The Queen of the Tearling

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This is the first part of a three part series and definitely one for older readers as the swearing in it is necessary but bad! Kelsea Raleigh is a girl who has a destiny. The book begins with her living in a small house in the forest with her guardians Barty and Carlin. She knows that she is destined for greater things, and that she is the daughter of the Tearling Queen; when she reaches the age of 19 she will become the Queen herself but she has been hidden all these years because of fears that she will be killed. The Tearling is a land created by William Tear, and contains exiled people from England and America. They went there for a better life but things are pretty basic and there are few doctors and no technology. There is however, magic.

Kelsea’s mother Queen Elyssa was a weak queen and signed a treaty with the Red Queen to send people from Tearling to Mortmesne as slaves. Mortmesne is the neighbouring country to the Tearling and is ruled by the Red Queen, a magical figure who does not age. After Queen Elyssa’s death, her brother Thomas became the Regent until Kelsea was old enough to rule. He has left the country to ruin and is lazy and weak. There are also other factions like the Caden who are trying to kill Kelsea so that the Regent can stay on the throne and continue ruining the kingdom. All Kelsea has to do is get back the Keep in the main city of New London, and be crowned. This is easier said than done as so many people are trying to kill her. She is protected by the Queen’s Guard, a group of men loyal to the previous queen who will guard her until death. Their leader is a man called Lazurus, or the Mace. He is a huge man mountain who kills people with a mace!

When they arrive in New London, Kelsea begins to realize the extent to which the country has been ruined. She sees giant cages where people are herded in and taken to Mortmesne. They are chosen once a month through a lottery system run by a pretty nasty piece of work called Arlen Thorne. The decisions she makes will have a huge impact on whether the country will remain at peace or not, but she cannot sit by and watch such cruelty. The Mace can do little but advise her but she is governed by a mysterious jewel that hangs around her neck, given to her by Carlin when she was a baby and part of the proof that she is the real queen of the Tearling. It has magical powers that she had no idea existed. During her journey back to the New London she meets a mysterious figure called the Fetch who she kind of falls in love with, he takes the companion jewel from her. The two jewels together make her extremely powerful, she just needs to learn how to use that power.

As you can imagine, the book ends on a cliffhanger and I have already started the next one in the series. I was  getting a bit fed up of reading teen angst books where one kid has something wrong with them and it was all profoundly depressing. What happened to fun!? Anyway, so I thought I would read a fantasy fiction book to give my brain a rest from all the angst! This is a really enjoyable fantasy fiction book that transports you to another world. It is a little confusing as to whether the people who founded the Tearling left the present world or not but that seems a bit incidental and you will find out more about this in the next book anyway. The characters are interesting and you will enjoy seeing Kelsea grow from a bit of a geeky tomboy to a strong leader. She is constantly described as plain and a bit fat, she struggles with fitness and has to tell the cook to make her healthier meals, she is not the gorgeous heroine queen that you would expect, and I think that makes it a better book for that. She is a more realistic character. The others are good strong characters that  you will enjoy reading about. It is advertised as a Game of Thrones meets The Hunger Games type book, although I can see some similarities this book is in a world all of it’s own. It is violent though and, if you don’t like swearing and violence then this is not for you.

further reading: Game of Thrones series (but only if you are prepared to invest some time and you don’t mind a bit of sex and violence!) The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman (and the rest of the series).

 

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Dreaming The Bear – Mimi Thebo

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This is a quick, enjoyable read. Darcy is the main narrator but there are some sections in italics, not sure who is narrating these, maybe the bear! Anyway, Darcy lives with her mum and dad and her brother Jem in Yellowstone National Park where her dad is working on a research project. They used to live in a proper town but her dad has  been offered a position working in the park and has moved them all there, Darcy is not very happy with this. Her mum is also working on some research thing and her brother Jem is older than her and goes to the local high school. She is supposed to be going there too but has been really ill with pneumonia and is off sick. She is recovering and must do a certain amount of exercise every day to build up the strength in her lungs. She goes out one day and starts walking through the snow. She is taken ill and has an encounter with a bear who looks after her. The bear also has something wrong with it and she has a kind of out of body experience.

Darcy is also a little bit in love with a boy in her brothers class called Tony Infante. As Darcy struggles with her illness she builds a connection with the bear and she starts to feed her. The bear has an injury in her shoulder and is stuck in a cave up an incline that she can’t get down  from. She is also really annoyed with her dad and her mum has gone away to a conference  and left them to it. Then a storm hits.

Darcy, Jem, Tony and their dad are stuck in their house and all confined to one room. This is a little intimate for Darcy but it means that she can get closer to Tony. After the storm Darcy and her dad go down to town and after a few more  trips they realize that when she is down in town she is much better. Eventually one of the research assistants works out the connection.

This  book is a nice easy read and, although it doesn’t look like much, it is quite enjoyable. It is also on the Carnegie longlist for this year and I can see why. It won’t take you long and that’s quite satisfying!

