Title: Alice Will (Dreams of Chaos #1)
Author: Ashley Chappell
Publisher: Center One Books
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Acquired Via: TLC Book Tours
With her leaky powers and premature smiting problem, fourteen year-old Trotter was still just trying to get the hang of the demi-godding business when the apocalypse began. In a world where the gods have withdrawn from humanity, leaving mortals bitter toward magic, she finds herself torn between the human and the goddess in her. When the world begins to fade away and she becomes the prime suspect, her search to determine the cause and prove her innocence ends up revolving around a mysterious little girl named Alice. Then she discovers that not all of the gods had been as distant as they seemed...
Now, with everyone against her and the gods fighting amongst themselves, Trotter is on her own to save her world and stop a spiteful god from using Alice to destroy everything.
If there is one thing that social networking has done better than anything else for us writers, it’s how obsessed it’s made us over word count. How many times have we all felt good about a 500 word day just to turn on Facebook and see someone’s status update with a 5,000 word day? It makes your own hard work feel insignificant in comparison, no matter how hard you sweated over those 500 precious words. That feeling is never worse than when writer’s block hits and I had a doozy of a case just a few weeks ago.
At one point while I was sipping coffee on the patio and grousing about the roadblocks on my current WIP, I spotted a fuzzy little inchworm making his way ever so slowly across the glass tabletop. Aside from being adorable – as is anything fuzzy with the exception of belly lint – this little guy instantly became the mascot for that evil case of writer’s block I’d been fighting. Watching him inch along that table on the hour-long trek that would get him to the other side, I was certain he was making far better progress that I would when I got to work that morning.
Then another thought somehow managed to pierce the miasma of self-pity: What if we’re totally wrong about the inchworm? What if, in his cute little inchworm mind, he’s galloping?
He has no concept of speed as we know it – a breeze from a jogger might be a tornado – yet we judge him solely by our own standards and even use him as a metaphor when we’re getting nowhere fast. How unfair is that to the inchworm? As I watched him go I realized something else: We, as writers, are judging ourselves in exactly the same way. We can talk all day long about how we realize that the process is different for everyone. It sounds good, it sounds lofty, it sounds right. Then, in the dark when no one can see us, we secretly compare word counts and pages and berate ourselves for not being as productive or prolific as so-and-so while promising ourselves that tomorrow we’ll do better.
Better…. By whose standards? Not our own, obviously, otherwise we wouldn’t let ourselves feel bad about our own work simply because our output is less than another writer’s. Setting our standards based on the output of other writers is no different that berating the inchworm for taking forever to cross the table. We all start the book at the same point and yes, some of us will finish far faster than others. But the important part isn’t your pace; it’s that you finish the race!
So for my part, I’m looking forward to seeing another inchworm on my patio. I want to see him gallop with the wind in his bristles and then look forward to getting back to my own work, no matter how many words I write that day. Even if it’s only inch by inch, at least I know I’m still going to cross the finish line.
A lot of YA fantasy novels that I read these days seem to be dark or romance-based. Alice Will by Ashley Chappell is something refreshing that I've been missing lately - a whimsical fantasy novel in the vein of Diana Wynne Jones.
Now as to whether Alice Will itself is YA, it was kind of hard for me to put a finger on. There were times that it read like a middle grade novel because of the characters and humor, but the writing style definitely pushed it towards being something for a more advanced reader. There were a lot of descriptions that made for a slow build to action, and the word usage and writing style was certainly not juvenile most of the time.
The characters that I brought up a moment ago were very young and fun, and I think Prowler was my favorite. I don't care how they act or what the story is about, but if you give me a talking cat, it's going to be my favorite character. Period. For some reason, he reminded me a bit of Luna and Artemis from the old Sailor Moon TV show. Again, how could I not love a snarky cat?
Something truly unique about Alice Will is the mythology. There are gods and magic, but they aren't any that you typically see. You know, original, not Greek or formulaic fantasy goodness. It is always refreshing to enter and explore a new world, but at the same time, it can be frustrating when the pace slows. (It's slow for me when I don't know what's going on.)
Alice Will by Ashley Chappell was a fun book to read, and I think it will be a hit for teens who enjoy a more romance-free fantasy novel. I think fans of Jones' Howl's Moving Castle and Neil Gaiman's Stardust will enjoy reading this book.
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About the Author
Ms. Chappell currently resides in Huntsville, AL with the love of her life. During her writing time her cats sometimes share her lap with her computer, should they choose to allow the usurpation at all. When not writing, reviewing, or burying her nose in one of her well-worn Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman novels, she can be found sailing with her fiancé on their boat ‘Dupracity’ (Fans of Kurt Vonnegut will want to ask her what that means!).
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the author through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me.