GENRE: Young Adult Dystopian
PUBLISHER: Tara Brown Publishing (self published)
AUTHOR: Tara Brown
LENGTH: 274 pages
AUDIENCE: Young Adult/AdultTHE RUNDOWN: "It's us and them, Em. There are no regular people anymore."
When civilization as we know it suddenly grinds to a screeching halt, Emma and her father are one of the few people ready. Growing up with a survivalist father, Emma is tough, prepared and willing to turn away from any other human so she can survive. Her father taught her that the only creature she can trust is her pet wolf. The two of them survive alone for years until one day a girl knocks on her secluded cabin door. The tearful girl begs Emma for help; her brother has fallen and broken his leg. He'll die if Emma doesn't help. Going back on everything she was taught, Emma breaks down and helps, opening herself up to finally caring about another person. But, caring about others comes at a price. When Emma learns Anna has been taken by the government to be used as breeding stock, Emma decides to go in after her. There she learns how dark and twisted the government's procedures are. Now she'll stop at nothing to save the other girls who are being used and discarded.
THE RECOMMENDATION: As a young adult dystopian story, this book follows all the rules. There's a steamy love triangle, a kick-butt heroine, and a ravaged world falling apart at the seams. It is clear that Brown has a good grasp of pace and conflict that makes this book a page-turner. It also sells very well, set at a $.96 price point that makes it an easy buy.
There are some issues however that really soured this experience for me. First of all, Ms. Brown could have used a good editor. It isn't rife with errors like some books, but there were many times when sentence structure or awkward phrasing took me out of the book. Nothing awful or unreadable, but it kept happening over and over. The second issue I had was with the main character, Emma. I get that she is a hardened human being. She would have to be to survive in a world with zombies and government abductors. But she's so angry, often without a clear reason. One minute she loves Jake, the next she is furious with him. Then she loves Will, then she's furious with HIM. She sacrifices herself for the girls she meets, but then is also often furious with them. Her range of emotion felt like being in a middle school dance; the drama was exhausting and often not founded. By the end I just didn't like Emma. And this is problem.
Overall, many people enjoyed this book and it is a quick, light read that is entertaining. I think the story provided was worth a buck. But I did not feel compelled to pick up the rest of the story. There are too many spectacular books in the world.
THE RATING: 3 out of 5 stars
THE LINKS: Find it on Amazon
Find Tara Brown on Twitter
Find Tara Brown on FacebookTHE REVIEWERKatie French is the author of The Breeders, a Young Adult dystopian adventure and Eyes Ever to the Sky, a sci fi romance. Nessa: A Breeders Story, a prequel novelette is available in a new anthology on Amazon. Sign up for notifications, follow her @KatielFrench or like her on Facebook.
Readers, I'm so excited to share with you the project I've been working on. It's called Darkest Worlds: A Dystopian Anthology
and it's just what it sounds like, a kick-butt compilation of six novellas from today's top indie dystopian authors (I know, how did I get in there, right?). The anthology rocks, but the best part of it all is being able to work with some really top-notch authors. I've carved out a special place in my heart for these five fantastic ladies and you will too. The anthology is available on Amazon, B&N and Kobo for only $2.99 and here's the best part: all proceeds go to a charity helping grow literacy in inner city youth called Girls Write Now.
