Saturday, May 16, 2015

Review: The Novice by Taran Matharu


Title: The Novice (Summoner 1)
Author: Taran Matharu
Publisher: PanMacMillan / Hoddler Children's Books (2015)


When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help. 
As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.

I was fortunate enough to get an ARC of this title from PanMacMillan (THANK YOU!!!) and could not wait to get tucked in. I mean, just look at that cover. LOOK AT IIIIT!

Anyway.

This is the kind of book that reminds you of other books, but in a nice, warm familiar way. I was reminded of so many of my favorite books, games and films while reading this, but it somehow did not manage to be offensive like Eragon was. Remember Eragon? The most pointless, long-winded YA fantasy series ever?

Somehow, this book felt familiar and completely new all at the same time. I LOVED that. There were completely unique elements to the story that I had not read anywhere else.

The pacing of the story is excellent and sometimes even felt a little too fast, but at no time did I feel like I had no idea what was going on. Every part of the world Matharu introduces is done so tactfully that  it never feels like a giant info-dump.

If you are looking for some great action, awesome characters and dialogue, you cannot go wrong with The Novice. I have no doubt this this is going to be one of the top YA reads of 2015 and it would make an excellent movie.

The magic system is very interestingly handled and adds to the appeal of this series as it is quite fascinating to read about.

Oh, and did I mention I want my own demon? Igantius is freaking awesome and so cute.

So if you are wanting a fun yet intelligent read or something to get your teens into reading fantasy, this is the book to buy. I cannot wait for book 2, which I suspect will only be published in 2016.

Oh, and do say hi to Taran Matharu on Twitter at @taranmatharu1. :)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Review: Geek Girl by Holly Smale


Title: Geek Girl (Geek Girl #1)
Author: Holly Smale
Publisher: HarperCollins (2013)

Harriet Manners knows a lot of things.  
She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a "jiffy" lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn't quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she's spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend's dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.
As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than the real world did
And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?

I really enjoyed this book, in spite of the writing being more aimed at young teens rather than pure YA like the shelving choices in most bookstores suggests. It kind of reminds me of a series by Meg Cabot, Airhead. Only, Geek Girl is way, WAY better as I find Meg Cabot tends to force her style at times.

While I wish part of the story had been more fleshed out and the pacing more consistent, I still devoured this one easily. It is light-hearted and Harriet is a really enjoyable character to read about.

Having said that I doubt I will invest in the rest of the series as it really is written very simply for my tastes.

I do however recommend this for 12-14 year old teens who are looking for something a little more mature but aren't quite ready for the more traditional YA on offer. This is also a great series for any reluctant readers as it is simple without making the reader feel like they are being written down to.

Review: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson


Title: I'll Give You the Sun
Author: Jandy Nelson
Publisher: Pan Macmillan (2015)

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This is quite easily one of the best contemporary YA's I have read in a long time. It follows the story of twins Jude and Noah who used to be really close until something happened and changed their lives and relationship forever.

This is an interesting, refreshing novel that has a touch of the supernatural to it without it being overbearing or cliche. I absolutely loved the characters and how both the past and present unfolded from the different twins' point of view respectfully.

What really made me all squishy and happy inside was the art references and the fact that Noah's chapters were marked with paint smears on each page. It was a clever device to tell the difference between each viewpoint and also suited Noah's character.

There is romance and heartbreak and I really recommend this for fans of John Green who want something a bit more substantial to sink their teeth into. The writing is wonderful and at no time ever felt under or overstated. Nelson used just the right amount of words.

I really hope this book achieves wide success and highly, highly suggest that you set aside the time to read it.