Graphic Novel Roundup

I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novel’s lately! I love how they are short and easy to read but often tackle important or complicated issues. For the first time, I tried out a few Marvel superhero comics. Until now, all I’ve read is some X-Men. I also got a few non-superhero related comics. Check them out.


Graphic Novel RoundupThe Lost Boy by Greg Ruth
Published by Graphix on August 27th 2013
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels
Pages: 192
Source: library
4.5 Stars

Some mysteries are too dangerous to leave alone . . .
Nate's not happy about his family moving to a new house in a new town. After all, nobody asked him if he wanted to move in the first place. But when he discovers a tape recorder and note addressed to him under the floorboards of his bedroom, Nate is thrust into a dark mystery about a boy who went missing many, many years ago. Now, as strange happenings and weird creatures begin to track Nate, he must partner with Tabitha, a local girl, to find out what they want with him. But time is running out, for a powerful force is gathering strength in the woods at the edge of town, and before long Nate and Tabitha will be forced to confront a terrifying foe, and uncover the truth about the Lost Boy.


This was by far my favorite of all the graphic novels I’ve read lately. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew that I would like it just based on the description and the art style. It’s a fantastic adventure story about a young boy. There’s a historic component to it as well, It reminded me a lot of Joe the Barbarian, which I also loved. Sometimes I feel like I enjoy short graphic fiction more than complex series just because the entire story is there. No waiting.


Graphic Novel RoundupLaika by Nick Abadzis
Published by First Second on September 4th 2007
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels
Pages: 208
Format: Paperback
Source: library
3.5 Stars

Laika was the abandoned puppy destined to become Earth's first space traveler. This is her journey.
Nick Abadzis masterfully blends fiction and fact in the intertwined stories of three compelling lives. Along with Laika, there is Korolev, once a political prisoner, now a driven engineer at the top of the Soviet space program, and Yelena, the lab technician responsible for Laika's health and life. This intense triangle is rendered with the pitch-perfect emotionality of classics like Because of Winn Dixie, Shiloh, and Old Yeller.
Abadzis gives life to a pivotal moment in modern history, casting light on the hidden moments of deep humanity behind history.
Laika's story will speak straight to your heart.
Laika is the winner of the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens and an Eisner Award nominee for Best Reality-Based Work.


This was a cute story about fate. We all know how Laika ended up (or maybe you don’t) but this is how she got there. It seamlessly weaves together nonfiction and fiction to create a plausible backstory. It also explores how fate and destiny affect our lives. Is everything predecided?


Graphic Novel RoundupUltimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol.1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli
Series: Ultimate Spiderman #1
Published by Marvel on February 15th 2012
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels
Pages: 136
Format: Paperback
Source: library
3 Stars

Who is behind the mask? COLLECTING: ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN (2011) 1-6


Spiderman was just OK for me. It’s a different Spiderman, Miles Morales instead of Peter Parker. Having a teenaged superhero is kind of interesting but the story is pretty similar. I picked it out because it came highly recommended. I just don’t think Spiderman is for me.


Have you read any good graphic novels lately? I love recommendations!

4.5 Stars

Awesome Indies: Cargo by Jen Castleberry

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For more information, check out the Awesome Indies page

Awesome Indies: Cargo by Jen CastleberryCargo by Jen Castleberry
Series: The Reservation Trilogy #1
on January 17th, 2016
Genres: Dystopian
Pages: 144

The earth has been reduced to a singular continent, governed by extra-terrestrials, collapsed by nuclear weapons residue and wracked with radiation sickness. Only one viable territory remains, and access there is restricted by a mysterious selection process. Everyone hopes to be chosen for transport. Everyone but Cass.
Seventeen year old Cassidy Hartinger has spent the past eleven years living in a government-maintained bunker. She should be thrilled when a handsome transporter arrives to take her to the Reservation. So why does she feel like he's dragging her, kicking and screaming, straight into the anti-paradise?
Faced with gun-wielding survivalists and elemental catastrophes, will Cass make it more than two steps out of the bunker? Will her journey to peace and safety in the Reservation turn out to be the most perilous thing she's encountered so far?
Fast-paced action and a tumultuous teenage romance will keep readers begging for more installments of The Reservation Trilogy!

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Book one in this series is a first-person installment, and the narrator has a very limited understanding of the world around her.  She’s spent two-thirds of her life living underground.  It made world-building a bit tricky.  I played around with different perspectives and different levels of omniscience, but in the end, I really wanted to see Cass develop into a brave, capable heroine, and the best way to do that was to show her in her most vulnerable state, thrust into a dangerous environment with almost no knowledge of what was in store.  I wanted the reader to come out of that bunker with her, not ahead of her.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

 My favorite scenes are always the action-infused ones.  The chase scene in the city was particularly fun to write.  For me, heightened emotions and a fast-pace make for a page-turning read.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

 Sure!  Right now, I’m working on the second installment of The Reservation Trilogy, Stowaway. It picks up right where we left off with Cass.  In Stowaway, I’m utilizing Nathan’s perspective.  He’s got a much broader understanding of the world and of himself, so it’s a more serious tone.  Romantically, it’s a bit more mature.  It’s been a blast to write.  A lot of the mysteries that were left dangling in book one will be resolved in book two, and quickly, too.  

Tell us about yourself? 

