Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

button

TITLE: Gwendy’s Button Box
AUTHOR: Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4)

 

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
Stephen King teams up with long-time friend and award-winning author Richard Chizmar for the first time in this original, chilling novella that revisits the mysterious town of Castle Rock.

There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs. Every day in the summer of 1974, twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson has taken the stairs, which are held by strong—if time-rusted—iron bolts and zig-zag up the precarious cliffside.

Then one day when Gwendy gets to the top of Castle View, after catching her breath and hearing the shouts of kids on the playground below, a stranger calls to her. There on a bench in the shade sits a man in black jeans, a black coat, and a white shirt unbuttoned at the top. On his head is a small, neat black hat. The time will come when Gwendy has nightmares about that hat…

The little town of Castle Rock, Maine has witnessed some strange events and unusual visitors over the years, but there is one story that has never been told—until now.

Buy it HERE on Amazon! 

THE CRITICAL POINTS

WRITING: I’ve never read anything by Richard Chizmar, but I’ve always loved Stephen King. This book, although it doesn’t have the creepy factor of a typical Stephen King book it does still have the mystical… magical elements that are all to familiar with reading Stephen King. One of the things I love most about reading Stephen King’s writing is that he doesn’t treat his readers like they’re stupid. He assumes you’re just going to be able to suspend your disbelief and fall into this world he has created as if it is the most natural thing in the world. The funny thing is, you do. I crack the spine and instantly I’m transported to a whole new world where everything-anything is possible.

STORY: The story was simple. It asks the question, if you had a magic button box that could destroy lives and essentially grant your every desire, what would you do? OK, that is dumbing it down a bit, but you get the point. Simple story, but then you ask that question of a twelve year old girl and lay on her the responsibility of protecting the box and essentially the world and it becomes much more complex.

CHARACTERS: The story follows Gwendy, from the time she is twelve until after her college graduation. Although it’s a fast read, I still feel like the reader really gets to know Gwendy. We understand her decisions and we can even anticipate what she is going to do next. I love that in such a short novella, Stephen King and Richard Chizmar are still able to satisfy my craving for detail and in depth character development.

APPEARANCE: Beautiful cover. It doesn’t give anything away and yet, when you read the book the cover fits perfectly.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video!

https://youtu.be/41pgu7-ynzA

Watch the Gwendy’s Button Box Signing and Live Question & Answer with Richard Chizmar:

https://youtu.be/dinOukMBUVA

I GIVE UP… My 12-Year-Old is Smarter than ME!

gray monkeys

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

I GIVE UP… MY 12-YEAR-OLD IS SMARTER THAN ME!!!

Yeah right! But, that is what she thinks.

How many of you moms out there have dealt with or are dealing with children that believe they know what is best for them… better than you do? I believe, in my gut, that every child goes through this phase. The bad news is… I hear it’s a pretty long phase. My daughter started at about age 8… she is 12 now and still in said “phase.”

Her motto seems to be:

“I’m Right and You’re WRONG”

Okay, maybe she doesn’t actually say the words… not out loud, but they are clear as day in her actions.

I honestly feel… believe, maybe naively, that as the mother, when I ask my child to do something, “Please clean your room”, “It’s time to brush your teeth”, “Get ready for bed”, “Homework time” these are not suggestions. These are in fact what needs to get done AT THAT TIME! Not 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or 2 hours later.

I also believe that when I have to ask the same thing multiple times… because my child failed to listen the first ten times… that is a clear sign of disrespect and defiance on the part of my child.

Last year, during her first year in middle school, I had a breakthrough!
An “AH-HA” moment if you will!

I sat my daughter down, after the fifth argument of the day, and had the following discussion with her:

Me: Sweetheart, you know mommy loves you, right?
Daughter: Yes.
Me: Do you know that mommy has a reason for asking you to do the things I ask you to do?
Daughter: Yes.
Me: Then why do you consistently choose not to listen?
Daughter (with a very ‘I’m pissed at you’ look on her face): I DON’T WANT TO DO IT!
Me: I understand that, I do. But, homework has to be done, even when we don’t want to do it.
She just sat there.
Me: Okay, fine. I am tired, of arguing with you. I am tired, of having to take your phone away…
Daughter: I DON’T WANT YOU TO TAKE IT.
Me: (Deep Breath) I didn’t say I was taking it away. I said I was tired of taking it away.
Daughter (Dirty Look)
Me: Now, as I was saying. I’m not going to fight you anymore. If you believe you know what is best for you, better than I do, then I have to trust that. I’m just going to let you make your own decisions and then you will have to deal with the consequences.
Daughter: What do you mean?
Me: Well, if you don’t want to do your homework, then you are going to have to deal with what your teacher does tomorrow. If you want to eat ten pieces of candy after school you will have to deal with the painful dentist visit when he has to fill your cavities, or the tummy ache at bedtime. If you don’t want to put your dirty clothes in the hamper, then you will have to deal with the fact that your laundry doesn’t get clean.
Daughter: Fine.
Me: Fine. Oh, and I’m not going to fight you in the morning trying to wake you up any more either. That means, I will tell you it is time to get up, but if you don’t get up and take your shower and get ready for school by the time we have to leave… I guess you’ll be going to school in your pajamas.

