Happy Thursday! I am glad to be back and that things have smoothed out, finally. 2013 is off to a rocky start for me....hopefully everything will be back to normal and on schedule next week! Thanks for bearing with me.
I am happy to welcome author Sarah Zettel here today. She wrote Dust Girl (American Fairy #1) which released in June 2012 and her next book Golden Girl is schdeudled for June of 2013. I invited Sarah here today and she wrote a fun post about books for the holiday.... since I was off during Christmas I am sharing it with you now....
Here is Sarah's Bio:
Sarah Zettel is an award winning author of science fiction, fantasy, romance and mystery, and one of the founding members of Book View Cafe. She has written fourteen novels and a roughly equal number of short stories over the past ten years in addition to practicing tai chi, learning to fiddle, marrying a rocket scientist and raising a rapidly growing son. She is very tired right now. DUST GIRL, the first book in her American Fairy trilogy, was named as one of the best books for teens by Kirkus reviews. The second book GOLDEN GIRL, will be on shelves beginning in June, 2013. You can learn more about her books, and Sarah on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
Here is Sarah:
A Bookish Little Christmas by Sarah Zettel
With a husband who teaches at a major university, and a son in grade school, my life very much follows the academic calendar. This means a two week winter break at the end of the year. Combine this with (if I’m lucky), a set of gift cards from the holidays, and you get a vacation that involves lots of curling up on the couch with a good book, or three. Or a dozen.
Actually, let’s face it, my to-be-read pile is a six foot tall Ikea bookcase, and its got books on the shelves, and books on top, and books on top of those books. I know, I know, the first step is acknowledging you have a problem. One day I’ll find a good program, and not go to the meetings. The iPad does not in any way help, because it allows me to grab whatever catches my eye without taking up any extra room on that bookcase.
But, hopefully, this holiday will also be a time when I can make some inroads on the pile that has already been accumulated. I like light reading for vacations. I love history any time. And, as you might expect, I really enjoy digging into YA books. IMHO, we’re living in a golden age of teen and kid literature and there’s just not enough time to read all the good new stuff that’s out there.
Given my inability to resist shiny new books, a lot of what I’m planning to read this week is not new. But thanks to the Bookshelf Eternal that is the internet, a lot of it is easy to find, if you’re interested. And for the record, most of your local independent bookstores are online and can find you what you’re looking for. Save a bookstore, shop local. End PSA.
I love restaurants and cooking, and I find that world fascinating, so I’ve got a couple of chef memoirs to read. I’ve just grabbed YES CHEF, by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelson, a chef of Ethiopian-Swedish descent who’s opened a new restaurant in Harlem. I’ve also got BLOOD, BONES AND BUTTER by Gabrielle Hamilton, one of the growing number of women executive chefs who are sharing their stories.
As I said before, I love history. Especially history about music and theater and any other unusual careers or people. So, the pile also contains some books by Jim Steinmeyer, who writes about the history of stage magic and magicians: THE LAST GREATEST MAGICIAN IN THE WORLD, and THE GLORIOUS DECEPTION. There’s also a modern reflection on the world and art of stage magic, FOOLING HOUDINI by Alex Stone. Why, yes, I do think I’d like to write a book featuring a stage magician. Why do you ask?
In the YA section, I’ve got some sequels. BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS, which is the sequel to BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (which has been made into a movie). I found the first one a little rambling, but I really liked the characters, and I want to know where its going. I’ve also got EVERWILD by Neil Shusterman, the second in his series about some young ghosts. I adore Shusterman. He’s a fantastic writer and I loved the first book, EVERLOST. I can’t wait to crack this one open. I’ve also got DODGER by the great Terry Prachett. This is not one of his Discworld books, which I adore, but is his take on Dickensian London. I’ve actually started this one, and so far, it’s a lot of fun.
I’ve also got a historical mystery, CITY OF LIGHT, which has a lovely, lush opening, and is set in what is more or less my family seat of Buffalo New York. And there’s THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS by N.K. Jemison, a big, fat, epic fantasy with a surprising point of view.
So, there’s the tip of the iceberg that is my TBR pile. What’s on your pile and in your hands this season? Whatever it might be, I hope you enjoy.
Well, Sarah, that is a loaded question to ask book bloggers what is in their TBR piles... do you have a few hours to spare while we tell you? I am personally trying to catch up on my TBR, that is my goal for 2013~! I hope you had a wonderful holiday and got a few of those titles read....I didn't get through quite as many as I hoped but I enjoyed my holiday!
Thanks to Sarah for stopping by today. She, of course, comes bearing gifts....thanks to the good folks at Random House Publishing, one lucky U.S. Resident can win a copy of Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel. Just read the Contest Policies and fill out the Rafflecopter. Good Luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
Dust Girl (American Girl #1) by Sarah Zettel
Callie LeRoux lives in Slow Run, Kansas, helping her mother run their small hotel and trying not to think about the father she’s never met. Lately all of her energy is spent battling the constant storms plaguing the Dust Bowl and their effects on her health. Callie is left alone when her mother goes missing in a dust storm. Her only hope comes from a mysterious man offering a few clues about her destiny and the path she must take to find her parents in “the golden hills of the west”: California.
Along the way she meets Jack, a young hobo boy who is happy to keep her company—there are dangerous, desperate people at every turn. And there’s also an otherworldly threat to Callie. Warring fae factions, attached to the creative communities of American society, are very much aware of the role this half-mortal, half-fae teenage girl plays in their fate. Hardcover, 304 pages Published June 26th 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Four stars: An interesting tale that blends the days of the Dust Bowl and Depression with the magic and unpredictability of the Fey.
