Where reading is a way of life

Monday, September 30, 2013

The End to a Great Month

It has been a great September!  My goal was to read all of David's YA books, and I am short by one: Archangel Evolution.  But I will be reading it soon!  It was a great month of reading fabulous dystopian, and meeting new characters and exploring great new worlds!  To anyone who has not yet read a David Estes book: you are missing out!

I really wanted to end this month with a bang, so I rounded up a little help.  David, this one is for you!

I had so much fun this month, and my very first Author of the Month was huge success!  Stay tuned for what's coming in October!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Earth Dwellers by David Estes

458 pages, YA Dystopian
The Dwellers Saga #4; The Country Saga #4
My Rating: 5 stars

Fun Fact: There are a whole bunch of extras at the end of the book, including a short story from Year Zero.


The Earth Dwellers is the 4th book in BOTH The Dwellers Saga and The Country Saga. The author recommends that BOTH series are read in their entirety before reading this book (The Moon Dwellers, The Star Dwellers, The Sun Dwellers, Fire Country, Ice Country, Water & Storm Country).

Your favorite Dwellers and Country Saga characters come together in this epic seventh book! 

As President Borg Lecter threatens to annihilate the Country tribes in order to expand his glass-domed empire, Adele ventures into the belly of the beast. Her only hope of survival is the consolidation of Dwellers and Country power before it’s too late. 

Former demagogue President Nailin is eliminated, yet civil unrest infects every alliance. To save Adele, President Tristan faces his greatest challenge yet: unifying unfriendly Dwellers in the Tri-Realms to raise an army against Lecter. Meanwhile, Dazz must convince the Ice Country leaders to march with Siena and the Tri-Tribes on the gates of the Glass City.

The world sits on the edge of a knife. Will Adele, Tristan, Dazz, and Siena defeat Lecter and his army of killers before the Glassies wipe them off the face of the Earth?

My 2 cents

This is definitely one of the best books I've read so far this year. Its beyond amazing, and I'm not sure how to really write a review for it without giving too much away! Be forewarned, if you haven't read the other books in the series, there may be spoilers!

Here we go! Tristan and Adele come up to the surface to find out more about the Earth Dwellers. Siena, Skye and Wilde find them and assume they are their "Glassies" enemies. Skye insists on taking Adele and Tristan prisoners. Along the way, they form a truce and agree to help each other defeat President Lector and the Earth Dwellers once and for all. Meanwhile, Dazz and Buff have made it back to Ice Country, and the goal is to convince the council to join in an alliance with the Tri-Tribes. 

I'm not giving away too much here, this all happens pretty early in the story, and is what we would expect. So the theme of a controlling dictator continues in this story. It seemed amazing to me that Tristan and Adele have come so far, to have to start all over again. 

The familiar themes of family and friendship are carried on throughout this novel, and seem present in just about every page. EVERYONE is fighting for those they love. And it makes the characters have to face some hard decisions. 

The FEELS in this one--Oh. My. Gosh. I had goosebumps before I even started reading, in just epicness of all my favorite characters coming together to rid the planet of evil: Adele, Tristan, Skye, Siena, Circ, Dazz, Buff, Roc, Tawni, Feve, Lara, Hawk, Sadie, Huck, and even Perry! There is several POVs, but the main ones are Adele, Tristan, and Siena. There were horrible moments of tears and thinking, "WHY???" There were also moments of giggling--especially with Roc, I can never get enough of him! 

After the first couple of chapters, nothing in the story was what I was expecting. There are so many twists. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, I was thrown for another loop. I LOVE that! I love not being to guess the ending, and I certainly didn't in this book. Up until the very end, I was completely surprised!

Somehow the author took two very different series with a huge cast of unique characters and weaved one of the best dystopian stories I've had the pleasure of reading! The ending was bittersweet for me. I really didn't want to have to say goodbye to this world and its peoples. But I can console myself with the knowledge that Estes has more adventures coming over the horizon soon!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Guest Post by David Estes

Today I want to welcome David Estes, author of the newest release The Earth Dwellers,  back to the blog to share some of his writing with us!  

Flashes of Humanity by David Estes

When I started seriously writing about three years ago, I NEVER (like in a million-zillion years) thought I’d be doing it full time at this point, with 14 published YA and Children’s novels and more than 1.1 million words written. Never. And I certainly wouldn’t have believed you if you’d told me that my wife and I would be 15 months into a two year trip around the world that would take us to six continents and more than a dozen countries, all while continuing to write and publish my books to a rapidly-growing worldwide ebook market. Seriously, I still slap myself sometimes and thank the Kindle gods for their merciful ways.

But none of that is what I want to talk about today. All of that is awesome and life-changing and a complete and utter dream come true, but it’s not what matters the most. What truly matters is what I take away from the experience, what I learn, and how I grow as a human being. There will always be more words to be written, more publishing deadlines to hit, and more promotions to organize, but sometimes you have to stop, take a deep breath, and just watch the world around you. Otherwise life might just whip by on its Harley, wearing a black bandanna and a leather Angels jacket, knock your hat off, and send curls of dust around you while it speeds off into the distance.

