Book Jacket

 

rank 149
word count 19144
date submitted 18.09.2013
date updated 14.05.2014
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult
classification: universal
incomplete

Poisonwood Key

Chris Bostic

A shocking discovery on a remote island in the Florida Keys sends summer campers fleeing from hostage-takers and gunfire.

 

Every summer, Mike’s not-so-loving family ships him off for camp in the Florida Keys where he’s subjected to humorless skits, endless labor, blazing sunlight, and humidity past the edge of moistness. If it weren’t for his discovery of half-naked Heather and the other girls on the adjacent campsite, the week would feel even more like prison.

Mike embarks on a desperate mission to forge a love connection in a matter of days, stumbling his way through his shyness to impress Heather the Hottie. But winning her over isn’t Mike’s only struggle, as strange sightings lead to a darker, illicit discovery. Treasure Island becomes Displeasure Island when the teens unearth a smuggler’s fortune, and misfortune, beyond their wildest dreams.

Mike has the resourcefulness to survive the wilderness. But is it enough to lead the battle through a gang of violent thugs?

 
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tags

, action, adventure, beach, canoe, florida, hostage, island, keys, smuggler, suspense, thriller, ya, young adult

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Angelika Rust wrote 307 days ago

I had the privilege to read this in full before it was uploaded here.
As is his habit, Chris leads the reader from a seemingly innocent beginning to a wild hunt. The MC is easygoing, resourceful, loyal and totally self-effacing, which makes him instantly likable and easy to understand.
A fine YA read, action-packed and adventurous.

DystopianGerman wrote 2 days ago

CWOG, YARG

Hey Chris,

After a long latency period, I'm back to continue with Poisenwood Key! It's been quite a while, but I still remember most of what I read back then, so I already have to compliment you on that. I flew over chapter 1 and am pretty sure you added something or changed up the end, I don't remember the confrontation with the girls. Anyway, I caught up and will start with chapter 2. Your writing is still great in my opinion and even though I've only read the first chapter so long ago, Jack and Mike's characters were still vivid in my mind -also great job on that, not an easy thing to acomplish considering my memory capacity. So without much further ado, here goes:

Chapter 2

I've never been in a summer camp in the classic american sense, but I love how authentically you bring over the general feeling and experience. I have to admit thought, completely separating the camp into gender specific beaches is SO american ;)

I didn't quite get the 'watch that rock'. I mean, poison ivy or something, ok, but a rock?

'a week of Camp No Fun in the Sun' – Wasn't quite sure if this was ironic, or if he was referring to an actual camp.

I'd make it 'knew everything THIS place had to offer'

'called our time there.' - Ok, I'm not sure if I didn't misunderstand something. I thought Mike was talking about the Poisenwood Key camp, the one they're at. That's why I feel the 'there' should be replaced by 'here' and so on. Sorry if I'm mistaken.


'Right when I thought the day couldn't get any worse...' - Hm, didn't this used to be the start of chapter 1? I'd be very proud if that was the case, and my memory wasn't completely useless.

I really like your descriptions, especially when they reach the boys beach. You paint quite a vivid picture, nice.

So there really aren't any actual grown ups with them? Maybe this is culture as well, but I don't get why they are so unbelievably strict about the gender segregation but then have a couple of only-slightly older boys as supervisors.

That Billys look first melts ever so slightly, but he then grimaces when they affirm somehow didn't fit too well for me.

So is Ethan one of their friends, or a supervisor as well? Maybe clarify this a little. After you talked about Billy and then 'the other guys', I assumed they were supervisors too.

Your missing a 't' in 'the coals stared growing.

Catching bait fish at the coral and then going shark fishing? Sounds pretty awesome. I wanna go.

If Jack winks at Mike, which two are left that 'don't get the signal'. I thought only Ethan was there also.

'Getting the girls to come out after dark' - They seem really confident that these girls will want to have anything to do with them.

If they can here the ropes of the hammock stretching, wouldn't Billy have been close enough to here there plans?

'hardly ever changed every day...' - This didn't read very fluently.

At this point I'm wondering how many kids are actually in this camp. Can Billy really just leave his supervisor post or is he planning to take all the boys with him?

'the rest of us' – Sorry if this was covered in chapter 1, but maybe mention sometime earlier how many boys are actually with them in the camp. Or is it really just Billy, Ethan, Grant, Mike and Jack? Is that really referred to as an official camp?

Ah, so here the mystery starts. Very intriguing.

I'm not entirely sure about this, but does the speed even affect the size of the wake? I don't think so at least.

Overall, please don't mind my nitpicking. I just hate to write a critique without critiquing, so just ignore all that doesn't work for you. I think your writing is great and it reads really fluently. Definitely a very authentic, well described setting well fit for young adult readers. I will continue with this ASAP.

Hope this helped. I'd also very much appreciate your opinion on the new stuff I've written ;)

Cheers,

Jonas

CatMcConville wrote 36 days ago

This is a YARG review,

This is very skilled story telling. I love the interaction between the boys, the annoyance, the rivalry, the friendship. It's all spot on.The girls are less finely drawn but it's a boys POV so that's exactly right too. And the boredom until the girls arrive and spice up their trip, I could almost feel I was there, camping out.

The tension is very good also. I found myself wanting to get to the point where the smugglers find them. It will be interesting to see how the different characters react under pressure.

This is very accomplished writing, I can quite see why any publisher would happily snap you up.

Six stars and richly deserved.

Chris

Kogin72 wrote 39 days ago

YARG

Chris,

Let me start by saying that this is not the type of book that I would pick up, but that being said, I thought it was quite good. I'm not sure how much I can comment on, since it's been reviewed by so many already, so I'll leave a few basic comments:

The dialogue seems spot on...it flows easily and sounds like something actual people might say.

The tension is already there...I could feel it as I read, so well done.

The MC is well drawn and likeable, which is the key to any good book.

Overall...nicely done...high stars and shelving.

B.D.

The Dude from the Sun wrote 47 days ago

Yo Chris m'boy,

This a YARG Review

Chapter 1 - I believe you mean farther down the hill, that's as far I see for grammar/ spelling. I get the opening, although I must it was a little difficult to place the dialogue in the first few lines. Good foreshadowing, I can partly see where this story is going. However another well written component is the mystery left in the first chapter. The main reason I want to read on at this point is because I have no idea how the plot is going to develop and the mystery is very enticing.

Chapter 2 - I like the proper introduction now. The character are introduced properly to the reader and we get a sense of the setting in more detail. Also some personality, which helps the story a lot. Also the new component at the end of the chapter, which adds another part towards the plot. Interesting indeed.

Yours truly, The Dude from the Sun

Pippa Whitethorn wrote 69 days ago

YARG review

Hi Chris

Just stopping by for a re-read of your first couple of chapters. I like what you have here and I like the changes you've made. I made some notes, ignore what doesn't work for you

Ch 1
Not sure about frantically as a description of pointing – can you point frantically? Apart from that the opening line is good – makes you read on because you want to know what he’s pointing at
‘tourist tree’ made me smile.
I don’t know what a poisonwood is, although there’s obviously a clue in the name :-)
Writing’s good, character's good, dialogue good.
‘long curvy brunette’ slightly odd – tall curvy brunette?
Possible to tighten up slightly maybe
Consider ‘It was well worth [the inconvenience] it.’
‘I must’ve been [a little] too distracted to notice’
‘I’m [pretty much] staying right here [for the moment].’
‘My girl followed’ – is this the long brunette? But she’s walked off first. Might be better if he’s actively picked her as his before you use my girl.
I liked the way you told us earlier about Mike’s home life not being great, but feel the second time you tell a bit too much. The bit about not having confidence is good, but consider replacing the ‘Yet another product of my miserable home life’ Can you put in something about Dad’s low opinion of him, or there not being a good example of how to speak to women at home – I don’t know his circumstances so it’s hard to say. Sometimes people with low confidence don’t realise they have no confidence they just think they’re rubbish.
Sharp voiced woman – the camp counsellor?
College Girl? Which one is she?
‘I’d started to [slowly] back away’ if he’s just started he’s probably not going to be moving at speed
Blondes!
I don’t mind long body – that sounds right.
I like the dynamics of this chapter now – the girls seem friendly, the boys seem nice, there’s a bit of tension about the possible punishment from Billy and whether they’ll see the girls again
Ch2
I like the way you give us a bit more background here
‘safely lame’ would lame do to avoid the repetition of safe?
Like the poison wood tree bit – what happens if you touch one?
Also like the whole frontyard / backyard thing
‘Jack deposited a small pile of limbs’ made me think I’d stumbled into a horror book. We call them branches, or maybe even sticks over here :-)
Billy’s a nice guy
Vacacoons – some new animal I’m not familiar with or a typo?
‘Mom tried her best. Maybe she wasn’t the best....’ maybe use a different word for the second best
Seems sympathetic to Mom
‘one more day of meats’ meat?
I might be tempted to lose ‘From what I immediately gathered’ from the start of that sentence too.
Gulf stream sounds horrible.
‘That week was no exception’ You can probably get rid of this sentence because you’re not telling us anything new.
‘stared curiously at the sea’ would he be scanning, searching for the source of the noise?
I like the end of the chapter with the appearance of the boat. Nice hook to continue reading along with the coming meeting with the girls.

I enjoyed this – I think it’s a great book. I’ll be back to read a bit more when I have a bit more time
Pippa

JFHensley wrote 69 days ago

YARG

So I made it to chapter 2 so far, and I was already thinking this was either a coming of age story, or something much more sinister was about to happen, and now we have a mystery boat. I'm often suspicious of things happening in secluded locations.

I have nothing to offer this as far as a critique goes. Everything, at least in my opinion, seems deftly executed. Your characters are strong so far, with nice little bits of characterization thrown in (you'll have to forgive me for not including examples. I read the two chapters about an hour before posting my review). The writing is very strong, and not the least bit overloaded. The kind of writing that makes it very easy to get sucked in without a misstep. Nothing breaks the flow of the story.

High marks, backed, and I'll be following more as time permits. Great stuff so far.

Mandaz wrote 70 days ago

YARG

I've read the first four chapters and will be coming back to read the rest. We don't have summer camps in the UK and I've never been to Florida, however the description paints such a clear picture that it really doesn't matter. I am intrigued by the boat and the false internal bravado of a teenage boy when faced with girls makes me chuckle. I'm looking forward to reading the rest.

Amanda

DystopianGerman wrote 70 days ago

Hey Chris,
I remembered your stuff being pretty good, so thought I'd take a look at poisonwood which has been all over YARG.

As always: I comment as I read, so even if questions are cleared up later on, I leave them in so you get to see my train of thought as a reader.

Nice first liner. I like the controversy in this.

Didn't quite get the “Broseph”. Maybe it's youth jargon I'm not familiar with, but it would've been cooler if his friend was actually named joseph.

“[...] every summer since he was twelve. It was my fifth summer [...]” I paused here for a moment because I thought I could figure out their age from this. Maybe make it so the reader can? From this I deduced that: Jake has been here more often than Mike. And if Mike has been here five times already, then they would have to be 18 or older, right? Are 18 year olds still sent to camp? Then again, maybe I totally got this wrong.
Nevertheless, with our protagonists interest in girls and with what the pitch foretold, I would find it interesting to know his age.

I just realized (at least I think so) that you haven't mentioned Mike's name yet at all. Maybe just have Jack address him once as such at the start. I always feel a reader should be able to dive straight in to the story without having read the pitch.

I like Mike's wit with the “tourist tree” joke. Furthermore, this and his knowledge about plant life let's us know that he at least isn't thick headed.

Overall I really like how you introduce the characters and it's not difficult to connect to them as a reader. The “paradise island” setting is great. I don't know why, but it has something. You also do a really good job of letting the reader feel he were there with them, using minimal description.

I tend to get really picky when the writing is especially good, as was the case here. So these are just minor things that came to my mind (I always hate the “awesome job, I've got no advice this was too good!”). Take what you want and leave what's unnecessary fussiness on my part!

I won't get to chapter two tonight (sadly) but you drew me in well and I really want to find out how you plan to turn the plot. Props to that!

Hope this helped,
Cheers,
Jonas

ps. my own story has had a major revision since you first critiqued it, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it (maybe even chapter swap if you're up for it?).

PurpleProse wrote 73 days ago

Read the first two chapters of this and will be returning for more. Great fun. Good dialogue, very convincingly young boy with the allusions to a miserable home life. The MC is very natural, not creepy at all (which he might have been given that he's spying) and the dealing with College Girl is very typical. Will be returning for more. Poppy The Day Will Come

Willow Fay wrote 74 days ago

YARG


Hey you. Thought I’d take a read of your newest addition. You’re already on my shelf and will be there too the end when you get another shiny medallion ;-)

I liked the opening, the boys off to scout for some girls to stare at, made me laugh. Although, very realistic, I’ve seen boys doing that plenty of times before!
And you already know, I really enjoy your style of writing, all flows really well, nothing jarring about it.
That boat – I think it must come back into the story at some point, seems a bit suspicious.
The ‘watching girls’ continuing onto chapter two haha, so funny, well to me, anyway. I like the way you’ve got them discussing which girl will be who’s, and they've not even spoken to them yet! Looks like he didn't need to get his confidence to speak after all, they girls found them, I think they seemed to enjoy the fact they were being watched, I think most girls do, though!
The boats back…something fishy going on here!
Chapter four – and another one getting close to the island
Nice ending to chapter four, suspense building up!

Well, this is all I have time for, kids are driving me crazy!
I’m going to finish reading the rest tonight…good stuff, really enjoying it =)

Wills xx

Hannah Edith Gordon wrote 76 days ago

YARG review!
HI! I read your first two chapters and first of all I would like to say this flows so well and the introduction to your characters is good. You get a real feel of the type of people they are. The young boys spying on the young attractive girls makes this appeal more towards a young adult audience and your protagonist is really relatable. The detail you put into the campsite itself such as your description of the wildlife shows a lot of experience/research that adds a lot more realism and really sets the scene. I like how the girls when they are found out don't instantly dislike them for peeping, this makes the story a lot more interesting than if they flat out hated them. I dont know if your mention of the speedboat is meant to alude to the adventure side of your story, but honestly for me personally (so I could be wrong) there is not enough atmosphere around it apart from your protagonist saying how random and out of place it is. To me as a reader I thought it could actually of been our introduction of the girls on a fancy speedboat or a bunch of rich tourists. I really enjoyed this book so far and your man character is so likable I will probably read more!

Cami Talu wrote 76 days ago

Your story is exciting and a page turner. I really liked the description of nature. An very enjoyable adventure story overall that, I'm sure, will appeal to many readers, young and old alike. Starred with pleasure and WL.

Adam Richardson wrote 77 days ago

YARG Review

Hi Chris,

I've read the first two chapters. The story flows well and the dialogue is convincing.
I enjoyed the flip between story (which was more formal) and dialogue (which was relaxed and almost slang).

I like the subtle hints at the MC’s life back home – the description of the front garden, the desire for gumbo limbo trees for when his father "... pulled off his belt and started hollering."

Lots of interesting tree facts although these started to stand out to me - it is clear you have a lot of knowledge on these but they may be lost on your target audience.

Another example of terminology that was lost on me was the reference to a skiff. Although this could just be me lacking knowledge. :)

I feel a more gripping first chapter would benefit you - I think Robin the brave has offered up a pretty good example. Either this or something that appears again later in the book. Perhaps you could hint at the strange sightings or the illicit discovery (that you mention in your synopsis) which might work well.

To conclude it left me intrigued (which is a good thing) and will read more.

Kind regards,

Adam

Shiloh Yazdani wrote 84 days ago

You have an interesting, descriptive way of writing. It is fascinating to read of the different topography in the Keyes and you write of it so well, it's easy to picture it. It's an enjoyable read. Good job.
Shiloh
"Courage Through Faith"

S.M. Koz wrote 84 days ago

YARG Review

Hi Chris,

Another great story! I read the first 3 chapters and will be back for more later. Like your last book, I love your imagery of nature. It's clear that you've spent a lot of time outside. I also think your voice in this story is very good for a teenage boy, although some of the specific plant names might be a bit of stretch. You did mention that Billy explained that to them in the beginning, plus he's been going there for years, so I suppose it's reasonable.

In chapter 1, I loved the line about sargassum and sarcastic. He thinks he's not witty, but that was pretty good :) I also liked the hook at the end of the chapter--it made me want to read more.

In chapter 2, when Michael says "I didn't have the utmost confidence. Yet another product of my miserable home," I wonder if a teen would be that self aware? Maybe you could make that clear in more of a showing rather than telling way?

Also in chapter 2, "...blonde-haired girl that..." I think that should be who.

In chapter 3, I felt the paragraph that started with "The gulfstream zipped..." felt a little out of place. Are you using that to foreshadow something? I kind of think that might be the case given the plot about smugglers. If so, then maybe you could add a little more of a transition? If it's not foreshadowing anything, I don't think it would hurt the story at all if you removed it.

Also in chapter 3, "... couldn't be farther from the truth..." Farther should be further.

Overall, a great read. The main character is likeable and I'm interested in finding out what happens to him (both romantically and from an adventure standpoint). I'm also interested to see his personal growth as you have clearly set the stage for that.

High stars--

Shannon (SM Koz)
Breaking Free



Abby Rose wrote 90 days ago

The act of true teenagers on the search of pretty girls and complaining about Summer Camp. Ah teenage days.
I didn't have any problems with grammar or sentence structure because this story pulls you away from that, it's all plot and grammar becomes a mere third wheel (a lot like the Hunger Games and Twilight). This story is interesting, I must read on. Thank you for allowing me to read it.

Abby

Angela Merlo wrote 90 days ago

YARG

Okay, so I had decided to read and critique Game Changer over Lent. I had read a couple chapters originally back when I had backed it originally. I had always intended to read more but never got to it. Once I did read it all, I was going to give a long review, but by that time it was on the editor's desk and I decide "Eh. He probably doesn't need my two cents on it."

So now I've read a couple of chapters of this. I don't have much to say, but I'm commenting on this I suppose just to get the YARG credit. Me, not having much to say is a good thing because I nitpick and I didn't really find anything of importance to nitpick. So, highly stared and backed.

Angela Merlo

Robin the brave wrote 97 days ago

Chris,

Sorry it's taken me so long to get around to taking a look at your book. It's been a busy week or so...
Anyway, I've just read the first chapter....

OK so first off - please remember these are only my thoughts - purely subjective and all that, but...

I'd cut almost all of your first chapter. Please let me explain why:

I think this is where your story gets really interesting. How would this read as your opening?

"Dude you've gotta see this," Jack whispered.
Not thirty yards away, a blonde haired girl lay face down on her towel in the sand, the water a few feet from touching her toes. But what really caught my eye was a long, curvy brunette..."

Ok, so I don't know if you'll agree, but I think that's your 'hook'. The rest of the information you've set out here is mostly about where they are and why they're there. You can drip feed that in later. I'd use this as the beginning of the first chapter and make chapter 2 chapter 1.

Also this alternative opening performs an important function - it poses questions - arouses curiosity in the reader. Who are the girls? Where are they? Why are they there? Etc, etc.

All through journalism school, my tutor crossed out most of my stories with red pen and circled the bit I'd added at the bottom. "That's your top line," he'd say. I cursed him at the time - but he was right. And I think the same applies to books - always put your most exciting piece of info first, especially at the beginning of the narrative when you're trying to get your reader's attention.

I'll stop there for now to see what you think.

All the best,

Robin

Roger Laurence wrote 98 days ago

Chris,
You've left me at a bad spot. Seriously? Time to upload some more chapters. The anxiety Mike feels over Heather's interactions with the other boys is perfect. So to is their interaction when they are alone. A+ on the character development. Overall same comments as before, only less so. (It's sort of funny how the first few chapters, the most important ones, are always hardest to get just right.) Still a little to heavy on the blatent foreshadowing. I think the actions and dialogs of your characters are doing the forshadowing very well for you.
I've sprinkeled you with stars as appropriate and added this onto my bookshelf.
Cheers,
Rog

Roger Laurence wrote 98 days ago

There’s a major problem here. The book is ending and I need to continue reading. I’m a sucker for the dual plot with the young love.

Continuing on from my previous YARG review looking at chapters four and five.

Chapter four:

A couple of ideas for tightening things up.
“We walked past the mangroves and continued to the west.” “to the” not necessary.
“Waves slowly rolled in; otherwise the ocean was tranquil now that the racing boat was gone.” Nitpicking here, but something bothering me here, as a tranquil ocean is one without rough ways. Maybe “Now that the racing boat was gone slow rolling gentle waves were all that disturbed the tranquility of the ocean.
“Last year I’d been stuck with three other guys…” “other” can be safely deleted.
You get the idea. I think this would benefit from a sentence by sentence review to make sure each word is contributing in the way you want it to. That said, I tend to the very curt, so take what I say here with a grain of salt. Your protagonist is a lot more verbose than mine!

Occasionally the dialog seems a little to strait for teenagers. A few notes are included below, but I don’t think I noted every instance.

Things are going along really well. We’re looking forward to your hero meeting his pretty girl when the foreshadowing “If only I’d realized then how challenging this summer would be.” Pops out of the tranquil ocean and bops us on the head with a sledge hammer. I think you’ve already set the stage here through your characters actions and dialog.

“The wail of a piercing siren” is a redundant description; three words all describing the same thing. I’d go with two out of the three, either wail of a siren, or piercing siren, or, come to think of it, just the siren cause you point out next thought that this forces his attention to sea (and you can drop the the in to the sea, or you might if you were an old Navy guy like myself.)
“Jack spoke the question we all had to have been thinking.” Hmm, isn’t it obvious that they all had to be thinking that question?

The paragraph that starts “Apparently the Keys…” Not sure why this is here and feels like it’s getting in the way of the two plot lines we want very much to happen, the girl and the boat.

“It instantly let me know why we’d made the trip.” Hmm, this was obvious for some time now, and even more obvious from the previous sentence. Same thing with “started off with attitude, but it evaporated quickly.” Your wonderful dialog is doing a much better job of speaking for your characters. Go for it. And the next section proves it! This is the best part of the book so far.

“I made a point” but then you say he didn’t want to be obvious. Hmm. I’d take out the point.

Instead of saying “our counselors” perhaps “they” or use the counselors names to make it seem more natural.

Right after Mike chokes it seems like he would at least sneak a glance back up and try to recover.

“My friend fell on the cap rock…” wouldn’t she mention a name?

A quick word about the Coast Guard, and since I’m not sure what’s going on yet (excellent building of the mystery) I’d just point out that the CG won’t be conducting an overt search surveillance using deepwater assets unless they were already in a pursuit/arrest phase because there is too much risk of tipping off the suspects. It sounds like they should be in the investigation/covert surveillance phase, the signs of which might be running into an unexpected pair of observers in the bush, an unmarked boat anchoring without the appropriate vacationing fishermen, helicopter flybys or the persistent presence of a medium altitude surveillance plane, or (in today’s day and age) the passage of a drone (which would be cool!)

Chapter five.

“We’re rolling out early in the morning.” Recommend strike “in the morning.”

“It was a whole lot closer to the equator there than back around Atlanta.” Sounds awkward. Consider “It was a whole lot closer to the equator than Atlanta.”

“You have any soap?” Consider “Have any soap.”

“I’ll be right back.” Could be “Be right back.”

yoann wrote 98 days ago

Hi Chris-

This is a YARG review. I've read the first two chapters, and I really like what I read! It flows well and it's easy to read. You're also very good with dialogues, reflecting well real life interactions. Here are some notes I've taken as I was reading - as it turned out I only had comments about the first chapter:

I particularly like the lighthearted tone of the narration, like “(…) tried to come up with a witty reply. Like normal, I failed.”

You mention it’s Mike’s fifth summer there and he knows everything the place has to offer, yet when he gets to the backyard it feels like he’s seeing it for the first time, and he realizes that the name is fitting; it feels a bit contradictory, since he just told Jack he didn’t know where the names came from.

