A review by fellow author Tony Talbot, of Every Day by David Levithan. It sounds like an interesting read and certainly the ideas Tony picks up on the lack of gender and how you bring something to the reading of the book just in being yourself is intriguing. Definitely one for the 2016 TBR pile…
“A” wakes up each morning in a new body. “A” has done this every day for the whole of their existence, and doesn’t question it any more than we question waking up in the same body every day. Then “A” meets Rhiannon and wants to have a ‘normal’ life.
This is a difficult book to review. Not because of the content or writing. It’s a lot simpler than that, and a lot harder: “A” is without a pronoun. They are completely non-corporeal – without a permanent body. “A” is neither he nor she, and I’m going to be forced to call them It, to give them the overtones of a non-person. It feels like the wrong approach, because “A” is such a strong character, labelling them as It feels…rude. Derogatory.
“A” has a unique narrative voice, one I have never come across, or even contemplated…
Re-blogging my author friend Tony Talbot today – with a great post from him on show-not-tell in dialogue. He does some really good writing technique posts, like this, which you can find on the author blog we share at http://www.asidefromwriting.com or his own author blog: http://www.tony-talbot.co.uk/ – check him out and follow, if you’d like to see more of the same 🙂
One of the things they always tell writers to do is show and not tell. “Don’t Tell Me the Moon Is Shining; Show Me the Glint of Light on Broken Glass” to paraphrase playwright Anton Chekov. Chekov was talking about describing the world, but here’s another way you can use that show-not-tell: to describe your characters using only their dialogue and body language.
It’s certainly one of my favourite ways of doing it. Here are some snips from my own Eight Mile Island:
Mum comes out onto the deck from the cabin behind me and weaves along it towards me. …
I ignore her for a minute, pretending not to hear my name until she says it louder. I turn from the waves and face her. “What?”
“You’ve got to come inside. You’ll be washed away.”
I added ‘Unwind’ to my Kindle TBR list, based on Tony’s review of it. So far, I’ve not gotten around to reading it, but his review of the second book in the series, published on Aside from Writing blog today, tells me that I should move it to the top of my list.
In a world where unwinding – the dissolution of teenagers for organ replacement – is legal, a group of very different teenagers struggle to survive in any way they can.
This is a sequel to the outstanding Unwind – one of the few books I’ve given 5/5 to, I believe. Neal Shusterman is one of the best writers I’ve ever come across – YA or otherwise. His world is totally believable, his characters are full and complex. There’s nothing flat here in dialogue or pacing; not a sentence is wasted. His writing is flawless.
His heroes and villains are both beautifully realised. Nothing is black and white; the heroes make hard choices, they make realistic choices as to what actions they can take. So do the villains. Everyone thinks their actions are right and the moral choices they make feel right to them. As readers, we empathise with them…
Well, I finally got the time to knuckle down to some reading for fun in the last few weeks and it has started really well: I just finished Tony Talbot’s great new book Medusa. This is the second book of Tony’s I’ve read and I was not disappointed.
We meet Lissa Two – captain of a strange ship with some interesting technical skills – in an apparently post-apocalyptic world of water. Giant ‘seasteads’ form the main areas of civilisation and Lissa uses her ship – Connie – and the particular powers she has, to salvage items for sale in the underground souks in her own seastead home. A random meeting with a man thrown from a strange flying machine; the mysterious disappearance of an apparently strong seastead and Lissa’s own questions about Connie provide the ingredients for a fast-paced, cocktail of adventure.
I really like Tony’s writing style, he has a real way with words (helpful if you’re a writer, I know!) But what I mean, what really stands out in this book for me, was his ability to create a world you felt completely transported to: there is beautiful description throughout the book, whilst he walks his characters through the fast-paced plot, leaving you the feeling that you could reach out and touch the world Lissa inhabits. Now and again, I would find myself noticing something, not because it jarred, but because it just flowed so naturally. Unfortunately, some of the best examples I highlighted would need spoilers to explain – so I’d say you have to check it to know what I mean.
Medusa is one of those books you get sucked into quickly and struggle to find a place to pause, when reading – you just want to know ‘what next’ the whole time. Especially once Lissa’s questions start taking her down interesting paths, it gets even harder to stop: I read the second half of the book in one day. And it was worth it! 🙂
Overall, I’m going 4.5* for Medusa, I thought the characters, pace and writing in the book was even better than Eight Mile Island, the main reason it gets the same rating is because I loved the way EMI sucker punched me in it’s concluding chapters. I didn’t get quite the same left-field shock as I did with that one, but overall, I would say I enjoyed Medusa more and if you’re thinking of trying one of Tony’s books, this is the one I’d recommend.
Recommended for: fans of dystopian YA / post-apocalyptic world settings; I think people who liked the relationships in Angelfall would enjoy this, as well as Hunger Games / Blood Red Road fans looking for something with a feisty female protagonist in an unusual setting.
Just sneaking a post in at the end of the day – this book challenge is like a second job at the moment 🙂
For this topic, I couldn’t pinpoint a single author, but what I really do wish is that more people would give indie authors a chance. I know that there are books out there from indies which haven’t been edited well or are several drafts off being publishable – but you get previews in e-readers now, which give you a pretty good taste of that person’s writing and the story to give you an idea whether it will be for you or not. I still use these previews with traditional authors, to see if I really want to read the book (sorry Fifty Shades I couldn’t even get through the free preview!)
In the last couple of years, since I became an indie author, I’ve been lucky enough to meet and read several great indie authors, writing in a range of fiction genres. Several of them will be appearing in the Indie Author Event we run in May on my other blog, Aside from Writing, today I thought I would tell you about some of my favourite ones so far:
Amy Martin’s In Your Dreams books are really well written, exciting stories about Zara ‘Zip’ McKee and her blossoming romance with the new boy in school who suffers from narcolepsy. Or is it…? Once the truth about his condition begins to come out, you get a whole other story instead. I’ve just read the second book in the series and need to write my review (maybe once this challenge has ended, if I still have fingers!)
Marie Landry is a lovely author and blogger from Canada, I’ve been lucky enough to feature with her a few times in the past and she’ll be appearing in Indie Month again with us this year. Her romantic tales have been really good, my favourite being Blue Sky Days about a young couple dealing with their relationship around the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Fancy something with a little action?
Tony Talbot’s Eight Mile Island is a fantastic action-mystery, which will have you questioning the narrator as well as your perception of reality in the book. I’m just in the middle of reading Tony’s latest book, Medusa, a futuristic tale, set in a water-filled world – so far, it’s been great!
Jade Varden’s brilliant Deck of Lies series kept me hooked for eighteen months, waiting to find out what was coming next in this contemporary YA murder-mystery. It was as good as any traditionally published series I could pick up! Jade blogs on all things writing on her own blog – if you have an interest in writing you should certainly check out her Writing 101 section. Jade Varden – Blogspot
If you like your action with a little history Michael Cargill’s wartime short story in the Shades of Grey collection is good and I believe a full length follow up in a similar vein is due soon. Hazel B West’s books all have an historical setting, On A Foreign Field follows an English knight into William Wallace’s camp, giving a unique perspective on what might have been there. The research and detail of Hazel’s writing is as good as any historical fiction I’ve read. (My review for Aside from Writing is here).
These are just a few of the indie authors I’ve read, enjoyed and would heartily recommend. A quick glance through my Goodreads book list includes even more still, ranging from children’s books by Sara Zaske and Nicola Palmer, Lynda Meyer’s gritty Letters from the Ledge, Zombie with a brain from Stephen Herfst…vampires with human brothers in Patricia Lynne’s Being Human…Pride and Prejudice retold as US teens in Fall for You by Cecelia Gray.
The list just goes on and on, and I have enjoyed these indie books just as much as I do anything else I’ve come across from traditional publishers. I won’t deny there are indie books I’ve been sent to read that have not been a great standard, but I’ve just chosen not to read them, just like I’ve chosen not to read other books. All I would say is treat every book on it’s own merit – if you’ve never read an indie, find someone you like the look of, check out the free excerpt and if you like it, read it. If you don’t – move on to the next one, there’s lots to choose from 🙂
If you liked the look of Tony Talbot’s latest book Medusa when I posted the cover art earlier this week, head across to Amazon this w/end and grab yourself a copy of the Kindle edition absolutely free!
What are you waiting for? Click here for amazon.co.uk:
Today I’m excited to welcome my good book-friend, Tony Talbot, to my blog. Tony regularly blogs over on Aside from Writing and is lovely enough to talk writing stuff with me, whenever I’m banging my head against the laptop! 🙂
Tony’s latest book Medusa will be out soon, but you’re getting a sneak peek at the fantastic cover art and blurb today! I’m currently reading the ARC for this and will be reviewing soon, so look out for that – the book has been great so far.
Lissa Two is a thief of the ocean cities, struggling to make enough money to clear her debts and take care of her traumatised sister, scratching a meagre living as best she can.
So, she has enough worries without her life getting more complicated…but when a boy named Hattan literally falls from the sky, she can’t just let him drown.
It’s a decision she comes to regret, a decision that will change not only her life, but the lives of everyone she loves.
If they survive…
Here’s some more on the man himself…
Tony Talbot was born in Leicester in the 1970s (“The decade that fashion forgot,” as he says). He’s survived Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, deely-boppers and learning to ride a bicycle at the age of 30. He enjoys reading Neal Shusterman, John Marsden, Eoin Colfer, Charlie Higson, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Charles Dickens and cereal boxes. He graduated with a degree in computer science in 1998 and started writing in 2008 on a whim. He hasn’t stopped since. He lives in rural Leicestershire, UK, with an American wife he met online and a teenage cockatiel.