Book Review

July and August 2015 Reads – Part 3.

The third and final part of my July and August reading catch up.

The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt. Usborne Books
There is not enough YA fiction set in Wales. Or fiction as a whole for that matter. This is a lovely, contemporary YA story set in Wales that includes some main characters who speak fluent Welsh – it was already onto a good thing with me before I got reading. This is a road trip story, the three main characters are close friends but all struggling with something at the moment. They escape the realities of their lives for a few days and get back to basics, road tripping and camping.

One of the central themes of this is the realisation that the adults in your life are flawed, fallible beings. All three of the main characters have difficulties in the relationships with their parents and this is dealt with really well within the book.

There is a romantic element to this book, I wasn’t sure about it to begin with but ended up really enjoying it. This is an excellent debut, another author to add to my watch out for list.

Counting Stars by Keris Stainton. Hot Key Books.
When I first heard Keris mention this book I knew it was something I wanted to read – I’ve long bemoaned the lack of decent stories set post sixth form and the wave of New Adult that promised to fill that gap certainly did not deliver. This is a great story filled with warmth about Anna as she moves to Liverpool to take up a role in a theatre. She’d been on the university path like her friends but a work placement made her realise that maybe this wasn’t the right path for her at this time. This in itself was something I loved, I think it’s really good to see narratives that involve alternatives to university for young adults.

Anna’s story has a secondary thread to it, she is a vlogger and we see her tell her story to her subscribers, and their comments to each video. This storytelling technique is really interesting, seeing telling her viewers what’s been going on rather than experiencing it alongside her works really well. There’s also a nice reflection on privacy and social media that clearly illustrates a point without coming off as prescriptive.

I enjoyed this book immensely and hope it brings along more books set in this time of life – there’s so much potential for stories about this life transition so let’s see more of them!

Elspeth Hart and the Perilous Voyage by Sarah Forbes. Stripes Publishing.
I read and reviewed the first Elspeth Hart book earlier this year over at Middle Grade Strikes Back. I loved it, and particularly liked that the ending was setting up the next story. I’m very glad to say that this, that next story, picks up the action straight away and continues it brilliantly. The characters have left the school that provided the setting for book 1 and spend much of this book on board a luxury liner. These close quarters again make for plenty of near misses and tense moments, I couldn’t read fast enough. This is an excellent second instalment to Elspeth’s story – I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Charlie Merrick’s Misfits in Fouls, Friends and Football by Dave Cousins. Oxford University Press.
I always enjoy Dave Cousins’ books, they never fail to entertain and make me laugh. Charlie Merrick’s Misfits is no exception to this. Pitched at a slightly younger audience than Cousins’ previous books this is an illustrated tale of a football team made up less than stellar players. It has a lot to say about friendship, about teamwork and about learning what the important things in life are. I enjoyed it hugely, it made me laugh, it made me wince as I could see characters make bad decisions, and it made me really root for this team of misfits. There’s already a second book in this series, I expect to be reading it sooner rather than later!

The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell. Random House Children’s Publishing.
When this book was published I remember reading lots of reviews and thinking it was a book I really wanted to read. Then, at NineWorlds I had the fortune of meeting Sarah and immediately bought my copy of the book. It took me a few days to read, something which is quite unusual with how fast I read, but I found myself wanting to savour every word (plus I got too emotionally invested to continue reading it in public on my commute!)

This book tells the story of Sora, a Japanese teenager who has been diagnosed with the progressive neurological disease Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Sora is dying, his condition is progressing faster than he or anyone wants and this book is him telling his story. We get to know his family, see him trying to make sense of his ever changing new normal, and see him make new friends. This book is a challenging read, but I know I feel like I’m a better person for having read it. I’m going to be recommending this book far and wide.

Demon Road by Derek Landy. HarperCollins Children’s Books
I haven’t read anything by Derek Landy before (yes I do intend to catch up with Skullduggery Pleasant, even more so since I enjoyed this book so much) so I went into this book knowing nothing more than the synopsis. The idea of a teen girl suddenly discovering her demon heritage and having to go on the run sounded good to me and the book really didn’t disappoint.

This is a fast witty book with a good share of action and gore. It’s tone and style is evocative of many of the tv shows I love, both those showing now (things like Supernatural) and those no longer on our screens (Buffy seems like the obvious link to make). I think this book would be an easy sell to many teen readers and probably many grown up ones too. The characters are brilliant, I fell in love with main character Amber pretty much straight away and am thrilled that this is only the first part of her adventures.

