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Michelle Moore (Dartford, United Kingdom)
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Blink of an Eye
Blink of an Eye
by Cath Staincliffe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.91

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars TV Drama waiting to happen!, 28 April 2013
This review is from: Blink of an Eye (Hardcover)
Following a family barbecue on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Naomi and Alex are driving home when they are involved in a fatal car crash - Alex suffers from broken bones, Naomi almost dies, and is left with no memory, and a young nine-year-old girl is knocked off her bike and killed. To make matters worse, Naomi's sister Suzanne insists her younger sibling had been drinking too much, and shouldn't have been driving.

The story starts at the barbecue, and is told from alternative points of view - Carmel, Naomi's mother, and Naomi herself. Carmel is convinced her daughter would not have driven when drunk, which puts her at odds with her oldest daughter, who can't forgive Naomi for what she's done. During her parts of the story, we also learn about her own background, as well as insights into the sister's relationships.

Naomi's part is told from when she first wakes after the accident, dealing first with physical issues, and then the emotional ones. This for me was one of the strengths of the stories, being with Naomi as the full weight of the accident bears down on her.

I have to admit that for me, the first half of the story was the weakest - the accident didn't have the impact I expected it to, and I couldn't connect that well with Carmel as she reflected on her early life. I was glad I stayed with it though, because the second half had me enthralled. I had an idea at this half way stage as to where the story may go, and I stayed up far to late to finish the book and find out if I was right.

Cath Staincliffe takes instances which could happen to any of us, and takes us into it's depths - you can't help but wonder how you would feel and respond in the same situation, and characters are real and believable. Her experience as a script-writer also shines through - this would work brilliantly as a TV drama, and I would love to see it brought to life.


Deadlands (Deadlands Trilogy)
Deadlands (Deadlands Trilogy)
by Lily Herne
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent YA Zombie Tale, 23 April 2013
Deadlands is a YA book set in South Africa, somewhere in the near future. Most of Cape Town is now infested with zombies, and those unaffected live in enclaves, protected by the mysterious Guardians.

It starts with Lele attending the funeral of her grandmother, which takes a unusual turn when the Guardians arrive to take the body out to the Deadlands, where she will turned into a zombie by the existing ones. In addition, a lottery is held yearly, when teenagers are chosen to be taken by the Guardians, although no one knows why.

Lele now has to go and live with her father and step-mother, and start attending a new school, all of which provides some of the usual YA storylines. As the story develops she also has to deal with her attraction to two different boys. It's interesting to see these usual YA themes wrapped up in a dystopian zombie story, but it works well.

When Lele is chosen by the lottery, she decides to escape, and find her way through the Deadlands - during this time she makes some new friends who teach her how to fight the zombies, and show her that there is a different way. Meanwhile things are changing within the enclaves, and she has to decide which path is the right one.

The level of threat is just right from the zombies - whilst it's always there, it's not too scary or gory for teen readers. As an older reader, I found it a pleasant change from other zombie books I've recently been reading, and I found myself captured by the story. The relationship aspect is well done, and isn't too overpowering, and there are some interesting characters to explore. Lele's story continues in Death of a Saint later this year, and I'm looking forward to reading it.


Zombie Apocalypse! (Mammoth Books)
Zombie Apocalypse! (Mammoth Books)
by Stephen Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Zombie Apocalypse, 13 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Despite reading and watching a lot of horror, I've always avoided Zombies, as they were the one thing which really made me, well, scared. Having gotten into The Walking Dead recently, I seem to have overcome that fear, and now seem to be making up for lost time!

Zombie Apocalypse was one of my recent purchases, along with World War Z, which I haven't yet read. Both of these books seem to be made up of various accounts of events, using transcripts etc, but I have a feeling they are rather different in their approach. Obviously I can't say for sure until I read it, but I get the impression that World War Z is meant to be more serious, whereas Zombie Apocalypse has a rather dark humour running through. I've seen reviews comparing them, but they really need to be assessed in their own strengths.

Zombie Apocalypse is a ` mosaic' book, made of various accounts, taking us from before the zombies, to it's outcome. There are news reports, diary entries, police reports etc, but it's been bought up to date with twitter conversations, emails and blog entries. Although it follows a rough timeline, the stories don't connect - it does read like a collection which has been pulled together.

These accounts have different authors, and that does show. It also means that the different styles will be liked or disliked by various readers. I for one found the blog entries caused me the most amusement (people really will blog about anything!) and the diary entries from a 13 year old girl were my overall favourites. I also enjoyed the setting, which is mainly London - it's always good for us UK readers to see something set where we know.

Reviews appear mixed for this one, and I guess I can see why. Personally speaking, I found it highly enjoyable, and loved the unusual style. It's not to be taken seriously, and you're bound to have sections which you prefer over others. There's a lot to recommend it though, and I shall be looking out for the second book, Zombie Apocalypse Fightback.


What's Up With Jody Barton?
What's Up With Jody Barton?
by Hayley Long
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous for teens!, 27 Mar 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As others have said, there's a lot which can't be reviewed here, as there is a lot which shouldn't be given away. I can say, though, that the story is told from the point of view of Jody, and 15 year old teenager. Jody and Jolene are twins, and they have a rather typical relationship, often bickering, but close at the same time. The trouble starts when they both fall for the same boy, with wide ranging consequences.

The style is perfectly pitched at teens, with a simple chatty style, with just the right touch of humour. My own teen daughter rarely reads, but has already started this one after taking a quick look. However, this style is not overdone, making it a pleasurable read for adults too.

Looking at relationships, cyber bullying, and accepting yourself, this is an important book for teens to read.


Unremembered (Jessica Brody Trilogy)
Unremembered (Jessica Brody Trilogy)
by Jessica Brody
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.58

5.0 out of 5 stars You'll Remember Unremembered!, 2 Mar 2013
A sixteen year old wakes up as the only survivor of an air crash, with no memory of who she is, or where she's come from. The media latch on to her unusual coloured eyes, and she takes on the name Violet. Fostered by a family and their teen son, she starts to realise that there are other unusual things about her. She meets a mysterious boy who claims to know who she is.. but who can she trust?

It's an interesting premise to start a story with, and could have gone in lots of different directions. I thought I had it worked out at one point, only to find out my ideas weren't quite accurate - and then the story developed well beyond what I imagined.

The story itself draws you in from the beginning, and continues to be fast paced. It's continuously moving and evolving, and should keep even reluctant readers engaged. The characters are also well developed, with `Violet' herself being believable as she tries to work out who she is and what's happening to her. There's romance, but never does it take over from the story.

Unremembered is an exciting blend of mystery, thriller and science fiction. It's the first in a new YA Trilogy - for me, the story was wrapped up enough to be satisfying, but has also left me anxious for second book, a hard balance to achieve. An excellent addition to the YA market - highly recommended!


Noah's Child
Noah's Child
by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Simple Yet Touching, 26 Feb 2013
This review is from: Noah's Child (Paperback)
Noah's Child is a short book, just under 140 pages, and is part of a series about childhood and religion. It tells the story of Joseph, a 7 year old Jewish child separated from his parents when threatened by the Nazis. He ends up being taken to an orphanage, where he is instructed how to become someone else.

He is looked after by Father Pons, whom, he discovers, has set out to collect and record all can about being a Jew. He tells Joseph he is trying to save it, in the same way that Noah saved humans and animals during the flood. Joseph and Father Pons develop a wonderful connection as he starts to help him.

It is told from the point of view of Joseph himself, and it manages to portray how events may have been viewed by a child - on it's surface it's a simple story of survival, but the horrors are lurking underneath. There are also some lovely, simple discussions about religion and faith.

It's a short, simple story, but one which will touch and stay with you.


Doctor Who Tardis Flip-top Pedal Bin
Doctor Who Tardis Flip-top Pedal Bin
Price: 37.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let down by the speaker, 26 Feb 2013
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this for my daughter, and it does look rather cool sitting in her room. Unfortunately the sound effects are too loud and too tinny, and so she's shut them off.. although the light still works. It was quite expensive, so the quality of the speaker was disappointing.


The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
by Catherynne M. Valente
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One to get lost in!, 26 Feb 2013
Another great cover, and another long title! `The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There` follows on from `The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making`, which I reviewed last year. It's probably not necessary to read the 1st, if you've picked up this one, but it would certainly add to the experience, so I would recommend going back if possible.

Both books are quite difficult to describe, and I don't think my reviews do them justice. They are, in essence, wonderful fairy stories, with some very imaginative creatures and characters. Catherynne's style is very lyrical, and no matter what strange thing she is describing, the words seem to flow from the page.

Most of the important characters from her earlier adventure are there, but are not themselves. In the world under Fairlyland, she meets their shadows, almost the same, but with differences - some subtle, some not so subtle. Her own shadow, taken from her during that first adventure, is in charge, and September feels that things are not right, and it's up to her to put it right.

Amongst the strangeness and magic, there are serious themes and truths, and this felt like a more grown up book than the 1st. September is now a young teenager, and throughout her adventure, she somehow manages to go through those usual teen thoughts and situations, including learning to think about others, her plans for her future, and her first kiss.

I don't see these books mentioned enough, and I think they have the potential to be future classics - younger readers will enjoy the magical strangeness, whilst those a little older will start to see a little deeper. There are many layers, and I'm sure I will find more on re-reading.

Recommended for readers of all ages who enjoy falling into a book and getting lost there.


Pantomime (Micah Grey)
Pantomime (Micah Grey)
by Laura Lam
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious and Intriguing, 23 Feb 2013
This review is from: Pantomime (Micah Grey) (Paperback)
Pantomime is published by Strange Chemistry, a YA imprint, but I would definitely class it as `cross-over', as there's plenty for all ages.

In fact, this is a book which is generally hard to place within a genre, although I would imagine the sci fi element may become more prominent in subsequent books. It's set in a world which is not our own, but very similar. It has a Victorian feel to it, but also gives the impression of being set in a future somewhere. The main setting is a travelling circus, complete with trapeze artists, clowns, and a freak show.

Most importantly this book is about the characters. Iphigenia - or Gene, as she prefers, is the daughter of a noble family, who's much happier being a tomboy. She also has a secret which threatens to ruin her future. Micah is a runaway who joins the circus as a way to escape. Both are going through a journey, trying to understand just who they are, and find acceptance.

The surrounding characters are also fascinating and well written, with secrets of their own. These people all find their way into your mind and heart, and stay with you long after the book is finished. I've read some excellent YA books this year, but this one may just be my favourite. It's hard to believe that it's a debut book - I savoured every moment, and am impatient for the next book, to discover what else is awaiting in this rich world.

(Reviewed Dec last year, early review copy from NetGalley)


Tempest
Tempest
by Julie Cross
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

4.0 out of 5 stars Forget all you think you know about time travel!, 27 Jan 2013
This review is from: Tempest (Paperback)
Tempest is the first in a YA trilogy, which I would say is aimed more at older teenagers - which also makes it great for us oldies too! I have to sadly admit that if I'd simply glanced at the cover, I would have dismissed this as yet another teen romance book - but once I realised it included time travel, I knew I had to give it a try - and I'm very glad I did!

Our time traveller in Tempest is Jackson, a 19 year old living happily in 2009. Jackson has discovered that he can jump short distances into his past, but his actions there have no impact on the future. As is often said in the book, forget all you think you know about time travel!

He and his friend Adam are carrying out small experiments to find out more about his abilities, and he's enjoying being with his girlfriend Holly.

This all changes when Holly is shot, and Jackson suddenly finds himself in 2007, apparently with no way back. In a short period of time he realises that there's more to his father than he previously realised, and that he may be in a lot of danger. He sets out to befriend Adam once again, to gain his help, and to find Holly, who he originally met after 2007.

It's probably at this point where I felt the most muddled, but I soon settled into what was happening. Unfortunately this is also where for me the story slowed a little - too much time seems spent on Jackson and Holly's relationship, although it does help you to realise how important their relationship is to him.

After a while though the pace picks up again, and everything becomes quite complex.. but not confusing. Their are hints to what the next book will hold, and it all sounds rather exciting.

Thankfully, for me at least, this wasn't `yet another teen romance' and yet the relationships, and emotions, are important to the story. The characters are realistic and well written, and I particularly loved the relationship between Jackson and his twin sister.

There's a bit of everything in this book, and it appeals to both male and female. Even with the slight slow down in the middle, I found myself constantly picking up this book, and my opinion of it has actually grown since reading it. It's certainly not one of those books you put down and immediately forget about. As with the best trilogies, the main story is wrapped up without a massive cliffhanger, but there are enough hints to make you add the next one straight to your wishlist!


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