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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: young adult fiction, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di, Book 3

Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di, Book 3 | Storytime Standouts

Storytime Standouts guest contributor @1prncs writes about Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di, Book 3Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di, Book 3 written by Catherine Egan
Young Adult fiction published by Coteau Books









Read our interview with Catherine Egan

The lengthy title of Catherine Egan’s third book, The Last Days of Tian Di: Bone, Fog, Ash, and Star, alludes to the depth and complexity that is wrapped up within the story. Like the characters of this book, I felt myself immersed in unfamiliar, amazing worlds, pulled back and forth between them by the common thread: Eliza. A story of friendship, loyalty, strength, and finding the truth, Egan isn’t afraid to make her characters suffer to reach reward. In fact, it is understood and stated that “there is loss and gain with every act”. I think what was most powerful, for me, was the way this book echos life. There are consequences to every action and we do the very best we can at the time, but then we must go from there, from the result of our decisions. It is a heavy burden on the main character’s shoulders, knowing that the choices she makes will lead to her own heavy heart. But I think it is an important message for readers, particularly the young adult ones who are, in some ways, facing a similar journey. At the age of sixteen, they are making choices that feel right at the time, but have long term consequences that need to be weighed and judged. Sometimes, life really is choosing the lesser of two evils and this is a lesson that Eliza faces constantly.

In this third book of her series, Catherine Egan pulls the reader in with intense action right from the start. When Eliza’s friend, Charlie, becomes the victim of an assassination attempt, just as she’s trying to tell him she has feelings for him that go beyond friendship, the reader is immediately hooked. Aside from the action, the magical realism, the vivid imagery that drops you right inside of the book, the characters are connectable.

I realized within the first chapter that I was drawn in because when the first major event happens, I literally gasped out loud. At that point I thought, wow, I already care about the characters and I can totally see the scene. As a writer and a reader, I know that this is not an easy combination to present on the page. From there, Egan takes us on a journey to save her friend that is met with seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Like the title, the story seemed to always have one more tangent. Whether you’re thinking that they cannot possibly escape the next vicious attack or they are finally safe, the reader is constantly surprised. The term magical realism is an interesting one to me: if done poorly, you can distance yourself from the book because it’s fantasy and you know that everything is okay. If done properly, as Egan has done, you can forget that transforming, shape-shifting, and spell-binding aren’t a possibility. I saw the characters as regular teenagers– Eliza with too much responsibility on her young shoulders, Nell with the exam she desperately wanted to ace, and Charlie with the youthful irritation of someone stuck in a situation they cannot control.

Even in the magical, there is a sense of the real: the faeries’ overall disdain of humans, the faery mother who can’t abide by her son, Jalo helping a human because he’s in love with her, the oracle grandmother, saved by the ancients, who shares her knowledge in riddles, the fight for power between the Mancers, and each character trying to choose between good and evil, trying to find their way out of a situation that is bigger than themselves.Through it all, we are reminded, as are the characters, that best laid plans often go astray and the things we truly believe we want and need in life are not necessarily what we end up getting. Accepting that and moving forward anyway is not easy, but it can be done, as Eliza shows us.

Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di Book 3 at Amazon.com

Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di, Book 3 at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts - Raising Children Who Love to Read

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2. The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick

red sheetWhat if you woke up one morning a totally different person? Even more intriguing–you think you were a major jerk, but you don’t know why. Oh, and then you have a strong desire to tie a red sheet around your neck and begin rescuing trapped kittens out of trees and helping old ladies across the street.

The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick is a fascinating young adult novel that creates a unique “what if?” scenario. Bryan Dennison wakes up one morning and he’s a totally different person. Once a superjock, self-centered bully, the new Bryan is respectful to his mother, neighborly, and working hard at school. He’s also attracted to Scott Beckett, the former victim of his bullying, even though he can’t remember much about his relationship with Scott prior to his sudden change. As Bryan struggles to put the pieces together of who he used to be, Scott is not interested in anything the new and improved Bryan has to offer.

I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like this before. It is superb. Kerick puts together an intriguing novel where the main character shares his story the way in which it unfolded in front of him. What happened to him is so powerful, he must share it. The reader is asking the same questions that Bryan is considering at each point in the story. What happened before his change? Why was Bryan such an obnoxious jerk? What caused him to change? Why can’t he remember the way he acted toward Scott Beckett?  And once everything is revealed, the reader might be more shocked than Bryan was.

My only nitpick is that there was too much swearing for my taste. It might be realistic, but I don’t care for it. The same story could be told with that aspect toned down and still have a great impact.

The Red Sheet is an excellent novel about bullying, being comfortable in your own skin, seeking forgiveness and being able to forgive. Its message is inspiring. Its plot unique. I think this is going to be a very popular book within its target market and beyond.

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Mia Kerick’s Web Site:
http://miakerick.com/

Mia Kerick’s Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/mia.kerick

Mia Kerick’s Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6474518.Mia_Kerick?from_search=true

Mia Kerick’s YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a1Q093gJ1E

Mia Kerick’s Blog:
http://miakerick.com/blog/

The Red Sheet Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20619717-the-red-sheet

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribute-Books-Blog-Tours/242431245775186

The Red Sheet blog tour site:
http://theredsheetblogtour.blogspot.com/

Prices/Formats: $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Genre: Young Adult
Pages:
190
Release:
February 20, 2014
Publisher:
Harmony Ink Press
ISBN:
9781627987219


Amazon buy link:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IJQS6KS?tag=tributebooks-20

Barnes and Noble buy link:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-sheet-mia-kerick/1118710756?ean=9781627987158

Dreamspinner Press buy link:
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4725

All Romance buy link:

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-theredsheet-1404989-149.html

 

miaMia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

My themes I always write about:
Sweetness. Unconventional love, tortured/damaged heroes- only love can save them

Chance to win a $25 Amazon.com gift card (or PayPal cash)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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3. Book Spotlight: Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

I’ll be focusing on graphic novels this week. Hope you enjoy it.

seconds

The highly anticipated new standalone full-color graphic novel from Bryan Lee O’Malley, author and artist of the hugely bestselling Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series

Katie’s got it pretty good. She’s a talented young chef, she runs a successful restaurant, and she has big plans to open an even better one. Then, all at once, progress on the new location bogs down, her charming ex-boyfriend pops up, her fling with another chef goes sour, and her best waitress gets badly hurt. And just like that, Katie’s life goes from pretty good to not so much. What she needs is a second chance. Everybody deserves one, after all—but they don’t come easy. Luckily for Katie, a mysterious girl appears in the middle of the night with simple instructions for a do-it-yourself do-over:

1. Write your mistake
2. Ingest one mushroom
3. Go to sleep
4. Wake anew

And just like that, all the bad stuff never happened, and Katie is given another chance to get things right. She’s also got a dresser drawer full of magical mushrooms—and an irresistible urge to make her life not just good, but perfect. Too bad it’s against the rules. But Katie doesn’t care about the rules—and she’s about to discover the unintended consequences of the best intentions.

From the mind and pen behind the acclaimed Scott Pilgrim series comes a madcap new tale of existential angst, everyday obstacles, young love, and ancient spirits that’s sharp-witted and tenderhearted, whimsical and wise.

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (July 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345529375
ISBN-13: 978-0345529374

PURCHASE HERE!


0 Comments on Book Spotlight: Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley as of 9/16/2014 3:08:00 AM
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4. Book Spotlight: The Watchers: Knight of Light by Deirdra Eden

watchersAll the training in Heaven couldn’t prepare me for the war on earth, nor for the love, loss, or loneliness humans feel. There are things worse than death, and every last one of them is hunting people like us. Even though we all feel human at times, we must remember, we are not them, we are their watchers.

In England, 1270 A.D., Auriella (pronounced yurr-ee-ella) flees her village after being accused of witchcraft. Pursued by nightmarish creatures, she struggles to accept the truth about her humanity. Filled with fairies, dwarves, pixies, dragons, demons, and monsters, Knight of Light is an enthralling tale that will capture the imaginations of readers young and old.

The Watchers Series has been described as Braveheart meets Supernatural. The mythology for the series is based on many theological texts from dozens of sects with correlating themes. Ancient writings include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Traditional Apocrypha, the Pearl of Great Price and the Kabbalah. The Watchers are supernatural beings in human form whose duty it is to protect and guard mankind from the armies of darkness. Unfortunately, as the Book of Enoch mentions, some of these Watchers go bad.

Although the mythology is based on these texts, Deirdra Eden’s, The Watcher’s Series, is written in a traditional fairytale style with a young girl’s discovery of incredible, but dangerous powers within herself, a cast of humorous side-kicks, a quest for greater self-discovery and purpose, and villains of epic proportions.

Paperback: 205 pages
Publisher: Brigham Distributing (July 14, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0996015809
ISBN-13: 978-0996015806

 

Watch the intense new trailer!

Amazon  Barnes and Noble  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads  Wattpad  Pinterest


0 Comments on Book Spotlight: The Watchers: Knight of Light by Deirdra Eden as of 9/10/2014 11:30:00 PM
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5. Book Spotlight: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

The Lil’ Diva wanted to read this one so badly, the librarian sped up getting their copy into the system so that she could borrow it. Have any of you read it?

stayJust listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.

Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (April 6, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 014241543X
ISBN-13: 978-0142415436

 

For interesting facts about the author, visit her website at http://gayleforman.com/


2 Comments on Book Spotlight: If I Stay by Gayle Forman, last added: 9/8/2014
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6. Anthony Lane on Young Adult Fiction: a generalized and generally disturbing definition of the form

Generalized definitions of anything—or anyone—are provocative, sure. They get the readers' ire up. Which is to say they attract more readers. I am sure that Anthony Lane of The New Yorker (a terrific if mostly acerbic reviewer) knows that YA fiction comes in many hues and forms and flavors, and that it is fed by many ideals and many wild imaginations, many time periods, many themes, and a full array of characters and landscapes.

But here, in Lane's review of the movie "If I Stay," based on the Gayle Forman novel, he issues a standardizing decree.
Young-adult fiction: what a peculiar product it is, sold and consumed as avidly as the misery memoir and the self-help book, and borrowing sneakily from both. One can see the gap in the market. What are literate kids meant to do with themselves, or with their itchy brains, as they wander the no man's land between Narnia and Philip Roth? The ideal protagonist of the genre is at once victimized and possessed of decisive power—someone like Mia, the heroine of Gayle Forman's "If I Stay," which has clung grimly to the Times best-seller list, on and off, for twenty weeks. And the ideal subject is death, or, as we should probably call it, the big sleepover.
Oh, the blogs/articles/talks that will erupt from this. Oh. Or? Perhaps we who write young adult fiction that is not part misery memoir and not self-help book, not, indeed, any single one thing, grow weary of the castigating, the easy sarcasm, the sneak and overt attacks?

Let others stomp their feet and say what they will. We've got work to do.



0 Comments on Anthony Lane on Young Adult Fiction: a generalized and generally disturbing definition of the form as of 9/4/2014 11:26:00 AM
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7. Interview with C.H. MacLean, Author of Two Empty Thrones

C.H. MacLean

To young C. H. MacLean, books were everything: mind-food, friends, and fun. They gave the shy middle child’s life color and energy. Amazingly, not everyone saw them that way. Seeing a laundry hamper full of books approach her, the librarian scolded C. H. for trying to check them all out. “You’ll never read that many before they expire!” C. H. was surprised, having shown great restraint only by keeping a list of books to check out next time. Thoroughly abashed, C. H. waited three whole days after finishing that lot before going back for more.

 With an internal world more vivid than the real one, C. H. was chastised for reading in the library instead of going to class. “Neurotic, needs medical help,” the teacher diagnosed. C. H.’s father, a psychologist, just laughed when he heard. “She’s just upset because those books are more challenging than her class.”  C. H. realized making up stories was just as fun as reading, and harder to get caught doing. So for a while, C. H. crafted stories and characters out of wisps and trinkets, with every toy growing an elaborate personality. 

But toys were not mature, and stories weren’t respectable for a family of doctors. So C. H. grew up and learned to read serious books and study hard, shelving foolish fantasies for serious work.

Years passed in a black and white blur. Then, unpredictably falling in love all the way to a magical marriage rattled C. H.’s orderly world. A crazy idea slipped in a resulting crack and wouldn’t leave. “Write the book you want to read,” it said. “Write? As in, a fantasy novel? But I’m not creative,” C. H. protested. The idea, and C. H.’s spouse, rolled their eyes.

So one day, C. H. started writing. Just to try it, not that it would go anywhere. Big mistake. Decades of pent-up passion started pouring out, making a mess of an orderly life. It only got worse. Soon, stories popped up everywhere- in dreams, while exercising, or out of spite, in the middle of a work meeting. “But it’s not important work,” C. H. pleaded weakly. “They are not food, or friends, or…” But it was too late. C. H. had re-discovered that, like books, life should be fun too. Now, writing is a compulsion, and a calling.

 C. H. lives in a Pacific Northwest forest with five cats, two kids, one spouse, and absolutely no dragons or elves, faeries, or demons… that are willing to be named, at least.

You can find, follow or chat with C.H. MacLean at the following on-line locations:

Website/Blog: www.chmaclean.com

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest 

Where did you grow up?

While I grew up in several places, including Hawaii and Colorado, I spent most of the time in coldest Minnesota.

When did you begin writing? 

I wrote all through school and afterward. But I didn’t think I was a writer, if that makes any sense. I only really believed in who I was after meeting the love of my life.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I sit down to write in the early morning and late afternoon, sometimes at night. But I get ideas and scribble things down at any random time. I think that is some of the best writing.

What is this book about? Two Empty Thrones 2

Haylwen thinks she can relax, but she hears the silence before the storm. The evil king of the magic users will break every rule to gain control of the One of prophecy. Even the dragons dare not interfere. Haylwen, trapped in the middle, is confronted by all of her fears and the choice of who she will be. Continuing the story from One is Come, Two Empty Thrones increases the intensity of the series and shows Haylwen’s growth as the stakes are raised. 

What inspired you to write it? 

Haylwen’s story exploded in my head, and sucked me in like a black hole. As a reader, this is the book I would love to read. Knowing readers will love it, I just had to share. The tale of this curly-haired girl who thinks she is less than normal when she is really powerful beyond her dreams inspires me still. 

Who is your favorite character from the book?

I don’t really have a favorite, as they are all interesting in different ways. While just a minor player, Tommy’s character resonates with me. His abilities and personality connect him to Haylwen on a karmic level, and his history makes Haylwen a life-saving inspiration for him. 

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

Only mildly choppy, but it seemed like I had to tackle more than I expected.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have started earlier, of course. As this is my second book, I know now what I didn’t know with the first, and am learning more to apply to the third.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book? 

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, or Smashwords.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Write what you love, pour your heart out for the reader. Never forget that the readers are the reason you write.

What is up next for you? 

Fire Above, my third book, about a young man who dares to dream and starts the first dragon-human war, should be published in March of 2015. The third book in the Five in Circle series, We the Three, where the dragons explode and begin the world-remake, will be released shortly after that. 

Is there anything you would like to add?

Ignore impossible realities. Hold to your dreams and you will find magic everywhere you look.

I’d also like to thank you for your interest in me and my book Two Empty Thrones!

 

Two Empty Thrones banner


0 Comments on Interview with C.H. MacLean, Author of Two Empty Thrones as of 9/5/2014 6:16:00 AM
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8. Interview with C.H. MacLean, Author of Two Empty Thrones

C.H. MacLean

To young C. H. MacLean, books were everything: mind-food, friends, and fun. They gave the shy middle child’s life color and energy. Amazingly, not everyone saw them that way. Seeing a laundry hamper full of books approach her, the librarian scolded C. H. for trying to check them all out. “You’ll never read that many before they expire!” C. H. was surprised, having shown great restraint only by keeping a list of books to check out next time. Thoroughly abashed, C. H. waited three whole days after finishing that lot before going back for more.

 With an internal world more vivid than the real one, C. H. was chastised for reading in the library instead of going to class. “Neurotic, needs medical help,” the teacher diagnosed. C. H.’s father, a psychologist, just laughed when he heard. “She’s just upset because those books are more challenging than her class.”  C. H. realized making up stories was just as fun as reading, and harder to get caught doing. So for a while, C. H. crafted stories and characters out of wisps and trinkets, with every toy growing an elaborate personality. 

But toys were not mature, and stories weren’t respectable for a family of doctors. So C. H. grew up and learned to read serious books and study hard, shelving foolish fantasies for serious work.

Years passed in a black and white blur. Then, unpredictably falling in love all the way to a magical marriage rattled C. H.’s orderly world. A crazy idea slipped in a resulting crack and wouldn’t leave. “Write the book you want to read,” it said. “Write? As in, a fantasy novel? But I’m not creative,” C. H. protested. The idea, and C. H.’s spouse, rolled their eyes.

So one day, C. H. started writing. Just to try it, not that it would go anywhere. Big mistake. Decades of pent-up passion started pouring out, making a mess of an orderly life. It only got worse. Soon, stories popped up everywhere- in dreams, while exercising, or out of spite, in the middle of a work meeting. “But it’s not important work,” C. H. pleaded weakly. “They are not food, or friends, or…” But it was too late. C. H. had re-discovered that, like books, life should be fun too. Now, writing is a compulsion, and a calling.

 C. H. lives in a Pacific Northwest forest with five cats, two kids, one spouse, and absolutely no dragons or elves, faeries, or demons… that are willing to be named, at least.

You can find, follow or chat with C.H. MacLean at the following on-line locations:

Website/Blog: www.chmaclean.com

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest 

Where did you grow up?

While I grew up in several places, including Hawaii and Colorado, I spent most of the time in coldest Minnesota.

When did you begin writing? 

I wrote all through school and afterward. But I didn’t think I was a writer, if that makes any sense. I only really believed in who I was after meeting the love of my life.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I sit down to write in the early morning and late afternoon, sometimes at night. But I get ideas and scribble things down at any random time. I think that is some of the best writing.

What is this book about? Two Empty Thrones 2

Haylwen thinks she can relax, but she hears the silence before the storm. The evil king of the magic users will break every rule to gain control of the One of prophecy. Even the dragons dare not interfere. Haylwen, trapped in the middle, is confronted by all of her fears and the choice of who she will be. Continuing the story from One is Come, Two Empty Thrones increases the intensity of the series and shows Haylwen’s growth as the stakes are raised. 

What inspired you to write it? 

Haylwen’s story exploded in my head, and sucked me in like a black hole. As a reader, this is the book I would love to read. Knowing readers will love it, I just had to share. The tale of this curly-haired girl who thinks she is less than normal when she is really powerful beyond her dreams inspires me still. 

Who is your favorite character from the book?

I don’t really have a favorite, as they are all interesting in different ways. While just a minor player, Tommy’s character resonates with me. His abilities and personality connect him to Haylwen on a karmic level, and his history makes Haylwen a life-saving inspiration for him. 

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

Only mildly choppy, but it seemed like I had to tackle more than I expected.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have started earlier, of course. As this is my second book, I know now what I didn’t know with the first, and am learning more to apply to the third.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book? 

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, or Smashwords.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Write what you love, pour your heart out for the reader. Never forget that the readers are the reason you write.

What is up next for you? 

Fire Above, my third book, about a young man who dares to dream and starts the first dragon-human war, should be published in March of 2015. The third book in the Five in Circle series, We the Three, where the dragons explode and begin the world-remake, will be released shortly after that. 

Is there anything you would like to add?

Ignore impossible realities. Hold to your dreams and you will find magic everywhere you look.

I’d also like to thank you for your interest in me and my book Two Empty Thrones!

 

Two Empty Thrones banner


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9. Publishing deleted scenes – risky, cringeworthy, helpful? Lari Don

Publishers want lots of ‘stuff’ from authors now. Not just the book, but lots of other stuff. Content, it’s called, for online things.


One of the bits of content I’ve given my publishers recently is a file of deleted scenes, from my new(ish) teen thriller Mind Blind.

It wasn’t hard for me to find half a dozen deleted scenes, because I delete lots from my manuscripts as I rewrite and redraft. It’s not unusual for me to reduce the length of a book by 20,000 words or more between first draft and final publication. Which sounds very inefficient – wouldn’t I be better just writing shorter books in the first place?

But I’m not a planner and plotter. I discover the story as I write, as I follow the characters on their journey, and that means diversions and doubling back. I never deliberately write anything that I know is irrelevant at the time, every word helps me find out about the characters, their reactions to problems and my own feelings about the story. But once I reach the end and get a sense of the main thrust of the story, it’s usually clear that I've regularly wandered off the narrative path, and that some scenes are now unnecessary. They may have been necessary to get me to the end, but they’re not necessary to get the reader to the end. So I'm ruthless in slashing them out. I reckon that if you can slice out a scene without it seriously affecting the rest of the story, it probably wasn’t that important.

And in a thriller like MindBlind, where it’s very important to keep the pace up and the pages turning, I also removed scenes or parts of scenes because they slowed the story down too much. (Here’s an example of one.)

And sometimes I cut a scene, not because it’s slowing the story down or because it’s an unnecessary diversion, but because I come up with a stronger idea once I know the story and characters better. However, the original scene is still part of the way I got to know the character, so it’s part of my history with them. Here’s an example of that – it’s the first scene I ever wrote about Ciaran Bain, the hero (anti-hero) of the book. It’s not in the book, but it’s still the place I first met him!

Of course, it’s misleading to suggest that all this slashing and slicing is my idea. Quite a lot of it is, but some of it is in response to gentle prompts from my wonderful editor.
a mountain of many Mind Blind manuscripts

So, I have no problem removing large chunks of my first draft or even my fourteenth draft, because as I’m writing, I know that I’m just discovering the story, not finding the perfect way of telling it first time around. And I know that it takes a lot of work to make that original mess of scribbled ideas into a book.

But having taken all this stuff out, why on earth would I want to show it to anyone? These deleted scenes have often been removed quite early in the process, so they’re not that polished (why would I polish them, once I’ve deleted them?) So it does feel quite weird and slightly uncomfortable, revealing these unfinished bits of my creative process to the public gaze.

Even if these are scenes that I took out for plot or pace reasons, rather than pieces of writing I don’t like, they are still parts of the story that didn’t make it into the book. So is it a bit of a risk to show less than perfect examples of your writing to the world? And why on earth do it?

The first reason is the pragmatic one of feeding the voracious social media monster. (This is not a particularly good reason.)

But I wonder if a much better reason is that realising how much an author cuts from their early drafts can be useful, especially for young writers. It’s a very practical way to show that published writers don’t get it right all the time, that our first drafts are just the start of the process and that we have to work at them, slash at them, perhaps radically change them, to get them into shape. Deleted scenes are perhaps the online version of showing manuscripts covered in lots of scribbles and scorings out to groups of kids at author visits. ‘Look, I don’t get it right first time, so you don’t have to either. Just write, and see what happens!’

So, while I was wincing and cringing this week as yet another deleted scene appeared on Tumblr, I wondered:
How much do other writers delete?
Are other writers happy to let the world see the bits they sliced out?
And do readers learn anything about the writing process from deleted scenes?


Lari Don is the award-winning author of 21 books for all ages, including a teen thriller, fantasy novels for 8 – 12s, picture books, retellings of traditional tales and novellas for reluctant readers. 

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10. New Books!

I treated myself to a new book right before going on vacation. I’ve wanted to read the series for a while, but only bought the first book because I got such a deal on it. I really have too many books here to justify buying more.

pretty

 

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer–they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

 

While we were away, this one arrived in the mail. I’ll be reviewing this book for the author.

little author

Many girls in elementary and middle school fall in love with the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. What they don’t always realize is that Wilder’s books are autobiographical. This narrative biography describes more of the details of the young Laura’s real life as a young pioneer homesteading with her family on many adventurous journeys. This biography, complete with charming illustrations, points out the differences between the fictional series as well as the many similarities. It’s a fascinating story of a much-celebrated writer.

 

Hope you had a great week.


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11. Marvel versus DC Comics -- Thoughts on Writing Characters Post Guardians of the Galaxy

We went to see Guardians of the Galaxy on opening night. I was skeptical, I admit it. A talking raccoon with a gun? Not usually my cup of Earl Gray, what can I tell you.

But.


It was actually irreverent, charming, engrossing, funny, and unexpectedly warm. In short, it was better than great.

Trying to explain the reason for that greatness to someone who hadn't seen the film left me a little bit perplexed though. Because if Marvel can make a film starring a talking, gun-toting raccoon, surely someone can make a decent film with a woman lead? (Cough, Wonder Woman, cough. I'm looking at you D.C.)

Which brings me to another point. As good as this movie was -- and it is going to be shown at my house frequently, trust me -- what I loved most about it was that the female character actually got to drive the bus. This isn't Gamora's movie, don't get me wrong. Zoe Saldana plays just one piece in an ensemble cast, but that piece is the one who proves the motivation and the heart for the team to do what it must (see how non-spoilerly I made that?) to overcome the bad guy. And frankly, without her, the team's involvement with the bad guy would basically have been summed up in a few words: get the thing bad-guy wants, then run like hell.

What else did I love about Gamora? She's sexy, sure, but despite a couple of almost-moments with Star-Lord (as played by Chris Pratt), she doesn't succumb to insta-love. The tension is building and you can see it coming, maybe, but Marvel didn't cheese up the script by including a gratuitous romantic sub-plot that was just too fast to work. Instead, they focused on pulling together a bunch of loners and making them into a team.

That's warm. That's human--even if only one of the characters involved was actually homo-sapiens. (Or half, anyway.)

And that brings me to my topic of the day. It seems to me that there are two schools of approach emerging vis a vis comic book adaptations.

Marvel has a repertoire of films that stars characters who seem to think all is more-or-less okay in their world, and then get dragged into something that's clearly not okay. How they deal with their changed situation forms the underpinnings of the story and creates the extra layer of warmth that connects us to them.

Recent Marvel Films include:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • X-Men, Days of Future Past (2014)
  • The Amazing Spider Man 2 (2014)
  • Captain America - Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • The Wolverine (2013)
  • Iron Man 3 (2013)

DC on the other hand includes:

  • Man of Steel (2013)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  • The Green Lantern (2011)
  • Jonah Hex (2010)
I keep trying to put my finger on what's missing in the DC films for me. I think it comes down to humor. There's a certain amount of wallowing in darkness that the DC films dive into that Marvel leavens with just enough humor to keep the characters from getting broody.

Don't get me wrong: I write dark. My characters (duh, they're cursed, right?) have some pretty crappy lots in life. But even if they feel sorry for themselves, they don't like feeling sorry for themselves. And from now on, I'm going to refer to that as a Marvelous way to handle character.

So what do you think? Do you see a difference in how the two studios portray character? Handle characters ARCs? Bring human into their scripts?

And now for some winners : ) 

The winner of the Pick 3 Arcs #1 is:

Patricia Lopez

She can pick three of the following: BZRK, The Walled City, Sinner, Ghost House, of Scars and Stardust, Lament, I'll Give You the Sun, Unmarked, Lux, White Hot Kiss, Falling into Place, Scintillate.

The winner of the Pick 3 Arcs or Books #2 is:

Rebecca Greer

Pick Any Three: Unmade, Perfected, Beauty of the Broken, Til Death, Unravel Me, Compulsion, Shatter Me, The Raven Boys, Diamond Boy, Allies and Assassins, The Walled City, Black Ice

The winners of the two ECHOES OF US ARCs  by Kat Zhang are:

Anne VanLoon

Heather Ratlin

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12. Guest Book Review: In the Shadow of the Volcano by Wendy Leighton-Porter

shadow

Publisher: Mauve Square Publishing; 1 edition (April 15, 2013)
ASIN: B00CDUXKUC
Rating: Five stars
Age group: 9+

The Shadow of the Volcano is the fifth adventure of twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot and their friend Charlie. Joe and Jemima have been searching for their parents who disappeared several months earlier. Thanks to an old book and a magical key, as well as special charms, the kids and Max (their talking Tonkinese cat) are able to travel back in time to search for the twins’ parents. Sadly, on their previous adventures, it seems the twins’ parents were always just ahead of them. On this trip, they hope they’ll catch up with their mum and dad. Trips back in time can be dangerous, especially if they end up in the middle of a war, or some disaster. The kids have had their fair share of those and this trip is no less dangerous. The kids and Max end up in Pompeii, just a few days before Mount Vesuvius will explode, destroying the whole city. Unfortunately, they also land up on the tail end of a consignment of slaves. The slave dealer Scylax is ecstatic because he’s convinced he was short-changed by three slaves in the last delivery. Jemima befriends a young slave, a Briton called Caris, and tries to cheer her up. Luckily, Joe and Jemima are attractive twins and take the fancy of their new owners, while Charlie, originally thought weedy, impresses the book-keeper with his skill in mathematics. Joe has the hardest time of all, working his fingers to the bone, as he grumbles, while Charlie and Jemima have relatively easy jobs. Max manages to inveigle himself into the household, but on the night of a party, is booted out. He is rescued by a priestess of the Temple of Isis, and she is in love with a gladiator. An adventure to rival all others ensues, with a magnificent fake battle between Leo (a lion that Max helped) and Felix, the handsome young gladiator. All this time, the kids keep trying to warn people about the impending disaster; some listen and will escape the conflagration, but for the most part, people don’t heed the warnings. Vesuvius has rumbled before and they are used to it. Will the kids catch up with their parents? Will they make it back to their own world?
I just love this series and, in my opinion, it keeps getting better with every book. Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has such a lovely sense of humour that brings even the smallest characters vividly to life. Max is utterly captivating as himself, with delusions of grandeur after living as the descendant of a god in the Temple of Isis. The kids’ new owner is based on a real Pompeiian, whose villa was discovered and excavated. So much fact is cleverly woven into the story, teaching kids a history lesson without their even knowing it. There are details that young readers will remember, simply because of the way these have been used in the tale to lend credence and veracity. Who can argue with an exciting piece of history? Of course, as in her other books, Wendy Leighton-Porter does not shy away from the gritty realities of life back then. Being a slave was no easy task, and if one was a gladiator, death was just another fight away. I truly enjoyed the rich detail of Pompeiian life pervading the story, down to the descriptions of the eruption and what it must have been like for people at the time. The end material includes some lovely particulars for avid young explorers and historians; a glossary, a floor plan of a typical house, photos of the Pompeiian excavation and more. As always, maps put the leap back in time firmly into perspective. This book is a real winner, and don’t be surprised if your young relative starts sounding like an expert volcanologist. PS: If anyone is wondering how the romance is going between the twins’ Uncle Richard and Charlie’s mum … they are going on another date!

 

http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Volcano-Shadows-Past-Book-ebook/dp/B00CDUXKUC

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.


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13. Guest Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

more

Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (July 22, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0763676209
ISBN-13: 978-0763676209
Genre: Dystopian
Suggested reading Age: Grade 9+

Three stars

Seventeen-year-old Seth drowns; in fact his action is deliberate. He wants to escape the horror of his existence. Racked with guilt over the fate of his younger brother, an event he feels is his entire fault, he doesn’t have much to live for. Then he wakes up, back in his old home in England, and things start becoming very weird indeed. He is wrapped in silvery bandages, and his old street is deserted. The whole place is uninhabited and overgrown. He seems to be the only person left alive in the world. He must now forage and scrounge for clothing, food and water. He wonders if this is hell. His dreams don’t help because his previous life comes back to him in huge, unwelcome chunks of memory. Then he meets two other people, with their own unique and strange tales to tell.

Despite the fantastic beginning, with a description that pulled me right into the ocean with Seth, I struggled to finish this book. Parts of it were incredibly exciting and then would grind to a halt with unnecessary introspective and philosophical meanderings on the part of the main character, meanderings which became boring and one had the urge to say, “Oh, just get on with it!” The plus side: an utterly riveting and plausible story premise that comes much later on (just when you are wondering what on earth this is all about and is he dead or not, and if everyone else is dead, then where are the bodies?); really wonderful descriptions that have the reader in the grip of the moment; action and tension to add to the positively bleak and hopeless situation; events that come out of nowhere that have a cinematographic and surreal feel to them; the depth of emotion Seth feels for the loss of his younger brother and his friends. In fact, Seth’s guilt is so palpable that one is consumed with curiosity to learn the truth. The two characters that join him are so different, so lost as well, and so eager to hide the circumstances of their lives/deaths. One feels the pain of the characters as they reveal the humiliating and tragic burdens they each carry.

What I did not enjoy: the flashbacks were sometimes jarring and intrusive, until I accepted them as part of the story-telling process; the fact that this world, while it began as an interesting construct, did not have enough to sustain the story and/or the last three inhabitants. I found the ending abrupt and it short-changes the reader in a way. There were many loose ends in the unfolding of this tale that I feel the author might have tried to answer. The characters were confused and, as a result, the reader becomes confused. It is as if the author didn’t bother to work things out to the last detail, which is possibly not the case, but feels that way. The reference to same sex love/relationships was dealt with sensitively and delicately, in an almost tender way. However, this might surprise readers who are not prepared for it, especially if the reader is younger than the protagonist’s age of 17. Ultimately, the characters’ thoughts on what constitutes life and death, and the option of living in a constructed world, avoiding the reality of a life too sad/tragic/hopeless to contemplate should give readers food for thought. However, I have no doubt that the intended audience of older teens and YA readers will love this book.

http://www.amazon.com/More-Than-This-Patrick-Ness/dp/0763676209/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.


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14. It Happens: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader: Kelly Jensen

Book: It Happens: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader
Author: Kelly Jensen
Pages: 278
Age Range: Adult (reference title for librarians and others who do reader's advisory for teens)

I'm not quite the target audience for It Happens: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader, but I've been following Kelly Jensen's blog for years, and I have a lot of respect for her knowledge of and advocacy for young adult fiction. So when she had a contest on her blog to win a copy of It Happens, I decided to enter. And I won! So now I'm here to tell you a bit about the book. 

It Happens is a reference title for anyone who provides reader's advisory to teens, and wants to do better at recommending contemporary realistic fiction. As a blogger/reviewer, I do some of what Kelly calls "passive reader's advisory" (recommending titles, and discussing what interests a particular book might fall under). I can imagine doing more active reader's advisory (where you discuss a teen's interest with them and recommend specific titles) when my daughter and her friends are teenagers. In the meantime, I do a little of that with my nieces, friends who read YA, etc.

Anyway, this book is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to get the right books into the hands of teens, particularly librarians and teachers. It Happens is both a primer on HOW to get the right book into the right hands and a resource with suggestions for exactly what those books might be. In Part 1, Kelly defines realistic contemporary young adult fiction, discusses why this genre is both important and under-publicized, and provides some general resources (book awards, etc.) for discovering titles. She also proposes methods for evaluating and categorizing YA titles, and concludes with a detailed chapter on reader's advisory skills. 

Here is Kelly's definition of contemporary YA, from the end of Chapter 1:

"Contemporary YA features young adult protagonists set in today's world incorporating today's issues, paralleling and intertwining with the values that every teen - and every reader - thinks about: family, friendship, growing up, loss, faith, the future, and many, many more." (Page 8)

She starts each chapter with a quote (some short, some long) from an author or a librarian or other gatekeeper. I found these quotations inspirational in many cases. Like this, from Lisa Schroeder:

"... But perhaps after closing the pages of a well-done contemporary YA novel, a teen will think: If she can make it through, I can, too." (Page 9)

That's why we're here, right? To find the books that can make a real different for kids. I also personally, as a member of the children's book blogging community, enjoyed seeing quotes from people whose blogs I've been reading for years, like Liz Burns and Sarah Gross. [Though I think it would have been helpful for readers less familiar with the community had at least the names of these people's blogs been included.] 

As a reviewer, I found that Chapter 4, on methods for evaluating fiction, resonated, even though (or perhaps because) some of the topics were things that I have been thinking about for a long time. Here's what Kelly has to say about critical evaluation:

"Critical evaluation highlights the elements of a text that work well and those that don't work quite so well. All books have their strengths and their weaknesses, and while critical evaluation sounds like a way to tease out and emphasize only the parts that don't work, that's not the case. Exploring what does and does not work at the same time offers a thorough means for understanding not just the book at hand, but fiction more widely. (Page 27)

All in all, I enjoyed the first part of the book, and learned a bit about book genres and reader's advisory. But for me, where It Happens really shines is in Part 2. In this section, Kelly provides fifteen book "annotations" for each of ten separate topics, thus profiling 150 books in detail. Her selections are all relatively current titles (from the past 10 years), and do not include the obvious, huge print run titles, which people already know about. 

Each annotation includes a cover image, a brief summary of the book, a link to the book's trailer, if available, and a list of "Appeal Factors" (e.g. "female main character", "moving", "deafness", etc.). The appeal factors are very useful (and an index of the factors is available at the end of the book). Kelly goes beyond the genres to get into real specifics, like books set in particular locations, books with people of color or non-traditional families, books about filmmaking or fishing, etc.  

Below that, Kelly also includes a brief section on "Read Alikes" for each book. These Read Alikes were what impressed me the most about It Happens. Rather than just including a list of similar books, Kelly discusses just what it is about this book that might appeal to readers who liked some other title. And then she'll also discuss other books that might make a good follow-on read, and WHY. These references, these connections between the books, really showcase Kelly's deep knowledge of the field. I didn't read every annotation in detail, but I found the Read Alikes fascinating. 

At the end of each chapter/topic, Kelly includes another list of related titles. Then, at the end of the book, she provides several chapters dedicated to books that are good conversations starters around specific issues like bullying and sexual assault. She discusses four or five books in detail for each topic. She gets into exactly what types of discussions a parent or teacher might launch based on having read each book. As the parent of a four year old girl, I'm hoping for an update of this section in about 8-10 years. But I'll keep this edition handy in any case. 

I do wish that It Happens was available as a digital text. It would be lovely to be able to click through to read more about the additional titles listed at the end of each section, or to click on an "Appeal Factor" listed at the end of a book profile and immediately bring up all of the other books listed under that same appeal factor. But it's nice to have It Happens in printed form as a reference to keep on my bookshelf, too. 

The very last chapter of It Happens is a call for readers of the book to advocate for contemporary YA fiction as a genre: to read extensively, and work hard to promote strong titles and get them into readers' hands. For example, Kelly suggests nominating strong contemporary YA titles for the YALSA and Cybils awards. [I, of course, especially appreciated several Cybils references throughout the book.] This is a positive note on which to leave readers, giving them strong next steps to take.  

I will also admit that I found parts of the book a bit physically difficult to read. It Happens is an oversize paperback, and while the format works well for the chapters with book descriptions, it's not quite a comfortable fit to put the book on your lap and read the first section straight through. Also, this section includes quite a few text boxes, set aside from the main text. Some of the text boxes were excerpts of the main text, while others were supplemental. I found this a bit confusing. Visually, the text boxes keep the oversized book from appearing too dense in the non-booklist sections, but functionally, I thought that the ones that didn't provide new information would have been better left out. But that's the most critical thing I have to say in my evaluation of the book. 

All in all, I think that It Happens is a useful resource for anyone who evaluates young adult fiction, including blogging reviewers like me. For those are true gatekeepers, out there in the trenches getting books into the hands of teens, it is essential. Highly recommended. 

Publisher: VOYA Press (@VOYAMagazine)
Publication Date: August 15, 2014
Source of Book: Won from the author in a raffle

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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15. Competition Winner Is Announced

The competition to WIN a copy of Betrothed and Allegiance by Wanda Wiltshire as well as a handmade bookmark made by the author recently closed.  Fans and would be fans of the Betrothed series had some moving entries and pledges to very worthy causes. Wanda and I discussed each of the entries before declaring Ashlee […]

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16. #NoiseforNess Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness Giveaway

It’s no surprise I’m a huge Patrick Ness fan. In the past I’ve written about how inspiring his work is as well as the time when I was actually able to meet him in person. I’ve also reviewed quite a few of his books:

The Knife of Never Letting Go
The Ask and the Answer
Monsters of Men
A Monster Calls

I’ve also interviewed the narrator for the audiobooks, Nick Podehl, whom is a personal favorite of mine. The way that Nick narrates The Knife of Never Letting Go will turn any non-audiobook fan into a audiobook listener for life. He’s brilliant!

Chaos Walking paperback

So when the publisher, Candlewick Press, reached out to me to offer a giveaway featuring the newly designed paperback covers for The Chaos Walking series I couldn’t resist. Not only do I love the redesign, but it also reminds me a bit of the UK edition that I love. Also, they’ve added additional content to each book! Each paperback includes a short story that was only previously available in eBook format. Candlewick has really done an excellent job with this new edition and I’m thrilled to have a full set to giveaway to one There’s A Book reader!

Giveaway!

Thanks to the wonderful people at Candlewick Press I have ONE FULL SET of this new edition of The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness which also includes a bonus short story within each book! Be sure to enter using the rafflecopter form below and be aware that this one is for US and Canadian residents only.

Ad1_PatrickNess

Find the new paperback edition of The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads | ISBN10/ISBN13: 0763676187 / 9780763676186

Thank you so much to the publisher, Candlewick Press, for providing a copy of this book for review! Connect with them on Twitter, Google+ and on Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

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Original article: #NoiseforNess Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness Giveaway

©2014 There's A Book. All Rights Reserved.

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17. In the After: Demitria Lunetta

Book: In the After
Author: Demitria Lunetta
Pages: 464
Age Range: 13 and up

In the After is the first of a two-book series by Demitria Lunetta (the second book was just released, though I haven't read it yet). In the After is set in the wake of a world-wide apocalypse caused by an invasion of predatory, man-eating creatures. 17-year-old Amy has lived for three years in hiding, alone except for the company of Baby, a young girl she rescued from a grocery store. Amy and Baby live in silence, for fear of drawing Them. They use sign language to speak, and have never even heard one another's voices.

They actually have things pretty good, all things considered. Amy's mother held an important government position, and their house is surrounded by an electric fence that keeps the monsters out. Her dad was an environmentalist who kept their home as off the grid as possible. Amy and Baby have electricity and water. But they do have to venture out among the creatures to scavenge for food. An encounter with other survivors on one of their trips starts a process that changes Amy and Baby's lives forever. 

In the After is a compelling read, one that will keep the reader guessing. The first part of the book takes place in and around Amy and Baby's home in Chicago. Without giving too much away, I'll say that the second part of the book takes place elsewhere, among other people. This is where Lunetta's storytelling really starts making the reader think. In brief, italicized scenes, Amy is in a mental ward. The rest of the story is told in intermittent flashbacks, as a mentally foggy Amy tries to pieces together how she got there. Because of Amy's fragile state, the reader isn't always sure how to interpret the flashbacks, which makes the story even more thought-provoking. 

The characters apart from Amy are distinct, though not always highly nuanced. Basically, we get to know Amy very well, and the other characters not so well. But Amy is great. Here are a few snippets, to give you a feel for her voice:

"I only go out at night.

I walk along the empty street and pause, my muscles tense and ready. The breeze rustles the overgrown grass and I tilt my head slightly. I'm listening for them." (Page 1)

"So much of who I used to be was about being good in school and having friends who were also good in school. We were, to put it simply, arrogant little know-it-alls. But I miss that." (Page 78)

"The arts were probably pointless now that everyone was focused on survival. I thought back to all my time alone, reading, as the world crumbled around me. It was the only thing that gave me solace and hope." (Page 191)

In addition to keeping the reader wondering about plot points, Lunetta is good at creating atmosphere. She makes the reader feel the creepiness of walking down a dark street where silent monsters might be a only few feet, and the helplessness of being trapped in a mental ward. 

In the After grabs the reader from the first page, and doesn't let go. Recommend for fans of YA dystopias, particularly of the alien invasion variety. Particularly recommended for those who enjoyed Rick Yancey's The Fifth Wave. Readers who have read many dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories will notice certain universal themes, but I don't think this takes away enjoyment of the story. I think that In the After is a book that will especially appeal to adult readers, actually, though I would expect teens to enjoy it, too. Highly recommended. 

Publisher: HarperTeen (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Source of Book: Bought it on Kindle

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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18. Hong Kong for beginners

 

From the outside Hong Kong is a shimmering enclave of mirrored high-rise towers, a former British outpost and a gateway to China – the ultimate fusion of East and West. But beyond the swanky shopping malls and five-star hotels, the city is a heady mix of contradictions – of urban cacophony and tranquil country parks, of staggering wealth and grinding poverty, a city that worships money but still respects tradition, an exotic place that has been inspiring writers for decades.

Countefeit Love by Julie FisonAmong the many books to put Hong Kong at centre stage are James Clavell’s Asian sagas: Tai-Pan and Noble House and John le Carré’s thriller The Honourable Schoolboy. Travel writer Jan Morris explored the city’s complex past and future in Hong Kong, a manual for Hong Kong newbies. Other celebrated novels set in the city include Han Suyin’s post-war love story – A Many-Splendoured Thing, John Lancaster’s epic, Fragrant Harbour, and Janice Y K Lee’s sumptuous historical novel, The Piano Teacher.

My new title for young adults is one of the latest novels to use Hong Kong’s vibrant skyline as its backdrop. Counterfeit Love is a thoroughly contemporary tale of a young television reporter who is trying to make a name for herself in Hong Kong. Lucy Yang’s skills and character are tested as she tries to get to the bottom of a big story. And when the gorgeous, but mysterious, Byron Lloyd starts turning up in unexpected places, she wonders if her perfect man is a sinister part of the story she’s chasing.

Counterfeit Love is a cocktail of ambition, intrigue and romance, and was inspired by my years as a news reporter with a Hong Kong television station. The story is definitely not autobiographical, but in writing it, I drew on my knowledge of Hong Kong, my experience in a newsroom and my memories of starting out in a city that was totally alien to me.

Noble HouseI spent five crazy years in Hong Kong and still vividly recall so much about it – the chaotic newsroom, the crowded MTR, the smell of frying garlic and the pong of fermented bean curd, the white-knuckle ride into the old Kai Tak airport, junk trips to the outlying islands and the sampan ride home at the end of a long night in the office. In my neighbourhood, old Hakka ladies shelled prawns in the sun, while young professionals belted out love songs on their karaoke machines. I had a colleague who often rode home from a night club on the roof of a taxi, just because he could, and a British friend who circled the Hongkong Bank anti clockwise twice every morning before going to work – on the advice of a feng shui master. He still endured his share of bad luck, but was never game to change the habit in case his fortune worsened.

Hong Kong was many things to me, but it was never boring!

Thanks for joining me for my first Boomerang Books Blog post. I will be returning regularly with more bookish news. In the meantime you can visit my website here or you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Happy reading,

Julie.

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19. Interview with K. Madill, Author of The Stolen Herd

Karai MadillKarai Madill is a Canadian writer who lives in a wooden house not far from swiftly flowing river. Every now and then a bear comes along and steals her garbage.  When she’s not hanging out with her best equine friend, she can be found roller skating around in circles or planting butterfly friendly gardens. The Stolen Herd is her first novel.

For more K. Madill, visit her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Madill/161159890706088 or blog: http://kmadill.com/

Thank you for joining us today, Karai. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I am a true Canadian and it’s true what they say about us. We’re overly polite. We apologize for apologizing. I have to be near my creature friends as much as possible. I have to visit a forest as least once a week. I will always ditch everyone and everything to write.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug? 

I think it’s more the storytelling bug.  My mother is an avid reader and our house had a library in the den, full of fantasy novels. I wrote my first story when I was six years old, according to her, about a unicorn named Me. I don’t remember that one.  I do recall penning a tale that ended up in the school paper though. That one starred a miniature lion that led me to a room full of candy! Ha – animals and mythical creatures. There’s a pattern here, I think.

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

You know…I don’t think I actually consciously decided.  I just began the Mandamus and Luco series and it just sort of ended up in that category.

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

I think my favorite part is having animals as characters. I adore Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and Charlotte’s Web. I graduated to Animal Farm in my later years, and realized that while the first two were magical in their story telling, the way Orwell used animal characters to express a political message was equally as brilliant. For my books, I get to write scenes with people having conversations and arguments with animals. It’s a blast! I’m also a firm believer that stories need mythical creatures. With an eclectic cast of characters like that you can create all different kinds of scenarios. I think the biggest difficulty is keeping it short and sweet to hold a younger reader’s attention. I idolize the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. I enjoy page after page of descriptive narrative. I also like to write them, much to the chagrin of my editor. She cut a lot out of the original manuscript for this very reason.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

The Stolen Herd is about a foal who is orphaned when his herd is captured by an army. He is found and raised by a mare and her rather ferocious sister. When he’s a bit older, he finds himself in deep trouble, so deep he is sent into temporary exile from his herd. He goes on an adventure and meets all sorts of beings from terrible imps to forgetful naiads.

What inspired you to write it?Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068]

I saw a news article about a school that was busted up by the Taliban, just wiped out. It terrified me.  As I sat there, feeling immeasurably sad, this black horse with glowing, white eyes just popped into my head. He looked so worried. For the rest of the day, his story came in a flood of ideas. I wrote them down when I got home that evening.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

www.amazon.ca/Stolen-Herd-Mandamus-Luco-Book-ebook/dp/BOOGBQ9V80

What is up next for you?

The second book in the series. The planning is almost finished. Some of the writing has already begun. The storyboard is full and the creativity is overflowing. I love being able to work on new material. The Stolen Herd took six years. Towards the end I felt stagnated with the whole thing and I was trying to meet a deadline so I was doing re-writes to the edited version for up to 10 hours a day. I almost began to hate it.

Do you have anything else to add?

I do! I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read The Stolen Herd and messaged me or emailed me. Your encouragement is truly appreciated.  If you liked this one, you’re going to love the 2nd book!

Thank you for spending time with us today, Karai. We wish you much success.

Thank you for having me.

 

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20. Valcoria: Children of the Crystal Star by Jason King

 

“Jason King weaves powerful stories that grip the reader to the last word with a perfect blend of amazement, fear, love, and destiny…” ~James Wymore, author of Theocracide and The Actuator 

ABOUT THE BOOK

 

History repeats itself like a song. The verses may vary, but the melody is always the same. 

The eastern empire of Aukasia has a new leader, a man who means to bring war to all the land. Yet, even in all his bloody ambition, he does not realize that he is but the puppet of a greater evil. 

Only the Kalyra – The Children of the Crystal Star – can stand against what’s coming. Only they can protect the world of Valcoria from the mad hatred of the fallen god, Aedar. 

A new verse of the song has begun. The last verse…

 

 

 

 

PURCHASE

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Jason’s Website Twitter Facebook / Goodreads 



*Jason King is the author of Valcoria, Lure of Fools, and Thomas Destiny. Other books attributed to him are an error. 

Jason King wishes he was raised on a desert planet by his aunt and uncle and watched over by a mysterious old recluse, but his life is much duller than that. He supposes that’s why he started making up stories. Born in Salt Lake City Utah, Jason grew up on a steady diet of anime, science fiction, Dungeons and Dragons, JRPG’s, and chocolate cake donuts. He pretended not to be a nerd just long enough to get married and start a family. And although dismayed by the revelation that Jason was a geek, his wife stuck with him and they are now the proud parents of four beautiful children. Jason holds a bachelor’s degree in I.T. Management and is currently the Internet Marketing Manager for a local bookstore chain, but he is determined to one day quit his “9 to 5” and write full-time. Jason has two indie books; “Valcoria Children of the Crystal Star” and “Thomas Destiny,” but “The Lure of Fools” is his first published novel.

 

 

This tour was hosted by Worldwind Virtual Book Tours

 

Follow the rest of the Valcoria tour here!


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21. From the Family Bookshelf – June

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Crazy life means not as much reading. I can’t stand it. Actually, my girls are reading, I’m not–at least, not as much as I would like. Since my last update I’ve read:

Where Do Belly Buttons Come From? by Jeffery Warren Scott
I Am Abraham by Jerome Charyn
Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! by Dominique Roques
Self-Publishing a Book by Hank Quense
Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen
The Coziest Place by Jamie Michalak
The Secret Side of Empty by Marie E. Andreu
A Rainbow of Birds by Janet Halfmann
Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
Steam & Strategem by Chris Hoare
Do’s and Don’ts by Hayley Rose
Murder in the Worst Degree by F.M. Meredith
A Comedy of Erin by Celia Bonaduce
The Author’s Training Manual by Nina Amir
Eat Like A Woman by Staness Jonekos
Directory of Federal Prisons by Christopher Zoukis and Dr. Randall Radic
Man’s Rejection of God by RL Keller
The Education of George Washington by Austin Washington
Pressed Pennies by Steven Manchester

Dad finished off The Candy Bomber: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlight and America’s Finest Hour by Andrei Cherny, which led to us learning some interesting local history. We didn’t know our hometown of Chicopee, MA was so instrumental in this mission The residents of the city–even school children–got involved in receiving candy shipments and attaching the candy to parachutes for them to be flown out to where they needed to go. He’s now reading Under the Dome: A Novel by Stephen King his favorite author.

The Lil’ Diva has discovered that reading is a great way to pass the time, so she’s devouring books lately. After polishing off the Matched series, she moved on to The Mortal Instruments series. She also read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and saw the movie this weekend. Other books she has read lately: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, the entire Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. She’s currently reading, Looking for Alaska by John Green.

I’ve lost track of all that the Lil’ Princess is reading. She has no less than six books in her backpack right now. At home, we’ve read The Dog Days of Charlotte Hayes by Marlane Kennedy and last night finished Pie by Sarah Weeks.

That’s it for this issue of From the Family Bookshelf. Hope you’ll share some of your most recent reads.


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22. Searching for Sky: Jillian Cantor

Book: Searching for Sky
Author: Jillian Cantor
Pages: 288
Age Range: 12 and up

I picked up Searching for Sky to skim the first few pages, and couldn't put it down. It's not that it's action filled, but more that the premise and the narrator are irresistible. Fifteen-year-old Sky has lived for as long as she can remember (since she was 2) on a tiny Pacific island. She was raised by her mother, Petal, and her mother's partner, Helmut, along with Helmut's son, River. Since her mother and Helmut died a year earlier, Sky and River have lived alone on the island. Though they worry a little bit about survival, they are happy, and just starting to perhaps have grown-up feelings for one another. Everything changes when a boat arrives one day, and takes the two frightened teens to California. Back to a world that they didn't even really know existed. 

There are mysteries in Searching for Sky, as Sky seeks to understand what led Petal and Helmut to the island in the first place. She struggles to reconcile her own memories with the things that other people tell her are true, and begins to realize that not everything was as she thought. She is separated from River, and wants desperately to find him. These issues kept me turning the pages, wanting to understand. Wanting Sky to understand. Wanting to know what would happen to Sky and to River. But the remarkable part of Searching for Sky actually lies in Sky's reaction to the more mundane details. It's fascinating to watch as someone who has never seen civilization tries to understand things like money, lipstick, and the Internet.

I thought that Cantor did a fine job of keeping Sky in character (frequently baffled), even as certain things become more clear to the reader. This is a book that could only have been written in first person present perspective. This aspect of the book reminded me a bit of reading far-future dystopias, in which the characters come across artifacts of our current civilization, and struggle to understand them. Sky struggles to understand just about everything, right down to how to use a toilet (or "Bathroom Tree" as she calls it). For example, one of the first people Sky sees is apparently wearing sunglasses. She says:

"His eyes are hidden by small black shells, and I don't like that I can't see them, that I don't know what color they are." (Page 26)

Sometimes her reactions are humorous:

""Now, come on into the kitchen," she's saying. I follow her into a large open space with a lot of square wood boxes everywhere. "Have a seat at the table." She points to a large, round wood, and I begin to climb up on it. "No, no. On a chair," she says, pulling on another, smaller wood and showing me how she wants me to sit on it." (Page 92)

Sometimes they are profound:

"I think it disappoints her that I refuse to watch the television box with her after dinner. But the few times I've sat there with her, all I've seen are pretend faraway people talking to each other about things that have nothing to do with me. I don't understand why she's interested in them if they're not even here, if they're not even real." (Page 119)

Sky is a strong character, even though her lack of basic knowledge makes her feel foolish and vulnerable at times. I think that teen readers will find her as compelling as I did. Despite the female narrator, I have every reason to believe that teen boys would find this book intriguing, too. In fact, I'm going to put it on the small stack of books that I recommend to my husband. (The previous book I gave him was Matt de la Pena's The Living). I highly recommend Searching for Sky for teens and adults. 

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (@BWkids) 
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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23. First Chapter Review: The Stolen Herd by K. Madill (Win $25 Amazon GC)

1st Chapter Review TC&TBC

K. Madill is touring with Pump Up Your Book this month with her young adult fantasy novel, The Stolen Herd. Read to the end to see how you can enter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068]

BLURB: Mandamus is only a foal when his herd is captured by the terrible Rakhana Army. Rescued and raised in secrecy, he knows nothing of his heritage until a dreadful incident in the woods brings him to the attention of the Forest council – and everyone else. Sent away for his own protection, he is determined to seek help on behalf of the many animals who have gone missing from the forest, including his own family.

With the help of a troubled man and a stout-hearted bat, can Mandamus save his fellow creatures before it’s too late?

COVER: I’m not usually a fan of dark covers, but this one is stunning. The black of the horse, the white glint of his eyes, and the purples and pinks of the sky make for a fabulous piece of art that attracts readers.

FIRST CHAPTER: As the Rakhana Army closes in on the herd, Gideon takes their foal and dashes him to Daleth and Mareva to raise in secrecy.

KEEP READING: Filled with flowing descriptions and a multitude of characters, this opening chapter sets the scene for what will become of Mandamus after his herd is captured by the Rakhana Army. A butterfly, a bat, a herd of horses, a ruthless human army, and a special foal with white eyes who may be the stuff of legends make for an interesting cast. The strength of the world building is easy to see early on.  The hint of magic and the elegant writing in this first chapter definitely encourage me to follow along with the rest of Mandamus’ story.

 

Title:  The Stolen Herd

Author: K. Madill

Genre: Young adult fantasy

Paperback: 181 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace (February 20, 2014)

ISBN-10: 1482640023

ISBN-13: 978-1482640021

Kindle:B00GBQ9V8O

Purchase at http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00GBQ9V8O

 

I received a copy of this book from the author. I have been paid a fee to promote this book with a book tour through Pump Up Your Book. That fee did not include a review. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

A chronic “head in the cloudser” K. Madill lives in a rickety house on a well treed street in British Columbia, Canada.  When she’s not hanging out with her best equine friend in the woods she can be found trying to stay upright on her roller skates or mediating the affairs of her various furred and feathered friends that rule the aforementioned rickety house. 

K. Madill’s website: kmadill.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Madill/161159890706088

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaraiMadill1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20643483-the-stolen-herd

 

Pump Up Your Book and K. Madill are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms and conditions:

    • By entering, you confirm you are 18 years of age or older.
    • Raffle runs from 12:00 AM EST on June 2 through 12:00 AM EST on June 28, 2014.
    • Winner will be selected randomly by Rafflecopter.
    • Winner will be notified by email and has 72 hours to claim the prize before a new winner is selected.
    • Prize will be sent via email from the author’s representative.
    • VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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24. The Prince of Venice Beach: Blake Nelson

Book: The Prince of Venice Beach
Author: Blake Nelson
Pages: 240
Age Range: 12 and up

The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson is about a 17-year-old runaway called Cali who lives in Venice Beach, CA. He sleeps in a treehouse behind the home of a generous local woman named Hope, has an assortment of quirky and interesting friends, and spends much of his time playing pick-up basketball. After helping a couple of private investigators to find missing kids, Cali decides that he wants to become a private investigator. However, when the case of a missing rich girl named Reese Abernathy lands in his lap, he finds his life becoming far more complicated than he would have expected. 

Cali is an engaging protagonist who should appeal to teen readers. He has a lot of autonomy (Hope is not a parental figure in any way). He knows how to take care of himself, and he tries to do the right thing. But he's a street kid, and he definitely runs into trouble sometimes, too. He's also remarkably uneducated compared with your maintstream YA protagonist (he's not even sure if Austria is a country). He's different, and that makes him interesting. 

Although The Prince of Venice Beach does involve a mystery, and has some action scenes (fights, chases), it's also quite relationship-driven. There's Cali's friendship with a young friend of Hope's, his complex relationship with Reese, and his protective attempts to help a new homeless girl on the scene. And it's a bit of a coming-of-age story for Cali, too, as he decides what he wants to do with his life, and even starts to take a course towards his GED. I found it a nice mix, and a quick read. I read it in a single sitting, and thought that Nelson's prose flowed well. 

Here's Cali musing on a runaway that he's looking for:

"He'd probably enjoyed his new freedom for the first couple days. Away from authority, from teachers and parents. But then the freedom gets to you. And the isolation. No family. No friends. Not even a dog. How many times can you go to McDonald's and eat cheeseburgers by yourself? How many days can you spend on the beach? How many nights can you sleep in your car? Not as many as you think." (Chapter Three)

The Prince of Venice Beach isn't entirely realistic, of course, but it does offer a YA-appropriate version of a private eye novel. Cali would, I think, admire Veronica Mars, were he ever to run across her. It has a unique premise and strong main character, a well-defined setting, and a fair bit of action. Recommended for teens (boys and girls) and escapist-leaning adults. 

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (@LBKids) 
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Source of Book: Advance digital review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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25. From the Family Bookshelf – July

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We’re still on vacation right now, but that means we’ve had a chance to get some reading done. Both girls signed up for the library’s summer reading program. The Lil’ Diva has already surpassed her goal. The Lil’ Princess is making her way to her goal.

Since our arrival, the Lil’ Diva has read Love? Maybe by Heather Hepler, Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, and Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick. The Lil’ Princess brought Half Upon a Time by James Riley with her from home, but she’s been tied up reading the recently released Dork Diaries 7: Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star by Rachel Renee Russell. We bought it this week at Downtown Books in Manteo.

Dad has actually gotten some reading in too. He’s still slowly reading Under the Dome: A Novel by Stephen King. He’s also reading The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman.

As for me, I’ve been trying to catch up on my massive TBR pile. Before we left, I had read Four Corners or A Book That Will Tickle Your Intellectual Nipple by Cary Smith and Breath of Spring by Charlotte Hubbard. Since we got here, I’ve managed to read A Nation Under Judgment by Richard Capriola and Corrie ten Boom by Kaylena Radcliff, part of the Torchlighters Series. I’m in the middle of Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey by Valerie Estelle Frankel.

That’s it for this issue of From the Family Bookshelf. Hope you’re enjoying your week.


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