“Definitions of Indefinable Things”–Review

51GZ8uMd5rL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_“My name’s Reggie. I’m seventeen. My worldview is that we’re all spiraling toward a vast and gaping obscurity we can’t escape, and if we’re lucky, we’re doing so alone. Also, I despise you. And by you, I mean the general human population.”

Reggie Mason believes that, as long as she doesn’t let anyone in, she can’t get hurt. It’s become her defense mechanism. During a quick trip to CVS to pick up her Zoloft prescription, she meets Snake, who happens to be waiting at the pharmacy for his Prozac refills. When Reggie actually lets Snake into her life, she seems to have mixed feelings for him. After all, Snake is smug, arrogant, and he can be a bit too forward. Needy, perhaps. He has an addiction to Twizzlers. And he’s an aspiring film-maker who wants to include Reggie in his work-in-progress. That’s just about everything that makes him attractive.

As the two get to know each other more, it isn’t long before Reggie finds out that Snake has an ex-girlfriend, Carla Banks—a popular queen bee and ex-childhood friend of Reggie’s—who is seven months pregnant. Now that the three of them are in each other’s lives, they endure an awkward journey of mental breakdowns, lame shopping trips, disappointed parents, boring proms, and one embarrassing birthing class. Throughout that journey, Reggie has to get to the bottom of everything that has led to her depression, and that even though—to her—people can be scary, they’re worth having in her life.

This story was worth the read, in my opinion. Oftentimes, I’d get annoyed with Reggie because of her constant mixed feelings toward Snake. She hated him, yet she loved him. He’d summon her and she’d go running to him, even though she swore they weren’t anything to each other. But I think that’s what made the story interesting. They both were struggling with their own problems and were in search of happiness, as well as trying to figure out what happiness was. If you love YA, check out this book.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

*Definitions of Indefinable Things will be available on April 4, 2017.

*I received this copy from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Whitney Taylor is an English and psychology major from Virginia, who likes to pretend she is a supermodel from New York City. This is her first novel. You can follow her on Twitter. For more info on the author, click here.

“Above: The Broken Sky Chronicles”–Review

51vvhf8ulzl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Good evening, bloggers!  This will probably be my final book review for this year.  I can’t wait to read and share more reviews for 2017.  Here’s my review for the second book from The Broken Sky Chronicles, by Jason Chabot.

In the first book, Below, Hokk and his fox sidekick, Nym, are living in exile in the barren plains of Below, surviving on anything they can find.  Meanwhile, in the floating islands in Above, Elia works as a lowly servant girl in the Mirrored Palace.  The edges of the island have always been seen as borders that no one dares to approach.  However, when a natural disaster occurs, Elia falls down to Below.  And that’s where she meets Hokk.  Together, the two plan to escape the dangers of Below and get back to Above.

Now in the second book, Above, Elia and Hokk are separated after unusual circumstances.  For weeks, Elia tries to survive in the lands of Below, all the while trying to gain acceptance from the Torkin marauders, especially because she’s seen as a dangerous outsider.

Just when she starts to feel she’ll never return home, she and Hokk are reunited, and Hokk has a plan to get the two of them out of Below indefinitely.  Once they finally make it to Above, they realize it’s not over.  Their quest has become a lot more complicated than they’d expected.  They’re led into the scorching sand dunes, where the sun’s rays become a threat to Hokk’s life.  However, they are rescued by a privileged family who seem to have ties to those who Elia has tried to infiltrate.  During their stay with the family, though, Elia and Hokk stumble upon secrets that pose a threat to Elia’s plans to save Hokk, herself, and her own family.

Although I think the first book was quite interesting, this new installment was even better.  The secrets, along with the suspense, really had me turning the pages.  Now I’m really curious about the final book.  So if you haven’t, I recommend you read the first book.  Afterward, it gets better.  Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

Above: The Broken Sky Chronicles, Book 2 will be released on February 7, 2017.

*I received this copy from Turner Publishing, as part of the Review Team.

You can also follow Jason Chabot on Twitter.

“Return of the Continuums”–Review

51idwddhmil-_sx322_bo1204203200_Reaching the surface was just the beginning.

In The 13th Continuum, humanity was on the brink of extinction after a cataclysmic event.  Chosen candidates took refuge in various continuums—underground, underwater, and outer space—until Earth was safe to repopulate again.  One thousand years later, in the underwater 13th Continuum, Myra Jackson envisions what the Surface is like—a place and topic that is strictly forbidden and punishable by death in her totalitarian world.  However, when she learns of a frightening truth, she and her friends risk everything to reach their rightful home and to save their colony.  To do that, Myra must find her connection, Captain Aero Wright—a highly skilled soldier from the space colony in the Second Continuum.

In Return of the Continuums, after their struggle to reach the Surface, Myra and her friends set out to find the First Continuum.  But to get there, they have to travel through a hostile landscape, including hostile inhabitants of other continuums.  The friends must make an unlikely ally if they are to live long enough to reach the First Continuum and learn the secret behind the 1,000-year-old cataclysm and the hope of saving humanity.

The 13th Continuum was my first Sci-Fi read and I immediately loved it.  I went through all sorts of emotions with each chapter and was cheering for Myra to escape a world run by a fanatical religious sect.  As I got near the end of the book, I already knew I wanted more.  The sequel was even better and left me shocked at the end.  Of course, I won’t spoil any of it for those who’d like to read it.  Honestly, I can’t wait for the final book.  I’m sure it’s going to be superb!

For all the YA/Sci-Fi fans, I recommend this series.  Return of the Continuums will be released on November 1, 2016.  As always, feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this copy from Turner Publishing, as part of the Review Team.

About the author: Jennifer Brody lives and writes in Los Angeles.  After graduating from Harvard University, she began her career in feature film development.  Her many projects include The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Golden Compass, and Love in the Time of Cholera.  She’s a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  She also founded and runs BookPod, a social media platform for authors.  Find her on Twitter, Facebook, and her website.

“Below: The Broken Sky Chronicles”–Review

3252No one but the dead dare venture Below…

The first volume in this trilogy begins with Hokk and his fox sidekick, Nym, who are living in exile in the barren prairies of Below.

Overhead Below are the floating islands of Above, where Elia lives an endless life of drudgery as a laundress for the Mirrored Palace.  For as long as she could remember, Elia has been told horror stories of Below, filled with scavengers and monsters waiting to grab anyone who dares to cross the islands’ borders.  Because of the stories, Elia does her best to avoid going near the borders.  But it all changes when natural disasters hit Above, gradually separating the islands, causing Elia to fall into Hokk’s world, in Below.

Hokk and Elia meet.  While currently serving his sentence in exile, Hokk decides he needs to make it back home, to the city, while Elia tries desperately to get back home to Above.  The two journey together to reach their destinations, but it becomes more complicated and dangerous than they’d thought.  No one can be trusted.  Meanwhile, Hokk and Elia are being followed, but for what purposes?

This is my second time reading sci-fi/fantasy and the story caught my interest, along the way.  Honestly, I’m curious to know what happens, so I await the next installment.  Any fans of sci-fi, I encourage you to read this book.  Feel free to post your comments.

Happy reading!

Below: The Broken Sky Chronicles, Book 1, by Jason Chabot, will be available on August 16, 2016.

*I received this Advance Reader Copy from Turner Publishing, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Jason Chabot grew up in the outskirts of Chilliwack, B.C.  With his CA designation, he works as a financial controller in Vancouver.  For more info on the author, click here.

“Drag Teen”–Review

51uPedQ0VaL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_When life gets ugly, don’t wig out.  Drag it up.

This is the story of JT, an high school student who’s lived with a lifetime of insecurities and fears he’s doomed to live in Florida forever, working at his family’s gas station.  High school is coming to an end, yet he can’t afford to go to college.  His anti-supportive parents, including his part-time job, can’t pay for a tuition.  What adds to his insecurities is that his boyfriend, Seth, seems to have it all together and has a bright future ahead of him.

