Review of The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

theforgettingThe Forgetting
By: Sharon Cameron
Release Date: September 13th 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
What isn’t written, isn’t remembered. Even your crimes.

Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person’s memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn’t written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.

My Thoughts:
Sharon Cameron has such an incredible gift in providing unique stories with characters you relate and root for. The Forgetting was no different than her previous books in this regard but the overall feel was much different- it had a more science fiction/dystopian feel to it. I loved the world building and the city of Canaan was so interesting. These people live off the land and confine themselves to a very strict set of rules put into place by the Counsel. Another thing that sets this city apart is that every 12 years something happens that wipes the memories away from everyone living there.

I can’t fathom how it would feel to live knowing that my memory would inevitably be cleared away and all the people I know and love would be strangers to me. Each person in Canaan keeps a journal with all of their truths written down. These books help to keep the memories and events of a person’s life safe. This story idea was so original and really had me considering what it would be feel like.

The main character, Nadia, was different than everyone else in that she can remember. She holds this as a secret but it has her questioning motives, reasons and how it all happens. I loved exploring the world and characters with Nadia and learning as she did. I felt that she was a really easy character to relate to even though  her character rarely speaks.

Nadia’s relationship with Gray was one of my favorite aspects of this book. I loved how their distrust of one another was handled and how through it all they ended up working toward a common goal. Cameron is always so great at creating deep relationships between her characters and the chemistry is always present.

Nadia’s relationships to her family were beautifully executed as well. She has sisters and a mother who withholds affection from her- I couldn’t imagine how lonely Nadia had to be and how much responsibility and sadness came with her ability to remember the past.

Final Thoughts:
As with all of Sharon Cameron’s books, The Forgetting was incredibly well done and an emotional read. The characters were really well developed and I loved all the science fiction bits interwoven with such a strong story line.

Review of Rook by Sharon Cameron

RookRook
By: Sharon Cameron
Release Date: April 28th 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

My Thoughts:
I loved Cameron’s debut duology and was certain that I’d love this book as well because I love her writing style so much. I was right! Rook was another wonderfully imagined story with a historical feel. You can tell that Cameron researches the time period she’s deriving inspiration from and utilizes her knowledge in really unique and wonderful ways.

Rook was told in third person which doesn’t always work for me. I tend to lose a bit of my connection to the characters when told this way but after a slightly slower start I was immersed and really entranced with Sophia. She was head strong, brave yet she wasn’t perfect by any means.

I really enjoy Cameron’s approach to her romances. They never overshadow the storyline and yet they are swoon-worthy. I shipped the couple in this book even though I was never certain of who I could trust 100%. All the characters seemed to have so much they were hiding from each other and it being told in third person really helped keep the mystery of everyone’s motivations.

In high school The Scarlet Pimpernel was one of my favorite assigned reading so I loved that Cameron took bits of that story as inspiration and also tied it into this story. It was done beautifully and hopefully it’ll encourage folks that haven’t read Pimpernel to read it. Another great element that came as a surprise for me was that Rook was set in an apocalyptic world. I didn’t know that going into this one (I rarely read summaries if I know I love the author already). Cameron really took a great approach to a world that has had to restructure and sees the past as a mystery and something to fear.

So, the writing worked for me, and I loved the characters and their interactions. The storyline was gripping and I wasn’t able to predict the outcome so why only 4 stars? Well, my only issue was that the pacing felt off to me. The beginning and end were much slower to me than the middle section and though I was invested in the story the ending felt overly long. This could be a mood thing for me and I’d be interested to hear if you had that same issue if/ when you read it. Regardless, it is a book worth reading.

Final Thoughts:
Rook was another strong novel from Sharon Cameron. I loved her original take on an apocalyptic world as well as her characters. Though the story was full of interesting mystery the ending did drag for me.

Extras:

A Spark Unseen Blog Hop, Day 5

I read and loved The Dark Unwinding (me review), the first in this series, soon after it released. I was swept away in Katharine’s story because of the lavish descriptions, unique characters and beautiful historical setting. I am honored to be part of this blog tour celebrating the next book, A Spark Unseen (my review). Thank you Sharon for your insightful and horrifying information on Lunatic Asylums in the 19th century.

Location Scouting, Charenton Lunatic Asylum

In A Spark Unseen, Katharine is horrified by what she sees in the Charenton Lunatic Asylum. As anyone would have been. The curing of the insane in the 19th century looked more like torture than treatment, and was just as successful as the curing of diseases before we understood the concept of germs. In other words, not really successful at all! Look at this partial list of the number of admissions to Charenton in 1841, and what was considered the cause of these patients’ “lunacy”:

Domestic Chagrins
Libertinage, excesses of all kinds
Suppression of habitual evacuations (constipation!)
Reverse of fortune
Disappointed love
Political causes
Excess of study
Reading of romances

278
146
54
49
37
32
16
13

Chains and cold water shocks were certainly not going to “cure” anyone of these “mental illnesses!”

Charenton Asylum, as it is today, about five miles outside of Paris. Now called Hopital Esquirol

But in spite of all it got wrong, Charenton was actually a very progressive asylum for its time, allowing its quieter inmates menial tasks, fresh air, and the opportunity to socialize. One of its more famous patients, the Marquis de Sade (the man from whom we get the modern term “sadist”) was allowed his own rooms, the ability to publish his writings, and even visits from his wife and female servants. Some of these privileges may have been kinder than was wise!

But whether kindness or cruelty was intended, it doesn’t take away the scariest fact about 19th century asylums: Once you went in, it was very difficult to find a way back out again.

A Spark Unseen (The Dark Unwinding, #2)Summary (via Goodreads):
The thrilling sequel to Sharon Cameron’s blockbuster gothic steampunk romance, THE DARK UNWINDING, will captivate readers anew with mystery and intrigue aplenty.

When Katharine Tulman wakes in the middle of the night and accidentally foils a kidnapping attempt on her uncle, she realizes Stranwyne Keep is no longer safe for Uncle Tully and his genius inventions. She flees to Paris, where she hopes to remain undetected and also find the mysterious and handsome Lane, who is suspected to be dead.

But the search for Lane is not easy, and Katharine soon finds herself embroiled in a labyrinth of political intrigue. And with unexpected enemies and allies at every turn, Katharine will have to figure out whom she can trust–if anyone–to protect her uncle from danger once and for all.

Filled with deadly twists, whispering romance, and heart-stopping suspense, this sequel to THE DARK UNWINDING whisks readers off on another thrilling adventure.

A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron releases September 24th 2013 by Scholastic Press

Find Sharon Cameron:
Website 
Twitter
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Enter to win a finished copy of A Spark Unseen
Find out more about the hop and giveaways here.

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Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour

Review of A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron

A Spark Unseen by Sharon CameronA Spark Unseen (The Dark Unwinding #2)
By: Sharon Cameron
Release Date: September 24th 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pre-order:
Barnes and Noble
Amazon

A copy was provided by the publisher for being on the blog tour and in exchange for an honest review

Rating:
star

Please note: this is a sequel so there might be spoilers for book one, The Dark Unwinding. If you’ve not read the first book my review is here.

Summary (via Goodreads):
When Katharine Tulman wakes in the middle of the night and accidentally foils a kidnapping attempt on her uncle, she realizes Stranwyne Keep is no longer safe for Uncle Tully and his genius inventions. She flees to Paris, where she hopes to remain undetected and also find the mysterious and handsome Lane, who is suspected to be dead.

But the search for Lane is not easy, and Katharine soon finds herself embroiled in a labyrinth of political intrigue. And with unexpected enemies and allies at every turn, Katharine will have to figure out whom she can trust–if anyone–to protect her uncle from danger once and for all.

The Story:
A Spark Unseen picks up two years after The Dark Unwinding. Lane has been absent and Katharine is caring for Uncle Tully and the estate. Cameron continues in the same fashion as her prior novel: eloquent writing, well researched material and compelling subject matter.

As with The Dark Unwinding many plots surround gaining Uncle Tully’s intelligence and creative inventions all in the name of politics. Katharine is single minded in her protection of her Uncle and doing what is right by him. I loved the descriptions of Uncle Tully’s inventions and how they worked.

Cameron did an excellent job giving the reader insight into the politics of the time and day to day life of her characters. Her descriptions of the buildings and people helped to develop my overall impression of the time period and helped to immerse me into the story.  It was fascinating to read the author notes in the back of the book about what aspects were directly derived from history.

The Characters:
I felt that the story was incredibly strong in this book but I was a bit disappointed in the characters.  Everyone in The Dark Unwinding were so unique it was hard not to love each of them and be completely invested them. Since Katharine and Uncle Tully flee to France we don’t get to see these characters as much. One of my favorites and the love interest of Katharine, Lane, is largely absent from the novel. His interactions with Uncle Tully and Katharine were missed.

In the first book Uncle Tully was my favorite character because of his eccentric attitude and genius. Thankfully, he is wonderful in this book too though he only really participates from mid book on.

Katharine has grown even more than she did in The Dark Unwinding and she has blossomed into a wonderful care-taker for her uncle. Her deep affection is evident along with her patience and compassion. I enjoyed her interactions with the society in Paris and especially found her dialog with her aunt’s longtime friend entertaining.

With the location change there are many new characters introduced, all of which were interesting. As stated prior though, I never cared for them as much as the old cast of characters. Katharine is single minded in her mission and closed off to the people she interacts with. This was felt by me as I read and affected my connection to the secondary characters.

Final Thoughts:
Sharon Cameron has a beautiful writing style which is well researched, elegant and vivid in its descriptions. I fell in love with the characters in The Dark Unwinding and mourned their less frequent roles in this new novel though I enjoyed the story and Katharine’s growth and determination.

Extras:
Read my interview with Sharon Cameron
Read my review of The Dark Unwinding
Be sure to check out my stop tomorrow on the A Spark Unseen Blog Tour!
A Spark Unseen book trailer:

Trailer Reveal: A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron

A Spark Unseen (releases September 24th) is the follow-up to the wonderful historical, steampunk inspired The Dark Unwinding. I loved The Dark Unwinding so jumped on the opportunity to be able to post the trailer for the next book and be in the blog tour next month, running from September 9-20th. My tour date is September 13th–be sure to come back and check it out.

If you’d like to participate in the tour you can find information here. (participants receive an arc of A Spark Unseen)

If you’ve not read The Dark Unwinding you can check out my spoiler free review and my interview with Sharon Cameron

Want to win a copy of this ARC?
Tweet or post on your own blog about the trailer release and be entered in to in win an arc of A Spark Unseen. You will need to include @CameronSharonE in the tweet in order to receive credit. Please tweet all blog links to the same twitter account. Retweets will also count.

About A Spark Unseen
The thrilling sequel to Sharon Cameron’s blockbuster gothic steampunk romance, THE DARK UNWINDING, will captivate readers anew with mystery  and intrigue aplenty.

When Katharine Tulman wakes in the middle of the night and  accidentally foils a kidnapping attempt on her uncle, she realizes  Stranwyne Keep is no longer safe for Uncle Tully and his genius  inventions. She flees to Paris, where she hopes to remain undetected and also find the mysterious and handsome Lane, who is suspected to be  dead.

But the search for Lane is not easy, and Katharine soon finds herself embroiled in a labyrinth of political intrigue. And with unexpected  enemies and allies at every turn, Katharine will have to figure out whom she can trust–if anyone–to protect her uncle from danger once and for  all.Filled with deadly twists, whispering romance, and heart-stopping  suspense, this sequel to THE DARK UNWINDING whisks readers off on  another thrilling adventure.

A Spark Unseen Book Trailer:

The Dark Unwinding
The Dark Unwinding:
When Katharine Tulman’s inheritance is called into question by the  rumor that her eccentric uncle is squandering away the family fortune,  she is sent to his estate to have him committed to an asylum.

But  instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of rules, who employs a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London.Katharine is now torn between protecting her own inheritance and  preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply.

And her  choices are made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a  secretive student, and fears for her own sanity.As the mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that not only is her uncle’s world at stake, but also the state of England as  Katharine knows it.

About Sharon Cameron
Sharon Cameron was awarded the 2009 Sue Alexander Most Promising New  Work Award by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators  for her debut novel, The Dark Unwinding. When not writing Sharon can be  found thumbing dusty tomes, shooting her longbow, or indulging in her  lifelong search for secret passages.