Monthly Archives: January 2021
About the Book
Mia might look like a Millenial but she was born yesterday. Emerging from a coma with a head wound and amnesia, she can’t remember her name until the Siri assistant on her iPhone provides it. Based on her cool hairstyle (undercut with glamorous waves), dress (Prada), and signature lipstick (Chanel), Mia senses she’s wealthy – but the only way to know is to retrace her steps. Using Instagram and Uber, she arrives at the pink duplex she calls home in her posts, but Max – an off duty postdoc supplementing his income with a housesitting gig – tells her the house belongs to a French billionaire. Mia can’t argue; there’s no evidence that she’s ever been there before.
As she works backward through her Instagram and across Los Angeles, she discovers a trail of disasters that led to the night of her accident – which might not have been an accident after all. Without ID, family or friends, Mia enlists Max to help her right the wrongs of her recent past. But can she do that if she doesn’t understand the truth behind her own lies?
About the Author
Sam Tschida (pronounced “cheetah”) is from the wilds of Minnesota, where she lives with a motley crew of kids, dogs, and one handsome man. She is cofounder of Manufixed, an editorial consulting company and a writing workshop that serves the Twin Cities. In her spare time she spends 20 minutes a day with her favourite YouTube exercise guru and watches Netflix.
What I Thought
Siri, Who am I? by Sam Tschida is a modern mash up of mystery and romance with a dash of social commentary, and it was a lot of fun. Protagonist Mia wakes from a coma with amnesia and has to piece together her life from her cracked mobile phone. She remembers modern pop culture references but not who she is, not unusual in trauma. She soon discovers that the glossy filtered snaps from her Instagram may not display the truth and by the end she has a choice to make: between making her photos her reality, accepting the truth, or wiping the social media slate clear and starting again. Which will she choose?
It’s interesting reading other reviews and in particular the ones that stand out as not liking Mia therefore not enjoying the book. This idea that female characters have to be likeable to make a story enjoyable grates me and I enjoyed Mia’s personality rehabilitation. Is she perfect at any point during the story? No. Are any of us? Again. No. But does she develop over the course of the story. Yes.
One of the film references the character makes is to the Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell classic Overboard (I love this film) and I think that is an excellent comparison. This is #Overboard for Millennials. This has been optioned for film by a major Hollywood studio see my dream casting below.
If you’ve read the book, what do you think of my casting? Who would be ok your dream cast?
Thank you to Stephen and Quirk for the gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review and do check out all the posts on #bookstagram using the #siriwhoami
The Broken Raven is the second book in the Shadow Skye trilogy, which started with The Good Hawk (a Carnegie medal nominee). I haven’t had a chance to review book one yet so I am going to review the series so far. Please be advised this blog post contains some spoilers for book one.
The Good Hawk Synopsis
Agatha patrols the sea wall with pride, despite those in her clan who question her right to be there, because of the condition she was born with.
Jamie is a reluctant Angler, full of self-doubt and afraid of the sea.
When disaster strikes, the pair must embark on a terrifying journey to a land where forgotten magic and dark secrets lurk in every shadow…
The Broken Raven Synopsis
Agatha and Jamie have rescued their clan and returned home to Skye as heroes. But when Agatha uncovers a threat to their people, she unwittingly releases a terrible power that could kill every living thing on the island. Jamie must race to Scotia to hunt an ancient blood magic, which may be their only chance of survival.
Meanwhile, Sigrid, a Norwegian girl with an unusual gift, journeys to the court of Ingland where a dangerous alliance is forming – one that will soon turn its vengeful eyes to Skye, Sigrid will have to risk everything if she and the people of Skye are to survive the gathering shadows…
About the Author
Joseph Elliott is a writer and actor, well-known for his work in children’s television including CBeebies series “Swashbuckle”. His commitment to serving children with special education needs was instilled at a young age: his mother is a teacher trained in special needs education, and his parents provided respite foster care for children with additional needs. He has worked at a recreational centre for children with learning disabilities and as a teaching assistant at Westminster Special Schhols. The heroine of his debut series, the Shadow Skye trilogy, was inspired by the many incredible children he has worked with, especially those with Down’s syndrome. The Good Hawk has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal, on the IBBY 2022 outstanding books for children and young people with disabilities list and is long listed for the Highland Book Prize.
What I Thought
These books are set in a mythical version of Scotland with Vikingesque threats from “Norway” as well as the threat of Plague from “England” – uh hello 2020!! Oh and shadow creatures (which reminded me a little of the Grisha series).
The Good Hawk and the Broken Raven of the titles are not actually referring to animals although animals do play an important role in the series – and if you don’t want a pet vole or to ride on a a Highland Cow after reading these books I just don’t know who you are!
Agatha and Jamie live on Skye, in an almost commune like setting. Roles are allocated for each person when they reach a certain age, and many things are regulated. You do not cry, you do not marry, you don’t know who your parents are, you know your place. But despite this it doesn’t seem an unfriendly place – if you fit with the status quo that is.
Agatha presents similarly to those who have Down’s syndrome though of course that terminology is never used. I love that we get her voice front and centre in the story. She is the Hawk of the story title, a Hawk is a look out, an important role in protecting the clan, until she isn’t anymore. Agatha also has another thing she is good at, but one that she is urged to keep secret. But that will become very important to their survival.
Jamie has the weight of the world on his shoulders and it tells. An anxious sort he has been allocated two roles that are not right for him but he bears them as he has been taught to. He is drawn to things he shouldn’t be – the wrong job, the wrong person… The bird that represents him is a Heron.
Sigrid, our Raven, joins them as a point of view character in book two and boy does her voice just leap from the page. She has such a fun dialect. She also has a superb memory – am I jealous – yes!
I think it’s worth mentioning that The Good Hawk does also introduce another point of view character. Initially this character is a mystery and it was a little jarring but it does pay off so stick with it – just store your questions up and they do get answered.
And one of my favourite characters isn’t a POV character so I won’t name them but I wonder if you can guess who it is.
In book one Agatha and Jamie work very much together but book two sees all three point of view characters take on their own journey. Although it was good to see them each take the spotlight I hope book three pulls them all back together again – I also hope we don’t have to wait too long for it to come out.
Despite the youth of the characters the plot is quite grisly in places and I think Joseph Elliott has taken a leaf out of George R R Martin’s book. Expect the unexpected. There is very real and present danger creating a tense atmosphere.
This series is fresh and it shows what originality diversity can bring. We have disability, mental health and LGBTQ+ representation and I love how the different clans and people see and deal with these things in a variety of ways. Glimpses of how things could be if difference was respected.
The characters are definitely the driving force in this series but the plot does make you whip through at pace, I definitely felt my heart pounding a few times wanting to know what happened next. I definitely recommend this series and I also look forward to hearing more form this author in future.
Finally can we give a shout out to Levente Szabo and Violet Tobacco for the stunning cover illustrations.
Do check out the rest of the stops on the tour. Thanks to Rebecca at Walker for the gifted copy of The Broken Raven and to Book Box Club for introducing me to book one. Book three is already on my TBR and I’m guessing that maybe we get a Heron in the title!