18 February 2013

Review: Jimmy Coates 1 - 3 by Joe Craig

"An eleven-year-old boy discovers he has strange powers, and a future that holds mystery, adventure - and death! Who are the mysterious men chasing Jimmy across the city? Why are they after him? What are Jimmy's parents keeping from him and who can he trust? And how come he can suddenly do all this really cool stuff." 

First Line: "Jimmy knew what was coming, but he was too late to dodge out of the way."

The Jimmy Coates series is a riveting, action packed series that gets better and better with each book. Not my normal pick of genre, it took me a few chapters to get into Killer but once I got going I couldn't put it down. Whilst I don't have any complaints about Jimmy himself, why I really enjoy this series is the brilliant selection of secondary characters who add the elements that make this series more than just chases and gadgets. Add in enough humour to not make it too dark and something under the surface to make you think and you have a series that more than capably stands up to the natural comparisons with Anthony Horowitz and Robert Muchamore.

Why I read them: Joe did a brilliant visit to my school in October and I read Killer just before his visit, and then the next two this month. Joe has just excitingly announced that the seventh, penultimate, book in the Jimmy Coates series will be published on June 6th. So I'm posting my review of the first three now and the next three nearer to the release of Jimmy Coates: Blackout.

Who I would recommend them to: If you like fast paced action and clever gadgetry on the surface but want it with appealing characters that grow across a series and something to think about as well.

12 February 2013

Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

"It's 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan to get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in a police investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Should she avoid Jesse, the mysterious motorcycle boy? Can she trust Patrick, her best friend at the bookstore? Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in a quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test."

I really enjoyed this fast paced, unique story with an older, gutsy heroine and a surprisingly moving ending. I preferred this to Between Shades of Grey, I felt it was a more unusual story and setting and had wonderful, individual characters as well as an excellent, tense mystery with some really dramatic scenes but that doesn't overshadow the character development. I read this over a day because I was desperate to find out what happens and I felt that Sepetys' writing was more lyrical and moving that her debut. Also, bonus points for having Josie, our heroine, working in a bookshop.

First Line: "My mother's a prostitute."

Why I read it: I read Sepetys' debut, Between Shades of Grey, when it was shortlisted for the Carnegie award last year and found it very moving so was excited to get an ARC via NetGalley/Penguin for her new novel.

Who I would recommend it to: Fans of Theresa Breslin and character-driven historical fiction.

7 February 2013

Review: Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell

"It's July 1976. In London, it hasn't rained for months, gardens are filled with aphids, water comes from a standpipe, and Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta that he's going round the corner to buy a newspaper. He doesn't come back. The search for Robert brings Gretta's children - two estranged sister and a brother on the brink of divorce - back home, each with different ideas as to where their father might have gone. None of them suspect that their mother might have an explanation that even now she cannot share."

I'm a big fan of Maggie O'Farrell, I would rank After You'd Gone as one of my all time favourites. So I was thrilled to hear a new book announced for March 2013 and nearly died of excitement when I was offered a proof copy on Twitter. Heatwave more than lived up to expectations and is up there with my favourite Maggie O'Farrells. The writing is just beautiful and the characters heartbreaking. Whilst there are plot twists and turns, it relies less on a big reveal than some of her previous stories and more on the intricate exploration of a broken, messy family.

First Line: "The heat, the heat."

Why I read it: I was beyond excited to get a proof copy of Maggie O'Farrell's new book from the wonderful Georgina at Headline Books.

Who I would recommend it to: First and foremost fans of her previous books, I would say this is most similar to The Hand That First Held Mine. If you like lyrical, melancholy books with broken but disconcertingly relatable characters. Fans of Kazuo Ishiguro.