Blog Archives

The Revelations of August Barton

The Revelations of August Barton by [Jennifer LeBlanc]

The Revelations of August Barton is a contemporary romance novel by Jennifer LeBlanc. A coming of age story which is a sequel to Tribulations of August Barton. This young adult book is a continuation of the life of August Barton and his love Rose. August is faced with many difficult challenges throughout the story that throw into question his and Rose’s ability to be together. This is a drama filled story with family secrets, confessions, drunken bachelorette parties and layers of family problems that all hit August Barton like a tornado. Will he be able to overcome them?

What I like most about The Revelations of August Barton is that it’s not a cliché teen love story, although it may seem like it at first. Jennifer LeBlanc is able to make the story relatable and believable and because of this I found the story to be immensely engaging. The Revelations of August Barton is full of weighty teenage agony that resonates with truth. In this story we get to see new sides of August Barton as he’s faced with new obstacles and I was amazed at how he continued to grow into a much more dynamic and layered character. This reminds me of a show that should be on The CW network, but maybe not as melodramatic as the shows on that television network.

I suppose I should give a spoiler alert, although it’s not much of a spoiler, August is able to solve his life’s problems and bring all the broken pieces together, but the way in which he does it was something I won’t ruin because I believe that is what this story is about. The journey of putting your life back together after it falls apart. This is one of the greatest milestones in this book. It shows readers just how strong one can be if they summon their strength and willpower into what they want. The main theme of the book is love and family and Jennifer is able to mingle these things into a rich heartfelt fictional story that left me a bit wistful. The life of Grandma Gertie, Rose, August, John and Diane is a perfect image of love and family. Although they are not perfect and they make mistakes, they do not give up on each other. They build each other up and most importantly, they forgive. Jennifer LeBlanc has done a fantastic job of using humor to bring levity to some weighty situations while also underlining some poignant themes. The book has strong language that might be a problem to some readers on the younger side, but otherwise I think it fits well in the college romance genre.

Pages: 155 | ASIN: B07F5JF3T5

Buy Now From B&N.com

When Life Was like a Cucumber

When Life Was like a Cucumber by [Greg Wyss]

At a young age, Jeffrey Hese was coming off a divorce and could not wait to explore his true self. At a time when the human race was getting introduced to the 70s after the tumultuous 60s, Jeffrey was in for a ride. He found himself thrust in different cultures and cities from Amsterdam to Boston. He goes through the paces of experiencing the underbelly of life with the help of Isadora. And how different it was from his apartment in Oneonta. So much to see. So much to do. So much to experience. His journey will be one of enlightenment and perhaps a second meeting with God.

Greg Wyss has crafted an engrossing tale of one man’s journey through life in the wake of the wild 60s. He has written a story so intriguing and appropriately sculpted that a reader of any age will relate and enjoy the book. The scenes are described in vivid detail leaving the reader thrust deep into the vortex of Jeffrey’s life at that time as well as the general lifestyle back then. The story teeters on the edge of humorous and poignant. It is a brilliant mix of serious and casual. With alternating moments of sympathy and loud belly laughs.

The characters in this book are well developed. Although the dimensions of character development may seem a bit foggy at times. This does not get in the way of recognition of common qualities. Jeffrey is doing something that many people would want to do before they are too old or too busy to do it. He is as new to this journey as most of us are. This may therefore either inspire you to go on your own journey of self-discovery. Or it may allow you to live vicariously through him. There is so much depth to this book. It will take the utmost attention and focus to peel through all the layers and get to the bottom of the true meaning of the story. Laden with thematic consistency and careful handling of the reader, this book is exactly what you need when you find yourself angling for an enjoyable escape. What better place to escape than a different time you may not have lived in? Those who did live in this era will enjoy the various references to music and popular behaviors of that time.

You will enjoy the plot. You will enjoy the characters. You will enjoy the flurry of activity. It may not be crass but this book will have you red-faced on occasion. Nothing like a good trip back in time.

