Archive for the ‘Panmacmillan’ Category

Review: Vortex – Julie Cross

Cover of Vortex by Julie Cross

Title: Vortex (Tempest #2)
Author: Julie Cross
Publication date: January 3, 2013
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780230757165
Length: 434 pages
Genre: Science Fiction
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

Jackson Meyer has thrown himself into his role as an agent for Tempest, the shadowy division of the CIA that handles all time-travel-related threats. Despite his heartbreak at losing the love of his life, Jackson has proved himself to be an excellent agent. However, all that changes when Holly— the girl he altered history to save — re-enters his life. And when Eyewall, an opposing division of the CIA, emerges, Jackson and his fellow agents find themselves under attack and on the run. Jackson must decide between saving the love of his life and the entire world…

My thoughts

Having read Tempest, the first book in the series, last year, I was really looking forward to reading the second installment and I’m glad to say Julie Cross didn’t disappoint. While I had some issues with the characters at the beginning of the first book, Vortex just grabbed me at the first chapter and made me keep on reading right until the end.

The story pretty much picks up where Tempest ended and since it’s been about a year since I’ve read that book, I spent the first 50 pages trying to figure out what the heck is going on. I didn’t have time to re-read the previous book but in a hindsight, I should have. So here’s tip number one for you: if you haven’t read the first book yet, do so. It’s not one of those series that can be read in any order. I did read Tempest but I was still confused at first. Which leads us to tip number two: if you’ve read the first book but you don’t remember everything (names of the EOTs and minor characters, or how this whole half-jump/complete jump theory works) then make sure to take the time to read it again because you’ll have no idea what’s going on in Vortex. I did manage to get into the story and loved everything about it but still, once I have a bit more time I’ll need to sit down and read both books again.

In terms of the plot, I think there’s less time travelling in this book than what we had in Tempest. The main focus is rather on the fight between the EOTs, Eyewall, and Tempest and the characters themselves, which I didn’t mind at all. While I wasn’t a big fan of Jackson in book #1, I absolutely loved him in Vortex. Also, there are quite a few new characters – like Lily Kendrick, Jackson’s CIA partner – as well as some people we’ve already met, like Stewart (who must be one of my favourite YA characters ever) and Jackson’s dad. Although I really missed Adam, who only plays a minor role in this book, and his conversations with Jackson but the intricate and fast-paced plot and the new characters definitely make up for it. The only character I still don’t get or managed to get used to is Holly – I still think she acts like a spoilt brat and I don’t know what Jackson saw in her.

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Review: Debutantes – Cora Harrison

Cover of Debutantes by Cora Harrison

Title: Debutantes
Author: Cora Harrison
Publication date: 2 August, 2012
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-4472-0594-4
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
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Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

It’s 1923 and London is a whirl of jazz, dancing and parties. Violet, Daisy, Poppy and Rose Derrington are desperate to be part of it, but stuck in an enormous crumbling house in the country, with no money and no fashionable dresses, the excitement seems a lifetime away.

Luckily the girls each have a plan for escaping their humdrum country life: Rose wants to be a novelist, Poppy a jazz musician and Daisy a famous film director. Violet, however, has only one ambition: to become the perfect Debutante, so that she can go to London and catch the eye of Prince George, the most eligible bachelor in the country.

But a house as big and old as Beech Grove Manor hides many secrets, and Daisy is about to uncover one so huge it could ruin all their plans—ruin everything—forever.

My thoughts

What caught my attention when I first heard about Debutantes was the fact that it’s supposed to be ‘the perfect read for Downton Abbey fans’. As a huge fan of this show I just knew I had to read this – and it blew me away.

At the risk of sounding terribly gushy, there was nothing I didn’t like about this book. The story centres around the four Derrington sisters who, a few chapters in, I became really fond of. I love the fact that they all have their own dreams, their own ambitions and they are all so different from each other. Violet is the beautiful, the energetic one; Rose is the youngest of them all and she’s the smart one, Poppy is a bit reserved, the one who doesn’t care for expensive dresses or meeting someone famous or rich. And there’s Daisy, who’s been living in the shadows of her sisters all her life and who’s always there to help them. I loved Poppy and Daisy’s relationship. They reminded me of Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – they are the ones (but especially Poppy) who would rather spend time with their friends and have a good time than spend their days looking for someone rich and marry for money.

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Review: Call Down Thunder – Daniel Finn

Cover of Call Down Thunder by Daniel Finn

Title: Call Down Thunder
Author: Daniel Finn
Publication date: July 5, 2012
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-230-73800-3
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Adventure
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

From the author of the critically acclaimed Two Good Thieves comes another gripping, fast-paced and vividly rendered story of bravery, corruption and survival.

Reve and his sister Mi are alone in the world – their father is dead and their mother has abandoned them. Reve has to learn to be a man – to fight, to fish, to live. He must protect Mi from the rest of the world; she is special, hears voices, can see things. She can call down thunder. Travelling to the big city to search for their mother, Reve and Mi get sucked into the squalid underworld of the sprawling barrio, where danger lurks around every corner, and each day is a fight for survival.

My thoughts

I started Call Down Thunder expecting to read an action-filled mystery written for the young adult generation but about 40 pages in I realised this was going to be something entirely different. All in all, this book for me was like a roller coaster ride. My initial reaction was that this was not my cup of tea, after all. I found the way people talked irritating, and the story quite slow-paced and I was starting to feel discouraged. But since I’m patient and don’t like to quit, I kept on reading and how glad I am for that! Because once I got used to how people talk and got to know them a little bit better, I couldn’t put the book down.

As I mentioned, if you’re looking for a gut-wrenching action novel you’ll be just as surprised as I initially was. The first half of the story introduces us to Reve’s life and what he has to go through every single day to protect himself and Mi. We get to know Tomas, who looked after them after their father died and their mother left the village, and all their enemies. For Reve and Mi might be young, but regular fights and hostility are not unknown to them. I found this bit quite long-winded and slow but once the siblings leave the village in order to track down their mother, I started to really enjoy the story. Reve is a brilliant character who changes a lot by the end of the story. I love his courage, his loyalty and the fact that he’s always there to protect Mi or people who need help – and he’s only a kid. I love how he cling to his loved ones but eventually, he learns how to let go.

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Review: All These Things I’ve Done – Gabrielle Zevin

Cover of All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Title: All These Things I’ve Done (Birthright #1)
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publication date: March 29th, 2012
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-330-53789-6
Length: 350 pages
Genre: Dystopian
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US| Amazon UK | The Book Depository

For Anya, love will become a life-or-death choice…

New York 2082. When Anya is arrested for attempted murder, the District Attorney offers her a choice: stay away  from his son or watch helplessly as he destroys her family. It should be a straightforward decision. Except that the DA’s son is the boy Anya loves, and her family is at the dark heart of the city’s criminal underworld. Anya must choose between love and loyalty, knowing that whatever she decides will have shattering consequences: heartbreak or a ganglad war that will tear the city apart.

I’ve heard great things about All These Things I’ve Done in the past few months so I was really excited when I received a review copy of this book. I didn’t know what to expect but in the end, I was genuinely surprised. Is that a good thing? Well, in this case, yes. It’s different from what I expected it to be but it was interesting nonetheless.

The plot itself centres around Anya, a 16-year-old girl from New York, and her family. Anya, who lost both her parents when she was young and who now lives with her little sister and her older brother, is a member of a criminal family. Since her brother was in an accident a few years prior to the story and he’s had a sheltered life ever since, Anya is the one who keeps the family together, who looks after the three of them and who sees to the day to day running of the household. Which is – and I’m not going into details about the story because the synopsis says it all – one of the things I liked about her character the most. I love books with a tough heroine and Anya was definitely one of them.

The first thing that came into my mind when I was reading this story is Romeo and Juliet. Gabrielle Zevin’s book is like a modern Romeo and Juliet with a futuristic twist. I loved the way Zevin presented the world Anya and her family live in. We learn that in 2082, chocolate and coffee are illegal and everything we take for granted now in 2012 is rationed. The city is running out of water so what’s left is becoming more and more expensive. Books no longer exist (yes, can you imagine that?!) because no one can afford paper, and museums had been turned into night clubs. It really is a totally different world from what we live in now – it was a very clever idea.

All in all, I think it was a great way to start this trilogy – I see why some people might say it’s a bit slow paced but I think in this case, it’s inevitable for us to get a clear picture of how Anya’s family, and the whole society works in 2082. The second half of the book is certainly more action-filled and the ending was brilliant – talk about cliffhangers! Gabrielle Zevin definitely made me want to pick up the next book in this series and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the story goes.

The only thing I don’t understand is why it’s classified as a ‘thriller’. I love thrillers but All These Things I’ve Done didn’t seem like one. Dystopian(ish) fantasy, maybe. Thriller, no(t yet). Well, I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. ;)

Rating:

*Thank you to Pan Macmillan for sending me a review copy of this book*

Review: Mice – Gordon Reece

Title: Mice
Author: Gordon Reece
Publication date: February 28, 2011
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback
ISBN:9780230751880
Length: 329 pages
Genre:  Suspense thriller
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | The Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

Sixteen year old Shelley and her mother move to Honeysuckle cottage in the middle of the countryside, fleeing their fears and anxieties and hoping to put behind them years of suffering at the hands of others. Shelley has endured terrible bullying from the girls who used to be her best friends, and her mother has been left reeling following a divorce from her selfish, demanding husband. For Shelley and her mother are ‘mice’ timid, nervous and obliging. And for a while, in their cottage-haven, the women flourish. But one night, their fragile peace is shattered when Shelley wakes to hear a creak on the stairs. Someone has broken into the house …

In the shocking, chilling events that follow, Shelley’s world is turned on its head, as the women find themselves tested as never before. And as their lives spiral out of control, the tension reaches fever pitch, and Shelley begins to wonder: if she and her mother are not mice after all, then what are they?

