Title: Meet Me in the Strange
Author: Leander Watts
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
2019 IPPY SILVER MEDALIST – YOUNG ADULT
Meet Me in the Strange is an intoxicating adventure set in a glittery, retro-futuristic world of glam rock, spectral aliens, and gender-bendy teens. Davi is mesmerized by a girl at a concert, who appears to lose herself in the power of the otherworldy music of Django Conn. Later, through a chance meeting, Davi becomes friends with the girl, Anna Z. She is like no one Davi has ever met: she loves to talk, talk, talk and has grandiose theories of the next evolution of humans and a strange phenomenon she calls the “Alien Drift.” But danger lurks around every corner, because Anna Z is on the run, and her cruel and controlling older brother is determined to find her, at any cost. Davi faces a daunting decision, go on living a safe existence at the magical Angelus Hotel, which has been in the family for generations, or help Anna Z escape her troubled past. When the two take off to follow the concert tour of their glam-rock idol, Django Conn, Davi and Anna Z will face the biggest threat of their young lives.
Excerpt from Meet Me in the Strange
© 2019 Leander Watts
“My name’s Davi.”
She waited just a couple of seconds, then said, “I’m Anna Z.”
That was the shortest thing I ever heard her say. Soon enough, so many words were coming out of her that I felt like I was drowning. Wild stories, charming lies, true facts and fairy tales, rambling rants, song lyrics, rhymes and riddles and beautiful secrets. But for those couple of minutes, she still didn’t know if she could trust me. So she didn’t say much at first.
I asked about her favorite album. Of course, like me, it was Man in the Moon in the Man. We agreed that it was amazing and that we could listen to it a thousand times and never use it up. Only ten songs and there was a whole world hidden there in the grooves.
“Radiation Nation,” I said.
“Signs and Wonders,” she said back. “With the wild gamba solo, right?”
“Love and Gravity, Royal Shining Things,” I said the song names like I was using secret passwords. “Forty Months and a Day. The first time I heard that one, I thought my brain was going to catch on fire.”
She didn’t walk away saying I was a freak or an imbecilo turd-toy. I’d been through that enough times before, people telling me to go away, that I was too fanatical, too wound-up, too much. But right there in front of the theater, I went up to her and started talking about Django Conn, and that’s all it took to bring us together.
“I’ve got some bootleg LPs and some really rare 45s,” I told her, not bragging, but saying it just to see how she’d respond. “I saw a ticket stub from his first show with the Reptiles. A guy had it for sale. It was supposedly autographed, but how could you prove that Django really signed it?”
I kept thinking how amazing it was that she didn’t walk away. Once she’d gotten used to me, and that didn’t take long, she stood there like she was really listening. And I did too. Of course, that was probably easier for me because she was Anna Z, and there was nobody like her on the whole planet, maybe in the whole universe. Her hair wasn’t quite so wild as at the Maxima, but there were still black snakes tangled in it. No liquid blurs of color moved on her glasses. All the same, it was hard to see her eyes. Swept up into Django’s sound, she was lost and found. Standing on the street with me, she wasn’t so free, so spontaneous. But I remembered how she’d been, and I knew she’d be that way again.
I told her about the Angelus, that my family owned it and that I had always lived there. I mentioned Sabina and Carlos and the others. And that was all it took to make the final link between us, because she told me she’d been there just a few hours before. It really was her I’d heard through the wall, talking about blood, fire, moonlight, music, and mutation. It was no phantasm I’d seen walking down the hallway to the elevator.“
About Leander Watts
An avid musician, Leander Watts has played and sung for decades in a wide variety of bands. His interests range from garage rock to skronky jazz, from baroque organ to Appalachian gospel. The first rock concert he attended was David Bowie on the Diamond Dogs tour in 1974. He teaches writing and literature at the State University of New York at Geneseo (his alma mater). Leander Watts is the author of STONECUTTER, WILD RIDE TO HEAVEN, TEN THOUSAND CHARMS, and BEAUTIFUL CITY OF THE DEAD.
Connect with Leander Watts online:
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Amina is special - or as her father would say - a freak. With the ability to move things with her mind, she dreams of joining the Interplanetary Peace Squad, but her family won’t hear of it. So she sneaks away one night, takes a leap of faith, and joins the training program. This beginning portion of the book was a bit choppy and rough. The initial interactions Amina had with people at the training program were a bit cliched. They were very stereotypical - the shy girl, the flirty rich girl, the cute slightly older guy every girl wanted.
Once we got more into the heart of the story, things took a really great turn for the better. People started becoming a little more dynamic (but still a tad on the cliche side), and personalities started showing up. Amina is assigned her first training mission, and she has a chance to show the crew and her captain (the hot guy everyone wants) that she can handle herself. And she handles herself well, but not perfectly - which is great.
The romance that has been budding throughout the story didn’t always seem to fit in. There were too many times that the mission should have fallen apart because of the flirty-times going on. Eventually, the romance starts to straighten itself out, and by the end, I felt more like it was a natural thing between the two characters. But getting there was a bit rough.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
Title: Panic (Mass Hysteria #1)
Author: Dawn Brazil
Genre: Young Adult, SciFi Romance
Mass Hysteria is a trilogy of young adult romantic/science-fiction serial novels that tell a continuous story. The books must be read in order, to fully understand the unfolding story.
High school can be hard, especially when your favorite horror movie becomes your reality…
High-School senior, Elizabeth calculates the likelihood of finding love to the probability of starring in a slasher film with her best friend, until she meets Brian Thompson. Love isn’t the only thing that eludes Elizabeth, however. Several threatening notes that promise her demise make a long life also questionable.
When Elizabeth’s best friend shares an article about the death of a girl in Italy, she dismisses it. As more girls are murdered, and cryptic messages are tucked in her locker, she realizes something sinister might be at play. Why? Each of the slain girls look like her.
Excerpt from Panic
© 2019 Dawn Brazil
The single slip of manila paper says only two words: “your next.”
Right away, a few things are apparent: this person’s command of the English language is severely lacking; the scrawl is most likely that of a teenage boy or a toddler of any gender; and thirdly, this note is different from the others. I glance around the brick pillar at the front of our house. The street is silent; not one person is outside from where I stand.
I ball the paper up and toss it in my purse.
I slide into the car beside Stacey and we head to the restaurant—in absolute silence. Silence has many forms. The form we exhibit is awkward—at least for best friends.
We both know why we’re going today. Stacey doesn’t agree with my sentiment for the day, though. I’ve read that if you toss a being outside their natural habitat, one of two things will happen—they will rise to the occasion, or die.
I’m a fighter. I should be able to master the social landscape of female teenagerdom, but it seems I can’t. I flounder—a lot. I cannot explain my high intellect and my innate ability to elicit cringes or gasps of shock when I speak.
Today, that changes.
Once we’re at the restaurant, Stacey says only four words: “This is ridiculous, hon.”
I disagree and we head inside to meet the other girls.
We arrive mid-joke. So, I time my laugh to spill from my lips at the perfect moment.
Except, the sensation rises from my abdomen like gravel tumbling through my mouth. Stacey turns, her lips pursed tight. The other girls stop giggling. Their purrs of laughter are in deep contrast to my piercing cackle.
They frown in unison—everyone but Stacey. She has an ‘I’m sorry I got you into this mess, hon’ look on her face. Though lacking in most social skills, I’m able to read their expressions: ‘What the hell was Stacey thinking, bringing the schizoid?’
I’m painfully aware something is off with me. On a scale of weirdness, I’m not Pinhead. I’m more Carrie, without the powers. I’d change this perception of oddness I convey, but I don’t know where to begin to work on myself. That’s why I’m here today.
Glancing around the table, I attempt a quick recovery. Dogs. Girls like dogs. “I have a dog. He’s the cutest little Pomeranian.”
My words are met with oohs and awws, but Stacey shakes her head once, slightly. I don’t know why she does it. I’ve hit a chord with these girls. I block her shaking head and the bombardment of senseless information streaming through my mind, and continue talking. “He’s a handsome little fur ball.”
“I love dogs,” one of Stacey’s friends says. “My Jax is too freaking cute.”
“My FeFe is too adorbs. What’s your dog’s name, Elizabeth?” Melissa, the closest girl to me asks.
“Norman Bates. He’s a—”
“You named your dog Norman Bates?” Melissa asks.
“Like, isn’t that the crazy dude from that movie? The one who cross-dressed like his mom and like killed everyone?” someone else asks.
“It’s kinda weird… well, a lot weird that you named your dog after a homicidal maniac,” Melissa says. No one speaks after her comment. They all stare in opposite directions.
I almost laugh at their reaction, but stop myself. A rush of thoughts hurry through my head: Melissa’s eyes are the color of her heart—black. She’s a modern Cruella DeVille. She’ll trample over her own mother to get what she wants, which is always materialistic and selfish. She’s also beautiful, and she hates me but loves my best friend Stacey.
I shake my head discreetly. They act like I told them I’m naming my firstborn Freddie Krueger. Which I would do, if I could have kids.
I strum my fingers over my jean shorts and count in my head. Counting reminds me not to speak and further add to the awkwardness of the moment.
“Norman Bates is the best dog name, ever,” Stacey says. She gives me a wink. “More importantly, has anyone seen that new movie? You know… the new romance?” Stacey snaps her fingers like she can’t remember. “Oh, I forget the name. But I heard it’s hot—full of steamy love scenes…” Everyone starts talking, each girl stumbling over the other to get a word in. Like if they don’t articulate what they have to say straightaway, their lives might be in peril.
I don’t understand girls, even though I’ve been part of the gender my entire life.
About Dawn Brazil
Dawn wants to live in a world fully inhabited by fictional characters. She thinks fictional characters are cooler than real people. Except herself, of course. But since the world is not comprised of dreamy book boyfriends, she creates them for everyone to fawn over. Her debut novel, Finding Me, book 1 in the Finding Me series, released on March 3rd 2016.
When she is not writing, she can be found with her nose in a book - swooning over another book boyfriend, drying up tears from a recent heartbreak, or shouldering a wound she received in battle. She also loves to create magic in the kitchen with an array of inspiring dishes she pulls from Pinterest. Dawn lives in South Texas with her sports obsessed husband, three technology infatuated teenagers, and her great, big, colossal imagination.
She is a master juggler and is working on two other Young Adult standalone novels - a high fantasy tearjerker and a science fiction story with a romance that will make your heart ache.
And she is passionate about superheroes - especially Wonder Woman!
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Title: In Restless Dreams
Author: Wren Handman
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Sylvia is a normal girl with huge, normal problems–her mother’s attempted suicide; trying to make friends in a rich prep school where she doesn’t belong; whether or not to trust the cute boy with the dangerous eyes. She thinks that’s more than she can handle, but she tests the limits of her endurance when she learns that she is the long-awaited Phantasmer, a human who can change the fabric of Fairy simply by believing in a new story. Sylvia’s life is thrown off course as two warring Courts, the Seelie and Unseelie, both attempt to co-opt her gift to attack the other Court. All while she’s trying not to get kicked out of school for fighting. And it doesn’t help matters that the fairies begging for her help are both attractive young men–with their own agendas.
About Wren Handman
Wren Handman is a novelist, screenwriter, and playwright from the rainy west coast of Canada. Her newest novel, Command the Tides, is a fantasy action romance set in the invented land of Midvalen. Her short stories have been featured in such magazines as Crow Toes Quarterly, and such anthologies as Voice From The Planet. She is currently collaborating on the TV show The Switch, the world's first transgender sitcom.
Trajectory is the prequel novel to Carissa Andrew's Pendomus Chronicles, and it gives us a little peek into some character origins - or at least I think it does. I feel like you'd need to read the part of the series first to truly understand the importance of what happens in Trajectory. But if you haven't read them yet, then prepare to be intrigued by two completely different worlds and the people within them.
I really liked the way the Helix was described. The glimpse of a potential utopian society, but we all know where that leads. The Lateral was also interesting, but not so much because of the society, but the characters. I felt like I got to know them better than the Helix characters.
Definitely worth the read if you have read or plan on reading the Pendomus Chronicles.
P.S. Trajectory is currently free on ebook retailers (see below for links)!
Two sisters fighting for the throne and kingdom go from family to enemies. Lu, the fighter and fiercely independent one, and be readying herself to become the first female leader of the kingdom. But her hopes are shattered when her father makes the unexpected decision to give the throne to her younger sister's, Min, fiance. A fiance that has ulterior motives and plans to rule with an iron fist.
Lu is a very strong, but unfortunately stubborn, character. She has a picture in her mind of how things should be and struggles to accept it when that picture is shattered by events unfolding around her. Forced to make allies in unusual places, we are introduced to Nokhai, a man from a culture and magical background thought to have vanished. But they will both find out that he is far more than what he seems, and his race is far from disappeared.
While Lu is a strong and likable character, I felt drawn to the story of Min. The younger daughter that grew up in the shadow of her sister. When she discovers she could be so much more, the power calls to her and she finds herself in the hands of a skilled manipulator that would do anything to keep her under his heel and under his control. He sees her ancient magic as a tool to recreate the world under his rule and wipe everyone who opposes him off the face of existence. She struggles to find out who she is and what her place in the world will be.
This is the first book in the Girl King series, and while it sets the stage for an epic fantasy battle, it is an amazing story on its own as well. There is much more to come in the world, and I feel several surprise revelations on the horizon as the sisters battle each other for the title of King.
**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book**
Zoey was a great teenage character. The new kid in school and feeling a bit like an outcast is something I could completely relate to. Being uprooted and moving is rough for anyone, but moving AND finding out that you're not exactly human? That would be super stressful.
To add to Zoey's difficulties, the older generations of her Ice Dragon family are a bit snobbish and don't think humans are good enough for their grand-daughter (even if she is only half-dragon).
I really admired the fight that Zoey found within her self and the courage it took to stand up to her family and their traditions. I don't think her battle is over yet, but she may have won some allies to her side of the field by the end.
One of the things I enjoy most about the Havenwood Falls storylines is the great diversity of characters. People from all walks of life and creatures from all over the mythos. The Fall introduces a creature that I haven't seen in Havenwood Falls yet, and her best friend, who happens to be a witch.
Serena, our new creature, has no idea the paranormal world exists and that she is a very big part of it. Much of her family's past is shrouded in mystery, and her mother (who is understandably a bit of a crazy person) is unable to share the secrets and guide Serena. It falls to her aunts to take care of her, and they are up to something that Serena just doesn't understand yet.
As a person who has always found water to be very peaceful, I understood Serena's draw to it. But her draw is much more than mine, and it causes her peace and solitude, and also pain and guilt as she learns more about who she is and why the water calls to her.
This book was very much high school. The cliques, the friendship fights, the pranks, the getting in trouble, and learning the lessons of life. It rang very true (if a bit over the top) for what the high school experience is like. The Fall is one of my favorite editions to Havenwood Falls High so far (there are many I have yet to read though).
**Warning - this does have a bit of a cliff hanger ending - so be prepared.
What happens when a witch hunter falls in love with a witch? Well, hopefully nothing in Havenwood Falls. Witch hunter Macy is supposedly warded from her witch hunting blood, and it shouldn't be a big deal that she's dating the witch, Gallad. But her wards start to fail, and to avoid all hell breaking loose, Macy runs.
A large part of this story is Macy coming to terms with her history and legacy. When she stumbles upon distant relatives with a more violent tendency, she is forced to come face to face with what she just might become.
Macy's family, and her boyfriend Gallad, are racing against the clock to find her. If her month away runs out, then the magic will force her to forget everything she knows about her home.
There are some super crazy fight scenes, a very well-written psychological and moral dilemma, and a boyfriend that just won't give up on his true love. All in all, this is a great addition to Havenwood Falls, and I loved the entire premise and history of the witch hunters that live in the town.
Title: Lost Horizon (Oz in Space #1)
Author: Michelle Hercules
Genre: Young Adult, SciFi Romance
A magical planet torn apart by war. A defiant space pilot cadet determined to save the ones she loves. The adventure of a lifetime.
Oz like you have never seen before.
Space Academy prodigy Dorothy Hanson doesn’t have time for love nonsense. She has one goal, complete the mission her parents started before their untimely death.
When a cosmic disturbance hits the Kansas Space Station, Dorothy seizes that opportunity to go on her first space voyage. She didn’t expect to be sucked into a vortex nor land on a strange planet ravaged by war.
Stranded, she must embark on a perilous mission to the Land of Oz, the only nation that possesses the technology to send her home. Three strangers join Dorothy in her quest, all carrying reasons of their own for reaching Emerald City. A man without memories marked with a strange symbol on his face. A cyborg with a chip on his shoulder and a mysterious past. And a scarred hellioncat plagued by nightmares in the dark.
Dorothy doesn’t know if she can trust them, but as their journey progresses, their bond becomes stronger and Dorothy's feelings evolve from suspicion to caring too much. Torn between contradicting emotions, she must find the strength to fight the evil forces that stack up against them along the way. Surviving the trip on the yellow road is priority number one, but can she survive losing her heart?
About Michelle Hercules
USA Today bestselling author Michelle Hercules always knew creative arts were her calling but not in a million years did she think she would write a novel. With a background in fashion design she thought she would follow that path. But one day, out of the blue, she had an idea for a book. One page turned into ten pages, ten pages turned into a hundred, and before she knew, her first book, The Prophecy of Arcadia, was born.
Michelle Hercules resides in The Netherlands with her husband and daughter. She is currently working on the Legends of Gattica series.
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