The Blackthorn Key Review (or how I learned to stop worrying and love the firebomb)

The Blackthorn Key, by Kevin Sands The Blackthorn Key hits all the right notes for me. I've always had a strong affinity for anything involving alchemy. Fullmetal Alchemist is a guilty pleasure I can always indulge in. The first books I wrote all had an alchemy aspect lingering not-so-far beneath the surface. So when I found out Kevin Sands' debut middle grade featured alchemy front and center in a pseudo-historical setting, I started salivating almost immediately. And the book doesn't disappoint. It's a fun action romp with tons of little mysteries to keep you going, and a dark side that'll catch you off guard at times. There's humor to brighten what might otherwise be a dark story (have I

RAQ: 14 Things You Don't Know About Me (but you really should)

Rarely Asked Questions: Lots of authors have a FAQ on their website, talking about their road to publishing and all that boring stuff that everybody asks (it's not called a "Frequently Asked Questions" for nothing). I figured I'd head off in a different direction instead. A "Rarely Asked Questions," if you will. Or factoids? Who knows; who cares? So without any more written rambling, here's 14 things you never cared about: I've been a writer since third grade, when I wrote a complete book of poetry. I once fell off a mountain 70 miles from civilization. Broke my ankle. Made a crutch out of two sticks, bubble wrap, and duct tape (no joke). I learned to read at three so I could read the TV Gui

Click'd Review (or my so-called life as a teen app coder)

Click'd, by Tamara Ireland Stone Click'd is a book for the wannabe coder in every kid. Let's face it, this generation lives and breathes tech. It is inseparable from everyday life. It's with us in the morning to wake us up, and it puts us safely to bed at night. But there are dangers to that tech, too. We give it unfettered access to our lives, our deepest secrets, and trust that everything's going to be okay. This is the world of Click'd. Our world. A world where everyone wants to be connected, but we're never quite sure what that might mean. A world we think we're masters of, but that sometimes does whatever it wants despite our best efforts to control it. A world where teens can get crea

Sean's Book Review Policy

I abide by a strict "If you can't say nuthin' nice" policy. Quite frankly, I don't have time or patience for negativity in my life. Other people are much better at negative thoughts and criticism than I am, and I'm happy to leave them to it. My time on this earth is much too short to spend it talking about things I don't like, and there are so many things to like in this world that I'd much rather spend my time there, in my happy place, where there's an endless supply of corn dogs and good music. Because let's be honest, here: just because a book isn't for me, doesn't mean it's not for someone else. Books are like coffee shop drinks... everyone's got their own way of making and enjoying it,

Behind the Scenes (or why I wrote about a family dealing with spina bifida)

This time around, I wanted to introduce you guys to Lizzie. Lizzie's the daughter of a friend of mine, and the inspiration behind one of the characters in Hotel Between. In fact, she inspired both my main character, Cameron, and his sister, Cass. Lizzie's an amazing little girl. She talks and talks. Whenever I'm at my friend's house, she wants to show me EVERYTHING. She makes silly jokes, giggles constantly, and loves her guinea pig. And she loves people more than almost anyone I know. She's empathetic, engaging, and unstoppable. But Lizzie was also born with a serious condition that presents lots of complications, and will continue to pose difficulties for her the rest of her life. Even n

What You Invest in Is Where Your Heart Will Be (or why I'm headed to the gym)

What you invest in is where your heart will be. My wife and I just bought a gym membership. Yup. Anyone who knows me well knows I have about zero love for physical fitness. As I write this email I'm sitting in front of my computer eating Skittles. From a bowl. My daily work uniform is pajama pants and a graphic T. I hiss like a vampire when I step outside and see the sun. I've always said my heart just isn't in all that fitness stuff. I don't care about it. It doesn't matter to me. I mean, I want to want to do it, but I don't want to do it. Do I desire the energy that comes from working out? Sure! Am I willing to put in all that effort to get it? "Nah, my heart's just not in it that much.

Greetings from My Overactive Imagination (or why no one's heard from me in ages...)

So I've realized lately that it is far too easy to get so lost in my imaginary worlds that I forget that there are real people out there who deserve my attention, and who I really want to spend more time with. That's a big danger in working with fiction--at least for me. On any given day I get so immersed in the characters and locations I've created in my head that before I know it the entire day has gone by and I haven't had a conversation with a real human being at all. Now, for a middling introvert like myself, that's not necessarily the end of the world, but it does mean I've felt my relationships growing a little stale, which stinks. I'm making a plan to rectify that effective imme

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© 2017 Sean Easley | Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Hotel Between artwork by Petur Antonsson