My thoughts

Having received a review copy of this book, I was really excited about picking it up and reading it because it sounded really promising.  As those of you who follow my reviews might know, I absolutely love murder mysteries – I have some kind of an obsession with crime fiction, in fact. Even though Mice is actually a thriller – a genre I haven’t actually read before – it was right up my street. It’s one of those books that you’re simply unable to put down, something that makes you stay up at odd hours in order to find out what happens next. It draws you in to such an extent that you literally can’t move until you’ve finished reading it – only when the story reached a conclusion did I feel like I could breathe again.

What really struck me literally two pages in the story was Reece’s writing style. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of authors whose style simply blew me away but Reece is definitely one of them. His story is so clever and is written in such a sophisticated, such an eloquent way that you cannot help being completely drawn into his world and “listen” to every word he says, or in this case every word the narrator (and protagonist), the sixteen-year-old Shelley says. If I had to choose two aspects of the book that I loved the most then the author’s style would be one of them, followed by its unique storyline.

It’s very difficult to talk about the plot without giving anything away so I won’t go into details. The book, among many other things, deals with a situation where a mother and her daughter know they need to stay calm and not to panic but they’ve repressed their emotions for such a long time that something just snaps. They do something they’d never have done before and their momentary outburst causes several difficulties. Even though Mice is a thriller, the first incident that basically starts the ball rolling wasn’t terrifying in itself, at least for me. The way Reece gives us an insight into what goes on in their mind and how he describes the situation and the consequences was more haunting and effective for me.

All in all, I think Mice would fit into the category of psychological thriller perfectly, where the main emphasis is on characters and the consequences of their actions – or in other words, what they do when reality sinks in.  I wasn’t familiar with Reece’s work right until now but he quickly became one of my favourite writers and after reading this book, I’ll make sure to keep an eye on his upcoming books. He’s just brilliant. I can’t praise him enough.

Rating:

* Thank you to Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of this book for review *

Review: Tempest – Julie Cross

Title: Tempest
Author: Julie Cross
Publication date: January 17th, 2012
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780230756267
Length: 412 pages
Genre: YA fiction

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The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities. But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him. Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

I’ve never actually read any time travel books before so I was really excited when I received my copy of Julie Cross’s debut novel, Tempest. But most importantly, as much as I had no idea what to expect at first, it turned out to be a fantastic book I could barely put down – something which I’d definitely recommend to anyone who likes an exciting, action-packed young adult romance.

I must admit that Jackson and Holly – the two main characters- did not really appeal to me at first. While the story was interesting and it kept me going, I kept thinking about how cold Holly’s personality was and how much of a ‘spoilt brat’ Jackson was. What made me even more doubtful was the fact that this whole time-travel thing with its parallel universe theory and different time lines is quite a confusing issue and Cross keeps you in the dark for a long time. Hence my initial worry about not understanding the story and not being able to emotionally connect to the characters. But what can I say? I was completely wrong.


The characters completely grew on me and I realized how much I misjudged them at first. Jackson is a down-to-earth guy with a likeable nature, someone who’s very charismatic and who will no doubt be a favourite with the female audience. I found it quite touching that even though he’s a cool, rich and popular guy, he had a great relationship with her sister who passed away a few years prior to the beginning of the story, and how much his family meant to him. And how much he loves Holly, of course. The author did a great job letting us a take a glimpse behind the cool exterior and see his more emotional, softer side.

Cross raises several questions in her novel and you can’t help thinking about them either. What happens to your body during a time jump? How come Jackson can go back in time but not forward? Even though she reveals bits of information from time to time, we are constantly faced with new questions we want to find an answer for. Time travel is a tricky issue, a topic that could easily confuse readers but Julie Cross handles it very well, without making it too simplistic or utterly complicated.

Tempest is a brilliant debut novel with a touch of romance and action – a real page turner with a potential to be the next big thing, and a fascinating story that will keep you on the edge of your seat from the very beginning. The second part of the novel raises another question which has, along with Jackson’s solution, completely taken me by surprise and I’m eagerly waiting for the sequel and finding out how their story continues.

You know your girlfriend is in danger if she stays with you and the only way to protect her or keep her alive is to let her go. Would you?

Rating:
* Thank you to Macmillan Children’s Book for sending me a review copy of this book*