The Beginner’s Guide To Winning An Election by Michael R. French Review & Author Spotlight

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

One young woman’s goal of learning as much about politics as possible leads her down a path of betrayals, lies and shocking revelations that leads her to take on the establishment in author Michael R. French’s “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning An Election”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

In 2025, the “youthification” of democracy has inspired younger candidates to challenge the ineffective and hypocritical gray-hairs in Congress. Running for student body president at an Indiana high school, political novice Brit Kitridge takes on incumbent Matthew Boltanski, who, with help from a mystery backer, already has his eyes set on Washington. Brit gains courage and insights from a wise history teacher on how to win, but ultimately finds a maze of deceit and corruption in her school. Is exposing the truth enough to win the election?

The Review

This coming of age YA drama was a fantastic exploration of the political system. Exploring a near future that sees backroom deals, corruption and scandal make its way from the halls of Washington all the way to a small high school in Indiana, the author expertly showcases the struggle to retain your morality and principles when fighting against money and power. In an age in which we now see more and more lies and corruption within our own government coming to light, this novel does a fantastic job of bringing the delicate nature of politics and intricacies of not only running for office, but holding office as well to younger generations, especially those who will be in a position to vote in just a couple year’s time. 

The story itself is powerful, not only blending these themes and moral quandaries to the reader, but creating a narrative that is nearly cinematic in its approach. The characters are realistic, intriguing and hold the readers attention throughout the entirety of the novel. Yet it’s the powerful imagery used by the author to not only showcase the natural setting of the school and city this book takes place in, but to build an image of the emotions and complex state of the students and main characters as they go through this election, that really shines brightly throughout this book.

The Verdict

This is a must read YA, coming of age novel in 2019. An important message followed by a powerful narrative and memorable characters, author Michael R. French has created a stand-alone novel that grabs the reader’s attention and manages to wrap up the character’s stories beautifully, all the while allowing the reader to bond with these characters enough to ponder their fictional futures. If you enjoy a good YA novel with themes of politics, corruption and fighting the good fight, then grab your copy of The Beginner’s Guide to Winning today!

Rating: 10/10

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Author Spotlight

Michael R. French graduated from Stanford University where he was an English major, focusing on creative writing, and studied under Wallace Stegner.  He received a Master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.   He later served in the United States Army before marrying Patricia Goodkind, an educator and entrepreneur,  and starting a family.  

In addition to publishing over twenty titles, including award-winning young adult fiction, adult fiction, biographies ad self-help books, he has written or co-written a half-dozen screenplays, including Intersection, which has won awards in over twenty film festivals.  He has also had a long business career in real estate, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  His passions include travel,  collecting rare books, and hanging with friends and family.   He describes his worst traits as impatience and saying “no” too quickly; his best are curiosity, taking risks, and learning from failure.

French’s work, which includes several best-sellers, has been warmly reviewed in the New York Timesand been honored with a number of literary prizes.

Endorsements

“Michael French has penned a fascinating, fast-paced, futuristic story about a determined high school senior named Brit who runs an against-all-odds campaign for student body president. There are scenarios that bedevil the imagination: dirty tricks, cyber and other tech attacks, love intrigues, and a picture of how the personal  growth of one individual can shape a collective future. As a politician with several elections under my belt, I couldn’t put the novel down.”            
–Governor Bill Richardson
Former member of Congress, US Ambassador to the United Nations, US Secretary of Energy, and Governor of NM
 
 
“Politics and kids. Michael R. French knows them in everyday life and in high school. Politics squeeze the kids, and the kids squeeze back. What happens matters in the hearts and minds of young people as well as in the larger world that shapes us all. This is a smart novel with vision, and a story full of feeling.” 
—Frederick Dillen 
Author of Hero, Fool, and Beauty,Wall Street JournalFavorite Book
 
 
“If you like cheering for an underdog and savor a complex, exciting story that seems to spring from today’s events, you’ll love The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election. We could use more real heroes like Brit, the leading character in Michael R. French’s newest novel. She’s a young woman with tremendous tenacity and a strong moral compass who rises above her innate shyness to make a difference in her world.”
—Anne Hillerman
   Author of the New York Timesbest-selling Leaphorn/Chee/Manuelito mystery series
 
 
 
“Michael R. French weaves a frighteningly plausible tale of political and educational corruption and gives us a heroine worthy of exploring, uncovering, and confronting it.  Like all great heroes, she stumbles into her quest but then grows into knowing the power of honesty, principles, truth, and teamwork in pursuing it. This is a novel for anyone who honors history, idealism, and courage in the face of our country’s current political, economic, educational, and moral challenges.”
—Marc Talbert
Author of Dead Birds Singing, A Sunburned Prayer, and Heart of a Jaguar
 
 
 
 “A wise, provocative novel about an Indiana high school student body election in a 2025 post-Orwellian universe. A political novice, a science whiz named Britain, is surprisingly motivated to take on the establishment favorite, who may not be who he claims to be. Here Michael French, one of today’s greatest writers for young adults, gives us a realistic page turner with complex themes that intrigues adults, too.”  
—Barbara Beasley Murphy
Award-winning author of Ace Hits the Big Time and
Miguel Lost & Found in the Palace
 
 
The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election, a captivating novel, follows the story of Britain, a senior in high school who runs a daring campaign for student body president in the year 2026. The brilliance of this work is that wrapped into its easy-to-follow and easily relatable narrative are deep political and socioeconomic messages that can be foundational in understanding politics and also offer new perspective on the current status of US politics. I recommend this incredibly engaging book for readers thirteen and up, and even schools that wish to teach students more about the high privilege and honor it is to be able to vote and have a political voice in our country.”
—Gerry Orz
Award-winning filmmaker, youth activist, and author of Lucky or Not, Here I Come
 
 
“For high school history, civics, and political science teachers who want to help their students understand the political process on a much larger stage, this highly readable page turner has it all—candidate messaging using social media, hidden agendas, opponent bashing, fake news, and even dark money. I highly recommend this compelling book as an effective teaching tool.”
—Leslie Carpenter
Former teacher, principal, and superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools
 

 “An inspirational novel, A Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election examines America’s broken political system through the lens of a student body presidential election at a midwestern high school. From the issue of dark money’s influence on our elections to convincing the habitual nonvoter to vote, author French weaves an emotional tale of an underdog’s efforts to win the election and save her school’s integrity. For those losing hope in America, this book is a must read.”
—Bruce Berlin, JD
Author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America and 
president of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics
 
 
“The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election is a heartfelt and moving story with vivid characters and a realistic, near-future setting. I highly recommend this novel of courage, honesty, duplicity, and the corrupting influence of private interests in public education—a wonderful book that deserves a wide audience.”
—Douglas Preston
#1 New York Timesbestselling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God
 
“We have a saying at our high school’s model legislature: ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport.’ Michael R. French’s poignant new novel demonstrates that adage through Brit Kitridge, a high school senior who finds her political voice and clarifies her future by challenging her school’s beloved principal. I hope this book inspires more students to get involved in politics and public service by doing the same—speaking up.”
—Meredith Tilp
High school AP government and politics teacher, and 
co-sponsor of Model Legislature/Youth in Government
 


Find Michael Online:

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Michael-French/e/B001ITYVES/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelRFrenchAuthor/?fref=nf

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mfrenchauthor

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mfrenchrt66/

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/287338.Michael_French?from_search=true&search_version=service

 Website: http://www.michaelrfrench.com/

Blog: http://www.michaelrfrench.com/blog

Book Details: 

·         Paperback: 272 pages

·         Publisher: 2018907650 (November 25, 2018)

·         Language: English

·         ISBN-10: 1732511705

·         ISBN-13: 978-1732511705

Amazon Link:   https://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Guide-Winning-Election/dp/1732511705/?tag=wowwomenonwri-20

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Blog Tour Dates

Launch Day – February 25th

Michael R. French returns to WOW! Women on Writing for his tour of “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” with an interview and giveaway at the Muffin!

Tuesday, February 26th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro

Linda Appleman Shapiro reads and reviews the latest bestseller by Michael R. French. Don’t miss this chance to learn more about “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election”!

http://applemanshapiro.com/category/book-reviews/

Wednesday, February 27th @ Bring on Lemons with Carmen Otto

Middle Schooler Carmen Otto offers her thoughts after reading “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” by Michael R. French. Readers won’t want to miss this chance to hear from Carmen and learn more about this excellent YA novel!

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 28th @ Bella Donna’s Books with Dawn Thomas

Dawn Thomas reviews “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” for readers of Bella Donna’s Books. You’ll delight to learn more about Michael R. French and his exciting new work!

http://belladonnasbooks.com/

Friday, March 1st @ Fiona Ingram

Fellow author Fiona Ingram spotlights the latest novel by Michael R. French. Readers will delight to learn more about “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election”!

http://www.fionaingram.com/

Saturday, March 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina

Author Anthony Avina has fellow author Michael R. French in today’s spotlight with a guest post by French and more information about the bestseller “The Beginner’s Guideto Winning an Election”.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

Tuesday, March 5th @ Breakeven Books

Today’s Author Spotlight at Breakeven Books is a bestseller by Michael R. French. Readers will delight as they learn more about “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election”!

https://breakevenbooks.com/

Wednesday, March 6th @ Coffee with Lacey

Lacey reviews “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” by Michael R. French. Grab a cup of coffee and join Lacey for an enjoyable review of this delightful novel!

https://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com/

Thursday, March 7th @ Sreevarsha Sreejith

Sreevarsha reviews Michael R. French’s latest novel – a YA work titled “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election”. Don’t miss Sreevarsha’s insight and thoughts!

https://sreejithsreevarsha.wordpress.com/

Friday, March 8th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples

Madeline Sharples reviews the enjoyable YANovel “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” by Michael R. French. Readers and Choices won’t want to miss this opportunity to hear what Madeline thinks about this book.

http://madelinesharples.com/

Tuesday, March 12th @ Book Santa Fe with Crystal Otto

Crystal reviews “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” by Michael R. French. Readers at Book Santa Fe love Michael R. French and are sure to love his latest YANovel!

http://booksantafe.com/

Wednesday, March 13th @ Selling Books with Cathy Stucker

Cathy interviews Michael R. French about his latest novel “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election”.

https://www.sellingbooks.com/

Tuesday, March 19th @ Bring on Lemons with the Hansen Girls

Cathy Hansen along with her two teen daughters offer their thoughts about “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” by Michael R. French.

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Thursday, March 21st @ World of My Imagination

Nicole Pyles loves YANovels and is excited to share her review of “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” by Michael R. French.

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

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Author Interview with Francis Moss

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve always written. I remember sitting at my parent’s Underwood and typing out stories, probably about dogs, cats or spacemen. In college, I wrote for the school paper and a couple of local papers, the Berkeley Barb and the San Francisco Express-Times. In 1979, a friend asked me what I wanted to do with my life. “I want to be a writer,” I said. She said: “Write for television. That’s where the money is.”

I took her advice and cranked out a few spec scripts for TV shows I liked. One of them got the attention of the producer of Buck Rogers, and I wound up writing two episodes, which got me into The Writers’ Guild. Then the Guild went on strike, and I, with a family to support, needed work. A local company, Filmation, was looking for writers for a new cartoon show, She-Ra, Princess of Power (cartoon writers were not in the Guild). I got on staff at the show, wrote and edited a bunch, and spent the rest of my TV career writing ‘toons, along with a few non-fiction books for kids.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

This sounds like a line from a bad movie, but it came to me in a dream. I was sitting in an office with – of all people! – Mindy Kalin, who was reading a script I’d written. In my waking life, I’d never have thought of pitching to her. She put it down and turned to me: “This is pretty good. Did you write it?” My dream self was offended, and I replied: “No. I got it from the Story Store.” (it’s a writer’s jokey answer to the question, “where do you get your ideas?”). My book, once called “The Story Store” came to me. Of course pretty much everything including the title, got changed.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I don’t think much about messages. I mostly write things I’d like to read. A reviewer pointed out a theme in Losing Normal  of “screen addiction.” So let’s go with that.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve always written for kids. I am a twelve-year old boy in an old man’s body.

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5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

My first thought was, I’d like to ask Sophie how she could think that adoration from mind-numbed people had anything to do with ‘perfection.’ That seems pretty tongue-in-cheeky, though. I ought to have a more serious answer.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

None of them so far. I have some Facebook friends, a few Twitter followers. But I’m lousy at it.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Read a lot. Write a lot. Don’t wait for ’inspiration.’ Find other writers, either IRL on online, and share your stories. Do something for your writing life every day.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

My current project is promoting the hell out of Losing Normal (hence this prompt reply to your questions).
Books: I’ve got more stories to tell than I have time to write. KillGirl  is my next one (currently 50K+ words in a 2nd draft): a teenage girl seeks revenge for the murders of her grandparents. After that, a middle-grade adventure (maybe a series), about a young boy in WW II England; and a science-fiction story about the multiverse.

Losing Normal is available at Amazon.com:
https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Normal-Francis-Moss/dp/1732791023/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42746625

I am available (more or less) at: https://www.francismoss.com
https://facebook.com/fcmoss
https://twitter.com/fcmoss

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About the Author

Francis Moss has written and story-edited hundreds of hours of scripts on many of the top animated shows of the 90s and 00s. Beginning his television work in live-action with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, he soon starting writing cartoons on She-Ra, Princess of Power, Iron Man, Ducktales, and a four-year stint on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, writing and story-editing more episodes than you can swing a nuchaku at. 

One of his TMNT scripts, “The Fifth Turtle,” was the top-rated script among all the 193 episodes in a fan poll on IGN.COM. A list of his television credits is at IMDB.COM.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Normal-Francis-Moss/dp/1732791023/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42746625

www.francismoss.com

Interview with Author P.A. Kane

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I grew up in a small three bedroom/one bathroom house with my parents and nine siblings in Buffalo, New York. Presently, I live in a suburb of Buffalo with my wife and three college age children, who don’t seem to want to leave.

As far as how I started to write. I went through a pretty aimless period after high school where I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do and was in and out of college.  Finally, in my early twenties I started read in a pretty serious way—stuff like Kerouac, Philip Roth, the poetry of Anne Sexton—which led me to want to give writing a shot. Problem was by the time I was all read up I was in my late twenties and had the pressure of trying to keep a roof over my head and a pretty serious girlfriend, whom I would eventually marry and have children with, so I had to shelve the writing thing. But when the kids got older and needed me less, I started to get up before work (really the middle of the night) make some coffee and write for a few hours. Few years later I have two published novels and a book of essays on the way, plus a million other ideas for books.

 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

Leaving Jackson Wolf was intended to be a novella about Jackson’s friend McDougal. But as I got into it I realized the book was more about Jackson and his relationship with his father which was fraught with so much anger and dysfunction. This compelled me to explore how a fifteen-year-old kid would not only survive the violent dysfunction of his home life, but the possible outcomes on the other side of it. I also wanted to talk about male relationships and tried to portray Jackson and McDougal without all the tough guy underpinnings of traditional male relationships. Both boys are pretty tough, but they aren’t afraid to be vulnerable with each other and to care for each other in a way you don’t see much, but I think healthy. I’m pretty sick of the toxic way guys measure themselves with each other.   

 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I would hope when people read this they find value in owning up and being accountable for your life. Jackson makes his share of mistakes, but rather than wallow in his failures, he is persistent and moves forward trying to do better, always trying to find his power. Additionally, the boys love indie music and in dark times not only is it a friend that helps them feel less alone, but it also provides great perspective on life. So I would hope people might look into some of the fifty plus artists mentioned in the book and give them a good listen or just listen to good music in general. I feel sad for people who don’t have music or think good music is Coldplay.

  

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’m not really drawn to a genre. I just wanted to tell a story about two boys trying to make their way through a complicated world. The writing world seems to be genre and series driven, but all I really want to do is write stories about real people in real life situations regardless of their age or whatever.

 

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Though she wasn’t in the book much I would like to sit with Jackson’s mom and get a update on where she was and what happened to her. Maybe this is a little voyeuristic and creepy, but I also would like to sit off to the side back at The Spot with Jackson and McDougal and just listen to them and talk music and the wonders of the female persuasion with a couple of beers. I’d like to hear the excitement in their voices as they talk about all the possibilities still ahead for them.

  

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Boy, this social media thing is so overwhelming and so competitive. Too much for the one-man operation I run. I mostly use Facebook and I mostly do a bad job with it. Going forward as I gather more resources I’m going to invest in some outside help.

 

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Don’t be afraid to start small. With the recent baseball playoffs I was reminded of being in a school lavatory back in the day and some older boys had a transistor radio and were listening to the World Series. From that single image of the boys with the radio in the lavatory I got this pretty cool story Knox, O’Malley, Sheena and The Miracle Mets. From little seeds a tree can grow.

 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Presently editing a book of essays that I hope to publish in the spring/summer of 2019.

I have this new charter O’Malley that I’ve been sketching on my blog and a couple chapters of another novel.

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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/

https://twitter.com/PAKane14220

http://www.pakane.net/

http://buffalomud.com/

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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

14141828_1582157662086499_7127312092596423076_n

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/

https://twitter.com/PAKane14220

http://www.pakane.net/

http://buffalomud.com/

Ashes to Ashes by Valerie Thomas | REVIEW

A mysterious note leads one young teenage girl on a journey of discovery in the YA novel Ashes to Ashes by Valerie Thomas. Exploring the themes of social interactions amongst teens and the unpredictability of the future, this novel sets the stage for a YA series that asks the question: can we prevent the future? Check out the synopsis:

From tragedy came power. And from mishandled power came mystery.

After moving into a new gated community with her family, Natalie is ready to begin a peaceful year at Emerson High. A year complete with boy troubles, school dances, new friends… everything an average girl could expect.

Then she starts receiving notes warning her not to go to school November first. Notes in her day planner, on a piece of homework, on a homecoming ticket… The more notes she receives the more details she uncovers, and the clearer it becomes: words like peaceful and average are about the worst ones anyone could use to describe the year she’s about to have. Crazy? Maybe. Violent? Definitely. Heart-wrenching, mind-blowing, life-changing?

Well, that remains to be seen. All Natalie knows from the start is that she shouldn’t go to school on November first. And maybe you shouldn’t either.

 

SPOILER ALERT

Trigger Warning: As is the case with some books I read, I feel compelled to disclose that there are some story lines that might be triggering for some readers out there. Story lines involving suicide and a possible large scale tragedy are referenced in this book. Although I’m reluctant to get into specifics, I felt it pertinent to at least mention this before going further.

This book starts off with a lot of action right from the first page. Introducing us to Natalie, we already get a glimpse into the social hierarchy of high school, showing the dividing lines amongst the students and how kids view one another. Exploring the nerves that go into attending a new school, starting freshman year of high school and trying to make new friends, Natalie finds her life complicated even more when these mysterious notes teasing November 1st start arriving. Who’s behind the notes, and what are they trying to prevent?

The story itself was strong, indicating a large-scale series that can span three or four novels easily. Delving into a thriller/mystery realm, this YA drama focuses strongly on the bonds we make in our teenage years and the importance those relationships have on us in the long run. The characters were what really drew me into the story however. The complicated relationships Natalie has with those around her kept the mystery of the story in constant shadows, and her story often felt personal, as if anyone who’d ever been a struggling teen could identify with it.

Now I will say the novel took a little more time than maybe it needed to in order to get into a rhythm thematically, I will say the writing was overall precise and delivered a strong thriller. While it touched on the emotional aspects of Natalie’s various relationships with family, friends and others towards the end of the book, I’d love to dive more into the emotional side of Natalie’s tale in future stories.

Overall I liked this book a lot. With a huge cliffhanger that will leave readers wanting to learn more about Natalie’s story, this was a strong entry in a new YA Drama series that deserves to be explored. While I will reiterate there are some pretty strong story lines that should be handled with care in future installments and should be read with care by you readers out there, I do think this was a great book and I hope guys will check
it out!

Rating: 7/10

https://www.amazon.com/Ashes-Valerie-Thomas/dp/1520735901/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509103308&sr=8-1&keywords=VALERIE+THOMAS+ASHES+TO+ASHES