When Daniel Routh, together with friends Jill and Greg, and little brother Mikey, discover a body washed up on the beach after a storm, it’s one of the most exciting things ever to happen on the island of Shorepoint. And, as the man in question slowly recovers, he befriends the inhabitants of this small fishing community one by one. Only Daniel suspects something might be wrong with the newcomer, who cannot remember who he is, nor how he came to be there. To start with, this John Dee (as they label him, short for Doe) brings prosperity and happiness with him, but it isn’t long before the tide begins to turn. Then John begins to worm his way into Daniel’s own family, trying to take the place of his late father, and the teenager knows something must be done. Little does Daniel realise that he’s now involved in one of the most ancient conflicts of all time; one that might decide the fate not only of Shorepoint, but of the entire world.
This is going to be a shorter than usual review for me since the book is a short one and there are a number of things that I can’t discuss without giving spoilers for the book’s big reveal. P.B. Kane, a pen name for Paul Kane, moves into the YA market for the first time with The Rainbow Man. And it’s an interesting story to make an entrance there, as it’s a slow-building story as mentioned in the introduction by Rachel Caine, in a way I haven’t seen it done very often in YA fiction. Continue reading
By 13 February, 2014
Posted in horror, mystery, review, YA
Only very special people are chosen by children’s author Laura White to join ‘The Society’, an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back.
Now a tenth member has been selected: Ella, literature teacher and possessor of beautifully curving lips.
But soon Ella discovers that the Society is not what it seems. What is its mysterious ritual, ‘The Game’? What explains the strange disappearance that occurs at Laura’s winter party, in a whirlwind of snow? Why are the words inside books starting to rearrange themselves? Was there once another tenth member, before her?
Slowly, disturbing secrets that had been buried come to light…
In this chilling, darkly funny novel, the uncanny brushes up against the everyday in the most beguiling and unexpected of ways.
The Rabbit Back Literature Society is something special. Originally published in 2006 it was translated from the Finnish by Lola M. Rogers. It’s hard to judge how successful the translation is as I’m unfamiliar with both Finnish and Finnish literature and I don’t know whether the translation has kept the rhythm and the beats of its original language. Unfamiliarity with the original language also makes it hard to judge some of the linguistic quirks of the novel as it’s unclear whether things that bugged me were due to authorial choice or whether this is just a normal Finnish practice. One of the things that I really had to get used to was the fact that our protagonist, Ella is often referred to by not just her first and last name, but even by her full name, Ella Amanda Milana. This just felt strange to me and shook me out of the narrative a number of times at first. Continue reading
By 10 February, 2014
Posted in fantasy, mystery, review
1553: Harsh winter falls across the realm. Mary Tudor has become queen and her enemies are imprisoned in the Tower, but rumours of a plot to depose her swirl around the one person many consider to be England’s heir and only hope – her half-sister, Princess Elizabeth.
Brendan Prescott’s foe and mentor, the spymaster Cecil, brings news that sends Brendan back to London on a dangerous mission. Intent upon trying to save Elizabeth, he soon finds himself working as a double-agent for Mary herself.
Plunged into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a shadowy opponent who hides a terrifying secret, Brendan races against time to retrieve a cache of the princess’s private letters, even as he begins to realize that in this dark world of betrayal and deceit – where power is supreme and sister can turn against sister – nobody can be trusted.
I first encountered Christopher Gortner’s writing last year when I reviewed The Queen’s Vow, about Queen Isabella of Castile. I loved the book and I was intrigued with this next book, written under a slightly different name – his biographical fiction is published as CW Gortner – and with a different approach to historical fiction. I have a weak spot for historical crime fiction and this historical mystery is close enough kin to that as makes no difference. Not having read the first book in the series, an oversight I’ll have to rectify in the future, I was worried that I might have missed too much back story, but luckily this book stands alone pretty well and the important bits get re-introduced quite organically in the narrative. Continue reading
By 21 January, 2014
Posted in historical fiction, mystery, review
Adeliza Golding is a deafblind girl, born in late Victorian England on her father’s hop farm. Unable to interact with her loving family, she exists in a world of darkness and confusion; her only communication is with the ghosts she speaks to in her head, whom she has christened the Visitors. One day she runs out into the fields and a young hop-picker, Lottie, grabs her hand and starts drawing shapes in it. Finally Liza can communicate.
Her friendship with her teacher and with Lottie’s beloved brother Caleb leads her from the hop gardens and oyster beds of Kent to the dusty veldt of South Africa and the Boer War, and ultimately to the truth about the Visitors.
One of my biggest fears is losing my sight. The thought of losing my vision and the ability to read and to watch my girls freaks me out even to contemplate. So when I read the above cover copy for Rebecca Mascull’s debut novel The Visitors, I was immediately captured by the visual of this little girl completely cut off from sight and sound and I wondered how Mascull would portray her and let her tell her story, as from glancing at the first few pages I’d seen the book was told in Liza’s first-person perspective. The answer to that question is beautifully. I found Liza’s story haunting and evocative and if it hadn’t been for the pesky need for sleep and the fact that I have two toddlers running around, I would have finished this book in one sitting. Continue reading
We’re almost there! Welcome to the penultimate post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. Today I’m sharing the second half of my picks for books published for the YA crowd. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading
Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. YA books have become a big part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, YA too has been spread over two posts. This is the first half. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading
Sam Thornton has had many run-ins with his celestial masters, but he’s always been sure of his own actions.
However, when he’s tasked with dispatching the mythical Brethren – a group of former Collectors who have cast off their ties to Hell – is he still working on the side of right?
Since the publication of Chris F. Holm’s first Collector novel, Dead Harvest, I’ve been a fan of the series. I absolutely adored books one and two and book three lived up to my expectations and more and had me once again guffawing out loud at Sam’s dry wit. For those familiar with Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, the title gives some clue of what to expect from the novel as it’s a word play off of Chandler’s book, but there are some twists Chandler himself wouldn’t have thought of. Like the previous book, The Big Reap retains the gritty, noir flavour in its story-telling, but in some places it’s actually a little darker in tone than anything that went before. Continue reading
By 20 November, 2013
Posted in crime, fantasy, mystery, review, thriller
Patrick Cusimano is in a bad way. His father is in jail; he works the midnight shift at a grubby convenience store; and his brother’s girlfriend, Caro, has taken their friendship to an uncomfortable new level. On top of all that, he can’t quite shake the attentions of Layla Elshere, a goth teenager who befriends Patrick for reasons he doesn’t understand, and doesn’t fully trust. The temptations these two women offer are pushing Patrick to his breaking point.
Meanwhile, Layla’s little sister, Verna, is suffering through her first year of high school. She’s become a prime target for her cruel classmates, not just because of her strange name and her fundamentalist parents: Layla’s bad-girl rep proves to be too a huge shadow for Verna, so she falls in with her sister’s circle of outcasts and misfits whose world is far darker than she ever imagined.
I’m finding Save Yourself a hard book to review, because I can’t seem to make my mind up about it. On the one hand I really liked it and found it compelling, especially towards the ending, but on the other hand I found the book slow going and at times a bit of a depressing slog. And every time I sit down to write my review I tend to oscillate between these two extremes. One thing is sure, either way Braffet certainly succeeded in getting a reaction out of me, which surely is part of what a book should do. So what did I like about it and what made it such a dark story? Continue reading
By 27 August, 2013
Posted in mystery, review, thriller
First love. Last lie.
When Adamma Okomma has to leave her glossy high school in New York for a dusty English boarding school, she thinks it’s the end of the world – or the end of her social life, at least.
Then she meets the wicked-witted Scarlett Chiltern, who shows her all of Crofton College’s darkest corners, and Adamma realises there’s much more to her new school than tartan skirts and hockey sticks.
She and Scarlett become inseparable, but when they fall for the same guy, the battle lines are firmly drawn.
Adamma gets the guy but loses her best friend. Then, when Scarlett runs away, Adamma finds herself caught up in something far more sinister than a messy love triangle. Adamma always knew that Scarlett had her secrets, but some secrets are too big to keep and this one will change all of their lives forever.
My top debut last year was Byrne’s first novel, Heart-Shaped Bruise. I’d actually planned to read it after the holidays, but Wiebe read it and adored it and kept nagging me to read it so we could discuss the book. And wow… I loved it. So I was inordinately excited to receive an ARC for Byrne’s second book, Follow Me Down. And then I got Book Fear… Anyone who has ever discovered an author that just completely swept them away and is an automatic read from that point forward, has likely encountered this phenomenon. Book fear is what happens when after loving the first book you read by an author, you actually have doubts about reading the second, because what if it isn’t as fantastic as the first one? What if they don’t live up to the promise that first book made? What if the author is a one-hit-wonder? Book fear set in hard with Follow Me Down and didn’t just strike me, it struck Wiebe as well, and so I hiked up my skirts, took a deep breath and took the plunge. And then I didn’t come back up for air until I’d followed the book down all the way to the end. I followed it to the realisation that my fears had been silly and that Byrne truly was the awesome writer Heart-Shaped Bruise promised she was. Because Follow Me Down? Awesome! It was just as dark, tricky and compellingly clever as its predecessor. Continue reading
By 19 July, 2013
Posted in mystery, review, thriller, YA
Welcome to the penultimate post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2013. Today I’m sharing the second half of my picks for books published for the YA crowd. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading