The Song that Sings Us – A Review

Blurb:
When animals talk, it’s time humans listened.

Harlon has been raised to protect her younger siblings, twins Ash and Xeno, and their outlawed power of communicating with animals. But when the sinister Automators attack their mountain home they must flee for their lives. Xeno is kidnapped and Harlon and Ash are separated.

In a thrilling and dangerous adventure they must all journey alone through the ice fields, forests and oceans of Rumyc to try to rescue each other and fulfil a mysterious promise about a lost island made to their mother.

My Review

Harlon lives with her mother and two siblings, Ash and Xeno, in an isolated cottage in the mountains. They live in a society ruled by the Automators, people who hate nature and only want to subdue and use it for their own devices. Ash and Xeno are listeners, they can hear the thoughts of animals and this skill has been outlawed by the Automators. The story opens with a force of Automators coming for the family and the three children have to escape. Their mother stays to fight off the attackers and there follows a thrilling account of the children’s escape down the mountain on snowboards.

Very soon, the siblings get separated and they end up trying to bring down the automators in very different ways as they meet different groups of people who are rebelling against their rule. As they join the rebellion, the children also find that there are a lot of unanswered questions about their mother. Who was she really?

This is a fantasy adventure story with a very strong environmental message. The three children each have very distinct personalities and story lines which all combine at the end for the climax of the story. The novel is fast paced with lots of action as the siblings get involved with the different forces in opposition to the Automators. There is quite a lot of violence as the Automators are ruthless and don’t care who or what they destroy although this is not too graphic. I liked the different points of view throughout the story and the way the animals are given importance including a ship being captained by a tiger. Nicola Davies portrays the world of Rumyc vividly and it is easy to picture the oceans and landscapes where the story takes place.

This is a great teenage or YA read and I’m really grateful to Net Galley and the publishers, Firefly Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for this review.

WWW Wednesday – 13th October

It’s Wednesday again and so it must be time for WWW Wednesday. This is one of my favourite memes and I love reading everybody else’s posts. It’s currently hosted by Sam and it can be found on her blog Taking on a world of words which can be found here. The idea of WWW Wednesday is just to answer three questions about what you are reading, have just finished and are about to read so here goes for this week.

What are you currently reading?

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

This is my current read. It’s the story of three lighthouse keepers who mysteriously disappeared from their lighthouse off the coast of Cornwall in 1972. The story alternates between the three men giving an insight into their lives during 1972 and the three women telling their story to a writer twenty years later. That gives 6 different viewpoints and I’m really enjoying how the author makes each voice sound different. They each have a different perspective and each know different things so gradually a picture is emerging.

What have you just finished?

The Improbability of Love – This was OK. The story was quite complicated and there were a lot of different characters to try and keep track of. I did like the mystery about the painting and the back story about how the last owners of the painting had a acquired it. However, I didn’t really enjoy all of the political infighting in the Art world and some bits I felt could have been left out altogether. I think that the author just tried to squeeze too much into the book and that it lost something as a result.

The Last This one started off well with a nuclear disaster occurring and twenty people being stranded in a hotel in Switzerland. However, I didn’t really care about any of them or about the murder that had apparently taken place. I skimmed it to find out how it all ended but wasn’t fussed at all if I finished it or not.

Mayflies I don’t know if I enjoyed this or not but it was certainly a powerful read. The first part is set in 1983 when a group of lads from Scotland led by Tully on a weekend trip to Manchester to see bands and the sights.

The second part takes us to 2017 when Tully has developed terminal cancer. It deals with how each of the characters deals with this. Tully wants to remain in control and insists that he wants to go to Switzerland to die.

It sounds depressing but it really isn’t. My own brush with cancer a few years ago meant that I really empathised with parts of this. It’s touching and heartfelt but not depressing.

What do you intend to read next?

Beyond by Mercedes Lackey

Definitely no doubt about what I will read next. I have loved the Valdemar books since I first discovered the Last Herald Mage over 25 years ago and I was really excited when I discovered that Mercedes Lackey was writing a prequel trilogy and then it appeared on Net Galley!!!

I am a little bit wary as the Valdemar books seem to have moved into the Teen/YA bracket now. The more recent novels don’t have the emotional kicks that made the earlier books so good but I am still looking forward to reading how the kingdom evolved.

So that’s my WWW Wednesday for this week. What’s yours looking like?

Sundays in bed with …………The Improbability of Love

Sundays in bed with is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl but I came across it recently on Jill’s Book Blog. It is simply a chance to share the book that is by your bed at the moment (or that you wish was by your bed).

This week, the book by my bed is The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild.

Blurb: When lovelorn Annie McDee stumbles across a dirty painting in a junk shop while looking for a present for an unsuitable man, she has no idea what she has discovered. Soon she finds herself drawn unwillingly into the tumultuous London art world, populated by exiled Russian oligarchs, avaricious Sheikas, desperate auctioneers and unscrupulous dealers, all scheming to get their hands on her painting – a lost eighteenth-century masterpiece called ‘The Improbability of Love’. Delving into the painting’s past, Annie will uncover not just an illustrious list of former owners, but some of the darkest secrets of European history – and in doing so she might just learn to open up to the possibility of falling in love again.

The idea of this really appealed to me. After all, who doesn’t want to find a lost masterpiece in an antique shop? However, it hasn’t held my attention as much as I expected. It seems to be falling into that group of books that I class as interesting rather than gripping. It’s very easy to put down which is never a good sign.

I like the main character Annie, and I love the details about the painting and the preservation of old paintings but I think that there are just too many threads and different characters especially for a Saturday night read.

I am interested to see how it all ends up especially the thread that links the painting to art work looted by the Nazis.

Stacking the Shelves 11

The weekend has arrived already and it’s time for another post about Stacking the shelves.  This is a meme hosted by Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

My stacking the shelves posts are all about the books that I get from my local library. Libraries are continually under threat of closure or reduced hours but they are such an important way of getting books into people’s hands that they need supporting. By highlighting the amazing books that I pick up every week, I hope to inspire maybe just one person to visit their library and borrow a book

This week for the first week in absolutely ages, I didn’t have any reserved books waiting for me so my picks are all just random ones off the shelves. The latest Louise Penny is on its way though so hopefully will be here by next week.

This week’s library haul

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain
The cover of this book immediately grabbed my attention and then so did the blurb. It’s the story of a 64 year old postman whose life really revolves around his job. When he is told that he has to retire on his next birthday, he is forced to be honest about his life and who he is.
Stories about people retiring resonate with me at the moment as I am getting used to being at home a lot more and I’m really looking forward to reading this.

Us Three by Ruth Jones
Friends forever………….. is a difficult promise to keep
This is the story of three friends over 4 decades. I love stories about people and how relationships change and grow over time so definitely one to look forward to reading.

The Lamplighters by Emma Storey
Three lighthouse keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse in Cornwall in 1972. Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still trying to come to terms with what happened and then a writer arrives and opens up all the old wounds and the mystery of the men’s disappearance.
This sounds really intriguing and is apparently based on a true story.

A Cold Case in Amsterdam Central by Anja de Jager
I couldn’t go to the library and not bring home a crime novel. This one looked interesting as I love novels set in different cities.

So that’s my library haul for this week. I love the fact that all the books are by authors who are new to me. I’m looking forward to a week of interesting reading. Have you read any of these? What did you think?

MG Takes on Thursday

This brilliant meme belongs to to Book Craic who hosts it on her blog here . Each week the aim is to celebrate Middle Grade books, those amazing books being written for 9-12 year olds. The idea is that you choose a book, post a picture of the cover and also show the publisher and illustrator. Then turn to page 11 and find your favourite sentence on that page. After that, describe the book in three words ( I always find this really hard) and finally, write your review or post a link to your review of the book. What could be easier especially as there are so many fabulous books being published at the moment?

Today I am celebrating the brilliant Ghostcloud by Michael Mann which is published today (7th October).

Ghostcloud by Michael Mann Published by Hodder Children’s Books

My favourite quote from page 11 – And he was extra ordinarily greasy – from the tip of his ponytail, to the ends of his shoes.

This book in three words: Adventure, Loyalty, Ghosts

Preface:
This book is set in London, but not as we know it. It is a London where Big Ben beeps and Battersea Power Station belches out smoke; where bustling river markets float on the rising water and kidnapping is rife; where the Channel Tunnel has closed, ever since the old war ended.
And far below, hidden underground, children are shovelling. . . .

After an opening like that, how could anyone not want to read this book? I love dystopian stories and London is one of my favourite cities so a dystopian MG book set in London must be a winner.

The story is set in a London similar and yet different to our own. We are in the aftermath of a war with Europe, the Channel Tunnel lies derelict and unused and the eastern side of London is flooded. There is a floating market on the Thames at Waterloo and beneath Battersea Power Station, an army of children who have been kidnapped off the streets, shovel coal to provide power for the city. Because the city is fuelled by coal, smog has returned but the smog is changing and seems to be harming the inhabitants.

Luke Smith-Sharma has been shovelling coal for 2 years. He has worked as hard as he possibly can in order to earn an amber ticket which will give him his freedom and allow him to return to his family. One day, he helps a new girl, Jess, and is punished by being sent to clean the sewers in the mysterious East Wing of the station. There he meets Alma, a ghost cloud who can ride the winds and see what is happening in the city. He discovers that he is actually part ghost and can also become a ghost cloud. He also discovers more about the evil Tabatha Margate and her plan for a new third chimney at Battersea, what the smog is and why it is changing.

This is a brilliantly told, inventive story. I loved all the details about the city and its landmarks and the characters of Luke, Alma, Jess and Ravi are really well written. They are well balanced by the deliciously nasty Tabatha and her henchman Terence. The story zips along as the children plot their escape from their power station and discover what is really happening. The conclusion is completely satisfying while leaving enough space for a sequel which I really hope Michael Mann will write.

I read this book as an ARC from NetGalley but am definitely going to buy a physical copy as soon as I get to a bookshop. It’s a great MG read.

WWW Wednesday 6th October

Can you believe that it’s the first Wednesday of October already, and time for WWW Wednesday again? This is one of my favourite memes and I love reading everybody else’s posts. It’s currently hosted by Sam and it can be found on her blog Taking on a world of words which can be found here. The idea of WWW Wednesday is just to answer three questions about what you are reading, have just finished and are about to read so here goes for this week.

What are you currently reading?

This was recommended to me by my brother and seems to be a memoir of a boy becoming an adult in the mid eighties in Scotland. At the moment, it’s very light hearted as James and his best friend Tully hit Manchester for a music festival. It’s all about the relationship between the two lads and their other friends as well as their daily lives at that time when lives were hard in the ex mining and ship building communities.

I’ve also just started Evolutionary Magic by Christina Herlyn. I love dystopian novels and was intrigued by this one when I saw it on Net Galley.

What have you recently finished reading?

The Coldest Case wasn’t my favourite of Bruno’s cases but still a good read. I love the depiction of life in the small town of St Denis which is always a strong thread in the book. The actual cold case didn’t interest me as much as some of his cases have done possibly as it was linked to the Cold War which is a period of History that has never really interested me. The forest fire story line which ran through the book was brilliant and very topical after last Summer and this. These books certainly make me want to visit the Dordogne area of France.

What are you likely to read next?

This is definitely next on my list to read. Another dystopian book but this time where the survivors are being picked off one by one in a version of ‘And then there were none’. I suspect I will either love it or hate it.

That’s my WWW Wednesday for this week. I’m really looking forward to see what every one else has in their posts this week.

Spell the month in books – October

I spotted this on Friday on Hopewells library of life but it was created by Jana who blogs at Reviews from the Stacks and she also provided the gorgeous graphic for this on her page. I looked around my room and could instantly spot letters O, C and T and so had to try and create the rest of the month. My own rules were that they were all fantasy and had to be physical books.

O is for Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso – Still on my TBR pile

C is for The City We Became by N K Jemison. Also still on my TBR pile.

T is for Treason Keep by Jennifer Fallon. I love the Harshini books by this Australian author

O is for Ordermaster by L E Modessit Jnr Another of my favourite series – The magic of Recluse

B is for The Burning Kingdoms by Sally Green. The middle book of a great YA trilogy that I really enjoyed

E is for Eve of Man by Giovanna & Tom Fletcher – I’m really looking forward to the final part of this series

R is for The Return of the King – A brilliant book but also the only fantasy book I seem to own beginning with R.

Happy October Reading everyone!

Sundays in bed with ………….The Coldest Case

Sundays in bed with is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl but I came across it this week on Jill’s Book Blog. It is simply a chance to share the book that is by your bed at the moment (or that you wish was by your bed).

This week, the book I was reading last night is The Coldest Case by Martin Walker.

Goodreads blurb – Bruno Courreges is Chief of Police of the lovely town of St Denis in the Dordogne. His main wish is to keep the local people safe and his town free from crime. But crime has a way of finding its way to him.

For thirty years, Bruno’s boss, Chief of Detectives Jalipeau, known as J-J, has been obsessed with his first case. It was never solved and Bruno knows that this failure continues to haunt J-J. A young male body was found in the woods near St Denis and never identified. For all these years, J-J has kept the skull as a reminder. He calls him ‘Oscar’.

Visiting the famous pre-history museum in nearby Les Eyzies, Bruno sees some amazingly life-like heads expertly reconstructed from ancient skulls. He suggests performing a similar reconstruction on Oscar as a first step towards at last identifying him. An expert is hired to start the reconstruction and the search for Oscar’s killer begins again in earnest

This is the 14th book in this series and I love them as much for the detail about life in small town France as the mystery element. Food and the History of the area always play a big part and this one is no exception, Bruno seems to spend at least as much time thinking about food or eating as he does solving crimes but that is part of the book’s appeal. Reading this was certainly an agreeable way to spend an hour last night and again this morning over my coffee.

Stacking the Shelves 10

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The weekend has arrived already and it’s time for another post about Stacking the shelves.  This is a meme hosted by Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

My stacking the shelves posts are all about the books that I get from my local library. Libraries are continually under threat of closure or reduced hours but they are such an important way of getting books into people’s hands that they need supporting. By highlighting the amazing books that I pick up every week, I hope to inspire maybe just one person to visit their library and borrow a book

This week, like last week, I only had one reservation to pick up and just found another three books on the shelves that appealed.

Pulpit Rock – Kate Rhodes This has been on my reservations for ages and has been in transit between libraries for over a month but has finally arrived. I really like these these crime novels set in the Scilly Isles featuring DI Ben Kitto. As I’ve said before, I love crime stories that are really based in a recognisable setting and this series is a great example of that. The characters are well written too so I’m looking forward to this one.

The Last – Hanna Jameson ‘And then there were none’ is a classic mystery story but this is a version with a twist as it’s a dystopian version. The world has ended and twenty survivors are holed up in a Swiss hotel when one of them is murdered. Definitely a book that appealed to me.

No Offense – Meg Cabot – I’ve heard good things about Meg Cabot so I thought that I would give this one a try as a bit of light relief after the first two books in my haul. I loved the cover too.

The Improbability of Love – Hannah Rothschild The cover of this one stood out too and the blurb sounded interesting. Annie Mc Dee discovers an long lost art masterpiece and is dragged into the London Art world with multi millionaires and crooks all trying to get their hands on the painting. It’s supposed to be funny so we shall see.

So that’s this week’s haul from the library: one book that I know I will enjoy and 3 that are unknown quantities. That is the beauty of the library though. If I don’t like any of them, they will go back and it hasn’t cost me a penny.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

M G Takes on Thursday

This brilliant meme belongs to to Book Craic who hosts it on her blog here . Each week the aim is to celebrate Middle Grade books, those amazing books being written for 9-12 year olds. The idea is that you choose a book, post a picture of the cover and also show the publisher and illustrator. Then turn to page 11 and find your favourite sentence on that page. After that, describe the book in three words ( I always find this really hard) and finally, write your review or post a link to your review of the book. What could be easier especially as there are so many fabulous books being published at the moment?

This week I am celebrating a book that’s been around since 2013 but remains one of my favourite MG books.

Phoenix by S F Said. Illustrated by David Mckean. Published by Penguin. co.uk

My favourite quote from page 11 – She glanced at the burned bedsheet; at the smoke that still hung in the air.

This book in three words – Interstellar, adventure, friendship

The supernova is comng……….One boy alone can save the galaxy

Lucky thinks he’s an ordinary Human boy. But one night, he dreams that the stars are singing – and wakes to find an uncontrollable power rising inside him.

Now he’s on the run, racing through space, searching for answers. In a galaxy at war, where Humans and Aliens are deadly enemies, the only people who can help him are an Alien starship crew – and an Alien warrior girl, with neon needles in her hair.

Phoenix is an incredible adventure set in space which crosses galaxies and has an amazing set of characters. The story is told by Lucky, searching for his father who is fighting the aliens in a war. As he travels, he discovers that the aliens are not what he expected and nothing he believed is true. The story is complemented by brilliant illustrations throughout the book which really add to the atmosphere.

The book is really fast paced with the end of each chapter making you want to read on and the ending is sooooooo good. The story deals with how we need to challenge our preconceptions about different groups of people as well as just being a great adventure story. It’s a great read for 10-12 year olds especially those interested in space and science fiction.