Monday, December 5, 2016

Going big in 2017

Just updating the blog with a quick update on what I'm working on right now. I posted this over on my facebook page, but figured I should update the blog too.

I had fully intended to have my comic, Urban Myth Investigators, finished by October, but of course things didn't go as plan. I've since pushed back the release date to February of 2017.

After that, in April I plan on releasing the first book in my YA superhero series, Freshman Sidekick. This is book 1 in a four book series. Hopefully I can get them all edited in time and I plan on releasing each book one month apart. If you like shows like The Flash or that "can't catch a break" type character like Peter Parker, I think you'll enjoy Freshman Sidekick.

Then, in Q3 of 2017, I will be releasing book 1 in my YA urban fantasy series, Silverbane, of the Blackgate Trilogy. More on that later next year. Basically, if you like werewolves and vampires, and are fans of shows like Teen Wolf or Vampire Diaries, I think you'll like it.

I'm not looking at 2017 as a make it or break it year, but I'm definitely pushing harder next year with my output and trying to really hit the market hard with my publishing schedule. As such, I don't plan on tabling any conventions. 2017 is all about production. Go big or go home.

Alright, that's it for now.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Book Report: Jamie Baker Trilogy

I just finished "Remember Jamie Baker", which is the third book and final book in the Jamie Baker trilogy by Kelly Oram, and I loved it. I'm just gonna do a quick review and try not to get to spoilery, but I will cover things that are probably spoilers, so heads up. But yeah, I really, really enjoyed this series.

First up was Being Jamie Baker (BJB). Jamie Baker is not your normal super-powered protagonist. It the first thing I liked about her; she has green hair (which she dyes black) and yellow eyes, which she masquerades as green with the help of blue contacts. It's a little thing, but it's something I love about her as a character, because as many times as I've thought up a character of mine, who somehow gets super powers, I never really think of changing them physically. So that was cool.

BJB finds our hero coming to grips with how she got her super powers and a stalkerish reporter who pops back up in her life when she saves someone. Oh, then there's the boy. As I've blogged about in the past, I don't mind a little romance. In a lot of my books, there is some kind of romance/relationship plot point there because and much as some guys want to disagree, most great stories have some kind of love interest in there (i.e. Peter Park and Mary Jane. Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Heck, even Batman has the Catwoman attraction thing going on). I just don't like it to be the MAIN plot. It seems to happen a lot of female-leads in urban fantasy (even though this is superhero). But Ryan Miller, the love interest in this book, isn't someone I have to "put up with", as the story between he and Jamie is compelling, especially for her reasons for not wanting to get close to him. I felt like I did see the surprise antagonist coming. It wasn't blatant, but when it was revealed, I wasn't totally caught off-guard.

But by the final battle against Mr. E, I was severely invested in Jamie and really enjoyed how she finally came to grips with her power, learning to control it better, and even if it had taken a darker turn, I was totally Team Jamie, no matter what she decided.

Next up was More Than Jamie Baker (MTJB), which I'm going to intermingle with book 3, Remember Jamie Baker, since book 2 ends in a cliffhanger. In MTJB, we escalate it, with Jamie and Ryan now in college, fully in love. After Jamie doesn't stop an accident, the guilt starts to make her go a little crazy, until she decides to start going out and helping people, thanks to Ryan's encouragement. MTJB also introduces us to Teddy, who from the moment Oram introduces him, just irks me the wrong way. I'm a loyal guy, (when I read the Twilight books, you can believe I was Team Edward. I was also Team Gale when I read the Hunger Games, though I think I'm in the minority with that one) so when Teddy just keeps insisting on Jamie to go out with him, despite the fact that she's in love with Ryan, I'm talking to myself while I'm reading the book like "Hey, dude, back off!" I loved it when Ryan was finally able to deliver a good punch to him, for enjoying the kiss with Jamie so much after she had to transfer some of her power to him.

I wasn't sure where MTJB was going to go, as I started getting closer to the end. Oram has set up Visitcorp since book 1, and now these people were after Jamie. I thought Mr. E was going to be revealed as the mastermind possibly, since they visited him in prison earlier in the book. But when the final reveal came, (SPOILER) even though he annoyed the hell out of me, I really didn't see the Teddy turn coming. When he popped up behind the glass window, I was like "Oh, you sonuvabitch." It had me tearing through the pages to the end, and when I finally got to the cliffhanger, I lost it, internally screaming at Teddy.

So, now we get to Remember Jamie Baker (RJB), and I have to say I wasn't sure how I was gonna like it. Mainly because Teddy, that weasle, conniving, little jerkwad was lying through his teeth, and I didn't know how long that was going to go on. Luckily RJB starts up six months after the events of MTJB, and things are rough for our girl Jamie. She has no idea who she is, it's it's driving her insane.

She finally leaves "The Lair" and that's when everything hits the fan. Visitcorp, or at least the guy behind it, is still chasing after her. But there are the ACEs, which are a government run team with a coupe enhanced individuals, who are trying to take down Visitcorp. While I enjoyed the addition of this team and side story, I did find it a little odd that they hadn't been brought up before. I can see maybe not hinting at them in Jamie #1, but in book 2 Jamie becomes Chelsea's Angel, so I would think the ACEs would've at least shown up once during one of her saves, trying to find out who she was. I don't know, it's kind of a nitpick, but just something that crossed my mind.

One thing that I loved was keeping the suspense on whether Jamie and Ryan would still be together. In book 2 it seemed like a happily every after, but when book 2 ends and into book 3, it's all up in the air. And even though through RJB it sure looks like it's inevitable for them to get back together, there is always that little hint of doubt, since, as Jamie says, "she's not that girl anymore". It kept it lively.

I won't spoil how book 3 ends, but I really enjoyed it. Again, I didn't see the twist Oram gave in the final battle. Plus, at the very end I was resigned to the fact that parts of Jamie's memory would forever stay gone, but I still felt okay about it. Then Oram puts a nice little bow on the ending.

I'm a big urban fantasy fan, and while that's mostly reserved for vampires and werewolves, and the like, I do consider superhero stories a form of urban fantasy. Sure, it's categorized more under science fiction, which I can't argue against, but I think it's also UF. Either way, this is a great series. With this series, and "Cinder & Ella" (yes I know I said I don't like the love interest to be the main plot point, but that's for actiony kind of books. Cinder and Ella isn't that, it's YA contemporary, which I've discovered I'm also a big fan of), I've become a big fan of Kelly Oram and I'll be digging into her Supernaturals series next.

Definitely check out the Jamie Baker series.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Report: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard (The Sword of Summer)

When I discovered Rick Riordan, I was looking for something with a little more action in YA, and came across the Percy Jackson series. Now, that series is Middle Grade and not YA, but I enjoyed it for the most part. And Riordan's take on the gods was done in a humorous way I hadn't seen before.

The humorous take did kind of hit a tipping point for me though, and after reading the Percy Jackson series I haven't picked up a Riordan series since. But when I saw the first in a new series from Riordan out, with a sixteen year old protagonist, I decided to pick it up. Reading the back matter, it intrigued me;

Here it is from the Amazon page:
Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he barely knows—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. Uncle Randolph tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

I was hoping for a more YA take on the characters, rather than the MG vibe I got from Percy Jackson, and for the most part I feel like that's what I got. The titular character, Magnus Chase, is a little cocky and has just enough of a hard edge to him, that it's likable.


Riordan's take on describing the gods is similar to the Percy Jackson series, though not as flamboyant. I enjoyed Magnus journey, and was actually surprised by how fast he "died" in the story. I was expecting him to die, given the blurb lines, but not as fast as he did.

Sam's character arch through-out the entire story was one of the most interesting to me. I liked the fact she's a Valkyrie who is also a Muslim, which was a take I'd never thought of before. And while I liked the Blitz character, as a fashion designing dwarf, my favorite Magnus sidekick was probably Hearth; a deaf elf who practiced magic. I've studied a little bit of ASL, so I found it really cool how Riordan gave Hearth a "voice", and described some of the hand gestures Hearth would sign.

Loki doesn't have a huge role in this book, but the little "screen time" he gets, I thoroughly enjoyed. Where as most of the other gods came off a little childish, Loki came off to me as an actual threat. When Loki tells the story of how and why he killed the god Baldur, and the punishment he received from the gods, he comes off as a truly dangerous god, that is not to be messed with. And one of my favorite lines from him, "The gods don't pretend to deal in good and evil... Might makes right." In each of Loki's scenes, especially the epilogue when he confronts Magnus' uncle Randolph, you really get the sense of how evil and conniving he can be.

The book jumped the shark for me though,  just about 2/3 of the way through, when Magnus' sword began to talk and fly all on it's own, and became known as Jack. Up until then I was fine with Riordan's style of storytelling, with the funny way gods dress or act, but I kind of rolled my eyes at the sword becoming not just a character, but a full-fledged team member with an actual voice.

For the most part I enjoyed the first book in the Magnus Chase series, and the second book, "The Hammer of Thor" became available. I want to pick up the second book, but I'm a little torn, afraid it might tack on more silliness. But the book ended giving each of the characters, especially Sam and Hearth, more opportunities for growth, and I'm curious to see where their storylines lead. I might pick it up at the start of the year, as I do still have a large TBR list.

That's it for now.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Looking for genre YA

I'm on the hunt for books in the genre of urban fantasy, science fiction, and fantasy that are YA.

It's been a little bit of a struggle, as the more I look the more I find that a lot of them heavily rely on the romance plot for the book. I'm not against romance. I actually find it to be a very interesting and fun part of the story. Lots of great stories, classic stories, have a love/romance angle plot to them. But they're aren't reliant on them. It seems so many YA books are, at least that I've found.

So far, I've come up with a list of book that I plan on checking out:

The Maze Runner series
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series
The Novice: Summoner Book 1
The Red Harlequin: Book 1

I'm sure there are many others, but those are what I've got so far. I may add a page to my blog of these types of books, so anyone looking for something similar can have a list here.

Right now I'm reading Dark City (The Order of Shadows Book 1). It's urban fantasy, but it's not YA, which isn't that big of a deal. I'm enjoying it so far.

That's it for now. I'll probably post quick reviews on how I enjoyed the books, as I complete them. If you know of any others books and/or series, please feel free to comment about them below.