Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Clockwork Heart" by Dru Pagliassotti - Review

In this post I mentioned a book review I was going to write. Here it is, better late than never! 
As I said before, I picked this book up at Chapters. I hadn't heard of it before. Normally I only buy books that I know of from a friend or read about ahead of time. I sometimes forget that there is a good reason for that.
Synopsis: Taya soars over Ondinium on metal wings. She is an icarus — a courier privileged to travel freely across the city’s sectors and mingle indiscriminately among its castes. But even she can’t outfly the web of terrorism, loyalty, murder, and intrigue that snares her after a daring mid-air rescue. Taya finds herself entangled with the Forlore brothers, scions of an upperclass family: handsome, brilliant Alister, who sits on the governing council and writes programs for the Great Engine; and awkward, sharp-tongued Cristof, who has exiled himself from his caste and repairs clocks in Ondinium’s lowest sector. Both hide dangerous secrets, in this city that beats to the ticking of a clockwork heart…

 What I liked: What first attached me to this book was the cover and then the back cover's synopsis. I love steampunk and this book seemed to promise a good dose of that.
The story was interesting, it had some cool ideas; like Taya's clockwork wings and the way the city's society worked. It was interesting how computers and steampunk were combined.
Pagliassotti does a good job of assuming her audience is not dumb, her tone is not condescending or overly explanitory.

What I Didn't Like: The first page was a bit overwhelming: there was a lot of information about the society and names given all at once. Once it plunged into the action scene it became interesting.

The book is aimed at a teen and YA audience: I found it in the teen section and the story is very much geared towards what that age group would be interested in; however, the main character is mentioned as being about thirty years old. That doesn't have to be a big deal, in fact, it can be an opportunity to create a role model for younger readers. However, I took issue with the opportunity Pagliassotti missed; she has Taya and Alister's intentions toward each other as being completely recreational and not at all serious. Pointless flirting is portrayed as fun and harmless, and Taya considers sleeping with Alister with clear indications of no commitment. It bothers me that Pagliassotti portrays these ideas to teens who are looking around for an indication of what relationships should be like. Her message is: commitment-free, sexual relationships can be fun and don't really mean anything. That kind of thinking can be damaging.

There is a whole lot of blushing going on in the book. Taya blushes when she wakes up, blushes when she eats, blushes when she walks, blushes when talking to both the love interests, and blushes when anything important happens. Alister also joins in on the blush-fest. I might be exaggerating a little bit, but only a little bit...

At one point the story lulled and seemed to promise the end, only to have a whole other story line appear and the story start up again. In the meantime, I got bored.

The Verdict: One only needs to see the difference between the amount of "What I liked" in comparison to "what I didn't like" to know the answer to that. I was disappointed. Though the story was okay, the morals sucked and, in the end, I got rid of the book.

Friday, February 21, 2014

More Dragons

Following my previous post: link in which I confessed my love of dragons, I decided to do another post about them. In honour of this occasion I will post a scene from my book, Silver Blood.


          “Useless, she says; a screecher, she says. Well I’ll have her know I have earned a living off of my profession!” Zray mumbled to himself as he stumbled along through the woods with two spear-points at his back.
          The sun had just risen and the light was filtering down through the tree tops to the forest floor around him. Zray tripped over a root and mumbled, “I happen to have sung for The Duke of Gasbal and he complimented me on my pluckiness.”
          “Would you just be quiet!” one of the guards, a man without hair on his head, snapped at him.
          “Let’s hurry up and get this done with,” the other guard spoke fearfully, “I do not like the look of this place, whole bands of soldiers have disappeared from these woods.”
          “You do not suppose it was because of dragons, do you? Because that would just be ridiculous…” Zray's voice trailed off when he saw a huge scaly claw a few feet away. His eyes rose up very slowly to see the gigantic creature before him. Zray let out a sudden exclamation of surprise and took a step backwards. He tripped over his own feet and found himself on his back staring up at the largest meat-eating animal he had ever seen.
The dragon was brown with a gold sheen to his scales and had enormous, black, cat-like eyes. The dragon brought his head very close to Zray’s and studied the minstrel with one of his penetrating, onyx eyes.
Zray threw his arms up over his face to protect himself and yelled out franticly, “I’ll give you anything you want! Please do not eat me! I promise I taste terrible!”
          “You needn’t tell me that, I can see it for myself,” the dragon sniffed and pushed Zray with his snout. Zray’s eyes grew wide when he saw six coloured dragons standing behind the first. The minstrel got to his feet and brushed the dust off his coat. He laughed rudely when he saw Sisinta’s guards backing away fearfully from the largest dragons they had ever seen. As the two soldiers scattered in opposite directions, the brown dragon standing over Zray let out a roar and spoke with a thunderous voice, “Catch them! We cannot let them get away and give away our presence!” Two dragons streaked forward and pinned both soldiers down in mid run.
Zray put his hands on his hips and yelled after them, “So now you run! Cowards! Why are you afraid of a few little dragons? I bet you wish you had them on your side, eh?” Zray let out a yelp when he suddenly found himself abruptly pulled off his feet and hanging in the air by the brown dragon’s claws. Zray started yelling and kicking wildly and he let out a scream when, for a split second, he was thrown through the air and suddenly caught hold of by the dragon’s tail.
          “This is not proper behaviour for a dragon!” Zray shouted while beating the dragon’s tail with his fists. The brown scales were thick and the dragon just chuckled at the minstrel’s futile attempts. The dragon spread his majestic wings and leapt into the sky followed by the other dragons, including the two carrying the screeching soldiers in their massive claws.

          I thought you guys might like to see pictures of my dragon knickknacks. Here they are: 

This is a set of tea coasters my friend Sarah made and sent all the way from England.
One is for my husband, one for my daughter and one for me.

This one is my favourite. I found it in a shop while visiting my home town. It cost more than I'd normally spend but I liked it so much that I figured it was worth it. It used to be only painted grey, but I took some nail polish and painted the highlights.

I don't remember exactly how I came by these but I use them all the time when I have tea. I like my tea...and my spoons!

This was a gift from my family, it's snake-like but I like to think of it as a Chinese dragon. The little hammer is used to hit the bell.

This was a pendent I picked up at a garage sale. I added the beads.

This is my husbands. I received his permission to post a picture of it here :) 

Do you have any knickknacks that you are particularly fond of? I'd like to see pictures! Post a link in the comments.