Monthly Archives: September 2017

Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina – Book Review 

I picked up Riot Days as a memoir by one of the Pussy Riot group who were imprisoned in Russia for protesting. I had hoped to better understand their experience but unfortunately the structure of the book didn’t work for me. 

Initially I was trying to read the Advanced copy via my kindle app and I wondered if the formatting was making it difficult to read so I switched to a PDF version which was easier but still strange. 

Each chapter was split into short sections with bold headings but I couldn’t work out the placement of these because sometimes they seemed to relate to what had been written before and sometimes to what came next. 

The text itself was almost like a cross between poetry and prose with short paragraphs and a disjointed style, more like a stream of consciousness. It left me very confused about what was happening as timelines crossed.  

There were a few illustrations used, and I’m not sure if these were drawn by Maria but they were very childish and I don’t think they added anything to the narrative. 

The final two chapters were the most informative and seemed to be more linearly structured. In these Maria shares with us how she challenged the injustices in the prison she was in through her legal representation and made life better for the inmates.

The start didn’t really help me understand exactly what the initial protest was for and so I experienced a disconnect with her plight , which was undoubtedly traumatic. To be honest it left me wanting to go back and read news items about it instead. I wonder if this is a case of lost in translation. 

I did like this quote though 

“There is no certainty or predictability. There is no fate. There is a choice. My choice and yours, in each moment that demands it.”

I received an e-copy from the publisher via Netgalley. Opinions are my own. 

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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. 

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. 

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