Thursday, August 30, 2012

MIGHTY PETE AND THE SCHOOL BULLY SCHOOL - Review

It's time for a new review! This one was really funny and it's really short. So if you feel like it give it a chance.
 
 
 
MIGHTY PETE AND THE SCHOOL BULLY SCHOOL     
  by  Pat Anderson.
 
 

From Goodreads:
Pete Patterson's school has got rid of all the bullies. Or has it? There is a new kind of bully around. Only Pete's newly-found super powers, which come from a toy soldier's helmet, make him brave enough to stand up to them. But is the problem bigger than everyone thought?

 
*****
My review:

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You don’t need more than 10.000 words to send a great message. And Mighty Pete and The School Bully School is the perfect example of that.

I would recommend this book to kids and also for people of all ages, because it has an important lesson. And more important is easy to understand and very funny.

Here we got Pete a nine-year-old who has been bullied by a classmate and his gang. Bullying is a topic we all know and some have to deal with. Is really important to take the lessons that this book have and spread the voice.

After her mother finds a helmet which her aunt gave to him everything changes. In a few chapters we see Pete become a superhero. Something every child dreams once in a while.

This book shows us that we all have the power in us to change our situation; we only have to find the strength inside us and ask for help. It’s alright to ask for help and it shouldn’t ashamed us.

Pete finds that he can beat anybody because he has all the powers he needs and he can help others by speaking out. Bullies have to be reported.

As a future teacher is important for me to read this kind of books. And no matter if you are also a teacher, a mother, a father, an aunt, an uncle, a brother or sister, or a friend, you have to be attent for any signs of bullying.

I loved this book is funny, short, cleaver, and very enjoyable.

FIND IT ON:

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Counterfeit Love - Review

It's time for a new review. I won this one a few months in a giveaway but I don't know why I hadn't read it yet!
But last Friday I was really bored at my Sociology class and I only had this book on my reader (on my phone) so I decided to give it a try. It only took me two days to read it. Not only becuase is a short book but also because is really funny and entertaining.




COUNTERFEIT LOVE by ELYSA HENDRICKS.


From Goodreads:
Ten years ago, in a failed attempt to save his marriage, Jared Blake left his hometown. Now he’s widowed, back in town to raise his young daughter and return to his true calling – teaching. The last thing he needs or wants is his attraction to his student - high school senior, Maggie McCade.

Maggie McCade is in high school hell. To ferret out a computer hacker and further her dream of starting a security firm, 29-year-old Maggie goes undercover as a student. The last thing she needs or wants is to fall in love with her prime suspect – her teacher, Jared Blake.




MY REVIEW.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Counterfeit Love is one of those loving, funny and easy to read novels. If you mix a sexy guy and a girl with a hard past, pretending to be someone else you surely will get a great love story.

Maggie is a security investigator searching for a hacker that is making everyone believe that she is a teenage girl. She soon feels attracted to her Math teacher. And who wouldn’t? He is a thirty-two-year-old man, dark haired, sexy, funny and the loving father of a little girl.

They both have things in their past which they would prefer to maintain in the dark. But like always the truth finds a way out. And in the meantime the story keeps moving.

Between getting to know the real Jared, Maggie tries to discover the real guilty and not to get too involve in Jared’s life. However she finds it hard not to love him and he is also constantly fighting whit his feelings. The relationship between them evolves naturally and decisions have to be made.

This book is super-fast and if you enjoy romance as much as I do, you are going to love this book. It flows at the expected rate and the characters confronted everything in a real way. With funny dialogues, and two well-developed characters this books is a must for all the romance lovers.


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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Divergent - New Review

Happy Sunday :)
Probably half of the reading world has already read Divergent but I had it on my TBR list for a while. As part of a challenge on a Goodreads group someone pick it for me. So I read it... and IT'S AMAZING. Now I can't wait to read the sequel.


DIVERGENT by VERONICA ROTH.

From Goodreads:

In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.






MY REVIEW.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Divergent is one of those books you can’t put down. I don’t know why I hadn’t read it before.

There are many great things in this book such as a simple and clever explanation to why the society is divided into factions, a kick-ass leading lady, a sexy-brave-intelligent-mysterious guy and a lot of action. But the best part of the story is the message it sends. We can try as much as we want to be perfect, to prevent the evil inside us to take control, we can even dream about creating a perfect and pacific world. However, the truth is that we can’t tell people what to do, is in our nature to go against the rules. Humans can’t be divided into factions because we are more than just one attribute, we can be honest, peaceful, braves, wise,selfless all at once.

Divergent present us Tris (former know as Beatrice), a sixteen-year-old who has to choose which faction she wants to live. As expected she doesn’t choose her faction. While we see her immersing herself in a society in which the most important is to face your fears and not let them control you.

Being a YA dystopia the book never lacks friendship, romance, bad guys, and self-discovery. Getting
to know yourself and embrace who you are is the best thing Tris learnt through the book.

Overall is an intelligent dystopia that drags us in a world of appearances and a divided human kind. A good start for a trilogy -one that has a lot of potential to be one of the best out there.

There’s only one thing I didn’t like and is the fact that it was too obvious who FOUR really was. Maybe it was just me, but from the beginning I knew his true identity.

*****

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Tower (Deck of Lies #2) - Review

Jade Varden did it again!
Now with the second book in the Deck of Lies triology, Rain's life only becomes more and more turbid, more tangled, more mysterious. It's really an excelent sequel. :)
I will try to make my review spoilers free but because it's the second book you may have to read the first one to understand a lot of things!

You can see my review for the first book HERE.
Now I have wait to read the third book.


From Goodreads:
Death brings some families closer, but it’s ripped mine apart. I wanted to convince the police that they had the wrong suspect...but I never expected them to start suspecting me. Now, I have no choice but to keep searching for the truth, even if all my relationships fall to pieces around me.
Someone is trying to make me look guilty. I never thought my mission to prove my own innocence would lead me to more family secrets. I thought I had already discovered the truth about myself. But every answer raises more questions, and everything I think I know is about to change...again.
I have to find the truth, no matter how much it hurts -- before I get charged with murder.


*****

MY REVIEW.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not again! One more time the ending left me waiting for more. The Tower is the perfect sequel to a great story and it really didn’t disappoint me. Jade Varden has created another EXCELLENT book and really deserves a round of applauses.

This series only keeps proving my point -we are who we are because of the choices we made. Every time we say, do, think or see something, we are lead to a choice, one that not only affects us but all the people around us as well.

In this book we see Rain still struggling to adjust to her new life and everything that comes with it. She’s still learning who is she supposed to be and what others expect of her. But a murder keeps her in the eye of the storm. Our leading lady hasn’t discovered all the secrets yet and she might not be ready for what is to come.

Rain is becoming a strong woman and we continue seeing her evolution. She is true to herself through the whole deal and maintains the essence we saw in the first book.

Some of the characters are showing their true faces, we finally see the real Owen. We see her making alliances with some unthinkable people.

The story surprised me on every page, it keeps revealing secrets, lies, and more of the past. And what is most important along the story we have glances of the future, some lines lets us see how things will work out.

There were many fragments that I loved. Not only because I think that like his predecessor is very well written, The Tower has minor thoughts worth reading. Like the fact that sometimes we seek truth, justice, thinking that will make us free and help us move forward. But we can be wrong, because the truth we find only sinks us deeper.

It’s really an amazing book, with drama, mystery, friendship, self-discovery, redemption and one of my favorite characters.



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Monday, August 20, 2012

Elizabeth Guizzetti - Interview

Hi, today I bring you an interview with the author of Other Systems. I love doing interviews and this one is really interesting :)

Elizabeth Guizzetti is the mind behind the sci-fi novel Other Systems. A book really worth reading that tells the story of Abby.
You can see my review HERE.






THE INTERVIEW!

Me: What inspired you to write Other Systems?
Elizabeth: First let me allow anyone unfamiliar with my work to know I have been writing and illustrating indie comics (Faminelands, Out for Souls&Cookies, and Lure) for the past five years with Maria Masterson.
Maria needed family time and we were having some plot/character arc issues with Faminelands#3—but the concept for Other Systems really hit me when I was out walking the dogs. A young Earth woman goes to another planet and realizes she has become a slave. However, due to her intelligence, she will escape and become a ship’s captain while she rescues her siblings also somewhere lost on this planet. (Obviously this isn’t the final story.)
That very night, I saw an article about young, uneducated girls from India’s rural areas traveling into cities with the expectation that they are going to get factory jobs only to end up working as sex slaves. Suddenly, I knew the how Abby got caught up in all of this.
Then I had another idea—an idea that I was playing with in Faminelands but got cut out of the plot. I knew the breeding laws were more expansive than just the bonded Earthlings. There would be more species than Homo sapiens and Homo kiposi. Those other species would be sterilized due to their genetics.

ME: How long took you to write it?
Elizabeth: Nine months to write the first five drafts, then a few months to sell the manuscript, and nine months to publications.

ME: Was it hard to include all the science facts?
Elizabeth: Actually I was having so much fun with the science, I wanted to add more, but an author must serve the story first and foremost. I spent about three months researching, prior to writing the novel, plus I looked up plants and sea organisms as needed. I began by researching the Kepler Missions. Then spent time finding G-type stars within 100 light years of Earth. Then I focused on ship engineering and what astronauts actually go through during space travel.

ME: Were you always a sci-fi fan?
Elizabeth: Yes, I am a sci-fi fan. Honestly I love all speculative fiction (fantasy, horror and science fiction.) I love books and movies that take me to another world.

ME: Some of the things that Abby has to live are really intense. How was to write about that?
Elizabeth: Writing (and editing) Abby’s forced breeding scene and confinement was very difficult. In my mind Abby’s rape was integral to the plot, and in order to write it, I had to focus on what was important about it such as the clinical nature, how she was dehumanized and the pain Abby felt. I wanted the reader to experience the horror of what she went through.

ME: The crew at the Revelation is really open-minded and has a different way of seeing life, how was to write about it? Why you decided to described them that way?
Elizabeth: Once I decided that Abby’s life was confining on Earth due to the lack of antibiotics and over population, and of course she was confined. I just did the opposite with the Revelation and the rest of the fleet. Due to the importance of each individual on the ship as well as the time spent in the black, the fleet would have to believe in personal freedom as a basic tenant of their society.
I don't want to insult anyone but if you look at many of the rules in Leviticus, you will see that they were written to keep people healthy before the days of refrigeration and DNA modeling. (People who read closely with notice that the single religious group on Kipos has a higher life expectancy due to the fact they follow many of the ancient tenants of their faith.) Since the fleet has vast medical knowledge and high technology things there are no sexual transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancies. So yes they are open minded. They truly believe as long as all parties are consenting adults and don't hurt anyone else, do what you want. As she was both a minor and did not give her consent, Abby's rape was a horrific crime to them.
My other emphasis was making the scientists act like scientists. It is a pet peeve of mine when I see people who are supposed to be intelligent acting stupid. So I tried very hard to make the crew of the Revelation and Discovery to act like scientists on a survey mission. Yes, that means they spend a lot of time collecting samples, just like our own astronauts. That also means sometimes they have to run away from danger!

ME: Did you inspire in any real person for some of the characters?
Elizabeth: Not exactly, but I do pull out snippets of people’s lives and stick them in the book. I have two sisters and a close group of girl friends—Abby’s pregnancy symptoms are an amalgamation of what they went through.
On a more serious note, I did know a rape victim who acted as Abby thinks towards the men in her life. The young woman just wanted to feel safe. She feared intimacy yet still yearned for it. She blamed herself for what happened. From the reviews so far, this definitely has been one of the reasons people have been uncomfortable with the novel.
When I was in my fairly uncomplicated adolescence, I had crushes on half the boys in my high school, just like Abby crushes on some of the men in her life. Whether heterosexual women want to admit it or not, we DO sexualize men at least in our heads just like Abby does. So she thinks about sex, however, and more importantly, after Abby escapes, she also thinks about flight lessons, her cg tutors, and her job. Sometimes she has to figure out what she is going to make for dinner—just like everyone!

