Laura Lam Giveaway

Sad publishing news reigns with the announcement that Angry Robot‘s two imprints, Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A, have ceased, effective immediately.

I loved Strange Chemistry especially because without fail – every book I picked up from that imprint, I loved. They had a level of quality I could depend on, where I didn’t have to worry when picking up a book whether or not it was going to resonate with me.

But it goes deeper than this – it’s upsetting because it impacts on one of my favourite authors, Laura Lam. I loved the books she had out so far, and I find her thoughtful and well spoken (as well as simply interesting to follow on social media). She also happened to attend Scott Lynch’s cafe meet-up in Brighton in 2013 during World Fantasy Con, and was really lovely when I kinda shyly slunk up to her to see if it really was her to say how much I loved her books.

So far she has two books out in a trilogy, and now the third book is up in the air. This series needs a third book, so I’m going to do what little I can to help:

pantomime-shadowplay

I’ll be giving away the following:

  • One set of her two books, Pantomime and Shadowplay, in paperback to one lucky person
  • One copy of her first book, Pantomime, in paperback, to one lucky person
  • One copy of her second book Shadowplay, in paperback, to one lucky person

This is to spread her books as far as I can assist at this time. I hope the books go to people who haven’t yet read her, or in the case of the third option, who’ve started to read her but haven’t got their hands on the second yet. I’m also partial to those who have read her, but need physical copies of the books to flail around and share with friends :)

The winners shall have to be willing to share a postal address with me (obviously) and the giveaway is open world-wide.

As there are three prizes, there shall be three winners.

If this goes well, there may be bonuses of her short fiction that’s currently available on kindle – we shall see!

Please click below for the rafflecopter giveaway – unfortunately it doesn’t seem they can be embedded in wordpress sites:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Apologies if the giveaway goes a little shaky – this is my first time using rafflecopter so I hope it runs smoothly! If you have any issues using it, just let me know and we’ll figure out a manual way to include you.

Any questions, leave a comment below!

ETA: My friend Sam is also running a giveaway! Click here to see her post about what you can win from here :)

 

This giveaway is now closed!

The winners have been contacted. Congratulations! 

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Review: Pantomime by Laura Lam

PantomimeSeries: Pantomime #1
Published by: Strange Chemistry
ISBN: 190884437X
ISBN 13: 9781908844378
Published: February 2013
Pages: 392
Format reviewed: NetGalley supplied mobi
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five
Lists: FavouritesRecommended
Related Review: Shadowplay (Pantomime #2)

‘Pantomime’ by Laura Lam is a young adult fantasy-steampunk with slight elements of magic, which may grow into a main theme in the next book. Yes, there shall be a sequel according to Lam’s blog – in October 2012 that she was almost finished the first draft – which is good, considering how the ending leaves the poor unsuspecting reader.

Split between the present and the past, Lam entices us into Gene’s life, a girl who feels more like a boy and is determined to be known as Gene rather than her official name of Iphigenia, and later takes on the name Micah in an effort to hide when she runs away from her family. We start the novel as she joins a circus with hopes of someday performing on the trapeze, but for now must act as a simple roustabout while she’s in training. Or should I say ‘he’, as she’s ditched the dresses as she’s always wanted to, bound her chest and cut her hair.

Once in the circus he’s lucky to be taken on by the current aerialists who guide him on how to cope through the general hazing the other members of the circus throw at him. With steampunk elements thrown in, we are introduced along with Micah as to how the circus uses items known as ‘Vestige’, elements from an ancient civilisation that are now few as they run out of residual power that can’t be replaced.

As if hazing and a tough training and work regime aren’t enough, Micah also has to deal with secrets he’s left behind, and secrets he reveals in the circus life. Life doesn’t seem ideal for anyone, and all he meet have a dark past to reveal.

The chapters are artfully constructed, first remaining mostly in his past whilst occasionally showing the present life in the circus, until the circus chapters overtake and only show his past in chapters few and far between. We see why he’s on the run, and why he identifies with being male so strongly, as well as elements that make us wonder if there isn’t something about Micah that could unlock so much about the vestige that could change Ellada itself.

Laura Lam has a wonderful way with words, and manages to capture circus life in a way that reveals both the beauty and the grim at once. While the dark backstories of nearly each and every character could be a little depressing, she somehow weaves hope within, as the characters are still making a future for themselves, or escape one way or another.

Micah is a character like none other I’ve read before. Lam manages to capture gender issues perfectly, with the character unsure of what they want in life and who they want it with, yet finding a home within a circus where others with the same questions and answers have also found themselves.

The plot is hard to describe, as it somehow manages to flow back and forth between present and past timelines, remaining simple yet complex – possibly hard to describe simply because it’s written so well that Lam conveys everything that happens and is felt easily, yet descriptive and emotional.

The biggest draw in this novel is that things such as the Vestige and the mysterious Penglass – a substance that a few buildings in each city is made of – and the mysteriously missing Chimera are only hinted at, or briefly seen. The world is incredibly deep – speaking of wars and people past, with poems and mythos revealed at the start of each chapter – and you know that Lam must have many notebooks of worldbuilding ready and waiting to be revealed.

For now we can only sit and wait for more in this series. It’s not going to be easy.

Thank you to Angry Robot and Net Galley for this ARC.

This review was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 17th November 2012.

Review: Shadowplay by Laura Lam

ShadowplaySeries: Pantomime #2
Published by: Strange Chemistry
ISBN: 1908844396
ISBN 13: 9781908844392
Published: January 2014
Pages: 400
Format reviewed: NetGalley supplied mobi
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites, Recommended
Related Review: Pantomime (Pantomime #1)

Shadowplay follows immediately from Pantomime, the first book in Laura Lam’s young-adult fantasy series, and wastes no time getting into the thick of things. We return to the complex and mysterious characters who we love from the first book, and aren’t disappointed by the new characters who are just as secretive with their own hidden backstories. The genuine intrigue would be enough to keep us reading, even without the lovely and powerful atmosphere we love in Lam’s work.

The plot advances a little more fluidly than the first book, with everything close-knit and woven nicely. You’ve never left wishing they would spend more time in a certain section of the plot – it always moves to exactly where you want it. One aspect of the story (touched upon in Pantomime) is done particularly well, and really helps bring the book and the character of Micah together.

The characters provide the backbone of this edition to the series perhaps more so than the first book, with Micah providing a strong lead as before, Drystan who is still with her, both joined by Maske, a magician, fittingly, and a friend of Drystan’s, and Cyan, who you’ll see on the cover of the book itself. Both are compelling characters in their own rights, with Maske’s talents capturing Micah’s attention like the performance tricks in Pantomime. In fact, I would have liked more time spent on Maske, but he is slightly over-shone by Cyan, who slowly came to be a new favourite.

Cyan is complex, trustworthy and reliable in a way that must have been hard to write, when introducing her to untrusting characters who have every reason to block her from their confidences. She manages to win their trust as well as the reader’s attention, and I can’t wait to see more of her. In a comment from the author, Lam says that Cyan took her by surprise, so it’s evident the character managed to click into something that resonates with the reader.

This book delves a little darker in several cases, with the Shadows that are following Micah, people from her past that may or may not wish to help her, and the chimera who we learn more of as the novel progresses. It’s interesting to see characters when they don’t immediately embrace something new and different to them – in many novels that include another race or magic, they sometimes jump in too quickly. Micah makes believable decisions throughout, which strengthens the realism of the plot in that regard.

Shadowplay deals with sexuality, discrimination, trust, and the choices one has to make when you’re basically between a rock and a hard place. We see all characters progress, and come to care for them more, and especially hope to see them safe in the next book. Currently, there aren’t any details for the third book, but we’re looking forward to marking it off our calendar!

 This review was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 23rd December 2013.