***

The conversation ended shortly after that. About an hour later she apologized for arguing with me about doing her homework and the candy she had wanted. I explained that all little girls believe they know better than their mommy and that it was okay. I also told her that it doesn’t change anything, that I think it is time for her to learn from her own mistakes instead of me trying to help her avoid the small mistakes that in the end won’t hurt her.

Later that night… she listened better. I would ask her once to do something, and if she didn’t do it I didn’t ask again. Example: I asked for her to put her clean clothes away (I had just folded laundry) and after five minutes she hadn’t done it, so I started to do it myself. She quickly got up and did it herself.

The next morning, I told her once to get up… It took her a while but, she did it. She ended up running out the door at the last-minute trying to finish breakfast and pack her lunch – YEAH – She told me that morning that she wanted to pack her own lunch from that point on!

Oh well, life goes on. I’m sure that once she hits twenty she will realize that yes, sometimes Mommy does know best.

***

So, moms out there… have you been through this? Got any advice for those of us going through it now?

My 2 Cents… Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Maze RunnerMaze Runner: The Death Cure – Young hero Thomas (played by Dylan O’Brien) embarks on a mission to find a cure for a deadly disease known as “The Flare”.

Let me start by saying that I LOVED the first movie in this series. With that said, I sat through this movie going, “Wait, what? Did I miss something?’ I felt completely lost, as if huge chunks of the story had been left out – skipped – or just deleted in editing.

Sure, there were some pretty awesome action sequences, but the story left me feeling disappointed and counting the minutes of my life that I’ll never get back.

Side note… Barry Pepper (as Vince) was awesome! Seriously Barry, where have you been? Hollywood needs to cast you more!!!

Watch the official trailer here:

Tidal by Amanda Hocking

Tidal

TITLE: Tidal
AUTHOR: Amanda Hocking

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.5)

 

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
Don’t miss Tidal, the spellbinding third book in the Watersong series by New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking!

Gemma and Harper Fisher are facing the fight of their lives. Gemma has been cursed with extraordinary powers that have a terrifying dark side, but she’s finally found what she needs―a way to break the curse and become human again. But finding the means to do it will be her greatest challenge yet. And now Penn, Lexi and Thea―the gorgeous but deadly creatures who cursed her―are determined to kill her before she has a chance. Making matters worse, Penn has her sights set on Daniel―the guy Harper loves―and Penn always gets what she wants.

As Gemma and Harper race to break the curse before it’s too late, they’re thrust deeper into a mythical world of immortal secrets. They must delve into their enemies’ past to find the answers they need, even if it means being drawn deeper into their savagely beautiful world. But one of the girls is not what she seems…and Gemma finds an unlikely ally as she struggles to save herself. But will it be enough to break an ancient curse that no one has ever escaped alive?

Buy it HERE on Amazon! 

THE CRITICAL POINTS
Before I get into the book… lets first talk about the Author. Amanda Hocking WAS an indie-author, like me and so many others. But, somehow, she beat all the odds and managed to find a way to get her books seen – AND READ. In early 2011, she was averaging 9,000 book sales each day!!! Trust me, that is no easy task. It’s hard enough to sell 9 books a week much less 9,000 a day. In March of 2011, she signed her first conventional publishing contract with St. Martin’s Press, a 4-book deal, and joined the big leagues. In 2015, she announced that she had signed a new 3-book deal with St. Martin’s press and her success just continued to skyrocket.

As an indie-author, I’d love to pick her brain and find out what it was she was doing, in those early years, to spread the word about her books. I personally find marketing myself and my books to be the hardest part of being an indie-author. How you get hundreds, let alone thousands of sales, in a day I’d love to know. I’d love to get my hands on her “marketing pan.”

WRITING: Hocking writes young adult paranormal fiction/urban fantasy (like me)… I LOVE THIS STUFF! I’ve found some typos throughout the book, but I can’t remember the last book I read that didn’t have any typos. I honestly don’t fault the author for that. It’s her job to make the story interesting, the editor is the one who is supposed to ensure the grammatical issues and typos are dealt with.

