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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Sep 29, 2020

The Amazon blurb and preview of the best selling book, "Find Layla"

Sep 3, 2020

The sample section from the Amazon KDP page

Aug 17, 2020

I read the Amazon Review portion of the book and give my recommendation.

Jan 25, 2018

This is episode number 99. I'd already purchased a book for the big one hundred, but I've decided to call it quits, again, with this one.
I hate to say goodbye. I love podcasting, meeting fascinating authors and introducing people to the first chapters of great books. But, I'm not getting the feedback to keep going. It got harder and harder to get authors to interview. I'm not sure why that was, if it was their fear of being interviewed, or my self doubts about whether they would really want to be on the podcast. Maybe I should have been more assertive. In addition, subscriptions and downloads have decreased steadily over the last two months. With the podcast taking up half of the creative time I have each week, I think I should focus on getting some of my novels edited and published.
If you're interested in finding out what I'm working on, you can find me at, on facebook at Philip Carroll Author, or you can contact me directly at

This weeks episode is:

Turtles all the way down by John Green, author of "The Fault in Our Stars" and other very popular novels.
I chose this one because it was chosen as the number 2 Reader's choice on Goodreads for Young Adult Fiction. It was 7,000 votes behind number one (The Hate U Give) with at 52K and a whole 30,000 ahead of number 3 "One of Us is Lying" which I reviewed a few months ago.

It has 4.5 star average on 695 reviews on Amazon.
It was published on Oct 10, 2017 by Dutton Books for Young Readers

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
#2 in Books > Teens > Literature & Fiction > Coming of Age
#2 in Books > Teens > Literature & Fiction > Social & Family Issues > Depression & Mental Illness
#2 in Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Mental Health > Anxiety Disorders

Here's the blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

The Amazon preview has the first chapter and a bit of the second. I'm going to read you all that is included:


John Green creates an intricate voice in the thoughts of Aza. I can see why he is so popular. He's created Aza to be witty, thoughtful and self reflective, just as teenagers would like to picture themselves. Probably more witty and self reflective than any actual teenager, but it makes for a fascinating character in a book.

Aza really worries about her microflora and feels outnumbered. If she was truly thoughtful and maybe a little more analytical, she would realize she's only outnumbered by count, not by volume. By volume, the aliens are way outnumbered. But, that's not the point. The point is her anxiety. Her anxiety appears entertaining. Maybe Green is using it as a gimmick, maybe he is truly concerned about teens and their anxieties. My teenage daughter has crushing anxiety that shuts her down in class, but she doesn't bounce out of it with witting interchanges with classmates.

These first two chapters barely introduce us to the story and if it wasn't for the blurb, this little bit that I read would hardly motivate you to read on. But add the blurb to the author's immaculate writing and immersive style and you're pretty much guaranteed a good read in, "Turtles All the Way Down".

Thanks for listening, and I'll miss hanging out with you next week.

Jan 18, 2018

A Court of Thorns and Roses
Sarah J. Moss

A Court of Wings and Ruin (05/02/2017)

Published May 5, 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,758 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#14 in Books > Teens > Romance > Fantasy
#22 in Books > Teens > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery
#23 in Books > Teens > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Fantasy


Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R.R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin--one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin--and his world--forever.

First two chapters and a bit of the third. I'm going to read you the first two.

Here's why I like these two first chapters. We don't have to wait for action to start. The protagonist's peril is right there at the begining. We learn immidiately that whether or not she finds food, could determine whether she, her sister's and her father live another week.

Information about who the family is and how they found themselves in such dire straights is introduced to the story slowly and naturally. There are no big info dumps of back story. However, by the end of the second chapter, we know who Feyre is. How her two sisters behave and fit into the plot, and how she feels about her father, his fall from wealth, and his loss of health.

On the other hand, I still can't picture Feyre. The only description we've had of her so far is that she has the same hair color as her sisters. Unless I missed it, we've been given no clue about her height and weight, how she wears her hair, or her well developed muscled that give her the strength to draw a bow heavy enough to put a killing shaft into a very large wolf.