“It had a minty taste that a person wouldn’t ever suspect.” It’s an odd way to phrase this sentence…I feel like “It had a minty taste that no one would suspect.” would flow better? Maybe not…my eyes just blocked on that sentence!

A little later, “I shook my head. It was nobody’s business by my own.” Shouldn’t it be “but my own”?

At the end of the chapter, the sentence “I put one flip flop in front of the other and continued on my merry way” seems unnecessary to me, and if you got rid of it and kept the next sentence as the beginning of the paragraph, it would make perfect sense; this first sentence makes it a bit heavy, I find.

I didn't have anything to say about the second chapter, except that I enjoyed it and now I want to read the third chapter, so that's always a good sign! I'm looking forward to seeing how it will take a dark turn!

I'm giving it full stars and adding it to my watchlist!

Yoann

carol jefferies wrote 103 days ago

Hi Chris,

Poisonwood Key

Both your pitches made your work appeal to me.

The opening is a little subdued but also intriguing. I was curious to know why Mike had had such a bad day?

From the pitches and the opening it is easy to identify with the hapless Mike reluctantly at summer camp. The added discomfort of the extreme heat and the glare of the sun wins further sympathy from me. The settings are well depicted, and your writing reads effortlessly thanks, no doubt, to good editing.

The observation of a mysterious high-powered racing boat in an unpopular area of the beach serves as an excellent hook while the boys are distracted by the girls in the adjoining camp. The dialogue is natural.


Well done. You are sure to do well on this site.

Carol Jefferies

The Witch of Fleet Street
Chase of a Ewe-lamb

Roger Laurence wrote 104 days ago

This is a YARG review.

Dude, this is awesome. That said, and since I’m really only into reviews in the hope that I’ll get lots of constructive ideas for me to work on for my book, I have a few things for you to consider. Hope they help.

Short pitch:
You have all the right things in there for a really grabbing short pitch, just not sure you’ve strung it into the best structure to catch the most readers. That said, off the top of my head I can’t think of a better arrangement, but maybe still worth the effort of trying every variation of wording you can imagine and reading them aloud.

Long pitch: Half naked has a different connotation than bikini clad. Not sure which image you’re trying to invoke, but saying half naked, and later referring to Heather as ‘the Hottie’ might cause some readers to shy off. I think the last paragraph is, one, a little disjointed from the previous paragraph, and two, not quite conveying what you want it to convey. Does he really ‘lead the battle through a gang…?” If not, might want to consider putting what he actually does, perhaps saving them from a gang of thugs, or avoiding a gang of thugs relentlessly pursuing them.

Chapter one. This is a nice lead in. I’d keep reading. Mission accomplished. Especially the second to the last paragraph, perhaps a perfect place to end the chapter. Which then suggests that you delete the last paragraph. Is it buying you anything? We already know the week became much less boring, and we think, if were’re going to keep reading, that there is much more excitement to come.

Chapter two “Our lousy, sargassum-covered little beach was in no way as pretty as that one” is quite awkward.

“…but I had juat a little more practice trying to talk…” I think you could streamline this sentence.

“…for sure, but her looks would’ve been dramatically improved if…”

“Hopefully we’ll get to see y’all later. Have a great week.” Either sounds too stilted for normal teenaged conversation, or not stilted enough if you’re really thinking tall brunet has turned his mind into stone. I can almost hear Mike’s gears grinding to a halt at the sight of Heather, then restarting furiously, only to jam to a halt again… That’s a good thing, you’ve created a super believable character and we already see into his head, but now you have to keep it consistent.

Regardign Mike, we already get the sense that he is a little too self depreciating, that he has some hidden talents, but I think you might consider bringing these out more. Interesting, but I had to go back to the book intro to figure out your protagonist’s name. Did I just miss it reading too quickly or is it not in the first two chapters?

Chapter three:

Consider deleting “The other two guys.” It’s obvious.

So, for me the transition to Billy wanting to lead them to the other camp comes out of the blue a little to fast. What if Mike tells Billy up front that they accidentally ran into the other girls, including the camp counsilor, really cute… Now Billy has an idea in his head…

That’s it though chapter three. Lots of stars. I’ll keep reading till I’m out of pages. Can’t give you higher praise than that. If you get a chance I’d love for you to take a look at Music Man.

Cheers,
Roger Laurence
Music Man

MichaelDorman wrote 111 days ago

This is a YARG review:

Ch1:
This is definitely good stuff. I don't have much to complain about, and a lot to praise. I really like how you build up the description only after the characters are introduced, and reveal the situation the boys find themselves in the same way.

I'm intriqued by the plot, I find the characters likeable, and by the end of the chapter found myself wanting to read the next.

First of all, I must apologize: I have no idea how to count which line or paragraph this comments occur on (any advice on this?)
"It was no business by my own."-- (but my own?)
"...Camp Fun and the Sun. I'd been coming out there since was twelve." Shouldn't it be "I'd been coming HERE since I was twelve." (because they are there right now, yes?). The same would apply for the other uses on this paragraph.

For the sake of critique and nuanced review, the only thing else I might grumble about is that some paragraphs of description seemed unnecessary. While I appreciated the descriptive skill in discussing the different types of debris in the water, I found that passage in particular unneccesary. I think the thing might read that much more smoothly if a few of the less essential descriptive passages were either taken out or toned down.

But it was definitely good stuff. Top stars and I'm going to keep reading!

Ch 2:
Let me just say that I loved this! I found myself reading this fast, desirious--like I would a good book, in other words--and loved going back to that time in life where we didn't know how to talk to girls (I am, of course, now an expert). I think this is really well done.

After the "Do we have to?", I think it would be better to cut the next two lines of dialouge. I get that you're trying to convey the sense of not wanting to go, but I find the dialouge redundant and think that it's much more pithy and powerful (and conveys all the sense you need) by ending that bit with the "do we have to?"

"I don't think I've seen you working here before?" --I don't think you need a "?" mark on that one.

Anyway, really like your story. I think you've done a great job. So, great, in fact, that I will put this on my bookshelf and keep reading.

--Mike Dorman
"Tides of Tomorrow"

RJBrown wrote 112 days ago

Chapter one:

Great opening line. It threw me, as someone who lives in the rain most of the time the sun coming out is always such a wonderful feeling. Already I am wondering who your main character is and why he hates the sun!

Besides my natural inclination to boredom with lying around all day – This reads slightly chunkily and my brain had to work to process it.

Tourist tree because its red and peeling – nice touch of humour.

I’m curious as to why Mike feels that his summers are from hell. It seems to me that being at home with an abusive father would definitely be worse.

He says he didn’t get a great look at the boat, but he still managed to tell it had four motors… im not a boat expert so this may be something that would be immediately obvious from a distance, but it read a little like a contradiction.

I love the excitement you show us with the simple action of tearing his shorts free, leaves still attached. And the description of the shorter girl tying the taller ones bikini top is intimate and sexy without feeling the need to name the more obvious body parts. This was very well done.

The chapter ends with a nice little teaser of what is yet to come. I am curious about Mike. There are lots of questions forming in my head, good character building here and I would definitely read on to find out more about him.

Chapter two:

I love the way he refers to her as ‘my girl’ this tells us so much. Do be aware though that in the same paragraph you use the word girl three times. Maybe change the counsellor to woman? Or the dark haired girl to the dark haired one?

The brunette was so amazing and despite my big talk, I didn’t have the utmost confidence. Yet another product of my miserable home life. – This feels a little told. We are already starting to build a picture of his home life. Not too sure how you could re work it but might be worth a little bit of thought.

The way you describe the two boys getting caught is done well. I was cringing as he tried, unsuccessfully to hide behind the tree. What an embarrassing situation to be caught in! It was funny but also a little daunting, knowing that Billy is strict adds a sense of dread.

Nice end to the chapter though with a little hope.

Chapter three:

I’m just a little confused at this point how long Mike and Jack are at camp for? You mention a week a couple of times, but then in the first chapter you tell us how he has spent his previous summers here, and that he is shipped off for the summer, which makes it seem like he will be there for longer. It’s only a minor point and may not bother other readers, but I like to have an idea in my mind.
As soon as the flames calmed down and the coals stared glowing – Should this be started? Or is it stared and I’m just being an idiot? I couldn’t decide so I thought I would leave that to you!

Is it just the four of them? That’s a small camp. Not sure why I mention this, I suppose I just had a busier camp in my mind whilst reading the first chapter.

The boat again – This is intriguing. I want to know what it means. There is obviously something sinister going on and I’m going to read on to find out what!

Chapter four:

Ahhh, so that explains why Billy was happy to visit the girls. This makes sense. I originally wondered why he would abandon being strict, and considered it might be a trick. But ultimately if he is only a college lad, he would still have the same urges as the younger boys so this clicked into place nicely.

I’m curious… is Heather’s character based on anyone you know/ knew when you were younger? Reason for asking is that as someone who was as tall as her at that age, she seems very confident. Maybe you have met girls that tall who were, but for me and a couple of my taller friends, we didn’t really find our confidence until later on. Being that tall at that age is a very scary thing, it can be really daunting and it surprised me a little that she is so confident. That said, she is your character so you know what her story is.

Chapter six:

‘It was hard to fight back the jealousy’ – then only a few lines later ‘I swallowed down the hard lump of jealousy’. Maybe get rid of the first jealous, it doesn’t serve the story as he wants Heather, so he shouldn’t feel too jealous about Ashley’s smile at Ethan. If anything it should be a good thing as if Ethan gets with Ashley it gets rid of his competition, Heather is hardly likely to look at the other two if they are shorter than her.

‘Although I’d never gotten used to living at the edge of moistness’ – next line you use the word edge again, different context but still sounds a little repetitive.

Chapter seven:

We were into the heart of the maze and I was already completed turned around – Should be completely

I’d never seen that many birds, if any in the mangroves before – You contradict yourself a little by then saying – usually part of the whole mangrove adventure was supposed to be all the wildlife.

Chapter eight:

I love the growing rapport between Mike and Heather and the walk off into the mangroves felt natural.

I can’t believe that is where you are going to leave us hanging! What’s in the case? I want to know more!

I always read pitches last, so that I can determine the story for myself with no spoilers. I think both your pitches are strong and give a good indication of what is to come. My only concern is that the short pitch does give a lot of the story away. Had I read it in advance of reading the chapters posted, I would have felt disappointed by the spoiler. There is also a chance I may have been more desperate to get to that action and pick up from a part of the story where I didn’t know what happened.

Overall I would say you have a great story here. It is engaging and intriguing and I am desperate to find out what happens and what kind of danger they get in to! High stars and back on my bookshelf!

R
X

Heidi Whatcott wrote 218 days ago

I liked this better than Game Changer. The setting is immediately more ominous. I also think your characters have a lot more depth. I really liked this MC, his difficult background, his awkwardness around girls. I liked seeing him sticking up for his mother and wondering about his little brother. I would give him a little more angst when he thinks of his little brother home alone with his dad. I like his knowledge about plants, but I would give a reason for it. Maybe his counselor for the first two years was a crazy survivalist. If they didn't memorize the plants and pass his constant pop quizzes, they didn't eat. I like Mike's complaints about the weather. My little brother was sent to a Boy Scout Jamboree at a big camp in Florida, and all we got were constant phone calls and pleas for a plane ticket home. He was miserable in the heat and sun.

I think you need a few more ominous details about the boat. The number of motors is good, but maybe he could think that boat is equipped to outrun anything. What is it trying to outrun? When Jack asks what it could be doing there, Mike should immediately think of drug running or human smuggling, but try to reassure himself that if there were problems in this area, they wouldn't have made this a kid's camp. The other thing that could occur to him is that all the kids on that island are from rich families and could be targets. A camp on a deserted island with one counselor to every four kids is very expensive. Maybe Mike's dad sends him because he doesn't want his son to be a wimp. The large paths in the mangrove could be scarier because he realizes boats are not just zipping by the island, someone has been actually coming ashore.

When Billy left the tent in the middle of the night, that really upped the ante. If their counselor turns out to be a bad guy, they are really in trouble.

I was much more invested in this story. I think you've got a great beginning, and as usual, the writing is excellent. I think this one will really do well once the other one makes the desk. I'm loading you up on stars and keeping it watchlisted.

Good luck,
Heidi Whatcott--Crayton House

Daniel J W wrote 223 days ago

Enjoyed the first chapter. The relationship between the two brothers was realistic, the writing relatable and the dialogue natural, will read.

Fiona Haven wrote 258 days ago

Hello Chris,
YARG review / return read

I enjoyed this, and it's not my normal sort of read.
The 4 chapters I read all seemed quite professionally written, so I don't have too many comments.
I liked it more than Game Changer, perhaps because it's clearer from the outset where the story is going, so I wasn't kept wondering so much. And maybe the sunny beach and the shenanigans like spying on the girls gives it a lighter feel.

Chapter 1:
(I wondered why you don't give your chapters titles?)

"What's up with the front yard, backyard names anyway?" I didn't understand the first time I read it. Don't know if you could phrase it more directly, refer to the camps?

This may be just me, but I found the pattern of dialogue got irritating, with Jack asking endless questions and Mike doing a school-teacher-ish thing coming up with all the answers. As a way to show their characters it might be slightly overdone as it made Jack seem too clueless and Mike too opinionated, I thought.

Chapter 2:
all good here.

Chapter 3:
"I think you know better than that" seemed odd to me, firstly because he confesses to wrong-doing so readily, and secondly that he assumes Billy would know what he was up to.

Chapter 4:
I made a note that there is a lot of detail in your writing, on the surroundings and the things they need to do in camp, which slows the pace. But then I found my son reading over my shoulder and he really enjoyed some of the details, like how the islands were formed and the natural science in there, so perhaps you've got it right. He didn't like all the talking and the bits with the girls, but then he's only 12. Incidentally, he didn't understand the references to keys (we're not from the US).

I found the way Mike was instantly smitten with Heather and his attempts to talk to her really quite funny. (That's good).
I saw some comments from other reviewers that the girls were 2-dimensional, but in the early chapters I thought that was reasonable, as the boys hadn't yet got to know them. I'm assuming you'll flesh out their characters later in the story (but as this book is so clearly aimed at boys, it may not even matter if you don't).

I wondered a little why Mike paid so much attention to the power boat, as I didn't really buy into the (repeated) statements that there were never any other boats there. Perhaps it's because I don't have a feel for quite how remote the island is.

So far very enjoyable and, judging by the way my son started reading over my shoulder, I think you're onto a winner here.

Best wishes,
Fiona Haven
Falling Upwards

Bev Carr wrote 259 days ago

Chris,
I've started to have a look. It's a great beginning:- I've put a few comments. By far less typos and errors than mine! ;0) I'd also like to come back and read some more. Hope that this helps.....
Chapter 1:
A opening chapter that offers a laddish teen treasure island.
I like the voice that you use. The setting is described through feelings,
Suggested typos?
It was nobody's business by my own (but my own) ?

Chapter 2:
I couldn't find the courage to go talk anymore: (I couldn't find the courage to go over and talk...... (or) I couldn't find the courage to speak)
if you used 'speak' instead of 'talk' in this instance, it would flow better as in the sentence after, there is also 'despite my big talk' (two' talk' in the same paragraph.
College Girl was all business, though, (it doesn't seem to flow, perhaps lose the (,) before though.

Pippa Whitethorn wrote 271 days ago

YARG

Hi Chris

I read all you had up here - it's a good lad's story, which means that I'm totally the wrong person to review it, so feel free to ignore my comments as I'm not your target audience. I didn't make any detailed notes because it's all very well done and I couldn't find any typos, so it's just general thoughts. You do loads of things very well - particularly your descriptions of the setting, the characters of the boys and their interactions which are all very believable, and the dialogue. There is a gradual building of tension in the story with the appearances of the boats and you have some great hooks at the ends of some of the chapters, notably the last one.

For me the things that worked less well were the girl's characters, which seemed a bit stereotypical and one dimensional compared to the boys. All the women are really hot (which is a little unrealistic if we're outside the realms of fantasy) and also interested in the two boys despite the fact they've been spying on them sunbathing and didn't have the guts to come out and speak to them. Mike describes Heather as looking like a goddess, which seems a bit clichéd for you. The girls also don't eat much and they're all good cooks.

I also thought that maybe the pacing was a little slow - I was wanting some big thing to happen to get the book going and your mention of hostage takers and gunfire in the pitch had me expecting some kind of early bloodbath to get rid of some of the minor characters. The fact Mike thought there was a killer after him when he was clearing the trail and the mention of two figures in green shortly after that added to my expectations - I'm sure that was deliberate. I still want to know what was in the chest and why it wasn't locked.

Good luck with it - not that you need it - I expect it will be up there with Game Changer soon

Pippa

Outdoor Dude wrote 280 days ago

This has to be one of the funniest books on the site. I'mnot sure why you haven't tagged this as Comedy. Not only is the MC hilarious, the storyline is engaging. I've really enjoyed this. It's my pleasure to place this one on my shelf. Best of luck making the desk.

L.Lombard wrote 291 days ago

YARG, CWOG, and CAN review

Hey Chris, you’ve done it again! A great adventure/thriller written in a strong YA voice. I think Glaring Misfortune would be very well accepted by middle-grade students, and I don’t think there’s enough literature for (particularly) young men that age. So, well done! The plot has a good pace and, as always, the imagery and dialogue leads the reader to follow the plot alongside the characters. I didn’t comment on the first three chapters because I see that most of what I observed has been mentioned. Here are my notes, feel free to ignore:

Ch. 4
- Waves slowly rolled in; otherwise the ocean was tranquil now that the racing boat was gone. (I would drop "otherwise")
- It was amazing how many more you could see out there. (Out here)
- The lights of my city always seemed to wash everything out other than the brightest few. (To wash out all but the brightest few)
- I was really grateful that he’d decided to come along that (this?) year. Then there were Ethan and Grant. My mom was better friends with those guy’s (guys') parents than I was with them.
- But I guess I never appreciated that (the) place for what it was supposed to be­—an escape from home.
- Just like ours, they were (it was) situated in an opening barely set back in the woods. (hmm, throughout the story, I’m getting more the feeling of “now” than “then”. Know what I mean?)
- “Leave him alone, Ash,” Heather said. Then she leaned into (in to) whisper…
- The spotlight turned (in) our direction, temporarily blinding me as the beam ran along the beach.
- “It’s late, boys. We’d better get headed back.” (We'd better head back.)

Ch.5
- “Yeah, yeah. We’re coming(,)” Ethan replied, and it sound like goody-two-shoes Grant was giving him trouble about smarting off to our counselor.
- We’d had them in camp all week; it was to the point that they were almost like pets. (could you drop "it was"?)

Ch. 6
- I heard Jack take a deep breath before he finally told her hello. (Said hello?)

Ch.8
- “Y’all probably think I’m weird, but it’s (there's) a simple explanation.”

All six stars!
L-
EBO

Scott Butcher wrote 304 days ago

CWOG, YARG, CAN reviews

Hey Chris,

Read the first three chapters. Now I have a problem. Which book do I shelve? Gamechanger? Or Glaring Misfortune? I did find a few minor typos for you:

Chp 1:
"Well duh...I knew that." should be "Well duh... I know that."
"Like every typical summer..." not sure about this one "typical" doesn't sound right, I think it can be dropped.
"...see on the backyard..." should that be "...see in the backyard..."
Is sneaked a word? I think it's snuck. In fact I just googled it, it's snuck.

Mike's family don't sound very nice at all. Despite being bored at camp, I would think he would still find it a bit of a relief being there.

"...rare to hear a boat that close..." might be better as "...rare to hear a boat so close..."
"The week suddenly became..." or "The week had suddenly become..."

Chp 2: couldn't find anything to help you with there, I guess it's perfect. :)

Chp 3:
"...afraid to dispense with discipline." that's not right. The way you've written that, it means get rid of discipline. How about "...afraid to dispense discipline."

"...and the coals stared glowing.." should that be "started".

What is that red boat up to?

In the long pitch "...for camp in the Florida Keys..." better as "...to camp in the Florida Keys..."

Another well presented Bostic offering, well deserving of shelf space.

Cheers, Scott Butcher (The Dreams of Aine's Blood)

TSW Sharman wrote 305 days ago

YARG - Additional comments...all minor

CH1.
A couple of comments: the dialogue “What’s up with the front yard, backyard names anyway?” was hard to understand first time.

‘Not now, Jack. Not ever.’ I think that may need to be in a paragraph by itself to stand out – and maybe add a little more hint (like, don’t get me thinking about that.) As it is, it could be just a touch too vague. Such a nuance though.

CH2
I really couldn’t find anything here to complain about. You put drama into these situations effortlessly. The character distinctions between the two, highlighted by the counselor’s intervention, are more pronounced than with Game Changer.

and on…
Seems there’s a touch more darkness around the Dad in this. I like that.

‘Apparently the Keys were…’ Apparently, doesn’t quite ring true. I think he should assert, he knows this already. Nuance.

Maybe we just weren’t very good cooks. Funny.

Oh no, Ethan and Heather…!

I have this feeling that this is more developed than Game Changer. Maybe it’s just the situation – the separation of boys and girls, the background anxiety that comes from the ships. I think I felt the boy-girl stakes lower in Game Changer, at least initially (I think you stoked the passions later on, further in.)

Ch7 – in the mangrove swamp…I feel the girls’ characters aren’t maybe getting as developed as they could be – I don’t quite see Holly, and is Ashley even there? Even Heather isn’t quite alive for me. (Funnily enough, it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment one bit, which makes me laugh at myself.)

You use ‘flawless’ for Heather – I think that’s maybe pulling a punch, too refined, feels slightly dissonant.

Digging for the chest – Heather stars to come alive as a personality.

Nice end to Ch8 – what’s in the trunk!!! Thanks.

TSW Sharman wrote 305 days ago

YARG III review

Chris, you’re like a ‘brand’ – realistic and fast-paced tales for young men who think like young men. Great, natural dialogue and vernacular, un-intrusive narration. I honestly think this is better than Game Changer, in that is has more dramatic tension – although not much up here at the moment. Very, very commercial.

I’d buy this for my godsons, nephews etc – and I would have been so happy to have had these when I was growing up.

Great work.

I’m not wild about the title though.

Backed. Full stars becuase it is so commercial.

jessicaminor wrote 306 days ago

Yarg review
I really liked it. I enjoyed reading the swAMP SCENE MORE THAN ANYTHING it was good. I can't wait to read the rest of it

jessicaminor wrote 306 days ago

Yarg review

I like this one it is fresh and exciting, a good read with strong believable chareters . the pace is excellent a very well written book I shall keep reading on

jessicaminor wrote 306 days ago

It's on my watchlist for the moment I plan to comment when I get some reading time in I just added a book to the forum, portal to reality

Jaclyn Aurore wrote 306 days ago

CWOG/YARG

interesting so far... except the 'broseph' parts... and the parts where you add an unnecessary apostrophe after bro
if all the characters in all your books are going to call everyone else 'broseph' you really should aspire to add a lusty threeway at every opportunity... 3 chics on a beach... one topless... and one dude that almost lost his shorts in the woods... that's like a 4-some... and Jack, the creeper who's too stupid to join

second chapter - two paragraphs in a row, you say "quite" which seems quite formal for teenage boys. i'd cut out that "quite a while" to just simply "a while"
"I'd started to slowly back away" is a bit of a mouthful... try "I slowly backed away"
same with "I only had one last chance" - should be "I only had one chance" or "This was my last chance"
"Characteristically quiet" or "Uncharacteristically quiet" - not sure... could go either way really, just wanted to make sure it wasn't a typo

chapter 3
"the coals stared glowing" - think you mean "started"
is shark fishing legal?
"sweat bath" - lovely imagery


good stuff - i'll finish it later :)

Jac x
My Life Without Me

Angelika Rust wrote 307 days ago

I had the privilege to read this in full before it was uploaded here.
As is his habit, Chris leads the reader from a seemingly innocent beginning to a wild hunt. The MC is easygoing, resourceful, loyal and totally self-effacing, which makes him instantly likable and easy to understand.
A fine YA read, action-packed and adventurous.

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