Monday, 27 January 2014

Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey

Mable and Jack are an aging couple who need a fresh start, a complete change to everything they know. Their decision takes them to the Alaskan wilderness. Unprepared for what they will face the struggle to survive. They toil over the land, unsure if they will even have enough food to get through the harsh winter ahead. The unfriendly landscape is not their only worry. They have inner demons that threaten to tear them apart. Neither of them can move on from the loss of their stillborn child, thought it manifests differently for them. It is something that they cannot talk about but eats away at them both.

One day the snow falls and in a childlike innocence they create a child made of snow. The next day he snow child is gone, in its place is a real child that appears to them in snatched glances and footprints.

This book is a strange one and I still can’t make my mind up as to whether I like it or not. It's very well written, giving you a vivid picture of the wilderness. You can almost hear the howling wind; feel the cold creeping into your veins. The whole book is written in this style. Even when you should be celebrating with them, there is something that holds you back, knowing that the darkness is everywhere.

The child is written in a way that keeps her at a distance, having you wonder at times if she was really built from the snow. You are given proof that she is real, that she had a family yet you still think has she? Has she set up this scene just for Jack? No one else sees her; there are no footprints, no signs.

The book is character driven, the plot revolving around the development of them, and nothing else. It shows the emotional change for Jack and Mable, you can see what a difference the child makes in their lives. At times I wanted and in fact did skip read a little, not as engaged as I should be, but then it would sneak up on me and I would find tears welling in my eyes.

I think I stayed with it because of the wonderful writing and fantastic relationships between the characters though nearing the end I simply wanted it over.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Road Rash - Bonnie Benard

Wayne Wright is dead, head removed from his shoulders, what a way to go. We meet Wayne as he travels through the light to the next plain, which of course will not run smooth.

As a short story I really didn’t know what to expect from this book. It questions different belief’s, incorporates some and laughs at others, all in a very easy going manner. We see everything fresh from his eyes, everything confusing, unanswered.

I like the concept of this story, how the transition to the hereafter is strange and complicated. I have to say that I found it hard to read. After the characters favourite line of ‘are you s**ting me’ was mentioned for the tenth time in as many lines, I wanted to put it away. It’s purely a personal gripe for me, I don’t mind swearing, but if it doesn’t feel natural I find it hard to get into the story.

The idea of separating mind, body and soul was an interesting one and the tests they had to complete. All I can say is I hope they don’t test me like that; I can see the lightning bolt already. When you read short stories you only get a snap shot of the characters, so it is hard to develop them. There is a good effort made here to change Wayne as he goes through his trial. The pace is good, moving us along nicely. The writing didn’t quite flow but again that may have something to do with trying to complete the story in so few words.

It’s always interesting to read a new take on the afterlife and this is new and usual.

Friday, 10 January 2014

A New Year Already??

I hope everyone had a fun, safe Christmas and New Year. It was a little strange for me this year. The boys are growing up fast and the idea of all of us being in the same room for more than 30 minutes seems to send terror into their very core. Bizarre I know, who wouldn't want to listen to me wittering on about books and films?

With the New Year comes resolutions. I'm not really one for resolutions, I think it's just in me to fight against rules, even if I set them myself. You need to set goals in life, that's for sure, but I always break resolutions within days. I have told myself to get organised, needing to find time to write, to market my books, to complete my day job and look after the family. The house can look after itself ... can't it?

So no resolutions, but I need to widen my audience. There are a few kind souls who have read and enjoyed my books, though I am not hitting my target, not getting out into the world. What I should say is that it is out there but nobody knows it exists.

I sat in on a great workshop by Sara Sheridan who mentioned she met with her agent about every 6 weeks to compare marketing opportunities and what they had achieved. If the author only had one or two rejections it was decided that she hadn't been doing her job. Obviously I may not be the best person to give advice on this as I can't keep on top of this but I can tell you what I have learnt through my journey.

You may already have your on-line presence, the author facebook page, twitter, goodreads and blog, just to name a few. A street team may be sending out information for you just as you read this post, but it seems to be about finding that fine line between promoting and pestering.

Don't just go out and scream at the top of your lungs, buy, buy, buy. Get involved in the community, not only the writing one, though most authors are only too happy to help. I am talking about reading groups, general forums on other people's work.

What took me some time to get to, was the real world presence. I have since gone into a few schools, after all my series is young adult, talked about books in general and recently given workshops of my own, in a hope of finding the children out there who will enjoy reading my books and to be honest any book. If they're reading, I am happy.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Citizens - L.M Smith

Jasmine Marshall is a loner, she had no family, lives on her ranch and the only interaction she has with the outside world is her on line one, where she can be something she’s not. She likes it that way. Things are about to change. One night she is attacked in her home only to wake up in a strange hotel. The place is deserted except for four other people, all in the same boat as her.

Why have they been taken, what could be achieved in keeping them in constant fear?

Reading the first few chapters I wasn’t sure about this book. I had seen the story too many times. Back to The Prisoner and more recently a T.V series where a woman wakes in a hotel, in a small town with a group of others with no reason as to why they are there. It follows a very similar line to the T.V series, that is until I got 60% through. Now that was a twist I never expected and I loved where it led. Together with the consequences that would reverberate around the world.

The writing is good, the plot moving it along nicely. It would have been nice to get a more rounded picture of the kidnapped group but I suppose that was the point. The idea of not really trusting all of them, to keep you on your toes. This was a nice easy read, nothing too taxing and something you can enjoy over a day or two. It will be interesting to see where they go next after the final revelation and I will be reading the next instalment.