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Category: Young Adult (page 1 of 2)

REVOLT by Tracy Lawson

The Explosive Conclusion to the Award-Winning Resistance Series     

To Deny Freedom is to Deny the Human Spirit.

Fugitive Resistance fighter Tommy Bailey has come out of hiding to help rescue Careen Catecher from the clutches of the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense, where she’s been held and interrogated for information about the rebel group. The OCSD is poised to launch the Cerberean Link, a security device that will put all minors under constant surveillance under the guise of protecting them.

Fearful that OCSD director Madalyn Davies’s bid for control won’t stop there, the Resistance puts its own plan in motion to sabotage the Link and oust Madalyn from the directorship. Just when everything seems leveraged in the Resistance’s favor, treachery, lies, and long-held secrets threaten to derail it all.

Will even a life together on the run be impossible for Tommy and Careen? Or will the Resistance’s efforts convince the public to put their fears aside and demand freedom?

Thanks to author Tracy Lawson,  GTB was lucky to score an interview with one of the main characters of REVOLT! Here is her story:

When we first meet Careen Catecher of the Resistance Series, she’s a first-semester college freshman at a prestigious university. But in Careen’s world, most of the freedoms that today’s young adults enjoy have been curtailed, in the name of preventing terrorist attacks. The Civilian Restrictions that have been in place nearly all of Careen’s life forbid people to gather in public places. Cash has been eliminated, and any buying or selling of items between individuals is not permitted. Only a select few, mostly high-ranking government workers, are granted driving privileges, and even grocery stores have been outlawed to protect the food supply from being tainted. Yet somehow, the OCSD’s efforts haven’t worked. As the story opens, the OCSD makes the public aware of a looming threat that will change Careen’s life forever.

Careen is at the center of the action in Counteract, Resist, Ignite, and now Revolt, the fourth and final book in the Resistance Series. She’s answered some questions about how she went from scholarship student to freedom fighter.

 

 

1) What was it like growing up under the OCSD’s Restrictions? In my earliest memories, I’d have to guess that my life wasn’t all that different from anyone else’s. We weren’t rich, but no one in our neighborhood was. My parents owned a café. I can remember when the Restrictions relating to food sales went into effect, and it got harder to obtain the variety of foods they’d been used to. They had to take a lot of things off the menu, and once people were required to subscribe to meal plans through the government, hardly anyone could afford to eat out. If terrorists hadn’t bombed the plaza and destroyed the restaurant, I’m pretty sure it would have gone out of business on its own.

 

I was nine years old when it happened. My dad and I had gone over to the café, on an evening when it was closed. I don’t even remember why anymore. We were inside when the bomb went off, and by the time rescue workers found us, my dad had bled out. My childhood ended that day. After that, it was just my mom and myself, and somehow, I became the adult in the family.

 

2) Did you have a favorite toy or game when you were little? I loved books more than anything. They were my escape from my not-so-happy teen years when I didn’t fit in with my peers. I did keep one toy, a stuffed animal cat from when I was little. Dee Dat went to college with me in my duffel bag. It was the only truly personal thing I took with me when I left home.

 

3) What’s the best thing about being a member of the Resistance? I think I’m truly following my heart for the first time in my life. I understand now that a lot of my discontent stemmed from helplessness. I had learned early to hide my feelings, and I believed that the only way to get along in the world was to shut other people out and be self-centered. Just before I became aware of the Resistance, I realized that the problems that affected me were everyone’s problems—not just mine. When I had the opportunity to speak out and tell the truth, I was too angry to be afraid.

 

4) What’s the worst thing? I never got used to feeling like I was on display and recognizable—especially when Tommy and I were on the run after I was accused of a murder I didn’t commit. I was terrified of being captured by the OCSD and going to jail. When we became part of the Resistance, it was my job to reach out to the public and share our message in a series of bootleg anti-government videos. But the worst thing was when being a recognizable member of the Resistance backfired on me. Big time.

 

5) What happened? You’ll have to read the series to find out!

 

6) What do you miss about your old life? Not much. (laughs) I guess that shows how low my expectations were, doesn’t it? After my dad died, I wanted someone I could count on to take care of me. That didn’t happen, so I learned to rely on myself, and I guess I became kind of a control freak. I convinced myself that a good education and a good job were the only things that would lead me to the kind of life I wanted. So there I was, in my first semester of college, on my way to realizing my goals. When the OCSD announced the chemical weapons threat, I was afraid not to take the antidote because I couldn’t ignore the danger.

And I never went back to class. Even though my life was more out of control that it had ever been, the antidote had a kind of lulling effect, so I didn’t care.

 

7) What about romantic involvement? A relationship wasn’t part of my plan. But I can say that the heart of my story isn’t whom I choose to love, but that I choose to love, in spite of everything that’s going on in the world around me. When I first met Tommy, I didn’t want to get close to him because I thought I’d get hurt. But that changed after I got to know him. One of the things I like best about Tommy is he keeps me from taking myself too seriously.

8) So do you see a future with him? Whether we’ll end up together is pretty up in the air, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings for him. It’s so confusing, because Tommy’s hard to resist, you know? He’s cute and funny, and really charming when he wants to be. He promised to always protect me, but that was a promise he couldn’t keep. Without giving any spoilers, I can say our trust level is at an all-time low as Tommy and I head into the final book in the series. We need to work past that, and it’s difficult.

 

I can’t believe we’ve only known each other a few months. The day we met was the day of the supposed chemical weapons attack. We’d run out of the antidote that was supposed to keep us safe from the airborne poison, and I was so sure we were going to die. But he didn’t put the moves on me or invoke the “what if we die tomorrow?” cliché. Instead, we sat up late talking, getting to know each other. When we didn’t succumb to the poison, we tried to figure out why. We saw what the antidote was doing to the people who were still taking it, and we realized the real threat came from the OCSD, not the supposed terrorists.

 

After we detoxed, it was like we were the only people on earth. Everyone else, well, besides the quadrant marshals and some of the government workers, was high on the antidote. Tommy and I learned to rely on each other, and as I grew to care deeply about him, we also came to realize there was no way to escape our situation. It was only a matter of time before we ended up in jail or were forced into the civilian army. We sought comfort in each other, and to be honest, he didn’t seem to mind when I made the first move. (winks) Even though I committed my heart to Tommy that day, I’m not clingy or dependent. I can think for myself. Tommy and I don’t agree on a lot of things.

 

9) So what is happening in Revolt? Again, I can’t get into plot specifics, but the OCSD has developed the Cerberean Link, a GPS tracking and monitoring device, which they say is the ultimate tool to keep children safe. Many people think it’s another plan to control the population. I’m in a tough position because I can see both sides of the issue and understand why parents would be desperate to try and protect their children. I wish someone had been able to protect me when I was little. The Resistance is extremely opposed to sentencing innocent children to a lifetime of surveillance, and puts its own plan in motion to sabotage the Link and oust Madalyn Davies from her job as the OCSD director. Just when it seems like the Resistance’s plan is going to work, things spin out of control.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”099661088X” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Visit Tracy Lawson on Instagram: @tracylawsonauthor or Facebook!

