February 25, 2015

Book Review: The Sparks

Title: The Sparks
Series: The Feud

Author: Kyle Prue
Genre: Fantasy, YA

I wasn't exactly sure what I was getting into when I agreed to review this book--not only is it a new release, the author is a new face in the fiction world, so I really had nothing but the publisher's information to go on.
What I found when I read the book is that Kyle Prue is a highly talented young writer with an extreme amount of potential. He had the idea for this book when he was sixteen, and now as a senior in high school he's a published author. (I know nothing I dreamed up at sixteen was worth publishing!)
The Sparks is set in the city of Altryon, a place riddled with political tension and turmoil and ravaged by a deadly feud among the families of Taurlum, Vapros, and Celerius. The genre is definitely fantasy, although there is mention of muskets and other firearms being used and the overall feel has slight hints of a historical flavor.
The story focuses mainly on the teenage children of the three feuding families. The author does a fantastic job of keeping the somewhat large cast of characters clearly organized and distinct, which is highly impressive. (I know from experience how hard it is to keep a big cast straight!) Bear in mind, these are teenage children of dysfunctional families who have been feuding, harassing, thwarting, and murdering each other for centuries. The natural result is that the book has a bit of teen angst underlying it. Ordinarily teen angst is a gigantic
turnoff for me, but in this case it was kept very low-key and, as I said, completely natural. Teens in this kind of situation are going to experience angst, it's just a fact. And each character has a unique ability--their own special 'superpower' for lack of a better term--that makes things even more interesting.
The plot itself is complex and fascinating, and the author has done a great job weaving together the individual character arcs while fitting all of them perfectly into the plot progression involving the feud itself, the political environment of the kingdom, and the growing danger that begins to threaten the main characters even more than the feud they are a part of . Not to mention, there is a satisfying number of twists and surprises to keep things interesting. The pacing of the story was perfect--the book kept me turning pages and seemed to fly by in no time.
There is some mild-ish language scattered throughout the book, and a very small amount of mildly suggestive content, so readers should be aware of that.
On the purely technical side of things, this book is printed on very white paper with an ink that is very bold and clear...as long as the light isn't shining directly on it. But when I tried to read with the book laying open on the table and the overhead light shone directly on the page, the ink was actually very shiny and reflective, making it impossible to read the words, which I found highly annoying. So, read it in indirect light or on your Kindle, otherwise you can't actually read it.
I'm not big on making predictions when it comes to things like this, but in this case I'm going to make an exception: Kyle Prue is an author to watch. I love the fact that he is aware and concerned about the tendency among teens, particularly boys, to give up reading when life starts getting busy. His conscious, deliberate efforts to write something that appeals to teens in order to keep them reading is extremely commendable.
I'm not going to say this is one of my favorite books ever, but it's definitely an interesting, engaging read that kept me turning pages start to finish. If you're looking for something different and unique, or looking for an up-and-coming author to watch, check out The Sparks by Kyle Prue.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. A favorable review was not required.

February 2, 2015

Interview and Giveaway at HomeschooledAuthors.com

Hey, all! Just thought I'd let you know that Song of the Wren-Falcon and I are being featured this week over on homeschooledauthors.com with an interview and a book review.
Not only that, we're giving away a signed copy of the book, so be sure to pop 'round and enter for your chance to win!