Calling All Authors

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Calling all authors: I am currently looking for a holiday themed read for the upcoming season. If you have a novel that you believe would be a good fit, please pitch me your book at jd.thompson@hotmail.ca Please include the word “review” in the subject line.

I look forward to hearing from you!

P.S. I’m still accepting other genres 😉

 

Book Review: The Quantum Door by Jonathan Ballagh

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There’s something almost Spielbergian about Jonathan Ballagh’s sci-fi novel The Quantum Door that brings me back to the glory days of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Set in the not-too-distant future, two young brothers, Brady and Felix, get more than they bargain for when they decide to ignore a No Trespassing sign and hop a fence into the unknown. They soon find themselves thrown into a dark technological world filled with secrets and danger around every corner.

Ballagh’s writing is solid and readers are quickly transported inside his imaginary scientific alternate world. Thankfully, even the techy stuff is easily understood. I feel this important considering the novel falls under the “tween” age group so super complex storyline and scientific terms could have lost young readers (and likely me as well). Although it’s aimed at readers between the ages of 10-14, The Quantum Door is fun for fans of sci-fi of any age. The characters were intriguing and I especially enjoyed the bond that forms between the two brothers.

I’d like to highlight the cover and inside art work done by Ben J. Adams. I loved the illustrations and felt they related beautifully with the story.

The Quantum Door is an impressive debut by author Jonathan Ballagh and I would recommend to fans of adventure and sci-fi.

Note: I received this book from the author in exchange with an honest review.

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“Kindly forgo name, list sex only.” – Your Employer

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We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.” – Margaret Atwood

Too often in our day and age, we take our freedom of self for granted. As a woman in 2015, I can own a bank account. I can sign a legal document. I can own property – I can inherit it even. I can be a physician or a lawyer or a marine. I can vote. I can even stand for election if I so choose. And why the hell not? I’m a person after all.

However these seemingly logical freedoms were not always possible for women. I know that you know this but rare are the moments when you actually think about it though, right? I voted for the first time this year. I did it with a sense of duty as a Canadian citizen, but not once did it cross my mind that I should vote simply because I am a woman and that there was a time I could not. The reality is that until 1920, women in our great land weren’t even recognized as “persons” in the eyes of the law much less vote. Yet there I was, submitting my electoral choice.

Obviously, these rights didn’t forge themselves. It took an army of strong willed woman throughout the years to make change happen – several of whom were writers. But in spite of all this advancement, I can’t help but feel that somewhere along the line our progress stalled. We accepted the status quo even if it hadn’t quite reached full equality status and the women’s rights movement became somewhat of an unfinished business. I can’t be the only person out there that sees shame in women making only 81% of the medians of our male counterparts. I have a daughter. I’d like her to see the day when an employee’s wages aren’t determined by whether or not they have a penis.

In sociology, we learn that education has the power to initiate social change. So for my own personal education, and hopefully for yours as well, every now and then I will post a piece featuring an influential woman writer who has made a difference. I hope they inspire you to truly recognize your worth as a woman (or if you are a man, the worth of the women around you) and to stop accepting a world where the combination of two X chromosomes makes you inferior.

Keep an eye out for this week’s post about a person (because legally today, she would be granted that title) who envisioned a future when women could pursue virtually any career opportunity they desired and did what she could in order to make that happen.

Book Review: Frostfire (The Kanin Chronicles, Book #1) by Amanda Hockings

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“Remember my name. Because I’m going to be the one that kills you.”

Frostfire is the first book of The Kanin Chronicles which takes place in the same world as Hocking’s Trylle trilogy. Much like her previous work, Frostfire made for a fun and easy read. Although it is a stand-alone book and focuses on a different kingdom, I’d still recommend reading the Trylle trilogy first. By doing so, you’ll have a more in-depth understanding of the background and inner workings of the trolls.

Did I just say trolls? Yup, that’s right; no vampires here. And don’t worry, I’m not spoiling anything by telling you that the story revolves around trolls (I mean, it’s on the back of the book after all). That being said, these trolls look nothing like the 90s dolls we had growing up. They are smart, powerful and for the most part, pretty freakin’ hot.

Hockings sweeps you away with the snowy landscape set in an undisclosed northern area of Canada. Her characters are well developed and the main character, Bryn, isn’t the typical angsty teenager normally found in the YA genre. She is a strong and goal-driven young woman, determined to climb the rankings in her dangerous career. Because I always appreciate a kick-ass female character, Bryn had my vote of confidence from the get-go.

The romance felt a little slow but since it’s a three book series, I suspect that we’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Bryn’s love-life. The story also ends on somewhat of a cliff-hanger which can sometimes be aggravating. Thankfully, all three novels are out and can be read back to back (which is likely what I will do).

Overall, Frostfire offers an adventurous story filled with just enough action and mystery to keep you wanting more. If you’re a fan of the fantasy genre, I recommend picking up this book!

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Book Review: Germination – Feast of Weeds by Jamie Thornton

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I received this book as a free download from the author’s webpage and with Halloween just around the corner, this zombie thriller could not have come at a better time!

The story revolves around Mary, a homeless runaway, who quickly runs into problems when faced with an unknown viral outbreak spreading across the city. The book is enjoyably fast-paced and seldom allows its reader to come up for air before hitting them with another wave of groaning zombies. The plot is strong, while the narrative and characters hook you instantly. Moreover, I liked its perspective and how Mary fits into the story. It’s a unique spin on a genre that has grown significantly over the last few years.

Another aspect I enjoyed about Thornton’s story was that it didn’t only revolve around zombies. The author offers a pretty graphic idea of how difficult life must be for a street kid and doesn’t spare us from the harsh realities that come along with it. That being said, if you’re looking for suspense then you’ve come to the right place; zombies are here, they’re awesome and they are totally taking over.

My only complaint would be that the book felt far too short. At 92 pages (it’s a novella after all), it leaves you absolutely reeling and begging for more. Mercifully, there is more; Germination is the first of four in the Feast of Weeds series.

If you’re a fan of the YA genre and apocalyptic tales of the Walking Dead variety then read Germination – Feast of Weeds.

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Book review: The Mine by John A. Heldt

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Time travel stories tend to be a hit or miss for me however John Heldt’s The Mine manages to fall somewhere in the middle. I liked the premise of the novel and the quality of the writing was very good. My main issue is that I feel it needed more drama. Given the situation that the main character was thrown in, I was expecting a fair amount of conflict and chaos. The transition into Joel’s new life and every situation that he subsequently faced seemed to go a little too smoothly for the protagonist. Where is the terror at the realization that he’s just been sent nearly 60 years back in time? Where is the panic?

Overall, the characters were likeable enough. The standout for me was definitely Ginny, who had just the right amount of sass and candor to really bring the character to life. Personally, I believe that Heldt’s strong suit lies in his well developed description of the era. The world the author built made it easy to imagine what life was like in the early 40s.

Did I enjoy The Mine? Sure. Was it an edge of your seat page turner? Not quite. However it did have enough substance and redeeming qualities to make up for the aspects it lacked. Bonus; the twist at the end was absolutely brilliant.

Note: I received an ecopy of The Mine from the author John A. Heldt in exchange for an honest and unbiased review of the novel.

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“Dear author, we regret to inform you…”

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Let’s not kid ourselves here; being rejected by a literary agent sucks. And being rejected by several agents sucks even more. You spend hours upon hours perfecting your query letter and emailing it to every literary agent you find online only to be met with a slew of very impersonal rejection responses weeks (or sometimes even months) later. Worse are the times that you aren’t even graced with a reply and instead find yourself in literary submission limbo – a place of both wishful thinking and utter hopelessness. As dismal as this may seem, it’s important to note that you’re not the first person to be subjected to this cold fate. Bestselling authors such as J.K. Rowling, Agatha Christie and Dr. Seuss were all rejected by literary agents numerous times before making it in the industry.

Last week, I attended a business seminar and the guest speaker made mention of Howard Schultz who was rejected by banks 242 times before someone loaned him the money to start his business. 242 times – let that sink in for a moment. Today, Starbucks has a net worth of 70.9 billion. I get that this anecdote has little relation to books however it has everything to do with persevering in the face of rejection. If everyone who faced rejection threw in the towel, then my favorite nonfat pumpkin spice latte wouldn’t be available every fall, we wouldn’t have grown up knowing the joys of Green Eggs and Ham and The Boy Who Lived would have never left the cupboard under the stairs.

Basically, what it all comes down to is this: will you have the ability to continue believing in your work no matter how many doors are slammed in your face?

Here are a few lessons that may help you:

  1. Rejection is often an opportunity in disguise. It allows us to examine what we did wrong and gives us insight on how to do it better for the next time. Perhaps your query wasn’t the best pitch for your novel. Or maybe you were sending it to agents that don’t represent your genre. Whatever the reason, a next time is coming if you really believe in your work. See rejection as a challenge and a source of motivation to do better in the future.
  2. Know your worth. Don’t underestimate yourself just because someone has passed on the opportunity to represent you. Allow rejection to build your courage and raise your determination. When you know that your work is of value it’s easier to accept that you may have to crawl through the trenches in order to reach the top.
  3. Ask yourself “What is the worst that can happen?” Seriously guys, being rejected hurts but it’s not a zombie apocalypse. If an agent (or several) turns you down then absorb the blow, brush yourself off and try again. Be unrelentingly tenacious. Most importantly, have the audacity to try again and the determination to understand that rejection doesn’t mean failure.

In short, rejection is unavoidable. In writing especially. You may call it an occupational hazard, but I call it a building block.

“If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, then your goals aren’t ambitious enough.” – Chris Dixon

(Photo above courtesy of Tumblr)