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YALF - review thread for those who write Young Adult
AP George
Posted: Friday, August 28, 2015 3:07 PM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

The new book is from 

Saturday 21 November is:

Brenda Frank's The Leader of the Band:


Jenna blames her mother for her parents' divorce when they are forced to move to Richwood, Ohio, in June of 1963 because of Mrs. Kerby's new job as English teacher at the high school. Jenna has given up her friends, her father, and her home. She is bored and lonely and wants only to make friends with the popular "good kids" in town. They all belong to the marching band, so she reluctantly becomes a flag bearer and learns to march in step under the tyrannical leadership of director Mel Tigenhoff. Jenna readily joins in with her new friends when they make fun of gorky sophomore drum major Harry Betcher and his trombone virtuoso girlfriend, Julia Camp. As the band marches on from Labor Day to Homecoming to the last football game in November, Jenna learns that careless bullying can destroy not only its target but also the bully. Even though she tries to take a stand for what is right , she cannot forgive herself for what she has done. 


More about the book and it author: 


 At what point do we reach 10,000 words?

About halfway through chapter 5.  I hope you will at least finish chapter 5, though, as there is a surprise at the end!  The whole book is only 46,000 words, by the way.

What age range are you aiming for with this book?

I was aiming for older adolescents but I am hopeful that it will appeal to a wider age range.

If you want, would you share a little background about yourself (family, work, hobbies…)

Brenda Beeney Frank is an Ohioan who in high school disliked marching band and was a mediocre trombone player unwilling to memorize her music. She grew up to be a writing teacher and a psychologist who wrote thousands of reports as part of her efforts to make life easier for children with learning and behavior problems. She enjoys traveling south in the winter, making quilts, and watching football with her husband, their daughter, and their three cats, Chloe, Kiki, and Ted.. - See more at:

What kind of books do you like to read?

I like to read realistic fiction, mysteries, and psychological thrillers.  My favorite writers are Wally Lamb, Jane Smiley, Pat Conroy, Sigrid Undsett, Dickens, and Melville.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote the first version a long time ago because I mistakenly thought it would be easier to write a young adult novel than a novel for grown-ups. Perhaps I needed to exorcise my bad memories of marching band.

What do you hope to get from these next two weeks of feedback or any areas you would like us to focus on?

I added the prologue because of comments made by other readers but I am not sure that it is necessary. If it is not, I would like suggestions on how to make Jenna more likable.  Or is she Ok as is?  She does redeem herself after all.

I really do not need or want line by line or even chapter by chapter comments but would welcome general impressions/suggestions.  My biggest hope is that you will enjoy the book.




In its previous incarnation this thread existed on Authonomy. YALF stands for "Young Adult Literary Forum". The idea behind YALF is for all members to provide useful, honest reviews andthread discussion on the current YA book-of-the-fortnight (which, if you’re a member, will one day be your book).


1) Every two weeks all members will read and comment on the current YA book-of-the-fortnight. The comments are to be posted both on this site and on that author’s book domain. 

2) Reviews are to be constructive, honest and positive and relate to the book, not its author. 

3) A minimum of three chapters (or first 10,000 words) would be good, but feel free to read as much as you like. Comment in one go, or over several posts. Best guide: Give the sort of reviewyou you would like to receive. 

4) When it’s your turn as the YA book-of-the-fortnight you’ll be asked to give a few details about yourself to help us get to know you better - and an idea of what you specifically would like toget out of your reviews - eg: opinions on plot; dialogue; punctuation, characterisation, or just whether people like it and want to read on. Whatever you need. 

5) You don't have to post a review every single review period, but you might have to wait a little longer before your book comes up for review. Every two weeks I tally up participation, so youcan see where you are in the queue. This is calculated as follows: number of reviews given less number of reviews received. 

SO: If you'd like to join us: 

1) You must have a book labelled YA, (or you may just enjoy the genre and review without a book.). 
2) Be committed to helpful reviews all the way through - even after you've had your review! We all really value constructive comment. 

Simply leave a post on this thread letting me know you’d like to join. Give your name, the name of your book and the link and you’ll be added to the list. Then dive in to review the currentbook. 

Members (and stats): 

Brenda F/Leader of the Band (5)

BE Knight/Winged  (1)

S E Dyne  (1)

D'Estaing/Evenrood  (1)

TW Kirchner Hellbound (1)

HeidiMP/Drowning in Rivers  (0)

Mawdlin (0)

Megan Christopher/The Practical Orphan's Guide to Surviving A Fairy Tale (0)
Lexie Bowman  (0)

AFLove/Sedition  (0)

 Lilmerlin/Shondoreen  (10)

AP George (9 )

Seren  (3)

PJ Davitt/One Shot at Glory  (4)

 ColeB/Inescapable Heat (1)

--edited by AP George on 11/27/2015, 1:49 PM--

Posted: Friday, August 28, 2015 3:45 PM
Joined: 8/20/2015
Posts: 95

I think the other thread will be deleted, so here's a repeat posting:



 A YALF, YARG (and whatever else I owe you, Heidi ) review of Drowning in Rivers.

I’ll try and post this on both Autho and BC, to maintain some continuity.

I’m not going to look at my previous review of this (was that under the FCCG? I can’t remember) because I’d prefer to come to it fresh. You can then compare reviews and spend an entertaining hour pointing out where I contradict myself

WARNING: Contains spoilers. If you haven’t read Heidi’s book yet, do yourself a favour and read it, before you read this.

Prologue. I don’t get it. It tells us nothing. She might have all sorts of conflicted views about who she is and why she’s like that and be unable to articulate any of them because to do so would unleash a holocaust of tears which she might never ever ever be able to stop crying. Or she might just be a bit of a slacker and can’t be arsed.

Chapter 1
“bunkmate” - ? my eyebrows metaphorically rise. I don’t remember that twist. You really mean bunkmate and not room or cell mate?

“Two-tone” – unnecessary because immediately after you say “chocolate and blonde”, and more specific is better.

“That’s pretty much the only good thing about getting out. I mean, five hundred hours? I did the math, that’s basically a part-time job with no pay for a whole year. Couldn’t they just let me stay here another month or something?” – I know, from reading this before, that she’s been sentenced to do community service when she’s released, but I think you’re presuming a little much of your readers to infer that from these lines.

“I bound up to the mirror” – how big is her cell? Bound implies run, to me, or at least fast movement for more than a couple of steps.

I have no idea how long highlights take to grow out. Is it six months?

“Fa’ life” – “fo’ life” ? I don’t know, just looks more consistent with earlier speech pattern.

“heterosexual life partner” – I remember that from before – still none the wiser what it means

“to my newest bestie.” – newest doesn’t ring true to me. Newest implies that she’s only become her best friend in the last few days or something, and as opposed to whom, her previous bestie that she had last week? They’ve been incarcerated together for at least six months and all the dialogue before is how close they are.
But a great way to finish the first chapter.

Chapter 2
“While he tells me in (too much) detail about Great Grandpa Willis’ recent colostomy,” – “she” not “he” and would she really be talking about colostomies – that sounds a little trite – a bit slapstick?

“becomes visible. Right” Colon I think there, not full stop, and therefore lower case “r” on River.

“I release my held breath” – she can’t release non-held breath. I know what you mean, but I’d work out a different way of putting it.

“During the sixth grade field trip that would have allowed me to do that, I’d had the flu” – Bit clumsy. “When my sixth grade class went, I had the flu”

“it’s essentially just a ginormous metal arch but there is something so magnificent about it,” – she comes across as a bit inarticulate, and you’ve already said all this two paras ago.

“I turn to Mom, shocked by her affronted tone” – sounds a bit awkward. “I turn to Mom. She sounded pissed” sounds more in character.

I don’t like the “I asked you ‘why’…” dialogue here. Its seems false and inserted against the run of the chapter and also enunciated too clearly “Why exactly did you push Nate’s truck into the lake?”, like her Mom’s wearing a wire for the FBI and wants to get her daughter’s confession on tape. Surely if she was going to ask that question, at this precise moment when Grace has just got into her bedroom having not seen it for half a year (which I find hard to believe however confrontational her Mom is), she’d say something like “Why did you do it?”. They both know what Grace did. Why is she spelling it out? If you have to get the details across to us right now (I’d argue that you don’t), you need to do it differently.

“kids,” she” – think a full stop here rather than comma.

“with my very own blue eyes shining back” – nice touch

“Don’t EVEN call me again” – think you’ve emphasised the wrong word here. If it’s “don’t EVER call me again”, it’s okay, but if “even” surely it should be “don’t even CALL me again”?

“which is perfect because South St Louis has a wide selection of restaurants” – are you writing a tour guide?

Chapter 3
“you need to understand the full extent of what you did” – surely she would have been told? Don’t they have a victim’s impact statement, or is that just in the event of a fatality? Even if not, I just think there would have been a fairly long time between the incident and Grace’s sentencing, at least a few months, and in that time it would have become clear what the impact on Andrea really was and Grace would have been told, or seen in the media.

“My mouth flops open with a loud exhale as he metaphorically punches me in the gut.” – I think you could evidence her reaction better with dialogue, which then would build more organically to the “Hell no!” expostulation. A simple “What?” then he continues with “You start on Monday…” she interrupts, “What the fuck?” as her reaction gathers pace, and then he finishes “You’ll be back on August the twenty-ninth” and she explodes. I don’t really like the “metaphorical punch in the gut” line, and I also think her explosion is too well articulated to be the first thing she says after being told her fate.

Would she really think of Lox at this moment? I think she’s still, at heart, the self-centred cow who went in to juvy, and your book describes her character arc to become a more empathetic individual, no? So at this point I would have thought she would be entirely concentrating on herself.

And then in a flash she capitulates and says she deserves it. I’m not convinced of her emotional arc the way you’ve painted it, the pacing is from nothing to explosion and back to mute acceptance within a few lines. I think this is a key scene which needs a little work.

“She was so tiny.” - Most twelve year olds aren’t that tiny. Mine is as tall as his mother already. And Grace was only sixteen when it happened, so there wouldn’t actually be much of a difference in size unless Andrea is unusually small?

Chapter 4
“Which is creepy.” – just “Creepy” alone would be stronger I think.

“Feel free to decorate” – really? She’s only there three months.

I’m STAGGERED that she would go off with four blokes in a pick-up truck the first night she’s supposed to be at Andrea’s. Hasn’t she ANY guilt or shame at all? Whatever she has coming to her, she deserves it. And I’m also bemused by her parent’s reaction of just abandoning her, given that they would know she has a history of panic attacks and could be lying by the side of a road or in casualty or something.

“After talking with Bear and the girls for a bit, the girls take me around to introduce me.” – introduce me around, or just show me around.

“being put out so pull my shirt” – so I pull

I thought ambience was spelled with two e’s. Maybe it’s a US thing.

“freaking bipolar.” – new insult please

A seventeen year old girl, on a Harley she’s unfamiliar with, having been drinking any beer at all? I’m sorry, she wouldn’t have made it fifty yards. And you don’t need to prime a Harley, unless it’s a real old one, and if it was a real old one, she wouldn’t be able to steer it.

“I slide off the bike and remove the helmet. He secures it on the back of the bike” - a little wordy. You could cut either “bike”. Is it really necessary that we know where he puts it? And surely if he’s going off home he’s going to be wearing it anyway?

OH NO HE ISN’T – Great twist!

I did that thing with memorising creaky stairs, so I know just where Bear’s coming from.

“Knowing who he is now, I’m worried he might try to make a move” – she’s a very poor judge of character, or else it’s just her crotch talking.

Right, okay, bit of a retraction in order. So now her parent’s behaviour (leaving, having watched Grace just flee the house in a panic attack) is more explainable. They got a text from Bear telling them he’d found her. I wondered why you were making such a big deal about the hot guy on his phone. When did he see her so that he knew who she was? Donna was blocking the bedroom door when he left. I suppose you’ll tell me that it was when the curtains twitched when she arrived. You see, I was paying attention ! I still don’t get Grace’s behaviour though. It’s somewhat sanctified afterwards by the fact that the Rivers family appear to blame themselves as much as Grace for Andrea’s accident (which is a bit of a stretch, to be honest). But when she arrives Grace doesn’t know that. I realise she’s not under house arrest or anything, but to just run off seems unpardonable.

That was to the end of chapter 5. Great stuff. There’s plenty to look at in my notes above, but most of them are stylistic things I think. I’d write it differently, but it’s your book of course. Unless you think I’ve got a point, you can safely ignore quite a lot of it.

One or two typos, but otherwise a great standard of writing.

Characters nicely drawn but I must admit Grace I haven’t quite worked out yet. She seems quite a nasty piece of work. She doesn’t seem to have any real repentance. Sure, she wells up a bit and goes hysterical when she realises that she’s going to be looking after Andrea all summer, but it read to me as petulance rather than distress (what I said about the emotional arc of that meeting), not deep-rooted emotion of any particular kind. In fact, she seems generally quite shallow. Her only classification of any male on the scene is either fuckable or not fuckable within seconds of making their acquaintance (I thought men were supposed to do that?) and it's actually her that's the prick-tease. The only thing she seems to have evinced any real emotion about is The Arch building at the beginning of Chapter 2. Maybe she’s just not a people person.

The plot I think is what makes this book stand out. It’s a great premise, and on this evidence you seem to have an adept grasp of twists. I was neatly taken in by Bear – never occurred to me to put two and two together, in spite of, now I look back, quite a few hints. There are layers of complexity that I feel that I can trust you to unravel , but I don’t feel that I know where, necessarily, the story is going at all <edit> In a good way. What I mean is I'm intrigued. I reread this and thought you might think that was a negative comment<end of edit>. I think it needs a bit of tidying and tightening up, but then you know me by now. I’ve just started another rewrite of Evenrood. There’s a “cringe” moment on almost every page, in spite of all the nice things people said about it. Does it ever end?

AP George
Posted: Saturday, August 29, 2015 1:00 AM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

Thanks, D'Estaing!
Posted: Saturday, August 29, 2015 9:43 AM
Joined: 8/20/2015
Posts: 32

Moving my review over from the sinking ship:


YALF review for Heidi Peitz’s
‘Drowning in Rivers’

Hello, Heidi!

And once more: As I am not sure how helpful my critique is and since it is just my personal opinion, take it with lots of sugar or salt. I shall give my best pointing out what strikes me and let you know my thoughts as I read along!


COVER: Great! Not sure about the font… There are dripping ones (not blood dripping lol)

I like this one very much, might be one of the most intriguing I have ever read on Authonomy - and I am not into contemporary at all.


Seems a bit long?

I learned it's “each of them has secrets” not have?

The longer Grace stays with them,
I'd start a new para after ex

Even her new crush keeps her at a distance to hide his own.
His own distance?


Intriguing once this “blond” got the connection to the “Rivers-family” lol

First sentence already draws me in - I'm a sucker for killer starts. Locked up? Prison stylist? Give me more! Yes, this will immediately catch youngsters and put them on the edge.


starts to smile
especially since starts is repeated in the next sentence

Everything on the other side of the rolled steel door leads to freedom and she is still caged.


While he tells me in…

He uses the tone he has he knows I can't resist.
Ok, I had to read that a few times and still found it jarring. I know what you mean but it doesn't go down smoothly.

My heart stops beating
My heart stops would be enough

She's a reformed wild child too.
One of my favorite lines!


I know he's much older than here


At what I find out is Matt's truck, a shiny blue one with a lift kit, I officially meet Ronnie.
Awkward sentence structure that threw me.


No matter how hard I looked, nothing tripped me
I really enjoyed the through-the-closet help!


I have to confess I didn't - yet - get into Grace. This could be totally my problem as I generally have a problem hooking with characters when the book is written in first. At any rate I found myself a bit distanced from her.
I instantly liked Bear though. He is intriguing and I got even at that first encounter the impression that there is more to him and that he probably isn't as clean and candy as he appears (I read the pitches after )


Is very up-to-date and lively - easy to follow, clearly observed YA language


Grace is consistant.


I am not doing to well with contemporary and problem ridden teenagers. Probably because I've had a too grand share of it all myself. With only five chapters I feel I got plunged into it all violence, aggression, sex, alcohol - I found it a bit hard to deal with and especially a lot to deal with so early on. But it probably only sets the atmosphere and with those early chapters it's hard to tell where the story goes. From Grace's background it's clear though that she will be tested with this experience…I am certain that the story will appeal to young adults.

One thing:
I'dlike a tiny glimpse of recognition from Bear when he becomes aware of Grace though (if it was there I missed it). At least eyes widening, stiffening, something. Their meeting is a touch too smooth for me which I didn't really buy. He can start his act right after - but just a touch. It's clear his family alerts him that the houseguest escapes, so if she appears in front of him I'd at least expect a tiny - quickly masked - reaction…


Is revealed early - through prison reflections and returning home -on which works and sets the stage. Of course a different approach could be to reveal smaller doses after Grace arrives at the Rivers… I know, the detail about what truly happened with Nate is still hiding (kind off as we suspect), but …


as I don't know the whole story it's hard to tell where this will lead- especially how Grace will grow from it, but from what I know so far:
inner conflict Grace: the guilt
outer conflict Grace: facing her “victim” and the family
character development Grace: not sure yet. She already feels guilty, so I don't know in which direction she will develop. Initially I would have thought she'd be more hostile and refusing and learning to be more sensitive later on. Alas she already suffers in that regard so it's hard to tell for me.
Can't say about the other characters as I know too little about them at this point


Surroundings and atmosphere are working well to help me picture myself in the setting you create. I was there. Not always happy, but lurking. Well, I did njoy the scene when we returned to the house


Clearly polished. Well polished. This is extremely well written and appears to be top researched (or experienced) and something YA will be able to totally get into and relate to I think.


Chapters 4/5 I found had a lot of sticky sentences with a high number of glue words in it, slowing me down a lot. Other than that it has a great pace with perfect sentence variety. Smooth read!


Captures teen angst and anxiety extremely well to create a believable package that's not easy to digest in its honesty.
Pronoun and Initial pronoun percentage is unusually high, which has to do with first I assume - which again is something I am not into, just as contemporary in general. Still the style was so compelling that I was drawn in and would continue to read even if it is not me.


clichés I discovered:
it takes my breath away
watch your mouth
bottoms out
losing my mind
over the edge
follow in your footsteps
legend in his own mind.


redundancies found:
outside of
reason why
look ahead to the future
heat up
start off or out



Sorry, there was little for me to point out lol

This is a very modern and refined story that captures teen language and teen problems uncensored. I assume the target audience are older Young adult - even New adult as the language and description is direct and uncolored - and might be disturbing to younger kids (or their parents lol)
A well marketable book that is already very well polished though!

Even if neither theme nor first is mine, I'd be intrigued to find out how this ends…

I hope this helps a bit! It is only my opinion - one reader out of the thousands I hope you will find!
My thoughts for now - for all they are worth
All the best and happy writing!


(Feels seriously short when I'm not doing a whole - and there's so little to comment on the first 10.000 lol - great work!)

Posted: Sunday, August 30, 2015 2:06 PM
Joined: 8/29/2015
Posts: 4

Hi. I didn't get to join back on Authonomy because of the news about its closure. But here I am, and I'm ready to join now. So, name: B.E.Knight. The name of my book is Winged (YA high fantasy). And the link would be this one:
Posted: Monday, August 31, 2015 1:04 PM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 3

This is my review for Drowning in Rivers

Hi Heidi, The usual bits that this review is just my personal viewpoint and take what you would like and leave the rest. I will review each chapter as I go so hope it makes sense.

 Like the prologue.

 Chapter OneI liked the overall tone of the work. The speech sounded right to me, but not being American, I wouldn't know if it was true, but worked for me. I wasn't sure about the ‘heterosexual life partner’ comment but I did like the nicknames the guard (?) gave the two girls.You give a good sense of ‘G’ wanting to get out with a good amount of uncertainty.I'm left wanting to know what ‘The Plan’ is!Chapter TwoI like the lead in. Typo - reads ‘while he tells me…’ should be she.

 I like the description of the arch as a symbol of hope and optimism- great. I don't like the word ginormous, but that's just personal.

 fab insight into what makes her mum tick. ha! books in alphabetical! (that's me!) a typical mum thing to do. good phrase - My stomach bottoms out.. Nice intro to Dad. Ah - jobs and an apartment. was this the plan? Nate has shown up what a guy he sounds! I like the interaction between Grace ( she has a name!) and her mum, good to know it's not totally bad between them. Nice end of chapter.

 Chapter Three. like the crossing out. Princess Grace? That's a little weird. sorry. “What all do you know about Andrea Rivers?” this doesn't seem to read well with me. “Tell me everything you know about…” is simplistic and boring but you could easily adapt it to be much better. (smiley face with a wink as I don't have emoji on my pc.)her swooping anger and panic were a mini epic and then she flattened really quickly. that scene made me begin to see Grace in both a sympathetic way ( the way she is frightened of facing the Rivers) and a ‘tough, you caused it and think 6 months in Juvenile is pay enough’. I wanted more than just the twenty odd lines I read - it was good, I just wanted more of her attitude and the interaction between her and the adults. what a great ending - yes, I know a comment has been made about Andrea being tiny, but my youngest is tiny, and when she was 12, she looked about 8. So it works for me.

