On my bookshelf – Adult Victorian Fantasy

Hello gentle reader,

I’ve recently read a couple of Adult books, all set in Victorian London and with some fantasy elements…

Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack

Title: The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne #1)

Author: Mark Hodder

Genre: Steampunk/Alternate History

Blurb:

London, 1861.

Sir Richard Francis Burton—explorer, linguist, scholar, and swordsman; his reputation tarnished; his career in tatters; his former partner missing and probably dead.

Algernon Charles Swinburne—unsuccessful poet and follower of de Sade; for whom pain is pleasure, and brandy is ruin!

They stand at a crossroads in their lives and are caught in the epicenter of an empire torn by conflicting forces: Engineers transform the landscape with bigger, faster, noisier, and dirtier technological wonders; Eugenicists develop specialist animals to provide unpaid labor; Libertines oppose repressive laws and demand a society based on beauty and creativity; while the Rakes push the boundaries of human behavior to the limits with magic, drugs, and anarchy. The two men are sucked into the perilous depths of this moral and ethical vacuum when Lord Palmerston commissions Burton to investigate assaults on young women committed by a weird apparition known as Spring Heeled Jack, and to find out why werewolves are terrorizing London’s East End.

Their investigations lead them to one of the defining events of the age, and the terrifying possibility that the world they inhabit shouldn’t exist at all!

What I thought:

I enjoyed this book, although it became clear quite quickly this was an introductory book to a series. It has its own plot, but many aspects of the world and a lot of characters are just introduced to us and not fully developed. I’ll probably pick up at least Book 2 to see where this goes.

Mayhem

Title: Mayhem (Mayhem #1)

Author: Sarah Pinborough

Genre: Historical mystery with supernatural elements

Blurb:

A new killer is stalking the streets of London’s East End. Though newspapers have dubbed him ‘the Torso Killer’, this murderer’s work is overshadowed by the hysteria surrounding Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel crimes.

The victims are women too, but their dismembered bodies, wrapped in rags and tied up with string, are pulled out of the Thames – and the heads are missing. The murderer likes to keep them.

Mayhem is a masterwork of narrative suspense: a supernatural thriller set in a shadowy, gaslit London, where monsters stalk the cobbled streets and hide in plain sight.

What I thought:

I really liked this book. I loved that it focused on a (real) series of murders that happened at the same time as the Jack The Ripper murders. I also really enjoyed the supernatural twist. The second book in this duology will come out in April and I’ll definitely check it out.

Elijah's Mermaid

Title: Elijah’s Mermaid

Author: Essie Fox

Genre: Historical/Gothic with fantasy elements

Blurb:

Since she was found as a baby, floating in the Thames one foggy night, the web-toed Pearl has been brought up in a brothel known as the House of Mermaids. Cosseted and pampered there, it is only when her fourteenth birthday approaches that Pearl realises she is to be sold to the highest bidder.
Meanwhile, the orphaned twins, Lily and Elijah, have shared an idyllic childhood, raised in a secluded country house with their grandfather, Augustus Lamb. But when Lily and Elijah go on a visit London, a chance meeting with the ethereal Pearl will have repercussions for all of them, binding their fates together in a dark and dangerous way…

In this bewitching, sensual novel, Essie Fox has written another tale of obsessive love and betrayal, moving from the respectable worlds of Victorian art and literature, and into the shadowy demi-monde of brothels, asylums and freak show tents – a world in which nothing and no-one is quite what they seem to be.

What I thought:

This book wasn’t what I expected. It’s slow-paced, and written in the style of a 19th Century novel. The two main characters are very passive, which I don’t really like, especially when they are female characters. And all in all, it was quite predictable. Maybe it just wasn’t for me.

What have you been reading lately? Any Victorian book you’d recommend?

Feel free to leave me a comment below!

YA Halloween Reads 2013

Hello gentle reader,

Halloween is coming up! Last year I shared with you my October reads and I thought it could be interesting to do it again this year. So if you’re looking for Halloween books suitable for Young Adults readers, here are a few suggestions…

Ghosts: The Shades of London series

(The Name of the Star and The Madness Underneath) by Maureen Johnson

nameofthestarseries

Vampires: The Blood of Eden series

(The Immortal Rules and The Eternity Cure) by Julie Kagawa

julie-kagawa-immortal-rules-eternity-cure-book-covers-2

Steampunk supernatural extravaganza: The Parasol Protectorate series

(Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless and Timeless) by Gail Carriger

Soulless

Gothic / Post-apocalyptic Fantasy: The Masque of the Red Death series

(Masque of the Red Death and Dance of the Red Death) by Bethany Griffin

Masque of the Red Death

What are you reading this Halloween? Feel free to share your recommendations below!

And stay tuned for an ALL HALLOWS’ READS giveaway, coming up next week…

YA Sci-Fi

What’s on my bookshelf? 8

Hello gentle reader,

Yesterday my Critique Partner asked on Twitter if people could recommend YA Sci-Fi books to her. I don’t read a lot of Science Fiction, but here are my favourite books in this genre…

Proxy

Proxy by Alex London (published in  June 2013 by Philomel)

My favourite 2013 release so far. It’s action-packed, it’s thought-provoking, it’s clever and gripping. It’s about friendship, social justice, consumerism and technologies. It’s also a dual male POV. What more can you ask for?

Shatter Me

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (published in November 2011 by Harper)

Original and so well-written, this is the story of a girl whose touch is lethal. What she does with that power in a futuristic dictatorship is up to her.

Altered

Altered by Jennifer Rush (published in January 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Reader)

A debut novel pitched as Dollhouse meets Prison Break, with one girl and four genetically altered boys on the run from a mysterious organisation. Don’t mind the eye-catching cover, it’s a thrilling and multi-layered story well worth a read.

That’s it for the YA Sci-Fi books on my bookshelf. I did tell you I don’t read this genre a lot. Any book you’ve loved and would recommend? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

And don’t forget you can still enter my 500 Blog Followers Giveaway here (and win a copy of Shatter Me!).

YA Halloween reads

What’s on my bookshlef ? 7

Are you looking for scary books that are suitable for Young Adult readers? On my bookshelf, you can find books with…

Zombies: Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard

1876: the Dead are rising in Philadelphia and only a teenage girl in petticoats can stop them…

Ghosts: Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley

Edward visits his Uncle Montague, who tells him some of the most frightening stories he knows. But the house around them is creepy and Uncle Montague’s tales sound more and more real as time goes by…

Vampires: Department 19 by Will Hill

Department 19 is a secret organization that deals with all things supernatural. With the help of its strange members, a teenager must save his mother from a powerful vampire.

Witches: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue comes from a family of witches, but she has no power of her own. The only thing she knows for sure is that she will cause her true love to die. Which wasn’t a problem until she met the Raven Boys…

Death: Abandon by Meg Cabot

A teenage girl escapes more the Realm of the Dead (the Underworld), only to find herself in a lot of supernatural trouble. With more romance than scary moments, this book will suit readers who enjoy YA Paranormal reads.

Any other books you’d recommend? Feel free to comment! And don’t forget you can still win The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman here.

YA Epic Fantasy

What’s on my bookshelf ? 6

Are you looking for Epic Fantasy novels that are suitable for Young Adult readers? Here are a few that I enjoyed reading…

So, on my bookshelf, you can find:

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit”... and the most famous YA Epic Fantasy book came to life in 1937.

The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams China

Han is a reformed thief in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Raisa is the princess heir of the Fells. In the Seven Realms, clans and wizards are about to start a war. That’s when the lives of Han and Raisa collide…

The Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper

An immortal boy, six medallions created and hidden centuries ago, a Rider intent on gathering them and raising the Dark… an awesome read!

His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

“There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book.” Philip Pullman, in his Carnegie Medal Acceptance Speech (1996). Such a complex, beautiful book, for all ages.

That’s it for today… I have many other YA Epic Fantasy stories sitting on my bookshelf but they’ll have to be included in another post…

Any other books you’d recommend? Feel free to comment!

YA Ghost Stories

What’s on my bookshelf ? 5

Today I want to mention a few ghost stories that I enjoyed reading and that I think are suitable for Young Adult readers.

So, on my bookshelf, you can find:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

After the murder of his family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard and is raised by ghosts. Growing up in a graveyard can be dangerous but everyone knows the world outside its gate is even worse…

An amazing setting, and such a great story. Neil Gaiman has no equal.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Two American sisters inherit a flat which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. The teenage twins move in and meet their strange neighbours, before realizing  their deceased aunt can’t seem to leave her old apartment – and life- behind.

Technically an Adult book. An interesting premise and a chilling ending. However the story relies heavily on clichés about London and its supposedly ghostly feel. Since I actually live here, I need a little more than that in terms of setting.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The ghost of Jack The Ripper is killing again in modern-day London. The secret ghost police of London are on the case, with no time to waste.

Again a book set in London and targeted at American readers who have never set foot here. But in this one, the plot is great and the author actually conveys a “British feel” to her story.

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

Manhattan, 1882. A teenage girl who cannot speak. A haunted painting. A love story across time and space.

A good YA read, although the plot lacked high stakes. And I liked the twist halfway through the book.

That’s it for YA ghost stories sitting on my bookshelf… Any other books you’d recommend? Feel free to comment!

Also you can enter my 100 Followers Giveaway here and win YA books!

YA Dystopian Books

What’s on my bookshelf ? 4

Today I would like to recommend a few books belonging to the very trendy genre of Dystopian fiction for Young Adults. Immensely popularised by The Hunger Games trilogy, this Fantasy sub-genre offers a wide variety of books, some really worth checking out.

Before providing you with a reading list, let’s remind ourselves of what the Dystopian genre actually is. From Goodreads:

Dystopia is a form of literature that explores social and political structures. It is a creation of a nightmare world – unlike its opposite, Utopia, which is an ideal world. Dystopia is often characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government. It often features different kinds of repressive social control systems, a lack or total absence of individual freedoms and expressions, and a state of constant warfare or violence. Many novels combine both Dystopia and Utopia, often as a metaphor for the different directions humanity can take in its choices, ending up with one of the two possible futures.”

For a very long time, dystopian books were just science-fiction novels. But its great success in the last few years has required the renaming of the genre and the creation of a specific category on bookshelves…

So, on my bookshelf, you can find:

1- The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (2008)

Teenagers fight to the death on live TV in a post-apocalyptic America. THE dystopian book every teenager has heard about, and most likely read. Made into a very popular movie this year.

2The Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano (2011)

In a future America and because of a deadly virus, young people die in their twenties. As a consequence, society is collapsing. A powerful first book, with a second installment that was unfortunately much weaker. Wither is a must-read nonetheless.

3- The Eve trilogy by Anna Carey (2011)

United States, 2032: a deadly virus has wiped out most of the world population and survivors struggle to rebuild a free society. A great, fast-paced read for teenagers who are maybe not ready for “darker” books.

4- The Pledge by Kimberly Derting (2011)

In the imaginary country of Ludania, languages divide classes and words can kill. A powerful story about freedom of speech and democracy.

5- The Line trilogy by Teri Hall (2010)

In a future America, a dictatorship rules the country and a line encloses the US. Nobody crosses it. But what’s on the other side? A good book for youger readers who want to familiarise themselves with the dystopian genre.

6- The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness (2008)

A chilling story about a society where everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts.
7- Blood Red Road (The Dust Lands series) by Moira Young (2011)

A tale of adventures in a violent post-apocalyptic world. Very intense. Not an easy read, but it has received numerous literay prizes.
8- Under the Never Sky trilogy by Veronica Rossi (2012)

In the future, the world is a wasteland and survivors live under a protective dome… I haven’t read that one yet, but it has recieved raving reviews.
9- Article 5 by Kristen Simmons (2012)

In the future, the US are a dictatorship, ruled with The Moral Statutes. Nobody has rebelled, yet. I haven’t read that one either, but I’ve heard great things about it.
10- The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner (2009)

 This one has received mixed reviews but it keeps popping up everytime I search for YA dystopian books… Have you read it? What did you think?


That’s it for YA dystopian books sitting on my bookshelf… Any other books you’d recommend? Feel free to comment!