Keep This To Yourself by Tom Ryan #bookreview #YA #LGBT #TuesdayBookBlog

It’s been a year since the Catalog Killer terrorized the sleepy seaside town of Camera Cove, killing four people before disappearing without a trace. 

Like everyone else in town, eighteen-year-old Mac Bell is trying to put that horrible summer behind him—easier said than done since Mac’s best friend Connor was the murderer’s final victim. But when he finds a cryptic message from Connor, he’s drawn back into the search for the killer—who might not have been a random drifter after all. Now nobody—friends, neighbors, or even the sexy stranger with his own connection to the case—is beyond suspicion. Sensing that someone is following his every move, Mac struggles to come to terms with his true feelings towards Connor while scrambling to uncover the truth.

I was in the mood for a mystery that really made me think, and Keep This To Yourself checked off that box, and more.

The setting is perfect – a small beach town full of secrets, where everyone knows everybody’s business.  I immediately connected with Mac, and his determination to hold onto strained childhood friendships in the wake of a tragedy.  He’s fiercely loyal to his murdered friend, Connor, and the fluctuating emotions he feels are genuine and portrayed well.  Mac’s budding romance with Quill is quick, but totally sweet, and they share the goal of finding the serial killer.

Tension-filled scenes had me reading late into the night, and I finished over half of this book in one sitting.  At some point, I suspected nearly everyone, and the twist at the end is part of something that occurred to me, but I convinced myself I was wrong.

Keep This To Yourself is a clever YA mystery full of red herrings, an endearing narrator (and he works in a library!), shocking twists, and touch of romance.  I enjoyed it from beginning to end, and I’m looking forward to this author’s next book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#AmWriting, #OWSCyCon2019, and #PennedCon

Here we are at Monday morning again.  I don’t know about you, but May is flying by – which isn’t a good thing for me, since I’m trying to get Book 3 (yes, still unnamed) to my beta reader by the first week of June.  I’ve worked on it every spare minute I could scrounge up, but with other obligations, I’m still feeling the pressure.  I’ll just keep chanting my favorite mantra, courtesy of Dory from Finding Nemo – ‘Just keep swimming.’

This was my first year participating in OWS CyCon, and it didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped.  If any of you attempted to vote (and I deeply appreciate your efforts), I’m sure you noticed the brackets were screwed up.  As of yesterday, things still weren’t running smoothly.  Friday and Saturday showed The Gemini Connection making it past a few rounds.  This morning, it shows I didn’t make it past the first.  Sometimes technology is a pain in the a*$.  Besides my Top 5 Sci-Fi Movie Influences post that ran HERE on Saturday, I was also a guest on Ellen Mint’s blog HERE talking about world-building in The Gemini Connection.  Stop by if you’d like to know more about Evan and Simon’s world.

I’ve been looking for some new book festivals to attend.  If you’re familiar with Penned Con in St. Louis, the organizers are hosting a new Penned Con in Charleston, SC, February 29, 2020 (not to replace the event in St. Louis).  Having lived in SC for over 18 years, and with family still there, I registered for it.  I haven’t been to Charleston in quite a while, so I’m really looking forward to it.  If you’ve never visited, you’re missing out on tons of history, delicious food, and Southern hospitality.

While looking for new book events, I came across Deadly Reality in early November at The Stanley Hotel in Colorado – the same hotel where Stephen King wrote The Shining.  How cool would it be to attend that?  Talk about atmosphere!  Maybe I could soak up any leftover vibes of his creativity – a girl can dream.

Have a great week – happy reading and writing!

My Top 5 #SciFi Movie Influences #OWSCyCon2019 #YA

I’m pretty sure I was born a sci-fi geek.  From a young age, I can remember being captivated by sci-fi movies and books.  Normal generally bored me – I lived in the world of normal.  It was the unusual, otherworldly, and improbable that held me spellbound.  Today, I thought I’d share with you the five science fiction movies that made the biggest impressions on me.  Rather than listing least to most favorite, these are listed chronologically.

5.  Planet of the Apes  I’m totally dating myself, but I was in grade school when these movies came out, and I was instantly hooked.  Seeing Charleton Heston awaken to another world where apes were in charge – and they spoke?  I never knew movies like this existed.  But when he saw what was left of the Statue of Liberty at the end, my young mind was blown.

4.  Star Wars  You had to see this one coming.  Light sabers, talking droids, powerful Jedis, space travel, and such detailed world-building – instant obsession.  I’m a fan of the whole series (except any scenes including Jar Jar Binks – such a travesty), and after watching A New Hope, my next obsession was the video game adaptation at the local arcade.  I personally destroyed the Death Star many times over.  You’re welcome.

3.  The Terminator  This movie is at the root of my love of just about anything involving time travel.  It didn’t hurt that Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) looked the way he did.  As Sarah Connor, I would have accepted his offer in a heartbeat.  But seriously, the whole premise that John Conner sent a soldier back in time to protect Conner’s mother – and that man was Conner’s father?  I turned that one over in my mind for days.  I’ll still watch that movie when it’s on.

2.  The Matrix  I was a Keanu Reeves fan long before I saw this movie.  Besides the effects being off the charts cool, once I understood what the Matrix was?  And Neo was The One?  I fell hard for this one, and the sequels that followed.  The idea that what you perceive is reality isn’t, but some people choose to live that way had my head spinning for days.  It might have been my first experience with alternate realities.

1.  Inception  Speaking of cool effects – even if you didn’t get Inception, there’s no denying they were visually stunning.  The whole entering someone else’s consciousness impacted me deeply.  If you ask me, that token fell, and Dom was reunited with his children.

Parts of my young adult sci-fi/fantasy novel, The Gemini Connection, were heavily influenced by The Matrix and Inception.  One of my main characters, Evan, is a Mindbender who enters the minds of others and connects thoughts and concepts, and occasionally battles nightmares.  Evan also shares an unusual connection with his twin, Simon, that is instrumental in saving their dying planet.  To find out more about my books, you can look around here, on my website, or check out my virtual booth here.  I’ve also written a young adult horror novel, Sarah.  Info on that book is included in my sci-fi booth, or you can visit my booth under the horror section here.

OWS CyCon officially runs May 17-19 with the CyCon website and Facebook events acting as the hub for all of our events. Sign up for our newsletter or RSVP to the event to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the bookish goodness we have to offer. Plus, you can read more about our participating Sci Fi authors and their Top 5 favorites in Sci-Fi before CyCon starts. Visit the blog hop page any time leading up to CyCon for the latest posts and your chance to enter our MEGA giveaway (open May 10).

#OWSCyCon2019 Cover Wars – Please Vote! #YA #scifi #horror

Happy Friday!  I’m participating in OWS CyCon over the next few days, and both of my book covers are battling it out in Cover Wars – Sarah under horror/thriller, and The Gemini Connection under sci-fi.

I could use your help, and this is me begging for votes – if you have a couple of minutes, please vote at the following links:

Vote for Sarah HERE.

Vote for The Gemini Connection HERE.

Fair warning – the bracket for sci-fi has been kind of wonky in the mornings, but seems to work in the afternoon.

Don’t forget to register for the 22 book and Amazon gift card giveaway HERE!

Thanks so much – have a great weekend, and don’t forget to vote tomorrow, also!

#OWSCycon2019 World-Building Showcase: Arid Alarm by L.B. Carter #scifi #YA

Welcome to another fantastic stop in our World-building Showcase blog hop! On this stop, we’re highlighting a story where the world changes or ends as we know it, but you can find a full list of authors and topics on the OWS Cycon website. Let’s dive in!

Welcome, L.B. Carter!

Before we dive in to the nitty gritty, what is the Climatic Climacteric series about?

The Earth’s climate is changing, and natural disasters are becoming more frequent, more intense, and more deadly: coastal storms, forest fires, drought. Voted the 14th Best Indie Book of 2018 by readers at Read Freely, the Internationally Bestselling upper YA/NA near-future sci-fi Climatic Climacteric series is now (as of April 26) complete with tense adventures of hope, suspense, thrills and a touch of romance! All books are FREE on KU or anyone can start the series for only $0.99 at www.books2Read.com/SilentSiren.

Does language play any role in your world? Does everyone speak the same language, or is there variety? Did you invent any new slang or terminology during your world-building process?

This book takes place in the near-future with as realistic science and technology as I know, so it’s not too different but has some scientific terms… though one of my main characters in book one has some creative word choices for avoiding swears!

What kinds of climates do your characters experience? Do they see a lot of change or is it always the same? Has your world always had this kind of climate, or has it changed over time?

Now this is a perfect question for this series! The premise is what the world will look like as climate change starts to really mess with how people live on the planet! There are some seriously terrifying natural disasters and crazy weather effects that torment my characters: book one focuses on rising sea level and hurricanes/coastal storms; book two focuses on forest fires and technological advances; book three revolves around drought and governmental attention to such a climate.

Is there any kind of faith system in your world? Did you draw inspiration from any real cultures, living or dead?

Since this world is similar to today’s, it’s similarly diverse.

What do people in your world do for fun? Are there sports, games, music, or other activities they do in their free time?

In book one, we follow two characters in high school. There are normal forms of entertainment–Sirena (Rena) uses boxing as a way to destress, they do pottery at school, and some friends are involved in ice hockey. However, with all the chaos Mother Nature is tossing at them, they quickly have to shun games and fun–free time at all–in favor of survival.

What kinds of transportation and other interesting technology do your characters have access to? Are they ahead, behind, or a mix of different kinds of tech compared to where we are now?

This future world has some technological advances to the current one: cars are mostly electric in a too-late attempt to avoid polluting the Earth, though deisel is still prominent in the poorer, disaster-ravaged areas (mostly the Midwest), there are few universities left after an education overhaul but they’re fixated on automatons, robots, drones and helicopters. Importantly to book two, they’re also improving prosthetics for amputees. Genetics is also advancing even if regulations and fears are still averse, but I’m not saying more than that.

Without giving away too much, what can you tell us about your world-ending event and how it led to the world of your story? Was it a distant event or does it happen as part of your tale?

Humans. Anthropogenic ignorance and arrogance caused this climatic climacteric (a term that means period of time) that’s forcing everyone to focus on not becoming part of the Earth’s next mass extinction.

Your Process

When you build a world, what is your process like? Do you do a lot of research upfront, wing it completely, or something in between?

This world is built on years of knowledge gleaned through my extensive education. I’ve studied Earth Science for almost ten years, getting a bachelors, masters and then doctorate, so I’ve cultivated all the research I needed on the potential impacts climate change will have on Earth.

How central is the setting of your story to the story itself? Is it more of an interesting backdrop, or is it integral to the events of the story?

This series takes my characters–and the reader–all over the US in this adventure series! The travels show the various aspects of climate change impacting different areas in various ways: from coast to interior to mountains.

When helping the reader get to know the world you built, what techniques do you use? Do you tend to be upfront about things, or keep the reader in the dark and feed them only bits at a time?

A pet peeve of mine is when authors don’t use “show, don’t tell,” so I try my hardest to pepper things into the story itself, so readers get a feel of the world in how the characters interact with it, rather than listing its state outright. I’m told they’re quite mysterious and suspenseful, so perhaps it’s a bit of “in the dark” unintentionally.

How much of a role does realism and hard scientific fact play in your world-building? Do you strive for 100% accuracy, or do you leave room for the fantastical and unexplainable in your world?

A lot! As a scientist, I find it hard not to base my fiction in fact. I’d say the plot is fiction (I hope), the characters are plausible fiction, and the world and its disasters are scientifically predicted (which is shame). My intention with this series was in part to help non-scientists better understand climate change predictions and exactly how they will pan out into actual effects on humans’ lives.

Do you have any specialized training or background from your “real life” that has informed your world-building?

I’m a scientist! More than that, I’m a science communicator at a university in my day-job, which means it’s my duty to explain the latest and most important results coming out of scientific research to the public. This is a soft version of that.

How do you keep all of the details of your world and characters straight? Do you have a system for deciding on different factors and keeping it all organized, or does it live more in your head?

It’s mostly in my head. I do have character cards to keep track of everyone’s names, background, details. The world is all in my mind.

Did you experience any difficulties while building your world? Any facts that refused to cooperate or inconsistencies you needed to address while editing?

Not with this world because it’s so ingrained in my brain after years delving deep into Earth Science. We’ll see about the next one…

Where can people find you on the web?

I love meeting other bookish friends! Please check out this series, which is now complete as of about a month ago (wahoo!)–find out more info about me and the series at my CyCon booth here.You can also find more information and links to my social media and email at www.LBCarter.com. Subscribe to my newsletter there to get free books, previews of the books I described above and more… like meeting my snuggly garfield-wannabe, Mr. Cat!

Many thanks to my host for letting me pop onto their blog here to chat about my series! I hope it was enlightening and fun. This blog-hop is a great way for me to find new books myself! 🙂

 

For more stops on our End of the World World-building Showcase, visit the tour page on the OWS CyCon website. You can also find more great Sci Fi authors and books on our main Sci Fi event page.

 

 

Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff #bookreview #YA #scifi

From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

Occasionally, I’ll pick up a book and know within the first several pages that I’m in for a five star read.  Aurora Rising is one of those books.

These characters.  I fell for them hard, and the banter between them is hilarious.  All are so fully-developed and relatable, and with seven different POVs, that’s a tremendous feat to accomplish.  So many POVs may throw off some readers, but each voice is distinctive, and I knew exactly who was speaking.  And such fantastic character diversity (and I don’t mean humans and aliens).

Talk about no-win situations – these authors throw their characters into several, and you’re just sure there’s no way they’ll survive – and then things happen that I won’t give away, but trust me, you’ll be surprised at the originality and creativity.  The last 15% of this book really put me through the wringer – hidden secrets, big emotions, high-stakes danger.  Make sure to carve out a good hour or so when you won’t be disturbed.

Even with all the action, death-defying moments, and a tension-filled heist, Aurora Rising leans heavily on themes of family, friendship, faith, and finding your crew.  It’s an unusual, but charismatic mix of Guardians of the Galaxy, The Breakfast Club, and Six of Crows, and a novel you won’t want to miss.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Name My Book Character Winner! #giveaway

A couple of weeks ago, I asked for help in naming a supporting character in my newest book, scheduled for publication February 13, 2020.  The book is currently going by the name ‘Book 3’, and the supporting character by the name of ‘X’.  You see my dilemma – which is why I requested assistance.

I had such a terrific response – bushels of thanks to everyone who entered!  With so many awesome suggestions, it was a difficult decision, but my youngest son (who is privy to what will happen with this character) and I considered all of the entries, and made a selection.

Congratulations to Misty from Misty’s Book Space with the name Declan!  She’ll receive an acknowledgement in the book, and a signed copy upon release in February.  Misty, please contact me at tpolen6@gmail.com so I can get your information.