ME: Can you relate to Abby at some point?
Elizabeth: Unfortunately, yes. As I said above, some of Abby’s romantic feelings definitely mimicked my own adolescence. I identify with all the characters at one point or another during the writing of a novel. By the second draft, all the primary and secondary characters start speaking to me even if they are not a point of view character. Mark changed his whole sub-plot. I talk to them and ask them how they would deal with what's going on in the scene. I realize I probably sound crazy saying this.

ME: Would you like to go to another planet?
Elizabeth: Sure, but we are in the beginning steps of space travel and I am in my 30’s, so it’s likely I will be Earthbound for the rest of my life. If it were a one-way trip, I would never leave my husband. I will say I am excited to see space travel opportunities that we might discover if we began a colony on Luna or Mars.
We know we can make it to the moon with today’s technology. Imagine what a vacation that would be.

ME: Are you planning to write more about Abby's adventures? What's your next project?
Elizabeth:  I am not sure if I will write more about Abby, but I have a skeleton draft for another novel set in the Other Systems universe with different characters about the people who stayed on Earth. Honestly, there has been a few people who told me: they need to know more about Abby, Helen and Harden’s lives, but I just don’t know what the plot will be yet. 
The latest Faminelands graphic novel Book 3: Mareton’s Curse is in post production and will release March 2013.
My next graphic novel is Unintentional Colonists that is about the colonization of Europa. It is slated to be released spring of 2014.
My next written novel which has the working title of The Martlet which is about four assassins who play with necromancy on the side. This has no release date yet.



Elizabeth thanks for such a fun interview! Hope to hear soon from you :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

THE SHEOL - New review

THE SHEOL (The Wanderer Trilogy #1) by Mia Hoddell    

From Goodreads:

Being a trained killer, Kala can handle most things the world throws at her. However, when she murders her fiance, Kala's life is thrown into chaos. Forced to leave everything behind, she runs from city to city, in fear of her psychotic boss who is seeking her death. If that wasn't enough, she also has to cope with the re-appearance of her dead fiance who is struggling to keep a hold on his sanity as he strives for revenge.



MY REVIEW:

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Sheol is an interesting story that presents some original characters and quite a different plot. With some highs and lows is a fast read that may be interesting for paranormal lovers.

Kala has lived her life being a killer for a company that has raised her after being abandoned by her parents. After being in conflict between whom she is and what does for living, we found her trying to escape her past. (At first I wasn't sure about her age but luckily that fact was clarified at some point of the story).

The story moves really fast because is a really short book and it’s full of action. There’s a lot of blood, shooting and dead involved. It’s a good piece of action and I could almost picture it like a movie.

Kala is a different character, a really interesting type of girl and I love the fact that she stayed true to herself almost for the entire book. She is a kick-ass and it’s not afraid of doing what it takes to stay alive.

A couple things I didn’t like: the fact that the relationship between Kala and Chris is not really developed. I would like to know more about their previous time together and get to know how they met each other. Maybe in the next book we found out more. And some of Kala’s attitudes were annoying. I don’t want to spoil nothing but I expected a different reaction of her when she found out certain things.

The paranormal part of the story is simple and easy to understand and I hope to know more about it in the next books. Is something worth expecting for the next of the trilogy.





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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jennifer Ford - New Interview

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing the author of THE WAKING DREAM. As part of her blog tour Jennifer has been kind enough for taking the time to answer all my questions.

You can check my review about her book HERE.
And also you can participate for a SIGNED PAPERBACK no matter where in the world you are. Just go HERE.

About Jennifer.
Jennifer Ford was born and raised in a small town in Massachusetts. She currently resides in sunny southern Florida. She lives with her cats, of which she says; “They are possessed little terrors at times, absolute darlings at others, and an endless source of entertainment. Only another cat person would understand.”

*****
THE INTERVIEW.

ME: What is your book about?
Jennifer: My book centers around a pair of cities that are cut off from the rest of the world in a massive desert, but the residents have come to terms with their isolation. Illamar is a model city, where people prosper and it is clean and safe. Rheamyre is in chaos, controlled by dangerous gangs.
Overnight, the gangs in Rheamyre are overrun, and a mysterious stranger begins assuming control of the city.

ME: Why did you decide to write it?
Jennifer: I am very interested in ancient history, and I spend a lot of time reading about ancient times and lost civilizations, and how climates in regions have altered over time. I have also always been a huge fan of fantasy and Sci-Fi. I started mixing elements of the two things together, and I was immediately struck with the idea of the lost civilization still being alive, just forgotten. The imagery that came to mind was so powerful, I just had to write it down. As I went further into it and discovered all the characters, it became a real world for me. And I think Dante and Kerran have a valid voice that resonates with a lot of people today.

ME: I read that you love ancient history. Did you get inspired by some historical fact inparticular?
Jennifer: I was inspired by the way ancient cities are buried- either in sand or by the jungle- there is actually an ancient city in Egypt that is literally covered by a modern city. Ruins are under the feet and cars of people every day. That imagery stuck with me.

ME: How did you get your book published?
Jennifer: I knew I wanted to self-publish my book. After doing a lot of research, it seemed the easiest way, since if you are an unknown author you’re chances of getting published via a traditional publishing company get lower by the day. Plus, with self publishing I didn’t have to worry about an editor wanting to alter my story. I found that Outskirts Press was ranked among the best publishing houses to use, and the best overall for the cost, and I haven’t looked back since.

ME: What types of readers will be interested in your book?
Jennifer: Anyone who enjoys the Fantasy/Science Fiction genre would enjoy it; but beyond that, anyone who enjoys a well-crafted story. If you are a person that enjoys to read, then you will definitely enjoy my book. It follows a non-conventional path that should intrigue even the most experienced fantasy, Sci-Fi, mystery, or fiction reader.

ME: I loved thecharacters names; some of them are very beautiful. What was your inspiration for them?
Jennifer: Names are something I take very seriously. A name has to fit each character or it throws the flow and feeling of the story off. It took me several days to find all the right names for this book. The names for the Desert Tribes were inspired by Native American names because they fit the characters the best.

ME: Did youget inspired by any real person to create the characters?
Jennifer: None of these characters were inspired by real people. They were drawn from ideas and the needs of the story itself.

ME: It may seem along book, but did you have to cut some parts?
Jennifer: I did cut out several parts that I had intended to be a part of the story. I also intended for this story to be one book; but I found there was too much left to tell, so I had to break it into two parts. I didn't want to rush the rest of the story, and the only way to do it justice was to break it into another book.

ME: It was amazing to read how Kerran deals with the changes in his life. How was writing about that?
Jennifer: It was fun, and it was challenging at times to keep it realistic. I tried to base Kerran's reactions on reaction patterns I have seen with men in my life (family and friends), and I used all those men as examples for how Kerran should react.

ME: The magic is one of the best ingredients in the story. Did you have a lot of work deciding how to mix this with the rest?
Jennifer: I knew the fundamentals of the magic from the beginning, but it took a few rewrites to get it blended into the story properly. I ended up rewriting several chapters more than once to get the right level of magic working the way I wanted.

ME: The best part of the book is things are revealed page by page, you never know what is next.  Did you keep notes or something to know what to write first and what later?
Jennifer: I have a virtual notebook that is full of my notes. I had to keep notes on people, places, events, the language of the Desert People, everything. I wrote it all down so I could keep everything consistent. I also drew a map of the two cities and stuck it on my wall while I was writing. I had a basic timeline that I also had up on my wall. Sometimes I had to change the timeline to fit what was developing with the characters, but it all worked out well in the end.

ME: Where is your favorite place to write?
Jennifer: My favorite place to write is sitting out on the patio in my backyard. The quiet serenity inspires me.

ME: How long took you to write the book?
Jennifer: It took me a little over a year; and I wrote the first draft in pieces... a few chapters here, then nothing for a while, and then a few more chapters. But once it was done, I did the final draft in just two months.

ME: Did you ever get stuck?
Jennifer: I would sometimes get to a point where I just wasn't feeling where the story needed to go, so I would stop until the next day. A short break was all I ever needed. Several key points of the book were so clear they were easy to write, and others I had to figure out as I got to them. I tried to let the characters decided what was going to happen based on their personalities.

ME: Can you tell us what will be the second book about?
Jennifer: The sequel picks up a couple days after the end of The Waking Dream. I don't want to say too much and spoil it; but I will say that it is not a fairy tale. Any happiness has to be fought for. There is more magic, and a lot of facing consequences...for all the main characters.


THANKS JENNIFER FOR ANSWERING MY QUESTIONS :)


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Other Systems - New Review

A new review!
I had never read this kind of sci-fi before, but I really liked. It was a lot more than I expected.


OTHER SYSTEMS by Elizabeth Guizzetti.

From Goodreads:
Ten large ships race toward Earth, broadcasting in every language: "Brothers and sisters, we come in peace and in need. We have found our way home." The fear of a coming invasion begins the worldwide riots of 3062.
Yet, not all Earthlings fear attack. The newcomers, long lost descendants of Earth, speak of a paradise ninety-four light years away. Kipos is a land of plenty where there has never been hunger, murder, or war. However, they need more healthy young immigrants for the colony to thrive.
Many accept their offer to be tested. After assessment, Abby Boyd Lei is among the chosen. She leaves the protection of her family with dreams of higher education, a good job, and a kind-hearted spouse.
Will Kipos be everything she imagined? Abby is about to discover the cost of utopia.


*****
MY REVIEW:

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not a sci-fi fan but if you would say that based only on one book I could say that I love that genre. Other Systems present an original story, that never goes according to what you think should happen.

Other Systems is the story of Abby, a young girl living in a future Earth trying to live according to what is expected. Things change when descendants from people that was sent out in space returns with the promise of a better world full of opportunities.

What would you do if someone offers you the opportunity of getting to know another planet? As Ally I would go without second thoughts. But everything comes with a price and as result everything in Ally’s life change.

Kipos is the name of the new Planet and since the moment she arrives is obvious something isn’t right. And from that point on the book is AMAZING.

The space and all the planets are described in detail and even a person like me that doesn’t know nothing about it, can picture everything and you almost feel the same excitement that Abby is feeling. The creatures, the landings, everything is breathtaking. It was like seen a movie or even as being inside a spaceship.

The best part of the book is the characters. They are well written, amazingly described and some of them are really cute.

Abby is probably one of the best characters I had the lucky to read about. She has to deal so much and in so little time that it’s incredible the way she gets through everything without giving up. At times I almost cry because of what she was living and I nearly punch at my computer :).

The story never lack emotion, because between the travelling through space, the crew on the revelation and Abby’s mind you are always reading something new and having fun reading.
I’m so glad about how it ended, I’m only going to say that I couldn’t have think in a better ending. It’s truly an amazing book.


*****
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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Interview to Bryan K. Johnson author of Yield.

Yield is the first novel of Bryan K. Johnson and as part of the promo he has kindly offered me an interview! Yield will be released Tomorrow (AUGUST 14TH).
Check out the amazing description, the great interview and... you can watch the trailers at the end of this post!  It really looks like a good read :)

ABOUT THE BOOK.

FROM GOODREADS:
Ex-fire chief Devin Bane rises above the thick clouds for an interview in Seattle and the promise of a better life. Packing up his carry-on items for their descent into the city, Devin is blinded by a distant flash, followed by the screams and chaos of a crash landing.
Outside the plane's wreckage, a nightmare surrounds him. Seattle's iconic skyline is gone.
Searching for answers as he flees through the ruins, Devin and a handful of survivors are surrounded by the most primitive side of human nature. Plunged into the darkness of a broken society, their tattered souls are each tested by the horrors they face. Even if Devin can escape the city, a far worse danger now blocks his path back home . . . back to his family and the dawning of a changed world.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR.

