WIN copies of The Ark by Annabel Smith and Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor



This competition is closed. Thank you for entering.

This is the first time I have participated in this Blog Hop and I am excited to be giving away two prizes.

theark-annabelsmith 9781444762761

The first prize is a digital copy of The Ark by Annabel Smith.
(Suitable for Ipad, Ipad Mini, Kobo, Kindle)
The year is 2041 and a group of scientists and their families retreat into a bunker inside Mt Kosciusko to escape the chaos of environmental meltdown. They look after billions of plant seeds that hold the future to life on earth. Their story is told through a record of their digital documents. (Read my review here).

The second prize is a paperback copy of Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor.
A sonic boom hits Lagos and three of its residents are engulfed by a tidal wave. They must work together with a visitor from beyond the stars to save the city, the country and the world from environmental destruction and the worst of human nature.
(Read my review here).

Both competitions are open worldwide and if you enter you will automatically be put into the draw for both prizes.
If you only want to be in the draw for one of the prizes, please let me know in your entry comment.

To enter you will need to leave a comment below stating your favourite tree, plant, shrub or flower. (C’mon, both novels have an environmental theme and one is even set in a seed bank!)
If you are entering both competitions you only need to leave one comment.

Both competitions close 11.59pm GMT on Wednesday 5th November.

Winners will be selected randomly. If you are a winner I will contact you within 24 hours of the competitions closing. If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours I will draw the prize again.

Why not visit some of the other blogs participating in the Blog Hop giveaway:

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Read Her Like an Open Book (US/CA)
  3. My Book Self (N. Am.)
  4. The Book Stop
  5. My Book Retreat (US)
  6. Books in the Burbs (US)
  7. Guiltless Reading
  8. Word by Word
  9. Juliet Greenwood
  10. BooksandLiliane
  11. Words for Worms (US)
  12. The Relentless Reader
  13. The Misfortune of Knowing
  14. The Friday Morning Bookclub (US)
  15. Readerbuzz
  16. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  17. The Emerald City Book Review
  18. Wensend
  1. Laurie Here
  2. A Cup Of Tea, A Friend, And A Book (US)
  3. Moon Shine Art Spot (US)
  4. I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (US)
  5. Lost Generation Reader
  6. Books Speak Volumes
  7. Mom’s Small Victories (US)
  8. Books on the Table (US)
  9. Orange Pekoe Reviews
  10. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  11. Words And Peace (US)
  12. Booklover Book Reviews
  13. Inside the Secret World of Allison Bruning (US)

Exciting Experience: The Ark

 The Ark by Annabel Smith

I enjoy following Annabel Smith on Twitter but I must confess I have not read either of her two earlier novels. I have been really intrigued by The Ark: an interactive novel with its own App. As exciting as it sounds, I did wonder if it may have been too abstract for me; when I was young I loved choose-your-own-adventure stories but now I feel I only have time for the linear tale. Furthermore, what a bold move to self-publish after two successful novels with traditional publishing houses!  Annabel is always fair and honest with her reviews so I know she will appreciate me taking the same approach with her latest offering.

The year is 2041. The world is in chaos due to environmental crisis. A handful of scientists and their families retreat into the Ark, a seed vault inside Mt Kosciusko. The Ark holds the key to the future of life on Earth. The story of those inside the Ark is told through the a collection of their digital documents.

First Impressions: On a rather boring yet important note, the story was easy to download and put on my Kindle. I also put it on my phone to read at work (!) but as it was the PDF for the Kindle there were no interactive features. You get to pick which of the two versions you download. As for the story itself, it was very easy to get into.

Highlights: Much to my surprise, my favourite section was Rosco’s – the only teenager in the Ark. The majority of his documents are on something similar to a blog, but much more interactive. He sort of blurts out what he is feeling and gets different responses. When I first saw the slang and spelling he was using I did wonder if I could even understand it but yes, I could! Most importantly, it was really convincing; Annabel really took on the voice of a teenage boy. The other highlight for me was how much Annabel seemed to enjoy working on this project. Her enthusiasm just shines through. She created all sorts of social media platforms for people to use. The App is also like a ‘good copy’ of her ideas board and a lot of fun to explore. My husband and I were recently discussing whether any epistolary novels written after (my suggestions) the era of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall are believable(The conversation started with Gone Girl). The answer is now a resounding YES, The Ark!  I also love the cover design and I don’t usually comment on covers.

