Join Rachel for ‘Making Trouble’ at Today’s Virtual Book Fair!

Join Rachel TODAY at 4pm BST (11am EDT / 5pm CEST) on the Twitter Live Virtual Book Fair, when she will be reading sneak previews from the Battle Ground Series prequel Making Trouble, and running a LIVE Q&A!

To view the live broadcast, you must be signed into Twitter or Periscope. Visit Rachel’s Twitter profile (@Rachel_Churcher) or Periscope page to start viewing, or follow her on Twitter before the event and receive a notification at the top of your Home screen when she starts broadcasting.

We’re looking forward to sharing Making Trouble with readers all over the world! Please come and say hi, and bring your questions …

Huge thanks to Our Own Write for organising the Virtual Book Fair. Indie authors rely on book fairs and events to meet you, the audience, and this a great opportunity for us to get together virtually. Visit the Virtual Book Fair site for the full schedule, and information on all the authors taking part.

YA Review: Venom (Isles of Storm and Sorrow #2)

Title: Venom
Author: Bex Hogan
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 4/5

Marianne, the Viper, is married to Prince Torin, but after the wedding, nothing goes according to plan. Marianne finds herself on the run, finding enemies she didn’t know she had, and discovering which of her friends she can trust.

The sequel to ‘Viper’ begins with a beautiful wedding, but just when you think the story is about to take a break, and give the characters a chance to reflect, the action kicks off and doesn’t let up. Marianne is in trouble, relying on friends and strangers to keep her safe while she finds out more about the Western Isles, and the magic she spent time researching in book one. The temptation to learn more takes her back to the West, where her competing loyalties lead her into danger – and to some surprising discoveries.

There is plenty of action in ‘Venom’, and plenty of excitement. Marianne encounters politics, power, and temptation, along with friendship, and fear for the people she loves. Every decision she makes brings heavy consequences – and without a clear plan she makes mistakes, and hurts the people she hoped to help. She’s still a strong protagonist, but this is an emotional journey through deception, myth, and the loyalty of friends.

To say that the book ends on a cliffhanger would be an understatement. When you turn the final page, you’ll need comfort food, and a plan to survive until the release of book three in April 2021!

I can’t wait …

Have you read Viper and Venom? What did you think of the story? Did you prefer the adventures of the first book, or the darker action of the second? And what about that ending? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.

Please keep your comments YA appropriate. Be patient! We want to hear from you, but comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.

Buy signed paperbacks, direct from Taller Books!

We are very excited to announce that we’ve opened an Etsy store!

Here at Taller Books, we have boxes and boxes of paperbacks that we were planning to take to author events and conventions in 2020. We were looking forward to meeting you, our readers, talking about the Battle Ground Series, and signing books for you.

But 2020 turns out to be a horrible time to be selling paperbacks. All the events we’re planning to attend are likely to be cancelled, but we still want to get the books out there, signed and personalised for you. We don’t get to meet up on Etsy, but at least we can send you a signed copy – and hopefully we can meet at a future event!

When you place an order on Etsy, Rachel will sign paperbacks, personalised with your name, and we’ll post them to you. Secure payment is available via Etsy, and we’re aiming to ship every order within 3 days.

Paperbacks make great gifts (we’ll personalise for the name you send us). The Battle Ground Series is suitable for readers aged 13-103. Books 1-3 available now, while stocks last.

We look forward to sending you your signed books. Thank you for your support!

YA Review: Internment

Title: Internment
Author: Samira Ahmed
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 4/5

Layla is a typical American teenager, sneaking out of the house to meet her boyfriend, and finding time to complete her homework. But Layla is a Muslim, and in her America, the President didn’t stop at banning people from certain Muslim-majority countries from entering the USA. Her father has lost his job as a university professor, her mother’s chiropractic clinic is running out of patients, and since ticking the ‘Muslim’ box on the national census, the family is on a government registry. Layla’s life is turned upside down when she and her parents are given ten minutes to pack and leave their home, and taken to an internment camp with other Muslim Americans.

While her parents decide to follow the rules and keep the family safe, Layla is outraged at her imprisonment in the camp. She and her friends are determined to fight back, and use social media and reporters to highlight their internment. Her frustration at her parents’ acceptance of the camp, and their fears that her activism will have consequences, pit them against one another when they need each other most.

But Layla’s actions and protests are dangerous, and the consequences are severe. She needs support from her friends inside the camp, and her boyfriend outside the camp, to make sure her internment makes it onto the national news. But Layla is nearly eighteen, and with adult protesters disappearing from the camp, she needs to attract the attention of the media before someone makes her disappear.

Internment tells an incredibly relevant and powerful story. The author describes the events as happening ‘fifteen minutes’ in the future, and points out that camps like these are already operating in the US for immigrants and immigrant children detained at the Mexican border. With Trump’s Muslim travel ban still in place, this level of discrimination does not feel too far-fetched, and that makes this book a terrifying glimpse into a very possible future.

Layla starts out as a risk-taking teenager, meeting her Jewish boyfriend after the curfew imposed to control protests against the government. When she finds herself being taken from her home, her journey into activism and resistance begins. Layla is a relatable protagonist, and her anger and frustration is entirely appropriate to the extreme events of the first few chapters. Her relationship with her parents is wonderful – her mother’s anger at her rash decisions is always tempered by her father’s calm words, and it is evident that their anger is driven by fear that something will happen to their daughter. Their decision to follow rules and not make trouble is entirely based on keeping Layla safe.

Layla makes friends in the camp, and between them they find ways to peacefully protest their internment. Their actions are inspiring – they use resistance instead of violence, and they find clever ways to avoid the constant surveillance. Their use of social media is inspired (and very, very brave), and their determination to stand together while the Camp Director tries to divide them along ethnic lines is wonderful.

This is an uncomfortable and uplifting story. Layla and her friends are inspiring protagonists, but life in the camp isn’t fair, and they are not protected from the consequences of their actions. The author references the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War, and models the camp on the Japanese-American experience, as well as on the model concentration camp established by the Nazis at Theresienstadt. Nothing in the book feels impossible, and while Muslim Americans are not subject to internment today, the author makes us feel as if it could happen, and soon.

Internment is a political story with a strong message and an inspiring protagonist. It is not a comfortable read, but it is relevant and frightening. It is a warning, and a call to arms to resist discrimination, to notice what is happening around you, and to stand together with neighbours of all colours and faiths. Highly recommended.

Have you read Internment? What did you think of the story? Were you inspired by Layla and her friends? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.

Please keep your comments YA appropriate. Be patient! We want to hear from you, but comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.