"He walked like a man recently returned to the world. Every step was careful, deliberate. Every step to be relished....
But nothing is as it seems.
For every step was a little too careful, a little too deliberate, as if he were unwilling to take even the ground beneath his feet for granted"
Friday, 25 February 2011
Friday, 18 February 2011
I have nothing but respect for the authors who continue to dare to write about social, political or psychological issues that would otherwise run the risk of languishing in a harrowing, inaccessible BBC documentary and continue to use their talents to make a difference.
On that note, I introduce Laura Kreitzer with, as I said, nothing but humble respect:
My name is Laura Kreitzer, and I’m the author of the Timeless Series and the Summer Chronicles. This week I would like to alert everyone on a colossal crisis that’s gone unnoticed in the world: human trafficking. That’s why I’ve asked hundreds of blogs to be involved with spreading the word on this issue that’s become close to my heart.
As an author, and someone whose life is put in the spotlight, I keep most people at a distance. Only a handful of my friends know the whole me and the events from my past. But this week I’d like to share with you a part of myself that the outside world doesn’t see (and a part of me I don’t like to share). I was emotionally abused for five years by someone I thought loved me, my mind beaten into submission. Though the turmoil I went through doesn’t penetrate as deep as someone forced into slavery on the worldwide market for human trafficking, I can sadly relate in some ways: imprisoned, my life dictated down to what I wore, ate, where I went, whom I spoke to, where I worked, when I slept, bending to his every whim. He did not sway, even when I cried through some of the more traumatic things he had me do. I was a slave in my own home. In my desperation for freedom, I held out a gun and asked him to just end my suffering. I was desperate.
I can’t even imagine how many women (and men) in the world are in a similar situation. What’s even worse, I had it mild compared to the children that are sold for labor or sex. Surprisingly, the good ol’ U.S.A. is reported to be the host to two million slaves. Did you know this? Because I certainly did not; not until I was preparing to write my newest novel: Phantom Universe. The main character, Summer Waverly, was stolen as a child and sold as a slave to the captain of a modern-day pirate ship. From a loved child who only knew “time-out” as punishment, to being whipped into silence was something I knew nothing about. So I researched deeply into human trafficking and the psychological effects of torture of various types that one would endure in these circumstances. I felt shaken at my findings and knew I had to tell Summer’s story. (Read a sneak peek here.)
A storm began to brew in my mind; transforming, morphing, twisting, and expanding into this massive, black cloud. I had to bring this tragic atrocity to the forefront. My own emotional experiences, mixed with the research I did on human trafficking, made me feel an intense connection with Summer, and to all women who’ve been through this kind of brutality. The cloud ruptured and rained all over my computer one day. It took one month to write Phantom Universe, the first in the Summer Chronicles. I was so consumed by the story that I wrote nearly nonstop, only breaking for necessary tasks like eating, showering, and occasionally—very occasionally—sleeping.
Though the book I’ve written would be classified as Science Fiction, or as I’d like to call it, Dystopian, the emotions and psychological aspects are not Science Fiction—they're real. Reviewers have said many amazing things about Summer, this character who is so real in my mind and who I cried along with as the words poured from my soul onto my screen.
“I admired Summer's strength and ability to adapt,” says CiCi’s Theories. “I felt tied to her emotions,” Jennifer Murgia, author or Angel Star admits. And Tahlia Newland, author of Lethal Inheritance, remarks, “Summer is strong and smart in mind [. . .]”
Through her overwhelmingly horrendous past, Summer goes on more than just a physical journey in Phantom Universe, she goes on a psychological one as well; growing beyond her mute state to persevere and survive in a new world beyond the whip she’s so frightened of.
Now that the release date is here, I’m excited and terrified to share this story with everyone. I’m emotionally tied in every way to the words I’ve written, because they’re more than words. More than just a story on a page. Beyond the fictional aspects, there’s a real issue that needs to be addressed: human trafficking must be stopped. We shouldn’t sit idly by while this continues to plague us. Our world’s children—our nation’s children—are being affected. It’s time we take action!
Earlier this month Phantom Universe hit Barnes and Noble’s top 100 Best Selling list. I’ve decided to donate 10% of my sales from Phantom Universe, until the end of February, to the DNA Foundation.
“DNA hopes to help abolish modern day slavery, deter perpetrators, and free the many innocent and exploited victims. We are committed to forcing sex slavery out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
Freedom is a basic human right and slavery is one of the greatest threats to that freedom. No one has the right to enslave another person.”
—From DNA Foundation’s Website
I ask that you spread the word to everyone you know. Look around on the DNA Foundation website and find a way to get involved in ending human trafficking. Take action today. Everyone has a voice—you have a voice. Will you have the courage to use it?
Laura's book is out now and available on Barnes and Noble as an eBook here - thank you so much to Laura for that moving guest post.
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
When Langdon's beloved mentor, Peter Solomon--a prominent Mason and philanthropist--is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly plunged into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-before-seen locations--all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.
Tuesday, 8 February 2011
As one of the last surviving Mistweavers, half-blood Jenni knows what it’s like to be caught between two worlds: the faery and the human. But the time has come to choose. The Lightfolk require her unique talent for balancing the elements to fend off a dangerous enemy—and rescue her missing brother.
Only for Rothly will Jenni deal with those who destroyed her life. Only for him will she agree to work with her ex-lover, Tage, and revisit the darkest corners of her soul. For a reckoning is at hand, and she alone has the power to hold back the forces of dark....
As is somewhat obvious, I finished this book a couple of weeks ago but haven't had the chance to write a review I've liked yet. I wrote one that waffled...deleted it in a strop...regretted it when things went crazy at work and I had no time to re-draft...and here we are! I came away from this book feeling rather positive and remember it as being a fair read but in response to the acid test of "Who would I recommend it to?" that often helps me gauge my reaction, I drew a blank. So a mixed one really...
One thing I really liked about this book was the use of elements; the idea that everything is made up of a certain balance of fire, water, earth and air and certain beings are more in tune with certain elements. There was a touch of New Age philosophy about it but it was integrated into the story well and was a nice slant on magic. The imagery is bold and fills the story with colour that matches the nature theme perfectly.
The idea for the plot is quite good but, for me, it ended up feeling a bit repetitive. I'm inclined to think that's largely as a result of the characters - I never thought I'd be annoyed by somebody whose entire family has been killed but Jenni and Rothly both manage to be somewhat...irritating. Jenni has mourning guilt while Rothly has vengeful anger. I sympathised, sure, but was also wishing they'd at least try to move forward. It does get better but in a 'chick flick' fashion rather than in a gritty, emotional way.
And a couple of last thoughts: the tone of this book is hard to pinpoint - at times, I felt like I was reading a YA/children's book (brownie housekeepers and travelling through trees etc...) but then at others, there were some characters getting their raunch on. Makes it a difficult one to recommend to any specific point on the age spectrum, all in all.
Finally, there are, you will be pleased to know, some 'bad guys' to provide mild peril and thwarting opportunities (although for some reason they smell like "old bubble gum" - whoever would have guessed?). Again linking to the above-mentioned tone, these bad guys do have a taste for some pretty grim violence involving some spillage of blood - if you're of a very queasy disposition or are thinking of passing this to young kids, probably something that you'll want to bear in mind!
Overall: This was a sweet story with some cutesy magic going for it - I wouldn't necessarily be rushing out to grab other books by this author but I enjoyed this one and didn't have a problem finishing it. It's bright and colourful and made me wish for summer (possibly the beach scenes...) so it's a nice one to cheer up a dim day.
Monday, 7 February 2011
This week's Weekly Geeks theme is Blurry Book Disorder, neatly described there as:
When one can no longer keep the characters and storylines straight. Often brought on by reading multiple books from the same genre in a short period of time.
The task is to plot a plan of attack so as to avoid this terrible affliction!
As it happens, this isn't something that really happens to me, predominantly because I don't tend to read that fast. When I'm only getting through one or two books a week, the scope for blurring them together is more limited...however, I can sympathise in that when I've read a series of books (even if it's just a trilogy), I'll remember it as one long story and the lines where one book becomes the next gets a bit muddled. Fine when it's just me, less fine when I'm trying to talk to somebody about, say, the first book and I'm desperately trying to avoid second book spoilers....
There seems to be but one solution: stop reading series of books all in one go!!
At the moment, I'm a terrible chain-reader and very rarely read anything in between each book in a series. Maybe I should stop that and try, at least once (!), to break them up a bit. That would no doubt be helped if I stopped buying the series all at once. I don't even know why I do it sometimes...
So anyway, the next time I start a series, I'll read a book in between each part! Hopefully.....
Wednesday, 2 February 2011
What has so far passed of this year has seen me trying to be more organised with how I read - that doesn't necessarily extend to what I choose to read (because that usually involves me gauging my mood and grabbing...) but to the records I keep of what I read. Also, I joined a couple of challenges for this year so thought it would be a handy idea to keep a log of whether I'm doing ok or not...
First up, some numbers!
All of these four books were written by female authors and only one was a book that could be considered a 'classic' - poor show! The specimens were:
Men v. Women: I again realised recently that I manage to read way more fiction penned by women than I do by men. I'm kind of trying to rectify that in the interests of diversity but I hadn't noticed before and I'm enjoying what I do read so it isn't a huge concern to me. Plus, I'm currently reading a book by a man so it's a start...
The TBR Dare: To only read books bought pre-January 2011 until Spring - so far I've stuck to it and haven't bought any books or downloaded any library eBooks so far this year. This is TOUGH!! But I feel very virtuous and sensible for reading things I own so it's ok :)
The TBR Pile challenge: Kind of similar in aim to the TBR Dare, this is another challenge that forces me to look at my shelves and call of those who have been sitting there too long. This month I read one of my twelve nominated books, Rebecca, and really enjoyed - showing just how much I'm probably missing by overlooking the books that have been in my collection the longest!
I hope you all had a fabulous start to the year!!