Just when he thinks he’s run out of options, JT learns of an opportunity from the Miss Drag Teen USA pageant in New York City, which will offer a full scholarship to the winner. Although JT wants to do it, he has a fear of failure, especially because he was booed off the stage during a school talent show.  But it is Seth who gives JT that push he needs.  After being convinced, JT, Seth, and their best friend, Heather, embark on a road trip to the Big Apple.  No matter how complicated it all becomes, JT is determined to become the next Miss Drag Teen and win his ticket to freedom.

This was a great story.  I enjoyed the whole idea of a road trip and the excitement of entering New York.  I’ve never been to New York, but I hope to see it, one day.  What I also liked about the story was Seth’s positive attitude.  He believes that, no matter, anything is possible.  Well, I won’t spoil anything for you, so I’ll just encourage you to get a copy of this book.  Feel free to post your comments.

Drag Teen, by Jeffery Self, will be available on April 26, 2016.

Happy reading!

*I received this advance copy from Scholastic, Inc., in a giveaway, for an honest review.

About the author: Jeffery Self is a writer, actor, and vlogger.  He’s appeared in numerous movies and TV shows, including 30 Rock, Desperate Housewives, and 90210.  Drag Teen is his first YA novel.  You can check him out on Twitter.

“The 13th Continuum”–Review

51qc2LWVmsL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Hello, Sci-Fi/YA fans!  Jennifer Brody’s debut novel, The 13th Continuum, will soon be available and I’m happy to share this review.

The 13th Continuum is the first book in the Continuum trilogy.  The story begins one thousand years after a cataclysmic event leaves humanity on the verge of extinction.  Until Earth is safe enough to inhabit, chosen survivors have taken refuge in continuums—in outer space, underground, and the bottom of the ocean—designed to sustain the human race.

Residing in the underwater 13th Continuum is Myra Jackson, who has always heard rumors of a place known as the Surface—provided with fresh air, stars, trees, etc.  It’s everything Myra’s ever dreamed outside of her totalitarian life.  Talking about the Surface, however, is strictly forbidden and punishable by execution—by orders of Padre Flavius, the Head Priest of The Church of the Oracle of the Sea.  With Padre Flavius and his Patrollers keeping a close eye on everyone, no one is safe.  Residents fear being cast out to the Holy Sea.  But when Myra learns of a secret that determines the fate of everyone in the continuum, she and her friends risk everything for their freedom and to return to their rightful home: the Surface.

This is my first Sci-Fi read and I must say I enjoyed it.  At first, I didn’t know what to expect.  Many scenes made me mad, while other scenes made me sad for particular characters.  I’m looking forward to the second book, which will be available on November 2016.  If you’re new to YA Sci-Fi, you just might enjoy this book.  Feel free to post your comments.

Happy reading!

*I received this copy from Turner Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

The 13th Continuum will be available on April 19, 2016.

About the author: Jennifer Brody is a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. She lives and writes in LA.  After studying film at Harvard University, she began her career in Hollywood. Highlights include working for Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes and New Line Cinema, most notably on The Lord of the Rings films and The Golden Compass. In 2008, she produced the film Make It Happen for The Weinstein Company. She is an alumna of the Sirenland Writers Conference, Tin House Summer Writers Workshop, The Lemon Tree House Residency for Writers, and has been accepted for a residency at the Helen R. Whiteley Center, run by the University of Washington. She founded and runs BookPod, a social media platform for authors. She’s also a volunteer mentor for the Young Storytellers Foundation and a writing instructor at The Writing Pad.

You can find her online at:

@JenniferBrody

http://www.jenniferbrody.com

http://www.facebook.com/jenniferbrodywriter

 

“Not After Everything”–Review and Q & A

NAE-Book-iPadA gritty but hopeful love story about seizing the present, healing from the past, and embracing the future.

The main character is Tyler Blackwell, a senior in high school.  So far, everything is going well for him.  He has a football scholarship to Stanford, a hot girlfriend, and an army of friends on his side.  Unfortunately, after his mom commits suicide, Tyler lets it all go, his future remaining bleak.  Not only is Tyler left to deal with his grief, every day he tries to dodge his drunken father who is verbally and physically abusive.  To top it off, his father refuses to support him, financially.

Since he’s in desperate need of money, Tyler takes on a new job at a photography studio, working alongside his former childhood friend, Jordyn, who’s now an angry-loner goth-girl.  As they get to know each other more, Tyler is unexpectedly provided reprieve from his chaotic world.  Because of it, he realizes he’s also falling for Jordyn.  However, when his father’s brutally unpredictable behavior shows more and more, Tyler is afraid that he’ll end up bringing Jordyn into his violent home.  But he has to make a choice: will he allow Jordyn to show him the path to a better future, or will he just let his current struggles destroy him?

I’ve read a few YA novels that had some good stories, but Not After Everything was definitely worth the read, in my opinion.  During some scenes, I was close to shedding a tear.  I shook my head in sympathy and thought about others who really can relate to this story.

As always, feel free to post your comments.

Happy reading!

About the author: Michelle Levy is from Denver, Colorado, and now lives in Los Angeles, California, where she works as a casting director for film and television on projects such as Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Bruce Almighty, and more.  Not After Everything is her debut novel.  For more on the author, click here.

My Q & A with Michelle Levy

  • Congratulations on your debut novel, Not After Everything.  Was this a project you’ve had in mind for some time?  Is the story, including the main character, Tyler Blackwell, based on events you know or know of?

M: Thank you! It actually wasn’t something I had in mind until it came to me. I was in the shower—where we all do our best thinking, right?—when I “heard” some dialog between this very angry golden boy and his former best friend and I just kind of let the characters guide me from there.

  • This story was a page-turner for me.  In fact, certain scenes had me shaking my head in sympathy.  I don’t want to spoil anything for those who’ve not yet read your novel, so I’ll ask about the scenes with Tyler and his father.  Were they difficult for you to write?

M: My writing style is sort of like method acting, where I try to really become the character. Those scenes were extremely painful to write. There was crying involved.

  • On your website, although you pursued a career in film and television, you’ve expressed your wanting to be a writer.  Are there any stories you’ve written in the past? What are your writing interests?

M: I never really admitted, to myself even, that I really wanted to be a writer until after I finished my first manuscript. I was thirty-two. And even then I had a hard time owning that title—writer—until my book sold. It just seemed like something people much smarter than I were. How could I be one? Ah, good old self-doubt.

Not After Everything was my fifth completed manuscript. The other four were paranormal and urban fantasy, which I still really love writing. I’m just such a fan of the what if; I hope to go back to writing that someday. I also really enjoy exploring psychology and psychological disorders.

  • Do you have favorite authors who’ve motivated your writing this book?

M: I was probably subconsciously motivated by my favorite book: The Catcher in the Rye. That book just really spoke to me. I remember reading it in ninth grade and thinking this is how I think! This is my inner voice! I don’t know what that says about me. :/ I was also inspired by The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp (I absolutely heart Sutter Keely!), Forgive me Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, Looking For Alaska by John Green, and Where She Went by Gayle Forman.

  • Do you have advice for aspiring writers?

M: Don’t be afraid to write a bad first draft! I’m a fast drafter, and let me tell you, those first drafts aren’t pretty. But my feeling is that if you word vomit the story out, just finish it and get it all on the page, you then have something to mold into a beautiful work of art. The biggest thing I hear from other writers is that they have a hard time finishing anything. I’ll bet it’s because they’re being hard on themselves and editing as they go. Some days you hate your writing and some days you think you’re Shakespeare. If you’re having a hate-your-writing day and get discouraged in the middle of a story, there’s no wonder why you want to put it away. That’s why I word vomit. I don’t give myself a chance to hate my stuff until I’m revising. It’s harder to give up on a finished draft.

  • Will there be another novel?

M: Many, I hope! I’m working on another contemporary novel now, but I have no official news to share at the moment. Keep an eye out for updates. Hopefully soon!