Tag Archives: ya books

This is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore Review

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

Two students from very different walks of life find themselves working together after they discover the body of a young teen girl floating off the coast of their small town, and discover students from both the local prep school and reform school all have secrets to hide in author Gabriella Lepore’s “This is Why We Lie”. 

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The Synopsis

Riverdale meets One of Us Is Lying in This Is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore, a standalone thriller following two teens who discover a body off the coast of their seaside town. As they search for the killer, they will learn the students of both the local prep school and the nearby reform school will do anything to protect their secrets.

Everyone in Gardiners Bay has a secret.

When Jenna Dallas and Adam Cole find Colleen O’Dell’s body floating off the shore of their coastal town, the community of Gardiners Bay is shaken. But even more shocking is the fact that her drowning was no accident.

Once Jenna’s best friend becomes a key suspect, Jenna starts to look for answers on her own. As she uncovers scandals inside Preston Prep School leading back to Rookwood reform school, she knows she needs Adam on her side.

As a student at Rookwood, Adam is used to getting judgmental looks, but now his friends are being investigated by the police. Adam will do whatever he can to keep them safe, even if that means trusting Jenna.

As lies unravel, the truth starts to blur. Only one thing is certain: somebody must take the fall.

The Review

A truly gripping and engaging thriller for YA and murder-mystery fans, author Gabriella Lepore has crafted a mind-bending tale of suspense and secrets that readers will not be able to help to fall into. The twists and turns that this novel takes both for the characters and the narrative itself are truly captivating, and the author does a fantastic job of setting up solid pacing to peel back the layers of this mystery one by one. 

The growth of the characters was what drew me into the narrative, to begin with. The emotional depth that both protagonists have gone through in their pasts, and how these two young people who have had to learn to trust only themselves and have experienced hard family lives make their way to one another in the midst of great tragedy was so enthralling and mesmerizing to see unfold and really tugged at the heartstrings as well. This in turn really balanced out the emotional beats with the suspense and drama of this murder mystery and small-town life. 

The Verdict

Pretty Little Liars meets Riverdale, author Gabriella Lepore’s “This Is Why We Lie” is a must-read YA Mystery of 2021! Perfectly crafted and shocking as the final reveal of the killer is shown, this novel delivers powerful characters that readers might be able to relate to, and a great exploration of both the contrast and similarities people from different walks of life can truly have. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this incredible book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Gabriella Lepore is a YA author from South Wales in the United Kingdom. She lives in the countryside with her husband James and daughter Sophia. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can usually be found exploring the coastline. She enjoys cups of tea, bookstore coffee shops, stormy beaches, and autumn days.

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/this-is-why-we-lie/9781335418609 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/this-is-why-we-lie-gabriella-lepore/1138317761 

Powells: https://www.powells.com/book/this-is-why-we-lie-9781335418609 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/This-Why-Lie-Gabriella-Lepore/dp/1335418601

Target: https://www.target.com/p/this-is-why-we-lie-by-gabriella-lepore-hardcover/-/A-82007842 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Gabriella_Lepore_This_Is_Why_We_Lie?id=eqsJEAAAQBAJ

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/author/gabriella-lepore/id1153311848

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/this-is-why-we-lie 

SOCIAL LINKS: 

Twitter: @GabriellaBooks 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Gabriella-Lepore-Books-240139339377522/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gabriellalepore_books/?hl=en 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4814169.Gabriella_Lepore 

Here is an Excerpt from “This Is Why We Lie”

JENNA

Gardiners Bay at dawn is my secret. There’s a moment, right before the day starts, when the ocean is bathed in amber light. That first golden breath of morning. Everything is still, apart from the pelicans gathering near the water, their plump bodies shuffling along the shoreline. Sometimes I sit on the promenade for hours with my legs suspended over the pebble beach below, just watching the night turn to day. Watching the darkness turn to light.

