Category Archives: book tour
by Geoff Herbach
From Geoff Herbach, the critically acclaimed author of the Stupid Fast series, comes a compelling new YA novel about basketball, prejudice, privilege, and family, perfect for fans of Jordan Sonnenblick, Andrew Smith, and Matt de la Peña.
For Adam Reed, basketball is a passport. Adam’s basketball skills have taken him from an orphanage in Poland to a loving adoptive mother in Minnesota. When he’s tapped to play on a select AAU team along with some of the best players in the state, it just confirms that basketball is his ticket to the good life: to new friendships, to the girl of his dreams, to a better future.
But life is more complicated off the court. When an incident with the police threatens to break apart the bonds Adam’s finally formed after a lifetime of struggle, he must make an impossible choice between his new family and the sport that’s given him everything.
3.5 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS
From the moment I started this book, I knew that I was going to like the main character. Adam Reed (aka Sobieski) is a sophomore in high school and is a basketball phenom. His height may have been God given, but for every other part of the game, he has worked relentlessly to better himself. Adam has a passion for the sport that you can really feel coming off the pages of this novel.
Adam might be great at basketball, but the other parts of his life, he’s more uncertain about. He only has one friend, he is adopted and has only been living in the US after coming from Poland a few years ago. He also struggles with anger problems and the fact that no one at school seems to care about him except when he’s scoring on the court.
Being a high schooler is tough enough, but when you add these problems on, you can see why Adam often feels so overwhelmed and complicated.
This was a very fast read for me. I can tell that not only does the main character love basketball, but so does the author; I had to skim my eyes over passages detailing plays and such, because I simply don’t know that much about the game. Those in love with the sport will appreciate the attention to these details, though.
You really can’t help but feel for Adam. Born in Poland, he ended up in an orphanage after the death of his mother and being abandoned by his father. Even though this sad part of his life has been over for years and he is now being lovingly cared for by the woman who adopted him, Adam still has violent, irrational dreams and flashbacks, and they lead to him cutting himself off from people.
I wish the book would have explored a bit more into getting Adam some help for the issues he’s still wrestling with from his childhood. When he finally does open up to someone, he feels simultaneously worse and better. He’s clearly dealing with emotional issues and anxiety, and I think young readers will recognize these signs in themselves; that’s why I wish it would have been addressed more.
The romantic angle was kind of flighty to me, but maybe I don’t know much about teenage love anymore since I am now in my 30’s. The girl seemed to run hot and cold, and in my opinion Adam goes too easy on her, but OK. Like I said, maybe I just don’t know how relationships between teens are these days.
I think many teens will relate to this book because it deals with problems like having to choose between two vastly different friend groups, how much time you should devote to the things you love, and keeping your priorities straight when you have a lot on your plate. Young basketball fans will devour this book for the game passages, and others still will like the humor. Hooper has a lot of sides to offer.
About the Author
Geoff Herbach is the author of the award winning Stupid Fast YA series as well as Fat Boy vs the Cheerleaders. His books have been given the 2011 Cybils Award for best YA novel, the Minnesota Book Award, selected for the Junior Library Guild, listed among the year’s best by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association and many state library associations. In the past, he wrote the literary novel, The Miracle Letters of T. Rimberg, produced radio comedy shows and toured rock clubs telling weird stories. Geoff teaches creative writing at Minnesota State, Mankato. He lives in a log cabin with a tall wife.
PURCHASE THE BOOK:
ONE lucky winner will receive a signed copy of Hooper by Geoff Herbach.
INTL, 13+, ends May 14th, 2018.
by Thomas Welsh
Anna is a student surviving the city, and she lives by a simple credo, “Never play their game; their game is always rigged.” For every man she has ever known, it’s a saying that has served her well.
That all changes on the night of “The Big Storm,” when Anna is slipped a date rape drug. Though she saves herself and her best friend, Anna is lost to the dark heart of the city and finds herself hunted by The Night Collectors. Unsure if these monsters are real or hallucinations, Anna nonetheless fights them as best she can. The battle attracts a stranger—Teej—who saves her using powers she cannot understand. He explains that she is an Undreamer and possesses the same powers, and in the future, he will not be the one to save her. She will save him.
