EMERGE by Tobie Easton: YA Fantasy with Humor and Heart

emerge

Image from Amazon.com

Imagine being a teenager who has to deal with the challenges of not one but two societies: human and Mer.

EMERGE is a fun, unexpected read that adds some major twists to the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale: “The Little Mermaid.” For someone who grew up with Disney’s The Little Mermaid (and obsessed over the thing to the point that my entire bedroom was mermaid themed), this book has an added charm. I could tell Easton had a lot of fun defining her story against popular culture’s idea of mermaids and their history.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads.com:

Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she’s never lived in the ocean. War has ravaged the seven seas ever since the infamous Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped Mer of their immortality. Lia has grown up in a secret community of land-dwelling Mer hidden among Malibu’s seaside mansions. Her biggest problems are surviving P.E. and keeping her feelings for Clay Ericson in check. Sure, he’s gorgeous in that cocky, leather jacket sort of way and makes her feel like there’s a school of fish swimming in her stomach, but getting involved with a human could put Lia’s entire community at risk.

So it’s for the best that he’s dating that new girl, right? That is, until Lia finds out she isn’t the only one at school keeping a potentially deadly secret. And this new girl? Her eyes are dead set on Clay, who doesn’t realize the danger he’s in. If Lia hopes to save him, she’ll have to get closer to Clay. Lia’s parents would totally flip if they found out she was falling for a human boy, but the more time she spends with him, the harder it is for her to deny her feelings. After making a horrible mistake, Lia will risk everything to stop Clay from falling in love with the wrong girl.

Easton takes time to lovingly build a story world around Lia from Mer including history, language, clothing, housing, cultural traditions and so much more. While reading, I not only felt like a part of Mer society, but I enjoyed all the little details Easton wove into her vivid descriptions of setting.

Humor is a huge part of EMERGE. Easton’s Mermaid puns had me laughing out loud, and her voice kept me turning pages. It’s fun to imagine being Lia (girl gets to live in a Malibu mansion and she’s a mermaid??), and I couldn’t wait for her to kiss hottie, Clay. 🙂

I hope you enjoy this book and check out Tobie Easton’s website!

What’s your favorite mermaid tale?

Michelle Joyce Bond

Craft Books

Hey, fellow writers! The following is a list of my all-time favorite craft books with some of my thoughts on each and links to Goodreads for more information.

I’d love to hear from you about your favorites as well. Please feel free to share them in the comments section. 🙂

on writing romanceON WRITING ROMANCE: HOW TO CRAFT A NOVEL THAT SELLS by Leigh Michaels

This is one of the first craft books I ever picked up. Once upon a time, I figured out that the romance plot was central to all my stories and began seeking sources to help me. This book was an incredible eye-opener. On Writing Romance begins with the history of the romance novel and moves to particulars about its craft including subgenres, character-building, and conflict.

Read more about this title on Goodreads by clicking here.

 

THANKS, BUT THIS ISN’T FOR US by Jessica Page MorrellTHANKS BUT

The full title of this book says it all: Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us: The Compassionate Guide to Understanding What’s Wrong With Your Writing and Leaving the Rejection Pile for Good. Morrell is one of my all-time favorites. You’ll see two more titles by her on this list. In this book, she uses her unique sense of humor and relatable examples to share common errors newbie writers need to know. Also, the cover is adorable.

Read more about Morrell’s title on Goodreads by clicking here.

 

GMCGMC: GOAL, MOTIVATION AND CONFLICT by Debra Dixon

This is an indispensable look at the very heart of any story. I’ve read blog and portions of craft books that cover this topic, but I enjoy the depth to which Dixon takes it. You can have all the beautiful prose in the world, but if your story lacks a strong foundation, you will lose your reader.

Read more about Dixon’s title on Goodreads by clicking here.

 

BULLIES, BASTARDS & BITCHES: HOW TO WRITE THE BAD GUYS IN FICTION by Jessica Page Morrellbullies bitches

Did you get a kick out of the title? I did. 🙂

In this book, Morrell goes deep into the antagonist–offering character types, pitfalls, and advice on strengthening your bad guys. Go deep into the dark side.

For more on Morrell’s book, click here.

 

on writingON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT by Stephen King

An incredibly inspiring book by some writer of whom I’m sure you’ve never heard. 🙂 But in all seriousness, this is an incredible all-around book that is part life, part writing, part wisdom.

For more on King’s book, click here.

 

 

WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maassbreakout novel

This is an all-around great book that offers writing techniques to help your work stand out in the slush pile.

Read more about Maass’s book by clicking here.

 

 

between the linesBETWEEN THE LINES: MASTER THE SUBTLE ELEMENTS OF FICTION WRITING by Jessica Page Morrell

This is a fabulous book to read during the revision process. It’s a lot to take in, so I suggest reading a bit, applying, and going back for more. In this book, Morrell “shows you how to craft a unified and layered novel or short story by mastering subtle storytelling techniques” (Goodreads blurb).

Read more about Morrell’s title by clicking here.

THE SIREN by Kiera Cass: The Perfect Beach Read

siren

Image from Goodreads.com

A good beach read doesn’t have to have anything to do with the beach. It doesn’t need sea or sand or romance. But if it contains these qualities and compounds them with a spark–a voice. Magic. Well then, that’s my perfect beach read.

This book is so much more than its gorgeous cover (though that doesn’t hurt–jeez, look at that thing!).  Here’s the blurb from Amazon.com:

Kahlen is a Siren, bound to serve the Ocean by luring humans to watery graves with her voice, which is deadly to any human who hears it. Akinli is human—a kind, handsome boy who’s everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love puts them both in danger . . . but Kahlen can’t bear to stay away. Will she risk everything to follow her heart?

My desire for complexity in a novel will ebb and flow depending on my mood. There are times when I’m just not in the mood for extreme world-building, complex societies, etc. Sometimes (beachtimes) I just want something simple. A world with one type of supernatural being to track. A universe that is closer to our own–where most people don’t access the supernatural. A closed world. A tight, little romance.

THE SIREN is just that. This is not to say that this book doesn’t have high stakes–that its characters don’t have the same depth as other novels. Kahlen has her past, her pain, and her hope for the future. But the one thing she might need to sacrifice for that future (because romance, duh) is love. To love is to die.

The concept is simple, the world–beautiful, and who wouldn’t want their own Siren dress??

Hope you enjoy this read and check out Keira Cass’s website!

Pick up any good beach reads lately?

Michelle Joyce Bond

BENEATH US Is Now a Four-Time Finalist!

four time finalistRecently, I received call from a Contest Chair, Megan Randall, who was happy to share the news that I finaled in the YA category of Virginia Romance Writers’ Fool for Love Contest! They read it. They liked it. Watch me as I dance the Watusi!

So now what? Lately, I’ve been drawing inspiration from Jodi Thomas’s RWA workshop, Why Write One Book When You Could Write a Series? and putting together a detailed plan for another three books. Quirky characters, strange magic, dark worlds, and three girls who will sacrifice everything for one small town–one small world to anchor them all. Can’t wait to get started. 🙂

What projects have you been working on lately? #amwriting much?

Michelle Joyce Bond

TORN by Erica O’Rourke–Evocative YA Paranormal Romance

torn

Image from Goodreads.com

TORN is lesson in how to write immersive, visceral fiction. I’m blow so far away, I’m drifting in the stratosphere.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon.com:

Everyone has secrets.
Even best friends.

Swirling black descends like ravens, large enough to block the glow of the streetlights. A dull roar starts like a train on the ‘L’, a far-away rumbling that grows louder as it pulls closer, until it’s directly overhead and you feel it in your chest, except this doesn’t pass you by. Verity, white-faced and eyes blazing, shouts through the din, “Run, Mo!”

Mo Fitzgerald knows about secrets. But when she witnesses her best friend’s murder, she discovers Verity was hiding things she never could have guessed. To find the answers she needs and the vengeance she craves, Mo–quiet, ordinary, unmagical Mo–will have to enter a world of raw magic and shifting alliances. And she’ll have to choose between two very different, equally dangerous guys–protective, duty-bound Colin and brash, mysterious Luc.
One wants to save her, one wants to claim her. Which would you choose?

I am huge, huge, HUGE on setting description, and this is where O’Rourke shines. Mo’s reality–all the details of her life–are rendered sharp and clear. These intense descriptions bleed into the paranormal world, making magic that much more believable.

Mo is an incredible character–a good girl driven out of her corner by incredible circumstances. This book is a tale of friendship lost as much as it is a romance. Flashes of Verity make the pain of her death fresh and real. Mo is bent on revenge, and we’re right there with her.

I’m not huge on books with love triangles, but this element works very well in TORN because Mo isn’t just torn between two guys. She’s torn between two worlds: family mob-ties in her everyday life and a world of magic introduced by hot-as-hell Luc. If I were to choose a “team,” I’d be Team Colin (sorry Luc!). Colin–construction worker by day and muscle by night–is hired by Mo’s uncle to protect her after Verity’s murder. Colin is the strong, blunt alpha-type I just can’t resist.

O’Rourke has an incredible, authentic voice, and a dark, unapologetic story-telling style that draws the reader in. She is true to her characters and is unafraid to take risks. I hope you check out this incredible title!

Read more about Erica O’Rourke and her books here!

Michelle Joyce Bond

THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER by Melida Salisbury –Dark YA Fantasy

sin eater

Image from Amazon.com

This YA debut left me spellbound. The cover of THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER encapsulates both character and concept. Twylla is trapped–bound by duty and myth to her country’s castle. Destined to be queen, Twylla is also poison–her skin enough to kill anyone unfortunate enough to touch her. That is, except for the prince.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads.com:

I am the perfect weapon.
I kill with a single touch.

Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has it’s price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla’s fatal touch.

Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla’s chilling role to the girls she truly is.

Yet in a court as dangerous and the queen’s, some truths should not be told…

This novel’s high concept hooked me immediately, but it was Twylla herself that reeled me in. Conflicted by a duty assigned to her by fate and what she feels is right, Twylla is an incredibly complex character. And she isn’t the only one. The prince, the queen, and Twylla’s guard, Lief are each revealed to have incredible depth.

The play of imagery in this book and feast of the senses draws the reader deep into Twylla’s opulent and twisted world. Salisbury’s world-building reaches wide in terms of geography and deep in terms of history. She’s thought the fabric of this society through, its enemy kingdom upholding a different mythology, history, and set of values.

Twylla’s guard, Leif, is from that kingdom–a place that questions the traditions Twylla and her people have stubbornly held up for centuries. Through the course of the book, Twylla opens up to seeing both the world and herself from a completely different perspective. Salisbury achieves this transition in her character masterfully.

Check out Melinda Salisbury’s website for more on this author and her books!

Michelle Joyce Bond