Pages: 557 | ASIN: B07QN1VK36

Buy Now From B&N.com

An Imperfect Hero

Holly S Ruddock Author Interview

Holly S Ruddock Author Interview

The Warrior Arises follows a young fairy who must survive a world suddenly turned on its head and face world-changing challenges. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

My story is allegorical. I was inspired by C.S. Lewis and John Bunyan for a genre. But I was also inspired by my four military children and our life as a family who serves our country. I wanted to create parable-like circumstances that the reader could relate to—showing real-life situations in a fairytale setting—raising awareness of our world problems, such as bullying, fear, drug addiction, or human trafficking. I intended to introduce the gospel subtly to those who may not know a loving father. Beathra represents Jesus, and the fire seed our connection to him. The Whisper is the Holy Spirit, and the Great Ghost warrior in the Sky is Father God.

I wanted to create a character similar to that of David and Esther, where others may have been overlooked and viewed as insignificant. Still, God hid great gifts in a very common or dismissed individuals.

Ruby is a unique and intriguing character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

Ruby is based on me and my childhood. Many of the stories are real, like the bullying, harassment, social anxiety, and even the cruel teacher and practical jokes. It took me years to understand my quirky personality and appreciate it as a gift. I wanted the reader to relate to Ruby’s struggles of academics and social settings. As Ruby faces challenges, she has learned to hear the voice of Beathra and The Whisper and follow their leading. This connection was to display that God is always trying to speak to us; we just need to learn to listen. As for Rubys development: I hoped to show her grow in confidence and self-acceptance. I wanted to show an imperfect hero who makes mistakes, struggles with anxiety or fear, and must grow into her identity and destiny. Many of us feel like a square peg or displaced. As Ruby grows in confidence and strength, hopefully, the readers are encouraged to do the same, and they are inspired to view themselves as rare, rather weird.

I enjoyed the world you’ve created in this book. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your world?

As with most allegorical tales, I have hidden meanings throughout the story. Hope is the theme, and the enemy of hope is fear and despair. I show how the enemy targets our minds to focus on our biggest fears or insecurities, creating doubt or distrust in our Heavenly Father. The wild gidgies who live in the mountains are those who have run away from their call or fellowship with other believers. They lost heart and now hide from conflict, protecting themselves from future pain. Skawlterrin, of course, is the devil’s playground, luring the rejected, hopeless or desperate soul and offering false hope, a place to belong, and lying about acceptance. The Darphea wilderness is the journey those take running away. Havengothy is a land created to flourish, and for giddies to serve, love, and be loved. But Neeradima is bent on corrupting a world that is full of hope and purpose. The overall theme is to show that sometimes, what tries to destroy us, just might be where we are called to bring change. Ruby losing Sebastian propels her into her purpose, and Lewis and Trixie being tricked by the enemy catapulted them into their destiny.

This is book one in your Light Of Beathra series. What can readers expect in book two?

I actually wrote book two first but felt I need to give a back story to the characters. Book Two is where it really picks up. I want the reader to grow up with the characters. I was careful to keep too much horror from a young reader, but in book two, we will see more of Skawlterrin and evil. We will see a lot more of the liath, Stain. Billick will be a significant presence in Ruby’s life. We will follow Jo and Kody’s recovery from war, and watch Rubys struggle to join the Skyforce. There are character developments with Mr. Ryster, and we will also be introduced to the water gidgies. Kody gets married, and Jo changes careers due to his injuries he sustained. Ruby lives on her own and unknowingly begins to develop into a weapon for the King. We also see more of C.J and Callie and the Hyperion Lions and other marvelous and magical creatures.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Warrior Arises: a tale of an unlikely hero (The Light Of Beathra Book 1) by [Holly Sue Ruddock]

Heroes rise from the most unlikely places. For, what others might view as unusual or irrelevant, just might be the surprising weapons needed to defeat an enemy.

If Ruby existed in today’s world, she would possibly be labeled with learning disabilities and perhaps a slight case of social anxiety. She is unusual in many ways. With radiant pink wings and unruly hair, Ruby stands out. But never in the way she wanted to. It is the peculiarity that draws attention to her; from her vivid imagination to her misunderstood sense of humor; Ruby is a rare fairy indeed.

But even in a mysterious world where all is strange and unusual, different isn’t always celebrated.

The story begins at the end of Ruby’s senior year and takes you through an eighteen-month journey. Ruby attends Havengothy Gardening University with her best friends, Sebastian and Ellie. It is during her years of school that Ruby develops a stubbornness to overcome. She was bullied for her poor grades and her wild hair. And if that wasn’t enough, she was a bit of a klutz. But Ruby never let the bullies get the best of her. With the help of her best friends, Ruby was able to pull off some epic pranks of retaliation, usually ending with detention, but the crime was always worth the punishment.

After finding a book in one of her professor’s offices, her real adventures begin. The book documented magical charms that were once used by the caretaker of the garden, Neeradima. Neeradima was a forest spirit that lived in Havengothy long ago. But envy darkened her heart. Exiled for betraying her land, Neeradima had one goal; To destroy the two ruling spirits of her former home. But the only way to hurt them was to wound or distort their beloved creation.

Her servants cunningly lure the victims away from their safe garden. Targeting the lonely, unhappy, or unusual; manipulating them to question their king and his goodness. And then, the evil servants would offer a solution to end the misery of their victims; a new life. They only needed to sacrifice one thing.

Buy Now From B&N.com

Pushing Back

 

 

 

Pushing Back by Jim Hartsell is an introspective coming-of-age novel that tackles the challenges of a broken family and growing up in the rural South through the eyes of its sympathetic protagonist, Boone Hammond. Though the central themes of the novel are heavy, Hartsell masterfully balances the sometimes-painful topics of the novel with poetically beautiful prose that will whisk you away to Boone’s world. Pushing Back is different from many of the top sellers you will see advertised in bookshops in that it embraces the slower pace of its plot, which is reflected in the drawling prose. Sometimes we all need a break from the unstoppable onslaught of reality and deserve an escape to a beautiful literary world, right? If you are looking for a thoughtful novel that will likely force you to consider your own prejudices and misconceptions, then I highly recommend Pushing Back.

Pushing Back is one of those beautiful, engrossing novels that sucks you in with the first page and, before you know it, you are several chapters in and it is way past your bedtime. The novel is told from the first-person perspective of Boone Hammond, whose namesake is humorously not the Daniel Boone of whom you’re thinking. A junior in high school, Boone lives in rural Tennessee with his parents and young sister, all of whom are dealing with the loss of his younger brother several years previously. Boone’s family is dealing with struggles that will be familiar to many readers, regardless of whether they hail from the American South or elsewhere: domestic abuse, poverty, alcohol dependency, and depression. Though he finds himself making his way through this formative time of his life largely on his own, Boone forms a deep relationship with his nearby elderly neighbor and charmingly begins to experience the heart-racing delights and pitfalls of teenage romance.

While some sections felt repetitive at times Hartsell writes in an incredibly elegant way, and the paragraphs often feel reminiscent of poetry. This is especially true in the passages where Boone is experiencing the natural beauties of Tennessee. I also enjoyed the raw emotion that Hartsell fills the novel with, in describing Boone’s emotions and those of his abusive father, as well as those Boone’s romantic interest, Nancy. The emotions of loss and love can sometimes be hard to read, especially as they come from the perspective of a young man who is growing up alone, but readers will undoubtedly appreciate the honesty and sensitivity with which Hartsell tackles these pains, as they think about their own experiences with change and pain.

In spite of the challenges facing Boone, Pushing Back is a hopeful novel: hopeful for the future awaiting Boone, acknowledging the room he has to grow to become a better person, and littered with charming moments that are bound to make you smile. The feelings coursing through the pages of Pushing Back are universal to humanity.