STORY: I picked this book up at the Dollar Tree… I liked the cover and I had read a couple of books by Hocking in the past, so I was intrigued. I didn’t know, at the time, that Tidal was the third book in a series. With that said, the first 1/3 of the book seemed very odd… as if I was missing huge chunks of the story. Truth be told – I WAS! I’m sure that if I had read books one and two I would have been up to speed and loving it. In the end however, it didn’t really matter that I hadn’t read the first two books. I enjoyed the story enough to finish the book in just two days… It’s a quick beach-read! It’s not typical to read the third book first, but I do plan on going back and picking up books 1, 2, and 4… Now that I know what happens to Lexi, I have to know what happens to all the other characters and how they got themselves in the situation they’re in.

CHARACTERS: Hocking gives each character their own unique personality and purpose. The only thing that seemed off about the characters is that everyone is beautiful… I tend to like a bit more diversity when it comes to character development, but still easy, fun read.

APPEARANCE: The cover is beautiful. Considering the cover is what made me pick up the book, I’d say the cover artist did their job very well.

Watch the Tidal teaser trailer here:

https://youtu.be/AydpDWbxUF4

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

https://youtu.be/E7pJhhA3t_w

Dear Future Me…

Today you are lucky to be employed, but your job does not define you.
You are in the best physical shape of your life, but your body does not define you.
You are a published author, but your accomplishments do not define you!
You have the most supportive family in the world, but your family does not define you.
You have an amazing husband and two beautiful, sweet, intelligent children, who love you with every ounce of their being, but their love does not define you!

YOU DEFINE YOU!

Your job is a stepping stone.
Your body is your vessel.
Your accomplishments are your road map.
Family is your motivation.
Love is your strength.
BUT

YOU DEFINE YOU!

Who you are today is not who you will be tomorrow, but with your family at your side you can do anything you set out to do…
Don’t be afraid to DEFINE YOURSELF!

define yourself

Author Interview – TM Blayte

Being an indie-author is hard… amazing, exciting, and so much fun, but it is HARD!!! Getting your book in the hands of readers is often draining. So, for that reason and because I believe that we indie-authors need to help each other out, I welcome all authors to my blog as guests.

Front Cover

Therefore, I’d like to welcome TM Blayte, author of Until We Are Free, to my site.

  1. What is your name and where do you call home? My name is TM Blayte. I call Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa home.
  2. Do you have a pen name? Yes. TM Blayte is my pen name.
  3. What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or fewer words, what would you say? Until We Are Free. It is about a teenage rebel, working against his organization’s enemies, and against his own organization, which is led by his father.
  4. Is the above book part of a series? Yes. It is the first in a planned trilogy.
  5. What or who inspired you to start writing? I liked history in school. Using stuff we were taught about colonial Africa, the Vietnam war, and the French revolution, I was inspired to add revolution elements to a mandarin vampire story. And then remove the vampires.
  6. How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing since before I was sixteen.
  7. How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book(s)? I’m published by a small press. Their department took care of everything cover related.
  8. Did you listen to any particular songs while writing your book(s)? No. I like working in silence.
  9. How did you come up with the title for your book(s)? The original title was Revolution Until We Are Free. It felt appropriate, because an overall theme of the trilogy is we are never truly free. So any successful revolution actually never ends. After I signed my book with Alban Lake Publishing, the editor suggested changing the name to Until We Are Free.
  10. Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hard-covers or audio-books? Whenever I can get my hands on them, I love audio books. They don’t come cheap, so I mostly read e-books.
  11. Are you a self-published/Indie author? I am published with a small press, Alban Lake Publishing. No agent.
  12.  Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it? Yes! I read all the Harry Potter books over and over again, until I knew the chapter names of all seven books. I’ve also read Frost Bite by Richelle Mead a couple of times. However, as I’ve had more to spend on books in the past year, I almost never repeat books anymore.
  13. What is your opinion of novellas? Awesome. I love reading and writing them. I think they are perfect. As a university student, I usually want something I can start and finish on a Saturday. In comes this wonderful literary invention.
  14. Have you ever read a book just based on its cover? Never. Ever. Ever.
  15. What is your favorite film based on a book? I would have to say Game of Thrones. It is a show a reader can appreciate, but the film guys take artistic license as well. It has the perfect balance.
  16. What is your favorite book genre at the moment? That is a tough question. Very tough. But let’s go with Fantasy.
  17. What books have made it onto your wish list recently? And why? One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus, Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1) by Tomi Adeyemi, and The Fallen by David Baldacci. The first two, because they are what everyone is talking about in YA circles. The Fallen, because I am a longtime Baldacci fan.
  18. What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format? Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer. I’m listening to the audio version.
  19. If you could invite any four (4) celebrities (alive or dead) to your dinner party, who would you invite and why? Lecrae. He is my favorite rapper. Celine Dion, she has the best vocals in the game. J.K. Rowling, come on, who wouldn’t? Beyoncé, it’s not what you’re thinking. I used to be a rapper in my teenage years. I simply want to pass on one of my old demos, so she can pass them onto J.
  20. What’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing? Wait. The business is subjective.
  21. Do you have any hobbies that aren’t related to reading & writing? Yep. I enjoy listening to good music. Genre doesn’t matter, as long as it is good. I also love binge watching series. My favorites are the Blacklist, The Big Bang Theory, Bosch, and Game of Thrones.
  22. Where can your readers follow you?

■ Blog: https://www.tmblaytespeaks.wordpress.com
■ Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/tmblayte
■ To purchase a copy of Until We Are Free: https://www.infiniterealmsbookstore.com/product-page/until-we-are-free-by-tm-blayte
■ Newsletter: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeDnT36u5d62e0CwQhWLyW2NAjL5NE6UvLnBZPD_qlXCeOiqg/viewform?c=0&w=1&usp=mail_form_link

_____________________________________________________________________________

Front CoverUntil We Are Free

If sixteen-year-old human, Nyl Jayms fails to kidnap the Elder Princess, in order to force her brother, the king, to negotiate with humans, the only other option is a war that could lead to the annihilation of one or both races. It has been nearly six hundred years since the war of the gods, and humans are still second class citizens, in what the characters believe to be the last shred of civilized earth. The Riders, a group of human rebels now have enough resources to stage a full-scale war, but want to try negotiations to spare human lives. Why then, does it seem some council members, including Nyl’s dad, want a war, and will do anything to disrupt negotiations? 

My 2 Cents… Upgrade

UpgradeUpgrade – Set in the near-future, technology controls nearly all aspects of life. But when Grey (played by Logan Marshall-Green), a self-identified technophobe, has his world turned upside down, his only hope for revenge is an experimental computer chip implant called Stem (voice by Simon Maiden).

I wasn’t expecting any more than an action-packed movie along the lines of the Bourne movies (which I loved), but I ended up loving this movie for a completely different reason. It’s not all action and drama! It’s filled with laughs, which considering how dark the film is was very unexpected. Leigh Whannell, the film’s director, has packed this film full of drama, shock, action, and even some heartbreak. There’s never a dull moment as the film has you on the edge of your seat the entire time!

I can’t end this review without saying that Logan Marshall-Green was perfectly cast. PERFECTLY cast. He made the characters inner struggle believable in exactly the way this film needed. You feel for his character, you’re angry with him, grieving with him, and want him to win even if it means doing unspeakable things.

Watch the official trailer here:

 

Dead Boy by Laurel Gale

Dead BoyTITLE: Dead Boy
AUTHOR: Laurel Gale

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.75)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
Crow isn’t like the other kids. He stinks. He’s got maggots. His body parts fall off at inopportune moments. (His mom always sews them back on, though.) And he hasn’t been able to sleep in years. Not since waking up from death.

But worse than the maggots is how lonely Crow feels. When Melody Plympton moves in next door, Crow can’t resist the chance to finally make a friend. With Melody around he may even have a shot at getting his life back from the mysterious wish-granting creature living in the park. But first there are tests to pass. And it will mean risking the only friend he’s had in years.

Debut author Laurel Gale’s story about friendship fulfilled may be the most moving—and most macabre—yet.

Buy it HERE on Amazon! 

THE CRITICAL POINTS
Let me start by explaining why I was reading a middle-grade book about a boy who is basically the walking dead. I was wondering through the dollar store when I found Dead Boy sitting on the shelf. Not only did the little boy on the cover look so sad I immediately felt the urge to pick up the book, but when I skimmed the pages and realized the reading level I thought, this would be a great book to read with my son for our summer book club. So, I paid the $1.09 and bought the book. The cover drew me in and the idea of reading with my son is what pushed me to buy it.

WRITING: Laurel Gale is a very passionate writer. It has been a long time since I read a middle-grade book that I, as an adult, really enjoyed. Gale has a way of making us empathize with Crow, the lead character a boy who died and then returned… only to age while slowly rotting away. Although this book technically is a middle-grade reading level, like I said before, Gale explores context that only an adult reader will truly understand; an obsessive mother’s love, dangers that threaten our children’s safety, the damage of helicopter parenting, the devastation that comes with the loss of a child, and the desperation of parents who are grieving.