I’ve always loved writing.  It’s been a great escape for me since I was very young.  I used to think I’d be a famous writer, but my practical (and my pessimistic) side steered me away from that dream as I got older.  I pursued an Organizational Communications degree, and then fell in love with a completely off-the-wall career choice: animal welfare.  Right now, I work full time as a Veterinary Assistant at a local animal shelter.  I squeeze writing into my mornings and evenings.  I feel so lucky to have a job I truly love and to be making some headway as an indie author, too.

Do you have any pets? (Pictures would be great)

 I’ve got two dogs and a cat!  Gambit, Anna Marie, and Psylocke.  They’re all named after X-Men characters.
 castleberry pets

Do you have a set writing schedule that you adhere to? / Tell us how you write

 I write best in the morning.  That’s my quiet time.  I’ll put the puppies out back to play and give myself an hour to just drink my coffee, listen to music, and write.

Tell us about your book.

 CARGO is this first installment of The Reservation Trilogy, a post-apocalyptic tale set on the American continent.  Our heroine, Cass, has just been chosen for transport to the last viable territory remaining on the planet.  She’s spent two-thirds of her life living in a bunker underground, with the same routine, the same friends.  She feels a lot of remorse and insecurity, leaving behind everything that’s familiar to her.

If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?

 This is a three-part series.  It’s riddled with little mysteries and Easter eggs.  There’s a great romance budding in book one, and a lot of big reveals set for books two and three.  At its core, it’s a story about a group of kids who have found different ways to survive, mentally, and emotionally, in a war-torn world.

Was this book inspired by something in particular?

 It’s got a bit of a sci-fi edge to it.  I’ve really gotten a kick out of these alien abduction shows that have flooded television in recent years.  I kept wondering what would happen to the human race if extra-terrestrials had to step in to save the planet.  Would they save the species that was responsible for destroying it?

How can readers discover more about you and you work?


Debut Author Bash: Sonya Mukherjee

Debut Author Bash: Sonya Mukherjee

by Sonya Mukherjee
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Genres: Young Adult
Debut Author Bash: Sonya MukherjeeGemini by Sonya Mukherjee
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on July 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 336

In a powerful and daring debut novel, Sonya Mukherjee shares the story of sisters Clara and Hailey, conjoined twins who are learning what it means to be truly extraordinary.
Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins Clara and Hailey have lived in the same small town their entire lives—no one stares at them anymore. But there are cracks in their quiet existence, and they’re slowly becoming more apparent. Clara and Hailey are at a crossroads. Clara wants to stay close to home, avoid all attention, and study the night sky. Hailey wants to travel the world, learn from great artists, and dance with mysterious boys. As high school graduation approaches, each twin must untangle her dreams from her sister’s, and figure out what it means to be her own person.
Told in alternating perspectives, this unconventional coming-of-age tale shows how dreams can break your heart—but the love between sisters can mend it.

I did a character interview with Sonya Mukherjee earlier this year. Ever since I got to know her twins in this incredibly unique book, I’ve wanted to read it. I’m thrilled to have Sonya on the blog today for an interview to learn more about Gemini!

So Gemini is about an unusual set of twins. Are you a twin or do you have any siblings that you are close to?

I’m not a twin. I have a sister who’s three years younger, and a brother who’s seven years younger than I am. With those age differences, we didn’t have the type of intimacy that twins have. So in thinking about the twin relationship, while I was partly drawing on my own experiences with my siblings and other family members, I was also thinking about what real twins (conjoined and otherwise) have said about what it’s like for them. There is definitely some imagination involved, but my hope is that mixing imagination with those two threads of reality led to something authentic.

Have you always wanted to be an author? Tell us about your journey to publication.

I have, and the journey has been a long one. I spent some time experimenting with different genres and styles, and along the way, I wrote a few novels that were never published. When I discovered some of the great things that were being published in YA, I realized that I might have found my dream genre. But the first YA novel that I tried to write wasn’t really working, and I abandoned it halfway through the first draft.

Finally, I started writing Gemini, and as I wrote the first draft, I shared every chapter with my critique group, sometimes multiple times. By the time I got to the end, it wasn’t really a first draft at all, because almost everything had been revised as I wrote. And then I revised some more, and finally began querying agents about three years after starting the book.

I signed with my agent, Steven Chudney, in May of 2013, and revised some more based on his feedback. We submitted to a few editors and got some rejections, and then I did another massive revision based on some of their feedback. It was only in December of 2014 that the revised manuscript found its home with Zareen Jaffery and Simon & Schuster. And I’m so happy to be with Zareen and S&S, and to have this book that’s so much better than it was in its earlier drafts, I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

Is there a story or an inspiration behind this book?

The closest thing to an inspiration would be a documentary that I saw several years ago about Abigail and Brittany Hensel, who are conjoined. They were teenagers at the time, and I just found myself thinking a lot about their experiences and feeling very curious about what this would be like. In a way, writing a book about conjoined twins was an excuse to research something that I was curious about, and to imaginatively delve into all these questions that I had about the experience.

Do you have any pets? I would love to see pictures!

Sorry, I don’t!

What do you want readers to take away from their Gemini reading experience?

I almost hesitate to try to answer this, because in some ways I just want to offer up this story and say, “Take what you like from it. It’s not up to me to say what that is.” But maybe that’s a cop-out.

So if I had to give an answer, I guess I’d say that when we humans look at each other, I think there can be a tendency to look at some people as “like me,” and with those people, we can easily imagine their experiences and their feelings, and that makes it easy to empathize. And then we see others as “not so much like me,” and it’s harder to empathize because it’s just harder to imagine ourselves into their minds and their lives. And then there are others still who we might see as “so not like me that I can’t even begin to imagine it.” And that creates a huge barrier.

I love reading a book that helps me to imagine some experience that had previously seemed remote to me, while giving me a feeling of connection with that character. I feel expanded after reading a book like that. And so I guess if I had to choose, I would hope to give a little bit of that feeling to readers of Gemini.

What are some of your favorite books and authors and what do you love about them?

There are so many! And I love them for so many different reasons. But because of how I just answered the previous question, I’ll specifically name a few recent reads that gave me that feeling of seeing through the eyes of someone whose experience felt new to me: None of the Above, by my friend and critique partner, I.W. Gregorio; Symptoms of Being Human, by Jeff Garvin; Devoted, by Jennifer Mathieu; OCD Love Story, by Corey Ann Haydu; Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman; Say What You Will, by Cammie McGovern; the nonfiction Becoming Nicole, by Amy Ellis Nutt; and also in nonfiction, Far from the Tree, by Andrew Solomon.

Where can we find more information about you and your book on the web?


Publisher’s page:


Twitter: @sonyamukherjee

Instagram: @sonya_mukherjee


Review: The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

Review: The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily SkrutskieThe Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
Series: The Abyss Surrounds Us #1
Published by Flux on February 8th 2016
Genres: LGBT, Fantasy, Dystopian
Pages: 273
Source: library
4.5 Stars

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.
There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.
But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she's not about to stop.

I’ve posted numerous times about how this was one of my most anticipated books of 2015. The description hooked me immediately. I was so excited about this book that I actually became cautious because I was afraid that it looked too good. I’ve been burned too many times by books that have an incredible description but that’s the best part about it. Luckily, this book lived up to the hype. Pirates, sea monsters, complete with a monster wrangler, a dystopian world and a slow burn romance make this book a must read.

I loved Cas’s relationship with her reckoners. She was an animal trainer, and like any trainer she formed a bond and they became a team. I know and work with numerous guide dog teams and Emily Skrutskie got this 100% right. This was a big part of the book and it could have gone very badly. Emily Skrutskie managed to make the training of an animal that she made up sound interesting at every turn. Animal training is a time consuming and multi-step process that this story captured but never made boring.

Another thing important aspect of this story that Emily Skrutskie got absolutely right was the slow burn romance between Cas and Swift. When they first meet and throughout the story, Cas is a captive of the pirates. She is there as a prisoner. There is a very real power imbalance between Cas and Swift. Cas can’t give consent because she is Swift’s prisoner. All of this is out in the open in the story and clearly discussed. Cas won’t start something with Swift while they are not on equal footing and Swift respects that. That’s how it should be.

If there’s any complaint I have about this story, it’s that I wanted more. More information about the supporting cast, more scenes with Santa Elena, more world building and descriptions of the world, more everything. I thought the story itself was great. It was surprising, fun and engrossing and lead perfectly into the sequel. Still, I wouldn’t have complained if it was 100 pages longer.

4.5 Stars

Awesome Indies: Death Wish by Megan Tayte

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For more information, check out the Awesome Indies page

Awesome Indies: Death Wish by Megan TayteDeath Wish by Megan Tayte
Series: Ceruleans #1
Published by Heaven Afire on February 7th 2015
Genres: paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 305


The Ceruleans: mere mortals infused with power over life and death. Five books; one question: If the might of the heavens were in your hands, would you be sinner or saint?

Seventeen-year-old Scarlett Blake is haunted by death. Her estranged sister has made the ultimate dramatic exit. Running away from school, joining a surfing fraternity, partying hard: that sounds like Sienna. But suicide? It makes no sense.
Following in her sister’s footsteps, Scarlett comes to an isolated English cove with grand plans to uncover the truth. Alone. But she hasn’t reckoned on meeting two boys who are determined to help her. Luke: the blue-eyed surfer who’ll see the real Scarlett, who’ll challenge her, who’ll save her. And Jude: the elusive drifter with a knack for turning up whenever Scarlett’s in need.
As Scarlett’s quest for the truth unravels, so too does her grip on reality as she’s always known it. Because there’s something strange going on in this little cove. A dead magpie circles the skies. A dead deer watches from the undergrowth. Hands glow with light. Warmth. Power.
What transpires is a summer of discovery. Of what it means to conquer fear. To fall in love. To choose life. To choose death.
To believe the impossible.

What inspires you?

Art – especially modern art. Architecture. Literature. Poetry. Plays. Movies. Music. Buzzing cities. Breath-taking landscapes. Big, blue skies. People who strive and strive.

How long did Death Wish take you to write?

I wrote the first draft over two intense months. Then came the rewriting and editing – another couple of months. (GEEK ALERT) I wrote a blog post explaining how I wrote the series with (UBER GEEK ALERT) a chart: 

What was your favorite chapter to write and why? 

Chapter 23, ‘Kiss Me’. Scarlett and Luke are at the top of an ancient stone folly that teeters precariously on a very high cliff – ‘on top of the world and a step from death’, as I put it in the book. Both are trying hard to face the fear, not only that induced by the setting, but also that created by the past: they’ve lost people very close to them recently, and to let themselves love, to trust each other, knowing that people can be ripped away from you, is terrifying. The choice they make at the top of that tower is to stop being safe, to stop holding on – to fall for each other.

Waves everywhere, swirling, surging, seething – a raging melange of foam and salt and inky water biting at me, pulling at me, thrusting upon me a solitary invitation:



As I fought to remain on the flimsy polystyrene surfboard that seemed more bucking bronco than wave rider, I thought: That’s how easy it is – you just let go. Just release the grip on this world that in recent months had seemed so much an effort, and sink into the blue, beneath the waves, where chaos and fury turned to quiet and calm. Like she did.


Was drowning as they claim? I wondered. The easiest way to die – peaceful? How would it feel to give up all the dragging myself through the day, all the struggle to evade the aching void inside? A relief?

Another wave rose me up and slammed me down with breathtaking power. Its force stirred me. You could say a lot of things about Scarlett Blake – she’s a loner, she’s a wallflower, she’s a menace in the kitchen – but no way was ‘she’s a quitter’ on the list of character flaws.

‘Screw you!’ I shouted through the spray.

Funny, sounded like someone shouted back. But who else would be out in this tumultuous sea at six a.m. on a summer’s morning? Solitude was the entire point of hauling myself out of bed in the still-dark and picking my way down the cliff path to the beach just in time to see the horizon light up with the first burnt-orange glow of the rising sun. No one to see me make a damn fool of myself on my first surfing attempt.

‘Trying… yourself killed?’

Definitely a voice. Male. Angry.

Scanning the surroundings for the source proved difficult while lying stomach-to-board. On an upward surge I got a glimpse of the Devonshire cliffs that fringed the cove, all dark, jutting rocks topped by bushes of gorse, and then a flash of the beach. On a downward plummet there was nothing but eye-burning, throat-choking seawater.

‘Forward… next wave!’

The voice was closer now. There was an edge to it beyond the anger. Something raw.

My eyes picked out a black form between the waves. Someone on a surfboard, paddling it expertly seaward. I took one hand off the board to push sticky tendrils of hair from my eyes. Rookie mistake. Turned out holding on one-handed was impossible. The board shot upwards, out of my feeble grip, and then it was just me and Old Man Sea.

Kicking frantically, I tried to keep my head above the surface, but the waves were burying me, one after the other, only a second or two to come up for air before the next one hit. Far away now were thoughts of letting go – I was fighting furiously for life. Never in my seventeen years had I been so desperate. But my legs were tingling with effort, and I knew it was just a matter of time.

When the final wave broke me all I could think was, Sienna. With her name on my lips I inhaled a lungful of water and I sank…


… for all of a second before something grabbed the back of my t-shirt and hauled me upward. Coughing and spluttering, I emerged from the blue and was pulled roughly onto a board, my leg shoved over so that I straddled it. I had the fleeting thought that this board was much sleeker and more substantial looking than the one I’d just lost before my rescuer settled pretty much on top of me and started paddling toward the shore.

With him in command, we crested waves and glided down the other side with apparent ease, though I seemed unable to match the rhythm of our motion and kept taking in great gulps of brine. Over the sound of the waves and the wind and the splash of powerful arms cutting into the water to propel us along, I picked out low, irate grumblings.

‘… idiot tourists… total waste of… all we need… another bloody drama…’


Finally, we reached the shallow waters and he slid off the board and pulled me off to walk to the beach. But my legs didn’t seem willing to respond to basic instructions like ‘walk’ or even ‘stand’ and breathing between wrenching gasps had become a challenge, so he threw an arm around me and half-carried, half-walked me, dragging his board with his spare hand.

Ten steps up the beach he let me down onto the sand.

‘Head down,’ he commanded. ‘Between your legs. Cough it out.’

I did as I was told. Liquid spilled out of me with each retching cough, and the cool air I gulped in burned my throat. I fought the panic, I fought the pain, focusing instead on the shells and stones strewn around. Finally, breathing won out.

‘You okay?’

I was reluctant to look up. For starters, I knew I must look a mess – long hair plastered to my head rat-tail style, face flushed and salt-burned, eyes teary and bloodshot. And then there was the fact that this guy, whoever he was, had just saved my life, and was evidently pretty mad about having had to do so.

‘Hey, you okay?’

I lifted my head slowly. Took in broad thighs clad in black neoprene; hands reaching out, palms raised; a wide, muscular chest; a striking face – rugged, square jaw, full lips, ruddy cheeks, Grecian nose bearing a thin scar across the bridge, thick black lashes framing eyes… oh, his eyes.

I opened my mouth, tried to speak, but I was paralysed by his gaze. All at once I was home in the cottage, tucked up beneath the blue patchwork quilt of my childhood; I was watching my grandmother remove vanilla-scented fairy cakes from her powder-blue Aga; I was running through a meadow of sky-blue forget-me-nots with my sister – free, exhilarated, happy. The memories took my breath away. I felt the familiar burn in my tear ducts.

His eyebrows pulled together and he placed a hand on my trembling knee.

‘Are. You. Okay?’ he said with exaggerated care, as if he were speaking to an elderly lady having a turn at a bus stop.

I blinked, cleared my throat and managed a husky, ‘Yes. Th-thank you.’

Concern melted into exasperation.

‘What’s the deal,’ he demanded, ‘out there on your own, clearly no idea what you’re doing, children’s play surfboard… you got a death wish or something?’

I cringed. I’d known the board was short, but I’d thought it was me-sized – at five foot three, what use was some enormous board?

