Tag Archives: ya

Exclusive Author Interview: SJ Kincaid

On this latest stop for the Dark Days of Summer tour, SJ Kincaid joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about her latest book Insignia.

Can you tell us a bit about Insignia in your own words?

Insignia is the story of Tom Raines, a teenaged video gamer who’s recruited to become a government weapon in a future world war fought over resources and territory in space.

Tom Raines is gifted at virtual reality gaming. Are you into gaming? Did you have to do much research for the subject?

I’m not a gamer myself, but my best friends in college were (and still are) very into videogames, so I definitely drew a lot of my inspiration from them. I had a lot of fun making up the scenarios for the videogames featured in the story.

In your future Earth, countries are at war in space, instead of traditional wars fought with a huge loss of life. How did you come up with this vision of the future?

I actually came up with it after reading the article that gave me the idea for Insignia. I was reading about likely future technological developments, and one development mentioned was the increasing use of unmanned drones, especially for warfare. This image came into my mind of two great powers fighting a vast battle with fleets of these unmanned drones, and it struck me that with the human element removed, it was almost like a videogame. I wondered exactly what two superpowers would have to fight over in the future, and immediately concluded it would have to be resources and territory in the solar system. Why? Because it makes sense, and because it’s much more awesome.

Are there any sequels planned for Insignia?

Yes! I have a contract for three books.

What’s next for you after Insignia? Any other stories on the horizon?

I get ideas now and then, but I’m someone who thinks obsessively about the manuscript I’m working on, and I can’t really put any mental energy into anything else until I’m done with my current love. I’m always writing, though, so I assume there will certainly be something after Insignia.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience in writing.

It took me a while to get published—seven manuscripts in fact. I’m very grateful it was such a long, difficult road, because I feel I appreciate this opportunity far more than I would have, had I hit a homerun my first manuscript. I’m also far more confident about my writing than I was starting off.

What inspires you?

Everything does. A lot of the ideas I had for Insignia I had while studying the human brain in a class. When my brain’s occupied with something completely unrelated, I seem to have this steady stream of ideas for fiction.

Who are some of your favorite authors? What books do you love?

There are two authors I love above all else: Susan Kay, who wrote a fantastic Tudor novel called Legacy, and Joseph Heller, who wrote Catch-22. It’s not for everyone, but for me, it’s pure hilarity, and strangely moving, too. In YA, I’m enjoying the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, and I really enjoyed Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead.

What do you do when you’re not writing? In your spare time?

Waste tons and tons of time on the internet.

Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for featuring Insignia, SciFiChick!


Insignia releases from Harper Teen on July 10th.

YA Thriller Book Review: Cold Fury

Cold Fury by TM Goeglein

Sara Jane Rispoli is part of a close-knit Italian family. Her father, uncle and grandfather all run a bakery. But when her uncle’s jealousy of her father causes a rift in the family, Sara Jane learns that her family has been keeping some dark secrets. Then her house is broken into and her parents and brother disappear, and Sara Jane discovers, courtesy of a hidden notebook, that her family has been rooted in the Chicago mafia since the days of Al Capone. Now, Sara Jane is on the run from a determined, hooded pursuer and a dirty cop, while desperately trying to find out what happened to her family.

Sara Jane is a smart sixteen-year-old with a good heart. She doesn’t have any desire to join any cliques at school and would rather hang out with her family. As a result, she doesn’t have many friends. But she excels at boxing, her favorite past time, that seems to fuel a strange “cold fury” that burns within her in times of distress.

I love being surprised by new authors. And this was a breath of fresh air. Goeglein’s story of Sara Jane’s family is fascinating, weaving in Chicago’s mob history back in the days of the prohibition. I found myself completely caught up in the excitement and suspense. Cold Fury is YA thriller with a complex plot, fascinating characters, and fast-paced adventure. This riveting story was impossible to put down. The climactic ending, left on a bit of a cliffhanger that left me wanting more. Thankfully, this is just the first in a planned trilogy from an obviously talented new author. YA adventure fans as well as adults should check out this outstanding debut.


Cold Fury releases from Putnam Juvenile on July 24, 2012.

Fantasy Book Review: Team Human

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

New Whitby is a safe haven for vampires, as well as a residence for a human population. Mel has never had a problem with living in the same town with so many vampires, since she has never had to deal with them before. But when one joins her school, her best friend Cathy quickly falls for the uptight, undead in a seventeen-year-old body. Mel will do anything she can to keep Cathy from a decision she may regret. Meanwhile, Mel is asked by another friend to look into her father’s uncharacteristic behavior and disappearance.

Mel is a smart and strong character. She has a good heart, especially when it comes to her friends. She puts her friends’ problems before her own, even when she meets an odd human boy raised by vampires. They have a particular chemistry, but she focuses more of her attention on Cathy’s vampire romance and the missing father mystery than their budding romance.

Larbalestier and Brennan have teamed up to create a familiar vampire YA fantasy with a unique twist. I’m a fan of vampire stories, so I loved the idea and wasn’t disappointed with the wit or suspense. Though a bit predictable, the story is fast-paced, engaging, and suspenseful. With plenty of humor, teen angst, family drama, and even zombies – Team Human is a fun and exciting story that both Team Edward and non-Twilight fans will enjoy.


Team Human releases from Harper Teen on July 3, 2012.

Fantasy Book Review: Alex Van Helsing: The Triumph of Death

Alex Van Helsing: The Triumph of Death by Jason Henderson

Alex Van Helsing teams up with a new classmate (who happens to be a witch) after discovering that a vampire queen is planning an apocalypse that will turn the world dark. Then vampires would have free reign of the world. And only an old painting holds a clue to her upcoming plans.

Alex is still struggling with a bit of teen angst and relationship problems, while dealing with school, his strange powers that he still doesn’t fully understand, and working and training as a vampire hunter. Henderson’s imaginative characters and historic literary foundation are a springboard for a wild ride of action-packed adventure, mystery, and fast-paced thrills. The creative twist on classic gothic novels are not only a fascinating center point for the story, but make me want to re-read the classics such as Dracula and Frankenstein again.

I read that this exciting third installment in the Alex Van Helsing series is supposedly the last. The Triumph of Death is certainly my favorite of the series. And the main story arc begun in the first book does have a huge twist that resolves in this climactic ending. But there is quite a bit that is left open and unanswered. I would love to see the more in the series simply because I love the characters, and I’m a sucker for a creative take on the vampire/Van Helsing story.


Alex Van Helsing: The Triumph of Death releases from HarperTeen on July 24, 2012.

Fantasy Book Review: Dreamless

Dreamless by Josephine Angelini

Helen Hamilton has been traveling to the Underworld every night, trying to find the Furies and put an end to the scion curse of vengeance. But she is unable to sleep, and the lack of rest is taking its toll on her. Helen thought she’d have to do this alone, but suddenly she meets a young man who rescues her one night in the Underworld. The mysterious scion has been sent to aid her search and protect her. Meanwhile, someone has been plotting against Helen and watching for her to be at her weakest to attack.

Helen’s relationship with Lucas has become unbearably complicated. They believe that they are first cousins, yet the thought of incest doesn’t seem to bother either of them. Ick. Even if they aren’t actually related, just the thought of it should be a turn off. Instead, their lack of maturity and teenage hormones overpower any common sense. Their chemistry fizzled to nothing for me in this book. Though, the arrival of Orion came just in time. Orion’s bright personality and sense of humor won me over and made Lucas disappear. Angelini will have to work really hard in the next installment to make me change from Team Orion to Team Lucas. I don’t see it happening – even if we get the BIG REVEAL that Lucas and Helen aren’t really related. Damage is done.

This is the 2nd installment in the Starcrossed trilogy. Starcrossed was unique and spellbinding. Dreamless is a solid sequel with well-paced adventure and drama. I haven’t read Starcrossed in over a year, so I worried that I would be confused with the characters. But Angelini has created such memorable and complex characters, that they quickly came back to me. And a recap wasn’t even needed. Full of intense suspense, dramatic twists, and a bit of humor to lighten the dark setting – this fantasy flawlessly brings ancient Greek mythology to modern day.

SciFi Movie Trailer: Robot & Frank

Robot & Frank opens in Theaters August 24, 2012

Set in the near future, Frank, a retired cat burglar, has two grown kids who are concerned he can no longer live alone. They are tempted to place him in a nursing home until Frank’s son chooses a different option: against the old man’s wishes, he buys Frank a walking, talking humanoid robot programmed to improve his physical and mental health. What follows is an often hilarious and somewhat heartbreaking story about finding friends and family in the most unexpected places.

TV Tie-In Book Review: On Fire: A Teen Wolf Novel

On Fire: A Teen Wolf Novel by Nancy Holder

Scott McCall is no longer a normal teen. After getting bitten by a werewolf, Scott now has to control his inner wolf whenever his emotions run high. Scott’s relationship with Allison has just begun, but her family hunts Scott’s kind. So, keeping his secret is crucial. Recently, Jackson, the popular rich kid and Captain of the lacrosse team, skipped school and seems to be missing. With only a cryptic note and the ability to trace his cell phone from an app, his friends search for him. Jackson’s phone trail leads them to the woods late at night. Not only do they need to find Jackson, but Scott needs to make sure he and Allison avoid the mysterious Alpha werewolf who turned him. Or Allison may be the one in danger.

On Fire is a tie-in novel based on the new hit show Teen Wolf from MTV, apparently set about early to middle of the first season. MTV’s Teen Wolf is only loosely based on the beloved, original movie of the same name starring Michael J. Fox. This Teen Wolf is much darker, less comedic and blends mild horror, mystery, drama, and romance.

I wondered how a tie-in novel would work with such a fast-paced show, where a lot progresses over the course of just a 12-episode season. But On Fire works well as a mid-season story where there is a lot of mystery that has yet to be revealed. And fans are treated to a riveting backstory of Derek, the brooding werewolf who mentors Scott, but wants vengeance for his family more than anything. Jackson’s mystery is incredibly suspenseful, but unfortunately ended a bit too abruptly without much explanation. I would love to see this series continue in novels and see it either continue this storyline or jump forward to the present storyline. These are fantastic characters; and Holder does a great job of weaving a new mystery and remaining true to the characters.


On Fire will release from MTV Books on July 17, 2012.

SciFi Book Review: Insignia

Insignia by SJ Kincaid

Tom Raines can’t seem to keep up with school while his dad gambles his life away, and keeps them constantly on the move. Tom excels at one thing – games. And after one particular VR game scenario, Tom is told that he has been watched. And is recruited by the government for their elite military academy. Tom is taken to the Pentagonal Spire where he will have the chance to possibly help his country fight in World War III. WWIII is a war fought entirely in space via virtual reality, where no lives are lost. But Tom will quickly learn there are many secrets in this political war.

Tom is a likeable and relatable teen. While he’s smart and strong-willed, he’s a more than a bit naïve when it comes to girls. Kincaid’s version of the future is a world controlled by companies that have a monopoly on the Earth’s food and water supplies. Countries (by extension of those companies) are at war in space for other world’s resources. But mostly the politics and relationship between the companies, the government, and the general public come into play in this remarkable debut.

From the start, the story had the feel of one of my favorite films The Last Starfighter or Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. But after Tom gets recruited, the similarities fade. Part scifi adventure, part YA coming-of-age story, part political thriller – this ambitious novel has a fantastic blend of suspense and drama. Fast-paced and full of mystery and adventure – Insignia is an enjoyable and riveting read for science fiction fans of all ages.


Insignia releases from Katherine Tegen (Harper Teen) Books on July 10, 2012.