29 Nov 2012

THIS IS NOT FORGIVENESS - CELIA REES

SUMMARY
Everyone says that Caro is bad ...but Jamie can't help himself. He thinks of her night and day and can't believe that she wants to be his girlfriend. Gorgeous, impulsive and unconventional, she is totally different to all the other girls he knows. His sister, Martha, hates her. Jamie doesn't know why, but there's no way he's going to take any notice of her warnings to stay away from Caro. But as Jamie falls deeper and deeper under her spell, he realises there is more to Caro - much more. There are the times when she disappears and doesn't get in touch, the small scars on her wrists, her talk about revolutions and taking action, not to mention the rumours he hears about the other men in her life. And then always in the background there is Rob, Jamie's older brother, back from Afghanistan and traumatised after having his leg smashed to bits there. Jamie wants to help him, but Rob seems to be living in a world of his own and is increasingly difficult to reach. With Caro, the summer should have been perfect ...but that isn't how things work out in real life, and Jamie is going to find out the hard way.

REVIEW
I love Celia Rees. She is one of the big reasons why I love literature so much. She reached me as a child and kept my attention, which was increasingly hard to do. I remember going to the bookshop desperate to find a new title of hers that I hadn't read. Having said that I was reluctant to read This is Not Forgiveness. I was worried that the magic of her writing, that I'd loved so much as a child, might not be there to the older, more cynical, me. Boy was I wrong. Her writing is a strong as ever. She writes with an intensity, with short sentences that pack a punch to your gut and leave you reeling.

This is Not Forgiveness follow 3 main characters; Jamie, Caro and Rob, each narrating in alternating chapters. Jamie is the central narrator: teen boy who meets and falls head over heels for Caro, a dangerous enigma of a girl who only ever seems to have eyes for older men. And finally Rob, Jamie's older brother, now discharged from the Army through injury who has more to do with Caro than he should.

Essentially the story is about damage. Damage that the course of a life brings to our minds and bodies, and how the emotional and psychological effects of that damage can change our abilities to handle the people we come in to contact with. Both Caro and Rob are emotionally damaged and in their ways they inflict that upon Jamie.

22 Nov 2012

ECHO - ALYSON NOEL

THIS IS THE SECOND BOOK IN THE SERIES SO MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS OF THE FIRST

SUMMARY
Daire Santos has already saved her grandmother's life -- and her soul. But at a cost: the Richter family has been let loose in the Lowerworld. Daire and her boyfriend Dace Richter must work together to find them before chaos ensues and the balance between good and evil is destroyed. As their relationship deepens, Dace's evil brother Cade grows stronger than ever, building his power and forcing Daire and Dace to confront the horrifying prophecy that has brought them all together. It will leave Daire no choice but to claim her true destiny as Seeker, but only by making an unthinkable sacrifice.

REVIEW
When I read Fated, the first book in the series, I was weary, knowing that I didn't like Noel's previous series, but when I found a copy of Echo in my pigeon hole at work I was actually very excited.

Echo moves the story towards the destruction of Cade, Dace's evil twin brother. Both Daire and Dace must find a way to work together, and even apart, in order to restore the Middle and Lowerworlds back from the death and decay that Cade has wreaked. 

The first book has a steady pace, carefully setting up the story, giving you back story and taking your hand through Daire's new life. Echo really picks up the pace. Now you know who Daire is, what she is capable of and what sort of adversity she's facing we can start to get down to the nitty-gritty. It runs at full speed, pulling you along just as quickly but still able to fill you in on the little things from the last book you might have forgotten.

20 Oct 2012

THE DEAD OF WINTER - CHRIS PRIESTLY

SUMMARY
Michael Vyner recalls a terrible story, one that happened to him. One that would be unbelievable if it weren't true! Michael's parents are dead and he imagines that he will stay with the kindly lawyer, executor of his parents' will ...Until he is invited to spend Christmas with his guardian in a large and desolate country house. His arrival on the first night suggests something is not quite right when he sees a woman out in the frozen mists, standing alone in the marshes. But little can prepare him for the solitude of the house itself as he is kept from his guardian and finds himself spending the Christmas holiday wandering the silent corridors of the house seeking distraction. But lonely doesn't mean alone, as Michael soon realises that the house and its grounds harbour many secrets, dead and alive, and Michael is set the task of unravelling some of the darkest secrets of all.

REVIEW
It is no secret that I am a massive fan of Halloween, so when it comes to this point in the year I like to give myself a fright with some spooky stories. Christ Priestley is a chiller writer for children around the ages of 9-12, or big kids around 24... ahem. I have been meaning to pick up some of his books for a while so when I spotted this in the library I thought it would be the perfect opportunity.

The Dead of Winter follows traditions set by the wonderful Poe and the underestimatedly Gothic Charles Dickens. After the death of his mother, Michael Vyner is sent to live with a guardian in his creepy old mansion, Hawton Mere. Spooky events are abundant in the old house and never fails to disappoint. The atmosphere is built gradually through the fantastic descriptions of the house, really breathing life into the old walls. This reminded me so much of Poe, the artistic detail in giving a living, breathing anthropomorphic character to the old house. It is as much a part of the story as the human tale of woe behind all the hauntings.

It's narrative is not simple, nor does it carry any of the slang of modern day children. I'm pretty certain the story is set in the late 19th century, which completely adds to the feel of 'otherness'. For children reading this I think it is a clever scheme: it gives space in dialogue at the beginning to give the reader time to adjust to the older speech style but then whisks you so much into the action that you barely seem to notice. 

This has everything you could want from a traditional scary read: a haunted house, ghosts, mirrors, trap doors and a whole dose of mystery. If you've enjoyed more modern stories like Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book I guarantee you will love this. Its a super quick read at only just over 200 pages but it is so much fun. Give this to your kid and they will be absorbed for hours.


17 Oct 2012

CARNIVAL OF SOULS - MELISSA MARR

SUMMARY
An extraordinary new world, from the New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series. Enter the Carnival...In a city of daimons, strict class lines control every aspect of life. At the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls where, once in a generation, anyone can fight for their chance to join the elite. Kaleb is of the lowest caste; Aya is ruling caste - but female. They both face bleak futures and, for each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live. Mallory lives in the human world and knows little of The City, beyond the threat it poses her and her family. But soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls...Combining Melissa Marr's extraordinary world-building, breathtaking action, secrets, love and the struggle to forge one's own destiny, Carnival of Souls will blow your mind and win your heart.


REVIEW
Melissa Marr is a staple of YA reading, and I own her other series, Wicked Lovely, even though I haven't read them yet (fairies and I don't always mix very well). I wasn't sure what to expect when going in to this one, though I had heard good things on the blogosphere. I actually picked it up because it was new in at my local library, which really surprised me because of how soon it is after its release date - note to self, don't underestimate the library.

I'll try and set the premise up a little for you: The story is split between two worlds, the Human world where Witches are banished to and Mallory and her Witch father Adam live, and The City, where the 'Daimons' live. The Carnival of Souls refers to a part of and place in the story that I thought wasn't explored enough to warrant being the title. It's basically a Competition that citizens enter where they either kill their opponent or force them to forfeit in order to become one of the top ranking members of The City's government. Mallory is actually a Daimon child who is given at birth to the Witches as a sleight against her true father Marchosias (a stupid name that really annoyed me to read). Kaleb is then hired as an assassin to return her to her father in the Daimon world or kill her.

16 Oct 2012

PRETTY GIRL 13 - LIZ COLEY

SUMMARY
A gripping, suspenseful debut that will haunt you long after you have turned the final page...Angie Chapman is only 13 when she gets lost in the woods in the middle of the night. The next thing she knows she's returned home, scars around her wrists and ankles, physically exhausted. Her parents collapse into tears when they see her, but Angie doesn't understand - until they tell her she has been missing, presumed dead, for three years. Angie doesn't remember anything from her missing years. But there are people who do - people who could tell Angie every terrifying detail, if only they weren't locked inside her mind. With help, Angie begins to unravel the darkest secrets of her own past. But does she really want to know the truth?

REVIEW
Pretty Girl Thirteen is currently promoted as adult but this is a great novel for older teens who want a strong female character. The story begins almost mid actions; we find Angie as her psyche is just reappearing, unaware of anything between being in the woods on a camping trip and finding herself standing at the end of her road.

This isn't really a story to read for action. Although it is very gripping, it is also very sad and focuses more on Angie's rehabilitation and the psychological process of recuperation than simply relaying the narrative of her capture. It's a fragmented narrative that mirrors the splinters of her psyche, but this is a novel way of retelling her story without giving it the weighty atmosphere of terror and inescapability. 

As a lead character Angie is very likeable. She is funny, sweet and incredibly strong for a young woman who has been through so much. But then she doesn't know that she has. It really posed a question for me as to how would I expect myself to act if I had been told that I had been kept in captivity for 3 years but could remember nothing. Would I panic? Would I spend every moment trying to remember? Or would I rather forget it all and thank God that I had escaped with only physical scars? Angie doesn't react in any of these ways. She seems... fine. Confused but certainly not distraught or angry at the fact she can't remember anything. I felt that the narrative didn't really give her room to sit down and think - she was whisked away to school almost straight after she comes home. I think this was one of the only things that annoyed me; I understand that there must have been a great sense of relief when Angie reappears but there is no real anger in the novel, apart from the Dad, and he barely has a voice.

13 Oct 2012

LEFT HAND OF GOD - PAUL HOFFMAN

SUMMARY
'Listen. The Sanctuary of the Redeemers is named after a damned lie for there is no redemption that goes on there and less sanctuary'. The Sanctuary of the Redeemers: vast, desolate, hopeless. Where children endure brutal cruelty and violence in the name of the One True Faith. Lost in the Sanctuary's huge maze of corridors is a boy: his age uncertain, his real name unknown. They call him Cale. He is strange and secretive, witty and charming - and violent. But when he opens the wrong door at the wrong time he witnesses an act so horrible he must flee, or die. The Redeemers will go to any lengths to get Cale back. Not because of the secret he has discovered. But because of a more terrifying secret that lies undiscovered in himself.

REVIEW
I picked Left Hand of God as my second book, still venturing in to the world of adult, male-oriented, fiction (my previous one being Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence). Although I don't want to compare the two too much, I couldn't help thinking that I just wasn't enjoying it as much as the previous one, but then I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it too much if it had been the first. 

The novel is set in the type of place you would expect from adult fantasy, regressed future/alternate past, in a place I would guess at having vague resemblance to Spain. The storyline follows Thomas Cale, an Acolyte of the Sanctuary where Redeemers (holy teachers and leaders) use physical abuse, intimidation and flat-out fear to force the Acolytes, who are mere boys, to follow the One True Faith, that I can only assume is loosely based on Catholicism, in order to send them to fight a Holy war.

For a time I found it a little difficult to read. I am a girl of the 21st Century and have been numbed to violence like the majority of my generation, but I still can't help wanting to stop reading when it is on a page in front of me, and there is certainly a lot of violence in this. And its not the sword-on-sword action I mean either, its the horrible physical abuse. Although I always understand why its in the narrative that doesn't mean I'm comfortable with it.

7 Oct 2012

PRINCE OF THORNS - MARK LAWRENCE

SUMMARY
Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that's true enough, but there's something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse. From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.

REVIEW
I very rarely read books like this; adult fantasy that is aimed primarily at men. And you know what? I loved it. I couldn't put it down. I was completely sucked in by its quick-witted, whirlwind of a story. I initially picked it up because I wanted to see what my other half reads and had also had it recommended by several people at work. I'm so glad that out of all the fantasy the other half reads I picked this one up first. It is great for anyone who wants to venture into the genre or wants to graduate from the upper age end of YA fantasy.

One thing I should mention: it is absolutely not for the faint hearted. The story follows Jorg, Prince Jorg to be exact, who escapes his life at the Royal castle in favour of a life as a traveller, working his way across the country looking to find revenge for the death of his Mother and Brother. He doesn't do this in a quiet way, oh no, Jorg and his brothers murder, torture, burn, rape and pillage their way across the kingdoms and enjoy themselves with it too.

26 Sep 2012

UNREMEMBERED - JESSICA BRODY

SUMMARY
When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe. Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them. Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?

REVIEW
I'm lucky enough to have received an advance copy of this book from a rep and was immediately intrigued by its premise. I don't read contemporary novels very often but was glad that I picked this up. It errs towards science fiction and is as fast-paced as a spy thriller.

It's premise is great: A girl, named Violet by the nurses in hospital, is found floating in the ocean after a suspicious plane crash. After being placed with a foster family she becomes determined to find out where she comes from, and to also find out more about the mysterious boy who continues to follow her every move.

The Unremembered is a fantastically built novel. The suspense gradually grows into a high octane thriller that will have you gripping your seat. I was shocked time and time again by the abilities Violet discovers in herself and it was really fun to discover everything she can do at the same time she does. There were several times I was completely unsure how Violet was going to get out of the situations she gets in, which reminded me of the twists of The Hunger Games.  You're never sure who to trust, or if any of her memories are ever real. It's not really a dystopian novel as such but will appeal to fans of these.

12 Sep 2012

THE SELECTION - KEIRA CASS

SUMMARY
Thirty-five beautiful girls. Thirty-five beautiful rivals...It's the chance of a lifetime and 17-year-old America Singer should feel lucky. She has been chosen for The Selection, a reality TV lottery in which the special few compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon's love. Swept up in a world of elaborate gowns, glittering jewels and decadent feasts, America is living a new and glamorous life. And the prince takes a special interest in her, much to the outrage of the others. Rivalry within The Selection is fierce and not all of the girls are prepared to play by the rules. But what they don't know is that America has a secret - one which could throw the whole competition...and change her life forever.

REVIEW
I must stop judging books by their covers. I must stop judging books by their covers. If I keep telling myself that maybe one day I'll listen

The gist of the story is America Singer, narrator and generally stubborn lead character is picked in a lottery to become a contestant in 'The Selection': a country-wide competition to find a girl to marry the crown price Maxon. There are a lot of dystopian similarities between this and The Hunger Games but obviously with none of the gravity. 

I have to say that I quite surprised myself by enjoying this book. I expected it to be rather shallow and although it almost is, America's character really brought it forward to me. She is funny and strong and doesn't cower in a corner like the rest of the girls. She has the best of both worlds and I really enjoyed the growing triangle between Prince Maxon and her former boyfriend Aspen. It's got a fun, glitzy edge to it with the rivalry between the girls and the television interviews. I really enjoyed the banter, it was witty and funny. 

8 Sep 2012

BLACK HEART BLUE - LOUISA REID

SUMMARY
"They tried to make me go to my sister's funeral today. In the end I'd had to give in ...I'd been walking in her shadow for sixteen years and I liked its cool darkness. It was a good place to hide". How would you feel if your twin sister died suddenly? Particularly if she was the beautiful one and you were horribly disfigured. And how would it feel to be alone now if you and your sister were the only ones to know the truth about what takes place behind closed doors at home? And what would you do if it was your parents who brought danger and terror into your life? Would you dare reveal how your sister died? And would you be brave enough to find an escape of your own? "Black Heart Blue" is a powerful novel about the domestic horrors that can unfold within a small community - and one girl's quest to stand up for the truth.

REVIEW
Rebecca and Hephzibah are non-identical twins practically imprisoned in the Vicarage. They are both mentally and physically abused by their parents and while they are home schooled have very little contact with the outside world. When they finally convince their parents to let them go to college they both get a taste of the outside world. The story follows the sisters' desperate attempts to find salvation from the horror of their lives. We join them as they are released in to the 'real' world and realise that they are worth so much more than how they have been treated. 

Black Heart Blue is a very moving and compelling read. It will take you to the extremes of child abuse, hinting at events without being too open, making this an eye-opening read for older teens. Hephzibah's voice is perfectly pitched like a teenagers diary, full of self-confidence and daring. She explores her social skills and adapts quickly, trying out make up and trying to attract boys. Her sister, Rebecca is almost her polar opposite. She keeps to the shadows and tries to make life as safe for herself and her sister as possible. I found that I had to keep reminding myself that they were twins, Hephzibah always felt older, even though Rebecca's voice is more defined.

The dynamic between the two sisters is both hard to read and immensely touching. There is no patronising 'we are twins so we can understand each other better than anyone' - they are much more like normal sisters. Reid is very honest in her portrayal of them, especially towards Rebecca's disfigurement, and sometimes it is brutal, but this works to enforce the teenage attitudes of desperately wanting to be normal or fit in.

6 Sep 2012

THE GIRL ON THE STAIRS - LOUISE WELSE

SUMMARY
Jane Logan is a stranger to Berlin and she finds the city alive and echoing with the ghosts of its turbulent past. At six months pregnant, she's instructed by her partner Petra to rest and enjoy her new life in Germany. But while Petra is out at work, Jane begins to feel uneasy in their chic apartment. Screams reverberate through the walls, lights flicker in the derelict building that looms over the yard, a shadow passes on the stairs... Jane meets a neighbour's daughter, a girl whose life she tries to mend, but her involvement only further isolates her. Alone and haunted, Jane fears the worst...but the worst is yet to come. Louise Welsh, the acclaimed author of The Cutting Room, delivers another masterful suspense novel. The Girl on the Stairs is a powerful psychological thriller packed with twists and turns to keep you reading well into the night. Read it, or be left in the dark.

REVIEW
Firstly, I take absolutely no please in giving bad/negative reviews but I was so disappointed with this book. I picked it up because I've been trying to increase my knowledge of current adult fiction and Louise Welsh is an author I'd seen some good reviews for and was curious to see what the fuss was about. 

The premise of this book is that a pregnant Jane moves to Berlin with her partner Petra and as a result becomes isolated from society. Whilst stuck in her apartment building she comes across Anna, looking battered and bruised and assumes that she is being abused by her father, a renowned doctor. She pushes this idea as far as she can and this has 'devastating' consequences.

As a protagonist Jane is immensely irritating. Although I agreed with her dilemma that if you believe someone is being abused you should stand up for them, it becomes an obsession for her. Not only were there many occasions where I wished she would just drop it (even though it was the main storyline) I also found the fact that she was pregnant and smoking hard to read. It is a personal opinion and although I try to stay objective with any book and understand that some women find it hard to give up something they are so addicted to for a pregnancy there was no remorse in Jane, no exploration or explanation as to why. It was just a simple fact. I know this is a sideline to the actual plot, but the reader spends so much time in the mind of a biased narrator that perhaps her views would have fitted in well. This, plus the fact that she is a pregnant lesbian surrounded by supposed abuse and prostitutes, makes the book feel like it is trying to find controversy. Mainly because Jane was bored. I understand that we are supposed to know that she is an unreliable narrator who is possibly suffering delusions or developing obsessions because she is isolated but it got to a point where I just didn't care anymore.

31 Aug 2012

THE AGE OF MIRACLES - KAREN THOMPSON WALKER

SUMMARY
'It is never what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different - unimagined, unprepared for, unknown...' What if our 24-hour day grew longer, first in minutes, then in hours, until day becomes night and night becomes day? What effect would this slowing have on the world? On the birds in the sky, the whales in the sea, the astronauts in space, and on an eleven-year-old girl, grappling with emotional changes in her own life..? One morning, Julia and her parents wake up in their suburban home in California to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth is noticeably slowing. The enormity of this is almost beyond comprehension. And yet, even if the world is, in fact, coming to an end, as some assert, day-to-day life must go on. Julia, facing the loneliness and despair of an awkward adolescence, witnesses the impact of this phenomenon on the world, on the community, on her family and on herself.

REVIEW
In The Age of Miracles the world is beginning to change. The rotation of the Earth how slowed and is aptly being known at 'The Slowing'. Days and nights are growing longer and so is the gap between social groups - the Government rules that people should keep to the 24 hour 'clock time' to keep the economy stable and society running as normal as possible. But there are those who don't want to live like this, they are those who keep the days for waking and nights for sleeping. This story focuses on Julia, an 11 year old girl whose family tries to stay as normal as possible during the slowing. It is also her coming-of-age story, she struggles with the pressure of school and friends groups, and also noticing boys for the first time.

It's hard to describe The Age of Miracles without mentioning 2012 and our fears that the Earth is supposed to end this year, but in so many ways this is not what it is about. It is not post-apocolyptic. Yes, the physical world is changing faster than man can adapt, but life hasn't changed. What Walker does is create a novel that personifies our fears but makes it as human as possible. There is still love, heatbreak, childish bullying, but there is something so much more. It is just the world that is changing, not the people. Society still functions in the way it always has; we are selfish, over-bearing, and quick to judge those who don't want to follow along in our lifestyles.

THE SNOW CHILD - EOWYN IVEY

SUMMARY
Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?

REVIEW
I was so excited when I unpacked about a billion copies of this book, it looked so good package-wise. I loved the premise too - that it was a remaking of a Fairy Tale - and I also loved the setting. I read a book called Blood and Ice a few years ago and since I've really enjoyed books set in Tundra-like places. This one is set in the 1920's in Alaska. Mabel and Jack, a middle-aged couple at the heart of the novel are good people, but I feel that nothing really happened or nothing was said that made me really connect with them.

There are things I liked about it; the atmosphere of the setting was fantastic, and I could almost feel the cold. The way Ivey describes the Alaskan wilderness perfectly captures its beautiful cruelty. Also, it made me think about how civilizations begin, how these little villages prevailed and created its community. It subtly askes us questions about the bounds of social regulation: should Mabel and Jack have forced the child to go to school, to make her stay with them? Or should they have let her go, be wild and 'free'. What is it about our lives that make us feel trapped, and if we are just creatures like wolves and foxes, why do we feel we must fit our lives into expectations and pathways? Both Mabel and Faina show that we will always be trapped by our emotions, whether we are cooped up physically or not.

23 Aug 2012

DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT - LAINI TAYLOR

THIS IS THE SECOND BOOK IN THE SERIES SO MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST BOOK.

SUMMARY
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living - one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers' arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.

Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon's secret temple and dreamed of a world that was a like a jewel-box without a jewel - a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.

This was not that world.

REVIEW
Days of Blood and Starlight is the second in a trilogy, and the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. If you haven't read the first book I don't recommend continuing to read this review - I don't want to spoil anything for you.

I don't want to give too much of a summary of this novel, because even the blurb doesn't give anything away. Its twists and turns begin on the very first pages and I really don't want to ruin it for anyone. This one is not for the faint hearted. After finishing the first book it is like waking up in the real world and realising your easy, safe life was just a fairy tale. If I've learnt anything from this book its that things can always get worse, "usually worse".

If not for the easy way Taylor has of making you invest in her characters, this would be a confusing book. With so many characters changing bodies and description it takes another level of writing for you to still be able to identify the individual voices. Nothing is simple, and that is the point. 

12 Aug 2012

AMITY AND SORROW - PEGGY RILEY

SUMMARY
In the wake of a suspicious fire, Amaranth gathers her children and flees from the blazing Mormon compound where her children were born and raised. Now she is on the run with no one but her barely-teenage daughters, Amity and Sorrow, neither of whom have ever seen the outside world, to help her. After four days of driving without sleep, Amaranth crashes the car, leaving the family stranded at a gas station, unsure of what to do next. Rescue comes in the unlikely form of a downtrodden farmer, a man who offers sanctuary when the women need it most. AMITY & SORROW is the story of these remarkable women, their lives before and leading up to the night they fled, and their heartbreaking, hopeful future. Over the course of a season Amaranth will test the limits of her faith, and her daughters will test the limits of her patience. While Amity blossoms in this new world, free from her father's forbidding rules and ecstatic worship, Sorrow will move heaven and earth trying to get back home...And, meanwhile, the outside world hasn't forgotten about the fire on the compound.

REVIEW
Amity and Sorrow centres around the story of Amaranth, who has escaped from a polyamorous cult with her two daughters, Amity and Sorrow. Amaranth is wife number 1 and 50. The beginning and the end. Although the narrative is third person, it is given primarily from her view. She represents one and all, before and after and most importantly, during. There is so much imagery of interconnection, spinning and circular, and she embodies all of this. 

This book doesn't necessarily have drive. It is not an action narrative and the setting only really moves through flashbacks.  Amaranth's life is like this. She is stuck in one spot, frightened and bound both by her faith and what her faith has become. It focuses more heavily on the psychological effects of both giving yourself freely over to a faith or cult (and I don't specifically mean a religious one) and being born into one, and what that does to a child's social and psychological awareness. Faith begins to highlight its growing gap from logic, how keeping the children of the compound ignorant - even to reading and writing - is said to keep them safe, but instead it denies them anyway in which to arm themselves, as so sadly mirrors slavery.

4 Aug 2012

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE - LAINI TAYLOR

SUMMARY
Errand requiring immediate attention. Come. The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. 'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things. When Brimstone called, she always came. In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole. Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

REVIEW
Every once in a while a book comes along that is quiet brilliance. This is such a book. In my eyes Laini Taylor is a genius; a master of language, of raw emotion. She knows how to drop innocuous phrases into the text, only to have to meaning of them explode in your face later on.

The story centres around Karou, part time art student who is always at the beck and call of Brimstone, one of a few Chimaera (some would call them hybrids or monsters) who have fostered Karou since she can remember. She grows up knowing that the world of her family, who are made of snakes or birds or any number of exotic hybrids, is set apart from the human world that she spends most of her time in.

Karou is a brilliant character. She's a teenager in essence: quick to anger, unsure of who she is, sometimes over confident - but she is more than this. She doesn't buy in to thinking that a man will make her whole like Bella from Twilight. Even when it comes the time when she has to choose between the man or her family, her loyalty to her family always wins out. She's tough as hell but compassionate when it matters. Needless to say she is one of my favourite female protagonists of all time.

12 Jul 2012

THE TAKER - ALMA KATSU

SUMMARY
This is an immortal love story. Have you ever loved someone so much that you'd do anything for them? When Dr Luke Findley turns up to his hospital shift in the small town of St Andrews, Maine, he's expecting just another evening of minor injuries and domestic disputes. But instead, Lanore McIlvrae walks into his life - and changes it forever. For Lanny is a woman with a past... Lanny McIlvrae is unlike anyone Luke has ever met. Hers is a story of love and betrayal that defies time and transcends mortality - but this tale cannot end until Lanny's demons are finally put to rest. Her two hundred years on this earth have seen her seduced by both decadence and brutality - yet through it all she has only ever had one true love in her life. Until now. An unforgettable novel about the power of unrequited love to elevate and sustain, but also to blind and ultimately destroy, "The Taker" is an immortal love story on an epic scale...

REVIEW
Firstly, this book is not suitable for younger readers. Twilight fans who want to continue their forbidden love teen angst need not look here. This is the other, unbelievably extreme, sort of love. The fact that it labels itself as 'An Immortal Love Story' is ironic in a way. I picked it up by this tagline, thinking I could enjoy paranormality with a more adult storyline but I never imagined the utter brutality of this.

The story is set initially in the present, Dr. Luke meets 'Lanny' in his hospital who proceeds to tell him her story of how she came to be there. This is not a short story, she really starts at the beginning, and I'm talking her very beginning, back in the early 1800's. The settings were great and her storyline actually starts believably. I grew to like her, she's a normal person, not 100% pure or honest. Her only problem is that she is completely and blindly in love with the son of the biggest family in the town: Jonathan St. Andrew.

1 Jul 2012

Showcase Sunday - 01/07/12




Showcase Sunday is a weekly Meme designed to show what bloggers have received and bought through the week. It's hosted by Vicky over at Books, Biscuits and Tea.



I haven't update this Meme for a while because even though I received the books a couple of weeks ago I hadn't signed them out. So this is kind of a bumper edition - a look at all the awesome things wonderful publishers have sent us!

I have to put a special mention in for Walker Books. I was lucky enough to be able to go to their Autumn Roadshow and got a super cool Where's Wally goody bag with some proofs from their new catalogue. A couple of days after this I received a surprise package with another 5 YA books, so thank you very much Walker!

So, from the event I received:

Kill You Last - Todd Strasser (Out Now)
Black Spring - Alison Croggon (Jan 2013)
Granny Samurai - John Chambers (Jan 2013)
The Girl Who Could Silence The Wind - Meg Medina (Out Now)

Walker Package:

Carry Me Down - M. J. Hyland
The Book Of Lies - Mary Horlock
Diabolical - Cynthia Leitich Smith
Wish You Were Dead - Todd Strasser
Blood On My Hands - Todd Strasser

From HarperCollins: 

Unravelling - Elizabeth Norris

From Work/Bought:

Black Heart Blue - Louisa Reid
The Fading - Christopher Ransom

It seems like the second half of this year will see lots of adult books re-released for teenagers, which is an exciting thing! I'm pretty sure Carry Me Down was shortlisted for the booker a long time ago (though I may have misremembered this) and I've also been eyeing up the adult version of The Book of Lies too.

A big thank you again to everyone who has sent things to me. I will obviously try my best to read everything but reviews may be delayed for the months to come. Hope you have found something here that you like the look of and want to add to your wish lists. 

22 Jun 2012

NEW GIRL - PAIGE HARBISON

SUMMARY
A contemporary young-adult retelling inspired by the classic 1938 romantic suspense bestseller Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

They call me 'New Girl'...

Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed—because of her.

Becca Normandy—that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me at the academy. And everyone stares at me like it’s my fault. Except for Max Holloway—the boy whose name shouldn’t be spoken. At least, not by me. Everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend…but she’s gone, and here I am, replacing her. I wish it were that easy. Sometimes, when I think of Max, I can imagine how Becca’s life was so much better than mine could ever be.

And maybe she’s still out there, waiting to take it back

REVIEW
I cannot tell you how much this book annoyed me. Not the best start to a review I'll admit. I'm going to try my best to not compare this to Rebecca, because I have to admit that it makes me cringe to think this could stand up to it. Rebecca is a modern Gothic classic whereas this, well, isn't.

It is split, on the whole, between 'New Girl's and Becca's narrative, in first and third person respectively. This is probably the best format for this type of novel as it allows the reader to see just why EVERYONE had come to love Becca and miss her so much.

It started well for me. The build up to the 'New Girl's arrival at Manderley is ok, ignoring the fact her parents are a little flat and one dimensional. It establishes her character well, her love of the Florida weather and its style. She's timid and comfortable in the life she has and does not initially want to leave to go to this new school just for a couple of years.

Manderley itself has no real presence and I feel Harbison has missed a trick by not using it more. The people there, however, are far from what you would expect from private school pupils. The girls are unbelievably shallow. Every couple of pages talk about sex or boys or 'who fancies who'. Yes, this happens with teenagers but no where near to the extend of this. It's so repetitive. And if this didn't annoy me enough they are always drinking or drunk or talking about how drinking is the answer to everything.

POLTERGEEKS - SEAN CUMMINGS

SUMMARY
15-year-old Julie Richardson is about to learn that being the daughter of a witch isn't all it's cracked up to be. When she and her best friend, Marcus, witness an elderly lady jettisoned out the front door of her home, it's pretty obvious to Julie there's a supernatural connection. 

In fact, there's a whisper of menace behind increasing levels of poltergeist activity all over town. After a large-scale paranormal assault on Julie's high school, her mother falls victim to the spell Endless Night. Now it's a race against time to find out who is responsible or Julie won't just lose her mother's soul, she'll lose her mother's life.

REVIEW
Poltergeeks is a novel that moves at absolute break-neck speed. I honestly don't think I have read a novel so fast paced! I loved this about it. It never stops. There's a few pages for the reader to lean on their knees and take a few wheezing, out-of-shape breaths and then you're off again. This might not work for everyone, and a couple of times I did have to back-track and re-read action scenes because sometimes I was trying to follow things faster than my brain would allow. There is always something happening and this is becoming rare in teenage books that drag on with endless pages of descriptions. It seems no matter where Julie is something happens to her. The whole book is set over 2/3 days, I think, and I have no idea how Julie wasn't as exhausted as I was in the end.

In terms of narration the story is told by Julie, who I absolutely loved. She's not your average female narrater. At times I had a little difficulty in believing that she was only 15, but her early teenage attitude did a little to make up for that. I thought she was really funny, she's not perfect (as she will well admit) and she doesn't hold back at being a bitch. She's not evil, but Cummings does her door-slamming teenage attitude really well. 

I don't actually have a massive amount to say about this book other than I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters are few but well rounded and perfectly formed. It's light-hearted and a brilliantly fun read. It fell just short of a 5th star from me just because it's not much of a social commentary, which most of my favourite books are - this is just a personal point. 

Add it to your wish lists, its really good fun.

4 Jun 2012

THE NAME OF THE STAR - MAUREEN JOHNSON

SUMMARY
Thrilling ghost-hunting teen mystery as modern-day London is plagued by a sudden outbreak of brutal murders that mimic the horrific crimes of Jack the Ripper. Sixteen-year-old American girl Rory has just arrived at boarding school in London when a Jack the Ripper copycat-killer begins terrorising the city. All the hallmarks of his infamous murders are frighteningly present, but there are few clues to the killer's identity. "Rippermania" grabs hold of modern-day London, and the police are stumped with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. In an unknown city with few friends to turn to, Rory makes a chilling discovery! Could the copycat murderer really be Jack the Ripper back from the grave?

REVIEW
The Name of the Star follows the life of Rory, a teenager from the Louisiana swamps who moves to a boarding school in London. Whilst there she discovers that she has the power to see dead people thanks to a near death experience.

I have to admit that I didn't like this book at first. I could understand the hype and that the majority of people would love it, but for me it felt a little...false? This might be because I am English, and the book is written from the point of view of an American experiencing British life for the first time. It's a petty complaint, but I felt that I spent a lot of time being introduced to a culture I obviously know inside out. I know that if it were the other way round, an English girl moving to live in America, I probably wouldn't have been so annoyed, but I couldn't help it.

Like I said, I didn't like this book, at first. I did warm to it about halfway in. It's a slow burner, and when it gets going it's not exactly a firecracker but it was okay. The character's get better. Jazza, Rory's roommate is pretty cool. I like that she isn't supposed to be a spoilt rich girl, she's a normal teen who is fortunate enough to be able to go to a boarding school. I also liked the male characters, but if you're looking for a deep down burning teenage love-fest this isn't your book, although I think this will be elaborated on it the next book.

3 Jun 2012

Showcase Sunday - 03/06/12



Showcase Sunday is a weekly Meme designed to show what bloggers have received and bought through the week. I wasn't sure whether to go with this or Letterbox Love, another UK based Meme, but I don't suppose it matters as they are essentially the same thing.

Anyway, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vicky over at Books, Biscuits and Tea.

I've had a pretty awesome week and I'm very grateful for it! I have a lot to read but there are some fantastic titles here and I'm really looking forward to them. I've just finished Name of the Star so I'm about to start on Poltergeeks!


31 May 2012

ALL THESE THINGS I'VE DONE - GABRIELLE ZEVIN

SUMMARY
Sixteen year-old Anya's parents have been murdered because her father was the head of a notorious underworld gang. Now she is determined to keep herself and her siblings away from that world. But her father's relatives aren't so keen to let them go. When Anya's violent ex-boyfriend is poisoned with contaminated chocolate - chocolate that is produced illegally by Anya's criminal family - she is arrested for attempted murder. Disconcertingly, it is the new D.A. in town who releases her from jail, but her freedom comes with conditions. The D.A. is the father of Win, a boy at school to whom Anya feels irresistibly drawn. Win's father won't risk having his political ambitions jeopardised by his son seeing a member of a crime family. She is to stay away with him. Anya knows she risks her freedom and the safety of her brother and sister by seeing Win again. Neither the D.A. nor the underworld will allow it. But the feeling between them is so strong that she may be unable to resist him...

REVIEW
All These Things I've Done is a fast-paced story about a family struggling with loss and the weight of reputation. Set about 80 years in the future the world is a vision of a dystopian future. Manhattan has become a grey, desolate wasteland where everything is rationed by vouchers, including water. It is more importantly about a loss of childhood; the three Balanchine children are forced to grow up quickly and understand everything that has happened to their family. It's a darkly humorous whirlwind through the life of a teenager who has to struggle with both the normal teen processes of falling in love, but also the adult burdens of being born into a dangerous criminal underworld.

Anya is the (now orphaned) daughter of a 'mafiya' crime boss who was murdered in his home. Her mother is also dead and she is now under the guardianship of her aged grandmother who is only being kept alive by machines until Anya is eighteen and able to take guardianship of her siblings: Natty, her younger sister, and Leo, her brother who has slight learning difficulties that means he is vulnerable and easily manipulated.

24 May 2012

GRAVE MERCY - ROBIN LEFEVERS

SUMMARY
Young, beautiful and deadly. Trained as an assassin by the god of Death, Ismae is sent to the court of Brittany, where she finds herself under prepared - not only for the games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death's vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart? This is a dangerous romance full of intrigue, poison and ultimately finding one's way.

REVIEW
Grave Mercy is the story of a girl bought from humble, abusive beginnings who is sent to a convent for the Daughter's of Death. Those that Death has somehow sired himself. These girls are then trained as Assassins, or 'Handmaiden's of Death' to kill upon their God's orders sent to them through the convent. I loved this concept! Although it wasn't quite what I expected when I read the Press Release sheet that came with this copy (i.e. a hooded grim reaper duelling with the main character in order to teach her how to use a sword) I wasn't that disappointed either.

The fact that it is an Historical novel I have now decided is a good move for YA and a direction that I originally was withdrawn about. I don't normally enjoy Historical stories that much, (not including Deborah Harkness' Shadow of Night, that's in a league of its own) but I really warmed to this. It's in the vein of Philippa Gregory and perhaps a younger version of Tracy Chevalier. The fact that it is set in the 15th Century means that it implies much about the treatment and abuse of women at the time, which may not make it completely suitable for younger teen readers. Obviously with Ismae as the main character the inclusion is necessary and adds historical depth.

I didn't initially like Ismae. I'd been shown the hard life she had come from but I still didn't warm to her straight away. I found her cocky and overconfident and didn't sympathise with her situation as much as I should have. However her character goes through an amazing journey and really does grown and develop, which is the sign of a great series in-the-making.

23 May 2012

THE PLEDGE - KIMBERLEY DERTING

SUMMARY
Words are the most dangerous weapon of all...Seventeen-year-old Charlaina knows she has exceptional but perilous powers. In the far future, in a land controlled by an aged and ruthless queen, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. Even acknowledging a member of the ruling class while they are speaking their native tongue is punishable by death. Charlie can understand all languages, a secret she must protect to stay alive. When she meets the alluringly handsome Max, who speaks in a language she hasn't heard before, she is intensely attracted to him. Max believes that Charlie is the key to something bigger and he pledges to protect her. But as war descends, can she trust him?

REVIEW
This is another book I've picked up in order to fuel my obsession with Young Adult Dystopian novels and, thankfully, I wasn't disappointed. The main gist of the story is that Charlaina, the main narrator, is born with the power to understand any language. This is especially significant as the story is set in a country that specifically rules its class hierarchies through language. It is also reminiscent of the story of Anastasia and the Russian Romanov family (without giving too much away).

The Pledge has a very easy narrative, and I absolutely flew through it. It wasn't perhaps the most exciting book I've read so far this year but it did keep me on my toes. It successfully did what any Dystopia should do - kept you guessing where the characters loyalties lay. Was Charlaina about to be taken advantage of and duped, or is she actually playing a smart game? Being able to understand anyone puts her in the best position for gaining information to use for her advantage.

16 May 2012

DEADLY HEMLOCK - KATHLEEN PEACOCK

SUMMARY
Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered. Since then, Mac's life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac's hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy's Killer: A white werewolf. Lupine Syndrome -- the werewolf virus - is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control and the Trackers are determined to stop those with Lupine Syndrome, at any cost. Unwilling to work with the brutal Trackers, but desperately wanting to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy's murder herself. But the deeper she delves into the mystery behind Amy's death, the more secrets she discovers lurking in the shadows of Hemlock. Secrets that should have been left untold. Secrets that will change her life forever.

REVIEW
I really liked the initial premise of this story; supernatural elements mixed with a murder investigation, but the actual story didn't really read like this. The blurb does fit it but makes it sound a lot more exciting than it is. I didn't really dislike the book, there wasn't a time when I didn't feel like reading through to the end, but I felt that it didn't take enough time to initially introduce the characters, and because of this I was regularly confused as to which of her many men Mac was talking to.

As a narrator and main character Mac is ok. And really, just ok. I didn't really care that much what happened to her. She seemed to spend a lot of time being blind to everything that was actually going on around her, especially the affection of the two main men in her life, Jason and Kyle. She jumps to conclusions that I felt were way ahead of the narrative, like going straight to the idea that her friend's girlfriend must be pregnant because she looked a bit bedraggled. I didn't feel like I had enough context about the couple to guess it (whether it is true or not) or to even look back and see the clues. I suppose what I mean is that I felt there were parts of the story that were missing, or unnecessary. 

12 May 2012

BEAUTIFUL CHAOS - KAMI GARCIS & MARGARET STOHL

THIS IS BOOK 3 OF THE CASTER CHRONICLES AND MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS OF THE FIRST TWO.

SUMMARY
Ethan Wate is in love with a caster girl. When he looks at Lena, it's like there's no one else in the world. But Ethan is mortal, and on her seventeenth birthday Lena made a choice that changed everything. The girl Ethan loves has broken the world with the supernatural powers she is struggling to control ...Now, if they are to fix the chaos Lena has caused, one of them must make a terrible sacrifice. Sometimes there isn't just one answer. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending. This is the third installment of the spellbinding love story that began with "Beautiful Creatures".

REVIEW
I have loved this series from the beginning. Sometime a series can falter, stumble and fail as it gets this far in, but for me the Caster Chronicles just gets stronger. There are so many books where the characters lose their personalities and just become stock pawns for a standard storyline. This is where Beautiful Chaos sets itself apart. From the very first book the reader watches the characters change, evolve both mentally and physically without becoming unbelievable. The children have matured, the adults changed by emotions and events and they feel so real. So real that I care about them, to the point where I cried at the ending.

In this, the 3rd book in the series, Lena and Ethan must face the Eighteenth Moon, but who's it is is still in question. Since Lena's claiming went wrong the Order of Things has been broken and Gatlin has been in a state of looming Apocalypse. They must find a way to put things right. However, things are happening behind the scenes that neither Lena nor Ethan know about or can control. They must find out what their places are in the prophecy before they can make any changes.

10 May 2012

FATED - ALYSON NOEL

SUMMARY
Strange things have been happening to Daire Santos. Animals follow her, crows mock her, glowing people appear from nowhere. Worried that Daire's having a breakdown, her mother sends her to stay with the grandmother she's never met, who lives on the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico.There Daire crosses paths with Dace, a gorgeous guy with unearthly blue eyes. Her grandmother recognizes Daire's episodes for what they are - a call to her true destiny as a Soul Seeker, a person who can navigate between the living and the dead. Guided by her grandmother, Daire must be quick to learn how to harness her powers, because Dace's brother is an evil shape-shifter, out to steal them. Daire must embrace her fate as a Soul Seeker and discover whether Dace is the guy she's meant to be with ...or if he's allied with the enemy she's destined to destroy.

REVIEW
I wasn't the biggest fan of Noel's previous series, it felt naive and amateur, the writing a little weak, so I was weary when beginning to read this one. Actually, it was ok. I warmed to it more and more as the story evolved. The writing seemed brighter, stronger somehow. I found the characters more rounded, less stock pawns for the storyline and more like real people.

The basic storyline follows 17 year old Daire; a sweet girl, quite grounded and actually very likeable. Her mother, whom she refers to by her first name, Jennika, is a make up artist for Hollywood movies and therefore they both travel to wherever her skills are needed. When Daire starts to see grim visions she is sent to live with her grandmother in the town of Enchantment, New Mexico. 

22 Apr 2012

HEART SHAPED BRUISE - TANYA BYRNE

SUMMARY
They say I'm evil. The police. The newspapers. The girls from school who sigh on the six o'clock news and say they always knew there was something not quite right about me. And everyone believes it. Including you. But you don't know. You don't know who I used to be. Who I could have been. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever shake off my mistakes or if I'll just carry them around with me forever like a bunch of red balloons Awaiting trial at Archway Young Offenders Institution, Emily Koll is going to tell her side of the story for the first time. Heart-Shaped Bruise is a compulsive and moving novel about infamy, identity and how far a person might go to seek revenge.

REVIEW
I had heard so much buzz about this book all over Twitter, it had been given 5 stars by so many people that I began to grow curious: what is this book? And why did it have such a strange (and I hate to say it but pretty terrible) name? I had to find out. I requested a copy and the wonderful publisher very kindly obliged. Many people commented that it looks like a crime novel and if I hadn't read the synopsis then the cover would have led me to believe it is too. Even though the main event that the writing centres around is a stabbing, it is SO much more than this.

Its main gist, without giving anything major away, is this: Emily Koll, the narrator of the diary-style narrative, is in the psychiatric ward of a Young Offenders Institute for stabbing Juliet, who had initially stabbed Emily's father in an act of self defence after he had broken into Juliet's home and killer her father. (It sounds complicated but when you start reading it will all make sense). Emily discovers that her Dad had actually been some kind of East-End Gangster and now feels that in stabbing him Juliet had taken everything in her life away from her and wants revenge. I'll stop here because what she does next is important in driving the narrative.

19 Apr 2012

SHADOW OF NIGHT - DEBORAH HARKNESS

THIS BOOK MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FROM THE FIRST BOOK IN THE ALL SOULS TRILOGY.

SUMMARY
It began with A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES. Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened. Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot. Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers...Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew once more in this stunning, richly imagined, epic tale.

REVIEW
Firstly, I loved A Discovery of Witches. It was absolutely inspired but unfortunately I have left it too long since reading to give it a review that would really do it justice.

Shadow of Night is just as amazing. When I first received this advanced copy I was so unbelievably excited that I wasn't even overwhelmed by the fact it was over 700 pages and that I could barely fit it in my tiny girl hands. From the first pages I was right back where we left off, it felt like I had never been away. Harkness creates the most intoxicating and absorbing narrative that not even the inane chatter on the train could disturb. I was happily sucked in to Elizabethan England, enjoying the author's indulgence in creating personalities for real historical figures and bringing to life the characters we were introduced to secondhand in the first book.

22 Mar 2012

DARK STORM - SARAH SINGLETON

SUMMARY
Ellie is staying with her maternal grandparents for the summer, while her recently bereaved dad takes off on holiday with his new girlfriend. Upset by his apparent callousness, missing her mother, and jealous for her dad's attention, she begins to spiral into depression. Her grandparents suggest she joins a local theatre group, to meet people her own age and get away from the dark thoughts that threaten to engulf her. But then she gets roped into a seance at the theatre, and is the only one who actually sees a real ghost. Now a spirit is contacting her from beyond the grave - and as the dead boy's story unfolds, Ellie finds herself falling in love with him. But if she solves his mystery and helps release his soul, will he be lost to her forever?

REVIEW
Dark Storm appeared in my pigeonhole at work after my annual leave as an unexpected (and wholly lovely) advance copy treat from Simon and Schuster. Inside, along with the book, was a cutting of a review of the book from SFX. I can't find a link for it on the internet anywhere though so unfortunately I can't share it with you. The long and short of it is that the final paragraph was highlighted for my attention and says: "In the end, this isn't a shallow love story but an exploration of all sorts of love, and loss." [Miriam McDonald -SFX] I don't completely agree with this view point, but I'll get round to that.

EDIT: You can find Miriam's review HERE.

Dark Storm did catch my attention almost immediately; Ellie, the main character, finds a package behind the shelves of a secondhand bookshop at the same time that a mysterious breeze slams the shop door. (With me yet? This is the stuff a bibliophile's dreams are made of!). When she finally gets the package home she finds a deconstructed model theatre and a script for an historic version of Romeo and Juliet. Storyline-wise, it began to shape up as a great tale. I loved the settings of the beach, the sea, the cliffs and even the multiple designs of the theatre (I don't want to give too much away by explaining that). It really did make me want it to be Summer so I could have my coastal holiday. I loved its atmosphere and the ease of the prose, but the only thing I didn't like was most of what happened after the promising beginning. 

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