Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Wayfinder by Darcy Pattison

Title: The Wayfinder
Author: Darcy Pattinson
Series: ???
Published: March 1st, 2011
Publisher: Mims House
Pages: 212 (paperback)
I received this book from the author in excange for an honest review.

Young Winchal Eldras is a Wayfinder, one of the gifted few of G'il Rim who have the ability to locate anything: a lost ring, the way home, a blue dress in the marketplace, a lost child. "Finding" is a valuable talent in this city that sits dangerously close to the Rift, a mysterious, unexplored chasm. When the Rift claims his little sister in a bizarre accident, though, Win is reduced to a Wayfinder who's lost his way.

But suddenly there's no time for grief--the plague has come to the Heartland. And only healing water from the Well of Life, on the other side of the Rift, can stop it. A prophecy commands that Win must make the terrible journey to seek the Well. But no one has ever braved the dangers of the Rift and returned to tell about it! To make matters worse, Win suddenly has a traveling companion in Lady Kala, a prized-and royally stubborn--Tazi hound with a few gifts of her own. A Wayfinder with no direction can't possibly manage this imperious creature from the King's kennels, much less save a civilization on the edge of destruction.

Or can he? --Goodreads


The Wayfinder is a fast-paced high fantasy novel, written in the tradition of journey-based fantasy classics like Lord of the Rings. I was surprised how quickly I was able to accept the world and the type of magic it supports. Though the concept of guiding magic is simple, the world building is so convincing (without pages and pages of boring description) that I wonder why no one has done it before. Win himself was an unusual sort of hero, weighed down by loss and guilt with a perspective that I could understand and sympathize with.

Despite the grief, Win’s adventure of self-discovery to overcome said burden is action packed and exciting all the way up until the very end (in between one-eyed giant eagles, killer crocodiles, and killer wolf tribes, how could it not be?). It was the story about a boy and his companion, learning to trust themselves and each other. Even though it was over sooner than I had hoped for (I easily finished it one sitting), it felt completed, with an ending that left me satisfied, morally uplifted, and ready for a sequel. The Wayfinder is one of those books that shouldn’t be overlooked!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Title: Lost Voices
Author: Sarah Porter
Series: Lost Voices #1
Published: July 4th, 2011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 304 (hardcover)
I purchased this book.

What happens to the girls nobody sees—the ones who are ignored, mistreated, hidden away? The girls nobody hears when they cry for help?

Fourteen-year-old Luce is one of those lost girls. After her father vanishes in a storm at sea, she is stuck in a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village with her alcoholic uncle. When her uncle crosses an unspeakable line, Luce reaches the depths of despair. Abandoned on the cliffs near her home, she expects to die when she tumbles to the icy, churning waves below. Instead, she undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid.

A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. The mermaids are beautiful, free, and ageless, and Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: they feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks.

Luce’s own talent at singing captures the attention of the tribe’s queen, the fierce and elegant Catarina, and Luce soon finds herself pressured to join in committing mass murder. Luce’s struggle to retain her inner humanity puts her at odds with her friends; even worse, Catarina seems to regard Luce as a potential rival. But the appearance of a devious new mermaid brings a real threat to Catarina’s leadership and endangers the very existence of the tribe. Can Luce find the courage to challenge the newcomer, even at the risk of becoming rejected and alone once again?

Lost Voices is a captivating and wildly original tale about finding a voice, the healing power of friendship, and the strength it takes to forgive
. --Goodreads


I picked up Lost Voices for two reasons: the first was that I have never read a novel about mermaids, and the second was that plot actually interested me. I mean, a pack of mermaids murdering people at sea? Sounds dark. And the first forty pages of the book were great. Luce seemed like a nice girl and was one that I could sympathize with, even though I’ve never been in her position before. But after she turned into a mermaid, I felt like the novel lost its steam. Not only were action sequences sort of choppy, but Luce became a…dare I say it? A…a…Mary Sue.

As soon as Luce turns into a mermaid and joins her tribe, she becomes close to perfect. She’s good at being a mermaid, even without any training. Her voice is so beautiful that it challenges the skill of her tribe’s leader. The other girls (who sort of blend together as one catty voice) love her and fuss over her and make excuses for her mistakes without even getting to know her­. It was like she could do no wrong.