‘I’m sorry.’

‘You would’ve been sorry if I hadn’t seen you.’

‘I just wanted to get a feel for it. I didn’t realise it was so rough out there.’

‘Rough? That’s not rough. Not even optimum surfing weather. Piece of cake for someone who actually knows how to surf…’

He paused when he saw a tear escape my eye and roll traitorously down my cheek. Furrowed his brow, combed his fingers roughly through dark hair that was drying fast in the breeze.

‘Listen, I didn’t mean to…’

I brushed the tear away furiously. Enough with the vulnerability.


‘Right, well, thank you…’

‘Luke. My name’s Luke.’ The stress lines in his face smoothed out and his lips curved. Like this, smiling and relaxed, his scrutiny was a touch less unsettling. ‘And you are…?’

‘Thank you, Luke, for your, um, help, but I’m sure you’ve better things to do, so I’ll just be…’

Before he could protest, I launched myself to my feet. He instinctively rose with me, and my water-fogged mind registered belatedly that my rescuer was a giant of a guy – my head was at the level of his chest. As I looked up to take in his stature I staggered slightly and he reached out to right me, but I stepped backwards. I didn’t need his kindness.

He looked awkward, unsure of himself, as he towered over me. ‘Hey, will you be okay?’

‘Yes, yes, I’m fine. I’ll just head home.’

‘You live close?’

I pointed vaguely west. ‘Yes, not far.’

‘Up there?’ He looked puzzled, and then interest sparked in his eyes. ‘You mean the Blake place?’


Busted. Of course being vague was pointless. My grandparents’ ramshackle cottage on the western cliff was the only building up there.

I made a noncommittal mnnnhnnn noise, but Luke was not to be deterred.


‘But that place has been empty since…’

He was looking at me now with such scrutiny that I took a further step back. I saw the cogs turning in his mind as he took in the classic green Blake eyes and then compared her – short, spiky red hair, eternally crimson lips, tall and impossibly slender – with me – petite and curvy, hair more blond than auburn reaching to the base of my spine and a pallor worthy of a vampire. His eyes widened.


‘Scarlett? Scarlett Blake!’

There was shock in his tone, and then sympathy. 

Is any part of the book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

People, no – although the heroine, Scarlett, and I have a sensitivity in common. Events, yes – to some degree the story is personal to me, a fusion of experience and fiction woven from my imaginings and ponderings. It’s based on my own efforts to make sense of a world in which people close to you can die; in which being true to yourself can be incredibly difficult; and in which love – for people, for places, for a way of being, for a passion and an ethos – is the only reason to hold on. 

If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it.

Death Wish is Book 1 of The Ceruleans series: young adult romance with soul (and an edge of sass). Five books, one question: If the might of the heavens were in your hands, would you be sinner or saint?

Ceruleans series poster


What writers influenced you the most?

I’ve been an avid reader since I was this high [holds hand at hip level] and I firmly believe that every book I’ve ever read has shaped me into the writer I am today. Of course, looking back, some stand out. Roald Dahl put the fun into writing for a little girl; Charles Dickens caught my twelve-year-old imagination with his intricate plots; Emily Brontë led my teenage self to her first torturous love, Healthcliff; Alice Walker and Toni Morrison set me on the path to my degree studies; JK Rowling made me dream; Stephen King gave me nightmares; Terry Pratchett made me want to write and write and write.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Right now I’m embarking on a new series, which is keeping me awake at night. The first book is set in London, on the arts scene, and is a romance at heart, but also an exploration of identity. That’s all I can say for now!

When you read, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

I prefer paperbacks: the feel of the book in my hand, the smell of the ink and paper, the rustle of the pages; all comforting and affirming. But I do read a lot on my ereader these days as well, for convenience. If I love an ebook, I order it in paperback for my ‘keeper’ shelves.

What book are you reading now?

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon, in preparation for the new season of Outlander. It’s one of the few fiction-based TV series that my husband – a true Scot – will watch with me.

How do you relax?

When I’m not at my desk, I’m with my children most of the time: building Lego castles, baking cupcakes, drawing and colouring and painting, planting flower seeds, reading picture books at the library, hunting bears at the park – it’s not rock ’n’ roll, but I love it.

When the kids are finally in bed, I get an hour or so to myself. I commandeer the snuggle seat in the living room, which has a seaside theme and lots of paintings of Devon and Cornwall from the Whistlefish gallery (, and I get lost in a fictional world, either via a boxset or a novel.

Amazon Author Page:

Book Links:

Megan Tayte

Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. ‘Write, Megan,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did.

Thirty-odd years later, Megan is a professional writer and published author by day, and an indie novelist by night. Her fiction – young adult romance with soul – recently earned her the SPR’s Independent Woman Author of the Year award.

Megan grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in a village of Greater Manchester. She lives with her husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; her son, a budding artist with the soul of a palaeontologist; and her baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as she pursues her impossible dream: of baking something edible. 

