Guest Blogger: Natasha Deen, Author of True Grime 2: Angel Maker

For the last two years, human Aponi Runningbear has been training to be part of Grime, the magical police division tasked with protecting humanity from SOAP terrorists. But things aren’t going well. She’s barely keeping up with her studies, failing the physical component, and her Generalized Anxiety Disorder is making her bad days even worse. When her team is given the chance to find a missing coworker and stop SOAP from producing a DNA-altering drug that’s killing humans, Aponi grabs hold of the chance to show she’s meant for Grime. But as the investigation heats up, she’s forced to deal with the tormentor from her past, dead bodies, and the certainty that SOAP’s going to win this battle. Humanity’s dying, Grime’s in trouble, and she’s failing…does a foster kid really have what it takes to save the world and herself?

Reasearch Can Be Fun by Natasha Deen

Part of the fun of writing the True Grime series is mixing animal facts with mythical creatures such as fairies, banshees, and the like. For example in the second installment, True Grime 2: Angel Maker, I combined an aswang (an evil Filipino creature that struck me as a cross between a banshee and a vampire) and gave her mosquito-like abilities. I read a mosquito’s sense of smell is 10 000 times greater than a human and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if the aswang could track her prey within a two mile radius? Like the mosquito, what if she used carbon dioxide to triangulate the location of my heroine?”  Then, to make it more fun for me (and less fun for my heroine), I decided the aswang should go dead silent when it reached a four-foot radius and the only clue my protagonist, Aponi, would get that the creature was close was the decaying scent of rotting meat that the creature gave off…which meant, Aponi would have a two second lead on not being butchered by a creature who thought she’d stolen one of her eggs.

Yay! Let the fun begin!

Here are a few other things I found out about the creatures that make up our earth:

The praying mantis is the only insect that can turn its head 360 degrees. (Author’s note: Obviously, these people never met my mother.  Her friends wondered why her children were so well-behaved…her children knew Mommy had 360 vision…)

The Chameleon can focus its eyes separately to watch two objects at once. (This ability has been envied by many a man on a beach).

Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards. (Actually…neither can I).

If a Copperhead snake loses a fang it can replace it with a spare. It has up to seven spare fangs. (I knew a mean girl in junior high who had the same ability).

Frogs sleep with their eyes open. (So do politicians).

For more fun and weird facts on animals, try googling “weird animal facts” in your search engine and see what you come up with.  (The facts listed above came from

When I was little, there was only one thing I wanted to be: a superhero. But there came a day when my dreams were broken, and that was the day I realized that being a klutz was not, in fact, a super power, and my super weakness for anything bright and shiny meant a magpie with self-control could easily defeat me in a battle of wills. I turned to writing as a way to sharpen my mental super-hero skills. I don’t get to orbit the earth in a space station (and thank God, because I get sick on merry go round), but I do get to say things like: “Stand aside! This is a job for Writing Girl!!” 


Top 10 Middle Grade and Young Adult Books of 2011

I’ve had such a difficult time picking favorites this year. There are so many books that can make these lists–like I mentioned over at The Book Connection–when I posted my Top 10 for that blog earlier today. I didn’t read as many books in the middle grade and young adult categories as I would have liked to this year, but I’m hoping to focus a bit more on those in 2012. It all depends upon my schedule and the requests I receive.

Sometimes reviewers are lucky when compiling their Top 10, and one book stands out amongst the rest. That is certainly the case for this list. Once We Were Kings by Ian Alexander is my favorite in the MG/YA categories for 2011. It tells the story of an orphan boy and a peasant girl from opposing villages who must work to unite their kingdoms against a powerful enemy that  threatens to destroy them.  With wonderful, well-drawn characters and a superb plot, Once We Were Kings  takes top honors this year.

While not a huge lover of this genre, I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon excellent fantasy titles for young readers over the past couple of years. I look forward to finding more.

Here are other favorites from 2011:

2. Vorak the Incomprehensible: Rule the School by Vordak T. Incomprehensible

3.  Horrid Henry Rocks by Francesca Simon

4.  Horrid Henry Wakes the Dead by Francesca Simon

5.  Bad Spelling by Marv Dasef

6. Peter Rock Star from Galilee: A Guided Bible Study for Teens by Sherree Funk

7. The Crypto-Capers in The Chest of Mystery by Renee Hand

8. Nana Takes the Reins by Kathleen Lane

9. Nate Rocks the World by Karen Pokras Toz

10. True Grime by Natasha Deen

Look for  my list for favorite picture books coming soon!

Book Review: True Grime by Natasha Deen

I can’t believe I am going to say this, but a book filled with magic and fairies might just be my favorite read of 2011. True Grime by Natasha Deen finds teen fairy Pepper Powder sent undercover in the human world. And what might have happened to cause this? Well, she’s a good Grime cop, that’s for sure. She and her senior partner Harley Hands make a great team, which is another plus. But what really sets it all in motion is when terrorist leader Claude Von Beulow escapes and releases a necrophage bomb that not only decimates Grime headquarters, it leaves Pepper as the first fairy amputee. Pepper, Harley, and the Grime team race against the clock to prevent Von Beulow from unleashing a VIURS in one of the human world’s biggest shopping centers, West Edmonton Mall.

So, in case you missed it by my opening line, magic and fairies aren’t really my thing. I live in the real world and there is plenty of real world drama for us to create in our novels without making up worlds, creatures, and all sorts of crazy things I just don’t get. But I liked the synopsis of this book, so I figured I would give it a try. I’m so glad I did.

Deen’s strength definitely resides in her development of characters. We have the impulsive, sarcastic Pepper who can be a bit of a lone wolf, running off and doing what she shouldn’t if she thinks it will accomplish the job. She’s never been undercover in the human world. She sure didn’t know it would be filled with bullies and cliques. Then there’s Harley, much older, much wiser. He knows humans almost as well as he knows himself. He’s the one who keeps a cool head about him, and he’s fiercely protective of Pepper. Then there are the supplemental characters: Lou, the Grime Lieutenant, Loca the technology guru, and Dr. Bentley, who helps get Pepper back up and running again after her leg is amputated.

In addition to her fabulous characters, you have a unique plot that engages the reader right away. From the opening line, you’re drawn in: “In The City, crime never slept. It didn’t eat or exercise, either, but I wished it would shower.”  Pepper makes an excellent narrator for this story. She’s strong, funny, quick with the wit, and you can see she means well when she flubs.

What I feel Deen portrayed so well in True Grime is the commitment cops have to stomping out crime, and their devotion to their partners and fellow crime fighters.  There were moments when it became very intense and the stakes were as high as they could get, but none of these people ever gave up.

If you’re looking for a witty, engaging fairy story, you’ll find it in True Grime by Natasha Deen.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher:Blueberry Hill
  • ISBN-10:0986741914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0986741913
  • SRP: $12.99 (paperback)
  • Also available in a Kindle edition

Author’s bio:

When I was little, there was only one thing I wanted to be: a superhero. But there came a day when my dreams were broken, and that was the day I realized that being a klutz was not, in fact, a super power, and my super weakness for anything bright and shiny meant a magpie with self-control could easily defeat me in a battle of wills. I turned to writing as a way to sharpen my mental super-hero skills. I don’t get to orbit the earth in a space station (and thank God, because I get sick on merry go round), but I do get to say things like: “Stand aside! This is a job for Writing Girl!!”

Connect With Natasha:







Follow the rest of Natasha’s tour:

November 27-Live To Read (Review)
November 29-Reviews By Molly (Review)
November 30-Celtic Lady’s Reviews (Review)

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinions. I was not monetarily compensated in any way to provide my review.

Interview with Natasha Deen, Author of True Grime

Joining us today is Natasha, author of the YA urban-fantasy, True Grime.

Welcome to The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection, Natasha. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

Things you should know about me:

  • When the writing isn’t going well, I make a pan of rice-krispie treats. Then I hide under the desk and eat the entire batch.
  • I like to sing broadway show tunes to my animals.
  • To stimulate creativity, I’ve been known to waltz with the cats/dogs.

In other words, it’s probably a very good thing that I’m a writer because I probably shouldn’t be let out in public.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

One of the reasons I started writing was because I was fed up with what I call Dysfunction Masquerading As Conflict. It’s especially prevalent in romances: she’s supposed to be self-sufficient and stubborn, but just reads shrill. Or he’s “wounded” and that’s the reason he’s allowed to emotionally abuse her, and be a jackass because “it’s okay, ’cause—deep down—he loves her.”

One of my favorites is the external conflict that a five-year-old could solve. She needs the rind of an orange, and he needs the inside, but oh-uh!! There’s only ONE orange. What are they going to do? So the reader suffers through hundreds of pages of “come here” “go away” hot sex, more sex, oh, look, more sex and right when she hits the 100th orgasm, she realizes she really loves him, but boo hoo, there’s that problem of the orange. Then she either gets pregnant and runs away, or sees him having dinner with another woman and runs away, or realizes it’ll never work in this mad, one orange world, and runs away. Inevitably, she gets hits by a truck or car (no doubt, driven by the now, completely pissed off romance reader). Then, she wakes up in a hospital, sees him. He’s all “oh, I love you!” and she says, “It won’t work. There’s only one orange.” Then he solves it all by saying, “No, we can share the orange.”

Then there’s more sex…well, except for the reader whose too busy poking their eyes out or seeking professional help to even consider having sex.

I started writing because I wanted to “put my money where my mouth was” and get a view of the writing process from the other side of the desk.

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

I’ve been in the school system for over ten years and there’s so much that kids are dealing with…I wanted to write a novel that would (1) be a fun escape and a great break from all the homework (2) deal with some of the issues that kids are dealing with now (bullying).

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

Writing for YA/children means being on the ball. The stories need to be tight and entertaining, full of fun and excitement.  But I love writing for this audience because kids are wild—you can really go off the grid with story premises and have fun with lunatic plots/scenarios…in fact, one pre-teen reader said to me (after reading Grime): “I liked it but you should have had a sewer scene.”


“Yeah, something should happen in the sewer.”

Awesome. Never even thought of it, but I promised her (and her friend who came to back her up on the sewer idea) that I’d include it in the sequel.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

Grime cop and teen fairy Pepper Powder lives for one thing: protecting the human species from magical zealots who seek to eradicate them with Violent Illness of Unusual Resistance and Strength (humans call them “viruses,” but their mistake is understandable.  The very young often get their words wrong.).  When a terrorist leader releases a necrophage bomb, it not only decimates Grime headquarters, it turns Pepper into the magical world’s first fairy amputee—but she’s not going to let a little thing like a missing leg stop her.  To catch her criminal, and prevent him from unleashing a V.I.U.R.S in one of the human world’s biggest shopping centers, West Edmonton Mall, she goes undercover as a human.  But once Pepper’s theories of humanity collide with the reality of bullies, cliques, and environmental destruction, will she still believe humanity’s worth saving?

What inspired you to write it?

The BP oil spill prompted Grime. I was watching it (and feeling fatalistic). We were just screwing up. Destroying everything and there was the newscaster, every 15 minutes, coming back and saying, “Oil’s still spilling.” Well, duh.

After a few days, I realized I was seeing it wrong. This wasn’t about us screwing up and killing ourselves and the planet. This was about a company making a terrible mistake and the whole world (it seemed) had turned its eyes to them, and was staring, waiting for them to fix things. The newscaster wasn’t wasting my time and giving me disaster porn, he was the clock-watcher, coming in every so often to say, “Those bastards still haven’t done anything. I’m going to go back and monitor it. We’ll hold them accountable.”

And hold them accountable, not just to the immediate spill, but to the long term effects…and I started thinking about how different my life is compared to the life my grandmothers led (pulled out of school at 8, forced into arranged marriages)…and then I realized that life is getting better. We may be slow, but we’re growing and becoming a better species.

So, I just wanted to send that message and to do it within the context of some of the scarier things we deal with: bullying, terrorism, environment.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

It’s available on, and in e-formats for Nook, Kindle, and epub (Sony, Kobo).

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more? and

What is up next for you?

The sequel to Grime!

Do you have anything else to add?

From now until December 5th, if you post a review for True Grime on, your name is entered to win a Kindle (Generation Four).

Thank you for spending time with us today, Natasha. We wish you much success.

Thank you!


Until December 5, 2011, if you post a review of True Grime on, your name will be entered to win a Kindle! It’s as simple as that! And if you post on and Goodreads, then your name is entered TWICE.
The details:
  1. Contest runs until December 5, 2011, inclusive. 
  2. Post a review of True Grime on and email natasha @ the link.
  3. Once the review is confirmed, your name will be entered into the draw. 
  4. Posting a review on Goodreads will get you a second entry, but your initial review must be (no other amazon site is eligible).
  5. The draw will be on December 7, 2011. 
The Not-So-Fine Print:
No purchase necessary. Entrants must be twelve or older, and one prize will be awarded, world-wide.  Winner must answer skill-testing question: (2 × 4) + (10 × 3) in order to claim their prize.  The winner will receive an Amazon e-gift card, valued at $79 USD, in order to purchase their Kindle. If the winner does not claim their prize within seven days, another winner will be chosen. Promotion ends December 5, 2011. Void where prohibited by law.