Wednesday, May 5, 2010

5 minute book club - The Shifter

It's the first Thursday of the month and time for the 5 minute book club. This month's book is The Shifter by Janice Hardy. Janice is a fellow member of Absolute Write, a forum where writers can connect. I think most of you will notice that many of our book club choices come from AW. I think it's awesome to be part of a writing group for many reasons, and one reason is support.

Here's what The Shifter is all about:

Fifteen-year-old Nya is an orphan struggling for survival in a city
crippled by war. She is also a Taker—with her touch, she can heal injuries,
pulling pain from another person and storing it inside her own body. But
unlike her sister Tali and the other Takers who become Healer’s League
apprentices, Nya’s skill is flawed: she can’t push that pain into pynvium,
the enchanted metal used to store person to person, a dangerous skill
that she must keep hidden from forces occupying her city. If
discovered, she’d be used as a human weapon against her own people.

Rumors of another war make Nya’s life harder, forcing her to take
desperate risks just to find work and food. She pushes her luck too
far and exposes her secret to a pain merchant eager to use her
shifting ability for his own sinister purpose. At first, Nya refuses, but
faced with some difficult choices. As her father used to say,
principles are a bargain at any price, but how many will Nya have to
sell to get Tali back alive?

Here's what we have to say about the book:


I was fortunate to win an ARC of Shifter through a “chicken joke”* contest on Janice’s blog. The first weekend I had the book, I took it with me to the beach in the hopes of reading good buddy and 2nd mom picked it up, and I didn’t see it again the entire weekend! Well, except for when I’d eye her reaching it on the beach. When I returned home, I finally got the chance to read it. First, Janice is a totally stand-up person as well as author who gave of her time to help me when I was smoldering in Query Letter Hell. Second, she is truly amazing in the fantasy world and story she weaves.

Since I love the anti-damsel in distress/kickass heroines, I totally dug Nya. She completely holds her own even when the deck is stacked against her. You certainly feel for her always having to be on her toes and always having to put herself out there for others. I enjoyed how at such a young age, Nya is forced to weigh the eternal options of good verses evil and what do with the gifts that have been given to me. There’s also a great cast of secondary characters that enhance the fantasy world.

I’ll be interested to find out what happens to Nya, Talia, and Danello in the rest of the series.

*Wanna know my joke? It was “Why did the chicken cross the basketball court? Because the referee was calling fowls!” Yuk, yuk! LOL


My daughter grabbed this book and read it before I had a chance and she absolutely loved it. When I started reading it I was sucked in. The fantasy world she has created is so real, I loved the voice and was entranced with the characters. It's so nice to read a book where I'm rooting for the characters, especially when there is so much unfairness in their lives.

If you ever want to read an exceptional-suck-you-in-lighthearted yet heavy beginning then I highly recommend you read The Shifter's. My daughter and I can't wait for the sequel. And the cover's to die for!


Of all the books I’ve discovered through Absolute Write, The Shifter by Janice Hardy was the one I was most looking forward to. It all started when she posted the first few lines... *cue flashback sequence of Kath surfing AW*

"Stealing eggs is a lot harder than stealing the whole chicken. With chickens, you just grab a hen, stuff her in a sack and, make your escape. But for eggs, you have to stick your hand under a sleeping chicken. Chickens don't like this. They wake all spooked and start pecking holes in your arm, or your face, if it's close. And they squawk something terrible."

How can you not fall for lines like that? It’s impossible. How could an entire book live up to the promise of those lines? Somehow, The Shifter did.

Maybe it’s because Janice is a graphic designer, but The Shifter was one of the most tactile books I’ve read. I felt like I could visualize everything perfectly. The colours, the shapes, the people and the bustle, the tang of salt in the air. When I read her excellent post on world building (, I had a complete a complete “Ah-ha!” moment because the sources she took inspiration for were almost exactly what I pictured when I read the book.

The Shifter is one of the most finely crafted, richly detailed fantasy books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. The fact that it was written by someone that I genuinely like, someone who takes time to weigh in on AW, help fledging writers with the occasional query (thanks!), and writes one of the best writing blogs around is just the icing on the cake.

Have you read The Shifter? What did you think?


Kaitlin Ward said...

I ADORE this book.

Holen said...

Can't wait for the sequel!

Krista Ashe said...

Great job,'s cool seeing all the responses.

JEM said...

I haven't had the chance to read The Shifter yet, but I love Janice's blog. She gives great tips for all levels of writers, and she's very thorough. I'm looking forward to picking up a copy!

Debra Driza said...

Ohh, I so need to read this book! I'm going to buy it this weekend--it sounds amazing! Thanks, ladies!

Sage said...

I read an ARC of this book just before it was out. The first thing I think of when I remember it is: world-building. Seriously, the world-building made me cry because I knew mine paled in comparison.

Annie McElfresh said...

I have to pick this one up!!