Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

                          (Divergent Trilogy: Book 3)


The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.


My Review

What would you do if you discovered everything you thought you knew about yourself, your family, and even your world was a lie? This is what happens to Tris and her friends in this stunning conclusion to the Divergent Trilogy.

Allegiant is a story of love and hate, of madness and self sacrifice, of decency and degradation. It's a powerful story about what it means to be human. Following Tris and Tobias as they struggle to discover who they truly are is an emotional rollercoaster ride made all the more intense by what's going on in world around them. Everything is falling apart and it only stands to get worse if they can't find a way to stop it.

This is by far the best book in the trilogy but I warn you, the ending is a punch in the gut. I suspected it was coming but I was so hoping I was wrong that when it actually happened it still managed to take away my breath. But if the moment itself was painful, then the aftermath is even worse.

I highly recommend this series to any fan of YA dystopian fantasy. You'll fall in love with the characters and have your heart broken at every turn, but it's well worth it.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Feature: Mayra Calvani, author of The Luthier's Apprentice


Releases on May 15th

Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…

When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice. But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.

But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma's family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?

Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him. And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier's apprentice…  
About The Author

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. When she’s not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family. Represented by Serendipity Literary.    

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Feature: David Bruns, author of Irradiance

IRRADIANCE: The Dream Guild Chronicles – Book One


Amazon Link: http://amzn.com/B00IRG97SK    (.99 cent sale until midnight April 27)




The Community is your first responsibility as a Citizen.


So says the First Edict of post-Reformation Sindra.


Maribel is a new mother of twins in this bioengineered, telepathically networked society of comfort and safety, where the only relationship that matters is the one between a Citizen and her Community.


But Maribel is also a scientist, and scientists follow facts—wherever they lead. Her search for the truth awakens emotions in her she never knew existed, uncovers ancient powers long hidden in Sindra’s history, and has the potential to destroy her Community.


A dying planet . . .

A desperate parent . . .

A daring plan . . .


Irradiance is the story of Maribel’s choice.




The Control Officers set up their calibration equipment in the next room. Maribel could hear them through the wall as they moved furniture around and cracked open the large, black packing cases she had seen in the foyer when she came into work that morning.

She swiveled her chair in the dark and tried again to focus on the star cluster she was working on this week. Maribel was in the Star Chamber—alone, thankfully—and though she had nothing to hide, the mere presence of the Control Officers made her uncomfortable. And this story about crystal calibration seemed odd, to say the least. She’d never even heard of such a thing before this week.

Maybe this calibration setup was a front, another government crackdown on dissenters. She had overheard two scientists from the Pulsar lab saying they’d heard about someone from the Gas Giants section who went into calibration and never came out again. Maribel shook her head in the darkness. Community dissenters were a myth. What were they dissenting about, anyway? The Colonists had been defeated in the last election—again—and life goes on.

She turned her attention back to the star cluster and began her scan for habitable planets. The three-dimensional picture feed from the orbital sensors was particularly clear today: all the better for the more sensitive measurements. The work was painstaking, like trying to pick apart knotted string in the dark, and some of it relied more on intuition than hard data analysis. Suitable planets needed to be just the right distance from their particular suns, then have the right atmospheric elements, then—

She felt the tickle of a mental message. Maribel? It was Dr. Olgana, her department head. Can I see you in my office, please? It’s your turn.

Maribel felt a spike of fear in her belly and her crystal took on a deep red tinge. She sucked in a deep breath and held it until the little dots of light above her went fuzzy, then let it out slowly through pursed lips. The first rule of dealing with any Control Officer was to manage your crystal feedback.

She kept her red glasses on when she exited the Star Chamber so as not to ruin her night vision. Maybe this would be just a short interview and she could get back to work. Maybe she would never have to see what was in those packing cases in the next room. She took another deep, deliberate breath.

Since Maribel and her colleagues spent most of their time in and out of their Star Chambers, the lights in the Habitable Planets section were normally dimmed. Today a line of bright yellow showed under the closed conference room door next to Maribel’s chamber. She held the deep breath a little bit longer.

