Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Juli Caldwell's Secrets of the Mine

Welcome to The Gates of Atlantis Book Tour! Today I'm spotlighting and reviewing Juli Calwell's book from the series, titled Secrets of the Mine (come back on Friday when I'll be reviewing Mikey Brooks' book from the series). Juli was also kind enough to answer some interview questions because I was very curious about how this series came to be, so be sure to read that. Then at the bottom find a giveaway entry to win copies of these books, a gift card, or even an Atlantian necklace!

Secrets of the Mine by Juli Caldwell

Adam Alfaro daydreams about magic, myths, and becoming famous for discovering the lost city of Atlantis. The only problem? He has to spend spring break in Africa while his mom works. To make it worse, everyone expects him to be friends with the annoying Clancy Pitt while he’s there. It’s dislike at first sight...until he realizes she might know a few secrets about Atlantis.

Then he meets Nef, a spirited sea kelpie who needs help rescuing naiads kidnapped and left to die in an ancient mine. Suddenly the strange creatures Adam dreamed of become all too real. And they’re after him. Can Adam, Clancy, and Nef fight their way through the maze of tunnels in the mine and reach the naiads before it's too late?

Secrets of the Mine:

Paperback | Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks

My review: Caldwell has painted a world of mythical, fantastical creatures within a story so unique and creative you'll be sucked into the magical whirlpool she's created. Her descriptions and ingenuity will entertain and delight young and old alike. So jump in and hold on for the ride of your life—many times on the back of a kelpie!
Adam, a boy who believes in all the myths and fairytales he reads while on digs with his archaeologist mom, and his new, unlikely friend Clancy find themselves thrust into a world that has only previously been told in stories, with sea creatures that people can only imagine. But Adam’s belief in those things enable him to help the kelpie, Nef, on a rescue mission.
This book is MG (middle grade) and while I completely believe that it will more than entertain and delight kids that age, I also recommend it to anyone of any age. It’s a great, fun read with so much going on and such clear, vivid descriptions that I myself couldn’t put it down!
My original ending to this post was: "I’m looking forward to the sequel—because trust me, there will be a sequel." Then I read Mikey Brooks book from this series (which I'll review on Thurs) and realized he basically ties up ALL the stories in the series, so I'd suggest reading all the others before his.

The Interview:
1. How did this project come to be? Whose idea was it?
I'm honestly not sure who had the original idea. I saw a post on a Facebook writers’ forum saying some people wanted to put together a fantasy series. I'd just published a clean romance novella entitled Arms Wide Open and wanted to try something new. Fantasy for kids the age of my two daughters (who are avid readers) just sounded like fun, so I jumped aboard!

2. Did you all discuss what you were going to write to make sure your worlds didn't conflict with one another?
The other five authors and I started a private group on Facebook to start throwing out ideas and discuss it all. The six authors also Skyped to plan things out. During the first Skype session, someone brought up something called the vile vortices. The web page talked about how these were potentially doors to other dimensions. Those became our gates to Atlantis and a guiding theme.

When we decided this would be a young YA/mid-grade series, we wanted to keep it fun without spending too much time worrying about tiny little details that could mess up a timeline or ruin someone else’s story. We decided that, instead of telling a story along a linear timeline, things could happen at the same time and our characters would run into each other and share in their adventures. Some scenes from the series appear in more than one book. When this happened, we created scenes together.

In Secrets of the Mine, for example, Seven from Banshee at the Gate shows up to help Adam. Wendy sent me her idea for the scene, I added what I thought would be consistent with the characters I created, and sent it back to her. When I then put that scene in my book, I added, deleted, and revised so we could see how it all went down from his perspective.

3. How did you come up with the idea for Adam's grand adventures? Is this idea something you've been floating around in your head for a while?

There’s some debate among writers whether it’s best to “plot it” or “pants it.” I’ve always been a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl, so I just decided I wanted to tell a story boys could enjoy along with my daughters, and I ran with it. I’ve read quite a bit about the need for diversity in literature so I wanted to create characters any kid could identify with; Adam and his mom both have brown hair and eyes with no mention of their ethnicity. He could be any kid on any continent. He loves to read, and his favorite books are about mythology. Adam is a dreamer whose dreams come true.

