books

Grond: The Raven High: Grond Book 1 Review

3 Stars3 / 5

If you’re looking for a space-adventure that flies a bit outside what is usually expected, you’re going to find it in Yuri Hamaganov’s Grond: The Raven High: Grond Book 1. Our protagonist is a young girl, Olga, who is living on a space station far outside the realm of earth. Here, she is raised by an Android and begins preparing for work at the tender age of six. Olga, called Raven by her android nanny Arina and curator Mikhail Petrov, works tirelessly in her strange little bubble to be able to run a plant that produces water. We follow along her everyday life as she prepares for her occupation and demonstrates her higher than average aptitude. It will soon be clear to readers that Olga is not an ordinary six-year-old girl, at least by current standards. She is something more advanced that the human beings we are today. Where her life will take her is an interesting journey.

As the first book in an apparent series, it is up to the author to build their world. First installments set the stage for future books. They captivate the interest of readers and leave them wanting more. Hamaganov does write quite eloquently and it is clear that some amount of research went into creating this novel. The world is not too far in the distant future and the layout is somewhat believable. Olga is isolated on a space station and has video communication with Petrov on a consistent basis. As we learn more about her origins and the type of work required of her, we begin to empathize with Olga’s predicament. When she faces the greatest struggle of her young life, readers will find themselves hoping that she will come out victorious.

There are areas for improvement, however. Several times throughout our story the voice changes from past to present in the middle of sentence. This is confusing for the readers as we’re not sure what’s supposed to be happening. Not a lot of detail is given about the state of Olga’s world, why she’s referred to as ‘Raven’, and how exactly it became okay to use child labour. We know that Olga is not the only one, as there is reference to other children in the same line of work as she. We also know that Olga is not quite an organic human being, but it’s never clearly stated if she was born with her advanced capabilities or if her parents simply sold her off to be implanted and sent to work. The only things that are clear is that the Earth is in trouble, there was a war in space, Olga works harder at the age of twelve than most people do in their thirties and that she is seen as a tool by those who employ her. There is mention of a resistance group that would help her achieve freedom, but when her very life is threatened there is no sign of this group. Perhaps these are all things that will be explored in future installments.

If you can manage to ignore the few shortfalls of this novel, most readers who love a good science-fiction piece will enjoy the adventures of Olga in Grond: The High Raven: Grond Book 1 by Yuri Hamaganov. The tidy epilogue at the end sparks curiosity in the reader and the sneak peek at the next installment will have most readers looking forward to book two.

Posted by Sarah Jayne in Book Reviews, 0 comments

Have You Checked This Out Yet?

Don’t forget!

Black & Red

My First Book!

For the month of July you can get my debut novel for FREE!

This is a Smashwords Exclusive and you can access it here!

I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read it 🙂

I promise I’ll stop being annoying about it…..

In August 😉

 

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 4 comments

Quantifying My Existence

Everything in life is a measurement. Your age, the ticking of the clock as time passes, the effort you put into your day. We exist here on this planet in this galaxy in this universe. What effort have you put in? What does it matter? Who are we trying to impress by bleeding and sweating our lives away? Are we trying to impress friends? Lovers? Parents? Ourselves?

I find that I am constantly and almost desperately trying to measure myself and my contribution on a regular basis. Have I done enough? Will I be remembered when I’m gone? Will people remember me when I’m gone?

I’m only 32 and yet I think like this on a regular basis. But who am I trying to impress? My kids will remember me. They have no choice. You don’t have an obnoxious mother like myself and then simply forget about her. Same with my poor sod of a husband. The guy will never forget me, even if he wants to.

It’s not like I’m ill and I’m going to die tomorrow. It’s not like I’m one of those people who expects to get crushed by the roof of the mall when I’m shopping (That has happened to people in my country before, though. It was devastating). Perhaps it’s because where I currently am in writing TAK.

There is a lot of death in this book. Some of it is symbolic death. Some of it is true, honest death. There is a lot of soul-searching as the characters try to figure out who they are and what they can offer. Granted, their world is tougher than ours. Well, tougher than the life I lead in my country. There are countries in our world right now who have been dealing with wars for longer than I’ve been alive.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s why I published Black & Red before I was certain it was ready. I  was just so desperate to have something out there, in the world, for others to read and realize that I existed. That the story had been crafted by a human being and although the ending may leave much to be desired, it was still something that was agonized over.

Perhaps it is just too goddamn early on a Monday morning to be introspective. I shall end my ramblings here today and continue on with work. 6 minutes to go until I have to be ‘on’.

Happy Monday, suckers like I who are working. And screw you guys who are all at home without work or responsibilities 😉

poppins

Mary Poppins is the shit.

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, Rantings, 2 comments

Character Record

I never used to do this, but for the last four or five stories I’ve written I started keeping a booklet of information for each story. I mentioned this a bit in my previous post about resources.

For TAK, I’ve got more than that. Right now I have a booklet with character descriptions for all my major and sometimes minor characters. Basics like eye colour, skin tone, hair colour and length, body type and height are recorded for each character. Their name and age heads the top of the description. That used to be it. As I’ve been writing and honing my craft my resources have grown with me. Now my character descriptions have more information. They contain the types of clothes the character may wear on a regular basis; do they wear boots or shoes? Leggings? Tunics or shirts? Colour preferences? A character in TAK wears glasses. So I’ve recorded the shape and colour of his glasses. Sometimes I’ll put in some information about their background or little blips about their personality. A character in TAK, Gideon, doesn’t speak much. Read that as hardly ever. I made a note of that in his record.

Sometimes when I’m writing if I bring up a character I haven’t used in a while I might forget what they look like. Usually the little details like hair and eye colour. I find these records helpful in that they are separate and keep me from searching back through hundreds of pages just to find the information I’m looking for.

When I would write when I was younger, it was common for characters to change eye colour or hair colour. I would reread what I had written and realize the character had changed personalities somewhere along the line. This is obviously not good.

The book for TAK is way more involved than any other before. Not only do I have character descriptions, I’ve started writing the background of the world within it. In TAK there are four countries: Byrnan, Hieros, Haima and Allos. Each country has a ‘speciality’ and the people from each country are slightly different in terms of mentality, skin colour and talents. For example, Hieros is a country steeped in art. It is one of the southern countries and it’s people have an olive skin tone. They produce magnificent pieces of art such as paintings, fabrics, architecture, music and so on. I’ve also drawn a suuuuuper crude map in my booklet. I am not a cartographer and this will most likely not make it into the book itself. It’s for personal reference so I can remember where the countries are located, where the major cities that are mentioned in the story are located and what the terrain looks like. In keeping with Hieros, it’s very flat. Lots of grass and open plains. Hieros is also known for it’s food production.

20160112_082211

Don’t judge my lack of mapping skills

As you can see, it’s not professional, but it serves it’s purpose.

The problem I sometimes run into is running out of book before I’m done with everything. This means I have to transfer all the information into another book. I write everything by hand in this book and I’m not in the mood to switch to digital. The story itself is being typed on a computer, but I just can’t get behind the idea of writing this information in a word document as well.

What things do you do to keep your writing on track?

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 0 comments

I Came, I Participated, I Left

If you’ve been following me at all lately you’ll know that I was going to a group therapy meeting last week for people with Depression and Anxiety.

I was hella nervous going because that’s my anxiety and it’s just ‘normal’ nerves at that point.

It was a nice place. It took place in an old house in a library. There were couches, a fireplace, and books. Obscene amounts of books. The people there were really nice. One of them is going to be our facilitator going forward.

Will I go back? I don’t know. I learned that there are those out there struggling with something I can’t even begin to imagine. While I am certain that my issues are very real, I do not have to be on disability. I am not living with any parental figures.

I came to understand that I need more than just a group discussion. I need personalized plans. I work better that way. I was able to go to kick boxing for the first time in a month and I felt absolutely fresh afterwards. I think a lot of my issue was the fact that I was under immense pressure with no outlet. I have managed to convince my husband to allow me to keep my subscription for my kick boxing class. As long as I go at least four times a month it will pay for itself.

So where do I go from here? Perhaps I need to make contact with my employee assistance program and source out a personal counsellor. I don’t think I need intensive therapy like I did in university and I also don’t think I require medication.

The pressure I am under is immense and real. I need real tools to combat the concerns I have and someone external to hold me accountable for completion.

It’s a long and potentially slippery slope that I’m on right now. But I can climb it.

In other news, we’ve taken one of our vehicles off the insurance and I now walk home from work. We’re trying to save money while we wait for the payout to come. As you may also know, I live in Canada. Which means it’s freaking winter right now. Goddamn is it cold! I have to pull my snow pants out this weekend so I don’t freeze on my way home. Good thing I have a tolerance for the cold. It’s not a super high one, but it’s  better than most people.

Also, using a gift card my in-laws gave me for my birthday I got a perm done! It’s already fallen out but the remaining body looks fabulous. I am still happy with it.

In the meantime, work continues to be done on TAK. Just little bits here and there. Puttering along. Keep your eyes peeled for a new short! I should have that one done next week!

Posted by Sarah Jayne in Rantings, 0 comments

Keep on Keepin' On

Phew! Between work, the kids, the house and freelancing, I’m starting to get a bit tired.

