Dream Knights: The Network follows a young boy and girl in a world where adults have lost the ability to dream and the pair seek answers to the problem in their dreams. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
Burnout in the United States, such as the Great Resignation, inspired me to suggest a world where adults no longer dream. In the novel, excessive stress and worry make dreaming impossible for adults. Yet, thanks to heroic children, there is hope to bring dreams back.
In reality, there is hope to reduce burnout too. Teleworking and flexible schedules are already gaining popularity. We can go even further.
When compared to the United States, Finland’s students show greater academic success while spending less time in the classroom. They even have summer breaks that are 10 to 11 weeks long. We can learn from this type of success not only for our children but also for our workforce. We all have limits.
Grant and Zahra are intriguing characters that were fun to follow. What were some driving ideals behind your characters’ development?
I wanted Grant and Zahra to be great role models and add cultural and gender diversity to the novel.
To be inclusive, I requested that my cover artist present my characters as silhouettes. Originally, the characters were also written in a nondescript manner. I later changed that, as to be more intentional with diversity, and modeled Zahra after a friend whose family emigrated from Bangladesh.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Different people have different skills, and they are all valuable. When working together, people can accomplish great things.
Also, building relationships and simplifying life can lead to a more fulfilling life than one filled with possessions and stress.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Dream Knights: The Gate, which picks up a couple of weeks after the first book, was just released on December 21, 2022. The third book, still in its early stages, will take place three to five years after the first two books. However, I have also started a historical fiction book for adults. It’s about a budding romance in 16th century Sweden during the rebellion against Danish rule. Although I’m still deciding which book to write first, I’m hoping to publish one in 2023.
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Lion – Most Wanted follows Aslan as he breaks a high-value target out of a Russian supermax prison and becomes the most wanted man in the Middle East. What were some sources of inspiration that informed the development of this novel?
1) My visit to Budapest, Hungary
2) A sex-trafficking ring operating in England
3) The Bosnian war
4) The theory that the Syrian civil war is over oil/ gas pipelines
5) The British hacktivist who become a social media consultant/ hacker for the Islamic State
6) The film, Eye in the Sky
What were some obstacles you felt were important to developing Aslan’s character in this book?
I wanted to drive home the point that, all Aslan wants, is to get out of his circumstances. I needed a clever way to really let him be left alone which needed the ancillary characters’ motivations to be equally developed.
What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?
The scene where Aslan escapes from the Hungarian gang. It is brutal because I wanted to bring out the ‘lion’ , no holds barred.
What can readers expect in book three of The Escape Series?
For now, I haven’t considered a trilogy for The Escape Series. This is primarily because I want to move to a new series (of which 4 books are in development). But one can never tell: I might bring Aslan back. Everybody loves stories in which trouble finds the hero who has given up a dark past 🙂
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Rilloön: Dark Passage by Justin Grimmett is a seafaring sci-fi epic that is sure to leave readers on the edge of their seats. The story follows Rilloön, a young echniodyne living on the island of Chloelle on a diamond-shaped planet called Karoquil. The echniodyne are a scaly humanoid race living under the despotic rule of the cruel lect’veneel after being abandoned by their gods eons ago. After a vision calls into question everything the echniodyne know, Rilloön must make a dangerous journey into forbidden waters in hopes of finding a better life for her people. Along the way, she’ll face up against the deadly leviathans that inhabit her world’s oceans and the secrets and history that have been hidden from the echniodyne for generations.
Though science fiction on its surface, the worldbuilding appears to draw heavily from the fantasy and dystopian genres as well, coming together to form a setting with a little bit of something for everyone. Whether you want a tale of rediscovered lost technology or an action-packed adventure on the high seas, this book will not disappoint. It also features a strong female protagonist, something that can be a bit of a rarity in the genre. The author does a good job of avoiding some of the more negative tropes associated with female characters- while Rilloön is unquestionably competent and fierce, she’s also allowed to be vulnerable and, for lack of a better term, human, in a way that many a “strong female character” is sadly lacking.
While the worldbuilding is incredibly in-depth, I found some of the word choices odd. For example, as it takes place on an alien planet completely disconnected from our own, slang terms like “heebie-jeebies” felt a bit out of place. Other than that, the writing is incredible and readers are able to immerse themselves fully into the world created by Grimmett.
Rilloön: Dark Passage is a gripping sea story adventure novel that science fiction and fantasy novel readers will be able to enjoy as elements from both are present. The unique world the author has created is truly fascinating, and I look forward to spending more time there in future installments.
Pages: 460 | ASIN : B096ZK86JX
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The Attunist grew accustomed to making a difference, even though it earned him the label “serial killer.” If he just gives all that up, can he have a normal life? Is that possible? Can’t he just savor a cup of coffee in the mornings?
Since he first found out that he can take out drug dealers and entire terrorist organizations with little chance of accountability, The Attunist has done his best to make the world a safer place. This daunting task was made easier by the love of his life, FBI Agent Carla Bright, but when her colleagues caught on, the manhunt drove him to Mexico.
Being wanted by federal, state and international law enforcement agencies made life problematic. Being hunted by furious, unknown criminals obsessed with exacting revenge upon him and everyone he knows makes his situation even more difficult. Hiding in remote places has advantages but when nature also turns on him, the real challenge is simply surviving the next few moments.
The Attunist continues from the cliffhanger ending of The Attuned, and completes the Attune Trilogy. But why? Does he not survive his own decisions? After having his entire life derailed, and his family’s hundred-year-old cabin in the Rockies confiscated by the FBI, will he also lose friends and loved ones? Read the trilogy finale!
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Manifest Destiny: By Any Means Necessary is the thrilling second entry in the Manifest Destiny series by author Jaiden Baynes. Many centuries have passed since the events in An Unholy Alliance, and the universe has somehow stabilized into a futuristic dystopia, which is rife with issues such as slavery, poverty, mass incarceration, and cannibalism as the lowest tier of survival.
Readers will enjoy how things in this book also parallel happenings in the first book, although the book takes it to a dramatic and entertaining level. Unlike the first book, which featured a select few characters that the story revolves around, it is hard to find a single character to focus on in this sequel. There is a variety of exciting and fun-to-follow characters. Each character gives readers a unique view of this vast and detailed world. They come from all kinds of backgrounds, and they have all kinds of occupations and different levels of freedom. I enjoyed the diversity in the cast and felt it gave the story an ensemble feel.
The world-building in this book is still spectacular. The author has made some improvements since the first book in the series. The dialogue is amusing and fun and helps to move the story along. This book has a handful of battles, and every encounter drives forward an agenda and provides some social commentary. This book focuses much more on developing this universe’s politics and philosophy, and the dialogue supports that the best it can.
Manifest Destiny: By Any Means Necessary is a riveting space opera filled with complex world-building and memorable characters. I would highly recommend it to readers of the first book or anyone looking for a fun science fiction story in an expanding and alluring universe.
Pages: 501 | ASIN : B0BPCS6M24
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Seventh-grader Jack Mathias is an adventurer at heart. Mercilessly pranking all those around him and always eager to find the next mountain to climb, life is full of endless possibilities. But when a harsh reality check enters Jack’s carefree world, he and his best friend Gene seek to find a way to enjoy the last few days of freedom before the dreaded Summer School begins. After discovering a mysterious message from the olden days of Boonetown, the two boys and their friend Edgar embark on a dangerous journey. With high hopes of finding a life-changing secret, the Boonetown Bandits begin an adventure like no other, with endless twists and turns along the way.
Jack Mathias and the Boonetown Bandits by G.M. Savage is a high-stakes adventure story with plenty of action to go around. Each step of the boys’ journey is fraught with peril, as unexpected dangers lurk around every corner. The characters are real and memorable, growing and developing their friendship as the quest continues. Jack, the lovable rogue; Gene, the scholar; and Edgar, the gentle giant, all learn more about each other and themselves as they travel into the wilds near the raging Gauley River.
This action story is engaging and has a lot of positive energy. The author perfectly portrays the mind and behavior of middle school kids making this a relatable read for young readers. This thrilling read about Jack’s journey involves many adventures, from camping in the wild to whitewater rafting on rapids allowing young readers to dare to be adventurous. I found myself daydreaming of these adventures as I was reading.
A good romp about friendship and the joy of the journey, Jack Mathias and the Boonetown Bandits is a middle-grade action adventure novel that will entertain preteens and teens alike. This is an exciting story about three friends and their quest for hidden secrets; this captivating narrative is perfect for a lazy afternoon of reading fun.
Pages: 203 | ASIN : B0BCM56KBV
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Jodie’s Adventure on Driftwood Island follows a young girl visiting the island with her classmates who ends up uncovering a sinister plot involving the wildlife there. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
When I arrived in Australia from Canada, over 40 years ago, some friends introduced me to sailing and I thought it was a wonderful experience to be out on the ocean, feeling the sun and the wind on my face. When we returned from the day out and put the boat back on its mooring, I’d look up at the boatshed next to the wharf and imagine a young girl living upstairs with her father. I thought how magical it would be to live there year round, and I dreamed up stories about a girl living above a boatshed, and having sailing adventures around the harbour.
The setting of Driftwood Island is based on a real island off the coast of Australia, called Fraser Island, or K’Gari, a world listed heritage site where I’ve holidayed with my husband and four children. It is a beautiful sand island with rainforests and lakes, and amazing wildlife. Off the coast there are dolphins and whales and turtles and so many marine animals. Unfortunately, wildlife smuggling is a large problem in Australia and it is difficult to control. Many animals perish by being stuck in suitcases and boxes and I wanted to highlight this activity by placing Jodie on a school excursion where she discovers this illegal activity and uses her courage and determination to help the rangers catch the criminals.
What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
I love Jodie’s resilience and determination! Many children today struggle with issues of self-esteem and self-worth, and can feel anxious and lonely, especially with the pressures of social media. So, I want to show young readers that they too can cope with life’s challenges and develop a sense of self belief by being willing to get out and play sport, or go for walks, or just be in nature. Jodie’s interest in the natural world helps to take her away from her problems and leads her to amazing adventures and experiences.
What were some educational aspects that were important for you to include in this children’s book?
Jodie goes to a girl’s school, St Margarets, where her mother and grandmother attended and initially she is bullied and unhappy. It can be difficult for children starting a new school and Jodie struggles, but she eventually makes friends and learns to stand up to the bully. I like that she can support her friends when they are bullied, and she even tries to help the girl who bullied her when she is stalked by a dingo, during their school excursion.
I hope the series continues in other books. If so, where will it take readers?
This is my third book in the Jodie series and is set on an island off the coast of Australia. The other two books are based in Sydney Harbour. The first book deals with the death of Jodie’s mother and the problems she has of coping with a new school and a father who is locked in grief. The second book is based at a real place in Sydney called Crater Cove, where Jodie meets a homeless girl and comes to her aid when she is in trouble.
My fourth book is entitled Jodie’s Challenge at Sandpiper Hill. It is also based in Sydney Harbour where Jodie finds a colourful bottle washed up on the sand. She is determined to discover the mystery of the bottle and with her usual doggedness, is led to a series of adventures, where she learns about the value of friendship and family.
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It has not rained for many seasons in the peaceful village of Riverfall. As a result, the people desperately need water for their crops and population to survive. As a result, the people of Riverfall hold a festival of dragon boat races with other neighboring provinces to honor the river dragon responsible for bringing the rain. However, it seems that someone is intent on sabotaging these events.
Undercover Mage by Kaaren Sutcliffe follows the journey of the brave mage Everand, who is sent to Riverfall under cover of an innocent traveler. During his journey, he is tasked with uncovering the mystery of the strange events taking place in the village and ensuring the safe running of the festival. However, when he arrives, he is soon endeared by the welcoming and hardworking people of Riverfall, as well as an alluring boatwoman called Lamiya.
Sutcliffe creates an immersive fantasy world that keeps the reader wanting to discover more. The plot is compelling and suspenseful, with many twists and turns along the way. There is a powerful romance starting to build, and readers will be wondering how this will impact the storyline. Skillfully, the author can weave together peaceful scenes of life in Riverfall with vivid and action-packed events, such as the impressive dragon boat races. The best part of the novel is the characters, which are fully fleshed out and easy to empathize with. Throughout the journey, the reader roots for these heroes all the way.
Undercover Mage by Kaaren Sutcliffe is a gripping fantasy novel that takes readers on a thrilling adventure and gives them a captivating romance to follow. The author captures the reader’s attention throughout with well-written prose and an enthralling story. I would highly recommend Undercover Mage to readers who enjoy fantasy adventure novels full of magic, both in the literal and metaphorical sense, and a dynamic romance that fits into the story without overwhelming it.
Pages: 420 | ISBN : 1922792519
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