Demon Road – Derek Landy

demon road

An epic road-trip across the supernatural landscape of America. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers: they’re all here. And the demons? Well, that’s where Amber comes in…Sixteen years old, smart and spirited, she’s just a normal American teenager until the lies are torn away and the demons reveal themselves.

Forced to go on the run, she hurtles from one threat to another, revealing a tapestry of terror woven into the very fabric of her life. Her only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be…

This is what I knew about the book before I started. I also knew that, while I’d enjoyed the first ‘Skullduggery Pleasant’ I wasn’t a particular fan of Derek Landy so I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. Our school librarian passed it over to me with a knowing nod and just recommended that I ‘see how it goes’…

The opening section was odd, but just on the right side of odd to intrigue me and make me keep reading. Amber veered between being a fabulously strong heroine and a whining teenager, so my thoughts on her as a character varied greatly as I read. There were nods for me to ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ with the introduction of Glen and Milo, and the latter was definitely a character that I feel helped keep me interested.

The story became more and more outlandish as it progressed, but the evident humour in the writing kept me from abandoning this. This is definitely one that I’d suggest fans of Landy try.

‘Forty-one’ – Lesia Daria

forty one

I received a digital copy of this from NetGalley, and I have to say this is not one I would particularly recommend.

This sounds horribly stereotypical but I think women of a certain age and socio-economic group will be hooked on Eva’s concerns and fretting over her life, present and past. Personally, when the novel opened with a lengthy focus on curtains I wasn’t sure if this was one I should continue to read.

The first part of the book was very slow, and I struggled to find much interest in the character or her concerns. I found her priggish, and if her life was really that bad she should have done something to change it! However, once she contracted meningitis and we saw how this impacted on her life I felt more concern for her as a character.

Ultimately I felt this was trying too hard to do too many things. Definitely not my cup of tea, but I can imagine it being a book that some will love.

Anna Dressed in Blood – Kendare Blake

anna dressed in blood

A beautiful cover and one that I wanted to love as soon as I read the description. I wasn’t disappointed.

Cas Lowood is a ghost-hunter with something to prove. When he moves to a new home he expects this latest kill to be the same as all the others. It isn’t.

I don’t want to give too much away, but this was what a good friend of mine referred to as “a cracking good read”. Witty, romantic and very well-written I can see this appealing to a wide range of readers.

The minute I’d finished it, I went and reserved a copy of part two – Girl of Nightmares – and wondered how I’d managed to not spot this series when it was first published.

‘Are You Still There’ – Sarah Lynn Scheerger

are you still there

I received this as a digital copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The novel begins strongly. You’re thrown right into the heart of the action, with our narrator – Gabriella – stuck in a toilet cubicle as her school is on lock-down due to a bomb threat. I had high hopes for this…unfortunately, they weren’t met.

As the novel progresses we learn more about Gabriella and her story is interspersed with comments from the Stranger’s manifesto (comments from the potential bomber). The excitement I felt from the blurb and the opening weren’t, however, maintained.

While I enjoyed elements of this story as I was reading, I can’t help but feel that this could have had more of an impact. It was a reasonable read, but some time after reading there is very little that sticks with me. Perhaps this is one that will speak more to its intended audience.

‘Only Ever Yours’ – Louise O’Neill


This was recommended by a colleague, and I am so glad she thought to pass it on.

The social structure of O’Neill’s novel is a witty satire on contemporary society. ‘Eves’ – as the girls are known – have one main function in life: to do whatever it takes to follow ‘The Rules’ and secure themselves a partner for life so they can procreate and bear children. If this fails, they become concubines. The worst thing that will happen is the failed ‘Eves’ return to The School as teachers to the next generation.

As I read this, my heart was in my mouth. The idea that we could live in a society where women are only valued for their looks and ability to keep men happy was horrifying…oh, hang on, could I have just missed the point?

The obvious parallels between so many of the ideas/views given to teenagers now made me want to scream as I was reading this. I found myself shaking my head at regular intervals as I read. Not least because I know of so many teenagers I teach who would not see any harm in the views expressed during the majority of the novel.

My only criticism of this stems from the relationship between Frieda – our narrator – and her friend, Isobel. The relationship between these two characters never really seemed to ring true, and I wasn’t given enough of an insight into the character of Isobel to feel as I think I was meant to at the end of the novel.

It is clear that this novel has hit a nerve, and it is certainly a novel I would recommend.

‘A Game for all the Family – Sophie Hannah

a game for all the family

Justine Merrison is a TV executive who has escaped her high-presssured life in London to move to rural Devon. This was meant to be a new start for the family, but then Justine starts to receive mysterious phone-calls from someone who seems to know more about her than Justine is prepared to tell us.

These calls come at the same time as her daughter, Ellen, is experiencing problems at school after her best friend, George, is excluded. When Justine goes to school to investigate matters, she learns there is no pupil called George. Her concerns for Ellen’s wellbeing are heightened when she reads a chilling story – written by her daughter – about a series of murders committed in their new home.

After losing my interest in Sophie Hannah’s recent novels I felt this was back on form in many ways. It made me doubt my own sanity at times, but it gripped me from the start and I was desperate to know exactly what was going on.

The Spooks Series – Joseph Delaney


I came late to this party, and it took an element of persuasion to convince me to start this series.

The Spooks Series tells the story of the seventh son of the seventh son, Thomas, who becomes apprentice to a Spook. Through these books we learn what the job of a Spook entails, have a richly imagined world full of truly terrifying characters and also get caught up in the age-old battle between good and evil.

There is a part of me that regrets not reading these books as they were published – trying to read them as one series meant, at times, that it felt a little repetitive. However, I feel this is a minor gripe and certainly not a concern that seems to be shared by the many teenage readers I’ve recommended this series to.

There are many things I loved about this series. Not least the evident love Delaney feels for some of the more unsavoury characters – Grimalkin and Alice – and his steadfast refusal to play safe with vocabulary and ‘dumb down’ to get his readers. Yes, there’s a formula, but it’s one that works.

I’m already looking forward the the new series, though I hope there’s not so many in this one!

‘The Rest of Us Just Live Here’ – Patrick Ness

the rest of us just live here

Before I start this review, I have to confess to having a bit of a soft spot for this writer and this, coupled with a love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, made me highly intrigued by this new release.

You can get a precis of the novel on-line easily enough, and reviews seem to be mixed. I guess this just has to be one you will either love or loathe.

Personally, I loved the idea that this was a novel about the ordinary kids; the ones who are not chosen to spend their lives fighting demons and saving the world. Mikey and his friends, however, appear to lead far from ordinary lives…they have issues aplenty, without needing to worry about the impending apocalypse that seems to be threatening their town.

I loved the clever chapter starts that keep us abreast of the lives of the Indie kids that are going to save us. There are lots of knowing nods, and the characters are quirky without being irritating. Sly humour and some touching moments. My only gripe (now I’ve finished the novel) is the resolution for Jared, Mikey’s friend, who happens to be God of Cats. It seems to go against everything we’ve been fed through the story, and I wonder whether there’s some deep philosophical idea that I’m missing.

I have heard Patrick Ness referred to – fondly, I hasten to add – as the Dark Lord. Based on this, I think his power is growing…