Saturday 25 June 2011

Book Review - Beast Call & Author Interview

Title: The Beast Call
Author: Anne Tibbets
Series: The Beast Girl (book 1)
Publisher: Premier Digital Publishing LLC
Release Date: 4 May 2011

"The Beast Call" is about seventeen year old Dray, who is no ordinary human. But possessing the magical capability of communicating with animals in a land where magic is feared, is dangerous. When Dray's adventure hungry brother leaves the family farm to join a rebel militia, Dray follows him, but as Dray discovers her natural warrior capabilities, and word of her magical talents are discovered by the rebel General, Dray becomes an intricate part of the revolution, and the evil King Nuro would like nothing more than to see her destroyed.

My Review
I was contacted by the author and sent a copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review.
Can I just say - beautiful cover! 
The Beast Call is set around Dray and Lurin, brother and sister, ordinary people who live in a small community on a farm. Lurin wants more from life than to grow up running the farm and having children, he wants adventure. Dray is more sensible, but has a secret, she can communicate with animals, She has kept her ability hidden from everyone but her brother, as magic is feared in her land.
When Dray is forced into an arranged marriage she decides to leave, and joins Lurin as he goes to join the Militia. The pair start of as servants to the army, but soon Dray's skill and natural talent begins to shine, and her magical gift can be used for the good of the army.
When evil King Nuro discovers this rising talent, he sets out to get rid of her, it's a race against time to see who will win and Dray must use every resource she can if she is going to help them win the battle and stay alive.
This is actually more of a novella, at 72 pages it is short but action packed, there is a lot covered, but not so much that it over powers you.
Dray is a great character, not too confident in her abilities but willing to stand up for what she believes in. I love her connection to the animals and her gentleness with them, but she can be feisty too, and I like that she doesn't just let the men take control, she is willing to fight too.
Lurin started off as being a nice character, a great big brother sort of role model, he seemed to want to look out for his sister, but when she surpassed him with skill in fighting, he turned very sour and jealous. I was so disappointed in him for the way he behaved, but he was very well written, you sort of felt sorry for him whilst wanting to slap him and tell him to stop being such an arrogant pig and to congratulate his sister - I know my brother would. 
The mix of characters in general was great - the leader of the rebel war movement, Dray's skin crawling parents, the lovely Blue ice fairy, the centaurs, it really was a great mix.
It was short but very well thought out and planned and really action packed. I read it in one sitting and really enjoyed it. 
The ending I sort of saw coming, but was happy with where it left, but do want to know what happens next.

My Rating
I would give this book 8/10, a nice quick read full of excitement, action, magic and mayhem. 

Now i hope I've captured you're interest, I have an interview with the author Anne Tibbets, so please give her a warm welcome: 

1) For those reading this that don't know who you are can you give us a quick introduction?

I started my career as a freelance children's television screenwriter for such shows as "The Zach Files" for ABC Family, and "Strange Days at Blake Holsey High" for NBC/Discovery Kids.  I got into writing books after a friend asked if I wanted to write a book together, from that "The Amulet Chronicles, Book One: The Journey Home," a middle grade time travel adventure, came to be.  But what I really wanted to do was write Young Adult Fantasy, so I wrote "The Beast Call," and the rest is history.

2) What was your childhood ambition?

I loved writing as a kid, and used to write stories and pass them around to my friends, but sometime in Junior High I took a Theatre class and caught the acting bug.  I spent High School and part of college trying to be an actress.  Man, did I stink.  During that time, I continued to write short stories for fun, and even won a few writing contests, but it didn't occur to me until half way through college that I should be a writer.  So, I switched my major from acting to play writing and I don't regret it for a moment.

3) What three words would best describe you?

Open.  Honest.  Analytical.

4) When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?  What was the first thing you wrote and how old were you?

It was my 2nd year of college when I realized I wanted to be a writer.  I was complaining to my boyfriend, now my husband, about how I wasn't sure acting was the right choice for me, and we sat and talked about what I really loved. He helped me realize it was the words that spoke to me.  Best choice I ever made.

The first thing I wrote, that's worth mentioning, was a novel when I was thirteen years old.  It was about two fairies on a quest to find a magic crystal.  I still have it.  It was typed on an electric typewriter and full of adventure and drama.  I like to dig it out of my closet and read it now and again. It's not half bad!

5) What was your favourite book(s) as a child? What is it now?

My favorite book as a child was "Dicey's Song" by Cynthia Voight.  I read it in the 4th grade and it completely changed my perception of what a children's book could be.  It still holds up today.  My favorite book now is Markus Zusak's "The Book Thief," which is a masterpiece.

6) Where do you do most of your writing?

I have an office in my house, but it's funny, I do most of my writing on an old Mac laptop at my dining room table.  There's a large window that shows the front of my house and when I need to think, I stare out into the street.  I don't know why, but it's working for me, so I just go with it.

7) Where did the idea for 'Beast Call' come from?

"The Beast Call" was inspired by the many hours I wasted playing World of Warcraft.  I don't play anymore, as time doesn't allow, but when I did, I played a Night Elf druid.  I really enjoyed the animal aspect of that class.  But, I didn't want to copy it exactly, so instead of having a character change into animals, as the druids do in WoW, I had her communicate with animals telepathically.  To make things more complicated, I created the world of Madis where magic is feared, just to give my heroine an added obstacle.

8) Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Not in this book.  I have an unpublished Young Adult contemporary loosely based on my childhood, but I'm still not sure if that book will ever be published.  The liberating part of "The Beast Call" was being able to create characters completely from scratch.

9) Your characters have quite unusual names? Where did you get the names from? How did you pick them?

I played with names and sounds, and tried various combinations. The General had three different names before I came up with Bref'zeene. I tried to have each character start with a different letter, to help the reader keep track.  Weird names can be confusing, especially when there are so many characters to keep track of.

10) Beast Call contains quite a lot of knowledge about Sword Fighting, Plants -especially for healing and War strategy? Where did you learn all this from, did you have to do a lot of research?
There was a time when I worked in television as a Writer's Assistant on a few shows called, "Action Hours."  Each of these episodes had a Stunt Coordinator, who choreographed the fight scenes.  I learned a lot by watching them.  Plus, there are a great many wonderful movies and television shows that feature sword fighting, so I watched quite a few of those and tried to write about it in a way that allowed to reader to visualize the action.  As for the battle plans, I would draw maps of the locations and move chess pieces around it to visualize how the battle would play out. For the plants, the names are made up, so all I had to do there was use my imagination.

11) Dray is lucky and can talk to all animals, but if you could talk to only one breed of animal, which would you pick and why?
If I had to pick only one animal for Dray to communicate with, I think I would pick a large cat, of some kind.  Like a leopard or a mountain lion.  I'm working on that aspect for the sequel, funny enough.

12) Are there any plans for more adventures from Dray and the team? Any sequels in the works?
"The Beast Call" will have a sequel.  I'm about half way through the first draft of "The Beast Reign" where the team is once again forced into battle.  I hope to have it finished by the end of 2011.

13) Do you have any advice for new authors?

My advice for new writers would be to practice, practice, practice.  Write as much and as often as possible, and then once you are done writing it, rewrite it again a minimum of three times.  Also, read often, and join writer associations, like the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. The SCBWI holds seminars and conferences that help writers learn about the publishing business, because as much as the creative writing counts, if you don't know how the business part of the industry works, you will probably not get published.

14)  Is there anything else you want to tell us, either about yourself or your books?
I'm a pretty simple person.  I love ice cream, super heroes and people.  I find people fascinating.  I could spend hours picking a situation apart, and analyzing why people behave the way they do.  I'm sure my friends find it annoying at times. But without people, this world would be awfully dull.

 Thanks Anne, great answers there, I wish you ever success with your writing!
"The Beast Call" is on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords and iBooks. so go grab yourself a copy. :D

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