It’s often like this, just me and the birds. The only other people I tend to cross paths with at this hour are fishermen wearing heavy-duty gear and hugging their thermoses. They sit on the benches and swig their hot drinks while skimming the daily newspaper. Then they leave. A little while later, their boats drift out onto the water.

Today, though, I’m the only one here.

I raise my camera and adjust the focus, capturing the new light as it spills over the ocean. In the muted daylight, the silver tide is a murky, dull gray and frothing as it slaps against the shore.

“Help! I need help!”

My eyes dart across the shoreline. There’s a boy on the stretch of beach at the foot of Rookwood Cliff. He’s kneedeep in the water, fully dressed.

He shouts again.

I spring to my feet and run along the promenade. Ducking beneath the boardwalk railings, I jump down to the pebbled cove.

The soles of my feet sting at the impact of the stones beneath my Converse. I scramble toward him, my footing slipping on the damp pebbles.

It’s then that I recognize him.

Adam.

His jeans are soaked to the thigh. He’s wading through the shallows, his legs tangled in fishing net and seaweed. And a body lies limp in his arms. A girl. She’s swollen, her skin has turned purple, and one arm is swinging downward with the momentum of Adam’s labored movements.

I press my hand to my mouth.

“Call an ambulance,” he shouts.

But all I can do is stand there, paralyzed by the sight. He lowers the girl onto the sand and begins CPR, breathing into her mouth.

It’s too late, I want to tell him.

She’s already dead.

Excerpted from This is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore, Copyright © 2021 by Gabriella Lepore. Published by Inkyard Press. 

Hello, Cruel Heart by Maureen Johnson Review

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

A young girl surviving on the streets of 1960’s London as a petty criminal gets a taste of high society after befriending two young scions and seeks to make her dreams of becoming a world renowned fashion designer a reality in author Maureen Johnson’s fantastic new retelling of a Disney classic, “Hello, Cruel Heart”. 

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The Synopsis 

An electric new story of teenage Cruella de Vil in an original novel inspired by the upcoming Walt Disney Studios Live Action Film, Cruella.

Swinging London, Summer 1967. Sixteen-year-old Estella, gifted with talent, ingenuity, and ambition, dreams of becoming a renowned fashion designer. But life seems intent on making sure her dreams never come true. Having arrived in London as a young girl, Estella now runs wild through the city streets with Jasper and Horace, amateur thieves who double as Estella’s makeshift family and partners-in-(petty)-crime. How can Estella dedicate herself to joining the ranks of the London design elite when she’s sewing endless costumes and disguises for the trio’s heists?

When a chance encounter with Magda and Richard Moresby-Plum, two young scions of high society, vaults Estella into the world of the rich and famous, she begins to wonder whether she might be destined for more after all. Suddenly, Estella’s days are filled with glamorous parties, exclusive eateries, flirtations with an up-and-coming rock star, and, of course, the most cutting-edge fashions money can buy. But what is the true cost of keeping up with the fast crowd-and is it a price Estella is willing to pay? 

The Review

This was a truly riveting narrative and perfect spin on the classic story of Cruella. Estella is an endearing and tragic figure, highlighting the person beneath the persona that is destined to become a classic Disney villain. The struggle between Estella’s journey to the streets of London and her petty crimes to striving for the posh life she always thought she wanted and even trusting and falling in love all culminate in a series of events that drive the protagonist to face her darker self, Cruella.

The pacing and setting really stood out in this narrative, highlighting the late sixties in London, an era known for great music, upscale fashion and the seeds of rebellion and so much. The story expertly creates a new layer to the legend of Cruella while honoring the character’s arc and setting the tone for the villains eventual rise, all while making Estella an empathetic protagonist that shows the woman she never had the chance to become, a fate many people have had to endure throughout their lives.

The Verdict

A brilliant, edgy yet heartfelt retelling of a classic character’s history, author Maureen Johnson’s “Hello, Cruel Heart” is a must-read YA novel. The perfect blend of classic Disney characters meeting a retro-style setting and a YA narrative direction, this is the perfect companion read to the hit Disney film Cruella, and a fantastic summer read for 2021. Be sure to grab your copy today!

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About the Author

Maureen Johnson is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue EnvelopesSuite ScarlettThe Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow with John Green and Lauren Myracle (now on Netflix), and several works in the Shadowhunter universe with Cassandra Clare. Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian, and she has also served as a scriptwriter for EA Games. She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City.

https://www.bookbub.com/books/hello-cruel-heart-by-maureen-johnson

Guest Blog Post: Turning a YA Book into a Bestseller: The Best Tools for Online Promotion by Hayley Zelda

Hi there everyone. I am honored to welcome writer Hayley Zelda onto my website today to discuss with you all the best tool for online promotion for any author of YA books and how to turn those books into a best-seller. Give her a warm welcome and enjoy this wonderful guest post.


These days, a YA book doesn’t turn into a bestseller just by its story alone. In many cases, much of the success can be attributed to promotion as well. Whether it’s an e-book, a paperback or a hardcover, there are many digital strategies you can use to help get your book out there.


Online marketing comes in many forms —there’s at least one option that can match your budget, skills, and specific marketing goals. Below are some ideas you can try online to YA novels.

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The Sign-Up Form and the Mailing List

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you might have encountered those pop-ups asking for you to sign up or add your email address in exchange of a freebie. Sometimes, the sign-up form is also placed prominently on the top or bottom portions of a website. You may find them on sidebars, too.


This is an integral part of email marketing. Basically, the said strategy involves sending emails or newsletters to those who signed up (a.k.a. subscribers). With this, you can pique your subscribers’ interest by sending a sneak peek to your book or by announcing a book giveaway. To help you get started with your email marketing, you can use services like Constant Contact and MailChimp.


These days, many YA authors have their own websites where they have their own sign-up forms. Kelley Armstrong, author of Aftermath and The Masked Truth, has her sign-up form on the bottom of her website’s homepage while Broken Things author, Lauren Oliver, has it near the top.

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The Author Interviews

Nothing can beat author interviews when it comes to putting the spotlight on you and your work. Even if you’re just debuting as a YA novelist, there are many magazines, organizations and bloggers out there who may consider featuring you.

For instance, Shannon Hale, well-known for her Princess Academy series, has been interviewed by AdLit.org and the Young Adult Library Services Association. You can prepare for magazine-style and video interviews like hers.


Meanwhile, the Hunter’s Moon author, O. R. Melling, had a radio interview posted on Mixcloud. If you like discussing your book over the phone, look for local radio stations or podcasters. As much as possible, choose platforms that teens and twenty somethings prefer as they are your target readers.


Smaller scale sites are great practice and can provide great niche exposure as well. Sites like Wired For Youth are much easier to land interviews on and can still drive some great exposure. Don’t just search for platforms with a great audience though. Make sure you also prepare for the questions and the way you present yourself.


Ann Brashers, the novelist behind The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, features her YouTube interviews on her own site. The Hunger Games series creator, Suzanne Collins, has featured an interview on how site as well. You can get the video links from your interviewer and include them on your platforms, too.

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The Cross-promotion with Other YA Novelists (Or Any Other
Author for That Matter)


All writers get help from other writers. For most authors, it’s just inspiration. Promotion is another assistance that you can give and take. This can be a mere mention of another person’s work on social media. A recommendation through blog posts, vlogs, interviews and book
conventions is more favorable though.


Aside from inspiring people, John Green uses his influence to recommend books written by other writers. Sometimes he just give others positive reviews like when he stated that Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette as the funniest novel he had in years.


When you’re starting out though, don’t expect that you’ll get on the radar of popular authors right away. Instead of wishing for their attention, you can find those who are in a similar situation like yours. Join Discord servers and Facebook groups meant for writers. You can scan for chats or posts from those who are looking for someone to cross-promote with. When there are none, you can post one yourself.

