The Illusionists Blog Tour – Review

The IllusionistsThe Illusionists by Rosie Thomas.

London 1870.
A terrifying place for a young, beautiful woman of limited means. But Eliza is modern before her time. Not for her the stifling if respectable conventionality of marriage, children, domestic drudgery. She longs for more. Through her work as an artist’s model, she meets the magnetic and irascible Devil – a born showman whose dream is to run his own theatre company.

Devil’s right-hand man is the improbably named Carlo Bonomi, an ill-tempered dwarf with an enormous talent for all things magic and illusion. Carlo and Devil clash at every opportunity and it constantly falls upon Eliza to broker an uneasy peace between them. And then there is Jasper Button. Mild-mannered, and a family man at heart, it is his gift as an artist which makes him the unlikely final member of the motley crew.

Thrown together by a twist of fate, their lives are inextricably linked: the fortune of one depends on the fortune of the other. And as Eliza gets sucked into the seductive and dangerous world her strange companions inhabit, she risks not only her heart, but also her life…

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The Illusionists Blog Tour – We Chat to Rosie Thomas

rosie thomas spotty jpeg smallThe Illusionists by Rosie Thomas. 

We are very happy to welcome Rosie and her blog tour for The Illusionists which has just been released by HarperCollins. We chat to Rosie about her book, her fantasy dinner party guests and where in history she would like to go… 

 

Can you tell us about The Illusionists and how did the idea originate?

In one sense The Illusionists is about imagination and reality, and I have taken stage magic as a means of illustrating how we don’t always know the difference between the two. Devil Wix, my anti-hero hero, is struck as a young boy by the gift of ‘wonder’ in a harsh world, and he sets out to create wonderment through magic and illusion. The setting is Victorian London, starting in the 1870s, so it’s quite creepy and gothic in places. It’s also a love story between Devil and Eliza Dunlop, who is a modern woman looking for more from her life than marriage and motherhood. There’s also a cast of strange characters including a dwarf, an engineer of automata, and a woman made of cogs and springs. Their theatre of magic and illusion, the Palmyra, is a character too. The idea for the story came to me when I was researching a classic ‘box trick’ for a scene in The Kashmir Shawl.

 

Which authors do you admire and is there a book that’s stuck with you?

I like Anthony Trollope. There’s so much sly wit and energy in his books, but he is full of human sympathy too and he doesn’t caricature the way Dickens does. I’ve always loved Georgette Heyer – such lightness and sparkle. Continue reading

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Fiction Friday – Opposites

Fiction Friday

Fiction Friday

Friday 18th April 2014. 

Fiction Friday is our weekly prompt where the internal editor is asked to step out. We post a prompt. Use it as inspiration to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you like. Once you’ve finished, post in the comments below. Don’t edit, just post. 

Today’s prompt: Take a story you love. Maybe one you liked as a child or a snippet of a book you’ve read recently. Swap all the characters around. Make the hero the sidekick and the villain the hero? Maybe the adult who offers advice is the nervous and unknowing character? What if the hero’s best friend is actually the villain? Have a go at swapping everyone around. 

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Quick Spotlight – Uglies

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books (29 Mar 2012)

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books (29 Mar 2012)

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Set in the future, in a time when people live in small independent cities and everyone is pretty. Well not at first, but on your sixteenth birthday you are given an operation to turn you from an ugly into a pretty. For 15-year-old Tally Youngblood, this day cannot come quick enough. That is, until she meets another young girl named Shay, who is not so eager to get the operation. Tally quickly learns that all is not as it seems and that being ‘Pretty’ may come with a price.

I quite enjoy reading young adult books, as they are often fantastic and supernatural; easy reading with lots of action and this book did not disappoint. I read it in a night as I just had to keep turning the pages to find out what would happen next. The characters are well-formed but not overly complex and the storyline is predictable yet very well delivered; all the things to look for in an easy, fun read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. So much so that I went out and bought the sequels.

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Bella's Scribblings : I don’t do Marmite or a Short Story by any other Name

Bella Osborne

Bella Osborne

I don’t do Marmite (it is the work of the devil) and I also don’t do short stories. Short stories are incredibly difficult to get right, whether you are writing them for magazines, for competitions or just for fun. They will almost always come with a word limitation (hence the short) and despite this huge restriction there is an expectation that there is a whole story wrapped up in the prose (hence the story).

My track record with stories has seen me fill a whole exercise book at school with one story much to the mixed reaction of my English teacher who was wonderfully encouraging but with a pile of other marking to do, my lengthy witterings were not always timely. My next attempt at a finished story was my novel ‘Acting on Impulse’, the first draft of which came in at one hundred and twenty-eight thousand words. So you can see my ability to be succinct has not improved over the years.

So when my writing tutor asks the class to write a Short Story I break out in a cold sweat (and curse the fact that I sit next to both the radiator and the draughty window), my mind goes a complete blank and I decide categorically that I can’t do it. I will then spend the whole week trying to think about a plot based on whatever criteria has been set and will almost always conclude that it’s impossible to fit any of my ideas into anything shorter than ‘War and Peace’ or ‘Ivanhoe’ at a push (approx. 587k and 192k word counts respectively, in case you were wondering).

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A Place To Call Home Blog Tour – Review

Sphere, April 2014

Sphere, April 2014

A Place To Call Home by Carole Matthews.

Ayesha flees her abusive husband in the middle of the night. Scared and alone, they go to London where they take shelter in the home of reclusive pop star, Hayden Daniels. Ayesha and her daughter Sabina soon find a family with the occupants of Hayden’s home. Crystal and Joy, the other people taking refuge in the house soon become Ayesha’s friends as she tries to find her feet and her new life for her and Sabina. However, she doesn’t stop looking over her shoulder wondering when and if her past was going to catch up with her. 

This book tackles quite a dark subject of domestic abuse with sensitivity, warmth and humour. The characters drew me in from the first page as I wanted to know whether Ayesha and Sabina were going to be OK. At the beginning, Ayesha is very timid and very unsure of herself and I loved seeing how she progressed for the better through the book whilst she was with Hayden, Crystal and Joy. 

The mix of characters were fascinating, funny and loveable. I especially thought Crystal was great. I want to be her friend. Despite the bad things in her life she still manages to be positive. I disliked Suresh immensely and although I am ashamed to say it, I still could feel little sympathy for him, even at the end. 

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A Place To Call Home Blog Tour – We Chat To Carole Matthews

MatthewsCaroleA Place To Call Home is the fantastic new novel from Carole Matthews. 

We’re very happy and excited to welcome the lovely Carole Matthews and her blog tour to Novel Kicks. Her latest book was released by Sphere on 10th April and we chat with Carole about it as well as what writing rituals she has and which fictional character she’d like to meet.

 

Can you tell us about A Place To Call Home? 

Yes, it’s a story about a woman who escapes an abusive relationship and flees with her daughter. She ends up living with a rag-tag of characters in a place that she comes to feel safe. When that’s threatened she does everything she can to save it. The story is about finding a place to belong and making a family out of a fairly disparate bunch of people. It’s very heart-warming and a little bit teary too.

 

Do you plan and do you edit as you go? 

Yes, I do a lot of planning and have a four or five page synopsis when I start out that I pretty much stick to. I start every morning by editing what I’ve written the day before and, then, when I’ve completed one draft, I go through it all again.

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News : Donna Tartt Wins Major Fiction Prize.

The_goldfinch_by_donna_tartThe Goldfinch wins the Pulitzer for Fiction.

American novelist Donna Tartt has won this year’s Pulitzer prize for Fiction for her third novel, The Goldfinch.

The book is set in modern day New York and tells the story of a young man as he tries to come to terms with the death of his mother. A film adaptation is rumoured to already be in the works after the producers behind the Hunger Games have optioned Tartt’s novel.

The Goldfinch has also been nominated for a Baileys Woman’s Prize for Fiction (formally the Orange Prize.) The winner will be announced on 4th June at the Southbank Centre.

Speaking to USA Today, Tartt said that she was ‘very happy, delighted and surprised’ to win her first major literary prize.

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Discussions : E-Readers Vs Bookshops

rp_Jornal-300x1801.jpgWill e-readers spell the end for bookshops?

With the invention of the e-reader and companies like Amazon, Kobo and the iTunes stores giving us instant access to books, it’s making it easier to get books without even having to leave our homes.

Bookshops and Libraries have struggled as a result – the latter suffering closures due to budget restraints and Borders was certainly an example of a high street store losing the pricing war with the online retailers.

We have seen many well-known stores disappear from the high street in recent years. Places like Woolworths, HMV and Blockbusters have all struggled and failed to stay ahead of the game when it comes to keeping up with online rivals like Love Film and Netflix. Even supermarkets are posing a big threat not only to them but to bookshops.

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