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Monday, 31 December 2012

Crimson Frost

I received a fabulous ARC from Jennifer Estep with some really great bookmarks. The cover is great. I have to say that Jennifer Estep is very skilled at eliciting extreme emotions with both of her series. I had no expectations and pretty much went into this newest release with an open mind, despite the book blurb. This time out Gwen has to defend herself not only against reapers, but also against charges that she freed Loki intentionally. This means she also had to defend herself against the judgment of her classmates who had all lost someone to the reapers making it a very hard road ahead of her for her to travel, which is not unusual. That is one thing that Jennifer Estep does really well. She writes multi-dimensional characters that you identify with, whilst you can't help but feel total disdain and disgust at the bad guys, some of which for all intents and purposes, are kids.

There are several new characters in this book. We meet more of the protectorate leaders and are introduced to more students. It was great to see more of Morgan because we see more of who she is outside of how she used to behave when she was the leader of the mean girls. I am one of those people that cannot stand that concept and hate when I see students behaving that way in real-life though I know it is human nature to want people to admire and love you. But, mean girls tend to go to the extreme with their tactics and treatment of others until they don't have their group to shield them.  This is another example of how despite this being young adult urban fantasy Jennifer Estep makes you forget that the book is about mythology and she demonstrates that she really has insight into her characters and does great job of making us see and feel them.

The Chaos War is seriously heating up and it seems that these teens have some serious preparations to make because it looks like a lot of the reapers tend to be adults who have more experience and training than them. I love that they fight with ferocity and amazing courage, which was something that Gwen demonstrated a lot of in this book. She showed this vast amount of courage when there were times she was all alone against what seemed like everyone at times. There are so many things you can take from Crimson Frost, like perseverance in the face of what appears to be insurmountable obstacles, not just physical pain but terrible heartache from the losses these kids deal with on a daily basis. They let it drive them and most of them let it help build their character. One thing that seems interesting is that you cannot always tell which of the kids will be a reaper based upon how they behave. Just because someone is a mean girl doesn't mean she will end up being a reaper, but, then again...That is one of the beautiful things in this story, surprises. They keep you coming back for more and I know I'll be anxiously awaiting Midnight Frost!

Review can also be seen at Lady Techie'sBook Musings

Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Road Back

This novel is a very interesting read. It opens with an intriguing scene which has a significance which will only become clear to the reader much later in the book. I liked this approach because it drew me through the book, wanting to know what had happened in order to bring about this outcome.

The structure of the novel, which is essentially a love story, is also quite unusual. It introduces the reader to the two main characters, Patricia and Kalden, in turn and follows them from childhood as they grow up and move towards their first meeting. This technique helps the reader to fully identify with both the main characters and makes the impact of their meeting and its attendant dilemmas even stronger.

What makes ‘The Road Back’ really stand out, though, is the geographical and historical setting. A lot of research has clearly gone into writing the book, but the detail is included in a way that feels natural and not forced. The reader gets to experience with Patricia her early life in a London scarred by the blitz, and a family bruised by war, and to see the country of Ladakh (a country north of the Himalayas)  through Kalden’s eyes as he grows up there.

The strength of the love story and the richness of the detail of life in Ladakh, a country I knew nothing about before reading this book, carry the reader through this compelling tale. And, without giving too much away, the end of the story has a final unexpected twist which really delivers on the promise of the beginning.

All round, an extremely enjoyable and intelligent read.

Reviewed by Helen M Hunt

With thanks to the publishers for providing a copy of this book.