Here's the blurb to get you interested.Nessa: A Breeders Story
by Katie French, author of The Breeders
: Eighteen-year-old Nessa knows what it’s like to be an endangered species. Growing up in a dying world where nine out of ten babies are born male, she survives by trusting no one. When Marlin, the nineteen-year-old gunslinger, kills the man who has been keeping her enslaved, Nessa decides he might be her meal ticket. What she doesn’t realize is love is still possible, even in their decimated world.MOON
by S.K. Falls, author of World of Shell and Bone
: Loyalty. Obedience. Patriotism. Moon Stewart has no doubt that the New Amanian way of life is the right way. The only way. But was there ever a time when she felt differently? In this companion novella to the dystopian bestseller World of Shell and Bone, the secrets of Moon’s past are revealed, giving readers a glimpse into the mind of their favorite antagonist.The First Unforgivable Thing
by Zoe Cannon, author of The Torturer’s Daughter
: When a dissident working undercover as an interrogator finds himself in an interrogation room with the only girl he’s ever loved, he chooses to defy both the totalitarian regime and the resistance by helping her escape—but she has an agenda of her own…The Keeper
by A.G. Henley, author of The Scourge
: a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Award. Peree knows his duty as the new Keeper of the Water Bearer, Fennel, is to make sure his people get every drop of their share of the water she collects when the flesh-eating Scourge roam the forest. He will motivate her, distract her, do anything he can to keep her working. He knows his duty is to his people and his people alone. What he doesn’t know is that he’s falling in love with her.Survival Lessons
by Kate Avery Ellison, author of Frost:
A young Farther prisoner named Eva escapes into the monster-filled wilderness of the Frost with a band of fellow inmates, all of whom are harboring secrets…but little do they know that Eva has secrets of her own. Set in the world of The Frost Chronicles
.clean slate complex
by Megan Thomason, author of the daynight
series: Homeless Alexa Knight agrees to help the do-gooder non-profit The Second Chance Institute in return for medical care for her sick mother. The SCI is wooing the poor and downtrodden into their Clean Slate Complexes–where “everything is provided” from jobs to food, shelter, clothing, and education. Unfortunately, as with all things that sound too good to be true, there’s a catch…
Buy Darkest Worlds
, Barnes and Noble
, and Kobo.Katie French is the author of The Breeders, a Young Adult dystopian adventure and Eyes Ever to the Sky, a sci fi romance. Nessa: A Breeders Story, a prequel novelette is available in a new anthology on Amazon. Sign up for notifications, follow her @KatielFrench or like her on Facebook.
LENGTH: 286 pages
PUBLISHER: Hopewell Media LLC
THE RUNDOWNIt’s no secret that I’m a fan of dystopian literature. So when a request to read Terra by Gretchen Powell came my way, I had to agree. The cover is professional and the blurb is eye-catching. Add in a strong female lead and you have all the makings of a fine piece of YA dystopia. I had to pick it up.
The premise is solid: Terra, a teenaged girl, lives in a world divided in two. The “haves” live in sky domes above the acid rain that burns everything under its reach. The “have-nots” live on the ground, scrounging for scrap, hiding at home when acid rain falls, and eating gelatinous goop. Terra and her brother Mica are two of the have-nots. Living in a settlement on the plague-ravaged earth, they do what they can to scrape by. Terra is a scav who risks life and limb to uncover metals and pieces of plastic to sell to the recycling centers. It's a dangerous job, but she does it well. When she finds a piece of scrap worth a year’s wages, everything changes. Now they can afford to eat real food and replace their ragged clothing. But before she can spend any of her new wealth, she is chased by a gang of raiders into the abandoned city. She is rescued from her pursuers by a sky-dweller. His mysterious appearance and his strange ways soon send Terra’s life into a tailspin. Together they uncover a conspiracy that will put their lives at risk.
It is clear from the get-go that Powell has a firm grasp on dystopian tropes. Terra
has the strong-willed female, the ravaged world, the mysterious love interest. Powell also knows her stuff when it comes to storytelling. The plot never stalled as it often does with many self-published novels I read. Her sense of pace carries the reader along nicely, including some cliffhanger chapter endings which got me to read on past my bedtime. As a reader I found myself engaged, interested and sympathetic to Terra’s plight. I was intrigued by Adam’s appearance and spurred on by their interactions together. It is not often I find myself feeling compelled to keep reading books I’m requested to review. Terra
was a rare and much needed exception.
There were two minor things that annoyed me. One was the abundance of adverbs sprinkled through the text. As soon as I noticed how many there were, I couldn’t stop from noticing and mentally deleting them in my head. Readers who are not writers may not find this as annoying. The second annoyance was that the opening of the book was so similar to Hunger Games
it almost killed it for me in the first chapter. Luckily the voice and action compelled me further and later chapters did not suffer from Katniss Everdeen syndrome like the first.
