Yet another book that I’d heard rave reviews about and was forced to wait until I had time to be devoured by it.
Once again, not disappointed.
‘An Ember in the Ashes’ by Sabaa Tahir is an epic book. It has its occasional flaw, but the strength of the characters and the poetry of the writing is so much I just pushed those issues to the side and kept reading.
The characters are older (19 and 20) and the readership should reflect this. There is torture and an uncomfortable rape culture. But if you can stomach that, then the book is a gem.
Totally awesome bits…
- Narrator changes
- Real, 3D characters
- Intricate world-building
- Diversity and inclusivity
Let’s go through in more detail…
Phew! First semester is over, so it’s back to the (fun) books for me! I couldn’t resist reaching for a novel I’ve been aching to read since it first came out – ‘Valentine’ by Jodi McAlister.
Great cover (don’t you think??!), great premise. Four kids, all born on Valentine’s Day… but which one is the changeling? Add a dash of love-hate romance and you have the perfect recipe for YA enjoyment.
This book does truckloads of stuff right. The characters and location feel so real. The start is amazing. All those midnight animals creeping around keep building the suspense.
And whoa… because if there aren’t at least two Valentines who can trace their lineage back to a bit of fairy magic, then I’m not a madcap children’s writer. Unfortunately, I have to wait for the next book to find out if I’m right. Continue reading
If you love unabashed epic middle-grade fantasy, you’ve probably heard of John Flanagan. Between the Ranger’s Apprentice series and Brotherband Chronicles, I count nineteen books. Each and every one with a totally awesome cover.
Today I’m heading back to where they started, in 2004 with ‘Ranger’s Apprentice Book One: The Ruins of Gorlan‘.
Hang on one book-devouring second…
Nineteen books in just over twelve years? And another one due this year? That is, hands down, awesome work. Bravo Flanagan!
So, what did I love?
- Positive relationships
- Incorporation of bullying
This has been on my TBR since before it was even published… and it did not disappoint! A clever melding of belief and reality, loss and discovery, fantasy and contemporary, it lured me in and held me. It’s been a while since I’ve read magic realism, and I sank back into it like a comfy couch.
‘The Shark Caller’ by Dianne Wolfer is a Young Adult novel that can easily suit Middle-grade readers as well. As in, no sex, drugs, angst or other decidedly YA-only markers.
‘The Shark Caller’ has a funky set-up that I loved, interspersing main character Izzy’s narrative with the POV of a shark (mako). The latter is beautifully set out on the page, not so much chapters as poetry and art. In fact, the whole book is beautiful.
It has a suite of diverse characters, and interweaves Tok Pisin with English so you get immersed in the setting of Papua New Guinea.
It’s fresh, it’s different.
I’m a fan. Continue reading
Unicorns. An ancient prophecy. An enticing locked chest in a forbidden attic.
This was a fun read. ‘Eve and the Runaway Unicorn’ by Jess Black is the first in the Keeper of the Crystals series. Four books are currently published in the series, and the beautiful covers were what attracted me. Thumbs-up to the librarian who decided to arrange them artfully at (kiddy) eye-level.
Once I got past the start, which threw me (more about that later), I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I liked the subtle environmental themes, and the rhyming clues.
So, what are the stats for this one?
Made by be using pablo :o)
It’s about this point of the book that uber-hot Dimitri starts thinking Rose has a valid reason to be worried about Lissa. And it’s now we realise the same thing, too… I think it’s a pivotal moment.
Hence a fist-pump book quote! Go Rose!!
‘Vampire Academy’ by Richelle Mead is fun and enthralling. I avoided it for a while (the cover) (more vampires? really?) (and yeah, that cover…) but then a free book came my way. I read it, and finally I understood the hype. Action, kick-ass-ness (if that isn’t a word, it should be), strong world-building and romantic tension.
I’ll add a warning – this book involves cutting, I found those parts confronting. But they’re not in there for no reason, and they’re not glamourised.
Oh, and the cover. I’m almost embarrassed to have it on my bookshelf. But the book is fab, so I don’t care. There’s this saying about books and their covers, you might have heard it…
:o) Read on, people.
This year I committed to reading a dino-load of books and absorbing, by capillary action, every awesome aspect I could find within them. I managed to read 60 Young Adult and Junior Fiction books this year, and I’m overjoyed with that.
So, what were my favourites? In precise alphabetical order, by author (that’s the librarian in me coming out…) here they are:
Young Adult Contemporary
Powerful. This got into my head. Beautifully written.
See my review here.
‘Illuminae’ by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Young Adult SciFi
Like nothing I’d ever read before. Mind-blowing.
See my review here.
Young Adult Fantasy
Hello Fantasy and welcome back into my life! This was addictive.
See my review here.
Junior Fiction Historical
Beyond powerful. A must-read that both broke and filled my heart.
See my review here.
Junior Fiction Fantasy
Love love loved this series! It reminded me of landmark books of my childhood and left me filled with joy.
I haven’t published a review yet, I want to figure out how it all worked…
Young Adult Dystopia
When a book helps define a genre, you expect fireworks and meteor-shower-spectaculars from it. I got everything I was looking for with this one. And more.
No review though, because I read it well before I started this blog… sorry you’ll just have to read it yourself… if you haven’t already!
So there they are, my best reads from a very good year!
Happy New Year Everyone!
Books are like diamonds. You can give two jewelers the same rock, and at the end of all their cutting and polishing, one will spray rainbows among dancing sunbeams, and the other might as well be a shattered fragment of soap-scummed shower-screen.
Likewise you can have several books set in the same world with a similar premise, and one will stand out. This book is one such sparkling delight…
‘The Iron King’ by Julie Kagawa is set in a world shared with many other novels. It involves characters brought into life by others. It follows many expected tropes.
But Kagawa takes her world and lifts it to another level. She cuts a fine diamond!
This is a successful series, with a lot of avid followers. I can see why. I’ve read another of Kagawa’s series before, so I was ready to be impressed. Things that worked especially well in this book for me:
- Immersive world-building
- Clever humour throughout
- A tantalising romantic sub-plot.
If you don’t like spoilers, now is the time to nod sagely and stop reading… Otherwise, read on!
Celebratory fishcakes and pho!
Today I hit the 50K mark while writing with mates at our local Vietnamese cafe! A perfect place and time, with my fellow Laptop Ladies there to high-five.
Four fishcakes and two badges. Don’t mix them up.
I have a hot pot of tea at the ready, plenty of mind-nurturing snacks on my desk, and my MC is literally falling off the side of a mammoth mountain and I need to save her.
This is no time for procrastination.
(‘What did you just call me?’ asks my blog.)
However, I also just tipped 40,000 words on the SnowNaNo, so…
Whoo hoo! Pat myself on the back!
Now, get back to it…