Skylar Robbins has been preparing for this for months. Daniel made a promise to be her partner in the next ACE adventure, and she believes he meant what he said. As part of the elite group of students who take part in the Accelerated Courses and Experiments program, Skylar and Daniel are no strangers to adventure and mystery. The only mystery right now, however, is how Hannah Hilton made it into the program and why Daniel seems to have forgotten that Skylar exists. What promised to be a fantastic summer is now looking like a huge disappointment. Will the trip to Koma Island turn things around for Skylar or will it be more than they all bargained for?
Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Island Idol, by Carrie Cross, is centered around young Skylar Robbins–gifted and talented and a member of ACE. With all the angst and stresses of late middle and early high school years, she is the perfect protagonist for today’s young readers. It is refreshing to still see writers placing an intelligent and forward-thinking female lead in their stories, and Skylar rivals and surpasses the budding detectives many of us are used to–Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. Kudos to Cross for putting motivated and capable young women at the forefront of her series. Our middle school readers need to see this more regularly.
Mysteries need to pop. They need to move quickly and hold the reader’s interest, especially when younger readers are the group toward which a series is aimed. Cross is a master at this. Skylar thinks quickly on her feet, and her friendship with Alexa provides a nice sounding board for her ideas. There lies within Cross’s work an amazing little cast of characters that provides readers with plenty of opportunities to visualize a vast array of personality types. It’s nice to see such a well-drawn cast of characters–all having wonderful quirks and offering their own contributions to Skylar’s role in the story.
Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Island Idol, by Carrie Cross is a rip-roaring young adult adventure/romance story that will keep readers on their toes. Centered around current technology and full of references younger readers will appreciate, this book has everything needed to engage readers and keep them coming back for more from Skylar and her gifted cohort.
Pages: 237 | ASIN: B08P5VXBQ5
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Phoebe Douse: The Return has a dramatic turn of events that test the students abilities and reveal Phoebe’s destiny. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from book one?
New ideas introduced would be that book 2 answered some unanswered questions from book 1. An important part of Phoebe’s identity is revealed. And the elements of life and death danger and fear, I believe, are intensified.
I thought this story was fun and I enjoyed the unique twists. What was the funnest scene for you to write?
I’m so happy you enjoyed all the different twists and turns in the story! One of the funnest scenes to write was the chapter called, The Factory. I wanted it to have a very intense, mysterious vibe that heightened the drama of the story and have a big reveal. Definitely a chapter that I like to reread, even on its own.
What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
My main challenges were setting mini deadlines for writing so that I could finish the book on time. Another challenge was making sure that I remained true to each character as the plot developed. I knew I wanted there to be growth and conflict within each character as well as between characters, but at the same time, I didn’t want to veer away from the essence of who each of them are.
This is book two in the Phoebe Douse Trilogy. What can readers expect in the final book?
Honestly, this is still a mystery even to me. I’m currently outlining the plot, which has been a bit tricky since I have so many ideas and ways in which I’m imagining the story could go. I’ve decided that I’m not going to plan too much ahead. For book 3, I’d like for the story to develop organically. So I’m excited to see where this final book will take me!
Posted in Interviews
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
Quick Quirks, A Quick Book by Benjamin Anderson
Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information.
Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
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Paul Tonetti, Jr., at 14 years of age, was on the verge of taking the darker dark path towards adulthood. But then George and Lucia Albert moved in next door and everything changed. Was George the superhero Paul perceived him to be, or something much less super and more sinister? And what about the vacant lot nearby, which seemed to defy the laws of nature? In the “shake, rattle and roll” world of spirts and demons, the Walrus knows all the answers.
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Finding Home follows a convict sentenced to serve life in another time. I loved the idea behind this novel. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
The first book in the series, No Way Home, follows protagonist Christine Stewart, who works for the government as a transport agent. I thought for book two, it would be interesting to write the story from the prisoner’s perspective.
I have often contemplated what the effects to society would be if the overcrowding finally became too much for our justice system to handle. What if the public refused to tolerate it? With technology advancing so quickly, it makes sense that cyber-crimes would fast become a leader in white collar crimes. What better way to exile non-violent criminals than to transport them to a time where technology was non-existent and their skills would be useless to them? The thought was equally frightening and intriguing to me.
Malcolm is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
I wrote Malcolm as an ‘every-guy’. A man who was in a slump of sorts. He had no real future to look forward to, and he made a rash decision that was out of character for him, but one that would set him on a path he couldn’t veer from. I did not want him to be a sword-wielding hero. He needed to be relatable to explore how a normal, average person would react to being exiled hundreds of years to the past to start over.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I felt it was important to see Hannah’s transition from a fearful, abused woman who had lost herself, to a confident, capable woman surviving in unthinkable conditions.
I also enjoyed exploring Christine’s mindset regarding her job. She struggles with the guilt of exiling prisoners with little chance of survival on their own. Yet as a law enforcement officer she took an oath to do her job to the best of her ability, and she tries to strike a balance between the two emotions.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Book three in the series, Escaping Home, takes Christine and her crew on another adventure to 1790, Virginia and 1908, New York. Book three differs from the first two, in that the time-travelers are forced to make some very risky decisions that ultimately become life-changing. Escaping Home is slated to release on November 18.
On the day of the execution there were nine accused set to die. Nine bodies entered the mortuary, and nine bodies were prepared for burial. On the morning of the burial, only eight bodies remained. No one knows who entered the room with the bodies–or no one is telling, and absolutely no one wants to be the one to go before King James with this confusing and disturbing news. The body missing? It’s Elizabeth Device, the most outspoken of those accused of witchcraft. The search has begun to recover the body, but no one has noticed the one clue that could lead them to the answers the king has demanded.
Initially set in the 1600s, Jeremy and the Witches’ Medallion: The Witch Hunt, by Randy Gauthier, takes place 12 years following the execution of nine accused witches. With the proposed sale of the land belonging to the woman whose body went missing and the survey of her property begins a sequence of events revealing much about her way of life. Picking up 400 years later in 2012, the author continues the story in present times with a whole new cast of characters young readers will find more relatable. Author Randy Gauthier does a wonderful job of touching on every disturbing aspect of the era when witch trials were prevalent.
The mystery surrounding the magpie is an especially gripping part of Gauthier’s work. I am also intrigued by the use of the present tense. I am generally not a fan of novels written in the present tense, but it somehow works with this particular storyline–it helps to build the right amount of tension and keeps readers engaged.
Jeremy’s storyline is the one that will draw in young adult readers. As a senior in high school with big dreams of becoming an Olympian, he takes readers on a journey like no other. Though the novel is steeped in elements of fantasy and science fiction like time travel, Jeremy serves as readers’ guide through history, stopping momentarily to provide facts and tidbits they will find keep them grounded and invested in the storyline.
Jeremy and the Witches’ Medallion: The Witch Hunt gives young adult readers a fantastic peek into the witch trials and famous historical incidents and manages to blend it well with a good many relevant present day references. The shift from present tense to past tense and back again can be a little confusing, but the time-travel and history lessons more than make up for it. I highly recommend Gauthier’s work to any fan of historical fiction.
Pages: 340 | ISBN: 1647501520
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All Things Small by Norman Schwartz is a charming literary fiction novel following the journey of Nathan Epstein in the city of Rome, an innocent, directionless American tourist struggling with everyday interactions in the local language. Nathan is wandering the streets after quitting his job and he is trying to make his way through the city with the help of a popular guidebook. While placing an order in the restaurant he unexpectedly encounters Sergio. The chance meeting helps him find an affordable residence, means of living, and even an opportunity for new life. But where will it all go? Is everything as good as it looks like or is something else going on? As the quote in the book by Cicero goes, “The beginnings of all things are small.” More important things will happen, for better or for worse. Only time will tell.
Author Norman B. Schwartz gives readers a thought provoking contemporary story that is takes readers in unexpected directions. The characters, the scenes, and the plot all come alive with the authors easy yet engrossing writing style. The book has a a fascinating aura of mystery that permeates the story, as well as a bit of melancholy as beauty and gloom are contrasted well in this riveting story. I enjoyed how the author provides a sharp contrast between shiny famous monuments and the dark underbelly of the city that is full of crime and lust.
Another fascinating aspect of the book was the generous sprinkling of Italian language; I felt that it adds to the exotic appeal and increases its authenticity. The graphic depiction, architectural details, and sharp and imaginative presentation of it all makes the reading experience immersive. While I thought the book was a bit slow to start, it eventually picks up and takes readers on a well written and entertaining ride that is full of alluring characters.
All Things Small by Norman Schwartz is a highly captivating book that keeps you engaged and yearning for more. If you love historical events, picturesque landscapes, architecture, and a mesmerizing story of human experiences in a foreign land, this book is for you.
Pages: 210 | ASIN: B08ZS9CXCQ
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It all started when the bad guys tried to get clever in covering their tracks. Things get complicated.
Now a Special Forces operator, a Hollywood star, ex-soldiers, gangsters and cops are all lurking in the shadows, trying to catch one another and to purge the other team before they do them.
Liz and the gang get caught in the middle after accepting a seemingly straight forward case – locate a 75-year old missing aunt.
In this book, Liz and the gang team up with 3 retirees and a whole host of other colourful characters, to solve mysteries that revolve around a retirement home and the murder of a news reporter.
Who will survive?
Who will end up behind bars?
Will Liz find love again?
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