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Gap Year in Ghost Town

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By: Michael Pryor

Anton Marin has ghost-sight, it runs in his family, even though his father doesn’t have it. It is their job to send the ghosts out of this world. Their’s is a gentler approach to many of the others who pursue the same calling. Into his uncertain world crashes Rani Cross, her method involves a lot more slashing and sword work, needless to say they don’t see eye to eye. This is a moot point however when it becomes clear something is going on causing a massive spike in ghostly manifestations. In order to get the the bottom of things they need to find a way to work together. As things become more violent and crazy Anton needs to somehow find the time in this his gap year, to decide if this is the career he really wants.

In this book it is the girl who is more physical and this makes for a delightful extra dimension in the buddy hunting theme. Anton is a torn character, he knows ghost hunting is a family thing, and if he has the gift he should probably use it, however it is so not really what he wants to do with his life. He also doesn’t want to disappoint his dad. This story is not only intriguing and entertaining, it delves into some real family issues that people feel growing up and that makes Anton easy to identify with, even if his choices are beyond the bounds of what us normal folk experience. Anton and Rani balance each other well and keep the story moving at a good pace. A fun read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Published: 26th July 2017

Key Words: Ghosts, Ghost Hunting, Family, Intrigue

ISBN: 9781760292768

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the-traitor-and-the-thief.jpgBy: Gareth Ward

This book was sent to me by the publisher.

Sin is a street rat. A kid from a gang who survives by stealing. That is until the day he tries to steal from the wrong person. Cornered the strangest thing happens, Sin is offered a way out of his street life. He is offered the chance to join the Covert Operations Group and train to be a spy. This is a very different world for Sin, the people he is dealing with and learning with are very different from the world he knows, however some of the skills learnt on the street that helped him survive there are the very ones that help him now. Befriending the eccentric Zonda Chubb he starts to navigate his way through this new world, before discovering there is a traitor in their midst. Now he has to ally with the school bully to uncover the traitor, is there anyway he’ll get out of this alive.

Steampunk is fun. This world is one that is both familiar and yet not. There are elements that ring true in amongst a whole heap of things that are fresh, fun and just plain different. Ward’s world is intriguing, the differences draw you in deeper. Sin is a fun character, a classic diamond in the rough type, who is perfectly offset by the not so fit, and slightly left of centre Zonda. This is a story that is full of intrigue and action. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Publisher: Walker Books

Published: 1st August 2017

Key Words: Steampunk, War, Spies, Intrigue

ISBN: 9781925381504

 

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By: Dyan Sheldon

This book was sent to me by the publisher

Loretta Reynolds and Giselle Abruzzio somehow became best friends. Somehow because the two girls could not have been more opposite in everything. This difference though drives them towards what seems like a silly bet but quickly becomes something far more. Who knew one bet could be so life changing. Loretta has to embrace the feminine side of herself, that part that she has kept hidden because she believes there is more to a girl than what she looks like. Giselle has to give up the make up and fashion, dress down and act smarter. The girls learn so much over the course of the summer.

This isn’t a book I would automatically be drawn to, having said that I was curious to see how it would play out, who would be the victor in this battle of gender stereotypes. I was wonderfully engaged and totally drawn into this social experiment. Witty, fun and achingly real, Sheldon’s telling of this story from both points of view was a great decision. Seeing things from both sides gives equal weight and emphasises the the fact of the title, there is ‘more than one way to be a girl’. This is the sort of book that will hopefully encourage people to see things from more than their own limited perspective. This for me was a delightful surprise. I don’t want to say anything else for fear of spoiling the fun.

Recommended.

Publisher: Walker Books

Published: 1st September 2017

Key Words: Friends, Family, Relationships, Gender Stereotypes

ISBN: 9781406363036

 

throne-of-glass.jpgBy: Sarah J Maas

Throne Of Glass Series Bk 1

Celaena Sardothien is pulled from her imprisonment in the bleak salt mines of Endovier to enter a competition. She is offered a deal, represent the Prince (the son of a man she despises) in a to the death tournament, with the prize becoming the King’s Champion, if she wins she gains freedom if she doesn’t… death or the mines it’s all the same really. Celaena isn’t just anyone though, before she was sentenced to life in the mines, she was an assassin, the best of the best. There is more going on than just this competition though, once she steps into the palace walls she is drawn into a deadly game of politics. She will make friends, find enemies and start to understand her destiny.

Celaena draws you in, her past is murky, her drive not so much. She is strong, determined and far from perfect. She is what I like in a central character, layered. The world Maas has drawn for us is comes to life off the page. The central action is all that you’d expect, filled with hidden agendas and dirty fighting. The friendships Celaena developed tentatively bring a lovely dimension to the story. Thoroughly enjoyed this book and am keen to read the rest of the series.

Recommended.

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 1st Aug 2012

Key Words: Fantasy, Action, Politics

ISBN: 9781408832332

Thelma The Unicorn

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By: Aaron Blabey

Thelma only wants to be a unicorn. She believes everything would be wonderful if only that would happen. One day it does, a happy accident transforms Thelma into a magnificent unicorn and she becomes ever so famous. It doesn’t take long for Thelma to realise that maybe just being herself is better, that being a unicorn isn’t everything she thought it would be.

Aaron Blabey stories are always such fun and often have a good little gem of a message in them. This story is about being true to yourself and those who are good to the real you. Also how being famous may not in fact be the best or most important thing in life. This is a thoroughly enjoyable story, dealing with a big topic in an easily accessible way, accompanied by wonderful illustrations.

Highly Recommended

Publisher: Koala Book Company

 

Published: 1st August 2017

Key Words: Fun, Fame, Dreams

ISBN: 9781742764085

a-monster-calls.jpgMovies of books, don’t always go so well and I firmly fit into the category of person who believes mostly books do it better. I like the way I create a movie in my head as I read and sometimes the films, for the sake of action and time, change things up that are, to a reader, just wrong.

Having said that, I really enjoyed this movie. Patrick Ness, the writer of the source material, had a hand in the film and I think that showed, not just in the storytelling but also in the tone.

As a book it was moving, intense as you would expect from the subject matter; broken family, mother critically ill, bullying. The whole tale is about some of the dark places life can take us and ways to cope through them. The film echoed that.

It is not a faced paced film, it is slow as it weaves a story in several parts; Conor’s real life, the interactions with the monster (voiced with gravitas that only Liam Neeson can bring), and the stories the Monster tells. It is an emotional tale, filled with painful truths, bought to life in a touching and very real way.

The cast did an amazing job. Lewis MacDougall (Conor) is vulnerable, defiant, broken and ultimately finds strength though the journey the ancient tree monster takes him on in the search of truth, Conor’s truth. Felicity Jones does a great job of playing a mother who knows she is ill but struggles to hide it from her son, whilst giving him the love he needs. Conor’s Grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) is stern, distanced from him but tries as she understands they are all each other has, she delicately plays that balance of love, sadness and frustration.

It is a film that pulls at the heartstrings. As a mother I identified on many levels. As someone who has intimate knowledge of bullying, it strums a note. As a reader who loved the source material it is a film that doesn’t disappoint.

If you get the chance go see the film, even if you don’t pick up a copy of the book, I highly recommend it.

 

the-dark-prophecy.jpgTrials of Apollo bk 2

By: Rick Riordan

Apollo is still a human, still Lester and has to find the second oracle. This one has a strong personal connection to him, one he is reluctant to look too closely at. This oracle is not only part of Apollo’s dark past, it also has the potential to drive him, or anyone who uses it, mad. To make matters worse this Oracle is guarded by the second member of the Triumvirate, a mad emperor who also belongs in the darker parts of Apollo’s past.

Accompanied by Leo and Calypso they find themselves at the Waystation, a place of refuge run by two ex-hunters of Artemis. Apollo has not just one thing to do in order to find the Oracle, he has several mini quests that need to be undertaken, one is rescuing a young girl who may be family. Along the way he reconnects with Meg and even though she betrayed him, it is clear the two are destined to continue forward together.

The action as always is swift and fun. Apollo himself gets a bit annoying for me, there is only so many times he can say how great is or was as a god, when really he was a bit of an idiot. Other characters do a great job of balancing him out. Leo is brash, like Apollo though he isn’t as pompous and is therefore more appealing. The relationship between Leo and Calypso is hesitant and lovely. Emmie and Jo who run the Waystation add weight to the story, that being told through Apollo’s eyes has a tendency to become rather flippant. These two characters weave humanity, love and family through the adventure. Meg is the perfect foil for Apollo’s pomposity. These books are a lot of fun, but I find Apollo a much harder character to enjoy following than either Jason or Percy.

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