Monday, June 11, 2012

Review Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore

Once you've seen, you can't unsee.

Brielle went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She's come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and an incredible, numbing cold she can't seem to shake.

Jake's the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.

Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what's going to happen. And a beauty brighter than either Brielle or Jake has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices begin.


This is a book that my daughter inhaled. While she devours most books, I wasn't sure she'd like this one because of it's strong supernatural tones. Instead, she loved it precisely for those reasons. This book strikes me as a teenage version of This Present Darkness, a book I loved as a teen because it stretched my imagination and thoughts regarding the struggles that are largely unseen.

The story pulled my daughter in. From the opening pages filled with a tragedy that propels Brielle home to her new gift that allows her to see things others can't. There's also a romance, but one with a twist. It's hard to say too much more without giving the plot away. Let's just say that this book illustrates the concept that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. And my daughter can't wait to read the next installment!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Like Supernatural Fiction? Meet author Shannon Dittemore

Today, I'm delighted to introduce you to a new-to-me author who could become a fun friend. Shannon Dittemore's debut novel releases May 29...just in time for summer reading. I'm delighted the publisher is willing to give one reader a copy of this book, so be sure to leave a comment with a way to contact you! My daughter received this book when we were on vacation and loved it! That was enough for me to know I needed to get to know Shannon. So let's learn more...
Angel Eyes has a supernatural setting — it always fascinates me when authors can think that way. How did you get the idea for Angel Eyes?

I've always been fascinated with spiritual beings. When I was a teen, our church had a performing arts team and I always seemed to land the role of Satan. Whether Satan was biting the dust or getting knocked out in the Champion (thank you, Carman!) I apparently had the whole demonic thing down. I'm the daughter of a preacher and the wife of another one, so the supernatural is something I've grown up knowing about, learning about, believing   in from a young age. To turn my imagination loose on those ideas was very natural.

2) Is there any part of Brielle that might be borrowed from you?

The fear, certainly. I dealt with fear for a time. It's been a journey and I'm so grateful for God's help through it, but I understand what it is to be frozen by anxiety and terror. I've learned that being fearless isn't the absence of fear, but the refusal to let it govern your actions. I don't have it all down, but God's gracious and He's teaching me.

Brielle also references Neverland from time to time. I'm rather fascinated with Peter Pan myself.

3) What was the hardest thing about writing 
Angel Eyes?
Time. I'm certainly not alone in this, but finding the time with two young children at home is difficult. It's another thing God's helping me with.

4) Can you give people a teaser?

Sure! Angel Eyes is about a girl who returns to her small hometown after tragedy has struck. She has all the potential in the world, but grief and fear have taken over and she feels frozen, unable to move forward. Enter the boy next door. Jake's got a few secrets of his own, and there's something about his hands--his blazing hands--that has Brielle paying attention. Jake gives Brielle a gift that opens her eyes in more than one way and that's when all hell breaks loose. Literally.  

5) Will we get to see Brielle and her friends in another book?

I'm happy to report that Angel Eyes is the first in a trilogy of books. The second book is called Broken Wings and will be out next February. The third book is still untitled and I'm not entirely sure when it'll be released.

6) Why write for this audience? What draws you to teenagers?

This one's hard to answer. I'm not entirely sure why I write for teenagers. Maybe because I am still a teen at heart. Everything's still very raw, very real, and very important at that age. I like that. I think I live like that. Sometimes, like in the lives of teenagers, that makes things much more complicated than they need to be, but it's the way I'm wired. God helps me here too. Feeling is very important for teens and as a first class emoter, I understand entirely.

7) What do you hope readers will take away from 
Angel Eyes?
That they are not alone. That even when life throws craziness at you and when you stumble into dark places, you haven't been abandoned. If readers come away with something close to that, I've done my job.

Okay, where can readers connect with you? 

I'm everywhere, I think! I even have an 
Angel Eyes board on Pinterest.

My website and blog:


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pressing the "Hot Buttons"

Today I'm delighted to turn over my blog to my good writing bud Nicole O'Dell. I love her heart for tweens and teens. And my What are Hot Buttons? Well, in the broader sense, the phrase Hot Buttons means a lot of different things, anything really, that can get a rise out people. Something that charges them up and receives an intense reaction. For the purposes of Choose NOW Ministries, I've defined hot buttons as those tough issues that teenagers face--the things parents are often more afraid of and most hesitant to talk about. Some examples include:

  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Sex
  • Friendships
  • Racism
  • Internet Activity
  • Faith Matters
  • Divorce
  • Dating
  • Bullying
  • Occult
  • and more

Why press the Hot Buttons?

Why not just leave it alone and let the kids figure it out? We can pray for them and trust it all to work out in the end. In some ways it does work itself out, true. Circumstances happen, pressure hits, relationships change. . .and your teens gets to figure it all out. In the heat of the moment. On their own. Hopefully they'll make the right choice, but it's really hard to know what will happen when the prep work isn't done. Hot Buttons, Dating, Nicole O'DellTake an issue like dating--we talk about the boundaries. We set rules for curfew and other things. We even make sure we apprrove of the date and talk about saying no to sexual advances. Right? And that's great. It really is. But there's something missing. Our teens need to know what to do and what not to do, and what we expect of them, but they also need to understand why that's going to be difficult for them. How does the body respond in ways that make it tough to say no? What will the feelings be like that make it difficult to leave the room or douse the proverbial flames? You see, if we don't hit those truth head on before they become an issue, our teens will think it's a secret, it's specific to them, and we really don't know what we're asking them to say no to. But, if we press those hot buttons in advance, if we have the difficult conversations, then our teens will enter those pressure-filled situations armed with understanding and equipped with the words to say to stay true to their commitments. With every hot button issue, someone is feeding your tweens and teens information--do you really want that someone to be anyone other than you?  

How do I press the Hot Buttons?

Now that you've made the decision to be proactive about helping your tweens and teens battle peer pressure, I love to share the principles behind the Hot Buttons book series and the method of communicating with your teens it prescribes. Hot Buttons, Internet, Nicole O"Dell Each book is topical based on a single Hot Button issue and its surrounding sub-topics. For example, the Hot Buttons Internet Edition deals with social networking, pornography, predators, cyber bullying, and more. The goal isn't to convince parents to keep their kids off the net, but rather to arm them with the tools they need to navigate it in a safe and healthy way. Same with the Dating Edition. It covers early relationships, physical boundaries, date rape, and more. Instead of just handing down rules, parents need to walk their teens through the details and equip them with the understanding of what's out and how to rise above the peer pressure.  

How does Hot Buttons work?

Each book is designed the same way. The first few chapters discuss the hows and whys of tackling hot buttons early and effectively. Part two dives into the topics with statistics and information that every parent should know. Next are the application portions of the book. This is when you put into practice the principles we discuss early on. Strategic Scenarios (up to 15 per book) allow you to walk your teens through a fictional situation and then offer options, choices, as to how they think they'd respond.
Here's an example of the way a Strategic Scenario works:
You really like this one guy at school. You have for a long time, actually. Problem is, your BFF likes him too. And you have to admit, she’s liked him longer, but he seems to prefer you. You just don’t know what to do about it. You don’t want to hurt your friend, but you have to take care of yourself first, right?
Finally, he asks you out. Now it’s decision time. What do you do?
Present the following choices to your teenager:
  1. He obviously like you best and telling him no isn’t going to make him like your BFF. You might as well go out with him and deal with her later. What’s she going to do about it anyway?
  2. You’ll go out with him, but only secretly. Hopefully she'll never find out.
  3. You thank him, and tell him you need a day or two to think about it. Time to have a heart-to-heart with your friend. If she’s okay with it, you’re in!
  4. No, too much is at stake. Your BFF will tell you she’s fine with it, but you know it will break her heart. Then what? It wouldn’t be the same again. Plus, you’re supposed to be the Christian; you need to put her first.
Now let your teen make a choice between the responses without feeling judged or directed. You want the response to be as honest as possible.
Here are some discussion points you can use to lead the conversation after the choice is made:
  • BFs come and go; BFF last a lifetime
  • What would Jesus do?
  • How would you feel in your BFF’s shoes?
  • Talk about this sort of thing ahead of time. Don’t wait until it’s a real issue. Clear the air.
  • Loyalty and honestly are qualities of Christ.
  • A year from now, when you look back on the situation, which choice will make you proud?
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12, NIV)
The final chapters of each Hot Buttons book will lead you and your family through confession and forgiveness and then help you walk into the future with a clean slate, armed with the tools you all need to face those hot buttons. If you're a parent of teens, or you know one, I hope you'll visit to read more Hot Buttons posts each week. Also, the first two Hot Buttons books: Dating and Internet, release on 6/1. Following soon after on 10/1 are the Sexuality and Drug editions.   Nicole O'Dell, Choose HER, Choose NOW ministriesNicole O'Dell, founder of Choose NOW Ministries and host of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk, is a youth culture expert who writes and speaks to preteens, teenagers, and parents on preparing for life's tough choices. The mother of six, including toddler triplets, she’s author of YA fiction, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the Diamond Estates Series, and non-fiction for teens including Girl Talk, 2/1/12, based on the popular advice column she writes with her two daughters. Hot Buttons, O’Dell’s non-fiction series for parents pre-empts peer pressure by tackling tough issues. Visit   

Friday, June 1, 2012

Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavin

At our house right now, my tweens are racing through Andrew Klavan's books. Here's what my daughter says:
Crazy Dangerous is a well-written thriller. Sam is a regular boy who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances. He just wants to be a normal kid, but not pushed around anymore. Jennifer is a school mate with some type of mental illness. She talks crazy and hallucinates. This shouldn't impact Sam but it does because the thugs that are trying to mess up Sam's life are messing with Jennifer, too. Sam has a strong desire to protect Jennifer and stop whatever she's facing.
This was the first Andrew Klavan book I read. I enjoyed it so much, that I've now raced through the Homelanders series. The author's books are great because they are action-packed. They are impossible to put-down. And are perfect for kids who like to read stories about heroic struggles.
My 8.5 year old son likes his books because they are action-packed and heroic. The kid is in trouble the whole way through the book. My husband enjoyed the series because it captured all the angst of the teen years but equipped the main character for the struggles he would face.
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