Book Review

July and August 2015 Reads – Part 1.

The first part of this week’s catch up on the books I read in July and August.

Reasonable Force by C.T. Sullivan. Pegasus Publishing.
This book is a debut novel published by an independent publisher and therefore something that would generally pass beneath my radar. I was approached for a review however and the book sounded interesting to me, so I duly received a copy and got reading.

There are a number of plotlines within this book, they’re well balanced and directly affect one another so that as something changes for one character you find yourself wondering what impact that’s going to have on the other characters. The initial event, where Nick kills an intruder and Nathan advises him on how to cover it up, throws up some interesting discussion about how much force is reasonable in a burglary (hence the book title), but the ever evolving situation means that the plot moves further away from this as time goes on.

There was a lot to enjoy about this book, as I say there were some interesting thinking points, and I found I liked some of the characters. One thing that didn’t work well for me was the character of Mel, Nick’s wife. She doesn’t get the same attention or development as the other characters, instead existing as a convenient (and unfortunate) plot device on a couple of occasions – there was a point where she suddenly made a statement about religious beliefs that had a significant impact on the plot, this came out of nowhere and also didn’t appear to then be applied consistently for the remainder of the book.

The overall flow of the book worked well. There is a real tension in Nick’s plotline in particular, I found myself getting quite anxious on his behalf – I was definitely invested in his story and was satisfied with the overall ending of the book.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Tor.
Before reading Uprooted all I had seen about it was glowing praise. It almost started to become a little intimidating as a prospective reader, what if I was The One who didn’t like it. Eventually I decided I needed to just dive in and hope for the best.

This book is every bit as good as everyone had said! I was immediately drawn into the world created by the author, a world of magic and wonder, and of an evil wood determined to wreak havoc and misery. It begins with the choosing, an event that happens every ten years when the Dragon – an aging wizard who acts as guardian to the people living in the villages surrounding his tower home – chooses another young girl and whisks her away to said tower for ten years. When Agnieszka is unexpectedly chosen her life is instantly turned upside down.

There is something very sympathetic about Agnieszka, the reader is straight away drawn to her cause – I think because of the downright unfairness of what is happening to her. This is good because as the plot develops Agnieszka becomes, rightly, obstinate and focused and this feels right rather than petulant as it may have done if the reader didn’t care about her story this way. I loved her as a character and I loved reading her story.

For Holly by Tanya Byrne. Headline.
This book is wonderful. It’s a slow burner that draws you deeper and deeper into the characters’ lives, pulling you into their world and making you entirely invested in what happens to them. I read it over a couple of days and whenever I wasn’t reading I was thinking about the book and wanting to get back to reading it. Typical of a book from this author this book is twisty and tugs you emotionally – I loved the way I kept thinking I had worked out what was behind the story and then quickly realised I still wasn’t right.

One thing I really liked about this book was its structure. The story is told in a non-linear manner, the jumps in time are seamless and work brilliantly. On top of this the story is a continual stream and whilst initially I found this a bit unusual (I’m very much a read to the end of the chapter type of reader) the more I read the more I loved it and the more I felt it served the story well. This is a stunning book, definitely one of my best of 2015.

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle. Random House Children’s Publishing.
This is a fantastic debut novel with a truly brilliant concept – Cara and her family suffer dreadful accidents for a month each year, serious accidents that involve hospital visits and necessitate the removal of anything potentially dangerous from the home. The story follows the characters as they enter this year’s accident season and explore both what is happening to them and why it might be happening.

This is a really difficult book to review as the twists and turns and reveals are so deftly handled and I desperately don’t want to give even the tiniest hint away. I really recommend this book, I’m looking forward to re-reading it with the knowledge I picked up while I read it for the first time.

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten. Electric Monkey.
Some books start great and then lose something along the way, sadly for me this was one of those books. The book begins by introducing us to the main characters in what appears to be a fairly standard contemporary novel. Part way through big twists and reveals change the course of the book and this for me was where I found myself disconnecting from what I was reading. I don’t mind big reveals or twists if they feel like they’ve been coming all along but in this book they just don’t work that way unfortunately and I found the more I read the less I was actually invested in what was happening.

Sister, Sister by Jess Bright. Oxford University Press.
This book grabbed my attention with its title – there was an American tv show with the same title back in the 1990s. When I read the synopsis, that the book was about a girl who suddenly discovers a whole family she doesn’t know that includes a half-sister who is seriously ill I was really intrigued to see how the story would work, particularly for the tween audience it appeared to be aimed at. Very quickly after I started reading I became impressed – this continued for the entirety of the book.

Willow, the main character, was easy to identify with – particularly with her love of writing. I clearly remember how much I loved reading about characters who liked to write too, this book would have been a very easy sell to younger me. I thought she was a very real character, she reacts to the situations she’s experiencing in what feels like a very genuine manner – her life is turned upside down and at times she doesn’t handle it brilliantly, I like it when authors allow characters to be real. There are strong themes in this book of friendship and of family, and of the overlap between the two. This is a debut novel and an accomplished one at that, Jess has revealed the cover of her new book this week – based on the synopsis I’m already looking forward to it!

Homecoming Ranch by Julia London. Montlake Romance.
I’m a long time fan of contemporary romance, if I see one that has some reference to a ranch in the title or blurb chances are I’ll be clicking buy before I’ve stopped to think about it. This was one such purchase.

The book is not narrated by one of the main characters but instead one of the supporting cast. This seemed like an interesting choice, it didn’t necessarily always make that much sense as a choice but I found that I quickly forgot about this most of the time while I was reading.

The main plot focuses on Madeleine and Luke, she is one of three half sisters who’ve recently inherited the ranch in question and he is one of the family whose home it used to be. They naturally butt heads immediately, and continue to do so for much of the book. They both have other things going on in their lives – this makes their story work even better and makes them more rounded characters. I enjoyed this book and am glad that there are follow up books featuring the other sisters – I think they’ll be automatic purchases too!

Book Review

PoP: Bug and Bear by Ann Bonwill & Lynn Marlow and Pip and Posy: The Scary Monster by Axel Scheffler.

PoP Tuesdays on Juniper’s Jungle bring two reviews of picture books.

Bug and Bear by Ann Bonwill & Lynn Marlow (illustrator). Oxford University Press.
BugAndBearThis is the story of Bug who wakes up happy,
Bear who wakes up grumpy,
and the day when their friendship is lost and found.

This is a really cute story about two friends who wake up with very different plans for how to spend the day. Bug is desperate to play but to his disappointment Bear is sleepy and wants to nap instead. Bear tries everything she can to get the message through to Bug that she doesn’t want to play, but instead Bug sees the potential for a game in everything that Bear does. Naturally both animals come Pthat will satisfy the reader. This book has great discussion potential, neither Bug or Bear are a particularly good friend at times.

I really liked Lynn Marlow’s art style. The illustrations use strong colours in slightly muted tones which makes for a very attractive end result. The text is arranged throughout the book in different ways that suits the art for the page really well. I was really interested by the one double page spread that required the book to be turned through 90 degrees. This is a lovely idea and with a quick practice would be easy enough if you were reading the book aloud to a group, it might be a little trickier to juggle if you were reading the book to a squirming toddler sat on your lap.

Pip and Posy: The Scary Monster by Axel Scheffler. Nosy Crow.
PipAndPosyPosy is happily baking cakes when a scary monster appears!

Poor Posy! She feels quite frightened – until she sees that it’s not a real monster after all, but Pip dressed in a costume.

A funny story for the very young, with gentle lessons about being brave and taking turns.

There is a whole set of Pip and Posy stories, this is the first one I’ve read. It’s a lovely, simple story that young children will really enjoy. It begins with Posy making a cake to alleviate the boredom brought by bad weather – I loved the way she started by washing her hands and putting on an apron! I had begun by reading the blurb so there was no monster reveal to come for me, I knew it was Pip, but I think young readers would like discovering it was him in a costume.

Axel Scheffler’s art is very recognisable and familiar, his work on hugely popular titles such as The Gruffalo has led to his art appearing on all manner of objects for sale widely in the UK. I liked getting to see some non- Gruffalo work, it’s just as enjoyable. His pictures are very vibrant, he manages to convey a lot of life and movement within them. I loved all of the little details in the pictures – I have a feeling many of them are nods to other books that Scheffler has illustrated but sadly I’m not currently familiar enough with his work to recognise them.

I’m really pleased to see that there are board book versions of the Pip and Posy stories, I think they will go down very well with friends to share with their young toddlers.

Both books featured in this post were borrowed from my local library.

Book Review

Book Review: After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross.

AfterTomorrowWhat if you woke up tomorrow and everything had changed? Money is worthless. Your friends are gone. Armed robbers roam the streets. No one is safe. For Matt and his little brother, Taco, that nightmare is a reality. Their only hope of survival is to escape through the Channel Tunnel. But danger waits on the other side…Stay or go. What would you do?

Gillian Cross’ Demon Headmaster books were some of my frequently re-read books when I was younger, when I began reading more children’s fiction again I was thrilled to discover she was still writing. I read and enjoyed Where I Belong so when I started seeing all of the buzz around After Tomorrow I added it to my books I need to read list. It’s won a number of awards including the Little Rebels children’s book award – would I find it lived up to such hype?

The first thing I have to say is that this book is a terrifyingly believable read. I’ve always said that for dystopic versions of our world to really work for me I need to be able to see how our world could change in order to become the fictional one. The world created in After Tomorrow doesn’t require much thought at all in this respect, the more you read the more you recognise scenarios from our world today – it’s a fictionalised version of situations occurring around the world. I felt that this made the book both more scary and more thought provoking.

The story begins with the first time Matt, the narrator, and his family get raided. This makes for a bold start, the reader is as surprised by the events unfolding as the characters – I found I couldn’t read fast enough in my bid to understand what was happening and why. It’s not long in the book until the family gets raided again, the raids get worse and worse and I found myself getting angrier and sadder on the characters’ behalf.

It’s not far into the book that the family begin to prepare to escape the dreadful situation in the UK by travelling through the Channel Tunnel. The rest of the book focuses on these experiences, both in making the escape and in living their lives as refugees. It was particularly this aspect that made me realise how topical the book is, some scenes felt like I was watching them on the evening news.

This was a book that I became hugely invested in, as I read I felt the emotions experienced by the characters keenly. There was one scene in particular, a good way through the book, that really got to me emotionally – I had to have a little break and go and make myself a cup of tea before I could carry on reading. I also formed opinions of some of the secondary characters that the main characters didn’t yet share and found myself wanting to shout at them and warn them of my suspicions (by the end of the book I was proven right on only some counts, probably as well I couldn’t actually influence the main characters!).

This book is a really important one, and as such is going to be one that I’m going to be talking about lots. It feels as though it sits on that boundary between middle grade and young adult, it has a lot to offer both age groups. I think it would make an excellent book group book, there’s so much to discuss in it. The way the action is packed into the book, particularly at the beginning, means I think it would hook in most readers. It does slow down a little as the book progresses but I think it still does plenty to keep a young audience reading.

After Tomorrow is published by Oxford University Press. My copy of the book is one I purchased myself.

Book Review

Book Review: Waiting for Gonzo by Dave Cousins.

WaitingForGonzoMeet Oz . . . he’s got a talent for trouble but his heart’s always in the right place (well, nearly always).

Uprooted from his friends and former life, Oz finds himself stranded in the sleepy village of Slowleigh. When a joke backfires on the first day at his new school, Oz attracts the attention of Isobel Skinner, the school psycho – but that’s just the beginning.

After causing an accident that puts his mum in hospital, Oz isn’t exactly popular at home either. His older sister’s no help, but then she’s got a problem of her own . . . one that’s growing bigger by the day.

Oz knows he’s got to put things right, but life isn’t that simple, especially when the only people still talking to you are a hobbit-obsessed kid and a voice in your own head!

I loved Dave Cousin’s debut novel 15 Days Without a Head so had very high hopes for this book. Within the first few pages I knew he’d done it again, creating a warm, funny and touching contemporary tale with great depth.

Oz, the main character of the book, is a brilliant character – I loved how his actions were almost always well intentioned, but had a habit of going wrong. I laughed as he made his way from one scrape to the next, in between wincing at some of the calamities he created.

One of the central relationships in the book is the one between Oz and his older sister Meg. Whilst they bicker and argue there is absolutely no mistaking the strength of their relationship, as an older sister who has always had a strong relationship with her younger brother I really loved this element of the book. Whilst our lives were never as complicated as Oz and Meg’s I could definitely see the similarities.

