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.
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?
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 email@example.com
Find Under the Never Sky at Amazon.com
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:
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.