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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Dec 28, 2017

Inception: A Dark Paranormal Romance (The Marked Book 1)
by Bianca Scardoni

Published in September of 2015 it has 4.5 Stars on 727 Amazon reviews.
I chose this book because I wanted one that was doing really well on the top 100 Young Adult book index. This was number 11, behind a bunch of Harry Potters and Hunger Game titles, on the day I bought it. It's now at 31 on that list, though #1 on three indices and #205 on the paid kindle store.

Book 2 was published in June of 2016 and Book 3 in April of this year, 2017. I don't know from looking at them if they will end with the third book, or if the series will continue. But, if you like it, there are at least two more in the series.

The Amazon blurb tells us....

My name is Jemma Blackburn and I have a secret. I know vampires are real. I watched one murder my father eight months ago, and even though they tried to convince me it didn’t happen—that I’d lost touch with reality due to the trauma, I know what I saw was real.

Hollow Hills is now the place I call home. It was supposed to be my chance at a normal life. My chance to bury my secret and start over. But everyone around me is keeping their own secrets, whispering lies into my ears like promises, and one of them is about to turn my entire world upside down.

I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I had the answers. I thought I knew who I was. The truth is, I didn’t even know the half of it. There's a reason these vampires are still after me. There's a reason they will always hunt me. Because I'm not human.

I'm the devil they fear and the angel they crave.
Only problem is, I don't know it yet.

INCEPTION is the enthralling first installment in The Marked Saga. A coming of age YA paranormal romance full of atmosphere, supernatural adventure, and jaw-dropping twists that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Perfect for fans of Twilight, Vampire Diaries and Fallen Angel Romances.

The Amazon preview has the Preface and the first five chapters. I'm going to read you the preface, which is really short...just the way I like a preface...and then the first two chapters.

Here we go....


What do I like about these chapters. The author is very descriptive and creates the mysterious mood of the area that Jemma has been moved to. She shows in the interactions with her uncle and her sister that something is going on that no one wants to talk about.

I think this book is as popular as it is because it hits all the points of a paranormal YA. I haven't read that many novels, but the characteristics of this story sound very familiar to others in the genre...which is the right thing to do if you want to sell books. Give people what they want. What has Bianca given us in these first two chapters?

A teenage girl torn from her family and placed far away with a relative.
Moved to a mysterious place. Something on the porch at night which the uncle won't admit he knows about. People killed by wild animals. And a high class prep school. The mysterious bad boy in her first class is almost as cliché as the mean girl who doesn't want Jemma looking at him. Sure. There has to be a love interest and a romantic conflict, but these two come across as a little too predictable. The preview promises us jaw dropping twists. If these two break the mold they appear to have come from, I would drop my jaw for that.

I'm impressed by the protagonists ability to observe eye color so quickly. After I meet someone for the first time, I can usually tell you how many eyes they had. Not much more. Especially from across the room. I've taken chemistry in college, so I should be able to tell you how cobalt blue differs from other blues, but I can't.

I'm giving this a four star recommendation, because I think it will be perfect for anyone looking for something to read that will be very much like, what books did the blurb name? Oh yeah. Twilight, Vampire Diaries and Fallen Angel Romances. Whether it crosses enough new territory, with jaw dropping twists, will remain to be seen. If it meets that expectation it set, then I would rate it five stars. If you read this and find it's more than just a well written, more of the same novel. Let me know.

Dec 21, 2017

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin Mckinley

First published in 1978 by HarperTeen

So, that is the first chapter of Beauty. About sixteen pages. I love the author's use of language. Even though the story is told in first person, I hardly notice it.

The story continues with the family selling off their mansion in the city, traveling to the country and setting up shop on the edge of an enchanted forest. It takes a few twists but eventually Beauty ends up in the magical castle, alone with the fright some beast.

When Disney's Beauty and the Beast was announced, I looked forward to it with the hope that it would have the same charm as I found in this book. I think it fell way short. Even with Lumier, Cogsworth and Gaston (Or maybe because of...). In the movie, I never felt an affection for the beast as I did in reading this book.

Anyway. I hope you have a Merry Christmas or other celebration of choice. I'm going to go read Beauty for the eleventh time.

Thanks for listening and we'll see you next week.

Dec 14, 2017

Erasmus T. Muddiman by Kathrine Pym

In retrospect, I think this is more of a middle grade story. At least it starts that way. And since I already recorded the first two chapters I'm going with it for this weeks episode anyway. Mostly because I like the author's voice. She has found a convincing way of portraying the time period in her choice of language. The characters are interesting and realistic. Also, the other book I started had two violent rapes in the first five pages and the writing was mediocre. If you're interested in reading a violent, mediocre book, email me at and I'll let you know what the name is.

So, here's Erasmus T. Muddiman

It was published in August of 2016. It currently has 4.8 stars on sixteen reviews.

Here's the Amazon blurb:

It is London 1665, a year fraught with strange and unearthly events. Comets fly low in the sky while merchants clamor for war.

Eleven year old Erasmus T. Muddiman attends St Paul’s School with his younger brother. He enjoys Latin but hates to create Latin verses, preferring the new sciences as seen at the Royal Society. He plays football with the lads in Paul’s Yard, shimmies up the drainpipe outside his bedchamber window and he saves his brother, Desiderius, from all sorts of scrapes.

Soon, Erasmus cannot avoid the rumors of war. Men and boys are pressganged, taken to ships or the dockyards. Plague enters the city. As school fellows disappear, Erasmus and his family meet a terrible fate of survival. Who will live and who will die?

The Amazon preview has the first four chapters. Here are the first two....


What I like most about this story is that it brings history alive. I'm a big fan of history podcasts, like Hardcore History, and Revolutions podcast. These two chapters gave me a real feeling for life in that time period, from looking at comets through a hand held spyglass, to the smell of the air from the top of a bell tower, and the frozen rubbish in the street where the boys kicked their football.

The author has several more books that all appear to involve young people and historical fiction. On the author's amazon author page it says.

Katherine Pym likes history, especially 17th century England, specifically London during the 1660's. The decade is so exciting. It is filled with human interest stories as the people adjust from one government to another, and all their changing rules and regulations.

I also chose this book because the first two chapters occure shortly before Christmas and as I'm recording this, Christmas is about two weeks away. Next week I'm going to read the first few chapters of my favorite book of all time. I've read it nearly ten times and always in the month or two before Christmas.

Thanks for listening. And, we'll see you next week.

Dec 7, 2017

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

4.3 Stars 291 reviews
Published November 2014 by Harper Collins
First in the Three book Firebird series
Book 2, Nov 2015
Book 3, Nov 2016

Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black in this epic dimension-bending trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray about a girl who must chase her father's killer through multiple dimensions.

Marguerite Caine's physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite's father is murdered, and the killer—her parent's handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul's guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father's death is far more sinister than she expected.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores an amazingly intricate multi-universe where fate is unavoidable, the truth elusive, and love the greatest mystery of all.



I really liked these chapters and recommend this book enthusiastically. It has almost all of what I like. It has mystery, action, science and nerdy romance. What could be better than dimension hopping with a beautiful young woman. It's well written. The plot flows and all the science, whether it's grounded or not, is entered into the dialog and narrative seamlessly. I'm recommending this as a 4, realizing that not everyone will be as enchanted by the science fiction as much as I am.

Nov 30, 2017

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth (Author of the Divergent trilogy)

I know that I often feature lesser known books on the podcast, so this week I wanted to find something that might be more mainstream. I went to the Amazon top 100 young adult books, and the first one that wasn't a Harry Potter book was this one. It was around number six. With her Divergent Trilogy being so popular, I figured this was a good bet.
published on Jan 17, 2017 by
It must have recently been on a promotion, because I bought it for $2.99 and now it is at $10.99
It is currently at #678 on the Paid Kindle store.
When I bought it, it was #1 on three indices, now it is at 4, 5, and 5, on those indices.

4.0 stars on 304 reviews

Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth have grown up in enemy countries locked in a long-standing fight for dominance over their shared planet. When Akos and his brother are kidnapped by the ruling Noavek family, Akos is forced to serve Cyra, the sister of a dictator who governs with violence and fear. Cyra is known for her deadly power of transferring extraordinary pain unto others with simple touch, and her tyrant brother uses her as a weapon against those who challenge him. But as Akos fights for his own survival, he recognizes that Cyra is also fighting for hers, and that her true gift—resilience—might be what saves them both.

When Akos and Cyra are caught in the middle of a raging rebellion, everything they’ve been led to believe about their world and themselves must be called into question. But fighting for what’s right might mean betraying their countries, their families, and each other.

When the time comes, will they choose loyalty or love?

How did I like this first chapter?
I think the author's writing is great, though I did stumble on some of the phrasing when I was recording. There was one sentence about the Shotet being across a stretch of feathergrass that was really hard to read in a way that made sense. Let me read it. "And they lived on Thuvhe, the same planet as Akos and his family—though the Shotet didn’t call this planet “Thuvhe,” or themselves “Thuvhesits”—across a huge stretch of feathergrass." Reading that I feel like Fezzik in the Princess Bride, "I don't think that word means what he thinks in means." With the insertion about the Shotet in the middle of the sentence, we lose the connection to the original thought. I thought this was some weak writing in an otherwise strong story. There is a lot of wisdom in the idea that authors should read their work out loud to make sure it flows.

I'm impressed with the author's world building. I'm not impressed that she tried to explain so much of it in the first chapter, mixed in with cute childhood interactions. There was too much information dumped into the chapter. Again, too many obscure names introduced. If I hadn't read the chapter three times, including while recording, I don't know if I would have been clear on who was who at the end.

Also, we are barely introduced to the conflict at the end of the first chapter. And we only know what is coming by reading the blurb. Reading the chapter straight through, there is nothing in it that pushes me to know more. I'm disappointed that there isn't a nagging conflict to catch my interest.

If world building is a major draw for you, then, this chapter, and probably the book, is for you. I would have to read on another chapter of two to decide if there was enough conflict and potential character development to spur me on. The author has a lot of street cred, having written a major series in the Divergent trilogy. That is probably enough to encourage me to read the next two or three chapters to see if it will hook me.

Another thing that bugged me was the rankings. It was highest on a YA Scifi/distopian index. I'm not sure how they got the book into that index, because this story doesn't have any of the characteristics of a distopian novel, as far as I can see from the first chapter and the blurb. It is much more in the scifi/fantasy genre.

I was going to give this a four. Because it should appeal to more than just the distopian crowd. Or just the YA romance crowd. Based on the potential that the author knows what she's doing. It's worth a try for most readers. At least the first few chapters to see if you're going to get drawn in. But, the price point is a draw back. $11 is a lot for a 'maybe' e book. If other reviewers had averaged it higher than a straight four point oh, it would be a more sure bet. I give it between a three and a four recommendation. There are a lot of great books available for $5 that are less risk.

Nov 23, 2017

I apologize for missing a week. I actually recorded these chapters a week ago, but my lap top was giving me such a bad time that I had to buy a new one. In that recording my computer cut out thirteen little snippets, so I've had to go back, re record those corrupted sentences or paragraphs and edit them in. I appologize for any errors in this episode.

This week's episode is:

Rising From the Ashes: The Chronicles of Caymin (The Dragonmage Saga Book 1)
Caren J. Werlinger
4.7 stars on 40 reviews

Published by Corgyn Publishing on February 1, 2016
Going to her Amazon author page I see that Caren has written a number of other books, including books two and three of the Dragonmage Saga

The book is listed in three catagories all ending with sword and sorcery.


Rising From the Ashes: The Chronicles of Caymin

Ancient Ireland – an era of clan wars, petty kings and invasions by raiders from the north.

As Christianity tightens its hold, magic and the old ways fight to keep their place in the hearts of the people.

Born into this world is Ash, orphaned and maimed, left to die. She is rescued by a clan of badgers and raised to be one of them. As she grows, so does her magic, until at last she comes to the attention of other humans. Some of them want to protect her; some want to use her.

When she bonds with an orphaned dragon cub, the two of them become pawns in a bid for power. Forced to flee, dragon and dragonmage embark on a quest to seek the answers as to why they were bonded and what their future holds.

Book One in The Dragonmage Saga

There are a prolog and three chapters in the Amazon preview. I am going to read the prolog and first chapter. I was going to read the second chapter, but it was way long and I still have to meet my word count for Nanowrimo. So, here we go with the prolog:

In these two chapters we're introduced to Ash and the badgers. We see her magical ability to speak telepathically with animals and the appearance of her healing powers. Dragons, while mentioned in the title and in the blurb, don't make an appearance in the beginning.

The writing is strong and the characters are believable, even if they are talking animals.

I think this is a great start to an interesting story. So if you like dragons, fantasy, and Swords and Sorcery, this book might be written for you.

Thanks for listening, and we'll see you next week.

Nov 9, 2017

Today's episode is a first chapter review of Tiva Boon:Royal Guardian by Jenn Nixon
it is the first book of the Tiva Boon series
It has 4.3 stars on 71 reviews
It was published on july 8, 2014

The kingdom of Abennelp has enjoyed an age of peace. Tiva Boon, a loyal and ambitious Royal Guardian is determined to carry on tradition and become an elite protector to the throne. It is all she has ever wanted. Possessing abilities and strength beyond her age, Tiva dedicates her youth and risks her life in the service of her king to prove she is worthy. With her goal achieved and her destiny in motion, a mysterious off-world threat emerges and shatters everything Tiva holds dear.
Exiled from her home and running for her life, Tiva seeks asylum with the Union, a universal security force, and attempts to put the past behind her. Finding herself alone among various space faring races, Tiva integrates herself into the strange society using her skills as a protector and befriends several aliens she meets along the way, ones who will change her life forever.
When a message from those loyal to her king reaches her months after she feels safe in her new life, Tiva’s destiny and the fate of her people collide.

The Amazon preview has the prolog and the first four chapters. I'm going to read yoou the prolog and the first two chapters.
So, here we go...

I like the combination of science fiction and fantasy. We have hover cars and swords. Empaths and architecture. There are a lot of fantasy tropes here to play with. Kings and kingdoms, the royal guardians, hundreds of years of history, and a hierarchy of families sworn to protect the royals. And a girl who won't accept her role in life as a woman.
I like the author's writing style and think she tells her story well.
Two things bothered me about the swords. One was that Tiva's sword grip fit her hand perfectly, matching each of her fingers. I haven't figured out how old Tiva is. I'm figuring around five. This is the sword she will learn to use for the rest of her life. Unless they are planning to reform the grip when she is done growing, I can't imagine that it will be comfortable for an adult to use.
Also. I'm interested to see how swords are used. Will they be used hand to hand in combat, or are there other weapons which are more technologically advanced.
They have hover cars that go fast enough to have killed two occupants. Unless they're powered by magic, the technology that makes them run could be used to create weapons that would be more effective than swords. For that matter, if two groups are engaged in hand to hand combat with swords, a single hover car could bring that to an end by simply driving through the crowd. Add some swords sticking off the front and sides and no one can even get at the driver without risking their lives.
The number of charactors and names introduced early on was a little overwhelming. It introduced the idea that Tiva has a large family and a long tradition of being guardians, but it also had me spending time wondering which names I should try to remember and who would be important further along in the story.
I give these chapters between a 3 and a 4. I think if you are into science fiction with a dose of fantasy, or some of the other tropes introduced, you will like this story. I'm interested to read further to see how things bear out.

Nov 2, 2017

Here's "Fairy Ring: Shards of Janderelle" Book 1 by Jacque Stevens
4.2 stars on 13 customer reviews
Published by Sjacquebooks on September 5th of this year.
It's in three teen and young adult indices all with the key words of Mental Illness or depression. The author is a full time nurse working in mental and developmental health and wrote her first novel as a stress relief activity during nursing school.

Here is the Amazon blurb:

Fourteen-year-old Livy’s best friends just happen to be fairies.

With them, she defeats snow monsters and discovers lost treasure, running wild through her apartment complex. Game after endless game. That’s how it works with fairies. They might be illusions, but they helped her cope when her father walked out, leaving her to care for her drug-addicted mother alone.

Then Child Protective Services swoops in, sending Livy to live with her father, but that doesn’t stop the fairies from tagging along. The illusions that helped her in the past now cause nothing but trouble—preluding fires in chemistry and sword fights in gym. It isn’t any wonder her stepmother thinks she’s crazy, maybe even on drugs like her mother. Forced into therapy, Livy tries to conform to her new life. But when the military precision of her stepmother’s household becomes too much, she crosses the fairy ring to a dream world where her imagination can run free again.

Her scars transfer from one world to the other. So does a death. With her family ready to have her committed, Livy must unravel the truth behind her so-called schizophrenic delusions before they take another life—hers.

Fairy Ring: Shards of Janderelle is a darkly humorous and magical tale with elements of A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness), Calvin: A Novel (Martine Leavitt), and other young adult stories that blend the borders of contemporary fantasy and psychology. It explores teenage/family drama, mental illness, and a fantasy world that might be too good to be true.

The Amazon preview has the prologue, the first two chapters and part of the third. I'm going to read you the prologue and first chapter.

The first time I read this I had a hard time skipping from the prologue to the first chapter. While this prologue was used as it is supposed to--showing us pivotal scenes from the past. I immediately forgot that the first chapter was not just a continuation of the previous and was confused until I realized she was older. When I read this out loud to record it, everything made much more sense.
I wish there had been some cue about the passage of time between the two.
That said, it was my only real complaint about these two chapters.
I really enjoyed the spell/vision action of the Yeti fight. It was fun and creative and gives us a concise look at the nature of Livy's two fairy friends.
Knowing that the indices for this book include Mental Illness, I wonder now and then while reading this, if the fairies are just Livy's imagination. Hallucinations are classically what we think of when we consider mental illness, but that would be too simple. Alcohol abuse, drug abuse, depression and homelessness are also symptoms of mental illness that are much less glamorous, but probably much more common.
I give this book a four and hope that I'll get a chance to read further.

Oct 26, 2017

From the Sky, Book 1 of the Beyond Moondust Trilogy by JE Nicassio.
Published September 6th of this year. Book two came out two days later.
Book 1 of 2 in Beyond Moondust Triliogy (2 Book Series)
4.4 stars on 20 Customer reviews.

From the Sky from best-selling author J.E. Nicassio writes the kind of close encounter that will leave readers spellbound. When high school junior, Samantha Hunter, and her father move to New Mexico, it's a chance to leave tragedy behind and start over. However, the arrival of a dark-haired stranger changes everything. Lucien introduces Sam to the prospect of enjoying life again, and to the hidden world of aliens. But crazier than that, Lucien doesn't feel entirely like a stranger. Redemption and romance follow Sam in her new life as she works to understand the alien-human romance she's developing--a romance that feels beyond her control. There's something bigger happening around her, and to her, too, and this is just the beginning....

--J. E. Nicassio packs in the action like a superhero movie-- From the Sky has all the hallmarks of a Hollywood blockbuster--ready to light up the sky like a fleet of UFOs. "A must read! It had me from the very beginning to the last word. Every page had a plot twist and turn to make my imagination run wild." --Online Book Nicassio is a freelance writer and MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) Field Investigator in Pittsburgh, PA, where she resides with her mother, two sons, and German Shepherd, Ava. She loves writing and is passionate about creating stories that entertain and comes straight from the heart. Her Children's book, Rocky (About Rockefeller Center and a tiny Christmas tree named Rocky) made the Amazon Top Ten Christmas Book List in 2016.

The Amazon preview has the Prolog and the first four chapters. I'm going to read you the prolog and the first two chapters.

(Read Chapters)

How did I like this so far?
I thought the first chapter, er, rather, the prolog, was great. It was a fast paced introduction to the main character and some unknown characters. They didn't say their names, but one of them says, "There'll be consequences, Brother." So either these first two strangers are brothers, or members of a religeous order. Anyway, it appears the Brother heals Sam.
Could this be Lucien, the love interest mentioned in the Amazon blurb?
If you read on in the preview, Chapter 3 is titled, Lucien. So, if you want to find out before you buy the book, you can read further than I did. I have to admit that by the end of chapter two, the pace of the story had slowed sufficiently that I wasn't really interested enough to read on at this point.
I thought chapter one was good and built on what we learned from the preview.
I felt like chapter 2 was mainly filler and slowed down considerably as she walks out to the bus stop.
I give this a three star rating and if I had nothing else to read, I'd read a few more chapters to see if this one picked up.
Part of what drags the recommendation down for me is the poorly written Amazon blurb. An Amazon blurb needs to grab you with the first sentence and drag you to the second which pushes you to the third and then shows you an emotional reason why you need to buy this book right now. This blurb starts out with telling us how great the author is.
From the Sky from best-selling author J.E. Nicassio writes the kind of close encounter that will leave readers spellbound.
Not only is the first line of the blurb improperly punctuated, it tells me nothing about the book--only claims that I will be spellbound, but not why. And frankly, "Best Selling" means nothing anymore. Maybe she's made some list somewhere. If I don't know the author's name and what they had written that was best selling, saying so will mean nothing.
So, in conclusion. If what the blurb promises appeals to you, it could be worth reading the next two chapters on the Amazon preview, or just paying out the 99 cents it costs right now to get book one. If you like it, there's at least one more book in the series, or two it it's a trilogy.
Thanks for listening and we'll see you next week.

Oct 19, 2017

Bianca Rowena is the author of the Gift Stone Series and the Virgin Diaries. She was born in Romania, Transylvania and now lives in Southern Alberta with her husband, daughter and little dog Molli. Bianca graduated from Film Studies at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. You can check out her website at or follow her on Twitter (@biancarowena) or Facebook

Oct 12, 2017

I was born in Palmer, Alaska, but lived in every time zone of the lower 48 (and Taiwan) before I went to college. I studied at Brigham Young University and in East Asia (China, Japan), which proved amazing exploration territory.

