‘People like to think fish don’t have feelings – it’s easier that way – but as I watch the last guppy squirm in his bag, his eyes seem to plead with me. I get the sense that it knows just as well as I do that bad things are on the horizon.’
Mika Arlington has her perfect summer all planned out, but the arrival of both her estranged grandmother and too-cool Dylan are going to make some very big waves in her life.
Told with Natalie Whipple’s signature whip-smart wit and warmth, this is a story about prejudice, growing up and the true meaning of sticking by your family.
Natalie Whipple’s Fish Out of Water rather caught me by surprise. I’d been interested in the book based on the publisher’s marketing copy, so I requested a review copy and I’d expected to be at least entertained by the book. What I hadn’t expected, was that the book drew me in to the extent that I actually stayed up until half three to finish it. (Thank you Wiebe for pulling morning duty and let me catch up on sleep the next day—well, later that day.) Mika’s summer was completely engrossing and I just had to know how it would end. Continue reading
By 15 April, 2015
Posted in contemporary, review, YA
What’s wild in the northwoods turns out to be mostly human, when seventeen-year-old Francie is drawn into the strange mysteries threatening her great aunts’ Minnesota Up North world.
On the shores of Enchantment Lake in the woods of northern Minnesota, something ominous is afoot, and as seventeen-year-old Francie begins to investigate, the mysteries multiply: a poisoned hot dish, a puzzling confession, eerie noises in the bog, and a legendary treasure said to be under enchantment—or is that under Enchantment, as in under the lake?
Margi Preus’ latest novel Enchantment Lake is a departure from her previously published books as it is a YA mystery novel and not historical fiction. I’d read and loved her Shadow on the Mountain, a WWII novel set in Norway, so I was interested to see her take on the mystery narrative. And I wasn’t disappointed; Enchantment Lake is a fun, adventurous romp of a story, which very much evoked the atmosphere of classic YA detective novels such as The Famous Five and Nancy Drew, but updated to our own time. Continue reading
By 4 April, 2015
Posted in crime, mystery, review, YA
This is not a drill. This is not an April Fool’s joke, this is a full-out cover reveal for Bryony Pearce’s new novel Phoenix Rising. Having loved Bryony’s last book, The Weight of Souls, I was really looking forward to seeing what she wrote next so I was rather excited to receive an advanced review copy for the book along with my official #BansheeCrew tag bracelet. What is this #BansheeCrew thing about you ask? Have a blurb and see what you think.
By 1 April, 2015
Posted in article, fantasy, YA
A group of story-tellers are disappearing one by one.
A young woman is haunted by her past.
A serial killer has one target he is desperate to hunt down.
Veerle is trying to lie low, to live as ‘normal’ a life as she possibly can. But when you’ve thwarted a serial killer, it’s hard to do this. Especially when he wants revenge . . .
Urban Legends is the final instalment in Helen Grant’s Forbidden Spaces trilogy. When I started reading the series I was wondering how her writing would translate to a longer series instead of the standalone stories she’d written so far. It worked quite well, with separate mysteries in each book, but a central story arc that is wrapped up in Urban Legends. Due to the nature of the series and this being the final book, spoilers for the previous books are unavoidable, so you have been warned. Continue reading
By 30 March, 2015
Posted in crime, review, thriller, YA
Helen Grant is one of my favourite YA writers. Her work is a mixture of crime, thriller, and supernatural elements coming together in a blend that is uniquely her own. She combines this with interesting settings—small towns in Germany for her first three books and a number of Flemish cities in her trilogy Forbidden Spaces. The trilogy ends with her latest book Urban Legends, for which I’ll post a review tomorrow. To celebrate the publication of Urban Legends, today Helen drops by the blog to talk about the hint of the supernatural that pervades her work and what draws her to write it.
*** Continue reading
By 29 March, 2015
Posted in crime, guest post, mystery, thriller, YA
“What is a Sentinel? A guard. A detective. A killer…”
They are the world’s best-kept secret – an underground society whose eternal cause is to protect the world against the dark creatures and evil forces that inhabit the night.
Now Sentinels are being targeted, murdered and turned as the fury of an ancient evil is unleashed once more. And when 15-year-old Nicholas Hallow’s parents are killed in a train crash, the teenager is drawn into a desperate struggle against malevolent powers.
Sentinel is the first book in Joshua Winning’s YA fantasy trilogy and it was the cover combined with the blurb that persuaded me to accept this one for review. I’m glad I did as I really enjoyed Sentinel, reading it in two sittings. Nicholas makes for a sympathetic character and his story, while certainly filled with familiar tropes – orphan boy, check; grand destiny, check; magical companions, check – is enjoyable and interesting. The book isn’t flawless, but the good definitely outweighed the flaws. Continue reading
By 16 March, 2015
Posted in fantasy, review, YA
Sam Hunter’s neighbours are pillars of the community, the most influential people in town. But they’re liars too.
The Greenhills are hiding something and Sam’s determined to find out what it is. As his investigation unfolds, he realizes the lies reach further than he ever imagined – is there anyone he can trust?
Uncovering the horror is one thing …escaping is another.
After very much enjoying the first two instalments of Stripes’ Red Eye series, I was really looking forward to reading the third one, Simon Cheshire’s Flesh and Blood. It was a fun story, well fun in a gory, scary kind of way, but one I enjoyed a lot. Set in what seems to be a small, typical suburban community under the smoke of London, Flesh and Blood tells the tale of seventeen-year-old Sam, who discovers that instead of moving to suburban paradise, his family has moved straight into the cul-de-sac from hell. Continue reading
By 14 March, 2015
Posted in horror, review, YA
Toby’s life was perfectly normal… until it was unravelled by something as simple as a blood test.
Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House: an out-of-time existence far from the modern world, where he, and the others who live there, are studied by Matron and her team of nurses. They’re looking for any sign of sickness. Any sign of their wards changing. Any sign that it’s time to take them to the sanatorium.
No one returns from the sanatorium.
Withdrawn from his house-mates and living in his memories of the past, Toby spends his days fighting his fear. But then a new arrival in the house shatters the fragile peace, and everything changes.
Because everybody dies. It’s how you choose to live that counts.
Sarah Pinborough is not only one of the more prolific British SFF writers, she’s also a very varied writer who switches between sub-genres with remarkable ease. Fantasy, racy fairytale retellings, science fiction, YA, she writes it all. When I heard about The Death House I was immediately intrigued. A dystopian YA story set at a boarding school from which no student ever graduates, it sounded but creepy and fascinating. Because why are they there and what is this disease that condemns them to be inmates of The Death House? Pinborough gives us some of the answers, but mostly she delivers an exquisite exploration of life and love in the face of death. Continue reading
By 9 March, 2015
Posted in review, science fiction, YA