What do you see if you stop and observe? Do you see wars? The threat of nukes from cruel dictators? Global warming and melting polar ice caps and overpopulation? Rapes and murders and babies left in cars and financial fraud? It can be a bleak and hopeless world sometimes, and I must admit, many of the terrible events that dominant most of the news airtime most certainly provides me with inspiration for my dystopian novels…


…my novels also contain a LARGE MEASURE OF HOPE in them, and that’s not me being an eternal optimist or a glass-half-full kind of a guy. That’s me being real, because hope is real and hope is evident in even the worst situations. And the hope comes from real people. Good people. And that, my friends, leads me to the single most important thing I’ve learned from everything I’ve experienced in the last three years: There are flashes of humanity all around us; we just have to look for them.

Some are big flashes, like when there’s a major catastrophe and people from all over the world come together to pitch in, to roll up their sleeves, to donate their much-needed money, TO HELP OTHER PEOPLE. That’s a BIG flash of humanity.

But most others are smaller, like when you see someone on a packed-like-sardines bus give up their seat for a pregnant lady or an elderly man with a cane. That’s a tiny flash of humanity, barely a blip on the radar, but SO MEANINGFUL. And when you pack those tiny flashes all together, they too become something BIG, something WORTH WRITING ABOUT.

I’ve seen so many flashes in the last three years that my glass half full is now overflowing, pouring over the edges and pooling around its stem. Today I want to share just a few of my favorite flashes of humanity:

1) FLASH! Christmas Eve, Merida, Mexico. Adele and I were staying with a Spanish family, planning on spending our Christmas Eve away from home eating cheap takeaway. But no, our host insisted that we join her and her family for a proper Christmas meal. She was the only one in the family that spoke English (her young daughter was learning and her father didn’t), but I swear to you, we laughed more that night than ever before, and most of the time it was at a joke that her father made. Using gestures and context as a guide, we were cracking up well before the translated punch line. On that night, we were their family, too, having only met them a few days earlier.

2) FLASH! Winter in Mexico, 80 degrees Fahrenheit. For just a moment, try to forget about the drug cartels and the gangs and all the other awful things you hear on the news about Mexico. Yeah, that stuff happens and yes, it deserves attention and concern. But that’s not Mexico. Not really. Mexico is families. Ginormous families and extended families who CHOOSE to spend their free time with each other, doing simple things like playing soccer in a dusty field using goals with no nets or having a basic lunch of beans and tortillas on the beach. Family is everything, and despite living in conditions that many of us would consider on the border of impoverished, the people ARE HAPPY. I learned a lot from the people of Mexico.

3) FLASH! Springtime in St. Lucia. On a touristy island that has constant cruise ships coming into port, some of the locals want to take advantage, just like in many other tourist destinations around the world. Everyone’s selling something, and if you want to take a photo of a local doing something “cultural”, you can expect them to ask for a small tip in return. Fair enough. Such was our surprise when we were walking down a long hill one day, only to happen upon a local man juggling a soccer ball using every part of his body but his hands. He was smiling, laughing, having a great time doing it, and he was very talented. “Take a photo!” he exclaimed when he saw us out of the corner of his eye. We were wary at first, because we’d been offered photo ops before, only to be harassed for “donations” afterwards, but soon it became obvious that this man wanted us to take his photo simply because he was proud of what he was able to do with that soccer ball. Adele snapped several photos, which we’ll cherish for years to come. And that man just kept juggling that soccer ball, probably long after we’d finished our trek down the hill.

4) FLASH! Moroccan desert storm! Morocco is a magical place that feels like you’re stepping back in time. From huge cities with cars, scooters and donkeys narrowly passing each other on thin cobblestone medina streets, to beautiful mountain villages, to seaside towns, to desert oases, Morocco has a bit of everything. Staying in Merzouga, Morocco, we decided to venture from our riad just outside of the village into town to have a peek around. We took some photos of camels, bought a bus ticket, and then had a long chat with a man in Arabic (Adele did the talking since she knows the language), when billowing dark clouds rolled in overhead, rumbling like they had a bad case of indigestion. We thought we had time to make the fifteen minute walk back to our riad. We were wrong. Caught in no-man’s-land (basically a cracked-earth desert tundra), the dust began swirling around us, getting in our eyes, covering our clothes, whipped into a frenzy by heavy winds. Thunder crashed, lightning flashed. The rain came seconds later and we started to run. We never had a chance. It was a torrential downpour and the conditions were dangerous to say the least. A truck passed us, stopped, and rolled down the window. The cab was full but clearly they were willing to let us jump in the truck bed, but then another car pulled up, one with a backseat. They motioned frantically for us to get in, which we did. They were hotel workers, wearing traditional garb, and we thought they were from our riad because their uniforms looked identical. Turns out they worked in a different riad and were cousins of the ones who owned our riad. They drove us all the way home and refused to offer payment for the gesture.

5) FLASH! Lake Peipsi, Estonia (Kallaste). We attended a wedding of two close friends, a Chinese girl and an Estonian guy, who we’d met in Australia. Upon arrival, the groom’s family invited us to their home. The groom’s father was a fisherman and offered us smoked fish caught earlier that day. BEST FISH EVER! For the whole four days, they invited us to everything, treating us like part of their family, only having just met us. It was enough that we were their son’s friends. Two barbecues, lots of smoked fish, a rousing game of soccer with—I swear to you—every single boy and guy in the town, ages six to sixty. I couldn’t speak a word of Estonian or Russian, but it didn’t matter. There were cheers, hugs, laughs, and bonds of friendship that will last a lifetime.

