As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, SkyFones and InnerNets are all the rage. At her first Bright ceremony, G.O.D., the automated assignment system, spits out Angela Black, Gabby’s arch nemesis and longtime fencing rival. As a Bright, Gabby has to protect Angela, her assigned mortal, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven.
Back on earth, Angela starts hitting on Michael, Gabby’s crush and should-have-been boyfriend. Gabby’s pranks to quell the love are harmless at first until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, Celestial Sky Agent, Lawrence, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, steps into reveal that Angela has big problems, and what she really needs is Gabby’s help.
Determined to right her wrong and ease her mother’s grief, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to earth for just one day. But if Gabby’s not careful, her well-meaning mission just might shift the very foundation of Heaven, Earth, and every place in between, causing the danger of the dark side to roam free.
The first book in the Starling Series and a very good book indeed. The character build up for the main character, Gabby, is great. You also get to I as a reader really got a good feel for her personality. Gabby's name is self explanatory to her need to voice her opinions. The plot is only minorly predictable, not enough for me to get bored with the book, and there were plenty of surprises that had me going "Woah! I never thought of that even being a possibility!" I thoroughly enjoyed this book, however I did find a small issue with one small thing, there are very cleverly thought out ideas in here of how technology can be incorporated with the afterlife that while witty at first, became slightly overpowering later on. Maybe dial the SKYmeter down two to three notches (yes, I did intend pun for that for those of you who have read it already!) but either way, SUPER kudos for the idea of SKYming!
Overall this earned four hearts! Because while it was a great book and I absolutely will be buying the second in the series, it was slightly predicable. I do encourage the purchase of this book not only because it has a great story line and fresh new outlook on death, but also because this is by an indie author! One who I'm very pleased to introduce here with a bit of Q&A!
Raschel: Welcome to the blog! I'm so glad you could join us today!
SRJ: Always love stopping by to chat w my fav bloggers ;)
Raschel: How many books will be in the Starling Series?
SRJ: I have 3 planned but we will see. Right now The Nature of Grace series will be finished first. Middle grade is a hard sell on indie pubbing side so I want to wait a little until that picks up.
Raschel: What inspired you to write OTBS? and/or Was it an original idea or did it spawn to life like a zombie from an old dead project?
SRJ: I just got an idea about a dead girl being forced to protect the girl she hates most. That sounded fun to me when all the "dead girl" books were heavy and dark. We've all wanted to be a fly on the wall and play pranks on someone we didn't like without them knowing. Or is that just me? ;)
Raschel: Oh no, rest assured, I too have had that want in the past....(though I mainly wanted to know if she was putting curses and spells on me.) So, what got you started writing and do you have any suggestions for other wanna-be authors out there ready to take the plunge into indie writing?
SRJ: I started writing because I made space for it. After my daughter was born, I had a 4-5 months maternity leave and would write while she was sleeping. It just blossomed from there. As far as indie pubbing, be sure you know what you are getting into. It is really like running your own business full time. If you don't have time for the business end, think twice. Writing is about 20% of indie pubbling, the rest is business stuff.
Raschel: How do you balance work, kids AND writing all at once?! (really, I wanna know!)
SRJ: Well I don't do them all at once - that is for sure. I write when they are in school (about 3 hours a day) I do most of my marketing and social netowkring at night in front of the TV. I also have a VERY supportive husband!!
You said you started writing while on materity leave, and that now you write while a they are at school, but how did you balance it before they started school?
SRJ: I wrote while they slept for naps and at night. This was about 1 hour during day and a couple hours after they went down at 7. My kids are always in bed by 730 so nights are mine. :)
Was it an easy process once you had gone through all the work of writing and revising to publish it to the various ebooks? or did it take a lot of tweaking to make each program work for you?
SRJ: Each ebook program has certain tweaks and guidelines. But for the most part, I'd say 80% the same and 10% tweaks.
Well thank you S.R. Johannes! We are so glad to get the chance to hear from our authors every now and then and get to pick their brains. Here's a sneak peak at chapter one of On the Bright Side by SR Johannes