Deceiver: Mystical Mountain Magic Book 1 by Guy Brooke

Deceiver: Mystical Mountan Magic Book 1

by Guy Brooke

Genre: Fantasy, Children

Four Stars

The world has become a harsh and hopeless place, and the only hope for it lies in the mountain of Misty.

In the forests around Misty live two refugees and their baby girl who will play a key role in the mountain’s plans. Yes, the mountain has plans, along with his unusual friend. The natives who live at the base of the mountain and even the animals will all play a part in the plan, because a terrible creature has invaded their home. With its beautiful, haunting song it will lead them to destruction purely for its own enjoyment. This monster and its unknown plans threaten to destroy the only chance for hope in to return to the world.

Deceiver is a delightfully whimsical story, reminiscent of a Native American folk tale. The vibrant characters drew me in and pulled me through a story that kept me guessing what could possibly happen next. With so many reboots and formulaic novels out there, it is really refreshing to be able to enjoy a story that keeps me wondering.

I especially enjoyed the character of Misty. Seldom have I read about a living mountain and I loved to hear how Guy brought a geological formation to life. And he certainly did!

Aside from a little bit of repetitive sentence structure and poetry rhythm that worried me a little, this story had everything I could ask for. The story is written as the beginning of a series, not so much a stand-alone story. The ending made me impatient to see how the characters fare after their fantastic adventure, so I am excited to read and review the second book next.

Buy on Amazon

Doom & Gloom by Monica Shaughnessy

Doom & Gloom

by Monica Shaughnessy

Genre: Children, Science Fiction, Action

Four Stars

Dane Winters suffers from a rare disease that makes him “allergic” to sunlight. If UV rays or even strong lamps hit his skin, they cause lesions that could kill him. Lucky for Dane, his family is wildly wealthy. The Winters’ own a technology company that pretty much owns the town where Dane lives. But that doesn’t mean he’s the town celebrity. His need to hide from the sun makes him a recluse and a stranger to most people. His caregiver Maeve and his fencing instructor Alexandrov live with him and comprise his makeshift family, while his best friends Jinx and Charles comprise his social group.

Despite his lonely existence, Dane loves his hometown of Winterville. When thugs take over and terrorize the town, he and Jinx devise a plan to save the town by reviving their old imaginary heroic duo, Doom and Gloom. This time, though, they will use Dane’s family’s amazing inventions to turn their make-believe real and beat the bad guys.

Dane is a great character for a kid to follow. He feels all the self-conscious and frustrated feelings of a kid of 12 along with the challenges of his disability. His bravery not only overcomes the natural obstacles of his life, but the unusual ones as well.

The story felt a little hard to follow at first due to the author’s interesting technique of interrupting her own paragraphs with new information. Perhaps I got used to it later on, because it seemed to either go away or become a part of the young boy character.

I loved all the setbacks that Dane had to address and the creative way he followed them. Though as a parent, my hair stood on end at the rebellious streak or the attraction to danger, I appreciated the kid point of view and the dawning awareness that his parents were humans with faults.

Buy on Amazon

Ping Ping Panda and the Power of Personal Responsibility


Ping Ping Panda and the Power of Personal Responsibility

by Bernadette Shih & Stephen Smoke

Genre: Children, Folk Tale

Four Stars

I read Ping Ping Panda: The Power of Personal Responsibility with my 5-year-old son. I really like the purpose behind the story and the message to kids about taking responsibility.

Ping Ping the Panda receives a bag of money from his father for summer activities, telling him that it must last the whole summer. At a festival, Ping Ping and his friends enjoy all the cash and use it all on games, treats, and rides. When he returns home, he argues with his father about the money. Ping Ping is angry that his father sticks to his decision not to give Ping Ping more money. Father has a plan, though, and gives Ping Ping extra work. When the work is done, Ping Ping’s father gives him pay for his work. Over the summer Ping Ping earns enough money to go to the Big Concert and bring his friends along.

My son said he liked the story and the pictures, and his favorite part was where Ping Ping took his friends to the concert.

I enjoyed the bright, colorful pictures and the story’s admirable theme. The character pictures show cute and varying emotions in an interesting historical environment.

As a parent, I appreciate any reinforcement of my own lessons about responsibility. It is so easy in this fast and bountiful culture to miss the appreciation of what we have and of others’ generosity.

