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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Now displaying: November, 2017


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.