Publisher: Hodder Children’s
Release Date: 1st April 2015
Publisher: Hodder Children’s
Release Date: 1st April 2015
This review is part of Stacie and Maia’s Random Reads
Publisher: Chicken House
Release Date: First Published September 28th 1999
Summary (From Goodreads):
Welcome to a world from another time — where legendary half-creatures still exist. A world where nature itself can be controlled by unearthly music. A world where the forces of good and evil are held in harmony by the Singers who have mastered the secret Songs of Power. A world on the brink of destruction, threatened by a dark lord whose evil knows no bounds. Rialle and Kherron, two novice Singers, are all that’s left to stand in the enemy’s way. Stranded in a strange land with only one another to rely on, these former rivals must work together if they are to survive. In a timeless coming-of-age journey, Rialle and Kherron discover the strength of spirit that lies within them in their quest to help good triumph over evil.
I picked this book for Stacey as part of our Random Reads feature. I feel like I should announce my bias towards it, as it’s one I’ve loved since I first read it (probably about 14 years ago) and I’ve tried to read it with fresh eyes, but I know part of me is just loving revisiting that world that enchanted me so much as a child.
That said, I’m just going to gush and say I adored it all over again.
The fantasy world that Roberts introduces you to is well developed and just beautiful. Blue haired Singers who use magical songs? Check. Playful but abused fantasy creatures? Check. Creepy priests and warriors with bones in their hair? Check.
Apparently that’s all I need for a good fantasy story.
Well, not all I need. I love the dual point of view, and how different they are. Rialle has always been my favourite, as the ‘good girl’ and just the fact that she was a young girl, like me (or not so much like me now!) but this time round I really appreciated Kherron’s version of events. A bit of an anti-hero, he manages to fight for the right side in the end, but it doesn’t feel like he changes too much as a character – not in a bad way, he just keeps his personality while adjusting his actions.
The relationship between Rialle and Frenn, and Rialle and Singer Toharo are some of my favourites, as are the interactions with the half-creatures. While there might be some romantic undercurrents, it’s great to see a book that doesn’t revolve around that kind of thing. I find friendships more interesting than romances.
There are so many wonderfully fleshed out characters, I can’t go into them all here, but favourites for me include the Khizpriest, our villain who wants to destroy the Singers (and gives me the chills), and Lord Javelly, a young lordling who eats half creatures and thinks he can trick the Singers.
The treatment of the half creatures is a really interesting issue. When Rialle is horrified at people eating merlee eggs, I am too, and think it’s awful to eat their unborn children, but then I remember I do that to chickens on a weekly basis…interesting (though probably not the place to go into that kind of thing).
This is a fantastic start to a trilogy that introduces a world full of magic and possibilities, and sets the foundations for the next two books, which skip ahead a generation so we see what happens to the Singers and their Isle over a longer period of time (which I love). As a book from my childhood, it brings a lot of nostalgia, but all that aside, I think it’s a fantastic fantasy novel that anyone could enjoy.
You can pop over to Stacie’s blog and see her review here.
|Yes, we really need to get a new car!|
|A very welcoming looking home…|
Others were ones I’d been searching for a while and literally squealed when I picked up. This one below is one whose title and author have eluded me for a while, and had me Googling things like “drowning child” and “weird dreams after best friend drowns”.
|My partner chose Fantastic Mr Fox, which I shall be stealing…
Are there any books from 2014 that I should bump up the TBR pile?
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Release Date: 9th April 2015
End Game is really interesting as it’s told from the perspective of Nick, who is lying immobile in a hospital bed. Although he can think and see, he is unable to communicate or move, and he loses himself in dreams and memories about how he got to be there. It was great to see a mystery revealed this way: it had the same kind of dribs and drabs of information leaked that you’d expect in a mystery story, but had to be a bit more creative about the way it happened.
Sometimes though, that didn’t work for me. There were times when characters said things which sounded purely expositional, as if they were there to lead Nick into another flashback. The way some of the scenes were described over dialogue sometimes felt a bit clumsy too: I couldn’t imagine anyone actually speaking like that.
The issues in End Game are quite sensitive and it’s one of those books where it’s hard to point out the good guy and the bad guy, hard to tell if an action was pure evil or a simple mistake. I could see the point of view of both Nick and his father and felt sorry for both of them. It really was a tricky one.
I really enjoyed Nick as both character and narrator, which is a good job, as we spend a lot of time stuck in his head with him. There were several times when he made me laugh out loud, and I could really see his conflicts with his father and his relationship with his family and girlfriend. He felt very real.
The ending took me by surprise and had me racing to finish and see what happened. I don’t want to spoil it but there was a moment of “Oh no! Not after everything that’s happened!” (Nice and cryptic for you)
For me, this was a great re-introduction to Alan Gibbons, and I am going to make an efffort to read more of his books from now. I recommend you all do the same 😉
Soundtrack Saturday is a weekly meme created and run by Erin at The Hardcover Lover. This is my second attempt, as I really enjoyed my last one. Last week I chose to make a soundtrack for Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
This week I decided to do one for All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. It’s my first five star review in a while and there were a few times when reading it that I felt my music really lined up to it. I may have been a little heavy with the water imagery though…
Hoping against a hope,
It’s rail thin.
All that you know from now:
You’d be waitin’.
So you walk the path through the sea of sleepers
And keep your eyes ahead.
Cos you know that light is finders keepers,
But what you found instead
Is no one was made for this,
To be lonely.
Keep it against your chest,
This is only
Everything reminds me of you,
Somewhere out roaming tonight,
You fought the bottle, and I
Came out behind.
Now everything reminds me of you,
Oh but the fire,
Will carry less higher,
Ready set go, gotta get out of this small town
The open road, air to breath, the sun is shining down
It’s you and me in a land of the free, so baby let’s run
While we’re young in America
In the start, in the dark I didn’t know
What you felt like on the inside, but the outside view was quite nice
Then we spent days in bed and time went slow
We started out adventure as we ventured out together
That our love was growing
I have fallen so many times
For the devil’s sweet, cunning rhymes
And this old world
Has brought me pain
But there’s hope
For me again
Well, won’t you take me down to the levy, take me down to the stream, take my down to the water,
we’re gonna wash our souls clean
Skipping beats, blushing cheeks I am struggling
Daydreaming, bed scenes in the corner café
And then I’m left in bits recovering tectonic tremblings
You get me every time
Why d’ya have to be so cute?
It’s impossible to ignore you
Must you make me laugh so much
It’s bad enough we get along so well
Say goodnight and go
Ain’t Gonna Drown – Elle King
(the Ending Song)
Train’s coming but I’m stuck on this roadMoon’s rising and my blood is growing coldPreacher man can’t save a soul like mineMiracles are just too damn hard to find
Publisher: Little Brown
Release Date: 26th February 2015
This book picks up where the last left off, with the Colonists hurtling to Earth, ready to disturb the life the hundred have worked to build. Drama does, of course ensure, along with a battle for peace between the hundred, the Colonists and the different factions of the Earthborns.
But none of that matters, because all of our protagonists are too busy moaning abour their love lives.
Seriously. I know I’m not exactly the champion of romances (they often annoy me) but I can get onboard with a good coupling or two. But this book is just obssessed with the petty dramas of their relationships when there’s so much bigger stuff going on.
Even so, I could accept all that – I’ve been a teenager, I’ve been in love, I know how all-consuming it can be (though I’m not convinced it takes priority in this situation) – but I just don’t believe in any of these couples. I realised part way through that they were all interchangeable. I could be reading about Glass and Luke, Bellamy and Clarke or Wells and Sasha and not know the difference: they all have the same burning passion for each other, they all see their men as brave and loyal and they all see their women looking more beautiful than ever in the sunlight. There was no discernible differences between them.
Aside from that, I felt like messages and character traits were really shoved down your throat. A lot of the start of the book was spent reminding you what happened in the first one, and who everyone was. And I felt I was constantly being told how people were feeling and what they wanted rather than being shown it.
Overall, this series has disappointed me. I really loved the idea and just wish that the plot and writing style could have lived up to my expectations.
Take it or leave it
If you’d like to see what Stacie has nominated me to read then hop on over to see her post – and while you’re there, check out her swanky new blog, which has been done up and looks amazing!
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
What I loved about this book more than anything were the characters. They really just sang to me, and I felt really connected to both Finch and Violet equally. While I tend to lean towards female charcters (being female myself) there was something about Finch that was just infectious.
This book deals with a lot of heavy issues and is not for the faint hearted. Violet’s survivors guilt after her sister’s death was a real driving force in the story and it was uplifting to see her slowly come to terms with it and learn to start coping, however painfully it might be, without her sister.
Finch, on the other hand, goes the opposite way, and gradually gets worse throughout the book. Even though I kind of knew where it was going, it didn’t make it any less painful. I wanted to shout at him to get help and sort things out, but it’s not always easy for people to do that (and definitely not easy for Finch). I loved his quirkiness and the fact that it was all weirdly rational, rather than just being another quirky YA hero who’s there to save the female from herself.
That said, I wasn’t sure about that aspect of their relationship sometimes. I loved the way it grew and how it seemed so natural for them to become friends (at Finch’s insistance) and then slowly more. But I don’t like the idea that it just took a good man to help Violet find herself again and start living after her sister’s death. I’m simplifying a bit there but there seems to be a bit of a trend towards that these days and it irritates me.
When all is said and done though, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. When it came to the climax and I found myself speeding up reading because I was desperate to know what happened, and when it hit me what did I was left with such complicated emotions, I dwelled on them all day. It’s always so good to see mental health issues discussed in an honest way in books for young adults, and this is one of the better ones.
I actually found this pretty hard, I need more princess/queen story suggestions!