Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Blue by Lou Aronica & Contest

by Lou Aronica
Release Date: January 16, 2011
2011 The Fiction Studio
Softcover Edition; 400 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1936558001
ISBN-10: 1936558009
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review Copy from Pump Up Your Book

4 / 5 Stars

Chris Astor is a man in his early forties who is going through the toughest stretch of his life.

Becky is Chris's fourteen-year-old daughter, a girl who overcame enormous challenges to become a vibrant, vital young woman - and now faces her greatest obstacle yet.

Miea is the young queen of a fantasy land that Becky and Chris created when Becky was little, a fantasy land that has developed of its own and now finds itself in terrible, maybe fatal trouble.

Together, Chris, Becky, and Miea need to uncover a secret.  The secret to why their worlds have joined at this moment.  The secret to their purpose.  The secret to the future.  It is a secret that, when discovered, will redefine imagination for all of them.

My Thoughts
When I first started reading the novel, Blue, I assumed that it would follow the more traditional fantasy novels in that it would consist of the more usual fare and I had resigned myself to a lighter, fun, and more adventurous read. I was in for a rather pleasant shock.  The novel was nothing like I was expecting, and with some rather deep undertones, conflicts, and mature content, I was in for an interesting and fascinating ride.  It ended up being a rather beautiful and heart-rending story of the relationship between a father and daughter who found themselves learning how to trust each other again after years of disappointments and misunderstandings after the daughter's parents divorced when the daughter was ten-years-old.

Chris Astor is a man who finds himself without a purpose in life, going on blind date after blind date unsuccessfully, trying to figure out how his life ended up the way it did.  He is in a job he doesn't really like, in one failed relationship after another, and his relationship with his daughter Becky is strained, to say the least.  Becky is a fourteen-year-old girl who is struggling to re-identify with a father she absolutely adored, but finds it difficult to communicate with him in the way she used to as a child.  The scenes with the two of them together as they try to communicate are heartbreaking as you feel for both of them and yet, just want to shake them at the same time.  The link between them is this imaginary world they invented/created when Becky was small as she was battling a crippling disease; it was a way to help her forget the pain of the medication and to help her relax.  As they re-open the world of their imagination, they learn to communicate again and learn to trust and lean on each other in a way they haven't been able to in years.  I have to admit those scenes were really touching and brought me to tears several times while reading.  The themes of separation, divorce, isolation, and loneliness were explored in this novel and were not done lightly or easily.  Chris lived for his daughter and the author makes sure the reader understands that very clearly.  It would be something that a young adult reader may have some difficulty understanding or connecting to easily.  The concept of a father's fear for his daughter and the fact that she may be outgrowing him and preferring to spend time with her friends is another prevalent theme in this novel. 

At first I didn't know what to believe about the fantasy world, Tamarisk.  Let me reprase that; I wasn't sure whether Tamarisk was a real world or something they brought back in order to deal with the re-appearance of Becky's disease.  I chose to believe that it existed because it made me feel better to think that way.  Miea, the queen of Tamarisk, was a delightful queen, one who was struggling to deal with a blight on her land.  Becky and Chris, having travelled to Tamarisk, tried to help Miea deal with the repercussions, both financially and spiritually, the blight was having on Miea's people.  I really enjoyed the visits to Tamarisk and loved the creativity and different ideas and things that were found on this alternate world, although I did not really understand the role Gage played.  It is a place I would dearly love to visit myself.   As to whether this place actually existed, that is for you believe or not.  How far will our imaginations let us believe that something actually exists?  How far will our imaginations go to help us help someone we love, especially when that loved one is sick and possibly dying? 

I really enjoyed this novel.  The writing flows smoothly from one scene to the next, the plot was interesting although somewhat predictable as I was able to figure out quite early what was going to happen, but at the same time, I was engrossed from beginning to end despite having an idea as to the possible ending.  Blue will tug at your emotional heart-strings and take you on a roller-coaster ride, but it is definitely worth the ride.  I would love to revisit Tamarisk and I sincerely hope Mr. Aronica will one day revisit Tamarisk as well.


How often do you hear about something that sounds too good to be true? Well, I am here to offer 10 lucky winners the opportunity of a lifetime.

New York Times bestselling co-author, novelist, and former Publisher of Avon Books and Berkley Books, Lou Aronica has created a unique and exciting offer to anyone that is going to follow his upcoming book tour with Pump Up Your Book. His extensive experience in the publishing and editing fields has given him insight into an industry that continues to grow and change daily. Once again, that insight has led him to offer a contest that is truly special in so many ways. Lou will be accepting story pitches from followers of his blog tour. These story pitches must be for short stories pertaining to the fantasy world of his novel, “Blue.” This contest will allow 10 lucky people the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to have their story published in an upcoming companion anthology to “Blue.” Lou will hand pick the winners, edit their stories, include them in the anthology and give them a pro-rated share of the royalties. How can you pass up an opportunity like this?

Now for the details:

The pitch should include a synopsis of the proposed story and a sample of the submitting author’s fiction writing. Specify the expected length of the story.

The pitch needs to be submitted by April 16, 2011

Please email your submission to Lou at

All winners will be notified by email by May 27, 2011.
Lou Aronica is the author of several works of fiction and nonfiction. He has collaborated on a number of books, including the national bestseller The Culture Code. Prior to that, he spent two decades as a senior executive in the publishing industry. He lives with his family in southern Connecticut.


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