Pages: 328 | ASIN: B01FAVY0AY

Buy Now From B&N.com

The Corruption of Power

Ruth H. Finnegan Author Interview
Ruth H. Finnegan Author Interview

The Fortieth Thief follows young Henry as he sets out to become a thief and learns a lot about life along the way. How did you uncover this fascinating story?

Well, like my other stories it just sprang up from my unconscious, or somewhere. So your ‘uncover’ is exactly right.

I now also see that, again like my other stories, it actually fits with my preconceptions and personality. I always like to think about the life of the underdogs – in a way the thieves were that, else why would they have been forced into that life? Like many people, alas, they probably had few if any choices open to them.

As an anthropologist too, I like to explore the lives of those (like taxi drivers, my next nonfiction project) that are not much noticed, possibly looked down on, and at any rate about whom we mostly know little. Since we can’t in practice do it for everyone in any particular category, we often focus down on a specific case or cases. Just like in this story.

So it happened that I started to wonder what those legendary thieves were like. We don’t know – where did they come from, what backgrounds, how recruited? were they all the same?

I went to sleep with those questions in my mind – and when I woke the story was just there. I can’t help feeling that in some other age or universe it did indeed happen just like this.

How did you set about bringing this story to life for modern readers?

I have to confess that at first I partly misremembered the story and thought that Ali Baba had been with the thieves all along. So I had to the change the start a little so as to explain that. I was happy to do so as it’s a familiar thing that power can go to your head – part of the moral (it happened to the thief leader too, can happen to us all).

All right the setting is in the long long ago – but what can be more contemporary than the bullying of powerless little Henry by the mighty gang or, all around us, the corruption of power?

I think the story was a morality tale, but also one of the natural world. What were some themes you wanted to capture in your story?

You’re quite right.

Well I suppose two, no three, main things.

First, at the start the idea that ‘power corrupts’. Yes, all around us.

Second, it takes me back to my core (not exclusive) discipline of anthropology, one that is now taking fiction seriously. Maybe it’s a case of the old saying that ‘fiction can be truer than truth’ – at least in a metaphorical or transferred kind of way.

From the story we can see, symbolically, that it is good to think with compassion and (same thing isn’t it?) understanding of those who, in a different way from ourselves seem to have gone wrong, even the biggily-yelling Thief Leader, let alone little loving Henry. And not just ‘thieves’ either.

And yes, nature. We are left with Henry’s gesture at the end of not keeping the jewels to himself or even his adored little sister but giving them (back?) to the sweetly flowing river, where (just to prove it’s true) we can see the signs of them still, glinting in the sun on the rocks. Like Henry, we need to recognise that the world’s riches are not for ourselves or for hiding uselessly away or for squandering but for returning to the earth from whence they came. Then heaven will look down, or the moon, or whatever, and keep our planet green and living and lovely. Quite a ‘green’, maybe even religious, message in fact, one with which, once a little barefoot Irish girl wandering with wonder through the trees, I wholeheartedly agree.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

Ever wondered what the thieves in the Ali Baba story were really like? Where they came from and how they were recruited and what exactly they did? And were they all the same? You don’t know? Find the amazing answers in the story of an ordinary little boy, a newly discovered version now for the first time revealed. An absorbing fairy tale for children of all ages, young or not, with an unexpected twist and an ecological and human ending.

A Misunderstood Monster

Author Interview Craig DiLouie

Author Interview Craig DiLouie

One of Us follows a group of teenagers known to locals as monsters because they bear the markings of extreme genetic mutation. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thought-provoking story?

Thank you for reading it and for your kind review! I’d wanted to write a monster novel and try a different take on it.

Previously, I’d written a vampire novel, Suffer the Children, about a parasite that kills the world’s children and allows them to return to life for a brief period of time if they drink human blood. The children are vampires, but the monsters in the book are the parents who have to decide how far they will go to keep their children alive. It made for a horrifying twist on the vampire story that challenges the reader to evaluate how far they themselves would go for love.

