By: Rick Riordan
Magnus Chase Book Two
Magnus is still alive and is meeting Otis, an informant with a lead on Thor’s missing hammer. That’s the only good news and it isn’t much before Magnus is warned to stay away. It’s never that simple in Magnus’s world, what with Loki manipulating Randolph and plenty of others behind the scenes. Magic swords, elven realms, relics that can drive you mad, dwarves turned to stone and a wedding between a Valkyrie and a giant, what could possibly go wrong?
Oh that wasn’t rhetorical, so many things could go wrong, and all Magnus needs to do is make sure Thor gets his hammer back, and a couple of other things.
As with all Riordan books, the pace is breakneck the action constant. The characters varied and work well together, despite the times they clash, you know, personality wise. If you love Percy Jackson, then you’ll enjoy these.
Published: 4th October 2016
Key Words: Mythology, Action
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
By: 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
By: 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.
Published: 1st Aug 2012
Key Words: Fantasy, Action, Politics
Trials 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.
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: Rick Riordan
The Trials of Apollo Bk 1
Apollo is in a whole world of hurt, he is used to being a god but now he is a 16 year old boy stuck in the mortal world because Zeus has cast him down. He now has to find what it is he has to do in order to regain his godhood. To add to his mortification he is rescued from his first beating by twelve year old Meg. He persuades Percy Jackson to take them both to Camp Half-Blood hoping that whilst there he can find some answers but the Camp is in chaos, things are not as they should be, campers are missing and the oracle is not working. How can you go on a quest when the being who issues the quests is unable to do so? Somehow Apollo needs to confront his fears, overcome the limitations of his now teenage, human body and deal with betrayal such as he has never felt before.
This is a fun entry into the world of demigods. Apollo is a funny and at times irritating character with his self-importance and egotistic ways. The blending of a teenagers imperfections with the mind of an ancient god makes for some very amusing moments. Twelve year old Meg is the perfect foil for the fallen god, her street smarts and ultimately damaged personality contrast beautifully with his grandiosity. It is going to be interesting to see where the character of Meg is taken, all the demigods have issues and most have parental issues but it seems that Meg’s issues have the potential to touch on some darker territory. The pace as always with these stories is fast, the action at times quite nasty. Riordan has given us a horrible yet interesting villain (an no I won’t tell you who it is – no spoilers). It is always nice to go back to the camp and see what has changed and what hasn’t, new campers who come to the fore. I look forward to the next instalment of this series.
Publisher: Puffin Books
Published: 3rd May 2016
Key Words: Action, Adventure, Humour, Mythology
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