Thursday, December 18, 2014

Blog Tour: BURN BABY, BURN BABY by Kevin Craig


12/18 Blog Tour Stop: Excerpt and Giveaways

http://ktcraig.com/2014/12/08/burn-baby-burn-baby-blog-tour-begins-novel-4-releases-dec-11th/



We've got an important EXCERPT on today's Burn Baby Burn Baby Blog Tour Stop. This is the scene where Francis Fripp meets Rachel Higgins, all the while trying to avoid setting off his rival, Brandon Hayley from bullying him again.

I'll also be posting my review of Burn Baby Burn Baby on my blog. I hope you'll check out what I had to say about it, and I hope you'll enter to win via the links below, and snag yourself a copy of Kevin's latest book, too. Thanks for stopping by. Have a look around while you're here.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Craig is the author of three previous novels; Summer on Fire, Sebastian’s Poet, and The Reasons. He is a 4-time winner of the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s Best Novel Award. Kevin is also a playwright and has had eight 10-minute plays produced. His most recent plays were included in Driftwood Theatre’s Trafalgar24 Play Creation Festival and the InspiraTO Festival at the Alumnae Theatre in Toronto. Kevin’s poetry, short stories, memoir and articles have been published internationally Kevin was a founding member of the Ontario Writers’ Conference and a long-time member of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR). He is represented by literary agent Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group.


BURN BABY BURN BABY SYNOPSIS

Seventeen-year-old Francis Fripp’s confidence is practically non-existent since his abusive father drenched him in accelerant and threw a match at him eight years ago. Now badly scarred, Francis relies on his best friend Trig to protect him from the constant bullying doled out at the hands of his nemesis, Brandon Hayley—the unrelenting boy who gave him the dreaded nickname of Burn Baby.

The new girl at school, Rachel Higgins, is the first to see past Francis’s pariah-inducing scars. If Brandon’s bullying doesn’t destroy him, Francis might experience life as a normal teenager for the first time in his life. He just has to avoid Brandon and convince himself he’s worthy of Rachel’s attentions. Sounds easy enough, but Francis himself has a hard time seeing past his scars. And Brandon is getting violently frustrated, as his attempts to bully Francis are constantly thwarted. Francis is in turmoil as he simultaneously rushes toward his first kiss and a possible violent end.

http://www.amazon.com/Burn-Baby-Kevin-Craig-ebook/dp/B00O26GFG6/ref=la_B005AO83T6_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418728774&sr=1-1

EXCERPT

I’m on my own in the morning. Trig has all advanced classes. He’s perfect in every way. I’m a slacker on Day Two of our schedule. Easy math and art in the morning. We’re probably going to be building houses with pipe cleaners, or something just as lame, in art. And math? Whatever. One plus one equals I don’t give a crap.

In math, I feel something hitting my back and I turn around to see Brandon Hayley smiling at me with his oversized pearly whites. His cohorts are laughing, egging him on. He shrugs as if to say, What? What’d I do?

I turn back and try to look like I’m interested in the mathematical equation that Mr. McDonald is scribbling on the blackboard in hieroglyphs. I’m a really bad faker.

Soon it starts hitting me again. I know what it is without turning around. Spitballs. And they’re sticking to the back of my shirt, skeeving me out. If Trig was here, it wouldn’t be happening. But he can’t be everywhere.

I hear an argument break out behind me. By the time I turn around, everybody’s pretending to be interested in the blackboard. But I see Rachel Higgins, the new girl, in the corner, looking really pissed off. When she sees me, she smiles lamely.

Like a retard, Brandon waves at me. I blush and turn back toward the board, but not before realizing how intently Rachel is looking at me. Did she stop them?

“Okay, my little piggies,” Mr. McDonald says as he finishes scribbling his meaningless gobbledegook. “Who can tell me the answer to this one? Don’t go blowing your brains out over it. Take a few minutes. Look at it. I promise you, it’s an easy one. And everybody here should know it. This is review. It’s June next week. Come on, now.”

His voice begins small, but climbs to a near yell as he gets to the end of his little spiel. He’s looking at us. Thirty faces staring back at him, all seemingly clueless. Some, like me, really don’t have the foggiest idea what’s going on in his chalk mess. But others, I’m sure, just don’t want to be called upon.

“Mr. Hayley,” McDonald says. “Come on, my pretty little piggy. Give us a breakdown. What’s the answer? I think I heard a rumble from you while I was jotting that down. Why don’t you come on up to the board and give us a run through?”

“No,” Brandon says. “I’m good, sir. Thanks, though.” There’s a little burst of laughter. Quiet, nervous laughter.

“Oh no, Mr. Hayley,” McDonald says, raising his voice again. “I don’t think you understood me there. That wasn’t a request. It was a demand. I’ll have you come up to the board now and walk us through this excruciatingly difficult equation. Come on, now. That’s a good little piggy.”
Now everyone is giggling under their breath. Everyone but me. I know not to rock the boat where Brandon Hayley is concerned. He could probably crack me open like a walnut.




Giveaways




Goodreads Giveaway: 12/11/14 to 1/11/15


Twitter Giveaway: Follow the link and Retweet (RT) to be entered to win


Book Review: BURN BABY, BURN BABY by Kevin Craig

Burn Baby, Burn BabyCheck out my other reviews for Kevin's books: Summer on Fire, Sebastian's Poet, and The Reasons.


























Burn Baby, Burn Baby by Kevin Craig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Francis Fripp, the self-loathing MC of BURN BABY, BURN BABY by Kevin Craig will singe you. After all, he's dragging along the haunting memories of what his father did to him scarred across his face. Francis sees his life like a movie, panning in and out of scenes as if he's not even there, or maybe just an unimportant prop in the action of his own life. The voice of Francis is spot-on, sarcastic and cynical teen boy. As you keep reading, you'll understand why he's so calloused and hardened.

With each page, I felt the tendrils of smoke curling upward, which may have caused me to tear up a few times. Having read all of Kevin's books, I'd say BBBB captures the real-life quality of fully-realized characters as seen in Kevin's brilliant debut, SUMMER ON FIRE, and brings the emotional fortitude of THE REASONS, Kevin's strongest work thus far, with an ease only a seasoned writer could bring. This makes me incredibly excited for Kevin's upcoming book, HALF DEAD AND FULLY BROKEN. I love reading his male-centered YA books, since YA is primarily female-driven MCs, and Kevin is an author who landed on my auto-read list of authors. His contemporary is page-turning, richly-developed characters, and stories with twists and turns that leave the reader gasping for breath. I find myself reading most of his books in a single sitting. I can't wait to read every word, and BBBB is no exception.

I loved the relationship between Francis and Rachel. It reminded me of Eleanor and Park. They seem to be such opposites at first, but as you read, you'll understand their attraction is much deeper than their affinity for Shakespeare in the park (a section I absolutely loved!).

Trip was an interesting and complicated choice for Best Friend. He's Francis's protector when it comes to his nemesis, Brandon, the boy who named him Burn Baby. But that same fierceness comes with a price. He's often seen lashing out at those around him, with an aggression that goes largely unchecked, and which could turn on you in an instant. I found myself making comparisons with Francis's father (shudders) and Brandon. This makes Trip the kind of foil character that only an expert writer could pull off. The way the plot weaves together, I found Kevin's use of his characters such an enjoyable part of the experience.

Francis was right. It reads like a movie, and I hope Hollywood is paying attention. With so many other fine YA books going to the movies, I hope we get to see one or more of Kevin's works up on the big screen, big as life.

As Francis slowly comes out of his shell, with the patience and coaxing of Rachel, who sees past his scars to the boy inside and out, he must decide if he can finally let his past go, or grip it with both hands and light it up to burn for a world in need of a survivor as strong as Francis Fripp. The ending left me wanting more, and I hope we'll revisit Francis and Rachel and the others soon.

Highly recommended. A fast read that will make you feel for those who face bullies every day, and still manages to warm your heart despite these hardships.


*Thank you to Curiosity Quills Press for providing me with an eARC in exchange for a honest review.

View all my reviews

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cover Reveal: Half Dead and Fully Broken by Kevin Craig

Once again, Eugene Teplitsky has done it! Eugene, from Kevin Craig's publisher, CURIOSITY QUILLS PRESS, has created a stunningly beautiful cover for Kevin's 5th novel, HALF DEAD &  FULLY BROKEN!
Half Dead releases JANUARY 19th, but you can pre-order it today on #Amazon! Simply click on the link below!

HALF DEAD &  FULLY BROKEN

Now, without further ado, the cover!


image
Half Dead & Fully Broken Synopsis:

Carter Colby is the most unpopular teen at Jefferson High. This would be easier to deal with if his identical twin brother, Marcus, weren’t the hottest, most popular boy in school.
When Marcus is killed in a motorcycle accident, Carter discovers the one thing more painful than trying to compete with Mr. Wonderful: wearing his dead brother’s face.
He felt invisible before the accident, but with Marcus dead everybody turns away from him in mourning. How can he blame them? He can’t bear to look in the mirror.
When Carter begins to see Marcus’s ghost, Mr. Wonderful’s quest to save the world and spread happiness may not be over after all, even in death. Marcus knows that Justin Dewar, the boy who drove the truck that crashed into his motorbike, is struggling with the guilt of taking a life. Melanie, Marcus’s mourning girlfriend, was also hard hit by the tragedy. Marcus wants to make things right before it’s too late.
With Marcus’s help, Carter experiences love and friendship for the first time in his life. But is Mr. Wonderful’s helping hand enough for Carter, Melanie, and Justin – three kids fully broken by the tragedy – to save one another?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Kevin Craig is the author of four previous novels; Summer on Fire, Sebastian’s Poet, Burn Baby Burn Baby, and The Reasons. He is a 4-time winner of the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s Best Novel Award. HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN won their 2010 Best Young Adult Novel Award. Kevin is currently finishing Book #2 of The Carter Colby Series.

Kevin is also a playwright and has had eight 10-minute plays produced. His most recent plays were included in Driftwood Theatre’s Trafalgar24 Play Creation Festival and the InspiraTO Festival at the Alumnae Theatre in Toronto. Kevin’s poetry, short stories, memoir and articles have been published internationally. Kevin was a founding member of the Ontario Writers’ Conference and he is a long-time member of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR). He is represented by literary agent Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group.

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My Amazon Page - Check out Kevin Craig's novels!

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Find Kevin Craig OnlineWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Book Review: FAKING NORMAL by Courtney C. Stevens

Faking NormalFaking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the kind of brutally honest that reads like brave and a hug all rolled into one, which is odd. Hugs aren't brave. Somehow this is: a brave little hug, and I needed that.

Alexi and Bodee were perfect and created a nice foil to Alexi's sister Kayla and Kayla's on again off again boyfriend, Craig, who's practically family. I also enjoyed the well-developed friendships between Alexi, Heather, and Liz. Their car and classroom banter made for great reading and kept me turning pages.

This book is not afraid to face tough subject matter. It starts with a funeral. Alexi can't stop from scratching at her neck when she's overwhelmed by memories from what happened this summer, and she'd rather do anything than talk about it with anyone. So, instead, she counts the space between the vent above her bed, writes song lyrics on the desk in 4th period and waits for "Captain Lyric" to reply. She might even be falling for him, which is a whole lot better for Alexi than the line up of boy bait Heather keeps parading before her. Dane, Hayden, the football team. Or maybe she'd be more comfortable with Bodee. After all, she can't seem to lie to him, even when he notices things no one else does. And when Bodee moves in as Alexi's mom's pet project, things between Alexi and Bodee are all kinds of awkward and extremely close at the same time. They've got a great friendship going, and if Alexi isn't careful, she could ruin everything that's working for her.

As bits and pieces of Alexi's past unfold, several possible suspects come forth as the likely culprit of who hurt Alexi bad enough to make her want to keep hurting herself for not stopping him. Why can't she say no? Why can't she speak up for herself? What's beneath the surface, that she keeps trying to scratch at to come out? Will we ever figure out the truth?

Well, truth does have a way of working its way to the surface, but not in the way you'd think. The special code language of song lyrics is one avenue. It's somehow safe to use what's said (and especially what's unsaid) in song lyrics, that allows Alexi and Captain Lyric to discuss these unspoken matters that trouble her so, and on the top of that list: Who is Captain Lyric? So, we've got to figure out who hurt her, and who Captain Lyric is, and while we're at it, which boy is right for Alexi? Who should she got to prom with? This is where it all gets good.

Alexi can put on a good front. She "Fakes Normal" with the best of them. But underneath the veneer, she's got a lot to sort out and face, if she can channel brave long enough to find her voice and speak the truth. As Alexi and Bodee grow closer, they help each other to find a way to speak to those dark places neither wants to face, and Alexi's tree fort is a great and safe place to start.

I was shocked by the ending, and found the way the story resolved hugely satisfying. I am amazed by this debut, and I've added Courtney Stevens to my short list of "auto read" authors. FAKING NORMAL is a must read, and should be required reading for high schools, who need to talk about this important topic.

I think my heart was stabbed with knitting needles a few dozen times by all that happens between Alexi, and Bodee, the KoolAid Kid, named for the way he changes hair colors like jeans. I sure hope we're not done with these characters. I see there's a prequel, but I need a duology to find out what happens next. There was a start, but definitely not a finish. So much left wide open to figure out, and I'm betting on a slightly different response from Mom and Dad, so there's that. What a stunning and well-articulated debut, full of subtle nuances, and brilliant characters I won't soon forget. Breathtaking and beautiful.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cover Reveal: Burn Baby Burn Baby by Kevin Craig

Curiosity Quills is excited to reveal the cover for contemporary, young-adult Burn Baby Burn Baby, by Kevin Craig, which is due for release December 11, 2014. The cover was designed by CQ managing partner Eugene Teplitsky:

Burn Baby Burn 1000


About Burn Baby Burn Baby: Seventeen-year-old Francis Fripp’s confidence is practically non-existent since his abusive father drenched him in accelerant and threw a match at him eight years ago. Now badly scarred, Francis relies on his best friend Trig to protect him from the constant bullying doled out at the hands of his nemesis, Brandon Hayley—the unrelenting boy who gave him the dreaded nickname of Burn Baby.

The new girl at school, Rachel Higgins, is the first to see past Francis’s pariah-inducing scars. If Brandon’s bullying doesn’t destroy him, Francis might experience life as a normal teenager for the first time in his life. He just has to avoid Brandon and convince himself he’s worthy of Rachel’s attentions. Sounds easy enough, but Francis himself has a hard time seeing past his scars. And Brandon is getting violently frustrated, as his attempts to bully Francis are constantly thwarted. Francis is in turmoil as he simultaneously rushes toward his first kiss and a possible violent end.

Add Burn Baby Burn Baby to your Goodreads 'to-be-read' list.

Kevin Craig - Author pic

About The Author: Kevin Craig is the author of three previous novels; Summer on Fire, Sebastian’s Poet, and The Reasons. He is a 4-time winner of the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s Best Novel Award. Kevin is also a playwright and has had eight 10-minute plays produced. His poetry, short stories, memoir and articles have been published internationally. Kevin was a founding member of the Ontario Writers’ Conference and a long-time member of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR). He is represented by literary agent Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group.

Find Kevin Craig Online: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Review: INTO THE FIRE by Kelly Hashway writing as Ashelyn Drake

http://www.chapter-by-chapter.com/tour-schedule-into-the-fire-by-ashelyn-drake-presented-by-month9books/
 
Seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s life is a perfectly normal one until Logan Schmidt moves to Ashlan Falls. Cara is inexplicably drawn to him, but she’s not exactly complaining. Logan’s like no boy she’s ever met, and he brings out a side of Cara that she isn’t used to. As the two get closer, everything is nearly perfect, and Cara looks forward to the future.
But Cara isn’t a normal girl. She’s a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical phoenix bird, and her time is running out. Rebirth is nearing, which means she’ll forget her life up to this point—she’ll forget Logan and everything they mean to one another.. But that may be the least of Cara’s problems. 
A phoenix hunter is on the loose, and he’s determined to put an end to the lives of people like Cara and her family, once and for all.
ITF-Cover 

add to goodreads
 
Into the Fire by Ashelyn Drake
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books
 
Grab your copy today, but watch out, you might get singed!
 

ABOUT KELLY HASHWAY writing as ASHELYN DRAKE:
 
 
Ashelyn Drake is a New Adult and Young Adult romance author. While it’s rare for her not to have either a book in hand or her fingers flying across a laptop, she also enjoys spending time with her family. She believes you are never too old to enjoy a good swing set and there’s never a bad time for some dark chocolate. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.
 
 
 
Author Links:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
 
 
 Book Review: INTO THE FIRE by Kelly Hashway writing as Ashelyn Drake

 
I have been waiting for this book and this series for quite some time. I heard about it years ago, way before it was sold to Month9Books and back before Kelly took off as a published author with her first series, TOUCH OF DEATH. Needless to say, I had high expectations, and Kelly has delivered in flames of fire licking every page, scorching me with her characters of Cara and Logan, and singeing my fingertips as I turned each page. Okay, I lied. As I swiped each ePage. I read an eCopy of the book. You get the idea.
 
First of all, I loved that this book is written in alternating first person POV. It's not an easy feat to pull off. You have to know which character perspective to write from for each chapter, to best capture all of the tension for each point along the way. Kelly did an amazing job with this, and I was delighted to see her pull off a convincing male character in Logan, among others.
 
As I read, I got hooked and drawn into the story, and I didn't mind the excessive kissing all the time. I might have flinched like the boy in Princess Bride, whose grandfather comes over to read him the story, and he asks glibly: "Is this a kissing book?" The answer is: most definitely, YES.
 
I loved the concept of the race of beings who appear human, but are actually descendants of Phoenixes. I have a penchant for phoenixes, and dragons. In fact, I've got a tattoo on my right upper arm from my shoulder down to just above where my shirt sleeve ends above the elbow. Sure, a glimpse flashes here and there, and I've been asked about it more than once, but I love my tattoo of a dragon entwined with a phoenix, and the meaning. I hope book 2 and 3 will explore the Phoenix lore a bit more. While it was referenced well, throughout the book, I did want more, but I guess there wasn't much room because, you guessed it. Kissing. That's way more important, anyway.
 
I found the traits of a phoenix, before first rebirth and beyond, fascinating. Some traits are positives, like healing, and the shriek. Other traits are not so great, like forgetting everything from your former life, and the fact that there are Hunters bent on stealing the life force or essence from a phoenix to gain prolonged life and eventual immortality. This definitely raised the stakes when Phoenixes started "going up in flames" due to a Hunter on the loose.
 
At the center of the story is Cara, who must face her first rebirth just when her life finally delivered the boy of her dreams, and she's convinced the premonition dream she keeps having holds the key to finding a way to avoid forgetting about the boy she can't stop kissing.
 
The climax was horrific, and brought me right to the end, with a cliffhanger that left me begging for more, despite the elevated heat scorching me with every flickering page. This is a must read series for male and female readers alike. I thoroughly enjoyed Kelly's characters and how her chapters are riddled with plot twists and huge stakes. I have a few ideas where I think the next book will go, but I'll wait to discuss until after you've all read your copies and told all your friends to get copies as well. Plus, you can win your very own copy via the widget below.
 
4 out of 5 stars, or shrieking phoenixes, because, you know, phoenixes.
 
Highly, highly recommended. A must read.

 
 
 
 
 
 
ENTER THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN:
 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

10 Truths I Learned as a Result of my Abuse

 
***TRIGGER WARNING***

This blog post is a departure from my typical postings about writing, books and related topics. You may or may not want to read about the topic I'm speaking about today. I share from my own experience as a survivor, and my purpose is to build myself and others up. I respect your right to avoid such topics, so I am posting this disclaimer.

Thank you for your understanding.

***TRIGGER WARNING***

Please come back on Friday to read my review of INTO THE FIRE by Kelly Hashway writing as Ashelyn Drake for her INTO THE FIRE blog tour.