Sunday, July 22, 2012

Up & Coming: The Blemished by Sarah Dalton

Looking for a new dystopian novel?  Check out The Blemished by Sarah Dalton

A beautiful world comes at a price...

In a world filled with stunning clones Mina Hart is Blemished. Her genes are worthless and that takes away her rights: her right to an Education, her right to a normal life and her right to have a child.

Mina keeps a dangerous secret which she never thought she could share until she meets Angela on her first day at St Jude's School. But their friendship is soon complicated by Angela’s adoptive brother Daniel. Mina finds herself drawn to his mysterious powers and impulsive nature. Then there is the gorgeous clone Sebastian who Mina is forbidden from even speaking to…

The Blemished is a frightening take on a fractured future where the Genetic Enhancement Ministry have taken control of Britain. It will take you on a ride filled with adventure, romance and rebellion. (This synopsis is from the author.)

Expected publication is August 2012.  My book review is coming soon!  If that weren't exciting enough, look for an interview with Sarah Dalton herself on Monday, August 14, 2012!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

On the importance of world-building

OR: When is a YA novel just a YA novel?
When D13BC met to discuss Timepiece, I had forgotten all the things I loved about the book (which I included on my goodreads review). In my defense, I had been sucked into other books earlier that week, and didn't make time to re-read Timepiece. Not unlike a student who shows up to class without having done the reading, I grasped at the things I did remember, and went into critique mode.

My first issue
I think Kaleb & Emerson's voices are too similar. It was almost impossible to tell the difference between them as narrators, which is problematic for me as an ADHD reader; I prefer not having to backtrack to figure out who said what. Too distracting. Maybe I’m a writing snob, but I think characters should have unique voices—literally unique. 

My bigger issue
Granted, I may have been feeling the aftereffects of my own pontification, but I left our book club discussion feeling vaguely unsatisfied. On the drive home, I realized that the problem I experienced with Timepiece was one of world-building (or the lack thereof). When a novel is set in a world that resembles the readers’, s/he doesn’t have to do much world-building, because the readers already know what they need to know in order to sink into the story. On the other hand, when an author invites readers to a world that differs dramatically from our own, s/he has a responsibility to orient us to the time and space in which the novel takes place.

Timepiece is set in the contemporary US—which I don’t need explained—but includes science-time travel-factoids which remain under-developed and/or unexplained. I know at least one reader with a strong science background who did not struggle to figure out the ins-and-outs of time travel as depicted in Timepiece. I am not that (kind of) reader. I am the kind of reader who skips parts of novels that make me squint in confusion. Unfortunately, I squinted at, and then skipped, whole chunks of Timepiece.

Don't get me wrong: I love reading books about things I don’t already know. I just need some scaffolding along the way. For example, I recently discovered the genre of urban fantasy, and am in love. What I like most about UF is when authors successfully integrate magical / paranormal elements, characters, and/or events into worlds I recognize (e.g. the London of Midnight Riot or the New York depicted in Hard Magic--neither of which is a YA book). I am perfectly content to suspend disbelief as long as the author provides enough details to render the paranormal plausible. Without sufficient world-building, Timepiece is a novel about young love masquerading as something else, which left me longing for less paranormal and more romance.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ode to French Fries

hot goodness
in your mouth
like French vanilla ice cream on a hot

accentuates the crispy
golden flavor
and highlights
the potatoey
kept for safe keeping.

honey mustard,
and other dipping sauces
and mask
the delightful

or thinly sliced
French fries
in onion
soup mix
hit a most satisfying

Even Ember
cannot resist
the power
and goodness
of the French fry.
French fries by their heavenly
she sits
for her doggie treat.

If I am feeling
or blue,
their crispy,
greasy goodness
brings sunshine
to the darkness
and makes me feel

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dante’s Inferno with a Modern Twist: Petronella & the Trogot by Cheryl Bentley

Just the Facts:

Overall Rating:  3 ½ Stars
Addiction Level:  I read it when I had a chance, but it was a quick read.
Believe-ability:  It was believable.
Favorite Quote:  “But only good folk like you, Pe…tro…ne…lla, can be happy because their souls be beautiful.  Folks with ugly souls liveth a life of misery.  If ye soul be ugly ye cannot be happy.”  -The Hooded Horseman, Part 2 Click to Tweet


Firstly I would like to thank NetGalley, Cheryl Bentley, and Sparkling Books for the opportunity to preview Petronella & the Trogot.   
Petronella & the Trogot is introduced as a supernatural chiller.  People who lived almost 1200 years ago, members of the Strincas civilization, start appearing and living in modern day Fort Willow.  Needless to say the Strincas resurrection scares (off) many modern day citizens.  If that were not enough, Bentley adds a hooded horseman (think Legend of Sleepy Hollow) and a black, evil monster tree in Petronella’s back yard. 
In Part 1 one you get to know Petronella-our protagonist, modern day Fort Willow inhabitants, the Strincas, and the evil Lord Fortesque.  In Part 2 Petronella and Percy, a Strinca, investigate the tree and find themselves on a journey.  Their journey is similar to Dante’s Inferno with a modern twist.
The beginning was confusing.  I had a difficult time following the story, as the narrator kept switching characters’ stories.  I was not sure whose story was most important:  Petronella’s, Maalox’s (her cat), or the Strincas’.  The black tree was mentioned several times, and I kept aching for more input.  Who/What is this thing?  Why does it appear to move?  What is it called?
As soon as I reached Part 2, it all came together.  Petronella and Percy go on a journey through hell.  Like Dante’s Inferno this hell has appropriate consequences for misdeeds done on earth.  For example, people who were gluttonous spend their afterlives on all fours gulping mud.  There is no enjoyment, just swallowing.  Bleck!
Let me put my teacher hat on for a minute…I think this novel would be a good companion to students reading Dante’s Inferno.  As much as I enjoy the Inferno, a lot time must be spent on background information.  Who are all these people in Dante’s hell?  What did they do?  Why did he punish this in this particular way?  In Petronella & the Trogot, you know who all the offenders are.  I enjoyed reading the novel first.  Now it is time to reread and note the particulars.
Petronella & the Trogot will be published on October, 1, 2012.  The paperback price is $14.95 USD/£9.99 GBP; the eBook edition is $6.99 USD/£4.99 GBP.  Thanks again to Cheryl Bentley and Sparkling Books for the opportunity to preview before publication.