Category Archives: Kirsty rambles on about life, the universe, tv, and everything!

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. 

Something Missing – Blog Tour and Giveaway

something_missing

About the Book

Two women, two countries. Serendipity, life, friendship

 

Diane, a young Australian mother meets Maggie, a sophisticated American poet, in a chance encounter. Everything – age, class and even nationality – separates them. Yet all is not quite as it seems. Maggie is grieving for her eldest daughter and trapped in a marriage involving infidelity and rape. Diane yearns for the same opportunities given to her brother. Their lives draw them to connect. This is the story of two unfulfilled women finding each other when they needed it most. Their pen-friendship will change them forever.

Something Missing is published by Madeglobal Publishing and is available from:

www.madeglobal.com

www.glenicewhitting.com

Book depository (free postage)

Amazon and Amazon Kindle

 

About the Author

glenice_whitting

Glenice Whitting is an Australian author and playwright and has published two novels. She was a hairdresser for many years before she became a mature age student. It was during an English Literature Fiction Writing course that her great midlife adventure began. Rummaging through an old cardboard shoebox in the family home she found a pile of postcards dating back to the 19th century, many of them written in Old High German. The translated greetings from abroad introduced the hairdresser to her long hidden German heritage and started her on a life changing journey. She fell in love with the craft of writing and decided to pursue a writing career. Her Australian/German novel, Pickle to Pie, was short -listed for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. It co-won the Ilura Press International Fiction Quest and was launched during The Age Melbourne Writers’ Festival.

Three years as an on-line editor and columnist at suite101.com introduced her to web writing and resulted in an ebook Inspiring Women. Glenice’s play Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow was produced during the Fertile Ground New Play Festival. Her published works include biographies, reviews, numerous short stories and two novels. Her latest novel, Something Missing, published by MadeGlobal Publishing is about two countries, two women and lies that lead to truth. She completed the journey from VCE to PhD when she gained her Doctorate of Philosophy (Writing) from Swinburne University in 2013. Along the way she was awarded entry into the Golden Key International Honour Society for academic excellence. She currently enjoys teaching Memoir Writing and encouraging other women to write their stories. Glenice’s blog Writers and Their Journey can be found at her website, www.glenicewhitting.com

About Friendship

What makes a good friend?

 

This question really got me thinking about the many friendships I’ve had over the years. Friends who have come into my life at a particular time to support, help and advise. Childhood friends, hairdressing friends and academic friends. Many became lifelong friendships but none have been as constant, or as inspirational as my thirty-five year pen-friendship with an older American poet. Something Missing is based on that pen-friendship because I wanted, through my writing to try to work out why this friendship, in spite of the odds, survived. What was it that made it last all those years and endure the ups and downs of life which so frequently destroy relationships? A clue for me was a quote I use at the beginning of the book by American author, Irving Stone, ‘There are no faster or firmer friendships than those between people who love the same books.’

 

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and be understood. When I began writing our story I never meant to write a novel. I set out to record our friendship and letters in an attempt to understand how and why our chance meeting permanently changed us. Why this pen-friendship inspired my academic journey from VCE to PhD. I also wanted to reveal how fragile friendships can be, how easily they can break only to lead to truth when both parties finally understand and are understood.

 

I am always amazed how friends come into our lives when we need them most. It was a chance meeting at our camp on Coopers Creek near the Bourke and Wills Dig Tree in Outback Australia. I was thirty-five and working full time as a hairdresser, plus being a wife and mother. However, I always felt there was something missing in my busy life. My campfire friend was sixty. I didn’t know it at the time but her adult daughter had commited suicide the year before and left a permanent hole in my friend’s heart.

 

She came from well educated parents, married her much older college professor and researched and typed his published journal articles. They had retired and she was so proud of his success. I grew up in a working class family where boys were educated because they would become the bread winners. My fate was to go to a Domestic Arts school to learn cooking, sewing and how to balance a budget for a family of four. The only book we had at home was The Bible. Everything – age, class and even nationality – separated us. However, my pen-friend’s educated letters, although often intimidating, also inspired me. She wrote about interesting people and exotic places, recommended books and poetry to read. She opened my eyes to a world of literature. I never replaced her daughter but became her work in progress. My pen-friendship put a band-aid over the hole in her heart.

 

I started writing our story as part of my PhD by artefact and exegesis at Swinburne University. By this time my pen-friend was over ninety. When she died I was devastated. I know I should have expected it but somehow I felt that my friend would always be there. My writer’s journal remained closed, the novel and exegesis frozen. How to write the unsayable? I could not continue. The story, balanced between fact and fiction meant that half my writing was in the real world. I was telling another woman’s story as well as my own. I had worked through many writing issues, and told numerous stories of literary and personal goals, but I came full circle when faced with my pen-friend’s death. At the heart of the novel were two real women. Now one was lost and the other one was grieving.

 

Time is a great healer, and by moving more into fiction I finally finished a third rewrite, now titled Something Missing. My pen-friend’s life is permanently part of mine. I miss her feisty nature and her wisdom and bless the day we met on the banks of Coopers Creek.

friendship

 

Thank you Kirsty for hosting me on your blog site. It is greatly appreciated

Giveaway

On 1st March I will randomly pick one person to win a copy of Something Missing. All you have to do is comment below with your idea on ‘what makes a good friend‘.

Do also check out the earlier stops on the blog tour

something_missing_book_tour

 

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