But Anna is not yet ready to join Teej and stand against The Dreamers. She has difficult decisions of her own to make. Decisions she has always run from. She still has her partner’s suicide letter. It remains unopened. She still wears his ring, though she can’t seem to remember his face.
Anna learns of The Dreamers – artists so preeminent in their respective fields that they can paint, dance, sew or sing new realities – and as she travels through their creations, she learns that there’s as much beauty in the world as there is horror. With a complex conspiracy at work within the community of Dreamers that threatens to undermine reality itself, Anna will have to look deep within herself, and eventually have to face the horrors of her own past, to save her old world as well as her new one.
Anna Undreaming is a dark urban fantasy, and the first book in the The Metiks Fade trilogy.
About the Author
Hi there! My name is Thomas Welsh and my first novel ANNA UNDREAMING is a dark urban fantasy story that was released in March 2018. It is the first entry in the METIKS FADE trilogy. You can buy it here.
I am 37 years old and live in Scotland, and I started writing fiction early last year. I was the winner of the Elbow Room fiction prize for my short story “And Then I was Floating” and I’ve also been published in a few other short story collections, including 404 Ink and Leicester Writes. I received an honourable mention in Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction award and my story Suicide Vending Machine will soon be featured on the Pseudopod Podcast.
I have been published in You Died – a book about Dark Souls – and I also write about games, music and film. You can find my work on Kotaku, Unwinnable Magazine and GlitchFreeGame. For my games writing, I was inducted into the fellowship of BAFTA.
I love Neil Gaiman, Ursula K. Le Guin, Roger Zelazny and dark fantasy stories where women save themselves!
PURCHASE THE BOOK
1 winner will receive a finished copy of ANNA UNDREAMING. US Only!
The Baby Plan
by Kate Rorick
Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit
In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries creator Kate Rorick’s first adult fiction novel, we enter the wild, bewildering world of modern pregnancies. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll shake your head as you wonder where everyone’s sanity went…
Meet the mothers…
Nathalie Kneller: Nathalie’s plan: to announce her pregnancy now that she’s finally made it past twelve weeks! But just as she’s about to deliver (so to speak) the big news to her family, her scene-stealing sister barfs all over the Thanksgiving centerpiece. Yup, Lyndi’s pregnant too, swiping the spotlight once more…
Lyndi Kneller: Lyndi’s plan: finally get her life together! She’s got a new apartment, new promotion, new boyfriend. What she didn’t count on—a new baby! She can barely afford her rent, much less a state-of-the-art stroller…
Sophia Nunez: Sophia’s plan: Once she gets her daughter Maisey off to college, she’ll finally be able to enjoy life as make-up artist to one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, and girlfriend to one of rock’s hottest musicians. But after 18 years she discovers the stork is once again on its way…
Now these women are about to jump headlong into the world of modern day pregnancy. It’s a world of over the top gender reveal parties (with tacky cakes and fireworks); where every morsel you eat is scrutinized and discussed; where baby names are crowd-sourced and sonograms are Facebook-shared. And where nothing goes as planned…
2 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Chick lit is a genre I don’t mind dipping into when I feel the need for some light and humorous escapism. This book though, made me frustrated and annoyed for most of the time.
The story centers around 3 connected women who all happen to be pregnant at the same time: Nathalie (I don’t care how you say it’s pronounced, it’s IMPOSSIBLE for be to read it without a TH sound), a 33 year old teacher, her sister Lyndi, and Sophia, a makeup artist in her late thirties who has another daughter getting ready to graduate from high school. Although the three women are pregnant, they are all at different places in their lives and dealing with the expectancies others push onto them.
I can’t say I liked any of the characters in this book. They all were rude or careless or just plain naive. And it’s an easy plot device that all three have baby daddies that start acting like jackasses. Nothing anyone did in this entire novel made much sense at all.
I have had 2 children, so I guess I am supposed to relate to what each character is experiencing, but I didn’t really. Though I had a lot of the physical symptoms mentioned, I don’t think I lost my sense of logic as these women do, and I believe that it’s really an overused trope to say that pregnant women are highly emotional and “crazy.”
Finally, and most annoyingly, there were several plot lines that just didn’t bother to get wrapped up at all. I can’t mention them specifically for spoiler reasons, but issues between Nathalie and her husband don’t get a sense of closure or a reason at all. The end felt rather sloppy.
