Saturday, August 13, 2016

Book Blast: Children of Icarus

BeachBoundBooks is pleased to be coordinating a Blog Tour for the young adult fantasy Children of Icarus written by Caighlan Smith. The tour will run from August 10 - August 24, 2016.

About the Book

Title: Children of Icarus | Author: Caighlan Smith | Publisher: Switch Press | Publication Date: August 1, 2016 | Genre: Young Adult Fantasy | Number of Pages: 312

Book Description:

It's Clara who's desperate to enter the labyrinth and its Clara who's bright, strong, and fearless enough to take on any challenge. It's no surprise when she's chosen. But so is the girl who has always lived in her shadow. Together they enter. Within minutes, they are torn apart forever. Now the girl who has never left the city walls must fight to survive in a living nightmare, where one false turn with who to trust means a certain dead end.

History and Inspiration Behind the Book

Since I was a wee kidlit, I’ve loved Greek Mythology. That love has only grown and nowadays heavily influences my writing, some more than others. Children of Icarus, my new novel, is counted among the “some”. The inspiration for this book was, of course, drawn from the myth of Icarus—the boy who flew into the sun. But a lot of the setting of the book comes from the myths about Icarus’ father, Daedalus, who built the labyrinth. Children of Icarus takes place within a labyrinth, which the main character has been chosen to enter. She was promised paradise should she find her way out of the labyrinth, but paradise seems more unlikely than ever as she’s forced to confront one horror after another. Many of said horrors have been inspired by Greek mythology, mainly the adorable monsters that populate every great hero’s tale.

The thing is, I had the idea for Children of Icarus back in junior high. The plot was different in every way back then, aside from the setting of the labyrinth. Even the protagonist was an older, altered version of the way she is now. I actually started writing the story back then, but barely got a page in before giving up and moving on to something else. Fast-forward many a year, and I’m studying Greek mythology for my Classics minor at university. It reminds me of that old idea I had, so I revisit it and decide to tell the story of how my protagonist ended up in the labyrinth. I started writing from there, and everything about the story changed. For the better. And now we have a book. Ta-da!

About the Author

Caighlan Smith was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland; Labrador on June 1st, 1994. She grew up in the scenic coastal community of St. Philip’s, overlooking the dramatic north-west Atlantic. As a kid, she loved to play in the woods around her house, loved to tell stories and believed in magic.

Caighlan, who is studying English, Classics and Creative Writing at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, is a supporter of universal girl-child education and has been involved with the Teachers Action for Girls campaign in Uganda.

Her great loves are reading, gaming and, of course, writing. The “C” in her name is hard, the “gh” is silent.

Blog Tour Giveaway

Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or $25 PayPal cash prize, winner's choice Giveaway ends: August 24, 11:59 pm, 2016
Open to: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Caighlan Smith and is hosted and managed by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions feel free to send an email to

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Book Review: The SockKids Say NO to Bullying

The SockKids Say NO to Bullying by Michael John Sullivan, Alexandra Gold, and Shelley Larkin introduces young readers to SockKids Sudsy and Wooly, their mom Rainbow and baby sister, Sunni. Sudsy and Wooly accompany their human, Ethan, to school, where he meets a new girl, Olivia. Olivia seems like the nicest of friends anyone could want, plus she likes reading, also something Ethan enjoys doing. His attempts to get Olivia’s attention are disrupted by a bunch of bullies, kids who take delight in tearing up other kids’ books, kicking their school bags around, stealing their lunch money, and generally being obnoxious. Can Sudsy and Wooly join together to help Ethan out? Maybe, but first they’ll have to get him to take his socks off…

What a charming story for young readers, and also one that parents could read aloud to young kids before bed time to help alleviate the perennial issue of bullying. I loved the colourful illustrations liberally included throughout to help young readers pay attention to the chain of events, as well as to relate to the characters, both human and … er… woollen. The characterisation is great, with the adorable SockKids coming up with inventive ideas to solve a problem that Ethan and Olivia encounter (rescuing a cat stuck in a tree!).

Something I think parents and teachers will appreciate are the various themes cleverly woven into the story: a sense of community, helping the less fortunate, working together for the good of others, friendship, love, loyalty, and standing up against what is wrong, or actions that hurt others. It takes courage to speak out and say “No” to bullying, but Ethan has the SockKids to help him. A very useful section at the end of the book is something I’d encourage parents, counsellors, and teachers to read as it discusses how to recognise and deal with bullying, giving guidelines for both adults and children. This is valuable information as bullying can happen on a number of levels and in different environments, not just at school.

I enjoyed the positive vibe the whole book exudes, with a joyful and enthusiastic approach to problems that children might feel they can’t solve on their own. And if you’ve ever wondered where the other half of your (perhaps several?) pairs of socks have disappeared to during the spin cycle, there is an answer here. I’d like to think that my socks that have gone missing over the years are off somewhere, fighting against bullying and helping youngsters to stand up for what is right!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Book Review: Max's Midnight Adventure

Max’s Midnight Adventure by Wendy Leighton-Porter is a short, delightful story starring Max himself. Anyone who has been following the Shadows From the Past series will, by now, know a lot about Max. A lilac-coloured Tonkinese cat, big boned (definitely not fat), with aquamarine eyes, Max belongs to Jemima and Joe, the twins who’ve been staying with their Uncle Richard after their parents stepped into a magic book and disappeared. They’re not dead, and the twins know this because during their adventures back in time, using the magic book that belonged to their dad, they’ve either caught glimpses of their parents or heard news that they’re alive but have moved on in time. Uncle Richard, a professor of Archaeology and a bachelor, is at a loss as to how to entertain his niece and nephew, but he does his best. Uncle Richard suggests a holiday away down at the coast, in Devon, for a few days and the kids are very excited about the idea, as long as Max can come with.

