Authors Talk About It

Book Award Contest & Indie Support

Category: young adult (Page 1 of 2)

The Rite of Wands – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Mackenzie Flohr

In Mackenzie Flohr’s The Rite of Wands, twelve-year-old Mierta McKinnon is looking forward to his Rite of Wands ceremony, which will cement his role as a warlock. However, during the ritual, he experiences a haunting vision of the future – and of his own terrible demise. Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Orlynd is another warlock, the soothsayer to the king, capable of seeing visions of the future. He’s not always taken seriously, though, to the detriment of those around him. Around them, a terrible plague is looming over the land, one that could devastate them all if it is not stopped.

In the beginning, it is a bit difficult to get the hang of The Rite of Wands, as in most fantasy novels as complex as this one. It takes a few chapters to get used to the dialects, pacing, and shifting perspectives, but the inclusion of language and dialect guides in the beginning of the book will help with that. Once readers get acclimated to the unique style of this book, they’re in for a treat. The Rite of Wands is much like the Harry Potter series in that it prominently features magic and is written for all ages; however, this book is also much different than Harry Potter in that it is more traditional and ethnic, though still unique.

The Rite of Wands is such an enchanting fantasy novel partly because of its complex, relatable, and believable characters. Mackenzie Flohr avoids the clichés of the genre, instead crafting a story that is so detailed, honest, and immersive that it’s hard to put the book down. Also, the descriptive language used is wonderful; although not extravagant, the words used paint a clear and vivid portrait for readers, and a very enjoyable one at that. The Rite of Wands is a great read for beginners or seasoned fans of the fantasy genre alike, and a promising start to what will inevitably be a phenomenal fantasy series.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

Always Darkest – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Jess & Keith Flaherty

In Jess and Keith Flaherty’s Always Darkest, angels and demons alike are consumed with the Emerald Hill prophecy, which foretells the birth of a girl with amazing abilities. The demon Ronoven is hiding on Earth, investigating the prophecy, disguised as a drifter named Ben. There, he meets Chris, who is also hiding secrets of his own. Then, “Ben” finds Malin, the subject of the prophecy and both the daughter of an angel and the last living descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. There’s a lot in store for Mal, but she wants to be in control of her own destiny – which is easier said than done.

There are some aspects of Always Darkest that seem a bit too cliché, such as the prophecy in general, the angels vs. demons conflict, and the improbable, against-all-odds love story. Also, some parts of the story tend to be confusing, as the pacing is often jumpy and uneven. Other portions of this book seem to focus far too much on tedious exposition and foreshadowing and not nearly enough on moving the plot forward (it takes nineteen chapters for the three main characters to even be in the same room together, let alone get anything actually started).

Nevertheless, Always Darkest is quite an entertaining read. There’s a ton of great descriptive language and lighthearted humor in its pages, which serves to hold the reader’s attention even in the slower-paced portions of the book. Jess and Keith Flaherty have inserted a lot of fantastic creativity, religious imagery, suspense, and mystery into their work, making Always Darkest an interesting literary concoction in itself. Always Darkest is a unique combination of epic fantasy and contemporary romance, which is an intriguing recipe guaranteed to delight its unsuspecting readers.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Sojourner McConnell

An adorable chapter book for young children, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? (The Dolcey Series) gives young girls a powerful life lesson while allowing them to step into a fantasy. Sojourner McConnell brings to life a young fairy who has powerful magic that she’s only just begun to start using to help others. When Dolcey here’s a child in need, she has been taught by her mother how to implement her powers to offer guidance and assistance. Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? is her first experience in actually getting to help. She hears a young girl named Emily and rushes off to not only find her but help her get through the challenging time she is facing.

The colorful imagery within Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?, illustrated by Ellie Barrett, add an additional element of fun and fantasy to Sojoruner McConnell’s story. These occasional images help bridge a gap between young students who are ready to read more difficult books and embrace more complex concepts with readers who aren’t quite ready to give up the picture book feel. Who’s That in the Pajamas? is a very well-written story and has a fun story line all while sharing a message of hope and a lesson on how to cope with big life changes that are out of one’s control. Sojourner McConnell’s Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?, the first in her The Dolcey Series, would make for a wonderful tool for parents who are looking for something to help their children deal with a big move away from family and friends. It’s simply a must read!

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

Damn Mind – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Jacqui Letran

Jacqui Letran’s second book in her Words of Wisdom for Teens series is another shining light for young adults. I would but my DAMN MIND won’t let me!: A teen’s guide to controlling their thoughts and feelings is a book written to help teenagers break patterns and gain a better understanding of how their mind works. Coming from the view point of clinical psychology and science, Damn Mind is an excellent secular resource. Letran not only breaks down technical scientific and psychological concepts into understandable chunks of information, but she wraps up the educational chapters with what she calls 60-Second Readers, which are bullet-poined summaries of the content from each chapter. In the last third of the book, she offers case studies. At the end of each of those chapters, she offers a tip and a self-reflection exercise. She also offers “free stuff” including the audiobook through a link on her website. Therefore, she gives readers the opportunity to explore further once they’ve read Damn Mind.

Written in language that is relatable to teens, Damn Mind is a quick and fairly easy read. Occasionally, some of the chapter sections are a bit heavy or complex in their wording, but Jacqui Letran quickly offers simpler language within the text. Throughout the the educational sections of the book she shares interesting information and unique ways of looking at things. For example, Letran shared and pulled out in a highlighted section that the conscious mind can only take in 1% of the information that it is being fed at any given moment. She also compared the importance of thinking in positive terms to doing a Google search – the mind nor Google pays attention to words such as “don’t”. Jacqui Letran asks deep and powerful questions in I would but my DAMN MIND won’t let me! I highly recommend Letran’s Damn Mind for teens everywhere.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

Reclaim Your Happiness – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Jacqui Letran

Jacqui Letran’s 5 Simple Questions to Reclaim Your Happiness is a straightforward self-help guide to, well, reclaiming your happiness. In it, Letran prompts the reader to ask themselves these five questions: What am I feeling? Why do I feel this way? Is this emotion useful? How can I see this differently? And, would I rather be right or happy? Letran also includes the accounts of three of her clients to illustrate how effective addressing those five questions can be. Along with a ton of helpful writing prompts for the reader, 5 Simple Questions to Reclaim Your Happiness is a tool with which its readers can get their lives – and happiness – back.

Though they illustrate her point well, the supposedly real-life examples that Jacqui Letran used in this book seemed far too fictionalized; all of them toed the line of believability, sometimes even seeming to cross that line. Whether these characters really were clients of hers – and whether some of the details in their stories have been embellished – remains to be seen. Also, 5 Simple Questions was a bit too short and vague. In some respects, it wasn’t exactly a revolutionary self-help book; some additional detail and fresh ideas would help here.

There were some truly excellent qualities about this book, though – one of them being Jacqui Letran’s straight-to-the-point style of writing. She doesn’t waste time trying to be the reader’s best friend, but rather, lays out her ideas and evidence and lets the reader use them however they see fit. Not only was this an interesting approach, but it was also an effective one. Also, the use of detailed questions and writing prompts is a fantastic way to keep readers interested and actively engaged – in the book and in their own lives. 5 Simple Questions to Reclaim Your Happiness is a short and quick self-help book, but lives up to its genre and gives the reader the tools they need to help themselves – and it certainly pays off.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

My Lonely Room – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

John A. Vikara

John A. Vikara’s My Lonely Room follows twelve-year-old Jimmy Yadenik as he navigates his confusing adolescent life. Stuck between a disinterested father, tired mother, and wicked landlady, Jimmy’s only source of happiness is his journal, in which he writes about his life and crafts comic book adventures for his fictional band of friends. However, that all changes when a series of accidental events lands him in the back of a cop car with Johnny Sadinski. The two strike up an unlikely friendship and Johnny invites Jimmy to join his “club”, the Vandals. At first, joining seems like a great idea, but Jimmy soon finds out that being a part of a gang isn’t at all what he expected.

My Lonely Room’s pacing is a bit awkward; some scenes seem to drag on forever, while others speed by too quickly. Many scenes focus a bit too heavily on teenage brooding; while this is accurate to the character, it does tend to be tiresome to read. Also, it seemed as if many of the descriptions in My Lonely Room (for instance, the first walkthrough of Jimmy’s apartment) were rambling and unnatural; they deviated too far from a natural, flowing narration. Paired with several instances of tense disagreement and a plethora of run-on sentences, My Lonely Room certainly has potential for improvement.

Despite this, My Lonely Room is a truly great piece of fiction – such a good one, in fact, that it’s easy to forget that it is only fiction, rather than a truthful account of a real teenager. John A. Vikara portrays the uncertainty of adolescence perfectly and truthfully, with precision rarely obtained in modern literature. Also, Vikara represents the time period well; his nostalgia for the 1950s is wonderfully written, without ever making his portrayal of the decade seem like a rough caricature. All in all, My Lonely Room is a good read, with a protagonist that people of all ages, born in any decade, will relate to wholeheartedly.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

Future School – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Eric Pattersonn Eric Patterson’s Future School: Walk Like Lions, twelve-year-old Bridgette is devastated to learn that she has been accepted to the most prestigious school in the country, The Las Vegas School of Excellence. She never wanted to go, but the full scholarship and promise of a bright future would be a great opportunity for her struggling family. Once there, though, Bridgette’s fears quickly escalate. Her new school is using a mysterious brain-enhancing serum on its students, but its harmful effects are quickly brushed under the rug. Along with her new friends, Janice and George, Bridgette must summon the lion’s courage within her and discover the truth, once and for all.


Future School: Walk Like Lions vaguely resembles other literary greats, such as Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Stephen King’s Carrie. These three stories all incorporate the same aspects of wonder, suspense, and mysterious mental abilities. However, despite likely gathering inspiration from these two works, Future School takes an entirely unique approach to the genre. Rather than featuring just one telepathic protagonist, like in Carrie and Matilda, Future School explores an entire community comprised of these unique characters – and the corrupt practices that gave them those abilities in the first place. The plot that follows these “gifted” children is a most interesting one, full of corruption, fear, and pure determination.


Future School certainly contains its share of drawbacks, though; certain areas of the plot seemed to progress far too slowly, while others raced through aspects that the readers might like to know more about. The occasional interjection of passages or chapters from other characters’ perspectives tended to be confusing, as well. However, the sheer brilliance of Future School’s plot and colorful characters makes it all worthwhile. Future School: Walk Like Lions is an exciting, terrifying, and entirely unique young adult novel that, at the very least, will give its readers loads to think about. In that regard, Eric Patterson surpasses the likes of Carrie and Matilda and takes his story in an entirely new – and consequently, wonderful – direction.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

Ash Eater – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Joanna Emerson

Joanna Emerson’s Ash Eater follows a teenaged Miya as she struggles to cope with the daily plight of adolescence. Ridiculed by her peers and ignored by her family, Miya turns to alcohol, cigarettes, and sex to keep her mind off the darkness surrounding her. The darkness leaves Miya prone to seizures, nausea, and unexplainable hallucinations. She wants more than anything to defeat the darkness and feel truly loved, but she isn’t sure how. Meanwhile, the horrible secrets she’s keeping mean that each day, the darkness encroaches upon her more and more.


Although interesting and well written, Ash Eater tends to be confusing and difficult to follow. Miya’s narrative is winding and jumpy, toeing the line between reality and fantasy often. She skips forward in the story’s timeline suddenly and without much warning, leaving readers to feel like huge pieces of the story are missing. While this can be largely attributed to Miya’s warped perception of the people and events surrounding her, she is not in any way a reliable narrator. Perhaps, some insight from another character’s perspective would ease some of the confusion in Ash Eater’s plot.


Despite the occasional lack of clarity, Ash Eater is a phenomenal, well-crafted literary experience. Joanna Emerson writes with creativity, grace, and a profound insight into the painful reality of depression. Ash Eater is chock full of intricate and detailed descriptions of settings, characters, and inner emotions. It may be hard to follow at times, but it is written so skillfully that it captivates and keeps the reader turning pages anyway. Ash Eater is a most unique and intriguing young adult novel that any teenager could relate to and empathize with.


Originally critiqued by a member of the
Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

The Mapmaker’s Daughter – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Joanna Emerson

In Joanna Emerson’s The Mapmaker’s Daughter, Paddy O’Brien is an Irishman struggling to cope with the sudden, tragic murder of his mother, Saoirse. Then, his plight becomes more complicated when a mysterious Japanese refugee arrives on the Emerald Aisle. Paddy is taken with Akemi almost immediately, but even he can’t protect her from the trouble looming on the horizon. Akemi is the Royal Mapmaker’s daughter, and her father has hired the Japanese shogun to bring her home alive – at any cost.


The Mapmaker’s Daughter is a unique and eccentric steampunk novel; however, perhaps it is a bit too eccentric to draw in readers who aren’t already fans of the steampunk genre. All the talk of gears, goggles, and airships may be confusing or odd for those expecting to find a straightforward historical fiction book. Coupled with distracting fonts in each chapter’s title and odd formatting and grammatical errors, The Mapmaker’s Daughter may not be the ideal reading experience for everyone.


However, The Mapmaker’s Daughter is a worthwhile read for most, largely because of the creativity and imagination that Joanna Emerson breathed into it. The characters of Paddy and Akemi are fascinating and complex, staying true to their heritages without ever seeming overly stereotypical or cliché. The plot itself is full of culture, magic, drama, and fantasy, making The Mapmaker’s Daughter a most enchanting tale. The Mapmaker’s Daughter is a delightfully quirky adventure that, at its very core, will spark the imagination of all who read it.


Originally critiqued by a member of the
Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

Enlightened – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Billie Kowalewski

In Billie Kowalewski’s Enlightened, Veronica Edwards is mourning the untimely death of her boyfriend, Seth. After a gut-wrenching visit to his grave, Veronica is overcome with a terrible migraine and collapses, dead. When she wakes, she is no longer Veronica, but a spiritual being named Harmony. Harmony has been many different people and lived many different lives, but her time on Earth is always limited. She must return to the spirit world after each of her deaths to relive it all and begin again, life by tragic life.

Enlightened has a bit of a rocky start; with a bizarre prologue that makes little sense before reading the rest of the book and the sudden death of the supposed main character only a few pages in, it’s difficult to tell where this plot intends to go at first. Also, much of the narrative is a bit too conversational, which damages the integrity of the complex plot. Despite having an interesting premise, some of the execution seems to fall a bit short.

However, Enlightened is still a most fascinating novel. Its plot is dripping in philosophical “what-ifs,” leaving the reader to ponder its story in wonder. Billie Kowalewski writes with creativity and imagination; her story is unique, thoughtful, and so very deep. Enlightened is exactly the sort of book that remains in your mind long after you’ve read it, for all the best reasons. At its very core, it leaves behind one torturously unanswerable question: what is the true meaning of life?

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

Click here to learn more and enter!

Please like & share:

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)