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Throne of GlassSarah J Maas

Bloomsbury (2012)

ISBN: 9781408832332

Reviewed by Tamara Felsinger

Celaena is an assassin working in salt mines to serve her life’s sentence after getting caught. But the prince and his captain take her away earlier than anticipated in order to enter her in a tournament against the most brutal criminals in the land so that she might win the right to become the king’s Champion. Except, when she gets there, she discovers someone’s killing competitors in the most horrific ways, and she might be next.

I really wanted to like this book. A Cinderella retelling where she’s an assassin sounded cool. But I usually read books in a day, and months later I’m still only halfway through this one so I decided to call it quits. There are plenty of other books in my TBR (To Be Read) pile demanding my attention.

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MT Anderson

Candlewick Press (2002)

ISBN: 978 0 7636 2259 6

Reviewed by Jason Nahrung

American writer MT Anderson’s Feed is a remarkable story. Set in the dying years of a planet earth stripped of its natural resources, it traces a brief few months of a group of teenagers as seen through the first person viewpoint of Titus.

The story begins on a frat visit to the moon, where the teen friends try to grab underage thrills. Titus becomes enraptured with Violet, an enigmatic teenager whose home schooling has given her an altogether different view of their lifestyle.

Titus and his mates are über consumers, linked into an all pervasive feed through neural nets. They can barely take a breath without being bombarded by advertisements for goods recommended based on buying patterns. They are a vacuous bunch, ignorant thanks in part to corporatised education of history or politics, either present or past, with little to no awareness of current events outside the latest fashion trends. Even the lesions slowly eating their flesh are turned into fashion statements rather than warnings of a world on its last legs; one in which the environment is so toxic everyone lives in climate controlled bubbles. Read the rest of this entry »

Danny Fahey

Dragonfall Press (2011)

ISBN: 9780980634150

Reviewed by Stephanie Gunn

The Tree Singer is the debut young adult fantasy novel from Danny Fahey, published by Dragonfall Press.

Twelve-year old Jacob lives in a dying fishing village. There are few fish, there are fewer friends for him and the whole village lives under the shadow of an oncoming plague. He has no hope for his life until the arrival of a stranger, Simon the Healer, who takes Jacob under his wing and teaches him the art of tree singing, helping Jacob on the path to becoming a master flute maker. This path will take Jacob to the city of Cathel, where Jacob and his friendships and relationships will be tested. Read the rest of this entry »

Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth book 3

Orion (2011)

ISBN: 978-0-575-09484-0

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

The Dark and Hollow Places is described on the back of the book as a “companion volume” to two others; in the author’s bio at the back it’s called volume three in a trilogy. I think the second is a more accurate description, and as a result the novel lacks a little when read by itself. Even so, it manages to be an interesting and entertaining read; it’s well suited to the intended young adult audience but will also hold the interest of many adult readers.

The Dark and Hollow Placestells the story of Annah. When she was a child, she and her twin (Abigail), and the older Elias left their village to explore in the forbidden forest. When Abigail fell and hurt herself, Elias and Annah carried on with their adventure. They became irrevocably lost, never able to return to their village. Annah has spent years racked with grief and guilt for her sister. Perhaps she died alone in the forest. Perhaps she too wandered lost and alone. Perhaps she found her way back to the village. Annah has never known and the guilt eats at her every day. Eventually Annah and Elias found their way to the City, one of the few remaining refuges. Here they eked out a living for years. Until eventually Elias joined the Recruiters, a semi-military corps that is supposed to provide some protection for the citizens.  He was supposed to return after his two year hitch, but it’s been three years and there’s still no sign of him.  Annah doesn’t know if he’s dead, or if he’s alive but has chosen not to return to her.

Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

Allen & Unwin (2012)

ISBN: 978 174237 839 8

Reviewed by Jason Nahrung

I read this 350-page book in a little over two days – it’s a hoot. The authors have taken the premise that’s popular of late – a vampire in a high school – and made it palatable. Reasonable. Understandable.

I love the simplicity and sensibility of Team Human’s world, where vampires are a part of life though removed from it, as befits people – they’re definitely people – who do not age, do not eat and do not laugh. Vampirism is regulated, and becoming one carries the risk of death or being left a zombie if the transition fails.

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Julianna Baggott

Pure, book one

Headline Book Publishing (2012)

ISBN: 9780755385492

Reviewed by Stephanie Gunn

Pure is the first book in the post-apocalyptic YA trilogy by Julianna Baggott.

Nine years prior, the Detonations occurred. The presumably-nuclear explosions killed many, and those who survived were physically fused to whatever they were holding or touching during the Detonations.

Pressia is an almost-sixteen-year-old survivor of the Detonations who barely remembers the time Before. The bombs left her with a hand fused to a doll’s head and a crescent-shaped scar on her face. Others bear different scars – her grandfather has a fan fused into his throat, and others bear glass or metal in their skin. Some are fused to other humans or animals, and still others, known as Dusts, are fused to the very earth.

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Brigid Kemmerer

Elemental, book 2

K-Teen (2012)

ISBN: 9780758272829

Reviewed by Tamara Felsinger

Spark is the second book in the Elemental series by Brigid Kemmerer. The first book Storm has done very well in Australia and has just been picked by the popular blogger website Smart Bitches Trashy Books as July’s sizzling book club read. (Link)

Spark is written from Gabriel’s point of view, the bad boy of the Merrick twins. After the chaos from the last few weeks, things aren’t even close to settling down. The Guides are still a threat looming on the horizon and there’s an arsonist in town … which is looking bad for Gabriel considering his element is fire.

As if things aren’t bad enough, Gabriel’s failing math and faces the possibility of being kicked out of his sports teams if he doesn’t start passing. He turns to the smart, quiet Layne in his class for help and discovers she has more in common with him than he first thought.

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NM Browne

Bloomsbury (2011)


Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Wolf Blood was one of those novels that sounded as though it should be good, but which failed to ever engage my interest. I was largely bored while reading this, and was quite pleased when it ended. I think it may be the first of a series (it isn’t labelled as such, but the ending is suggestive), but found I didn’t care at all.

Trista is a Celtic warrior girl, captured and enslaved in battle. She has endured her captivity stoically, despite her eventual realisation that there is no real honor in it. When the only person she cares about dies, she escapes. And promptly finds herself recaptured by two Roman foot soldiers. The soldiers have their own problems though; and before too long Trista is on the run with just one of them. A werewolf unaware of his own nature, the Roman soldier must come to terms with who or what he is – and then decide what side to fight on. Trista and Morcant (the soldier) have a chance to save the Celtic tribes from Roman invasion. Will they act on it? And if they do, will they succeed?

Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer

Allen and Unwin (2012)

ISBN: 978-1-74331-092-2

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

Between the Lines is the sort of book you can hold up to people who say, “Print is dead!” and poke your tongue at them. It’s a lovely package (and it should be noted I’m talking about the Australian/New Zealand Allen and Unwin printing), with gorgeous full colour artwork at the chapter breaks, clever silhouette illustrations popping up on the pages, and a variety of font colours and types used to denote point of view in different chapters. It is pretty, and the pictures are worth poring over – it’s great to see publishers investing in the printed book like this, because it is an edge that regular (ie: e-ink) e-readers cannot match.

Delilah is pretty much an outcast at school, and would rather read than anything else. Her new favourite book is one she can’t even tell her best (only) friend about though – it’s a fairytale, and Delilah finds herself very intrigued by the main character, the prince Oliver. Little does she know, Oliver is intrigued by her as well, and yearns to escape the confines of the story for a bigger world outside. But is that even possible?

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Lee Nichols

Bloomsbury (2010)

ISBN: 978-1-4088-1960-9

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Deception is an extremely good young adult novel; and it’s strong in almost every area, making it difficult to point to any one thing that helps it to catch and keep the reader’s interest.  But it does this well, and will keep most readers engrossed until the end of the novel.

The novel is subtitled “A Haunting Emma Novel”. This appears to be code for book one in a series. As such, although this novel does provide some short term answers, it leaves a lot of loose ends to be addressed in future novels. Although there is always some frustration attendant on this, Deception is good enough that most readers won’t mind – they’ll want to read the sequel(s) anyway

Emma Vaile is seventeen and grumpy.Her parents have gone off on a vague business trip, combined with the intention to visit her brother overseas.  Now none of them are answering their phones or email. And since their only employee quit the day after they left, Emma has to run their antiques shop as well as go to school. And school isn’t much fun either; most of her friends were a year ahead of her and have already graduated, and an ill-fated fling between Emma’s brother and best friend means she’s not even on speaking terms with her friend anymore.

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