Book Reviews: Frost & Thorns by Kate Avery Ellison

I know I haven’t posted in an eternity, but I’ve been extremely busy. While I would’ve liked to write and complete something worthy of posting over the summer, I did not have the chance. For the first half, I was studying abroad in France. I did get around to some writing during the second half, but this was after giving myself a month to relax and do nothing whatsoever. Then, shortly after I had started a new piece, fall semester arrived again. This term, like most, has had me completely busy with class and homework, but I have a job now as well. So, sadly, I’ve had to neglect my writing.

But I have been reading a lot still, and while this won’t be an original piece, I wanted to share my thoughts on two young adult novels I recently read: Frost and Thorns, the first and second books of The Frost Chronicles series by Kate Avery Ellison. Check out her blog here (where she was nice enough to respond to a comment of mine).

Below are the reviews I wrote awhile ago for LibraryThing. While the first is a full-fledged review, the second is a shorter bit of thoughts.

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Frost.

Oh boy. I completely devoured this book in two days (which is fast considering my busy schedule!). And I loved every moment of it.

In Frost, Kate Avery Ellison has constructed a world quite different than our own, but not so much so as to be unimaginable. The perfect balance between description and action, this young adult novel has a plot that moves at just the right pace. I became completely invested in the narrator, Lia Weaver, and the lives of those around her.

At first, I couldn’t help but think the novel had a Hunger Games feel to it – the quota, rations, and general life of the people in the village in addition to the kind of responsibility that’s put on Lia made it impossible not to compare her to Katniss. But Ellison’s novel and narrator are something else entirely. Responsible, worried, caring, strong, in tune with her feelings despite being a little closed off, fearful yet brave – all this and more make Lia the likable protagonist she is.

She and the other town villagers have one major threat: the Watchers. These mysterious and dangerous creatures are monsters that stalk the woods at night. Are they animal or are they something else, something mechanical? I’m not quite sure yet. Another young adult fiction novel came to mind for me here: James Dashner’s The Maze Runner and its creatures called Grievers. In both novels, the creatures are a mysterious and lurking threat that keep those they stalk inside at night. I don’t know enough about the Watchers yet, but they are more important than they initially seem. And they are only a tiny part of Frost’s plot.

Lia, after helping her sister rescue a young man dying in the woods, is torn between fear of the stranger Gabe and interest in him. She discovers secrets that make her question how well she knew her dead parents. Corrupt political powers and a secret conspiratorial group in revolt emerge, and the plot thickens. The novel has a lot going on… in a good way. As the intriguing conflicts build up, the mystery of it all becomes all the more appealing.

I found myself completely sucked into this story – I stayed up later than I should’ve and even snuck in a few pages at work and in class when I could. Frost is a great start to the series, and I will definitely be picking up the next book.

Thorns.

Thorns is a great followup to Frost and does not disappoint. This time around we get to know some of the other characters a little better, and new enemies are introduced. The strain on the villagers is greater than ever, and someone needs to do something. Lia and Adam take action, working as Thorns operatives, and their relationship begins to grow. The Brewer boy turns out to be a very intriguing and likable character, and Lia establishes herself a little more. Her siblings also break somewhat free from their ‘children stuck at home’ roles.

While I could see some things coming, it was never far ahead of the narrator herself discovering them, and this novel definitely had moments that left me shocked. I can’t wait to read the third in the series… just patiently waiting for it to be released on Smashwords so I can read it on iBooks. :)

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I have yet to read Weavers, Bluewing, or Aeralis, the final three novels of the series, because I am waiting on a particular format to be released, but I definitely recommend this series to anyone who enjoys young adult / dystopian fiction and doesn’t take reading too seriously – after all, it doesn’t always have to be academic; reading for fun is important, too. Here are the links to all five novels on Amazon:
Frost
Thorns
Weavers
Bluewing
Aeralis

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A Reading of A Flawless Fabrication

Lately I’ve been quite interested in hearing poetry spoken rather than just reading it, so I figured I would give reading my own poems aloud a shot. In addition to the reading I uploaded of Frozen Ponderings, I’ve made one for A Flawless Fabrication.

A Flawless Fabrication

We were lying in the grass together,
Gazing up at the spill of stars across the obsidian sky
With our fingers carelessly intertwined
And our hearts engaged in a modest foxtrot,
No sense of time passing,
Only the melody of the moon:
Thousands of insects harmonizing under the crescent glow;
Light languidly dripping from the heavens
Landed on the earth around us as fireflies,
And the cool summer breeze
Encouraged us to seek warmth from each other.

The only way it could have been more perfect,
Is if it had actually happened.

A Reading of Frozen Ponderings

Frozen Ponderings

Smoky grey tendrils of warmth creep from
deep within my lungs and escape
into the surrounding frost until
they are lost, swirling away into the icy air
as my hair is misted with crystals.

Is this breath the only distinction
between the biting cold death that awaits
in nature’s frozen château
and the flow of hot blood indubitably
indicating my life?

Naked silhouetted tree limbs sway
in the moon’s silvery light, and as the wind dances
the cold fingers on their branches reach out
imploringly, to touch my cheek
with whispered queries of their own.

Confessions to those I’ve loved and to those I didn’t quite.

While I will not say whether this is all true or made up, I do want to clarify that the *emotion* was not fabricated, for if it were, I certainly would not have been so cheesy and full of clichés. Thirteen “you”s are not necessarily thirteen *different* “you”s, but this deserved thirteen separate “confessions,” if not more.

Confessions to those I’ve loved and to those I didn’t quite.

1. Because we were a secret for so long, I had a really hard time being with you in public once we could actually be seen. To me, we only existed during the midnight walks, the phone calls that lasted until three in the morning, the rides to nowhere in your shitty old car, and the countless hours spent hidden in my covers.

2. Even though I have no intention of you and me ever being an us again, I sill get a bit of a thrill knowing I could have you if I wanted. I feel as if I have some sort of special claim on you or some permanent place in your heart, and even though it’s selfish, I like to remind myself of this every once in a while.

3. You made me do things I never thought I would do, be someone I never thought I would be, and what’s even worse is that I thoroughly enjoyed it and only experienced inklings of guilt. And because of that, if some day we could possibly be together, though the chance is slim, I would turn the opportunity down; I let you behave badly with me despite having her, but I would never be with someone whom I thought would do that to me.

4. I worshiped you once, was completely infatuated with you and the idea of getting your attention, but now I find you absolutely pathetic. At one time any interaction with you made me delightfully nervous, and when you placed your hand under my chin and pulled my face towards yours, I couldn’t imagine anything ever comparing. Now, just the idea of you and your distorted perception of your self-worth disgusts me. But I almost pity you, because you’ll surely end up alone since no one ever even comes close to being good enough for you.

5. The first time you kissed me was brilliant, to be sure, but the best moment for me was the long hug goodbye that night, when our bodies couldn’t have been pressed more closely together and my heartbeat was speeding out of control. I felt so emotionally connected to you, and I didn’t think that was possible for me. I still feel a little sad wondering how things would’ve been had they worked out and remembering how the contact simply ceased and everything dissolved with no real closure.

6. You were the first person for whom I ever went out on a limb, who fascinated me so completely in such a short amount of time that I couldn’t let the opportunity pass. I had such high hopes; nothing had ever been so long-lasting but so rarely occurring until you, so I thought it might be real. But you disappointed me. You didn’t give me just enough to tease me and make me desire you all the more; you just didn’t give me enough, period.

7. I had fun with you and all my feelings were legitimate, but I never had any intentions of it turning into anything serious. You had a reputation, and I’m pretty sure you only had one goal. So I let you believe that, just maybe, you would get what you wanted in time and once things progressed. But you were never someone I could actually see myself with long-term. It’s okay that you were trying to use me; I was pretty much using you, too.

8. I am absolutely terrified by the idea that my feelings for you will never go away, but it also scares me to think that I could someday forget about you. I don’t know how or why I still care about you so deeply after all this time. I don’t know if I project my ideals onto you and my perception of you is really just a skewed version of reality. But it kills me that nothing has ever happened between us, nothing that truly counts by normal standards at least, and I want nothing more than for you to come home and show me that you still want me, too. I want us to finally have our moment.

9. You broke my heart so quickly simply in trying so hard not to hurt me. All your concerns and advice, all your baggage that you didn’t want to subject me to, just made you even more perfect and one hundred percent more desirable to me. Despite all the mixed signals and confusion, the envy and the wish that you wanted to be with me, too, what made me the saddest, what made me actually want to cry, was the thought of you going back to her and letting her treat you so poorly. You don’t deserve that at all, and she doesn’t deserve you.

10. On one hand, I desperately wish I could see you again, but on the other, I know we left things off on the perfect note, in the loveliest way, and I don’t want to risk souring what is so fantastically dreamlike and seems to be once-in-a-lifetime. You were stimulating and amusing, gentle yet pressing. You were the epitome of everything I’ve ever wanted in a guy and exactly how a guy should be, and you reminded me not to settle, to keep searching for someone who both deserves me and is deserved by me.

11. It was meaningless and half-remembered. No, it was even less than that; I only have glimpses of it in my memory, and I wish it would have never happened. It’s truly not your fault that I resent you as much as I do, that I feel needlessly and unreasonably angry whenever you’re around, that the slightest idiosyncrasies of yours make me sick. It wasn’t really anything you did that made my early feelings toward you completely flip. I’m sorry that I detest you now, for no real good reason; I’m just glad you’re completely unaware of it.

12. I never knew I had unresolved feelings for you until you moved on for good. Knowing that and seeing you two together made me miserable. Being around you guys was practically unbearable, but it would’ve been worse not being around you at all. So I suffered through it, even though all I wanted to do was sit alone and cry about it, cry over you. I’ve never had the need to be particularly convincing or persuasive before, but I really wish that, somehow, I would’ve been able to change your mind.

13. I still get touchy when your name comes up, and I feel flustered whenever I happen to see you somewhere. I think I still hate you sometimes, but other times, I think I might still like you. I sometimes miss you, as strange as that is. And I wish I could’ve been different, could’ve been better. You were the first person to make me trust, to make me feel comfortable with another, to make me open up. You were the closest I ever got to love.

Throwback Poetry

Okay, it’s about time I posted something… even if it is ridiculously embarrassing. I’ve decided to share some very old poems I wrote way back when I was a little baby sophomore in high school. Four years ago, during the 2008/2009 school year, we did a segment on poetry in my English class. Here is the, admittedly awful, result.

Freefall

Looking out over the edge,
Like the autumn leaves in the wind
Thoughts swirling in my head,
Toes gripping the rocky sand,
Remembering the initial urge,
Forgetting nervous fears,
A rush of adrenaline takes over,
My thoughts are silenced
As my heartbeat fills my ears,
Like the pounding of a drum,
Steady and strong until
The release,
Anxious skips replace the beat,
As I freefall down,
Down into nothingness,
Only empty space and cool air
Rushing over my body,
A shiver builds up,
And it’s finished with a splash,
Suddenly submerged
Into the icy wet landing,
And I am human again.

Blue Flames

Blue flames dance behind his eyes,
Green light blazes behind hers,
Colors collide to make a screaming eruption,
Their eyes meet for the first time,
Two heartbeats speed up,
Hers throbbing perfectly in time with his,
His trying to keep a steady pace,
In their secret unknown rhythm.
Streams of crimson rush,
Racing to accentuate her cheeks,
His insides twist and flutter,
She melts at his smile,
And a need is formed within both,
Creating a dilemma.
Her fingers are longing to struggle free,
Wishing to be released
From the hand she is already holding,
An emptiness forms in her heart,
A space only blue flames could fill,
And she walks on,
Leaving what would complete her behind.

Sand Songs

You were sand slipping through my fingers,
There for a moment
But always disappearing,
I was leaves on a tree,
Forever returning to your grasp,
I sat idle and waiting,
While you disposed of many hearts,
Searching for one to make yours sing,
To add harmony to your melody.
But your heart was always singing too loudly
To hear a quiet harmony,
Perfectly in tune
With your everything,
I was the unknown partner to your beautiful duet.
Sifting sands turned still
And a tree sprouted up,
Now you are the leaves of this tree,
Forever requiring nourishment
From my sunlight,
But I am sand slipping through your fingers,
No longer returning to your grasp,
Searching for a new harmony
For my melody,
To complete my duet.

Winter, A Piece of Flash Fiction

I found this image online this evening and decided to write a bit of flash fiction using it as inspiration. Everything was going well when I realized something. I was writing something very closely related to another story I had started once but never finished. Realizing this, I went with it.

Fortunately, I happened to have this other story on my laptop (which I didn’t own at the time of its composition). Normally I don’t share my older writing, but I thought it was kind of interesting how a previous plot of mine had come creeping back into my brain. So I’ve decided to share both works.

The first link is the piece I wrote this evening; the second is the start of a story I began over two years ago and haven’t really touched since. I hadn’t even formally named it; I saved the document as simply ‘Winter.’ I imagine the newer work could be a scene that occurs as part of the same story as the first piece, just later on (and, of course, skipping a bunch of stuff).

Read them in whichever order you desire.

Flash Fiction 10.3.12

Winter