Archive for June, 2013

codebreakerZac Darke is a 15 year old spy and counter-terrorist. Dealing with a bomber who strikes randomly in London you can see where the inspiration comes from. Zac has to unravel the code that will tell him where the bomber will strike next, the one person who could help is shot and in a coma.

Third in the series but you don’t have to have read the others. This series is a darker version of Cherubs by Muchamore, and similar to the Alex Rider series by Horowitz, where a teenager is recruited by the government because terrorists wouldn’t consider a teenager to be a spy.

The deaths of people on the London Underground and elsewhere, are quite graphic and I would certainly make a note of this before recommending it to any reader.

Red Fox

Supplied by Random House

Reviewed by Maree

until youre mineClaudia Morgan-Brown leads a privileged life in Edgbaston with her husband, James, and two stepsons.  Heavily pregnant, with a busy job and James at sea a lot, she needs help with the twins.  Their ad for a live in nanny is answered by Zoe, who has impeccable references and seems ideal.  Zoe has a secret though, and a deep desire for a baby of her own.

Lorraine Fisher is a Detective Sergeant currently hunting a killer who targets heavily pregnant women and cuts the baby from them.  She’s working with her husband Adam, another cop.  Their marriage is shaky and the gruesome crimes aren’t helping to restore it.

This is very well plotted and the characters come to life.  As the story unfolds you see how everything is interconnected and it s very clever.  There’s a real twist in the ending of this gripping thriller.  I was expecting one story and got another, better one.  I love being surprised at the ending as I did not expect how the story wound up.  The last line was chilling and I urge people to read it.  If you enjoy physiological thrillers and authors such as Tess Gerritson, Jilliane Hoffman, and Karin Slaughter, you’ll love this book.

Century

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

a consellation of vital phenomenaIn 2004 Chechnya was in the middle of a war with Russia for independence – and control of the oil supply.

After the Russians Feds come for Dokka in the middle of the night, his 8 yr old daughter Havaa hides to escape them.  Burning his home to the ground, they take him to the Landfill – a pace people don’t come back from.  His neighbour and friend Akhmid takes her to the only person he knows who might hide her, a doctor running the nearby hospital, Sonja.

Sonja left a fiancé and brilliant job in London to return to Chechnya. She’s searching for his sister Natasha, who disappeared from Chechnya after escaping a brothel in Italy.  Akhmid, a poorly trained doctor, bargains to help Sonja in the hospital if she helps to hide Havaa.  The Russian Feds are searching for her……

The story slowly unfolds, jumping from the present day to flashbacks explaining events leading up to now.  Each chapter is marked by the year and the story is told by different characters.  Glimpses of the future for random characters were also given.  The descriptions of living in a war zone are vivid and horrific; you can see the dust from the rubble and taste the desolation in the air.  The story fits together well and you eventually see how events intertwine.

I found this book slow at first and now know more about performing amputations than I want to.  The story was well written and compelling though; I had to read more to find out why.  I’m glad I did as most of the questions I had were answered.

Hogarth

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

the great gatsbyThe narrator, Nick Carraway, moves to West Egg in the twenties (read Long Island, NY), next door to the wealthy but shady Jay Gatsby. Tom and Daisy Buchannan (Daisy is Nick’s cousin) live in the flasher East Egg. Nick makes friends with Gatsby, who wants Nick to get his cousin to one of Gatsby’s legendary parties, as they used to be an item before she married the loutish Tom, who is already running around on her. However Tom does like the fact that Daisy would rather be with Gatsby and outs him as a bootlegger. When Daisy, driving Jay’s car, accidently runs over and kills Tom’s mistress, Tom tells her husband that it was Gatsby driving and gets Gatsby shot and killed.

It’s a different world. You want to slap these people for being so uptight and hide-bound by convention but that is how it was, even in the riotous and scandalous twenties. Jay Gatsby may have made his money by distinctly shady means but his determination to woo back the woman he loves, conflicts with the very real desire to not tarnish her reputation.

It was never going to end well. A commentary on days long past and a salutary note that however much we like to think people have become more enlightened, they really have not.

Vintage

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

Itch Rocks – Simon Mayo

Posted: June 20, 2013 in Review, young adult
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itch rocksThis is a sequel to Itch and you really have to have read the first to fully appreciate this one. In a way it is a bit of a re-tread as Itchingham Lofte finds himself facing the same type of villains, for the same reasons all over again.

Itch collects elements and was given a rock, a perfectly ordinary looking rock. But it turned out to be a new element, one that could solve the world energy crisis and also be massively destructive at the same time.

It is a bit of a stretch for the government to not take control of the rocks from the outset and leave it up to Itch and his little sister Chloe and his ever loving best mate and cousin, Jack to save the day but well, refer to Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven for a precedent.

Doubleday

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

shiftTroy wakes out of an unnatural deep sleep, despondent as he still has his memories of another life.  The pills that will enable him to forget haven’t started to work yet.  Woken for his first shift he’s suddenly in charge, there to ensure nothing goes wrong and uphold the Order.

Donald is a young congressman, in a distant period of time.  He meets with Senator Thurman, a meeting that will change the course of many lives.  He agrees to work on a project for the Senator that will utilise his architecture and design skills.  Anna Thurman is also working on the project, an old flame who never forgot him.

Interspersed are stories of other ordinary Silo dwellers; Mission and the uprising in Silo 18; Jimmy and how he became Solo; how Juliette found Solo.  All are told between flashes of how Donald helped build the Silos and Troy’s attempts to make sense of the world.

Very complexly plotted you have to concentrate to follow the story, as it jumps back and forth between time periods and different characters.  Each chapter begins with a place and time of where it takes place, which makes the jumps easier to follow.  The prequel to Wool, this book explains how the silos came to be.  It’s quite scary how a few people can control the fate of billions.  Definitely one to read for fans of Justin Cronin.

Century

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Wool review

dear vincentTara has a tough life; her father is sick and needs round the clock care, her family is struggling financially and swallows the money she earns as an aide at a nursing home, and her sister is dead.  The only things that keep her sane are a passion for art and the work of Vincent Van Gogh.  She’s creating her versions of his paintings for her art portfolio and feels he understands her from reading his letters to his brother Theo.

Professor Max Stockhamer is a temporary resident at the nursing home who shares her passion for Van Gogh.  A philosopher and Jewish refugee, he offers support and understanding when she needs it most, after finding out her sisters accidental death was a lie.  His grandson Johannes also grows close to Tara, helping hr figure out what she wants.

This is a brilliant read, with a tightly woven plot and characters that are strong and feel alive.  I was completely captivated from the start with Tara, admiring how in control she was under trying circumstances before seeing her pain.  Learning of the true facts of her sister’s death, I saw how much the news hurt her.

This is a book about suicide.  It shows the devastation left behind by those committing the act, and describes the feelings leading to it.  This book is powerful, a must read for any teen.

Random House New Zealand

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

red moonClaire Forrester is woken one night by government agents kicking down the door and murdering her parents.  She manages to escape by changing into her lycan form and running. Unsure what her boring parents have done wrong, she sets off to find answers.

Patrick Gamble boarded a plane to journey to live with his mother, while his father left with the army to fight insurgency in the Lycan Republic.  Also on the flight was a lycan extremist and Patrick was the only passenger who stepped off the plane.

Chase Williams is a politician who has pledged to destroy the threat society is facing.  Attacked by his enemies, he is becoming the thing he vowed to destroy.  Hiding this from the public, he searches frantically for a cure.

The lives of these three are caught up in a war none of them want.  Entwined together by events, they each try to make sense of things while struggling to survive.  The plot is told from different POVs and the events ft together seamlessly with the timeline being accurate.  The world is well thought out and the characters seem real.

I’m in two minds about whether I liked this book as the subject matter was rather dark and very gory.  I HAD to keep reading to the end to find out what happens.  The ending was truly chilling, masterful planning in an obscene way.  The ending was left wide open and I assume this book is the first in a series.

‘The brutal murder of a soldier occurred in London as I was reading and some reactions to the killers were echoes of reactions to the lycans in the book.  Ordinary peaceful people were viewed as radicals and it was sobering drawing parallels with what’s happening in the world.  Marketed as a YA book, this is suitable for anyone, teen or adult.

Hodder & Stoughton

Supplied by Hatchette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

heart of obsidianSahara is a NightStar, part of the strong clan of F-Psy who forsee events to come.  She is only a sub designation B, with the gift of backsight.  But she has another talent, so powerful no one knows of it.  Except her captor.  Held hostage for seven years and forced to use her power to benefit her kidnapers, she created a labyrinth in her mind to escape to so complex no one could breach it.  Then she was rescued from her prison.

Kaleb Krycek is the youngest member of the Psy Council.   Icily ruthless, he is an extremely dangerous and powerful Tk.  He’s been looking for Sahara for years before he teleports her to his fortress-like home in remote Russia.  Kaleb’s motives are shrouded in mystery; does he want Sahara in order to gain control of her power or is there a deeper connection?

I knew it!  The answer to a question was what I thought and it was so obvious!  A lot of questions are answered and some storylines wrapped up, while others remain a mystery and new possibilities for the Psy/changeling/human world are opened.  The plot was tightly packed with lots of action, chilling motives of fanatics, and the steamy hot love scenes Nalini Singh writes so well.  The pace moved well with events neatly flowing after each other, and the different points of view were easy to follow.  There was also a HEA.

A must read for fans, this story can be read as a standalone. I strongly recommend reading the rest of the series first though, mainly to enjoy the backstories of this compelling world.  Parental discretion is advised due to the passionate love scenes.

Gollancz

Supplied by Hatchette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

felix and the red ratsFelix and the Red Rats is the latest children’s novel from James Norcliffe and a ripping wee yarn, rather a ripping two yarns, it is too.

This book comprises the story of David, his Uncle Felix and some rats under the care of David’s brother that have turned a bright tomato red. Within the book is a story being read by David but written by Uncle Felix about his first adventure in the fantasy land of Axillaris.

David’s story is a mystery tale – just why are rats and then cats turning red – without murders but with a very grumpy elder brother. Felix’s tale is a contest between greed and rightful inheritance played out around a most puzzling brain teaser problem – because to get her inheritance the not-quite-imprisoned princess must first solve a riddle, and to get it wrong would pass her inheritance to her greedy uncle.

James Norcliffe has set the tones of the two stories at the appropriate pitch, with fully realised characters and plots in both tales; and at the end very fittingly ties them together in the final chapter.

Felix and the Red Rats was a real pleasure to read. Strongly recommended. I liked the puzzle too; took me a while to solve it.

Longacre

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Simon