Review: The Smallest Thing

SmallestThing
Lisa Manterfield. Steel Rose Press, $16, 288p. ISBN 9780998696928

“Curiosity didn’t kill the cat, it gave her material for stories.” Thus says author Lisa Manterfield, who presents her second curious novel, The Smallest Thing. Set in the Derbyshire Dales village of Eyam, The Smallest Thing is inspired by the historical plague that overtook Eyam in the 1600s and led to quarantine of the village. In The Smallest Thing, Manterfield’s protagonist, Emmott Syddall, finds herself in a similar quarantine which keeps her from fulfilling her desire to move to London, and ultimately leads her to grow while questioning what she really wants to do with her life.

Manterfield has described herself as loving “fish-out-of-water stories of ordinary people in extraordinary situations, especially if those situations delve into the unexplained.” At closer to eighteen than seventeen years old, self-centered Emmott is quite decided on leaving her small-town life in Eyam and strained relationship with her father. Wanting to be with her boyfriend, Ro, and having found a job and apartment in London, Emmott plans to move within a matter of days from the novel’s opening. A sudden outbreak of an unknown illness traps Emmott in the middle of a mysterious sickness, complete with a village-wide quarantine, HAZMAT suits, and situation briefs. Though she searches for a way outside the town’s boundaries, Emmott is unable to find an escape past the quarantine, and when Ro abandons their plans to move, Emmott is left with crushed dreams and nothing to do but ride out the outbreak.

In The Smallest Thing, Manterfield explores not only the historical effects of quarantine, but also the personal effects of being held in close proximity with the same people for long periods of time. As a teenager, Emmott has not yet learned to think of how her actions affect the people around her. When she is forced by the quarantine to zero in on her relationships with her father, best friend, neighbors, and even Ro, Emmott learns things about the people closest to her that she didn’t know before. She also gets a rude awakening of what it is to be alone – the very state of being that she was running toward by planning to move to London.

“I can’t count the number of times I’ve wished I could be alone. I couldn’t wait to get away from the village and out from under the watch of my parents, to be free to be myself and do my own thing, without other people and their opinions getting in the way. I wished so hard for that, and now I’ve got it. Now I am completely alone.”

– Chapter 28, Page 236

Well-written with a delicious dose of descriptive setting and metaphor, The Smallest Thing is a lesson in growing to recognize more than just a personal struggle when disaster strikes the people closest to you.

 

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Cover Reveal: ISAN

ISAN
Mary Ting
Publication date: May 1, 2018
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult

The world has changed.

Scientists warned it would happen.

Meteors devastated the Earth. World Governments developed plans to help surviving citizens. The United States disbanded and salvageable land was divided into four quadrants—North, South, East, and West—governed by The Remnant Council.

Struggling to survive, seventeen-year-old Ava ends up in juvenile detention, until she is selected for a new life—with a catch. She must be injected with an experimental serum. The results will be life changing. The serum will make her better. To receive the serum Ava agrees to join a program controlled by ISAN, the International Sensory Assassin Network.

While on a training mission, she is abducted by a rebel group led by a guy named Rhett, and is told that not only does she have a history with him, but her entire past is a lie perpetuated by ISAN to ensure her compliance. Unsure of who to trust, Ava must decide if her strangely familiar and handsome captor is her enemy or her savior—and time is running out.

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Author Bio:

International Bestselling Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one – Something Great. Why the pen name, “M. Clarke”? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book, No Bullies Allowed.

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Guest Post and Excerpt: The Invasion

Invasion

As the popular quote goes, “Hindsight is 20/20.” Looks like this is true of even authors. Next week, Book 4 of The Union Series is published, continuing a four-year-long telling of an American dystopia. Author T.H. Hernandez has taken a journey of her own, along with her readers, in discovering her characters – enough to feel a desire to revise Book 1, published back in 2014.

Here’s a look into what moved T.H. Hernandez to better Book 1, The Union, followed by an excerpt of her latest book, The Invasion!

The Invasion (The Union Series, #4)
T.H. Hernandez
Publication date: August 1, 2017
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult


From the Author: How writing Book Four led to revision of Book One

“When I first published The Union three years ago, it was the first novel I’d written. It had been through more than thirty rounds of edits, incorporated feedback from a publisher, an agent, and my critique partners, and had been professionally edited. However, when I went to pull some quotes for an upcoming blog tour, I realized my characters didn’t sound like themselves.

THAfter writing three more books in the series and outlining a fourth, I know my characters so much better. Even though they go through incredible growth throughout the series, they are essentially themselves, and I wanted them to sound that way.

In addition to fixing character inconsistencies, I shaved off close to 12,000 words without altering the storyline. The result is a faster-paced story that I hope readers will embrace.”


 

EXCERPT FROM The Invasion:

Liquid fills my nose and mouth and I claw in front of me, searching for the surface. I gasp, choking on a combination of air and water, and shove my drenched hair out of my face. Hercules One holds an empty bucket at his side, water still dripping from the rim.

Dizziness takes hold when I sit up, my body tilting. H-1 grabs my biceps, yanking me to my feet mere moments before my head would have conked on the concrete. Guess he wants the honor of doing the head conking himself.

Something about my face doesn’t feel right. My fingers run over the planes of my face, hitting a tender spot on my cheek. Pain shoots through my jaw and into my head while stars dance across my vision until everything disappears.

Another blast of water hits my face and my eyes fly open to a pair of cold blue ones staring back at me. “Where did you train?” Draya asks.

My lips part to tell her off, but the words catch on their way out.

Hercules Two approaches me, and without warning his fist is in my stomach. A yell tears from my raw throat and I double over, screaming through my teeth.

“Where. Did. You. Train.”

“In the Northwest,” I gasp.

“Where in the Northwest? Which camp?”

The pain begins to ebb, allowing me to control my mouth. If I tell them what they want, they’ll have no reason to keep me alive. I’m just not sure how much I can tolerate before I verbally vomit the truth along with the threatening bile. H-2 strikes the left side of my face with the back of his hand, sending blinding pain racing from my head into my spine.

“Northwest Seven,” I scream. Shit, at this rate, I’ll tell them everything and be dead within an hour.

Draya’s eyes dim rather than brighten with the information. “Now we’re getting somewhere. Who was with you?”

“Other recruits. There was a whole truckload of us, plus all the kids already there.”

She narrows her gaze before turning on her heel and leaving the room, returning a few moments later with a tablet. “Several soldiers left that camp unauthorized, including the commander. Who was your commander, and where is he now?”

What the hell? First, I’m not telling her anything about Cyrus, even if she tortures me, but second… “Don’t you know who the commander was?”

Her only response is an unblinking stare.

The open-palmed slap doesn’t hurt any less as it rocks my head to the side. The stakes are too high now, and I manage to keep my mouth shut. “Answer the commander,” H-2 snarls.

I bite my lips together and prepare for the next blow, another backhand across my face. In an instant, the face of the first girl I shot to save Marcus’s life flashes before me. I close my eyes and do my best to stand a little straighter and take the next strike as penance for her. The fist in the gut is for the boy I killed, and I crumple to the floor. The boot to my ribs is for the kids blown up when the explosives went off. I hear the first crack, more than feel it. What they’re doing to me pales in comparison to what I did. I can take this, I deserve it. But I can’t prevent the small whimpers from escaping with each kick until the merciful darkness comes to take me again.


The complete series:

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Book One, The Union, is only 99¢ for a limited time!

 


About the Author

T.H. Hernandez is the author of young adult books. The Union, a futuristic dystopian adventure, was a finalist in the 2015 San Diego book awards in the Young Adult Fiction category.

T.H. loves pumpkin spice lattes, Game of Thrones, Comic-Con, Star Wars, Doctor Who marathons, bad lip-reading videos, and all things young adult, especially the three young adults who share her home.

When not visiting the imaginary worlds inside her head, T.H. Hernandez lives in usually sunny San Diego, California, with her husband and three children, a couple of cats, and a dog who thinks he’s a cat, affectionately referred to as “the puppycat.”

You can find T.H. online at http://thhernandez.com

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Release: An Impossible World

An Impossible World
S.P. Cervantes
Publication date: July 25, 2017
Genres: Adult, Dystopian, Romance


What would happen if terrorism spread and hate took over? What would the world become?

Isabella (Belle) Grey trained throughout her entire adult life to protect those around her –training that would prove invaluable in her quest to make a new life. Forced to live in an impossible world, terror was not only right outside the walls of her protected community, but also raging behind the walls of her very own home.

No longer willing to put up with her husband’s drunken abuse, Belle made the desperate decision to run away from the safety of her community and escape alone into the broken world beyond. Chased by death as bombs exploded in the distance, her next decision might not only save her life, but could potentially bring light back into her darkened soul.

When faced with the impossible, Belle found strength in an unsuspecting stranger who set her path in a new direction – one she never considered.

Fear. Love. Revenge. Strength … all come together in this epic tale of fate and survival.

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S.P. Cervantes is the author of the acclaimed contemporary romance series, A Broken Fairy Tale series. S.P. is also the author of the highly-rated young adult romantic fantasy trilogy, Secrets of Shadow Hill, that has been described as, “Twilight meets Harry Potter.” It’s not your typical romantic fantasy.

S.P Cervantes lives in Orange County, California with her husband and three children, where she is a teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family, writing, reading, and running, but is always thinking of an idea for her next novel.

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