Callie's body spasms with a deep, racking cough. Her lungs are heavy with dust. More than her lungs are plagued by the dirt that has overtaken all of the Midwest. Callie lives in Kansas, and like all the other towns in the area, the violent dust storms have choked off all the land and driven away most of the citizens. Callie longs to escape the nightmarish dust, but her mother insists they must stay and wait for the return of her father. A man she has never met, as he vanished long before she was born leaving behind a piano and a promise he would return. Now Callie and her mother are trapped in the terrifying dust bowl waiting for a man to rescue them. Then in a moment of despair, Callie's mother commands her to play her father's piano, and that changes everything..... The music seems to call up a raging dust storm and unseen enemies, and Callie soon learns that her black heritage is infused with something more....magic. Magic that is dangerous and deadly. Can Callie escape the dusty plains of Kansas?
What I Liked:
- I am always fascinated by the Dust Bowl/ Depression era and I am eager to learn more about this difficult time, so I was excited to pick up Dust Girl and transport into the deadly dry, dusty plains of the Midwest. I was surprised to find that this is more than a tale of the Dust Bowl as it incorporates a bit of paranormal. With the addition of the Fey and magic, the book turns into something unexpected, and it ends up being a fast and furious read full of unexpected encounters with something different on every page. This is a book that is full of twists and surprises, and you never know from one moment to the next what will happen. If you enjoy historical books with a dash of supernatural definitely give Dust Girl a try.
- I liked that this book touched on so many issues that were prevalent during this era, such as: racism, poverty, hunger, desperation and the horror of the dust and the Great Depression. You can almost feel the dust grinding in your teeth as you eat the food that is contaminated with dirt, or feel the grime heavy in your lungs as you struggle to breath. The vivid descriptions bring all the horror and hopelessness to life. I also appreciated that Callie was of mixed race and that she struggled to hide her African American genes as she would be an outcast. The cruel spectre of racism rears it its ugly head time and time again, a reminder that we are not that far removed from the days of segregation. On the flip side, this book also presents the disparaging distribution of wealth. While so many struggled to survive, there are the few who enjoyed the luxuries of the high life, and flaunted them while they went about their daily lives, seemingly oblivious to the suffering. This theme is present throughout, as Callie and Jack encounter the wealthy as they try to endure dust and hunger.
- I enjoyed that this book does not have a full developed romance. Every once in awhile, it is a nice to read a YA novel that does not utilize a romance. This one does establish a strong friendship between Jack and Callie, that starts out a little rocky, and while there are definite hints that an attraction is building, nothing transpires. I will be interested to see how this one develops.
- I liked that this book incorporates many supernatural entities, some old and others new. From the Seelie and Unseelie Fey to the Midnight People as well as an appearance from the old trickster, Coyote.
- Callie, the heroine, is an interesting and unique voice. She starts out as a shy, sheltered girl longing to be free from the despairing, dust blown plains of Kansas. She is girl of mixed heritage with a bit of magic in her blood. I liked watching her growth as she transforms into a more capable girl, one who is able to see beyond Fey glamour. She taps into her magic and learns a thing or two about the wily Fey. By the end, she is a brave and determined girl.
And The Not So Much:
- I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't just a bit more discussion on the Dust Bowl and The Depression. Many young readers, are probably unfamiliar with this era as it is starting to move into the more distant past, and we are quickly losing those who survived this time period. I would love to see in the next book, a bit more information on the events that precipitated the Dust Bowl Days and how the population ultimately dealt with this calamity.
- This book was not bogged down by a slow pace, in fact it is just the opposite. The story line zips along and often times events are not fully explained and some of the detail is lost. For instance, Callie and Jack visit the local store after a horrific dust storm to find the store ransacked and all the meat chewed off to the bone.... The reader is left to infer who did this.....and there are many more scenes where the pace is too quick. I think slowing it down a bit and expanding on the details would make for a better read. The quick speed, at times, makes some things confusing.
- One thing that bothered me was the way the mother disappeared. She vanishes in the middle of a blinding dust storm and Callie just seems to suddenly know that she is gone, not that she is out there succumbing to the dust. Furthermore, I didn't think her reaction was appropriate. She isn't distraught or fearful or crying.....I don't know something about that whole scene just didn't quite work for me.
- The final scene is also a bit confusing, it is so chaotic and crazy and then it takes on a whole new dimension with a bit of religious, after life tones.....Again, this is another area where the book's quick pace hurt the story. It also ends on a bit of a cliffhanger....nothing jarring or horrific, but there isn't any resolution to the main conflicts...it is more of a to be continued end.
Dust Girl is an exciting and interesting blend of historical and supernatural. I liked that this book blended the Dust Bowl / Depression Era with a bit of Fey magic. In the end, you have a book that is full of surprises as well as the unexpected. I also appreciated that it explored many of the the issues that were pertinent to this period. If you enjoy historical books with a dash of paranormal read Dust Girl. This fast paced adventure will take you on a wild and crazy trip through the dreary, dusty landscape of the Midwest. I am eager to see how the adventure will continue with the release of Golden Girl in June 2013.
"All of them waiting on a chance to hop a train. All of them trying to get someplace, anyplace where there might be work and a chance at keeping body and soul together just a little bit longer."
"Worry had worn itself deep into their minds and souls, but it was still finding new channels to dig."
"A gun is a terrible thing. It's a dark hole pointed at you, and that hole swallows up everything else in the world, your friends, your nerve, until there's nothing but you and what's waiting in that little round space of dark."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.