October 18, 2014

Book review: Hunger by Michael Grant


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Description:
It's been three months since everyone under the age of fifteen became trapped in the bubble known as the FAYZ.

Three months since all the adults disappeared. GONE.

Food ran out weeks ago. Everyone is starving, but no one wants to figure out a solution. And each day, more and more kids are evolving, developing supernatural abilities that set them apart from the kids without powers. Tension rises and chaos is descending upon the town. It's the normal kids against the mutants. Each kid is out for himself, and even the good ones turn murderous.

But a larger problem looms. The Darkness, a sinister creature that has lived buried deep in the hills, begins calling to some of the teens in the FAYZ. Calling to them, guiding them, manipulating them.

The Darkness has awakened. And it is hungry.

 
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

October 11, 2014

Gifted release announcement

My latest novel, a YA Fantasy story titled Gifted, has officially been released! You can now buy it on Amazon. Although Gifted won't be available at other retailers for another few months, the upside is that it's part of the KDP Select program. That means it's also available for free to Kindle Unlimited members and eligible for borrowing if you're an Amazon Prime customer as part of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. Enjoy!


In a kingdom where the Gifteds are captured and thrown into fights to the death, Voima is fortunate that she is just a Regular. However, her brother, Vendd, isn’t so lucky. Since his Power started manifesting itself, the siblings have lived a life on the run, barely escaping the king’s soldiers.

Just as Voima and Vendd have settled into a new home, a fleeing Gifted enters their lives, begging for help but bringing soldiers after him. Despite the siblings’ efforts, the soldiers discover Vendd’s Power. Now Voima, an outmatched Regular girl, must find a way to defeat the kingdom’s most dangerous Gifteds in order to save her brother from certain death.  

October 4, 2014

Book review: God Made You Special by Eric Metaxas


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Description:
Bob s red and round, and he bounces cause he has no feet. Madame Blueberry lives in a tree. What makes her special? She s as blue as can be. What about those French Peas? They speak with zee accent. Tots will discover that it s okay to be different, because God made you special and he loves you very much. Through fun rhymes and humor, and some help from those lovable Veggies, little ones will realize that God makes everyone special!
 
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

September 27, 2014

Gifted pre-order

My latest novel, a YA Fantasy story titled Gifted, is scheduled to be released on October 10th! For those of you who can't wait that long to click the Buy button, you can pre-order it now from Amazon.


In a kingdom where the Gifteds are captured and thrown into fights to the death, Voima is fortunate that she is just a Regular. However, her brother, Vendd, isn’t so lucky. Since his Power started manifesting itself, the siblings have lived a life on the run, barely escaping the king’s soldiers.

Just as Voima and Vendd have settled into a new home, a fleeing Gifted enters their lives, begging for help but bringing soldiers after him. Despite the siblings’ efforts, the soldiers discover Vendd’s Power. Now Voima, an outmatched Regular girl, must find a way to defeat the kingdom’s most dangerous Gifteds in order to save her brother from certain death.  

September 23, 2014

Celestial


I'm happy to announce the release of a new YA anthology: Celestial. These ten short stories revolve around the common theme of the appearance of a comet. See how all of the authors were able to weave that element into stories that span various YA genres!

The best part is, you can download Celestial for FREE from these retailers:

From the beginning of time, the mysteries of the night sky have captivated humanity. Our ancestors foretold the future through the phases of the moon, worshiped the countless stars, and feared the comets that streaked across the sky before disappearing back into darkness.

Now, ten YA authors have come together to explore the impact the appearance of a comet can have on a life, a relationship… or an entire world.

 

'Shadow' by Sarah Dalton. When Mary visits her Aunt Izzy's remote seaside bungalow, past and present collide. She soon realises a dark shadow hangs over her childhood memories, leaving her a task she would rather not complete... A haunting ghost story that explores the delicate relationships between women. Part of the 'Mary Hades' series.
 

‘The Sleeping Goddess’ by Zoe Cannon. On the eve of a once-in-a-thousand-years celestial event, the last surviving priestess must decide whether to obey her goddess and destroy an entire race… or follow her heart and let her own people die.
 

‘Before the Pageant’ by Susan Fodor. In a dystopian city where appearances are everything, Ambrose Addams spends all her time striving to be number one. With classical beauty, the hottest boyfriend in TealĂ©, and the most sought after position in the city, Ambrose should be happy; things rarely go the way they should. One fortuitous exchange will not only change her priorities, but the whole course of her life.
 

‘Comet Cotillion (A Celestial Mini-Wave)’ by Sutton Shields. Marina Valentine spends her days in The Helena Hambourg House for Maladies, where each hour presents a new fight for survival. Life in an institution isn’t exactly ideal, but for Marina, nothing could be more dangerous than being caught in the middle of a vicious scheme cooked up by the evil Head Hoodooess, Madame Helena. Now, Marina and her quirky friends must find a way to escape before everything that makes them special is taken away forever. ‘Comet Cotillion’ is a short, fun-filled prequel to the events occurring in The Merworld Water Wars series by Sutton Shields.
 

‘The Shadow Keepers’ by Anya Allyn. At the terrifying moment that seven-year-old Molly discovers her mother dead, she sees a stranger standing in the room: a teenage girl. The girl holds a shocking secret. A new story from The Dark Carousel series.
 

‘Tragic Magic’ by Jamie Campbell. A stalking ex-boyfriend is one thing. When he is a demon, it’s a whole new ballgame. Lacey would like to think she is an average teenager, except the witch is anything but. In order to get rid of her crazed ex, she must draw on all her powers to vanquish him forever.
 

‘The Greenhouse Gas’ by Ariele Sieling. Galya wakes up to the flash of a falling comet, and discovers that her escape pod is floating in a graveyard of spaceships. Confused and scared, she and her brother set out to search the destroyed ships for signs of their father... or any life at all. This story retells Hansel and Gretel is set in outer space.
 

‘Project #45’ by Marijon Braden. The Brightness wasn’t the end of the world, but it might as well have been. Now, Amy and her family are trying to rebuild their lives, trying to return to some kind of normalcy, all the time wondering…why did it happen? How? And when will it happen again? And a million years (Miles? Worlds?) away, the answer is so simple…
 

‘Moon Warrior’ by H.S. Stone. Separated from her tribe after a sand dragon attack, Luna finds herself alone with no food or shelter. She must cross a desert wasteland to find her people again, but when she loses their trail, she discovers that her warrior instincts may not be enough to save her.
 

‘Love Me or Love Me Not’ by Katie Hayoz. Six months ago, Star’s parents left her with a disturbing secret, one she's guarded despite everything. But as the comet she’s been observing grows brighter and brighter in the sky, the consequences of keeping that secret come to light. A tragic story exploring sanity, love, and the quest for fulfillment. 

September 20, 2014

Book review: Star Struck by Jamie Campbell


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Description:
Melrose Morgan was your typical teenager, flipping burgers and surviving high school the best she could. Yet all that changed after a chance encounter took her face to face with the world’s biggest superstar.

Living every girl’s fantasy, Melrose falls for one fifth of the most successful boy bands on the planet, Cole Newton. He invites her on a date and she can’t help but fall in love with her idol.

But in a world that is full of shining stars, can one small town girl really capture the heart of a supernova? Find out in the first installment of the Star Kissed series.

 
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

September 13, 2014

What I like about my favorite characters

I'm the type of reader whose enjoyment of a story is greatly influenced by my feelings toward the main characters. All things being equal, I'm more likely to enjoy books where I like the protagonists.

What makes me like a character? I've been trying to figure that out because I also want to write characters that readers feel an affinity toward. Here's my list of what attracts me to my favorite characters.
  1. They exhibit redeeming qualities that would make me like them in real life. I like people who are unselfish, modest, and dependable, for example. Fortunately, in many of the books I read, the main characters possess those qualities. They're the typical "good guys." Consider the trio in Harry Potter or Katniss and Peeta from The Hunger Games. They think of others, are fiercely loyal to their friends, but they don't seek the limelight despite their achievements.
  2. They have a flaw that they overcome. I don't expect the protagonists to be perfect. In fact, they shouldn't be, but through the course of the story, they should discover their major flaws and strive to address them. That assumes that the character wants to better himself/herself, which is another quality I like. Oh, and the flaw can't be something so huge that it's unforgivable.
  3. They are believable. Regardless of whether a story takes place in a fantasy world or a distant future, the characters should act believably, even when their actions seem extreme. For example, when Katniss volunteers for the Hunger Games in Prim's place, I believed she'd really do that because of her love for her sister.
  4. They have a sense of humor. This is a bonus. I like plenty of characters who are serious, but it's more fun to read a book where the characters inject humor into their situations.

Conversely, there are factors that make me dislike a character (and hence a book).
  1. They are flawed to an unforgivable extent or they don't try to fix their flaws. I'm not a fan of the anti-hero as a protagonist. Nor do I particularly enjoy main characters who are drunks, violent, lazy, or otherwise exhibit attributes I dislike in people I meet. For example, I just finished reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Her writing is great, but I didn't like the book as much as I could have because I just didn't like the character of Nick Dunne. I won't go into details about what he does because I would give away spoilers, but he's flawed to the point that I would dislike him if I knew him in real life.
  2. They make dumb decisions or decisions that seem to only move the plot forward. Matched is a great example of this. Although I liked Ally Condie's writing, I just couldn't get over the fact that Cassie chose Ky over Xander so early in the story for no apparent reason other than that, if she didn't, there'd be no story. Needless to say, I stopped reading that series after the first book.
  3. This is more of a comment on character development than the characters themselves. When an author spends too much time on "character development" by describing everything they do in every hour of every day of their lives (hello, Stephen King?), that puts me to sleep. You don't need 600 pages to develop your characters!

What is it about your favorite characters that make you like them so much? What don't you like about your least favorite characters?