Tag Archives: young adult

My Totem Came Calling by Blessing Musariri and Thorsten Nesch Review

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

A teenage girl who begins to suffer from memory lapses and glimpses of a zebra that seemingly doesn’t exist journeys away from the city life she knows and seeks answers from her ancestral home and the grandmother who is more mysterious than she could have ever known in authors Blessing Musariri and Thorsten Nesch’s “My Totem Came Calling”.

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The Synopsis

Chanda is a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl in Harare, Zimbabwe, who suddenly starts suffering from memory lapses, which become even more worrisome when she starts seeing a zebra in all sorts of places. The trouble is, nobody else can see it. Afraid of being institutionalized in a hospital, she follows the advice of an old aunt and sets off for her ancestral village, a primitive settlement with none of the amenities she is used to in the city. But there she meets the rest of her family, including her strange and mysterious grandmother, and learns the hard way who she really is—not a superficial, rich city girl with foreign habits but someone who is somebody, whose name carries a history of her African people.

The Review

This was such a brilliant and captivating read. The authors did a remarkable job of blending YA drama with a unique perspective of culture and mythology that kept the reader invested. Diving into strong themes of cultural clashes between Western religions and Old World belief systems, as well as the idea of honoring those who came before us and discovering our own voices and identities was strongly felt in this narrative. The powerful imagery and equally strong atmosphere help to drive the classic story of the hero’s journey meets a coming-of-age novel.

The focal point of the narrative has to be in the balance of character growth and culture that the authors infused into the story. The way Chanda begins to grow and evolve throughout the novel as she connects with this other side of her background and history and the way the authors explore both teenage life in Zimbabwe and the impact of the spiritual world on those who practice the old ways made this story feel alive on the page.

The Verdict

Captivating, engaging, and mind-blowing, authors Blessing Musariri and Thorsten Nesch’s “My Totem Came Calling” is a wonderful blend of YA drama that meets African culture and mythology. The evolution of the protagonist and the rich narrative that stems from this unique and vivid setting will keep the reader invested in this vibrant world, and the thrilling conclusion will keep readers hanging off of the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

Blessing Musariri has published four children’s titles, two of which have won national awards. She writes short stories and poems, which have been published in various international anthologies and magazines. Some of her short stories were published in South African English textbooks for high schools, and have been translated for online magazines. She holds a Masters degree in Diplomatic Studies (with distinction) from the University of Westminster. She lives in Harare, Zimbabwe.

https://www.instagram.com/blessingmusariri/

Thorsten Nesch is an award winning German YA author. His first novel was nominated for Best German Debut. He has attended 1,500 readings at schools and in bookstores across Europe, and been on two tours on cruise ships. In 2017 he wrote and directed Derailed, a feature movie based on his novel. He lives in Lethbridge, Alberta, with his wife and children.

http://thorstennesch.com/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07X6N8YM4/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F44334116-my-totem-came-calling%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3D4aZYkj63XU%26rank%3D1&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Interview with Author Sharifullah Dorani

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

Before I start, I would like to thank you for the interview and your review of The Lone Leopard

I was born and brought up in Kabul, Afghanistan, and claimed asylum alongside my parents in the UK in 1999. I finished all my higher education in the UK. I am married and live with my wife and three children in a quiet town in England. 

How did I get into writing? I love writing, especially about my country Afghanistan. Therefore, I did my PhD on Afghanistan and subsequently published some two dozen articles and a book (more below) on my native land. 

The idea for writing The Lone Leopard, however, was actually conceived in 1992 when the ‘pro-Communist’ Najibullah regime collapsed and the mujahideen took over Kabul. Turning Shia against Sunni and vice versa, setting Afghanistan’s main ethnic groups of Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek against each other, and accusing each other of uniting with the remnants of pro-Communist members and thus not being Islamic enough, the 15 or so mujahideen groups fought each other in the streets of Kabul, killing tens of thousands of innocent Kabulis, displacing hundreds of thousands, and turning half of Kabul into mudbrick rubble with bombs, rockets and cannon fire.

Taking refuge in the basements of our blocks while the gunfire, shelling and fighting continued, I decided (if I made it alive) to write about what we ordinary Afghans went through. Unlike thousands of Kabulis, I was fortunate enough to live, and 18 years later, in 2010, I started writing about the experience: after 12 years of writing/rewriting (and extensive research, including consulting nearly a thousand sources), The Lone Leopard is the result.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I’ve partly answered this question above. I’d also like to add that my only inspiration is my people and country. I wanted to tell the contemporary Afghan and Afghanistan story from an Afghan perspective. Ahmad, the protagonist of my novel, therefore, gives a first-hand account of what I (and most Afghans) have experienced over the past four decades in Afghanistan (and in exile). My previous book, America in Afghanistan, published in 2019 by IB Tauris/Bloomsbury, was praised by reviewers for its Afghan perspectives, and is found at, among other institutions, Oxford and Harvard.

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

The reader will get to know a great deal about the principles of Afghan culture, particularly independence, courage, loyalty, justice, revenge, righteousness, pride, honour, chastity, hospitality, love, forgiveness, faith (Islam) and respect of elders (parents in particular), among others, and some of these themes, in addition to jealousy, prejudice, betrayal, guilt and atonement, the book explores.

The Lone Leopard is a historical war drama. Once the reader reads it, I hope they will see how things have been in Afghanistan; they will understand the history and politics of the past four decades in Afghanistan; and they will see the real Afghan and Afghanistan. 

The Lone Leopard is a work of contemporary literary fiction, too, as it is solely based on human relations. The focus of the novel is primarily on the lives of Ahmad (15, a conservatively traditional Pashtun, dutiful child, gifted student, thoughtful but faint-hearted) and Frishta (16, progressive, Tajik, women’s rights activist, compassionate, outspoken and brave): will the faint-hearted Ahmad learn from Frishta to fight his cowardly side and stand up for himself and for what is right, even if his stance opposes traditions/his controlling mother; will the fearless Frishta journey from a middle-class girl to ‘the president of Afghanistan’; will Ahmad and Frishta with conflicting personalities/backgrounds fall in love; will the middle-class Wazir (15, Ahmad’s best friend/classmate: Pashtun, fearless, the school gangster, pro-mujahideen) ever fulfil his dreams of killing a Communist and joining jihad; and will the loveable Baktash (15, Ahmad’s best friend/classmate: Tajik/Hazara, timid but lovable, pro-Communism) live a normal life without getting bullied for being different. So, the reader will get drawn into a time (the 1980s-2010s) when historical events – several invasions of Afghanistan over the past four decades in particular – give rise to nationalistic and religious conflicts and impact the lives of the four characters and their families. 

 Moreover, The Lone Leopard is a mother-son relationship story, as familial aspects constitute a significant part of the narrative, especially (the importance of) parental respect, which you have highlighted (and liked) in your review. 

Incidentally, in addition to the Western reader, when writing the novel, I had the future Afghan generations in mind, especially for them to see what mistakes their ancestors committed and how they should avoid repeating them. One of them is how discrimination, alienation and division can destroy a country; and how unity, inclusion and empowerment of people – regardless of their sex, tribe, ethnic origin, religion, etc. – can help build a better country and, by extension, a better world.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

The Lone Leopard can fit into several genres: literary fiction, women’s fiction, young adult fiction, coming-of-age, family drama, war drama, and romance. For me, however, it will always remain historical fiction drama, the story of contemporary Afghanistan. I chose the historical genre because I have a PhD in IR/history, have taught the history of Afghanistan and have lived through the historical periods The Lone Leopard covers. As a creative writing teacher may say, ‘write what you know’. 

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

I am not very good at social media and only use Twitter. I also have a LinkedIn account, but I have not made much use of it. 

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

Read more, research a lot, and get a good command of creative writing techniques before starting your book. And keep it consistent: make sure you write/research/read every day, even if it is for half an hour. Oh, one more thing: start today; don’t wait for tomorrow. 

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

My next book will focus on why the Doha Peace Agreement between the Taliban and America failed and the possible consequences of the failure for Afghanistan, the region and the international community.

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About the Author

SHARIFULLAH DORANI was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan, and claimed asylum in the UK in 1999. He has undergraduate and master’s degrees in Law from The University of Northampton and UCL, respectively. He completed his PhD on the US War in Afghanistan at Durham University and authored the acclaimed America in Afghanistan. Sharifullah frequently returns to Afghanistan to carry out research. He is currently South Asia and the Middle Eastern Editor at The Centre for Strategic Research and Analysis (CESRAN International) and has written nearly two dozen articles on Afghanistan (and the broader region), international relations and law. He lives with his family in Bedford, England.

How to Be a Goldfish by Jane Baird Warren Review

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

Two kids discover the meaning behind found families and friendship as they search for a way to save a neighbor’s farm in author Jane Baird Warren’s “How to Be a Goldfish”. 

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The Synopsis

When her class is assigned a family tree project, Lizzie knows hers will become fodder for Scotch Gully’s town gossips. It’s 1981, and she’s the only one with an unmarried mom. So she turns to her neighbour Harry for advice, but he has problems of his own. A stranger has turned up, claiming to own his farm, and Harry is being forced out.

For David, the new owner’s son, everything is riding on this. The farm is his chance to escape the city and his bullies at school. And maybe even get his mom away from her horrible new fiancé. But he wasn’t expecting to find someone else living there.

Lizzie and David become surprising allies, and as their family stories crack wide open, they uncover the keys that could save Harry and his farm. But sharing long-buried secrets has a cost too. Can they trust themselves — and each other — to find the way forward together?

How to Be a Goldfish is a gripping story about lost and found family, fierce friendship, warm griddle cakes, and finding the courage to be who you were always meant to be. 

The Review

This was such a fun and unique read. The author did a great job of crafting a narrative that felt vibrant and alive on the page, while also infusing elements of nostalgia with the unique setting of the 80s. The thing that immediately stood out to me was how the author managed to incorporate several different styles of genres into the book, ranging from children’s books to Middle School age and even some YA elements as well. This made the story feel relevant to all types of readers and gave some heart to the larger themes of the story.

The balance between the author’s character development and the larger themes mentioned previously was so well done in this book. The relatable and reliable protagonists Lizzie and David made the story feel more engaging as the narrative kept turning, and the complex stories woven into the fabric of the novel kept all the characters interesting, even the narrow-minded and hateful Bethany. Yet it was the emotional way the story lent itself to the themes of family that is found rather than already had, and the importance of friendship and acceptance of oneself that made the whole book really come together.

The Verdict

Stunningly relatable, entertaining, and empowering, author Jane Baird Warren’s “How to Be a Goldfish” is a must-read novel of 2022 for children, middle-aged kids, and YA fans alike! The book moved at a quick pace, and yet held so much character composition and impactful themes that helped the narrative shine brightly through. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy on October 4th, 2022! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

A first-generation Canadian, Jane is a writer with an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. Her writing has been featured on CBC radio and in more than a dozen literary magazines in North America and the UK. She is represented by Elizabeth Bennett at Transatlantic Literary Agency. elizabeth@transatlanticagency.com 

Jane also works freelance as an editorial consultant and volunteers as a developmental editor for emerging writers. 

https://www.janebairdwarren.com/

The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad by Natasha Deen 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 fully immersed in her Caribbean ancestor’s traditions seeks to find love for herself while also dealing with an overbearing older brother who has just become a widower in author Natasha Deen’s “The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad”.

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The Synopsis

From award-winning, #OwnVoices author Natasha Deen comes a new funny, honest, YA novel following one girl as she tries to win over her crush before she leaves for college.

Let’s be clear. No matter what her older brother, Robby, says, aspiring screenwriter Tuna Rashad is not “stupidstitious.” She is, however, cool with her Caribbean heritage, which means she is always on the lookout for messages from loved ones who have passed on. But ever since Robby became a widower, all he does is hang out at the house, mock Tuna for following in their ancestors’ traditions, and meddle in her life. 

Tuna needs to break free from her brother’s loving but over-bearing ways and get him a life (or at least, get him out of hers!). Based on the signs, her ancestors are on board. They also seem to be on board with helping Tuna win over her crush, Tristan Dangerfield. The only hiccup? She has to do it before leaving for college in the fall. A ticking clock, a grief-stricken brother, and a crush who doesn’t believe in signs. What could possibly go wrong? 