I didn’t want to leave any girls out, though, so his sidekick is very much like Hermione. Clancy is the smart one he really needs to get things done, although I made her tall with hazel eyes like my oldest daughter. I started to write this book write around the time author Tom Clancy died, so I named Clancy for him. She was a challenge for me to write, though, because the protagonists in my other books are sassy smart alecs. Her character needed to be more thoughtful and a little bit neurotic to provide some balance for Adam.

Adam and Clancy are both misfits, but they find friendship with each other and Nef along the way. I had a ton of fun writing Nef, the sea kelpie who came to the mines searching for naiads whom the series’ bad guy, Phoibos, kidnapped, imprisoned, and left to die. I made Nef the smart alec! Nef is everything I always wanted to be as an insecure kid—funny, confident, with no care at all what others think of him—and his friendship with Adam and Clancy helps them build their confidence in themselves.

When I chose the Zimbabwe vortex for the gate my characters are near, it made sense to use African mythology for some of my bad guys. I’ve always loved archeology, so I made Adam’s mom an archaeologist on a dig to get him there, and the story took off in my head from this point. When I had writer’s block moments, I just opened up a search engine and looked for images related to African mythology until I got inspired again. This is the best part about my job, I think—because I don’t outline and plan my books out, I’m just as surprised as my readers with the twists and turns.

4. What's up next from Juli Caldwell?

I’m busy writing a sequel to my clean paranormal YA novel, Psyched. Freaked continues Aisi’s story and fight against the demon who kidnapped her sister (I guess kidnapping seems to be a central conflict in my books, doesn’t it?). I introduce a new “bad guy” who makes the demon from Psyched look like a pansie. I’m also revising a romance I wrote many years ago loosely based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Stay tuned! 

Juli Caldwell

This is where I tell you about how amazing and interesting my life is. Sorry to disappoint you with my non-glamorous life, but I'm a normal person who loves to read and loves to write. I've written romance, YA paranormal, and mid-grade fantasy--who knows what I'll try next? I just listen to the voices in my head and let their stories out. I'm married to my favorite person, and together we're raising two hilarious daughters and a dog who dances gangnam style for treats. La vie est belle!

You can find Juli's books here:

Find out more about Juli here:

Below are the rest of the books, their blurbs, and authors so you can see what else is included in this set.

Banshee at the Gate by Wendy Knight

Thirteen-year-old half-breed banshee, Seven, likes her life. She leads souls safely to Death and she has the planet’s most awesome dad and little brother. But a cryptic message from Atlantis asking for her help changes all that. And then there’s Death, who has decided it’s time to take her brother’s soul. Now she’s racing across the world, trying to stay one step ahead of Death.

Unfortunately, getting to Atlantis from Ireland isn’t easy, and there are evil minions determined to keep her away every time she turns around. But fighting for their lives teaches Seven one very important lesson—she isn’t human, and she isn’t a banshee. She has to be both if she wants to save her brother and make it back home alive.

Banshee at the Gate:

Paperback | Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks

Wendy Knight is the bestselling author of the young adult series Fate on Fire and Riders of Paradesos. She was born and raised in Utah by a wonderful family who spoiled her rotten because she was the baby. Now she spends her time driving her husband crazy with her many eccentricities (no water after five, terror when faced with a live phone call, no touching the knives…you get the idea). She also enjoys chasing her three adorable kids, playing tennis, watching football, reading, and hiking. Camping is also big—her family is slowly working toward a goal of seeing all the National Parks in the U.S.

You can usually find her with at least one Pepsi nearby, wearing ridiculously high heels for whatever the occasion. And if everything works out just right, she will also be writing.

You can find all of Wendy's books here:

You can find more about Wendy here:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorWendyKnight
Twitter: https://twitter.com/wjk8099Instagram: http://instagram.com/wendyjo99

Guardians of the Gate by Laura D. Bastian

Thirteen-year-old merman Exander wants to leave Atlantis to mingle with the humans and explore the world above. Talia, his best friend, wishes she was a guardian of a gate leading to the surface. She'd keep those nasty humans out of her beloved city of Atlantis. When Talia accidentally short circuits a gate, Exander is trapped on the wrong side, getting a crash course in navigating the human world. As Talia fights to help Exander come home, she learns someone is closing the other gates, and it’s destroying the magic of Atlantis. If they can’t convince the magical creatures of the world to save the gates, the destruction of Atlantis will only be the beginning.

Guardians of the Gates:

Laura Bastian grew up in a small town in central Utah and now lives in another small town in northern Utah. She always loved stargazing and imagining life outside her own little world. Though they grew up only thirty miles apart, she didn’t meet her husband until they went to college. A graduate of Utah State University with a degree in Elementary and Special Education, Laura has been using that training as she raises her children and writes make believe worlds. You can usually find her on her laptop either typing away, or on social media interacting with friends.

Buy her books here:

Visit Laura's website at:

Magicians of the Deep by Jaclyn Weist

Thirteen-year-old Colin knew nothing of the magic world until he is bitten by a mischievous pixie. He meets thirteen-year-old Alleya on a secret website devoted to magical creatures. Before he knows it, Colin finds himself thrust into a whole new world.

Alleya has been hidden away from the rest of Atlantis because she’s half-mermaid, half-Atlantian. Her father tries to ease her boredom by getting her a computer and finally allowing her to go to school. She accidentally lets slip a dark secret —the gates to Atlantis are being shut and it's destroying magic. Alleya is exiled to Indiatlantis.

There, she learns mermaids are getting sick because of the lack of magic, and the tunnels are beginning to collapse. Together, Colin and Alleya must find a way to bring back the old magic and fight to save Atlantis.

Magicians of the Deep:

Jaclyn Weist is an Idaho farm girl who grew up loving to read. She developed a love for writing as a senior in high school, when her dad jokingly said she was the next Dr. Seuss (not even close, but very sweet). She met her husband, Steve at BYU and they have six happy, crazy children that encourage her writing. After owning a bookstore and running away to have adventures in Australia, they settled back down in their home in Utah. Jaclyn now spends her days herding her kids to various activities and trying to remember what she was supposed to do next.

You can purchase Jaclyn's books here:

Find Jaclyn here:

Madness Behind the Throne by JR Simmons

Callidora is an Atlantian noblewoman and member of an elite guard whose purpose is to keep Atlantis pure...until her life is turned upside down by the birth of a son.

Phoibos, bullied and taunted by other kids, is sure of one thing: something is wrong with Atlantis. Impure, Atlantian-Human hybrids are ruining his city, and he'll stop at nothing to rectify that. Callidora is the only one who knows the truth of who her only son really is, and how dangerous he can be. Can anyone stop Phoibos before his need for purification brings Atlantis to the very brink of destruction?

Madness Behind the Throne:

Paperback | Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks

JR Simmons lives in Northern Utah with his wife and 4 boys. He loves spending time with his family and coaching his kids in all of their different sports. He is an avid gamer and is very excited that his boys are picking up on his hobby. JR was recently introduced to triathlons and has since found that he loves the sport. Most nights he can be found either sitting down with a good game or hunched over his iPad writing.

You can purchase his book here:

Find J.R. here:


Battle for Acropolis by Mikey Brooks
Thirteen-year-old Talon is in trouble...again. He didn't mean to burn down the school library. It just happened. Things like that always happen to Talon. His life is a mixture of the weird and bizarre. No one else he knows can shoot fire from their hands or cause anearthquake...but he can.

Every night the same dream haunts Talon: the destruction of an underwater city. He doesn't have a clue what it means but he feels like fate is trying to warn him. It's not until he runs away with his foster sister Hattie that he discovers his trouble-making powers and strange nightmare are connected. Together they are the key to saving magic...to saving Atlantis.

Battle for Acropolis:

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several picture books including the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons. He is also the author of the best-selling middle-grade fantasy The Stone of Valhalla as well as the exciting series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’. He is also one of the hosts of theAuthors’ Think Tank Podcast. You can find more about him and his books at:http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/.



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  1. It was really fun to see more into how Juli created her characters. Though we worked on this project together, there was so much freedom in each of our stories to have lots of fun with. I'm glad I had a chance to work with all these awesome authors.

    1. I read Juli's and Mikey's stories for this tour, and really enjoyed them both. Through Mikey's I got to meet the rest of the characters you all created, and I think you guys must have had a blast writing this series. I can't wait to read the other books.