Book Review: Mind Over Magic

The Audio Book

Morgen is experiencing a midlife crisis when she travels to a small Washington town to handle her late grandmother’s estate. But upon arrival, she discovers the house is full of witch paraphernalia — and that she has powers she never knew about! Can Morgen adapt to her new reality while racing to solve her grandmother’s mysterious death?

Purchase Link: https://www.chirpbooks.com/audiobooks/mind-over-magic-by-lindsay-buroker

My Review

I listened to the audiobook of Mind Over Magic, by Lindsay Buroker, and narrated by Vivianne Leheny. I have listened to this fantasy mystery three times, because it is so well crafted, with vivid descriptions and distinctive characters. Lindsay Buroker is known best for her snarky dialog and this book is no exception. Her humor allows for realistic reactions to bizarre occurrences such as finding a wolf on the hood of your car and then watching it change into a man, or discovering that your grandmother was a witch.

Morgan Keller is a practical and analytical data base tech who doesn’t believe in witches or werewolves. When she arrives at her grandmother’s home to wrap up the estate and decide what to do with her inheritance, it feels like she’s walked into another world. Grandma had some secrets that she hadn’t shared with the rest of the family, like the fact that she was a witch. The werewolf who lives in the barn claims that her grandmother was murdered with magic, and it’s up to Morgan to learn who the killer is. But in a town with two packs of werewolves and a local witches’ coven, this is no easy task.

Lehany does a fine in bringing the different characters to life. But I will say that her French accent is better than her Spanish one. In truth though, she handles a full cast of characters quite well, offering a distinctive voice for each one.

A fun and quirky story, with distinctive characters readers will grow to love. This is the first book in Buroker’s A Witch in Wolf Wood series. I would definetly read the others, as I want to hear more from these characters. I give Mind Over Magic five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? You can request a review here.


Treasuring Poetry 2023 – Meet poet and author Andrew McDowell and a review #poetry #bookreview #Treasuring Poetry

Which famous poet has influenced your poetry the most?

When I was young, I admired William Shakespeare. I was impressed with how he used words to convey emotions and ideas, and I wanted to follow his example. In my junior year of high school, I participated in a Poetry Out Loud contest where we had to recite a poem. I chose Sonnet XVIII (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”) and won third place. The Shakespearean sonnet was the first poetic form I tried to consistently write in beyond regular rhyming lines. It would not be until college that I began branching out to other forms and eventually free verse.

Which poem that you’ve read has impacted the way you see things in life?

This was a tough one, but one poem that has impacted me is Robert Frost’s famous “The Road Not Taken.”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

In what way has this poem influenced your viewpoint?

Most people interpret it as about making new trails, which is how I interpreted it as a child. Many times, when I’ve been walking, when I took a turn different from the norm, the last three lines presented themselves in my mind.

However, I’d heard that interpretation is accurate, so I looked it up, and to my surprise, it’s true. Frost wrote it as a joke regarding his friend and colleague Edward Thomas, who often hiked with him and had trouble deciding which way to go. The poem is not only about how choices we make determine where we go in life, but also that we often look back and wonder whether we’ve made the right choice. Though I did not grow up with that interpretation, I have found it to be true and profound.

Perhaps Frost’s way of telling poetry influenced me, too; I remember a professor in college, who taught a poetry class I was in, observed that I liked to end poems with a meaning or lesson, drawing a parallel to Frost.

What is your favorite of your own poems?

This was another tough one, because several have special meaning to me. But of those I have published so far, one that deeply resonates is “Lonely Wolf,” which appeared in the 2019 Spring Edition of And I Thought Literary Magazine. It was written in college as a failed attempt at a pantoum, but after a few rejections, I rewrote it as a villanelle. It speaks to the loneliness I have felt—socially and romantically.

I am a lonely wolf who walks at night.

Amongst the tall pine trees and heavy snow,

Hear my cry to the half-moon shining bright.

***

Young once within a den huddled tight.

The years passed and sadly I had to go.

I am a lonely wolf who walks at night.

***

Embarking for the greatest peak tonight,

There shall I convey my long-held sorrow.

Hear my cry to the half-moon shining bright.

***

Though many have come within my sight,

Why they stand distant I can never know.

I am a lonely wolf who walks at night.

***

Winter’s bitter cold reigns in silent might.

Dark silence only brings light to my woe.

Hear my cry to the half-moon shining bright.

***

Here I stand alone on this rocky height.

Here I do bay up where countless stars glow.

I am a lonely wolf who walks at night.

Hear my cry to the half-moon shining bright.

What’s next for you in your writing career?

My focus right now is fiction. My fantasy novel Mystical Greenwood came out in a new edition, so my primary goal is to complete the sequel. I do have many unpublished poems, so I want to keep an eye out for publishing opportunities. A volume of poetry isn’t out of the question—if I can find a unifying theme (my poems touch on many unique ones).

About Andrew McDowell

Andrew McDowell became interested in writing at age 11, inspired by childhood passions for stories and make-believe. By the time he was 13, he knew he wanted to be a writer. He studied at St. Mary’s College and the University of Maryland, College Park. He is a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association.

In addition to his fantasy novel Mystical Greenwood, Andrew has written poetry, short stories, and creative nonfiction, and he is interested in writing drama and lyrics. He was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, when he was 14.

Find Andrew McDowell

Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Tumblr | Goodreads | Amazon

Review of Mystical Greenwood

What Amazon says

Dermot is a fifteen-year-old boy living in a remote village in the land of Denú. He has always longed for something more in his life. Now, everything changes after he sees a renowned creature–a gryphon–in the sky, and then crosses paths with a reclusive healer who harbors a secret.

Soon, he and his brother have no choice but to leave the only home they’ve ever known. They travel with new friends across the land through several great forests, along the way meeting an old man, a family of unicorns, and witnessing an important birth. They must evade fire-breathing dragons and dark-armored soldiers hunting them down, all serving an evil sorcerer determined to subjugate the kingdom, and who will stop at nothing to destroy them.

Denú’s only hope is if a renowned coven returns to face the enemy after years in hiding. Dermot, however, suspects their own role may be more significant than he thought, as he slowly discovers a power which exists amongst the trees and creatures of every greenwood. Can they save those they hold dear? Will Dermot find what he has sought? Or will all that’s free and good be consumed by darkness?

My review

Andrew McDowell has written an extraordinary fantasy tale which centres around the guardians of nature and the Greenwood, called driadors. The plot follows a typical good versus evil path, but the overlay of the protection versus the destruction of the natural environment was unusual, topical, and really fantastic.

Dermot and his brother, Brian, do not get on. Brian is the son who always does as he is asked by his parents and fits the mould of a pleaser, while Dermot is a dreamer and has always felt he was intended for more than his life as an apprentice blacksmith to his father. The rivalry between the two boys comes to a head when Dermot is carried away by a hunting gryphon. Dermot persuades the gryphon to drop him but he is injured during his fall. He wakes up in the care of a healer called Saershe, and her grandson, Ruairi. Dermot realises that they are not ordinary forest dwellers and, following his return home, he becomes obsessed with finding them again.

Brian becomes aware that Dermot has had some sort of unusual experience during his absence and uses this knowledge to stir up trouble for Dermot with their parents. Meanwhile, an evil force in the shape of a fallen driador called Taranis, is lurking just beyond the village, waiting for an opportunity to wreak havoc and destruction and restart an old battle against the driadors. Dermot and Brian will have to learn to trust and rely on each other, and harness the power of nature if they want to save the Greenwood, their friends, family, and themselves.

This is an unusual and well paced story with interesting characters, and these elements more than makes up for the odd moments in the book when Dermot and Brian’s emotional reactions to situations seem slightly lacking in depth or incongruent to the circumstances.

The author has great potential as a writer and I would love to read the next book in this series and find out what happens next in the battle for control between Taranis and the driadors.

Purchase Mystical Greenwood

Amazon US

Andrew McDowell Amazon Author Page

My review of As the World Burns: Writers and Artists Reflect on a World Gone Mad

What amazon says

As the World Burns: Writers and Artists Reflect on a World Gone Mad is an anthology of poetry, prose, essay, and art inspired by the unprecedented events of the year 2020. It embraces fierce and raw creative works relating to life during the Covid-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter, Donald Trump, and the economic uncertainty and horror of the last eight months. One hundred and fourteen writers and artists spanning ten countries and 30 states are represented in this powerful volume. It is both a story of survival and an act of resistance.

“We speak with many voices, to the damage wrought in these violent, fevered months. Let us never forget or turn away, from what is just, what is necessary, to keep light alive in this world.”

My review

This is an interesting recording by numerous contributors, of the status of the world and society in the run up to the Covid lockdowns, and during the subsequent on-going pandemic. The writings, which comprise of mainly poetry, but also some essays and visual art pieces, also cover events that ran parallel to the lockdowns and pandemic that had an impact on society and politics.

Reading this anthology is an adventure as the messages are intense and vivid and the styles of writing hugely varied due to the significant number of contributors. Although not all the styles of poetry appealed to me, they were all memorable due to the strong emotional messaging, and well worth reading.

My favourite poems are as follows: Falls the Shadow by John W. Leys, I Think the Birds don’t Care by Kelsey Hontz (the words “Somebody has mixed up the two themes of apocalypse and paradise, which would be a fireable offense if anybody were still in the director’s chair for this year of hindsight.” really resonated with me.), Lately by L. Stevens, Quarantine by Andrew McDowell, Upon Waking in a Pandemic by Christine E. Ray, Choice Perhaps by Jane Dougherty, Thirteen Ways of Looking at Life before the Virus by Leslea Newman, Am I Angry? by John W. Leys, Virus by Erik Klingenberg (nightpoet), and Tumbling by Merril D. Smith.

Two of the essays, were particularly interesting to me. I-Soul-Ation by Dr. Sneha Rooh. The closing words of this essay have sadly not come to fruition, in my opinion:

“I would like to think that we will hug people longer, be grateful to be able to work, that we will smile brighter when the masks come off and we’ll let the smiles fully enter our hearts, that we will be careful abut the lies sold to us and remember that we are precious mortals with precious lives and an immense ability to connect and care.”

I am of the view, that the world has returned to its previous status quo with alarming speed and that as a species, we have learned nothing from the lockdowns and the pandemic.

The other essay I particularly enjoyed was Serendipity by Kim D. Bailey.

This book is an important documenting of life during this difficult and stressful time of life when the entire world united to face a common enemy. Sadly, we have still not learned our lesson, as I mentioned above, but perhaps some of us have found more courage to fight for a better eventual outcome for our planet and for humanity.

Purchase As the World Burns

Amazon US

About Robbie Cheadle

Award-winning, bestselling author, Robbie Cheadle, has published thirteen children’s book and two poetry books. Her work has also appeared in poetry and short story anthologies.

Robbie also has two novels published under the name of Roberta Eaton Cheadle and has horror, paranormal, and fantasy short stories featured in several anthologies under this name.

The ten Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie’s blog includes recipes, fondant and cake artwork, poetry, and book reviews. https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/


Book Review: Vanished on Vacation

What they’re saying on Amazon

  • “Fantastic book with many twists and turns!” – Alese M. Brockman
  • “Jennifer outdid herself. Vanished on Vacation needs to be3 made into a movie.” – Kindle Customer
  • “Suspense at its best” – Reita Pendry

The Book

As a frantic search for missing student Avery Jennings begins, everyone is hiding something—Avery’s family and friends, the resort’s staff, and its wealthy guests. It’s up to FBI Special Agent Victoria Heslin to dig deeper. Motivated by her own mother’s abduction years ago, she’s determined not to let Avery become another missing person statistic.

The Mexican authorities aren’t cooperating, and Victoria realizes she’s up against something more powerful than she imagined. Taking matters into her own hands, she plunges into a hellish ordeal that will test her strength and courage like never before.

“How much will you risk to find this girl?” the officer asked.
“Whatever it takes,” Victoria answered without hesitation.

Or is it already too late?

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Vanished-Vacation-Agent-Victoria-Heslin-ebook/dp/B09YJ79K6X/

My Review

Vanished on Vacation, by Jennifer Ruff, is a contemporary thriller that will keep readers on the edges of their seats. I didn’t want to put this book down. I was compelled to keep reading to the very last page.

Women disappear in Mexico all the time, but when a young American girl vanishes without a trace, folks tend to sit up and pay attention. Especially when she is the niece of one of the FBI’s top agents. That’s when agents Hiesling and Rivera are put on the case, and they will leave no stone in Mexico unturned to find young Avery, who disappeared on the last day of her vacation. But when the Mexican authorities suddenly turn cold and uncooperative, they get the feeling they’ve stumbled onto something bigger than just the kidnapping of one girl.

A thoroughly entertaining and suspenseful read. I give Vanished on Vacation five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? You can request a review here.


Book Review: The Necromancer’s Daughter

The cover for The Necromancer’s Daughter, by D. Wallace Peach is what first caught my eye. It promised an intriguing world, perhaps a winter wonderland, and at least one interesting character and of course, I just had to read the book. And I was glad that I did. This story is a skillfully chrafter hero’s journey, the protagonist thrown into an unfamiliar role which she hadn’t asked for with an objective that seems impossible to achieve.

Denied a living heir, the widowed king spies from a distance. But he heeds the claims of the fiery Vicar of the Red Order—in the eyes of the Blessed One, Aster is an abomination, and to embrace the evil of resurrection will doom his rule.

As the king’s life nears its end, he defies the vicar’s warning and summons the necromancer’s daughter. For his boldness, he falls to an assassin’s blade. Armed with righteousness and iron-clad conviction, the Order’s brothers ride into the leas to cleanse the land of evil.

To save her father’s life, Aster leads them beyond Verdane’s wall into the Forest of Silvern Cats, a wilderness of dragons and barbarian tribes. Unprepared for a world rife with danger and unchecked power, a world divided by those who practice magic and those who hunt them, she must choose whether to trust the one man offering her aid, the one man most likely to betray her—her enemy’s son.

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX/

My Review

The Necromancer’s Daughter, by D. Wallace Peach, is an exceptionally well crafted dark fantasy story, with well developed characters and a wonderfully crafted world of haves and have nots, with most fearing what they don’t understand. Peach has constructed a segregated world, where those of like kind are seperated and sadly, misunderstood. Into this world, she injects Aster, a reborn princess, raised as the necromancer’s daughter, since those who have been healed of death are not widely accepted in the mountains of Blackrock.

But when the King Aldring is murdered, leaving no other heir, the Vicar of the Red Order will do anything he can to prevent Aster from claiming the throne, including blaming the necromancer for the King’s murder, and sending she and her father into hiding. Her father is all she has in the world, and she flees to her mother’s people in the neighboring kingdom, in order to save him. In the strange land of Catticut’s forrest, with foes on all sides, Aster makes new friends in unlikely places, as she makes her way to her uncle, the King of Blackrock to make her plea, and hopes beyoond hope that he will aide her in rescuing her father.

I was totally engaged with Peach’s characters and completely emmersed in her world. I give The Necromancer’s Daughter five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? You can request a review here.


Day 3 of the WordCrafter “Resurrection Mixtape” Book Blog Tour

Welcome to Day 3 of the WordCrafter Resurrection Mixtape Book Blog Tour. Today we have an audio excerpt from Resurrection Mixtape, read by the author, Jeff Bowles, and my review of this wonderfully original novel. It’s a fun read when you feel like getting outrageous.

On Day 1, I had a fun interview with author Jeff Bowles, and Day 2 featured an interesting guest post from him. For the next two days we have more guest posts and another review, so visit each stop to learn more about Jeff and his awesome novel. If you missed the first two days of the tour, be sure to stop by through the following links:

Day 1 – Interview with author Jeff Bowles – Writing to be Read

Day 2 – December 6 – Guest Post – Robbie’s Inspiration

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Giveaway!

For this tour we’re giving away 3 signed print copies of Resurrection mixtape and a $25 Amazon gift card.

To enter, just tell us the top three songs on your mixtape in the comments.

Come on now. We really want to know.

Winners will be chosen in a random drawing.

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Now let’s move forward with an audio excerpt from Chapter 1 of Resurrection Mixtape, read by author Jeff Bowles

Resurrection Mixtape Excerpt

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Emily has been dead a year, but that doesn’t stop her from crashing in on her former best friend’s life in a whirlwind of mayhem, dark magic, and music. She’s been resurrected by a supernatural mixtape full of excellent but probably evil pop tunes. Amazing powers of transformation flow through her, piece-by-piece endowing her with abilities beyond anyone’s understanding. Within and without, a dark presence dwells, ready to express itself in all sorts of colorful and destructive ways. It’s all in the music, man. Press “PLAY” at your own risk.

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Mixtape-Jeff-Bowles-ebook/dp/B0BKYG2JJQ/

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What they’re saying on Amazon

Take the time to get a feel for the voice of this book. It’s worth it. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets its dark cousin with an irreverent twist. I look forward to more from this writer and if anyone makes a playlist for the mixtape I want a link. – Amanda Harris

My Review

How to describe Ressurection Mixtape, by Jeff Bowles? This book is unlike any I’ve read before. A mixture of horror and humor, supervillian fiction and pop culture guide this story into never before explored realms of storytelling. Bowles is a talented creative fiction author, and creative emphasises this, his latest novel. His unique style of storytelling makes this book an entertaining ride that readers won’t soon forget.

There is no doubt the existence and sanity of the entire world is at stake, but good guys are swept away under evil control and it’s hard to know who to root for. But one thing is certain. It’s not Emily, although even she could be seen as a victim, who didn’t ask for any of this, even if she does want to conquer the world now. It’s a wild ride fueled by a demonic mixtape, but it’s all a part of a much grander scheme which will be revealed, if not fully understood. What do these alien powers really want? What’s the true story?

Fun and entertaining, with twists and turns you won’t see coming. I give Resurrection Mixtape five quills.

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Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

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That wraps up Day 3 of WordCrafter Resurrection Mixtape Book Blog Tour. Thanks helping us in sending off Resurrection Mixtape in grand style. We’ve got more guest posts from the author and another review in the week to come, so follow the tour to learn more about Jeff Bowles and his unique and entertaining story. And don’t forget to let us know what the top three songs on your mixtape would be to enter the giveaway for a chance at one of three signed print copies and a $25 Amazon gift card.

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Book Reviews: “The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin” & “Down to Dirt”

The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin

Hogwarts hasn’t got anything on Roanoke Academy and the magical world created by L. Jagi Lamplighter in The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin. Rachel Griffin has worked hard to prepare for attending, and now as one of the youngest students at Roanoke, she has a lot of expectations to uphold and her magic must be in top form to keep up with the rest of her class. But there is something amiss at Roanoke Academy; a new magic being used for ill gains, an assasin disguised as an agent, a princess who goes places whenever she touches certain people, and a raven which only Rachel can see. Rachel must figure out what is happening and how to battle the forces of evil which seem to be decending upon them and threaten to take over her magical world.

Skillfully crafted to offer up all the pieces for readers to put the puzzle together. It’ a lot shorter than the story about the kid with the owl but just as thoroughly entertaining. Rachel Griffin is a sharp young lady with magical inclinations that will win your heart and make you want more. I give The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin five quills.

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Unexpected-Enlightenment-Rachel-Griffin-Books-ebook/dp/B01FVJ7DAY

Down to Dirt

Down to Dirt, by Kevin Killiany is a wonderful young adult science fiction novel with an underlying social moral. after spending her whole life in space, Mara’s family decides to send her to visit her Earth bound relatives on what spacers call Dirt. She arrives on Earth fearful and a little confused, but within a few weeks she will come to question everything she has ever been taught about Dirt. With a little help from her cousin, Beth, and her friend Jael, who each in thier own way challenge the prejudices that came with her, Mara begins to see things in different light.

Down to Dirt addresses social issues via a fictional alternate timeline world to create a story which is both engaging and entertaining. I give it five quills.

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Down-Dirt-Stars-Book-ebook/dp/B01HDT14HI

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Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


Book Review: Ghost Walk

Ghost Walk, by Melissa Bowersock is Book 1 in her Lacy Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery series. This paranormal mystery is more of a crime fiction story, than a cozy. An ex-cop turned P.I. and a spirit seeing Indian team up to find the answers, through both paranormal evidence which only Sam can see and forensics and the strong investigative skills of Lacey, to crimes which have eluded the law, bringing justice to both the living and the dead.