The Review

This was a heartwarming and emotional YA read. The balance of drama and contemporary romance that makes its way into this YA novel was great to see, as the narrative left plenty of room for both humorous dialogues between the cast of characters and profound, meaningful moments that defined the themes of grief, respect for one’s ancestors and culture, and romance and love in all its forms. Including LGBTQ-driven romance in the narrative with one of the characters added another level of depth to the emotional backstory and journey one character underwent. 

The novel was definitely a character-driven narrative. The heart and unique character traits that protagonist Tuna gave the reader were fun to read, as she infused her unique brand of humor and wit into her relationships, showcasing her desire to define her own life while respecting and caring for those around her. The importance that her Caribbean culture had on her character development was so interesting and made for such a memorable reading experience.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, thoughtful, and entertaining, author Natasha Deen’s “The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad” is a must-read YA contemporary romance of 2022. With a diverse cast of characters and truly emotional narrative beats that will keep the reader invested throughout this narrative, readers are going to both love and care for the protagonist and this cast of characters deeply, making this one book you won’t want to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

NATASHA DEEN writes for kids, teens, and adults, and believes the world is changed one story at a time. As a Guyanese-Canadian and a child of immigrants, she’s seen first-hand how stories have the power to shape the world. When she’s not writing, Natasha enjoys visiting schools, libraries and other organizations to help people to find and tell the stories that live inside of them. She also spends an inordinate amount of time trying to convince her pets that she’s the boss of the house. Natasha is the author of the Lark Ba series, the Guardian series, and In the Key of Nira Ghani. Visit Natasha at www.natashadeen.com.

Interview with Clarissa Pattern

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

As a kid I was in and out of hospital a fair bit, reading and writing were my escapes from the long hours of loneliness. My first stories were about dead things that came back to life; maybe one day I will have to revisit those early ideas, because I truly think what the world is missing is tales about reanimated egg shells! 

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2) What inspired you to write your book? 

Because it took me many years to write, lots of different people and events have influenced the final published novel. My initial inspiration though, was a simple scene of a young pickpocket at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre being so enchanted by the actors on stage that a yearning for a different life sparkles in his heart. 

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

Something I’m always drawn to is the power of friendship and the importance of finding the right place in life. In essence it’s such a simple message that is contained in one of the best-known childhood stories we’re told: the ugly duckling needs to find his swan family instead of trying to fit in with the ducks who bully him. But it’s so easy, especially in this brave new world of social media, to be constantly comparing and contrasting yourself to the wrong people and feeling inadequate when you should be concentrating on what makes you as a unique and wonderful person shine.  

4) What drew you into this particular genre? 

The coming-of-age genre is so powerful and relatable as everything is felt so intensely in both its freshness and its rawness. I don’t know how true it is, but I read somewhere that because of how the brain develops and the random shooting off of hormones, that the love you experience as a teenager is the strongest love you’ll feel in your life.  

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

My characters are constantly chattering away in my mind, but it’s actually really strange thinking of having an actual conversation with them, they ignore me and just talk to each other all the time!  

A sneaky little voice in my head is saying that as William Shakespeare appears in my novel, I could choose him to yank into reality and ask him any number of literary conundrums. But I think it’s more in the spirit of the question to choose one of my purely fictional characters, so I will ask Black Jack if he believes that John can truly see faerie folk? Black Jack is a very practical person surviving in the dirt of Renaissance London, but I wonder if living and loving someone who is literally away with the faeries half the time, how his view of the universe would change. 

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

I am not sure if it counts as social media, but my publisher likes Booksirens, I personally have been exploring readersfavorite.com and have found some wonderful people there. I have to mention the Historical Fiction Company too as they gave me a 5-star medal and a silver award in their book of the year competition, so I obviously love them. A couple of readers have found me on Facebook and that has made me smile a lot, people from different countries liking my book enough to reach out to me is so validating for an insecure, self-doubting, introverted blob like me. 

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

Writing can be lonely and fraught with doubt, so find yourself some great beta readers, people who can give you honest feedback that you respect.  

There are a lot of places online to share your writing and to meet other authors, so spend the time to find the place where you feel like you fit and make those connections. I’ve heard from friends that a lot of writers in writing groups can be pretty selfish, they only want to share their stuff, but aren’t willing to give the time to other people’s work. Although we’re naturally deeply involved in our own creativity, make sure you are not one of those people, always be kind and attentive to what other writers are doing and you will attract the awesome people who will nourish your books.

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

Everything being well(ish) in these crazy times, I should have a novella coming out with tRaumbooks later this year.  It is a contemporary story about the mental torment of being a teenager. Beyond that, there may be some more stories in the Airy world. Or there might be a story about robots keeping humans as pets. My imagination is a weird place of glittery rainbows and murky half emerged krakens, I am never certain what will grab and take my muse hostage next.

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About the Author

Clarissa Pattern studied English language and literature at the University of Oxford and has lived in the Oxfordshire area ever since. She has been writing ever since she could hold crayons and scribble across the wallpaper. Aside from writing, she spends as much time with her kids as they’ll put up with, ignores almost all the housework, and has an ever-increasing list of books she’s frantic to read. Her stories have been published in various anthologies over the years, and in August 2021, she released her first novel, a magical, historical YA called Airy Nothing.

The Clash Inside Me by John Moondragon & Kelly Alblinger Review

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

A young man living with dissociative identity disorder finds himself the witness to a horrific crime, and must determine if one of his alters was responsible in author John Moondragon’s “The Clash Inside Me”. 

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The Synopsis

THE CLASH INSIDE ME opens with a young man perched on a ledge and contemplating an unusual predicament: did he or did he not commit murder? And if he did, which of his alter-personalities will ultimately be held responsible?

The young man, who remains nameless throughout the tale, recounts the story of his life and the diagnosis of his mental illness –dissociative identity disorder – with refreshing candor. Speaking directly to the reader, he describes his personal history in a manner that is both relatable and engaging. Despite the obvious disadvantages of coping with multiple personalities, he is not a victim of his circumstances. He is a survivor with expectations of a bright future, including a tender romance. There are moments of fear and anguish, but his is not a story of despair; rather it is a tale of ongoing courage to define oneself while coping with a serious mental illness.

The Review

The author really found the perfect harmonious balance between entertaining narrative and emotionally-driven character growth under the umbrella of understanding mental health more clearly. The narrative was definitely character-driven, focusing on the protagonist and his alters in vivid and gritty detail. The fast-paced narrative and the imagery that was conjured with the author’s words made the reading experience fun yet thought-provoking.

The theme and message of the narrative surrounding mental health, in general, was a fantastic choice. The discussions and education that the narrative brings about mental health, despite the fictional aspect of the narrative, really do a phenomenal job of furthering our understanding of mental health and DiD in particular. The examination of the protagonists alters and the jarring experience of losing the control you would typically have over your own body was mesmerizing to behold.

The Verdict

Memorable, engaging, and thoughtful in its approach, author John Moondragon and Kelly Alblinger’s “The Clash Inside Me” is a must-read fiction thriller with a mental health focus. The intrigue and suspense of the main plot when combined with the emotional journey of the main character and his struggle with his mental health makes for such an amazing read, so be sure to grab your copy of this amazing story today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

John Mondragon is a self-published author of his first novel “The Clash Inside Me” and a caring father and husband.

He is passionate about helping people understand the importance of mental health matters, and encourages others to speak up and speak out.

Author Website: https://www.subscribepage.com/theclashinsideme

Book Purchase Links: https://books2read.com/theclashinsideme/

Social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/Mondragon.Author

https://www.instagram.com/mondragon.author/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21943524.John_Mondragon

Press Release: The Clash Inside Me by John Mondragon with Kelly Albinger

John Mondragon is the co-author of the new young adult novel, The Clash Inside Me, which he wrote with Kelly Albinger. The novel features a young man who is struggling with a complicated mental health disorder: dissociative identity disorder (DID), also known as multiple personality disorder. When a murder takes place in the area, the young man is forced to take a hard look at all of his personalities and face the jarring reality that he could be responsible. 

John Mondragon first came up with the idea for the book over ten years ago, when he was struggling with own his mental health as a 20-something. Societal stigmas around anxiety and depression made it difficult to speak openly about his struggles, so he turned to writing instead. 

Now, as a father of two young boys, John feels even more inspired to break down those stigmas and let young people know that it is okay to reach out for help. “Speak Up, Speak Out” is the book’s mantra and is featured in merchandise, such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, and yoga pants. 

John is a diverse author who speaks three languages, English, Arabic, and Spanish. This history is important to John and it is what inspired him to release the novel in Spanish as Mi Choque Interior, so that language was not a barrier. 

While the novel is fictional, John has created an official workbook to accompany the novel. The workbook is a 12-week journey to better mental health and he hopes that it will provide a creative and introspective outlet for anyone that finds it challenging to talk about their struggles. The workbook, as well as the novel, are available in paperback. 

You can find out more about John, Kelly, and their books at: https://www.subscribepage.com/theclashinsideme

Follow John on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Mondragon.Author

And Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mondragon.author/

In Every Generation  (In Every Generation Book 1) by Kendare Blake Review

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

Return to everyone’s favorite vampire series as the Buffyverse gets a brand new chapter! When Buffy, Faith, and most of the other slayers that were activated decades ago are presumed dead after an attack, the daughter of Willow Rosenberg finds herself gaining the power of the Slayer, and combined with her inherited witch abilities must guard against the supernatural threats that hope to reopen the Sunnydale Hellmouth in author Kendare Blake’s “In Every Generation”, the first book in the series of the same name. 

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The Synopsis

A new Slayer for a new generation…

Frankie Rosenberg is passionate about the environment, a sophomore at New Sunnydale High School, and the daughter of the most powerful witch in Sunnydale history. Her mom, Willow, is slowly teaching her magic on the condition that she use it to better the world. But Frankie’s happily quiet life is upended when new girl Hailey shows up with news that the annual Slayer convention has been the target of an attack, and all the Slayers—including Buffy, Faith, and Hailey’s older sister Vi—might be dead. That means it’s time for this generation’s Slayer to be born.

But being the first ever Slayer-Witch means learning how to wield a stake while trying to control her budding powers. With the help of Hailey, a werewolf named Jake, and a hot but nerdy sage demon, Frankie must become the Slayer, prevent the Hellmouth from opening again, and find out what happened to her Aunt Buffy, before she’s next.

Get ready for a whole new story within the world of Buffy!

The first in an all-new series by New York Times best-selling author Kendare Blake continues the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer featuring the next generation of Scoobies and Slayers who must defeat a powerful new evil.

The Review

As with probably many fans of this genre, in particular, can attest, I am a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was raised on the original Buffy film, but later on, I fell absolutely in love with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. I loved the mythology, the humor, the amazingly strong women who fought against the forces of evil, and the sense of community the show brought. 

Diving into this book felt like the first steps towards a Buffy return we’ve all been waiting for. Taking story points and elements of the comics and books that followed the end of the television series, the story hones in on the next generation of Scoobies. What really made me love this novel was the balance the author found with the nostalgia found with fan-favorite characters who served as the support of the new heroes and the newcomers themselves, who brought their own insecurities, struggles, and charm into the narrative. 

The acknowledgment of past events in the show and comics did an amazing job of paving the way for new mythology and developments to be made. The inclusion of new characters like the book’s main villain (read this book, for real, I don’t want to give anything away), and new allies that give off the same mystery that Angel did when he first arrived, not knowing if he was trustworthy or dangerous, allowed for the world to feel fresh and still as alive as when the show ended all those years ago. Willow’s role in the book is so great to read, and as a massive fan of the character and her LGBTQ icon status, it was great to see her character evolve into the role of motherhood and struggle with her balance between that and her witchy powers. 

The Verdict

A powerful, emotional, and fun YA Paranormal thriller filled with nostalgia, author Kendare Blake’s “In Every Generation” is a must-read novel of 2022! The action and new mythos around new villains were so captivating to behold. The shocking events of the book, the fate of beloved characters, and a shocking finale will keep readers entranced, and definitely wanting more in what promises to be a beloved new Buffy-inspired series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Kendare Blake is the author of several novels and short stories, most of which you can find information about via the links above. Her work is sort of dark, always violent, and features passages describing food from when she writes while hungry. She was born in July (for those of you doing book reports) in Seoul, South Korea, but doesn’t speak a lick of Korean, as she was packed off at a very early age to her adoptive parents in the United States. That might be just an excuse, though, as she is pretty bad at learning foreign languages. She enjoys the work of Milan Kundera, Caitlin R Kiernan, Bret Easton Ellis, and Richard Linklater.

She lives and writes in Gig Harbor, Washington, with her husband, their cat son Tyrion Cattister, red Doberman dog son Obi-Dog Kenobi, rottie mix dog daughter Agent Scully, and naked Sphynx cat son Armpit McGee.

Cheers from Heaven by Mary Elizabeth Jackson and Thornton Clive 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 friends must come together to grow and learn from their pasts after a classmate they once mistreated passes away, and sends them on a journey of forgiveness and hope in authors Mary Elizabeth Jackson and Thornton Clive’s “Cheers from Heaven”.

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The Synopsis

Five friends discover they are feeling uneasy emotions about a former classmate, Drew, who suddenly passed away from a dreadful disease. Each of them had mistreated him in their own way and style. Guilt soon overtakes the students, and they are guided by their teacher to visit Drew’s parents and confess their wrongdoings.

During their visit, they are entrusted with Drew’s secret locked box which he left behind. What’s inside sets the students on a life-changing journey. Drew has left these students with some unexpected notes that unites them in a way they never imagined.

They are led to grow in maturity and emotionally, beyond who they once were. The insights gained inspire not only these students to accept others and their differences but leads the whole school to follow. The mysteries continue till the very end with a final message from Drew that leaves everyone wondering can you really send Cheers from Heaven.

The Review

A truly heartfelt and thought-provoking middle-grade read, the authors did such a brilliant job of writing an emotionally-driven narrative while also making the story both entertaining and enlightening at the same time. The exploration of bullying as a theme in our world as well as in literature was the perfect vessel for this story, as this problem has become a huge thing in our public school system, both in school and online. The need to teach our students and children to respect and be kind to one another, and not allow peer pressure to drive us to negative behavior, was perfectly illustrated here in this story.

The characters were so perfectly written and relatable for young readers and did a great job of illustrating this theme to its fullest. Not only did the story and characters showcase the harm and damage that bullying can take, but showed the impact that taking ownership of one’s mistakes and trying to fix our behavior moving forward can bring one onto the path of redemption, and can help hopefully curb any rise in bullying that can occur in schools. 

The Verdict

A truly heartfelt, relatable, and quick yet powerful middle grade and YA drama, authors Mary Elizabeth Jackson and Thornton Cline’s “Cheers from Heaven’’ is a must-read book. The narrative is relatable and emotionally driven, and the exploration of bettering oneself and taking ownership of our own mistakes, as well as teaching students how to treat one another and to let go of peer pressure to fit into some sort of social norm, made this such a passionate and engaging story to get lost in. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

Mary Elizabeth Jackson is an #1 Amazon Best selling author in the collaborative anthologies The Fearless Entrepreneurs and Invisible No More, Invincible Forever More and the 2017 Maxy award-winning author of the children’s book series Perfectly Precious Poohlicious, Poohlicious Look at Me, and Poohlicious Oh the Wonder of Me, (Tuscany Bay Books). Cheers from Heaven, a mid-grade reader releases in 2021, (Tuscany Bay Books), with co-writer Thornton Cline. Jackson focuses on writing empowering books for kids and is working on an eight-book series with Cline for children as well as books for the special need’s community and a motivational book for adults. Jackson is also a ghostwriter, songwriter, book collaborator and the voice for the Sports2gether App.

Jackson is the co- founder and co- hosts of Writers Corner Live TV Show and Special Needs TV Shows on Amazon Live, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Writers Corner Live features author interviews from debut authors to New York Times bestsellers and everything about writing all the way to getting published. Special Needs TV features interviews and resources for parents, families, and caregivers. Jackson is an ambassador advocate for AutismTn.

Mrs. Jackson has been featured and interviewed on national and international radio shows including Sirius XM and iheart radio as well as numerous Podcasts and TV shows.

Jackson is starting a YouTube channel and an Amazon Live show dedicated to children’s book reviews with her son who inspired her series, and an education show for kids of all needs.

Mrs. Jackson is a very busy mom and wife. She loves nature, being creative, anything funny, and inspiring others to believe in themselves. She lives with her hubby, three kids, and dog in the Nashville area. -Cherish every moment of life.

https://www.maryejackson.com/

Thornton Cline is an in-demand author, teacher, speaker, clinician, performer and songwriter

http://www.thorntoncline.com/