Evermore by Alyson Noel

evermore

evermore

Ever Bloom hides herself behind baggy jeans and a hoodie. She lives with her aunt after her family is killed in a car accident. Her life has changed forever and not just in her family. She hears people’s thoughts, can read their auras and knows their life history just by touching them. So she uses earphones to drown their thoughts and hides behind her hoodie to avoid looking at them, let alone touching them!

Until she meets Damen Auguste. New to school, he is gorgeous and wealthy, almost a law unto himself  and of course he has to be the one person she knows that she can’t hear. He also runs hot and cold, one moment she is his girlfriend, the next he is hanging out with her arch enemy, Stacia (perky viscous cheerleader). Then there is the stunning Drina, the statuesque beauty Ever sees Damen with, and who seems to feel Damen belongs to her..

No angels, no vampires, just immortals this time. Immortals with a touch of magic.

I enjoyed this book to a point, but found some of the explanation confusing. I mostly sympathised with Ever, however Damen tended to be a bit too much of a mystery. Still, well worth a read, especially if you want a change from vampires!

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Fallen

Fallen

I think I have mentioned in an earlier post about reading in several blogs that ‘Fallen Angels’ would be the new vampires. Fallen was even advertised in the cinemas when I went to see The Twilight Saga : New Moon. Couldn’t wait and managed to snag a copy the day it hit the shelves!

Luce knows that she is not quite right. She sees shadows that no one else sees. These same shadows don’t just haunt her, they actively try to harm her. She has few friends. Her family are petrified of her and strange things tend to happen wherever she goes.

After a boy is burnt to death, the court and her family send her to Sword & Cross School, a last chance boarding school for misfits, miscreants and weirdos. Even here Luce finds trouble. One look is all she needs. She sees Daniel for the first time and feels an instant connection. He gives her the bird. The relationship goes down hill from there. Luce does manage to make friends. Arriane, a is certifiably insane and tends to run hot and cold. Penn (Pennyweather Van Syckle-Lockwood) who can find her way into anyone’s files is honestly friendly and then there is Cam. Cam is a repeat offender who has returned to the school who takes an intense interest in Luce and actively courts her from the first, unlike Daniel. Daniel is just as intensely drawn to her, but fights the attraction with only the occasional moment of kindness…

What does all this have to do with Fallen Angels? Everything is not as it seems. Half the pupils in the school are fallen angels, including Cam and Daniel, who are locked in an ongoing battle for supremacy. Somehow, Luce is at the centre of the battle and has been, repeatedly for centuries. Usually Luce and Daniel manage a single kiss before she dies and he, being immortal must go on without her. This time, something is different. She sees the shadows. She is different. Can their love survive? Where does Cam fit into her ongoing story?

As far as fallen angels go, this book is very enjoyable. I loved Luce’s character. Even though she can be a bit pathetic and often does incredibly stupid things, she is basically empathetic. Daniel is harder to like, especially since he spends most of his time brooding or giving Luce the brush off, having stopped to talk to her in the first place. I’ll be interested to see how the series unfolds…

Halt’s Peril by John Flanagan

Halt's Peril

Halt's Peril

Ranger’s Apprentice is one of the few series I have followed from the beginning, buying and reading every book. This is a series I obviously enjoy, and having listened to John Flanagan speak about his experiences, I often recommend this to young boys. I’m not so sure that I will continue to buy each book, although I’m sure I’ll keep track of the series, as I love the characters and the world John has created.

In this installment of Will, Horace and Halt’s adventures, Halt has become almost obsessed with capturing Tennyson, the evil false prophet of the Outsider cult. The rangers and Horace chase Tennyson and a hand full of his faithful henchmen out of Clonmel, eventually back to Araluen. There are adventures on the high seas, horseback pursuit though forests and mountains, sword fights, archery and general mayhem. Eventually Halt is injured and only after a few days do Will and Horace realise that he has been poisoned and is close to death. Here Will’s unusual skills and determination stand him in good stead as he races across the country in a desperate bid to find Malcolm, a talented healer and friend.

Of course things don’t go smoothly, and I won’t tell you too much more, for fear of giving too much away. Halt’s peril is a good read, however I feel that Will and his friends have lost their edge somehow. Will has already proved himself, yet he continually relies heavily on Halt and strives to prove himself again and again…

I have to say, I’m also a bit peeved that they have changed the cover art… now my set doesn’t match!

There are some really cool websites associated with the Ranger’s Apprentice books:

http://www.rangersapprentice.com.au/home.aspx

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Great and Terribel Beauty

A Great and Terribel Beauty

I had been eying this book off for ages, and finally found the time to read it a few months ago – I know – I’m slack for not writing it up earlier, but what can I say!!!

Beside the fact the author shares my surname (no relation that I know of) I am a sucker for magic and mayhem, especially with a touch of the Gothic. Perhaps because I had been anticipating it so much, I found myself getting frustrated with the characters. At some points, all I wanted to do was slap the characters up the side of the head and tell them to wake up!!!

Gemma Doyle is as good as orphaned. Her mother dies under mysterious circumstances in India. Her father is almost comatose with grief and drugs. Her Grandmother and brother are less than sympathetic and pack her off to boarding school with strict instructions to behave in a ladylike manner. The school is dismal and, if possible, even less sympathetic than her family. Just about every character in the book has a secret to hide and an agenda of their own.

Gemma herself runs hot and cold. On one hand she sticks up for her room mate who is less than beautiful and therefore much put upon by the ‘in’ crowd led by Felicity. In the next breath she falls in with Felicity and follows her faithfully into many misadventures and eventually disaster.

Through it all runs a thread of mystery and past magic as Gemma suffers from sudden visions and follows her strange insights to explore the history of the burnt out shell of the school’s East Wing through her discovery of the diary of young Mary Dowd. Ancient magic is invoked. Old secrets are uncovered and secret cults exposed… all in the pursuit of happiness through beauty – which in the late 1800s, when the book is set, was all a young lady could aspire to.

I enjoyed the book to a point, but doubt that I will read any of the sequels.

The Black Book of Secrets by F.E. Higgins

The Black Book of Secrets

The Black Book of Secrets

Ludlow Fitch is a strange character. He comes from the poorest of the poor. his mother and father even tried to sell his teeth for money to buy grog. His escape from Barton Gumbroot, the notorious tooth surgeon, and his parents to land in the small mountain locked village of Pagus Parvus is exciting and fast paced. His dealings with Joe Zabbidou are less action packed but no less strange. As Joe’s name suggests, he is not your run of the mill travelling pawn broker. He buys everything people bring to him; chamberpots, wooden legs, a moth eaten, slightly moldy stuffed cat… it is what goes on behind the pawn shop’s closed doors after dark that changes everything, the villagers’ attitudes to Joe and Ludlow, the lives of the villagers themselves and eventually the balance of power within the village.

Even then, the ending of the story is an eye opener and not at all what I expected. Really enjoyed this book and would recommend it.

Ancient Appetites by Oisin McGann

Ancient Appetites

Ancient Appetites

An interesting idea, creatures who are part machine, part wild animal.

Nate Wildenstern does not quite belong in his family. He does not want to learn the family business and is not too enarmoured of the family tradition of inheriting through assassination, murder and mayhem. The Wildensterns hold an elevated position in Irish society, being the richest, most tyrannical and self absorbed of the ruling class. They spare little or no thought for the poor, often destroying the lives and livelihoods of their underlings. Nate is too soft hearted by his father’s standards, and an inconvenient stumbling block to his family when his older brother dies suddenly, leaving Nate as the heir to the family empire.

Nate also has a talent for and interest in engimals, a strange wild mix of animal and machine which all to often get caught up in the games and machinations of humans.

I enjoyed this book, but can’t say that I loved it. I found Nate’s ‘woe is me’ attitude wearing after a while. I know he is yet young, but he could have pulled himself together and actually paid attention to what was going on around him. For someone who initially seems quite intelligent, he seems patently blind to more than half of what is happening. Easy to say from the comfort of my armchair of course! The engimals are brilliant but could have been more central to the story, rather than just pets or tools. Perhaps their story will be further explored in the sequel.

I found it interesting that several stores seemed quite confused about which section to shelf the book in – Young Adult, or Children’s. I can understand the confusion, but would probably go more with Children’s as the political and social issues involved in the story are only briefly dealt with and not explored.

On the whole, enjoyable.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield

Leviathan

Leviathan

What a visually gorgeous book! Even the cover is luscious!

I have to admit that I was dubious about the book, given the hype, however once started, I fell into the book with a vengeance!

The story is told by two young protagonists from very different backgrounds. Alek is the only son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. When the Archduke is murdered by Serbian rebels, Alek must run from the Germans, the Austrians and basically everything he has ever known as war breaks out across Europe. He must survive if he is to fulfill his father’s dream and claim the throne for himself. Dylan Sharp, whose real name is Deryn, is a young girl from Glasgow who is pretending to be a boy so she can join the Royal Navy as a midshipman, and follow her dream to take to the skies.

The two characters don’t meet until half way through the story, but as their backgrounds and beliefs are so different, the time taken to examine their back story is just as important as the battles and interaction once they do meet.

Alek comes from a ‘Clanker’ background – where they revere machines above all things, while Deryn comes from a ‘Darwinist’ country, where fabricated animals are used over machines at every turn. Two very different ideologies, often at odds with each other. Alek often refers to the fabricated animals he encounters as ‘Godless’, while Deryn cannot understand why anyone would prefer the noisy, dirty, smelly machines over the beauty and warmth of her animals, especially the leviathan, a methane breather fabricated from a whale.

War is responsible for Alek and Deryn meeting, and war is also responsible for the unusual solution they propose to the problem of a wounded and engine less Leviathan, attacking Germans, a curious diplomat and a determined female boffin.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and know many of my young students will love it as well!

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Imagine waking one day and remembering almost nothing about your life. How do you move forward from there? Or do you try to recapture the past? Do you reinvent or rediscover yourself?

Jenna has these problems when she wakes from a coma. Who is she? How did she get here? Jenna eventually comes to understand that her problems include another question – What is she?

Set in a future where scientific and medical advances have endangered the environment and life as we know it, Jenna must struggle with the discovery that she is not who or what she has been led to believe. How much is ‘human’? What about her soul?

At first I was a bit taken aback with Jenna. The writing seems to be disjointed, not quite nonsensical, but not necessarily logical either. But as the story progresses and Jenna finds more words to describe her conundrums, I was hooked! How far would you go to save your child? How far is too far?

Gripping reading with a fine cast of characters and some fairly involved ethical thinking! Loved it!!!

Happy New Year

I have fallen a bit by the wayside over  the last month or so… I have a very good excuse!!!

Been sick and then went into hospital to have my sinuses drilled… anesthetics will do that to you! Haven’t really been thinking straight for the last little bit, but have a pile of books I’ve read, waiting to be added to the blog!

I’m going to start trying to work my way through the pile – I wonder if i can catch up with myself?!