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Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Review: The Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins
Release date: US 2008/ UK 2009
Genre: Dystopia
Target Audience: 13+ (according to the back cover)

Amazon says:
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before—and survival, for her, is second nature. The Hunger Games is a searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present. Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever...

I guess the above description of The Hunger Games is fairly accurate. Yet for me it doesn't communicate what I understood the novel to be about. It is as if the description is written from the outside and not by a reader who has "lived" the story. First and foremost, I interpreted The Hunger Games to be a story about the power of the state and the extent to which it controls its people. Yes it does this through the repulsive concept of forcing its young people to fight to the death and then televising it. However, even before the games begin, Katniss is feeling the injustice of the society in which she lives. She rebels in order to survive and it is the willingness to do this that gives her strength against the Capitol.

Katniss is expertly characterised by Collins as a strong-willed and independent young woman. As the games progress, Katniss maintains her sense of self through helping Rue. However, it is her relationship with Peeta that prevents her losing her humanity as she confronts violent death all around her.

Overall, The Hunger Games is an extraordinary novel. It is a bleak and brutal story about survival against the odds. However, I felt no feel good factor at the end because there was a sense of inevitability that the state will need to do something drastic to demostrate its devastating powers.  I'm left divided: I want to read Catching Fire to find out what happens to Katniss but I'm also afraid to...

Sunday, 27 September 2009

In My Mailbox (#4)

This fantastic, award-winning meme is hosted by Kristi, The Story Siren and was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.

This week I have three new books in my Mailbox and they were all book from Sainburys.

Left to right:

Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Amazon says:
Dru Anderson: Night Hunter. Knife Wielder. Heart Breaker. Dru can sense evil, which helps when she and her Dad are tracking down ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional reanimated corpse. It's a dangerous life, but it's the only one she knows. Then Dru's dad turns up dead and she suddenly finds herself in the middle of a deadly game where every move she makes could be her last. Dru is more special than she realizes - and whatever killed her dad could be coming for her next. Can Dru stay alive long enough to fall for one - or both - of the guys hungry for her affections? Find out in the heart-stopping first book in a thrilling series.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (even though I still haven't read The Hunger Games)
After winning the brutal Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen returns to her district, hoping for a peaceful future. But Katniss starts to hear rumours of a deadly rebellion against the Capitol. A rebellion that she and Peeta have helped to create.
Evermore by Alison Noel (Book One in the Immortals series)
Seventeen-year-old Ever is the sole survivor of a car crash that killed her entire family. Living with her aunt in Southern California, she's plagued by the ability to hear the thoughts of those around her, and haunted by the ghost of her little sister. She tries to tune everyone out, shunning her old lifestyle as the pretty, popular cheerleader, but somehow she can't hide from Damen, the new guy at school. Stunningly handsome, clever and not a little bit intimidating, there's something about him that doesn't quite add up. Ever realises he's hiding something, but nothing could prepare her for the truth - especially when the truth involves past lives, murderous enemies, everlasting love and the secret of eternal youth.
Thanks to everyone who commented on this post. When I checked back on my blog late Sunday afternoon, I realised that this published as an incomplete post. I've no idea why because I know I finished writing it. Anyway, thanks for sticking with me!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Review: Knife

Author: R J Anderson
Release date: 2009 UK
Genre: Fantasy
Target audience: 10+

The blurb:
No ordinary fairytale...
Knife woke in a cold sweat, the torn edge of her wing sizzling with pain. How long had she lain unconscious? Her worst fears had come to pass: she was trapped, flightless a prisoner. The humans had put her in a box, and now they had come to torment her ...

As the blurb says, Knife is not a fairytale. It happens to be a story about a faery who is unlike any faery I've ever read about. She is a strong-willed heroine and at times even a little savage. Knife lives with a colony of faeries who each have roles to fulfil within their community. Knife dreams of being a Gatherer and going outside of the Oak which is home to the colony. Knife unlike the other faeries is not afraid of the outside world. She is insatiably curious, particularly when it comes to the humans. However, all the faeries are vulnerable as they have lost their magic and a fatal disease is slowing killing members of the colony. Knife is told it has something to do with the humans. However, as Knife observes the humans, she  begins to doubt this and she realises that they are not like the other animals outside.

Anderson has created an entirely believeable world inside the Oak. The faeries have a society based on trading skills and knowledge. One of the most beautiful things about the book is the way we are able to see the human world from Knife's faery sized viewpoint. Anderson also deals with the issue of disability and low self-esteem sensitively and this gives the novel depth.

Knife is a delightful book that left me believing there must be faeries at the bottom of my garden. But it also left me with more than just a feeling, it inspired me to be creative. It reminded me about the wonder of humanity. Overall, there is no doubt in my mind that this is a story to be enjoyed by all. Children will love Knife's disobedient and rebellious side. Adults will have the playful child inside themselves reawakened. I can't believe I'm going to give another book five stars so soon, but this book is something truly special.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

In My Mailbox (#4)

This great meme is hosted by Kristi, The Story Siren and was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.

So I'm really pleased with the books that I have in my metaphorical mailbox this week.

Click on the links to read more info from Amazon.

Top row, left to right:

  • Knife by R J Anderson (I've started reading this and I'm really enjoying it so far)
  • Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris (this is the second in the Harper Connelly series. I reviewed the first one HERE)
  • Tithe by Holly Black
Bottom row, left to right:
I'm so excited to have these books. I just love reading books in a series!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Review: Grave Sight

Author: Charlaine Harris
Release date: US 2005 / UK 2006
Genre: Paranormal mystery
Target audience: Cross over YA/ adult

From Amazon:
Harper Connelly had a lucky escape when she was hit by lightning: she didn't die. But sometimes she wishes she had died, because the lightning strike left her with an unusual talent: she can find dead people - and that's not always comfortable. Everyone wants to know how she does it: it's a little like hearing a bee droning inside her head, or maybe the pop of a Geiger counter, a persistent, irregular noise that increases in strength as she gets closer. It's almost electric: a buzzing all through her body, and the fresher the corpse, the more intense the buzz. Harper and her brother Tolliver make their living from finding the dead, for desperate parents, worried friends . . . and police departments who have nowhere else to look. They may not believe in her abilities, but sometimes the proof is just too much for even the most sceptical of police chiefs to deny. But it's not always easy for someone like Harper, for the dead *want* to be found - and too often, finding the body doesn't bring closure; it opens a whole new can of worms.

People hardly ever buy me books which you may find surprising. After all I'm a Librarian, you'd think I get bought books all the time. But I don't. My sister says I'm a book snob (whatever that is and so she tends not to). However, she did happen to buy me Grave Sight as she said it sounded a little like the book I'm writing and she thought it might help me. Well, I don't know about that, but I do know that she gave me one of the best books I've read in ages. Thanks Woo!

Harper Connelly is an interesting and compelling character. She can sense dead bodies and their cause of death. Grave Sight introduces us to Harper and her special ability. She makes a living from locating dead bodies and gets paid a fair price for her work. She doesn't get emotionally involved in her cases. She does her job and moves on. Her brother Tolliver is her faithful assistant travelling across state to support her. She had a rough childhood. They both did.

When Harper arrives in Sarne on an assignment to locate the body of a missing teenage girl, she unintentionally gets caught up in the case. The people of the town are openly hostile towards Harper and she believes that there is a dark secret she needs to reveal. Grave Sight was a riveting mystery. Up until the last few chapters I had no idea who was responsible for all the deaths in Sarne.

The background to Harper's special ability is slowly drip fed into the story. This was a part of the book I really enjoyed. Getting to know the events that made Harper Connelly who she is. I guess getting struck by lightning and developing a special power is not an original idea but Harris used this in her own unique way and I couldn't help but find the book addictive. Even before I'd finished it, I was on Amazon ordering myself the next one.

Overall, Grave Sight gets my seal of approval. It isnt the most literary book in the world but it is a compelling read with well-developed and interesting characters. The plot was excellent and I'm pleased to give this the five star rating! I'm addicted! Recommended for any fans of paranormal mystery or Charlaine Harris!


Friday Finds (#1)

This meme is hosted by Miz B of Should be Reading.
I found this new title on a e-newsletter from Harper Collins. They've launched a new imprint: Balzer and Bray. I thought this sounded interesting. Its a debut novel.
The Everafter

by Amy Huntley
Due for release: 29th September 2009
From the blurb:

Madison Stanton doesn't know where she is or how she got there. But she does know this—she is dead. And alone, in a vast, dark space. The only company she has in this place are luminescent objects that turn out to be all the things Maddy lost while she was alive. And soon she discovers that with these artifacts, she can reexperience—and sometimes even change—moments from her life.
Her first kiss.
A trip to Disney World.
Her sister's wedding.
A disastrous sleepover.
In reliving these moments, Maddy learns illuminating and sometimes frightening truths about her life—and death.

This is a haunting and ultimately hopeful novel about the beauty of even the most insignificant moments—and the strength of true love even beyond death.

You can read the first four chapters HERE.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Review: Possessing Rayne

Author: Kate Cann
Release date: 2008
Genre: Paranormal romance
Target audience: 14+

From Amazon:
Rayne couldn't wait to get away from everything: her mum, her boyfriend, the estate. But the solitude of Morton's Keep isn't all she thought it would be. It's eerie and more than a little creepy. When she meets St John, Rayne forgets her worries; he's like no one she's ever met. So why is everyone warning her away from him? She knows there's something people aren't telling her. But how can she find out the secrets everyone wants to keep hidden ... and more importantly, know who to trust?

When I picked up Possessing Rayne, I somehow completely misread the meaning behind the title and thought the book was about stalking - that or a character being possessed by a poltergist. Well, now I've read it, I can say it was not really either of those things. Possessing Rayne is actually about a girl who is suffocating from her life on a troubled estate and feels weighted down by the responsibility of looking after her younger brother. She feels she needs a radical change before she drowns in life she has no control over. She doesn't want to be a possession. She wants to be free. I guess this is a feeling we all experience in our lives at one time or another. So Rayne finds herself a residential job at Morton Keep (a grand English estate) and goes to live in a rural village miles from her family home.

When Rayne arrives at Morton Keep, she senses a menacing presence hanging like a cloud over the grand house. However, the lure of having so much freedom means Rayne decide to stay. She also enjoys being closer to nature and feels invigorated by walking in the woods near to Morton Keep. Unfortunately, the dark and sinsiter power lurking at Morton Keep is stirring waiting for its next victim.

Although this book was not quite what I thought it would be, it is actually the type of book I enjoy. It reminds me of Kate Tiernan's Wicca series (Blood Witch etc) but I found that much more of a page turner than Possessing Rayne. There seemed to be very little that was original about the plot or the characterisation. It was a quick read but not one that really pulled you in. Rayne was a likable character but perhaps a little too judgmental and vain at times. The concept behind the sinister power was a really fascinating one and it could have been better explored.

This was a good, quick read and will be enjoyed by fans of paranormal fantasy. The gothic setting of Morton Keep created a chilling atmosphere and this was definitely one of its strengths. Overall, I liked it.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

In My Mailbox (#3)

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi, The Story Siren and inspired by Alea, Pop Culture Junkie.

So this week I didn't buy any books but I did borrow three books from the library. All of them have been out quite a while.

From left to right:

Possessing Rayne by Kate Cann
I've already started reading this.
Rayne couldn't wait to get away from everything: her mum, her boyfriend, the estate. But the solitude of Morton's Keep isn't all she thought it would be. It's eerie and more than a little creepy. When she meets St John, Rayne forgets her worries; he's like no one she's ever met. So why is everyone warning her away from him? She knows there's something people aren't telling her. But how can she find out the secrets everyone wants to keep hidden ... and more importantly, know who to trust?

Tough Love by Anne Cassidy
What would you do if someone you loved committed a crime? Tony is everything Gina wants from a boy - he's charming, sensitive and attentive. It's nice to be bought presents and fussed over, even if Tony's 'business deals' aren't all strictly legit. After all, it's not as if he's into anything really serious... But then one night Tony comes home drunk, with blood on his clothes, and Gina can't kid herself any more...

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I must be behind the times because it seems like this book has got everyone talking and they're already reading the next one!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Review: What I Saw and How I Lied

Author: Judy Blundell
Release date: 6th July 2009
Genre: Dark Historical Romance
Target Audience: 15+

From Amazon:
Summer's ending, Evie's stepfather is finally home from the Second World War, and Evie is tired of her glamorous mother treating her like a little girl. Then a mysterious stranger appears; a handsome ex-GI who served with Evie's stepfather. Slowly, Evie realizes that she is falling in love with him - but he has dark secrets, and a strange control over her parents.


What I Saw and How I Lied is, as the title suggests, a novel about deception. Evie is fifteen and craves the glamourous world of her mother. Set in a post Second World War America, the novel speculates on both the experiences of ordinary men, who became soldiers like Evie's step-father, and their families who had to keep hoping for their safe return. However, the novel is more than a coming-of-age story. Evie is on the cusp of womanhood and when her step-father suggests they take a vacation to Florida she meets Peter. She sees that he exists within the glamourous adult world and is easily captivated by his charm. Unfortunately for Evie, Peter is hiding a dark secret and he is not the only one.

The novel also explores the corruption of innocence. Evie is characterised in the opening chapters as a wishful school girl with childish dreams of a more glamourous lifestyle. As the novel develops, Evie's eyes are opened to the harsh injustices of post-war America and the deception of those around her. Evie's innocence is crucial to the story. However, I found some of the early scenes difficult to believe of a fifteen year old girl. For example, Evie is caught trying on her mother's bra and stuffing it with tissue. I personally felt that this would be the actions of a much younger character. Having said that by the end of the novel, I had realised that this immaurity and untouched innocence was necessary to underpin the whole story.

I found What I Saw and How I Lied an interesting exploration of romantic ideals, betrayal, deception and atonement. The ending stayed true to the novel's revelation of these themes. Overall, this novel lacked a feel-good factor and that is part of its truth. This made the story harder to enjoy as it exposed a dark reality. I liked it but I just couldn't enjoy the destruction of deceit.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The Dragonfly Pool Review

Author: Eva Ibbotson
Release date: Out now
Genre: Historical adventure
Target audience: 10 +
From Amazon:

Tally Hamilton is furious to hear she is being sent from London to a horrid, stuffy boarding school in the countryside. And all because of the stupid war. But Delderton Hall is a far more interesting place than Tally ever imagined, and an exciting school trip to the beautiful and luscious kingdom of Bergania whisks Tally into an unexpected adventure ...will she be able to save her new friend, Prince Karil, before it's too late?

Set at the start of the Second World War, The Dragonfly Pool explores Tally's experience of being sent to a progressive boarding school by her beloved father to keep her safe. Tally is a strong and vibrant character who believes that anything is possible. The story follows her experience as she determindely makes the best of her new life and takes it upon herself to try to solve the problems of her fellow students and her teachers.

The novel is well written and it rejoices in the beauty of the natural world. Tally makes many new discoveries in her Biology lessons with Matteo and he opens both her and our eyes to the glory of nature. This beauty is set against the destruction of the war and gives an interesting contrast.

When Tally's school visits Bergania as part of their folk festival, we are introduced to Prince Karil. The story then explores the solitude and somewhat adult upbringing that Karil experiences. Whereas Tally finds it hard to be "free", Karil desperately craves the chance of a normal childhood and friendship.

As my purpose for reading this novel is to use it with a student book group, I have to say I would recommend it to teachers and librarians for use with able readers. The novel raises many interesting points about different styles of education and includes lots of detail from the Second World War which would be great discussion points. However, some children will be put off by the length of the novel and at times the lack of pace.

Overall, The Dragonfly Pool is a wonderful adventure story which is amazingly detailed and (if you can suspend your disbelief) gives you a sense that anything is possible. I liked it.


Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Teaser Tuesdays

This meme is hosted by MizB of Should be Reading.
Join in the fun! Grab your current read, open to a random page and share two teaser sentences. Be careful not to include any spoilers!
Title: The Dragonfly Pool
Author: Eva Ibbotson
"At school they say Nazi spies are going to come down on parachutes disguised as nuns. Well, I know nuns; I wouldn't be fooled - you can tell by their shoes." pg. 14

Sunday, 6 September 2009

In My Mailbox

First things first, this meme is hosted by Kristi, The Story Siren and was inspired by Alea, Pop Culture Junkie.

So this week I only have two new titles in my mailbox. Now normally having two new books fills me with joy and I would sing and dance about them. Well first let me show you the books I obtained this week, then I'll explain.

So they are two adult books:
  • The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison
Amazon says:
England, 31st August 1939: the world is on the brink of war. As Hitler prepares to invade Poland, thousands of children are evacuated from London to escape the impending Blitz. Torn from her mother, eight-year-old Anna Sands is relocated with other children to a large Yorkshire estate which has been opened up to evacuees by Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton, an enigmatic childless couple. Soon Anna gets drawn into their unhappy relationship, seeing things that are not meant for her eyes - and finding herself part-witness and part-accomplice to a love affair, with tragic consequences. A story of love, loss and complicated loyalties, combining a sweeping narrative with subtle psychological observation, "The Very Thought of You" is a haunting and memorable debut.

  • Inside the Whale by Jennie Rooney
Amazon says:
Stephanie Sandford, recently widowed, must tell her family the truth. But the past is indistinct and it's complicated. First, there was her mum, who developed an anxious streak after marrying the wrong Reg. And then there was the young man from the dairy who gave Stevie swimming lessons before he broke her heart. War came, and four years chopping root vegetables in the canteen of the Sun Pat peanut factory on the Old Kent Road. Then the wet London nights, with the Doodle Bugs slipping through the sky like huge silvery fish. It's not until she's under an umbrella with Jonathan - dark hair and seaweed eyes - that Stevie finally starts to sense safety. Meanwhile, Michael Royston's memories are squashed into a shoebox (along with Queen Matilda's Dicken Medal for bravery) ready for his move into hospital. Years ago, he trained military carrier pigeons for the Royal Corps of Signals in Cairo so it's ironic that his own homecoming has taken a lifetime. Michael has never been good at putting things into words; he's more comfortable with the click of Morse code. But Anna, a young healthcare assistant, has the patience - and rare tenderness - to eke out his story. And so he begins.

I ordered these books from Amazon. They are going to be the reading material for the staff book group that I've been asked to run at the school where I am the Librarian.

The trouble is reading adult books is not my favourite past time. I'm a Children's Librarian for a really good reason: I love children's and YA fiction. I am passionate about it. Adult fiction, not so much. So anyway, I selected these two titles because they are debut novels and this will be the first meeting of the group. I thought looking at first novels would be a good theme to begin with.

What do you think? Did I make a good choice for the group? Should I be singing and dancing about having two new books because we should try to read outside our comfort zone from time to time?

Please inspire me!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Bookish Meme

Hosted by Book Chick City but inspired by a another blogger.

A fun way to find out who shares the same bookish foibles as you do. Notice the word foibles? An extra bit of info for you - its my absolute favourite word!

Hardback, trade paperback or mass market paperback?
Personally, I love buying hardbacks. I love the way the title is embossed on a dust-jacket. But I have a lot of mass-market paperbacks too.

Waterstones, Borders or Amazon?
I buy loads of books from Amazon. I prefer Waterstones to Borders. I feel like I can take my time in Waterstones. I could spend all day there.

Bookmark or dog-ear?
I will always use a bookmark if its a hardback or a signed edition. But if its a paperback, I occasionally fold corners down.

Amazon or bricks-and-mortar?
If I know what I'm looking for I'll use Amazon. But I much prefer to go to a bookstore and spend time browsing. You never know when you're going to find a gem. I love indepedent booksellers. There is a great one I came across fairly recently in Aldeborough, Suffolk. I was there on a mini break. Definitely worth a visit if you're ever up that way on holiday.  

Alphabetize by author, or alphabetize by title, or random?
I'm a Librarian but seriously I would never alphabetize at home. I have the Becky system which is more based on how much I like the book or whether it is still to be read. I save the top shelves of my book cases for the books with the best covers. I guess its pretty random. 

Keep, throw away, or sell?
Keep. I wouldn't throw a book away in a million years. I sometimes give books away if I've read them and know I won't want to read them again.

Keep dust jacket or toss it?
Keep for sure. These are what make first editions really valuable in the future.

Read with dust jacket or remove it?
Remove. I like to protect them and keep the book's value.

Short story or novel?
Novel every time. I had to read collections of short stories for my degree so I think it might be a rebellion against that. 

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?
Harry Potter. My sister says I'm pratically Hermione. The whole library thing. I do not have bushy hair.

Buy or borrow?
Buy. Much to my husband's frustration. We have a really tiny house. If I needed a non-fiction book, then I might use the library. I borrow audio books from the library when we go on long journeys because they are so expensive.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendations, or browse?
All three but my preferred method is browse.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
I'm with Book Chick City on this one. If its a series, I want a cliff hanger. If its a stand-alone novel, then a tidy ending. There is nothing worse than a story with a thousand unanswered questions at the end.

Morning reading, afternoon reading, or nighttime reading?
During the week I read in the evening. At the weekend I might read at any time or all day long if the book is really gripping.
Stand-alone or series?
Series! I love series books!
Favourite series?
Hmmm...there are just so many. I'll list a few: The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver. Ingo by Helen Dunmore. The Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney, The Olympians by Rick Riordan. Harry Potter and Twilight obviously.
Favourite children’s book?
I don't know. Its really tricky. When I was a child, it was The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.
Favourite YA book?
This is really tough. The most beautifully written YA book I've ever read has to be Blood Red, Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick. Its the story of Arthur Ransome and his time as a spy in the Russian revolution.
For the plot and the whole Shadowhunter idea (because it echoes Paradise Lost) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare has to be one of my favourites.
Favourite book of which nobody else has heard of?
Song Quest (The Echorium Sequence) by Katherine Roberts. My sister's heard of it because I recommended it but its out of print now and so I doubt its that well known. But it should be, I love it.

Favourite books read last year?
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, Blue Flame By K.M. Grant
Favourite books of all time?
The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Pride and Prejudice, City of Bones, The Medici Seal, The City of Ember, The Alchemist by Paolo Colho, Percy Jackson.
Favourite book to recommend to an 11-year-old?
This is an easy one for me. It has to be Percy Jackson and Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan!

Favorite book to re-read?
Harry Potter. I've read them all at least five times.
Do you ever smell books?
Old ones yes. It kind of transports you back to the past. I stand there wondering who else has held the book before me.
Do you ever read primary source documents like letters or diaries?
Nope. I'm not into diary style writing. If I spent more time on my creative writing, then I might look at letters.
What are you reading right now?
This morning I finished Wolf Cry by Julia Golding.
What are you reading next?
I can't decide between Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson (which I need to read for work) or What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell (which I want to review).
Thanks for reading!

Wolf Cry Review

Author: Julia Golding

Release date: August 2009

Genre: History

Target audience: 11+

From Amazon:
Freydis has been left for dead following a raid by pirates on her father's Viking stronghold. Her brother has been kidnapped and Freydis's father is hellbent on revenge. But this is a volatile man who loathes his daughter and is
driven by the love of his son. Reluctantly he takes Freydis with him on his journey, giving her a slave - Enno - to tend her. As Freydis's father becomes more bitter and cruel, and the hunt for his son becomes increasingly desperate, Freydis and Enno draw closer together. But when battle
looms on the horizon, the bonds of friendship, obedience and loyalty are tested
to the limit.

Golding's Wolf Cry is perhaps her most beautifully written novel. The telling of this epic Viking saga alternates between the journey of Freya and that of her brother - Toki - who is taken hostage by the enemy pirates. This description of the moment when Toki is waiting with two Beormas (a father and daughter from the Sami tribes) for the enemy to attack is an illustration of Golding's magic with language in this book: "They seemed to give themselves over to the moment, like swans skimming along a perfect current; his emotions churned like a salmon thrashing to go upstream against the rapids."

The characterisation was also excellent with each character having an individual depth. My favourite was Enno. Being enslaved since early childhood, he depises the Vikings and refuses to submit to a master. Yet as the story unfolds, he has to challenge his own perception of them as his connection to Freydis develops. Their relationship is the most powerful part of the novel as it gives a tenderness to an otherwise ruthless story of war and piracy.

The novel was divided into sections by short verses which fortell the events of the next few chapters. I personally found these an irritating and unnecessary interruption. I tended to ignore them and turn the page to continue reading the prose.

Readers who liked Stuart Hill's Cry of the Icemark (Icemark Chronicles triology)will inevitably enjoy reading this book. Although it lacks the fantasy element of his books, Wolf Cry is a quicker and less challenging read aimed at a younger audience. Overall, the novel is fast-paced, startingly descriptive and gripping. I really enjoyed reading it!