guest post: Author Kevin James Breaux

Written by Darlyn At Wednesday, September 29, 2010 30 bookish peeps...
Hi guys! Today I'm so honored to have Kevin James Breaux, author of Soulborn at Darlyn & Books. You have to read the guest post, I love how he talked about his experience and memories of his childhood, beautiful paintings, fantasy and arts. Hope you enjoy!

Kevin James Breaux, Author, Level One

You know how they say one event can change your life forever. Looking back at my childhood I think I can pinpoint a single moment that created a wide spread butterfly effect that rippled throughout my years.

On my seventh birthday, back in 1981, my friend Matt, who was a few years older than me, gave me my first Dungeons and Dragons book. It was the OFFICIAL ADVANCED DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS MONSTER MANUAL by Gary Gygax and it had the most amazing painting of a bunch of pegasi fighting a big red dragon on the cover. The book was hard bound and large, unlike all my other little children’s books. Holding it here in my hands now, I recall those very happy days.

Of all the gifts I got from my friends and family that birthday the Monster Manual is the only one I remember, and still own to this day. Yes, I’m sure I got a football, some Star Wars action figures, maybe even some Batman Underoos, but those items did not make a lasting impression on me. (Underoos were boys underwear that looked like a superhero costume and were quite the trendy fashion statement of their day).

I vividly remember feeling that Matt had given me a very special gift. At the same time I was curious and excited; what was this book and what secrets did it hold inside?

I admit at seven years old I probably did not comprehend half of what I was reading, but the pen and ink pictures hypnotized me. Massive snarling dragons, swirling wind elementals, giants as big as trees, squid-headed mind flayers and even shambling zombies; these 112 pages kept my attention for hundreds of hours. I wanted to draw everything I saw, and tried my best to copy my favorite pages.

My parents must have wondered if this book was secretly enchanted with kid-tranquilizing magic due to the simple fact that, short of cartoons, nothing quite held my attention so solidly. Thinking back all those years I cannot remember if I begged my mother to take me to the hobby store in the Village Mall that week to buy more books like this one, or if she raced me over there just to find more of these “hardbound baby sitters”. Either way, it worked out nicely and I added MONSTER MANUAL 2, FIEND FOLIO and DEITIES AND DEMI-GODS to my collection.

Seeing my excitement over his gift, Matt wanted to teach me how to play the game behind the “cool drawings”. He and his friends were just learning it too and they needed one more player. I’ll never forget the feeling of amazement that washed over me when I saw all the little metal knights and wizards used to play D&D. Unlike the plastic army men I had buckets of, each of these metal soldiers and monsters seemed to have a story about them, and the way Matt explained it those tales were yet to be told. Yeah, I was instantly hooked, time to play.

You know how kids play; they kinda make things up as they go along. Did I know all the D&D rules back then? NO WAY! I probably knew 5% of them, if even that. Basically I understood how to make and equip my character and when to roll my dice, other than that I just followed the leader. I had a good imagination and was easily amused, the best I can explain it is that the game of D&D was all just one big puppet show, and from time to time I was allowed to dance my very own puppet.

It’s hard not to credit D&D for the onslaught of fantasy related things my parents put in front of me from that day forward. Toys like the LEGO Castle and movies such as Excalibur and Hawk the Slayer; it all shaped me as a future writer in the genre. After years of enjoying other people’s creations I realized I could make my own. It wasn’t until recent years that I realized it was not the act of playing games like D&D, Ultima: Exodus, Final Fantasy or even World of Warcraft (I miss you WoW) that I truly enjoyed, it was actually the process of character creation that excited me.

SOUL BORN is my debut novel: a character driven fantasy; 110,000 words born from the tips of my fingers and the core of my heart. SOUL BORN can be read as a standalone novel, or the beginning of a proposed three book series.

All Opal wanted was to be respected as a wielder of magic, but her teachers passed her over time and time again. When a mysterious warlord embarks on a conquest to destroy the lands of Illyia Opal seizes an opportunity to step out from the shadows of her instructors and take her rightful spot among them. Tala, an alluring young elf, was banished from her tribe, hunted and nearly killed by the beasts that dwell in the deep forests, but more than anything else she is a survivor. Joining forces with an ancient elemental power Tala finds herself in the center of an unrelenting human war. She never wanted any of this.

Flesh like leather and bone as strong as steel Karn, a veteran from the first kingdom to fall, is fueled by vengeance. While pushing ever headlong into battle Karn begins to recall memories of another life; ghosts that haunt his dreams.

Through death of soul, their world is born.

About the Author

Kevin James Breaux is an award-winning author and artist. He is a member of the HWA and EAA. Along with having many short stories published Kevin's first novel, SOUL BORN, an epic fantasy, will be released 11/2010. Soul Born is book one in a three book series, that runs over 110,000 words.

Visit him at his website:

Thanks so much Kevin for visiting Darlyn & Books!

zoya by danielle steel

Written by Darlyn At Monday, September 27, 2010 10 bookish peeps...
Title: Zoya
Author: Danielle Steel
Pages: 397
Rating: 4/5

Summary (Goodreads):

Follows Zoya, from the revolution in Russia through the sixties and seventies in America, from St. Petersburg to Paris to New York in the eighties, as she struggles to survive in the face of insurmountable odds.

My Thought:

A beautiful classic! This was a very memorable read about a young girl, a princess, lost her family in early age. Like any other Danielle Steel's work, this one is also a bit predictable but I think I like it.

The leading protagonist, Zoya, is portrayed as a strong, a bit naive, beautiful woman who face and dealt with many obstacles and hardships. I love the character Zoya. She lost her whole family when she is little and her dearest cousin that she considered her sister. Their relationship although for a while, was very sweet and cherished. Went to Paris with her very old grandmother, they built a small life in refugee and tried to live to the fullest and leave everything behind. In Paris, she fall in love with an American soldier and I found it very sweet and romantic but unsecured. He left her a lot but came back into her life in a blink and thank God they managed to build a life and got married and live quite happily in America for a short while until her husband died. With her two small children, she had to move on. In a part, I really admired which she stood on the ground and being proud of who she is when she used her title as The Countess to get a work but being modest and hardworking. Her sense of fashion is incredible and leaving me wanting to be at her time.

The plot line is honestly quit flat and but there are a few small climax which I found them acceptable as that were a few moments of the character's obstacles and hardships. Other characters are well-developed and completed the story as well as well-adapted to the main character. The emotions were there and I can relate to the story but sometimes I felt lost and felt it being dragged a bit.

The most interesting part of the story probably would be the historical setting and connections to the Russian Tsar, set against the Russian Revolution with an assemble possibility of Anastasia Romanov. It was described beautifully and I thought I was nearly absorbed with the beautiful setting.

It's quite an enjoyable read and I barely can put it down. Although it is somewhat predictable, I found it like a beautiful memoir with beautiful life ending. Fully recommended.

giveaway flash: percy jackson and the olympians series

Written by Darlyn At Saturday, September 25, 2010 4 bookish peeps...

In celebration of the upcoming release of Rick Riordan's new series The Lost Hero, The Heroes of Olympus book # 1, Jennifer @ An Abundance of Books is holding a BIG FAT GIVEAWAY!

There will be 2 separate but Percy Jackson related giveaways. This is INTERNATIONAL giveaway of the complete Percy Jackson series; The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian could be yours!

This contest runs from August 31st - October 5th. The winner will be announced on October 6th. Click HERE and enter!

hex hall by rachel hawkins

Written by Darlyn At Saturday, September 25, 2010 7 bookish peeps...
Title: Hex Hall (Hex Hall #1)
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Pages: 323
Rating: 3.5/5
Source: Won from Leanna. Thanks!

Summary (Goodreads):

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

My Review:

At first, I have a mixed feeling on this book, whether will I like it or not. It is my first time reading a young adult witch's book and I'm afraid if I don't like it. I'm so eager but yet so worried. But after reading it and finished it, honestly, I felt a so-so feeling.

Hex Hall is an okay book. I don't find it really great but I strongly has to admit that it has an interesting premise. Sophie is not like any other witches and she's rock. She's not that annoying protagonist and she is more like any normal teen girl minus the bitchiness type. Her character is strong and I don't find any flaw about it which is a thank goodness. What I love most about her is that she is a very good friend which I love to have. Even though Jenna is the only outcast vampire and no. 1 suspect of a few attacks at Hex Hall, Sophie strongly believes that she knows Jenna is not the culprit. Sophie's crush, Archer, a warlock, is kind of weird and I don't think I ever like him. He is full of mystery and I can't really 'read' his character.

Frankly speaking, apart of the good things I've mentioned above, the story is quite plain and I really hope it would be juicier and a little bit more exciting. Well, there's actually a quite strong plot line but it's like the author did not really write it to the fullest. The climax is not really on the highest peak, quite linear and predictable. I wish the author could elaborate more on Archer's character, about Sophie's great-grandmother, and the ending is quite dull. I hope the sequel, Demonglass would be better than this.

However, it is still an enjoyable read, fun and a quick read. I would recommend to young adults fan and whoever likes a fun read.

i'm back! i'm back!

Written by Darlyn At Friday, September 24, 2010 23 bookish peeps...
Hello fellow bloggers and readers!

I'm so excited to be back online and the holiday was a blast! I got back from Kuala Lumpur to Bintulu on Sept 22nd and took a while to sort things, unpacking and met some friends to say hi and catches up. So today I read a few emails and also reading some blogs. I have a few things to sort out and organize after being gone for quite a while. Heck, it really felt I lost contact with the world! At least I still can check emails and reply through my phone since there's no internet connections at my hometown. You can guess it as a deserted island or something like that. LOL.

I will get back with more reviews, a few author guest post and interviews. But today I just want to visit around and say hi to you and read other blogs reviews. I realized there's a load of contest is going on around. It's time to hit the luck! Yum-yum! See you guys around!

Oh, there's a few pictures during the Eid Mubarak. I hate to upload pictures, hope a few of it is enough to tell you the story behind it. LOL. We celebrate Eid at our grandparent's hometown. So now you know why I'm lost from the world. =)


me and my sister, Ziehan.

Ziehan with mom.

Ziehan with my only brother; Alim.

me, sisters and cousins;
boys wearing traditional 'baju Melayu' and girls wearing traditional 'baju kurung'.

the sisters; Aisyah, Ziehan, me and Tasha.

p/s: Yes, you can see Ziehan in every pictures. She just love to be 'sticky' or 'clingy'. LOL. Oops, sorry!

giveaway flash: heroes of fallen by david j. west

Written by Darlyn At Monday, September 06, 2010 7 bookish peeps...
Book Give-Away September 6 - 13: for those interested in Heroes of the Fallen by David J. West, leave a comment about this interview with your e-mail at Open to USA and Canada only.

“An epic tale of valor and degeneracy where heroes are beset on every side by wicked schemers whose plots, like a flood, threaten to drown them all.” Stand alongside daring heroes with swords bared against sinister villains, never knowing which will fall. Witness the plans of mighty kings and lowly thieves. See the dreams of Bethia, a prophet's daughter, as she runs away from home seeking independence, only to find confusion and wickedness in a land at war. Heroes of the Fallen is full of tragedy and triumph on the American Continent. It echoes universal themes of mankind: fear and courage, faith versus doubt, hunger for power and love, and sacrifice for the greater good.

in which i'm on a very short holiday..

Written by Darlyn At Saturday, September 04, 2010 13 bookish peeps...
Hi dear lovelies!

Remember I said that I will not be around much for next 2 weeks? Well, it's official today that I'm on holiday or break for Eid Mubarak. I'm planning to spend all the time with my dear family and friends, visiting places, relatives and do so much activities. But of course, with lots of books to be read!

Hence, I will miss to visit, comments and read others reviews and participate in memes but I hope I will make it up once I get back. I already schedule one a few reviews while I'm gone but I really hope you guys will stick around and I'll make a noise when I'm back! I will terribly miss all you dear friends and blogging community.

Last but not least, Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim friends and may this year we have all the blessing and dreams.

Best wishes,


dance while you can by susan lewis

Written by Darlyn At Thursday, September 02, 2010 11 bookish peeps...
Title: Dance While You Can
Author: Susan Lewis
Pages: 378
Rating: 3/5

Summary (Goodreads):

Elizabeth Sorrill, is the junior matron at Foxton’s elite School for Boys. Her attractions prove irresistible to Alexander Belmayne, the seventeen-year-old son of the Lord Chief Justice, but their passionate affair is short-lived as bitter lies and scandal force them apart. A chance meeting in London brings them together again, and their reunion leads to a breathtaking crime fired by an overwhelming obsession — a hatred so violent it knows no limits.

My Review:

This book contains so many melodramatic scenes. Whilst I'm enjoying reading it, I have a mix feeling about this and take a while to write a review about it. The plot line is okay but quite unrealistic sometimes. Like I said, too melodramatic.

A 21 years old girl falling in love with a 17 years old boy is something interesting, more over he's her student. Although it is hard to resist and deny their love, they manage to keep low and down until she's being accused as gypsy and prostitute from some fairground which risen Alexander's father who is a Chief of Justice. Well, devastated and furious, Alexander despised Elizabeth more than anything and dismissed her from Foxton's ground. Elizabeth did nothing to depend herself because she thought that was the best thing to end what she call a fling. But she regretted that Alexander would never meet his child.

Years later, married with someone else, Alexander still can't forget Elizabeth and being a playboy is the only thing he can do. While Elizabeth, married with a wealthy man, and live pretending to be happy with someone she can never love. Until finally they met each other, their love is kind of rekindled once again, secretly. Although it will never last that way, Elizabeth's husband died and her sister-in-law, Christine is furious because she knew that it's because of Elizabeth, her brother died, loveless. Christine set up to murder Elizabeth and takes everything that she thinks is hers, the wealth that left from her brother. It seems like Elizabeth and Alexander will never be able to be together.

The story is quite engaging and it really is melodramatic. And I think it has issues, committed adultery while one still married? That's a big issue. Apart from that, all the characters are well-developed and the story is very well-written. However, I must admit that it drives me really angry with Elizabeth. I thought it was mad. Can't she ever let go of her feeling for a while and love her husband instead of whining how she loves Alexander more than anything? The craziest part is when she is pregnant with Alexander's child while she's still married to Edward, and announced her pregnancy to her in-laws without knowing Edward has done a vasectomy years ago! Shocking! But Edward still except her and forgives her and adopted her children. For once, I thought, Elizabeth, you are such a b***h! No wonder Christine hates you and wanted to kill you! There, I said that.

I think it deserves to have 4.5 rating, but I gave only 3. I just hate the characters and I'm so furious with Elizabeth and Alexander that I'm being a bit bias. But really, it a good book actually.

Note: This review is linked to Cym Lowell's Book Review Party. Click HERE to learn more or participate.

my monthly books recap: august 10

Written by Darlyn At Wednesday, September 01, 2010 13 bookish peeps...
August has passed and September is approaching. Happy September 1st everyone! Seriously, do we have that Happy September? LOL. I don't read really much but quite surprised with myself to manage to read 12 books this month and 79 this year! Squeal..!

So here goes the list;

1) Vampire Kisses: The Beginning by Ellen Schreiber
2) Chill Factor by Sandra Brown
3) Honeymoon by Amy Jenkins
4) Stake That! by Mari Mancusi
5) The Ghost by Danielle Steel
6) Love Only Once by Johanna Lindsey
7) Stuck With You by Trish Jensen
8) The Red Church by Scott Nicholson
9) Better Than Chocolate by Maddie James*
10) Shadow Music by Julie Garwood
11) The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon
12) Memories of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon

And another exciting news, I will be going home this Thursday for Eid' Fitri/Eid' Mubarak! Yeay! Fasting month also near to end and I'm looking forward to celebrate Eid in a week with my family. Yeay! Ohh, Eid' Fitri/Eid' Mubarak is actually a celebration for Muslim after a month of fasting. It's like a Christmas, Chinese New Year, Deepavali etc.

So I expect I will not be able to read or blog much in September. But I already scheduled a few book reviews while I'm gone. Only that I wont be able to pay visit to other blogs. But I will, once I get back from holiday or if I can squeeze some time to blog.

But that will be starting on this Thursday so I guess I will have time to say goodbye to all of you before I go home. =)

I hope you guys had a very great August and if you like to share, I would love to know what books you've read last month (leave link in the comment).

Cheers and hope September will be another great month for Bookworms like US!

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