Neither Light Nor Dark follows Lily who has to reunite the suffering lands of Arcadia and abolish the rule of Reficul. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting story?
I honestly had a dream that I could not escape from. I sat down one night and poured it out into my laptop. Over time I got inspiration from everywhere- other books, movies, music.
Lily is an interesting and well developed character. What were some obstacles in the story that you felt were important to her character development?
I think finding out all of the lies about her former life and learning how to deal with her new future definitely helped make her into the girl that she becomes. This is more obvious in book two, The Darker Light.
I loved the fairytale-esque lore embedded in this world. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your world?
I love fairytales! C.S. Lewis’ The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was the first book that I remember falling in love with. His world definitely inspired me to go in that direction. The whole idea of us having a predetermined destiny was a big part of the story. I wanted the reader to ponder, “Do I have a choice?”
This is book one in the Beyond the Gates series. What can readers expect in book two of the series, The Darker Light?
Book two is full of surprises. So many things about the characters are revealed that you will find yourself wondering who to trust. Lily is taken back into Arcadia where she is faced with a past that she never knew existed. The journey is harsh but new friends are made and old ones are reunited. Book two is my favorite. I feel like lily really grows up in this one.
YA Fantasy fiction full of surprises. This is a story about a girl, the man she loves, the boy who stole her heart, and Reficul, the evil ruler that stands to ruin it all. Lily Channon gets caught up in a war only she has the power to stop. The only problem is she doesn’t know why or even how. Her quest for answers leads her on a journey through love, crazy, hard to swallow, painful betrayal, and has deadly consequences. Will she find her place? Will she be willing to give what is required of her? Does love really exist, or is EVERYONE a liar? Find out what happens in this exciting book.
What is it about high school that brings out the worst in people? The hormones, the pressure to know your future, the mind games? Probably all of the above. Zachary Ryan pens his first book in a series, High School Queens set at Johnson Prep, and complete with all the rich, narcissistic, angst filled teens that any drama queen could ask for. This story delves into a darker, edgier version of high school antics, with exhortation, blackmail, physical and emotional abuse. A One Tree Hill meets Lord of the Flies vibe.
High School Queens packs a deep emotional punch and the depth of the character’s issues are interesting and intriguing. The book tackles a myriad of issues: Alcoholism, eating disorders, self harm, family loyalty, abuse and a whole gamut of complex issues that face youth today. Zachary Ryan attributes the necessary attention to these issues with detail and heart equally. However, I felt that there was detail lacking in certain places? What does Johnson Prep look like? The picture of the story feels incomplete for the lack of setting.
Johnson Prep has a lack of diversity, which is not surprising, but the one Spanish character is poor and the one Indian character is trapped in a ultra traditional family. The cliche here is painful because the author has a clear knack for creating intriguing and well defined characters otherwise. Readers can relate to Andrew, Danielle, Aman and Delilah, root for them and become invested in their characters. The endless cattiness and shallowness by the Marked Queen starts as fun and entertaining but gets repetitive where I would have liked to see creative twists.
The climax of High School Queens is set against the back drop of prom, but the character’s stories don’t all end on the same note and there were some surprises that were developed and unveiled superbly. There is a cliffhanger that sets up for the continuation of Johnson Prep’s students but for next installment of High School Queens to match the high bar set here I expect to see more flavor, humor and twists.
Pages: 311 | ASIN: B07PXFZVLF
Neither Light Nor Dark is about the journey of a young girl, Lily, who unknowingly bears the weight of an immense prophecy. It is an immersive fantasy novel that takes us through the incredible lands of Arcadia. From her childhood, Lily’s own family has protected her from the secrets of a dark and tumultuous past. However, her destiny reveals itself soon enough. She has to reunite the suffering lands of Arcadia and abolish the rule of the loathsome Reficul. A ragtag group of friends follow her as they face troubles, misadventures, and battles.
This was an enjoyable and unique read because of the strange fairytale-like narration throughout. The descriptions of Arcadia and its elements were elaborate and fascinating. The characters and their dialogue appeared to be out of another era altogether. However, perhaps because of these anachronisms, the text was a bit dry in places. Nonetheless, the consistent tone and style were a refreshing break from contemporary reads.
The complex relationships between Henry, Calev, and Lily were also surprisingly well-navigated. I’m not the biggest fan of garish love triangles but I was able to perceive and accept the individual perspective of each character, which was refreshing. I was astonished at how quickly I was able to jump ship between characters without too many regrets. I was definitely rooting for some of the quirky personalities that were woven throughout the story.
From the beginning, the family dynamics in Lily’s world appear to play a big role in her life. The strained relationships between Lily and her grandmother was palpable from the beginning. It was clear that these dynamics and relationships were intricately crafted. However, at times, it was difficult to establish a connection with some of the characters. I think this was because the dialogue and style of the characters were a little less believable than I would prefer. This story does take place in an entirely different time and place, and it is not difficult to ascribe this issue to the nature of the story.
Neither Light Nor Dark is a fantastically enthralling read, and a perfect setup to a riveting fantasy series.
Pages: 234 | ASIN: B01LW35M4V
Having been homeschooled until now, Maeleigh is nervous about starting at her new high school. She knew things would be different, but there was no way to prepare her for Gearden. Nor was she prepared to hear his voice in her head. Born deaf, she hasn’t heard anyone’s voice clearly before so why now? And how?!
That’s not the only weird thing going on in town. There’s a whole other society living amongst the norm. And she’s not just thrust into it, he tells her she’s a part of it, too. If that wasn’t enough, she now has to deal with someone out to harm the people she’s come to call family. Only, there are still too many secrets for her to navigate all that’s happening and know who to trust.
Pheobe Douse, Secret Society for Special Abilities and Artefacts allows a view into the life of young Pheobe, a high school student whose tendency to be unusually distinct has her feeling like an outcast. After her grandmother dies, it leaves her even more unsure about herself. Her grandmother would always tell stories that seemed fantastical about her life and travels. Phoebe took those moments for granted and when she can no longer have them, she is left feeling guilty. When she receives a strange invitation to attend school in Scotland she accepts the offer with the approval of her parents. She has no close ties outside of her family and she hopes for an adventure like the ones her grandmother had lived.
She soon realizes that while she fits in more readily than she ever has before, this sense of belonging actually makes the new school, her new classmates and her surroundings pretty extraordinary. When she finally begins to accept the possibilities that come with being extraordinary in an extraordinary place, she finds herself torn between her loyalty to her new friends and her grandmother’s legacy. Pheobe has to figure out who she is able to trust before secret forces lead her on a path of no return.
It would be unsurprising if L. Samuels’ debut novel lands on the bestseller list. Any of the millions of Harry Potter fans would be a fan of Pheobe Douse and the well crafted, gifted characters L. Samuels brings to life. The origin of the main character is seeped in a legacy that is undeniably powerful but shrouded in mystery.
Every event and continuation was strategically laid out in a way that caused constant anticipation. Even so, at each moment of conflict, climax and revelation, there were still surprises. There were no moments of overwhelming unpredictability but the pace of events varied and provided an emotionally dynamic experience.
The least agreeable aspect of the book is that the reader is left wanting to know what happens next and in the world of storytelling, this kind of itch usually happens after a satisfying read. The best part is that a second installment is expected so the anticipation continues!
Pages: 348 | ISBN: 978-1-7322846-7-8
The Dream Defenders by Neal Denhartog is a young adult science fiction adventure story following Nolan Erling, a fourteen year old boy who has felt forgotten by his parents ever since his baby brother, Max, joined their family. When Nolan keeps waking up with a headache in the morning, he doesn’t suspect that the cause of his problems is his dreams. But Aeryn Sandman knows. She is a junior agent at the DREAM institute, and Nolan is her first official assignment. Her job turns into more than just a simple recruitment mission, however, after Nolan’s unchecked powers release two nightmares into the dreamstream. Suddenly, things turn deadly–because dreams can kill. Will Nolan and Aeryn succeed in protecting millions of innocent dreamers while they sleep?
This book had a unique premise and the writing style was engaging and kept my interest. The author’s descriptions of the actions taking place pulled me into the story. I enjoyed reading about the weird details of Nolan’s dreams and how he could control them and make things happen. There were several humorous parts, as Aeryn fumbled her first official assignment and failed to keep Nolan under control. I liked the descriptions of the whimsical and frightening dreamscapes, which painted a vivid picture of the setting. I loved the Wispes, Stan and Scranton. They were one of my favorite parts of the story.
I felt that the initial ‘reveal’ of the villain happened too soon. Or maybe it could have just been handled differently. Since it seemed as though I’d already learned the villain’s identity at one third of the way through the book, I felt that the story lost some of its momentum after that. Although it took me a little while to get excited about the story again, it did happen well before I got to the crazy twist at the end.
Although the ending was entertaining and thrilling it left me with many questions. I assume that this story is intended to be the first book in the series, and if that’s the case, I would definitely want to read the next book to find out what happens and learn all the answers to my lingering questions. Overall, this is an exceptional book with a unique premise that is guaranteed to entertain.
Pages: 318 | ASIN: B07S475R84
The Revelations at Black Corners by Steve Zimcosky is a fun and light-hearted read that will keep you on your toes. It opens with JT Curtis, a world-famous author who is invited on a popular talk show to discuss his newest bestseller. During the talk show, JT reveals the strange incident that left him with an uncanny ability to write. An old couple watching at home find themselves shocked at the strange connection between the book and their family. In the rush to get things cleared up, everything gets even more dramatic and muddled up than before. A series of adventures ensue that introduce us to a psychic, parapsychologist, and even a spirit!
Zimcosky knows how to keep an audience interested. The sections of the book are quick and well-structured. Even though you will be immediately invested in the plot, you will realize that in no time at all you have flipped through all the pages! The characters are fresh and contribute to the plot in unique ways. It is not a super heavy read, so you can breeze through it in waiting rooms or during a commute.
One of the cooler aspects of this book are the wonderful illustrations that are dotted throughout the text. They are eye-catching and align perfectly with the plot.
The book ends in a glorious, quick-witted punch that’ll definitely leave you with an aha! moment. The Revelations at Black Corners is an engrossing and lightweight read that will leave you refreshed.
Pages: 47 | ASIN: B07T2DRL6Z
Choker follows Mark as he grapples with the pressures of high school along with the pressures of sports and family. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?
I was always fascinated with the idea of “choking” in sports or feeling the pressure. It can be extremely burdensome for any athlete. I set out to write an authentic sports book that captures the true feelings and thoughts of young athletes.
Mark is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character?
I wanted to portray a young athlete who comes face to face with his worst nightmare while playing the sport he loves but eventually overcomes the stigma through perseverance and summoning the courage to be different. As a biracial boy in a suburban high school Mark feels like an outcast at school for several reasons, and like so many of us, he just wants to fit in.
There were some very specific sports details in this book that made this book realistic. Did you use anything from your own life in this book?
Hah! Some people jokingly wonder if it’s an autobiography. I did miss a free throw once that may have cost my high school team a game, and I was broken up for weeks. No athlete wants to be known as someone who buckles under pressure. But my background as both a high school and college athlete, plus years as a sportswriter, helped lend authenticity to the novel.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
Nothing planned right now. “Choker” is my second book, following national-award winner “Out of Bounds.” I’m trying to build my brand as a YA sports author.
Be careful of what you wish for. Sixteen-year-old Mark Chamberlain always dreamed of playing in a state championship basketball game. But he never envisioned a nightmare performance that would bring utter humiliation and scar him as an outcast at school.
Classmates begin to call Mark “Wilt” Chamberlain because he melts under pressure.To top it off, Mark’s father won’t come to his games. When it feels as though the world is against him, with the support of a beautiful girl, Mark tries to summon the inner strength and courage to be different — just like legendary basketball star Wilt Chamberlain.
