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: 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
I was sent this by the publisher
By: Frank Cottrell Boyce
Prez is a Temporary, a kid who doesn’t live at home, he can’t he doesn’t have parents and his Granddad can no longer look after him. During the summer though Temporary kids are sent to stay with families. Prez’s family live on a farm, it’s not where he wants to be but it is better than nothing. He is at the farm when Sputnik comes into his life. Sputnik is a small, loud alien that wears a kilt, the thing is though everyone else just sees a dog. Sputnik tells Prez he is there to look after him and that the Earth is going to be destroyed unless they can find ten things worth doing or seeing. So a normal summer turns into a ridiculous time of learning to see things through another creatures eyes and hopefully saving the planet. Of course all Prez really wants is to see his Granddad again.
This is a fun and somewhat ridiculous story that turns some very familiar things on their head. Believe me some of the things Sputnik discovers will make you wish it really was that way. Prez is so relatable his ordinariness and Sputnik is a great counterbalance to that. The pace is cracking and the adventures they go on are so much fun, despite their bland kind of beginnings.A thoroughly enjoyable read.
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Published: 7th April 2016
Key Words: Fun, Adventure, Space
I received this book from the publisher
Fyrelit Bk 1
By: Alison & Nicholas Lochel
Neleik, Ervine and Skye Fyrelit are orphans, but they have each other and their farm. Together they will survive. One day Neleik and Ervine are witness to their sister being kidnapped. They leave everything behind in order to find her, they will not stop till they are a family once again. This journey will not be an easy one, it takes them to halls of power and on unexpected quests. Along their way they meet a princess who wants more from her life, a half-giant, a damaged dragon and a strange sword master who knows something of a secret that will change their lives forever. First though they must survive.
A detailed world with some fun little touches provides the backdrop to this story of family. The brothers brave but naive, they are driven to find their sister no matter what obstacle appears in their path. They are ill equipped for much of what they face and their allies balance out their party well. When I first picked this book up I struggled a little, maybe because I was tired because when I went back to it, feeling fresh and really wanting to read and escape, this story swept me along. There are some funny little modern touches, that have been adjusted for the world that gave me cause to laugh and in no way took me out of the world these siblings have created. It was a good read and truthfully, I hope to get around to finishing the series one day.
Published: 30th June 2015
Key Words: Fantasy, Family, Adventure
I received a copy of this from the publisher.
By: Lauren Oliver & HC Chester
A museum and freak show may be a strange place to grow up but it is what Phillipa, Sam and Thomas are used to. They are all gifted in some strange way and know that Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities and Wonders is where they belong. One day though a young girl, a gifted knife thrower named Max, joins them and this seems to start a series of events that change everything, beginning with the theft of the museum’s Amazonian Shrunken Head. The children are determined to get it back. This investigation though tangles them up in murder and a secret about their past. They are more connected than they could ever know.
Children as part of a freak show, another way to say mutants? This story though is very solidly set in a time and place where their gifts mark them as freaks. They don’t belong and everything about this tale is part of their struggle to find their place. Each child has their own issues and together they make a good team, if somewhat hesitant and fractured due to their insecurities. This is a good read, though has a dark feel about it, not just due to the crime but to the nature of a world where different is viewed as somehow wrong or something that should be put on display. These children will draw you in and at the end you are left wanting to know more about their past and how that will affect their future.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: 13 Oct 2015
Key Words: Adventure, Mystery
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
I received my copy from the publisher
By: Rick Riordan
Book one of the Magnus Chase series
Magnus Chase is homeless, has been for two years, extended family is more than a little dysfunctional. He has friends, of sorts, Blitz and Hearth, they keep an eye out for him. Magnus was managing, that is until he died. That was things got really strange because a girl on a flying horse saves him. Magnus finds himself at the Hotel Valhalla, where he meets others who have been saved by Valkyries. His Valkyrie has issues of her own and Magnus discovers that not everyone wants him there. In fact if he is to survive, if that is what he is doing, then he has to go on a quest. Doing this though means first of all finding a way out of Valhalla. With Sam, the Valkyrie and her secret as well as Blitz and Hearth who turn out to be far more than simple homeless folk, by his side, Magnus sets out to retrieve Frey’s sword and not free the Fenris Wolf. Simple as quests go, really. All they have to do is navigate their way through parts of the nine realms and get the things they need to prevent Ragnarok. Easy.
And that is all I am going to say. Mostly. If you’ve read Riordan you know to expect a fast paced story with plenty of action, characters who balance bizarre with humour to keep things as real as they can. There are a few ties to the world of Percy Jackson, but again, no spoilers. The characters work well together and the mythology is a consistently tight and entertaining background.
Thoroughly readable (as in hard to put down) and highly entertaining.
Published: 6th October 2015
Genre: Mythology, Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 528 pages