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Currently reading: Vulture by Bex Hogan.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Cruel Summer by James Dawson [Review]

Written by: James Dawson.
Published by: Indigo/Orion.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 1st August 2013.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "Ryan is looking forward to spending the summer with his old school friends at Katie's luxurious Spanish villa. He hasn't seen the gang since their friend, Janey, committed suicide a year ago. He hopes this summer they'll be able to put the past behind them and move on - until someone else arrives, claiming to have proof that Janey's suicide was murder! Ryan was hoping for sun, sea and sand. Suddenly, he's facing a long, hot summer of death, drama and deceit . . ."


Summer. Just the word itself brings to images to the front of your mind of sun, sea, sand. Alcohol. Parties. Friends. It's perfect, right? What more could you want? Well for Ryan, Katie and friends, they're going to get more than they bargained for this Summer holiday. They're about to star in their own Murder Mystery.

James Dawson exploded onto the YA scene last year with Hollow Pike and Cruel Summer only further solidifies his place there. It's snappy, incredibly well written and it keeps you on the edge of your seat pretty much from the off. Ryan likes to make believe he's staring in his own tv show, where he and his friend are the cast, at the mercy of the producers off camera who decides what happens and when it happens. And when the last season ended, poor Janey was a casualty, throwing herself off the edge of a cliff.

But Ryan doesn't believe she jumped. It's so out of character for her. It doesn't make sense. He believes she was pushed.

It's been a year since the whole gang have been together, after leaving school they all took their own paths, going out into the world to seek the careers they want, and so the chance to spend a few weeks in Katie's fathers villa in Spain is too good to pass up. They can have a good old catch up, spend a few weeks catching a tan, chilling out, spending time together again before separating again to continue with their lives.

But when do things ever go to plan in a tv show? Never! And when one of the gang dies unexpectedly, questions begin to be asked and it becomes clear that one of the gang is a murderer...

This book is so well written, so addictive and engrossing that you don't want to put it down until you've finished. There are so many twists and turns, more than you can shake a cocktail at, and the ending will leave you feeling so heartbroken, honestly I had tears in my eyes! It's brilliant. I've told James this, and I don't want to gush too much. But this book is perfect and everyone needs to read it for themselves!

Thanks James for another amazing read! Please don't stop!

Thursday 1 August 2013

The Burning Shadow by Michelle Paver [Review]

Written by: Michelle Paver.
Published by: Puffin.
Format: Hardback.
Released: 1st August 2013.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "'If an Outsider wields the blade, the House of Koronos burns...' A boy on the run. A deadly prophecy. A race against time. Hylas the Outsider is captured by slavers. Set to work in the terrible underground mines of Thalakrea, he learns to his horror that he's now closer than ever to his murderous enemies, the Crows. He has to escape before they find out he's here. Pirra, the daughter of the High Priestess, is also on the run. When Fate reunites her with Hylas, their survival depends on ancient magic and an orphaned lion cub - unless the Gods have other plans..."


Ah. What a wonderful day. The arrival of a new Michelle Paver book is always a special event for me. That special day that comes but once a year and it brings with it a sense of wonder, amazement, excitement and a sliver of fear at what might happen next to the characters you're coming to love.

I thoroughly enjoyed Gods and Warriors which was released last year, kick-starting this series of the same name, and I remember saying in my review (which can be found here) that it felt very much a world building book that was setting things out nicely for the series to build upon these foundations and grow, and flourish. And after reading The Burning Shadow, I stand by that comment. We find Hylas trapped - he's a slave, set to work in the copper mines on the side of a mountain in Thalakrea, and he isn't a lone. Hundreds, if not more, are working tirelessly for little or no reward just to appease Kreon, the man who owns them. And to make thing's worse, he's a Crow.

The stakes have risen in The Burning Shadow. Now that some of the Crows know who Hylas is, he risks being caught at every turn. But he's adamant not to get drawn in to the prophecy laid out by the Oracle. He's determined that he'll have no part to play in the bringing down of the House of Koronos. All he wants is to find his sister, Issi, and make sure that she's okay. But the gods themselves have different ideas...

Pirra is also making moves to do what she wants. Her mother, Yassassara, the High Preistess is planning to send her away for good and Pirra is having none of it. She plots a daring escape and when she meets a wise woman called Hekabi she see's a way out. But Hekabi is not what she seems and Pirra is drawn away from Keftiu again into danger, back into the eyesight of the crows, and Hylas.

I don't even know where to begin with my love of this book. I've read Gods and Warriors several times, or The Outsiders as it now known after the paperback re-print..., and I really have come to love Hylas and Pirra. The characters are building, their progression plain to see, none more so than Telamon who... I can't even begin to explain the changes that boy is going through, you need to read it!

So many characters are introduced in this book that it can be a little overwhelming at times. Hekabi. Periphas. Pharax. Alekto. Kreon. So so many, but they're all so well balanced. Some scary. Some not. Some you instantly warm to and some you cannot stand right from the start. But this is needed. It provides a great balance of good and bad. And it's also good to see the return of a character we meet in Book 1, one who I'll be honest I didn't think about until he popped up again - his reappearance however is a good thing because he's an interesting character that I'm looking forward to seeing again and again through the series...

And Havoc! The lion cub. She's rivalling Wolf in Michelle's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness for my favourite fictional animal ever. She's just so beautifully imagined and the way Michelle seems to have gotten in to her head, the way she does for every animal she writes. It's amazing and it adds to the whole magical feel to the story, this kind of mystical edge that makes you tingle. Just so good!

The book, as you'd expect being a Michelle Paver affair, is so well thought out, planned, and so beautifully written that you can't help but become addicted and fly through its 271 pages at breakneck speed. I am loving this world, I'm loving this series and I seriously cannot wait to see what Michelle has in store for us next. The Burning Shadow does an amazing job of taking the foundations laid in Book 1 and building upon them with such grace and thought. I remember seeing a video on her website and on the Puffin Live event she did earlier this year, or maybe it was end of last, I can't remember, where she said Book 3 features a falcon... and we go to Egypt! I cannot wait!

And as with the feeling you get with Christmas, that's it for another year. All that build up and it's gone, so quickly, in the blink of an eye...