If you like to read chick lit with humor, there are better options out there. Sadly, The Baby Plan stuck to cliches and predictable plot elements to tell its story.
About the Author
Kate Rorick is an Emmy Award–winning writer who has worked on a number of television shows, most recently The Librarians on TNT. She was also a writer for the hit web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and authored the two series tie-in novels, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet and The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet. In her other life, she writes bestselling historical romance novels under the name Kate Noble. Kate lives in Los Angeles with her family.
This is Not the End
by Chandler Baker
I wonder if for the rest of my life, I’ll be haunted by beautiful days.
On one cloudless, radiant summer afternoon, Lake Devereaux lost everything. The car crash claimed the lives of her best friend and boyfriend, the people who had become her family after her own fell apart. But she doesn’t have to lose them both.
The development of resurrection technology has changed the world. Under the new laws regulating the process, each person gets one resurrection to be used or forfeited on their eighteenth birthday. Mere weeks away from turning eighteen, Lake faces an impossible choice.
Envisioning life without one of the people she loves most is shattering enough, but Lake carries an additional burden: years ago, under family pressure, Lake secretly—and illegally—promised her resurrection to someone who isn’t even dead yet.
The search for answers about her future draws Lake more deeply into the secrets of her past until she begins to question everything about those closest to her. Betrayals and hurts both new and old threaten to eclipse the memories she once cherished.
Then Lake meets a boy unlike anyone she’s encountered before, who unflinchingly embraces the darkest parts of her life . . . and who believes that all resurrections are wrong.
Which path is the right one? And how can Lake start to heal when she can’t move on?
Harry Potter; Star Wars; Blade Runner – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep; Hobbit; Game of Thrones; Handmaid’s Tale; Enders Game; Slaughter House-Five; The Road
Chandler Baker got her start ghostwriting novels for teens and tweens, including installments in a book series that has sold more than 1 million copies. She grew up in Florida, went to college at the University of Pennsylvania and studied law at the University of Texas. She now lives in Austin with her husband. Although she loves spinning tales with a touch of horror, she is a much bigger scaredy-cat than her stories would lead you to believe.
You can find Chandler as the books contributor on the YouTube channel Weird Girls.
– 1 Winner will receive a Copy of THIS IS NOT THE END Swag (Signed Copy and Stickers) by Chandler Baker.
by Chuck Vance
Chased Series, Book One
Could you sleep next to a murderer?
Luke Chase—yes, that Luke Chase, a modern hero ripped from the headlines—didn’t mean to get caught up in Mrs. Heckler’s murder. He just wanted to hook up with the hot new British girl at St. Benedict’s, and if that meant sneaking out to the woods after hours, then so be it. But little did he know someone would end up dead right next to their rendezvous spot, and his best friend and roommate Oscar Weymouth would go down for it. With suspects aplenty and a past that’s anything but innocent, Luke Chase reluctantly calls on his famous survival skills to find the true killer.
For fans of “A Study in Charlotte” and boarding school lit, “Sneaking Out” (book one in the “Chased” series) immerses readers in the privileged prep school world, with a mystery that exposes the dark side of life on a residential high school campus.
By the grace of God, he had fled the cabin in the woods that his kidnappers had locked him in for two days. He’d taken off in the early hours of the morning when the moon was filmy and the sun just a promise. But not before he snuck into the cabin, holding his breath, praying his abductors wouldn’t wake up, to grab some necessities for his escape into the dark woods. He had been well trained by his grandfather and knew what he needed to survive. He had stolen the thick wool sweater that he found dangling on a hook by the entrance and the large black-handled knife he had discovered in the top kitchen drawer. Luke had sifted through the cabinets, desperate to find any other portable provisions. A coil of rope, and a plastic bag into which he poured some household cleaning powder that he located under the sink. Ammonia. He had read about it in one of his grandfather’s military books. Ammonia can hide human scent.
And so like Hansel and Gretel, Luke left his own version of a bread trail as he moved through the woods. He would run for approximately half an hour before slowing for ten minutes and sprinkling ammonia to conceal his scent. The slobbering, sharp-toothed attack dog that his captors kept tied to the front door would have a harder time finding him now. He preferred his running escape to slowing down. It was when he was still enough to hear his heart beat that he felt the pounding sense of fear commingled with claustrophobia. He was angry. Why had he been torn away from his family? Was it all for money? But what made him the angriest was that they had made him view the woods, so poetic and magical for his entire life until that point, as something sinister and fearful.
He only realized he was hungry when he stumbled upon a patch of teaberries. He knew they were edible, and so he would plop down amidst the spicebushes and other shrubs and eat the sticky berries until they stained his fingers a light pink. He’d take a second to watch the salamanders slither under the rocks, and remain motionless enough to hear the rustle of skunks and other wildlife make their way through the thick brush. Fortunately, there were natural springs in the woods, and when he would come across one, he’d slurp as much water out of the palm of his hand, water that he’d scoop up fervently and drink until he couldn’t. Then he would continue on. There was never a second where he wasn’t aware that he was being hunted.
About the Author
Chuck Vance is a pseudonym for a bestselling writer of both adult mysteries and novels for young adults. Vance attended boarding school in Connecticut and graduated from Columbia University. Vance has lived in New York, Moscow, London, Paris and Los Angeles and is frequently on the move.
1 winner will receive a finished copy of SNEAKING OUT & a $30 Amazon GC, US Only.
The Wild Inside
by Jamey Bradbury
A promising talent makes her electrifying debut with this unforgettable novel, set in the Alaskan wilderness, that is a fusion of psychological thriller and coming-of-age tale in the vein of Jennifer McMahon, Chris Bohjalian, and Mary Kubica.
A natural born trapper and hunter raised in the Alaskan wilderness, Tracy Petrikoff spends her days tracking animals and running with her dogs in the remote forests surrounding her family’s home. Though she feels safe in this untamed land, Tracy still follows her late mother’s rules: Never Lose Sight of the House. Never Come Home with Dirty Hands. And, above all else, Never Make a Person Bleed.
But these precautions aren’t enough to protect Tracy when a stranger attacks her in the woods and knocks her unconscious. The next day, she glimpses an eerily familiar man emerge from the tree line, gravely injured from a vicious knife wound—a wound from a hunting knife similar to the one she carries in her pocket. Was this the man who attacked her and did she almost kill him? With her memories of the events jumbled, Tracy can’t be sure.
Helping her father cope with her mother’s death and prepare for the approaching Iditarod, she doesn’t have time to think about what she may have done. Then a mysterious wanderer appears, looking for a job. Tracy senses that Jesse Goodwin is hiding something, but she can’t warn her father without explaining about the attack—or why she’s kept it to herself.
It soon becomes clear that something dangerous is going on . . . the way Jesse has wormed his way into the family . . . the threatening face of the stranger in a crowd . . . the boot-prints she finds at the forest’s edge.
Her family is in trouble. Will uncovering the truth protect them—or is the threat closer than Tracy suspects?
2 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS
The first half of this book was great to me, which is why it’s such a shame that the second half veered off so weirdly that I ended up having to give a less than stellar review.
Tracy Petrikoff lives in rural Alaska with her father and brother after the death of her mother a few years prior. The family raises sled dogs, and in past years Tracy’s father Bill has run the Iditarod and done pretty well at it. So, dogs and racing are in 17 year old Tracy’s blood…but so is something else.
Ever since birth, Tracy has known she’s different. She’d rather be in the woods than the house any day, and feels she has more in common with the squirrels and rabbits she comes across than other kids her age. As she grows older, the wild streak inside Tracy becomes harder to tame, and she sometimes finds it hard to have the self control not to harm other people. But, she is still a teenage girl, and butting heads with her father happens. He just doesn’t know why it’s so dangerous when she gets grounded to their house, but he’ll learn.
If I had been told that there was going to be a supernatural element to this novel, I probably would have picked it up a lot sooner than I did. The mystery lies around what exactly Tracy is and why she does what her instincts tell her, and it’s intriguing to see how she has to strike that balance between her humanity and her “wild inside.”
There are actually several secrets and mysteries throughout the book. At the beginning, Tracy attacks a man who tries to grab her in the forest. He then comes to her house and her father saves his life. An enigmatic teenage drifter named Jesse comes around looking for a place to stay, and Tracy is immediately suspicious and it turns out she has good reason to be.
The best parts of the book, in my opinion, are flashback that show conversations between Tracy and her mother. You can tell that the two were close, and it turns out it was because the two of them were the same in so many ways. Tracy’s mother understood her and tried her best to make sure she felt comfortable in her own skin and in her family. The loss of her mother was profound and Tracy finally sees how hard it impacted every single member of their household.
If you have a weak stomach, this book is not for you. There are many bloody scenes, some involving animals and some involving humans, and they’re described rather bluntly. There are a couple of other parts I can’t mention for spoiler reasons, but if you are easily disturbed I would again advise you to stay away.
In the end, I was too infuriated with Tracy and her bad decision making to be happy with how things turned out. I know she was probably never meant to be a main character a reader can root for, but there are things I cannot believe she intentionally did and seemed senseless. I get what Tracy did for her family and for herself, but I still can’t agree with it fully.
About the Author
Born in Illinois, Jamey Bradbury has lived in Alaska for fifteen years, leaving only briefly to earn her MFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Winner of an Estelle Campbell Memorial Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters, she has published fiction in Black Warrior Review, Sou’wester, and Zone 3, and she has written for the Anchorage Daily News, TheBillfold.com, and storySouth. Jamey lives in Anchorage, Alaska.
Our Dark Stars
by Audrey Grey and Krystal Wade
While she sleeps, the whole universe changes.
Princess Talia Starchaser has it all. Wealth. Status. Adoring citizens. But on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she’s forced to publicly betray her best friend, a companion mock she’s had since birth, setting events into motion that lead to the destruction of the humans, and the princess floating through space, a remnant of a time when humans ruled over droids.
One hundred years later, half-mock captain Will Perrault and his ragtag crew discover a device floating in space. When a very human Talia emerges from its depths, Will suspects she’s the key to buying his way back into the regiment he once commanded against the last remaining rebel humans—and the ruling mock queen’s good graces.
Both Talia and Will would rather get space-tossed than trust one another, but with the queen’s forces chasing them across the galaxy and the fate of both worlds hanging in the balance, they’ll forge the unlikeliest of alliances to survive.
“She knows my every move!” Talia growled, pitching into a steep dive that brought them back into the bowels of the city. In open space, the queen could best Talia any day of the week, but here maybe she could even the playing field.
Sweat slicked her fingers as she guided the steering wheel, working to calm her breathing. The quiet inside the cockpit was an illusion of safety. Up above the queen stalked them from the clouds, waiting to strike.
Talia peered up at the sky, the sun’s glare crippling her vision. “I can’t see her.”
“Me either,” Will confirmed. Judging by his leather seat groaning, he was twisted around trying to find her. “She’s using the sun to her advantage.”
Of course she was. That was one of Ailat’s favorite tricks. Talia dove lower until she skimmed the turquoise waters around the palace. They’d made an entire loop through the city. What was the queen’s plan? Ailat had always been a better pilot, a better tactician. She could toy with them for hours until they ran out of fuel—but that wasn’t what she wanted.
No, she needed to prove once and for all she was better than Talia.
“Here she comes!” Will warned.
The queen’s Starfighter dropped from above in an aerial attack, and the water below exploded in a straight line toward them as she strafed it with bullets. Ascending from this level would make the ship slow and decrease her power, so Talia cut toward the palace, hoping the queen wouldn’t sacrifice the bystanders on the bridge with those bullets.
Talia was wrong. She flinched as the hail of firepower chased them into the courtyard, cutting down the crowds still stuck there.
“Oh God,” Talia cried, wishing she could shut her eyes.
“Look out!” Will shouted as they careened between two archways.
Last second, Talia banked sideways, and the ship slipped through the opening by a whisker. The queen climbed back to her perch in the clouds, safe from Talia’s guns while waiting to swoop down again.
The maneuver was called a high-sides gun pass, and Ailat had done it to Talia a million times before in training. Never once had she recovered after Ailat got her in this position. Growling, Talia swiped sweat-soaked hair from her forehead and then banged her fist on the dash.
“You okay, there?” Will called.
“We’re not going to die today!” She repeated it, louder, for good measure. No way in hell would she let the queen kill them.
“Does this all seem familiar, Tal?” the queen purred over the com, the pleased tone in her voice riling Talia’s blood. “There’s nowhere you can hide now. No safety. You know how this ends.”
Talia grabbed the radio. “I am Talia Starchaser. I fear nothing. I own the stars and the planets and the galaxies, and I am not afraid of you, Queen.”
About the Authors
Hi! I’m an award winning and USA Today bestselling author of several books, including the Moonbeam Children’s Award bronze finalist, SHADOW FALL. I live in the charming state of Oklahoma with my crew: one husband, two little people, four mischievous dogs, and one poor cat. You can usually find me hiding out in my office from said crew, surrounded by books and sipping kombucha while dreaming up wondrous worlds for my characters to live in.
In between the chaos—What’s for dinner? Stop pinching your sister! Homework! Dishes!— and my writing, I make time for various projects. An admitted paintaholic, I’ve painted, sprayed or transformed nearly every piece of my house at least once. I even painted my husband’s beloved fabric chair. Oops!
I thrive on creation: starting from an idea, a blank canvas, or perhaps an outdated room, and using my imagination to create something new and emotionally engaging that’s all my own. But stories have always been my first love. Weaving together complex worlds full of flawed, conflicted characters allows me to express myself in a way I could never do otherwise.
I started creating stories during the sweltering Oklahoma summers spent laboring in my father’s wheat fields. Alone and bored, I dreamed up wild fables of vampires (the Anne Rice kind), cave men, and love-torn ghosts. By college my tales had grown more persistent, and I started to actually write them down.
Now, fiction is my life, and I look forward to sharing my characters and their stories with all of you.
I’m happily married to the love of my life (don’t gag) and raising three beautiful children in the gorgeous state of Virginia. We live just outside Washington, D.C., and every day I wake up to find myself stuck in traffic trying to get there.
The horrid commute gives me plenty of time to zone out and think about my characters in full, brilliant details (I’m a safe driver; don’t worry). Stories give me a way to forget about the sometimes smelly strangers sitting next to me on the fifty mile trek into town (I pick up hitchhikers every day. True story. Check out http://www.slug-lines.com if you don’t believe me).
I’ve been a part of organized hitchhiking for nearly fifteen years, but that’s just one small aspect of my oh-so-large life. When I’m not working, commuting, or chasing after my three children (four if you count the man), you can usually find me outside talking to my chickens like they’re the cutest things in the world (they are), or training my amazing dogs how to herd said chickens (which they love), or curled up on the sofa with a good book (why can’t that be 100% of the time?).
I hope you love my stories (or just like them a little; that would be okay, too). And I hope that one day you find your passion, because there’s nothing in life better than doing what you love while surrounded by people you love.
PURCHASE THE BOOK
1 winner will receive a $30 Amazon GC and a hardcover copy of Cinder, US Only.
by Michele Bacon
Release Date: April 3, 2018
When Erin Cerise steps off her plane in Christchurch, New Zealand, she is focused intently on her mission: do something unique that will erase the mess she made of her life on her 17th birthday. She’s already lost her swim team captainship, her boyfriend Ben, and her reputation. Her mother is certain studying abroad will regain Erin’s chances of a good future. Once Erin sees her uninspiring host family and city, though, she’s not so sure.
Before Christchurch, Erin wasn’t always intense and focused. Years ago, a mission sounded like a fun adventure, and the only ivy she cared about was the stuff growing around her grandparents’ back porch at their peaceful Upper Peninsula home. When had her priorities gone upside down?
Now Erin balks at NZ’s itchy school uniforms, cold houses, and her hosts’ utter inability to pronounce her name correctly. Christchurch does boast amazing rock climbing, gorgeous scenery, and at least one guy who could make her forget Ben if she lets him. With months ahead of her, Erin slowly begins to draw on the years behind her, one step back into her memories at a time. As she rebuilds her life from the other side of the world, she finds that when life turns your world upside down and you’re far from home, every way you move takes you closer to where you came from.
- What made you want to become a writer?
I cannot remember wanting to be anything else. Except a majorette. I desperately wanted to be a majorette. Aside from that, I’ve been writing and telling stories all my life. While I’ve been a writer all my life, I always wanted to be a published author. Now I realize there are many ways to have a rich and fulfilling life as a writer, and I’m happy.
- What are some of your favorite books?
