Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book Review: Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis

Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis
Publisher:Small Shifts Books and Media
Publish Date: July 19, 2010
Paperback, 129 pages
Children, 7-10 years old

My Review:
Why I read this: I was contacted by the author about an interview/tour and review.  The book sounded interesting and like something I might like to share with my son so I said yes. 

How is the novel driven:  Action/plot driven, there is some character development, but the action is what drives this book and that his how it should be for a book marketed to kids 7-11 years old.

My thoughts:  A clever and well-written children's story.  Great for boys and girls 7-11 years old (and older, I enjoyed it). 

Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis is a fast-paced story about two elf girls and a cat.  The girls, Enna, Nissa and Mica the cat live on Atlantis and start out on adventure to help save one of the elder elves from their village.  It has a beautiful message of believing in yourself throughout the book.  I love the fact that Ms. McFadden does not have to try too hard to get that message across.  You know how some books really try and it ends up being cheesy (word from the 80s for you parents out there).  Elffolk does not do that.  The message is subtle and weaved into the story wonderfully.

I think this book will easily hold a child's attention.  It's only about 140 pages long, perfect for children.  And while reading it I was so intrigued I kept turning the pages to learn  more of Nissa, Enna and Mica.  I loved the girls and can't wait to learn more about them in future books, but Mica stole the show for me.  He was so typical for a cat.  If cats could communicate with us I believe Ms. McFadden knows exactly how they would act and speak.  I could envision him so perfectly with the different things he did, he really added to the story.

The world creation is wonderful, I loved hearing about the village and the elves as well as the surrounding areas.  The descriptions were well done and not over-done.  I never felt bogged down, but felt I could easily picture the world that Nissa, Enna and Mica were moving through and the various people/beings they encountered.

The ending of the book is great as well.  This chapter of their adventure is tied up neatly but there is strong hints of further adventures to come.  I know I will join in on these adventures when Ms. McFadden releases them.  I can't wait to read more of Enna, Nissa and Mica.

My Rating:  4.5/5.0

About the Book:
Action-packed and highly imaginative, Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis is a fantasy adventure novel for young readers. An easy, fast-paced read, it tells the story of Enna and Nissa in the mysterious crystal caves of legendary Atlantis. The book is sure to inspire the imagination of a generation of children with its tale of magic and mystery.

Thousands of years ago, on the island of Atlantis, there were signs of a coming disaster. The very first omens were the earthquakes.... When an earthquake strikes the village of Elffolk, an elderly elf becomes trapped in the crystal caves. Two young elves, Enna and Nissa, must save her. But their rescue mission won't be easy. A dark magic lurks within the caves, stirring up danger at every turn and leaving nothing as it seems.

About the Author:
Tina McFadden's writing career began at age six. A dreamer by nature, with a vivid imagination, she would lose herself in the stories of Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. By age nine, she had written a whole series of mystery novels. Now a full-time writer and editor, Tina has published articles in magazines, newspapers and on the web, as well as short fictional stories for children and adults. Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis is her first published novel.

Tina was born in British Columbia, grew up in Ontario and currently resides in Calgary, Alberta with her husband Vlad. When she's not writing about the adventures of fictional characters, she enjoys real-life adventures like hiking in the mountains and travelling abroad.

Her Website

FTC Information: I received this book from the author for review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.

Author Interview: Tina McFadden (Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis)

Today I would like to welcome author Tina McFadden.  Tina is the author of Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis which is a children's story and my review of it is coming later today.  

How did you celebrate when you found out Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis would be published?

You know, come to think of it, I didn’t do anything big to celebrate! I remember calling my sister and sharing the news with her.

I’ve been writing stories ever since I can remember. And as a kid, my younger sister was my biggest (and, well, only) fan. As soon as I had finished writing a chapter in a novel, I would read it to her. She always got right into my stories, anxiously awaiting the next chapter. In fact, she just had her first baby in January, and her daughter’s middle name – Raine – is named after a character in one of the novels I wrote as a teenager. 

Without giving anything away - what is Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis about?

Elffolk is a fantasy-adventure novel for children ages 7 to 10. It’s about elves that live in Atlantis. Here’s a teaser from the back of the book:

“Thousands of years ago, on the island of Atlantis, there were signs of a coming disaster. The very first omens were the earthquakes.... When an earthquake strikes the village of Elffolk, an elderly elf becomes trapped in the crystal caves. Two young elves, Enna and Nissa, must save her. But their rescue mission won't be easy. A dark magic lurks within the caves, stirring up danger at every turn and leaving nothing as it seems.”

Where did the idea for Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis come from?

I’ve always had an interest in ancient civilizations and the legend of Atlantis. I started researching Atlantis about 10 years ago. The idea of a “Lost Continent” has been in people’s consciousness for ages – at least since Plato talked about Atlantis about 2,400 years ago. Thousands of books have been written on the subject – some trying to provide evidence that such a place existed, and probably just as many refuting the claims. It’s been a very controversial subject over the ages – and one that many still wonder about!

I think it’s such a fascinating idea because of the controversy – and the idea that it may have actually existed. I think it’s also alluring because Atlantis was said to have been a very technologically advanced civilization of people. It’s also thought by many to have been spiritually advanced.   

Crystal: I admit I am fascinated by Atlantis and that is why I jumped at the chance to read  your book.

Do you plan your books out or do you just write and see where it takes you?

