BOOK REVIEW | Taking Up Serpents by Ian Sutherland (4 stars)

sutherland_takingupserpents_ebook-600Verdict: Intricate and well-written, with a page-turning ending, this great tech-crime novel surpasses its predecessor in ambition and delivery.

Brody and Jenny are back!

Still recovering from the dramatic events of the last book, and the subsequent loss of Leroy as a friend, Brody is seeking purpose and professional legitimacy. His growth from white hat pen-test hacker to his application for the Vorovsky Mir take-down team at GCHQ is no doubt helped by his relationship with Jenny, who requires honesty (and legal compliance) from him in order to continue their romance – despite the complications this job would bring geographically. But Brody receives another offer which sorely tempts his secretive side, and it might be too early to put his online persona Fingal to rest.

Jenny herself is facing trouble at work. Her boss is relentlessly penalising her for how the last case went; punishing her for making the final arrest and, in his view, making him look like a fool. She too is entertaining a career change, one that might place her relationship with Brody in jeopardy, but then something happens that throws both our favourite hacker and kick-arse policewoman back together, whether they want to be co-workers or not. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW | A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab (4 stars)

agos-uk-coverVerdict: A very welcome return to Red London and the lives of Lila and Kell. I’m a bit terrified for the next book.

Question: What’s better than a cross-dressing thief and a royal magician at the end of his tether?

Answer: Nothing.

A Gathering of Shadows picks up a few months after the last book left off. Things in Red London have changed – and not for the better. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW | My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord by David Solomons (4 stars)

GymteacherMy Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord is the sequel to one of my new favourite children’s books, My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons. Being so impressed by the first novel, I had high hopes for this one, and it did not disappoint me.

Luke Parker is struggling at his new school. Maths is difficult, gym is worse, but that would all be fine if his superhero brother weren’t so annoying. Zack, a.k.a. Star Lad, won’t believe Luke when he tries to tell him there’s a new supervillain on the rise, but Luke is sure he’s right about a new terror threatening to end civilisation as they know it… or at least the civilisation of Bromley.

Solomons triumphantly returns to the world of English suburban superheroes, bringing with him the humour and ambition of the last book as well as building on the cast of loveable characters. The book is witty, excellently paced, and full of honest pre-teen awkwardness that had me smiling from ear-to-ear. Add to that a “Flash Gordon” moral (that you don’t necessarily need superpowers to be a hero), and it was a delight from start to finish.

I’m can’t wait to read the next one!

BOOK REVIEW | The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (4 stars)

the_lie_tree_front_coverVerdict: Beautifully constructed mystery that deserves (and received) the 2015 Costa Book Award.

It’s been a while since I posted a book review and I’m glad I can kick-start my posts with this novel. The Lie Tree was a delight to read; a tale woven by the masterful storyteller, Frances Hardinge.

It follows the story of Faith Sunderly, the 14-year-old daughter to Reverend Sunderly, an acclaimed natural scientist who has recently been shamed into hiding on a remote island. Faith tries hard to be a dutiful daughter as she ‘clumsily [rocks] between childhood and adulthood’, but the fact is that she has very little interest in the dresses, kid-gloves and gossip that her mother Myrtle instructs her about.

Faith is an aspiring natural scientist, with a curious mind and a knack for piecing things together. When her rather forbidding father dies on the remote island, Faith is the only one with enough scraps of fact to be sure it was murder. Faith dares her reputation and her life to catch her father’s killer.  Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW | Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford (3.5 stars)

hamsterVerdict: Cute and smart with just the right amount of sad mixed in. Many shades of fun. 

My dad died. Twice. But only the second time was my fault.

When Al Chaudhury receives a letter from his dead dad on his twelfth birthday, he doesn’t really know what to expect. He tells his mum it was just about the usual, ‘growing up, guy stuff’ that fathers tell their sons when they reach a certain age, but the truth is much weirder.

Al’s dad didn’t want to die. Fortunately, he built a time-machine to change what happened. All Al needs to do is…

Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW | Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb (4 stars)

fool's quest


Verdict: High quality fantasy that feels like catching up with an old friend. Albeit a sometimes remarkably stupid old friend who frustrates you to the point of throttling him.

So, unless you pay no attention to me at all, you might have gathered that Robin Hobb is my Favourite Author of All Time. That’s a pretty heavy mantle to wear because, as the saying goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. When I open a Robin Hobb book, I expect epic. I demand epic and, if I don’t get it, I’m probably going to throw my toys out of the pram. It’s not really Hobb’s fault, either, because I basically think she’s the best person to ever hold a pen. It’s a lot to live up to.

Fortunately, Fool’s Quest delivers on the vast majority of my expectations. Penned with exquisite care, it continues the story of FitzChivalry Farseer and the Fool, a.k.a. Lord Golden, a.k.a. Amber, a.k.a. Mage Grey, a.k.a. Beloved. It picks up where Fool’s Assassin ended, with little Bee stolen by the Whites of Clerres, Withywoods in an absolute wreck, the Fool stabbed but healing behind the walls of Buckkeep Castle, and poor Fitz caught up in a tangled web of bad decisions and worse choices yet again.  Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons (4 stars)

-My Brother is a Superhero-68851-3Verdict: Excellent, well paced and full of laughs.

My brother is a superhero and I could have been one too, except I needed a wee. This is the first line of David Solomons’ debut children’s novel. You know David Solomons. He’s that guy who wrote episodes of Buffy and Angel with Joss Whedon. Yeah. That guy.

Anyway, writing credentials aside, I picked up MBIAS on a recommendation from a friend and the Waterstones’ premise:

Luke is a comic-mad eleven-year old who shares a treehouse with his geeky older brother, Zack. Luke’s only mistake is to go for a wee right at the wrong time. While he’s gone, an alien gives his undeserving, never-read-a-comic-in-his-life brother superpowers and then tells him to save the universe. Luke is massively annoyed about this, but when Zack is kidnapped by his arch-nemesis, Luke and his friends have only five days to find him and save the world…

Who wouldn’t want tor read that? Continue reading