Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Spotlight

Welcome to the first Sunday Spotlight. We plan on making this a weekly edition that focuses on an already released debut novel and provide relevant links for our readers.

For our first Sunday Spotlight we have Kimberly Blackadar, the author of Nothing but Trouble after Midnight which was released November 2009. Thanks Kimberly for contacting us!

Chloe Preston has the perfect teenage life: great friends, a full social calendar, and the ideal boyfriend.
perfect never stays that way.

One night, Chloe’s life is shattered, and all she can hope for is that the memory will fade like a bad dream. But secret truths are dangerous, and Chloe discovers that keeping things hidden causes more harm than good—especially when the nightmare is real and comes back for more.
Will Chloe find the strength to face the truth, or will she remain a victim of her own fears?

Insightful and compelling, author Kimberly Blackadar’s
Nothing but Trouble after Midnight is an unprecedented battle between true love and ill-fated circumstance.

Check out
chapter 1, chapter 2, and chapter 3 of Nothing but Trouble after Midnight on Kimberly's website and buy it here!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Guest Book Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Review by Heather Trese
Hex Hall is the story of Sophie Mercer, a 16-year-old who found out three years ago that she's a witch. She lives in the regular world for a few years until one too many things go wrong, and she’s sentenced to live out her remaining teenage life at a school/reformation center for other supernatural beings called Hectate Hall. The book introduces fantasy elements without being in-your-face about it, and even though I love that aspect of the book (and the fact that Hawkins freely references Harry Potter in an extremely appropriate way), what I love even more is that, by the end of the book, I felt as if I knew Sophie and all of her quirks. More than that, I wanted to be her friend. I found her hilarious and sarcastic and smart, but not in-your-face about it. I felt like I was really reading from a teenager's point of view, but not once was I annoyed with trivialities, and I don't remember there being an "OMG!!!" or a "like, totally!" to be found. But not for one second did I doubt that Sophie was 16. She made me laugh with her quick-witted retorts. She was genuine. She gushed over boys in almost the same breath that she condemned them. She simultaneously hated her mom and loved her. Her vocabulary was appropriate for her age, and she didn't talk down to the reader. I honestly can't remember the last time that I thought a first-person contemporary teen narrator was this genuine, believable, and just plain fun.

More than that, Hawkins addresses some very real-world issues in this book, even though it's set in a fantasy world. She deals with jealousy, angst, teen sexuality, crushes, friendships, and just what makes a gorgeous prom dress. There is backstabbing, secrets, betrayal, mystery, and a slight cliffhanger ending that is enough to make you excited for the second book, but not so suspenseful that you feel as if everything went unresolved. The mysteries that are interwoven throughout the book leave readers questioning everything - even when you want to believe a certain character is innocent or guilty, the evidence doesn't always stack up that way, and you will find yourself questioning almost everyone's motives. There was even a moment when I literally said out loud, “WHAT?? NononononononoNO!!!!” Future readers will know precisely what moment I’m talking about, I’m sure.  

The characters were wonderfully vivid, and the setting had just the right amount of magic. All in all, this was an enjoyable read from cover to cover. I look forward to reading more from Rachel Hawkins - she is definitely an author to keep an eye on. It’s difficult to imagine that Hawkins is a debut author, but fortunately she’s already hard at work on Hex Hall 2, which hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for.
Heather is a magazine editor and freelance writer by day and an aspiring YA novelist by night. Find her online at her blog, See Heather Write or on Twitter, @HeatherTrese.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Guest Book Review: Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa

The following review was done by Boof from The Book Whisperer who very kindly gave me permission to post it here. Go visit Boof's site, he has other reviews and some great author interviews. Thanks Boof!

