Book Review

First Middle Grade Strikes Back Post.

MGSB
Today I have written my first post for Middle Grade Strikes Back – a review of No True Echo by Gareth P. Jones. I’d love it if you popped over there and had a read, while you’re there why not have a look at some of the other excellent posts that have already been written?

Book Review

Book Review: TimeBomb by Scott K. Andrews.

TimebombNew York City, 2141: Yojana Patel throws herself off a skyscraper, but never hits the ground.

Cornwall, 1640: gentle young Dora Predennick, newly come to Sweetclover Hall to work, discovers a badly-burnt woman at the bottom of a flight of stairs. When she reaches out to comfort the dying woman, she’s knocked unconscious, only to wake, centuries later, in empty laboratory room.

On a rainy night in present-day Cornwall, seventeen-year-old Kaz Cecka sneaks into the long-abandoned Sweetclover Hall, determined to secure a dry place to sleep. Instead he finds a frightened housemaid who believes Charles I is king and an angry girl who claims to come from the future.

Thrust into the centre of an adventure that spans millennia, Dora, Kaz and Jana must learn to harness powers they barely understand to escape not only villainous Lord Sweetclover but the forces of a fanatical army… all the while staying one step ahead of a mysterious woman known only as Quil.

I am always on the look out for more time travel in books so the synopsis for this one definitely grabbed my attention. That the three main characters all came from distinctly different time periods added to the interest for me – this was surely going to add another layer to the story.

The story begins by introducing each of the main characters whilst they’re still in their own time, before they’ve made their first journey in time. Very quickly the time travel element is brought in, and the three are brought together. I was really pleased that when it comes to the time travel they’re all as clueless as each other, obviously their life experiences are hugely different so being in each other’s times is difficult for each in turn but the actual time travel concept is new to them all.

After the early part of the book has them in a future setting much of the action takes place in Dora’s time. This works really well, she still has the challenges of being around people whose frames of reference are so different to her own but doesn’t have to deal that much with the world itself looking and working so differently to her own. The historical setting also throws up plenty of challenges for the trio to contend with including the ongoing English Civil War.

The book is told from each of the main characters’ perspectives and occasionally from other characters’. I really liked this, getting to spend time with each of the characters gives the reader time to start to get to know them though their level of development does vary in this first book. Jana in particular remains a little of a mystery – maybe as much because it is she who comes from the future so there’s no easy frame of reference for the reader. I look forward to learning more about her in the next book.

No time travel story would work without a good villain, Quil in this book is no exception. She’s intriguing, she gets the narrative focus at various points during the story which gives us a little insight into her. I have a feeling that the more we get to know her the less traditional villain she’s going to become, hopefully the follow up to this will allow me to understand this feeling!

This is, as I’ve mentioned, the first book in a trilogy. It works well as an opener, there’s a clear story that belongs solely to this book as well as all of the threads that are going to flow into the rest of the series. Well worth a look.

TimeBomb is published by Hodder Books in the UK. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review

Book Review : Sorrowline by Niel Bushnell.

SorrowlineThe past is not a frozen place. Graveyards are not dead ends. And if the Sorrowline lets you in there is a hidden world of adventure waiting behind every gravestone.

Just when 12-year-old Jack Morrow’s life is falling apart he discovers his natural ability to travel through Sorrowlines: channels that connect every gravestone with the date of the person’s death. Confused and alone Jack finds himself in 1940. He embarks on an adventure through London during the Blitz with Davy, his teenage grandfather, to find a mystical Rose that might just save his mother’s life, a mother who he has already seen die. But the terrible power of the Rose of Annwn, is sought by many, and the forces of a secret world are determined to find it first. With a league of Undead Knights of his trail, commanded by the immortal Rouland, can Jack decipher the dark secret hidden at the heart of his family? Can he change his own destiny and save his mother?

Prophecy and history collide in this epic new children’s fantasy adventure series.

This is one of the debuts I was really excited about for 2013, when I first heard about the concept I knew it was something I would probably really enjoy. Within the first few pages I knew I’d been right – I sat down to read just a few pages and the next thing I knew the afternoon was gone and I’d reached the last page.

The story is a really good thriller with cleverly created time-travel elements. I’m a big fan of time-travel stories, but they can make me feel a bit like my head’s spinning – particularly when you start to get into the area of paradoxes and the like. In Sorrowline the time-travel is handled really well, it all makes sense and the questions that arise during the book are answered and in a way that fits well with the plot.

The thriller aspect of the plot is also well developed, at times there is a real sense of peril for the main characters and I felt as I read like my heart was in my mouth! Despite the book having the time-travel element there is never the feeling that it must turn out alright because this the story is happening in the past, a couple of times I found myself wondering how the future might unravel if things went so very wrong.

The main three characters, Jack, Davy and Eloise are all brilliant, but I have to admit to having a favourite and that was Eloise. She’s such a great female character, what we know of her origin story is fascinating and her actions throughout the story made me love her.

I really loved this book, I’m very pleased that there is a teaser snippet included at the end for the next book in the series, Timesmith, I’m already looking forward to reading it even if there is a whole year to wait!

Sorrowline is published by Andersen Press in the UK. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review

Mini Reviews : Chronosphere Book 1 – Time Out of Time and Book 2 – Malfunction by Alex Woolf.

I really enjoyed Alex Woolf’s Fiction Express book Soul Shadows and I was keen to read more by him. Today is the publication date for the second book in his Chronosphere series – Malfunction so I thought I’d do another mini review post for both that and the first book Time Out of Time

Book 1 – Time Out of Time.
I was hooked within the first page of this book, mainly because it was set during a hoverbike race. The mere mention of a hoverbike left me excited to get stuck into the book and discover the world within it. The plot is interesting straight away, Raffi is on the cusp of adulthood so buys a year in the Chronosphere – time works differently here so that a year lasts only a minute in the real world. It seems like a perfect situation, he can put off growing up for another year but no one will ever know he was gone. Very quickly however he starts to realise that this perfect world isn’t quite so perfect, there are darker things going on and very quickly Raffi gets caught up in them.

Raffi’s a great leading character, I think teens and adults alike will be able to identify with his wish to put off growing up a little longer. I certainly found myself rooting for him from the start, and worrying about what was going to happen to him at various points throughout the book. The group of friends he makes within the Chronosphere are an interesting group, I liked the way we got to know them a little bit and then the rug was pulled from us as a few secrets were revealed. I finished the book looking forward to finding out more about them all.

The world created in this book is fascinating, the technological developments are all really exciting though there are points where the technology becomes quite scary. I liked the way that the science behind the time bending aspects of the book is included, there was a risk this could have been confusing but for me it was balanced just right.

Book 2 – Malfunction.
This second book in the series begins with a brief but comprehensive recap of Time Out of Time before jumping straight into a fast and gripping plot. Since we left the characters behind at the end of the last book their lives have been quiet and idyllic but this peaceful state is about to come to an end. The Malfunction happens and everything starts to go wrong. The temp-al chambers have stopped working so no one can leave or enter the Chronosphere. The temp-al ducts are also not working meaning that the supply chain is broken. Very quickly services start to fail, and then the technology starts to act very strangely. Within a few chapters this magical place to get away from it all is starting to look like a living nightmare.

All of the characters we got to know in Time Out of Time return in this book, we again tag along primarily with Raffi. This book allows us to get to know the characters even better, and by the end of the book many of the questions I brought with me were answered. I particularly liked the way we got to understand some of the “baddies” better, I always like it when characters’ motivations are understandable rather than a character being bad just because s/he is.

I loved this book, and really liked the way we got to understand more about the Chronosphere, both how it works and why it exists. I also liked the examination of the society within the Chronosphere, I always find accounts of societies disintegrating interesting – particularly the way people try to survive.

At the end of the book there is a sneak peak for Book 3 – Ex Tempora. Whilst it is merely 3 pages long it has already got my interest, I shall certainly be looking forward to reading it! Both of these books are interesting and exciting reads, I thoroughly enjoyed them both.

Time Out of Time and Malfunction are published in paperback by Scribo Books in the UK priced £6.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the books all of the opinions expressed are my own.