My Kyrosmagica Review of The Lost And the Found, Cat Clarke

th

Goodreads Synopsis:

LOST.

When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister. Faith’s childhood was dominated by Laurel’s disappearance – from her parents’ broken marriage and the constant media attention to dealing with so-called friends who only ever wanted to talk about her sister.

FOUND.

Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans’ old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Laurel is home at last, safe and sound. Faith always dreamed of getting her sister back, without ever truly believing it would happen. But a disturbing series of events leaves Faith increasingly isolated and paranoid, and before long she begins to wonder if everything that’s lost can be found again…

Edinburgh Book Festival

I picked up a signed copy of The Lost and The Found at The Edinburgh Book Festival. Here’s my link to my post if you’d like to see my write up of their talk – The Disappeared and my photo with Cat Clarke and Kat Ellis!!! https://mjmallon.com/2015/08/22/edinburgh-book-festival-edbookfest-cat-clarke-and-kat-ellis/

My Thoughts:

Cover:

This is a very simple cover, and if I’m totally truthful I wasn’t particularly impressed. I must admit this little voice in my head kept on saying, couldn’t you think of something a bit more imaginative Cat ?!!!!!!  It’s a bit basic, just words, and yellow tape? But having read the book, the cover seems to match the story inside, this is a novel primarily about relationships, and emotions, there are no fancy shenanigans going on, so a simple cover kind of makes sense. So first impressions are sometimes very, very wrong!!!

I bow down to your superior book cover knowledge Cat.

Snippet:

Cat read the following engaging snippet from The Lost and The Found at her Book Festival talk:

I don’t believe it. I won’t allow myself to believe it. Mum’s trying to stay calm too, but I can see it in her face – something I haven’t seen for years hope. She thinks it’s different this time. They wouldn’t have called her otherwise. They think this is it. After hundreds, maybe even thousands, of crank calls and false sightings and psychics claiming Laurel was living with goat-herds in the mountains of Uzbekistan.

Book Review:

The Lost and The Found manages to engage the reader in very dark subject matter, the return of an abducted girl that has been sexually abused, who now has to readjust to living in a world in which she has had little or no experience. Can you imagine being locked away for years and never been let out of captivity? How horrendous. Cat Clarke doesn’t take the obvious route, telling us Laurel’s story, instead she focuses primarily on Faith’s emotions. Making Faith the main protagonist of the novel instead of the more obvious choice Laurel, gives the story a much different, possibly more light-hearted feel. The novel tackles surface and deeply hidden emotions so well.

Faith, the seventeen year old younger sister, of abducted Laurel, tells us her story through her eyes. Of course she is beyond happy that her elder sister has returned, after thirteen very long years, but little by little we see tiny aspects of sibling resentment, and a ton of guilt creep into her emotions.  A shocker, or what, The Lost and The Found doesn’t put a sugar coating on Faith’s response, instead it is an honest, and believable account of how Faith and her family respond to the return of her sister. Things are not the same any more, and Cat Clarke manages to convey this in well crafted plot ideas: the family have moved to a new house, her bi-sexual father is no longer married to her mother, and is now in a relationship with a Frenchman called Michel. Not surprisingly many changes have occurred after such a long time period, so how is Laurel going to adjust? From the mid-point of this novel we start to see hints that Laurel is damaged, she was bound to be. These strange behaviour revelations bring about a new dimension, a revelation, and mysterious aspect to the novel that is most definitely a plus, but no more about that as I don’t want to spoil it for you.

The characters are wonderfully crafted, all of them seem believable and engaging. I particularly had a soft spot for Faith, but Laurel’s step dad Michel deserves a mention too. He seems a bit left out of the loop when Laurel returns. Suddenly the original nuclear family of mum, dad, and the two girls bond together in a tight knit group. Again this is believable, so likely that this would happen when a much loved daughter returns after being abducted. But, Michel remains a rock of support and understanding for Faith. Also the relationship between Faith’s father and Michel allows a modern twist to the conventional nuclear family with the new dynamic of families with gay parents, and generally gives step-parents a better, more positive image.

I didn’t engage as much with Laurel as a character, but this was bound to be inevitable with the story resting firming in Faith’s hands.

The role of the press is an interesting aspect of The Lost and the Found. In Faith’s eyes they are portrayed rather like vultures, and each family member is either repelled, or fascinated by the possibility of public appearances, book deals, etc.  Fundamentally we are all different, no two people will behave the same in these horrendous circumstances, and this gives the reader an insight into the characters’ personalities and motivations.

file

The Ending: (****Some Spoilers Below****)

I’ve been mulling over the conclusion to The Lost and The Found a lot. My initial reaction was, you’ve got to be kidding me, but then it hit me like a sledgehammer!

Certain aspects of the plot twists I suspected, others I didn’t see coming. Such a difficult book to conclude, where do you go with it? Whatever you do someone is bound to suffer, and in the end both families pay an equally dreadful price. The equilibrium of fairness is shared. Is it believable, or sustainable? Maybe not entirely, but I think Cat Clarke wanted to make a heartfelt point, and she succeeds in doing that: In prolonged media campaigns for abducted children it is always the kids from white, clean cut, (by this I mean – no drugs, no time spent in prison,) middle class families that are given the most press, and are cared about more. It seems to me that Cat wanted to add another dimension to the story by making Faith’s family a little different, a little off the run of the mill,  by adding her father’s relationship with Michel – fuel for the media campaign, but not a reason for the press to lose interest.

Personally I think Faith’s final decision is fuelled by her understandable desire to keep the shocking revelation a secret, both to protect her family and the girl that has been abducted. Who can blame her?   So a thought provoking ending, I’m still thinking about it as I write this review….. That can only be a good thing, books that make you debate certain aspects long after you’ve finished them are by far the best books in my opinion.

So would I recommend The Lost and the Found?

Absolutely, I’m so pleased that I read this! Go get a copy!! Great characters, emotions that you can really relate to, and a fast paced mystery too.

My rating:

It’s got to be 5 stars.

DISCLAIMER: “As of 13th September 2017 we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”  

My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in exchange for a review. 

Buying Links:

Amazon UK – Paperback – http://amzn.to/2xlISLg

Amazon UK – Kindle – http://amzn.to/2hlNjSJ

Amazon UK – Hardcover – http://amzn.to/2xTVfRT

Please do leave a comment, I love to chat about books.

Have you read The Lost And the Found? Did you find it engaging too?

Bye for now.

file

Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

Sharing Options:

Edinburgh Book Festival #edbookfest : Cat Clarke, and Kat Ellis

 

untitled

Being an aspiring children’s and YA author I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend the Edinburgh Book Festival talk The Disappeared by Cat Clarke and Kat Ellis on Tuesday 18th of August, as you can see I even managed to get a photo with the two of them, even though I was at the end of the signing queue! Yes, I’m a slow coach, I meandered around, had a cup of coffee, perused the books, and then joined the queue. Kat was occupied signing another book so I spoke to Cat first. Cat delighted me by asking if I’d like to be in the photo too! I was a bit concerned that I might spoil the photo, sometimes I’m not very photogenic, I pull these silly faces, but fortunately this didn’t turn out too badly.

Is this the first time that I’ve seen Cat Clarke?

No, though it is the first time I’ve spoken to her in person. I heard her speaking a year ago at YALC in London, here’s the link to that talk if you’d like to read about it: https://mjmallon.com/2014/07/18/im-too-sexy-for-this-book-yalc-panel-event/

My experience of the talk

During this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival talk I managed to get a seat fairly near the front, and was about to get my note pad out when I realised I’d lost my pen, so this write up is purely from the powers of my failing memory so if I get any details wrong, Cat/Kat don’t blame me, it’s that missing pen’s fault!

The chair person Daniel Hahn started by saying that it was bound to get confusing with a Cat/Kat in the audience, how do you differentiate? Daniel found a way round this conundrum as all good interviewers do, and the conversation flowed very freely. I was struck by Cat’s friendly disposition, and her tendency to smile and wave at the audience. She had a few members of the audience waving back! Next time I’ll be more than happy to wave back Cat, now I’ve met you in person!

The first question that Daniel posed set the tone for the talk, light and silly, which is great, I like light and silly.

It went something like this: If you had a choice of muffins for hands or squirrels for feet which would you choose? Cat C went for those squirrels, but sounds like she kind of liked the notion of regenerating muffins, (her suggestion.)  Kat E stuck with the muffins, like me she must have a sweet tooth, and a few fillings. Cat C was quick to point out that Muffins are not very practical she added that you wouldn’t be able to do the gardening with muffins for hands. True, but you wouldn’t starve either.  Oh by the way my favourite muffins are blueberry, yum…. donations on a plate, please….

Talking about squirrels just recently we had a very high fence built and squirrels have taken to running across the top of this new fence at double time, a bit like a trapeze artist balancing on a wire, except they kind of do a manic version of it, I always find it highly entertaining, it’s my own little Squirrel Circus Show what more could a girl ask for ……..

Moving on from squirrels and muffins, and back to the talk, the topic of conversation kind of gravitated towards Welsh, or to be exact writing novels in Welsh and this question was directed at Kat.  Kat is Welsh, or at least she says she is. Kat has forgotten how to write in Welsh! Maybe she’s an imposter? Can she sing? That’s normally a good way to tell, Tom Jones comes to mind, the interviewer should have asked her to sing a bar or two of Send in The Clowns. Kat’s a new breed, an author pretending to be Welsh. Only kidding Kat, I’m sure you are Welsh. Yes, I believe you, the penny dropped when you said that if your novels were written in Welsh there would be far more spelling mistakes! Lots of people can’t spell in English so that sounds plausible.

Cat Clark doesn’t write in any foreign languages at least I don’t think she does. She started her writing journey writing non-fiction, but this type of factual writing didn’t allow her an adequate platform for her squirrel like imagination, so fiction was the next obvious path to take. Cat says she thinks like a teenager, and believe me when she said this I didn’t bat an eyelid. So our teenage minded Cat decided to write Fiction, aka stories that lie to the reader, yes that’s how the interviewer sold it to us. A whole new genre: Stories That Lie, it has a certain ring to it doesn’t it? Sounds far more exciting, and interesting if you ask me, great decision Cat…

Both Cat Clarke and Kat Ellis seem to have aspects in common in their recent writing, both of these novels are about disappearing children. Moreover these two authors are drawn to the weird. Cat Clarke admitted that she was a bit of a weird kid being fascinated by child abduction, the topic for her new book, The Lost and The Found. Similiarly Kat E likes to go to circus’s with her niece and imagine what it would be like for the circus performers to befall some horrible accident. Yes, this talk ended up being a bit of a confessional for weirdness, but Cat came out with the most shocking gambit of all. She is fascinated by shark attacks, what it would be like to be attacked, and the scars you’d have. After this particular announcement silence followed, shocked audience silence, possibly Cat might have gone too far? Hope there weren’t any shark attack victims in the audience. Yes Cat, authors are a weird bunch, and by the sound of it, you’ve got this weirdness on pointe.

So the discussion progressed to differences between these two authors. Cat Clarke kind of summed it up when she mentioned the weathervane at the beginning of Kat’s book, she’s in awe of the fantasy world that Kat has created. Me too.  Daniel Hahn was quick to point out that Cat’s non fantasy based writing rocks too.

Blackfin Sky (great title by the way,) is Kat Ellis’s debut novel. During the course of the interview it transpired that Kat E did indeed have other manuscripts tucked away, apparently Blackfin Sky leapfrogged past the others, to claim the first spot in the hall of fame of first novels and is one of the nominees for ….  Drumroll……..

First Book Award, vote for your favourite here, voting closes at 5pm on Friday 16th October: www.edbookfest.co.uk 

There were readings, as there always are at these talks, hey we’re talking books, who wants to come to an author’s event and not hear the author/s talk? Cat C leapfrogged past the first chapter and read from her second chapter and Kat Ellis kept fantasy simple and read from her first chapter.

Here’s some short snippets:

Kat Ellis, Blackfin Sky, 1st Chapter

Silas’ spirit had inhabited the rusting weathervane for many years. From his perch on the school roof he watched the townsfolk of Blackfin through his empty eye socket as they buzzed through their lives beneath him, no more significant than the grains of sand piling up against the shoreline, clinging to the struts of Blackfin pier.

Doesn’t that just grab your attention? It certainly did for me!

and

Cat Clarke The Lost and The Found,  Chapter 2

I don’t believe it. I won’t allow myself to believe it. Mum’s trying to stay calm too, but I can see it in her face – something I haven’t seen for years hope. She thinks it’s different this time. They wouldn’t have called her otherwise. They think this is it. After hundreds, maybe even thousands, of crank calls and false sightings and psychics claiming Laurel was living with goat-herds in the mountains of Uzbekistan.

Again, another wonderful snippet that draws the reader in, so looking forward to reading both of these books.

Same topic two very different approaches fascinating isn’t it? That’s why I love books so much, stir a little pot of words, add a dash of magic and just see where those magical words will take you.

There were tips for writers from debut novelist Kat Ellis, her advice is to learn all you can about publishing through social media platforms such as twitter, follow those agents, (she is with the Bent Agency,) and editors.  Excellent advice from Kat, yes stalk those agents and editors, don’t let them get a day’s rest.

Neither Cat or Kat  write with a particular audience in mind. Apparently Kat didn’t do any research for her novel, sounds like it just evolved, albeit slowly, yes this writing lark takes oodles of energy and time. They tend to write what they themselves would like to read and nowadays YA is read by older people too like …… yours truly and the thoroughly accomplished and entertaining interviewer Daniel Hahn who confessed to being in his forties and reading YA. Ah, this is very relatable, us older YA readers should stick together we should have a convention or something….

So, wonderful talk, enjoyed it immensely, love being at the Book Festival, spent so much time there it began to feel like a home for home. Maybe I should pitch a tent, would have saved on bus fares.

TIP: It’s a great spot for people watching, and generally being nosy – one of my favourite pastimes, a must if you have any aspirations to be a writer……

Take a look at these photos lots of potential for imagined stories:

WP_20150816_003

 

WP_20150816_002

WP_20150816_001

Maybe you’d like to use one of these photographs as a story prompt and write a story? Please feel free to do so if you’d like by linking back to this post. Thanks.

Links:

http://catclarke.com/

http://katelliswrites.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.danielhahn.co.uk/

 

Thanks for stopping by.

Have you been to this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival?  If you have I’d love to hear about your experiences  do leave a comment. Or if you’d prefer to talk about squirrels, muffins and sharks that’s okay, happy to chat about that too!

Bye for now!

kk

Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

 

Sharing Options:

I’m too sexy for this book! YALC panel event

th

I’m too sexy for this book! Am I talking about myself again? Eh, I think I better confess it was a YALC panel event, and it was rip roaringly entertaining. So of course, I want to share it with you. The chair James Dawson started off the proceedings by donning a fetching crown, announcing his role as Queen of Teen!  Well, he deserves the title as he now has his first YA book out,  Hollow Pike, watch out, witches never sleep! A very fetching Queen he was too. I was sitting next to my teenage daughter, well she’s eighteen, and still a teenager, just, and I heard her giggling just as much as me throughout the proceedings. This panel event was an absolute MUST.

.james dawson 01

James Dawson introduced us to the panel of fellow authors, Cat Clarke, Non Pratt and Beth Reekles who were more than happy to join in with a frank and illuminating discussion about sex and sexuality in YA. There was no skirting around the issue, sex reared its head and was allowed out to play.

Should writing sexy scenes be an issue in YA?

Why not write sexy scenes? Cat didn’t feel that writing sexy scenes should be an issue. Non said that she was a “horny and curious” fourteen year old. She wanted to read ‘horny and curious’ books. Beth was fifteen when she started writing Kissing Booth.The Kissing Booth was winner of the Most Popular Teen Fiction Watty Award, and was also shortlisted for the Young Adult Romance Novel of the Year in the 2014 RNAs.  Non Pratt’s Trouble touches on a subject that all parent’s dread, teenage pregnancy.  The overriding opinion of all the panellists: kids are exploring anyway so why not write what’s happening, rather than pretend that it isn’t happening. Well, this takes me back to my teenage self, I remember reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I don’t suppose I told my mother I was reading it but there you are. We’ve all been there, done it. Nothing has changed.

 

What’s the process of writing a love scene? How do you get in the mood?

 

passion-flower-284291_640
Passion Flower! Pixabay.com

Beth

I don’t go out and buy a flower. Maybe she should!  This Passion flower is getting me in the mood! She watches romantic movies, and reads chick lit, and tries to write with her  younger teenage self  in mind. What would  she have wanted to read at that age?

Non

Likes sex to be graphic, realistic. In order to get in the mood, “she hammers it out!” Her words!  She writes her favourite scenes first, drinking,  fighting, and sex scenes! Hey, Non, don’t hold back!

Cat

She has a sexy time playlist, via twitter which includes Prince but stays clear of Rod Stewart. She likes to write revenge sex, check out her book, Undone, in Goodreads it is described as  ‘A searing story of love, revenge and betrayal.’ Don’t get on the wrong side of Cat, she scratches!

Gatekeepers reaction to sex in YA books.

Non

Fear creates taboos. Parents and children don’t like to think about each other having sex. This sounds fair comment to me! Non didn’t have to alter her sex scenes but she did have a problem with the bureaucracy that tends to accompany school visits. She found that form filling, and opposition on the grounds of parents not liking it or on religious grounds were evident in school visits. All of these can of course be a problem for writer’s of YA  ‘sexy’ books.

Cat

Parents don’t like to see sex in YA books.  They like to see good, worthy content.  It’s crazy.  Cat hasn’t had too much trouble with gatekeepers (agents, editors). She has never had to change her books, even though there is an  oral sex scene in her book. Cats just get away with so much don’t they?

tabby-114782_150
Yes, I get away with everything! pixabay.com

 

Beth

Is aware that some of her readership tends to be younger, say  eleven years old, so she writes her books with that in mind. When Beth goes on Goodreads she find that parents sometimes have problems with content. Hey, stay away from Goodreads, they’re bound to tell you off!

The chair, James Dawson has so many  enlightening things to say. He announces that kids are at the mercy of google and it is better to read a novel than to be subjected to much harder hitting sexual images on google. I absolutely agree.

With that in mind should there be age ratings on books? All the panellists said…………………………. you guessed it NO.

Has Fifty Shades of Grey paved the way?

Both Beth and Non were published after 50 Shades came out so did this make it easier for them?

Beth

Beth felt that Fifty Shades has lifted the taboo to a certain degree.

Non

Fifty Shades was titilatting, and there were fourteen and fifteen year olds reading Fifty shades.

 

 James Dawson steered the panellists onto the subject of Taboos.

Non

Non’s taboos: Religion, alternative hole use! Her words! Prefers good vanilla variety sex, and recommended Helen Walsh’s The Lemon Grove. This sounds a great read. Thanks for the tip  Non.

Beth

Religion. Depression. Wary of graphic sex due to the age of her readership.

Cat

Torture. Yes, I agree with her on that one.

What about New Adult?

Non

Don’t believe in New Adult, think it is a marketing tool.

Beth

It’s a way of labelling books for gatekeepers.

Cat

Excited when she heard of the term New Adult, she thought it was about kids going to University. She would like to see books about that time in a young adult’s life. I agree.

In Cat’s opinion violence is more disturbing than sex. Sex is private. Violence is more visable, nobody complains about children killing each other in the Hunger Games. A very valid point.

Influences:

The panellists were influenced by the following authors:

Laurie Halse Andersen’s  Speak.  Liz Bankes’s  Undeniable

Sarah Dessen, John Green, Stephanie Perkins, Courtney Summers

My final thoughts on I’m too sexy for this book!.

This was the most entertaining and funny of all of the talks, and makes me wonder whether I should write sexy YA? Could be fun!

Well, that’s about it folks for sex in YA. I hope I haven’t misquoted anyone. If I have made any mistakes, or omitted anything many apologies.

Disclaimer: I couldn’t hear a damn thing so don’t blame me if I got it all wrong!

Authors websites:

http://www.catclarke.com

http://authorbethreekles.tumblr.com

http://www.wattpad.com/user/Reekles

http://nonpratt.com/

Home

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing Options: