Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Reviews: Four YA Gems I Read Recently.

I must apologies for the lack of rants of late. These days most of them occur inside my head and detail an annoyance at myself rather than anything else in particular. But I am in dire need of a blog, so today's offering will feature some incredible books I've read recently and some little blurb style reviews that will hopefully inspire you to grab hold of a copy, or at the very least investigate further.

With the announcement that YALC will  go ahead for the second year running - that is, the Young Adult Literature Conference - the subsequent giddiness has prompted me to scream the praises of some home grown authors as well as those incredible talents from overseas.

Joe Abercrombie: Half a King
Yes! Yes! Yes!
This book has all the feeling of a Games of Thrones novel - with perhaps a dash more hope and slightly fewer character deaths - but it's treatment of sex and violence is whittled down to a more accessible level. This is not a bad thing! And this book is not without violence and torture and pain. But this treatment of the issues and the way it is handled really allows the characters to shine through. And it is the characters and Abercrombie's incredible ability to build a world and capture you in it, that really make this book work.
What's not to like about Yarvi, the deformed Prince? What's not to admire about his downturn, his fight, his inner strength and his determination to take revenge and find justice? He's a protagonist with obvious physical restrictions, but also an inner strength and an in depth knowledge of other cultures and languages that may eventually allow him to find his way home and take back what is rightfully his.
But it's not only Yarvi that keep this book flowing, his wayward band of friends and his dysfunctional, power hungry and down right cruel family keep you guessing throughout.
A fantasy trilogy not to be missed.

Melinda Salisbury: The Sin Eater's Daughter
Who isn't raving about this book? Don't know, but I am.
Wow! Awesome-a-mundo. (Can honestly say I've never used that phrase before.)
Again, the first in a trilogy and I can tell you there will be even more excitement when book two comes out. (Oh and check out the awesome cover art.)
Twylla is the embodiment of the Goddess Daunen. Her mother is a Sin Eater. Twylla is betrothed to the Prince. Oh and one more thing, Twylla can't touch anyone without killing them....
Or can she? Enter new guard, Lief, who throws up some interesting questions. Was it all misunderstanding and misrepresentation? Or is this in fact her destiny, to be the executioner, to kill with a single touch?
This book is filled with sumptuous imagery and a world you could quite happily enter, though you might prefer to be a fly on the wall, heaven forbid you should make it onto the Queen's radar. It's a world of belief and betrayal, of lies and loyalty, of fairytale and fealty. It's a world of evil Queens and weak Kings, of forbidden love and sins. 
Who's going to eat yours?

Marie Rutkiski: The Winner's Crime
Book two of this totally absorbing trilogy. Kestral and Arin are at it again: telling lies, keeping secrets, blaming the wrong people and putting themselves in increasingly dangerous situations. But who are they doing it for? Themselves? Their families? Their people? Or each other? And who stands to benefit?
On either side of a long and hateful war, Kestral and Arin strive to do the best they can for their people whilst surviving the hardships brought on by their separation and subsequent decisions.
Tensions run high in this sequel to The Winner's Curse, and so thick even Kestral's dagger can't slash through them. Feelings are ignored and deflected, disguises are seen through, but who will discover just what they are up to? And what will the consequences be?
Oh my, I really need book three. Now!

Ksenia Anske: Rosehead
I have reviewed this book twice and had it refused by amazon reviews, so screw them, I'll write an even better one here, where I am not censored. (Not that there was anything to censor in the first place.)
For those of you that haven't heard of Ksenia Anske, she is a twitter goddess and a wonder of all things self published in YA. She gives her books away for free, though I urge you to pay for them, and offers you virtual cookies when you're sad. This woman dresses up as her protagonist when doing book tours and is as bonkers as her writing. Check her out!
The beauty of this book and the author is that you never know what to expect. Whether it's the talking dog who only talks to his owner and best friend, Lillith, our protagonist. Or whether it's the fact that the buildings move and the rose garden would like to eat everybody, you are going to be constantly shocked, moved and absorbed.
The friendship between Lillith and Panther - her talking dog - is hilarious, their sarcastic banter something one could only strive for, and the fact that he only talks to her: priceless. The burgeoning friendship between Lillith and mute boy Ed is adorably funny and charming. Then throw in German relatives, rooms that drink blood and you've got yourself a fantastical world made oh so real by Anske's penmanship.
If you like an author that shocks and excites, immersing you in the story head first, then check out Rosehead, but be warned, you may never look at a rose garden in the same way again.......

Alright, that's enough for now. I hope I've inspired some of you to buy a book or at least check out these authors and their incredible stories. Read, read, read everyone. It's brilliant!

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