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
I received this from the publisher
By: Tom Hoyle
George Fleet makes a decision that changes his life, he runs into a burning building. For his actions he gets what many think is the opportunity of a life time. He gets to go on an Ultimate Bushcraft Adventure Holiday. Sounds like fun, maybe. Then strange things start to happen and people start to die. Sure one death could be accidental but then… The ultimate adventure holiday becomes a nightmare of survival.
This story is dark. The concept, survival in the bush is bleak enough but with the thriller twist of murder thrown in? It is an interesting read,e ven if it takes a little to get into, which is mostly due I think to the writing style, alternate chapters are written by, or taken from, different character perspectives. Persevere though for the story itself is interesting enough to hold the attention, especially once it gets going.
If you like the darker stories or ones filled with action then check this out.
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Published: 13th August 2015
Format: Paperback,255 pages
Genre: Action, Thriller
I received my copy from the publisher
By: Patrick Ness
Life for a high school student is filled with stresses related to dating and exam scores and that is how it should be, not everyone can be a chosen one. Not everyone is the one who has to face the zombies, kill the vampires or defeat whatever the latest threat to a town might be. Stories are always told of those people but what of those who share the town with them. This is the story of those whose lives go on at the edges or outside all that action. To Mikey though that is as it should be. Mikey just wants to graduate, get the chance to go to prom before the high school gym gets blown up again and maybe kiss the girl. This is life.
This book is a wonderfully engaging story. As a counterpoint to Mikey’s life we do get hints as to what is happening in the extraordinary world, but so what? Mikey’s life is interesting, filled with stresses that we can all identify with. (Well apart from a mother who basks in the spotlight of fame.) Mikey has a close group of friends, is protective of his sisters and protective of his best friends secret, no small ask when that friend might be something pretty spectacular, such as a god. Then of course there is the girl he believes he should be with and the guy she seems to fancy.
Ness has taken the concept of a story about the spectacular or supernatural and turned it on its head. In the process he has given us a wonderful tale rooted in the mundane, it is a highly relatable tale dealing with depression, mental health issues and eating disorders. There are some serious topics packaged here and as always Ness deals with them in a manner that makes them seem less taboo. Once again Patrick Ness has proven what a masterful story teller he is.
Publisher: Walker Books
Published: 27th August 2015
Format: hard cover 352 pages
Genre: fantasy, high school, growing up, friendship
By: Tamora Pierce
Briar, Rosethorn and Evvy and visiting the mountain kingdom of Gyongxe, a mystical country filled with temples of many religions, the very earth is filled with power. Before there time is up though they are summonsed to visit the Emperor of Yanjing under the pretense of seeing his glorious gardens.
Things are not as peaceful and pleasant as the emperor attempts to make things seem on the surface. The mages sense and see things they do not like, amongst them the treatment of certain individuals, the emperor’s dark cruelty, a huge army and throng magic that underlies it all, keeping it all together. Unwilling to stay they leave and discover the Emperor as about to launch an attack on Gyongxe and he will do anything to stop the visiting mages from joining the other side. This is omething Rosethorn cannot allow as she has vowed to defend the First Temple of the Living Circle and where Rosethorn is bound to go Briar will not be far away, even if they do get separated for a while.
Another wonderful addition to the world first bought to us in the Circle Of Magic series. This is perhaps though, the darkest and bloodiest of the books, dealing as it does with genocide and war. Pierce uses this context to push her characters through emotional arcs that will forever change them. I won’t go too much into what they go through, the individual things they experience, because that would detract too much from the read itself, and it would be too easy to unintentionally leave spoilers. Rosethorn’s steadfastness, Briar’s stubborn loyalty and Evvy’s wonder and enthusiasm are still there shining through the whole time.
A bigger book than the other circle books but just as un-put downable.
Published: 1st Oct 2013
Format: Paperback, 464 pages
I received my copy from the publisher.
By: David Hofmeyr
Adam Stone wants nothing more than to escape Blackwater, the hole of a town that he lives in. He longs for something more, something better, and if Sadie Blood is part of that then all the better. The thing is there are only two ways out of Blackwater, death or riding in the brutal Blackwater Trail. The race is harsh, desert environs, savages and the other competitors. The competition is so fierce because the prize is a one way ticket to Sky-Base, a place of freedom, health and luxury.
Adam wants to ride but he has to overcome his fears to get to the starting line. Then he has to overcome everything else. He believes he has to ride the race alone, but things soon change and he ends up alongside Sadie and outsider Kane. Will Adam overcome his fears and find his courage and will any of them make it to the end?
This is a dystopian book with a very immediate goal. Setting the events around the race give it tension because time is limited. The world Hofmeyr has created is a bleak one. Parched desert, a people downtrodden and filled with anything but hope. This world, though some sort of post apocalyptic is also filled with futuristic touches – the bikes that meld with the rider, tech implants, robots, non terrestrial transport and living.
Adam is very definitely an underdog. He is bullied, withdrawn and has a condition that only makes his life harder. Sadie is a strong willed girl who is determined to separate herself from her own legacy, and Adam’s attraction to her is strong but doesn’t overwhelm the plot, in some places it very much drives it. Kane gives the story a darker twist, who is he and where does he fit.
A fast paced and entertaining read. I really enjoyed it and recommend it for those who like dystopian or action stories.
Published: 24th June 2015
Format: Paperback 305 pages
Genre: Action, Dystopian
I received this book from the publisher
By: Ryan Graudin
There are three rules of survival in the Walled City: run fast, trust no one and always carry your knife.
These rules are always to be remembered. Living on the streets of the Walled City isn’t the safest place to be, but for some it is the only place they can be.
Jin Ling is doing everything she can to hide the fact she is a girl, being a girl in the Walled City is a death sentence but she can’t die because she has a job, a task, a mission. She has come her to find her sister. That is all that matters, that and surviving.
Dai has his own secrets. He survives by trafficking drugs for the most dangerous man within the Walled City, but to rise in ranks he needs the help of someone who can be invisible, he needs to find a partner.
Mei Yee is trapped. She hasn’t come to the city by choice, she was taken here and now is trapped in a brothel doing what she has to to survive. When she can, she dreams of escape no matter how futile that dream seems.
Together these three can pull off something that can see all of them move away from their past and have something more for the future, but how do you find trust in a city built on everything but?
This is a dark and murky tale. A tale of survival, of doing what you need to, of owning up to the mistakes of your past. These three characters work very well together, balancing each other out. They each have secrets, they each have issues and the only way they can truly survive is to try as part of a team. The city itself is drenched in dark tones that make you grasp at any sign of light. You are desperate for the underdog to win, to just get away. Each character has their own arc, there own journey and to reveal too much would be to detract from the story itself.
If you like or are looking for something gritty, intriguing, with characters you can’t help but invest in give this a go.
Published: 11th November 2014
Format: Paperback 424 pgs
Key Words: Crime, Survival, Family, Courage
I was sent this book by the publisher
By: Teri Terry
Luna is different, she has a secret. In a world where nearly everything is done online she remains unplugged. The pressure to join the crowd is great but she stays strong for a long time, until someone hands her a possible answer. Even online though there are things she must keep hidden for she is different and those differences are ones that could cost her her life. Luna plunges into a world that killed her mother and is fraught with dangers that few others seem to be able to perceive. Even amongst the hackers she is gifted and can do things no-one else can do. She wishes she knew why, that she understood what was going on but finding out those answers changes everything for her.
Luna is an interesting character, her developing gifts make it difficult for her to be sure of her place as she finds she has abilities that no-one else has. She learns that everything she does is being watched. She doesn’t know who to trust, just when she thinks she has a grasp on it, things turn sideways. Luna has cause to be skeptical, every time she thinks she has a friend she can trust something happens to undermine that. The characters that come alongside her are an eclectic group of individuals all with their own agenda.
It is an intriguing read. The world is how is could be if everything goes digital, the pros and cons. There were some fascinating concepts woven into this story and it could certainly be listed as a tale of caution about relying too much on technology. The only thing that threw me was that the author put in a reference to her own books, an action that seems to me to be self serving and a bit pretentious. That aside I would say this book is well worth investing the time to read.
Publisher: Orchard Books
Published: 10th March 2015
Format: Paperback 433 pgs
Key Words: Science Fiction, Family, Intrigue
I received my copy from the publisher
By: Carla Spradbery
Grace Becker attends Clifton School, a school with a not so secret, secret. There is something that is part of the school’s history called the 100 Society and being part of it is something Grace is absolutely determined to do. The 100 Society isn’t just a game to Grace, the objective is to graffiti tag 100 specific locations around the city, each location has a risk often greater than the one before it. She has managed to convince some friends to help her achieve this goal even though it could result in suspension. The problem is what started as a sort of game has become something much more, someone is watching them, playing them, targeting them. Her friends are in the cross-hairs and Grace won’t stop. Will she be able to figure out who is behind it all before it costs her everything?
This is a tight, tensely woven story. One moment you think you know who it might be, then you’re not so sure. I must admit to getting a little frustrated with Grace at some point, her drive to do something better than her brother clouds her vision but this is her flaw and ultimately I prefer characters with flaws to the perfect ones. The characters all stand alone on their own merits and the darkness isn’t so overwhelming that it becomes detrimental to the plot.
An enjoyable read.
Published: 28th October 2014
Number Of Pages: 320
I was sent this book by the publisher
By: Emma Pass
The Fearless are coming, and then suddenly they are here. Cassie’s life is torn apart that night. The Fearless are brutal, they destroy whatever and whomever gets in their way. Somehow Cassie and her brother get away. They get to be part of the small group who make it to the island. Her brother is the last person she has left in the world and she will do anything to look after him. When the island is invaded and he is taken, there is nothing Cassie won’t do to find him and bring him home. This includes making a deal with Myo, a strange boy who turned up on the island the same time as the Fearless. He came from the mainland and seems to think he knows where her brother is going to be taken. Myo though has secrets of his own. Secrets that will destroy their very fragile truce if Cassie was to discover them.
This is a zombie story with a twist. These zombies are man made and they are not totally brainless, some of them, they are however very driven. There is a lot of dark texture to this story. Cassie is tough and focussed but not as competent as she originally thinks. She also doesn’t know as much about what is really going on as she should. This narrow focus and interest is part of what will cause her big problems. Myo is just as driven as Cassie but his reasons are part of his big secret. This secret adds an interesting layer to the story. Cassie has to go through a big learning curve as she begins to understand that things aren’t as simple as she has been led to believe, the world she thought was black and white really has many shades of grey.
PUBLISHER: Random House
PUBLISHED: 1st May 2014
FORMAT: Paperback, 392 pages
KEY WORDS: Apocalypse, Zombies, Survival