STORY: The book centers around Crow, a young boy who died in fourth grade but somehow – magically – was brought back to life. I won’t tell you how… you’ll have to read the book to learn the secrets that lie within. The problem was, he wasn’t brought back all the way. Crow is doomed to grow old while his body slowly rots away and maggots infest his corps. It sounds gruesome right? I’ll admit the maggots got to me, but the store that Gale tells about this little boy’s life, friendships, adventures, and ultimately his selflessness was beautiful.

CHARACTERS: Gale really pulls at your heartstrings with Crow and his little friend Melody. She has a wonderful way of drawing you in and making you love the characters. It’s a short book at only 245 pages and a quick read. I finished it in just 2 days while on travel. However, if I’m being honest, I didn’t want it to end. If this is a series, and I don’t know that it is, I would definitely pick up the rest of the books. I can’t wait to get home and talk to my son about it and see what he thinks.

APPEARANCE: Beautiful! The illustrator did a fantastic job with the cover. It was the first thing I noticed about the book and nothing else mattered… I wanted this book on my book shelf for the cover alone. The fact that it ended up being a great story too, well, that’s just a bonus.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE: “Crow suspected that although Luke was popular and had never had to deal with maggots or foul odors, he got lonely sometimes. Maybe having friends wasn’t as important as having the right friends.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video!

 

How did I end up here?!?!

here

“Here” was not part of my plan.

It’s just a fact of life… life takes us in all kinds of directions and down so many different paths that we often wonder, “How did I end up here?”

I had a plan… After college I got married, moved to Los Angeles, began my career as a Hollywood actress. The plan was then to become an established actress and live the good life. Ever since I was a kid, I told my parents that I wanted a limo. Not to drive, but to be driven around in. I had high hopes, big dreams, and HUGE aspirations.

As often happens, life decided that my path needed a few twists and turns I hadn’t planned on, and about a hundred bumps, potholes, and caverns standing in my way. I wasn’t even two years into my marriage when a separation inevitably led to divorce. But, I didn’t let that stop me… I continued on, audition after audition, callback after callback, film set after film set, and of course endless hours at my full-time job. Then, one day I met a guy… handsome, confident, talented, smart, all the words you want to be able to attribute to your significant other. At the time, I had no idea that he was my future husband. I was just thinking… “date night.” One date led to two, and then a week, and then a month, and soon a year had passed and we were still happy and in love.

We got married, and shortly after the wedding he got offered a job. OUT OF STATE! I wanted to be the supportive wife. I understood that the opportunity for him to further his career and finish his college degree was important to the future of our family. We sat down and talked about our options. The only one that made sense was to pack up (tears began to roll down my face.) and move across country leaving my dreams behind. The plan was to be gone two years. In theory, it was long enough for him to finish his degree and for us to meet some financial goals we had as newlyweds. Two years turned into four, then six, and now it has been almost fourteen years.

I cried the first two hours of our car ride as I watched California slowly disappear into the distance behind us, and again the last half hour as our new life slowly started to unfold in front of us.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and I love where we have ended up and the family we have made. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t still times when the past bubbles up inside of me and I long for the beach, the California sun, palm trees, and of course that moment your phone rings and it’s your agent saying, “You got the part!” What a feeling… but, it doesn’t even compare to that moment when the room is dark only lit by a small night-light, and tiny arms are wrapped around me and I hear, “Mommy, I love you…” whispered in my ear. That moment too is soon to pass… my little ones are getting older and will soon to be teenagers with all the attitude and self-allotted independence that comes along with the teen years.

Would I change things? HELL NO! The greatest job I’ve ever had is being a mom, and no matter how much I loved California, it is no place to raise a child. We ended up here for a reason… actually two reasons and they are the most important people in my life!

 

My 2 Cents… All I See Is You

all I seeAll I See Is You – A blind woman’s relationship with her husband changes when she regains her sight and discovers disturbing details about themselves.

Ok… wow! This movie did not go the way I expected it to at all! I’m glad I didn’t look at the IMDB reviews before deciding to watch this movie. Directed by Marc Forster, the subpar 5/10 rating given as an IMBD viewer average did not at all reflect my view of the film.

I felt like Blake Lively did a wonderful job playing the blind unsuspecting woman in love and pulled no punches when she regained her sight and took back her Independence. Jason Clarke, as the husband, was loving and caring, but we quickly find out he has a lack of confidence and possible abandonment issues that lead to a dark side I didn’t expect to see. He plays the jealous, suspecting husband perfectly.

Recommendation – take the time to watch! When you do, let me know what you think.

Watch the official trailer here: