Friday, April 8, 2016

Fiction Friday: Man of War

Only one transport ship made it out of the attack on earth intact. After fifty years, the only communication the survivors and descendants of the Magellan have with the dwindling resistance fighters left on earth come in the form of short range transmissions recieved by daring pilots who return to earth at great risk to themselves and the transmission teams. This latest transmission retrieved by Captain Gabriel St. Martin may change the entire way of life on both sides of the fight against the alien invaders, or it could destroy everything.

When I found this book on Amazon for .99 cents, I was happy to take the risk. I say risk because I am picky about space fiction. I don't like ridiculous scenarios and poorly explained science. This book is wonderfully void of both of those genre traps.

Instead I was thoroughly able to dive into a story that hooked me from the start, logically explained (theoretical) complex space travel and other related elements, instantly connecting me to the characters and cause alike. This story pieces together the intimate struggle of communities that rely exclusively on each other while still having to navigate delicate personal relationships and loss, all while trying to fight an enemy that seems impenetrable. The action and suspense is very well written and indeed had me eagerly turning my digital pages. 

There was one glaring typo, and one element of the story that I was disappointed in, it had to do with a later explanation for events leading up to a face to face meeting with the enemy and the after-events. I can't go more into depth without giving away too much of the story. Despite my personal opinion on that minor detail, I enjoyed the story.

I found this story to be close enough to our time to feel relatable, but with plenty of very interesting scientific developments and advancements. The characters were a great mix of different personalities, likes and dislikes, weaknesses and strengths. It seemed easy to like some right away while finding others less amiable, but as the story unfolds, we get to see other aspects of these men and women and suddenly it becomes harder to dislike some so much, as others show that they are still only human. 

A fully engaging story and cast, and a great cliffhanger ending to rope us into the next book in the series, which is of course, not out yet.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Whippersnapper Wednesday: Average

My apologies for the tardiness of this post, it was supposed to be up and running this morning. However, I am out of town and currently without regular internet service, so I had to make a trek into town for Wifi. Anyhoo, I’m here to tell you about a really fun book, Average, and best of all, interview the author, J.C. Thompson!

First let me tell you about Average.

Quin’s dad is a superhero. A really amazing, has lots of powers, can fly and everything superhero. Quin is not. Quin has no powers. Zip. Nada. As you can imagine, this makes the father-son bond a little awkward. While Quin is trying to come to terms with the fact that he is, well, average, his dad is having a harder time with that. As a result, he has a tendency to drop (sometimes literally) Quin into situations that might make whatever latent powers he believes Quin has emerge. Yeah, even more awkwardness. As if that were not enough for an average teenage boy to deal with let’s throw in being stocked by a giant, vicious, teenage boy-hungry…poodle?! Quin’s quest for answers and acceptance bring him face to face with danger, adventure, and the far less glorious side of superpowers.

My thoughts…

Fast paced and smartly written, this book was not at all predictable. The surprises and plot twists were woven excellently between the character relationships, which were realistic and relatable. I appreciate Quin’s relationship with his dad having challenges, but also that they both really care for each other, even if they don’t understand each other. I loved the fact that it is suspenseful and adventurous without being overly violent or scary. This means I’ve had no problem with my son, 13, and daughter, almost 10, reading it, both of whom really enjoyed it as well. This is a great book to read when you are procrastinating on homework or chores!

Now, I'm very excited to introduce you to the author, J.C. Thompson! 

Where did you get the idea for Average? It was actually a dream I had, wherein my DAD was a superhero who dropped a house on me to try to trigger my "latent super strength."

Was it originally a YA story? If not, how did it become one? I actually tend to put very little thought into genres when I'm working on a story. Which is probably a bad habit. But I just start writing and see what happens.

What do you most want your readers to take away from the story? That they're awesome.

Do you have a favorite part? I really enjoyed writing George in general - he's just a likeable guy. But there's one scene in particular when George and his son, Quin, have a pretty heavy conversation about Quin's mother. Although the book is pretty lighthearted, I love that portion because it makes George - this invincible superhero - human.

What scene was the most fun to write? The entire Laguardia family, especially when they're all together. The characters - the way the interact with each other - are very familiar to me, just hyperbolized.

Which was the hardest and why? Any of the fight scene, action-type situations. Those scenes are totally necessary but... weren't really what I had in mind when I first outlined the story. So, when I had to fit them in, it was hard for me to make them work within the overall tone of the story.

Which character do you most relate to and why? Probably Quin, which is convenient since the story is written from his point of view. But there's a little bit of me in all of my characters - both positive and negative. This is truth for everything I write but it really came out here. A lot of the discussions that the characters have in Average are debates that I've had with myself. Adam and Dante were actually taken from a one-act play I wrote several years ago called "Things I say when I talk to myself."

If you could choose a superpower, what would you choose and why? Here's the thing: they all have downsides. Or are just useless. I do really like the idea of flying, though. That'd be pretty awesome.

Today people cant fly or have x-ray vision, but do you believe that people have other kinds of superpowers? Sure, people do all sorts of amazing things - it's just a matter of semantics. There's people out there who are capable of things no one else can do or even explain. And everybody has something that they're fantastic at.

What would you say yours are? So, you know how Quin spends the book looking for his superpower and being fascinated by those of others? That's pretty much autobiographical.

A big theme in this book is about wanting to be accepted as we are, what advice would you give to those who feel like they just dont fit in or are not good enough? Fitting in is grossly overrated. There will always be someone who appreciates you the way you are - and others who won't. That's just life. The trick is to accept yourself.

What other books inspire you or you would recommend? I read pretty constantly and voraciously so it really depends on the situation.

You started writing when you were fairly young, what advice would you give to other young people who find a talent that they enjoy, to cultivate it into a possible career? Just keep doing it. I wrote for about 10 years before I made a dime. And that's pretty common. But you need to be persistent and not get discouraged when things don't go exact the way you expect. Eventually, you'll find your niche. 

Many thanks to the author! Get your own copy of Average here!
I purchased my copy of this title and chose to review and interview the author. All thoughts and opinions in this post (except those expressed by the author himself) are entirely my own. I have recieved no compensation, and the link to Amazon is a courtesy to the author and because I think it is a great book!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Fiction Friday: Stay

When Savanah "Van" Leone watches her best friend marry the man she has been in love with since she met him her first day of college, she feels even more lost than when her mom died. A loss which still fills Van with hurt and sadness, as well as tumultuous feelings for her best friend's mom who also happened to be Van's mother's employer. Growing up in the carriage house of the family her mother worked for as a maid meant sharing her mom and creating some blurry lines between the families. 

As a way to escape the heartbreak of watching her only love marry someone else, Van tries to drown her sorrows with vodka and reruns of Rin-Tin-Tin. Before she even knows what she is doing, she has ordered a German Shepherd pup via the internet. Joe, is not exactly the puppy Van thought she was getting, but instead is a huge energetic lug who only knows Slovak commands. 

In the process of trying to keep the beast from destroying her house (that she is now being kicked out of thanks to the pretentious homeowners association) or dying, Van discovers that she just might love this furry walking disaster after all. With Joe's help, Van discovers some pretty amazing new friends, and how to re-navigate life without those she may have lost.

There were so many parts of this story I loved! I love how big a mess of things Van seems to have made of her life. I love how unsure she is, how vulnerable, and needy. We've all been there at some point, and we have made choices that hurt, even if they were right. I love that the process of Van giving herself permission to love herself and fulfill her own needs is neither easy nor a clear unobstructed path. And of course, being a huge dog person, I totally get the mayhem, laughs, and unconditional love these wonderful creatures bring into our lives.

My only complaint about this book is the recurring swearing. The story could absolutely maintain it's full integrity and emotional depth without the swear words. For the most part though, they were fairly easy to skim over, but even still it marred some of my free enjoyment of the read.

I recieved this book through a free little library exchange and chose to review it on my own. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.

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