By: Ally Carter
An Embassy Row Novel
Grace Blakely is back in Adria, where her Grandfather is US Ambassador and her mother grew up. Her mother is why she is back, and there are so many memories. And memories are a big part of the problem, because Grace knows three things with certainty; that she isn’t crazy, that her mother was murdered and she is determined to find the killer and make them pay. No-one else believes her. Her issues mean she has no-one to trust.
Into this comes Noah, her new self-proclaimed best friend, he simply won’t take no for an answer when he pushes his way into her life. To complicate matters, Alexei the Russian, has promised to keep an eye on her because her brother has asked him to. Then she sees the man she swears killed her mother. Who can she get to help to prove it? It’s all more complicated because everyone on Embassy Row has to constantly be aware of scandal and international implications of what happens between them. Every move, every little action can have big ramifications, even going through the wrong door can cause an international incident. How will she convince people she is not losing it?
Carter has created a city with a story centred on the complexities of growing up in a truly international street. The gravitas provided by the knowledge everything that happens could have impact outside of the small contained world these characters live in, gives the story a whole other dimension. Grace is a damaged character and whilst it is good to see things such as anxiety and the like represented I find the extremes a little too intense. The brief moments of relief somehow don’t seem long enough, even though it does make sense eventually. Even though I did have a few niggles with Grace herself the story was entertaining and I went straight onto the second book.
Published: 1st February 2015
Key Words: Politics, Family, Conspiracy, Thriller
By: Stefan Bachmann
Bartholomew Kettle and his sister are different. They are Peculiars, that is they are half human, half faery. They live by the words, ‘Don’t get yourself noticed and you won’t get yourself hanged’. Bartholomew wants more, he doesn’t always listen to his mother, he tries to summon a house faery just to start. It gets worse though because Bartholomew sees a strange lady mysteriously disappear with the boy across they way, that is when he forgets the rules and gets himself noticed.
This tale takes the idea of the the fae, the not always nice creatures who have, in this world taken a place in it and in it’s politics. The world is complex with a very Victorian feel about it. Bartholomew is likeable enough and loyal beyond measure when something happens to his sister. The world is gritty and layered, nice little touches like mechanical creatures make for nice accents. The fae are as varied as humans can be so their is the element of the familiar mixed in with the different.
A good choice for those who like grittier tales and old mixed with new.
Published: 1st October 2012
Key Words: Faery, Steampunk, Family, Loyalty
By: Amiee Carter
Kitty Doe is a III, brash and annoyed with herself for messing up her one chance to become a IV. Feeling as if it was all a waste she decides to celebrate by stealing an orange, a silly thing really but if she gets caught that could mean the end of her life, but right at this moment she doesn’t much care, as long as Benjy doesn’t take the blame he still has a chance. Then she gets thrown a massive curve ball, offered the chance of a life time and join the most powerful family in the country and become an VII. The catch, she will be masked, surgically transformed to look like the Prime Minister’s niece, Lila Hart. There is more, it will be her job to stop the rebellion, a cause Kitty believes in. The deeper she goes down this path the more she uncovers and Kitty isn’t the only one who believes in the rebellion, it was a cause Lila herself secretly supported and in all likelihood what got her killed. Kitty has to uncover the truth and decide what is most important to her. She needs to figure out how to play the political game she has been thrust into.
A familiar plot, someone is thrust to greatness from poverty only to find that all is not as it seems. Kitty thought she had nothing to lose but when she digs down into it she discovers so much more about herself. It is a good story, an interesting world. Carter has handled the complexities of the situation Kitty finds herself in well. I would perhaps have enjoyed this more if it had not come out at a time when there were several other books with very similar themes on the new releases list. Now we are further away from that I have to say it will appeal to those who like their stories gritty, their characters multi-layered and a little flawed, and a good bit of political manipulation and conspiracy.
Published: 1st December 2013
Key Words: Dystopian Fantasy, Politics, Conspiracy
By: Ally Carter
Bk 4 of the Gallagher Girls series
Cammie was born to be a Gallagher Girl, and that has always come with the knowledge that it is a life full of risk and danger. There has always been a buzz associated with that, with knowing that she was Cammie the Chameleon. Now though things have changed a terrorist organisation is set on kidnapping her and someone she has always looked up to, trusted and respected has been come to be labelled as a double agent, a traitor. For Cammie it feels as though her world is falling apart. All of this impacts on her school life as well, so many things have changed. Who can Cammie now trust? Her best friends of course. Together they must work through the new problems and still deal with all the stuff spy school throws at them.
This addition to the series throws a darker twist on things as Cammie’s safety nets are pulled from her and she has to discern truth in amongst a whole lot of lies, lies delivered by trained liars. The complexity of the story and the layers drag the reader in an keep you engaged. The world is one as we know it and that makes it identifiable and let’s face it there is a part of many of us who’d love to believe a spy school such as this existed. The characters are varied and complement each other well, within themselves they have strengths and weaknesses that Carter draws out of them. These books are fast paced and sheer entertainment. A great read and to be honest in my humble opinion would be decent source material for a movie or three.
Published: 24th June 2010
Key Words: Spy, Action, Friendship
By Robert Muchamore
A CHERUB story
James Adams has come a long way since his first days as a CHERUB agent, he is now a mission controller and handling a team of boys sent out to look into a potential new recruit. That mission turns out to be a bust but in the process a larger mission is uncovered. Now he has to assemble a team of ex agents to rescue two kidnapping victims. Things have changed though, not least being James’s office lifestyle is far removed from the brutal physical regime the young agents are put through. Intense training aside the old team is back together, it is going to be one heck of a ride.
This story does a good job of blending both the old and new guard and in no way will disappoint fans of the series, in fact many may enjoy the chance to catch up with some old favourites. The banter and action are still there. The brashness of the teenagers shines out from the page to the point where they can just frustrate you like any teenager can, this adds to the reality and relatability of the characters. The world they tend to live in is gritty and dirty, the action fast when it needs to be. The scenes between the old and new guard are fun, giving the story a welcome lightness. This was an enjoyable read.
Publisher: Hodder Children’s
Published: 31st May 2016
Key Words: Action, Crime
By: Alison Goodman
Lady Helen Series Bk 1
The year is 1812 and Lady Helen Wrexhall is preparing for her debut, such an important and changing event in the life of young women in Regency London. Helen’s debut is tainted by the demise of her parents, by her mother’s apparent treason and subsequent death. Despite being told to keep as much distance between herself and her past there is something going on that Helen finds she just cannot let go of. Then there is Lord Carlston, who is reentering society after some scandal of his own. He is a man of many secrets, some of them directly related to Helen, her past and possible future. Helen is supposed to be a lady but a lady doesn’t get herself involved in a hidden world of missing servants and demonic conspiracies, surely.
Goodman has woven a tale that transports us into Regency London with all it’s intricacies and foibles. Helen is a young woman on the cusp of rest of her life, how is that a thing when you aren’t sure who you are? That is the crux of Helen’s dilemma, the known and expected verses the unknown but possibilities. Goodman’s attention to detail transports the reader to the drawing rooms, ballrooms, and habits of the wealthy as well as plunging you into the dank, crudeness of the lower classes.
A thoroughly entertaining read that delves into dark fantasy in the midst of structured culture.
Published: 14th December 2015
Key Words: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Demons, Regency
By: Victoria Aveyard
There are always divisions in the world. Here these divisions are simple, you are a silver blood or a red blood. Silvers are the ruling class, silvers are gifted with powers, super powers. There ability to manipulate elements, thoughts and do others things sets them apart.
Mare is a red. She comes from the poverty stricken Stilts and has watched her brothers go off to fight in a war that means little but the silvers say they need. Mare doesn’t think anything will change, until the day it does. Mare may bleed red but she possesses an incredible ability of her own. This thrusts her into a confusing game of politics that she simply isn’t equipped to play. How will she find her way through it and stay true to herself.
It seems that this is one of a few books to have come out with a similar theme, though really class wars, no matter how the classes are divided, is not a new theme. It is tried and true for the reason that at it’s heart it is accessible to all of us. Mare is a strong and interesting character who clearly isn’t equipped to deal with the situation she is thrust into. It is good to see she has faults and that her inexperience isn’t instantly overcome as she fumbles through. The world is at times harsh and beautiful. The battle on going and layered and the enemy isn’t always the person you think it is. An enjoyable read. Try it if you liked Hunger Games.
Published: 28th July 2015
Format: Paperback 400 pages
Key Words: Class Divide, Fantasy