“The Library of Shadows” by Mikkel Birkegaard

The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard starts with the strange death of bookshop owner Luca Campelli. His son, Jon, who hasn’t seen his father since he was fostered after the suicide of his mother twenty years ago, inherits the shop, but is immediately drawn into the secret society of people who can affect your thoughts and feelings when you read or when they read to you, and somebody is trying to destroy them, his father having been their latest victim, and is soon in a fight for his own life.

When I bought this book a few years ago, it was purely based Continue reading

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“Ordinary Thunderstorms” by William Boyd

Can one chance meeting ruin your life? In Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd, academic Adam Kindred finds himself the prime suspect in a murder and decides to go into hiding by not using his mobile phone, credit cards, etc., and living rough in order to avoid the police, while trying to find out why the man he’s accused of killing, was murdered in the first place.

Each chapter follows a different character in the story, Continue reading

“Pompeii” by Robert Harris

Pompeii by Robert Harris is the book for my local reading group this month and it tells a fictionalised tale of the last two days before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the first century AD. Told from the point of view of the Aquarius (the engineer who is responsible for the aqueduct that carries water to the towns in the region), it describes the signs that led upto the point of eruption, and is a thriller of politics and corruption, and a love interest thrown in to boot.

I’ve only ever read one book by Harris before Continue reading

“Ghost Town” by Rachel Caine

This is the latest in the Morganville Vampire series. Claire Danvers has moved to Morganville to attend college there, but has ended up an unwillingly embroiled in the vampire politics of the local community. As the series has gone on, Claire’s fate has become almost inevitably entwined with the Founder of Morganville. The vampires in this series are for the most part, every bit as menacing and dangerous as their kind should be, making for a spine tingling thriller of a plot.

I’ve loved every one of this series of YA books, they’re funny and exciting, and there is a genuine sense of peril for the characters up against the strained relationships between the humans and vampires. A quick, easy read, I know, but the pages just whizz by as I get caught up in Claire’s story. I wondered how Caine would continue the series as the first six or seven books had a cliffhanger to take you on to the next book each time, and the last couple of books have had an uneasy conclusion but didn’t leave you on the edge of your seat exclaiming, “You can’t leave it there!!!!”, but I have liked how she’s developed what’s happening in Morganville. This one doesn’t leave you on tenterhooks as such, but it does leave you feeling you know what the next book will be about, but not how she’ll deal with it.

“The Knife of Never Letting Go” by Patrick Ness

Todd has grown up in Prentisstown – a town on New World, where the early settlers have been exposed to an alien germ which has caused the thoughts of all men to be audible and has killed off the women. The “Noise” is everywhere, and it’s not just the men, but the animals have been infected too. But even this doesn’t stop the town men keeping secrets, especially from the boys. And when Todd is just one month away from becoming a man, these secrets start a chain of events and Todd must flee from everything and everyone he knows …

This book was excellent. The story expands from starting with the small scale of the farm in Prentisstown, gradually revealing the wider landscape of New World and in parallel Todd’s character expands as the experiences force him to develop from boy to man, and because of the first person narrative, the reader learns at the same time as Todd what all the secrets are, and begins to understand what has happened in this broken society.

There is no doubt that violence, rage and corruption of power play a big part in making this story seem very real, but it is the possibilities of what might be at the end of the quest that keep it from spiralling into a nightmarish, dystopian tale, and give the reader a sense of hope and optimism rather than despair.

The author has chosen to write Todd’s speech and thoughts in dialect, so there is some unusual spelling and grammar used, but it is written very much as it would be spoken, so I never felt that it jarred or took me out of the story, more that it added to the feeling of authenticity.

I don’t want to say too much about the other characters because it might give away too much, too early, but the story and the characters affected me, and I don’t mind admitting I shed a few tears at various points in the story, as I could feel the heartbreaking emotions that simple words on a page can evoke.

“Last Sacrifice” by Richelle Mead

In the final installment of the Vampire Academy series, someone is trying to frame Rose for murder, and Lissa and her friends must try to clear Rose’s name.

Rose is one of my favourite characters of recent years. As a dhampir, she is strong and can fight to defend her assigned Moroi and herself against all comers, and as a person, she’s determined, strong-willed and independent, and always tries to do the right thing even if she gets it wrong sometimes.

I have to admit, I’d sort of guessed how Rose and Lissa’s stories would end in this series, but I had a lot of fun reading how they got there, and there were some twists and turns I hadn’t seen coming. I also see where I think some of the other characters will go in the future, and I’m pleased that although Rose won’t be a main character of the next Vampire Academy books, and we’ll follow other people and stories, the author has still said that we will be able to catch up with her in the future as she’ll still be writing about that world.

I think Richelle Mead writes great adventures, develops her characters well and all these books have been fast-paced page turners. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the entire series (despite my initial grumblings about the names which I found difficult to get in my head!), and I’ve also read all her other books as well now. Great fantasy books that are entertaining escapism with strong female characters.

“Waking The Witch” by Kelley Armstrong

Waking The Witch is young witch Savannah’s first full length story, and follows her as she decides to cover her first solo investigation unbeknownst to Paige and Lucas who are enjoying a well deserved holiday. I loved how Armstrong shows Savannah trying to prove that she has conquered her hot-headed, impetuous nature and act like a mature, experienced investigator, all the while making some mistakes and some enemies along the way.

Lots of twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes, the story of the case is pacy enough to keep you turning the pages leading to an almost Scooby Doo style reveal at the end, something I certainly hadn’t seen coming, and it is left with the promise of more Savannah stories to come.

I’ve never been disappointed by a Kelley Armstrong book yet, and this was no exception. A worthy addition to the Women of the Otherworld series.