Review: The Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant

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Messenger of Fear

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Title: Messenger of Fear
Series: Messenger of Fear #1
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Publication Date: 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

I remembered my name – Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself.

And then the games began.

The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear.

But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out . . .

REVIEW BY RHYS – Year 9

I didn’t have any idea what to expect from Messenger of Fear. When it comes to Michael Grant I usually expect violence and deaths, mature content, insane characters and a roller coaster ride of emotions. 

The first 1/3 of this book I felt unsure about where the story was heading, it was quite misleading. I did enjoy the story right from the start and was intrigued by the mysterious boy, the Messenger of Fear.

The story took off in the typical Michael Grant style I love  – bloody, gory, shocking and extreme!!!!!

The character of the Messenger of Fear was mysterious and interesting, a broken soul, and I wanted to know everything about him. Mara, the Messenger’s Apprentice,  was even more mysterious though because as we know next to nothing about her, even though the story is from her point of view. 

Besides the Messenger’s wicked games and his harsh judgment that leads to exciting and often fearful events. The story also made me curious about discovering the background details to Mara’s story. I wanted to  find out why she was the Messenger’s apprentice. These details add to the compelling nature of the plot, it induces you to rush through the book to the point it keeps you up all night in anticipation of uncovering the details you so desperately crave.

I will say Mara’s story comes with an awesome twist!

Even though Messenger and Mara have their shadowy pasts and I wanted to uncover their secrets get behind that, It was all the other characters we get to read about, which I really cared about or caused certain feels. I can imagine that after the end with its surprising revelation, I’m going to care more about Mara in the next book though.

This book The Messenger of Fear is not just a story about Fear and thrill shock value to make this story as exciting as possible. It also deals with interesting and important themes such as bullying. Bullying is a large part of this story and even though I’ve read multiple books about bullying before and have seen it happen in real life, it still made me speechless to see what people are capable of, what they do to other people to feel better, to deal with their own problems. In my opinion, Michael Grant did a great job of dealing with this topic, sending the right message and showing all the different perspectives of the people involved.

The other theme that I think is very interesting within the narrative is that of guilt and bad behaviour in general. It’s about people who drive other people into doing things but will never be judged for it, never be convicted for what they did. I enjoyed reading about this a lot, being in Mara’s head and thinking about these kinds of things.

Messenger of Fear is a dark story that though could have been even darker in my opinion. It’s a great start of a new series though and I hope that the next books will have even more characters that have to play the Messenger’s wicked games.

Review: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

Recommendations, Resources, Review
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Title: The Iron Trial
Series: Magisterium #1
Author: Cassandra Clare and Holly Black
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: Sept 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Most people would do anything to get into the Magisterium and pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. Call has been told his whole life that he should never trust a magician. And so he tries his best to do his worst — but fails at failing. Now he must enter the Magisterium. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister. And Call realizes it has dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

REVIEW BY CERYS – YEAR 9

The Iron Trail is a brilliant, enthralling story which I, for one, could not put down!

It is set in the Magisterium, a magical, underground place where masters of magic train their apprentices in the arts of magic. The plot follows the story of Callum Hunt, a boy with a permanent leg injury, who has grown up being told that magic is never to be trusted. However, when the time came for him to take the test, he even fails at failing. Is magic all that bad? Callum finds out on a journey that will stay with you long after the last page, and make you long for more…

My favourite character is Tamara, because I could empathise with her quite well, and she is very clever, witty, and shrouded in mystery. My favourite part is quite far through the book, so I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say, I was laughing for a while. The third person perspective was brilliant, as you could clearly understand what was going on, and I think  a first person point of view from Callum would get really confusing.
Holly Black and Cassandra Clare are both amazing authors. I love the way they created such complex characters, that I could really visualise as people, and the way they wrote about the Magisterium itself, was really quite stunning. Everything made sense, and I loved the ending, which was really unexpected, but entertaining all the same.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed any of Holly Black or Cassandra Clare’s books, or readers of Harry Potter. I hope you really enjoy this wonderful book, and I look forward to seeing the next in the series.

Event: International Womens Day

Events, Recommendations, Resources

 

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.http://www.internationalwomensday.com

#IWD2017 #BeBoldForChange

PARITY – the state or condition of being equal, especially as regards status or pay.
“parity of incomes between rural workers and those in industrial occupations”
synonyms: equality, equivalence, uniformity, sameness, consistency, correspondence, congruity, congruence, levelness, unity, coequality, parallelism, evenness
“parity of incomes between rural workers and those in industrial occupations”

Review: The Front Lines Series by Michael Grant

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Michael Grant Competition

 

Title: Front Lines / Silver Stars / Dead of Night
Series: Front Lines #1 #2
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Publication Date:
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

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Image from Goodreads

FRONT LINES – 1942. The fate of the world rests on a knife’s edge. And the soldiers who can tip the balance . . . are girls.

Set in an alternate World War II where young women are called up to fight alongside men, this is the story of Rio Richlin and her friends as they go into battle against Hitler’s forces.

But not everyone believes that they should be on the front lines. Now Rio and her friends must fight not only to survive, but to prove their courage and ingenuity. Because the fate of the world is in the hands of the soldier girls.

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SILVER STARS – The summer of 1943, World War II. With heavy memories of combat, Frangie, Rainy, Rio, and the rest of the American army are moving on to their next target: the Italian island of Sicily.

The women won’t conquer Italy alone. They are not heroes for fighting alongside their brothers—they are soldiers. But Frangie, Rainy, Rio, and the millions of brave females fighting for their country have become a symbol in the fight for equality. They will brave terrible conditions in an endless siege; they will fight to find themselves on the front lines of WWII; and they will come face-to-face with the brutality of war until they win or die.

33986934.jpgDEAD OF NIGHT – Set in the alternative World War II scenario of his Front Lines novels, Michael Grant, author of the bestselling GONE series, has written this story exclusively for World Book Day 2017.

Rio Richlin doesn’t have superpowers. She is an ordinary young woman. A soldier in the American army, wearing a uniform, carrying a rifle, and fighting alongside thousands who are trying to make a difference, trying to change the world.

At least, that’s the plan. Right now she’s part of a squad on a training exercise in some place called Wales. They’re cold, they’re wet, and Rio’s pretty sure they’re also lost. Spending the night in a creepy old inn wasn’t part of the plan at all…

Rio’s only training. But soon, the fate of the world will be in the hands of the soldier girls.

REVIEW BY JACK – YEAR 11

The Front Lines Series, consists of Front Lines, Silver Stars and the new World Book Day short story Dead of Night, set in the middle of Front Lines. They are all set in an alternative World War Two, where the USA has recruited both women and men into its regular army. The brilliant thing about this alternative history is that almost nothing else has changed, the culture of the army is still realistically sexist and racist, and thus the description of military life is still harsh and true to life.

The main character, Rio Richlin, enlisted with her outgoing friend Jenou after her sister Rachel died in service with the Navy. The two novels also follow the separate but linked stories of the Jewish Intelligence Sergeant Rainy Schulterman and the black medic Frangie Marr. All three clearly develop from pathetic green soldiers to near-perfect professionals through various adventures and battles, with their personal lives covered as well.

The best character for me is Sergeant Schulterman, a serious soldier from the start; and with the most difficult job of all advising senior officers and operating undercover. She also faces additional challenges throughout as a Jew in World War Two My favourite part of the series is the ending, where the efforts of the three central characters are recognised, though they remain cynical and sceptical themselves.

I can find very little to criticise in the series, although I did find the regular name-dropping of historical figures quite annoying. However, overall I enjoyed the Front Lines series, especially the way Michael Grant combines historical plausibility with solid, recognisable characters. I give the series 5 out of 5 stars and I will recommend it to my friends, although I am not planning to read Grant’s other books as they are dystopian rather than historical. Also, the Front Lines books contain lots of violence and quite explicit language so are unsuitable for younger readers.

Specifically, I thought that the World Book Day short story was well-written and my favourite part was the “ghost of war future” with Lieutenant Charles, as it relates to the recently discovered evils of combat. However, the series of ghostly dreams of the main character feels like an uninventive way of creating a short story from the series. Thus I can only give Dead of Night 3/5 stars.

New In: Rugby Runner by Gerard Siggins

Recommendations, Resources
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SYNOPSIS

Eoin Madden is captain of the Junior Cup team, training with Leinster and aiming for Ireland’s Under 16 World Cup team. He also has to deal with grumpy friends, teachers piling on the homework – AND a ghost on a mission that goes back to the very origins of the game of rugby. Books, crooks and rucks – it’s all to play for this term!

Review: The Witch’s Kiss by Katherine and Elizabeth Corr

Recommendations, Resources, Review
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Title: The Witch’s Kiss
Series: The Witch’s Kiss #1
Author: Katherine and Elizabeth Corr
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date:  June 2016
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Sixteeen-year-old Meredith is fed-up with her feuding family and feeling invisible at school – not to mention the witch magic that shoots out of her fingernails when she’s stressed. Then sweet, sensitive Jack comes into her life and she falls for him hard. The only problem is that he is periodically possessed by a destructive centuries-old curse. Meredith has lost her heart, but will she also lose her life? Or in true fairytale tradition, can true love’s kiss save the day?

REVIEW BY CERYS – YEAR 9

The Witch’s Kiss is a magical book about witches, age-old curses and forbidden love.

Merry is a young, quite unusual witch, and is just settling back in to her usual school life with her brother Leo, when a mysterious, magical box shows up, containing the contents to help her break the curse that has haunted her bloodline for ages. However, when the charming Jack shows up as part of the curse, will Merry still have the strength to break the curse, or will her heart betray her? Learn more in this incredibly witty, and all round amazing book!

My favourite character is Leo, Merry’s brother, because he is so calm in the face of danger, and he always looks out for Merry to the best of his ability. My favourite part is the ending, as it was beautiful and satisfying, yet unexpected. The 3rd person perspective was wonderful, as it helped tell the story brilliantly, but I personally would’ve loved to see a 1st person point of view from Merry or even Leo, as I feel like that could’ve been more exciting.

Katherine and Elizabeth Corr are wonderful at creating beautiful characters with intertwining storylines, and keeping the reader excited all the way to the end of the book, with a huge build up to the ending. Everything made sense, and the ending was absolutely exquisite, but not really surprising.

I would recommend this book to any lovers of Twilight, or the Mortal Instruments series.

Author Guest Post: Wing Jones by Katherine Webber Photo Blog Tour

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Received from Publisher

For my 23rd birthday, I went back to Hilton Head. Even though I had such vivid memories of it as a child, it was amazing to go back as an adult—and that trip absolutely inspired the Hilton Head scenes in WING JONES. If you’ve read it, you might know what scene I’m talking about 😉

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Image from Goodreads

A sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

Review: The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley

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Title: The Accident Season
Author: Moïra Fowley
Publisher: Corgi Children’s
Publication Date: Aug 2015
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

REVIEW BY LILY – YEAR 10 

The plot and overall story of The Accident Season sounded amazing, it had elements of mystery and supernatural aspects blended with a creepy setting with abandoned houses and some hinting of ghosts – But Moira Fowley seemed to fail to capture the attention of the reader. I couldn’t find myself getting into the story, and when I was away from the book, I found myself almost forcing myself to continue reading.

The story is told through the point of view of Cara, a 17 year old girl and follows the story of her mother, her sister Alice, her ex-stepbrother Sam, and her best friend Bea. The Morris family experience The Accident Season for one month in October where they experience all sorts of accidents.

One day Cara notices that Elsie, a girl Cara used to be friends with, appeared in all of her photos and that Elsie was missing from school. As the accident season progresses, Cara, Alice, Sam, and Bea try to find Elsie, and try to solve and break the curse of The Accident Season.

The character development was done well in some ways yet lacked spark in others. I think that the author tried too hard the make the teenagers into some kind of lost, rebellious teenagers. With so many scenes of smoking and drinking, it seemed that the rebellious image that should have been created came off to be pointless and didn’t really help add to the atmosphere and the character build up.

Adding on to this, the relationship aspect of the book was just weird. One relationship, even if it was legal (sorry for any spoilers), was just slightly disturbing. The bombshell effect that the relationship should have had on the story failed to really have any effect because throughout the lead up the author made it so obvious that it was going to happen, that it just seemed boring when it finally came up.

At the end of the book -like always- things came to a close and most things were solved and happily-ever-after. But some things that weren’t solved or little things that were added just seemed pointless to the plot. (Potential spoiler alert), a lot of little twists and events were added but just made the storyline drag out, and I think that’s made me lose focus. The Metal Man and the four creatures were sort of a pointless storyline and the story/metaphor of the wolf, maybe if the author developed more onto it, it could have made sense more but it didn’t help the mystery.

Overall, I would give this book 3 / 5. It was a good read, but I probably wouldn’t read it again. I think the book is more of a marmite book – you either absolutely love it, or you hate it.