genre fiction

All posts in the genre fiction category

SJ Reads: YA Graphic Novel Edition

Published April 4, 2016 by admin

I thought I’d open up the week with some fun, so it’s time for another edition of SJ Reads! This time I wanted to touch back on what is probably one of my biggest comfort reading genre – graphic novels, though because I have a lot of friends with kids and I’m always curious about what the youngin’s are puttin’ in their noggins, this edition has a YA slant.

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel – Combining the stories of a rough paranormal investigator and a boy accidentally pulled to the other side, this is a fast-past story that kids will easily get into. It’s probably geared more to boys, but the characters are likable enough that I think girls would get into it, too. As an old person, there are several plot points that I would’ve liked developed a little more, but it’s probably good that the action and characters take precedent. A fun, loose art style that’s very eye-catching, and just a really nice, just-dark-enough title all the way around.

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel – I think I liked this a little bit more than Ghostopolis, because there was a somewhat bigger cast and more attention was paid to how they interacted with each other, even if it was just for a fleeting hint in a panel or two. Cam’s out-of-work father gives him a cardboard box for his birthday. Even though it’s all he can afford, it also gives them time to spend together…and, as it turns out, the cardboard has special abilities. I love all the different creatures and worlds that come from the cardboard, I love the interactions between characters, and because this is so grounded in real-world problems, it really made me pay attention.The only thing that made me go ‘eh’ is the ‘villain’ was the somewhat stereotyped misunderstood rich goth kid. However, a lot is done with the character and although I would’ve liked to be a little less predictable/get in his head a little more, he’s actually my favorite character in the whole book and there are some fun things done with his progression. So, while there is the usual kind of archetypes/tropes that you’re used to seeing in mid grade lit or entertainment (especially if you grew up in the 80s or 90s), there is some comfort to that and there are some interesting things done with it. Nice pace, great art, and it made me want to go make something.

Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula by Andi Watson – an underworld princes is the pseudo-ruler of her kingdom because her hypochondriac father doesn’t want to deal with stress of politics. Add to that the pain of hiring an unusual new chef who becomes her only confidant and you get a very cute, very tame creepy romance. What I like is that the relationship is not the foremost thing – or it shares the spotlight with Decomposia’s feelings about her father, her stress at trying to put up a front running the kingdom and determining what kind of ruler she wants to be. Plus, Count Spatula is a really unique vampire. Just a kind dude who can cook and happens to have fangs. There’s a lot of moments here that gave me a chuckle, and I love that the major focus was Decomposia standing up for herself. The art is cute and while not as detailed as some titles, it really fits the tone of the book.

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale – I love fairy tales. I love warped fairy tales. This may be one of the greatest things I have ever read. Rapunzel, set in sort of the villa/slavery system of the old west, where the witch rules the territory out of her villa and controls the water and harvest of the villages through her growth magic. You see how Rapunzel was put in the tower, but also her escape and her growth as she makes her way across the territory to face down the witch with outlaw Jack (from Jack and the beanstalk fame). A totally new slant is given to most of the characters, and it fits the fairy tale narrative in that there are a lot of little adventures along the way of the big journey. There’s no being saved by a prince (though there’s a hilarious hat-tip to that), and Rapunzel takes down foes with hair lassoing. She is second fiddle to none, and there’s a lot of time given to talking about her role, her place, her gender, her journey.  Also HUGE props to how many female characters are in this book, and characters of color. It’s fantastic. This was one I read and reread and re-re-read and then forced upon everyone around me because it is that much fun. The art is beautiful, vibrant, and earthy and the themes of growth magic are consistent while still really feeling like it all belongs in the old west. Love.

Curses! Foiled Again by Jane Yolen and Mike Cavallaro – In the first Curses, Aliera stumbled upon a fencing foil that made her defender of the Seelie kingdom. In this volume, she deals with what that means. Not only is she trying to keep up with fencing to get to nationals, but her lab partner is a troll and declares himself her servant. The powers of darkness are out to get her foil, and it’s hard to know who to trust when her cousin Caroline is attacked. Again, I love this for the female lead – Aliera has unique strengths, but she’s also a normal girl and needs help along the way. Her cousin Caroline is an incredible gem of a character – wheelchair bound and supposedly “frail,” it’s Caroline who guides Aliera with advice and her RPG and fantasy knowhow. Both girls tell it like it is in their own way. It’s also intriguing that the whole school paranormal romance angle is turned on its head with some of the characters, so it’ll be interesting to see where that goes. Plus, Baba Yaga makes an appearance and there’s no way I could ever be mad about that. A fun romp with classic Jane Yolen awesomeness.

 

Calling All Book Bloggers/Reviewers!

Published July 20, 2015 by admin

Tomorrow Comes Media/Seventh Star Press are looking for a few good bloggers and/or reviewers for hosts in six upcoming tours! Each title is linked to the sign-up form.

Nocturne Infernum by Elizabeth Donald (Three Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance titles in one volume – reviewers have the choice of reviewing one title)

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About Nocturne Infernum: Nocturne Infernum includes the original three chapters in the Nocturnal Urges series, an alternate version of present-day Memphis in which vampires walk among us, but are not treated as our equals. They work the night shift, the jobs no one else wants, and they’re not too happy about it. Meanwhile, humans take advantage of the pleasures vampires can provide, but call them friends? Lovers? The gap between human and vampire stretches wide as death rises in the streets of Memphis.

Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy by RJ Sullivan – if short stories are more your thing, be sure to check out this diverse collection!

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About Darkness With a Chance of Whimsy: Collected for the first time since their initial publications, Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy presents ten tales from the imagination of R.J. Sullivan. Thrills and chills await you, but you may also get blindsided by the absurd. This volume includes a pair of stories featuring Rebecca Burton, the mysterious investigator of R.J.’s acclaimed paranormal thriller series

Hunt for the Fallen by Peter Welmerink (Military/Horror)

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Captain Jacob Billet
Journal Entry – Sunday April 5, 2026

It’s raining, it’s pouring, the undead are roaring…

Amassed at the UCRA east end enclosure, the dead strain the fence line while soldiers keep watchful eyes, the survivors on the opposite side of the rising river about to lose their minds.

It’s a crazy time: nonstop precipitation; everyone’s up in arms; paranoid city council members with an asshat City Treasurer. Water, water everywhere. Zees dropping into the churning drink. Troops afraid of being stitched up and thrown back into the fray as Zombie Troopers. Tank commanders getting itchy to head out on their own after drug-laden shamblers. Reganshire insurgents trying to extract our west side civvies for some unknown reason, possibly pushing the city into taking heavy-handed action against them.

Then there’s some black-haired dead dude staring at me through the fence, grinning like he’s off his meds.

And I thought Lettner was a headache.

All this sh*t might give me a heart attack.

Hunt for the Fallen is Transport Book Two

Shadows Out of the Sky by Brick Marlin (horror)

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About Shadow Out of the Sky: A scarecrow crucified on a wooden cross made from a pair of two-by-fours sits in a field of corn, placed there to frighten away birds and protect the crops. Under its straw hat large buttons pose as its eyes, placed there by child’s fingers, view something sinister in the grave sky, appearing in front of the full moon.

Twisting, it forms into a sleek black mass, peering down upon the town of Woodbury. Four demons called The Reckoning has pulled this shadow, this urban legend from the past, out of an unmarked grave to bring terror across the planet, shoving it toward an apocalypse.

Now it cuts through the air, as if it were opening wounds in flesh, peering down at the first house that it hovers over…

Shadow Out of the Sky is Book One of the Transitional Delusions Series

Blue Spirit by E Chris Garrison (Paranormal/Contemporary Fantasy)

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About Blue Spirit: Gamer girl Skye MacLeod can see fairies, but only when she’s tipsy. More Grimm than enchanting, some of these fairies are out to ruin her life, wreaking havoc with her job, her home, and her relationships.

With the help of her tiny fairy friend Minnie, Skye has to protect her vampire wannabe gamer friends from all-too-real supernatural threats only she can see. Can she keep it together and hold fast against a wicked fairy Queen’s plot?

Blue Spirit is the first book of A Tipsy Fairy Tale series!

Silver Tongue by AshleyRose Sullivan (Alt History)

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About Silver Tongue: The Colonies lost the Revolutionary War. Now it’s 1839 and the North American continent is divided into three territories: New Britannia, Nueva Espana, and Nouvelle France where seventeen-year-old Claire Poissant lives.

Claire has a magical way with words-literally. But a mystical power of persuasion isn’t the only thing that makes her different. Half-French and half-Indian, Claire doesn’t feel at home in either world. Maybe that’s why she’s bonded so tightly with her fellow outcasts and best friends: Phileas, a young man whose towering intellect and sexuality have always made him the target of bullies, and Sam, a descendant of George Washington who shares the disgraced general’s terrible, secret curse.

But when Sam’s family is murdered, these bonds are tested and Claire’s special ability is strained to its limits as the three hunt the men responsible into dangerous lands. Along the way they cross paths with P.T. Barnum, William Frankenstein and other characters from both history and fantasy as they learn the hard way that man is often the most horrific monster and that growing up sometimes means learning to let go of the things you hold most dear.

Genre Writing: discussions and articles

Published June 17, 2015 by admin

I’ve been part of some really great genre discussions lately, so I want to make sure to share that for all the writerly types out there. And yes, I apparently do live on Sean Taylor’s blog in my off time.

Last week’s roundtable involved Cross Genre writing, and since this is totally my jam, I had a lot to say – as did some other talented folks. 

” I definitely don’t shy away from blending genres, though. To me it can bring up interesting twists and things the reader may not expect, as well as provide some really nice metaphors, as well. If it doesn’t read well, or seems to forced, I absolutely won’t do it, but if it gives the characters more room to play, if it enriches the world, if it expands the story, I’m game for anything.”

I did an article on Listening to Your Characters, as well. Honestly, sometimes I feel like genre authors depend too much on this sense of control to move the plot along. This is my response to that.

“Don’t get me wrong, we all get excited about particular plot elements that are going to blow minds, we all get nervous about word counts, but if an author is intent on getting the best possible story, sometimes you need to stop yourself in your tracks and listen to your characters.

Would they actually react to a situation the way you assume they would? What might actually come out of their mouths if forced into the specific scene or confrontation you have in mind? If you’re honest with yourself, the answers might surprise you.”

Here’s a great roundtable on why a lot of us started writing. A fun examination of what prompts people to put pen to paper. We all have our reasons, it turns out!

“I’ve always been surrounded by storytellers and stories to some extent. At some point it was a natural progression from playing pretend with my dolls to writing those adventures out (badly) on my toy typewriter…”