Every abandoned building holds a bit of mystery. At one time or another, all of us have had that moment when we imagine the life that used to inhabit the old homes and businesses in our communities–it’s just part of their charm. On the other hand, those same buildings can be homes to some truly sinister activities. When Nate and his friend, Zachary, notice something amiss with the abandoned building in their neighborhood, they make it their mission to discover the truth. What begins as an innocent exercise in eavesdropping quickly turns into an adventure neither of the boys will soon forget.
Unlikely, by Wynsome Peters, is the realistic urban fiction story centered around two middle schoolers making their way into high school and finding adventure along the way. Nate and Zachary, curious and eager to prove themselves, begin their own investigation after seeing shadows and overhearing a disturbing conversation behind the walls of a dilapidated building. The young boys make it their mission to solve the mystery and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Peters has managed to create an engaging story which will appeal to adolescent readers who enjoy mystery plots with relatable characters. The move from middle school to high school is one that causes mixed emotions and a host of opportunities to meet new people. The author has given young readers two main characters who both feel and act like them and have their own unique families full of quirks. Readers will find themselves just as invested in Nate and Zachary as they are the mystery unfolding before them.
While I enjoyed this adventurous romp, I noticed a few grammatical errors which affect the flow of the story. With a bit of proofreading, and an editor to keep the story focused, this could easily be an exceptionally fun novel.
Unlikely is an intriguing middle school adventure story that builds up and unravels a mystery in entertaining fashion. The author’s choice of characters and storyline work well and provide a relatable and engaging story for younger readers.
Pages: 137 | ASIN: B07MRF18HH
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Run Taylah Run follows a runner who must use her skills and tenacity to rescue her team from disaster while avoiding danger herself. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?
After many years working in schools and officiating at athletics meets, I had the background to engage the characters in the competitive sections of the story. The story takes place in Queensland, Australia, and the vehicle accident takes place on the Atherton Tablelands of North Queensland which is a “local area” for me. By keeping the content and context local I believed I could add authenticity to the story.
Taylah is an inspirational and invigorating character. What were some ideas that were important to personify in her character?
The key attribute I wanted Taylah to show was humility. Individuals are good at different things and excelling in a field of endeavour should not take away the level approach one needs to navigate life. Because Taylah is the “best” does not distract from her ability to see good in, and encourage, others. With determination comes achievement. With achievement comes confidence. It is that confidence that guides Taylah in all she experiences in the story.
I enjoyed the authenticity of the story. What experience do you have with school sports?
As noted above, I have worked in schools for many years and officiated at many athletics meets. I have seen the high and the lows of students’ participation in interschool sports.
What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?
I hope readers will gain an insight into the everyday world of a group of high school students and a chance to relate to the characters. I also hope readers will gain a sense of perseverance when face with adversity whether you are young or old.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: adventure, author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, high school, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, Paul Richardson, read, reader, reading, Run Taylah Run, sports, sports fiction, story, suspense, teen fiction, thriller, writer, writing, young adult
Driven follows a young man who fights to achieve his dreams while trying to pull his dad out of his depression. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I was asked to participate in the Legacy Series of teen sports novels by my publisher and gladly accepted. At that same time, my wife and I were on the phone with my stepson who had played high school sports, and I asked him to help me develop a theme. He had gone through what Gabe had to go through with the rich kids in school getting playing time over those who had played hard for their four years and felt thrust aside because of wealthy parents. The theme was established.
The depression arc with Gabe’s father was based on my depression and the struggle I encountered to even get up off of the couch some days. Even though I didn’t drink my way through it, the struggle is very hard. Whenever I get the opportunity to talk about it or help others through it, I do. The white fleece jacket that Gabe’s father wore was the same one I wore each and every day of my depression. It was my security blanket, keeping me mentally safe.
Gabe is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Every story has to have conflict and a hero to fight through it. Realizing what was going on in his town and that he was the only one who could help himself achieve his dreams, I wanted to use Gabe to bring focus to teenagers the concept that life isn’t handed to them, they have to go out and get it on their own through hard work and tenacity. In today’s world where so many young kids fall into that “me” mentality, I also wanted to stress the importance of family. No one is more important than family. And although I realize that not everyone has the same core family of mother and father, they still have parental role models. And, good or bad, we all need to be there for our families and friends.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The fact that money can’t buy you everything, the importance of family and helping those in need, and the possibility that life can be lived and conflict can be resolved with “No Hate in the Heart”. Those were the main themes.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have written a series of mid-grade books called The Gazore Series, which is an older kid’s tribute to Dr. Seuss, and am currently working on turning that into a podcast with 9 episodes completed so far. My current sports book is a hockey book entitled Blindsided. The Gazore Series and Podcast are available now and Blindsided I hope to get finished soon. I am approximately two-thirds of the way through that.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, baseball, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, coming of age, depression, Driven, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, high school, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, sport, sports fiction, story, teen fiction, Will Hallewell, writer, writing, young adult
It’s the year 2003. Teenagers are messaging each other online, listening to punk music on MP3 players, and writing blogs on LiveJournal to fit in. One such teen is walking the halls of Wales High School with bright shirts, leather jackets, and blue hair: Jacques Peters. He’s determined to become best friends with one of the coolest guys in school, Davis Mavis. But he soon discovers that smoking, skipping class, and putting up a front aren’t as cool as they seem, particularly when mental health is involved. His friends gossip behind his back, push him out of their clique, and turn a blind eye to the cuts on his wrists. He’s dragged into a life that leads to a long stay in a psychiatric ward he hates, full of therapy, pills, and a strict routine.
That troubled teen is me.
When I was discharged, I was in a daze. Numbed by medication and left with few friends, I spent my days listening to music and giving my teachers lip. Eventually, on a cold winter night home alone, I posted a single word on my blog: “goodbye.” I took a cocktail of pills and hoped to slip into an endless sleep.
Posted in book trailer
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Cutthroat Cheerleader follows a bully who dies and is given the chance to look back at how her life affected the people around her. How long did you have the idea for this novel and what made you decide to start writing?
I had the idea kind of come forward while I was writing High School Queens. I have really loved this campy caddy novels, but I really wanted to add murder to it. With covid happening, I’ve had a bunch of time to write. I just really didn’t want to write a depressing novel while our world is a huge dumpster fire right now.
What were some ideas that informed Madison’s revelations throughout the story?
I think her seeing everyone’s life behind closed doors. What I always add to my novels is the theme, don’t judge a book by its cover. I feel like we all have our own struggles, and we don’t really know what someone’s going through unless we look behind all the closed doors. She realized everyone had tragedy, and I hurt a lot of people along the way. She made Mark be two different guys, and she made Chad be the stereotypical jock. These two were unhappy because they were playing the same game book as Madison to survive high school.
What scene from the book was the most challenging for you to write?
I think for me it was the plot twist when you realized one of the characters wasn’t crazy, and it had to be when the murderer was revealed. I think both I wanted to live up to the hype that I created in the novel.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a book called Playlist. I have wanted to write this novel for honestly over ten years. It’s a love story between two characters and my love for my music. It should be out in the summer. I’m just having too much fun with Cutthroat that I’m not ready to publish just yet another novel.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, coming of age, contemporary fiction, Cutthroat Cheerleader, ebook, fantasy, fiction, gay fiction, goodreads, high school, kindle, kobo, lgbt, literature, new adult, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, writer, writing, young adult, Zachary Ryan
Nira was miserable, pretty much all the time. As an immigrant in her school (or as she called herself, “one of the only brown people”) she was automatically an outsider, and spent her days there commiserating with her one friend about it. Her life at home was equally as unfulfilling, spent under the strict watch of her parents who lived to ensure that she accomplished the dreams they had for her future. Her two biggest comforts are her grandmother and her trumpet, both equally soothing for her soul. Eventually, though, Nira begins to learn that no one’s life is quite what it seems.
In the Key of Nira Ghani, by Natasha Deen is a coming of age story that finds Nira navigating life not only as a teen, but as an immigrant in a foreign country. On the surface, the story is familiar territory- monetarily poor teen bemoans how sad and unfair her life is until she realizes that everyone else’s happiness is mostly a facade and discovers all the things in life money can’t buy. However, on a deeper note Deen has crafted a story that is in equal turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, all while being impossible to put down. She shares the intricacies of Nira’s family life in a way that highlights its cultural differences while also showing that we all face similar challenges and rivalries when it comes to those relationships. While writing about teen conflict can be challenging, Deen approaches all of Nira’s problems without making any of them seem trite or trivial. She absolutely nails the turmoil of being a teenage girl, even before the added pressure of living in a completely new place.
In the Key of Nira Ghani manages to touch on all the major themes of teenage life- the desire for more independence, rebellion against parents, the need for acceptance, the evolution of childhood friendships (whether for better or for worse), and first love. Nira begins the story in a place of utter loneliness, but as she encounters all of these things she learns to grow and eventually becomes more defined by juggling each new obstacle. By the end of the book, Nira has discovered an independence and strength that she never imagined, not to mention empathy and understanding for those around her.
While Nira’s emotional turmoil was hard to read at times, it was accurate for her age and experience, and the added layer of cultural differences made the story that much more interesting. I spent the entire book emotionally invested and was definitely happy to be along for the ride!
Pages: 300 | ASIN: B07G74YP63
Tags: author, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books to read, coming of age, contemporary fiction, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, high school, In the Key of Nira Ghani, kindle, kobo, literature, Natasha Deen, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, teen fiction, writer, writing, yalit, young adult
Silent Screams follows four friends in the aftermath of a school shooting that unravels secrets and relationships. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this compelling story?
It came from a song called Prom Queen by Katie Turner. She has a line about a audience that was never meant for me. It was where the idea for Zachary came to be. It was also my 50th novel that I wrote. I wanted to add elements from each of the first 49 in there.
We really get to dive deep into each unique character in the story. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Honestly, it was Cass. I just had such love for her. I wanted so much for her to be strong and be able to move past all the hurt she had to deal with. I just honestly don’t know how she handled that situation. You find out your boyfriend is cheating on you, and you can’t hate her because she lost her life from one of your best friend’s actions. Then on top of that Jarele was a good guy. He helped Cass through so much. It was hard for Cass to hate Jarele. I just was impressed by her strength and where she ended up.
In this story we get to explore how families and relationships are all different and complex. What were some themes you wanted to capture within them?
Honestly, that everyone goes through some hardships in their life. I also wanted to go through this idea that no one is a full villain or victim. With Gabe each person viewed Gabe in such a different way, and I really wanted to portray that. My theme for all my novels is make sure to not judge someone because you don’t know what’s behind someone’s closed doors.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available
I’m working on a campy book. It’s a lot like my High Schools Queen trilogy. It’s called Cutthroat Cheerleader. It’s sassy, campy, and a murder mystery too. It will be out actually in October.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, contemporary fiction, drama, ebook, family, fantasy, fiction, friends, ghost story, goodreads, high school, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, relationship, romance, story, teen fiction, womens fiction, writer, writing, young adult, Zachary Ryan
It is no use taking a step without first deciding where you would like that step to lead you. The final years of high school are very important as one is required to firm their plans for the future. Often, this is a make or break time in life.
The first thing Dr. Kim Nugent advises is to get a mentor. Someone who will walk with you on this journey. Not one who will simply tell you what to do and how to do it. This is a personal journey that you cannot afford to give up autonomy on. You cannot afford to be altruistic in your decision making either. Paving your Path provides a 30-week guide during which the mentor and mentee are taken step by step through the process of an appropriate and meaningful relationship.
It is quite lovely of the author to use her personal story as the backdrop for this book. It humanizes it as well as provides a secondary mentor for the reader. Her story is candid and filled with victories and losses in equal measure. This demonstrates that determination and drive to succeed really do matter for a person’s journey. Dr. Nugent’s journey was not conventional or traditional but she turned out well. That is one of the greatest qualities of this book, it is incredibly encouraging.
Two other things stand out of this book for me: First, the tone of writing gives off a sort of cool vibe. The author just makes you want to pay attention and abide. She inspires and coaches the reader with just the conversational tone of writing alone. The second thing that stands out is the chronological plotting of material. The structure is intentional and contributes to how well the material is consumed. Dr. Kim Nugent’s passion and sheer determination to inspire lead her to producing material of great value both personally and academically.
This book is suitable for high school students that are approaching a turning point in their lives. This book is also quite applicable to anyone who might be facing a fork in their life. It could be a between going back to school or more responsibility at work. The maxims in this book are universally applicable.
Are you passionate enough for the path you are choosing? Are you personally ready to take that path? How is the mentor-mentee relationship working out? These are important questions that will be answered within the book. Paving your Path should be a staple for graduating high school students.
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