Author Archives: Michelle

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No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill (Early Review)

Cash-strapped, working for agencies and living in shared accommodation, Stephanie Booth feels she can fall no further. So when she takes a new room at the right price, she believes her luck has finally turned. But 82 Edgware Road is not what it appears to be.

It’s not only the eerie atmosphere of the vast, neglected house, or the disturbing attitude of her new landlord, Knacker McGuire, that makes her uneasy – it’s the whispers behind the fireplace, the scratching beneath floors, the footsteps in the dark, and the young women weeping in neighbouring rooms. And when Knacker’s cousin Fergal arrives, the danger goes vertical.

But this is merely a beginning, a gateway to horrors beyond Stephanie’s worst nightmares. And in a house where no one listens to the screams, will she ever get out alive?

Once again we have a dark and disturbing tale from the pen of Adam Nevill, and it’s one which took me on a roller coaster ride. It’s a difficult book to review without giving any of the plot away, especially at this early stage before publication, so for now I’ll be brief.

It starts with a rather traditional, chilling ghost story, as Stephanie spends her first night in her new room, and starts to experience sounds in her own room, and weeping in other rooms, which she’s sure are unoccupied.

The horror then becomes very real, as her landlord and his cousin show their true, terrifying, violent sides.

Throughout these experiences, Adam does something he did very well in Apartment 16.. he shows the absolute despair and depression felt as Stephanie’s world spirals out of her control, and she feels the full impact of having no-one, and nothing.

I’ll admit, as someone who’s read a LOT of horror in my time, I liked the creepy start much more than the violent aspect, but it was a necessary part of the story, and it didn’t overwhelm the scares.

The last third of the book was my absolute favourite though – I didn’t know where the book was going at this part, but for me it was the scariest part – I almost had to leave the light on a couple of times!

I’ve read Banquet for the Damned, Apartment 16, and The Ritual previously, and to me, Adam managed to bring all the best aspects of these books together in this one. There’s something inside for all sorts of horror readers, along with a critical view of parts of society.

It’s the best I’ve read so far, and I will highly recommend you get hold of it on the 23rd, and read as you approach Halloween! I’d love to chat to some of you about it. :)

Published by PanMacmillan 23/10/14

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The Reviver by Seth Patrick

reviver

Jonah is a Reviver – someone who can revive the dead for a short period of time. In Jonah’s case, he works for a forensic team, so he revives in order to let the victim testify about the events of their death. It’s a well controlled experience, and is used as evidence in courts.

However, during one revival, Jonah experiences something which makes him question exactly what they’re doing.. another presence, which he can’t explain. He’s told it’s just an hallucination, brought about by stress, but Jonah isn’t convinced, and starts to dig deeper. He ends up involved in something much bigger than he expected.

For the majority of the book, this feels like a crime / thriller, with this very interesting twist. The whole issue of Revival is explored, including it’s uses and problems, and it’s this aspect which lifts it well above average. Some reviewers have found the book too slow, but I disagree – there’s a lot of information to give, and aspects of reviving to explore, and I enjoyed this.

Throughout there’s an uneasiness, a suggestion of a supernatural element, and towards the end this becomes more apparent, and there’s a definite switch in the book. I have to admit, this did worry me for a while, because I’ve seen similar books which started to feel.. well, silly. In my opinion though, Seth keeps a realistic tone, and it soon settles into a good ending.

Whilst it would have been possible to keep simply to the idea of forensic revival, I’m not sure how far it could have been taken in the future. I would imagine that the supernatural aspect will feature quite strongly in the next book, and I look forward to finding out where we’re taken next.

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Extinction Game by Gary Gibson

extinction

Science Fiction is an area I dip into occasionally, and Gary Gibson was a new author to me, but when I was offered a copy of Extinction Game to review, something caught my attention, and so I agreed. I wasn’t sure how quickly I’d get to it, but I took a quick peek, and was soon hooked.

The story begins with Jerry Beche, who has managed to survive a deadly world-wide viral attack, and as far as he knows, he’s the only survivor on Earth. Until one day when he’s ‘rescued’, and taken to an island where there are others who have also survived the end of their own alternative Earth. He learns that there an infinite number of alternative Earths, and many of them have had their own apocalyptic event. A small group of survivors have been brought together and trained, and their role is to enter these Earths and rescue data, records, technology etc.

There’s a lot going on from this point – each world the teams visit has it’s own ending or strange future, and Gibson describes each one vividly, including the events leading up to the end of Jerry’s Earth. This was fascinating enough in itself, but we also explore the relationships within the team members, during their visits and in between. They’re an interesting group, with some handling events far better than others.

As well as this, they have to deal with the Authority, the organisation who brought them all together. Who exactly are they, and why do they need the data and technology? Also, where exactly did the ability to enter these other timelines come from?

The mix within this book was just right for me, and I read it within a couple of days. I wanted to find out as much as I could about the alternative worlds, and how it was possible to visit them, but I also found myself invested in the individuals involved, including Jerry. The balance is good, the SF aspect is there, but never weighs down the overall story, and it’s good to see characters being just as important as plot.

I’m going to recommend this one, but maybe especially to those, like me, may be a little wary of Science Fiction. I’m definitely putting some of his other books on my wishlist, and will wait rather impatiently for the sequel.

Visit Tor UK’s blog for some words from Gary, and a free extract.

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The 100 Day 21 by Kass Morgan

This book has to be read after The 100, and if possible, I’d recommend reading them close together. In case you’ve stumbled upon this review, the premise behind The 100 is that it’s set years after a devastating nuclear war on earth, with the last of humanity living on a large spaceship. Those under 18 who commit crimes are kept in Confinement, and then retried on their 18th birthday. 100 of these are sent on a dropship to Earth, to discover whether it’s habitable again.

This book picks up the story 21 days after they’ve arrived, a length of time which could be important if the effects are radiation start to show themselves. At the end of the first book, the teens have discovered that they’re not alone, and that their are in fact other people still living on Earth. Day 21 focuses on the conflict between these two groups as they interact. As with the first book, we still follow Glass, which allows us to keep up with events on the main ship.

I was a little disappointed with the first book, as my expectations were different having heard the TV show discussed on twitter. With this sequel I knew what to expect, and I enjoyed it a lot more. I already knew the characters, and the Earth-born added an extra desirable layer.

As I said in my review of The 100, this is more of a YA read with a touch of SF, whereas the series sounds much darker. If you enjoyed the first book, you definitely need to pick up this sequel. If you weren’t sure about the first, I’d still say give this one a try, as I found it the better book of the two.

 

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The 100 by Kass Morgan

There’s an important issue to mention at the start of this review.. I had heard about the TV series on twitter, and as far as I can tell, this book and it’s sequel are completely different. The show appears to be rather dark, whilst the books are a much lighter YA read.

So…the book is set years after a devastating nuclear war on earth, with the last of humanity living on a large spaceship. Those under 18 who commit crimes are kept in Confinement, and then retried on their 18th birthday. 100 of these are sent on a dropship to Earth, to discover whether it’s habitable again.

The story follows a few of these 100, using short flashbacks to gradually reveal their past. Relationships are explored, both with each other, and in their flashbacks, as they attempt to deal with their new existence.

I’m rather torn about the book, and this may have come down to expectation, as I heard about the TV show first. To me, this is more of a book about teen relationships, and how they deal with these, rather than a SF book about living on a spaceship, and rediscovering Earth. I’m personally not keen on flashbacks, but they are short, and it’s probably the best way to tell the story. Accepted for what it is, however, it’s an enjoyable, rather addictive book. It does end with a cliff-hanger ending, and I was keen to move onto the sequel to find out what came next.

If you have no pre-conceptions, and you’re looking looking for a YA with a touch of SF, then you may enjoy this.

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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.

 

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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

 

 

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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

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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.

 

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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.

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