Tag Archives: young adult

ARC: The Speed of Falling Objects by Nancy Richardson Fischer

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. The Speed of Falling Objects debuted October 1st.

If there ever was a book to convince me that I don’t want to visit the Amazon rain forest, this is it. The book progresses from a page one plane crash to poison dart frogs, killer snakes, leeches, and all the creepy crawlies you could ever want. MC Danny, short for Danielle, must confront all these and more as she and her survival TV star father, along with a reality television crew and a teen heartthrob movie star, endeavor to make their way to safety.

But this book isn’t just about the perils of the Amazon. Danny’s mission is to use the time in the jungle to get closer to her dad, who, to put it bluntly, is a total dick. She hardly knows him, but has spent most of her life obsessed with his wilderness survival television show. Much of the book revolves around her hopes and expectations about her father being summarily dashed; she has to learn who her father really is and whether she can accept that reality or not. The book was a bit introspective for my taste, but that’s a personal preference thing.

The writing is strong, and Fischer holds no punches. The inclusion of the teen heartthrob character made me think at the outset that this would be a bit of a fluffier read, but it’s definitely not. People die in this book, permanently, and not just the ones you’re kind of hoping might. If you’re looking for a wilderness-themed page-turner, this is definitely a book to pick up!

Chapter Nineteen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor.

The nineteenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST! You can get started on the series with Chapter One right here or now also on Wattpad!

Not much to report for these past two weeks; I’ve been drafting, which for me is always a painful process. I won’t lie, things are slow-going at this point—I’m still working on getting into the groove of this story, establishing characters and back story. I’m by-and-large a pantser (as opposed to someone who plots out their books), which can cause the process to be slow but also allow for creative spontaneity. So hello to the insight that aliens really like hot sauce—but heaven forbid you look at my pathetic writing speed. Oh well, it’s just the way I work. :/

This may sound funny, but I’ve also spent the last few weeks paying close attention to bookstagram. There’s kind of a long-winded explanation to this… As an indie author, I do all my marketing and social media, and there’s not enough time in the day to be on all platforms, so I have to pick wisely about where I want to be posting. It might be surprising to some people, but common wisdom in the indie community is that building up your personal newsletter is key to success. The reasoning behind this is that you don’t have to rely on algorithms for your posts to reach your audience; even if you’re following someone on Facebook, for example, there’s no guarantee that you’ll see their posts. (As an aside, I don’t think that newsletters make you immune to an algorithm effectively gatekeeping you from your audience, given that it’s really easy for Gmail to drop your carefully constructed newsletter into the dumpster that is the promos tab.)

All this said, I have a strong suspicion that newsletters are not the best way to keep a YA-reading audience updated on new releases and updates, since the demographic skews younger. (And yes, I obviously understand that older people read YA too. I am one of them.) Which leads me to Instagram/bookstagram; if I had to guess, bookstagram is the current best way for YA indie authors to connect with new readers. That means that I need to be more participatory on Instagram in a way that best connects with readers… which is a roundabout way of saying that I’m going to be going for a more “bookstagram” feel on my Instagram account, so I’ve been hard at work on that. Maybe it takes some of the magic out of all those beautiful pictures to think about things through this marketing slant, but that’s where my head’s at right now.

Anyway, drop a line down below if you actually read any of the newsletters that you’re subscribed to! Do they even arrive in your main inbox or do you subscribe and then get them relegated to a spam/promo folder? I am mega-curious about this. Myself, I have been a major slacker at newsletters; I don’t think I’ve sent one out since March. Gotta be better at that.

That’s all for now, folks! Have a great rest of your weekend, and enjoy Chapter Nineteen.

Specter is on NetGalley through 9/30!

Hey everyone, I just want to drop in real quick to say that Specter is free on NetGalley through the end of this month! Specter is a YA paranormal thriller that is perfect for Stranger Things fans or anyone craving a Halloween read. It received glowing five-star reviews from Indie Author Central and Indies Today, and it has a 4.64 rating on Goodreads, as well as 4.5 on Amazon.

Here are some things people are saying about Specter:

“Ghosts, treachery, risky business and first love bundled into an unputdownable YA adventure.” – author Julie Embleton, Indie Author Central

“You don’t want to miss out on this enthralling, exciting, and eerie book!” – Indies Today

“Would I recommend this book?  Abso-bloody-lutely.” – Bookish Beyond

It doesn’t matter if you get a copy from NetGalley and can’t finish it before the end of the month—a review on Amazon or Goodreads sometime in the future is enough! Here’s the blurb if you’re interested:

Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.

Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

All right, I’m all done with the self-promo. Have an amazing start to your weekend! ❤

Chapter Eighteen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor.

The eighteenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST! You can get started on the series with Chapter One right here.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m conscious of the fact that a lot of people don’t particularly want to read a story in their browser. To that end, a pdf/mobi/epub bundle of The Gold in the Dark Part One will be out soon (October sometime). The plan is to get it up for free on Amazon as well. I’m also uploading each chapter to Wattpad for those of you who like to read there—if you’re a Wattpad user, please vote and add it to your reading list, etc!

These past two weeks have mostly been working on the Beauty and the Beast and Aliens WIP. I’ve realized (with the firm advice of my alpha reader) that the story needs a bit more of a lead-up to the point where we actually encounter the alien for the first time. I normally like to start things more in medias res, but this just wasn’t enough to build up enough sympathy for the main characters, who undergo a lot of anxiety and turmoil in the opening segment of the book, and it also wasn’t enough time to allow readers to buy into aliens. Vampires, ghosts, and other creatures are easier to swallow, it seems, than extraterrestrials. So now the book has a new first chapter and a few more characters as well, which should hopefully patch things up.

Also, just a quick reminder that Specter is on NetGalley until the end of the month! So if you’re a NetGalley member, definitely head over, give the cover a vote, and grab a free copy.

That’s all from me at the moment! Have a great rest of your weekend, and enjoy Chapter Eighteen.

Chapter Seventeen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor.

The seventeenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST! I know that this illustration was a lot of trial-and-error for Ally, but I love how the final illustration came out; I think it’s so elegant looking! You can get started on the series with Chapter One right here. I’m also hopeful to have a pdf/mobi/epub document out soon for Part One for those of you who want to read on different devices and programs.

These past two weeks have been part of the busy season at my work, so my WIP word count has been less than stellar. Even so, I’m happy with where the new Beauty and the Beast and Aliens book is headed, even if it’s slow-going.

It’s also been a pretty exciting last week or so because Specter is currently on NetGalley! If you’re a NetGalley member, head on over to grab a free copy. The only reason I’m able to get Specter onto NetGalley is through the Kobo Writing Life team, so as ever: Thank you, Kobo! I love how dedicated they are to helping their authors succeed.

That’s about it from me! Things should hopefully be slowing down at my job, so I’m excited to dive back into heavy drafting. (And also a bit scared. Let’s face it—drafting is a bit like pulling teeth.) Have a great rest of your weekend, and enjoy Chapter Seventeen. ❤

ARC: I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. A quick note that I’m a bit confused about the publication date of this book. As far as I can tell it was originally published in 2017 and is being re-released. NetGalley says the new edition came out September 1st, while Goodreads says it comes out November 15th. So basically you can buy a copy of this book right now, but I’m not exactly sure which edition you’ll receive. I also don’t know if the 2017 text differs in any way from the 2019 edition.

The premise of this book hooked me immediately: Jemma, a sixteen-year-old girl with severe cerebral palsy who cannot speak or move, learns the identity of a killer—from the killer himself. When her health aid goes missing, it’s up to Jemma to alert people to the culprit’s identity, despite the punishing limitations of her disability.

The language of this book is very simple and straightforward. If you are looking for a lyrical read, this is not it. However, there is a poignancy to this book; you cannot help but root for Jemma, who has little to no communication with any of her family members. Not only does she have a killer to wrangle with, but she is also a teenage girl dealing with a health condition that can cause those around her to treat her as if she is of less than a clear mind. It will be a long time before I forget the humiliating scene where her new carer treats Jemma like a toddler, rather than the clear-headed teenager that she is.

I also really enjoyed reading about Jemma’s family members. She has a unique family—Jemma’s two sibling are both foster children dealing with their own problems. I enjoyed the way her parents were written; her mom and dad are very supportive of Jemma, and they have their own personalities and flaws.

If the language of the book were a bit more lyrical, this likely would have been a five-star book. I found this book quite riveting, reading it in little more than a day. I knew next to nothing about cerebral palsy, and I think this quick thriller is a great way to gain some insight into the condition.

Chapter Sixteen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, as always.

The sixteenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! This chapter marks the beginning of Part Two, and it’s a good ‘un—aren’t you just dying to know what that gross thing is in the chapter illustration? New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST (and sometimes earlier). You can get started on the series right here.

These past two weeks have just been steady work on the Beauty and the Beast and Aliens WIP. I had to do a rewrite of the second chapter for major issues—the emotionality of the chapter was totally wrong, and I wanted to fix it before progressing. It’s funny how something can feel totally right when you get it down on paper at first, then a critique from a writing partner can totally change your view of things the next minute. So oh well, it was time to go back to the drawing board and give Chapter Two another shot… but it’s better now.

I also have found a new writing service, Dabble, that I can’t shut up about. As I mentioned in my tech tools of the trade post, I kind of hate Google, so I wanted to find a way to move away from drafting in Google Docs. Scrivener unfortunately won’t work for me for the time being as I need cloud capability, so that led me to Dabble—and I love it. It has online capability, a gorgeous GUI, word count tracking, dark theme, plotting tools… Honestly, I can’t speak highly enough about it. Thanks, Instagram ads—without you, I never would have found out about Dabble, and also about that adorable T-rex necklace that I impulse bought last week. 😉

That’s basically it! Hard at work on drafting, so that I can have the book out hopefully by next July. Have a great rest of your weekend, and enjoy Chapter Sixteen. ❤

Lovely War by Julie Berry

This is one of those books with a cover that just called to me. (It’s also one of those covers embracing the white-uppercase-sans-serif-with-stuff-over-it trend.) But still, I went into Lovely War a bit trepidatious—I’m not the biggest historical fiction fan, and I spent a good portion of my time in school history classes daydreaming about being elsewhere.

Well, there was no reason to fear; this book swept me off my feet in a major way. I’d heard some people be confused about the premise, and it is a bit odd, I’ll agree. The book starts off in World War Two times with Aphrodite—yes, the Aphrodite. She, along with some of her other friends from the Greek pantheon, narrates a gripping story from World War One about the intersection of love and war to her aggrieved husband, Hephaestus. He’s caught her cheating on him with Ares, and Aphrodite knows exactly the right tale to tell to explain the situation.

I’ll admit that the Greek god framework does feel a little bit like the leaning tower of Pisa; it’s upright, but some tugging this way or that would cause the whole thing to topple over. However, the love story Aphrodite spins for Hephaestus and the readers is one for the ages. This is a captivating tale that literally moved me to tears, and that is a true once-in-a-blue-moon happening. Berry’s narration is gorgeous; quick chapters and lovable characters will have you make quick work of this 480-page tome.

I’d argue that this is another case of “is it really YA?” (Hmm, sounds like an interesting game show.) It’s certainly being marketed in the YA section, and the tone is perfect for the YA crowd, but the main characters are older as far as I can tell. I’m not exactly sure what their ages were, to be honest—maybe it was mentioned, but I certainly missed it, so I’d guess they’re somewhere from eighteen to early twenties. (“Maybe,” hisses my inner conspiracy theorist, “Berry purposely didn’t mention the main characters’ ages so we can’t get into this whole debate again!”)

Anyway, a good book is a good book, so maybe we should just get past the whole is-it-or-isn’t-it question. I wholeheartedly recommend Lovely War, and I dare you to read it without getting watery in the eyes.

Chapter Fifteen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of the lovely Ally Grosvenor, as always!

The fifteenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! This chapter marks the end of Part One, but no worries—the next chapter will release on time in two weeks. New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST.

Lots of exciting things are in the works here at KJG Productions! I know a lot of people find it hard or annoying to read a book on a website, so to make The Gold in the Dark easier to read I’m going to be releasing Part One in mobi, epub, and pdf file formats. It will take me a little bit to pull everything together, so we’re looking at an end of September or early October release date for that.

Ooh, look how shiny.

Some other fun news is that Specter was awarded five stars by Indies Today! That means I get to throw this cool badge up everywhere. 😀 We’re a month past Specter’s release at this point, so promo is winding to a close, but if this is the first time you’re hearing about the book, just keep scrolling; I’ve thrown the blurb and the cover down below. It’s at a cool 4.6 rating on Goodreads and four and a half stars on Amazon right now. 🙂

I’ve been spending the last couple weeks in drafting mode. The Beauty and the Beast and Aliens WIP is really fun to write. I’m not going to mask that it’s been slow-going… I’m already knees-deep in a Chapter Two rewrite right now. I know a lot of people will think it’s strange to be rewriting a chapter so early on in the process, but I’m an edit-as-I-go type of writer. Is that what most professional writers recommend? No. Does it work for me? Yes—and it has a lot to do with the fact that my very opinionated husband serves as my “alpha reader.” I’m thinking of putting up a post soon about why I like having an alpha reader—anyone interested in that, I wonder?

Last thing I want to mention is that in the process of drafting I’ve discovered a useful new tool! I’m having to use Google Docs to draft this book, not Scrivener, and I haven’t been able to find any decent word count tracker for Google Docs. So that led me to Pacemaker, which is a tool specifically for anyone who needs to track their words. It has a lot of functionality and options, so I’m finding it really useful.

All right, that’s all I’ve got for now in terms of writing updates. Have a good rest of your weekend and enjoy Chapter Fifteen.


Blurb

Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ distorted, waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.

Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

Specter is available for purchase at any book retailer or from Hidden Bower Press. Even independent bookstores should be able to preorder Specter—and you can even request your local library order a physical or ebook copy! I love libraries, so making the book available everywhere was important to me in my publishing decisions. So please consider picking up a copy or adding it to your Goodreads TBR!

Reading the Rainbow: Swipe Right for Murder (ARC), Earth to Charlie, When It All Falls Down

Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for sending me a free advanced reader copy of Swipe Right for Murder for an honest review. Swipe Right for Murder debuted August 6th.

For full disclosure, I am friends with the author of When It All Falls Down, and she gifted me a copy of the book!

The stars have aligned: of the last few books I’ve read, three in a row had a strong coming-of-age focus on homosexuality! So I thought I would throw together a post of mini-reviews for each book; all three were fun to read!

First up is Earth to Charlie. This was one of those books that I picked up in a random buy-a-thon in Barnes and Noble. The blurb called to me: aliens in Montana? I’m writing a book about aliens in Montana, so this was basically required reading!

Slight spoiler, but I think you really ought to know this heading into the book: in the end, Earth to Charlie turned out to be much more of a contemporary book than anything approaching sci-fi. That was a bit of a disappointment to me; it’s not the first time this year that I’ve been teased with YA aliens, only for the author to not follow through. But nevertheless, I finished this book within one sitting, which should speak for itself in terms of the easy readability of this book. It’s a comfy page turner, with a small cast and a cozy, small town setting. I’m still searching for YA aliens, but I’ll recommend Earth to Charlie to fans of contemporary coming-of-age fiction, especially if you’re looking for an LGBT thread.


Next is When It All Falls Down. Tanya Chris and I are writing buddies, even though she focuses on M/M romance and I’m strictly a YA/NA gal. (Goodness, so many abbreviations!) While still firmly in the romance genre, this is the most YA-ish of her books, so I was excited to give it a read. The premise is that Charlie is a high school senior who’s recently come out of the closet. His love interest, Drew, is reeling from a recent auto accident where he struck and killed a young girl. Both characters have a lot to deal with, their walls both self-imposed and terrifying real (a lawsuit with huge monetary implications, the possibility of having a college admissions decision revoked).

What I really liked about this book was the fleshed-out cast of characters. I was really feeling the chemistry between the two main characters (Drew is absolutely adorable!), and their family members and friends’ approach to Charlie and Drew’s developing relationship is handled in a realistic, grounded way that feels fresh. This mixed with the lawsuit details, which are incredibly real and well-researched, made this a fun, engrossing read.


Swipe Right for Murder consumed me for forty-eight hours, gobbling up every spare moment I had. I really enjoyed Milman’s first book, and I was a bit scared that this would be a sophomore slump effort, as it’s only been a year since his first novel. How wrong could I be—Swipe Right for Murder is a wild ride, set in 2019 but with a raucous, cyberpunk feel. I’ve been of the opinion for some time that, of all the fictional visions for the future, cyberpunk is the most accurate; give this book a read and see if you agree.

The premise is that Aidan, through the use of a Grindr-style hook-up app on his senior Spring Break, stumbles into an unfortunate series of events that lead him into close contact with a domestic terrorist organization bent on killing homophobes. This is a page-turner if there ever was one, and it’s fucking funny. Seriously, there are some legit laugh-out-loud moments in this book, which is hard to do with a written medium, in my opinion. The book is smart, hilarious, and turned up to eleven at all points. Count me in for all future releases from Milman; I’m a fan.


Have you read any great books with LGBT threads lately? Any favorites to recommend? Leave your suggestions down below!