The Sapphire Flute

I was so excited when Tristi Pinkston approached me about reviewing some of Valor's new books! She let me pick which books I was interested in reading and reviewing, and Karen Hoover's debut novel, The Sapphire Flute, was at the top of the list.

I would like to say that even though Karen is a friend of mine, and I got a free book out the deal and everything, I've tried really hard to be unbiased in my assessment of the book. So that's my disclaimer. :o) Now, on to the review.

The Sapphire Flute is the story of two girls - Kayla and Ember. Both are young women who are just finding themselves. At the beginning of the book, Ember is beginning to discover that she can do magic, and Kayla is given guardianship of a magic flute. Both girls have to fight against the evil C'Tan.

The first thing I noticed about The Sapphire Flute was how compelling the story was. It kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next. Unfortunately, that fell a little short in places, especially near the end. Because of the way the two story lines were interwoven, there were times when I should have been compelled to keep reading, but I wasn't because we had switched to the other story. As I got to the end, I was prepared to stay up until the wee hours of the night because I was so wrapped up in the story. However, because the story switched away from the climax of one of the storylines and back to a storyline that felt resolved at the time, I actually put the book down a few pages in to the chapter and decided to read the rest the next day. So the pacing could have been tighter, especially there at the end.

That's a pretty small complaint, though, compared to how wonderful the book was as a whole. There was so much fun magic throughout this entire book. Between the mages and the spells and the shapeshifting and the warewolves and the dragons, there was always something exciting happening.

The characters were also very well written. I felt I really got to know them, and I thought Hoover did a wonderful job giving each of her two heroines a distinct identity. She also created a very convincing villain.

The Sapphire Flute is only the first in a series of seven books about Rasaan, and it definitely felt wide open for a sequel at the end of the book. However, it didn't leave me hanging on a cliff the way a lot of YA books that are planned series have been doing lately. The conclusion felt satisfying, but I'm also anxious to read more.

Another thing I absolutely loved about The Sapphire Flute is that it's a very clean read. I would have no qualms letting young adults read this young adult book, which is something I wouldn't say about many of them that are coming out these days.

Basically, I'd recommend The Sapphire Flute to just about everyone who loves a good book. Here's a link, in case you'd like to order it off of Barnes and Noble. Happy Reading!

More Kewl Kontests

I spent about 3 seconds trying to come up with a word to replace "more" that I could start with a K, but gave up pretty quickly. Because, really, finding ways to spell things wrong just isn't a good use of my time.

But I did want to blog about some contests going on at Elana's, Suzette and Bethany's, and Kimberly's blogs. Mainly for the extra points I'll get. :-D

Elana's giving away some awesome books signed by the authors, Suzette and Bethany are giving away a partial manuscript critique by Suzette's agent, among a few other kewl prizes, and Kimberly is giving away some of her favorite things, including an autographed copy of her book. So check them out.

I Wrote THE END!

I said this on Facebook last week, but thought I should take the time to write a little announcement here on the blog.

After a full decade of writing books, I have now officially finished a first draft of one of said manuscripts!

The beginning of the end for me actually came in a roundabout way. I sat down to outline what was going to happen for the rest of the book because I was kind of stuck. So I started writing in a stream-of-consciousness fashion, fleshing out dialogue and scenes as they came to me, and going back to more of an outline when they didn't. And suddenly, I knew how it was going to end. So I wrote the final scene. And then I wrote "The End" - what a great feeling!

That last bit needs more re-writing than most of what I write, but that's totally okay with me! I'm a lot better at re-writing than I am at writing anyway. :o)

So with that experience under my belt now, I'm going to go ahead and write the first draft of Free Agents that way. I want to have at least the first draft written by the time I meet with Nephele Tempest at the Storymakers Conference in April. I signed up for a pitch session with her, and that's the book I want to pitch, so it would be good if I have a better idea of how it's going to turn out. So even if the first draft is only a Quasi-Draft, it's better than nothing. I only have 6 weeks, so I better get cracking.