Writing feedback for each other’s books and having them published in your respective works could help. Each of you can use your social media pages and mailing list for further co-promotions as well. As much as possible, choose to work with someone who have similar niche and range for your social media reach.

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The Fanfictions (and Other Forms of Fan Labor)


On his blog, Neil Gaiman once responded to a fan who asked about his opinion on fanfictions. The author behind the award-winning The Graveyard Book said it didn’t bother him. However, there are authors out there who preferred not to have their works used as bases for such kind of
fan labor.


If you haven’t made a mark though, you might want to consider letting your readers make fan-fictions out of your characters, settings and/or plot. Platforms like Wattpad and Commaful are there for such pursuit. You can also allow them to create their own drawings or trailers based on your work.


Or, you can also get started by writing fanfiction yourself. Just remember not to exploit others’ works for commercial purposes. Make sure you’re not also lifting characters, settings and plots from the books of those who are against fanfictions.


Many writers have tried this out before they hit it big. Meg Cabot, the creative behind the Princess Diaries series, used to pen Star Wars fanfic. Even Gaiman admitted that he used Marv Wolfman’s horror plot for an essay he wrote when he was younger.

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Conclusion


Just like the contents of your YA book, make sure you plan your promotion as well. Take some time in testing and revising your marketing campaigns accordingly.

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About the Writer

Hayley Zelda is a writer and marketer at heart. She’s written on all the major writing platforms and worked with a number of self-published authors on marketing books to the YA audience.

Eden Rising (Eden Rising #1) by Andrew Cunningham Review

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

Two young teens find themselves in a fight for survival as they become one of the few survivors of a planet-ending event, and must discover how far they are willing to go in order to live in author Andrew Cunningham’s “Eden Rising”. 

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The Synopsis

“The Earth died in less than a minute. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. It’s not like the planet ceased to exist altogether. It just seemed like it. Cities were reduced to rubble. Millions of people died that day. I’ve since been told that 95% of the Earth’s human population was wiped out. I don’t know if that’s true—I mean, who can know that for sure? It’s not like we still have any of the technology that we once used to determine such things. But I do know that it was almost empty of people—live ones, that is…”

Thus begins the journey of Ben and Lila, two ordinary teenagers forced to rise to extraordinary heights when faced with a world that has suddenly and inexplicably died. Dealing with the sorrow of all they have lost, but the love they have found in each other, they set off on an odyssey that will bring them to the limits of human endurance and face to face with the frailty of their very existence. From the extreme violence of many of the surviving humans toward one another, to a world physically falling apart at the seams, Ben and Lila are determined to make it through the devastation in their quest for a place to quietly share their life together. In the process, they have to become as violent as the world around them in order to survive, while struggling to hold onto the humanity that will keep them sane. Eden Rising is a survival tale and a love story, but it is also a book that delves deeply into the human psyche to discover just how far we would go to survive, and how much inner strength can be found when things are at their absolute worst.

The Review

This audiobook was not only well read, but incredibly well-written. The action kicks up immediately, as the two protagonists find themselves going from awkward teen romance hanging in the air to waking up and finding the people of the world dead. 

The author does an amazing job of leaning hard into the dystopian YA sci-fi genre, while also bringing a maturity to the narrative by examining the psychological affect an apocalyptic event like this would have on any survivors, let alone two young teens forced to grow up very quickly. The pain of the loss brings to them a bond that highlights a growing romance, while the horrors they endure in the narrative and the lines they must contend with crossing showcase complex and deep character developments, a key to this novel’s pacing and delivery overall.

The Verdict

A must-read, heart-pounding audiobook and novel, author Andrew Cunningham’s “Eden Rising”, the first in the Eden Rising series, is an edge of your seat dystopian YA novel that is not to be missed. Memorable characters, romance and deep psychological character studies all define this amazing novel, and readers will not be able to get enough of this wonderful work. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author 

Andrew Cunningham is the author ten novels, including the award-winning Amazon bestselling thriller Wisdom Spring; the “Lies” Mystery Series (All Lies, Fatal Lies, Vegas Lies, Secrets & Lies, and Blood Lies); the Cape Cod terrorist/disaster thriller Deadly Shore; and the post-apocalyptic Eden Rising Series (Eden Rising, Eden Lost, and Eden’s Legacy). As A.R. Cunningham, he has written a series of 5 humorous children’s mysteries in the Arthur MacArthur series for middle-readers. Formerly an interpreter for the deaf and a long-time independent bookseller, Andrew has been a full-time freelance writer and copy editor for the last 18 years. A 4th-degree Master Blackbelt in Tang Soo Do, Andrew finally gave up active training when his body said, “Enough already!” Andrew was a long-time resident of Cape Cod, and he and his wife now live in Florida. He can be contacted at info@arcnovels.com. Visit his website at www.arcnovels.com. He can also be found on Facebook (Author Andrew Cunningham), and Twitter (@arcnovels).

Blood and Silver by Vali Benson Review

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

A young girl must find a way to save her mother from a nefarious Madame in the town of Tombstone in author Vali Benson’s “Blood and Silver”. 

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The Synopsis

What is a twelve year old girl to do when she finds herself in the silver boom town of Tombstone, Arizona, in 1880, and her only home is a brothel and her only parent is a drug-addicted mother? If she is Carissa Beaumont, she outsmarts the evil madam and figures a way out.

After tricking the madam, Miss Lucille, into summoning a doctor for her mother, Lisette, she discovers that Miss Lucille has been drugging her. She and the kind doctor make a plan to try to save Lisette by dosing her down on the drug.

Doctor Henderson tells Carissa that the only source for the drug is a Chinese immigrant named China Mary, who lives in Hoptown, at the other end of Tombstone. Carissa has no choice but to go to the powerful woman for help. Many say that China Mary is the one who really controls Tombstone.

China Mary admires Carissa’s brave spirit, and uses her influence to get her a job at the new Grand Hotel, which will free Carissa from her many duties at Miss Lucille’s. She will work along with Mary’s twelve year old niece, Mai-Lin. The two girls become fast friends.

Then, disaster strikes, and the two girls must work together to stay alive.

With a host of colorful characters and meticulous attention to period detail, Blood and Silver is a story of the best and worst of human nature, the passion for survival and the beauty of true friendship.

The Review

This was a fast-paced, intricate character study and intense YA historical read. The author does a great job of focusing on character development within the narrative, and the historical nature of the novel was very well researched and integrated naturally into the book as well. 

The story takes off immediately from the very first pages, with a murder leading to Carissa’s discovery of her mother’s condition and the lengths Miss Lucille will go to secure her business. The young woman risks it all to save those closest to her, and historical fiction and YA fans will love the intricate way the setting plays into the character’s arc and the narrative overall. 

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The Verdict

A must-read novel, author Vali Benson’s “Blood and Silver” is a truly one-of-a-kind read. The historical fiction YA adventure is filled with a gritty Western theme and does a great job of giving a voice to people who are usually relegated to background characters in the typical Western novel, making this a wonderful read. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Vali grew up in the Midwest. She now lives in Tucson with her husband, two sons and grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Illinois, Vali started and sold two successful businesses before she decided to pursue her real passion of writing. She published several articles in a variety of periodicals, including History Magazine before she decided to try her hand at fiction.

In April of 2020, Vali published her first novel, “Blood and Silver”. That same month, she was also made a member of the Western Writers of America.

Website:

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53167218-blood-and-silver

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Warriors of Potentia (The Shadows) by J.J. Angelus Review

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

A group of young people are all that stands between Earth and an unimaginable threat in author J.J. Angelus’s “Warriors of Potentia (The Shadows)”. 

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The Synopsis

The souls of mankind have always had a fascination with the unknown. Humanity desires nothing more than to unravel the secrets of the Universe in hopes of gaining enlightenment and uncovering the truth. But what if they uncovered something which darkened their perceptions? Something that could wipe out their existence if it was given the opportunity?A supernatural entity descends upon an unsuspecting community carrying a hostile attitude and voracious appetite. The only offset for this cosmic menace is a few young adults who gain mystical abilities from unknown origins. Inexperienced and unaware, the odds are clearly against them as they face a merciless and ever-evolving enemy. An enemy who not only threatens their young adult lives, but also the entire Earth. As the mystery unfolds, your deepest and darkest fears will become reality, and the shadows surrounding your conscience shall come to life. A reality which fuels your imagination and reshapes your mind towards understanding the inner workings of the Cosmos just a little bit better.

The Review

The book hits the ground running, setting the stage for a powerful sci-fi epic YA series that is both emotional and action-fueled. After a deadly accident on a space station launches a lone astronaut back to Earth carrying a dangerous alien threat, the world becomes a target and a few teens find their lives changed forever.

The author does a great job of creating unique mythology that blends sci-fi and fantasy seamlessly. The cast of characters is strong and does well to elevate the story naturally, and readers become invested as the story progresses. The only thing of note would be that sometimes perspective changes between characters occur suddenly without warning, so perhaps in the future, these character perspective changes could occur with some separators between each passage within a chapter. 

The Verdict

A gripping sci-fi tale like no other, author J.J. Angelus has set the stage for a fantastic YA series. Engaging, heartfelt, and incredibly detailed in its mythological approach, Warriors of Potentia is a must-read novel of the summer. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 8/10

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Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089XDNMK2

Facebook: https://facebook.com/warriorsofpotentia

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53936297-warriors-of-potentia

Author Bio: 

In 2016, J.J. Angel was a part of an anthology called Voices from the Bayou, he loaned his words on several troubling events that year in Louisiana. Specifically, The Great Flood of 2016, the shooting of Alton Sterling, and the deaths of three police officers. His written portion titled, “Still Water Runs Deep” is about an outward conflict clashing with his own inner conflict, both as a flood victim and a misguided African American male.  

 Several years later, he decided to differentiate himself from the book with a new pseudonym, but since he loved his original pen name so much, he simply turned Angel into Angelus which is Latin for angel. The Angel portion of his original pseudonym is a shortened form of his mother’s name Angela.

JJ prefers to write stories focusing on the supernatural, with spiritual awareness intertwined somewhere in the plot. He enjoys educational science books as well.  

Warriors of Potentia is his most developed production, with one completed book and several sequels on the way. The idea of the story originated twenty-five years ago as a way to combat the ongoing verbal and physical torment from peers. Beginning as simple stick-figure drawings, these characters developed, as he developed, and became a greater manifestation of his creativity into what they are today.  

JJ is also working on a few other titles that are not a part of the Potentia franchise. These works will be released sometime in the near future as well.

When he’s not writing, JJ’s outside moving around the downtown capitol; enjoying the great Louisiana cuisine and entertainment, visiting parks and zoos to become closer with the elements of nature, and trying to control his ongoing obsession with Star Trek Deep Space Nine. 

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The Out Crowd by Michael Kirby Review

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

Examining the life of two groups of students, the In-Crowd and the Out-Crowd, of a high school, this coming of age satire explores the toxicity of division in author Michael Kirby’s YA satire/drama, “The Out Crowd”. 

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The Synopsis

Hallie Flynn was ready for the perfect senior year, but everything changes at Homecoming when petty rumors spiral out of control. The In Crowd was always who everybody in the Out Crowd dreamed of being. The Out Crowd consisted of everybody else. Isaiah was also expecting a normal senior year. His biggest concern was earning a scholarship for college, but then all the norms evaporated. Gossip piles on top of itself, overwhelming his social life, and everyone else’s. Friendships are ruined. People from all walks of Gates High School life no longer know who to trust.

Determined, Hallie makes it her mission to set the record straight. But by the time the gossip desperately needed to be stopped, it was already too late. Gates High could never be the same as it was again, because rumors and gossip are not toys to be played around with. What appears simple and straightforward becomes more confusing. Eventually the rumors take on a life of their own and truth and untruth merge into an unrecognizable blur. Both the In Crowd and the Out Crowd learn to live with their new fate in different ways. Inevitably, lessons are learned, but only after the damage is already done.

The Review

An engaging read, author Michael Kirby has created a great YA read that not only delves into the inner-workings of high school life but on a much broader scale examines the social and political divides that keep our world at odds with one another. The author’s use of high school life to illustrate the larger problems of society is an inspired choice here, as often high school life can serve as a precursor for what is to come in life later on. 

The narrative is very character-driven, with kids from both the In-Crowd and Out Crowd showcasing the various aspects of high school’s social scene, and how rumor and gossip can not only spread like wildfire but how it can ruin and change lives wholeheartedly. The characters remain relatable and engaging to readers as the story progresses. However the only note I would make is that at times the narrative and dialogue can become repetitive at times, and although the story still flourished it did take me out of the narrative at times. 

The Verdict

Well-written, entertaining and relatable, author Michael Kirby’s “The Out Crowd” is a must-read YA drama. Creative and engaging, the characters come to life in the reader’s mind easily, and although a shorter read the core story has an amazing impact that will stay with the readers long after the final chapter. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 8/10

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About the Author

Ever since childhood, Michael has had a constant urge to liberate stories from the realm of his imagination and share them with the world. Various tales and characters would nag at him from inside his head until he finally agreed to give them a new life by putting pen-to-paper or finger-to-keyboard. In time, he realized this meant becoming a writer.

In college he wrote articles for the campus newspaper. After graduating he tried out publishing on various blogs over the years. Now he has turned to books, with a focus on novels.

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Dream Chasers (Screamcatcher #2) by Christy J. Breedlove Review

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

A young woman uses her new experience gained from the first book in a powerful mythological series and delves further into the realm of dream catchers and Native American lore in author Christy J. Breedlove’s “Dream Chasers (Screamcatcher #2)”. 

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The Synopsis

Seventeen year-old Jory Pike knows a thing or two about Indian lore from her half-blood Chippewa ancestry. She can trap, hunt and fish with the best of them. She has a team of three other teens friends called The Badlands Paranormal Society. Instead of bagging groceries or playing on I-pods, they think they can excel at banishing evil spirits. They hope to cleanse houses and earn fat paychecks for their services.

Dream catchers aren’t just the chic hoops tourists buy at novelty shops–they work. And sometimes they clog up with nightmares until they collapse under their own evil weight, imploding and sending the dreamer into an alternate world. Jory uses her worst nightmare to enter the dream catcher world. She’s pulled her teammates in deliberately. Everything goes right on schedule but they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. Now Jory and her friends are there, trapped between the people who have confessed their sins to the Great Spirit and are seeking a way out, and the monsters and evil spirits, which are happy to keep them trapped in the web world forever.

They were once considered Seekers in the dream world. Now they’ve become vigilantes and call themselves Pathfinders. Is it spiritual enlightenment they after? Or have they now become fatally reckless?

The Review

An action-packed and deeply mythological sequel, author Christy J. Breedlove has done a fantastic job of connecting to the larger mythology established in the first book and bringing forth a new twist in the evolving story of these characters. The thing that really jumps out is that for returning readers, the story sees a much more educated and experienced protagonist in Jory and her team of investigators, but newcomers will still be able to jump into the series even if they haven’t read the first book yet. 

The speed in which the group of characters is thrust into the world of this possessed dreamcatcher keeps the reader’s hearts pounding in their chests. Unspeakable creatures and beautiful imagery give the reader a deeper connection to the character’s during their journey into this other realm, while the ever-evolving story do a great job of delving into the complex and treasured history and mythology of the Native American people amongst the varying tribes and people. 

The Verdict

A must-read YA fantasy and mythology series, “Dream Chasers” is a brilliant sequel for Christy J. Breedlove’s “Screamcatchers” series. Filled with intense action, deep character growth and an overall sense of adventure, this is a unique read in the YA genre that delves into a mythology that deserves far more storytelling than it typically gets, so be sure to grab your copy of this amazing book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I became a story teller. I’m a diehard frantic creator of Young Adult fiction, whether it’s paranormal, science fiction, suspense or fantasy. I believe in pure escapism with unceasing action adventure and discovery. If you want a moral message or cultural statement, you’re apt to get a small one. But let me tell you something, reader, I want to make you laugh until you gag, cry until you’re dry and tear out tufts of your hair. Today, young adult lit needs a resurrection. How soon we’ve forgotten about Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent and Twilight. Oh, the mania! Where has it gone? Are we losing our young readers? We need something really fresh and new. I and several writers are going to pour everything we have into that end. You are the kindly judge–help us get there and we will deliver!

Amazon Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Harold-Stevenson/e/B001K8UUBK

Christy’s Website:  https://christysyoungadultfabuliers.com/

Blog:  http://guerrillawarfareforwriters.blogspot.com/

The Goodbye Family and The Great Mountain by Lorin Morgan-Richards Review

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

A family of undertakers from the Weird West must traverse the underworld after long and recently passed neighbors begin rising from the grave, upsetting the balance and their business, in author Lorin Morgan-Richards’ “The Goodbye Family and The Great Mountain”. 

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The Synopsis

The Goodbye Family and the Great Mountain follows the lives of Weird West undertakers Otis, Pyridine, and their daughter Orphie. Pyridine is a witch and matriarch mortician, Otis is a brainless but bold hearse driver, and Orphie is appointed grave digger for her strength of twenty men. Through bumbling, Otis discovers his neighbors are turning into zombies, a mystery that is directly affecting their burial business. In their backyard cemetery, they travel to the underworld for answers and uncover a plot to surface the evil entities that would otherwise burn in the Lake of Fire, have risen again through oil pumps that are bottled up as a tonic medicine for the ground above. The tonic goes fast, and the host takes over the body when the body perishes. Can the Goodbyes hilarious gaffes and revelations plug up the works? Find out in this fast-paced carriage ride through the underworld. The story includes an exclusive foreword by entertainer and medium Richard-Lael Lillard.

The Review

This is a fun and unique read for YA audiences everywhere. An entertaining blend of the Wild West meets sci-fi and Victorian Goth horror, The Goodbye Family and the Great Mountain is a fast-paced read that creates an imaginative and magical world filled with zombies, the underworld and literal magic. 

The author’s ability to fuse this wild and creative mythology within the novel’s world with the humor of the cast of characters, particularly the odd yet fun protagonists the Goodbye Family, make for a unique literary journey. Otis, in particular, will delight audiences as his strange comments will showcase the surrounding character’s bemused and dumbfounded looks in the reader’s minds. 

The Verdict

An entertaining, evenly paced and magical read, author Lorin Morgan-Richards’ novel “The Goodbye Family and The Great Mountain” is a must-read for 2020. Action-packed, whimsical yet haunting in its an approach, readers can easily picture the novel adapted into a Tim Burton-like claymation animated film. It’s a delightful read that I highly recommend, so be sure to grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Lorin Morgan-Richards is an author and illustrator, known mostly for his YA fiction. A fan favorite is his daily comic series The Goodbye Family about a family of eccentric undertakers living in the Old Weird West with their daughter Orphie who oversees the town of Nicklesworth as their sheriff. Richards writing career started in 2009, with his latest novel The Goodbye Family and the Great Mountain (2020) being his thirteenth release. In addition to writing and illustrating, Richards colorizes Old West and Victorian-era photography.

Official site: https://www.lorinrichards.com

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lorinmorganrichards/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lorin-Morgan-Richards/e/B002LTN6KO

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2943244.Lorin_Morgan_Richards