Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Gears of Brass

Gear up for GEARS OF BRASS! 


A world like ours, but filled with gears of brass, where the beating heart is fueled by steam and the simplest creation is a complex clockwork device.  

Within this tome, you’ll find steampunk fairy tale re-tellings, as well as original stories that will send your gears turning.  

Welcome to the steampunk realm, with eleven authors guiding your path. 

GEARS OF BRASS is a steampunk anthology published through Curiosity Quills.  It will be available for purchase on November 10, 2014.  Within the pages, you’ll come across clockwork inventions and steampunk-ified fairy tale retellings.  Eleven authors will guide you through worlds filled with airships, top hats, and corsets. 

Meet the authors:
Jordan Elizabeth writes young adult fantasy for Curiosity Quills, including ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW which was published in October and the upcoming TREASURE DARKLY; she’s represented by the Belcastro Agency.

J. Million is the author of Last of the Giants and can always be found reading or writing.

Lorna MacDonald Czarnota is a professional storyteller and author of several books including, Medieval Tales That Kids Can Read and Tell, Breadline Blue, Legends Lore and Secrets of Western New York, Wicked Niagara, Native American and Pioneer Sites of Upstate New York, and Dancing at the Crossroads: Stories and Activities for At-Risk Youth Programming.

SA Larsen is represented by Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary and is the author of published short stories, community-interest stories, and magazine articles focused on children. 

Grant Eagar is an Engineer who would take the tales he told his children at bed time, and transform them into fantasy stories. 

Clare Weze is the author of The House of Ash (forthcoming) and the co-author and editor of Cloudscapes over the Lune.

Eliza Tilton: gamer, writer and lover of dark chocolate; author of the YA Fantasy, BROKEN FOREST, published by Curiosity Quills Press.

Heather Talty's stories have been featured in Enchanted Conversation, as well as her own fractured fairy tale site, Mythopoetical (www.Beatrixcottonpants.com).

W.K. Pomeroy is a third generation writer who has published more than 70 short stories/articles/poems across many genres and styles, which now includes Steampunk.

Christine Baker is the author of Lana's End, The Guild of Dagda, and many more. 

Natalia Darcy: a bookilicious reader, tea drinker and Zumba aficionado who enjoys playing cards against humanity and washing her hair with ice cold water. 


You can get your steampunk fix before GEARS OF BRASS is released in November.  To enter for your chance to win a copy of GEARS OF BRASS, you will need to share the cover.  This can be on your blog, Facebook, Twitter… Each time you share the cover image, log it into Rafflecoper (#insert link) to record it.  It will give you more chances to win.  The drawing for the winner will be held on October 27th




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Escape from Witchwood Hollow - Cover Reveal

How far into the hollow would you go?
“After losing her parents in a terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria escapes New York City to Arnn—a farming town with more legends than residents, and a history of witchcraft and secrets best left buried. Everyone in Arnn knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope when she should be afraid, and a past of missing children and broken promises. To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness. How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?”
ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW is Jordan Elizabeth’s first novel. This young adult fantasy will be published through Curiosity Quills Press on October 29, 2014. Jordan Elizabeth, formally Jordan Elizabeth Mierek, can’t get enough of the woods, be it splashing through a stream, sitting beneath an ancient oak, or following a path up a hill. Some of those adventures have led to abandoned foundations. Exploring the rocks and crumbling bricks sparked Jordan to imagine who might have lived there before, and that train of thought carried her to a wicked legend and an enchanted hollow. You can contact Jordan via her website, JordanElizabethMierek.com.
You don’t have to wait for October 29th to explore Witchwood Hollow. Jordan Elizabeth is offering up a free eArc. To enter for your chance to win a copy of ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW, you will need to share the cover. This can be on your blog, Facebook, Twitter… Each time you share the cover image, log it into Rafflecoper to record it. It will give you more chances to win. The drawing for the winner will be held on October 20th. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

BOSTON JACKY

This is Book 11. Click here for the Bradt Cousins' review of Book One.

Stephanie Bradt: It’s that time of year again. Another chapter of Jacky Faber’s adventures has been released and it is time for yours truly to lambast, um, I mean, review it. I realize that my reviews are more like diatribes, so I will try to be a little nicer this time around.
I’ll start by just getting it out of the way. As always, there is no point to this book and nothing happens. With that being said, I’ll just list random moments that made me say, as Jacky does, “hmmmm."
I still love the ever-present historical references. Sure, at times they are random and far-fetched, but these books are really what got me into historical fiction again. As long as you mentally prepare yourself for randomness and do not take it too seriously, then it’s all good. 
    • I really liked all the talk of the different fire companies and how they competed over being able to put out a fire so they could make money. This also alluded to the history of insurance, which today is still called “fire” insurance when referring to the protection of buildings and property. As someone who briefly worked rating commercial insurance policies, I enjoyed and appreciated the reference.
    • Two people were caught having sex outside. (Of course. This is a children's book, after all). In Othello, Shakespeare writes a euphemism for having sex, calling it “making the beast with two backs.”
    • People sing La Bamba. I loved seeing the lyrics all written out. I never knew that it was actually a folk song before it was adapted into the 1950s song that most people know. I looked it up and it has maritime origins. Cool beans. I am really interested in the history of this song now.
I love that Jacky basically acknowledges that she is not that hot and sexy and irresistible after all. She mentions that as soon as he saw Clarissa Worthington Howe, Flaco Jimenez (yes, he is back) forgot about Jacky. Likewise, Randall dumped Jacky for Polly Von while Richard Allen likes this chick named Sidrah better than Jacky. Just as I’ve always said—Jacky is only a bombshell when she has no competition. On the other hand, I do enjoy the story of Amy and Ezra and I would like to see more of them. I think it is because Amy and Ezra have more of a gradual and (extremely) slow-burning romance that is a little more pure and sincere, a little less neurotic.

Also, I love the Easter eggs I discover in these books. They make me feel smart. This time, I noticed that the Mrs. Shinn in the book seems an awful lot like the Mrs. Shinn in The Music Man. Hmmmm.

This book's featured side in Jacky’s love dodecagon: There wasn't really anyone new, per se. A lot of the old lovers kind of came and went
My favorite new character:
 No one? I guess there were a few new characters, but no one was really important. So I'll say YAY, LIAM DELANEY CAME BACK! I love the Irish people. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

FLASH FIRE

Jordan Bradt: I discovered another great find from the library’s used bookroom: FLASH FIRE by Caroline B. Cooney.  I liked the look of it because I usually enjoy her books, but the cover also hooked me.  Fire licks at the sidelines while a boy and girl run down the center of a road.  The curly-haired boy has his backpack and his camera.  The girl carries a shirt, a school binder, a kitten, and a trophy. 

As soon as I started reading this book, I knew I would have to share it with you.  California is the setting; the book’s copyright is 1995, so I assume it takes place then.  They mention email, and I don’t remember having email back then, but I was seven, so I liked dolls more than sending electronic mail. 

Danna is young girl living in a ritzy neighborhood.  Parts of Los Angeles, a different area than hers, are on fire.  Danna is safe, but she wants excitement, so she wishes for the fire.  She wants to ride her cats out to safety.  Yes, I think that’s what the confusing paragraph stated.  Then, there’s her brother, Hall, who is out swimming even though the ashes in the air make it hard to breathe.  I bet that’s good for his lungs.  Their parents are screenwriters, but Hall wants to help mentally/psychologically damaged children.  He’s afraid that career won’t be appropriate.  Right now he’s helping the neighbors’ four-year-old “son,” a little boy adopted from overseas.  He doesn’t react to things well, so his new family dislikes him.  They also have issues with the nanny, who ignores him to run off with the family money and cars.  They also have a maid who sold herself to get to America and smokes a lot.  Continuing through the neighborhood, we meet Beau and his little sister, Elisabeth.  Her mother is horrified by everything about her and constantly makes fun of her.  Beau is pretty unmemorable, apart from craving attention from his dad.  Oh, and then there is the son who’s ashes are kept in a box on the mantle (I think.  They’re somewhere in the house haunting the living half-brother).  We also meet (as if we don’t have enough characters to keep track of) a disgruntled guard who leaves his post without caring if the gate opens, the fire itself, and tourists who want to watch the “big” houses burn.  I actually enjoyed getting into the fire’s “mind” because it was a different perspective than in most stories.

Spoiler alert: Although it was a little slow in coming – most of the story is set up for when Danna’s neighborhood burns – eventually the fire does reach them.  The maid, Elony, grabs the “damaged” little boy.  Beau and Elisabeth escape in a car.  Danna saves the horses, but breaks her leg, so Hall carries her and her box of kittens.  Beau and Elisabeth appear in their car, so Danna and Hall get in, along with Elony and little Geoffrey – and the kittens, of course, who get loose and scatter around the car.  Beau realizes he can’t leave his brother’s ashes behind, so he flees from the car to go back into the mansion.  Hall is forced to drive away to save everyone else, even though Elisabeth panics.  Eventually, Elisabeth recovers enough that she and Elony pray for Beau, and she wants one of the kittens.  The author expertly describes Beau’s thought process as he dies of smoke inhalation.  She also describes how his house melts around him.  Yeah, he doesn’t make it.  Beau had been my favorite of the characters because he’d seemed the realest. 

We’re now at the end of the book.  The tourists stealing from everyone are caught by the police.  The fire has more or less moved on.  I had difficulty picturing the scene where Hall drives to meet the people.  Where was the fire?  What did the surroundings look like?  Beau’s parents are there; his dad hitched a ride with a trucker and his mom ran.  Realizing Beau is gone, the mom breaks down in hysterics and has to be tranquilized.  The dad tells Elisabeth he loves her, decides to take in Elony so she can be Elisabeth’s friend, and buys everyone ice cream from the ice cream truck.  Yes, there is an ice cream truck here at this site of fire (or whatever this setting is) and yes, the dad realizes his son is dead so he buys them ice cream to eat. 

Some aspects of this book reminded me of a Judy Blume novel, but I rate it a lot higher than anything I’ve read by her.  FLASH FIRE involved character development (gasp) and vivid descriptions of fires in California.  I couldn’t decide what rating to give it on GoodReads, since parts were good and parts were outrageous.  At first I debated on three stars, due to the mixed feelings, but it did keep me reading past midnight since I needed to know what happened next.  Then, I though four stars, but the story had stuck with me.  It made me look around my house and think about people who lose everything in flash fires.  Their houses didn’t just burn.  They melted.  It wasn’t just the house, either.  It was the yard, the outbuildings, the tennis courts… Okay, I don’t have tennis courts.  Still, personal possessions don’t mean anything if you lose your life, so I began cleaning out things I don’t want anymore.  I ended up granting the novel five stars because it has, in a way, changed my life.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Radio Rebel


Jordan Bradt: Picture me, eating lunch.  I sit down in the living room to watch television while I snack on macaroni and cheese.  I feel like nonsense, so I turn to Disney where I observe Radio Rebel.  It’s a half-hour in, but as I watch, I make a list of all the ways the shows Tells me things instead of Showing, of how much I loathe the ridiculous, overdramatic characters.  With a movie that outrageous, I give in to the compulsion and inform Stephanie of the outrageousness.  We decided to watch it again, together.

Radio Rebel is a movie aimed at teenagers.  A shy girl, Tara, starts a podcast as Radio Rebel, where she’s able to be herself and inspire others.  Her stepfather owns a radio station, so he gives her some air time.

I’ll start with the ways things are Told and now Shown:
1.       Tara is shy.  Everyone, including her dearest family and friends, throw that fact in her face.  You might say that was Shown when she freaked out in class.  No, that wasn’t being shy.  That was suffering from mutism or anxiety.  In the opinion of someone with a teaching degree (or anyone with common sense), Tara needs serious medical assistance.  She should’ve been seeing a therapist or psychologist.  I’m not a huge fan of medicating people, but she should’ve been doing SOMETHING!
2.       Radio Rebel is sooo inspiring.  Come on, people.  Radio Rebel DOES NOTHING.  She says something like “be yourself” and everyone is uber inspired.   Um, really?  That’s all it takes to inspire someone?  “Be yourself!”  It seemed like no one had ever heard that it was okay to be an individual.  Just by watching television or reading a book, you can see that.  Even adults in the movie were inspired!  It wasn’t just “be yourself.”  You should also stand up for yourself.  Wow.  Thank you, Radio Rebel.  I never knew I shouldn’t let people walk all over me. 
3.       The principal has favorites.  This fact was never shown, apart from her being kind to one student who supported her cause.  Anyone who supported the cause would’ve been treated kindly.
4.       Music is bad at school.  How do we know music is bad?  They say so. 
5.       Radio Rebel goes to Tara’s high school.  They say they know, but never really show it.
6.       Prom is AMAZING.  We must LOVE Prom.  We love it so much that we can turn against Radio Rebel when she makes the principal cancel it.
7.       The principal can expel Radio Rebel.  WHY?  Radio Rebel did her thing outside of school.  It is never properly explained, just meant raise weaknesses. 

How about for some cliché characters?
Tara – shy, awkward, wears a hat when insecure, tugs on her sleeves to hide her hands.  There was nothing else to Tara except for being shy and acting as Radio Rebel.  Couldn’t she have had a hobby too?
Tara’s Mom – flighty, fashion-conscious, self-absorbed, obsessed with prom.  She never made an intelligent statement.  I felt bad for moms everywhere.
Awkward friends – two friends who have no real purpose.  Not a love interest, rather annoying.  I only remember the taller boy was named Larry because that’s my dad’s name.
Best friend – the awesome best friend who supports Tara in everything.  Her name was Audrey Sharma.  I remember that because I went to high school with a girl whose last name was Sharma. 
The guy she likes – no idea what his name was.  It started with a G.  Gavin, maybe?  He was cool at first, but then he turned against Radio Rebel…sort of.  Like, he knew it was Tara because of the dancing sandwich bit (yeah…), but he was still rude to her when she inadvertently caused the principal to cancel prom.
Principal – evil authority figure.  Can’t a movie ever have a cool principal?  I’m not inspired to write a movie where the principal is someone the students can really admire, someone who does good rather than being senselessly cruel/psychotic. 

On a side note, the actress who played Tara is Debby Reynolds.  I decided to watch her in the Disney show, Jessie, in which she is the star.  Wow, was that show bad.  However, I’ll save that rant for another day.

Friday, November 2, 2012

VIVA JACQUELINA! by L. A. Meyer

This is Book Ten. Click here for the Bradt Cousins' review of Book One.

Stephanie Bradt: Well here it is, the next chapter in the saga of Jacky Faber. While reading VIVA JACQUELINA, I decided to pay special attention to try to figure out exactly what pisses me off about the Bloody Jack series, and perhaps more importantly, why the hell I keep reading these books in spite of being pissed off. Alas, here are my findings:


First of all: a summary. (I cannot say “plot” summary because that is precisely what these books lack). Anyway, basically Jacky ends up in Spain as a spy for England as the fight against Napoleon drags on. Napoleon’s brother, Joseph, has been crowned King of Spain and naturally, the locals are pissed. In the meantime, Jacky runs with the bulls, models for Goya (of course), and gets caught up in the Inquisition. She also hangs out with some gypsies.

Things that irk me:

-L.A. Meyer always has Jacky refer to her various body parts in the third person; ie. “the Faber bottom,” “the Faber neck,” “the Faber eyebrows,” etc. I should have kept track of them. I know I counted at least 5 different phrases like this. It is stupid and annoying and it gets old.

-THE STORY NEVER GOES ANYWHERE! STILL! There are like 15 different pointless little novellas in each book, and this one is no different. So many things happen that are never addressed again. When reading, the entire time I am asking myself in the back of my mind if this is the part of the story that is actually going to have a point this time. It never does. Characters come and go and no one is connected to anyone. I realize this is also why I find it difficult to pick up and read the book again after taking a break—I have to refresh my memory as to what is going on in the story, which is difficult to do when there is no story of which to speak.

-Once again, the predictable “plot” point from every book: All human beings with a Y chromosome go bat-shit crazy over Jacky and cannot control their manly urges. I don’t know what annoys me more about this—that I doubt that Jacky is that hot, or that virtually every male character in Meyer’s books is either a horny pig, a dumbass, or both.

-L.A. Meyer never ceases to amaze me with what he can get away with writing in these books. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I enjoy them. However, I will keep this in the “Don’t-Like” category for one reason: Not only is VIVA JACQUELINA, like, the fourth book of the series to mention Jacky’s “maidenhair,” but the Faber Maidenhair actually plays a fairly significant role in one of the storylines! Ew! Mr. Meyer, I do not care to know about Jacky’s maidenhair! WTF?!

Here is why I think I still read these books in spite of all the bullshit: 

-Like I stated before, the books contain these non-YA themes that I enjoy, but then I hypocritically complain about. (But no, the maidenhair-- I have never enjoyed that).

-I just really like all of the historical references. I also realize that this is the reason there is no plot—Meyer arbitrarily places Jacky in various non-related situations just so that she can meet famous people such as Goya and King Joseph Bonaparte. The history major in me rejoices at this. I really do learn from these books and some things even stir my interest and I go look online to learn more. POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT: Let’s just say that Goya’s real life distinction of being the first artist to depict pubic hair in a Western portrait is not a coincidence. You’ve been warned.

This book's featured side in Jacky’s love dodecagon: Amadeo, a Spanish kid and fellow student of Goya.
My favorite new character: Ugh, do I have to choose? What if I hate/am indifferent toward them all? Alas, I will have to go with Cesar. In typical L. A. Meyer fashion, Cesar is a young adolescent who beside himself with his hormonally-charged pining for Jacky Faber. He passes out when he gets a glimpse of our heroine in the buff.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

JUST AS LONG AS WE'RE TOGETHER


Jordan Bradt: Yeah, yeah – you know how we are with Judy Blume books.  This one, by far, is my least favorite.  The others I could read again, if only to poke fun at them.  I could barely stomach this particular novel.  It wasn’t disgusting, if that’s what you’re thinking.  I was nauseated.  Instead, I was overcome by a sudden case of ADD during chapter one.  It lasted through the entire 296 pages.  I had to literally force myself to keep reading.  My mind wandered to hundreds of different things, some as mundane as my leg itching.  Every few chapters, I had to walk around just to help concentrate.  Why did I even need to concentrate, though?  NOTHING HAPPENED.  The book was a waste of time; too much time, since it took me a few hours.  I could have read it faster if I could focus better.  I understand people now when they tell me they hate reading.  If this was assigned to me at an early age, I would hate reading too.   

So, the book is called JUST AS LONG AS WE’RE TOGETHER.  I had hoped for some potential.  The reviews on the back cover raved about it, and if nothing else, I looked forward to WTF moments and dated references.  The book was written in 1987, the year before I was born.  The most dated thing was that the main character, Stephanie, had a poster of young Richard Gere on her ceiling (maybe so she could masturbate before bed.  Yes, that was hinted at). 

There are three main characters.  I will call them Girl A, B, and C because they are EXACTLY ALIKE.  Judy Blume, once again, missed great opportunities to embellish her characters:  Girl A has to deal with her parents’ separation, Girl B is embarrassed by her high intelligence, Girl C is adopted.  Great areas for development, right?  Well, too bad.  They are glossed over, leaving the characters empty and alike.  Within the first chapter, I hated them.  In the entire book, I couldn’t find a single character I didn’t loathe.  Yes, loathe.  The emotion was that strong.

I’m not too sure what the book is about, because there are all these little areas, but Judy Blume brushes right past them.  Events either happen within a few sentences or we are told about them happening in the past.  As soon as we start to get involved in something, everything changes, and we have to get involved in something else, only to have that ripped away too.  Talk about frustrating.  Those girls are friends, then they aren’t, and go through some stuff, the end.  Honestly, I skimmed from page 255 onward because I couldn’t take the drivel anymore.  I DIDN’T CARE.  I just wanted them to hide within the beaten up pages of the used paperback and stay there so I wouldn’t have to suffer through them any longer.

I must say a few things about WTF moments.  Sadly, this book didn’t have any.  If it had, I might have been partly entertained.  The closest it came to WTF was discussing sex, but even then, it wasn’t WTF enough.  Like, having a seventh grader say if a guy has hairy legs, it means he’s sexually experienced, really doesn’t have any “wow” factor to it.  Sex was discussed way too much for a book geared at eight to twelve year olds.  Eight year olds should still be dressing American Girl dolls, not wondering which of their friends have had sex.  I’m not in denial – I know sex does happen to children sometimes.  It is one thing to deter and give facts to children about sexual intercourse.  It is another thing to just keep discussing sex so that it sounds exciting and taboo.  A great example of the latter is this book. 

I guess I’m done with this review.  It pains me to recap even that much.