Author Interview: Barbara Shoup for Looking for Jack Kerouac

KerouacVBT

Interview with Barbara Shoup

Q1. You write both YA and Adult novels. Which is easier to write between the two? And is the process of writing them any different?

They feel exactly the same to me. Everything I write is about exploring a question about something I can’t forget, something I know I will never understand. The idea for Looking for Jack Kerouac—a kid taking off on a road trip to find Kerouac in 1964—came from a friend, who kindly turned it over to me when he decided not to use it himself. But it was just an idea. I noodled around with it unsuccessfully for a long while. Then, sadly, one of my sisters died of brain cancer. Not long after her death, an image of her behind the counter of a diner floated into my mind’s eye. There was Ginny! One of the most painful things about my sister’s illness and death was watching her two teenage sons go through it and, after I found Ginny (and the idea that I could, in a way, bring my sister back to life through her), it occurred to me that Paul might have had the same experience as my oldest nephew. At which point the book became about a whole lot more than a road trip for me. It was a way of processing my own grief about my sister and trying to better understand what losing their mother had been like for her boys.

Q2. What made you decide to write a book about Jack Kerouac? What kind of research you do for this project?

The book really isn’t about Jack Kerouac. It’s about a broken-hearted kid who goes in search of Kerouac, his favorite author, with the idea that meeting him will somehow help him figure out what he’s supposed to do with his life. He doesn’t actually meet Kerouac until the last quarter of the book. Nonetheless, I felt a strong responsibility to get Kerouac right and to figure out what he could give my character, Paul, to help him on his way. What I knew (or thought I knew) about Kerouac when I started was that he was the most famous of the Beat Generation of writers, that he lived a pretty crazy life—taking off whenever he felt like it to explore America, and that he died early of alcoholism. But as I read his work and everything I could get my hands on about what other people had written and said about him, a far more complicated person began to emerge.

Q3. If someone new to Jack Kerouac works will try his books, which one will you recommend and why?

On the Road is a classic—and the book that made him into an American Icon. It would be my first pick. But if you really want to understand Kerouac, I’d recommend his autobiographical novel, Visions of Gerard, which explores the death of his older brother, a saintly child, who died when Jack was just four years old. Dharma Bums explores his fascination with Buddhism, adding even more to a reader’s sense of who he was.

Q4. What is one thing you hope readers will learn from reading Looking for Jack Kerouac?

Honestly, I’m a selfish writer. I write what I need to write and what feels possible. I never think about what readers might learn. That said, I hope they learn what I learn by reading and writing novels. That life is complicated, nobody is all good or all bad, the most important questions don’t have answers, and the more you know about any person or group of people, the more compassionate you can be toward them.

Q5. What are you reading now? Any recommendations for us?

Right now I’m reading Ann Patchett’s This Is a Happy Marriage, a wonderful book of essays about writing, relationships and…life. Some recent favorites are Louise Penny’s The Long Way Home, E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See—and, if you like a good vampire/werewolf novel with real ideas in it, try Sam Cabot’s The Skin of the Wolf. You won’t be able to put it down!

Q6. Are you working on any project right now? What we should expect from you in the near future?

I just finished an adult novel, The Green Heart of Lucy Stone, that I’m about ready to send out. I’ve got a few young adult novels in process and I’m trying to decide which one to focus on when I get back to my desk. One is set in a correctional institution for girls, the other explores the effect of a brutal murder of two teens on a wealthy suburban community. I’ve also been working on a book about writing geared to teenagers and writing teachers of teenagers, called Driving at Night.

Q7. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Read. Anything, everything. It will make you a smarter, better, more interesting and compassionate person. And be curious. Curiosity trumps hate every single time.

About the Book

Looking for Jack Kerouac

When Paul Carpetti discovers “On the Road” in Greenwich Village while on a class trip to New York City, the world suddenly cracks open and he sees that life could be more than the college degree his mother is determined for him to achieve, a good job and, eventually, marriage to his girlfriend, Kathy. But upon his return, his mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer and his world falls apart.

Set in 1964, “Looking for Jack Kerouac” tells the story of how Paul’s dreams of a different life and his grief at the loss of his mother set him on a road trip with his rowdy friend, Duke, that includes a wild night on Music Row in Nashville, an all-too-real glimpse of glimpse of racism; and an encounter with a voluptuous mermaid named Lorelei – landing him in St. Petersburg, where he finds real friendship and, in time, Jack Kerouac. By then a ruined man, living with his mother, Kerouac is nothing like the person Paul has traveled so far to meet.

Yet, in the end, it is Kerouac who gives him the key that opens up the next phase of his life.

Book Links

AmazonBook Depository | Goodreads

About the Author

Barbara Shoup
To say Barbara Shoup is passionate about writing would be an understatement. The award-winning author has been recognized with multiple honors for her work, and in August, she will release her eighth novel “Looking for Jack Kerouac” with Lacewing Books, the young adult imprint of Engine Books.

Shoup is the author of seven other novels, including “Night Watch” (1982), “Wish You Were Here” (1994/2008), “Stranded in Harmony” (1997/2001), “Faithful Women” (1999), “Vermeer’s Daughter” (2003/2014), “Everything You Want” (2008) and “An American Tune” (2012). She is the executive director of the Indiana Writers Center and the co-author of “Novel Ideas: Contemporary Authors Share the Creative Process” (2000) and “Story Matters: Contemporary Short Story Writers Share the Creative Process (2006).”

Shoup graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s degree in secondary education. She taught creative writing to high school students for more than twenty years.

Shoup’s short fiction, poetry, essays and interviews have appeared in numerous small magazines, as well as in The Writer and The New York Times travel section. Her young adult novels, “Wish You Were Here” and “Stranded in Harmony” were selected as American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults. “Vermeer’s Daughter” was a School Library Journal Best Adult Book for Young Adults.

Shoup is the recipient of numerous grants from the Indiana Arts Council, two creative renewal grants from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the 2006 PEN Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Working Writer Fellowship and the 2012 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Regional Indiana Author Award.

Shoup has lived in Indiana all her life. She is married with two daughters and two grandchildren.

Find Barbara

Thank you so much Barbara for answering all my questions above. I myself is beyond excited to read your book, Looking for Jack Kerouac. Then after reading your book will also check your recommendation, On The Road and some of those titles you mentioned. To be honest, I haven’t read most of those books except for E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars. I’m also looking forward for your future works, the one set in correctional institution for girls seems intruging. Thanks again Barbara.

Jennifer E Smith & Lissa Price in PH Soon

Jennifer E Smith & Lissa Price in PH

Jennifer E. Smith and Lissa Price Book Signing Tour

Frequently Asked Questions

When and where are the book signings?
September 19, 6:00 pm, at The Northwing Atrium, SM Cebu
September 20, 2:00 pm, at the Level 1 Atrium, SM Aura Premier

When will the registration be?
Registration opens at 10:00 am on September 19 at The Northwing Atrium, SM Cebu and 10:00 am on September 20 at the Level 1 Atrium, SM Aura Premier. Each guest will be asked to fill out the registration form upon arrival. Separate registrations for each event is required should you wish to attend both events. First come, first served.

Is there a registration fee?
No. There is no registration fee.

How many books can I have signed? Is there a limit as to how many people can have their books signed?
You may have any number of books signed as long as they were purchased from National Book Store, Bestsellers or Powerbooks, and we do not have any preset limit as to the number of people.

However, although we will take every effort to get as many books signed as possible, depending on the number of attendees, we reserve the right to limit the number of copies per person or limit the number of people in line. First come, first served.

Can I bring old books or other editions of the books?
Yes, as long as the books were purchased from National Book Store, Bestsellers and Powerbooks.

Do I need to buy on-site?
No. You can buy books before or during the event.

Can I have other items signed?
No. Only books will be allowed to be signed by the authors.

Can we have our photo taken with the author?
Yes, you can have your photo with the author when she signs your book. However, we strictly allow one photo per person only.

