Posts Tagged With: fantasy

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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The Great Destruction Book 1 by Melanie Ray

About the Book by Author:

My book is both a comedy and a tragedy. If you are looking for a lighthearted read, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for intense drama on every page with seriousness, you won’t find it there either. If you’re looking for something that shows the tragedies of real life along with the comedy that is also real life, you’ll find yourself rooted in a world you cannot turn away from. And yes, it’s a fantasy but that doesn’t mean there have to be wizards, elves, dragons and fairies. Well…elves I don’t know. The aliens are between 3-4 feet tall. I guess I’ll give into that.

The first novel of The Great Destruction Series, ‘In the Beginning’ introduces us to the different lives of our alien characters. The first you meet is Yed, who is a smooth guy. I’d say Mr. Cool, but he’s not invincible, and he has a touch of something that keeps him from running amok saying how great he really is. He has a past (not fully revealed in book 1) that keeps him from getting too cocky. He ends up in a difficult situation when he is set up by his own Kingdom to have intimate relations with a woman he met once. (Pheromones: Powerful, like the Axe effect.) Only thing is he is a Protector and is not allowed to associate with any female romantically. Females…are their clients. Things get even harder when he realizes she was his childhood friend, Ezra. He ends up being allowed to be her Protector if he does not say anything about the Kingdom. If he does, its treason and he will receive a painful death.


My Review:

I loved this book. I read it in one sitting – every time I went to get up I couldn’t because I wanted to read more! The story follows Yed, who lives on the planet Fala. He is a Protector, but he has perfect lineage so he is set up by the King to have relations with someone else with pure lineage. The problem is, the Female is an old family friend. He has an important decision to make: keep the secret or commit treason. And on top of that, a war breaks out!

This is a fantastic read. I loved the world of Fala – although it is fairly similar to Earth. It was interesting to read Earth as the  alien planet – and how Yed and co. weren’t too keen on going there! I think Ray wrote a great story. She incorporates fantasy with comedy and romance. I didn’t find the love story over-powering and I would not class this as “chick-lit” because there is the fantasy and the comedy.I was interested in how the story unfolded and the decisions people, especially the King made. There is a whole range of ideas throughout the story – from keeping the pure lineage to the war with the Waryes’.

I liked all the characters, especially Yed. He was funny and strong-headed. His reactions to people often made me laugh. I also liked how once he found out he was cheated by the King he was determined to find a way to make it right. I liked Ezra – the other cheated character. She was sensible and sensitive and easily likeable. There are a whole range of characters who make this very readable.

Overall I loved this book. Like I said, I read it in one sitting and was hooked right from the start. This is not the usual genre I read but I loved this fantasy book. There were some great story lines throughout the book and wonderful characters. I loved Fala and the idea of the two tribes, the Warno’s and the Waryes’. I have nothing bad to say about this book and I cannot wait for the next one! Top marks from me

5/5

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The Child Thief by Brom

The Child Thief by Brom
Rating: 5/5
You might like this if you like: The Plucker by Brom; The Devil’s Rose by Brom; Peter Pan by J M Barrie; dark, twisted fantasy novels

Synopsis:
In the vein of Gregory Maguire’s bestselling works, the award-winning artist Brom takes us on a haunting look at the true world of Peter Pan, in his first full-length novel. From modern day New York to the dying land of Faerie, “The Child Thief” reveals the world of Peter Pan through the eyes of an insecure runaway who is seduced by Peter’s charm. But any dreams of a fairy wonderland are quickly replaced by the reality of life and death survival as Peter’s recruits are forced into a lethal battle in which the line between good and evil is blurred.

Review:
Wow! Just… wow!

I was already a fan of Brom through his illustrated novels (The Plucker and The Devil’s Rose), but his first full-length novel, The Child Thief succeeded in completely blowing my mind.

Looking at the darker undercurrents of the Peter Pan story, Brom has worked his twisted magic and woven a tale that melts folklore, myth and legend into the story of the boy who never grew up, and the result is nothing short of stunning.

Brom has a rare talent with both words and pictures, and although there are fewer examples of the latter in this novel, those that appear are breathtakingly beautiful and perfectly suited to this retelling of one of the world’s best-loved pieces of children’s literature. And this version is strictly for the grown-ups! The pages are drenched in mayhem as Brom’s sociopathic Peter “steals” children from our world to take to Avalon and fight with him in a quest that seems unwinable. But their battles aren’t just with the Flesheaters – they’re with each other and with themselves as the children (in particular, Nick) try to work through their own adolescent problems.

This is perhaps the most accessible of Brom’s written works, and will hopefully entice people who don’t usually read graphic or illustrated novels, as once a reader has seen Brom’s artwork and read his flowing prose, they will surely fall completely in love and will spill over to his other works.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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The Truth by Terry Pratchett

Synopsis from www.terrypratchett.co.uk:

William de Worde is the accidental editor of the Discworld’s first newspaper. Now he must cope with the traditional perils of a journalist’s life � people who want him dead, a recovering vampire with a suicidal fascination for flash photography, some more people who want him dead in a different way and, worst of all, the man who keeps begging him to publish pictures of his humorously shaped potatoes.

William just wants to get at THE TRUTH. Unfortunately, everyone else wants to get at William. And it’s only the third edition…

The Truth is Terry Pratchett’s 25th Discworld novel.

This is an Industrial Revolution Discworld novel; number 25 in this wonderful series. These Industrial Revolution novels include Moving Pictures, which was a good read. This too, was a funny, enjoyable read. It is the start of the Ankh-Morpork newspaper, which is more sinister than it sounds, as people believe what they read to be truth and of course, someone is trying to frame Lord Vetinari for murder and the newspaper, led by William, is attempting to get the truth and print it.

I do enjoy the Industrial Revolution novels. This one made me laugh with all the “-ing” characters. The Watch feature in this book, and it made me laugh that Nobby is so peculiar to look at that William thought he was werewolf. Gaspode, the talking dog is also a key character and I love him and the way he manipulates humans.

This novel had attempted murder, competition and fire. There are great characters, and as ever, Pratchett writes a gripping novel that sucks you in and gets you hooks. He is descriptive, sarcastic and full of wit. If he can mock it, he does. He just makes me laugh and I do enjoy this series immensely. Although this is not one of my favourite novels I am yet to find a novel I didn’t like. Like usual, I recommend this book and the whole series.

4/5

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The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett

the fifth elephant

Synopsis from www.terrypratchett.co.uk:

SAM VIMES IS A MAN ON THE RUN. YESTERDAY HE WAS A DUKE, A CHIEF OF POLICE AND THE AMBASSADOR TO THE MYSERIOUS, FAT-RICH COUNTRY OF UBERWALD.

Now he has nothing but his native wit and the gloomy trousers of Uncle Vanya (don’t ask). It’s snowing. It’s freezing. And if he can’t make it through the forest to civilization there’s going to be a terrible war.

But there are monsters on his trail. They’re bright. They’re fast. They’re werewolves – and they’re catching up.

The Fifth Elephant is Terry Pratchett’s latest instalment in the Discworld cycle, this time starring dwarfs, diplomacy, intrigue and big lumps of fat.

This is number 24 in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. This book features The Watch, vampires, were wolves and dwarfs. Again, Sam Vimes finds himself leaving Ankh Morpork to go to foreign parts. There is a dwarf coronation set to take place, but things are not right. There are murders, stolen scones, and Vimes gets himself arrested.

This was another enjoyable Discworld novel. Again, not one of my favourites but still a good read. There were times I found myself laughing out loud – especially in regards to the dwarf who made contraception, but there were times when I was losing concentration. One thing I love about Pratchett however is he always pulls me back in to the story. I found myself enjoying the fight scenes, laughing at the vampires and being annoyed at the were wolves.

I loved Vimes’ wife Sybil. I think I laughed every time spoke – but I particularly liked her at the end when she got angry. I was sat cheering her on. I loved Captain Carrot too, and was really sad when he got hurt. And to have Colon in charge of the Watch was genius writing; but I did think Pratchett could have added in more Colon parts in the story.

I recommend all the Discworld books, and although this is not the best in my opinion I still enjoyed it and would recommend it. This is just an awesome series of books.

8/10

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Nellie Darling and the Legend of Nasty by L G Wilkinson

I am always picking up pieces of Hertfordshire puddingstone and therefore was delighted to come across a book that uses this piece of geology as one of its central themes. That, coupled with the fact that I collect books within books, made this a must read for me. I am so pleased that I purchased a copy as it’s a fabulous read and one that I am sure will enchant readers of all ages. The story starts with a group of teenagers chanting round a large boulder of Hertfordshire Puddingstone. Suddenly they find themselves back in time and it gradually dawns on them that they are now in 1857. They discover that Nellie is the Keeper of a powerful book that must remain safely out of the hands of the evil Boabahn Sith. As their adventure unfolds they encounter all manner of magical events and beings – amongst them vampires, witches, shape shifters and telepathy. The teenagers need to protect the book – and each other – as well as figuring out a way to get back to their own time.  To find out if they manage this you are going to have to read the book.  Believe me, you won’t be sorry. Wilkinson’s writing style flows smoothly along and the excitement slowly builds until the reader is unable to put the book down until the last page. (I have a feeling that this isn’t the last we hear of Nellie and her friends. )

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The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

Synopsis from Amazon:

When a Victorian scientist propels himself into the year 802,701 AD, he is initially delighted to find that suffering has been replaced by beauty, contentment and peace. Entranced at first by the Eloi, an elfin species descended from man, he soon realises that this beautiful people are simply remnants of a once-great culture – now weak and childishly afraid of the dark. They have every reason to be afraid: in deep tunnels beneath their paradise lurks another race descended from humanity – the sinister Morlocks. And when the scientist’s time machine vanishes, it becomes clear he must search these tunnels, if he is ever to return to his own era.

In Victorian London, a man known only as The Time Traveller has beaten the odds and made a time machine. He transports himself to the year 802,701 to find out what the world will be like in the future. He discovers two races, the fearful Eloi and the scary Morlocks. It seems the latter, who hide in the darkness of the underground tunnels have taken his time machine. The Time Traveller has to go on quite an adventure to relocate his ticket home.

This was a quick book, and fairly enjoyable, however, Wells makes quite a dire prediction of the future. He writes that humans will split into two races: one will be childish and the other evil. I did not relate to the characters well, yet I wanted to know what happened. Some people have referred to this book as a social commentary but for me it was an adventure book. The Time Traveller had dark roads to travel and all sorts of beings to fight if he wished to get to his era.

I think it is clear why it is a classic. It has elements of excitment and it Wells has thought outside the box to write this book. Although not the best classic around I think this is a book worth reading.

7/10

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Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees

Date of Publication: 1926 (my edition: 2001, Cold Springs Press)

Number of Pages: 239

Synopsis (from back cover): Lud-in-the-Mist, the capital city of the small country Dorimare, is a port at the confluence of two rivers, the Dapple and the Dawl. The Dapple has its origin beyond the Debatable Hills to the west of Lud-in-the-Mist, in Fairyland. In the days of Duke Aubrey, some centuries earlier, fairy things had been looked upon with reverence, and fairy fruit was brought down the Dapple and enjoyed by the people of Dorimare. But after Duke Aubrey had been expelled from Dorimare by the burghers, the eating of fairy fruit came to be regarded as a crime, and anything related to Fairyland was unspeakable. Now, when his son Ranulph is believed to have eaten fairy fruit, Nathaniel Chanticleer, the mayor of Lud-in-the-Mist, finds himself looking into old mysteries in order to save his son and the people of his city.

Review: This is a very delightful story, and one that meets every reader’s expectations of what should happen. In terms of good versus evil, right versus wrong, innocent versus guilty, every expectation is met. One may think that this sort of predictability would make the story dull and stale, but in fact, it elevates the story to a higher plane.

One of the most important themes in Lud-in-the-Mist is the unreality of our reality. Life is a story that we have control over. If we have control, why shouldn’t the innocent be vindicated and the guilty punished? Mirrlees points out, rather uncomfortably, that we has humans, choose to believe in what we believe in, but nothing is at all certain. Is Fairyland a myth, or our all-important belief in Law and Order actually a myth? Our hold on reality is tenuous at best, and in order to regain control, sometimes we must choose to believe in things once cast aside, which is exactly what Nathaniel Chanticleer does.

One of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, wrote the foreword to Lud-in-the-Mist writes that this book “is, most of all, a book about reconciliation – the balancing and twining of the mundane and the miraculous.” Mirrlees achieves this balancing act superbly, and she deserves a much higher place among the ranks of modern fantasy writers. I recommend this book to any fan of fantasy, or to anyone looking for a great story that helps to disrupt the monotony of daily life.

One warning: the Cold Springs Press edition, which is the most common, is fraught with typos. Please be patient when reading.

Rating: 8/10

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Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Date of Publication: 2005, HarperTorch

Number of Pages: 384

Synopsis (from back cover): Fat Charlie Nancy’s normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn’t know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother.

Now brother Spider’s on his doorstep – about to make Fat Charlie’s life more interesting…and a lot more dangerous.

Review: Anansi, one of the gods featured in Gaiman’s American Gods, is a spider god who owns all the world’s stories. This is probably the most important thing to understand about him. His son, Fat Charlie, though, is a man who doesn’t even live his own story. When Anansi dies and Charlie meets his brother, he is forced to face the two parts of himself: the part that is Fat Charlie and the part that is Spider, who lives a life Fat Charlie could only dream of.

This story is many things all at once. In a way, it’s a coming of age story (even though Fat Charlie is an adult). It’s also a story about families, love, and the nature of life and death. It’s a thriller, with its own maniacal killer, and it’s a story about the history of the world and how we came to understand it, mainly through Anansi’s stories. It’s fast-paced, moving, hilarious, and scary. I would recommend this book not only to fans of modern fantasy, but also to anyone who simply wants to read a great story.

Rating: 10/10

Reviewed by Sarah

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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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