Zoë Markham

This is my place to review, and to blog all the bookish things.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 469 out of 469 pages.

Atlantis: Revelation - Marcus  Blake

review coming soon!

Reading progress update: I've read 241 out of 469 pages.

Atlantis: Revelation - Marcus  Blake

Reading progress update: I've read 107 out of 469 pages.

Atlantis: Revelation - Marcus  Blake

Panic, Lauren Oliver

Panic - Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver's Panic is right up there with James Treadwell's Advent when it comes to beautiful YA fiction. Although they're completely different in terms of plot, they both share that dreamlike quality to the writing, and the feeling that with just a tiny shift upwards in the age of the protagonists they'd make equally beautiful adult fiction. There's no dumbing down, no abundance of irritating slang or cop-out plot lines, just intelligently written, compelling characters that will have you up all night.

Dodge's plight is so believable, Heather and Lilly's home life will tug at your heart strings, Bishop will take you by surprise and you will learn how to make napalm. If that isn't reason enough to pre-order this one, I don't know what is!

I now need to go and order everything else Oliver has ever written.

 

(http://www.zmarkham.com/2013/12/panic-lauren-oliver.html)

Divergent

Divergent  - Veronica Roth

I know I'm insanely late in getting to this series, and I have absolutely no excuse. It took a colleague at working mailing everyone to tell them how atrocious the first four chapters of this one are that gave me the shove to finally pick this up and see who was right, the Internet, or the colleague. 

 

I'm pleased to say, the Internet wins! 

 

I've seen people raving about this series all over Twitter, and now I can see exactly why. Divergent is one of those YA reads that grabs you the instant you pick it up. It's very similar to Hunger Games in that respect, although it's unfair to compare them as Hunger Games is an unashamed, damn near criminal rip off of Battle Royale, and Divergent is far more original to its credit. 

 

Tris is an interesting protagonist, and it's great to see a strong, three dimensional female teenager out there representing. The plot is brutal in places, with a high bodycount, and there's no shying away from danger. Some huge teenage themes are handled well, and within such a fast-paced, roller-coaster of a plot that you don't even realise until you reach the end and sit back to think over it. 

 

Divergent is the kind of book that's genuinely hard to put down, and when you do have to have it crowbarred out of your hands to get to work, you find yourself thinking about it non-stop. A great read, hugely recommended. I can't wait to see how the film adaptation is handled. 

The League of Sharks

The League of Sharks - David Logan

This was a really fun, if slightly frustrating read. The frustration came from the fact that the end is a massive cliffhanger and I don't have the second book! The whole story drives to a certain point and just when you think questions are finally going to be answered....nothing..."To be continued..." The more YA I read the more I see this happening, and I totally understand why, I'm just never going to be a big fan of it as a technique. 

 

Aside from the ending though, this was a brilliant read. It's an incredibly well-written tale with none of the 'dumbing down' of vocabulary or concept that you so often see within the genre. The narrative flows beautifully, it's an exciting, fantastically imaginative adventure story that gets increasingly hard to put down. 

 

I enjoyed the puzzle aspect, both the boxes and the plot itself, I thought they tied in really nicely together. It was refreshing to read a YA novel where intelligence, practicality and bravery were the important factors, and where the search for truth was the only agenda. This is exactly the type of novel I would LOVE to see my son reading. Logan is a fresh voice in a genre that so often focuses on the shallow, the frivolous and the mundane. 

 

I'll be all over the next in the series, once it's released. 

Reblogged from Woman Reading:

Life, Death and Vanilla Slices

Life, Death and Vanilla Slices - Jenny Eclair

Well, this took me completely by surprise. Mum sent this one over with Dad for me and I was expecting complete and utter fluff, but what I actually got was layers of depth and aching, human tragedy all mixed up in an outer shell of bleak humour that had me laughing one minute and crying the next. The writing seemed dry and uninspiring initially, but it's brilliantly deceptive as the mundane is slowly uncovered to be the extraordinary. A fantastic read. I defy anyone to make it to the last page without shedding a tear.

 

This is the perfect example of why reading something completely out of your comfort zone can be a revelation.  

PM Your Friends on BookLikes - Personal Messages Are On

Reblogged from BookLikes:

 

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Wool

Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1) (Wool, #1-5) - Hugh Howey

Oh. Em. Gee. 

 

This is hands down the best PA novel I've ever read. And I've read plenty! Howey is amazing, and I can't wait wait to get the next two in the series. I do hate him just a little bit though for killing off three wonderful characters and bringing a tear to my eye. 

 

I've not read anything of this calibre in a few months and it was a real gear change from the YA I've been immersing myself in. The detail and the layering was beautiful, and the whole notion of the silo and the reason behind it (I'm not going to spoil it for you) is incredible. It was nice to have a strong female protagonist, one so practical and independent, a real three dimensional character you can get behind. And speaking of three dimensional, the 'bad guy' here, well, he's bad alright, but you can see the reasoning behind the things he does, and however much you'd like to think that wouldn't be you...well...in that situation, who knows. 

 

That's the thing with this one, the situation Howey presents is just bursting at the seams with thought provoking potential, the idea behind the novel will stay with me for a long, long time. A clear sign of a winner. 

 

If you like Mira Grant, John Wyndham, or V M Zito, you'll enjoy Wool I'm sure. 

The Silver Ninja

The Silver Ninja - Wilmar Luna

Life was good for New Yorker Cindy Ames. Sure, her husband’s top secret weapons projects were a little… weird, but at least her career as a gymnastics instructor didn’t involve any covert government contracts. Cindy’s life was peaceful. That is until she snuck into her husband Jonas’ lab after hours. What began as an innocent curiosity catapults her life into an exciting thrill ride, as Cindy accidentally merges with Jonas’ prototype nanosuit. Like a teenager stealing her parents’ car for the night, Cindy becomes an armored super heroine known as The Silver Ninja or so she thought... She soon discovers that the suit is not at all what it appears to be. As it secretly blurs the line between good and evil, Cindy unknowingly becomes more aggressive, violent and apathetic to the world around her. 

Cindy becomes her own worst enemy as she plummets into a downward spiral of psychological oblivion. To make matters worse, she must prevent a violent coup d'état from erupting in New York City. Cindy will have to suit up and fight through an avalanche of futuristic weaponry to stop more innocent lives from being lost. But can she overcome her personal demons before becoming the villain? Will Cindy be able to save herself in time to save her family?


I've got to start with the obvious here, the cover art. It's not often I see a self-published novel with such eye-catching artwork, and Luna scores a big initial win on that front. Shallow though it may well be, covers sell books, and this is one that I would definitely pick up. Now, obviously it holds a certain appeal for the male audience! but as a female fan of both The Terminator and The Silver Surfer, I'd merrily put this one in my basket without much of a second thought.

The cover also does a good job of setting the tone for the novel. What you see is essentially what you get here, which is always refreshing. Fans of comic book superheroes and big screen futuristic blockbusters will, I'm sure, enjoy The Silver Ninja. Reading this one is essentially like watching a Superhero film; it's fast-paced and action-packed and doesn't require a huge amount of brain power. It's entertainment, pure and simple.

The strange thing with Superhero/Superpower style stories, is that they often don't tend to work well in novel form.  They're naturally much more the stuff of graphic novels, because obviously they're hugely visual, and this is where they have the greater impact. This is a trend that's starting to be bucked at the moment though, with the likes of Adam Christopher and Peter Clines both notably putting Superheroes firmly and cleverly into prose. And Luna joins them here in making a damn good job of it.

I loved The Silver Ninja. I had a lot of fun reading it, and although a hefty dose of suspension of disbelief is required at all times, this doesn't stop me enjoying the big Marvel Blockbusters so why should it stop me enjoying a novel? It would be unfair to approach the two with different mindsets I think. There were times when I found it hard to justify decisions that the protagonist here made, Luna consistently offers reasoning behind everything that Cindy does, but in some cases it's very, very thin reasoning that you wouldn't want to lean on too much. Oddly it wasn't the technology here, but the simple human responses and reactions that tested my belief. It didn't impact too seriously on my ability to enjoy the story though, there was too much going on for me to spend too long at any one point wondering "why?".

I thought that Cindy was a fantastic female protagonist. I really enjoyed the journey Luna sent her on, and I could personally identify so much with her reaction to the 'incident' on her way home (I don't want to go all spoilery if I can possibly help it). It's that moment when something happens that makes you realise you're not invincible, and that you're living in a world with some genuinely vile people in it. I think that's a moment that a lot of readers, perhaps female readers especially, will identify strongly with. It was great to see so many sides to her; the wit and banter between her and her Sister ("'roid rage" had me chuckling), the physical strength, the emotional frailty, the intense curiosity, and, essentially, the bravery and determination she displays. I thought the back story reveal was very nicely done, and her issues with food were, again, something so powerful in terms of connecting with readers and really showing us who she is and what she deals with internally. It's not often in SF I've seen a male writer write a female character so skilfully.

With regard to the military/government element, I don't want to keep reducing things down to 'Comic Book' material, but anyone familiar with the corrupt officials of many a popular comic book City will be perfectly at home here. I don't know that Luna brought much that's original to the table in this respect, but I'm not complaining in the slightest because I was enjoying a fully three dimensional female lead so much that I was glued to the pages regardless. There was no way I was going anywhere.

One thing Luna is remarkably good at is leaving little markers throughout the novel that tie beautifully into later elements of the story. It shows a genuinely well-considered, well-structured plot, and is one way in which he shows me as a writer that he knows exactly what he's doing. My only disappointment was that at one point I think he put in a single marker too many, in relation to Ruby, which took the edge of the Big Twist at the end a little for me. I don't mean to be all mysterious and coy, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read the book yet.

Stylistically, Luna's writing is a little unpolished. He's very heavy handed with his similes, they are everywhere! For the most part they tended to be original and really quite impressive, there are some real gems! but there were just so many of them that they lost their impact. I would love to see him limit himself in his next book, to, say...no more than 10..just pick your absolute favourites and then let us enjoy them without having to wade through them. I found his tenses got a little mixed at times, and his phrasing, whilst mostly good could occasionally get clumsy and stilted. For a debut novel though, the writing was solid, and his pacing and engagement was impressive. If he does indulge in a second novel, which I'm hoping for from the end of this one, I would expect to a lot of these minor niggles to be ironed out.

Overall? This is definitely a title I would recommend. It's light, and fast, but it has some unexpectedly complex themes which give it a depth you might not be expecting. Well worth a read. 

Tunnels of Blood

Tunnels of Blood  - Darren Shan

What a great ending to the first trilogy! Darker still, and moving the action out into the wider Vampire society, I can't fault it. It was nice to see Darren, Evra and Mr Crepsley away from the Cirque, and without going near any spoilers their new foe was a fabulous character to read. So much fun! 

 

Debbie was an interesting addition, but I have to confess, I was pretty jealous...regardless of the fact I'm old enough to be her Mother...how embarassing! 

 

Now that I've read the first three books I can finally let myself watch the film adaptation this weekend :) And I've got the second trilogy here ready to go too :) 

SPOILER ALERT!

The Vampire's Assistant

The Vampire's Assistant  - Darren Shan

Even better than Cirque Du Freak. I LOVE this series. The second one in is darker and more violent than the first, but it's so intelligently and compellingly written that I'd still be absolutely chuffed to bits to find my son reading this when he's a few years older, violence and all. 

 

Darren's complications re his diet, and the options he's offered are fascinating, particularly from the morgue, I thought that was a really interesting touch. And of course the ultimate option of Sam at the end, that was heartbreaking. R.V and Sam both brought something fresh to this one, and it was good to get to know Evra. 

 

I was so happy to see Shan not shying away from the human blood issue. Same with the wild ferocity of the Wolf Man. Nothing is sugar coated or romanticised. Meyer could learn a thing or two from him, that's for sure. 

 

It's straight onto the next one for me to see how far down his current path Darren will go. 

 

This is YA at its absolute finest. I'm hooked. 

Reblogged from LitReactor :

Cirque Du Freak

Cirque Du Freak  - Darren Shan

I've been getting hooked on Darren Shan via his ZOM-B series, and have come to the Vampire novels really late in the day, but what a treat!

 

I read Cirque du Freak in one sitting this morning and adored it. Shan does a fantastic job of keeping the narrative genuinely frightening but at the same time pitching it at the perfect level for teenagers, I wish I could figure out how he does it and duplicate it. He makes it look easy, I can promise you, as someone who's constantly trying, it's not! 

 

It's a fantastic series opener, and I'm already halfway through the second in the series. I love how Shan not only moves away from the more over-tired Vampire stereotypes, but at the same time keeps the traditional level of terror up nice and high. It's a fantastic read. And great to see YA for the boys as well as the girls.

 

Also, I've got to admit, the spider....the spider scared the bloody life out of me....

Escape from Furnace, Death Sentence

Death Sentence: Escape from Furnace 3 - Alexander Gordon Smith

I've got to be honest, I'm losing patience with the Massive Cliffhangers now. Yep, I wanted to get the fourth book as soon as I finished this one, but I held off because I found with Death Sentence it was only the beginning and the ending that were captivating, the entire middle chunk of this one I found to be repetitive and verging on dull.

 

Of course given the ending I'm now dying to find out what happens next, but I feel a bit cheated in having to keep forking over my hard-earned to reach any kind of resolution. I think you can exploit this perfectly when it comes to a trilogy, but when you have a longer series it does get a bit annoying. Purely my own opinion of course. I will have to finish the series as I'm itching to know what happens to Alex, Zee and Simon on the outside. But I'll be holding off for awhile, purely as a means of expressing my irritation!

 

Death Sentence is Dark, tense, violent, and oozing with unexpected Nazi unpleasantness. Not for the faint of heart or those with a delicate constitution!

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Progress: 276/323pages
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