How much are the books?
Jennifer E. Smith Titles
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (Trade Paperback – P365)
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (Hardcover – P729)
This is What Happy Looks Like (Trade Paperback – P399)
This is What Happy Looks Like (Hardcover – P699)
The Geography of You and Me (Trade Paperback – P399)
The Geography of You and Me (Hardcover – P699)

Lissa Price Titles
Starters (Trade Paperback – P349)
Enders (Trade Paperback – P495)
Enders (Hardcover – P625)

See you all PH Booknerds soon!

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

The Falconer

“Sometimes the memories we cling hardest too are the ones that hurt us the most.”

Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters | Goodreads

Personal Thoughts:

If fae stories will always be this good, I think I can finally put an end in my usual routine of avoiding books that deals directly with this magical creatures. Though there are books that has faery twist or fae characters that I have enjoy reading most books that directly focus to this magical creatures are missed than hit for me. The Falconer is actually the first YA faery fantasy reads that I really enjoy.

It’s a surprise for me to love this book and the faery characters inside its world. It’s like I was magically converted or put enthralled by this magical creatures, almost like faestruck by them. The book’ spells wrap me up in a way I never expected.

Aileana Kameron aka Kam kills feary for revenge. After witnessing the death of her mother whom killed by a faery, she promised to hunt down the fae that kill her mom. With the help of Kiaran, another faery who happens to be at the opposite side of the battle, Aileana study and trained herself killing fearies. Her list of kills grow almost every night and she look forward for the day that her next kill is the one faery who kill her mom and destroyed her life.

Scotland in 1800 is just a perfect setting for this story. With the huge fae folklore from that country and the old but majestic vibes it just so fitting. Elizabeth not only utilize the setting but also creatively build an authentic and realistic environment for her story and characters. The description of things and surroundings are vivid and alive.

The steampunk touch in the story is just perfect enough. Too much doze of steampunk is not really for me so I’m glad The Falconer deliver just enough for my liking. The fantasy and the steampunk kinda jives perfectly. Nothing too much which makes the story flow easily.

And since I love actions, I love all the glory details describe in Aileana’s fights or the faery killings. From her different attacks/moves to the name of her weapons. I also like the fact that she is making her own weapons, from conceptualizing, sketching and even testing them. It shows not only her talents but also her brilliant mind.

Ailena is definitely a strong heroine – both physically and mentally. Her development from an innocent young girl whose goal is to find love and marriage as expected by the society to a girl who is driven by revenge is well executed. All the hatred that push her to be a liar, and a killer is believable. All her actions and decisions are justified by her lost. It’s her way of coping up and I think she earned the right to be like that. For a girl in the year 1844, Aileana is a definitely a kick-ass heroine.

“Time won’t fix me. Time allows me to become more skillful at hiding how much I hurt inside. Time makes me a great liar. Because when it comes to grief, we all like to pretend.”

Then we have Derrick, Aileana’s little sidekick pixie who lives in her dressing room, fixing her clothes for honey. This little creature contribute a lot of fun in the plot. He’s silly in the most endearing way. I can’t help but smile or laugh every time he shows in the plot. He is Aileana’s loyal companion and very helpful friend. Love this little creature to bit. If only I have one like him in my dressing room too.

To those who are looking for romance, The Falconer has a little bit, but it will require so much patience to its readers. It’s not dragging but more on something that exist but wasn’t quite given focus. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just me and my over imagination and too much anticipation. The hints are clearly there (or at least for me) but Aileana and Kiaran are both focus on their goal eliminating faeries along their way to entertain the possibility of romance between them. For me, this works very well, not only because it is realistic as both of them have their priorities but also it made me glued waiting for the some development. It doesn’t clouded the plot with oozing sweetness instead it give me something to hope and look forward to.

“Kiaran and I have little connection beyond our names. We battle, bleed and hunt together almost every night. He teaches me how to slaughter in the most effective, brutal ways possible. But I’ve never told Kiaran why I hunt, and he has never told me why he kills his own kind. This is our ritual, our dance. The only one that matters.”

Aside from the fantasy, this book is also a story of grief as it tells Aileana’s life after losing her mother from the hand of a faery. Not only she lost her mother, but also the one and only confidante she has. Her father is not much close to her. He doesn’t even recognize Aileana’s present but there is a reason behind this.

The ending is abrupt but promise a darker and more painful continuation to Aileana’s search for revenge.

Overall, The Falconer is an impressive start to this new steampunk fantasy series. It is a fast and surprising read that bewitch me from start to end. You’ll definitely enjoy this dark but surprising-light novel from an impressive newly debut author, Elizabeth May.
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* This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Chronicle Books in exchange of honest opinion.

 

Alex London Book Signing Tour in PH Soon

Poster - Alex London

Alex London Book Signing Tour

Frequently Asked Questions

When and where is the book signing?
August 30, 2:00 p.m., at National Book Store, SM Aura

When will the registration be?
Registration opens at 10:00 a.m. on August 30 at National Book Store, SM Aura. Each guest will be asked to fill out the registration form upon arrival. First come, first served.

Is there a registration fee?
No. There is no registration fee.

How many books can I have signed? Is there a limit as to how many people can have their books signed?
You may have any number of books signed as long as they were purchased from National Book Store, Bestsellers or Powerbooks, and we do not have any preset limit as to the number of people.

However, although we will take every effort to get as many books signed as possible, depending on the number of attendees, we reserve the right to limit the number of copies per person or limit the number of people in line. First come, first served.

Can I bring old books or other editions of the books?
Yes, as long as the books were purchased from National Book Store, Bestsellers and Powerbooks.

Do I need to buy on-site?
No. You can buy books before or during the event.

Can I have other items signed?
No. Only books will be allowed to be signed by the authors.

Can we have our photo taken with the author?
Yes, you can have your photo with the author when she signs your book. However, we strictly allow one photo per person only.

How much are the books?
Proxy (Trade Paperback – P419)
Proxy (Hardcover – P729)
Guardian (Hardcover – P755)

 

* Check out the ongoing book tour of Proxy by Alex London via Pinoy Book Tours for a chance to win a signed copy of Alex book.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno

The Half Life of Molly Pierce

“I’m good at being unhappy. I’m good at accommodating my sadness.”

 

You take it for granted. Waking up. Going to school, talking to your friends. Watching a show on television or reading a book or going out to lunch.

You take for granted going to sleep at night, getting up the next day, and remembering everything that happened to you before you closed your eyes.

You live and you remember.

Me, I live and I forget.

But now—now I am remembering.

For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a suspenseful, evocative psychological mystery about uncovering the secrets of our pasts, facing the unknowns of our futures, and accepting our whole selves.

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters | Goodreads | National Book Store

Personal Thoughts:

I haven’t read much books that deals with multiple personality disorder. Though I’ve seen a lot of movies that deals with the subject I don’t find it common in fiction especially in YA. Yes, there are many psychological thrillers in YA genre out there but not much deals with multiple personality disorder and not as subtle as this one. Those I’ve read mostly gears from psychological to paranormal – a twist I don’t like much because it loss the realistic vibes of the story.

In this book, The Half Life of Molly Pierce, I really appreciate that the author sticks her story in the contemporary and psychological thriller side. I’m glad she didn’t push the story to other genre just to add twist or shock factor for her readers.

The first few pages actually reminds me of the suspense Japanese movie Tokyo Shōnen / Tokyo Boy. The two are not the same except for the multiple personality disorder, it give me more theories about the twist and turns of the plot. Though it doesn’t end up as darker as I expected, the journey is still as thrilling.

Molly Pierce life is a mystery, even to her. She suffers from blackouts, where part of her time is a total blank to her. One minute she in school attending class, then next thing she realize she is somewhere she can’t even recognize. She don’t know why she was there, what she did, or whom she spent her time with. She knows something is wrong but she can’t figure it out. But still she pretends that her life is normal. Until she witness a road accident where a boy she doesn’t know seems to know her very well. Eventually memories are start come back to her. Little flashbacks are filling her mind and Molly have to find out if she is ready to face them all or not.

“Now I am remembering.
And I’m not sure what I liked better.
Being in the dark or being thrust unceremoniously into the light.”

 Molly’s stream of consciousness is well written. Her choppy voice is realistically aligned to her condition. Katrina Leno created Molly with a consuming voice that makes me empathize and relate with her even from the outside perspective of the reader. It so easy to feel her struggles and confusions, like I was inside her head every moment. Even during the times when her narrative are chopped and hanging creating an isolated atmosphere, I still feel her and her isolation. Her complexity echo throughout the pages of this book.

