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YABooksPodcast's podcast

I interview Young Adult, YA, authors about their books. YA novels may be Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Adventure, Action, Horror, or General Fiction. We talk about the author's lives, locations, work, careers, training, education, inspiration, writing methods and routines.
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Apr 27, 2017

The Bloody Shoe Affair: A daring and thrilling adventure with the Jailer's daughter.
by Joy York.
Published in Feb of 2015
4.4 Stars from 25 Reviews

https://www.amazon.com/Bloody-Shoe-Affair-thrilling-adventure-ebook/dp/B00TUJTWEC/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=740R7ZC613GKDV5XJG7W

http://www.joyyork.com/://www.joyyork.com/

Here is the cover copy:
In this mystery set in 1968, Christi, a shy and awkward teenager, never expected to get sucked into helping her cousin, Lily, the “double-dare-you” daughter of the county jailer, try to solve the grizzliest murder the town of Roselyn, Mississippi, had ever seen. Then again, Christi had been entangled in her misadventures before. So a whirlwind week of spying, lying, crawling through tunnels and sneaking into the jail should have come as no surprise to Christi.

Lily, a vivacious prankster, loves adventure. It’s not hard to find when you live in a house connected to the jail. Christi, a city girl, is self-conscious and afraid of everything. Still, she’s drawn to the excitement and adventure that Lily always seems to provide. Christi arrives for a visit in time to help her cousin discover what happened the night Lily observed a county deputy drop a pair of women’s bloody shoes from a bag. After a chance meeting with the accused, they learn new information that sheds doubt on his guilt. Seeking justice, Lily sets a plan in motion that takes them on an adventure of risk and surprising twists. They not only discover unexpected truths about the case, but about themselves as well.
The Amazon preview has two full chapters and a bit of the third. The second is much longer than the first, so if you like what you hear, you can go read some more if you are still debating whether or not to get this book.
Here is the first chapter:
(Read it)


About the Author
Joy York grew up in Alabama, but has spent much of her adult life in the Midwest. She is a graduate of Auburn University. She has had a rewarding career in retail management. She was an active volunteer in her community, holding positions on nonprofit boards supporting education, including an elected four- year term on the Hudson City School Board of Education in Hudson, Ohio. She was inspired to write when she began creating stories and adventures to entertain her son when he was growing up. She has returned to her home state of Alabama where she now follows her passion of writing fulltime.

Why I like this story.
The author takes full advantage of telling a story in the first person. The character's voice and the narrator are the same. We get Christi's thoughts and interpretation of events as they happen. Though we only have two short glimpses of Christi and her family in the first chapter we learn a lot about her personality, her feelings of awkwardness, her desire to fit in, and that she may actually enjoy the excitement that accompanies Lillie's reckless curiosity. We also learn about the plot. That there has been a murder, and Lillie's father being the jailer is going to put them right in the middle of the excitement.
I give this story five stars for characterization, plot, and pacing. The only draw back that I can see is that there isn't an audio version, so I'm going to have to actually read it. And I will. This looks to be a fast paced, fun read.

Apr 20, 2017

Savages: Chronicles of Warshard by Katherine Bogle.

https://www.amazon.com/Savages-Chronicles-Warshard-Katherine-Bogle-ebook/dp/B06XG5KJMT/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=6WYYW82F41EZRX1CF6TB


It currently has 18 reviews with an average of 4.1 star rating.
It was published on April 4th of 2017. I saw this the week before, advertised on Twitter. The blurb and book cover caught my attention, so I preordered it for 99 cents.
Two weeks after it's release it is sitting at 12K odd in the Kindle store and at #5 for Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

 

Katherine Bogle's debut young adult novel, Haven, came second in the World's Best Story contest 2015. She currently resides in Saint John, New Brunswick with her partner in crime, and plethora of cats. She can be found at www.katherinebogle.com.
Haven is a Chonicle of Warshard book as well as another one called Fyre which is a collection of short stories in the same environment.


Here's the story description on the amazon page.

Daughter of Chief Ruin, Breen is one of the most fearsome warriors in the Southern Delica Tribe, but nothing can stop the Emperor from reaping the Savage Lands for soldiers.

When her village is attacked, Breen is taken from her home and her family to the Seaburn Academy, where southern savages are broken and chained into a life of service to the Empire. Through the beatings and torture, Drakkone, one of the few Seaburn-born soldiers, brings solace to her days and gives her hope for the future.

Once freed of the Academy dungeons, Breen is sentenced to daily training between her plots for escape. But one night of unexpected passion turns into a problem bigger than either of them could have imagined.

Breen and Drakkone must risk capture and flee the city or death might be a blessing compared to eternal imprisonment.

The blurb has left me a little confused. It sounds to me like Drakkone is a Seaburn solder who beats and tortures Breen and by doing so, brings her solace and gives her hope. Then free of the Academy, though she is sentenced to daily training, she has an affair with someone, who we assume is Krakkone. This leaves me wondering, was he also a prisoner and in a position to become romantic with Breen, or was he still in a position of authority over her.


The Amazon preview has the first two full chapters and part of the third. I am going to read the first chapter which equaled 5% of the book. Here is Chapter 1:

 


(After the Chapter)

I thought the first chapter was well written. It's fast paced, gives us a feel for Breen's talents and the people of the Southern Delica Tribe, and sets us up with a conflict to carry us into the second chapter. The description copy tells us there is a lot of action to look forward to and at this point I am will to read on to see how she will become imprisoned and what she will do to try to escape.
The blurb mentions torture. I'm not big on torture, especially if it gets graphic or just too long winded. In the 1990's there was a series of books by Terry Goodkind that started with "Wizards first rule". I read that and several that came after it and it seemed that in each of these massive epic fantasies, the protagonist couldn't help but get caught and tortured for a couple hundred pages. It went on and on in intricate detail. If this book gets hung up on that kind of plot, I would have to give it up.
That aside, the only thing I found that took me out of the story was some ambiguity about who was talking. At times pronouns were used and it wouldn't be until the following paragraph that I would know who it was who had spoken.
So, overall, this is a good book and you probably should give it, or one of the author's other books a try.
Thanks for listening and I'll see you next week.

Apr 13, 2017

kakiolsen@yahoo.com
@kakiolsenbooks
www.kakiolsenbooks.com

Kaki Olsen is always on the brink of another adventure. If she couldn’t be a writer, she’d be a full-time musician or travel guide and she would take her lunch breaks at Fenway Park. Until that happens, she speaks both Spanish and English at her every-day office job, but she has vacationed enthusiastically in such places as Istanbul and Ireland. She has lived in five states, but will always refer to Boston as home.
She regularly contributes academic papers on zombies or wizards to Life, the Universe and Everything, a sci-fi/fantasy symposium originated at her alma mater, Brigham Young University. Her published works have appeared in such magazines as Voices and AuthorsPublish. Her debut novel, Swan and Shadow, was published by Sweetwater Books in 2016.
She is a doting aunt and librarian of two bulging bookshelves. This site allows her to share her literary obsessions.
Contact:
http://www.kakiolsenbooks.com/


http://www.kakirecommends.com/


https://www.facebook.com/kakiolsenbooks/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
@kakiolsenbooks
E-mail: Kaki@kakiolsenbooks.com


Aislin’s curse is the standard fare: swan by day, college student by night, true love as the only cure. But does true love even exist outside of fairy tales? After having to cover for Aislin during her swan hours, Aislin’s twin, Maeve, is willing to resort to anything from matchmaking to magic to see her sister live happily (and human) ever after. Will either of them get their wish?

Apr 6, 2017


The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare


Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still. Discover the riveting first book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices Trilogy, prequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them....

Editorial Reviews

Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

I tried to access the sample of this book on the Amazon site, but it wouldn't load on my computer. I don't know if others would find it there if they tried, so I gave up and bought the book on Audible, intending to write an entire review. I got the audio book because the ebook was $10.99 and I could get it on audible, with our monthly account for one $13 token. Since I have much more time to listen than I do to sit down and read a book, I knew I was more likely to finish it this way. I might point out that the paperback book is listed for less than $8 which doesn't make sense to me, unless you are trying to encourage people to buy physical books.

So here is the first chapter, which is actually a prolog. I know. Don't get me started. I'll talk about that later.

(Read the prolog)

The prolog doesn't prepare us for the story or answer any questions for us. In fact it leaves us with a number of questions that we will later cause us to exclaim, or sigh, and say, Oh, that who that is, That's what Will meant, or So, this was an important point.

In the prolog we don't meet Tessa. The first chapter introduces us to her and introduces her to the Dark Sisters. I won't give anything away that the books own blurb didn't when I say that living with the dark sisters was a negative experience. Tessa displays her intelligence and her drive when she escapes from these two evil women and falls in with the Shadowhunters.

As I was working on this review my editor-alter-ego tried to take over and looked for as many things wrong as I could find. I don't care who you are, things can be found that are wrong with any book--so much of right and wrong in literature is based on personal likes and dislikes. So, before any of my potentially negative comments can be taken wrong, I want to go over the things that I really liked about this book.

Cassandra Claire is an excellent story teller. She well deserves the many New York Times best sellers she has earned. I was immediately in the story with Tessa on the docks in England feeling out of place and anxious. I listened to an audio version, which has its benefits and its drawbacks. On the plus side, the narrator was talented and helped to bring the story to life. For the most part, she held my attention. There were occasions where I was so into the story that I wonder if I missed some salient points, which I will come to later. When I'm listening, I can't always rewind and see if I heard correctly or if I missed something, not like you can flip back to a paragraph and reread, when you have a book in your hands.

