Winner of a Northern Writers’ Award Longlisted in the Bath Novel Award
What if reading the wrong book could get you arrested?
In a decaying city controlled by the First General and his army, expressing the wrong opinion can have terrible consequences. Clara Winter knows this better than anyone. When she was a child, her father was taken by the Authorisation Bureau for the crime of teaching banned books to his students. She is still haunted by his disappearance.
Now Clara teaches at the same university, determined to rebel against the regime that cost her family so much – and her weapons are the banned books her father left behind. But she has started something dangerous, something that brings her to the attention of the Authorisation Bureau and its most feared interrogator, Major Jackson. The same man who arrested Clara’s father.
With her rights stripped away, in a country where democracy has been replaced with something more sinister, will she be the next one to disappear?
Publishing Date: 2 MAY 2019
ALTERNATIVE EDITION: 978-1-78965-028-0
FORMAT: Paperback and ebook
PUBLISHER: Unbound Digital GENRE: Speculative fiction, dystopian fiction
First off, I think we should all know by now that I’m super huge fan of Dystopia (note my many gushing times I’ve listed The Hunger Games under a fave book list in my posts as reference). Secondly, this was just a really great standard dystopia, it combines elements from the great classics and Lord [man I sound super religious] gives us a really enjoyable and engaging dystopia read for us in this day and age. She’s not afraid to count Brexit and other events that are currently happening as part of the world she’s weaving, this is no throw back to 1984 though the inspiration from it is clear and in fact the people of this society, if they’re old enough, remember reading it. This is one more case of how change can sneak up on a Dystopian society to create the sort of thing we think unimaginable when we read about it.
Much like Fahrenheit 451 reading the wrong books can get you into a world of trouble. After trouble with violence, and political terrorism, modern day U.K. decides to close itself off after a time, there is a new regime, and a new government dubbed the ‘Junta’ and Amy Lord isn’t afraid to take inspiration from the Russian Revolution when you read about what this new government has done.
Clara was traumatized by the abrupt end of her Father in her life as he’s taken away one night for reading the wrong books, the real twist will be who she ends up growing up with as a ‘Father figure’ and I won’t spoil it for you but I did enjoy that. Not only that but we get more than just Clara’s POV we get the main antagonist’s POV as well, well main antagonist to Clara, the Major. The book divides into parts, switching times and POVs but never getting too muddled and all of it builds up to clearly tell the story of Clara in the now. Any ‘backtracking’/looking into the past is for the benefit of the reader and I loved getting the backstory honestly.
This was not a story with particularly new elements to Dystopia but it is the first one I have personally read in a while that wasn’t specifically YA oriented. That being said, this could easily be read by a huge age range, including YA. I flew through this book in a day, I was so engrossed and I think that Lord really just has this groove, she gives you details and she gives you such an element of reality. I think that she’s yet another author I’ll be keeping my eye out for.
If you want a bit of a classic dystopia with a modern day feel and style, I would strongly recommend The Disappeared by Amy Lord, it was a treat to be part of this tour! Thanks to Anne, Amy Lord, and the publisher for the copy and being part of the tour!!
About the Author
Amy Lord is a writer, blogger and digital marketer from north-east England. She won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2015 for The Disappeared and was also longlisted in the inaugural Bath Novel Award. An earlier manuscript saw her shortlisted for Route Publishing’s Next Great Novelist Award. Amy is currently working on a new novel, which was developed as part of a year-long mentoring scheme with Writers’ Block NE.
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She thought she would never go back…
Ailsa Calder has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago. Her father.
Leaving London behind to settle her mother’s estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, accompanied by the half-sister she’s never taken the time to get to know.
With the past threatening to swallow her whole, she can’t escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her. And when Ailsa confronts the first nighttime intruder, she sees that the manor’s careless rugged beauty could cost her everything…
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Corvus; Main edition (6 Jun. 2019)
This book was like the perfect read for me given that I was reading this beauty while actually in the Highlands as I was on a little tour with my friend who is visiting. But aside from the context being perfect, The Missing Years is a GREAT mystery thriller. With Ailsa’s father missing, there’s already mystery and intrigue wrapped around our protagonist, but my favorite part about this book was actually the theories that Aisla had between each chapter about what happened to her father. I thought that was just so creative and loved getting to the end of a chapter to see what her next theory was for her father. Was he dead this time, was he hiding in a tropical climate, did he have a new family?
Aisla wears the years of her father’s disappearance internally and even to an extent an outsider as another character or even as us the reader can see how this has left a mark on her. With her mother recently passed and what happened to her Father still unanswered, she’s a woman who has seemed to keep many people at arm’s length, including her half sister Carrie. Trying to redeem that relationship, Aisla asks her sister to join her at the house she’s halfway inherited. The other half still technically belonging to her father.
With a life keeping people at a safe distance, Aisla is temporarily stuck in a small community, one that knows each other and all the goings on, and that includes knowing about her, and her family. People who were friends with them, people that had run-ins for better or worse with them, and Aisla is faced with the fact she can no longer hide.
There was such a great chilling and supernatural undertone to this and this is just another book I could sing praises for repeatedly. I loved the Manse itself and I loved the setting. [I’m not totally biased at all living in Scotland.]
Another aspect that really made this book enjoyable was the reconnecting of Aisla and Carrie, it felt really organic and natural. They have a big age gap, Aisla has been absent, and they don’t immediately become close as ever and I love that they struggled but obviously cared deeply for each other.
Elliott does a good job of keeping you guessing for a good chunk of the book. You may have inklings but you’re just not quite sure for a while and she just makes everything feel so natural as if Aisla is this real person and I find it hard to believe she wasn’t and this is just a story! Elliott also does a good job with giving us some LGBTQIA rep. She also doesn’t tie up everything too neatly at the end though she does give you a satisfying ending which is a huge bonus in this genre.
Overall definitely a 4 star read and one I plan on giving a reread someday!
About the Author
Lexie Elliott has been writing for as long as she can remember, but she began to focus on it more seriously after she lost her banking job in 2009 due to the Global Financial Crisis. After some success in short story competitions, she began planning a novel. With two kids and a (new) job, it took some time for that novel to move from her head to the page, but the result was The French Girl, which will be published by Berkley in February 2018 – available to pre-order on Amazon now!
When she’s not writing, Lexie can be found running, swimming or cycling whilst thinking about writing. In 2007 she swam the English Channel solo. She won’t be doing that again. In 2015 she ran 100km, raising money for Alzheimer Scotland. She won’t be doing that again either. But the odd triathlon or marathon isn’t out of the question.
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“Ingenious, great fun, and wholly original” – Fay Weldon CBE, on The Seventh Train
Moving from stage to page, The Seventh Train has taken the scenic route from Jackie Carreira’s award-winning play to a second novel that promises to be as well-received as the first (Sleeping Through War, 9781788038539)
The Seventh Train is a ride – a ‘road movie’ on the railways. It’s a journey that Elizabeth invented; the only original thought she has ever had in her previously uneventful life. Unbeknown to her, she is not travelling alone. If only she’d pretended that the spare seat was taken.
Although, by turns, hilarious and life-affirming, part of the story tackles serious issues of suicide and mental health, specifically the alarmingly high incidents on public transport. As Jackie says: “This is something that’s been in the news a lot recently, especially as suicide rates on the UK rail system increased by 9.1% last year. It’s a hugely important issue. Having said that, it’s not a gloomy novel at all, but actually full of hope and a good dose of wit!”
It’s a project that has been part of Jackie’s life for years. Originally conceived as a stage play, it was her theatrical debut and went on to become one of the winners of The Kenneth Branagh 10th Anniversary Award for New Drama at the Windsor Fringe Festival. From there, it just kept chugging along until it became the novel Jackie is releasing now.
With a wonderfully eclectic cast of characters, The Seventh Train takes its passengers on a journey from the tragic to the strange, arriving finally at hope. By turns heart-breaking, thought-provoking and hilarious, this tale is a life- affirming exploration of the human spirit via the British railway timetable!
RELEASE DATE: 28 June 2019
ISBN: 9781789018936 Price: £8.99
So when you read the words above, you’re intrigued but you’re still not totally sure what you’re getting into! I’m a big lover of theatre and not just musically inclined ones but I live and breathe plays when I get to them, they transport you and just utterly captivate you if they do their job right, so hearing this was a play first really got me to say ‘yes please!’
As for what this book is about, it’s about whatever you make it to be, it reminds me in its essence of Waiting for Godot where you could spend your time dissecting it or you could simply enjoy it.
Our main character who starts the journey with us is Elizabeth and she’s a woman who wants to be on her own, she’s realized her unhappiness in life and decides that something has to change. Her solution? Well, you’ll have to read and find out but just know it heavily involves numerous seventh trains.
Elizabeth is joined by a wonderful cast of characters, three others who are going through their own journeys, and all connected by a/the seventh train. It’s a great look into the human psyche and going in a little blind, I can only say that this book was the ultimate pleasant surprise in that it was such a journey to take on its own and the story so relatable that I was left with such a satisfying feeling as I finished it.
Not to mention the ending was brilliant, a hail to the start and I loved it.
If you’re looking to go on a train ride that will leave you looking at what it means to be human and what it means to feel lost and then found, I suggest reading this. Carreira’s writing is fluid and the transition from play to book seems effortless on her part, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to anyone who is intrigued and/or loves the theatre. It was a joy to read this and I want to thank Anne Cater and Jackie Carreira for my copy and the chance to be in this blog tour!
Content Warning: Suicide mentioned, discussed, and described. It is not the point of the book but it does play heavy in the journey for some. It is not ideation, however.
About the Author
Jackie Carreira is a writer, designer, musician and co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company. British-born of Portuguese parents, she grew up in East London and lived for a while in Lisbon as a child. After travelling the world playing music for 12 years, she hung up her bass guitar and picked up a pen. She’s been writing ever since and twice been a winner of the Kenneth Branagh Award for New Drama. Some of her plays are available online via lazybeescripts.co.uk. If Jackie could have another life, she would be a full-time philosopher and get paid to ask questions all day.
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