on Dec 17, 2013

Today we're happy to host author Suzanna Linton as part of a blog tour for her fantasy novel "Clara." Without further ado...

One day, my husband rearranged our study, where I do my writing, to make room for some new bookcases.  He wedged my desk between two bookcases, despite my suggestion that it be moved so that it faced the window.  I had imagined looking out at the trees lining the drive whenever I got stuck on a scene, as if the sway of river birches could dislodge an idea.  It seemed ideal.  However, now I faced a beige wall.

I made a face.  I complained.  But my darling spouse insisted that this was the better choice.

“You won’t get distracted, like you would at a window,” he said.

As I thought about it, I realized I could only agree.  If I sat in front of a window, I’d spend more time watching birds and butterflies than actually writing.  And I decided to put the space into good use, taping little sayings on the wall for me to read whenever I felt lost or needed a kick in the rear to get going.  I thought I’d share a few with you, along with my thoughts on them.

Write drunk, edit sober. – Ernest Hemingway

I don’t think Mr. Hemingway meant this literally.  Though, this is Hemingway, so maybe he did.  But since I don’t want to take it literally, I’d like to think that he’s saying, “Write with lowered inhibitions.  Disgorge your subconscious onto the paper.  A drunk comes up with an idea and does it without first checking for any warning labels.  Writers should do the same.  In fact, writers don’t write for anyone other than themselves and they certainly don’t write to please everyone.  Politicians do.”  It’s when everything is out and the first draft is completed that we should then go over it with a critical eye.

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.  – Jack London

Every time I hear someone say, “I can’t write today because I don’t have the muse”, I want to throw something, preferably something heavy and preferably at the speaker.  However, that’s a bit hypocritical because I’ve said the same thing.  At the same time, though, I know I’m saying it because I just don’t want to write.  As Chuck Wendig once said, the only way to survive as a novelist is “by spot-welding one’s ass to the office chair every day and putting the words to screen and paper no matter what.”   It doesn’t matter if you want to or whether you feel “inspired”.  Inspiration is not to be waited upon but gone after or just done without entirely.  Writing is hard.  It’s a job.  The sooner you accept this, the happier you’ll be.  Well, as happy as any writer can expect to be.

You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer. – Margaret Atwood

Writing is not for the weak of heart.  It’s more than telling a story.  It’s sharing an important part of your mind and heart.  These characters aren’t just abstract ideas to a writer but real people.  It’s natural to feel some protectiveness.  Also, there’s the fact that you’re opening yourself up to criticism.  So, yes, it does take a good bit of nerve and gumption.  This isn’t a quality that can be had right away, though.  It takes time to develop that nerve.  It takes time to build up those callouses that keep us safe from the barbs of critics.  But once that courage, that nerve, has been attained, then it’s easier to plow ahead.  It's easier to write drunk and edit sober.

The first draft of everything is shit. – Ernest Hemingway

This has to be my favorite quote from Hemingway.  We writers are known for our OCD ways.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak to my own desire to get everything right on the first go.  As Hemingway so succinctly puts it, that’s not going to happen.  The point of the first draft is to get everything out onto paper.  Once you’ve done that, then you can worry about smoothing over the rough spots, cutting away the dead wood, or whatever metaphor you prefer.  The point is, don’t despair if it isn’t Nobel Prize-worthy material right away, and don’t have the arrogance to think that it already is.  The former will tempt you to give up and the latter will bar you from any improvement.

And improvement is the lifeblood of the author.  You never stop getting better.  You should never stop trying to get better.  Finally, it's important to realize that there will always be someone better than you.

I hope these little quotes give you the push you may need to get to writing or perhaps the wisdom to pull out of a rut, if you’ve fallen into one.  However, I think I’ll close with one more.  One that isn’t on my wall but which I think I will add:

Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously. – Lev Grossman

About the Book

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To save a nation, Clara will have to see through both the fog of war, and the fog of her own heart...

Sold into slavery as a child, and rendered mute by the horrors she suffered, Clara's life extends no further than the castle kitchens and their garden. Those who know about her just think of her as the dull mute girl who may be a little soft in the head, not knowing that she carries within herself a precious gift: the ability to see the future. This is a gift she keeps secret, though, for fear of persecution.

However, a vision prompts her to prevent a murder, shoving her not only into the intrigues and gilded life of the nobility, but also into a civil war brewing in her country. As events unfold, and she is drawn deeper into the conflict, she meets an old friend, makes a new one, and begins to unearth secrets better left buried.

Driven to learn the truth about the war, and about her friends, Clara embarks on a journey that takes her from her beloved mountains to the very Capital itself, Bertrand, where she is confronted by an evil both ancient and twisted. The only problem is, her own anger and prejudices are the catalysts her enemy needs to complete its plans. If she is not careful, not only will the entire nation be lost, but her own soul as well.

About the Author

Suzanna Linton was born in South Carolina and grew up in Orangeburg County. In 2002, she attended the summer program in fiction and poetry for the SC Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities. After graduating high school, she went on to Francis Marion University, where she majored in English. In 2013, she received Honorable Mention in the Sidney Lanier Poetry Award Competition.

When she's not writing or working at the local library, Suzanna can be found either reading or gardening. She also loves to watch movies and television series. Right now, she's nose deep in The Walking Dead, White Collar, and Star Trek.

She lives with her husband and their two dogs, Benedict and Scholastica, in Florence, SC.

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on Dec 15, 2013
Rating: 4 stars

Genre: Fantasy / Epic Fantasy


Drawn into the schemes of an angry wizard, Carin glimpses the place she once called home. It lies upon a shore that seems unreachable. To learn where she belongs and how to get there, the teenage traveler must decipher the words of an alien book, follow the clues in a bewitched poem, conjure a dragon from a pool of magic -- and tread carefully around a seductive but volatile, emotionally scarred sorcerer who can't seem to decide whether to love her or kill her.

The Warlock


 This is the first book in what promises to be a fascinating fantasy trilogy. Carin is a foundling with a secret or two even she isn't aware of yet. Sent north by the wisewoman of her village, she stumbles into Lord Verek's domain--and into some serious trouble. Verek if is a warlock with a tragic past, and while he does do occasional nice things, the man has some serious emotional baggage resulting in verbal, emotional and borderline physical abuse. I was right there with Carin, ready to escape him whenever possible, and not trusting him farther than ... well, not trusting him, period. I kept waiting for him to come to his senses and redeem himself (he had to be the most frustratingly mean character I've ever met) but he hasn't yet. I'm hoping for a major epiphany to hit him in Book 2!

In addition to the tense power dynamics in the relationship between Carin and Verek, this book also intrigued me by the way "Alice's Adventures Through The Looking-Glass" was woven in. Yes, you read that right. There's a riddle here, and it's summed up in the appearance of that classical work in a fantastical land where it doesn't belong. Oh, and Carin's ability to read it. Let me stop there, before I say too much...

I did find the dialogue a little too formal for me. By this I mean that a character might state two or three thoughts, and then leave it open for another character to respond. So we end up with a series of mini-monologues rather than punchy or back-and-forth dialogue. This can work in some situations, but when people are angry (specifically, both people involved are angry), no one's going to wait for someone to wind through three different points before jumping in to address the first point. In this way, the dialogue often lost its force for me.

The only other aspect of this book that frustrated me was Carin's tendency to pick fights / say the wrong thing. Now, in general I wouldn't have a thing to say about this: it's a personality trait, and it's hers, and look what she gets for it! But ... but we're given to understand that Carin hasn't talked for most of her life--she started out completely silent after she was found as a child, not speaking a word for over a year. From that time till she left her town to head north, she stuck to silence as her best defense. So ... I was expecting silence to be her strength. I wanted her to know when to keep silent; and how to use silence as a weapon. But she didn't have that, and it puzzled me because it seemed inconsistent with her history.

Finally, The Warlock ends on a major cliffhanger--be warned. However, it's a cliffhanger that's cleared up within a few pages in the next book. (Yes, I immediately jumped in to find out!) I'm a little ambivalent on that score. As an author, I understand the need to draw readers into the next book. But as a reader, I hate cliffhangers, especially ones that could easily have been resolved in the book in question without adding on much more length. So judge that one for yourself :)

Overall, a fun and engaging read, with an intriguing premise and plenty of mystery.

About the Author

Deborah Lightfoot

Castles in the cornfield provided the setting for Deborah J. Lightfoot’s earliest flights of fancy. On her father’s farm in Texas, she grew up reading tales of adventure and reenacting them behind ramparts of sun-drenched grain. She left the farm to earn a degree in journalism and write award-winning books of history and biography. High on her Bucket List was the desire to try her hand at the genre she most admired. The result is WATERSPELL, a multi-layered fantasy about a girl and the wizard who suspects her of being so dangerous to his world, he believes he'll have to kill her ... which troubles him, since he's fallen in love with her. Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock; Waterspell Book 2: The Wysard; and Waterspell Book 3: The Wisewoman.
on Dec 14, 2013
Giveaway Alert!
Melissa Sasina is doing a giveaway for two signed copies of Defiance,
Book One of the Priestess Trilogy!