I liked the characters, though in the beginning I was a bit confused about who was who as the many characters of the Shadowhunters seemed to all come at once. I'm still not sure who all of them were. The main characters were pretty clearly rounded out, even if they didn't act they way I would have wanted them to. I never really got to like Will. I'm not sure if we were supposed to feel sorry for him or admire his independent aloofness. By the end of the book I had him rating more as a jerk than as a hero.

The plot was solid with numerous satisfying twists which I didn't see coming. I did see one of them which allowed Tessa to make a mistake. Of course, the mistake propelled the conflict forward and with it, a major action scene. Sometimes it seems like our otherwise intelligent and competent characters have to make dumb choices for the sake of the plot.

We are warned in the synopsis that this is the first book of a trilogy. As such, many questions are left unanswered. Tessa has a full character arc in coming to grips with who she is and what her magical abilities might be, but much of the balance of the story is still up in the air.

One aspect of both of the blurbs that I read states, "Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still." It makes it appear that this is the theme of the book. If it is, I am left unconvinced. I think the story makes the point that trust in, or dedication to, someone you love can be dangerous, but love is not what causes the danger.

I thought Tessa was a little passive. She starts out showing some real gumption as she defies the Dark Sisters and fights for her freedom. Leaving that prison she's reluctant to join in with the Shadow Hunters for fear that they are going to use her like the sisters tried to, and then she is suddenly doing exactly what the Hunters ask her to do without any of her former resistance. She pretty much goes with the flow until the end of the story when she finally pulls up her socks and takes charge. I could accept more of her passivity if she had some internal dialog or conflict explaining why she was going along with the hunters.

If you find vampires alluring, you may be disappointed as those who appeared in the Clockwork Angel seemed weak and unusually fragile.

 

My other major concern with the plot was what the clockwork angel had to do with anything. It was on a necklace that Tessa wore. I think she got it from her parents and had some emotional attachment. At times the small device came to life and fluttered its wings. How it did that, or what brought on the action was never clear to me. I would think that the name sake of the entire book would have received some resolution.

I don't know if I'll go on to listen to the rest of the books in the series and trilogy, but I recommend this book to any lover of YA Steampunk as this book brings that mythological period of time to life with all its clockwork attackers, foggy London streets, and sword slashing, magic casting, battles.

 

 

Mar 30, 2017

nicoleschubertwrites@gmail.com

Nicole Schubert is a first-time novelist and award-winning screenwriter with a soft spot for comedy and romance. She also dabbles in other behind-the-scenes activities, like producing the monthly Improv Diary Show at Santa Monica’s Westside Comedy Theater. She’s produced a music awards TV show and European-wide photo exhibition out of Brussels and enjoyed another side of storytelling working in the editing rooms of numerous Hollywood feature films. Nicole lives with her family—including The Kid and pirate kitty Biddy—in Los Angeles, by way of Brussels and New Orleans, where she was born during a hurricane.

The second Francie met Chet, her poetic memory danced.
This beloved debut novel from Nicole Schubert brings you an honest and painfully relatable coming of age story about first love, loss, music, sports, alcoholism, family and friendship that will have you cheering, crying and singing with the quirky, pensive Francie Mills. Compassionate, heartbreaking and hopeful, this novel for teen readers is a favorite of adults of all ages as well! If you like Sherman Alexie, John Green, JD Salinger or books like The Perks of Being a Wallflower or movies like Loves of a Blonde or anything John Hughes, this might just be your cup of tea.

Meet Francie Mills. She’s 16. Lives in the boring burbs of L.A. Is super determined and hopeful. And wants one thing: to be an amazing tennis player. Because if something exponentially, brilliantly wonderful like that happened, like winning the U.S. Open or even getting to nationals, everything would be okay. Her life. Her family. Her. She would matter. Be part of something important. And wouldn’t have to feel so unbearably sad and alone every time her dad gets drunk, again.

But the likelihood of amazingness starts to seem impossible when Francie injures her knee…that is, until she meets Chet Jones, lead singer of the band Blues Harp Jones, in Austin, on location for her dad’s movie job. Francie instantly falls for Chet, in his weird blazer and “God Save the Queen” t-shirt, sexy, genuine, funny. And she’s sure something wonderful is finally happening, especially when Chet miraculously falls for her too. But the closer Francie gets to Chet back in L.A. and the more her dad’s drinking tears her apart, the more she realizes the best kind of something wonderful isn’t at all what she expected.

Brussels
Screen plays. How is writing them different than writing a novel?
producing the monthly Improv Diary Show
When did you decide to write a book?
Tell me about your book
The second Francie met Chet, her poetic memory danced.
Were any of the social issues address in your book what motivated you to write it?
Why Blues Harp Green?
Feb 4, 2017
4.6 stars 6 reviews
How's it doing?
How is your balancing act? Are you planning on writing another? Also in this genre?
What is the best way for people to get a hold of you?

Mar 23, 2017

https://https://www.amazon.com/Kingdom-Oceana-Mitchell-Charles-ebook/dp/B0195NT80A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490235234&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Kingdom+of+Oceanawww.amazon.com/Kingdom-Oceana-Mitchell-Charles-ebook/dp/B0195NT80A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490235234&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Kingdom+of+Oceana

 

 

 

Today's first chapter review is of the Young Adult Fantasy, "The Kingdom of Oceana". I received a request from a publicist, or maybe it was an offer, to review a copy of this book. I replied that I normally read the first chapter and then comment on it on my podcast, when I'm doing a review. What I also told her was that I would prefer to interview the author and allow him to pitch the story and talk about his inspiration, etc. I don't know if she pitched the idea to the author, but she said she would be happy to send me a copy of the book to do the review.
So, Mitchell Charles, if you happen to listen to this podcast, I'd still love to have you on to talk about your book in greater depth than I'm probably going to give it here.
Here is the pitch from the publicist. This is all I knew of the story before I read the first chapter:

The Kingdom of Oceana is a young-adult fantasy novel, by Mitchell Charles, that takes readers on a fun and exciting adventure filled with non-stop action, from big wave surfing, to fire walking and shark taming. Readers have compared it to Disney’s new movie Moana.

I think comparing a book to another is always risky. Here, the publicist compares this novel to the new Disney movie, "Moana". I recently spent a week with my grand kids and we watched Moana about six times. So I know what that movie is all about. Sitting down to read this first chapter, Moana is what I had in mind.

 

(Read the first chapter)

Here are my thoughts based on this first chapter and the publicist pitch.
I don't see any Moana here. No upbeat, cheerful characters. I see an older brother who is condescening toward his younger brother, referring to him as a parasitic sucker fish. We learn the older's name is Nahoa and he refers to the younger as Omo and Younger Brother. This first chapter seems to be focused more on Nahoa, than who we will find out later is the main character of the book. Nahoa's a bit of a cheat and bully when he jumps off the younger brother's back and then turns on him and tries to kill him. Again, no Moana here.
Standing on this first chapter alone, comparing to the publicist's pitch. I don't know if I would continue on.
Let's read the blurb. I found this further down in the initial email I received from the publicist, and it is also the blurb for the book on the Amazon page.

 

SURFER. SHARK TAMER. FIRE WALKER. EXPLORER. TEENAGER. HERO.
Set 500 years ago on the island now called Hawaii, there was a kingdom filled with adventure, beauty, and magic. When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise.

As warring factions collide for control of Oceana, it sparks an age-old conflict between rival sorcerers that threatens to erupt--just like Mauna Kea, the towering volcano. With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki's spell. Can peace be restored to the kingdom? Can Prince Ailani claim his rightful place as the future king of Oceana? Two brothers, but only one can rule.

This paints a whole new picture on the story.
We learn that the younger brother's name is Ailani.
We have ancestral spirit animals to look forward to. I'm thinking like the dragon from the Disney story Mulan. Or maybe Pumba and Timon. Again, the image of a Disney classic was put into my mind and I may be rewarded or disappointed. And a shape shifting sidekick, that sounds like fun. And what could be better than a beautiful princess. I would expect someone snarky as well as beautiful.
Is any of this in the first chapter, though? Not much.
Having this added information, I would probably read another two or three chapters to see if story starts to match any of my expectations.
"The Kingdom of Oceana" was first published in December of 2015, so it was out before "Moana".
It has forty reviews with a 4.6 average.
There are three chapters available for preview on the Amazon page. Try them out and see if it compares to Moana.
Again, If you'd like to help out the podcast, it would be great if you could leave a review. Stop by the patreon page, or if you have some ideas of who you'd like to hear on the podcast, leave me a note on the Facebook page, or email me at yabookspodcast@gmail.com

Mar 16, 2017

 

Find Under the Never Sky at Amazon.com

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=under+the+never+sky

First book in the Under the Never Sky trilogy by Veronica Rossi, which is complete and available.
This first book was published in January of 2012 by Harper Collins.
As of this recording it is ranking 21, 22, and 74 on three of the Amazon Young Adult indices. It has a 4.5 Star average with 1013 reviews.
The Amazon preview includes the first two chapters and I will share the first chapter on this episode.

Here is the blurb from the Amazon page.

Fighting to survive in a ravaged world, a Dweller and a Savage form an unlikely alliance in New York Times bestselling author Veronica Rossi's "unforgettable dystopian masterpiece" (Examiner.com).

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—known as The Death Shop—are slim. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild—a savage—and her only hope of staying alive. A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile—everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption.

In alternating chapters told in Aria's and Perry's voices, Under the Never Sky subtly and powerfully captures the evolving relationship between these characters and sweeps readers away to a harsh but often beautiful world. Continuing with Through the Ever Night and concluding with Into the Still Blue, the Under the Never Sky trilogy has already been embraced by readers in twenty-six countries and been optioned for film by Warner Bros.

Goodreads, which has the book at 4.1 stars, but on nearly 92K ratings has the following blurb:
WORLDS KEPT THEM APART.

DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER.

Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.


Here is the first chapter. It's from Aria's point of veiw:
(Read Chapter)

Here are my thoughts on this first chapter. I want to read on for a couple of reasons.
Number one. The writing and characterization are absorbing and engaging. We gain sympathy for Aria right away. Her conflict and motivation are understandable and sympathetic. She wants to find out if her mother is still alive and well. She feels the only way to get that answer is from Soren.
The author has some writing idiosyncrasies that I can overlook in the first chapter, such as, Aria does a lot of staring. She stares on three occasions. If she stares as much in the second chapter, I might get more annoyed than intrigued.
Soren is self centered and manipulative and he has plans for the adventure, and for Aria, that he hasn't shared. He's a good bad guy, but I think his days are numbered. I want to find out.
At the end of this chapter we see the potential for catastrophy. They have just built a bon fire in the middle of a tinder box.
The second reason I want to read on is that we are told in the preview that Aria is exiled. I hope that Aria is a stronger character than this first chapter has shown. Soren threatened her that if she left, he would tell his father that this adventure was her idea. There are some problems with this threat.
- There are only 6000 residents in Reverie. You can't have that few people and not know who the resident trouble makers are, or aren't. It is obvious that Aria couldn't have come up with the codes to shut off their eyes or get them through the air lock. The three boys are well known for this ability.
Even if it was was Aria's idea, Soren stole the codes to break in. He didn't have to do what she suggested. He was culpable on his own. He and his friends go wild, taking off their clothes and covering themselves with mud, and then Soren brings out the battery and wire, proving that he had premeditated the idea of creating fire.
If Aria suffers this much injustice from the small group, I may unable to suspend disbelief long enough to finish the rest of the book. It's a plot weakness to large for me to forgive.
One other weakness with the plot is the description of Ag 6. Really. There is so much dust on the floor that Soren creates a trail through it, yet the food there appears to be only on the edge of being rotten. To me, that much dust would leave the fruit dried, the grapefruits shrivled husks. The food may have been able to be grown without leaves, soil, and much water, but the dark warehouse that the ag dome appears to be is too much of a stretch for my imagination.
I give this first chapter four stars and anyone who is interested enough to start the book should be more than rewarded to read on.

Sep 8, 2016

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
She's @kathglasgow on twitter. I saw that she had "Liked" a tweet about the "Killer in Me" review. When I checked her handle I saw she was launching her book. The title and book cover grabbed me.
Published on August 30th of 2016 by Delacort Press
She currently has 40 reviews with a 4.8 star average.
She's in the top 20K of books sold on the Kindle store and at #4, 10, and 60 on three of the Teen>Literature and Fiction lists.


https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Pieces-Kathleen-Glasgow-ebook/dp/B01A4B1S9Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1473134689&sr=1-1&keywords=girl+in+pieces


Here is the Amazon preview:
For fans of Girl, Interrupted, Thirteen Reasons Why, and All the Bright Places comes a novel Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything, calls "a haunting, beautiful, and necessary book that will stay with you long after you've read the last page."

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people do in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.
Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.
A deeply moving portrait of a girl in a world that owes her nothing, and has taken so much, and the journey she undergoes to put herself back together. Kathleen Glasgow's debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

"A haunting, beautiful, and necessary book that will stay with you long after you've read the last page." —Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything


The book is divided into three parts. The chapters are really short. Some only a half a page. The longest I will read is about three pages. In the first part there are 46 of these chapters. The Amazon preview is the first 15 chapters. I will read 13 of those.

Sep 1, 2016

"The Killer in Me" written by Margot Harrison was published on July 12, 2016 by Disney Hyperion.

https://www.amazon.com/Killer-Me-Margot-Harrison-ebook/dp/B01FZLMTT8/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=SGHKDS7271H00NN4RKZ0

I bought this one a while ago. I think it was the same time that I bought "Learning to swear in America". I believe both of them were on the Goodreads top YA books for July.


Here's the synopsis:
Hasn't he lived long enough? Why not? I could take him like a thief in the night. This is how the Thief thinks. He serves death, the vacuum, the unknown. He's always waiting. Always there. Seventeen-year-old Nina Barrows knows all about the Thief. She's intimately familiar with his hunting methods: how he stalks and kills at random, how he disposes of his victims' bodies in an abandoned mine in the deepest, most desolate part of a desert. Now, for the first time, Nina has the chance to do something about the serial killer that no one else knows exists. With the help of her former best friend, Warren, she tracks the Thief two thousand miles, to his home turf—the deserts of New Mexico. But the man she meets there seems nothing like the brutal sociopath with whom she's had a disturbing connection her whole life. To anyone else, Dylan Shadwell is exactly what he appears to be: a young veteran committed to his girlfriend and her young daughter. As Nina spends more time with him, she begins to doubt the truth she once held as certain: Dylan Shadwell is the Thief. She even starts to wonder . . . what if there is no Thief? From debut author Margot Harrison comes a brilliantly twisted psychological thriller that asks which is more terrifying: the possibility that your nightmares are real . . . or the possibility that they begin and end with you?

The Kindle preview includes the first four chapters. I'm going to read you the first two, which ends up being about 19 pages.


I try to read the first couple chapters and put down my thoughts before reading the synopsis, so I can get an honest feeling for whether I would read on based on those pages. Here's what I got before I read the blurb on the Amazon page.
Nina is a girl who dreams a serial killer's life.
Plenty of opportunity for conflict and character developement.
She's on a life and death mission to save a couple who lives a hundred plus miles away. She's smart enough to realize no one will believe her--the woman she called certainly didn't.
The author's writing is crisp and clear, her characterization is solid, and her use of dialog is effective.
I want to read on initially to see how she does with firing the .38 and secondly to see if she is able to get to upstate New Yord to help the older couple. I believe that these two conflicts are just an introduction to the story and my hopes are that this will ramp up into a solid thriller.

I had an interview with an author scheduled tonight, but she had to cancel for her son's back to school night. Unless I can reconnect with her in the next couple days, it will be another first chapter review next week.
thanks for listening. We'll see you next week.

Aug 25, 2016

Cinderella Dreams of Fire by Casey Lane
Published on August 15th by the author.
44 Reviews with a 4.7 star average

https://www.amazon.com/Cinderella-Dreams-Fairy-Tales-Forever-ebook/dp/B01K227NN2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1472101302&sr=1-1&keywords=cinderella+dreams+of+fire

 

What if Cinderella led a double life?
Cinderella has a secret. In the 10 years since her mother's death, she's only pretended to be too weak to challenge her cold-blooded stepmother. By day, she cleans the floors and washes the laundry. By night, she takes to the streets as a fearless thief with no equal. Out on a routine mission, Cinderella never expected that she'd run into him…

Braedon is hardly a model prince. He spends most of his time in the tavern, much to the dismay of his royal mother. When an unexplainable blight strikes the queen's soldiers down, Braedon's attempt to help brings him face-to-face with the beautiful, sardonic thief. He wants nothing more than to partner up with her, even if it could get him killed…

The thief would much rather work alone, but the prince’s persistence starts to wear down her defenses. When the evil force decimating the army turns its attention to the throne, Cinderella and Braedon have one chance to save the kingdom, their loved ones, and themselves.

Cinderella Dreams of Fire is the first book in the Fairy Tales Forever series, a set of fantasy novels that inject the classic retellings you know with a burst of attitude. If you like strong female characters, action-packed fantasy, and simmering chemistry, then you’ll love Casey Lane’s romantic, fast-paced adaptation.

There are five chapters in the Amazon preview. I'm going to read you the first two chapters, about 15 pages.

(Read Chapters)

I wanted to review this one right away because I follow the author on the Sell More Book Show podcast and have read the first book of the "Ted Saves the World" series. He's writing under this new pen name and using the "Write to Market" method to publish books in a niche that is currently under represented but performing well. This method also stresses writing quickly to meet the market demand for the genre. He has promoted the book heavily and it is performing well in the Amazon charts. He's gotten several #1 best seller rankings and is hoping to stay in the top 2500 for all books on Amazon for the next month.
I have to admit, I was a little let down after reading these first two chapters. I had gotten used to the sharply detailed, quality writing of the last few books I've reviewed. This is not "My Lady Jane", "The Paper Magician", or "Learning to Swear in America". It reads like it was written very quickly with a focus on telling the story and not showing us the depth of character detail or the fantasy environment.
I read the first two chapters originally, before I read the synopsis, so it left me a little confused. In fact, it appears to me that the author spent more time fine tuning the synopsis than he did writing the story.
Chapter 1. We view the story through one girl's eyes. Kayla? With a visit to a country tavern. We get the information that they were once princesses but are currently starving. The mother asks about a local Duke. When the tavern keeper's daughter comes in the older sister draws a knife. Besides cruelly cutting the girl, her mother makes an obscure comment that she wants something more than what the keeper can offer. We learn in the second chapter that it was the duke's hand in marriage. How she got that from threatening the tavern keeper isn't explained. Did the tavern keeper have some special connection to the Duke? It's kind of hard for me to believe.
Chapter 2 we meet Cinderella. I'll admit, I expected her to have a slightly different name. I guess that was my bad. I mean the name of the book is "Cinderella Dreams of Fire", but also expected a creatively different approach to the use of the name. We find her cleaning up a wine stain, not cinders, and learn a little of how she came to be in this mess.
It appears that Casy knows the mechanics of story telling and punts a zinger at the end of each chapter to encourage the reader to continue to the next page. Neither zinger worked for me and left me somewhat annoyed. Chapter 1's was a little darker and violent than I had expected, though it showed me what a cruel person the mother and older sister were. And then in the next chapter the introduction that Cinderella works for the Godmother came across as silly and contradictory to the first chapter.
On his recap of his writing process in the bonus episode of the "Sell More Book Show" the author talks about knowing the tropes of the genre. I don't know if silliness is one of the expected tropes, like watching a Shrek movie, or not. If it is, the first chapter was entirely out of place. If the author didn't mean for it to come across as silly, then I completely misread this second chapter ending.
In conclusion, if Fairy Tale retellings is a genre that you like, you might like this one. I've mentioned before that one of my all time favorite books is "Beauty" by Patricia McKillop. It was neither dark not silly, just beautifully written.
I give this a three star recommendation, "Try it. You might like it." I will have to take a pass on this one and spend my time reading something else. Knowing the other things this author has written I expected a higher quality of writing and story telling. It seems like he has put his quality efforts into marketing this one.

Aug 4, 2016

Learning to Swear in America
By Katie Kennedy
Published on July 5, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
It has 29 reviews with a 4.8 star average.
Here's the Amazon synopsis:

An asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. A big, bad one. Maybe not kill-all-the-dinosaurs bad, but at least kill-everyone-in-California-and-wipe-out-Japan-with-a-tsunami bad. Yuri, a physicist prodigy from Russia, has been recruited to aid NASA as they calculate a plan to avoid disaster.

The good news is Yuri knows how to stop the asteroid--his research in antimatter will probably win him a Nobel prize if there's ever another Nobel prize awarded. But the trouble is, even though NASA asked for his help, no one there will listen to him. He's seventeen, and they've been studying physics longer than he's been alive.

Then he meets (pretty, wild, unpredictable) Dovie, who lives like a normal teenager, oblivious to the impending doom. Being with her, on the adventures she plans when he's not at NASA, Yuri catches a glimpse of what it means to save the world and live a life worth saving.

Prepare to laugh, cry, cringe, and have your mind burst open with the questions of the universe.

The Amazon Preview has the first two chapters. Here's chapter #1. "No need to panic".

https://www.amazon.com/Learning-Swear-America-Katie-Kennedy-ebook/dp/B01FJ966S6/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1470283588&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=learning+to+swear+in+america+by+katie+kennedy


This is a great story told in third person from Yuri's point of view. He's a believable teenage boy. He worries about his sleeves getting too short and how to buy a shirt. He doesn't want to look out of place and is self conscious about his suitcase, and when he's thrown into a room with another younger boy, he plays together with him.
The conflicts are clear and understandable. Humanity is threatened by a devastating asteroid. This gives us all a reason to get behind our young hero and hope for his success. However, there are underlying conflicts which threaten Yuri's potential for success. Two of the most ubiquitous of large workplace conflicts...professional jealousy and distrust. Yuri is distrusted for both his age and his nationality.
Based on the first chapter, and I almost wasn't able to stop myself from jumping directly into the second, this looks to be a wonderfully, exciting book. And of the books I've read most recently, this is the one with the best movie potential (in my humble opinion).
Five stars. Try this one out.

Jul 28, 2016

Here's another I found on the Ya Ya Young Adult Books Facebook page.
"Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" by Martina McAtee


https://www.amazon.com/Children-Shouldnt-Play-Dead-Things-ebook/dp/B012KW638S/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1469672321&sr=1-1&keywords=children+shouldn%27t+play+with+dead+things#navbar


The first thing about it that caught my attention was that it was free for a few days. I looked on Amazon tonight as I am recording this and it is still free. So if you hear this when it goes live and it sounds good to you, you may still be able to get it free. If you wait too long you're going to have to pay for it.
The second thing to catch my eye was the cover. Let me see if I can describe it. There is a silhouette of a grave yard with tomb stones and leafless trees. Above it are swirling storm clouds. Except the scene is upside down. Hanging from the ground, at the top of the page, is a swing, and sitting on the swing, filling most of the page is a girl in a white sleeveless, knee length, cotton dress. She is bare foot and her straight brown covers her face, neck and upper chest.
So, the price was right, I liked the title and the book cover, so I bought it without reading the Amazon description.
It looks like it was published by the author in August of 2015. The second book in the series just published on the 15th of this month, (July of 2016), maybe that's why the first book is free right now.... The second book is called "Dark Dreams and Dead Things".
The first book has 64 customer reviews with a 4.9 star average.
Here is the Amazon description:

17 year old Ember Denning has made an art of isolating herself. She prefers the dead. She spends her days skipping school in old cemeteries and her nights hiding from her alcoholic father at the funeral home where she works. When her own father dies, Ember learns her whole life is a lie. Standing in the cemetery that’s been her sanctuary, she’s threatened by the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and rescued by two people who claim to be her family. They say she’s special, that she has a supernatural gift like them…they just don’t know exactly what it is.

They take her to a small Florida town, where Ember’s life takes a turn for the weird. She’s living with her reaper cousins, an orphaned werewolf pack, a faery and a human genius. Ember’s powers are growing stronger, morphing into something bigger than anything anybody anticipated. Ember has questions but nobody has answers. Nobody knows what she is. They only know her mysterious magical gift is trying to kill them and that beautiful dangerous boy from the cemetery may be the only thing standing between her and death.

As Ember’s talents are revealed so are the secrets her father hid and those in power who would seek to destroy her. What’s worse, saving Ember has put her cousins in danger and turned her friend’s lives upside down. Ember must learn to embrace her magic or risk losing the family she’s pieced together.

A lot happens in this description. Let's see where the first chapter takes us.

The only bones I have to pick with this first chapter is:
1) The author implies that people often stare at Ember, or shy away from her, possibly from the way she looks. Yet we don't get a good picture of her as to why that would happen. Her hair is "Maybe too orange". Is that her natural color or did she die it tangerine, or fluorescent orange. I've met some people with naturally orange hair and while it was noticeable, it didn't make me feel the person was in some way unnatural.
Her eye color is unusual, but the events are taking place in New Orleans where the unexpected and alarming are qualities that can be considered positive. She even sees people dressed up for the day of the dead on her way to the funeral. As far as the author has shown us, these characters are no more or less alarming in appearance than our main character.
2) My second concern may actually be with the synopsis from the Amazon page. We are told so much that happens in the story and in the first chapter so little of it happens. Knowing what is going to happen doesn't encourage me to read further to find out HOW it happens. I know what will be and I want to get past it, find out what the new conflicts will be, and grow with the character. The Amazon synopsis is almost like a movie preview that shows all the great parts. We've all seen the preview that when it's done we say, well, I don't need to watch that one now.
In conclusion, if I forget the Amazon synopsis, I'm intrigued by the change/seizure Ember has at the funeral. Something is happening to her that I'm hoping will develop her character and give me a reason to root for, and care about, her. We've met a mysterious character on the roof of the mausoleum. Is this the too-beautiful-boy who we are told not to trust in the synopsis? I would rather have developed my own distrust of this character through his behavior and interactions with Ember, but at this point, I willing to read further to see how they relate to each other.
I give this book a strong four stars to read three or four more chapters and see if I start to learn more about the character than I've been told in advance. As I said in the beginning, there are a whopping 9 chapters in the Amazon preview, so you have the opportunity to read a lot of the story before deciding if you want to buy it. But then, while it remains free, it's well worth the cost.

Jul 21, 2016

Episode 49 - First Chapter review of Varient

https://www.amazon.com/Variant-Robison-Wells-ebook/dp/B004XVN1E4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1469072863&sr=1-1&keywords=variant#navbarVariant

Varient is written by Robison Wells and published by Harper Teen
in October of 2011
283 reviews with a 4.2 star average

Here's the Amazon book description
Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.

He was wrong.

Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.

Where breaking the rules equals death.

But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.

You can get the first two chapters on the Amazon preview.
Here is chapter 1.

 

If you heard my interview with Robison, you know I loved this story. It kicks of very fast at the end of the first chapter and doesn't slow down except for a few short places for the reader to catch their breath. I give this story a hearty five stars to continue reading past the first chapter.
If you've listened to the preceding two book reviews, I want to tell you that I finished "My Lady Jane" and thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend the story with five stars. The characters are varied and endearing. I wanted to take the lot of them home with me for a big family dinner. To me it slowed down just a bit in the last ten minutes of the audio. but then, under it all, the story is a romance and it needed some romantic touches to tie the story up completely. I got used to the narrator after about an hour of the audio, and she only irritated me a few times after the first couple chapters.

Jul 14, 2016

Episode #48 The Paper Magician, Book One of the Paper Magician series. by Charlie N. Holmburg
To get this weeks episode I went to the Kindle top 100 Young Adult books. The number 1 book didn't sound Young Adult at all to me, so I skipped that one. the next six were either from the Harry Potter Series or from the Hunger Games, so I ended up with book #8. Eighth place is nothing to sniff at when you consider those in the first seven places.

Brandon Sanderson give this recommendation “Charlie is a vibrant writer with an excellent voice and great world building. I thoroughly enjoyed the Paper Magician.” —Brandon Sanderson, author of Mistborn and The Way of Kings

Paper Magician was published in September of 2014. The second and third books in the series are available and it is at 160 overall in the Kindle store, so you know it is getting daily sales. It has 3373 reviews with a 4.0 average.

https://www.amazon.com/Paper-Magician-Book-ebook/dp/B00HVF7OL0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1468473044&sr=1-1&keywords=the+paper+magician

Here's the Amazon book description.


Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

From the imaginative mind of debut author Charlie N. Holmberg, The Paper Magician is an extraordinary adventure both dark and whimsical that will delight readers of all ages.

Short-Listed for the 2015 ALA Fantasy Reading List

I read the whole first chapter to prepare for the episode and wanted to read the whole thing for you, but it is around 25 pages and almost 10% of the book. The Amazon preview doesn't even give you the whole first chapter, so I'm going to read you about 12 pages


So, this is as far as I'm going to read for you. Using the magic of editing, I have actually listened to the preceding portion of the book before I record this followup and recommendation. I recorded a recommendation after I recorded those pages but there was a problem with the recording and it got all chopped up somehow. I'm glad, because I actually like the story more today, after listening to what I read. I got a better feel for the flow of the story listening to it, more than I did while recording it.
I'll be honest and tell you that I think it's a little slow getting started. There's no major conflict leading from page one. The preview tells us the major conflict of the story, and we've yet to see it happen. I'll give you a minor spoiler...we don't get into the conflict in the first chapter.
Dave Wolverton AKA David Farland, and author and writing teacher tells that one of the major draws of fantasy is the sense of wonder. I think that is what carries this first chapter. I think there is good characterization, the description and prose are beautiful, but what carries us along is discovery and wonder. All the aspects of magic, the paper folder's mansion, the paper flowers, the skeleton, and even Magician Thane create a sense of mystery and wonderful magic.
Last night when I recorded this I gave it a four star recommendation to continue reading, now I'm pushing that up to 4.5. I'm looking forward to hearing this one on audio. In fact, right now I'm listening to the book from last week, "My Lady Jane" on audible.com and while the book is wonderful, the writing terrific, I hate the narrator. She's doing this over the top British theatrical voice that to me is overly dramatic and almost juvenile in it's interpretation. I'm a couple hours into it and will give it another couple hours tomorrow, but if I don't get used to the narrator by then, I'll just drop it and go on to "The Paper Magician".
As usual, thanks for listening, and I'll see you next week.

Jul 7, 2016

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England.

Like that could go wrong.


https://www.amazon.com/My-Lady-Jane-Cynthia-Hand-ebook/dp/B015CYCHNQ/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=814F2NSYX71FDMQ1AXGV#navbar


Published June 7th of 2016 by Harper Teen it has about 58 customer reviews with a 5.4 average. and has a price point of $9.99 for the kindle version.
The cover shows a portrait of a young woman in historical costume, from the shoulders up. I assume this is Lady Jane Grey. the title is in block letters. In cursive there are three quotes written in like a student's graffiti on a book cover with little arrows pointing to the woman's face with the sayings, "sometimes history gets it all wrong", "it isn't easy being queen", and "off with her head".

The amazon preview includes the Prologue, which actually makes reasonable sense in this story, and into the second chapter. I will read a ways into the first chapter. The authors use parenthesis liberally. I won't point them out as I read. That would be tedious. I'll try to change my tone of voice to an explanatory inflection. We'll see if you can tell the difference.
Here's the story...

I found this book on the Goodreads Young Adult news letter among the five most popular YA Books of June. I was drawn to if because of it's comparison to "The Princess Bride". I consider myself a Princess Bride snob, not because I've watched the movie a hundred times, but because I first read the book as a teenager in the seventies. I've read it twice since. If you didn't know there was a book, I would recommend it to anyone who liked the movie. I wouldn't say the book is better than the movie, except that there is so much more of it. I thought the movie did a great service to the original work.
My goal in reading this book was to see if it would hold up to the princess bride. Any time you make a comparison like that, I'm going to judge you harder than I would have if the blurb just said something like, "Light hearted, absurdly non-historical," or words to that effect. As far as I read, I still think "The Princess Bride" is head and shoulders above.
I liked it though, and will probably get the Audible version to be able to finish the book in comfort. Hopefully their English accents are better than mine.
Having only read into the first chapter it's not apparent how the three authors work together, if they confer with each other about the plot, if they write together on each chapter, or if they take on separate characters. It would be interesting to hear from one or more of them how they went about writing it together.
I think the characterization is great and engaging. The writing is beautiful and the voice is clearly one that the young adult audience should, and by the reviews, does love.
I give My Lady Jane a five star reccomendation to continue reading.

 

Jun 30, 2016

Forestium by Christopher D. Morgan
Published March 2016 by himself
12 reviews with 4.3 average
https://www.amazon.com/Forestium-mirror-never-lies-Portallas-ebook/dp/B01CH8BGY6/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_img_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=WHTA5F4M17TE9DESB8EH#navbar

 

Joshua's life is on the line, as he attempts to navigate through the magical world to find the truth about his father. He and his companions will need to use all their cunning to stay alive and avoid the dark forces of the Goat. Will Joshua find the magical orbs and open the Portallas, a gateway to other worlds, before he is killed?

Joshua sets out to learn the truth about his father. Along the way, he finds friends, enemies, adventure & romance. Most of all, he finds himself.

Joshua, a young woodsman, is approaching the age of decision. Despite the tales of his father having died in a skirmish with another tribe, Joshua's dreams are telling him otherwise. The young man yearns for the truth and decides to enlist the help of his village elder to guide him. Armed with little more than the cryptic musing from the ailing elder, Joshua sets off to find the Oracle with his best friend and an imp, who is travelling the land to find others of his kind. It isn't long before they stumble into a beautiful and ingenious young woman who is herself on a journey of discovery.

On the way to the Oracle, Joshua comes by some curious magical artefacts. Can these help him to find his father? An evil and malevolent creature of the underworld known only as the Goat learns that Joshua has possession of some of the magical orbs needed to open the Portallas, a permanent gateway that links worlds together. Enraged, the Goat sends his dark forces to thwart Joshua and to prevent him from fulfilling his destiny.

Travelling through fantastic landscapes, the four travelling companions meet strange people and creatures alike, and must use all their cunning and ingenuity to find the remaining magical orbs. Will Joshua find all the magical artefacts needed to open the Portallas and free his father?

PORTALLAS - Forestium: The mirror never lies is full of twists and turns, as Joshua goes on a veritable roller-coaster ride of challenges that will test his courage and emotional strength.

This Young Adult Fantasy Adventure is the first in the series and will appeal best to young teens. The magical world of Forestium is filled with adventure and the coming of age story will resonate with young adults. Destined to be one of the best selling fantasy adventure series, book 1 has a storyline that moves at a fast pace with lots of twists and turns.

The first chapter is a prolog. I'll read it for you now:


Here's my problem with prologues.
I think that prologues should give you information to help you better understand the upcoming story, whether it's an in depth look at a character, the world the story takes place in, or the intricacies of the magic system. What did we learn from this prolog that we didn't learn from the Amazon book description.
There are humans and some of them are dying of a plague. There are birds with magical feathers which can change color, though we aren't told what that change of color indicated. I'm not sure if it was leading them to the healer. I guess not, since it had stay perfectly white until they found the Metamorph. I t hought it was going to be the payment for services, but the man told Valoria to put it away before someone saw it. Who knows.
There are Imps. In a crowded rickety town, something appears to be killing them.
There are magical balls of fire which cause carnage, or maybe not. Our family come upon a town square that is filled with carnage. However, each powerball that appears chases down an imp and vaporizes it. So, where did the carnage come from? I'm not sure.
Our family flees the town and finds a Trader. He has an orb which creates a vortex through which Melachor sees another land. The trader climbs through just before Melachor's family is consumed by one of the balls of light. Before he is consumed by another ball, he grabs the orb, left by the trader, and everything goes black.
I think thte story is nicely written. There are enough fantasy elements to keep most readers interested who are into that genre. The book cover is beautiful and remeniscent of the genre with a woodsman holding a hand mirror showing the image of a goat headed man.
But the prolog frustrates me. I would just as soon skip it for the number of questions it raises and doesn't come close to answering. It doesn't appear to relate to the book description at all, and if these don't begin to be answered in the first few chapters, I would probably put it down to read something else.
Two more notes are:
One.
"Barely able to stand" is repeated in the third paragraph. I don't know if this is a literary technique or a mistake. The literary technique is to repeat a word or phrase three times on the first page to create a mood. This phrase occurs only twice and in the same sentence. This second reference takes me out of the story to wonder why this mistake was overlooked by the editors. With a third instance of the phrase would resolve that feeling of confusion, as it was used to nail down a feeling or theme. In this case it doesn't, so, to me, it seems like a mistake.
Such an error on the first page sets me up to look for more editorial errors, rather than to enjoy the story. In the prolog the author mostly regained my interest.
Second, and finally, the book description ends with:
Destined to be one of the best selling fantasy adventure series, book 1 has a storyline that moves at a fast pace with lots of twists and turns.
Best selling fantasy adventures brings to my mind, Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time, The Stormlight Trilogy, The Belgariad, The Sword of Shannarah, Game of Thrones. Is this novel destined to join these fantasy adventure giants? I don't think so.
I would say it looks like it will be good, but I doubt it will overtake any of those.

Jun 23, 2016

In this episode I interview Chris Mannino. We talk about teaching theater in high school, a trip to the alleged birth place of King Arthur, his inspiration behind his Scythe Wielders Secret trilogy, and working with Audible and ACX.

The first two books in the trilogy, School of Deaths and Sword of Deaths, are out now, with the third book Daughter of Deaths expected to be released later this year.

The series follows Suzie Sarnio, a thirteen-year-old whose world is turned upside down when she discovers that she is destined to be a Death. She always believed the Grim Reaper was a fairy tale image of a skeleton with a scythe, but now, forced to enter the College of Deaths, she finds herself training to bring souls from the Living World to the Hereafter. As her year progresses, Suzie uncovers a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths. Now she must learn and embrace the reason she was chosen to be the first female Death in a million years.

To learn more or to read an excerpt from the book, go to http://bookpublicityservices.com/school-of-deaths-the-scythe-wielders-secret-book-1/

Christopher Mannino's life is best described as an unending creative outlet. He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, Maryland. In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance/production drama groups. He spends his summers writing and singing. Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University. His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life. Growing up with adventure and fantasy stories filled with magic and imagination fueled him to create stories of his own.

School of Deaths began when Mannino spent a semester abroad at Oxford. On one side-trip, he became stranded on the Cornish coast, by Tintagel, the legendary birthplace of King Arthur. Following a sleepless night above a noisy pub he climbed to a rocky peninsula to watch the dawn. Feeling completely alone, and attacked by winds from every direction as he clung to a cliff, Mannino imagined a character isolated in a strange world, attacked and bullied.

The Scythe Wielder's Secret is a series of Young Adult fantasy novels, which address issues of bullying, sexism, and social justice, all in a rich epic fantasy adventure world. As a teacher, Mannino hopes to inspire teenagers and other readers to dream and confront issues through their own determination.

Learn more about Mannino and his books at www.ChristopherMannino.com

Jun 16, 2016

YA YA (Young Adult Books) Public Facebook Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/411486002231062/?multi_permalinks=1052494814796841&notif_t=group_highlights&notif_id=1465014570757670
Amazon page
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01C4VVPII/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

Amazon Book Description

At eighteen years old, Cassidy has suffered more loss than most…

At the end of her senior year, her boyfriend, Jace Peters, was killed in a car accident, and her grandmother died only weeks later of a heart attack. Emotionally lost, Cassidy desperately searches for an heirloom her boyfriend was wearing in the crash—her mother’s gold ring. But during her search, Cassidy discovers more than her ring.

She finds a gate to the Demon Realm….

A battle is brewing, and Killian—head of the Demon hunters—preps his Clan for the approaching conflict. They’ve been working to secure the gate between his realm and the mortal world. But it’s been nearly impossible since Rya—a voracious demon on a quest to expand her power—devoured the soul of his Clan’s necromancer. Now Rya is possessed with the necromancer’s powers and she may break through the gate at any moment.

Apparently Rya isn’t the only one Killian has to worry about…

When Cassidy accidentally crosses into the Demon Realm, Killian can’t understand how a human girl survived the transition. Now he has to find a way to return her to her own world, or risk her being caught in the crossfire, which is a complication he definitely doesn’t need.

Once back in the Human Realm, Cassidy readies herself for battle. She signs up for Krav Maga classes, where she meets Tyler Romaitis—a handsome, tenacious, humble guy. He seems almost perfect, but nothing is ever that easy.

And as the balance between good and evil shifts, Cassidy finds herself—and her ring—at the heart of the conflict for the survival of mankind.

Between the Bleeding Willows (The Demon Hunters Series Book 1) by D.A Roach was
Published in March of 2016 by Limitless Publishing, LLC
33 Customer Reviews with a 4.8 average. She has four other books listed on Amazon in Kindle and paperback editions.
I saw Between the Bleeding Willows mentioned on the YA YA Young Adult Books Facebook Group (Link in the show notes) and it really caught my eye. A dark haired, dark eyed woman blends in with stom clouds in the sky behind her. Ravens wheel around her in the sky of the background. Below her in the foreground, the title is superimposed over a graphical design which implied knives or sword edges from a weapon.
I liked the cover enough to go to the Amazon Kindle page (Link in the shownotes) and read the description. Here's the description.

I found the description compelling enough to buy the kindle edition and read the first chapter. I'll read that now and then we'll see if I want to read further.


So this is chapter 1
Writing excuses,,,,first rule about plot....flashbacks.
This first chapter is a series of flashbacks
You can break the rules if you do it good enough. Did the author? I didn't hate it, It didn't make me want to stop reading. I don't know, at this point, if we've caught up to present time or not.
It's the same reasone I skip most 'Prologs'. I feel like they are telling us about people who are unimportant to the story, or that we will find the salient points in the following chapters.
The author began this final scene with "That night" and not refering to the previous scene, I have to believe she's still narrating the past.
At the end of this first chapter I still have enough interest and questions to keep me reading. I'll give it another few chapters before I decide if I want to finish it.
The cover was great, the Amazon descpription was compelling, the writing is clear, the character empathetic, and I want to find out how Jace is envolved after his death.
While I don't give this a five star raving review, it's good enough to keep me reading.

I should have an interview to share next week. So, thanks for listening and I'll see you then.

 

Jun 9, 2016

Connie A. Walker’s interest in fantasy developed before she started grade school. Her sister, June, who was five years older, practiced her reading skills by reading to Connie. June introduced her to The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, The Arabian Nights, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and hundreds of fairy tales. Connie fell asleep every night with visions of elves and ogres, sorcerers and enchanted lands, flitting through her mind.

When her sister started junior high school, the reading sessions dwindled to a few times a week. Suddenly Connie had difficulty sleeping. She began having nightmares. She dreaded going to bed.

One night, when Connie was very tired and having difficulty falling asleep, she pretended that June was reading her favorite story to her. She drifted off to sleep and had pleasant dreams. After that, when she went to bed, she reviewed other tales she had heard, often embellishing the action and adding characters.

Within a short while, she was making up stories of her own. That was when she decided to become a writer.

When Connie was seven years old, she won an annual writing contest sponsored by her elementary school. Students in first, second and third grades were eligible to enter. She was the first first-grader ever to win. Her story, “Stop, Look, and Listen,” was about a dog who acted as a crossing guard.

Throughout elementary and high school, Connie made her homework assignments enjoyable by being creative. When doing research papers, she presented the facts within a fictional frame story or a play. Essays were often written as satires, ending with unexpected twists. Connie considered everything she wrote as a prelude to a career as an author.

While getting her Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre at Brigham Young University, she had four original plays produced: a one act comedy and a two act drama (both of which were contest winners), plus two musicals. Later, she had two other one act comedies produced. After graduation, she worked as a technical writer, a graphic artist, and a public relations specialist. In the evenings, she wrote short stories, plays, poetry, and outlined ideas for fantasy novels. She filled a filing cabinet with unpublished manuscripts. A single mother of two, Connie often found her writing time shunted aside by such things as chicken pox, science projects, strep throat, baseball games, stomach flu, and school activities—all those things associated with parenting.

In the meantime, she had to make a living.

As her children entered the teenage years, financial demands increased, and Connie felt the need to develop a career that provided a predictable and adequate income. She attended the University of Utah and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and a Master’s degree in social work. She has been employed as a foster care caseworker, a psychotherapist, and a clinical programs manager.

Now retired, she finally has enough uninterrupted time to write professionally. Her children’s book, Timmy and the K’nick K’nocker Ring, is a fantasy about a young boy who is transported to a world where his special talents are considered magic. It took first place in a local writer’s contest, Children’s Literature category, and was the grand prize winner as well.

The Spire of Kylet, a young adult fantasy, is the first book in The Wolkarean Inscription Trilogy. Katrine is a fifteen year old girl who thinks she has her life all planned out. But, after performing an act of heroisn, she is adopted into a tribe of wizards and receives their powers. Suddenly, she is thrust on a path toward a new destiny whether she likes it or not. The second and third books in the trilogy, The Eyes of Landor and Triumph at Serpent’s Head, are now available.

Connie is currently working on a second Wolkarean trilogy.

Her books are available through Amazon.com in paperback and kindle version.

Jun 2, 2016

Episode 42 A first chapter review of "Water so Deep" by Nichole Giles.
I read this book about a year ago when it was first published and was one of the books that gave me the idea that maybe I should start a podcast talking about Young Adult books. I met Nichole a few years ago at a writing conference. She was so friendly and approachable, I thought, wouldn't it be wonderful to get these authors on a podcast and have them talk about their books, their characters and their inspiration behind their writing. We've talked a bit about doing an interview, but we just never seem to connect.
So, I thought I would go ahead and do a first chapter review of the book that got my mind headed in this direction and see if I can get her on an interveiw some time in the future.
Water so Deep was published in February 2015 by Jelly Bean Press.
It has 72 Amazon reviews with a 4.1 average.

Here is chapter 1:

The book cover shows a girl in a white cotton dress, underwater, and swimming to the surface. I think this is a great cover and illustrates the theme of the story. A young woman who is struggling to find the balance between her underwater and on-land self...between what she has grown up and familiar with becoming more and more out of reach to the person she is becoming, who she knows nothing about.
Nichole's use of imagery and tone in her writing makes her story a delight to read. I give her writing and description five stars. The lightning storm, the falling rain, and the transformation from mermaid back to human create a compelling mystery.
We see the foundations for the mer-folk established in this first chapter which follows throughout the book and builds logically and convincingly. I give plausibility five stars.
Setting is wonderful and clear. Of course, if you're going to have mermaids, you need the ocean.
Characters we meet in the first chapter. Emma Harris, our protagonist. Merrick, a mer-man who we learn is her intended below the surface. Tom, who was her love interest, until just now. Others who are introduced through implication are her parents, grandmother, her brother, and the Sea King.
What makes me want to read further...
Of course, I've already read this book and know what you don't know. But the characters in the first chapter are all compelling. Who is Merrick and why does he feel he has a claim to Emma? What is Tom's problem and what makes him think he has the right to judge Emma beat her up? As a man with daughters, the first time I read this book I wanted to grab Tom by the throat and shake him.
What is Emma's origin that she is turning into a mermaid, and her parents have not? She makes mention of her grandmother. Does she, or did she, know something that she didn't share with her grand daughter?
Who is the love interest that we haven't heard about yet? Oh, that's right. You haven't heard about the love interest who isn't Merrick. I don't think I'll spoil the story to tell you that there is a guy who becomes important to the story who you haven't heard about yet.
Is there a way out of it, or is she destined to become a mermaid, and end up in a marriage to Merrick?
Water so Deep isn't a treatise on the moral values of our contemporary youth. It doesn't make any allusions or assumptions about about society. But if you like a story with endearing characters struggling through conflicts to find love and happiness without having to endure torrid, bodice ripping, love scenes, this will be a book you will enjoy and remember.

https://www.amazon.com/Water-So-Deep-Book-One-ebook/dp/B00R9V955E/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1464845035&sr=1-1&keywords=water+so+deep

 

May 26, 2016

Back in episode 31 I interviewed Karl Becktrand for the podcast. I asked him if there were any authors he thought would be good on the podcast and he reccomended Connie Walker. She's in his writing group and he described her as "One of the most underappreciated writers" he knows.
So, for ten weeks now I've been trying to get her interview done and I keep messing up on times and Skypes and all that stuff. I was scheduled to interview her last week and got the day messed up. She waited for me to call her while I sat in la la land, thinking we were scheduled for the next day.
I felt so bad that I went ahead and bought her book and promised to do an Amazon review.
After reading the first few chapters I understood why Karl said what he did. Connie is a wonderful writer and deserves to get more attention.
The Spire of Kylet starts with a prolog of about ten pages, so, I'm going to read that for you now.

 


The Spire of Kylet, a young adult fantasy, is the first book in The Wolkarean Inscription Trilogy.

Here's the Kindle blurb about the book.

Katrine of Banur has a scheme to escape the tedious life of a herder, with its forced early marriage, that her father has planned for her.

Secretly she applies to the illustrious Recorder’s School in the city of Pardish, where only a few exceptional apprentices are accepted each year. But Katrine has been honing her artistic talents and believes she has all the qualifications necessary to become one of the Regent’s elite historian-couriers. She has saved almost enough money from what she earns working on the family ranch in order to pay for the caravan trip. Regardless of what her parents say, she intends to leave home as soon as she receives notification of her acceptance.

Shortly after Katrine finds a spire, a magical weapon created centuries earlier by the sorcerer Kylet, a series of strange events assail her. Because of an act of heroism, she is adopted by one of the mystical Crennese tribes, the Glainites, and is given powers she does not understand and cannot control. She has upheavals of emotion and peculiar sensations in her body. She is plagued by headaches and blurry vision and horrible nightmares.

She fears her dream of becoming a Recorder is doomed.

Then, unexpectedly, she finds herself on a journey to Pardish in the company of a Master Recorder, his new apprentice, her most despised cousin, and a legendary Warrior. As they travel across the countryside, Katrine is faced with unimaginable dangers and decisions. Before she reaches her destination, she faces death three times, redefining her understanding of the world and her place in it.

The second and third books in the trilogy, The Eyes of Landor and Triumph at Serpent’s Head, are also available.

Spire was published in August of 2012 and has six reviews, all five stars.

My ratings:
The book cover shows a girl on a horse, leaning off toward something spining in the air that looks like a dreamcatcher. The picture is a small inset in the cover and is probably too small for getting atttention on Amazon. I give the cover only 3 stars and it may be the reason this book hasn't gotten more traction on Kindle.

The writing is immaculate. Karl Beckstand describes it in his Amazon review: The Spire of Kylet gets your attention from the start. Walker knows how to weave a great adventure--and she's artful in her use of language.
I agree one hundred percent. She has an economy to her writing. There are no redundant or superflous words.

Plausability: She sets up her magical system and shows the price of using magic in the very beginning. Horrifyingly, Elnid-Kyeh sucks the life force from a little girl to restore his waning strength. His magic is powerful--using a talisman to communicate with a distant underling and drawing up the vision of two young women--but there is an underlying method to the abilities which creates the sense of plausability.

Description: Again, Connie's economy of language and "artful use of language" clearly develop the scene we observe from Elnid-Kyeh's desceptive kindness to the little girl and his callused indiference to the prisoners he will soon consume to maintain his strength.

Setting: Whether with Elnid-Kyeh in the tower above the crashing waves or looking down on the two young women in the open field the setting is broad and believable.

Characters: We only truly meet Elnid-Kyeh in the prolog, though we are introduced to a girl who we will soon find out is Katrine, the heroine of the story. We learn a lot about Elnid-Kyeh in these first ten pages, what a cruel and calculating man he is, what his potential is, and the lengths he will go to achieve his desires. I look forward to learning more about the other characters of the story.

My overall rating is Five Stars. I will definately read the rest of this book. Not only because I promised Connie I would, but because I found the first chapter compelling and indicative of a well crafted story of fantasy and adventure.
I recomend that you read it as well.

https://www.amazon.com/Spire-Kylet-Wolkarean-Inscription-Book-ebook/dp/B00914INIW?ie=UTF8&keywords=The%20Spire%20of%20Kylet&qid=1464239460&ref_=sr_1_1&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

May 19, 2016

Rebecca
My insatiable curiosity about people and culture developed at an early age, and was likely the result of many European misadventures and my experiences living in England, Denmark, and Canada. There is nothing like playing among the columns of a Bronze Age palace surrounded by the sapphire waters of the Mediterranean to pique an eight year old's interest and imagination.

I focused my University studies in Classical Archeology and Literature, Physical Anthropology, Social Work, and Criminology. For those of you questioning my use of the word 'focused' ...well, you'll just have to trust me when I say that I couldn't file my interests down to any sharper a point. I tried. The yearly course lists crammed with intriguing possibilities made me feel like a kid in a candy store - one of those really big stores with colorful jars lining the walls from floor to ceiling.

My career path has continued in the same vein. I was my grandmother's caregiver for two years; an opportunity for which I am ever grateful as spending that time with such a remarkable woman shaped me in ways I am still discovering. Among other things, I've been a vet assistant, worked at a halfway house for high-risk offenders, sat on many kids as a mascot, been the operations manager for a private investigation firm, and spent several months in Ontario with the Red Cross helping refugees from Kosovo acclimatize to Canada. I've also volunteered within maximum-security prisons and the community to help people serving life sentences transition from the regimented bubble of prison back to a very changed outside world.

Why I Write

Simply put - I write to explore, express, and connect. I delve into the web of relationships linking humans, animals, and the environment. I peer into my characters inner worlds and explore the inherent violence and compassion bound together in the human spirit. My guiding principle is that the human mosaic is beautiful because of the unique nature of each piece and I do my best to celebrate this diversity in my work.


Adriaan
I grew up in Calgary, Alberta on the divide between the prairie and Mountains. Calgary is a city that's surrounded by wide empty spaces. I think there's something about the pressing wilderness that makes one appreciate the inherent fragility of human society.

I've always been a bit of a dreamer with one foot in a world of make-believe. I learned to read very young and it's been my addiction ever since. Speculative 'what if' style stories (James and the Giant Peach) or stories that take you entirely out of the human frame of reference (Watership Down) quickly lead me into harder stuff (Tolkien, Heinlein)

My urge to see the world took me to Kingston, Ontario for university, then to Berkshire, England for a few years, though I'm generally drawn back to Calgary by ties of blood and friendship. Though we're often fooled by distance. You don't need to move half-way around the world to gain a new perspective, sometimes moving a few miles can make just as much of a difference.

I studied Engineering at university, though while there I was drawn in to the online community on the old IBM mainframe and then into this new and fascinating idea out of CERN called the 'World Wide Web'. This led me into tinkering with computer programming which became a bit of an obsession that luckily people like to pay me for.

I remember being told that the made-up worlds I loved were a childish thing that I would need to grow out of if I wanted to succeed in life. The older I get, the more I realise how wrong this is. In just the past few millennia, humans have moved from chipping tools out of stones to space exploration and heart transplants. Every step on that path was driven by someone who dreamed up something impossible.

Some of the writers that inspire me today are Lois Bujold, David Drake and C.J. Cherryh. These authors take on tough questions about what it means to be moral and the destiny of humanity without flinching. They inspire me to be a better person, as well as a better writer.

As an avid reader I'll never lose sight of the fact that the Author's first duty is to entertain but beyond that my goal is to bring back a sense of optimism about human achievement. The dark side of our natures will always be with us but I'm convinced that humanity has an amazing future ahead and prefer to dream big.

Rebecca Brae is a freelance writer, artist, and fog enthusiast, with a background in sociology and weird pets. Adriaan Brae is a software developer and tech-geek, with a passion for languages and martial arts. Their divergent interests can be challenging at times but their love of new ideas, storytelling, and Lego always brings them together.

WEBSITE: www.braevitae.com
TWITTER: twitter.com/RebeccaBrae
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/braevitae

BOOK 1: CHAOS BOUND (2014)

When the going gets weird, the tough are useless. You need a geek.

Jessica is no superhero, and though she believes being smart, curious, and compassionate should be considered qualifications, society has yet to agree.
Her life in Coldwater is low-key and predictable, just the way she likes it. Her biggest worries are staying at the top of her classes and avoiding the popular crowd, but a change that will shake the world is already taking hold in her small town.

The death of a classmate kicks her out of her safe routine. Stalked by the supernatural killer, she’ll need to embrace the chaos in order to survive: Lying, stealing, invoking barely understood magic, and even crashing a house party.

Abandoned by her friends and labelled a troublemaker, she’s determined to find a way to stop the killer. But at what cost?


BOOK 2: CURSE BOUND (2016)

When the world goes crazy, it helps to have a head start.

Mutant science projects, a troubled werewolf, and other magic-related dangers are Jessica’s new normal, but someone has started targeting the students of Coldwater High with powerful curses, and she’s a suspect. A serious mistake forces her to question whether she deserves Drew and Michiru’s loyalty, and with the gatekeeper’s alien influence in her head, she’s not even sure she can trust herself.

Just as Jessica realizes she has also been hit with a lethal curse, a disastrously magical Valentine’s Day leaves her cut off from friends and forces her to put her life in the hands of her worst enemy.


MIST WARDEN SERIES BLURB (YA Urban Fantasy)

The town of Coldwater is a quiet, in-between kind of place on the outskirts of Calgary at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Nestled up against the edge of a First Nation reserve, the town is a classic mix of big-city commuters and rural residents. But there are more secrets lost to history than anyone could imagine and now Coldwater is set to return to a more central role in the workings of the universe.

Three teens just entering high school are caught up in the transformation:

Jessica has lived in Coldwater all her life and loves the quiet. A proud geek, she's far happier lost in a book or an equation than dealing with the so-called ‘real world’. When dangerous forces are set loose in her town and start maiming and killing her classmates, she’s compelled to investigate. She never could leave a mystery alone.

Drew is one of the new First Nation students at Coldwater High and his goal is to be anywhere else as soon as possible. Armed with his trusty laptop and an extensive knowledge of tech and random facts, he becomes Jessica’s reluctant ally. His curiosity drives him to get involved and help out against his better judgement, but he does it all with his trademark wit and wicked snark.

Michiru is a force of nature and exceptional athlete who has lived all over the world, with most of her time spent in big cities like London, Amsterdam, Paris, New York, and Toronto. She confidently expects her stay in Coldwater to be every kind of dull, except for the camping and skiing, but is pleasantly surprised to find all the excitement she could want and more.

May 12, 2016

Nancy Norbeck wrote her first story, inspired by her brother's case of chicken pox, when she was in fourth grade. She flirted with writing off and on over the years, but began to take it seriously in high school, and then in college. After teaching writing to English as a Second Language students for several years, and working on her own writing projects, she enrolled in Goddard College's MFA in creative writing program, which she completed in 2009. The Silver Child is her first novel. She currently works as a writing and creative process coach.

Nancy is a longtime fan of Doctor Who and can often be found spoiling her two nephews rotten. She lives in New Jersey and loves to travel, especially when she can go back in time via a good book.

For more information on current projects, upcoming releases, and coaching services, please subscribe at nancynorbeck.com or follow her on Twitter @NancyNorbeck. She would love to hear from you.

Maia Starfield is on the run, having successfully hidden her ability to create silver just by singing—until government thugs arrived to take her away. Her mother sent her out the door just in time, giving her only one piece of advice: Find Dr. Martus.

Albert Martus has no idea why Maia was sent to find him—the doctor who delivered her 17 years ago. But from the moment she turns up, his story becomes intertwined with hers…as it has been since before she was born.

Follow this unlikely team as they discover the truth about the past and their present, the regime known as the Brotherhood, and the magical and ordinary power they each carry deep inside.


“Nancy Norbeck's THE SILVER CHILD shows us a fantasy world that is all too real, ruled by a modern Inquisition that seeks to control minds and wipe out history. Maia, the Silver Child of the title, is a natural magician who has only the faintest awareness of her powers. More important, she is alive, a vividly drawn teenage girl who must discover who she is in a time of terror. The story is big, the characters both heroic and sweet.”
~Rachel Pollack, World Fantasy Award and Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novelist


For more about Nancy you can check out nancynorbeck.com (generally speaking), and more specifically, the page for the course that just ended is at nancynorbeck.com/intuitive-writing. They can also sign up on either of those pages to get my newsletter, which includes info about upcoming courses, writing prompts, etc.

May 5, 2016

YA Books Podcast Episode 38 - A 1st 10 Page Review of "The Rithmatist" by Brandon Sanderson

In my humble opinion Brandon Sanderson is one of the most masterful writers of genre fiction. He's produced many epic fantasy series, for his magical systems and how they are enmeshed in his intensely detailed worlds.
He's probably best known recently in the YA genre for his Reckoners series which started with, "Steelheart". I thought that book was good and the second in the series, "Firefight" was okay. I'm not saying I could write better, by any means. They're filled with very powerful, smack talking, superheroes and anti-heroes, with description, plot and conflict like no one other than Brandon Sanderson can write.
Before Steelheart, (by nearly five months) there was The Rithmatist. Published in May of 2013 it didn't seem to get the attention the later book would elicit.
I'm more of a Peter Parker fan, than I am a Bruce Wayne.

609 reviews, 4.6 average

Here's the blurb:
More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity's only defense against the Wild Chalklings—merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

The Rithmatist starts with a prolog to give a background foundation to the conversation in the first chapter.
Here's the prolog.

I've been listening to the first dozen or so episodes of the "Writing Excuses" podcast in the last few weeks. You may or may not know that Brandon Sanderson is one of the four main podcasters of the show. In the most recent episode I've been listening to they talk about "Idea as a Genre." They even comment that this is one of Brandon's favorite genres to write in. In it, the reader should be wowwed and fascinated as elements of the world and story unfold.
I think the Rithmatist fits this genre and we can see from the prolog that the idea is, "How would it be if magic could be performed by drawing with chalk on the ground." Elements of conflict in this short intro fascinated me as the little chalk animals chewed through the spell caster's defenses.
The first chapter is too long for me to read and still feel like I'm only providing a short excerpt for editorial discussion. So I'm going to read the first scene of the chapter which brings the total of pages read to about 10. That short enough to asauge my conscience from believing I have violated any copy right.
Listen for elements of wonder:

I'm obviously giving this first chapter a solid 5 Star. It makes me want to read on, and did three years ago when I read it (Or listened to it on Audible).

The cover has a Steampunk flavor. The writing and description are excellent. He creates a foundation for all of his magical or plat based assertions so there is no challenge to the plausibility of the characters actions or plot events. The setting is clear and the characters realistic and dynamic.
I have this book on audio, I have the ebook, and a paperback copy. I had planned on going to the Storymaker's conference in Provo Utah this weekend and corner Brandon and interview him in person, but because of my job change and other concerns, I had to stay home. So this is the next best thing for me to reccomend this book that I enjoyed immensely and hope you will too.

Get it here:

https://www.amazon.com/Rithmatist-Brandon-Sanderson-ebook/dp/B00AJGNICW?ie=UTF8&refRID=1CXFWFWR9HVSGHPHWC8V&ref_=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1

Apr 28, 2016

In this episode I talk with Mia Siegert and we talk about Olympic Horse Jumping, MFA's, Adjunct Professors, professional hockey, internet hook ups, and other things.

Jerk Bait
Even though they're identical, Tristan isn't close to his twin Robbie at all—until Robbie tries to kill himself. Forced to share a room to prevent Robbie from hurting himself, the brothers begin to feel the weight of each other's lives on the ice, and off. Tristan starts seeing his twin not as a hockey star whose shadow Tristan can't escape, but a struggling gay teen terrified about coming out in the professional sports world. Robbie's future in the NHL is plagued by anxiety and the mounting pressure from their dad, coach, and scouts, while Tristan desperately fights to create his own future, not as a hockey player but a musical theatre performer. As their season progresses and friends turn out to be enemies, Robbie finds solace in an online stranger known only as "Jimmy2416." Between keeping Robbie's secret and saving him from taking his life, Tristan is given the final call: sacrifice his dream for a brother he barely knows, or pursue his own path. How far is Robbie willing to go—and more importantly, how far is Tristan willing to go to help him?


Mia Siegert received her MFA from Goddard College and her BA from Montclair State University where she won Honorable Mention in the 2009 English Department Awards for fiction. Her debut JERKBAIT will be released May 2016 by Jolly Fish Press. Siegert has been published in Clapboard House, Word Riot, The Limn Literary & Arts Journal, as well as a few other small presses.

Siegert currently works as an adjunct professor and a costume designer. She enjoys riding horses and watching hockey.

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