Katrina Leno’s unfolded Molly’s story in a right pace. Every hints and revelations are well executed, leaving readers enough moments to formulate theories and evaluate Molly’s situation. It’s a gripping ride getting to know Molly’s character as she try to put together the puzzle behind her blank hours.

Besides with mystery and the main character, I also like the family dynamics and friendships presented in the story. Molly’s family are supportive and very understanding. I like the fact that they didn’t push Molly to understand things that’s happening to her. They let her undergo through it at her own pace. The way they handle the situation is admiring. I can feel their frustrations, and pain even Molly doesn’t see it herself. While Molly’s friends add normality to Molly’s life, something Molly is trying hard to accomplish – to be normal.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a powerful, intense and emotionally heartfelt psychological thriller novel. Molly and her life story will surely stay with me for a good long while. Katrina Leno soar high with this debut novel. I’m already looking forward to her next work.

* This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher,  HarperCollins International in exchange of honest opinion.

Loot by Jude Watson

Loot by Jude Watson

“If you think nothing can go wrong, you’d better think again.”

“LOOT hits the jackpot.” — Rick Riordan, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author

On a foggy night in Amsterdam, a man falls from a rooftop to the wet pavement below. It’s Alfie McQuinn, the notorious cat burglar, and he’s dying. As sirens wail in the distance, Alfie manages to get out two last words to his young son, March: “Find jewels.”

But March learns that his father is not talking about a stash of loot. He’s talking about Jules, the twin sister March never knew he had. No sooner than the two find each other, they’re picked up by the police and sent to the world’s worst orphanage. It’s not prison, but it feels like it.

March and Jules have no intention of staying put. They know their father’s business inside and out, and they’re tired of being pushed around. Just one good heist, and they’ll live the life of riches and freedom most kids only dream about.

Watch out! There are wild kids on the loose and a crime spree coming . . .

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters | Goodreads | National Book Store

Personal Thoughts:

Once in awhile I try to stash some middle grade book in my reading pile for the purpose of recommending new read for my ten year old nephew who loves to read books as much as I do. Actually, he is much better reader than I am, he’s just 10 years old and already read classics titles more than I have read. And every time I found myself enjoying books intended for younger readers, it reminds me how to be a kid and to enjoy simple things in my stories.

“No thief likes a full moon. Like mushrooms and owls, they do their best work in the dark.”

March McQuin is the son of the world’s most notorious jewel thief, Alfie McQuin. Being a son of a thief he is living his life on the run, traveling from different places, never attending school or having real friends to surround him. That’s his life until his father, Alfie McQuin died. His father’s last words “Find jewels.”

Turns out jewels is not a gem or any precious items Alfie wants him to steal. He got it wrong. Jules, not jewels is a twin sister he didn’t know he had. With no parents to take care of them, Jules & March are sent to an orphanage which is not much better than prison. There, they met Darius and Izzy who become an alliance in breaking out of the orphanage. Together they went finding clues and solving puzzles left by Alfie to execute an unfinished and possibly biggest heist.

“When you run a con, you don’t think about the odds. You think about details so you don’t mess up.”

For a short read, Loot is packed with lots of actions, adventures and schemes that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. With the bunch of kids that are clever and cunning, Loot provides a thrilling story of adventure and friendships.

March and his gang are brilliant characters you can’t help but root for despite of the illegal things they are doing. They are brave and talented kids who choose to remove themselves in a corrupt society like the foster home that was supposed to take care of them. Together they form an alliance to find seven gems that possibly cursed. Each schemes they pull are twisty and well plotted making the story engaging and fun.

Jude Watson did a terrific job in making March and the other characters realistic despite the little possibility of kids plotting heist as big as this one in real world. Her writing style is also top-notch! For a middle grade book, she successfully weaved an easy to read story for kids while plotting intricate crimes that even adults will enjoy. The writing is fast-paced with consistent sense of urgency leaving no room for dull and slow moments. Each happenings are essential to the plot and to the development of characters.

