Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Page Turners by Kevin T. Johns

The Page Turners by Kevin T. Johns 5 of 5 stars.

Violent bullies. Broken homes. Black magic. Killer fiction.

Nate and his friends are thrilled to discover an ancient book of magic spells hidden in the school library--they now have the means to stand up to the villains who make high-school life such a battle. But, when the book's dark magic releases a fictional killer in the real world, the teens will need to prove they have what it takes to be heroes, or fall as bloody victims in their own horror story turned real. (Book blurb)

A rag-tag group of grade nine nerds, each with his own difficulties at home, gather together for a book club called The Page Turners. The boys have found that the only place they truly feel safe from the critical eyes of the small town Maplewright and the dangers of being on the low end of the totem pole in highschool is within the walls of fiction and fantasy. When the boys stumble across an ancient text of magic spells, however, they couldn't guess what sort of darkness would emerge when those walls come crumbling down. 

The Page Turners is an incredible coming-of-age story for teens who have found comfort and refuge in the pages of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. The story is dark, lyric, and seamless as it transitions from excerpts of one fantastical story to the all too real lives of the three boys to story centers around and back again. The narrative is rich in imagery and foreshadowing as it progresses and the writing alone is sure to keep the reader enthralled. It, in itself, is a page turner.

Kevin T. Johns has crafted a wonderful piece that is sure to appeal to the audience of ages 12-16 and anyone who can remember being a bit of a fantasy geek. The differing situations and genuine reactions of the characters are sure to be relatable, in some way, to all readers. The author has an amazing gift for metaphor and uses in quite liberally--though with good structure--throughout the novel, giving the narrative a very unique and captivating tone. The story will catch and hold your attention from the very beginning. The varying stories within the story were my favorite part, and I would love to see Kevin Johns write a high-fantasy epic or something of the sort.

I would like to take a moment to point out how wonderfully put-together and bound The Page Turners is as well. It goes above and beyond many self-published or independently published print novels. It is a truly gorgeous book and well worth the full-market price. I could certainly see it proudly displayed on the shelves of an indie book store. 

All in all, The Page Turners is a fantastic read that I would suggest specifically for younger teens and die-hard fantasy lovers.

If you missed out on Kevin T. John's guest post Thursday, check it out here

Get your copy of The Page Turners!

Visit The Page Turners website here.

A special thanks to the author for giving me a chance to review this book. It has been a pleasure working with you!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Authors: Don't Go It Alone! - Guest Post by Kevin T. Jones

Guest Post by Kevin T. Johns, author of The Page Turners

The debut episode of Mistakes Rookie Authors Make, a weekly short-video series featuring writing tips for first-time authors, premiered online last Monday. 
The series is hosted by yours truly.
Unless you’ve already purchased my novel, The Page Turners, you probably have no idea who I am, and you’re probably asking yourself, “Just what qualifies this Kevin T. Johns guy to host a web series about mistakes rookie authors make in the drafting of their manuscripts?
Well, the answer is simple, my friends. 
I’m qualified to talk about the mistake authors make because… I’ve made them all myself!
Too long a book, too many character, a mish-mash of genres, not backing up my master copy, having no B plot, forcing rough drafts on friends and family, letting technology stand in my way, allowing myself to get distracted by other projects, giving in to apathy and laziness and self-doubt and fear – I’ve done it all folks!
Writing a novel is not an easy task, your high school education probably didn’t equip you with the skill-set required to write a novel. Heck, I have a master’s degree in English Literature, and it still took me eight years to craft The Page Turners.
Amongst the myriad of missteps I made along the way to publication, I think the largest was not seeking support, advice, and training from those who had been there before me, and already walked the path I was blindly stumbling my way down. 
Your average person doesn’t dive into advanced physics and expect to excel without the support of a teacher, and yet so many of us approach novel writing in just that manner 
We have this image of “the artist” in our society as this loner individual, existing on the periphery of society, capturing the metaphysical energies of the muse, and translating that power down onto the canvass or the written page. 
But that isn’t how it really works.
There is nothing metaphysical about writing a novel. Like everything else in life, what it takes to write and publish a book is hard work, perseverance, an adequate knowledge-base, and an appropriately developed skill-set.
I encourage any aspiring or struggling authors reading this to check out Mistakes Rookie Authors Make and sign-up for the mailing list to get a new episode sent their way every week, but if I could give them one piece of advice right now, it is this: Don’t go it alone, and don’t sit around waiting for the muse to visit you (she tends to be an often tardy mistress). 
Seek out the supports you need. The internet in an absolute wealth of knowledge. Get help from veterans, experts, coaches and mentors. Take training and attend workshops. And, most important of all, put in the hard work necessary.
There is nothing magical about the process involved in writing a novel. But, if you are lucky, that end product, the book itself, just might work some magic for your readers.

Kevin Johns is the author of The Page Turners, and host of Mistakes Rookie Authors Make, a weekly short-video series featuring writing tips for first-time novelists. Just visit http://yournovelblueprint.com to watch the latest episode and join the mailing list to get a new episode in your in-box every Monday!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Blog Tour: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives--an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school's most eligible bachelor) and look forward to two glorious day of boys, booze, and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging outside, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn't scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine? (Book blurb)

Meg Pritchard is a writer, an introvert. For her entire high school life she has lived to take care of her emotionally unstable best-friend Minnie, but Minnie's constant mood changes and possessiveness are beginning to wear on Meg's nerves. She's been accepted into a college thousands of miles away, and Minnie's anxiety at her leaving has only been growing as the time comes closer for Meg to leave. As a sort of last chance to bond, Meg--against her better judgement--agrees to go with Minnie to a house party on a small, ritzy island.

She expected the unchaperoned chaos of a house full of teenagers, but now she'll be lucky if she can make it out alive.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil is a summer thriller. It's a fast read filled with suspense and a creep-factor that will make you want to leave the light on as you read it. Nothing is predictable in McNeil's work as you wait on the booggy-man to jump out of the closet. This isn't your fainting heroine type of horror story though. The closer you are to the end of the book the more you want to shout your encouragement to Meg. Even if there are a few times you want to scream, "DON'T GO IN THERE!!"

I am not a fan of horror movies. However, some of my favorite YA books have turned out to be in that very sub genre. Ten by Gretchen McNeil, however, was a bit too much for me. I literally couldn't read it after nightfall. It was full of suspense and gorey, cold-blooded murders. No, thank you. I also found the narrator, Meg, a bit whiney at the start of the book.

But, despite all of this, I did enjoy it. The last scenes in the book completely redeemed it anywhere else it fell short to my slightly biased taste. Meg turned out to be a kick-ass heroine and even though in the end she's lost nearly everything, you can feel a sort of soldier-like depression but also a hardy resilience, and you know that the character you've been following will be okay.

McNeil's writing was simple throughout most of the book. There wasn't a great deal of profound depth, which makes it a perfect quick-read in the summer time or between hectic classes during the darker half of the year. Her real, shining talent is in writing the suspenseful scenes, like the fight scene at the end. That last fourth of the book blew me away. The words and the actions they portrayed had no awkwardness, they flowed perfectly and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Overall, a wonderful short read for your horror fan, a beyond perfect gift for Halloween, Ten definitely deserves the attention of a suspense-loving reader.

Don't forget to check out the other stops on the TEN Tour! 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Blog Tour: TEN by Gretchen McNeil - Character Interview

Hi, everyone!

Welcome to my first post of the TEN Tour, celebrating the release of the horrific new thriller Ten by Gretchen McNeil. TEN is a wonderfully dark novel as we quickly approach the dark half of the year. I, however, being the wimp that I am, read it over the summer. And ONLY in the daytime. You'll be reading my full review in a few days...

Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, writer and clown. Her YA horror POSSESS debuted with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins in 2011. Her follow up TEN – YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped on a remote island with a serial killer – will be released September 18, 2012, and her third novel 3:59, sci fi horror pitched as The Parent Trap meets Event Horizon, is scheduled for Fall 2013.

Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys and she sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. Gretchen blogs with The Enchanted Inkpot and is a founding member of the vlog group the YARebels where she can be seen as "Monday." 

Now, let's get to know a couple of the characters. Shall we? 

Questions for Minnie:

How did you and Meg become friends?  

We were paired up in gym class in the 7th grade.  Meg was the new girl and didn't have a lot of friends, but we instantly hit it off!

When did you fall in love with TJ?  

*sigh*  Damn, that boy is HAWT.  I can't remember a time I wasn't in love with him, but I do remember that time in 8th grade when one of his teammates was saying some nasty crap to me in line at lunch and T.J. told him to cut it out.  I knew then – we were made for each other.

What's your favorite flavor of ice-cream?  

One? I have to pick just one?  Um, oreo cookie.  No wait, cookie dough.  Or can I put them both together and make one giant, unholy flavor?  Crap, I hate choosing!!!

Favorite outfit?  

Oh, that's worse than the ice cream question.  What's wrong with you???  Okay, I'll go with a strapless, flirty summer dress.  And kitten heels.  And a clutch.  And maybe some long dangly earrings that just graze my collarbone.

Questions for Ben:

How do you like high school?  

It's a necessary evil.  I mean, most of the teachers are jerks, but if you have to go, you might as well make the most of it.  Besides, you meet some REALLY cool people.

How did you get invited to the house party?  

Jessica, the host, and I know each other pretty well.  We, er, date sometimes.  It's casual.

Favorite horror movie?  

Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  The original, not that remake crap.

Favorite book?  

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

And their doom comes swiftly.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives – three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, both of which involve Kamiak High’s most eligible bachelor, T.J. Fletcher. But what starts out as a fun-filled weekend turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine. 

Suddenly, people are dying and the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

I just wanted to drop in and wish you all a very happy Easter and a bright and beautiful Spring!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Pirate's Life for Me! -- Awesome Giveaway!

Everyone who knows me knows about my life-long obsession with pirates, and I have found that many of you share that attraction to a swashbuckling way of life. So, when I saw that my very pirate-savvy friend Brielle was hosting a giveaway for one of her gorgeous Tia Dalma inspired wrist cuffs, I had to share!

Click here to enter!

While you're over there, be sure and check out Brielle's other full costumes. The pirate costumes are to die for! As is just about everything else. She's amazingly talented!

Here are some of my favorite costumes of hers to give you an idea:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins 5 of 5 stars.


Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol--a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying. (Book blurb)

Tensions have been rising in the districts of Panem. How could they not with a continuing ceaseless slaughter year after year of their children? As things rise to the boiling point security is tightened to a choking degree even in the middle-of-nowhere District 12. Even in the Capitol things have become shaky with unrest as an audience who has fallen in love with the two star-crossed lovers Katniss and Peeta watch them be continually punished (even if the Capitol big-wigs describe it differently) despite all they've been through. A heart, soul, and strength appear in Panem as the people rich and poor alike begin to adopt Katniss's symbol of the Mockingjay and whispers of full-on rebellion circulate.

It doesn't take long for Katniss to realize she's the face of this rebellion, that her act with the berries in the 74th Annual Hunger Games has been the breath of air that pushed the tense nation over the edge. She also knows that the President and the Peacekeepers will never forgive her for it.

Catching Fire was just as thrilling and heart-wrenching as The Hunger Games showing that same steely will in Katniss too survive and that undying loyalty to those she loves.The danger and suspense that surrounds Katniss after President Snow's visit and her genuine reaction to the things they throw at her makes me love the character all the more.

What I liked best in this book was how Suzanne Collins showed the politics of Panem coming to a head and the ways in which she let Katniss and Peeta see this: with the strange salute in District 11 and the shooting of an innocent man, with the whipping of Gale, and Katniss being unable to cross over the newly electric fence. Even the way she showed Cinna's own form of rebellion and the genuine sorrow of the shallow beauty techs. All of it matched together so real and naturally and formed in our head no likely the same images of what was happening that were forming in Katniss's own.

I loved seeing the dynamics this added to all of the characters. Peeta's steady strength shown under stress, and Haymitch's blatant disregard for the feelings of the two kids in his care when it came down to it. Haymitch was given a chance to help this rebellion fly and he pushed his Mockingjay under the bus for it. Gale's readiness to fight at the first signs of a possible war in Panem was staggering.

Everything seems so natural, which is probably what's hooked me on this novel. I've always liked books that dealt with history in a way I could understand, by showing the actions (some of which you wouldn't expect at all) from the people who surrounded those events, people you can relate with. This futuristic idea of a cruel totalitarian society in North American and how fed-up the people are with it is made real by the characters, their beliefs and their actions. It's a beautifully harmonized story that made me cry like a baby at least twice while reading it and especially at the end.

There's no one in particular I would suggest this too. I think everyone should at least give it a try because it is an amazing series. Mockingjay, here I come!

And may the odds be ever in your favor!