In YA, anything by Brittany Cavallaro, Jandy Nelson, Courtney Summers, or Nicola Yoon. Also Eleanor & Park (Rowell), Genuine Fraud (Lockhart), If I Stay (Forman), The Inside of Out (Thorne), and Shine (Myracle). In adult, anything by Bill Bryson, Michael Cunningham, Laurie Frankel, Roxane Gay, Jonathan Tropper, or Kevin Wilson. Also Left Neglected (Genova), The Nest (D’Aprix Sweeney), Before You Know Kindness (Bohjalian), and Station Eleven (Mandel)
- Are your characters based on anyone you know?
Yes and no. I’ve invented each of my characters, but I often steal personality quirks from people I know or give characters my passions. I gave my first protagonist, Xander Fife in Life Before, my childhood. While no character is based on a singular person I know, I do steal surnames of my favorite people for every manuscript.
- Why do you love writing?
I love words and telling stories, plotting a book, discovering the best way to tell a story, writing dialogue, and inventing new characters. But the thing I love best about writing is hearing from readers that what I wrote made them think or feel something. When my stories touch the brain or heart of someone I’ve never met? That’s a great feeling.
About the Author
Michele Bacon writes novel-length fiction for young adults and older adults. When she’s not writing, she’s skiing, playing tabletop games, traveling, or dreaming of travel. She lived in Christchurch, New Zealand for over a year, and is eager to return. Today, Michele lives in Seattle with her partner and three children. She is also the author of Life Before.
Prize: 1 copy of the book (US Only)
Legends of the Lost Causes
by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester
Middle Grade Fiction
The first book in a new middle-grade fantasy action-adventure series set in the Old West.
A band of orphan avengers. A cursed stone. A horde of zombie outlaws. This is Keech Blackwood’s new life after Bad Whiskey Nelson descends upon the Home for Lost Causes and burns it to the ground.
With his home destroyed and his family lost, Keech will have to use the lessons he learned from Pa Abner to hunt down the powerful Char Stone. Luckily, he has the help of a ragtag team of orphans. Together, they’ll travel through treacherous forests, fight off the risen dead, and discover that they share mysterious bonds as they try to track down the legendary stone. Now, it’s a race against the clock, because if Bad Whiskey finds the stone first. . . . all is lost.
What made you want to become a writer?
Louis: I love stories. Reading is one of my favorite activities and I try to read for a couple of hours every day. As I read, I discover inspiration for my own stories and characters. I also enjoy playing games, especially role-playing games (RPGs) like Dungeons and Dragons, in which you and a small group of friends create a story together. After enjoying a big adventure, I wanted to share my characters and plots with other people. It didn’t take me long to realize that the best way to share my stories was through writing.
Brad: This might sound silly, but growing up with a novel constantly in my hand, I always enjoyed imagining myself as one of those mythical Authors (capital A) who created the stories I loved. I would read a book and envision my name on the cover, or see my photo on the back of the jacket, and before long I couldn’t contain the desire to see that in real life. So I started writing my own stories, and thanks to the endless support and encouragement of a wonderful mother, I never stopped.
What do you need around you to write (special drink, lucky items, etc)?
Louis: While I enjoy a nice can of Pepsi when I’m writing, what I most require nearby is my copy of Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Whenever I feel like I’m stuck or blank, all I need to do is pick up this book, read a page or two, and I find that I’m reinvigorated and ready to write some more.
Brad: I’m a huge sucker for chocolate and coffee — I think those are my lucky charms. If I start a session of writing, I have to make sure I have at least one of those two items on hand. If I don’t, I go for the next best substitute: hot cocoa! (What can I say? I’m a choco-fiend.)
What are some of your favorite books?
Louis: My favorite western books include True Grit by Charles Portis and (as mentioned above) Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. My favorite fantasy books are The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie and Claire North’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. I grew up loving Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and Douglas Adam’s hilarious The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Also, anything by Neil Gaiman makes for a wonderful read.
Brad: I grew up absolutely adoring Robert Arthur Jr.’s The Three Investigators series, particularly The Secret of Terror Castle and The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy. Like Louis, I’m also a massive fan of Ender’s Game, and I never grow tired of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. On the western side, my favorites are True Grit and Lonesome Dove — both being the gold standard, I think, for the western genre.
Are your characters based on anyone you know?
Louis: I think every character is infused with aspects of people I know. But none of our characters are exactly like people in my life.
