Thursday, May 14, 2015

Author Spotlight and Cover Reveal - J. Scott Savage

STEAMPUNK! Plus Dragons! Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and "invention" is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion-an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity.

Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlikely anything they've ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on-and quite possibly their very lives.

Author Note:
Like many of my books, the inspiration for my new series Fires of Invention came from the collision of two ideas. The first time the story occurred to me was while I was watching the musical Wicked with my wife. The moment I walked into the theater and saw the huge mechanical dragon above the stage, I thought, Wow! I have to write a story about that! A few weeks later, I was talking with my nephew, who is probably the most creative kid I know, but whose inventiveness often gets him into trouble, and I thought, What if a kid who had the talents of my nephew lived in a world where creativity was against the law? What if the kids were building . . . a steam-powered dragon? Bam! I had my story.

Powered by great feedback from my agent, Michael Bourret, my good friend and author James Dashner, my publisher, Chris Schoebinger, and the song “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons, I wrote the entire first draft of the first volume in the series, Mysteries of Cove in four weeks. This book is unlike anything I have ever written. There are elements of City of Ember, Dragon Riders, and Hugo in it all mashed up together in a world I fell in love with from the moment I started writing.

I think what’s most exciting to me about this book is that it’s about giving yourself the freedom to imagine. To take chances. Too often we limit ourselves by only trying things we’re confident we can succeed at when what we need to do is give ourselves permission to fail. Often it is when we attempt things with no idea of how we can possibly pull them off that we achieve our greatest successes.


J. Scott Savage is the author of the Farworld middle grade fantasy series and the Case File 13 middle grade monster series. He has been writing and publishing books for over ten years. He has visited over 400 elementary schools, dozens of writers conferences, and taught many writing classes. He has four children and lives with his wife Jennifer and their Border Collie, Pepper, in a windy valley of the Rocky Mountains.

Find out more information using J. Scott Savage's social media links:
  Twitter 
Instagram:jscottsavage

Friday, May 1, 2015

Excerpt - Kitty Hawk and the Curse of Yukon Gold

PROLOGUE - PART TWO 

The Arctic Trails Have Their Secret Tales 

By the dancing dim light of the campfire, the group of men surrounding me looked demonic—light and shadow played off their features and made their faces seem lopsided and horrifically deformed. In such light every scene appears monochromatic, with every detail rendered in shades of only black and orange. True colors are sucked away, and objects are repainted in a hellish tint that makes every face look like a jack-o-lantern and the world look like something out of Dante's Inferno. 

"There you go again," the little voice inside my head nagged. "Always making comparisons to books that you've never read." 

"Shut up," I told myself. "This is hardly the time to be criticizing my choice of literary references." 

Besides, Dante was writing about hell, wasn't he? And the situation that I found myself in was surely the closest thing to hell that I could possibly imagine. 

The tallest one of the group walked over to get a better look at me. As he leaned in close, some dark shadows flickered hideously across his face and eyes and caused me to pull away in terror. I tried to push myself backward away from him, but it was difficult, considering that I was sitting on the ground and my hands were bound tightly behind my back. Every move that I made only pulled the binding tighter and made my wrists scream in agony as the wire cut painfully into the skin. 

"I never should have come out here," I told myself as the tall one stood up again and continued pacing back and forth, trying to figure out what to do with me. How could I have been so stupid? What had I been thinking, hiking around a deserted ghost town from the Yukon Gold Rush in the middle of the night? 

What made me even stupider was the fact that ever since I had first set off on my foolish quest, I'd felt a heavy, dark blackness filling every pore of the landscape. But instead of turning back and going home, I had stubbornly dismissed it as merely the dark shadow of the suffering and death that had occurred here so long ago, when thousands of souls had passed through on their way to the empty dreams of the Klondike gold fields. How many of those greedy fools had died chasing after those empty dreams? 

"I am no better than them," I thought. I was just as stubborn and foolish as they had been, and now I was paying the price for it. 

"I hate to say that I told you so," the little voice in my head said. 

"Yes, you did," I agreed. "But right now, that isn't helping. Right now we have to figure out how to get out of here, because these guys are a bunch of greedy fools just like the rest of them, and who knows how far they'll go to protect the secret of their gold." 

"What are we going to do with her?" the man with dark blonde hair asked the tall one, who was apparently their leader. The tall one thought about this for a moment, and there was a long silence, broken only by the crackle of the nearby campfire. My fear of his answer made my heart pound faster and faster. 

"There's only one thing we can do with her," he said slowly and deliberately, his voice ice cold and emotionless. 

I was terrified of what that meant, and as they continued to discuss my fate among themselves, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes and my breathing becoming shallower and faster with every passing second. 

"I promise not to tell anyone," I thought, feeling completely helpless and considering the option of begging them to let me go. "I will promise not to go to the police if you just let me go free." 

"Don't be crazy," the little voice in my head scolded. "They aren't stupid. You discovered their secret! You know about their stolen gold!" 

I remembered a line from a poem that I'd learned back in high school—a poem about the Klondike Gold Rush and the lengths that men were driven to by their greed and lust for gold. 

"The Arctic trails have their secret tales," the poem had said. "That would make your blood run cold." 

That was exactly how I felt at that moment—as though my blood was running cold. I had discovered the secret tale that these men had tried to keep hidden, and now they had no other choice. They couldn't just let me go. They couldn't trust me to keep their secret. And now they had to deal with it. And that was the part that terrified me. 

The men continued their discussion, and a sudden outburst from the tall one broke my train of thought. The discussion had grown quite heated, and he'd finally put an end to it by holding up his palm and cutting off the blonde one in mid-sentence. 

"There's no other way," the tall one said simply.


Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in new young adult series of adventure mystery stories by Iain Reading. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations. 

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales, Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty's adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada. As the plot continues to unfold, this spirited story will have readers anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada's Yukon.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves. 

There are currently five books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (book 1), Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway's Ghost (book 2), Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue (book 3), and Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic (book 4), and Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of the Masterpieces (book 5). Each book can be read as a standalone. 

“In the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series the heroine finds herself in a new geographic location in each book. The series will eventually have a total of 13 books in it (maybe more) and her flight around the world will be completed in the end,” says Iain. “The books are sequential but one could definitely read any of the later ones before reading the earlier ones.”

For more information, go to http://www.kittyhawkworld.com/

About the Author:

Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations. 

Iain is the author of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, The Wizards of Waterfire Series, and the dragon of the month club. To learn more, go to:

Connect with Iain on Twitter and Goodreads.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Review - The Impossible Race Cragbridge Hall Book 3

In the final book of the Cragbridge Hall trilogy, Abby, Derick, and their friends must utilize their skills in time travel and technology to survive roving bands of dinosaurs, race through space, build robots, and fight virtual dragons.

It’s known as the Race—an annual tournament where teams of students compete in the hopes of winning an unbelievable prize. But before this year’s competition, Derick and Abby receive a terrifying message from the future: Charles Muns’s plan to control history is going to succeed. It will cost countless people their lives and change the destiny of the world. And there is nothing anyone can do to stop them.

Despite the danger, the twins gather their friends and enter the Race, ready to compete against the best of the best in order to claim what might turn out to be a key of ultimate power.

Can they compete the Race in time and stop Muns? Or has the future already been written?

A page-turning, time-travel adventure that teaches powerful lessons about choice and consequence, believing you can do hard things, and valuing our history.

4 stars


The Impossible Race by Chad Morris is the conclusion to the Cragbridge Hall series. Derek, Abby, Rafa, and Carol are still doing everything they can to protect the technology of the bridge, but with most of the adults they trust in comas, it's not easy. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys strong YA books.

This book continues to show the strong development of the characters, especially Abby. Where in the first book she had no confidence, she now realizes that she is just as special as everyone else at Cragbridge. Derek is also learning about himself and coming to appreciate his sister for her strengths.

The concept of the race in this book is fantastic and it works wonderfully. The contest allows a lot of suspects to be presented and can keep you guessing the true enemy. I tore through this book in about a day and a half and have recommended this series to my nieces and nephews, who seem eager to check it out.  This has become a go-to series in my house as my wife loves when I read it to my daughter at bedtime.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review - Strike of the Sweepers by Tyler Whitesides

The stakes have never been higher, and you have never seen squeegees do this before! It is a wild and slightly unsanitary ride as Spencer, Daisy, and the rebels find themselves chased by Mr. Clean's new and terrifying breed of toxite--the Sweepers. Time is short. With the fabled Manualis Custodum in hand, Spencer must figure out how to summon the founding witches if they ever hope to mop up and save education.






Review by:  Scott

4 stars

Strike of the Sweepers is the fourth book in the Janitors series.  Spencer and Daisy and continuing their quest to take out the BEM and restore toxite protection to every school.  Since this book is so far into the series and there is a lot that happens in it, I can't really say much without potentially spoiling things.

This is another strong book in the series.  I have read the first three to my daughter (and wife) for bedtime and they really enjoyed them.  My wife was super excited when I showed her the email I got for the release of this one.  I had to read this book myself much faster than it gets covered for bedtime reading and I know that there will be a lot of surprises for them.

If you have already read and enjoyed the first three books in this series then this is a can't miss.  If you haven't ever checked them out and enjoy YA books, they are worth checking out for sure.

Copy of the book received for review purposes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Computer issues

My computer has kicked the big one so I'm currently without a means of updating regularly right now.  I will continue to check my review requests and write down reviews the old fashioned way so I can get them transferred to the blog when I'm back up and running.

Thank for the understanding.
Scott

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Review - Balanced on the Blade's Edge by Lindsay Buroker

Colonel Ridge Zirkander isn’t the model of military professionalism—he has a tendency to say exactly what’s on his mind, and his record has enough demerits to wallpaper the hull of an airship—but as the best fighter pilot in the Iskandian army, he’s used to a little leniency from his superiors. Until he punches the wrong diplomat in the nose and finds himself issued new orders: take command of a remote prison mine in the inhospitable Ice Blades Mountains. Ridge has never been in charge of anything larger than a flier squadron—what’s he supposed to do with a frozen fortress full of murderers and rapists? Not to mention the strange woman who shows up right before he arrives…

Sardelle Terushan wakes from three hundred years in a mage stasis shelter, only to realize that she is the last of the Referatu, the sorcerers who once helped protect Iskandia from conquerors. Their subterranean mountain community was blown up in a treacherous sneak attack by soldiers who feared their power. Everyone Sardelle ever knew is dead, and the sentient soulblade she has been bonded to since her youth is buried in the core of the mountain. Further, what remains of her home has been infested by bloodthirsty miners commanded by the descendants of the very soldiers who destroyed her people.

Sardelle needs help to reach her soulblade—her only link to her past and her last friend in the world. Her only hope is to pretend she’s one of the prisoners while trying to gain the commander’s trust. But lying isn’t her specialty, especially when the world has changed so much in the intervening centuries, and if Colonel Zirkander figures out who she truly is, he’ll be duty-bound to sentence her to the only acceptable punishment for sorcerers: death.

Review by:  Scott

4 stars

Balanced on the Blade's Edge is described by Lindsay Buroker as a steampunk romance.  Normally this would immediately disqualify it from my reading list, but Lindsay has established herself as a fantastic author who is capable of writing romantic elements into a story that involves more than longing looks and pining dialogue (see Amaranthe and Sicarius in the Emperor's Edge series).

The romance level in this book is substantially more than in the Emperor's Edge, but that isn't really a surprised since it is being advertised as a romance not a fantasy adventure.  Luckily Lindsay still manages to write wonderful characters that can draw a reader into the world very quickly.

Colonel Ridge Zirkander is an amazing fighter pilot (the planes in this story sound pretty awesome) who is extremely impulsive.  His talent has been enough to get him promoted to a high level in the military despite his trouble making ways.  Sardelle Terushan is a sorceress who has been in stasis for 300 years.  Waking up and learning that her entire people have been obliterated and the only link that she has is her bonded sentient soulblade.

The soulblade is a brilliant bit of plot work.  The soul of a teenage sorceress who had a fatal disease and chose to put her soul into a sword to continue living, she maintains an amazing awareness of her surroundings.  The fact that this soulblade has been aware of everything going around for the last 300 years and is even able to see the contents of books in the library of the prison built on top of Sardelle's home allow her to blend into the new people with much less awkwardness than would normally be expected.

Ridge is an ideal character for Lindsay's writing style.  His personality of being a bit anti-authority, despite having a great deal of it himself, lends itself well to the type of witty humor that is often found in her books.  He and Sardelle work well as a team, thanks in part to the soulblade being able to help her out with some info that is especially valuable.  The difficulty for the two comes in two parts, first Sardelle has to pretend to be a new prisoner in order to explain her unexplained presence in a secret prison mine and second the fact that she is a sorceress surrounded by a people who regularly execute people who are suspected of having magic.

The story unfolds at a good pace, maintaining a fair amount of action due to air raids on the prison, while still allowing Ridge and Sardelle to work through their growing attraction for each other.  I read this book in about two days time, which says volumes.  If a book is built solely upon a troubled romance storyline it will take me weeks to forever to finish the story.  There were a few parts that I thought a bit much, but nothing that takes away from the fact that this is still an excellently written book.  If you have read any of Lindsay's other books and enjoyed them go ahead and pick this one up as well.  You won't regret it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review - Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat from the Past by Paul Cude

Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past is an adventure story children and adults alike will love, about the present day world in which dragons disguised as humans have infiltrated the human race at almost every level, to guide and protect them.

Three young dragons in their human guises become caught up in an evil plot to steal a precious commodity, vital to the dragon community. How will the reluctant hero and his friends fare against an enemy of his race from far in the past?

Fascinating insights into the dragon world are interspersed throughout the book. Ever wondered how dragons travel below ground at almost the speed of sound? Or how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes?

In an action packed adventure that features both human and dragon sports, you’ll get a dragon-like perspective on human social issues and insight into what to do if you meet a giant spider grinning at you when you’re wearing nothing but your smile!

You’d be flamin’ mad to miss it.

Review by: Scott

3.5 stars

I really enjoyed a lot of aspects of this book.  The thought of a hidden society of dragons secretly helping to guide the course of humanity is very interesting.  I found Peter to be a strong character and really enjoyed the roles of Tank and Richie as well, in fact Tank was probably my favorite of the three even though he wasn't as prominent.

I thought there were a couple of pacing issues to be found mainly with the in-depth explanation of the field hockey games.  This could totally be because I know nothing about the sport so those passages didn't really hold much interest for me.  I did enjoy the descriptions of the dragon's game, Laminium Ball.  It may be because it's so much cooler to imagine giant dragons involved in a full contact game sort of similar to handball.

Manson, the antagonist, was written well.  I really hated him and didn't like reading his parts, but I think in the case of this book that is a good thing.  He was just such an amazing jerk that I had trouble not skimming over his passages just to get back to the characters that I did enjoy.

Overall this was a pretty darn good book and I would be willing to take a look at the sequel.  The only real drawbacks were the detours the story took occasionally and the fact that this book is written using a lot of British English.  By that I mean that there is a lot of slang and conversation that the friends use that has words that I, as an American, just don't see used in everyday conversation and it pulled me from the story a bit trying to puzzle out some of the meanings.  I can't really knock the author for using the dialect of his home region though, and to be honest I don't have a lot of exposure to it.  I'm sure it could be picked up rather quickly.

Get a copy on Amazon.