Thursday, 7 February 2013

Review: Back to BlackBrick

Back to BlackBrick
Release Date: 7th February 2013 (Out now!)
Pages: 272
Publisher: Orion Childrens Books
Author: Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Source: Purchased (Waterstones)
Purchase Book: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Cosmo's brother Brian died when he was ten years old. His mum hides her grief by working all the hours God sends and Cosmo lives with his grandparents. They've been carefree days as Granddad buys him a horse called John and teaches him all he knows about horses. But the good times have to come to an end and although he doesn't want to admit it, Cosmo knows his Granddad is losing his mind. So on one of the rare occasions when Granddad seems to recognise him, Cosmo is bemused that he gives him a key to Blackbrick Abbey and urges him to go there. Cosmo shrugs it off, but gradually Blackbrick draws him in...

Cosmo arrives there, scared and lonely, and is dropped off at the crumbling gates of a huge house. As he goes in, the gates close, and when he turns to look, they're rusty and padlocked as if they haven't been opened in years. Cosmo finds himself face to face with his grandfather as a young man, and questions begin to form in his mind: can Cosmo change the course of his family's future?

I was recommended this book by a sales assistant at Waterstones. It is the debut novel by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, officially out today!
To be honest before I even heard what it was about, I was sold by the cover. Something about those gigantic gates intrigues me. Before I get into the review I have to say that behind the books, Sarah is a really down to earth woman who surprised me by actually chatting with me on twitter.

This book is not my usual type, no obvious romance, teen drama, supernatural beings... It was however very refreshing and extremely moving. It follows the story of Cosmo and his struggle with dealing with his brothers accidental death and Grandfathers Alzheimer's, told in first person by the boy himself. Whether you know someone with Alzheimer's or not, this book will grab you. At first I thought, Sarah has an amazing insight that makes for an interesting read. As it turns out, her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's which makes this story feel that much more real. When we know someone with an illness, we do everything we can to make their life easier, from "googling" to going to the ends of the earth to find a cure... In this case, traveling back in time to BlackBrick. It is a read that will make any reader know what it's like to have a family member go through the same experience.

There are moments in the book that nearly tore me apart, but that is what pulls you in. The book does start slow but mid way through, it is kicked up a notch and you see a whole other side to the story. We learn that sometimes you wish you could turn back time, change the past to have a better future, but that's all it is.. a wish. We do our best to help those we love, but in the end its just our memories and relationships that count.

A fantastic cover that won me in a second. Without reading the blurb, you feel the sense of mystery and loss. The gate obviously leads you to somewhere... it is up to you to bring your own interpretation to what Cosmo's journey really is.

Final Comments:
I adored this book. the writing was brilliant and the story was gripping. For the first time, I felt like I was living in the shoes of a character, following every step he made and wishing I could do the same things If I was him. I would recommend this more to older children all the way to adults as there are parts that may not really be appropriate for a younger child. My only annoyance was the fact that Sarah had Cosmo insult my hometown of Sydney, saying she could of gone to so many better places. Therefore I am going to excuse it as a teenager venting about his mum going to another country, and not mine in particular.
All in all, I wish Sarah the best in her future novels, if they will be anything like this one, I will be ready to add them to my collection.

I'm giving it 5 acorns as I haven't read anything like this and it is absolutely gripping. It got me!


Saturday, 2 February 2013

Review: Finale

Finale (Hush, Hush Series) Book #4
Release Date: 25th October 2012
Pages: 464
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Source: Purchased signed edition (Waterstones)
Purchase Book: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Will love conquer all?

Nora and Patch thought their troubles were behind them. Hank is gone and they should be able to put his ugly vendetta to rest. But in Hank's absence, Nora has become the unwitting head of the Nephilim and must finish what Hank began. Which ultimately means destroying the fallen angels - destroying Patch.

Nora will never let that happen, so she and Patch make a plan: lead everyone to believe they have broken up, and work the system from the inside. Nora will convince the Nephilim that they are making a mistake in fighting the fallen angels, and Patch will find out everything he can from the opposing side. They will end this war before it can even begin.
But the best-laid plans often go awry. Nora is put through the paces in her new role and finds herself drawn to an addictive power she never anticipated.
As the battle lines are drawn, Nora and Patch must confront the differences that have always been between them and either choose to ignore them or let them destroy the love they have always fought for.

I had ordered this book long before it was due to come out as Waterstones had issued a limited number of signed copies for pre-order. Obviously, with the series being my favourite, I bought my copy. Before I go into my review, I must remind you there are three books before this and this is the very last in the series.
I suggest if you haven't read Silence, you should probably skip down to my final comments to avoid minor spoilers.

As with each book in the series, Silence ended with a cliffhanger. With Nora left in charge of the Nephilim, she is left with a choice, to take a side - stand with Patch or take the take lead of the Nephilim against everybody else. Both sides are under risk of major losses, so she must grow up and understand the world outside her Patch and Nora bubble, to take charge and protect those she loves.

Nora is a much stronger character in this book and she finally develops a spine. Patch... well lets just say he is just as strong as he always was, if anything he becomes less mysterious and you he finally opens up.

With a clear line now between the two sides, Patch and Nora must fight for each other and decide if they are strong enough to be together, or give it all up to join their sides.
The book is full of drama, scheming, back stabbing, lies, romance, suspense, action and more! By far the most compelling of the series, Becca leaves you wanting more.... but sadly this is where it all ends.

Keeping in line with previous covers, we see the same thing, Nora and Patch. Like Silence, it's again on the rocky shore, this time with Patch reaching out to Nora. A very dramatic cover with black feathers floating everywhere. As this book is full of suspence and romance, I couldn't have chosen a better cover to finish off the series. Below is a photo of Becca's autograph:

Final Comments:
I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it to fans of Becca, along with any YA readers. Again I suggest you read the previous books as they all tie in together and it would be a shame to miss something.
As mentioned above, there is no lack of drama, scheming, suspense, romance and action. It is utterly compelling and probably the best in the series. Becca has out done herself and well so since this is how we are parting ways with Patch and Nora.


Upcoming Reviews

After a break from blogging while I focused on my job, I am happy to announce my return with some new reviews! A fresh new batch for 2013!
This evening I popped by Waterstones at Piccadilly Circus, undecided on what to buy next. The branch has a late 10pm close which was perfect for my post dinner stroll home. With 10 minutes to closing, I was stuck, a wonderful sales assistant on the childrens/teen floor was more than happy to help me out. She took me around the entire section suggesting books and making each of them sound more exciting than the one before. For some odd reason that she didn't know herself, some of the books were on the shelf before the published date, which I was very happy to hear as it meant nobody could spoil it for me. You can find my final choices listed below. I chose Beautiful Creatures purely because of the movie and figured I would give the book a shot. The other three are all recommended by the sales assistant who said she loved them, her favourite being The Selection, which is apparently an amazing romantic drama... I will find out myself once I start reading.

1. Back to Black Brick by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald (Out 7th Feb)
2. The Selection by Kiera Cass
3. Beautiful Creatures by Garcia Stohl
4. Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood (Out 7th Feb)

Has anyone read or heard of any of these titles?