Ten plus years later my exploration has turned inward, and "Hurricane Coltrane" reflects the difference. My people settled that lonely stretch of southern Utah desert. Some would call it barren earth, but I have discovered it fertile beyond anything I initially imagined...creatively. Welcome to the first fruits of my prosperous literary garden!

I now live in Bountiful, Utah with my story-adoring husband and daughter.

Hurricane Coltrane (April 2015)
Merrill Hinton is a lightning rod in a town named for bad weather. He’s an ace in math, but not smart enough to put together the pieces of his puzzling life, especially where finding his unknown father is concerned.

Musical genius Robbie Stubbs was born in nearby polygamist compound Colorado City. He has the chops to become another John Coltrane, but that will take running away from home, and into a firestorm of controversy–the kind his friend Merrill knows best.

Merrill sets Robbie onto a course that could rocket them both onto center stage, but being the focus of wide public attention will create serious issues. Robbie’s mother is not well, and the shock of her son breaking the family rules like this may put her over the edge.

And Merrill Hinton? His precarious future would be compromised in ways he doesn’t yet realize.

Oct 5, 2017

Thedore FIcklestein is a writer of various poetry books and young adult and humor novels. He takes great influence from Shel Silverstein, JD Salinger and George Carlin. His novel A Day in the Life follows college student Nicholas Cripp. Through the eyes of a young yearning for meaning in a meaningless world, Nick learns that in life, the joke is on you.

Book Synopsis:
A Day In The Life is Theodore Ficklestein’s debut novel about Nickolas Cripp, a college student finding his way in the world. Although Nick won’t admit it, he is the main focus to a young adult book that follows him from his home to college to the city, where he wants to attend an open mic.

Along his path, he encounters a teacher who asks about the apocalypse, a drunk on the train and two friends who feel writing isn’t Nick’s strong point, among others. Nick soon finds out that the funniest things in life aren’t that funny at all, and the greatest comedians never go up on stage.

As he goes through his day, one oddball character at a time, Nick starts to question if the comedy club he dreams of being in, is really for him. Should he be who he wants to be? Or who the world thinks he should be? Neither of which, he is entirely sure about.

A personal journey of self-discovery through the eyes of a youth yearning for meaning in a meaningless world; Nick learns that in life, the joke is on you.

Official Website:

Sep 28, 2017

Katherine Dell is a young adult fiction author fascinated by the supernatural and the stories that surround them. She began her writing endeavours in 2011 when she wanted to reinvent herself from her previous career as an event planner. When she’s not writing, she can be found in cold hockey arenas sipping coffee, working on her tan at little league games, or trying to keep her dog out of her many gardens. She lives with her husband, two boys, and fur babies, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Be careful what you wish for.

After moving from Vancouver to isolated Hazelton, BC, high school senior Rachel Barnes hopes she’ll finally find closure and a sense of direction after tragedy has torn her family apart. When she and her friends discover the old spirit box her grandmother gave her, they see it as a chance to wish their troubles away. But the Great Spirits—deer, crow, bear, and the mythical wendigo—give away nothing for free.

So instead of worrying about fitting in and finding a boyfriend, Rachel finds herself in a race to control the malevolent spirit who’s taken up residence in Mason Allen, who she fears and craves in equal measure. What began as a harmless game forces Rachel to confront her past—and offers her a future she never imagined.

Step into a reality that is not as it seems in Book 1 of the Harmless series.


Sep 21, 2017

Charlotte Leonetti is an up-and-coming young author. Her debut novel, Heartshire High, was written when she was just 16, in the moments between school, friends and family commitments and she is already working on her second novel. Charlotte decided to self-publish at seventeen, as a way to learn about the publishing industry and to connect with her readers. When Charlotte is not writing, she is avidly reading, and since 2015 she has been writing book reviews on the popular teen website Sassy Peach Reads. In early 2017 she beat 1,200 other applications to win one of five 1st places in the ScholarTrips contest for her essay ‘Jump’, sponsored by Allianz Global Assistance.

What grade are you in now?
When did you get the idea for Heartsland High?
What was your process for putting it together
How many times did you rewrite/edit?
Who was you editor?
Published August 15
#386,467 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#437 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Social & Family Issues > Being a Teen
#704 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Social & Family Issues > Friendship
#1167 in Books > Teens > Literature & Fiction > Social & Family Issues > Being a Teen

Heartshire High takes the reader through Celia's move to a new town in her senior year, living with a less than caring dad, dealing a new school and having to make new friends. While Celia is focused on just surviving her last school year, and counting down the days until graduation, Bunni befriends her and leads her into the woods, and into a world of drugs, parties, and death.

Once Celia discovers the mysterious death of Tim, she can't help but dig into what happened. While the whole town tries to ignore what happened, Celia starts to ask questions which lead to her having even more questions. What really happened to Tim? Was it murder? Is somebody not telling the truth? Or is she prying into something she shouldn't be?

Sep 14, 2017

Episode 22 Jan 2016 The Fountain 4.4 Stars on 43 reviews on Amazon
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
A Man of Cloud Nine by Adam Dreese
The Broken Ones by Danielle L. Jensen

The Fountain
Careful what you wish for. It just might come true.
Ava Marshall, driven by a desire to learn more about her mother's past, moved across the country to attend St. Augustus. But her mom’s secrets will have to wait, because she finds herself instantly hated for her family’s connection to her new school and is forced to fight alone against a classmate who is setting Ava up to be expelled.

Fleeing campus, she takes a shortcut to her Gran’s house through the forbidden West Woods and discovers a mysterious fountain that has the power to grant a wish and change it all. But can she live with the consequences? Or will she end up breaking every school rule and risking the love of her life to make it right…


The West Woods on Sep 22nd
The West Woods
Courtney Wallis wants nothing more than to escape St. Augustus boarding school. After uncovering a well-kept secret about the school’s founder, Isaac Young, Courtney turns to the school’s magic to convince her dad to let her leave. Things take a turn when she meets Cole, who lives in the nearby town of Evergreen. He gives her hope that things might not be so bad. However, the school's fountain has other ideas, and binds Courtney to her ambition, no matter the cost.

As Courtney struggles to keep the magic from taking over, she and her friends get drawn into the mystery woven into the school’s fabric. Everything seems to lead back to the forbidden West Woods. Together, she and her friends seek out the spirits of the past to ask for help, and find themselves in much deeper than they’d bargained for. If they succeed, Courtney could be free of the magic. If they fail, she may never be the same.

Sep 7, 2017

Keeper of dragons, the prince returns, keeper of dragons book 1
By J.A. Culican
4.4 stars on 113 reviews
Amazon blurb:
A mystical calling.
On his 18th birthday, Cole learns that he is a dragon fated to save all that was deemed true.


Cole's life spirals into an uncontrollable battle for life or death. First, he learns that his family isn't really his own and his birth parents are dragons. With that legacy comes a special calling; devoting an eternity to protecting all true beings from creatures bent on controlling the Earth and bringing an end to dragons.


As the newly-minted Prince of Ochana, Cole is also the Keeper of Dragons and his first task is to keep the nefarious farro-fallen fairies-at bay. With no formal training, no control of his mahier-dragon magic, and fear like he's never experienced before, will Cole be able to reach outside of his human side and embrace his destiny in time to defeat the farros?

The Amazon preview has the Prolog, chapter 1 and most of chapter 2.
(READ the Chapters)

You've heard the blurb, so you know more about what is going than Cole does, even after the first chapter. Though I bought the ebook, I've read as much of the second chapter as is included in the preview, and Cole still doesn't know what he's in for.
I don't think the prolog gave us enough background to be considered a prolog and should have been called Chapter 1. A prolog should tell us information about the story or its characters that will enlighten us in subsequent chapters as to why they act as they do, or what has set up the plot. In my humble opinion, if there had to be a preview for this book, it should have shown us Cole's birth parents handing him off and giving us clues about their true nature and why they wouldn't be able to raise him safely in their kingdom. That's not the way this author works. They would rather hide information, perhaps for some great reveal, than give us clues about what is happening.
Between what we learn in the prolog and the first chapter, I think they could have been combined into one.
Dragging information out of a character annoys me. Characters should stop interupting others and let them speak. And I expect them to spill the beans and not feed me any of this, "You'll understand when we get where we're going."
"Cole, we're dragons. You're a dragon and we need to get going."
Are there still questions in the reader's mind? Of course. Cole now knows what we know from the blurb, but none of us know how this works and what will happen when he gets to dragon land.
So, what am I saying about this book's first chapters? I'm giving it 4 stars. It got a lot of good reviews. It's sitting at #6 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Interactive Adventures, so I feel there is potential for a good book. I would read on for a few more chapters to find out if the author creates any real conflict other than only refusing to tell us what's going on.

Aug 31, 2017

Wendy Terrien
"The Rampart Guards"
After his mom disappears, Jason Lex and his family move to a small town where he has no friends, no fun, no life. Things get worse when he’s chased by weird flying creatures that only he can see--Jason thinks he’s losing it.

But when Jason discovers new information about his family, he’s stunned to learn that creatures like Skyfish, Kappa, and the Mongolian Death Worm aren’t just stories on the Internet--they’re real and they live unseen alongside the human race. Many of these creatures naturally emit energy capable of incinerating humans. An invisible shield keeps these creatures hidden and protects the human race from their threatening force, but someone, or some thing, is trying to destroy it.

Unsure who he can trust, Jason is drawn into the fight to save the people closest to him, and he finds help in surprising places. Confronted with loss, uncertainty, and a devastating betrayal, Jason must make a gut-wrenching decision:

Who lives, and who dies.

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Aug 24, 2017

Under Different Stars, The Kricket Series, Book 1

By Amy A. Bartol

4.6 stars on 1230 reviews
December 2014
#424 in the paid Kindle store and #1 on three teen and Young Adult indices.

Amazon Blurb:
Kricket Hollowell never wished upon stars. She was too busy hiding in plain sight, eluding Chicago’s foster care system. As her eighteenth birthday approaches, she now eagerly anticipates the day she’ll stop running and finally find her place in the world.

That day comes when she meets a young Etharian soldier named Trey Allairis, who has been charged with coming to Earth to find Kricket and transport her to her true home. As danger draws close, he must protect her until she can wield the powers she cannot use on Earth…and he soon realizes that counting a galaxy of stars would be easier than losing this extraordinary girl.

Kyon knows the powerful depths of Kricket’s gifts—gifts he’ll control when he takes her for his tribe and leads the forces that will claim Ethar and destroy his enemies, starting with Trey Allairis. Now, Kricket faces the most difficult choice of her life: whether to wage a battle for survival or a fight for love.


(Read Chapter)
The first time I read through this chapter I was laying in bed and falling asleep. I found it well written, but I missed a lot of the detail of the story. Recording this chapter tonight, the details were much clearer.
I want to know who these three thugs are and how she is going to evade them, if she gets away at all. They are obviously from another world, the world Kricket comes from--they have matching eyes. She obviously doesn't remember this world. It's clear when they tell her she's a criminal and she is wanted for disertion.
How did she come to this world and why doesn't she have any memory of the former. Inquiring minds want to know. Read on to find out. I'm going to...

Aug 17, 2017

Before I get to the story I want to update, "One of us is Lying". I'm almost done listening on Audible, I have 56 minutes to go out of about 11 hours total. It's well recorded switching the point of veiw between the four main characters, each one narrated by a different actor. We've figured out who the murderer is and were in kind of a bonus thriller type ending. I still give it five stars for the writing and characterization, even though I was able to guess who the murder was about half way through. Try it, though. I think you'll like it, even if you figure it out like me.
Today's episode...
17 Marigold Lane, Prudence Penderhaus
R.M. Gilmore
4.7 Stars 26 reviews
Published in September of 2015
Here is the blurb:
I was just an ordinary weirdo until the day one word changed the course of my life forever.

I’d given up on life as I knew it, and in the blink of an eye, made a decision that would turn my world, and the town of Flintlock, on its butt.

Uncovering a hidden boy and a town secret kept buried for decades, I maneuvered through my numbered days with one goal in mind, but the sheriff, life, and my body had other plans.

My name is Prudence Penderhaus. I've never done anything remarkable. Never even bothered to look up. Until the day I found out I was dying.

The Amazon preview has all of the first chapter and a bit of the second. I couldn't find a good place to cut off in the middle of the first chapter, so I'm going to read the whole thing.
Here goes me reading the part of a teenage girl again...

(Read story)

My review.
I like Prudence. I think she has a lot of characteristics that will appeal to a broad amount of readers. She's an underdog who is down on her luck having just received the bad news about cancer. When insult is added to injury and she gets bombed by the big gulp she decides to take destiny into her hands and investigates the spooky house.
If you've listened to a few of my author interviews, you probably know that I have a son with autism. Cassius sounds very much like my son, except Desmond is anything but organized. All of our dvd's end up in stacks around the living room. He does memorize and recite dialog from his favorite shows, though his favorite is knowing which studios and production companies make the movies. We were recently at Despicable Me 3 and as the theater went dark when the movie was about to start, Desmond exclaimed, "Here it comes, the Universal Logo". And he was right, the logo for Universal Studios spread across the screen.'
In this story, I'm interested to know how Prudence's desease progresses, how her friendship with Cassius progresses, and I'd like to know how they kept everyone in the house so well hidden.

Thanks for listening to the Young Adult Books podcast, this podcast is for you...

Aug 10, 2017

Small town cults linger around our communities. They’re hidden among us, picking up believers and working to grow strong, though most remain invisible to us. What would happen if a heavily religious cult took over one of our towns? How much damage would it cause us? Casper is an exile from his home, but when he finds out his brother has died, he returns to save his family from the ravenous followers who have taken over. Returning for his sister and mother, the young man must fight against the brainwashed folks he used to call neighbors. Can he save them? Or will his return cause the demise of the rest of his family? Welcome to the cold walls of Brinwood.
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > Two hours or more (65-100 pages) > Teen & Young Adult

From the Author
When I first thought of Brinwood, I actually envisioned it as a graphic novel. I wanted to write a book someone could pick up, get hooked, and finish all in one day. My main focus was entertainment so I focused on creating engaging characters, limiting exposition, and increasing the tempo. It amazed me how quickly I finished the first draft. The characters came to life and started acting on their own. It felt like I was watching a movie and transcribing the action scenes. Of course the book would never have been completed without the help of my editor. I owe most of my success to their diligent work.
I hope you enjoy this tale.
Your support truly means the world to me.
About the Author
R.K. Gold is an internationally published poet and novelist from Buffalo, NY. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Literature and has appeared in over a dozen publications since he began seriously pursuing writing in January 2014. His influences range from traditional American writers and poets like Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, and Kurt Vonnegut, to pop icons like Alan Moore, Stan Lee, and Stephen King. A writer, an environmentalist, and a dog lover, R.K. Gold hopes to make novels and philanthropy his full time profession in the future.

Lost in the Clouds
Neville Canton was about as average as any man can be. He had a mediocre job, a pleasant wife, an on-going feud with his sister, and an average case of cancer that took his life.

But death wasn’t the end of his problems and even average people have to learn to overcome.

Now trapped in a cloud between the living and the dead, he must find his way to the afterlife.

With the help of a spiritual guide he navigates through seven challenges; seven tasks to sever his final connections to the mortal world.

If he fails, he forfeits his eternity and the consequences may be worse than death.

Aug 3, 2017

One of us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
It has 4.4 stars on 141 reviews.
It was published on May 30th of this year, 2017 by Random House.
Here is the blurb:

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

The Book is broken into three parts, Simon Says, Hide and Seek, and Truth or Dare.
Each part is divided into chapters and it looks as if they are named after the point of veiw character narrating that chapter.
The preview has the first one and a half chapters, for 5% of the total book. I'm going to read you all the preview. You will understand why, after I read it...
So, here it goes....

What do you think? Pretty intense, right?
This is set up like a classic mystery with a dead body right off the bat, and a number of solidly potential murders. I'm going to read on to find out, "who dunnit".
Honestly, I bought this ebook for $10.99 and I'm probably going to get this on audio for Lisa to listen to. I think she would love it, too.

Thanks for listening. I hope you've found a new book to read or listen to, and I'f you'd like to help me buy some more books.....

Jul 27, 2017

Ready Player One has 4.6 Stars on 12,589
Published by Broadway books in August of 2011
#55 in the paid Kindle store
1, 1, and 2 in three science fiction indices.
It's Coming out as a movie in March of 2018 directed by Steven Spielburg
At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

Am I going to read further?
Of course I am. As a science fiction nerd, an online RPG player, and a YA fan, this one is right up my alley. This sounds like an exciting story with a lot of potential, and enough people, including my daughter, reccomending it that it should be a pretty safe bet I will like it.

Jul 20, 2017

Hannah has a pretty amazing story -- she started writing her book when she was just 12 years-old. Fast forward, 8 years later (today), Hannah not only had her book published, but it recently won a gold award in the prestigious 2017 Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Franklin Awards™. She is still pinching herself! The first-time author won in the Children’s/YA-New Voices category.

Kirkus Reviews called Ascension: “an exciting and fast-paced YA paranormal romance with an intriguing plot, well-drawn settings, and solid character development.” Ascension also won first place in 2016 for Young Adult Fiction in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.

Now a 20 year-old college student in Tennessee, Hannah is already in the editing stages of the next book in the trilogy (Due out Jan 18).

When she’s not thinking about hybrid human-vampires and the witches they love, or writing a "Geisha-inspired" Bardugo cocktail list, Hannah leads a creative writing group at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, volunteers for various nonprofits, and transcribes “snake handler sermons” for the college’s special collections department.

Here is a recent interview with Hannah from BEA:



Life is supposed to be perfect after Cheyenne Lane's Ascension ceremony, but it turns out awakening her vampire half only complicates things more. Burdened with a patronizing family and constant surveillance by the Vampire Council, Cheyenne welcomes a summer vacation to the magical city of New Orleans. But Cheyenne quickly realizes that she can't escape her problems, no matter where she goes. After seventeen years of fearing exposing her secret to humans, Cheyenne's world is rocked when she starts to fall for a witch named Eli. When he shows Cheyenne how complex the world really is, she must accept that everything she thought she knew about being a Deuxsang is a lie. As if all this isn't problem enough, Cheyenne finds herself the pawn of a conspiracy hatched by those who should be protecting her. Her whole life Cheyenne is told what to believe and who to trust. Now, she's forced to choose for herself who and what is right. No matter which choice she makes, it will cost her everything.

Jul 13, 2017

Caravel by Stephanie Garber
This book was chosen by the Goodreads "YA Book Club" Book of the Month for July.
I thought it might be nice to try a book recommended by such an auspicious group.
4.3 on 461 reviews
Flatiron Books (January 31, 2017)
#6,586 Paid in Kindle Store
3,3,8 in three Teen indices.

Instant New York Times bestseller!
#1 IndieNext Pick!
Entertainment Weekly Must List (Grade: A-)!

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.

“The Hunger Games meets The Night Circus. Grade: A-.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Impressive, original, wondrous.” —USA Today
“Spellbinding.” —US Weekly
“Magnificent.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“I lost myself in this world.” —Sabaa Tahir, author of An Ember in the Ashes
“Beautifully written.” —Renée Ahdieh, author of The Wrath and the Dawn
“Shimmers with magic.” —Marie Rutkoski, author of The Winner’s Curse
“Darkly enchanting.” —Kiersten White, author of And I Darken
“Decadent.” —Roshani Chokshi, author of The Star-Touched Queen
“Like stepping into a living dream.” —Stacey Lee, author of Outrun the Moon
“Destined to capture imaginations.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Ideal for fans of The Night Circus, Stardust, and The Hunger Games.” —School Library Journal

The first 2 chapters and a pinch of the third are in the Amazon preview and I'm going to read you chapters one and two.

What I liked about these two chapters.
I thought the first chapter was unique and gave us a lot of background and character development without burdening us with a preview. The story obviously begins at the second chapter, but we understand so much from reading Scarlett's letters from the Conquered Isle or Trisde to to Master Legend.

Jul 6, 2017

Hidden Wings by Cameo Renae appears to be the first in a series of five books. The author has a number of other books as well.
4.3 650 review
7842 in the kindle store
2,5, and 5 in three teen fantasy/religeon/spirituality
Published in Dec 2013 (Staying power)


****Descent, a Hidden Wings Novella, is included in this version of Hidden Wings****

What happens when Darkness and Light collide?

Seventeen is a life changing age for Emma Wise.
As her family's sole survivor in a car crash, she is left with a broken arm, and a few scrapes and bruises. But these are only outward marks; inside, her heart is broken and the pieces scattered.

Whisked away to Alaska, to an aunt she’s never met, Emma starts over. Secrets unveil themselves and now…she doesn't even know who or what she is.

A centuries old prophecy places Emma in the heart of danger. Creatures of horrifying and evil proportions are after her, and it will take Emma, her aunt, and six, gorgeously, captivating Guardians to keep her safe. But, if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday... things will change.

Bonus Material: Hidden Wings Inspired Poem by Amber McCallister.

Amazon Preview has the first three chapters. I am going to read you the first two.

My questions from the first two chapters:
Why is she healing so fast?
Will her two good friends play a continueing role in the rest of the novel? I like that she has two nerdy friends who have a lot of personality on their own. Emma is moving far away, from Southern California all the way to Alaska. Though, from the cover blurb, I don't have a lot of hope for that.
I also wonder about the aunt. Having absolutely no knowledge about the aunt, and then having her contact the state so quickly after the accident stretches my suspension of disbelief to an uncomfortable length. I'll read on, but I'll be looking for some explanation about their relationship.

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