Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hunter's Run

Here is a great story I read lately.

Published Jan 2008, HarperCollins Publishers, 320 pp.

Running from poverty and hopelessness, Ramón Espejo boarded one of the great starships of the mysterious, repulsive Enye. But the new life he found on the far-off planet of São Paulo was no better than the one he abandoned. Then one night his rage and too much alcohol get the better of him. Deadly violence ensues, forcing Ramón to flee into the wilderness.

Mercifully, almost happily alone—far from the loud, bustling hive of humanity that he detests with sociopathic fervor—the luckless prospector is finally free to search for the one rich strike that could make him wealthy. But what he stumbles upon instead is an advanced alien race in hiding: desperate fugitives, like him, on a world not their own. Suddenly in possession of a powerful, dangerous secret and caught up in an extraordinary manhunt on a hostile, unpredictable planet, Ramón must first escape . . . and then, somehow, survive.
And his deadliest enemy is himself.

I absolutely LOVED this book. The first few chapters are a little difficult because you have to adjust to an almost foreign thought process established by the entity Ramon stumbles upon while surveying for minerals in the outback.

This clever tale weaves together so many things of human existence - what would you do if you were cloned, how would you respond if you were the original life form, and you met your clone? There are a few areas of unnecessary redundancy, but those are easily overlooked without pitching you out of the flow of the story. There are a few items, like the chupacabra that is more reptilian than animal, it just takes a little tweaking of the imagination. You simple declare that this is reality for this story because the plot, action and dialogue carry you along so easily. The final bit leaves you open to a twist, and I'm not going to issue a spoiler. Trust me, if you like sci-fi and the element of self-examination, potential recreating your life, and a little games-manship - you are going to love this story. Plus, George R.R. Martin is a big part of the writing style!

I hope you check it out. Until then, Ta!

♥ ~ky

Friday, March 16, 2012

How to Make a Golem

Welcome to my blog! I am so happy to start sharing reviews with you. I will be reading a wide expanse of genres, and run the gamut from children's books to adult fiction. About the only things I won't read are erotic novels and chick-literature. I may even sneak the occasional non-fiction title in here and there. If you are a fan of chick-lit, check out my partners-in-crime, er reviews, linked on the right.

Don't you just LOVE that cover? The minute I saw this, I could NOT tear my eyes away. Even though it is a  YA read, I just had to know more. Bits of the cover art, by the way, appear inside, decorating each chapter.

How to Make a Golem and Terrify People
by: Alette J. Willis
Published by Floris Books, UK, 2011, ISBN 978-086315-840-7
Released in the USA January 2012
Young Adult, Gothic Literature, 240 pp. $9.95 US (Amazon)
Winner of the 2011 Kelpies Award
The Author
Alette J. Willis is new to the world of children's books, but an accomplished author of several adult short stories. She grew up in Canada, but recently moved back to her British homeland. She volunteers as a storyteller at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. Clearly, she strives to know the setting of her stories by spending time thoroughly researching the elements she uses in her tales. She is a teaching fellow and researcher at the University of Edinburgh.

The Setting
The neighborhood, school and hillside Willis uses in this story are as important to the story as the characters. She takes great care to immerse the reader in the sounds, smells, and textures of Edda's world. Willis draws on her experiences of living in Edinburgh, and her volunteer work at the Botanic Garden. The woods where much of the story is focused are sketched in enough detail to allow the reader's mind to construct a clear picture. I felt like I had climbed the stairs of the tower, walked the paths in the woods, and been shushed by the librarian at school.

The Story
This darling story chronicles the struggle of a young girl, Edda, facing her fears as she embarks on her journey making new friends and dealing with uncomfortable situations. She takes interest in a rather odd boy, Michael, who joins her school the day after her world was shattered by a robbery in her home. Michael promises Edda that they can bring a golem to life to watch over her home. Can they?

Bullying is a central theme in this story, but it is handled deftly by the author. She examines the surface effects of bullying, and delves deeper by showing how Edda cracks the bully's armor. Eventually, she even begins a tenuous relationship with her bully once she discovers he is living in an adverse home setting.

This story arrives at a time when our societies are struggling more openly with events and effects of bullying. I think Willis does a fine job of unfolding the fear and presenting options of diffusing such situations. She also puts the spotlight on the inevitable heartbreaks in childhood friendships.

Willis draws vivid details that connect you instantly with the characters. You immediately mistrust Michael Scot, and instantly connect with Edda Macdonald as she teeters on the edge of growing up. You really do dislike Euan, and almost grumble when he shows up in a scene. You suffer with Edda when a spat separates her from her best friend Lucy.

The title was the first thing that caught my attention. It might seem a little scary to young readers, but they needn't worry. The kids explore their fears, look to each other for encouragement, and find ways to learn that they really are stronger than they think. I think it would be suitable for most 10-year-old readers, and older. The kids in the story are age 13.

This book deals with a magical monster considered Gothic in nature without sinking into actual horror. It also acknowledges how talents, especially in children, can cause their own terror when exposed to a public eye. Two of the girls must execute their talents under stressful circumstances, and emerge much stronger. That is something that spills over into adult lives. I found myself feeling relieved and proud of their actions.

In this tender story, Willis' characters develop their independence, explore their fears, learn to trust one another, and solve relationship issues. She gives clear voice to the emotional rollercoaster of peer pressure, self-doubt and finding acceptance. Edda struggles to find her place of shelter amid life's storms. Throughout the book, she opens doors on subjects that will tempt the reader to learn more about the subjects once they are done reading.

So there you have it - my very first book review. I'm so glad you stopped by - feel free to leave questions or comments. Let me know if my reviews provide you with enough details, or if you have suggestions on how I can improve. Have a happy day!


Ky Sanders, author, artist, reader, explorer, bunny mom