Blog Tour (Q&A and Review): The Disappearance of Ember Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Firstwood

Today I’m delighted to be a part of the blog tour for Ambelin Kaymullina’s novel, The Disappearance of Ember Crow. I am loving the Tribe series so far and was very excited to be given the opportunity to ask Ambelin a few questions.

Q&A with Ambelin Kwaymullina

  •  What inspired you to write The Tribe series?

Ashala Wolf herself, and the rest of The Tribe. I can her voice so clearly, and see around me the towering trees of the Firstwood.

It was autumn the last time I was there. I stood just outside the wolf den, my feet sinking into the sodden earth, and inhaled the sharp tang of eucalyptus from the leaves of the tuarts. And I thought, I have missed you.

If I didn’t write, when would I go home?

  •  Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you have other dream careers in mind?

I always knew. Although I’m not sure ‘career’ is the right description – obsession, maybe. Necessity of life, like air or water or food. The thing that I do not give up, that I hold onto tightly even when all else is taken. Writing is the love of my life.

  • What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Work at my day job. Read. Watch sci fi dvds. Hang out with my dogs. Although the truth is that there is always a part of my mind that is lost in a story. Sometimes it is a large part – leaving me susceptible to walking in front of traffic, into light poles and three blocks further than I wanted to go.

  • What books do you think have influenced your life and your writing the most?

Not books but a story. An ancient tale, of blue sky and purple hills and the travels of generations of feet across red earth. The story of my people, the Palyku, my Ancestors, and my Country.

  • What are you currently reading?

Nothing right now – because I’m writing and I don’t read when I write, I simply don’t have the time.

  • Are you working on anything now?

The next book in the Tribe series, The Foretelling of Georgie Spider.

  • Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

You matter. You matter to me – you have taken the time to read my story, and that is a gift. You matter to Ashala and the Tribe – you have walked in their world, following Ash through the hallways of the detention centre and along the trails of the Firstwood. And you matter to this world too. Never believe that your thoughts or feelings lack meaning or significance. There are mistakes enough to be made, in this existence; don’t make the one of assuming that you cannot change your own or someone else’s reality for the better.

Thank you so much Ambelin for taking the time to answer my questions.

My Review

Title: The Disappearance of Ember Crow (The Tribe #2)The Disappearance of Ember Crow (The Tribe #2)
Author: Ambelin Kwaymillina
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult,
Publisher: Walker Books
Date Published: November 2013
Pages: 443
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
“However this ends, you’re probably going to find out some things about me, and they’re not nice things. But, Ash, even after you know, do you think you could remember the good? And whatever you end up discovering – try to think of me kindly. If you can.”

Ember Crow is missing. To find her friend, Ashala Wolf must control her increasingly erratic and dangerous Sleepwalking ability and leave the Firstwood. But Ashala doesn’t realise that Ember is harbouring terrible secrets and is trying to shield the Tribe and all Illegals from a devastating new threat – her own past

My Review:

All is not well with the Tribe. They may have had a triumph at Detention Centre 3 but life is far from peaceful for the residents in the Firstwood. Ashala Wolf has gone and embraced her wolf and is running with the pack. Ember Crow went to Gull City months ago and never returned – leaving Ashala only a dog and a memory to reassure her that Ember is okay. Not one to stand back when her tribe family are in danger, Ashala starts digging into Ember’s disappearance to try and find her best friend. Things come out that make Ember’s cryptic leaving and parting message seem even more complicated and dangerous than Ashala ever considered.

Starting a few months after the end of The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, this second book of the Tribe series has Ashala still feeling the effects from her actions at the end of the first book. She can’t trust her dreams, her ability or her feelings for her loved ones. Feeling it’s safer to run with the Pack Master, Ashala abandons her human self and becomes the wolf to protect the Tribe – from herself. Her relationship with Connor is on edge after Ashala doesn’t believe that she is good for him.

Ashala’s grandfather, the Serpent, who lives beneath the lake, is full of obscure and confusing advice wanting Ashala to “beware the angels“.Nothing is making sense and Ashala’s need to keep her tribe safe may be conflicting with what’s best for them.

I enjoy Ambelin’s writing. She’s brutal on her characters – we get to see the best and worst from them and I like them more for it. Ashala is flawed and doesn’t always know what’s best for everyone but she’s a good leader because she accepts her faults and learns from her mistakes. She loves fiercely with her whole being and is unapologetic about always thinking the best of her tribe and family. Ember is someone I was fascinated by after the first book and it was great to see more about her and her ability through this book. There are some incredible new characters introduced in this novel (like Jules!) and many familiar faces popping up again.

Whereas the first book took place over a few days – not including memories – The Disappearance of Ember Crow is setting the series up for the long game. Months pass and we get to see a lot of character development. People are growing and changing as the world takes its toll and as relationships mature. The Firstwood is a character in itself with the beauty and majesty of the forest evident throughout the novel.

This series is quickly becoming a favourite of mine and both The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf and The Disappearance of Ember Crow have been some of my favourite reads this year. The writing is vivid and beautiful, the story is creative and brilliantly executed. I love that the romance is there but not distracting from the plot nor is it too intense. I will definitely be continuing this series when the third book, The Foretelling of Georgia Spider, is released in the future.

Purchase the novel from:

Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Author Bio

Ambelin Kwaymullina

Ambelin Kwaymullina loves reading sci-fi/fantasy books, and has wanted to write a novel since she was six years old. She comes from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. When not writing or reading she works in cultural heritage, illustrates picture books, and hangs out with her dogs. She has written a number of children’s books, both alone and with other members of her family. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is her first novel.
Thanks for visiting my stop on the Disappearance of Ember Crow blog tour. Feel free to stop by Aussie Reviews for the next stop on the tour!

Book Review, Q&A and Giveaway: Game Plan by Natalie Corbett Sampson

Title: Game Plangame-plan-cover-only
Author: Natalie Corbett Sampson
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Young Adult,
Publisher: Fierce Ink Press
Date Published: November 2013
Pages: 360
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Just because the play goes wrong, doesn’t mean you quit the game.

Ella Parker seems to have everything: great friends, an awesome family and a star position on her high school basketball team. The only thing missing from her life is a boyfriend. That changes once she catches the eye of Sam Cleveland. With Sam by her side Ella has it all. When a drunken night results in an unwanted pregnancy, her perfect life is turned upside down and she’s faced with an impossible decision.

Katherine Frayne has always wanted to be a mother. But with the last results of her in vitro fertilization pointing to no chance of a baby, her hopes are dashed. Then her husband Danny suggests they adopt. At first Kat is resistant, but she soon warms to the idea.

Ella and Katherine must navigate their lives amidst tough decisions, the consequences of which not only affect them but those they love the most.

My Review:
Teenage pregnancies and adoption at times may be considered controversial but in Natalie Corbett Sampson handles them beautifully in her debut novel, Game Plan.

Seventeen year old Ella Parker has a plan – to get a basketball scholarship to college. And she’s on track to get there too. There are scouts coming to her games and she’s never been in better form. But then she meets Sam Cleveland. He’s gorgeous and the first boy to ever take an interest in her. Will one drunken accident change every plan Ella’s ever made for herself?

Katherine and Danny Frayne have been married for seven years and trying for a baby for most of them. Unable to conceive naturally, they start looking into the adoption process and find it can be heartbreaking and seemingly hopeless at times.

The contrast between the two stories was beautifully executed. Ella is a girl who never expected to be a pregnant teenager. She’s a good student, never caused her parents any worry and is dedicated to her sport. Her distress at her situation is palpable and understandable. Katherine on the other hand has a deep instinctual need to be a mother. She feels like there’s something missing in her life without a baby and is desperate to do whatever she can to fill that need. I liked her scepticism regarding the adoption process. She’s passionate about becoming a mother but I admired that she didn’t let it completely take over her life.

Plot wise – there aren’t a lot of surprises. But that isn’t a problem. This story’s strengths lay in the honest way the characters deal with their situations and how their real their emotions feel. Both Ella and Katherine are heartbroken but for almost opposite reasons. Ella’s interactions with Sam felt relatable for many people – both in the upswing of the relationship and the way they reacted to the unplanned pregnancy.

I enjoyed reading this book and seeing how Ella and Katherine dealt with the tough situations life handed them. It was a beautiful read and I look forward to reading more from Natalie Corbett Sampson.

Thanks to Fierce Ink Press for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Special Edition Paperback: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | McNally Robinson |Fierce Ink Press

Regular paperback: Fierce Ink Press (best spot!) | CreateSpace | Amazon

AUTHOR BIO

NCS-crop

Natalie Corbett Sampson lives in Hatchet Lake, Nova Scotia with her husband, four school-aged Munsters and a menagerie of pets. Her day job is a speech language pathologist where she loves helping children improve their ability to communicate with the world around them. When she’s not working, writing or sitting in a hockey rink Natalie loves reading, photography and drawing.
Author Links:

Q & A with Natalie Corbett Sampson!

I was lucky enough to get to ask Natalie some questions about Game Plan, writing in general and reading.

  • What inspired you to write Game Plan?

This story came very quickly to me, driving home one night it just sort of tumbled into my head so all I had to do was get it down. A lot of the story came from my own adoption story, even though our family’s journey was very different. A lot of Ella’s story came from my own high school time – I wasn’t a pregnant teen but the insecurities and hopes she felt are pretty common to teens, I think. I have often wondered about birth mothers, how they come to their decision and what they go through. Ella’s experiences are how I imagine it might be sometimes.

  • When you first decided to write Game Plan, did you always know you wanted to focus on both the story of the birth mother and that of the adoptive family too?

They seemed like a good pair of stories to set parallel. Too often adoptions are only seen from one side – you see a family adopt a baby or know of someone who had to place a baby, but they really can’t be separated – during that time or any time after. It’s important to know that while adoption builds one family, it is always linked to a loss.

  • Teen pregnancy can be a very controversial issue in society. Were there any particular parts in Ella and Katherine’s story that were hard to write considering what reader’s reactions might be to your novel?

I’m glad you asked because that was one of the hardest parts for me to settle myself. I wanted Ella’s decision to be sound, and without a baby there’s no adoption. I struggled to portray realistically what would drive a teenager to complete a pregnancy instead of seeking an abortion but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing so in a judgmental way. I wanted to make sure the decision to have the baby was right for Ella, not because abortion was wrong, just that it wasn’t right for her.

  • What are you most proud of in Game Plan?

You mean besides getting it finished at all? I’ve been told that it’s real and relatable and that some readers have cried at parts. I’m proud of that. I really hope I have captured an image of a birth mother in a respectful light.

  • Are you fluent in text talk? I have to admit that I had to google some of the text messages characters sent and received in this book!

NO WAY! The first draft had few texts, lots of phone calls… my editor said ‘wait, teens text!’ So I turned them into texts and typed them out long like I text and again the editor reminded me how out of touch I was with new technology and communication. So I went back and ‘translated’ all the long forms into text talk. Then it got fun and I might have gotten a little carried away with it!

  • Are there any novels you’ve read that you think more people should read too?

I read a lot… GoodReads is my favourite app. My latest favourite was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I love historical fiction and Phillipa Gregory writes good ones. And of course it should be mandatory for everyone to read the Harry Potter series. I read the Divergent trilogy recently to help with writing my next book and really enjoyed those too.

  • You’re a very busy woman! Between your children, husband, work and other commitments, do you find it difficult to find time to write?

I do, so I’ve made an effort to prioritize and schedule it. I changed my hours at my day job to work longer but fewer days so I could commit two days to writing. It’s very easy to schedule that last and do what I need for everyone else but I’m trying very hard to respect it as a priority.

  • What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

My kids are terribly over scheduled. They are in basketball and hockey, swimming lessons and music… most of my ‘free time’ is spent shuttling to one activity or the other. I take my camera most places I go and force my kids to look cute. I have to read before I can fall asleep.

  • Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? What do you do when it happens?

Yes, it’s horrible! I usually just type something on the page – anything really – and let the words keep coming until they start to make sense and then go back and delete the garbage. It’s so much easier to edit bad work than to stare at a blank page and work from nothing.

  • Have there been any books or authors that have influenced your own writing? Which ones?

Honestly, I’m not sure. I read a lot, and a lot of different stuff. I would expect everything I read will have an impact on what and how I write, but I can’t say there’s anything specifically that I can say changed or impacted the way I write. Actually I would say songs have a greater impact on what I write. I love how a good song can elicit a strong memory or emotion with just a line or two. There are times when I hear a song and wish I could recreate that emotion in a story.

  • What are you currently reading?

I’m supposed to be reading Persuasion by Jane Austen for my book club. It’s a challenge.

  • Are you working on anything now?

I’m prepping my second book for submission to publishers. It’s a story that I love, it’s very different from Game Plan. It talks about choosing identity, the power of words and the necessity of creativity.

  • Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

THANK YOU!!! I’m so thrilled to have the little story I pecked away at on my computer turn into a real live book! I appreciate readers for taking the time to read it, and really really hope it’s enjoyed. I would love to hear back from any readers to know what worked for them and what wasn’t quite right.

Thanks Natalie for taking the time to answer my questions! I enjoyed reading Game Plan. I thought it captured a lot of the emotions and frustrations that both sides of an adoption face.

Thank you for reading and for including it on your blog!

I always think it’s fantastic when I have things in common with authors! I’m currently reading The Night Circus (and enjoying it) and Persuasion is one of my favourite book. I hope you finish reading it. I wish you the best with your second book and can’t wait to read it once it’s been published. 

Giveaway!

Fierce Ink Press is generously offering one ecopy of Game Plan for one of my readers. To be entered in the giveaway just leave a comment on this post and I’ll randomly select a winner one week from today.