Daily Archives: Tuesday, 25 February 2014

FFF 25: Outside of the image

laughing Italian menActually, it’s what you don’t see in this photo that makes it interesting. See, these men are actually all the Europeans I could find in Bangkok on one evening, and I’m there in the middle in the back. I ran around the city for several hours trying to round up enough people to make it look like I was in Italy or Greece, and I then I had to get them all to stick around long enough to have their picture taken with me.

They were friendly enough with me, willing to do me a favor in exchange for dinner and cigars, and they were certainly friendly with each other. Look at them all having such a great time! I’d been in a bind because I’d told a friend I’d visited Europe one summer in order to going on a trip with him, and eventually he wanted evidence that I’d actually been there like I said I had. I provided things I’d bought as gifts for family as proof, but he wanted photographs, and I came up with this at the last minute. Well, I guess it wasn’t the last minute, but it was a pretty close shave, if I do say so myself.

I had talked to him about visiting an eatery in Rome; someone had sent me a bunch of white hats and bow ties as a joke once (that’s another story entirely, let me tell you), so I dressed up the men as chefs and sous-chefs in order to make it look authentic. One of the guys even had a lovely, beautiful Spanish wife who managed to get us all into the same shot at the same time—well, except for that guy on the left—and snap a photo for me.

So, what you see here may look like one thing when it’s actually another (but that was the point).

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This post is part of Flash Fiction February.

Twisted

Twisted coverTwisted
By Holly Hook
CreateSpace/self-published
01 December 2013

A piece of science fiction/fantasy for young adults that does not have vampires and werewolves in it? Amazing! Holly Hook’s Twisted has a new take on the word “twisted”—and that’s a good thing. (For comparison, I have three other novels with the same title sitting on my ‘to read’ list, and all three are about broken and confused romances; ugh.) In this novel, however, the protagonist goes from regular teenage girl to Outbreaker (a person who turns into a tornado during storms… yes, really) and I was relieved that I wasn’t reading another overused romantic cliche of a book. Hook’s work is new and engaging.

I noticed a few irritating spelling errors (often, they were actually correctly spelled words used incorrectly) and grammatical mistakes, but I’m always on the lookout for that and I’m willing to give this novel a partial pass because the story is so appealing. I have an ebook version, and I can’t say it’s excellently formatted, but the formatting doesn’t distract from the plot and characters, either.

Allie, the sixteen-year-old protagonist, gets swept into a world she never imagined existed after her tornado-chasing vacation with her uncle takes a turn for the deadly. In the middle of a storm out in the middle of nowhere Nebraska, two adults temporarily kidnap her and bestow upon her the volatile ability to outbreak… All at once, it seems, Allie attracts storms and then becomes part of them, literally. Unable to control her new power, she shifts back and forth between frightened human and disastrous tornado with only so much as a thunder storm to warn the people around her how dangerous she’s suddenly become. She and her best friend Tommy set out to find a way to reverse her transformation, dragging her uncle and an entire Nebraska town with them in the process.

I enjoyed Allie’s realness; we as readers of the supernatural like to think we’d have a good time drinking blood and living forever or being able to move things with our minds, but in reality, that kind of thing is scary. The characters we like in fiction are often the same kind of people who we find creepy or beyond irritating in reality. Allie doesn’t jump at the chance to become a tornado the way I can imagine many other characters in fiction might. She’s afraid. She’s real, and I appreciate that. None of the characters are perfect, including Allie, and that’s what makes them all interesting, not that they have these strange tornado powers and are somehow interesting just because of that.

I don’t want to spoil the story, but I definitely recommend giving it a shot, especially if you like young adult sci-fi and/or fantasy novels but are tired of all the usual suspects. Great job, Holly! (The author also has several other novels published as well, at least one of which is related to Outbreakers, and I’ll be reading them, too, if/when I can get my hands on them. Likewise, Twisted is the first in a trilogy, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of Allie soon!)

DISCLAIMER: I received Twisted free from Mark My Words Publicity for this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.