Kojiki has a Cover

After too long away, I’m back to show you the cover for my debut novel, Kojiki, available Aug. 2 in the US and Aug 4 in the UK. Look for it pretty much everywhere you buy your books. Click here to read the first chapter or visit fantasy-faction.com.

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Thanks to my publisher Angry Robot Books and fantastic cover artist Thomas Walker.

 

Book Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. Go Get it

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Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds is a great read and a must for new YA authors. Why? Because it’s about a YA author’s journey from acceptance to published book with many twists and turns and enough YA fiction to keep you turning the pages. Mr. Westerfeld cements  the book’s themes right away. The book starts where every author’s publishing journey begins–with the dreaded query letter. I was hooked the second I read that section, and I eagerly devoured any publishing tidbit Mr. Westerfeld threw my way. From YA parties and house-styles, to Darcy Patel’s–the book’s protagonist–insecurities over her edits, writing, and success, Afterworlds teaches as much about YA publishing, if not more, than many publishing websites. It gets into the weeds–speaks to authors about promotion, book tours and events, about success and the industry’s business side. All of this through the eyes of a teen unprepared for what’s about to happen to her. Westerfeld’s Darcy is every author. She struggles with her creation, frets over deadlines, criticisms, and the book itself.

Said book is, in fact, Afterwords, presented in connection and in context with Darcy’s real-world story. Darcy’s Afterwords is a paranormal story with a hint of romance. It’s fast and exciting, and its main character, Lizzie, seems as real as Darcy herself. Lizzie is the only survivor of a terrorist attack at Dulles/FT Worth Airport. A strange change came over her during the assault, and she falls into the Afterworld, a place that’s part underworld, part purgatory. There, she meets, Yamaraj, a fellow psychopomp, or guide for the dead. As Lizzie’s story unfolds, she learns how to use her growing power, despite Yamaraj’s warnings, and starts to fall head-over-heels in love with the handsome young man.

The fictional Afterworlds unfolds alongside Darcy Patel’s path to publication. Mr. Westerfeld balances the two deftly, shrewdly giving the reader tense, compelling chapters from one story exactly when the other one is in exposition. As a result, the book doesn’t hit the lulls frequent in other titles. One story zooms along and when it hits its natural slow scenes, the other picks up.

Darcy is a wonderful character, talented and insecure, and thrown into NYC well before she’s ready. Mr. Westerfeld constantly reminds us of her immaturity by giving her an impulsive nature. She’s on a tight budget but can’t resist the city’s allure. Her relationship with fellow writer and ultimate girlfriend, Imogen White, is touching and tender, especially in how it both advances and hinders her writing. Ultimately, that relationship and its ups and downs–particularly at the end, are mirrored in her final Afterworld revisions. You feel the loneliness and insecurity. The questioning and the fragile faith in both stories. It’s subtle and beautifully handled.

Mr. Westerfeld’s insights into publishing and Darcy’s trials and tribulations are spot on. Including the actual YA book along with Darcy Patel’s journey is a stroke of genius. A careful reader will spot how Darcy’s life and experiences change her novel, particularly at the end–an end that Darcy frets over for much of the book.

This review is from the ARC handed out at Book Expo America, (BEA). On a side note, BEA is one of the book’s many settings. I loved reading about it. Mr. Westerfeld captures it perfectly–as he does with so much of the book.

4.5 Stars. A MUST for authors.

Afterwords is due out in September from Simon and Schuster.

 

 

Book Review: The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey Rocks!!!

 

 

Source: Amazon.com

Source: Amazon.com

The Girl with All the Gifts is a fantastic read. How good? When I first came across it, it had so many aspects that I usually dislike. I typically don’t do books this grim. I’m not a fan of books written in the present tense. If fact I rarely get through them. For The Hunger Games, I had to go to the audio book. Something about the style doesn’t compute in my head. I’m also not a fan of zombies.

None of these biases mattered. This book pulled me in so completely, I forgot about them. How often does a book overcome personal odds and earn such a high rating? Rarely. But The Girl With All the Gifts is that good. It’s transcendent. The girl herself, Melanie, is so perfectly written. She starts out sheltered but grows throughout. Her voice matures and becomes powerful.

Kudos to Mr. Carey for perfecting such a complex and compelling character. The same goes for the story itself. I thought this would be a hard science fiction story, one stuck in a lab or compound. That’s all there, but Mr. Carey wisely moves the action beyond the labs and turns it into a true survival tale.

Another reviewer likened it to The Day of the Triffids. I can definitely see that. It also has a similar tone to James Cameron’s Terminator and Aliens. Bleak, desperate, and thought provoking, this book will keep you turning its pages. I hated to finish it but admit to it having a stunning yet perfect ending.

I will remember this book for a long, long time.

Book Review: Steelheart

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Love this book. Absolutely love it. Brandon Sanderson has made a name for himself as one of the major voices in fantasy fiction, but it’s in his YA works that you’ll find the most originality and best storytelling. The only exception I’ll make to that are his collaborations with the late Robert Jordan.

Sanderson’s fans will notice some fairly blatant similarities to his earlier Mistborn series, such things as the perpetual darkness and the evil overlord already in command. Not that this is unique to Sanderson–Star Wars used the same template. The characters set this story apart, along with the firm, solid plotting Sanderson constructs. 18-year-old David is fully fleshed out. We understand what motivates him, and it’s a joy to see him mature to the point where he questions it. The surrounding cast is equally good, Cody, Prof, and Abraham, each holding his own while remaining uniquely individual.
The women are just as good, though Megan is, if anything, a little too stereotypical. She’s the beautiful, out of David’s league girl he nevertheless sets his sights on. Not that she’s a bad character. Far from it. It’s just that the situation, with her as David’s potential love interest–is less original than everything else about the story.

Mr. Sanderson wastes nothing in telling this tale, using each chapter to plant seeds-very subtle ones at times–that come together brilliantly in the book’s final act. The Epics are something special. At first blush, the seem like any other comic book super-being. They’re not. Sanderson twists them in devilish ways and makes them wondrous and villainous at the same time. Of particular note are the fantastic names they give themselves. In one sentence, Sanderson shows how silly such things can be when he notes one particular Epic’s self-designation. And it’s hilarious.

Steelheart is a great read by a great voice. The next book is due out by the end of 2014. I can’t wait!

 

Speechless. This 5-star KOJIKI review from Amazon leaves me speechless (and a little teary-eyed)

5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing and unique perspective on fantasy!, February 11, 2014
This review is from: Kojiki (Kindle Edition)
I tend to be very choosy when it comes to what I will admit I enjoy in a book. I will read nearly anything, but few make the list of all time. Few make me want to read it all over again the moment it’s done. Few leave me with a profound feeling of being a more fulfilled person for having read the words between the pages.Kojiki is no exception. The characters are beautifully written, and though I’m not anywhere near Japanese in heritage, I have always admired the culture, the rich history and philosophy behind Japan. The characters all embody what I believe is the heart of not just Japan, but our entire existence.

The author says that the book is anime inspired, and though I can very clearly see this book being developed into an anime, I think there is so much more that you just cannot capture with the eyes. By reading this, I was able to transport myself into a world rich with creatures of lore, vivid in imagery and rich in absolute fascination factors. I plan to give this to my son to read next, because I’m sure his 16 year old mind will eat this up. He’s my anime watching partner, and I’ve told him no less than three times about this book.

I love that there are words in Japanese, used in context within the text, along with an explanatory English word so we understand. It keeps it feeling very genuine, and keeps you in that floating ethereal place you’re meant to be while reading it. As the characters grow in substance, so too do our feelings of attachment and a sense of being parallel. We are watching their struggles as they encounter them, and though they cannot hear our cheers, we remain their supporters from behind the pages.

What can I say that isn’t shining about this book? Maybe my greed in wanting more like it! The ending was incredible and felt exactly right, but I hate that it ended at all.

I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially those who require a high degree of mental sophistication in their fantasy novels, those who won’t read “just anything” and people looking for a fresh and direct perspective on a new premise entirely. It definitely is nothing like anything I have read before, it is not the same old story that is predictable, nor full of beings of evil or good that we’ve all seen and heard from in other ways before.

5 stars doesn’t even do this justice. I will continue to come back for more.

A 5-Star Review for KOJIKI from Tammy’s Tea Time Book Review Blog

From Tammy’s Team Time

Kojiki Blog Tour

Book Info-
Title- Kojiki
By- Keith Yatsuhashi
Published- April 19th, 2013
Published by- Musa Publishing
Genre-YA
Book Blurb-
When eighteen-year-old Keiko Yamada’s father dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind a one way ticket to Japan, an unintelligible death poem about powerful Japanese spirits and their gigantic, beast-like Guardians, and the cryptic words: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.”
Alone and afraid, Keiko travels to Tokyo, determined to fulfill her father’s dying wish. There, beneath glittering neon signs, her father’s death poem comes to life. Ancient spirits spring from the shadows. Chaos envelops the city, and as Keiko flees its burning streets, her guide, the beautiful Yui Akiko, makes a stunning confession–that she, Yui, is one of a handful of spirits left behind to defend the world against the most powerful among them: a once noble spirit now insane.
The Earth itself is at stake, and as Keiko fights to save it, strange, dormant abilities stir within her. She suspects they are vital to her world’s survival, but to summon them, she must first unlock the mysteries within herself and a past shrouded in mystery.
My Review: I had my reservations about this book in the beginning and thought I’m not going to be able to get in to this story. I probably won’t even like it I thought to myself. I could not have been more wrong! I couldn’t put it down. As a matter of fact I am re-reading it right now to see what I may have missed the first time. The elements in this story just took my breath away. Every scene is so well described that you can picture it all as it plays right out in front of you off every page. Without being overdone KeithYatsuhashi did an amazing job with the characters as well. You couldn’t help but love them. Just like every adventure story you have your good guys and at least one villain and there is no shortage of that in this story. You quickly get a glimpse of both good and bad in here; you just have to learn who really is the good guy and who the true villain is. Come on, you didn’t expect me to tell you who they are and spoil the thrill ride for you did you? Kojiki holds so many layers to it. I was just blown away by the detail and time given to this story to make it so that every reader had just enough room to let your imagination flow through to make the story your own as it plays out. I so enjoyed the characters. Keiko is such a wonderful character that gets thrown into a world she doesn’t understand all while she is trying to still grieve the loss of her beloved father. Yui Akiko takes the world by storm and helps Keiko try to figure all of this stuff out. Yui has her own way of doing things though and rather than slowly introducing things slowly she is left to give Keiko a crash course of what she needs to know. As Keiko learns what must be done to save the world from the evil that lurks to destroy it she must also figure out what this all has to do with her and why her father’s dying wish was for her to go Japan and discover a gate and herself. Kojiki was a thrill ride right from the beginning that you barely have time to catch your breath before you are off again with a bang! I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this story! I would highly recommend Kojiki to anyone who wants a high paced action packed grab you by the seat of your pants adventure.
5/5
 
Links-
Kobo-
Author Info–
Keith Yatsuhashi was born in 1965 in Boston, MA. He graduated from Northeastern University in 1989 and is currently the Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Assistance Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
Keith was a competitive figure skater for ten years, winning the U.S. National Junior Dance Championships in 1984, a bronze medal in the 1983 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, and a silver medal in 1984.
In addition to his love of writing, Keith enjoys many hobbies such as golf, reading, and playing football and hockey with his sons. Keith currently lives in Norfolk, MA with his wife, Kathleen and three children—Caitlin, Jeffrey, and Justin.
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