If I was an editor: I would be Annabel herself! I know Annabel created different versions of the book so people like myself who like a linear story wouldn’t be scared away. However, I would have probably promoted the Ipad/interactive version more as I did start to wish I bought that version. (This may have happened but with being in the UK and having a young son I am somewhat out of the loop). However, downloading the free App made me feel a bit better as it was fun to play with.
As the novel was written in a series of documents it was easy to dip in and out of however I did at times miss a sustained text that I could completely immerse myself in. Perhaps if I bought the interactive version and was able to hear some of the transcripts read aloud I may have felt a stronger connection with some of the characters.
The final section would have been quite hard to write in the style Annabel has chosen but it did work. The ending was fitting but some of the final section could have been cut down a little. I also would have liked more on the intial contact with the ‘outside’ once the timelock was broken; for me that may have been more engaging than what played out. As The Ark website encourages fan fiction, perhaps that should be my offering…

Overall: A bold, original move that pays off. Fan fiction is encouraged, and you can buy a paperback version of the linear story directly from Annabel if you are still anti-Kindle/technology (and there’s nothing wrong with that).

The Ark: 4 stars
The Ark, the App and the whole ‘experience’: 5 stars


Amazing YA Debut

Product Details Blackbrooke by Emma Silver

I had seen the marketing for Emma Silver’s Blackbrooke on Twitter and was intrigued by the premise: due to the town of Blackbrooke being harassed by dangerous Crits walking the streets at night, the area has been fenced off from the Outside. Blackbrooke residents must follow a series of rules which include staying inside after curfew and having triple glazed windows. The long nights make winter hard and ‘walk outs’ are inevitable. Seventeen year old Liberty Conner begins to notice some odd behaviour and patterns in Blackbrooke and seeks to find out the truth before time runs out. I had it at the top of my ‘to read’ list on an earlier blog about YA fiction (Dystopian Survival) and started reading it last Friday.

I was gripped from the first page of this novel and became annoyed when I had to take a break from reading it! I often have a YA book on the go that I can dip into every so often when I am busy but I have to say that I read this book in two sittings. I enjoy YA fiction. As an adult I realise I am not the target audience so I am often rather forgiving when plot weaknesses and somewhat predictable characters pop up. Much to my delight, I found none of these flaws in Blackbrooke.

Emma Silver has done a remarkable job of creating three-dimensional characters; each character is unique and believable. The relationships between the characters are also clear and thoughtful. There is an obvious personal history between the characters that has developed over the years as a result of living in such an insulated town. The imaginative plot also seemed believable. The only thing I did wonder about every so often when I took a brief break was, Unless I missed something, why didn’t the residents just vacate the town when the rules were established? However, once I got back to the story I forgot all about this! The author has also created a believable setting. The town of Blackbrooke is somewhere in the mysterious north of England. There are only about 10,000 residents and the feelings of claustrophobia and depression permeate the story, particularly when the dark winter nights close in. For an imaginative story there is a reasonable amount of social realism included.

Due to the more sophisticated writing style, some of the themes and the raunchy elements that are included, this is a book for older teens. It is one of the best books I have read recently and stands heads and shoulders above other YA books. Secondary school libraries should have it on their shelves and adults who are interested in trying YA fiction will probably find themselves pleasantly surprised. I look forward to the second book in the series that is due for release in the summer.

Blackbrooke: 5 Stars

Crooked Cat Publishing are clearly able to identify a great writer. Blackbrooke was the first book I read from this publishing house and I would now like to try a couple more of their books. I have added these three adult fiction books to my ‘to read’ list:

Product DetailsA Guide to Becoming Distinctively Average – Amy Elliott-Smith. Humour / Contemporary Fiction about a 30-something dog groomer questioning life.

Product DetailsDragon Ring – Maggie Secara. First in a Fantasy series about a reality TV host who owes the King of the Faeries a favour.

Product DetailsHow to Look Like You – Rose McClelland. A chick lit story about frenemies.