28 May 2012


Author: Brodi Ashton
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Simon and Schuster
UK Release date: January 2012
Genre: YA

Having returned from a Feed in the Everneath, Nikki comes back emotionally drained and having skipped six months of her life. Friends and family think she ran away or even resorted to drugs after a tough family year, and Nikki has to pull together what is left of her life. But Nikki wasn't meant to return and her time at home is limited, as Everliving Cole likes to keep reminding her. Nikki must say goodbye to everyone or fight to stay out of the Underworld and its dreaded tunnels.

Review: Based on the Persephone myth Everneath entwines a captivating concept with plenty of mystery and clues to decode. Although its based around the myth where Persephone is abducted by Hades, god-king of the underworld, you don't need to know much about it to get the story, so I didn't feel swamped or lost - I became totally enthralled by Nikki's own personal story.

Having survived the feed when others usually succumb, Nikki was an interesting character and very different to most heroines. At the start of the story she is returning from the Underworld. She has a very limited external emotional range and barely talks to anyone. She is mentally and emotional drained. But her narrative is full of insight into her character and how she is coping with her return to life. Throughout the story she grew on me more and more and became a character I could really admire and like. The fact that she didn't want to become an Everliving by stealing other people's emotions (when a lot of people would probably jump at the chance) made her stronger in my eyes.

Cole was the mysterious bad boy musician - smouldering, dark and seemingly irresistible. But for me, Jack's understanding and caring nature won me over. Sure I want the dark outer-coating of Cole but when it comes down to it, supportive and reliable Jack beat Cole's manipulation, deceit and threats. I did really like the way two the love interests are so contrasted against each other, and this way you get the best of both! But let it be known, I am a Jack girl!

As the story counted down the number of days she had left before the tunnels came for her, the plot felt like a ticking time bomb and the build up of suspense was enchanting and compelling. The further towards the end of the book I got, the more gripped I was. I can promise you this - the ending will not let you down.

Everneath is a stunning debut and the start of a series that I definitely want to continue reading.

Rating: 5*

21 May 2012


Author: Garth Nix
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Harper Collins
UK Release date: May 2012
Genre: Sci-fi
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

You’d think being a privileged Prince in a vast intergalactic Empire would be about as good as it gets. But it isn’t as great as it sounds. For one thing, Princes are always in danger. Their greatest threat? Other Princes. Khemri discovers that the moment he is proclaimed a Prince.
He also discovers mysteries within the hidden workings of the Empire. Dispatched on a secret mission, Khemri comes across the ruins of a space battle. In the midst of it all he meets a young woman named Raine, who will challenge his view of the Empire, of Princes, and of himself. (Goodreads)

I absolutely LOVED this book. Yes, I loved Garth Nix's Sabriel series, but I did have reservations about his transition from fantasy into science fiction. And despite the fact that it was more sci-fi than I expected, I didn't want to put it down. I wanted the book to continue on and never end. And admittedly I actually cried at the end I enjoyed it so much.

Prince Khemri is an unlikely hero. He is arrogant, selfish and conceited. Having being created and designed to be a Prince of the Empire, he knows nothing other than his place in society. In fact he isn't happy with simply being a prince, he wants to be Emperor. But his training has omitted key information about the reality of being a prince: other princes want him dead and if he wants to become Emperor he must battle against 999 other princes. His transformational character development and admittance of how naive and arrogant he actually is, endeared him to me. As he realises the truth of how the empire actually works, his vanity mellows and I found he grew on me until I became really fond of and attached to him.

Although we knew so little about Haddad, Khemri's Master of Assassins, he came across as a father figure.  He was all knowing, but as his position dictated he never overtly gave advice or likewise any real show of emotion or affection. Whilst some might see him as cold, calculating and emotionless, I also really liked him too, and liked his subtle way of helping and guiding Khemri.

The Empire built by Nix was so detailed, complex and yet naturally believable. The fact that it would take days, or even months to travel from one solar system to another, made it more realistic for me. I was a little thrown by the mind communications at first, :My name is Haddad <<identifier>>., but soon got used to them and found them a really interesting way for characters to communicate when they needed a private way to talk or learn of things from the Imperial Mind.

A Confusion of Princes is a sci-fi delight! Highly recommended!

Rating: 5*

19 May 2012


A few bookish news pieces...all about witches in London...there must be something in the air!

Here is the fiery new book trailer for Burn Mark by Laura Powell.
Check back in June for the Burn Mark blog tour :)

Find out more about Laura on:


An Exclusive Reading from Ben Aaronovitch!
Saturday 23 June 2012 16:00 - 17:00
Forbidden Planet, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London,WC2H 8JR

Ben will be giving a preview reading from the 3rd book in the Peter Grant series, Whispers Underground. He will also be signing copies which will be available to buy on the day.

If you haven't started reading this series you should! You can find my review of the first in the series, Rivers of London, here.

17 May 2012


Author: Dan Wells
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Harper Collins
UK Release date: February 2012
Genre: Sci-fi, dystopian
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

In a dystopian future society, partials turned on humans, unleashing a dangerous virus that wiped out most of the human population and rendering survivors’ new born children unable to live past a few days. In the eleven years since the initial attack, the Senate have been trying to find a cure to the virus with no luck. Working in midwifery, Kira has seen a number of babies die from the mysterious virus, but when she learns that her sister is pregnant she can no longer sit back and let the virus continue to kill the young and any chance their race has for survival. As she sets off on a dangerous mission to find a partial and discover what the virus is doing, she will unearth secrets that change her understanding of the world around her.

I really enjoyed Partials, particularly how well the dystopian society was mixed in with scifi elements. The future world Dan Wells built is very convincing and well written, and the conflict between the senate, the rebel voice, the manipulated and subjugated population as well as the mysterious and dangerous partials is compelling. I loved the descriptions of how New York had become a wilderness, abandoned and over grown with nature and wild animals that escaped from the zoo eleven years before.

The plot itself was gripping with jaw dropping surprises, explosive action, and plenty of twists. I didn’t want to put it down and can’t wait to see what happens next in the series. You could say that the plot stuffed in too much action and change in such a short time that is was a little unbelievable, but I thought this was balanced by the fact that characters helping push all this action forward do die – they don’t all happen to survive every fight and hostile encounter which would have made the story less believable for me. Combining this with some characters ‘sacrificing’ themselves for others and the greater good made the story more gripping and emotionally turbulent.

I was so intrigued by partials. What exactly are they? Are they part human or just robot clones? The fact that no one has ever seen a partial despite the fact that they are supposedly hunting humans down and trying to wipe them out completely formed lots of questions in my mind. So when Kira sets out to catch one, I felt both the excitement and fear of the unknown. The partial she captures, Samm, really captivated my attention. He was quiet, protective, and yet held an appealing charm. The fact that any relationship or romance was forbidden between him and Kira made their connection all the more exciting.

The main protagonist is sixteen year old Kira was very driven by what is right for humanity, making her very passionate, determined and strong. When she learns that her ‘sister’ is pregnant she is pushed to act because she doesn’t want to watch another child die and doesn’t want to see her sister go through childbirth only to be rewarded with the pain and suffering of her child dying. Throughout the story she remained strong even when she was beaten down, and for me she was a positive female role model able to sympathise with Samm and not torture him like everyone else but tough enough to fight for what she believes in. I also really liked the secondary characters, who each had conflicting believe systems and opinions on the senate despite the fact that they were all working together.

Dan Well’s gripping and action packed sci-fi dystopian Partials is a post-apocalyptic delight - I highly recommend reading!

Rating: 5*

15 May 2012


Author: Phoebe Kitanidis
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Balzer & Bray
UK Release date: April 2012
Genre: YA
Won via NetGalley

Elyse and Marshall wake up one morning in Summer Falls without any recollection of who or where they are. They must learn to trust each other to find out what happened to them. But as they discover a number of mysterious goings-on in Summer Falls, their situation worsens. What seems like the perfect town is riddled with bouts of amnesia, disappearances and malevolent ghosts. Can they trust each other enough to save the town and themselves?

Glimmer has a very interesting start to the story as Elyse and Marshall wake up  next to each other absolutely stark naked, but without a single memory or who they are or how they got there. The premise of having to re-figure out who you are as a person is very intriguing, and as they try and discover what's going on and get their memories back, they also discover that Summer Falls is very creepy and far too perfect to be true. I enjoyed watching them as they gathered clues about what kind of person they were and trying to reconcile that with how they actually felt. The creepy and sinister elements of Summer Falls, including the mysterious heatnaps and 'forgetful' residents built very well, and I really enjoyed the first half of the book. But despite this very compelling start, I did become slightly confused and caught up in the whirlwind of magic spells, memory loss, disappearing people, unusual glacier climate, spirits, ghosts and so on.

I did feel a little affronted at Elyse's outrage at finding out she was short. ""I'm short." I am, in fact, a shrimp. What a complete and total disappointment." OK so my indignation is only because I myself am short. But she made a huge fuss over this, and to what end? She was also highly offended at being curvy with boobs, a cheerleader, having a boyfriend of two years that she'd slept with and so on. She made assumptions about past herself based on the smallest of superficial clues rather than her actual actions, making her think she must be slutty and childish.

There were a number of serious undertones to the story, with issues of child abuse and domestic violence. When Elyse discovers bruises over her shoulders and no memory of how she got them, it was very disturbing and unsettling. Her determination to stop it from happening again and to try to remember was a positive redeeming feature to her character.

Glimmer is a fast paced, mind bending and creepy thriller that will have you reeling.

Rating: 3.5*

9 May 2012


Author: Lissa Price
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Random House
Release date: March 2012
Genre: Dystopian
Read via NetGalley

In a future when only the young and the old survived the spore war, enders will do anything to maintain their youth. Even if it means renting out a 'starter's' body. Living hand to mouth and looking after her brother has been tough on Callie. So the idea of a huge payout from Prime Destinations to rent her body seems too good to be true. But when her mind returns to her body early, she uncovers a dangerous plot that will leave her regretting her decision and cut off from everyone she knows.

Price's idea that young people or 'starters' can rent out their body to old people looking to regain their lost youth is fascinating and really different. Whilst a starters' consciousness sleeps soundly, their body is inhabited by the mind of an ender, giving them impressive and youthful looks, agility and talents. When our society becomes bored with cosmetic surgery and body modification, what will we develop to relive our youth? I certainly hope it isn't Prime Destinations' body transfers.

Despite every instinct screaming no, Callie puts herself forward for Prime Destinations' secretive and highly paid body transfer experiment. Having to look after her ill younger brother, constantly running from the marshals, and having to survive on crusts and scraps of food, Callie feels like she has no other choice in order to look after her brother and protect his childhood and health. She's had to take on a parental role, for which I really admired her. With both her parents gone, she has a tough job surviving and keeping her brother safe. I would have liked to have seen more between Callie and Michael, as there was so much potential and hidden feelings.

Starters is definitely very plot driven. The story twists and turns and Callie is pretty much always on the run or in trouble. The only downside is that the characters suffered a little, with key details and development lacking. However I thought the ending to the story was really strong. You're left wondering who the Old Man is, and I really wanted to figure out the odd little clues and learn who was behind the mask. His character was truly mysterious, malevolent and intriguing.

Despite all the positives and the fact that I did enjoy this book, there was something missing for me. Although I can't pinpoint exactly why or what, it just didn't hit my reading sweet spot and sadly it won't make my list of top books released this year. Having said this, if you like dystopian with a hint of sci-fi, then give this a read.

Rating: 4*

7 May 2012


Director: John Lyde
Release date: 2012
Genre: Zombie
UK premiere viewed at Sci-Fi-London 11.

The story follows Dusty, a yoga instructor from Colorado, who is on a desperate rescue mission to save her crazy brother Derek, a conspiracy theorist who is convinced Osama bin Laden is still alive, despite having (reportedly) been buried at sea. In Afghanistan, Dusty falls in with a team of NATO Special Forces on a secret assignment. It turns out Derek is not so crazy after all, and Osama has returned from his watery grave to gather together an army of zombie jihadists. When the NATO group crashes headlong into the growing zombie apocalypse, Dusty and the troops must find and destroy the root of the zombie insurgency before it infests the rest of the world.

With plenty of action, Osombie pulls apart historic events and gives it a humorous zombie twist. As the title would have you believe, Osama Bin Laden is the key focus of the film. However this isn't the case. Yes, the film revolves around the conspiracy theory that he wasn't actually killed, and it takes this idea one step further and adds in the zombie element. But the story actually follows a small group of NATO troops on a secret mission. I would have liked to have seen more of the terrorist leader turned zombie, but I have to admit I did like following the story of the different characters within the troop. Each had their own distinct character and personality, and several characters had a nickname to describe their key traits such as 'Tomboy' or 'Joker'. Although the film tried to make a fairly serious point there was plenty of humour, with one male character always ending up topless shooting zombies, and another screaming profanities at his ex-wife whilst blowing up zombies with a heavy machine gun.

There were a few inconsistencies and cheesy scenes…cue the upset 'tomboy' practising martial arts against a setting sun. But there were also some serious moments as different characters were bitten and likewise bit the dust. Even military training and ammunition provisions couldn't stop flesh-eating zombies and when soldiers died, I felt the emotion of the rest of the troop which was testament to the casting and writing.

Conspiracy theories, gun-toting, and a stunning desert backdrop combined well in Osombie to give a zombie enemy worth fighting against.

Rating: 4*

6 May 2012


Author: Kai Meyer
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Templar
UK Release date: February 2012
Genre: Paranormal
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

To New Yorker Rosa Alcantara, the exotic world of Sicily, with its network of Mafia families and its reputation for murder and intrigue, is just that—exotic, and wholly unknown. But when tragedy strikes, she must travel there, to her family’s ancestral home, where her sister and aunt have built their lives and where centuries of family secrets await her. Once there, Rosa wastes no time falling head over heels for Alessandro Carnevare, the son of a Sicilian Mafia family, whose handsome looks and savage grace both intrigue and unsettle her. But their families are sworn enemies, and her aunt and sister believe Alessandro is only using Rosa to infiltrate the Alcantara clan. And when Rosa encounters a tiger one night—a tiger with very familiar eyes—she can no longer deny that neither the Carnevares nor the Alcantaras are what they seem. (Goodreads)

Arcadia Awakens wasn’t what I expected. It was quite a mature urban fantasy with violence and blood and mafia gang crime. It was refreshing to read a story that felt more adult and had a 'rough around the edge' feel to it, with a ballsy protagonist and unpatronising writing. In addition, the mysterious Sicilian Mafia world was very unique, with a rugged, exotic and rather scary feel. It felt like there was danger waiting around every corner, with car chases, kidnappings, double dealings and shootouts. With their dangerous rivalry and forbidden love, the Carnevares and the Alcantaras families living on the were like the modern day Montagues and Capulets and fitted perfectly into the mafia scene.

Arcadia Awakens features shape shifting abilities passed down through families and has its roots in Greek mythology. Rather than werewolves, Meyer has picked unusual animals – snakes and big cats. I’m intrigued as to where the idea for these in particular came from. Was it mythological research or a creative decision? Either way, it brought an exotic and distinct feel to the story, as well as an element of mystery surrounding the history of the two families.

Rosa was a very gutsy protagonist, willing to face danger and threat head on. Her traumatic past has left its emotional scar on her, but she hasn’t refused to give up. She's stubborn, and doesn't listen when she's told to stay away from Alessandro. However her harsh exterior and outspoken attitude does open up to at times to let us see her caring and sensitive side. When it comes to young Iole, Rosa will do anything to save her. But when it comes to Alessandro, Rosa has a big blind spot. She risked truces, safety and sensiblity to see him. Whilst he would do anything to protect Rosa, there were doubts about whether he could ever put her first before his family and the family 'business'. I was glad that Rosa didn't just drop at his feet but still kept her head when she needed to.

Although the story wasn't my favourite so far this year, I certainly think it deserves more attention than it has had. Arcadia Awakens combines the dangerous Cosa Nostra with shapeshifting, love, and betrayal, all of which is set against a rugged Sicilian landscape to create a modern day Romeo & Juliet.

Rating: 3.5*

5 May 2012


Author: Veronica Roth
Series: Yes, #2
UK Publisher: Harper Collins
UK Release date: 1st May 2012
Genre: YA Dystopian
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

*Whilst there are no spoilers of Insurgent, they may be spoilers for Divergent.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so. (From Goodreads)

Often when there is a lot of hype around a book, it can lead to disappointment, especially if the previous book in the series won such acclaim and has set a high standard for the rest of the series. But Insurgent did anything but disappoint me. It was thrilling, heart-pounding, surprising and utterly compelling.

Tris and Four dauntlessly risk life and limb on several occasions to fight against Erudite and their desire for control. There’s plenty of suspense, fighting, torture, and once again Veronica Roth isn't afraid to kill off some key players. The plot is chock full of twists, but what Roth is also exceedingly good at is building in emotion and character development.

As Tris tries to cope with the guilt of what happened in Divergent, she is often on the brink of a destructive breakdown or self-sacrifice. She is on an emotional and grief-ridden roller coaster, which makes her far more human and understandable than someone like Peter. She is strength and vulnerability and flaws and selflessness. And I love her! However Tris's behaviour puts a huge strain on her relationship with Four which is tested to the limits as they cross between loving and trusting, to unsure and troubled. It adds so much more interest and realism than if everything had been hunky-dory.

As Tris and Four try to find allies and safe houses to stay in, they visit all of the different factions. It was really interesting to get an insight into how each of the factions functions, what their headquarters are like, how they live and respond to ‘a state of war’. What I love about the Divergent series is its twist on society and the way people identify themselves through their factions, each of which is very distinct. Each with their strengths, but each with very different goals and believes in morals. And what makes Tris so interesting is that she isn't just one faction; she is many.

Roth is a gutsy writing, able to pack a punch with articulate and eloquent language, and is set to take her place at the top of the charts again this year.

Rating: 5*

Don't forget to check out Jayde's review over @ Ink Scratchers.