Brad: I agree with Louis that I can’t pinpoint specific people who our Legends characters are based on. That said, I do find myself from time to time envisioning the faces and hearing the voices of certain childhood buddies while writing our kid characters. For example, I sometimes see the grinning face of my best friend in middle school when I contribute to the character of Sam.
Why do you love writing?
Louis: There is something amazing about witnessing a story growing into life. When you first start working on a story, you think the tale will go a certain way, but as you revise and edit and rewrite, the characters come alive and often demand that the story move in surprising directions. I love the way a story can take me by surprise and I love seeing how a character can come alive on the page.
Brad: As I mentioned before, so much of the passion I have for writing started with my mother. An elementary school teacher for most of my childhood, she personally taught me how to read and write and draw appreciation and strength from stories and storytelling. In fact, I don’t recall a single day of my youth when Mom took a book from my hands and told me to stop reading. So I think my passion for writing came from her desire to grow me into a solid reader. And when I started tinkering with my own stories, she always lifted up my creativity and encouraged me to keep pushing toward my dreams.
About the Authors
Born and raised in Arkansas, Brad McLelland spent several years working as a crime journalist in the South before earning his MFA in creative writing from Oklahoma State University. A part-time drummer and singer, Brad lives in Oklahoma with his wife, stepdaughter, a mini-Aussie who gives hugs, and a chubby cat who begs for ham.
Louis Sylvester is a professor at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. He earned his PhD from
Oklahoma State University. He enjoys playing tabletop games from his collection of over 1,000 card and board
games, watching western films, reading fantasy novels, and spending time with his wife and two dogs.
PURCHASE THE BOOK:
Macmillan will give away one copy of the book to one commenter from the US or Canada! Leave a comment letting me know what your fave middle grade books are. Giveaway ends 3/25/18.
If I Die Tonight
by Alison Gaylin
Late one night in the quiet Hudson Valley town of Havenkill, a distraught woman stumbles into the police station—and lives are changed forever.
Aimee En, once a darling of the ’80s pop music scene, claims that a teenage boy stole her car, then ran over another young man who’d rushed to help.
As Liam Miller’s life hangs in the balance, the events of that fateful night begin to come into focus. But is everything as it seems?
The case quickly consumes social media, transforming Liam, a local high school football star, into a folk hero, and the suspect, a high school outcast named Wade Reed, into a depraved would-be killer. But is Wade really guilty? And if he isn’t, why won’t he talk?
2.5 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Jackie is a single mom of two teenage sons: Connor, the youngest, is mostly obedient and helpful to his mom, but Wade, who used to be his mom’s sidekick, has been secretive and seems to have a dark cloud hanging over him for the past several months. When a classmate dies, Wade is implicated in the accident and soon the little town turns on him and his family. But if he didn’t do it, and he won’t reveal the truth to his own mother, how can he clear his name and stop his life from being ruined?
From the beginning, I wasn’t as into this mystery as I could have been. Teenage boys hiding something is nothing new, and some of the plot points seemed very obvious to me. I also thought the progress was very slow, and this wasn’t helped by the author throwing in all kinds of relatively useless information about the characters.
So we have a washed up rocker named Aimee, who claims that she was robbed after a show one night by a teenage boy in a black hood. When Liam, the victim of the story, tries to stop the robbery, he is hit by Aimee’s car and dies. There are multiple suspects including Aimee herself, and it’s like extracting teeth to get any of the players involved to tell the truth about the night of the accident.
I didn’t like how the mother, Jackie, basically ALLOWED her son to be so shady and hide things from her. Yes, I know, teens will do that, but when someone has died, the kid doesn’t GET to have secrets anymore. I also wouldn’t have sent him to school in such a situation, but Jackie did. There were some bad parenting decisions made for the majority of the book. I also felt that Wade was highly overdramatic, and when the truth finally came out about what he’d been keeping from his mother, it wasn’t as serious as the life or death situation he was trying to take the blame for instead. I couldn’t believe the kid would rather go to prison than tell his mom the truth.
The author does a fine job of making you suspect that maybe Wade really did kill Liam, but there are so many other characters involved in the incident of that night that your attention is thrown in a lot of different directions. In the end, there is a deus ex machina that really just brought the story to a rather bland ending.
I know this is a thriller, but I didn’t feel any thrills at all. I would recommend avoiding this one as it’s quite forgettable.
About the Author