4.5 out of 5 stars. One of my favorite self-published reads so far this year. I’m looking forward to see what is up next for Powell.
THE LINKSBuy Terra on Amazon
Find Gretchen Powell at her website
Find Gretchen Powell on GoodReads
THE REVIEWERKatie French is the author of The Breeders, a Young Adult dystopian adventure and Eyes Ever to the Sky, a sci fi romance. Nessa: A Breeders Story, a prequel novelette is available in a new anthology on Amazon. Sign up for notifications, follow her @KatielFrench or like her on Facebook.
Today's guest is Dan Haight author of Flotilla, a young adult dystopia set on the ocean. Daniel is an emerging science fiction novelist with many published short stories. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, he is equal parts 'geek' and 'blue collar' with a love for science fiction, emerging technology and working with his hands.Please welcome him to the Underground!
is described as a coming-of-age story. When you set out to tell Jim's story did you know you would be exploring his journey into manhood or did he just evolve over time?Dan:
Total evolution. I started out with a group of scenes - I had this kid, he did different things but it wasn't a whole novel. Gradually over time I realized that I wanted to write a complete novel and then began structuring my writing to meet that.Katie:
What draws you to post-apocalyptic fiction?Dan:
That's easy - because it's fun! Even if you were always a good kid in school, even if you would never dream of doing it in real life, there's a part of you that wants to break windows, pour paint on the teacher's desk or burn your report card. It's the joy that comes from the gratuitous act, I think. Now that I'm grown up, when I write Post-apocalyptic fiction, I get to be the big kid who knocks down the sandcastles. I get to be the kid who squirts all the toothpaste out of the tube into the sink and Mom can't yell at me.
Another bonus is this: if you're like me, you get to live out all of your fantasies of getting out from under the boring parts of your life. Think about it: No more going to a job you hate, no more arguing with the credit card company. Post-apocalyptic fiction is about the old writer's adage, 'murder your darlings.' That's why I love it ... that's why people will always find a post-apocalyptic story to tell. Everyone has their own version.Katie:
You write about the ocean. Is there a reason you picked the water as your backdrop in this story? Dan:
Sure - inspiration for me starts out like a 'what if' question. In Flotilla's case, I hated my job and I was wondering what life would be like if I lived on the ocean. Then, because I'm a total geek, I started asking "well how could you afford that, and why would anyone want to live on the ocean?" I just kept coming up with questions and answers and before I knew it, I had a universe that I could write about.
As far as 'ocean as backdrop', I'm not much on symbolism but I do think that Jim being on the ocean gives him an opportunity to get some perspective on life. Up until that point, he was consumed with his dysfunctional family and his addictions. The ocean, and it's accompanying life-threatening challenges gave him a much-needed kick in the pants.
LENGTH: 208 pages
AUDIENCE: Young Adult
While many dystopian stories may stick to settings we’re all familiar with (towns, carnivals, woods) Dan Haight’s dystopia, Flotilla carves a new path. Set on a floating city in the ocean, this story has a setting all of its own. The main character, sixteen-year-old rehab survivor Jim, is being sent by his mother to live with his father. Jim’s partying ways have become dangerous and his mother believes hard work on his father’s boat is the curve to what ails him. Though he's a screw up, Jim is instantly likable and sympathetic. Even though he’s "up a creek" of his own making due to alcohol abuse, he never complains (at least not out loud) about the massive workload dumped on him as soon as he arrives. His father, a gruff man, sets out to make Jim a man. It turns out disastrous world events will be the catalyst for that change.
The narrative voice in this book is what drew me in. Jim’s voice is both humorous and heartfelt, a combination not easily crafted. The language and story-telling abilities of Haight are top-notch, no amateurish prose here. And I found the ecosystem of the floating city to be well-thought out and interesting. It made me want to research if cities like these really existed, that’s how realistic his portrayal is.
So why isn’t this book selling better? My guess is one thing: pace. This is an excellent coming-of-age story, masterfully told. Yet the pace is not up to par with other young adult titles. The rule of thumb for most books is to include the inciting incident (the moment where everything changes irrevocably forever) before the fiftieth page. Flotilla doesn’t heat up until at least two-thirds into the novel. For a teenage audience, this is just too long. Haight might do better to go back and move his world destruction up and save the world-building for another book.
For those who like strong voice and likable characters, Flotilla is a winner. For those looking for a page-turner, you might be advised to turn elsewhere. Still, a strong book overall. THE RATING
4 out of 5 starsTHE LINKS
Buy it on Amazon
Check it out on Goodreads
Follow @FlotillaOnline on Twitter
Visit his website
THE REVIEWERKatie French is the author of The Breeders, a Young Adult dystopian adventure and Eyes Ever to the Sky, a sci fi romance. Nessa: A Breeders Story, a prequel novelette is available on Amazon. Sign up for notifications, follow her @KatielFrench or like her on Facebook.
TITLE: The Guys are Props Club
AUTHOR: Ingrid Seymour
GENRE(S): New Adult Romance
LENGTH: 257 pages
THE RUNDOWNWith the creation of New Adult literature, many books are springing up to engage new readers. The Guys are Props Club seems positioned perfectly to fill this new void. A well-written debut from author Ingrid Seymour, Guys are Props is sexy, engaging and romantic.
Maddie Burch, a nineteen-year-old college student, has never had anything handed to her. After a devastating heartbreak in high school, Maddie decides that guys are players and must be avoided at all costs. She joins her roommate and best friend, Jessica in the “Guys as Props” club. The rules are simple: members must pull “plays” on unsuspecting guys. The goal: to play the players and break the hearts of guys who would do the same if they had the chance.
Then Maddie stumbles across sexy Sebastian Capello at a dance class and everything changes. Maddie is drawn in by Sebastian's charm and good looks, but quickly realizes he has all the qualities of the players she's avoiding. Like a smart girl should, she tries to steer clear of Sebastian, yet somehow runs into him at every turn. Will she have the will-power to deny her heart's (and body's) desires? Or will she be taken in by Sebastian's Latin hotness?
As a recently created genre, New Adult literature seems to be the new frontier for a lot of authors. The genre allows them to write stories that embody both the innocence of a young adult novel with the mature content of an adult novel. Guys are Props
fits right in. The writing is tight and well-edited. There are no grammatical or syntax errors in this self-published title. You can tell from the start that Seymour is a seasoned professional. The characters are well-formed, interesting, and read like real people. The pacing is nearly perfect with no flat scenes and spurred on with lots of smokin'-hot love scenes to pique reader's interests. The plot was not entirely new and a little predictable, but that did not stop me from really enjoying the book. It's a very engaging read that you will find yourself drawn into reading well past your bedtime.
Pick up this book. You will not be disappointed 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Find Guys are Props on Amazon.
Find Ingrid on her website.
review by: Katie FrenchGENRE: Young Adult Science Fiction
PUBLISHED THROUGH: Millhouse Press
Every child dreams of what the world would be like if all parents suddenly disappeared. The basis of Quests of Shadowind: Sky Shifter
explores that idea. Fifteen-year-old Logan and his thirteen-year-old sister, Mindy, wake up one morning to find their parents gone. The teens have been transported to someone else's house and into someone else's pjs. Seeking a logical answer to this very strange situation, the two venture out, only to see other children in the same predicament. Things get stranger still when a local young adult, Preston, is captured by a giant metal spider. Continuing through this cyber rabbit hole, the pair soon learn that Logan can enter his computer and play the games there.
The villain soon arrives in the form of local bully, Kyle Whitelaw. The neighborhood kids pair off in groups of good versus evil. While Mindy and Logan try to solve their bully problem, they also realize they have to square off against more giant metal insects and worse, the Lord Torrent of the Deep Shadows, a dark ruler of the land inside Logan's computer. Will they get out alive? Will they ever get home?
Fun and fast-paced, this story has many imaginative scenes and events that make it an exciting romp for speculative fiction lovers. Mindy and Logan are sweet and caring protagonists. And L.A. Miller produced a quality book in terms of editing, format and cover. The adventure of entering computers and fighting virtual villains is not new, but Miller approaches it in a unique way.
Where the story fell short was the character development. The teens in this book seem sticky sweet and cardboard flat. The main bully says at one point, “Go sell that rubbish to the trash yard...” Maybe we're a little more crude where I come from, but when the roughest kid in town is trash talking, this is not exactly how he sounds. The bully was stereotypical, as was the annoying, yet lovable kid sister and the gallant and nearly perfect main hero. With stronger characters, however, the book could really soar.
Suited best for tweens and young teens, I think younger audiences would like the book. In my humble opinion, Miller would do better to lower the ages of his protagonists and sell this as a middle grade novel. It reads more like that age group and they would get a huge kick out of the action adventure it delivers.
3 out of 5 stars
Buy it on Amazon
Check out L.A. Miller on GoodReads
Follow L.A. Miller on Twitter
THE REVIEWERKatie French, co-founder and contributor at Underground Book Reviews, hails from Michigan, the land of wool socks. Mother, wife and school counselor, she writes whenever she is blessed with a spare moment. Her young adult sci fi books The Breeders and Eyes Ever to the Sky are available now on Amazon. You can find her at KatieFrenchBooks.com.
The Fall: Tales from the ApocalypseEditor:
Matt Sinclair Publisher:
Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, LLCGenre(s):
pagesTHE RUNDOWNTales about the end of civilization as we know it have captivated audiences for generations. It is no wonder that The Fall: Tales from the Apocalypse would be just as intriguing. This group of stories all tied to the common theme of man's destruction gives the reader much to think about. Below are the tales and a brief summary of plot. Trust by R.C. Lewis - A family struggles to stay alive after the collapse of government. Hairline Cracks by Ryan Graudin - Zombies tear apart a relationship. "Lumberjack zombie becomes his own Fruit Gusher. Though his flavor is probably more Triple Berry Shock than anything else..."The Last Day of the Fall by Matt Sinclair - A hodge-podge group struggles to make it through the winter. Disconnect by Mindy McGinnis - A humorous meeting between God and Angels two seconds after the
apocalypse. "GOD: How am I supposed to deliver The Judgment without The iPhone?"WWBBCDITZA by A.M. Supinger -
What Would Big Black Cat Do In The Zombie Apocalypse? Solar Flare by Alexandra Tys O'Connor -
A teen, trained by his survivalist mom, faces off against a corrupt coach after the apocalypse.Emanate by Amy Trueblood
- A brother must protect his sister from both the aliens and the people who want to use her life energy. "I would do anything to keep my sister from their grasp, even if it meant being buried alive for ten hours every night."Little League by Cat Woods -
A baseball game between the Devils and the Saints has some very high stakes. Rebirth by A.M. Supinger -
A selkie, half seal half human, finds a way to truly become human, but at great cost. Crumbs by Jean Oram -
A photojournalist uses her camera to keep an eye on a survivor who she fancies. The Last Perfomance of the Neighborhood Summer Theatre Festival by R. S. Mellette -
A man arrives to see a show that has been canceled. Bone Dust by P.S. Carrillo -
A young woman falls in love with a doctor who has found a way to bring back the souls of the dead. Flight Plans by J. Lea Lopez -
A pilot takes one last flight before the end. The Last Sacrifice by Judy Croome -
A tribal leader finds that the ultimate sacrifice is not his own life, but the life of one he loves. THE REVIEW
With such a slew of stories there is bound to be tales that appeal to all readers. Some stories were stronger than others. Some left me hanging, wanting more of a satisfying ending. However, the overall effect of reading this pairing of stories was entertaining and thought-provoking. Some stories made me laugh. Some made me ponder. It was nice to have a mix of topics and emotional content centered around a theme that I find intriguing.
Overall, I think anyone drawn to dystopian literature will enjoy this book. There's something in it for everyone and many of the stories are top-notch and worth the 2.99 price tag.
Four out of Five Stars**I recieved a free review copy in exchange for an honest review. LINKS
Find the book on Amazon
Find Elephant's Bookshelf Press, LLC.
You Can't Shatter MeAuthor:
Young Adult, Magical RealismLength:
With bullying on the forefront of everyone’s minds these days, it is no wonder that You Can’t Shatter Me
, a young adult magical realism story, caught my eye. The story revolves around two young protagonists: Carly, the teenage girl-next-door with a huge imagination and Dylan, the nerdy-yet-lovable boy who catches her eye. The two embark on a sweet first romance that is often interrupted by the local bully, Justin. Like all bullies, he finds great joy in picking on those different than himself. When Dylan stands up for one of these poor souls, Carly knows he is the boy she’d like to get to know. The story is told through a series of events, punctuated by imaginative scenes where giant hooks dangle from the sky or words appear and zoom around the characters. The tone is whimsical and light, with some deep messages about standing up for yourself and not conforming to those that might want to bring you down.The Review
The book was well-written and Newland’s voice is both interesting and unique. Both characters are likable, as is the supporting cast of friends and siblings. The bully and his cohorts were a little stereotypical, but the depth of Carly and Dylan helped me to overlook that detail. Newland shows she is a master at the English language and you get some fun tidbits of Australia lore and lingo here as well.
There are two issues I have with this book. One is I felt the magical realism scenes were a little off-putting. For example, Dylan and Carly are on their first date. In the middle of that scene, Dylan has an imaginary conversation with a director about sticking to the script and using more compliant actresses. It stopped the forward momentum of the story and seemed a little bizarre. I think I got what Newland was trying to do, but an inner-monologue could have sufficed. This went on throughout the story and sometimes I couldn’t tell if the events were actually taking place or all in their minds.
The second issue is the seemingly-adult nature with which the bullying situations were handled. In my day job as a school counselor, we often try to tell students to make good choices when it comes to dealing with peers. Half the time they do so, but the other half of the time their emotions and hormones get the better of them and they make the wrong choice. Such is life. We live and learn. Yet, somehow Carly and Dylan always seemed to make the right choice. And at the end, a bit of heavy-handed life lesson shows up to tie it all into a neat bow. I am not sure that teens would connect with this much perfect, Pollyanna sweetness. With most teen literature even the protagonists make bad choices. It is how they then deal with them and grow that makes the book interesting.
The book is definitely worth a look, especially for a teen who has struggled through bullying. This book may be therapeutic for someone who has suffered on the wrong end of a misguided peer. The even better news is that the Kindle book is free on Amazon from May 29th - the 31st
. Grab it while you still can.
Three and a half out of Five StarsTahlia's links
, and GoodReads
I am very excited to announce my second book, a young adult sci-fi romance called Eyes Ever to the Sky, is now available on Amazon.
Writing and launching a second book is an amazing experience and I do hope you like the final product. I'm also celebrating by giving away a $25 gift card on my website.
Check out the book and let me know what you think. And thanks to all my Underground friends who helped make this possible. When Hugh wakes up in a smoldering crater—no memory, no clothes—a single thought echoes in his head…trust no one. Frightened and alone, with no memory of who he is, he stumbles upon a grisly murder scene and is fatally shot. He wakes, only to find he can heal himself. He has superpowers and he’s going to need them.
Desperate and bleeding, Hugh stumbles upon fifteen-year-old Cece, who’s got enough troubles of her own. Between caring for her bipolar mother and trying not to get evicted from her run-down trailer, Cece may be the only person struggling as much as Hugh. Drawn to Hugh, Cece finds a love she’s never known. But when the real killer—a man-hunting beast—chooses another victim, Hugh and Cece realize they must unlock the clues to their past if they have any chance at a future.