Saturday, November 30, 2013

Kindle Fire HD Raffle for Charity - Guest Post by Graham Parke

“I'm very polite by nature, even the voices in my head let each other finish their sentences.” – from Completely Flappable

Don’t you just hate it when you have a thousand little thoughts rattling around your brain, good for nothing but keeping you up at night? Ideas, worries, mental reminders for the next day? My voices can get pretty insistent, and mostly this is a nuisance, but sometimes it’s okay, when there’s a story idea or two among the ramblings. And rarely, very rarely, I get what I think is a really good idea, but one that I don't know what to do with.

For instance, a while ago it occurred to me that it’s probably not governments or big corporations that wield the world’s greatest financial power. I think it’s us. All the little people together. Then I started wondering what could happen if we all decided to set 1 month of our incomes aside towards fixing this place up a bit. How many of the world’s problems could we actually solve permanently? Half of them, maybe? All of them? That's a pretty cool picture.

But I’m a pretty dim light when it comes to implementing even small ideas, never mind the big ones. So I’m not sure how to get that ball rolling (heck, I'm not even sure where we keep the balls). But I can certainly start with myself. That’s easy enough (I’ve been in close contact with myself for years; I didn't have much trouble convincing myself.)

So, this December, all proceeds of all my novels will go to Child Helpline International. The CHI is pretty cool because they support toll-free child helplines worldwide and they help highlight gaps in child protection systems. They do all this on donations (click the image below for more information.)

But what does all this have to do with you? Well, I'm raffling off some prizes and giving out some freebees to boost the donation (expenses out of my own pocket, not the donation :P )

So what's in it for you, besides that warm, fuzzy feeling you'll get knowing the Xmas presents you’re buying include an automatic donation? Well, how about I give you the new edition to the award winning No Hope for Gomez saga completely free?
And how about a Kindle Fire HD raffle ticket with every purchase while we’re at it?
Simply forward your receipt emails to to participate.

And now, on to the pitch. This is the bit where I try to convince you, using only my words, that my novels don’t suck (or at least, not too much.) That they won’t only tickle your brain, but they’ll actually make your life better, if only marginally. That they are, in fact, worthy donation material. Here goes (fingers crossed)...

Paper: $6.08
(uk paper, kindle)

No Hope for Gomez!

Winner of the Forewords Book of the Year Awards, featured on Kirkus Best Indie List 2011, IBA and USA Book News Award nominee.

It's the age-old tale:

  Boy meets girl.
  Boy stalks girl.
  Girl already has a stalker.
  Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.

We've seen it all before, many times, but this time it's different. If only slightly.

"Extremely witty writing containing keen insights into human nature." --California Chronicle
"Challenges the way we think about, and interact with, the world around us." --Kirkus Discoveries
"The antics in this book will leave the reader laughing. Graham Parke is a genius."--Reader's Favorite

Unspent Time

Warning: reading this novel may make you more attractive and elevate your random luck by about 9.332%*

(*These statements have not been evaluated by anyone of consequence)

Permeating the cracks between the past and the present is the realm of Unspent Time. Time that was allotted but never spent. In this realm we find the stories that could have been true. Such as the story of the designer of the color scheme used inside your shoe, or the story of Goki Feng Ho: the Chinese art of decoding the secret meaning of car license plates.

Paper: $6.08
ePub : $2.99
(uk paper, kindle)

“Captivating. Each story fired up my imagination.” – Alan H. Jordan, author.
"Delightfully mad. Graham's vibrant characters shine from the first page." --Tahlia Newland, author.

Free with this event

Completely Flappable

“He’s completely flappable!”
“Don’t you mean he’s unflappable?”
“Not really. He can very easily be flapped.”

Gomez has never been on a date. In his 27 years on the planet he’s never been able to quite close the deal. For some reason, circumstances always conspire to make his meet-ups with women less than official dates. But now a blond German girl with freckles has moved into his building and he decides it’s time to get his act together.

If you've read this far, you're already my hero ;)
I hope you like my idea enough to join me in this fun adventure. Let's see how much we can raise this Xmas ;)

Kind regards,

Graham Parke

Friday, November 29, 2013

Mom & Me & Mom Book Review

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou is the first book by Maya Angelou that I have ever read. I am not a big poetry reader so I have never really picked up her books. However, this is a partial memoir by Angelou that tells of her relationship with her mother and the things she learned.

When I started reading, the voice quickly brought me into the work. It reads like fiction. I kept thinking, fact is stranger than fiction. The things that happened to the author seem like something straight out of a fictional family saga.

I learned some about the author that I didn't know. I was inspired by her mother's strength and flaws. We all make mistakes, but we do not have to let them get us down. We all have something we want to achieve in life and there is no reason we can't go after it AND attain it.

I enjoyed this book and I will look into Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

I recommend this book.

Rating 5/5

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Testing

The Testing

Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing, Book 1

About the Author: (Amazon)
Joelle Charbonneau is a storyteller at heart. She has performed in a variety of operas, musical theatre and children's theatre productions across the Chicagoland area. In addition to her stage work, Joelle has also performed with several bands and worked as a solo performer.While Joelle is happy to perform for an audience, she is equally delighted to teach private voice lessons and use her experience from the stage to create compelling characters in her mysteries. She is the author of the Rebecca Robbins (Minotaur Books), the Glee Club Paige Marshall (Berkley) mysteries and the YA The Testing trilogy (The Testing, Independent Study and Graduation Day Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's).To learn more, visit Joelle at her website:

Summary: (Amazon)
It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await.

I'd Recommend to:
Hunger Games Fans & 8-9th graders

My Rating:

My Thoughts:
As soon as I received this book, before even reading it, I had a suspicion it would be like the Hunger Games. I was right. However, although I did not read the Hunger Games books I have seen the movies and I liked The Testing better. I mainly went to see The Hunger Games because of all the hype that it had, but I feel like I would voluntarily go see The Testing. 
The world is caked and destroyed after 7 stages of severe war has ruined it. Now there are few colonies set up under a United Commonwealth. Cia is from Five Lakes Colony (previously the Great Lakes). Every year, the top graduating students get selected for The Testing - a way to see if they're suited for the University and to become the next leaders of the United Commonwealth. Five Lakes hasn't sent anyone for the testing in 10 years, until this year. Cia, Tomas, Malachi, and Zandri are all selected for the testing and must go or face the penalty of death. Little do they know, unless the make it to the University, they'll die anyway. Two out of the four from Five Lakes ends up dead. The other two complete all the challenging tests and over come many obstacles and finally succeed into becoming University students. They have no idea how though, since the United Commonwealth has erased all memory of the testing. Fortunately for one of them, the experiences were recorded, unknown to the officials. What happens next is a mystery, and we'll have to wait until the next book in the series comes out to find out!
This book is a pretty quick read. The action and suspense keeps you reading until you can't open your eyes any longer. It'd make a great gift to Hunger Games fans or readers in the last stages of middle school or first stages of high school. Or if you're looking for a quick but entertaining read, try it out for yourself! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Marc Jacobs Fragrances - Daisy, Daisy Eau So Fresh

Marc Jacobs is well known for his fragrances. Daisy and Daisy Eau So Fresh help me to understand why - they smell great! Personally, I prefer the Eau So Fresh over the original, but I have received many compliments while wearing both (only wearing one at a time, though!). 
Usually I stick to tropical scents - Hawaiian this, Island that...Hollister and Soul Surfer. These smells, however, are not tropical, yet I still enjoy them. Whereas with my usual sprays, I could probably send someone into an overdose with the amount I use, with these Marc Jacobs fragrances, less is more. A lot does not need to be sprayed to get the same strong lasting smell. 
With Christmas getting close and Hanukkah already upon us, people are ready to do some gift-searching. If you still need to purchase a gift for someone or wish to tell someone what you want, but don't know what, consider one of these Marc Jacobs fragrances.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Turned at Dark Short Story Review

Della thinks she sees her dead cousin run into an alley. Rather than run the other way, she investigates. What investigation ever had a good ending that began with the sighting of a supposedly dead relative running into a dark alley? Exactly. Now Della has big problems.

I liked this short story. It was a fresh take on the genre. I liked the inner turmoil of Della's character. Finally someone who doesn't see the glamour of vampires. There was a lot of character development packed into this short story without it being overwhelming. I felt I really got to know Della and I cared what happened to her.

The author's style is easy to get lost in and just enjoy the story. I recommend this short story and will be looking for more from this author and what happens next for Della.

Rating 5/5

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Starfire Angels: Dark Angel Chronicles #1 Book Review

Starfire Angels Dark Angel Chronicles #1 by Melanie Nilles

What we think we know of angels may be completely wrong.

Raea wakes up in a cold sweat. She has dreamed of her mother again. Her mother has wings. Is it because she died 13 years ago and Raea's subconscious wants her to believe her mother is in a better place watching over her? For normal teens that would probably be the answer, except Raea wakes from one of these dreams with wings of her own.

Starfire Angel Book # 1 of the Starfire Angels: Dark Angel Chronicles by Melanie Nilles reveals a possible truth about angels, at least for Raea, as she discovers her true origins.

As I began this book, it was hard to really immerse myself. The story is written in third person limited where we are being told about Raea while still being privy to her thoughts and feelings. Here is where I had problems. Her thoughts were not distinguished by italics or even a new paragraph so that I would know that she wasn't speaking aloud. I thought the book should've been written in first person. But as I got farther into the story, I was allowed glimpses into other characters' heads.

The author also did something I personally haven't seen before. She put dialog in brackets to represent when characters were speaking another language. So even though the words I was reading were in English, it was supposed to represent another language. It was different in an interesting way once I figured out what the brackets meant. Although the author's style distracted me, I eventually got used to it.

Turning to the characters: Raea's point-of-no-return moment fell flat for me. She didn't have a defining personality and I wonder if the author wanted readers to be able to insert themselves into the story. The only character that really elicited any response from me was Josh. I wanted to just smack him! He talked way too much. Raea had really negative thoughts about him in the beginning. I thought she was just being mean. But by the end of the book I completely understood.
The Starfire creeped me out. I'm not really sure I understood their purpose.

The bad guy was obvious and a weak character. I kept wondering what his purpose was too because for a long time he wasn't doing anything “villianly." The other characters pretty much stood around waiting for their turn to say their lines. Cardboard cut outs.

The setting was new for me. I've never been to the Dakotas. The snow played a role in certain plot points that made it interesting.

The description was sparse but functional.

The world building is what kept me reading. The ideas behind this story are unique and intriguing. Raea's origin has rich history, language, and destiny. I suppose since this is the introduction to the series, we have to suffer through a boring plot to set up the real action. I'd like to read the next book to see if it really does become more exciting because Raea just couldn't carry this story alone.

I can't give it a 5 because the events in this story are unoriginal and predictable. But I can't give it 3 stars because the background is original and tantalizing.

I recommend readers give it a try, but don't expect much from our heroine this time around. On to book two.

Rating 4/5
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Friday, November 8, 2013

The Magnificent Twelve: The Call Book Review

The Magnificent Twelve: The Call

Mack has issues. His issues begin with his twenty or so phobias and continue with him being named a hero-the only one who can save the world from the Dread Foe.

I laughed out loud at this book. It is a quick read with a quick wit. The reader is invited along on an adventure that doesn't seem likely to succeed. But it's such an enjoyable read that you hardly notice that the hero will probably get squashed-either by bullies at his school or the mother of all evil!

This middle grade book is full of great dialog. Mack and the narrator keep the reader entertained. Grimluk's story is also intertwined well and compliments Mack's story-providing just what the reader needs to move the plot forward. Not many of the characters have just regular conversations. Humor is woven throughout yet it doesn't seem contrived. Although there are a few stereotypes, they also have wonderful twists to their personalities and are consistent in all situations. The Golem is cute.

The plot action does move quickly and has many surprises. I could've done without all the fragmented sentences, but it doesn't distract too much. My favorite part is the airplane scene.  Brilliant.

This installment of The Magnificent Twelve takes the reader to Australia. We get a real feel for the landscape without being bogged with too much description.

I enjoyed the first chapter of the second book The Trap. Hope the "Wow" factor can sustain through the series because Mack getting knocked out was starting to get a bit old.

I recommend this for a fun read.

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Rating 5/5

Monday, November 4, 2013


Throughout the ages, the conflict of good versus evil has been included in many stories and poems, such as Beowulf. In this poem, Beowulf must face and defeat monsters, including the evil Grendel. Through bloody and gruesome fights, Beowulf continuously triumphs over the monsters, symbolizing the victory of good over evil. In Beowulf, the narrator uses allusions, archetypes, and imagery to illustrate how good always triumphs over evil.
            The narrator uses allusions to characterize Grendel as evil. Grendel is described as a "monster born of Cain", alluding to the biblical story of Cain and Abel (20-21). According to the Bible, Cain was cursed by God for murdering Cain's brother, Abel. When the narrator mentions Grendel's genealogy, he is proving Grendel's evilness. By being a descendant of Cain, Grendel is also cursed by God, and therefore is the epitome of evil. Although Grendel represents this evil, he is still able to be defeated. Grendel ends up dead, symbolizing the death of the evilness. With such an evil creature dying, the creature loses the ultimate battle.
            Beowulf is an archetype of the Epic Hero. The narrator uses this archetype to prove his point about good winning the battle against evil because in being a hero Beowulf is considered good. Beowulf falls into this Epic Hero category due to his possession of the proper characteristics of the Epic Hero. For instance, he is brought into the story while Herot is already experiencing extreme turmoil and terror. Grendel is already killing the innocent people of Herot and "[running] out with their bodies" before Beowulf is even mentioned (38). Once he is included in the poem,   Beowulf encounters the monster Grendel, a Grendel's mother, and a dragon, and easily defeats those adversaries, alone. No one else dares encounter these tasks. To be an epic hero, one must also be the perfect hero in the eyes of the culture the hero is coming from. Beowulf is the perfect example of an Anglo-Saxon warrior, also adding to his title as an Epic Hero, since he belongs to the Anglo-Saxon culture. Beowulf lives and dies honorably, drinks a lot, and fights monsters. Because of this, he is a prime example of an Anglo-Saxon hero. He is also a prime example of a Epic Hero, which proves his goodness. Since he is the symbol of this goodness, and he defeats the evil monsters, symbolically good defeats evil many times in this poem.
            Bloody fights between Beowulf and his opponents, demonstrated by the gruesome imagery, symbolize the battles between good and evil. The narrator describes how Grendel's shoulder is "bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder snapped, muscle and bone split and broke" to emphasize the struggle between Grendel and Beowulf (497-499). In order to split and break Grendel's strong muscles and bones, the fight must have been extremely violent. This violence symbolizes the violence between the fight of good and evil. Just as it took a lot to damage and ultimately kill Grendel, it sometimes takes just as much to damage and kill the evilness. But, it is possible, as we see with Beowulf and Grendel. Beowulf always wins, just as good always wins over evil.

            Try as it might, evil cannot overcome good, as is evident in Beowulf. Grendel represents evil and Beowulf represents good. Because Beowulf finishes Grendel, it is concluded that good defeats evil. This realization creates the truth of the poem; good prevails over evil. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Origin Book Review

Origin by J.A. Konrath is something else. What? I'm not sure. The story opens with Andy Dennison being offered/coerced into a job with the U.S. Government. In a secret underground installation, a creature has finally awakened from a coma 100 years after its discovery. Who knows how long it was there before then. But someone buried it eighty feet deep. That should have told the people who discovered it something. But people don't always pay attention to the obvious. One other little obvious detail is that the creature looks like Satan. Raise your hand if you think this doesn't end well.

So Andy is brought into the project because his is a great linguist and the creature is speaking a language not heard in thousands of years. As he and the two doctors, a geneticist, a rabbi, a priest, and one star general try to figure out the creature; he has already figured them out.

I was very much entertained and horrified at the same time. I could definitely see this as a movie. It has the character development of a Stephen King novel where they each have something in their past that is important to the plot. The personalities were a bit "stock," but that's what makes it work. Each character plays their part in the puzzle and the reader just watches waiting to see who or if anyone will survive.

The setting takes place in a secret underground facility that was built in the early 1900s. It grew extensively over the years while the Satan-creature was asleep. This place also plays a vital role in the plot.

The dialog is good. It does get a bit windy in places; but it is a "Techno Thriller" so there is a lot of medial, biological, and religious detail. A lot. Although, I did get the general idea of what the characters were saying in those places. I don't know if all of it was correct, but the author sure does make it seem legitimate.

The book's ending concluded in a satisfactory way, the expected outcome for a survival type book. However, there is a twist, and it does leave room for a possible sequel. I could see the movie version doing well and then a different director and different cast and different writers coming in to make B-movie sequels.

This original story is worth the read. I recommend for horror and supernatural thrillers. It's a fun read if you liked being creeped out. Happy Halloween!

Rating 4/5

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