Welcome! Today is the first day of Fiery Hot Reads for Icy Cold Nights! I am excited and thrilled to be one of the hostesses for this awesome month long event. It is going to be five weeks packed full of romantic reads and giveaways. You won't want to miss a day. Be sure to stop by and check out as many of the posts as you can. Each stop will feature a giveaway, and you can't win if you don't enter. Here are today's stops:
Barbara@Basia's Book Shelf: Sarah MacLean: One Good Earl Deserves a Lover
Candace@Candace's Book Blog:Kerry Schafer: Between
Jenn@The Starry Eyed Revue: Lauren Morrill: Meant To Be
I have for my first stop a guest post, giveaway and review of Pantomime by Laura Lam. This is an intriguing and complicated romance that you must experience for yourself! The big secret totally caught me off guard and I loved that. I have Laura here to share with you how she built her imaginative world.
Here is Laura's bio:
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 is her debut novel. Find Laura on her website, twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Goodreads.
Here is Laura:
I recall reading a lot of fantasy books growing up, and a lot of them didn’t mention the books that existed in the world. I suppose they were too busy saving said world, but as a bibliophile, that saddened me. When I wrote my own book, Pantomime, I included several instances of metafiction, where the text draws attention to fictional elements, as an homage to my love of the written word and in order to add a degree of verisimilitude to the world of Ellada and the Archipelago.
Each chapter heading has a reference to something within the world, and it’s usually a book. I have quotes from A History of Ellada and its Colonies by Professor Caed Cedar of Royal Snakewood University, or The Memoirs of The Sparrow, by circus aerialist Diane Albright. Some of Gene’s sections reference A Young Elladan Lady’s Primer, written by Lady Elena Primrose, which will sternly advise young ladies on how to best be a noblewoman.
“A lady must remain dainty and demure at all times. Never should she raise a voice or a hand in anger or excitement. Never should she trot or run in the presence of gentlemen. She must always appear calm, collected, and effortlessly graceful.
– A Young Elladan Lady’s Primer, Lady Elena Primrose”
In Ellada, which is based on Victorian etiquette, books are both a luxury and a privilege. Lower classes won’t have the education to read, and many members of R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic, for instance, have no knowledge of letters. They also wouldn’t have the leisure time. Gene, as a young lady of consequence, had more leisure time than she knew what to do with, and so she would practice piano or embroidery. She would also read pulpy adventure novels, where the character of Ephram Finnes will save a maiden from the clutches of pirates or other ne’er-do-wells. Arik, one of the aerialists of the circus, taught himself to read from the plays of Godric Ash-Oak, who is Ellada’s equivalent of Shakespeare. His tattered, well-thumbed books are his most prized possessions. And yes, Godric is a little shout-out to Harry Potter (Godric Gryffindor), which was a constant presence in my teenage years.
In our world, books shape our society and mirror the spirit of the times. I wanted the same to be true for Ellada. Books play in important role through the books with Micah Grey, and certain tomes shape his life more than others. I know many books have changed my life, including this book I wrote that will soon be on the shelves!
Congratulations, Laura on your debut! I hope other readers find Pantomime as intriguing as I did! It was certainly a read that is going to stick with me for awhile.
Thanks to the good folks over at Strange Chemistry Books (I really like this publishing company be sure to check them out!) I am able to offer to one lucky U.S. Resident a copy of Pantomime by Laura Lam. Please fill out the Rafflecopter to enter after reading Contest Policies. Also be sure to check out Laura's website to see the complete listing of her Pantomime Tour. Thank you so much Laura for helping me kick off Fire and Ice!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
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.
Paperback, US, 392 pages.
Expected publication: February 5th 2013 by Strange Chemistry
Four Stars: An interesting and unexpected tale!
Micah scampers along the tight rope, terrified of falling but determined. Safely across, he looks to the crowd below to see amusement, disdain and some admiration. Circus folks are a tough crowd! Thankfully, the circus owner, Bil, agrees to allow Micah to join the circus and train as part of the trapeze act. Micah is relieved because as a runaway he has nowhere else to go. Along with Micah's story, we also catch glimpses of Gene's life. Gene is a young lady in a noble family who is having a hard time fitting in. She hates the uncomfortable dresses and corsets, and all the societal expectations of a young lady. Both Gene and Micah share a big secret that they must keep hidden. What is this secret?
What I Liked:
- I was impressed at the amazing world Ms. Lam created in Pantomime. She thrusts us into a society that has lost the roots to its past. Ordinary humans live in a world haunted by relics and magic left behind by the Alders and Chimaera. No one knows what happened to these races, the only traces are the strange items such as the glowing towers of lights around the cities and the small mechanical devices. Humanity has forgotten the magic. Ms. Lam goes to great lengths to bring us this world, she inserts interesting tidbits and such at the beginning of each chapter that provide us a glimpse into her vision. I truly enjoyed her imaginative world building and I was eager to learn more.
- I loved the detail of the circus. Of course, the circus is magical and wonderful and meant to amuse, but there is also a darker and more sinister side to the circus behind the scenes. This book brings us the magic and wonder and all the work and difficulties that one experiences when living life on the road as part of the circus. I really enjoyed learning about the circus and all the performers.
- This book features two point of views: Micah and Gene. Micah is a young boy running away from his former life once he learned a devastating secret that his parents kept from him. He joins the circus and endures the hardship and challenges of life in the circus. His counterpart is Gene, a young lady born to money and privilege, but she never feels comfortable in her own skin. I liked learning the big secret and I was not expecting the twist. I cannot say more or I will give it away, but I was intrigued and interested to say the least. I have never read a book with a character like this before. It definitely was original. You need to read this to find out for yourself!
- While this book does not feature a fiery hot romance, I enjoyed the romantic aspects of it. It shows a person who is conflicted and uncomfortable in their own skin, unsure of their feelings, and longing desperately for someone to accept them as they are. It is complicated to say the least. At the end, the path is laid for the development of an interesting and hopefully a great romance, I cannot wait to see how this one turns out.
- I admired Micah's brother Cyril. He was so kind and accepting toward Micah. He knew all the secrets and his feelings toward his sibling never wavered. I loved him! I only wish he had a bigger role in the story.
- Most of all, I enjoyed Micah's character. After learning his secret, my heart went out to him as he struggled to find his identity and looked for acceptance. He is a conflicted person and I cheered him on as he grew and changed. He is certainly a character that I won't forget any time soon! I truly hope Micah finds a way to accept himself the way he is.
And The Not So Much:
- This book features two differing points of view, and in the beginning I was very confused. I had a hard time understanding how the characters fit together, but then about a third of the way in, the secret is revealed and everything clicks into place. Up until that point, though, I was definitely puzzled. At first, I thought I missed something, but then I backtracked and paid more attention to the chapter titles and then I understood the author did it on purpose. Without giving anything away, my advice to you when reading this one is pay attention to the chapter titles as they switch back and forth from the past to the present, then it isn't so confusing.
- While I liked that this book did not focus on the romance, I longed for just a bit more. The ending left a promise of more to come.
- I enjoyed the world building, but I was a bit disappointed that more wasn't revealed. I wanted to know about the mysterious Alders and the Chimaera and all the relics left behind. What happened to these magical people? Why did they leave behind all their relics?
- Alas, the ending was a cliffhanger, which I was not expecting at all since there was no indication going into this that it was the beginning of a series. The book climaxes to a emotional and turbulent point in the story and then just ends leaving you confused and wanting more. I had so many unanswered questions at the end. While I am happy that this story will continue, I cannot help being frustrated to find a cliffhanger when I was not expecting it!
Pantomime is a intriguing story that held me captive throughout as I raced to uncover the secrets and find the hidden magic. The world building is imaginative and original and I especially enjoyed being immersed into the circus life. I could almost smell the popcorn and sugar floss as I watched the acts. Micah is a character you won't soon forget once you learn his secret. Come away with me and get lost at the circus! I definitely will be picking up the next book as soon as I can!
“The circus had been unlike anything I could ever imagine and I could not walk away. I wanted to be a part of the magic, create it and wield it with such skill that It looked effortless. I wanted to fly.”
“I felt the sudden urge to weep. It felt as though I was being pulled along a certain road and I was not sure it would lead me to the right place.”
“They say love and hate are closely tied, that they can turn at a moment’s notice.”
“Love? Love is like holding water in your hands. You might have it for a time, but it escapes, leaving you with nothing.”
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.