Posts Tagged ‘review’
Today we hear from Bookbabbler Luke….
Lies by Michael Grant
Suddenly it’s a world without adults and normal has crashed and burned. When life as you know it ends at 15, everything changes.
Tensions are growing in the FAYZ. The mutants are under attack. Food is scarce. Sam’s gone AWOL.
At night a solitary figure roams the streets – the ghost of a boy with a whip hand, haunting the dreams of those he has tormented.
Then the town is deliberately set on fire….And through the flames, Sam sees the figure he dreads most – Drake. But that’s impossible, Drake is dead.
This is the third book, the previous ones being Gone and Hunger in the series by Michael grant. As I have not read either of the previous two books my concern was I would not be able to understand the previous history of the characters and have the understanding of their personality and character depth. However, I briefly read summaries of the previous books and came up to speed with the story line.
Everyone over the age of 15 has vanished and all the children that are left behind are finding it hard trapped in the Fallout alley Youth Zone (FAYZ). The children are developing special powers and the animals around them are mutating too. There’s constant hunger in the FAYZ and even though the evil Drake has been killed hunger persists and the children with super powers are being sought out and killed. The children are learning fast and are no longer innocent children, but carry weapons and are more able to fend for themselves. They learn of a land in a dream by Orsay outside of FAYZ and led by Sam they attempt to leave the hunger and malnutrition behind. Along the way new characters are introduced and ones from previous books re introduced. This is probably where I missed out by not reading the previous books as I couldn’t visualise the horrors imposed by Drake and Caine on the children in FAYZ.
The book is very fast paced with lots of supernatural and scary parts. It’s the type of book once you start reading it’s difficult to put down as it totally absorbs you. I will certainly be reading the next book as I felt there were lots of the story lines to come together.
Thanks, Luke, and thanks to Egmont Books for sending us a copy to review. It’s out for you to buy now…
Today we hear from Bookbabbler Pamela..
Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy
Zulaikha hopes. She hopes for peace, now that the Taliban have been driven out of Afghanistan. She hopes for a better relationship with her hard stepmother. And she hopes one day even to go to school. Then she meets Meena, who offers to teach her the poetry she once taught her mother. And the Americans come to the village, promising not just new opportunities, but surgery to mend Zulaikha’s face. But can Zulaikha dare to hope they will come true? Trent Reedy’s breathtaking first novel is based on his experiences serving with the US Army in Afghanistan and, in a land where hidebound traditions clash with an emerging desire for freedom, offers humanity and hope.
Words in the Dust is very much an inspirational and hopeful debut novel. Our protagonist is a young Afghan girl named Zulaikha. Zulaikha’s days are spent trying to please her hard step-mother, keeping up with her mountain of chores and looking after her younger brothers. But her existence is only made harder by the fact that she was born with a cleft lip. She hides her face in public with a chador, but that doesn’t stop the cruel taunts from local children…or morbid looks from adults.
Zulaikha’s life is changed when the American’s arrive. They wave to the children as the drive by in their large armoured cars with guns, tossing sweets and toys. But one notices Zulaikha, and word begins to spread about the girl with the cleft lip and when they tell her family that they can arrange for corrective surgery, Zulaikha is overjoyed.
While she is waiting to get her surgery, a chance encounter on an outing to fetch her brother brings Meena into Zulaikha’s life. Meena taught Zulaikha’s late mother old Afghani poetry and wants to continue her teachings with Zulaikha.
Having her mouth repaired and being taught to read and write is a life-altering change for Zulaikha. She can look beyond her family’s compound and know there is a bigger world beyond. And with Meena teaching her, a world of opportunity opens up.
Zulaikha’s story is steeped in reality and it has been awhile since I have been so moved. Her patience and deep-rooted faith makes Zulaikha one of the strongest and most inspirational characters I have ever encountered.
A lot of people would benefit from reading this book. Zulaikha can teach people a lot about how they view others, how they then are treated, and also how they view their own lives. Words in the Dust makes you evaluate everything – from wastage to kindness and the most prominent – common misconceptions about Afghanistan.
Thanks, Pamela, and thanks to Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for sending us a copy to review. It’s out for you to buy this month…
Today we hear from Bookbabbler Luke…
Killer Star by CT Furlong
When a mysterious man makes contact with the ARCTIC6, they are drawn into a complicated web of spies, secrets and sabotage.
The world’s most eminent scientists are working hard to find a new source of energy. But has their eagerness blinded them to the risks?
As the six friends are drawn deeper into the adventure a terrible choice lies before them…..
………..a choice that may divide the team forever
In C T Furlong’s latest book, we follow the ARCTIC6, Charlie, Renny, Iago, Cam, Tara and Aretha on their latest top secret mission. After reading Killer Genes, I was eagerly awaiting the next chapter in the ARCTIC6 adventures, and although I enjoyed this book I didn’t feel the story line was as interesting as in the previous book. The ARCTIC6 are contacted by the SOE (special operative unit) leader Edward Varken who needs their assistance to stop the possible creation of a killer star that could destroy the planet. The National Ignition Facility are attempting to create a new clean energy, however concerns are raised that if all doesn’t go to plan then it could lead to worldwide destruction. The ARCTIC6 need to assist the SOE in preventing the catastrophe, but can the leader of the SOE be trusted. Who is Edward Varken working for? And who is the mysterious man who is trailing the ARCTIC6.
The book is fast paced and I feel that if I wasn’t already aware of the characters, then I would have been confused by their relationships to each other and even their sex. Putting all this aside, I will be reading the next book, and I am hoping that the other characters apart from Renny will have more input in future stories.
Thanks, Luke, and thanks to Inside Pocket Publishing for sending us a copy. It’s out this month and here for you to buy now…
Today Sarah reviews Velvet, by our author in residence, Mary Hooper, and we have 5 copies up for grabs!
Velvet – Mary Hooper
Velvet is a laundress in a Victorian steam laundry. With both her mother and father dead, she is an orphan and has to rely upon her own wits to make a living. The laundry is scalding, back-breaking work and Velvet is desperate to create a better life for herself. Then Velvet is noticed by Madame Savoya, a famed medium, who asks Velvet to come to work for her. Velvet is dazzled at first by the young yet beautifully dressed and bejewelled Madame. But soon Velvet realises that Madame Savoya is not all that she says she is, and Velvet’s very life is in danger …
After reading Fallen Grace earlier in the year, I was very excited about reading Mary Hooper’s latest novel Velvet.
Set in Victorian and Edwardian London, Velvet follows the story of an orphaned laundry girl who is taken under the wings of a mysterious medium; Madame Savoya. At first, Velvet is in awe of her new luxurious surroundings and Madame Savoya’s generosity. However, Velvet’s suspicions are aroused when the Medium profession in London becomes under intense scrutiny from officials and police.
Velvet is an excellent heroine, she is both young and brave, but streetwise at the same time. The majority story is told in the first person from Velvet’s point of view and we see how she is determined to make her own way in life, which I thought was similar to the character of Grace in Fallen Grace.
Madame Savoya is an interesting character; charming and beautiful she seemed too me like one of those people who is just too good to be true. The way that the story is structured with some chapters devoted only to Madame Savoya’s medium sessions gives us an insight into parts of her character and her profession that Velvet does not see. I also think this shows the reader that perhaps Velvet’s employer is not quite what she shows herself to be.
Mary Hooper’s description of London at this time is remarkable and so evocative. I enjoy reading her books very much and if you like historical fiction then Velvet will not disappoint. This is a fantastic book that is easy to read and even easier to become totally engrossed in!
I was fascinated by this book as I knew very little of Mediums and how popular they were in Victorian and Edwardian London. I was also shocked to read about the Baby Farming in the story, as again this is something that I knew nothing at all about. Hooper’s addition about her historical research at the end of book was very informative and an excellent addition to the story.
Thanks, Sarah! Bloomsbury Children’s Books have kindly given us 5 copies of Velvet to giveaway, so to be entered into the draw, comment on this post or retweet it. We’ll pick 5 winners at 7pm on Sunday (UK only), so good luck!
Today we hear from Bookbabbler Liz…
He’s So Not Worth It by Ally Ryan
Ally Ryan, come on down to the Jersey Shore and forget your troubles!
Have you recently been humiliated in front of your friends and family at your former best friend’s birthday party? Was your almost boyfriend partly responsible for that humiliation by withholding some vital information about where your estranged father is? Did you come home to find said estranged father sitting on your stoop?
If so, then it sounds like you could use a vacation! The Jersey Shore is the place to be. Your mother may be living with her boyfriend of only a few months, but at least the stunt Shannen pulled has put some of your friends back in your court. Even so, you’re still angry and what better way to get over Jake than to blow off some steam with local guy, Cooper. People will hardly recognize your new attitude, but the old one wasn’t getting you anywhere, so who cares!
Jake Graydon, an exciting opportunity is waiting for you in the service industry!
Are your grades so low your parents have grounded you for the summer? Did you the girl you really like unceremoniously leave you behind? Would you rather eat dirt than see your friends again? Then a job at the local coffee shop is just the ticket! Surprisingly, Ally’s father is the new manager so you get to be reminded of her nearly every day. Maybe it’s time to start flirting with your best friend’s ex or even taking school a bit more seriously. Especially when you finally see Ally and she’s hanging around with some loser and it couldn’t be more clear that she is over you.
Have a great summer! (from Goodreads)
I’ve been looking forward to He’s So Not Worth It ever since I finished She’s So Dead to Us last year – I loved the first book , so naturally, I jumped at the chance to read book two! While I did enjoy it, I didn’t love it as much as the first one and I wasn’t a huge fan of the cliffhanger at the end (I’m getting a little tired of cliffhangers, to be honest). Still, it was a good book and a nice addition to the series.
Ally, who I adored in the first book, was one of the main reasons I didn’t like this one as much. I understand that she was going through a lot (having her dad back in her life so suddenly and all the rest of it), but I felt she became less likeable, more whiny and even a little mean at times. It was just a little too drama-y for me, and I found myself rolling my eyes at some of the decisions she made. While she was at the Jersey Shore, it was almost like she became a different person – and Cooper! What did she see in him! I really didn’t like him and couldn’t understand why Ally was putting up with him at all. And everything with Jake as well – I wish she’d have just let him explain things to her right from the beginning, and then they wouldn’t all be in the mess they ended up in. If they’d just had one long conversation without interruption, maybe they could have sorted things out! To be fair though, I get some of the drama with her dad – he just waltzed back in almost as if nothing ever happened, and didn’t even say sorry! He was awful. And I also do think Ally did become more like her old self toward the end, and I started to like her more again. It’s just it was too late and a bunch of other stuff had already happened…
I think I probably enjoyed Jake’s chapters more than Ally’s, and I liked that he was trying to get serious, and improve his grades and everything. He really wanted Ally back, but she wouldn’t listen to him, so he was stuck in Orchard Hill for the summer while she was off in the Jersey Shore. I really liked Jake in She’s So Dead to Us, mostly because he was so funny and I loved the way his mind worked! I did like him in this one too, but again, not as much. He just did too many stupid things (a bit like Ally) and I found myself sighing because of him half the time. And I just knew spending all that time with Chloe would mess everything up (I did not like Chloe. At all). However, his humour was still there and I did find some of his thoughts hilarious, so I’m glad that despite the fact we lost the Ally/Jake tension because they were separated, at least not everything had changed.
My favourite character was Annie, and I loved, loved, loved her pages in the book! Her “Crestie research” was absolutely hilarious and she really made the book for me. I don’t get how anyone could NOT like her – she was absolutely brilliant! She was a great character, and definitely the best part of the book.
Overall, He’s So Not Worth It was a funny, drama-filled read, great for the summer, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book in the series. I’ll still be reading the next one because I’m really curious as to how the cliffhanger will play out (I can see the drama and chaos now), and I do recommend this to anyone who liked the first book, or anyone who likes witty contemporary reads.
Thanks, Liz, and thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending us a copy. It’s out for you to buy this month…
Today we hear from Luke…
Sektion 20 by Paul Dowsell
Alex lives in East Berlin. The cold war is raging and he and his family are forbidden to leave. But the longer he stays, the more danger he is in. Alex is no longer pretending to be a model East German and the Stasi has noticed. They are watching him.
One false move will bring East and West together in a terrifying stand off which will change everything for Alex and his family… for ever
Well to be honest, this is the type of book that I would usually read a few pages, put down and forget about. But I am so glad I didn’t. I wish I had read this book when I was doing my history GCSE as I am sure I would have had a clearer understanding of the subject and got a better grade!!
In the book, we follow Alex who lives with his family in East Berlin. Alex tries to be the perfect model citizen, however, he longs to be like his western counterparts and enjoy the freedoms they have but instead he lives in a restricted world where everyone is frightened of coming to the attention of the state security police (the STASI). He becomes increasingly rebellious and disillusioned at school and his teachers are noticing. His girlfriend Sophie’s parents have noticed too, and dislike Alex. It’s not long before he comes to the attention of the STASI and Agent Eric Kohl and that’s when the story becomes intriguing. Once I started reading this, I struggled to put it down. The book is fraught with tension and it left me guessing till the end. You develop a real sympathy for Alex and his plight.
The book is very well written and researched and a book I would highly recommend.
Thanks, Luke, and thanks to Bloomsbury Children’s Books for sending us a copy. It’s out for you to buy this month…
Today we hear from Bookbabbler Pamela…
No Use Crying – Zannah Kearns
Secrets, secrets, secrets, she thought. It’s just another word for lying. The discovery of a grandfather Niki thought had died years ago means a sudden move to London and the start of a whole new life. Niki has to learn quickly to fit in and survive in the school halls and on the tough streets. And at the same time she must get to know her grandad and come to terms with the fact that her mum has been hiding the truth. But when Niki suddenly discovers her mum’s biggest lie of all, could it change their relationship – and Niki’s own sense of identity – for good?
Life is simple for fourteen-year-old Nikita. Niki and mum Angie, live with the Monroes and their dog Popper in the quiet hamlet of Oakley. But when Niki comes home one day, she is delivered a bombshell of a shock. They are leaving the first stable home Niki has had for years to move to London…to stay with a grandfather Niki thought to be dead. But it turns out, that wasn’t all Angie lied about.
It’s tough starting over in a new place – even tougher to be a private school, posh-sounding Afro-Caribbean who doesn’t understand the slang at a hard-as-nails Tooting comprehensive.
Niki’s life is now filled with things she doesn’t understand – why people of colour ridicule other races – why her mother lied about her grandfather being dead – why she won’t talk about her father and why people would want to hurt people they don’t even know. Niki’s story was a pleasure to read and I thought she was a very strong character, incredibly likeable and sympathetic. No Use Crying is primarily Niki’s story to tell, but she holds all the strands of the subplots together, making them just as interesting and moving as her own. Angie’s relationship with her own father was thought-provoking and even brought a tear to my eye.
No Use Crying was an amazing, emotional rollercoaster of a read. A perfect coming of age story that will benefit many teens, ranging from the younger to older readers. Parents alike could learn a thing or two from this starkly honest debut novel.
Thanks, Pamela, and thanks to Frances Lincoln for sending us a copy to review. It’s out this month and here for you to buy now…
Today we’re taking part in The Last Seal blog tour, so here Jonathan reviews it for us…
The Last Seal by Richard Denning
What caused the Great Fire of London? The Last Seal offers an explanation… September 1666: a struggle between two secret societies threatens to destroy London. Three hundred years previously the Praesidum defeated and incarcerated a demon beneath the city. Now the Liberati aim to release it and gain its power for themselvesAgents of the King are seeking four suspected foreign spies who are, in reality, disparate and unlikely heroes: GABRIEL, the sole remaining member of the Praesidum, crippled by his fear of failure; FREYA, a young thief orphaned by the Great Plague, driven by poverty and self-interest; TOBIAS, a cynical physician, obsessed by his desire for vengeance against the Liberati cavalier who killed his father, and finally and most vitally, BEN, a Westminster schoolboy, whose guilt over his parents’ death threatens to destroy him. Yet these four must overcome their personal problems and work together if they are to foil the evil plans of the Liberati, protect the city and gain the means to defeat the demon. Thrown together by chance when Ben finds an ancient scroll revealing the location of arcane seals that bind the demon beneath London, the story launches into a battle between the Liberati and Praesidium, a battle which takes place within the Great Fire of London. Ultimately, Ben and his friends must confront and defeat both the demon and the evils of the Liberati to save their city and themselves.
The first chapter of the book explains haw a powerful Warlock released a demon called Dantalion. But very soon after the Demon had been released it was imprisoned in a stone tablet by a man in an organisation called the Praesidium. The rest of the book is set in 1666 right at the beginning of September.
Ben who is a school boy at Westminster had his parents killed by a small fire 6 months ago. The last thing his Dad gave him was a necklace with a strange engraving of a portcullis on it. He has run off during his Latin class to try and do something more exiting in the rest of London. He soon comes to a book shop that mysteriously has the same sign as on his necklace. He goes in and is looking about when a strange man walks in and threatens the shop owner, Gabriel, and asks for a scroll. Ben leaves and Gabriel slips the scroll into Ben’s bag without anyone realising. Later upon reading the scroll Ben finds the Portcullis symbol on it and also realises it is information on how to release Dantalion. What will Ben do?
This book is good because it mixes magic and historical fact into one story. I found some parts of this book tedious because it has too much detail, but overall it was quite good. I would rate it 17/20.
Thanks, Jonathan! To find out more about the book, the author and the blog tour, check it all out here. The next stop on the tour will be on the 16th September, at Ya Yeah Yeah. You can buy it here now..
Today we hear from Bookbabbler Luke…
The Shadowing: Skinned by Adam Slater
Black Annis smiles. Her pointed teeth do not gleam; they are black with age and the bloodstains of her victims. She looks up at the human child – surely meant to be in bed and asleep at this time of night. Some things don’t change.
Every hundred years the gateway opens between their world and ours.
A human coven has joined forces with the dark beings of the Netherworld. Evil is growing.
And Callum is caught in the middle.
The shadowing has begun……..
Thirteen year old Callum lives with his gran in Nether Marlock. He is the last living Chime child (a child born full moon between midnight Friday and cock crow Saturday), and as so has to guard the boundary between the mortal and netherworld until he reaches 18. The shadowing occurs every hundred years and during the 13 moons of shadowing the boundaries become weak enabling beasts to cross over into the mortal world. In this novel Black Annis has come through the boundary and is killing children to feed her increasing appetite and build her strength. Callum must find a way of stopping her becoming stronger and halt the progression of others returning from the netherworld.. He is helped along the way by Jacob and Doom and his school friend Melissa.
This is the second shadowing novel by Adam Slater I have read and this novel sees a continuation from the previous with many of the same characters. This novel develops their personalities more and during the book we see Callum (and Melissa’s) power and abilities to fight the netherworld strengthen as his ghostly friend Jacob teaches him to conquer his fears and develop his chime child strengths. Melissa develops a bonding with Callum’s gran as she teaches her some useful spells and Melissa plays a pivotal role in the fight against Black Annis and the netherworld.
The story is easy to understand and the characters are described in accurate detail. There is a logical sequence of events which enables the story to be followed easily and none of this looking back at previous pages to try and work out the plot.Certainly by the end of the book the preview for the third book leaves you wanting more and I’m looking forward to the next instalment.
Thanks, Luke, and thanks to Egmont Books for sending us a copy to review. It’s here for you to buy now…
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Today we hear from Bookbabbler Liz….
Glee: Summer Break – Sophia Lowell
Calling all Gleeks! Spend summer vacation with uber-ambitious Rachel Berry, Cheerio extraordinaire Quinn Fabray and dreamy Finn Hudson in the third completely original Glee novel. Packed with all the hilarity and drama that a true Glee fan demands, this summertime story follows the Glee Club members as they attempt to run a singing workshop for kids. (Summary from back of book)
Glee: Summer break is another great addition to the series, and is a perfect read for the summer! This book concentrates more on Rachel Berry, our resident rising star, as she goes through a journey of self-discovery. Rachel has created a busy schedule for herself over the summer – after all, she needs as much practice as she can get if she’s going to make it to the top. Mr Schuester, however, announces that he’s organised a singing workshop for kids, and he wants all the Glee members to help mentor them over the summer! Rachel, of course, is furious – she can’t drop her busy schedule for something as silly as looking after children! But when she gets a taste of the fame she so desperately desires, she starts to realise that perhaps it’s not all as good as it’s cracked up to be. Maybe working with kids would be better after all!
I thought Glee: Summer Break was fabulous and really enjoyed reading about the Glee club and its various activities. There was the usual drama and hilarity throughout – Mercedes and Santana were having another diva-off, Finn was listening to some of Kurt’s old CDs and Brittany was attempting to communicate with her cat! Rachel, being a superstar-in-training, was too busy to deal with such frivolous things and was entirely focussed on advancing her career and fame. It was so funny when Rachel started to see herself from other people’s points of view – I think she got a real shock when she understood that not everyone loved her as much as she loved herself! It was also great to see her start to understand how important the Glee Club was to her and the other members, and that blowing them off for selfish reasons maybe wasn’t the best idea, considering how much they all needed each other.
One thing I noticed is that the summary implies the book will be about the Glee Club trying to organise the singing workshop, when this isn’t really the case – the book focuses more on Rachel and her experiences than the actual workshop itself, which is actually only mentioned at the beginning and end. Also, there are few issues where the book doesn’t exactly match up with the show, but I don’t think it takes away from the story.
Overall, Glee: Summer Break was a funny, cheery novel packed with drama, that I think any big fan of the Glee TV would enjoy. It’s sure to be a fun read for those sun-filled summer days!
Thanks, Liz, and thanks to Headline for sending us a copy to review. It’s here for you to buy now…