YA Weekend: Review of Lumière and New Author Spotlight: Jacqueline Garlick
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Book 1 of Illumination Paradox
Publisher: Amazemo Books (December 3, 2013)
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
I thought Lumière was fantastic, so much so that I read the whole book in a day. Some parts even made me want to give this one a 4.5 or 5 stars, simply because for an independently published Young Adult novel I thought this was really impressive.
As you know, I’m a pretty picky reader when it comes to the YA category, plus I don’t always jump on board with self-pubs or indies. Still, this book’s description drew me in when it was brought to my attention; something about the story just struck the right tune with me. Right away, I knew I had something good when the prologue opened with an introduction to the heroine Eyelet (what a charming name!) at age eight at the time, looking upon a brass mechanical steam-powered elephant at a carnival. What else will I find in this world?
Fast forward to the first chapter and we see Eyelet as a seventeen-year-old, nine years after that fateful day at the carnival where a mysterious flash lit the skies and changed the world. Troubled by occasional seizures and desperate to hide her illness from the authorities, Eyelet is determined to hunt down the Illuminator, a fantastical machine that was invented years ago by her brilliant scientist father. The machine may be her only chance to cure herself, but first she has to find it before her father’s old nemesis gets to it first.
Jacqueline Garlick made it easy for me to root for her characters by giving them such endearing and energetic personalities. Not far into the story we get to meet Urlick Babbit, the young man who unwittingly rescues our heroine as she escapes capture from her enemies. The poor guy had no idea what he was in for! Even with Eyelet and her total disregard for other people’s privacy or some of the churlish questions that spills out of her mouth, I couldn’t help but find myself amused by the dynamics between these two, as something deeper begins to develop between them. I also like that they’re not a conventional couple. Eyelet has her nettlesome qualities and Urlick isn’t your usual drop-dead gorgeous Prince Charming, having experienced injuries during his birth that marred his appearance. I found their relationship very unique and refreshing.
Again, I just can’t get over how rich the setting is. It’s an original world packed with amazing qualities, flavored with a healthy dose of magic and steampunk. Here and there you will find all sorts of quirky mechanical creations and bizarre creatures — some that are helpful like Eyelet’s ravens, others that aren’t so friendly like the zombie/ghoul-like Turned. There’s also a good chunk of the book where Eyelet is holed up at Urlick’s place, trapped there because of the dangerous Vapours storms, where she discovers all sorts of gadgets and other wonky inventions designed and constructed by the strange boy. Even though this section was a slower break from the action, I was kept interested, never knowing what Eyelet would find next in Urlick’s hideout.
I very much appreciated the nice blend of fantasy with the action-adventure elements of this one. And I was honestly surprised with the quality of the writing and storytelling; whatever polish it requires is very minimal, and as a whole the story was presented exceptionally well and flowed naturally. I wouldn’t have devoured this book so quickly if it hadn’t, and certainly the fun factor of the plot didn’t hurt. I knew I was hooked when as soon as I finished the book, I went online and checked if there was an estimated release date for the next book. Alas, it won’t be for a while yet, but definitely something to look forward to.
Jacqueline was nicknamed “Little Erin” (as in Erin Brockovich) after she took on her school board over being placed in black toxic mould and, well…lost. BUT if she hadn’t lost, she’s still be teaching with no time for writing, which would be the real tragedy because more than anything else in the world Jacqueline loves to write.
What are your favorite books and how have they influenced your writing?
My favourite books are many, but I’ll talk about a few that have really stuck with me here. First, I’d have to say, CRANK by Ellen Hopkins really changed the way I looked at storytelling. The fact that she could tell a such a poignant and moving story in so few words, and in such free flowing verse, opened up a whole new world for me as a writer. It was like she gave me permission to experiment with methods of expressing my characters voices, including breaks from prose into enjambment, which I absolutely love. Another book that is not only a favourite but has enriched my craft is WATER FOR ELEPHANTS. I fell instantly in love with the main character, an old man in a nursing home, flashing back to his life when he was young, and found myself cheering for him to the final page. I read it once, then read it again, dissecting the author’s technique in order to better understand what went into the character that I loved so much, and why. Lastly, I really enjoyed DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, by Laini Taylor. I just loved that book and everything about it. From the absolutely beautiful writing, the author’s wonderful sense of balance between descriptive prose and informative verse, to the battery of unique and compelling characters, and the fantastical, twisty, dreamy plot. Not to mention the romance. A double romance, actually. To me, reading this book was like working me way through a box of fine candy, savouring every piece along the way.
What authors have inspired you?
As mentioned above, Ellen Hopkins has been incredibly instrumental in inspiring me. Ellen is an incredibly talented and generous writer and human being. Ellen is very supportive of new, up-coming writers, offering one of the finest writing mentor programs in America. I had the great fortune or participating in her program, which not only taught me how to write, but helped to educate me about the industry. Other writers who have inspired me are Rumer Godden, Lori Lansens, Anne Sewell. Lori Lansens, is from my hometown, and a former high school friend. Walking through the bookstore one day I came across her book, Rush Holme Road, on the shelf. That was the moment that I believed it was possible or me to succeed as a writer, after all, my friend had. 🙂
Describe your writing process. How do you handle writer’s block and other challenges?
My writing process consists of the creation of a first draft, as quickly as I can, whereby I just allow myself to write and my creativity to flow without stopping to worry about errors, followed by at least three solid passes whereby I focus on certain aspects of the draft. For example, I usually do a pass for the ‘big ticket items’ I call them. During this pass, I look for holes in the plot, concerns of believability, inconsistency in character, that type of thing. The second pass I concern myself with grammar and spelling. And in my final pass, I ‘build character’, meaning, I go through the manuscript and search for places where I can ‘warm’ up the character’s personalities, making dialogue richer and emotion deeper, in an effort to better bring the characters to life on the page.
What are your future writing plans?
Well…I’ll be working on the second book in THE ILLUMINATION PARADOX SERIES, NOIR, of course, but I also plan to release a new three part serial, entitled IF ONLY…, to tide readers over until I’m able to do Book Two justice. The first installment of IF ONLY… should be available by the end of March 2014. IF ONLY… is a contemporary, coming of age mystery/romance, featuring Kyla and Denver and their heart-wrenching story of love and devotion after a tragic accident leaves Denver incommunicable. Or so doctor’s think. In addition to that I have plans to write a New Adult contemporary romance, entitled THE HEARTMENDERS SOCIETY, where we meet twenty-three year old, chronically disorganized, Maizy Mosley on her quest to straighten out her life–one man at a time. To hear about any of these new releases (and participate in fantastic launch contests) readers can keep up with me at: http://www.jacquelinegarlick.com. And to be the first to hear about up-coming releases, and gain access advanced chapters and other special perks, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter!