Monday, 23 April 2012

Into The Mist: Silver Hand by Steve Finegan (a review) and general thoughts on YA books

I'm starting off this post with a review of a quite excellent Young Adult novel -
Into The Mist: Silver Hand by Steve Finegan

A rivetting read that bodes well for the series.
Gage, a young boy with a form of epilepsy, moves to a new town with his family where he meets his new neighbour Ellie, who seems to be guided by the spirit of the Brynmoor Witch, a woman who lived in the area in years past.
The Brynmoor Witch had a cottage in the woods, an area local townspeople generally won't go near (the exceptions being Ellie and local bully boy/ badboy Alex). Ellie seems to recognise that Gage is different and when she takes him up to the woods an epileptic episode seems to take him to another place.
Throughout the rest of the story we are transported between the two worlds, both perilous in their own way.
In this world Gage has to cope with his medical condition, his family and starting a new school, complete with bullies. In the other world, Elfryth, Gage takes on the persona of Mabon Silverhand, a character from Welsh Myth, who is all that stands in the way of Arawn and his allies taking over the land. In Elfryth we meet several characters from the myths (Merlyn, King Bran etc)and also Corvus, the crowman who Gage has been drawing as a comic book in his sketchpad.
The stories of Gage and Mabon are both intertwined and both told well. You get a slightly different style and tone of storytelling for each character which I found to be very effective. The story builds to a climax that ends with a cliffhanger that left me stunned and aching to get my hands on the next book in the series.
A really, really good book - just don't let the YA tag put you off - I'm 45 and I loved this book.


Over the past year or so I have read several Young Adult books and as a general rule they have been of a very good standard. I guess this is because books for young people aren't as deep and heavy going as some books aimed at the older reader. With younger people I guess you have to hit the ground running and keep going till you pass the finishing line on the last page.
Well, you know what? Sometimes I just want to jump into the story and enjoy it without having to remember dynastys, timelines, characters who haven't been in the story for the last 5 books etc.
Don't get me wrong, I like the heavygoing stuff as well but sometimes.................

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is give YA authors a chance - you just might find you've been missing out on something.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards (Review)

First things first, this review is from an uncorrected proof copy - the book will be available to buy in the shops on August 16th.
 The year is 2788 and thanks to the use of portals mankind has now moved out to the stars.
 Unfortunately, due to a problem with the immune system, a small percentage of humans are only able to survive on Earth. Portalling off planet would mean death unless they can be sent straight back to Earth and hospitalised. These people, know as "handicapped or apes" (amongst other things) are seen as an underclass.
 Our heroine in this book, Jarra, is one of these "apes" but she is determined to prove she is eqqual to, if not better than, the off-worlders (or "exo"s). To this end, she enrolls on a Pre-History Foundation Course with University Asgard which is based at dig sites around Planet Earth. By not having to leave Earth for the course Jarra believes she can hide her handicap and pass off as normal to her classmates.
 Jarra invents a backstory for herself as Jarra Military Kid (JMK) but is often nearly caught out, until she gets some shock news and actually starts to believe her JMK persona and life is real.
This is a really well thought out story, with believable science that doesn't require you to have a phd in astrophysics. The idea of the old cities of Earth being abandoned as people headed for the stars makes sense. We only get to see the New York site but that is so well described and atmospheric that, especially when the team move from the fringe site to New York Main, the city/ ruins almost becomes a character itself.
 Each off system has its' own character traits which makes for an interesting student group and maybe Jarra is not the only one with a secret!
This book will appeal to people who like things like the Hunger Games series but also to a wider audience and, in my opinion, it has massive potential for being made into a movie (I really want to see New York Main and the solar storm on the big screen).
 Another, final, plus for me - the book ties up neatly at the end. There may be more from Jarra, Earth Girl, but if there isn't, there are no real loose threads left dangling.
A 5* book from a promising new author

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Never say never

Over the last few weeks I have been asked to read and review (or consider reviewing) a heck of a lot of books but an e-mail on Sunday night really caught my eye.
The main question was "do you review children's picture books?". Now, I am 45 years old and haven't read a children's picture book for many, many years but it was free to download so I thought "what's to lose?" and downloaded it - and do you know what, I'm really glad I did.
Here's my review

Dog Wants To Be Famous by C M Dixon

I read this book this morning after a night shift and must say it really hit the spot for me. I get the idea that of the two characters (Dog and Cat) Cat is the one with the brains.
This will be a great starter book for small children as I think they will be enthralled by the characters.
The illustrations were very good but pictures are not a Kindle's strongest point (although the Kindle fire will no doubt improve that aspect of the book.
So - a pleasant, humourous, enjoyable bedtime story (or anytime story really) for small children and characters that we will hopefully see more of.

Anyway, the purpose of this blogpost is just for me to say don't always stick to your comfort zone for reading (well, obviously you can if you want) because you never know what you might be missing out on.

As I said earlier, I have a lot of books to review read and I've also just downloaded the complete Harry Potter kindle set, so, as you can imagine my to read pile is getting a bit precarious - thankfully the majority are on Kindle though. I'll stick more reviews and comments up on here as I get to them.

Currently reading a pre-publicaton review copy of Earth Girl by Janet Edwards - this could well be the next big thing for the Hunger Games crowd. Review to follow when I've finished it but so far it is very, very good