Young Adult Book Review: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
I picked up Anna and the Swallow Man from my local library on audiobook when I was browsing for a new listen. The story is about Anna, a young girl orphaned during the second World War, and her subsequent journey through Poland. I loved this book. The audiobook was only five hours long, but excellently narrated. The touch of fantasy in the novel was just right, and all of the characters were well developed.
Books about the great wars can be depressing, this is heavy stuff, but it’s something I think is important to know about so that it never happens again. My heart ached for Anna through most of this book, but the narrative gave me cause to hope. The prose was lyrical, and the language delightful, I found it very easy to fall into this book and to keep listening.
There are a lot of series out there, especially in the young adult reading world. I’ve started reading a lot of series in the past couple years, a lot of which aren’t even finished being written yet (or maybe they are, and the publishers just haven’t released them yet!). Hurry up, publishers! Below is a list of the top 5 Young Adult Fantasy books I’m waiting for this year. Only one of these isn’t part of a series I’ve already begun reading, but is instead a new series by an author that I love.
1.The Savage Dawn (The Girl At Midnight #3), Melissa Grey, July 11th, 2017
I’ve loves this series since I first read The Girl at Midnight. Melissa Grey’s lively characters really bring this world alive for me. Especially Jasper, lovely funny Jasper. I also love the world building and the unique mythology in this trilogy. The Savage Dawn in the last book of the series. So if you’re the kind of person who likes to read a series all in one go, you’ll be able to do that come July 2017.
2. Throne of Glass 5.1 Chaol Novel, Sarah J. Maas, September 5th, 2017
If you’re a Throne of Glass fan, then you’ve probably already heard that book #6 has been bumped to a 2018 release date because Sarah J. Mass instead wrote a 100K novel regarding Chaol’s exploits, currently titled Throne of Glass 5.1. I’m acutally pretty pumped for this because Chaol is one of my favorite characters and he wasn’t in book 5 at all. Where did Chaol go? What is happening to Chaol? Maas has advised fans to read The Assasin’s Blade before TOG 5.1 is released, which I’m currently doing. I think I know how the novellas are going to fit into the Chaol novel. It’s going to be a good one!
3. Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2), Alwyn Hamilton, March 7th, 2017
I loved Rebel of the Sands when I read it in 2017. I loved the world and the characters and the mythical beasts. I can’t wait to discover what happens next in Alwyn Hamilton’s world, and it looks like I’ll be able to do this right away with the March 7th release date.
4.Strange the Dreamer, (Strange the Dreamer #1) Laini Taylor, March 28th, 2017
I still haven’t completed Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series (I’m almost done audiobook #2), and I have to say, I love these audiobooks! Daughter of Smoke and Bone actually won Best Fantasy Audiobook in 2011, which does not surprise me. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series is one of those that are classified as Young Adult, but I think that’s pretty iffy. Barely any of the characters are teens (I think most of them are like, 50-200 years old, and there is enough gore and violence to make me cringe). Anyway, Laini Taylor is such a great writer that I’m sure Strange the Dreamer will be just as fantastic as Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Also, a bonus fact, this book is scheduled to be released on my birthday! I think I might pick this one up in hardcover. Happy Birthday to me!
5. The Ship Beyond Time (The Girl From Everywhere #2), Heidi Heilig, February 28th, 2017
This entry is a bit different, as I haven’t even finished reading The Girl From Everywhere. You see, what happened is that I borrowed the book from my e-library and began reading it, but got really busy, and my loan expired before I got all that far into the book. This happens with a lot of books that I borrow to try. Most of the time I forget about those books, and never borrow them again. But I keep thinking about The Girl From Everywhere, and I keep wanting to know what happens. i need to know how this time traveling ship and these maps work. I need to know what happens to these characters! So I’ve waitlisted myself for this book again, and this time I’ll finish it. The sequel is out next week, so maybe I’ll even be able to read them back to back.
Mechanica (associate link) by Betsy Cornwell, is a Cinderella Story. Now, Cinderella is probably my second favorite fairy tale (after the Twelve Dancing Princesses), so I thought I would like this book. And I did like Mechanica, but I didn’t love it. But I did love the cover, which is why I picked up the book.
The first bit that slowed me down was the beginning. Right at the start the author gives us a couple of chapters of backstory about the main character Nicolette. Okay, this is a Cinderella story, I don’t need background, I already know how the main character (who is later called Mechanica), got to be in her present situation
And because of all the background, the pace felt really slow.
But there were some things I really did like about the book. I liked the steampunk element, and I loved the description. My favorite was the Night Market, and if you’ve read the book you’ll know why. I could have stayed at the Night Market forever. But while there was a fair bit of tension, there just was not enough action, and there really could have been.
It appears that this book is the first in a series, with the second book due out next year. I’ll be honest. I’m not likely to read book 2, as there are many other series I’ve enjoyed more. However, I still found the book pleasing to read, if not exciting.
J. E. Hunter is the author of the Black Depths Series. Tales of a Redheaded Sea-Witch, and Broken Tide, the first two books of the series can be found on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. The third book, Dark Shores, was released April 1, 2016. The fourth and last book of the Black Depths series, Twisted Currents, will be released in the fall of 2016, after Dead Water and Doomed Seas, two Novellas featuring Caesar.
I just recently learned that Amanda Hocking’s Switched Book Trailer stars Natalia Tena from the Harry Potter movies. Now before I say anything else, I’m going to say that I love self-publishing. I’m very glad I chose it (and I’ll get into that in a bit). But seeing this gorgeous trailer made my insides seethe a lot like Ronald Weasley’s must have when that slug-eating spell backfired on him. There is no way that I could ever afford such a big name actress (or any actress for that matter) to star in a trailer for my book as a self-published author. This just seems totally unfair. But that’s the power of a publishing house and that’s why—if I was ever offered the opportunity to work with one—I would probably consider it.
Now, maybe Natalia is just a huge fan of Amanda Hocking’s books and offered to do the movie for free, but there would still be the cost of a director, the set, and the CG butterfly. Even if Natalia and Amanda were best friends, the costuming probably would have cost a fair amount of paper. This is definitely not a cheap movie, even if it’s only a couple of minutes long. I’ve tried making my own book trailer, with a couple pretty pictures and quotes from my book (see below).
I’ve also thought of hiring my niece to star in a book trailer for me. But she hates having her picture taken. In fact, she has expressly forbid it. In other fact, if she ever reads this, she will probably demand that I erase all mention of her. In that case, I’m not talking about her I’m talking about my other niece. What? I don’t have another niece…Hmmm. Well, maybe I can spruce up my mash-up of words and music and pictures. I do have that amazing cover art now.
This brings me to my next point. Cover art is something I think self-publishing has matched the Publishing Houses on. It’s pretty easy these days to hire and amazing artist to capture the image you have in mind. For my Sea-Witch and Broken Tide covers, I’m using Leah Keeler, whom I found on Deviant Art and has been totally amazing to work with. I do the text myself, as that’s a lot more straightforward so long as you have decent editing software. But you do have to be aware of typos. Which leads me to the next point: Editing.
I have some great Beta Readers, who, through many different reads, help me catch the mistakes which slip through my fingers. There are almost always some small typos in books, even in the books put out by the Big Houses. But let’s be honest, self-published books often have more mistakes. However, I don’t always catch the typos in things I read. It’s like that Facebook post where all the words are messed about and you’re supposed to see if you can still read the thing… Well, you can. It’s perfectly legible. And that’s because our minds fill in the gaps. Now, I don’t want to be reading books full of typos, because it pulls me out of the story. And I hate making mistakes, so maybe a professional editor I don’t have to pay $10,000 dollars for would be nice. Though, even if I were to work with a Big House, I’d be paying that back in a sense with the difference in royalties. Still, an amazing editor would be a dream. What I don’t want is someone who’s trying to change my story.
And this is a definite plus for self-publishing. When I submitted Sea-Witch to an agent, I was lucky enough to find someone interested enough to read the entire manuscript and give me feedback. She was nice – a great person – but some of what she suggested just didn’t make sense for my book. But some of it was great advice, and I took it. In the end, we went our separate ways. Maybe it was because I didn’t make all the changes she wanted. But this was my story. I want it to always be my story. Tighten it, correct it, smooth it out, but don’t flatten it. Don’t chop it and tear it and burn it and cover it with dirt to make it fit what you feel the ‘market’ wants. I want my story to be unique. I want my story to be mine. I don’t want to have to sell out to become a best-seller. But seeing that book trailer…well…
I’m sure some words floating across the screen to the soundtrack of my own slightly-out-of-practice flute playing will work just as well. Because having Grandma spontaneous turn into a bloodsucking-goblin just isn’t what I had in mind*.
*That wasn’t a real suggestion, but close!
J. E. Hunter is the author of the Black Depths Series. Tales of a Redheaded Sea-Witch, and Black Depths, the first two books of the series can be found on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. The third book, Dark Shores, was released April 1, 2016. The fourth and last book of the Black Depths series, Twisted Currents, will be released in the fall of 2016.