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
click on image to purchase
I watched the screen as the information rolled in. More breaking news: the bodies of two children now found on the grounds of the churchyard. Police looking for two more. The image panned out to reveal a heavenly view of an idyllic country church.
I turned my head to see Karen standing behind me, holding what looked like a sock.
“They’ve found another body.”
“Could you tidy away your clothes?”
She ignored me. “There’s a jacket in the hall and a pile of clothes in the bedroom.”
“Hmm…” I returned my attention to the screen. Some local woman was now being interviewed. “I don’t believe it,” she was saying. “He’s a lovely man; it just doesn’t make sense. A more gentle human being you wouldn’t find.”
“And could you stop watching that bloody TV?”
Karen hovered over me like a hawk. Her blonde hair was tied back in a pony tail, her arms folded like the clothes she had probably just ironed. She wasn’t going to move until I did.
“Oh for God’s sake. OK.” I picked up the remote and switched off the TV.
“Where’s the baby?” I asked, inferring she’d left him alone, something she’d have killed me for herself.
“In his cot,” she retorted.
I lowered my sword. I knew when I was beat.
Michael was almost two now but still we called him baby. Karen’s mum had cracked a wry joke a couple of days previous. She had said that if we kept calling him that, that he’d eventually think his name was baby.
“I’m going for a shower,” Karen declared. “And then I’ll take the kids to my mum’s.” Even after all this time she still had the accent. She wasn’t actually Australian; she had only lived there for about ten years, before moving back to the UK. But it had been long enough, and she’d been young enough, for the accent to stick. Karen loosened her long blond hair from its tight restraint.
“Am I taking Depp to his sleepover?” I asked. Depp was our oldest son. He had just turned five.
“No, I’ll take him this arvo. I should be back in a couple of hours.”
Excellent. Some quality time to myself. XBOX here I come. I picked up my jacket from the banister and leapt up the stairs, hot on the heels of my darling wife. “They know who did it,” I said.
“I need you to do one or two things about the house while I’m out.”
I wondered to myself whether she’d even heard me. People do that a lot to me. I say something in a crowd and it doesn’t register; it doesn’t even need to be that big a crowd – there just needs to be one other person in the room. I tried again. “He was the local priest.” As soon as I said this I knew I had made a mistake.
I hesitated. I was a practicing Catholic and Karen wasn’t. She had been born a Catholic, but that didn’t make you a Catholic. I suppose like with most people these days she belonged to the faith of secularism. For a second I thought about changing the subject. Was I betraying my faith by going any further? The last thing the church needed was another scandal involving kids. I decided to tread very carefully. “The murdered children. They’re holding the local priest for it. I think they’ve charged him.”
I hope you enjoyed the two kick-off episodes of Underground Book Reviews' Short Fiction Series. I’ll be back from time to time with more reviews of short stories, compendiums, novelettes and novels.
What would a short fiction series be without a plug for my
Carson’s Love? Incomplete, of course. You can find Carson’s love on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’m currently working on the sequel and hope to have published by the end of the year. Enjoy.
The doors open across the garden and an elderly black man steps out. He holds the doors open with his butt, keeping a pole on tri-pod wheels upright with one hand and pulling a red wagon with the other. The pole is the same type they use to hold the IV bag next to Carson’s bed, but this one is top heavy with bulky electrical boxes, pumps, and syringes.
A tangle of tubes and wires lead to a small black boy, about Carson’s age, in the wagon. The poor child’s arms and chest are covered with so many tubes, wires, and surgical tape he looks like some kind of toddler cyborg.
I suspect the old man is his grandfather. Dressed in khaki shorts and a golf shirt he sports a pot belly and short graying hair. Grandpa struggles to prevent the wires and tubes from pulling while keeping the pole upright. With the skill of someone who’s obviously done this many times, he manages to drag the pole and wagon into the garden. He gently lifts the child and softly deposits him in the dew covered grass.
I pretend to examine my phone while watching the pair through the corner of my eye. Dressed only in a diaper, his face and limbs are puffy and his hair stands straight up. He looks like a troll baby doll.
I stifle a giggle. I see his runny nose from here and badly want to wipe it.
The child picks up a leaf, shows it to Grandpa and says, “Eeaaf!”
“Yes, Jamal, llleeeeaf!
”Grandpa replies in a deep, loving tone.
The sun peaks around the eastern wing and drops a bright ray on Jamal like a spotlight.
He’s still for a moment, surprised by the sudden light, then squints up at the fresh, blue sky.
“Peep peeps!” he suddenly shouts and points at the pigeons circling above the buildings.
“Peep peeps!” he repeats, stumbles forward after the birds and falls down. One of the lines pulls taunt before Grandpa can push the pole forward. It jerks and Jamal gives a sharp cry. Grandpa catches the pole before it falls over on the boy. Jamal screams as one of the electronic boxes blares an alarm.
I cringe. It’s the cry only a parent knows...he’s really hurt.
I’m on my feet. I don’t think the fall was bad, he fell on his hands and the grass is soft.
Before I reach them Grandpa has Jamal in the wagon and is untangling the tubes and wires. Again, Grandpa struggles with the door. I open it and he nods in thanks. The beeping becomes a steady flat line tone and Jamal’s cries turn to frantic. Oh my God!
An expanding blot of bright red blood forms under the gauze on his chest where a tube protrudes and runs to the blaring box. The fluid in the line turns red near his chest.
Grandpa hurries to the elevator. The pole’s wheels jiggle and shimmy, hindering his urgency. He punches the up button and, thankfully, the doors open instantly.
Between Jamal’s screams and the alarm it’s hard not to panic. I keep the elevator open as he fights with the pole and wagon.
“What floor?” I ask as I get on the elevator..
“Four.” That’s Carson’s floor. That’s oncology.
Elevator music, screams, and alarms blend into a surreal orchestra as Grandpa stares ahead, jaw clenching with each scream.
I take out a fresh tissue and wipe Jamal’s nose and tears.
Grandpa meets my eyes. I know he’s angry at himself. But he’s not really angry, he’s scared. That’s the way Rob is. Maybe that’s the way all men are, they turn their fear to something else, unable to confront their own terror.
“Thank you, ma’am. They can’t expect a boy to stay in that goddamn crib all day,” he chokes back an unexpected sob, almost unable to contain it. “He’s gotta get out and play. You’d think they could take this shit off him just for a few minutes!”
The door opens to the cancer ward. I hold it open as Grandpa scoots to the right with Jamal and pole. I’m not supposed to be here. Carson isn’t supposed to be here.
You can buy The Breeders on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
It's finally happened. I am now a published author.
It feels strange to type that statement. I keep thinking somewhere a record will scratch, everyone will turn and look at me and someone will say, "Umm, no Katie, you can't just proclaim yourself published. Didn't anyone tell you?" For most of my life I've dreamed of being published, but in my head it meant attention from "the industry," an agent, a hot shot editor. Not me alone at a computer late at night reading Smashwords Style Guides until my eyes crossed. Publishing felt akin to God on high descending on a billowing white cloud, raising a golden scepter and proclaiming me published. It just wasn't gonna happen.
But then I started this blog and I met all the lovely, self-published authors who had written really great books. They were smart, normal and good at what they do. They were putting it all out there and reaping the rewards. They had readership, an outlet for their work and were having fun in the process. I finally realized they were just like me except one thing: I was afraid.
So I started examining my hidden fears. I was afraid I couldn't get my book ready without the help of a fantastic editor, so I hired one. I was afraid to navigate the confusing mire that is formatting, so my husband and I slogged through it. I was afraid of what people would think when they actually read my book, so I got over it. One by one my fears fell away until all I had was excitement. And man, am I excited.
There are lots of great reasons to stick with traditional publishing, but I think I have found my path for now. The joy of reading that first five star unsolicited book review is something I will always remember. The path hasn't been easy, but it's been worth it. And I'm happy to say I'm no longer afraid.
Behold from their seed shall arise another generation, much afterwards; He who raises that generation shall reveal to them the books of thy handwriting.
-The Secrets of Enoch 35:1
Part One: For the Money
I discover the body of my beloved Aunt Paula, lying next to a wall of holiday decorations like a discarded doll. For a moment I seriously think it's an elaborate practical joke and I look around expectantly, waiting for the punch line. Never one to let things get boring, Aunt P has a talent for making even the most mundane tasks seem like great fun. She's Mary Poppins and the Mad Hatter rolled into one and kids of all
ages flock to her like candy. This seems over the top, even for her, and it takes a minute to wrap my mind around what I'm seeing.
I had been sent down to the cavernous storage room under the sanctuary to retrieve a box of flyers; a menial errand to keep me occupied and out of the way. Not that I minded, but in a building that seats twenty-five thousand people, the trek down to storage is a long one. Rehearsals are going on for the big Easter Sunrise service and reporters are upstairs interviewing my mother and stepfather, John, about the elaborate festivities scheduled for Sunday. My stepfather is John Matthews, president and founder of the Omega Alliance, which is currently the largest church in the world. His face is broadcast to every country on the planet twice a day and ever since membership officially surpassed even the Catholics, the publicity has gotten ridiculous.
Back before I was two years old, my mother, Elizabeth Matthews, divorced my real daddy, Rick O'Bannon, who was a handsome son of a gun, but a drinker. I was still in diapers when he ran out for a pack of Camels one day and decided life would be better elsewhere. A couple years later she married John Matthews, who was the pastor of the little white church down the street from where we lived. John already had two kids from his first wife, who most people think passed away from some mysterious illness, but was really suicide. His daughter, Faith, was my age and his son Simon, two years older. While the rest of the family is tall and sandy haired with those famous piercing brown eyes, my hair is raven black and when I was real little my eyes were green, just like my father. As I've gotten older, they tend to be more hazel, which Faith says is further proof that I'm full of it.
About a year or so after they got married, my mother and John had another baby they named Joseph, after one of the great heroes of the bible. Before he became a hero though, his siblings found him annoying enough to try to kill him, but ended up selling him into slavery instead. Between you and me, there were a couple heated discussions over the years about doing the same thing ourselves. Not the killing part, of course, but
the slavery thing would be cool. Don't get me wrong, I love Joey, but he does tend to get a little high and mighty sometimes.
Shortly after Joey was born, John's little white church started to grow. The more it grew, the more confident John became and after a while he started doing Sunday morning shows for the public television station in town. Pretty soon that got so popular that one of the network bigwigs came to a service and decided right then and there that John was meant for bigger and better things. Five years later, John appeared on all the national networks and we had to build a brand new church to keep up with the new members who were flocking to our doorstep. On the church's tenth anniversary there were 50,000 members and the little white church became The Omega Alliance, with a dozen new buildings, including a seminary, child development center, medical center, foreign adoption agency, elderly care facility and the world's largest missionary organization. Fast forward another five years and the Omega Alliance was declared the most powerful religious organization on the planet, which started what the media called a “holy war.” You don't know mad until you've walked through Dublin airport with an OA pin on your lapel and been spotted by an Irish Catholic. Between the Catholics, the Baptists, the Pentecostals, the Mormons and even the Muslims, the OA has made more people mad than you'd care to know. In spite of all that, or maybe because of it, the OA just continues to grow.
My siblings seem to be handling the fame thing okay, with their larger-than-life personalities and million dollar smiles. Trouble, on the other hand, tends to follow me around like some pesky neighborhood kid who won't take no for an answer.
Overview of Relativity by Kimberly Shursen Definition of RELATIVITY
the quality or state of being relative b :
something that is relative:
the state of being dependent for existence on or determined in nature, value, or quality by relation
to something else
In a breaking news report, Jack McCallin, the prominent Mayor of Boston, makes a statement that his daughter and granddaughter have been abducted. He knows the truth, however, and so does his twenty-four year old step-daughter Claire.
Claire was four when the Mayor first molested her, warning his step-daughter that if she told the 'secret,' bad things would happen. Twenty years later when Claire discovers the Mayor standing over her three year old daughter's bed, there is nothing will stop her from protecting Lizzie.
Claire has been totally dominated by the Mayor since he married Adrianna, McCallin's French born second wife, and adopted Claire at the age of two. Soon after Claire meets twenty-five year old Boston Globe reporter Matt Christenson, she enlists his help.
When McCallin orders Claire never to see Christenson again, Claire and Lizzie suddenly disappear. Claire has never told anyone, including her mother that McCallin is Lizzie's biological father. The only way Claire can prove that McCallin is a child molester and rapist is to have his DNA tested along with Lizzie's. But the evidence lies in the heavily guarded McCallin mansion and everyone in Boston is on the lookout for Claire and Matt.
One person found brutally murdered, Claire left for dead when McCallin's lackeys run her off the road after locating McCallin's biological daughter to testify against him, Matt and Claire don't know who to trust. The one thing they do
know is that Mayor Jack McCallin wants them dead before his empire comes tumbling down.
In the vein of such thrillers as Alafair Burke’s 212
and John Grisham's gripping A Time To Kill
this edgy political thriller is a page turner until the final twist.
BLACK SEA GODS transforms recently re-discovered Black Sea legends, possibly the root of all Eurasian mythology, with ancient Chinese mythology to create an unprecedented epic fantasy series.
The fish have disappeared from the sea. The animals have vanished from the land. All humanity, and even the gods, tremble under the specter of a pending cataclysm. The demigod Fu Xi races home from the end of the world bringing news of a looming theomachy, a god war. He finds his land under attack by monsters he once called his children and discovers a terrible curse has been cast, one
intended to destroy the gods and all life. To his shock, Fu Xi learns mankind’s hope rest solely on him, a simple fisherman and a banished slave girl.
Beset on all sides, Fu Xi knows he must act quickly and races west to rescue the saviors. Unaware of the real doom that awaits, Aizarg the fisherman and his party begin a perilous journey across a dangerous steppe. They seek the last of the Narim, the legendary Black Sea Gods, who might hold the key to their salvation. Leading them is the rescued slave girl Sarah, the only one among them who knows the path to the land of the god-men.
Over seven days the defining struggle of gods and humans begins under the onslaught
of a dark force whose true objective and origin remain a mystery. Fu Xi knows the secret to victory resides in a fisherman and a slave girl, whose lives he must protect, even if it means the rest of the world must perish.
Overview: When Claire McCallin, daughter of Boston Mayor Jack McCallin, shares a dark family secret with reporter Matt Christenson, it becomes a race for their lives. In this edgy political thriller where a wealthy Mayor not only ‘owns’ the Police Commissioner, but the Editor in Chief of the Boston Globe, will Matt be able to keep Claire and her three year old daughter Lizzie safe until the truth is exposed? Or will he and Claire dissapear as others who have tried to bring the powerful Mayor Jack McCallin to justice?
"Carson's Love" is my first foray into independant publishing. Its available in paperback and e-book on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.
I didn’t see the sun today. Well, that’s not entirely true; I felt its presence. Sunlight streamed through my office window, but it never actually touched my skin. I left for work at 4:30 A.M. and here I stand in front of my house at 7 p.m., getting out of my car in the clear spring twilight.
I’m tired. Not normal ‘tired,’ but deeply, numbly exhausted to my inner bones. If I could stand forever between my car and my house, I would. Right here, under the budding stars in this tiny sliver of time I belong to myself, even if for one moment.
I suppose this day went to the same place my other days go. It is converted, like everything else in my life. I’m not a man anymore; I’m a conversion machine. In the morning I convert coffee to consciousness, so I can go to work and convert the dwindling minutes of my life into a paycheck, which is then converted into a mortgage.
At least my mortgage isn’t upside down, like most of my neighbors. We were sensible and waited until we could afford our house. As luck had it, we bought after the housing crash. I’m often told how sensible I am. I think it’s supposed to be a compliment.
My house isn’t upside down. I am.
Through the open garage I see a white overstuffed trash bag waiting on my workbench, right next to my dark, greasy 289 small block V-8 engine. I’ve been rebuilding it since we lived in the last house. I haven’t touched it in years.
After we moved in I spent two nights getting my garage workshop exactly the way I always wanted it. From my Craftsman tools to the custom overhead vacuum system, this workshop is (was?
) my dream. I immediately started looking for a 1969 Ford Mustang body in which to lovingly place the rebuilt engine.
No Mustang body materialized in my garage and the engine isn’t complete. Now my workshop is buried under knick-knacks, boxes stuffed with old clothes, and outgrown toys. My well-organized Craftsman tools lay somewhere below that pile, hidden and waiting for a sunny, perfect Saturday.Half of all author’s profits will go to Curesearch.org.
Despite my love of words, I fear it is impossible to truly capture life at sea. I could explain the sounds: the rumbling engine, the rattling needleguns, the puff of blowholes. I could explain the smells: the turpentine, the sewage, the fresh-cooked dinner. I could explain the sights: the blue horizon, the ominous skies, the sunsets, the stars. I could explain the feel: the vibration of the engine, the rocking of the ship. I could explain the people: the excitement of new crew, the confidence of old-timers.
Hell, I could document every second I’ve spent at sea, but it wouldn’t do any good.
Because to understand life at sea, you have to feel time stop while the world keeps turning. You have to write home and pray for responses. You have to juggle boredom with panic and excitement. You have to call the dock of a foreign port 'home.' You have to gaze at the horizon while you breathe salt air and diesel fumes. You have to become part of the living, breathing organism that sustains you, tortures you and satisfies you, all the while holding you prisoner…
In order to understand life at sea, you have to live it.
See you next Thursday,
A. B. Riddle