Monthly Archives: September 2017

Fire Lines by Cara Thurlbourn – Blog Tour Review 


Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Fire Lines by Cara Thurlbourn. First up just look at that cover. I love the line art and think it really suits the story. 

The Synopsis 

When your blood line awakens, how do you choose between family and freedom?

Émi’s father used to weave beautiful tales of life beyond the wall, but she never knew if they were true. Now, her father is gone and Émi has been banished to the Red Quarter, where she toils to support herself and her mother – obeying the rules, hiding secrets and suffering the cruelties of the council’s ruthless Cadets.

But when Émi turns seventeen, sparks fly – literally. Her blood line surges into life and she realises she has a talent for magick… a talent that could get her killed.

Émi makes her escape, beyond the wall and away from everything she’s ever known. In a world of watchers, elephant riders and sorcery, she must discover the truth about who she really is. But can the new Émi live up to her destiny?

Sounds good? – Add to Goodreads 

The Author 

Cara Thurlbourn writes children’s and young adult fiction. ‘Fire Lines’ is her first novel and it’s a story she’s been planning since she was fifteen years old.
Cara has a degree in English from the University of Nottingham and an MA in Publishing from Oxford Brookes University. 
She lives in a tiny village in Suffolk and has worked in academic and educational publishing for nearly ten years. Cara blogs about her author journey and in November 2016 she crowdfunded her first children’s book. 10% of its profits are donated to animal rehoming charities.
Cara plans to write at least two more books in the Fire Lines series, as well as a young adult mystery series, and has lots more children’s stories waiting in the wings.

You can sign up for Cara’s newsletter, for giveaways, updates and latest releases, here: www.firelines.co.uk. Some lucky subscribers may win books and swag. There’s also a map of the world on the website for Bookish map people to enjoy. 

 

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/carathurlbourn

What I Thought 
I really enjoyed this story. I found the main group of characters easy to connect to and the world created immensely interesting. I’m very glad to hear this is the first in a trilogy so that we get more chance to explore. 

That being said I was really interested in the location where the book started and would have liked to have spent a little more time with Émi there. I think because it reminded me a little of the world in Divergent, trapped in a walled city with outside civilisation destroyed. Looks like we get to go back in book two but things will have changed. I just wanted more detail about daily life. For example I’d have liked some more detail on the magick systems in the world. In the initial city magick has been banned but I’d love to know more about what it looked like before the ban. 

I felt the middle portion of the book did lack a little dramatic action and then the end of the book ramped that up and perhaps felt a little rushed, and hello Cliffhanger. Luckily I was already invested enough to want more, and I had realised there wasn’t enough book for all my questions to be answered.

There is a love triangle in play here (personally I don’t mind them especially when they aren’t the main focus of the story – like in this case) and I was firmly on one team but will be watching carefully to see how this follows through. 

I have a concept that some things that have been introduced aren’t quite what they seem and I’m intrigued to know if I’m right. 

There were a couple of scenes that I adored and so want to see filmed because my visual imagining is never good enough. 

The first are the scenes with the elephants and the bonding rituals between elephants and riders. I got full on Dumbo feels at one point as well. 

The second was the Watcher Fledging Ceremony. The winged display was so enchantingly described. This would make a great animation piece for a fan artist to work on – anyone??? 

Finally I’d like to share a quote that I think speaks very much to what is going on in our current political climate and should be read as a bit of a warning to us all. 


Thanks to the author, Cara, and to Faye for arranging an early e-copy of the book for me to read. The opinions presented above are entirely my own. 

Do check out the rest of the blog tour stops highlighted on the banner below. 

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Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren – Blog Tour 


Goodreads link 


Synopsis 

Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.

 

But that’s exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside.

 

No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison …

 

An unforgettable story of sisterhood, valour and rebellion, Prisoner of Ice and Snow will fire you up and melt your heart all at once. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday and Cathryn Constable.

Author


Ruth Lauren lives in the West Midlands in England with her family and a lot of cats. She likes chocolate, walking in the woods, cheese, orchids, going to the movies, and reading as many books as she can. She’s been a teacher and worked in lots of different offices, but she likes writing best. Prisoner of Ice and Snow is her debut novel.

 
Website: https://www.ruthlauren.com/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/ruth__lauren

Instagram: www .instagram.com/ruth_lauren

What I Thought 

This was such a thrilling read with high stakes (both personal and societal) from the outset, and as a consequence had me zipping through to find out what happens. 

Prisoner of Ice and Snow was like a cross between Prison Break, Six of Crows, Nevernight, and the first Throne of Glass, with a strong central sisterly relationship (a la Frozen), but perhaps aimed at a slightly younger audience. 

Valor is such an awesome character. The book is told from her first person perspective. She’s a 13 year old willing to risk her own freedom for her twin but good enough to not walk over other people. I will admit to being a little ahead of her at times but I believe that was purposeful and for me doesn’t usually detract from enjoyment of a story. 

I really liked that although the main action was the attempted escape from the prison Tyur’ma that there was intrigue outside of this. If Valor’s sister Sasha is innocent of the crime she was said to commit who did it and why? 

The wider cast of characters were all interesting in their own right and I’m glad to hear a sequel is coming so hopefully we get to know even more about them and the world in which they live. 


Prisoner of Ice and Snow is out tomorrow so you can read it really soon. Do make sure to check out the rest of the blog tour too. Thanks to Faye and Bloomsbury for my copy of the book for the purpose of this honest review. 

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James – Book Review and Author Interview 

This year at YALC we were once again lucky ducks with the opportunity to purchase an early copy of Lauren James’ new science fiction story The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. The book is finally out for everyone else to enjoy this week and I was cheeky and asked Lauren answer a few questions which I’ll share here with my thoughts on the Loneliest Girl. 

Synopsis 

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?
Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.
Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.
But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?
Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . . 

Author 

Lauren James was born in 1992, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics.

She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. 

The Next Together was described by The Bookseller as ‘funny, romantic and compulsively readable’ and Kirkus as ‘An ambitious, promising premise . . . James is one to watch’. It was longlisted for the Branford Boase Award, a prize given to recognise an outstanding novel by a first-time writer. 

Her other novels include The Last Beginning, the epic conclusion to The Next Together which was named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for kids and young adults by the Independent. Two short stories set in the world of The Next Together series, Another Together and Another Beginning, are also available.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was inspired by a Physics calculation she was assigned at university. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature scientists in prominent roles. 

Lauren is published in the UK by Walker Books, in the US by HarperCollins and in translation in five other countries around the world. She lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for the Guardian, Buzzfeed and The Toast. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James, Tumblr at @laurenjames or her website http://www.laurenejames.co.uk, where you can subscribe to her newsletter to be kept up to date with her new releases and receive bonus content.

 

 What I Thought 

This was such a quick, intense and thrilling read. The formatting of e-mails between the two characters – modern day epistolary style – helps you zip through and you build a relationship with the characters, Romy and J, as they do with each other. 

I like that Romy’s anxiety at her situation is explored and that NASA have got her a therapist to discuss things with. As well as prompting her to keep up with schoolwork. I also loved the addition of the Fandom elements with Romy being a big fan and fan fiction writer for a TV series about supernatural detectives ‘Loch and Ness’. As well as adding authenticity to her teen status this is a much bigger plot point than you might think. 

The Loneliest Girl reminded me a little of one of my favourite sci-fi reads Illuminae and if you loved that definitely pick this up too. 

Gradually the incident that left Romy alone is revealed along with a growing concern about what is happening back on the Earth she has never known. 

Interview 

Having written your last two books and a couple of shorts in one world how did you prepare yourself to move on to a new one? 

I was very ready to write something different – I started The Loneliest Girl while I was working on edits for The Last Beginning, so I couldn’t make any progress on that project, and it felt incredible to write something fresh and new that wasn’t tangled up in plot holes. I did enjoy leaving easter eggs in the books for each of my others, though! 

Was the writing process different or similar to with your first books? 

I always think the last book I wrote was the easiest and best to write, and then start another and remember how hard it is. The one I’m always writing always feels like a terrible disaster while I’m in the process of getting it down on paper. When I’ve done all the hard work and can look at a complete, perfect finished book, I like it – but during the writing process it’s torment. That’s true of all my books! 

How did you develop the character of Romy? Knowing that she would be alone for much of the book did that affect this? 

I’ve always loved stories of isolation – it’s a great way to really get to know a character. I knew that if I was writing a whole book where there was only really one person, I would need to create a character who would keep the reader’s attention and loyalty. It was a big challenge, but I fell totally in love with Romy while I was writing about her, and I hope everyone reading The Loneliest Girl in the Universe does too.

How much did the idea of online dating influence the plot? 

A lot – I think online dating is something that teenagers today experience more and more, whether that’s apps like Tinder or just chatting on Facebook Messenger. I wanted to explore that in a way that wasn’t a UK contemporary novel, and setting it in space was a nice twist. 

How did it feel seeing everyone glanced up in Galactic Glitter make overs to celebrate the launch of your book at YALC?

It was so cool! The whole YALC weekend was kind of a surreal dream, it was brilliant. I feel so lucky to have so many people excited to read my books. 

My Galactic Glitter Make-Over at YALC 

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