This first book in the series covers the story of the developing relationship between the two partners and promises more mysteries to come. They are good. Lacey knows how to track down the clues, and with inside information coming from beyond, she has the pieces to the puzzle that local law enforcement lacks. Sam has learned to keep his gift under wraps, but has an undeniable urge to help the dead who cry out to him, and partnering up with Lacey, might be just what he needs to help him do that.

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Lacey-Fitzpatrick-Firecloud-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01MUCZR5T

This well crafted tale is a quick and entertaining read, which carefully lays out the clues for the detectives and the readers to discover. The two main characters are both down to earth and very relatable. I give Ghost Walk five quills.

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Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


Day 5 of the WordCrafter “Visions” Book Blog Tour

Visions Book Blog Tour

For Day 5 of the WordCrafter Visions Book Blog Tour we’re hanging out over at Zigler’s News, with a guest post from contributing author Patty L. Fletcher about her story, “The Portal Brings Christmas Love”, and a review by Tori Zigler. Come join us, and don’t forget to comment for a chance to win one of five digital copies of Visions!

https://ziglernews.blogspot.com/2022/10/wordcrafters-book-blogtour-for-visions.html


Day 2 of the WordCrafter “Visions” Book Blog Tour

Visions Book Blog Tour

Today is the release! And Day 2 of the WordCrafter Visions Book Blog Tour finds us over at Patty’s World, with a guest post by contributing author Michaele Jordan about the inspiration for her story, “Farewell, My Miko” and a review of her story by Patty Fletcher. Won’t you join us? And don’t forget to leave a comment so I know you were there and get a chance to win a copy of this totally awesome anthology!


Welcome to the WordCrafter “Haunted Halloween Holiday” Book Blog Tour

Haunted Halloween Holiday Book Blog Tour

Welcome to the WordCrafter Haunted Halloween Holiday Book Blog Tour, in celebration of this delightful new children’s Halloween adventure by Robbie and Michael Cheadle. This is going to be a wonderful tour with a guest post from author Robbie Cheadle and a review at every stop. Today will be a real treat with not one, but two tour stops, but you may comment on either stop here. Instead of making Robbie sit through another tedious interview, we will have each tour stop host ask her two questions, so you can learn more about her at every stop if you follow the tour, and she also has a great giveaway.

Tour Schedule

(Links won’t work until the post goes live.)

Monday – October 3 – Double Stop Day! – Guest Post & Review – Writing to be Read

– Guest Post & Review – Undawnted

Tuesday – October 4 – The Showers of Blessings

Wednesday – October 5 – Patty’s World

Thursday – October 6 – Carla Loves to Read

Friday – October 7 – Zigler’s News

Saturday – October 8 – Annette Rochel Aben

Give Away

For a chance to win one of three US$10 Amazon vouchers or one of three paperback copies of Haunted Halloween Holiday just leave a comment to show you were here.

Follow the tour and comment at each stop for more chances to win.

The prizes will be given away in a random drawing.

About Haunted Halloween Holiday

Count Sugular is delighted when the Sugarpop Bats invite his family to a Halloween party at the Haunted House. He and his wife, Witch Honey, decide to hire a caravan and enjoy a weekend away with their family.

Includes some fun limericks to introduce the various characters.

You can find the book trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fr5OxyUfd4

Purchase links:

TSL Publications: https://tslbooks.uk/product/haunted-halloween-holiday-robbie-and-michael-cheadle/

Lulu.com: https://www.lulu.com/shop/michael-cheadle-and-robbie-cheadle/haunted-halloween-holiday/ebook/product-vd5778.html?page=1&pageSize=4

Robbie’s Questions

Question: You illustrate your children’s books with elaborate fondant scenes, with buildings and characters which are very detailed. How long does it take you to create a whole fondant scene for illustration in one of your stories?

Answer: The fondant and cake illustrations are time consuming. The amount of time required depends on the number of flowers and figurines I include and their complexity.

Each figurine takes, on average, between 4 and 5 hours to complete. I always start with the heads. Some of the figurines have detailed facial features including teeth, lip detail, and layered eyes and these take a lot of time and effort to make.

Hair is also time consuming, especially curly hair, as each strand is wound around a cocktail stick and allowed to partially dry before it can be attached to the head. Timing is important because if the fondant hair strand dries to much, it wont stick to the head.

My next step is usually the body and shoes, and that is followed by the arms and legs. Attaching arms and legs can be tricky as you have to keep them in the correct positions until they dry. Standing figurines are much more difficult to make than seated ones. The legs have to dry completely before you can attach the weight of the head and body to a standing figurine or the legs collapse.

Flowers are also made in layers. I start with the centres and leave them to firm up before adding the second layer of petals. Flowers are also tricky from a timing perspective as the petals must firm up enough to hold their shape but not dry so much they crack or break.

From a cake perspective, sponge cake assembly is not that difficult for me. The carving and assembly of shaped cakes isn’t that difficult if you have an eye for proportions which I do.

The gingerbread caravan that features in Haunted Halloween Holiday was difficult to make because I had to bend the gingerbread to make it harden in a curved shape. I did have to make adaptions to my initial plan and I created the sides and top of the caravan in two parts instead of one as I’d originally planned. I did have to redo that piece of gingerbread. You have to bend it while it is still hot but not so hot it collapses (or burns you) but before it starts to harden or it cracks. Another tricky timing situation.

The windmill was complex to make because of the blades which I made separately from fondant and attached to wooden kebab sticks. The entire bladed structure had to then be attached to the gingerbread windmill structure. It was a great challenge and I was delighted at how both of these structures came out.

Question: You have done many collaborations for anthologies, and you also co-wrote a book with your mother. Do you have more fun collaborating with your son Michael on the children’s books than you do with your adult collaborators on adult themed works? Why or why not?

Answer: The children’s books are fun to write and illustrate. The text for the Sir Chocolate and other children’s books is much less, 600 words or less for the Sir Chocolate picture books in line with the industry standard, than books for older children or adults.

My collaboration with Michael involves conversations and chats about characters and ideas for story lines as well as the illustrations. This makes the entire process fairly easy and companionable.

Writing While the Bombs Fell was a more difficult collaboration because I was writing my mother’s memories. I had to coax the memories from her, research the details and historical context of the time period and lay them over her personal timeline. It was an interesting and rewarding process and I learned a lot more about my mom’s early life and my own family.

There were some difficulties, especially around the structuring of the story and the fictionalised elements. My mom didn’t always agree when I filled gaps in her memory with information based on historical research to give the book a little more meat. In the end, we came to a meeting of minds and were both happy with the book. The difficulties with writing someone else’s memories is one of the reasons why the sequel, After the Bombs Fell, is not finished. My own writing process has changed and it’s more difficult for me to work with someone else now.

Thank you, Kaye, for these great questions and for hosting my post.

About the Authors

Michael Cheadle is a student at a high school in South Africa. His favourite subjects are IT, and History and he enjoys creative writing, especially writing poetry. In his spare time Michael enjoys computer games, boxing, tennis, and sleeping.

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9. Count Sugular and his family hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9. Count Sugular and his family hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has also published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ

Robbie Cheadle Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15584446.Robbie_Cheadle

TSL Publications Robbie Cheadle Author Page: https://tslbooks.uk/product-tag/robbie-cheadle/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bakeandwrite

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SirChocolateBooks

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

My Review

Haunted Halloween Holiday is a ‘just a little scary but lots and lots of fun’ kind of story. Fans of the Sir Chocolate books by Robbie and Michael Cheadle will not be disappointed as the mother and son duo write and bake their way into reader’s hearts with this delightfully delicious story. Stuffed full of delectable fondant illustrations, highlighted with lovely rhyming verse to tell the story of an unique holiday celebration.

This book is a bit longer than previous Sir Chocolate formats, and contains less verse, but it’s a delightfully fun adventure to please readers both young and old. Who could resist all the colorful characters who attend this festive holiday party? Count Sugular; Baby Howler; Skelly the Skeleton; Teddy the posessed teddy bear; the Trolls – Tar and Liquorice; Toot, the clown who smiles upside; Witch Goody; and Jack Frost all help to make this Halloween celebration one to be remebered, and enjoyed over and over, every time you pick up the book.

I give Haunted Halloween Holiday five quills.

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That wraps up this stop on the WordCrafter Haunted Halloween Holiday Book Blog Tour, but be sure to drop in to Undawnted for another great review of the book. Join us tomorrow over at The Showers of Blessings, for another guest post by Robbie and a review by Miriam Hurdle.