The light level was raised in Dr. Olgana’s office as well. The older woman sat behind her blank desk-screen, a study in gray: gray hair, gray eyes, gray crystal, even an ashen tinge to her pasty skin. She gave Maribel a neutral smile and nodded her to the only empty chair.

You can take off your glasses, Citizen. You won’t be going back to the Chamber today, she messaged. Maribel tensed at the use of the formal “Citizen” from Olgana but said nothing. With a Control Officer in the room, formality was a wise choice.

Author Interview



How did you get started writing?


Writing a book was always a bucket list item for me, but also something I was going to do “someday.”

About a year ago, I took a break from corporate life. The sabbatical was intended as a way to recharge my batteries and spend some time with my family before I looked for another job. As the saying goes, idle hands are a Devil’s plaything and having Dad/Hubby underfoot 24/7 has some downsides. It took about a week before the mutiny happened and I was told to find something to occupy my time.

I had started (and not finished) a few novels over the years, so my wife came up with the idea that I should write that book I was always going to write.

I started “The Dream Guild” with a rough first chapter and a vague idea of what I was doing. After the second chapter, I wrote an outline—and then revised it every few chapters for the rest of the book. I worked on my novel every day for the next three months, then revised it and got it edited.

Hitting the publish button on Amazon was a rush. I had modest sales, but it was enough to convince me that I wanted to write full-time. My “break” became permanent and I started planning my next book!

IRRADIANCE, Book One of The Dream Guild Chronicles was published in March. Book Two, called SIGHT, is in final production now and will be released at the end of May. Book Three, not yet named, is planned for a late summer release.


Did you self-publish or publish traditionally and why?


I chose to self-publish, but not for the reasons most people cite. I worked in business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing for almost twenty years. The process of securing an agent and/or publisher is a B2B transaction in its purest form. I can tell you from personal experience that businesses selling to other businesses do NOT use cold-calling as a sales technique.

In my view, the querying process is a baby-step above telemarketing, a low return activity on my time. I spend my time writing, not writing query letters. I do a bit of marketing, but without a backlist of titles that effort has limited value.

Since my decision to self-publish, everything I have experienced reinforces the publishing path I have chosen. I love the control over the process, the ability to connect with readers and other writers and the freedom to make my own business choices. It’s the start-up of me!


What advice would you give an author just starting out?

Because I entered writing as a hobbyist, I made a lot of mistakes, especially in final production of The Dream Guild. My top few pieces of advice for any new writer:

  • Write every day. Set a word count or page count or some daily goal and hit it. My goal for my first book was 5 pages a day. Some days those five pages took me two hours and some days it took me six hours, but I wrote five pages.
  • Set deadlines and finish things. I found that I learned more by saying “done” to a piece than by continually nibbling at it over time.
  • It’s never done. I look at everything I have written and see things I would like to change. Then I resolve to make the next book better.
  • Get a good editor. After my first book, I spent a lot of time finding a critique group and an editor that matched what I was trying to accomplish. It has made a world of difference.
  • Build up a website presence early. When I launched The Dream Guild, I had no website, no Facebook page, and a meager Twitter following from a previous job. I did have a very strong presence on Goodreads as a user, so that’s where I concentrated my effort initially—and where I got almost all of my first reviewers.


Are you a plotter or a pantser?


I’m a recovering panster. I have found that a good outline makes the writing process much more efficient, but I am always amazed at what happens when I sit down to write the draft of an outlined scene. I let the story go in the direction that the characters take it and rework the outline if I need to. To me that’s the magic of the craft.

What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?


I don’t believe in writer’s block. My feeling is that if I want to call myself a professional writer, then I need to make the words happen. Everyday. Period.

In showbiz they say “the show must go on.” When I was a VP of Sales and I didn’t want to take that meeting, what did I do? I took the meeting. Writing is like any other profession, make it happen or go home.

Are there days when it’s harder than others? Sure. And that means I need to try harder.

If I get stuck, really stuck, then I go for a run. Works every time.

Author Bio
David grew up on a small farm in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. He earned his undergraduate degree at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and spent the next 6 years as an officer in the US Navy submarine force chasing the Russians at the end of the Cold War. After leaving the Navy, David spent the next few decades in the high-tech sector until he decided to chuck it all and start over as a writer.
A self-confessed travel junkie, he and his family have visited over two dozen different countries in Asia, North America and Europe. Today, he lives in the middle of the United States with his family.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

     (Divergent Trilogy Book 2)


One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.


My Review

Insurgent continues the drama and excitement began in Divergent. In the midst of a war between the factions, loyalty is put into question as unexpected allies arise and friends turn into enemies. Tris finds herself put into a position where she must choose between pursuit of the truth and loyalty to those she cares for.

I enjoy the relationship between Tris and Tobias. It's complicated and uncertain, which it makes it interesting. As are all the relationships in the book. The characters continue to grow and change as they are faced with new horrors and heartaches.

Personally, I could have done without the science lesson on Tris' brain chemistry. Also, the reason behind Jeanine starting a war to hide what lies beyond the fence surrounding the city seems a little shaky to me. I can't say why without giving something away, but it didn't make a lot of sense to me.

All in all, this a highly enjoyable book full of emotion and pulse pounding action. An excellent continuation to the series.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Feature: Susan Liberty Hall, author of Ha, I Laugh In The Face Of Cancer

Normally, this blog is mostly reserved for authors with works of speculative fiction. But today I would like to introduce you to Susan Liberty Hall, who beat cancer using an alternative Native American treatment.

Text Box:









 Small Book with Big Message:


Susan Liberty Hall’s Ha, I Laugh in the Face of Cancer Champions the

Astonishing Native American Herbal Remedy that Cured Her of Breast Cancer


During the Same Time, Her Famous Brother Fought Cancer with Tools of Traditional Medicine


Text Box:  Susan Liberty Hall heard it all. The biopsy, the mastectomy, the chemo, the radiation. It’s what the doctors insisted she do when they found the three lumps in her breast. Yet she had seen how her mother had suffered in the last year of life, following doctor’s directives after being diagnosed with colon cancer. Susan had been her caregiver until the end.


But instead Susan asked for guidance. And on that one day in meditation, she was guided to open a file in her desk where she had stored information on holistic treatments for cancer during her mother’s decline.


And there it was, an ancient Native American remedy still produced today by one family called “Two Feathers Healing Formula.” Eschewing aggressive and angry reproaches from her doctors, Susan started the regimen. And within weeks, watched as 18—not three—cancerous lumps literally begin to expunge from an open wound in her breast, tumors that she still actually has in specimen jars.


But what was happening to her was in direct contrast to what her beloved brother was experiencing. Diagnosed with cancer at nearly the same time, he chose to go the traditional medical route. He wouldn’t hear of an alternative, like many people today, placing his trust in his doctors. And as she healed, he declined. She watched in sorrow as her dear brother—Los Angeles Laker’s owner Jerry Buss—lost his fight against cancer.


And so Susan Liberty Hall has dedicated her small but powerful book to her brother and his legacy of love. Ha, I Laugh in the Face of Cancer (Inkwell Productions) chronicles her struggles in life—a survivor of her husband’s suicide and descend into debt—and her brother’s compassionate rescue and her transformation from near-poverty to a highly successful businesswoman and distributor of Young Living Essential Oils. A woman who lived a healthy and holistic lifestyle and refused to be bullied into a path she didn’t feel was right for her—and believes is wrong for all of us.

The goal of Ha, I laugh in the Face of Cancer is to provide simple solutions for complex problems. Some of Susan’s solutions are: taking responsibility for your own healing from Cancer, as well as many other diseases, and removing the decision making from Medical Doctors to your own Great God Self! You are the determiner of your fate! You will decide the Set of your Sails and the destination that will Chart your ship, because you are the “Captain of Your Ship".


For more information on Susan Liberty Hall’s compelling new book, please visit: www.hailaughinthefaceofcancer.com


Ha, I Laugh in the Face of Cancer

ISBN# 978-1-939625-67-0, $15.75

Also available through Inkwell Productions:  www.inkwellproductions.com



Dea Shandera

818 456-4585