Book Review: The Ice Palace

A beautiful fable for adults. This work has it all: a central character you really care about, descriptions of the setting and places she visits that come alive with meaning, and questions over not only whether she will survive this terrible winter but what will happen to her friend in the end.
The images drawn by the author were fantastical yet always stayed embedded in what might really occur. The danger was real while being heightened by her youthful outlook both because children can fear things they don’t understand and because they ignore risks adults know are extreme.
At the end, the heart of the book blooms. This is the girl’s heart, her way of looking at the world, and the shift that occurs for her because of what has happened to her friend and her friend’s mother. Truly a lovely, almost achingly beautiful work. If I could give this six stars, I would.

New Crime Imprint

Crime novelists Lee Goldberg and Joel Goldman have launched Brash Books with a debut list of 30 titles by award-winning crime novelists. Brash’s books are available through an exclusive partnership with Amazon that offers special marketing opportunities.

They focus entirely on award-winning novels. If you have received an award for an unpublished manuscript, give this imprint a try.

2014 Book Sale Numbers; Children’s/YA Keeps Growing

These numbers just in from the Association of American Publishers:

In the first five months of 2014, total net book sales rose 3.9% over the previous year to $2.652 billion.

The children’s/YA categories continues to soar with sales up 30.5%, to $695.9 million.

Adult fiction and nonfiction fell 3.6%, to $1.726 billion.

Sales of religious presses slipped 0.1%, to $230.2 million.

Total trade e-book sales rose 7% to $669.7 million.

Trade paperbacks were up 6.3%, to $793.4 million.

Trade hardcover sales were down 0.2%, to $867.1 million.

Book Review: The Lace Reader

In many ways, this was a book well worth reading. I feared at first that it would turn out to be a “look at all the witches in Salem” story but discovered a nuanced, well-written book that delves into a woman’s past. The use of an unreliable narrator is always tricky for an author to pull off, and Barry does an exceptional job for the most part. She balances what readers learn through the protagonist with the viewpoints of other characters, all filtered through the protagonist but valid nonetheless.
In addition, the writing itself is of very good quality. That alone kept me reading long enough to give the plotline a chance, and to connect with the main character. I was happy that it kept me reading long enough to care about the woman.
There were moments when it slipped back into too-common cliches, and a few times I thought that if it continued in that vein, I would put it down. But I never abandoned the novel.
The ending was beautifully written, well crafted, and yet it was dissatisfying. Despite all the points that proved the protagonist was unreliable, her total lack of memory concerning her sister simply wasn’t credible. I was disappointed over this but not to the point that I will refuse to read other books by this author. I will seek out her other books to see if she handled them better.

Unique New Sci-Fi/Fantasy Publisher

Agent Steve Laube took over Marcher Lord Press and renamed it Enclave. Enclave Publishing will focus on science fiction and fantasy with a Christian worldview. This fall, they will release five books. “Fiction continues to be a place where creativity and variety have endless capacity, in all genres,” Laube notes.

Is New Adult Only YA + Sex?

New Adult became an official category in 2013 when it received its own Book Industry Standards and Communications Code. The genre is generally considered to be stories that feature primarily college-aged heroines learning to deal with life in their early twenties…with a special emphasis on romance and sex.

While I agree that this category targets primarily female readers between 18 and 25, the YA + Sex idea is too restrictive. Putting aside the idea that sex is usually tied to some emotional response (whether the characters admit it or not), NA is much more than YA + Sex.

Just as YA broke boundaries by working with content that reflected the real coming-of-age struggles of teenagers approaching adulthood, NA can have the same impact. Publishers like Atria went from producing zero NA titles in 2012 to its current goal of releasing 15-20 each year. As the category finds its readers and more publishers move into the arena, NA stories will expand to encompass much more than teen angst plus sex.

Anytime there is a new movement like this in publishing, it’s important to be part of the first wave. Yes, your entry into publishing will be more difficult because publishers (and booksellers) right now are not sure where the category might go. So show them! Send out your unique NA manuscript. Be the first, and reap the rewards by launching your career by leading the way.

 

Book Review: Carry the One

Very well done in terms of writing style and choices, and the concept was interesting. This book follows several people who all feel that they participated in the accidental death of a child. The single night of her death haunts them for twenty years; each handles that event in different ways.
It was very difficult over the first 100 pages and even at points later to remember who was who, though. I struggled to keep track of the individuals, their histories, and the tracks of their lives. That was particularly annoying as I got further into the book. But in the end, I was glad to have read this.