Thursday, February 18, 2016

Guest Post + Excerpt : Parent Quest The Search For The Twin Mystery by Gabriel Ammah


Hello, fellow book wanderers! Currently searching for a book to dig in? Today, you might want to consider checking out an exclusive guest post by Gabriel Ammah and an extract from his debut YA book, Parent Quest: The Search For The Twin Mystery.

Guest post

My Inspiration for Writing My Debut Novel
by Gabriel Ammah

I hated reading as a child. For some strange reason I couldn’t get to grips with it. It felt like a laborious task. But I will never forget my primary school teacher, Miss Taylor. She was very instrumental in changing my attitude towards books and storytelling.

As a young adult, I found myself reading a lot more news bulletins and magazines until I stumbled on novels from Jeffrey Archer, Richard Laymon and Dan Brown. I was initially frightened by the thickness of their novels, but once I started reading, I was hooked!These three authors seemed to have a similar style of writing.They dove straight into the meat of the story without over explaining the landscape and the feel of environment the characters were in.

I chose to write for young adults mainly because my children were growing up and so were their appetite for stronger and wider content. They were not babies anymore, so the Three Little Pigs style of storytelling was becoming obsolete. I wanted to create something that was believable and relatable to children their age, which meant more research- listening to how they spoke to each other as well as their friends. My children love Harry Potter, so it came as no surprise that I was going to write a fantasy adventure book that allowed the readers to create their own imagery of what the characters should look like.I always see things from the approach that every human being has an imagination and should be allowed to explore and create a fictitious world in the safe confinements of their mind.

In this first installment of my debut book Parent Quest, I drew from my experiences as a young adult and the interactions that I had with friends, teachers and family members. I then thought of the likelihood of my children not knowing where I was and what resources they would use to try and find me. That coupled with mysterious powers, suspense and teen horseplay made writing this book fun.

Children go through so many new experiences growing up. So within this book, I touch on some of the complicated issues and dilemmas they could potentially find themselves in. Themes like bullying, arguing, loneliness and problem solving all make up what is an interesting read and I hope it reaches out to a multitude of young people.

A friend asked me recently why I chose Ipswich as the main location of the book. My answer to that was simply, “I love the place.” It has so much history and some of the old architecture around the town reminded me of places I used to visit as a child.

One of my hobbies is traveling, so you will find in my future books elements of weird and interesting traveling experiences that make life adventurous. J

About Parent Quest: The Search For The Twin Mystery

Synopsis: 
A tragic accident and lightning strike changes the lives of two best friends in a magical way. After both of their parents go missing under mysterious circumstances, Neil and Cherron enlist two of their schoolmates on a journey to uncover the mystery - using social media, clue hunting and spying techniques - they uncover hidden secrets and conspiracy in the small English town of Ipswich.
(Add to your Goodreads TBR here)

Genre: Young Adult, Action/Adventure
Release date: December 26, 2015
Published by: Chontama Publishing
Purchase link: Amazon


About the Author

Gabriel Ammah was born in London in 1975, the youngest of three brothers.  When Gabriel was five years old, his parents separated. His mother along with his siblings moved to South London where he would spend the best of his teenage and early adult life.

His love for reading was encouraged by his primary school teacher, Miss Taylor, who used to sit the children down on the mat, reading stories to them - sometimes with the occasional singsong with her guitar.

Gabriel’s love of music eventually saw him progress into the music industry as a producer and songwriter. He worked in this field for over ten years, with some of the largest record labels at that time.

In 2005, Gabriel welcomed his son into the world by cutting his umbilical core. Two years later, saw the birth of his daughter. It was during these years of raising his children that he learnt the art of storytelling, creating numerous short stories to put the children to sleep.

While raising a young family, working, and studying at the University of East London, Gabriel learnt the structure and importance of narrative and it’s place in storytelling. With that he decided to embark on writing his first book. Some of the experiences the characters go through in the book were drawn from his own experiences growing up without his father. This, he says, was a learning curve and a realisation that life can continue even after a tragedy.

Find Gabriel on:  Goodreads | Facebook


Excerpt


There was a knock at the door that distracted Neil from his gaming console. He turned his head round and craned his neck, peering through the side window to catch a glimpse of who was interrupting his afternoon. Unsuccessful, he quickly walked over to the front door, hearing a familiar laugh outside that reminded him of his neighbour and friend Cherron.

Cherron was a down-to-earth, full of life, twelve-year-old born in Ipswich. She was smart, sporty and very popular in school; sharing her many talents to help others become just as good as she was.

As Neil opened the door, Cherron pounced on him with hugs and kisses, much to his disgust. “What are you doing here?” Neil asked rudely. “I thought you were going out with your girlfriends after school?”

“Well, I was going for a bike ride down to the canal but mum said I couldn’t go because it reminded her too much of what she used to do with Dad. You know she’s still finding it difficult to function without him around, right?”

A few years before, Cherron’s father, John, had mysteriously gone missing from work. At that time he was working as a senior accounts manager for a mobile phone company. His wife, Cherron’s mum Linda, a professional brand marketing manager for the same firm, suspected that his disappearance was somehow work related or at the very least work influenced.

“Yeah I know, but you also know I like to relax after school, so this better be important…” Neil sighed. “Come in then.”

As they made their way over to the living room overflowing with all the gadgets known to man, Cherron put her hand on Neil’s shoulder excitedly. “I’ve found a clue that could help find my dad!”

“A clue?” replied Neil. “Your dad’s been gone for a long time now. Why do you want to dig that all up again?” he continued without any regard for her feelings.

“Well, as I was sitting in my room last night doing research for my school history project, I thought, why not turn searching for my dad into a personal project as well? I spend so much time studying and investigating other things, why shouldn’t I do something that’s meaningful to me? It’s not like you don’t understand what it feels like, not to have your mum around,” Cherron said sarcastically.

Around about the same time, if not the same time as the disappearance of Cherron’s dad, Neil’s mother Evelyn also went missing without a trace. The missing persons report filed at Woodbridge police station hadn’t turned up any clues as to where she could have gone. Long after the police stopped searching, Neil’s dad Nathan continued desperately to try and locate her, but to no avail. Nathan was aware that as a freelance journalist, Evelyn’s job was often very risky, sometimes investigating or covering stories of corruption within corporations and governments. But Nathan, wasn’t aware of any active investigations she’d been working on at the time she’d gone missing, which made her disappearance that much harder to handle. Nathan had been increasingly struggling with all that was going on and buried himself in his work; spending less and less time with his son as a result. To compensate for the lack of attention he was giving Neil, Nathan spoilt him with all the gadgets he could possibly want.

“I try my best not to think about her anymore,” Neil muttered. “She knows where we live. She could have at least written a letter or something by now.”

Cherron looked puzzled at his response. “Don’t you care?” She said in disbelief.

“Aren’t you interested to find out what could have happened to her, or at least find out if she’s still alive?!”

Walking over to the desktop computer squashed in next to Neil’s impressive, state-of-the-art home theatre system, Cherron sat down and proceeded to log onto a website dedicated to missing persons. After going through a long list of profiles, she landed on an image of a young girl. In the background was a figure of a man that resembled her father. In the photo he was holding a candy bar in one hand and, in the other what appeared to be a woman’s hand; although she was slightly out of frame.

“You see, this could possibly be the first clue in ages… I know it’s a long shot but it’s my only hope right now,” Cherron said sadly. “I’d really like you to help me Neil. We could do this together; our own secret investigative bureau.”

Neil sighed, “I guess it could be a good idea, but try not to get your hopes up, it could turn out to be nothing after all…”

“So you’ll help me then?!” Cherron burst out excitedly.

“Only if I can find my mum too,” he replied.

They shook hands like they’d just signed a multimillion-pound business deal, and with that they got to work sifting through the profiles of other missing persons.



So what do you think? I think this will be an exciting read. I am drawn to read debut novels because it's like digging up an undiscovered treasure. Do you like discovering debut novels as much as I do? What are the latest debut novels you've read recently? Hit me up in the comments.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Review: Beyond the Red by Ava Jae


Beyond the Red
by Ava Jae

Summary:
Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.


(cover image and summary lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Expected publication date:  March 1, 2016
Source/Format: Edelweiss / e-ARC
Pre-order links: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | BAM!

My Thoughts:

Beyond the Red (BtR) takes place in an alien planet called Safara. Safara has eight territories and each territory is ruled by royalty, one of whom is Queen Kora (or “el Avra” as what her subordinates call her). When confronted with discontented citizens who prefer her twin brother as a ruler, she launched a campaign against the human rebels to assert her strength and power. Living among the human rebels is Eros, a half-blood. In one swift raid from the Sepharon soldiers, everything was ripped off from him and he was taken to be enslaved. The discovery of his secret identity lead to him and Kora become unexpected allies.

This debut novel has a unique premise and setting where generations ago, humans from Earth attempted to invade Safara but they failed and thus became slaves to the native race, the Sepharons. Safara is a planet with two suns, four moons and red desert sands. It has its own rich culture, langauge, religion and technology.

The book is told in first person dual points of view of Kora and Eros. Each has a distinct voice and they are both quite relatable main characters. Kora is understandably an insecure ruler as she is young, inexperienced and the first female ruler in generations thrown befuddled in the dirty world of politics. Eros is a half-Sepharon, half-human in a planet where half-bloods are treated worse than dirt by both humans and natives alike. He is a bit brooding spewing words such as, “People will always find fault where they want to.” and “I’m not one of them. I’m not one of anyone.”, but I like him that way. Both characters are just trying to to find their true place under the two suns of Safara and what they found instead is each other.

Romance-wise, the book has elements of forbidden love, love triangle and a display of Sepharon courtship which involves some sexy fire dancing. Worth mentioning is a well-written scorching hot kissing scene under the night desert sky that really made my cheeks burn. Um, I might have felt my ovaries squirm, too.

On the cute side, Queen Kora has this alien pet who I imagined to be a cross between The Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro and Lion from Steven Universe! With just a swish of tail, this thing practically steals any scene it’s in. I just want to reach out through the pages and pat its red fur.

BtR accomplished an astonishing feat in setting up a book with a unique place and premise. It's an entertaining book but the problem for me lies in the rushed ending. In my opinion, the book merits several more pages to give depth to some supporting characters and for it to fully wrap up what it has set up. Also, the supposed powerful villain never quite brings the menace that it should. Maybe, because this particular villain only got bits and pieces on the first 80% of the book and gets to be really horrible and menacing only on the last few pages. For me, the villain and the entire book ended up feeling like a set-up for a larger storyline. There should be a sequel, perhaps? The last time I checked, this one is a standalone so, yeah, the ending was rushed for me. There are lots to like in BtR but I did not fall head over heels in love with this book.

My Rating:

Friday, February 12, 2016

Guest Post + Excerpt + Giveaway: The Hometown Hazard by Dawn Lanuza


If you're searching for a romance title to feel snug with this love month, check out The Hometown Hazard by Dawn Lanuza. In this post, Dawn will grace this humble blog to share five books that inspired and helped her in writing The Hometown Hazard. There's also an extract and a chance for you to win one of the 3 e-books of this title, open INT. It's raining bookish goodies over here, fellow book wanderers! Thanks to Bookish Diaries for organizing this event.

Five Books That Made My 2015 Awesome

by Dawn Lanuza

I started writing The Hometown Hazard in 2015 and during that year, I was also majorly bingeing on books. I’ve read a total of 65 titles that year, and in my acknowledgments, I thanked the authors of the books I’ve read that year for making me step outside of my comfort zone. That for me has always been writing in a very rom-com-ish way, with a witty protagonist and a series of unfortunate events that would lead her to her resolution.

When I was writing The Hometown Hazard, I felt like I’ve changed my gears (although not entirely!) by experimenting with mystery and suspense. Honestly, I felt like that tone was set because I was reading all of these awesome books! Not only did they keep me entertained last year but they also helped me write my own book:
  1. Dwellers by Eliza Victoria
    Dwellers is the first book I’ve read from Filipino author Eliza Victoria but it definitely won’t be my last. It is mysterious and at times creepy enough that it made me want to close the book the way I wanted to mute the TV every time the scary part of a scary movie is showing, but it is too engrossing to do that so I basically had to grow a spine and sucked it up. The scare was worth it.
  2. Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Taryn Fisher
    Not exactly my first CoHo book (but the first one I really liked) and my first Taryn Fisher, Never Never is one of those thrilling books that is cut into three parts. Despite the recent reviews that the sequels are disappointing (the second book was a bit of a letdown and I’m just about to read the third one), the first book is fast-paced that it’d only leave you: a) frustrated; b) excited; c) majorly confused or; d) all of the above.
  3. The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
    Another series in this list is Maggie Hall’s The Conspiracy of Us. The book has secret societies and private jets and motorcycle chases and multiple destinations (Paris! Sofia!) and a love triangle. Most people might consider that as a red flag but love triangles are awesome if it has two promising suitors. And while the first book is leaning towards #TeamJack, I’m pretty sure Book 2 would pack up on #TeamStellan moments. The second book of its series, Map of Fates will be out this year.
  4. The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick
    This is probably the only book in this list without any mystery (well, lie, there’s a teeny bit but it’s not the scary kind) or high speed chase scenes or attempted murder, but man, does this book sneak up on you or what. First of all, if you haven’t read My Life Next Door (like me) then you might be overwhelmed with the amount of people introduced to you in this book. For a time, I felt like I was an outsider as these people knew each other long before I showed up but there was something about the protagonist Tim Mason that would make you want to keep flipping the pages. And I’m glad I did because Tim is one of my favorite fictional characters ever.
  5. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
    Another YA-mystery read, The Naturals is about a group of talented kids who have some special skills: main character Cass is a natural at reading people, Michael is very good at reading emotions Dean is the best at profiling, Lia is an expert at lying, and Sloane is the person to go to when it comes to numbers and patterns. Together, they are under the care of the FBI and they sometimes help out with solving cold cases. I just found this one refreshing for a YA read and I usually recommend it to my friends who like shows like CSI and Criminal Minds.
So that’s it! The five books I’ve read last year that helped me with writing The Hometown Hazard and made my 2015 awesome. I consider these books as part of my ‘research’ too as they helped me with the tone of the book. J

About The Hometown Hazard

Synopsis: 
Jules Coronado has been away from her hometown for almost a decade but when an intruder breaks in to her childhood home, she finds herself coming back. Changes evidently took place in her small town, including her childhood best friend’s younger brother, Kip – now tall, slightly scruffed, all grown up and caught climbing into their garden wall.

Kip Villamor has a mission and despite Jules’ doubts, they team up: going on fieldtrips, tackling unsuspecting men, and trespassing offices to dig up dirt. But Jules has secrets of her own, one that might be exposed – unless she keeps her walls up. But climbing walls are Kip’s forte, remember?

Will her secrets keep her on his side, or will it force her to disappear again? (Add The Hometown Hazard to your Goodreads TBR here)
Genre: New Adult, Romance
Release date: January 29, 2016
Purchase links: Amazon | Buqo


About the Author

Dawn Lanuza started writing stories when she was just a kid (they weren’t good or even finished). She works for the music industry by day and writes meet cutes and snappy comebacks by night. ‘The Boyfriend Backtrack’ is her first book. She currently lives with her family and an adopted dog.

Find Dawn on: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Excerpt


I sat next to him but kept a good distance between us. He studied me for a minute then sighed, “We’re on the same team, you know.”
I gave him a confused look.
“We’re after the same thing. So stop treating me like the enemy.”
A grimace formed on my face, “We are so not after the same thing.”
As if interrupting my thoughts, Kip interjected, “I’m rooting for your dad too. You’re protecting him. That’s why you found yourself looking for Elise Cabrera.” He paused for a minute before saying, “I’ve got a head start so you’re going to keep bumping next to me if you push through.”
I blinked, taking in what he said. He was right. He’s got a good head start. Whatever I find, he probably already knew.
“You know what they say, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’?” Kip gave me a side glance.
Still not sure of what direction to take, I cupped my face and leaned my elbow on my lap. A part of me wants to say no right away because what he’s doing is bound to get him in trouble. But I was also getting curious. I wanted to know what this was about. Maybe my dad didn’t know about the whole thing. Maybe he ought to know.
I wrinkled my nose, “Fine.”
He paused for a minute then let out a laugh, “Wow. Did I just win my first argument?” I didn’t say anything back and just kept my face straight. “Do you know what this means?”
“It means less rash actions from you, more sensible ones from me,” I bit back. “And if we’re gonna do something wrong, we might as well do it right.”
Kip let out a snicker, eyes flicking back to me. “That’s…” He shook his head, smiling to himself.
“Less running too, I’m hoping,” I added.
He cleared his throat, “Just…one rule.”
“There are rules?” My voice hitched an octave higher.
“One,” He emphasized, like I haven’t been listening to him all along. “And you’re the one who’s all about the rules and the law and the plan. I thought you’d be psyched about this.”
Exasperated, I nodded, waving my hand as if saying, fine.
Kip shifted and caught my eye, lips tight, jaw clenching. “Don’t do anything behind my back. I’m going to have to trust you, okay? Maybe you should do the same for me too.”


Giveaway

Win one of 3 ebooks of The Hometown Hazard, open internationally. Enter below:

***Good luck!***

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