Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Review: Priscilla the Great

If you think your middle school years are awkward and traumatic, 
try going through them with fire shooting out of your fingers!

Meet Priscilla Sumner, an ordinary seventh grader with extraordinary gifts. As if middle school isn’t hard enough, not only does Priscilla have to fight pimples and bullies, but genetically enhanced assassins trying to kill her and her family. Armed with wit, strength, and a genius best friend, Priscilla must defeat the Selliwood Institute, an organization dead set on turning children into killing machines.

Add an older brother annoyingly obsessed with Christina Aguilera, mischievous baby twin brothers who could scare the sin off of Satan, and parents more puzzling than a Rubik’s cube in the Bermuda triangle and expect a smoking page-turner!

I was asked to review Priscilla the Great by the author, Sybil Nelson. And it took me way too long to get to. I was almost kicking myself for not reading it sooner, as it was fabulous. It was the best middle grade novel I’ve read in a long time.

Priscilla, aka Priss, is a fiery, red-head about to enter seventh grade. She has an older brother, Josh, and twin terrors in the form of her little brothers Charlie and Chester. Her best friend, Tai, is brilliant, and her other friend Kyle, is… well… he’s your typical gross tween boy. Turns out he can be charming, too. As if life isn’t enough trouble during middle school years, Priscilla learns she can shoot fire out of her fingers by accidentally setting a towel on fire at her friend’s pool party. Thankfully, no one sees.

As much as Priscilla likes her powers, she feels alone. No one else in her family seems to have any abilities beyond that of a normal person. And fire shooting is just the beginning. Soon she discovers she can hear conversations happening in the next room. But when she’s kidnapped, she learns she is not the only “superhero” in her family.

Trust me when I tell you that you want to read this book. It’s smart and funny and you’ll love this cast of characters. This isn’t your typical middle grade book.

And be sure to check out The Kiss of Life and Too Little Too Late, books two and three in this series. There is also a book called Twin Shorts, which includes short stories set in this world and is currently free on Amazon.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Guest Post: Sybil Nelson

Inspiration is Everywhere

Once people read my wacky story Priscilla the Great, one of the most popular questions I get is “Where do you come up with your ideas?” Well, ideas are the easy part. I truly believe that inspiration is everywhere. I taught high school for 9 years and my students provided me plenty of ideas. I often didn’t have time to write down everything I wanted to. Sometimes my students would make a special trip to my office to share with me something funny that happened to them. I was never without my notebook and anytime I saw or heard something that I could use in a book, I’d take a second to jot it down.

I find that people are kind of confused about me when they find out that I was a math teacher and that I’m currently getting my PhD in Biostatistics. They wonder how in the world math relates to children’s literature. And once again I say, inspiration is everywhere. In November of 2009, I was at a math conference called Cha-Cha days. (Don’t be deceived. There was no dancing involved.) From nine in the morning to ten at night, mathematicians from the South Eastern region of the United States presented their current research. (Myself included. My presentation was on the Dynamics of Nearly Circular Vortex Filaments.) Anyway, through the course of the day, I not only listened to these presentations from a mathematical standpoint but from a literary one. More than once I found myself taking notes on how I could take someone’s idea and turn it into a plot for my Priscilla the Great series.

For example, during a talk by Dr. Demetrios Christodoulides of the University of Central Florida about Optical Airy beams and bullets, I worked out what was at the time going to be book 3 of the Priscilla the Great series. (At this point, I’ve had so many ideas for the series that now it is going to be book five) What are Airy beams? I’m glad you asked. Basically, they are self-regenerative beams of light that bend on their own depending on factors of diffraction and dispersion. At this point in the research, they can shoot a beam of light or a bullet of light and have it bend around an object. Of course, they can only do this at the nano level right now, but imagine the implications if they can replicate this on a larger scale. Imagine a bullet that could bend it’s trajectory at will after it’s been shot. I took the research a step further and decided to make it a bullet that could bend time and thus came Priscilla the Great Book 5: The Time Travelling Bullet.

So what’s the moral of this story? That I am a complete nerd? Well, yes, but also that inspiration is everywhere. What do you love? What motivates you? I bet your passion would make a great plot. Inspiration is everywhere.

Be sure to check out the Priscilla the Great website and add this book to your Goodreads. You can read Sybil Nelson’s blog here. Be sure to check back for the Priscilla the Great book review, here at Aine's Realm this week.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: Senior Year Bites

Contest closed. Winner will be notified by Decadent Publishing

Senior year is supposed to be fun: boys, dances and graduation.

It's significantly harder to enjoy it when you're dead.

Truth or Dare is supposed to be fun too. It's not even close to dangerous, so playing at Steph's house didn't seem like a bad idea. My dare? Spend the rest of the night in the graveyard next to her house. It was only a couple of hours until false dawn, my proscribed return time, so no big deal right? Right.

I survived the attack, but it took me a few days to figure out what was going on. I mean vampires might stalk pop culture, but they're just myths. Yeah. Not so much.

School is a lot more difficult when you're a nocturnal creature of the night. I was managing, but I couldn't keep it hidden from my friends for long. After I managed to accidentally save one of our cheerleaders from her drunk and ill-intentioned boyfriend. Steph decided that we should be cool, like superheroes, and fight crime.

Only I'm a vampire, not a hero, and we live in a sleepy New England town, so crime's a little harder to come by. At least it is until a serial killer moves into the area. He's got the authorities stumped, but then again, the cops don't have a teenage, blood-sucking, non-hero on their team.

Senior Year Bites is the debut novel of J.A. Campbell. It was a fun, fast-paced read. There seemed to be a bit too much going on. If the story had stuck to just vampires, I think it would have worked better for me. Other supernaturals were thrown into the mix. And I’m particularly picky about the use of faeries and their lore.

I enjoyed most of the characters. I know our main character, Meg, was going through quite a bit, but I just couldn’t make any connection with her. Her moods and attitude often changed too fast to follow. And some of the events that happened were either too coincidental or just weren’t believable enough for me. That being said, it was a fun book, and I hope you all check it out. Read to the bottom of this post to find out how to be entered to win a copy of Senior Year Bites.

The Main Characters of Senior Year Bites by J.A. Campbell

People always ask authors where they get their ideas. Do they base their characters off of people they knew, that kind of thing.

I don’t directly base my characters off of anyone. I do draw from experiences though. Everyone does. In the case of Senior Year Bites, Meg, Steph and Ann’s friendship was drawn from a similar (without the supernatural elements unfortunately) friendship I had in middle school and high school.

I had two friends and we hung out together through most of middle school and part of high school. We did a ton of things together, especially when we were younger. I drew a lot from that friendship when I wrote Meg, Steph and Ann. Now, I didn’t say, oh, Steph is D, Meg is me and Ann is S by any means. There are elements of all of us in each character. And I did not base Meg off of myself at all. I also drew from other people and experiences when I shaped those characters.

It was kind of fun to draw from that past relationship though. Some memories it brought up were great, some painful. Some were along the lines of ‘what was I thinking.’ My only defense was that I was young and had a lot to learn. Still do incidentally.

Incidentally, the guys in Senior Year Bites are not directly drawn from high school people I knew. They were created the way I make most of my other characters. Little bits from here, little bits from there.

Anyway, that’s a brief insight into three of the main characters in Senior Year Bites.

Want to win a copy of Senior Year Bites? Just leave me a comment and a way to contact you. In addition to Senior Year Bites, you will win one other title from Decadent Publishing. Winners choice!

Want to win more? Other giveaways are listed below, as well as info on the grand prize. Good luck!

Decadent Publishing Worldwide YA Blog Stomp
Follow the Decadent Publishing YA authors as they travel around the world, giving away goodies along the way and collecting entries for our
Comment on as many blogs on the tour as you want, each day you comment counts as one entry into the Grand Prize drawing.

Blog Tour Schedule 

July 5 -  Julie Particka
July 15 - Sassy Book Lover
July 18 -  Leslie Soule
July 19 - Jon Gibbs
July 21 - Aine's Realm
July 25 - Reader Girls  
                  Pensive Bookeaters
July 30 - Jen Wylie
August 1 - GRAND PRIZE Giveaways! Daily Dose of Decadence 

1 Kindle loaded with 6 Decadent Publishing Young Adult ebooks! 
12 Decadent Publishing ebooks of winner's choice, 1 per month for 12months.
6 Decadent Publishing ebooks of winner's choice, 1 every month for 6 months.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Book Review: Forever

The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy from Maggie Stiefvater. 

In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. In Linger, they fought to be together. Now, in Forever, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

I was a fan of Maggie Stiefvater’s Lament, way back when it had the grey cover, and you couldn’t find it anywhere. So, naturally, when Shiver came out, I jumped right on it. I fell in love with Sam Roth instantly. And I loved his relationship with Grace Brisbane. My only issue was jealousy. Sam was the exact kind of guy I wanted. Just more 3D than he was on the pages. But when I closed Shiver, it felt like Sam and Grace’s story was over. But I knew it was only the first of a trilogy.

And, of course, when Linger came out, I jumped on that one, too. I couldn’t wait to see more Sam and Grace. We got two more points of view in this book. Cole and Isabel (who was supporting in the first book). Again, Maggie wrote a lovely story, her words flowing beautifully. And I was even more excited for the third installment. But also sad, because I knew I would miss this world and these characters.

Forever… I got my hands on a review copy, and I spent three weeks savoring it… a bit here and a bit there. It was just as incredible as the other two. Normally, I prefer my werewolves fighting. Lots of action. Blood. Anger. Violence. But this trilogy is the opposite. It’s a very sweet love story. (Which is normally not my thing.) But between this wonderful world, these amazing characters, and Maggie’s beautiful writing, these books are some of my favorites.

Be sure to check out the entire trilogy: The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater. And while you’re at it, check out Lament and Ballad.