6) FLASH! Organic farm, Maiori, Italy. Some people don’t have much, and yet they give it all away anyway. Such were our hosts in a beautiful little bed and breakfast with stunning views of the Amalfi Coast. The 318 daily steps to our temporary home were well worth it! And our hosts were so generous, giving us fresh produce from their garden on a daily basis, as well as “samples” of their traditional Italian dinners that were the size of full meals. We laughed so hard at meal time, because the stories they told were so funny and interesting. And they laughed at us when we ran from their particularly unfriendly and brooding rooster, because, of course, they’d done the same many times before. (There’s even a video of our host running from their rooster on YouTube!) When we left, Adele and the host hugged and cried, and I might’ve teared up a little too.

I could go on for pages and pages about the incredible people and experiences we’ve had on this trip. There’s SO MUCH good in this world, even if it’s hard to see it sometimes. If nothing else, my experiences over the last three years have taught me to look for the spark of light in the darkness, to find the ray of sunshine peeking through a cloud-shrouded sky, and to never—not ever—pick a fight with a moody rooster.

David Estes

Thank you, David!  I love hearing about all your travel adventures, and I hadn't heard all of these yet!  You really should write a memoir just on your trip!  

Other Young Adult Books by David Estes:
The Evolution Trilogy: Angel Evolution   Demon Evolution   Archangel Evolution
 Children’s Books by David Estes:
The Nikki Powergloves Adventures: Nikki Powergloves- A Hero is Born    Nikki Powergloves and the Power Council    Nikki Powergloves and the Power Trappers    Nikki Powergloves and the Great Adventure   Nikki Powergloves vs. the Power Outlaws (Coming soon!)

Friday, September 20, 2013

David Estes Amazon Reviews Giveaway

Want a chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card from David Estes, author of the Dwellers Series and The Country Saga? All you have to do is post reviews for David's books you’ve read on Amazon.com between September 20th and September 27th and enter them into the Rafflecopter form below-- it’s that easy! For each review posted, you will receive two entries into the giveaway! And the more reviews you post, the more chances you have to win, so don’t forget about the sequels! Of course, those who have already posted reviews on Amazon.com can also enter, but be sure to enter each review in the Rafflecopter form so you get credit. You can also receive additional chances to win the $20 gift card by helping to spread the word about the giveaway, see Rafflecopter form below for details.

The Books that qualify for this giveaway are from The Dwellers Series or Country Saga Series by David Estes.

A personal note from David Estes about this giveaway:
Reviews are so important to the success of my books, especially those posted on Amazon.com, which is the largest retailer of eBooks in the world. Each and every review helps allow me to do what I love to do for a living, and I truly appreciate those readers who take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to review my books on Amazon.com, especially the sequels, for which reviews are often forgotten. Thank you all for entering this giveaway and for posting your reviews, I read each and every one! Good luck!

NOTE: All winning entries will be verified prior to the winner being awarded their prize.

Enter on the Rafflecopter below and Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Interview with David Estes

 I want to again welcome David Estes to the blog!  David has agreed to do an interview, so I submitted my burning questions to him.  A few of his biggest fans also had some questions for David!  We will start with some awesome fan questions first!

Where did your inspiration for Perry come from? --submitted by Kelly

Ha! Well, to be honest, Perry was inspired by a teddy bear (appropriately named “Teddy”) that my wife has had since she was very young. When we first started dating, I met Teddy, and I immediately started treating him as if he was a real, live creature (because he is), and the joke has lasted the length of our relationship. Teddy is a constant source of entertainment for us, and I consider him to be my arch nemesis. So yeah, Perry is based off of him! (Yes, I’m weird, I completely understand if you stop reading the interview at this point. But I highly suggest you check out Fire Country and give Perry a chance!)

How did you meet Adele, the love of your life?--submitted by Karen

Awww! I could talk about Adele all day. (Yes, I’m a hopeless romantic.) Boringly, we met at work! However, the story is much better than just that. A couple funny things:
First, I took a random photo with Adele at a company party only a month after I moved to Australia (July 2009). I didn’t know her or even her name, but it was the only photo I took with a female the entire night. But we didn’t get together for another 8 months…
Second, I taught her training course in November 2009, but still we didn’t really have a chance to talk as I was too nervous about teaching a class of 30 students! But fate was already working her magic…
Third, Adele tried to resign from our company in January 2010, but someone talked her out of it! Wow! I might have never met her if she quit at that time…
Finally, in February 2010 we started talking at work while working late. We both ended up attending the same housewarming party and I managed to gather up enough nerve (after talking and laughing with her for over an hour) to put my arm around her. We had our first kiss before she jumped in a taxi to go home. In two days we had our first date. Six weeks later I moved in, and six weeks after that, I proposed. Surprisingly, she said YES!
Eight months after our first date, we eloped in Malaysia. Adele is my soul mate and the biggest supporter I have. I’m lost without her. True story.

Have you ever eaten Perry, whoops, I mean prickler (not Perry) salad or ’zard soup, as the descriptions are very detailed?--submitted by Karen

HA!!!! Of course Karen would ask that. What a gruesome question, Karen! For those of you who haven’t read Fire Country, I use quite a lot of slang in the book. “Prickler” means cactus, and “’zard” means lizard. The characters eat lots of cactus salad and lizard soup, because they live in the desert. Well, I have to admit that while we were in Mexico for four months, I did eat a fair amount of prickler (cactus) salad. And it was during that time that I was writing Fire Country, so Mexico absolutely inspired my ideas for the book. I’ve never eaten lizard, however, and I hope I never do! But again, I saw A TON of lizards while in Mexico, so that certainly influenced the book.

How in the world are you able to switch from Siena’s POV to Tristan’s to Adele’s so effortlessly?--submitted by Karen

I wish I knew! Honestly, switching points of view is so difficult, and I’ve definitely struggled with it at times. The risk is that the characters start sounding similar, which is the last thing you want. This question is referring to The Earth Dwellers, which is the 7th and final book in the combined Dwellers/Country Sagas, in which I switch between three points of view for the entire novel. I think it was easy for me because it’s the 7th book and I’ve become very comfortable with the three characters at this point. Plus, it helps that Siena has an extremely strong and unique voice, which makes slipping in and out of her character relatively simple. Differentiating Adele and Tristan were harder, but their stories are so different that I’ve grown to understand them as characters.

In any case, I’m glad you felt it was effortless, Karen!

And now for my burning questions! 

You have mentioned that you wanted to write a book for a long time before you actually did. What were some of your first story ideas? Did any of your published books originate from these first stories?

Great question. So this was my biggest problem, and why I didn’t start writing earlier. I always believed you had to have a BIG IDEA to be a writer. You know, something on the level of Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. I had ideas, books about humans evolving into angels, books about kids with superpowers, books about teenagers that could only use one of their senses. All kinds of crazy things. But I never thought they were good enough to spend hours and hours writing about them.
Then, between jobs, Adele told me to quit talking about writing and just write. Don’t worry about whether your idea is big enough, just pick what you think is your best idea and start. So I picked the idea about angels and demons evolving from humans. Angel Evolution was born! It’s definitely not my best book and I made a ton of mistakes, but that started it all. I also ended up writing and publishing the Children’s series about kids with superpowers (Nikki Powergloves, 4 books so far), as well as the idea about a teenager who had an unusual condition where he could only use one of his senses at a time (unpublished).
But I’ve found that the best ideas are the ones you get while in the midst of the creative process. The Moon Dwellers and Fire Country didn’t come to me until AFTER I’d started working on all my other ideas. And they’re by far my best and most successful series. So I always give aspiring authors the advice to just start somewhere and give your creativity the chance to blossom!

I know you prefer writing on the beach or by the pool as opposed to writing at a desk. Do you have any other oddities when you write?

My whole life is an oddity! Yes, I like lounging and chilling out when I’m writing. It helps me find a quiet, inspiring place to let the ideas flow. It also makes it feel much less like work!
So what other oddities? Well, I don’t work from an outline. I have a bullet list of random thoughts and ideas, and then I just start writing, occasionally referring to the list and trying to piece everything together. It’s hard, but the thought of using an outline makes me cringe and want to run away from my laptop screaming.
Also, my characters are REALLY LOUD in my head sometimes. Like scary loud. Like I hardly even have to think to let their voices spill out through my fingertips. It’s weird and cool and very funny.
I have a touch (OK a lot) of OCD and I’m obsessive when it comes to hitting my minimum daily word count. It really helps me write a lot of books, but it also stresses me out. Depending on the day, my word count goal ranges between 3,000 and 5,000 words, and I pretty much always exceed it.

Who are your favorite authors, and do you try to mimic any of their writing styles?

Dean Koontz, JRR Tolkien, and Patrick Ness. Personally, I don’t think someone’s “writing style” can be mimicked, nor do I try. Everyone has their own writing style, and no matter how much you try to change it, you always end up back in your own comfort zone. HOWEVER, you most certainly can learn writing techniques from the authors that inspire you, and I’ve learned techniques from all of these authors. Koontz has shown me that it’s OK (and awesome) to mix humor with suspense, and that’s something I love to do in my own writing. Tolkien is the master of creating worlds, and I’ve done my best to learn from him in creating my own dystopian settings. And Ness…wow, I can’t say enough about him. He has an ability to create realistic, complex characters that is unrivaled. I’m still trying to learn from him to do the same thing.

What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest?

The hardest thing for me is keeping everything straight in terms of the consistency of the story, order of events, and character development. As I mentioned earlier, I hate outlining and taking notes, so many times I have to go back and reread large sections to ensure I’m not straying from the direction I’ve started in. One day maybe I’ll learn, but for now I’ll keep writing off the cuff and without an outline!

The easiest thing is hearing my character’s voices in my head. I really try to become the characters, almost like I’m an actor in a movie, and just let their voice flow through me. This is one of my favorite things about writing, too.

If you could pick one of your books to live in, which one would you pick and why?

Wow. Now that’s a tough one because my worlds aren’t exactly friendly places to live. Fire Country is boiling hot all year round, and food is scarce. Ice Country is freezing cold, and as most people know, I’m more of a sun-worshipper than a snow-lover. Water & Storm Country has to face terrible thunder and lightning storms as well as constant battles for power. The Moon and Star Dwellers live in pretty terrible conditions, too, with very little light and a high level of poverty. The Sun Dwellers have it the best, so that might not be a bad place to live, although you’d be hated by the Moon and Star Dwellers. Hmmm, I guess I’d go with Fire Country, because although the people there live a simple life, it’s one based on family. They work together to build a better life for their people, and I wouldn’t mind being a part of that.

