Sunday 31 August 2014

Book Review Frozen by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston


From New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston comes this remarkable first book in a spellbinding new series about the dawn of a new kind of magic.

Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.

Release Date October 2nd 2014

My Musings

This is a hybrid book of dystopian mixed with fantasy. Mad Max meets X Men meets The Wild West!! 
Sounds a mess and could have been but in the hands of these writers they pull together a vibrant and brutal world that is totally fascinating. Throw in an eclectic group of characters and this is a series which could become seriously addictive. 

Nat is in Las Vegas hiding her true identity and past. She is one of the minority with special skills that are hunted and used by the brutal authority. It s a lawless and dangerous place in which she has to survive whilst fighting the monstrous voices in her head telling her to find a legendary paradise called Blue. It has water and warmth of which there is precious little where she is. The only person who can get her there is Ryan who leads a rag tag band of mercenaries and has his own secrets and tragedies. 

A fantastical mix of dystopian and fantasy fiction that introduces us to some very endearing secondary characters and storylines that add depth to the bubbling romance between Nat and Ryan as they cross the treacherous toxic sea littered with icebergs of rubbish and slavers and pirates. They both fight their feelings towards one another and their journey takes you on a real roller coaster ride right up to the heart stopping finale. 

This is the first book of the series and I am already addicted. Some reviewers have commented that there are holes in the world building but it didn't bother me and I just thought those things will be explained as the series goes on. If you had an indepth history of this particular world included in the book it would have damaged the pace and excitement of the story and I didn't feel it was needed. 

A unique mix of genres that sets it apart and I can't wait for the next!


If you like this you may like
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Hunger Games by Suzanne Harris
Mad Max Series
X Men Series

Interesting Facts
Official website of Melissa De La Cruz
Melissa De La Cruz

Michael Johnston is Melissa's husband and has been collaborating on her books from the beginning of her prolific career although his name has never appeared until now.
Below is a link to an interview with both and ineresting chat on their working life together and their thoughts on Frozen
Interview with husband and wife writing team Melissa and Michael

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Film Review The Book Thief


While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. In the basement of her home, a Jewish refugee is being sheltered by her adoptive parents.

My Musings

Adapted from the international bestseller it tells the story of a young orphan girl Liesel, adopted in Nazi Germany. Sophie Nelisse as Liesel is mesmerizing throughout the film as she learns to escape from the tyranny of Nazi Germany through her love of books. This she unexpectedly shares not only with her adoptive parents but also with a young Jewish boy her parents hide in their basement and an wealthy woman who has lost her only son. Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson play the parents and give quiet powerful performances where they have the confidence to underplay their characters. You warm to them immeasurably as their relationship builds with their new daughter and the tension builds with the surrounding dangers. Death is the narrator in this film always in the background whispering of an inevitability. I did not guess that the end would be quite so devastating but it is a heartrendingly beautiful film. It takes strength from its subtle performances and leaves you pondering over the uselessness and wastefulness of war. This film deserved more publicity and acclaim and will be one that stays in my memory for quite a while.

If you like this film you may like

  • Schindlers List with Ralph Fiennes
  • Malena with Monica Bellucci
  • Goodnight Mr Tom with John Thaw
  • War Horse, Stephen Spielberg
  • The Piano with Adrien Brody
  • Boy in The Striped Pyjamas
  • The Reader with Kate Winslet

Sunday 10 August 2014

Book Review All Souls Trilogy The Book of Life By Deborah Harkness All Souls Trilogy


The highly anticipated finale to the #1 New York Timesbestselling trilogy that began with A Discovery of Witches

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions, A Discovery of Witches andShadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close. 

My Musings

When I walked into my local library on Thursday I couldn't believe my eyes, there was The Book of Life, waiting for me! Deborah Harkness has made her fans of the All Saints Trilogy wait 2 years to see how Matthew and Diana conclude in their trials to survive and their search for The Book of Life, the title of the final installment. I was going to wait for the paperback but fate had other ideas and even though I didn't really have time to read anything at the moment I couldn't resist.
 Its a BIG book. 
I handed it over the counter and the librarian looked at me dubiously. "You realise this is only on loan for a week because its a best seller and new in? "
I shrugged.
"And you can't take it out again so you will have to read it in a week? It is a very big book!"
By this time I was getting a little annoyed, with my hands firmly on my new prized possession I firmly replied. That won't be a problem. 
Well I started on Thursday and finished it this Sunday morning tucked up in bed with a hot cup of sugary tea and the reminents of  Hurricane Bertha swirling around the house, lashing rain and rumbling thunder. How precipitous was that!!

Back to the actual book. I was a bit nervous that it would live up to the hype but should not have been worried. Yes you do have to read the previous books before but that goes without saying. All the characters are there that we have grown so fond of and at the centre is the unflinching love of the ancient (but gorgeous and handsome) Matthew and the beautiful and spirited witch Diana. Diana is now pregnant with twins, still learning about her powers and looking for The Book of Life which is like a bible for all creatures such as Daemons, Vampires and Witches. Harkness blends magic and science together in two veins to try and build bridges, find out truths of their existence and bring a peace to the different factions. To add to the mix is one of Matthew's sons, an evil vampire Benjamin bent on revenge to an horrific and devastating degree.

There are a lot of characters in the book and Harkness harnesses them well. I loved that we saw Phillip Matthews father, and Diana's father slip in and out of the story as they were such pivotal characters in the last book and it would have been a shame to lose them completely. My only query, and it is very small, is that was Harkness too kind to her characters? Should she have been more ruthless with one or two of the secondary ones? Is that too brutal? Yes I am arguing with myself because in the end I was relieved that without giving too much away everything went according to plan. The shocking parts were in hindsight between Phillip and Benjamin and Matthew and that was actually brutal enough.  

The pace of the story never slackens and you are swept along with a degree of urgency to see how  Matthew and Diana will find peace and happiness for their new family.  On character alone I loved that the female and male characters where equally matched. There were no fainting maidens in this book thank god. And Matthew was given a more vulnerable  side to match his darker character. Both are very enticing prospects. There will be no spoilers here but to say the reader will be totally satisfied with the end. There are conclusions and also a few loose ends and question marks over which the reader can muse to the different paths the characters take. 

I hear there is a film optioned. How they will produce such a complex story for screen I don't know but I would love them to try. I hope it does make it. 

When I finished my book the storm had subsided and I closed the last pages with a sigh of pleasure and satisfaction. It was like eating a Laduree cake. Tasted as good as it looked and lingers in the memory as a slice of indulgent escapism. It was a naughty luxury I'm very glad I succumbed to. 

links of interest

Other books that may be of interest
The Black Magician Series by Trudi Canavan- More fantasy fiction than historical but with the similar depth of character and plot.