Young Adult and Childrens Fiction is absolutely amazing and I encourage readers of ALL ages to try some.
Publication Date: 26th July from Bonnier Zaffre (Hot Key Books)
Sometimes parties are not all they are cracked up to be…from a Carnegie nominated author
Hope has never been happier. She’s on her way to Crete, after a group of her friends have made her an honorary ‘lad’ and let her tag along on their boys’ holiday. There’s a slight complication in that one of those boys, Logan, is Hope’s ex-boyfriend, but they’re still friends and Hope’s pretty confident it won’t be too awkward.
The next couple of days are exactly what Hope was hoping for – lazy days in the sun, and long, drunken conversations. She can’t help but notice that Logan’s flirting with her. Logan and Hope end up alone and Hope is horrified when, after she leans in to kiss him, Logan completely rejects her.
Embarrassed and annoyed, Hope is on a mission to get drunk, and with the alcohol flowing, and the sun going down, Hope’s starts having a great time.
The next thing Hope knows, she’s being woken up on the beach by two strangers. It’s 9 o’clock the next morning and she can’t remember anything about the previous night . . . what on earth happened?
This was literally a story about friendship turned toxic, centering around one girl on holiday with a group of lads, one night where things go horribly wrong and the fractured relationships within the core group start to show.
On holiday, too much drink, too much sun, a loosening of inhibitions, all leads to disaster. Every one of them is hiding a secret from that night, whether they remember or not. Nicci Cloke dissects her characters with an authentic ironic eye and a brutal realism about human nature and how we don’t really know people until the chips are down.
Toxic is beautifully readable even as you roll your eyes at some of the enabling behaviour and the assumptions of forgiveness. The casual way they all treat each other quite often badly is actually very true to life, within any friendship group you’ll find divisions such as you find in this story.
It was a good warning against excessive intake of alcohol for sure and a very relevant theme in it’s plot – overall very good indeed. Recommended.
Publication Date: 8th Feb 2018 from Hodder Children’s books
These are the things Lux knows:
She is an artist.
She is lucky.
She is broken.
These are the things she doesn’t know:
What happened over the summer.
Why she ended up in hospital.
Why her memories are etched in red.
Desperate to uncover the truth, Lux’s time is running out. If she cannot piece together the events of the summer and regain control of her fractured mind, she will be taken away from everything and everyone she holds dear.
If her dreams don’t swallow her first.
I loved this. It was beautiful and sad but uplifting and absolutely does not go down the route you expect it to go based on the blurb – which just made it all the better.
Lux is recovering after a blackout and waking up in hospital with no memory of recent events. We join her around the time she rejoins her school and her friends – she is different, disturbed, an artist with a huge black hole threatening to swallow her, a girl who remembers the person she was but can’t seem to recapture it. Her parents worry it is too soon, her friends rally round, but Lux is both there and not there as she struggles with her inner demons.
The writing is edgy, emotive and really quite wonderful. The descriptive sense of how Lux is feeling, how she is taking this journey back to herself, is completely in the moment and real. I thought the setting was inspired – the school she attends is unconventional and allows for so much exploration of the wider themes here, it was all stunningly vibrant and really gripping.
A truly excellent look at life after trauma, some of the best parts of this come after the memory returns and we see Lux moving forward – it is, at that point, a story about how we can survive, adapt, yes even become different people altogether, when life throw us into the most horrific circumstances. How Lux reacts, how those around her do, it is all done with a delicate touch and some beautiful prose that really pulled you into that world and didn’t let go.
I adored this story from the moment I met Lux until the moment I regrettably left her behind. Contemporary Young Adult Fiction at it’s very best.
Publication Date: February 2018 from Bloomsbury Teens and YA
Every year on St Stephen’s Day, Wren Silke is chased through the forest in a warped version of a childhood game. Her pursuers are judges – a group of powerful and frightening boys who know nothing of her true identity. If they knew she was an augur – their sworn enemy – the game would be up.
This year, the tension between judges and augurs is at breaking point. Wren’s survival, and that of her family, depends on her becoming a spy in the midst of these boys she fears most and using her talent, her magic, to steal from them the only thing that can restore her family’s former power for good. But Wren’s talent comes with a price. The more she uses it, the more she loses her grip on reality and soon she’s questioning everything she’s ever known about her family, about augurs and judges, and about the dangerous tattooed stranger who most definitely is not on her side …
I loved The Wren Hunt because it was genuinely different to anything I had read before and written so beautifully that occasionally the prose practically sang an aria.
The story itself was highly immersive – beginning with a chase and developing into a deep seated mythology that was beautifully layered and highly engaging. we follow Wren as she infiltrates the enemy camp so to speak in an attempt to steal the one thing that can save her family.
The Wren Hunt is a very surreal read in a lot of ways – very modern and yet very old school in concept, it is a tale of family feuds and misconceptions, of magic and of folklore and all that is mixed up into an honestly compelling tale that will keep you hooked all the way through.
It is a difficult book to review in a lot of ways because you don’t want to spoil the heart of it but there isn’t really a genre box you can put it in – all I can say is you probably have not read anything quite like it and if you love a good story well told well you certainly get that here.
Publication Date: Available Now from Sourcebooks Fire.
One moment changed their lives forever.
A band plays, glasses clink, and four teens sneak into the Mexican desert, the hum of celebration receding behind them.
Crack. Crack. Crack.
Not fireworks―gunshots. The music stops. And Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Gladys are powerless as the lives they once knew are taken from them.
Then they are seen by the gunmen. They run. Except they have nowhere to go. The narcos responsible for their families’ murders have put out a reward for the teens’ capture. Staying in Mexico is certain death, but attempting to cross the border through an unforgiving desert may be as deadly as the secrets they are trying to escape…
The Border is a fast paced and thought provoking thriller, following 4 youngsters who having witnessed a violent tragedy go on the run through the harsh desert, facing danger at every turn.
The realities of the situation are brought to vivid and horrific life through the absorbing and immersive writing of the author – the kids are not all likable and they are not tough, although often they pretend to be and you are with them all the way in their frantic dash for freedom and their hope for a new life away from the cartels and violence of their home country.
There are some heart stopping moments here, some tear inducing emotional moments but an underlying hope for salvation – it is a fast and furious read that will stay with you after you’ve turned the final pages. The ultimate resolution leaves you thinking, it certainly puts a new face on certain aspects of our society.
The Border is entertaining but it is also authentic and hits you hard with realism – I read it in two breathless sittings and have no problem at all recommending it.
You can purchase The Border HERE
Publication Date: 24th August from Hodder and Staughton
In an idyllic community of wealthy California families, new teacher Molly Nicoll becomes intrigued by the hidden lives of her privileged students. Unknown to Molly, a middle school tragedy in which they were all complicit continues to reverberate for her kids: Nick, the brilliant scam artist; Emma, the gifted dancer and party girl; Dave, the B student who strives to meet his parents’ expectations; Calista, the hippie outcast who hides her intelligence for reasons of her own. Theirs is a world in which every action may become public: postable, shareable, indelible.
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth is, apparently, high school. Well yes I can get behind that notion and in this novel, Lindsey Lee Johnson takes a snapshot view of one class of kids making their way through and the teachers that inform and shape them. Or not. Because the other thing is, teaching as as a vocation can be easily drowned out by realities.
The book starts with an emotive event that then tracks and follows the characters through their coming of age. We see various people at various points including Molly, the new and still naive teacher, various students including the clever guy who hides his intelligence, the girl who reinvents herself after the initial happening and others – the group dynamics changing and evolving over the course of the tale until they all find a balance, of sorts, after another hugely impacting event.
The writing is coolly immersive, the author digs into the heads of her characters, creating a cleverly addictive narrative that flows out end to end – that balance that we end up with is precarious at best – happy endings, the soul food of a comfortable read are not promised nor in all cases delivered, the reader can speculate on where these characters ultimately end up.
For a debut this is impressive – a little rough around the edges but cleverly done – with that in mind my rating is reflective and I really look forward to what this author brings us next.
You can purchase The Most Dangerous Place on Earth HERE
Publication Date: 4th May 2017 from HQ
Dragon hatchling Ember Hill was never prepared to find love at all–dragons do not suffer human emotions–let alone the love of a human and a former dragonslayer, at that. With ex-soldier Garret dying at her feet after sacrificing his freedom and his life to expose the deepest of betrayals, Ember knows only that nothing she was taught by dragon organization Talon is true. About humans, about rogue dragons, about herself and what she’s capable of doing and feeling.
In the face of great loss, Ember vows to stand with rogue dragon Riley against the dragon-slaying Order of St. George and her own twin brother Dante–the heir apparent to all of Talon, and the boy who will soon unleash the greatest threat and terror dragonkind has ever known.
Gosh I thoroughly enjoyed that one. I enjoyed it so much I just said gosh. Blimey!
I’ve been following this series from the start and it has just gotten better and better with every book – I’m kind of quite sad that book 5 will be the finale I believe because I’ve been so engaged with Ember and Riley and all the rest, in a world where Dragons live among us disguised as humans and a war rages between Talon (the dragon hierarchy and a shadowy group if ever there was one) and St George (of the Dragon, obviously, and not exactly pure of heart themselves)
Julie Kagawa has built a beautifully layered world into the Talon series, with some memorable characters and manages to give you an adrenalin hit and an emotional tug on the heartstrings every time. The more you fall in love with the characters the harder she hits you – throwing everything and the kitchen sink at them and keeping you on the edge of your seat. After the cliffhanger of the previous book (and if you are looking for salvation in this review sorry you’ll have to wait and read to see how that pans out) I was ready for high drama and got exactly that. As Talon’s dastardly plans start to come into the light and Ember faces her brother head on, don’t expect a walk in the park, you are going to be on the rollercoaster.
I have a love/hate relationship with Dante, a love/love relationship with Riley and stagger between adoring Ember and wanting to slap her – its great when a fantasy story can really immerse you into it to the level that you believe it all while you are there – I genuinely feel that perhaps Dragons are a thing for at least a few hours after finishing these.
Overall a really terrific addition to the Talon saga – and after the end of THIS book I am genuinely on tenterhooks waiting for the finale – will the good guys win out in the end? Who exactly ARE the good guys? Brilliant. Total utter escapism and all beautifully written and plotted.
Bring it on!
Highly Recommended as a series especially for fans of YA fantasy.
Not read this series yet? Start here with TALON.
Publication Date: 4th May from Quercus Children’s Books
Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Brodick Academy. But she can’t escape guilt of her twin sister’s Izzy’s death, and her own part in it.
But new girl Kirsty seems to understand Harper. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels…loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Izzy died.
Then Kirsty’s behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper’s? And why is she so obsessed with Harper’s dead sister?
A darkly compulsive story about love, death, and growing up under the shadow of grief.
Now it has to be said I’m a bit of a sucker for school/college/university type stories, that dig deep into friendship dynamics, Cat Clarke has written a page turner here that also happens to have a dark heart and a strong emotive tone. Looking not only at themes of grief, female friendship and sexuality, it also has a realistic edge to it that is highly compelling.
I’m not sure I’d call it a thriller – the relationships between the girls who have been a tight knit group for a long time, when faced with an incomer are at the heart of this, especially in the case of Harper who has suffered a loss her friends cannot even comprehend. The shock to their close relationship when she finds someone who may well understand her better is brilliantly done and keeps you just turning those pages.
There are thriller elements – Kirsty is an oddball for sure and her motivations are murky and coming to the truth provides the little twists here, but ultimately I felt this story was more about coming to terms, reassessing life as you grow up and how this both pushes you closer to those you love and pulls you apart. The ultimate resolution to Girlhood was emotional and heart warming yet melancholy and considered. Which I thought was pretty perfect.
I’d definitely recommend this – I’ll have to track down more from Cat Clarke.
You can Purchase Girlhood HERE
Publication Date: 4th May 2017 from Electric Monkey (Egmont Publishing)
Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone. But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change…
This was a really terrific read that encompassed many things – but the best thing about it was Jemma who’s character voice shone through the entirety of the story and kept you on her side from the very opening pages.
So she has cerebral palsy – she cannot communicate but has an active and intelligent brain, misses nothing going on around her and is also somewhat of a deep thinker. Living in a family of fostered children, all with their own issues, one day somebody tells her a secret. A murderer. Thinking it safe to toy with Jemma, to scare her, they don’t realise that she may soon be able to tell..
This was a clever story because it plays with the emotions, shows very clearly what life is like for Jemma but manages not to be saccharine or overly sentimental. Then you have a murder, various snapshots of life within the household and a fairly fascinating study of the new and innovative possibilities opening up for people with disabilities.
It is a compelling and utterly gripping story that is fast and effective, I loved Jemma, I loved all the family even the rather difficult Olivia and you just get absorbed into their lives and their ups and downs, it is almost like living with them for a while. The crime elements are layered into the character drama and its damned addictive I can tell you!
With a strong, engaging and intuitive character voice, I Have No Secrets is a top notch young adult novel that will appeal to all ages.
You can purchase I Have No Secrets HERE
Publication Date: Available Now from Plumshine Books
Beth forgot her past. What if there’s nothing to remember?
Seventeen-year-old Beth has brain damage. That’s why she lives in a hospital in the middle of the English countryside filled with therapeutic music and medical tests. Some days she feels well enough to go home, but other days – the days filled with shadows and ghosts, and a strong sense of déjà vu – she fears she’ll never get better.
Toby’s arrival signals a turning point. Beth faces her fears instead of hiding from them. But even with Toby’s help, is she strong enough to face a truth that is stranger than anything Beth could imagine?
Discord was a fast and fun read, very clever, starting out as one thing and ending as quite another, I found it completely engaging as an adult who enjoys Young Adult novels.
The group dynamic between the kids in the hospital and the musical themes running throughout the narrative were huge strengths of this one, I can imagine the target audience especially enjoying it (as did I)
I do love when authors mess with genre types and mash it all up a bit and that was the case with Discord, its finale was cleverly placed and I’m definitely going to read the next in the series – you can’t leave it there! I even liked my least liked thread in novels the romantic one – but Katy Haye also speaks to love in different forms.
A tale of friendship under the most odd and disturbing circumstances, Discord is a rather lovely read with added bite when it comes to the ultimate (part) resolution.
Recommended for 14+ years and for the young at heart.
You can purchase Discord HERE
Publication Date: 26th January 2016 from Quercus Childrens
Samantha McCoy has it all mapped out. First she’s going to win the national debating championship, then she’s going to move to New York and become a human rights lawyer.
But when Sam discovers that a rare disease is going to take away her memory, the future she’d planned so perfectly is derailed before its started.
Realising that her life won’t wait to be lived, Sam sets out on a summer of firsts.
The first party.
The first rebellion.
The first friendship.
The last love.
I loved this. It was kind of beautiful. And heart wrenching. But beautifully heart wrenching.
This is the second book I’ve read this month that focuses on a young adult with memory issues – both of which were emotionally traumatic but wonderful – in the case of The Memory Book we are reading Sam’s journal – with random inserts from those around her – as she comes to terms with the fact that she has a disease that is terminal. Not only that, she will lose herself. Suddenly the life she had mapped out is like so much smoke, I mean what do you do with that? Well Sam writes to her future self. And it is gorgeous and horrific and ultimately uplifting.
Lara Avery basically allows her protagonist to go through all the well known stages of grief but manages to make it both heart warming and funny, at times turning me into a bit of an emotional wreck at others making me literally laugh out loud. Sammie’s firsts will also be her lasts, I wonder if there is a kind of freedom in that, much as you would not want it that way. The story unfolding will tug on ye olde heartstrings and leave you fairly melancholy but strangely motivated. To live life.
The Memory Book is a love story and a life story and a death story and a story about believing you can overcome even when the odds are incredibly stacked against you. So we are back to I loved it.
You can purchase The Memory Book HERE
Publication Date: Available Now from Skyscape
The fate of humanity hangs in the balance as Aidan faces a crushing choice: give in to the demands of the forces of Darkness in order to save his sister, Ava, or fight on the side of good and risk losing her forever. With so much at stake and so little time, Aidan embarks on a mission to finish assembling a team of “Lights,” other teens whose special abilities are linked to his own.
I’ve loved the Dark Cycle series. Because I love a bit of magical mayhem with a demonic mix of wit and witchery. Phew.
So Darkness Savage is part 3 – the ending maybe, I don’t know but certainly it ties up an awful lot of stuff regarding Aiden and his sister, Rebecca and her struggle and all the highly addictive and intriguing plot elements Rachel Marks has brought to us in books one and two. Again it is fast moving, exciting, sometimes contemplative and the character arcs are as compelling as ever.
I like the world that has been built here, it is YA Urban Fantasy with a top notch descriptive sense that puts you right into the moment and some bang on characters to love and hate. Add to that an excellent nuanced plot that is written beautifully to be highly engaging and you have a winner.
Multiple viewpoints which work well, the mythology is solid and fascinating and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every moment. I’m sure there are more stories to tell within this universe. I hope they come along soon.
You can purchase Darkness Savage HERE
Publication Date: Available Now from Harlequin UK
Source: Review Copy
Death should never meet the young. But it did. Thanks to my brother, death made fourteen new friends that day. Maybe even fifteen, if you count Charlie.
At sixteen, Sam Macmillan is supposed to be thinking about girls, homework and his upcoming application to music college, not picking up the pieces after the school shooting that his brother Charlie committed.
Yet as Sam desperately tries to hang on to the memories he has of his brother, the media storm surrounding their family threatens to destroy everything. And Sam has to question all he thought he knew about life, death, right and wrong.
Blimey Dear Charlie was a heck of an emotional read. Seriously. Chocolate required – I give you fair warning.
The utter horror that encompasses a school shooting has been fictionalised a fair bit, Dear Charlie though I found gave it a particular resonance. Focusing as it did not on the shooters, or the mother of, or the victims families but on the sibling left behind who is supposed to what? Hate his brother now? Call him a monster? Sam is facing that having lost so much and through his writings to Charlie we feel every moment.
Sam faces himself as much as he does Charlie within the narrative, a new school, a new attempt to make friends in an atmosphere that finds him vilified and lashed out at for the most part. A bunch of misfit students might be his starting point but the press hover, his parents are falling apart and there is no easy road back from this tragedy.
It is utterly gripping considering this is not a thriller, I was completely involved immediately with Sams struggle to understand, to come to some acceptance. The writing is beautifully done and the layers of grief that you find are heartbreaking. A media storm is one thing but an internal storm is quite another, Sam has both and then some.
Completely believable, occasionally beautiful, always compelling, Dear Charlie will stay with you for a long time after reading it. Batten down the hatches and read this – it will touch your soul.
You can Purchase Dear Charlie HERE
Publication Date: 6th October 2016 from Penguin
Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed ‘America’s Fattest Teen’. But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to see who she really is. Since her mum’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER.
I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.
Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his own brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone. Until he meets Libby.
When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game which lands them in group counseling, Libby and Jack are both angry, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world – theirs and yours.
All the Bright Places was one of my favourite books of last year and I think Ms Niven would have had to go some to beat that -Holding up the Universe is an entirely different proposition in some ways but does once again explore (really well) the teenage condition, focusing on those things that can make us different (or at least feel different) to the rest of the “crowd”
Whilst ATBP explored mental illness to an extremely nuanced degree, this book is more love story than anything else but works extraordinarily well in that respect. As Jack (who suffers from face blindness a fact that he keeps secret from even those closest to him) and Libby (who suffered extreme weight issues after her mother died) come together and begin to know each other and themselves it is kind of beautiful and very compelling.
I enjoyed it – it did not emotionally traumatise me or leave me bereft like this authors previous book but Holding Up the Universe is a gorgeous read if you just let it be what it is. Jennifer Niven has an insightful and excellent eye for the little things that make up a whole person. Neither Jack nor Libby are any one thing, their definitition does not come simply from what they suffer. Ms Niven is so good with feelings – making you feel what the characters feel – one of the strongest attributes of the story here.
One thing it did was confirm for me that I’m always going to read what this author writes. As a fan of Young Adult novels, the ones with something real to say, I just know I’m always going to take good things from her particular way of doing things.
You can purchase Holding up the Universe HERE
Publication Date: 22nd September from Bonnier Publishing/Hot Key Books.
Should she live or die? You decide
An adored celebrity has been killed. Sixteen-year-old Martha Honeydew was found holding a gun, standing over the body.
Now Justice must prevail.
The general public will decide whether Martha is innocent or guilty by viewing daily episodes of the hugely popular TV show Death is Justice, the only TV show that gives the power of life and death decisions – all for the price of a phone call.
Martha has admitted to the crime. But is she guilty? Or is reality sometimes more complicated than the images we are shown on TV?
Cell 7 had a highly intriguing premise which promised to invoke a lot of debate – in a world where justice is meted out in X-Factor/Big Brother fashion with phone votes deciding the fate of the accused, it seemed like something not entirely unlikely (hey our world is going slightly mad) and quite fascinating.
It worked on a lot of levels and not so much on others. It is a young adult story, with the teenage Martha Honeydew on centre stage as she goes through the 7 days it takes the public to decide her fate. Kerry Drewery uses multiple viewpoints and a descriptive reality tv show to tell the tale, throwing in a lot of social commentary within the narrative whilst also providing a decent mystery element as well. Is Martha guilty or innocent? And even if she is guilty is this justice?
I liked that vibe – it was thought provoking and interesting. I warmed to Martha as a character, she was accepting of her fate and hoping it might change things.
However I found the Reality show portions of the story made me lose concentration. A little bit unfocused and not terribly well flowing, they created a kind of break in cohesion and took me a little while to get used to. That however is my only real negative.
The story is sound and as I said a great premise, I enjoyed it very much and am most definitely looking forward to the next one considering the ending of this. If the “X-Factor/Big Brother vibe” could be toned down just little I think these will become extraordinarily addictive – interested to see where this is going.
You can purchase Cell 7 HERE.
Publicaton Date: 16th August from Harlequin (UK) Limited
ONE SPARK WILL RISE. Nina Kane was born to be an exorcist. And since uncovering the horrifying truth—that the war against demons is far from over—seventeen-year-old Nina and her pregnant younger sister, Mellie, have been on the run, incinerating the remains of the demon horde as they go.
In the badlands, Nina, Mellie, and Finn, the fugitive and rogue exorcist who saved her life, find allies in a group of freedom fighters. They also face a new threat.
(Note: This is book 2 in a series: The Stars Never Rise is book 1 and is best read first)
Loving this series. The first one was brilliantly addictive and The Flame Never Dies was even better with lots of lovely little twists and turns, the characters becoming more focused and then that Rachel Vincent put ANOTHER damned fine ending onto things which means I’m going to NEED the next book with the kind of book need every real reader can relate to.
So in this instalment our gang are out in the badlands, away from the Church but in no less danger for that. Her sister Mellie’s baby will die without a soul and Nina has plans to ensure that does not happen even if it means sacrificing herself – but there are other devious plots afoot from a completely separate set of supernatural demonic forces and Nina and the others will end up having to make impossible choices.
I love the premise for this, which the above soundbite kind of covers but I’ll leave you to discover the detail for yourself – if you love a good urban fantasy/supernatural YA series (which by gosh I do) then you most definitely should NOT miss this one. Its like Buffy with exorcists instead of slayers. Very cool concept executed in dramatically addictive style.
Great writing, great story, great characters. You can’t ask for more than that really. Fast paced but with plenty of emotional depth “The Flame Never Dies” showed no signs of suffering from book 2 syndrome, if anything it just upped the ante and well, no pressure Ms Vincent but I can’t wait to see what you do next. Oh and nobody is safe by the way. This author is not afraid to kill her darlings and that just makes it all the more terrifyingly beautifully unpredictable. I’m a fan.
You can purchase The Flame Never Dies HERE
Publication Date: Available Now from Harper Collins Childrens
They’ll get inside your head…
Imagine if you could see inside the minds of everyone around you – your best friend, your boyfriend, your enemies…?
Imagine how valuable you’d be…
Imagine how much danger you’d be in…
Imagine being an Outlier.
It all starts with a text:
Please Wylie, I need your help.
Wylie hasn’t heard from her one time best friend, Cassie, in over a week. Not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, and it’s up to Wylie to do what she does best, save her best friend from herself.
Really enjoyed The Outliers. Its one of those fast, addictive reads that you just go along for the ride with, yes it has its issues (the main protagonist suddenly finding a way to get over her agrophobia being the main one so if you can gloss over that a bit you are good to go) but if you are looking for a pretty good story with some pretty good characters that will kill an afternoon you’ll love this. Perfect comfort reading.
I read it fast – one of those that gripped me – starting off as a sort of a road trip to the rescue and ending up somewhere else entirely it was an imaginative story with a classically cliff hanger ending to make you want more. I will definitely keep reading this series to see what happens next.
This was very much a part one. Kimberly McCreight takes her time setting things up, allows you to get to know the two main characters as they travel the highways in search of their missing friend who appears to be in danger. The whole of the book has a speculative feel, both thriller and a touch of scifi/fantasy – all in all it was a good deal of fun
You can purchase The Outliers HERE
Publication Date: 7th June from HMH books for young readers
Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.
I read With Malice fast – one of those immediately gripping young adult novels focused on female friendship gone wrong it is a proper page turner with plenty of insight, cleverly constructed obfuscation and a highly engaging plot.
Whilst the story premise itself is not exactly new I loved how Eileen Cook put this one together. It is set mostly in one place, the hospital, as Jill struggles with memory loss and wonders just what went wrong while she and best friend Simone were travelling in Italy. By interjecting the odd police statement and media discussion a picture slowly builds of a crack in a long term relationship and the possibility of foul play – the lack of actual flashback works extremely well – everything in the here and now. We discover as Jill discovers and the play on how social media and 24/7 news can influence public opinion and also turn on a dime is fascinatingly realistic.
I won’t say too much, With Malice is cleverly written to allow the reader to make assumptions, the ending was perfectly placed and rounded things off beautifully. This is one of those books where you want to talk about it afterwards with other readers to see how their opinions might differ to yours on certain nuances – the writing is simple and masterful, Jill quite openly being an unreliable narrator is another thing that serves the narrative really well.
Overall a great read for fans of psychological thrillers whatever their age. Recommended.
You can purchase With Malice HERE
Publication Date: 5th May from Harper Collins Childrens
As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.
When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.
Really enjoyed this origins story based on the Alice in Wonderland tale – giving a focus to how the Queen of Hearts becomes what she is – basically, its Daddy issues!
This was very entertaining with a lot of nods to the original in the character descriptions and plot but with a great energy and interesting concept shift. Very much a “part one” I feel like the story only just got going by the end but the fun I had with how the author constructed things made this a great little read.
I’m definitely up for another game of croquet! This is very much a fun read, a book to while away a sunny afternoon and possibly go down the rabbit hole. Looking forward to seeing how things develop. Bring on book two.
You can purchase Queen of Hearts HERE
Publication Date: 5th May 2016 from Harlequin (UK) Ltd
A fighter dedicated to saving humankind from dragons in strictest secrecy.
That was what Garret Xavier Sebastian thought he was part of as a soldier of the Order of St. George. What he learned from a fiery dragon hatchling twisted all he believed in and set him on a collision course with certain death-but not without a chance to put things right.
Betrayed and on the run again, Ember and rogue dragon Riley discover an unthinkable truth about Talon and St. George. They’ll need Garret’s skills and insider knowledge of the Order to negotiate an impossible deal-and if they fail, there will be no way to stop all-out war.
Here there be Dragons.
I’m loving the Talon saga – at the end of this one I was SO glad that rather than a trilogy, so this would now be over, we have at least two more books to look forward to. Bring it on!
I’ll try and write this review with no real spoilers for any of the books – if you are a lover of YA Fantasy/Urban Fantasy these will almost definitely be for you. The basic premise – Dragons live among us in human form, the order of St George are out to destroy all dragon kind, their opposite number is Talon, well you can imagine what they want to do. Ember is caught between two worlds when she falls for a St George operative but neither of these two groups are entirely noble.
So there is the scene set for you – once you start its a bit of a rollercoaster book ride, some (non annoying) romance, lots of action and adventure, Julie Kagawa also explores some thought provoking themes within the narrative, for me all the books so far have been rip roaring good. Literally roaring in parts, fire breathing goodness.
I’m loving the character development, Ember is growing up with the books, put in some untenable situations, you are with her all the way. I’m fonder than I probably should be of brother Dante, more than a little in love with Riley and still making my mind up on Garrett. Hmm.
The plot is banging – lots of twists and turns, lots of changing loyalties and secrets uncovered – in “Soldier” the author takes it up a notch and sends us off on a glorious tangent, expanding the mythology beautifully and really putting the reader through the wringer. ESPECIALLY with the ending. How am I supposed to wait now?
Yep love these. Highly Recommended.
You can buy the Talon saga HERE
Publication Date: Available Now from Usborne
Source: Purchased copy
Welcome to a ‘perfect’ world.
Where war is illegal, where harmony rules.
And where your date of birth marks your destiny.
But nothing is perfect.
And in a world this broken, who can Amity trust?
I’m a fan of the “Angel” series of which I am on book 2 but when I saw this in the bookshop during my latest browsing session I had to pick it up. The cover on its own was enough even if the story had not sounded so excellent.
This the first book in the “Broken” series has a very different vibe to the other – and is a highly imaginative take on the world with some great characters and an intriguing developing mythology. The author has managed to get a beautiful “Noir” feel to the narrative, in some places almost like an old school detective novel despite the dystopian storyline and young adult focus.
The idea of our star chart literally controlling our destiny under the watchful eye of an often charismatic dictator, the story follows Amity Vancour, peacefighter in a country not yet under this rule of thumb, as she watches things fall apart around her and uncovers a deadly conspiracy. On the other side of the fence is Kay, astrologer, desperate to survive in a country where being discordant is a crime – she will do whatever it takes to climb the ladder and remain close to the man who holds the fate of many in his hands.
Some genius plotting and genuinely surprising twists and turns make this an intensely enjoyable read throughout, you are never quite sure what is going to happen and the question “Who should Amity trust” is played on really well. The dual structure is brilliant as events unfold and you watch the actions of one girl impacting on the other, with neither of them aware, sometimes you are holding your breath to see where the road will lead..
The ending is killer and absolutely guarantees that I will be sitting on my doorstep waiting for the postman to deliver book 2 when it comes out later this year – but this would probably have been true even without that, this is beautifully written and a damn good story to boot. Therefore it comes highly recommended from me.
You can purchase “Broken Skies” HERE
Publication Date: Available now from Corgi Childrens
Source: Gifted copy.
If I hadn’t walked into the room at that moment, maybe everything would have worked out differently. Maybe everything would have been all right after all . . .’
Port Sentinel may be a beautiful seaside tourist trap, but in the short time Jess Tennant has lived there, it has seen its fair share of tragedy. Tragedy that somehow Jess keeps getting caught up in.
A schoolgirl from the town goes missing, leaving her diary behind and a lot of unanswered questions. Has she run away from her unhappy home or is there something much more sinister going on? And can Jess find her before it’s too late?
The third in the Jess Tennant series, another favourite of mine (Its that Jane Casey and her hugely credible and loveable characters) and this finds Jess once more caught up in the undercurrents of the town in which she lives and getting more involved than she should be. She’s tenacious that one. A Nancy Drew for the modern times..
As an adult reading these I always get more emotionally entangled with the adult relationships within – which are given just as much gravitas – and like Derwent in the Maeve Kerrigan series I find myself mostly wanting to read about Dan – a man after my own heart. Yes ok I like the slightly dangerous ones.
The thing about these though is that they are great crime novels. Aimed at the young adult audience but tackling a whole plethora of grown up issues, you always find a banging intriguing mystery alongside general teenage angsting plus a plethora of fascinating interpersonal relationships that ebb and flow like the tides of Port Sentinal. (Note – I’m on team Ryan)
Moving along then to actual important stuff like are these novels good – YES they are blinking brilliant. Highly readable, funny, full of heart and spot on page turning material.
You can purchase Hide and Seek HERE
Publication Date April 7th From Bloomsbury Childrens.
Vivi and Jonah couldn’t be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi’s zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there’s something important Vivi hasn’t told him.
I’ve read this one a little early as for some reason I had it down as being published earlier, however read it I have so I’ve put some thoughts here and will talk about it again at actual publication.
The Young Adult market is one I have been increasingly turning to when I want to have my emotions messed with during a read, there are some really terrific and moving novels out there that focus on the teenage condition – which in storytelling as in real life is one of the most vivid and colourful times of our lives.
When We Collided is a shining example of why I read in this genre – beautifully written, unforgettable characters and a narrative that speaks to deeper things than young people simply “falling in love” I was immediately taken by Jonah and Vivi, within a few pages I was deeply immersed in their world and rattling through the read….
Like “All the Bright Places” and other novels I have read in the last year or so, When We Collided looks at issues of mental illness within a wider highly engaging story – Emery Lord has written an original and extremely authentic story that will engage your emotional core and often hit right where it hurts whilst offering a lot of love and hope to both her characters and the reader. There are many layers here to discover and like any good read you get there alongside those within the pages.
I have no hesitation in highly recommending this one – and I will be talking about it in more detail when publication date rolls around – for now though you might definitely want to consider adding this to your 2016 wishlist. One to watch.
You can order “When we Collided” HERE
Publication Date: 1st March from AW Teen
Kadence Mulligan’s star was rising. She and her best friend, Lauren DeSanto, watched their songs go viral on YouTube, then she launched a solo career when a nasty throat infection paralyzed Lauren’s vocal chords. Everyone knows Lauren and Kadence had a major falling-out over Kady’s boyfriend. But Lauren knows how deceptive Kadence could be sometimes. And nobody believes Lauren when she claims she had nothing to do with the disappearance. Or the blood evidence As the town and local media condemns Lauren, she realizes the only way to clear her name is to discover the truth herself. Lauren slowly unravels the twisted life of Kadence Mulligan and sees that there was more to her than she ever knew.
Girl Last Seen is a fast read, highly engaging and a page turner, one of the better of the plethora of “girl” books there are around that follow a similar theme – in this case because it had its own peculiar rythym which may be a lot to do with the music vibe running through the narrative.
A You Tube Sensation leads to reality show “stardom” and then inevitably to two friends being ripped apart, both having differing attitudes and ambitions. That is it in a nutshell, with a mystery thrown in for good measure when one of the two girls concerned disappears.
Multiple viewpoints tell the tale – as Lauren loses her voice and possibly her singing future and discovers her partner in music Kady may not be quite the friend she has seemed over the years. Cue Kady disappearing and Lauren left under suspicion. The story twists and turns its way to an intriguing solution and overall I enjoyed this very much indeed.
There are some good characters in this – the changing dynamics in the relationships are well drawn and the mystery element is well written and not glaringly obvious which I like. Several themes are in the mix here – family pressure, peer pressure and the difficulties of being in the public eye and therefore expected of.
It leads to a quick engaging read that I would recommend to anyone who loves this type of mystery come drama. Grip Lit I think is the new term because of course we NEED a new term now, in this case YA Grip Lit and a good version at that.
You can purchase Girl Last Seen HERE
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Feb 2nd 2016 from Amazon Publishing/Skyscape
Against the backdrop of an ancient battle between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness, Aidan struggles to control the newly awakened powers that seem to be his only hope for rescuing Ava, his little sister, trapped somewhere beyond the Veil. As he gravitates to Kara, the dangerously unstable girl who helped him realize his abilities, a terrible mistake of fate is revealed that points him back toward Rebecca, whose role is becoming more critical to the battle. And no matter what his heart wants, it might be too late to stop the pieces already in motion.
Without knowing the sacrifices that will be required of them, Aidan and his motley crew of friends—each with their own role to play—must face the demon threat head-on. They’re the only ones keeping the growing army of Darkness at bay, and if they fail, the future of humanity could be lost.
I loved “Darkness Brutal” the first book in this series and “Darkness Fair” was a rollicking read, engaging, fast, often furious, lots of action, a fair bit of ironic humour and a dose of rather twisted romance.
I like my YA Urban Fantasy to have a bit of grit and Rachel Marks adds plenty of grit to her narrative, following Aiden as his power develops, he begins to learn a little more about his background and parentage and continues on in his struggle to save his Sister from her dark destiny.
There is a great mythology sitting firmly behind all the action and angst – built up more here, in Darkness Brutal we got a feel for how things were, in Darkness Fair questions are answered whilst yet more arise and it really is highly addictive and very cleverly done. A proper page turner with a ending that had me gritting my teeth as I realised I’d have to wait for more, this is how to do it if you want a reader to stick with you until the end…
Not sure if this will be a trilogy or if the intention is to go on past the next novel – but whatever happens I’ll be right there. I simply must find out how it all pans out for Aiden, Ava and the rest, the author has built a fantastic group dynamic, given us a likeable hero who you’d often like to kick up the butt and set them in a world where the darkness is hidden just below the surface and bubbles there furiously as you watch our protagonists attempt to save the world. And themselves. Its really great.
In my head I can imagine this as an ongoing tv show – a “Buffy”type vibe for the new generation, certainly the emotional threads running through this would work on that level and the story itself as it unfolds would be beautiful on screen.
Overall a terrific book 2. Roll on book 3. Tomorrow would be good…
Happy Reading Folks!
You can purchase the “Dark Cycle” series here:
Publication Date: Available Now from Bloomsbury Childrens
Source: Purchased Copy
Crowned by Evil.
Bound by Duty.
Divided by Love.
Celaena Sardothien, royal assassin, is the King of Adarlan’s deadliest weapon. She must win her freedom through his enemies’ blood – but she cannot bear to kill for the crown. And every death Celaena fakes, every lie she tells, put those she loves at risk.
Torn between her two protectors – a captain and a prince – and battling a dark force far greater than the king, Celaena must decide what she will fight for: her liberty, her heart or the fate of a kingdom…
Ye Gods but these are good. Book 2 has taken me a while, I’ve been eeking it out knowing I only have 2 more to go before I have to WAIT and I am not a patient person.
Following on from Throne of Glass, in this instalment Caelena is pretending allegiance to the King within her role as Kings Assassin but behind the scenes tells a very different story. I can’t give things away about this one not even little things. Honestly just read them.
Sarah J Maas writes so vividly, in that way that some writers have that can just make you see it in your head – some of the scenes in Crown of Midnight are so visceral that they really get the blood up. The mythology being developed is fascinating and beautifully magical, with twists and turns and the many oh gosh moments that make a read intensely satisfying and pretty much ensure that you will be grabbing the next book immediately (which I am most definitely going to do)
Stunning writing, stunning imagination and incredibly top notch storytelling – Highly Recommended.
You can purchase Crown of Midnight here
Publication Date; Available Now from Kensington.
Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.
Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.
The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers.
Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden.
Thicker than Water is a great YA mystery tale of the kind I love. Also it has the added benefit of being a novel that ended up completely surprising me. As this does not really happen that often I say YAY.
Thomas moved recently to a new town with his mother – one morning he discovers her dead, murdered. The prime suspect, he is viewed with caution by the whole community and Thomas is not exactly even tempered so he’s about to have a pretty hard time. However, help comes in the form of Charlotte, who believes he is innocent and helps him set out to prove it.
This is my first novel from this author – and as the end hints that there may be more to come of this story it certainly won’t be the last – It has a great flow to the storytelling and a lovely atmospheric touch. One of those books that with hindsight you realise you should have known the solution all along, or at least had a good idea, it is cleverly constructed and highly addictive.
Great characters also, I loved Thomas and Charlotte and the dynamic that developed between them. Her brothers were endlessly annoying in their attitude towards Thomas, convinced as they were by his guilt – there are some great interactions and some thrills and spills. As I said above as well, there were some pleasingly surprising moments that just made me smile and think to myself “clever very clever”.
Overall then a great read. I hope there IS more to this story. Time I guess will tell.
You can purchase Thicker than Water here
Follow Brigid Kemmerer on Twitter here
Publication Date: Available Now from Entangled Teen
Source: Hardback:Purchased copy
“They say you could know a psychopath your whole life and not realise it. Not all of them were killers or even criminals. Some ran companies, some were politicians, some were even Doctors and cops.
The one thing they all had in common was their lack of empathy. They didn’t let emotions make their decisions. But they were pretty good at faking it, making us think they were someone else.
I’d like to think I’d know the difference.
But I was wrong…”
I bought a copy of The Foxglove Killings off the back of a Goodreads recommendation and am so glad I did – not only is it a beautiful little hardback that will look good in the collection but it had a great story well told.
Nova lives in a small town year round – tourists invade in season – the summer kids or “cakes” as they are locally known have always had a fairly confrontational relationship with the residents – but when one of them goes missing and is later found murdered, Nova wonders just what exactly does she know about the people around her. Especially as the prime suspect appears to be her best friend Alex..
This was a great murder mystery – Tara Kelly has done some good old fashioned storytelling here and wrapped it up in a contemporary modern setting. Capturing the feel of small town life perfectly, the story twists and turns its way to an edge of the seat conclusion – and gives you everything you want in this kind of tale. Suspects galore, great depth to the characters and an inclination to scratch your head as you think you have worked it out, then change your mind, then change it back again and almost end up suspecting yourself. So in that sense its really great.
There is more to it though which is what I like to find in a good YA novel – the author explores the themes of friendships and trust with an insightful eye – looking at how relationships with those closest to us can change as we get older especially during those formative teenage years. I loved the dynamic between Nova and Alex – and the wider relationships she has with her family are well drawn and fascinating. As a character drama on top of a whodunnit it is excellent.
Jenika was probably my favourite character. Edgy, feisty, not taking any erm, rubbish, from anyone she is at times incredibly dislikeable but given her circumstances completely believable – but then on the character side they all have that certain something that gets you involved in their world and rooting for them (or wishing they would fall off a cliff) all the way through.
And hey, I did NOT guess the outcome. Nope I had no IDEA who it was that was hiding a darker side to themselves. Came as a complete surprise to me, Tara Kelly weaves an intelligent and intricate plot that hides nothing yet hides everything. Nicely done.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 3rd Nov from HMH books for young readers.
“No one gets something for nothing. We all should know better.”
Teenagers at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises.
Really enjoyed this new novel from Joelle Charbonneau (Whose third book in the Testing trilogy I still need to read – those are great) A bit of a departure from her previous dystopian story and a thrilling and addictive reading ride.
When a new social media website pops up, simply aimed at the students of one specific school, everyone of course jumps on board. But this site is something different – fulfilling the “needs” of students in return for seemingly simple tasks – but all hell is about to break loose.
I read this in a day – and it is mostly excellent although I did have a few minor issues with it. On the plus side, its a great story well told, with some great characters (Kaylee particularly I was very on board with, she has a greater depth perhaps than the others and a terrifically done back story) It pops along at a frantic rate, keeping you turning the pages and desperate to know what will happen. Good stuff indeed.
On the downside there are occasionally just too many characters all vying for your attention. Kaylee tells us her story and interspersed with that, we read about other students and what they are up to. Whilst this serves to give the story a wider viewpoint, it can get confusing especially when a lot of people are all doing things in the same timeline. I’m not sure if it would not have been better to streamline this slightly although to be fair, it does even out over the course of the novel and as you get to grips with the personalities.
The other downside is a bit of predictability – whilst the students, their actions and responses are really cleverly interpreted and involving, a stark look at human nature – the “bad guy” is fairly obvious, or was to me at least, so the ultimate reveal was no surprise.
That said, I loved the concept and it was executed well especially when it came to the pure selfishness that teenagers can exhibit. Asking the question “what do you NEED” as opposed to “What do you WANT” elicited many responses from the students and was integrated well into the story and allowed the author to play with the twists and turns in a way that made it all very exciting.
Definitely recommended despite the slight flaws, it having been left open in a small way for more – I’d love to see the author revisit the “need” website and give us a different perspective – this story being complete, with the readers knowledge of what happened in Wisconsin, the path is there to expand the mythology. I can’t say more without spoiling it but once you have read it (and if YA Thrillers are your thing you definitely should) you’ll know what I mean.
Publication Date: 14th January 2016 from Orchard Books
How is it that you suddenly notice a person? How is it that one day Digby was my best friend’s admittedly cute twin brother, and then the next he stole air, gave jitters, twisted my insides up?
Lucille has bigger problems than falling for her best friend’s unavailable brother. Her mom has gone, leaving her to look after her sister, Wren. With bills mounting up and appearances to keep, Lucille is raging against her life but holding it together – just.
I picked up “This Raging Light” early yesterday morning and read half of it in one big gorgeous gulp, had to go to work, cursing all the way because I had to put the book down, then came back and read the other half of it, glaring fiercely at anyone who attempted to interrupt me. It was very very good.
Lucille is living on the edge of reason – her father is gone, her mother too – left in charge of her younger sister, not daring to reach out for help lest they are parted, she is also battling her ever growing feelings for Digby and wondering what happened to her actual life.
Filled with emotionally resonant characters and telling the tale of one girl and her headlong forced entry into adulthood, I was immersed all the way as Lucille stumbles her way through enforced parenthood, falls in love and finds hope and aid in unexpected ways. It speaks to both the inherent selfishness and the opposite inherent kindness that human nature gives us and wraps it up in one remarkably addictive novel.
Some of it is incredibly sad, a lot of it incredibly heart warming – some of it frustrating, Eden for example, sister to Digby and best friend to Lucille, I occasionally wanted to poke with a stick but also loved with a passion. This is not a long read, but it is fascinating, clever and very truthful in its feelings and intentions – a snapshot of a life thrown into turmoil and the different ways those close to us can react – really insightful writing,beautifully done.
This Raging Light is simple in its brilliance – storytelling with a realistic edge – if you like every issue resolved in a nice neat package by the end then you may find that this annoys you – for me it was perfect because it was life. Sometimes there are no actual answers to it, you just have to live it. Lucille comes to some conclusions, solves some immediate problems but when you leave her behind it is with a lot of life still to live and a lot of things still to learn about herself and the wider world. As such this story will remain with me, I will think sometimes of Lucille and how she and the rest of the cast may be doing as if they are real people. And there is the true art of storytelling right there.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now from Fledgling Press
Source: Publisher review copy
Two children, a brother and sister, wait in a lonely inn for their parents to come home, while a storm closes in. They have only lived at the inn for three days. Maggie, the eldest, seeks to reassure her younger brother, who is asthmatic and nervous. When a stranger’s car is marooned in the river below, and he knocks at their door for shelter, the long night darkens. All is not what it seems, and Maggie and Rory are about to learn what became of the so-called ‘survivors’ of Glencoe.
Really enjoyed Darker Ends – for a start it’s a beautiful looking book with a spot on cover that just draws you in, inside the pages is a gorgeously atmospheric and creepy tale for a younger audience that is really very gripping.
Maggie and Rory are alone in in their new home, an inn that is isolated and without near neighbours. A storm is raging and they are beginning to fret, when a stranded stranger knocks on the door looking for shelter…
This is a real “things that go bump in the night” book and as such will absolutely enthrall it’s target audience – heck it absolutely enthralled me. Some beautiful writing that will endure well with both young and old, Alex Nye has a great touch when it comes to characters and an even better one when it comes to painting a stark and haunting landscape to pit them against. Terrific imagery and a real sense of menace plus a hefty hit of emotion that is enough but not too much made this a really really good read.
Excellent stuff – I shall be searching out more. Defninitely recommended for kids who love a bit of a scare and adults who love a really good yarn well told. Watch out for that ending though – it may get you!
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from St Martins Griffin
Source: Purchased copy.
When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world?
Courtney Summers is my favourite author of Young Adult reality novels – she brings such a great depth of emotion to her stories, always realistic characters and touching on some difficult and emotive issues and never, ever failing to make me cry. Every time dammit!
In “Fall for Anything” she takes on a tale of grief – Eddie has lost her father to suicide. All she wants to do is answer the unanswerable question – Why? As Eddie searches desperately for those answers she may never find, we are taken on that journey with her, it is heart wrenching, impossibly sad yet utterly addictive.
With Courtney Summers novels as with life, the ending may not be one you want – as ever she stuns you with reality rather than some beautifully imagined unlikely happy ending – yet there is hope as well as loss within the narrative, a moving on from one place to another, a kind of acceptance.
To sum up its just another typically brilliant novel from an author that is just going from strength to strength. Just read All The Rage if you don’t believe me…
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now from Alloy
After months of pretending to be Raven Rogen, Ven feels less like a clone and more like a human than ever. But when Raven’s father, Titus—the same man who engineered Ven—discovers her plan to escape, everything she’s worked so hard for is taken away in one explosive moment.
Now she’s imprisoned in Twig City, the secret warehouse where she grew up. She spends her days plotting ways to get back to the outside world, determined to topple Titus’s empire and free every last Imitation. But Titus’s reach is extensive and his plans are more deadly than she realized.
So we come to the end of the Clone Chronicles then, a series I have really really enjoyed – I will absolutely miss Venn and the others, such great characters and an excellent story – I was really hoping that Heather Hildenbrand would give them a good send off.
And she did.
At the end of Deviation things were looking bleak for Venn – stuck back in Twig City, not sure what is going to happen – after a rescue she is determined to finally bring down Titus no matter the cost to her own personal morality.
It’s quite difficult to review a final book in a trilogy because you don’t want to give away anything for those who have yet to start it – and if you are a fan of YA dystopia then I would highly recommend these – but overall the entire story has had a beautiful cohesive flow to it with just the right amount of action, romance and surprises. Some interesting concepts explored here and the author has given her characters a lot of difficult choices to ensure that you are utterly compelled throughout.
The relationships drawn between Venn and the wider cast are excellent, the author drawing you into their world and putting you firmly in their corner. The villain of the piece, Titus, is one of my favourite “bad guys” from YA fiction and there are plenty of edge of the seat moments to be had.
I thought the sense of poetic justice that Heather Hilenbrande brought to the ultimate resolution created a pitch perfect ending to a series that has had me enthralled from beginning to end. I loved it.
Highly Recommended for fans of Young Adult Fiction.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 1st Sept from Albert Whitman
After her high school is rocked by an anonymous bomb threat, “perfect student” Gabriella Mallory is recruited to work on a secret crisis helpline that may help uncover the would-be bomber’s identity.
Are You Still There was an intriguing premise and a book that I enjoyed, a fast read, with some interesting themes and characters.
It starts off with a bang, as we meet Gabi, hiding in the bathroom during a school lockdown, waiting to see if she lives or dies. The school has received a bomb threat – in this case no-one is hurt but as the story progresses we understand that the danger is not over.
It waa a mix of suspense and character relationship drama – not only is a load of stuff going on at the school but Gabi herself is beginning to bloom afer a long time being the perfect child. I was particularly fascinated by her relationhsip with her Sister and Mother – especially as her personality developed within the narrative.
On top of that she gets involved with a crisis helpline set up by the school, meets new friends there and starts to expand her horizons, this is an excellent thread of the story, looking at how these things work and the point of them – in this story mixed in with the need to track down the person behind the threat, someone who seems to have latched onto Gabi as a possible saviour.
Gabi’s character voice is engaging throughout, the wider cast making a good group dynamic – so if anything the suspense element, that of the hidden personality behind the threats is kind of secondary – there is a side part where we hear their thoughts as a kind of journal, but I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t feel the story really NEEDED that bit. I found “him” far less interesting than the rest and a little flat, although as an anchor to what I found REALLY great – Gabi and the exploration of personalities – it was fair enough.
I enjoyed the idea of looking at the wider affects things like this have within school communities, both from the kids side and the adult’s side – this was a fast and addictive read for me, excellent writing and flowing well – with some good points made and a main protagonist I really got behind. Overall a good one.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 8th September 2015 from St Martins Griffin
Clementine’s world is on the brink of destruction. An army of aliens from the distant planet Marden has arrived with a massive fleet of battleships, intent on finally putting an end to the war Kiel’s old rulers initiated. With the Alliance headquarters reduced to rubble and one of the rebel leaders close to death, Clementine and her friends have no choice but to retreat to the Core to escape the alien ships attacking the Surface.
Thoroughly enjoyed Evolution and as the completion of a trilogy it worked really well – no going off on wild tangents unlike some I’ve read and a very decent solution that made utter sense within the rest of the wider story which can also be rather unusual, as some struggle to cohesively bring together all their wider arcs.
In Evoloution, Clem is heading back to the core – hoping to make a deal with arch enemy Commander Charlie and join forces to defeat the wider threat, that of the invasion, she is already staggered by loss and unsure which way to turn. Again though she does not have the whole picture and as we head towards the final battle, the complete truth starts to emerge…
I’ve really been highly entertained by this whole series. Clem is one of my favourite YA heroines, tough yet not so tough that she becomes caricature and the best thing is there are no overwhelmingly saccharine love stories muddying the waters. She has her fella, right from the start and that is that. Yes she fights for him but keeps her eye on the prize – that of freedom from a particular kind of slavery – all the way through. She stumbles and falls, makes both good and bad decisions and as far as that goes is beautifully realistic.
In other characters, we have the “bad guy” Commander Charlie who is evil beyond belief but also very believable – Stephanie Diaz creating a psychological picture of enough depth to make the battles, both verbal and physical between these two opponents very compelling. The wider cast as well all have a nice depth to them, overall the character drama threads are very well done.
World building is great- an imaginative story that feels real, a setting that is well described and easy to see in your head. Plot construction also of a high standard – as I said at the start, it all comes together, all the previous novels have lead up to this and here we are.
Overall then a great YA trilogy, one I could easily imagine transferring to the visual medium very well, emotional depth, great storytelling and really highly engaging from start to finish.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 24th September from Harlequin (UK) Ltd
At sixteen Nash thought that the fight to become Head Girl of prestigious boarding school Bathory would be the biggest battle she’d face. Until her brother’s disappearance leads to Nash being trapped at the school over Christmas with Bathory’s assorted misfits. As a blizzard rages outside, strange things are afoot in the school’s hallways, and legends of the mysterious Beast of Bathory – a big cat rumoured to room the moors outside the school – run wild. Yet when the girls’ Matron goes missing it’s clear that something altogether darker is to blame – and that they’ll have to stick together if they hope to survive.
Monster was a highly entertaining if slightly odd read in a lot of ways – the author I would think read a lot of boarding school stories (as did I) growing up and perhaps decided it was time to add some additional blood and guts and terror to the process…and it worked as well. Who would have thought it?
Monster is a genuinely engaging hybrid of jolly hocky sticks and ginger beer type shenanigans a la Enid Blyton and stalker/monster horror movie a la John Carpenter – a really quite heady mix as well it fairly rocks along. If Enid Blyton had decided to write a scary tale I imagine it might have looked something like “Monster” – that’s a thought that will linger.
Anyway, so we are with Tash, who’s brother is missing and on top of that has to stay behind at school over the Christmas holidays along with a rag tag bunch of other pupils and one adult. Meanwhile the area is being stalked by a strange beast that nobody can quite describe and she is all starry eyed over the boy from the local shop. Well kind of. She likes him anyway…
Then the snow starts, strange things occur and there they all are. Stuck. I mean what could possibly go wrong?
I love how the author has incorporated all the horror movie tropes in a very ironically clever way – yes really you DON’T need to be wandering the grounds late at night looking for Matron when it’s perfectly obvious that this will only lead to disaster – and I do like that Tash actually has a modicum of sense. This allows for some truly edge of the seat moments rather than the reader shaking their head going “Really? You would REALLY do that?” and being taken out of the moment. Luckily the extended cast have quite enough stupidity between them that you don’t miss it and the group ensemble works really well within the narrative as they all struggle to survive whilst bitching at each other.
There is a nice little analogy in the title too. There is the possibility of an actual monster of course, but C J Skuse plays with that idea mixing it up with the idea of the Monster inside – the one you don’t recognise as such until it’s too late. The resolution not being immediately obvious makes this all the more fun to read.
Overall I really enjoyed this – clever and a whole lot of fun. Recommended.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Harper Teen
Source: Purchased copy
Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?
When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home.
Liars Inc is a beautifully twisty turny YA tale that flows beautifully and is really gripping – some great characters and an addictive writing style made this an easy and fast read that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Liars Inc – set up by a group of friends to make a little money. Forge the odd note, make the odd “pretend parent” phone call amongst other things and soon the cash is pouring in. A lie though, once told, can flow outwards like ripples in a pond and soon at least one of our group finds himself in hot water.
Its a clever little tale to be sure, the author does a great job with the ongoing twists and works nicely around the readers assumptions to make it unpredictable and fun to read. Max as a main protagonist is eminently likeable even as he occasionally does some downright stupid things so you are very involved in his trauma and with him all the way. I especially liked the interaction and tangled relationship between Max, his girlfriend and his best friend – the core trio that we are concerned with here.
Paula Stokes has weaved her web around some real life issues – adoption, fitting in, sense of self, that gives it a stroke of poignancy and is handled very well within the plot. Whilst it is, yes, sometimes a little unrealistic on the mystery element side (but then if everyone behaved sensibly this novel would have ended at around page 10 so you know, creative license and all that) the personal emotional side means that you don’t really care.
Overall a very well written and engaging YA story with some great little twists, a fascinating set of characters and an entirely captivating conundrum to solve. One Lie many consequences. Good stuff.
Happy Reading Folks!
Night Owls (UK) published 13th August from Simon & Shuster UK Childrens.
AKA The Anatomical Shape of a Heart (US) published November from Feiwel & Friends
Source: Netgalley (UK version)
Feeling alive is always worth the risk.
Meeting Jack on the Owl—San Francisco’s night bus—turns Beatrix’s world upside down. Jack is charming, wildly attractive…and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists.
But Jack is hiding a piece of himself. On midnight rides and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who this enigmatic boy really is.
I really really enjoyed this novel from Jenn Bennett – apparently this is her first foray into YA writing and if this is anything to go by lets hope for a lot more.
Night Owls is a beautifully written love story with a strong contemporary feel and some gorgeous touches – especially in relation to the two main characters Jack and Bea – a pairing I fell for completely.
Now it’s true that I don’t really *do* romance – there has to be a lot more to it than that for me, in the case of “Night Owls” it was the graffiti artist aspect that drew me in originally, that plus the idea of a night bus and a relationship developing in the quiet early hours. Then I met Jack and Bea and suddenly I was a lover of all things romantic after all.
Having said that, this is so much more than a straight up teenage relationship story, there is an amazing depth of feeling to both our main protagonists, a story of life not just love, a brilliant snapshot of family ties and the things that drive us and inform our attitudes. As our two learn more about each other, and we see the secret feelings underneath the outer shell, it is absolutely compelling all the way through.
The author also has a classically deft touch when it comes to scene setting, San Francisco is not a city I know much about, but she brought it to vivid vervent life, almost a character in it’s own right and the perfect backdrop against which to set the very gripping narrative.
A modern fairytale if you like, Night Owls may well turn out to be one of my favourite reads of the year – witty, insightful, both funny and emotional, if you are going to get me reading stories of the heart then this is the way to do it.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Amazon Publishing/Skyscape
Aidan O’Linn’s childhood ended the night he saw a demon kill his mother and mark his sister, Ava, with Darkness. Since then, every three years the demons have returned to try to claim her. Living in the gritty, forgotten corners of Los Angeles, Aidan has managed to protect his sister, but he knows that even his powers to fight demons and speak dead languages won’t keep her safe for much longer.
I LOVED this one. Thanks to Khan for bringing it to my attention.
Darkness Brutal is a Young Adult urban fantasy story that has some really terrific and imaginative world building, a cast of eclectic characters all of whom were well drawn and emotionally connectable and a really rocketing plot with monsters and magical mayhem galore.
There were a couple of things that made this so addictive for me – first the very low key focus on romance, I often find that when there is too much “boy meets girl and spends half the book gazing into her eyes” I grow bored but Rachel Marks has walked the line here brilliantly. Secondly the world building is some of the most ingenious and vivid I have seen for a while within this genre – the author gives you a real feel for the things that hover beneath the surface of the world we know, it is superbly plotted and very compelling.
The writing is punchy and darkly humerous, Ms Marks developing the relationship between her characters and the world they live in, and by extension the reader’s relationship with them, in a really gripping way – while you are reading it you believe every word. Plenty of action, offset with some more emotional moments manage to endlessly engage you as a reader and as things head into a very traumatic and intuitive finale (Gosh do I want the next book now!) you will be in it all the way.
Also really enjoyed how some myth and biblical legend was woven into the narrative, giving it a kind of a grounding and for me it was the ensemble cast and the intricacies of plot detail that made this so fantastic.
Highly Recommended for YA fans of all ages.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from St Martin’s Griffin
Source: Purchased copy
When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.
Oh where to begin…
I’m sat here with my mouth open wondering what the heck just happened.
Yep this one has that power.
I’m not sure how to describe the central plot so I won’t bother trying – but never, ever in my life have I met such a bunch of completely screwed up characters. For different reasons, for a myriad of choices they have made, for whatever reasons come to light during the reading of this one, these guys are SCREWED.
In “Delicate Monsters” Stephanie Kuehn once more takes on mental illness as a central theme, giving us a character piece that pulls no punches and peels layer after layer away from her main protagonists until they are laid bare before us – with a terrifically practical touch to the prose, she tells it how it is, there is no attempt to necessarily give us redeeming features, although there is a kind of redemptive feel throughout.
I find this author unique in her ambience – this is now my third novel from her (Complicity and Charm and Strange having come before it) and with each one she has stopped me in my tracks for very different reasons. I’ve come out the other side of all her novels feeling emotionally wrung out and completely mentally exhausted – in the very best way possible. Because these are stories where you feel all the feelings.
The writing is sublime, dark and unrelenting but utterly delicious, I am hard put to explain why that is, it just simply IS.
Delicate Monsters is a powerhouse of a novel, with an ending that will shock you and drive you utterly crazy and a beginning and a middle that do much the same thing. What just happened? You tell me. Whatever it was it was completely brilliant.
Publication Date: Available Now from Harper Collins UK Childrens
The time has come for one winner to be crowned.
When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.
I have to say I have been THOROUGHLY entertained and engaged by the Selection series from Kiera Cass – they are so beautifully popcorn. You know what I mean – you can dive in, live the fairytale, have a little bit of an adventure, a few sad moments, a lot of happy ones and come out the other side feeling totally satisfied.
In “The One” the selection process is coming to a close. America’s up and down relationship with Prince Maxon comes to a head – as does her battle with his father – and the rebels are up to no good yet again.
The writing in these is extremely well constructed, the author describes her characters perfectly through their actions and conversations – it is all extremely readable and well flowing. I have fallen more for America than I thought I would over the course of the three books so far – I was pleased she finally stopped faffing around with her choice of man and finally understands just who it is she is in love with. IS it the Prince? Or is it her childhood sweetheart?. As a love story this is pretty good – and that from me is a high compliment as I don’t really tend to enjoy full on romantic notions.
In this case though there is a side of adventure and danger to be had in the form of the rebels – to be fair this tends to be a bit sudden – there is a plethora of beautiful dresses and all the rest then BAM something will get into the middle of all that. But it does put a bit of yin/yang into a tale that might otherwise have been a little too saccharine for my tastes.
Overall really really good. Dying to know what is next for them all.
Publication date: Available Now (kindle) from Hodder and Staughton. Paperback 18th June 2015
New York City, 2141: Yojana Patel throws herself off a skyscraper, but never hits the ground.
Cornwall, 1640: gentle young Dora Predennick, newly come to Sweetclover Hall to work, discovers a badly-burnt woman at the bottom of a flight of stairs. When she reaches out to comfort the dying woman, she’s knocked unconscious, only to wake, centuries later, in empty laboratory room.
On a rainy night in present-day Cornwall, seventeen-year-old Kaz Cecka sneaks into the long-abandoned Sweetclover Hall, determined to secure a dry place to sleep. Instead he finds a frightened housemaid who believes Charles I is king and an angry girl who claims to come from the future.
HA excellent time twisty start to what is shaping up to be a corker of a series from Scott K Andrews – A rip roaring roller coaster ride of a read that keeps you on your toes and is a WHOLE lot of fun. Really great construction here, terrific characters and one of those books you really can read for the sheer unadulterated joy of it.
Oh dear, how can I review it without spoilers? Seriously,lots of action, three very different main protagonists are thrown together under insane circumstances and somehow have to become a team. The author manages to walk the fine line between strangely believable and totally nuts really really well – beautifully imagined with a good depth of plot and seriously addictive.
I loved it and really I just want more – of course being the start of a trilogy there are some open ended issues but as a part one it was pretty darn perfect. You’ll be avidly waiting for part two, I can tell you that now.
Really really good. REALLY. Whatever time you live in.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Harper Collins Childrens
The Selection began with thirty-five girls.
Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon’s heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?
The Elite then, book two in the Selection series, a series that I have been enjoying greatly for many reasons, mainly I think because they are beautifully readable and a whole lot of fun.
Its a fairytale really. Now America has made it into the final 6 the “Elite” of the selection process, things are hotting up. Various events mean she question’s herself a lot and still finds herself torn between Prince Maxon and old beau Aspen a fair bit, then there are the rebels causing the odd issue which distracts from the glitz and glamour of life in the palace.
The Elite is a very popcorn read, hops along at a fair old pace, to be honest not a lot really happens to move the story along that much from The Selection – there are less girls and competition is that bit fiercer, there are a couple of infractions from the rebels that gives us a bit more of a glimpse of their intentions but really its focussed still on Maxon and America and the whole will they/won’t they thing.
I think its fairly obvious that they WILL. Otherwise really what is the point? But the journey is turning out to be a good one, I’m quite fond of all the characters even though America is a bit ditzy when it comes to deciding what it is she ACTUALLY wants. I am unsurprised that Maxon gets annoyed, sometimes I was annoyed myself.
Overall this was a fairly decent “book 2” – I’d like to see more in depth information on the rebels and the war which seems like a side story that should get more attention – but you get plenty of pretty dresses and fairytale living in The Elite and it is highly enjoyable.
Looking foward to the next – where presumably America will get her Princess status and with any luck be able to sort out the mess that the country is in (if anyone can she can. And she needs to deal with that rotten King!)
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication date: Available Now from Harper Collins
Source: Purchased copy
My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.
Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.
Solitaire is an amazing book, straight into my favourites of all time. I’m not sure why but I devoured it – a contemporary YA novel with a lot of heart and soul and some inspiring and authentic main characters, not the least of which is our narrator Tori.
So anyway, I was reading this as a 46 year old Mother of 3, a book written by an obviously very talented young writer (who I imagine used experience to get that edgy realism into the narrative) yet so much of it resonated with me, harking back to my own teenage years and having seen my lovely now 24 year old daughter through hers. It is an honest and very astute tale, gripping and often humerous, with a little twist in the premise to allow some deeper themes to be explored.
Tori is a really terrifically drawn character who will steal your heart – she is a literature student who hates books, a loner in her own head, who struggles to care about anything, doesnt really understand those around her, gets angry, frustrated, but often inspires people despite herself. She is like the flame that attracts moths then burns them, unwittingly (and sometimes with great deliberation) pushing people away from her. She has to deal with a brother who has issues, a friend she is losing connection with, meeting Michael Holden (I’ll come to him) and then Solitaire – a shadowy group who begin to play sometimes funny, sometimes annoying then increasingly dangerous pranks on the school our characters attend.
Michael Holden is a marvel of a character, I dare you not to fall in love with him. A perfect foil for Tory to allow us to see into her hidden self, the author uses her character ensemble to tell a subtle and compelling story of one girl moving closer to the edge and the people around her who may have their own edge to worry about As things develop it is completely captivating, some beautiful and insightful writing draws you into their world and makes you feel every moment.
What I loved about this I think is how Alice Oseman captures so perfectly the teenage condition. Yes she examines depression and other life issues here in a well crafted, informative and realistic way but she also manages to imbue into the story the true depth of feeling that comes with coming of age, that time in our lives when everything is EVERYTHING, the smallest things seemingly impossible to overcome. Tori lives and breathes it, the emotional overload pops off the page, the storytelling is sublime.
This is not a love story. But it is a story you will love.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Templar Publishing
Source: Purchased Copy
Cia Vale is now seventeen and has everything she ever dreamed of: a boy she loves, a place at the University and a future as one of the leaders of the United Commonwealth. But Cia remembers. Cia must choose whether to stay silent and protect herself and her loved ones, or expose The Testing for what it is.
Really enjoyed this second novel in “The Testing ” series – the first one had a very Hunger Games feel to it, in Independent Study the action moves from one kind of test to another – the university hopefuls may have passed the first hurdle but it has come at a huge cost that they cannot even remember. And if any of them thought passing The Testing meant safety and security then they are in for a bit of a rude awakening.
Once again we follow Cia – she cannot remember her testing but she knows more than most and will also discover more during the course of this story – now working secretly for the resistance she has no idea who to trust, even amongst those she counts as friends. She’s also a little bit too clever for her own good and some very bad people are wondering if maybe she has some help..
I liked the often claustrophobic feel the author brought to this second novel – the action is fairly low key in a lot of ways, now Cia must fight and learn on a more cerebral level. I thought the handling of her relationship with Thomas was great – especially as she grows suspicious of him, indeed of everyone. In her new environment she has new friends and enemies and telling one from another is not easy, it creates a great underlying tension in the reading that sat very well with me.
The world building is expanded nicely and we learn more about how the government works, where it has its roots and it becomes apparent that Cia may have an even bigger fight on her hands than she thought. I do like the blurred lines the author has drawn between the good guys and the bad – there are several “factions” if you like, all who think their way is best, as things progress you wonder whether actually there is anyone that you could entirely root for. Cia herself faces some tough choices in order to ensure her own survival. Its intriguing stuff.
The ending was really great – well great if like me you have the third book immediately to hand – as Joelle Charbonneau has set the scene for a really tense and excellent finish – assuming she can keep up the momentum for “Graduation Day” I’m sure I’m going to be adding this to my list of favourite YA Trilogies.
Happy Reading folks!
Publication Available Now from Momentum (Pan Macmillan)
Here in the west they know a lot about hope. They know how to ration it just as they do with food and water.
Josephine is at last free of the blood moon. But in a desperate rush to find help for a comatose Luke, she discovers the strange and dangerous world of the resistance, and it is unlike any world Josi has known.
In the west they believe in fury – they cultivate and encourage it. The unruly people of the resistance know that to survive means to fight. But can they fight the inevitable cure for sadness that rushes steadily closer?
I love this series. Melancholy has also been released in episodes and I had actually read Episode One so when I received the omnibus edition via netgalley I was so excited – skipping past the part I had already read I jumped straight back into the story and re-entered Josie and Luke’s world.
The basic idea behind The Cure series is a world in which the government have erased our anger, creating a society of drones who gently go about their business. Things have inadvertantly arisen because of this cure which I won’t go into in case you havent read book one (Fury, which incidentally was in my top 5 YA novels read in 2014}. Our main protagonists are Josie (who faced down her demons in book one) and Luke (who is very much facing down his in book two) In this instalment they have escaped the city and are with the “resistance”. But people are dying, suspicion is rife within the community and there are dark secrets hovering just beneath the surface.
Again I won’t talk too much about plot – if you are a YA Dystopia fan I highly recommend you give the Cure series a go, the story is beautifully constructed and has enough that is different about it from the crowd to make it really stand out and be noticed. It is also highly addictive reading that will keep you on the edge of your seat a lot of the time, getting you emotionally involved with the characters and making you really worry for them. The story itself is highly compelling and flows well throughout.
I’m a fan for sure. Book two being the middle book, Charlotte McConaghy has set things up beautifully for the next – I’m unsure if the intention is to make this a trilogy or if there will be more to it, certainly the world building has set up tremendous scope for an awful lot of adventure so it will work either way. Highly Recommended.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Simon and Schuster.
Source: Purchased Copy
A SACRED OATH
A FALLEN ANGEL
A FORBIDDEN LOVE
Hush Hush is another book I’ve had on my radar for quite a while, it has been recommended to me by quite a few people who know I have a bit of an obsession with YA series.
Hush Hush then centres around Nora, a 16 year old high school student who is, against her wishes, teamed up with new boy Patch for a school project. Patch is dark and mysterious (of course, and yay) and seems to be able to get into her head. He also starts turning up a lot wherever Nora is and strange events begin to occur that has Nora wondering if she is going slightly insane. Patch of course has a secret….
Thoroughly enjoyed this one – Fallen Angels are popular lately in YA and this is an excellent example of when that particular story is done really really well. Great characters (Both Nora and Patch are intriguing in their own way) a terrific supporting cast and some beautifully done descriptive prose makes this one pop.
One thing I particularly liked about Hush Hush was that it was not in a rush to get anywhere. Becca Fitzpatrick takes the time to give her characters background, depth and feeling, hooking you into their world and making you care. Still, there is always plenty going on even if we don’t get to the crux of the matter until later in the story. The end is then one of hectic thrilling excitement that works brilliantly.
Overall then a scintillating read. I’m very happy that I ordered the whole series together. Because I’m looking forward very much to seeing what is going to happen next.
Happy Reading Folks
Publication Date: 1st May 2015 from Usborne.
Source: Publisher Review Copy
Best friend missing.
Stalked by a stranger.
Attacked in the street…
...And Sarah has no idea why.
So I LOVED Emma Haughtons “Now You See Me” so I was very happy to read “Better Left Buried” and even happier that it was just as good, if not better.
A gorgeously written YA mystery story with some really terrific characters – Sarah has recently lost her brother, very suddenly to heart failure. We meet her a little while into the aftermath, when her Mum is struggling to cope and her Dad is trying to keep the family together. Sarah herself has been relying very much on best friend Lizzie as she tries to fill the gap her Mum is leaving. So when Lizzie starts acting strangely and a mysterious figure seems to be following Sarah around, she begins to discover that her brother may have left behind more than a little trouble.
Wonderful flow to this one as with Now You See Me – Emma Haughton just manages to grab you immediately and keep you guessing, weaving a beautifully intriguing web of events whilst also allowing her characters to have great depth so you stay with them all the way.
I do love how once again she has slowly but surely built the tension right up and then, once you have a handle on what is going on, hits you with a tense and very thrilling end game. Delightfully constructed this is absolutely a real page turner.
Overall then a most terrific read. Really really enjoyed it. Highly Recommended.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from HarperCollins UK Childrens
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare.
SO The Selection then. I am on a bit of a YA kick at the moment and this was one I had on my radar so when I saw it being offered via netgalley it was really perfect timing.
I thoroughly enjoyed this – a fast, engaging read, one I read mostly over the course of today, we follow America Singer, who lives in a world divided into Castes – she is neither the lowest nor the highest, a musician who struggles alongside the rest of her family to put food on the table and who is in love with the boy next door. Despite that though, she reluctantly bows to pressure and enters the Selection for a chance to marry the Prince and her whole life changes.
I think I liked this one so much because it appealed to the girl in me who used to adore fairytales, the traditional ones like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty – a world of beautiful girls and handsome Princes. Ok so realistically speaking “The Selection” is more like an episode of The Bachelor on acid but is very addictive with some great characters.
America appealed to me because she was so beautifully obnoxious in comparison to the other girls – not in a bad way, just with a no nonsense approach and a pragmatic reasoning. She does this because by doing so her family gets money – but this is after all at its heart a love story and watching her realise that perhaps there is more to the shallow prince than meets the eye was a whole lot of fun.
Cue the boyfriend turning up of course, which gives us an interesting angle (especially for me as I REALLy did not like him, no I don’t know why – perhaps its that fairytale girl in me again rooting for the Prince) and there are of course the other girls to contend with, all in all this is an interesting mix of Romance and dystopia. It is not all rainbows and kittens – the palace is not the safest of places with rebel attacks always an issue (a plot point that in this instalment was actually quite low key, hints and a couple of action scenes which give the promise of greater understanding to come) and America walks the line between keeping a sense of herself and allowing herself to change, the author doing a great job of giving her depth.
Quite a light read overall but really nicely done with some interesting themes woven into the story, some characters I really got behind and a really terrific construction that will make you want to continue following America’s life. I would definitely recommend fans of YA give it a go and I’m really looking forward to book two.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Chicken House
Source: Purchased copy
Tella’s brother is dying. He’s got cancer, and Tella is helpless to save him. Or so she thought. When an invitation arrives for Tella to compete in the Brimstone Bleed, a deadly competition that will lead her through treacherous jungle and scorching desert, she doesn’t think twice. Because the prize is a cure to any illness. But Tella will be facing more than just the elements.
I absolutely enjoyed this adventurous little tale. Granted its not exactly a new story and does borrow heavily from things such as the Hunger Games – but it is given a boost by the creation of the “Pandora’s” something I’ll come back to shortly. Also I’m kind of a sucker for a main character who is, well, pretty useless to be honest when it comes to survival. Still she muddles through and I found watching her muddle through to be highly entertaining.
So the basic premise is this – Tella gets offered the chance to compete in The Brimstone Bleed, the ultimate prize being a cure for her terminally ill Brother. Only one can win (yes sounds familiar but bear with me) and it involves survival over a number of terrains, the winner of each individual portion getting an interim boost. Once we reach there, this departs from being anything else and becomes its own thing.
Each contestant gets an egg – which hatches into a Pandora. Created by a team of scientists each Pandora is a creature of special talent. All different and all very well imagined, the Pandora’s are attached to their competitors and make a beautiful sideline to the rest of the action going on. To be honest I was far more attached to these than I was to any of the human cast – mess with the people for sure but leave those magical delights alone. Maddox had better survive this series – I’m giving a quick frowned look in the direction of Victoria Scott here – hoping she’ll remember the “kill a million people but never kill the dog” rule. Yes you all know what I mean.
It is pacy and fun to read – some edge of the seat moments and a touch of Romance which is a pretty required element these days and in this case I was very engaged by it. The male love interest is a “tough Guy”, ha, with his own agenda which comes to light later and the supporting cast who join Tella on her journey are an eclectic bunch of which Harper was my favourite – I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next for sure.
I purchased this (and the next novel Salt and Stone) in my latest round of mad book buying which was focussed on upping my YA collection and I’m very glad I chose it. What I was looking for was pure entertainment, an engaging story and some characters I could get behind and basically that is exactly what I got. Whilst Tella is not a kick ass female of the Katniss variety, she is very compelling and fun to be around (anyway I think Harper can do all the kicking of ass necessary if you are looking for the quintissential tough girl) and I was very happy to follow along with her and the rest of them.
The world building is low key to be sure but I get the feeling that this is going to come into its own over the course of the next novel – the author giving us a twist to the tale and hints of what is to come. Fire and Flood concentrated on the people and the race and was a fast, often humerous, pleasing tale and I’m very much looking forward to reading the next.
Reviews being very up and down it seems as if this is a very subjective book. All I can say is I was addicted to it and would definitely recommend you try it if you are a fan of YA Dystopia. I dare you not to fall in love with Maddox. Double dare you!
Happy Reading Folks.
Publication Date: Available Now from Orchard
Source: Purchased Copy
Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.
She’s been Slated.
Quite dark and disturbing in subject matter but highly addictive and beautifully written Slated is set in a world where if you are a criminal of a certain age your mind is wiped and you are sent to a new family to start again. Kyla is one such “Slated” girl but she is not like all the rest, some of her memory appears intact.
I thoroughly enjoyed this, part of my current obsession with YA Trilogies – so much so that I’m actually moving straight onto Book 2 rather than having a break in between as I have been with the other’s I’ve chosen.
It is an intriguing idea – of course things are not as straight forward as they seem, Teri Terry uses the plot to explore themes of criminal behaviour, right and wrong and of course throws in some reality checks. If such a thing were possible it would not always be used for good of course, and even if you consider wiping the minds of true criminals to be a “good” thing there is a great moral argument to be had there.
All this is looked at as Kyla struggles to readjust after her Slating – and finds that she is having nightmares that may be based in fact. There is a romance here, of course, but that is not the main focus, the pace of the story is pretty perfect and it ends in a way that will absolutely have you grabbing book 2 immediately.
Very well done and I would not hesitate to recommend it.
Happy Reading Folks
Publication date: Available Now from Corgi Childrens.
Source: Purchased Copy
Seventeen-year-old Veerle is bored with life in suburban Brussels. But a chance encounter with a hidden society, whose members illegally break into unoccupied buildings around the city, soon opens up a whole new world of excitement – and danger.
When one of the society’s founding members disappears, Veerle suspects foul play. But nothing can prepare her for the horror that is about to unfold when an old foe emerges from the shadows… No one is safe, and The Hunter will strike again..
First of all huge thanks to author Jane Casey for recommending this one to me when I was looking for my next YA read, it was a superb psychological thriller with some brilliantly drawn characters and a really creepy plot.
Veerle observes something horrific when she is young but forgets all about it, years later she once again meets up with Kris, the same boy who was with her all those years ago. Now grown and on the cusp of adulthood she joins a secret group that he is a part of, they visit empty and abandoned houses for fun. But someone is stalking them – and the past is about to come back to haunt Veerle.
This was beautifully written, absolutely compelling and true storytelling genius, with an intelligent and addictive plot – a thriller that does not compromise on character in order to keep the pace.
One of the strongest parts of the story was the intense and complicated relationship between Veerle and her mother Claudine – Claudine is the very definition of an over protective parent and obviously suffers from mental health issues. Veerle’s attempts to live a normal teenage life whilst dealing with a great deal of stress at home gives the whole novel an added frisson. Really remarkable for a story which at its heart is a heady mix of thriller, horror and crime.
Very dark and descriptive prose, a terrific setting and a real sense of menace throughout makes for a great reading experience. At turns frightening, at others highly emotional, the story twists and turns its way to a breathtaking conclusion. Pacy yet with great depth, I would highly recommend this, not only to fans of the Young Adult genre but to fans of psychological thrillers in general. Easily accessible for both teenagers and adults alike, this is exquisitely constructed and packs one heck of a punch. Books 2 and 3 in the trilogy await me – watch this space!
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now from Hodder and Staughton
Source: Purchased Copy
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.
This is not that world.
Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.
So I FINALLY got onto book two of this really quite amazing series and it was a perfect follow up to “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” – I loved it entirely.
The world building is quite simply brilliant, the characters are all so beautifully drawn that they just get into your head and stay there and the mythology created is deep, rich and enigmatically fascinating.
The Angel/Demon dynamic has been done a lot but never so beautifully as Laini Taylor has managed (so far) – my impulse is to move straight onto “Dreams of Gods and Monsters” but I really don’t want this to end – so for that reason I shall leave a little time between reading book two and three as I did between one and two.
The writing is sublime. That is all.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: March 26th 2015 from Simon and Schuster Childrens
Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth in this contemporary novel.
I loved this story – I’m a big fan of the post apocalyptic as long as there is heart to the drama, here we are “Pre possible apocalypse but no-one really knows” – its a genre all on its own. I’m sure that someone more creative than I can come up with a better word for it.
Anyway, here we have a fairly typical bunch of High School kids about to head out into the world, and as we meet them they all have plans even if some are a little disjointed. In perhaps one of the best opening scenes I have seen in a book for a while we meet them, one by one, “handing the baton” style – they are living life involved in various things, some at home, some out and about but all under the same sky, and at different moments watching the same shooting star. As a hook into the characters and story it was done with elegant perfection…by the end of the first little bit you have a feel for all of them. When that same shooting star they were all half wishing upon turns into something more sinister, everything changes.
It is a clever story and an emotional one in a lot of ways – how do you plan for a future that may not even exist. Do you wait and see? Carry on regardless? An interesting question to ask anyway for those of us who like to ponder these things – what Tommy Wallach has done is give that notion a voice and a reality all of its own. How our main four react, to themselves, to each other, to the imminent disaster is beautifully drawn and really terribly addictive.
The tale has a musical heart – the fact that the author is also a musician shines through, there is a lyrical quality to the storytelling, a lilt and a flow to it that keeps you involved. As the world goes mad around them, each must decide what is important, there is “before ” and there is “after” and both are explored within the thoughts and actions of the kids trying to make sense of it all. I found it absolutely fascinating, a tale of human resolve and action seen through the eyes of a group who still have a lot of growing up to do should they be given the chance.
Overall a really really good read – the ending was pitch perfect, the novel overall has a simple beauty to it and I can’t wait to see what this author brings us next. In a genius turn he has created the music found within the novel – there is an album I shall be buying for sure.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: March 10th 2015 from Hodder and Staughton
Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.
Oh Vanishing Girls what to say about you. I adored it for the most part and I have always been a huge fan of Lauren Oliver’s stunningly beautiful writing that just pulls you into every story she tells. But I had my issues with this one. Small, to be fair, but still…
Anyway here we meet Nick and Dara, sisters, friends, their relationship suddenly takes a downturn, then they have an accident that further pulls them apart. Told from both points of view, both before and after the crash, Lauren Oliver paints us a portrait of a beautiful yet often diversive sibling relationship.
The teenage state of mind is once again beautifully captured here and around the girls are a cast of other characters informing and changing their relationship. It is utterly compelling, addictive storytelling at its best, where you are absolutely drawn into the world they inhabit and feel every last emotion right along with them. There is a mystery element added in here as a young girl goes missing, this is interwoven into the narrative giving it a certain anchor and an extra frission to the whole thing.
The ebb and flow of all the friendships, family and otherwise, is elegantly done and often very emotive, but always authentic and believable – Trademark Lauren Oliver and what we have come to expect from her. I knew I would love it and I did. However…
The resolution and ultimate outcome made me shake my head. Not because it wasnt realistic or because it was badly done in any sense of the word, but because it is so so predictable and becoming a bit of a cliche. Everybody seems to be doing it. I had my suspicions quite early on, I’m not entirely sure that Ms Oliver attempted to hide anything within the narrative, but I have to say I was hoping to be wrong because truly I (personally speaking) am bored with this particular plot twist. For me the relationship between Nick and Dara deserved more. Of course having said that, this was not my story to tell.
As it turns out I was still left feeling emotionally wrung out, a tear in my eye and looking back on the whole story with a hint of nostalgia despite, not because of, the ending to the whole affair. Overall then still an emotive, wonderfully written and utterly compelling coming of age story that I would still have no hesitation recommending. 4* not 5* though – a very subjective rating.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Hodder Paperbacks
Once there were virtues in the stars and mermaids in the seas; but then a gift was lost, and all of that became no more than the stuff of fantasy. What if it came back? Everyone tells fifteen-year-old Gavin that the things he sees aren’t really there. He hardly believes himself any more.
I read this a while ago and am only just getting around to writing a review – but I loved it – such a great story.
There is a touch of the “old school” fairytale about this one – Gavin being an excellent protagonist who stumbles through some rather strange happenings and captures your heart. If Agatha Christie were to write Young Adult Fantasy I think this is pretty much how it would read – beautiful writing, sense of place and world building with a charming and often witty prose plus some terrific characters.
It is steeped in mythology and we have two timelines to follow that eventually merge – it is cleverly constructed whilst keeping its other worldly charm firmly in place. As the tales intertwine and we move backwards and forwards it is fascinating and compelling – a magical story about magic returning.
A gorgeous story with a modern twist, I recommend this for anyone who loves a darn good yarn that you can lose yourself in for a couple of hours and emerge from smiling.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: May 2015 from Katherine Tegan Books
Source: Author Review Copy.
The good girl, the bad boy, the diva, the hustler, the rock star, and the nerd. Six teens legally liberated from parental control for six different reasons, all with one thing in common: something to hide.
Now they’re sharing a house in Venice Beach, acting like a family, and living their lies. No parents. No limits. No alibis. One witnessed a crime, another might be a murderer—and one’s been spying on them all.
Interesting and intriguing tale this one – a mix of teen drama and mystery it was very readable and often compelling.
An eclectic mix of kids share a house, all emancipated from their parents and responsible for themselves for varying reasons, on the surface they are pretty normal teenagers. Underneath though they all hide secrets and not everything will go to plan.
There is a lovely flowing style to the narrative and I was engaged with every one of the characters – the underlying mystery is well drawn, I loved the ebb and flow of the relationships within the house and the underlying sense of dread that something bad is coming for at least one and maybe all of them.
It is sort of “glossy” I can easily imagine this as one of those extremely popular teen television shows, the story lends itself well to adaptation, but is still written as a darn good yarn that will keep you turning the pages.
Overall a great read – and it seems there is more to come for this bunch of teens and I for one will look forward to catching up with them.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Feb 12th 2015 from Corgi Childrens.
The night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honor. As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world. And she’ll be with the boy she loves–who’s also her best friend.
A pleasant and enjoyable read, but it does take a while to get going and I felt that the background could have had a little more depth to it overall, something I hope will happen in Book 2 which I do intend to read. The world building is intriguing, especially the locations but the reasoning behind things is a little unclear.
Quin is an interesting character, I liked how the author blurs the lines between good and evil – I sympathised more with others than I did with Quin – I thought however that the character arcs and interacting stories were done very well, better than the background which was murky at best. Things are not terribly well explained, left a lot unanswered, and the reader is left to infer things rather than know things, there are missing pieces of the puzzle and it is occasionally a little disjointed.
In a way I think this is very much a “scene setting” book – one that will then lead on to more real depth of mythology and of storyline. There is a spark of something excellent here but if I had to describe it I would say it read as one long prologue. This is not necessarily a bad thing, certainly I want to read the next novel in the series, my main feeling on this one is that it is well written but has some distinctive plot holes that occasionally left me floundering.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 30th December 2014 from Alloy
Until a month ago, eighteen-year-old Ven had never set foot outside the windowless warehouse where she was created. An Imitation of Raven Rogen, Ven spent her days confined in the lab, studying videos of her Authentic, all so she could step into Raven’s life at a moment’s notice. Now, Ven lives in Raven’s penthouse apartment, kisses Raven’s boyfriend, and obeys every order from Raven’s dad, Titus Rogen—the very man who created her. But Ven has a secret plan. She doesn’t want Raven’s life. She wants her own.
So the second book in the Imitation series – I adored the first one it was such a fun yet often emotive read and Ven was a character I fell in love with – so I was very much looking forward to this one and it did not disappoint.
Ven is now living as Raven, seemingly co-operating with Titus but secretly seeking to undermine him and everything he stands for. Walking a tightrope, facing danger at every turn, this is compelling stuff as she tries to change a world, find her sense of self and keep her relationships on the straight and narrow.
It is an interesting mythology that Heather Hildenbrand has created here – and with part two she has extended and added new depth to it as characters old and new come to the forefront, each with their own agenda, the interpersonal relationships are brilliantly drawn and some intriguing and fascinating themes are explored here, overall it is a tremendously good read.
As things twist and turn towards a conclusion that literally made me yell out loud, darn it, the whole thing is engaging on several levels, very well written and if you are a fan of YA Dystopia I would highly recommend you give these a go. I will have to have words with the author though – you really SHOULDNT do that to me. Especially when the next book seems so very far away. Sob.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 20th January 2015 from Bloomsbury Spark.
Tattoos once were an act of rebellion.
Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin.
And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can’t escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice.
My love of all things YA led me to this one, I wasnt sure what to expect exactly but what I found was a wonderful read, highly enjoyable, something a little bit different and a great start to what I assume (hope) will be a series, as I definitely want more.
Caenum is due to get his Ink – a magical type of tattoo that defines your entire existence moving forward. He is not really that keen on this idea, but before he can run an unexpected set of events catapults him into a battle he is unprepared for and leads him to discoveries that will change his life forever.
There is a beautiful simplicity to the writing of this, gorgeous prose telling a magical tale and it was a real page turner – Eric Smith sets the scene delightfully and there are some wonderful characters to follow along with, some terrific world building and a real sense of an epic to come. There are thrills and spills, a touch of romance and an almost road movie feel to the whole thing, I really did enjoy the reading experience a great deal.
As a starting point this was cleverly done – I very much liked the idea of a Tattoo that “breathes” and changes, becoming part of you and giving focus, not always the focus you would like. The dystopian element is well drawn, the overseers of this world very much wanting everyone in their place and it makes for an excellent adventure overall.
Terrific stuff. Can’t wait to find out what happens next!
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 15th January 2015 from Orion.
Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.
Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
This is my first novel from Holly Black – although I have heard good things about “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” – and I loved it. A beautifully twisted fairy tale, easily readable and intriguing for the young and old alike (not THAT young, this is not for children!) and the author has a beautiful turn of phrase and descriptive way of writing that draws you in.
I really liked how it was seemingly set in the modern world, although that is not specific, yet feels like you are in some far off land where everything is magical. In a lot of ways Ben and Hazel live a mundane life but there is nothing mundane about the place in which they live, nor, upon closer inspection, are they your standard teenagers. The drawing of a line between typical teenage behaviour (kissing boys, parties, school and friends) and the external pressure that comes with living in Fairfold (the boy in the casket in the woods, the need to be careful what you wish for) is so cleverly written that the whole thing feels as real as you like.
In a lot of ways it is a story about growing up and the responsibilites this brings, set in a world where normal behaviour can have abnormal consequences – it is very well drawn, all the characters are elegantly written, the tale weaves itself out of the various myths and legends that surround us, I really did find it highly enjoyable on every level.
Overall then a terrific book – it has certainly encouraged me to try more from Holly Black and I would recommend it for Young Adults and Adults who have a love of the mythological.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now.
Everyone wants to either be a member of the Guild or work for them. Little does the populace know that the Guild hides sinister secrets…
I’ll start off by being honest and saying that I would never have picked up this book in the normal run of things, despite it being in one of my preferred genres, probably because being self published, I didnt get shouted at by people. Then one day one of my Goodreads friends gave it a pretty glowing review and I thought it sounded intriguing – so I tracked it down on Netgalley and my thanks to the author for approving me – because it really was extremely good.
We meet Tate Sullivan as she is about to go for her test to see if she can become a water bearer for the guild – something that people aspire to for a better life – when unexpectedly she passes, her life is thrown into turmoil as she faces a hidden enemy and a battle for her mind and body.
Now you might think that this “test at a certain age to determine the rest of your life” thing has been done to death in YA but Shawntelle Madison manages to breathe some new life into it and lets be honest, its a GREAT jumping off point for all sorts of wonderful stories and she has utilised this in a brilliantly entertaining way. It helps of course that as well as being a great premise, there are some strong leading characters and very decent worldbuilding to give this series a great start.
Tate is a beautifully drawn character – so very very normal. Nothing particularly special about her, when she goes to take the test she fully expects to be home again within a short while, so when things go wrong her reactions and how she develops over the course of the story feel real, even set in an unreal world. The idea of immortality gained by jumping from one body to another is not new, but in this case it is done with great flair, seeing it as we do from the point of view of someone who is losing themselves to another personality. The inner struggle is well described and the outer battles are just as fascinating so overall it makes for an excellent read.
The “must have” love story is in there as well but again done very well – I especially liked how it was a slow burner, didnt really get mired in unneccesary details and really just set things up nicely – the romantic angle of the tale stayed true to the rest in that way, became a part of the whole rather than the reason for it. I was very fond of our “bad guy” General Dagon, he is deliciously evil and again, very well imagined.
Overall then a well written, fun adventure that will definitely appeal to its target audience, manages to avoid being cliched and is also happily readable for an adult audience as well. Recommended for fans of YA/Dystopia.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: January 29th 2015 from Simon and Schuster.
This characteristically powerful novel follows eighteen-year-old Cody Reynolds in the months following her best friend’s shocking suicide.
As Cody numbly searches for answers as to why Meg took her own life, she begins a journey of self-discovery which takes her to a terrifying precipice, and forces her to question not only her relationship with the Meg she thought she knew, but her own understanding of life, love, death and forgiveness.
Ok, so I’ve read a couple of books lately that deal with some emotive issues – the absolutely mind blowing “All the Bright Places” and the pretty darn good “Unspeakable”. So I thought “I Was Here” might further explore some important themes and give me another tug on the old heart strings. And it kind of did, yet kind of didnt. I should say this is the first novel from Gayle Forman that I have read – I have seen the film of her novel “If I Stay” and I loved it, so I think I’m possibly just vaguely disappointed.
To be clear, Ms Forman writes beautifully. There is a good flow to the tale, I was definitely interested enough to find out how Cody got on, learning to live without her best friend and struggling with survivor guilt. But I never really felt terribly emotionally involved with the characters. If anything I found it to be more teen romance than anything else, and subjectively I found that it all seemed to be leading to a “happily ever after” scenario with the leading man, with the suicide issue kind of just a plot device, rather than the romance being secondary to the other. Which for me would have been better. Not sure if that makes sense!
The parts of the plot that did deal with the emotional fallout were very well done – in fact for me the ending was the best part, when Meg’s parents finally told Cody some things they should have told her in the first place (although to be fair then nothing much else would have needed to happen and Cody would never have met Ben!) when they finally said a proper goodbye to Meg, that last few paragraphs resonated with me more than the entire rest of the book. The best character in it for me was Meg’s brother actually, who seemed, even as a peripheral character and a young one at that, to be much more tuned into the issues.
I also found the relationship between Cody and her mother to be very well drawn and authentic – that was an absolute plus point and I loved how it developed over the course of the book. But realistically it left me slightly underwhelmed. I’m a huge fan of Young Adult Literature – in the case of “I Was Here” I would say that the target audience will lap it up and it is a good story for sure, but for me personally as an adult fan of YA it didnt quite live up to the promise, nor to the plethora of brilliant novels out there in the genre.
Well written as I said just simply not one that particularly made me go “ooh”.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Feb 5th 2015 from Little Brown/Atom
Megan doesn’t speak. She hasn’t spoken in months.
Pushing away the people she cares about is just a small price to pay. Because there are things locked inside Megan’s head – things that are screaming to be heard – that she cannot, must not, let out.
Then Jasmine starts at school: bubbly, beautiful, talkative Jasmine. And for reasons Megan can’t quite understand, life starts to look a bit brighter.
Megan would love to speak again, and it seems like Jasmine might be the answer. But if she finds her voice, will she lose everything else?
This is one of those novels which once started, demands to be finished – Megan’s story is compelling, emotional and extremely well told, utterly gripping and very beautiful . A tale which has many layers richly woven into the plot, dealing with some important issues in a sympathetic and intelligent manner, I could barely put it down.
The opening chapter sucks you in immediately, a masterclass in scene setting, introducing Megan, a girl who does not, cannot speak. As the tale unfolds we learn more about why – the loss of her best friend has caused a break in her and there are things about that time that she feels she cannot tell, therefore it is easier to simply say nothing at all. Enter Jasmine, who never shuts up, is gorgeously magnificently alive and slowly but surely things start to change.
It is important not to give too much away I think. Ms Rushton has written a stunning coming of age tale, a story of grief and loss and one girl’s handling of a tough unimaginable situation – how she moves on from that is completely fascinating, emotionally resonant and completely authentic. Growing up is never easy, parental relationships, friendships old and new, sexual awakening, all of those things are hard throughout the teenage years and this is captured here in one girl who you will come to care about and be rooting for all the way.
Despite, or perhaps because of the fact that she is not always likeable – often making obscure decisions, sometimes sulky and even more unreachable – Megan will sink into your psyche as will the people around her, it is one addictive tale for sure. It is clever that there is a small mystery element to the whole as well – just what is it that Megan feels she cannot say – it just adds to the whole thing beautifully.
Some emotional subjects sensitively handled in a way that will surely help inform and reassure, mixed up in a haunting tale of love and loss, this is a book that not only demands to be finished once started but demands to be read in the first place.
I don’t want to say anymore really. Highly Recommended. For anyone.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 1st December from Harlequin UK
For the past two months, Kitty Doe’s life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate the Prime Minister’s niece, her frustration grows as her trust in her fake fiancé cracks, her real boyfriend is forbidden and the Blackcoats keep her in the dark more than ever.
But in the midst of discovering that her role in the Hart family may not be as coincidental as she thought, she’s accused of treason and is forced to face her greatest fear: Elsewhere. A prison where no one can escape.
So here we are at last (been waiting for this one!) the second chapter in the “Blackcoat Rebellion” series from Aimee Carter (Book One: Pawn: Available now) and I have to say the action and adventure stepped up a notch in this one and I absolutely enjoyed it.
Kitty is still impersonating Lila Hart but something goes terribly wrong and she is betrayed by someone she trusted – thrust into “Elsewhere” with no hope of escape, she struggles to hold on to reasons to continue fighting.
I thought Kitty really came into her own here – In “Pawn” I really liked the fact that she was seemingly quite selfish, everything she does to try and change the unfairness of the world she does through lack of choice rather than because she feels heroic, which to be fair is a quite realistic reason to be doing things – but here, stuck in a dangerous and horrific situation, she starts to show a lot more depth of character, especially over the course of the story. As far as character development goes Ms Carter has it spot on, by the time I had finished reading this I was behind Kitty all the way – and I can’t wait again now to find out what is next.
The mythology also deepens, the world building expanded beautifully giving us a lot more information on the people and the places. There are lots of little twists and turns to keep you on your toes, some very emotional moments and some nice misdirection when it comes to character motivations. Overall a really fun, fast, flowing read that adds to the tale being told and sets you up nicely for Book 3. Great stuff.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: (Sorry anyone who’s dying to read this!) March 26th 2015 From Orion
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?
Another new YA series and one that has had a lot of buzz in the book community, I was dying to get into it as I am a real sucker for this type of tale – The Hunger Games, Divergent, and the rest – all highly entertaining, terrific fun to read and often thought provoking and intriguing. So how did “Red Queen” measure up?
Well personally I loved it. Adored it even. The truth is, it is not unique. Some tried and tested plot devices are here – The evil dictatorship, the downtrodden portion of society, one girl, a heroine in the making who gets embroiled in it all, a love triangle, plenty of action and adventure and everything else you expect from this genre. But there is a reason why this sort of novel tends to do well, it is because it works when done right – and Victoria Aveyard for me, did it absolutely right. Spot on.
So we have Mare, a terrific character and one you can get behind immediately – she knows that the world is not fair but never dreams that she could do anything about it – until a chance meeting and an inadvertant discovery throws her right into the centre of the turmoil – isolated from everything she has ever known, she must fight for her survival and that of everyone she loves.
Some brilliantly inventive world building and some truly great characters are what made this for me. Mare is a perfect main protagonist, those surrounding her are terrifically well drawn and often mysterious and Ms Aveyard manages to make it all the most tremendous fun, very addictive, definitely thought provoking at times and occasionally very emotional. I would say this book takes the saying “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” and turns that into a rollercoaster ride of a read – definitely gets the heart going on more than one occasion.
I liked that the romance angle is low key and does not intrude unneccesarily into the action and adventure portion of the plot – it was also for me, very believable – Mare is not one of those fainting over good looks girls that can be very annoying, she is focussed on the problems at hand. The themes woven into the story of family ties, parental influence and self image are cleverly done, along with the idea’s of subjugation and servitude for those who are considered “less than” in the society created. All tried and tested themes as I said, but in this case written with flair and its own little flourish which makes this eminently readable and entirely its own thing.
Motivations are murky, not everyone is as they appear, the plot twists and turns its way to an amazingly thrilling conclusion that sets the reader up for the sequel with pitch perfect delicacy and this is one of those times that I REALLy wish I hadnt read it until I had book 2 in my hands – Lovers of YA Dystopian fantasy everywhere will know exactly what I mean.
There are comparisons to be drawn to other YA series, so whether or not you love this one will absolutely be subjective – but this reader enjoyed every last minute of it and found a lot to love. Roll on book 2 – as soon as possible!
Highly Recommended for fans of YA Dystopia and Fantasy.
Happy Reading Folks.
Publication Date: Available now from Spencer Hill Press.
The truth won’t always set you free.
Less than a year ago, Neely Ambrose’s biggest worry was having the freedom to follow a path that wasn’t chosen for her.
Less than a year ago, she believed she could trust the Elders who said they had everyone’s best interest at heart and who said they were keeping them safe from the outside.
Sixty days ago, she discovered what they had planned for everyone she loved—and that all of it centered around her.
One of my favourite things to do is start a new YA series – and “Follow me through Darkness” by Danielle Ellison turned out to be one of the best for me of the last year, extremely readable, very well constructed and some great characters to follow along with.
When we first meet Neely she is on a journey through a dark underground tunnel and the story immediately draws you in, making you eager to find out what she is doing there and why. Using present time and flashback to various times in her life a picture slowly starts to build of life in a compound, protected from the outside ravaged world, yet hinting that the greatest danger may well lie within…
There are various levels to the tale, it is definitely an adventure, kind of a YA Road movie in novel form, as we follow Neely on her travels – there is also romance and intrigue and some particularly excellent world building that will keep you turning the pages, indeed I read the first half of this in one sitting.
The tension slowly building, as the clock counts down (you’ll have to read to find out why), it flows along at a pitch perfect pace giving you hints of what is to come – and the ending will leave you wanting more immediately.
One thing I did REALLY like about this one was the romance angle, which can be fairly generic in tales of this kind. In this case however, whilst Danielle Ellison has given us the YA “love triangle” in one sense, she has put a little twist on it that gave it a definite edge for me and made it much more engaging and fascinating overall.
Well written and addictive, I would definitely highly recommend this for fans of the YA Dystopia genre.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Hodder Paperbacks
No one has set foot on Earth in centuries — until now.
It’s been 21 days since the hundred landed on Earth. They’re the only humans to set foot on the planet in centuries…or so they thought. Facing an unknown enemy, Wells attempts to keep the group together. Clarke strikes out for Mount Weather, in search of other Colonists, while Bellamy is determined to rescue his sister, no matter the cost.
So here we are on the second book of “The 100” series, recently made into a popular tv show by The CW and with this one I felt the story really got going – I found it much more addictive than book one (although that was also very good) the characters now being known to me and Kass Morgan adding more depth to the mythology, making it highly intriguing.
Down on earth, having realised they are not alone, our various protagonists struggle to make sense of the new situation they find themselves in – I especially liked how the Clarke/Wells/Bellamy relationship ebbed and flowed, that story arc becoming much more solid with the introduction of new characters and locations. Meanwhile up in space, Glass is having problems all of her own and time is running out for those remaining, leading to some difficult decisions being made. In a way the themes explored up above are far more fascinating for an adult reader than what is happening on the ground – just how far would you go to ensure the survival of the human race – but added to the struggles of the youngsters down on Earth it all comes together extremely well.
Once again the ending leaves you wanting more, overall it is a great little read for fans of YA with plenty of action, some romance and some clever little twists and turns that keep you turning the pages. I am definitely “with” this series now and am very much looking forward to finding out what happens next. It has also tempted me to return to the tv version as I’m aware this is somewhat different from the novels, which might make for some interesting comparisons.
Definitely coming into its own “The 100” series I believe, can only get stronger.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now from Alloy Entertainment.
Everyone is exactly like me. There is no one like me.
Ven wrestles with these contradicting truths every day. A clone of wealthy eighteen-year-old Raven Rogen, Ven knows everything about the girl she was created to serve: the clothes she wears, the boys she loves, the friends she loves to hate. Yet she’s never met the Authentic Raven face-to-face. Imitations like Ven only get to leave the lab when they’re needed—to replace a dead Authentic, donate an organ, or complete a specific mission. And Raven has never needed Ven . . . until now.
So here we go with another start to a YA series for me to get my teeth into – first thing that has to be said is I adore that cover. Yes I know it has little to do with how good the book is but it is what made me want to read it originally so is worth a mention. One of those books I shall definitely be wanting a finished copy of for my shelf…
We meet Ven, who lives in Twig City, she was not born, but created, as a double for her “authentic” Raven who lives in the “real” world. Ven’s job at the moment is to live quietly whilst keeping up with Raven’s life, watching how she moves, dresses, interacts with others and be ready to jump in at a moments notice. Aware that she may simply end up being an organ donor and is not considered to be human, Ven struggles with her own self image and importance. When the time comes for her to take Raven’s place for a while, she is both scared and elated to be heading out into life despite the fact that she will never return..
I really really enjoyed this one, it was beautifully written and compelling. Ok there are some standard YA tropes here – Instant love and attraction, a not quite new story and the occasional pretty generic filler character – but lets face it, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The author also manages however to bring a fresh feel to the narrative and to explore some meaningful themes, and mix it up into an adventurous dystopian tale that will have you avidly turning the pages to find out what happens next.
Ven is interesting – she is thrust into a world where she doesnt know who to trust, where political motivations remain unclear and is expected to serve her purpose without a fuss. As she gets more used to life in the real world and begins to really question what is going on around her, it is extremely addictive stuff. As a “part one” it is perfectly constructed, giving the reader a chance to absorb the world created and the people in it, setting up the next part (which I really am looking forward to) yet still giving a highly satisfactory finish.
I found the “Imitation” theme extremely fascinating – the moral and ethical implications of carbon copy humans created solely for the benefit of their counterparts are well explored here, leaving room for you to draw your own conclusions and I will be interested to see where the author takes it next, having left the characters where she did. Really very good indeed, yet easy to read and flowing beautifully along.
Overall an excellent start. Roll on part two!
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now from Simon and Schuster.
Source: Purchased Copy
Tally can’t wait to turn sixteen and become pretty. Sixteen is the magic number that brings a transformation from repellent Ugly into a stunningly attractive Pretty, and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks, Tally will be there.
But Tally’s new friend, Shay, isn’t sure she wants to be Pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the Pretty world – and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn Pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.
I read “Afterworlds” recently, the new novel coming soon (Sept 25th 2014) from Scott Westerfeld and enjoyed it so much that I basically went out and purchased his backlist. I started here with “Uglies” the first part of a trilogy, set in a dystopian future world where looks are everything. Or are they?
In the world that Tally lives in, a world devastated by we are not sure what, when you turn 16 you are operated on and turned “Pretty”. All flaws are removed, your features are changed and you become fairly generically beautiful. After which you go to one long life party. Sounds fantastic right? Yeah, well not so much perhaps….
When Tally meets Shay and finds out there is a whole world out there she knew nothing about, she is torn between two lives and ends up having to make some devastating decisions. And therein lies the beauty (yes that was on purpose) of this story.
The thing about “Uglies” is that so much of it could come to pass – in a world where everyone looks the same, supposedly no-one will fight over differences. When you are spending your time drinking eating and being merry, you do not think too much about how controlled your life actually is, how every decision has been made for you. I liked the exploration of that idea, the standard YA premise of a government that controls the masses to their own ends but with a great take on it and a depth that was very entertaining and often fascinating.
In this particular case it is the strength of the characterisation that made it for me. Tally is horrifically shallow when we first meet her, and she struggles with the concept that beauty cannot be defined by how far apart your eyes are, or your body mass or anything else. She rejects it utterly, is fully supportive of the rules of her society and is not immediately persuaded that there could be a different way to live. She simply cannot imagine ANYONE not wanting to turn Pretty. Shay is a perfect foil for this inner turmoil, she wants to choose her own destiny, but as things move forward you may find yourself wondering which of the pair is actually the shallow one, a clever little twist on the original premise. Add to these various supporting characters both within the world of the “Uglies” and outside of it and there are some really intriguing themes explored here.
Putting all that aside, it is also a terrific adventure, a really run read, the world building is subtle and forms around the characters rather than the other way around and there are some surprising moments that make you stop for a while and ponder. The story flows extremely well, and the ending will leave you looking forward to “Pretties” the next in the trilogy and one that I shall certainly be onto as soon as time allows.
Highly Recommended for fans of YA Dystopia, both teenagers and adults, there is something for everyone.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now from Hodder Paperbacks (UK)/Little Brown for young readers (U.S.)
In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth’s toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland… before it’s too late.
Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they’ve only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they’re haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust – and even love – again.
So this has recently been made into a hugely popular tv show – sadly I could not get on with it, too many beautiful people considering what was supposed to have happened to them and, well you know, real life not everyone has perfect hair (especially not just after they have crashed to earth in a rather clunky spaceship!). BUT the premise sounded fabulous and so I thought I would read the novel and I have to say, for me, that was a MUCH better plan.
Now whilst this is not the best YA I have read in terms of world building and character depth it IS highly entertaining, flows along at a great pace,has a good mixture of past and present so you know what is going on and why, and has a group of eclectic characters which come across much better on the page than they did on the screen.
Humans live in space now, Earth being too toxic due to radiation, but this cannot go on indefinitely, there are not enough resources. This means that having children is limited, and really the slightest excuse is used to execute any inhabitant and therefore reserve more food and oxygen for everyone else. Young people who are “confined” for a crime are not executed until they are 18 (for some reason that didnt really make much sense but hey, dramatic license and all) and are supposedly offered the chance of a pardon. A decision is taken, instead of executing them, that they will be sent to Earth to see if it is liveable. And so their adventure begins..
As far as characterisation goes, I really liked a lot of this story – most especially the relationship between Bellamy and Octavia, a rare brother and sister pairing. Something is off about Octavia but Bellamy has spent his whole life protecting her and is not about to stop now. I also loved Clarke, the closest thing the group have to a Doctor and very practical she makes a good “grounded” character to offshoot everyone else. I was not so keen on the Clarke/Wells dynamic could have done without it really – their whole relationship is a bit namby pamby and often illogical, I hope that in the next instalment it has a bit more “bite” to it. Add to those mentioned a fair few other supporting characters, and Glass who is still up in space and you have a decent mix of differing personalities to make the tale interesting.
The world building is fairly simple but this does allow the prose to flow well, I felt this was really a set up for future novels in the series. There is some description of how the “space station” works and how Earth is now, enough to give a background but not overly complicated. For the story being told it was enough, as an avid YA reader I would have perhaps liked a little more. But then at 45 I’m probably not the target audience!
The ending was WHAT?? Don’t stop there! And it kind of made the whole thing for me. I shall be reading onwards because I was engaged and really did enjoy it.
A solid if not spectacular start to a presumed ongoing series.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now from Templar Publishing.
Source: Purchased Copy.
Every year, the United Commonwealth invites top graduates from each colony to participate in The Testing. Successful candidates will go on to the University and help the government work to rebuild our war-stricken world. This process is not optional.
Disclaimer: The United Commonwealth is not responsible for candidates’ psychological or physical heath during The Testing.
So, sounds a bit Hunger Games right? Well yes, and it will suffer the inevitable comparison, and there are some similarities in the premise, but here’s my thing. I don’t care about that if I enjoy a book, find someone to root for, become engaged with the story and at the end am really keen to read more. All of which happened with “The Testing”.
We meet Cia, about to leave school and REALLY hoping to be chosen for “The Testing” – a series of exams and tests that are only taken by the brightest and the best from the varying communities, in the hopes of gaining a University place and training to help rebuild a world devastated by war. Wishing to follow in her fathers footsteps, a university graduate himself, she cannot understand his reluctance…but as events unfold she realises that things are not as they first appear.
I found this very refreshing actually – a great little take on , lets face it, a done to death dystopian tale – in this instance with some terrific characters and a truly addictive storyline and enough of a unique spin to make it stand out. The world building is clever – some adept and not unbelievable history behind the way things are for Cia and descriptively speaking some wonderful prose which brought the whole thing to life and made it easy to imagine the places she inhabits.
Things I REALLY liked – There is a romance angle but it is low key, not detracting from the action and realistically placed. Cia herself has a great depth of character – she has a way of lateral thinking that appealed to me and made me believe that she could overcome all hurdles. Love interest Tomas has an edge to him, a slight sense of danger as if you are not quite sure what he may do even though really he is as nice as pie. The Testing itself is intelligently drawn – with some good mystery angles as to what it is REALLY all for and some truly edge of the seat moments – Ms Charbonneau is not adverse to suddenly pulling the rug out from under your feet when it comes to characters you are fond of so beware!
Things I want more of: Zeen. Zeen please. Cia’s brother was perhaps the character that intrigued me the most. He provides a bit of a cameo function in this first novel as Cia leaves him behind at home when she embarks on The Testing – but the author has certainly made the promise with his mini role that there is more and better to come. Likewise with her Father – there is a definite frisson and feeling that there is a lot more to learn about this family and whilst I do not know what is coming next, those items are firmly on my wishlist.
Overall then a terrific read. Engaging, sometimes emotional, often thrilling and very very cool. I look forward to Book 2 with great interest – it will be coming up on my reading list soon.
Recommended for: Fans of YA Dystopia whatever your age and if you loved The Hunger Games I think this will satisfy.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now from Headline
New Orleans is under attack from a copycat who is mimicking the crimes of a serial killer who terrorized the streets almost a century earlier. Drusilla Jaco could happily live without the advances of the 200-year-old undead pirate Jean Lafitte, but through him DJ learns the terrible truth: this is no copycat – someone has resurrected the original Axeman of New Orleans. And to make matters worse, the attacks aren’t random at all. He’s after her.
The first thing to say is that when I requested this book I did not realise that it was part of an ongoing series (pay attention Liz!) but I decided to dive in anyway and it did not really matter at all although there are quite strong links to the previous two so I would recommend reading those first (Royal Street followed by River Road) – I am, for sure, going to purchase and read those as soon as possible.
Highly entertaining this one – definitely some of the best Urban Fantasy I’ve read for a while, a heck of a reading pace with some wonderfully eclectic characters and a strong intelligent storyline that hooked me in immediately. Also the second novel I’ve read lately that involves the mythology of The Axeman of New Orleans, in this case done in a very different way but just as compelling and I have to say that kind of made the book for me and gave me an anchor.
The world building is fantastic, even taking into consideration that I”ve obviously missed some important aspects, I loved the mix of magic and twisty turny plotline which gave the whole thing a definite edge over some of the other series out there. Ms Johnson’s writing is sublimely addictive, I rattled through the whole thing in one reading session and enjoyed every last moment. I am extremely fond of Drusilla Jaco, did not take her long to make it onto my favourite character list. VERY much looking forward to taking a journey back in time and then, hopefully, forward. More please.
Happy Reading Folks!
No NO NO NO!!!! Really people are still writing THAT ending into books? I thought as much about halfway through but thought, nah, no-one is that cliched these days. Pfft. The writing was good, I liked the majority of the tale in a way and it flowed well. But NO why do that when you can write so well? VERY disappointing. Plus all the characters where spoiled rich kids whatever their age who thought the world owed them a living. Couldnt really care much in the end. I tried. I’m rambling but I hate a book thats so well written but still resorts to cliche. Pah.
NB: Marmite book. The next reader may love it. Above is my gut reaction.
Publication Date: Available Now.
Source: Review copy provided by the author.
Dexter sets himself a Season’s Goal. To persuade Spanish idol, Fabio, to become his coach. By the end of the season. Slight problem. Fabio’s still playing professional football every week. And has never even heard of, top scorer for his team, Dexter.
Dexter also has a Life Goal. To become a Super League Football Star. By the age of sixteen. Just like his idol.
Spurred on by best mate, Mikey. Desperate to beat arch rival, Taylor Bradley. Dexter strives to achieve his goals. His Journal brims with exciting twists and turns of events – both on and off the pitch! But will Dexter succeed with any of his goals?
Suitable for 8+
Review by Joshua Jackson
Young boys dream of playing surrounded by the elite while earning big and living in luxury, competing in the ‘beautiful game’. Dexter’s Football Journal encapsulates this optimistic ambition into a novel that will help quench the football thirst of young fans with a fun, imaginative and joyful footy adventure that is worth reading despite some noticeable shortcomings.
Dexter is a young football obsessed boy, with aspirations of competing in the fictional football league the ’Super League’ alongside his football ideal Fabio, however he envisages Fabio as a father figure and is confident that he will become his fulltime coach and ensure he is propelled to professional status.
The premise is similar to many boys fantasies and could result in a dull and monotonous tale of family life, however the diary format employed allows the boring segments to bypassed and with each entry beginning with football facts and goals for the character, the book ensures it isn’t bogged down in pointless segments simply added for continuity. However despite it keeping a fast pace it lacks many slower segments that, infrequently used, can add more complexity to the flow, that allows the fast paced football action to become more impactful thanks to slower and shorter emotional segments. The writing itself is of a high calibre with an excellent mix of complex language tools and sentences that still retain a childlike vibe, this is something many children’s authors fail to fully grasp, and it is amazing to see a book that has writing that will appeal to younger children however still retains a structure older readers can appreciate.
The story itself, though short, is well structured with subtle touches that help tie together events and keep the story realistic and believable though keeps a noticeable element of childhood imagination. Despite not having a very big interest in football the book gripped me in football segments and this is another display of the fluid enticing writing drawing the reader in. Primary characters are a more mixed subject, the protagonist is well developed and his emotions make an impact, however many secondary characters are woefully underdeveloped and emotional events that I felt I should have cared about were lacklustre and some I was unsure of the role that played in the plot and their presence unnecessary and small attempts to include them in the story felt lacklustre and a reduced role, further more extensive development or the complete absence from the story would have greatly improved the story.
This tale football tale isn’t without faults, however an impressive writing style and robust story make it an ideal read for young football fans, the relatable protagonist will only improve the package that will inspire, intrigue and entertain young football lovers though some more complex failings may cause some more mature readers to leave slightly underwhelmed.
Publication Date: Available now from Hot Key Books.
Source: Purchased copy.
Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of ‘Bloody Mary’: say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear… But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?
A little while ago I read “Cruel Summer” from this author and adored it, the best fun I’ve had with a book in ages, being a horror movie geek of the highest order and never before being able to get that same feeling from a novel. Now I’ve read “Say her Name” I am admittedly a little bit of a James Dawson fangirl. Yes yes ok I’m middle aged and supposed to be all grown up and stuff but really, who needs that kind of stress in their lives? Far better to remain young at heart and in action.
Say Her Name takes the legend of Bloody Mary, gives it a modern day setting, and manages to freak the life out of you whilst also making you smile wryly – I mean honestly, who would be stupid enough to stand in front of a mirror and say her name 5 times anyway? To be fair the likelihood of a ghostly being then stalking you around for a few days before dragging you off to goodness knows where is remote but YOU NEVER KNOW. Everyone who visits Crystal Lake STILL expects to get out alive as well, I mean really…Don’t these people KNOW the rules?
The little gang of teenagers in Say Her Name apparently DO know the rules but choose to ignore them. Cue a lot of very scary goings on, some absolutely terrific scene setting and a very funny and witty main character in Bobbie and you have a perfect storm. I was at turns petrified and amused, the whole thing has a brilliant flow to it and James Dawson knows exactly how to paint a picture with words, the whole thing unravels in your head like a mini movie – for me, Mary took on the image of that chilling girl from “The Ring” who crawls out of the television to kill you horribly – If my bed wasnt a divan I would have been hiding underneath it, reading via torchlight like a child, and jumping at shadows. As it was my axe proof duvet had to suffice.
The author takes the horror movie stereotypes and gives them a little twist and a litte turn, adds a lot of energy to the proceedings with his wry eye to the ironic and has written a frightening, chilling and clever tale that will spook you and curdle your blood. Oh and a marvellous ending. Loved it. More please.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now from Usborne.
Source: Purchased Copy.
Three years ago, thirteen-year-old Danny Geller vanished without trace.
His family and friends are still hanging on to every last shred of hope. Not knowing if he’s alive or dead, their world is shrouded in shadows, secrets and suspicions.
This is the story of what happens when hope comes back to haunt you. When your desperation is used against you. When you search for the truth – but are too scared to accept the reality staring you in the face…
An absolutely brilliant psychological thriller come family drama, based apparently on a real life case which I shall have to track down, we follow Hannah as she tries to come to terms with the loss of her best friend having already lost her mother to a tragic accident. When Danny disappears, she is thrown into turmoil, as life becomes something very different.
I found this highly intriguing throughout, not least because Hannah herself had great depth of character, her thought processes and actions bringing into sharp focus the emotional turmoil that loss can bring – especially loss where there is no closure, no clue as to what went wrong. Even though we have an insular view of events, told as it is solely by the one person, the rest of the “cast” come alive through her eyes – her father, Danny’s parents and Sister, her friends – and she manages to make you feel her frustration as it becomes clear that secrets are being kept.
As the tale unfolds it is absolutely riveting – one of those stories that is not only thrilling but highly emotional, often upsetting but always compelling and that makes you cling on, desperate for the answers. As in life though, not everything is clear cut and often the truth we seek can hurt – another reason I found this one so fascinating, especially when it came to Danny’s mum, an amazingly complex yet captivating character.
It has a wonderful flow to it, beautifully written to keep you on your toes, totally character driven with a real poignant feel that puts you in the moment, I can certainly recommend this for anyone who loves a twisty tale with heart and soul.
Happy Reading Folks!
Available Now from St Martins Griffin.
Source: Purchased Copy
When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter’s High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?
Not so long back I was wondering out loud if there were any great writers for Young Adults that I hadnt found yet, and the daughter of my good friend and neighbour, who is an avid reader, said “Have you read Courtney Summers?” Which I had not. So I went and tracked down a copy of “This is not a Test” and was immediately hooked. If you are interested a review for that one can be found here. http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/liz-currently-loves-this-is-not-a-test-by-courtney-summers/
Following that little beauty of a story, one which made me cry big buckets of tears and had me all emotional, I stocked up on the other titles and figured I’d start with what was the debut novel “Cracked up to be” And once again, great big buckets of tears. And feeling quite emotional. This time for very different reasons but one thing is for sure, the first time was not a fluke. Ms Summers writes characters that live and breathe on the page, worm their way into your heart and cling on for dear life. Sloane still lives right here with me and now I’ve added Parker to the family – at this rate I shall have an imaginary houseful before I know it.
When we first meet Parker she simply comes across as a bit of a bitch. Withdrawn from those around her whilst still interacting with them, it is not long before you realise that she is deeply troubled. Once highly popular and with what looked like a bright future ahead of her, she is now determined to alienate everyone, including family and only tolerates school so she can graduate and get it behind her. When she meets someone she could come to care about, she faces an inner struggle that is utterly compelling and had me turning the pages well into the early hours. Just what is it that causes her such guilt that she would rather die than face it? I couldnt sleep until I discovered for myself what was going on inside this girls head.
There is an absolute beauty to the writing here, dealing with some serious issues by simply allowing the tale to be told. There is no attempt at misdirection, this is not a mystery story as such, it is a tale of one girl, an event that haunts her and how she copes. Or not as the case may be. The solution to what affects Parker’s state of mind when it comes will stop you in your tracks – even if you have guessed a great deal of it, you will still have to take a moment to imagine how anyone would “cope” with such a thing. I spent almost an hour after finishing this book going over in my head all the steps Parker had taken, all the ways she had behaved, wondering where things could have been different. But thats the thing though, in real life everyone is different. We all have our thing. And different readers will have different opinions about how much of Parker’s troubles were ingrained in the first place.
I adored it. Clever, authentic, real psychological depth and one that will give you pause for thought, I’m off to dive into “Some Girls Are”. I swear though, if Regina takes up residence I’m charging Ms Summers rent…
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 22nd July 2014 from St Martins Griffin.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via netgalley.
Welcome to Extraction testing.”
Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.
And here we are again with yet more awesome Young Adult fiction, another terrific start to what is going to be a series, and this was a fast and furiously addictive read with a heck of a lot of edge of the seat action alongside some quieter and more contemplative moments where the characters shine through. Brilliant.
Ok its true that I’m a bit of a sucker for this type of novel – my No 1 read of last year was “Red Rising” and I’m a huge Hunger Games fan, so this hit the spot very nicely for me and will definitely draw in its target audience and give them something to love. The author manages to walk the line between the “greatest hits” if you like of young adult dystopia and some new and improved idea’s then pulls it all together in a wonderful way. Well constructed and well written it was a pretty perfect start.
I was rather fond of Clem. She muddles through but always has one focus – Save Logan – and I liked that the author avoided the terrible cliche of a love triangle. There are some well known plot lines here – the test at a certain age to see where you fit in, the eden that is not as it first appears and the evil dictator who seems benevolent at first glance – but its all wrapped up in a tremendously clever premise, and I enjoyed it all thoroughly. Without giving too much away, I thought the set up was excellent to prepare us for what is to come, the ending leaves you wanting more but also completes the current tale and wraps up enough that you are satisfied. The heart of the story is intelligent and well drawn and it is a definite page turner.
Overall a great read and yep I’m on board for the whole of this series wherever it may go. There is much to discover…
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 17th July 2014 from Pan Macmillan
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via netgalley.
One minute sixteen-year-old Ruby Morris is having her first proper snog with Caspar McCloud in a hot tub, and the next she’s being bundled inside the house, dripping wet, cold and in her underwear. Not cool. As she and Caspar shiver in the kitchen, it starts to rain. They turn on the radio to hear panicked voices – ‘It’s in the rain . . . it’s in the rain . . . ‘
Well first of all before I dived into this one I read some very up/down reviews, and those really are the best kinds of novels because hey, you never know whether you are going to adore it with a passion or throw it out of the window in a fit of despair (Ok in this case it would have meant bashing the delete button on the kindle, but hey I’ve done both before!) This time? I was hooked, utterly hooked, I read the whole thing in record time, couldnt walk away, couldnt put it down and yes I loved every second.
The premise is intriguing, due to other world events, suddenly and unexpectedly the rain is lethal….eventually this leads to water itself, out of a tap, in a lake, wherever and whenever being utterly deadly. What can you do? One tiny little bug in the atmosphere and the human race is in danger of becoming extinct. Enter Ruby, one survivor, and she tells us her story.
Most of whether or not you love or hate this one will come down to how you feel about Ruby – because this book is simply her, letting it all out, with no real filter. So if you love her as I did you will be on the fiery passion side of things, if she annoys you (and its possible she will) you’ll be rolling your eyes and wishing she would get a grip.Worry about things that need worrying about in a world gone mad, rather than freaking out because dying her hair red made her look ridiculous. For me however, this added a whole level of authenticity – because while she is caught up in the middle of really awful, emotional events she is still a 16 year old girl and the heart of that comes shining through. In her determination to tell it as it is and yet avoid swearing for her mothers sake, and in her absolute resolve to get her own way in a single mindedness about where she is going. Yes, as well, in her endless ability to get distracted by pretty things and designer labels. But, and here is the thing, she saves the dogs….
As Ruby undertakes her journey, meets others along the way, pretty much bulldozes her way through and over any obstacle, she does pause to grieve, she just doesnt really think things through. I’m sure there are plenty of 16 year olds out there who would become worldly wise overnight if faced with such a thing, who would immediately drop all the teenage angst and become an adult immediately, Ruby is not one of them and for that I adored her. If you think she is shallow though think again.
As a page turner this one totally got me. There is no let up in the action really, no sooner is one hindrance out of the way, up pops another one…its a bit of a rollercoaster ride with an ending that made me extraordinarily grumpy in the best way possible. I’m definitely glaring at Ms Bergin right now. Glaring I tell you. But it was utterly brilliant. Oh and did I mention? This is set in the UK. For me that made it even better. I could see where the characters were (If I say Bristol and Clifton Suspension Bridge along with my chronic fear of heights for example) and feel their frustrations every step of the journey. It also kind of gives a more claustrophobic atmosphere to the entire tale – you know there really are only so many options.
So yep, for me, loved with a passion. For you? Who knows….give it a go, especially if you like Post Apocalyptic fiction aimed at Young Adults. What is the worst that could happen – well apart from a distinct lack of motivation to go out in the rain…just in case eh?
Happy Reading Folks!
The first thing to say, probably, is that this is one of those “Its not you its me” moments in my reading life because John Green writes well. So theres that.
But this one wasnt really for me when it got down to the nitty gritty. Despite the emotional resonance that should be present when reading a story about cancer sufferers, especially young people, I didnt really connect here at all. I kept trying, but it never really took.
It went on a bit in places, there were points when I felt that Mr Green was simply trying to put beautiful words on the page for the sake of it. At times it all felt a bit “oh I’ll make the reader cry here, but here’s a bit of humour for you” by numbers rather than letting the story flow organically
By the time I hit the last third of this book I was ready for it to be over..despite some moments where I could see the potential (when one of the characters was deteriorating in health and mind) by that time I really couldnt bring myself to care much about it. I kind of feel guilty for that.
The main problem for me is, I read a lot. Including a lot of Young Adult fiction of many kinds. And whilst I can see why this is so popular and wonder if I would have been more into it if I’d read it when I was younger, I just didnt think it was THAT good. When it comes to writing emotionally compelling young characters caught up in situations that elicit a huge heartfelt response from me, Patrick Ness and Courtney Summers do it better. By quite a wide margin.
It obviously hits the mark with a LOT of readers though. So for that reason I would still recommend that you read it for yourself. In this case I seem to be a minority opinion. But hey, when it comes to reading, we love what we love. Its just the way it is.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: May 22nd 2014 from Pan Macmillan.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy.
In the village of Martindale, hundreds of miles north of the new English capital of Windsor, sixteen-year-old Silver Blackthorn takes the Reckoning. This coming-of-age test not only decides her place in society – Elite, Member, Inter or Trog – but also determines that Silver is to become an Offering for King Victor.
But these are uncertain times and no one really knows what happens to the teenagers who disappear into Windsor Castle. Is being an Offering the privilege everyone assumes it to be, or do the walls of the castle have something to hide?
Trapped in a maze of ancient corridors, Silver finds herself in a warped world of suspicion where it is difficult to know who to trust and who to fear. The one thing Silver does know is that she must find a way out . .
So, more dystopian YA and I just can’t get enough of it especially when it is as well written and addictive as this one turned out to be – with a flowing imaginative tale of a world moved on.
We’ll get the immediate and obvious comparisons to Divergent out of the way first – yes, in this novel, when children reach a certain age, they take the “Reckoning” which puts them into one of 4 groups in society and decides their place, what type of work they will undertake, amongst other things. And that is where the similarity ends – this is very much its own tale of adventure and what an adventure it was!
Silver Blackthorn is one of only a few chosen to become an “Offering” to the King. Considered to be a high privilege, and bringing great benefits to the families of the chosen, still if you are an offering your life as you knew it is over. No-one knows the true nature of what it means as those chosen are not seen again. When Silver arrives at Windsor, and comes face to face with her King, she begins to realise that all is not well and she is going to have a fight on her hands simply to survive..
Things I loved about this one: The setting. It is in the UK and therefore all the more real to me – and also the premise for why the world is as it is now – authentic and not at all beyond the realms of possiblity. Then there is Silver herself – she’s a tomboy, a bit impulsive, fairly brave most of the time but definitely not the first choice you would necessarily make as a saviour of others. Technology is her thing – she is savvy, has taught herself everything possible, and is actually a bit of a geek. I loved her – she was a perfect “foil” for the world she inhabits and as she discovers the truth behind the propoganda, you are dragged along happily in her wake as she attempts to unravel the impossible.
There are quite a few nods to the things that “work” in this genre – the dual possible love interests (although this is very low key for the moment Silver has far to much to worry about to be thinking about boys!) the dictatorship of a seemingly benign “government” and a few characters who are not what they first appear. Its all done extremely well however and the supporting cast of characters all offset our heroine beautifully and keep you right on the journey with them.
Overall this is a great example of its kind – I DO however have a complaint. I finished this one, came out of the book daze, looked around me and realised I’d have to wait to find out what happens next. WAIT? Well we all know how good I am at THAT. Sigh. Mr Wilkinson may not be able to see me but I tell you now…I’m glaring.
Top notch. Recommended!
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 27th May from Amazon Childrens Publishing Skyscape.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via netgalley.
The isolated town of Beldon, Wisconsin, is shocked when a high school freshman’s body is found in Lake Algonquin. Just like everyone in the community, sixteen-year-old Daniel Byers believes that Emily Jackson’s death was accidental. But at her funeral, when he has a terrifying vision of her, his world begins to rip apart at the seams.
Right, so, good news bad news with this particular Young Adult novel for me. As always I’ll start with the good – the premise is intriguing, the main character easy to follow along with and its a pretty good mystery story. Very easy reading with a lovely flowing prose and the opening was immediately engrossing.
On the bad news side I felt it lacked focus and depth on the actual story, after that terrific opening and probably for the first third of the book. It kind of meanders along. There is some action and intrigue and building of the mythology, but there was also, for me, WAY too much about the football and the possible love interests. A good deal of time is taken up with “which girl will Daniel invite to the homecoming dance and hey, isnt he a great and popular football player”. I wanted to know why he was seeing dead people…and it took a while for any of that side of the story to take off.
Back to the good news – once it did take off it was pretty darn good. There are plenty of twists and turns and I was pretty gripped by the whole thing, the story wrapped up well and it was overall a satisfying reading experience.
I think this will hit the mark exactly with its target audience, no doubt about that. For Adult readers though, if you are a fan of YA fiction, you may find this a bit on the bland side. I think thats probably my main issue with it. I’m not sure how this will be a trilogy – perhaps that is the reason for the “filler” feeling at the start of the story. Having said all that I liked it enough to definitely add the next book in the series to my reading list, I am quite intrigued about where this will go next. We’ll see.
Happy Reading Folks!
Review by Joshua Jackson.
Thank you to the author for the review copy.
The poorest boy in school has just inherited £1 million. But there is a catch: If he can hold on to his cash for a whole year he will earn ten times that amount. Enter Felicity MacKenzie, the ugliest, sweatiest, vilest, cruelest, hairiest mother in the western world. When she steals her son’s money and goes on the spending spree to end all spending sprees it seems that Johnny Nothing will stay poor forever.
Heart-warming, moral guided children’s books which combine varied and effective humour with a riveting, relatable yet imaginative story aren’t common and when an excellent example of this arrives it’s shouldn’t be passed up, this is especially true for Ian Probert’s wonderful novel Johnny Nothing.
Johnny Nothing is exactly that: Nothing, two abusive parents who care little for him and a crumbling tower block is all he comes home to, however upon the reading of his isolated and antisocial uncles wills its Johnny Nothing who inherits the hefty sum of £1,000,000 along with the proposition that if he returns in one years’ time he will be given £10,000,000 provided he make a profit on his current amount. Yet a money crazed mother intent on using the money for her own personal gain means returning next year will be a challenge for Johnny.
Quick and comedic writing gives excellent characterization of the people that inhabit Johnny’s world, and each chapter broken up by the books ability to stray unknowingly however contextually away from the story. The book is clearly narrated by a witty character who adds in anecdotes while explaining the story beautifully and never requiring you to re-read the previous page due to the vague nature of previous descriptors.
The book itself has a strong sense of Roald Dahl about it and allows you to embrace your inner ten year old however the humour doesn’t lack sophistication or an appeal to adults and much of it will have adults as well as children in hysterics at the writing. However at times the humour can be lacklustre and doesn’t amuse or live up to the overall quality of the book.
Despite a few rare lapses in quality Johnny Nothing is a funny, charming and loveable book that will appeal to adults as well as the children it was written for and those wanting to rekindle a love of children’s literature.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via Netgalley.
For the teens at The Haven, the outside world, just beyond the towering stone wall that surrounds the premises, is a dangerous unknown. It has always been this way, ever since the hospital was established in the year 2020. But The Haven is more than just a hospital; it is their home. It is all they know. Everything is strictly monitored: education, exercise, food, and rest. The rules must be followed to keep the children healthy, to help control the Disease that has cast them as Terminals, the Disease that claims limbs and lungs—and memories.
Interesting one this for me – I felt that it started out a little disjointed, I couldnt quite get to grips with the characters or the world they inhabited – but once it kicked in I found it an enjoyable and often disturbing read.
Shiloh lives at The Haven – as a “terminal” she and others like her are kept away from the general public, cared for and treated, in an effort to keep them healthy. Most of the residents lack memory and drift through their days – Shiloh however seems to be able to retain more than her peers and soon begins to realise things are not as they seem.
I liked the theme of this one which I won’t go far into because of spoilers, and the characters grew on me as I read – Gideon particularly. If there was one minor negative it was that I didnt feel Shiloh carried it off so well as our main point of contact – I found the people surrounding her infinitely more interesting and it took her a while to get with the programme if you like.
Overall a pretty addictive read with a definite emotive feel to it. I especially liked the ending I have to say, it was cleverly appropriate to the rest of the book. I’m not sure if the author is intending more stories in this world, and if we will ever find out what happens to the characters next (I kind of hope so) or if she will leave it as a standalone story. Either way I would recommend it for those who enjoy good YA and Dystopian reading.
Happy Reading Folks!
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy via NetGalley.
Inside the Dome, Patridge has taken his father’s place as leader of the Pures. His struggle has led him here, intent upon bringing down the Dome from the inside, with the help of a secret resistance force. But things are not as simple from his new position of power and he finds himself tempted by his father’s words: perhaps if the world is to survive it needs the Dome – and Partridge – to rule it…
So here we are at the end of a much loved (by me) trilogy which started with the superb “Pure” and continued with “Burn”. I am terribly sad to see it go, but at the same time am extremely pleased to note that I have loved the entire thing. For different reasons in each book perhaps but there has been no falling at the last hurdle and no disappointment.
In “Burn” Julianna Baggott skilfully pulls on all the threads that have woven together this world and puts the onus firmly on her characters – what sort of a life will they choose for themselves? What will they decide is important? In that way it is somewhat different from the first two instalments, and gives it an almost perfect finish. How the previous events affect them, their judgement, their life choices, in a way saying “yes you have been through a lot. Now choose your path”
Of course there is a lot more revelation and mythology building surrounding that basis as we follow on directly from the ending of Burn which left Partridge and Pressia both having made impossible choices for very different reasons. The one thing that I DEFINITELY love about the trilogy is this pair. They are not the only wonderful characters to pepper the pages, but they are my first loves and the reason why I kept reading…
Add to that an absolutely fascinating world with hidden beauty and danger and you have a complete package that makes up a fantastic reading experience.
All in all its a great finish. Not my favourite of the three – I think “Fuse” takes that prize, but I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this as a most terrific post apocalyptic, dystopian joy of a YA read overall. Start with “Pure”. You won’t regret it.
Happy Reading Folks!
After a young Wretch is abducted by the Dome and ‘cleansed’ of her fusings and imperfections, she is only able to repeat the Dome’s latest message: ‘We want our son returned. This girl is proof that we can save you all. If you ignore our plea, we will kill our hostages one at a time.’ Willux will go to any lengths to get his son Partridge back, including murder.
So FINALLY having been galvanised into action by being granted the joy of the final part of this trilogy “Burn” via netgalley I dived into “Fuse” having actually purchased it the day it was released – so many books so little time! But I adored “Pure” the first part so I was looking forward to this one and I was not disappointed.
The world created here is highly imaginative – after the “Detonations” a select few survived whole, safely protected within the Dome. The rest of the survivors “fused” with various objects and sometimes people around them and are deemed impure – scratching out an existence in a bleak and unforgiving landscape. Into this scenario come our heroes Pressia and Partridge and various other eclectic characters. In “Pure” Partridge left the dome and joined up with Pressia, going on a journey of discovery about the truth behind the detonations. That is it in a nutshell – anything and everything else I leave you to discover for yourself – and discover it you should.
As far as YA trilogies go (and remember I have yet to read Book 3 and we know that occasionally I end up in a grump and disliking the endings, no don’t say it you all know if you follow my reviews which particular tales I’m on about) I have to say this is one of my favourites so far for pure writing genius. Its emotional. Its thrilling. It is occasionally quite insane in the best way possible. It pushes the boundaries of what you can do within this genre quite beautifully and has some unique aspects to it that put it ahead of the pack. After I’ve read Burn – which is next up for me – I will be able to say whether in my opinion it is one of the best overall. Ooh exciting.
This instalment adds to the mythology perfectly, has some fascinating new developments and I LOVE that it is not over heavy on the romance. The relationships are all drawn realistically – the characters, whilst developing deep friendships and emotional attachments, spend their time concentrating on survival, discovery and important life events rather than angsting over this boy or that girl – still the emotional aspects of it are all the more meaningful because of that. When they DO stop and take a moment it means something.
Overall a terrific part two and if the finale can live up to the previous standard of writing, even if I personally am not happy with the outcome for the characters, I will have no problem with highly recommending this trilogy as one of the best out there.
Lets see! Burn awaits.
Happy Reading Folks!
Published 13th February by RandomHouse Childrens Publishers UK
Thank you for the review copy via netgalley. BIG thank you.
Jess Tennant has now been living in Port Sentinel for three months, and is just beginning to relax and think of it as home after the murderous events of the summer. But in the small hours of a dark night, a teenage boy is left for dead by the side of the road. Seb Dawson has a serious head injury and may not survive – and Jess decides to find out who beat him up, and why?
So for those of you who have not yet read “How to Fall” do that first because that is the beginning of Jess Tennant’s adventures in Port Sentinel, and whilst you could quite happily read Bet Your Life on its own you will certainly get a lot more fun out of it if you have followed along from the start.
In this instalment, Jess is trying to keep her head down, living a quiet life with her family after the events of the first novel, but frankly I knew going in that this wouldnt last long simply by knowing the character – and I was right. Jess has a tendency to get involved simply by being in the right place at the wrong time..and once she has something in her head, despite her own best efforts its not going anywhere until she has fixed it. I love that about her.
This time she is caught up in some violent events after Seb Dawson, a guy she has had little dealings with, is found horrifically injured at the side of the road. When Seb’s sister begs her to find out what happened and why, Jess once more enters the maelstrom that is Port Sentinel and its people with all their hidden secrets and conflicts. At the same time she has to deal with her, quite frankly, complicated and messy love life whilst also keeping a weather eye on her mother who has man troubles of her own. Its all brilliantly compelling, wonderful to read and perfect for Young Adults. Of which I, of course, am one. Ok maybe not the young. Or even the adult. Still, I LOVED it.
I’ve always adored how Jane Casey sets up then develops her characters, both in her Young Adult books and her Maeve Kerrigan crime series, in ways that get you truly involved in the lives they are living.
The mystery element of this one aside for a moment, I was utterly caught up in the ebb and flow of the daily revolving door of people going in and out of each others lives. I’m not just talking the romantic angle – although I’m right with Jess I can’t make up my mind either – Ryan or Will, Will or Ryan, I hovered between the two like a demented butterfly during the whole of this read – am pretty sure I’ve made my mind up now but hey, I’m sure there is more to come! I’m also talking about the personal relationships Jess forms with others around her – the “popular” girls from How To Fall are back, with added insight into their lives and what lies beneath the surface – and the adults that populate the story are JUST as well drawn and important to the whole as any of the teenagers. I may be a little in love with Dan. Just saying..
As for the mystery element, as always well done and intriguing with some beautiful little twists and turns, a healthy dose of irony and realism and enough suspicious characters to shake many sticks at – all done in a compelling and fascinating way that has you solving the clues right along with Jess.
Jess herself does not want to become known as the modern day Nancy Drew but sorry Jess in a way that is what you are, but with your own little quirks and definitely with added “kick ass” . Either that or a teenage version of Jessica Fletcher. One thing is for sure I’M not going to live in Port Sentinel anytime soon, even though it sounds beautiful. I’ll watch and admire from afar.
Highly Recommended – we need more of this type of YA Crime fiction out there.
Happy Reading Folks!
Thank you to the author for the review copy.
Book One of the Spellweaver Chronicles
In “SpellWeaver” we meet Felicity who after her mother dies is sent to live with her estranged father. When she finds a book of spells and is attacked by a strange boy with flames in his hands, she begins to realise that there are things about her mother she did not know..
This is a fairly quick and easy read, a bit of a slow burner but intriguing enough to hold attention and a great start to a new series and definitely one that I will be following.
I did really love the characters in this one – Felicity is socially inept (I know that feeling!) and has a whole lot of other worldly stuff to deal with at the same time as trying to embed herself into a new life. There is an eclectic supporting cast, including Holly the “popular” girl, who pushes the boundaries of what you expect popular girls to be like (kudos to the author) and a great part of this story is the yin/yang aspect of Holly and her twin.
The world building is solid enough and there are some twisty bits that will definitely encourage you to move forward with the story in forthcoming books – I wouldnt say Ms Bridgeman has done anything unique here but she has given us a well written, charming story that you can escape into and enjoy.
Overall I would recommend this to lovers of YA Paranormal fiction. It feels like one of those series that will improve with age having gotten off to a good start.
Happy Reading Folks!
Thank you for the review copy via netgalley.
The Changed are on the move. The Spared are out of time. The End…is now.
So here we are at the end of the “Ashes” trilogy from Ilsa J Bick, a series I am very sad to say goodbye too as I have loved every minute.
For me personally this was like a breath of fresh air when it comes to conclusions to a trilogy as I have had a few disappointments lately – not so here. This is a tome and rightly so, the author has taken the time to give her characters a proper send off – and it is beautifully done…yet I feel that one day, yes one day there may be more….Here’s hoping.
This is a complicated story – has been throughout. That is a good thing – multi layered, action packed and intense as always, I love the way that, despite her writing for the YA genre, Ms Bick assumes an intelligence of her readers that other YA authors sometimes do not. There are many character arcs and settings, all blending together and connected by various links, often unexpected, always intriguing and clever. You will need to put your brain firmly in gear to keep up – but it is also a great deal of fun.
There are no punches pulled – often the writing is dark and terrifying, the “zombie” aspects are imaginative and different to the norm, I often shivered whilst reading. I loved the conclusion – the main story complete and yet so many roads still to travel, and some great things left to the readers imagination.
All in all I would highly recommend this trilogy.
Happy Reading Folks!
He followed her because he wanted to own her. She trusted him because she wanted excitement. There’s a saying that curiosity can kill … but Valerian Kimble is beginning to learn that satisfaction might just be worse.
So, some quite adult themes in this YA novel, the first in the “Horrorscape” series from Nenia Campbell. Valerian is a fairly typical 14 year old girl, drifting through life, friendship and school, when one day she finds something lurking in her locker…something that disturbs her equilibrium and sets off a disturbing chain of events.
This was a cleverly written book, where the the author manages to keep the reader off kilter by mixing up your typical vapid teenage goings on (who fancies who, who is the biggest bitch etc etc) with a creeping sense of foreboding as Val feels threatened but is not sure why. And in typical teenage fashion, her feelings get all mixed up and she makes some horrendously bad choices. No Val, boys who actually like you in a normal human way do NOT act like that!
There are some great characters in the mix – Gavin is complex without becoming a caricature and his diary is probably one of the best parts of the novel as a whole. I was actually very fond of James, who I hope will get more depth added to him in the future books (which I shall certainly be reading) as although he played his part here, he felt like he had a lot more to say. Val herself is naive yet hopeful and her friends are a good eclectic mix that help the story move along at a perfect pace.
The story itself creeps up on you – as Val feels more and more threatened you are right there with her – and if you, like me, are the type who talks out loud to characters while you are reading about them you WILL shriek at her at various intervals. And at a few other people..
If I have one teeny tiny little complaint its that I could not align myself with the way that Val’s parents acted – no parent I know (and I’m one myself) would allow Val to do what she does towards the end. People who have already read this will know what I’m referring to but if you havent yet I am not going to spoil it. Having said that, it kind of has to happen that way in order for the story to continue – so some dramatic license is allowed and welcomed because it means that now we will find out what is next for Val and Co.
All in all a great read and despite the violent aspects and the dark subject matter, it also works well as a cautionary tale for young adults and works well.
Happy Reading Folks!
Coming January from Harlequin Teen
Thank you to the author and publisher for the advance copy via netgalley.
For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.
So, first in the “Blackcoat Rebellion” series and one that I was immediately interested in reading – I do love Young Adult Dystopian novels, especially those in a series (preferably a trilogy which always seems just right) as they are often highly entertaining and so much better than some books aimed at adults. And hey there is a “young adult” in all of us is there not?
So how has Aimee Carter done? Well pretty darn well. She has taken some of the “standards” that you find in this type of fiction, given them her own little twist and therefore written a highly enjoyable, well flowing and intriguing tale which works extremely well as the first novel in an ongoing story.
Everything teen readers seem to love is here – you have your heroine, you have her love interest, and of course the boy that comes between them and gives her another choice. You have an imperfect world, where some suffer, others flourish and a group of people are determined to make a difference. Sometimes at great cost.
So what has the author done to make this stand out from the crowd? Well a few things actually. First and foremost is the world building. Enough information but not too much – AND this world is one that is absolutely believable – it is not hard at all to imagine in 100 years time that something of this nature could come to pass…and that our world could look exactly like this. Therefore you can live it as you read it..
Then there is Kitty, our heroine. Actually she is not that heroic. She is brilliantly normal. Yes she understands that she is not living the perfect life, but equally she accepts it. Her only wish is to survive. She does not see injustice and immediately become a kick bottom, absolutely moral saviour of the people – she needs to be persuaded…cajoled…even threatened. Her decision making process is authentic, so again you can live it as you read it. She grows with the story..she adapts..she changes…and at the end of the book she still has some growing to do. I look forward to seeing what happens next.
The supporting cast of characters are all great. – there is no actual love triangle here, not in the classic cliched sense – the “romantic” aspect of the book is low key and again realistic. Kitty spends absolutely no time at all day dreaming about one guy over another even though she finds herself with two very likely candidates for her heart. There is FAR too much going on to be bothered with all that! Still. Who am I rooting for? Well that would be telling…Anyone who joined “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob” during the height of the Twilight phenomenon will soon be joining “Team Benji” or “Team Knox” I imagine, IF Ms Carter decides in the sequels to expand on those relationships in that way.
All in all an excellent addition to a crowded genre – well written, addictive and in a way fairly simple in its concept – but executed elegantly.
Happy Reading Folks!
No one’s coming for us.
Not our families, not the police.
Alyn, Jes, Ryan and Elsa are Nowhere. A concrete cube in the middle of a dense forest. Imprisoned inside are one hundred teenagers from all over the country. They’re all criminals. But none of them remember committing any crimes. Who has put them there. What do their captors want?
An interesting concept for a YA novel this – fairly well executed and quite intriguing. As the story opens we find various children in captivity, none of whom remember comitting any crime, all of whom seem determined to escape. With the use of flashback and present time, a sense of what is actually behind this starts to emerge.
I enjoyed this very much, because its quite a quirky little story – perhaps the characters lack a certain depth at this point but even having said that, I was utterly in the tale – as this is “part one” it was very much, I felt, setting the scene for things to come. A fairly simplistic but lovely prose kept the story flowing and I feel if the author can add more “oomph” to the characters in the next instalment, this will be very good indeed.
I look forward to finding out what happens to Jes and co in the next book which I believe is due out next year.
Happy Reading Folks!
Thank you to the publisher for the copy via a Goodreads Giveaway.
In this sequel to the bestselling fantasy thriller, Angelfall, the survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what’s left of the modern world.
Well what can I say? I was late to the party, having only just read and loved “AngelFall” the first in the “Penryn and the End of Days” series, and I was dying to know what happened next so I was extraordinarily pleased when this book dropped through my letterbox. I have to say I was not disappointed.
Starting immediately after the events of “AngelFall” we find Penryn, separated from Raffe and still feeling the effects of battle. As she becomes involved with the resistance it becomes clear that there is a lot more going on than just an Angel invasion – and Penryn will again find herself in all kinds of trouble as she attempts to protect her family.
Once again this has a high level of action, peppered with some extremely heartfelt moments and there is a nice sense of character development throughout – with new and old faces alike.
Its addictive reading, and in places fairly horrific, yet you can’t look away and will be compelled to keep reading to the last page. In a lot of ways its a perfect sequel – expanding and improving on plot intricacies begun in “AngelFall” and leaving us with a distinct need for more – the next stage of the story is nicely set up here and yet still gives a rounded and complete reading experience.
I would have preferred more Raffe/Penryn interaction if I had one niggle – but I think that just goes with the territory when a blossoming relationship is done this well. There is obviously a lot more to tell us and I can’t wait for Book 3
Happy Reading Folks!
As a world-ending war surges around them, Todd and Viola face monstrous decisions. The indigenous Spackle, thinking and acting as one, have mobilized to avenge their murdered people. Ruthless human leaders prepare to defend their factions at all costs, even as a convoy of new settlers approaches.
Ok lets get one thing out of the way first – although I thought the ending was pretty perfect and certainly lived up to the overall feel of the series, I was not as enamoured of this third and final part of the trilogy as I was with the first two novels.
I’ll be as honest as I can about why. Mainly I think it was that I felt that I was pretty much reading Book two again, albeit with the addition of another side to the conflict and some further building on the world as a whole. I totally feel like I could have skipped half of this novel and still ended up in exactly the same place with exactly the same emotions. Now don’t get me wrong – the writing is superb as always, with the quirky and extremely readable style that Mr Ness has created in order to tell his tale – and there is no dropping of the standard. Still, didnt quite do it for me when I look at it in comparison.
Todd and Viola face some moral dilemma’s and as always that was compelling – still I felt that some of their decision making was kind of half hearted – after all they have both had to make tough choices in the past and their reasoning had already been well developed, so a lot of the thinking felt more forced than natural to me – a kind of “woe is me” attitude if you like. For me personally that didnt quite resonate with what had gone before. Still, even with that caveat, I wanted to keep reading and find out what the heck was going to happen and at no point did I grow frustrated during the actual experience – its just now I look back I’m kind of “meh”.
So Book One and Book Two get 5 stars, this one gets 4. And even with everything I have said above I would still hold the “Chaos Walking” trilogy as one of the best YA has had to offer so far. Without a doubt still highly recommended as a whole.
Happy Reading Folks!
Thank you to the author for the review copy.
Blue didn’t want to be in the future
…they didn’t want him there either
A rip in the fabric of time, a far-flung globally warmed future, a flooded Earth and the only remainder of civilisation – a militaristic organisation living underneath ‘Desert Amazon’…
I’ve been reading a plethora of YA lately (and I have plenty more to come on my lists) and I’m often amazed at the quality to be found in fiction aimed at the younger market. This was no exception – an imaginative and involving time distortion tale that held my interest throughout.
“Blue” is a teenager with a right pair of parents and a little sister called Annie, who, whilst searching for his lost sister, ends up 400 years into the future…where life has changed, mostly due to global warming and mass flooding. There he gets involved in all sorts of shenanigans – in a world he does not recognise…
In a lot of ways, despite whats happening around him, Blue is a typical teenager – distracted by girls, often sent off on a tangent by “cool” stuff, but also pretty determined to reach his goal – however from the start and as the story progresses it becomes apparent that he is not quite so “typical” after all..
The story flowed well, had a terrific believable premise as far as how the future of our planet could look and some well imagined characters. There are some twists and turns, add to that an inventive writing style and you have all the ingredients for a great scifi teen read. Or in my case a great scifi 40something read…hey, age is a state of mind right?
Highly enjoyable. I shall look forward to the sequel. Recommended for the young at heart who like scifi and fantasy.
Happy Reading Folks!
Book Two of the Chaos Walking Trilogy. – Possible Spoilers for Book One.
Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss.
Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor’s new order.
But what secrets are hiding just outside of town?
And where is Viola? Is she even still alive?
And who are the mysterious Answer?
So I finally found the time to dive into book two of this trilogy (Book one being The Knife of Never Letting Go) and as always with YA trilogies I was intrigued to see how the author “managed” the middle part of a story – its a fine line, between keeping up the standard of the first, making it fit well with both part one and what is intended for the finale, plus drawing the reader further into the world created and (hopefully) leaving them all agog to find out how it all pans out…
Well, agog doesnt quite describe how I’m feeling right now having just finished this, but one thing is for sure – I am thanking my lucky stars that “Monsters of Men” the final part of this terrific tale is currently looking right at me – no waiting! I can’t imagine how annoyed I would be in this moment had I read this when it was first released – why? Because its godamn brilliant thats why!
Patrick Ness has pretty much thrown the rule book out of the window with the world he has created here – and the characters who inhabit it – a fascinating, heady mix of glorious madness and mayhem and from an adult point of view, almost a morality tale. Intriguing.
After their desperate race against time and an army,despite their best efforts Viola and Todd have inadvertantly ended up caught in the clutches of Mayor Prentiss after all – with Viola severely injured, their choices seem limited. So ended “The Knife of Never Letting Go” and when “The Ask and the Answer” begins we pick up right where we left off.
Separated and threatened, it seems as if our two heroes will end up on different sides – and here is where things get extremely complex for the pair of them…caught between two enigmatic and persuasive power hungry people, just which side is the “right” side? As they each make choices they may come to regret, the story pulls you along at a frantic pace, yet still manages to give you an emotional blast. War is coming it seems – and can war ever be the answer, no matter what the question?
My favourite part of this novel was the developing relationship, not between Viola and Todd, but between Todd and Davy – son of the Mayor. Constantly at each others throats, enemies thrown together not by choice but by circumstance, they bicker, they fight, neither one is likely to give any ground and they are poles apart. YET one scene involving these two was the scene that had me in tears – sobbing like a baby. Wonderful characterisation – definitely some of the best in the YA world perhaps even in the world of books as a whole.
By the end of this I was desperate DESPERATE to know what the outcome will be for all of these people – because to me they are now people. And of course the animals – oh Angharrad you stole my heart.
Read it. Live it. Love it.
Happy Reading Folks!
Alex has escaped from Rule – but what new horrors face her in the ravaged world outside?
Tom is safe – but what will he risk to find Alex?
Chris – how much does he really know about the terrible darkness of Rule? And what are his true feelings for Alex?
Ellie – where is she?
Yes indeed. All questions I had when I had finished “Ashes” the first book in this trilogy. Some are answered – some are not – and I can hardly wait to find out how this one turns out for all involved. Monsters await me – probably quite literally.
So, you have Young Adult fiction. Then you have Adult fiction. And somewhere inbetween you have Ilsa J Bick’s trilogy about a post apocalyptic, dangerous world, where no-one can be trusted and sometimes your best friend is also your worst enemy. A brilliantly imagined setting where in order to survive, ruthless is the only way to go.
There are several interlocking stories going on here as we follow Alex, Chris and Tom amongst others – separate but linked – on their journey through a landscape fraught with danger, ever changing, and filled with those of nefarious intent. The “changed” are scary, downright horrific and if you have a weak stomach, fair warning, there are no punches pulled here. And its possible that the change is not over yet…Just because you are one of the “Spared” does not guarantee that you will always be entirely you…
Multi stranded character arcs can confuse – I’ve heard people call this plot “convoluted” but for me it was rich in detail and imagination. Rather than give heart and soul to two or three main protagonists, Ms Bick breathes life into them all – whilst also managing to give the reader a full appreciation for the world they inhabit. Not an easy task and yes the plot building is complicated – you may lose some of the nuances of the journey – but its worth every second for the pure adrenalin rush that sometimes may overtake you.
If you love YA Post Apocalyptic fiction, and enjoy a story with many different faces I would recommend these books. Monsters will be on my reading schedule soon – I am hoping that the ending to this particular trilogy will satisfy me more than the last one I read. Yes you people who follow my reviews you all know what I am talking about! Shadows has had the perfect lead in to the finale. I will let you know if it lives up to the promise…
As an aside – I have the first two books in paperback (UK) and Quercus, James Fraser (cover design) and Arcangel Images (cover photo) have done another outstanding job here. I love the tactile presence of these novels on my shelf. Monsters is on my Kindle (I took the short route and went via netgalley) but I shall be purchasing the final paperback to complete my collection. Cover art. One of my favourite things about physical books…
Happy Reading Folks!
It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.
So. Heard good things about this one, and with Book 2 about to hit the shelves I thought it was high time I found out what all the fuss was about…I’m now considering risking Jail once again in order to bribe someone for a copy of World After, even though its only just over a week to wait. A WEEK? Are you KIDDING?
Yes it was that good.
Penryn already had enough problems even before the Angels decided to go all apocalyptic on her ass, what with a mentally unstable mother and a disabled Sister to look after – as the story opens we find them about to begin a journey in search of safer ground and sustenance….things do not go to plan however and shortly she finds herself facing another challenge, her sister kidnapped by an Angel, another injured Angel to either save or destroy and a mother who is missing in action. So begins her quest to rescue her Sister and reunite her family.
After that things tootle along at a heck of a pace, with some absolutely stunning scene setting, some brilliant characterisation and a truly fantastic tale..remember what Twilight did for the YA scene? Forget it. AngelFall is going to knock your little socks off, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
For a start Penryn is a kick ass, totally believeable heroine who doesnt get it all right, can be stubborn as heck but never ever takes her eyes off the prize…even when she encounters Raffe, one of my favourite male leads ever in this type of fiction – their developing relationship is true to the heart of the story. She wants her Sister back. She is authentically vulnerable but tough as nails. All the way. Fantastic.
The Angels are scary as heck, truly daunting, a formidable enemy. Susan Ee is not scared to be slightly controversial – the truly horrific final chapters will blow your mind and you will be left emotionally drained, truly terrified and as a reader, entirely satisfied. Except of course that you will, I promise you faithfully, be willing to cross oceans in your quest to find out what happens to the survivors next…
If you are going to write a post apocalyptic, magical story aimed at the young adult audience that will also bewitch and enthrall the adult reading population then this is the way to do it. No prevarication here. Awesome.
Happy Reading Folks!
Freya is found drowned – but was it suicide or murder? Her cousin, Jess Tennant, is determined to uncover the truth. But asking questions may prove deadly – anyone could be a suspect and everyone is hiding something…
So, Jane Casey, Author of the wonderful Maeve Kerrigan (or in my fangirl state the Derwent series) of books dips her toes into the wonderful world of YA for the first time with what is set to become another fantabulous series this time starring Jess Tennant..teenage girl, reader (of course) and tenacious when it comes to finding out the things she wants to know..
Jess has arrived in Port Sentinel for the Summer – and finds that people are looking at her strangely. No she hasnt forgotton to dress or anything, it turns out that she is the spitting image of her cousin Freya, now deceased and when Jess discovers that there may be secrets lurking within this seemingly friendly town, she is determined to find out the truth. Did Freya fall? Or was she pushed…
Now I read a fair bit of Young Adult Fiction because a lot of it is brilliant, often better than so called Adult fiction – but a lot of what I have read does tend to be Dystopian or have some kind of vampire/werewolf/zombie apocalypse at its core and thats all to the good. But my first love was Crime Fiction and I have not found a lot of YA in that area (well with the obvious wonderful exception of that staple of my youth – the Nancy Drew books!) – all I can say is, if its going to be this good perhaps more authors of “grown up” crime fiction should consider giving it a go.
What Jane Casey does so perfectly here is use all the staples required in order for teenagers to love it (girl meets boy, theres something to keep them apart, ooh there’s another boy) and to be able to relate to it (the cool set, the one bitchy girl who rules the roost, the outcasts) but does it without resorting to cliche. Then she adds in a very compelling mystery that has the same quality and energy to it that her adult books has but with a younger feel and a snappy writing style that will definitely appeal to teenage readers.
Plus you have got a great mix of characters. Ones you can root for (For me Jess, and often it has to be said the rather flighty Darcy) , ones you can hate with a passion (Natasha…oh and Dan *glares*) and ones that are peripherally in your vision that you kind of want to know more about. And as this is a series I’m sure we will – because in another clever move you have a complete story which around the edges has some characters you know have more to tell. I’m kind of hoping the next book might tell me a little more about Sylvia…and the Owl thing. Yep, sorry you are going to have to read it now to see what I’m banging on about.
So all in all I loved it. Very much. More Please.
Happy Reading Folks!
Don’t spread the word!
Three-day weekend. Party at White Rock House on Henry Island.
You do NOT want to miss it.
It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.
But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.
In “Ten” we follow Meg as she arrives on Henry Island for a party thrown by one of the “popular” girls – dragged along by her best friend she expects nothing more than a few days of fun. Instead she ends up on the trail of a killer whilst all around her the body count mounts..
Great fun this one – especially for lovers (as I am) of those classic teen slasher movies such as Friday 13th and Halloween, I spent an entertaining few hours picking my survivors, guessing the identity of the killer and anticipating which of the victims may end up getting the best “death”….come on, we all do it with this sort of story do we not? Fans of scary stories told around the campfire will know exactly where I am coming from…
Told in a snappy engaging style, Meg is an interesting and intelligent character to tag along with as she discovers clues, follows her instincts and tries to hold things together, all the while fighting her ingrained attraction to teen heartthrob TJ who she has rejected on the basis that best friend Minnie is also crazy about him. Friends first, that typical teen girl rule (which often gets thrown out of the window of course) of dating.
Throw in an eclectic mix of typical teens, the usual horror movie rules, some clever little nods to vintage tales of its type (Christie’s “And Then There Were None” springs to mind, as does one of my favourite death scenes from the original version of Friday 13th) and you have the perfect recipe for a tasty little treat of a book that has an appeal for young at heart readers everywhere.
There is not anything new here particularly – it felt more like a homage to horror, an age old tale given a modern setting and told for todays audience – but its a whole load of fun and if you are looking for an easy but captivating read to while away a few hours this one may hit the mark.
Note for the author: If the intent was to make Minne THE most annoying female teen character in fiction, who you thoroughly wish the Killer would despatch sooner rather than later lest you have to dive into the pages and strangle her yourself, then job well done! I loved (hated) her. Brilliant.
Happy Reading Folks!
Be Aware: Whilst I do not exactly give away the ending this review could be said to contain minor spoilers. And possibly major ones if you read between the lines.
Blurb : Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.
Yeah. But no. Sigh. Pfft. Oh where to start. Darn it, I try and build up a reputation for being able to find the positive in everything and here I am actually struggling. So again I say Pfft.
Ok, having given myself a few minutes there are positives. I won’t have to read it again. Oops thats rather an ironic positive. Lets go for a more positive positive. The quality of the writing has not diminished. Ms Roth can still put words together into sentences and make them jump off the page. Great. Thats one of the things that made Divergent and Insurgent so compelling. She’s a damn good writer. Characterisation is (was?) top notch and the world is (was?) well imagined…thats why many readers have been holding their breath for the promised “stunning” conclusion of the series. Well job done. It WAS stunning. Although perhaps not in the way one might have hoped…
For the early part I kind of enjoyed it…I disliked the dual points of view especially because I worked out fairly quickly why we were going to need such a thing, and despite my hanging on in there in the hope that I was wrong – I was not. Which in and of itself left me uninspired – a writer of the calibre of Ms Roth really should be able to surprise me. After all she has done it once or twice over the course of the first two novels. Then shortly after Tris and Co hit the “outside” world it started to annoy me..then I started to swear at it.
The whole “genetics” thing seemed illogical given what had gone before. It was also a terribly dull explanation considering the lead in and the inspired writing that gave us Dauntless, Erudite et al and how the ending of “Insurgent” hinted at the possibility of something unique and wonderful to come. The new characters were a bit wooden – possibly because, this being the last novel, there was nowhere really for them to go – so yes. Uninspired. Thats me.
Now I’m back to this. Sigh. Pfft. Disappointed.
Final thoughts. Some people have called Ms Roth brave for the ending she gave us, others have called her cliched, others still have said she has betrayed her loyal following. Me I sit here. This is her story, her vision, her ending. So in that sense it is what it should be. For me though it felt wrong. I disliked it intensely and I’m not afraid to say so. Ms Roth has not betrayed me, she wrote her ending and its my choice to not like it. I would agree there is some cliche, and I would also agree it was kind of brave….I also wonder if the movie trilogy (assuming they all get made) will have a different ending. I imagine it will…
Happy Reading Folks!
It’s a brave new world. ‘My name is Kyle Straker. And I don’t exist anymore.’ So begins the story of Kyle Straker, recorded on to old audio tapes. You might think these tapes are a hoax. But perhaps they contain the history of a past world…If what the tapes say are true, it means that everything we think we know is a lie. And if everything we know is a lie does that mean that we are, too?
So, firstly I’d love to tell you why this book is clever, but that would spoil it. But keep that in mind. Its clever.
Secondly this is a complete story. It works well as a complete story. You only really need this one tale. BUT there is a sequel – 1.4 – and I for one am extremely pleased about that. Because its clever. And I’m thinking it might get even more so…we’ll see. Fairly soon I imagine.
I very much enjoyed reading this, following Kyle’s story as he gets caught up in extraordinary events with a strangely ordinary feel to them. This works brilliantly – its kind of matter of fact. Kyle has a story to tell and has found a way to tell it. And you will be right there. The next time you see something out of the corner of your eye you may wonder what it is that you saw…
I’m being vague. I know it. So how about this – do you like John Wyndham? If you do, you may appreciate 0.4. Now I’m sure that Mr Lancaster will not mind one bit if I say he’s not up (yet) to the standards of Mr Wyndham’s writing but while I was reading this I was nostalgic for those days when I emerged wide eyed from such novels as Chocky and The Midwich Cuckoo’s, wondering if such things were possible. For today’s generation of young readers this could fill a gap…and as an adult you will certainly appreciate the humerous asides about such things as the Teletubbies. This book is kind of like one of those movies you see with your children where its aimed at the younger audience and yet there is plenty there to appease the adult sensibilities.
All in all a great little read – and whilst I hope for more from this world I am equally intrigued with what other strange and wonderful imaginings the author may have in store for us.
Happy Reading Folks!
Thank you to the author for the copy of this book for review.
Drawn into the schemes of an angry wizard, Carin glimpses the place she once called home. It lies upon a shore that seems unreachable. To learn where she belongs and how to get there, the teenage traveler must decipher the words of an alien book and follow the clues in a bewitched poem.
This was an extremely well written fantasy story, with an easy to read and likeable heroine at its heart. Carin travels North to find out where she belongs and inadvertantly stumbles onto the land of Lord Verek…initially hostile he eventually becomes intrigued by her and so the adventure begins.
Carin is a strong and independant character who can look after herself – one aspect of the book I enjoyed very much. The enigmatic Lord Verek is a perfect foil and the story flows well with a very readable style that holds your interest throughout.
This is very much Part One – it is NOT a standalone book…I would liken it to a serial television series – this being episode one where we get to meet the characters, find out a little bit about them and where you are given some information about what their “quest” will be.
The world building is solid and intriguing, the magical aspects well drawn and versatile and characterisation is energetic so that you are immediately invested in their future. The ending with its wonderful cliffhanger will ensure that you read on… All in all a marvellous additon to the fantasy genre and I would recommend it for lovers of magical mystical tales.
Happy Reading Folks!
Chloe didn’t think about it much when she nodded off in study hall on that sleepy summer day. But when she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can’t remember the last six months of her life. Before, she’d been a mediocre student. Now, she’s on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he’s her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won’t speak to her.
An alluring and addictive read, with an extremely beguiling mystery at its heart, I really enjoyed this. Chloe has lost time and it seems along with that time she has also lost herself. But why? What on earth could have happened to change so much for her? As she realises that she is alarmed by the popular Blake, when previously she would have given anything for him to notice her and finds that she is strangely attracted to a boy she herself would not have given the time of day to back then, that coupled with other bizarre happenings tells her that perhaps something sinister is going on…
Cleverly written with small but significant doses of information coming in every chapter, I was compelled to follow along with Chloe as she attempts to retrieve her friendships and her own sense of self, as well as work out what set off the amnesia…with some terrific characterisation and a truly imaginative mystery this was a wonderful reading experience.
Highly Recommended for fans of YA, with a touch of romance and a good few thrills and spills thrown in for good measure. I look forward with interest to this authors next novel.
Happy Reading Folks!
Thank you to the author for the review copy.
Jed’s dead. These are the words that transform’s Cecelia Rivermire’s quiet life into a manhunt. A manhunt to kill the man that murdered her only friend. A manhunt to kill the man that murdered her first love. In this quest for revenge, however, she’ll soon discover that everything she’s ever known has been a lie, including everything she thinks she knows about herself…
So we meet Cecilia, who loses her best friend and first love and sets out on a quest for revenge that may not go entirely to plan…now a General we see in flashback what has led her here, and when her Emporer turns on her the adventure really begins.
I really enjoyed this it has to be said. Cecilia is a top notch character and the world building is well done. As she discovers that things are not entirely as she thought in the world she lives in, the story is fast paced and intriguing – set to be a trilogy this is a great “Part One” and will certainly ensure you want to read onwards…
Some great “supporting” characters (Brey. Loved Brey!) flesh out the story and there are some great twists and turns along the way, with an ending that will make you sigh (in a good way) and long for chapter two…
Well written, some flaws but that is to be expected, and fascinating enough to keep you hooked until the last page, I am pleased to be in at the start of this one. In the explosion of YA to the reading world this is an excellent example of its kind and I shall look forward to more. Recommended for YA fans, especially if you like action, a bit of romance and some likeable AND unlikeable characters to meet along the way.
Fifteen-year-old X thinks she is going to die. Shacked up in the cellar of an old farmhouse, she starts a journal to document her last few days. Much less than a few days if the things outside manage to get in.
So last night I settled down to FINALLY get around to “X”, a short story from Jack Croxall, author of the rather wonderful “Tethers”.
Written in the form of a diary “X” describes her day to day existence in a world that is radically different from the one she knew before – where every day is a fight for survival. Haunting and atmospheric it pulls you along for a short but compelling tale of a few days in the life of….
X. Whose name we never know. Who’s family we will never meet except in her poignant and touching memories…and who is not long for this earth. Her own realisation of that is one thing that makes this story as fascinating as it is.
I loved it. I half wish it was a full length novel whilst realising that it would not pack the same punch if it was. As it is this is a luminous, captivating tale and perfect for giving you one of those reading “moments”
Happy Reading Folks!
First of all thank you to the author for sending me a copy of this book for review. No REALLY thank you it was amazing.
David died at 15. But he is not gone. Weeks after his death, he wanders his home village, unable to interact with anyone or anything…and unable to understand why, as he seems to be the only ghost around. Suddenly he realises that there IS one person that can see and hear him…her name is Bethany. An outcast and loner, they had no contact in life so why is she the only one who can see him now?
This was such a beautifully written story it tugged at my heartstrings. David was not a particularly nice person in life – certainly not in his attitude to girls like Bethany – and as he watches his best friend behave appallingly he comes to some understanding of who he himself was and how different things would be now if only he could get that life back. In the relationship with his Mother, his Stepfather and with Bethany. I suppose in a way, you could call it a coming of age story..except of course David will not have the chance. The relationship that develops between the two youngsters – one living, one dead, is almost what I would like to call “Anti Twilight”. No angst, just a rather strange friendship and mutual respect that you wish with all your heart they could have in life. And yet…if David was alive they would never speak.
As Bethany tries to help David discover just why it is that he is stuck, they learn more about each other and themselves. She really is an amazing girl who has suffered her own share of tragedy…and we all knew girls and boys like her at school, some of us WERE those people – the slightly odd, and seemingly sad misfits. What Sharon Sant has done is give you a glimpse behind the mask – a possible reason for being. It makes you wonder….what if you had simply spoken to a girl like that rather than avoiding them or making fun – what hidden depths might you discover and who knows what friendships are missed because this simply doesnt occur.
And of course its a darn good story to boot – you will WANT to know what David’s purpose is, why he is the only spirit, why is Bethany the one chosen to be able to see and hear him. There are some humerous moments as David tries to accomplish those things that film ghosts always seem to be able to do – moving things, scaring people..but mostly it is an emotional and heart wrenching ride towards the final resolution. Will David be doomed to walk forever with only Bethany for company? I would suggest you read and find out!
Quarantine is the final book of the “Alone” series and I had been looking forward to this one so thank you kindly for the copy via Netgalley.
Jesse, still trapped in New York, and hiding out from the Chasers, decides that in order to survive he must leave the temporary shelter and search for other survivors that he believes are out there somewhere. He crosses the city, searching for Caleb who has fallen foul of the virus and for a possible cure…
I enjoyed this instalment, highly action packed and with a good eye to developing the characters however I have to say it left something to be desired. The beauty of the novels as a whole was the intriguing aspect of what had happened and why certain events were happening now – the Military for example. Its difficult to explain what I mean without giving anything away to those who have not yet started this trilogy – but I was left with a vague sense of disappointment. The ending did not satisfy me – although I will grant you it is a clever one – I do wonder if James Phelan has follow up books in mind. If he does then all to the good but if not there are a lot of unanswered questions here. Which in and of itself would not be a problem if as a whole you felt the story was complete. I’m afraid I didnt feel that with “Alone” but even saying that, overall its an enjoyable read.
So we come to “The Twisted Window” by Lois Duncan thank you netgalley for the review copy.
Tracy is living in a new town, feeling abandoned by her father she is trying to settle in. When the new boy in school, Brad, pays her attention, despite her misgivings she becomes friendly with him. Soon however, she realises that he has ulterior motives for wanting to know her and becomes embroiled in his life in ways she could not have imagined…
This was a great read. Tracy, in the way of teenagers, gets sucked in by a pretty face (Brad is rather lovely and angelic to look at) but looks can be deceiving..Is he as charming as he seems? And what does he want from her? Hey, its not exclusive to the young is it? I am a 44 year old mother of 3 and I’m not saying that I don’t like a bit of beauty…its easy to see why Brad would be appealing. Following Tracy as she makes her decisions on what she is and is not willing to do, its compelling stuff. And the outcome to their story is satisfying.
Well written, flowing nicely, you will soon get caught up in the story and relate to some of the issues raised. I very much enjoyed it and will be looking out for more from this author.
Guest review coming up from Misty who managed to get to this book before me.. thanks Misty! Follow her on Twitter here https://twitter.com/1993Misty
So, after I got to know about this book from the author, Joseph Evans, I decided to check out the reviews to see if it’s really my genre. I saw a very intriguing comment on the cover from one reader saying it was “even better than Harry Potter” – what big shoes to fill. And I knew then that I definitely had to read this book.
The basic story is simple enough – lonely boy in new city gets drawn into plot to stop evil genius, finding friends and enemies along the way. It took a few pages to get into but I quickly took a liking to the hero, Seckry, and enjoyed his adventures. The story is sci-fi and set in the futuristic place. The author has done a great job of creating a world detailed and consistent enough to allow a true suspension of disbelief, melding elements of science fiction and fantasy into a classically-styled storyline. You even get to have a virtual reality form of Quidditch in Friction complete with leagues (God, I would love to play that!). Current debates of genetic modification, corporate responsibility and even school budgets, is topical and engaging. It is like a neatly tied braid, with no detail being provided that is not essential to the story line, no complex red herrings are used or for that point needed, but a clean and satisfying narrative that is almost impossible to put down.
I loved the development of the plot. It started small, but intriguing, and quickly expanded out into something huge and enthralling, complicated and entertaining all at once. At the same time, I never found myself confused. The author has done a great job of going back and editing everything for cohesion; I didn’t notice any major plot holes, loopholes, etc.
And then ending? What a great ending. I can’t really say much more about this book without busting out a few spoilers. And as a reader I hate it when someone tells me crucial points from a story, before I get to read it.
The book is aimed at children but some themes – drug use, bullying and mention of rape, to my mind, put it firmly in the teen/young adult category rather than being for younger readers.
Recommended for anyone who enjoyed Harry Potter, Percy Jackson or well, anything from the fantasy/ sci-fi genre.
44 by Jools Sinclair is a wonderful little read and a great addition to YA. There are several “parts” to this story – this being part one – and I will be looking forward to reading the rest when time allows.
Abby fell through the ice and died. Though medical intervention brought her back, she no longer sees colours and lives in a grey world – one where her memories are missing and her friends treat her with disdain. Living with her Sister and trying to recover, she is plagued by horrific nightmares that appear to show a serial killer at work in her hometown…
That is the premise for the story and its compelling stuff. Through Abby’s eyes we see a killer at work and follow her in her efforts to persuade others that what she is seeing is real. She is a very well drawn – Young adult readers will relate to some of her friendship issues and in her constant struggle to remember the truth of what happened to her a great strength of character emerges. The story ebbs and flows well leading you to the ultimate resolution and a very clever little twist in the tale that I never saw coming – and setting up Part Two very nicely.
Well written for a debut this is an author to keep an eye on. I am intrigued to find out what is next for Abby. Soon fellow readers…soon.
Find out more about Jools here http://joolssinclair44.blogspot.co.uk/p/about-jools.html
Follow her on Twitter here. https://twitter.com/JoolsSinclair
My latest YA read was The Shadow by A G Porter. The first part of the “Darkness” trilogy, and a very good read.
Rayna, still mourning the death of her father, goes to work as an Intern at “The Landing” an upper class resort, whilst waiting to decide which college to attend and basically what to do with her life. Leaving her home friends behind she soon forms new friendships and attracts the attention of three different boys. Meanwhile, girls are going missing in another part of the country…and Rayna starts dreaming of them, and the man stalking them, “The Shadow”. At the same time, she realises that she can sense the thoughts and feelings of those around her. Struggling with this plus her romantic entanglements, Rayna starts to try and unravel the mysteries and make sense of her life once more.
This is a page turner – certainly by the middle you will be racing towards the end with the need to KNOW – and is very well written. The flow of the story is great, although one very slight niggle is that I found it over wordy in places – too many sentences to get over a little information – but really thats just a personal thing and it didnt detract at all from my overall enjoyment of the book. Also I think its the proof reader in me – I automatically edit in my head! The romance angle was well done without suffering from what I call “Twilightitis” and the supernatural elements were well imagined and intriguing. The end made you want to dive straight into the next one and I am looking forward to finding out what happens next.
Characterisation was great. I loved Jace particularly although I couldnt tell you why – and the background for each character was informative enough for you to get a sense of them and how they have come to where they are. I’m hoping that future instalments will bring some of the secondary characters more to the foreground as there were a couple in there that didnt get a lot to do this novel and yet you feel that they have a lot to add. All in all an involving read – and I feel that this trilogy once completed with make a great addition to the genre. It is violent in places – perhaps not for younger “young adults” but certainly anyone over the age of 13 would love this and it is also a book that adult readers would enjoy. Happy Reading Folks!
And so we come to Partials by Dan Wells, a novel that has been sat on my YA shelf for quite some time – the backlog on that particular to read shelf is long because there is SO much great YA fiction around these days – and Partials is a great addition to all of those.
In it we meet Kira, a young girl and a clever one. One of a handful of survivors of “the release” the community resides trapped on Long Island…and they are slowly dying out. No baby survives past three days. When her best friend falls pregnant, Kira is bound and determined to find a cure and save the baby – but her only hope may not be human at all….
I rather loved this book. Ok, you do have to suspend disbelief a little bit at just how clever scientifically Kira is at 16 years old at first, but even allowing for that this is a great read. The “Partials” part human who were created to win a war and then turned on the full humans are very well imagined and the splinters within Kira’s own community are cleverly done. The supporting cast of characters are all well drawn, and you will quickly be enveloped into their world. There is adventure to be had here, and a touch of romance, with some imaginative science thrown in for good measure. The standard does not dip for the entire book and the writing flows extremely well – easy to read but very involving, its a definite plus to the genre and I look forward to picking up “Fragments” the next in the series soon. It resides on my shelf and I’m feeling that it won’t be there for too much longer.
A guest review from the amazing Jack Croxall, about this book by the just as amazing Sharon Sant.
Second instalments are funny things, so often they disappoint or end up as the weak link in a trilogy or series. Nevertheless, with Sky Song being so riveting, most readers will no doubt be picking up a copy of its sequel, The Young Moon.
The plot begins two years after the events of Sky Song, with Jacob returning to his home after experiencing an isolated stay and brutal training regime in a very distant land indeed. Two years is a huge amount of time for any teenager and, upon his return, Jacob finds a lot of things have changed. His father is fighting a new and terrifying battle and his friends seem to have moved on without him. However, Jacob has come back for a very important reason and soon, with the help of his estranged companions, he begins a search for the second successor. Unfortunately for the trio, this mysterious person is also being hunted by the trilogy’s deliciously ruthless villain, Makash.
The search soon takes Jacob and Luca far from home and the writing is so excellent that you find yourself desperate to see who will reach the successor first. On top of this, loveable Luca also provides some excellent comedy (and touching in his own way) moments which are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny.
Jacob’s abilities develop very nicely in The Young Moon and, whilst he still makes some mistakes, it’s great to see the series’ central character evolve into a hero the reader can really get behind and root for.
The final chapters of the book are soaked in action and moral dilemma, and Sant really does leave things on one hum-dinger of a cliff-hanger.
The Young Moon is available through Amazon now
To read more of Jack Croxall’s book reviews, visit his website: http://jackcroxall.co.uk
Someone told me I should read some YA fiction so I started with “The Hunger Games” as word of mouth seemed to suggest it was good. It was good. In fact it was more than good, it was great. Katniss Everdeen finds herself fighting for her life having taken the place of her younger sister in The Hunger Games, a fight to the death televised yearly and designed to keep people in order following an uprising against the powers that be. I read this, closely followed by both the others in the trilogy, over a wonderful 3 days last year. Read. Enjoy.
So. Another Young Adult novel, this time dealing with alien invasion. Before I started this I had been told by many people that this was a superior novel within its genre – and boy they were right! I can’t really pinpoint why it was such a page turner – but my best guess is, Rick Yancey’s characters. They pop. Every single one of them brings life to the story – not a cardboard cutout filler to be found. Told from various points of view throughout, the story is action packed all the way but still manages to find time for reflection – especially in the “back” story if you like, when we learn how the invasion started and what waves 1-4 consisted of. Never dull, always emotional, never giving you time to completely relax, I would highly recommend not picking this up until you are fairly sure you won’t have to put it down again until you are done. You will breathe with Cassie, live through Evan, need to be a parent to Sammy and become a whole new person with Ben. Brilliant. Don’t miss this.
A terrific addition to my YA bookshelf, “The Knife of Never Letting Go” is written in a lovely quirky style and has a great story behind it to boot. Todd lives in Prentisstown, a place populated solely by men and boys and the last settlement on the planet. During the war with the “Spackle” a poison was released that killed all the women and left the men able to hear each others thoughts. Known as “the noise” there is never a quiet place to be – but Todd is used to it. Due to become a man on his next birthday, Todd assumes that life will carry on as it has been, until one day whilst taking a walk in the swamp he hears…Silence. But there is no silence is there? Thus starts an adventure that will see Todd discover that everything he thought he could believe in was a lie, and will see him run as far and as fast as he can to search for answers. What I loved about this book: The characters – I can’t talk about a lot of them actually because part of the absolute joy of this read was discovering the weird and wonderful world that Patrick Ness has created here – but Todd is a superb and wonderful protagonist and you will be urging him on all the way. Be warned – you may need a tissue or two. At one point in this book I cried so hard that I couldnt actually read it for a while – you’ll see. I loved that I felt this distressed – it told me that what I was reading was, well, GOOD. There is plenty of adventure to be had, lots and lots of shouting at the book to be done (Again you’ll see) and in general its a stonking good novel that can be enjoyed by adults and children alike. With two more books to go before resolution I can’t wait for the next adventure. Fantastic.
So, my latest foray into the world of YA fiction, brought me here, to the Victorian setting of “Tethers”, an absolute gem of a tale, not only to read for yourself but as a story to read to others. In it we meet Karl and Esther, two friends who find themselves on a grand adventure having discovered a notebook with strange notations and a mysterious gemstone. Chased by those with nefarious purposes they embark on a journey to find a missing girl, and to discover the true nature of the gem..with some help from a glorious cast of supporting characters. This journey forms the basis for the book. I loved it I have to say – I may have been saying that in a lot of my reviews lately but it just goes to show that I’m picking the right books from the myriad of choice I have open to me. What I loved: Karl and Esther are terrific. Esther is a girl after my own heart with her flashes of temper and great insight. Karl, a little calmer, more likely to look before he leaps, is the perfect counterpart and they compliment each other beautifully. The story itself is well imagined, paced just right and has a real sense of place and time. I can’t actually find fault with it..if you want a negative – here’s one. It was over too quickly! Hoping the second in the series is not far away. I look forward to meeting Karl and Esther again.
You know I used to be stupid enough to think that the YA genre was just for Young Adults quite literally – and sadly I am no longer one of them. Then someone forced me to read “The Hunger Games” and I thought, well, lets just hang on a minute…since then I have devoured many many YA novels, mostly completely briliant, occasionally oh so terribly bad. This one comes under the “completely brilliant” category it has to be said. Jacob wakes up one night to find a stranger in his bedroom (and a stranger stranger you are unlikely to meet!) telling him all sorts of weird and wonderful things about his true identity.It seems that he is from quite a long way away. So starts his adventure and what an adventure it is. I’ll leave it at that. No really, you need know nothing else – except if you choose to read this book you will be oh so very far away from that land called “disappointed”. Enjoy.
I really enjoyed Ashes it has to be said. The YA genre has exploded recently, with many being made into movies (Hunger Games, Mortal Instruments, Divergent) and thats because there are some terrific tales out there, that will make great movies (if done properly and loyal to the source material). I think Ashes would also make a terrific movie, but I digress. A bit about the plot – An electromagnetic pulse kills most of the people and those who do survive are changed somehow – some develop special senses, others develop a taste for human flesh. Left in this wilderness is Alex, a young woman who has run away from her life, only to find perhaps more than she bargained for. Teaming up with an army veteran and a young girl who lost her grandfather to the pulse, she begins a journey to stay alive. In some ways this is a typical “Post Apocalyptic” road trip but it has its very unique side. This band of three are interestingly interwoven – certainly you take every step with them and they are not cardboard characters – Isla Bick has breathed real life into them. There are enough twists, turns and perils along the way to keep the most jaded of reader interested, and I would perhaps put it on the more “Adult” side of YA in terms of the style and nuance of the writing. Very enjoyable. Looking forward to “Shadows” the second in the trilogy. I’d be reading it now except I want to get a hardcopy not Kindle, to complete my set – the copy of Ashes I have is striking in its cover art and what made me pick it up in the first place. Enjoy!
When Janelle gets hit by a truck and dies, she is brought back to life by the enigmatic Ben Michaels – so begins this tale which is part love story, part End of the World apocalypse and part science fiction. The strands of the story are brought together extremely well, you care about the characters and are chomping at the bit to find out what is going on. Thats pretty much enough of a plot synopsis – like most books of this nature, you will enjoy it more, the less you know about it. This is a strong addition to the YA genre – its not over soppy in its romantic side, its very dark in places (with some bad language ) and a good read for young adults and young at heart adults alike. Ms Norris has created a world that is infinite in its possibilities, will give your imaginative bone a work out and make you hope that there will be plenty more stories to be had. I have already pre-ordered the sequel (Unbreakable – June 2013) and look forward to re-entering Janelle’s world soon.
I’ve read a few YA novels now, having been encouraged to do so by the terrific “Hunger Games” trilogy. I have to say that Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” is in a class of its own. I purchased a beautiful copy, settled down to read it and was immediately immersed in the world of Tris, Tobias et al. In a very different world from ours, people are divided up into “Factions”. You grow up in the faction that you are born into, but when you are 16 you get a choice. Remain with your faction, or choose another. The choice that our protagonist Tris makes forms the basis for the story. Flung into a world she couldnt imagine and often doesnt understand, Tris navigates the waters of her new existence and learns who she really is. A proper “coming of age” tale with a twist, YA fiction doesnt come much better than this. I don’t think its important to name the factions, their differences, or give too much detail on the plot – suffice to say you won’t want to put this down. Having finished it, I have immediately ordered the second in the series, Insurgent, and will surely be back with Tris again very soon. Brilliant.
Terrific follow up but not quite as good as the first (which often happens in a Trilogy then you find Part 3 picks up the pace and is the best of them all, which I fully expect to happen here) hence 4 stars rather than the 5 I gave to “Divergent”. Following the events of the first book, Tris is determined that she is going to find out the truth about her world. With the factions at war, she doesnt know who to trust and as a reader you are unsure as well – so as Tris continues her journey you do too – who is friend? Who is foe? Just what IS the secret that the Erudite are willing to kill to keep. It unfolds at a terrific pace and I really cannot wait until October to read the final part of the story. Of all the YA “Trilogies” I have had the pleasure of reading, this one so far is the one that has come closest to matching the emotive feel of “The Hunger Games” and, indeed, you feel that Tris and Katniss, should they ever meet, would be one heck of a team. Terrific.
My latest foray into the world of Young Adult fiction brought me to “City of Bones” the first in the Mortal Instruments series. Clary Fray, a fairly standard sixteen year old girl suddenly finds she can see things that other people can’t. Demons and their hunters. As she becomes immersed in their world she finds that she is actually more a part of it than she could possibly imagine. Well written, the world created is easy to fall into, and Clary as a character is sympathetic and interesting. The magical background is terrifically imagined and the story moves along apace and keeps you turning the pages. There is enough romance to keep the more soppy amongst us happy, without resorting to lots of “gazing into each others eyes” for chapters at a time which the Twilight books suffered so much from. Plenty of action and adventure to be found as well, all mixed in together to make an exciting read. Dropping a star for the simple reason that I didnt enjoy it QUITE as much as Hunger Games and Divergent, none the less this is a great addition to the genre and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.