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Guest Post: T.E. Carter

I don’t remember when I became interested in telling stories. I almost feel like it’s just part of my DNA. My earliest memories are of books, plays, movies, etc. When I was only three, my aunt and uncle took me to see my first Broadway show, and that resulted in my reenactment of the play for months to follow. I’ve always loved making things up, which is only generally acceptable in storytelling!

Growing up, writing was something I did for myself. I can’t say I ever really saw myself as a writer or that I ever believed I’d be an author, because I wasn’t writing for any reason because I had to do it. I needed to get all the ideas out of my head and onto paper.

When I first decided I wanted to do something with my writing, I wasn’t ready. I finished a novel and although I spent a significant amount of time on critique groups and editing, I didn’t have the ability yet to filter out feedback and so the novel was a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster of a story. It was five people’s different takes on how the story should go and as a result, it was beyond unwieldy. For someone who tends to write short, it’s kind of funny to me to see this 130K word monster on my hard drive.

From there, I continued to write but I wasn’t really sure what I envisioned that to mean for me personally. Writing was a compulsion, but publishing was just a fantasy. From time to time, I would submit something to a magazine or query an agent, but I felt like I was spinning my wheels and I wasn’t active enough to say that I was pursuing publication.

Eventually, I did take the leap – and I failed miserably. I’m not ashamed to admit it, because the end result was better writing and a stronger sense of what mattered to me as a writer. I’ve completed somewhere between 15 and 20 novels to date (because some were merged with others and some are in a questionable state of completeness, I do have a hard time settling on a real number with any accuracy). Of those, I queried five before my 2018 YA debut. One was the Frankenstein’s monster novel, because I was naïve! After that, it was almost 15 years before I tried again. When I started querying this time, I found varying levels of success. One novel yielded no results, two received a lot of partial requests and some small successes but nothing of any significance, and one actually got a number of requests but eventually, it was shelved because it didn’t resonate with anyone. By this point, my passion for writing had started to wane as well and I realized I’d become so focused on the wrong things. I didn’t love it anymore, and so I walked away from writing.

For several months, I wrote nothing down. I couldn’t even find that part of myself that drove me to tell stories. But sooner or later, it caught its spark again and while I wasn’t ready to start writing yet, I did find myself thinking more about ideas. After about a year, I began drafting some chapters and concepts. It wasn’t the same focused and determined writing I’d become accustomed to, but I had started to lose myself in words again and for that, I was grateful. It helped me to put the rest aside and a few months after that, I had decided that I would write because I needed to and publication would not be a part of my journey.

When I finished I STOP SOMEWHERE, I knew something was special about it. It was the first story I remembered writing with no strings attached. For the last few years, every word I’d written had carried with it the weight of the long-term and big picture approach. Was this marketable? Would an agent or publisher like it? Was it “good enough?” With this novel, though, I didn’t care about those things when drafting– because I had no intention of publishing it. Once it was done, however, I felt like maybe it was worth taking one last chance on my dreams. I told no one and I began the next steps toward that process, finally sending it out to a pool of agents in late February 2016.

In less than 24 hours, I already had a request and I signed with my agent just over a week later – after having a number of agents read and request. It was a whirlwind and then, I had an offer from a publisher in three weeks. I hadn’t expected such a quick turnaround since the content is dark and I know the book straddles a weird line between YA and adult fiction, so I wasn’t sure how it would work from a publisher’s standpoint. Clearly, I was wrong, though, and now I have another two titles contracted with the same publisher.

The biggest thing this taught me was not about following your dreams or persevering in the face of adversity, despite that being the takeaway to some degree. What this experience taught me was that passion needs to come first. When writing no longer held that same joy for me, I needed to walk away and I resolve to do that if it happens to me again in the future. I STOP SOMEWHERE was the result not of determination, but of reigniting my love for a story and my commitment to telling the story I wanted to tell regardless of outside feedback, publishing chances, or the likelihood of success. I also feel that my focus on writing for myself and for the pure love of it has allowed me to create something that resonates, far more than worrying about writing for approval.

As a result, I am prouder of this novel than of anything I’ve ever written previously. Not because it’s the one that yielded the most external success, but because it provided me with the most internal satisfaction and joy to create.

First autumn frost on Stinging Nettle leaves - France  -  -  -

Bio:

 

TE Carter was born in New England and has pretty much lived in New England her entire life (minus a few years in high school). She still lives in New England with her husband and their two cats. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found reading classic literature, playing Xbox, organizing her comic collection, or binge-watching baking competitions.

 

Social Links:

 

Website: http://tecarter.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/tecarter7

Instagram: http://instagram.com/tecarterbooks

Facebook: http://facebook.com/tecarterbooks

 

Book Info:

 

I STOP SOMEWHERE

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan (North America – 2/27/18)

Simon & Schuster UK (UK – April 2018)

 

Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

 

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn’t need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

 

But when the unthinkable happens, Ellie finds herself trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn’t the first victim and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

 

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

 

TE Carter’s stirring and visceral debut not only discusses and dismantles rape culture, but it makes you slow down and think about what it is to be human.

 

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29751533-i-stop-somewhere

Purchase Pages:

North America: http://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250124647

UK: http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/I-Stop-Somewhere/T-E-Carter/9781471167782

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Hey all. Got a review for you, this one’s from my library and is kind of a throwback to last year. Enjoy!

Places No One Knows cover

Waverly Camdenmar’s life is perfect academically, socially, even her extracurriculars. Her life is utterly perfect, except that she hasn’t slept in days and instead spends all night running to escape herself. Marshall Holt’s life has been falling apart for years. His family can’t stand each other. His friends are bellow the bottom of the social latter. He’s close to not graduating. But he doesn’t care, he drinks and smokes and utterly wrecks himself with how much he doesn’t care. He’d never be good enough for Waverly anyway. But then one night she dreams herself into his room, his life, and nothing can stay the same. She can change in her dreams, but is Marshall worth risking everything she’s built?

Places No One Knows, by Brenna Yovanoff, isn’t my standard fare by any means. I started it back when I worked at the book store and finished it because I’d started it. It is very much a teen romance, but one that’s got some other stuff going on. The other stuff is what kept me going and held my interest.

See, both of our leads have pretty serious issues that they either can’t talk about or just don’t want to acknowledge. Marshall’s home life is terrible and he feels like a failure because he can’t not be bothered by it, so he self medicates. That leads to him being an academic failure and everything cycles back around. He has feelings and wants to help people, but doesn’t know where to start or how to help himself.  The flipside to Marshall is Waverly, the popular girl with the fantastic grades and the best times on the track team. Waverly who isn’t good at social cues or actually dealing with people despite being able to read them like it’s nothing. Who feels robotic and memorizes all manner of trivia to distract herself from her own faults. Waverly who runs until her feet bleed and she can’t think anymore to escape her own mind and the concerns that her life isn’t what it should be. These two I find interesting because they don’t feel standard, but I wish Waverly’s issues had been gone into a little more deeply. She feels like she didn’t get a full character arc and, while this would usually be a positive, the book leaves a lot of room for her to back slide massively and let everything fall to pieces.

In light of both the sheer amount of character stuff going on, and my own lack of interest in romance plots, I would have liked to seen less of the romance and more of Marshall and Waverly figuring their stuff out. Marshall gets a fair amount of this and we see him making efforts to pull himself out of his issues. Not so much with Waverly, she stays pretty entrenched in her belief that she’s somehow broken until the book’s climax. But that doesn’t feel right for her as a character, she moves by inches throughout the book unwilling to admit that she needs anything and unable to meet most people at an emotional level, but then all the sudden there’s this big character moment and things are fixed? It doesn’t fit for me.

I also find myself wishing that there was more with the minor characters. Waverly and her social group have this whole Mean Girls thing going on with a strict hierarchy and unspoken rules. But then along comes Autumn, the social outsider, to shake things up because she’s bored. I would have liked to have seen more of the fallout from that, instead of it being fast forwarded through for magic candle romance stuff.

Ultimately Places No One Knows isn’t a book for me. It has some really interesting character stuff, but then also a romance that feels unnecessary and forced. There’s fantastic ideas, but subpar follow trough. It’s the kind of book that I finished and shrugged, because it ended the way it had too but without resolving a lot of character issues. I didn’t dislike it, but I also wouldn’t read it again, so it winds up with a three out of five.

September Display

I’m still getting used to reviewing things that aren’t books, but I’m back with September’s Too Much Monday box. I’m really enjoying the service so far. This month is fairly fall themed with richly flavored caramels, a crisp apple sage candle, and warm mellow chocolate praline tea. I think my favorite things this month were the caramels and the candle, and both are stand out good compared to other similar things I’ve tried before.

The apple sage candle burns really well. It’s one of the ones with a wooden wick, which isn’t something I’ve gotten a chance to try before, so that’s cool. The smell is fairly light and sweet, more apple than sage. It’s more fresh apples than the more apple pie scents I usually find. I’m also really happy with the look of the container, it’s a clear patterned glass that kind of puts me in mind of some of the glassware my parents have and looks good in my work space. I would definitely get this kind of candle again.

This month’s chocolate hazelnut praline tea has a really mellow flavor, like I mentioned before, and a fantastic scent. On its own it doesn’t have a particularly strong chocolate flavor, more of a warm cherry probably a side effect of the hazelnut praline. That’s not something that surprises me much, chocolate is kind of a hard flavor to get right in something like tea. That changes a great deal when you add milk or half and half though. The flavor stays mellow but the creaminess from the milk helps bring out the chocolate notes. It’s worth trying and then trying again.

I do feel like having the caramels with the tea would be bad, the caramels have a much stronger flavor and would leave the tea feeling bland. So that’s a thing to note. True to their name, the McRea’s Dark Roast Mocha caramels have a really good coffee flavor without a lot of bitterness. They’re smooth and deeply enjoyable and rich enough that I can eat one and be satisfied. Plus, it looks like the company makes a number of other caramel flavors, so if those are as good as these were I may have found nifty treats for me and gifts for friends and family.

Lavender Champagne bathbomb

One of the big things I was not expecting was the bath bomb’s scent. It had been listed as Creamsicle, but when it arrived was Lavender Champagne. That said, it was fantastic both in that it smelled wonderful and left the water feeling super silky and decadent. Plus, since it wasn’t meant to be split apart, I wound up using the whole thing and it fizzed for a really long time which felt nice.

Reviewing this month’s box reminded me of how long it had been since I painted my nails. The Essie polish goes on smoothly and dries quickly. I only used two coats, but that resulted in a nicely even red. The color is vibrant which is a pleasant surprise, I was expecting something softer, but the red I received appeals to me.

The only thing in this month’s box that I wasn’t super into was the Zoya Hot Lips lip gloss. While it is super moisturizing, which is great for this time of year, it also left my lips feeling sticky. There was also a scent to it that I couldn’t quite place beyond it being sweet.

This month’s box is full of my kind of things, which is great and leaves me very much looking forward to what’s coming next. We’re getting into fall and Halloween season, so I’m wondering where Too Much Monday will go with their next box. If you’re interested, you can check out their website here and use the coupon code Tympest to get 15% off your first box.

Too Much Monday September Unboxing

So, this is a thing I’m trying. I got my Too Much Monday box earlier than I’d expected, so I decided to go ahead and try this. My review for the box contents will be up Monday, words will happen. As always, if you want to try out the Too Much Monday subscription, using the coupon code Tympest will get you 15% off your first box. All that said, welcome to my first unboxing video, enjoy!

 

Guest Post: Tom Doyle

Hey all, I’ve got a guest post for you today from an author who’s been on here once before. You can find that post here. I’ve read the first book in his War and Craft trilogy and enjoyed it enough to track down a copy for my younger cousin. So, that said, enjoy!

To Say Farewell: On Concluding a Trilogy

Three years ago, I found a lump on my throat while shaving. The timing seemed particularly perverse–after years of struggle, my first novel, American Craftsmen, would soon be published. The launch party for the book should’ve been one of the happiest moments in my life; instead, I had a growing certainty that my days were numbered. Within days of the party, my diagnosis and existential dread were confirmed: cancer, and it had spread to the lymph nodes in my neck.

For a child of the ‘70s like me, raised on terminal disease tear-jerkers like Brian’s Song, that should have been the beginning of the end of my story. I was ready to say my farewells.

Instead, somewhat to my embarrassment, a combination of Star Trek technology and medieval unpleasantness has cured me. By cured, I mean it’s now over 99% more likely that something other than that particular cancer will kill me. With whiplash force and the mildest touch of PTSD, I went from a rapidly narrowing horizon of time to a vista of many years.

What does this have to do with completing a trilogy about magician-soldiers and psychic spies? Plenty. When I was diagnosed, I’d already submitted the second book, The Left-Hand Way, to my editor. My only bucket list item wasn’t travel or a new experience; it was finishing book three, War and Craft. I had visions of writing to the very end, like Ulysses S. Grant with his memoirs as his throat cancer strangled him.

However, unlike what many former patients say, cancer didn’t so much change my worldview as reinforce my existing one. I’ve always had some awareness that my grip on life and creative work is tenuous and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Also, we’re a society of first impressions, but cancer reminded me that how we say good-bye can be just as important, particularly when good-bye is all that’s left.

If I have one new lesson from my cancer experience, it’s this: what a great gift it is to end things appropriately.

Other authors and fans seem to have issues with the problem of mortality. Readers worry that, like Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin will not finish his series before ill-health or age permanently intervenes. The response to those pestering Martin that “He’s not working for you” is more false than true. As Bob Dylan pointed out, whether we like it or not, we’ve all got to serve somebody. Or to rephrase in the starkest terms of the Game of Thrones worldview, all men must die is intrinsically connected to the idea that all men must serve. In the end, we all must serve the one true god whose name is Death. Those that tell Martin to take as much time as he likes may be enabling artistic failure.

On the other end of the spectrum, some readers don’t care about endings–they would rather a series continue forever. This tends to be an immersive style of reader, who simply wants more and more subcreation within the fictional world. But that’s never been my goal, mostly because, with the possible exception of Middle Earth and all its backstory and author’s notes, I don’t enjoy reading that sort of endless series. Instead, I’ve brought my story to the definite conclusion I wanted. I’ve left some room for reader imagination of what happens next in the craftspeople universe; readers don’t need me for that anymore. But the story this trilogy had to tell is done.

Knowing that the larger narrative would be a trilogy gave me a helpful framework and limit. What this meant structurally is that each of my novels has a standalone plot told from a different craftsperson’s point of view–that character being the one who changes the most in the course of the novel–but there’s also a set of trilogy arcs that I’ve brought to a full resolution. The trilogy structure also gave me a surprise. If there’s a main trilogy character–again, the character that changes the most over the course of the series–it’s not any of the main protagonists of the individual books. See if you can guess who I think that is.

For those readers who’d like to see more about the craftspeople, I offer the following: there’s no bar to me returning to that universe, particular for short excursions, and I’d enjoy chatting with you about various aspects of their world. Also, if I ever return to it in longer form, I think that future book will benefit from the pause.

So, ave atque vale, craftspeople. Hail and farewell. Thank you for being the unfinished business that tethered me to earth when it seemed I might be the one departing. Also, thank you, readers, for coming with me on these journeys, both the one in the books and the personal one I’ve just told you about.

#

Tom Doyle is the author of a contemporary fantasy trilogy from Tor Books. In the first book, American Craftsmen, two modern magician-soldiers fight their way through the legacies of Poe and Hawthorne as they attempt to destroy an undying evil–and not kill each other first. In the sequel, The Left-Hand Way, the craftsmen are hunters and hunted in a global race to save humanity from a new occult threat out of America’s past. In the third book, War and Craft (Sept. 2017), it’s Armageddon in Shangri-La, and the end of the world as we know it.

Some of Tom’s award-winning short fiction is collected in The Wizard of Macatawa and Other Stories. He writes in a spooky turret in Washington, DC. You can find the text and audio of many of his stories on his website, http://www.tomdoylewriter.com.

Project Pandora

And I’m late again. Thanks for sticking with me folks. This one was kind of hard to get done, so that wasn’t fun. Right, so the review of the week is thanks to the nice folks at entangled teen. This is Project Pandora. Enjoy!

Project Pandora cover

Apollo switched back to Tyler in the middle of a job, something that shouldn’t have been possible. Tyler’s aware of his burner phone, though not its implications. He doesn’t know about the second life in the shadows of his everyday, not until it starts bleeding through. Not even when he realizes that the girl he’s crushing on has a phone just like his. They’ll have to learn quickly, find out what’s at the core of Project Pandora, before they’re tracked down and reprogrammed.

Aden Polydoros’ first novel, Project Pandora, is not a book that would find itself in my top or bottom ten for this year. This is one of those books that, it’s not bad but it also isn’t memorable. There are a lot of solid ideas here and I feel like the book could have been really good with a little more refining. In short, it feels very much like a solid first book.

The official blurb promises action and mystery, danger. While the book itself takes a very slow burn approach to its plot. That’s not in and of itself a bad thing and, in all fairness, in a more solidly plotted book could have been a fantastic way to flesh out the characters. Here it winds up dragging on and feeling like padding. We get these scenes of our characters going about their regular student lives and having their YA romance stuff going on, and it isn’t bad but it also winds up feeling disconnected from the plot really quickly. I feel like if more had been done with their programming breaking down earlier in the book it would have been better and could have lead to more of the mystery that was promised in the blurb. As it stands, the Project Pandora stuff is mostly carried by one character and, since he’s got no other life, it doesn’t really give use any build. That more wasn’t done with that side plot is really disappointing, that was one of the more promising ideas presented.

That’s where a lot of my apathy about Project Pandora comes from. There’s a lot of good ideas for the plot and characters both, but those ideas are fumbled in the writing itself. We have these two pairs of characters, the nice young folks who don’t realize they’re assassins and the beauty and the beast pair who have this instant attraction for each other. We follow all four of these characters, which winds up both killing any mystery that could have happened and leads to a lot of overlap in storytelling. There are so many ways this could have been taken and built upon, but what we got was a lot of teens pining after one another and stressing over high school stuff plus Hades’ issues. The ideas were there and so were the bones of a good story, but they weren’t fleshed out well.

I have very few feelings about this book beyond wishing that the author had done just a little more with it or refined it more. Part of this might be that Project Pandora suffers from being the first in a series, maybe some stuff was left out on purpose so it can be filled in later. Part of it might be that this is the author’s first book and he’ll improve with more practice. Either way it gets a three out of five. I might give Aden Polydoros’ next novel a shot, but this one didn’t impress me.

House Keeping 9/12/17

So, I’ve got my computer cord back. That’s good but only moderately relevant to tomorrow’s review.

I’ve got a guest post coming up on Friday for you guys and another one next week. So that’s awesome.

Not a ton else just at the moment. The Too Much Monday‘s boxes for September ship out on the 15th, so now is as good a time to subscribe as any if you want to lock in September’s box. My affiliate code Tympest will get you 15% off your first box.

I think I want to try doing an unboxing video to go either with or a little before my review for the next box. That could be fun.

Still planning for Halloween. I have a couple of ideas that I’m working out, so there may be more on that next week.

House Keeping 9/7/2017

So, I missed this last week and am late on it this week. Good thing I’m covering it now, right?