Children of the Elements follows four children as they discover magical abilities only revealed when they come together. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this novel?
I really don’t know where the idea came from. I was super into Harry Potter, and I was seriously just laying on the floor one day and thought of it. When I finally started writing, I had been thinking about it for like two years and slowly building up a story line.
I felt that the characters were well developed and changed with the story. What were some driving ideals behind their characters?
Well, Brenna was the most like me, so she was easy. Dimitri was a lot like my “best friend” at the time. Adara is sort of the person I think I am growing into (my mom totally says so!), and Wyndham is kinda me when I am around new people!
What has been a motivating factor for you to become a young writer and how has your family supported you?
My mom published books that were doing really well, and I was like, “I wanna do that!” Then my mom gave me a copy of her friend’s daughter’s book (The Fairies of Waterfall Island by Emma Sumner who was only eight at the time), and I knew I could do it too!
But my mom kept on me because I get distracted easily. She’s a book editor and owns an editing company, so she helped me plot out the milestones and character arches and helped a LOT with vocabulary and avoiding repetition–like everything ending with “said.” Cuz I do that a lot…
This is book one in a series. Where will book two take readers and when will it be available?
Well, it’s gonna show us life in the Realm of the Gods and why it’s WAY more boring when everything is perfect! Dimitri is the main character in Book Two instead of Brenna. There will also be four new elemental characters (hint: rhymes with schragons!). And there will actually be four books total. With each Devins kid as the protagonist. I finished the rough draft already, but now it’s going through my mom before it goes through the rest of her editing team. Editing Book One took almost six months, so I guess I will be lucky to get it out by the end of this summer (2019), but that’s the goal. I hope to have Books Three and Four done by the end of 2019 too.
When twin girls, Brenna and Adara, move from posh Victorian England to a humble farmhouse in America, they quickly notice that all is no longer as it seems…
While Brenna has always had an affinity for water and Adara has always loved fire, the girls now discover they have some sort of CONTROL over these elements as well!
They learn how true this is when they meet another set of twins—boys named Dimitri and Wyndham who also live in their new town.
When the four children get together magical things start to happen!
But they aren’t the only ones who know about this power now…
Something sinister has been lurking in the town waiting for the moment the four children finally activate their newfound abilities.
You’ll love this magical steampunk fantasy by a child-author because of the lovable characters and non-stop action!
Choker by Bob Moseley is the “coming of age” tale of basketball-obsessed Mark Chamberlain who, in the course on one year went from being the black sheep of his high-school’s basketball team to team captain.
A Clifton High student, Mark Chamberlain misses an all-important throw in the final seconds of a game, which costs his team a championship victory and gets him the nickname “the choker”. However, with help from coach Antonelli and his new girlfriend Su Metha, Mark is slowly getting over the setback and dedicates himself to training hard for the next season. His love for basketball helps him deal with heartache and pain and, after becoming team co-captain, he gets better and better at the game and ends up leading his teammates to victory.
This Young Adult book deals with a lot of issues that are important for teenagers nowadays: race issues, balancing school work and sports, bullying along with social media bullying, and dealing with loss, but also touches on the positive aspects of life, like the book hero’s first love, overcoming obstacles, bettering yourself through hard work. It definitely holds a lot of lessons for the reader, and teenagers and young adults will relate to the characters. The writing is alert and quite visual, and keeps the reader connected to the characters and interested in their evolution. Some of the pages are quite moving, such as the chapters that describe the death and the funeral of Mark’s father. I liked Mark’s character development, but I felt that the other characters were black and white, they were either good or bad. I would of appreciated more nuance.
The abundance of details related to basketball was a little overwhelming at times, for instance the descriptions of some of Mark’s games, a lot of information about game strategies and techniques, or about famous players. Any avid fan of basketball will appreciate the interesting facts and minute by minute break down of the games. This is an engaging and thought provoking coming of age basketball story that is sure to appeal to teens and sports fans.
Pages: 193 | ASIN: B07GX8B4T2
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