Tag Archives: Young

A Different Me- Review


I was asked to read this for a review. It is far outside my normal genres, (But I never deny a request!) Having said that, it’s not the first time I have read this far outside my norm by request, but this has by far been my most impressive readI was surprised by this book, and think it’s deserving of 5 stars. This book will come highly recommended from me to its intended audience (Girls 13-18.)

I think the meaning behind the song “Demons” by Imagine Dragons and A Different Me are very similar. It is a strange comparison, but you’ll understand that correlation after reading it. Both sum up a concept of there is way more going on under the surface than you can possibly figure out from appearances.

I have never read anything from Deborah Blumenthal, but I could tell this was not her first book. The writing was on point, exceptionally so. Blumenthal managed to create not one or two, but an entire cast of characters that felt real and deep on a level that hard to attain. I was further surprised at the character development, specifically the main character Allie, as well as David and Amber. Being able to add such multi-level depth and development to multiple characters is no small feat. Allie begins as a typical high school girl, and her problems and value set are those of a high school. I felt like I was watching a person, not reading a character. Then through a set of outside influences, Blumenthal transforms Allie in a way that feels so natural that it is hard to believe the girl at the end was the same as the one in the beginning.

This book has the ability to leave a lasting effect on certain readers. The story is clearly meant for girls 13-18 and I think it will hit its intended audience right on the mark. All the characters signify many stereotypical personas encountered in high-school, then open up to levels of insecurities and deeper issues that many individuals deal with at some point in their lives.

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Magic Ain’t So Bad

The Quick Review:
Bad magic is a fun book to read. A blend of magic, mystery, adventure, and a little comedy give the reader plenty of reasons not to put the story down. The writing is up tempo and quirky and is a very nice change in storytelling from a typical third person.
This is the first book in a new series by Pseudonyms Bosch, as well as the first book I have read of this particular author. This series ties into his previous one, which I plan to read after reading Bad Magic.

Story Summary:

(Taken from Goodreads)

As in fake. Cheesy. Unreal. At least, that’s what Clay, who has seen one magic show too many, thinks.

When words from his journal appear mysteriously on his school wall as graffiti, he never imagines that magic might be to blame. And when the same graffiti lands him at Earth Ranch, a camp for “troubled” kids on a remote volcanic island, magic is the last thing he expects to find there.

But at Earth Ranch, there is one strange surprise after another, until Clay no longer knows what to expect. Is he really talking to a llama? Did he really see a ghost? What is the scary secret hidden in the abandoned library? The only thing he knows for sure is that behind the clouds of vog (volcanic smog), nothing is as it seems. Can he solve the riddle of Earth Ranch before trouble erupts?

Elusive author Pseudonymous Bosch introduces an extraordinary new series that will have you believing in the unbelievable.

The Longer Review:
I think this story is a more exciting read if it is the first Book you have read from the author. Not having the familiarity with the author’s previous works makes it hard to peg where the story is going, and this adds to the excitement of the story. I Thought I had the story figured out, but the plot line moved back and forth making it hard to figure out how the book would end.

The narration is third person. The stories read as if someone is telling you the story. The narrator adds plenty of anecdotes to the story as he goes, sometimes adding his own personal opinions. I liked it; it is a different style and keeps the story fun and active.

Clay is a nice main character. He basically comes off as a C student Skateboarder with a knack for magic tricks, even though he hates magic. He isn’t an exemplary kid, but not a bad one either. His nerdy Big-Bang-Theory parents who take a hands off approach to parenting attribute to much of his misguided-ness as well as dealing with the disappearance of his brother. His parents are unique as far as support characters I’ve read, nice to see them break the parent molds we commonly see.

Conclusion:

Definitely a good read. A magic-mystery Survivor feel to it. Easy to start on this series and not Bosch’s original series. The original stories are in the same story arc as these. I want to read Bosch’s previous series now that I have read this one.

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The Map to Everywhere

 

 

The Quick Review:
This is the best read of the year. I loved it so much I will buy the hardcover when it comes out, even though I got the E-book for free. This book series will fit well into a shelf filled with Brandon Mull and Rick Riordan. The cover is one of those covers that make you want to buy the book (because everyone does judge books by their covers) and the story doesn’t let you down. Everything about this story feels different, original, and all blends together perfectly.

Story Summary:

(Taken from Goodreads) To Master Thief Fin, an orphan from the murky pirate world of the Khaznot Quay, the Map is the key to finding his mother. To suburban schoolgirl Marrill, it’s her only way home after getting stranded on the Pirate Stream, the magical waterway which connects every world in creation (Apparently she shouldn’t have climbed aboard the mysterious pirate ship that sailed out of nowhere and into a dry Arizona parking lot. How was she to know?).

With the help of a bumbling wizard and his crew, they must scour the many worlds of the Pirate Stream to gather the pieces of the Map to Everywhere, but they aren’t the only ones looking. A dark and sinister figure is hot on their tail, and if they can’t beat his ghostly ship to find the Map, it could mean the destruction of everything they hold dear-not least of all themselves!

In Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis’ first installment of a fantastical new series, adventure, magic, and hilarity collide in the treacherous skies and dangerous waters of the Pirate Stream. Heart-pounding escapades and a colorful cast of characters will have readers setting sail through this wholly original and unforgettable tale.

The Longer Review:

This book had a lot of “Why hasn’t anyone thought of that before” moments. It felt very original. Fin, one of the two main characters is fresh and completely out of the box. Many of the characters just struck me as different I didn’t find myself thinking about stereotypical characters types at all. There is no info dump and all the characters still have some mystery about them by the end of the book.

The scenery and locations in this book are fantastic. There all unexpected and it is hard to guess ahead to what’s in store as Fin and Marill travel down the pirate stream. They, along with the corky wizard Ardent and stern Captain Coll, hope from realm to realm on a magic induced goose chase that is hard to foreshadow. The story is very well thought out, the authors must have layered and re-layered the plot along the way. Every little detail in every chapter is related to the ending. Things I read over as such minor details became important at the end. There was no fluff or unnecessary chapters.

I disagree with the reviewers who say this book is too confusing. Middle school readers will have a fine time following along with this book. If the intended reader can keep up with a Fable haven book, then they will be fine reading through The Map to Everywhere.

There are a bunch of visuals that are going to be added to the final version that were left out of the advanced read copy. I want to know what they are! The book doesn’t need pictures, the writing is great, but the inner child in me wants to see the pictures. I want to see the movie as well. Can we get started on making that? There’s going to be a lot of cgi involved, so they need to get started now.

Conclusion:
Again, my read of the year. And that’s after reading Some Riordan earlier in the year (one of my favorites.) This book has the potential to be huge. I really hope it is. I want this to become a long series.

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Winter in the Soul by Jennifer Novotney

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Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX5yYhX7lwQ

Release Date: July 15, 2014

 

Giveaway:

includes 5 autographed posters and 5 keychains

Link:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d3e9353/

The Story:

In a world divided by power and greed, seventeen-year-old Lilika harbors an intense desire to return to Winter in the Soul, the place her family left to escape the darkness that was manifesting from a coldness of the soul.

When she meets Talon, their connection is evident right from the start, and together they travel through the Black Kingdom to recover Lilika’s stolen locket. And in search of an answer to the mystery behind Winter in the Soul.

Lilika holds the key to stopping the darkness from spreading. The fate of their world lies in her hands. Will she stop the Black Kingdom before its darkness overtakes them all, or will they succumb to the darkness that is spreading across the land?

 

The Quick Review:
Winter in the Soul is good story not to be judged by its cover. The cover doesn’t reveal much, but the story is a great adventure-high fantasy, with magic becoming a focal point toward the end. I really, really liked the story line, it is fresh take in the high fantasy/magic genre. The second half of the story read at way too quick a pace.

The main characters are 13-14 years old. The story feel more geared in the juvenile age range (8-12yrs) rather than the young adult genre (13-16yrs.) I think young readers just getting into high fantasy will really enjoy this book. This book hits the juvenile reading level right on the mark.

The Longer Review:

Jennifer Novotney puts a fresh take into high fantasy. The region/town naming convention is based on seasons. The magic system introduced has the potential to be beautifully simple or very complex in later books. Either or, the magic did not feel typical to previous stories I have read. I feel like Winter in the Soul is only scratching the surface on magic and this series could really “blossom” into it. Some pun intended there 🙂

The relationship between Lilika and Talon starts quick, but seems appropriate. Talon is pure chivalry. I like his character and we got to know some about him, but i want to know more and get a little more into his character. Lilika is flighty and is a doer before she is a thinker. Best way to describe her personality, is “on a whim.” She is curious and brave, and her personality shows off well start to finish. She wants to be responsible, but her actions are often misguided and create much of the adventure of the story.

The story started off with good detail and set up. Lilika is introduced and immediately finds the locket, she goes to school and does chores and we get a decent feel for her. She accompanies her father to the market in the town of Summer Harvest, about a half days carriage ride away. Talon, the other main character, is introduced at his home, an inn in summer harvest. We get some background to him and his story. Some detail aside, they get to the market for trading day and then shortly after that the story slams on the gas pedal from there till the end.

The book is 130 pages according to my e-reader. I think the story needed another 100 pages of minor details; segues and transitions and minor and background details. The second half of the story felt like an outline of the major events taking place in a bigger story. I wanted more ‘in between’ content to link things together and provide some continuity.

The first 11 of the 21 chapters were paced well and had good detail; the second half of the book is those 100 pages need to be added. Take chapters 12-13, 11 pages total, as an example. I felt like 6 major story events happened in these 11 pages, pretty much a major event every page and a half. The very end met the same speed up, where I though the culmination of the story spanned too few pages.

My other critique is there were a few inconsistencies and some unanswered questions for me on the reader end; most of these stem back to the fast pace and my want of more minor detail. An example would be how far is Winter in the Soul from Summer Harvest? The characters walk there over the course of those 11 pages, which indicates it is very close, and Lilika and Talon do not rest or eat along the way. Everyone speaks as if it is a hard place to get to, and I got the impression it was far away. The rest of my questions come with the ending chapters, so I will omit them to not to be a spoiler.

Conclusion:
I’m curious to see what towns lie past the few we were introduced in book one, since there are only 4 seasons, and three have been used. I also want to learn more about the magic. How are the protectors of the lockets bound to them, the extents of magic use in WITS, and so on?

The point is, I’m curious and want to know more. I hope there is a second book at some point, as he ending to this one suggests. Big things could happen and would be exciting to read.

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Author Bio:

Jennifer Novotney was born in Burbank, California and lived in Los Angeles for most of her life until settling in North Eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter. She attended California State University, earning a bachelors degree in journalism, and Northern Arizona University, earning a masters degree in English. After college, she spent several years writing and teaching, including at Pennsylvania State University.

Website: www.jennifernovotney.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jennovotney

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jen.novotney

Links:

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20869515-winter-in-the-soul

Anaiah Press: http://www.anaiahpress.com

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/winter-in-the-soul/id898049246?mt=11

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00LT8DMV6

B&N: STILL WAITING

Kobo:http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=Winter+in+the+Soul

iTunes: STILL WAITING

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/452937

Giveaway:

includes 5 autographed posters and 5 keychains

Link:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d3e9353/

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Learning How to be a Vampire

 

The Quick Review:
Count Dracula’s series Teenage Daughter is the first book in what could be a very exciting series. The start of the Transylvanica High series has a mix of Vampire Academy and True Blood (minus all the rated R stuff), but is a unique story and in no way a copycat to either. The first book is geared toward female readership, not to the level of Twilight though. There is a possibility that it take a turn away from the love story and move more towards action in later books, but we have to wait and see.

Story Summary
Sixteen-year-old Kula Lockhart has been living in the town of Harbor Heights, Michigan, for two months now, after moving there with her adopted mom from Cheyenne, Wyoming. She attends Transylvanica High School–one of several integrated pilot schools across the country where human and vampire students peacefully coexist.
Kula has no problem with the human-vampire bonding because she has always believed in equality among the living and the living dead.
But she is caught completely off guard upon learning that she is the half human daughter of Count Dracula, leader of the oldest and most powerful vampire clan.
She soon discovers that there are some sworn to protect her and others out to get her.
Someone is killing vampires and Kula fears she may be on the hit list. Staying alive becomes a priority as she adjusts to her birthright.
She also has a hot human boyfriend named Eriq. Will he accept her for who she is?

The Longer Review:
I want to see where this series leads. I think book one was good. It felt like a well written build up to start off a series. I anticipate the second in the series ramping up the action at a faster pace now that the grounds have been set for the series.

The Transylvanica high series mixes classic vampire lore with a fresh take on vampires in society. Count Dracula’s Teenage Daughter is not another rehash of stories I have read and is very different from the popular Vampire Academy Series. It has the whole school with vampires feel like Vampire Academy, but with a True Blood like version of Vampires being accepted into society. (It does not have any aspects of True Blood Adult aspects, the book is safe for young ages!)

Flowers did well introducing a cast of characters and adding in level of personality and relations ships. Most of the book focused on builds these (antagonist and protagonist) relationships, as well as Kula’s entry into the world of being a vampire. Some suspense and mystery is involved, with a decent surprise finish in the end.

The Vampires seem pretty standard. Fangs retract, silver and wood kill them, and they have to feed on blood. They can compel humans, and anyone they turn into a vampire becomes their sire: pretty standard stuff. What is different is the school. Transylvanica high is not your standard hush-hush secret vampire school. It is one of the first human-vampire integrated schools in America. Vampires have made a treat with humans, blood drives supply the vampire’s food sources, and they can become function members of society.

The story centers around new student Kula coming to Transylvanica high for the first time. As the title implies, she finds out she is Count Dracula’s Daughter and gets roped into two possible feuds. One feud vs. the rival vampire clan, and one vs. human opposition to vampires in society. It is yet to be seen if both these story lines develop at the same time or at different speed. Either will be exciting and I hope for a mix of both.

Conclusion:

Nice opening to a series. Definitely a series that can stand out from others later in the series.  I would recommend this book for girls preteen to teenage girls.

 

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COVER REVEAL: Winter in the Soul by Jennifer Novotney

The first cover reveal for Zero2fiction! Jenn Novotney’s first Novel Winter in the Soul. Check back here for a review and release date!

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Story:

In a world divided by power and greed, seventeen-year-old Lilika harbors an intense desire to return to Winter in the Soul, the place her family left to escape the darkness that was manifesting from a coldness of the soul.

Displaying JennNovotney.jpg

Author Jenn Novotney

When she meets Talon, their connection is evident right from the start, and together they travel through the Black Kingdom to recover Lilika’s stolen locket. And in search of an answer to the mystery behind Winter in the Soul.


Lilika holds the key to stopping the darkness from spreading. The fate of their world lies in her hands. Will she stop the Black Kingdom before its darkness overtakes them all, or will they succumb to the darkness that is spreading across the land?

Author Bio:

Jennifer Novotney was born in Burbank, California and lived in Los Angeles for most of her life until settling in North Eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter. She attended California State University, earning a bachelors degree in journalism, and Northern Arizona University, earning a masters degree in English. After college, she spent several years writing and teaching, including at Pennsylvania State University.

Website: www.jennifernovotney.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jennovotney

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jen.novotney

 

Links:

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20869515-winter-in-the-soul

Anaiah Press: http://www.anaiahpress.com

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Interview with Bethan-Ann Scott: Author of Empress Fallen

Bethan-Ann Scott is the youngest author I have had the chance to work with so far. Her first novel, Empress Fallen, is an exciting Space Opera that made its debut Late 2013.  Ms. Scott is already a well-traveled Scottish adventurer with an exciting career  ahead of her -(find some more out about her here.)

Among the many blogs Bethan-Ann hosts is The Writer, her fantasy fiction blog.  Talk to her on twitter to find out more about her and her other blogs, you could like her on Facebook too.

This interview has been my most unique and interesting one to date. Bethan-Ann shared with me some thought provoking ideas behind her writing, as well as a very entertaining ramble, and one answer that is practically an adventure story of its own.  Read on to see what I mean, and if you missed the review, find it here.

You are a very young author, with several blogs and now your first published novel, what gave you the inspiration and motivation to start writing?

One word: space. I’ve always had an irresistible fascination with the stars, and I want nothing more than to travel among them. However, I was enticed away from my first ambition to become an astronaut by a love of economics, history and politics. I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a pencil, and I was actually about eight years old when I began my first novel, a children’s fantasy book called ‘Ramosia’. I still have those 30,000ish words stashed away somewhere, and who knows, I may revisit them again in the future! My motivation comes through an ardent love of the power of words and imagination. And I think that sense of being anything you want to be, going anywhere you want to go, is just seductively enticing. That power of creation is a power like no other, and I relish becoming lost in my own creations. It’s really the path to immortality, isn’t it? Something Carl Sagan once said (one of my idols of course) has always driven me, ‘books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic.’

Empress Fallen is a Space-Opera that portrays government ambiguity; Was the original idea for Empress fallen to have political undertones?

Yes, it was. I had recently read Orwell’s ‘1984’ and was beginning delve into works by the likes of Friedman and Hayek. I was intrigued by the idea of a bloated government entangled within the entrapments of labyrinthine bureaucracy, as well as how political freedom is sacrificed when power is concentrated. So I essentially created an authoritarian state with elements of economic freedom but blatant corruption and ethical perversion. But I also can’t resist filling my stories with adventure, as well as that essential ingredient: romance. I’m going to decorate my words with another Carl Sagan quote: ‘for small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.’

For your career as a writer, would you rather be more known for your fantasy-fiction or political undertones in your writing (or perhaps something else)? Or more simply if you don’t want to answer that one is — Where would you hope to see your writing career in the future?

Great question. But I’ll answer the second one too! Firstly, I’d definitely want to be known for my political undertones, because I have plans to explore other genres too, such as high fantasy, literary fiction, historical fiction, murder mystery, and action adventure/thriller. Although there will most likely be scifi elements creeping into all of those! I’d love to be known as a political writer.

And as for the second question? Well, I’m someone who sets myself almost unattainably high standards, as well as being crazily competitive and insanely ambitious . . . so ideally, because why not, the truth is, well, probably the wildest dreams of any writer, would be something along the lines of the following: publish three books a year, all of them bestsellers, books rapidly made into internationally bestselling blockbusters that win ten Academy awards each, books then win a plethora of prizes, (the Pulitzer, the Carnegie, the Man Booker, definitely the Man Booker), travel all over the world as a philanthropist and advocate of peace and democracy, write some fiercely analytical and poignant political non-fiction that lead to international acclaim and honours from the Queen, then have a daring adventure across some war-torn nation chased by separatists or extremists where I fall madly in love with a fellow victim, before we finally make it back on British soil following an international campaign for our safe return, maybe another Man Booker, then somewhere along the way, a Nobel Peace Prize and a Nobel Prize in Literature. Also, somewhere in there, I also intend to be the second female British Prime Minister (either as a Tory or heading up a reinvented New Liberal Party centred around Friedman’s economics), as well as the Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, and the first person to set foot on Mars . . .

But I digress . . . My more realistic targets for my writing career are to publish at least one book a year from now on, and achieve widespread critical acclaim. (One of my life goals is to have one of my books made into a film by JJ Abrams!) Sorry for that long-winded reply, but my imagination tends to take off when I’ve had too much caffeine.

What is your favorite scene from Empress Fallen?

Aargh, how can you ask that? That’s like asking a parent to pick a favourite child! No . . . I can do this. Right, let’s think . . . Ok, my favourite scene would have to be . . . (spoiler alert!) when Miriam and co. are trying to escape the Eversor missile, when she kills her father, and when she finally tells Damon she loves him. My second favourite scene is the confrontation between Aliya and the Empress at the top of the Imperial Tower in Regnum, when all hell breaks lose. Also, I absolutely loved writing the final scene just before the epilogue!

What books are you reading now, or what type of books do you typically read?

Wow. That’s a question with a looong answer, but I’ll try to keep it concise! I read across a very wide range of genres. My all-time favourite books include Wuthering Heights, The Lord of the Rings, Murder on the Orient Express, The War of the Worlds, Life of Pi, and 1984. The book I’m reading right now is called ‘The Storyteller’ by Jodi Picoult.

What was your biggest take-away from your first experience writing a novel?

That sense of pride and satisfaction when you first hold a copy of your book in your hands. That’s an insurmountable emotion. And just the sense of accomplishment at completing a year-long project, and of course, the feedback from readers is so motivational. I can’t wait to work on and improve on areas that need improvement.

How did you choose to publish independently? Who was the greatest help along the way?

Well, I initially tried the traditional publishing route but their timescales were far too long and I wanted it published before I applied to university, so I withdrew my agency submissions. But in the future I’ll probably always try traditional first before committing to doing it independently. I think this is the consensus among most authors. It’s just fantastic that POD technology and the ebook market are liberating literature and advocating the love of reading and writing across the world. The landscape of literature is shifting, the tectonic plates are moving, and it heralds an era of independence, a new golden age. The success of an author no longer lies in the corrupt and sordid hands of the editor, with the single subjectivity of one individual with eyes only for money, but in the hands of the most supreme judge . . . the reader. Talent is now paramount. It’s great.

When writing Empress Fallen, did you start writing from the beginning, end, or somewhere in the middle of the book?

I started from the beginning but I actually only added in the prologue later on. The prologue-epilogue frame narrative was something I only realised was what I wanted about a third of the way through the novel.

Who was the first character or scene you created for Empress Fallen? I.E. where did the idea of Empress Fallen first begin?

The first character I created was the Empress herself. I remember when I first began thinking about this story almost two years ago now, I wrote down a string of ideas, something like, ‘empire, corrupt society, oppressed proletariat, empress, revolution.’ And it really just grew from there!

What was the hardest aspect of writing Empress Fallen?

The hardest aspect would probably be being forced to hurt my characters, my creations. I know that sounds rather odd and hypocritical as I’m the one hurting them, but sometimes the story just takes the author along for the ride!

Are you currently working on a sequel to Empress Fallen? How is it coming along?

Yes, Book II of the Through Darkness trilogy is coming along nicely! It’s called ‘Erebus Born’ and begins just over two months after the events of Book I. I’ve almost hit 20,000 words and plan to release it in November 2014. (And Book III of the trilogy will be released in November 2015!)

After the series is complete, do you have plans for a new series?

Oh, I have a thousand and one ideas! I suspect this is the same for all writers, especially those of fantasy and science fiction. Our heads are just teeming with stories. But the thing I’ll probably write first is a near-future science fiction called ‘Suspended in a Sunbeam’ set on Earth just after robots are distributed into households and factories worldwide. It centres around a young astrophysicist and explorer, John Ptolemy Falconer, and the new global space race! There’s also an epic scifi-fantasy series I’ve been planning called ‘The Nexus Key’, which involves Magi and FTL travel among other things. I also have a romance murder mystery in the works set in 19th century industrial London, as well as a literary fiction story that centres around a young Scottish student volunteering in Vietnam, who meets a mysterious, silent boy on the banks of the Red River and rapidly becomes drawn into a whole new reality of hardship, love and courage. Thank you for all these fantastic questions, by the way. Now, I’ll get back to writing! (After I make another cup of tea!)

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