Saturday, 21 June 2014

Blood Family by Anne Fine

Does the past ever leave you?

Another Carnegie Award nominee and one that fits the criteria well, that is if the criteria is yet another depressing story. Possibly my mistake was going from The Bunker Diary to this story but I finished this one feeling disappointed.

The story focuses on Eddie, a young boy who at 7 years old is rescued from the home he has been imprisoned in with his mother by his evil stepfather Harris. Through first person accounts we learn how Eddie deals with discovering the world having been locked up for several years. Eddie appears to be a surprisingly well adjusted young man. However, after many years in his adopted family we watch Eddies struggles grow. He develops a strong anger towards his mother (Lucy) blaming her for not rescuing them. Adding to his troubles is a startling discover. On a school trip he is select for an age progression photograph and who Eddie sees starting back at him is the spitting image of his stepfather Harris. This sends Eddie down a bad path. He turns to drugs and drink and succumbs to the raging torment inside him.

I felt this story was engaging but I was disheartened by the negative direction the story took. I know it was part of Eddie’s character but to start with him seems to have survived the brutality and this is such an uplifting feeling however, once you get into the nitty gritty of the story you released he is far more damaged. I know that is probably the more realistic version but I think after the disturbing events in The Bunker Diary I could have used a more idyllic story. Personally I thought Fine could have done more to develop Eddie’s issue with his mother. I did not feel these were explored enough for me as I felt they were a fascinating incite to how a character may feel having had to deal with such an awful upbringing. 

This is a superbly written story that does lead you through a range of emotions. I get the impression it is well researched as well which is something I appreciate in authors. If you are a fan of other stories by Anne Fine such as Tulip Touch this is definitely going to be up your street.  I would advise some caution for younger readers as the subject matter is not pleasant. 

Worthy of it's nomination, just a bit sad for me.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Slated by Teri Terry

Slated by Teri Terry

Can you know the truth if your mind has been wiped?

I came across this series for the school library and new it was a must have and for me a must read.  The science fiction based plot really hooked me and although it was another dystopian story (seriously they are everywhere) the blurb suggested to me that it was not really the overriding feature. Thankfully the blurb was more than correct. This is definitely a thriller. I was hooked and devoured the book in an evening. 

The story starts with us meeting Kyla, she has been Slated, and therefore remembers nothing of who she is or in fact was. This Slated procedure is used to give criminals a second chance and as a part of their rehabilitation they cannot remember who they were so are theoretically less likely to follow the path they did before. They are fitted with a Levo device and their emotions are monitored to ensure they do not get angry, violent or even the slightest bit tense. If their levels drop too low they will be knocked out by the Levo to make sure they can cause no harm. The problem with Kyla is that she is different, she isn’t compliant and docile like the rest of the Slated and she has nightmares that seem to be memories from her past. No Slated should remember anything so why does Kyla, and what does it all mean? Well it basically means that Kyla is amazing. The more Kyla begins to see in her dreams the more he life begins to change. When she sees her face on a missing persons list she begins to question what she had actually done to deserve her Slating. The more she questions the more trouble follows.  There is a romance element to the storyline but I personally felt this was not really necessary and did not need to be ‘love’. I would have preferred if Kyla’s relationship with Ben had just been a particular strong friendship I think it would have added a different kind of maturity to the story and separated from the crowd of romance for romance sake plagued fiction.

The trouble with this story is it moves at such a pace that apart from Kyla I struggled to get to know many of the other characters and the language and writing style where slightly more juvenile and I think that meant some of the grittier aspects of the story were not as dark as they could have been. However, having said that I really felt the idea of Slating and the effect this had on Kyla was brilliant. The suspicious Dr Lysander was flawlessly written and her enigmatic personality meant I was constantly guessing about the motives of this character, even better these guessing where wrong.  This book is obviously an opener to a series and therefore the story ends on a very gripping cliff-hanger and I had to read the follow up as fast as I could.

  A pacey read that keeps you guessing. 

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Summer Read Liist

It has been a while since I joined in with Top Ten Tuesday, the weekly meme hosted by the lovely people at The Broke and the Bookish. I thought it would be a nice way to remind me to continue to blog more regularly. I have been reading and reviewing but I have failed miserably to get these reviews up on my blog. This week's post is about the books I am hoping to read over summer. Just having a list of 10 is really far to short for me as I have an ever growing pile of to-reads that is definitely not limited to 10. However, I have managed to narrow down to a list of several I want to make sure I finish.  I feel I did quite well with my list for Autumn reads so hopefully I will be able to complete this list.

1. Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon

I recently purchased this book from a supermarket for a rather cheap price because the cover and blurb jumped out at me. I am getting a bit tired of the black covers with a splash of colour on the front that are becoming a bit overdone in YA fiction, so this bright cover was a pleasant surprise. I was even more intrigued by the fact that Lucy Saxon penned this story when she was just 16, jealously aside I want to see what such a young writer has produced. On the face of it this looks like a fantasy/coming of age story. I am hoping it proves enjoyable as the cover suggest.

2.Reckoning by Kerry Wilkinson

I have been avoiding dystopian stories as I was getting bogged down in some of the similarities and implausibility of some of the stories. However, the blurb of this suggested this was more fantasy then dystopian and would offer me the best of both of those worlds. This is the start of a series and a move away from crime stories for this author.  I am excited to see what this one delivers. Another pretty fantastic cover as well.

3. Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

As I am a glutton for punishment there is another trilogy opener on my to reads list. This is a modern day myths and legends story and should be a change of pace from my usual array of fantasy stories. I have literally no clue what to expect but I am intrigued to see another author tackle a myths story line. I enjoyed Percy Jackson but wanted more from mythical side of the story so I hope this can live up to my expectations.

4. Summer's Child by Diane Chamberlain

Oh how I love thee Diane Chamberlain. You do not write for YA but you definitely write for me. I can read anything Chamberlain creates and love getting my nose into one of her books. I was fortunate to snap this up on my Kindle for the bargain price of £1. Chamberlain is often marketed to fans of Jodi Picoult, who although exceptionally talented does have a tendency to put enormous twists at the end of all her stories. I have found myself guessing what awful thing she is going to do and I am always quite disappointed when I am correct. Chamberlain is not in anyway like this. However, she does create the same dramatic aspects to her stories that make them gripping reads. 

5. Resist by Sarah Crossan

I loved the first in this two-part series and I really want to find out what is going to happen in the sequel. I really enjoyed the dystopian story that Crossan had weaved. It had the feisty main character I was hoping for so I am looking forward to seeing what Alina gets up too. 

6. Thief's Magic by Trudi Canavan

I have been eager to read the Traitor Spy Trilogy by Trudi Canavan for a while and whilst looking for this series I stumbled across a brand new world created by this talented fantasy author. I almost danced around the shop with this beautiful book. I can see myself getting completely hooked on this series starter. I hope it is as gripping and fantastical as her other books. 

7. Traitor Spy Trilogy by Trudi Canavan

As I just mentioned I have wanted to read this fantasy trilogy since I discovered it picked up with Canavan's lead character from The Black Magician's trilogy. Sonea was such a brilliant lead and I really enjoyed her first story. I hope we see her magic develop even more and I am looking forward to meeting her son.  If you like fantasy stories I recommend reading Trudi Canavan. I find she is a brilliant cross-over author in that her books work well for teenagers and adults alike. 

8. Fear, Nothing by Lisa Gardner

Another grown-up book that I have been desperate to get my hands on. I think a good murder-mystery can be such a good read and Gardner is by far my favourite crime author. Her newest instalment in the D.D. Warren series seems set to thrill and when it finally goes down in price I will be adding it to my bookshelves pronto.

9.All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

I loved the bright yellow of this cover and was instantly captured. I love the ability of covers to make you pick up a book and consider it a contender for reading. From the blurb I have established this looks like a thrilling tale. Em is imprisoned in a military base with nothing but a boy next to her and instructions to escape she has found in a drain. She is the key to the final instruction, she has failed many times before and each time ends up imprisoned. Are you intrigued, because I am!

10. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

I know it is shockingly sad really cool that I re-read Harry Potter every year and have done so since I was 11. I always read the book at the same time of year, on Harry's birthday to be precise (give yourself points if you knew this meant the 31st July). It is enormously geeky but it is now a tradition I just can not break. To be honest I love when the date finally roles around and I can settle into the comfortably familiarity of Harry's world and Hogwarts.

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks

I though he was blind, that's how he got me. 

I honestly have no idea what I think of this story. From a literary point of view I think the writing is superb. The first person narrative is detailed, gripping and idiosyncratic giving insight into the main character of the story. The story itself however is just a bit unnerving for me.

The diary author is Linus. A 16 year old boy who finds himself abducted and imprisoned into a bunker with 6 rooms. As he writes the rooms slowly begin to fill. They are watched, punished, tested, rewarded and degraded whilst kept imprisoned. Linus’s diary records his ordeal and how he copes with the individuals around him and how they cope from his perspective. However, this is not a whodunit and if you are looking to read a story that ties up all the loose ends then this is not for you.

Without giving too much away I was left feeling all too flat when I finally finished this book. I need more of a happy ending or at least a climatic one whereas for me this story fizzled out. The main reason this tale earned 3 stars from me was that despite is all too gritty story line I was hooked and read the book in one sitting.  This book seems an interesting choice for the Carnegie shortlist this year. It is by far the most mature book on the list and I for one am not sure why it has been deemed a young adult read. I have found this year’s shortlist a tad too depressing for my tastes and this book fit right into that character. It is not uplifting, there is no morale and it leaves you a bit put out. Exquisitely written but too dark for me.

For those who like a clever story.