Oct 25, 2016

Fixing the threads of time || Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Title : Timekeeper
Author: Tara Sim
Release Date: November 8th 2016
Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Two o’clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Quotes mentioned might be subjected to change

I've never shown the slightest interest in reading steampunk before. In fact, the whole genre has never seemed like my cup of tea, so I was surprised at my curiosity about Timekeeper. From the moment I first heard about the story, I really badly wanted to read it, and didn't hesitate when I got a chance to read the ARC. A bit skeptical about what steampunk actually has in store for me, I started Timekeeper with so much curiosity, and it sure did satisfy all that, while delivering a story I straight out adored.

This was familiar. This was what he missed most in the months he'd been away: the thrum of time, the beating of clocks. He used to spend hours in clock rooms before the accident, syncing his heartbeat with that of the clock tower's. There was something else, too - a surge of power that felt like sunlight on skin, warming him from the inside out. Time grew stronger all around them, thickening the fibers.

Danny is a clock mechanic. Living in industrial time London, he has been trained all his life on the art of fixing clocks, maintaining the stability of time and making sure that time runs smooth around him. However, Danny's life as a mechanic isn't smooth - his father is trapped in a town, where time has stopped after a mishap in the town's clock tower while fixing it ; he still hasn't emotionally recovered from the accident he met, while fixing a clock tower ; his relationship with his mother is extremely strained and top of this all, he encounters a clock spirit who evokes forbidden and conflicting feelings in him. Timekeeper is the story of how Danny thrives through all this, along with mystery, romance, betrayals, revelations, emotions which is all brought out with beautiful storytelling.

I was completely fascinated and enthralled by Timekeeper. I've always had a fascination with the subject of time, and the entire concept of how time acts as the axis which decides the lives of human beings was so interesting. Tara Sim gives so much importance and power to time, that you almost feel like it's a main character in the book. Clocks, the mechanism, the technology were all treated almost sacredly, and if I ever visit the Big Ben in my life, I would probably look at it like a shrine, after the image the book has portrayed of the tower.

Some thought the city was chaotic, yet Danny loved it. The cobbled roads, the tall buildings, the history, the technology. London was the thriving pulse of the civilized world. He weaved through ladies with spotless white gloves and grimy chimney sweeps dropping soot wherever they went. Steam and smoke rose from chimneys and engines, forming a gray cloud that loomed over them all.

Danny was a perfect protagonist. His voice was so easy to relate to, and I felt so connected to him and his story. His conflicting emotions with regards to his job as a clock mechanic, his new anxiety  with working with clocks, his strained relationship with his mother and his forbidden feelings for a clock spirit was all well portrayed, and I felt like a part of his journey, emotionally invested in finding out what fate has in store for him.

Colton was just so dreamy. He was so innocent yet so wise, so compassionate and his feelings and emotions were quite strong for someone who has never stepped outside the tower he lives in. There's a part in the story where Danny tells Colton the story of Rapunzel, and it striked me how similar to Rapunzel Colton really was. He was perfect for Danny and I just adored their romance and scorching chemistry.

Danny knew the shape of Colton's lips, the arch of his eyebrows, the whisper of his hand as it slid into his own. The calm measured beats of his voice. He knew the strum and twist of time, the spark of recognition instead of fear. His panic slumbered, tucking its head down.

For the first time in three years, Danny did not have to force his laughter.

I really loved how Danny being gay was portrayed in the book. It wasn't looked at as a criminal offense at that time, but still, Danny's life wasn't made any easy. I liked that his orientation was already established, and Timekeeper was not a coming out story. Don't get me wrong, I am not against coming out stories, but it was nice to read a book where the main character being gay wasn't the central focus or the problem, but rather a contributing factor to his character and development.

Overall, Timekeeper was one enthralling read. The concept is fascinating, the writing is so vivid, and the story is so happening while the mysteries will keep you on edge. In addition, you have this hot and sweet romance between two adorable characters, and you've got yourself one incredible book! I would totally recommend Timekeeper, even if you aren't a big fan of steampunk. because if my experience was an example, skepticism regarding the genre, won't keep you from loving this book.

Oct 15, 2016

For an authentic representation of diversity in your book || A reader's guide for writers

The need and call for diversity is so high and very much acknowledged in the book community - especially in recent times. While the inclusion of diversity - whether it's in the form of main characters of different ethnicities and religions, stories set in foreign countries, characters of different sexualities and orientations and addressing disabilities and mental health - is something that's greatly appreciated, it's also important to note the authenticity of that inclusion and representation. After all, no one would want a stereotypical, unrealistic and purely wrong portrayal of their own minority. It takes away the entire point of having diversity at all.

So that made me think. How can one achieve authenticity in their representation? Unless it's the case of #ownvoices - writers who belong to the minority they're portraying in their book - it is quite hard to be entirely true to the subject matter the author has chosen to embark on. But at the same time, there are certain things a writer can - and sometimes should - do in order to pull off an authentic representation of diversity.

So today, I thought of listing them down for you. I am no writer, but as a reader, a diversity advocate, a person who has befriended enough authors and an aspiring writer, I believe I have some knowledge to offer. Of course, everything might not be relevant for you, or there might be more important things, but here's what I could compile, and let me present to you a guide for featuring authentic representation of your diverse subject matter.

Oct 11, 2016

Top Ten Highly Recommended books I still haven't read

Hi bookworms!

I know, I know, I just disappeared for a long time without a word. Blame goes to school again, as I was stuck with yet another event organizing, which just finished this Friday. So I am back! Kind of. Hopefully, I'll be free for some time before being hauled into something else.

Being part of the book community means that there's never a shortage of recommendations. Whether a book is personally recommended to you, or a title is ever present in twitter, creating a alot of hype in its wake, these neverending recs are a reason to my never reducing TBR pile. So today, I am going to list the top ten highly recommended books, which for some reason I still haven't read.

  1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
The book community keeps throwing this book on my face! :) My love for violence and brutality is not a secret, and this book seems to be the first title that comes to everyone's mind, when I ask for recs. I relly don't know why I haven't picked this book up though. Hopefully, I will, soon.

2. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson is one of those popular authors, I wish I can read at least one book by, just to satisfy my curiosity. I shall tackle you one day Steelheart, wait for me.

3. Game of Thrones by George R.R.Martin

Honestly, I am scared to start this book. Or the TV series. It's just a bit too much, and I wonder whether I can handle it.

4. Splintered by A.G.Howard

To my credit, I actually started this book. And read atleast half of it. And then, for reasons I can't remember I didn't continue. And that's not because I didn't like it either, I actually enjoyed the story a lot. Heaven knows what was running in my mind then. Sigh. Well, hopefully I will take this up the second time, and continue it this time around.

5. Bone Gap by Lauren Ruby

This book sounds amazing. And my curiosity has been raised by Cait's ravings. I shall experience the wonders of this book soon, I hope.

6. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

War fascinates me a lot. And I have a soft corner for fiction based on World War 2, so Code Name Verity is a recommendation which has piqued my curiosity greatly. I just hope I can find a copy soon, since that's the only barrier between this story and me. 

7. Captive Prince by C.S.Pascat

Again, a book I am afriad of. This time regarding the amount of feels it will drown me in, and its intensity. That and the fact that I yet have to find a copy of this one as well.

8. Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kauffman

Another popular title I abandoned halfway for no reason. Actually I think my wary-of-scifi-brain was a bit scared and overwhelmed. I hope to give this one another try though. It sounds too amazing for me to miss out.

9. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J.Mass

This is probably the only book from this list, which I am sure, and vow that I won't read. There's no love lost between Sarah J.Mass and me, and I have bitter feelings about the turn ToG took, and I am mentally not ready for another series. Sorry Mass fans.

10. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Why in the world haven't I read this yet? I can't find a copy, that's all. I probably won't find one in Sri Lankan bookstores and shelves - we still have to go a long way regarding LGBT fiction - but I deeply desire I can get my hands on one soon.

What books have you been recommended often, but yet haven't read?