Category: Fiction


I was drawn to this new young adult novel for several reasons:

To begin with, the cover caught my eye.  It’s true that you should never judge a book by it’s cover, however a well-constructed and designed book cover will always lead browsers to pick it up and at least read the back.  A good start in getting read!

Secondly, I was intrigued by the concept for the story – that the characters of three of the best known romantic poets of the early 19th century should be transposed into contemporary high school students.

Also, Ty Roth was a new name to me (turns out So Shelly is his debut novel) and it’s good to read authors who are either new to you or new to being published.

I enjoyed this novel very much, though initially I was skeptical about whether I would stick with it when I thought the whole novel was going to consist of teenage angst about death and dying.  However, Roth neither sensationalises nor dwells on this topic even though it is one of the main components of the story.  John Keats is our narrator who intersperses the tale of his friend Shelly, whose funeral is the opening scene for the book, with the task given to him and Byron by their deceased friend.  Keats and Byron have been charged with the task of appropriating Shelly’s ashes and scattering them at the scene of her death – and so this relatively unlikely premise begins.

There were sections of this novel that, while entertaining seemed superfluous to the main story, until I read the afterword in which Roth explains how he cleverly weaved real-life events into the plot and setting for each character.

Overall, a very polished debut.  I will look out for further novels by Ty Roth. Give So Shelly a read and see if you find it as satisfying as I did.

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Wow! The Passage is an EPIC page-turner from beginning to end! Named on the top 10 best post-apocalyptic novels list by Time Magazine, this page-turner is an absolutely riveting read, which manages to put a totally new spin on vampire lore.

My favourite novel from Stephen King is The Stand. (also on Time’s list)  This epic struggle between good and evil impacted me strongly when I first read this book some (gulp!) 30 years ago and The Passage has all of the elements that I loved about the The Stand. This isn’t however, a carbon copy of King.  It is fresh and original with a strong emphasis on the characters to tell the story.

If you want to read an excerpt from The Passage you can do that here. I’m thrilled to discover that this is the first in a trilogy planned by Cronin.  He is already working on The Twelve and I’ll be interested to see what  Fox 2000 does with the movie, apparently due for release in 2013.  You can hear and interview with Cronin here.

I loved this book!  It has pace, it keeps you guessing right up until the last page and you feel completely satisfied at the end.  Thoroughly recommended – a must-read.

I am a big Jennifer Donnelly fan, especially her young adult novel A Gathering Light and so I was very keen to read her latest offering, Revolution which lived up to expectations.

This novel is set in two time periods.  It begins in contemporary New York following Andi’s story as she deals with the tragic death of her younger brother.  Wracked with guilt in her percieved part in her brother’s death and struggling to see the point in going on with her life, Andi finds herself reluctantly in Paris with her father.  Enter the second component to this story.  Andi becomes involved in her father’s purpose for being in Paris, which is to discover scientifically whether the small human heart contained in the glass urn is in fact that of Louis Charles, son and heir to French King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette.

As Andi sets out to discover the truth about Louis Charles she is somehow transported back to the time of the French Revolution and becomes Alexandrine, a girl of her age, desperately trying to save Louis Charles from his fate.

Donnelly, through her scene-setting and character-developing skills, will draw you Revolution and won’t release you until the very last page.  Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this book, and as with all good historical stories, it made me want to set about doing some of my own research into the facts behind the story.  You can go to Jennifer Donnelly’s website to read her inspiration for writing this novel http://www.jenniferdonnelly.com/rev_inspiration.html. Fascinating stuff, and highly recommended.

I am totally in love with this new series by Alan Bradley! The Flavia de Luce Mysteries should be everyone’s top reads or next book to read list.

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is the first in the series, which is very reminiscent of an Agatha Christie Miss Marple mystery.  Set in 1950 in a small quintessential English village, Flavia, our almost 11 year old heroine and budding chemist complete with her own lab, lives in a large, ramshackle mansion with her reclusive, philatelist father, two older sisters (who she routinely plots to poison as retribution for continually tormenting her) and her father’s batman from the war who now acts as the family butler/gardener/gofer and Flavia’s confidant.

Bradley draws a wonderfully recognisable cast of characters that make up the villagers and inevitable policemen who in equal parts help and hinder Flavia’s crime solving prowess.  Flavia is the first truly original character I’ve discovered in a long time.  You will fall in love her and want to join her on her journey to solve the murder.

And once you have reluctantly reached the last page, you will want to immediately reach for the next books in the series, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag and A Red Herring without Mustard. Me, I’m impatiently awaiting the release of Flavia #4 I am Half-Sick of Shadows.

New Zealand-based author Michael Green has hit a winner here with the first book in a trilogy about a family whose descendants are the only people to survive a fatal flu virus that sweeps the world.  In Bloodline the Chatfield family appear to be the only people in the entire world to have avoided the 100% fatal pandemic that surges around the world before any cure can be found.  However, this does not become the utopia you might think.  More in line with the old adage “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your relations”. I’m betting if you were in certain branches of the Chatfield family, you would be more comfortable with the friends option.

Green has developed a fast-paced, well-written tale with enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages and by the end, wanting the next in the series.

 

I was really taken with David Nicholl’s screenplay, adapted from his novel Starter for Ten and have also enjoyed his work on the scripts for the movie And When did you Last See Your Father as well as the Shakespeare Retold: Much Ado about Nothing so I was intrigued enough to give his novel One Day a try.

This has also now been adapted to the big screen, which I will no doubt have to see.  The premise of One Day is following the development of a friendship between two people, Emma and Dexter,  with a snapshot of them both on the same day over the course of 20 years, beginning as they both graduate from university in Scotland in 1988.

I developed a love-hate relationship with this book.  On one hand I was really taken with it and the quirkyness of the plot, but on the other hand I was frustrated by “will they, won’t they” turmoil.  However, that said, this has more to do with me and my expectations than it does with David Nicholls’ well-written novel.  If you like character-driven stories with believeable actions and reactions then I would confidently recommend it to you. I am about to head to my local public library to get a copy of Starter for Ten. 

For more on  David Nicholls take a look at his website http://www.davidnichollswriter.com/home.

I particularly like Emma Morley’s mix tape!

 

Imagine the Gulf Coast of America, somewhere in the near future, where the ravages of hurricanes, the like of which we’ve never experienced is now the norm. Oil is so scarce there is no longer a need for oil tankers and they are now just left abandoned at the mercy of the scavenger crews that inhabit the area.

Now imagine a crew of children, small enough to fit through the service ducts in these hulking ships, who are sent into the bowels to strip the copper wire, which can then be sold for top dollar on the black market, and who are then discarded when they become too big to do the dark, dirty and dangerous work.

In Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi provides just such a setting for his first foray into young adult literature.  This, however is not just a novel for young people.  It is well written, attested to by being a US National Book Award finalist and the winner of the Michael L. Printz award and is a complex tale of the haves and the have-nots and what people will do to get what they want.

Through the main character of Nailer, a teenage boy with no mother and a violently addicted father, his interactions with others, his quest to better himself and the choices he makes along the way speaks about the human condition and what we would be capable of, if pushed.

Read it.  You won’t regret it.

And then if you want to know more about this talented author, you might like to read an interview with him in YALSA – The Hub, your connection to teen reads from March of this year. http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2011/03/25/author-interview-paolo-bacigalupi/

Will Lavender is a real find.  In his debut novel Obedience, Lavender has managed to nail that most difficult of genres, the psychological thriller.  It is a particularly well crafted, intriguing tale and you are quickly drawn into the challenge set of the main characters – to solve the hypothetical disappearance of a young woman as their fall assignment in their university course Logic and Reasoning 204.  As the clues are dangled and it becomes obvious that things – and people – aren’t what they seem, three of the students stumble upon a real-life, unsolved disappearance which has strikingly similar facts to the so-called scenario they have been set by their professor.

Just when you think you know what’s happening, Lavender tilts everything on it’s axis and you have to go back to your mental drawing board.  This fast-paced thriller is a stunning read and would easily lend itself to being adapted into a fine movie script.  I could almost visualise it as I read it.  On finishing this novel, I immediately searched for his next and fortunately I wasn’t disappointed.  His second offering was published last month and the synopsis for Dominance holds much promise.  I already have a reserve on the ordered copy at my local public library and I am anticipating the email to tell me it’s ready to collect.  Can’t wait!  In the meantime, get your hands on a copy of Obedience.  You won’t be sorry.

Want to know more? http://willlavender.com/books.php