Odriel’s Heirs follows a sheltered young woman with the power of flame who has to learn to control her gift and save humans that have cast her out. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
Odriel’s Heirs was my first book, so by the time I sat down to write it, I’d been thinking about the story for years. I’ve always loved chosen one stories, but I really wanted to show how the reality of a chosen one could be extremely difficult and burdensome. Honestly, I can see seeds of inspiration from so many of my favorite childhood books and TV shows sprinkled in this story: Sabriel by Garth Nix, X-men, and even Dragon Ball Z. I love the idea that Kaia has a gift that is difficult to use and, in a time of peace, made her an outcast instead of a hero. But then when she finally has a chance to become a hero like she always dreamed, it is more heart-breaking and nightmarish than she could have ever imagined.
Kaia comes into her gift as the Dragon Heir at a time when people felt it was not needed or wanted, till disaster strikes. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
As a teenager, I read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, in which Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, “A man who is warm cannot understand a man who is freezing,” and it really stuck with me. I think in times of peace, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to imagine what we would have to do or endure in times of violence or war. And, many times, I feel like rather than confront these scary or uncomfortable thoughts or possibilities, people would rather avert their gaze from reminders of those difficult truths. In the world of Okarria, Kaia is definitely one of these uncomfortable reminders, and her people spurn her for it, but I love how that doesn’t steal her desire to fulfill her role and protect those people. Although she often doesn’t feel like the fearless Dragon Heir she’s meant to be, the fact that she accepts this mantle on behalf of her people really shows her true strength and courage.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
One of the strongest themes in this book, and the series as a whole, is that even when we’re at rock bottom, at the end of our rope, we’re still capable of so much more than we believe. And though Odriel’s Heirs is full of danger and battles, it is the mental struggle with Kaia’s own confidence she must win if she wishes to survive. Kaia must come to terms with her shortcomings and her strengths and as such, she has to learn to have faith in both those around her and herself in order to come to her full potential. Although Odriel’s Heirs is an epic fantasy novel, Kaia’s coming-of-age underscores her every challenge, and it was so fulfilling to really watch Kaia grow from the self-conscious sheep-girl into a legendary Dragon Heir.
Is this the first book in the series? If so, when is the next book coming out and what can your fans expect in the next story?
Yes! Odriel’s Heirs is a trilogy with stand-alone entries linked by two novellas. The first book, Odriel’s Heirs, follows the Dragon Heir. Burning Shadows, a follow-on novella, links the story to the second book, Idriel’s Children, which follows a Shadow Heir of the next generation. Then, Night of Ash, another follow-on novella, links the narrative to the final book, Time’s Orphan, which follows a Time Heir. Time’s Orphan will be released on Feb 8th 2023 and the series will be complete! It’s been such a joy to embark and complete this epic adventure, and I’m so thankful to all the readers who’ve joined me along the way! Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you enjoy Odriel’s Heirs!
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Colton, a 14-year-old boy, lives with his dads. Being an only child, he is adored and doesn’t need to be corrected very often. Colton is dealing with the difficulties of adolescence, which can be challenging. The year seems to be jam-packed with events, from him and his best friends becoming involved in a shoplifting case, losing his cousin, and him developing a crush while on vacation. Colton yearns to see his surrogate mother, and his fathers are unsure of what Colton’s sexual orientation will be. He will experience a mental shift as a result of the pandemic and his encounter with the Saxton family. In any case, his parents are committed to guiding him toward becoming a good person.
Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year is a emotionally-resonant account of a young black boy who experiences racism and discrimination. Having two gay fathers does not improve the situation in a society that once forbade homosexuality. This impassioned book provides thoughtful insight into what it’s like to encounter prejudice based on race. Colton is a wonderful character. He’s smart, curious, compassionate, and adventurous. His parents’ unique love story and complementary personalities make for a compelling read all on their own. Colton is determined to avoid disappointing his parents, despite the ups and downs of adolescence. The author has done a fantastic job of accurately conveying the emotions of the characters which makes them feel authentic and relatable. There were many fascinating characters whose presence elevated the story and I think readers will be drawn in by the young character’s youthful mischief.
Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year is a compelling mix of teen drama, romance, friendship, and love. The well-crafted plot moved along smoothly, and the characters felt familiar yet unique. This stirring coming-of-age story is short and easy to read, making it accessible to a wide audience. Young adults will find this LGBTQ romance novel relevant and entertaining. I recommend Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year to teenagers and adults who enjoy reading young adult fiction that has heart and something to say.
Pages: 239 | ASIN: B0BRVFQLWM
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Fast Flight 540: Stuart Bump (Book 2) by M. M. Mesldorf is an exhilarating fantasy book that continues the story in book 1. Filled with surprising twists and turns, this lively fantasy story is sure to satiate any young reader’s appetite for adventure. Mesldorf’s writing style is simple but keeps the reader engaged throughout. The illustrations that accompany the story inspire the imagination and invite curiosity into the characters’ lives. The story begins with a brief overview of past happenings. I found the prologue to be a great refresher of book 1 and it helped to connect the events of past and present conditions. This will also help any readers who didn’t read book 1 first.