Exclusive Interview with Tommy Bailey (from COUNTERACT, RESIST, and IGNITE)

 

Ignite 004In 2034, Americans live in constant fear of the threat of terrorism, and the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense has guarded the public with an ever-expanding list of Civilian Restrictions designed to increase security. There’s no social media. No one is allowed to gather in public places or attend concerts or sporting events. Only a small, select group of adults have driving privileges. It’s a small price to pay for safety.
Despite all that, eighteen-year-old Tommy Bailey had a pretty good life, up until the summer he graduated from high school. Since then, things have been rough: he’s alone and struggling to recover from a serious injury sustained in the auto accident that killed his parents. While his friends prepare to head off to university, he’s learning to walk again.
Just when Tommy feels as though he’s regained some control over his shattered life, he wakes to the wail of a disaster siren. A chemical weapons attack is imminent, but the OCSD is ready with an antidote to the poison, which they’re providing free of charge. Three drops a day is all it takes. But is the antidote designed to protect—or is it part of the problem?

Tommy  Bailey  has  anchored  the  cast  in  Counteract,  Resist,  and  now  Ignite,  the  first   three  books  in  the  Resistance  Series.  Recently,  I  got  the  chance  to  ask  him  some   questions  about  how  he  went  from  law-­‐abiding  citizen  to  freedom  fighter:

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1)  What  was  it  like,  growing  up  under  the  strict  control  of  the  Office  of  Civilian   Safety  and  Defense?  It’s  funny  you  ask  what  it  was  like  to  grow  up  under  the   thumb  of  the  Office  of  Civilian  Safety  and  Defense.  The  OCSD  really  took  hold  in   2019,  when  I  was  only  three  years  old,  so  I’ve  never  known  what  it  was  like  to  live   without  the  Restrictions-­‐-­‐until  now.  I  guess  my  life  was  pretty  close  to  what  you’d   think  of  as  normal.  I  see  now  just  how  hard  my  mom  tried  to  shelter  me  from  what   was  really  going  on.  My  dad  was  an  attorney  and  activist  who  opposed  the  creation   of  the  OCSD  and  spoke  out  against  their  policies,  but  my  parents  didn’t  talk  about  it   at  home-­‐-­‐at  least  in  front  of  me.  I  grew  up  going  to  school  and  playing  sports.  We   lived  in  an  area  that  still  had  a  few  restaurants  and  shops,  and  now  I  understand   that  it  wasn’t  like  that  for  everyone.  I  guess  our  quadrant  had  a  lot  of  people  who   were  rich.  Our  community’s  social  status-­‐-­‐and  our  compliance  with  the  Restrictions-­‐ -­‐were  what  allowed  us  to  have  those  kinds  of  luxuries.

2)  What  games  did  you  like  to  play  as  a  child?  I  wasn’t  big  on  computer  games  or   anything.  Once  they  shut  down  access  to  the  internet,  nobody  spent  much  time  on   computers.  Football  was  always  the  thing  for  me.  When  the  OCSD  announced  they   were  phasing  out  school  sports  and  banning  spectators  in  college  and  pro  games,  my   dad  was  really  upset.  At  the  time  I  thought  it  was  because  Dad  was  hoping  I’d  play   pro  someday,  but  I  found  out  later  that  the  Restriction  wasn’t  about  keeping  people   safe  from  terrorist  attacks.  It  sounds  crazy,  but  you  gotta  understand  we  were  told   that  gathering  at  stadiums,  movie  theaters,  and  malls  made  us  potential  targets,  and   we  were  safer  viewing  and  shopping  from  our  homes.  Anyway,  Lowell  Stratford,  who  was  the  OCSD  director  at  the  time,  was  trying  to  get  my  dad  to  back  off  and  quit   speaking  out  against  the  OCSD.  Stratford  said  publicly  people  should  ‘blame  Tom   Bailey’  for  all  the  attacks  and  attention  we  were  getting  from  terrorists.  Stratford   knew  associating  my  father’s  name  with  the  taking  away  of  access  to  the   entertainment  and  sports  people  loved  would  hurt  his  cause,  and  make  him  a  less   powerful  opponent.     Luckily,  my  high  school  took  their  time  about  phasing  out  sports,  and  I  got  to  play   my  senior  year.  I  wasn’t  super-­‐motivated  to  play  college  ball,  though.  Now  I  regret  my  lack  of  motivation.  I  like  to  think  I  could’ve  contributed  to  a  team  at  that  level,   but  I  was  just  coasting  through  those  last  months  of  high  school,  ignoring  my   parents’  prodding.  Then,  that  summer  after  graduation,  everything  changed.  My   family  was  in  an  auto  accident,  and  I  lost  both  my  parents.  My  right  leg  was   mangled-­‐-­‐it  took  four  surgeries,  and  still  the  doctors  weren’t  sure  if  I’d  ever  walk   normally,  let  alone  run,  again.  Eventually  I  stopped  feeling  sorry  for  myself  and  got   into  the  physical  therapy,  and  I  was  getting  better.  I  was  on  the  verge  of  feeling  like   myself  again-­‐-­‐not  exactly  like  I  was  before,  but  you  know,  like  I  could  feel  whole   again  someday.  Then  the  chemical  weapons  threat  came  up,  and  bam.  Taking  the   antidote  killed  my  motivation.  I  quit  working  on  my  recovery.

3)  What  does  the  antidote  CSD taste  like?  The  antidote  is  bitter.  It  tastes  like   something  you  wouldn’t  take  if  you  didn’t  have  to.  Did  they  do  that  on  purpose?  To   make  us  think  it  was  like  some  kind  of  medicine,  something  we  really  needed  to  stay   safe?  If  they’d  made  it  taste  like  candy,  maybe  we  wouldn’t  have  taken  it  seriously.

4)  What  did  it  feel  like  when  you  took  the  first  dose?  When  I  took  my  first  dose,  I   was  also  on  some  heavy  pain  meds,  and  the  whole  experience  was  pretty  trippy.  I   thought  I  was  out  on  the  lake,  in  a  boat,  where  we  used  to  go  on  holiday  when  I  was   a  kid.  Other  times,  it  rained  inside  the  house.  Grass  grew  out  of  the  TV.  But  none  of   that  seemed  strange.  On  the  antidote,  you  just  kind  of  roll  with  whatever  happens  to   you.  Well,  on  Phase  One,  that  is.  Phase  Two  was  different.  Stronger.  I  don’t   remember  much  about  what  happened  when  they  upped  our  doses.  Careen  told  me   some  things  that  make  me  glad  I  was  totally  checked  out.

5)  What  is  it  like,  being  part  of  the  Resistance?  Life  in  the  Resistance?  Let’s  just   say  I  had  no  idea  what  I  was  getting  into.  I  can’t  believe  I  was  that  oblivious  to  what   was  going  on  in  the  world  around  me,  but  like  I  told  you  before,  I  never  considered   blowing  off  the  Restrictions  and  refusing  to  do  what  the  OCSD  told  us  to  do.  They   said  it  was  the  only  way  to  survive  the  chemical  weapons  attack.  The  day  Careen   and  I  ran  out  of  the  antidote  was  kind  of  the  point  of  no  return  for  both  of  us.  We   realized  we  weren’t  going  to  die;  then  we  started  to  wonder  if  we  were  the  only   ones  who’d  stopped  taking  the  antidote.  It  became  obvious  that  something  was   really  wrong  when  we  saw  what  the  antidote  was  doing  to  other  people.  Then  we   made  contact  with  the  Resistance  and  before  I  had  time  to  think,  we  were  going   along  on  a  mission  to  rescue  some  people  who’d  been  detained  for  opposing  the   OCSD’s  policies.  Things  got  a  little  messy  while  we  were  at  their  headquarters  in  the  capital.  Now,  we’re  fugitives.  We  can’t  go  back  to  being  anonymous,  even  if  we   wanted  to.

6)  What  do  you  miss  about  your  old  life?  My  old  life  seems  like  a  dream.  I  miss   playing  football  and  knowing  it’s  all  just  a  game,  not  a  matter  of  life  and  death.  I  miss   sleeping  in  and  being  lazy.  I  miss  not  worrying.  Now  I’m  watching  my  back  all  the   time,  ’cause  I’ve  realized  you  can’t  trust  anyone-­‐-­‐and  that  includes  other  members  of   the  Resistance.  I  feel  responsible  for  Careen  and  some  of  the  others.  But  I  can  handle   it.  Physically,  I’m  strong  again.  My  skills  are  needed.

 

047)  Do  you  have  any  long-­‐term  plans  with  Careen?  Careen  showed  up  on  my  front   porch  one  morning.  I’d  seen  her  around,  I  think,  and  she’d  been  in  a  couple  of  my   dreams.  She  seemed  to  have  some  connection  to  me,  too,  but  later  we  realized  she   was  being  manipulated  by  a  member  of  the  quadrant  marshals,  who  was  using  her   to  find  out  if  I  was  carrying  on  my  father’s  work  against  the  OCSD-­‐-­‐which  I  wasn’t!  The  day  we  met  was  also  the  day  we  ran  out  of  antidote.  I  remember  sitting  there   with  her,  believing  we  were  going  to  die  from  the  poison,  and  wishing  more  than   anything  that  it  was  an  ordinary  day  when  I  could  meet  a  girl  and  not  have  to  think   about  dying.  Careen’s  smart  and  brave,  and  she’s  been  through  some  rough  times;   it’s  not  easy  for  her  to  trust  anyone.  Even  though  we  stuck  together  while  we   detoxed  and  tried  to  figure  out  what  was  going  on,  she  kept  me  at  arm’s  length.  That   was  okay;  I  was  willing  to  be  patient  until  she  was  ready  to  trust  me.  Things  got  more  dangerous,  and  before  long  we  realized  there  was  no  escape  for  us.   The  Quadrant  Marshals  were  looking  for  Careen,  and  it  was  only  a  matter  of  time   before  we’d  be  arrested  and  forced  into  the  OCSD’s  civilian  army.    There  was  no   reason  not  to…um,  you  know…and  we  did.  Maybe  things  between  us  moved  too  fast,   but  that  connection  between  us  is  real.  I  think  I  love  her.  I  know  I  want  her.  We’re   still  getting  to  know  each  other;  we  don’t  always  agree,  and  yeah,  we  fight   sometimes,  and  it  ticks  me  off  that  one  of  the  other  guys  in  the  Resistance  is  trying   to  put  the  moves  on  her  when  he  knows  she’s  my  girl.  Oh-­‐-­‐but  long-­‐term?  Sure.  It’s   just  not  practical  to  plan  too  far  into  the  future.

 

8)  What’s  happening  in  Ignite?  Man,  it’s  hard  to  do  this  without  spoilers!  Right   now,  umm,  Careen  and  I  aren’t  together,  and  by  that  I  mean  we’re  not  in  the  same   location.  But  I’m  gonna  fix  that.  My  feelings  for  her  haven’t  changed.    I’m  more  determined  than  ever  to  stick  with  the  Resistance  and  overthrow  the   OCSD,  even  if  I  don’t  always  agree  with  how  other  members  of  the  Resistance   choose  to  advance  their  goals.  At  the  moment,  Jaycee,  who’s  the  daughter  of  one  of   the  Resistance  leaders,  has  stepped  up  to  fill  the  void  left  by  some  of  the  people   we’ve  lost.  She’s  awfully  young,  but  she’s  been  waiting  for  the  revolution  all  her  life.   We’re  going  to  need  everyone  in  the  Resistance  to  work  together  if  we’re  going  to  sabotage the OCSD’s latest plan to control the people.


Wonder which Resistance series character YOU are? Take this fun quiz!

 

CRIMINAL Excerpt/Author Interview/Giveaway!!!

Criminal-Low-Res-Cover

Following the horrors she discovered in the basement of Sanctuary at the end of Breeder, there is no longer any doubt in Pria’s mind that the Unified World Order is wicked. But convincing the rest of the world will be another story. When it’s revealed the files she’d stolen from Sanctuary are worthless, Pria and the other Free Patriots must scramble to come up with another way to convince everyone to rise up in open revolution before the UWO’s monsters destroy them all. But Pria’s tenuous grasp of human nature complicates her role in the rebellion as she finds herself torn between Pax, her ever-present protector, and Henri, her good-natured friend.

A new scheme to infiltrate the seemingly impregnable UWO machine places Pria once again at the centre of the plan. This time, though, she must be willing to erase her identity, It’s a sacrifice she thinks she’s ready to make, but she has no idea just how difficult it will be.

 

Welcome to the GTB blog tour of CRIMINAL by KB Hoyle. The title is actually an acrostic:

C is for Commune. Pria and some others go on a mission to Denver Commune.

R is for Remembrance. Pria struggles to remember who she is.

I is for Incriminating evidence. Pax goes to trial and Etienne stand trial.

M is for Making a move. The Free Patriots decide to make their move against the UWO.

I is for Illness. Pax hides a mystery illness.

N is for New friends. Pria makes a couple of new friends at Asylum.

A is for Awkward romantic tension between Pria and Pax, and Pria and Henri.

L is for Love. Pria learns what love is.


 

Here is an exclusive excerpt:

I wake confused and chilled to the bone. My blankets have slid to the floor off the side of the bed, and the air in the cave feels like it’s dropped ten degrees since the day before. I scoot to the edge of the bed to try to retrieve my blankets, but I hear a gravelly voice say, “I’ll get them. Don’t move.”

A moment later, Henri spreads them back over me, and I smile in gratitude. The lights are dim and everything is quiet, but I hear soft breathing on my other side as well. I look over to see Pax, fast asleep. They’ve both stayed the night.

“How are you feeling?” Henri asks in the same gravelly whisper. “Need more pain medication?”

“No,” I whisper back. Whatever they gave me, it must have been strong. I can feel only a dull ache beneath the fresh wrappings on my thigh and wrist. “What time is it?”

“Almost morning.” Henri rubs a hand over my buzzed hair. A smile tugs at the corners of his mouth. “You’re almost as bald as I am,” he says. “Still beautiful, though.” He leans down and presses his lips to my forehead.

I’m too stunned to say anything, but I shrink back slightly, into my pillow. His familiarity confuses me, sets me on edge, even as it also spreads warmth through me. I glance over at Pax, prompting Henri to do the same. He straightens and, without another word, returns to his chair. It’s identical to the one Pax is slumped in, asleep with his hand on his forehead.

I try to turn over onto my side and find I can’t. Movement in my injured leg is restricted and painful. I sigh in frustration. My back hurts from lying in one position for too long, and I’m certain I won’t be able to fall back asleep.

Henri said it’s almost morning. What will the morning hold? Release from the infirmary, hopefully. Holly’s test before Luther? Probably. If he didn’t see to that last night while I slept. I wonder if he’ll want Pax and me to participate in her interrogation.

I’m surprised Luther hasn’t come to see me yet. I would think he’d be interested in the intelligence he sent me into Sanctuary to retrieve. Maybe he’s too distracted with the files transferred via the hack.

Someone pushes a cart past the curtain of my room, and the wheels clatter over the uneven rocky floor. All I can see of it are the glinting silver spokes. Who else is here, injured, with me? What do these people do all the time?

It strikes me how little I actually know about the people with whom I’ve chosen to identify.

“Henri?” I whisper. “Are you still awake?”

“Hmmm.” He sounds just barely so.

“Did Holly get her wrist treated last night? She’s not in a holding cell, is she?”

“Probably, yeah. But don’t worry. They’ll have taken care of her wrist.”

I chew my lip, thinking, remembering what it was like for me when I first left Sanctuary. “She’s going to be confused, you know . . . scared. I hope I can see her today.”

There’s a rustle of clothing as Henri leans forward. “What makes you think you can trust her, Pria? Isn’t it kind of convenient that she just showed up right before you fled Sanctuary? How do you know she’s not a spy for the UWO?”

I wrinkle my nose. “Don’t do that.”

“Do what?”

“Try to make me doubt her. You weren’t there when we were trying to escape. I think she’s telling the truth.”

“If she’s not, we’re all screwed. There are any number of ways she could lead them right to us, and we’d never know it.”

“Stop.” I put my hands over my eyes. “You sound like Etienne.”

Another rustle of clothing and I feel Henri’s shadow fall over me. Then his cold hands touch mine, prying them away from my face. “Look at me, Pria.”

“No!” I struggle, but I don’t know why.

“Look at me!”

He wrenches my arms apart, and for a moment all I see is Henri’s friendly face twisted into an ugly grimace. Then he turns his head, and the dim light glints off a spot of gold in his ear.

Etienne.

I shriek and flail, but he’s holding my arms too tight for me to get away. I fling my head to the side, looking for Pax, but his chair is empty. The chill in the cave bites my skin, which is exposed. I’m dressed in only my undergarments.

“You can’t smuggle a bomb in here without my knowing it. There’s one easy way to find out if you’re a spy.” Etienne pins both my arms above my head with one hand and takes up a scalpel in the other. “I just have to perform a quick procedure.”

He draws the blade down my stomach, and the skin springs apart like a severed wire. The pain is excruciating, unbearable, beyond articulation. I watch in horror as he flings the blade aside, sending flecks of my blood flying across the room, and then digs his hand into the incision. He retracts his hand a moment later, holding a fist-sized metal contraption.

“See?” he shouts. “It’s a bomb! You were going to blow us all up!”

“No! I swear!”

A switch on the side of the bomb ticks up, and red lights start to blink. Faster, and faster, and faster.

“Now we’re all going to die,” Etienne says.

I scream. 


 

Below is an interview with the author, and at the end of the post there is a link to a GIVEAWAY!

kb_hoyle

 

 

 

 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

There are several messages, really, in Criminal, that I want my readers to grasp, but as an author, I never want the message to overtake the primary function of the novel—which is to entertain the reader. So obviously first and foremost, I want to just tell a good story, and for my reader to be carried along by the story and to have a good time reading it. As far as the message/messages go, I’d say the primary one in Criminal has to do with identity. I sought to answer the question of what makes us human? The main character, Pria, is faced with this question over and over in the story, even to the point where, by the end, her entire reality is shaken by some presuppositions she has about this question. Pria has to discover her personal identity, but she also has to figure out what she believes about the identity of others, and what that means about the human race and her part in the rebellion against the Unified World Order. These are big issues, and things I think we should all think about, even though we’re not living in a dystopian society.

 

How much of the book is realistic? 

I’d say this book is about 50% realistic. Obviously all the characters and the plot are fictionalized (and the concept of the Golems), but I base my settings and my conceptions of the future society off research I did into real technologies, conspiracy theories, my own knowledge of Denver and its surrounding areas, and just basic knowledge of human nature and my thoughts on future trends in society. I could see some of the sorts of things I write about coming to pass. Actually, some of the things I have written about in my books have come to pass already in the years since I started researching them. It’s a little frightening.

 

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 

This is a difficult question! Because by the time you get a book all the way to publication—especially when it has taken a long time (as this book has)—you tend not to wish that you could go back and change things. And my editing team does such a fantastic job of helping me tweak things. Hmmm. I guess, maybe, if I could go back, I would make the first act of the book a little shorter (so as to get to the main action faster), and the last act longer (so as to draw out the finale).

 

Can you share a little of “Criminal” with us? 

Here’s a short excerpt from what was one of my absolute favorite scenes to write. It falls about mid-story, and I won’t say too much so as not to spoil things, but this is a scene where Pria and Pax and some others from the rebel Nest Asylum are being attacked by Golems. It’s absolute chaos, and in the midst of it all, Pax and Pria get separated from the others. 

My spine grates over hard rock, and then my breath whooshes out of me as we leave the ground. For a moment, I think a Golem has lifted us, but then I hit a patch of gravel, hard, and my head cracks against a stone. With Pax on top of me, I can hardly breathe, and starbursts fill my vision.

The forest lights up with more starbursts and the zip-zip-zip of energy guns.

“Pria!” Pax slaps my cheek. He rolls off me, and I can breathe again. “Are you hurt? Can you hear me?”

The trees are lighting up. It’s beautiful.

“Pria!”

I cough and rake air into my lungs. I cough again and nod. Nodding hurts.

Aircraft circle above the trees like birds of prey, firing down on the Golems. One flies low, and a Golem snatches it out of the air. With a roar and a vicious shake, it flings the craft to the ground. The craft explodes, and bits of burning metal and flesh scatter, some of it reaching Pax and me where we lie just below a shelf of rock. I raise my arms to cover my face, but Pax leans over me, taking the brunt of it. A piece of something red-hot lands on my calf, and I kick it off.

More shots echo through the woods, followed by bellows and crashes. The Golems are being taken out.

I struggle to sit up, and Pax pulls me to his chest. “It will be over soon,” he says in my ear. He sounds so assured.

 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 

I used to find it challenging to discipline myself to do the planning and research I needed to work out a novel before I started writing it, so that would have been my old answer to this question, but I’ve progressed enough in my career now (I’ve written 9 novels—8 published and 1 on deck) that I’ve found my writing rhythm. I know the drill. I know how to research and outline and plan. I actually really relish all those steps. And I know when to start writing. All of that is, quite frankly, more or less easy. What is particularly challenging is my schedule—finding the time and just fighting exhaustion to get it all done. With four small children to mother (all boys and all 9 and under), a day job as a teacher, my website and social media platforms to manage, trips and speaking engagements to manage, my house to (attempt to) keep clean, meals to cook, and just all the regular things in life to get around to, the challenges I face are never (or rarely) IN the actual writing. The challenges are external to the writing, but they affect the writing. Finding the right balance where I can get all the work done and still get sleep and maintain healthy relationships and good health is difficult.

 

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing “Criminal” to life?

Aside from the external challenges mentioned above, I didn’t have too many of these challenges in bringing Criminal to life. It did take me much longer to write Criminal than it usually takes me to write a book, but that’s because I had just had a baby and was nursing at the time. I also battled a bout of post-partum depression while trying to write the book, which didn’t help me to be very productive, but on the other hand, staying actively engaged in a creative project was good for me at the time in battling depression. I didn’t have too much extra research to do because I was just building on the research and world-building I had already done for Breeder. I’d spent about three years prepping this whole series, The Breeder Cycle, so writing Criminal was really just a matter of going back to my notes and making sure I was still on track and following the plan.


Click the link below to be entered in the GIVEAWAY! One lucky reader will win a print copy of Criminal and Breeder by K.B. Hoyle!! Good luck!

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BOOK LAUNCH GIVEAWAY!!

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IGNITE: BOOK THREE OF THE RESISTANCE SERIES
BOOK LAUNCH GIVEAWAY
“Lawson creates a clever narrative where we know, without question, that the terrorists are the enemy. But soon we realize that those truly loyal to the country must rise up against the existing powers–effectively becoming terrorists themselves.”

 

Readers call the Resistance Series books “terrifying” and “eerily believable.”
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Q&A with FAIRMIST author, Todd Fahnestock

Fairmist website

The Debt of the Blessed:

Within the Thiaran Empire, citizens put on jeweled masks and turn away from those who are taken. As long as one child is sacrificed each month to the Slinks and nobody interferes, their society will thrive.

But seventeen-year-old Grei’s mind is alive with treason, and he plunges into the heart of a prophecy that will drive the Slinks back to their fiery dimension. All he must do is travel to the capitol city and sacrifice one last innocent. As Grei wrestles with the prophecy and battles those who would kill him, he hurtles toward his final decision: save the empire, or save his own soul.

 

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GTB was lucky enough to score an exclusive Q&A with author Todd Fahnestock! Here, he talks with us about his latest novel, FAIRMIST.

How did you come up with the idea for Fairmist?

Because of a girl. (Ain’t that always the way?) Back when I thought up the concept for Fairmist, most things were driven by a girl or the thought of a girl. Love lost. Or love that was never had in the first place. Fairmist was about the latter. I was enthralled with this amazing, sensual woman when I was in college. We had a smattering of passionate nights, but never officially dated. And so I thought up the idea: What if this mystical woman really did want to be with me but couldn’t because of a world-destroying prophecy that held her back? No spoilers here, as that’s not how the prophecy ended up working in the later drafts of the novel, but it was what precipitated the story.

 

Why Fairmist? Why not some other book?

The theme of the book is so applicable to our current world. And I love the medium of fantasy to give larger-than-life examples of our modern day troubles. Fairmist is all about lies and deception, and there are so many lies in our society. Some of them we swallow whole without ever questioning them. We accept the reality that is presented to us, go along with it just as long as it’s familiar, even if it’s terrible. It makes me think of that scene from the Batman movie The Dark Knight, where the Joker is talking about how people don’t freak out if things go to plan, even if the plan is horrifying.

 

Tell me about the Ringblades.

The Ringblades were a surprise to me. There is a cadre of swordsmen/policemen in the story called the Highblades that are ubiquitous in the story. Highblades are all men, and one day while rough drafting in my friend’s basement, the Ringblades popped up in the story as a counterpoint to the Highblades: an imperial cadre of assassins who are all women. Initially, I intended them to be cold-hearted and ruthless. In the end, they morphed into this wonderfully vulnerable and utterly badass group who care for each other and believe wholeheartedly in their mission in the world. They became integral to the story.

 

Who was the hardest character to write?

Grei, the protagonist, was by far the most difficult. In the early drafts, the side characters hijacked the novel. They were colorful and compelling and they stole the show. They drove all the action, which caused the novel to sag because the protagonist was just along for the ride. It put me in a pickle that took me fourteen drafts to fix. It was a growth moment for me as a writer. These days, I keep a close eye on my side characters. If they start taking over I either lash them to the novel’s purpose or thrust them into the protagonist role to see how they like it.

 

Who was the easiest character to write?

Blevins leapt off the page from the start. He wrote himself, with his angry, uncaring attitude, his mystery, and his ultra competence. He would be the type of friend that would frustrate me to have, as he’d never commit to helping you with anything, but when you were totally in over your head, he would be the one to save you.

 

Who is your favorite author?

When I was a teenager, all I read was fantasy. Piers Anthony, Terry Brooks and Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman were my favorites. These days, I have favorites for different genres. George R. R. Martin is obviously a master storyteller. I’m in awe of what he has done with Game of Thrones…assuming he brings it to a satisfying conclusion. It is going to be an amazing trick if he pulls all of those epic storylines together. Of course, he might solve that problem by just killing off all the characters until he’s down to one and stick their banner in the Iron Throne. I’d have to say, though, that the writer I admire most right now is John Hart. I enjoyed his first two novels, King of Lies and Down River. They were top notch. But his third novel, The Last Child, transcended the genre. It blew me away. I was in such awe of this masterpiece that I dreaded his fourth novel coming out. I was sure it couldn’t possibly stack up to The Last Child, and I didn’t want John Hart to fall from the pedestal upon which I’d put him. But I was wrong. Iron House was even better. That is an incredible feat to achieve. Now I dread his fifth novel coming out.

 

If you had a million dollars and had to spend it, what would you buy?

Ha ha! Wow. Well, I’m a Dad, so my first thought is to set up robust college funds for my kids. Boring, I know. But that’s what I’d do first. Second, I’d take my wife to a tropical island for a month, if I could pull her away from her job, which she loves. Third, I’d reward my amazing friends for their contributions to Fairmist and my forthcoming middle-grade book, The Wishing World (Starscape, fall of 2016). I’d hire my Creative Diplomat/PR Manager, Jaclyn McDonald, full time and hopefully entice Liana Holmberg, the freelance editor who worked on The Wishing World with me to work on all my projects with me. She’s just flat-out amazing. I attribute the Starscape purchase of The Wishing World directly to her artful handling of me and my writing. I’m a writer who needs an editor, and editors who can provide Liana’s kind of creative, novel-elevating work are rare.

So where does that put us? That’s half a million at most. I can’t put any in the bank? I think then I’d buy an enormous house in the mountains and rent our current house for an alternate stream of income. Then I’d buy a 1969 Camaro because I’ve always wanted one.

 

Where do you get your ideas?

These days, many of them come from my children. My upcoming middle-grade novel, The Wishing World, comes straight from them, either from my inspiration just watching and interacting with them, or actually from the ideas they have contributed to the story. They’re both insanely creative, and it makes me grin every day. Also, I watch a lot of movies and almost always go off into a daydream when something vivid strikes me. I’ll sit there in the movie theater creating a different story idea or a powerful scene in a book while I’m watching the movie’s story play out on the screen.

 

Describe a writing routine.

My ideal writing routine: Get up, go for a 5 mile run. Shower. Rough draft for four hours per day for four days each week, generating 1,000 to 3,000 words each day. Aim to have 10,000 each week. On the fifth day, do marketing, correspondence, etc. Book signings or conferences on Saturday. Writers group and more rough drafting on Sunday.

My actual writing routine: Get up, sometimes go for a 3 mile run. Get back, think about writing. Shower. Go to work. Come home at 5:30. Go to Tae Kwon Do. Eat. Argue with children about homework. Put them to bed. Put myself to sleep watching The Big Bang Theory or Agents of Shield, Jessica Jones or Daredevil, or any of the amazing Marvel movies. Get up in the morning and wonder when I’m going to write. Reach the weekend with a gasp and start writing at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. Have a flurry of rough drafting and cap off the weekend with 5,000 words. I’m fortunate to be prolific, otherwise I could never do this, have a day job, be a father and stay sane. (The sanity thing, of course, is still in question).

 

What are you working on next?

The Wishing World will come out from Starscape Books this fall, and I’m super-excited about it. It’s a middle-grade novel about a whimsical, imaginative world where children transform into their ideal hero. The main character, Lorelei, is based on my daughter and her voice just flows out. She’s driven, snarky and hilarious. When I go back over the story for editing purposes or just to review, I’ll bust out laughing at things she says. I love Lorelei. I can’t wait for the world to meet her.

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Thanks to Todd Fahnestock for an awesome interview! Check out his website!

Want your own copy of FAIRMIST? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B00T0GQ64Y” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Q&A with Johan Twiss, author of I AM SLEEPLESS

I-AM-SLEEPLESS-SIM-299-smal

While the others slept, Aidan spent hours each night running sim after sim. Although he was only a twelve-year cadet, he had completed more simulations than any prime— ever.
“You are setting history,” General Estrago told him. “No one has ever made it to the current simulation you are attempting. The other Masters and I are eager to see what comes next.”
So was Aidan.

The planet Ethos is at war with a mysterious enemy known as the Splicers. Their only successful defense is the Prime Initiative. All newborns with the compatible genetic code are taken from their families and injected with the Prime Stimulus. Each child that survives the stimulus develops an extraordinary ability and is conscripted into the military for training.

After turning twelve, Aidan is moved to the upper-class at the Mount Fegorio training complex. His special gifts allow him unprecedented success in the virtual training simulations, advancing him further than any prime cadet in history. No one knows what lies after sim 299, not even Director Tuskin, the ruthless and reclusive ruler of their planet. But something, or someone, has been guiding Aidan there. If he can pass the final tests, he may discover the key to ending the Splicer War.

 

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We had the honor of speaking with author Johan Twiss about his new book, I AM SLEEPLESS. In this post he answers a few questions about himself and his work.

Johan Twiss - John Burger

 

 

 

 

Where did you get the idea for this book? (I AM SLEEPLESS: SIM 299)
Most of my book ideas come from dreams I have at night, which are a mashup of events that happen in my daily life combined with the books, shows and media I take in. So basically, my dreams are about me being a super hero and so are my books.

For I Am Sleepless, I had a dream about kids with super powers, but they had physical handicaps. Around that same time, I was also thinking a lot about how much I could accomplish in life if I never had to sleep. Mash those two ideas together and that’s where the idea for I Am Sleepless sprang from.

Will there be more books in the series? (I AM SLEEPLESS: SIM 299)
Yes, the series is a trilogy and I have two more books planned. Search for the Reader is next and The Splicer King is the final book.

What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a mini novella series titled 4 YEARS TRAPPED IN MY MIND PALACE. I’m about 3/4 through the first draft and have a release date of May 2016.

You can download the first 5 chapter sampler (remember it’s a first draft) at my website http://iamsleepless.weebly.com/4-years-trapped-in-my-mind-palace.html​

4 YEARS TRAPPED IN MY MIND PALACE SYNOPSIS:
Diagnosed with a rare form of meningitis, eleven-year-old Aaron Greenburg is paralyzed from head-to-toe. He can’t move a muscle or any part of his body, including his eyes or his eyelids to blink. Although he is alive, his doctors believe he is brain dead and unaware of his surroundings. But Aaron is not brain dead. He is very much aware of everything, trapped in his own mind with no way to communicate with anyone, including his parents.

Placed in a rest home for full-time care, Aaron retreats into his mind to cope with his imprisonment. But after one year alone, Aaron receives a roommate in the form of an outspoken, old, Jewish jazz musician named Solomon. With the blanket diagnosis of dementia, everyone thinks Solomon is crazy, especially Aaron. But when Aaron talks to Solomon in his mind, carrying on the normal one-way conversations he has with all of his visitors, something strange and unexpected occurs.

If you had a superhuman ability, which one would you like?
Touch someone and take away their greed. Think of how much better this world would be if you could take away greed and selfishness. Say so long to wars, murder, broken families, etc…

Who is your favorite author?
Brandon Sanderson. I’ve been hooked to his books ever since I read his Mistborn series. I’m pretty sure I’ve read every book he’s published, some of them multiple times. The worlds he creates, the magic systems, and the intrigue/mysteries he has running in the background make amazing stories.

What do you do when you are not writing?
I love to play instruments and create music. I play/dabble in a number of instruments including guitar, bass, trombone, blues harmonica, piano and percussion. The best part is my kids are getting old enough that they are starting to make up songs on the piano and we have Family Jam Sessions. We also have Family Fight Nights. My oldest children take martial arts and we like to put on the sparring gear and go at it. The kids take turns coming at me two at a time, (even my 3-year old daughter), and they practice their strikes, kicks, blocks, etc… Basically, they get to hit dad and we have a lot of fun.

My wife and I also own and operate the online retail store www.playfullyeverafter.com. We sell toys, games, costumes and home décor items. It’s more than a full-time job, but luckily we have a handful of wonderful employees, (most of them family members), and we get to work from home. This gives me a little more flexibility to write.

When and why did you begin writing?
This writing journey started as I became more involved volunteering with Anti Human Trafficking non-profits. You can learn how I became involved in that work at my blog http://abolitionistjb.blogspot.com. As I researched, learned and met individuals who had been sold into slavery, I realized I wanted to tell these stories. But some of the stories are so raw and unnervingly sad that they are hard to read about and can send people into depression.

I’ve talked to some people who said they couldn’t handle how sad these tragedies made them and they didn’t want to learn anymore about it because it made them so depressed they couldn’t function.

So I set out with the goal to write a fictional story that gave the facts of human trafficking, showed you what was going on around the world, but gave hope through a hero, almost a super hero of sorts, that fought back. I wanted to make learning about these tragedies palpable to help spread awareness about what’s going on and what’s being done to combat modern slavery.

This became my first story, ABOLERE. Right now Abolere is a trunk novel. It was the first book and I learned a lot about writing in the process of creating the story, but it still needs some TLC to make it publishable. My goal is to finish it by Dec 2016. You can read the first chapter sampler on my website at http://iamsleepless.weebly.com/abolere.html.

What genre do you consider your book(s)?
This is tough because I have books planned for multiple genres including Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction and Crime Fiction. I also have two non-fiction books I want to write.

That’s why I decided to create the pen name Johan Twiss. I plan to use the Johan Twiss pen name for all of my SciFi/Fantasy books and my real name, John Burger, for everything else.

The problem is I have a backlog of book ideas and I get more each week. My wife lovingly smiles and nods her head, sometimes rolls her eyes, every time I say, “So I had a dream last night and I’ve got this great idea for a book.” Maybe someday I will be a full-time writer and my writing will slowly catch up to my list of ideas.

Do you write an outline before you write?
Yes, but it’s very bare bones. I have a long list of book ideas that I let simmer in my mind. When one of them starts to combine enough “cool scenes” in my head, I move it to the outline stage. My outlines consist of a few bullet points, with very few details, and they are usually incomplete sentences. It’s basically a list of the scenes I’m excited to write about, put in order for the story to take place.

This is where my addiction to writing is fed. I love the discovery process of filling in the gaps and creating a story from these scenes. I’m always surprised and fascinated by the ideas that pop into my mind and exploring where those take the characters and plot. It gives me goosebumps. It’s the drug that keeps me writing.

Please fill in the blank:
Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate— unless you’re allergic, in which case I will eat your chocolate and mourn for you.

What advice would you have for writers?
As Dory says in Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” But in the case of writers it’s, “Just keep writing, just keep writing.” The more I write, the more I learn about writing. I have a couple of trunk novels that may never see the light of day, but I learned quite a bit from the discipline of writing them.

Tell us three things no one knows about you.
1.  I play a mean blues harmonica, along with guitar, bass, piano, a variety of hand drums, and the trombone.
2.  I once met the Yankee Hall of Famer Joe Dimaggio in a Martinez, California strip mall parking lot. I was an 8 year old kid and my dad pointed him out to me. So naturally,  I went up to Jumping Joe as he unlocked his car and asked for his autograph with my dad’s softball mitt that I snagged out of the back of our minivan. The signed softball mitt was later stolen. There went my college fund.
3.  I’m Batman- wait, I wasn’t supposed to tell you that.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Writing is an addiction for me, and it’s one that I wholeheartedly feed. I love the discovery process creating a story from scratch. I’m always surprised and fascinated by the ideas that pop into my mind and exploring where those take the characters and plot. It gives me goosebumps. It’s the drug that keeps me writing.


How do you deal with writer’s block?
Honestly, I have not experienced writer’s block yet. I’m sure I will at some point, but for now I have dozens of ideas for books and exciting scenes I want to write in my current works in progress. Right now I wonder if I will ever be able to write all the stories I want to tell.


 

We hope you enjoyed this Q&A session; now go out and buy his book! You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1517166330″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

A North Shore Story by Dean Economos and Alyssa Machinis

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For the teenagers of Chicago’s North Shore, everyone has something to hide.

In a daring attempt to impress the elusive Sophia, Michael makes the biggest decision of his life, stealing over a hundred thousand dollars from St. Theodore Community Church. That same night, Nichole’s insecurities are finally forgotten with a drug she soon won’t be able to control.
When Michael makes his getaway, he sees his friend Joseph cheat on his girlfriend with the priest’s daughter and knock over a candle that sets the church ablaze.
As the consequences of that night unfold, Joseph is blamed for the fire and the missing money. Can the teenagers of the North Shoreconfess their vices to help their friend? Or will their greed, infidelity and  jealousy change all their lives forever?

Thanks to PR By The Book for putting me in touch with the authors! We did a Q&A session about their debut novel, A NORTH SHORE STORY.

 

Dean Economos

dean

Give us some background, what did you do before writing this book? I went to college at Loyola University Chicago and received my undergrad in Biology and a minor in Biostatistics. I then went on to receive my M.B.A. from Loyola’s Quinlan School of Business with a concentration in Entrepreneurship.

What were the events that inspired the book? The book was inspired by different experiences growing up. Those key events and experiences were then intertwined with the more current events of our church’s media coverage.

Some parts of your book are things you actually experienced, they must have stuck with you for you to want to write about them years later. Did you always know you wanted to tell these stories? I kind of had a premonition growing up that these events would be shared. My friends and I would always say we should’ve had a show like Laguna Beach, or something of that nature. So, in a way, I did think these stories would be told in one way or another, I just didn’t think I’d be the one to tell them. Like other stories of turmoil, we are drawn to A North Shore Story because we can relate to the characters.

Can you elaborate on what is relatable about the internal struggles of the book’s characters? What makes these characters extremely relatable to readers are the confidence and relationship problems each one of them goes through, whether it be friendship or romantic. Some characters go through other internal struggles such as underage drinking, drug use, and sexual peer pressure. I think that everyone at one time or another has been in one of these circumstances.

What was your favorite part of writing this book? Since this was my first book, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I was supposed to have a template or well-thought out plan before writing anything. Instead, I jumped into it head-first and developed the story as I wrote. I feel that doing it this way allowed myself to be more creative and not stick to a “script” per say. I was even surprised at what I was able to create.

What inspired you to write this story so many years later? What originally got my gears turning was the media’s coverage of our former priest and his embezzlement of church funds. I then started to think about our time growing up at our church and the events that our friends and I experienced. After pinpointing key events, I began formulating the plotline which now makes up A North Shore Story.

You know some of these characters in your waking life. Who was the most exciting to write? How have they changed because of what happened? The most exciting character to write about was definitely Kate. Kate, and the girl who she’s based off of, has a very exciting personality and a distinct attitude. When our friend read the story, she loved how she was portrayed in the storyline. I think that she, along with the rest of our friends, have changed in that we’ve learned how to tackle the problems that Kate and the rest of the group are dealing with right now.

Tell us more about your personal part in the stories. Are you in the book? How did you change your story for the fiction rendition? I am in the book. With my character, and with all the characters, I left elements of real life in the story and in the personality, but overall the fundamental qualities of each character are unique from their real life counterparts.

What strengths did you and Alyssa bring to the table to help one another write the book? I felt more connected to writing the actual story. I was able to figure out and connect the different subplots of the book, while Alyssa is very familiar with novels and creative writing. With those skills, she helped make the book come alive.

Do you anticipate a sequel? I’ve thrown ideas around in my head, and I’ve talked about it with Alyssa. We’re open to it, but haven’t started writing anything yet.

 


 

Alyssa Machinis

alyssa

Tell us about your background, what have you done since the events that occurred that inspired A North Shore Story? Well, I went to college at University of Illinois and graduated with a degree in Advertising and minors in both Business and Communications. Now I work at an advertising-technology company as a Digital Strategist.

What is your side of the story depicted in the book? Did you change the reality for the fiction version? My side of the story is depicted in the book, but it’s pretty separated from reality. The biggest and only consistency between my character and I are our driven personalities.

What was the most difficult part about writing this book? The most difficult part of writing the book was helping it come alive. The content was there, and the story was strong, but fostering the story from a passive standpoint into an active point of view was a challenge.

What do you think the most important lesson from the book is? The most important lesson from the book is to be confident in who you are. Don’t worry about what other people think because the fear of judgment can turn you into a person you don’t want to be.

What part of this story do you think appeals to young adult readers most? I think what appeals to young adults about A North Shore Story are the pop culture references mixed with struggles that I think a majority of teens have experienced or encountered at some point in their lives.

What clique were you in in high school? Can you tell us an event that happened to you and your friends that almost made it into A North Shore Story but isn’t included? I was definitely in the choir group throughout high school. There weren’t many events that didn’t make it into A North Shore Story, but we almost wrote in a choir sub-plot. However, we switched it to fashion as the story developed.

What were some of your favorite books in high school, when the story takes place? I loved the Harry Potter series and the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben. He writes excellent mystery novels, and J.K. Rowling is a genius.

Who is your favorite author? What were a few books that inspired your writing? I don’t necessarily have a favorite author (I read a lot). However, I do think that J.K. Rowling’s writing style was very influential on my own. It’s also comforting to know that she had humble beginnings just like Dean and I have now.

Do you think you’ll write another book? Like Dean mentioned, we’ve talked about it a little bit. However, as of now we have not made any strides toward writing another book.

A NORTH SHORE STORY sounds pretty thrilling! Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B017N3U6UK” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

Need by Joelle Charbonneau (plus book GIVEAWAY!)

NEED

 

“No one gets something for nothing. We all should know better.”

Teenagers at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises. In this chilling YA thriller, the author of the best-selling Testing trilogy examines not only the dark side of social media, but the dark side of human nature.

 

Thanks to Rachel at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  and the author for sending me this ARC! It will be offered as a giveaway to one lucky winner in the USA–link to the Rafflecopter is at the end of this post. 

 

As pervasive as social media is among today’s students, NEED illustrates what can happen when teens are faced with having every wish fulfulled so they can appear superior to their peers. Angst and stress rule in this small town in Wisconsin, where all troubled and misunderstood Kaylee wants (or NEEDs) is a kidney for her younger brother. She is doubtful of the site’s ability to grant wishes, yet she posts her request up anyway.

Getting deep into the story may take a while: there are many characters and each chapter is told in their own point of view. We see the social media site becoming larger and more greedy, in how it changes its requirements to submit a “need”. These “needs” morph rapidly into “wants”, and grow rapidly from a new pair of skis into setting up an entire VIP package – including car service and front row seats – for a concert. Greed and deceit go hand in hand, while Kaylee (who may or may not be completely innocent) tries to figure it all out. Authority figures see her as an unreliable narrator and thwart her efforts.

Soon, very bad things are happening, and deaths start occurring. As the plot unfolded, it went from believeable to almost over the top; how was it that the police and other school figures weren’t able to stop the killing? However, when you consider the teen hormones and lack of good judgement, it did kind of make sense. Towards the last third of the book, the dark twists suddenly started making sense, and I was on the edge of my seat, hoping Kaylee would be able to figure things out in time to save others from certain death.

There are plenty of lessons to be learned from reading NEED, the most important being if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Plus, reading this from an adult aspect made me truly see how 17-somethings treat everything like life and death, whereas a jaded (read: older) person would see through all the convolutions and machinations and not become sucked in. Kaylee annoyed me sometimes when she was so hesitant to make a move, but given her past (which the author slowly reveals) she has reasons to be that way.

I enjoyed the descriptions of the cold weather and the bare emotions of the teenagers, just trying to get through the drama. The plot twists will keep you interested, and once details are shared, bit by bit you see the big picture and how all the narrators/characters tie in to each other.

NEED should be a big hit in today’s social media obsessed world. YA readers will enjoy the escalating greed of the members of NEED, as well as the ever fluid high school world of who-is-cool-this-moment dynamic. Charbonneau’s premise is brilliant without being too dystopian. Definitely one to check out.

 

9 giveaway-01

Here’s the link to our giveaway—-good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t want to enter the contest? Want to buy your own copy? Click [easyazon_link identifier=”0544416694″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link]. NEED will be published on November 3, 2015.

 

 

 

Ultraxenopia by M.A. Phipps

 

ultraxenopia

 

In a society where oppression and conformity rule the masses and the slightest unusual behavior could be seen as treasonous, Wynter Reeves would do just about anything to ensure she isn’t noticed. However, when she begins to show symptoms of a rare and debilitating illness, she unwillingly attracts the attention of the State—in particular, the feared research facility known as the DSD. Through them she learns of the true nature of her condition, a disease known only as Ultraxenopia.

 

Thanks to the author for offering this book in exchange for a review!

This book is dark and unsettling, especially in the description of Wynter’s seizures and how much pain she is in during one of her episodes. She is kept unaware of what her true purpose is and used by the research facility to try to discover how the world ends.

When she ends up in the outside world, she is understandably naive and unsure of how she fits in. The author does a nice job of conveying her doubt and confusion, while painting a dystopian world with an underground community trying to fend for themselves. There is a love interest, which adds to Wynter’s dilemma but should be a big hit with the YA audience.

I found the medical and hospital settings the most interesting to me, as this is a new addition to the whole dystopian theme. Wynter is a strong girl and the author creates her character as one who develops character as the book goes on, with elements of suspense that will keep readers wondering what will happen next. Wynter has some hard choices to make and she struggles with them, just as an ordinary teen would. She experiences betrayal and hurt in some very well written scenes, and I felt my emotions stirred as I started to realize what was happening to her. So much responsibility heaped on a person!

This is book 1 of a trilogy, following the patterns of many dystopian works. The ending of the book is the obligatory cliffhanger, guaranteed to keep you waiting for book 2. I for one can’t believe what the author has Wynter do at the end….but that’s the idea. According to many positive reviews out there, a lot of people are invested in this series and are waiting anxiously for the next one. I’d love to see how Phipps can build on this popular story.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”0993217702″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ by Martha Ritter

 

PZ

A charming, classic adventure tale about the scary, crazy, and heart-thumpingly joyful plunge into connecting with others.

A mute, nameless foxhound has spent her life in a laboratory cage. She has never seen the sun. When she gets rescued, Dottie, a diva ladybug with a heart as big as her hat, helps the dog understand the world and find a home with Olivia, a restless, solitary girl seeking comfort that her new pet cannot supply.

The isolated dog and the hesitant girl must face their fear of connecting. They learn to tame each other, let go, survive adventures, and find the courage to trust as they search for their place in the sun.

The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ— lyrical and approachable, with resonant details–has both humor and heart. Although intended for children eight through twelve, its classic unfolding and off-beat characters tickle the fancy of adults as well. It is both an adventure story and a tale with many layers–about overcoming obstacles, mining experience for what matters, and doing what is necessary, though not always desirable, for friendship. Ultimately, it is about the joy of a hard-won connection.

The classic illustrations–with a contemporary edge–reflect this fresh, poignant, wise, and sometimes downright wacky book.

Thanks to author Martha Ritter for gifting me this book for review! I had the pleasure of meeting her at BookCon 2015, and we had a wonderful conversation about many different things.  We discussed a book called Nest by Esther Ehrlich that I had previously reviewed, and wondered if PZ could be comparable to it.

Happily, I can state that yes, PZ is just as wonderful, touching, funny, poignant, and full of good feels as NEST. The plot is simple: lab dog ends its usefulness, goes to shelter, gets adopted, and learns about the world.  It’s the telling of the story: sometimes from the dog’s point of view, sometimes from the adopter’s, that makes it so beautiful and a joy to read.

Your emotions will range from tears to glee as PZ navigates through a world she’s never even known existed. Dotty, the ladybug that lives in her ear (just under the flap) encourages the former lab dog to be strong and learn how to be true to herself. There are moments where you can completely understand what the dog is thinking, as a situation arises and PZ reacts.  I could see her trying to go through a doorway and finding it terrifying, so much so that I was able to transfer her fictional emotions to living canines I’ve encountered. (I’m a vet tech by trade and felt that reading this book gave me better tools to cope with scared dogs at my clinic.)

The family that adopts PZ is a broken one. The father has passed away a year ago, and the 11 year old Olivia is getting skinny due to lack of appetite, and often breaks into tears. She and PZ circle each other warily at first, each doubting each other’s ability to be a good companion. There are disappointments and triumphs, and you can see how the girl and the dog truly help each other to grow and learn.

Towards the end of the book, there is an event that affects the relationship between the shelter dog and grieving girl. I can’t say I saw it coming, but it is fitting and well written. The author has created suspense and it is easy for the reader to want a happy ending, to hope that Olivia and PZ can work together as a team.  (No spoilers–you must read the book yourself!)

I felt I would be able to read this story without tearing up or laughing out loud. I was wrong! There is pathos and humor that fits perfectly together, and the plot advances seamlessly. What a perfect way to convey so many ideas: love, trust, uncertainty, and growth.  The illustrations complement the story, and add that other dimension of having a perfect picture of what the characters look like. The drawings are alternately moving and comic, without being too complicated.

Want your own copy? Yes, you do. Everyone should read this book.

You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”0986381713″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

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