Tag Archives: Laura Lam

Spotlight – Shattered Minds by Laura Lam


I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for this amazing book, Shattered Minds by Laura Lam!

Shattered Minds was released on the 15th June 2017 published by Macmillan and is set to be a brilliant Sci-Fi / Dystopian read.

Shattered Minds stars a female ‘Dexter’ with a drug problem and a conscience, in a terrifying near-future where technology rules our lives and haunts our dreams. It’s set in the same world as False Hearts.  The book tackles hacking, celebrity, unlikable female protagonists and villains and the blurred lines between them…

So today I will be spotlighting the book, sharing and extract and I also have a fab giveaway!


She can uncover the truth, if she defeats her demons

Ex-neuroscientist Carina struggles with a drug problem, her conscience, and urges to kill. She satisfies her cravings in dreams, fuelled by the addictive drug ‘Zeal’. Now she’s heading for self-destruction – until she has a vision of a dead girl.

Sudice Inc. damaged Carina when she worked on their sinister brain-mapping project, causing her violent compulsions. And this girl was a similar experiment. When Carina realizes the vision was planted by her old colleague Mark, desperate for help to expose the company, she knows he’s probably dead. Her only hope is to unmask her nemesis – or she’s next.

To unlock the secrets Mark hid in her mind, she’ll need a group of specialist hackers. Dax is one
of them, a doctor who can help Carina fight her addictions. If she holds on to her humanity, they
might even have a future together. But first she must destroy her adversary – before it changes us and our society, forever.

You can buy a copy of Shattered Minds here or from your local bookshop!


Extract

THREE (cont)

CARINA

The Zealscape, Green Star Lounge, Los Angeles,

California, Pacifica

 Carina stumbles home, clutching her coat around her thin shoulders.

The police who came to the Green Star Lounge wanted to interview her about what had happened, but she put on the ‘I’m-an-unhinged-Zealot’ act, flying spittle and all, and they left her alone pretty quickly.

They decided she was lucky to be the only survivor. They let her go. One drug-addled woman is clearly not the cause of the malfunction of the Zeal lounge. It’d been a slow day, but thirteen Zealots are now dead. Who will mourn them?

The images play in her mind as Carina totters on unsteady feet. The bee. The rose. The thorn. The blood. The eyes. And then the dead girl with the same mismatched eyes. Carina knows her Zealscape intimately. Every corner. Every seam. Every brick. She’s built it so carefully over the last six months.

This is something else.

She reaches her apartment, tucked into the Chesterfield Square neighbourhood of South Los Angeles. Once, these few blocks had one of the highest crime rates in the world. Now, most of the inhabitants are Zealots plugged into their dreams. It is a ghost town.

The entrance to the apartment building senses her VeriChip and she sends the passcode from her eye implants to the door. The metal grate scrapes open. She makes her slow progress up the stairs, pausing to catch her breath every few steps, her knees shaking. This apartment was cheaper than one with an elevator. She underestimated how quickly her health would start to deteriorate. Falling against her front door, she sends the next passcode to the lock.

Once Carina was tidy, but now her clothes are scattered around the apartment, and she hasn’t even bothered sending the bots around to clean. She tends to throw away clothes when they’re too dirty to wear, buying cheap new ones from the replicator. The sweat-stained sheets on her bed need changing. This is the place where she has a few hours of fitful sleep or eats some tasteless, vaguely nutritious food before going back to the Green Star Lounge.

This is the place where she looks at the scan of her brain, trying to find out why it’s broken and she now wants to kill everyone she comes across. Setting the program to load, she goes to the bathroom.

Her tooth is still there, the eroded root crusted with dried blood. She washes her hands, and the tooth disappears down into the pipes. She tongues the empty space in her mouth where it used to be, wincing at her sore gums. It could be fixed, but it’d mean more time out of the Zealscape or away from the project.

Then it hits her: the lounge will almost certainly be closed tomorrow and she doesn’t know how she will get her dose of Zeal.

She should care more about the people who died. She should worry that going back to the same lounge, or another one, means it could happen again, and she might not be so lucky if it does. But she can’t care about anything except finding that next hit.

Carina collapses on the sagging couch. The wallscreens are always turned off. The kitchen cupboards are empty, so if she wants to eat, she’ll have to order NutriPaste from the replicator, as that’s all she can afford. The thought of its chalky texture turns her stomach. So she sits. Bee. Rose. Thorn. Blood. Eyes, one green, one blue.

What do they mean? Is it gibberish, some strange side effect from a virus let loose in the Zeal program subsystem? The bit of her that was once a neuroprogrammer is curious, but that part is mostly swallowed up by Zeal apathy. She can only care about her main project.

Her brain scan has loaded. It floats in the middle of the living room, taking up most of the space. Her implants are old and need refreshing, but they work well enough for the Zeal, and that’s all she cares about.

Carina can find nothing physical to explain the gradual unravelling of her mind. Her prefrontal cortex seems normal. Her ventromedial cortex is not shrunken, so decision-making should also still be fine. Her dopamine receptors are shot, but that’s more thanks to the Zeal than any existing precondition. The way she processes emotion and empathy is different, but she’s been like that since she was a teen and it doesn’t really show on her brain. Once, her emotions had been entirely walled away. For years, nothing had touched her.

It was only once she started feeling again that she also started wanting to kill.

She’s been trying to get back to how she was five years ago. She might have created a somewhat workable code, but she doesn’t have the proper equipment, nor a lab. Once, she toyed with going back to Sudice for access to the Los Angeles lab. It would have meant Roz would find out her address, but Carina thought enough time had passed that it might be all right. Her recent Zealscape vision, if it’s true, kills that plan.

She sends her brain scan away, too tired to try and puzzle over the code any more. She hasn’t made any real progress in months, anyway. Her concentration is shot, and she’s lost her touch. Somewhere deep inside her, she wonders if she’s too far gone ever to find some semblance of normalcy. Or if she even cares.

Carina turns on her implants and brings up photos of the old team at Sudice. There’s Dr Mark Teague, smiling and waving at the camera, his tanned skin glowing, silver hair glinting in the overhead lighting of the lab. There’s Dr Aliyah Zahedi, with her enigmatic smile, dark skin, orange hair a little mussed from running frustrated fingers through it all day while running her trials. She’d been the quietest of the bunch, but with a wicked sense of humour. And there’s Dr Kim Mata – part-Japanese, hair just starting to grey and cut into a short bob. Even though Mark is twice her age, Kim looks older, as she’s one of the few people in Pacifica not obsessed with flesh parlours. Carina hasn’t thought of Kim, her constant nicknames, her wheedling jokes, in months.

Dr Roz Elliot is not in the picture.

Carina hasn’t thought about any of them much in the last few months. When she left Sudice eight months ago, they were often in her thoughts. Then the Zeal took over. She’d befriended them, as much as Carina could be friends with anyone. She’d grown used to them, admired their minds enough that they became real to her. Even when she started wanting to kill everyone around her, Mark, Kim and Aliyah were safe. Fundamentally, they were good people, and Carina only kills criminals – at least, so far, though she fears her control weakening.

Carina opens the staff image of Dr Elliot and narrows her eyes as she takes in the perfect dark-blonde bob, the bland smile for the camera. There’s a criminal. There’s someone Carina wouldn’t mind hurting.

Carina has no recording of that vision in the Zealscape. If she had, she could send it to the authorities, let them deal with whatever Roz has done. No proof, no crime.

Opening up the other staff photos, her gaze lingers on Kim. She’s a head and a half shorter than anyone else on the team. Flyaway hair always escaping her bun and framing her face. Kim could probably tell her something about what happened today, but Carina doesn’t want Kim to know just how far she has fallen. She looks at Kim’s wide smile as she displays one of her precious collectable figurines, proudly balancing it on one palm, its tuft of pink hair almost tickling her nose. Kim looks goofy and playful, and not at all like one of the best neuroprogrammers in Pacifica; not like a woman traumatized by the murder of her wife. Carina turns off her implants.

She sits and stares at the blank wall for hours, blinking slowly. At some point past midnight, basic human survival instinct kicks in. Mechanically she goes to the bathroom, then the kitchen to order some NutriPaste from the replicator, grimacing at the taste and drinking water to wash it down.

Zeal withdrawal is already kicking in. Her limbs twitch as though they’ve been electrocuted. Her mouth is dry no matter how much water she drinks. The synapses in her brain aren’t firing quite right – thoughts spiral into nothingness. There are no urges to harm anyone in this plane of reality. They are safe, as long as she has her dose.

The images are still loud and clear. The dead girl’s face, staring ahead, accusatory.

‘I didn’t kill you,’ Carina says out loud to the blank wall. ‘Get out of my head.’

The girl doesn’t answer. She can’t. Carina bashes her fist against the wall. It hurts, but even the pain is distant.

She isn’t sure whether she wishes she’d died tonight or not. Admitting that uncertainty only cements the fear lingering in her fractured thoughts. Sometimes Carina wants to fix whatever’s wrong with her and find a way back to life. Other times she wants nothing more than, if not to die, then to cease to exist. A subtle difference. That feeling is growing stronger as more of her is consumed by Zeal.

 Carina doesn’t sleep. She waits for morning, where she’ll find another Zeal lounge and plug back in.

SHATTERED MINDS by Laura Lam is OUT NOW, published by Pan Macmillan, £12.99 Hardback.


About Laura Lam

 

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 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.

You can find out more about Laura on her website – www.lauralam.co.uk

Or why not follow Laura on twitter – @LR_Lam


Giveaway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With thanks to the lovely people at Macmillan I have a signed copy of False Hearts and a copy of Shattered Minds by Laura Lam to giveaway to one lucky winner!

You can enter on twitter by clicking here

UK Only

Ends 27th June 2017

Good Luck!


Blog Tour

You can catch up on the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Laura and Alice at Macmillan for having me as part of this fab blog tour and for asking me to host the giveaway. 

Have you read any of the Shattered Minds?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Sweet Elixir by Laura Lam


I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for this amazing book, Masquerade by Laura Lam!

Masquerade is the third and final novel in Laura Lam’s Micah Grey trilogy, following Pantomime and Shadowplay, and was published on the 9th March 2017.


 

 

 

 

 

 

I am super excited to have Laura on the blog today.  Each chapter of Masquerade contains an italicised header which relates to the book in some way. Laura dedicated a lot of time to researching and selecting each excerpt and I’m so honoured to be sharing one of them today, with a bit of explanation from Laura on what each means, where it’s from, etc.

If you buy Pantomime or Masquerade & send your receipt to Laura, you can claim a free 10k short story, “The Mechanical Minotaur,” set in the same world. If you buy all three, you can claim 60k of free fiction as well. More details here.


In a land of lost wonders, the past is stirring once more . . .

Gene’s life resembles a debutante’s dream. Yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Gene is both male and female. Then she displays unwanted magical abilities – last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age. Matters escalate further when her parents plan a devastating betrayal, so she flees home, dressed as a boy.

The city beyond contains glowing glass relics from a lost civilization. They call to her, but she wants freedom not mysteries. So, reinvented as ‘Micah Grey’, Gene joins the circus. As an aerialist, she discovers the joy of flight – but the circus has a dark side. She’s also plagued by visions foretelling danger. A storm is howling in from the past, but will she heed its roar?

Old magics are waking. But will the world survive their return?

Micah Grey almost died when he fled the circus with Drystan – now he and the ex-clown seek to outrun disaster. Drystan persuades his old friend Jasper Maske, a once-renowned magician, to take them in. But when he agrees to teach them his trade, Maske is challenged to the ultimate high-stakes duel by his embittered arch-nemesis.

Micah must perfect his skills of illusion, while navigating a tender new love. An investigator is also hunting the person he once seemed to be – a noble family’s runaway daughter. As the duel draws near, Micah increasingly suffers from visions showing him real magic and future terrors. Events that broke the ancient world are being replayed. But can Micah’s latent powers influence this deadly pattern?

The gifted hide their talents, but dare they step into the light?

Micah’s Chimaera powers are growing, until his dark visions overwhelm him. Drystan is forced to take him to Dr Pozzi, to save his life. But can they really trust the doctor, especially when a close friend is revealed to be his spy?

Meanwhile, violent unrest is sweeping the country, as anti-royalist factions fight to be heard. Then three chimaera are attacked, after revealing their existence with the monarchy’s blessing – and the struggle becomes personal. A small sect decimated the chimaera in ancient times and nearly destroyed the world. Now they’ve re-emerged to spread terror once more. Micah will discover a royal secret, which draws him into the heart of the conflict. And he and his friends must risk everything to finally bring peace to their land.

You can buy these books here

If you buy Pantomime or Masquerade & send your receipt to Laura, you can claim a free 10k short story, “The Mechanical Minotaur,” set in the same world. If you buy all three, you can claim 60k of free fiction as well. More details here.


Sweet Elixir

The thing about addiction is that I know it’s what will kill me. It won’t be a carriage in the road, or a common flu, or even the slow creep of cancer. It’s almost certain that Lerium will be what ends me. And there’s a strange, awful sort of comfort in that.

From the anonymous memoir of a Lerium addict, discovered and published post-mortem

Every chapter in the Micah Grey series has a short found document at the start, ranging from a variety of sources: history books, diaries, songs, poetry, and more. It’s basically a sneaky way to add in more worldbuilding and detail about Ellada & the Archipelago.

Addiction is a reoccurring theme in Masquerade.If anyone has read my tie-in Vestigial Tale “The Card Sharp,” it picks up on a lot of threads that are introduced in that novella. Lerium is the fictional drug within Ellada, which has clear parallels to opium in the 19th century. It was only used in very special religious ceremonies in one of the former colonies, Byssia, but Elladans took it and used it commercially because of colonialism. The colonies have long seceded from Ellada, reclaiming their independence, but the damage has been done. There’s another drug that’s sort of a continuation of Lerium as well, and it complicates a lot of character interactions within the final book. A little vague, but difficult to talk about the third book in a trilogy!

You can buy Masquerade or any of the Micah Grey Series here

If you buy Pantomime or Masquerade & send your receipt to Laura, you can claim a free 10k short story, “The Mechanical Minotaur,” set in the same world. If you buy all three, you can claim 60k of free fiction as well. More details here.


About Laura Lam

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 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.

You can find out more about Laura on her website – www.lauralam.co.uk

Or why not follow Laura on twitter – @LR_Lam


Blog Tour

Catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Laura for such a brilliant guest post and a fascinating insight into the trilogy!  And to Alice at Pan Macmillan for organising and sending me a copy of this fab book!

Have you read any of the Micah Grey Series?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Celebrating YA by Cynthia Murphy


cyn-murphy

Today I am honoured to bring to you a brilliant guest post from awesome blogger, writer, friend and basically all round awesome human being who I hugely admire, the lovely Cynthia Murphy.

Cynthia has been doing a fantastic job blogging recently about mental health in UKYA and following an article that was released this week (that shall not be named) asked if I would feature a guest post here on Tales.

I jumped at the chance and can confirm that and can confirm that this blog post is glitter free…..


Celebrating YA

Another week, another article shaming young adult literature.  Is it just me, or is it getting boring now?

Yes.  Yes, it is.

I’m proud to say that I, unlike some newspapers which shall remain nameless, have been busy setting up a blog series that actually celebrates YA, instead of constantly tearing it down.  I have actually read these books and loved them, just like many of you.

My first post was on Halloween reads – all a far cry from cute and glittery, without a manic pixie dream boy in sight.  There’s some cracking teen horror around at the moment (I’m 32 and had to read FROZEN CHARLOTTE with the lights on) that has come a long way since the Point Horrors I read as a teen.  You can see the rest of my creepy reading recs here.

Yesterday, I posted something very close to my heart – Mental Health in UKYA.  The books I covered were all excellent examples of how young adult literature is making a difference for readers.  In five book recommendations (which you can see here

I had covered PTSD, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, OCD and attempted suicide.  Two of those books just happened to be titles from Zoella’s book club, the very one that was unnecessarily criticised this week.  Yet I think these books are important, not only because they allow readers to explore content they may not be familiar with, but because they are good.  They are well written, adventurous and often hilarious.  They allow you to see yourself in the character.  They make you laugh, cry and gain empathy and understanding of serious topics in a compelling way.  What’s so cute and glittery about that?

As I’ve been concentrating on UKYA, I’m delighted to be guest blogging for Chelley, as this way I’m able to recommend some more wonderful, important books from around the world. As far as I’m concerned they’re all excellent depictions of a wide range of issues and genres, as well as being fabulously well written.  I hope you agree and that you find your next great read amongst the list!

The Micah Grey Trilogy by L.R. Lam

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One of the most beautifully written fantasy worlds I’ve ever come across.  This series has just been re-released and features an intersex main character who craves freedom and runs away to the circus.  I dare you not to fall in love with Micah.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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This book made me laugh, ugly cry and feel all the feelings.  It touches on the issues of growing up as a mixed race teen, poverty and abuse, all while making you yearn for first kisses and hand holding on the bus.  Plus, I really want to borrow Park’s X-Men comics.

The Spinster Club Series by Holly Bourne

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Holly has captured exactly what it’s like to be going through sixth form and does it with real feeling and some pee-inducing laughs.  Though the books link together, each can be picked up as a stand-alone and they cover mental health, drinking, dodgy dates, split families and feminism.  Oh, and how could I forget the cheesy snacks?

Crush by Eve Ainsworth

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A story told from two points of view, Crush examines an abusive relationship as it plays out, from start to finish.  It’s beautifully done and not only looks at why the relationship is wrong, but what leads both parties to act the way they do.  Important and empathetic.

You can check out a Tales Of Yesterday review of Crush here

Or a Q&A with Eve Ainsworth here

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

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Parker Grant is one of my favourite characters.  Yes, she’s blind, but she’s bolshy, bright and full of resolve, too.  She has taught herself to navigate around her home town, but finding her way through family problems and relationships proves a lot more difficult…

Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield

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Heart. Wrenching.  Paper Butterflies examines the physical and mental abuse of June, a character you will want to wrap up in a blanket and hold until it’s all over.  The ending was a million miles away from what I expected and absolutely broke me.  An important lesson on why you should always speak out and characters you won’t forget in a hurry.

Well, there you have it. I could go on and on and on but I think I’ve made my point.  YA is exploring important topics in amazing ways and if you don’t believe me, give one of the books above a try and let me know how it goes.

You can find a Tales Of Yesterday review of Paper Butterflies here

You can find my Celebrating #UKYA series over at The Scribblers (https://thescribblersonline.com/) where I will be covering a different topic every two weeks.  The next one will be live on Friday 25th November and is on those books that are breaking taboos in UKYA, including the fabulous ASKING FOR IT by Louise O’Neill and THE ART OF BEING NORMAL by Lisa Williamson, to name just two.

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You can find a Tales Of Yesterday review of The Art Of Being Normal here

Or a character Q&A with Lisa Williamson here

I hope to hear from some of you with your thoughts and recommendations and if a certain newspaper is reading, I’d be happy to write you some honest reviews of books I have actually read


About Cynthia Murphy

cyn-murphy

Cynthia is a primary school teacher from Manchester who loves to read, write, bake and eat. She will read anything and everything and favourites include The Historian, The Secret Garden, Harry Potter and Eleanor & Park, to name a few. She’s inspired by her travels and believes that magic is real…

Cynthia also blogs over at https://cynthiamurphywrites.wordpress.com where she has documented how meeting her literary agent led to a breast cancer diagnosis.

She is currently editing her debut novel, a contemporary middle grade mystery and is repped by Nicola Barr at Greene and Heaton.

You can follow Cynthia on twitter – @Cyn_Murphy

scribblers

The home of The Scribblers – a group of writers on a whirlwind adventure from slush pile to publication – from slush to lush! The Scribblers are a group of writers who first met on the CBC Online Writing for Children Course with Catherine Johnson in Autumn 2015.

https://thescribblersonline.com/


A huge thank you to Cynthia for such a fab guest post!

Have you read any of these brilliant books? What books would you recommend?  I would love to here from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

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