Saturday, December 8, 2012

Pimpin' out the books wink, grin and a review of Summer Break Blues by J.A. Campbell

A while ago I read a very good book, e-book, titled Senior Year Bites by J.A. Campbell.  To be perfectly honest, I was able to read the book before it was published, so I feel lucky and honored that the author trusted me to read it before editing, etc.  That's gotta be hard to do, put your book out there.  However - Campbell is one of those authors that I think can write, no matter what the genre or subject matter.  So far, even though I'm not a major YA fan, I've enjoyed everything I've read by her.

(click on book cover for excerpt)

J.A. Campbell  has written a sequel, titled Summer Break Blues, which I have also read, and loved.  The ending- the ending is so cool.  Summer Break Blues is currently available and if you go to this page, there is 'round-up' of all the websites you can go to for a chance to win a copy.
But if you don't win, don't despair, because this is an e-book, and one of those reasonably priced e-books, and so is  very affordable.  Available for purchase at all the big book stores online, as well as Smashwords and Decadent Publishing.  All the info and links are on Ms Campbell's site.

Love this cover.  Click on it for an excerpt

There is going to be a third book in this series - The Clanless is the series title - but I can't remember the name, or even if there is a name for the third novel yet.  My memory is not so good at times, to be honest.  She might have told me the title, but she also had to tell me the title of Summer Break Blues a couple a few times.  She's so patient with me, lol.
Senior Year Bites is the story of Meg, who has survived a vicious attack during an illfated game of Truth or Dare.  She picked Dare.  It bit her in the....well, it BIT her.  This is the story of how she and her friends come to the realization that she is, indeed, vampire. She'd been having all these weird symptoms, and they seemed to be getting worse instead of better.  Eventually they come to the vampire connection.  Something of course, that she always thought was a horror story figure. Of course, not many of us would be so quick to think when we're sick, that we might be turning into a vampire! With the help of her friends, who she doesn't at first want to involve, she manages to not only survive her senior year of high school, but keep her condition from her mom and others, feed, explore her powers, and then....there is a major complication.  So - first novel - brilliantly done - dialogue (they SOUND like teens) and attitudes, as well as differing characters.  If you're interested I reviewed it here.

The second novel - Summer Break Blues takes up after the events of Senior Year Bites.  They graduate, and make plans....only there are complications.
Ann's parents have disappeared, so the friends plan a road trip to help find the parents.  Only Ann is behaving rather strangely.  And Meg keeps having to deal with this crazy fae - they're not happy with her since the events of her senior year (spoilers for first book, so no details). With Summer Break Blues - great title for a brilliant sequel, by the way - J.A. Campbell has done it again.  Taken a group of friends and not only put them in danger, with a mystery to solve, as well as parents to hopefully save from danger, but now relationships are shifting, and Meg is feeling strange about a certain someone who is supposed to be in love with a certain friend, and oh boy, things are becoming awkward and might become even more so, but Meg is trying to be good, trying not feed on her friends, or attack them physically OR verbally while she fights off attacks and still tries to help her friend find her parents - even though her friend is acting more odd than normal. Talk about peer pressure.  A few of her friends expect superhero behaviour out of her, while Ann seems to expect something else. 
J.A.Campbell knows how to make her teen characters sound like teens.  She can write moments that are awkward and romancey at the same time - just like when you first realized as a teen that you're attracted to someone and they just might be attracted to you, and shouldn't act on it for one reason or another....yet the romance in no way overshadows the action or fantasy elements of the book.  The book is all about the mission - find Ann's parents; and the aftermath of the mission.   The changes in the friends' relationships, the new friends (from Senior Year Bites) and even newer finds - as well as Meg's discoveries about herself, her powers and her dangers.
Because while the friends and crew are on their mission, Meg is still learning about herself and her powers - and has why hasn't she ever come across her 'maker'?  Things would be nice if there was a guide of some sort, so she didn't have to fumble along with her friends (well meaning as they are) possibly putting them in danger from herself and yet needing them.  
There's a lot packed into this book - relationships, danger, knowledge, changes, sadness and happiness and everything in between.
Good read, I encourage reading this - especially if you want something fresh - a bit different than the average urban fantasy where the main character doesn't seem to have any female friends and yet has all these guys after her.  Refreshing with good action scenes, suspense, twists and some great plotting.  You'll like it whether you're a teen or a twenty-something, thirty-something - even past 50, because there are some sweet moments that are nostalgic of teen years threaded throughout the tale.  Not the vampire stuff (not for me anyway, never had to deal with that, *wink*) but those moments of young crushes or love just starting out. :)  Can't wait to read the third novel.  It's going to be good.
*Trivia moment here - before Senior Year Bites had a publisher, there was a very cool cover an artist friend of hers had done for her.  The artist is very talented, and with this particular cover really 'got' the main character.  I do like the published covers - they are beautifully done, but I still think this original unofficial cover really captured Meg, her personality, and the way I would have pictured a teen vampire trying to stay un-noticed.
Here is the original cover by S.N. Holl.

Really - check out the blood, the gum, the earphones, all the little details.   Really captures the teen vampire trying to be under the radar, and yet being a TEEN. 
J.A. Campbell is the author of many, many stories - short stories and novels.  She has an online serial that has evolved into a few published e-books/novellas titled about Doc, The Vampire Hunting Border Collie (drop down menu gives access to free online shorts); a six part story about Tina who is a teen transplanted from big city to small desert ghost towns and experiences first love as well as time travel and bandits; she's written a steampunk novella that is to be published; as well as short stories that are in a variety of anthologies. She has been working on a fantasy currently titled Arabian Dreams, a full length novel that needs to be published, I hope it gets picked up so people can enjoy her novel.  Girl HAS to write, it's just a part of who she is.  She's also been known to take some pretty cool photos, works with horses, dogs, has cats (or, rather, they try to own her-you know how cats can get) and has written the occasional comic.  

1 comment:

  1. visiting here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =)

    Regards, (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..