National Superhero Day Reading Suggestions

What’s that, you say?  There are Superhero stories that aren’t about the Avengers?  Who knew?!  😛


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Join the action with the Amazon best-selling YA superhero series! The worst summer of Carrie Hauser’s life began with her parents’ divorce and ended with her receiving superhuman abilities from a dying alien. Now Carrie is trying to put her life back together, and all that stands in her way are an insane artificial intelligence, the mercenary known as Manticore, and a mysterious organization that wants to claim her power for itself. Save the day? Sure — as soon as school lets out.


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For one superhero, the good guys can be deadlier than the bad guys. 

Jillian Johnson, known as the mighty Battlecry, was born into a superhero cult. She craves a life of freedom, far away from her violent and abusive team leader, Patrick. With no education, no money, and no future to speak of, she’s stuck in the dangerous life…until she meets the mysterious and compelling Benjamin, a civilian with superpowers. When Patrick confronts her, she fights back–and then runs for her life. One by one, her ex-teammates join her until a new team has formed.

But Patrick will not let his upstart teammates get away so easily. Humiliated and hellbent on vengeance, he waits for his chance to strike back and kill the new team, and he is happy to murder superheroes and civilians alike. On top of that, Benjamin has joined Jillian and her comrades, angering his own lethal family. Jillian’s enemies begin to close in from all sides.

Desperate and in hiding, Jillian must shed everything she thinks she knows about what it means to lead. Can she rise up to the challenge of defeating Patrick? Can she save Benjamin from his family? Or will she die like every other superhero who’s dared to challenge the cult?

 

 
 

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Teen superhero, Starrella, and her flying horse combat vicious villains in the skies of Atalanta.The quiet summer before her freshman year turns frighteningly weird after Estelle Wright trespasses onto an Army base. Blown into the air and knocked unconscious, she wakes with a nascent superpower. Not to mention a winged horse with a snarky attitude and a mind of her own.

Back home in Atalanta, a serial killer is targeting the students at Goldman University. Before long she must juggle college classes with sneaking out of the house after dark to battle alien monsters. Estelle’s life is in danger, but who can she trust: handsome Captain Copper from military intelligence, or hunky Toby, the tough gangster with a motorbike? Both men have secret agendas, but falling in love is not in their plans.


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She can heal any wound, but the price is her freedom, her humanity, and her love. 

After a brutal attack, medical student Cassie Whelan discovers she has empathic healing abilities. She’s become an exohuman – a non-human according to the law. She must choose between hiding the miracles she can perform or becoming an anonymous, numbered government slave – like Guardian 175, the horribly disfigured exo who is falling in love with her. With her empathic senses, she can actually feel his growing affection for her. But his loyalties are divided between love and duty. She wants to trust him, but betrayal by him could destroy everything. And the one thing she can’t heal is her own heart.


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After a mysterious phenomenon called The Event, superhumans—called specials—now walk among us. And the potential danger these untested and powerful beings warrants a way to keep them in check. Enter Vanguard, a government-sanctioned team of superheroes designed to deal with rogue specials. This team of powerful beings with even more powerful personalities must overcome their differences while dealing with one life-threatening crisis after another! 

But a mysterious warlord and his terrorist network waits in the shadows, planning to use superhumans for their own nefarious purposes!


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What happens after the superhero gets the girl? 

Nobody said being married was easy, but try being married to a superhero. Not only is there laundry, cooking, and a career to balance, but throw in a few supervillains and your day’s booked.

Ariana, Victoria, and Emma’s men spend more time saving the world than doing dishes. These wives want some semblance of a normal married life, but would settle for an uninterrupted meal together.

How can they compete with saving the world?

When a catastrophic earthquake devastates Shadow Town and crime spirals out of control, the city needs help.

Everyone expected the superheroes to save the day, but nobody expected the wives’ help too…


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Dawn Takahashai knows all about superheroes.

She’s been a fan of them for years. So when she’s granted an impressive powerset of her own, she dives right in, eager to prove herself as Bailey City’s first superhero: Miss Red and Black.

Her first challenge is Faultline. He’s powerful, smart and, as a henchman for Bailey City’s first supervillain, standing right in her way. But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that under the mask, Faultline is Alex Gage, a working-class guy trying to scrounge together enough money to help support his younger sisters.

Dawn has no idea that the charming and seemingly straightforward Alex is Faultline. Alex has no idea that the adorably awkward Dawn is the superhero he clashes with at night.

And Dawn and Alex have a date next week.


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The Just Cause Universe is the original superhero universe created by Ian Thomas Healy and published by Local Hero Press. It focuses on diverse, complex characters in a gritty, realistic setting despite their fanciful abilities.


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No powers? No problem!

That’s never stopped Alice before, and it’s not going to stop her from finding her aunt’s killer. Especially not now that she’s become the legendary vigilante Serpent.

But being a hero doesn’t come with instructions and one mistake unleashes the living nightmare Phantasm upon Jet City.

With no time to waste, Alice and her super-powered allies, vow to end this fight. But is her determination enough to protect the city or will defeating Phantasm demand a hero’s sacrifice?

Serpent’s Sacrifice is the first book in The Phantasm Trilogy, a twist on the popular superhero mythos. If you like brave heroines, chilling villains, and nail-biting action, then you’ll love the thrilling emergence of the Serpent!


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Jill Andersen is one of Baltimore’s best and brightest detectives, but she harbors a dark secret — a secret that threatens to come out when the body of Dr. Trent Roberts is pulled out of the Chesapeake Bay. Dr. Roberts’ connection to Jill reveals a past that involves a tour in Iraq, a secretive cybernetic experiment, and a conspiracy that involves a native son.

Can Jill solve the case while still keeping her secret? Will her partners at the Seventh Precinct find out what she’s so desperate to hide? What was Dr. Roberts looking into that led to his murder? And perhaps the biggest question of all…

Who is Bounty?


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A below-average underdog. A supercharged crime-fighter. Their shared secret could transform the world.

Kalum Walker lives in the shadow of his athletic older brother. Scrawny and prone to panic attacks, he’s a far cry from the superheroes he doodles in his notebook. When his brother steals his meds to help calm his game time nerves, he doesn’t put up a fight. After all, the fate of his family rides on his brother’s performance. But without his pills, Kalum’s blackouts begin getting worse… and a disturbing voice inside his head starts urging him into some dangerous situations.

When a blackout-related encounter with bullies puts him in a hospital bed, he starts to notice mysterious bruises all over his body. As he learns of a masked crusader serving up a new kind of justice outside the Corporation compound, he realizes the vigilante bears a striking resemblance to his superheroic sketches. Locked in a battle with the voice inside his head, Kalum must solve the mystery of the infamous Steel Falcon and save his brother before he loses control for good.

Awakening is the first fast-paced novel in the Steel Falcon YA sci-fi superhero series. If you like immersive future worlds, family drama, and edge-of-your-seat twists, then you’ll love N.K. Quinn’s action-packed coming-of-age tale.


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Criterion is the world’s mightiest hero.

His sidekicks just found his body.

The Cadets are shattered by the death of their idol. Unable to maintain their brave and plucky façade, they are consumed by strife and jealousy.

The only thing keeping them together is terror. Once protected from on high, they are now isolated and vulnerable. Can they cover up Criterion’s death and avoid a global meltdown while his murderer is still on the loose? What hope do they have against an enemy that can kill anyone?

Who killed Criterion? Who will die next?


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In the dying world of 2027, there’s no place worse than Babylon.

The fallen city once known as New York is now ruled by feudal gangs and plagued by doomsday cultists. No sane soul ventures there willingly, but former childhood friends Morgan Whitechapel and Kurt Petrovich have no choice.

Fate once separated the compassionate, streetwise survivor and the brooding son of privilege. But the dangerous attentions their newly-manifested superhuman powers bring force them from their homes and reunite them on the savage streets. Their only hope for survival lies with each other – and with a pair of strange nomads who possess powers of their own. Against all odds, these extraordinary young people will fight to make a new home for themselves in the bones of the Big Apple.

