Tuesday, November 29, 2011

JournalJabber Recap - November 29, 2011

Just one more month left in 2011!  As always, the year has flown by...

How was everyone's Thanksgiving?  Ours was fun--crazy but fun!  I ate far too well while we were at my mom's and now that we're back home, nothing tastes good. You really can't beat homemade biscuits and gravy and cornbread dressing from scratch!  :-)

It has also gotten VERY cold out there!  We were in the 60's and 70's last week, and today it was in the 30's...  Brrrr...  But, I actually prefer the cold, and it is almost December for goodness sakes!

So...getting back to the business at hand...  Here's the notes from tonight's JournalJabber with our special guest, Nichole Chase, author of Mortal Obligation.

Listen to internet radio with JournalJabber on Blog Talk Radio

Nichole asked us to forgive her southern accent, which I am always thrilled to have another southerner on the show...and I'll be darn if she didn't really have a southern accent at all!!!  I mean, really... :-)

I was so busy this past week, I didn't get a chance to finish Mortal Obligation, but be on the lookout for a review from me very soon.

Here are the book details if you want to check it out for yourself (and you know you do!):

Mortal Obligation (Dark Betrayal 1)
ISBN:  9781466231443
Published July 29, 2011
Available Format:  Paperback, ebook

Where you can buy the book:


Nichole's next book, Mortal Defiance, is scheduled to release in December.  Can't wait to get my hands on that one too!

Look at those gorgeous covers!  Nichole says she and her mother-in-law designed them...

Nichole also played our Three Facts game this week.  Choose which fact is FALSE and email your answers to Amy (amy@journalstone.com) to win a copy of Nichole's book!

Nichole's Three Facts:

1. I painted a mural in the local visitors center that wraps around the entire room, but it still wasn't the largest mural that I have done.
2. When writing late at night, I like to have the TV on in a different room just so the house isn't too quiet.
3. My husband and I met while on separate trips to Europe. We were married 8 months later.

By the way, Greg's true fact from last show was that he was once a mosquito exterminator!  I hate mosquitoes....

It was great having Nichole on the show, and we look forward to enjoying her books and having her back again soon!

Next week's guest is the lovely and amazing Elizabeth Hunter, author of A Hidden Fire and This Same Earth, books 1 and 2 of the Elemental Mysteries Series. I had the honor of proofreading This Same Earth, and I am dying to dig into A Hidden Fire to get the beginning of the story!  I will say, there is a kick ass librarian and some pretty hawt vamps in these books, and (though I am a Twilight fan) they don't sparkle...

Be sure to tune in Tuesday, December 6th at 9PM EST to learn more!

Also, I'd like to remind everyone to buy as many copies as you possibly can of our Christmas anthology, Christmas Lites.  All proceeds go to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and free ecopies are being sent to troops overseas!  This is a great way to support a couple AWESOME causes while getting a little something for yourself, and your family, and your friends, and that random guy in the grocery store...and...

Christmas Lites:

And, last but not least, I want to remind you all of our special Christmas show coming up.  We'd love to have several children on air reading their favorite Christmas stories.  We need a few more kidlets to make this work, so if you or anyone you know are interested, please email Amy (amy@journalstone.com) to get in on the fun!

That's all for this week!  Have a fantastic week, stay warm, buy Christmas Lites!  See you next week...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Demon of Renaissance Drive

Have you bought Christmas Lites yet???  Just checking....

The Demon of Renaissance Drive
By:  Elizabeth Reuter
ISBN:  9781936564255
Published November 18, 2011 by JournalStone
Available Format:  Hardcover, Paperback, ebook

My Rating:  ★★★★★

The Demon of Renaissance Drive secured fourth place in JournalStone’s 2011 Horror contest.

So, maybe hell really isn’t all that bad…if you are a demon king or succubus! The Demon of Renaissance Drive tells the tale of Annabelle, a succubus that is thoroughly fed up with her life in hell. She is tired of being used to populate her world with more and more demon spawn. She is tired of the politics. She is tired of it all. One day, on her way back from a trip to Earth with her friend Samantha, Annabelle sees a glimmer of hope in one of the tortured souls of the underworld. She makes an impulsive decision to snatch the soul and take him back to her home. Naming her new pet ‘Harry,’ she begins working to rehabilitate his tortured mind. She knows she can’t keep him locked away in her bedroom forever, so she begins making deals with other demons to secure passage for her and Harry to have a ‘normal’ life on Earth. Life on the surface cannot possibly be easy for a royal succubus and her stolen poltergeist. Will they be able to rehabilitate Harry? What dangerous secrets will they uncover about his previous life? How far will Annabelle go to keep him safe?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review.

This novel is comfortably paced, charming and funny, and peppered with a little Dante.  The imagination and creativity that went into creating this story is fantastic.  Who would have thought I would be reading about hell and actually enjoy it?  The different characters of both hell and earth are all humanly flawed yet highly entertaining, and Reuter does a great job writing each and every one of them.  Annabelle is one kickass chick, and you know I always love a strong heroine in the story.  Harry undergoes a dramatic transformation, and I think Jimmy is probably one of the most relatable and funny characters I have read in a while.

The last chapter was my absolute favorite. I won’t give away the ending, but this last chapter absolutely pulled the entire book together, the way it should have. Of course, we’re left hanging a bit, which hopefully means Reuter will give us a sequel. I can’t wait to read more about Annabelle and Harry!

You simply must get yourself a copy of The Demon of Renaissance Drive and check it out for yourself…

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Lites -- Come One, Come All!!!!!!

I am so flippin' excited today!  Not because it is Black Friday here in the States (the absolutely maniacal shopping day after Thanksgiving) -- I don't even like to shop -- but because our Creative Reviews short story anthology releases today!!!!  *happy dance*

I am expecting each and every one of you to get yourself a copy, buy copies for all your friends and family, and spread the word far and wide!!!  





Here is everything you need to know about our fantastic book, besides the fact I have a story in there too :-)...

The Creative Reviews group on Goodreads is filled to the brim with writers, reviewers, editors, proofreaders and crazy people. We decided to pool all our abilities to do something for others. And it was born: Christmas Lites. It’s a Short Story Anthology with the overall theme of Christmas. It will be available in e-book and print this November.

26 authors submitted a short story to be included in the anthology and the proceeds will be donated to the NCADV - National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It’s a wonderful charity that we are honored to support. We are also donating FREE e-copies to the deployed troops overseas via Operation eBook Drop.

Once upon a time, a rough and tumble seven year old caught Santa sliding down the chimney…
Then a ninja elf came and broke Santa out, no net is strong enough to keep out this ninja elf! Off past the faithful family pet they ran and jumped in the sleigh. They raced to another house but refused to stop when ghosts were there to greet them. Santa doesn’t tangle with ghosts. He doesn’t tangle with vampires, either.
At the next stop, he met a runaway gingerbread man who yelled, “You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!” Santa didn’t bother to catch him; he had things to do.
On his way to his next delivery, he passed a werewolf jumping out of a plane and dodged a zombie hungry for his brain.
He finally touched down in a nice, normal town full of tidings and great joy…
Or did he?
Dive into a world of variety—a world of spirit with this Creative Reviews anthology. What better way to celebrate the holiday season than with some short stories that entertain and encompass the true meaning of Christmas? All proceeds of this book will be donated to the NCADV (national coalition against domestic violence). Debut authors and published authors have come together in this one-of-a-kind compilation – please help support a great cause and plunge deep into our imaginations.

List of Titles and Authors:
Shane Stilson: Higher Ground
E.C. Stilson: How I Found My Soul Mate and Turkey Avenger
Vered Ehsani: Christmas Ghost
C.S. Splitter: Whimper
Phil Cantrill: Christmas Story
Brett Talley: Last Year’s Eggnog
Catherine Forbes: The Gateway Incident
Mark Koning: Sweet Child
Tricia Kristufek: Accidentally Gift Wrapped
Paige Kellerman: Christmas Disco
L.A. Wright: Star of Christmas
S. Patrick Pothier: The  Road to Comfort
Cassie McCown: Mirror  (<--That's me, right there! :-))
Angel Armstead: All I want for Christmas
Ottilie Weber: ‘Tis the Holiday Spirit
Amy Eye: The Hunt
JA Clement: A Sprig of Holly
Richard Phelan: Memories of the Splendid Splinter
Mark Mackey: An Amy Harkstone Christmas
Lizzie Ford: Santa’s Ninja Elf
Nicholette Alexandr: Broken Glass
Mark Faulkner: Face
Cambria Hebert: The Perfect Ornament, Blank
Angela Yukiro-Smith: Only That Day Dawns
Mysti Parker: The Carpenter’s Wife

Amy Eye: Formatting, Editing
Vered Ehsani: Editing

Tricia Kristufek, Cassie McCown, Alan Zendell

Cover Design and Print Formatting: Dafeenah Jameel, www.indiedesignz.com

Christmas Tree Glyph: Regina Wamba, www.maeidesign.com

Ebook converting for Smashwords: C.S. Splitter

NCADV coordinator: Jenn Pringle

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Info of what they do:

NCADV believes violence against women and children results from the use of force or threat to achieve and maintain control over others in intimate relationships, and from societal abuse of power and domination in the forms of sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, anti-Semitism, able-bodyism, ageism and other oppressions. NCADV recognizes that the abuses of power in society foster battering by perpetuating conditions, which condone violence against women and children. Therefore, it is the mission of NCADV to work for major societal changes necessary to eliminate both personal and societal violence against all women and children. 

NCADV's work includes coalition building at the local, state, regional and national levels; support for the provision of community-based, non-violent alternatives - such as safe home and shelter programs - for battered women and their children; public education and technical assistance; policy development and innovative legislation; focus on the leadership of NCADV's caucuses developed to represent the concerns of organizationally under-represented groups; and efforts to eradicate social conditions which contribute to violence against women and children.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Masquerade Teaser Trailer

I told you guys you'd be seeing a lot of Cambria around here for a while, and it was no lie!  Her second story, "Whiteout" released yesterday (11/23/2011), and I trust you all have already bought your copy :-).  

Today, as a little Thanksgiving treat, I'm sharing her new Masquerade teaser trailer with you all.  Masquerade releases December 16th, and you are going to LOVE it!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

It's finally here -- my FAVORITE holiday!  
I hope all my friends, whether you celebrate 
Thanksgiving or not, have a truly blessed 
day full of love and warmth :-)!  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Whiteout by Cambria Hebert - Release Day!!

Today is release day for Cambria's story, "Whiteout"!!!  I'm super excited to share this event with you all, and I want everyone to go RIGHT NOW and get yourself a copy...

I'm waiting...

Fingers tapping...


Maybe you should look into faster internet speed?

Okay, phew, now that you're back, here's my review...

By:  Cambria Hebert
Published November 23, 2011 by Otherworld Publications
Available Format:  ebook

My Rating: ★★★★★

A blizzard has blown in and a man is dying, freezing to death in the cold.  Suddenly, a savior appears, a woman with midnight black hair and chocolate eyes.  Something isn’t quite right, however.  Someone has a secret and someone has a shotgun.  Just because the woman saves him, can the man really trust her?

I finished this one with a big ol’ smile plastered on my face.  Nothing I didn’t expect.  Cambria is , as always, a fantastic writer, and “Whiteout” is just another small glimpse at her talent.  I love the mystery in this story.  We don’t really know what is going on until about halfway in the story, and then right near the end there is another twist to keep us on the edge of our seats.  Brilliant! 

A good writer not only knows how to get into the heads of their characters but also how to drag the reader in as well.  Cambria is an expert at this, and I love it!  For such a short story, I am so pleased that I can finish with such a feeling of satisfaction, as if I had just read a 300 page novel – in much less time! 

This is a great little escape for the holidays or any day.  You definitely don’t want to miss out on this one!  

If you didn't follow my instructions earlier, you don't already have a copy, and you still need some convincing after that review, here is the fab trailer for "Whiteout":


By:  Gillian Joy
Published October 6, 2011
Available Format:  ebook, paperback

My Rating:  ★★★★☆

From very early on, Hannah knew she would one day become the Guardian, keeper and protector of all supernatural.  She didn’t expect, however, the excruciating pain (both literally and emotionally) she would endure when her mother was murdered or the difficult choices she would face in her future.  Heart-broken and forbidden from pursuing her true love, Hannah decides to start over.  But, no one can truly escape destiny, and time will only tell if Hannah is able to reconcile her duty with her heart.

This is a little something new for the paranormal lovers.  Yes, you have your vampires and werewolves and witches and nephilium, but the focus is on the Guardian – the one person in all the world that is tasked with controlling every other supernatural being.  And, she can kick butt with just her mind!  How awesome is that?!? 

There were a couple things that bothered me as I read.  First of all, Hannah is over three hundred years old.  Even being mainstreamed into society, I would expect her to speak and act much more mature and proper.  It is fine for her to be relatable, but I felt she was missing that extra wisdom that she certainly would have acquired over all those years.  I think Gabriel was much more mature than Hannah, and I guess I just wanted her to grow up a little.  Also, at some point after we discover Hannah has children of her own, the story starts to slow down quite a bit.  I think some of the extra could have been edited out to help the story move along a little faster.  It did pick up eventually; it is just hard for me to take off my editing hat when I’m reading sometimes J.

I was really anticipating the release of this book, and it was a truly great read.  The characters are all interesting, and the romance of the story is important but subtle enough it doesn’t completely overtake the story.  I think the more Gillian writes, the better she will get, and I am definitely excited to see what happens as this series continues!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Feature: Author Interview with Vickie Johnstone, author of Kiwi in Cat City

Happy Tuesday! I'm doing my feature early this week because in a couple days I'll be with family stuffing myself with turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole...  Mmmmm...  (Sorry about the drool).

But, today, my lovely guest is the author of Kiwi in Cat City, Vickie Johnstone.  You can see my review of Kiwi in Cat City (the first in the series) HERE.  Be on the lookout for reviews of the other two Kiwi books soon!

Author Interview
Kiwi in Cat City
Vickie Johnstone

GL:  Tell us a bit about yourself.

Vickie:  I’ve been working as a sub editor on business magazines since I left Uni. At the moment the mags are about mining, geodrilling and tunneling, but I’ve also worked on subjects like computers, pensions, finance, advertising, technology and insurance! I once worked on Sugar magazine for a week when freelancing, so that’s probably the lightest subject! I like art, galleries, beaches, the sea, forests, cats, animals in general as I have a fluffy addiction, movies, tarot cards, tea, Baileys, white chocolate, travelling, rock music, blues, dancing. Alaska is my favourite place that I’ve visited, followed by Venice. I’ve always loved books. I used to go through them like a locust when I was a kid. Back then I think my faves were Enid Blyton, Fantastic Mr Fox, Hans Christian Andersen and The Brothers Grimm. I started writing stories when I was at primary school. I had a really good, inspiring English teacher in senior school too. I think I started writing poetry around 15 or something.

GL:  Now, tell us about your Kiwi books.

VJ:  I wrote Kiwi in Cat City in April 2002, with good old pen and paper. I had been made redundant so I had lots of free time. I’d always wanted to write a book – I had a habit of starting them and never finishing, and I was mainly writing poetry or short stories. I had this idea to write about my cat, who I had recently lost, and it began with her. I didn’t know where the book would go, but the other characters just kept popping up in my head. Then I thought of a plot, a mystery, how the characters would know each other, interact… and the story came from there. I wrote it in about six weeks. Later on, I sent it off to a publisher, a big one, just a synopsis and a few chapters. I remember the rejection letter said that they had been flooded with children’s books because of the Harry Potter phenomena. So my book sat in a drawer. Then this year, I heard about Amazon Kindle and then Smashwords.com, so I edited Kiwi and published in it March. No-one had read it and I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but it was exciting, and I’m really thrilled that it’s no longer just sitting in a drawer. Now it’s a living book.

This year, I wrote two follow-up books. I published Kiwi and the Missing Magic in June, and Kiwi and the Living Nightmare in October, in time for Halloween.

The books are about two children, Amy and her younger brother James. One night they follow their cat to see what she does and where she goes. They figure it might involve some mouse hunting, but they are shocked when Kiwi turns round and asks them why they are following her. Kiwi then takes them on an adventure to her other home, the blue-lit Cat City, where they meet her friends and discover a new world. But they do it cat-sized because Kiwi has some powerful magic that turns them into cats. There is a mystery to solve in Cat City and the children gain new confidence.

In Kiwi and the Missing Magic, readers learn more about Kiwi, her background and how she is able to turn her friends into cats. They also meet one of her parents. Again there is a mystery to solve and there are some new characters too. Cat City is at risk of invasion and they have to help Inspector Furrball save the day. James’ pet hamster, Hammy, also gets a piece of the action!

Kiwi and the Living Nightmare is the spookiest book. It is set on Halloween. The children and Kiwi dream the same dream of a three-legged cat who needs help. They head off to the local library to try to find out about the house in the dream. In the story they meet some squirrels and encounter a scary man who tries to trap them in his house – but why? Inspector Furrball and Cat Squaddie Siam also discover the human world, with some humorous consequences.

GL:  I can't wait to dive into the other two books!

GL:  Is Kiwi a real kitty?  What parts of the character are based on the real cat?

VJ:  Yep, Kiwi was a real kitty. I had her for six years until 2000. She was fluffy, a bit tubby, and she was really curious. She liked everybody. She wasn’t shy, like my current cat. She loved going up to everyone and she’d follow me down the street in the mornings, so I’d have to make sure she was inside before I left. She also had a trick of watching people eating, waiting until they stopped noticing her and then trying to flick their food off their plate with her paw. She also used to jump for moths and chase shadows, and she looked as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. Cute as a button.

GL:  She sounds adorable.  I should have asked where you got her name...

GL:  Who was your favorite character to write?  Most difficult?

VJ:  Most difficult was probably Moggie. I didn’t want to make her too stern or bossy, although she sort of is.

My favourite character is Kiwi. When the first book began it was all about her and then the other characters emerged after. My second favourite is Furrball. I just find him funny. He’s intelligent and sort of old-fashioned but sometimes doesn’t get things. I think he’s funniest in the third book. Perhaps I take the mickey out of him a little too much. With Kiwi, I was trying not to make her Miss Know-it-all. I wanted to make her fun but not too crazy. And I had to give the good characters morals.

GL:  Was there anything that you really wanted in Kiwi in Cat City that didn’t make the cut?

VJ:  Not really. I just wrote it straight. I didn’t cut anything out. I was trying to be careful with the language. So no swearing, no violence, no innuendo really. It had to be alright for younger readers. There also had to be some morals in there. Good behaviour is rewarded, bad behaviour isn’t. In the second book, Kiwi learns that you can be overconfident. I think she’s very confident in Kiwi in Cat City! Hopefully not too cocky though!

GL:  Would you like to transform into a cat and visit Cat City?  What would be your first stop when you got there?

VJ:  Oh yes! My first stop would be Cat Crime. I want to see that building and discover its hidden talents (which emerge in book 2). Then I’d head to the Catema and watch ‘For a few Kitties More’. I imagined the Clint Eastwood film starring lots of cats, of course. And then I’d head over to the Meow Market to get a bite to eat… but no way would I be eating any of Mrs Ebenry’s famous  delicacies… I’m a veggie!

GL:  Do you use blue light bulbs in your home? J

VJ:  Haha, no, but a friend at university did! I think they would be the coolest colour. Blue is my favourite colour. It’s the colour of the sky and the sea. Blue and purple are my faves so they are all over Cat City. My friend, Mark Wass, who designed the cover for Kiwi in Cat City got the colours spot on.

GL:  It is a great cover!

GL:  Have you written anything other than the Kiwi series?

VJ:  I’ve written a book of poetry called Kaleidoscope. I’ve been writing poems since I was a teenager. This book is a collection of 119 of them. The earliest one, Moonlight Remonstrance, I wrote when I was 16. And then there are some from last year, and all of the years in between. I like writing poetry, although it’s more like flash poetry, and based on images or pictures of things, or a glimpse of someone’s life.

I also wrote some stories in a flash fiction anthology, called A Flash of Inspiration, with some of the writers in the Book Junkies group on Facebook. It’s a brilliant group. Very supportive and inspiring!

Then I have a free book of a handful of poems called Travelling Light. And I’m doing NanoWrimo, although I’ve no idea where the story is going!

GL:  What prompted you to write children’s books?  Do you think you’ll stick with that genre or maybe mix things up a bit?

VJ:  I’m not sure. My brother had recently had a daughter at the time, called Amy, and so I put her in the book along with my cat. The other characters emerged from there. I really enjoy writing the Kiwi books. The characters are really fun and you can make the plot do anything. When I was young I really loved books that took you on an adventure somewhere different with some fun and energy – a trip somewhere magical, make-believe but sort of believeable. So I wanted to create a magical world where you could go and just escape to. I grew up with a lot of animals when I was small – my dad was always bringing in wounded birds and my mum ended up with a lot of stray animals that she took in, and we had our own pets – so I was surrounded by fluffies. I used to think I could talk to my pets, especially my black cat, called Mitsy, just like a lot of kids do, so I guess there’s a lot of that in the book – imagining what it would be like to communicate with your pets and go on an adventure with them.

GL:  Well, you did a fantastic job!  And, how special for your niece... 

GL:  Do you listen to music while you write? 

VJ: No, I need silence, although I sometimes listen to music when I’m writing poetry. I like Kate Bush or Pearl Jam or something like that.

GL:  What is your number one distraction?

VJ:  People! Wanting to go out and do something new. My cat trying to jump across my laptop to grab my attention.

GL:  What is your favorite type of weather?

VJ:  Summer sunshine – beside the sea hopefully, watching the sunlight dancing on the waves.

GL:  If you could have a movie date with anyone – real or fictional, dead or alive – who would it be, and what movie would you watch?

VJ:  Top Cat and we’d watch Top Cat reruns!! Or Elvis and we’d go and watch something silly. Or maybe one of the Clangers!

GL:  What is your favorite color?

VJ:  Sky blue.

GL:  Favorite time of day?  Why?

VJ:  Relaxing time! Either when I get home from work and can just flop in peace after the Tube, or Saturday mornings when you wake up and realise you can go back to sleep, or the shower – Iove the shower. It’s the only way I wake up and I do a lot of thinking in there!

GL:  What are you working on now?  What do we have to look forward to?

VJ:  I’m doing NanoWrimo and I’ve written about 28,000 words, so I still got a way to go. It’s fiction, but not for children. It’s for adults. It’s about three people who share a house, their friends and the pet dog. There had to be an animal in it somewhere!!!

I also started writing a fantasy for teenage girls/adults. The main character is a girl aged about 20. I haven’t written much of it so I’m not sure where it’s going. But there is a mysterious old woman in it who gives the girl something precious, which changes her life and leads her in curious directions. I think the sea is going to be important in this one. I may have to put some dolphins in there.

GL:  You're way ahead of me in Nano!  I have too many of those distractions to meet my daily writing goal.  At this point, I'm not even sure I can catch up in time!  

I'm looking forward to ready the other Kiwi books and all your other work!  Thanks so much for being my guest.  You're welcome back anytime :-)...

Vickie's Links:

Kiwi in Cat City

Kiwi and the Missing Magic

Kiwi and the Living Nightmare

Travelling Light - a free preview book of poems

A Flash of Inspiration - A collection of very short stories by indie authors (anthology)

My books are also available at the Breakthrough Bookstore - supporting small bookstores

Vickie is very generously offering up a copy of each of her Kiwi books to one lucky winner! All you have to do to win is answer the following question in a comment.  Be sure to leave your email so we can contact you if you win!

If you could change into any animal for one night, what would it be?

Share the giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc. and paste the url in a comment for extra entries!!

Good luck!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Feature: Kiwi in Cat City by Vickie Johnstone

This week I am featuring my second Adopt an Indie adoptee, Vickie Johnstone.  Vickie has several works published, and I received Kiwi in Cat City for review.  Tomorrow, Vickie will be stopping by for an interview, and she has offered to give all three of her Kiwi books to one lucky reader!!  Be sure to come by and meet Vickie and enter for your chance to win...

Kiwi in Cat City
By: Vickie Johstone
Published April 28, 2011
Available Format:  ebook

My Rating:  ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:  Amy and James live in a house with their parents and their little black cat, Kiwi. One dark night, Amy cannot sleep and she looks out of the window into the garden to see Kiwi transfixed by the moon, which has taken on a weird, glowing shape like a cat's claw. Waking her brother, Amy suggests they follow Kiwi that night to see where she goes... whether it involves a hunt for mice or something else. Little do they know that, with a flick of her tail, Kiwi is going to lead them on the adventure of their lives to a land they never knew existed in their wildest dreams. In the blue-lit world of Cat City, they gain an understanding of what it's really like to be a cat. There they will be asked to help Inspector Furrball solve the mystery of the missing catizens and find out exactly what happened to Madame Purrfect.

This book is the first in a series of adventures.

Yes, this is a children’s book, but don’t let that fool you into believing that it is any less entertaining for adults!  I hung on every word of this fantastic little novel, from Amy and James’ home through Cat Crime and back again.  Kiwi and her cat friends are super fun characters, and the reader gets to go along with the children for a grand adventure.  Vickie has a terrific imagination and truly amazing talent in putting her vision into words.

As we were getting ready for the blog feature, Vickie asked me who my favorite character was, and after some thought I decided it was Inspector Furrball.  He has that intelligent quirkiness about him that makes him fun and relatable.  There were a ton of cute, funny things throughout this book which kept the mystery from bogging it down too much.  Each of the characters had their own unique personality, even the city itself.

Due to time constraints, I haven’t read this one with my kids yet, but it is definitely on our to-read-together list.  I’ve already purchased the other two books as well, and I am anxious to revisit Kiwi and Cat

Breaking Dawn Part I

Breaking Dawn Part I (The Twilight Saga)
Directed by:  Bill Condon
Screenplay by:  Melissa Rosenberg
Starring:  Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Released in theaters November 18, 2011
Rated PG-13

My Rating:  ★★★★

All those Twihard fans out there finally got their Edward, Bella, and Jacob fix this past weekend, and I couldn’t miss it either.  It’s time for Bella to make good on her promise to marry Edward, and Alice gets to put their dream wedding together.  Just like any other married couple, they jet off to an exotic location for their honeymoon, but the impossible happens.  Bella is pregnant and the baby, whatever it is, grows much faster and stronger than any human child.  The Quileutes vow to destroy the abomination, with or without Bella, and Jacob finds himself caught between his pack and his love.  The more serious complication is that the child is literally killing Bella. 

I have to admit, this wasn’t my favorite of the Twilight movies.  I still think New Moon holds that spot with Eclipse coming in second.  I felt like the beginning of this movie went a bit slowly.  There is obviously a lack of action in this film because the majority of it is about Bella and Edward getting married and going on their honeymoon.  There is one major fight scene closer to the end between the vampires and the werewolves, and of course, the birth of the baby is suspenseful.  But, now that Victoria is out of the picture, there really is no one hunting Bella down or anything like that.  So, I guess in a way it was just missing a little something for me.  I also felt a little of the chemistry between Edward and Bella was missing this time when it should have been stronger than ever.  She and Jacob had so much more happening between them.

On the other hand, there were a few really poignant moments for me as I was watching this film.  The night before the wedding, Bella surveys her empty bedroom and the emotion just flows off the screen.  She is nervous but excited and in so love.  It is very simple acting but very meaningful.  Two more instances brought this across:  the morning after she and Edward make love for the first time and after she realizes she is pregnant and decides she is going to keep the baby.  I don’t know if everyone feels the way I do about these scenes; I may feel more strongly about them because I have been married and carried children.  Nevertheless, I think Kristen and the director did a fantastic job portraying those emotions absolutely perfectly.

Overall, it was a good, true-to-the-writing movie.  The film ended exactly how I thought it would – with another heart-stopping cliff hanger, of course.  I can’t wait for part two to be released, and I am super excited to see how the last chapter of this saga is portrayed on the big screen!