Bryan K. Johnson graduated from the University of Liverpool with an MBA in Marketing, and also holds undergraduate degrees in Advertising and Graphic Design. He's worked as a Creative Director within the television industry for over a decade, winning several Emmy, Addy, and Telly Awards throughout his career. He currently lives in Oregon with his wife and two children. Yield is his first novel, and book one of the Armageddia Series.




THE INTERVIEW.

Me: I read that a flight from Tucson to Bend inspired you to write Yield, were you inspired by something else?
Bryan: Working in the media, I'm exposed daily to the headlines of rising global tensions and conflict more often than most. The idea of a world war in the nuclear age just seemed so scary and possible that I felt compelled to write about it. At the time I started Yield, America was invoolved in multiple wars on multiple fronts, seeming to have enemies every which way we turned. I didn't want my novel to be too political, but I just started to wonder what would happen if other countries, decided to launch their own preemptice strikes, as we had done fearing America' safety. I thought that descent from the relative normality of today into dark and savage new world would make for an absolutely riveting story. 

Me: Was it easy to imagine an apocalyptical world?
B: Pieces of it were. I'm a very visual person. I love drawing, painting, and have twelve-plus years of experience inside the television industry directing and producing. That visual sense I think translates into my writing. I'm able to see the details of my scenes and characters very clearly, even a chaotic and apocalyptic world like Yield's. I try to set up each chapter and scene for my readers as a director would, with establishing shots, cutaways, and intense action sequences. That creative background gets channeled when I write in sometimes very interesting ways.  

Below is a digital sketch I did on my iPad of the devastated Seattle horizon. I also sketched out some of Yield's main characters before writing, which helped me get a better feel for them. You can check all of those out at: http://www.armageddia.com/Artwork.html
Me: While you were writing, did you ever find yourself stuck?
B: I think everyone gets stuck from time to time. Some days the words are flowing and it's all I can do to keep up with them. Other days, they can't be beaten out of me with a sledge hammer. If I'm stumped, I'll jump to a different part of the story or take a step back and try to look from a more macro perspective. Is it a local issue or is there a broader plot, character, or flow problem that needs addressing? Looking a page or two ahead of where I'm blocked and working down from there I also find helpful because it reorients me back to the broader story and helps to show the problem area in context.

Me: Did you use any real situation or real fact as a guide in your book?
B: I integrated some contemporary news headlines into the narrative to give it a greater sense of relevance and realism. Aside from that, I really wanted to take the story down a very personal and dramatic roadone that was uniquely gripping and terrifyingly real. Everything is just a step or two past where we are now. I love science fiction and fantasy, but didn't want Yield to have that fantastical and unbelievable quality to it. I wanted the story to feel horrifyingly possible in every way.

Me: What would you do if you have to face a situation like the one in your book?
B: That's a great question! I honestly don't know. No one really can until they're thrown into such a life-threatening and chaotic scenario. We'd all like to think that we would be the heroic ones, helping others and holding fast to our morals. One of the most honest and interesting aspects of Yield I feel is the struggle of internal demons and doubt inside all of the story's characters. Heroism comes at a cost, either to yourself or those you care about. Yield's very flawed and sometimes unwilling protagonist, Devin Bane, runs up against that time and time again, trying to come to grips with his own instincts to protect and care for those around him, but also knowing that his own family may be suffering and in desperate need miles away. That is such a difficult choice to make, but a very real one with irreversible implications either way.

Me: It took six years for Yield to be released, what were your feelings during that long process? Did you ever think about giving up?
B: I was just starting to get over that! Thanks for bringing it up. . . Really.
Six years is a long time, and I honestly did think about giving up a few times along the way. I thought the concept made for a very visual type of story, so I initially fleshed out Yield in a screenplay format. That alone took me a couple of years because I was working on it after long days at work and time with my family. Putting it together as a screenplay actually helped me quite a bit while writing to better visualize the scenes, structure the story, and tighten up my dialogue. But screenplays have to be so concise and heavily formatted that it really limited the emotion of the story. I received a lot of feedback from prospective agents and production companies that the screenplay was overwritten and just too literary. So I took a deep breath and jumped in with both feet to expand Yield out into a novel. It took a few more years, but was extremely liberating to be able to flesh out how my characters felt and thought—how the fear inside them was palpable and crippling. It allowed me to explore my own style of writing and create a much deeper story.
Because of that multi-formatted process and my own inexperience as a novelist, it took four times as long to finish the story as it probably should have. Every time I read it I also found different things I just had to rework. I would change my changes, then change them back. I was really bipolar at times. I'm a perfectionist, so I was never completely satisfied. Eventually I just had to push it all away and say the book was done—for my own sanity, if nothing else. Then, of course after I read the printed ARC, I had 80+ more changes for my publisher!
Looking back, though, editing is really where my story and writing found its voice. I am grateful now for the extra time I spent on Yield. As a new writer, it can be intimidating because it sometimes feels like the story will never truly be done. But after six years, I'm proof that with a little determination and tenacity, that cover can be closed.

Me: Did you know from the start that you wanted to write a series?B: From page one, I knew that the Armageddia story would stretch across at least three parts. To do it right, I knew it had to depict the epic journey and transformation of not only the characters, but also our country and world. There was just no way the story could fit into a single installment. Books two and three of the Armageddia Series should be released in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

Me: You are already working on the sequel. How is that going?
B: It's going great, I just wish there were more hours in the day to work on it! I love the direction book two of the Armageddia Series is going. I feel like I learned a lot while writing Yield, and that's helped my process on book two tremendously. The follow-up to Yield explores a darkening world, one filled with revenge, retribution, and a desperate struggle to find hope within the chaos. Book one saw a cataclysmic shift away from everything we've ever known. It was very sudden and immediate in the lives of the characters. Book two of the Armageddia Series takes place a year later, and is more about the sustained struggle to survive—and how the characters have changed in very different ways to do just that.

Me: What would you say to those who want to read Yield?
B: At its core, I would say that Yield is a journey of self-destruction and redemption. When our country's entire infrastructure is crippled by a brutal attack, the survivors are thrown into an unthinkable world full of chaos and anarchy. We're thrust right into the middle of that madness with the characters, without understanding what happened or why.
Yield is a story about that shift between the life we know and the very dark world that emerges from the ashes. If everything you knew suddenly changed in a flash of hatred and violence, how would you react? What would you be capable of to protect the ones you love? Yield's characters come face to face with those extremes of humanity, trying to overcome their own savagery and demons while fighting to survive.
My goal as I wrote Yield was just to depict our current geopolitical environment and threats in as realistic and unbiased a way as possible, letting the reader draw from it what they will. I wanted my story to feel terrifyingly possible in every way, without focusing too heavily on any particular religious or political viewpoint. I incorporated a very diverse set of characters to help show that beyond the racism and bigotry, beyond the differences of religion and background, we are far more alike than different. It isn't until our characters are pushed to the brink that they realize that.

 ****
You can follow Bryan K. Johnson and the entire Armageddia Series, including Yield which will be released on August 14th, at:




Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Shadowland - Review, interview and more


It is time for my stop on the Shadowland Blog tour. I had the pleasure of reading the book and also interviewing the author.

*****
ABOUT THE BOOK.

FROM GOODREADS:
‘I have lived more years than I can remember, probably more than the sum of all your years combined. Kings have called me friend and brigands have sworn to burn the flesh from my bones even if they have to search all seven halls of the shadowland to find me.’

On the night of midwinter’s eve, a storyteller takes his listeners back to the Dark ages and a tale from his youth.

Deserted by its Roman masters, Britain has been invaded by the Saxons at the invitation of Vortigern, traitorous leader of the Britons. Now, as the tribes unite to reclaim their land, one man must rise to lead them and become their true and only king.

 FIND IT ON: Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket


*****
INTERVIEW TO C.M. GRAY AUTHOR OF SHADOWLAND.

ME:  If you have to describe Shadowland in no more than one sentence, what would you say?
C.M.: Shadowland is the story that came before the story you thought you knew...
ME: What inspired you to write it? How long took to write it?
C.M.: I decided that I didn’t like television any more. That when the commercials came on I often couldn’t remember what I was watching so it was a waste of my life. I had often thought about writing so decided to sit down and try. It took me just under a year Shadowland, then another couple of months to edit, then I had to find a real editor to go through it because I can tell a story, but I’m rubbish when it comes to placing semi colons, hyphens and commas! Shadowland has now been professionally edited, yaaaah!

ME: Was it difficult to include historical facts?
C.M.:
I’ve always loved history so I found it really interesting to dig into books on the dark ages and to research the legends of Arthur. The dark ages in particular interested me because so little is known of that period. This is when the Romans were leaving and the Saxons invading. The poor old tribes of Britain were in no condition to defend themselves so new leaders had to emerge.


ME: Did you have to make a lot of research about the Saxons invasions?
C.M.: I loved reading about the Saxons, Vikings, Jutes and Angles. These were the groups that saw Britain as a ripe opportunity at the time. I did a lot of research and thoroughly enjoyed the reading.

ME: I really like the friendship between Usher and Cal, was it important to make this bond a main fact in the story?
C.M: I think one of the main messages that comes across is loyalty to ones friendships and also loyalty to ones own commitments. Live as the person you want to be not as life pushes you. Cal is so loyal to his friend that he walks the Shadowland for Uther, the space between life and death to find him.

ME: The folklore about Druids is amazing. Did you have to read a lot about them? How you choose what to include and how?
C.M.: I remember visiting Stonehenge in Britain many years ago and seeing modern druids, yes they are still around. The idea of the druids is fascinating. These are the people in the dark ages that were so in touch with spirit that they were the main advisers to Boudicca and the tribes. Real interesting and I loved writing about them, especially the crazy old druid that guides the group on their descent into the druid’s well.


ME: Cal finds out that he has a special ability, did you wanted to write more about that or did you think that what is in the book is enough?
C.M.: I loved writing the parts of the book where Cal makes his changes. It was tempting to take that further and if this was meant t be a general historical fantasy rather than for the YA market, maybe I would have. I might explore that another time.


ME: I’m a fan of History, what other moment in History would you like to write about?
C.M.: I like the Victorian times which is making a bit of a comeback in the steam punk genre. I would also like to set something around the times of the second World War in Europe. I have lots of ideas!

ME: Are you currently writing a new book? Can we know was it about?
C.M.: I have just released my second book. It’s called The Flight of the Griffin and it’s a pure YA fantasy. It’s a quest adventure that draws the reader along as four young friends have to find and unite three crystal skulls to stop the balance of the world tipping into chaos. They have demons chasing them and a real nasty hunter called Matheus Hawk. It’s getting great reviews.

ME: What it’s your favorite place to write?
C.M.: I live in the woods outside Barcelona in Spain. I have a room at the top of the house and late at night when the rest of my family has gone to bed, the dogs have settled down and the moon is high, I love to write!
 Thanks so much for this opportunity to tell you about my work. I hope you will all give one of my books a read!


YOU CAN FIND C.M. GRAY ON HIS BLOG. HERE


*****
MY REVIEW.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When you mix history, magic, and two great characters you probably will get Shadowland.

A story about two friends, which have to follow the path of the Saxons that destroyed their village. A journey that will guide them among stranger territories where they’ll find interesting characters while discover some secrets about their lives.

Shadowland is a great story about a very interesting time in history, the author takes real facts but also has the ability of introduces us in magical territories. I love the combination between real legends such as Arthur and the sword with two lovely characters.

Some of the best things about the book are the Druids, this part of folklore that is really interesting to read about. And the fights! I loved the actions scenes. The author makes an incredible job describing the battlefields and the trainings with swords and horses and all that.

Cal and Uther are two great friends. Their friendship is so strong and you can really feel it while you are reading. I’m glad it only got stronger as the book moves one and that they help each other through some difficult times.

Overall is a great read, enjoyable and well written.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Waking Dream - New Review

Happy Saturday!
I finally ended my review of this book. I had the pleasure of receiving it from the author who kindly sent it to me. Stay tune for the blog tour of THE WAKING DREAM and for more surprises. 
*****

THE WAKING DREAM
by Jennifer Ford.

Book Description:
Cut off from the outside world by a hostile desert full of savage secrets, the city of Illamar must fend for itself. Late one night, Dante Montero, Commander and Ruler of Illamar, is confronted on his own streets by a mysterious woman bearing an ominous message from a dangerous man known only as Rasheim.
Dante and his close friend Kerran, Captain of the Guard, rush to discover the identity of Rasheim and the nature of the threat posed against their city. The closer they get to the truth, the more their worlds begin to fall apart. Both men will have to rely heavily on their friendship as they struggle to comprehend the events happening around them, their past, and even the truth about themselves.
They must move quickly and choose wisely, for time is running out as Dante and Kerran discover a secret plot is already underway to destroy their city and kill every last person alive. It seems the answers they so desperately need can only be found in a sequence of dreams, but in a world where nothing is as it seems, even their dreams could turn out to be deadly.

*****

MY REVIEW.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you never read a fantasy novel The Waking Dream would be a great way to start and I can assure you that you won’t regret it. I had my doubts about it but I’m so glad I read it and I can honestly say that it’s a great book.

A novel set in a savage desert between the cities of Illamar and Rheamyre, where we meet Dante and Kerran, two great friends that are forced to face an unknown threat. We discovered the story little by little, because of the narrative skills of Jennifer, and we are able to feel every emotion that Dante and his friend share trying to understand everything that comes in front of them.

A story full of secrets, a forgotten past, roles to play, prophecies and well developed characters that never lacks intensity and mystery. The fights and encounters between characters are easy to read as well as entertaining.

Something worth noting is the intensity of the relationship between Kerran and Ke’arhra. The bond between them is one of the best things in the book. I love to read about his desire for her and how she has to deal with something new and that scare her so much.

There’s so much talk about the enemy that at some point I just wanted them to go and face it once and for all. There’s so much preparation needed and untold things that only added more excitement to the story.

Jennifer has a very descriptive writing that allowed us to really picture every landscaping, which is not an easy task when you are creating a fantasy world. And she truly succeeded in translate all that what was in her imagination to paper.

The only thing that bothers me a little is that the final fight felt very short and in my opinion could be a bit longer. Maybe I just wanted more sword action.

The end… What a cliffhanger, now I’ll be waiting to know what happens next until the release of the second book.

There’s a lot to say about the book but I’ll let you decide your thoughts about it.

FIND IT ON:  Photobucket  Photobucket  Photobucket

PLEDGED - Meet the characters


It's time for another stop in this awesome Blog Tour. An now is time to meet the main characters.
I hope you enjoy the excerpts as much as i did. I can't wait for the release of this book.
Stay tune for more surprises.


*****
EXCERPT ONE: Meet Seth and Erin . . .
Despite the heat, Seth felt icy. Dread could do that to him. Or so he had recently discovered. Deep breathing usually calmed him, so he sucked in a lungful of desert air and told himself to relax. It didn’t help. By the time he’d walked from the aircraft to the immigration hall he’d ripped off a jagged piece of thumbnail, already bitten raw. He handed his US passport to the Botswanan border official, and, after a frown, and a stamp, he joined the crowd at the baggage carousel. Botswana in southern Africa was the last place on earth he’d ever have picked for a holiday destination. But he wasn’t here on holiday. Not even close.
His backpack was slow in coming. Tired from his long-haul flight from New York, he leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. Almost as if to mock him, the hated vision that had brought him to Botswana burst into his mind. In an instant he was back in ancient times, watching a man he knew only as Gideon. As usual, Gideon was huddled on a windswept hill with his band of hopeless soldiers, waiting to be slaughtered by a huge army gathered in the valley below.
Seth snapped his eyes open to stop the battle from waging in his mind. It wasn’t that he was particularly squeamish; he’d watched enough movies to iron clad his stomach against gory visuals. But no movie had ever left him icy with dread the way Gideon’s battle did. And the reason for that was simple. The moment the visions had started, he had known that the war, fought so long ago in a place he’d never heard of, was far from over. And, as reluctant as he was, he too was being enlisted to fight in a cause he didn’t understand or want.
He forced himself to focus on the present: Erin, who waited for him in the arrivals hall; his brother Kyle, whom he’d come to Botswana to visit; Kyle’s expedition to find the Lost City of the Kalahari . . .
He ripped off another piece of fingernail. Thinking about the search for the Lost City was almost as bad as the war-vision. I hope Kyle never finds the damned place. He slapped his hand on his thigh. Enough! Grabbing his backpack off the carousel, he set his face into a smile and strode into the arrivals hall.
The first hurdle was finding Erin. She was due to arrive an hour earlier on a flight from Cape Town in South Africa, one of Botswana’s neighbours. He’d never met her, although they had spoken over the phone once. Then she’d described herself as “a short, seventeen-year-old (a year younger than him) with a mass of ginger hair.” She’d sounded nice. Meeting her was the one ray of brightness in this otherwise dark picture.
He stopped to scan the crowd. A petite girl with shoulder length, reddish-blonde curls, dressed in skinny jeans and a purple blouse, immediately caught his eye. It had to be Erin. Nice legs. What’s it with girls that they always under-sell themselves? He studied her face with his artist’s eye. Vermeer would’ve killed to paint her. Suddenly wishing he didn’t look so grimy after his three plane-changes, he walked over to join her. “Hi, I’m Seth. You’ve got to be Erin. My brother’s just married your sister Izzy.”
“And after only knowing each other for about a week.”
Her dimpled grin was infectious, making him crack his trademark crooked smile. “Madness.”
“Mysterious.” Erin cocked her head to one side, seemingly appraising him. He knew he had been accurate when he’d told her he was tall and dark-haired. But what he had failed to mention was what girls had often said they liked about him: his strong, angular face, softened by expressive brown eyes. He watched her eyes rove over his grey Muse: Resistance t-shirt, taking in his broad shoulders and chest. From there they darted down his black camo-pants to his boots. Amused by her blatant assessment, he cocked his head to one side, watching her. Suddenly Erin giggled – was she embarrassed? – and picked up her bag.
“We’ve yet another plane to catch. My fourth in the last twenty-four hours,” Seth said, hoping to explain away his rumpled appearance. “To a place called Maun.”
“So we do. Let the adventure begin.” 
***

EXCERPT TWO: Meet Jared and Sophia . . .  
Jared nodded at Sophia and Kezeah without any sign of recognition. With two of his Pledged up front and two at their rear, he marched them down the corridor to a flight of stairs. Once at the bottom, he ducked beneath an archway, opening onto to a gloomy, narrow tunnel. Erin, never keen on dark, claustrophobic spaces, took a deep breath and paused.
“C’mon,” Seth said. “The sooner we walk through it, the quicker we get to the other side.”
“What happens if what’s on the other side is even worse?”
“Then you’ll know for sure that the dead guys are leading this expedition,” Seth said, wanting to deny the painful burning in his heart that reconnected him with a cursed Jared. He grabbed Erin’s arm and pulled her into the passage.
They’d taken no more than two tentative steps along the uneven floor when Sophia stopped. “Commander, I am not walking through this snake-hole!”
Jared turned back to look at her. With none of the fear or diffidence Erin and Seth expected from a boy with limited to exposure to girls – especially beautiful ones – he answered, “Of course, my lady. You’re from Norin, where I understand you live in grass huts.” He gave a sardonic smile. “But don’t despair, you’ll soon get used to bricks. Even our own Outcasts have learnt not to flinch at the sight of them.” He continued down the passage.
     Seth’s mouth dropped at Jared’s rudeness; this was so foreign to the Jared he had seen just moments ago in his vision. It just added to his anger at Reuel’s Curse.
The Pledged at Sophia’s rear prodded her back; she gave him a fierce look and started walking.
For Seth and Sophia, both taller than Erin and Kezeah, negotiating the tortuous twists and turns of the tunnel was no easy matter. Stooping, cursing each time they bumped their heads on the rough ceiling, they struggled after Jared, but he kept up the merciless pace until they reached a dark staircase.
Her temper now as short as her breath, Sophia stopped walking and locked her arms across her chest. “Having just cracked my skull open, you now expect me to scramble up those treacherous stairs too. No doubt hoping I’ll fall and break my neck. Well, forget it. I’m not moving.”
“Sophia!” Kezeah whispered, jabbing her in the ribs as she stepped gingerly onto the first narrow step.
Sophia ignored her. “Only savages and rats live in places like this.”
     Jared’s eyes narrowed. “Savages and rats, you say, my lady?”
Sophia set her face into a cold stare, locking her hypnotic blue eyes on his.
He surprised her by holding her gaze. “I hate to disappoint you, my lady, but Lord Rustus, Lord of the Household, under the direction of the Overlord himself, has chosen your apartment. Surely you don’t question their judgment in this matter?” 
     “As a matter of fact, I do.”
     “In that case, I’ll gladly pass on your concerns. If that’s what you really want.”
“Enough, Sophia. This isn’t a fight you can win.” Sophia’s Guardian had joined them.
***
 EXCERPT THREE: Meet Caleb and Talitha . . .
Erin flicked her hair behind her ear and watched Caleb straighten his clothing. He took a deep breath and entered the hut. They followed right after him, drifting through the closed door as if it didn’t exist. Seth laughed, holding his hand up to Erin for a high-five  – until he noticed that Caleb’s Gefallen had also wafted into the cabin with them. Even though he had no idea how to defend Erin from a ghost, he stepped in front of her to protect her. But the wraith ignored them and sailed over to Caleb.
     A tall, blonde-haired girl with almond-shaped brown eyes was waiting for Caleb. For Erin, the recognition was instantaneous; it was Talitha. “She’s so beautiful!”
     “She’s okay,” Seth replied, looking her over critically. “But I don’t think Caleb’s here for her looks.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You said yourself that Caleb’s a good-looking guy. I bet he could have any girl he wants around here.”
Erin frowned; then she smiled as understanding dawned. “So, in guy-talk, you’re saying he loves her?”
Seth chuckled as he picked up Erin’s hand and put it on his heart. “Tell me what you’re feeling?”
Erin gasped at a disconcerting pulse thrumming in Seth’s chest, over-riding his own heartbeat. “It’s . . . no . . . It’s not possible.”
 “I’ll bet it is. It’s Caleb’s heart beating.”
“How do you know it’s him? It could be Talitha.”
“It started the moment I saw him. It’s like it’s there to stop me denying that he and I were once friends. And I was watching Talitha when he walked in. She smiled, and it felt as if someone had just shot a thousand volts through him.”
“It’s amazing you’re so connected that you can feel him.”
Seth wasn’t so sure he agreed; it made being here just a little too real.
Erin felt her own heart and could faintly discern Talitha’s heartbeat; it was nowhere near as strong as the thump in Seth’s chest, but then, she figured, she wasn’t in denial the way he was.
 They fell into silence as Caleb opened his arms to embrace Talitha. She draped her arms around his neck, twisting the dark curls tumbling onto his shoulders. He kissed the nape of her throat and ran his lips up her neck, over her chin to her mouth.
“This is awkward,” Erin murmured, looking away.
“You don’t say. All this way just to watch them making out.”

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