Tuesday, February 25, 2014

David Estes' Fire Country is 1 Year Old!

Today, Fire Country by David Estes turns one year old. In the first year since Fire Country was born, so much has happened. David signed with an agent, sold more than 10,000 books, wrote five more books and published a further three). He knew he just had to celebrate and he'd love for you to be a part of it! David owes so much of his support to the blogger community, and he wants everyone to have the chance to be a part of the Fire Country Birthday Bash.
Everyone goes home a winner, simply follow the prompts below and swipe your eCopy of Fire Country from Smashwords. Read and leave a review on Amazon if you enjoyed it. Feel free to share the code with your friends, family, neighbours and literary inclined pets.
Coupon Code: WH62C
Expiration: March 1, 2014
What's a party without prizes? Yes, David is not only giving everyone a chance to download their own copy of Fire Country, book one in the Country Saga for free, but he's also giving you stuff too. You could win an Amazon giftcard open internationally, U.S residents can win a signed copy of the David Estes book of your choice, or a handful of David Estes eBooks of your choice. Awesome.
Visit David via his Blog  Facebook • Twitter and via Goodreads
Pay Perry the Prickler a visit on Twitter and Goodreads

A great adventure set in a great “new-to-me” part of the country!

Fugitives from Northwoods by Chris Bostic is a great young adult, survival in the wilderness adventure story set in the Northwoods. For those of us that don’t know, the “Northwoods” setting mentioned in the title is a broad region of northern Minnesota (also Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario around the Great Lakes). Historically, according to Wikipedia, this region was home to logging operations and later, lodges were built as fishing camps and lake resorts.

Author Chris Bostic has taken these historic uses and twisted them to nightmarish proportions creating a landscape with massive areas of beautiful, yet dangerous forest, appalling regions devastated by clear-cutting, forced-labor work camps filled with conscripted teenagers, and built a desperate vision of a post-societal-collapse U.S. The story’s main characters escape from one of these work camps and flee the camp pursuers through the wilderness toward the hope of freedom across the border in Ontario.

Besides being a great adventure and tale of survival in a wonderfully described locale, Fugitives from Northwoods has good, solid characters. We get a pretty good feel for each and every one of the teens and their relationship within the group.

I liked the way the author incorporated the well-known Robert Frost poem Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening into narrator’s (Penn’s) thoughts. The inclusion connected this nightmarish future world to our reality.

Author Bostic is apparently an actual outdoorsman himself, and brings that experience and knowledge into his debut novel giving a feel of realism that similar stories may lack. I particularly liked the tidbits of nature information sprinkled throughout (i.e., the presence/absence of earthworms at the lakes and assorted other fishing tips.)

Although I couldn’t find confirmation of it, Fugitives from Northwoods felt like the start of a series. I, for one, hope it is.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Devil Made Me Do It

Gary A. Caruso’s Our Souls to Keep is a young adult, horror story of the dark side of all these YA books about demons that have been published over the past couple of years. It’s a compact and exciting story about 17-year-old Wake Reynolds who trades his soul to Satan to prevent his mother (who has committed suicide) from eternal damnation. Naturally, the deal with the devil does not pan out as hoped and Wake finds both he and his mother consigned to Hell with Wake working as a collector of teenage souls.

The story is an exciting race to beat the devil’s minions, break Wake’s contract, and save the soul of a pregnant teenager bearing a child critical to the upcoming showdown between Heaven and Hell. There are elements of horror, suspense, teenage romance, and even some humorous dialogue (especially between Wake and his mentor, Nevin). Ultimately, however, this is a tragedy. I highly recommend reading the short story prequel, The Promised Land, before Our Souls to Keep but even if you don’t, I think you’ll get enough backstory from the glimpses of how Wake got to be where he is as the novel opens to have a very satisfying reading experience.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Book Review: Forager by Peter R. Stone

Forager (Forager #1)Forager by Peter R. Stone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A brilliant Australia-set post-apocalyptic tale for YA!

World War III decimated Earth and society; the surviving members of the human race clustered together in settlements on the Australian continent in the former state of Victoria. Eighteen-year-old Ethan Jones has grown up in one of these city-settlements, Newhome, on the outskirts of what is left of Melbourne. He leads a successful team of five friends that forage for metals and other useful items amongst its ruins. Ethan, however, has a secret. Ethan is a mutant with enhanced hearing and echolocation abilities that would earn him a death sentence if the powers-that-be found out.

The success of this team (far outstripping that of the other forager teams) attracts the attention of the “Custodians”: the militaristic overseers of the city and the guardians of the status quo. Under the pretext of protecting Ethan’s team from the horrific marauders known as the “Skels” that haunt the Melbourne ruins, a team of Custodians accompany them out of the city for a day of foraging.

While working, the two teams must come to the rescue of a trading party from the distant city-settlement of Hamamachi that the Skels have attacked. The party’s only survivors are Counsillor Okada and his young female translator, Nanako. For Ethan, life as he knows it is fixing to change forever - again.

The author has given us a fully developed, post-apocalyptic world and populated it with great characters. The plot is imaginative, and I was immediately absorbed in the story. The society of Newhome, highly structured with rigid and unforgiving laws and traditions, sets the stage for the variety of characters and their hopeless lives (although the ambitious can aspire to entry into the privileged and mysterious part of the city known as “North Gate.”)

The mix of actually existing items like the Custodians’ Bushmaster vehicles and Austeyr assault rifles add a touch of our present to Ethan’s reality, and I found that fun. I also liked that the characters used actual Melbourne streets and place names on the foraging trips. I imagine that if the reader actually lived in Melbourne, that would be pretty cool.

The action was tense and tight, with a number of twists that I never saw coming. As I read, I did not want to put the book down, respect the clock, or get on with what needed doing (sleep, work, etc.) in my day-to-day. I just needed to read “one more chapter.” Bravo to the author for a great start to his trilogy.

View all my reviews

Thursday, February 06, 2014

It's a Mad World at Wakefield

Wakefield by Erin Callahan & Troy H. Gardner is told from the differing perspectives of several of the main characters, and is a tightly written (and well edited) tale of teenage residents in one wing of a mysterious psychiatric treatment facility. The story begins as we are introduced to the facility's students and staff members upon the arrival of its two newest residents: Astrid Chalke & Max Fisher.

There is mystery, teenage angst, paranormal/magical elements, superpowers, and even the budding of teenage romance: all the makings for a very engaging story and an enticing start to the Mad World series.

Action and mystery begin immediately and the back stories of the characters are slowly revealed so the reader learns and feels the heartbreak and circumstances that led to the children’s placement at Wakefield. I found I developed a definite investment in the characters as story progressed: even for those that I didn’t view very sympathetically at the start.

The story closes at a great jumping off place for the second book in the series, Tunnelville. I enjoyed Wakefield so much that Tunnelville is now on my “To Read” list.