Author Archives: Michelle

About Michelle

Owner of The Book Club Forum.

The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop

In the summer of 1972, Famagusta in Cyprus is the most desirable resort in the Mediterranean, a city bathed in the glow of good fortune. An ambitious couple are about to open the island’s most spectacular hotel, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots work in harmony. Two neighbouring families, the Georgious and the Özkans, are among many who moved to Famagusta to escape the years of unrest and ethnic violence elsewhere on the island. But beneath the city’s façade of glamour and success, tension is building.

When a Greek coup plunges the island into chaos, Cyprus faces a disastrous conflict. Turkey invades to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority, and Famagusta is shelled. Forty thousand people seize their most precious possessions and flee from the advancing soldiers. In the deserted city, just two families remain. This is their story.

Despite hearing about Victoria Hislop, I hadn’t read any of her books. This one arrived to review, and I was intrigued by the idea that she had based her historical story in an existing ghost town. Varosha, within Famagusta, was well known for it’s desirable high rise hotels, and famous visitors. After the population fled, the area was fenced off, and remains that way even today. Apparently the hotels are now crumbling away, and nature is reclaiming the area. I would love to go and see it.

Hislop’s story tells of the rise of the hotels and their owner, and of various visitors to, and residents of the area. She then takes you through the conflict, and it’s effects on them all. The power behind this book is the story telling – I wasn’t sure what to expect, and didn’t know if I would read it, but once I started, I couldn’t give up. The characters creep up on you, and simply had to know what happened. The descriptions are vivid and easily imagined. Highly recommended, and I will be looking out for more from this author.

 

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

This is quite a difficult book to review – there are things I want to talk about, but I don’t want to give away key points of story. Red Rising is set on Mars, in a far distant future. We’re introduced to Darrow, who’s a miner working under the surface.. mining for the elements which will help terraform the planet for humans to live on. His people have lived in the mines for generations, working as humanity’s last hope.

Until Darrow makes a discovery that this is all a lie.. Mars has been habitable for years, as have other planets, and his class, called the Reds, are simply used for slave labour. Don’t worry – that’s all on the back cover!

From here, through a series of events, Darrow is chosen to be disguised (which turns out to be an understatement!) as a Gold, the highest class. He’s taught how to be chosen for training in their command school, so he can eventually infiltrate and lead a rebellion. However, no one really knows what happens in the school, and it’s certainly not what you expect.

I will say now that my biggest problem with the book happens during the change.. there is a lot of world building during the first section, interesting characters, and emotional writing. As Darrow enters the school however, you forget they’re actually on Mars, and the book has a different feel. Plus it’s a confusing feel.. in one way it’s more YA then the beginning of the book, but it’s also harsh and violent. To me, it was as if the author wasn’t fully clear who he wanted his audience to be, and what direction he really wanted to take this first book.

However.. both parts of the book are actually really good, and I think the series has great potential. Now that the school aspect is over, there is so much scope, and I’m really excited to see what happens next. I believe the initial world building will pay off, and the author has already shown he can bring the unexpected.

Pierce has taken aspects of ancient Earth culture, and blended them with aspects of other books. Yes, there are aspects of The Hunger Games and of Ender’s Game, and even Lord of the Flies, but these are combined with echoes of Roman gods and ancient wars. They are the building blocks, which have been twisted and developed into something new. Despite my reservations early in the book, there proved to be a lot to love, and this morning I feel rather bereft now the book is finished. I look forward to getting my hands on Golden Son, and finding out where the journey is going to take me next.

Red Rising is one of the many excellent books brought to you by Hodderscape

 

 

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Competition Time!

Recently we’ve made some tweaks and changes to the forum. Considering the popularity of social media, we’ve shifted the emphasis onto personal reading logs, social reads and general book discussions. The ‘library shelves’ are still there, if you want to discuss a particular author, book or genre, but the heart of our community are readers chatting about their reading.

The lovely people at Hodderscape have kindly agreed to help us relaunch the forum with a fantastic competition. The Hodderscape team are on facebook and twitter, and they also love talking about books!

So, what so we have on offer?

Red Rising by Pierce Brown


The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all al lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.

TimeBomb by Scott K Andrews (proof copy)


New York City, 2141: Yojana Patel throws herself off a skyscraper, but never hits the ground.

Cornwall, 1640: Gentle young Dora Predennick, newly come to Sweetclover Hall to work, discovers a badly-burnt woman at the bottom of a flight of stairs. When she reaches out to comfort the dying woman, she’s flung through time.

On a rainy night in present-day Cornwall, seventeen-year-old Kaz Cecka sneaks into the long-abandoned Sweetclover Hall, in search of a dry place to sleep. Instead he finds a frightened housemaid who believes Charles I is king and an angry girl who claims to come from the future.

Thrust into the centre of a war that spans millennia, Dora, Kaz and Jana must learn to harness powers they barely understand to escape not only villainous Lord Sweetclover but the forces of a fanatical army… all the while staying one step ahead of a mysterious woman known only as Quil

Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene

Smiler’s Fair: the great moving carnival where any pleasure can be had, if you’re willing to pay the price. They say all paths cross at Smiler’s Fair. They say it’ll change your life. For five people, Smiler’s Fair will change everything.

In a land where unimaginable horror lurks in the shadows, where the very sun and moon are at war, five people – Nethmi, the orphaned daughter of a murdered nobleman, who in desperation commits an act that will haunt her forever. Dae Hyo, the skilled warrior, who discovers that a lifetime of bravery cannot make up for a single mistake. Eric, who follows his heart only to find that love exacts a terrible price. Marvan, the master swordsman, who takes more pleasure from killing than he should. And Krish, the humble goatherd, with a destiny he hardly understands and can never accept – will discover just how much Smiler’s Fair changes everything.

A Love Like Blood by Marcus Sedgewick

If life has taught me one thing, it is this: that the worst monsters are entirely human.

It began in a hole in the ground, in Paris, in the days after the liberation. What I saw there I saw only for the time it takes a match to burn down, and yet it decided the rest of my life.

I tried to forget it at first, to ignore it, but I could not. It came back to me; he came back to me. He hurt people I loved… And so I took the first step on a journey from which there would be no return; a path that led me to fear, to hatred and to revenge – but, above all else, to blood.

Rooms by Lauren Oliver

A compulsive and powerful ghost story narrated by two spirits who inhabit the walls of an old house. It’s a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways.

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, that’s FIVE books – as well as a Hodderscape Dodo Keyring! :)

All you need to do come and visit us on the forum. You’ll need to visit this thread to enter, details are all over there. It’s UK only I’m afraid, as the publishers are sending out direct. (I’m trying to arrange something for the rest of you, so stay tuned!)

When you’re done, make sure you visit Hodderscape:

Website: www.hodderscape.co.uk
Twitter: @hodderscape
Facebook: www.facebook.com/hodderscape

Categories: Reviews | Leave a comment

The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman


I first came across this this tale within one of my favourite books, Stories, which Neil Gaiman helped compile and edit. It’s quite a dark story, and wasn’t one I got on that well with. However, placing it into it’s own book, most importantly with the accompanying artbook, made the story more alive for me.

The main character is a small man, who is taking a journey. This is not purely a physical journey, as we’re aware there’s a simmering anger and obsession within him.

This book is designed to be an immersive experience – the combination of words, artwork and comic strips all blend into each other, enhancing the story to much higher levels. The art itself isn’t really to my taste, and I have to admit that if I was in a shop, I may not have bought this. As it was sent to me to review, I took the time read it, and as I’ve already said, I’m glad I did. I also love the dark image on the front cover.

Fans of Neil Gaiman should love the writing, and it’s a book to be explored. The art may not be to everyone’s taste, but it conveys the darkness of the story.

 

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The Bone Dragon by Alexia Casale


The Bone Dragon introduces us to Evie, who’s recovering from an operation to remove a part of her rib. With the help of her uncle, she decides to keep this piece of rib, and carve a dragon from it. As she recovers, this little bone dragon comes to life, and takes her out on night time trips.

Over the course of the book, Evie’s past and life is gradually revealed to the reader, although it’s never totally clear; and it’s important to realise that Evie is the narrator of her story, so part of the experience is never knowing exactly sure what to expect, and what is truth.

For me, The Bone Dragon is a well layered book – I have seen some reviews saying it’s no more than a story of a depressed girl making a dragon. I guess that is the basis of the story, but they seem to have missed so much more. It can be read as a fantasy, as a tale of a dragon coming to life and trying to help Evie to heal, in many ways. Alternatively, it can be read as a personal story, dealing with healing, friendship, family, and revenge.

There is a darker side to the story too, Evie does learn to heal, and to develop her relationships, but there’s also a darker side to how she deals with her past. As for her past, it is a difficult one, but never is it presented in a graphic way – the author hints at what happened to Evie, and how it makes her feel. This to me is important, as this can be read by teenagers and adults alike.

This is a story about a teenager, and it is a YA book, but as an adult I found so much within it’s pages. It stirred memories of teenage feelings, whilst bringing out the nurturing adult in me. Evie is a troubled but lovable character, who I wanted to know and help.

I heard about this book a while ago, but have put off reading it. After meeting Alexia at YALC, suddenly it appealed, and I’m so glad I read it. Alexia has just signed a contract for her second book, and I will be first in the queue to read it.

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary


After reading a lot of crime novels a few years ago, it became something I tended to avoid. Occasionally though, a review copy arrives which captures my attention, and I discover a book which offers something more. Someone Else’s Skin was one of those books.

The main character is Marnie Rome, a detective whose own parents were murdered. There’s something compelling about Marnie, a character you can’t quite make out – she is of course struggling with her parent’s death, and she can be quite harsh to her colleagues, and yet there’s something very likeable about her as well. I’m really hoping that Sarah is given the chance to write more in this series, as I feel there’s a lot more to come.

The initial crime happens whilst Marnie is investigating another – as she and her partner arrive to interview the resident of a woman’s shelter, they discover another woman’s husband lying stabbed on the floor. The setting of a woman’s shelter is an interesting one, and allows Sarah to explore to feelings and actions of all involved, and it’s this which adds depth to this story.

This is a well written, polished debut, combining good story telling with characters which grab hold.  Published in Feb 2014, this is one to look out for!

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Early Review: The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard

almost

Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. 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.

I was captivated by this one when I saw the cover reveal, and was lucky enough to receive an early copy to review.  At the heart of the story is Riven, who’s been brought up on a parallel world to be a soldier. She’s highly trained, and hardened to any emotion which may get in the way.

When the Prince becomes ill, he sends her Earth to track down his brother, and this is where the majority of the story takes place. It’s an action packed, fast paced SF tale, with lots of amazing technology and enemies. I love the idea of The Vectors, who are dead bodies controlled by nanorobots – almost indestructible, and working on orders alone, with no emotion.

Towards the end, the story switches to Neospes, a world parallel to ours, and very different. It’s well thought out and described, and it left me wanting to find out more.

There’s also romance, something I tend to avoid – it’s done fairly well in this book, and is an important aspect for Riven, but there were times when the writing seemed a little overdone – but then I’m approaching this book as a 40-something, not a teen.  :)

Overall, this for me is one of the best offerings from Strange Chemistry – SF seems to be a building trend in YA, and this is a brilliant example of how it can work. Put this one on your wishlist!

Published Jan 2014 by Strange Chemistry

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep – the long-awaited and highly anticipated sequel to The Shining. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely!

The Shining has to be my favourite King book, a book that scared silly as a teenager, and then lived up to a second reading when older.  King himself says he’d often wondered two thing: what became of Danny, and what have happened if his father had found Alcoholics Anonymous and lived a different life?

Doctor Sleep looks at both these issues, as the grown-up Dan faces his own alcohol demons, and then learns to tame them with the AA. We get a glimpse of life for the younger Danny, as he and his mother recover from the events of The Overlook, his struggle with alcohol, and then story focuses on a sober Dan. He settles into a job in a nursing home, where he provides help and support to the dying in their last moments.

He then meets Abra, who has the shining far stronger than he ever did, and also comes to know The True Knot, a group of people who travel around searching for people with the shining for sustenance – they kill them, and gain power from the ‘steam’ they give off as they die.

If you’ve not read The Shining, I would highly recommend it before picking up Doctor Sleep – it is possible to read this one on it’s own, but you’d get far more from it after The Shining. However, I don’t think it’s necessary to re-read The Shining if it’s been a while.. as long as you remember the main points (and who wouldn’t with a story so powerful?) you’re good to go!

From my own point of view, I didn’t find Doctor Sleep as scary – the beginning part is the closest to The Shining, and rather unsettling, but King then takes it in a different direction. To me this is a good thing, as this needed to be a sequel which can stand up on it’s own merits, rather than a rehash of The Shining. Dan is a great character, despite his faults and struggles, and Abra is a strong, likeable character.

I stopped reading King for a while, as I couldn’t get into his books, but that has recently changed. Full Dark, No Stars in 2010 showed a King who was back on form (for me, anyway) and this continued with 11.22.63. Doctor Sleep continues this trend and I’m back to waiting impatiently for the next book!

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Linked by Imogen Howson

I’ve come across Imogen’s writing before, and was therefore very pleased when I discovered she was about to publish a YA novel. I pre-ordered, and so hadn’t come across any reviews – all I had to go by was the back of the book..

LINKED
BY BLOOD

LINKED
BY FEAR

LINKED
BY A SECRET WORTH KILLING FOR

I actually missed the bit below which said ‘LINKED will take you beyond our world’ and therefore didn’t expect the setting of the story. I expected twins, some sort of government conspiracy, and being on the run. What I found added up to so much more.

The setting is a far off planet, which has been terraformed. It still seems very much what we’re used to, although there is much more automation and technology – some of which is cleverly done, such as a mother being pleased by her ‘cooking’ although everything is done automatically by various gadgets.

In this world is Elissa, who is being affected by nightmares and visions, which are now causing actual pain and bruises. Taken to various doctors, she is finally booked in for surgery which will apparently fix the problem. Before this can happen, she discovers that they are being caused by her twin, whom she has a connection with, but knows nothing about.

Yes, they do go on the run, but here the space theme continues, as they are helped to escape on a space craft. I shall stop there, and not reveal any more.

Linked falls into the YA category, but it doesn’t talk down to it’s readers, and this 40 year old found plenty to like. The pace is good, the futuristic setting well thought out, and the love interest not too over the top. I’m very much looking forward to the sequel.

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , | Leave a comment

UK Competition – The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones

diaries

Earlier in the year I was sent an early copy of The String Diaries. As it’s a big book, and the publication date was some time off, I took a peek at the beginning, thinking I could read it over a few weeks. Instead, I found myself absolutely gripped, and it took just a few days. It became one of my favourite books so far this year, and I will be recommending it to lots of people!

Thanks to the lovely people at Headline, I’m running a competition to give away three copies of this brilliant book. You don’t have to worry about whether you follow my blog, retweet on twitter, or promise me your first-born – simply visit Headline’s page, and then return and answer one simple question.

Remember, it’s UK only, and the closing date is Sunday 23rd June.

Good Luck!

Categories: Give Aways | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 113 other followers