Overall, with quirky & smart characters Loot is a clever, creative fun read. Not only it will take you to a thrilling ride of adventure and non-stop action but will also reminds you the importance of family. Highly recommended for kids and kids at heart who love some adventures to their stories.

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*This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Scholastic Press Philippines in exchange for an honest opinion.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling“You win your people or you lose your throne.”

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

The Queen of the Tearling introduces readers to a world as fully imagined and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine. Combining thrilling action and twisting plot turns, it is a magnificent debut from the talented Erika Johansen.

Personal Thoughts:

There’s quite a huge hype surrounding this book even before the released date. Describe as fully imagines and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine, it is given for readers like me to have expectations. Add the news about the film rights that been bought by a big studio production and the casting of Emma Watson as star and executive producer I am prepared to love the book and add it to my favorite reads. But as usual too much expectations ruin things for me. Though The Queen of the Tearling is an enjoyable read with it’s decent plot and promising world it still fell a little short for me.

One of the reason is because the book is staged to set-up a planned trilogy. Nothing much happens in-spite of the thickness of the pages except for a long and detailed explanation of everything and everyone that surrounds the narrator, Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, Queen of the Tearling. And despite all the details and explanations of things I still had a hard time picturing the world where the story is set. Leaving me a lot of unanswered questions about the world and events.

I understand the time setting being in the near future that has to go back in medieval times. I like that concept, but I’m not sure if Erika Johansen pull it off smoothly. There are some plot holes and real life references that I think are out of place or shouldn’t be in the story. Even Ericka explains in her narrative the existence of some of those things, it’s still felt forced to me.

The narrative of this book is more on telling than showing. A lot of things are explained in a form of story telling than actually showing things how it happened. And most of the times the detailed are not in the most important things. Usually I don’t mind long narrative especially if a lot of things are happening and the plot is moving fairly fast, but if the narrative will just consist of irrelevant things like what bricks are made of, or details of nobles’ dresses and their hair and make up – that’s just poor editing for me.

“To the east, Kelsea spotted what must be the house of a noble: a high tower made of red brick. Real brick! Tearling brick was a notoriously poor building material compared to Mortmesne’s, which was made with better mortar and commanded at least a pound per kilo. Carlin had an oven made of real bricks, built for her by Barty, and Kelsea had wondered more than once whether Barty had bought the bricks off the black market from Mortmesne.”

I like the fact that Kelsea our heroine is not the usual gorgeous, confident girl, but there are also a lot of things that I don’t like about Kelsea. She is an inconsistent character in my opinion. Not only her background doesn’t fit much of what she become, but also her own personality doesn’t quite jive properly. She has the making of a great Queen, being the caring ruler that she is. Her loves for her people and Kingdom is what makes her a good leader. She also not afraid of doing things she think is right no matter what it cost. But once in a while Kelsea also shows traits that negate the definition of a great Queen. Like when she is being judgmental or when her thoughts are simply offensive.

What does she see when she looks in the mirror? Kelsea wondered. How could a woman who looked so old still place so much importance on being attractive? She had read about this particular delusion in books many times, but it was different to see it in practice. And for all the anguish that Kelsea’s own reflection has caused her lately, she saw now that there was something far worse than being ugly: being ugly and thinking you were beautiful.

Other characters that are worth mentioning are The Mace and The Fetch. These two gentlemen are clearly written with emphasis than the others beside the main character and narrator, Kelsea. And between the two, The Fetch was clearly written with mystery, but in-spite of this I am more intrigue with The Mace. For me, he has more depth than anyone else in the story. But of course there are still other books to change that status. The Queen’s Guard are also interesting, I think it would be lovely have them more exposures in the next books.

Overall, The Queen of the Tearling was a nice attempt to contribute something new in the familiar fantasy ground. The idea of how a future society will resolved living like the old ways to create a better society is something I haven’t encountered before, and that alone is a worth applauding. I just hope that the next books will explore more of that world and concentrate on more important things that will make the plot more engaging and moving.

* This review is based on an advance E-copy I received courtesy of the publisher,  HarperCollins International in exchange of honest opinion.