PRE-RELEASE REVIEW! UK publication date: 17th January 2012
A gorgeous object, The Thorn and The Blossom is written accordion style - without a spine, tPRE-RELEASE REVIEW! UK publication date: 17th January 2012
A gorgeous object, The Thorn and The Blossom is written accordion style - without a spine, two perspectives on one series of events can be read with the turning of the book.
Whilst 'not strictly YA', I'm not sure that I'd class it as anything too far beyond young adult realms. Dealing, at first, with postgraduate students... perhaps if there were an 'early adulthood' genre it would fit better in there. In any case, there was certainly nothing that was ... um ... "more adult" than teenagers feel.
As two perspectives uniquely interwoven, Theodora Goss does an amazing job of guiding the reader through the dual narratives. Brendan and Evelyn are engaging and realistic. I read Brendan's side of their story first, thinking that alphabetical was a good option, and felt his bewilderment and wry romanticism as if they were my own emotions. When I moved on to Evelyn's tale, gaps that I wasn't sure existed were filled in.
I loved The Thorn and The Blossom, and so will you if legends, love stories, and modern-day Victoriana tickles your fancy. Somehow, a blend of Charlotte Bronte, Iris Murdoch, and Neil Gaiman has been achieved in two counterpart, intertwined, novellas. My hat is off to you, Ms. Goss, my hat is so far gone that I've lost sight of it.
Wolfsong explores the bonds that tie relationships together, whilst shining new and unexpected lights upon the concept of werewolves. A short book thaWolfsong explores the bonds that tie relationships together, whilst shining new and unexpected lights upon the concept of werewolves. A short book that doesn't immediately scream YA, Wolfsong meanders through Sarah's final steps in the jump from youthful naïveté to adult realisation and acceptance. It is a new take on the coming of age tale.
The way in which the narrative unfolds is as beautiful as the concept of woman-as-wolf moments are unique. Sarah responds to the nudges of knowledge from Nico, her strange, yet strangely appropriate, mentor in reassuringly normal ways. Reasonable, logical, mathematical, and more memorable than she would ever have believed, Sarah is a refreshing narrator whose thoughts on cells (genetic) versus cells (prison) are particularly telling.
The characters are amazing, it's like a behind the scenes version of a 1960s movie - sure, there are gorgeous dresses, jewellery, and men whose wildness after several glasses of whatever's in is barely concealed, but pretend that's reality before taking a step beyond... and the world of Wolfsong is revealed! That's how it felt to me, at least. Easily corruptible and utterly believable.
Amanda Prantera stunned me with her writing. I read Wolfsong in one sitting (it successfully took my mind off wisdom tooth pain for a few hours!), gobbling it up like a favourite sweet. On one hand I wish there had been more, on the other I feel that it had one of the most perfect endings I've read in a long time. Just wonderful.
This Is Not Forgiveness ripped something out of me, and then squished it back in. In a good way. I think.
Written from three different, but irrevocablyThis Is Not Forgiveness ripped something out of me, and then squished it back in. In a good way. I think.
Written from three different, but irrevocably intertwined, perspectives, This Is Not Forgiveness explores the realities of war, political activism, first love, mental health, and how challenging clambering from teenager to adult (17-24ish?) can be if you scratch the surface. It is, in places, a challenging read, but even the most shocking descriptions are somehow rendered a beautiful piece of the whole.
If you have read any of the frankly awesome historical-ish books by Celia Rees, forget them. This Is Not Forgiveness is something utterly different. (Although, there are still subtle hints of `magic as real`!)
Jamie, or the less "poncey" Jimbo as his big brother Rob likes to call him, is a fairly average sixth form student. He's single, his summer job keeps his pockets lined, and he's as likely to be at home drinking coffee as to being on a night out. He intends on going to university - it's just what you do when you finish your A-Levels, right?
Rob is different, was different before he ever joined the army. Reckless, blokey (did I make that word up?), self-medicating *wink wink* and deeply scarred: inside and out. But he's fiercely loyal to his brother, in his own way. Martha, their sister, is typical in a different way to Jamie - with fake tan and freshly-straightened hair, she and `the girls` form a clique of gossip-lovers at every opportunity. She tries to protect Jamie, though, and seems to love him as much as most close-in-age teenagers love their siblings.
Caro... she's a beautiful roller-coaster; seemingly spontaneous, secretly obsessive. Terrified, but hides it under an attitude of free love and a come-no-closer shell. She creates chaos and compulsive behaviour as much as she craves it.
I'm not particularly one for politics, I can't quote speeches or name many names; nor am I one for sitting, considering all the evidence and making decisions about the usefulness, or indeed legality, of recent military actions. However, even I could relate to the characters who did get sucked into, or more-than-mildly infatuated with, such things. Particularly moving was the portrayal of the line between political activism as a useful tool for necessary societal change and terrorism: blurry, and all too easy to cross.
This is not a feel-good read. This is not an obvious journey.
Is this an important read? Hell yes, as far as I am concerned......more
PRE-RELEASE REVIEW! UK publication date: 5th January 2012
If I'm honest, I have to say that Tempest confused me. In a couple of ways, actually.
FirstlyPRE-RELEASE REVIEW! UK publication date: 5th January 2012
If I'm honest, I have to say that Tempest confused me. In a couple of ways, actually.
Firstly - time-travel in general boggles my mind! I can get on board (I wish literally!) with Doctor Who, as he jumps through time and space in a pretty big way... which for some reason makes my head a slightly less confused and more accepting place. In Tempest, the management of time-travel is more intricate, far more obviously sci-fi, and yet slightly unfinished. And, yes I'm going to say it - a little creepy.
Secondly - the characters seemed to almost jump in and out of each other... their voices became blurred and seemingly out-of-character at times. It was an odd experience that would have perhaps been less noticeable in a world that was less complicated. With such a lot going on, so many threads to keep in mind with every turn of the page, things became too confusing when characters acted out-of-character too often!
Don't get me wrong - this is certainly a page-turner! I read Tempest in one sitting and found it difficult to pull myself away even to refill my cup of tea, but it felt more like a film than a book. Let me explain: there are books, I think, that I can't imagine ever being adapted well onto the big screen, then there are books that I adore as books and wish passionately would be filmed..... and then there's Tempest, which I truly believe should be a film, and a film alone.
I read an uncorrected proof, though, so perhaps some of the problems I noticed are unfair as they might get ironed out in the final version.... I would love to read the opinions of other readers of this book! Please leave a comment if you've read it!...more
Katelyn McBride expects an extraordinary life and as a teenager trained in ballet and gymnastics living in L.A. she seems all set to live out her outsKatelyn McBride expects an extraordinary life and as a teenager trained in ballet and gymnastics living in L.A. she seems all set to live out her outstanding dreams (like, you know, starring in a Cirque du Soleil performance... or two...). When tragedy strikes she moves to the isolated town of Wolf Springs to live with her grandfather, a retired philosophy professor used to living in solitude, and finds that life outside the big city is more different than she could ever have imagined.
Reading the first few chapters of this book before an ever-so-slightly-tedious lecture was probably not the best idea because it was so good that anything my lecturer could have said or done (short, perhaps, of introducing Sean Bean from behind a velvet curtain and then sitting down) would pale in comparison. As you might have guessed, I loved Unleashed and cannot wait for the next Wolf Springs instalment!
But what was so great about it? Firstly hats off to whoever designed the cover as it is a bucket of wonderfulness, not only grabbing the eye but also totally setting the scene for the shadowy levels of hotness that wander through the pages. Yes, oh yes, there is hotness. I am fairly sure that Trick and Justin will haunt the dreams of readers for quite some time! The gorgeous girls are so likeable that I forgot to be jealous of them... and if you're in the mood for girl candy then I think you'll also find Wolf Springs to be a well-stocked town! For once, the supernatural as well as the relationships of the usefully-hot characters had me screaming "WHAT? THERE HAS TO BE MORE!" after turning the final page. Seriously, I loved these characters pretty much unanimously. ...more
**spoiler alert** Philippa Gregory focuses on the oft-ignored women in history - those who marry, mother, or somehow otherwise influence the lives of**spoiler alert** Philippa Gregory focuses on the oft-ignored women in history - those who marry, mother, or somehow otherwise influence the lives of those "great men" that are more commonly known. The Lady of the Rivers is the third of Philippa Gregory's Cousins' War series (The White Queen and The Red Queen being the others) which chart the course and culmination of the Wars of the Roses from the viewpoints of some of the key women involved: in the case of The Lady of the Rivers readers delve into the mind of Jacquetta, mother of Queen Elizabeth Woodville and great-grandmother of Henry VIII.
I enjoyed this book more as a guilty pleasure than anything else - like 1980s power ballads, watching Neighbours, and drinking tea through a straw - as I do love Philippa Gregory's gift of writing characters that are compelling enough that I actually care about their lives. However, and this should probably get a giant *SPOILERS/RANT* warning, I hated the implication that women are only able to be strong if they are either full of magic (yes, magic), at least slightly loose with their virtue, or a combination of the two. This does seem to be a theme with this Cousins' War series; the tale that the water goddess Melusina is an ancestress of Jacquetta (and therefore also of her children) gives an odd magical heritage that seems better placed in fantasy than in historical fiction. Witchcraft trials were reasonably common, yes, but that by no means points to the fact that England in the past was more like Hogwarts than anything else. *END OF SPOILERS/RANT*
Recommendation: If you're a fan of Philippa Gregory and her previous books, this will likely be an enjoyable experience that fills in a picture of the lives of some lesser known historical characters. If you enjoy witches with more than a whiff of power about them, then The Lady of the Rivers might delight you.
This Dark Endeavour delves into the life of one teenage Victor Frankenstein, living in his Genevan family villa. And when I say Victor Frankenstein IThis Dark Endeavour delves into the life of one teenage Victor Frankenstein, living in his Genevan family villa. And when I say Victor Frankenstein I don't mean that his parents happened to be Frankensteins and loved Mary Shelley enough to name their child in honour of her madly brilliant, monster-making doctor - I mean that Victor Frankenstein, Mary Shelley's corpse animation extraordinaire, in teenage form.
With Frankenstein, Mary Shelley broke literary boundaries enough to create a story that is praised as the forerunner to modern science fiction, fantasy, and horror; but her tale is so much more deeply layered than that, especially as it introduces readers to the exquisitely intense character of Victor. Intense fervour, though, seems an inadequate reason to go on multiple corpse-robbing journeys... I've often wondered what sparked Victor's need to harness the spark of life (yes, I'm that cool) and I'm ever so glad that Kenneth Oppel seems to have spent even more time pondering the question than me!
Victor's life is grand and fantastically recreated through 19th century-esque prose in This Dark Endeavour, his family is well-off (thanks to his high-ranking-in-the-law father) and his days spent with brother, Konrad, cousin, Elizabeth, and friend, Henry, are relatively carefree until the dual horrors of the Forbidden Library (read the book and then tell me you don't want one!) and mysterious illness strike, with alarming consequences.
Recommendation: Angsty lust, alchemical adventures (climbs, caves, and impromptu surgery - oh my!), and Gothic suspense drive this portrait of the early life of a well-known character. If you've always secretly wondered how to spot the signs of an energetic, arrogant mind falling into something slightly more worrying - read This Dark Endeavour and learn just how hypnotic power can be. ...more
David is a novel suitable for those unafraid of mentions of sex, politics, and artistic inclinations!
Renaissance Italy, Florence to be precise - thisDavid is a novel suitable for those unafraid of mentions of sex, politics, and artistic inclinations!
Renaissance Italy, Florence to be precise - this is the world that the reader steps into within the pages of David, sitting on the shoulder of beautiful-yet-naive Gabriele as he makes his way from his childhood village home to his milk-brother's city hearth. Throw into this coming of age/boy meets world tale the fact that Gabriele's milk-brother is none other than the famed sculptor of the statue of David, Michelangelo, and you may be able to begin to understand just what a volatile situation young Gabriele wanders into.
As far as I can tell, Mary Hoffman captures the voices of age (memory, anecdote, wry humour) and youth (enthusiasm, action before thought, vanity) with brilliant style and accuracy - but it is her sensually volatile depiction of early 16th century Florence and its precarious political state that I best enjoyed (disclosure - history nerd and proud!).
I can't imagine anybody reading David without doing these three things: 1) putting on their best Italian accent, 2) wishing they had artistic genius, 3) imagining their perfectly perfect Gabriele! (High five for you if you already have 1 and/or 2 under your belt!)
Recommendation: If you like beautifully imagined historical fiction, palpable political tensions, and gorgeous scenery to view in your mind then David will float your boat all the way to the shores of Italy! ...more
Henry VIII is one of the best known English monarchs, perhaps eclipsed in popularity only by his second daughter, Elizabeth I. Whether this is due toHenry VIII is one of the best known English monarchs, perhaps eclipsed in popularity only by his second daughter, Elizabeth I. Whether this is due to their fantastic names (disclosure: "Hi, I'm Elizabeth and this is my son Henry...") or some fantastic Tudor-fuelled expectation of power is hard to tell (but I'm hoping the name thing will bring more happiness and less madness in the case of myself and my son!). In VIII, H.M. Castor pulls her readers into the mind of Henry and manages to keep them hooked right there from his youth until his death.
Reading VIII felt to me as if I was strapping on some kind of magic spectacles that allowed me not only to see through someone else's eyes, but also to feel their emotions: it was an uncanny and exhilarating experience. I felt sorry for the child (emotional, eager-to-please, caught up in family politics, secrets, and hierarchies), was rooting for the young man and monarch (idealistic, heroic, destined for certain glory), and raged with the ageing king (righteously indignant, increasingly violent, more than slightly mentally unhinged) before I realised that these feelings and desires weren't mine. This, I think, shows the genius of H.M. Castor's writing - I was pulled into the mind of, at best, a powerful man of his time, at worst, a madman.
VIII meanders through the life of Henry VIII, examines the idea of hauntings in a literal and breath-stealing way, and walks you through the possibility that an exuberant and precocious child can grow into something monstrous.
Recommendation: With beautifully expressive prose and three-dimensional characters, VIII should appeal to fans of the Tudor period as well as those who love psychological and relationship-driven fiction. I felt drained when I finished the last page; physically drained, as if I had lived another life whilst reading. I can't recommend VIII highly enough. Get it, read it, love it....more
Lottie Biggs is (not) Tragic is my first foray into the world of Lottie Biggs, Welsh wondergirl. I think the fact that I'm an English girl living in WLottie Biggs is (not) Tragic is my first foray into the world of Lottie Biggs, Welsh wondergirl. I think the fact that I'm an English girl living in Wales helped a lot with the `in` jokes ... and understanding the use of "lush"!
Hayley Long perfectly captures the teenage language that I hear whenever I get on a bus around the end of school time. Seriously, it's that hilarious! I chuckled away to this book, every chapter has at least one one-liner that I felt I should try to put to use. And yes, I'll admit it, there was a tea-drinking/spluttering incident. Or two. Or three...
The story itself is engaging and fast-paced, the scenery and characters are believable and have enough back-story to feel as if I knew them already. I think I'll have to stalk Lottie and buy copies of Hayley Long's other books!
Recommendation: Looking for a contemporary YA novel that's as full of laughs as it is of angsty issues? Love imagining Welsh accents? Enter the world of Lottie Biggs and enjoy, my friends.