Monday, 27 January 2014

The Diamond Thief

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The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling
Published February 1 2013 Curious Fox
 
Firstly, lets take a moment to appreciate the stunning cover on this book. Ooooh shiny! It is gorgeous and shiny and appealing and shiny and ties in wonderfully with the novel.
 
Sixteen year old Remy Brunel or "The Little Bird", is a circus performer - a trapeze artist to be exact, and she is extremely good at it too, flinging herself into the air, balancing with ease and executing perfect landings.
 
But when Remy is not flying through the air with the greatest of ease, Remy is forced by Gustave, the evil owner of the circus, to be a jewel thief and steal The Ocean of Light diamond from the Tower of London.
 
Can she do it, and free herself from Gustave? With young detective Thaddeus Rec on the case and on Remy's tail, anything can happen!
 
I LOVED this book. Victorian setting, adventure and high-jinx, a hint of romance, a bit of Steampunk-iness and fabulous characters. I especially love the names the author has chosen - Remy, Thaddeus, Gustave - fitting and stretches the junior/teen fiction reader.
This is a real winner - read it!


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Secrets & Spies: Treason

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Secrets & Spies: Treason by Jo Macauley
Published June 6 2013 Curious Fox
 
Treason is the first book in this exciting historical adventure series for young people.
 
The first thing I noticed was the very thick, durable cover on the book...I know, I know, you can take the girl out of the library...but that is a very important sign of quality from Curious Fox. Now, back to the story...
 
The cover image is striking and made me want to read the book immediately. It pictures 14 year old Beth Johnson who is treading the boards of the King's Theatre, London. However, skills with a script and stage dagger are not the only talents in young Beth's repartee, for Beth is a spy, working for King Charles II's Spymaster Sir Alan Strange.
 
There is talk of a mysterious Dutch ship moored on the Thames, whispers of war and rumours of a plot on the King's life. As Beth and her friends search for answers, will the be able to put the clues together in time to save the King?
 
This was a fun, enjoyable, well-paced romp through 17th century London. Beth is likeable, confident and smart. There was a nice hint of romance between Beth and John and I loved the map included in the back of the book.
 
I hope to read more of this thrilling new series.

The Sacred River

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The Sacred River by Wendy Wallace
Published August 1 2013 Simon & Schuster
 
I was so excited to receive an ARC of The Sacred River. I adored The Painted Bridge and was keen to read more of Wendy's work.
 
The press release accompanying the book notes that it is "...akin to that of E.M. Forster..." which is completely accurate. I adore this wonderful novel and hope you will too.
 
Set in Victorian London, and later Egypt, it tells the tale of Harriet Heron. Sickly all her life (we later discover she has asthma), both she and her Mother are resigned to her premature death. With the aid of her doctor, Harriet is given her last wish - to see Egypt, a place and history that has fascinated her. It is hoped the air will improve her condition, and so, with the Mother and Aunt, she travels to Alexandria.
 
I cannot do justice to the evocative, stirring descriptions Wendy has created of Egypt. The light, the life there is so deliciously recreated on the page; it is mesmerising. Harriet herself is a wonderful character; so unsure yet determined. Her Mother, Louisa, holds a secret that would shatter the family if discovered and Aunt Yael is so keen to help, to find her purpose in life. I found Yael's story the saddest part of the novel.
 
The Painted Bridge is such a strong novel, due to the characters. The injustice suffered, the hopelessness - I really felt connected to the novel. In The Sacred River, I experienced that strong connection again only this time it was to the lyrical descriptive beauty of Egypt and her people. Author Wendy Wallace is superb.

Fall of Night

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Fall of Night by Rachel Caine
Published May 2 2013 Allison & Busby
 
Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers...
 
Here I am, glad to be back in Morganville (for the 14th time). The characters are like old cold friends and its great to be reading about Claire and the gang...and Myrnin of course!
 
Only when I started reading Fall of Night, Claire is actually leaving Morganville (with permission) to go to MIT. She's nervous, she's excited, she's about to get a huge wake-up call over trust.
 
Morganville is such a successful series of books some can seem a bit....same-y so Fall of Night is high on my list of favourites. Still plenty of twists - loved Lady Jane (ha!), Oliver and the dastardly professor but it was the ending that's the kicker - I cannot wait to read what led up to The Daylight Foundation's takeover!
 
Humans are in charge of Morganville and its gonna be wicked finding out how Amelie and Co take it back!!

Losing Lila

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Losing Lila by Sarah Alderson
Published August 2 2012 Simon & Schuster
 
"It's time to stop running and start fighting."
 
Losing Lila follows Hunting Lila which is BRILLIANT! I read it back in November 2011. If you haven't read it, stop reading this review of its sequel and go grab a copy! (then please come back!).
 
I slipped very easily back in with Lila, Jack and Alex despite the time lapse - a sure sign of great writing. Don't wish to spoil the series for you so I won't go in to too much detail, but I will say, Losing Lila is action-paced with plenty of sizzling romance and more twists than you can shake a stick at.
 
Lila and Alex are on the run from the Unit and desperately trying to save Jack and their Mother from the base. This novel is fast and full-on, one heck of a read, and I just love Mrs Johnson - hope she got to her Hilton!
 
I now proclaim that I LOVE Sarah Alderson's writing and can't wait to read what she brings us next!

Fated

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Fated by Sarah Alderson
Published January 5 2012 Simon & Schuster
 
"What happens if the person you love is the one who must betray you?"
 
Evie is in high school and works two jobs to save money for her escape from the small town she has grown up in.
 
Things have been pretty bad. Her adoptive dad died. Then her best friend died in a car accident while she was out with Edie's now ex-boyfriend Tom. Yes, Edie's life sucks - so when she's attacked round the back of the diner it kind of puts the tin hat on her life, and opens the door to a world she never knew existed. Evie is a Hunter - a warrior against Unhumans, and the last hope to stop demons ruling all seven dimensions.
 
Lucas is half demon, half human. He and the rest of the Brotherhood have been given a task - to kill Evie Hunter before a prophecy can be fulfilled, a prophecy ending the war that has raged for the last thousand years.
 
When Lucas enters Evie's life, posing as a ranch hand, sparks fly but with their destinies already decided, can they survive, let alone fall in love?
 
I really enjoyed this fantasy teen thriller. There was a great balance of action and character interaction. I couldn't warm to the rest of the Hunters - found them a bit too 'Stepford' but the Brotherhood are cool! Hope there will be more to come.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Pursuit of Love

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The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
Published July 1 2010 (originally in 1945) Penguin
 
This story follows the Radlett family - Lydia, her sisters and cousin Fanny through their holidays spent at Alconleigh. Days of hunting and huddling with the other Hons in the upstairs cupboard (conveniently the warmest place in the house) discussing love, marriage and sex.
 
We accompany these young women on their coming-out debuts and through marriages, divorces, abscondings and affairs. Happy and sad, shocking and scandalous.
 
Full of sharp observations and even sharper wit, The Pursuit of Love is the first novel I have read by Nancy Mitford and I am sure it shall not be the last.
 
 

Monday, 20 January 2014

Voices of Angels

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Voices of Angels by Hannah M. Davis
Published July 16 2012 John Hunt Publishing
 
Lizzie Fisher looks up in class and sees a black shape floating over her teacher's head. She thinks its her eyesight at first as no-one else sees it. She becomes an even bigger target for school bullies - until the teacher dies exactly seven days later.
 
When it happens again with her precious dog Joopy, Lizzie is inconsolable. Lizzie doesn't get on well with her Mum, she can't talk to her about all of this so she decides to visit her Grandmother (who she has never met) in AndalucĂ­a, Spain. Will Lizzie find the answers she craves among the olive groves?
 
I raced through this YA novel. The title through me as I thought it would be a guardian angel on earth novel - its not. Lizzie has the 'gift' of foreseeing death. She gets another 'gift' in AndalucĂ­a, Rafa is a hunky gardener/goatheard/guitarist. Lizzie and Rafa's romance is hot - the long looks, the tension...whew!
 
My favourite character was not Rafa, but Lizzie's Grandmother Ariadne - she's just brilliant! The total opposite of Lizzie's Mother.
 
All in all I'm glad I read Voices of Angels. The descriptions of Spain and of the Flamenco guitar were simply heavenly to read.

Penelope

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Penelope by Rebecca Harrington
Published January 1 2013 Virago
 
"To make friends at Harvard she just has to be herself. But not too much."
 
 
So this is what Harvard is like!
 
Penelope O'Shaughnessy is a Harvard Freshman. We follow her on her first year at an Ivy League college - through roommates and cat allergies, Hercule Poirot and guarding Caligula.
 
Penelope is both baffled and baffling. I like her! She's kooky, confident and completely clueless. Her roomies are entertaining - especially Lan, LOVE her! Harvard is a real coming-of-age education for poor Penelope.
 
I read this book in one sitting and upon finishing I immediately wanted to know if year two was any better for Penelope - what classes did she take? Did she ever see Raymond again? Did she find a kindred spirit? I do hope so.


Friday, 17 January 2014

The Peach Keeper

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The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
Published January 10 2012 Bantam
 
A small town in North Carolina
 
A body beneath a peach tree.
 
Family secrets and shocking discoveries.
 
Love, friendship and just a touch of magic.
 
All of this oozes from this enchanting novel.
 
It is the characters and character relationships that are so lovingly described - so warm and familiar - that really make this novel great.
 
This is the first book by Sarah Addison Allen that I have read and almost sobbed when I had to give it back to the library!
 
My favourite line? "We were as close as shirt buttons, Georgie and I."
 
 
 
 

Through the Ever Night

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Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
Published January 8 2013 Atom
 
 
This is the sequel to Under the Never Sky (which is an awesome read!) and it is BRILLIANT.
Although it has been a while since I read UtNS, I was quickly transported back with Perry and Aria.
 
Through the Ever Night has a wonderful pace and kept me engaged throughout. The cast of characters has been well retained - touching on each just enough. Aria and Perry are a powerful team together but they are even more fabulous apart and I found myself drawn to Roar and Cinder much more in this book.
 
I can't say too much more as I don't want to spoil it for you but  I am very much looking forward to reading what happens next - with the Aether so active, will the Tides ever make it to the Still Blue? *bites fingernails*

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

My Best Reads of 2013

 


Happy New Year!
 
Wishing you all health, wealth and happiness in 2014 - and some brilliant books!!
 
 
This post is to highlight my 20 best reads of 2013. So here they are in no particular order:
 
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Dancing to the Flute by Manisha Jolie Amin
Alma Books
 
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Lost & Found by Tom Winter
Corsair
 
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Geek Girl by Holly Smale
HarperCollins Children's Books
 
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Winter Wonderland by Belinda Jones
Hodder
 
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The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry
Maclehose Press
 
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Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Two Roads Books
 
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The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson
Headline
 
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Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
Simon & Schuster
 
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Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Random House
 
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The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
Bantam
 
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The Sacred River by Wendy Wallace
Simon & Schuster
 
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Longbourn by Jo Baker
Doubleday
 
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A Higher Call by Adam Makos
Berkley
 
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The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling
Curious Fox
 
 
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Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Doubleday
 
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A Heart Bent Out of Shape by Emylia Hall
Headline
 
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Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
Bantam
 
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Wars of the Roses: Stormbird by Conn Iggulden
Michael Joseph
 
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Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope
Harper
 
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Lettice & Victoria by Susanna Johnston
Arcadia Books