I hadn’t worked out the gist of the book from the blurb and so was surprised by the direction the book took, and indeed who the titular Gonzo was. This was all to the good, the potentially tricky subject matter was handled with skill – there’s no judgement, no wringing of hands, simply practical honesty and warmth.

Ryan, the hobbit-obsessed geek, who befriends Oz when no one else at school will was another favourite character of mine. I always love the addition of a geeky character who is there simply as part of the ensemble, rather than to be pointed at and laughed at, Ryan certainly had his part to play and reminded me at times of both myself and other geeky friends.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, one that I’m looking forward to recommending to other readers old and young alike.

Waiting for Gonzo is published by Oxford University Press.

Book Review

Recent Reads: Wishful Thinking by Ali Sparkes and Hollow Earth by John and Carole E Barrowman.

A round up of some of the books I’ve recently read.

imageWishful Thinking by Ali Sparkes. Oxford University Press.
It’s just a regular trip for Kevin, and he comes back with just the regular sorts of things. Some local fudge, a scented candle for his mum…and his own personal god. It’s Abandinus, a little-known Celtic deity, who has suddenly found a new purpose in his eternal life – sorting out Kevin’s.

With a god on your side, everything’s going to get a lot easier, isn’t it? After all, a god can get stuff done. The trouble is, it’s not always the kind of stuff Kevin has in mind…

This book is a fairly standard, middle grade fantasy infused adventure tale. Like others in the genre it features a lead boy character, Kevin, along with a pair of trusty supporting friends – one boy and one girl. Where it does differ is the fantasy element, Kevin accidentally summons Abandinus – a Celtic god, and once you’ve summoned one Celtic god a handful more will follow.

I enjoyed the fantasy element of this book, it was nice to learn a bit about these lesser known gods and goddesses. In places the book is quite moralistic, but this is written in such a way that it doesn’t feel heavy handed, and it may encourage young readers to think about what they would do in the situation. Overall the book is enjoyable enough, but I have read other similar books that I’ve enjoyed more, and I’ve enjoyed other books by this author far more.

imageHollow Earth by John and Carole E. Barrowman. Buster Books.
Imagination matters most in a world where art can keep monsters trapped—or set them free.

Lots of twins have a special connection, but twelve-year-old Matt and Emily Calder can do way more than finish each other’s sentences. Together, they are able to bring art to life and enter paintings at will. Their extraordinary abilities are highly sought after, particularly by a secret group who want to access the terrors called Hollow Earth. All the demons, devils, and evil creatures ever imagined are trapped for eternity in the world of Hollow Earth—trapped unless special powers release them.

The twins flee from London to a remote island off the west coast of Scotland in hopes of escaping their pursuers and gaining the protection of their grandfather, who has powers of his own. But the villains will stop at nothing to find Hollow Earth and harness the powers within. With so much at stake, nowhere is safe—and survival might be a fantasy.

This book opens with a chapter set in the Middle Ages. It grabs your attention and has you asking loads of questions and then jumps you forward to the modern day and adds more questions and introduces engaging characters – a few hours later you find you’ve powered your way through to the end of the book. Well that was my reading experience anyway, this book got its claws into me within a few pages and refused to let go.

I love the world that has been created for this book, it’s well described and thought out – I particularly loved that it links to our world through art, a few times paintings are mentioned that I knew, and a few made me look them up. I really hope that young readers will want to look up the paintings too and be introduced to some wonderful pieces of art.

I really liked the main characters, again this is a middle grade book featuring a trio with two boys and a girl, but in this book the three characters are far more equal and all have an important part to play. I very much liked that one of the main characters has a significant hearing impairment and communicates using sign language – he is written in a wonderfully manner of fact style, his deafness does not define him or become an important part of him, it’s just one facet of many that make up his character.

This is the opening book of a trilogy, it does a good job of balancing world building with action. I am really looking forward to seeing how the remaining books answer some of the questions left open at the end of this book.

Book Review · Reading Challenges

48HBC: The Vandal by Ann Schlee and The Night Sky in my Head by Sarah Hammond.

Day 2 of the challenge has started well with two more excellent reads. I’m now up to 11 hours 20 reading time and 2,314 pages.

The Vandal by Ann Schlee. Catnip.
TheVandalPaul started a fire.

Tonight he will do as he always does: take the Drink and submit the day’s events to the MEMORY.

Tomorrow the MEMORY will remind him what happened today. Paul trusts the MEMORY.

But should he?

This book is a reissue by Catnip Publishing, it was originally published in 1979 and won the Guardian Prize for Children’s Fiction. I was told that you would have no idea it hadn’t been written recently, and I have to say that’s absolutely right. It feels fresh and current, it definitely doesn’t feel older than I am!

The book straddles the boundary between sci fi and dystopia nicely. It works so well because it’s not a big stretch of the imagination to see how this could be a potential future – the idea of this level government control is all too believable.

I loved the world building in this book, I found I could really imagine how it looked and functioned. I liked Paul a lot as a lead character, his spirit in particular had me hooked.

The Night Sky in my Head by Sarah Hammond. Oxford University Press.
NightSkyInMyHeadStep backwards. Witness the murder. Find the truth

Mikey Baxter isn’t like other fourteen year old boys. Not since the accident.

The world sees him as damaged. But Mikey has a remarkable gift: the ability to go backwards in time and witness things that hide in the shadows.

Now he must uncover the terrifying truth behind his dad’s disappearance. Before the past starts to repeat itself . . .

This book opens with an intriguing prologue and then gets going with the action right from chapter 1. We’re quickly introduced to Mikey, and to the fact that Mikey is able to see The Backwards – shadows and places offer up reruns of things that happened in the past for him to see. Of course the adults in his life don’t believe this, labeling it as delusions or just another facet of the brain damage he suffered when he was younger.

Mikey’s story has him piecing together the circumstances around his father’s disappearance. Everyone has kept many of the details from him and he doesn’t know why, but as he investigates and uses The Backwards to help him he starts to uncover things that maybe no one else know either. At the same time Mikey’s experiencing new things, making friends and finally starting to work out where he fits in the world and what he might like the future to hold.

This book has a lovely, warm feeling to it. I can understand the comparisons with both The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Skellig, I think for me it sits happily at the crossroads between the two books. I really enjoyed reading it, and have already got a couple of people in mind to recommend it to.

Book Review

Book Review : The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff.

The Ninth Legion marched into the mists of northern Britain – and they were never seen again. Four thousand men disappeared and their eagle standard was lost. It’s a mystery that’s never been solved, until now . . . Marcus has to find out what happened to his father, who led the legion. So he sets out into the unknown, on a quest so dangerous that nobody expects him to return. The Eagle of the Ninth is heralded as one of the most outstanding children’s books of the twentieth century and has sold over a million copies worldwide. Rosemary Sutcliff writes with such passion and attention to detail that Roman Britain is instantly brought to life and stays with the reader long after the last page has been turned.

The plot of The Eagle of the Ninth has come under a lot of scrutiny in the years since it was written, historians now dispute many of the essential facts that Rosemary Sutcliff based this book on. I don’t tend to read much historical fiction, and certainly very little that’s set this long ago, so I was quite prepared to sit and enjoy the story and accept it as a fictionalised take on Roman Britain.

The book begins by introducing us to Marcus Flavius Aquila, a Centurion who is plagued by the mystery of the disappearance of his father’s legion years ago. After he is injured in battle he goes to live with his uncle, and after saving Esca, a slave, begins a quest to find the truth of what happened to his father.

It’s hard to talk about either Marcus or Esca on their own. Their friendship is forged so strongly, it must be the Roman version of a bromance. I loved reading about them, and seeing how their friendship developed despite some of the social and attitudinal challenges they faced. Cottia, the young girl who lives nearby was another character I loved, she was strong minded and forthright, my kind of character.

The book was written in 1954 (my dad remembers reading it at school when he was young) so the language used and the writing style is pretty different to what we’re used to now in YA fiction. Initially I felt it was a little stodgier to read, but once I reached the first battle scene I was hooked and flying through it. There is a fair amount of unfamiliar vocabulary with all of the Roman terminology used, I didn’t find this to be a problem for me – it was no different to reading a fantasy or dystopian novel.

I got completely lost in this book, by the time I reached the end I was so disappointed that it was over. I know that there are further books in the series, but they each act as a stand alone book so I’m not sure whether I will be reading them or not – it is the story of Marcus and Esca that I want to read more about, and sadly that doesn’t exist.

Eagle of the Ninth is published in paperback by OUP in the UK priced £6.99