Wednesday, 12 June 2013

3 New Reviews!

Title: The Abomination
Author: Jonathon Holt
ISBN: 9781781853665
Price: £16.99 (hardback)
ISBN: 9781781853764
Price: £12.99 (paperback)
                Captiano Tapo is not your usual Italian investigator. In fact she is a young attractive but ruthless woman determined to solve her first murder case in the beautiful but corrupt city of Venice, its glorious buildings covering not only dark murky polluted water, but also organisations of crime, drugs and prostitution. Her victim is a woman dressed in the robes of a Catholic priest, poignantly shot on the steps of the Santa Maria della Salute. However the more leads they find to show that the crime is connected to larger organisations, such as the church and the mafia, the further they seem to get from solving the crime as every new lead is dismissed. Kat Tapo is convinced that a larger force is behind these crimes especially when a second body of an American woman is found at the bottom of the canal, however the story is soon twisted, assisted by the press and the head of the police himself into an allegation involving a lesbian relationship and argument between the two women which resulted in her death; this allegation is deemed more probable when they discover that the two women were searching for a particular Croatian prostitute named Melina Kovacevic. Kat knows there is more to the story but is disheartened by false leads and distracted by an affair with her boss Aldo Piola.
                Meanwhile Holly Boland a young American army officer struggles with her own acceptance in a traditionally masculine line of work. Sexual assaults and patronising assignments are not uncommon for her either, yet she too becomes fascinated by the case Kat presents to her while searching for information about the American involvement in the war against Serbia, and the plight of the Bosnians and Croats who are forced into prostitution on their entrance to Italy to find work. Both women believe this is the cause of the death of the two women, and although she is usually cynical towards conspiracy theories, there is a nagging feeling that the American military know more than they are letting on and are missing key files and pieces of information in their database.
                The women enlist the help of Daniele Barbo, an internet hacker who created Carnivia.com, a virtual world which is an exact replica of Venice but with one exception; no spies, or underground organisations, therefore anonymity is always guaranteed. However the frequent criminal activity which cannot be monitored or controlled by the government mean Daniele’s creation attracts fear and hostility and he soon faces a trial and a possible prison sentence. However he is necessary for solving the investigation, particularly when he finds religious ceremonies taking place inside the virtual temples of Carnivia, where the priests are women. But can he be trusted to assist the women in solving this mystery? Can anyone be trusted?
                Cleverly written and containing detailed information of Venetian customs and lifestyle this book is definitely a page-turner. A thrilling murder mystery with a fiery strong willed female investigator intertwined with an intricate plan incorporating the American military and the Mafia as well as the Catholic Church.  It seems every establishment providing the foundation of society has skeletons in its closet, which they are determined to keep hidden, whatever the cost.
7/10

Title: Far Far Away
Author: Tom McNeal
Proof copy… Soon to be published so keep an eye out!
Fairy tales have been a part of the culture of almost every country and race since the beginning of time… we all know the classic tales of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White. But who made sure that these tales stood the test of time and are still read today? Centuries ago, there were men who travelled the world collecting folk stories telling tales of magic, witchcraft Princes and damsels but the most famous of these men were the Grimm Brothers, mainly the two eldest Jacob and Wilhelm who took on such a task in the 1800s. But moving away from that time and to present day, a brave young boy of 15 Jeremy Johnson strives to keep these tales alive in memory of his mother who left him and his father many years ago to find her own happy ending. Jeremy’s love of the fairy tales is also due to the fact that he is haunted, by the ghost of Jacob Grimm himself.
Far Far Away is a modern day fairy tale with all your favourite charcters, a beautiful red-haired girl whom the whole village is in love with (with the exception that 15 year old Ginger is determined to make her own decisions rather than wait for a handsome prince), a brave young hero (the shy, quiet Jeremy striving to make his way out of the village by studying hard and getting into university) and a ghost who is determined to watch over this boy and save him from the hidden evil lurking beneath the surface of his happy life. However this is a modern fairy tale and there are many hidden twists and villains do not necessarily look like dragons or witches; sometimes they appear in the form of a friend.
What I found most interesting about this book is that it is written from the perspective of the ghost, Jacob Grimm himself.  Although we learn the most about Jeremy Johnson, we also learn about Grimm’s many regrets in his life, and the reason that he must drift between the worlds… his unfinished business.  I was also impressed at the fairy-tale like charm of the novel even while including modern themes.
l would recommend for anyone interested in fairy tales, folk lore (there are some interesting links to both language and culture within the novel- the writer has clearly done his research) and more importantly this is a heart-warming story of bravery friendship and love.
8/10

Title: The Drowning
Author: Rachel Ward
A chilling murder mystery; told by the murderer himself. One of those wonderfully clever books in which the narrator does not himself know the truth. Carl opens his eyes with no recollection of his past and sees a crying shivering girl, a cold, deep lake and a body being zipped into a bag. Later he learns his brother has drowned and as slowly memories begin to return all he can remember is his feelings for the girl, Neisha and a fight in the water with his brother. So was he the murderer? Neisha his brother’s girlfriend certainly tells him so when he goes to meet her. He must find out the truth before its too late… because he is not alone. As the memories return, so does Rob, his brother, dripping and consumed by anger, he is determined to haunt Carl until he fulfils his final request “Kill her, or I’ll kill you both”
Carl realises he must save both himself and Neisha now, and tries desperately to keep her away from the lake, but Rob is growing stronger, and the rain more frequent until their entire street is flooding. Can Carl save the girl he loves before his brother’s determination for revenge destroys him too? Can he escape the water, or this time will it be him and Neisha who must drown?
Thrilling action packed and spine-tingling, this story will make you afraid to turn the tap on…
7/10

Saturday, 4 May 2013

New book Review; Historical Fiction Mystery; 'The Asylum'

Title: The Asylum
Author: John Harwood
ISBN: 9780224097413
Price: Hard back £14.99

                A thrilling mystery set in Victorian times, ‘The Asylum’ is the story of one woman who is almost convinced she has lost her sanity. She wakes up confined in Tregannon House, a professional private establishment for mental instability having no recollection of how she came to be there or of the events of the past three weeks. However she is aware of her identity; she is Georgina Ferrars and wishes to contact her uncle and be sent home immediately. However when Dr Straker sends a telegram home the reply nearly causes here to lose her mind entirely ‘GEORGINA FERRARS IS HERE STOP YOUR PATIENT MUST BE AN IMPOSTER STOP’. Dr Straker informs her that she is subject to a rare condition in which the sufferer becomes so obsessed with another person they eventually take on their identity. The woman in London who states she is the real Georgina Ferrars states she spoke to a woman named Lucia Ardent intimately about her childhood and life so far which would explain the patient’s knowledge of this. The woman arrived at Tregannon house under the false alias of Lucy Aston but the Doctor also explains that he has researched the name Lucia Ardent, which also did not exist.
                However ‘Miss Aston’ as they choose to call her at Tregannon refuses to believe that she is not Georgina Ferrars and she knows she must find some way to escape and return to her uncle in London and reveal the imposter. She becomes more anxious as the Doctor informs her she is confined in the building for her own safety and begins to wonder if she is a fly caught in a massive web- as scheme of this imposter or indeed of the Doctor himself in order to drive her to insanity. Yet she can’t help but wonder, of the two women who claim to be the same person, is she the real Georgina Ferrars? Or is has she truly lost herself in the realm of insanity?
                 
Cleverly written with twists in every chapter, ‘The Asylum’ is a fantastic mystery story which also reveals some of the more scandalous aspects of Victorian life- this is the benefit of books written today referring back of time as parts of this book would never have been publiches during the reign of Queen Victoria. Midway it becomes harder to follow as the narrator switches and we read a series of letters, the significance of which do not become clear until later. Nevertheless if you persevere it all pulls together to form a wonderfully dramatic conclusion.

 


Saturday, 27 April 2013

New Malorie Blackman book: Noble Conflict




Title: Noble Conflict
Author: Malorie Blackman
ISBN: 9780385610421
                 
As a fan of Malorie Blackman, I know she has a skill for creating entire fictional worlds, such as the fantastic ‘Noughts and Crosses’ series for example. This book is based on a Totalarian world in which Guardians protect the Alliance from the Insurgents who work for the Crusaders and attempt to attack the Alliance. Kaspar is a new young Guardian, determined to fight for his country and protect the people from the vicious terrorists. However in his role of Guardianship he discovers things he had never realised, and begins to question his own knowledge of the world he lives in and the system by which his life and the lives of his entire country are run. He decides to try and find a pattern to the movements and attacks made by the insurgents, some stealing information before committing suicide while others are blowing up large areas of cities killing innocent people and children. However as he becomes more involved his own comrades and leaders appear more opposed to him, Kaspar feels he is in far too deep.
However, with the help of Mackensie, a young librarian full of sharp wit and bright ideas, he uncovers a series of data which suggests the movements of the insurgents may not be as simple and unorganised as they are made out to be. He is burning with questions, none of which are answered by the High Councillor and or his Guardian leader Voss. In fact the more he discovers, the more he is pushed away. Then he discovers something he wished he never had. The Guardians use stun-guns as the Alliance refuses to sink to the level of the Crusaders by means of slaughter; therefore the Insurgents are checked for injuries then sent to a holding station. Or so they had been told. Yet Kaspar finds thousands of these people, shot by him and the other guardians, who should have recovered unharmed, on life support and covered in scars in the supposedly abandoned North Wing at the Guardian’s hospital. The confusion increases after meeting Rhea, an insurgent who saves his life as after he meets her he begins to have vivid dreams and he fears he may be able to experience her thoughts and emotions. Kaspar struggles on his path to find the truth: is he on the side on noble conflict?
                Another gripping action packed thriller from one of my favourite authors, Noble Conflict uses an imaginary world to address issues which are very significant today and have been throughout history. The horror of the Totalarian State seems so distant to us, so impossible, but this book examines the idea of complete manipulation and control of an entire society. It also includes elements of romance, friendship and national belonging and examines the terrible realisation of the truth as the entire world falls to pieces. As a character Kaspar is likeable and obviously intelligent and therefore he displays how easily a society can be controlled if the influence is so great that no one dares to question what they have been told.
I would fully recommend this book!
8/10

New book Review! Time Travel book

Title: All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
ISBN: 9781408835197
Price: £6.99
                Have you ever considered what our world would be like with a time machine? Would we go back in time and solve all those wars, stop all those bombs and save millions of people? However time should not be manipulated or controlled, it is far too powerful as Marina and Finn find out when it leads to the destruction of their best friends James, a brilliant, once shy young boy who created a scientific miracle and a monster. This is Cassandra. Marina and Finn, trapped in cells and tortured for information struggle to remember the person their best friend used to be before he too became a tool for the power-hungry villains of the world; the machine which was supposed to be his legacy and the saviour of the world had been transformed into a weapon, a means of control of society through the past. The day Marina finds the note in her ell, the note from a previous version of herself she finally understands what she must do as she reads those terrible words “You have to kill him”. She and Finn must go back in time and commit the unthinkable in order to prevent the terrible events which follow on, because of James.
                This science-fiction thriller also contains themes of romance and heartbreak as Marina must make the ultimate decision- to kill the boy she loves in order to save the future. It’s also an interesting representation of the human mind and how time and events can change and distort it. The power of the time machine changes James into a monster he himself never could have imagined, but Marina herself changes. She s no longer the insecure girl, hopelessly in love with the boy next door, instead she is strong independent and determined to secure the future for the younger version of herself, so that she may never experience the horror that followed the creation of Cassandra. But her childhood love for James still remains at the back of her mind, despite everything and she wonders if she could ever succeed in killing him, even for Finn, who she fell in love with after all those years in prison plotting to destroy Cassandra. Her mind knows what must be done, but will her heart fail her?
                This is action packed, and has elements of both murder mystery and science fiction. The element of time travel is surprisingly easy to follow, although at times the presence of two sets of the same character, past version and future version is a little confusing. It’s still a great book however and the first person narrative, which switches between the young Marina and the older post-Cassandra Marina, is very effective.

I would give this book 7/10

 

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Cracks- New Book review!

Title: Cracks
Author: Caroline Green
ISBN: 978-1-84812-168-3
Price: £6.99
Cal lives a fairly normal if, unhappy teenage life. He lives with his mum and his unbearable new Stepfather Des and his son Ryan aka Pigface, goes to school with his best friend Amid and loves to impress the art teacher Miss Lovett with his paintings. This is his life, until the cracks start to appear. His world starts to change and transforms from ordinary into a nightmare as cracks appear on tables walls and the sky around him and he finds himself trapped in Riley Hall, the local young offender’s institution where he finds himself face to face with a boy who looks just like him. He knows he has been here before and that something terrible happened.
                This is when Cal wakes up in hospital in the year 2023 and is informed that an accident lead to another boys brain tissue being transferred to his brain in order to save his life and since then he has been in a coma. Trapped in a whirl of confusion, Cal no longer knows what to believe and doesn’t trust the doctors who say he has no family that they know of and keep him locked in his room under close surveillance.  He also refuses to believe that the life he has been living was someone else’s, a transmission of memory inside his head because he knows he himself has lived at Brinkley cross and is determined to find Amid and his mother, even Des in order to regain normality.
                He manages to escape from hospital, but soon discovers that the world in 2023 is very different. Constant suspicion of terrorist attacks has lead to heavy security everywhere and constant police interrogations as well as recurring ‘plaster bomb’ attacks. The regime is now in charge and they are determined that no one will trust anyone else in case they lose control. Cal meets Kyla and Jax who take him to a modern Fagin’s den full of runaway youths who steal for their keep. Among these new friend Cal finally begins to feel like he belongs again , however his hospital ant him back and he must run leaving his friends behind for their own safety. Can Cal ever find out who he really is and achieve a normal life, or will he be returned to the hospital and hooked up to a machine once again, forced to live the rest of his life through someone else’s memories.
                Incredibly exciting and action packed, Cracks is the new Hunger Games with a terrifying twist. Imagine waking up to discover your whole life is a lie? Everyone wonders at certain points whether our lives are computer games, controlled by greater powers and our world meaningless- this book takes it one step further by describing a boy whose entire life is lived through his mind and monitored by scientists. The world created in the future is a similar prediction to George Orwell’s 1984, and just as terrifying, yet with the hope of friendship love and family still remaining. Its an excellent novel whether you’re a sci-fan or not and will really get you thinking- beware; life can seem so normal, until the cracks start to appear.
7/10

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Winter Damage... New Review by Katy Handley



Title: Winter Damage
Author: Natasha Carthew
ISBN: 9781408835838 (hardback)
Price: £10.99
                 
The book follows Ennor a young girl living in a deteriorating society were money is worthless, shops are closing down and everyone has nothing. These things are nothing new to Ennor however, with her father dying of cancer and drug abuse after the loss of their farm although she is now only 14 she was forced to leave school years ago in order to take care of the few remaining animals, attempt to provide the family with food and pay the rent while taking care of her sickly father and her younger autistic brother Trip. Her mother left them years ago to follow a religious path, and as bills pile up and food runs out Ennor feels she might be their only chance of surviving the winter. Her worries increase as she receives a letter about Trip being taken to an ‘institution’ and she decides to set off in search of her mother leaving her best friend Butch to take care of her father and brother. However Butch, abused and beaten by his father and consequently ill himself finds it difficult to take care of Trip and further problems occur when Ennor is lost on the more and ends up at the house of a strange woman who attempts to take her belongings. However the woman appears to know where her mother is and gives Ennor directions. But can she be trusted, and even if found, will Ennor’s mother even acknowledge the daughter she lost so many years ago? With the bitter cold of winter settling and the desperation of a society with no possessions or food growing, the moor is not a safe place for a young girl alone. However she meets Sonny a young strong gypsy girl who can fight, hunt and shoot and soon her good humour and outgoing personality grows on Ennor.
                Ennor is a girl who almost feels she has lost everything at many points in the book, yet on this path she also finds friendship and rediscovers the childhood she missed out on. She learns the meaning of hope and love and discovers that what she had been searching for had been with her along her journey.  Society and mankind is falling to pieces, as desperation leads to theft, ignorance and neglect, but from the dust rises up a new generation of hope for something better; for children never forget the joy of laughter. An inspiring story that captures the freezing cold of winter in order to symbolise the coldness of humans in a times of crisis- when each person is only concerned for their own survival. However the warmth of love and friendship thaws broken dreams and hearts and leads these children to something better than the life they left behind.

7/10

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A Twist of Fortune Review


Title: A Twist of Fortune
Author: Barbara Mitchel Hill
ISBN: 978184939562
Price: £5.99
The award winning author of ‘Run Rabbit Run’ has produced a thrilling Victorian historical fiction novel. It follows the tale of Sam Pargeter who through a series of unfortunate circumstances ends up head of his family; his sister Eliza and little brother Alfie and responsible for finding them food and a home. This is no easy task for children in Victorian England however as everyone seems to be against them. However they decide to set off in search of their rich grandfather with their dog Patch and their favourite book Oliver Twist, hoping that he will help them.  It is a heart-warming story which does not conceal the injustice and brutality of the Victorian society towards children at the time. It also has some wonderful characters, including Charles Dickens himself and exciting villains. The children are forced to live in Devils Acre, an area of London crammed with criminals, misery and insufferable poverty, then are accused of murder and also end up trapped in a terrible school where the children sleep on stone floors and sweep chimneys. However there are also themes of family, bravery and strength in this book for children who had to grow up far too soon but are determined to find happiness and be reunited with their family. There is trouble at every corner for the Pargeter children and more importantly will their grandfather accept them, after disowning their father for marrying a poor woman? Will he even recognise them if they don’t have their father’s and Aunt Maud’s letters in mother’s silver box?
                The children’s adventure makes this novel a page-turner, but it also reveals a lot about living in Victorian England and their attitudes towards the poor as well as the effects of early industrialisation and the railways. It is also written convincingly in the style of a Victorian boy and we learn how Sam is forced to become the man of a family, even though starvation has given him the frame of a small boy, in order to save his younger siblings.  Yet the family always stick together, and with Sam’s careful planning and Eliza’s beautiful singing voice and Alfie’s innocent charm, perhaps the family might one day find happiness?
8/10