Monday, March 30, 2015

Surviving Bear Island, by Paul Greci

I just finished an excellent MG debut the other day. Surviving Bear Island is Alaska author Paul Greci's debut novel. Before I get to my reaction, here is the summary from Goodreads:

Could You Survive? After a sea kayaking trip with his father takes a dangerous turn, Tom Parker is stranded on the remote, outer coast of unpopulated Bear Island in the waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska. With only a small survival kit in his pocket, Tom finds himself soaked and freezing, and worst of all - alone. Desperate to find his father, Tom doesn't know how long he can survive and must put his survival skills to the test as he fights to reach safety. Will Tom make it through this wilderness full of bears and other dangers? Tom's story will have readers on the edge of their seats as they journey with him over the rough terrain of Alaska. They will absorb facts about survival as they watch Tom struggle to make things work, discovering Alaska from a first-person point of view. On another level, this story shows the sometimes fragile relationship between parents and children and how we can draw on what our parents have taught us in times of need. It also shows the courage and will to survive of a boy in dire circumstances and the triumph of never giving up.

Full disclosure: Paul Greci is a friend of mine, and one of my co-authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem, and I received a print ARC of this novel from him, with no obligation to review. I'm reviewing it because I enjoyed it, and I think other readers would as well.

So, what I really enjoyed most about this book was its authenticity. I've never been to Alaska, but I have been solo camping, and I have lived in the wilderness and out of a backpack for six weeks, and I have started fires with the metal match method (flint and magnesium shavings) and the bowdrill method (this is so difficult I'm relatively certain they were just messing with us), so I know a little bit about what Tom went through, and I must say that the story felt completely genuine at all times to me.

Tom endures extremely difficult conditions and circumstances, and though of course he suffers through his trauma with the occasionally poor judgment and lack of experience that most children his age would, he manages to find the determination in his will to live to survive. The story is sad, and at times stressful, but ultimately it left me feeling hopeful, and with a renewed sense of appreciation for the passion it takes to truly feel alive.

Greci also pulls off quite a feat in this story in that in 95% of the book, Tom is all alone, with no one to talk to, and therefore no dialog to carry the pacing or vary the story structure, and yet he kept me interested from page to page, weaving a tale that was rife with tension and although it didn't move at breakneck pace, never seemed to slow down enough to give me a chance to breathe.

This worked out well, making Surviving Bear Island a quick and enjoyable read, and one that will remain in my mind for some time, both for what it pulled off in the sense of dramatic structure, and for being an impressive MG debut from an author I will be putting on my to be watched list.

I would recommend this one for readers 10 and up, and especially for boys who might be reluctant to make the jump to novel length works.

In exciting news, Surviving Bear Island's publisher, Move Books, has agreed to give away one copy of the novel to one reader of this post. All you have to do is leave a comment stating that you (or someone you know like a child or friend) are interested in reading this book. Please also be sure the account you comment with is linked to an email address so that the publisher can contact you for your mailing address. You have until 6 AM, Wednesday morning, the first of April, to comment.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cover Reveal: A Change of Mind and Other Stories by Nick Wilford



Title: A Change of Mind and Other Stories
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: Contemporary speculative fiction
Cover Design: Rebekah Romani
Release Date: May 25th 2015

A Change of Mind and Other Stories consists of a novella, four short stories and one flash fiction piece. This collection puts the extremes of human behaviour under the microscope with the help of lashings of dark humour, and includes four pieces previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine.

In A Change of Mind, Reuben is an office worker so meek and mild he puts up with daily bullying from his boorish male colleagues as if it’s just a normal part of his day. But when a stranger points him in the direction of a surgeon offering a revolutionary new procedure, he can’t pass up the chance to turn his life around.

But this isn’t your average surgeon. For a start, he operates alone in a small room above a mechanic’s. And he promises to alter his patients’ personality so they can be anything they want to be…

In Marissa, a man who is determined to find evidence of his girlfriend’s infidelity ends up wondering if he should have left well alone.

The Dog God finds a chink in the armour of a man with a megalomaniacal desire to take over the world.

In The Insomniac, a man who leads an obsessively regimented lifestyle on one hour’s sleep a night finds a disruption to his routine doesn’t work for him.

Hole In One sees a dedicated golfer achieving a lifelong ambition.

The Loner ends the collection on a note of hope as two family members try to rebuild their lives after they are torn apart by jealousy.


Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working, he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. You can find him hanging out on his blog or on Goodreads or Twitter.

Preorder Links: Amazon US, Amazon UK
Add it on Goodreads

Monday, March 23, 2015

Theme Reveal Blogfest: 2015 April A to Z Challenge

Today is the theme reveal blogfest for the 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge! In past years, (2013 and 2012) I have focused on Etymologies (which you can see here for 2012 and here for 2013, if you'd like) but this year I'll be doing something different (you run out of words for X pretty quickly, which is why it's a Challenge, I suppose).

This year, I'll be focusing on stories for my theme. Basically, I'll just be posting a short summary of a favorite story whose title begins with the letter for that day of the challenge. It might be a film, a TV show, a book, a play, or maybe even a famous legend, but whatever it is, it will be short and sweet, because the point of the challenge is discovering new blogs, and networking more than it is focusing on yourself or your own posts.

What will your 2015 April A to Z Blogging Challenge theme be? Be sure to visit as many of the participating blogs as you can, listed at the main A to Z Challenge blog, here!

My assistants for this year's challenge are Sylvie from Life from An Optimist's Point of View, and Carrie-Anne Brownian/Ursula Hartlein from Welcome to My Magick Theatre. Please make sure you visit both their blogs and follow them!

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Call for Minions: 2015 April A to Z Challenge

It's that time of year again!

Yes, I know I skipped it last year, and to be honest, I'm not sure if I know what I'm getting into this year, but I've barely been blogging lately, so I thought signing up to co-host the April A to Z Blogging Challenge again this year might help kickstart my blogging bug again.

And that's where you come in!

I know no one reads this blog anymore, but hopefully a few people might see this who are participating in the Challenge, and know me or have read my posts in the past, and might be willing to help out.

If you're interested, let me know in the comments, and you can be on my team for the challenge.

Some co-hosts are calling their helpers minions, others muffins, others probably random other names I haven't seen yet. I don't have anything that creative to call mine, but I think just friends or helpers is good enough.

What will you need to do?

Basically, help me police the list. This year looks to be a little less crazy than previous years so far, but in the past thousands of blogs have joined the Challenge. That's a lot of entries to check to make sure people are participating, have necessary adult content warnings, and aren't just advertising or spam blogs.

Even with the number of co-hosts we have, it's not enough to police thousands of blogs, so we all enlist a few helpers. In 2013, the last time I co-hosted, I had 5 assistants. You can read about them here. I'm hoping to have as many this year, but would be willing to accept more if people are really interested.

Also, I completely forgot to blog the other day to mention my Five Year Blogiversary! I started my blog on March 3rd 2010, and it has now been over five years I've been doing this. I'm met some of the most amazing people, and even though I don't blog as much lately as I used to, I still love it, and do miss it.

How long have you been blogging? Are you joining the A to Z Challenge?

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if you're interested in being an assistant!