Category Archives: great books

What next after Harry Potter? 5 Great middle grade to tween book series

Well it had to happen, our son has read all the Harry Potter books and we’ve been searching for other great book series. In no particular order here are 5 great book series for middle grade to tween readers. (I have omitted Young Adult titles deliberately).

1. Harry Potter Click here

Obvious really. If the first three books don’t grab your child’s attention I guess they don’t like Harry Potter. Stand by also for the comparisons and proclamations of the things not in the films which are better presented in the books. Strangely the shorter books were voted the best by our son, perhaps they were better edited?

2. Percy Jackson Click here

Now you do need to allow your child to settle with the idea that Greek and Roman myths have been ‘borrowed’ and transplanted to the US. (Not my idea of plausible I have to say). Apparently the books are an easy and exciting read with lots of action. I would add that they seem to be easily read in next to no time. Good news for the author and publisher, not such great news for the parents asked to buy the next book in a matter of hours.

3. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Click here

Perhaps a push for middle grade and pretty heavy in volume. We started with The Hobbit and it was very well received. A budding fan is born. I await the film and book comparisons. LOL. Given the length of both that could be some years away.

4. Sean Yeager Adventures Click here

Fast paced, exciting and full of ideas. Our son and several of his friends have been up all hours reading and re-reading books one and two. Be prepared for an explosion of ideas, designs and follow on stories.

5. Bear Grylls Mission: Survival  Click here

Apparently these books are non-stop boys own adventures with all the details added in. Useful if you are ever stuck in a jungle and need survival skills. If only there was an episode for commuters and office workers.

6. Artemis Fowl Click here

Technically this is the sixth book series, though I did say ‘after Harry Potter’. We have had a mixed reception with this series. Son loves the action and humour, he’s not so keen on the faeries. Nonetheless a worthy addition to our humble book series list. Lots happens and there are plenty of books in the series.

So there you have it parents, grand parents, aunts, bloggers. We hope you find this list of book series useful when seeking purchases for the children in your life.

Happy reading.

D.M. Jarrett

 

Advertisements

10 great boys’ books to encourage reading and fun

As a parent it can be tricky to find great books for your boys to read. You want books to help develop and encourage your child’s reading and you also want books that your child will enjoy and want to finish. We have found this with our own son from the age of 6 to 11. Here is a list of 10 great boys books as voted for by the person who matters – our son – who read them all (and rejected several others). We hope you find this book list useful for the boys in your life.

In no particular order

1. Warhorse by Michael Morpurgo

A boy’s own war-time adventure through the eyes of a horse. Now also a film and play, but apparently the book is the best format of all.

2. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

The original and best. If your child likes this book there are plenty more in the series…

3. Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff

A Roman adventure and page turner, with lots of suspense and historical references. If you want to inspire learning about Roman life, what better way than to introduce this book?

4. The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien

Before they managed to massage this story into three films, this book was the best introduction to the world of J R R Tolkien. It is action packed and surprisingly short, unlike the giant saga that followed.

5. Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief by D.M. Jarrett

Non-stop action and mayhem. Like a cross between James Bond and Star Wars or as the reviewers put it ‘a rollercoaster ride’ in book form. It also has a great sequel to follow-up.

6. The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall

Another boy’s own story, this time set in World War II England. What would your son do if he discovered a crashed German Bomber complete with machine gun? Action and surprises all the way.

7. Alex Rider Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz

One of several great stories from the popular Alex Rider series. An orphaned James Bond like child sent on dangerous missions.

8. 8000 Things You Should Know by Mile Kelly

Our son and his friends were given party gifts of this book after a birthday bash. They were all so immersed in its pages they had to be prised away. This is how all factual books should be presented. (It’s presented like ‘information mapping’ and is highly effective, amusing and addictive.)

9. Stephen Biesty’s Incredible Cross Sections

A hero in our household, Stephen Biesty is an incredible illustrator and this book is simply breathtaking in it’s detail and layout. For any budding designers or boys who like to take things apart.

10. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The original and best, provided of course you can suspend disbelief about the Greeks not moving to the US. And of course there are plenty more Greek myths elaborated on throughout the series.

Hope you find some great reading in our list to inspire the boys in your life. Above all we hope they have fun reading and developing their curiosity for learning.

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

Sean Yeager Adventures website

Buy Sean Yeager Adventures

Amazon reviews:www.seanyeager.com

Fast-moving, action-packed and humorous

Make this into a movie now!

Buckle your seat belts!

This story reads like an action ride and I enjoyed the ride

Ingredients for a hit novel

Print

Recently I’ve been considering ‘what makes a hit novel’? And here are my thoughts:

1) Characters we care about

A hit novel contains a handful of great characters that you grow to love and want to follow. And there are many examples we can all call to mind: Darcy, Harry Potter, James Bond, Hannibal etc. If we care about the characters, we’ll want to know what happens next to them.  And if we don’t, we may well put the book back down.

2) Plenty of incident & twists

To keep us awake and stop us from skipping ahead or worse switching off. A hit novel contains plenty of action, regardless of the genre. Things happen, challenges are faced and our hero has to overcome stuff. Otherwise it can become ‘interesting’, but basically dull and uneventful. Spicing things up with events we can’t predict also helps a lot.

3) A quirk or three

People become bored with formula pretty quickly. Most hit novels contain at least a few grains of ‘uniqueness’. Whether it be: dark threats and scandal in Scandinavia; allegorical animals in a boat; an orphaned wunderkind wizard; dystopian gladiators on TV; or rich man, innocent girl and a heap of sexual experiments (or smut).

4) Ease of reading

You notice I did not highlight ‘elegant writing’. That may win prizes and be a worthy aim in itself, but readers want to be able to read easily. They want to be able to enjoy the story without reaching for a dictionary.

5) A place you want to visit in your head

In my view novels are escapism. Along the way we learn things about the world of our characters and ultimately ourselves. A hit book asks questions of the reader in a subtle way, such as ‘what would you do in this situation?’ It also takes the reader to a place they want to learn about and experience from the safety of their reading location.

6) Visibility

Of course none of the above would matter unless readers were talking about a book and recommending it to their friends. As with the Fifty Shades series, that recommendation may be more a viral ‘you need to read it to believe it’ kind of thing or a ‘but is it actually any good?’  In my view that particular series is written in an okay manner and is highly effective as titillation and for provoking interest. And clearly it is a massive hit.

That’s all for now

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief Cover, available now at Amazon, Kobo

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief Cover, available now at Amazon, Kobo

Hunters Hunted Text 2l

So how on earth do you reach new readers with social media?

Logocolour20percent

Welcome,

Today’s big question is an ongoing experiment in social media and content promotion. Yep, you guessed right first time, I’ve no clue how you reach anyone including my own family on social media. By ‘reach’ I mean to make a meaningful connection with as opposed to randomly spam or annoy. ‘Reach’ as in – interest them enough to go to your website, read a sample of your book and perhaps consider a purchase. Because they want to, not because of a guilt trip, pity purchase or a clever bit of key word marketing and coding.

So here’s my run down so far in relation to my experiences promoting Sean Yeager Adventures Admittedly on a zero budget and now with two entertaining books published. And let me tell you – the writing was the easy part, the reviewing was horrible but way more productive than attempting ‘social media connections’. As I joked recently, ‘I could sell more books standing next to a motorway than via social media’.  And it’s not about some mental block thing or lack of trying – there is a giant, electronic, elephant in the room.

Amazon – virtually useless, search engines optimised for top sellers only. It’s a shop for the top, period. You’ll be dead before someone finds your book or Kindle board note. And then it’ll be a mistaken browser looking for someone else. Catch-22 is – they don’t know you, so they won’t look for you. Your book may as well be buried 300 feet beneath the ocean,

KDS Free days – virtually useless. So you give away free books, then what? Sales spike and all is well? Dream on. It might work for big name authors with tens of books in their canon, for the rest of us I doubt it is of any use at all. It also devalues the writing and the book. Also a great way for pirates to obtain content without doing anything remotely clever.

Twitter – virtually useless, an echo chamber of people selling stuff to other complete strangers who are selling stuff to complete strangers. Might work for ‘real’ celebrities, if we can glean who they are online these days. Could be their cat for all we know. More likely an impostor or an intern with a crush.

Facebook – virtually useless, a cage of rules for not bothering people and then a non-stop stream of content from people who like to transmit. Always best when you have no idea what  on earth the original event or question was – all you see is a response and some pictures. Right, for light relief of the comedy kind it’s okay, that’s all I seem to see. Jokes, viral images and comments. The spam you learn to look through and ignore. And why wouldn’t you?

Facebook has some great info groups online. Promotion – forget it.

Yes Facebook do advertising, unfortunately they do a really bad job of explaining to me why I should pay a bean for it. Free trials, stats, breakdowns – it’s not happening for me and yes of course I’ve a zero budget anyhow. Social networking and connecting? Not any more, you could throw some money into the void and pray. Now that’s a sound business investment decision right? Not on my planet.

Linked-In – fine for articles and groups, rubbish for promoting fiction. Another echo chamber.

Goodreads – good for presenting stuff, great for giving away stuff. I’ve yet to be convinced that anyone actually buys and reads unknown fiction as a result. Maybe some people do.

Scribd – good for presenting stuff, great for giving away content. I’ve yet to be convinced that anyone actually buys and reads unknown fiction as a result.