Things are going well for the moment. I’ve found relatively steady freelancing work (that’s not a typo) which is helping out. So far brings me in close to $100 a week. That’ll be fun come tax-time, but it’s not so bad. Hopefully I know how to claim it properly.

Haven’t done much work on TAK in a while. Finished the read through and every now and then something pops up in my brain so I write it down in a book I started taking everywhere. I’ve mapped out a good deal of the ending and middle now, which is awesome! I was getting so stuck on where I should be going next that I was missing a lot of awesome character-development points.

I’d still like to get Black & Red into a hard copy. I know I can do that through Amazon and CreateSpace but I haven’t had time to deal with the upload of the file etc. My laptop has bit the dust, hard. I can’t even use it unless I use an external keyboard which is painful. I might look into a cheapy little thing. I’d like an ultrabook or Surface, I think. But no money for that right now so it’s just a dream.

Been a bit sick lately; probably from stress, work, kids, weather-change etc. The husband and I are going to try and squirrel away some money to hire a babysitter for a couple hours or so. We haven’t had any ‘us’ time and we’re getting pretty worn out because of it. We don’t do much, but we’ll probably go for like an afternoon to troll the mall and eat at the food court. Maybe watch a movie. Babysitters cost money so we might not be able to do it until November and his work schedule changes a lot since he works part time so hopefully we can squeeze a date in before it gets too cold out.

It’s almost my birthday! The video game I want comes out after the actual day but I hope I get to get it. My husband gave me my present already since my birthday falls on a weekday this year.

One of these days I’ll be able to afford my cottage in the mountains of Jasper where I’ll sit writing all day and having a bonfire outside. If only things didn’t cost money! We do have a fire pit in our backyard but the previous owners were dicks so it probably isn’t up to code. Maybe we can fix it up for next year.

Anyway, time to work the Day Job. Lunch break is over!

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 0 comments

This is actually a test

I noticed I was having some issues with my Facebook plugin so I’m hoping I fixed them. This post is really just to check that.

In other news, I am hoping to get a Microsoft Surface! With the keyboard/case thing! That will really allow me to get back on track with writing TAK. In the meantime, if you need a fix, go here and check out my short stories.

Bear with me while I work out these kinks in life. Thanks for sticking with me! Enjoy!

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 0 comments

Sorry not Sorry

I don’t want to be that annoying person filling up your feeds with the same thing over and over and over, especially if you follow me on different platforms.

If you recall, I entered a writing contest. This contest depends on votes to determine the winner. More and more people are joining it seems and my rank is dropping lower and lower and lower.

If you have a spare five minutes, please head over to: http://t.co/kfYjZZGfx2 and http://www.inkitt.com/stories/12258 to vote on one of my two short stories.

I believe the website requires you to create an account, which is free, which you can also delete once you are finished if you wish.

If you are a writer yourself you may want to keep your account as this seems like a nice platform for promotion.

I have three votes. Just three. Please help me rise up!!!

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 0 comments

I Entered a Contest! Weeee!

Hey guys! I entered a contest through Inkitt! Here you can find the link to my two submissions. I need votes in order to win! Please read and if it strikes your fancy, vote!

http://www.inkitt.com/stories/12258

http://www.inkitt.com/stories/12247

I’ve never done this before so I’m pretty excited! Especially since I was invited to give a submission. Made me feel special 😀

 

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 0 comments

Spring Break Freedom

This year Spring Break has a special meaning for me.

Not only does it mean I have an entire week off from teaching, but it also coincides with the long Easter Weekend we have here in Canada.

Starting next Monday I only have one full time job I need to worry about. No lesson planning, no marking papers, no developing assessments or reviewing projects. This means when my work is done at 5 pm I get to go home.

This means I can spend more time with my children. My eldest, who is almost 5, has been acting out a LOT lately. It’s getting really stressful and tiring dealing with him. He’s not happy, I’m not happy, and that just means bad things all around. I tried to stem off some grumpy behaviour last night. We made some cookies but I screwed up the recipe since I wasn’t paying attention. I made SO MANY COOKIES with this recipe and he ate one of them. I’m not sure if he liked it at all. I had my husband eat one to see if it was really that terrible. He had one bite, said it was “okay” then threw the rest of the cookie out.

Bye-bye self-esteem. Hello Parent Guilt at feeding my child a subpar cookie. I have more dough in the fridge and now I don’t know if I’ll make them. I’ll see if he eats another one today and what his reaction is.

The other good news about this Spring Break is that I can devote some time to my book. I will probably need to reread everything I’ve written (again) since it’s been so long. I have another idea for a short but I can’t remember some key details (sooooo bad) so I need to reread it anyway.

Anyway, I am going to get back to work. Need to do my job! But thank god for 15 minute breaks!

Posted by Sarah Jayne in Rantings, 0 comments