This book is written in the present tense, and I’m not a fan of that style. I feel the switch in the dialogue between past, present, and future tense, while correct, still makes for awkwardness in the flow of the story. This may not bother other readers. The story also uses a few big words which may be difficult for younger children. I don’t mind the bigger words because a few included in the story becomes an opportunity to teach a child vocabulary.

Ping Ping Panda: The Power of Personal Responsibility is a charming story that children will enjoy and learn a positive message. I approve this title for Awesome Indies.

Book Trailer:

Buy on Amazon

Poppy the Proud by Emlyn Chand

Poppy the Proud

By Emlyn Chand

Illustrated by Sarah Shaw

Genre: Children

Poppy is a peacock with an ego problem. He is the most beautiful in the park and it’s gotten to his head. When a beautiful white peacock chick named Snow arrives in the park one day, Poppy is eclipsed. Why does everyone love this new kid? How can Poppy get back the admiration he deserves?

This was a darling tale about getting over yourself. Poppy learned image isn’t everything through failed attempts to beautify himself and the humiliation that followed.

I wondered if the format that appeared on my Samsung Galaxy seven inch tablet would not provide enough picture stimulation for Corbin, but the pretty peacock-feather details helped keep his eyes entertained. I would have liked to have heard more about the festival where Poppy was covered in colored powder. Though a bird might not know the name of the festival, we humans were interested.

I really love tales of redemption! I read it to my four-year-old son, Corbin, who enjoyed the story and loved the bright pictures. He said “My best part was when the peacocks put their heads in the shirt.” The language and message were perfectly understandable to a child of only four, and were relevant to a wide range of ages. Image and appearance are such an important topic in life today with cameras in every hand, and I really appreciated reading my son the message that it’s about making others happy and caring for them, and not about being praised.

Thank you for the lovely story, Emlyn!

Book trailer –

Buy on Amazon

GoodReads –

Into The Mist: Silver Hand by Steve Finegan

Into The Mist: Silver Hand

by Steve Finegan

Genre: Children, Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology

Gabe is a young teen under pressure. He has just moved to a new town, facing a new house, a new school, and all the trouble that comes with it. In addition to his regular stresses, he lives with an epilepsy disorder resulting from a head injury when he was little. Strangely, his affliction initiates a connection to something fantastic. After meeting the perky neighbor girl, Ellie, supernatural things begin to happen to Gabe. A strange wood full of old trees, a ruin, a witch’s ghost, and a creepy legend all lead into the Mist.

Steve’s story is packed with action, fantastic scenes, and heroics. Gabe’s calling and unique challenges flavor this story with realism alongside the supernatural. All the awkwardness of life as an early teen, coupled with that knowledge that somehow he is different from everyone, inferior, makes Gabe a compelling character. The amazing things he has to do to overcome his fear and doubt to set things right make me want him to succeed.

I did feel that sometimes the flow of the story was interrupted by excessive description. I sympathize with the author’s love of his scenery and ceremony, but I think he would have achieved better flow if he had left it to the reader to imagine some of the setting.

The ending left me wanting more, which was intentional. Themes of honor, trustworthiness, consideration, and responsibility made it an excellent read for kids. I particularly liked his themes of redemption and how it wasn’t an easy fix. Gabe had to suffer to make things right when he screwed up. I can’t wait to see what happens in the continuation!

Buy on Amazon

Buy on Smashwords

Buy at Barnes & Noble

Many-Coloured Realm by Anne Hamilton

Many-Coloured Realm

by Anne Hamilton

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Children’s

Robertina, or Robby, is in a quandary. Her group school project with partners Neil and Stephen is due and neither boy is stepping up to help. Stephen is a bully and Neil is just plain weird. Robby’s fears that Stephen will harm their odd third partner are put aside when Stephen disappears. In her quest to discover what happened to him, Robby stumbles into a confusing and fantastic realm. Neil isn’t a human boy after all, but part of this bizarre place, and Stephen followed him there only to be trapped in an “immurement”. Tossed into the reality-bending land of the Goblins along with Stephen’s step-brother Chris, they become entangled in a centuries- old conflict between elves and Goblins and are forced to grow more involved in order to free the trapped Stephen. Is the Goblin King being helpful or causing trouble? Can they trust anyone? Why can the penguin Artemys fly–and talk? Can they save Stephen, even if he doesn’t deserve it, and go home? Will they want to leave?

Anne has crafted a fantastic and engaging adventure! She mixes a delightful concoction of fantasy, physics, mythology, and philosophy. The detail of the story was just amazing, with humorous and clever layers upon layers. I felt the natural affection the characters formed for one another through trials of confusing politics and deadly peril.

I really wanted to share this story with my kids, but for an 8-year-old and an impatient 11-year-old, it wasn’t simple-spoken enough even when I read aloud. This is really a Young Adult novel. The publisher has classified it as childrens’ fiction for some reason, but it is really more age-appropriate for young adults. The words were complex and too rich for younger readers to easily comprehend. I do know a 10-year-old with a college reading level for whom this might be perfect, though! I’ll put in a comment when I’ve gotten it to her. Her mom is always looking for reading-level-appropriate material that isn’t too adult.

As an adult who enjoys young adult and even children’s fiction, this book was wholly enjoyable. It exercised my brain while I enjoyed it too. It really was so well-packed that I could read it a few more times and still discover new things. Maybe I will if my friend’s little girl will ever let me have it back once she’s gotten her hands on it.

Buy it here:

Buy through Amazon

The Last Dawn by Christina Lasater

The Last Dawn

by Christina Lasater

Genre: Romance, Fantasy and Futuristic

Madison is a young woman forced to confront her past before the destruction of earth. After painful separations and confessions between those closest to her, she and the rest of humanity must flee Earth as it plummets into the sun.  Madison is forced onto a spaceship and away from everyone she knows. On Athera, her new planet, she faces an ordered but harsh life. Can she endure this life or must she escape to find her loved ones at the risk of her freedom?

This was a short, sweet, simple tale of adventure and strong emotion. Madison is a passionate girl who must push forward despite her inner turmoil. I really liked the deep inner struggles Madison displayed when faced with impossible situations.

As for negatives, the present-tense perspective of the story isn’t my favorite style, and I think the editing could have been more thorough, especially with word choice. I would have liked to hear more of the story, too, with greater detail in the scenes. It would have given me more time to connect with the characters’ emotions.

The dreamlike quality of the main character’s experiences really interested to me. There was an almost surreal quality to the changes she faced fleeing the doomed Earth. I kept wondering if she would wake up, or if there would be other worlds. I think the author could have entertained me twice as long with details about more planets.

I enjoyed the ironic confrontation at the climax of the action and the choice Madison had to face there. I won’t ruin it for you though! Read it for yourself!

Buy The Last Dawn here:

Inspiring Childhood, Inspiring Life by Nadia Riell

Inspiring Childhood, Inspiring Life:

Perspectives on Love, Encouragement, and Reaching Potential

by Nadia Riell

Inspiring Childhood, Inspiring life is a collection of heartfelt messages written to a beloved child. Each is packed with affirmations, instruction, wisdom, and affection. Sometimes starkly honest, these messages are timeless truths that every child should hear from a parent or caring adult.

This book is ideal as a reminder to parents about what our children need to hear. Reading it aloud to a child or just using it as a reference for important discussions would enhance any parent/child relationship. It is gentle but truthful about tough realities of life, but expressed in such a loving way that they become a great encouragement.

These days we are losing the richness of the parent/child relationship in our busy, technology-centered world. Truths that our Grandparents knew have been diluted or lost with the abundance of information and barriers between generations. Inspiring Childhood, Inspiring Life is filled with all the keys to regaining those truths for those who were deprived of their benefit in their own childhoods or who fear that loss for their own children.

Written in a short but wisdom-packed format, it is easy to peruse or read cover to cover. It’s also a great daily reading for that personal time with the kids. Discussion and interaction naturally flow out of these ideas, making them an excellent discussion guide. The lessons can apply to any age and can be understood from young childhood to the teenage years, and even into adulthood.

Nadia Riell doesn’t just write this as theory; She lives it with her own children. These are her own wishes and hopes spoken to her little ones, and they are already benefiting from her lessons. She views her children as one of life’s chief blessings and strives to care for them thoughtfully and purposefully.

I highly recommend Inspiring Childhood, Inspiring Life for parents and caregivers as a perfect reminder and resource for loving and communicating with your children through life.

For more about the author, visit

Inspiring Childhood, Inspiring Life is available in ebook and paperback form:

To buy on Amazon


You can read Kathleen Firstenberg’s review at