Review: The Tower

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Nicole Campbell. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, $13.50, 346p. ISBN 9781545411278.

Her fifth novel in just over two years, Nicole Campbell presents The Tower, a young adult story of life, love, death, and loss. Setting her tale in Elizabethtown, Illinois, and distinguishing it with a foundation in witchery, Campbell tells the otherwise familiar story of three teenagers who have grown up together and are now learning how to navigate through the realities of life.

Rowyn, Reed, and Rosalyn are as close as three friends can be. Having been raised as members of the same “Circle,” their families’ beliefs in witchery knit them close as the characteristic that sets them apart from the other kids at school. Outside of their beliefs, though, Rowyn, Reed, and Rosalyn are every-day teenagers that struggle with coming of age, relationships, what to do after high school, and even the effects of sudden tragedy.

While the staple themes of a young adult novel are well carried throughout the novel, the significance of some of the witchery signified in the story isn’t directly communicated. For example, the Tower card is drawn periodically during readings,  but without an understanding of tarot cards and their meanings, the connotation is lost to the reader. It is not until the last page of the book that some connection is made between events in the story and drawings of the Tower card:

“The Tower card hadn’t lied. Everything crumbled and fell, and it took pieces of me with it.” Excerpt From: Nicole Campbell. “The Tower.” iBooks.

Campbell writes well while switching between points of view of each of the teenagers. She is attentive to differing reactions that each character might have to the same event, and is able to understand and communicate emotional struggle. The Tower is an approachable story, remaining realistic in its “paranormal” basis, welcoming any reader of general young adult fiction.

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Guest Post and Excerpt: The Invasion

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As the popular quote goes, “Hindsight is 20/20.” Looks like this is true of even authors. Next week, Book 4 of The Union Series is published, continuing a four-year-long telling of an American dystopia. Author T.H. Hernandez has taken a journey of her own, along with her readers, in discovering her characters – enough to feel a desire to revise Book 1, published back in 2014.

Here’s a look into what moved T.H. Hernandez to better Book 1, The Union, followed by an excerpt of her latest book, The Invasion!

The Invasion (The Union Series, #4)
T.H. Hernandez
Publication date: August 1, 2017
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult


From the Author: How writing Book Four led to revision of Book One

“When I first published The Union three years ago, it was the first novel I’d written. It had been through more than thirty rounds of edits, incorporated feedback from a publisher, an agent, and my critique partners, and had been professionally edited. However, when I went to pull some quotes for an upcoming blog tour, I realized my characters didn’t sound like themselves.

THAfter writing three more books in the series and outlining a fourth, I know my characters so much better. Even though they go through incredible growth throughout the series, they are essentially themselves, and I wanted them to sound that way.

In addition to fixing character inconsistencies, I shaved off close to 12,000 words without altering the storyline. The result is a faster-paced story that I hope readers will embrace.”


 

EXCERPT FROM The Invasion:

Liquid fills my nose and mouth and I claw in front of me, searching for the surface. I gasp, choking on a combination of air and water, and shove my drenched hair out of my face. Hercules One holds an empty bucket at his side, water still dripping from the rim.

Dizziness takes hold when I sit up, my body tilting. H-1 grabs my biceps, yanking me to my feet mere moments before my head would have conked on the concrete. Guess he wants the honor of doing the head conking himself.

Something about my face doesn’t feel right. My fingers run over the planes of my face, hitting a tender spot on my cheek. Pain shoots through my jaw and into my head while stars dance across my vision until everything disappears.

Another blast of water hits my face and my eyes fly open to a pair of cold blue ones staring back at me. “Where did you train?” Draya asks.

My lips part to tell her off, but the words catch on their way out.

Hercules Two approaches me, and without warning his fist is in my stomach. A yell tears from my raw throat and I double over, screaming through my teeth.

“Where. Did. You. Train.”

“In the Northwest,” I gasp.

“Where in the Northwest? Which camp?”

The pain begins to ebb, allowing me to control my mouth. If I tell them what they want, they’ll have no reason to keep me alive. I’m just not sure how much I can tolerate before I verbally vomit the truth along with the threatening bile. H-2 strikes the left side of my face with the back of his hand, sending blinding pain racing from my head into my spine.

“Northwest Seven,” I scream. Shit, at this rate, I’ll tell them everything and be dead within an hour.

Draya’s eyes dim rather than brighten with the information. “Now we’re getting somewhere. Who was with you?”

“Other recruits. There was a whole truckload of us, plus all the kids already there.”

She narrows her gaze before turning on her heel and leaving the room, returning a few moments later with a tablet. “Several soldiers left that camp unauthorized, including the commander. Who was your commander, and where is he now?”

What the hell? First, I’m not telling her anything about Cyrus, even if she tortures me, but second… “Don’t you know who the commander was?”

Her only response is an unblinking stare.

The open-palmed slap doesn’t hurt any less as it rocks my head to the side. The stakes are too high now, and I manage to keep my mouth shut. “Answer the commander,” H-2 snarls.

I bite my lips together and prepare for the next blow, another backhand across my face. In an instant, the face of the first girl I shot to save Marcus’s life flashes before me. I close my eyes and do my best to stand a little straighter and take the next strike as penance for her. The fist in the gut is for the boy I killed, and I crumple to the floor. The boot to my ribs is for the kids blown up when the explosives went off. I hear the first crack, more than feel it. What they’re doing to me pales in comparison to what I did. I can take this, I deserve it. But I can’t prevent the small whimpers from escaping with each kick until the merciful darkness comes to take me again.


The complete series:

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

Book One, The Union, is only 99¢ for a limited time!

 


About the Author

T.H. Hernandez is the author of young adult books. The Union, a futuristic dystopian adventure, was a finalist in the 2015 San Diego book awards in the Young Adult Fiction category.

T.H. loves pumpkin spice lattes, Game of Thrones, Comic-Con, Star Wars, Doctor Who marathons, bad lip-reading videos, and all things young adult, especially the three young adults who share her home.

When not visiting the imaginary worlds inside her head, T.H. Hernandez lives in usually sunny San Diego, California, with her husband and three children, a couple of cats, and a dog who thinks he’s a cat, affectionately referred to as “the puppycat.”

You can find T.H. online at http://thhernandez.com

Author Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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Release: An Impossible World

An Impossible World
S.P. Cervantes
Publication date: July 25, 2017
Genres: Adult, Dystopian, Romance


What would happen if terrorism spread and hate took over? What would the world become?

Isabella (Belle) Grey trained throughout her entire adult life to protect those around her –training that would prove invaluable in her quest to make a new life. Forced to live in an impossible world, terror was not only right outside the walls of her protected community, but also raging behind the walls of her very own home.

No longer willing to put up with her husband’s drunken abuse, Belle made the desperate decision to run away from the safety of her community and escape alone into the broken world beyond. Chased by death as bombs exploded in the distance, her next decision might not only save her life, but could potentially bring light back into her darkened soul.

When faced with the impossible, Belle found strength in an unsuspecting stranger who set her path in a new direction – one she never considered.

Fear. Love. Revenge. Strength … all come together in this epic tale of fate and survival.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo


S.P. Cervantes is the author of the acclaimed contemporary romance series, A Broken Fairy Tale series. S.P. is also the author of the highly-rated young adult romantic fantasy trilogy, Secrets of Shadow Hill, that has been described as, “Twilight meets Harry Potter.” It’s not your typical romantic fantasy.

S.P Cervantes lives in Orange County, California with her husband and three children, where she is a teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family, writing, reading, and running, but is always thinking of an idea for her next novel.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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Release: The Ghost King

Happy Monday, y’all! Today, it’s Jeff Altabef’s latest book, The Ghost King!

Who are Aaliss and Wilky, and why are they going to war? Will there be more magic and mayhem, like in Altabef’s first book, The Red Death (which won a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award in Science Fiction last fall, FYI)? One of the best parts of this release is that you can get both books for only 99 cents each this week!


An Ancient Prophecy foretold.
An Evil haunts the land.
A battle looms against overwhelming odds.

Led by a powerful witch, a wild invading army threatens to tear the Soulless lands apart. To survive, the three tribes must join together, but old grievances and hatred divide them. Only Wilky can unite them, but when he glimpses the future, he sees only a glimmer of hope; too much of the future remains veiled in darkness.
As the battle approaches, King Dermot orders his brother, Eamon, to stay behind at the Stronghold and defend against a possible siege. Eamon, who took an oath to fight the invaders, defies his brother, risks everything, and plunges into a desperate race with Aaliss and Wilky to unite the tribes.

Enemies from all sides conspire against them. Only together can they hope to succeed against the witch who will stop at nothing to destroy them. Yet, even united, they will need magic to defeat this enemy at their door.

As the battle looms, only one chance at survival remains – the Ghost King – but who is he, and what will be the price of their redemption?


What else is so great about this release? This exclusive excerpt! There are 5 featured excerpts on this tour: one on the Novel Publicity page, one on Jeff Altabef’s website, and 3 spread among the 20+ blogs that have helped Jeff with this release!

Chapter 4

Rage pulsed through Cassian. He wanted to kill them all, but his brother was right. There were too many warriors, and the rumble of the war band in the distance only grew louder.

Max pulled an arrow from his quiver, but Cassian grabbed him and yanked him behind a pine tree. His young cousin squirmed, but Cassian held him back with one arm as his head cleared.

Lucian frowned. “We can’t wait around here. We need to run back to the horse.”

The horsemen had regained their confidence now that the arrows had stopped flying. Three galloped toward the forest, shouting and pointing as they rode. Luckily, they didn’t know where to look and had guessed wrong.

If they stayed there, the horsemen would find them—and soon.

“Come on.” Lucian raced into the forest.

Cassian tossed Max over his shoulder and ran after him, sprinting away from the approaching horsemen, the smoke, and his dead cousin. Using his hunter’s instincts, he ran quietly, passing trees in a green blur. He scooted under branches, leapt over roots, and cut around hedges and tall grasses. Sweat drenched his shirt as he churned his legs hard.

He stopped when they reached the ghost tree where they had tied the horse. They had brought only one.

He dropped Max to the ground and listened for the sound of approaching horses, but he only heard normal forest sounds coupled with their own heavy breathing. Once he was sure no one had followed them, he dropped to his knees and winced as the image of the axe beheading his cousin played in his mind.

How could they kill her? She was defenseless.


About the Author

Jeff Altabef is an award-winning author who lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and Charlie the dog. He spends time volunteering at the writing center at his local community college. After years of being accused of “telling stories,” he thought he would make it official, and Altabef now writes in both the thriller and young adult genres. Fourteenth Colony, a political thriller, was his debut novel. Evolved Publishing has published Jeff’s second thriller, Shatter Point, which won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for Fall 2014 in the category of Best Thriller. Jeff’s first young adult novel, Wind Catcher: A Chosen Novel, will be published in March by Evolved Publishing. He’s extremely excited that his daughter, Erynn Altabef, is his co-author of The Chosen Series. As an avid Knicks fan, Jeff is prone to long periods of melancholy during hoops season. Jeff has a column with The Examiner focused on writing, and a blog designed to encourage writing by those that like telling stories.

You can follow Jeff on Facebook, Twitter, or join his newsletter!

Cover Reveal: Coldmaker

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When the rivers boil and the air is too hot to breathe deeply, only one commodity is valued above all others: Cold.

Those that hold Cold, hold power.

Spout is not one of those lucky few. Born a Jadan – a slave – he is forced to stand on a baking hot street for hours, waiting to do the bidding of the Nobles who control the city.

But Spout has a secret. When the sun goes down, he tinkers into the night. Using his extraordinary talent, Spout turns worthless junk into incredible inventions.

If found Spout will pay the ultimate price, but as the rulers of the sun-drenched city tighten their death-grip on all Jadankind, Spout’s gift might be the only hope for him and his people of ever being free. 

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                             TITLE:  Coldmaker
                       AUTHOR:  Daniel A. Cohen
                          GENRE:  Fantasy
                 PUBLISHER:  HarperVoyager
          RELEASE DATE:  November 2, 2017

Okay, now that that’s out of the way.

Before I share Dan’s website or any other bookish links to make his pub and literary agent happy, let me let you in on a coldmaker – er, sender of chills down your spine.

Ever heard of a “memestagram”? You know, a meme-Instagram. Yeah, that.
It gets better: Ever heard of a book having a memestagram?

Real. Thing. I mean…

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Proof, yo. Go follow @coldmakerbook for your fix of “cold themes” and “fire memes!”
While you’re at it, check out Dan’s author website at www.danielacohenbooks.com, and keep up with Dan’s current saxophoning on Fierce Kelly’s Facebook page!


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Having spent most of his life trapped in the frozen tundra of upstate New York, Daniel decided to dream himself somewhere new. Fantasy worlds became his refuge, giving him a place to escape from the cold and mundane. His first novel The Ancillary’s Mark was published when Daniel was only eighteen, receiving critical acclaim. His second book Masters of the Veil was published by Spencer Hill Press.

In addition to his writing career, Daniel is a semi-professional saxophonist in Austin, Texas, spending his days in front of the page and his nights in front of crowds. Sometimes the crowds cheer, and Daniel often wishes the page would do the same.

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Grand Opening, 7/01/2017: Zenith Bookstore (Duluth, MN)

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Mural by Tom Napoli, Photo by Charlie Smith of Arrowhead Shores Photography
Following one of the greatest dreams a couple can have are Bob and Angel Dobrow, opening Zenith Bookstore in West Duluth, Minnesota, this Saturday, July 1st, at 10:00 A.M. If a storefront is any indication of the atmosphere behind its doors, Zenith Bookstore promises to curb any bookworm’s curiosity. I mean, just look at that storefront.

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Photo by Jordan Bissell of Duluth Reader
Zenith Bookstore is settling into a late 1800s space complete with hardwood floors and brick walls. The Dobrows are newly retired, and found the spot while checking out Beaner’s Central, a restaurant/cafe/music venue/recording studio that is across the alley and one door down from what is going to be Zenith Bookstore. Hello, new favorite block in the world.

Zenith Bookstore will carry new and used books, and will trade gently-used books for store credit. Also gracing shelves will be some adorable Zenith mugs, and an impressive collection of out-of-print Peter Pauper Press books.

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@sj_nielsen
Zenith Bookstore has already seen some local love in the months leading up to their opening. Family and friends of the owners helped with renovation of the space. Zenith hosted an InstaMeet in late June and opened its doors to photographers of all walks of life for snaps and refreshments. Local artist Samantha Nielsen has a new addition to her portfolio, and I personally have found so many articles by local news sources written in anticipation of opening day!

Throughout the month of July, Zenith Bookstore will be offering 10% off of used titles. Be sure to stop in at the first author event with Twin Cities author Ashley Shelby on July 6, and join Zenith’s mailing list on their website to keep up with what comes next!

Zenith Bookstore is located at 318 N. Central Avenue in Duluth, MN. Get directions here!

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*All info gathered on 6/30/17 from Zenith’s website and social media pages, and from these articles by Shelf Awareness, Perfect Duluth Day, The Loft, and Duluth Reader.