Cooper, Gordy, and Hiro witness a robbery and an attack one night at their favorite milkshake restaurant that leaves the owner in a coma and them the only witnesses. They make a pact—a code of silence—not to tell anyone what they saw. But the lie weighs heavily on their minds. Cooper left his backpack at the restaurant, and the police are looking for him! But so are the bad guys and Cooper is afraid to talk to anyone.
Fabulous! I loved this book. It drew me in from the first page and I read it in a day. Cooper, Gordy, and Hiro are three unique characters, who each deal with the stress of what they saw in different ways. The mystery continues to the last page. This is a fun read for young and old readers. Check it out!
The knights return to the Ivory Spit with Sir Eagan and Kurtz. Sir Gavin is wounded, and Sir Eagan and Vrell do what they can to help while Achan and Kurtz get into mischief in the tavern.
Fifteen-year-old Jessie Hatcher has a system to deal with her with her mom’s bipolar disorder and her own ADHD—until her father shows up. Her dead father. Apparently, mom told a little lie. And on the day her dad comes to meet her, mom ends up in the hospital. And now Jesse’s only relative is her dad, who lives in Florida, far away from all her friends. So Jesse goes, but she isn’t staying, even when she starts to like her job at the local sushi restaurant, the cute guy who works at the bike shop, and the mysterious book she “stole” from the airport.
Loved it! And let me just say, I could relate to Jessie’s randomness and mood swings. This is a really fun story about a girl who is searching. She’s had to depend on herself for so long that it’s hard for her to trust anyone. But her dad isn’t like her mom at all. It’s weird for Jesse to have an adult who cares. The writing is funny and thoughtful. The characters are fabulous, real, and struggling like the rest of us. I flew through the book and hope I’ll be able to read all the books in this series. Highly recommended.
That’s what happened to me with Shannon Dittemore’s Angel Eyes. I posted my review yesterday. Click here to read it.
There have been a lot of teen fiction books involving angels in the past few years, but no book I’ve read has dealt with angels in a biblical manner like Angel Eyes. I was enthralled and, truly, changed by this book. It was that good!
I’m so excited to introduce Shannon Dittemore and her novel Angel Eyes.
Welcome, Shannon! When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The first thing I can remember wanting to be was an astronaut. I blame that Space Camp movie. It was my childhood fascination. Eventually, I moved on to more theatrical endeavors. I’ve had the acting bug since I was young. Plays and such. I’m still in love with theatre and when my kids are older I hope to do more of that.
I loved Space Camp too! If you wanted to be something other than a writer, when did you decide to try writing books?
My first completed book was actually Angel Eyes. Before that, I’d started a story here and there, but I got serious when my daughter was a couple months old. I figured if I wanted writing to be my job, then I needed to actually write an entire book. So, I did.
Good logic, Shannon. Was it hard work, especially with a little one at home?
During those early days, the hardest part was finding time to write. With two young children at home, I became a naptime writer. And then when the story gained momentum, I’d work at night. But, I hate giving up family time and I’m an awful sleepy writer. I need the sunshine.
But, yes. It’s very hard work. The best part of the job is when the difficulties fade in light of the story you’re telling. Then, it’s fun. Then, it’s exciting.
I can relate to being a naptime writer. It’s much easier now that my kids are in school. What was your biggest obstacle as you learned to become a writer?
Rejection. Always rejection. I’m still learning. Writing through the rejection is hard because we want time to process, but sometimes we just don’t have it. In a way though, that’s good. Too much time on your hands isn’t a good thing. Taking constructive criticism and applying it is crucial to being a good writer, but dwelling on just why someone doesn’t get your work is futile. But, like I said, I’m still learning.
I’m still learning too. What do you consider one of your biggest life adventures?
Kids. Definitely kids. My kids, to be specific. They have so much energy. All-the-time energy. Wish I could harness it somehow. I like that you’re focusing on adventure. Nearly every day, I ask my kids just which adventure they’d like to go on. You know, the bookstore or the park, the library or the mall. We’re very adventurous.
I love looking at adventure through the eyes of a child because those simple things like going to the park are big adventures to them. Well, your book, Angel Eyes, is filled with adventure. Here is a little bit about the story.
Brielle’s a ballerina who went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She’s come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can’t seem to shake.
Jake’s the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.
Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what’s going to happen. And a beauty brighter than either Brielle or Jake has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start.
A realm that only angels and demons-and Brielle-can perceive.
Shannon, there have been a lot of angel books out lately. How is yours different?
Confession: I haven’t read many of the newer angel books. I do read very widely, but while I’m writing angel fiction, it’s too hard to have other angel mythology in my head. I’m weird like that, I guess. I have read Halflings by Heather Burch, and that was tons of fun. I mean, hell hounds? That’s awesome.
From what I’ve gathered though—reading flap copies and such—the biggest difference between Angel Eyes and the others is the lack of reference to the Nephilim. I don’t go there. My characters are not the offspring of an angel/human pairing. I went an entirely different direction and I think that sets it apart a bit.
Oh, and there’s the shiny gift Brielle receives from a dreamy boy. That changes just about everything.
In your book, you give readers a visual of what Brielle’s fear looks like through the eyes of an angel, which I thought was amazing. What advice might you give a reader who deals with fear in her life?
Fear is a tricky thing. You can know it has a hold on you and still, sometimes, that’s not enough to break free of it. When I think about the things fear can do in our lives—numb you, paralyze you, keep you from moving forward—I can’t help but think of death. Death does all of those things too. And death can only be broken by the Giver of Life. I suspect fear needs to be defeated by the very same victor. Take your fear to the champion of our souls. Take it to Him daily. And then leave it there. That part’s harder. Takes practice. But you know what they say about practice, right?
Yes I do! I’m going to be practicing it, Shannon. I really am. *grin* Any real-life adventures planned for the near future? If not, what is one dream that you’ve yet to live?
We just scheduled our summer trip to Disneyland. Does that count?
Yes. Disneyland always counts. I ❤ Disneyland! Went there this past March.
It’s kind of our happy place. I mean, I know it’s EVERYONE’S happy place, but we like to claim it. Pretend it belongs to us. As far as a dream I’d love to live… Now, don’t laugh, okay? But, my husband and I have decided that for our 50th anniversary we want to go to the moon. We figure by 2052 there should be sightseeing shuttles or something. So, we’re banking on it. If we can get a hotel room overlooking the Sea of Tranquility, major bonus!
LOL! I love it! Now that would be a big adventure. I wonder who gets real-estate rights on the moon. Hmm.
Shannon, what new fictional adventure are you working on now?
Right now, I’m editing Broken Wings, which is the second book in the Angel Eyes trilogy. It’s set to release in February of 2013. I’m also drafting book three which still doesn’t have a title. Drafting is fun because I get to fall in love with my characters all over again and that’s the swoony place I’m in now. I’m crazy excited about where the journey is heading and have my fingers crossed that readers will love it too.
I’m sure I will. And you can bet I’ll be pre-ordering my copy of Broken Wings as soon as I can. I’m so excited you’ve written a trilogy, and I can’t wait to read the whole thing. Thanks for chatting with me, Shannon!
Readers, check out this book! It’s such a fun read. I couldn’t put it down. And I know I’ve said that before, but seriously. It was SO very good. In fact, I just now decided that I must give away a copy. I’m going to add it to my Replication giveaway, so enter here, for a chance to win Angel Eyes!
You can read more about Shannon Dittemore on her website: http://shannondittemore.com/
And follow her on Facebook too: http://www.facebook.com/ShannonDittemore
Review by Jill Williamson
After a tragedy shatters her life, Brielle comes home to the tiny town of Stratus, Oregon. And even though her father and all her old friends are there, nothing is the same. An icy cold fear grips her at all times. She connects with a new student named Jake. With his dark skin, he looks as out of place as Brielle feels. But he is warm—unhumanly so. Somehow, they are continually thrown together, become friends, and a gift from an angel unleashes hidden powers in Jake and Brielle that draw them into a realm where angles and demons wage war.
If I could, I would give this book six stars. I was that taken with it. I’m totally serious. This is a powerful, entertaining story that stays true to scripture where angels and demons are concerned. I loved how the author did this. It’s like Peretti’s This Present Darkness meets a Melody Carlson novel or something. So very cool. And I loved the way she wrote how angels can see human fear. Whenever I’m afraid in my life, I will forever remember the image the angels see.
Brielle’s story was strong and compelling. There was an ongoing mystery, a gentle romance that didn’t overwhelm the story, and I’ve since learned that this is the first book in a trilogy, though the story stands alone on its own too. This book rocks! Very, super-duper highly recommended for teen and adult readers.
Learn more about Shannon at: http://shannondittemore.com/
Achan meets a host of prisoners from the Prodotez and tries to escape the Ice Island prison.
Thomas Nelson has released Jenny B. Jones’ Charmed Life series in one volume. Now you can get all three of Bella’s books in one. This would make a great gift for any female reader—not just teens. Although Jenny writes for teens, she tells a great story, and me and my mom are two of her biggest fans. If you haven’t read these books yet, be sure and check out this new volume.
(Click on each title to read my book reviews.)
What are Hot Buttons?
Well, in the broader sense, the phrase Hot Buttons means a lot of different things, anything really, that can get a rise out people. Something that charges them up and receives an intense reaction. For the purposes of Choose NOW Ministries, I’ve defined hot buttons as those tough issues that teenagers face–the things parents are often more afraid of and most hesitant to talk about. Some examples include:
Why not just leave it alone and let the kids figure it out? We can pray for them and trust it all to work out in the end. In some ways it does work itself out, true. Circumstances happen, pressure hits, relationships change. . .and your teens gets to figure it all out. In the heat of the moment. On their own. Hopefully they’ll make the right choice, but it’s really hard to know what will happen when the prep work isn’t done. Take an issue like dating–we talk about the boundaries. We set rules for curfew and other things. We even make sure we apprrove of the date and talk about saying no to sexual advances. Right? And that’s great. It really is. But there’s something missing. Our teens need to know what to do and what not to do, and what we expect of them, but they also need to understand why that’s going to be difficult for them. How does the body respond in ways that make it tough to say no? What will the feelings be like that make it difficult to leave the room or douse the proverbial flames? You see, if we don’t hit those truth head on before they become an issue, our teens will think it’s a secret, it’s specific to them, and we really don’t know what we’re asking them to say no to. But, if we press those hot buttons in advance, if we have the difficult conversations, then our teens will enter those pressure-filled situations armed with understanding and equipped with the words to say to stay true to their commitments. With every hot button issue, someone is feeding your tweens and teens information–do you really want that someone to be anyone other than you?
Now that you’ve made the decision to be proactive about helping your tweens and teens battle peer pressure, I love to share the principles behind the Hot Buttons book series and the method of communicating with your teens it prescribes. Each book is topical based on a single Hot Button issues and its surrounding sub-topics. For example, the Hot Buttons Internet Edition deals with social networking, pornography, predators, cyber bullying, and more. The goal isn’t to convince parents to keep their kids off the net, but rather to arm them with the tools they need to navigate it in a safe and healthy way. Same with the Dating Edition. It covers early relationships, physical boundaries, date rape, and more. Instead of just handing down rules, parents need to walk their teens through the details and equip them with the understanding of what’s out and how to rise above the peer pressure.
The final chapters of each Hot Buttons book will lead you and your family through confession and forgiveness and then help you walk into the future with a clean slate, armed with the tools you all need to face those hot buttons. If you’re a parent of teens, or you know one, I hope you’ll visit www.hotbuttonsite.com to read more Hot Buttons posts each week. Also, the first two Hot Buttons books: Dating and Internet, release on 6/1. Following soon after on 10/1 are the Sexuality and Drug editions.
Nicole O’Dell, founder of Choose NOW Ministries and host of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk, is a youth culture expert who writes and speaks to preteens, teenagers, and parents on preparing for life’s tough choices. The mother of six, including toddler triplets, she’s author of YA fiction, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the Diamond Estates Series, and non-fiction for teens including Girl Talk, 2/1/12, based on the popular advice column she writes with her two daughters. Hot Buttons, O’Dell’s non-fiction series for parents pre-empts peer pressure by tackling tough issues. Visit www.nicoleodell.com.
Robin Laughlin (aka. Failstate) is a contestant in a reality TV show called America’s Next Superhero. His goal? To become an official, licensed superhero. It doesn’t help matters that his powers are often out of control, that his handsome big brother is wining the hearts of the voters, or that Robin can’t even remove his mask or viewers would shriek from fright. When one of his competitors is murdered, Robin sets out to find the killer, hoping for justice and to prove he’s no failure.
Now, this is what has been missing from bookstore shelves! John Otte’s Failstate combines mystery, action, humor, romance, and faith all in one rip-roaring superhero tale. Readers will cheer for Failstate—a rookie hero without a license—as he tries to solve a murder, control his unstable powers, and not get voted off the show America’s Next Superhero. Otte provides short, cliffhanger chapters, deep characters, and a breathless pace that will keep young readers up all night. I highly recommend this book for everyone. It’s that much fun.
Check out the book trailer too:
It’s time for another Team Novel Teen Blog Tour! This time we’re touring Failstate by John Otte. It’s a really fun book about a young guy, who enters the show called America’s Next Superhero. But his superhero identity Failstate isn’t as cool as some of the other contestants. Here is the blurb:
Why did Robin Laughlin (aka. Failstate) think being a superhero on a reality show would be a good idea again? Things seemed so simple: win the show, become an official, licensed hero. But with his brother, Ben (aka. Gauntlet) stealing America’s heart and his own powers proving too unwieldy even for the monitored studio challenges, Robin begins to wonder if his calling isn’t to save the world after all.
Until one of his competitors is murdered.
Vowing to find the killer, Robin sets out on a very real quest to unmask the hidden villain. Can Robin find justice? Or will his lunk of a big brother ruin everything?
I’m going to post my book review tomorrow. (Click here to read it.) But I’ve got John visiting me today. Welcome, John! Your first novel released last month! Congrats! Share some of the exciting things that you’ve done during this release time.
Well, let’s see here. About a month ago, we had a big release party at my congregation. Around 80 people showed up and we sold out all the copies of the book (which was awesome; the proceeds went to the youth of the congregation for a big trip they’re taking next summer). We had an awesome band, some great snacks, and we streamed the whole thing on the web.
I’ve also been obsessively searching Google for references to my book. I keep getting nervous to find out what people think of it.
Don’t worry, John! It’s a great book! Have you received any emails from readers? Would you tell us about one? How did it make you feel to get that feedback?
I didn’t get an e-mail exactly, but I did get my first piece of fan mail from one of my confirmation students. He was turning in some late memory work and I was looking through it all when I found an envelope addressed to me tucked in the middle. In the envelope was two pieces of paper. One was labeled “Read First,” the other “Read Second.”
The first was a note explaining how much he loved the book. He then went on to explain what he thought should happen in the sequel. He had some very detailed ideas for characters and what should happen to them. The second note was a sketch he had done of what he thought the cover should look like.
I think I may have those framed.
That is awesome, John! You should frame them. Are there going to be more Failstate books?
There are! As a matter of fact, I’m about 2/3s of the way through the (as of yet) untitled sequel. There are zombies in it. Kind of. It’s not a true zombie apocalypse but I’m having fun with it.
And then there will be one more beyond that as well. I’m not exactly sure how to describe the plot without giving it all away. Suffice it to say, Failstate is going to face one of the biggest challenges of his superhero career.
I can’t wait. I adore Failstate. And you can’t go wrong with zombies these days. 😆 What do you consider some of your biggest life adventures, John?
I can think of a few. A year after my wife and I got married, we took a two week trip to Australia and I absolutely loved it! We saw the Opera House, SCUBA dove on the Great Barrier Reef, rode horses through the rain forest, and spent a few days on a place called Kangaroo Island. That last part was awesome. We got to see baby sea lions and we both got to hold a baby kangaroo. I also got to try kangaroo one night for dinner. Turns out, it tastes pretty much like steak.
I’ve also had some great adventures with the youth I’ve worked with. Every three years, our denomination has a big youth gatherings, usually somewhere down south. For some reason, most of the Gatherings I’ve been to have been in New Orleans, which is always a fun time. The last time, though, we spent a day cleaning up a neighborhood that was wrecked by Hurricane Katrina. It was a lot of hard work but absolutely worth it. I also donated blood for the first time at that Gathering, which is a major achievement for me seeing as I’m scared to death of needles.
But the biggest adventure by far has been raising my two boys. My wife and I adopted both of them and they mean the world to us. My older son is an absolute clone of me. We have very similar personalities. He’s started “preaching sermons” from time to time and he’s even started writing books. My younger son isn’t quite a year old but he’s one of the happiest babies I’ve ever seen. He has the most infectious belly laugh. I know both of them are going to have incredible adventures throughout their lives.
That is awesome, John. Love the picture of the rocks on Kangaroo Island! Not all life adventures are fun. And your story deals with some tough subjects. Robin and his big brother get a little competitive. Do you have any advice for teens that have to live in the shadow of a “perfect” older sibling?
Boy, that’s a tough one. I’m actually the oldest in my family. I don’t think I was a “perfect” older brother. My younger siblings and I once sat down and figured it out. I got the creativity, my sister got the athletic and intellectual ability, and my brother got the looks. So I’d like to think that we all got something.
But at the same time, I know it can be difficult walking in an older sibling’s shadow. I guess if I had any advice, it’d be to remember what St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12—“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men . . . All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 11).
God made you just the way you are. The Holy Spirit gave you the gifts He knew you could use to the best of your ability. And God doesn’t make mistakes. As hard as it may be, it doesn’t help to compare yourself to someone else. Focus on the gifts that God has given you and you will be able to do amazing things with His help and guidance!
Great advice, John! Thanks for that. What new fictional adventure are you working on now?
Like I said, I’m working on the first draft of the sequel to Failstate. I’m introducing some new characters (such as a sweet girl named Charlene and a teenage superhero named Kynetic). And I recently found the missing piece I needed to sew the plot all together.
At the same time, I’m getting ready to start editing a book called Hive. I call it my “pregnant teenage cyborg” book. It’s set in the far future. It has a lot of space travel and a little bit of romance.
I can’t wait to read your next Failstate story, and Hive is awesome–what I’ve read so far. I have a feeling you’re going to be publishing books for a long time! Thanks for talking with us!
To find out what the other Team Novel Teen members are saying about Failstate, check out the following links. And if you want a laugh, be sure and visit the Fiction Fire link. Christian Miles is one hysterical fellow.
ADD Librarian • The Book Fae • Bookworm Reading • Books I Recommend • Colorimetry • CTF Devourer • Fiction Fire • Gillian Adams • Hornspoon Reviews • My Story Shelf • The Pen and Parchment • Virtuous Girlhood
Team Novel Teen is a group of bloggers dedicated to spreading the word about clean teen fiction. Check out other posts about Failstate by John Otte by clicking on the links above, and check out www.NovelTeen.com for more information about Team Novel Teen.