In this world where everything is fast paced and competitive, one can feel a little overwhelmed. They can feel lost in the crowd. They can feel like they are drowning in their inability to measure up to society’s expectations and standards. It is not easy. It is not ideal but it is what it is. There is nothing more to do than equip the future generations with the skills to ignore all the news. The wherewithal to see the standards but not bend to them. The ability to understand that the only standards worth measuring up to are ones set by one’s own self.
Mary Lynne Fernandez, with her extensive experience and brilliance, seeks to do exactly that with this book. She seeks to guide teenagers through life. To arm parents with tools to efficiently and successfully navigate the mucky and turbulent waters that is parenting to teenagers. She seeks to shine a light on this depression and suicide epidemic. She seeks to weed it out. She seeks to ensure teenagers seek help before they seek the noose. The only way to achieve this is by harnessing one’s own true power. To embrace and overcome. Suicide is not the way out. Staying alive to fight and exorcise those demons is.
The author has done an excellent job of appealing to her demographic. She does not tell the reader to just get over it. She outlines practical steps with passion and affection. Her delivery and presentation are powerful. She lays a strong foundation for her message with vivid writing that uses simple but powerful language. She is not looking to provide answers but rather a road-map to realization. The subject matter is relevant, relatable, and rings true. She has addressed the conversation in a sensible and sober way.
I think this book is aimed at two demographics. The first is the teenagers, of course. They need to understand just how stacked the deck is and how to play the game. They need to understand the truth about the world they live in. Parents of said teenagers will also find this book useful. The author does a good job of addressing both generations. I felt that she understood and appreciated the different situations and thus successfully speaks to both parent and teen.
This book is inspirational and useful by providing ingenious insights that are both practical and applicable. If you go into the woods, you may bring a wilderness survival book. If you’re becoming a teenager you may want to take this book along with you. This book will help you approach your thoughts and passions with fresh eyes. Read it. Understand it. Utilize it.
Pages: 188 | ASIN: B07CSF7PPN
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, culture, depression, ebook, education, emotion, family, goodreads, health, high school, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, Mary Lynne Fernandez, mental health, nook, novel, parent, parenting, power, publishing, read, reader, reading, self help, self sabotage, shelfari, smashwords, sociology, story, teen, teenager, truth, warrior teenager, writer, writer community, writing, YA, young adult
Away from Home by Joanne Clairmont is a very real and heartbreaking look into the troubled thoughts and insecure feelings many children and teens experience when part of the foster care system. As an experienced foster mom, Clairmont has dealt with a number of heart-breaking cases of fostered teens feeling lonely, isolated, and abandoned upon entering her home. She writes vividly about the struggles and emotions those in her care have faced, and the unseen turmoil brewing within them as they are placed into yet another new environment. Oftentimes sorrowful, Away from Home is an important read in understanding the ups and downs of the foster care system by those directly experiencing it.
A short book broken up into six sections, Away from Home shares Clairmont’s foster care experiences in poem form. Each section contains several poems related to a specific type of foster child, such as The Unsettled Teenager and The Challenging Teenager. Most of the six sections share the pain and loss of security many fostered teenagers can relate to when thrust into a foster situation. The last section, titled The Independent Teenager, completes the journey of emotional growth of the foster care teenager and consists of more uplifting and positive poems.
I appreciated that the author could interpret the actions of her fostered teenagers from the first night they arrived at her house until they had grown and moved on with their lives. I found the poems in The Unaccompanied Minor and The Unsettled Teenager especially easy to connect with due to their complete realization and understanding of how a teenager would feel upon entering a new foster placement. They presented a personal psychology into the effects of the instability and adaption foster children must cope with through no fault of their own.
I especially liked how the author construed the emotions of a new placement in “Don’t know if I am coming or going.” It was a simple and realistic take on how a newly placed teenager may feel upon arriving in a new place after enduring several former placements. It captures the frustration and identifies the protective wall that has been built up to shield the fostered teenager from experiencing any more emotional loss.
While there were many poems that hit the mark in eliciting a feeling or emotion when read, there were also a few that didn’t do it for me. “It is not cool” and “No school today” seemed like unfinished thoughts or small snippets that could have been better fleshed out. I think the book would greatly benefit from some additional structuring and the addition of more personalized images. The images in the book are generic and vary in artistic design. More simplified, original artwork would do wonders to visually present the ideas and feelings of the poems.
