14-year-old Feather Tucker has the best mom in the world—funny, clever, loving, movie-star beautiful…and the fact that she weighs 500 pounds and never leaves the house? Feather can’t imagine life any other way.
But when she comes home on New Year’s Eve to find her mother in a life-threatening diabetic coma, she’s determined to nurse her mother back to health—and fast. Yet, as she desperately attempts to get through to her mother and enabling father, Feather realizes there might be more to her mother’s overeating than meets the eye.
Meanwhile, Feather’s crushing hard on the new boy in town, training for the swimming championships, and navigating her life-long friendship with lovable Jake…all while attempting to keep her pet goat Houdini from running away—again.
As friends old and new join Feather’s journey to save her mother, Feather begins to learn that we all bear the weight of our pasts in different ways.
VIRGINIA MACGREGOR is currently Head of Creative Writing at Wellington College. She is the author of What Milo Saw and The Return of Norah Wells. She has taught at boarding schools in the UK and the US and currently lives in Concord, NH.
Virginia Macgregor was brought up in Germany, France and England by a mother who never stopped telling stories. From the moment she was old enough to hold a pen, Virginia set about writing her own, often late into the night - or behind her Maths textbook at school. Virginia was named after two great women, Virginia Wade and Virginia Woolf, in the hope she would be a writer and a tennis star. Her early years were those of a scribbling, rain-loving child who prayed for lightning to strike her tennis coach. After studying at Oxford, Virginia started writing regularly while working as an English Teacher and Housemistress. Virginia lives in Berkshire with her husband, Hugh.
Don't forget to breathe by Cathrina Constantine
I'm giving this episode the Explicit tag for Language, sex, and drug
Published in Feb of 2015 it has 4.4 star average on 88 reviews.
Cover copy, blurb
Sixteen-year-old Leocadia arrives home from school to find her mom’s bloody body. Unaware that the killer still lingers, she rushes to her mother’s side, only to be grabbed from behind and then everything fades to black.
After a year of retrograde amnesia and battling personal demons, Leo’s dreams are getting worse—she’s starting to remember. More bodies are discovered and they seem to be oddly linked to her mom’s unsolved homicide.
When Leo allows her friend, Henry to drag her into the haunted Lucien Mansion, misty ghosts appear, ghosts that just might lead to her mother’s murderer.
Will Leo let her memories threaten her into a relapse or, will she fight to find her mother’s killer – only to become his next victim?
***2016 New Apple Medalist Award Winner for YA/Mystery-Thriller***
***Literary Classics 2016 GOLD AWARD***
***Received The Literary Classic's Seal of Approval***
***2015 INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARD***
~ In Recognition of Excellence in Writing ~
However, she loses all Excellence awards do to the Uncerimoniously clause, which states that using that 'word which will not be spoken' within the first three pages of any novel negates any and all excellence awards for said novel.
Not really. But if you've followed this podcast for any time, you know how I feel about that word.
The author has three other books listed on Amazon, two with reader's award symbols on their covers as well, and one that describes her as a best selling author. All of her books appear to have been published in 2015.
The Amazon preview has four full chapters and a bit of the fifth.
I'm reading you the first two chapters, about 17 pages.
(Read the chapters)
I'm giving this book four out of five stars, which is a good recommendation to read further.
I am not docking it a star for sex, language, or drugs. Realistically, the average teenage boy thinks of little besides sex. These are real characteristics of teenage life. If you don't want these things in your literature, you'll be glad you listened to this podcast so that you can skip this book.
I like the thriller aspects of the story--the unsolved mystery of Leo's mother's death, the subsequent murders, and the possibilities of ghosts--this sounds like it could be an exciting story. And what's up with Henry anyway, is he a werewolf or something?
What brought this down from five stars in my opinion is purple prose. Like the use of the word, "Unceremoniously", there were other phrases which sounded "cool" which upon closer evaluation left me less than impressed.
Such as: When he raised his head from my shouldered nook, I glared at his ambiguous silhouette.
I know what she's trying to say, I just don't think she is actually saying it. What is a 'shouldered nook'? And 'an ambiguous silhouette' doesn't paint me a clear picture of what she is glaring at.
Then there's: He gravitated his hand along my shoulder.
A resigned breath splintered the seam of my lips.
A blood curdling scream scraped into my bones.
Triggering tears to trample over my face.
An uneasy zing cramped my bones.
Dragging in a distended breath
He cuffed his hand into his pocket. I don't know how you cuff you hand. This may actually be a typo that was meant to say, cupped his hand, but a spell check wouldn't pick up cuffed as incorrect. There was another typo where the author says "His slips" instead of "His lips".
I googled the name Leocadia and found that it is an actual name dating back to the late Roman period. There was a Saint Leocadia who was a third century Spanish martyr. I guess the author likes her character names as obscure as her word usage.
Anyway, I like the characterization. I like Leo and I think we can grow with her as she discovers more about the murder of her mother and others in the neighborhood. I'd like to learn a little more about Henry. Is he as good a friend as he thinks he is, or is he really a little more than an acquaintance.
I think her father is a little more realistic than the overbearing father in "Dark Creations", though a touch to easy going, considering his wife was brutally murdered. Maybe there is a reason why that we will learn as we continue on with the story.
There's only one way to find out. Well, no, there are two ways. Someone who reads it can tell you, or you can read it yourself.
The choice is yours.
A special thanks goes out to James T. Wood for being my first patreon supporter. I'm sorry about the delay of your recognition. I'm still learning how to use the patreon page. Again, my deepest thanks for helping me to buy books. I bought my share of them this week. I have a book to review, but it took reading the first few chapters of three other books before I got to this one.
Maybe I should make that my secret Patreon subscriber reward...I'll tell you the names of the books I didn't like. I've said before that I'm trying to make this a positive podcast where I tell you about why I like the book I'm reviewing this week, rather than telling you what I didn't like about the books I gave up on. I mean really, you don't want to listen to a half hour of a book that you won't want to read after I'm done giving it a negative review.
So. the three books I passed on, one I didn't like because the first fifteen pages was just telling the reader about the cute reasons why each of the characters had their given nickname. No plot. No conflict in fifteen pages, just story background. That doesn't work for me.
The second book was just boring and the third had constant unexpected point of view switches. You might call it omniscient view point, I call it confusing and frustrating.
Anyway, enough about what I don't like.
This week I'm going to talk about Dark Creations: Gabriel Rising by Jennifer and Christopher Martucci. They have a ton of books out, and this book is the first of six in a paranormal romance. It was first published in December of 2013. It has 4 out of 5 stars on 263 reviews. It only has 140 pages in the first book, but I just picked up a set of the first 3 on Kindle for free.
Here is the cover copy:
When Gabriel James mysteriously appears in seventeen-year-old Melissa Martin’s English class, she is not prepared for what she experiences, how she feels the first time they speak. With otherworldly attractiveness, gallantry, charm and intelligence, he is everything boys her age are not.
But Gabriel has a secret, a dark secret.
His secret threatens to rip them apart and unleash an evil on the world so horrific, humanity will be forever changed.
In this deeply romantic and captivating young adult paranormal romance novel, Gabriel and Melissa will risk everything – their very lives – to guard their love. Together, they will be forced to confront mankind’s darkest creation.
The Amazon preview has the prolog and most of the first chapter. I'm going to read you everything they gave:
(Read the chapters)
So, this is where the Amazon preview ends. The chapter goes for another few pages, so I know what happens next.
What do you think it will be?
Will this Gabriel mentioned in the cover copy be there to intervene?
What was the yellow eyed beast in the prolog? Was that Gabriel, or something else?
Is that monster waiting at Melissa's home to great her?
There were allusions to the prolog in the first chapter, the unusual darkness, the strange wind. What did it mean?
I like the way the authors set up the conflicts.
I always say that good thrillers take smart characters making dumb choices. I like Melissa's character. She's obviously a smart young woman, and I know we've been told that her friend talked he into going out with Kevin. She should have bailed on him as soon as he insisted on going to the Rec center. But then we wouldn't have had any of the fun conflict about shutting him down in the car. Plus, I give Kevin better than even odds that he will turn up dead some time very soon. (I haven't read that far. This is just my speculation.)
You haven't met the father yet, but I have, and I think he's a little over the top when it comes to protectiveness. But then again, there isn't a lot of conflict if he's understanding and settles with "lesson learned" about Kevin.
One thing about the authors' writing style that I find distracting is the avoidance of contractions. I know there are regions of the US, like in New York and around there where they don't use contractions. Maybe this is a regional characteristic of the authors. I have a friend from New York who writes like that and we've had to learn to agree to disagree when critiquing each others writing. To me it make everything sound too emphatic.
Anyway, I give Dark Creations a strong recommendation to read further. It looks like a thrilling ride.
"I can’t trust my own mind, or my memory, so I’m writing all of this down… There’s been a
murder in this town and I’m determined to get to the bottom of it."
Aaron Grayling hates summer. It’s a time of heat and humidity in the dreary town of Meriville.
It’s also the time when the bad dreams come, which have been intensifying since the death of his
father. He hardly seems to find the space to breathe…
Until the fateful day he finds a diary in the woods. Penned by the mysterious X, it hints at a
shadowy world of murder that seems too true for the boy to ignore.
Torn between school and a murder investigation, Aaron finds himself an unlikely companion in
X. Can they stop the crimewave from hitting Meriville before it's too late? And will it help Aaron
understand the turbulent goings-on in his head?
Hidden Lives is a powerful novel of friendship and loss, and staying true to who you
are against the odds.
Kestral Gaian is an award-winning broadcaster, scriptwriter, musician, and performer. Best
known for their work presenting regular radio series The Geekly Chronicles and for their often performed
choral compositions, they have also published two poetry collections - Silent Poet and
Counterweights - before breaking into longform writing with their debut novel Hidden Lives.
Having trained as an animator and worked in software before moving to writing and the arts,
Kestral's view on the world is eclectic and thoughtful. Their unique views on how technology
impacts human nature, their charity work, and tireless campaigning for equality has led to them
being invited to guest lecture at a number of top institutions across the world, including Eton
College, Cambridge, and Université de Bordeaux.
Outside of work, Kestral is a keen cook and even more keen consumer of food. They can be found
on Twitter and more of their work is available at their website