A YA GHOST STORY: Review

 

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The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe:

This is a ghost story with historical elements and the required romantic angle for teens. Wes, an NYU summer session student and aspiring film maker happens to meet Annie at a séance where a friend is shooting a piece. She’s alluring and other-worldly and while the reader knows right away Annie is long dead, Wes is clueless. That’s okay. Wes is confused enough being in the city, trying to survive, and fulfill his own dreams finally away from his father’s prying eyes. Eventually, Wes is drawn into helping Annie figure out why she is so out of place and out of sync in the real world.

The novel alternates between the present and Annie’s 1825 reality. The two different New York cities stand side by side as Wes and Annie try to determine what happened and why Annie is caught in between. The author masterfully manages the timeline and the flow of the mystery. Annie is not presented as the typical ghost since she has physical existence, but like most ghosts not everyone can see her. There are some funny scenes as Wes and Annie move about a modern city. Adding to the enjoyment of the book are several secondary characters who are interesting and well-developed. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, the author pulls off a surprise ending. All and all, a good book and if you don’t watch out, you might just learn a little history along the way!

 

https://amzn.to/30oq1NL

ADVENTURE IN 19th CENTURY CHINA

Interview with Madeleine McLaughlin

 Beggar Charlie

I recently finished Madeleine McLaughlin’s middle-grade adventure novel called Beggar

Charlie. Set in China when the opium trade flourished, it follows the journey of young

Charlie when he and a companion are stranded alone after a rebellion. Told from

Charlie’s point of view, we experience the horror and fear of trying to survive and get

back home. Madeleine McLaughlin also writes for adults, but today she joins me to talk

about writing for the younger set.

Welcome Madeleine!

M McLaughlin head shot 2014

I’m always interested in how a story comes to an author. Was it this period in history, or the character of Charlie that first came to mind?

Well, I’m very interested in the 19th century. I’ve read a lot about that age in China plus Victorian England. There was a lot of interesting stuff going on back then. In China, the opium wars, the opening of China to foreigners and of course Cixi, the Empress. So, wanting to write a boy’s adventure story (girls like it, too) I decided on that era. Then I had to think of my main character. Well, what’s more Victorian than the character of the orphan? Nothing! Voila, Beggar Charlie was born.

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Every part of your novel feels authentic. What kind of research was necessary to get the details right so that the reader felt this?

Like stated above, I have been reading history books about this era for many years. History is fascinating. But I also looked for diagrams on the internet about the shape of cities in China at that time. You can always find something on the internet. Also, Victorian England is a favorite study of mine mostly because it’s where a lot of today’s sciences began. Botany, Geology, Paleontology were all begun in England in the Victorian era. And the study of London is so interesting and of course, a bit sad because of all the poor and disadvantaged people who had no way out. But really, anyone or anything you can learn from is good.

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Did you read adventure tales when you were growing up? Did any of them resurface as you worked on Beggar Charlie?

Never. I read mysteries and horse stories. Nancy Drew and Donna Parker. I was a big fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie which is kind of adventurous but it’s a real history. No Kipling or anything even remotely adventure.

How did writing a middle-grade novel affect the way you handled writing about drugs and violence?

Well, I tend to believe that the young kids nowadays are exposed to drugs and violence very early. There are all sorts of violent cartoons to wean them on and tv shows tend to be nothing but guns, guns, guns. The term glorifying violence comes to mind. And then in the hip-hop music scene you have all sorts of overdoses and pill popping. So, although it may be fair to criticize any writer for putting it in (and I have been) I tried to ‘tell it like it is’. That is, opium destroyed China and violence was the result. The Boxer Rebellion comes to mind. That’s my idea here, to tell the truth through fiction.

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Do you tend to use outlines for your writing projects or do they grow more organically?

I didn’t use an outline for Beggar Charlie. I just wrote until I ran out of steam and then I thought about what I would write the next day before I went to sleep.

What aspect of writing brings you the most joy and what do you find most challenging?

Just the rush of writing it down is good. I mean, your story is usually not great then but the rush of ideas and the writing them down feel good. It feels uplifting. The challenge is to get everything straight all your seasons exactly right (instead of starting a scene in winter and ending in summer) and all the rewriting cohesive.

What are you currently working on?

Another middle-grade book entitled, The Last Words of Edward Broome. I’ve almost finished the first draft.

For more information on Madeleine McLaughlin’s book, check out the following links:

Amazon link: goo.gl/cp9NTS

MuseItUp link: goo.gl/QrvMBB

EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN by Lindsey Lane

evidence

Tommy Smythe is a geeky teen who’s gone missing from a small town in Texas. We learn about him through bits of his diary (he loves quantum theory) and police interviews of the townsfolk who know him. Tommy is socially awkward, a loner. What happened to Tommy? Did he run away seeking the truth about his birth parents? Did something bad happen in the turn around? And what about his almost compulsive fascination with the possibility of alternative universes? Did he slip into another dimension? All we know is, as the entire town searches, all these possibilities are equally valid.

We never meet Tommy but we do meet some fascinating interconnected characters who dance near him. Some of their tales are sweet. Some are harsh and horrifying. The book contains mature themes including child labor abuses, violence, rape, and child prostitution.

The last place Tommy is seen is used to anchor the story and becomes almost a character in and of itself. The construction of this novel is fascinating and worth a read for that alone. This is a memorable book. The ending is somewhat open ended but satisfying at the same time. Certainly, the book that will stay with you after you close its cover.

Amazon link: goo.gl/nOo8Cm

FREE: Into the Land of Snows

This is the only time I will be doing this promotion. Get your FREE Kindle copy from Amazon (now through Dec. 10th). Snuggle up by the fire and join Blake as he treks in the Himalayas. Happy holidays to everyone! (We have a house in Brussels and we’re moving in Jan. I’ll join you from Belgium in the new year.)

GRAB YOUR FREE COPY HERE:   https://goo.gl/O6Bvxq

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NOW IN PRINT! Elephants Never Forgotten

 

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Just in time for the holidays.

Order through Amazon: goo.gl/EKcVDB

What’s it about?      Jurassic Park meets Micro 😉

A hundred years in the future, twelve-year-old Nigella receives a shipment from her deceased grandfather. Her inheritance is a herd of micro-elephants. While a lot of her friends have micro-pets, Nigella is at a loss on how to care for them. Why are her micro-pets so different from everyone else’s? What was her grandfather up to? With the help of her best friend, Kepler, the girls set off on an adventure to discover the truth.

Also available as an ebook.

Excavating Pema Ozer by Yudron Yangmo

 

Pema

As you all probably know, I have a deep interest in Buddhism and recently came across this book. It is a wonderful story of a teenager coming into contact with Tibetan Buddhism for the first time.

Here’s the blurb:

Weslyn Redinger wants one thing: to be normal again. Racked by panic attacks that have ruined her life and driven off her friends in the months since she saw the body of a young boy she loved rolled out to a waiting ambulance, she is now drawn into a circle of seekers who surround a mysterious stranger living in her grandmother’s backyard shed. After reluctantly attending his teachings, a series of dreams is unleashed—as vivid as her waking life. At night she is an attendant to the female teacher Uza Khandro from the Tibetan countryside, during the day she is a flawed sixteen-year-old struggling to get control over her body and her life. Why does she care so much about this man’s story of a long-lost set of Tibetan books hoarded by a greedy collector?

Amazon link: http://goo.gl/TFX8sy

 

BORN OF ILLUSION by Teri Brown

 

Born

This is an engaging story of teen Anna Van Housen’s life as a stage magician during the 1920s. When Anna and her mother relocate to New York City, their lives become more stable with sold-out shows. Unfortunately, Anna’s relationship with her mother is strained and when she insists that they continue to do séances on the side, Anna becomes worried. Although the séances are totally fabricated, Anna has real psychic ability she has yet to come to terms with. Continuing with the séances also puts them under the scrutiny of the police and debunkers (not the least of which is Harry Houdini who happens to be in New York as well). As success with the magic show and the séances grow, Anna gets mixed up with paranormal researchers, a high society bachelor, and a kidnapping plot. It’s a fast moving book with lots of well-researched facts about New York and the 1920s. And Harry Houdini might just be Anna’s father.

BOOK GIVE-AWAY CONTEST:

June 9, 2016  CONTEST CLOSED:

The winners are TA Sullivan and wildteadrinker. I’ve sent messages to you both. Congratulations!!

elephants never forgotten 2

It’s contest time! Leave a comment below and be entered to win a copy of the electronic version of Elephants Never Forgotten. Contest closes at noon (EST) on Tuesday (June 7th). Two books will be awarded on Thursday, June 9th. As a theme, name a sci-fi book (or author) you like.