Author of Dark Fiction
Category Archives: Book Reviews
I continue my exploration of alternate realities in young adult fiction with my review of Then and Always by Dani Atkins. It’s an addictive read that keeps you guessing about what’s real and what isn’t. But then that’s my favorite kind of fiction.
Really excited about my debut young adult column for “Inveterate Media Junkies.” This month I’m reviewing Ann Brashares’ THE HERE AND NOW, about a group of travelers who have escaped to our current time from a ghastly future.
Click on the link below to read my review:
Platform-Get Noticed in a Noisy World, by Michael Hyatt is a really excellent book about developing your platform, and though it’s not specifically geared toward writers, I found that there were a lot of ideas I could use for my writing.
For example, he has an interesting take on writing blog posts. Use a blog post template, with the following elements: Lead paragraph, Relevant image, Personal experience, Main body, and end with a Discussion question in order to encourage responses.
He recommends making video interviews of other authors and post them to your blog. Send the interview ahead of time, and record the interview through Skype.
Post your own videos in which you speak about various aspects of writing or of your books.
Create a public speaking tab on your website:
- Have a “check my availability” button. This is less presumptuous than a “book me” button.
- Post a one-minute welcome video.
- Did you know that there is iPad teleprompter software? It is HDi Pro2.
- Include a photo of yourself speaking
Hyatt tells us to Kiss Marketing Goodbye. Marketing is dead. Tribe-building is the new marketing. It’s about participating in a dialogue with fellow travelers and building relationships.
- Discover your passion.
- Volunteer to lead.
- Be generous. When you lead by serving and giving, people follow.
- Provide a way to communicate.
Write informative guest posts on other people’s blogs.
Offer to give away a free e-book in exchange for people signing your mailing list.
He emphasizes the importance of using Twitter to build your brand. Some useful tips are:
- Customize your Twitter page with your photo, info about you and a link to your blog or web page.
- Comment on and re-tweet other people’s posts.
- Keep your posts short enough to re-tweet.
- Post often, but don’t over-promote. Offer interesting content to your readers
Become an Amazon Associate and use an affiliate code in links to your own books. This generates extra income every time someone buys one of your books through your link.
Hyatt offered some ideas for novelists, such as:
- Post excerpts from your novels.
- Backstory your novel: why you wrote it, how did you settle on the story, did you do any research.
- Behind the scenes look at what the life of a novelist is like.
- Write “directors notes” for your book: why you chose to start with a particular scene, did you have to delete or add scenes to improve the story
- Interview your editor: Ask your editor what her day-to-day job is like, what’s it like to work with writers, get stories about best and worst experiences, what prompted her to get into the business
Hyatt has many more ideas and recommendations that are applicable to writers. This book is a great read for anyone interested in developing and building a platform, and I’d highly recommend it.
The mark of a good book to me is how much it sweeps me up into its world. Leslie Davis Guccione does this powerfully as she brings the people and settings of Lake Allamuchy to life and gives insight into human nature in the process. She brings back memories of the endless summers of youth spent on boats, at lakes, in little cottages. Perhaps she brings back memories we wish we had.
Long time friends, Lily and Johanna, who both find themselves at crossroads in their lives, spend a week at their Lake Allamuchy houses. Johanna’s is a huge house that has been in her family for generations, and Lily’s is a bungalow that she shares on alternate weekends with her ex-ex and his new trophy girlfriend. They both find refuge in each other’s friendship. When Johanna encounters an old summer fling, former lifeguard and “bad boy” Dean, she feels like a teenager again. Lily keeps her grounded throughout the whole experience. Johanna in turn helps her through her crisis with ex-ex. They rename Johanna’s grown son’s tree house “The Chick Palace,” which they use as their home base for camaraderie—morning coffee, evening dinner and margaritas, along with deep discussions.
Sensory details of the lake, the town and the houses are delightful. The writing is overall smooth and graceful, accented by subtle humor. Guccione has a special talent for effortless and natural dialogue.
Having never married or had children, I have little in common with these characters, yet I could relate because the author made them so human with depth of personality and intelligence. I could literally feel Johanna’s elation coupled with misgivings at being reunited with her former summer fling. All characters grow and change over the course of the story, and they have realistic flaws. Even Dean is well-drawn as a three-dimensional character. The two women finally realize how important solid, warm friendship is in getting through the rough spots in life. I think this is the main message of the book and one to which I can definitely relate.
The Chick Palace is a delightful read, and I’d highly recommend it.
Romance that weaves a spell and makes you think.
When Leigh Cameron goes back to her hometown of Watford Maine to attend her father’s funeral, she doesn’t expect to inherit his small-town newspaper. She also doesn’t expect to fall for her father’s protégé, the hot and handsome, David Stone. David resents her being there, and she really wants to sell the paper and go back to her Arts and Entertainment job at a big paper in New York. But as she gets more and more enmeshed in life in the small town, she begins to think she might want to stay.