What Amazon says: “Palestine, 1941. In the small village of Ein Hod a father leads a procession of his family and workers through the olive groves. As they move through the trees the green fruits drop onto the orchard floor; the ancient cycle of the seasons providing another bountiful harvest. 1948. The Abulheja family are forcibly removed from their ancestral home in Ein Hod and sent to live in a refugee camp in Jenin. Through Amal, the bright granddaughter of the patriarch, we witness the stories of her brothers: one, a stolen boy who becomes an Israeli soldier; the other who in sacrificing everything for the Palestinian cause will become his enemy. Amal’s own dramatic story threads its way through six decades of Palestinian-Israeli tension, eventually taking her into exile in Pensylvania in America. Amal’s is a story of love and loss, of childhood, marriage and parenthood, and finally the need to share her history with her daughter, to preserve the greatest love she has. Richly told and full of humanity, “Mornings in Jenin” forces us to take a fresh look at one of the defining political conflicts of our lifetime. It is an extraordinary debut.”

What I thought: What a wonderful yet hearbreaking ride this book was. Firstly, I’ll start with the fact that as soon as I saw the cover and title of this book I knew I had to read it. In 1993-94, I answered an add in the paper to go and work as an Au Pair for a family in Israel. I can’t explain why Israel, there were hunderds of adds for France, Italy, USA etc and one solitary add for Israel. As a child at school we were asked to pick a country to do a project on and I picked Israel. I’m not Jewish, nor am I Muslim but I just knew I wanted to go; something about this country fascinated me. I worked for an American Jewish family in a rich town 20 minutes north of Tel Aviv. My days were spent with school runs, lunches and play dates for 4 children under the age of 10. My weekends, however, were my own. Every single weekend for the entire time I was there was spent exploring that beautiful country (with other friends I had made). Jerusalem was and still is my favourite place in the whole world; a Palestinian run hostel in the Old City became my home for months one end, and I made friends from all walks of life who took us to Tiberius, Golan Heights, Ein Gedi, Haifa, Acre, Eilat and everywhere inbetween. I knew the country better than I knew my own and even all these years later, I think back often to my life then and remember with both fondness and passion the country that was my home for two years. I have read lots about the Middle East, Israel in particular but this is one of the first fiction (based on many facts) book that I have read from a Palestinian point of view. I was really looking forward to reading it and I was not disappointed.

The book starts in the beatutiful village of Ein Hod in 1940’s Palestine and centres around the Abulheja family who live a happy life with their two sons, their beloved horses and lovingly tended rose garden. They work the land and harvest olives in the surrounding hills for a living. The oldest son, Hassan, marries a free-spirited bedouin girl called Dalia who quickly becomes a part of the family and their first child, Yousef, is born to the delight of the family. A few years later, Ismael is born and when he is still a baby, Yousef tries to comfort the crying child and accidentally drops him, scarring his face down one side.

Ein Hod

In 1948 their life as they know it is over. The newly formed Israeli army, after accepting the hospitality of the locals for food, bombs thier little village without warning. Many people were killed and those who were left were made to march out of the village, in what they are standing up in, and walk towards Jenin. In the confusion that followed, Dalia has Ismael snatched from her.

“The villagers sat on the ground in the valley. The land was as beautiful and peaceful as it had always been. Trees and sky and stone and hills were unchanged and the villagers were dazed and quiet, except Dalia. She was mad with anguish, questioning people and uncovering other women’s babies in the hope of revealing a boy with a scar down his right cheek, around his eye. She searched with frenzied foreboding, even though Yehya tried to reassure her that someone had picked up the child and surely it was only a matter of time before they would be reunited”

The following chapters are the families time in the quickly put-together refugee camp in Jenin where they try to rebuild some sort of life for themselves. In this time Dalia gives birth to a daughter called Amal, who becomes our narrator for most of the book. She takes us through her life in the refugee camp; the horrors, the friendships, and the losses. She talks about times that often occured, like the overflowing of the open sewers and the smell being so bad that they had to sleep on the roof. But even in this she recounts the naive dreams of hers and her friends:

“Vile as the experience and subsequent cleanup were, Huda and I could not contain our excitement and anticipation at being allowed to sleep on the roof to escape the foul odour. Other children did the same, and we filled the air with calls, jokes and giggles of young refugee souls. We were naively full of dreams and hope then, blessedly unaware that we were the worlds rubbish, left to tread in its own misery and excrement. There on the flat rooftops, we offered up our wishes and secrets to the starry Mediterranean sky.”

Amal was 12 years old when the war of 1967 came to Jenin. She watched those around her die as she hid in a hole beneath the kitchen floor. The refugee camp that her relaties and friends had tried so hard to build, was flattened. Amal leaves the camp not long after the six day war and takes us with her as she starts a new life in Jeruslem, America, Lebanon and back to Jenin. Her story is heartbreaking and powerful. Susan Abulhawa’s anger is clear in the pages, as is her love for her country, Palestine. She brings to our attention another massacre in Jenin in 2002 that the world barely got to hear about. It was covered up.

I asked myself many times during reading this book “how could this happen?” It’s almnost beyond belief that human beings can do this to each other, yet they do.

“There is no reason or logic. I was twenty years old and they gave me total power over other human beings, Amal”
Although this book is only 330 pages long, it felt like an epic to me. I have spent 60 years with this family, watching them love, loose, fight, cry. I’m going to miss them. I cried at the end – not just because of their story but because of all the other thousands of peoples story – real people.

I have tried not to be biased in this review; there are two sides to every story. The Israelis have their tale to tell too. But this book is about the Palestininans, and their story. It’s high time their voices were heard.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Upcoming Debut Calendar

We at the Debut Authors Blog are excited to announce the launching of the Upcoming Debut Calendar where we have the release dates of every debut novel we know about. Each calendar entry is also a link to the author's webpage so that you can read more about each book.

If you are a debut author (not just young adult, all debut authors) and want your title included, or you are a reader that wants to submit the release date please fill out the Contact Us form with your name, book title, author name, release date and a link to the author's website. Conversely, if you find an error (release date wrong or the title is not an author's debut) also contact us and we will correct it as soon as we can.

Also, the newsletter for the month of March will be emailed on the 1st of the month so if you would like to receive it please let us know by checking the appropriate box. The newsletter will also be posted here on the blog sometime during the first week of March. Again thank you for reading and participating! Tomorrow we will be posting our first guest review by Boof the Book Whisperer, don't miss it!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Review of The Shifter


With a society that deals in a currency of pain, ruled by a despotic Duke, and a people that are verging on revolution, Janice Hardy must have written her book, “The Shifter” just for me. I found the first page of this book on agent Kristin Nelson’s Blog and I was hooked immediately.

Fifteen year old Nya is having trouble getting by in her conquered and occupied island homeland of Geveg. She is also a taker, by touching someone she can heal their injuries and take their pain, at the cost of making that pain her own. This skill is highly sought after since most healers, including Nya’s parents, died during the war. But Nya lacks a key skill, she can’t dump the taken pain into the pynvium, an enchanted metal that can hold pain. Instead Nya can shift pain, transferring it from one person to another. This skill is rare, and if the occupying government was to find out about it she would surely be used as a weapon against her own people.

Nya’s sister, Tali, is also a taker but since she can dump into the pynvium, she is enjoying life as a League healer apprentice which leaves Nya alone in the city to fend for herself in a dangerous city. When league healers, including Tali, start to disappear, Nya must make some choices that go against everything she believes in if she wants to find her sister alive.

Hardy’s world will pull you in and her engaging characters won’t let you put the book down. She does a great job of avoiding too much backstory, and instead plunges the reader right into Geveg. You will fear the Duke, hate the League, and agonize with Nya over her decisions. The book sets you up beautifully for a sequel and I already can’t wait to get it.

First Post

Welcome to the Debut Authors Blog! It is our hope to build this site into a place for readers to find out about the books that are coming out from new authors. We can’t do it alone though! If this site is going to succeed we will need the help from all of our readers to help us find the books from new authors, to review said books and to constantly provide feedback on how we can make the site better for you!

If you are a blogger or author and want to participate in making this site great fill out the contact us form and send us a line!