Author Archives: Michelle

About Michelle

Owner of The Book Club Forum.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

This is s difficult book to review – I need to express how much I loved it, but I don’t want to give too much of the story away.

When the aliens arrived, nothing was as they expected, no little green men, no flying saucers, in fact there was no contact at all. Instead, the attacks came in waves – the first was simply to cut the power, the 2nd was a tsunami along every single coastline, killing three billion. The 3rd wave was a deadly virus, killing a further four billion. During the 4th wave, the remaining survivors began to kill each other, trusting no-one. The final few are now alone, anticipating the 5th and final wave.

The story mainly centres on Cassie and Ben, two survivors who paths take very different turns. Cassie is 14, and her story does brings in the YA aspects such as first kiss, and falling in love, but it’s all part of the story, and is done well. Her position as a teenager does give us an interesting view of how people react when the spaceship first arrives, and then when the power goes out, and her character grows as her world changes around her.

Ben is rescued by the military, and then taught how to fight, and from here the story begins to darken. We are shown an army of small children and teenagers, and the influence of Ender’s Game (which I also loved) is apparent.

Both of these young people have to learn that no-one can be trusted, whilst also learning it’s impossible to do be alone. Despite their new lives, and the on-going mistrust, they both find people to love and fight for.

What I can’t describe fully is the full impact of this book – it grab holds of you and won’t let go. It’ll tear you apart at times, but it won’t let go. It’s impossible to put down, and leaves a big gap when you’re done. It comes to a conclusion, but it’s not the end, and I’m going to be very impatiently waiting for the next instalment.

This book really doesn’t fit neatly in a genre – yes, there is YA, dystopia and sci-fi, but they are all parts of the total. It has some very dark moments, but also some moments which make you smile. I felt as if I was taking the journey with the characters, and you can feel and understand their mistrust and fear.

My advice would be to ignore the genres, ignore the detailed reviews which spell out the story, and ignore the hype. If it interests you just a little bit, read it – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

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Blink of an Eye by Cath Staincliffe

Following a family barbecue on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Naomi and Alex are driving home when they are involved in a fatal car crash – Alex suffers from broken bones, Naomi almost dies, and is left with no memory, and a young nine-year-old girl is knocked off her bike and killed. To make matters worse, Naomi’s sister Suzanne insists her younger sibling had been drinking too much, and shouldn’t have been driving.

The story starts at the barbecue, and is told from alternative points of view – Carmel, Naomi’s mother, and Naomi herself. Carmel is convinced her daughter would not have driven when drunk, which puts her at odds with her oldest daughter, who can’t forgive Naomi for what she’s done. During her parts of the story, we also learn about her own background, as well as insights into the sister’s relationships.

Naomi’s part is told from when she first wakes after the accident, dealing first with physical issues, and then the emotional ones. This for me was one of the strengths of the stories, being with Naomi as the full weight of the accident bears down on her.

I have to admit that for me, the first half of the story was the weakest – the accident didn’t have the impact I expected it to, and I couldn’t connect that well with Carmel as she reflected on her early life. I was glad I stayed with it though, because the second half had me enthralled. I had an idea at this half way stage as to where the story may go, and I stayed up far to late to finish the book and find out if I was right.

Cath Staincliffe takes instances which could happen to any of us, and takes us into it’s depths – you can’t help but wonder how you would feel and respond in the same situation, and characters are real and believable. Her experience as a script-writer also shines through – this would work brilliantly as a TV drama, and I would love to see it brought to life.

Blink of an Eye is published by CRCrime

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Deadlands by Lily Herne

Deadlands is a YA book set in South Africa, somewhere in the near future. Most of Cape Town is now infested with zombies, and those unaffected live in enclaves, protected by the mysterious Guardians.

It starts with Lele attending the funeral of her grandmother, which takes a unusual turn when the Guardians arrive to take the body out to the Deadlands, where she will turned into a zombie by the existing ones. In addition, a lottery is held yearly, when teenagers are chosen to be taken by the Guardians, although no one knows why.

Lele now has to go and live with her father and step-mother, and start attending a new school, all of which provides some of the usual YA storylines. As the story develops she also has to deal with her attraction to two different boys. It’s interesting to see these usual YA themes wrapped up in a dystopian zombie story, but it works well.

When Lele is chosen by the lottery, she decides to escape, and find her way through the Deadlands – during this time she makes some new friends who teach her how to fight the zombies, and show her that there is a different way. Meanwhile things are changing within the enclaves, and she has to decide which path is the right one.

The level of threat is just right from the zombies – whilst it’s always there, it’s not too scary or gory for teen readers. As an older reader, I found it a pleasant change from other zombie books I’ve recently been reading, and I found myself captured by the story. The relationship aspect is well done, and isn’t too overpowering, and there are some interesting characters to explore. Lele’s story continues in Death of a Saint later this year, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Deadlands is published by Much-In-Little, April 2013

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Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting

Dead Silence is the 4th book in The Body Finder series, and if you’re new to it, it’s important to go back and read these in order.  The Body Finder introduces us to Violet, a young girl with an unusual ability – she can sense ‘imprints’ on murdered bodies, as well as a matching imprint on the people who have killed them, and you can read my full review here.

This first book lays the foundations, and brings some interesting concepts and ideas. It’s the first YA book I’ve come across with a serial killer, and is an excellent introduction to the crime / thriller genre for teen readers.

By the 3rd book, The Last Echo, Violet joins a group of similar young people, with varying abilities, which adds a brilliant new layer to the story. The characters are all interesting and believable, and the love story and relationships appear very real. The serial killer aspect is also amped up, with an author who knows how to write creepy.

It’s difficult to review Dead Silence without giving away spoilers. Violet finds her grandmother’s diaries, which teach her more about her ability, and also about Dr Lee, who readers will remember from the end of The Last Echo.  Violet’s relationships continue to develop and change, and it’s this which adds a very human touch in contrast to the evil they’re exposed to. Once again Kimberley brings a chilling killer, and there’s no holding back!

The Body Finder series has, for me, gotten better with each book, and I’m so disappointed that Kimberley doesn’t intend to continue it. However, whilst there are no cliffhangers or unfinished threads, it does end in a way which leaves us with hope. I’m sure there is more to tell, even if Kimberley explores the stories of the other characters.

For fans of the series, you’ll want to go and get this final book as soon as you can, and it won’t disappoint. For YA readers who haven’t yet tried The Body Finder, go and find it, you have a great series ahead!

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Zombie Apocalypse created by Stephen Jones

Despite reading and watching a lot of horror, I’ve always avoided Zombies, as they were the one thing which really made me, well, scared. Having gotten into The Walking Dead recently, I seem to have overcome that fear, and now seem to be making up for lost time!

Zombie Apocalypse was one of my recent purchases, along with World War Z, which I haven’t yet read. Both of these books seem to be made up of various accounts of events, using transcripts etc, but I have a feeling they are rather different in their approach. Obviously I can’t say for sure until I read it, but I get the impression that World War Z is meant to be more serious, whereas Zombie Apocalypse has a rather dark humour running through. I’ve seen reviews comparing them, but they really need to be assessed in their own strengths.

Zombie Apocalypse is a ‘mosaic’ book, made of various accounts, taking us from before the zombies, to it’s outcome. There are news reports, diary entries, police reports etc, but it’s been bought up to date with twitter conversations, emails and blog entries. Although it follows a rough timeline, the stories don’t connect – it does read like a collection which has been pulled together.

These accounts have different authors, and that does show. It also means that the different styles will be liked or disliked by various readers. I for one found the blog entries caused me the most amusement (people really will blog about anything!) and the diary entries from a 13 year old girl were my overall favourites. I also enjoyed the setting, which is mainly London – it’s always good for us UK readers to see something set where we know.

Reviews appear mixed for this one, and I guess I can see why. Personally speaking, I found it highly enjoyable, and loved the unusual style. It’s not to be taken seriously, and you’re bound to have sections which you prefer over others. There’s a lot to recommend it though, and I shall be looking out for the second book, Zombie Apocalypse Fightback.

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Early Review: The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones

diaries

The String Diaries will be published in July, but some lovely person in Headline sent out some early review copies in March. It comes in at just under 675 pages, so I expected it to take me a while. However, I took a peek at the first chapter, and was hooked. Impossible to leave alone for too long, I found myself picking it up whenever I could, and so I now bring you a brief, early review.

Headline has provided the first chapter here, along with nice large picture of the cover. We’re immediately introduced to Hannah Wilde, who’s driving to a cottage in Snowdonia, with her daughter in the back, and her severely injured husband in the seat beside her.

Chapter two takes us back to Oxford in 1979, where we meet Charles Meredith, as he finds himself attracted to, and intrigued by a beautiful French woman.

After going back and forth for a while, the book then takes us all the way to 1873 Hungary, where a young man is preparing for his first vegzet, a coming of age ball. Things don’t go as planned, and events are set into motion which will affect many people for many years.

These three strands come together perfectly, with each being so well paced that you don’t feel jolted during the transitions. Stephen brings us some great characters, from the amazingly strong Hannah, to the very dark, twisted Jakab. Travelling from an dark history, to a frightening now, The String Diaries needs to go on your wishlist!

Find out more by visiting facebook.com/StringDiaries and following #StringDiaries

Verify everyone

Trust no one

If in any doubt, run

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Emilie & the Hollow World by Martha Wells

Emilie & the Hollow World is yet another great book from Strange Chemistry, a YA imprint which seems to be offering a varied selection of books and authors. Martha Wells is an established Fantasy writer, who has now started a YA series.

Whilst attempting to run away from home, Emilie finds herself on a ship – with a very unusual destination. As a protective bubble appears over the ship, it goes underwater, and then enters the ‘Hollow World’.. ie the world inside our own earth. She learns more about the machinery and magic which makes this possible, as well as the fight to control it and publish the knowledge.

Although we see very little of Emilie’s world, it has a Victorian feel when she talks about it, and it has a sense of Journey to the Centre of the Earth about it. The Hollow World obviously has a long history, with empty half-submerged cities, and I would have liked a little more of this history told. However, the focus is on Emilie’s adventures, as they discover a race of people who are divided and close to war, encounter strange and dangerous foes, all whilst trying to sort out their own differences, and return home.

Emilie herself is a great character, who develops and grows, whilst finding she’s stronger then she thought. She has a knack of getting on with everyone, and she makes some interesting new friends. I was pleased to see that she will be returning for a second adventure, in Emilie and the Sky World.

Emilie and the Hollow World is at it’s heart an adventure story, with a fast pace, and very readable. I was also pleasantly surprised to find there was no romantic twist, something which seems mandatory in YA. Due to its style, this would suit confident younger readers, as well as older teenagers. There’s also nothing stopping older readers enjoying it too, especially if you enjoy books to get lost in.

Published by Strange Chemistry April 2013

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Fractured by Teri Terry

Fractured is the second book in a trilogy, following on from Slated. I’ve just been searching for my review of Slated, but surprisingly I didn’t write one! I did find this comment in my book forum book log though:

This book had me completely grabbed, and I loved the majority of it. However, just as the answers started to come, it finished, leaving everything in the air for the next book. I feel as if I’ve been cheated out of the ending, and I have to wait for the next book. Which is a shame, as I loved most of it.

I have to say, that having read Fractured, all is forgiven, and and I can see now that Slated had to finish somewhere, and that was probably the best place.

For those of you new to the trilogy, it’s set somewhere in our fairly-near future. Following riots and a near collapse, the government are very much in control, and under 16’s perceived as criminals are ‘slated’, meaning that their minds and memories are completely wiped, supposedly to give them a new start.

During Slated, it becomes apparent that Kyla isn’t like other around her who have been slated, she has trouble keeping her emotions as they should be, and has disturbing dreams which seem to be about her past. As I said above, towards the end of the book we start to get some answers, but not enough!

Fractured picks up straight after this, as she deals with the aftermath of her actions in the previous book. Things are very different now, and she’s starting to learn more about her past, and the past of the country. People step into her life from the past, and they constantly make her question what she remembers, and who she is.

One thing I noticed was I didn’t need to go back and read, or even skim, Slated, as I often want to do with previous books. Teri has that knack of reminding you want happened, without making you feel she’s telling the story all over again. Fractured has an even faster pace, and for me contained so much more – Kyla grows and develops throughout, and the story makes you question what you think and feel as you go along.

Fractured feels as if it’s finished at a more natural place, leaving me to take a few deep breaths whilst I wait for the final instalment. If Slated has passed you by, this is a good time to pick up both books. I tend to find the middle book of a trilogy to be my least favourite, as it’s usually moving the story towards the finale. In this case though, I found Fractured to be even better than it’s predecessor – Teri, the pressure is on for a fantastic finish! ;)

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Unremembered by Jessica Brody

A sixteen year old wakes up as the only survivor of an air crash, with no memory of who she is, or where she’s come from. The media latch on to her unusual coloured eyes, and she takes on the name Violet. Fostered by a family and their teen son, she starts to realise that there are other unusual things about her. She meets a mysterious boy who claims to know who she is.. but who can she trust?

It’s an interesting premise to start a story with, and could have gone in lots of different directions. I thought I had it worked out at one point, only to find out my ideas weren’t quite accurate – and then the story developed well beyond what I imagined.

The story itself draws you in from the beginning, and continues to be fast paced. It’s continuously moving and evolving, and should keep even reluctant readers engaged. The characters are also well developed, with ‘Violet’ herself being believable as she tries to work out who she is and what’s happening to her. There’s romance, but never does it take over from the story.

Unremembered is an exciting blend of mystery, thriller and science fiction. It’s the first in a new YA Trilogy – for me, the story was wrapped up enough to be satisfying, but has also left me anxious for second book, a hard balance to achieve. An excellent addition to the YA market – highly recommended!

Find out more on Jessica’s site, then read it quick!

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Noah’s Child by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt


Noah’s Child is a short book, just under 140 pages, and is part of a series about childhood and religion. It tells the story of Joseph, a 7 year old Jewish child separated from his parents when threatened by the Nazis. He ends up being taken to an orphanage, where he is instructed how to become someone else.

He is looked after by Father Pons, whom, he discovers, has set out to collect and record all can about being a Jew. He tells Joseph he is trying to save it, in the same way that Noah saved humans and animals during the flood. Joseph and Father Pons develop a wonderful connection as he starts to help him.

It is told from the point of view of Joseph himself, and it manages to portray how events may have been viewed by a child – on it’s surface it’s a simple story of survival, but the horrors are lurking underneath. There are also some lovely, simple discussions about religion and faith.

It’s a short, simple story, but one which will touch and stay with you.

Published by Atlantic Books Feb 2013

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