Tag Archives: young adult

Draçian Dance – Nicole Izmaylov

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dracian dance coverSarah Lynn Loque is the daughter of an explorer. Unfortunately, her father, James, disappeared on an expedition. In his absence, her mother has died. Left only in the care of her fussy uncle, Richard, she’s traveled to the New World from their home in United Kingdoms of the West.

Excited to be on her first expedition, she gets angry with Uncle Richard for keeping her grounded in camp. She sneaks away one night with only her friend Daniel for company.

The New World is nothing like her home. A jungle world, it’s full of strange plants and dangerous animals. As she and Daniel make their way through the undergrowth, they come across one of these creatures. In the ensuing confrontation, they are separated and Sarah Lynn is taken by—dragons!

The Draçar, as they call themselves, are a fascinating species. Fully sentient, they communicate by telepathy. Although they haven’t the weapons and tools that humans have, they are still quite advanced. Sarah Lynn is stunned by their culture. Çele, the leader of the Tribe of the Winding Rose, assigns her care to a young male Draçar, Tag’ren. They become fast friends and have many adventures together.

Sarah Lynn is an exceptional girl. She’s bright, well educated and curious. She is, in effect, a born explorer. She embraces the new culture, learning everything she can about it. She also learns to view her own people in a very different light.

Tag’ren is also an exceptional person. The young Draçar is kind and gentle, though he has the skills and instincts of a fierce warrior. In many ways, he and Sarah Lynn are exactly alike. In others, completely different. Their friendship develops throughout the book, making them close friends.
“The Draçian Dance” is a sweeping fantasy as amazing as the Draçar themselves. Nicole Izmaylov has sprinkled just enough real history into her novel to make it believable, but at the same time takes the New World and makes it her own.

“The Draçian Dance” is perfect for middle grades on up, making it also a great read for adults. The characters of Sarah Lynn and Tag’ren are wonderfully well rounded and believable. Their actions speak loudly about overcoming differences and finding friendship.
I highly recommend “The Draçian Dance” for any lover of fantasy.

Five Golden Acorns
© Dellani Oakes
Dellani Oakes is the author of Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo. Look for them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Connection – Jo Ramsey

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connection by jo ramsey coverShanna Bailey’s life is far from happy. Her mother is overprotective and abusive. Her father does nothing to protect his daughter—never inserting himself between them. Now that she’s starting high school, Shanna isolates herself further, but hopes for one friend to ease her loneliness.

Her first day of school is predictably bad, but she happens to meet Jonah Leighton, an even bigger outcast than she. They become friends. Shanna isn’t sure how to handle the attention and kindness Jonah offers, thinking it make her beholden to him. Never having had a real friend, she alternates between accepting him and shoving him away. Regardless of how she behaves, Jonah continues to be friendly.

 Kaylie Sturbridge is rich and the most popular girl in school. Unfortunately, she has a problem that only Jonah and Shanna can help her with. She doesn’t want their help, but knows she can’t do this on her own and they are the only people who don’t abandon her.

“Connection” is the first book in Jo Ramsey’s ‘Reality Shift’ series. In it, we meet the two main characters, Shanna and Jonah. Both outcasts, they cling together in a friendship that seems to have spanned the ages. If one believes in past lives, as Jonah does, they were probably friends or lovers before. Their new relationship is unique, for each of them has never felt this immediate connection before.

 Ramsey, as always, treats her characters with deep respect, even love. She shows aspects of Shanna’s life that make the reader weep. Despite years of abuse, Shanna is a kind, loving person of intelligence. She may have problems with math, but she excels at other subjects. Her favorite thing to do is write. She’s filled notebooks with her stories, using them as a way to escape.

The reader learns less about Jonah, but it’s obvious that his life is vastly different from Shanna’s. He comes from a loving family. Although they don’t understand all that he’s into, they respect him and his beliefs.

I look forward to seeing how the relationship between Shanna and Jonah grows and matures as the characters do. I sense a deep, abiding love there that probably neither of them quite recognizes yet.

