Author Archives: Michelle

About Michelle

Owner of The Book Club Forum.

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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The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M Valente

TheGirlWhoFellBeneathFairy_Lo

Another great cover, and another long title! ‘The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There‘ follows on from ‘The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making‘, which I reviewed last year. It’s probably not necessary to read the 1st, if you’ve picked up this one, but it would certainly add to the experience, so I would recommend going back if possible.

Both books are quite difficult to describe, and I don’t think my reviews do them justice. They are, in essence, wonderful fairy stories, with some very imaginative creatures and characters. Catherynne’s style is very lyrical, and no matter what strange thing she is describing, the words seem to flow from the page.

Most of the important characters from her earlier adventure are there, but are not themselves. In the world under Fairlyland, she meets their shadows, almost the same, but with differences – some subtle, some not so subtle. Her own shadow, taken from her during that first adventure, is in charge, and September feels that things are not right, and it’s up to her to put it right.

Amongst the strangeness and magic, there are serious themes and truths, and this felt like a more grown up book than the 1st. September is now a young teenager, and throughout her adventure, she somehow manages to go through those usual teen thoughts and situations, including learning to think about others, her plans for her future, and her first kiss.

I don’t see these books mentioned enough, and I think they have the potential to be future classics – younger readers will enjoy the magical strangeness, whilst those a little older will start to see a little deeper. There are many layers, and I’m sure I will find more on re-reading.

Recommended for readers of all ages who enjoy falling into a book and getting lost there.

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Tempest by Julie Cross

Tempest is the first in a YA trilogy, which I would say is aimed more at older teenagers – which also makes it great for us oldies too! I have to sadly admit that if I’d simply glanced at the cover, I would have dismissed this as yet another teen romance book – but once I realised it included time travel, I knew I had to give it a try – and I’m very glad I did!

Our time traveller in Tempest is Jackson, a 19 year old living happily in 2009. Jackson has discovered that he can jump short distances into his past, but his actions there have no impact on the future. As is often said in the book, forget all you think you know about time travel!

He and his friend Adam are carrying out small experiments to find out more about his abilities, and he’s enjoying being with his girlfriend Holly.

This all changes when Holly is shot, and Jackson suddenly finds himself in 2007, apparently with no way back. In a short period of time he realises that there’s more to his father than he previously realised, and that he may be in a lot of danger. He sets out to befriend Adam once again, to gain his help, and to find Holly, who he originally met after 2007.

It’s probably at this point where I felt the most muddled, but I soon settled into what was happening. Unfortunately this is also where for me the story slowed a little – too much time seems spent on Jackson and Holly’s relationship, although it does help you to realise how important their relationship is to him.

After a while though the pace picks up again, and everything becomes quite complex.. but not confusing. Their are hints to what the next book will hold, and it all sounds rather exciting.

Thankfully, for me at least, this wasn’t ‘yet another teen romance’ and yet the relationships, and emotions, are important to the story. The characters are realistic and well written, and I particularly loved the relationship between Jackson and his twin sister.

There’s a bit of everything in this book, and it appeals to both male and female. Even with the slight slow down in the middle, I found myself constantly picking up this book, and my opinion of it has actually grown since reading it. It’s certainly not one of those books you put down and immediately forget about. As with the best trilogies, the main story is wrapped up without a massive cliffhanger, but there are enough hints to make you add the next one straight to your wishlist!

Discover more here, including extra content for 16+

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Gift of Time: A Family’s Diary of Cancer – Rory MacLean


When his mother Joan was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Rory and his wife Katrina invited her to live with them. During this time, they all kept diaries of their time, and in Gift of Time, Rory pulls these entries together, giving a candid insight into a difficult and heartbreaking time.

The majority of entries are from Rory, as he tries to put down in words how his mother’s condition affects every aspect of his life. Katrina’s entries show the wonderful relationship she has with her mother-in-law, and Joan’s give an insight into what remains important to her.

Yes, at times this is a difficult book to read, especially towards the end, but it’s in no way a sugary, heart-string tugging account. Instead it’s very raw and open, with an account of Joan’s changes as the cancer takes hold. It also feels positive, in the way that everyone comes together to deal with the illness and eventual death, as well as the way they are view the world, still enjoying nature and the garden.

For readers who have experienced this for themselves, it should be a very personal decision as to when is the right time to read this. I would imagine it would be very hard if it’s a recent event, but other reviewers have said they’ve found it helpful a few years after – knowing that others had experienced the same as them.

This book is a wonderful tribute to this family, but also to every family who have experienced similar.

Published by Constable and Robinson
Hardback / ebook Aug 2011
Paperback March 2013

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