A couple of the themes I’ve noticed throughout your books are family and friendship. How much of your life experience has influenced these themes? Do you feel you’ve mastered these lessons or are you still working on it?

Thank you for noticing! Those are absolutely the main themes of my books. I’ve got an awesome family that is very willing to help each other. And I have some amazing friends who I consider to be a part of my family. The lessons I try to show in my books are that no matter what the odds, no matter how horrible life can be, that family and friends are eternal, and are a source of constant hope. And saving and protecting one’s family is the most important thing in the world.
I wouldn’t say I’ve “mastered” these lessons in my own life. Most of the time I feel like I get way more from my family than I give, but I hope to one day pay it all back. I’m a work in progress, just like everyone else.

Which of your books is your favorite? Which is your lease favorite?

Awesome question! For me it’s usually my latest book, because I work really hard at my craft and truly believe I get better with each novel. In this case it’s my latest novel, The Earth Dwellers, which just came out on September 5th. I’m really proud of what I achieved with this book, as I combined two series (the Dwellers and Country Sagas), and brought the characters, plot lines  and settings of each into one book. It was a very difficult challenge, but I think I did both series justice! Although a close second favorite would be the first book in the Country Saga, Fire Country, because the main character, Siena, REALLY spoke to me and came alive in my mind.

My least favorite? Unfortunately it has to be my debut novel, Angel Evolution. Although I’m proud of what I achieved in my first novel, I’ve come so far as a writer, which my readers tend to point out time and time again. So that makes my first novel my worst one! I think readers will still see my creativity in Angel Evolution, but will realize that the writing is pretty rough and early stage. Since then, I’ve written more than 1.1 million other words, and have improved significantly.

Which book gave you the biggest challenge to write?

The Earth Dwellers! As I alluded to earlier, I brought two trilogies together into this 7th and final book in the combined Dwellers/Country Saga, which was a MAJOR CHALLENGE. I was so scared before I started the book, because I didn’t want to let fans of either series down. But once I settled into the characters and the plot, everything really came together and I stopped worrying and started getting excited about what I was doing and what I might accomplish. I hope my readers agree!

How do you feel about killing off characters? And why do you do it?

I freaking hate it. I create characters that I hope my readers will love and appreciate, who I also love and appreciate, and then sometimes I have to kill them, which sucks. Even killing the villains is hard, because I’ve put a lot of time and effort into making them who they are.
I don’t do it just for the sake of killing characters. Anytime I kill a character there’s a reason, one I feel very strongly about, which, unfortunately, my readers will continue to discover in The Earth Dwellers. The dystopian worlds I create are hard places to live in, full of evil and tragedy. Although there’s always hope, sometime the hopelessness needs to come first, usually involving death. If everyone survived and lived happily ever after, it just wouldn’t be realistic. And I’m not afraid to kill off the fan-favorite characters, because in real life good people die too. Sadly, that’s sometimes what makes us all stronger.

If you could pick one character in your books that could come to life and you could meet in person, who would you pick and why?

Siena from Fire Country! No surprise there. She already feels alive in my head, and I’d love to speak to her for real, to see if she really sounds the way I think she does. Also, I personally think she’s a complete crack up, and I know she’d make me laugh, which is one of my favorite things to do.

What is one thing that you want your readers to take away from your books?

Enjoyment! That’s the most important thing. People should enjoy reading. They should come away feeling satisfied, that their time has been well spent. Ideally, they’d be feeling strong emotions at the end of my books, a mix of happiness and sadness and relief and a whole lot of other powerful feelings.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself so far?

Wow, deep question. Well…(sorry, I had to slip that in)…I’ve learned that writing is a part of who I am, not just a hobby or a career or a thing I enjoy doing. It’s in me, deep inside me, untouchable. I will always be a writer, even if I’m not writing. When I’m walking down the street, observing life flash by, I continue to see the words in my head, on the page, on the screen. I see the world in words, and that’ll never change.

Thanks so much for having me on your amazing blog, Jenny, it’s been a true pleasure!! And thank you for honoring me by spotlighting me this month, it means the world to me. I truly hope your readers enjoy my books! I love getting questions and comments from readers, so here are the places I love to hang out!

Make sure you check out David and his amazing books!  And thanks again, David!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Earth Dwellers--A Reading by David Estes

David Estes is back!    He's here to read us  the first few chapters of The Earth Dwellers! Thank you, David!

The Earth Dwellers is the 4th and final book of two sister series--both the Dwellers Saga and the Country Saga.  Take it away, David!

Goodreads Link
These readings were so fun, and I really want to thank David for agreeing to do them!  He is such a good sport!   Thank you, David!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Water & Storm Country by David Estes

380 pages, YA Dystopian
The Country Saga #3
My Review: 5 stars

Fun Fact:  The Stormers do not consume any food that comes from the sea.  They consider it unclean, since that is the life of the Soakers.  


Huck Jones, the son of the admiral of the Soaker fleet, has a legacy to live up to. Haunted by the distorted memories of his mother's untimely death, he must face his demons and the man who raised him as he strives to take the courageous step forward into manhood. When he's transferred to the worst-performing ship in the fleet, everything he believes is called into question when he meets a lowly brown-skinned bilge rat girl. Huck walks a deadly rope...

Meanwhile, Sadie, destined to be a Rider in the Stormer army, seeks to avenge her brother's death at the hands of the Soakers. Trained hard by her mother, an experienced Rider, Sadie knows strength and determination more than most. Her father, a Man of Wisdom, has shown his cowardice more times than she can count. As her world and family fall apart, she must cast aside her anger and focus on the wisdom she's always brushed off as foolishness.

Amidst everything, a Plague ravages all, discriminating against no one.

When four worlds collide, lines will be drawn, sides will be chosen, victory will be sought. Death will be wrought. The mysteries of the Cure for the deadly Plague will be uncovered. Who will survive? And what will those who do learn about themselves and the ones they love?

My 2 cents

Another great David Estes read! I just love this world and this series, and each book seems to get better and better!

The world building in this one was fantastic. I was just absorbed in it. The wild and stormy ocean and shores, the ships and life aboard them, and the beautiful and crazy war horses--just amazing! I so wanted to be a part of all this, even though it was so wild and dangerous. Maybe because it was wild and dangerous. 

This one is a dual POV between Sadie and Huck. Sadie is a Stormer, and lives with her parents in their tent like tribe. They want to live in piece, but must defend themselves constantly from the Soakers (people on the ships.) Hence their wild war horses, which they tame themselves. Huck is a Soaker, and is the son of the Admiral of the fleet. We start the story with him "becoming a man," and trying and failing to please his tyrant of a father. 

I really liked both MCs, not as much a few other favorites, but enough that I was gripped with their stories. Everything they learn and everything that happens brings all the characters closer to the truth of what's really going on. 

The suspense slowly builds until the end, where we get our epic battle scene with all of our favorite characters from the Country Saga. In the end, everyone's stories all tie up together, and finally everything starts making sense to everyone. And although Sadie's and Huck's dilemnas are solved, there is still plenty of story left for the final and epic conclusion to this series! I'm amazed at how the author managed to pull everything together. Just genius!
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ice Country by David Estes

348 pages, YA Dystopian
The Country Saga #2
My rating: 5 stars

Fun Fact: In the slang language of Ice Country, Icy means good looking.  So the next time you find an individual that you think is hot, just call them icy!  :)


Dazz, a hard-edged, fun-loving Icer, likes fighting, particularly while at his favorite watering hole. However, while recovering from a particularly bad break up, his decision to engage in a brutal pubroom brawl leads to a series of events that thrust him into a dark and mysterious scandal involving King Goff, the ice country ruler. 

When his sister is abducted in the dark of night, Dazz pledges to do whatever it takes to get her back, embarking on a quest that threatens to rip apart the very fabric that's barely holding his shattered family together. 

Along the way he meets a group of unlikely allies in the form of a travelling group of fire country natives. Can Dazz, when joined with his best friend, Buff, and new tan-skinned friends, defeat the King and his guards before it's too late for his sister?

My 2 cents

Ice Country is the follow up sequel to one of my favorite dystopians ever, Fire Country. I wasn't sure if this one was going to live up to Fire Country. Namely because I loved the world building, the slang, and the MC, Siena so much in that book.

I shouldn't have worried! Ice Country is almost a polar opposite of Fire Country, and I loved it! We still got great world building, more amazing slang (in fact, I think I may have liked Ice Country slang even better!) and another wonderful MC character!

Dazz...oh my word, Dazz...sigh. I don't know exactly what it was about him. He's rash, has a hot temper, and thinks more with his fists than his brain. The total opposite of what I look for in a guy. But I loved it! He made me giggle a LOT. He is also loyal, and actually a big softie when it comes to things like his mother and his little sister. Awww...who can't resist that in a guy! 

Dazz makes some of the dumbest decisions ever, but it sure keeps things interesting! He's lucky that he has a best friend who has more sense in his head, and tries to keep him on the straight and narrow. Not that Buff succeeds in doing it, but he sure tries!

We also get cameos from some of our favorite characters in Fire Country--Siena, Circ, and Skye, along with a few others. This is where the book just took off for me, and had me hooked with every word. I loved getting to see my favorite characters from Fire Country in the world of Ice Country. The relationships between this group of people gave us great moments of laughter, and really raised the stakes. 

And just like in Fire Country, I felt just about every range of emotion. Like I said, there are lots of funny moments, and there are also some horrible heartbreaking ones. I was so sucked into the story that I really felt every single moment along with Dazz. 

Nothing was what I expected, and I really had no idea what was going to happen next. I loved all the twists, and how even though they seemed to come from nowhere, they made perfect sense looking back. I love how so much of the plot and characters of Fire Country are tied into this book. We also get a few sneak peeks of things to come in the third novel!

In the end, the story ties up nicely, but there is still lots of things to come for the next installment! I felt pretty wrung dry from all the emotion, and had to seek out a hug from my hubby! This was an amazing read, and I will be reading Water & Storm Country SOON!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My Fire Country Playlist

So today I am going to share with you my personal playlist for Fire Country!  I have some pretty diverse selections here, I really didn't stick to a particular genre theme.  I was more concerned with the lyrics.  Just beware, I will be describing my choices and there may be some spoilers involved!  Enjoy!

My Playlist

The Sound of Sunshine by Michael Franti & Spearhead  This is a pretty jaunty song for a pretty dark world.  I picked it because it makes me think of Siena and Circ and their friendship at the beginning.  Circ is really Siena's only brightness in her world.  A lot of the lyrics make me think of Fire Country as well.
Stand by Rascal Flatts   I thought of this song for the scene were Circ and Siena are being bullied and tormented by Hawk. Again, its a pretty upbeat song--if I fit every song to every mood, this would be a pretty depressing playlist!  But the lyrics are perfect!
Monster by Skillet  Finally a dark song that really represents things!  This is Roan's song.  Enough said.
Roar by Katy Perry I am hooked to this song at the moment.  This made me think of the Tug hunt.  Specifically in how Siena's feeling when she sees Circ in danger.  It also makes me think of Lara, who probably is more like the voice in the song. They are both extremely brave in this scene!
Slow and Steady by Of Monsters And Men This one is for Siena and Circ, and how their relationship slowly evolves.  They can't be together, but that doesn't seem to stop them!  Love the feel of this song and the lyrics.
Pacha Nights by Cafe Chilout de Ibiza This one is Perry the Prickler's song!  Don't give me that look, Perry had to have a song! This made me think of him!
Black Balloon by The Goo Goo Dolls  I love the Goo Goo Dolls. This song is the part in the book after Circ dies, and how Siena deals with it.
For Good by the cast of Wicked This is a tribute to the friendship of Siena and Circ, and also a little bit of Siena and her mom.  My favorite song from Wicked!
Now by Paramore I love Paramore!  This song is for a very dark scene when Siena is almost raped and then runs away from her village.  
Try by Pink This song is all about the Wild Ones, and how Siena learns how to fight and basically channel her inner strength.  
This Is War by Thirty Seconds to Mars This song represents the epic battle scene at the end of the novel.
Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts  Can you tell I love Rascal Flatts? Hehe.  This is at the very end, for the reunion between Siena and Circ.  

And that's it!  Leave me any comments if you think of any songs I should add!  I love suggestions!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fire Country--A Reading Excerpt by the Author!

David Estes is back!    He's here to read us  the first few chapters of Fire Country! Thank you, David!

Fire Country is the first book in the Country Saga series.  Take it away, David!

Check out Fire Country!

And don't forget to grab your FREE copy of Fire Country, the first book in it's sister series!  Check out my Earth Dwellers Book Blast for more info!

And don't forget to enter my GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a David Estes ebook!

Fire Country by David Estes

398 pages, YA Dystopian
The Country Saga #1
My Rating: 5 stars

Fun Fact: Prickler Salad and 'Zard Soup are staples of the Fire Country peoples' diets.  Prickler Salad=Cactus Salad   'Zard Soup=Lizard Soup


In a changed world where the sky bleeds red, winter is hotter than hell and full of sandstorms, and summer's even hotter with raging fires that roam the desert-like country, the Heaters manage to survive, barely. 

Due to toxic air, life expectancies are so low the only way the tribe can survive is by forcing women to procreate when they turn sixteen and every three years thereafter. It is their duty as Bearers.

Fifteen-year-old Siena is a Youngling, soon to be a Bearer, when she starts hearing rumors of another tribe of all women, called the Wild Ones. They are known to kidnap Youngling girls before the Call, the ceremony in which Bearers are given a husband with whom to bear children with. 

As the desert sands run out on her life's hourglass, Siena must uncover the truth about the Wild Ones while untangling the web of lies and deceit her father has masterfully spun.

My 2 cents

This seriously is one of the best YA dystopians I have ever read. No lie. I will try to hold myself back from gushing out too much praise, but no promises. I'm afraid this will be a pretty raving review! 

First of all, let's talk a little about Fire Country. Fire Country is a very harsh environment to live in. Life expectancy is somewhere in the 30s, and the heat is unforgiving. Daily life is a struggle. Added to this is the cruel laws of the land. The world building was great in this, I could almost feel the heat, and had no issues imagining any of it in my head. 

The story starts with our MC, Siena, about to turn 16 and basically losing all her freedom. She only wants to be with her best friend, Circ. I LOVED Siena. She is one of my favorite MCs ever! I love her name, and how she seems like she's the runt of the society, but she has a strong mind and personality. I could really relate to Siena, and it was so easy to understand her and her thoughts. Circ was also awesome, and the two made such a great pair in this story. 

Siena's father, Roan, meanwhile is the perfect villian of the story, and I hated him with every fiber of my being. There are a few other villians I also loved to hate, but Roan really takes the cake for despicable creatures. 

The other awesome character in this story was a big fun surprise--a prickler (cactus) named Perry. He's basically alive in Siena's imagination, and helps her through some tight spots. Perry the Prickler made me giggle. And those giggles were needed to balance out the dark turns the story was taking!

There are some horribly bleak and dark moments in this one, and there were several places I was terrified for Siena and was holding my breath. Along with a few tears in certain places. I won't give away any spoilers, but this book made me feel a huge range of emotions. 

And like all David Estes books I've read, I didn't know what to expect! I did not guess most of the twists, although there was one that I saw coming. But I was surprised a lot and I love that!

The best part of the story for me was Siena and her journey. She goes through so much, but she has a lot of spirit. I think this is a great story for teens to read, and they could get a lot out of it. And like I said, this is one of my favorite dystopians now! If you love dystopians, I really recommend this one!

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Moon Dwellers by David Estes--A Reading Excerpt by the Author!

Today I have a fun treat for y'all!  David Estes has provided me a "sneak peek" reading from his book, The Moon Dwellers! Thank you, David for taking time out of your busy travel schedule!   

The Moon Dwellers is the first book in the Dwellers series, and its a wonderful dystopian novel.  Take it away, David!

Check out the Moon Dwellers!

And don't forget to grab your FREE copy of Fire Country, the first book in it's sister series!  Check out my Earth Dwellers Book Blast for more info!

And don't forget to enter my GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a David Estes ebook!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Earth Dwellers Blog Blast + Free book code AND giveaway!

Your favorite Dwellers and Country Saga characters come together in this epic seventh book!
As President Borg Lecter threatens to annihilate the Country tribes in order to expand his glass-domed empire, Adele ventures into the belly of the beast. Her only hope of survival is the consolidation of Dwellers and Country power before it’s too late. Former demagogue President Nailin is eliminated, yet civil unrest infects every alliance. To save Adele, President Tristan faces his greatest challenge yet: unifying unfriendly Dwellers in the Tri-Realms to raise an army against Lecter. Meanwhile, Dazz must convince the Ice Country leaders to march with Siena and the Tri-Tribes on the gates of the Glass City. The world sits on the edge of a knife. Will Adele, Tristan, Dazz, and Siena defeat Lecter and his army of killers before the Glassies wipe them off the face of the Earth?

See where it all begun with The Moon Dwellers and Fire Country
To celebrate the release of The Earth Dwellers by David Estes, the fourth book in both The Dwellers series and Country Saga, David is giving away UNLIMITED free eCopies of Fire Country, book one in the post apocalyptic, dystopian, Country Saga. A little over a year ago, David published his first young adult dystopian series, The Dwellers, and it has changed his life forever. Since then, he’s gone from struggling Indie author to fulltime writer, he’s watched in amazement as his Goodreads fan group has swelled from 300 members to over 1,600, and growing. He's been featured on Buzzfeed, as one of the '15 Book Series To Read If You Enjoyed The Hunger Games', and has just signed on to Andrea Hurst and Associates literary agency. Andrea will we working with David to expand both the Dwellers and Country Saga, taking David's career to a whole new level.
So before the two series collide in The Earth Dwellers, grab the coupon code below and download your eCopy of Fire Country from Smashwords. Share the code with your family, friends and literary inclined pets. The only thing David asks for in return is that if you enjoy the read and continue on with the series, to please leave a positive review on Amazon.com, Goodreads and blogs for each of his books that you read.
Visit: Smashwords
Simply use the coupon code: WM49N and download your FREE eCopy.
Expiration Date: September 15, 2013
The Earth Dwellers will cap off an eighteen month journey that has taken me from unknown Indie author to still-mostly-unknown fulltime Indie author. The change is a subtle one for most people, but for me it’s a dream come true. To the hundreds (and now maybe even thousands!) of readers who have come along for the ride with me, either by reading the Dwellers Saga, the Country Saga, or both, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Now down to business. There may be some of you who have only read the three books in the Country Saga or only the three books in the Dwellers Saga, and are now thinking you’ll read The Earth Dwellers, which is supposedly the 4th book in BOTH the Country Saga and the Dwellers Saga. Well, that’s awesome! However, I must highly recommend that before reading The Earth Dwellers that you read the three books in BOTH series. Trust me, doing so will greatly enhance your experience, as The Earth Dwellers will be taking significant characters from both series and crashing them together (yes, like a water country wave) into an action-packed tale of struggle and loss and hope and friendship… And maybe a little love, too.
The Country Saga
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David Estes was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was very young. He grew up in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually he moved to Sydney, Australia where he met his wife and soul mate, Adele, who he’s now been happily married to for more than two years.
A reader all his life, David began writing novels for the children's and YA markets in 2010, and has completed 13 novels, 11 of which have been published.  In June of 2012, David became a fulltime writer and is now travelling the world with his wife while he writes books, and she writes and takes photographs.
David gleans inspiration from all sorts of crazy places, like watching random people do entertaining things, dreams (which he jots copious notes about immediately after waking up), and even from thin air sometimes! Recently he’s been inspired by some of his favorite authors, like Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, and Maggie Stiefvater.
David’s a writer with OCD, a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a mad-skilled ping-pong player, an obsessive Goodreads group member, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table.  He loves responding to e-mails, Facebook messages, Tweets, blog comments, and Goodreads comments from his readers, all of whom he considers to be his friends.
Where you can find David Estes hanging out:
Blog/website Facebook page Goodreads author page Twitter

Other Young Adult Books by David Estes:
Children’s Books by David Estes:
The Nikki Powergloves Adventures: Nikki Powergloves- A Hero is Born    Nikki Powergloves and the Power Council    Nikki Powergloves and the Power Trappers    Nikki Powergloves and the Great Adventure   Nikki Powergloves vs. the Power Outlaws (Coming soon!)