Librarything – ditto, seems to be for ‘serious fiction’ really. Held breath and died before anyone read a simple posting. Now a ghost haunting the site out of morbid interest.

Book Blogs – difficult to judge, no one is interested in reviewing Sean Yeager as it’s an adventure /  sci-fi book. (Yep, real niche stuff alongside underground stuff like Star Wars, Star Trek etc) So de facto useless, but it may work if you write books that are reviewed and hence promoted on book blogs. Which seems to be anything written for a female audience and blogged about by a lady with a love of books (who also happens to write romantic supernatural stories about vampires and men with six packs and no clothes on (I blame the TV) )

That’s all for now, I’m off to the pub for some research, And a primal scream.

AHHHHHHHHHHH!

That’s better.

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

New year, new story…..

Hunters Hunted Text 2 small

So welcome to 2013, not my favourite number, but I’m glad we have all that Mayan nonsense out of the way. Lo and behold nothing happened. Or to be more precise more of the same continued to happen. More meanness, cruelty, deception, opinionated horse droppings etc etc. I dare say if we could turn the clock back to 2013 BC it would be much the same. Power, corruption and lies only a different flavour and some different empires in full flow….

Over the holiday season I’ve been busy avoiding the echo chamber of writers selling stuff to each other. It’s been refreshing. It’s also given me a chance to focus on book 2 – Sean Yeager, Hunters Hunted. The cover is nearly completed and I’m progressing well on the many passes of revision and updating. Not my choice of fun activity, but essential none the less. And even if I say it myself (and I am, ’cause there’s no one else here….) it’s a step up from the last book with loads of stuff going on. It is essentially an action, mystery adventure with lots of action and weird stuff. It’s funny to think this could be a future classic and so far no one but me has read it yet. More on that in future posts….. 

So above there’s a quick sneak preview of the cover while I continue the never ending rounds of revision. I’m also mind mapping out some ideas for book 3, which given the strengths of Hunters Hunted is going to be a challenge, a good challenge. It’s also the part I enjoy the most, so it’s all good. Yep, plotting is where it’s at people! Be afraid characters, be very afraid. Some nasty stuff will happen to some random people among you…. Ha ha ha!

Happy 2013 and happy reading.

D.M. Jarrett

It’s not a matter of life or death, it’s more serious than that……… the riddle of unloved sci-fi

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief Cover, available now at Amazon, Kobo

Following a late night debate over a beer or two, I recently researched the best selling films of all time

I like all kinds of fiction and non-fiction in films, TV and books. I like comedy, horror, adventures dramas and such like. I only draw the line at ‘crud’ and the majority of chick flicks. So that also rules out anything Twilight related. (Yes I can’t stand them – for me the Underworld series is a far better story)

I began writing Sean Yeager Adventures because it felt right and because it arose from my interests as a youngster. We used to have no end of sci-fi on TV: UFO, Dr Who, Star Trek, Blake’s 7. And at the lighter end we had Danger Mouse, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and many more. I guess some of it rubbed off and then Star Wars happened…

So back to the film stats. It turns out that nearly 1/3 of the top selling films of all time are sci-fi and they account for just under 1/3 of the gross income for the top 50 (that’s about 28% or $13.2 Bn).

The big winners are of course well known:

  • Avatar
  • Star Wars
  • Transformers
  • Inception
  • ET
  • Jurassic Park
  • The Matrix

To which we can add other big films like the Terminator, Alien and Star Trek series who fall outside the top 50.

And my point is?

Simply this – how come there are so few top selling books that are sci-fi?

I don’t believe for a second that sci-fi lovers don’t buy or read books.

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

To boldly go where no man has gone before……….. Sean Yeager in print now

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief Cover, available now at Amazon, Kobo

After months of crafting, designing, huffing and puffing… Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief is available in deluxe print!  Hurray!

Deluxe because it is a 6×9 inch book size which shows off the cover and makes it very easy to read.

For those who don’t already know – the book series is a mixture of adventure, comedy, action, science fiction and mystery. A bit like a cross between Young James Bond, Men in Black, Star Wars, Artemis Fowl and elements of Monty Python / Red Dwarf / Hitchhikers Guide. We’re not in Star Trek territory yet. Watch that space though, Star Trek is converging all the time…

The DNA Thief sets the scene at breathtaking speed and Hunters Hunted is set to build on the mysteries and action  in a big way.

It’s a big milestone for us and very soon we’ll be speaking to libraries and bookstores about stocking the physical books. It’s funny there is something about holding print in your hand that makes a real difference….

Meantime, on with the series. Hunters Hunted is nearing completion and will see the light of day first as an e-book initially with print to follow.

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett