Leaving Jackson Wolf by P.A. Kane Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

One young man’s chaotic journey through high school, a troubled home life and racial bias on the rise make this coming of age story not only relevant, but important and emotional in author P.A. Kane’s novel, Leaving Jackson Wolf. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

Passing through the transition hallway at South Park High School was as mundane a task as passing along a text message. But not for Jackson Wolf and James McDougal. One spring day bullies randomly target them—teenage fists are thrown and suspensions are issued.

After school, Jackson is indifferent to McDougal’s overtures of friendship until the whiz-kid proposes they jam the security cameras of a local drug store with his iPhone and steal some beer. From there the two fringe boys, biracial Jackson and undersized McDougal, become fast friends. Together they combat bullies, their alcoholic fathers and bond over the beautiful—Syd and Lexi, indie music and extreme biking.

But as the boys grow in strength people start to exit from Jackson’s life, leading to him to question his choices and believe forces in the universe are conspiring against him. With the help of McDougal and the stunningly competent Jessica Lee, Jackson learns that he must draw on his own power and goodness as he confronts the possibility of his greatest loss yet.

The Review

This was an incredible read. Set against the backdrop of the 2016 US Presidential Election, the author explores what it’s like for a biracial young man living in an age where people feel empowered to showcase their darkest, most biased opinions, whether they be racist, sexist, or anything else in that realm. When your alcoholic and abusive father is also racist and a Trump supporter, what kind of mental state would that leave a teenage kid in that setting?

The story also explores themes of abandonment, friendship and the discovery of who we are as people and what we are capable of becoming. While the racial bias and election are the backdrop, the true story lies in the unlikely friendship that develops between Jackson and McDougal. These two unlikely friends fine common ground and push each other to be the best versions of themselves they can be. In that journey they not only discover true friendship, but a bond of brotherhood and family neither one of them knew they needed in their lives.

The writing here is amazing. A quick read, the story flows smoothly as we explore Jackson’s life at home and with his friends. We see young love blossom, tension rise as terrible parental figures weigh heavily on the minds of these young people, and the author’s use of setting really helps bring the characters to life in a real and profound way, making the situation feel like it could easily be non-fiction rather than the coming of age fiction that it truly is.

The Verdict

Overall this was a phenomenal, must read novel. This coming of age YA read was relatable and impactful as we live in a post-election era of Trump and the violent and racist upheaval that has followed that election. The author captures the raw emotions of both sides of the political divide while also showcasing the mindset of young people today and how they are often caught up in the sins of their fathers, both literally and figuratively. If you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copy of Leaving Jackson Wolf by P.A. Kane today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HSM5V32/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B07HSM5V32&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

About the Author

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Growing up in a three bed/one bath house with nine siblings in Buffalo, New York was a just the facts, assembly-line type of childhood. However, one day in the late seventies, well into my clamorous teen years, that all changed when my exhausted mom uncharacteristically asked several probing questions about how I was doing, what I wanted of life and how I was going to get there… totally confounding me.  She was supposed to dish out commands and make declarative statements: …take out the trash …don’t come home unless you’re bleeding; …every time you masterbate it’s a hundred-years in purgatory. Not ask me to articulate inward looking, reflective questions about myself. Self-examination and contemplation, was light years beyond my transactional existence.

 Eventually, though, due to a certain amount of aimlessness and failure I did come to consider my mom’s questions and many more of people, time, place and heritage, which have become the basis of the novel “Written In The Stars: The Book Of Molly.” Seen through the eyes of young Molly Shea it is an exploration of the ways and means of 1979 Irish-Catholic, South Buffalo and an evolving girl’s place in that world.

Presently I am one neighborhood removed from South Buffalo in West Seneca, New York where I live with my wife, three college age children and a cat that hates me. I have a State University of New York background in English and I love trade paperbacks, quiet black mornings and The Ramones.

https://www.facebook.com/pakane14220/

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http://www.pakane.net/

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Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend (Book 2) by Cheryl Carpinello | Blog Tour & Review

Today I am honored to be working with Women on Writing Blog Tours and author Cheryl Carpinello to bring you the blog tour stop and review of the novel Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend (Book 2). First we’ll take a look at my official review, followed by some great info on the book and the author, as well as some fun snippets from the book itself.

Official Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Cheryl Carpinello brings the legend of King Arthur’s heroic wife Guinevere to life in the exhilarating and emotional middle grade historical fiction novel Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend (Book 2). Here is the synopsis:

The Synopsis

“Think before acting,” her father always warned. But Princess Guinevere is ruled by her heart. Her betrothal to King Arthur has not changed this. When Guinevere and Cedwyn’s latest adventure takes a dangerous turn, they find themselves embroiled in a life-or-death struggle as foretold by Merlyn’s Goddess of the Stones. Renegades—foiled in their attempt to kidnap the princess—steal the children of Cadbury Castle to sell as slaves. Guinevere and Cedwyn vow to rescue the children, but a miscalculation puts them all in more danger. The plan quickly unravels, and Guinevere’s impassioned decisions come crashing down as Cedwyn chooses to turn his dream of becoming a knight into reality. Will their courage be strong enough to survive, or will one make the ultimate sacrifice?

The Review

Now as someone who has come into this book series without any previous knowledge of the first book, this novel does a great job of creating a narrative that allows readers to jump head first into the story. Not only is the legend of King Arthur, Guinevere and Merlyn all well known to many, but the story of Guinevere and Cedwyn is natural and comes across in a way that is both familiar and new all at once.

The author does a great job of skirting that line between mythology, history and middle grade storytelling as readers get a glimpse at the brutal nature of medieval warfare, while giving an intimate look at a close friendship between a future queen and her future knight. Meanwhile, we get to see the birth of the woman who rivaled Arthur in both legend and heroism, Guinevere. Her character arc showcased the growing bravery and need to save others that few people possess, making her historical and mythological status feel current in this day and age.

The Verdict

This is the perfect middle grade, historical fiction story to bring a strong and heroic female protagonist into the children’s book mainstream audience. A fantastic play on the origins of one of history’s greatest iconic figures, the legend of Guinevere runs deeper than you could have ever imagined. A fast paced read filled with memorable characters and an emotionally pulling story, Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend (Book 2) by Cheryl Carpinello is a must read. Grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

What’s Hot Offer Submission for Fall. Enjoy 12% off on minimum purchase of $40. Use code: fallreadingscp. Valid until Nov. 30, 2018.

Book Summary

GuinevereDawnofLegend

His one desire…To be a knight.

His future queen…At times reckless.

Best friends…Bound by Friendship and Loyalty.

When their adventure turns deadly & dangerous, Guinevere & Cedwyn find themselves embroiled in a life-or-death struggle.

Not only are they in danger, but so are the kids of Cadbury Castle.

Renegades–foiled in their attempt to kidnap the princess–steal the children of Cadbury Castle to sell as slaves. Guinevere and Cedwyn vow to rescue the children, but a miscalculation puts them all in more danger.

As the plan quickly unravels, Cedwyn chooses to turn his dream of becoming a knight into reality.

Will their courage be strong enough to survive, or will one make the ultimate sacrifice?

Print Length: 150 Pages

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Publisher: Bublish, Incorporated (May 2017)

ISBN: 978-1946229441

Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend is available to purchase on Amazon.com

Awards for Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend

2018 Gold Global eBook Award—Juvenile Fiction

2018 Gold Global eBook Award—Children’s Literature

2018 Bronze Evvy Awards—Fairytale/Folklore/Mythology

2018 Bronze Evvy Awards—Juvenile Fiction
Short-Listed for 2019 Chanticleer Int’l Awards
2018 Honorable Mention Purple Dragonfly
100 Most Notable Indies for 2018
2018 Wishing Shelf Finalist

2017 BookLife Quarter Finalist
2017 Apple eBook Children’s Official Selection

About the Author

Author Full Sphinx

Cheryl Carpinello is an author, retired high school English teacher, and Colorado native. Since retiring from teaching, she’s been able to devote her time to writing and traveling. Although she may be away from teaching, she is still a teacher at heart and especially enjoys meeting with kids and talking with them about reading and writing. Cheryl hopes through her books she can inspire young readers and reader’s young-at-heart to read more.  

You can find Cheryl at –

Website: http://www.cherylcarpinello.com

Writing Blog:    http://carpinelloswritingpages.blogspot.com/

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.carpinello1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ccarpine1/

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Cheryl-Carpinello/e/B002GGGZY6

Twitter Home Page: https://twitter.com/ccarpinello

Linkedin Page:  www.linkedin.com/pub/cheryl-carpinello/25/671/a02

Google URL: https://plus.google.com/110918922081424857545/

Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/ccarpine/

Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend snippets

  1. The Goddess Speaks:

Many trials await the two of you. Perhaps the hardest are the ones you will have to endure alone.

“You, Guinevere, will find yourself lost. You—who are destined to be a great queen—will have to traverse a journey of immense pain and self-doubt. You must let your inner feelings guide you. The journey will be hard and painful. You must summon the courage of your soul to sustain you.

“You, Cedwyn, faithful friend of the princess and the queen. Your journey may be the hardest of all. You will be sent far from those you serve and love. Your duty will demand that you see this most difficult journey to its end. Whether it be death or life for you will depend upon many things. Your courage must also come from deep within your soul for one so young. Your love of family and friends must be great. But greater still must be your loyalty to the knight’s duty. For your knight’s vow comes soon. You must embrace it. You must defeat the temptations to turn aside for your own safety.

  1. Great Sadness and Danger:

With saddened and heavy hearts, they left the gruesome glen behind and rode for the castle.

Samuel followed Guinevere, having chosen to ride beside Aaron. His tears dried, but the anguish not buried with his family. The grief was clearly evident in his hunched body, the anger in his clenched fists on the pony’s reins. Cedwyn worried about the boy’s state of mind.

Guinevere now led the trio, concern for the safety of the castle and the people there were marked by the hard set of her chin. Worry etched lines in her wrinkled brow and deepened her hollowed eyes.

Cedwyn brought up the rear. His eyes noted every movement. Ears tuned to the echoes of the forest, head swiveling at each movement and sound. Fear had taken permanent hold over his body—a feeling he was certain should have been as foreign to him as it would have been to Arthur’s knights. Cold fear tightened its grip on his heart and throat. Those who would kill the gentle monks would stop at nothing. Now the little group rode in the dark, a time when all earthly creatures took on the pallor of ghosts, and hidden danger lurked all around them.

  1. Fathers and Daughters:

His finger on her lips stopped her rebuttal.

“Not now. Other issues demand the attention of the knights and kings.”…

“But Father…I promised.”

“So you did, daughter mine, but kings must rule with their heads not their hearts. This discussion is over. You are dismissed to go to your room. I have a knight there who will make sure your rest tonight isn’t disturbed.”

Her legs refused to move. She opened her mouth, but no words came.

“Go. Now Guinevere. Before I forget you’re my own flesh and have you flogged for the dangers you’ve brought upon us. Go!”

Guinevere ran from the room, fists clenched, tears streaming down her face.

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Write On Your Terms: Why You Can Succeed As A Writer Without Committing To NaNoWriMo

Let me start off by saying this: I love NaNoWriMo. I’ve participated twice in the last four years, and each time I felt myself challenged, excited and creatively supercharged with each passing day. The process of writing in 30 days a full 50,000 word or more novel is exhilarating to say the least. So this post is not a knock to the event at all. In fact the event is still a very huge presence in my writing in the month of November.

However, for any authors out there who are not participating or can’t participate in the event, know that it is ok. You do not have to participate in the event to be a great writer in life or even just in the month of November. I struggled for a couple weeks on whether or not I wanted to participate in this year’s event.

Am I participating?

So many factors came into play when it came to my ultimate decision. I am working four jobs right now, all of which take up a lot of my time. In addition to this, I have responsibilities at home that take up even more time of my day, so by the time I get to the point where I have time to write, I’m either exhausted or have very little time to write, only getting a few hundred words in at most. I also have a project I am deeply committed to, but I am already at over 40,000 words. I’m not sure how many more words my project will end up taking on, but I don’t want the pressure of having to write another 50,000 just to satisfy the goal of NaNoWriMo and writing more than I really needed. Each story is unique (as many of you writers know), and should not be constrained by word counts for the sake of statistics. It usually sacrifices the story and flow of the novel overall as a result. I started coming up with an outline for a short story anthology I want to write to create a whole new project to work on, but with all of the other factors in play, the timing for NaNoWriMo 2018 just didn’t feel right.

So I decided ultimately to hold off for the year. I felt at first like I was failing to join the writing community or failing to be the best writer I could be. Then I started to ask myself: why? My day jobs consist of writing. I have a whole project I’m in the midst of working on that will include more writing. I’m neck deep into the world of writing. Why should I feel any less of a writer just because I’m not participating in the event.

Your Terms

There is no shame in taking your own path when it comes to writing. Whether you have an existing project, a project that doesn’t require 50,000 words or more or already is near that goal, you don’t have to commit to an event to feel like a great writer. The best advice I can give to a writer is to just be you. Write what you love, and write it on your own terms. Whether it takes you a month or ten years, don’t let anyone else tell you, (although, unless you are writing the next great novel, ten years is a bit long. Just kidding). Even I am still growing as a writer, and learning that you cannot rush the creative process or a project as a whole. To anyone participating in NaNoWriMo, good luck to you guys and I wish you well. I look forward to reading some of these projects in the future, and to interacting with you guys throughout the month as we all write alongside you. To everyone else, be you, and write on your own terms.

What do you guys think? Does this help any of you writers out there? Do any other authors have advice for anyone not participating in NaNoWriMo? Leave your comments below and be sure to share this post on your social media sites.

Check out my latest review of Firstborn by Tosca Lee here! Also grab your copy of my first two YA novellas in the Nightmare Academy series here!

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