The Tribulations of August Barton
The Tribulations of August Barton by Jennifer LeBlanc follows the somewhat unwilling adventures of a young man who feels as if the world is on his shoulders. August Barton is a nerdy college freshman with growing anxiety not helped by the declaration of his parent’s decision to divorce. Never mind first-year classes, his growing independence, or even girls, the struggles within his own family becomes almost too much for him to bear. At a time in his life when he should be stepping out into the world and spreading his wings, the worries of his life pull him back into the safe confines of his residence hall where he can be with his Star Wars collection in peace. However, his charismatic grandmother (a woman who really has lived life to the fullest) has other ideas for her grandson, which leads to a series of adventures where August can finally learn to live out his own epic saga and find his own happy endings outside of the ones he’s seen in the science-fiction stories he loves.
This story compares to the classic coming-of-age tale Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger in its overall themes like loss of innocence and personal growth of a young man. However, I will say that August Barton is a more likable protagonist than Holden Caulfield! August “Augie” Barton’s altruism for his loved ones and his quirky charm make him a lovable character to follow throughout the book. Other interesting characters in Augie’s life enhance the quality of this book, one in particular: his grandmother! Gertie is such a wild and fun lady. I wish I could know her in real life! I honestly would read a whole spin-off novel about her life because seeing the world through her eyes sounds like a treat. The overall humor and grace of this novel as Jennifer LeBlanc’s authentic characters deal with very real problems that we all can face in life. The Tribulations of August Barton just proves how there can be such wondrous beauty in the everyday and in the hardships we all face. No doubt, Jennifer LeBlanc earns a full five stars, and one new permanent fan of her works.
Pages: 176 | ASIN: B01M7TF1N1
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
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Mylee in the Mirror
Mylee is experiencing one of the most trying times in her young life. Not only is she watching solemnly as her parents’ marriage hits its rockiest stretch to date, she is unable to convince her mother that she is happier and more productive not being a cheerleader. To top it off, Mylee should be having the time of her life as she seems to have caught the eye of the school’s most desired boy–real homecoming king material. Mylee just can’t seem to catch a break. When her beloved Grammy, her confidante, moves into a new apartment farther from Mylee’s home, the struggle becomes even more real.
Ellie Collins’s second book in her Greek mythology series, Mylee in the Mirror, is a fantastic follow up to her first, Daisy Bold and Beautiful. This young adult fiction series is shaping up to be an artfully designed set of books with well-developed characters and engrossing plot lines. Collins is a master at incorporating current teen culture and dialogue. Her writing flows smoothly, and her characters seems to jump off the page–especially her main characters. Mylee and Ty are an adorable pair and their friendship leaves the reader rooting for them from their very first interaction. Collins seems to have a knack for drawing a thoroughly detestable antagonist. Sam is clearly sketched as the villain, and the dialogue she has given him keeps readers focused on exactly how wonderful Ty is for Mylee–writing perfection.
Collins manages to tap into complex relationships quite easily whether it be the parent-child relationship or the ever-evolving relationships between teen friends. She pinpoints the drama that so easily arises between girls over potential love interests while at the same time highlighting how easily true friends are able to see the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I am, again, intrigued by Collin’s use of Greek mythology in her plots. She pulls the story of her grandmother’s mirror and the tale of Aphrodite almost effortlessly into what, otherwise, reads as young adult fiction. The fact that Mylee is able to keep her experiences to herself and use what she learns from her encounters with the mirror is a truly unique approach in this genre.
Collins is an author to be watched in the coming years. The ease with which the words flow from her mind to the paper is to be envied indeed. Her writing is phenomenally engaging, and I look forward to seeing more from her series in the future. I highly recommend her writing to any parent of young teens looking to engage their children in well-written and timely books.
Pages: 180 | ASIN: B07JZKV317
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
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A Special Connection
The Tribulations of August Barton follows college freshman Augie as he navigates many precarious situations with the help of his grandmother. What was the inspiration for the setup to this entertaining novel?
I remembered how truly alone I felt when I turned eighteen and first left home. How hard it was to realize that the world was so vast and full of uncertainty, that if I let it, it could just swallow me whole. Augie is essentially a figment of the inner me and a reflection of how I felt at that time in my life. Doing things on your own without anyone’s help or guidance for the first time is scary.
The funny thing is, Augie wasn’t the first character to pop into my head for this story. It was his grandma Gertie. I was surfing on the web for writing prompts one day and came across some comical ones like, the pizza guy, a hug that goes too far, and something unexpected under the bed, or something to that effect. At some point looking through them all Gertie popped into my head. She wasn’t a character I really had to come up with, she was just already there in my head. Gertie is a combination of different people all in one person. I used to work with an older waitress named Pickles. Her personality was really flirty and fun and all the customers knew her by name. That’s where a lot of Gertie’s mannerisms came from. She is also parts of my own grandmother with some Betty White mixed in. I thought to myself “hmm I’ve never read anything like that, this could be interesting.” The story took off from there and her and Augie led the way.
There are things in life that we all have to face like this at one point or another that will test our morals or sanity, but the people who inspire me most are the ones who overcame those obstacles. Augie is a great example of how facing your fears and overcoming things that hold you back can help you grow as a person.
The world seems like it’s crashing down on Augie, but he manages to hang on with the help of his free spirited grandmother. What were some themes you wanted to capture in these characters and their relationship?
The main ones are that it’s okay to have friends that aren’t your age, that family isn’t always blood, and accepting people and loving them for who they are is the greatest gift you can give to anyone. One that’s a little more subtle throughout the story is that people can surprise you and misconceptions that are assumed about someone right away, can turn out to be completely unfounded once you get to know them.
I have always felt a special connection to my grandmother. Much like Augie does in the book with Gertie. In a lot of ways, I connected more with her than with my own mother, and despite this, I was still very close to both of them.
The relationship between Augie and Rose was heartfelt and certainly tugs at the heart strings. What did you want to do differently with their relationship than what’s portrayed in other novels?
One thing I wanted to stray from was insta-love as well as their relationship revolving solely around sex. While there are a lot of sexual themes throughout the book and some good laughs about it, I also wanted to show readers that a relationship is built on more than just physical intimacy. I wanted to create likeable, yet flawed characters that almost anyone could relate to, because in real life we all have problems and none us is perfect or really ever gets it right. We stumble through life and make mistakes that we learn from, which is what both Augie and Rose do as their relationship blooms. They make mistakes and they don’t get it right the first time.
Augie see’s that there’s more to Rose than she’s willing to show other people. It’s rare to meet someone who sees who you really are right from the start. He’s also willing to let her go to ensure that she doesn’t spiral out of control, even though he desperately just wants to hold on to her. In turn Rose accepts Augie just the way he is, quirks and all. The more she sees who he is, the more she opens her eyes to what she really wants in life and decides to make a change.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Augie’s story continues in the sequel titled The Revelations of August Barton which is currently available on Kindle. The paperback will be available hopefully within the next month or two.
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August Barton could never have mentally prepared himself for his freshman year of college: not only has his anxiety increased, but his parents are divorcing, his new roommate thinks Augie is the biggest nerd in existence, and his grandma, a retired prostitute named Gertie, has taken to running away from her nursing home.
Augie just wants to hole up in his dorm room with his Star Wars collectables and textbooks, but Gertie is not about to let that happen. What ensues is a crazy ride including naked trespassing, befriending a local biker gang, and maybe-just maybe-with Augie defeating his anxiety and actually getting the girl.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, college, coming of age, ebook, family, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, grandmother, ilovebooks, indiebooks, jennifer leblanc, kindle, kobo, literature, love, new adult, nook, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, romance, sex, shelfari, smashwords, story, teen fantasy, teen fiction, The Tribulations of August Barton, writer, writer community, writing, YA, young adult
An Undying Need to Find Truth
The Taking of Peggy Martin follows an enigmatic young nurse working at an institution for the criminally insane. What was the inspiration for Peggy’s character background?
Peggy Martins character came to me one rainy day. I grew up in the deep south. I am a Registered Nurse and like Peggy, I have worked with psychiatric patients. As I began to wander in memory of patients I had encountered, Peggy all but appeared to me. I suddenly felt her devotion. We shared that commonality, but it didn’t stop there. There were so much more and suddenly our lives intertwined. I adopted her persona and added fragments of my own life, an overly religious Grandmother, and the pieces to the story just fell into place. Add in the painful loss of my father when I was quite young which resulted in a childhood haunted by aberrations and ‘The Taking of Peggy Martin’ was born.
Peggy Martin is a pious woman that has had some horrible things happen around her. What were something that you felt were important for Peggy’s character development?
Loss. Painful loss and an undying need to find truth. Survival.
This is an engaging and mysterious thriller that touches on deep emotions. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
Although fragments of real life events are woven into this novel, it is fantasy. If there was one thing to take away from this story it is, that it doesn’t take guts to quit. Even in the face of evil, one can persevere.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
My next novel is Chasing the Red Queen. The setting is Sault Ste. Marie Michigan and her sister city by the same name in Ontario.
Fact; It is written in the ancient birch parchments of the Ojibwe (Indigenous people) that Seven Miigis (spirits) known as (Radiant Iridescents) presented themselves (over a thousand years ago) to the people in the Waabanakiing (Land of the Dawn, i.e., Eastern land) to teach the Mide (culture) way of life. One spirit known as the Seventh was too powerful and killed those in his presence. The other Six spirits took to the river and swam back to the ocean from whence they came.
Chasing the Red Queen is a beautiful, modern day love story with relentless action, elite battles, steamy passion and the ghastly realization that just because one chooses not to believe in the paranormal, doesn’t make it a given.
Author Links: Website | GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook
The setting is East Texas, where Peggy, a young nurse, works at an institution for the criminally insane. After her husband Danny is mysteriously killed in a car accident, she convinces herself that it was murder… and she knows the murderer by name… Jasper Johnson. When she gets notice from Marbelle Johnson, Jasper’s mother, requesting an impromptu meeting, she discovers that the filthy rich oil baroness believes Danny to have been the bastard child of her deceased husband, Charles Johnson.
Peggy, irreparably damaged from childhood by religious fanaticism, reluctantly agrees to exhume Danny’s body. Reeling with doubt, all the while fearing betrayal by the Johnsons, she finds herself bordering on insanity.
Shackled in darkness, Peggy throws herself into her work only to find herself face to face with a blonde haired, blue eyed schizophrenic in a straitjacket. Quite by circumstance she discovers that this patient, Morgan Dubois, who as a child was found burrowed in the ground in the Piney Wood Thicket, has a link not only to her late husband, but also to the aberrations of her mind.
As secrets are revealed and it becomes apparent that something or someone wants to silence their tongues, Peggy is forced to seek refuge with the Johnsons. Together, as death finds them, one by one, they set upon a perilous journey in search of truth. Deep in the heart of the Piney Wood Thicket, they stumble upon Cypress Creek and discover an existence older than time itself. Peggy, caught in a maelstrom of emotions, torn between two worlds, finds herself in a desperate battle, not only for her life, but for that of all of mankind.
Posted in Interviews
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