Together, they might just stand a chance…


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Superheroes aren’t born. They’re moulded by government academies.

Ellen doesn’t remember much about her parents, they died when she was four. Raised by her aunt she’s envied for years the homo-magis children called on to be tested and subsequently enrolled in one of the five academy’s for heroes.

Ellen isn’t a homo-magis.

Or so she thought.

Her parents were two of the first Superheroes, their lives sacrificed to stop Novaside and save their only child.

Ecstatic, yet a little nervous to finally be a part of the world she’d dreamed of, Ellen is off to Imperium Academy.

But her classing doesn’t go as expected.

Instead of joining the ranks of the illustrious Star Heroes, Ellen is regulated to the role of Sidekick, after all, night vision is barely a superpower.

Many have begun to question the need for Sidekicks, some teachers even suggesting they would be better suited to other employment.

But with Novaside getting bolder, and her latest attack hitting too close to home, Ellen is determined to stay at the academy and prove them wrong.

After all, where better to learn to be a hero than a school full of supers?

Hot New Release “Given to Fly” by JD Estrada

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Have you ever wanted to read a book that dreams about becoming a Studio Ghibli film?  Well now you can.  Given to Fly is the 13th book by Puerto Rican indie author JD Estrada and his first full length middle grade fantasy novel.  But more importantly, it’s a book with a lot of heart and no violence.

If you see movies, TV, video games, or the news at any given moment, it’s almost as if violence is a required ingredient in whatever medium we enjoy.  Given to Fly is a book that avoids the use of violence even when it talks about real issues like death, financial and professional struggles, and life in general in favor of finding joy and life lessons through the fantastical.


At 11 years old, John Rivers is a kind hearted kid who dreams about flying.  He’s just moved to the Pacific Northwest with his family to a house that although it’s very lovely and very cozy, it’s not exactly magical. What he doesn’t know is that magic is actually closer than he thinks.

After strolling up a hill near his house, he finds a cliff with a cove at the bottom and a huge tree growing over the water.  What’s special about this particular tree is that it currently serves as the resting spot for a house that defies logic while embracing the amazing.  As curious as he is kind, one look at Od Manor would have been all it takes for him to consider heading into the sideways house, but when he sees a shadow inside, he climbs down to make sure no one is in trouble.  Once inside, he discovers that no one is in trouble but that the term living room has never been as literal as when an ottoman starts asking questions.  The house’s owner is called Fäet Odstein, which would be odd enough if he weren’t also the literary persona of JD Estrada.  Adventure ensues as Fäet discovers that John dreams about flying. Intent on helping the boy out, they seek the help from a library pillaging bookworm, angels, spiders, and even take a moment to contemplate at the meaning of life in the linen lagoon as they try to discover what it takes to fly.


Apart from a whimsical adventure that feels like a lover letter to works by Hayao Miyazaki, Given to Fly is also the first of what will be a series of stand-alone middle-grade novels with Fäet Odstein as one of its protagonists.  The purpose of these books shall be to offer stories without violence that hopefully get more children to read and dream.

Influenced by Hayao Miyazaki, Peter Pan, and dreams of flight, Given to Fly is a book full of heart that skips the violence in favor of the fantastical.

Grab a copy today HERE on Amazon!


IMG_1040This is not the first time JD Estrada has written middle grade fantasy stories.  His Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore have been described as whimsical bedtime stories with a lot of heart.  That same heart was the main driver for this story.  Like most of his works, Given to Fly was written longhand in one of the best gifts Estrada has ever received in his life.  A long time ago, his wife gifted him a hard cover notebook.  The image on it was particularly special to him.  She had asked him what image meant the most to him.  Without batting an eye, he looked up the image to the Pearl Jam single by the same name.  A couple of months later and with misty eyes, he had a hard cover notebook with that same image and the name could only be Given to Fly. But what to write about…

The question lingered in the air and rumbled in his brain until a trip to Orlando had him and his wife going to Epcot Center and getting on the Soarin’ ride for the first time.  As sights, sounds, and smells washed over him in the beautiful flight simulator, an idea was born and by the end, he had soared right into an epiphany.  “It’s going to be about a boy who dreams about flying,” he told his wife through tears of joy after getting off the ride.

Several years have passed after that ride and finally Given to Fly is ready for you to read.  It is a tribute to things that bring him joy and a song that makes his soul smile.

IMG_0864In honor of the band that has inspired his life so much, all proceeds for Given to Fly and all other Estrada books for the remainder of 2018 shall be donated to Actionforjackson.org in support of #EBAwareness.  Epidermolysis Bullosa is a family of rare genetic disorders that affect the body’s largest organ: the skin.  Eddie Vedder (lead singer for Pearl Jam) has worked hard to support this cause.  It is a small token of gratitude for everything the band means to Estrada and aligns with his #Humans4Humans efforts to support different causes and try to make a positive impact through his writing and any other efforts to support good causes that help our fellow humans.

qjWC_df-_400x400 (1).jpgFind JD at:

Website – www.jdestradawriter.blogspot.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/JDEstradawriter

Instagram – http://instagram.com/jdestradawriter/

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/

Facebook page – www.facebook.com/JDEstradawriter

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/j-d-estrada

 

Review of “Darkest Hours” by Mike Thorn

36309774.jpgIt might be odd to call a collection of horror/noir short stories “beautiful,” but that is the impression I’m left with.  These are incredibly well-crafted, well-written stories from an author I quickly grew to respect.  Thorn’s mastery of prose is an absolute delight to read.  His creativity is refreshing.  His subtle ability to make the horror sneak up on the reader is a gift.  I compared these stories many times to my favorites from Poe, and they indeed share the chilling truth that the worst monsters are the ones within.

The range of stories here was a surprise.  I never knew what to expect from story to story – in one you have a guy unnaturally obsessed with hair, in another you have a ghost doomed to wander, in another you have a terrifying monster that assimilates unsuspecting campers.  In every story,  it was easy to get into the mind of the characters and see the horror through their eyes.  And, again, the writing itself is worth your time.

Any book that has a monstrous blob devouring the works of Derrida has my vote.

5 Stars

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Heroes & Villains: A Superhero Collection

Superhero Box Set CoverIn this ten novel boxed set, indie publishing’s greatest superhero authors will introduce you to the heroes that save the world and the villains scheming to destroy it. Whether you like dystopian heroes, modern capes and cowls, champions of a bygone era, or guardians past their prime, you’ll love the high-octane adventure in this boxed set.

1. “Serpent’s Sacrifice” by Trish Heinrich
2. “Morning Sun” by Jeremy Flagg
3. “Action Figures” by Michael Bailey
4. “Supervillain High” by Gerhard Gehrke
5. “Origin” by David Neth
6. “Sidekick” by Christopher Valin
7. “The Kota” by Sunshine Somerville
8. “Super” by Karen Diem
9. “Wearing the Cape” by Marion G. Harmon
10. “Hero Status” by Kristen Brand

Buy Heroes and Villains today and suit up for the ride of a lifetime!

Amazon
Kobo
B&N
iBooks

Superhero Box Set

Review of “The Sea Was a Fair Master” by Calvin Demmer

40033777.jpgThis author never disappoints in coming up with unique, impressively well-written shorts.  This collection of 23 stories has a little bit of everything – from crime to love to androids to the worst English class imaginable.  There’s a great balance of creepy, troubling, sometimes funny (in an “oh, that’s terrible” grinning kind of way), and heart-wrenching tales.

I also love that these stories aren’t straight horror aimed for gore and terror only.  They feel more akin to the works of Poe – there’s a point, if not a message, about humanity in every one.  Some stories are thought-provoking, others intentionally make you sympathize with the baddies, others are horribly sad but have something beautiful thrown in.  And Demmer is a master at last lines.

Give this collection a read!  These stories are super-short, so even if you don’t like one or two, it’s not like you’re wasting time.

5 Stars

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Review of “Tick” by Allison Rose

25050783Starting this book, I thought it would be a typical YA Dystopian SciFi story, and I was happy enough with that.  But every time I thought I knew where the story was going, it took a swerve and headed in a new direction.  I was NEVER bored with this book, and there were so many twists that the plot pulled me in and kept me reading.  The characters are great too, and I was impressed with the author’s ability to stay so focused on showing us everything going on in Jo’s mind.

And about Jo.  I imagine a lot of readers will find her difficult to empathize with after a while – she is not at all a pure, good hero.   But Jo’s transformation from average SciFi teen to…everything else she becomes was, for me, the best part of the story.  This is about Jo fighting her demons.  About surviving.  About finding redemption.  I felt like her reactions to everything she goes through as the world falls apart were absolutely natural and believable.  I also loved how important art was to her sanity and how it added depth to the story.

It’s hard to avoid spoilers and say anything else about the story, but I will say – HOLY CRAP the ending.  I very much look forward to reading what’s going on in the next book.

5 Stars

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Review of “The Black Swan Company” by Luna DeMasi

25442483I’m not an automatic sucker for any vampire book, but this one won me over quickly.  I loved the focus on investigative journalism as a way to dig deeper into the conspiracies and injustices committed by the authorities in this dystopian, semi-post-apocalyptic setting.  There are also elements of paranormal romance for readers who are drawn to that kind of thing, and this was a good way for the author to draw all sorts of emotional turmoil out of the characters.  Melody, as a “strong female lead,” is great because she’s good at her job but also personally flawed in believable ways that make her easy to relate to.

The writing devices the author uses keep the plot flowing while also giving great backstory.  There are journal entries and letters, back-flashes, and occasional dips into POVs other than the main character’s.  The story often reads like a suspense/crime drama.  A lot of time is spent with Melody and Bastian in isolation, but then there are bursts of action to remind you that the world outside is really, really different from the one we know and the one Melody lost.  And the dialogue is great, livening up the story with colorful side characters whom you grow attached to quickly.

I don’t want to give anything away, but what’s really going on with the Black Swan Company is both terrifying and oddly believable.  I also like that these “vampires” aren’t like your typical paranormal monsters, and the gray areas involved are interesting from a moral and sort-of-political standpoint.

If I have any complaint about this book, it’s that the action at the end happens really fast as things come to a climax, and everything gets wrapped up super quickly.  But it also works this way, since everything has been building to what happens in the end and you kind of know what to expect.

Definitely check out this book if you like your vampire stories a little more on the dystopian/crime side.

5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

Review of “Be Careful What You Joust For” by Ryan Hauge & Ivy Smoak

38739327A lot of new fantasy stories about knights, lords and ladies, and ancient lands feel like “Game of Thrones” these days, so if you’re into that kind of story but more for a YA audience, this book could be for you.  With multiple characters’ points of view, you get a good cast to add depth to the plot.  Also, the authors do a good job of creating a fantasy realm that feels familiar and unique at the same time.

That said, there were some things that bugged me.  For one, the story is a very, very slow build.  This isn’t entirely bad because this is a first book in a series and you want to get to know the characters.  All the political intrigue makes for a good, suspenseful read.  However, when the action finally takes place at the end of the book, it’s over really quickly and you’re left with a cliffhanger just when things are finally getting good.  I also felt like some of the characters were a little blah or set up to be interesting but then didn’t live up to their potential.  Duchess Isolda in particular is introduced as having a complex double life, but then nothing much comes of it.  Oriana is a typical, boy-obsessed princess type.  Terric’s subplot was good, but he was really selfish and kept screwing everything up in annoying ways.  Bastian was easily my favorite, and his pet squirrel might be the smartest character.  But Rixin and Marcus were vague and underdeveloped, and I didn’t care about Garrion at all.

The writing itself is well done.  It was easy to follow the dialogue, and each character had their own voice so that their chapters felt like everything was definitely from their point of voice.  The action was easy to follow.  The descriptions were just enough to put a clear picture in your head without overdoing it.

If you’re looking for a lighter “Game of Thrones,” give this a shot.

3.5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

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