Overall I thought Away From Home really presented the emotional psychology and depth of the foster care system and those who live it. It created a descriptive and realistic picture for those who may not be familiar with the tragedy and distress many teens experience while in foster care. Aside from the few issues I had in reading, this book was an intense, creatively written study of an important subject.
Pages: 52 | ASIN: B077QLBKSC
Tags: amazon, amazon books, amazon ebook, art, artistic, author, away from home, book, book review, books, child, creative, ebook, ebooks, emotion, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, foster care, foster child, foster home, foster parent, goodreads, home, joanne clairmont, kindle, kindle book, kindle ebook, life, literature, novel, parent, poem, poetry, psychology, publishing, reading, review, reviews, short stories, stories, teacher, teen, teenager, urban fantasy, women, writing, YA, young adult
Death Leaders is an engaging dystopian novel about a shadow group keeping Earth’s population in check by secretly triggering acts that will lead to death for lots of people. Where did the idea for this novel come from and how did it develop over time?
Honestly? I was in a crowded space with a lot of people and I started to think: What if this was the world every single day? What if things got way too overcrowded? I usually build my worlds by trying to solve a well-known and common problem in an unconventional way. Death Leaders was my answer to overpopulation. When I brought the idea to my writing group (along with a first chapter), they loved the concept so much that they urged me to keep going with it; so, I did. I spent the next few months writing and rewriting my manuscript until I was satisfied with how it turned out…and then I rewrote it again 🙂
Chris is a complex and interesting teenager struggling to make sense of the world. What was the inspiration for this character’s traits and dialogue?
I didn’t want Chris to be shallow. I don’t like one-dimensional characters in children’s or YA fiction because I think it’s insulting to children and young adults. Children know and observe more than we think, so I wanted to give my readers something to think about with Chris. I wanted him to care about typical teenage things, but with a twist. I was determined to make his struggles more complex. For example, Chris is afraid to get close to girls, but for a much, much different reason than the average teenager. I loved creating that internal struggle.
The story is placed in futuristic Chicago where crime and violence run rampant. Why choose this city and time for the setting of the story?
I was born and raised in Chicago, so to me, the setting was almost a no-brainer. This was my first YA novel, so I wanted to stick to a setting that I knew and that would fit the story. I felt that if I was familiar with the setting, it’d be easier for me to alter it a little to make it futuristic. I chose the near future because I wanted some new-age elements in the setting, but nothing too crazy (I really wasn’t feeling the idea of flying cars or anything spacey like that).
You’ve written six fantastic novels so far. Will Death Leaders turn into a series or are you working on a different story?
Death Leaders actually started off as a sort of vignette into this near-future world. I didn’t write it with the intention of carrying on a series, but I’ve had so many people ask me about what Chris will do next, that I’m starting to toy with the idea of continuing Chris’s saga. I do have a few other projects in the works as well. I have a picture book coming out in October, and an educational series for middle graders coming out shortly after that.
The year is 2031, and now more than ever, population numbers are threatening to spiral out of control. The Death Leaders—a quasi-angelic group historically tasked with keeping the world’s population under control—work systematically to inflict death by using a single touch. Heroic Chicago Death Leader, Christopher Rush, is efficient and meticulous in his execution. After all, he’s learned from the best, his father, instigator of the Great Potato Famine. When Chris is assigned 19-year-old Tracy Wilbourne, he assumes that she’ll be a kill like every other. Business as usual. But Chris soon learns that everything isn’t always as it seems, and that no one is exactly who they appear to be.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: action, adventure, amazon, amazon books, author, author interview, book, book review, books, chicago, crime, death leaders, dystopian, ebook, ebooks, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, fighting, futuristic, interview, kendra hadnott, kindle, literature, love, murder, mystery, near-future, novel, overpopulation, paranormal, post-apocalyptic, publishing, reading, review, reviews, romance, sci fi, science ficiton, science fiction, science fiction book review, stories, supernatural, suspense, teenager, thriller, urban fantasy, vignette, writing, YA, young adult
In the Eyes of Madness is a paranormal fantasy novel that tells the story of a boy who struggles with accepting the extraordinarily horrific things happening in his life or accepting that he’s going insane. What intrigues you about the horror and paranormal genres that led you to write this book?
