More Dragons By Nicole Conway

Dragons are awesome. Dragons inspire me to create a world (or twelve) where they aren’t evil. And Nicole Conway is the author of a fantastic series featuring Dragons.

The Dragonrider Chronicles.

Now, she’s beginning a new series. Lovers of dragon tales and fantasy quests will surely rejoice over this new addition to their book shelf.

Savage begins the Dragonrider Legacy series, a thrilling companion to the international bestselling Dragonrider Chronicles.

Never send a hero to do a monster’s job.

Forty years have passed since Jaevid Broadfeather brought peace to Maldobar and Luntharda. But that fragile truce will be tested as darkness gathers on the horizon. The vicious armies of the Tibran Empire have crossed the far seas and are threatening to destroy Maldobar completely. Not even the dragonriders can match the Tibran war machines. And after an attempt to awaken Jaevid from his divine sleep fails, the fate of Maldobar is looking grim.

Reigh has never known what it means to be a normal human. Raised amongst the gray elves in the wild jungle of Luntharda, he’s tried everything to fit in. But the dark power within him is bursting at the seams—refusing to be silenced. And while his adoptive father, Kiran, insists this power must be kept secret, Reigh knows he’s running out of time.

As Maldobar burns, the world is desperate for a new hero. Destiny has called, and one boy will rise to answer

Welcome the Author of DAMAGED GOODS

The second book in the Blank Slate series, DAMAGED GOODS,  has finally been released into the world. Today, I’m chatting with the author of that YA Dystopian series.

Welcome, Jennifer!I’ve read both of these Blank Slate books and the universe intrigues me. I especially liked viewing too much online interaction as “evil.”

I’m insistent with my kids that we don’t have technology out while we’re having a family dinner, but it seems like texts, notifications and other things distract us from each other at every other time. What gave you the idea to have cell phones cause brain tumors and be seen as a “big evil” by The Vestal founder?

I’m addicted to my smartphone as much as the next person. In fact, I’m probably more addicted because I’m on social media so much. Turning off my phone and paying attention to the people in front of me is something I struggle with, but I try hard to be a good role model for my kids. They aren’t old enough for iPhones yet, but when they are, I don’t want them to copy bad habits.

The idea about phones and brain cancer came to me when a friend was describing what it was like visiting her old sorority house at college. At my college, everyone had normal dorm rooms, but at her sorority house, there was a sleeping room. One person was in charge of waking everyone up at the allotted time, that way there wasn’t a gazillion alarm clocks going off all morning. My friend was shocked when she visited because nowadays, instead of a person on duty waking people up, all the girls just slept with their cellphones right on their pillow with silent alarms. She wondered if that was safe, having Bluetooth, etc. right next to their brain matter. That’s what gave me the idea for GENESIS GIRL and the cancer epidemic.

I find the billboard advertising in the series somewhat ironic. In a totally tech society, shouldn’t advertising in that way be extinct?

In my imagination, they were more like digital billboards, with changing screens. In real life advertising infiltrates our lives at every possible moment. There’s Disney Princesses on my daughter’s chicken noodle soup! But in the future, who knows how advertising will evolve? It will be exciting to see.

Of course, Blanca’s attraction to the billboards is also interesting. I always loved reading them when we traveled by car. They seemed more “honest” than TV commercials to me, but why would I think that?(rhetorical question) And why does Blanca see being exposed there as acceptable while online media revelations are dirty and evil?

Blanca’s okay with the billboards because they are approved advertisements from the companies the Vestals represent. She wants complete control of how her image will be shared. So if McNeal solar shares a picture of her, Blanca is excited. But if a total stranger snaps a shot of her standing at a bus stop, Blanca would freak out. It’s kind of like how some people never want their friends to share pictures of them online unless their hair and makeup is perfect.

A major theme in the new book is trust. It’s interesting that Blanca keeps big secrets and doesn’t trust the right people but doesn’t see those things as a lack of trust or even a problem. What are you hoping your teenage readers take from this?

Knowing who to trust is one of those hard lessons everyone must learn on the path to adulthood. Don’t be the first person to fall asleep at a slumber party, for example. But for Blanca, trust is exceptionally challenging since she grew up in a controlling environment where she was brainwashed. My hope is that teen readers take inspiration from Blanca’s commitment to survive, think for herself, and follow her instincts.

Thanks so much for writing such “page turners” and for taking time out to stop by my blog. And now for a totally “fun” question. If you could have a super power, what would it be? Why would you choose it?

Thank you for having me! I would love to be able to fly—or make dog poop disappear. Either one!

Check out my FOUR STAR review of the book on Goodreads.

Read more about DAMAGED GOODS and don’t forget to enter the giveaway.

DamagedGoods_Cover

Title: DAMAGED GOODS (Blank Slate #2)
Author: Jennifer Bardsley
Pub. Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Pages: 300
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Blanca has everything she ever wanted, a hot boyfriend named Seth and the loving support of her foster father, Cal. She’s finally escaped the abusive control of her birth father, Barbelo Nemo, and her tortured childhood at Tabula Rasa School.

But the scars of Blanca’s Vestal upbringing run deep, especially when the FBI start asking questions. Blanca feels abandoned by Seth who is hunting for Lilith, Blanca’s only blood relative. The Defectos, a support group of Vestal-Rejects, offer Blanca comfort instead.

While the Vestal order crumbles, Chinese rivals called the Guardians rise to power and wrest control of important Tabula Rasa contacts. Now Blanca’s life is in peril once more, and this time, Blanca struggles to recognize friend from foe.

About Jennifer

Jennifer Bardsley, authorJennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column “I Brake for Moms” for the Sunday edition of The Everett Daily HeraldShe also blogs at Teaching My Baby to Read with the mission of sparking a national debate on the important roll parents play in education. Jennifer is a graduate of Stanford University and a member of SCBWI. She lives with her husband and two children in Edmonds, WA.

The first novel in this series, GENESIS GIRL, released in 2016 and is about an 18 year-old girl whose lack of a virtual footprint makes her so valuable that she is auctioned off to the highest bidder. Jennifer is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Literary Agency LLC.

Follow the Jennifer on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.

Giveaway Details:

(1) winner will receive a Perfectly Posh, Posh To Meet You Set ($20 value), US Only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

DAMAGED GOODS_banner

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

1/16/2017- The Avid Book Collector– Excerpt
1/16/2017- Sammeh Lurves Reading– Review

1/17/2017- Lisa’s Loves(Books of Course)– Guest Post
1/17/2017- I am not a bookworm!- Review

1/18/2017- Sharon Lee Hughson, Author– Interview
1/18/2017- Bookish Hollow– Review

1/19/2017- Hidden Worlds Books– Guest Post
1/19/2017- Taylicious Reads– Review

1/20/2017- Bibliobibuli YA– Interview
1/20/2017- Abooktropolis– Review

See the rest of the tour schedule here.

Today is the Day for DAMAGED GOODS

I am so excited that DAMAGED GOODS by Jennifer Bardsley releases today and that I get to share the news!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Jennifer Bardsley, be sure to check out all the details below. AND come back tomorrow when the author stops by here to answer some of my questions about the characters, premise and themes.
 
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a Perfectly Posh, Posh To Meet You Set ($20 value), US Only courtesy of Month9Books. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

About The Book:

 
Title: DAMAGED GOODS (Blank Slate #2)
Author: Jennifer Bardsley
Pub.Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD
Blanca has everything she ever wanted, a hot boyfriend named Seth and the loving support of her foster father, Cal. She’s finally escaped the abusive control of her birth father, Barbelo Nemo, and her tortured childhood at Tabula Rasa School.
But the scars of Blanca’s Vestal upbringing run deep, especially when the FBI start asking questions. Blanca feels abandoned by Seth who is hunting for Lilith, Blanca’s only blood relative. The Defectos, a support group of Vestal-Rejects, offer Blanca comfort instead.
While the Vestal order crumbles, Chinese rivals called the Guardians rise to power and wrest control of important Tabula Rasa contacts. Now Blanca’s life is in peril once more, and this time, Blanca struggles to recognize friend from foe.
 
 

OR Start at the beginning with Genesis Girl!

Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood
has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the
Internet. 

Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.

Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable. 
 
By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only
chance of escape is to go online. 

Enjoy the following SNEAK PEAK inside the cover of Damaged Goods. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post AND come back tomorrow to hear from the author!

Excerpt
 
I look to where he points, and the flash of thumb-cameras blinds me. Vestals must never have their pictures taken by random people. That privilege belongs to the companies that purchase them and market a Vestal’s privacy one
advertisement at a time. I reach my arms out by instinct, to protect my face from the public. “I’m fine with it,” I lie, pulling my hands down. “But we better leave now or we’ll be late to the restaurant.”
 
“My dad can wait a few minutes.” Seth scoops me in his arms.
 
“Blanca!” one of the spectators calls. “And Veritas Rex! Is that really you?”
 
Seth holds up his hand and wiggles his finger-chips. “The one and only!” Then he dips me back for a kiss.
 
I stiffen like cardboard. “Stop it,” I mumble, trying not to squirm. All I can think about is the cameras, my face flashed worldwide and weirdoes slobbering over my private moment with Seth. 
 
“We’ve got to go or we’ll be late.”
 
Seth kisses my nose. “I didn’t know you were so punctual.”
 
“Yes.” I pull myself out of his grasp. “Cal’s waiting.” The sooner I put my helmet on and get back on my motorcycle, the better.
 
“Blanca,” a man calls as we ride away. “I love you! I’ve watched you all year!”

Underneath my jacket, I shiver. The fame that surrounds me is chilling.

 

About Jennifer: 

Jennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column “I Brake for Moms” for the Sunday edition of The Everett Daily HeraldShe also blogs at Teaching My Baby to Read with the mission of sparking a national debate on the important roll parents play in education. Jennifer is a graduate of Stanford University and a member of SCBWI.
She lives with her husband and two children in Edmonds, WA. 
Her first novel, GENESIS GIRL,  is about an 18 year-old girl whose lack of a virtual footprint makes her so valuable that she is auctioned off to the highest bidder, and the sequel  is available now.
Jennifer is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Literary AgencyLLC.
 
Follow the Jennifer on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.

Giveaway Details:

 (1) winner will receive a Perfectly Posh, Posh To Meet You Set ($20 value), US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Zipping around St. Thomas

You want to go ziplining in a forest? Wish granted. I wish I could say it was the only zipping I did around St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

You read about the island of disappointment and my missed para-sailing outing. And who wants to leave people with a downer? Not me.

I had three wishes for expeditions on the trip, and I got one out of three. I’m not complaining because I also came home with some awesome jewelry that wasn’t on my wish list. (More on that later.)

Sometimes my genie gets his own ideas for wish fulfillment.

My personal genie...without his bottle.
My personal genie…without his bottle.

Booking

We booked our shore excursions online, through the cruise line. On St. Thomas, we had a taxi driver inform us we could have paid one-third less on the Tree Liming experience if we had purchased it directly from the company.

Since it was my first cruise, I wasn’t sure if it would be safe to wait until we got somewhere to book our trips. What if they were full? What if we couldn’t get back to the ship on time?

The jury is still out whether the convenience is worth the cash.

Busing

We rode in an air-conditioned 15-passenger van. I squished in the middle of the back seat for the ride up the mountain.

And when I say mountain, I mean a sharply peaked hill. It might have been 1500 feet above sea level.

But when you’re careening around ninety-degree curves on a narrow road and there is nothing below you but a hillside of trees, that’s high enough.

Everyone’s car’s had dents. Jeff noticed this right away. I was too busy digging my fingernails into the seat cushion. Where’s a seat belt when you need one?

I chatted with a lady from Kentucky who had left a snowstorm behind for the cruise. Her husband was lucky enough to get appointed shotgun by the driver.

Of course, when we had to back into the narrow curvy road to navigate the steep turn into the ziplining place, there wasn’t a good seat to be had. And the bus driver asked people to get out and push.

He might not have been joking. The motor really strained to get us up that last hill.

Look at the view from up here!
Look at the view from up here!

Beaming

This isn’t my first experience flying along the cables. It probably won’t be my last.

I enjoyed the trip in Mexico. It was my first time so the recollection is slightly starry-eyed.

Look at me! Sailing through the trees. Woo-hoo!
Look at me! Sailing through the trees. Woo-hoo!

Here’s a quick comparison:

  • Mexico’s lines were longer. These lines had a much better view.
  • Mexico’s guides were entertainers. These guides were all about keeping us safe (and I’m good with that!)
  • Mexico’s drive to the lines was longer, bus plusher. This drive was shorter.
  • Weather was perfect in both places.

I learned more on this trip. For example, do you know how ziplining originated? Where it was first done?

I do.

See there? Vacation doesn’t have to be all about excess and weight gain. It can be enlightening, too.

Can this thing go any faster? Please?
Can this thing go any faster? Please?

I hope you enjoy the pictures. I plan to have a short video, clips that my husband took of me with his GoPro.

As you’ll notice, I’m beaming in every shot.

Ziplining is a blast. You should try it.

Talon by Julie Kagawa

Kagawa’s story of dragons living among us has been on my to be read list since I first read its description. Yes, I’m talking about Talon.

When it came, it appeared on my Overdrive app just in time for the weekend. *sigh*

Summary

Ember and her twin brother are on the last leg of their training. If they can successfully assimilate into human society, they will earn their position in Talon, the international organization of dragons.

Ember wants to taste freedom. She befriends the locals and finds a love of surfing. Not as good as flying above the waves-which is forbidden-but enthralling nonetheless.

Her summer is cut short by the arrival of adult dragons to train her and her brother. Separately. Wait a minute! They’ve done everything together for their entire sixteen years of life.

Soon, Ember is chomping at the restraints Talon places on her. Encouraged to defy their rules by a rogue dragon, she finds herself doubting everything she knows about dragons and drifting further from her beloved brother.

Enter the spies from St. George, the dragon hunter’s organization. Garret is known as the Perfect Soldier, but when Ember pushes him to embrace living, unexpected emotions – and doubts of his own – emerge.

Review

Kagawa creates two complex organizations with ideologies that diametrically oppose each other. She throws a teenager from each together. Conflict results. This conflict is central to the story and really the best part of the book.

The two secret societies battling each other is a perfect backdrop for this novel. What do teenagers care about some remote war?

Ember wants freedom. She’s not going to find it in Talon. Ever.

For Garret, he’s been a soldier his whole life. He learned to kill dragons at 14 and has more kills than anyone his age. But is there more to life than hunting the beasts that killed his family?

Some reviewers complained about the ease with which Dante and Ember fit into human society since they’d lived in isolation for sixteen years. Ember’s inner thoughts made it believable to me. Dragons have a natural chemistry for soothing people, easing in, making people trust them.

I enjoyed viewing the dragon society through the different eyes of the three narrators. Is Talon the evil organization the rogue dragon believes? Is there a greater purpose behind their disguises? Those answers must wait for the sequel.

Usually, I’m not a fan of love triangles. In this case, it didn’t bother me (as much) because it was obvious that Ember had a duality – dragon and human. Each side of her preferred the guy from its race.

I wasn’t thrilled with the ending because, while the story question was resolved, it introduced the problem for the sequel. Was she afraid we wouldn’t read the next book unless she wrote it this way?

It still earned 4.5 out of five stars from me because I loved the characters, the conflict, and the constant tension. Were there unbelievable moments? Not enough to throw me out of the story.

But I predicted the outcome fairly early on (although I didn’t guess every angle). And the ending could have been stronger.

Recommendation

If you love dragons, you want to read this book. They are everything you expect while being unexpected in their human disguises.

If you like snarky heroines, you will enjoy this book. Ember Hill has attitude. Being inside her head made for a great ride.

This book has violence but it’s handled with taste and delicacy, so the story is suitable for younger teenagers. The romantic element is secondary to the character development. A PG read in that respect too.

The biggest drawback of this book – the library didn’t have a copy of the sequel available for me to check out.

Rogue, consider yourself added to my TBR list.

Zip lining Adventure

When we traveled to Mexico, I had only two three items on my wish list. It should be easy enough to satisfy three small things, right? And zip lining topped the list.

Okay, it was second on the list.

The list:

  1. Bask in the sunshine
  2. Zip-line
  3. Sunset cruise

Fortunately, everyone shared my adventurous spirit. And there was a discount (of $30 per person), so I took that as a sign from Heaven (Aren’t coupons God’s express permission to purchase an item?)

After a fair amount of grumbling from the kids about having to wake up early, we settled on a day and time. A bus would pick us up at 8:15 and transport us to our adventure. It would start at 9 am and end around noon.

The only instructions we received ahead of time: wear tennis shoes and comfortable clothes. No one told us we would have to leave our cameras behind. After all, the main reason I wanted my husband to have a Go-Pro was to catch this action on film.

Instead, we have still photos taken by the “guides” (and purchased for no small amount) and only our brain’s recollection for moving pictures. So, I’ll do my best to share that here.

IMG_0452The guides were a hoot-and-a-half. By the end of the day, I wondered how many times every day they repeated the same quips. You can be sure a portion of our gratuity was thanks to their delightful acting skills.

Our adventure included ten zip lines and rappelling down a 180-foot rock wall (which was optional). Honestly, the chance to rappel is what made me choose this company over the one with “the longest zip line in Mexico.”

First we needed the gear. This involved an attractive liner tied over our hair under an equally attractive helmet. Most important was the web belt with the solid ropes to clip onto the pulley (which we carried for the next two hours) and zip line.

The safety briefing and instructions spotlighted the silly sides of four of the six guides going with us on this adventure. Can you really get a class in how to ride your pulley with the line is not even six feet long? “Shortest zip-line ever” is my title for it.

DSC_9592The reason for the solid walking shoes became immediately evident. We wound up a narrow rocky trail to a short metal wire spanning maybe 50 feet.

“Lie back and scream like you’re happy.”

Yep. Those were the man’s exact instructions. He may have mentioned something about keeping your knees bent to your chest and not straightening your legs unless you wanted your ankles broken like Kathy Bates’ prisoner in Misery.

It was over before I got the “Geronimo” out of my mouth. (That’s my happy yell. It’s named after an attraction at the OKC theme park.)

I don’t think my heart had time to pick up its speed.

We walked up a longer path to the first “real” zip line. After all, we have to get up high if we want it to be exciting. In the end, I think my heart rate was elevated more by the hiking than the all-too-brief zips along the wires.

My oldest zipping along - having a good time
My oldest zipping along – having a good time

It was fun. I enjoyed watching my kids having a blast, but it wasn’t the thrill ride I was expecting. Maybe it’s because we were never more than 500 feet above the ground. Or that the longest ride was 1500 feet and it took less than 30 seconds to complete.

The best part for me came after all but two zip lines had been conquered. Yes, the 180-foot rappel.

I tried indoor rock climbing once. Mostly because I wanted to rappel. I enjoyed the climbing, but zinging down the smoking rope brought the biggest smile to my face.

My drill sergeant would have been proud. I didn’t even balk when I backed over the edge of the platform (the scariest moment atop Victory Tower). The guy on the ground did his job belaying me a bit too well, so I didn’t get to fly down like I hoped.

Could my smile get any wider?
Could my smile get any wider?

From the platform, there was about forty feet where the wall was too far beneath to reach. So I spent some time dangling with nothing to push off from.

“Release your left hand,” the guide kept telling me.

It was released, but my belayer wasn’t letting me move. See? There’s no danger involved in this sport.

I was smiling at the bottom. The last zip line was a race – my husband won – and anti-climactic after the wall.

I was the only one asking if I could go again. What’s wrong with those people who didn’t do it? I should have been allowed to take their place, right?

If you’re afraid of heights, that’s not a big deal. You don’t have to look down when you zip line. You’re lying on your back.

If you can look around though, you’ll get a great view of whatever’s beneath you. For about five seconds. Because then the ride’s over.

So the next time you’re watching the Amazing Race and thinking, “That would be so scary” as they zip line a few thousand feet, don’t.

It might be a rush – or a thrill – but being dropped from a hundred feet with only a bungee cord to stop you is much more frightening.

Have you been zip lining? Bungee jumping? What is the scariest thing you’ve done? What is something you thought would be scary that turned out to be nothing?

Epic Fantasy

As a writer of fantasy, I read different fantasy novels. In doing so, I can experience the methods published writers use to build a world, breathe life into characters and weave a mesmerizing plot.

Or I can read the books and criticize the lack of plot, weakness of character arc and believability of the fantastical setting. Sometimes, it’s a little of both.

Perhaps it is my experience with disengaged and unmotivated readers, but I don’t believe epic fantasy, written in the frame and scope of George R.R. Martin’s The Song of Ice and Fire, draws young adult readers.

My Reasoning

Several things about these novels discourage me:

  • The multiple point of view characters
  • The dispassionate discarding of major characters
  • The woven webs that take too long to entrap their victims

However, I’m not sure these same things would bother young adult readers (the audience I write for). I do believe they will be hindered by:

  • The sheer number of characters – even adults who read this series admit they have to flip to the back and check the listing of characters. Most young adult readers don’t want to invest this time. They want to enter the fantasy world and stay there until the story ends. If they have to wonder “who is this person” then the writer fails to maintain their suspended disbelief.
  • The scope of time from the foreshadowing until the culminating event – most young readers will forget about the earlier hint and then wonder “where is this coming from?”
  • Too many story lines – if it is 200 pages between the initial storyline of a character and the second appearance, many youthful readers will have forgotten where they left this person. Again, they won’t want to go back. In fact, many might choose to skip the entire story from some character’s viewpoint.

My Review

I recently completed the third book in Martin’s series. As with the other two, I felt compelled to scan some character’s chapters. I find myself withholding my attachment to any character because I’m sure Martin will decapitate them once I love them.

What author hopes to hear the readers admit to scanning? Don’t authors desire readers to empathize with and embrace their characters?

A Storm of Swords held my interest better than the second book. I also scanned fewer pages. Still, I find myself withholding affection from the remaining Starks because their family seems condemned by the author.

I also am fostering more affection for people I despised earlier in the series. Is this because I’m sure they will survive? I don’t know. I believe Martin’s skill for creating sympathetic characters plays a huge role.

I used to like Tyrion Stark, but by the end of this third installment, I see his personality turning to the dark side. Meanwhile, his king-slaying older brother found a conscience somewhere and I’m irritated by my admiration of him. I still hope their sister meets a horrifying and painful end, so all is not lost.

At the end of this book, a small incident from the second book that I knew was foreshadowing came into play. Martin did a great job of keeping this information in the forefront for the reader by having Arya repeat the “magical” phrase with her nightly prayers. Still, the fulfillment is long in coming. How many readers wrote it off as unimportant?

I will read the rest of this series. Of course, I doubt I will read every word on every page. I’m invested in the outcome. After reading nearly 3,000 pages, I’m expecting an incredible payoff.

Don’t disappoint me, Mr. Martin.

My Recommendation

Okay, since I’m an unpublished newbie, I am less than an authority on what sells than the best-selling author who I’m ranting about in this post. However, as a reader and an experienced reading teacher of middle-school-aged students, I believe I do know somewhat of what I speak of from a reader’s point of view.

If you want to write epic fantasy for young adults, I don’t think you can use Martin’s format. In fact, a book containing Jon Snow’s story and another containing Bran Stark’s story and another for Arya and Sansa would be more embraceable for younger readers. Perhaps in the final book, all the characters would be reunited to face the ultimate bad guy.

I would have preferred to read the books in this way, as well. I know Martin is trying to show us the timeline and what’s happening everywhere in the world simultaneously, which is difficult for many adults to follow. It’s impossible for younger readers. They will become frustrated and lay the book aside.

Books for younger readers need to have simpler plot lines. The story (as far as I’ve read it) in Martin’s books is a convoluted mess of betrayal, duplicity and speculation.

Killing off too many major characters can be disheartening. Okay, I know J.K. Rowling did it and her series stole the Hollywood box office along with best-selling book charts. I almost refused to continue after Sirius Black died, and several young adult readers I know felt the same. We continued because she had left the mirror they used to communicate behind in Harry’s possession and what lay behind the gate shrouded in mystery. We hoped Harry might find a way to bring Sirius back.

So much for our misguided hopes.

What recommendations do you have for epic fantasy for young adult readers? Is this even something writers should pursue or are young readers dispossessed of the attention span required?