I can see from the author's literary skill why the trilogy has done so well, and why the third book rated first place for 2017 Goodreads reader's choice awards.

Thanks for listening, and we'll see you next week for episode # 99, a review of John Green's book, Turtles All the Way Down.

Jan 11, 2018

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
4.8 on 1242 reviews

Published Feb 27, 2017
675 in the paid Kindle store
Voted #1 for Young Adult Fiction in the Goodreads Readers Choice awards for 2017
(Next week I'm going to review number 2. The the following week #1 in Young Adult Fantasy.)


Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.


Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books.


What I like about this chapter.
The characters are realistic and natural. They're ethnic but not over the top.
Starr is a great protagonist. She's torn between two lives. The suburban prep school, her friends, and life there. And the urban reality of her home and those she's grown up with.

I wish that the preview had been longer so that I could have shared more of the plot with you, but I give this a five star recomendation to go and read further. It's not for the faint of heart or those who are offended by profanity.

Thanks for listening. Come back next week for more from the Goodreads readers choice awards.

Jan 4, 2018

To the Falls Book one of the falls trilogy

Heather Renee

4.6 stars on 120 reviews
Published April 29, 2017

Book 2 From The Falls, Published on August 4th and has 4.7 stars on 94 reviews

Book 3 Embracing the Falls, Published on on December 29th, just a few days ago. It has a 4.9 star average on 56 reviews.

This author has her street team in place to get that many reviews up so quickly. Good for her. She appears to be a self published author and making smart moves. She has published her entire trilogy in one year and all three books are in the top 55K for the paid kindle store. That means she is selling at least one of each book a day. That may not sound like a lot, but for an indie author, it's a good start.

Heather Renee is an indie author that lives in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest in Oregon. She writes YA Fantasy that has a mixture of suspense, humor and a little romance.

When Heather's not writing, she is spending time with her beautiful daughter and amazing husband. Two cats, and a dog who loves the snow, complete their household. On weekends if she doesn't have a book in her face, you can find Heather going on different adventures with her family. Her favorite being hiking to the top of Multnomah Falls.


Kaliah "Kali" Atwater is awaiting two things, finishing sophomore year in college and her upcoming twentieth birthday. The day before Kali’s birthday, she finds out that the dream she's had every night for almost a year of a beautiful land, isn't a fantasy at all. It's her birth place.

Every twenty years a new generation of Guardians return to Arvata to bring life back to their world and renew the magic of the Falls. Now it’s Kali’s turn, but dark magic has made its way into her new home preventing the Falls from replenishing.

Kali must accept the role assigned to her by the Fates or let Arvata crumble. Can she and her friends save Arvata in time? Will new love make her stronger? Or will the darkness finally win?

Only the Fates know for sure...

Things that pulled me out of the story. It was hard to read out loud. Some of the sentences seemed inside out to me. I had to record some of them four times to get them to flow right. I don't know if that is a local way of speaking where the author comes from, but, as many great authors do, she might want to read her writing out loud to see how it flows, or maybe have her editor do it.

I wasn't sure out some of the tenses she used. She talked about how the dream had changed "this night" when I felt like she was relating something that had happened in the past. To me it should have been, "last night". No biggie, I know, but it pulled me out. Also, she talks about how she will have her last final that day, and later she said she didn't have a chance to eat between finals. Again, no big deal, but it pulled me out to wonder how that worked.

She also spoke about how relieved she was once her final was over, how her whole body showed it, then she says she can't wait to get back into the water to relieve some of the stress she is feeling. That left we feeling ambiguous.

The parents are young without a wrinkle on their faces, but a few pages later they have worry lines. I think the author was saying they were frowning in worry, but having worry lines, in my mind, is something more akin to wrinkles, which they didn't have. Maybe I'm picking nits, but it took me out of the story and I think a more astute editor should have caught the contradiction in words.

Again. The story sounds familiar. A person coming of age to find that they are a guardian over a people or a planet. The writing was good enough to keep me interested, though, I would have liked a reason to keep reading earler on. If this is your type of story, it looks like the author has a strong following and then there are two more books to enjoy.


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...

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