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.

 

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Lois Lane Fallout is Flawless

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Take note Hollywood: THIS is how you move an overshadowed character from the darkness and put her into the spotlight. Until now, I’ve never seen Lois Lane as anything but Superman’s requisite window dressing and love interest. Not that it’s her fault. She’s faired rather poorly in most media incarnations. Granted, my knowledge comes from her various movie and tv incarnations, (I’m not a comic reader, so it’s entirely possible she’s received better treatment there. I just haven’t seen it.)

With Fallout, she’s no longer an after-though. She’s front and center. Gloriously so. Ms. Bond’s Lois Lane is fearless, feisty, and engaging. She’s far more interesting than ‘Smallvilleguy’, whose cameos never made me want to see more of him. I love what Ms. Bond’s done here. Making the MC someone other than the superhero adds an air of wonder and mystery to Superman that Ms. Bond gloriously exploits. Let’s be honest: wouldn’t Batman be far more interesting if the shorty presented him like the Alien in Ridley Scott’s classic Alien film: a nightmare in the shadows. Imagine that, a horror movie, but one substituting villains for comely coeds, a movie with the hero as the monster.

But I digress, something Fallout never does. From the start, Lois Lane is central here–even if she’s only 16. Wonderfully drawn, and easy to cheer for, she takes on a group of creepy students who find themselves caught up in a larger conspiracy. Saying anymore would be too much of a spoiler–and I don’t want to spoil it.

Suffice it to say, I blew through this book. I loved every page. I can’t wait for the next book! Please hurry, Ms. Bond. I need more!

Rating: 5-STARS

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.

A JOURNEY INTO FANTASY FOR NORFOLK AUTHOR

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Norfolk author Keith Yatsuhashi recently published his first book, “Kojiki” a fantasy themed novel. Courtesy Photo

By Heather Gillis Harris
hharris@wickedlocal.com 

Posted Apr. 26, 2014 @ 8:29 am

NORFOLK — It took more than a decade, but Norfolk author Keith Yatsuhashi finally finished what he started, writing and publishing his first book.

“I remember (Ronald) Regan had just died,” Yatsuhashi said as to when he started writing his recently published fantasy novel, “Kojiki.”

The lifetime Norfolk resident lives with his wife Kathleen and their three children, Kaitlin, 15, Jeffrey, 13 and Justin, 11.

Writing a book was something Yatsuhashi always wanted to do, but felt intimidated by the process.

“I put the idea on the shelf,” he said. “Then one day I had an idea and started to write, one sentence at a time.”

It took him two years to write the first draft.

“It was a very long process, because I didn’t have a background in writing,” Yatsuhashi said. “So I had a lot to learn.”

He sent his book off to various publishers, only to be rejected or not receive any feedback. To get some guidance, he hired independent editor Lorin Oberweger. Oberweger works out of Tampa, Florida, so the two conversed over emails and phone.

“I was lucky, she happened to like the book,” Yatsuhashi said. “She was very hands-on. Not only did she edit the book, she acted as a consultant on how to submit. She really taught me how the industry worked.”

Yatsuhashi said Oberweger helped him pare down the book, about an 18-year-old Japanese-American girl named Keiko who finds herself on a spiritual mission after crossing through a ceremonial gate in Japan. Originally Keiko was written as an older protagonist, based loosely on Yatsuhashi’s elderly and eccentric aunt Kikiyue.

But Kaitlin, Yatsuhashi’s daughter, suggested that, since the book is fantasy, Keiko is old in mind, but something happened to her that keeps her physically young.

Yatsuhashi followed his daughter’s advice. “It made for a much more interesting story,” he said.

The story is about a quest that Keiko must take after she is left a poem and a one-way ticket to Japan following her father’s death.

“She must find a gate and uses a camera as a sort of talisman to help her find the way,” Yatsuhashi said.

Without giving too much away, Keiko finds the gate and enters a doorway where she encounters god-like beings and learns that the myths and legends she was taught as a child are actually reality based.

“The world history she learned was all a lie,” Yatsuhashi said.

While the book bears some resemblance to Japanese folklore, Yatsuhashi said the book is entirely fiction.

“People who like animation will like this book,” he said. He added that teenagers seem to be drawn to the book as well, that many of the online reviews have labeled it in the “young adult” genre.

To purchase a copy of the book Yatsuhashi said it is available at http://www.amazon.com and other e-book platforms such as iTunes, the Sony Store and the Barnes and Noble digital store.

For anyone thinking about writing and publishing their own book, he offers this advice: “It’s a lot of work. You do more work than you think. When you’re writing you can’t just say ‘it’s good enough,’ be open to editing.”

Heather Harris can be reached at hharris@wickedlocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @heatherharrisWL.

*THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN THE COUNTRY GAZETTE, WRENTHAM, MA. SEE THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE.

Book Review: Libba Bray’s The Diviners is a Must Read!

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Source: Amazon.com

Libba Bray’s The Diviners is the best book I’ve read this year. From its gripping opening pages to its thrilling conclusion, The Diviners grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go. This book has everything I love in a story: great characters mystery, suspense, supernatural powers, and a freakishly diabolical villain.

Typically, when you think ‘urban fantasy’, you won’t conjure images of 1920 era New York City. Ms. Bray’s decision to set her book here is both original and ingenious. The Roaring twenties was a unique era in American history. Fresh off the Great War, the United States spent a decade releasing the national tensions that war created. Women in particular gained some measure a freedom, shortening their skirts, cutting their hair, and embracing their sexual power. Into this world, enters Evangeline, Evie, O’Neill, a liberated, ‘modern’ seventeen-year-old girl from the midwest. Evie has a secret power, one that gets her exiled from Ohio and sent off to live with her uncle in New York. Unbeknownst to Evie, she’s not the only one with powers. Many others exist, and she’s about to meet a few of them. When a series of brutal, ritualistic murders rock New York, the city’s lead investigator calls Evie’s uncle, Will Fitzgerald, to consult on the case. Turns out Uncle Will is a paranormal expert of sorts, having run a museum on the subject for years. He discovers an awakening evil and enlists Evie’s help to stop it.

While none this sounds particularly original, let me assure you it is. Ms. Bray skillfully takes this age-old premise and spins it into a grand and golden yarn. She goes all in, using the time period’s unique slang, fashion, and giltz to create a living, breathing portrait of New York during prohibition. Her characters live and breathe it, especially Evie. She’s the glue holding it all together. Bright and vivacious, she posses the smarts and savvy to turn almost any situation to her favor. Her conversations are often hilarious, and her personality is infectious. She’s easily the most interesting and charismatic character I’ve read in a long time. Her supporting cast is just as good, each character drawn with a distinct voice and personality. They play off each other beautifully no matter the situation, their dialogue fluid and natural.

I loved The Diviners; I loved every word. Reading it made the world fall away. I was sad to finish it. I wanted it to keep right on going. How often can you say that about a book?

Five Stars.