Welcome to my tour stop for “Under Fortunate Stars”! I have been toying with the idea of spending Sundays focusing on my love of Science Fiction as whenever November comes round for @SciFiMonth (ie. #SciFiMonth) I have the tendency of being unable to get into all the lovelies I want to read during that singular month. I felt expanding my focuses to be curated year-round whilst doing a concentration of SciFi during November might be the better route to take moving forward! Therefore, I’ll be either sharing reviews, features, interviews (such as this one!) or spotlights – or other such posts during my newly established #SciFiSundays showcases on Jorie Loves A Story.
This weekend, I had hoped to read and focus on the story ‘Under Fortunate Stars’ however, my copy from the publisher hasn’t yet arrived – though, I did recently find out there is an audiobook edition which released ahead of the hardcover this June. I will have to keep you posted on which edition of the story I read which is why I changed my tour stop from a review to a spotlight. I would have loved to have assembled an interview for you all to enjoy today however, my May was wrecked with a lot of difficult work days whilst my health suffered a bit as well. I’m thereby thankful there was an extract I could select and feature instead of being able to absorb myself into this world myself.
The reason I wanted to read or listen to “Under Fortunate Stars” was due to my previous readings of “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” (see also Post) and the expansively engrossing The Clan Chronicles by Julie E. Czerneda. (see also Reviews) I enjoy becoming invested in a story or series set inside a ship environment whilst also focusing on the characters who either have circumstances they have to overcome or have a unique situation happen to them and you get the joy of taking that journey alongside them.
Whilst you might have noticed I’m focusing on Fantasy throughout the month as well – as I’m co-hosting @WyrdAndWonder. There will be loads of new content featuring those stories as well as we move into our final week and a half of the event. Everyone has been gracious providing content for everyone to enjoy this year across socially bookish channels and we’re all delighted to see the event grow into such a larger and expansive community; similar to how Sci Fi Month found its own wings to fly several years ago.
Fleeing the final days of the generations-long war with the alien Felen, smuggler Jereth Keeven’s freighter the Jonah breaks down in a strange rift in deep space, with little chance of rescue—until they encounter the research vessel Gallion, which claims to be from 152 years in the future.
The Gallion’s chief engineer Uma Ozakka has always been fascinated with the past, especially the tale of the Fortunate Five, who ended the war with the Felen. When the Gallion rescues a run-down junk freighter, Ozakka is shocked to recognize the Five's legendary ship—and the Five's famed leader, Eldric Leesongronski, among the crew.
But nothing else about Leesongronski and his crewmates seems to match up with the historical record. With their ships running out of power in the rift, more than the lives of both crews may be at stake...
This interview today marks the first showcasing I will be featuring during my newly minted #SciFiSundays – a concentration of reviews, interviews and features celebrating one of my favourite genres which is Science Fiction! As you know, I have a soft spot in my bookish heart for Space Opera – which was definitely seen through my journey of reviews into #TheClanChronicles a few years ago whilst I have a lovely surprise coming this @SciFiMonth which re-anchours me into that beloved series. Until then, I decided I want to read more Sci Fi throughout the year rather than merely concentrate on it during November – as you might have seen, I am also starting to feature Fantasy showcases outside of the months of May & October, where I predominately feature them during an event for @WyrdAndWonder.
My interview today is about a new trilogy I learnt about via Breakeven Books when I was approached to host this blog tour. Through a quick conversation with them, I realised this series is a lot like Becky Chambers novel “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” which I helped co-host a series of discussions about on Twitter a few years ago as well. Very character centred and driven and there is an intensive challenge for the characters to overcome whilst there is a diverse cast at the centre of it all, too.
I wanted to explore a bit more about this first novel of the trilogy through a conversation with the author as I wasn’t entirely sure if I could read the book right now in time for the blog tour. Also of note, one of my top favourite series for Star Trek isn’t the author’s favourite (ie. Enterprise) but I have very fond memories of watching that in the Spring of 2020 (or thereabouts!). We do agree on Classic Trek and not the new additions; as a bone of contention for me is ‘Picard’ which takes Trek too dark for me to traverse inside.
I am hoping this conversation gives readers on the tour and those of whom follow me something to chew on about this story and the evolving series as I know sometimes it is hard to choose which stories are good fits for us as readers simply through a synopsis! This author kindly lent her time and truly enriched the conversation with insight about how she approached writing the story as much as what you can find inclusive of it.
At the far edge of cultivated space, a derelict ship rests. Ten times larger than the biggest Terran dreadnaught, the ship is not recognized by any of the five species tenuously coexisting in the galaxy.
Small crews are sent to investigate. What they find is a trap.
Once in the metal labyrinth’s clutches, it is clear the unlikely allies will not escape unless they can work together as a team. Unfortunately, trust and cooperation are entirely out of the question.
An immersive tale of escape and comradery, Escaping First Contact brings together an unforgettable cast of characters, richly detailed alien cultures, deft humour, and explosive action.
Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in  whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. I returnt to hosting for Lola’s Book Tours in  before having to take a small hiatus from requesting future blog tours for a second time. By  as my health afflictions from 2018/19 started to recede I realised I could start to host for her authors with better confidence in being able to participate on the tours themselves. I am thankful I can continue to host and feature tours by this touring company from 2020-forward.
I received a complimentary copy of “The Twin Stars” direct from the author Bridgette Dutta Portman in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Why this story inspired me to read it:
Portal Fantasy is something I stumbled into in recent years – as I hadn’t come through that vortex of the genre previously. I wasn’t the right fit for Narnia (even though I enjoyed the first and third film adaptations) and I definitely was the kid who couldn’t stop watching “The Neverending Story”. What was interesting for me in your synopsis was the parallels to Neverending Story – how Bastian had to read and then live through the story which felt similar in context to your own character’s journey. I love stories which evoke such a strong reaction and connection between the world, the characters and the reader.
This is why this story appealled to me – as well as the self evolution and growth of Olive. I love coming-of age stories personally and I felt this was an interesting cross-section of why I love reading both MG and YA stories.
From the first moment I learnt of this story, I felt a pull of connection and knew I needed to feature it. I wasn’t sure at the time I signed on for the blog tour if I would be interviewing the author, hosting an extract or able to request the story for review consideration – but I felt as strong of a pull to have this story in my life this year as I have with other selections I’ve featured previously during our 4th Year of Wyrd And Wonder! There was something uniquely different about this story and I had a sense about this world as being one I would find delishly devouring about how the writer wrote the story and allowed us into her character’s journey.
During #SelfPubFantasyMonth in September, I am curating a ‘final week’ of #WyrdAndWonder posts whilst endeavouring to carry forward further readings of Self Pub Fantasy novelists. Tied into those plans will be a forthcoming interview with Ms Portman as I wasn’t able to pull that together for this blog tour due to chaotically brutal lightning storms & a myriad of tech issues I had to work through just to finish this review.
I love finding writers who are writing coming-of age stories in Speculative Young Adult – the kind of stories you almost wish had been available to read during your own childhood but feel equally as blessed to find as an adult as YA doesn’t have an exit clause for readers! Everyone can appreciate YA at any age which is why I wanted to celebrate #MyYASummer all along.
A magical journal. A world savaged by its own suns. An evil prince. A princess in hiding. And a teenage girl who learns to be the hero of her own story.
Sixteen-year-old Olive Joshi has obsessive-compulsive disorder, and can't stop worrying about hurting the people she loves. She finds refuge in writing about Coseema, a magical princess on a distant planet. Coseema is fearless, confident, and perfect - everything Olive thinks she’ll never be. When she falls through a portal into her own unfinished story, Olive finds herself in a world in peril: double suns scorch the land, the brutal Prince Burnash seeks supreme power, and Coseema is nowhere to be found. Together with her friends - a bold poet, a cursed musician, a renegade soldier, and an adventurous girl from the desert - Olive will have to face her deepest fears to find the hero in herself.
The Twin Stars is an engrossing new portal fantasy in the spirit of the Wizard of Oz, the Neverending Story,and the Chronicles of Narnia.
Ahead of reading my reactions to “The Twin Stars”
ENJOY this short extract of the novel which parlays into the ‘portal’:
She was underwater.
Olive realized it just in time to stop herself from gasping. Panic seared through her body as she thrashed about, kicking downward, tearing at the water uselessly.
There was nothing solid around her.
Murky darkness flooded her eyes; a churning roar filled her ears. Just as her starved lungs neared their limit, her left knee collided with something sharp and firm. She kicked and her foot met rock. She brought her other foot to the same position and pushed off the surface as hard as she could, propelling her body through the water.
The diminishing pain in her ears told her she was traveling upward, moving amidst an effervescence of tiny bubbles. She felt them swirling, fizzing, tickling her flesh, bearing her up toward the light as she begged her tortured lungs to hold out for another few seconds until, at last, she broke the surface.
At first, she could do nothing but devour it. When the haze of panic dissipated and her senses returned, her next coherent thought was that the plane had crashed. But this was not the icy water of the Arctic Ocean. This water felt like a warm bath. It bubbled like soda, and great plumes of vapor waltzed over its surface, spiraling upward until they melted into a golden haze. It reminded Olive of steam rising from mug. It might have been pleasant had she not nearly drowned in it.
The strange pool had a vague familiarity to it, but her head felt too muddled to sort it out.
Where was she? Where was the plane?
It crossed Olive’s mind that she was dead, and the thought sent a chill through her, but her sore knee and aching lungs reassured her. People weren’t supposed to feel pain after death, and they definitely shouldn’t need to breathe.
She treaded water, scanning her surroundings. She thought she saw movement through the curls of steam and paddled toward it, her knee smarting with each kick. Gradually the silhouette of something—no, someone—took shape as she moved through the plumes. At last, her feet touched the jagged, pebbly ground, and with a final rush of adrenaline, she pushed herself forward into the shallows. There she crouched in the warm water and stared up at the figure on the bank.
For a heartbeat, she thought it was Dadiji.
The woman had the same slight stoop, the same gently lined face, the same warm brown skin and long black hair frosted with silver. She was dressed differently, though; this woman wore deep crimson robes, with a fluted, draping cut that reminded Olive of an illustration she had once seen of an ancient Greek poet. A patch covered her right eye. Her left eye was a startlingly vivid purple, and it stared back at the young stranger who had just emerged from the steamy pool.
This was not Dadiji, and yet there was something jarringly familiar about the woman. Not until she spoke did Olive realize what it was.
“Coseema…” breathed the woman.
So, this was a dream. Olive felt a surge of relief. It did not seem like one—her knee throbbed with a very real pain—but this had to be a dream, because she was staring at a person she had made up herself.
The Coseema Saga:
The Twin Stars (book one)
The Silver Sail (book two) *forthcoming release!
(there is a sneak preview of what is coming next @ the end of “The Twin Stars”)
I marked this as Upper YA due to the topics & subjects explored in the context of the story as well as how dark this fantasy turned in the final quarter of the novel. I felt it was better suited for Upper YA readers rather than for readers seeking traditional YA.
Converse on Twitter via: #YALit or #ILoveYA; #PortalFantasy + #SpaceOpera
as well as #TheTwinStars and #YAFantasy and #SciFantasy and #DarkFantasy
About Bridgette Dutta Portman
Bridgette Dutta Portman is an author, playwright, and teaching artist. Dozens of her plays have been produced across the United States and overseas. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Spalding University, as well as a PhD in political science from the University of California, Irvine.
She is past president of the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco and is currently a member of Same Boat Theater Collective, the Pear Playwrights’ Guild, and the Dramatists’ Guild. She recently joined the board of the Pear Theatre in Mountain View, CA. The Twin Stars is her debut novel, and the first of a planned trilogy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband Deepanshu and their two young children.
Acquired Book By: In February, 2020 Kimberley @ Caffeinated PR contacted me about the Suzy Spitfire series whilst asking me if I would enjoy being one of the book bloggers on her PR Team. The request arrived at a point in my life where I was seriously in need of a wicked good story to pull me out of the funk I was experiencing with my health and the afflictions associated with a bad Winter’s cold. The timing for me was perfect and as I read about Suzy Spitfire – the context of the story fit within what I enjoyed about the Urban Fantasy series October Daye by Seanan McGuire.
I joined the book blitz for showcasing the second novel in the Suzy Spitfire series whilst I requested the first novel to read and review in order to understand the author’s style, voice and the continuity of the series. I therefore received a complimentary copy of “Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody” in exchange for an honest review from the author Joe Canzano. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
What truly attracted me to read #SuzySpitfire:
I heart #SciFiMonth | #RRSciFiMonth every November – but the last several years have been a bit of a mixed bag for me. Mostly as my migraines seem to derail *all!* efforts to read the stories I’ve selected for the month (see also this annoucement from 2019 wherein I barely touched the surface of what I disclosed) which is why I’m trying to start reading Sci Fi outside of November this year! (big smirks)
To be perfectly transparent – I was in the mood for an unlikely heroine adventuring in outer space and taking me on an adventure I didn’t realise I *needed!* in my life! lol A bit like how seeing “Star Trek: Enterprise” recently filled a need as well – we’ve just finished the fourth year and are saddened for the loss of episodes – except for 3x, one we skipped (the Detroit one) and two were just too weird for words to describe and had zero bearing on the series as a whole! (“through a glass darkly” – the mirror universe duology) I wanted to read a series COMPLETELY outside my zone of comfort – I wanted to tuck into her story and just have this wicked wild ride of reading a book which would give me a healthy respite from my backlogue, my illnesses and of course, the weight of current events! And, blessedly dear hearts – #SuzySpitfire filled that void for me!
As soon as I happily read the pitch about this series by Kimberly @ Caffeniated PR, I just *knew!* I had to sign on to spotlight #SuzySpitfire! This also marks my first blog tour with her blog touring company and I couldn’t be happier! I look forward to continuing my adventure with Suzy Spitfire this weekend but for now, let’s take a bit of a closer look at what you can expect to find in the sequel “Suzy Spitfire and the Snake Eyes of Venus!” – by the by, is it me or does this series have the most brilliant titles!?
When outlaw Suzy Spitfire discovers her father was murdered after creating a super-duper artificial intelligence, she races across the solar system in search of the brain he built—but it’s a rough ride, and she’s soon forced to tangle with pirates, predators, and her father’s killer—as well as a man she thinks she can love.
Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody is a smash-bang science fiction adventure filled with action, intrigue, and a dose of dark humor.