Posts Tagged ‘Publisher-Gollancz’

13 Minutes

Sarah Pinborough
27802575I was dead for 13 minutes.
I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.
They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?

*Please note that due to the nature of this novel I am not going to go into too much depth whilst giving a synopsis as I think it is best to go into this one with limited knowledge of what might unfold.*

13 Minutes is a young adult psychological thriller that follows the on going twists of a gripping murder mystery involving a group of seemingly normal teenage girls.
The novel opens with the lucky discovery of Natasha’s close to dead body in a local river. She is revived at the scene, having been technically dead for 13 minutes (hence the title), but is left in a state of amnesia in that she can’t remember the days leading up to the incident including how she ended up in the river.

Natasha happens to be the leader of the popular girls (or ‘Barbies’) at her sixth form and her near-death experience sends shock waves through the community – ultimately triggering a series of rippling events that threaten to destroy anyone and everyone involved.

Right from the beginning of this novel I was absolutely hooked and the vast variety of perspectives and formats, including text messages and transcripts, lead the way for a story full of intrigue and deception I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. The vast majority of the book is told from Becca’s perspective, Natasha’s ex-best friend, who sheds light on the history of herself and the so-called ‘Barbies’ in a way that adds a depth I haven’t seen in many YA books. I especially loved Sarah’s use of doctors reports that were placed perfectly throughout and allowed us to delve beneath the surface of the characters actions in order to grasp a sense of who they truly are and thus created layer upon layer of character development.

This novel is more than just a murder mystery, though a great one it is, it is a book that highlights the pressures of the modern day and offers an insight into teenage friendships and social structures. It provides a constantly evolving plot that spirals into something I never ever would have predicted when I first picked up this book. I love the vast spectrum of characters that Sarah uses to create a complex and colourful plot she weaves so perfectly to create a story that left me utterly speechless. The story line slots together with a loud and vastly satisfying click right at the end but up until that point I had no idea where it was going and Sarah had me constantly guessing from the very beginning.

Verdict: Sarah Pinborough utterly delighted me. I cannot stress enough how skilfully plotted this book was – I will for sure be purchasing many more of her books. I would definitely recommend this for lovers of Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard, Torn by Cat Clarke or just anyone looking for a really great and well-crafted quick read. Just keep in mind this book is not suited for young readers due to the nature of the plot and some sexual content.

Reviewed by Evie

Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: February 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 405
Genre: Thriller, Crime
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
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Finish It February: Week Three Roundup

Personal Target: Finish/get up to date with four series

Books read this week: One

Total books read: Three

Series completed for challenge: Two

General feedback: So, yet another busy week in my household. I don’t know why I thought that I would get more reading done this week, considering that it is half term and I have two busy small people to entertain!

I am really not sure how successful next week will be as I have two books I need to read for Bookish Brits videos before I can return to the challenge. On the positive side, I have a week of annual leave (no night shifts, yey!), which means that I can afford a late night or two to squeeze in some more of my neglected novels.

Regardless of how successful next week is for my #FinishItFeb targets, I am really happy that I have managed to complete two fabulous series and I am really glad that I have taken the time to make (however small) a dent in my TBR pile.

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

bitten kingdomIn the final volume of Carson’s trilogy, the 17-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.
Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she’s never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion – a champion to those who have hated her most.

Compared to some of the books on my shelf, five months isn’t such a long time for one of my preorders to languish on my shelf. Never the less, I am so MAD at myself for not reading this book sooner. I love this series and I have no excuses, NONE.

At over 400 pages, The Bitter Kingdom was a substantial final instalment to a wonderful fantasy series. I loved how the story was allowed to play out at a natural pace, no corners were cut, no plot line was rushed or unexplored, the world building just as detailed and sumptuous, and the relationships as messy and realistic as the previous two instalments, And yet, despite it’s size the pages just flew by and it was over far to soon.

I simply didn’t want the series to end and I finished The Bitter Kingdom with the desire to grab The Girl Of Fire And Thorns off of my shelf and read the trilogy back to back.

As with the previous two instalments, I was most impressed with the character development, particularly Elisa who continued her journey a from self conscious girl, to blossoming young woman to become a confident woman, a powerful sorceress and a commanding monarch.

The romance *sighs* the romance was everything I had hoped for since book one. I am a very happy bookworm.

Verdict: A Fitting end to a fabulous fantasy series

Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: September 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 448
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: Finish It February

To learn more about Finish It Friday and to join in visit our link up post here. To follow the challenge on Twitter search for #Finishitfeb

Posted by Caroline

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Them Or Us

David Moody

them or usThe war that has torn the human race apart is nearing its end. With the country in the grip of a nuclear winter, both Hater and Unchanged struggle to survive. Hinchcliffe, leader of an army of Haters, will stop at nothing to be at the top of the new world order.

For me, ‘Them or Us’, the third and final instalment in the ‘Hater’ series was the best book by far in the trilogy.

For those of you that have not read the previous two books, the premise is simple. In ‘Haters’, the world has suddenly split into two groups of people. The ‘Unchanged’ are the majority of the population who have, unsurprisingly, not experienced any changes. Then there are the ‘Haters’. There is no way of working out who may turn into a ‘Hater’. Just imagine one moment you’re plodding along as content as can be, the next moment you have this uncontrollable urge to kill the person walking past you in the street. Inexplicably, you just know who is a fellow ‘Hater’ and who is the ‘Unchanged’ that must be eradicated.

Moody is the master of slow building tension. In the first book, as you witness the worlds population slowly start to fall apart it is almost painful to read, as Moody focuses on the mundaneness of the lead character’s life interspersed with shocking scenes of violence and the tension just increases throughout until you get to the shocking finale which is truly, ‘jaw drop’ worthy.

The second book, ‘Dog Blood’ details the build up and inevitable conclusion between the ‘Haters’ and the ‘Unchanged’, whilst the two groups are fairly evenly matched, the ‘Unchanged’ by their larger population, the Haters due to their unflinching ferocity towards the ‘Unchanged’. Due to the stepping stones Moody put in place in book one in terms of character building, the events that unfold in book two are all the more heart wrenching and your jaw is now touching the floor as you race through the closing chapters.

In this book, Great Britain has now been ravaged by numerous nuclear attacks by both the ‘Unchanged’ and the ‘Haters’ leaving the majority of the kingdom uninhabitable and in the midst of an unforgiving nuclear winter. The ‘Unchanged’ are now far and few between, slowly being hunted to extinction. The ‘Haters’ primary function which was killing the ‘Unchanged’ is pretty much redundant. They are left trying to adjust to a harsh environment where food and provisions are limited and only those that are useful in some way stand the slightest chance of getting provision and security whilst infighting and abuse between the Haters is rife.

Our protagonist Danny McCoyne, a man who has certainly been no hero for either side is physically and emotionally spent and just wants to be left alone. He continues to reign in the ‘Hate’ a rare skill that enables him to be within close contact of the Unchanged whilst suppressing the urge to kill. This makes him noticed by ‘Hinchcliffe’ a bully of a man that rules the large Hater community Danny resides with and uses him to flush out the remaining ‘Unchanged’.

As his future existence and that of his peers looks bleaker and bleaker under Hinchcliffe’s brutal regime, Danny is forced to choose a side when conflicts between the ‘Haters’ themselves and of course the remaining few ‘Unchanged’ come to a climax. This results with his decisions and actions being the main turning point to end at least this trilogy’s final chapter.

Guillermo del Toro has acquired the rights to make this series into a movie and it will be very interesting to see how the story is reflected on screen.

Verdict: This series will stay with me for a long time. It’s morbid, shocking and an absolutely fascinating and thought provoking read.

Reviewed by Karen

Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: September 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368
Genre: Horror
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British book
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Dead Reckoning

Charlaine Harris

With her knack for being in trouble’s way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte’s, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. But Sookie suspects otherwise and she and Sam work together to uncover the culprit – and the twisted motive for the attack. But her attention is divided. Though she can’t ‘read’ vampires, Sookie knows her lover Eric Northman and his ‘child’ Pam well – and she realises that they are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, she is drawn into the plot -which is much more complicated than she knows. Caught up in the politics of the vampire world, Sookie will learn that she is as much of a pawn as any ordinary human – and that there is a new Queen on the board

If you happen to be new to Sookie’s universe I would highly recommend that you start at the beginning of the series with Dead until Dark.

The character development that began in Dead in the Family continues here. Although still impulsive at times Sookie is beginning to consider the consequences of her connections to the supernatural community and the challenges of a long term relationship with a ruthless immortal.

Pam continues to provide some of the wittiest and driest dialog in the series. We are provided with a satisfying glimpse past the fierce, perfectly polished facade as she demonstrates the protective element of her personality.

Dead reckoning finds Sookie in a cathartic mood, spring cleaning her attic and her life. The apparently pointless appearances of a naked Alcide (I know I can’t quite believe that I wrote “naked Alcide” and “pointless” in the same sentence!) and the consequences for Sookie’s household, led to the feeling that the author was also in the mood to spring clean. It remains to be seen whether this was simply intended to tie up loose ends and focus attention to the primary players or if the author has some wicked plot twists up her sleeve for the remaining two books.

Bills apparent personality transplant, the all too convenient departure of Judith and the artless “love making” scene really niggled at me. As an ardent supporter of team Eric Northman perhaps I’m simply experiencing sour grapes at the direction the romance appears to be taking.

Verdict: While I enjoyed dipping back in to the Sookie universe I didn’t enjoy this instalment as much as previous Sookie novels. However having come this far with the series, I am determined to stick it out for the remaining two novels.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: May 2011
Format: Hardback
Pages: 325
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Mystery
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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Fire and Thorns

Rae Carson

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.

This gorgeous coming of age tale transports you completely to a world of sumptuous palaces, humid jungles, lush oases and stunning, yet unforgiving, deserts. A land of beauty and of danger, this superb world building is not at the expense of the story’s pacing. There is never a dull moment and like our protagonist Elisa; we are thrown from one experience to another. However the action never feels forced or gratuitous as each experience moves the story forward and informs Elisa’s character development. The main problem you have as a reader is deciding where to leave your book mark as you reluctantly turn in for the night!

Although this is an action filled fantasy adventure with a few crush worth males thrown in for good measure, this is very much a character driven story and it is the character arc which I LOVE most about this book. We watch a girl with cripplingly low self esteem blossom in to a determined, capable and confident young woman.

Elisa’s voice is intelligent and brutally honest, to the point of causing the reader discomfort. When we first meet her Elisa is, in her own opinion, a lazy underachiever who is so fat that she is unable to walk for more than a few minutes before tiring and becoming physically uncomfortable.

Taking the childhood teasing of her glamorous, capable older sister to heart Elisa has spent years believing that the disappointment of her birth caused her mother’s death. These feeling of worthlessness have prevailed despite the honour of being the bearer of the Godstone and destined to do great things in the service of her god.

Filled with conflicting emotions and confusing self beliefs, on the one hand Elisa feels suffocated by the expectation of predetermined greatness. On the other, she is increasingly concerned that her biggest fear, (that she will not fulfil her destiny) will be realised. Simultaneously, she seems to be wilfully sabotaging herself with her extreme eating. It is, after all, one thing to fail at something if you haven’t tried, soul destroying to fail because you were somehow lacking, and Elisa believes she is lacking. A lifetime of being talked over, of others making life changing decisions without consulting her, with her destiny predetermined, her food intake is the one thing she can control.

I have read other reviews which have looked negatively at our protagonist’s eventual weight loss, viewing it as a bad example to impressionable young girls. I could understand their point if the weight loss was the cause of Elisa’s character development and increased confidence. But this isn’t a fluffy make over story. While she does eventually revel in the aesthetic element of her weight loss it is the changed to her health, to her physical capability that she notices first and values most. Elisa’s development begins long before the period of extreme physical demand which happens to result in her weight loss. I believe that it is in fact the changes in her character from an increased sense of control, of self awareness and a sense of purpose that enable the permanent changes in her behaviour, resulting in sustained weight loss and improved self confidence.

While the story of Fire and Thorns concludes in the absence of infuriating cliff hangers I am left with a strong desire to return to Elisa’s story. Lucky for me Fire and Thorn is the first of a planned trilogy.

Verdict: Believable world building: Check, Fantastic plot and pacing: Check, Crush worthy male characters: Check, Character development: Check. This fantastic debut has it all. I am eagerly anticipating the continuation of Elisa’s story.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: September 2011
Format: Hardback
Pages: 425
Genre: Fantasy, Action
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: N/A
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Magus of Stonewylde

Kit Berry

Sylvie is dying. A victim of crippling allergies, poisoned by the pollution and chemicals of modern life, Sylvie is trapped in a hospital bed while her mother and doctors watch her life slipping away. But one of them offers her a chance. There’s an alternative community – Stonewylde – hidden away behind high boundary walls in a corner of Dorset. If their leader, the charismatic Magus, would let Sylvie visit then perhaps the clean air and green lifestyle may restore her vitality. Or at least give her some measure of peace before she dies. It’s a chance, and when Sylvie and her mother take it, they find themselves in a haven of tranquillity and beauty.
But it’s not all idyllic. The Magus sends a moody, secretive Village boy to work in their garden as a punishment. He warns them to stay away from him – he’s rebellious and in deep trouble. But Sylvie is curious about Yul and, as their forbidden friendship grows, she sees that all is not quite as it seems at Stonewylde. Why was she told to keep away from Yul – and why are she and her mother so drawn to the Magus? Is the crone on the hill really a powerful wise-woman, or just a crazed old hag bent on destroying the peace with her wild prophecies? And what exactly is the magical secret at the heart of this seemingly perfect community?

After meeting Kit Berry at a creative writing workshop and hearing about her Stonewylde series, I was excited and interested to start reading the books.

Stonewylde is a book about a critically ill 14 year old, Sylvie, who lives in the big city. She gets rescued by Magus of Stonewylde who takes her back to Stonewylde, the most beautiful place on earth. But after a while, she finds that everything is not as it seems. With twists and turns along the way, this shocking tale holds a suprise in every chapter.

I loved this book a lot. My favourite thing about it is the storyline and the actual place of Stonewylde is very creative. I loved Yul who is my favourite character, because he’s a mysterious boy who holds a lot of secrets and bad memories. I cannot wait to get stuck in into the second book.

Verdict: A great storyline.

Reviewed by Dan(13)

Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: May 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352
Genre: Fantasy, Paganism, Romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Dan (13)
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: Debut Author
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