Inside Out follows a young man and his friends as they see their dystopian world torn apart by Freedom Fighters and their government’s harsh reaction to them. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I began writing this novel over a decade ago – when I was twelve years old. I was quite an angsty teenager (I am now quite an angsty twenty-something!) I suppose the real genesis of this novel was asking the question “what’s the worst world I can imagine and what would the consequences be of that?” Worryingly, I think the premis has got closer to reality over time.
Zack is an interesting character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Inside Out has an ensemble cast – all dear to my heart – but Zack is one of my favourites! He has a very fierce protective streak in him and that gets more apparent as the story goes on. Without wishing to give too much away, that need to protect leads him to take some fairly extreme measures. Whether or not they’re sensible – I’ll leave the readers to decide!
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
One of the biggest themes I wanted to tackle was the destructive evil of prejudice. As a disabled woman, that’s something I’ve had to contend with all my life. It is such a pointless, baseless concept, and yet it ruins so many lives. I also wanted to tackle the fact that those who are in power are not always the best suited to it, and the lengths they will go to maintain their standing.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently running final checks on the sequel to Inside Out. Hopefully, it will be released by the end of this year. I am so excited for my lovely readers to experience it!
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Vanir, Warrior by Saul Falconer is an adventurous book for lovers of Norse Mythology. This book brings characters like Freya, Heimdall, and Baldur to life as they interact with the three main characters of the book: Zeke and his siblings, Martha and Elijah. Each has unique abilities that give them special strengths against their enemies. The story takes a little while to get going, but the writing is excellent and after the first few chapters I was fully invested in this riveting story.
In the beginning, we get to see each of the children in action as they all undertake a sort of exam; Martha and Elijah taking on level four, while Zeke takes on level six. This introduction to their powers and capabilities in battle helps to set the stage for the rest of the book as they struggle to fight off the Myrkvar and the Illska, and other enemies who have the ability to travel the wormholes and attack Zeke’s people.
This book cleverly merges aspects of fantasy with science fiction, weaving different types of advanced technology throughout the worlds of Norse Myths, including everything from simulations to hoverpods to holographic devices and more. The focus of the story is on a return to “the old world” to investigate an illness that is making the people of Longyearbyen sick and of the possibility of Vanir prisoners being held captive there. One of the best aspects of the book is the relationship between Zeke, Martha, and Elijah, and how their bond helps them overcome any obstacles they face. Falconer’s writing is strongest in his characterizations and the interactions between the large cast. While I enjoyed the characters, I felt that there are a lot of them, along with races, cultures, and locations to keep track of.
Vanir, Warrior is perfectly written for pre-teen and young adult readers who have an interest in Norse Mythology. This is a spellbinding epic fantasy with imaginative technology and a sense of adventure that permeates the novel.
Pages: 394 | ASIN: B07MY3KKRX
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My Aunt The Vampire, by Paul Bird, is the sequel to One Mad Rooster and is a lively collection of short stories that follow the hilarious and heartwarming events of one boy’s life. Within this humors collection for young teens, you’ll find him convinced his aunt is a vampire, battling haunted fireworks, and trying to outwit his English teacher.
Paul Bird does a great job of getting inside a teenager’s mind. It allowed me to connect with the protagonist because he felt authentic. It is that awkward age between childhood and adulthood where you can believe one thing, even when logic is rearing its head and telling you that your belief is wrong.
At the beginning of each chapter there is a picture that is associated with tit. They are cute pictures without being too childish and really brings life to these stories. Author Paul Bird also starts each chapter with a paragraph or two in the middle of the action and then goes back in time a little to help explain what’s going on. This can be a little disorientating at first but he does handle it well and everything within the story connects with that particular story.
While this is a collection of stories, all of the stories do have the unifying thread of having the same protagonist. It is a little difficult to keep track of when the events happen in the protagonist’s life, as I was not sure when these things were happening. But otherwise these were entertaining stories that felt grounded but still imaginative.
My Aunt The Vampire by Paul Bird is a well written collection of fun stories that will appeal to anyone looking for a lighthearted read with organically humorous situations.
Pages: 155 | ASIN: B07MY2B8PX
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Experiment A: Elimination by Nikki Haase is a prequel to the Experiment X trilogy (Sacrifice, Exposed and Revolt). Set in a cryptic lab somewhere in the United States. The story starts with Jack Cortex, the protagonist losing Alexie, the woman he loves. What follows is a thrilling story of more loss and torture and a lot of action as the enthralling storyline follows the shenanigans of Cortex and his friends Ryan, Matt and Liam. Constantly fed the image of the cruel world outside the lab, the Subjects find it hard to separate truth from lies. One by one, the weakest of the Subjects are ‘eliminated’, all in the name of creating a perfect soldier to protect a country that they’ve never seen. At least that’s what the Lab Coats say to justify the unthinkable torture and the ruthless killing, all in the name of science.
This is a vivid and gritty dystopian novel that dives straight into the action. Even without wasting much time in describing the setting at no point is the reader clueless. Haase hits you with one event after the other, and you never know who you’re going to lose next. What I really loved about the book was the perfect mix of action, emotion, and storyline. The author doesn’t go deep into descriptions, and instead gives you just enough for your imagination to run wild while keeping focus on the characters, ensuring this is a character focused drama above all else.
I finished the book in just a few days; although admittedly I’ve been a long time fan of the author and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. But I can now say that long time finds of the series should be VERY excited about this novel. Even though this is a prequel the concept of a hidden lab separate from the rest of the world and meant to save it still feels fresh. The story is reminiscent of the Maze Runner trilogy, with its dystopian feel and subtle commentary on society.
Experiment A: Elimination has an engaging plot and relentless action. Since this book is a prequel to the trilogy, anyone who hasn’t read the trilogy can still enjoy the book. This is a rousing science fiction novel that provides plenty of fan service, but also provides a standalone story that is equally as riveting as the original series.
Pages: 211 | ASIN: B09F6XJ6J9
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Like most dystopian science fiction novels, the world of Natalie Hibberd’s Inside Out feels closer to reality than it may seem. It tells the story of Zack McGregor and his gang of friends who live in a world divided by greed and hatred. They live in The Inside, a city that promises eternal safety and comfort – or so it seems. Lurking literally in The Outside are the Freedom Fighters, who will stop at nothing to destroy Zack’s beloved city and everything it stands for. Now The Inside government is taking desperate measures to maintain the calm, but it’s only a matter of time before everything implodes.
The writing of Inside Out is very conversational, proving that you don’t have to be flowery to tell a good story. Some might find it overly simplistic, but there are passages here and there that paint a lovely picture in such a small amount of words. Hibberd clearly knows what she’s doing with her sparse language. This minimalism also makes the novel an easy and thrilling read despite the heavy subject matter. You can read this in one afternoon yet still feel your heart pounding from start to finish. There are little details per chapter, so like a binge-able Netflix series, we’re always left asking, “What’s going to happen next?”
While I enjoyed the story, I felt that the world-building could have provided more depth and nuance. While the short chapters make for a quick, roller-coaster read, I wanted to spend more time exploring the characters to form a deeper connection to them. The pace sends the pages flying, but an additional page or two in moments where characters are experiencing emotional turmoil would have helped me make a connection with those characters.
The writing is beautiful – stunning, even, at times. Inside Out is an entertaining dystopian sci-fi novel that has the potential to stand out in a packed genre. If you are a fan of young adult science fiction stories then you will surely enjoy this eloquent and evocative page-turner.
Pages: 241 | ASIN: B081D1JQYY
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The Book of Thieves and the Joker’s Game follows a young man who discovers a magical new world after his father dies and is faced with the decision to follow his father’s legacy. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
There were actually two versions of the book. One version there was only “Earth,” or one world, and the second version had Earth and Mysthia. I decided to setup the story with two worlds to help isolate Abell from the norm further. Plus, it helped the reader learn and experience the new world together. With two worlds, it is more liberal freedom to be expanded upon, which makes for a better setting for a fantasy novel.
Abell is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Abell, as seen in the book, is destined for change. And not a good change. His character starts out very idealistic and passive, almost innocent. By the end of the book, you can see his character hit a wall. A switch is clicked.
Book of Thieves and the Joker’s Game is just the first book of the series. And in this book, you can see Abell’s childhood innocence. As the story continues, the reader will be able to see Abell change, and perhaps not for the best.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
There are multiple themes at play. Nature vs nurture easily, but also coming of age and good vs evil.
Abell’s natural character is quite noble and moralistic, partly because of how his father and Sally raised him. He was a good student, great kid, and well-rounded, always meaning well for others until his world changed. Even though Abell’s father did his best to shelter from the truth, and raised him as any loving family could, Abell is suddenly thrown into a world that his father left a stigma behind. A world scorched with the hatred of their family name, and it burned Abell’s innocence to ash. Even though Abell was bullied on Earth, it was never targeted at his identity, his family, and his entire existence.
The past of Abell’s father shifted the idea of good vs evil. Who is exactly evil in this story? Was it Abell’s father, and is it Abell now?
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The second book of the series, “Heirs,” will be released soon. Exact date? Not sure. I am quite excited to release it, the story follows Abell’s “clicked” personality.
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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
La Florida by James D. Snyder
My Hidden Fear by Luan Nguyen
Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information.
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Ruby’s Quest: The Mystery of the Singing Mountains by Holly Ruddock is book 2 in her fantasy series, The Light of Beathra Chronicles. It is an epic fantasy story that will transport you into Ruby’s world from the first page. The book is a well written young adult adventure novel, written for long time fans of the genre. From intriguing characters, a detailed magical world and fairies, Holly has touched on it all.
Our protagonist, Ruby, is a pink winged Gidgie (I imagine it as fairies) who has to go on a mystical quest to search for the singing mountains. This instance alone poses a lot of questions for the readers, keeping them engrossed in the story and always wondering what’s going to happen next. The story proceeds in continuation with book 1, The Warrior Arises. War causes trauma and we get to see these affects in book two. The soldiers develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and it is explored and revealed in some stirring ways. This is one of my favorite parts of the book because it gave this high fantasy story a grounded and realistic feel that made the characters and the world more relatable.
I loved how well we move from hard hitting battles scenes, to a touching love story, and then to a compelling magical mystery. It all combines with a unique literary flair and a fascinating villain who wants it all.
Written in a third person perspective, I thoroughly enjoyed how we get to explore the imaginative world that the author has created. But the story is a continuation of book one, so I would suggest reading that book before book two as it helps place events, gives you a connection to the characters, and really gives you an appreciation for the deep world building happening in this series. Even so, I would have appreciated a small organic refresher of the events in book one in this book so that I could jog my memory.
Ruby’s Quest is an enthralling epic fantasy story, complete with its own unique words, that continues to build the fantastic world and follow the riveting characters from book one.
Pages: 252 | ASIN: B08WJRGKVC
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