Bloodrose

by Andrea Cremer (Sphere) ISBN: 9781907411373 R200 



Cremer finishes the Nightshade trilogy in style. The battle between the keepers and the searchers is set. Shay accepts his destiny as the Scion. He and his team travel to the sacred sites to assemble the sword needed to defeat the evil Bosque Mar. Calla, Ren & Shay are set to return to Vail and face their worst nightmares. 

Calla sets a new standard as a teen fiction heroine. She is strong, brave and can think for herself. She is one of the heroines I would encourage my teenage daughter to read, if I had a teenage daughter. 

Searchers, Connor, Anika, Ethan and Adne add layers to the final instalment. New bonds are forged, love found, and lost, and sacrifices made. There is no perfect ending which is exactly as it should be. However, the ending is perfect for the story. 

Like the other novels in this trilogy, Bloodrose is well-written, well-plotted and driven by worthy characters. This really is a good read. 

Amanda Patterson
4/5 

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The Art of Fielding

by Chad Harbach (4th Estate) ISBN: 97800007418695 R195

 

Henry Skrimshander has the potential to be a ‘Jonty Rhodes’ of fielding in American baseball.

 

Plucked from obscurity in South Dakota by Mike Schwartz, a Westish College player, Henry is thrown into a privileged world. He is a gifted fielder. He has prescience. He knows where the ball will land before it hits the bat. 

 

Schwartz tries harder than anybody but knows he isn’t special. Not in the way Henry is. He mentors and coaches the player who may be able to keep his dream alive.

 

Guert Affenlight, the college president, falls in love with Henry’s roommate, Owen. Pella, Guert’s daughter, falls in love with Mike. And Henry, after one misthrow where he accidentally hurts Owen, loses his magic.

 

The art of Fielding is well-written, the characters are interesting enough. However, it is a mediocre story without any magic. I will forget the story by tomorrow and I will not remember the characters’ names next week. I don’t understand the fuss and fanfare surrounding this book. The many literary references and themes may have tricked academics into praising an ordinary book.

 

Amanda Patterson

2.5/5

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Wither

by Lauren DeStefano (Harper Voyager) ISBN: 9781442409057

 

Genetic engineering has produced a flawless generation of strong, disease-free people. However, their children are born to die young. Girls live until 20. Boys die when they are 24.

 

Rhine Ellery is kidnapped as a 'bride' in this bleak dystopian offering. She is taken into a mansion with slaves and sister wives, and a husband who is kind to her. Her father-in-law is cast as the villain, his son a weakling.

 

The world is divided into two camps - those who are pro finding a cure, and those who want the human race to die. This should make for a brilliant book.

 

DeStefano has a great idea, her writing is good enough, but the book lacks a soul. I think the problem lies in the protagonist. I could not identify with Rhine. Her more disposable ‘sister wives’, Rose, Jenna and Cecily were far more interesting.

 

There is too much back story in Wither. Perhaps the second book will be better, but I have lost interest.

 

Amanda Patterson

2/5

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Mockingjay

by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) ISBN: 9780439023511 



Katniss becomes The Mockingjay. She is the Che Guevara of Panem. A face that inspired an uprising and a full scale rebellion. She is barely alive in District 13 after being rescued from the arena by rebel forces. Peeta, the boy she was supposed to save to become the face of this revolution, is trapped in The Capitol. 

This is the book that really sets Collins aside as a writer for me. There is no pretence of a never-ending series of books. This is as gritty and real as it gets. And no, I never want to be in The Hunger Games. I never want to be Katniss. Nobody does. The fact that she can write this dystopian novel without any sugar-coating, and still make you care for the character, is a feat. There is no silly 'Bella' torn between choosing a vampire and a werewolf. This really could happen. 

Katniss, the girl on fire, must face the end alone, and she must make the choices nobody ever wants to make. Collins is an exceptional storyteller. Read this series – even if you are cynical, especially if you are cynical. 

Amanda Patterson
4.5/5

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The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) ISBN: 9780439023481 



The Hunger Games is a Young Adult Dystopian novel. Imagine a destroyed world. Imagine Ancient Rome. Imagine The Colosseum. 
Katniss Everdeen is 16. She lives somewhere in the future in District 12 of Panem. The Capitol of Panem cruelly controls the half-starved population with food rations and ‘peacekeepers’. 

Every year, each of the 12 districts must send ‘tributes’ to compete in The Hunger Games. The tributes are children from 12 – 18, their names drawn in public at the ‘reaping’. The tributes get to compete in the biggest show on Earth. A girl and a boy from each district are styled, coached and thrown into an arena. The games are sponsored, and televised 24 hours a day. 

The catch? Only one of the 24 comes out alive. The contestants have to kill each other. Horrifying, and yet familiar, Suzanne Collins has written an extraordinary novel. Using reality television, Collins holds up humanity’s future, its present and its past. Would you watch these games? Be honest. 

Katniss is so human, so imperfect and so perfect for the role she never wanted. Selfish, brave, and pure, she becomes the Capitol’s worst nightmare. Read this book. It’s worth every page. 

Amanda Patterson
4.5/5

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Catching Fire

by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) ISBN: 9780439023498 



Katniss Everdeen is alive. She and Peeta have both survived The Hunger Games. Spiritually destroyed, psychologically hollow, the pair is back in District 12. Katniss’s friend, Gale, holds her at an icy distance. Was the ‘great love story’ of Katniss and Peeta that played out on television screens, real? As victors, they must embark on a Victory Tour of the districts. They must look the murdered children’s families in the eye, and celebrate. Katniss soon realises that her defiance has fuelled a rebellion she cannot stop. 

As the series develop, Katniss understands why Haymitch, her District 12 fellow victor and mentor, cannot exist without alcohol. She realises that she must fight. She has been a slave to a society that sacrifices its young, and starves its citizens. She must use her power. And when Peeta and Katniss are forced back into the arena for another Hunger Games, she knows she must save Peeta. 

Suzanne Collins has done it again. She writes fearlessly. There is no sentiment involved when she dissects the horror. Catching Fire is possibly even better than The Hunger Games. 

Amanda Patterson
4.5/5 

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15 Seconds

by Andrew Gross (Harper Collins) ISBN: 9780007296903

 

Amanda is an unhappy teenager. She's high, on her way to work, when she loses control of the car she's driving. She kills a young mother and her eight week old son.

 

Plastic Surgeon, Dr Henry Steadman is on his way to a medical conference in Florida. He is stopped by police for no apparent reason. He is detained and manhandled. But that's just the beginning. A policeman is shot and he is framed for the murder.

 

The only person who believes he is innocent is Carrie Holmes, the woman who answers the phone when he calls the hotline set up to catch him.

 

Amanda and Henry’s stories are linked. Aren't they?

Intricately plotted, and perfectly paced, 15 Seconds is a gripping thriller. Clever writing, plausible twists and interesting characters elevate this story. 

 

Andrew Gross is a brilliant crime writer. I read this book in a day.

 

Amanda Patterson

4/5

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The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) ISBN: 9780439023481



Imagine a destroyed world. Imagine Ancient Rome. Imagine The Colosseum.

Katniss Everdeen is 16. She lives somewhere in the future in District 12 of Panem. The Capitol of Panem cruelly controls the half-starved population with food rations and ‘peacekeepers’. Every year, each of the 12 districts must send ‘tributes’ to compete in The Hunger Games. The tributes are children from 12 – 18, their names drawn in public at the ‘reaping’. The tributes get to compete in the biggest show on Earth. A girl and a boy from each district are styled, coached and thrown into an arena. The games are sponsored, and televised 24 hours a day.

The catch? Only one of the 24 comes out alive. The contestants have to kill each other. Horrifying, and yet familiar, Suzanne Collins has written an extraordinary novel. Using reality television, Collins holds up humanity’s future, its present and its past. Would you watch these games? Be honest.

Katniss is so human, so imperfect and so perfect for the role she never wanted. Selfish, brave, and pure, she becomes the Capitol’s worst nightmare. Read this book. It’s worth every page.

Amanda Patterson
4.5/5

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Explosive Eighteen

by Janet Evanovich (Headline Review) ISBN: 9780739378229

 

I've read 17, so I had to read Explosive 18.

 

I'm glad I did. I was so anti-Stephanie Plum at the end of Smokin' Seventeen. She was beginning to remind me of Bella Swann at her most pathetic. Whining about everything, caught between loving two men, and always having to be saved.

 

She managed to redeem herself - a little. Stephanie seems to be growing up. Finally! She still makes silly mistakes and gets into crazy situations but her efforts to save herself are improving. She has a real gun, a car that doesn't explode and she's seriously considering her future. She even has some money.

 

Everybody is there, from Vinnie - her slimy boss, to Lula - her sidekick, to Joyce Barnhardt - her nemesis. Ranger appears, and disappears, as usual. Morelli is back in her apartment. Everybody is trying to kill Stephanie, but she kicks and shoots and talks her way from Hawaii to New Jersey. 

 

Evanovich is a funny, talented writer. I hope she allows Stephanie to settle into adulthood properly in novel number 19

 

Amanda Patterson

3/5

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Death Comes to Pemberley

by PD James (Faber & Faber) 9780571283583

 

PD James has done a remarkable job of reconstructing Jane Austen’s greatest literary triumph. It was easy, at first, to be lulled back into the world of Elizabeth and Darcy. Everything was so familiar.

 

Six years have passed. Happily settled at Pemberley, the happy couple are the proud parents of two beautiful boys.

 

Jane and Bingley live close by with their three children. Mary is married to a vicar, and Kitty is at home with her parents.

 

Lydia arrives, unannounced, on the eve of a grand ball at Pemberley. She is distraught. She believes her husband, Wickham, has been murdered in the woods. With this news Austen disappears and James takes over.

 

Darcy becomes so like her other literary detective, Adam Dalgliesh, it’s disconcerting. He is tormented and cerebral, and I prayed he would not begin writing poetry in the fashion of Commander Dalgliesh. Thankfully, he did not. Elizabeth is subservient and lost in this novel, and it is a good thing that she is not ever present. Most of us prefer to remember her the way Austen created her.

 

James weaves an intriguing tale, as always. She is a great crime writer, and I learnt so much about the English legal system in 1803-1804.

 

If anyone else had written this book, and if it were not linked to Pride and Prejudice, would it even have been published? I don’t think so. The book is dense and slow, and not quite what today’s reader wants.

 

Amanda Patterson

3/5

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