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Rockstar ARC Review: How to Disappear

Rockstar ARC Review: How to Disappear

Rockstar ARC Review: How to DisappearHow to Disappear by Ann Redisch Stampler
Published by Simon Pulse on June 14th 2016
Genres: suspense, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Free for Review
4.5 Stars

This electric cross-country thriller follows the game of cat and mouse between a girl on the run from a murder she witnessed—or committed?—and the boy who’s sent to kill her.
Nicolette Holland is the girl everyone likes. Up for adventure. Loyal to a fault. And she’s pretty sure she can get away with anything...until a young woman is brutally murdered in the woods near Nicolette’s house. Which is why she has to disappear.
Jack Manx has always been the stand-up guy with the killer last name. But straight A’s and athletic trophies can’t make people forget that his father was a hit man and his brother is doing time for armed assault. Just when Jack is about to graduate from his Las Vegas high school and head east for college, his brother pulls him into the family business with inescapable instructions: find this ruthless Nicolette Holland and get rid of her. Or else Jack and everyone he loves will pay the price.
As Nicolette and Jack race to outsmart each other, tensions—and attractions—run high. Told in alternating voices, this tightly plotted mystery and tense love story challenges our assumptions about right and wrong, guilt and innocence, truth and lies.

This book was such a wild ride.

At first I really wasn’t sure how it was going to go. It starts out a little slow. There’s a lot of background and information to set up before the book really gets rolling. Plus, at the beginning, the two main characters haven’t met yet. So they are living their own lives. It’s all exposition and takes a little time.

Nicolette Holland and Jack Manx have such unique voices. I loved that this book plays out in alternating viewpoints. I loved being in each of their heads and seeing what they were really thinking. Plus I LOVED Jack. He’s a great guy trapped in a no win situation. He struggles to always do the right thing. This is despite the fact that he grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and everyone judges him based on who his father is. Nicolette, on the other hand, starts out as the perfect daughter. She’s beautiful, straight A’s, star cheerleader and has everything going for her. She doesn’t have the background or the family knowledge, but when everything goes to hell, her street smarts are impressive.

This book really reminded me of Gone Girl. It’s complicated with a quick pace. You definitely won’t get bored!  If you are a fan of suspense or thrillers, then this is the book for you.

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4.5 Stars

Debut Author Bash: Emily Skrutski

Debut Author Bash: Emily Skrutski

Debut Author Bash: Emily SkrutskiThe Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
Series: The Abyss Surrounds Us #1
Published by Flux on February 8th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Sci Fi
Pages: 273

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.
There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.
But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she's not about to stop.

For the second year, I’m thrilled to be participating in the YaReads New Author Bash! Hosted by Ya Reads, this is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate new authors! I won the lottery and I’m so excited to introduce Emily Skrutskie! I just love the book, The Abyss Surrounds Us and I’m so excited to have her on my blog today! 

What was your writing process for TASU? How long did it take you to write?

I actually wrote TASU during the spring semester of my junior year of college. I kept a consistent but relatively light schedule—I tried to write at least 300 words every day, stealing time between classes and before I collapsed in bed each night. It was my most difficult semester of college academically, and it seems impossible that I somehow passed all my classes AND wrote a book at the same time.

Which character do you think is most like you? How about the character that is least like yourself?

As a fellow blue-eyed, bad-haired, ridiculously self-sacrificing, will-do-anything-for-approval person, I’m going to have to go with Swift. Least like me is a trickier question, since I feel like I infused bits of myself into every character in some way or another. Maybe Lemon—Lemon rarely speaks unless necessary, and I’m always unnecessarily speaking.

Is there any news about a sequel or a companion novel to TASU?

The sequel has been written. Things are in motion. Beyond that, I can’t say, but I really appreciate everyone’s patience! It’s coming!

What authors inspire you and why?

Maggie Stiefvater for her ridiculously good writing and characters. Leigh Bardugo for her rich worlds and richer wit. Victoria Schwab for her sense of rhythm and her hustle.

Tell us about your journey to get TASU published. Did you always know that you were going to be an author?

I always knew I wanted to be an author, but it was a bit of a surprise when that dream started coming true all of a sudden during my senior year of college. I had been querying books with the intent of getting published since I was fifteen, and TASU was my third. But unusually enough, my editor actually scouted me at an online writing conference and made an offer on TASU before I had even started to query! So I kind of went into this publishing thing backwards, but it worked out!

Do you have any pets? I would love to see pictures!

I don’t have any pets, but I live with my parents and they have a dog! Here’s a picture of us hanging out:

Where can we find more information about you and your books on the web?

My website is, and you can always reach out to me on Twitter at @skrutskie!

Awesome Indies: Omnilogos by Michele Amitrani

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For more information, check out the Awesome Indies page

Awesome Indies: Omnilogos by Michele AmitraniOmnilogos: Extended Edition (The Omnilogos Series Book 1) by Michele Amitrani
on September 16. 2015
Genres: Sci Fi
Pages: 265

“I am a collector of hopes and peregrine truths, a shepherd of thoughts, ideas, projects and dreams too important not to be realized. I’m an abstract concept that has no body, no smell, no boundaries, no shape and no color.
I am the Omnilogos.”

So it is forged, a Science Fiction saga that gave birth to a legend, a tale about the life of a man with one project that will change mankind’s future forever. Ten stories about his life, his sorrow, and his quest to gather the resources and the people needed to claim our place among the stars.

This is Wei’s story.

This is the world of the Omnilogos.

How long did this book take you to write?

Omnilogos was not an easy book to write. Lot of researches had to be done to make the story sound believable and compelling. I wrote the book in Italian first (I was born and raised in Italy, English is just my second language). It took me around three years and a half to finish writing it. I then decided to translate it into English by myself and to have it revised by several beta readers and proofreaders, a process that took another full year. Let’s say around four years to have the final product (Omnilogos: Extended Edition) ready to be published the way I really wanted.

How do you develop your plots and characters?

The way I develop my plots is slowly evolving and becoming more systematized, so to speak. With Omnilogos, for instance, I usually wrote a chapter having in mind primarily the next chapter, or the previous one, with just a general idea of the overall plot. However with its sequel, Pelargonium, and the following books of the series, I’m trying to develop the whole plot first, and then write the single chapters. I don’t always succeed in doing this. Sometimes I just can’t help to write a chapter, and restructure part of the plot around it. So I guess the answer to your question is: ‘I don’t always craft the story, usually the story craft itself’. The way I develop my characters, on the other hand, remained pretty much the same over the years. My characters develop as I write them. I almost never have any character figure out before I actually write about them. It’s what I might call a ‘create as you go’ kind of approach, but I’ve noticed that this is what keeps me wanting to know more about them. It’s like exploring an unknown cave, and getting familiar to it as you procede further, rather than simply walking inside a house you builded from scratch. Not sure If what I say makes any sense to you. I can be quite confusing, at times 🙂

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

Over the years I realized that when some people think of the ‘writing process’, they picture the writer sitting in front of a desk, sipping coffee or tea, silence surrounding everything, and the words pouring out of the pen effortlessly. I know this because I used to be one of these people. When I was a teenager I would write only if I felt inspired and there were the ‘right’ conditions. Now that I became a self-published author, and I decided to meet deadlines and to publish at least one book per year, my ‘writing sessions’ became much more similar to a wrestling match. This ‘new phase’ began precisely when I decided to publish Omnilogos. If I’ve learned anything from writing this book is that I have to fight to get every single word out, and when they do come out I almost always don’t like them, so I have to rewrite the whole thing, over and over again. If you think this sucks well…it does! I remember once I heard an interview of a popular author (I can’t remember his name) who described the entire writing process as a painful experience. He actually used the word ‘sucks’ and I think I know what he meant. Writing a book is really hard, especially if you don’t have a really strong reason to finish it. Sometimes you just want to quit, to abandon you story and let it die. I have a huge respect for every single author that actually finish to write a book and publish it. I know the effort behind the whole process.

Is any part of the book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

Omnilogos opens with Wei watching the departure of the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifting off from Cape Canaveral. I myself was there for that historic event, the last Space Shuttle to depart from Earth, and I have to admit I was really inspired by that moment. In a way, the departure of the Atlantis was what ignited the whole Omnilogos Series.

What book are you reading now?

I’m reading a fantasy saga written by Robert Jordan. It’s called ‘The Wheel of Time’, and I have to say that so far it’s one of the best book series I’ve ever read. It is easily becoming one of my favorite series. It’s engaging, incredibly well written and full of plot twists. I’m now about to finish the seventh book of the Series. Every book is quite big (usually around 800-1000 pages long) so it seems like I’ve been reading the Wheel of Time for ages, although I actually started the Series less than two years ago. I highly recommend it to Fantasy fans!

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I’m currently writing the third book of the Omnilogos Series (in Italian). I’m planning to publish it at the end of 2016. The second book of the Omnilogos Series, Pelargonium, was released three months ago. Of course I will need to translate it from Italian into English. The only problem is that Pelargonium is three times bigger than Omnilogos. That means that if I translate it by myself the way I did with Omnilogos, it will take around three years to complete the translation. Now that I think about it, do you know any good translator? 🙂

How much research do you do?

I try to be as accurate as possible, especially when I’m talking about something I’m not familiar with. For instance, in Omnilogos I describe an object which could be used to make space exploration less expansive and more viable. I knew nothing about this specific object, and I figured I needed to study more to actually sound like I knew what I was talking about. Therefore, before writing the portion of the book that presented this object, I decided to read a few essays, watch documentaries, Youtube videos, check out Reddit trends and forums in order to familiarize with the idea. I do the same every time I fell that a deeper knowledge is required to make the story flow better.

Do you have a set writing schedule that you adhere to? / Tell us how you write

I try to write every day, except on weekends, a period of time usually dedicated to develop the plot, rather than to actually write the story. This choice also helps me to pause and to reflect on what I wrote so far, while I try to strengthen the story or enrich it with new concepts. I usually write around 6000 words per week (rarely more than 30,000 per month). My all time record is 61,700 words written on July 2015. I like to keep track of how much I write every day, to be able to compare every month’s achievement. I believe this is also the way I remind myself that writing a book is like building a castle. It’s not something you achieve in a day or two. It takes time and effort. You have to be the first person to believe in your story. Discipline and passion are the two things that keep me from abandon everything.

If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?

One person who reviewed Omnilogos said quite simply that: “The Omnilogos Series makes people wonder about the future of the human race and what opportunities the stars might hold.” And another one commented: “One way to think about this novel is that it is a story of dreaming with the objective of reaching the stars. With every dream of this magnitude, however, there is a price to pay…” I think these two phrases summarize very well the entire concept of the Series. Omnilogos tells us of what the humanity could become, if we’ll ever aspire to become a spacefaring civilization.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

You can find me on my website, browsing books on Goodreads or hanging out on Facebook at /MicheleAmitraniAuthor. Thank you again for giving me the chance to speak about myself and my books, Emily.

Blog: (in Italian)
Amazon Author Page:

Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.)


ARC Review: Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies

ARC Review: Rocks Fall, Everyone DiesRocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar
Published by Kathy Dawson Books on June 7th 2016
Genres: Magical Realism
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Free for Review
3.5 Stars

Twin Peaks meets Stars Hollow in this paranormal suspense novel about a boy who can reach inside people and steal their innermost things—fears, memories, scars, even love—and his family’s secret ritual that for centuries has kept the cliff above their small town from collapsing.
Aspen Quick has never really worried about how he’s affecting people when he steals from them. But this summer he’ll discover just how strong the Quick family magic is—and how far they’ll go to keep their secrets safe.
With a smart, arrogant protagonist, a sinister family tradition, and an ending you won’t see coming, this is a fast-paced, twisty story about power, addiction, and deciding what kind of person you want to be, in a family that has the ability to control everything you are.

Someday, I want to do a post about books that are completely misrepresented by their covers. When I do that, this book will be at the top of the list. From the cover, I thought that this was a MG or maybe a contemporary. I did not expect it to be a YA book and when I discovered it was a Magical Realism or Fantasy book I was gobsmacked. Nothing about the cover makes me think that at all. An ugly cover doesn’t make it less likely I will read a book. Still, the cover design helps me make assumptions about what sort of book I’m reading.

I really loved the premise. Aspen has one of the neatest and also most unsettling superpowers I’ve ever heard of. He is able to Reach. He reaches inside of people, either through touching them or through a personal object that someone has loved. Then, he can steal anything from a person. Aspen can rip someone’s sense of competition, their joy of swimming, their righthandedness or even their love right out of their head. This power really got into my head. It’s powerful enough just being able to sense all of these personal emotions and abilities through touch. The ability to rip them away and change someone is downright sinister.

Aspen has too much power for one teenage boy and he acts like it. Aspen is no Spiderman. With great power, comes great responsibility and Aspen abuses it. He was a hard main character to like. It was difficult to watch him act immorally and selfishly, messing with people for his own benefit. It was difficult to read but easy to identify with. Like a poor rich boy cursed with affluence, Aspen can use his power to gain and do whatever he wants.

Everything about this forms an incredible backdrop for the story. Unfortunately for me, the story didn’t live up to the set up. I didn’t find anything else in this book as interesting or compelling as Aspen’s magic. This is a tale of redemption but it felt flat. With as unsettling as Aspen’s influence is over everything in his life, I expected the world and the story to be painted in broad strokes. Instead it was overpowered. There is an outside conflict but it feels tacked on and uninteresting. Whether it was intentional or not, Aspen ends up being both the hero and the villain in this story with a very vague and insubstantial ending.

3.5 Stars

FFBC ARC Review: Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh

FFBC ARC Review: Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh

FFBC ARC Review: Ivory and Bone by Julie EshbaughIvory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh
Series: Ivory and Bone #1
Published by HarperTeen on June 7th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Free for Review
3.5 Stars

A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.
Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.
As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.

Ivory and Bone is billed as Prehistoric Fantasy. I think it’s interesting because it sparked a lot of conversation about what fantasy is. Also how books get marketed and placed into a genre. Without any real information, we decided it was probably up to publisher discretion. In my mind, the hallmark of a fantasy novel is magic or a setting that is in a different location than our world. If that’s the case then I would say that Ivory and Bone, isn’t fantasy. It’s not a bad book, but it is more historical fiction than it is fantasy.

Whether it was fantasy or historical, the setting was my favorite part of this book. I can’t think of another book that’s set in a prehistoric world. Kol spends his time hunting Sabre Tooth Tigers, Mammoths, and canoeing. People live in different tribes that all live differently. Some tribes are Nomadic, following the mammoths. Others focus on canoeing and fishing. Kol’s tribe have settled into a permanent camp of hunters and gatherers. The story starts when they receive a visit from another tribe.

I just didn’t connect with this book. It’s well written but I didn’t feel like there was emotion behind the words. There’s nothing wrong with the book itself but reading it didn’t have any effect on me either.


Amazon paperback
Barnes & Noble (B&N)

JulieJulie  Eshbaugh is the author of the upcoming Ivory and Bone (HarperCollins, 2016). She used to have trouble staying in one spot, having lived in places as varied as Utah, France, and New York City. Julie eventually returned home to the Philadelphia area, where she now lives with her husband, son, cat and dog. Her favorite moments are when the unexpected happens and she cheers loudest when the pitcher gets a hit.





May 30th

May 31st

Vibin With Books – Review + Favorite Quotes
Bittersweet Reads – Review + Favorite Quotes

June 1st

A Leisure Moment – Review + Playlist + Dream Cast
A Thousand Words A Million Books – Review + Favorite Quotes
Downright Dystopian – Review + Dream Cast

June 2nd

Under Covers  – Interview
Library of a Book Witch – Review + Playlist
The Candid Cover – Review + Playlist + Dream Cast
Fishing for Books – Review
Lazy Book Lovers – Review

June 3rd

Daydreaming Books – Review
A Backwards Story – Review
Ruth Reads – Review
Novel Ink – Review

June 4th

Mara Was Here – Review
The Recipe Fairy – Review

June 5th

Mama Bear Reads – Review + Favorite Quotes
Writer For Misfits – Review + Favorite Quotes
Next Page Please! – Review + Favorite Quotes

June 6th

Reads and Thoughts – Guest Post
Curling Up With A Good Book – Review + Favorite Quotes
Ink of Blood – Review
3.5 Stars