Described as "The Hunger Games meets The Princess Diaries" if ever a tagline is going to make me want to read a book, that is it! And what an unusualDescribed as "The Hunger Games meets The Princess Diaries" if ever a tagline is going to make me want to read a book, that is it! And what an unusual book, 'The Potion Diaries' by Amy Alward turned out to be. Unusual in a good way but not at all what I was expecting. It leant much more heavily towards the fantasy genre but was unlike anything else I've read before.
The book combines a modern setting with one where magic is still prevalent. This took a bit of getting used to because it's not every day that you experience magic being talked about in such a matter of fact way. The main character Samantha Kemi has the ability to mix potions. Her talent as an alchemist is second to none and is needed when her family are summoned to take part in an ancient quest to save the Princess from a potion gone awry. Fantasy, magical adventures and drama aplenty enthuse, as Sam joins the hunt to find all the ingredients for an anti-dote.
I have to admit that I wasn't immediately hooked by the story, although I loved the premise. I didn't really get engrossed in it properly until at least six or seven chapters in, so stick with it if it is the same for you because it's definitely worth it. The hunt itself was intriguing and trust me, you wouldn't even begin to be able to predict what was going to happen. It's best to just strap in and enjoy the ride.
I loved the character of Sam. She is brave, resourceful and talented but also incredibly modest. She wants to win the quest so that she can help provide for her family but along the way she learns a lot about her own abilities and talents. Handsome Zain is one of her rival competitors. Dark black hair and blue eyes is always a killer combination, so I was drawn to Zain even though I didn't know if he could be trusted. There are romantic sparks between the two of them, although the romance angle takes more of a backseat to the quest itself, so more romance and kissing next time please!
The book's recipe is to take a dash of humour and a sprinkle of romance. Stir it up with adventure, excitement and danger and you have 'The Potion Diaries'. ...more
'The Novice' is the first book in the Summoner series and was a Wattpad sensation before it hit the shelves in print. Taran Matharu's debut takes the'The Novice' is the first book in the Summoner series and was a Wattpad sensation before it hit the shelves in print. Taran Matharu's debut takes the reader on a fantastical journey in a world unlike anything you've seen before. The characters are placed in dangerous life or death situations as the horror of war looms ever on the horizon.
The story is about an orphan boy called Fletcher who discovers that he can summon demons. He ends up going to train at the Vocans Academy where he prepares for his role in the fight to defeat the orcs in battle. A large portion of the book follows Fletcher as he practices his new-found skills with demon Ignatius. When the two are working in sync, they have the ability to do incredible things. The demons reminded me a little of those in Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy, as they become in tune with their owners' emotions. I've also heard them compared to Pokémon and actually they did remind me of this, because each demon has it's own animal characteristics and performs to a different level.
I really enjoyed watching the students train in the art of summoning. This makes up the biggest part of the story and delves in-depth into the training process. It was a bit drawn out and I felt like it slowed the pace of the plot down a little but at the same time it helped to draw me into Fletcher's world and gave me a better understanding of the demons themselves.
There's a fantastic and diverse range of characters in the book, including Othello the dwarf and Sylva the elf. It was fun getting to know them all. Fletcher's friends help to teach the value of friendship and the importance of making bonds which aren't based on class divides.
'The Novice' was a brilliant fantasy read where adventure always seems to be waiting on the horizon. It was a really promising start to the series and if the second book is equally, if not more exciting, then I'll be very happy. ...more
This is the first book in the Gemini Force 1 series, written by M.G. Harris from an original idea by Gerry Anderson, creator of Thunderbirds. The storThis is the first book in the Gemini Force 1 series, written by M.G. Harris from an original idea by Gerry Anderson, creator of Thunderbirds. The story is about teenager Ben Carrington, who as the start of the book is mourning the loss of his father in a tragic mountaineering accident. His mother, also a top climber, decides to team up with Jason Truby, a wealthy entrepreneur who has set up a top secret rescue squad organisation called Gemini Force. Ben desperately wants to become part of the team but first he has to prove himself.
The opening of the book throws the reader right into the action as a dangerous situation develops involving Ben and his mother. This sets the tone for the rest of the story which is packed full of thrilling danger and adventure. 'Black Horizon' was a great read because I love books which are about teenagers doing incredible things and exhibiting amazing levels of bravery and this fit the bill perfectly. I don't think it was as engaging as some other series I've read in the same vein but I liked the concept and I think it has a lot of potential to get better and better.
So what would I like to see more of? The character of Ben could be developed and polished. He does have to deal with some really tough situations in the book, as well as several personal tragedies, but I didn't warm to him as much as I was expecting to. He is obviously used to getting his own way and that's one of the things that made me think of him as a bit spoilt. I would also love to see more of some of the other characters who were a bit one-dimensional. Plus, the action could be ramped up another notch and the boundaries pushed a little more.
I do like the fact that this book was originally made possible because of a kickstarter campaign by Gerry Anderson fans. That's the power of readers for you!
The second book will be published later this year and will be called 'Ghost Mine'. ...more
I'm a massive fan of the Agent 21 series by Chris Ryan, so I was extremely excited about getting to read the newest instalment. Teenage agent Zac DarkI'm a massive fan of the Agent 21 series by Chris Ryan, so I was extremely excited about getting to read the newest instalment. Teenage agent Zac Darke is one of my favourite male characters and I couldn't want to dive in and find out what adventure he was going to become embroiled in next.
This time around Zac's old nemesis, Cruz Martinez, rears his head again. Zac's former friend, he is now his sworn enemy due to the death of his father. Cruz's movements lead Zac, along with Gabs, Raf and computer whiz Malcolm, to Africa, where they uncover a shocking conspiracy which will endanger the lives of innocent citizens unless they can stop it.
The story is set mainly in the African jungle, which was a brilliant backdrop because of all the natural dangers which awaited Zac and co. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them having to survive in the wilderness and struggle against the elements, as they face dehydration and exhaustion, as well as the threat from other animals in the jungle. It was nice to see Zac's training really kicking in now. He's able to use all of his new skills and abilities in the field and he never stops thinking two steps ahead. He even, on occasion, surprises Gabs and Raf with his ingenuity and quick thinking.
Each chapter in the book was fraught with danger and the story was tough and gritty. A real page turner, I found it hard to put it down as it was so gripping. Zac hurtles from one tense predicament to another which was extremely thrilling.
'Deadfall' was an adrenaline pumping rollercoaster ride of adventure and suspense. This is a top series and I love reading about Zac and his missions. I hope there are lots more books to come in the future! ...more
The author of the H.I.V.E series, Mark Walden, has turned his imagination to envisioning the coming of aliens to earth. 'Earthfall' is the first chaptThe author of the H.I.V.E series, Mark Walden, has turned his imagination to envisioning the coming of aliens to earth. 'Earthfall' is the first chapter about school boy Sam and his fellow survivors, who band together to create a renegade group, intent on thwarting the unwanted intruders to their planet.
From the opening chapter, the reader is thrust straight into the fight as our as yet unnamed hero battles against a drone-like creature - an octopus type object with deadly tendrils. This left me in no doubt that the rest of the book was going to be a rollercoaster ride for survival.
I thought Mark Walden did a really good job of depicting the world as its now become. The majority of humans have become Walkers, as Sam calls them and among them are his mother and older sister. There's quite a detailed and slightly complex explanation of events near the end of the book which provides a fresh perspective on things which have happened. This was a bit hard to follow at first but I gradually began to make sense of it all and found it fascinating.
I would have liked to have seen more of Sam's progression in the book, as his training was skipped over quite quickly. Although he's wily and tough from the beginning, I think after having been on his own for such a long time, that it would have taken him longer to adjust to being part of a group. It would also have been interesting to have found out more background to some of the other people that he joins up with.
'Earthfall' was a promising start to the series which will appeal to slightly younger readers, boys in particular. There's lots of action and excitement which will have them totally hooked! ...more
Teenage bodyguard Connor Reeves is back in a new and exciting adventure. ‘Ransom’ sees him assigned to protect the twin daughters of a media mogul. BuTeenage bodyguard Connor Reeves is back in a new and exciting adventure. ‘Ransom’ sees him assigned to protect the twin daughters of a media mogul. But this time he has to put his protection skills into action at sea and away from any kind of back-up.
I loved the first book in this series and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a new instalment. Exciting, fast-paced, gripping and a real thrill-ride, it’s everything and more I look for in a book! The whole idea of teenage bodyguards or buddyguards, as they are known, is fascinating and I enjoyed seeing all the training they have to do to ensure that they are up to the job. Although Connor initially questions himself, he is definitely more than capable of protecting those in his charge.
I thought setting the story at sea was a nice change too and meant that we got to see Connor learning a whole new set of survival skills. It kept the story fresh and original and presented new challenges which our hero had to overcome. I’m a huge Connor fan and I think male readers in particular will really like and admire him. He always seems to be able to keep a clear head and he’s not one to back down from a challenge, however difficult it may be.
Brilliantly paced, extremely exciting and packed full of adventure, danger and intrigue, I loved it. I can’t get enough of this series. The next book, ‘Ambush’ is out in May 2015. ...more
I love books about boy spies and the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz is one of my favourites. This series is in a similar vein but with a twistI love books about boy spies and the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz is one of my favourites. This series is in a similar vein but with a twist - instead of spies it focuses on teen bodyguards who are recruited and trained to protect people of importance. As teenagers they are able to go places where a standard protection team are unable to go.
The author, Chris Bradford, underwent professional bodyguard training in preparation for writing 'Hostage' and his dedication shows in the authenticity of the story. There's a lot of detail about the extent of the training that someone must undergo to become prepared to protect someone else's life and that was a really fascinating element of the book which I enjoyed reading about.
Being a bodyguard is a tough, dangerous job, not suited to everyone, but fourteen year old Connor Reeves, who is the central character in the story, seems to have a talent for it. Recruited to join the team, he is soon sent on his first job - to protect the daughter of the President of the United States. Connor is tough and resilient but is facing the biggest and most dangerous challenge of his life.
I loved this book and read it in one sitting. The plot was utterly gripping and compulsive and each chapter was packed full of moments which left me on the edge of my seat. If you're still mourning the end of Alex Rider or Young Bond and looking for something to fill the void then let me tell you, this is it! Fast-paced with non-stop explosive action, boys and girls alike should gain a lot of enjoyment from 'Bodyguard: Hostage' which showcases action-adventure at its very best.
Chris Bradford is currently hard at work on the next exciting instalment 'Bodyguard: Ransom' which is set to be published in May 2014 and I for one can't wait. ...more
'Into That Forest' was a wonderful book, unlike anything else I've ever read before. The story takes the reader on an incredible journey through the T'Into That Forest' was a wonderful book, unlike anything else I've ever read before. The story takes the reader on an incredible journey through the Tasmanian outback with friends Hannah and Becky. Thoughts of this book lingered with me long after turning the final page and I'm looking forward to passing it onto others who haven't yet discovered such an amazing title.
The story is narrated by seventy-six year old Hannah, who is looking back on her early life. Nothing could prepare me for the tale she would have to tell of surviving in the wilderness with her friend Becky and two Tasmanian tigers, who she names Dave and Corinna. Not only do the girls survive but in their own way they adapt and flourish in their new environment. They become like tigers themselves, moving on all fours and shedding their human clothes, as well as taking part in the hunt for fresh meat. Isolated from contact with any other human being, they begin to forget their previous existence and become happy with their new lives.
Everything changes however when they realise that the hunters have now become the hunted. Two men are seemingly intent on capturing them and rescuing them from the tigers, but the girls do not want to return to civilisation and a new struggle ensues.
Louis Nowra depicts both the horror and the beauty of life in the outback. I enjoyed seeing how the girls adapted to life with the tigers and even began to see them as their new mother and father. The tigers in return adopt them as their own, surrogate daughters instead of the cubs which they are brutally robbed of. There's a sense of freedom throughout the first half of the book as the girls run wild, their senses sharpening as they become accustomed to the sights, sounds and smells around them. There are some wonderfully descriptive passages of them both curled up next to the tigers for warmth, as well as enjoying the taste of fresh meat and hot blood.
The ending is devastating but beautifully told and the perfect conclusion to an outstanding read. I hope that readers who wouldn't normally pick up a book like this are encouraged to give it a try because 'Into That Forest' is a story which deserves to be read....more
If you love the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter (as I do!) then you'll adore 'Spy Society' which is a fun read about a teenage spy cracking herIf you love the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter (as I do!) then you'll adore 'Spy Society' which is a fun read about a teenage spy cracking her first big solo case.
Maggie is a great character. She and her parents, who are spies, work for a secret organisation called the Collective. She is an expert safe-cracker - capable of breaking even the toughest combination locks. Being part of the spy world is in her blood and it is a life she loves. As a family, the Silvers end up moving to New York where Maggie is assigned her own mission. This turns everything on it's head because now she has to face the teenage realm of school, try to be a normal teenager and crack the case at the same time. This will be the biggest challenge Maggie has had to face so far.
Brave, smart and funny, I really loved her as a main character and she makes a great lead. She has to get close to Jesse Oliver as part of her assignment but things don't quite go to plan when they have a lot more in common than she expected. It's not a typical YA romance but some of their scenes together were among my favourite in the book.
The story is fast-paced and the plot fairly speeds along with some big twists and turns along the way. I enjoyed every second of reading it and really didn't want to get to the end! Robin Benway has hit upon the perfect formula for a fabulous series with brilliant characters and plenty of intrigue and excitement to keep you gripped from start to finish. It was a big winner with me.
I'm so glad that this is going to be part of a series because I can't wait to catch-up with Maggie Silver again and follow her on her next big case. 'Going Rogue', the next book, is due to be published in 2014. ...more
Jake and the History Keepers are back in this thrilling new instalment by British author Damian Dibben. This time they are travelling back to AD27 andJake and the History Keepers are back in this thrilling new instalment by British author Damian Dibben. This time they are travelling back to AD27 and Ancient Rome to try and rescue Topaz.
What is so great about this series is the actual premise of being able to travel back to any period in time. The characters get to visit some amazing locations, enriched by fantastic details of all the historical events which actually took place. The scenes in the book really come alive with such wonderfully descriptive writing and all of these things mean that the scope for the series is pretty much infinite. There are so many exciting places and adventures which could lie in store for the History Keepers.
I really enjoyed the first in the series when I read it last year but I loved ‘Circus Maximus’ even more. The basic idea behind the secret organisation has already been explained and put in place, so Dibben can now simply concentrate on weaving a fabulous story with plenty of action for Jake and co as they attempt to save the world.
The characters grew on me even more too this time around. Jake is a brilliant hero (move over Percy Jackson!) but I also adore Nathan who is by Jake’s side throughout and my personal favourite. He’s funny and charming, obsessed with fashion but also loyal and brave and the right person to have by your side in times of need.
The History Keepers have to face Agata Zeldt and she makes a great baddie – the character that you love to hate. Every hero needs an enemy and Zeldt is it! Every time she appeared I wanted to run and hide because she's just so scary.
The ending nicely plants the seeds for the next book in the series which promises to lead the group on yet another dangerous mission. A sublime combination of fantasy and adventure, hold onto your seats as Dibben takes you on a rollercoaster ride through history, fraught with danger and excitement. ...more
Jeff Norton is a writer-director turned author who aimed to write a book for the current generation of teenagers obsessed with video games and livingJeff Norton is a writer-director turned author who aimed to write a book for the current generation of teenagers obsessed with video games and living in a technology fuelled society. 'Metawars' is Norton's debut YA novel and is a roller coaster ride through a virtual world where people go to escape the humdrum existence of their real lives.
Elements of the story reminded me of the film The Matrix, with people plugging themselves into a virtual reality which is more real to them that their own day to day existence. I could feel the sense of escapism that they experienced and the freedom they had to experience things which they wouldn't normally be able to do. The main character Jonah for example, delights in the sensation of flying which is mentioned several times throughout the book. I mean who wouldn't want to be able to do that whenever they wanted to.
Those visiting the virtual world are represented by avatars. These are created by the person's subconscious and can be pretty much anything and everything. It was slightly strange at first to see a dragon, unicorn and elephant conversing with each other, but after a while I didn't think much about it at all. It just seemed to be normal!
One of the most interesting ideas in 'Metawars' is that you can upload your virtual self and all your memories. This means that even if you die in the real world, you can in effect live forever in a virtual state. I thought this was a fascinating idea and one which is explored through Jonah's grandmother who he visits even after her death.
There is an exciting climax to the story with plenty of questions left unanswered. I'm sure there is a planned sequel to the book which hopefully will deal with many of these things.
This book will appeal hugely to male readers but there's lots to catch the eye of a female audience too. There is pretty much non-stop action from the word go and the drama never lets up. I found the plot a little bit complicated in places but on the whole Norton has come up with a terrific storyline which screams excitement and adventure. ...more
This is one of my favourite series of all-time! It's addictive and gripping and the long wait between books is unbearable. 'The Rise of Nine' is the tThis is one of my favourite series of all-time! It's addictive and gripping and the long wait between books is unbearable. 'The Rise of Nine' is the third instalment in the Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore and yet again was a heart-stopping and pulse-pounding read. I literally couldn't put it down. There's edge of your seat action from the word go and it's compulsive reading for fans of the series.
The story is this time narrated by three characters: Four, Six and Seven, so we're treated to multiple perspectives of events. Four is with Nine and Six and Seven are together along with Ten, so the story switched between the two viewpoints. A different typeface was used for each narrator but it perhaps would have been easier to have had each chapter headed with the character's name as it sometimes took me a couple of seconds to work out who was now speaking. Four has always been my favourite character but he has to take a little bit of a backseat to what seemed to be the main story of Six and Seven's hunt to find Eight. It's great to see them all gradually coming together. I can only imagine what it's going to be like when all of them are reunited.
I really like the way that they are learning more about each other and their own abilities. Their legacies compliment each other and when they are fighting as a group they are always stronger and more powerful. Their greatest foe so far is revealed in the book and he turns out to be a formidable enemy who it's going to take their combined strengths to defeat.
We don't get to see much of Sam and Sarah which was a shame as Sam in particular is another of my favourites. It's interesting having two humans in the mix though as they are so much more vulnerable than the others but still determined to do their fair share of the fighting.
The story is spread over a wide geographical range, skipping from Chicago, to India, to New Mexico. The part of the book set in India was especially good, as they try to track down Eight. He turned out to be unlike anything I'd imagined. He has really powerful legacies and has learnt to survive on his own after the death of his Cepan. There's hints of a romance developing between him and Seven which I hope is explored further in the future.
I can't wait to see if Number Five makes an appearance in the next book in the series. As far as I know, there are another three books planned so lot's more action and adventure still to come. It's the event of the year when a new book in the series is published so I'll be counting down the days until the next one. ...more