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.

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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!

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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

Bookreview: Firebound #fantasy #FlashbackFriday

This is a special post I do once a month to highlight a book I reviewed some time ago, but never actually featured on my blog. Because this is an author blog and not a book blog, I don’t always feature all the books I read. Like all good and dedicated fans of the written word, I do my part and leave reviews on Goodreads.com, Amazon.com, and sometimes other places, but don’t always bring attention to what I’m reading, unless you follow me on YouTube… hint, hint, wink wink 😉 In any case, please enjoy this review of a book I read at some point in my life.

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Today’s flashback review is a little special but mostly because today is International Authors Day. I’m featuring a review of a book from an author I really like.

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Goodreads

Title:  Firebound

Series: Spellbringers #2

Author: Tricia Drammeh

Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance, Paranormal

Pages: 285

Reading Level: Teen

Content: PG-13 (violence, sensuality, brief mild sexual content, dark and mature themes, adult situations, suspense)

In book one my heart went out to Bryce who seemed to be misunderstood, but in book 2 I really fell in love with Alisa. She’s the only character with no power of her own, yet she seems to be the strongest of them all. Depending on how you look at it, Alisa is the reason the Alexander family is as mighty as they are. In their society of magic and Spellbringers, their connection to this one human keeps them all from becoming monsters… I may be exaggerating a bit, but in any case, I really adore Alisa.

Rachel, on the other hand, is a character that despite her many many flaws, I can’t hate but don’t exactly love her. I feel for her in many ways, but she seems to be a bit self-destructive. Like all self-destructive people, she also hurts others as a result. The one thing she seems to have going for her is the fact that she is apparently the most powerful being on the planet though she hasn’t realized the extent of her powers. As destructive as she is, I still like her more than Jace.

It’s not that I don’t like Jace. I feel a bit indifferent about this character. I can see that he will continue to grow as the story develops, but for now, he’s a pretty face, decent brother, and good son.

The action of this book is much more involved, which I didn’t think was possible. Alisa and Bryce struggle to be close yet so far apart. After he speaks the claiming words to her, they crave each other but can’t share each other or live together. Alisa is forgetting what an independent person she used to be and Bryce is clinging to her affection so he won’t turn to the dark side. Yeah, whoa!

Rachel has the best of intentions trying to protect her brother but she has to know that going on dream dates with a demon isn’t going to end well. Plus, there’s more than one demon after her. When, Alisa, the only human in the bunch has to risk her life to save Rachel, things heat up in more ways than one. What a perfect end to this installment and a grand enticement for the next.

I think I enjoyed this one just as much as the first. Highly recommended again.

Read my review of Spellbound here.

I give this book a 5.

This review has been posted to GoodReads.

If you’d like to obtain a 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

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse #Review: My Father Didn’t Kill Himself #YA #book

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.

So, the end of April came way faster than I was prepared for. Today, I’m prepping for the RavenCon and am feeling a bit jittery. I feel bad about not putting forth my best effort with this review so let me be clear now, this is not the full and complete review. I will be more thorough at a later time and post my complete review on Goodreads and Amazon (if they let me). Since I’m pretty much a member of the author’s, Russell Nohelty, unofficial fan club, I get a lot of his content in bulk and at discounted prices. I support almost all his Kickstarters and thus, that’s how I acquire his content whether digital or print. In any case, I’ll provide a brief review of this ebook below.

Title: My Father Didn’t Kill Himself
Author: Russell Nohelty
Genre: YA, Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 305
Reading Level: Adult
Content: R (adult content and situations, mature themes, drug and alcohol use, language, sexuality)

So first, I have issues reading YA in general so that’s not a reflection of the author’s ability to tell a story. I had trouble relating to teens with I was one, so reading about them is always a little difficult for me. With that said, this is a very hard book to read. Some of the subject matter is just painful, in an emotional way, but it’s good. Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable to really experience something that sticks with you. Overall, this is a good book I’d recommend to a select few I feel would really connect with it and benefit from it.

I give this book a 4.

If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book, try this link: Amazon

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

#Review : Code Name Verity #YA #spy #book

Goodreads

Title:  Code Name Verity

Series: Code Name Verity #1

Author: Elizabeth Wein

Genre: Historical Fiction (WWII)

Pages: 441

Reading Level: YA

Content: PG-13 (war action and violence, intense emotion, mature themes)

This book was part of a new audio promotion, so I received it free from the distributor. I had no idea what it was about and was thoroughly pleased with what I discovered.

The story is about two female friends trying to make a place for themselves in a world dominated by men during WWII. Maddie is a pilot and the other girl has too many names for me to stick with just one, so we’ll call her Verity. Most of the story is told from Verity’s perspective as she writes to save, or at least prolong, her life once captured by the enemy. I want to say more, but I don’t want to give too much away. I’ve read a lot of books, and watched even more movies; this book, with all its twists and turns, caught me off guard and totally surprised me.

Not to give the wrong impression about this book, but it almost made me cry and not because the two main characters are female. This story feels so real that the sense of loss, which multiple characters experience throughout the story, feels all too real. To be a prisoner of war and have the choice of standing strong and die or give in and live one more day isn’t as easy as you might hope, but Verity is tougher than you ever imagine she’ll be at the beginning. In the end, though, it’s Maddie you’ll feel for the most.

Anyone, even men, who appreciate gritty stories of WWII will appreciate this book, but I think it’ll also be a crowd pleaser with women’s groups and historical clubs. I don’t know if it was written for adults, but I don’t think it really matters. These characters are so young, as are many who go off to fight wars. I would totally recommend this to my teenage nieces and nephews. After all the flying, fighting, lying, and surviving there is a strong gut-wrenching message about true friendship which should appeal to anyone.

I give this book a 5.

LoveIt

This review has been posted to GoodReads. If you’d like to obtain a 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

#BooktagsBlogHop No. 4: The Woodcutter by Kate Danley #fantasy #YA

Booktagbloghop

The purpose of this blog hop is for readers and writers to share what they are reading, have read, are writing, or have written with others. This is not about promoting free or discounted books though some of those may be featured. This is about book lovers sharing what they love about books. This blog hop is about the Joy of Reading and the Joy of Writing with tags of your choosing and is hosted by me, Toi Thomas, the third Monday of the month. Learn more here.

This month’s optional theme is: New Year, birth, fresh start.

Excerpt from Chapter 78

The Grandmother and Red Riding Hood stopped at the base of a mighty oak tree whose gnarled roots ate the ground and whose grand trunk could only be surrounded if ten tall men stood hand in hand. There, the Grandmother and the child transferred the body to the earth.

They stood respectfully as the Woodcutter knelt at the side of his own being. A phantom tear slid down the Woodcutter’s cheek, and it fell, landing upon the earth.

The Woodcutter buried his face in his sleeves.

But where the tear touched, a small mushroom emerged, a mushroom of red with small dots of white on its cap. It stretched and yawned and shook off the dirt and then shrank back as another tear slid from the Woodcutter and landed wetly upon its head. It shook off the tear like a dog come in from the rain, and where the spray of the second tear landed, a second mushroom emerged, waking and shaking as another tear fell. Around and around the mushrooms grew, until the tears stopped and the Woodcutter looked up.

A circle of mushrooms gazed back at him from all sides, a circle of mushrooms grown into a complete faerie circle.

202 words from: The Wood Cutter © 2010 Kate Danley

My Thoughts

Before I get started with my spiel, let me first apologize. I took a bit of a digital cleanse in the last week or so and let a few things lapse. While I will continue this blog hop regardless of outside participation, I must admit that I didn’t promote this very much this month. I will rectify that for the next post and hopefully come up with a nice list of books to sample.

Now on to the book. I absolutely adored this book the first time a read it, which is probably why I felt the need to read it again. There are so many wonderful qualities to this story- a nice balance of the traditional mixed with twists and upgrades.

In this particular scene, there are several types of awakenings happening and beginning to happen. I won’t go into too much detail about the how and why because I don’t want to spoil it too much. In any case, in keeping with this month’s optional theme, I thought the “birth” or creation of mushroom circle was a perfect fit. I must also admit that when I first read this, the dancing mushroom scene, to the music of the Nutcracker, from Fantasia ran through my mind repeatedly. I felt like a child reading Peter Pan for the first time all over again.

So there, a bit of my perspective and a trip down memory lane. If you like fairytales, mythical lore, and fairy magic, please give the Woodcutter a try. Aside from being a wonderfully told story with amazing world building, it has a subtle and positive message to it.

Find this title at Amazon | Goodreads

What are you currently reading? I’d love to know.
Next blog hop post date will be February 15, 2016.

Be sure to hop around and see what others are reading so you may continue to pile onto your TBR list.

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