I may have a rough guideline, but I never know exactly how a story will turn out until I start writing. I know I’m in “the zone” when the words flow and I lose track of time – that’s when I seem to do my best writing. Oftentimes, afterwards, I don’t know where the ideas came from – they seemed to just flow through me! 

I see that you are an editor as well as an author, do you think the editor role helps you with your writing?

Yes, I think so. I started writing at about age five or six, and I’ve never stopped. I studied professional writing at university, and then later earned an MA in journalism. All of my jobs have involved writing – from technical writing to marketing writing to journalism. I find it easy and enjoyable to write – I very seldom get hung up on the wording of a sentence or paragraph – and I’m sure I owe that to my writing and editing experience.

I also love that you confess your love of Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden.  Some of my best memories of my mom reading to me was Trixie Belden.  Do you have a favorite book out of those series?

I had to dig out the old boxes in the basement where I’d saved my favorite children’s books, along with my beloved sticker albums and coin collection!

Some of my favorite Nancy Drew novels included Mystery of Crocodile Island, The Witch Tree Symbol and The Clue of the Tapping Heels. A favorite Trixie Belden novel was The Mystery of the Missing Millionaire. I remember staying up late at night to read those books – long after I was supposed to be asleep!

Crystal:  Sorry to make you dig - but I know all about the coin collection and sticker collection - hmmm - I wonder if  my parents still have that huge sticker book I made :)

Do you get time to read? What are your favorite types of books to read?

I love reading, and I read before bed almost every night. Some of my favorites include Memoirs of a Geisha, The Red Tent, The Kite Runner, Wicked, and most recently, The Host by Stephenie Meyer. And like most people of the world, I’m a big Harry Potter fan, too!

Crystal:  Some great books there, one day I will get back to Harry Potter and read the series.  I read the first one got involved in book blogging and haven't gotten back to the series.
What is your favorite room in your house?

My favorite room is the family room in my house. It has a wood-burning fireplace and looks out over the backyard.

What is your favorite spot to read in?

My husband and I recently purchased a wing-back recliner, which is in our family room. I really like reading in that chair. I also like reading in bed.

What is your favorite snack food?

I’m nearly six months pregnant at the moment – so, right now, my favorite snacks are pickles, olives and frozen yogurt popsicles! 

Crystal:  Congratulations on the pregnancy!  LOL at the pickles.  I ate a lot of popsicles with my two pregnancies, but I ate the regular kind (orange, grape, cherry) not the yogurt kind.  Nothing healthy for me in pregnancy :)

What is your favorite season?

I love everything about the Fall – the colors, the smell of the leaves, and the knowing that Christmas is just around the corner. As a kid, I looked forward to going back to school (yeah, can you believe it?). I enjoyed shopping for new school supplies, as well as back-to-school clothes. So even now, every Fall, I feel like it’s a new year. It’s like starting over.

Do you have a schedule for writing each day or do you just do it when you can?

I’m not one to follow a schedule, though many authors recommend that you sit down each day for a certain period of time and crank out some copy. I’ve never followed this process. Instead, I try to write when the inspiration strikes – even if that happens to be 3 in the morning! (I keep a notepad next to my bed.)

Where do you do the majority of your writing?

I do most of my writing in my home office on my laptop.

Did you find writing Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis to be difficult or did the book just take off with no problems?

I wrote the entire book in about three months. That was then followed by a year of editing, reviews and revisions.... In this case, the story flowed pretty effortlessly. However, I’ve been subject to writer’s block in the past, the same as probably every other writer out there! Writer’s block can be very frustrating, especially if you have a deadline.

Any book signings/conferences/public/blog appearances in the near future?

My book launch on August 25 is a “soft” launch. I’ve partnered with a number of parent coaches, mom bloggers, authors and others who are helping to promote my book via e-mail, social media, blogs and newsletters on the 25th. I have written guest blogs for a few of these partners. I also keep a monthly blog at Over the next few weeks, I plan to do some book signings at local book stores and libraries.

Do you have a new book in the works?

Yes, Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis is the first book in a series. A draft of the next book in the Elffolk series is already written. In fact, I wrote it first. I have to make some major revisions to it since writing Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis, but the framework is definitely there! Stay tuned for the second book in the Elffolk series!

Anything else you would like to say?

I’ve come to realize how much work goes into a novel long after you’ve written it! As my mentor, children’s author Teresa de Grosbois, has told me on several occasions – writing the book is not even half the battle. There’s so much more that goes into publishing and promoting a book – it’s amazing. I didn’t know at first whether I could transition from “writer” to “marketing and sales person,” but I have really enjoyed building relationships with other people, and working to get the word out about my book.

I now see promoting a novel like any business - you have to love what you do, or you’ll probably find it’s just too much work. For me, writing has always been what I wanted to do, so there is no questioning it – I’m on the path I want to be on!  

To learn more about Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis, or to order a copy, visit

Crystal:  Tina you are so right - that is exactly what I am hearing from a lot of authors that I work with.  The promotion and getting the word out is really time-consuming.  That is why I try and do all I can to help new authors and I really have a lot of fun doing it.  I love getting to know authors a little bit.

Thanks so much for agreeing to do an interview with me

Thank you so much for the opportunity! All the best to you!

Thanks again Tina.  Please stay tuned for my review of Elffolk and the Crystal Caves of Atlantis later today!