Saturday, October 25, 2014

Blog Tour Review & Book/Swag Giveaway (INT): The Summer of Shambles by Ebony McKenna

The Summer of Shambles

Ebony McKenna

Goodreads | Amazon | Tour 

Publication Date: April 5th 2010

Publisher: Egmont

Pages: 305 (2013 Ebook Edition)

Genre:  Comedy, Fantasy-esque, Young Adult
15-year-old Ondine is struggling to fit in at Psychic Summercamp and doubts she possesses any of her family’s magical abilities. She resolves to leave, determined to follow her own path and be a normal teenager. Whatever normal is in a place like Brugel.
On the way home Ondine is shocked when her pet ferret Shambles starts talking – in a cheeky Scottish accent no less! He is in fact a young man trapped in a witch’s curse. When he briefly transforms into his human self, Ondine is smitten. If only she can break the spell for good, Shambles can be handsomely human on a full-time basis.
During the summer, these two misfits uncover a plot to assassinate a member of the royal family and discover a secret treasure that has remained hidden for decades. This attracts the attention of the arrogant Lord Vincent, and Ondine can’t help being drawn in by his bad-boy charm.
With so many demands on Ondine’s attentions – and affections – normal has never seemed so far away.
The Summer of Shambles is the first in the four-part ONDINE series. Fans of The Princess Bride or the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series will love this delightfully quirky fairytale.

Before I can mention anything else, I have to say that this book has a very strong voice. It's strength was actually jarring for me when I first began to read, but it soon became one of my favourite things about the book.

The Summer of Shambles is a fantasy book in the guise of a contemporary novel (well sort of contemporary as it was written to take place in contemporary pre-internet) It takes place in an imaginary Eastern European country called Brugel. Never heard of it? That's okay, because there are footnotes to help keep you up to speed. This country boosts a high population of psychics and even has a psychic summer camp, which is where Ondine, our main character has been sent, despite the fact she has no psychic skills to think of and would really rather go home. Thus our story upons up with her doing just that, along with the ferret that had decided to befriend her while she was there.

Then of course as she is heading home the ferret, in a very strong Scottish brogue, suddenly starts talking to her.

I think that if I had read this book when I was younger (maybe around Middle School) it would have been one of my favourite books. It's got a quirkiness to it that I really like and the voice and style of the book would have really appealed to me at that age. There is a lot of suspension of reality that I sometimes had issue with as well that I think younger me would have had absolutely no trouble with. (Oh man, that makes me feel old suddenly).

The characters are very strong in their portrayals. You won't be mistaking one character for another. The plot is simple but interesting, none-the-less. And the ending does well to open it up for the rest of the books in the series, I believe.

The most interesting and unique thing in The Summer of Shambles however, is how Ebony McKenna deals with exposition. Due to the voice of the book and the setting. This book could have been weighed down by pages of exposition. Instead, McKenna, footnotes the book with hilarious explanations or further tidbits about characters. I always looked forward to reading them at the end of each chapter and in a material copy of the book, I'm sure there are some readers constantly flipping back and forth to read them as they hit them.

To sum it up, I really enjoyed reading this book, and will probably read it again (and the sequels). The world is unique, the portrayal simple, but enjoyable. The characters strong and the voice of the book is entertaining. Try not to let logic cloud your reading experience too much though.


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For about a month I was completely without internet, without any way to post reviews or really anything else. Today I finally was able to get it installed (all the paperwork and scheduling took way longer than expected here in the land of Japan.

You should be seeing the reviews that I am in need of posting, though due to the fact that NaNoWriMo is coming up, I'll be reading a lot less this upcoming month and instead writing :D

I'm also going to Tokyo for a once and a life time performance (Sayumi Michishige, from Morning Musume '14's Graduation Concert).

Happy to be back on the web.