Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Title: The Emerald Atlas
Author: John Stephens
Genre: Juvi, fantasy, adventure, friendship
Perfect for: Middle school kids who like long fantasy tales
Star Rating: 4/5 stars

Taken from Goodreads, "Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage. Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.

Until now. Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world...a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right."

'The Emerald Atlas' by John Stephens is a fun fantasy adventure that is sure to please readers of Cornelia Funke's 'Inkheart' series, as well as fans of Lemony Snicket's 'Series of Unfortunate Events'. 'The Emerald Atlas' has a great cast of characters and some really great dialogue. And the funny thing? This juvi friendly story was dreamed up by someone who usually works on WB shows like Gilmore Girls or Gossip Girl!

I've found that in-between YA reads, it's always nice to delve into a good juvi fantasy adventure. If you're in need of a Juvi fix, this book just might be what you're looking for. The standout feature of this novel, which is the first in a trilogy, has to be the characters.

We've seen plenty of books that star orphan children, but this set of kids seemed a little different. I found all three siblings unique, likable, and, actually, quite real.  My favorite character of the three is Emma.  She's the youngest of the trio.  She's a tough, spicy girl who you don't want to mess with.  Middle brother, Michael, is obsessed with knowledge, especially that on fantastical things.  And then there is big sister Kate, who at a very young age was entrusted by her mother to keep her siblings safe.  Each child has their own journey to take and that is one thing I really liked about this story.  Because each character had their own thing going on, we got to see a bit of development in each of them, not just one.

This book has some great dialogue.  The lines are fun and have a life of their own.  Stephens did a wonderful job at inserting a touch of everyday humor into his dialogue and story.  One running gag in particular made me laugh out-loud (note to future time travelers-- you may need to explain who you are to the same person a lot depending on the timeline!)

The only thing that bugged me a bit in 'The Emerald Atlas' was that the descriptions were a bit blocky.  That's a big pet peeve of mine because I don't do well with long involved paragraphs about things.  I like them to be broken up with dialogue.  Many time Stephens would use a line of description (instead of dialogue) to describe what people were discussing.  I would have loved for him to just show us, as opposed to telling us what was happening.  Plus, then it would have cut down the page count a bit-- this is quite a long read!

Other than that minor issue, I enjoyed 'The Emerald Atlas'.  No spoilers, but the ending had me grinning from ear to ear.  It was very well done! 'The Emerald Atlas' is a fun, fantasy read that should catch young readers interest quickly and even some older readers (like me!).  I'm looking forward to the next installment of this series!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Blogger Hop/Follow Friday/Update

Hello Hoppers! Welcome to the blog! Today was a very slow week at the blog. *My apologies!* I wish I had some really good reason-- like school work or work, but in reality, I had a head cold that rendered me useless a few days this week! As far as reviews, I'm playing catch up and will have a review of 'The Emerald Atlas' up within the next few days.

Check out Small Review's latest post on 'The Iron King'.  She compares a handful of blogs reviews on the popular title, mine included!  

This Week on the Blog:
Mini Fantasy Cast- Across the Universe
Review: Lego Star Wars: Save the Galaxy

Onto the Hops!

The Question of the Week is: Share your current fav television show! Tell us a bit about it...

Answer: This post could get *very* long! I love television and have a ton of favorites. Here's a few of them!

Doctor Who:
My mom brought home the first series of the 'new' Who (starring the ninth doctor) on a whim. I had seen some Doctor Who before, mostly with Tom Baker. Watching Christopher Eccelston as the ninth doctor was a totally different experience from watching those older episodes. I was hooked on the whole Doctor Who universe after two episode and have been a dedicated, slightly obsessed (in a healthy way!) fan ever since! It amazes me how seamless the cast changes are when the Doctor regenerates. I've never seen anything like it before and doubt I ever will from any other show.

Avatar: The Last Airbender:
Don't write this off as any old cartoon. Avatar is ten times better. The story is addicting and pretty complex for a kids show. And the animation? So well done! This is something you'll want to check out if you haven't already!

The Vampire Diaries:
This is a fantastic show. Seriously, it's so good! First, we have the hotness of the Salvator Brothers. (I'll take whichever brother Elena doesn't want!)  Then, we have some great storylines that really do keep you guessing. (Like this week, who saw all those plot changes coming?! This show is just perfect!)

The Amazing Race:
If there's one show I need to make plans around, this is it. The Amazing Race is the only reality show I really follow. It's fantastic, smart tv. This season should be great as it's an all-stars season. My picks for top three? The Globetrotters, The Cowboys, and the beauty pageant girl/father team (who's names I forget at the moment)!

Book Blogger Hop
The Question of the Week is: Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different?

Answer: The name of my blog? No, I still like 'Brooke's Box of Books'. I've always liked alliteration. Call me a kid if you like! Plus, I can picture some cute graphics if I ever get to giving this a proper, unique layout. My little avatar opening a crate of new books... It could be cute!

That's it for this week. Thanks for hopping by!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Lego Star Wars: Save the Galaxy by Scholastic

Title: Lego Star Wars: Save the Galaxy
Author/Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Board Book, Star Wars (yes, it IS a genre sometimes!)
Perfect for: Star Wars fans of all ages!
Star Rating: 5/5 stars

Taken from Goodreads, "Our heroes must evade Stormtroopers, outwit Darth Vader, and steal plans to the Death Star. With a little luck, they might even manage to save the galaxy! Readers can explore the Death Star, a Jawa Sandcrawler, the Tantive IV, the Cantina, and the Millennium Falcon!"

This is a bit of a mini review because, well, this is a review for an oversized board book based on the Lego Star Wars universe, specifically 'Episode IV: A New Hope'. I picked this up on a whim when it arrived on my shelving cart at work and was sold on it instantly.

The illustrations are based off the popular (and entertaining) Lego Star Wars games, which mean they have a cuteness level of adorable! The story is told in comic form with various actions going on in fun comic squares accompanied by thought bubble dialogue. One of the best things about this title?  Lines of dialogue aren't verbatim from the movie. Some are, but many are tweaked in very clever ways. (For example, did you know C3PO speaks dishwasher?) None of the lines make fun of the saga, but they definitely poke fun at it, which is something us Star Wars fans tend to do a lot ourselves!

So, while this isn't the usual fare you find here on the blog, look at this book. It gets 5 out of 5 stars! You'll probably find it in the kids dept, along with some other fun Star Wars books you may have missed!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mini Fantasy Cast: Across the Universe

'Across the Universe' by Beth Revis is one of those books that isn't going away.  Even though the book has been on store shelves for a month now, there is still a ton of internet buzz.  For that reason, I thought it was time to do a mini fantasy cast and let you in on who I would cast as Amy and Elder. 

Emma Roberts (Nancy Drew, Hotel for Dogs) as Amy:
I had trouble thinking of a natural red head to play Amy.  So the next best thing?  Find an actress who can dye her hair! Emma Roberts has proven that she has some acting talent and has a pretty wide fan base! As Amy, I think she'd bring out the inquisitive element of her personality quite well.

Taylor Lautner (Twilight) as Elder:
Okay, so you know how hard it is to cast a mixed monoethnic looking character using the actors we see in the industry today?!  Hard.  Seriously.  I think the slight 'rigid-ness' that can be seen sometimes in Lautner's acting might help with the role of Elder, who is quite a stoic character.  

What do you think? Who would you cast? 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book Blogger Hop/Follow Friday/Update

Hi ya to all those hopping by this weekend! Thanks for stopping by! This week... Well, not too much went on this week. Just the basic stuff-- work, attempting to write, failing to find a plot, a visit to the hospital for a medical thing my Grandpa was dealing with (he seems okay now!)...  But overall, not too much.

The blog was a little dry this week, too. My apologies! I welcomed another author to my humble webspace this week, which rocked! The regular review and SOS post will be up next week. :-)

This Week on the Blog:
Valentine's Day Post
Heads Up! Borders Files Bankruptcy!
Truth or Dare Meme
Author Interview with Lou Aronica
Review and Contest posts were posted today and should be directly under this post!

Time for the hops!

The Question of the Week is:
If you are a fan of Science Fiction what is your favorite book? If you haven't read Science Fiction before...any inkling to? Anything catch your eye?

Answer: I love sci-fi titles aimed at the juvi and teen market, though a few adult titles have caught my eye. One of my guilty pleasures is reading Star Wars novels. I was much more into it before they killed off most of the Solo children, but 'The Thrawn Trilogy , 'Courtship of Princess Leia', and the 'Young Jedi Knights series' will always be favorites of mine! (If you want to read Star Wars novels and haven't yet, start with the 90's releases. They have a good level of Star Wars fun mixed with new stories!!)

A few other reads--

'Enders Game' and 'Enders Shadow' by Orson Scott Card-- Two of the few adult sci-fi title I like. They have a good story that isn't too overrun with technical stuff! It helps that the main characters are kids, too.
'The Host' by Stephenie Meyer-- I just adore this book!!!!
'Aliens Ate My Homework' series by Bruce Coville-- This was a favorite of mine as a kid and I still occasionally re-read this series about Rod Allbright, grade schooler who may just be half alien and ends up on a crazy quest!

Book Blogger Hop
The Question of the Week is: 
What book(s) would you like to see turned into a movie?

Answer: So many answers!  'The Grey King', the 'Young Jedi Knights' series, 'The Host', 'Knightley Academy', (a remake of 'Twilight' with a decent Bella would be nice), 'The Grimm Legacy' (though I'd like to WRITE this script)...  The list goes on and on!

Thanks for hopping by!  See you next week!

Contest: Win a Chance to Work with Lou Aronica, Author of 'Blue'!

As you might have noticed, many posts this week have been dedicated to Lou Aronica's new book, 'Blue'. In conjunction with his blog tour, Lou is hosting a fantastic contest that should interest anyone looking to one day get published!

Here are the details. They can also be found on Lou's Blog Tour site HERE.

"New York Times bestselling co-author, novelist, and former Publisher of Avon Books and Berkley Books, Lou Aronica has created a unique and exciting offer to anyone that is going to follow his upcoming book tour with Pump Up Your Book. 
His extensive experience in the publishing and editing fields has given him insight into an industry that continues to grow and change daily. Once again, that insight has led him to offer a contest that is truly special in so many ways. 
Lou will be accepting story pitches from followers of his blog tour. These story pitches must be for short stories pertaining to the fantasy world of his novel, “Blue.” This contest will allow 10 lucky people the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to have their story published in an upcoming companion anthology to “Blue.” Lou will hand pick the winners, edit their stories, include them in the anthology and give them a pro-rated share of the royalties. How can you pass up an opportunity like this? 
Now for the details:
The pitch should include a synopsis of the proposed story and a sample of the submitting author’s fiction writing. Specify the expected length of the story. 
The pitch needs to be submitted by April 16, 2011 
Please email your submission to Lou at 
All winners will be notified by email by May 27, 2011."

Good luck to all who enter this fantastic contest! To see more posts dedicated to 'Blue', don't forget to hit the tag!

Review: Blue by Lou Aronica

Yesterday I posted a Q&A with author Lou Aronica. Today's post is dedicated to his new book, 'Blue'. Originally, this was supposed to be a review of the title, but I didn't actually find 'Blue' to my liking and couldn't finish it completely. Usually, I don't review books that I haven't 100% finished, but I have a feeling I'm in the minority here when it comes to 'Blue'. For that reason, I've decided to keep this stop on the blog tour and switch it up into an informational post about the title.

About the Book: "Chris Astor is a man in his early forties who is going through the toughest stretch of his life. Becky is Chris’s fourteen-year-old daughter, a girl who has overcome enormous challenges to become a vibrant, vital young woman – and now faces her greatest obstacle yet. Miea is the young queen of a fantasy land that Becky and Chris created when Becky was little, a fantasy land that has developed a life of its own and now finds itself in terrible, maybe fatal trouble.

Together, Chris, Becky, and Miea need to uncover a secret. The secret to why their worlds have joined at this moment. The secret to their purpose. The secret to the future. It is a secret that, when discovered, will redefine imagination for all of them. Blue is a novel of trial and hope, invention and rediscovery. It might very well take you someplace you never knew existed.

What Bloggers Are Saying:  'Blue' has had quite a long virtual tour.  While I couldn't give it a satisfactory review, check out these reviews from blogs around the web!

Avery's Book (and Other Fun Stuff) Nook
Life With Five Monkies
Fluidity of Time
The Book Faery Reviews
As I Turn the Pages

More review and interview links can be found on Lou's main tour page!  'Blue' is available at most online retailers and in e-book form!  I'd like to thank Tracee and Lou for giving me the opportunity to be part of this blog tour!  

Blog Tour: Interview with Lou Aronica, Author of 'Blue'

A few months back, Tracee from "Pump Up Your Book" asked if I was interested in hosting author Lou Aronica.  Usually, I would have declined because the novel isn't actually aimed at kids or teens. 'Blue', however, has a premise that could interest a vast group of readers, so I decided, why not?

About the Author:
Lou Aronica is the author of several novels and works of nonfiction, including the New York Times bestseller, The Element (written with Ken Robinson) and the national bestseller, The Culture Code (written with Clotaire Rapaille). He lives in Southern Connecticut with his wife and four children.

Q&A with Lou Aronica:

Can you give us a sentence or two about who you are and where you're from?

Lou: I’ve been involved in the book world for the past three decades, first on the publishing side (I was Deputy Publisher of Bantam Books, then Publisher of Berkley, and then Publisher of Avon), and more recently as a writer. I’ve written sixteen books, including the New York Times bestseller The Element (with Ken Robinson) and the national bestseller The Culture Code (with Clotaire Rapaille). I live in Southern Connecticut with my wife and four children.

-When did you begin to write seriously and why?

Lou: I’ve been dabbling in writing since I was a teenager, and even when I got into the publishing business, I believed I was doing so to facilitate a career in writing. I didn’t write my first book until nine years ago, though. This actually happened somewhat accidentally. I’d set up my company, The Fiction Studio, with the intention of developing ideas for other writers to execute. When I sold the first of these to a publisher, though, I realized that I was too close to the project to turn it over to someone else. I decided to write the book myself, and it became my first novel, The Forever Year.

-Do you have any writing rituals (ie: listening to music, writing at night, etc)?

Lou: My only ritual seems to be getting up to walk around every couple of sentences. I’m fairly capable of staying in one place most of the time, but not when I’m writing. If I could figure out a way to type while walking, I’d probably be far more efficient.

-What inspired you to write 'Blue'? Who's your intended audience?

Lou: The original inspiration for the novel was my trepidation over my oldest child getting ready to go off to college. I was worried that I was going to lose her and that we’d never have the life we had when she was home. I realized, of course, that no one would want to read a novel about a guy wringing his hands over his daughter leaving home, so everything became a metaphor. As it turns out, Blue took me six years to write – long enough that my daughter has graduated college. In the end, I didn’t lose her at all, but at least I got a novel out of my neurosis.

I’d like to believe that Blue is equally readable by those who love fantasy and character-driven novels, as well as adults and teens. The three main characters are a man in his early forties, his teenaged daughter, and the twentysomething queen of the fantasy world they created when the daughter was little, so different people are going to identify with different protagonists.

-Pitch your book in 7 words or less!

Lou: Fantasy world turns real for life-changing reasons. Yes, I realize I cheated with the hyphenated word.

-In a movie of your life, who would play you? In the same respect, who would play title characters Chris, Becky,and Miea in a movie adaptation of 'Blue'? Why?

Lou: I think someone like Tom Hanks might play me well, though he plays everyone well. For Chris, maybe Greg Kinnear, and for Becky, let’s go with Hailee Steinfeld. I was thinking about Natalie Portman whenever I wrote from Miea’s POV, though that was before “Black Swan.” I’m glad I didn’t have that image in my head.

-What are you working on now?

Lou: I have two nonfiction books due to publishers during the first half of this year, including the follow-up to The Element. The next fiction work will be an anthology of stories set in Blue’s fantasy world of Tamarisk. I’m writing the first story and the last, and readers are going to contribute the rest. My next novel is in the very early planning stages. Hopefully, it won’t take me six years to write it.

-If you could live in a specific book genre, what would it be?

Lou: It’s not really a genre, but I would like to live in the world of character-driven stories. I think I’d be very happy in a world where people were relating to one another at a heightened level.

-If you could travel back in time, where would you go?

Lou: Not terribly far back. There’s too much about the present I would miss. However, I would have loved to have been an adult at the start of the sixties. So many things were emerging then: enormous breakthroughs in the arts and technology, profound social changes, new frontiers opening all the time.

-One of my other blogs is centered around toys, what was your favorite toy growing up?

Lou: Strat-o-Matic Baseball. I was (and still am) a huge baseball fan, and it was the first real sports simulation game. You used cards that estimated probabilities for all Major League players, so the players performed as they did in real life. There are plenty of computer simulations that do things like this now, but back then it was mind-blowing.

-If I were to look at your DVR, what television shows would I find on it?

Lou: Right now, you’d find “Modern Family,” “Top Chef,” “Nova Science Now,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” That, and a half-dozen episodes of “Babar,” because my five-year-old likes to watch them.

-One of the great things about blogging is that I get to spread the word about books I love. What's your favorite book and can you pitch it to our readers?

Lou: Many of my favorite books are classics like “The Catcher in the Rye,” “The Sound and the Fury,” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” My favorite book that readers are less likely to know is John Crowley’s “Little, Big.” It’s an elaborate contemporary fantasy reminiscent of “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” I think John Crowley is one of the great fiction stylists, and anyone who loves language and imagination should get a copy right now.

-Where can readers find your book?

Lou: It’s available at all online retailers. The e-book is cheaper; buy that one.

I'd like to thank Tracee and Lou for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour! Check back tomorrow for more info on 'Blue'!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Truth or Dare Meme

The Dare: Which character would you NOT like to meet in a dark alley in the middle of the night? Who get's your panties in a tizzy --- but not in a good way?

The Answer: Voldemort from the Harry Potter series. He is not someone I would want to tangle with on a Quidditch field or a dark alley!

Heads up! Borders Has Filed Bankruptcy!

We knew it was going to happen sometime this week. Borders has filed for bankruptcy. Let's not panic yet, this doesn't mean all Borders stores are going to disappear. Just 200 or so.

According to one website,
"The pioneer of book superstores plans to abandon some of its highest profile locations, closing a store in its hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan, as well as one on Manhattan's Park Avenue.  All 200 closings will be superstores, and about 6,000 jobs will be affected, the company said.... The closings will start by Saturday*. The company said it will honor gift cards." (Source)

As a reader, I buy my books at a number of places. Usually, it depends on where I'm working at the time, what's closest location-wise, and who has the best discount! We have two Borders located next to our house, one being a superstore.

Even though I work at the competition, I still make my way into Borders from time to time because they are a great store if you are looking for 'extra' stuff. For example, I love that they have a fun selection of anime related toys and candy. Occasionally, I'll find some really neat large print 'read out loud' children's books in their bargain section, too-- something I can't find at Barnes and Noble. Oh, and the t-shirts! I bought some very neat baby tee's there, one for Hunger Games and another for Fallen. These 'extra' items are what Barnes and Noble lacks and what I'll miss if they go under completely.

For more information about Borders filing, you can google it or check out the website Borders has started on it's reorganization.  

It is my hope that Barnes and Noble or other bookstores are helpful in finding work for those who are let go from Borders due to these store closings and will take an active interest in getting them back in the bookselling business, especially those who call bookselling their career!  

(*Just some clarification, I read this as they will start going ahead with closing plans starting as early as Saturday, not that they will close stores specifically on that day.)

EDIT: Closing Stores List HERE via Publishers Weekly.

What do you think of this news?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentine's Day

Holt and Frankie

From Brooke's Box of Books

Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Blogger Hop/Follow Friday/Update

Hey weekly hoppers!  I hope your week was eventful!  Mine sure was-- I participated in my first virtual book tour, cut a good 6 inches off  my hair and now have a stylish shag cut, and have been enjoying re-watching 'Ghostwriter: Season One' on DVD.

This Week On the Blog:
SOS Book of the Week
Contest: Win A Copy of Tomorrow's Guardian
Review: Tomorrow's Guardian
Author Tour: Q&A with Richard Denning
Fantasy Cast: Tomorrow's Guardian
Review: Angelfire

And onto the hops...

Book Blogger Hop
The Question of the Week is:  Tell us about one of your posts from this week and give us a link so we can read it (review or otherwise)!

My Answer: This week I participated in my first Virtual Blog Tour and posted my first author interview! It was a fun experience! Were I to choose a post from this week to highlight, it would be the author interview with Richard Denning. Reviews are fun to read, but interviews, especially those that don't only talk about the book, are a great opportunity to meet the author, virtually, of course!

The Question of the Week is: What is your favorite romance hero-type? Stereotype wise. Do you like the strong silent type or the brute macho man?

My Answer: Oh dear. I don't know! I don't go for the 'bad boy' per say, but I wouldn't turn down a sarcastic charmer like Damon (Ian Somerhalder) from The Vampire Diaries or a handsome hockey player! :-)

Truth or Dare:  Today's dare is... find a song that reminds you of a book. Could be the latest book you've read, or your all time fav. Tell us about the book and show us the video in a blog post.

Keeping this in the paranormal realm, the 'Fallen' series by Lauren Kate has always reminded me of the songs of Evanescence. You probably don't need a description of the series, but just in case-- 'Fallen' is the first book in a YA paranormal series that tells the story of Luce, a seemingly normal girl, and Daniel, an Angel who loves her. (And Miles, whom I totally think she should be with because of how much of a dork Daniel was in the sequel 'Torment', but I digress!)

Here's a video of 'Bring Me To Life'...

Thanks for hopping by and see you next week!!!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

S.O.S Book of the Week

The S.O.S Book of the Week is where I let you in on what new releases I'm looking forward to! S.O.S comes from the term 'Strict on Sale'. It's bookseller speak for a title that you can't sell before a specific date-- think Harry Potter. While the books I have here may not be S.O.S titles specifically, they are all new!

The S.O.S. Book of the Week is:
Taken from Goodreads, "Knightley Academy is back in session, and Henry Grim is confident that nothing else can prevent him from earning his knighthood. But Henry and his friends quickly discover that their professors have made some troubling changes to the curriculum. 

News from the Nordlands has grown more disturbing, yet school life offers plenty of distractions in the form of a new medicine master with a penchant for disguise, Frankie’s schemes to chase off her chaperone, and an old classroom filled with forgotten weapons. It is the discovery of this classroom that prompts Henry and Valmont to become the unlikely leaders of a secret battle society. And when Henry and his friends have the opportunity to join an envoy to the Nordlands disguised as servants, they seize the chance to find proof of a gathering invasion before it is too late.

But disaster strikes as Henry, Adam and Frankie find themselves stuck as Partisan School servants. And when Henry is discovered by a secret society of outlaws with a sinister purpose, he must come to terms with a great sacrifice that will take him away from everything he has ever known and wanted."

One of my favorite books of last year was Violet Haberdasher's 'Knightley Academy'. The sequel to that, entitled 'The Secret Prince', is due out June 2011! This is a 2011 release that I fully expect to buy within the first week of its release! I hope it's as addictive a read as 'Knightley Academy'!

The only downside thus far? I'm not sure if I'm a fan of the cover. It just doesn't look like it will fit well with my hardcover of the original novel... Thankfully, covers change like the weather, so it may change before the actual release! :-)

Are you looking forward to this release? What do you want to see?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Contest: Win A Copy of 'Tomorrows Guardian'!

As you know, this week I've been posting a lot about Richard Denning's book 'Tomorrows Guardian', an action packed time traveling romp.  Now's your chance to WIN a copy of the book!

Click the image above to go to the contest page! Entering is simple and takes a mere second!  Good luck to all who enter!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Review: Tomorrow's Guardian by Richard Denning

Title: Tomorrow's Guardian
Author: Richard Denning
Genre: Juvi, Sci-fi, Action, Adventure
Perfect for: reluctant readers who love time travel tales mixed with a bit of history
Star Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Taken from Goodreads"When schoolboy Tom Oakley discovers he can transport himself through time, he draws the attention of evil men who seek to bend history to their will. 'Tomorrow's Guardian' is the 1st book of the Hourglass Institute Series. It is a Young Adult Science Fiction adventure."

I have a soft spot for time travel stories. There's just something about them that I've always enjoyed, whether it be traveling through flumes with Bobby Pendragon or traveling through time and space in a TARDIS, I've just always liked them. That being said, I enjoyed reading 'Tomorrow's Guardian' by Richard Denning. It has a good mix of adventure, history, and comradery and should catch the eye of the pickiest readers-- young, pre-teen boys-- while still being a fun read for other sci-fi buffs.

If you're a stickler about writing styles, then I have to warn you. While Denning is a fine writer, it gets a bit 'blocky' in places. For example, there are certain pages that are filled with monologues of text or that have a great deal of description that we really don't need as readers. 

Aside from that minor issue, however, his dialogue was spot on. There are a handful of instances where you will find yourself laughing or at least smirking at the characters interaction, especially when it comes to my personal favorite character- Septimus Mason.

Speaking of Septimus, it's hard to believe that characters so drastically different could work so well together on paper, but they do! Denning has a wide range of ages spread throughout his novel. For example, main character Tom is an 11 year old English boy who wants nothing more than to be normal. Septimus Mason, the Han Solo of the novel, is a quick witted Welshman in his mid twenties (and my favorite character).  Then we have the three heroes taken out of their time, two military men who fought in very different wars and a maid who started a great historical fire. Their ages vary, but even so, they all get along so well on paper! I don't remember a scene where it seemed odd that 11 year old Thomas was hanging around with people who were far older than him. Of course, this could have to do with the fact that Thomas reads older than he is and as he learns more about his destiny, he steps up and takes the lead.

One thing I have to point out is that this novel is written by a European author.  There are some terms and phrases that those outside of Europe may not understand.  If you are like me and watch a lot of BBC shows, then these references shouldn't phase you.  Younger readers or those who don't partake in the fantastic entertainment coming from the BBC might want to keep Google handy for some terms that pop up in this novel.

As opposed to time traveling through made up worlds, the majority of the time travel that takes place in 'Tomorrow's Guardian' is done to historical venues. We see a battle between the Brits and the Zulu's, a sea battle set during World War II, and even the great London fire. I enjoyed the variety of the various historical locations, even if I didn't know a lot about some of the battles witnessed by Thomas and the gang.  Where will Thomas go in future books? We can only imagine!

'Tomorrow's Guardian' is best suited to a reader looking for an action packed time travel adventure. It's not something I'd recommend to older teens unless they are into sci-fi or time travel, but if you're looking for a good read for a pre-teen or tween-- keep this in mind!  The action elements are attention grabbing, the characters are people I'd love to be friends with, and overall, this time travel romp is just plain fun to read!  This book gets 3.5 out of 5 stars from me!

You can grab a copy of 'Tomorrow's Guardian' on  And don't forget to check out the author interview and fantasy cast posts for this book!  

Author Tour: Q&A with Richard Denning

The past few months I've had the honor of chatting with the author of 'Tomorrow's Guardian', Richard Denning. He's currently in the the middle of his blog tour and todays he's visiting this little blog. I had the chance to ask him a few questions about himself and here's what he had to say!

Author Bio:
Richard Denning is a Young adult sci-fi, historical fiction and historical fantasy writer. He also writes book and board game reviews and online articles on historical and gaming related topics. He owns his own small publishing house, Mercia Books and is part of a board game design house Medusa Games.

A keen player of board games and other games he is one of the directors of UK Games Expo (the UK's largest hobby games convention). He is a board game designer and his first Board Game, 'The Great Fire on London 1666' was published by Medusa Games and Prime Games in October 2010.

The Q/A Session:

-Can you give us a sentence or two about who you are and where you're from?

Richard: I was born in Ilkeston in Derbyshire (UK) and I live in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands. I work as a General Practitioner (family doctor) with a North Birmingham practice. I am 43 and am married with two children (Helen and Matthew).

-When did you first decide to write in hopes of publishing and why?

Richard: I started writing about 10 years ago (although like many people I did scribble some words at school. Then I went off to university and I was a Medical student and a house officer and senior house office in hospital (what you would call an intern) and finally emerged into general practice. After I had settled into a permanent post I started to write again. I enjoy reading and through those long years of study I read avidly. I started to get ideas for plots and characters and one day began writing. It was only a couple of years ago that I made a serious effort to get published.

-Do you have any writing rituals (ie: listening to music, writing at night, etc)?

Richard: Generally I write best in a quiet room. This usually means when the children are in bed (late at night) or in the afternoons when I am able to get home for a bit. I find after the noise and chatter of day to day life at the surgery that what I need to get the mind working is solitude and peace. When I am the plotting stage of a book I am more likely though to be out and about. I tend to think through the plots whilst walking or driving about and if I can visit a castle or battlefield that also helps to spark the imagination.

-What inspired you to write 'Tomorrows Guardian'? Who's your intended audience?

Richard: I enjoy Time Travel as a concept in fiction – movies, TV and books. So I wanted to write my own Time Travel adventure. But I wanted to explore the perils and challenges involved in time travel. The book is written with 10 to 14 year olds in mind but has gone down well with adults as well. It is set in England and so it will be interesting to see what Americans make of it.

-Pitch your book in 7 words or less!

Richard: Time Travel sounds like fun until you try it! D’oh that’s 9 – can I get away with that ;-)

-In a movie of your life, who would play you? In the same respect, who would play title character Tom in a movie adaptation of 'Tomorrows Guardian'? Why?

Richard: Me? Well if I lose my temper I tend to stomp about all legs and arms rather like John Cleese (from Monty Python and Basil Fawlty) – except he would have to lose the moustache.

As for Tom? Well actually the chap who plays Edmund in the Narnia chronicles would fit my idea quite well (Skandar Keynes) although he is now a bit old for Tom. But just how he was in Prince Caspian would be about right.

-Will we see sequels to 'Tomorrow's Guardian' and what should we expect?

Richard: Yes you will. The sequel (Yesterday’s Treasures) is written and will be out later in the summer: Everyone is searching for pieces of 'The Crown of Knossos:' historical artefacts which when assembled allow control over all of history in this and in the Twisted reality. The Hourglass Institute, Redfeld's masters and even the Directorate are soon in the hunt. One by one the pieces are found but eventually Tom and the others discover who is really after The Crown and what their motivations are. It is only then that they realise the extent of the danger, for 'Yesterday's Treasures' can mean the destruction of tomorrow.

-If you could live in a specific book genre, what would it be?

Richard: Ohh that is a good question. I tell you what if I could live in Bag End (especially how it is portrayed in the Lord of the Rings Movies) I would love that. So I guess I am going to say Fantasy BUT I always rather fancied the world of Poirot: England in the 1920s or 30s. So murder mysteries in England country houses would come a close second.

-I love the idea of time travel! If you could travel back in time, where would you go?

Richard: Well I would love to visit the big moments in history and the great places. See the seven wonders of the ancient world. Be with Caesar as he crossed into Britain. Accompany Alexander the Great to the borders of India, see the first plane flight and witness the signing of the Magna Carta. I would be a Time Tourist crossing off a list of the big moments.

-Your book has been compared to Doctor Who... As a Doctor Who fan (or Whovian) I need to know-- are you a Doctor Who fan and if so, who's your favorite Doctor?

Richard: YES YES YES. OK that might be a bit over the top. Then again I am a huge DR Who Fan. I first saw the John Pertwee era DR Who live (in about 1970) and remember being terrified by the first episode with the autons coming to life in shop windows. The Third and fourth DRs occupied the classic era of DR who with some superb stories. I then went back and saw the first and second dr. I actually like them all. Matt Smith is superb at present. 

If I had to choose one Dr above all it would be Peter Davidson – number 5. Tends to get over looked but there was something about him I really liked – sort of kind, gentle but grumpy.

-If I were to look at your DVR (Digital Video Recorder), what television shows would I find on it?

Richard: Buffy and Angel (we are watching both these again with my 13 year old daughter. DR Who, Farscape, Firefly (one of the best Sci Fi series), Stargate, Star Trek (we getting a bit of a theme here), James Bond, Sharpe’s Rifles, Miss Marple, Poroit, Morse, Cadfael, Black Adder. How is that?

-One of the great things about blogging is that I get to spread the word about books I love. What's your favorite book and can you pitch it to our readers?

Richard: The Lord of the Rings had such a huge influence on me that I have to say if you have not read it you need to. Yes it can be tough going at times and is a bit dated but it has some wonderful passages in it. If I can sneak in a mention of two other authors I would pitch Terry Pratchett and Bernard Cornwall.

-Where can those of us residing in the US or Canada find your book?

At Mercia Books US site (both ebook and paperback):

I'd like to thank Mr. Denning for stopping by the blog!  Be sure to check out my fantasy cast and the review of his book, posted in separate posts on this blog, and check out the official website for the book for more on this blog tour! 

Want to read 'Tomorrow's Guardian'?  Enter to win a copy of 'Tomorrow's Guardian' HERE!  

Fantasy Cast: Tomorrows Guardian

This week I'll be hosting author Richard Denning in honor of the release of the paperback edition of his novel 'Tomorrow's Guardian'. I thought it would be fun to create a fantasy cast for the book! Let's begin, shall we?

Alexander Ludwig (The Seeker) as Thomas:
Thomas- The main character in 'Tomorrows Guardian', Thomas is a kid on the verge of becoming a young man.  He's quick witted, smart, and a true friend.

Let me set the record straight-- while I pretty much hated the travesty that was 'The Seeker' (in which Alexander played the title character), I put most of the blame on the producers, script writers, and anyone at all included with pre-production. As an actor, you have to do the best with what's given to you and Alexander suffered from having to read a *really bad* script (think Hayden Christensen in the Star Wars prequels)

Is this kid the most spectacular actor? No, but he's still growing. I think he has the look of Thomas (though his hair may need to be dyed darker) and good enough acting chops to play him. He's a little older than the original characters age, but in movies age doesn't always matter.

Colin Morgan (Merlin) OR Gregory Smith (Everwood) as Septimus Mason:

Septimus Mason- Septimus is a time traveler very much like Han Solo. In his mid twenties, you're not always sure of his intentions, but you want to always hope his intentions are good... 

I chose two actors similar to Mason's age in the story, but who both have baby faces. That way, it won't seem out of place for them to be hanging out with the younger Thomas.

Colin Morgan and Gregory Smith are both fantastic picks for this character. They're both solid actors who play believable characters every time they are on screen. They both also happen to be two crushes of mine. :-)

Jim Broadbent (Inkheart) as the Professor:
Professor- He is the person behind The Hourglass Institute, the Professor X of the cast.

Jim Broadbent just reads the professor to me. When it comes to casting this role, he is pretty much the picture in my head. I wish I had more to back this up, but I think he would be great.

Tom Ellis (Doctor Who) as Edward:
Edward- Edward is a soldier battling Zulu's in a battle that I don't recall learning about-- ever.  (So that's all the history you get in this bio!) But is he more than just a soldier?

I've only seen this guy in Merlin and Doctor Who, but according to his IMDB he has done quite a bit! I think he has the look and is around the right age to play Edward, a time agent taken out of his own time and thrust into a future *very* different from his own.

Zac Efron as Charlie:
Charlie- Charlie is a sailor fighting World War II.  Course... There's always more than meets the eye in sci-fi, right?

(Rest assured-- if I did cast a movie, it would have lots of pretty boys in it, don't you think.)  Why Zac for this character? Of the three people taken out of time by Thomas and Septimus, he's the youngest and from a time closest to present day. Zac fits the bill in age, physique, and acting ability.

??? as Mary:
Mary- Mary is a baker's assistant in during the London fire of 1666.  Through the course of the novel, she finds out that all talents are not to be ashamed of...

I had a bit of a problem casting this character because I just couldn't figure out her age. Well, I now know she's 16 years old...  Let me ponder this role for a bit and I'll add an actress in this post later!

Leonard Nimoy as the Redfeld:
Redfeld- Every series needs an unscrupulous character and this guy is it...

Believe it or not, I've only ever seen Leonard Nimoy playing Spock. A travesty, right? I'd really like to see him play someone a bit shady... And Redfeld is definetly shady!!!

And there you have it--- my fantasy cast of 'Tomorrow's Guardian'.  Somehow I managed to accidentally fit in three of my celebrity crushes and two Star Wars references...  

For those who have read the book, what do you think?  Who would you cast?