Focus on Fantasy: Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

Focus on Fantasy, Uncategorized
Court of Fives

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Title: Court of Fives
Series: Court of Fives #1
Author: Kate Elliott
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Publication Date: Aug 2015

SYNOPSIS

On the Fives court, everyone is equal.

And everyone is dangerous.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Read an excerpt HERE

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Review: The Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant

Recommendations, Review, Uncategorized
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.

This Beats Perfect by Rebecca Denton -Song a Day Challenge

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To celebrate the release of This Beats Perfect on the 2nd of Feb – Atom Books have launched a Song a Day Challenge throughout January.

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All you have to do is share your favourite songs for each day on social media using the hashtag #ThisBeatsPerfect. For full details please go HERE

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Image from Goodreads

COMING FEB 2nd 2017

Amelie Ayres has impeccable taste in music. Bowie. Bush. Bob. So when she finds herself backstage at The Keep’s only UK gig she expects to hate it; after all they are world’s most tragic band. In fact she feels a grudging respect – not (obviously) for their music, but for the work that goes in to making them megastars. And when lead singer, ‘Maxx’, is not dressed up as a cross between Elvis and a My Little Pony, he is actually rather normal, talented and has creative struggles not too dissimilar to her own.

But the next morning she wakes up rolls over and discovers a million new @’s on social media. Overnight a photo of her backstage has made her a subject of global speculation. Suddenly the world needs to know #Who’sThatGirl? – but for all the wrong reasons.

All Amelie wants is to play her music. She’s got the guitar, the songs, the soul and, in the safety of her bedroom, she’s got the voice. But when it comes to getting up on stage, she struggles with self-doubt.

Immaculate’s a concept. Flawless is fake. But just sometimes music – and hearts – can rock a perfect beat.

Review: All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab

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Image from Goodreads
Author: Anna Jarzab
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: Jan 2010
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads
Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.

Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.

Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.

As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.

REVIEW BY KATE – YEAR 11

‘So many questions- but nobody except Carly seemed capable of answering them’ – Neily Monroe.

Neily, one of Jarzab’s central characters sets the scene for an engrossing, page turning murder mystery. With a haunting, sinister murder plot and a disturbing pictorial book cover, Neily and Audrey narrate alternately the intricate twists and turns involved in their investigation of teenage heiress Carly’s murder. A murder that superficially appears to be financially motivated, camouflages the undeniable greed that permeates Empire Valley. It is a valley where secrets are buried deeply and darkly, until the youths are prepared to talk. As the title suggests, secrets are not secret.

It is too convenient to convict Carly’s uncle, who has been ravaged by life’s alcohol and heroin ridden destructive habits. Motivated by love, anger, hurt and humiliation, ex- boyfriend Neily and Cousin Audrey, determinedly form an unlikely partnership and set about finding the true answer to the murder. Using the two central characters, Jarzab invites the reader to second guess and point fingers at potential suspects, with utmost relish.
Jarzab provides a highly relatable teen read, as Neily and Audrey are both pupils of Brighton Day School. Set against the backdrop of wealthy Empire Valley, cardiothoracic surgeons, lawyers and Rhodes scholars scurry home to their palatial mansions at the end of their shifts. Jarzab’s novel is more than a murder investigation, it is an exploration of complex teen psyche, as they respond to these high flying parents’ pressurised expectations to be perfect, and desire to chart their futures.

Jarzab also includes the traditional supporting characters- the tough, good-looking, top billing on the roster Adam, and popular, basketball playing Cass. Both reflect the importance for teenagers of social mobility into the egocentric in-crowd and the risks associated with what may not be the best crowd.

Carly is portrayed as bright and smart, but vulnerable following her extremely painful loss. It is inevitable that the magnetic attraction of the in-crowd will recklessly develop Carly’s affinity for life at the sharp edge- a life with ‘gutter junkies teetering on the brink of expulsion’.

A perfect novel for teens and young adults, encouraging them to pace the corridors of their minds, and search for answers about themselves and others.

Review: Stray by Monica Hesse

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Image from Goodreads
Title: Stray
Series: Stray #1
Author: Monica Hesse
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: June 2013
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads
Lona Sixteen Always is not herself – quite literally. She lives her life virtually through the experiences of Julian, a boy who was chosen as a role model for the Pathers of Quadrant 1 – troubled children who have been ‘rescued’ by the government and put ‘on-Path’. But one day Lona finds she can think for herself. And on top of that, the face of a familiar boy appears on her screen – Fenn, who she thought had moved on to a different stage of the Path last year. But he didn’t. Fenn and other rebels like him have strayed from the Path, and now Lona must stray too. But life off-Path is strange and difficult, and Lona uncovers a secret that will threaten all their lives. Can there really be life after the Path?
REVIEW BY JACK – YEAR 11

Stray is set in a world where orphans and abused children spend their childhoods on the government-run Path, a virtual reality experience of the ‘ideal’ childhood. This concept of using futuristic technology to solve society’s ills cheaply is both fantastic and increasingly relevant. The path follows the life of Julian, and pathers are monitored by a bureaucratic system of monitors, coping technicians (touchers) and managers.

Sixteen-year-old Lona, the main character, is a normal pather until she goes “off path” for a record ten minutes. As a result, she is sent to be remmersed, to have her memory wiped. On the way she is rescued by her old friend Fenn, who reveals that the path may not be what it seems. Although Lona’s gradual realisation that she cannot trust the path is predictable, the many twists along the way liven it up. The world of the path is fascinatingly in-depth but it does feel slightly under used.

All the characters seem to have good ideas behind them, but they are quite hard to follow as the cast expands continually throughout the book. By the end, this left me quite confused. Also, the plot seems to have a lot of loose strands left at the end of the novel; though perhaps, as there is a sequel, that is deliberate.

I loved Talia as a character, as she was introduced at the beginning but still had an important role to play at the end. As a monitor on the path, she inhabits a slightly different world to Lona’s pathers, separated by an intangible barrier. She also had a more thorough backstory, (understandably) than the other, orphaned, characters. The best part of the tale for me was the beginning, where the story is clear and the brilliant world of the path is emerging.

On the whole, the setting of Stray is great, but some of the characters do not seem to use it to its full potential.

Reading Theme of the Month: July 2016: Books to Film

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There are a large amount of Young Adult Fiction that has been transformed into movies over the last few years. the summer holidays is a great time to read some of the books before watching the movies.

KS3 students will be having a Book to Film presentation before the end of term to show them the young adult fiction books that have been turned into movies releasing during 2016.

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