Maladapted – Richard Kurti

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Richard Kurti is a screen writer and director for television as well as an author. His first book, Monkey Wars, was shortlisted for the Hounslow Teen Read a couple of years ago and I had to read it. Now, I wouldn’t say this was a chore but if you have read my review of it then you will see that it wasn’t one of my favourite books. I think that I said it was a  bit silly. That is  not something that you can accuse this book of being.

Maladapted is set in the near future. Cillian is a 17 year old boy who lives with his father, Paul, who is a doctor. He is exceptionally good at maths and has  been fast tracked and is already at university. His brain seems to work differently to other people’s and he can problem solve like you wouldn’t believe. At the beginning of the book he is travelling on the train with his dad when there is a terrorist explosion and everyone on the train dies, including his father – except Cillian.

Tess is an orphan who has been indoctrinated by a strange religious  order called Revelation. They believe that the world has been taken over by too much tech and it is against God’s wishes. They want the world to go back to the way it was. Tess and Cillian live in Foundation City, a new kind of city where everything is really modern. This is at a cost to the old way of life and the people that live there. Everything is controlled by technology and you are followed and accounted for all the time. Even if you look at a shop it’s picked up and the authorities can track your movements. Revelation have also heard about a secret government program called P8 which they think is developing children with superhuman abilities.

Can you see the connection yet?

Tess is involved in  the bombing on the train and, once Revelation think that have found a live test subject from the P8 program (Cillian) they get Tess to befriend him to find out what he knows.

The book is written like a high octane film. You can almost imagine what the film will be like. Cillian and Tess go off and explore various things, manipulate people and print off a 3D gun (Cool eh?) and try and find out what is going on. It is definitely the first in a series as the book ends on a cliff hanger. It’s a little bit too disjointed for me and some of the characters were not really fleshed out. I would like to find out more about Cillian’s Dad and how he  became involved in the program. Also, the last chapter was full of twists that will make you want to read the next one, so it’s clever. All in all, I enjoyed it 100 times more that Monkey Wars. And it’s not silly at all….

The Morphant: Gabriel Grant and the Ringmaster – Cornelius Fuel

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This book is an ebook only and you can get it on Amazon or Ibooks. The author came to do an author talk at the school so I thought I would read it for background!

I started off by thinking that, if you have an ebook what does that mean? Does it mean it hasn’t been picked up by a publisher? Do you decide to publish it yourself and see what happens? How does it work? Well, I still have no idea but it was an enjoyable read nonetheless!

Gabriel Grant is a bit of a school loner. He is bullied by a pretty nasty group of boys and one day, in a bid to escape them, he runs into a factory place and is electrocuted by a power service station and ends up in hospital. When he wakes up he is confronted by a hells angel type bloke called the Searcher who tells him that he is a Morphant. A Morphant is a person that change shape at will; not like a shapeshifter though. The Searcher is also a Morphant and his favourite shape is an owl, which teaches Gabriel (in the shape of an angel) to fly.

Gabriel has special powers that enables  him to change into any number of characters that he has thought of. Like a stretchy man or a giant bubble man. He basically has a bit of fun with this until his parents are kidnapped by evil clowns and he needs to go and rescue them. He takes his feisty sister Ariel with him and they investigate. Ariel is a fun character that you will identify with and she is always giving Gabriel a hard time! Especially when he borrows money from her.

The book is a good romp; it has all the key elements that you want; adventure, excitement, baddies and killer clowns! The book is nicely set up for a sequel as well and the author was great at passing over his enthusiasm about the book to his audience. A quick and easy read that you will enjoy.

Bad Apple – Matt Whyman

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I haven’t read anything by Matt Whyman before but you may have done. He wrote The Savages and The American Savages and they have been on the my ‘to read’ list for ages. This one I had to read for the Hounslow Teen Read and the other librarians were raving about it.

So, the basics. Trolls. Yes, Trolls. They live under ground and haven’t really had any contact with humans, except that they swap their babies  for human babies so that they can have a better opportunity in life. Their troll-ness, doesn’t manifest itself until the child turns into a teenager and starts to show troll like tendencies. These will be things like excessive violence, a complete disregard for rules and authority, they litter, swear and vandalise stuff. In fact, it’s fairly difficult to tell them apart from normal teenager which is why they have lived amongst humans for so long undetected.  But one day, someone’s house collapses down a troll hole and all hell breaks lose. DNA is taken from suspected trolls and all the ones that test positive are taken to holding facilities, like ghettos and left. There is a person in charge of the facility who is basically like a prison warder and the trolls are living in segregated communities and left to rot.

So far, so horrible. The book begins with a sixth form trip. The kids are all on a coach driving through one of the trolls ghettos staring out at the inmates and making fun of them.  The only one who isn’t is a boy called Maurice. He isn’t really sure how to feel about them but doesn’t think that they should be made fun of. Next thing you know, the trolls land on the roof of the coach make a hole in the ceiling and grab the teacher. Maurice jumps up to intervene and gets taken himself. Thus begins a roller coaster ride where essentially Maurice and his kidnapper, the lovable Wretch and a social worker with a conscience (Candy) race against capture to try and return Wretch to the underground home he was born in and make a bid to change society in the process. they are pursued by the hapless Governor and his horrible daughter Bonnie who always seem to be one step behind (nice twist there but you can guess what it is about half way though!)

Interestingly, I can think of a few kids that I have met over the years who could be trolls!  It’s kind of a tongue in cheek comment about teenage society and how horrible teenagers can be (you know you can so don’t be all offended!) and the humour in it is really well written. It’s not a book I would ordinarily have picked up but I’m glad I did. If you want to read something that will make you laugh then have a go at this.

Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch

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Peter Grant #1

I read this book ages ago but was debating about whether to review it on here because I’m not sure exactly what genre it sits in. I read books 3 & 4 over half term and concluded that, although there is some sex and violence, it’s no worse than some other YA novels and the writer Ben Aaronovitch also writes Doctor Who episodes. Can you get much cooler than that?!

The book begins with PC Peter Grant. His mum is from Sierra Leone and his dad is a white jazz musician who probably takes a bit too much coke; which Peter has to ignore in his professional capacity. He is securing a crime scene in Convent Garden when he bumps into a ghost. He was previously unaware that he could talk to ghosts so it was a bit of a surprise. His partner is the switched on (and gorgeous) Lesley May and when he isn’t trying to get her in to bed she is giving him her sage advice about how to get on in policing. Peter is a born and bred Londoner and I suspect that the author is too because the wealth of information about London is amazing. Peter is absorbed into a section of the Met run by the enigmatic (look it up people!) Nightingale who seems to have been alive for a very long time. He drives a lovely jag and lives in a place off Russell Square called the Folly with his dog Toby and a very strange servant type lady called Molly.

As Peter starts investigating a murder and other magical goings on in London, Nightingale explains to him that all the previous magicians were killed in an offensive during WW2 and he is the only one left. Peter is the first apprentice magician for 50 years and magic takes an awfully long time to learn.

This book is witty, entertaining, funny, a little bit rude – and brilliant. If you love Doctor Who you will love this. The series is currently five books and The Hanging Tree is being published in the next couple of days. Aaronovitch is so knowledgeable about London, police procedure and rivers (this will become clear when you read the  books!) that you become absorbed in his world. The Faceless Man is a little like ‘he who shall not be named…’ and there is a lot of tongue in cheek references to HP but, if you enjoyed them and are looking for a new series to become obsessed with, look no further.

Battle Lines (Dept. 19 #3) – Will Hill

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Spoiler Alert – MAKE SURE YOU HAVE READ THE FIRST TWO BEFORE YOU READ THIS REVIEW

 

 

 

 

Read them?

Ok, so Larissa is in America with SP9, Kate has joined a special unit that is investigating all the operators to try and find out who the leak is, Jamie is still angry and Matt is still working on the Lazarus Project and fancying a Russian girl. They are all still friends though. Jamie’s Dad is still locked up in the base in America and Larissa starts to get curious about who the mystery man is that’s in the cell, she starts to do some investigating of her own, while fending off the advances of a chap called Tim who wants to go out with her (never mind the fact that already has a boyfriend). She is, however enjoying being in America where people are a little more accepting of the fact that she is a vampire. She has also made some great friends as well and is in two minds about whether she wants to return to the UK, despite the Jamie situation.

In the meantime, Kate and Matt’s dads have made friends and have started to investigate the possibility that Dept. 19 actually exists. Several high security facilities have been attacked and all the patients have been turned into vampires. The problem is that they are much more powerful then normal newborns and Matt has some ideas as to why that is.

Lots of things happen in this book, despite the fact that they are all only about 17 the four main characters have all been promoted to Lieutenant and take on loads of responsibility. The interesting thing about this one is that one of them is starting to question the need to just goes out and kill vampires because they’re vampires. It’s likened to ethnic cleansing, which I suppose in a way it is. The team are starting to struggle a little bit with the concept of what they are doing. This is setting the last book up to be really explosive.

This is also a big book. At 701 pages it took me a week to read. I love the way they are written and really like the characters but, time doesn’t seem to move on very much and you kind of get the feeling that a lot is happening in a really short space of time, which in turn becomes a little unbelievable. It’s also a bit unrealistic to accept that grown up people with years of battle hardened experience listen to a bunch of kids. There is also the relationship between Jamie and Larissa, which is all a bit intense but at the same time, not.

That said, this is a great series and I really like it. I think it appeals to both boys and girls and has the right amount of horror to not make it too gory and the right amount of romance to make it not too gushy.

Another great book by Will Hill and I cannot wait to read the last one. The conclusion should be fantastic and I really hope that Dracula gets his comeuppance. He really, really deserves it.