For One of Us, I wanted to do a misunderstood monster take similar to Frankenstein, give the children developing agency similar to The X-Men, and make them hideous and terrifying such that they are subjected to horrible prejudice, which they fight in an uprising that is as cathartic as the classic 1972 film Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. When they finally rebel, the reader must confront whether this was necessary or if change could have occurred some other way. The whole story is produced as a Southern Gothic, really the most original twist here, which seemed perfect for the novel, as Southern Gothic has a dark and rich tradition of covering strong topics like the grotesque, societal decay, taboo, and prejudice. And while it is very dark and somewhat violent, reflecting the society these people live in, the story ends on an important note of hope.

I liked how you were able to imbue both the normal people and the plagued with good and bad characteristics. What were some themes that were important for you to capture in your characters?

Initially, I wanted to show very simply that books should not be judged solely by their covers, so as the story develops, we see very human monsters and in some cases very monstrous humans, all of them the product of the society they share that is broken by the plague and the genetic mutations it produced among a generation now coming of age and wanting their birth rights. As this is a Southern Gothic, there is an ensemble cast of characters, and also true to that literary form, we see the full pageantry of human behavior on display, the good, the bad, and the ugly. By the end, when the children begin to fight back and win, the reader will probably experience a sense of catharsis after seeing and experiencing what the monsters endured, but then question their feelings. I fell in love with these characters, even the bad ones, and I hope my readers will too.

Your characters are all well developed and intriguing. Who was your favorite character to write?

Readers seem to like Dog, one of the monsters, as he’s earnest and believes if he follows the rules and works hard, he’ll get a fair shake. Sadly for him, the world ain’t fair. Goof, another one of the monsters, was a lot of fun to write because has an amazing power but all he wants to do is have a fun, normal childhood, and he offers comic relief. Among the monsters, though, my favorite is probably Brain. He’s a super genius trapped in a hideous body and must hide his intelligence from the authorities. He doesn’t see him and his brethren as monsters but as the rebirth of the gods of ancient myth. He doesn’t want a revolution but plans one anyway, seeing it as necessary. When the violence starts, there’s no turning back even though he finds it horrifying and hates it, making him a tragic figure.

On the human side, there are a number of characters we can both root for and hate, from the idealistic Jake to the hapless loser Dave Gaines, but my favorite is probably Sheriff Burton. He feels for the monsters but is similarly trapped by his role and belief system, which is to enforce what he sees as the natural order. This also makes him a tragic figure trapped between who he is and what he must face in the story, including guilt over a secret connection he has with the monsters.

In the end, it is these characters who take well-worn themes in a fresh package and make the whole thing emotionally a gut punch that I hope will affect readers, make them think and feel and challenge their perceptions, and continue engaging with the story even after they close the covers.

Will there be a follow up novel that continues this story?

Unfortunately, no follow-up is planned at this point, as it was a standalone story. Based on reader interest, though, there’s always a possibility.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

One of Us by [Craig DiLouie]They’ve called him a monster from the day he was born.

Abandoned by his family, Enoch Bryant now lives in a rundown orphanage with other teenagers just like him. He loves his friends, even if the teachers are terrified of them. They’re members of the rising plague generation. Each bearing their own extreme genetic mutation.

The people in the nearby town hate Enoch, but he doesn’t know why. He’s never harmed anyone. Works hard and doesn’t make trouble. He believes one day he’ll be a respected man.

But hatred dies hard. The tension between Enoch’s world and those of the “normal” townspeople is ready to burst. And when a body is found, it may be the spark that ignites a horrifying revolution.

Buy Now From B&N.com

Mad Max & Sweet Sarah

Mad Max & Sweet Sarah (Greek Mythology Fantasy Series Book 3) by [Ellie Collins]

Max’s life is about to change, and he isn’t sure how he feels about it. When his estranged father invites him to stay for two weeks during the summer, Max begrudgingly agrees. Adjusting to life outside of Hawaii, the only home he has ever known, is bad enough, but he also faces meeting a half-sister with whom he seems to have nothing in common. Between maneuvering a new relationship with a sibling he’s only just met and fighting his own inner demons who try to sabotage his newfound father/son dynamic, Max has an interesting summer ahead of him.

Mad Max and Sweet Sarah, by Ellie Collins, follows the newly-blossoming family relationship between Max, the father he has never met, and a half sister who already adores Max before they are ever introduced. Collins, always a teller of poignant tales for young readers, has hit the nail on the head once again with this beautiful story of two siblings getting to know one another and learning more about themselves in the process.

Collins, an accomplished fiction writer known for incorporating fantasy and Greek mythology into her story lines, is adept at bringing her readers messages of hope and building environmental awareness through her work as well. In Mad Max and Sweet Sarah, Collins has created a character, Sarah, who is easily unlikable at the outset and reshapes her throughout the plot. She desperately wants to be a sister and, even moreso, to have a brother. Readers will enjoy watching her attempt to cure all that ails her ever-changing family. In addition, Collins is clearly environmentally-conscious, and it shows in her work. She brilliantly weaves effective messages into the interactions between her characters.

Underneath all of Collins’s obvious plot lines lies an important one on trust between both family members and friends. The author uses a relatable cast of young teen characters to communicate a pertinent message of betrayal. Collins uses her characters’ growing relationship to highlight typical drama and its consequences. Readers will appreciate the growth shown by Max from beginning to end.

Mad Max and Sweet Sarah is a beautifully-crafted tale of family, trust, and growth among family members and between two hurting young souls. Teen readers will enjoy Collins’s writing style and more than appreciate her ability to relate to her audience. Ellie Collins is an amazing up-and-coming author with a superb talent for spreading joy with her words.

Pages: 128 | ASIN: B0849PBY3J

Buy Now From B&N.com

The Warrior Arises

The Warrior Arises: a tale of an unlikely hero (The Light Of Beathra Book 1) by [Holly Sue Ruddock]

The Warrior Arises by Holly S Ruddock is a captivating read. In an enchanted land, surrounded by magic and mystic, a young fairy adopts a special baby fairy. Ginny raises Ruby with all the love she can muster and in turn, despite standing out from her peers, Ruby grows into a young fairy that makes her mother proud. Neither of them could foretell the destiny that awaited Ruby. After all, Ruby had the usual challenges that came with being different to grapple with. Still, when their world is tossed into turmoil, Ruby is marked to play a key role. In fact, her friends, family and their authorities all have their roles to play. The bonds of friendship and family bolster their efforts and give them hope for the future.

The strength of familial bonds is a strong theme that carries through from the very first page to the last. It is demonstrated not only among the main characters Ruby and Ginny but among their friends and their families and their entire community. They deal with threats as a group. Everyone has a role to play, not only in addressing danger but also in keeping their society on track. There is also an emphasis on the characters coming of age. Their actions and thought processes demonstrate growth as the story progresses. This is not only shown in the development of romantic interest but also in the professional pursuits of characters and the choices they are forced to make. These types of thematic layers really humanize the characters in a way that readers can relate to.

Fundamentally, the characters are unique and the world-building deep and intriguing. The action seemed to take place in stops and starts, with some moments of tension building and then seeming to fizzle rather than climax. The reader is also told about a lot of the action rather than shown. However, it could also be said that even in the action and demonstration of evil by destructive forces, the reader is not subject to a complete sense of dread or destruction. Despite this, the world created in The Warrior Arises is an intricately woven backdrop to a story rich in magical realism. The beauty and charm of the creatures and their connectedness to nature evokes a dreamy feel. This is an imaginative start to The Light Of Beathra series that puts Holly S. Ruddock’s creativity on full display.

Pages: 293 | ASIN: B086BMJYBY

Buy Now From B&N.com

%d bloggers like this: