Posts Tagged With: death

Drawn by Chris Ledbetter

drawn by chris ledbetterTitle: Drawn
Author: Chris Ledbetter
ASIN: B00UGRG8SK
ISBN: 978-1772333763
Publisher: Evernight Teen
First Published: 5 June 2015 (Kindle) / 3 June 2015 (paperback)
No .of pages: 282

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Caught between the sweltering fall landscape of Wilmington, NC beaches and southern illusions and expectations, all sixteen year-old Cameron Shade thinks about is art. That, and for Farrah Spangled to view him as more than just a friend. Cameron hopes he can win her heart through art. After several warm interactions with Farrah, including painting together at the beach, Cameron discovers just how complex Farrah’s life is. Following a tense run-in with Farrah’s father, she forbids Cameron to speak to her again, but Cameron’s convinced there’s more behind the request. To impress Farrah, Cameron sketches her portrait into a mysterious sketchbook. He nearly jumps from his skin when the sketch moves and communicates with him. Farrah is now in grave danger because the sketch he drew of her sucked her real-life’s soul into the sketchbook. Cameron now has twenty days to extract Farrah. To save her, he must draw himself into the book. If he fails… they both die.

Review:
I don’t read an awful lot of teen fiction, but when I do, I only enjoy it if the premise is original and daring and grabs me from the get-go.

Let’s just say, I enjoyed this book!

Chris Ledbetter has done something few have done, and that is to write a teenaged boy with whom I, as a woman (and once, a teenaged girl) can relate. I felt for Cameron, I felt for him deeply, and was able to sink into his emotions and passion for art quite effortlessly. Farrah wasn’t quite so well, ahem, drawn as Cameron, but as she was not the main character, only the focus for Cameron’s growing affections, this was understandable – she was attractive, but as a reader I knew little about her, which was pitched very well, as Cameron didn’t really know all that much about her beyond the basics and his attraction for her.

The premise for the story was cleverly thought out and written with a light touch that lifted it above the ordinary – a heavier hand would have thrown everything out of balance and crushed the plot entirely. Its an unusual take on a Pygmalian-type of fantasy, where an artist brings his work of art to life, and falls in love with her, only Cameron is already falling for Farrah before he creates her Echo.

There was a tinge of sadness about the tale too – Ledbetter doesn’t shy away from the darker and more upsetting trials of teen and family life, and the complications inherent in relationships, whether familial, platonic, or romantic – and that’s refreshing. Yet, it never becomes maudlin – that lightness of touch and tone keeps things buoyant and ensures the reader doesn’t sink into depression while turning the pages. It’s a fine line, but Ledbetter walks it well.

Even if you don’t read young adult/teen fiction, don’t discount this book – it’s worth the effort and may just change your mind!

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

See my interview with the author HERE

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Title: The Hunger Games (Hunger Games 1)
Author: Suzanne Collins
ISBN: 978-1407109084
Publisher: Scholastic
First Published: January 2009
No .of pages: 464

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (from Fantastic Fiction):Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat’s sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

Review:
Oh. My. Gods!

How on earth did I manage to wait so long before picking up the first in this trilogy? I mean, the hype was all over the place, and then the film came out (which I rather enjoyed), but perhaps it was the hype that kept me away. Anyway, I finally succumbed and I am SO glad I did!

From the very first page, I was absolutely hooked. Katniss is such a wonderfully flawed character that we can all see a little of ourselves in her, both good and bad; the situation, which is almost like a teenaged version of  The Running Man, is edge-of-the-seat stuff; and the writing is so good it’s incredibly difficult to put the book down. Although there is some quite horrific violence and death involved, the descriptions are not so graphic that it would make it inappropriate for  younger ten readers – it really is handled superbly so that readers of almost any age can enjoy it.

I got so into it that even though I’m enjoying my current book, I find myself wishing I was was still reading The Hunger Games and I look forward to getting hold of the sequels so I can continue following Katniss – I’m just dying to find out what happens next. My favourite character, however, has to be Peeta – I think I fell in love with him just a little bit. Although Katniss is obviously very close to Gale, I just couldn’t warm to him in quite the same way, but that’s possibly because we don’t get to spend as much tie with him. Perhaps that will change as I get further into the trilogy. Either way, I’ll be reading them very soon!

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Hunger by Jackie Kessler

CONTAINS SPOILERS

Addition: Review e-book from NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

“Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”

Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?

This is the first book in the Horsemen of the Apocalypse series by Jackie Kessler. The first horseman she has chosen is Famine. Lisa is tasked with this job when after months of struggling with bulimia she overdoses on medication her Mum has. Whilst unconscious she is visited by Death, who offers her two choices: die, or live as Famine. In a confused state she chooses the latter. When she wakes up she sees the scales and her horse but thinks she is just having a breakdown. When she finally realises what is going on she is in for a shock. She travels to places were people are gorging on food, and places where children are starving. She has to learn to control her rage, find a way to help those with nothing and face up to, and fight War – a dominating and intimidating lady. Will she ever stop being Famine? What will happen to her and her health if she does?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked Lisa a lot. I felt so sorry that she was having eating-related issues. This is a big problem in Western society, and I think Kessler deals with the issue well – she addresses the way it can manifest, the thoughts the person has, what it can lead to and the effect it has on others. It was thoughtful and provoking. Of course, her solution to the problem, making Lisa famine, isn’t realistic but I thought it was great that Lisa overcomes her problems and is willing to accept help and counselling.

I thought the story was very good. It is full of different, eccentric characters – such as Death, who sat on his horse singing. He just made me laugh! There were some characters who we needed to get to know before we liked – such as Lisa’s Mum, some characters who were a bad influence, such as her bulimic friend and others who were just lovely, like her Dad. This range of characters added depth and interest to the book.

This is a fantasy young adult book, but one I enjoyed very much. It was well written and researched. It took me a couple of days to read through. I laughed, enjoyed the storyline, and could have cried in some places. Really worth reading.

 

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While My Sister Sleeps – Barbara Delinsky

While My Sister Sleeps

 Barbara Delinsky

Harper Collins 2009

Synopsis:

When a woman in her early thirties, oldest of three siblings and a famous successful runner, has a heart attack that leaves her brain-dead and on life support, her family has to make the painful decision of when to pull the plug. Her mother Kathryn is devastated. She cannot accept the truth of Robin’s condition. Molly, Robin’s little sister has grown up in her shadow. But as the family starts to disintegrate she has to become Robin’s voice and in doing so finds her own. Robin’s father lives for his family, and defers to them rather than voicing his own opinion. The book focuses on the definition of ‘brain-dead’ and the religious and moral issues of the right to life.

 Review:

Robin Snow is an Olympic hopeful and potential – she is in the prime of her life, running marathons and races, fully fighting fit when she is suddenly struck down by a heart attack, declared brain dead and on life support.

Her family are understandably devastated – even her younger sister Molly who had growing resentments to being Robin’s training assistant. Her mother Kathryn is losing her firstborn child and cannot bring herself to let her go. Her father is in shock and leaves the decision making to his wife. Her brother Chris has marriage problems and a young daughter, and now has to come to terms with this. On top of all that there is the family run business to keep going, Molly’s threatening eviction, an obsessed journalist ex boyfriend of Robin’s to contend with, Kathryn’s mother’s Alzhiemers disease and a few family secrets that soon come to light.

Although the plot of this book has an inevitable outcome, Delinsky introduces new ‘by-lines’ to make the story more interesting and intriguing – Robin’s true feelings about her mother, her sister and her career discovered through her journals, Molly’s relationship with the man who found Robin collapsed, Chris’ marriage problems and lack of confidence, Kathryn and her husband’s painful family secret, Molly’s relationship with her ailing grandmother, Kathryn’s acceptance of her daughter’s death and subsequent wishes. These keep the storyline going along and make the reader want to continue.

Molly is the main focus of the book, how she lived in the shadow of her famous sister, how she quietly excels at her job, how different she is to her sister and how she competes for her mother’s attention knowing she is not the favourite daughter. Through this family crisis Molly finds her voice, finds out just how much her family do love her, particularly her sister, and learns a lot about herself. She becomes Robins ‘voice’ and helps steer her mother to making the right decisions.

The ending felt quick, a bit left up in the air but maybe that shows how involved I got with the family and the story – a compliment to the writing.

While My Sister Sleeps is an emotional book in which the characters learn more about themselves and their own family – constantly asking who am I, what do I really think…..? It is a story about a family coming to terms with one of the worst things that could ever happen to them and again makes the reader ask their own moral questions about life.

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Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

men at arms

Synopsis from Amazon:

Be a MAN in the City Watch! The City Watch needs MEN!

But what it’s got includes Corporal Carrot (technically a dwarf), Lance-constable Cuddy (really a dwarf), Lance-constable Detrius (a troll), Lance-constable Angua (a woman…most of the time) and Corporal Nobbs (disqualified from the human race for shoving).

And they need all the help they can get. Because they’ve only got twenty-four hours to clean up the town and this is Ankh-Morpork we’re talking about…

Ankh-Morpork is in trouble. There are a series of mysterious murders, a student who wants a king put on the throne and the “Gone”, a very dangerous weapon with a mind of its own. So who is there to solve this mystery? The Night-Watch, consisting of an adopted dwarf, a real dwarf, a werewolf and a troll. How will pan out….?

This is another Discworld classic. It is number 15 in the series. I found this book just as enjoyable as the others. Pratchett’s writing was engaging and inviting. As ever, Ankh-Morpork is described so well that you lose yourself there. The characters have been seen in other books, and were hilarious at times. My favourites were Death, who makes a  couple of appearances, with some very wittyone-liners; Corporal Carrot, a very simple human who was adopted by dwarfs and Gaspode the talking dog. His manipulation of humans was classic. The conversations between Cuddy and Detrius were amusing, as trolls and dwarfs traditionally dislike each other, so they rivalry had to continue for show. Detrius learning to count and his use of numbers had me laughing too. Pratchett is very original with his ideas of a Fools Guild, an Assassin Guild and even a Dog Guild. This is a very well thought out and well written book.

I recommend this book because it is engaging, full of danger, and adventure and hilarious. This is a grea fantasy book and well worth reading.

9/10

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Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs

bones to ashes

Synopsis from Amazon:

Under the microscope, the outer bone surface is a moonscape of craters…

The skeleton is that of a young girl, no more than fourteen years old – and forensic anthropologist Dr Temperance Brennan is struggling to keep her emotions in check.

A nagging in her subconscious won’t let up. A memory triggered, deep in her hindbrain – the disappearance of a childhood friend; no warning, no explanation…

Detective Andrew Ryan is working a series of parallel cases, and requires Tempe’s forensic expertise. Three missing persons, three unidentified bodies – all female, all early-to-mid teens… Could Tempe’s skeleton be yet another in this tragic line of young victims? Or is she over-reacting, making connections where none exist?

Working on instinct, Tempe takes matters into her own hands. But she couldn’t have predicted where this investigation would lead, or the horrors it would eventually uncover… Can Tempe maintain a professional distance as the past catches up with her in this, her most deeply personal case yet?

I have only just started reading crime novels and this is the first Kathy Reich’s book I have read – and it certainly encourages me to read more of this genre and more of her work.

In this novel, Tempe is working with several skeletons – most of them from Ryan’s missing girls and cold cases. Except, it all gets a little personal. When a young girl her friend disappeared without a trace, and Tempe worries that one of the skeletons is her friend. With this in mind, she and her sister start their own investigation, which leads them into danger….

This was an exciting book with plenty of turns and twists and I didn’t work out the ending. It seemed very realistic – full of scientific knowledge and crime knowledge. Reich’s writing is engaging and gripping. She writes about more than just the crimes, there is love and friendship and family explored too, adding depth to an already good book. Through these she is able to explore the characters more fully.

My only complaints were lots of the conversation was in French, which then had to be translated, and there was so much science I didn’t understand! Other than that, this was a good book and well worth reading.

8/10

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Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris

grave-surprise

Synopsis from Amazon:

A bolt of lightning struck Harper Connelly when she was 15, leaving her with a strange spider web of red on her torso and right leg, episodes of weakness, shakes and headaches – and an ability to find dead people. Harper is summoned to Memphis to demonstrate her unique talent, but there are still plenty of sceptics, even as Harper stands atop a grave and announces there are two bodies buried there. The police are convinced there’s something fishy going on when the grave is opened to reveal the centuries-dead remains of a man, which they’d expected (that being his grave, after all) and a dead girl, which no one expected – except Harper, of course. And suspicions are raised even further because Harper had failed to find eleven-year-old Tabitha Morgenstern when she was abducted two years before. Harper and Tolliver need to find the real killer to prove Harper’s innocence, especially after their nocturnal visit to the cemetery in hopes that Harper can sense something more is followed by the discovery, the following morning, of a third dead body in the grave . . .

This is the second book in Harris’ Harper Connelly series – and pretty much as good as the first. There is a reason why I have only heard good things about this series – her writing is exciting and engaging; her characters are realistic and herstorylines, and the suspense as they unfold are perfect.

In this book, we travel from Saines to Memphis with Harper and Tolliver – her step-brother. She is going to give a demonstration of her ability to a group of university students. The old grave yard has a surprise in store for her though – in the oldest, darkest grave, is a recent body. The body, an 11 year old girl called Tabitha, who Harper had been looking for 18 months ago. Coincidence? Harper sets out to find out. Yet the grave has one more surprise for her. When she goes back, another new body is in there. How are the two related? What is the key? Alongside this, Harper learns more about the supernatural and has to struggle with her feelings forTolliver.

There is a lot to this book, yet it reads quickly. It is exciting, thrilling even. I was starting to think there was something deeper between Tolliver and Harper, so I am glad that has started to be explored. There are links back to the previous book, to allow the story to continue, and keeps other storylines open, such as the disappearance of their sister Cameron. I think that is important and very well done.

I liked all the characters. All of them seemed believable. There are issues all of them face, and I like how Harris explores things such as grief and sexual orientation, as well as families and religion.

I read this book in two sittings. You will not want to put it down – it is fabulous, a must-read.

10/10

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My Best Friend’s Girl by Dorothy Koomson

my-best-friends-girl

my-best-friends-girl

Synopsis from Amazon:

What would you do for the friend who broke your heart? Best friends Kamryn Matika and Adele Brannon thought nothing could come between them – until Adele did the unthinkable and slept with Kamryn’s fiance, Nate. Worse still, she got pregnant and had his child. When Kamryn discovered the truth about their betrayal she vowed never to see any of them again. Two years later, Kamryn receives a letter from Adele asking her to visit her in hospital. Adele is dying and begs Kamryn to adopt her daughter, Tegan. With a great job and a hectic social life, the last thing Kamryn needs is a five year old to disrupt things. Especially not one who reminds her of Nate. But with no one else to take care of Tegan and Adele fading fast, does she have any other choice? So begins a difficult journey that leads Kamryn towards forgiveness, love, responsibility and, ultimately, a better understanding of herself.

Meet Ryn, an independent woman, who works long hours and parties hard. Living in Leeds, she tries to distance herself from her past and the life she could have had. Two years before she discovered her best friend Adele and her fiance Nate slept together – the result being Adele’s child Tegan. Swearing to never see or speak to either again, Ryn is shocked when she discovers a birthday card from Adele telling her she is dying. After rushing to London, she realises what Adele’s dying wish is – that Kamryn adopts Tegan. This completely changes her life. She tracks down Tegan at Adele’s father’s house, in a shocking state, and leaves with her. When Adele dies, Ryn faces a long struggle alone. She battles with adjusting her life, getting Tegan to trust her, grief, love, Nate and the issue of adoption.

This is the first Dorothy Koomson book I have read and I really enjoyed it. I was drawn in emotionally and didn’t want to put the book down. What Ryn did deserves a medal – she took in Tegan, having not seen her for two years, even though she reminded her of why she left London and why she hurt so much. I loved Tegan, what a beautiful little girl. My heart ached when we first met her and saw the abuse she had suffered, and when she cried for her Mum, yet she was a bubbly and warm girl who you couldn’t help but fall in love with.

There are so many issues in this book, and Koomson dealt with them all wonderfully. Death, child abuse, adoption, race and love. I didn’t feel let down by the way she wrote these issues, nor how the story turned out. I think Koomson did a superb job.

This is a heart-warming and touching book. I could have cried throughout the whole book. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

9/10

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Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

reaper-man

Synopsis from Amazon:

DEATH IS MISSING – PRESUMED…ER…GONE.

Which leads to the kind of chaos you always get when an important public service is withdrawn.

Meanwhile, on a little farm far, far away, a tall dark stranger is turning out to be really good with a scythe. There’s a harvest to be gathered in…

This is book 11 of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Series. The main character is Death. He retires. The Grey Shadows have come and told him his time is u, so he sets off to the Discworld with his horse Binky. He gets a job as a reaper man on a farm, and goes by the name of Bill Door. He works hard, makes friends by being excellent at being awful and plots a way to fight the new Death. Meanwhile, in Ankh-Morpor, there is too much life force around, bringing items to life, and preventing the dead for moving on. This causes mayhem, an attack of trollies, and wizards going mad.

I found this book to be a little bit like the first in the series, The Colour of Magic – enjoyable, but with maybe a little bit too much going on. With so many characters I sometimes struggled to remember who was who, what they doing, and why. That said, there were areas of the book that just had me laughing out loud. Pratchett’s humour is well captured in this book, as is his sense of imagination, I just found there to be too much taking place.

My favourite Discworld character, right from the start, has been Death. He is great with the one-liners, sarcasm and irony. The other character I really enjoyed in this book was the university’s Dean. I laughed so much when he started going around like a gangster, and how his catch-phrase became “Yo!”. I found myself almost crying with laughter at him.

Overall, I enjoyed this book even though there were times when I was unsure as to what was going on. The comedy in the book made up for any complaints I have. Worth reading if you like Pratchett.

7/10

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Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

Synopsis from Google Books:

Discworld’s pesky alchemists are up to their old tricks again. This time, they’ve discovered how to get gold from silver — the silver screen that is. Hearing the siren call of Holy Wood is one Victor Tugelbend, a would-be wizard turned extra. He can’t sing, he can’t dance, but he can handle a sword (sort of), and now he wants to be a star. So does Theda Withel, an ambitious ingénue from a little town (where else?) you’ve probably never heard of.

But the click click of moving pictures isn’t just stirring up dreams inside Discworld. Holy Wood’s magic is drifting out into the boundaries of the universes, where raw realities, the could-have-beens, the might-bes, the never-weres, the wild ideas are beginning to ferment into a really stinky brew. It’s up to Victor and Gaspode the Wonder Dog (a star if ever one was born!) to rein in the chaos and bring order back to a starstruck Discworld. And they’re definitely not ready for their close-up!

This is the tenth book in the Discworld series, and in my opinion, one of the best, alongside Mort, which was hilarious.

In this adventure we see the creation of Moving Pictures, basically films. This is Pratchett’s take on the creation of the movie world. Set in Holy Wood, the alchemists have created something dangerous and enchanting.  People rush to Holy Wood from all over the Discworld to seek fame and fortune – but something is not right. As Victor gets drawn into the fray, him and his co-star Ginger find out the secret danger that is Holy Wood, and with the aid of Laddie and Gaspode, a talking dog, they have to save the day.

This book is incredibly funny. Pratchett is subtle and sly with his humour and mocking of Hollywood. We see the characters chasing fickle dreams and destruction. As ever, the books are engaging and exciting. There was adventure and some heart stopping moments. Pratchett does not fail to catch the imagination and like with the other books I was quickly and easily transported to the Discworld.

As in the other books, Death features. He seems to be the most regular character, and as always he made me laugh. I loved it when he was in the bar drinking, very funny. Gaspode was probably my favourite of the new characters. His dry humour and sarcasm were great reading. There were so many funny characters andstory lines in this book. I loved the troll, Rock and his aim for fame, and the troll Ditritus and how he tried to date Ruby, and I think the funniest part of the book for me was when the senior wizards were sneaking out of the university like naughty students.

This is a great book. I highly recommend it. There is action, film, adventure, love, trolls, dwarfs, talking animals, wizards and Death, alongside fire, hidden cities and Dibler, the man always out to make a fast profit. I can’t think of a complaint for this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

9/10

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