#SPFBO The Purple Haze (The Western Lands and All That Really Matters, #1) by Andrew Einspruch

purplehazeThe Purple Haze was one of the nine books that I rolled forward and read completely as part of the first stage of the SPFBO competition.  This is a YA read that is fun, quirky and quite charming.

As the story begins we meet Eloise, Eloise is heir to the throne of the Western Lands and All That Really Matters and she finds herself with the unusual predicament of being offered the hand in marriage of her childhood friend Jerome, the Chipmunk. Not wanting to upset Jerome’s mother, a powerful seer, but at the same time not really thinking a marriage between a chipmunk and a human is truly viable, Eloise comes up with an alternative suggestion, to appoint Jerome as her Champion (not to be confused with champignon!)  I would say that this opening sequence pretty much sets out the stall for the tone of the book which involves a good deal of fun and a crazy adventure.

The main thrust of the story revolves around the kidnapping of Eloise’s twin sister, the spare to the heir.  But for a few minutes and random chance Johanna would be the future heir, the rivalry between the two acts as a barrier between the two forming a friendship, that is until Johanna is taken by her uncle who has hatched a nefarious plot to marry his niece in a bid to have more power and Eloise realises she’s closer to her sister than she realised and steps up to rescue her.  From here there are plenty of  unusual capers that seem to lead down one false trail after another.

The title of the book refers to a strange purple haze that covers part of the country providing a division between the different realms.  Very little is known about the whys and wherefores of this strange and rather dense like fog – people who go into the haze never return to tell tales and in fact it is used in some places as a punishment for criminals!

I liked Eloise, she has a good personality and is a snowball character in that she seems to gather others to her plight ensuring that we have an entertaining group to read about along the way.  She’s also resourceful and doesn’t panic in an emergency.  She can be terribly proper but also kind and thoughtful.

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t have anything major.  I think the style of this might not work for everyone, it meanders and ducks and dithers somewhat and it involves a lot of humour and puns along the way.  I like the style and actually think it takes a lot of skill to write a novel of this nature but at the same time I recognise that this particular brand of crazy might not be for everyone.   I’m also not sure how viable it is to send off the heir to the throne in search of her sister – I mean effectively this means both children are now out there in the wilds with the potential to not return should all go awry. So, no heir and no spare!

Think Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz.  An unusual world with oddball characters, magic and all sorts of talking animals.  This is a lovely, charming read that ends on a note that makes me want to read more.  It’s a journey – not just a physical journey but a coming of age style story in which Eloise comes into her own.

My rating would be 3.5 of 5 stars.

 

 

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#SPFBO Cover Share – The Star of Whatever (The Western Lands and All That Really Matters Book 2) by Andrew Einspruch

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Today I’m pleased to share with you the cover for the second book in Andrew Einspruch’s The Western Lands and All That Really Matters Book.  Andrew is one of the author’s who has submitted his book, Purple Haze into the SPFBO competition.  His book was one of the ones that I chose to take forward from the first month’s selection.  My end of month updates are here, here and here.

Feast your eyes on this beautiful cover for The Star of Whatever:

the star of whatever

This is a great cover and just look how lovely these two look together:

 

For further information about the book check out this link.

My thanks to Andrew and for more information about the author please check out the information below.

Email: andrew@wildpureheart.com
Web: https://wildpureheart.com
https://andreweinspruch.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/einspruch
Facebook: http://facebook.com/wildpureheart
http://facebook.com/andreweinspruch

 

 

#SPFBO Interview with Andrew Einspruch, author of Purple Haze

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purpleToday I’m pleased to welcome to my blog Andrew Einspruch, author of Purple Haze.  Purple Haze was one of the books I rolled forward from the first month of the competition (you can check out the first chapter here) and my update for the first month of SPFBO reading is here.

Hi Andrew, thanks for agreeing to take part in an interview.

I was checking out your social media places earlier. You’ve already got an impressive amount of books under your belt.  Your author page mentions a number of books for primary age readers and I think Purple Haze is your debut (into the fantasy YA market).  How did the two compare in terms of challenges??

My publishing career has had two distinct phases. Starting in the mid-90s and going up to a few years ago, I had traditionally published around 120 children’s books, mainly for primary-aged readers in the education market. These books were done, for the most part, to publisher specification. The challenge there was to make the reading interesting, while still meeting all the criteria they wanted the book to meet—the number of words per spread, trying to get a particular set of words used in the book, making sure the difficulty level was right, and avoiding taboo subjects and references that would make the book unsellable to conservative US book buyers. Plus, I’d end up writing on topics I knew nothing about, like Christmas Island red crabs or the quirks of Australia’s different state and federal proportional voting systems, so there was a lot of research involved.

This year starts a new phase: publishing novels. You’re right that The Purple Haze is my debut into the world of humorous YA fantasy. The challenges are very different. First, there are all the words. The Purple Haze, book one in the  Western Lands and All That Really Matters series, is around 125,000 words long. That compares to the primary readers I wrote that might be 1,000, 2,000 or 3,000 words long. The next challenge is telling a story that’s engaging and fun, and to realise that if you want the character to be at a particular place facing a particular problem, you have to write your way there, write it, and then write your way out of it. Then there’s the matter of the lack of boundaries. A text that needs to be 1,500 words long on the first indigenous Australian to start in an NBA game and which uses a set number of “-ing” words has a lot of boundaries. With my novels, all that went out the window. I had to learn the discipline of putting a story together, and meeting even modest word count goals to make sure things marched forward and didn’t bog down..

Purple Haze has a decidedly amusing feel and I’m thinking it’s going to subvert a few tropes and maybe be a bit tongue in cheek??  Humour can be tricky in books, not to mention some people are mood readers!  What made you take the choice to go down that particular route?

The reason I made the choice to go down the route of humour is… (I hope you’re sitting down for this… ) that’s what came out.

I trod the boards as a comic for years, doing improv comedy and also sketch comedy in a show with my wife. My hope and intention is that my books bring a smile and make people feel uplifted and better. The world needs more of that right now.

Reading the first chapter of your book I’d say it comes across as though you enjoyed yourself writing Purple Haze, how important is that do you think to the success of the book?

I’m loving writing this series. It is definitely fun to do! And yes, I do believe this affects the success of the book because an audience will feel it. If it is fun for me to write, then it will be fun to read.  The vibe will be upbeat, and people will pick that up.

I understand that you run an animal sanctuary along with your wife and daughter? I checked out your blog of course which is fascinating but could you share with readers how this all began?

Red Moon and Equinox

Photo used with permission

Our farm animal sanctuary, A Place of Peace, is the largest in Australia, with around 460 souls (mainly cows, sheep, horses, goats, dogs, cats, and geese) who’ve found a forever home with us. It is the boots on the ground, compassionate action arm of our charity, the Deep Peace Trust (deeppeacetrust.com). My wife, Billie Dean, and I have done rescue or animal care in one form or another since we’ve been together, starting with a puppy we took sight-unseen from a pound in the late 1980’s. My wife is an animal psychic and has a huge, wonderful, open heart, which makes it difficult to say “no” to animals who call to her for help. Sadly, there’s an infinite supply of animals in the world who need help, and we can only do so much. Our sanctuary is basically full, so we put our energy into education, to help people get a closer connection to animals and nature, and to foster the understanding that we won’t have peace on the planet until we expand our circle of compassion to the non-humans who share the earth with us.

Do you have any amusing stories about the sanctuary?

Every animal here is an individual, with a history and a personality. They love their families, and unlike most farm animals, get to live with them for their entire lives. So yes, lots of stories.

For example, the first sheep we ever took on was Sarah. She came to us from a farmer. Her mother had died, and he couldn’t raise a poddy. Sarah was brought up in the house and loved it when I played piano. She’d come up close and sit at my feet like a dog. She adored classical music.

When Sarah started living outside, she chose a life among the goats, and was most offended if you asked her to hang out with other sheep. She thinks of herself as a goat, not a sheep, because that’s who she was raised with. But her fondness for the house remains — every night she comes to the kitchen door where we sneak her a treat.

Willow and Sarah

Photo used with permission

Sometimes, the animals just surprise you with what they’ll do, and if you’re lucky, you can catch it on camera.

A kitten eating a banana? Sure: https://youtu.be/33ZcXms6jy8

A goat kid climbing a tree? You bet:

How have your experiences played into your writing?

I like to think I have a great empathy for all species, and can treasure their similarities and differences. Animals feature prominently as equals in the Western Lands and All That Really Matters series, and that willingness to include other species in the action and decisions of the fiction world stems from my interactions with them in our world.

What do you hope for in terms of the future – both in writing and the sanctuary?

I’m at the start of my novel writing career, and my hope is my books will find their home in the world and lots and lots of people will read and enjoy them.

As for the sanctuary, in the short term, my focus is helping the animals here make it through the worst drought in living memory (https://chuffed.org/project/drought2018). In the long run, we’d like to have have a green, verdant, peaceful place for the animals to live out their lives in happiness, and for everyone, everywhere to treat animals as the feeling, sentient beings they are.

Andrew, thank you so much for taking part.  I love the sound of your sanctuary and the way you look after, respect and treat the animals and I can’t wait to finish your book.

All the best with the SPFBO.

For more information about Andrew check out the following links.

Email: andrew@wildpureheart.com
Web: https://wildpureheart.com
https://andreweinspruch.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/einspruch
Facebook: http://facebook.com/wildpureheart
http://facebook.com/andreweinspruch

#SPFBO 2018 Book Teaser: The Purple Haze by Andrew Einspruch

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As part of the SPFBO (details here) I’ve invited all the authors from my batch to visit my blog.  The Purple Haze by Andrew Einspruch is one of the books from my first batch of books and at the moment is still in the running.  Below is an excerpt from the book (reproduced here with the author’s permission of course).  Check out Chapter 1 and see if it whets your appetite.  I think this has a wonderful cheeky sense of humour that I’m really enjoying so far:

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Chapter One – THE PROPOSAL

“Please, please, marry my son,” implored the chipmunk.

Princess Eloise Hydra Gumball III, Future Ruler and Heir to the Western Lands and All That Really Matters, sat on the Listening Throne in the ornate Receiving Room of Castle de Brague and took two precise sips of her haggleberry tea, trying not to let her surprise show.  She straightened, still holding the cup and saucer.  “I… I… Truly, Seer Maybelle? Jerome?”

Seer Maybelle de Chipmunk’s delicate whiskers drooped, and Eloise worried she’d been too harsh.  “Yes, Princess,” she said.  “Jerome,”

“Goodness.”  Eloise sipped again, buying a moment.  “I haven’t really thought about marriage much, but if I may so, I rather thought I’d end up with a prince of some description.  You know, someone more in the direction of a human, perhaps? But, please. I’m happy to hear you out.”

The chipmunk clasped her dainty paws in front of her and began an obviously well-rehearsed plea.  “My son, Jerome Abernatheen de Chipmunk, is a good boy, as you well know.  And believe me, I am aware of his flaws as only a mother can be.”  She extended her claws to enumerate.  “He’s forgetful.  He’s awkward in small groups.  He’s awkward in large groups.  He’s prone to wafting off into the La La Realms.  His dress sense veers unpredictably and inexplicably from one garish colour to another.  He knows far, far too much about the musical plays of Lyndia Thrind.  He has a penchant for babbling about nothing when stressed.  Then there’s the whole unfortunate thing with jesters.”

Eloise nodded.  Twice.  “One cannot characterize that description as unfair, Seer Maybelle.”

“But Princess Eloise, I’ve searched the future with every tool I have, methods common and obscure, profound and profane, some passed down from my grandmothers a hundred generations removed.  I have stared into the flame of the Burning Fungus, scanned dregs of haggleberry tea, and listened to the sounds of the Oracle Bellbirds.  I’ve drawn the Twigs of Fate from the Bag of Kismet and sought wisdom in the gurgling mud of the Elder’s Swamp.  It embarrasses me to tell you, because it took a week to get the stench out of my fur, but I’ve taken counsel with Gordon the Noisome, whose twitching earlobes have a strangely accurate predictive quality.”

Gordon the Noisome?  Wow.  Seer Maybelle was serious about this.  Standing close enough to Gordon to see his earlobes twitch was a sacrifice no one should have to make.

“Everywhere I look Princess, I see that my son’s destiny is to be by your side.  I’m, I’m…”  Seer Maybelle’s voice slid down to a whisper.  “I’m sorry, but I believe you must wed.”

Eloise took another sip of her tea, then set down the cup.  The saucer clinked on the marble side table, which matched the marble walls of the Receiving Room.  Eloise carefully moved the cup and saucer so they were in the exact middle of the table on a serviette whose edges were equidistant from the table’s.  She placed the spoon on the saucer so it lined up with the serviette and the table.  She would rather have put it across the top of the cup, but that would be taking it too far, given that Seer Maybelle was with her.

Until three years before, when Court began demanding so much of her time, Jerome had been her best friend.  For a decade, they’d been inseparable, whether exploding whifflenut pies in Cookery and Cuisine class (which she enjoyed despite the mess), plotting paint dart campaigns in Weapons and Stratagems (also fun despite potential mess), ridiculing each other’s poetry in Arts and Elocution, or creating the most elaborate contraptions in Engineering and Constructions.  Inseparable, until court life had done the inevitable – separated them.

Eloise understood Jerome like few did.  He was a klutz.  A clever klutz.  A verbose klutz.  A well-read, musically literate, historically curious klutz.  But definitely a klutz.  She loved him, klutziness and all, but like a brother and nothing else.  Even ignoring matters of species, marrying him was out of the question.  That’s just not what she felt for him.

The problem was Seer Maybelle de Chipmunk.

Seer de Chipmunk was the Western Lands’ visionary.  There was never, ever any escaping what the matronly chipmunk foretold.  But if Eloise had learned anything in Oracles and Insights (other than that Jerome showed not the slightest hint of divinatory talent, despite his family line), it was that there was always another interpretation, another angle.

Seer Maybelle shifted from foot to foot.  It was difficult for her to stand like this for so long, but pride and Protocol demanded it.  With a quiet rasp, she cleared her throat, preparing to sell, somehow, what was ridiculously unsellable.  Her son, short, nervous, and – there was no escaping it – a chipmunk, was completely unsuited to the willowy, athletic, 16-year-old, dark-haired and darker-eyed human.  Seer Maybelle opened her mouth, but Eloise held up a finger and stopped her.

“I have an idea.”

“Yes, Princess Eloise?”

“I shall name Jerome Abernatheen de Chipmunk my champion.”

Seer Maybelle stood gape-mouthed, then closed her eyes and scanned the Unseen.  When she opened them again, she graced Princess Eloise with a radiant chipmunk smile.  She nodded, amazed that such insight could come, once again, from someone so young.

Mrs de Chipmunk left the Receiving Room lighter of heart than she’d felt in weeks.

Eloise draped the Attention Cape over the back of the Listening Throne and wondered how in the name of Calaht she would ever convince her parents to allow her decision.

***

That was the first chapter of The Purple Haze.  What do you make of the style?

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