Saturday, November 30, 2013

"The Adventures of Zeppi #4: Greenback Town" by C. K. Omillin

ON SALE for $0.99
The Adventures of Zeppi #4Greenback Town
by C. K. Omillin

The Adventures of Zeppi: #4 Greenback Town written and illustrated by C. K. Omillin is currently ON SALE for only $0.99 (save $1.78). The Adventures of Zeppi #1: New Friends, #8: Trip to the Castle, and #9: Ghosts at the Castle are also ON SALE for $0.99 to 31 December. 

How it all started ...
On his way to Antarctica, a young penguin named Zeppi, falls off the delivery truck and finds himself trapped in his cage in the middle of the night. Abandoned on the side of the road, he misses his parents and fellow penguins. But Zeppi is brave and struggles to free himself from his cage. He makes his way into a backyard where he finds a place to shelter for the night.
The next morning Zeppi the penguin is found by a boy named Alesdor. He is the lonely boy who wished every night for a special friend since his neighbor and best friend moved to a faraway country
Zeppi the penguin loves the mall and his favorite shop is Kingdom of Toys. When he plays a joke on his friend Alesdor in the toy store, something unexpected happens and Zeppi needs a lot of courage to get himself out of this nasty situation.

"Zeppi, where are you?" Alesdor searched for him in the aisle.
Zeppi kept quiet. He thought it would be fun to play a joke on him. Hidden under the pink cat's hat, he pretended he was a toy. He stopped breathing as his friend and Mia-Mom were seeking for him. Would Alesdor recognize him?

Book Trailer

If you've ever dreamed, as a child, that a special pet would magically appear and you and he would have a magical life together, then you can well identify with young Alesdor and Zeppi, the little penguin who lives in a teepee in Alesdor's garden. This is the fourth book detailing their adventures, this one in a department store where Alesdor almost loses Zeppi to an overzealous wildlife warden who, in some tense moments, tries to haul Zeppi off to the zoo. My inner child loves these stories. Yours will too. Highly recommended.

About the Author
Writer by day and artist by night and inspired by the world around us, bestselling author Charlotte Omillin loves creating the adventures of Zeppi the penguin.
Omillin believes we must do all we can to respect our environment and she weaves ecological tips through her stories.


Friday, November 29, 2013

"Death of the Mad Hatter" by Sarah J. Pepper

Death of the Mad Hatter
by Sarah J. Pepper

Death of the Mad Hatter by Sarah J. Pepper has just been released. You can read my review below. You can also join the Facebook online release party for your chance to win some great prizes.

If the king loses his head, then the Queen with a Bleeding Heart would rule the Red Court until Time ceased to move forward. When a second carried on for infinity, every creature in Wonderland would tip their Hat to the misfit girl with a Boy’s name (or was it a boy with a Girl’s name?) who’d end the Reign of Terror. However, it all hinged on the One-Eyed Hare being able to convince an uninspirable Heir that the impossible was indeed possible - like stopping time - and that Love was worth a Beheading.
Heads would Roll…
Hearts would Break…
In the end, would it matter who Reigned?

The Queen of Hearts kissed the King one last time before the Joker ripped the King’s head from her hands and tossed it alongside the rest of his body. The queen’s personal guards picked up the pieces and clumsily carried the dead king out of sight.
No one spoke. Only the sound of a ticking clock interrupted the stunned silence of the night. Standing next to the pool of blood, the queen let a love-letter the king had written slip through her fingers. It made no noise as it cascaded to the floor.
Appearing out of thin air, a Cheshire kitten, affectionately named Chez, who was distinguished by his white and blue stripes, playfully pawed at the letter. Extending his claws, he shredded it. The queen did nothing. When the Joker bent over and reached for the remaining pieces of the letter, the kitten bit him, drawing blood. Chez’s hair stood on end as he guarded the letter.
“If you want to play dirty, may I suggest a play date, Chez?” the Joker asked, inspecting the bite mark. His voice was as innocent as a child, but the look in his beady eyes was that of a psychopath’s. “I have all sorts of modified toys collecting dust in the dungeon.”
“Don’t antagonize the Joker, Chez. He is a bit of a schizoid,” Hearts said, picking up the kitten. She stared at the pieces of the love-letter for so long that her eye twitched. “Burn it so that no one finds out that the king loved a seamstress.”
The Joker picked up the pieces and fisted them. The recipient of the letter showed through his fingers. Dearest Genevine — He held his hand up to his mouth and blew. Pieces of the letter flew into the air and burst into flames. They flickered and fell to the floor in a pile of ash.
“I’m required to scold you for leaving your sharp toys scattered all over, Joker. It’s a pity the king had to pay for your untidiness,” Hearts said, glancing at the guillotine that was drenched in the king’s blood.
“Then I shall only take out my biggest toys when you order me to do so… again,” the Joker said and winked. “Since this is a hush-hush operation, I assume you don’t want me to kill the seamstress? Oh! Or perhaps she could have a misfortunate accident as well?”
“No, that would be far too coincidental,” the queen said, as a matter-of-fact. “Keep her alive. Isn’t it fitting that she must live, knowing her lover is dead? Oh, and see to it that she never leaves Wonderland. Everything considered, she is still the most talented seamstress in the court, and I’ll need someone sew me a black dress to wear at King Edward’s funeral.”
The Jack prophesied: If the king loses his head, then the Queen with a Bleeding Heart would rule the Red Court until Time ceased to move forward. When a second carried on for infinity, every creature in Wonderland would tip their Hat to the misfit girl with a Boy’s name (or was it a boy with a Girl’s name?) who’d end the Reign of Terror. However, it all hinged on the One-Eyed Hare being able to convince an uninspirable Heir that the impossible was indeed possible—like stopping time—and that Love was worth a Beheading.
Heads would Roll…
Hearts would Break…
In the end, would it matter who Reigned?
“Reign of Terror—everyone acts like it’s a bad thing,” the Queen of Hearts said, reading the script that Jack, the prophesier, had scribbled on an ingredients page of a violet book entitled, Sweets for the Rabbit Hole Voyager. The Mad Hatter’s crest, M.H. and a top hat, was printed on the top of every odd number page inside the book.
Hearts tore the last stanza from the Bleeding Hearts Prophecy, crumpled it into a ball, and smashed it between the pages of The Lazy Killer’s Poisons, another of the Mad Hatter’s works.
What a silly notion—dying for love. Ugh! (Cue eye-roll)
However, the faux love of her life did “misplace” his head, and he was king, until today. These two happenstances made Hearts believe that the Bleeding Heart Prophecy was about her and that her head would roll. And furthermore, it always mattered who reigned!
She pushed both of the Mad Hatter’s editions back onto the shelf, but made sure the one about poison was flipped upside-down, just to see if any of her feline servants would notice the disarray of her library. With her hands behind her back, Hearts stepped down from her golden step stool and paced around the library, which was filled with more books than anyone could read in a single lifetime.
“I have no heirs,” Hearts said, thinking out loud. “But Robby will make a fuss about sitting on the throne if I don’t act in haste. I’ve never been fond of hares. Hence, it would behoove me to damage the reputation of all the rabbits in my court, just in case this Bleeding Hearts Prophecy holds some weight.”
Wandering aimlessly around her library, she spotted a speck of dust on the third shelf. She walked over to the fainting couch and rang a silver-plated bell. Quickly, a glaring of cats raced through the door. They stood at attention on a glittering line that Hearts drew years prior, when she still loved the king.
But, that was a long time ago.
All of the cats toed the line, except for the little Cheshire kitten, Chez. His butt was high in the air as it got ready to pounce on a hopping bug near the king’s personal chambers.
“It’s filthy in here,” Hearts said as she walked past each cat, giving them a look of severe disapproval. She stopped in front of a black cat whose tail fluttered whenever she passed. “You have forty eight seconds to remove the dust I located in this room, or you’ll spend a week in solitary confinement with the Joker.”
In a panic, the cats raced around the polished library, frantic to locate the speck of dust that the queen spotted. The smaller cats flipped onto their backs and let the bigger cats use their furry bodies as dust rags. In the meantime, the queen collapsed onto a golden couch. The Cheshire kitten, who missed the formation on the glitter line, pounced on the cushion beside her. A feisty grasshopper wiggled in his mouth.
“What did you bring me, Chez?”
Chez dropped the grasshopper on the queen’s lap. The bug wore a tiny dress coat with the King’s initials and a torn heart on them: E.E. The bug wheezed, which made the kitty’s incisive purr grow louder.
Chez pawed at the grasshopper and said, “I found this creepy-crawly snooping around in rooms where it didn’t belong, like the king’s chamber.”
“Spare me from this vile kitten, my Queen! I did nothing wrong,” the grasshopper begged. He held up a miniature violin and a mangled rod. “I was only near the king’s chambers tonight because he enjoys my music before resting. I barely cracked his bedroom door when this feline attacked me! The king would never allow such behavior; so unbecoming!”
Hearts petted Chez behind his ears and talked in a baby voice when addressing the grasshopper. “Haven’t you heard? The king had a terrible misfortune earlier this evening.”
Every single cat in the library skidded to a halt. Their eyes glowed in the darkness of the night. The grasshopper swallowed noticeably hard.
“The Joker’s guillotine broke his fall,” Chez said.
“Accidental beheading,” the queen recited. “I was beside myself with horror as it happened. I’ve already spoken to the Joker about leaving his toys around. It shall never happen again.”
“Eddie, the King of Hearts, is not clumsy,” the grasshopper said and cleared his throat. He glanced at the other cats. One shook his head ‘no’ like it was a plea for the bug not to disagree with the queen, but the grasshopper didn’t listen. “Eddie would never have accidentally tripped on the weapon.”
“Are you calling me a liar, grasshopper?” Hearts spat.
“I’m saying that Eddie was not clumsy,” the grasshopper said, nervously.
Hearts’ cheeks were beat red. She was panicking.
“Edward, not Eddie,” Chez corrected, “tripped over me and fell onto the Joker’s big boy toy.”
“That’s right!” the queen said, giving Chez a quick pat on his head.
“That’s not what I saw when I was on my way to play for the king,” the grasshopper said and then slapped his hand over his mouth.
“Did you see something to contradict my claim?” Hearts lowered her face so that she and the grasshopper were eye-level.
The grasshopper shook his head. The more visibly his legs trembled, the wider the queen’s smile grew.
“Leave us, my glaring,” Hearts demanded. “The grasshopper and I have much to discuss regarding this unfortunate accident.”
The cats scampered out of the library, leaving Chez behind. The grasshopper’s eyes darted to the exit when the last cat locked the door behind it.
“Well, the King might have tripped over an unsuspecting kitten right before the Joker lost his grip on the guillotine rope, but Edward took the risk of death when he broke my heart!” The queen blinked away a nonexistent tear. “Edward wanted to leave me and our so-called loveless marriage, for a seamstress! Leave me? For a seamstress? Can you imagine my humiliation?”
The grasshopper took off hopping toward a window that overlooked the room belonging Edward’s brother.“Robby! Robby! Help me!”
“Sic him, Chez!” the queen ordered.
Chez disappeared, only to reappear on the windowsill. The kitten flicked out his claws. He slashed the red drape, allowing the moon’s light to shine through. It glistened on Chez’s claws. After jumping off the windowsill, Chez circled the injured grasshopper. When he came to face with the grasshopper, he got down on all fours. His butt went up in the air as he fixated on the grasshopper with blood thirsty eyes.
The grasshopper gulped and with his last breath, he shouted, “Hearts killed him, Robby! She pushed him over Chez so he’d land on the guillotine! Long live the rightful king, Robby Edg—!”

Book Trailer

The Queen of Hearts beheads her husband, King Edward, after finding out he has been having an affair with the Seamstress. Because of the Jack's prophesy, the Queen is now on the lookout for a boy with a girl's name (Ryley) or a girl with a boy's name (Alice, also known as Al) who will bring about the end of her reign. Alternately told from Ryley's and Alice's points-of-view in the present and through Alice's past visits to Wonderland, we slowly piece the story together. It's a puzzle worth solving.
Even though it's inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, this is a highly original story, full of dark humor, nonsense, quirky characters, and riddles. It is a fine tribute to Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. The main character is even named after Lewis Carroll's inspiration for his Alice, Alice Mae Liddell. There are a few minor editing errors but, overall, the author's writing style makes this book a pleasure to read. I loved the dynamic between Ryley (a normal high school student) and the eccentric Alice, and I especially liked the description of Ryley's and Alice's first kiss. This is definitely an author to watch.

From the Author
I specialize in dark, paranormal romance – think “happy ever after” but with a twisted, dark chocolate center. Real-life romance isn't only filled with hugs, kisses, unicorns, and rainbows. True-love can be more thoroughly described in times of darkness and tribulation. It’s in those harsh moments where you see what a person is truly capable of – both the good and bad. Sometimes prince-charming isn't always on time, and the glass slipper is a little snug. However, it doesn't mean Charming is not Mr. Right, and who says every shoe is the perfect fit?


"The Fairies of Turtle Creek" by Jill K. Sayre

FREE on iTunes
The Fairies of Turtle Creek
by Jill K. Sayre

The Fairies of Turtle Creek is Jill K. Sayre's first novel. It is a fantasy suitable for young adults and children aged 9 and up.
The ebook will be FREE on iTunes on 29 November, 2 December, and 26 December. On those days, it will be ON SALE for $0.99 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It will be listed at the discounted price of $3.99 (save $4.00) from Thanksgiving Day (28 November) to Christmas Day (25 December) on iTunes, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble (excluding the days previously mentioned).

Claire Collins is a scientifically-minded 8th grader living in Highland Park, Texas, near Dallas. Her home life changes dramatically when her brother leaves to fight in the Iraq war, and she fears her world will be even more disrupted when her estranged and eccentric grandmother comes to live with her. Grandma Faye begins telling about her own life as a 13 year old in the 1920s, through stories, diary entries, and old letters, including the fact that she believes in fairies of all things! At first, Claire is skeptical, but soon strange occurrences down by Turtle Creek make Claire question what she thought was impossible ...Could fairies really exist?

Lacey and I walked along the creek bed on our way home every Friday, but on that particular day, strange things began hap­pening. As we hopped from rock to rock, our balance was thrown off by the heavy backpacks we carried, and our feet slipped into the water now and again. Splash! Splotches of sunlight broke through the greenery overhead, flashing across our faces. The warm air whispered reminders that summer vacation was just around the corner.
“I can’t wait ‘til we can do this all day long!” With my arms straight out, I spun around, my feet sloshing in an ankle-deep pool. I slid on the slimy creek bottom and almost fell, teetering over far to the right. But, finding my balance, I landed and struck a superhero pose. “Ta-da!”
“Easy there, Claire,” Lacey laughed. “Ya nearly wiped out!”
“Are you saying that wet school books wouldn’t be a very good thing?”
Lacey raised an eyebrow and tilted her head, a smile bursting on her lips. “No, it wouldn’t.” Standing there, her black hair gleaming in the sun, she looked so pretty and confident. It was no wonder that she had so many friends. I caught my own reflection in the water and sighed.
“I’ll try to be more careful, Lacey, but hurry up. We’re almost to the stone bridge.”
We continued along the wet, rocky creek, edged with trees that quietly cheered us on with their waving leaves.
“There it is.” I pointed at the great grey arch made of giant stones just as we came around the bend. As we got closer, the cement plaque in the middle got clearer: “1913.”
“Let’s sit on the bank and soak up a few rays,” I suggested, scram­bling up the vine-covered slope to sit atop a boulder.
Lacey climbed up the bank and sat on the rock next to me.
“All of this here goopy moss is getting on my new water shoes.” She frowned and began picking the green muck off of the toes of her pink spandex with a long stick. “And it smells so musty in these parts.”
“I told you to bring an old pair of tennis shoes for creek hiking.”
“Sorry, Claire, but the shoes you’re wearing are far from fashion­able,” Lacey replied, bobbing her head from side to side.
“Who cares about fashion when you’re in this mini-ecosystem? Down in this creek bed, creatures, plants, and lots of algae grow as if they’re in a cool forest. We are in a microclimate. They don’t real­ize they’re really in a hot, dry city.” I spotted a smooth stone on the ground next to me and stretched my arm down to pick it up. I studied it—all grey with a nature-made hole in the middle. Cool.
“I love how the hustle and bustle of the world passes overhead while we are down here in a calm, organic place. We’re in what they call a chasm.” I held up the stone and stuck my finger through the hole to illustrate.
“Chasm—really, Claire? You’re always using such big ol’ words.” Lacey examined the rubber soles of her shoes. They were caked with green mud. A gush of air came from her lips. “I give up,” she said, tossing her stick to the ground.
“Shh! Did you just hear someone say something?” I looked around for another person, slipping the holey stone into my pocket.
“Hear what? I was just saying that I give-”
“Just listen a sec.”
We sat there quietly. At first we heard only birds chirping and water trickling, but then it happened again.
She’s coming! She’s coming!
“Did you hear it that time, Lacey?”
“I did. Someone’s whispering.”
“Who’s here?” I called out, jumping to my feet, searching the banks.
“I think it came from under the bridge,” said Lacey.
“Come look with me.”
Lacey stayed seated on her rock, wide-eyed.
“Lacey, I need you for moral support. You wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to me, would you?” I gave her my best sad puppy look.
She rolled her eyes. “All right, but I’m bringing a weapon.”
Lacey got off her rock, picked up the stick she’d been using to clean her shoes, and hurried over to me.
I saw how tightly her hand was clenched around the stick. “Are you scared?”
“Maybe a little. The voice didn’t really sound human. It sounded strange.”
“It’ll be okay. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for what we heard.” I grabbed her other hand. “I’ll show you.”
Wading through the water, with backpacks on, our shadows looked like two Ninja Turtles. Just when we’d reached the inside edge of the bridge bottom, we heard the hiss of She’s coming! She’s coming! again, but this time it was mixed with squeals of Soon! Soon!
“Goodness gracious!” Lacey quickly wrapped her arms around me, still clutching her stick. “There are many voices!”
We froze, standing just inside the arching blackness.
“Hello?” I called. “Who’s there?”
We waited, but there was no answer. “Let’s go in a little further.”
Lacey gulped really loudly and I could feel her body trembling. Huddled together, we cautiously took a few more steps into the dark.

Book Trailer

Being a long time friend of the author's, and having never read any of her writing, I opened her book for the first time with anticipation and curiosity about her ability to create a worthy story and to maintain the readers interest. I was completely impressed on many levels. First, as an artist myself, I found beauty starting with the soft, whimsical cover, continuing throughout the novel, with graceful lettering for each chapter title paired with charming drawings of impeccable detail. Second, the story has a perfect blend to appeal to a pre-teen and teen audience. It embraces family issues (brother leaves for war, grandmother moves in), mystery, romance, science and nature. Third, the author's descriptive writing enables the reader to vividly imagine the characters and surroundings. I highly recommend this magical story!

About the Author
Born and raised in southern California where flowers bloom year-round, Jill K. Sayre loves plants and gardening. She grew up in a small town, just outside of Los Angeles, full of beautiful Arts & Crafts homes, with her antique-collecting parents. While attending UCLA, Jill modeled and received her degree in Art. She continued on to receive her Teaching Credentials in Elementary Education, specializing in gifted learners.
Her husband’s work moved them, and their three children, to Dallas ... twice. She fell in love with the beauty found in Highland Park, Texas where she resides today. Her first book, The Fairies of Turtle Creek, is woven with the things she loves, like nature, science, art, folklore, and the early 1900s. Jill illustrated the beginning of every chapter and much of the story takes place along Turtle Creek, where she often walks her vizsla dog, Bella.
Jill currently works at an acting college, instructing teens in the areas of acting, modeling, and etiquette. She loves to help other writers and speaks on "Want to Write a Book? Let’s Get Started!", and assists parents by sharing her educational strategies when she speaks about "How to Help Your Child Become a Better Reader". She is active in her local chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), is the founder of a Dallas writer's salon, The Little Read Writing Hood, and is co-chair of the 18th annual Highland Park Literary Festival.
She is currently working on a different trilogy, the first book of which is called Grotesque, with gargoyles that come to life. There are also plans for a second book in the Fairies series, which is set in Maui, Hawaii, with sea sprites, mermaids, and the Hawaiian fairies called menehunes.