Let me start off saying that I’m a huge fan of the paranormal and urban fantasy genre. I feel that I already spend most of my day in the real world (going to work, playing and taking care of my kids, and spending time with my wife). When I open a book, I want to dive into a world that is magical, where anything can happen. So, one might ask, well, why not just pure fantasy novels? Fantasy novels tend to build amazing magical worlds that can allow the reader’s imagination to completely run free. I would agree with that. And I do enjoy a fantasy novel every so often for that reason. However, urban fantasy has the ability to cause a paradigm shift from how we would view our everyday life. They like to twist the things that would seem mundane into things that really make you wonder. And when you then add the paranormal theme to these urban fantasies what you end up with is a masterpiece that drills down the dark forbidden paths that you would avoid in real life. These stories tantalize your curiosity, fear, excitement, and bewilderment all at the same time.
In the Eyes of Madness follows the life of a man named Declan Peters whose mother tried to drown him when he was a child. What was your inspiration for this profound event in this characters development?
The premise of the novel came to me in a dream. And in my dream, I saw this teenager with haunted eyes that spoke to me of a tragic past. And I asked myself, what would be the most horrible thing that can happen to me as a child that would continue to haunt me as a teenager? For me, that would be if the person that I had loved the most as a child had tried to hurt me. That level of betrayal would damage any person beyond repair.
The story switches between Declan, Tristan and Zoe. What character did you enjoy writing for? Was there one that was more challenging to write for?
I love writing for each of my characters, but I did have the most fun with Tristan. I guess, in real life, I would relate more with Declan. I tend to be more of a “want to do good-er,” or what one would call the “nice guy.” It was fun to write for a character that had compromised morals for a change.
In the Eyes of Madness is book 1 in the Declan Peters Chronicles. When will book 2 be available? Can you give us an idea of where that book will take readers?
Actually before I release book 2 of the Declan Peters Chronicles, I will release book 1 of a new series that focuses on the Hunters. Declan will definitely make a significant appearance in this book as his story will tie into this new series in the future. Which would push book 2 out until next year. Book 2 of the Declan Peters Chronicles will reveal Declan’s mother’s relationship to the Hunters and what really happened to his father. The truth about Declan’s lineage will be most shocking! After I release book 2 of the Declan Peters Chronicles next year, I will focus on releasing a third book series that tells the story of the origin of demons. The origin stories of the demons in the other two book series will be told in this new series, and it will reveal a secret that will further the story of the other two series. Yes, that’s right three series. One that is set thousands of years in the past, one in the present about exorcists, another in the present about hunters, and all crisscrossing throughout. It’s going to be chaotic, fantastic, and MADNESS.
A near tragic incident at the hands of his psychotic mother left Declan Peters alone and with so many questions. Years later, Declan is determined to find a way to be closer to his mother and takes a job at the institution where she’s being held. That fateful decision will be the impetus for a chain of events so terrifying that Declan will question his own grasp on reality. What he finds will be more horrifying than anything he’s ever experienced and more dangerous than anything he’s yet known. In a place, rife with demonic possession and sadistic beings, will Declan finally be able to find the answers he’s longed for before its too late or will he succumb to the evil forces that inhabit the institution and all who live there?
Posted in Interviews
Tags: amazon, amazon books, author, author interview, book, book review, books, demons, dream, ebook, ebooks, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, fighting, horror, hunter, in the eyes of madness, interview, kindle, magic, michael pang, mother, mystery, novel, paranormal, publishing, reading, review, reviews, scary, science fiction, stories, teenager, thriller, urban fantasy, writing, YA, young adult
The Clayton Falls series by Alyssa Rose Ivy is a collection of three romantic books: Derailed, Veer, and Wrecked. All three books are set in the town of Clayton Falls, North Carolina, rooted in the lives of 20-something adults, most of whom grew up together. The first book, Derailed, introduces Molly Sander, a first-year law student who is struggling with the recent death of her fiancée, Adam. She leaves school to return to Clayton Falls for the summer, hoping to give herself time to heal. Her ex-boyfriend, Ben, is thrilled to see her, but her best friend Kelly is determined to set her up with Gavin, a police officer who works with Kelly’s husband. Molly wants to confront her fears and heal, but does she need the comfort of an old love or the excitement of someone new?
Veer focuses on Becca, Molly’s best friend from college. When Becca doesn’t get the summer internship at the Boston DA’s office, Molly helps her get a job with a local lawyer, and Becca comes to Clayton Falls for the summer. Molly is eager to introduce her to everyone and the single men begin to circle like sharks. Becca has more potential suitors than she wants, but one of the men from Clayton Falls turns out to be more than she expected, and they set out to pursue their dreams and lives together.
Wrecked picks up with Jake, Ben’s brother, drunk and fighting at a party. A DUI accident lands him in the hospital, and Emily, an ICU nurse, is attracted to him. He gets her number and asks her out, but when he discovers that she has a son, the date falls apart. Emily doesn’t want to see him again. While visiting her parents, her brother’s best friend Austen admits his longtime crush on her. Jake’s past and his drinking problem make her wary. Dating with a toddler in tow is going to be difficult, and Emily has a lot of choices to make.
Having all three of these novels in one volume is a great chance to immerse yourself in the lives of the characters. The Clayton Falls series is driven by the personalities and relationships of these lifelong friends, so following them through several years of their lives is a real treat. I’m sure you’ve heard of “cozy mysteries” but is “cozy romance” a thing? It should be, and this is a great example of that. Part of the appeal here is the small-town feel where almost everyone knows each other, and while they may move away, no one loses touch. This is both a safe harbor for some and a launching pad for others, and you’ll enjoy your visit there.
The author doesn’t shy away from real-life situations that everyone faces. The characters deal with tragic deaths, grief, and real-world situations like assault, addiction, and single motherhood. Since most of the main characters are just starting out in life, high-school crushes, loyalties, and disputes are still fresh, sometimes violently so. Since people are all up in everyone else’s business, keeping secrets is almost impossible, which can cause conflicts of its own. The author gives us a cast of unique, fully-realized characters with their own fears, hopes, and goals. She has a talent for dialogue, and by the end of the series, you’ll feel like you’ve known these people for years.
Though I’ve tried to avoid spoilers, my one criticism of the series is that it’s far too easy to see how these young romantics are going to pair off. The love triangle doesn’t quite connect on all three points, and sometimes feels forced. There are plenty of obstacles, though, with jealousy, behavior that seems stalker-ish, borderline sexual harassment, or actively trying to sabotage a relationship. The characters learn and grow throughout the books, using their high school and college experiences to emerge as adults ready to start lives, careers, and families of their own.
If you’re a fan of romantic stories with characters who feel so real that you’ll see yourself and your friends in them, you’ll enjoy the Clayton Falls series. Don’t miss the bonus chapter of an upcoming book at the end.
Pages: 260 | ISBN: 1479209139
Tags: 90210, alyssa rose ivy, amazon, amazon books, author, book, book review, books, clayton falls, college, cozy, derailed, ebook, ebooks, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, friend, kindle, love, mysteries, mystery, north carolina, novel, one tree hill, pretty little liars, publishing, reading, review, reviews, romance, short stories, stories, teenager, thriller, urban fantasy, veer, wrecked, writing, YA, young adult
Path of Jen is a political thriller following the harrowing journey of a young Iranian-American girl that’s kidnapped. Some events in the book were chillingly similar to real life events. Did you take any inspiration from real life when developing this book?
Current events certainly inspired my writing, and there was no shortage of material. We experienced the refugee crisis in Syria, the unprecedented growth of ISIS and all of their atrocities, and multiple attacks by radical Islamist across Europe and the US. I feel fortunate that the idea for this book came when it did, although in my heart I truly wish it wasn’t so relevant. This book lays bare a multitude of polarizing issues. On the surface there is the main issue of radical Islam and the very real threat it poses to the entire world. I do not apologize for presenting the truth as I see it on that matter. That alone is enough to inspire some, anger others, and turn off a whole bunch of potential readers. So be it. Underneath the issue of radical Islam lies the unquestionably connected and saddening issue of women’s rights. Horrific injustice is perpetrated against women under Sharia Law every day. That is one of the main reasons I chose to make Jen’s heritage Iranian, and Tehran as her place of abduction. Iran is a country with rich culture and history that only recently leapt backward to a near medieval stance on women’s rights and individual freedoms. Jen’s observations and experiences explore and expose the inconsistent message to young women that a male dominated Muslim culture whispers with a seductive smile.
Jen goes to Tehran on a family trip where she’s kidnapped and transported to Syria. I thought the details of the locations were fairly accurate. What experience do you have with Arab culture?
Many of the places and scenes in the book were taken from my own experiences as a soldier in Iraq. Suicide bombers, IEDs and Extremists were a near every day occurrence, and they instilled a heightened sense of awareness in me that I will never be able to let go of. While in Iraq, I visited the Iraqi monuments to the Iran-Iraq war near the Green Zone in Baghdad. That began my curiosity into Iranian culture and history. When I discovered the Islamic Revolution of 1979, I began reading on the subject of women’s rights. I found that some of the best advocates were women who live in, or have lived in, Iran, and their stories were heartbreaking. To effectively capture the other areas Jen was likely to visit, I turned to my laptop. I spent many hours reading travel blogs, browsing photos, and researching everyday life in Iran and Syria.
I enjoyed Jen’s character, she is intelligent, headstrong, and uses her wits to stay alive. What was your process in creating her character?
The idea for Jen came to me one day while I was quietly remembering one of the medics I served with in OIF2. She was visiting the bazaar inside the Green Zone, in October of 2014, when two suicide bombers blew themselves up, killing and injuring several Americans and Iraqi nationals. I wasn’t with her on that day, but I remember her describing the blood, carnage, and utter chaos. I noticed a subtle change come over her. She would never be the same, I was sure of it. One of the lessons we learned from Iraq and Afghanistan, was that we could never become complacent. As fast a we could devise a new armor or defense, the jihadists would devise a new way to defeat it. What would be more devastating than a suicide bomber? The answer was, combining the violence and terror of a suicide bomber with the madness and fear of a deadly viral outbreak. It’s difficult for a man to write from the perspective of a young woman, and I struggled with it at times. I posed questions to my own teenage daughters when I wasn’t sure if I was on the right track, and I utilized female proof readers. I also drew from my own experiences with women as a firearms instructor, Marine, Soldier, and trainer. I find that women are often quick to pick up the mechanics of firearms manipulation, and I crafted Jen to have that naturally intuitive characteristic. I decided that above all else, I wanted her to have integrity and personal courage, but I also wanted my own girls to think she was a badass.
What is one thing that you think that is misrepresented in the media about Arab culture?
I think westerners are under the misconception that Arab is synonymous with Muslim or Islam/Islamic. For some reason people confuse race, culture, and religion when talking about the middle east in general. There are many races and cultures in the middle east, and although Islam is the dominant religion, there are others including Christianity. That misconception is relatively harmless, though. The real misconception is the one portrayed every single day by the media. There is a very strong message being delivered to the world that Islam is strictly a religion of peace and to question that is wrong. Somehow, it is considered intolerant and unfair to point out the crimes committed against women, gays, and children under Islamic Law, but the same is not true for Christianity. A Christian who doesn’t want to bake a cake is a threat that must be dealt with, but a radical Muslim who kills a nightclub full of Americans because of their sexual orientation is only a problem because he was able to buy a gun.
What is one thing that you hope readers take away from Path of Jen?
I want the reader to know that having a personal relationship with God is not something to be ashamed of. I want them to know that the spirit of America is still alive and strong, and under new leadership we can truly be great again. In one sentence: it’s not what life throws at you that’s important, it’s how you handle it. Believe it or not, those three sentences are connected.
Kidnapped, sold, now running for her life. Jen is an American girl who struggles with her Iranian heritage. At sixteen she is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Follow her journey as she fights for her freedom, stands up for truth, and finds her faith. Filled with action, intrigue, and suspense, Path of Jen will get you fired up and tug at your heart all at once.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: action, adventure, amazon books, arab, author, author interview, baghdad, book, book review, books, christianity, daughter, ebook, ebooks, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, fighting, interview, isis, islam, islamic, oif, path of jen, publishing, reading, refugee, review, reviews, sidney wood, stories, syria, teenager, tehran, thriller, war, writing