Jo Ramsey continues to be one of my favorite authors. Her work is consistently great, her characters well rounded, her plots engaging. She may write for YA, but her books are a wonderful read for adults as well. I loved “Connection” and will be reading more of the Reality Shift novels.

5 Golden Acorns

© Dellani Oakes

Cluing In – Jo Ramsey

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cluing in cover Jamey Mandel is an average teenager with average problems. He’s got a great girlfriend, Tina, of whom he’s very fond. All that changes suddenly when Tina decides to break up with him because he won’t have sex with her. Angry and hurt, Jamey ends up in a fight at school. Suspended for several days, he comes back to find that Tina has already moved on and is dating a guy he can’t stand, Grey.

Frustrated by circumstances, Jamey turns to his friends, Jebbie and V.J. for companionship. He does his best to ignore Tina, but she has other ideas. For some reason, she starts calling him, trying to be friends. She wants him to listen to her, but he refuses. He even starts to date Amanda, a friend of Tina’s.

Cluing In is a wonderful YA novel written by Jo Ramsey. It deals with tough issues like teenage pregnancy, abortion and suicide. Ramsey deals with these openly, showing the raw underside left after a relationship ends and another turns sour. She voices various opinions without being judgmental.

As always, Ramsey’s characters come alive on the pages. She has a talent for finding the unique voice of everyone – especially Jamey. She shows his anger and frustration with loss of someone he cares about, as well as his growth and acceptance of the changes in his life.

Cluing In is a wonderful book for anyone 16+. This is an excellent novel, wonderfully written in language that teens can relate to. I highly recommend this book.

Five Golden Acorns

© 2012 Dellani Oakes

Tales of Aradia: The Last Witch, Volume 1 – L.A. Jones

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Tales of Aradia: The Last Witch, volume 1 – L.A. Jones

 

300 years ago, vampires scourged the countryside, eradicating witches. Total annihilation was the goal, total genocide of the entire race of witches – and they were almost successful. Only the Seer of the Witches was able to elude them long enough to save her daughter, casting her into time. There, she was safe, born again in the future, not even knowing exactly who she is.

 

In the present, Ross and Liza Preston are driving home after being told by a fertility clinic that they will never have a child. Devastated by the news, they hardly expect to find a child abandoned in the wilderness. Seeing it as a sign, they take her home and adopt her, naming her Aradia.

 

The story moves ahead about 14 years and Aradia is starting high school. Her dad’s career change has necessitated a move from Arizona to Salem, Massachusetts. As an assistant district attorney, he’s been given his first big case, the Vampire Murderer, as the press has dubbed the mysterious killer who drained his victim of blood.

In a whole new school, Aradia faces her first day with trepidation. Fortunately, she makes friends with some other seeming outcast students, Rhonda, Felix, Everett and Calvin. She also meets a young man in PE named Roy and shows a little of what she can do by racing him on the track.

 

During the day, Aradia notices some of the other teenagers are too good looking for words. Roy is almost in this category, but Tristan and Dax are the two best looking guys in school. Aradia dubs them ‘too good to be true’.

 

Little does Aradia know, but much is afoot. The so called Vampire Murder may have been committed by an actual vampire! There is far more to Salem than meets the eyes and Aradia is about to get in over her head. Against her parents’ wishes, she investigates the murders, searching for the killer. What she finds is even more astounding than she anticipated.

 

Tales of Aradia: The Last Witch, volume 1, is extremely well paced, building steadily to the climax. The characters are believable, even though they are, for the most part, not human. Having it set in Salem is fun. According to the story, it’s a hot spot for paranormal creatures (or hiddens) to dwell. This is a wonderful book young adults and older adults as well. The language isn’t objectionable and there are no sexual scenes. It would make a great read for anyone 12 and up.

 

I highly recommend Tales of Aradia: The Last Witch, volume 1 and look forward to reading more about this plucky teenaged heroine.

Five Golden Apples

Connection – Book One in Reality Shift Series by Jo Ramsey

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It’s not secret that Jo Ramsey is one of my favorite authors. What I enjoy most about her work is that it’s not just for teens. Adults can read her books and be just as entertained and enthralled as easily as teens.

I’ve read and reviewed several of Jo’s books. Recently, she sent me the first in the Reality Shift series – Connection. I loved it and I think you will too.

Shanna Bailey’s life is far from happy. Her mother is overprotective and abusive. Her father does nothing to protect his daughter—never inserting himself between them. Now that she’s starting high school, Shanna isolates herself further, but hopes for one friend to ease her loneliness.

Her first day of school is predictably bad, but she happens to meet Jonah Leighton, an even bigger outcast than she. They become friends. Shanna isn’t sure how to handle the attention and kindness Jonah offers, thinking it make her beholden to him. Never having had a real friend, she alternates between accepting him and shoving him away. Regardless of how she behaves, Jonah continues to be friendly.

Kaylie Sturbridge is rich and the most popular girl in school. Unfortunately, she has a problem that only Jonah and Shanna can help her with. She doesn’t want their help, but knows she can’t do this on her own and they are the only people who don’t abandon her.

Connection is the first book in Jo Ramsey’s ‘Reality Shift’ series. In it, we meet the two main characters, Shanna and Jonah. Both outcasts, they cling together in a friendship that seems to have spanned the ages. If one believes in past lives, as Jonah does, they were probably friends or lovers before. Their new relationship is unique, for each of them has never felt this immediate connection before.

Ramsey, as always, treats her characters with deep respect, even love. She shows aspects of Shanna’s life that make the reader weep. Despite years of abuse, Shanna is a kind, loving person of intelligence. She may have problems with math, but she excels at other subjects. Her favorite thing to do is write. She’s filled notebooks with her stories, using them as a way to escape.

The reader learns less about Jonah, but it’s obvious that his life is vastly different from Shanna’s. He comes from a loving family. Although they don’t understand all that he’s into, they respect him and his beliefs.

I look forward to seeing how the relationship between Shanna and Jonah grows and matures as the characters do. I sense a deep, abiding love there that probably neither of them quite recognizes yet.

Jo Ramsey continues to be one of my favorite authors. Her work is consistently great, her characters well rounded, her plots engaging. She may write for YA, but her books are a wonderful read for adults as well. I loved Connection and will be reading more of the Reality Shift novels.

5 Golden Acorns

Tim Greaton – Maine’s Other Author

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Tim Greaton’s name says it all. His work is great! I first read his lovely holiday book, “The Santa Shop” in the heat of summer and fell in love with his writing. The next book I read was “Zachary Pill – The Dragon at Station End”. His work never ceases to impress me.

When did you start writing?

Because my childhood home could best be described as a domestic war zone, I escaped into books and the nearby library from almost the time I could walk. I wrote my first stories when I was in first grade.  I thought I had written my first novel (probably a handful of handwritten pages) at the age of seven. Though I don’t remember specifics, it seems to me it was something about astronauts. Anyway, I remember my mother gushing over how great it was and what a talented writer I had become. That I still remember her comments suggests that could have been the moment that cemented my writing career.

My first professional stories and nonfiction articles were written for national magazines and commercial advertising publications in my mid-twenties. Almost twenty-five years later, I’m somehow still publishing…and loving it even more as each year passes.

What gave you the idea for your first book?

I’m going to assume you’re not referring to that that first seven-year-old astronaut tale. My very first actual book, written sometime in my early-twenties, was called the “Isle of Achievement.” A fantasy novel for young adults, that book attempted to explain how kids could come up through painful childhoods but still be okay. That manuscript did not survive the theft of a computer system from a cottage I owned back then, which is probably just as well since I’m sure it was probably a little too preachy for most children and young teens.

What genre do you write in now?

That question always requires a little background explanation. I don’t have a set genre. My current publications range all the way from Christmas novels, to novels about the afterlife, to young adult fantasy books to science-fiction stories. I suppose my reason for roving across so many genres has to do largely with the limited number of shelves in my hometown library. When things were difficult at home, which was most of the time, I used to grab armloads of library books and crawl into stories that allowed me to mentally escape the constant screaming and unhappiness. Though I couldn’t possibly count the number of books I read between the ages of five and fifteen, I’m certain it was well into the thousands. By fourth grade, I was reading an adult novel a day. At that pace, it didn’t take long to read nearly every book in my library…some of them several times. Today, I write in many of the same genres I read those many years ago.

What do you do to keep yourself focused?

I’m very fortunate when it comes to writing. Because reading was a very real and literal escape for me as a child, I’m still able to completely lose myself when both reading and writing books. For me, a book is often more real than a movie. When I step into a novel in progress, I’m really there: living, seeing, feeling the lives of my characters. I’ve been known to start writing at eight in the morning and not realize the entire day has passed come four or five that evening. So to answer your question, I always have a backlog of projects, and my method of focus is simply to open up the most important to-do item on my computer screen. Chances are, half or more of my day has passed before I stop to look at my list again.

Do you stay with one project or do you work on multiple projects?

Because writing is a multi-staged process, I always have six to ten different projects going on at any given time. Currently, I’m working on the first draft of a series novel. But I’ll pause that project as soon as final edits for two other completed books are resubmitted to me for review. In the meantime, I have several short story projects and novel outlines that are also being worked on as feedback and my schedule allow.

What is your writing process?

Because my schedule is so full these days, I tend to always do outlines first because it saves the need for more than four rewrites. After the outline, I usually write four drafts of each novel, followed by two or three edit reviews (editor, me, editor, me). I’m very fortunate to be able to write full-time, so unless I’m touring my days are spent at my home office amid seven acres in Maine. When I need a break , I go out on my 60-feet covered porch and feed the ducks that are always in my brook and pond just a few feet off the stairs. I probably average about twelve to fourteen hours of writing and phone calls each day. Though that might seem like a lot, it really isn’t because I’m doing something I love.

How did you find your voice?

I wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized I did have a written voice or style. In broad strokes, I’d say I have a tendency to move stories along quickly by not getting involved in long descriptions of the setting or tedious explanations about the past. Instead, I let stories and their characters unfold organically. Both my readers and I learn about the characters as they think and speak in reaction to what is usually an urgent time in their lives. I also tend to write from close points of view; in other words, my readers seldom know more than my characters at any given point in time. I also tend to stick with ten cent words rather than a fifty cent ones whenever possible. Though, like most serious readers, I have a fairly substantial vocabulary, I’d rather not force my readers into holding a dictionary while trying to enjoy a story.

A last note about voice that might be of help to other writers moving along their own paths is that voice can only come to a writer who has done A LOT of writing. I recently saw a documentary about musicians and athletes. It turns out that these professionals usually started young and practiced for at least ten thousand hours before becoming truly great at their chosen career paths. I’m certain I passed the ten thousand-hour mark many years ago. I guess the message is that if you want to be truly great, you need to put in a lot of time getting there.

Do you ever change your endings after you have plotted them out in your outlines?

Sometimes but not so much as I used to. As time goes on, I find I’m better at building outlines. What does tend to change, however, are the small details that really add life to a story. I might originally imagine my heroine to be a nurse, but she might later become a mechanic because it fits her personality or the circumstances of the story better. Of course, tiny details like eye color, hair color and which makes or models of cars throughout the story always change—lots of times because I forgot what they were from one part of the story to another. My editors always catch those things, however, so I promise not to drive readers crazy.

What is your latest release?

My latest is the science-fiction short story “The Pheesching Sector.” It’s a fun space romp, which has been generating quite a few interesting emails and positive comments.

My latest novel release is “Under-Heaven.” At the core of this emotional book is Nate, a little boy who was murdered in the 1940s but wakes up in a place called Under-Heaven. Told partly in that Purgatory-like place and partly back here on modern-day Earth, the story delves into the loyalty and emotions that are the very meaning of family. The reviews have all been very positive so far. I actually received an email from one man who was completely embarrassed because he couldn’t stop crying while reading the ending on a plane. The truth is, I cried when writing that ending.

What other books do you have published?

“The Santa Shop” is a story that one reviewer called, “Christmas through the eyes of suicide.” It’s an emotional story about a man whose wife and little boy died in a fire in Albany, NY. Rest assured, I don’t write unhappy endings but most readers will likely shed a tear or two for this man who has a difficult journey to travel.

“Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End” is what people in the book industry refer to as an epic fantasy novel. Intended for young adults and adults, it’s about a boy who discovers his father is not human. Unfortunately, it isn’t until his father disappears that he finds this out. So he’s left to battle deadly creatures and evil villains without any help or knowledge of how to use the magical items his father left behind. Unfortunately, he’s forced to fight these battles while staying with Madame Kloochie, a family friend who lives in an absolute pigsty in New Hampshire.

“Bones in the Tree” is a novella about a woman who recently went through a divorce and now has one catastrophic dating experience after another when she returns to her home state of Maine. Unfortunately, she also has a bad relationship with a squirrel at the same time.

“Ancestor” books 1 and 2 are adult-themed horror novels about an evil entity from Colonial times who is trying to take over his descendant’s body. Those ARCs (uncorrected Advanced Reading Copies) are currently only available in e-book format.

Where are your books available?

My e-books are available in virtually all online bookstores, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple store, and Smashwords. Below are a few quick links:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=tim+greaton&x=19&y=18

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/tim-greaton

https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=tim+greaton

https://www.focushousepublishing.com

My physical books can be purchased at many of the same online bookstores and at most local bookstores. If a particular title isn’t in stock, readers can just ask the cashier to order it.

 “The Santa Shop” – An Unexpected Breath of Fresh Air

 Skip is homeless. He’s been living on the street long enough to know his way around. After the accidental death of his wife and son, for which he holds himself responsible, he loses his job, his home and his self-esteem. Desperately contemplating suicide, he meets Father Johnston and his life begins to change.

We walk through Skip’s day, learning about his life. Neither asking for sympathy, nor denying his fall from grace, Skip reminds us we’re all worthy of a little respect. Although he’s fallen about as low as he can go, he maintains what small dignity he has, refusing a handout, especially when it’s accompanied by a lecture.

Although set at Christmastime, “The Santa Shop” is a book that readers can enjoy at any time of the year. It’s appropriate for young teens to adult readers. I read part of it aloud to my teenage son and he’s decided to read the book—clear evidence that “The Santa Shop” bridges generations.

Greaton treats the character of Skip with unusual insight and tenderness. He lovingly portrays the other characters as well, showing the compassion they have for their fellow man.

I greatly enjoyed “The Santa Shop” and look forward to reading more books by Tim Greaton in the future.

 Zachary Pill – The Dragon at Station End

 Zachary Pill is nobody’s hero. Smaller than average, skinny, smart—he’s a bully magnet. His father, Roger, is a quiet, unprepossessing man who hates conflict. Even when Zachary is picked on at school, he doesn’t do much about it.

All that changes the day that Zachary decides to fight back. When he sees another boy being bullied by the same bunch who pick on him, he confronts them and ends up with a broken arm. After his arm is set, Zachary is taken to Station End, far off the beaten track, to stay with a weird and slovenly woman named Madame Kloochie. That’s when the fun really starts!

“Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End” is a wonderful fantasy tale set in modern times. Full of trolls, werewolves, dragons, pixies and a bunch of creatures he has no name for, Zachary discovers that nothing he held as true—is. His father isn’t a coward and life as he knows it has pretty much been a lie to protect him from a villainous creature named Krage.

With the help of his friends, Bret and Robin, Zachary takes on the creatures sent against them, beating the bad guy at his own game.

This wonderful, lighthearted fantasy novel is great for middle grades on up. The wild adventures that Zachary shares with his friends are sure to capture the imagination of children and adults.

Easily as engaging as the “Harry Potter” series, “Zachary Pill” is a delight. The characters are well crafted, coming alive on the page. I enjoyed the feeling that this reality exists just beyond our ken, an undercurrent to society that “normal” people have inkling of.

“Zachary Pill, the Dragon at Station End” is a delight and I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy a great story and a fantasy adventure.