A holiday means suitcases and they’re in the attic, along with a whole bunch of old boxes, filled with the stuff one usually finds in attics – old toys, Christmas decorations, favourite stuffed animals that no one has the heart to throw out. Max, although short on courage, is long on curiosity and several close shaves during their time travel adventures have done little to diminish his nosiness. He follows Uncle Richard into the attic and does his own poking around. He’s astounded to see the twin’s uncle clutching a shabby old teddy bear and weeping over the loss of his brother, and realises that just because adults don’t say much doesn’t mean they don’t feel sadness. It’s all a bit much for Max who thinks a quick snoozette, while Uncle Richard is pottering about, is in order. As you can imagine, Uncle Richard finishes up in the attic and goes back downstairs, leaving Max curled up inside a box, but there’s someone else in the box as well… How is Max going to get out of the attic? Will he be left there while the kids and their uncle go on holiday?

I love author Wendy Leighton-Porter’s style. In just a few lines of dialogue we meet and get to know a variety of characters, from Colonel Nutcracker (a pompous regimental sort) to Tinkerbell (aka Stinkerbell) who is particularly nasty and sarcastic to poor old Max just because he broke her wand by accident (which could have happened to anyone!), to Action Man who can’t stop flexing his muscles and showing off, to the entire cast of The Twelve Days of Christmas … with the French hens going on strike, the nine ladies getting into a huddle with the football team, to absolute chaos and mayhem. This is a wonderful peep into Max’s life that affords lots of laughs, largely due to the inventiveness of the author, the hilarious interactions between the various characters, and the ultimate charm of Max, the big-hearted (albeit slightly cowardly) hero of the series.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Book Review: The Shadow of the Two Princes

Book 8 in the Shadows From the Past series: The Shadow of the Two Princes tackles one of the most intriguing historical mysteries – what happened to the two princes in the Tower of London? Jemima, Joe, and their friend Charlie could probably tell you, as could Max, their talking Tonkinese cat. The story begins on a sombre note that pervades the entire plot, as atmospheric and as creepy as the dank fog that lingers along the banks of the River Thames. Jemima wakes from a terrible dream, a cry for help from a boy, but was it a dream, or was it truly a cry for help that stretched across the chasm of time to reach her ears? And there’s mention of an Uncle Richard who might kill someone. But their Uncle Richard was the kindest, sweetest man imaginable, the perfect uncle, with whom the twins and Max had been living since their parents disappeared a few months earlier. When their Uncle Richard shows them a newspaper article with details of Richard Plantagenet, King Richard III, who was supposed to have murdered his two nephews in the Tower of London, Jemima is convinced there’s a link. The princes need their help, but will their magic book take them back to that date in time, to 1483, and will they be able to save the princes. After all, as they have learned before, you can’t change history…
Earliest surviving portrait of Richard III
Atmosphere, mystery, and intrigue abound in this tale as the twins, Max, and Charlie tumble headfirst into an adventure. Actually Max and Joe tumble headfirst into the Thames and have to be rescued from drowning by Doctor Argentine, who turns out to be the princes’ physician. An intriguing plot unfolds regarding the rescue of the two princes, with the help of everyone, including Max. Although not required to wear an elaborate disguise, as had happened to poor old Max in previous adventures, Max is pivotal by just being his handsome, special self. In fact he’s so handsome and special he even attracts the attention of Richard, then still the Duke of Gloucester. Well, they do say that even a cat may look at a king…
Max finds out more about a greater role the kids and their parents might play from Corbet, a raven (disguised as one, I should say), who introduces the detail of The Guardians of Time (first mentioned in Max’s Christmas Adventure). Some funny word play ensues which results in Max discovering he is not an “Animal of Time,” but sheds light on why the twins’ parents have disappeared!  The secondary characters are as memorable as the main players and are as important in their own way. Plenty of clues abound, with many nail-biting moments of tension and terror, and young time travellers, history buffs, and adventurers will love every word. Young readers will also appreciate the way the author conveys the fear, the fright experienced by the young princes. Although this is a dark moment in history, I found the young heroes – Joe, Jemima and Charlie – able to cope with and empathise with the events. They are also maturing as the series progresses.

I have always been intrigued by the story of the two princes, but found English history, the names and titles, and royal family relationships a bit confusing. Under the skilled pen of the author, all confusion is cleared up. Wendy Leighton-Porter manages to untangle complex historical threads and effortlessly weaves them into a very readable tale. The discovery of the historical Richard’s remains in 2012 also adds a touch of reality to the story, making the character seem more substantial. In addition, with new details arising about the ill-fated king, one wonders if he was all that bad. Even Jemima, who meets him, wonders about that. Was the maligned Richard as much of a villain as history has painted him? However, as always, author Wendy Leighton-Porter does not whitewash the facts of history, although in this case the fate of the princes remains something of a mystery. Even if history can’t be changed, might it be tweaked? In the end the kids learn that sometimes people don’t do as they are advised… The series is a wonderful gift for avid young readers and even more so for any reluctant young reader who has to be coaxed into the pages of a book.