 Chapter four.I liked her reaction - the ‘flight’ is good self preservation but NO!! I do not like what she is doing - going off with boys she doesn't know just because she cant face Andrea, and so she might make some friends?? drinking? Grace, I think you're selfish and nasty.Bear - does he turn out to be Andreas brother (Theodore, Roosevelt, Bear) have to wait and see.

Chapter Five Andrea's brother.. cockblocked? never heard it called that before  not much to say on this chapter. the interaction between Bear and Grace is nice. Nate is still an asshole. Not sure I like Grace at the mo, which I'm not happy about, as I always feel I should have a sense of loyalty to the main protagonist.

 Chapter Six“What all am I expected to do” this is the second time I see you have used this term. Is this an American thing or a phrase used where you live? In England, I would tend to use something like "Tell me everything you expect me to do" or I would leave out the 'all'.

 Chapter Seven good easy reading. ok I'm going to hazard a few guesses here. Josh's sister is pregnant and is Bears ex? hense the animosity? maybe the baby is Bears or not, due to her cheating over the summer. hmm.

 Chapter Eight oh no Poor Bear and Crystal. so sad, that poor baby.

 Chapter NineJust who is Adam? is he not just a school friend? someone she met through counselling? this chapter. I like her reaction to Adam - I feel this is most ‘real’ that she has been; not putting on a front.

 Chapter Ten malcontent - great word.nice chapter again. nothing more to say. I enjoyed it.

 Chapter Eleventhat explains a lot of what was missing for me to be on Graces side.

 Chapter Twelve Good moral talk to Andy!

 Chapter 13 busy chapter and quick reading.

 I'm just going to read the rest of the book and type at the end now, then comment.

 Heidi, this was a really good read. The tempo was good and it flowed well. This is not my usual type of read, but it kept my interest enough to ‘want’ to read to the end.Your characters were well thought out, even though, as a mum, I would struggle with having to not only face the person who damaged my daughter, but also being nice to her!They were both flawed but with redeeming qualities which, whilst I did not shout for them, made me quietly satisfied with the outcome.This is a book I would recommend with no hesitation 

Posted: Monday, August 31, 2015 5:08 PM
Joined: 8/31/2015
Posts: 5

YALF review for Drowning in Rivers.


All this is my opinion and please take the parts you feel are useful, leave anything you disagree with. You're a great writer with a strong voice and anything I say is only with a view to help. I am simply another perspective from a writer across the Atlantic with very difference social/cultural experience to you.

Okay, so the title. I see that it's a reference to the car in the lake and the name of the family.

For me this is a coming of age story exploring the journey that Grace takes from juvenile delinquency to adulthood and home ownership. It revolves heavily around her romantic experiences and friendships.

This is a departure from my usual genre. I've read the other two books you have on the site and I have to say the sci-fi hook in the Plain Sight books does a lot of work for me. I was never into teen romance, even as a teen.

That being said you have an easy flow in your writing style and the immediacy of the first person perspective kept me reading to the very end of the story, which I  finished in a snap.

Grace is confrontationally honest and upfront in a way I never was as a teenager (or adult for that matter) but I could still relate to her. Her dialogue is, for the most part, highly authentic to her internal train-of-thought. It gave her solidity as a character and a level of integrity that we as readers (and the other characters in the book) come to appreciate and like.

You tackle a lot of relevant teen issues that were simply not a thing in my teens. Issues such as social media, meth addiction and revenge porn. These are not heavily laboured or overworked but woven into the narrative, adding weight to the very realistic world through which Grace negotiates.

The major storyline is, of course, rather tragic. The accident involving Andrea is terribly sad. That her parents would want Grace around is astounding (but from a reformation perspective logical and highly effective). It's a great hook for a storyline.

 I have to say, although she is adorable, Andrea is a little to sweet a character for me. I would have liked for her to have grown and learned a bit from Grace. We see her get a boyfriend but major characteristics, like her being pleased about the accident because she was always pushed into gymnastics were never fully explored and she didn't get to resolve them. She is a little passive in the end, dragged around the plot by the romance and her parents. I understand that she is only 12, and wheelchair bound but her resolve and forgiveness showed a depth of character that I think could have been pushed a little further. I would also like to say that we learn about her behaviour on the day of the accident, (if I remember correctly) making out with an 18 year old. This is kind of shocking and I would expect her to address it (and maybe learn from it?) in some way with Grace. I think we don't find out who the boy was (from the skeevyness I was imagining Josh but seemingly not) and Andrea herself never refers to that part of the day.
The conversation about the other gymnasts calling her vagina a waste was heartbreaking and thank goodness she had Grace there to knock that out of the park. 
Lastly, there are a couple of incidents where Grace is a bit "ugh, God I have to talk to Andrea" (paraphrasing) and they seem mean, as if the problem is with Andrea and NOT that Grace is not in the right place to talk to anyone much at that moment.

Bear. Well. What can I say. I liked his little trick entrance into the story and our anticipation as readers. I was surprised he wasn't a lot more wary of Grace/protective of Andrea. He's sexy, handsome dark, has issues, works on cars, drives a dangerous Harley. Classic Brooding YA hero (have you read @broodingYAhero?) in a good way. He's experienced, fun, sexy, considerate. He's going through a lot of really crazy issues. His sister being maimed, his son dying a terrible painful death, his parents affair and divorce, physical abuse (hints of alcohol abuse and maybe prior drug abuse). Not to mention the actually ridiculous pressure of being a medical student (not ridiculous in the story, literally ridiculous. My brother studies Med.)  The problems for Bear just keep layering over and over throughout the story. While these unusually immense burdens are acknowledged as such, I have to admit while reading I thought "Oh God more shit for Bear? Really?". Having said that, this is a novel and novels need drama. While there were a lot of issues for Bear they were well written and also levelly written (not glorified or made into melodrama). I was freaked out by the "You've laid pipe since Crystal" comment from Mr Rivers. I don't know why but it seemed so crude and laddish. Also, I only just noticed the METH addict is called Crystal Hahaha

The 'will-they-wont-they' drama, and subsequently the 'when-will-they' drama is what keeps the book (and actually, your other two books) ticking over. It's satisfying when 'they do'. A couple of things I really liked about the sexier scenes

 (a) Although Grace is not a virgin, nor does she regret this status, having sex with Bear is a big deal to her. She takes it seriously and shows a great deal of both self-restraint and self respect. I'm a fairly modern woman with little denial as to what teenagers get up to (both in my day and today) but I have to say I was applauding this aspect of Grace's character. If I had a teenage daughter I would have been loving her reading that.

(b) She talks about and explains the difference between sex with Nate  (being used as a sex object) and 'making love' with Theo. Thank goodness. Thank goodness that in this day and age where porn is so accessible online, so much of it fairly clinical with no romance and high objectification, that we have ebooks and this massive surge of romantic fiction to redress the balance. I mean how awful would it be if teenage boys and girls only knew of and experienced the Nate's of this world and their bang bang, penetrate, ejaculate sexual ethos. Thank goodness they can read about and experience the crushes, the lust, mental and physical foreplay and the logarithmically amplifying need for someone with the explosive and beautiful sex life it can generate.


Honestly not my cup of tea but well written and highly readable The characters were real and relatable.
Lexie Bowman
Posted: Wednesday, September 2, 2015 6:34 PM
Joined: 8/20/2015
Posts: 1

Hi Heidi,

Sorry to be so late with my review. I was moving house and now I'm busy being on holiday in France but I have squeezed in some time with DIR for you 

Please disregard anything that doesn't ring true but hopefully some of my opinions will be helpful. Remember, I've read three chapters before but it was a while ago now so I'm starting again from scratch and will comment as I read. I'll also review on BC for you.

Chapter breakdown - Prologue

There is something jarring about this first line. It's the ‘Off to do last’ bit. It reads a little awkwardly. Having said that, I like the prologue. It's short and sweet but its a good starting point I think.

Chapter 1

You've made some changes to this. It's better. Tighter. It's giving me a better sense of who the two girls are. I still think the way you summarise their relationship without overkilling it, is great. Very clever. My only issue is that we don't get much of a sense about Grace in this early stage. I kind of want something to hook me to her but at this stage there is nothing. It's admirable that she is so supportive of her friend and she's got a bit of sass about her which sort of warms me to her. But then she says ‘Keep it chill’ and I cringe. Perhaps I'm too old.

Chapter 2

I'm free….and in hell.

I've always loved the way chapter 1 end and chapter 2 start links together. Very clever.

'…while incarcerated all I want to do is open the car door…' - I feel like there needs to be punctuation before ‘all’. I would make it a new sentence. Maybe you are trying to exemplify her mother droning on and on by having a running sentence but I'm not sure it works here.

'While he tells me' - should be she?

'Everything else is in total order, even my books are in alphabetical order by author' - I don't like the use of ‘Order’ twice in quick succession. The repetition tripped me up. Perhaps change it to ‘Even my books have been alphabetised by author’

'then i met your father,' she swoons… - there needs to be a full stop at the end of this dialogue. ‘She swoons’ should be a new sentence.

'give him a hundred kids,' she looks… - there needs to be a full stop at the end of this dialogue. ‘She looks’ should be a new sentence.

'But i didn't feel whole. Dad makes me feel safe. Whole' - This would have had more impact if you hadn't repeated the word whole. I think it would be better if you changed the first whole to something else and then left the last one, because it's quite emotive.

'Nate wheedles' - Not sure you need this.

'That tone he has he knows I can't resist' - It reads weird with the ‘ he has’ - you could lose that part and just have ‘That tone he knows…’

Chapter 3

'Thin framed and delicate' - would a promising gymnast be thin framed? You probably know more than me but all the gymnasts I've ever seen have quite muscular legs and broad shoulders. 

Chapter 4

The sentence starting ‘Donna leads me into the dining room…’ is a very long sentence. The part that says ‘From across the table from under fringy, dirty blonde hair’ is awkward. Either cut the table of the fringe.

Chapter 5

I'll be honest, I'm so damn engrossed that I've stopped reviewing for a while.

'…next to the steps I hadn't noticed before' - this sounds like she hasn't noticed the steps before.

Question: was it supposed to be obvious that Bear was Theo? I definitely saw it coming and wondered if you were intending for everyone to know but Grace?

'Tight muscular body' - she knows this how?

Overall comments

This is very strong and honestly, I have little in the way of criticism. I got hooked on your voice by about chapter 4 and I was suddenly engrossed. My advice would be to keep looking for typos and to really watch your repetition. There are some paragraphs where you repeat the same word three or four times and it's something that easily trips people up. 

You are a great writer though, FYI.

It took me a while to get into Grace. We don't see much of her personality until she meets the guys in Hannibal and then the way they bounce off each other works really well and we see her personality shine. I start to like her by the end of chapter 5. Funnily enough I love Theo from the beginning but Im a sucker for a hot bad guy with a smart mouth.

Your dialogue is flawless. Really. It's riveting and you've been able to create very realistic, different voices for your characters. I really loved reading it. 

I think the central premise is great and I can see there is a lot of room for Grace to develop although I do wonder where the story is going to go, I can't imagine there being too many twists and turns although I hope theres a Bear and Grace pairing by the end. I love a good OTP opportunity in YA books.

My only other comment is that you use a lot of slang. It's all relevant and great and you clearly know a lot about modern teens. My only concern is that using phrases like ‘Bae’ and ‘Zero fucks to give’ will date your book very quickly when the terms fade out. Is it important that we hear your characters using these terms? Does it tell us anything about them other than the fact that they're teens in 2015? Is the use of these slang terms vital to their personalities? I feel like the slang is being used more to show that you understand teens and you are qualified to write for them, but actually - you do this brilliantly by writing an honest, snarky, believable character and she's not believable because she uses the word Bae. Although I realise she doesn't use it, Nate and Theo do. Hopefully you get what I'm trying to say.

I have to say though, I really loved this and I'm going to read on till the end just for pleasure. I think the romance is the main hook for me though and that takes 6 chapters to kick off, so maybe work on hooking the readers and getting them invested in Grace's progress from earlier on.

I hope this is helpful. I will post this on BC soon although from what I've seen, they need a more specific review so I'll get to it asap but maybe not before the week is out. I've got some quality holiday time to fill.
Posted: Saturday, September 5, 2015 4:00 AM
Joined: 8/31/2015
Posts: 5

Who's up next Anna?
AP George
Posted: Sunday, September 6, 2015 9:27 AM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

I couldn't get onto the BC yesterday, so posting this only now. 


Here's my review of DIR

I think your writing is strong. I like your style. The story flows well and there are enough surprises/changes/twists to keep it interesting

At the same time, if I ask myself if this Is this a story I would buy, I'm not sure - but not because I don't think it's not good enough. I think it can stand on its own two legs (from what I've read so far - which is chapter , but maybe down to personal preference. 

You start off with a promise of a story of redemption/healing, which I found very interesting, but then launch into pure romance, which I personally like slightly less. This is down to personal preference again.

The other thing that occurred to me when I was reading is how you start the romance off – Grace meets Bear before she knows who he really is. I really like how he takes her home after she partied with him all night and then finds who he is. Really interesting turn of events. However, I think her behaviour during their first meeting is somewhat desperate – of someone who would fall for any guy, maybe because she didn’t get enough love while 
growing up. This could be a valid reason, but you have given her loving parents, so this behaviour is somewhat inconsistent for me. I also think that paying so much attention to Bear’s appearance makes her somewhat shallow (for me, that is, which again is down to personal preference). Perhaps she could notice other things about Bear on their first meeting that could give her character more depth. 

Also, you build story tension by not letting Grace and Bear be together. This is good and it immediately made me wonder will they/won't they? However, so far, it's is all based on what Grace believes (she thinks he isn't interested in her). Belief is a powerful thing and it can lead us astray/deceive us, but this takes us away from the main thing of what I feel the story is about – Gracie screwed up and is trying to rebuild her life. You could make it more simple - she decides she can't be with Bear because he’s the brother of Grace’s victim, period. But then as the attraction builds, this could provide tension. You could also make it into a moral dilemma – Grace decides in her mind she can't be with Bear, but her body does otherwise (like when she lounges in a swimming suit waiting for Bear to come back.)

I like Andy – considering what happened to her, she is extremely forgiving, and I think for the most part, this comes across as genuine. I do feel you could mix it up a bit in the beginning. You say she's already dealt with what happened to her, but I would think Grace’s appearance could bring some of it back – otherwise there needs to be something else to make her complete forgiveness more convincing. 

I like the strand of Bear/Theo’s son. Really good stuff. I wasn't sure about him crying and coming to Grace’s room for a night. Could happen in real life, I suppose, but the bedroom scene especially felt a bit too contrived as if you were looking for creative ways to bring them together but didn't quite manage to do it seamlessly.

Anyway, these are just thoughts that ran through my head as I read DIR, and feel free to ignore them if they don't resonate with you. 

AP George
Posted: Sunday, September 6, 2015 9:28 AM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

Technically, PJ, but he hasn't replied yet, so if not reply by the end of today, it's Lexie.
AP George
Posted: Sunday, September 6, 2015 9:57 AM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

Just noticed that BC system changes number 8 into a funky smiley face.


Anyway, thank you to all brave souls who posted here. Here are the stats:


Please check you agree - just in case, with all the madness of two places …

lilmerlin 8
Lexie  6
AP 6
Seren S 4
Cole_B 2
HeidiMP 1
BE Knight 0
SN Dyne 0
D'Estaing -1
AFLove -4

--edited by AP George on 9/6/2015, 10:09 AM--

Lucy Silag - Book Country Director
Posted: Tuesday, September 8, 2015 2:38 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1356

Just curious--what do the stats mean?
AP George
Posted: Wednesday, September 9, 2015 5:01 AM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

Hi Lucy, I should probably call it 'internal score keeping' .


This is calculated as follows: number of reviews given (by a member) less number of reviews received. 


On a slightly different note, I'm not able to rate books when I'm on a mobile device. Does this feature only work when a user is on computer? 

Lucy Silag - Book Country Director
Posted: Wednesday, September 9, 2015 4:51 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1356

Hi @APGeorge--cool!


You might be running into an error depending on your browser. Our site is not optimized for mobile as of now. Some features work and some don't. To be on the safe side I always recommend using Book Country on a computer. Though I'm happy to take a look if you send me a screenshot at

Posted: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 12:47 PM
Joined: 8/20/2015
Posts: 95

YALF review of Ash and Gold - Lexie Bowman

I know I've commented on this before (was it YARG?) but I see there have been a few changes, so I'll look at it afresh.


"as he followed" - as he ran after, or ran behind. It's just that his talking and the word "followed" implies walking to me, but then in the next sentence they are running and out of breath.

"taller than the two of them" - taller than either of them?

"maybe no one else had either" - don't get this. She obviously has, for starters.

Is he reading "skylark" off the caravan? If so, put in quotes.

"He pulled his bulky winter coat from his warm body as the damp chill pressed against him and slipped inside his collar." - if he was feeling the chill then he wouldn't take his coat off, surely?

"between him and the rest of the world." - between them and the ROTW.

"he hoped she didn't notice the purple pattern on his wrist or the scratches on the back of his hand." - what a pity. I think it would have been better for her to notice them. She would say nothing. She'd merely trace them with her fingertip - another bond between them.

"She lent into him" - she leant into him

"'No, they're magic!'" - would he vocalise that, or would he just think that?

You've tightened this Prologue up a lot since I saw it last Lexie. I think it's much better from the single POV. I wonder, did you ever think about putting it into present tense? Sometimes I think that works well with passages like this - a prologue, all a bit mystical and ethereal, dreamlike. "'Don't be silly.' She sniffs, fixing her silver eyes on him. 'I live over there.' Her breath curls into the sky as she points." You might try it - see what you think, whether it adds anything.

One - Aurelie

"There's a moment … when", shouldn't it be, rather than "There's a moment… where" ? And if you changed it to when, you wouldn't have the repeated "where" a few words later, and it would tie in better with the next line "When I don't remember falling". Otherwise, lovely line.

Think you should have a comma after "inch", and no new sentence/para with "sentence", otherwise you really are writing verse and not prose.

"was waiting for a new, new." - don't get this.

"I was certainly a little bored of her face." - ouch! Seems unnecessarily blunt. "I was certainly ready for a change of scene" or something. Otherwise it reads a bit like "get your face out of my space" kind of teen ghetto speech that's totally not Aurelie. (I hope)

"She swallowed back the sadness in her voice" - careful. POV slipping here.

"I didn't know where my Aunt had managed to hide it, there were only so many places in the caravan and I had tried them all, I could always find it." - but she didn't, did she?

"stifled water" - No.

"started to cling to" - a bit off, "touched"?

"I didn't look sixteen. I didn't feel sixteen." - when she says this, for some reason I'm assuming she looks younger than 16. Don't know why. I suppose because children always want to be older than they are. It's important for later, so I'd make sure people realise that the dress is making her look older than 16.

"Yesterday's eye make up had smudged under my eyes a little" - yesterday's make up?? What a dirt-bag! Shock horror, Aurelie.

"I saw his face just as we left them behind" - I know what you're trying to do here, but at the point of seeing him, she doesn't know that it's "him", does she? She sees "a" face, and then does a double take. "Do I know him?" I don't know. Perhaps I'm being pedantic. "I saw his face" is an authorial foreshadowing of the fact that he will play a much bigger part in the story.

"I tried to catch them" - or "tried to catch him"? She's not really interested in the group as a whole, is she?

"Well you earn it dear.'" - Well, you earn it, dear.

"They were nudging each other, talking about the strange girl on the roof and mocking Noah because he'd been "burned"." - would be stronger if you actually wrote the dialogue.

"the boy who'd noticed me" - the boy I'd noticed?

"Where did you learn that?" - find it hard to believe that Vivien saw her. Aurelie is standing on the roof of the caravan, behind Vivien. Vivien is driving, in stop-start traffic. Maybe, but it doesn't ring true. If it's necessary for Vivien to see, have Aurelie stand up on the seat beside Vivien. But that's less dramatic than standing on the roof. I love the idea though, flipping someone the bird without really knowing what it means. I know as a kid I did the two finger salute once at someone and they seemed far more insulted than I thought they would be.

"today aren't" - today, aren't

"fortunes. By" - "fortunes, by" or even better, "fortunes; by"

"They fell for it every time, she was convincing you see." - "They fell for it every time; she was convincing" and cut the "you see"

"I told you she was a liar." - I said she was a liar.

"But I had also taught myself things" - how? I think this is stronger when Aurelie says how she has learned behaviour (reading books from the library, for example). If she's been home-schooled, and with her peripatetic existence, I'm not sure she would have a good grasp of teenage behaviour patterns, and that should be an ambition of hers, not an area that she feels is she's already an expert in. If she's learned her behaviour patterns from reject eighties paperbacks, we are already primed to know her a little better than she knows herself. She is going to come up against reality, and it's going to be very different from what she believes it will be. We are much more drawn in to be empathetic to her if we can see that she's about to fail. So you could lose a large chunk of these three paragraphs (which are slowing the narrative down considerably) and I think we'd actually be closer to Aurelie, rather than more distant.

"The summer festival was nothing like I remembered." - she wasn't even sure they'd been here before, earlier. How come she now remembers the summer festival?

"I hadn't even noticed it all last time" - all what?

"I was following" - passive, this entire section very passive, had been, had done, had decorated and punctuation all a bit ragged. Just needs a tidy up, but lovely scene-setting.

"Now he was shouting." - really? Seems a bit OTT.

"I couldn't look away.
 <blank line>
Even though I was supposed to." - The new sentence and new paragraph doesn't really make the impact that you think it does. It actually looks just a little amateurish. If you really want the sentence break, "I couldn't look away. But I knew I should" is quite strong enough.

"selling lies" - I think it's sad, and out of character, that she feels that so strongly negative about Vivien's fortune telling. I don't think Vivien herself would say "look, Aurelie, I'm a complete charlatan and a fraud, ripping gullible people off." So it's a value judgement that Aurelie is imposing on Vivien. I know she constantly makes reference to the lies that Vivien tells her about their life, and where they're going, and where they've come from (literally and metaphorically), but I got the feeling that those were just misdirection and avoidance, rather than outright falsehoods. Even if you'd admit to a fortune teller not telling the absolute truth, but rather more probably what they shrewdly think the person in front of them wants to hear, there's a balm and a comfort in that, surely, that's probably worth the money?

"They joked, pointing at the girls gathered at the field entrance. Girls who were all beautifully made up in a way that made them look effortless."- you use this type of sentence construction a lot. Technically, I think these clauses should be joined by a semi-colon after "entrance". But then it's kind of an awkward and overlong sentence. There are probably other, neater ways to get the same information across, in fewer words. "They were joking and pointing at the girls, effortlessly beautiful in their make-up, who gathered at the field entrance." I don't know. Does that work for you?

"him and my Aunt" - he and my aunt, or better, they all.

Had "the Starer" wandered off then? I kind of thought he was hovering about over Ben's shoulder.

"in the hope of finding me a husband" - I highlighted this to say "too much", then I remembered about the vintage wedding dress. Is this intentional, then?

She's looking at her aunt, and her aunt is first looking out at the field, then down at her book. Then suddenly the Starer is there, dropping an origami flower into the money dish. You could have warned us. "A shadow fell across the tent opening", or something. Also (sorry, it's my practical streak coming out) where did he get the paper from? Was this what he was fiddling with when they approached in the first place?

"boys and girls that knew how to have fun" - exactly my point from earlier. She doesn't know these things, and confronted with their reality, she realises she doesn't.

"Because teenagers…" blah blah blah. She's hardly an authority on teenagers, is she, so why is she giving us some lecture on the preconceptions of children? Cut all this waffle. I want to know WHAT SHE'S DOING, and WHAT SHE'S FEELING, and I want to know it RIGHT NOW.
So, cut to the chase. "Someone had definitely caught mine. **** <new para> It was the flames, I think, that drew me in, even more than the thought of seeing Him again. (With the bonfire you have a natural foreshadowing of what's going to happen later here. Shame not to use it) I wound my way through the emptying field, grass already damp under my bare feet…" and then on with your description.

"I felt a little bolder" - try and avoid filters like "felt". There's usually a more direct, active way of saying the same thing. "I grew a little bolder"

"Bourbon Whiskey" - no caps, and she wouldn't know it was bourbon whisky anyway and there's no real need to tell us.

He's a bit creepy this guy, the Starer, how he moves about without seemingly moving his legs
"my hips curling with the flames as I rolled my hips" - awkward repetition of "hips".

"I caught his gaze as his eyes wandered over the length of my body. This mysterious girl dancing slowly in the fiery rain that spat into the air around us" - another of your "special" sentences. Also, "the mysterious girl…" is a description from his POV, so really you need to preface that with something like "What did he see, I wondered? A mysterious girl…"

"that lace dress that teased over my curves" - I quite fancy her myself. Ahem…

"I glanced back, I shouldn't have." - full bloody stop after back. Goddamit, Lexie.

"But scared or not…" - rewrite this one sentence in AT LEAST two and PROBABLY THREE sentences. I'm thinking your full stop key must be broken. Does something bite you every time you use it?

"Bourbon" - no caps. I won't mention it again.

"Giving what I now know as a lap dance" - err… not that I've EVER been to one, but that ain't a lap dance, baby. And anyway, how does she know what a lap dance is? Answer: she doesn't, and you're dropping us out of the moment to tell us that she finds out later in life. Why bother? I don't like it anyway, it's a bit tacky.

"I turned with a sudden jerk" - I'd suggest "turned abruptly". Turning and jerking are different movements, not really related. Abruptly would be an adverb describing the turning.

'What am I meeting you for?' - great line. Shows her real nature, innocent, rather than all this projected teenage bullshit. Rather than have her trying to emulate the other kids, I'd much rather you have Aurelie be herself. You largely do that, but she is a wildling. She doesn't know what a lap dance is, and doesn't care. All she cared about was the feeling of warm skin, behind cotton, behind lace, on her own skin.

"See? It was definitely a lap dance." - Totally out of Aurelie's character.

"What, no groping?" - trying a bit too hard. You made his point before. He's good at the chat - don't think he would make the mistake of repeating himself.

"'Do you always smell like sheep?" - we think this is true, because she said it herself earlier.

"ok" - okay

"a habit of his" - she doesn't know his habits yet.

"'Was that another question?'" - ha! Good girl Aurelie.

Then the rest of the dalliance on the river bank is lovely (although I found myself thinking how soaking wet and hypothermic would they be in the morning).

The end of that chapter made me sad, made me wish I was sixteen again. The joys. The inexplicable agonies. The breathless excitement and continual, continuous confusion about what you were supposed to do NOW. And girls and how mysterious they were, yet how utterly compelling. The tightness in your chest when you just looked at HER, that one, there, not as pretty as her friend, not as sexy as that one, but HER, and how a smile from HER at the right moment could change your life. What happened? <heaves big sigh>

Well done, Lexie. It's really good. There's much to love in this. I know there are plenty of comments above and some of them are rather scathing, but that's just me - tough love.
I think sometimes you lose your nerve in having Aurelie as different from normal teenagers as she might be. When she says something that shows how different she is, how truly other-worldly she has grown up to be "What am I meeting you for?" it's brilliant. And she doesn't have to be innocent of desire. I don't see her as all prim and proper at all. She's a wildling. She's been tethered to the caravan for sixteen years, just like Hemingway the horse, and now her aunt has suddenly, inexplicably, cut the traces and she can no longer feel the caravan dragging along behind her, deadweight.

Time is tight at the moment - getting my new editorial business going - but if it wasn't I'd certainly read more. The next book? Depends on how good this one is!
Brenda Frank
Posted: Friday, September 18, 2015 5:54 PM
Joined: 9/17/2015
Posts: 11

Hi AP George,


Glad to find you on Book Country now that Autonomy has disintegrated.  I am ready to read and review YA works here and intend to begin with Lexie Bowman's book. My novel is The Leader of the Band. I thought it was women's fiction until my Auth reviewers convinced me it is YA.  I will post it as soon as I have finished Lexie's review.


Brenda Frank

































Brenda Frank
Posted: Friday, September 18, 2015 6:01 PM
Joined: 9/17/2015
Posts: 11

Can't find Gold and Ash.  What is the link?





AP George
Posted: Saturday, September 19, 2015 6:03 AM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

Hi Brenda!

It's nice to hear from you. Lexie had some troubles uploading her book to BC and we've left her reviews on Autho. 

I've extended her period for one more week, so we can still sort it out. 

In the meantime, you can download her book here:

And find her quiz answers  here:

If you don't mind, could you please send me an email to - we're using it as a back up communication channel until things settle a little. 

Posted: Saturday, September 19, 2015 9:20 AM
Joined: 8/24/2015
Posts: 5

YALF Review of Ash and Gold.

I hope you find my feedback useful, I am still getting the hang of writing reviews so please forgive that the review isn’t as critical as it could be. I tend to try and note as I read but if I get caught up in a certain section I will forget to do this.

Reading through the synopsis of your book it was interesting, had enough questions to peek the readers interest. It genuinely would interest me, as a reader to pick up the book if I read this.

I do think the cover needs a little work, I can understand why it’s silver, as it matches the eye colour of the main girl, but I don’t think it’s striking enough to be picked out if it was in a bookshop. That may be something to consider at a later date.

I did find one typo in the synopsis. hers is story (Should read- her story is) far more remarkable than a gypsy caravan in the woods. I know you didn’t ask for info on any typos but thought this one would be important to resolve since it’s the first thing anyone will read.

Some really great descriptions in the prologue, I especially liked ‘wiry brunette hair that was greying at the roots, thinning like the edges of the lace curtains’. Excellent way to describe the ageing process.

Already I quite like the character Aunt Vivien, from her language and interaction with both children she seems like a really nice lady, I’m interested to see how her character develops and if she will continue to be this lovely person she has been initially portrayed as.

‘the deep burgundy of the walls casting a bloodstain glow against the snow.’ Love this description; it kind of gives you that knowledge that even with something seemingly beautiful/peaceful there can also be something sinister lurking in the background.

I also liked how you skimmed over the bruising on the young boy, it was cleverly done. It engaged me, as I want to know why he is injured, is he just a clumsy child? Or is there a sinister reason behind the marks?

The children’s innocence about being ‘friends for ever’ is really endearing. You really set up a lovely picture of what kids can be like, and along with the beautiful descriptions of the caravan and the birds it really does pull the reader into the moment.

It really is terrible that some adults push their prejudice on children. This bit it written well, it instantly makes the reader sympathise with Aunt Vivien and Aurélie at this treatment they are receiving when they have done nothing wrong. It also makes you dislike the Dad and adds to the suspicion that maybe he was the culprit behind the marks on the boy.

The ripping sound of flames flaring upward made me flinch and I turned my head toward it (I would change it to either them or the flames) they’d been dowsed in lighter fluid and it made them wild; brighter, fiercer.

The section of them two dancing flows really well, you get taken up into the moment. With Aurélie questioning herself and fleeing it makes you question if they have been drawn to each other for other reasons. Were they predestined to meet?

End of chapter two, ‘ But scared or not, something had gripped us and we had no idea what to make of it then, it could have just been ill ‘ there is no full stop at the end so I am a little unsure if this sentence is complete because it also seems like something might be missing at the end.

Your characters are strong, interesting, and you have given enough snippets of their personalities through these first few chapters to give the reader a great insight into each character. The writing is engaging and easy to read, there are a lot of fantastic descriptions to draw the reader in. It does have an overall feel of innocence, a teenage girl coming into adulthood and experiencing romance for the first time, but there is an undertone of something more, magic perhaps? I have only ready up to chapter four but will definitely be back to read more!

Brenda Frank
Posted: Sunday, September 20, 2015 8:33 PM
Joined: 9/17/2015
Posts: 11

My review of Lexie's Ash and Gold:


I read 14 chapters, many more than I planned to do when I read the synopsis of the novel. On the whole I do not care for magical, mystical stories and do not read them, but I found A&G to be quite well written, with a flowing, almost poetical style.  The story is so interesting I read along quickly along to get to the next part.  The mystery(ies) is (are) set up well with Aunt Vivien, the fire. and the trunk. The fire scene, and many others, are well done. I lost interest, however, as the story becomes more and more magical, especially in the scene in the old building with the moldy old books and the corpse buried in the wall which Aurelie decides is her father.  Who is tapping?  Is the old woman a vision? When I got to the explanation of Aurelie's real identity, that was enough for me, so sorry.


I thought the prologue was lovely and charming.  I wouldn't change anything.  It caught my attention and I enjoyed the way the characters were developed slowly in a realistic way. I was a bit confused at first, however, as I was unsure of the setting; it took me until the second or third chapter to decide it is Britain and the present time.  The country festival is true to the present but I am not sure about the horse-pulled Romani wagon.  Is this meant to be magical even at the beginning? The scenes when Aurelie and Elliot first meet are erotic and convincing considering her youth and inexperience.  I am surprised she drinks so much, however, on her first experience with alcohol, especially since she goes into trances so easily later.  She is not a good role model for young readers. The chapters told in Elliot's point of view seem jarring at first as his use of rough language and obscenities contrast so much with Aurelie's.  We find out later he keeps a journal, which makes me wonder if his language would be so rough in early chapters?


In spite of the flowing style, I noticed some problems.  In chapter one near the beginning the narrative slips into the past tense when present tense is more compelling.  In chapter five I found the conversation between Elliot, Aurelie, and her aunt hard to follow but I could have been reading too fast.  As the  story goes on, it isn't always clear if Aurelie is dreaming or not. There are many mistakes throughout in punctuating compound sentences.  Be more careful with semicolons to avoid comma splices. Not every sentence fragment is effective, especially if they begin with "because." I would avoid "you" at all costs unless there is no other way to make a point.


I hope my own inexperience in your genre and preference for reading realistic fiction do not discourage you, Lexie, as there is so much downright good writing in A&G. I can see is as a great success with the young romantic reader.

AP George
Posted: Monday, September 21, 2015 6:58 AM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

Thanks, Brenda. This is great!
Posted: Monday, September 28, 2015 6:21 AM
Joined: 8/20/2015
Posts: 32

YALF review for Lexie Bowman 'Ash & Gold'

Hello, Lexie!
I am not sure how helpful my critique is, but I shall give my best and let you know my thoughts as I read along!

I found that intriguing - it created an atmosphere and I felt instantly drawn towards Aurelie in compassion

Now there's always a variety of "rules" that are pushed by editors and publishers. I have been bullied into removing any questions in my pitches told they are a non-no. I like them. I still miss mine. Can't advice on right or wrong. As a blurb on the back of a book I'd find this perfect!

COVER: Mmh. It's not that I don't like it, I just fail to see the connection (The PR person comes through here). Youngsters usually tend to reach towards things that grab them. I on't see that. The title "Ash (ok, that could be the grey, but it feels more like silver) and gold (the cover is silver?)" doesn't reflect it. Then we have the "Skylark Trilogy" if I use that as a focus point, but it doesn't show either. Now if the pendant Aurelie wears/receives from her aunt would be the triangle, and a skylark amid flames or something would be on it, I'd feel that. But every time I opened the book, I wondered. Eventually the tattoo - still somehow it didn't really connect for me. Not as in the other book we had on YALF - Itchy's Kiss. Probably the pendant left a bigger impression - the symbolism was stronger.

It's intriguing - as I said above, the two don't connect for me, but thinking on it there's a quality to it. It doesn't give anything away, no problem, no genre, I don't know where it leads. But ash - grey/black, cold - and gold - bright, warm - interesting opposites. If only the cover would reflect it I would be drawn to it - a lump of molten gold in cold ashes and I would be curious...

The opening in the prologue did draw me in as it started like my genre - fantasy - girl living underground? Wohoo - intriguing. Of course it continues contemporary, but I assume it will still do the job there as well

Opening as in chapter one: There’s a moment right between sleeping and waking, where I forget where I am, who I am.
Yes, I like the poetry in this as well as the psychological aspect (I have a psychological background)

I had my difficulties.
Aurelie is an extremely interesting figure - she is flat and multidimensional at the same time. While all the aspects combined were intriguing, I had a hard time building an emotional connection. Not sure where that came from, but I suspect it has to do with my earlier involvement on YALF (or anywhere else I write critiques): I always read the whole book, made notes and after finishing went back to explore in depth while having story, plot, arch and character development in my head. With the first ten thousand as in my new returning favors policy, this suddenly doesn't work. And I know characters always kind of needed to grow on me. I now see where others might have had problems with mine - it just takes a while sometimes and not every reader has the patience. Elliott or the other kids - well actually adults - had a more contemporary - aka "normal" - feel to them - which is neither my favorite genre nor would I normally read it - but together with Aurelie it helped create an atmosphere of mystic reality. I think I would dove deep into her had I gone further.

I especially loved the dialogue between the two children. Elliott may seem a bit wise for his age with the things he asks or wonders about, but that just again adds to the atmosphere.
LAter the dialogue grows - with awkward phases which naturally evolve through Aurelie's lack of experience with "real people" (she should raise an eyebrow at real and roll it on her tongue as he says that!) Very nice, very smooth, very believable.
A frequent problem I encountered:
One person says something - and the others thoughts continue in the same line. New person after dialogue - new line or we get confused.
"Stop making excuses." I didn't say another word as he led me forward.
He talks - she continues thus it could well be her who just talked.

‘Writing, music, sex and liquor. Probably not in that order.’
I admired his honesty.

‘Now you.’
I thought about it.

Aurelie is consistent (on most parts), although sometimes it is strange how she realizes her outward reactions which usually would only be observed by an opposite.

I could practically feel the isolation as well as smell the animals and dung - the setting is so intense I was partially sure I could see Morning dew pearl off Aurelie's skin when they lay there at the end of chapter three.

I know too little to be able to comment on this. But a strange girl reunited with a childhood friend who she has only known for a few hours before torn apart again to be sucked into her own world of isolation and unasked questions - that should work if the tension, the frustration about not knowing and painful revelations follow.

I only got hints and I actually wondered why Aurelie doesn't stick to the ground and force answers. She is - to my taste - a bit nonchalant about that. Maybe it's her personality (which I don't believe because she is open and spitfire in other ways) or her upbringing (you just don't ask if it's not given freely). But I don't buy that. I'd like to hear her probing and getting frustrated - it would explain her subdued anger that I sensed a lot toward her aunt (intended or not - my psychological studies always make me sensible in these areas)

as I don't know the whole story it's hard to tell  - especially development, but from what I know so far:
inner conflict Aurelie: the misgivings towards her aunt at this point
outer conflict Aurelie: trying to fit it and work herself around "real" life and people?
character development Aurelie: mmh. Don’t know yet.
Can't say anything about Eliott's motives yet, but it's clear he is after Aurelie.

I like the sense of isolation even amid other people that floats around "different" Aurelie - it makes for a strong atmosphere throughout.
This is written in a poetic language that instantly creates this otherworldly feeling for me. It's like constantly looking through a sheer fabric with glimpses of something more substantial when a breeze blows it aside - revealing an almost startling reality.

is very smooth and flows almost dreamlike - it should appeal well to young girls - especially those with emotional "flaws" (which includes about 90 % of those following me on Instagram)
I found that you show very well most of the time, but I would search for feeling/felt... as it could point out telling areas (it's also repeated sometimes)

The wooden Romany caravan stood arrogantly

She sniggered at the thought
obviously - I would cut at the thought

The boy looked back... "No they are magic!"
My absolutely favorite spot!

Chapter One:
We had outstayed...
I wonder if this paragraph could be tightened.
Having said that:
Even minding our own ...
I loved this!

curling into soft curls
to many curls

Chapter Two:
English Professor that she is wrong...
When did we learn that? Startled me. But I agree.

simple things to keep ourselves...
Nice atmosphere again

She smiled at me...

I tried to catch them...
Both says the same - do you need both? Usually repetitions only weaken what was said (or shown) first.

A voice called up to me...
Split that sentence after forward again?

the boy who’d noticed me as we passed them the first time. He definitely noticed me now.
That would work better if the first wasn't a statement already - as in:
the boy who’d barely glanced at me as we passed them the first time. He definitely noticed me now.

He had been surprised at first.
It's her POV, she can't know as she is not inside his head. She would need to SEE his surprise.

Same here:
He couldn't look away.
I would not change POV inside chapters - it can be done if it is at least a new paragraph, but usually it trips the reader and the connection is stronger if we stay in one head.

She must have wished...
Similar "problem" here. Why not let aunt Vivien say so?

I told you she was a liar.
Who, me?! That sudden direct communication with the reader is awkward and a different style.

But I had also taught myself things that seemed to come naturally to me, like how to doubt myself.
Oh, I love that line lol (expert too)

My gaze fell on the group of men working in the last pen...
Stumbled over that when I realized those must be the group from the street, ok well, not teenagers but young people from the road. The sound older now.

a fortune teller selling lies amongst...
nice atmosphere again. It does underling the psychological hostility towrdas her aunt though

I glanced at the starer standing behind Ben
That's when it hit me for real - the group of men in the pen ARE the teenagers from the road. There are hints but it doesn't come across well. Besides a group of men and teenagers are two different pair of shoes - for me at least.

Not as friendly as I meant to sound...
She is plain rude and lost a score of positive points here

paper flower
where did that come from?!

and why do we need to know that? It's not like any other language would be expected

I felt a little bolder
I'd show more then tell in these passages

Bourbon Whiskey
And how would she know that?!

trying not to look surprised, but I did
And how can she know that unless she's standing in front of a mirror

made it spread.
spread it

He told me much later that was the first time he saw a flash of gold in my eyes and how it had drawn him to me, kept him there, how he couldn’t pull himself away from me even if he wanted to.
seems out of place

hips curling with the flames as I rolled my hips
twice hips in one sentence

This mysterious girl dancing slowly in the fiery rain that spat into the air around us.
25 shades of Lexie

made me seem so much older
didn't she say younger when she put it on?

Chapter Three:
I fell into last night, fell into,
too much fell into

I slid from my bed
we already know where she is
slid out of my sheets?

I would gladly do it again
Found myself skipping over this para. Maybe if I could see her insecurity and indecision?

I gripped onto the stranger's T-Shirt, pulling myself toward them
them? Is he a split personality come real?

as the haziness settled to become dizziness instead.
turned into?

strange hands
like claws? Just hands would suffice I believe

how long I had been stood
how long I had stood?

It felt like minutes but it had been only
I would cut that entire part

a little dishevelled
as well?

I was so full of self-doubt
That's telling me what I just witnessed

He thought something to himself
She can't know. It's a slip into his POV

I dropped my head
I'd add burning here lol

I lifted my shoulder to smell
love her natural wildness

He liked it when
How does she know?

Four small black triangles - no connection to cover for me

I hope this helps a bit! It is only my opinion - one reader out of the thousands I hope you will find! Thank you for allowing me to walk through your world and good luck!

Posted: Monday, September 28, 2015 3:31 PM
Joined: 9/28/2015
Posts: 2

Just wanted to say hi and that I would like to join (re-join) YALF. So good to find some familiar names here. Hi Brenda/Lexie et al.
AP George
Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2015 4:29 AM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

Hi Mawdlin!


Nice to see you here!

Posted: Thursday, October 1, 2015 7:42 PM
Joined: 8/29/2015
Posts: 4

So hows this gonna go? YALF now is split between two sites. How will this work for reviews? The current BOTF is not on BC, so how does the BC YALF crew go about it?
AP George
Posted: Saturday, October 3, 2015 3:32 PM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

Just wanted to let everyone know that I've updated the Opening Post. 


Our current book is PJ Davitt's One Shot at Glory. You can find it here: 


Posted: Saturday, October 10, 2015 2:19 PM
Joined: 8/29/2015
Posts: 4

So, Saturday is here, whats's our new book?
AP George
Posted: Saturday, October 10, 2015 5:30 PM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

Seren is next. I'm waiting for her to upload her book. Watch this space.
AP George
Posted: Sunday, October 11, 2015 5:03 AM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

I've updated the stats in the opening post. Let me know if you have any questions or disagree.
Posted: Sunday, October 11, 2015 9:22 AM
Joined: 8/31/2015
Posts: 5

Having problems uploading my manuscript to book country, I am working on it though. Thank you


Posted: Wednesday, October 14, 2015 8:53 AM
Joined: 8/29/2015
Posts: 4

Seren, you gotta review something before BC allows you to upload anything

Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2015 5:22 PM
Joined: 8/31/2015
Posts: 5

I've posted a review now and still having problems with my upload. Sorry this is so late, ridiculous really. I haven't got time to trouble shoot intensively at the moment


I have posted on (ahem) the >other< site since last week if anyone is there aswell. That was error free


--edited by Seren on 10/18/2015, 5:22 PM--

Brenda Frank
Posted: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 9:39 PM
Joined: 9/17/2015
Posts: 11

 Review: Timecrash  Wildlife

Long spin needs work.  “Despite different ideals” could be more specific; “goals” or “motivation” maybe?  Last sentence seems abrupt in light of earlier information. Title fits work but lacks zing.  What I read in chapters 1-5 did not mention a crash.


Beginning left me with many questions. Are Amrita and Cyrus brother and sister? If not why are they such close friends? What is the setting? These questions were answered but not how old they are.   This is important because plot of story seems to be more of a fit for children rather than young adults.  They are both intelligent no matter what their age but Amrita’s level of vocabulary often seems too advanced for either children or young adults. It may strike me this way partly because of the British idiom, however. Even if she is British, her language needs to be uniformly casual and appropriate to her age.


The description of the time travel machine should be developed much more because this is the device on which the reader’s main suspension of disbelief depends. It could even look like a bomb; later adults could find it with trouble ensuing. The idea that Cyrus is magical and magic a part of their travel is interesting.


The descriptions of Amrita and Cyrus’ first two time travels are very limited.  The first description makes sense but the stop in Sherwood Forest could be interesting and fun. They could unexpectedly observe an animal, maybe a royal stag, then later go back to get it.


I like the characters in Amrita’s Indian family, Cyrus’ father, and the notion that his mother disappeared.  More details about her would be good, but maybe you are going to add these later?


The description of Madagascar and the extinct elephant birds is very well done and the revelation of Amrita’s plan to find extinct animals and take them to the future is exciting.  Finally the plot of a book I would want to read!  This reminds me of the Jurassic Park movies and my own childhood interests in Dodo birds, passenger pigeons, and wooly mammoths. 


If I were writing this book I would begin with the time travel to Madagascar because it is so exciting.  Then I would flashback to the rest of chapters 1-5, either all at once or alternated with time travels.  This would keep the story moving from one adventure to another.


Best of luck with this novel.  It has the potential to be highly interesting to young readers.


Brenda Frank

Posted: Friday, October 23, 2015 8:26 AM
Joined: 8/31/2015
Posts: 5

Brenda, thank you so much for reading. Your comments are useful and insightful. The ages are buried in there (maybe too deeply).

 wonder how you managed to read it since I have not been able to post the manuscript yet! Lucy from BC is helping me currently. Did you find it on write on?




Brenda Frank
Posted: Friday, October 23, 2015 3:58 PM
Joined: 9/17/2015
Posts: 11

Seren wrote:

Brenda, thank you so much for reading. Your comments are useful and insightful. The ages are buried in there (maybe too deeply).

 wonder how you managed to read it since I have not been able to post the manuscript yet! Lucy from BC is helping me currently. Did you find it on write on?




Hi Seren,

Sorry I missed the ages.  I often read too fast. Maybe Amitra's family could discuss how old she and Cyrus are. I read what you posted on WriteOn but didn't post a review there.


Posted: Saturday, October 24, 2015 3:41 AM
Joined: 8/24/2015
Posts: 5


So excited its my turn! Seems to have come around super fast. Please find my answers to the quiz below! Thank you in advance to anyone who reads my work, I'm going to aim to reply to everyone individually =]


At what point do we reach 10,000 words?

About ¾ of the way through chapter 3.


What age range are you aiming for with this book?

Probably late teens, I would say around ages 16-18, but I would hope it would appeal to a wider audience as well.


If you want, would you share a little background about yourself? (family, work, hobbies…)

I am currently completing a post-grad degree on Primary Education at the moment after having a mid-twenties crisis (if there is such a thing) and deciding on a complete career change. I love nothing better than happily sitting on my couch with a cup of tea, my cat Luther and either a good book or a film, preferably a classic horror, (bit of a horror film fanatic).


What kind of books do you like to read?

Mainly fantasy books, I never used to be into this genre but after reading Sabriel a long, long time ago I was hooked on this creation of another world, my interest grew from there. Favourite authors Garth Nix (just love his work!), J.K. Rowling, Veronica Roth, I also enjoy the Walking dead comics, although I have no idea who wrote them without Googling.


What inspired you to write this book?

One crazy dream when I was younger and then re-telling it to my friend was the start. After that I just stared to write down random sections, which eventually started to form into a story.


What do you hope to get from these next two weeks of feedback or any areas you would like us to focus on?

I guess mainly I would like feedback on the characters, the flow of the story so far, and genuinely if it is any good.

I have only drafted this book once, and that was after losing the original when my hard-drive died. I have only had a few people read it and I know it needs work when I next edit it, so anything that can help really.


I don’t expect everyone to like it, especially with it being so early in the stages of being written, but any feedback positive and negative that can help me make improvements would be amazing. I really don’t mind people saying they dislike it, as long as it can be justified, after all, all feedback is good feedback!

Is your full book posted on this site? If not, are you happy to email it to anyone who would like to review the rest of it for you?

My book is only uploaded up to Chapter 15 on Book Country.  I do have up to chapter 20 written so, unfortunately, not the full book, but if anyone wanted to read on that would be more than amazing.


My plan was that this book would only be around 31 chapters, and I would have more finished by time it was my turn to be reviewed, but I’m hoping this will help me get out of the writer’s rut I have found myself in and give me fresh eyes to start re-drafting/writing again.








Brenda Frank
Posted: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 8:33 PM
Joined: 9/17/2015
Posts: 11

Review of NK Burke's Inescapable Fate.

Overall Feedback 

Long pitch is wordy and contains at least four sentence fragments! Use them sparingly and then only doing so is the best way to make your point. Ditto "you" point of view.

Prologue: Paragraph 1:First sentence is good. Second is a fragment. Change "slowing" to "slowed." Leave out "becoming" in next sentence. "As the rain was released"-passive verb.

Paragraph 2:comma after "tremble. "Rain pounding down hard" redundant. Omit "had." Too many participles used as adjectives. Don't use ellipses . . .

3-You point of view. 

4-Colon after "Feel it" not semicolon. What does "material plated" mean?

5-"So many memories" begins a comparison and should be allowed by "that..."

6-Run-on sentence, then fragment.

7-Semicolon used correctly but then a run on (need period after "anymore").

Chapter 1: Name of village? School? Are Kendall and Rachael lovers? Their greeting seems like there is more feeling under the surface. Girls at school promise to be interesting characters. Are there boys there too?

2- Coach's name should be mentioned earlier. Description of practice run has good potential. Rest of day could be condensed between race and scene with mother.

3- Why does story change abruptly from third person point of view to first? Is Kendal 10 now? Continuing in third person and making flashback clear would be better especially since story returns to third person. Finally a message from the stalker. This seems too late since prologue describes her death. Relationship between Kendall and Rachael is interesting but doesn't seem related to Kendall's death later unless stalker is her father. But he was out of town, right?

Character Development 

Comments are based on prologue and chapters 1-3. Characterizations of Kendall and Rachael are well done in chapters 1-3 although Kendal doesn't seem much like the girl in the prologue. Other girls at school are interesting and believable. Mother seems too nice; it's not clear why she dislikes Rachael or even if she does.


Prologue is gory and bloody but chapters that follow hardly seem related, especially relationship between Kendall and Rachael. Evidently Kendall is being stalked and will be murdered horribly but no real threat is evident till end of chapter 3. 


Dialogue is believable and moves story along better than so many of Kendall's inner thoughts. She seems almost a different person in the prologue vs. the rest of chapters 1-3.


Pacing is disjointed, probably because prologue's style is so different from rest of chapters 1-3. Stalker should be made more frightening early on. To be honest, what I read has so many errors in grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation, as well as wordiness, passive verbs, overuse of participles, and use of "you" point of view, that it the pacing was interrupted and it was difficult for me to read with any interest. May I suggest you read Strunk and White's Elements of Style, take a basic writing class, and/or find a friend/to edit it for you? Read your writing aloud to listen for awkwardness and wordiness.

I am assuming this is your first draft of your novel. I hope you finish all the chapters, then remake it in your best revision. Writing is hard work! Don't give up!

Brenda Frank
  - See more at:
Posted: Thursday, October 29, 2015 3:48 PM
Joined: 8/24/2015
Posts: 5

Hi Brenda,


Thank you for reading my work and providing some constructive feedback. This is only the second time it has been redrafted and I do plan to go through it again to re-write it and amend (hopefully) all of the errors. Thanks for proving details on some issues with the grammar, sentence structure, tenses etc. This is really helpful and gives me pointers on what errors I am making and what to look out for in future.


‘Material plated’ is a typo on my part it is meant to say plaited material. I did decide not to mention the name of the school, the town’s name, as this information is not really relevant to the plot but I may now think of adding these in to give this section more substance.


Kendall and Rachael are not lovers, however, Rachael is in love with Kendal and this develops throughout the book. I don’t really want to give much away but this is a main part of the plot development, especially, towards the end of the book.


The flashback was entered during the second draft to give more background to Rachael’s family. I thought the first person’s perspective during this may work better but I can see it does make this section a bit disjointed.


Thank you again for your feedback, I will have a look at/read Strunk and White's Elements of Style.

Brenda Frank
Posted: Friday, October 30, 2015 10:00 PM
Joined: 9/17/2015
Posts: 11

Hello Cole,


Glad my review was helpful, as I hoped it would be. I realized after reading your profile that I do not usually care for most of the genres you like. Realistic fiction is my favorite which is probably why I liked your descriptions of Kendall, Rachael, and the other girls.  If you are writing horror or fantasy, I think you especially need to add as many concrete details as you can (e. g names of the town and school) to ground your story in the real world and make it easier for your reader to suspend disbelief. Well chosen details can add to the overall feeling/atmosphere of the story.


Glad you're reading The Elements of Style.  It is brief and really helpful.


Good luck,









AP George
Posted: Tuesday, November 3, 2015 11:00 AM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

Following the tradition, I'm reposting my feedback here on the thread. 


Hi Nicole,
I have read the first three chapters of your book and wanted to share some of my thoughts. Please keep in mind that I’m not a professional, so only can give you a reader’s opinion. 
Anyway, I really like your prologue. It pulled me into the narrative just like the prologue should. I also like interactions between Kendall and Rachel at the beginning of the book. 
I enjoyed your writing style. For the most part it’s easy flowing. And you include lots of descriptions. Personally I don’t mind if there aren’t many descriptions, but I see why people often complain when this isn’t the case. The descriptions do add something to the story and show that you’ve thought out every detail. 

The following points are more like questions from me, so please disregard them if you don’t find them helpful.
1. Piercing stare/evil lurking in the background
It seems like the main backbone of your storyline is to do with the piercing stare that scares Kendall in chapter 1 (the first encounter we get to see). By her reaction it isn’t the first time she’s experienced it and when we, the readers, saw Kendall deal with this for the first time, her reaction is very strong. From this, I wouldn’t then expect her to behave in a non-chalant way from the start of the story. Surely, she should be effected by this evil already when the story starts. Perhaps you could have her react to it in a milder manner and then build the scare factor over the next chapters? Otherwise, her reaction is in such contrast to how she behaves in her interactions with her mom, for example, that it throws off the mood you’ve built up till that point.
Other than that, I really like this plot element. I found it very hooky and interesting. It instantly made me ask the question, what’s going on?
2. Rachel
I like her contrasting attitude when we first meet her (contrasting to Kendall, that is), but I feel that by chapter 3 she’s stealing the show a bit. First, you hint at some mystery when you show her interaction with the three girls. When I first read it, I felt something like this would have been useful in respect of your MC rather than Rachael. I do see her as a supporting character. Am I wrong? Then, when you show Rachel crying and beat up in chapter 3, this mystery builds up, drawing even more attention away from Kendall. 
3. Rachel and Kendall interaction
You seem to put a very big emphasis on the relationship between the two girls. You may be drawing on your own experience of living with a BF, which is fine. I just feel that if this story was mainly about friendship, this would be a good plot element, but I thought your story was about something else, so it feels like this part is pulling the story away from where I thought it would go. 
4. Change of POV
I didn’t get the POV for the dream sequence. (Am I right in thinking it’s a dream sequence?). But I do like the first person point of view you utilise here. Kendall’s story comes across as something a lot more intimate. In the rest of the narrative you seem to sway between a omniscient and close third (I hope I’m using the tags correctly ), and this makes the story distant for me. 
5. Your dialogue doesn’t always come across as natural, especially when Kendall talks to her mom. Maybe you could have a look at it again. I’m a dialogue kind of reader (meaning that I often feel tempted to skip the descriptions and read through dialogue), but in your case the temptation was the other way around. 
I like Kendall as a character. I like how she’s got this issue with ‘what-to-do’ after school. It’s an important topic to young adults, so I think it’s very hooky for her to be thinking about this when the story starts. It shows that she does have a life before the story takes her away from that, and it just feels like a good way to start Kendalls’ adventure. I also think her innocence and easy-goingness builds a good contrast to the evil thing lurking on the background and you could create something solid here. Good luck!

Posted: Thursday, November 5, 2015 11:09 AM
Joined: 8/20/2015
Posts: 95

This is a bit late, but it's a review of Seren's book, over on the "other" site. I'll get to the others shortly.


Hi Seren,


Just getting back on some of these YALF reviews. I was waiting for this book to appear on BookCountry. I waited in vain, but I'll post a review here.


You said not to bother with a line edit, so I haven't commented on the various typos etc, trusting you'll find them on your rewrites. This review will be a lot shorter then, than my usual epics.


I kind of like the chatty vibe, "So we were kneeling on the floor when THIS happened" and "our other arms, well, my arm stub…", but it is a little stylised and might put some agents off. If it's a conscious decision and you want to go with it, then fine.


I didn't get the "like a cloth over a whiteboard I redefine "impossible" in my mind". Am I missing something?


I don't get why she's asking Cyrus how it works after they've made their first trip. Much of the rest of the opening passage is how closely they've been working together. Surely she would have been asking those questions before? And later you tell us she was instrumental in designing it in the first place, with all the experiments written down in her notebooks.


Plot point - You've been overtaken by reality. Everyone's mobile has a GPS in it. Posh trekkers use them for hill walking. I don't think it would be much of a big deal to get hold of one these days.


She doesn't know much about the time machine, but she's telling Cyrus about the Butterfly Effect. And he knows about it anyway, so I suspect you're telling us about the Butterfly Effect. The authorial tone glints through. I'm not too sure it's a good idea to confront your readers with the reality of the Butterfly Effect anyway. You need them to believe in time travel. Making them think about how impossible it really is, I'm not sure is in your best interests.


Observation: Amrita has a large vocabulary and isn't afraid to use it.


It does need a thorough edit. In addition to spelling/punctuation, there are not so obvious issues like "There are dirty dishes on the work surface but they look days old". Surely it should be "and", not "but"? It's a little disconcerting to read, but then you know I'm a perfectionist.


The scene with Nathan reads leaden and portentous, like something dreadful is going to happen. Is this your intention? Perhaps it's just in contrast with the breezy style of before.


Who is her Dad? "I don't know if my Dad feels the same way" It's not Nathan, is it? Confused by this line.


Some rather heavy existentialism on page 24 "the passing of the seconds and the hyper-reality that occurs when you loosen your focus and stretch it out until it is an all-consuming panorama of where you are 'now'" - You what?


She catches Cyrus running down hill, even though she started after him and he's running with his hair flowing in the wind and her steps are "clumsy"? (I know Box Hill. I hope they haven't built over the vineyard!).


"The bright carefree boy I knew was redefined by the horrible ambiguity of grief and fear in battle with the desperate hope within him." - I'm not sure this would be thought even by the most precocious of fourteen year olds, and thinking about it, she's only ten when this thought process happens.


You address some of the issues of time travel - what would happen if they materialised in the foundations of a building etc. But those details can be iterated to the nth degree. What happens if they materialise half in and half out of a tree in the Madagascan jungle? In drawing attention to the conceptual difficulties, you're actually making it harder to suspend disbelief. If the method of transporting other things back with them is merely by touching them, why doesn't the grass or soil or vegetation that's touching them go back too?


I think it's an interesting premise, but it needs more work to realise the science fiction elements robustly enough that they stand up to even moderate scrutiny. I'd really like you to succeed, because the central story, a kind of Jurassic Park in reverse, is a great idea. One other thing worries me. You've got some deep thinking here, I pointed out one of the existentialist passages, but there are quite a few others. Yet the theme, saving the animals, sounds much more like a younger child's subject matter. One solution to both of these problems would be to rewrite the book for a much younger audience (middle grade, say). You can do away with the heavy thinking which doesn't really fit in the book even as it stands, I feel, and not worry so much about the diligence of the science.


Just some thoughts anyway. Hope they're of interest/help.




AP George
Posted: Saturday, November 7, 2015 11:22 AM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

I'm going to let the current book run for another week in case someone else would like to review it. 


Posted: Monday, November 9, 2015 9:32 AM
Joined: 8/20/2015
Posts: 95

Not sure which book to be reviewing? I just posted comments on "A Chieftain's Bond" over on writeon, only to come here and find we're looking at a different book? How's that work?
Posted: Tuesday, November 10, 2015 7:45 AM
Joined: 8/24/2015
Posts: 5

Thank you for your feedback!  

You have raised some really good points and given me a lot of things to think about to improve the flow of the first few chapters. 

Rachael is a supporting character through most of the book but towards the middle she does become more of a main character as well, as her role in the story does develop. I didn’t want her to just seem like a bystander to the plot like some of the other characters, but maybe I do just plunge into her having more of a role too soon, so this will be something I will need to look into when I complete the first re-draft.  

I am glad you enjoyed some of what you read, and thanks again for the constructive feedback! 

AP George
Posted: Wednesday, November 11, 2015 10:39 AM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

D'Estaing wrote:
Not sure which book to be reviewing? I just posted comments on "A Chieftain's Bond" over on writeon, only to come here and find we're looking at a different book? How's that work?

Hi D'estaing. Nice to 'see' you here again!

It's a different book on BC - but only because not everyone elected to register here and it's its own entity now. Anyway, please see the details of the current book at the top.

Thank you.

Posted: Wednesday, November 11, 2015 8:04 PM
Joined: 8/20/2015
Posts: 95

Okay - so they're to be regarded as two separate entities, so I don't need to post the same review on each one? (Obviously, I suppose, because Seren's book isn't on BookCountry, and the one here isn't on writeon). Okay. You might need to increase the time allowed to review then, since people like myself, who are still involved in both threads, have twice the work to do in the same amount of time. Coolarama.
Brenda Frank
Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 10:19 PM
Joined: 9/17/2015
Posts: 11

Anything new with the YALF thread?  Miss those posts.



AP George
Posted: Sunday, November 22, 2015 12:14 PM
Joined: 8/27/2015
Posts: 23

Brenda Frank wrote:

Anything new with the YALF thread?  Miss those posts.



I really want to say, 'To be or not to be (on the BC), that is the question,' but I feel it would sound cheesy.
I've messaged members hoping this would prompt them to post a review, but so far only a trickle of response. 
On the bright side, it's your book next and I'd be happy to go ahead with it, if you're happy too. 

Brenda Frank
Posted: Sunday, November 22, 2015 7:17 PM
Joined: 9/17/2015
Posts: 11

Thanks, AP.  Hope it gets some readers.  There were quite a few readings on Authonomy but I had evidently misclassified at as women's fiction.  I've tweeked it and want to post it for publication now.




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