Sunday, 29 May 2011

Tales of Woe Part II

America Pacifica - Anna North
Hachette - Little, Brown
Available : August 2011

It just so happens that I have read two post apocalyptic stories in a row and while their tales of woe are similar the overall message has been quite different....

The first, in Steven's world was due to a super/natural disaster opposed to Anna's self imposed version where the world has been thrown into an Ice Age caused by human abuse of the environment - Global cooling rather than warming. I must say I find this idea far more frightening than the prior, as it represents a future we could share.

The story is told from the perspective of 18 yr old Darcy Pern but make no mistake this is NOT a YA title as the themes are quite confronting including prostitution, drug use, suicide and poverty to name a few. Darcy and her Mum share a very close and sheltered relationship which is quite beautiful in its own personal way, living close to the outskirts of the poor and depressing island civilisation called America Pacifica where most bar an elite few must struggle for survival with low level jobs and meagre food supplies consisting almost entirely of reconstituted Jellyfish and seaweed.

The main theme and one that I found most interesting was the greed of humanity and our inability to adapt and move with nature, instead clinging to the things that are familiar and comfortable - keeping them from creating a society where the majority could be happy and provided for rather than the few.

This is a gritty debut novel that despite the violence, sadness and all together hopelessness I experienced reading it I couldn't put it down. There is also the untapped story of those who were left or chose to stay on the mainland to adapt to the new subzero climate - I hope that story comes soon....

Tales of Woe part I

The Broken Ones - Steven M Irwin 
Hachette - Little, Brown
Available: September 2011

When I first started reading this as a blind proof my initial thoughts were: This is disturbing on a deep and residual level.... however as disturbing as the events were I still didn't feel like putting it down, and that I think says something - it could be that I am one sick individual or (and I'm hoping this is the case) that Steven's writing is beautifully crafted and his main character Detective Oscar Mariani's journey is completely compelling.

This is an almost post apocalyptic tale set in Queensland Australia near the present day and three years after an event called Grey Wednesday - a day that changed the world forever, with a reversing of the magnetic fields in the polar ice caps wreaking havoc on the seasons and digital devices slowly halting industry, produce growth and descending the world into chaos. Apart from all of this (as if it wasn't bad enough) there is the unwelcome appearance of ghosts, your own personal ghost to be exact that 'haunts' you for all your waking hours driving some into desperation and despair. This is where Oscar appears - part of a division created to investigate the truth in spectre related killings "My ghost made me do it..." 

The world that Steven paints is bleak, dirty, chaotic and smelly. The plot line is anything but predictable as Oscar follows one morsel of a clue to the next in a seemingly unrelated series of events and finds something so much deeper than I was expecting and ends with a warmth that I thought impossible in the start.

This is a book that haunts and stays with you for days after reading, get into it - you wont be disappointed!  

Sunday, 15 May 2011

I wanna be part of the Pack

Nightshade - Andrea Cremer
Hachette - Atom
Available: NOW

"I'd always welcomed war, but in battle my passion rose unbidden"

From the opening line there is never any doubt about the strength and conviction of our lead character Calla, an Alpha female and the next in line to be pack leader.

We enter into a mysterious world of Magicians, Keepers and packs of Shapeshifting wolves who are solely responsible for protecting the Keepers and their places of power - but what I loved most about this storyline was that it didn't give everything away immediately, it let you come to speed with the scenario as the story progressed and took you deeper and deeper as the layers became more varied and the lines ever more blurred. 

I relished having such a fierce and independent voice to enjoy and was just as torn as she was between her call to duty or fighting for the freedom to follow her heart. On the one hand she is destined to join with Ren the leader of the opposing pack, uniting the Nightshades and the Banes and creating a brand new pack to ensure the future of all...on the other hand there is Shay, a new guy in town who is determined to shake up the status quo and take Calla for himself!

The group dynamics in and between the two packs is brilliant and the reluctant joining after years of competing is at times quite comical. 

Spoiler beware: the ending is a huge cliff hanger and leaves you with far more questions than answers but the good news is that book 2 is coming in August so those of you who haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet won't have to wait and will also benefit from the great new cover art!

Cover art above is the Australian original (left) but I prefer the one on the right so thought i would include it too, I will post the new art as soon as it becomes available.

Friday, 6 May 2011

A Love affair with India

Tiger's Curse  - Colleen Houck
Hachette - Hodder
Release date: June 2011

Let me start by saying that I have never been enamoured with India so, a story that is set in large part in India didn’t really thrill me to pieces... I also must admit that the main reason I picked up this particular story was due to the gorgeous cover and those piercing eyes of the Tiger (yes I have been known to judge a book by its cover, sorry). That said, I came to find the storyline inventive and exploring the myths and legends of India’s past gave me a glimpse into the beauty of the Indian countryside (they do a lot of trekking!), the people and in particular the faith.
Now to the storyline: Our adventure kicks off when we meet Kelsey Hayes a self described ‘average’ young woman who has just graduated from high school and looking for a summer job before a start at college. We also learn that Kelsey is in the care of a lovely couple who are her guardians having lost both of her parents in a car accident and her grandmother a few years previous.
Enter a two week stint at the Circus that just rolled into town, here she meets Dhiren the circus's mild mannered white tiger, Kelsey starts to work closely with ‘Ren’ providing his meals and watching as he is trained, naturally her fascination is this awesome animal grows and she finds herself spending all her free time providing him with company while she chats and reads to him. As her time at the circus is winding down the owner is approached by a well mannered Indian man Mr Kadam who wishes to purchase the tiger for a large sum with the hope to release him in a Tiger Reserve in India owned by his wealthy boss. He also requests that Kelsey accompany Ren to smooth his transition (all expenses paid of course) as his trainer Mr Davies cannot leave the circus for such a large stint of time. Naturally she agrees and I spent the next few chapters waiting for the proverbial penny to drop, and drop it does....
It turns out that Ren is in fact an immortal prince from a time long past that was trapped in the body of a tiger, only able to change back to human form for 24 minutes in each day and Kelsey holds his only chance of breaking the curse and returning him to human form for good. While Kelsey struggles to coincide her tiger with the charming man he keeps turning into and her resulting (and not at all one sided) emotions they must also do battle with ancient forces hell bent on keeping Ren trapped as a tiger forever.
Colleen originally self published this as an e-book on Amazon where it was understandably snapped up by many avid YA readers after which she was approached to publish. You can certainly feel that this is a debut novel with the story starting out something like a diary entry, however as the story grows so does she as she finds her feet. I am positive book 2 and beyond will see her flourish and I will certainly be picking up them up!
Tiger's Quest (Book 2) Also available June 2011.