Posts Tagged ‘Young Adult’

I’ve got a new article from Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors today, and it’s a good one. If you remember the last time I wrote one of these articles, it was about an author named Lani Sarem who had conned her way to the top of the New York Times bestseller list with her YA novel, “Handbook for Mortals,” and how the YA Twitter community found her out (click here for the article). Well, today’s article is a follow-up of that first article, based on the author’s own response to the controversy. I go over her response and give my two cents on the matter. Was she unfairly targeted by Twitter, or is she as bad as everyone says? Click here, and we can maybe make some educated guesses.

And if you haven’t had a chance, check out the entirety of Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors. I and other indie authors bring you the very best in advice for writing, editing, publishing, and marketing independently. We’ve got just about everything, and we do an awesome job of it. Check it out, and see what you can learn.

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I found out about this novel on Facebook, which was billed as a Lovecraft/Cthulhu Mythos-meets-YA sort of story, and wondered how that would work. When the opportunity came, I downloaded it onto my Kindle and started reading. And my, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

Awoken follows Andromeda “Andi” Slate, an average teenager who isn’t to thrilled about living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire but deals with it with the help of her good friends. One night, she has a dream about seeing a giant tentacled monster and being rescued by a handsome youth. The next day, she and her friends get their hands on an infamous book of eldritch magic known as the Necronomicon, and do some reading from it. Within a day, a new teacher arrives at Andi’s school, as well as a strange new student who looks like the handsome youth she dreamed about. What happens next will not only change her life, but will decide the fate of the universe.

So if the handsome youth bit didn’t clue you in at all, yeah, there’s a pretty big romance aspect to this story, bigger than what I’m used to reading (especially in a Lovecraft-themed story). However, it’s a romance story between a human girl and a Great Old One (basically an ancient demon-god, if you don’t speak Lovecraft), one trying to balance the desire for the end of the world with his newborn desire for a human girl! I’ve never seen that before!* Romance isn’t something you normally associate with the Great Old Ones, who are notorious for seeing humans only as snacks (when they see them at all). It’s so weird, it kept me interested even though I don’t usually go for romance! Definitely one of the good points of the story.

So what were the other good points? Well, I liked Andi for the most part. Besides one or two problems, she was a very likable character, even when in the middle of an annoying teenage mood. The story was also very well-written, with very few typos and a distinct voice for Andi that kept me wanting to keep reading. I also liked how Elinsen made the works of Lovecraft accessible for her audience, who probably wouldn’t be big fans of Lovecraft and his Victorian-era speech patterns, though she manages to slip some of those words in, like cliquant and voltaic. Despite a few changes here and there, the Cthulhu Mythos is pretty much intact and treated with reverence, and the usual tropes that Lovecraft fans enjoy are there: cults, ancient beings, the idea that certain truths cause madness, Azathoth threatening to wake up, etc. The author also manages to slip in references to HP Lovecraft and his works (Portsmouth is secretly Innsmouth, Andi fears water, a reference to a racist writer from Rhode Island, Cthulhu’s relationships with the opposite godly sex, a cat, etc.), as well as references to Stephen King and even one reference to Supernatural that made me laugh out loud.

However, I did have some problems with the story. A major one was the male lead Riley (name based on a famous underwater city), and his relationship with Andi. Look, I know that in romance the asshole with a secret heart of gold is a popular trope (I’ve seen it in a few manga), but Riley is super-unlikable. And yeah, he’s secretly a terrible god who sees most humans as ants, but I can’t help but hate him as a protagonist. And his relationship with Andi is so abusive for a good chunk of the book. It’s supposed to come off that he’s protective of her, but doing things like commanding Andi to do things and intimidating her with his mood shifts just scream abusive creeper. What’s even worse is that Andi, once she falls for the guy, can’t extricate herself from him. It’s like an unhealthy obsession, to the point where she’d rather die or go completely mad rather than live without him (and that’s not teenage histrionics, she really feels that way at one point). It’s almost like she’s the ultimate worshipper for a Great Old One, and I just want to tell her that even taking out the god part, her relationship isn’t normal or healthy! How crazy is that?

I also wanted more from the main antagonist. We only see what she does in the name of her apocalypse, but I could’ve used more from her. Who was she really? Why did she do what she did? How did she become a worshipper of the Great Old Ones? I would have loved to see that explored a bit more in the story, and sadly we didn’t get that.

Ultimately though, Awoken is a different take on the Cthulhu Mythos, and I enjoyed myself despite the issues I had with the story. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give the novel a 3.2. If there was a sequel, I’d consider reading it (though four years after publication and no updates from the author on her social media since October 2013, I’d say that’s not going to happen). If this sounds like your sort of thing, take a dip into the madness and see for yourself.

Now if you need me, I’ll be playing Hide n Seek Across the Dimensions with Nyarlathotep. Hail Cthulhu, and I’ll see you around.

*Please be aware, I haven’t read all of Lovecraft’s bibliography, so if this does happen somewhere in his stories, I haven’t gotten to it yet. So don’t spoil it for me, okay?

It’s Friday, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday!

Here’s how this works, in case you’d like to do it on your own blog: every Friday I write up a post titled #FirstLineFriday (hashtag included), explain the rules like I’m doing now, and then post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed or published story. After that, I ask my readers for their thoughts and suggestions.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing #FirstLineFriday posts with stories relating to Halloween (because you know I love the spooky holiday season). And since tomorrow’s the big day, I’ve saved a very special first two lines for last. This excerpt is what may or may not start a very interesting book series, the events of which take place all on a single Halloween night. Yeah, that’s the story I have in mind. Let’s hope I get to write it before I’m old and grey, right?

Anyway, here’s the excerpt. Enjoy:

Chloe held up her witch’s costume in front of her and looked in the mirror. She knew it, too much pink and purple.

Starts innocuous enough, but get’s very strange and dark later on.

But what do you guys think? Any errors in grammar, punctuation, etc? Too innocent and YA-ish to start a horror series? Let me know.

That’s all for now. I’m currently muddling through a cold, so I don’t know if I’m going to be out celebrating at all this Halloween. I’ll consider myself lucky if I get out to see a scary movie. In the meantime, I want you all to have a fun and scary weekend (more than I probably will, anyway).

Have a good one, my Followers of Fear!

Let me just say, it’s always a pleasure reading books by friends, especially because they’re usually really good. And this is no exception. Thrice Burned, the second book in Angela Misri’s Portia Adams Adventures series, has the young detective now living at 221B Baker Street taking on some twisty new cases, while at the same time adjusting to her growing social circle and trying to find the answers to her own deep and complex personal dilemmas.

As expected, the mysteries in this volume are hard to decipher and make you want to read late into the night just to find out the answers (I was able to make some guesses on one of the mysteries that turned out to be true, but that was about it). The resolutions are also fun to watch, and sometimes can be a little touching, usually coinciding with Portia finding something new about herself or making an important decision in her life. Praise should also go to the new characters of Annie Coleson, an energetic and free-spirited journalist, and Gavin Whitaker, an ambitious forensic pathologist with a mind to match Portia’s, who challenge our protagonist in so many fun ways.

And of course, there’s Portia. Honestly, I can see why so many readers identify with her. Her struggles feel more real than many YA heroines, most of whom have to deal with nothing bigger than which boy they like more. Portia Adams has to contend with so much in her life, including where she wants to go with her career, having to adjust to the presence of new people in her life who take her out of her comfort zone in so many ways, earning the respect of her peers in law enforcement, how to be an introvert when society doesn’t always allow for that, the travails of having a mind unlike anyone else’s, and so much more. It’s good to see such a well-rounded character, and I think the character of Portia is going to grow in popularity as more people find her and feel like they they’ve gone through what she’s going through at some point in their lives.

My one complaint would be that at times it feels like the story emphasizes Portia’s personal problems more than the mysteries she’s supposed to be solving, but then again this is technically a YA novel, and they’re supposed to be big on character development, so I can see why.

In any case, this is a great second installment to a series I can see going on for several books, and I can’t wait for March 2016, when the third book in the series comes out (okay, I can wait, but it’ll be agonizing). For great storytelling, characters you feel can come off the pages, and for mysteries that will leave you on the edge of your seat, I rate Thrice Burned a 4.3 out of 5. If you can, definitely check this series out, especially if you like yourself a good mystery.

For more on Portia Adams and her adventures, read my interview with the author, as well as my review of the first book Jewel of the Thames and the interview I had with Angela prior to that one’s release.