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I have a spectacular book for you today! I was blown away by this one and I can't wait to share it with you! I have debut author, Sarah Fine here today with a guest post. She is the author of Sanctum. This is her first novel and I guarantee she will have some staying power! Here is a bit more about Sarah:
Sarah Fine was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast, where she lives with her husband and two children. When she's not writing, she's working as a child psychologist. No, she is not psychoanalyzing you right now. SANCTUM is her first novel. She also writes with Walter Jury under the name S.E. Fine, and their YA sci-fi thriller, SCAN, comes out in fall 2013. Visit her website for details.
Here is Sarah to tell us a little more about the fighting techniques in Sanctum:
“It was either hit or run. I found the hitting more satisfying.”
Sanctum is a pretty psychological and emotional novel, but the book also contains a lot of action. Sword fights, hand to hand face-offs, whirling staffs and knives slicing through the air … yeah. Malachi in particular is a deadly character, having honed his skills over time until he’s pretty much a machine. He fights with a scimitar and comes equipped with throwing knives and a bo staff. But if you made him choose how to fight, his answer would come quick and easy: his body is his best and favorite weapon.
Malachi has a very specific fight style. It’s not referred to by name a single time in the book, because he doesn’t know what it’s called. How he came to have these particular skills is hinted at in the story, though you’ll have to be wicked observant to figure out the real life connection (oh, that connection happens to be the person who made the statement quoted above…). But today I’ll tell you Malachi’s brand of martial arts (wow—I’ve never said this publicly before!): he uses Krav Maga. It’s practical, brutal, efficient, and entirely focused on getting the job done quickly. It’s not a rule-driven sport—it’s about hurting and damaging without mercy … and without injuring oneself in the process. This particular style and ethos influenced Malachi as a character, not just the way he fights.
I read a lot about the history and values of Krav Maga as I wrote the book, but to choreograph Malachi’s hand-to-hand fight scenes, I watched a lot of Youtube. This is a favorite research technique of mine! I viewed and re-viewed a ton of Krav Maga videos so that I could get a sense of the style and movement, then watched more to break down specific moves. Seriously, sometimes I’d replay a video maybe twenty times until I could easily picture a sequence in my head. I love writing action, but because it’s so purely visual and I’m trying to give that image to the reader, I have to be very clear how things look.
Now, Lela’s fight scenes were a different story. She’s a tough girl who’s been physically traumatized, and she’s learned the value of being able to defend herself. What she has, she comes to only through incidental experience rather than formal training. Over time, she’s become physically strong because she’s scared and wants to keep herself safe. If it’s her or the other guy, she’s not about to lie down and be a victim—she’ll stab her attacker with whatever she has available. Her moves are driven by instinct and a ferocious desire to survive, but they get honed throughout the book (and subsequent books J). I pretty much did no research for her fight scenes—mostly, I tried to write what a desperate and crafty girl would do instinctively when faced with a specific threat.
When asked whether all young women should have some self-defense training, I guess I’d first like to say that I wish it wasn’t necessary. No human, male or female, should have their personal and physical integrity challenged the way Lela has. However, considering the proportion of women who are assaulted every year, I do think a bit of defense training makes some sense. There’s value in knowing that you can keep yourself safe, and that you’re worthy of safety. That’s the great thing about self-defense training—it’s not all about fighting off an attacker. It’s about knowing that you can if you need to, if that’s the course of action that will result in you staying alive, and that you’re entitled to defend yourself if attacked. This is the lesson Lela has learned prior to the start of the book. And though I wouldn’t wish the method of her learning on anyone, I do think women are best served when they can be strong and confident and safe out in the world. Oh, and maybe in the afterlife. I mean, you never know.
Wow! Another use for YouTube! I agree, it is best to know a little about self defense and be prepared, and hope you never have to use those skills. Thank you Sarah! Please visit Sarah on her website, blog, twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. Now for the best part! Thanks to the good folks at Amazon Children's Publishing, I have a paperback of Sanctum up for grabs. Trust me, you want this one! Please see Contest Policies and fill out the Rafflecopter. Good Luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowlands #1) Sarah Fine
"My plan: Get into the city. Get Nadia. Find a way out. Simple."A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos's best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance – hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn't just anyone – she's determined to save her best friend's soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife. As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she's captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city's endless streets. Their all-too-human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn't – the dark city isn't the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate. Hardcover, 433 pages Published October 16th 2012 by Marshall Cavendish Children's/Amazon Children's Publishing
Five Stars: An incredible world building book with tremendous characters.
Lela stands along the dirty fence at lunch trying to be invisible as she survives her first day in another new school. Lela has been in and out of foster care for years. She is traumatized and broken. Her invisibility plan goes awry when the school's queen bee popular girl tangles with a dirty jeans drug pusher. Nadia in her attempt to buy some pills is nearly robbed and groped. Lela intervenes and expects nothing more than a thank you. To her surprise Nadia responds with genuine kindness. A year later, Lela is on track to college and she is finally putting her life together thanks to her friendship with Nadia. Nadia has been a true friend, encouraging Lela to believe that she is worth something. Yet, Nadia is unhappy and still resorts to pills on occasion and even talks about ending it all. Lela shudders to think what might happen if Nadia kills herself. Lela knows what awaits, a dark and terrifying land that captures the souls of suicides. Lela knows because she tried to commit suicide herself and visited this horrible place, and now it haunts her every night in her dreams. When the unthinkable happens, Lela must make a choice....will she enter this horrifying land of shadows in order to retrieve her best friend from the depths of Hell?
What I Liked:
- This book blew me away with its amazing world building, incredible characters and creative story line. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was riveted to it! If you are looking for an awesome read with a complex, detailed world and flawed, broken characters learning to find their way, pick this one up!
- I loved the main characters Lela and Malachi. Lela is a damaged girl, one who was tossed from one foster home to another until she encounters Rick, a filthy man who molests her. She is finally freed from him and into a good home and just beginning to get her life in order with Nadia's help when disaster strikes. She finds herself once again in the shadowlands as she tries to save her friend. Lela is one of those characters who has little self worth and doesn't believe that she deserves to be loved. Yet, she is a fighter and she is altruistic in her willingness to sacrifice herself to save her friend. I admired her fierce determination and loved watching her grow. Malachi is one of the most amazing male leads I have run across. This guy is the best! He is a fierce fighter, but yet he is fair and kind and noble and just wonderful. He, too, is battling his inner demons as he struggles to overcome his own nightmarish past. I loved everything about him! You must meet Malachi and Lela!
- As I mentioned, the world building in this one is spot on! Ms. Fine presents us with the Shadowlands, a dark, dreary land that lie behind the Suicide Gates. It is a purgatory, a place where the souls of suicides go to reside until they can change their behavior and hopefully move onto another plane, but of course it is a difficult path. People caught in this world tend to continue the same self destructive behaviors that brought them here in the first place, whether it be drugs, gluttony, depression, etc. They remain caught here until they conquer their darkest demons. The land answers their calls. If they want a big abode, it grows for them, new shoes...they appear on their feet. The only problem is that nothing is perfect, everything is imperfect and wrong. This is a land of nightmares and terror. Added to the frightening landscape are demon creatures called Mazikins looking to possess souls. I was thrilled to discover this unsettling, creative and thought provoking new world!
- I could tell that Ms. Fine had a deep understanding of people's inner demons. She captures and relates to us the troublesome feelings of what it is like to be damaged and lacking self worth as well as depression and the emptiness one feels inside. On the flip side, I loved the way she depicted the romance between Malachi and Lela. She shows us the careful, hesitant steps the two take, at first they are shaky and untrusting, but slowly they evolve and completely change each other. The romance is so beautiful when it unfurls. Two imperfect, damaged people healing each other. I know I am not doing it justice. You must experience it for yourself and see the depth of their feelings and how far they are willing to go to save the other. If you are looking for a breathtaking romance, do yourself a favor and read this one.
- This book does not have a love triangle and it it draws to a satisfying ending and it could certainly work as a stand alone novel, but thankfully there will be more, and I,for one, cannot wait for the continuation of this one. The ending of this one was just fantastic with its heart stopping, crushing scene and then sweet satisfaction! Just perfect!
And The Not So Much:
- This book has a dark tone and it tackles some very deep and troubling issues such as suicide, sexual and physical abuse and so forth. The landscape is disturbing, but all in all there are some great lessons to be learned from this one. Due to its mature topics and tone, I would recommend this for more mature readers.
- I felt that Nadia was a bit underdeveloped. The reader just gets a few glimpses of her at the beginning of the book. I wanted more depth, to see how Nadia managed to change Lela and make her willing to go through the horrifying lengths that she does all in hopes of saving Nadia from the Shadowlands. The friendship is a bit glossed over.
- I wished that I could see what the Shadowlands were like through the eyes of someone caught there trying to learn to change. Did the food and landscape look appealing? How did someone like Nadia perceive the world they were trapped in?
- I wanted to more about the Guards who served in the Shadowlands. It said they weren't human and they didn't know where they went when they died. What were they and why did they have to serve in the Shadowlands?
- I also wished for a better understanding on the vile Mazakins, wanting to know exactly what they were, where they came from and their intentions, but again I know more details are forthcoming and I must be patient.
- Finally, I was eager to know more about the judge and characters like Raphael and Michael are the indeed god and archangels? I have a feeling I will learn more in the next books. Needless to say, I found them to be fascinating.
Sanctum was a book that caught me by surprise with its detailed, terrifying world and amazing characters. I absolutely soaked up the budding romance in this one and thoroughly loved watching the broken souls flourish. Ms. Fine with this fantastic debut book has found a new fan! I cannot wait for the next book! Please read this one!
"If you kill yourself, you go where the monsters are."
"The door slid shut, and her presence was forgotten, like a raindrop hitting the surface of the ocean."
"His touch blew fuses in my brain. I wanted to rear back and run away. I wanted to put my hand in his and hold it there forever."
"When you don't have a future, you act different. You don't plan. You don't try. You just....exist."
He made the mistake of loving me, too. Looked at me like I was the most amazing thing he'd ever seen, like I wasn't just worth something; I was worth everything."
"That simple moment, touching him, feeling him breathe, his hands stroking my hair---it was all I could have hoped for, all I could have wanted. I was filled up with it, this warm, buzzing feeling in my chest, and it was completely satisfying."
"This kiss was a living thing. A wild and dangerous thing. It spread its wings and carried is out over the city, over the walls. Malachi tasted like the forest, like the sun, like every dream I'd ever had about what this moment should be."
"She was the weird combination of sharp and soft, like I wanted her to hug me, but I also wanted to run like hell."
"No you loved the illusion of me."
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my time and all opinions expressed are my own.
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