cover reveal: pantomime by laura lam

R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass – remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone – are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.

But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside of the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams.
She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine.

PANTOMIME will be published by Strange Chemistry with a release date of 5 February 2013.

(And, guys, I am seriously looking forward to this. I used to disavow circuses entirely, but THE NIGHT CIRCUS changed that for me. Thank you, Erin!)

review: shadows by ilsa j. bick

Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Publication Date: 09/25/2012
Publisher: Egmont
Pages: 518
Source: ARC

Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she thought Rule was a sanctuary for her and those she'd come to love.

But she was wrong.

Now she's in the fight of her life against the adults who would use her, the survivors who don't trust her, and the Changed who would eat her alive.

Welcome to Shadows, the second book in the haunting apocalyptic Ashes Trilogy: where no one is safe and humans may be the worst of the monsters.

The review for Shadows will have to be structured somewhat differently due to the massive cliffhanger that we were left with in Ashes and the differences that the subsequent book takes. Previously, a series of large electromagnetic pulses (EMP) of unknown source rendered all modern technology useless, killing millions and leaving the remaining population locked in a battle between surviving the elements and surviving each other. A mainly middle-aged population remains as most over 50 perished, and most under 20 have changed into feral beings that cannibalise corpses and hunt the rest for food.

Like a lot of people I loved Ashes, but was left grasping for connection upon reading the second half of the book. The first half was fast-paced and action packed, but there were few moments in the latter that hinted in a change at all, and as a reader you could almost see it as a plot transfer to a that of a tightly knit religious society. Though I can understand where people might be frustrated with that, the circumstances that Alex found herself in completely set up everything that happens in Shadows. We meet a handful of people in Rule that we see back in Shadows, a few of them having their own POV chapters. The switching of character voice is done smoothly and the transition is necessary in order to get a full sense of just what is happening in this new world. A limited perspective from Alex wouldn't properly be able to move the plot forward; some characters would inevitably be left behind due to the inability to tell their story.

It took me about a hundred pages before I got used to where the plot was going and the alternating views, but once I was there the rest of the book was an incredibly fast read. With every page we got to learn something more about another person in the book that helped to explain a past action, or about something that is happening simultaneously elsewhere with another POV character. And like AshesShadows is ripe with gory descriptions and blood (including mentions of animal death); I often found myself wincing at the precision in which situations are described, though it really does help to put into perspective a world where anything goes and that every day is a fight for the right to live until the next.

Though chock full of completely unexpected twists and turns - Bick does an astounding job of keeping you on your toes, always guessing - it's an adventure that as a reader you continually want to take. Just as one chapter ends, something crazy happens making it easy to read another five more just to see where they'll take you (and Alex). There's not as much of a cliffhanger here as there was in Ashes, but that's actually almost worse because the ending of Shadows allows your mind to ruminate, speculating on the meanings of conversations and words that Alex and other POV characters had as the pages wind down. If you haven't read Ashes, you'll definitely want to read these two back to back because once you turn a page into this world it will be hard to pull yourself from it. Bick has created a grim and realistic vision of survival and perseverance, and I can't wait to see how it all comes together in book three.

waiting on wednesday (39)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event courtesy of Breaking the Spine that showcases much anticipated upcoming releases.

from goodreads: 02/05/2013

Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.
Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.

I've heard such amazing things about this book already. I love the title and how it paired with the cover lend itself to such an impression about the story. Nisha lives on an abandoned estates with other orphan girls, and the titular reference here to a thousand dolls is powerful. This is a book I can build up and imagine in my head from just the information given, and I'm looking forward to rearranging that with the actual story. A definite pre-order.

review: origin by jessica khoury

Author: Jessica Khoury
Publication Date: 09/04/2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 394
Source: Publisher (ARC)

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home—and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia’s origin—a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.
Pia, perfect Pia, is a geneticist in the making deep in the Amazon. She's never read a book that wasn't science-related, has never listened to music with lyrics. Growing up having known she was the result of a successful experiment, Pia has been moulded perfectly for her future: to head a team to create more immortals like her. But Pia is a teenager, and when she discovers a means of going on the other side of the fence she takes it. So how far does the rabbit hole go? There's more than jungle waiting for her on the other end.

When I saw this was available at BEA I was a couple shades of giddy. I love books that have to deal with science - mainly with the hope that it'll be pulled off - and knowing that it was set in the rainforest my interest in this book was a no-brainer. The cover design pops in person, with the title being letter-pressed on. I'm hoping the finished copy will be a bit shimmery, because I think it'd make it really stand out on a shelf. It's taken me a while to read it, though, because I was nervous about how the story would pan out. There's a huge mental disparity at times when you set a book up so much before you actually read it.

The descriptions of the rainforest were gorgeous, and it was pleasantly clear that Khoury had done her research when writing this book. When Pia spoke or looked at a flower it was all I could do but not sniff hopefully at the air to see if the scent would float off the page from such beautiful descriptions of the blooms. Mentions of bioluminescence and the inclusion of flora and fauna native to the Amazon rounded out the stunning cast member of setting. The jungle was as much a character in the book as anything, and was perhaps my favorite.

Origin tells the story of Pia and how she deals with being immortal. Taking into account a few things such as her age, her isolation, and living with the fact that she is the only one of her kind, there was a certain measure of uncertainty from her that I expected to be translated as pride and self-awareness. That said, Pia made it difficult to like Pia. She was never someone I could really empathise with. I can't put this fully on Pia, however - though I liked many of the characters (Will, Ami), none of them really stood out enough to say that I could love them. Rather than the character being the voice of the story, it seemed that they were its vessels instead.

Two things stayed with me: one was the inclusion of instashipping between Pia and Eio as well as how Pia views herself, and the second is the role of animals in the book. I liked Pia and I liked Eio, but considering the book plays out over the span of a week, perhaps two at the most, the fact that they are harboring such intense feelings for each other kept me from believing in their interactions. If the book had ended with them perhaps on the beginning of something then everything would have been much more tightly knit for me. There were moments where Pia also defined herself as a female through the confirmation of Eio's thinking of her as a woman - I had to put the book down for a while then before coming back to it. Pia is strong on her own, she doesn't need to be seen through the lens of someone else. I would also like to mention to people considering reading this book that there may be some trigger warnings concerning animals, so please keep that in mind.

Origin is a captivating book that explores the human penchant for never-ending life as well as the consequences our actions can have. Khoury wove together a pretty compelling tale, and though I had some minor issues, she's a writer that I can only see improving with leaps and bounds as she continues.


I am presently on hiatus into the foreseeable future. You can find me on twitter, tumblr, or my writing website,

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