Book reviews are currently on hiatus. Thanks for reading!
Many stories I’ve read have main characters who come from either one culture or another, and they often don’t navigate the in-between areas of our multi-ethnic and diverse world. Or if they do, the stories sometimes treat it as the be-all and end-all of the narrative – diversity for the sake of diversity. Where I come from, it was just another aspect of growing up, and this is how The Windfall App by Teresa Richards treats the main character Marina’s background. Her mother is Chinese, her father American, and she’s caught in the middle between both of their expectations. Since I was once a half-Asian teen growing up in the Bay Area just like Marina, I was especially thrilled to read about a main character my long-ago teenage self could identify with.
This is a book that has all the elements of a really fun story. It starts out with some common YA premises: Marina’s at the end of her senior year, trying to get into colleges, win academic competitions, hang out with her best friends and avoid her frenemies. And then it turns into a gripping novel with plenty of mystery and suspense, romance and betrayal, and a close look at the importance of family and friends.
Here's more info about the story:
Marina Berghman is a classical piano prodigy with parents who’ve had her life mapped out since she was in diapers. But their plan leaves no room for her secret love of alternative rock, or Sean, the edgy guitarist who recently moved to town.
When Marina buys a lottery ticket on her eighteenth birthday via the new Windfall app, she expects it to be nothing more than a rite of passage. But she wins – the grand prize of five thousand dollars a day, for life. Suddenly given the means to break free from a life she never felt in control of, she’s quick to cut her family ties and turn her back on everything she knows.
But her lottery win was no lucky break. Her prize comes with strings attached, and Marina soon finds herself at the center of someone else’s life or death game. When she discovers evidence linking her dad to the intrigue, she turns to Sean for help. But he’s harboring secrets of his own.
Now Marina must sort out who to trust and who’s pulling the strings, before her prize turns into a noose.
I’d definitely recommend it to YA fans, young and old alike. A full review of The Windfall App can be found at Bewildering Stories HERE.
Teresa is also doing a Rafflecopter giveaway, and you can win this great prize:
But there isn't much time left to enter - only until the end of day today! So head on over to the link HERE and enter to win.
I also was able to have a quick chat with Teresa about her book and writing in general.
What inspired you to write this book?
I actually got inspired by an ad I heard on the radio for the Connecticut Lucky-For-Life lottery game in which you win a thousand dollars a day for life. I remember thinking, "What if someone won who was really young—would the lottery really shell out a grand a day for the rest of that person's natural life? Or would they *somehow* get out of paying." And the story snowballed from there.
Who would you be if you were a character in your own book (and why)?
Honestly, there is a lot of me in the main character, Marina. I channeled my love of music--all kinds of music--into her. The scenes where she's playing the piano, or thinking about playing the piano, all come directly from my own experience, although I'm nowhere near as good as she is. Also, in another life, I am the bass player in a rock band, so I hold the same secret love of alternative rock that she does. Marina's love of hiking, and of exploring the city of San Francisco, also comes from me, as do the deep feelings she has for her family members by the end of the book.
What's next on the horizon?
I have another YA contemporary book, called Flippin' Skaters, near completion. It's about a girl who reinvents herself by starting a roller skating gymnastics team after a scandalous pictures of her goes viral and destroys her reputation. After that I'll be working on the third book in my Altered Stones series, Daughter of Pearl [Book 1 is Emerald Bound, Book 2 is Topaz Reign].
Steena Holmes’ novel The Forgotten Ones is a slow-paced thriller that questions the idea of what makes a family and how a family can break apart. At its heart, the story is about the choices a person faces when caught between family and what is right. Silence has a price, even if it seems convenient at the time.
It's an intriguing story with a compelling narrative and an enjoyable story line. The characters are alternately sympathetic and horrific. I thought Ms. Holmes also did a good job of exploring aspects of mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder. And the mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat from the start of the book until the end.
For a full review, check it out here at Bewildering Stories. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!
When I find an author I love to read, I will follow their writing from their first release to their latest. I recently reviewed Paul Beckman's most recent collection of short stories, Kiss Kiss, and it had me laughing out loud.
His earlier collection of short stories, Peek, is also well worth the read. It's funny and dark, literary and absurd, full of vignettes as well as touching flash fiction stories. It's full of the taboo and what people tend not to say - not out loud, at least.
For a full review of the book, check it out here at Bewildering Stories. While the stories are probably not for the faint of heart or readers who find themselves easily offended, it's a great read for the rest of us. I'd definitely recommend it!
I had the pleasure recently to return to the work of Gary Beck. I've read a number of his collections of poetry, and I was happy to dive into his recently released book of short stories, Now I Accuse.
The stories in this collection contain the same breadth of theme and tone as his poetry, and also a wide variety of topics and characters. The descriptions arelovely and often heartbreaking, with a few lighter, humorous stories thrown in to balance out the tone.
For a full review of the book, including a detailed look at some of my favorite stories from the collection, please feel free to visit the latest issue of Bewildering Stories and read my review here.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
I recently read Paul Beckman’s flash fiction collection Kiss Kiss. Many of his stories are written in a literary style, although most of them also contain comedic elements, with one or two chuckle-out-loud moments of humor. Very serious problems are at the heart of almost every story, and it’s interesting how Mr. Beckman can turn these situations on their head.
Flash fiction has always been one of my favorite forms to write, and the difficulty in creating effective flash stories is that so much has to be left out to meet that word count goal. It’s what’s not said, more than what is. And Paul Beckman is a master at making silence speak loudly.
For a full review of Kiss Kiss, check it out here at Bewildering Stories. I hope you enjoy reading it!
I am a big fan of historically-influenced fantasy, and Guy Gavriel Kay is one of my favorite writers in the genre. His world-building is complex and nuanced, his writing style poetic and heartbreaking.
I've read almost all of Kay’s published work and his classic story Tigana still remains near the top of the list. My full book review of it came out today at Bewildering Stories and is available to read here.
This is a world that feels real from page one, full of war, music and redemption. Every time I pick the story up, I can't put it down until I've reached the last page.
If you haven't read any of Kay's work, I'd suggest moving this book to the top of the to-read pile. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Once in a while, I like to return to my old favorites in the science fiction and fantasy genres - it's like having a good chat with a friend whom you haven't seen since your school days. Illusion by Paula Volsky is one of those books well worth rereading, in my opinion. It's a complex genre retelling of a fantastical French Revolution, complete with magic and mechanical creatures.
The writing is superbly detailed, and the story will keep you on the edge of your seat. The main character, Eliste, is one of the Exalted, which are the ruling class in Vonahr. When the peasantry revolt, the ruling class are cast down, and Eliste must struggle to survive in a suddenly hostile city intent on sending her to the executioner.
My full review of the book came out at Bewildering Stories today, so please feel free to check it out here. I hope you enjoy reading (or rereading) Illusion as much as I do, even if it's my two millionth time doing so!
Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and I always try to read at least one romance during the month of February. This year, it's Rachel Gibson’s The Trouble with Valentine’s Day, which seems to strike a pretty good balance between the sometimes sickly-sweet romance genre and the humor of rom-coms.
It’s my first time reading Ms. Gibson’s work, but I would enjoy picking up another book by her. It’s a fun read, light-hearted in tone despite dealing with some very serious issues, and the characters are appealing enough to have kept me going to the last page. Overall, I’d recommend The Trouble with Valentine’s Day to fans of the genre.
If you'd like to read a full review of the book, head over to Bewildering Stories and check my review of it here. Happy reading!
I've enjoyed comics for a long time, although I definitely wouldn't call myself an expert in them. In fact, my 8-year-old daughter probably knows more about the current climate of comics than I do! But I do enjoy the art form, and I have a lot of respect for the talented writers and artists who put each issue together.
Recently, I started chatting online with Omar Spahi, founder of OSSM Comics and the writer of the popular series Xenoglyphs. I read the first volume and enjoyed immersing myself in the alternate world of the series. I was also blown away by the fantastic art of P.J. Catacutan.
The basic storyline of the series is that there are nine Xenoglyphs, magical stones that are give their bearers a variety of elemental powers. Steven James and his best friend Dom Jenkins pair up with a number of other Separators, those who protect the stones, in order to stop Anubis, the master of evil, from collecting all of them and becoming all-powerful.
So far, 18 issues have been written, with 12 remaining to be made. A Kickstarter campaign to fund the remaining 12 issues has a little less than 3 weeks left to finish funding, and they're over halfway to their goal, with some pretty cool rewards for backers.
If you'd like to know more about this series, watch my blog for an upcoming interview in a few weeks with the founder of OSSM Comics, Omar Spahi. Until then, I hope you enjoy reading Xenoglyphs!
I read a lot - depending on my writing schedule, I can usually read about a book a day. Some of the books are fantastic and I would love to recommend to everyone - some, not so much. Either way, I thought I would share a few thoughts on what I'm reading at the moment.