Friday, 12 July 2013

Epic Fantasy

Shadowfell Series, Books 1&2 - Juliet Marillier
Available - Now

I have to say Juliet Marillier is one of the Greats of the fantasy realm!
Her intelligent and whimsical writing never fails to fascinate and sweeps me away to another time and place all her own making. Her poignant stories are always chock full of strong characters, deep mystery and old magic...

This is traditional fantasy at its best as we follow Neryn on her quest to become a Caller strong enough to stand against the tyranny of their unjust King Keldec. Her journey is filled with tests and hardship, she makes many friends along the way but also encounters fearsome enemies.

This story is so beautiful in ways I had completely forgotten, for example the love story is slowly realised and the feelings portrayed between the characters are deep and true - the lust is there but expressed through a caress or dear word and so honest that a warm glow emanates from the pages. The natural growth of trust through friendship and understanding that turns into a love so strong and undeniable - reminding me of all Juliet's stories I have read and loved over the years showing me what love truly is and how to recognise it, in fact, I am positive that Juliet's writing has made me a better, stronger version of myself and lead me to the love I have today with my amazing fiancee.

While this is technically a YA novel I have found it just as deep and riveting as any of her adult offerings and I would have no hesitation to recommend to all audiences from the age of 14 and above. Book 2 Raven Flight has just hit the shelves this week, so if like me you are new to this series you get two books to dive right into before our torturous wait for book 3 The Caller.

Friday, 5 July 2013

I Put My Faith in 'Watever'

Half Lives - Sara Grant
Available - 09 July 2013

How far would you go to survive? That is the question I have been asking myself for the last few days in the aftermath of reading Sara Grant's new novel, where her characters were forced to make just such horrendous decisions...

What starts out as an ordinary and somewhat sub par day in the life of Isis (Icie to her friends) quickly deteriorates into the day to end all days - literally. Terrorists are releasing a deadly pathogen to all major US cities and within 24 hrs the world will be in absolute panic, most will already be annihilated in its path - this is what Icie is told as her parents bundle her onto a plane bound for Las Vegas with directions to find an isolated unused nuclear waste bunker deep in the nearby mountains at any cost. What follows is the quick deterioration of the civilised way people treat each other in the face of an unknown threat.

What's most different about this story to other post apocalyptic novels I've read lately is the timing, rarely are we shown the actual breakdown of humanity and what's even more interesting is that this is a story split in two parts - one part is Icie in the 'here and now' as the disease takes hold and life outside the bunker is vastly unknown while the other is from Beckett's point of view - an ancestor of the bunker survivors and his clans spiritual leader, presumably hundreds of years in the future. Slowly Sara pieces together the cause and effect from Icie's present yet past and Beckett's current world, the result is much farther reaching than initial appearances and posses not only one but two important hypothetical questions to humanities future - the first being how could humans be so callous as to inflict such a catastrophic disease on their own kind? and the second is how can we possibly protect future generations from the Nuclear waste we create when it can take up to 10,000 years to be safe? what language can we use to say 'stay away' when all our known languages may well be gone??

Alarming, insightful and often humorous in the most unexpected ways, this story will take you out of your comfort zone while giving hope and a new appreciation of the fragility of the world we live in.