I can’t say enough good about this book. Meline Nadeau weaves a spell around the reader that starts at page one and doesn’t quit until the end. It has everything a romance should have without the irritating things a lot of romances do have.
The characters are well-drawn and multi-dimensional to the point that we truly care about them. Leigh is a high-spirited, kick ass heroine who’s witty and can hold her own in any conversation. David is strong and determined with a sensitive side. His background as a poor, native American, son of a prisoner makes us admire and like him for of the rough beginnings he was able to overcome. Minor characters that could have easily become stereotyped, such as the mean stepmother and gay best friend, come to life as individuals.
Nadeau builds the tension between Leigh and David so masterfully that by the time the sex scenes happen we’re really ready for them. The romance and chemistry between the characters is tense and engaging, and their erotic encounters are that much hotter for the emotional relationship between them.
The plot is well-constructed and believable. Events that happen at the end were foreshadowed in the beginning, leading to a satisfying resolution. There was suspense, not only in the relationship between the characters, but in the interesting and tense sub-plot of the Native American uprising at the local prison.
In some romances, the devices that keep the male and female protagonists apart can seem silly and contrived, but in Stop the Presses, the reasons seem real and natural, not forced.
Meline Nadeau draws a locale so picturesque and warmhearted it makes me want to visit Watford, Maine. The descriptions of the settings are so vivid, the town becomes a character in the book.
Her style is easy and natural, her words rhythmic, her dialogue witty and smart. She’s able to evoke genuine emotion through her writing.
For a fun, feel-good read, there’s nothing better. I can’t wait to read more of her books.
Sixteen-year-old Sophie Dupont lives in Minuit, Idaho in a Huguenot community. She follows all of the conventions expected of her until she meets a handsome eighteen-year-old boy who has been working in the community and was recently baptized into the faith.
Sophie falls head-over-heels for the dashing and exotic Gabriel. So have all of the girls who generally only have their own home-grown stock from which to choose. But the difference is that Gabriel loves Sophie back. They get to know each other through delicious and illicit midnight rendezvous. Her mysterious beau does everything within his power to protect her. But as a result complications pile up. I won’t go into any more detail in order to not spoil the plot, but Shelley Adina deals with some difficult and topical issues within the course of this novel.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were engaging. Even though Sophie has been brought up to be obedient, she proves that she is plenty capable of thinking for herself and standing up to any conflict that might arise.
Sophie possesses a refreshing honesty. In fact, she remains honest even when it’s against her best interest to do so, so strong are her religious convictions. Yet, the religious aspect of the book is never heavy handed.
Though the subject matter seems incongruous, when you think about it, a Huguenot community would be the perfect place for a vampire to hide. This book took those reasons to their logical conclusions.
Shelley Adina is a skillful writer who knows how to develop suspense in order to hold an audience’s attention. I always find it interesting to read about traditional American cultures, and I love paranormal tales, so this was a perfect read for me. I’d highly recommend Immortal Faith as an entertaining, fast-paced read.
Read Adina Senft fascinating blog, the City Girl’s Guide to Plain Living
Also take a look at Shelley Adina’s steampunk novels.
I’m a definite werecat fan, so I was super-excited when I saw that ABC Family was making a werecat series. I rushed out to buy The Nine Lives of Chloe King, by Liz Braswell. As a writer, I was curious to see how the book compared to the series. The plot centers around a girl just turning sixteen who is noticing some strange things going on: preternatural strength and hearing, guys are suddenly uber-attracted to her, and some shadowy figure seems to be chasing her. When she falls off Coit Tower in San Francisco, she barely receives a scratch. Gradually, she finds out that she’s a member a race called Mai, descended from Egyptian Cat Goddess, Bastet.
The TV series plays down the sexuality of the character. Since Chloe is sixteen, this it to be expected to make it palatable to television audiences. In the book, she has a pretty steamy relationship with Alex, which goes as far as making out in the janitor’s closet. In the series, I was disappointed to find out that Alex turns out to be more of a protector than boyfriend.
Chloe’s mom is strangely unconcerned about her barely sixteen-year-old daughter going out to a club and meeting a guy. This was true for both book and series. Also, in the book, Chloe acts fairly bratty about her two best friends hooking up. In the first episode Chloe is a pretty good sport about the whole thing.
I was a little let down that Brian didn’t make his own kitty hat in the series. It was a nice touch in the book that he knit his own hat, but I understand that it made more sense for him to buy it from the quirky second-hand clothes shop where Chloe works.
The series identified the villain, her allies, and backstory about the Mai a lot faster. At the end of the first book, the reader didn’t have that info. As for special effects, her retractable claws looked a little fakey, but I realize this must be difficult to do.
So far, for the series, they tightened up motives and relationships a little more and made the series more PG. Wrapping the whole thing up into a neater package is what film and TV developers do, right? Even though it removes some of the quirks and makes it a little less interesting, it makes a more commercial package. I sometimes wish they’d leave more of the quirks in, though.
It will be interesting to see how the series progresses.