Archive for YA

Joshua Winning – Sentinel

joshuawinning-sentinel“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 »

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Simon Cheshire – Flesh and Blood [Blog Tour]

simoncheshire-fleshandbloodSam 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 »

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Sarah Pinborough – The Death House

sarahpinborough-thedeathhouseToby’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 »

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Sally Gardner – The Door That Led to Where

sallygardner-thedoorthatledtowhereWhen the present offers no hope for the future, the answers may lie in the past

AJ Flynn has just failed all but one of his GCSEs, and his future is looking far from rosy. So when he is offered a junior position at a London law firm he hopes his life is about to change — but he could never have imagined by how much.

Tidying up the archive one day, AJ finds an old key, mysteriously labelled with his name and date of birth – and he becomes determined to find the door that fits the key. And so begins an amazing journey to a very real and tangible past – 1830, to be precise – where the streets of modern Clerkenwell are replaced with cobbles and carts, and the law can be twisted to suit a villain’s means. Although life in 1830 is cheap, AJ and his friends quickly find that their own lives have much more value. They’ve gone from sad youth statistics to young men with purpose – and at the heart of everything lies a crime that only they can solve. But with enemies all around, can they unravel the mysteries of the past, before it unravels them?

A fast-paced mystery novel by one of the country’s finest writers, THE DOOR THAT LED TO WHERE will delight, surprise and mesmerise all those who read it.

Before The Door That Led to Where, the only book I’d read by Sally Gardner was The Double Shadow. I completely fell in love with that book, which not only offered an intriguing story and wonderful characters, but also had me put my English Lit degree to good use. Thus I was pleased to receive a review copy of The Door That Led To Where, not least because it was a fantasy book set in my favourite of all places, London and it had time-travelling to boot. The idea of a secret door to a different time or place is an old one, who hasn’t wished they had a magic wardrobe at least once as a child or to be able to cross to Platform 9 3/4? In Gardner’s capable hands this premise led to a wonderful story that is not just about solving a murder, but about friendship, love, and the ties that bind.  Continue reading »

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Red Eye Double Bill: Frozen Charlotte and Sleepless [Blog Tour]

redeyeThis month saw the launch of Red Eye, Stripes publishing’s new YA horror line. With Red Eye, Stripes is aiming to give horror a frighteningly contemporary makeover mixing pop culture, violence and technology and reaching a new generation of teen horror readers. The first two books in this line-up are Alex Bell’s Frozen Charlotte and Lou Morgan’s Sleepless. I was very excited for both of these stories, so I’m quite pleased that today as part of the inaugural Red Eye blog tour, I get to bring you a double-bill: reviews for both of these novels. Don’t forget to catch up with the blog tour tomorrow over at Studio ReadsContinue reading »

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Freeing Hostage: even series are hybrid these days

manijabrownsmith-strangerLast year I read and reviewed the wonderful Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith. Now this is a book with history. In September of 2011 Brown and Smith opened up about their experiences trying to get an agent to represent them to sell the book that became Stranger. One agent expressed interest in taking the book on, provided they would either turn their gay main character straight or lose his point of view and any reference to his sexual orientation. This sparked a lot of discussion and gave rise to #YesGayYA. Stranger was eventually picked up by Viking in 2012 and was finally released last November. After the groundswell of support in 2011, I would have expected far more of a splash on publication, yet when it finally arrived, it did so relatively silently.  Continue reading »

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Liz de Jager – Vowed

lizdejager-vowedA Blackhart can see the supernatural behind everyday crimes. But some crimes hide even greater evils…

Kit Blackhart must investigate why children are disappearing from a London estate. However, their parents, police and fae allies claim to know nothing. And as yet more children disappear, the pressure mounts. Luckily, or unluckily, government trainee Dante Alexander is helping Kit with the case. Yet just as her feelings towards him begin to thaw, his life falls apart. As Kit struggles to unravel his problems and dangerous secrets, she meets fae Prince Thorn in her dreams – but their relationship is utterly forbidden.

Then Kit digs too deep, and uncovers a mystery that’s been hidden for one thousand years. It’s a secret that could just tear down our world.

In a nice cyclical move, the penultimate book I review in 2014 is the sequel to the second book I reviewed this year. Full disclosure: Liz de Jager is a dear friend. This doesn’t mean I haven’t read this novel critically, because I have. Besides, she would kick my ass if she thought I’d cut her slack. But for the sake of transparency I thought it important to mention it upfront.

Vowed is the second book in De Jager’s Blackhart trilogy and returns us Kit a number of months after the ending of the last book. Having physically recovered from her ordeal at the end of Banished, Kit has not escaped unchanged, both magically and mentally. Her magic has bloomed and become for more powerful than it was before, while her heart remains somewhat the worse for wear after the events of the previous book and her separation from Thorn. Now located in London, the irrepressible Kit is working the family business and taking on assignments on her own. This brings us to the case at the heart of Vowed. Because this case she can’t work alone. Her employer demands she work together with Dante Alexander, a member of the Spook Squad. And Kit is not amused with this development.  Continue reading »

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Jennifer E. Smith – The Geography of You and Me

jenniferesmith-thegeographyofyouandmeOwen lives in the basement. Lucy lives on the 24th floor. But when the power goes out in the midst of a New York heatwave, they find themselves together for the first time: stuck in a lift between the 10th and 11th floors. As they await help, they start talking…

The brief time they spend together leaves a mark. And as their lives take them to Edinburgh and San Francisco, to Prague and to Portland they can’t shake the memory of the time they shared. Postcards cross the globe when they themselves can’t, as Owen and Lucy experience the joy – and pain – of first love.

And as they make their separate journeys in search of home, they discover that sometimes it is a person rather than a place that anchors you most in the world.

Having enjoyed Jennifer E. Smith’s previous books The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and This is What Happy Looks Like tremendously, when I got the chance to request The Geography of You and Me for review I jumped on it. And Smith’s third YA offering doesn’t disappoint. With an easy writing style and some quirky playing with chapter lengths, The Geography of You and Me offers a charming exploration of love at (almost) first sight, but also of two young people trying to find their feet in the world independent of their families.  Continue reading »

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Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios (eds) – Kaleidoscope

krasnosteinrios-kaleidoscopeWhat do a disabled superhero, a time-traveling Chinese-American figure skater, and a transgender animal shifter have in common? They’re all stars of Kaleidoscope stories!

Kaleidoscope collects fun, edgy, meditative, and hopeful YA science fiction and fantasy with diverse leads. These twenty original stories tell of scary futures, magical adventures, and the joys and heartbreaks of teenage life.

Featuring New York Times bestselling and award winning authors along with newer voices:

Garth Nix, Sofia Samatar, William Alexander, Karen Healey, E.C. Myers, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Ken Liu, Vylar Kaftan, Sean Williams, Amal El-Mohtar, Jim C. Hines, Faith Mudge, John Chu, Alena McNamara, Tim Susman, Gabriela Lee, Dirk Flinthart, Holly Kench, Sean Eads, and Shveta Thakrar.

One of the most buzzed about anthologies of 2014 was Twelfth Planet Press’ kickstarted title Kaleidoscope. Edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios, Kaleidoscope collects twenty YA stories around the theme of diversity. Diversity of gender, of sexuality, of origin, ability, and race; it’s all present in Kaleidoscope. The result is a wonderful book filled with wonderful stories, some of them funny, some scary, some heart-breaking, but all of them engaging and emotionally touching. None of the stories disappoint, there wasn’t a single dud for me, but the following five were my favourites.  Continue reading »

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Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2015: YA April-June

2015Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. YA books have become a steady 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, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. This is the second one. 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 »

By Published Posted in article, contemporary, crime, fantasy, historical fiction, mystery, science fiction, thriller, YA | 3 Comments
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