In Which Reader Me Sighs in Double Disappointment

You ever hear about a book and think, “Ooh, boy! Want, want, want! I’ll totally love it!” and then buy/read it and…well, it just didn’t do it for you? Yeah. I’ve been there. Twice lately.

Damselfly

Book the First: “Damselfly” by Jennie Bates Bozic.

Genre: YA Dystopian

Blurb: In 2065, the Lilliput Project created Lina – the first six-inch-tall winged girl – as the solution to a worldwide energy and food crisis. Isolated in a compound amidst the forests of Denmark, Lina has grown up aware of only one purpose: learn how to survive in a world filled with hawks, bumblebees, and loneliness. However, on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, she discovers that she’s not the only teenager her size. Six ‘Toms’ were created shortly after Lina, and now her creators need to prove to the world that tiny people are the next logical step in human evolution. In other words, they need to prove that reproduction is possible.

Um. No thanks. Lina’s already fallen in love with a boy she met online named Jack. Only he has no idea that thumbelina1847 could literally fit inside his heart.

When her creators threaten to hurt Jack unless she chooses a husband from among the ‘Toms’, Lina agrees to star in a reality TV series. Once the episodes begin to air, the secret of her size is out. Cut off from any contact with the outside world, Lina assumes Jack is no longer interested. After all, what guy would want to date a girl he can’t even kiss?

Slowly, very slowly, she befriends the six young men who see her as their only ticket to happiness. Perhaps she can make just one guy’s dream of love and companionship come true. But her creators have a few more twists in store for her that she never thought possible.

She’s not the only one playing to the cameras.

My Thoughts: With the premise of a tiny winged girl and a romantic reality show, I went in expecting something a little more like a lighthearted fairytale. Instead, the novel was more a tangled web of cover-ups, manipulation, and both the main character’s and my inability to be sure of what was going on and who to trust. Outside my preferences as it was, I can’t judge whether it was poorly done, but it certainly wasn’t pulled off in such a way that could overcome my inclination toward anxiety and disengagement when presented with that kind of plot.

What frustrated me most about the situation, I think, is that it felt like very little of what Lina did mattered; whether she cooperated or rebelled, powers outside of her held too much control for her decisions to make much of an impact. And while, for these reasons, I did sympathize with Lina, her voice didn’t particularly grab me and induce me to feel any special affection for her as a character.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): All told, it wasn’t the reading experience I’d hoped for. I expect, though, that it is largely a matter of personal taste, and other readers may enjoy it more.

Camelot Burning

Book the Second: “Camelot Burning (Metal & Lace #1)” by Kathryn Rose.

Genre: YA Steampunk Fantasy

Blurb: By day, Vivienne is Guinevere’s lady-in-waiting. By night, she’s Merlin’s secret apprentice, indulging in the new mechanical arts and science of alchemy. It’s a preferred distraction from Camelot’s gossipy nobility, roguish knights, and Lancelot’s athletic new squire, Marcus, who will follow in all knights’ footsteps by taking a rather inconvenient vow of chastity.

More than anything, Vivienne longs to escape Camelot for a future that wouldn’t include needlework or marriage to a boorish lord or dandy. But when King Arthur’s sorceress sister, Morgan le Fay, threatens Camelot, Vivienne must stay to help Merlin build a steam-powered weapon to defeat the dark magic machine Morgan will set upon the castle. Because if Camelot falls, Morgan would be that much closer to finding the elusive Holy Grail. Time is running out and Morgan draws near, and if Vivienne doesn’t have Merlin’s weapon ready soon, lives would pay the price, including that of Marcus, the only one fast enough to activate it on the battlefield.

My Thoughts: I really wanted to like this one, guys, but we just didn’t click.

As if often the case in the steampunk genre, the story relied heavily on creative visuals – goggles and corsets and gizmos like animatronic creatures and gun-sword hybrids. For those whose minds can easily envision such things, I expect it would have been a richer experience (despite the fact that, apart from the shiny trimmings and trappings, very little about this Camelot got described at all). Alas for me, visualization, particularly of unfamiliar concepts, is not my strong suit, leaving me to go through the story half-blind. And without the aesthetic to charm me, that story unfortunately fell flat.

I didn’t connect with the characters and their voices; didn’t feel I really got to know them as I’d like. Perhaps with my allergy to anything veering toward the technological, the mechanically-minded Vivienne was ill-suited to narrate the tale in the way that would best speak to me; I had a hard time following her stream of thought, and was generally confused to the point of boredom. I wonder if the story wouldn’t have been better told in 3rd person rather than 1st.

(Skimming the reviews on Goodreads marked with 2 or 3 stars – many of which, I note, also begin with various versions of “I really wanted to like this one, guys” – will further elaborate on a lot of problems I had with the storytelling. I am somewhat comforted to know it wasn’t all just me.)

All told, then, while I can’t help but be intrigued by the idea of a steampunk Arthurian tale, “Camelot Burning” and I weren’t a good match.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): I’d like nothing better than for someone else to read this and love it the way I’d hoped I would. If you think that someone could be you, give it a go.

Have any of you read either of these books and felt differently? Or perhaps you’ve had an experience similar to mine with another book lately? The comment section is open; do share.

And tell you what, friends: If you haven’t yet read these books but think you’d like to give them a try for free, tell me which one you want, and I’ll select one or two of you (depending on what kind of response I get) to win the copies I don’t feel the need to hang onto. You’ve got ‘til Saturday, September 6th. Battle it out!

“Perry Road” … or an Excerpt From It, Anyway!

You saw the cover reveal for it right here. …or maybe you saw it elsewhere. Or not at all.  I don’t really know what all you have or haven’t seen. Here, let’s make this easy on everyone.

* Begin Flashback *

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In 2132, “We the people …” means nothing, and it hasn’t for a hundred years.

Like all the citizens of the American Union, eighteen-year-old Erianna Keating is not to ask questions. She is not to believe anything except what the A.U. tells her. More importantly, she’s not supposed to know what she doesn’t know, nor that she’s a pawn.

Like everyone else, though, she is, and like everyone else, she is a hundred percent oblivious to what’s going on.

Or is she? Are they?

Erianna thinks going to Perry Road and joining the national registration program is her next step toward adulthood; the 2132 candidates for adult-classification, though, are in for a big surprise. Especially Erianna.

Thanks to Zane Warren, an awkward but hot guy who won’t shut up about a history that doesn’t—or shouldn’t—matter anymore, Erianna will know. Will learn. That includes finding out what actually happens after registration and doing something, anything, about it.

Fixing what went wrong, what caused the U.S.A. to split into two countries, though, is not on Erianna’s bucket list, but as she faces her future, she must decide whether to fall in line with the American Union’s plan for her, or to consider that Zane might not be wrong, and the time for revolution begins now.

* End Flashback *

Ringing any bells? Yes, no, maybe so? Regardless, if you’re looking now, I’ve got more to show you of author Emi Gayle’s newest novel, “Perry Road”, which released on September 3rd!

To start with, here are some great things early readers had to say about the book:

* Begin Montage of Disembodied Voices Singing Praises *

“This one, by far, is Emi’s best. Of anything she’s written.”
Julie Reece, author, Crux

“I really hope [this] stirs up controversy and changes some youngsters thinking. God knows we could use that today in this society!”
Terri Rochenski, author, Eye of the Soul

“… this was a total pleasure to read.”
Kelly Said, author, Tidal Whispers & Make Believe

“… [this] will inspire an extreme diversity of opinion. It kept me involved and interested throughout, and I love novels that make me question my current understanding/viewpoint on life.”
Amaleen Ison, author, Remember Me

* End Disembodied, Praise-Singing Vocal Montage *

Enticed yet? ^^ How about if I show you that excerpt this blog title promised you?

* Begin Reading Sample *

“Well?” Cam asks.

For some reason, I don’t want her to know. I want to find out by myself if I’m going to get a real life, or if I’m destined to wear hand-me-downs from twenty years ago until I’m ninety. I want to prepare, to plan, to cry if we don’t get to go together, or if I’m not like her.

I’m not, of course—in any way like her. Who am I kidding?

After what seems like hours, but is only seconds, I say, “Nothing.”

“Damn.” She throws her arms up in the air. “Figures. And it’s almost five. So, you know, I gotta go. Mom’s sure I’m going to be chosen to pop out babies, like she is, so she wants to make sure I know how to cook before the fake chefs get ahold of me to ‘teach’ me.” Cam gives me a dramatic eye roll and places a hand to her forehead. “Like, oh, my Oz, Eri, you know? We have people to cook for us for a reason. Duh! If I learn to cook, what job am I going to give someone like your mom, you know? And why would I get picked to be fat and ugly when I look like this?” She bats at her blonde curls.

Wanting to change the subject—to anything but the woes of Cam’s perfect life—I walk to her, give her a hug and a quick pat on the back. “I’ll … call you when I get it, ‘kay?”

“You better. We only have two days to shop for the perfect outfit. Why couldn’t your birthday be October twenty-ninth instead of December?” She snatches up her coat—preparation for the winter blast that will tear into uncovered skin. “And … you’re not a fluke. You will get in the white house, and when January first comes, we’ll be official!” She boogies her way out, hips wiggling. For someone who’s not happy about the prospect of becoming a baby factory, she’s awfully chipper.

I know it’s because she’s waiting to hear my fate. To prove I’m not a fluke. To validate my relevance as her friend—the one girl Cam can give backhanded compliments, and, for that matter, insults all day long, and still walk back in with a smile as if nothing happened.

Cam walks through the hallway and says goodbye to my mom who’s probably still working at her makeshift office in our miniature kitchen—trying, I assume, to avoid the whole days’ events. As much as Cam wants me to not be a fluke, my mom wants me to be one. If I’m like her, nothing will change. Like Cam, I’ll be the same old Erianna, just one day older and as useless as all the other flukes in the world.

The front door opens and closes, and I move to the window. Once Cam disappears from view, and only then, I turn over my P-Comm and touch the one message that sits inside.

The one that says: “Invitation for Erianna Price Keating.”

* End Reading Sample *

You like? Good news: You can own the e-book now for just $2.99! (Available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. Amazon offers a paperback, too!) And meanwhile, as with many a jolly book tour, there’s free stuff to be had. Get in on the Rafflecopter giveaway before October 10th!

“Perry Road” … or the Cover Reveal For It, Anyway!

Just a quick post today to do my little part to plaster the internet with the cover for Emi Gayle’s upcoming YA novel, “Perry Road”, book one of the Revolution trilogy!

About the author (for those who never knew, or need a refresher):

Emi Gayle just wants to be young again. She lives vicariously through her youthful characters, while simultaneously acting as chief-Mom to her teenaged son and searching for a way to keep her two daughters from ever reaching the dreaded teen years.

Ironically, those years were some of Emi’s favorite times. She met the man of her dreams at 14, was engaged to him at 19, married him at 20 and she’s still in love with him to this day. She’ll never forget what it was like to fall in love at such a young age — emotions she wants everyone to feel.

* * * * *

And now, the main event: The cover of “Perry Road”!

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About the book:

In 2132, “We the people …” means nothing, and it hasn’t for a hundred years.

Like all the citizens of the American Union, eighteen-year-old Erianna Keating is not to ask questions. She is not to believe anything except what the A.U. tells her. More importantly, she’s not supposed to know what she doesn’t know, nor that she’s a pawn.

Like everyone else, though, she is, and like everyone else, she is a hundred percent oblivious to what’s going on.

Or is she? Are they?

Erianna thinks going to Perry Road and joining the national registration program is her next step toward adulthood; the 2132 candidates for adult-classification, though, are in for a big surprise. Especially Erianna.

Thanks to Zane Warren, an awkward but hot guy who won’t shut up about a history that doesn’t—or shouldn’t—matter anymore, Erianna will know. Will learn. That includes finding out what actually happens after registration and doing something, anything, about it.

Fixing what went wrong, what caused the U.S.A. to split into two countries, though, is not on Erianna’s bucket list, but as she faces her future, she must decide whether to fall in line with the American Union’s plan for her, or to consider that Zane might not be wrong, and the time for revolution begins now.

* * * * *

Quite the little something to think about on Independence Day, eh, my fellow Americans? Have a happy 4th of July! Keep your eye out for tyranny, and for Emi Gayle’s “Perry Road”, due to release in September!