Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blog Tour Review: The Occasional Diamond Thief




The Occasional Diamond Thief
Release Date: 05/15/15

Summary from Goodreads:
The Occasional Diamond Thief is the tale of Kia, who is courageous and practical with a quirky sense of humor, and a loner.

When 16-yr-old Kia is training to be a translator, she is co-opted into travelling to Malem. This is the last place in the universe that Kia wants to be — it’s the planet where her father caught the terrible illness that killed him — but it’s also where he got the magnificent diamond that only she knows about. Kia is convinced he stole it, as it is illegal for any off-worlder to possess a Malemese diamond.

Even worse, Kia must translate for Agatha, who is as different from Kia as it's possible for two people to be - Agatha is idealistic, naïve, and compassionate.

Using her skill in languages – and another skill she picked up, the skill of picking locks - Kia unravels the secret of her father's mysterious gem and learns what she must do to set things right: return the diamond to its original owner. But how will she find out who that is when no one can know that she, an off-worlder, has a Malemese diamond? Can she trust the new friends she’s made on Malem, especially handsome but mysterious 17-year-old Jumal, to help her?

And will she solve the puzzle in time to save Agatha, the last person she would have expected to become her closest friend?
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 Hello, I’m J. A. McLachlan, the author of The Occasional Diamond Thief. I’m so pleased to be meeting you, and I’d like to thank Gabs at My Full Bookshelf for reviewing my book today. This blog tour is part of my online launch of The Occasional Diamond Thief, and I’ll have something different at each stop – book excerpts, author and character reveals, vlogs, reviews and blog posts – for you to enjoy. You can find The Occasional Diamond Thief at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NF9NYJM
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 My Review: 4 stars


I've started to avoid YA sci-fi lately, unless I've heard amazing things about a particular book. The reason for this is that the genre seems to be getting sloppy; poor worldbuilding, not enough adventure, etc. etc. I took a bit of a leap of faith with The Occasional Diamond Thief because, well, I'm not completely sure why anymore. There was something that drew me in based on the blurb, and so I went against my rule and tried it out. I have to say, if all my instinctual decisions were this good, I would be pretty satisfied with my life. (Sadly they aren't usually good at all, but the point of this review is not to criticize questionable life choices.)

A question I would like to pose now is where has Kia been all my life? She was a marvelous character. I loved how smart she was; the girl knows four and a half languages! She is living my dream. I haven't even mastered two yet, so there is a bit of jealousy there, but the good motivational kind. She's also a very flawed character; she has difficulty making friends and having meaningful relationships with other people, and well, she's an occasional diamond thief. I really liked her.

There's also Agatha, who defies everything that Kia expects her to be. She's friendly, caring, and absolutely hopeless when it comes to languages. I had to laugh at the way the book described her blunders. She and Kia were a good pair of friends.

In addition to the characters, the worldbuilding is really good. It's the perfect balance of not saying too little about the world but not saying too much either. There's no infodumps; it's not 100% clear how the future came to be like this, but that was fine because it didn't matter. The world as it was in the book felt like it was shaped effortlessly through what Kia let readers know in her narration. There weren't any weird info dumps at the beginning giving a specific history of this new world, it just kind of jumped right in and let me as a reader experience it for myself. It felt a bit like a sci-fi but also a bit like a fantasy--mostly because of the unique names, if I'm being honest.

The plot is so good! Kia and Agatha's experiences in Malem are both nervewracking and exciting. Right up until the very end, there's the mystery of why Kia's father has the Malemese diamond. You can puzzle it out somewhat while reading, but knowing the full story behind why he had it made it even more clear.

One part of what makes the plot so good is the inclusion of the queen of Malem. She's powerful and dangerous, but she's also shown at times to be heartbroken and human. I thought she made a good kind of antagonist. It was interesting to see how her character would react to things.

I honestly hope this book won't be the last in this world. I would like to read more of Kia and Agatha's story. This book does not disappoint if you are looking for a book with a thrilling plot and well-crafted characters.


About the Author
J. A. McLachlan was born in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of a short story collection, CONNECTIONS, published by Pandora Press and two College textbooks on Professional Ethics, published by Pearson-Prentice Hall. But science fiction is her first love, a genre she has been reading all her life, and Walls of Wind is her first published Science Fiction novel. Her new science fiction novel is The Occasional Diamond Thief. She is represented by Carrie Pestritto at Prospect Agency. 

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