The Cephalopod Coffeehouse #Review: Fairest #scifi #fairytale

Sorry for being late this month. I forgot to schedule my post. For those of you in the US, be safe out there today. If you’re at home, please enjoy this hop.

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you’ve finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we’ll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us below.

Title: Fairest
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Science Fiction, Fairytale Retelling
Pages: 256
Reading Level: Teen
Content: PG-13 (violence, brutality, doom, mature and dark themes, adult situations, oppression)

After reading Cress, I wasted no time jumping into this long-awaited backstory into the life of the Wicked Queen, aka Levana. I can barely find the right words to describe how much I enjoyed this book. I’m so afraid of giving away spoilers that I’m purposefully making this a short review.

I will say that, dang is this woman’s life messed up. She is all kinds of damaged, from an early age, and she just spirals into, what I consider, insanity. What she does, what is done to her, what the what…. I just can’t. This is such a sad, and brutal, and terrifying story. You want to feel bad for Levana, but she won’t let you. Her crazy out does any wrong done to her and any sympathy she didn’t ask for.

I absolutely love this villain. I so want her to lose so I can feel bad for her and be completely satisfied all at once… See, just reading her story has made me a little crazy.

Totally recommended to fans of this series, fans of psychological sci-fan, and dark fairy tale retellings.

I give this book a 5.

Please stop by and see what others have read. 😀

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse #Review: Cress #scifi #fairytale

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you’ve finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we’ll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us below.

Title: Cress
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Science Fiction, Fairytale Retelling
Pages: 560
Reading Level: Teen
Content: PG-13 (violence, brutality, doom, war, mature and dark themes, adult situations, oppression)

I honestly didn’t see the girl trapped on a satellite turning into a Rapunzel retelling, but it totally works. I love how the author embeds plot points from the original fairytale into this futuristic saga in ways that actually make perfect sense. I won’t geek out about it too much because I don’t want to give away spoilers, but if you like the Rapunzel story, you’ll appreciate this installment of the Lunar Chronicles where Thorne kind of plays the role of the prince.

Before I say more about what I liked in this book, I’ll mention that there wasn’t enough Wolf and Scarlet interaction for me. I understand why they aren’t focused on too much and appreciate where the story is going. I will also admit that I’ve been on the fence a bit about whether or not I really ‘get’ Cinder as the great hero and this story really helped me to appreciate her more. I already liked her, but I just had trouble seeing her as a hero, knowing that the character struggles with that notion herself, makes her feel more real.

I also found that this installment made me appreciate Emperor Kai more. As I read the story, I was pleasantly tasked with reminding myself that these are young, teenage, characters trying to save the world. Too often, for my taste, YA stories make me wish the characters were older. I felt it was a mark of superb storytelling and character development that allowed me to accept the, few and far between, teenage angst because I realized that the story needed light tones from time to time.

Being a sucker for “the one” tales, I really enjoyed how Cinder began to hone her Lunar gifts and complement them with her cyborg advancements. I appreciated the uniqueness of her character and role she plays in bringing light to issues of stereotyping, superstition, and discrimination. I also love that Iko got more involved (can’t wait to read her graphic novel).

Recommended to teen and adult fans of fairytale retellings, cyborg or machine tales, and a good fantasy and sci-fi mash-up.

I give this book a 5.

This review has been posted to GoodReads.

If you’d like a Kindle copy of this book, try this link: Amazon.

Get a print copy with free international shipping at this link: Book Depository.

If you’re up for it, I could really use some support for my Thunderclap campaign, which promotes my 10 Kindle book sale and 5 paperback giveaway.

Please stop by and see what others have read. 😀

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

The Titans of Ardana by @JessSFrankel, interview by #thetoiboxofwords

Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I have a treat to share. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview a wonderful author named, J.S. Frankel. A good time was truly had by all, and here’s how it went down.

~

Toi Thomas: Hi there J.S.! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ToiBox Blog. I’m excited to learn more about you and your work.

J.S. Frankel: Hi there Toi. I’m excited to be here.

Toi Thomas: So tell me, who is J.S. Frankel?

J.S. Frankel: J.S. Frankel is my pen name, and I write primarily YA Fantasy with a lot of action. Some of my better known novels are the Catnip series, Star Maps, The Titans of Ardana, and Twisted, a gender-switch fantasy. I was born in Toronto, Canada, a long time ago, moved to Japan at age of twenty-six, and have been here ever since. I got into writing late, at the age of forty-eight, got published a year later, and have been at it ever since. I love to write YA, as it has a freshness and immediacy all its own. Every book is a new adventure!

Toi Thomas: I thought starting to write in my 30’s was late, but in reality, there’s no time-limit on discovering a part of yourself. I can’t wait to learn more about your journey. Before we dive into your special message today, let’s get to know you, the person inside the author.

What makes you geek out?

J.S. Frankel: Oh, god, it has to be superhero flicks! I remember watching Superman, the original film, back when I was a teen, and forty years later I’m still watching the best (and worst) that Hollywood has to offer. Recently, I saw Wonder Woman and said to myself, “THAT’S how you do an action movie!”

Toi Thomas: I know right. I’m pretty sure I was holding my breath through the whole film, just waiting for the s*** to hit the fan, but it never did. Wonder Woman was a really good movie. While not all superhero flicks are winners, I’m so happy that they’ve become mainstream. They are great stories at their core.

What was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?

J.S. Frankel: Probably The Voyage of the Luna 1. It was a British story written in the late 1940’s, and it fired my imagination about space travel and adventure. The science was all wrong, but I was six. How could I know? I loved it, all the same.

Toi Thomas: I’ve never heard of this book, but it sounds like something I’d enjoy. While good science fiction should, for the most part, feel feasible, I sometimes get a kick out of stories that stretch the limits and make no real sense. At that point, it feels like reading accidental fantasy.

In terms of interviews, whose brain are you just itching to scratch?

J.S. Frankel: If I could, I’d love to interview Robert McCammon or Nora Jemisin, as they are two of my favorite writers. Yes, pick their brains–not eat them!–and find out their process of writing. Both are very wordy writers, but with no waste, no excess or info dumping. Different styles, but very readable. Anything they write is prime!

Toi Thomas: While I’m only vaguely familiar with Robert McCammon, I believe best known for historical fiction, I’ve heard a lot of Jemisin (I believe she goes by N.K.) with the release of her book The Fifth Season. It’s been on my TBR for a while, but so have a lot of books. I’ll definitely get to it though.

Now that we know a little more about you, the person, let’s learn about you, the author, and dive into your special message.

So whacha got for me today?

J.S. Frankel: The Titans of Ardana is a YA Adventure/Fantasy novel. It’s about a young teen–Martin Calder–who is enamored of a television show as well as its co-star, Dana, no last name given. Martin sets out to get her autograph, but in doing so, finds out that she and her twin brother, Van, aren’t exactly from around here. Then the fun begins!

Toi Thomas: I really like the sound of this. I get the feeling there is a lot of humor and mystery in this story. An actress playing one role on TV and then playing another role in real life because she’s not what she seems; already has me curious. Does mystery play a part in this story directly or indirectly?

J.S. Frankel: Actually, the reveal is there right away, right at the end of the first chapter. It’s what happens after that provides all the fun!

Toi Thomas: So, who’s starring in this 2-dimensional script read of The Titans of Ardana?

J.S. Frankel: Two main stars. Martin Calder is the main protagonist of the novel. He’s a geek over sci-fi and fantasy, loves a television show, The Metas, and is in love with the star, Dana, no last name given. Dana is the star of the show. Tall, raven-haired, gorgeous (purple eyes are killer!) she is every bit the superheroine that Martin imagines her to be. Ironically, she IS a superhero, an alien, and she and her twin brother Van are on the run from an interstellar warlord who wants to eliminate them.

Toi Thomas: I love stories with twins in them; no idea why. I think it has something to do with the idea that two people can be connected in an almost psychic way from birth.

What’s so special about this story that’s going to reel in the readers?

J.S. Frankel: It takes the concept of what being a superhero is and turns it on its head. The alien co-stars of the novel, Dana and her twin brother, Van, exist on sugar, and that makes for some funny gross-out moments, as they eat TONS of sugar-laden goodies every day in order to survive. The action is also very good, and there’s quite a bit of humor in the novel. I like to have a little bit of everything in the books I write, and The Titans of Ardana has a little bit of everything to recommend.

Toi Thomas: I enjoy humor, but there are different kinds that appeal to different people. What kind of humor does this story have: slap-stick physical humor, sarcasm and ironic humor, dark and twisted humor, etc…

J.S. Frankel: I’d liken the humor to physical humor, mainly, but no pratfalls or pies in the face. It’s what Dana does—you’ll have to read the chapter in which she and Martin go to a chocolate factory—to get the humor. It’s sort of physical, gross-me-out stuff, and lies in the reactions of the people around them. It also happens to be the funniest scene in the novel, and then it quickly transitions into an action scene, something I am known for and love doing.

Toi Thomas: Past, present, future, is there a rhyme or reason to your writing?

J.S. Frankel: I don’t have a detailed game plan, per se. Ideas pop into my head, the old “What if” scenarios. I do a very basic outline of what will happen in each chapter, who is in it, dialogue, and then start writing. Of course, everything is subject to change and I’m always tweaking something. No music…I listen to that while taking breaks. I need silence. I write late at night when my family is asleep. I can concentrate better that way.

Toi Thomas: I cherish those moments when I can write in complete silence, they just don’t come around very often. I do, however, from time to time use music to inspire me when I need it.

Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?

J.S. Frankel: “Whatever!”

Wikipedia

Toi Thomas: If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?

J.S. Frankel: There are so many, but I’m going to go with an old one, Some Like It Hot, with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. It’s basically a 20-minute burlesque sketch expanded into a movie, but the performances are terrific, Marilyn is adorable, and the final line is killer. Great movie, stands up against anything done today.

Toi Thomas: That is a good movie. While it’s not my favorite Monroe role, I still like her in it and can never get enough of the laughs. As far as burlesque goes, I have a fondness for Gypsy. What can I say, Marilyn is classic, but Natalie is eternal.

Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?

J.S. Frankel: More writing! I would love to be recognized more for what I do, but realistically, there are so many writers out there that recognition is difficult, as is fame or financial reward. While it would be great to make a living from my novels, really, I love to write first and foremost. I can’t see myself doing anything else.

Toi Thomas: If you love to write and stay true to that, who knows, recognition may come when you least expect it.

Any last words to offer our readers after visiting here at the ToiBox of Words?

J.S. Frankel: I would like to say thank you for giving me the chance to express myself. Interviews are hard to come by, and I’m grateful for any and all opportunities.

Toi Thomas: Thank you so much J.S. for spending time with me today.

J.S. Frankel: This has been a fun ride, and the questions were terrific, so thank you once again!

~

Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more from J.S. Frankel, check out these great links:

Amazon.com: J.S. Frankel

Facebook: J.S. Frankel AUTHOR

Twitter: @JessSFrankel

This has been a

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#Author Interview with Dan Nimak at #thetoiboxofwords #kidlit

Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I have a treat to share. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview a wonderful author named, Dan Nimak. A good time was truly had by all, and here’s how it went down. Be sure to check out the special offer at the end.

Amazon Author Central

Toi Thomas: Hi there Dan! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ToiBox Blog. I’m excited to learn more about you and your work.

Dan: Thanks so much for inviting me, Toi. I really appreciate it.

Toi Thomas: So tell me, who is Dan Nimak?

Dan: I was confirmed at birth as a total left-brainer – math degree and all (though the degree came several years later). Mysteriously, my memory didn’t kick in until the sixth grade, when I fell in love with books. I even tried “writing” one then. Thankfully, no copy of that masterpiece exists. I do remember someone died at the end, so it must’ve been YA instead of MG. Fast forward to three years ago: In an illogical attempt to verify right-brain vital signs, I decided to write a book. I’m not sure what happened, but I now have two completed novels.

Toi Thomas: I can relate. My first, 12-year-old, attempt at a novel “accidently” burned in a fire. Oh well. Glad to see that your left-brain and right-brain are working well together. Two novels is no small feat.

Toi Thomas: Now, before we dive into your special message today, let’s get to know you, the person inside the author.


Toi Thomas:
What makes you geek out?

Dan: Any type of science fiction, and especially my current favorite shows: Doctor Who, Dark Matter, Killjoys, The Man in the High Castle. (Based on the book by Philip K. Dick.)

Toi Thomas: Wow, you really are a sci-fi fan. I like it. Plus, if you are going to write science fiction, you should partake in the culture. Any thoughts on Firefly? I’m always curious about that one.

Dan: I’m a big fan of the Firefly series, though I must admit I was one of the many who missed out on its initial release. I didn’t catch up until a friend recommended the Firefly movie finale “Serenity,” which came out a couple of years later. It’s definitely one of the most unique sci-fi series ever (in my humble, little opinion). Now that you’ve mentioned it, I think it’s about time I watch it again!

Toi Thomas: I like you, missed the initial airing, but have since watched the show and movie. Now, I’m just holding out for an animated series… Moving on.

Toi Thomas: Okay, so what was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?

Dan: EZ question! Half Magic, by Edward Eager. I was eleven years old when I randomly read this book, and it absolutely showed me how reading could be FUN. I seriously had no idea until I picked up that book. Thanks, Mr. Eager.

Toi Thomas: What a fun endorsement. I’ve never read that book, but I can now see it on my TBR.

IMDB

Toi Thomas: In terms of interviews, whose brain are you just itching to scratch?

Dan: I’m cheating and naming two people. I would have loved interviewing Robin Williams. And for the same reason, I’d love to interview Gary Larson (The Far Side comic strip, retired in 1995). No two people have ever made me laugh out loud like Robin and Gary did.

Toi Thomas: I totally get that. I don’t think people give enough respect to people with the ability to make others laugh. There’s no Oscar for best comedic performance and none of the writing awards that acknowledge it are ever publicized or televised. I like that you can appreciate humor; so many people don’t. Do you by any chance incorporate humor into your writing?

Dan: Definitely. I believe Middle Grade needs a good mixture of adventure, mystery, drama, fun and humor. And hopefully, my readers will laugh at the appropriate times.

Toi Thomas: Now that we know a little more about you, the person, let’s learn about you, the author, and dive into your special message.


Toi Thomas: So whacha got for me today?

Dan: “Has Anyone Seen My Brain?” is a Middle Grade adventure about a trio of twelve-year-olds and a dog named Blue invisibly traveling through time. They enjoy the best summer ever – until the trip in which one of the friends truly disappears. A fourteen-year-old girl from the Salem witch trials helps with the search, and they soon discover that finding their lost friend will lead to a life-or-death decision. Here’s a partial review from “The Page Turner” – “The writing is quick and clever…and as hard as it is to manage time travel without plot holes, this one aced it.”

Toi Thomas: I agree with The Page Turner Review; after reading the book myself, I can attest to your ability to address plot issues while keeping the fun rolling. Here’s a look at my review as well.

Toi Thomas: Now, Dan, tell me who’s starring in this 2-dimensional script read of Has Anyone Seen My Brain?

Dan: Addi, Brain and Jaden make up “The Blue Team” (named after Addi’s dog, Blue). While Addi is the true “brains” of the group, Jaden provides the comedy. And it’s Brain who has to make a heart-wrenching decision that determines the fate of one of the friends. They seek some timely assistance from Anekia, but the girl from the Salem witch trials has her own issues.

Toi Thomas: You have a way with words; no spoilers here, but you’re right. Anekia does have a whole set of issues it takes Brain a while to acknowledge; he is just a kid after all. Would you be willing to admit as to whether one of the characters is your favorite?

Dan: I’d have to go with Anekia, which you know, isn’t her “real” name. Even though she’s dealing with some serious 17th century problems, she wants to help her new friends hundreds of years in the future. Plus…she is very capable of getting even with Jaden (no spoilers) in the humor department.

Toi Thomas: I see. Well, overall, what do you feel about this story is going to reel in the readers?

Dan: I wanted to lightly touch on 17th century Salem, with a focus on friendship, tough decisions, and forgiveness. (I threw in a little baseball for the fun of it.) I hope many will enjoy, and I’m very grateful for those who take the time to give my story a shot.

Toi Thomas: I think the baseball was a fun touch. There are so many angles to which you could pitch this lovely story: Salem Witch Trials, Baseball, Time Travel, Invisibility, Coming-of-age, and so much more. I really think you’ve got something here.

Toi Thomas: Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?

Dan: Absolutely!


Toi Thomas: If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Dan: I’ve got to refer to you, Toi, on this. When I first read your review of my book, a fist pump was involved regarding, “It’s a very touching story with a coming-of-age significance and an ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ impact.” I suppose I’m a sucker for happy endings.

Toi Thomas: It’s funny that you say that. I was thinking over the holidays, that people don’t watch that movie enough anymore. It’s a classic worth watching from time to time.

Toi Thomas: Let’s play zombie urban survivor. What 3 things do you need to survive a black-out in Central Park the day zombies attack?

Dan: My kindle; my solar panel charger; and, my soon-to-be-acquired zombie blaster.

Toi Thomas: A hardcore reader to the end. That’s what I like to hear. Even in the zombie apocalypse, we have to let the good times roll.

Toi Thomas: Speaking of good times, what’s the most fun experience you’ve ever had, to date?

Dan: I guess I could get all “deep” and mention the birth of our three daughters. The miracle of birth is certainly wonderful, but to be honest, the word “gross” comes to my mind more often than the word “fun.” We’ve had a lot of great times traveling and hiking in many places. For a single event of pure entertainment, I’d have to rank zip-lining several hours through the Smoky Mountains on a beautiful fall afternoon a few years ago as one of the best!

Toi Thomas: Aww, how sweet. Yes, the birth of a child is indeed wonderful, but I agree that zip-lining is probably more fun. I love it.

Toi Thomas: Last question of the day; here we go.

Toi Thomas: Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?

Dan: For the immediate future (2017), my goal is to complete “Dioji,” the sequel to “Has Anyone Seen My Brain?”  I’m also working on another novel, with a hopeful appearance during 2017 as well. Ten years from now, I will be found zip-lining on a regular basis through the Smokies.

Toi Thomas: A sequel to HASMB sounds great. I can’t wait… And here’s to a future of fun and zip-lining. Is there a question you would like to ask me before you go?

Dan: Would you mind sharing my special offer with your readers?

Toi Thomas: Of course not, Dan. I’d be delighted.

Dan is offering both “Has Anyone Seen My Brain?” and “Above the Rain” as free eBooks. All you need to do is tell him which book(s) and what version (mobi or epub) you would like. Please email him through the “Contact” link on his site and let him know either your email address or your kindle email address, so he can send you the files.

Toi Thomas: Dan, thank you so much for spending time with me today.

Dan: It’s been my pleasure, Toi. I hope you and your readers have a great 2017. And on a personal note, I’d like to congratulate you and wish you luck with your guest appearance at a Fantasy convention this spring. Please keep us updated with the details!

Thanks again Dan. Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more from Dan Nimak, check out these great links:

Website: Dannimak.com

Amazon Author Central: Dan Nimak

GoodReads: Dan Nimak

Facebook: Dan Nimal | @RainbugBooks

Purchase links for Has Anyone Seen My Brain?:

AMAZON | iBOOKS | NOOK | KOBO

This has been a

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#Review: Has Anyone Seen My Brain? #timetravel #kidlit #book

Goodreads

Title: Has Anyone Seen My Brain?

Author: Dan Nimak

Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel

Pages: 150

Reading Level: Children, Teen

Content: PG (mild action, suspense, adult situations, mischief)

This was a delightful and surprising story. The premise enticed me from the start but seeing how it all unfolded was entertaining. It’s a very touching story with a coming-of-age significance and a “It’s a Wonderful Life” impact. When I started the story, it seemed all too simple, but it became pleasantly complex soon enough.

I do feel that this is best for a much younger reader. I think there is a certain level of enjoyment lost that, unfortunately is only inferred, once full maturity and the truths of life have set in. If I’d read this as a 10 – 13-year-old, I think it would have blown my mind. There were some issues that seemed juvenile, but then it is a story for and about kids. Still, overall it’s a very sophisticated and clever story.

There were a few sci-fi elements involving invisibility, space travel, and time travel that I wish had been better explained, but that’s only because I tend to overthink things.

This was an enjoyable read. I’m recommending it to all my teacher friends who like sci-fi and any preteens I think might like it.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this ebook in exchange for my honest opinion, which has in no way affected the rating of this piece.

I give this book a 4.

This review has been posted to GoodReads.

If you’d like a Kindle copy of this book, try this link: Amazon.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords