The Name of the Star By Maureen Johnson

Title: The Name of the Star

Author: Maureen Johnson

First Published: 29th September 2011

Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books

Blurb:

The day that Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school is also the day a series of brutal murders breaks out over the city, killings mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper spree of more than a century ago. Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him–the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target. In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities. (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

I absolutely loved this book! First it is set in London. Second it combines history with supernatural elements! And for me this just was wonderful!

Rory is in a new country, at a new school, away from her family and there is murders happening on her schools door step. Soon Rory becomes entangled in the murders after seeing the murderer, and becoming the next target. Life becomes more than high school for Rory as she is thrust into a world she never knew about. Ghost, murders, secret police, and some romance in there as well.

The premise of this novel was fantastic and I was gripped as soon as I started. The novel was fast paced and kept you wanting more. A ‘one more chapter…’ type off book.

‘The Name of the Star’ is a novel I would recommend to individuals who enjoy murder mysteries, combined with some teen angst and supernatural elements. A novel for those who enjoy something a bit different. Although I really enjoyed this novel, I can’t imagine many adults taking to it, however, young adults and teens should love this series. One that I will be recommending to my younger sister.

4.5 out of 5

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer By Michelle Hodkin

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Author: Michelle Hodkin

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

First Published: 27th September 2011

Blurb:

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong. (From Goodreads, 4th June 2013)

Review:

I was really looking forward to reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer after hearing so many positive reviews a while ago, but when looking at Goodreads I saw the reviews were coming in more mixed and was slightly apprehensive. Luckily I thoroughly enjoyed this novel! In fact it is the best I have read so far this year! 

We meet Mara while she is waking up in hospital after an accident that she cannot remember. Her friends are dead. She is experiencing hallucinations caused by ‘post traumatic stress disorder’ (PTSD). Due to her PTSD she convinces her parents to move hoping that it would reduce the reminders of her friends who died in the accident. But no. Mara is hallucinating again and seeing her dead friends in mirrors, along with other dead people.

Is Mara insane? Or is there something more supernatural at work?

This novel is the first in a trilogy and focuses mainly on Mara’s mental health and her growing relationship with a boy at her new school. Despite the idea of something ‘supernatural’ or ‘more’ being involve hinted at in the blurb this does not appear until near the end of the novel. I feel this is where many people were annoyed and why they reviewed more negatively than others. Although I have yet to read the second novel (The Evolution of Mara Dyer) I am presuming that it will bring more of the paranormal side into the story.

I only mentioned the above because it is one of the reasons I feel more mixed reviews were coming out about this novel. I however devour any books that are related to mental illness, and loved that the focus was mainly on Mara’s stress and the associated symptoms. For me it was a set up for the trilogy and allows the reader to understand Mara more intimately before we get into the more obscure story line.

For me I loved it. I loved the slightly slower pace compared to many YA books. The short chapters made it difficult to put the book down as I would say “just another chapter” to myself, but ultimately ended up finishing the book within two days.

I am very excited to get a hold of The Evolution of Mara Dyer as I want to find out what happens next but I am going to hold off for two reasons:

1. I want to wait until The Retribution of Mara Dyer comes out, or nearer to when it comes out, as I can imagine that I will be anxious to get my hands on it!

2. I have a lot of books to get reading so want to get a bit further through the TBR list.

But back to the book! I give it a 5 out of 5 and my favorite book so far of 2013!

City of Glass By Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments #3)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

First Published: March 24th 2009

Blurb:

To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City – whatever the cost? (From Goodreads, 21st March 2013)

Review:

I have fallen in love with this series! Although I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first two I think that is mostly because it started off really well then felt rushed at the end. City of Glass concludes the first story in the Mortal Instruments series and the fourth and fifth books are the aftermath of the main story.

I can’t say too much because that will give away bits and pieces from the first and second books. So what can I say? This is novel takes us to Idiris – the main city of the Shadow Hunter world – we encounter new characters and learn more about the history of Clary’s mother and many other characters. Clary is on a journey to find out how to wake her mother up. But things soon become much bigger than that.

This again gives us action, adventure, love, family complexities and much more! I can’t recommend this series enough! Especially with the film of the first novel coming out in August this year! Go out and buy it!!!!

4 out of 5!

A Shimmer of Angels By Lisa M. Basso

Title: A Shimmer of Angels

Author: Lisa M. Basso

Publisher: Month9Books

UK Publication Date: 29th January 2013

Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Rayna sees angels, and has the medication and weekly therapy sessions to prove it. Now, in remission, Rayna starts fresh at a new school, lands a new job, and desperately tries for normalcy. She ignores signs that she may be slipping into the world she has tried so hard to climb out of. But these days, it’s more than just hallucinations that keep Rayna up at night. Students are dying, and she may be the only one who can stop it. Can she keep her job, her sanity, and her friends from dying at the hands of angels she can’t admit to seeing?

Review:

We follow Rayna as she tries to regain her footing outside of a mental health facility – back to school, new job and a fresh start. After Rayna’s mother dies she begins to see ‘wings’ – angels. Her father not knowing how to help has her placed in a mental health facility in which she spends a substantial time.

Things begin to slip as a new classmate appears with golden wings behind him. She tries to ignore them but when one of her class mates is found dead she is caught in a fight for her sanity and the protection of her class mates.

I enjoyed A Shimmer of Angels as it combined one of my main interests (mental illness) mixed with Angels and the Fallen. I felt the novel was too short however, I know that there are two more books following this – the Angel Sight series/trilogy – but in some ways maybe it would have been better if they were combined? I can’t say this until the following novels are out, just speculate. I have not read any of the many Angel books that are out there and so cannot compare this one to them. A good fast paced book that held my interest, but maybe not at the quality of other books that are out there, but again this is speculation.

Those that want a bit of supernatural with some mental health this is a book you may enjoy.

I will give it a  3.5 out of 5

The Graveyard Book By Neil Gaiman

   This was the first Neil Gaiman book I read thanks to an Amazon Daily Kindle Deal last December. It made me find out more about Neil Gaiman and that I had actually seen two of the films of his books – Stardust and Coraline – which I both enjoyed. And this novel was better than the films I had seen! I love his macabre style and the bizarreness that seemed so ‘normal’ in ‘The Graveyard Book’.

I have read in a few places that ‘The Graveyard Book’ was heavily influenced by Richard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ or other comparing it to that – often saying ‘The Jungle Book with ghosts and ghouls’. I would say that the idea of a boy growing up with those different from himself is the main comparison. I don’t want to say more about this as I haven’t investigated it further.

Nobody Owens (‘Bod) is brought up by the ghosts of the Graveyard, though he is living, he is protected by them and can see both the world of the dead and the world of the living. This confusing station means he is given a guardian – Silas – a peculiar character who is not dead, yet not wholly alive. Silas is a mysterious character, drifting in and our, but around for pivotal points of ‘Bods life.

‘Bods family are killed by yet another mysterious character – Jack – and as ‘Bod grows older is protection from within the graveyard weakens. Why was his family killed? What does Silas know about the murderous Jack? What danger lurks out in the world of the living that ‘Bod has been protected from? Can Silas help ‘Bod? Or must ‘Bod work things out for himself?

A beautiful macabre novel for children, young adults and adults alike. A book with ghosts and ghouls. Murder. Mystery. Loneliness. Friendship. Adventure and much much more!

Don’t be put of because this is described as a Children’s book! Trust me you will enjoy it. I also think it was a good starting book for me in my introduction to Neil Gaiman. As I have also read his ‘Neverwhere’ which was very peculiar and different indeed! Neil Gaiman is a talented writer and I urge anyone to read his books. Including ‘The Graveyard Books’ as a must!

One thing I would like to see is a book about Silas. About his journey’s, his past. Silas was the most layered character in the book and I think I would like to see more of him – if there is more of him let me know!

Overall 4.75 out of 5