Showing posts with label harmony ink press. Show all posts
Showing posts with label harmony ink press. Show all posts

Thursday, July 7, 2016

[Review] Unicorn Tracks - Julia Ember: Safari, Conspiracies, and Hunting




In UNICORN TRACKS Mnemba and tourist Kara are determined to find out who is hunting down unicorns and sawing off their horns.

What intrigued me: Unicorns and lesbians. Everything I want in life.

Fresh, creative, and fun

The world building is reminiscent of South East African culture, and absolutely spot on. I really enjoyed seeing concepts and setting we don't usually get in fantasy novels and I found them to be very realistic as well. I especially noticed how uncanny Ember's unique approach is - I can't name a single stereotype that I've seen before, this is truly a 100% fresh read with a great concept. From the descriptions, to the writing, to the animals featured, this is so refreshing and new! 

The Nazwimbe savanna is full of mythological animals that tourists from other countries are seeking out for fun. They are all incorporated believably, some with their own little backstories, some without, and I really enjoyed it. I feared that the concept of unicorns would come across as little dorky and strange, but Ember makes it truly feel like an adventurous, fun story. I absolutely loved reading about manticores, phoenixes, and many other mythological creatures you don't often encounter in novels. 

Too Short & too Dense, but worth the read!

The majority of UNICORN TRACKS deals with what's happening to the unicorns, and I do think that it all got resolved way too quickly. While I do like the approach, the idea behind all of it (which is also a very realistic one), the mystery is just missing. Or simply resolved too early. I wanted to guess with the characters, but you won't do that for long because UNICORN TRACKS is written incredibly densely. 

A lot happens in these 180 pages, but in my opinion, squeezing all of it down to this low page count doesn't do the story justice. Especially the lovely f/f romance which is so sweet and tender, could have benefited from a higher page count. Even though Mnemba and Kara's interactions feel genuine and painstakingly adorable, their relationship almost feels instant-love-y because UNICORN TRACKS is so short. 

In general this is my biggest problem with the novel - the density and the low page count make it harder to read than it deserves. The story is great, the characters are great, but it deserves to be longer, have more descriptions added, and even the occasional filler. 


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

UNICORN TRACKS is an incredibly fresh story, with a seldom before seen setting that you don't want to miss. A must-read for fans of f/f and original fantasy.



Additional Info

Published: April 21st 2016
Pages: 180
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9781634768788

Synopsis:
"After a savage attack drives her from her home, sixteen-year-old Mnemba finds a place in her cousin Tumelo’s successful safari business, where she quickly excels as a guide. Surrounding herself with nature and the mystical animals inhabiting the savannah not only allows Mnemba’s tracking skills to shine, it helps her to hide from the terrible memories that haunt her.

Mnemba is employed to guide Mr. Harving and his daughter, Kara, through the wilderness as they study unicorns. The young women are drawn to each other, despite that fact that Kara is betrothed. During their research, they discover a conspiracy by a group of poachers to capture the Unicorns and exploit their supernatural strength to build a railway. Together, they must find a way to protect the creatures Kara adores while resisting the love they know they can never indulge. "
(Source: Goodreads)

Can you recommend some African-inspired fantasy?

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Recommendation: We Awaken - Calista Lynne: Dreamwalking, Asexuality, and Girl Loving Girls





In WE AWAKEN, Victoria meets a beautiful girl in her dreams that bears messages from her comatose brother.

What intrigued me: Asexuality and girl loving girls! Who could say no to that!

Dreamlike and Magical

WE AWAKEN stuns with an incredibly beautiful cover that absolutely suits what you'll find inside. The writing is atmospheric, lyrical, and makes this novel read like a fever dream. Lynne absolutely manages to immerse truly in this fantastically magical story and weaves a dreamy plot through sheer word artistry.

Protagonist Victoria is a lesbian asexual whose dream is to get into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. After her brother and father get into a car accident, the only lifeline she has to her comatose brother is Ashlinn, the novel's equivalent to the sandman. Hearing that a novel features dream sequences usually makes me groan and quite possibly stop reading. But Lynne manages for some unknown reason to fascinate me; may it be for the artistic writing or the brilliance of the lovely girl/girl romance. 

The story sucks you in around the first time the two girls, Victoria and Ashlinn, meet and you'll soon find yourself frantically reading and reading until you'll get to see the two together again. Lynn e doesn't shy away from stating clearly and openly that this is the story of two girl loving asexuals falling in love. To some degree this is a coming out story, but not as much as it is a tale of self-discovery. 

A very quiet love story

WE AWAKEN is a very quiet YA love story. You won't find any dramatic plot twists or action-filled fight scenes in this. To some degree this is the reason why I'm not rating it five stars - I would've loved more plot, more action, more drama. The stakes are a little low, but the story is all the much more lovely and romantic. A sweet love story.

True to the theme, it reads like a dream, but never loses itself in that. Aside from the dream sequences, we get lots of scenes that will ground you in Victoria's reality without losing the magic of the meetings with Ashlinn. Lynne manages to tell a fascinating story with very minimal plot complication and delivers a stunning romance that you won't soon forget. WE AWAKEN will have you  long to meet your own keeper of dreams and fall madly in love like Victoria and Ashlinn.

Rating:


★★★★½☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

WE AWAKEN is a beautifully dreamy story that I can only dearly recommend to lovers of dreamy writing, Gabrielle Zevin, and Maggie Stiefvater's books. If you like wonderfully magical novels that walk the tightrope between fever dream and reality, this is the pick for you.



Additional Info

Published: July 14th 2016
Pages: 180
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Genre: YA / Magical Realism
ISBN: 9781634769969

Buy from Harmony Ink

Synopsis:
"Victoria Dinham doesn’t have much left to look forward to. Since her father died in a car accident, she lives only to fulfill her dream of being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. But soon she finds another reason to look forward to dreams when she encounters an otherworldly girl named Ashlinn, who bears a message from Victoria’s comatose brother. Ashlinn is tasked with conjuring pleasant dreams for humans, and through the course of their nightly meetings in Victoria’s mind, the two become close. Ashlinn also helps Victoria understand asexuality and realize that she, too, is asexual.

But then Victoria needs Ashlinn’s aid outside the realm of dreams, and Ashlinn assumes human form to help Victoria make it to her dance audition. They take the opportunity to explore New York City, their feelings for each other, and the nature of their shared asexuality. But like any dream, it’s too good to last. Ashlinn must shrug off her human guise and resume her duties creating pleasant nighttime visions—or all of humanity will pay the price.
 "(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite book about wlw?

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