Stuart’s character tries to find a way to stand out from everyone when in reality he is a curious child who seems misunderstood by the people around him. As the story progressed I started to understand Stuart’s character better and he grew on me. The mother, Anslie, is an enchanting character and I enjoyed reading about her as well. In all, readers will find each character unique and intriguing in their own way.
The story seemed episodic, with chapters that connect the events and actions that take place. This fun adventurous tale is perfect for young readers as it is filled with action, fun mischief, and tricks that will keep you hooked until the very end. The story takes place in two fascinating worlds, the world of dreams and reality. I felt that the book had a slow start but the ending of the book made up for it all. The build-up, when connected, created a beautiful climax in the story.
FastFlight 540 (Book 2) takes readers on a spirited adventure that will make them fall in love with the characters all over again. I recommend this book to young readers and teen readers as they will surely enjoy the inherent adventure and wild turn of events faced by the characters in the story.
Pages: 337 | ASIN: B0BQ9JB4NC
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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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Like A Hero follows a masked crime fighter who finds reality isn’t like the comic books and he’s forced to straddle a moral and legal line. What were some sources that informed the development of this novel?
I grew up reading, and still read, comic books, but I’ve also learned the harsh realities of life for so many through my work with incarcerated children and as a public high school teacher, and I decided to incorporate that reality into my book. I do enjoy light-hearted “superhero” books, but I thought it was time for a story that explored the difficulties that being a masked crimefighter might entail since so much crime stems from human degradation and the circumstances of one’s upbringing. I’ve always believed that the spirit of the law is more often than not more important than the letter of the law, hence the moral vs legal dilemma faced by my main character.
What were some things you wanted to do differently from other superhero novels in your book?
I’ve always wondered if a real-life Batman could exist, but not someone who has unlimited wealth; just an average person with certain talents and abilities and the desire to improve his community. For this reason, I shied away from giving my main character any super powers, which makes my story different from all or almost all of the superhero novels out there. Having superpowers can be fun in and of themselves, but what my character gets to take home from his experiences is simply the knowledge that he saved a life or made someone’s life a bit better. But for every one of those successes, there are the times he could not make the difference he hoped. Thus, my novel has darker moments than most superhero books, but ultimately I think it leaves the reader with a sense of hope that we all can make a difference if we choose to.
What were some moral issues you felt were important to address in this book?
Invictus, my hero character, has numerous encounters with homeless people. I don’t believe that homeless people should be left on the street in a dysfunctional state because most of them need residential treatment centers before they need housing and jobs, but the fact that restaurants must throw out left over food (by law) rather than give it to people in need has always bothered me. I believe it’s immoral to waste anything that can be used by others. There’s also a moral component in shelters for runaway or homeless teens that turn someone away because of legal regulations. To me, the needs of the human being are more important than regulations set out by bureaucrats. Invictus also faces moral challenges with two of the kids he meets – Franky, the ten-year-old meth addict (whose mother is responsible for his addiction), and Joe, the African-American teen who had to leave home because his parents would not accept him as gay and was then forced to live on the streets. What’s to be done for these children? Social services might take them, but if the boys don’t want to go, should Invictus force them or trick them into the system? These and other moral gray areas are a large aspect of those people in society who are broken, and the answers are seldom simple. My hope is that readers will consider these and other issues in their own communities and perhaps might even come up with viable solutions of their own.
Do you have future plans to write more books with these characters?
I ended the book, not on a cliffhanger, but with doors wide open for further adventures. I love these characters and all of them changed or grew as a result of the first book, so I definitely want to move forward with these changed characters and their experiences as volunteer crime fighters. As I write this, I’m plotting out the second book, so hopefully, one day soon, readers can enjoy more of my characters and their adventures.
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Murder at Manzanar is an incredibly detailed and exciting story written by Steve Zimcosky. The gripping story follows a retired police officer who is also a talented private detective. Tom Sipowicz is contacted after a Buddhist statue is broken, revealing an old envelope addressed to Hideki Sakura, who no one knows who this is. Tom is employed to trace the owner of this mysterious envelope. Along the way, Tom interacts with several elders, who openly discuss their personal experiences of Japanese Internment camps. The eye-opening stories bring the reader’s attention to the atrocities many individuals faced during World war 2 at the hands of the US. This is an essential piece of history cleverly placed within this comprehensive book. The author describes in detail the process of finding the missing Hideki Sakura, speaking to many people with whom the protagonist may never have interacted otherwise.
I think this book is a fabulous read. It keeps the reader focused, and the author has an eye for details. I believe each character, from Tom to the elders he talks to throughout, is described in a way the reader can picture, which creates a good image of the story in the reader’s head.
Zimcosky creates a heartfelt story that discusses history in a remarkably well-written subtle way, which the reader can take away with them once the book is complete. The book’s pace is perfect for teen readers, keeping them engaged in the plotline. The addition of historical information is an added bonus that educators will appreciate. I think the writing style sets an excellent image for the reader and keeps them intrigued, allowing for an easy, relaxing read.
Murder at Manzanar is a captivating cozy mystery that draws on history and exceptional character development to keep readers interested. This short and fast-paced novel is perfect for picking up and reading on a lazy afternoon or when you need a clean intriguing mystery to solve.
Pages: 160 | ASIN : B0B3S7ZFHQ
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Gwyn Madison is a high school senior with dreams of escaping her small Virginia hometown. She lives with her mom, her aunt, and her uncle. Gwyn’s dad, while still in her life, left her mom when Gwyn was still a baby. Her Aunt Delia and Uncle Beck took them in since her mom couldn’t financially support them. Aunt Delia offers to pay for Gwyn’s college on one condition: she must stay in Virginia. This becomes an issue when Gwyn is accepted to an arts college in Boston. Gwyn has one summer to change Aunt Delia’s mind. While trying to convince her stickler aunt to let her leave Virginia and repair their relationship, Gwyn stumbles upon a daunting secret from Aunt Delia’s past. Will the secret mend their broken relationship, or will it tear them apart forever?
Whispering Through Water by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler is an impassioned coming-of-age novel that will appeal to a young adult audience and teen readers. With impeccable writing, an engaging style, and relatable topics, I think this book is perfectly suited for late middle schoolers or early high schoolers.
This is an evocative and wholesome novel that touches on serious topics and issues while maintaining a lighthearted feel. It displays family conflict in a mature manner. It shows that there is hope even in the midst of our darkest times. The author maneuvers through conflict resolution with empathy and wisdom. She writes about familial arguing in a realistic and interesting way. The story displays family conflict in everyday life: complicated and painful, all while holding onto hope that things will get better. Much like in real life, things don’t end the way we might expect them to, but as long as we are honest with ourselves and each other, there isn’t anything we can’t handle.
The best thing about Whispering Through Water is its close connection to real life and its ability to connect with readers on an authentic emotional level. I would recommend Whispering Through Water to any reader that is struggling with family trauma or issues.
Pages: 67 | ASIN: B0BCCW8T54
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Princess Hope and Snowflake: The Quest follows a young Indian Princess who sets out on a dangerous journey to find a cure for her sick father with the help of her friends. What was the inspiration for your story?
I believe that children are our future, therefore, My goal is to touch children’s lives for I believe, with all my heart, that my characters are what children need today!
Princess Hope & Snowflake demonstrate distinguished qualities or characteristics, Such as Hope, Courage, Compassion, Respect, Kindness, and Humility, Having these traits, helps young children distinguish, Between right and wrong, or good and bad and help them find joy and success. Princess Hope and Snowflake, not only entertain the child, It also teaches morals and values that will stay with them forever. More important each of the characters demonstrates, throughout the story, Unconditional love, for one another and without hesitation and are willing to sacrifice their lives, for each other.
Princess Hope is only seven and must undertake a journey many adults would struggle with. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Princes Hope is seven years old and her father’s life is in jeopardy. She must go on a dangerous Journey and is afraid she will soon be an orphan. But with the help of her friends Snowflake a white grizzly cub with blue eyes, Thor the magnificent cougar, Lobo the Skillful hunter, and Spirit the majestic eagle. Together they learn that life will often give you challenges, you feel are impossible to overcome. You feel overwhelmed and hopeless, you want to cry and hide. You feel sorry for yourself and ask yourself why me? Princess Hope shows the young reader that the question you need to ask yourself is how you can overcome your problems. What do I need to do to triumph over any problem I face? And hopefully, they realize that you also need the help of family and friends.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Princess Hope & Snowflake is my lifelong dream coming true, The main theme of the book is unconditional Love of family and friends and believing in yourself, that you can face any problem and succeed. Princess Hope & Snowflake, demonstrate the importance of unconditional love. I also wanted to show the young reader that every animal is special, Unique and gifted and inspiring.
What adventure will the next book with Princess Hope and Snowflake be about, and when will it be available?
Thank you for asking there is a fourth book in the series, It is called Princess Hope & Snowflake’s “Memories of the past.” Mary Shelly once wrote, every story has a beginning an The beginning must be linked to something that went before. Memories of the past tell the story of how Princess Hope’s Ancestors came to live On Rainbow Island. Gold was found in their land and many were hunted down and killed as a result. A few brave souls escape on a ship with only, their clothes on their backs and With Hope and courage in their heart. It shows the reader the character of White Eagle as a young boy, The future leader of the Tribe and Princess Hope’s father. I like to finish this interview with a thought, I would like your readers to know about Princess Hope & Snowflake. The Quest is the third book in a series of three books and in all three, There is music and poetry, an element in Princess Hope & Snowflake, to touch the reader’s heart, to not only fall in love with all the characters in the book but to identify with them and also moved them, To cheer and cry for the heroes of the story, For example, the young princess is singing a song to her father White Eagle who is in a coma, a song to touch his heart, That will give him the will to live and be a part of her life.
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