Friday, April 28, 2017

Defy The Stars By Claudia Gray

This book came in the post one day last week and as I already had three other books on the go I had no intention of starting straight away but I opened it, read the first line and I was instantly hooked. The first line lets you know immediately that you are in the company of a master storyteller. 

'In three weeks, Noemi Vidal will die - here, in this very place.'

Obviously I wanted to know more and so I read on and on and finished the book later that day. However I didn't gobble it all in one sitting every so often I stopped just to savour the cleverness of the plot and the characters; oh my the characters. This book is a masterclass in creating wonderful, compelling, complex characters. 
Noemi is a soldier from the planet Genesis; settled many years before by colonists from Earth. Now however Earth and Genesis are at war. Earth seeks to exploit the resources of the other planets just as it destroyed it's own. Genesis has become a haven for people of faith and technology is limited while the people of Earth have pushed technology to it's very limits creating the ultimate robot warriors. When Noemi ends up on an abandoned spaceship she comes face to face with one of these mechs and although their initial response is to try and kill each other they somehow end up helping each other out. Soon they are facing a race against time to travel across the galaxy and try and save Noemi's home planet. On the way they make a variety of friends and enemies and as they learn more about the world they live in and each other they start to question everything they've been taught. 
Blending high stakes adventure with science fiction, romance and a thrilling plot this is a book that deserves to be huge. Fantastic storytelling. Wow. Claudia Gray just wow. Perfect for fans of  Star Wars, V. E. Schwab, Becky Chambers and Sarah J. Maas. Published by Hot Key and available on e-book and in paperback. The kindle edition is currently only 98p. Thanks a million to Tina at Hot Key who sent me a copy. Buy this book now you will not be disappointed. 

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

The Pearl Thief is Elizabeth Wein’s fourth book for young adults. While previous books have featured daring female pilots and WW2 heroines the heroine of The Pearl Thief is Julie; a 1930s Scottish aristocrat back from finishing school to help her mother close up her grandfather’s estate for the last time. Grieving for her grandfather and for the summers she used to have Julie meets a family of Scottish Travellers including brother and sister Ellen and Euan whose way of life is also being closed off and who meet disdain, prejudice and opposition at every turn. On top of this Julie and her new friends have mysteries to solve; what happened to visiting academic Dr Housman who has disappeared? Who knocked Julie unconscious? And what has happened to the pearls in her grandfather’s collection. It’s not all about the mystery though as there is also romance, humour and a lovely portrait of a way of life slowly coming to an end as the countryside changes and the threat of war looms. The struggles with class, poverty and a changing way of life are all deftly handled. Elizabeth Wein is a powerful and consummate storyteller. Beautifully crafted and unputdownable The Pearl Thief is a wonderful mystery, filled with nostalgia and a real homage to the author’s adopted home of Scotland, to the Scottish countryside and to a fading way of life. With echoes of I Capture the Castle and Agatha Christie this will be a real hit with slightly older fans of Robin Stevens, and Enid Blyton.

This book will be published on May 4th 2017.

With thanks to LoveReading and Bloomsbury for a copy. 

Street Song Blog Tour

Sheena Wilkinson's latest novel for young adults is the story of former TV star Ryan. Ryan is not quite 18 but he feels he's already failed, having  had a short lived career as a singer following his appearance on a TV talent show. His fame as RyLee has turned him into an addict. The press have had a field day with his bad boy antics and Ryan has had enough of the manufactured and inauthentic sound that defined him. Following a stint in rehab Ryan is desperate to stay clean but his stepdad also wants him to return to school and the arguments become heated. A chance meeting with a girl called Toni also a musician leads to Ryan taking a trip to Belfast and he persuades himself that he's not running away he's starting over. But starting over with a new name and no money is going to be very tough. This is a fantastically written book; sharply plotted, full of interesting characters and plenty of twists and turns. It was a real pleasure to follow Ryan's journey to reinvent himself from the arrogant and pampered pleasure seeker to someone who starts to take responsibility for himself and others. The details and dialogues of teens lives in contemporary Dublin and Belfast are so spot on. There is real insight in this book about many issues that young people may face; exam pressure, drugs and alcohol, relationships, money and homelessness. The dark issues are dealt with carefully; with honesty but never loosing the air of hope and Sheena's insight is impeccable. If you are a fan of contemporary YA authors like Claire Hennessey, Sarah Crossan, E. R. Murray or Patrice Lawrence then this book is for you.

Today is the final day of The Street Song blog tour. Check out all the other stops listed on the banner for more reviews of Street Song. Thanks a million to Lina at Ink Road for the chance to review the book and take part in the blog tour.

To learn more about Sheena herself you can catch up with her on twitter @sheenawriter
Street Song is published by Ink Road the new YA imprint of Black & White Publishing in Edinburgh.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Books to Watch out for in 2017 Part Two

There are always many more books that I want to read than I can afford or even have time to read. So here's another post about the books that are just out or coming soon and why you will want them too.

Just Published

The international bestselling author of The Historian returns with an intriguing new book published by Text Publishing in April. A young American woman Alexandra Boyd arrives in Sofia and has a mix up with a bag after helping an elderly couple to find a taxi, so she finds herself trying to track down the Lasarov family and thus begins an epic tale of Bulgaria; it's people, it's history, it's tragedy. Also what a stunning cover. 

This is a dark YA fantasy ideal for fans of Leigh Bradugo and Sarah J Maas. Tea comes from a family of witches but her abilities are different; so when she accidently raises her brother from the dead she is rejected by her own community. She is taken in by an older, wiser bone witch who trains her in elemental magic but dark forces are rising. Released in March by Sourcebooks in hardback this debut has had rave reviews.

Antonia Senior returns to the mid Seventeenth Century for her third novel which features Patience Johnson who believes she has a great destiny to fulfill. Her brother Will meanwhile has been appointed as lawyer to Oliver Cromwell. The Tyrant's Shadow blends romance, drama and political intrigue in an exciting and dangerous era. Published in April by Corvus.

Daniela Sacerdoti's new series sees her move to a new publisher; Headline, and it features another beautiful and atmospheric Scottish location. The first book in The Seal Island series is winning rave reviews and throngs of readers and I hope will bring this brilliant author to a wider audience. Out now in hardback with a paperback due in September.

Tanya Landman travels back to Roman Britain for her latest YA novel about runaway slave girl Cassia who does the unthinkable; crosses Hadrian's Wall to seek freedom. If you are a fan of Manda Scott's Boudica series or N. M. Browne's YA fiction then this is essential reading. Published in April by Walker Books.

Having enjoyed their previous adventures I am keen to discover what Frey and McGray get up to next. This latest instalment of the Edinburgh set detective series sees guest appearances by Ellen Terry and Henry Irving as a new production of the Scottish play comes to town.  Published in April by Penguin.

Set in 1361 as a new wave of plague visits England, this is dark, mysterious, historical fantasy. Perfect for me then. The paperback was just published in April by Headline.  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis is a powerful debut from a talented new writer. A blend of dystopia, western, mystery and a coming of age saga. Set in a post apocalyptic Canadian wilderness, this is the story of Elka an intriguing character with a powerful voice and a dark story to tell. Lost in the woods at the age of seven after losing her grandmother to a powerful storm she is found and taken in by a man she calls Trapper and occasionally Daddy. Over the next ten years she survives in the wild with this man; learning to shoot, hunt and kill. Finally she visits a nearby town and sees Trapper’s face on a wanted poster and realises that she has been raised by a murderer. Setting off through the wilderness and through the seasons Elka explores the new realities of North America in the shadow of a nuclear war. Life is held cheaply and people are desperate for food, money and gold.  Elka finds deception, betrayal, friendship and family and comes face to face not only with the darkness of the man she now knows as Kreager Hallet but with the darkness inside herself. A powerful coming of age tale with a number of strong and interesting female characters at its heart, this book has echoes of The Road and Station Eleven but while it deals with dark and often bleak events The Wolf Road has a powerful friendship at its core, giving it a greater sense of hope.
Thanks to Borough Press and LoveReading for a review copy.
Out now in paperback.