Rosie Black’s last stand

Rosie BlackDark Star, the third and final book in The Rosie Black Chronicles by Lara Morgan, came out last year. I read it then and have been avoiding the review ever since. I hate it when a book fails to meet my expectations, especially when it is still a good book. It leaves me floundering when it comes to writing the review. But I can avoid it no longer. So, here goes…

In Genesis, we met Rosie Black, an ordinary teenage girl in a future dystopian world, who was inadvertently drawn into a world of corporate espionage, trying to stop the powerful and corrupt Helios corporation. With the help of her pilot aunt, a feral teenager named Pip and a mysterious man name Riley, she destroyed the Helios base on Mars and put a huge dint in their plans. In Equinox she discovered that Helios had other plans on the boil, and Rosie was drawn into things yet again. Now, in Dark Star, Helios’s ultimate plan is revealed, along with the true power behind the corporation. And Rosie finds herself battling seemingly insurmountable odds.

It’s an action-packed book with lots of twists and turns. There are interesting characters and concepts. And the whole thing is rather well written. And yet, it just didn’t do it for me.

You may remember I had similar feelings about the first book (see: “The Rosie Black Chronicles”). But I enjoyed the second book a lot more (see: “Reviewing Rosie Black”). So I was really expecting to love the third book. Alas, I did not. I did enjoy it, in the same way that I enjoyed book 1, but I didn’t love it.

I think, in part, this comes down to the fact that I’ve never really found the lead character all that engaging or likeable. I was starting to warm to her by the end of book 2. But in this book, she goes through so much that she comes across as almost super-human… so you don’t get the sense of her being an ordinary teenager. It was all just a little too much. I also found some of the character motivations a little muddy this time around.

But if you’ve read the first two books, you do have to read this one… if for no other reason than to finally find out who’s behind Helios and what they are up to. I really did like all of that. And there are lots of other good things in the book, particularly in terms of certain supporting characters.

All up, Dark Star is a good book… just not as good as I was hoping it would be. It is still very much worth a read.

Catch ya later,  George

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ROSIE BLACK – EQUINOX – Book 2

FIVE HUNDRED YEARS INTO THE FUTURE

the world is a different place. The Melt has sunk most of the coastal cities and Newperth is divided into the haves, the ‘Centrals’; the have-nots, the Bankers; and the fringe dwellers, the ‘Ferals’.

Rosie Black is a courageous but vulnerable 16 year-old who lives in a futuristic world where it’s hard to know who to trust and bad choices can prove fatal.

After losing her mother and her best friend, Rosie’s world has been turned upside down and her priorities have changed.

Rosie is hell bent on helping develop a cure for the disease that killed her mother and almost claimed her father’s life. The disease has been manufactured by the Helios regime. They are intent on taking over the world, but Rosie Black is equally determined to bring them down.

Equinox, by Lara Morgan is the second book in The Rosie Black Chronicles. It’s just as action-packed as the first book, Genesis. If you loved Genesis, you’ll love Equinox and like me, you’ll be hanging out for the third Rosie Black Chronicle.

Equinox has great characters, non-stop action and a fascinating world where space travel and all sorts of things are possible.

Lara Morgan creates such a vivid place for her characters to inhabit that I found myself totally believing in it.

Rosie is placed in life threatening situations but she still faces normal teen dilemmas like being torn between her first love, the Feral, Pip and  Dalton, the ‘Central’ who appears to have everything.

Her attraction for the charming Dalton is tempered with mistrust. Why would someone from a privileged background like Dalton be interested in helping her and ‘the cause’.

Riley, who’s in charge of operations isn’t telling Rosie the full story and when he puts an implant in her brain it turns out to be more than routine and when it malfunctions, it puts her life in jeopardy.

Rosie is reluctantly forced to see the help of Cassie, Riley’s gorgeous but unfriendly sister.

And just when Rosie, Pip and Dalton seem to have everything under control, Rosie is double crossed by Agent Sulawayo and might be forced to make a deal to save them all.

Equinox is tightly written and although the fast-pace draws the reader forward, we still feel connected to the characters as if we know them.

Equinox is written by Lara Morgan and published by Walker Books.

 

 

 

 

 

Last chance to WIN WIN WIN!

Black, Rosie Black! Remember her? Two books so far. The latest is Equinox, which I reviewed a few posts back (see “Reviewing Rosie Black”). And I also interviewed the author, Lara Morgan (see “The marketing of Lara Morgan”). Did my posts interest you in the book? Are you desperate to get your hands on a copy? Well, you could WIN your own copy of Equinox… but time is running out.

All you have to do is GO TO THE GIVEAWAY PAGE and answer a simple question…

The first book in The Rosie Black Chronicles was called Genesis. The second is called Equinox. What do you think the next should be called?

So, get your thinking caps on and come up with a witty answer and you might just win yourself a copy of Equinox.

But you’d better hurry! The competition closes on FRIDAY 9 DECEMBER at 5pm Australian Eastern Time.

The winner will be notified by email.

And if you don’t win… you could always just buy the book. 🙂

Catch ya later,  George

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Reviewing Rosie Black

In December last year, I read and reviewed Genesis, the first book in The Rosie Black Chronicles (see “The Rosie Black Chronicles”). I found it to be a good read, but lacking a certain spark. I concluded that I would happily read the second book, but that I wouldn’t go out of my way to seek it out. Well, thanks to the people at Walker Books, Equinox did happen to cross my desk, and since I was going to be interviewing the author (see “The marketing of Lara Morgan”) I read it straight away. And I’m very glad that I did.

In the first book, teenager Rosie Black is inadvertently drawn into a world of corporate espionage, trying to stop the powerful and corrupt Helios corporation. With the help of her pilot aunt, a feral teenager named Pip and a mysterious man name Riley, she destroys the Helios base on Mars, where innocent people were being experimented on. But Helios are not beaten yet. In Equinox they have other plans on the boil, and Rosie is drawn into things yet again. This time she has help from a mysterious boy named Dalton, as well as from Pip and Riley’s sister Cassie. As Helios closes in on Riley, he disappears, leaving Rosie and the others to fend for themselves. Together, they set off to close down the new Helios base.

I thoroughly enjoyed Equinox — much more than I did Genesis. The plot is more inventive, the characters more interesting and the villains more believable. More is revealed about the Helios organisation, and we discover that they have some pretty grand plans. We also discover that they are having some internal problems, with a looming power struggle. This makes Helios a lot more intriguing. A bunch of new characters are introduced in this novel, including the acerbic Cassie, the charming and mysterious Dalton, and the even more mysterious Sulawayo. They all add to the dynamic, making for some great character interaction.

Senate agent Sulawayo is not what she first appears to be. Her development and revelations had me intrigued and I’m hoping to see a lot more of her in the next book. Dalton is the new boy — rich, handsome, talented and hiding a secret. Rosie’s uncertain attraction to him is well handled, as are the eventual difficulties when Pip (the object of Rosie’s affections in Genesis) reappears. Cassie is Riley’s sister, and her abrasive personality makes for a great counterpoint to Rosie, while her unfailing loyalty and faith in her brother softens her a little. A very interesting group of characters!

Riley is not as prominent in this book, but his motivations are explored. The lengths to which he will go to bring down Helios are revealed, showing that some of his methods can be rather questionable. This adds a little darkness to his character, and makes him that much more interesting.

For me, the weak link in the story is Rosie herself. I don’t particularly like her, especially in the first half of the book where she is being whiney. She gets better as the story progresses and I hope that this will continue into the third book. I want to like her… but I’m not there yet. [Am I being too harsh? If anyone out there has read the book and would like to disagree, please leave a comment.]

Nevertheless, after reading Equinox I’m now very much looking forward to the next instalment. It’s definitely a book that I’ll be seeking out.

Don’t forget, we have a copy of Equinox to give away. So, if you would like A FREE COPY, you can enter HERE!

Catch ya later,  George

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The marketing of Lara Morgan

Equinox, Book Two in The Rosie Black Chronicles is out! And its author, Lara Morgan, is here for a chat about marketing and promotion. But before we get started, I need to tell you that you could WIN a copy of Equinox. Want the details? Click here!

And now, it is my great pleasure to welcome Lara Morgan to Literary Clutter

These days, authors are called upon to do more and more promotion for their books, which many authors find difficult. Do you like doing promotional activities or do you try to avoid them?

Like many authors I’m part hermit, so I can find promotional work quite taxing, but it’s a necessary part of the job so I make sure I make it part of my work for every book. Some I do enjoy, such as the Internet based activities like my blog or just using sites like GoodReads. This book tour for example can be quite fun because I can answer by typing and interact with people from my own home so it’s more relaxing, plus I get to blather on about me and stuff I like in questions like this. I worked at a newspaper for ten years so any kind of media interview is quite easy for me, especially radio.

What’s your favourite form of promotional activity? And your least favourite?

My favourite is the online stuff I just mentioned. Though I find public speaking exhausting, I quite enjoy doing panels at conventions or festivals because I’m with other writers and we talk off the cuff, so that can be fun and often the topics are really interesting and it’s a good place to meet people who love the same things. My least favourite is the solo presentations because there’s a lot of energy and planning that goes into it and there is some pressure to entertain people as well as sounding like you know what you’re talking about. I come off them drained.

Do you have much input into the overall marketing strategy for your books, or do you leave that to your publisher?

We discuss what could be done and I suggest things I could do, opportunities I might have heard of and they tell me what they think could happen. It’s a joint effort really and I always prefer to know what’s going on so we can make the most of any opportunity to promote the book. I’m limited because I live so far away from the action so we do as much as we can online.

Many YA authors market their books by doing school visits. Do you do school visits and if so, how do you approach them?

I’ve just started doing school visits so have only done a few so far, but when I do I like to be as prepared as I can. It depends what I’m going there to do as well. I’ve done planned 45minute talks and just quickly organised visits where I just did a short talk and then question and answer, but I think the most important thing is to know what age group your audience is and to have some personal stories you can share.

Do you think it’s more important for The Rosie Black Chronicles to be marketed as YA or as science fiction?

Definitely as YA. Even though it is set in the future, I see it more as a futuristic action fantasy than science fiction and I wouldn’t want people picking it up thinking it’s going to be something it’s not.

Reviews are, or course, an important part of marketing. It’s great when you get a positive review… Not so great when you get hit with a negative review. How do negative reviews affect you? Do you think they have much impact on the marketing of your books?

I try to avoid reading any reviews until after the book’s been out for quite a while because of course a bad review can be crushing and even though you might have had ten good ones to one bad, it’s the bad one that always gets under your skin.  If I do read a review where someone doesn’t like my work I have a friend I ring who I can rant and cry to who always makes me feel better, and family are very good at soothing the shattered ego as well. At the end of the day though, it’s one person’s opinion and I make an effort to remember that. It doesn’t make it easier, but it can be a reminder to our writer egos that what’s important is the creation of the work. After it’s out there, in some ways it doesn’t belong to us anymore and readers need to be able to respond honestly to their own reading of it.

I don’t think a bad review impacts the marketing of books as everyone knows you can’t please everybody and generally the worst thing you can do is respond to a bad review, so as for the marketing it’s a case of chin up and keep going with the plan.

Book trailers are the latest thing in book marketing. YouTube is full of them, both good and bad. Many authors and publishers have embraced them, while others shun them as a waste of time and money. What’s your view of book trailers?

I really like them. I made my own for a fantasy book I wrote previously and really enjoyed doing it, but I think as a marketing tool they are only effective for certain types of books. Young adult books are I think one of the types that can benefit from trailers because the people the books are marketed for spend a lot of time online and almost expect to see one. Science fiction and thrillers are two other genres that probably benefit from them, but I wouldn’t bother making one for a literary release.

You have a rather stylish trailer for Equinox, with a really great song. How much input did you have?

I wish I could say it was all me! But the extent of my input was to say, yes that is fabulous, and sign off on it. All the work was organised by Walker Books and done by very talented people who aren’t me.

What has been the most successful promotional activity that you’ve tried?

I think the blog tour I did for the first Rosie Black book, Genesis, was really effective in terms of the coverage it gained, hence the reason I’m doing it again!

George’s bit at the end

Many thanks to Lara for answering my questions. To find out which other blogs Lara has been visiting on her tour, check out the Rosie Black FaceBook page.

Catch ya later,  George

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Rosie Black is back!

In December 2010 I reviewed Genesis, the first book in the Lara Morgan’s YA, dystopian, science fiction, adventure series, The Rosie Black Chronicles. (Check out the review.) Well, Rosie Black is back! The second book, Equinox, is out this month.

Lara Morgan is off on a blog tour to promote the new release, and she’ll be here at Literary Clutter on Thursday 24 November to answer my questions about promotion. To find out about her other stops on the tour, keep an eye on Lara’s own blog and the Rosie Black FaceBook page.

I’ve just finished reading Equinox. It’s an exciting read and I enjoyed it more than Genesis. I’m looking forward to reviewing it… which I will do here on Literary Clutter, right after my interview with Lara. So stay tuned.

In the meantime, today’s post is here to whet your appetite. Let’s start with the book trailer for Genesis

It’s a stylish trailer with great music. But the new trailer is even better…

And now, to really get you all interested, here is the exciting beginning of Equinox

Rosie took a steadying breath, licked her finger and touched it to her eye. The identification distorter lens stuck to her skin and she lifted it off her iris. First one, then the other. She stuck them in her mouth and swallowed them. Gross. She gagged and leaned on the sink. They always tasted foul, like rotten fish scales.

“That’s three minutes,” Riley’s voice came through the receptor in her ear.

“Put the new ones in and get out of there.”

Rosie didn’t bother replying. He couldn’t hear her anyway; they never used reverse coms for a job because the signal could be tracked. Helios thought Riley was dead, and he wanted to keep it that way.

Rosie rubbed her eyes. The disintegrating lens made her nauseous, no doubt affected by the message capsule she’d swallowed earlier. She ignored it as best she could, her hand only a little shaky as she carefully slipped the replacement lenses on. Now any ident readers would clock her as Bridget Faraday, a scientist’s daughter. The lenses had a microscopic camera in them as well, so when she looked in the mirror Riley could see her. She blinked, speaking slowly so he could read her lips.

“Are they working?”

“Vision’s clear,” he said. “Get out of there.”

She tossed the Central dress she’d been wearing in the rubbish disintegrator, ran the decolouriser over her hair to strip out the blond, and chucked that in as well. She ripped her clothes out of her bag and re-dressed in her own pants, black singlet and white over shirt. She gave herself a final once over in the mirror.

“Rosie, get going.” Riley’s tone was sharp.

She resisted the urge to mouth something else at him and turned to the corner above the bathroom door and pointed the jammer at the invisible surveillance hub. The jammer flashed once, giving her ten seconds before the shuttle station cameras kicked in again. Rosie slipped the device in her pocket and headed out.

Interested? Want your own copy? Well, the wonderful people at Walker Books have provided us with a giveaway copy. For your chance of winning it, make sure you come back and read the interview with Lara Morgan on Thursday 24 November. 🙂

Catch ya later,  George

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Waiting for the end of the series

I’ve always had this philosophy regarding any series of books — I would never start to read the first book until the final one had been published. That way, I would not have to wait the twelve plus months between books — the twelve plus months during which I would forget vital plot points and character nuances. Instead, I could just read one book after another, from beginning to end, and achieve a sense of continuity and completion. But things have changed.

I’m a reasonably patient sort of person. I usually don’t mind waiting, even if it is several years between book one and the final instalment, before starting to read a series. This is the way that I have read many a trilogy. The first time that I broke my own rule was with the Harry Potter series. Seven books resulted in a very long wait between beginning and end. There was a lot of hype and a lot of discussion. I really wanted to read the books; I really wanted to participate in the discussions my friends were having; and I was finding it very difficult to avoid spoilers. So I started reading just after the fourth book was released. I read them back-to-back. Of course, then came the agonising wait for book five… I didn’t like that bit.

But Harry Potter was an exceptional series — so much hype and talk and media. Most books don’t get that kind of press. Spoilers are not usually an issue. So, Harry was going to be my one and only exception (except, of course, those occasional circumstances where I’ve read a book not realising that it was the first in a series… damn, that’s annoying!). But then I started reviewing books.

Becoming a reviewer changed everything. I was no longer browsing bookstores, reading the back cover blurbs, trying to choose what to read next. Now I was browsing lists of upcoming and newly released titles trying to decide which books I should request for review. And those lists are always chock-full of books that are part of a series. And thus I found myself in the position of reading the first book of the Rosie Black Chronicles a few weeks after its release in 2010, instead of waiting. Book two is soon to be released (keep an eye on this blog, I’ll soon be interviewing the author, Lara Morgan), and goodness knows when book three will be out.

Reviewing has also hampered my ability to ever read a series from beginning to end in one hit. I read the first book of Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician trilogy in October 2010. I didn’t get to book two until March 2011, and I’ve only just started book three. Why? I’ve got a stack of new review books I’ve agreed to read — so I space out the other books I want to read, between these.

A number of years ago I heard about a series of books called The Laws of Magic, written by Michael Pryor. I read the back cover blurb of the first book, thought it sounded interesting, and placed it on my read-when-the-series-is-finished pile. Well, the final book came out this year. I dug out the first book and read it. I’d love to now read the rest of the series, one after the other. But no… I’ve had to put then aside for the moment. Sigh! Life can be so tough sometimes. 😉

Catch ya later,  George

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The Rosie Black Chronicles

A little while ago a book with an extremely stylish cover landed on my desk — Genesis, Book 1 in the Rosie Black Chronicles, by Lara Morgan (author of The Twins of Saranthium books — Awakening and Betrayal). It’s a YA, somewhat dystopian spec fic epic that will soon be continued in Equinox.

It is set in the city of Newperth in a future world of contrasts — the human race has colonised Mars, but the Earth is ravaged by MalX, a new virulent form of Malaria; people live in the big, shiny city of Newperth, with the out-of-bounds ruins of the old city close by; many people live in luxury in the centre of the city, while others live in poverty on the outskirts. In this world, we are introduced to an ordinary teenage girl named Rosie Black, who finds a locked box. In that box are secrets with the potential to destroy a very powerful organisation… and the people behind this organisation will stop at nothing to make sure their secrets stay hidden. With her best friend killed and her father kidnapped, Rosie must rely on the help of her aunt, a mysterious stranger and a feral teenage boy.

It’s a well-plotted, competently written, exciting story. Rosie and the other good guys are all likeable, and you want them to win. The bad guys are nasty and unlikeable, and you read the book hoping that they will get their comeuppance. All the ingredients are here for a successful and entertaining book — and it is entertaining and enjoyable. Certainly, other reviews have said great things about it (see here and here). But for me it was missing something — a vital spark to turn it from a good book into a great book. The plot, while exciting and interesting, is a little predictable; the setting, a typical, slightly dystopian science fiction setting; the characters, good but missing vitality. I can’t help but compare it to other recent genre books that I’ve read — Kirsty Murray’s Vulture’s Gate, for instance, a dystopian, YA science fiction novel that definitely has that special spark, making it one of my favourite books from 2009.

If book 2 of the Rosie Black Chronicles was to come across my desk, I’d happily read it (and probably enjoy it)— but I won’t be eagerly awaiting it and rushing off to buy it the moment it is released (as I have done with Behemoth, the sequel to Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan).

Now, I should caution potential readers. This is just my opinion. And just because the book didn’t spark for me, doesn’t mean it won’t spark for you. Reading is such a subjective pastime. Do remember, I am the person who thought Lord of the Rings was an incredible snore-fest… so my judgement is not necessarily to be trusted. 🙂

Has anyone else out there read the first instalment of the Rosie Black Chronicles? Do you agree or disagree with my opinion? Leave a comment and share your opinion.

For more info about Lara Morgan and her writing, check out her website.

And tune in next time for a Merry Christmas post.

Catch ya later,  George

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Who Is Rosie Black?

Recently, I caught up with WA author Lara Morgan, creator of the action-packed new YA futuristic fantasy series, The Rosie Black Chronicles set in Perth 500 years into the future. (First book Genesis came out this month). Lara was in Melbourne for WorldCon and apart from writing, we chatted for a long time about the future, climate change and space travel to Mars – all of which are featured in Lara’s new book. She says,

I read Tim Flannery’s book and it got me thinking what is our country going to be like if seas rise? What kind of world are we going to be left with? I was interested in exploring the idea.

To celebrate the release of Genesis, Lara is taking her book on a blog tour and I’m delighted to say that it starts right here, right now at Kids’ Book Capers.

I loved Rosie’s bravery and independence, the courage with which she faces the death of her mother and a father who has been severely damaged. Rosie is a great heroine who also has believable flaws like impatience and an inability to ask for help when she really needs it.

Here to tell us more about Rosie is Lara Morgan.

Who is Rosie Black?

The funny thing about Rosie Black is I got to know her aunt, Essie, before I met Rosie. I wrote this short story about a woman called Essie who was a spaceship pilot. She was cool, sassy and just a little bit rude and I thought she was pretty fabulous but the story never quite worked. Then I got the idea of writing a YA novel and I started building this futuristic world and realised it was, essentially, Essie’s world and that Essie Black had a niece called Rosie. It wasn’t even like I had to sit and think about it for a long time and force the creation of this character. Rosie just existed. She introduced herself and we started getting to know each other.

I say ‘introduced herself’ because, even though it makes me sound a bit mad, I do feel with all my characters that they’re real on some level. I may not be able to talk to them face to face, but it’s as if they’re there, maybe in a parallel dimension waving at me across the void. Except Rosie wouldn’t wave, she’s not that kind of girl. She’d probably just raise her eyebrows, frown a bit then find a way to send me a message.

When I was figuring out who Rosie was I had to make sure I had a character who reflected the awful world she lived in but who also wasn’t devoid of hope. I mean, Rosie’s mother has died and her father is messed up and she lives in a crappy part of town, but she still hasn’t lost a sense that she could be more, do more with her life than what she’s been dealt.

She still has some hope, even when things get really bad she doesn’t give up. And she does things herself.  I really wanted a heroine who wasn’t waiting to be rescued, who could rescue herself if need be, but not have to be some super hero karate expert to do it.

Having a character like that of course affects the way the plot will go. And there were a few times when I would plot something out then realise as soon as I went to write it that there was just no way Rosie would do that, or react like that so it was back to the drawing board, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

So who is Rosie Black? Well Rosie is that girl who sits in the back of the class and doesn’t speak much, she’s the girl you see alone at lunch time, the one who doesn’t go to parties, the misfit, but you get the feeling she likes it that way.

Oh and she’s not a ‘beautiful but doesn’t know it’ girl. She’s attractive enough but she’s trying to save the world and doesn’t have time for an eyebrow wax. Although she would rather her hair was straighter, but we all want what we haven’t got don’t we? I hope you like her.

Find out more about Rosie Black and win a copy of Genesis at Lara’s blog: http://laramorgan.wordpress.com

Or check out the new Rosie Black book trailer and website at http://www.rosieblack.com

Lara’s blog tour is stopping at all these great blogs.

Oct 11 Who is Rosie Black?

(that’s here)

Oct 12 Writing tips on creating a futuristic world.

Tuesday Writing Tips http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com (that’s my other blog)

Oct 13 The Publishing Process

www.kids-book-review.blogspot.com

Oct 14 Writing YA.

Writing a Fantasy Series

http://www.sandyfussell.blogspot.com

Oct 15     Interview

http://www.weloveya.wordpress.com

Oct 16 Interview

Oct 17 Writing sci fi

www.rhiannon-hart.blogspot.com

Oct 18 Heroines in YA

www.yareads.com

Oct 19 The Boy in this story; creating male characters in heroine driven YA.

http://www.thephantomparagrapher.blogspot.com

Rosie Black’s past & future

http://belka37.blogspot.com

Oct 20 Interview

http://sallymurphy.blogspot.com