a cool YA fantasy from L. R. W. Lee called Blast of the Dragon’s Fury. Book 1 of the Andy Smithson series, it was a blast to read!

Reflections Blast of the Dragon's Fury Cover

Tacenda by Christine Vann was the next February read. A sci-fi novel with a unique set of characters made this an interesting read.

Reflections Tacenda Cover

February’s last book was Blott (The Canvas Chronicles Book 1) by Daniel Parsons. I thought the concept of this novel was brilliant and enjoyed the read immensely!

Reflections Blott Cover

 

March 2016:

I was happy to read a short prequel to Doug J. Cooper’s Crystal Series as my first book in March. I read the first 2 books of the series in 2015, and Crystal Horizon gave me more background on the characters. Give this series a try if you like sci-fi!

Reflections Crystal Horizons Cover

Switching reading gears, I picked up the second book in Terry Maggert’s Halfway Witchy series. Book 2 is Halfway Bitten and was a wholly satisfying read!

Reflections Halfway Bitten Cover

 

April 2016: 

April found me reading outside my normal fantasy genre starting with Lorrie Farrelly’s DangerousWhile romance novels aren’t my thing, this book is a Reader’s Favorite selection, so give it a try!

Reflections Dangerous Cover

I moved to another genre to wrap up April. This time, a thriller by Bill Ward finished out a month. Deception (Powell Book 3) was a good read. My only regret was that I didn’t start with Book 1 so I had a better feel for the characters!

Reflections Deception Cover

 

May 2016:

Greek mythology inspired my first May read. Author C B Pratt created Eno the Thracian as a Hero for Hire and The Stone Gods  is the second book in the series. I completely enjoyed Eno’s second adventure and look forward to reading more!

Reflections The Stone Gods Cover

I wandered back to the fantasy genre and was pleased to be able to finish David Wind’s amazing series Tales of Nevaeh. The third and final book is Trinity: The Battle for Nevaeh. As with the first two, it didn’t disappoint! Read this one if fantasy is your thing!

Reflections Trinity Cover

My fantasy reading continued with the second book of Laura DeBruce’s YA fantasy series The Quicksilver Legacy. The Temple of Paris was a good read and I’ll be reading the next installment!

Reflections The Temple of Paris Cover

 

June 2016:

Paranormal romance isn’t normally my thing, but Jada Ryker’s Carr-Maah Consulting Agency series seemed like a good place to give the genre a try. Dog Days of Karma was a pleasant surprise!

Reflections Dog Days of Karma Cover

I returned to fantasy for Andi O’Connor’s SilevethielAn excellent start for The Vaelinel Trilogy!

Reflections Silevethiel Cover

Readers of this blog know I have a thing for mysterious things and conspiracy theories. I think Bigfoot falls into the category and I also read my first Bigfoot-inspired novel in June. Revived (Snoqualmie Valley Sasquatch Book 1) by J. M. Northup was an interesting read and one that I recommend to Bigfoot (or Sasquatch, if you prefer) enthusiasts!

Reflections Revived Cover

 

July 2016:

July brought another first for me – English cozy mysteries. Point of No Return by Diana J. Febry was my first read in the genre. While not my favorite genre, it was nice to branch out and explore something new.

Reflections Point of No Return Cover

Though I read mostly Indie authors now, occasionally I return to the traditionally published authors I’ve read for years. In June 2016, I attended a Brad Thor book signing and picked up Foreign Agent. Brad Thor’s event was excellent and he is a nice guy. The book was great, too!

Reflections Brad Thor Foreign Agent Cover

 

August 2016:

The second book of the Ben Whittle series started August for me. Eyes of the Accused by Mark Tilbury continues the excellent (though dark) thriller mysteries!

Reflections Eyes of the Accused Cover

Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat from the Past got me back to the fantasy genre. Written by Paul Cude, this engaging start to the Bentwhistle the Dragon series was a fun and refreshing read!

Reflections Bentwhistle Cover

I stayed in the fantasy genre for my next read. Mary Anne Yarde’s The Du Lac Chronicles follows Lancelot Du Lac’s descendants and their battles. Good stuff!

Reflections The Du Lac Chronicles Cover

In yet another first, I reviewed a non-fiction book. Written by Daniel Parsons (remember my Blott review above), #Art of Twitter provides valuable insights into using Twitter to grow your author (or other creative) platform and meaningfully connect with others on social media.

Reflections #Art of Twitter Cover

 

September 2016:

Jada Ryker made my TBR list for September with the second Carr – Maah Consulting Agency book Equi Knocks of Karma. As with the first book, this was a fun read!

Reflections Equi Knocks of Karma Cover

Gordon Brewer’s Shield of Skool was my final September book. An old school (no pun intended) fantasy that is a good start to the Clovel Sword Chronicles, give this one a try if fantasy is your genre!

Reflections Shield of Skool cover

 

October 2016:

Artifact by K. T. Bowes was a different book for me. Again a romance, but with distinct New Zealand and English roots. Different, but an excellent story!

Reflections Artifact Cover

I’ve read a few of Jada Ryker’s books and when I found out her novel Take the Body and Run was a candidate for the Kindle Scout Program, I wanted to read it and cast my vote! As with her other books, I completely enjoyed the story!

Reflections Take the Body and Run Cover

November 2016:

To start November, I went back to the fantasy world and read Vanna Smyth’s Protector (Anniversary of the Veil Book 1). Another good start to a series I will continue!

Reflections Protector Coer

Doug Cooper released the 4th book of his Crystal Series and it went straight to the TBR list. Crystal Rebellion was an excellent continuation of the story!

Reflections crystal rebellion cover

 

December 2016:

December was a busy month, but I managed to get a few reviews in to end the year. I started with Suzanne Burke’s Acts Beyond Redemption. A disturbing dark thriller filled with twists and turns, it held my attention for sure!

Reflections Acts Beyond Redemption Cover

A friend challenged me to once again read outside my favorite genre. Challenge accepted and I read Lorrie Farrelly’s action romance The Guardian’s Angel. As with Lorrie’s other books, this one was an entertaining read!

Reflections The Guardian's Angel Cover

The third book of Terry Maggert’s Halfway Witchy series caught my eye and I wasn’t disappointed. Halfway Hunted was a wonderful addition to the collection!

Reflections Halfway Hunted Cover

My last review for 2016 was Dragon Dreams (The Chronicles of Shadow and Light Book 1) by Dusty Lynn Holloway. Dragons, elves, and the fate of the world makes this the start of a good series I will continue to read!

So, there you have it. My reviews for 2016. Despite not reading as much as 2015, I will strive to do better this year. Join me and review the books you read. The reviews don’t have to be long involved analyses. Simply saying things like “I enjoyed this book and recommend it to others” is sufficient. I know I enjoy discovering what readers think of my work and I do my best to return the favor to other authors!

Do you have recommendations for me to add to my TBR list? If so, leave them in a comment, or send them to me in email at bill@williamlstuart.com. You can also connect with me on the socials and tell me there. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. If you don’t want to miss a post, subscribe to the blog!

Happy New Year and happy reading!

 

 

 

 

 

Book Marketing Update – New Sites I have Discovered!

I wanted to provide a book marketing update on some new sites (at least new to me) that I have discovered and how things are going on the marketing front. I hope some of this will be helpful to you, too!

The first new site I want to talk about is YA Books Central. I found the site through a tweet that showed up in my feed. Since The Gemstone Chronicles is written for middle grade/YA and up, I decided to check it out to see if I could reach more of my target audience (not that I mind getting reviews from adults). I was impressed by what I found. Here are some interesting things I found out about the site:

  • The site has a ton of books and it has a separate place for Indie books. It makes it easier to find works by Indie authors
  • @yabookscentral has over 33K followers on Twitter
  • The site does offer reviews for traditionally published authors, and may review Indie books on occasion
  • YABC on Facebook has over 14000 likes
  • YABC is on Tumblr, too!
  • Once you submit your book and it is approved (it cost me $3.99 to list my book), it is listed on the site with a cover photo and a link for sales. In the 3 days (as of April 3) since I posted my book, I have had over 50 views of the book.
  • They also have a separate page for Kid’s books

Update! All four of The Gemstone Chronicles are now on YABC! In fact, Book One: The Carnelian is HOT on the site.

If you are a YA or Kids author, this might be a great place to list your book! To give you an idea of what the site looks like, here is a link to my book: http://www.yabookscentral.com/yaindie/17879-the-carnelian-the-gemstone-chronicles-series-1

IndieBRAG: I found this site after seeing a fellow author’s BRAG medallion. BRAG stands for Book Readers Appreciation Group and they will award a BRAG Medallion for books that have passed the rigorous standards for their reviews. Here are some facts about IndieBRAG:

  • IndieBRAG is not a free site to submit a book. It costs $20 for a book to be considered for a review. Since I made a little money from the Augusta Literary Festival, I decided I would submit. We will see what happens!
  • IndieBRAG has over 9400 Facebook Likes
  • IndieBRAG has over 5300 Twitter followers

Update! I did submit my book to the site and guess what – The Carnelian was awarded a BRAG Medallion!

THE-GEMSTONE-CHRONICLES-BRAG-for-Web 1

The last new place I want to tell you about is Cold Coffee Cafe. I stumbled across this site on Twitter. It’s a free site for authors to join and list their books and trailers. I signed up and haven’t finished setting everything up yet, but I do have The Carnelian listed and its trailer is linked there, too. More information on Cold Coffee Cafe:

  • Just over 600 Twitter followers
  • Just over 650 likes on Facebook
  • Offers promotional packages

My page link at Cold Coffee Cafe is: http://coldcoffeecafe.com/profile/WilliamlStuart

As far as my marketing efforts are concerned, things have picked up since I have been implementing my own marketing plan. I continue to refine my strategy and, once I stumble on the key(s) to successful (and low-cost) book marketing strategies, I will be glad to share!

There you go. My Book Marketing update! I don’t know how well any of these might work within your advertising and promotional budget and strategy, but give them a look!

If you want to connect with me, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, or send me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. Feel free to connect!!

 

 

 

Tektite – Glass Rock or Telepathy Stone? You Decide!

In The Gemstone Chronicles Book Two: The Amethyst, Nana and Beebop buy a tektite necklace from an antique dealer. The necklace, as it turns out, has telepathic powers. I won’t tell you more, as it would spoil the story! Nonetheless, I’ll tell you more about tektite!

Tektite, for lack of a better description, is a glass rock. Similar to obsidian, tektite is mostly silicon. However, tektites are the result of meteorite impacts. Yes, that’s right, tektites are glass rocks formed when meteorites impacted the earth, sent molten particles into the air, and which fell back to earth in the strewnfields. Since tektites formed from the impacts, they have different characteristics compared to obsidian. Additionally, tektites might just have a little bit of cosmic matter in them! How cool is that?

Where can we find tektites? Across the globe, a few locations yield the majority of tektite finds. One of those locations, called strewnfields, is in Georgia! The Georgia tektites are known as Georgiaites and, just like the stone in The Amethyst, are green. Other strewnfields are in Texas, Autraliasia, the Ivory Coast of Africa, and Europe. Tektites from the different strewnfields have different characteristics which I will discuss next.

I’ll start with Georgiaites. Found principally in Dodge and Bleckley counties in Middle Georgia, Georgiaites are olive green and generally tear drop shaped. Below is a picture of a Georgiaite (Photo by Sean Murray, courtesy of FallingRocks.com). Beautiful and extremely rare, Georgiaites are 35 million years old!

Georgiaite Tektite

 

Moldavites are green, too, though a different shade than Georgiaites. Moldavites are typically found in Czech Republic in Bohemia (no singing of Bohemian Rhapsody, please). The stones are about 15 million years old. The museum quality pieces are gorgeous and often used in jewelry. Here is an example of a museum quality Moldavite. I particularly like the flaky appearance!

Tektite Moldavite

Moldavite

Australites spread across Australia and Southeast Asia. By far the most common variety, Australites are dark, usually black. Found across most of the southern half of Australia, these tektites have a unique disk or bowl shape. NASA (according to Wikipedia) used the shape of these tektites when designing the re-entry modules for the Apollo Space Program!

Tektite Australite

Australite

Due to the size of the impact, part of the same strewnfield reaches into Southeast Asia. The tektites found here – called Indochinites – are black like the Australites. Both Australites and Indochinites are much younger than Moldavites or Georgiaites, dating to about 790,000 years old. Here is an Indochinite.

Tektite indochinite

Indochinite

Lastly, we talk about Ivorite. Found along the Ivory Coast on the Western Cost of Africa, these stones are only about 1.3 million years old. Because of the unstable poitical climate in the area, I couldn’t find a picture of an Ivorite to include in this post. As a result of the instability, few have been excavated. The found Ivorites resemble Indochinites.

In The Amethyst, the tektite was from the Georgia strewnfield. According to HealingCrystals.com, tektite encourages telepathy and helps with lucid dreaming and astral travel. Sounds a lot like what Nana and Laura experienced, but you’ll have to read the book to find out more!

Obviously, I took some license with the properties of all the gemstones in The Gemstone Chronicles series, but I enjoyed learning about the magical and mystical properties the stones possess. And tektite was a great addition to the collection!

What is your favorite gemstone (or gemstone power) from the series? Aidan’s double-terminated quartz is my favorite. Laura’s invisibility power is the best power, too! What about your favorite? Leave me a comment and let me know! I look forward to it!

If you want to connect on the socials, find me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, and Tumblr. You can drop me an email, too, at bill@williamlstuart.com or subscribe to the blog (so you don’t miss a post)!

Suwanee Fest 2016 – A Great Weekend – Even With the Rain!!

Sorry I’m a little bit behind on my posts. Been a crazy couple of weeks! And the crazy weeks started with Suwanee Fest 2016!

Suwanee Fest? What’s Suwanee Fest? Well, as many of you know, I live just north of Atlanta, GA in Buford, GA. Just south of Buford is Suwanee, GA, Suwanee is a small city of about 18,000 people. Every year, the city hosts Suwanee Fest. The event website refers to the festival as “Two days of family, friends, food, and fun!” I can attest to the fact it was all of that!

There was a ton of entertainment (including my favorite Who’s Bad – The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band), great food, almost too many amazing exhibitors to count, and The Gemstone Chronicles!

Yep, I was there with books in hand to meet and greet new friends and readers of the series. And it was a blast! Not only did I sell a few books, but I also met so many awesome people. I talked about gemstones for hours, referred a few to my favorite gem hunting spot (Gold n’ Gems Grubbin’), and got to spend a couple of hours with my brother John and my niece Aidia. Overall, not a bad way to spend a Saturday! Below is the picture of my booth before the fun began.

Suwanee Fest Booth

Book interest was at an all-time high, and my editor extraordinaire Abby (who doubles as the City of Suwanee Public Information Officer) tried to stop by a few times to say hello. Every time she tried to stop by, though, I was interacting with new friends! Like I said, not a bad way to spend a Saturday!!

Unfortunately, Sunday was not the best day. Despite the great entertainment, the rains came and wouldn’t go away! Nonetheless, The Gemstone Chronicles staffed the booth in hopes of meeting more new friends. Alas, it wasn’t to be as the rains kept visitors away. On the plus side, though, John came by (and helped me pack up during one of the few breaks in the rain) and I had the chance to talk with Abby for a few minutes.

Suwanee Fest 2016 was a great event and I hope to attend again next year! If I met you, sold you a book (or 4), gave you a gemstone, or simply talked about gemstones, thanks for stopping by the booth! I truly appreciate each and every person who took time out of their celebration to visit with me and buy a book. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! If we did interact, and you have my contact information, give me a shout and let me know.

In case you didn’t pick up a card or a bookmark, you can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, or Tumblr. You can also email me here at bill@williamlstuart.com!

Blast of the Dragon’s Fury by L.R.W. Lee – My Review

Blast of the Dragon’s Fury by LRW Lee is one of my latest reads. I found the book through the Independent Author Network and I loved the cover and the blurb sounded like my kind of book. Read on to see what I thought!

Blast of the Dragon's Fury Cover

Synopsis (from the author): Ten-year-old Andy Smithson believes he is merely a kid too often in trouble with his overambitious parents–until his destiny as the Chosen One to break a 500-year-old curse is revealed. Swept away to the land of Oomaldee of medieval times, he discovers he must collect several ingredients for a magic potion to defeat the oppressive curse that plagues the land, the first of which is the scale of a red dragon, the fiercest of all dragon species. There’s just one tiny problem, he’s never battled dragons, except in his Dragon Slayer video game. Armed with only his wits, an ancient sword and a magic key, he must overcome grave peril at every turn before he can even attempt the feat. No pressure, but it’s his skill alone that will save – or condemn – the kingdom forever.

What I liked: This book, the first in a series, is a unique twist on the hero tale. The hero, in this case, is a ten-year-old boy who is transported to a kingdom that is under a curse. Andy is a good character, and fits the typical kid profile. His parents are both CEOs, so he feels neglected. The king – who wears jeans and t-shirts – was an interesting take on the ruler who needs help, and Mermin (Merlin’s brother) is a bumbling sort of wizard. My favorite character was Alden, the servant boy who befriends Andy and shares his adventures. The story moves along nicely, with action appropriate to the age group. The book entertained me with its humor and was a good read!

What I didn’t like: The one complaint I have is that the King doesn’t reveal what caused the curse or why Andy must be the one to break it. I realize the story will be revealed later in the series, but a little more information would have helped!

Overall impression: The first book of the Andy Smithson series, Blast of the Dragon’s Fury is a good middle grade and above read. It’s entertaining enough for adults, and younger readers will enjoy the unique use of cow farts! Full of humor, adventure, magic, and heroes, the story flowed nicely and kept me entertained! I will add the rest of the series to my TBR list!!

My rating: 5 Stars

If you read Blast of the Dragon’s Fury by L.R.W. Lee, please consider leaving a review! And connect with L.R.W. Lee on her site at LRWLee.com!

Want to leave a comment on my review? Please do! I’m always interested in hearing from readers! If you want to connect with me, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, or Tumblr. You can also email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. If you don’t want to miss a post, subscribe to the blog!

 

The Ruby of Helios by Scott Collins – My Review!!

The Ruby of Helios – My Review!

After a long hiatus, I have decided to resume posting my reviews to my blog! I think the last time I posted a review was in 2013, so it just seemed the time to start again. I’m proud to relaunch my blog review posts with The Ruby of Helios by Scott Collins!

The Ruby of Helios Web Cover

 

I read the first two books of this series (gave them both 5 star ratings), so it was only natural for me to read the third installment. As with the first two, this one was also an excellent read!

Synopsis (from the author): In their quest to overthrow the reign of the evil King Argyle so they can free their parents and the rest of his slaves, a small clan of youngsters has banded together to reunite the jewels of the Scepter of Harmony.

Having stolen the Emerald of Phaunos and reuniting it with the scepter, they must once again test their skills and resolve as they face the challenge of grabbing the Ruby of Helios from a ruthless band of raiders.

With the diegylis still hot on their heels, the band of rebels navigate the waters of the Great Lake, as well as the scorching desert of the Land of Sands, before facing a tribe of reptilian beasts who would rather die than relinquish the power of the ruby.

Though unexpected help comes from two powerful sources, will it be enough to save one of them from certain death, and the others from overwhelming odds?

Failure is not an option, for if they don’t succeed, Argyle will destroy the scepter, and the kingdom will collapse into ruin.

What I liked: The characters of Daniel, Aidan, Lilly, Olivia, and Zack are familiar and ones with which I connected early in the series. I enjoyed this particular set of trials, from pirates, and merpeople, to the diegylis, and the threat of Argyle himself. The ingenuity of the characters to exploit their own abilities to help get out of scrapes makes for a fun read.

What I didn’t like: Argyle, the evil King, seems a little one-dimensional to me. I understand the need to portray the villain as purely evil, but a little more depth, or even some additional background on the King would help frame him better. Other than that, not much to dislike.

Overall impression: Like the first two books of this series, I truly enjoyed the read. The familiar characters, interesting situations, and the continuing quest to free their world from the clutches of King Argyle make this book an excellent addition to the series. Recommended for fantasy readers of all ages!

My rating: 5 Stars

Give this book a try, but I would say that it would be most helpful to read the first two books of the series first. If you do, please consider leaving a review. I know Scott will appreciate it! Find out more about Scott on his Amazon author page or on his website!

If you want to leave me a comment on my review, please do! If you want to connect with me on social media, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, Tumblr, or just email me at bill@williamlstuart.com!

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy 2016!!

Happy Holidays! I was in my living room last night, helping Aidan and Maggie (yep, the same two whose namesakes grace the pages of The Gemstone Chronicles series) decorate their Christmas tree (we have 2 – one that is the front window of our house where we place most of the presents and a second one we call the kid’s tree). We put many of our favorite ornaments on the kid’s tree, and it always spurs moments of recollection of when we got the ornaments, why they are special, and then we have to find just the right spot for the ornament to hang. It made me want to share some of our holidays with you, my readers and friends! Without further ado, then, here are some holiday images to share!

First, here is our house, well-lit for Christmas! This year, our relatively new boxwood shrubs are finally large enough to light.

Happy Holidays 2015-Christmas-Lights-Web

I really like our front door, too. Our snowman with his red hat and scarf are a great addition to the decorations!

Happy Holidays Christmas-2015-Front-Door

 

As I mentioned above, we have 2 trees. This is the tree at the front of the that house shines with the rest of the lighted decor to lend our house a festive glow!

Happy Holidays Christmas-2015-Tree

The kid’s tree is beautifully decorated, too. Some of my favorite decorations on this tree are the Noah’s Ark ornaments.

Happy Holidays 2015-Kid's-Tree-Web

Here are my favorite Noah’s Ark ornaments!

Happy Holidays 2015-Noah's-Ark-1

 

Happy Holidays 2015-Noah's-Ark-2

 

Happy Holidays 2015-Noah's-Ark-3

To go along with the season, I want to thank all of you readers out there for visiting my blog, leaving me comments, and reading and reviewing my books. You have no idea how much your comments, connections, and feedback mean to me. Thank you all!!

If you want to connect with me, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, and Tumblr. You can always just drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com, too!

Have yourselves a safe and happy holidays and best wishes for a fantastic 2016!

Merry Christmas!!