Thursday 29 March 2012

The Storyteller - Book Review

The Storyteller – Book Review
Antonia Michaelis
YA Romantic Thriller
Anna and Abel couldn’t be more different. They are both seventeen and in their last year of school, but while Anna lives in a nice old town house and comes from a well-to-do family, Abel, the school drug dealer, lives in a big, prisonlike tower block at the edge of town. Anna is afraid of him until she realizes that he is caring for his six-year-old sister on his own. Fascinated, Anna follows the two and listens as Abel tells little Micha the story of a tiny queen assailed by dark forces. It’s a beautiful fairy tale that Anna comes to see has a basis in reality. Abel is in real danger of losing Micha to their abusive father and to his own inability to make ends meet. Anna gradually falls in love with Abel, but when his “enemies” begin to turn up dead, she fears she has fallen for a murderer. Has she?
In the most thought provoking of ways, this book is very different to anything I have read before. The writing style is unique, with a smooth and old-worldly rhythm that makes the prose just beautiful to read, and the plot itself is simply captivating. ‘The storyteller’ is just such an imaginatively, heartbreaking story, that I don’t have the words to do justice to just how brilliant a book it is.
Set in Germany, the main character Anna is a good girl from a nice family, whose view of the world is limited to the perfect, happy bubble her parents have encased her in. Then she meets Abel and her bubble is burst, as one by one, she discovers the harsh and cruel reality of his life as he struggles to protect his little sister, Micha, from the people who would see them parted.
Yet even as Anna and Abel begin to fall in love, new dangers await them as people around them begin to die. Each murdered by a single gunshot in the back of the neck. And each of them somehow connected to Abel and Micha. And all Anna can wonder is, will she be the next to die?
In this romance turned thriller, Antonia Michaeli weaves a dark and haunting tale of trust, loyalty and love.  Yet I’ll warn you now, this book is extremely sad and will take you on a real emotional rollercoaster. I’ll even admit that, especially towards the end, I had to keep putting the book down as I couldn’t see for the tears. However I believe that any book that can bring about such a physical reaction is really worth the read.
It is for that reason that I would whole heartedly recommend this book to everyone – although it is probably more for adults and older teens, as at times the story explores some very sensitive issues. Also I think a sense of maturity is needed to fully appreciate the depth and emotion intricately woven within the Book.
However I cannot praise it enough. I don’t rate books, but if I did this one would get full marks. Simply breathtaking, ‘The Storyteller’ is book you will remember forever.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Forgive my Fins - Book Review

Forgive My Fins – Book Review
Tera Lynn Childs
YA Paranormal
Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.
From the beginning I had heard nothing but good things about ‘Forgive my fins’ and was glad that it turned out to be such a fun and light hearted read. With a really sweet storyline and cute romance, I flew through this book very quickly and at the end I was just left going, ‘Awwww’. It really is a lovely story.
Despite being half-mermaid, the main character, Lily Sanderson is in many ways a typical teenager. Her words and antics made me squee, cringe and quite often laugh out loud. I especially loved her fishy analogies and cuss words of ‘Damselfish’, ‘Blowfish’ and my personal favourite, ‘oh lord love a lobster’. However, she is also a very timid girl and a hopeless romantic.
For the last three years she has been crushing on Brody Bennett, the gorgeous (newly single) captain of the swim team. Yet despite her best efforts, she has never managed to tell him how she feels, although Lily is certain they are destined for one another. So with the spring dance looming – Lily conspires that this will be the night she confesses her love. What she doesn’t expect, is for her annoying next door neighbour Quince, to interfere with her plans.  Therefore, after an accidental kiss, Lily finds herself bonded (essentially married) not to the man of her dreams, but to bad boy ‘blowfish’ Quince, who incidentally, can’t swim. A much needed when dating a mermaid.
In the chaos that follows, the author Tera Lynn Childs gives us one of the most adorable and sweetest of paranormal romances. Telling a story of first love, friendship and the need to be true to yourself , with plenty of comedy rolled into the mix, ‘Forgive my Fins’ is a fantastic read.
Although at times Lily could be a little annoying in her unchangeable views about Brody, and I thought that there were a few small plot issues – the goodness of this book ultimately outweighed the few niggles that I had with it. So overall it was a really fun read and I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel, ‘Fins are Forever’ which is to be published in the UK on the 1st April 2012. Check it out J

Thursday 8 March 2012

Scarlet - Book Review

Scarlet– Book Review
A.C Gaughen
YA Historical  

Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

Everyone has heard Robin Hood’s dashing, knife-wielding companion Will Scarlet. Yet what few people know is that this daring, pick pocketing thief - is actually a girl. Presenting herself as boy, Scarlet does her best to hide her feminine charms from the world - only Robin and his band of men know the secret of Scarlet’s true gender . Yet her other secrets, who she is and where she came from, even they don’t know – and not even Robins handsome charms can make her tell him the truth.  Yet, when thief taker Guy of Gisbourne is hired to rid Nottinghamshire of its infamous bandits, Scarlet soon finds her past catching up with her. Only this time, she can’t run away. 
A.C Gaughen’s debut novel ‘Scarlet’ completely swept me away. Based on the renowned tale of Robin Hood, the author gives a completely fresh spin to an old, much loved tale, while keeping true to the classic aspects of this legendary story. I can honestly say I adored this book and found it next to impossible to put down.
 Scarlet is a real kick-ass heroine with her impulsive tendencies, bravery and tough-as-nails character. Her selflessness itself is one of her greatest flaws, especially when she strives to help the people of Nottinghamshire - despite the lack of appreciation she is often shown in return.  From the very first page, readers will find themselves captivated by Scarlet’s unique ‘voice’, which is not only consistent throughout the story, but adds an atmospheric quality to the book which really helps place your mind in the crusading era.
I also loved the simmering romance that burns slowly throughout the story. Torn between her admiration for Robin and the flirtatious attentions of Little John, Scarlet’s reactions of confusion/embarrassment and avoidance were both realistic and amusing to read.
My only criticism, is that this is a standalone novel. When I turned the last page, I wasn’t quite ready for the story to end. I did however think that the ending was left rather open so hopefully in the future there may be a sequel, especially as I feel like Scarlet’s adventures are not quite over.
So overall, I really enjoyed this book. Using small clues and hints, the author certainly keeps you on your toes guessing about the direction of the plot, romance and character motivations throughout the entire story (which is frustrating, but in really good way). Therefore I would recommend this novel to any fans of Theresa Tomlinson or Tamora Pierce - or just to anyone who enjoys reading about a strong, spunky heroines in general, because Scarlet is way up there with the best of them.
Charming, edgy and knife-throwingly good, A.C Gaughen puts a believable new twist to an old tale.  So far ‘Scarlet’ is definitely my favourite read of 2012!