Shiovra has been named High Priestess of the village Tara, but she quickly finds herself hunted by the Milidh, a clan born of war and vengeance. With the safety of Tara at stake, it is decided that she is to seek aid from her betrothed, one she considers the enemy.

At her side is Odhrán, a Milidh warrior sworn to protect her and determined to gain her trust. But their journey is fraught with peril and Shiovra learns that darkness lurks in the hearts of her own kin.
Steeped in ancient Irish myth, this tale is spun of love, war, and DEFIANCE.

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on Dec 10, 2013

Today we're excited to share an interview with Mr. Hillel Cooperman, author of the Madrona Heroes Register, as part of his blog tour with Enchanted Book Promotions. Find out more about this fun middle grade fantasy story below the interview.

1. Hi, Mr. Cooperman! Thanks for accepting this interview. Can you tell us all a little about yourself and why you became a writer?

I’m 45 years old and live in Seattle, WA. I’m a single father of three children – ages 12, 10, and 7. Much like the three main characters in my book. :) I really never considered myself a writer even though I’ve written constantly over the last decade or more. Mostly I wrote non-fiction in the course of my job as a software designer, and as a restaurant blogger. But fiction was always something that I thought was likely more daunting than I could deal with. But my desire to tell this story and create this world eventually became more terrible than the fear of failing or creating something lousy. So a year and a half ago I started outlining the story that would become the broader arc of the Madrona Heroes Register.

2. Can you tell us a little about The Madrona Heroes Register series? 

The first book – The Madrona Heroes Register: Echoes of the Past – is actually book #4 in the series. (Because Star Wars.) And it goes like this:  Someone in ten-year-old Binny Jordan’s family has a super power – and it’s not her. Binny’s seven-year-old sister Cassie can turn herself invisible and now a strange man is keenly interested in what Cassie can do. Binny’s parents seem more distracted than ever, and her older brother Zach is hiding something of his own. Binny needs to find a way to protect her sister, but she’s never felt more alone.

The overall series is really about these three children (who resemble my own in only positive ways :) Zach, Binny, and Cassie – siblings – who have to deal with the introduction of a superpower into their family.  Eventually, over the course of the books I intend to create a new superhero universe along the lines of DC or Marvel. But more importantly I gravitate towards more realistic superhero stories, and that’s really what I’m striving for here. What would actually happen if a seven-year-old suddenly had a superpower?

4. Who is your favorite character in your books and why?

In this book there’s really no contest, my favorite character is Binny. She is smart, and honest, and resourceful. She’s sensitive too. She feels things deeply. But ultimately she always tries to do the right thing. I guess both in terms of how I am and how I hope to be I see a lot of myself in Binny.

5. Where do you write? (If you have a picture, we'd love to see it!)
I write mostly either in my home office or at Chocolati coffee house in Seattle, WA. I don’t drink coffee (or tea) so a coffeehouse that specializes in hot chocolate is just my speed. It gives me the sugar I need to function. And it also makes an appearance in the book under a different name. Here’s me in my favorite spot:


Note from Intisar: I go to coffeehouses for hot chocolate too! Can't stand coffee, and will only consume tea in situations of dire peer pressure. Good to know there's someone else out there like me!

6. What five books are on your "keeper shelf" of books? 

These are books also targeted at young adults and kids:

·         Danny the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl

·         Drangonsinger by Anne McCafferey

·         Harry Potter by JK Rowling (duh)

·         The Stand by Stephen King

·         Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson

·         FTW by Cory Doctorow

7. If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?

·          Invisibility. Duh. :)

Thanks for the interview, Mr. Cooperman!

Part I  |  Part II  |  Part III  |  Part IV

Someone in ten-year-old Binny Jordan’s family has a super power – and it’s not her. Binny’s seven-year-old sister Cassie can turn herself invisible and now a strange man is keenly interested in what Cassie can do. Binny’s parents seem more distracted than ever, and her older brother Zach is hiding something of his own. Binny needs to find a way to protect her sister, but she’s never felt more alone.

About the Author

Hillel Cooperman has pretended to be a superhero since he was a small child. He conceived of the story of the Madrona Heroes in the summer of 2012 on a trip abroad with his family. By winter, he had started writing in earnest. He lives in the Madrona neighborhood of Seattle with his three children, their three cats, and thousands of Lego bricks. His superpower is procrastination. The Madrona Heroes Register is his first novel.

on Dec 7, 2013
Blurb: When Clary Fray heads out to Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder. Much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with odd markings. This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons-and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It's also her first meeting with gorgeous, golden-haired Jace. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in an ordinary mundane like Clary? And how did she suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know....

Genre(s): Young Adult / Paranormal / Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Review: City of Bones has been gotten a good lot of attention recently, mostly in part to it's movie adaptation, but even before that the book and its sequels have been fan favorites. Which leads me to believe that mayhap I am missing something.

This novel is a good read, obviously aimed at younger teen girls, however, I fail to see what launched it into the Twilight/Hunger Games region. Then again I still don't understand how either of those books became so popular anyway.

Moving on...

Cassandra Clare seems to be a fan of having normal, unmagical people react surprisingly well to magical/supernatural creatures. This tends to be far too unrealistic to the reader. Honestly would any of us be any semblance of calm after learning that vampires and goblins are real, or after seeing a demon in your apartment.

My favorite character was actually Luke, the mystery and intrigue surrounding his loyalty and motives made for truly interesting reading. Clary was...alright. I feel that with her and other characters we only see the surface of their personalities. It would be nice to be given a little more insight into her, then again this is the first book of a six book series so I can give a little leeway. Jace wasn't attractive to me personally. I found him annoying and read through the scenes with him extra fast so I could move on to more compelling material.

*Spoilers* They are siblings!?! What the heck! I mean really, this is Luke and Leia all over again. And did any of us honestly need to relieve that? I mean I'm hoping and assuming that this isn't true. Mostly by the fact that there was no other male lead who could by Clary's romantic interest. Still it was one of the worst, possibly worst twists I've ever read. Ugh.

The ending just left me very confused. Everything felt sloppy rushed, nothing was really explained and it moved so fast I had no idea what was going on.

All in all if your looking for another teen, pop read this is an okay book.  

About the Reviewer: M. A. Bronson is a bookworm, book reviewer, and aspiring author. Since 2012, she has been reviewing indie and traditionally published books at runawaypen.com. She spends her time reading, drinking tea, writing, and ardently shipping RumBelle. M lives in Upstate New York and works at a library, happily surrounded by thousands of stories. Connect with her on twitter and instagram @theprincessmab
on Dec 5, 2013

Before he knew the Oracle...
Before he knew the Quad...
Before the Great Unknown threatened his world...
He was a hero, cursed forever.

Cover Designed by: Colin F. Barnes
Publication Date: March 18, 2014
Genre: YA Mythology
Series: Mythos: Stories from Olympus #2/Oracle of Delphi #3.5

*WARNING* To be read after Prophecy of Solstice's End (Oracle of Delphi #3)
Contains MAJOR spoilers!

Shunned by a family that doesn't understand him, demigod Lenka Tahile aka "Swindle" is a complete loner and he likes it that way. Then he meets the hero, Ace Remedy, the brother of an infamous demigod Prince, and his life goes from bad to worse. Ace is loud, rude, and disruptive to his peaceful existence in every way. He's also hilarious and daring, and Swindle ends up finding a friend just when he thought he'd never have another.

But little does he know, becoming friends with Ace was all part of the Fates' plan. Now his past is slowly coming back to haunt him and there's nothing he can do to stop it. Nothing but try not to bring to light the lost love, the failed hopes, and the cursed existence that he would kill to keep in the dark.

Five Facts about Hero, Cursed

1. Lenka Tahile is a South African name. The MC was born in South Africa.

2. "Swindle" is Lenka's celestial name. He is a son of Hermes. Figure it out.

3. The hawk on the cover is not a tattoo. His name is Bill and he's Swindle's Fauna Morph, an animal that morphs into a weapon on command.

4. Though it isn't showcased on the cover, Swindle has extremely curly hair. Out of control, I tell you.

5. Just like Solar, Defeated, this novella switches back and forth between the present and the past, and reveals what life was like for Swindle before the Oracle of Delphi came along.

Mythos: Stories from Olympus #1

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Diantha Jones was born the day thousands of turkeys sacrificed their lives to fill millions of American bellies on November 22 which also happened to be Thanksgiving Day (Her mother says she owes her a turkey). She is a Journalism graduate who wants to be a career novelist (of books, not Facebook posts). When not writing or working, she is reading on her Nook, being hypnotized by Netflix or on a mission to procure french fries.

The Oracle of Delphi fantasy series is her first series. She is also the author of Mythos: Stories from Olympus, a companion series, and there is another fantasy series in the works. She also writes (new) adult fantasy/paranormal romance under the name A. Star. Invasion (An Alien Romance) is her first title released under this pen name. Future releases under A. Star include, Mythos: Gods and Lovers series, the Love & Steampunk series, the Purr, Inc. stories, and more.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Pinterest  |  DJ's Book Corner

on Dec 3, 2013

Rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy


Amateur photographer Beth Ryder is in trouble. She's taking pictures of things she can't see, things that aren't human. Beth has her own dreams, but people like her don't get to go free. She's seized by a dangerous organization dedicated to keeping Earth's shadow world -- and its frightening inhabitants -- a secret. Forced into otherworldly politics and uncertain whom to trust, Beth must come to terms with a radically altered future -- one in which her own humanity seems to be draining away.

The Emanations Series

Of all the beings that have lived on Earth, what if just a few had the power to make new realities, according to their desires? What would they create? The Second Emanation: a shadow world where ancient creatures persist, where humanity's dominance is far less certain, where wonder competes with horror. A world like an autumn forest, its realities as multiple and layered as fallen leaves. The world that gives us our gods.

In Becca Mills's Emanations series, this strange and magical world crosses paths with a seemingly ordinary young woman from the American Midwest. It'll never be the same again.

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A fast moving and well paced story of a young woman who discovers she's more paranormal than normal...not the most unique premise, but I loved a few things about this story:

(a) The heroine. The heroine begins the story with panic disorder. I've never really understood what it might be like to have such a disorder, and it was both eye-opening and very clear that Ms. Mills has done a very good job researching this. Even better, as the story progresses so does character development.

(b) The romantic element. Guess what? It's not overpowering, and the first man, or two, that you meet after discovering all is not right in the world, is not necessarily your soul mate.

(c) The paranormal element. It's a new take on demons, and I've yet to meet any angels. I liked it a lot. (Maybe I'm tired of angels, but then, I'm also tired of demons, so it's saying something that I enjoyed this.)

(d) The writing itself is strong, fluid, and just descriptive enough. The only reason I dropped this story down half a point was because of the "Ghosteater" passages. They're from the perspective of "Ghosteater" but not--they're actually first person from our heroine's perspective, and it was just awkward and very odd to me that she could be inside Ghosteater's head, know everything he's thinking as strange as it might be to humans, and yet not (by the end of the book) reveal some sort of psychic connection with him. Really, though, the first person interjections in these passages just read awkwardly, and it felt like a misfiring of craft.

Overall, an enjoyable and adrenaline-packed ride. Recommended for readers of paranormal fantasy, epic fantasy, and demon-fans.

Note this is a new-adult read, not my typical YA fare. :)

About the Author

Becca Mills is an over-educated, under-exercised lover of good coffee, science, and fast cars. And books. Oh yes. She believes the world can be a rough place and that everyone deserves to leave it behind now and then. That pretty much makes books a human right, no?

Becca is currently completing Book 2 of the Emanations series. When not novelizing, she spends quite a bit of time on her "day job" as a college professor teaching literature and writing.

on Nov 24, 2013
Blurb: Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gaitlin has ever seen,
and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for
generations.  But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and
crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret
cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gaitlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Genre(s): Young Adult / Paranormal / Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

I first heard about this book at work, I do in fact work at a library, but I was disappointed, especially after the hype surrounding the novels and movie.

To be honest the book was alright. It was neither very bad, nor was it very good. It reminded me in many ways of Twilight. It seemed expertly written for teens, with the easy, well-flowing writing and teens that never really seem to act like actual teenagers.

I enjoyed that this book was written from the male point of view. Ethan is an interesting main character, he has always been popular but has never felt fulfilled by the clique politics of Gaitlin high school. But that also brings me to the abundance of stereotypes in this novel, it lead to very flat characters, even Ethan and Lena were so predictable at times. I know it is a common complaint of girls in YA fiction but for goodness sake Lena never seemed to be able to make up her mind about anything.

I guess to sum it up this book was nothing special to me. If I hadn't had to watch the movie at my 'real life' job or if there wasn't quite a bit of hype surrounding the movie release then I would never have read this novel. Another novel that's an easy read for teens but has very little substance.

Spiolers: Near the end of the book we discover that Lena was destined to make the choice all along, and for some reason, that this reviewer has yet to decipher none of her relatives would tell her that. That's all fine and good but instead of choosing good (kind of obvious wouldn't you think?) she becomes both good and bad??? This felt like a cheap way to ensure there would be a need for a second book. The whole novel builds on her fear of becoming evil, and yet at the end she's somehow perfectly fine with being half evil...say what!?!

One final note, if you are considering watching the movie, I would strongly discourage it. Beautiful Creatures (the movie) or as I like to call it "Trueblood Lite" is just as ridiculous as the comparison suggests. Filled with all the stereotyping, racism and meaningless sexual encounters and/or innuendos of the HBO show, yet directed towards teens. Especially disturbing given that the two main characters spend the majority of the movie being FIFTEEN. Yeah, the movie was bad, like 'beg for those two hours of your life back' bad.

About the Reviewer: M. A. Bronson is a bookworm, book reviewer, and aspiring author. Since 2012, she has been reviewing indie and traditionally published books at runawaypen.com. She spends her time reading, drinking tea, writing, and ardently shipping RumBelle. M lives in Upstate New York and works at a library, happily surrounded by thousands of stories. Connect with her on twitter and instagram @theprincessmab
on Nov 21, 2013
Rating: 5 / 5

Genre: Graphic Novel


In Kansas in the year 1937, eleven-year-old Jack Clark faces his share of ordinary challenges: local bullies, his father’s failed expectations, a little sister with an eye for trouble. But he also has to deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl, including rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness. Certainly a case of "dust dementia" would explain who (or what) Jack has glimpsed in the Talbot’s abandoned barn — a sinister figure with a face like rain. In a land where it never rains, it’s hard to trust what you see with your own eyes — and harder still to take heart and be a hero when the time comes. With phenomenal pacing, sensitivity, and a sure command of suspense, Matt Phelan ushers us into a world where desperation is transformed by unexpected courage.


It's been a while since I read a graphic novel, and even longer since I was so deeply impressed by what I read--or saw, in the case of this book. The Storm in the Barn is probably geared towards middle graders, telling the story of an eleven year old boy and his family living on a desolate farm during the Dust Bowl. As an adult, it was captivating. This story has almost no words; this is a story of silences, words unspoken, and fears both spoken and dreamt. The young hero, Jack Clark, must face bullies, a deep sense of failure in meeting his father's expectations, a dust-related illness that leaves his eldest sister bedridden, and a deep sense of hopelessness. That's a lot for a child, and in some ways Jack is older than his years--believably so. He's had to grow up a little too fast, and it shows. But as he begins to uncover the mystery of the presence in the abandoned barn on the next farm over, Jack begins to come into his own. It's a beautiful, gripping story--and a very quick read for adults. Highly recommended.

About the Author

Matt Phelan made his illustrating debut with Betty G. Birney’s The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster). Since then he has illustrated many picture books and novels for young readers, including Where I Live by Eileen Spinelli (Dial), Very Hairy Bear by Alice Schertle (Harcourt), and The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (Simon & Schuster) winner of the 2007 Newbery Medal.

Matt studied film and theater in college with the goal of one day writing and directing movies. But his first love was always drawing, and the more he saw the wonderful world of children’s books, the more he realized that this was the place for him. Being an illustrator is in many ways like being an actor, director, cinematographer, costumer, and set designer rolled into one.

Matt writes: “I have a fascination with the decade of the 1930s. The movies were learning to talk (and in the case of King Kong, growl), the music was beginning to swing, and the nation was thrown into tremendous turmoil. On one hand, you see a level of suffering documented in the dramatic and gritty photography of Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans. On the other hand, consider what the American public was flocking to see in the movie theaters: the glamour and grace of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing in a series of perfect musicals. For my first book as both writer and illustrator (coming in 2009 by Candlewick Press), I naturally gravitated to this complex decade, specifically the strange world of the Dust Bowl.”
on Nov 19, 2013
Rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy / Epic Fantasy

Exiled to the last outpost of the Empire... "Wren could not remember the glorious city, and could not regret the quiet way she had been raised. But she knew Sky longed for nothing more than to return to the capital. Obviously, she was willing to do anything, even leave Wren behind, to return there."

When a stranger arrives from the capital, Wren is faced with a decision that will change her life forever as dark forces from across the mountains compel her to act.

Can Wren let her sister go, restore honour to her family, and come to grips with the world of magic unfolding around her?

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I picked this book up during a 99 cent sale, and I would happily have paid full price for it. It's a wonderful foray into a fantastical land reminiscent of medieval Japan. Ms. Willard's knowledge of Japanese culture and customs serves to give this story a sense of authenticity that is rare indeed. She has also done a brilliant job characterizing her two main characters, including (especially) Wren's struggles to come to terms with her own feelings, her hopes and what she is willing allow herself to dream of. I did wish that some of the minor characters that we see initially--especially Wren's sister Sky, for whom Wren is willing to do anything--were more well-rounded. Sky seems vapid at best, and it's hard to understand why Wren doesn't see this, or loves her sister more than say, the servant Mimi with whom Wren clearly has a strong rapport.

I loved the fairy-tale aspects woven into the story. I loved how Wren--without any magic--saved the day again and again, using a combination of wits and quick instinct. She's smart but not sassy (well, not really), brave but not arrogant, clever but kind. What's not to love? And then there's her companion, the stranger alluded to in the blurb--loved him. He's got a dark family history, and that history is still alive and kicking--and working to destroy all that he and Wren hold dear. It's a great plot with lots of twists and turns, right up until the very end.

I would have happily, happily given this story five stars, but for two issues that detracted from the story overall. First, I was frustrated with the exaggerated change in personality of a known character who betrays Wren, and then eventually repents. Both his personality during the betrayal, and his portrayal afterwards, did not ring true with the long history of Wren's knowledge of him. This isn't to say that people you know can't or won't betray you, just that betrayals are for more believable and frightening when a personality doesn't change, just your understanding of it.

However, this was a minor annoyance compared to my disappointment in the last two chapters. While I realize there's pressure on authors to wrap up a story after the major climax has been reached, I really, really, wanted an extra chapter here. Things wrapped up too fast and the final conversations and working out of issues that I was so looking forward to was all but glossed over. If I could have my druthers, I'd ask Ms. Willard to take another go at those last chapters and give us a little more time to enjoy the end of the book.

All told, an intriguing story with surprises around every corner and a pair of main characters I won't forget for a long time. 

About the Author

Triana Willard was born and raised in Missouri, USA, moving to New Zealand at the age of 19 to attend University of Canterbury, where she studied Japanese Language and Literature. Triana lives in Rangiora, New Zealand with her husband and four children. Now that the children are all in school she is writing full time.

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on Nov 18, 2013
Blurb: Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.
First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire-and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.  
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

Genre(s): Historical / Paranormal / Steampunk

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Review: This is a novel that stands on its own.

I raked my mind for books to compare it to, but nothing pops up. I've never read a series to full of unique, bold characters and a mixing bowl of genres, elegantly put together. What other book has combined vampires, Victorians, werewolves, scientists, steampunk, fantasy and London society so magically?

The cast of characters are similarly diverse. From the powerful and attractive Lord Maccoon, to the intelligent, yet silly Lord Akeldama , to Alexia Tarabotti, the soulless one herself. Alexia does take some getting used too, her soulless state depletes her of many common main character attributes. She is not particularly kind, giving, or selfless, and she routinely complains about her whatever displeasing situation she is in.

I did enjoy the love story between Alexia and Conall. I think they compliment each other very well, and this was my favorite plot of the story.

There is also a graphic novel adaptation of the book that I thoroughly enjoyed. It enhanced the novel and provided good visualization for many of the characters.

About the Reviewer: M. A. Bronson is a bookworm, book reviewer, and aspiring author. Since 2012 she has been reviewing indie and traditionally published books at runawaypen.com. She spend her time reading, gaming, drinking tea, gaming, and wearing Victorian style jackets.  M lives in Upstate New York and works at a library, happily surrounded by thousands of books. Connect with her on twitter and instagram @theprincessmab
on Nov 15, 2013

How much would you sacrifice for a love that wasn’t yours?

Hadassah managed to befriend her kind’s worst enemies and save her brother and the human girl he loves from the Vampiric King—once. After a month spent in quiet hiding under the protection of the Huntsmen, a surprise attack from a band of Kaiju shatters their brief reprieve. Faced with new challenges and new threats, Hadassah and the others must once more fight for her brother and the girl who stole his heart. And this time, the Vampiric King isn’t the only one they need fear…

Action, suspense, humor, and romance collide in this anticipated sequel from teen author, Elisabeth Wheatley.

About the Author

Elisabeth Wheatley  is a teen author of the Texas Hill Country. When she’s not daydreaming of elves, vampires, or hot guys in armor, she is wasting time on the internet, fangirling over indie books, and training her Jack Russell Terrier, Schnay.

on Nov 11, 2013
We’re thrilled to celebrate the release day of young adult dystopian novel, “Liberty’s Torch” today. You can get your copy of the novel from Amazon today!

All it takes is one spark to ignite the flame of liberty.

Six months have passed since Dana and Kenny parted.  Forced to live as a wanderer, Dana discovers a crashed drone and learns of the chaos within Dystopia and what President Klens has planned for the resistance. Realizing that she must go back, Dana acquires the help of a seventy-year-old man and an old friend.  Upon her return, she finds that rebellion is in the air as the government continues to eliminate dissenters.

Forced to disguise herself, Dana searches for the resistance to tell them of President Klens’ plans.  After a few run-ins with the officers and narrow escapes from Colonel Fernau—his obsession with her growing each day—she learns that the people of Dystopia yearn to be free from their oppression.  What they need is a leader.  Knowing that everyone she cares for will never be safe so long as the government reigns supreme, Dana must decide how far she is willing to go achieve freedom.

About the Author

Ms. McNulty began writing short stories at an early age. That passion continued through college until she published her first book: Legends Lost: Amborese under the pen name of Nova Rose. Since then she has gone on to publish a mystery series, children's books, and even a dystopian series.

Recently, her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's causing her to visit her grandparent's and record her grandfather's memoirs before they become lost. The final result is Grandpa's Stories: The 20th Century as My Grandfather Lived It. She did this to preserve her family history before it becomes lost.

Ms. McNulty currently lives in West Virginia where she enjoys hiking, being outside, crocheting, or simply sitting around and doing nothing. She continues writing. She is finishing up her dystopian series (the second book, Tempered Steel, is to be published in August 2013 and the final one, Liberty's Torch, in November 2013).

on Nov 9, 2013
Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) Cover

Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of)

The world is Cassie Fremont’s playground. Her face is on the cover of every newspaper, she has no homework, no curfew, and no credit limit, and she spends her days traveling the country with her friends, including a boy who would flirt with death just to turn her head. Life is just about perfect—except that those newspaper headlines are about her bludgeoning her crush to death with a paintball gun, she has to fight ravenous walking corpses every time she steps outside, and one of her friends is still missing, trapped somewhere in the distant, practically impassable wreckage of Manhattan. Still, Cassie’s an optimist. More prone to hysterical laughter than hysterical tears, she’d rather fight a corpse than be one, and she won’t leave a friend stranded when she can simply take her road trip to impossible new places to find her, even if getting there means admitting to that boy that she might just love him, too. Skillfully blending effective horror with unexpected humor, this diary-format novel is a fast-paced and heartwarming read.

Cover Chatter

I love what this cover does. Right off the color scheme and the menace of the shadow work together with the first part of the title to give a sense of horror. Then you clue into  the parenthetical at the end of the title and the name-tag for the author's name, and it starts getting kinda funny. Horror comedy. As far as I can tell, this cover is not only eye-catching in its simplicity and uniqueness, but it also perfectly reflects the genre of the book. You can't do cover design much better than that. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on this read!  

About the Author

F.J.R. Titchenell Head Shot

F.J.R. Titchenell is an author of Young Adult Sci-Fi and Horror fiction. She is represented by Jennifer Mishler of Literary Counsel and currently lives in San Gabriel, California with her husband and fellow author, Matt Carter, and their pet king snake, Mica.

The "F" is for Fiona, and on the rare occasions when she can be pried away from her keyboard, her kindle, and the pages of her latest favorite book, Fi can usually be found over-analyzing the inner workings of various TV Sci-Fi universes or testing out some intriguing new recipe, usually chocolate-related.

Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) is F.J.R. Titchenell’s debut novel, to be released May 6th, 2014. It is a Young Adult Horror-Comedy.

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on Nov 5, 2013
Rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy / Epic Fantasy

Janir had the misfortune of being born with one of the hated Argetallams for a father. But unlike other Argetallam children, she was mostly granted a normal childhood, away from the rest of her family. It looked as if she would live a relatively normal life as the foster-daughter of a powerful lord. Until one critical day Janir's powers awakened and she became entangled in a young enchanter's quest for a long-lost treasure called the Key of Amatahns...


What a fun, engaging, quick read! In her debut novel, teen author Elisabeth Wheatley delivers up a wonderful first installment of what promises to be a fascinating series. Janir is a likable and compassionate heroine--and while many heroines manage to be likable nowadays, compassion isn't something we see modeled that often, so she proved to be a wonderful find. I also enjoyed the fact that, although she can hunt, she is not a ninja, nor does she attempt to turn into one. Janir fights when she has to, but she'd rather not, and she certainly isn't a wizard with a blade.

Speaking of wizards, I would like to personally thank Ms. Wheatley for giving the world the young enchanter Karile. He is the most wonderful depiction of obnoxious but lovable younger brother material I think I've ever come across in this genre (note: he's not actually Janir's brother, he just has that feel. Janir has a younger brother and lemme tell you, he's a piece of work!). Karile is the perfect comic relief, and yet he comes through in more serious moments, gets Janir into the best of scrapes, and then, sometimes, out of them, and...well, you'll just have to read The Key to enjoy him yourself.

Ms. Wheatley's writing is generally very strong. The characters are well-rounded and each have their own unique voice, the plot has a few twists that will surprise you, and for as evil as a villain as we meet, we're left with a sense of complexity when it comes to understanding him. I did notice some passages that were awkward, and a couple places where the pacing was off, but it was not enough to take away from the read. I am looking forward to reading the next books in this series.

Recommended for: fans of epic fantasy, strong heroines, younger brothers, and sword and sorcery.

About the Author

Elisabeth Wheatley is a teenager of the Texas Hill Country. When she’s not daydreaming of elves, vampires, or hot guys in armor, she is reading copious amounts of fantasy, playing with her little brothers, studying mythology, and training and showing her Jack Russell Terrier, Schnay.

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