So, I’m looking at doing a monthly comic review. Though I haven’t decided between if I want to pick up something new from a pull list or if I want to see what’s in the clearance section of the local book store. Clearance comics is definitely a thing I’ve been juggling as a thought for awhile now, but I’m not sure how sustainable it is. The flip side to that is that I most definitely plan on reviewing the new Ghostbusters ongoing as it’s released. So, this may wind up being a some of both thing.

Still working my way through the backlog, I’m about half way there. So that’s good. I’m hoping to be finished with it soon and be ready to get some newer stuff on here.

I’m also still trying to figure out what to do for Halloween. My original plan had been to try and find some of the old Final Destination books and review them, but they’re out of print and hilariously out of my price range. If it wasn’t for a similar issue I would try and find some of the old World of Darkness novels, since I’m legitimately curious about how well the system would work in novel format.

Also, the September Too Much Monday box is still 50% off of your first box with the coupon code: Tympest. That lasts until the 10th. That makes the first box fifteen dollars instead of thirty, so a little better for trying it out and seeing if you’re interested. The September box includes, in addition to the monthly book pick: A sage apple soy candle, McCrea’s Chocolate Hazelnut Praline Tea, McCrea’s Dark Chocolate Mocha Caramels, a Creamsicle bath bomb, Zoya Hotlips Lip Gloss, and Nail Polish. It seems like it’s going to be a really autumn themed box, so I’m excited.

I have an actual reason it’s late this week! I messed up and left my laptop charger in Opelika after visiting for Labor Day, so I can’t get to the original file for this because the battery is dead. So, I’m rewriting it all in one go here because my gaming rig lacks word. This’ll be fun. This one is thanks to the nice folks at First Second publishing, this is Mighty Jack and the Goblin King. Enjoy!

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King cover

Jack’s sister Maddy was taken by an ogre. He was supposed to be keeping an eye on her, but she was taken anyway. Now it’s up to Jack and his friend Lilly to save Maddy before she’s fed to something known as the beast. But stories are never that simple and the goblin king in the kingdom below is as mighty as Jack and might be the ally he needs to save his sister and get home.

Ben Hatke’s Mighty Jack and the Goblin King is the second part of his Mighty Jack duology, so I am missing a bit of the story. That isn’t a huge problem though, the story does a good job of standing on its own and most of the references to the previous book can be hand waved as semi-standard fairy tale ingredients. Magic plants definitely fit a Jack story after all.

This is a very quick read, not a bad thing, but the story is enjoyable and I liked the characters. I would have actually liked to have seen more of them together, but I feel like that’s a side effect of missing the first book. Just a reason to try and find it.

Lilly gets separated from Jack fairly early on so, while he’s trying to plan how to save Maddy from the giants, she’s dealing with the goblins and their king. It kind of leaves the scenes with Jack feeling like they’re holding time until the goblin king comes to help save the day. That’s not really a complaint though, even as short a time as we saw the goblins’ hide out was cool and I like the idea of there being trash from every world in the under relm of a multiversal nexus. It’s a nifty idea.

The story is fairly straightforward and the art complements that. It’s fairly simple and a bit cartoony, but nicely emotive and it does a good job expressing what’s going on without feeling choppy. Again, the goblins are my favorite because they don’t seem to have any kind of uniform features while also being immediately identifiable as goblins. The colors are vibrant, the creature designs are fun and remind me a bit of Labyrinth, I very much enjoyed the art here.

So, what’s the verdict? I had fun with this comic from page one to the end and, while I have a few issues with the very end that’re probably more to do with having not read the first one, I don’t have any major  complaints. I’m giving Mighty Jack and the Goblin King a five out of five. It’s good and I’m likely to jump at the chance to review Hatke’s work again if I get the chance.

Frost

Not much to blurb about today. It’s quiet in my neck of the woods and that’s pretty ok. I did wind up cutting several things from today’s review for spoilery reasons. So, if you all are cool with tagged spoilers in the reviews, let me know in the comments. Today’s book is courtesy of the nice folks at Scholastic. Here’s Frost. Enjoy!

Frost cover

At sixteen Frost has never been outside the apartment she grew up in, and with good reason, the world outside is a hunting ground for ravenous cannibals and robots gone rogue. It hasn’t been a safe place to live since before she can remember. She needs to leave though. Her pet, Romes, is dying and she can’t bear to see him in pain. Even as the memories of her father try to hold her back, to keep her in her safe prison with the family robot for company and protections, she knows she has to leave and save the only living thing left to her. She grew up on stories about the utopia at the other end of the city, the Battery, where all the science that’s been lost still exists. With Bunt’s help she might be able to make it.

So, M. P. Kozlowsky’s Frost is an odd book. I mean that in a lot of ways. Part of this comes from the fact that Frost feels very much like the first book in a series rather than a standalone novel. It builds slowly for a good two thirds of its page count, then crams in a ton of stuff that could be pay off but that also feels like set up for next time. This book is kind of a mish mash of ideas, so it can be a little difficult to separate them all out.

Let’s start there though. This book is a mess of ideas that could be really cool but then don’t really go anywhere. There’s too many separate threats and concepts for the time spent on any of them. We get a lot about Frost’s feelings and several imaginary flashbacks to before everything fell apart, but not a ton of world building. For example, the Days of Bedlam are the in world name for whatever happened to lead to the current world. It involved robots. That’s about all I know about it from reading the book. Building on that could have been a great way to show more of the world and to explain some of the other stuff. The cannibalistic Eaters, the Broot, the rogue robots, even the climate being messed up all seems to stem from this one set of events. How? It’s mostly waved away as people going too far and it blowing up in their faces, but that’s not satisfying and ,again, leads to this feeling like the start of a series.

There’s also not a lot going on here in the character department. Frost is our ingénue main character innocent, naïve, and just out to save her pet but she doesn’t really seem to change or grow in the course of the book. She’s out in the world for the first time in her life, finds out all this life changing stuff, deals with some seriously messed up situations, but then at the end she’s not a more mature character or more aware. She’s still desperately searching for the same thing she was at the beginning of the book and with not a lot of change in the tone of it.

But she inspires hope in people who meet her, that’s got to count for something, right? Not so much. The side characters she inspires hope in, Flynn and Barrow, are initially written as being hardened by the world they live in and the tragedies of their pasts. Then in comes this random girl, who is super sure that if she can just reach this mythical place she’ll be able to save her pet. She’s so sure of this thing that they both think is impossible at best that they both start believing in hope again. Flynn this could work with if it was done better. He’s the same age as Frost and, despite his tragic back story, is given several moments where he’s shown to want something to believe in. His father, Barrow, not so much. Barrow’s arc feels like it was cut short, which is unfortunate, it was a pretty standard “guy wants to protect his kid even if it means doing questionable things” but it felt more grounded than any of the other character arcs.

A lot of my issues boil down to being issues about character work or world building. There’s a lot of potential to Frost, lots of interesting ideas. In a few instances there’s a quality pay off to an idea established earlier, but there isn’t enough of that for the book as it stands. The book is also very simple both in how it deals with its characters and how the reader is fed how characters feel, almost to the point of it just being straight up telling. In a more solidly written book that wouldn’t have been as much of a problem, but here it goes back to feeling like the author had so many ideas that he didn’t have time to develop any of them.

That’s kind of where I ultimately land on Frost. It’s way too underdeveloped, if Kozlowsky had taken any one of the ideas he introduced here and focused on it the book could have been fantastic. Most of the other issues I had could have been forgiven if the story had been tighter. As it stands though everything is too scattered and underdone so what could have been a solid three to four book winds up being a two out of five, not because it offends me but because it needed so much more work. I might give Kozlowsky’s writing another shot down the road, but it would need to be a book that I’d heard good things about.