Now, all these details would be fine and dandy, except that Luce handles them a lot like a pancake; that’s to say, she does a lot of flipping. Honestly, I could never tell if she was happy to be a mermaid or not. In one paragraph, she’s thrilled to have the freedom to swim with baby seals and to have the power to lure boats of people to their death. I found this insanely disturbing because, oh, I dunno, I guess I would have figured that a girl in her position would have more sympathy for an entire boat of people that she accidently murdered. But in the next paragraph (literally), she’d brood over the fact that she becomes excited by the thought of killing people even though she wants to do it again and won’t fight it when the urge comes on. These conflicting emotions prevented me from really getting a lock on who she was after her transformation, at least up until the very end. And even though I understand that some characters need to work out their emotional ambiguity as part of the plot, I just didn’t believe that Luce knew she was conflicted when I was sensing her inner conflict.

Aside from the mixed messages Luce was sending throughout the story, there were elements of the plot that were quite disturbing. The mermaid lore is never really explained, except that young girls turn into mermaids as the result of abuse from other people in their lives. Serious topics when you consider them, except that the ideas are not fully explored in Lost Voices, just skimmed over in casual conversation never to be addressed again. Overall, these topics seemed out of place and sort of inappropriate, especially since the characters didn’t strike me as a group of girls that I should care about since most of them enjoyed their dark power and wanted to abuse it

Would I recommend this book to others? To be honest, no. While the idea has potential, and the writing in certain places is quite poetic, the characters are not fleshed out enough to send a solid message to the reader. Even though a sequel is scheduled to come out next year, I don’t think it’s one that I’ll pick up, unless I hear very, very good things about it.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Author Interview with Julian Rosado-Machain + GIVEAWAY

Hidy-ho there, faeries and gargoyles! Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Julian Rosado-Machain, author of the Guardians Inc. series. Today, Julian is stopping by Oktopus Ink to talk about The Cypher, the first book in the series, and share some stories about his writing. Alrighty, let's get this interview started, shall we? (warning: here there be spoilers.)

Thank you very much Emi, for your review and this interview, two firsts for me!

No problem, Julian, and thanks for joining us. What inspired the Guardian series?

Oh wow, everything and anything that has ever caught my attention. I have ADD… So you can guess that a lot of things have caught my attention through the years. Conspiracy theories, History, Religion, Mythology, Sci-fi, Horror and Fantasy. The real world too. Engineering, Marketing, Biology, Archaeology and I’m especially attracted to Theoretical Physics. (Don’t know why because I understand very little.)

When I began the story it was more of a religious conspiracy theory theme for adults, but it just didn’t ring true to what I wanted to do with the Guardians which, in the end, is just to have fun and explore all those things that caught my attention and that are just floating around in my head.

I know… I sound like a crazy person… I get that a lot.

Haha, I get that a lot too. Is there a reason why you decided to have Thomas work in the Guardian headquarters library? (Which is awesome, by the way.)

Thank you! I think Pervagus Library is awesome too!

Because of his Cypher powers, Thomas can read any language and crack any code. The Pervagus Library is the heart of Guardians Inc. It is the depository of almost the sum total of human knowledge through history so it is the perfect place for a Cypher to work. He has access to everything and is exposed to all the knowledge that will help him make decisions on how to steer humanity once he finds The Book of Concord.That is the Guardians Inc. plan, at least, and they have to keep him close by.

I also find Libraries to be some of the most under appreciated buildings ever. A trip to the library is most of the time equated to boredom, and it is quite the opposite! There’s a reason why libraries were at the heart of all ancient civilizations. In the end, knowledge is the most important legacy we can leave to the next generation.

What would you do if you had access to some of the books that Thomas finds for clients at his job?

I would go crazy! Definitely nuts! Imagine getting to read Shakespeare’s first drafts, or Lord Byron’s love letters. You only need to do a quick “Lost books” search on the internet to check out all that has been lost, and not only in ancient times but also as recently as with Phillip K. Dick, Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce. And there’s more than just literature!

What artist wouldn't study Mozart’s tuning exercises or Van Gogh’s dabbles? Notes passed between Napoleon and his generals during Waterloo? Einstein’s musings? Area 51’s diagrams and inventory lists?

Go a step further: I love Jules Verne works, especially Capt. Nemo. Well, Pervagus Library has the “unpublished” adventures there, along with four more musketeer books by Alexander Dumas.

You can imagine that it also contains all the things you would love to read. It’s all there, in Pervagus Library, along with your blogs and interviews and my outlines and grocery lists. Don’t worry though; Mrs. Pianova keeps all prying eyes away from those really personal and sensitive things.

EPIC. I wish I had access to Pervagus’ catalogue. I don’t think I’d ever leave. Anyway, how long have you been writing, and what is like writing in a language that isn’t your first?

I’ve been writing since I was 13. But in Mexico, Sci-fi and Fantasy weren’t really viable for new writers so I had to learn English in order to write to an audience. I’m 41. It took me long enough.

The actual writing process for me is very draining. I write down the first words that come to mind and then double check the meaning to see that what I wrote down makes sense. Then I use a dictionary, and then a thesaurus. Then I have very good friends that read and re-read the first, second and third drafts and point out the mistakes, especially in descriptions and meaning of the paragraphs. A single word sometimes changes what I wanted to say in a paragraph! It is frustrating sometimes.

After that, I send the best draft I believe I have to my editor Allison Itterly. You should see the notes she sends back! Even after all drafts, friends, and word processors, the corrections she sends me back almost require a complete rewrite.

Wow, sounds like a long process! You mentioned a few books already, but when you’re not writing what do you like to read?

Any and all from Jules Verne and Alexander Dumas. Les Pardaillan by Michel de Zevaco, Lord of the Rings, Dune, Harry Potter, Ender’s Game, Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft stories.

I also read a lot of Mythology and History. The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant is one of the most entertaining series of books I’ve ever read. It was a great source of inspiration.

The Guardians website is just as entertaining to browse as it is to read the book. The artwork is gorgeous. How did you set that up? How long did it take?

I own a restaurant in San Diego, and if you allow a little cross marketing right here check it out at: But I also have a degree in graphic design. I left Mexico and all my friends back there 11 years ago, then Facebook came and I re-connected with my good friend, Francisco Trueba who owns a graphic design agency. He read the draft I had locked in a drawer and loved it, so he took over the image for Guardians Inc. and we are now partners in other upcoming books. For example, The Man in the Trench Coat is a character from Guardians Inc. that inspired an interactive children’s book for the Ipad, which is going to be released, hopefully, in the next few months.

Francisco’s website is should anyone want to check him out. All in all it took us about 8 months to plan the images and the website from mock-ups and sketches.

Did you do any research to support your story?

Tons and tons, because the nature of Guardians Inc. is about a company and secret society weaving itself through history. I made the decision to have as much of the story line, places, and characters based on real historical, geographical locales and figures as possible, and to make the effort of supporting it with as much technical and scientific fact as I could. Even the little details, for example: Jean Luc the grotesque tells Thomas that the Mage that created them was Phillibert Le Roy.Well, Phillibert Le Roy was an architect that lived in the 17th century and helped design Versailles. The book is full of details and allusions like that. Little tips of the hat to writers, artists and historical figures I admire. Another example: Tony is a descendant of Piero della Francesca, one of the great painters of the Renaissance, Doctor Franco is… someone that will be revealed in another book. Also, The Great A’tuin from Terry Pratchett’s wonderful Discworld series makes a little appearance in The Cypher, although not by name.

What are you working on right now?

Because of all the things I want to write about, like you’ve pointed out, a dash of science fiction, a dash of fantasy, I knew Guardians Inc. couldn’t be just one book. So I wrote an outline covering 7 years from beginning to end of the Guardians Inc. story.
The Cypher is roughly the first year. There are things in it that set up the second and the third book of the series and so on.

At this moment, I’m fleshing out the second book (Guardians Inc.: Thundersword), and working on chapters of the third and fourth. I’m also finishing both The Man in the Trench Coat and Book of Beasts while grilling some beef fajitas and warming up tortillas for table 122.


Wonderful answers, Julian! Very entertaining. :) Thanks again for joining us here on Oktopus Ink.

In addition to stopping by the blog, Julian has given me an extra *signed* copy of his book, Guardians Inc.: The Cypher. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends September 4th. On Sunday, I'll pick the winners using and announce them here on my blog. Open to US residents only. (sorry international readers!)

For those of you who are interested in learning more about The Cypher and the Guardians Inc. series, please check out Julian's website at It's epic!

The Bronze and the Brimstone by Lory S. Kaufman

Title: The Bronze and the Brimstone
Series: The Verona Trilogy
Published: June 7th, 2011
Publisher: The Fiction Studio
Pages: 336 (paperback)
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

What could go wrong in the 14th-century
for three time-traveling teens?
How about – EVERYTHING!

Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln, three teens from the 24th-century, are trapped in 14th-century Verona, Italy. They’ve survived many deadly experiences by keeping their wits about them and by introducing futuristic technology into the past. Principal among these inventions is the telescope, which brought them to the attention to the rich and powerful.

But standing out can get you into unexpected and dangerous situations. The nobles of Verona now believe Hansum is a savant, a genius inventor, especially after he brings them plans for advanced cannons and black powder. Being the center of attention is great, but the potential for trouble is now exponentially greater because people are watching Hansum’s every move.

Meanwhile, artistic genius Shamira has fallen for a Florentine artist with bloody and disasterous consequences. Lincoln, considered an incompetent back home in the 24th-century, has blossomed – at least until he’s shot in the head with an arrow. And Hansum, after secretly marrying his new master’s beautiful daughter, Guilietta, is offered the hand in marriage of lady Beatrice, daughter of the ruler of Verona. To refuse could mean calamity for all the teens.

Amazingly, none of this is their biggest challenge. Because a rash illness is spreading across Verona – and it is threatening to consume everyone.

Do they have a future in this past?

As far as sequels go, The Bronze and the Brimstone was a solid A. After a somewhat misleading dream sequence, the story picks up right where The Lens and the Looker left off. Hansum and the gang are still working in the shop, living the good life (or as good as life can get for three teenagers trapped in the past), making lookers for their reigning lord. But when Hansum is asked to move into the palace, he’s thrown into a world governed by political relationships, religious loyalty, and lies. While we don’t learn much more about the gang’s past lives in the future, it was nice to see them mature in the past as they work towards maintaining a comfortable lifestyle with their new family. Again, we see them accomplish this by bringing in new technology—this time, a deadly cannon with the ability to rewrite the history of war.

A good chunk of the book is dedicated to experimenting and constructing the cannon. Though it sounds like the reading could get tedious, the plot moves along smoothly, with enough fiction and drama to balance the historic/scientific details. I think the majority of the credit for this can be given to Hansum’s and Gui’s clandestine relationship. Even though I still didn’t see the chemistry between them (they don’t spend a lot of time together, despite the fact that they are *spoiler alert* married), the risk of exposure increased the complexity of the relationships in the plot, and Hansum’s family was forced to constantly act like they were walking on glass.

Overall, The Bronze and the Brimstone was a much better sequel than I could have hoped for. It was complex, thrilling, educational, with a cast of characters that just continues to grow on the reader until the very end. My only complaint is that the tagline on the cover of the book (“Can he get back IN TIME to save her?”) is sort of misleading…It feels like more of a spoiler for book three, not what book two is really about.


P.S. For my review of The Lens and the Looker, click HERE!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

OI Updates: Button, Tumblr, and More!

Hidy-ho thar, readers! I hope everyone has had a good summer so far (despite the hurricane and earthquakes and stuff). I know I have, which is why things have been sort of slow around DA BLOG for the last few months. In between travelling to Italy, taking summer school Italian 101 (which was much harder than any 101 class should ever be), going to Harry Potter World (pics below), selling my house and moving into a new one on campus, I haven’t had time to read much of anything, let alone write reviews (sadly). But now that I’m settled in, things will return to normal and I'll be updating more frequently with reviews, giveaways, and interviews. In fact, there'll be a few giveaways announced this week, and an interview or two to boot. So, with that said, onto some news.


So I realized roughly an hour ago that I’ve been blogging for more than a year now. The realization came two months too late, but hey, better late than never, right? So to celebrate, I’m going to arrange an extra super special cotton candy filled giveaway. Details to come soon, and no, there won’t actually be cotton candy, but the prizes should be epic anyway. SO STAY TUNED.


OmgIfinallyhaveabutton. Can you believe it? I’ve only been talking about making a button since…er…New Year’s. It can be found in the sidebar, towards the bottom of the blog. So feel free to link me! I’d really appreciate it if you did.


I jumped on the bandwagon and made a tumblr. There isn’t much on it now, just some Harry Potter pictures and nerd stuff, but I plan on using it more often from now on. The link can also be found on the sidebar, but if you’re lazy and don’t want to find the button, you can click this LINK instead. Follow me and I'll follow you! I could always use more posts in my Dashboard. Tumblr is an amazing time waster. It's the new Facebook!

Anyway, that’s all the news I have for now, so have some pictures of my friends and I at Harry Potter World. Oh, wait, one last thing: did anyone else get into Pottermore? I can't wait until they start letting us Beta test stuff!