Tag Archives: adventure

Book Review: The Memory Keepers by Natasha Ngan

Published September 2014 by Hot Key Books.

18196516Goodreads Synopsis: “No one can take your memories from you… can they?”

Seven is a thief with a difference – he steals downloadable memories from banks and memoriums to sell onto London’s black market, trading secrets and hidden pasts for a chance at a future of his own. He makes sure he keeps some special stuff back to ‘surf’ himself though – it’s the only real form of entertainment he can afford. But one night, as Seven is breaking into a private memorium in a wealthy part of London, he is caught in the act by one of its residents; Alba, the teenage daughter of London’s most famous criminal prosecutor. Instead of giving him away, Alba promises to keep Seven’s secret – as long as he allows her to go memory-surfing herself. In doing so, they discover a hidden memory about Seven’s past, revealing a shocking secret about Seven’s childhood, the government and a mysterious experiment known as The Memory Keepers…

Now Seven and Alba will have to race against time to unlock the maze of The Memory Keepers – but can they keep themselves out of harm’s way before the London Guard – and Alba’s father – catches up with them?

My Review: I read and loved Natasha Ngan’s striking fantasy début, The Elites, when it was released last year. Ever since I finished the last page of it I was eager to read more from Natasha! I was so glad when this arrived in the post, I delved straight into it and devoured the story in a day. It’s richly fantastical, but scarily real and possible at the same time. I’m so glad I enjoyed it as much as The Elites!

I adored Natasha Ngan’s world-building in her début novel, and was eager, but nervous, to see what her new dystopian world would be like. Ngan is so inventive and creative: Long after I put the book down, I was wondering about the futuristic imagining of London. It’s divided completely between a rich north and a poor south, with technological advances like memory recording. The book explores so much of the city and there were a lot of well developed parts, like the Underground communities… I’d really love another book set in the world of The Memory Keepers, as I was fascinated by the world-building.

The plot was really awesome. It was actually much darker and much more action-packed than I’d initially anticipated, though that’s not to say I didn’t love it! I was hooked from start to finish. I thought I’d guessed the ending, but it turned out to go in a completely different direction! I think the only thing that I would’ve liked in the book was to see more about the whole “memory” viewing technology. Of course, it’s a hugely central part of the book – but being really nerdy, I wanted to know a bit more about the history of it and how it came to be. That sci-fi element really interested me 😀

The book is written in switching narratives between Alba and Seven, who both lead completely different lives but are brought together when Seven breaks into Alba’s house to steal one of her family’s memories. I loved the narration immensely. The switching narrative was perfect for the story and Natasha Ngan has crafted two great, individual voices. I love Alba and Seven, the protagonists, too! I connected with them a lot and really didn’t want to put the book down while reading, eager to know what happened next to them.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Memory Keepers – there was a part of me a little nervous I wouldn’t love it like I did Natasha Ngan’s first novel… but it exceeded me expectations and was a total thrill ride of a book. The sci-fi elements of the story are imaginative, inventive and really clever. I loved Ngan’s writing even more with her second book. I think the narration was brilliant. Highly recommended, whatever your genre preference:)

My Rating:

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I received a copy of The Memory Keepers from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler

Published April 24th 2014 by Random house.

18160169Goodreads Synopsis: Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That–along with everything else–changed the day she met her first fairy…

When Alice’s father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon–an uncle she’s never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it’s hard to resist. Especially if you’re a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

My Review: The Forbidden Library series is bound to be the next big children’s fantasy sensation. The concept was really original and fun- I really recommend this is you’re a fan of The Chronicles of Narnia!

As soon as I’d started, I knew I was going to really like it. I was drawn in straight from the start; I really liked the quiet, hard-working protagonist Alice, and felt like crying with her after she finds out about her father. I was really absorbed in the story as she finds herself in a new, strange house with a relative she never knew she had.

After enjoying about a third of the book, I don’t know why, but I lost interest a little… I thought maybe I was just in the mood for another genre, so I read a couple of books  in-between. It took me a while to get back into the story. I really, really did love the concept and the magical books idea, it was so awesome, but for some reason up until the last hundred pages or so, I found myself just reading and not enjoying it as much as I thought I would. I’m really not sure why!

Django Wexler’s writing really is great, it felt so descriptive and fun.I did find bits a little fast paced…. But it’s definitely worth a read, though, if you love fantasy; it ticks all of the boxes.

I really liked Alice, for the most of the story. She was a really relatable girl. She’s a bit lonely,but very adventurous. And, of course, she loves reading. 😀 A little way into the story, though, her personality just suddenly seemed to change. She was really… quiet sounding at the start, though very inquisitive, and then once the supporting character is introduced she suddenly seemed a lot different, I can’t quite put a finger on why… she just seemed randomly snappy? I couldn’t quite get my head around it. I’m not sure if that was just because I’d been dipping in and out of the story, though!

Overall, The Forbidden Library is definitely worth reading if you love fantasy books. I’m sure it’s going to be the Next Big Series for middle grade readers! I really did love the concept of the story… it’s a book about books, how can you not love that? 😀 Mostly, I was really absorbed in the story. It did take me a long time to read, and I was mixed a little about the protagonist, but I will most definitely be looking out for more from Django Wexler in the future!

My Rating: 

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I received a copy of The Forbidden Library from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

 

An interview with SF Said!

My first author interview of the year, and probably one of the most exciting ones I’ve ever gotten to do!

SF Said wrote Phoenix, most recently- a sci-fi epic about a boy searching for his missing father. I fell in love with it; it was beautifully written and really captivating. You can read my glowing (No pun intended- the book’s about stars!) review here!

First up, here’s a little about SF… (I felt arty! So this looks relatively cool!):

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Onto the interview questions, in which writing, book themes and illustrations are covered… The images are all of Dave McKean’s beautiful artwork for the book, aside from the photo!

Where did the initial idea for Phoenix come from?

The initial idea was about a boy who goes on an epic quest to find his missing father.  That was all I had at the start.  I didn’t know who the boy was, or where the quest would take him – until I got the idea of setting the story on a starship.  This idea popped into my head one afternoon, and I immediately knew it meant we’d be crossing the galaxy, and there’d be aliens… and that’s when I got really excited about it!

The book took off from there.  But I have to admit, it changed a huge amount over the seven years it took to write it!

What was the hardest scene to write in Phoenix? (Don’t worry, no spoilers here- thanks, SF!:))

The beginning and end were both very hard.  But the thing I found hardest runs all the way through.  It’s what you might call the mythic background.

sf image 1The aliens in Phoenix believe that all the mythological gods are really stars who come down from the sky.  They take different forms in different times, but they’re always the same immortal beings, returning again and again through history.  They call them the Twelve Astraeus.

Originally, I wrote lots of material about the Twelve Astraeus, to explain this background.  But it was impossible to find words powerful enough to describe them.  After all, gods and stars should be mysterious and awe-inspiring beyond words!

Then I came up with the idea of describing them through illustrations and song fragments.  I gave Dave McKean a list of the Twelve Astraeus, with their names and attributes in different mythologies (Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian, sf image 2Mesopotamian etc.)  The images he created have exactly the sense of mystery and awe that I wanted.

I also wrote song fragments to go with the pictures, which give you little hints about them.  So when readers encounter the Astraeus of Love, for example, they can work out for themselves that she’s been called Venus, Aphrodite, Ishtar, Astarte, and so on; and even if they don’t, they’ll just feel who she is, without being told.  I find that much more powerful and evocative than ordinary prose – but it took me a long time to work out the best way to do it!

Why did you decide to write a book set in Space- what that inspired by anything in particular?

I’ve always loved space stories.  The stars have always filled me with a sense of wonder.  I love the thought of other life; other worlds, out there in the universe…  and I know I’m not alone in these feelings.  Yet there aren’t many books set in space for younger readers, given how popular it is on TV and in films (Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek…)  So because I wanted to read more space stories myself, I had to sit down and write my own!

I’m also very interested in space science and astronomy, and the incredible things that are being discovered all the time.  I love the idea of Dark Matter, for example.  It seems that most of the matter in the universe is ‘Dark Matter’; it’s usually invisible and undetectable, but it’s what holds everything together.  So I put this idea into the book, and Dave McKean made some beautiful images of it, partly based on fractals.

But it turns out that his illustrations are incredibly close to the reality!  Just last week, astronomers captured the very first image of the web of Dark Matter that holds the universe together – and it looks astonishingly like Dave’s pictures!

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Are any of the characters based on real people?

The one that’s closest to reality is probably Mystica Grandax, the Startalker.  She is largely based on my grandma, who died during the writing of the book.  She was pretty much the nicest grandma you could imagine, and I wanted to have a character as nice as that!  A lot of strange and difficult things happen to the main character Lucky in the course of the story, so I wanted there also to be someone who was just unconditionally good and kind and loving towards him.

I loved Dave McKean’s illustrations! Do you have a favourite from Phoenix?
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Thank you, I love them too, as you can probably tell from my other answers!  He is a brilliant artist and a great collaborator, and we spent a lot of time talking and thinking about how to do it.  Many of the things the book describes are impossible and unimaginable, so it wasn’t easy!  And yet I think he pulled it off.

It’s impossible for me to choose a single favourite.  But I have to admit, the cover blew my head off when I first saw it!

I also love the book trailer that he made for Phoenix, which animates many of his illustrations in a really beautiful way.

[My blog doesn’t seem to like YouTube Video embedding… but you can just click on the link above, for the book trailer! It’s worth watching… it really is gorgeous (: ]

Finally, do you have any hints about current writing projects?

I’m just beginning the third draft of my new book right now!  The working title of this one is TYGER.  It’s science fiction too, although it’s not space; it’s more of a parallel worlds story.  I’m really excited about it!

My usual routine is: get up in the morning, go to the library, and write.  I write in the library because I’m not disciplined enough to work at home; there are just too many distractions.  Much as I love Twitter (where I’m @whatSFSaid), it’s disastrous for your concentration!  I find it much easier to focus in the library, and I work there every day, unless I’m doing a school visit.

But my aim is always to make my books as good as they can possibly be, and that takes a lot of drafts, and a lot of time.  Phoenix took 13 drafts in the end (Varjak Paw took a horrifying 17!) so it might be a while till it’s ready…  but I hope not too long!

Wow! I can’t believe it took 13 drafts- but it was definitely worth it. Phoenix is an awesome read, and I really recommend it! Thank you so much to SF Said for the interview. I really loved it, so I hope everybody else does!

Graphic Novel Review: Bravest Warriors Vol. 1 by Pendleton Ward

Also by Joey Comeau, Ryan Pequin and Mike Holmes. I couldn’t fit them in the blog post title (:

Published by KaBOOM!, 31st August 2013.

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Goodreads Synopsis: The new hit Cartoon Hangover series from the imagination of Adventure Time creator, Pendleton Ward! POWER! RESPECT! Based on ADVENTURE TIME creator Pendleton Ward’s brand new animated series! Join Chris, Wallow, Beth and Danny, four 16-year-old heroes-for-hire, as they warp from galaxy to galaxy, saving alien races with the power of their…emotions. They’re noble, righteous and totally bodacious! This new series of original comics based on the new Cartoon Hangover series is sure to be a smash hit! This collection includes the first four issues, including the totally boss backup stories!

My Review: PENDLETON WARD I LOVE YOU.

Just had to get that out of the way. sorry. *Cough*I’m obsessed *cough* This was so fun. So, ridiculously, stupidly fun… I originally wasn’t planning on reading this, but I bought it on my Kindle. I’m so glad I did buy it- it was definitely worth it!

Bravest Warriors follows a band of four kids and one unofficial member (who is, probably, one of the coolest…), who defeat evil things with their righteousness. Sound silly? NO. Because this is what happens in Adventure Time, Pendleton Ward’s most famous work, and Pendleton Ward is awesome, and there is no way to deny that. ‘Nuff said (:

The world Bravest Warriors was set in was so rich with wacky imagination. It’s so difficult not to fall in love. Immediately, I was sucked into the world, and after the collected issues… I just wanted more! I’ll admit that the planet full of sad clowns was extremely creepy, but the extremely cute illustrations meant I could read it (: I fell in love with the artwork. It’s so pretty, simple yet really fun. Similar to Adventure Time’s art, which is probably a reason I loved it so much. Bravest Warriors is such a vibrant comic. It really stands out!

The story is very jumpy. It’s packed with events and it is pretty much all over the place and really random. But, I think that made it really loveable. It’s completely unpredictable and laugh-out-loud funny. Giant cats attacking spaceships. Sadness overtaking a world full of clowns. And zombies. None of them should go together, but they do. I’m not quite sure how this comic pulled it off, but it did!

The characters are so loveable. Each of them are all really different, but they made an awesome team. My favourite character? Had to be Beth, the dark haired girl on the cover. She was… awesome 😀 Though, of course, Miss Unofficial Fifth Member of the Team was equally fun. They’re all really easy to love, and I was really absorbed in their story. I ignored family on Christmas a bit, because I was so curious to see what happened to them!

Overall, Bravest Warriors is just a really fun comic. It’s not really to be taken seriously; it’s a silly, funny, random graphic novel, but it’s so easy to get stuck into. I’m really happy I got around to reading it! Recommended to MG fans of comics, but really, I enjoyed it a lot and I know a lot of adults did too, as I saw on Goodreads! The characters are loveable, and you’ll find yourself giggling manically at the story. Adventure Time fans will gobble it up.

My Rating: 

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I purchased Bravest Warriors through X Comics online.

Book Review: The Queen of Dreams by Peter Hamilton

Published by Doubleday (Random House books), 2nd January.

The Queen of DreamsGoodreads Synopsis: Taggie and Jemima are summer holidaying on their dad’s farm, when they see a white squirrel wearing glasses . . . and soon after their father is captured and trapped in a faerie world that’s fallen to Darkness.

But why would anybody want to kidnap boring old Dad, especially the dreaded King of Night? Could it be that their family isn’t quite as ordinary as they believed?

My Review: I received The Queen of Dreams as a surprise in late 2013, and the cover was so gorgeous- I was excited to start it. I think it’s going to be a modern classic for children- ‘The new Alice in Wonderland’ is a fitting way to put it!

The Queen of Dreams follows Taggie and Jemima- two girls about to stay with their dad, currently divorced from their mum, on a holiday. Strange things surround their dad’s cottage… and within hours they’ve seen a squirrel wearing glasses leap down a well, then their dad is kidnapped, by terrifying creatures. I thought the squirrel thing was a bit too Alice in Wonderland at first, and was a little scared this book wouldn’t be very original. But, it really was! I enjoyed it a lot.

The fantastical world Peter Hamilton has created is vivid and beautiful. There are hidden realms, lost heirs to the throne, fairies flying in the sky, and a strangely loveable talking squirrel. It was so fun to get lost in the story, and at the last page I really wanted more! The book has a magical, personal feeling about it, because it was written for Peter’s children and two of the characters take his kids’ names. I found that really sweet!

Peter’s writing is descriptive and rich, and he’s created some really great characters. The king of night and the creepy people who begin to follow Taggie and Jemima are truly terrifying, and the main girls themselves are really fun to read about. There are themes of divorce and family in the book too, that I loved, and there’s a clever twist at the end of the book that left me aching for answers about the parents!

I loved the characters Taggie and Jemima, but at some points, I couldn’t really connect with them. That was one of a few parts of the book that I didn’t like! Also, events moved very quickly, and at a few points I struggled to keep up a little. I hope the pace slows down a bit in book two, so I can appreciate the writing better. Okay, The Queen of Dreams is a fantasy novel, but some parts I did find a little out of place, like a certain trip back in time to a well known place I can’t say anymore about… (:

Overall, The Queen of Dreams is a rich, imaginative and engrossing story. This is Peter’s first book for children, and I definitely enjoyed it. ‘m looking forward to hunting down Hamilton’s adult Sci-Fi novels, now, and the sequel to this! The Queen of Dreams is a mesmerizing story- a bit random in places, and sometimes very fast-moving, to me. However, I think a lot of children and adults alike are going to love it. I’m glad I got the chance to read it, as it’s definitely going to become a modern classic.

My Rating:

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I received a copy of The Queen of Dreams from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard

Published by Strange Chemistry (Angry Robot), 2nd January.

The Almost GirlGoodreads Synopsis (condensed): Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. But coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows.  Riven isn’t prepared for the beauty of a world that is unlike her own in so many ways. Nor is she prepared to feel something more than indifference for the very target she seeks. Caden is nothing like Cale, but he makes something in her come alive, igniting a spark deep down that goes against every cell in her body. For the first time in her life, Riven isn’t sure about her purpose, about her calling. Torn between duty and desire, she must decide whether Caden is simply a target or whether he is something more.
My Review: The Almost Girl was a book I was really interesting in reading just by the synopsis. When I saw the gorgeous cover, I was even more excited! The Almost Girl is a Sci-Fi, epic adventure, that I had really high hopes for. It was a great read, but there were a few faults that I had with it. The world building is absolutely brilliant: I think that was definitely my favourite part of the novel! The idea of a technologically advanced, parallel universe, had me really intrigued. I haven’t read much like that before and loved the concept that a girl from this Sci Fi world had travelled to our Earth, to conduct a search. I loved the Vectors, too: Almost like zombies- re-animated dead bodies programmed to be killers. Terrifying. It was all really vivid and real.

I thought it would be very action-packed (and it was, a lot) but there were also contemporary themes of teenage rivalry, tension, etc. I wasn’t really expecting that, but liked that addition at first. I grew to dislike slightly, further into the story. Riven’s been explained as this ruthless soldier, but suddenly, about halfway through the book, she’s developed all of these complex emotions and… I didn’t really get it! She was a great character a lot of the time, but I found her personality pretty confusing. Another thing that confused me a lot was the whole Cale/Caden thing. Two characters, completely alike, with similar sounding names? So hard to keep track of… It made it hard for me to understand their relationships with Riven. That made me enjoy the story less, which I’m really sad about. If i’d found it explained better, I think I would’ve liked it even more.

I found the story hard to get into. The prologue really drew me in; Amalie’s narrative hooks and air of mystery in her writing had me really curious! After the first few chapters, to about 175 pages in, I found I wasn’t that hooked anymore. I decided to leave the book for a while and come back to it later. I did so, and  found the next parts much better! I became completely engrossed in the story and addicted to Amalie’s writing. Then, in the last fifty pages, I didn’t feel that anymore. Maybe I wasn’t entirely in the mood for a sci-fi, maybe the plot was just at its best in the middle… I’m not sure!

Overall, The Almost Girl was a fun read. It’s an epic Sci-Fi concept that really interested me. I really couldn’t get into some parts… This book took me about a week to get through. However, it did definitely have its action packed, engrossing parts, so I did enjoy a large amount of it. The characters, and their backgrounds and ties with each other, were pretty confusing to me. They were hard to follow at points! However, some of the genius plot twists in the middle and the world building definitely made up for it. A complex read, but also really original. I think a lot of Sci-Fi fans will love it.

My Rating:

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I received a copy of The Almost Girl from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Spotlight on Steampunk: The Whatnot

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Today’s Steampunk book isn’t entirely steampunk; it’s more of a fantasy novel, though I really wanted to include it in this fortnight, because look at that pretty steampunk-y cover! And, mechanical birds! (Easily one of the coolest bits of the series) The author, Stefan Bachmann, will be on the blog tomorrow, with a guest post, too- which I am so excited for! ;D This is the sequel to The Peculiar- so if you want to pick up this book, make sure to check out that one, first!

By Stefan Bachmann, published by Harper Collins.

The Whatnot (The Peculiar, #2)Goodreads Synopsis: “Oh, the Sly King, the Sly King, in his towers of ash and wind.”

Pikey Thomas doesn’t know how or why he can see the changeling girl. But there she is. Not in the cold, muddy London neighborhood where Pikey lives. Instead, she’s walking through the trees and snow of the enchanted Old Country or, later, racing through an opulent hall. She’s pale and small, and she has branches growing out of her head. Her name is Henrietta Kettle.
Pikey’s vision, it turns out, is worth something.
Worth something to Hettie’s brother—a brave adventurer named Bartholomew Kettle. Worth something to the nobleman who protects him. And Pikey is not above bartering—Pikey will do almost anything to escape his past; he’ll do almost anything for a life worth living.
The faeries—save for a mysterious sylph and a mischievous cobble faery or two— have been chased out of London. They’ve all gone north. The army is heading north, too. So Pikey and Bartholomew follow, collecting information, piecing together clues, searching for the doorway that will lead them to Hettie. 
The Whatnot is the enthralling, surprising, and unforgettable companion to Stefan Bachmann’s internationally bestselling debut novel The Peculiar.
My Review: I was so excited to start this! I was sent a copy of Stefan’s debut, The Peculiar, about this time last year by Harper Collins. The book completely blew me away; I was so absorbed in the fantastical vision of England, which was invaded by Faeries. I’ve been waiting since the start of the year to read the sequel, because I really wanted more of the world, and The Peculiar was left on such a cliffhanger- I needed to know what happened to Hettie… I haven’t been able to get around to the sequel since I was accepted for it on Netgalley in September ): But, I’m so glad I’ve finally read it now- it was definitely worth the wait- I read all of it in two sittings!
I was slightly confused, as the story began. There’s a new central character to the story- Pikey. He’s a pretty mysterious character- we don’t know everything about him, even by the end of the book, though he’s still really likeable. He’s similar to Barthy and Hettie, the Peculiar siblings (half human, half faerie!), because he’s hated by so many people. As I started, I wasn’t sure if I was reading right- where were the old main narrators, Barthy and Hettie? Then, the scenes began to switch between Pikey’s adventure, and Hettie’s. The two people are linked, because Hettie found his eye, and keeps it with her- and every now and then, he gets visions of her, from his lost eye. I loved that concept! It was really clever, and made the plot really interesting. When Barthy meets Pikey, they immediately go searching for Hettie- who’s been kidnapped, and now owned by a new character, who calls her The Whatnot. I really enjoyed reading about them. There were some great twists to the story, that kept me hooked and kept the characters  in constant danger.
Hettie is such a loveable character. I was already really attached to her in the Peculiar, and she was even more loveable in this installment! She seemed a lot braver and adventurous in this book, and her adventure definitely was the most fun to read about. Barthy (or Bartholomew)  seemed very… I’m not sure how to put it! I could connect with him really well in the Peculiar, but not so much in the Whatnot, at first. He seemed to me as a little distant and less likeable at first, though I grew to love him more again over his quest to find Hettie. The ending for both of these characters I can’t really talk about- I really don’t want to spoil it! But I’ll say that it will make tears spring to your eyes. Pikey also has a really great ending. I loved Pikey! There needs to be more of story to him- a spin-off novella, maybe, Stefan? Please? ;D
Stefan’s writing is absolutely beautiful. I fell in love with it in his debut- and it was especially brilliant, because The Peculiar was Stefan’s debut, that was published before he was nineteen. In the sequel, his writing was equally amazing. The descriptions were so vivid and realistic, I felt I was there- in this unique, original vision of a faerie infested England! Too often people say that an author’s second book, or sequel to a series, will be the hardest to write- I’m not sure about Stefan’s experience writing The Whatnot, but it was just as amazing as his first book, and it definitely didn’t let me down!
Overall, I was so captured by The Whatnot. The plot, as I hoped, was layered and unpredictable, and I found myself completely addicted to the story. The setting is so rich with imagination. I really love this world, but the way this book ended, I’m guessing that’s the end of it…. please no! More, Mr Bachmann! I need MORE of Hettie, Barthy and Pikey’s stories! ;D I definitely need to re-read the two books again sometime- and I’m sure I’ll be recommending these to anybody looking for an unforgettable fantasy, or a just a breath-taking read. Hettie, Barthy and Pikey are all completely unforgettable characters. I love them to bits! A highly recommended steampunk / dark fantasy adventure for anybody.
My Rating:
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I received a copy of The Whatnot from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Spotlight on Steampunk: Larklight

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First review of the fortnight! I devoured this book in a couple of sittings over the weekend, and it was brilliant. There can’t be a steampunk event without a Philip Reeve book, right? Here’s the first in his MG/Teen series- Larklight! (:

By Philip Reeve, published by Bloomsbury.

Larklight (Larklight, #1)

Goodreads Synopsis: Arthur (Art) Mumby and his irritating sister Myrtle live with their father in a huge and rambling house called Larklight…that just happens to be traveling through outer space. When a visitor called Mr. Webster arrives for a visit, it is far from an innocent social call. Before long Art and Myrtle are off on an adventure to the furthest reaches of space, where they will do battle with evil forces in order to save each other–and the universe.  A fantastically original Victorian tale set in an outer space world that might have come from the imaginations of Jules Verne or L Frank Baum, but has a unique gravitational pull all its own…

My Review: This was the best book to start the fortnight on, as it was so rich with imagination and craziness. I loved it! The story begins with a brother and a sister, who are living in a crazy, huge house-mansion-ship in space called Larklight, which was their mother’s home before she died. Already, I was sucked into the story, because the premise was so awesome. The time of the events in the book is the early 1800’s- but the Victorian era I’ve learned about here has a massive twist. Victoria’s empire has expanded not only over the globe, but over space and surrounding planets. I couldn’t help but squeal here. It was so original and a really fun setting!

This book doesn’t hang around, world-building before the action. The details all fall into place perfectly over the course of the book, and you’re thrown into the action almost immediately. Larklight gets a visitor ,which Art and Myrtle are immediately already suspicious of. Then, when this visitor turns out to be a giant spider with a giant army, things happen. Creepy things, and adventurous things, all of which I don’t want to detail on in fear I’ll drop spoilers- but I’ll just say that it was so fun following everything! This book would suit anybody- whether they love sci-fi, fast-paced adventures, or pirates, or space. Or pirates in space (This happens! How brilliant! It had a very Treasure Planet feel.)

The story moved quite fast for me. With a lot packed into the plot, I was expecting the pace to be a little bit slower. However, the book moved really, really quickly. I did have to read over a few paragraphs at multiple points, because there was a lot to take in. Larklight really is a wild adventure, and moved a bit too fast in places, but that was made up for with the writing style- a twelve year old’s perspective!

Art is such a great character. Philip Reeve has captured a twelve year old’s personality so well. Art is a really easy character to like, and the story is written by “him,” so in places he complains a lot about his older sister, and skips to the battle scenes. His actions, and perspective on everything, made me giggle a bit. I couldn’t stand his sister Myrtle- though. She just seemed the opposite of Art; stuck up and unfriendly. I think it was intended for a reader to dislike her at first- because later in the novel, we get her diary entries, and whilst she’s still a bit annoying in them, I did grow to like her a little more through those.

Overall, Larklight is an imaginative,  roller-coaster of a book! The world was simply amazing- I loved the historical aspects that Philip Reeve has used, and put his own twists on. All so original! I planned on not reading the sequel (Starcross) this month yet, but I might end up reading it, actually- I want more of the setting! More of the adventure! The plot in Larklight has a very strange mixture of everything, but it all works, thanks to Philip Reeve, and his brilliant writing and world-building skills. The two siblings whom the story is centered around are both very three-dimensional characters, though I still really couldn’t like Myrtle much. Hopefully she’ll become more likeable in the rest of the series. I can’t wait to read on!

My Rating:

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I purchased a copy of Larklight from a local bookstore!

She Is Not Invisible

By Marcus Sedgwick, published by Orion.

She Is Not InvisibleGoodreads Synopsis: Laureth Peak’s father is a writer. For years he’s been trying, and failing, to write a novel about coincidence. His wife thinks he’s obsessed, Laureth thinks he’s on the verge of a breakdown.He’s supposed to be doing research in Austria, so when his notebook shows up in New York, Laureth knows something is wrong.

On impulse she steals her mother’s credit card and heads for the States, taking her strange little brother Benjamin with her. Reunited with the notebook, they begin to follow clues inside, trying to find their wayward father. Ahead lie challenges and threats, all of which are that much tougher for Laureth than they would be for any other 16-year old.

Because Laureth Peak is blind.

My Review: She Is Not Invisible is one of those books that was stuck in my head for ages after reading the last page. It was such a beautiful, gripping story, and I just wanted to read it over an dover again! Marcus Sedgwick creates such magical, mesmerising stories, and She Is Not Invisible is definitely one of his best yet.

The idea for this story is so original! It’s one of those rare ideas that you come across, that’s never been done before. It doesn’t seem to have taken any inspiration from anything, making it so unique in a world where a lot of books are following genre trends at the moment. Laureth’s dad has disappeared, and Laureth has run away to New York, taking her little brother with her for guidance, as her mum is away and doesn’t believe he’s in danger… and Laureth is blind. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story where a blind character has taken the lead role before, aside from in the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson. One of the reasons that I loved this story is because of the main character, as I admired her bravery to set out into an unknown world!

The main theme of the book was Coincidence, which was a very individual theme. I’ve never read a book based around something like Coincidence before, and wasn’t sure how it would go. It was so clever! One of the things this book had me wondering about after I’d finished was whether coincidences were real… and whether the stuff in Laureth’s dad’s notebook could come true… *shiver*

One word to describe the plot? Misleading. There were loads of twists and turns to this book that I was not expecting! The story was complex, but not confusing, and a really enjoyable read. I was on the edge of my seat, totally hooked on the story as Laureth and Benjamin were searching their way around New York, with a notebook full of terrifying notes on a cult with ties to mysterious coincidences. I was so scared for the characters, and very interested about the places they were led to- Edgar Allan Poe’s house, for one! I could also visualise them really well in New York, as I’ve been there before, and so it was really easy for me to slip into their shoes. Even if you haven’t been there, Sedgwick’s writing will transport you into their world, and make you feel like you don’t want to come out.

Laureth, as I’ve already said, was a really brave character. I know that Marcus spent a lot of time with blind peoplee, so he could get experiences correct. I’m pretty sure he got it spot on. It was so interesting to be in Laureth’s shoes, to imagine what it was like to travel halfway across the world to find a father when you’re only relying on four senses. Not only was she brave, but she was also very realistic. Benjamin was, too; her little brother who she took with her! He was so sweet and obeying, and I just loved him to bits. Both of them were so great! (Also, there’s a pretty funny background to Laureth’s name- Marcus, is that how you came up with it??).

Ah, I’ve ranted on too much about this! So I’ll wrap up now, but I could go on forever about this book… Overall, it was an amazing read, and very unique, too. A thrilling search for a lost father, who’s obsessed with an idea for a story? It was just so great! Laureth was a brilliant leading character who anyone will connect to. She Is Not Invisible is written so well, and I definitely think this book’s going to be big. Sedgwick fans, grab a copy now! Or if you’re someone looking for a read that’ll blow you away, you go grab a copy now, too! (: (Bonus: the cover is really pretty) It’s hard to compare this to anything… I can’t recommend this enough.

My Rating:

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I received a copy of She Is Not Invisible from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.