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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Book review: Shadow Study

Author: Maria V Snyder

Release date: 12th March 2015
Genre: Fantasy
Target audience: YA+
Publisher: Mira Ink

Shadow Study is the first novel in a new fantasy series by Maria V Snyder. It’s a story of power and conflict, love and loyalty.

The story follows Yelena and Valek and takes place almost a decade on from the events in the Poison Study series. Yelena is the Liaison between the realms of Sitia and Ixia. Valek is still the commander’s right hand man. The story begins with an assassination attempt on Yelena’s life as she travels to meet Valek. The attack leaves Yelena vulnerable as she loses her powers. Keeping her predicament secret from Valek, she returns to Sitia to seek help from the Masters and the Council. But her enemies are many and she doesn’t know who she can trust. Meanwhile Valek returns to the Commander to find that security is more than a little lax and that the Commander is testing him...

This book is as thrilling and dramatic as all the other books I have read by the author. She has a wonderful way of creating tension and making you fear the worst is about to happen. It really keeps you turning the pages. Of course, the love story between Yelena and Valek is at the heart of this book and that will please her fans: Especially me.

There is the usual cast of colourful characters Janco and Ari, Opal and Devlen, Leif and Irys all make an appearance. But there are some new characters too and one in particular who really shakes things up. I think most people will guess how it ends but it doesn’t make it any less exciting.

What I loved most about this story was learning about how Valek came to be an infamous assassin and the most feared man in all of Ixia. Imagine a man who leaves you a sculpture on your pillow as a warning to tell you you’re about to be assassinated – terrifying! And yet it was wonderful to find out what drove him to become a cold-blooded killer.  

Shadow Study is a fantastic fantasy read. If you haven’t read any of the books by Maria V Snyder, then go and grab a copy of Poison Study. You won’t be disappointed!

Source: Purcahsed from Foyles online shop

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Book review: Blown Away

Author & Illustrator: Rob Biddulph

Release date: 29th Jan 2015
Format: Picture book
Target audience: 3+
Publisher: HarperCollins


Blown Away is a wonderfully adventurous picture book which delights the reader with its cheeky animal characters and its bright setting.

The story begins with Penguin Blue who is taking a kite for a flight for the first time. He gets blown away and calls for help to his animal friends to help him. They get blown along too and thus they embark on their adventure.

Blown Away is a rhyming picture book and has a lively rhythm. It’s a perfect read aloud book. There is ingenuity in the illustrations which adds charming details like the blue whale becoming the school bus.

This is also a really useful book for beginning to teach the idea of animal habitats and adaptation. The penguins find it too hot in the rainforest. It would be a nice starting point to discover why some animals live in cold climates and some in tropical, humid climates.

I read this book to the Nursery children and to a Year 2 class. It was great to see the different things they noticed and the questions that the older children asked about the language and the setting.

Blown Away is a must have for any primary school library. It’s fab!

Source: Borrowed from the school library

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Book review: Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse

Author: Chris Riddell

Release date: 12th September 2013
Genre: Gothic Adventure/ Comedy
Target audience: 8+ / Middle Grade
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is funny, quirky adventure story. It’s full of friendship, imaginative characterisation and a daft, adorable humour.

Ada Goth is a spirited and polite girl who lives with her father – Lord Goth – at Ghastly-Gorm Hall. Her mother died from a terrible accident and he is still grieving. Ada is rather lonely at the beginning of the story until she meets the ghost of a mouse and sets out to discover how to help him.

This is a truly bonkers book. It has Chris Riddell’s unique stamp all over it. The humour in the choice of character name and the playing with exaggeration – for example, he plays with the concept of the secret garden.

Ghastly-Gorm Hall is the sort of setting that will appeal to young readers. It’s an adventure waiting to happen and the added attraction of the illustrated form of this book really helps it come to life. Middle Grade readers are not likely to understand the concept of Gothic and this book is a great introduction to it.

One of the wonderful things about it is the use of exciting, unusual words. Sometimes I was wondering if some of these words were actual words or if they were completely fabricated. How much fun for young readers to find out though!

I wish there were more books of this length and this format for this market. It’s great for newly confident readers. The layout is kind on the eyes and the illustrations help readers picture every wacky detail from the clothing to the eggy-soldiers.

Overall, Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is a great book which has been super popular at my school library. With its nomination for the Kate Greenaway Medal, it will surely be a hit with librarians and pupils for years to come.

Source: Borrowed from the school library

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Book review: Breakable

Author: Tammara Webber

Release date: 7th May 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Target audience: New Adult (frequent & detailed sexual references)
Publisher: Penguin

Breakable is a companion novel to Easy. It’s the same story told from Lucas’ point of view.
I decided to read this because I wanted something light. When you’re studying all the time, your brain can only compute so much. I wanted to read something quick too as all these Robin Hobb novels I’m addicted to take a long time!

This novel takes us inside Lucas’ head and takes us into his past. It’s a split narrative between him now and him growing up as Landon after his mother is brutally murdered.

I enjoyed it but not as much as Easy. The problem with it is if you’ve read Easy, then you’re not really learning anything new (just some additional back story). I feel this doesn’t really work. I thought it would tell the story from the end of Easy as a sequel but sadly that is not the case.

The other issue I had with it was there wasn’t enough action or drama. It seems like a really self-indulgent book – full of erotic moments which at times were simply annoying.

Overall, I’m being honest here and saying that I was disappointed. Read Easy – that’s great. Give this a miss. (You could take a bit of inspiration from Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and write your own ‘what happened next’).

Source: Bought and read on my Kobo.