Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Book review: Oblivion by Anthony Horowitz

Five gifted teens, a world swimming in darkness and despair, and a final call to a battle set to take place in the world’s coldest and most inhospitable region, Oblivion - Antarctica.

Disclaimer:
This review also appears on Women24.com, a South African women's lifestyle website where I manage, amongst other things, an online books section. 

Oblivion by Anthony Horowitz (Walker Books)
 
Ever come across an author whose name you've always recognised, but whose books you've never read?

Up until a few months ago, Anthony Horowitz was that author for me. 

I'm not entirely sure how I could have been ignoring Anthony's books for so long, but after reading Oblivion, I can definitely say that he has a new fan for life.

Horowitz’s Oblivion is a book that more than deserves its best-seller status. 

Not only is it a novel that is incredibly well-written, but it's also a book that is a deeply layered read featuring a complex, but fascinating cast of characters and a masterfully executed plot,  jam-packed with non-stop action.

What makes this book an added win in my eyes is that, although it forms part of a five-book series, it reads incredibly well as a standalone novel. So, if you, like me, have been feeling more than a little series-fatigued lately, Oblivion will be right up your alley.

Best of all, the book is just so good, it will actually make you want to go back and pick up the rest of the series. 

The finale to the Gatekeeper series, Oblivion places us smack-dab in the middle of a world ravaged by war, terrorism and anarchy. Many have died, while those who are alive, are desperately struggling to get by on a day-to-day basis.

To make matters worse, of those who have survived, not all of them are fighting the good fight. Some of them have even been painfully modified, turning them into grotesque caricatures – enhanced for the express purpose of becoming war machines.

Now to give you a little background, legend has long spoken of five teens who are the key to defeating Chaos – demon and King of the Old Ones – who has established a reign of terror all throughout the world.

These five teens– Matt, Scarlett, Pedro, Scott and Jamie (also known as The Gatekeepers) – each have incredible supernatural gifts; gifts which are powerful in their own right, but made even more so when they are together.

The key to ending Chaos’ evil influence, is that these teens should be united in one place in order to destroy him and send him back to the realm he came from before he broke through one of the gates constructed by The Gatekeepers.  

And here is where the fifth and final book comes in.

Oblivion finds the five teens scattered around in different parts of the world, following a narrow escape from a trap set for them in Hong Kong.

Travelling through doors which lead them to various locations around the world, each teen soon discovers that regardless of the destination at which they arrive, that the world they find themselves in has altered significantly.

In a mere matter of seconds, the gifted five have jumped forward a good 10 years forward – something which should not have happened, should not be possible and can only be explained by the fact that the Old Ones have been altering the fabric of time to their whim.

To complicate matters, not only do they find themselves in a world full of pandemonium, but they‘re also unable to go back to where they last met up due to many of the doors once freely available to them to jump through, being locked.

And the doors that are still open, are now being closely guarded by Chaos’ legions.

In true plot conundrum-y workings, Horowitz has made life challenging, if not downright impossible for the protagonists of his book.

As if dealing with being separated isn’t enough, they also have to now rely on the help of strangers to get them to their final destination. To throw a spanner even further into the works,  one of the five, after being disgruntled for quite some time, suddenly decides to turn traitor and join the other side.

What follows is an epic journey fraught with nail-biting tension, treachery and death-defying feats; all guaranteed to keep you on edge throughout the entire duration of the novel.

If I didn't point it out before, allow me to express my view now: Anthony Horowitz is an absolute genius.

Not only has he managed to create a world that encapsulates the horrors of a globe shrouded in turmoil and darkness, but he successfully and aptly captures the resilience of the human spirit in the midst of the most discouraging circumstances possible.

His work is thoroughly researched and is descriptions and depictions of the various countries in the midst of pandemonium, is nothing short of breathtaking.

From his vivid imagery and detailed portrayal of the Italy and its impending doom (in one scene he depicts the eruption of Vesuvius - imagery which I found to be brutal, majestic and tragic), to the desert-strewn sands of an Egypt on the verge of self-destruction, Horowitz takes you on a whirlwind journey that is both terrifying and exhilarating.

He has a masterful ability to create contradictions in the midst of tumultuousness and one scene in particular, a portrayal of an almost eerily perfect life in a little village in England, brought to mind the phrase that "One man's utopia (whether or not as parted of a anarchist regime or because of it), is another man's dystopia."

It is undeniably one of the creepiest scenes I've read in a book.

Aside from the settings, Anthony's characters are just as, if not more, amazing. Ferociously brave and survivors by nature, each and every one of the five will have you rooting for them - even the one who may not initially inspire much sympathy.

The motivations for what they did, the supernatural abilities they have and the bonds they shared and formed with the people helping them on their mission, made for some of the most compelling reading I've done in ages.

In fact, Horowitz's characters are so well-developed, that even if they had not been gifted with supernatural abilities, it wouldn't have impacted negatively on the book. Not only that, but he also brilliantly switches to different characters' perspectives without it being even remotely jarring.

With its jaw-dropping action sequences, haunting imagery and its thoroughly detailed and impressive plotline, Oblivion has definitely become one of my favourite dystopian reads.

You should definitely give this one a read. You won't regret it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Author guest post: Writing from different perspectives by Sally Partridge

On the blog today, I’ve got a lovely guest post from South African Young Adult author, Sally Partridge. For those who may have previously missed it, I recently featured an excerpt along with the cover reveal of Sharp Edges, which is Sally’s latest novel.

In her post today, Sally will be telling us what her book is about and what it was like writing from different character perspectives.

Now I’m no published author, but the one thing I know is that writing and switching between different character points of view is definitely no easy feat. Luckily for us, Sally’s not only given us some brief insight into this, but she also introduces us to the character’s we’ll get to meet.

Before I hand over the blog to Sally, here’s some more info about her latest release: 

About Sharp Edges:

Six friends attend a music festival in the Cederberg.

Only five come back.

For her seventeenth birthday Demi Crowley invites her five closest friends to join her at a music festival for a party to end all parties.

But what was supposed to be the night of their lives soon becomes a nightmare none of them will ever forget.

Sharp Edges is a topsy-turvy tale of love, loss and friendship that will stay with you long after the final page has been turned, and leave you questioning what you really know about your friends.


Read an excerpt from the book, previously featured on the blog.

                               
Over to the lovely Sally.

On being seven people at once 

So I wrote a book. Not a big book - it’s tiny if you compare it to massive tomes like Divergent and Breaking Dawn. Still, I like to think it’s a complex little read, full of twists and turns and jumbles.

What’s it about? Sharp Edges tells the story of six friends who attend a music festival but only five come back. It is a topsy-turvy tale of love, friendship and death. 

So what’s so complicated about that?

Well, Sharp Edges is not only set back to front, but the story is told through the perspective of seven different people. This means I had to get into the head of seven, completely different teenagers. Seven. Imagine an actor getting into character. Well I had to do that seven times.

Creating teenage protagonists is complicated enough as it is. Teenagers are emotional, fearless, uncertain, all for nothing, troubled, and a million other things too. In Sharp Edges, the teenage cast is all of the above, but also smack-bang in the middle of a crisis, reeling from grief, guilt and anger.

The biggest challenge of writing seven different people was that these characters literally needed to be seven different people. They have their own backstories, their own personalities, they sound different, and they act different and they think differently.

Let me introduce them. 

1. Bonang.
Bonang only appears in the prologue, so I had very little space to explore this firecracker of a character.

Her job is set up the plot and prepare the reader for what comes next. Still, she's a dynamic character in her own right, with a lot of personality.

"I sashay towards the dance floor, my fingers waving at all the familiar faces from recent parties. I spin on the spot, motioning for Ntombi to join me, but she isn’t looking at me.

I watch as she and Ashley slip into a booth at the far end of the room. My good mood crumples a little. I’m not used to Ntombi having other friends."

So who is Bonang? She is a feisty city girl. She's confident. She loves to party, but she's also a little jealous. 

2. Demi

Aka the girl who died.

Don't panic. This is not a spoiler. The reader discovers she died on the very first page (not to mention in the blurb and book trailer.)

Demi was the sparkling star that all the other characters orbited. She was all about the moment, the party, the high. But she also had a big heart, and that's where her fragility lies.
 

I let some time pass and wrote Demi last. I guess I didn’t want any of the other characters’ personality traits sneaking in.

3. Damian

Damian was Demi's boyfriend. He's something of a loner, uncertain about his life.  When the reader first encounters him, he is broken, filled with anger. Writing him was like being in a dreamlike state. Damian is lost, trying to claw himself back into the world. 

4. V

V is a mystery wrapped inside a puzzle. She's a closed box, unwilling to open, hesitant to let anyone look inside.
 

Writing V was to write economically.
 

When I revealed something I almost immediately took it back again.

This is not because V is uncertain of her own feelings, but holds them close, unable to let them go.


5. James

James is a bad boy, unable to dig himself free of the trouble he's in. He approaches life boldly, brashly.

His head is a mess. Thankfully, there was a lot of urgency to his thoughts, which made my job easier.

6. Siya

Siya is cool, calm and collected, but filled with ….

I think I should leave Siya as a mystery and let the reader unravel his layers on their own.
 

7. Ashley

Ashley is your typical, awkward teenage girl. She wants to fit in, but isn't quite sure how to. 

As a result she's full to the brim with teenage anxiety and self-esteem issues. To write Ashley I had to draw on my own troubled teenage years. 

My job is as a writer is to create real characters. They're not just made-up plot devices that appear on a sheet of paper. Write authentically, and your characters will come across as authentic.

My advice for writing in different perspectives is to read what you've written out loud. That's the easiest way to pick up speech patterns.

Then look at your sentences and ask yourself if they all look the same.

Some teenagers are witty, others introspective, some talk in bursts, others are able to express their feelings meaningfully.

Imagine you are inside the character's head watching them write down the words.

Shameless plug time!

I'll be talking more in-depth about the processes that go into writing young adult fiction at a YA masterclass at the Open Book Festival in September.

The details are as follows:
Date: Wednesday 11 September 2013
15.00 – 17.00 Central Library (Cape Town) Seminar Room 1

This YA workshop will also be featuring fellow YA authors, Cat Hellisen and Sarah Lotz

I would recommend this event for anyone interested in writing young adult fiction. Please rsvp to me directly at sallypar(at)gmail.com

No costs involved.
Thanks for stopping by Sally.

About Sally:
S.A Partridge is an award-winning author of teen fiction and one of the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans.

Sally is the author of young adult novels The Goblet Club, Fuse and Dark Poppy’s Demise and has twice won the M.E.R. Prize for Youth Ficiton as well as other distinctions.

Where you can find Sally:
Web 
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads


Side note: I’ll be attending the Open Book festival and will be doing a few features, talking more about the authors, both local and international who’ll be in Cape Town, come September.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Author guest post: What makes for a compelling romance in YA fiction by Isabel and Marilyn Thomas

Today I’d like to welcome sister-writing duo, Isabel and Marilyn, authors of the contemporary YA romance, Stargazing from Nowhere to my blog today. 

Before being in touch with the lovely siblings, I have to admit to not having heard anything about their book before.

However, upon reading the synopsis, I can tell that this is the kind of book that will appeal to most lovers of YA ; not least because it’s a YA but also because the book’s protagonist, Kristen, is a blogger in her own right.

I, for one, can’t wait to give this one a read.

Take one blogger and said blogger’s hatred of a popular rock band, add an unexpected meeting with the cute drummer, mix in with a dash of false fangirling and you’ll get the recipe of a concoction that sounds delightfully fun, zany and quirky - all in one.
 
What’s not to like about this premise?

So, as part of today’s guest post, I asked the lovely pair to tell us what THEY think are must-have elements in YA romance fiction. 

As always, before I hand over the reins, here’s some more info about the book. 

About Stargazing from Nowhere
Kristen Morgan's blog is about to get her into trouble. Deep trouble.

Online, she is known as "Stargazer" from the popular Stargazing from Nowhere blog, while in real life she is a regular fifteen-year-old high school student.

This online anonymity is quite liberating, allowing her to be completely honest with her readers.

Through a twist of fate, Rising Tide, the band she has bashed the most online, ends up in her small town, which sends Kristen into an excited panic.

To continue gathering fresh material for her blog, she poses as a Rising Tide fan.

After sneaking into the band's private party, she comes face to face with the band's drummer, Michael Stevens, who happens to be even more gorgeous in person than she cares to admit.

Something unexpected also happens to her when she meets him: she becomes giddy, nervous, and inarticulate, leading Kristen to realize that her interest in Michael has nothing to do with her blog, but everything to do with her heart.

As Kristen and Michael grow closer, does she have to make a choice between blog or boyfriend...Or is the choice made for her.

Add Stargazing from Nowhere to your Goodreads TBR pile.
Buy your copy from Amazon.

Over to Isabel and Marilyn

Compelling Romance in YA FIction
Compelling Romance may be hard to find in real life, but in YA fiction, it’s alive and well. There are many components that create this, but we’ve narrowed it down to five main ones.

While they may look simple enough, they are crucial in creating memorable love stories that stay with us long after we put the book down.

Here are our top Five Things that make for a Compelling Romance in YA Fiction:

1. The novel needs to be a character-driven romance:


This means that the characters’ motivations and interactions are true to their character rather than to the plot.

Sometimes it seems like characters aren’t really into each other, or maybe they haven’t reached a certain point in their relationship, yet they’re supposed to be in love, and what happens is that their interaction begins to ring false.

So starting with having good characters is really a crucial starting point and to be authentic when creating their character arch.
 
2. You have to like the hero and heroine:

You have to cheer for them to be together, otherwise, you don’t care about the romance. They can be flawed people, but they should be good people, and we should be hoping that it all works out for them because we see ourselves in them.

3. Unconditional love:

This is really important because when you’re really in love, it is unconditional, so the protagonist and her/his love interest need to have this level of love. It’s not the kind of love that will alter with time or temptation from other areas.

4. A cute-meet is always good:

This is an old Hollywood technique, but it happens in real life too. People often want to know how you meet someone. Sometimes it’s the boring answer, “We met through friends,” or “Online,” etc.

Once in a while, there’s a cute story that goes along with it, and we like hearing it because you go from meeting someone you don’t know at all or having that person become so close to you and that’s pretty amazing, actually.

It demonstrates that your life can change just like that, and change for the better, of course.

5. The character’s situation doesn’t support their love:

Like in Romeo and Juliet, who came from feuding families, and Twilight, where one was human and one was not, their situation is at odds with their love for one another, and it generates real conflict.

It can’t just be a misunderstanding, it has to be something that has to be resolved. In our book, Stargazing from Nowhere, Kristen, the protagonist, runs an anonymous and popular blog that criticizes a band, and once she meets its drummer, completely falls for him.

She hasn’t told him who she is, so that’s something that would get in the way of their love, as it affects trust. The relationship, their love, has to overcome this deceptive situation as it’s there between them, silently threatening to break them up.

About us:
Isabel Thomas and Marilyn Thomas are sisters who write together. Their debut YA novel, a chick-lit romance, Stargazing from Nowhere, is about a regular girl with a secret blog who meets her rock star crush when he comes to her small town, which is in the middle of nowhere.

For additional information, you can also check out their website.

Thanks so much for stopping by Isabel and Marilyn!

What are your thoughts on romance in YA? What do you look for and what do you wish you could see more of? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Booktalk: Reasons to date guys who read

Haven’t done a post like this in a while, so thought that to get back into the swing of it, I’d feature a fun little piece I originally wrote for Women24 a while back. I often cross post content across my blog and the site, and the one I’m featuring today is, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable pieces I’ve written.

I’ve made a few slight changes, but the essence of it remains the same.  

Let’s face it ladies, the only thing sexier than a fictional book character is dating a man who likes to bury his nose between the pages of a book.

Here's list of top 10 reasons why you should date a guy who reads:

1. Men who read are smart, witty, quirky and highly entertaining.
No, I’m not saying that men who don't read are dumb (NOT at ALL - before all the non-readers take offence); it's just that male book addicts can often entertain us with the most interesting and random facts from the knowledge they've gleaned from all their reading over the years.

Which, for me, mean off-beat, scintillating, intellectual and hilarious conversations aplenty.

2. You don't have to feel guilty when you want some reading time for yourself.
Chances are, he'll grab the opportunity to pick up his own book and find his own little reading nook close to you, leaving you both time  to indulge in your leisurely activity.

3. Following on from that, you can then also read to one another. There's nothing that creates the sense of intimacy between book-loving couples than reading some of their favourite passages from their choice of literature, to one another.

Best spots to do this?

In bed, during a picnic and on a cosy little couch in your living room.

4. You can go into a book shop without having to worry about a time limit.
One of the greatest benefits of going book shopping together, is that he'll probably spend just as much time, if not more, in the bookstore as you.

Browsing for books goes from being pleasurable to being downright sublime.

5. He won't mind you gushing, sighing or swooning over your current favourite book. In fact, he'll probably be amused and tease you about your crush on your favourite book characters.

He also won't feel threatened by your ardent fangirling, because he is secure enough to know that he is your very own fictional character come to life.

6.  Boys who read tend to be more keenly attuned to what we're feeling than boys who don't.
While this may not be true for everyone, I do think that boys who get book characters, understand book worlds and plots just get the underlying nuances of our varying degrees of emotions.

They don't just listen to what we say. They listen to what we're not saying.

7. Book boys = more bookshelves. Whether or not he is a handy man, chances are that he'll understand your need for more space to shelve your books.  What girl doesn't love a guy who builds or buys her a bookshelf?

8. You can talk about all the emotions a book has left you feeling and not be worried that he'll be bored
. Book discussions with your book lover will consist of nothing but lively and engaging debates on fictional characters, plots and subtext within the pages of a book.  Regardless of whether or not the two of you agree on a book or not, your conversations will never be lacking, nor will they be boring.

9. He'll never tell you that you have too many books. As a self-proclaimed book whore, the one thing i hate, is when someone tells me that I'm a book hoarder who needs to learn to let go of my books once I'm done reading them.

I'm never done with my books and most readers that I know, often like to go back to their books and reread them (I only donate those I know I won't read again). The bibliophile in him will not only will he understand this, but chances are, that he'll have his own vast collection.

10.  Because he'll go out and buy you a new book when he knows nothing else will cheer you up when you're down.

Not only that, he'll probably surprise you with one just because he loves you. Better yet, he'll know exactly which genre you love, who your favourite authors are and what kind of book you'll need to read just to feel better when all else fails.

And If that's not a good reason to date a man who loves reading as much as you do, then I don't know what is.

Disclosure: This originally appeared as a column on Women24.com.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Author guest post: Top 10 YA reads by Carlyle Labuschagne

Today I’d love to welcome South African YA author, Carlyle Labuschagne to my blog.

Carlyle, who is the author of The Broken Destiny, a YA dystopian novel featuring a heroine on a quest to save a dying race, has kindly agreed to stop by to tell us a little more about her favourite YA reads.

I, for one, an always excited when authors do guest posts like these, as it gives us as readers a chance to see which books they love and which of those have inspired them with regard to their own writing.

For those of you who have read The Broken Destiny, the cover for the sequel, Evanescent, has just been revealed. Carlyle’s been running quite the giveaway where you can win a host of fabulous goodies, so be sure to check out her Facebook page for more details.

For more info about The Broken Destiny, head on over to Goodreads. 

More about Evanescent
Her fall has just begun. Only his touch can save her from the shift that could destroy it all.

Within my blood runs a thing our kind calls The Shadowing Disease.

It shadows over, and bends everything to its will. When the first blood- shift came, it tore through flesh and blood, threatening to bend me, break bone, shatter my mind and entrap my heart with its honeyed, seductive poison.

It came with vicious intent, moving my thoughts and altering me forever.

The shift has caused a rift within me.

No one was safe when it entrapped me in its claws of foul lust. But I have the only antidote against the evil that becomes me – his touch alone has the power to release the spurs of sweet darkness that clung on for dear life.

I knew what I had to do; the desperation pulled my mind with the deep determination of a hungry predator. But by the time the revelation raised me from the dark dungeon of my bounds – it might have been too late.

Add Evanescent to your Goodreads TBR pile.

Over to Carlyle.

My top 10 YA reads of all time

Ten, really only ten you say? How does one choose when confronted with so many great stories? I’ve compiled the list as my top 10 of all time, purely on the emotional pleasures these books gave me. What adds to the pleasure and total appeal of such a book for me?

Number one – The title. I love myself a catchy, intriguing title. Number two – the cover (yeah sorry to be one of those, but I adore beautiful visual things, like most people I assure you that.) 

Number three, how do the words, flow, build, and weave into the cover and story of the book? What I mean by this is, the usage of words that are true to the character and the reality of the story.

Dialogue plays an important role for me too. Perhaps sometimes the layout plays an important role – all these components mashed together bring me art! High Standards? Perhaps?

I am not putting the Twilight Saga on this list. I do however treasure it for what it was. But let’s go outside of the Twilight movement. Give the rest a go!

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare.
Although it is the prequel to The Mortal instruments series, I truly fell in love with the trilogy because of its time period, its steampunk elements,and the characters - who were beyond amazing.

All in all, the series as a whole gets a delicious, totally satisfying 5 Stars. It holds everything from Romance, loads of action, magic, angels, demons, werewolves, clockwork creatures, science… I can truly go on and on.

The Glimpse by Claire Merle
A Dystopian two book series, with a twist of horror. Claire has created a dystopian setting in London of all places. Yay Claire! I am currently 90% done with The Fall (second and last book).

Why I adore this story so much: It is all so very stressful; there is always something happening that makes you want to pull your hair out and scream as you see it all heading downhill - and there is nothing you can do about it!

Her main characters are unbelievably strong willed and unpredictable. There are some horrid realities she has created, which like The Hunger Games, is totally believable and necessary for the authenticity of it all.

The Eve Trilogy Anna Carey
I have only read the first two books in this series but I can say that without a doubt, it has already left its mark on my soul. Anna Carey writes beautifully, deeply and it’s all very memorizing. My all-time favourite genre is Dystopian, I devour it totally.

These books I could not put down, the twists and turns the – OH NO moments, the deep, desperate love, the evil empire – then comes my best part – total disbelief and elements of shock. What? OMWord I never saw that cruel twist of fate!

Yeah I am a sucker for struggles and impossible situations. Another 5 Stars!

The Hush Hush Saga by Becca Fitzpatrick

Becca Fitzpatric delivered an amazing Fallen Angel concept like no other. There were times I was totally mad at the characters, shed some tears and was taken aback by the unexpectedness of it all. 

But mostly the originality and beauty of the world she had created drove me to another 5 Star rating for the entire 4 book series.

Wormwood by D.H. Nevins
OMWord can this woman can write and conjure up some intensiveness that will leave you feeling all kinds of things; tuning your emotions into a cyclone of sorrow, desperation, anger, longing, fear and hope. It holds two really amazing star elements – Angels and the end of the world.

From the first sentence I was trapped in the dark world right up until the end, where the author totally topped it off with a cruel, unexpected twist. How can life be so unkind?

When all hope is lost there is a glimmer of a shining star and then it ends! Urgh right – I love that! Mwhaaahahahaa. I don’t really know how to class this book – exceptional.

From the writing style, the words, the story, the characters that deliver a full 5 Star soul nourishing read.

Graceling. Fire, and Bitterblue a three book series by Kristin Cashore.

This is fantasy at its utmost, creative best. Cashore managed to bring fierce woman fighters, sexy men, entirely other-wordly abilities and, heated moments into a new orb of amazingness.

The world the author has created in all three books was impressive, ambitious and tasteful.

The textures, colours, landscapes, creatures and situations had me at the first page of every book.

Although each book is in a way separate, she managed to bring the different worlds together in one way or another. Her writing style is very classic witch only added to the enrichment quality of it all.

A Need so Beautiful by Suzanne Young.

This book was just that  - beautiful, sad and haunting. From the beginning there is mystery and the inevitable knowledge that things have to end badly. The torment of knowing she is keeping a secret from the only one who loves her –the gorgeous older bad-boy love interest.
 
And no matter what she does he loves and fights for her. Need I say more?

Child In Darkness by Robert Hill
This one has come a loooong way with me. I read this at the age of 13 and is to this day one of my all-time favourites. It’s about friendship in the most strangest of ways.

About accepting someone or something for who they are, fighting and risking for what you believe in. It’s about connection when the odds are not at all in your favour!

The Hunger Games (you saw that one coming!) Suzanne Collins
The fight, the trill, the twists and the plot. The never ending battle for freedom, sacrifice. A gorgeous colourful cast of characters.

A world beyond our imagination, yet can be total reality. Many have not liked the writing style of Collins in this Series, but I think it is absolutely, brilliant and true to the reality of the world created, in which we find ourselves glued to.

Divergent by by Veronica Roth
It’s dystopian! Its action, its suspense, its enthralling and its finding love in a dark place. It’s about breaking the mould, the cast and the entire damn orderly, oppressive, judgemental system.

About being something no one saw coming. About turning against everything for who you are, to never stop fighting. Veronica has depicted the ultimate segmentation of ‘types’ and choices.

Fury by Elizabeth Miles

There was something about Fury that lured me in. Besides the gorgeous cover, I loved every minute of Fury. Each page, each phrase, it was all perfect. Beautifully written. Executed wonderfully.

Elizabeth is an extraordinary writer. There was not one moment where I thought oh no, why would you put that in there. It all added up. The plot was cunning and well - perfect. Yet another Author to add to the Amazing Author list

The Faerie Guardian Rachel Morgan

A very talented author, who works magic with words and scenes. I loved it from page one, action... action.. action... romance... action...romance and some sad and broken scenes, conflict and magic. Everything to keep you on your toes all the way through.

I didn’t want it to end. I still don’t want it to end. Characters were spectacular, the world was amazing. Why I loved this book so, so much besides of the obvious mentioned above.

I write what I want to read, and here Rachel reminded me of every little element I create to keep readers enticed and begging for more. Well I am begging for more.

The plot was brilliantly and flawlessly put together; there was attitude, violence, love, sorrow, guilt and attitude and more attitude. I cannot say enough about this book, just read it!

Other great YA authors to consider:
T.G. Ayer. Shelly Crane . Airicka Phoenix . Beth Revis. Gayle Forman

Author Bio
Carlyle Labuschagne is a South African Debut Author working her way into the hearts of international readers with her First Young Adult Dystopian Novel “The Broken Destiny. She is not only an author but works as a Sales Rep and Marketing Manager by day.

She holds a diploma in creative writing through the writing school at Collage SA. Loves to swim, fights for the trees, food lover who is driven by her passion for life.

Carlyle writes for IU e-magazine India, an inspirational non-profit magazine that aims at inspiring the world through words.

The drive behind her author career is healing through words. Carlyle is also the founder of the first annual book drive – Help build a library in Africa project.

“My goal as an Author is to touch people’s lives and help others love their differences and one another.”

A firm believer in - YA saves!

Where you can find her:

Twitter
Website
Goodreads
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What's your favourite YA read of all time and why? Feel free to share your list below.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Book review: Death of a Saint

The butt-kicking, zombie-killing Mall Rats brat pack are back in the fantastic follow-up to the popular South African youth novel, Deadlands.

Disclaimer: A slightly expanded version of this review also  appears on Women24.com, a South African women's lifestyle website where I manage, amongst other things, an online books section.

Death of a Saint by Lily Herne (Publislhed by Penguin Books SA)
Warning: Please note that this review may contains spoilers, considering that this is the second book in the series.

You can check out my review of the first book here.

We last left off when Lele, Ash, Ginger and Saint made a break from the Mall after being pursued by both the Rotters (the zombies) and Guardians.

Now hiding and camping outside of the no-longer (if it ever was) safe enclave, the four of them are in more danger than ever, being forced to fend for themselves with little to almost no supplies (not that these teens don't know how to take care of themselves. They are zombie-killers after all).

Things within the enclave have progressively become much worse and with the Resurrectionists (Guardian worshippers) exercising more control, targeting and recruiting youth to be initiated as Guardians,  the Rats do their best to keep a low profile - especially considering they're currently on the most wanted list of "criminals" for crimes committed against the state.

Of course, with their luck, and their penchant for finding trouble, things don't exactly go as planned. After narrowly escaping from a fate worse than death, the troop opts to leave Cape Town in search of more supplies and potential survivors outside of the enclave.

Along the way they adopt a hyena, meet people who join them on the road, encounter a whole new set of challenges and get more insight into why the reanimated leave them unscathed. 

The road is bumpy, the journey unsafe, but perhaps the most dangerous aspect that comes into play is that, for all the team's united front, the secrets being kept from one another may be the biggest threat of all.

If you haven't picked up Deadlands or Death of a Saint yet, that you should go out and get it now, because this is a book series that's definitely not one to be missed out on.

Any reader, young or old, who knows our country's history, will be able to appreciate the biting, satirical and humorous tone that Lily Herne has conveyed in and throughout the first book.

With Death of a Saint, Herne (which by the way is the pen name for writing duo, Sarah Lotz and her daughter Savannah), picks up from where we left off; only this time mother and daughter have managed to up the stakes and then some more in this explosive follow-up.

This time around, there's an added dynamic in the sense that, although the action is less and more spread out throughout the novel, we see a lot more character growth and development. In addition to this, we're given the opportunity to get to know Saint more, as the novel is alternately narrated by her and Lele.

 It's clear that life inside and outside of the enclave has taken its toll on our young heroes and heroines and that, even though the team get along fabulously, unspoken tensions are on the rise.  When newbies Ember and Lucien enter the scene things really become interesting.

For one, the budding romance blossoming between Lele and Ash (I love Ash by the way - even though he can be jerk at times) is hampered by the arrival of the gorgeous Ember, who fits in quickly and with the exception of Lele, seems to be getting along fabulously with everyone; Ash in particular. 

Ha.

One would think there'd be no time for some romance, teenage angst and jealousy issues, but there's plenty of that here. And Lele makes it clear that she is does not welcome the new stranger in the midst.

Mind you, I'm totally rooting for Lele and Ash; they'd make an awesome couple (Lily? That was a none-too-subtle hint by the way). 

Aside from the angsty issues, we're thrown another interesting twist with Lucien's arrival, which brings about the exposure of one of the team's secrets. More than that I can't reveal, but trust me when I say, that not long after that, the team walk into a trap that perhaps only one person saw coming (made you curious, didn't I?).

Lily Herne has written a sequel that by far, surpasses that of its predecessor. One thing is certain, Mother and daughter duo really know how to tell a good story and create characters that will engage, infuriate, but mostly, make you root for them as they traverse through a landscape seemingly devoid of any life (besides those of the rotters).

And with that cliffhanger the book concludes with, the duo not only end off on a note that leave us hanging, but one that will definitely have us picking up the next book in the series, The Army of Left (Death of a Saint will give you a clue about the title behind the book).