Booksword Discuss Dead Silent - A Poppy Sinclair Mystery by Sharon Jones
It’s episode 3, and the Booksword team are about to discuss a teen mystery! Part crime drama, part romance, how will everyone react to this UK-based detective novel?
By Teri Terry (awesome name!)
Published Jan 2014
Reviewed by Naomi Dinmore
“‘Kyla was Slated: her mind wiped clean by the oppressive Lorder government. When forbidden memories of a violent past begin to surface, so doid doubts: could she trust those she had come to care for, like Ben? Helped by friendsa in MIA, she goes undercover, searching for her past and evading the authorities who want her dead. But the truth Kyla desparately seeks is more shocking than she ever imagined.”
I was attracted to this book in the first place because it is of a dystopian genre, and because I really enjoyed both The Hunger Games and the Divergent trilogies I decided to give it a go. What I did not realise, however, that this was also part of a trilogy and was the final book in it. In my opinion, it didn’t need any previous books because all references to the previous books were explained fully and I didn’t realise these were references until I read the back page advertising them! I would like to read them, however, because I found Shattered very gripping, and although they weren’t unlike THG and Divergent they had an interesting twist: The protagonist, (who has multiple names) is a spy, rather than a vulnerable person about to undergo a massive change in her life. As the reader, I was immediately chucked into one of Kyla/Riley’s missions and I found that much more interesting because there was no ”beating around the bush” as some people might say.
I think this was dystopia with a unique plot: instead of the main focus as overthrowing the corrupt government, Riley is more interested in finding out about her past since her memory was wiped, and kind of joins a rebellion as a tangent to the main plot. She does not lead it, but is a major part of it, because of her ”spy” occupation.
To be honest, the government isn’t extremely corrupt like the other trilogies, and I suppose that just made an exciting setting and reason for her mind being Slated. The main plot is her trying to find her real family and identity which is very annoying because she literally does not find out until the final few pages. It has a happy ending, but not everything is solved - does that make sense? Anyway, it ends with hope (get the pun - eh, readers of Shattered) and Riley has her friends back, a lot of non-biological family, a boyfriend who she did not expect and her real name. The adventure she travels to get there is an emotional rollercoaster as she has to re-live horrible memories of the past and is under constant fear of her close connection with the (almost evil) British government, her previous captors and even the people she thought she could trust.
Shattered is suitable for people in their mid-teens and older. Anybody younger may not relate to the Protagonist more and her violent experiences and emotions.
I definitely think it deserves much more popularity!
Overall, I would give it 5/5
It’s another AudioBooksword for you!
This time we discuss the dystopian opener from Kimberly Derting, ‘The Pledge.’
Striking up a plot with a good reliance on royalty and romance, how does it come across to our teen reviewers? https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/booksword-discuss-pledge-by/id850102909?i=305141143&mt=2
By Nick Lake
Published January 2013
Reviewed by Naomi Dinmore
A luxury yacht in the Indian Ocean.
My dad: A rich banker. Grey hair, charming smile, sharp teeth.
The stepmother: don’t ask.
Me: I’m Amy. I’m sort of nothing-ish, except for the piercings.
And the guns? The Pirates: Farouz? You can’t see them yet. This is before.
This was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. The risk was meant to be tiny. But that means it has to happen to someone, doesn’t it?
This is honestly one of the best books I have read in a while. Sorry, this will contain spoilers because I cannot talk about it without kinda giving it away…
Amy Fields travels with her dad and stepmother on a yacht around the world. She is quite a rebellious, enclosed character, she got kicked out of her final A level exam, has many piercings, goes clubbing and is always listening to dubstep on her iPod. She describes dubstep as: ”disembodied voices… broken, fractured, seeming to come at you like distant singing from the radio of some destroyed spaceship. They’re like the voices of dead people you love”.
One of the reasons she is so enclosed is because her mum committed suicide when Amy was only 10. She does not like Sarah- the stepmother, because she loved her mum. ”Before” as she refers to it, she loved classical music and was a talented violin player- one of the best in the country. She doesn’t play it until later on in the story.
The plot sort of reminded me of Infinite Sky - unexpected and unrequited love between two opposing sides. Basically, the yacht is captured by some modern day pirates, and one of the pirates - the youngest - Farouz is the one Amy gets to know most. I found it very interesting as it gave the reader an insight into the Pirate’s life and childhood. It is also based off a true occurrence in the news about Somali pirates. This is similar to Lake’s other book: ”In Darkness” (which I haven’t read yet but I know is about the Haitian Earthquake) which is also inspired by a true occurrence. Anyway, towards the end of the book, Amy and Farouz get together, and it was one of those moments where I was very scared because the ha got together and there was still too many pages to read…
But, I was very disappointed as I progressed. There was an extremely cliché bit as Amy runs off to Somalia with Farouz and they rescue his brother from prison and they live happily ever after. I hated it - it was way too simple and boring. Apparently my face was of distaste as I read that, according to my mother.
However, when I turned the page, it was blank, except for one islated word: ”No.” the next was: ”No, that is not what happens.” and the next: ”But I imagine it afterwards. I imagine it so many times, until it is a scene in my head, incredibly vivid. A film. That I can watch whenever I like.”
My heart almost leapt with joy at that. Yay! not so cliché! But I almost wished afterwards that is what happened. *SPOILER* Farouz gets killed by the Navy. He was innocent in Amy’s eyes, and my eyes too, as we were given an insight into his struggles and his horrific childhood, his dead parents and his imprisoned brother. This was feel-generating, John Green style.
I absolutely loved the structure, though. At the end, there is an epilogue titled ”three months later”. In this bit, although she misses Farouz greatly, her life is almost back on track. She now refers to her stepmother by her actual name. She also meets up with Farouz’s brother who Is out of prison. She also plans to go to violin college. Then, she recalls one of Farouz’s best stories. It is a heartwarming story about him and his brother.
A part of the form I really liked was how Lake used dashes to indicate speech instead of speech marks. This was original and suited Amy’s character - quite enclosed and shy.
I would recommend it to older teens as there are some older issues and themes in the book eg violence and death, rape, the value of money and swearing.
I would definitely give it a full 5/5.
Here’s a nice surprise for most of you: our Booksword group discussion now comes on audio!
In episode 1, we discuss The Maze Runner by James Dashner.
By A. G. Howard
Published January, 2014
Reviewed by Charlotte Brindley
Unhinged is the sequel to Splintered, and if you read my review on Splintered then you’ll know how much I love this story and the author’s writing style – if not, care to let me elaborate.
Unhinged starts off where Splintered left off; Alyssa has returned from Wonderland and is adjusting to human life with Jeb as her boyfriend and her mom finally at home after being released from the Asylum. Howard continues with her dark themes and madness that she used so eloquently in Splintered to draw you back into Alyssa’s world – the first line immediately yanking you into the situation with Alyssa’s new medium of art stemming from pricking her finger – something that reminded me of Sleeping Beauty.
And Alyssa definitely is a Sleeping Beauty: I enjoyed how she blossoms from a confused and stressed teenager into a dark and powerful netherling queen throughout the novel. In true Howard style, the descriptions of Alyssa’s fashion, artistic skills, thoughts/feelings and actions make her one of my favourite female protagonists of all time.
In Splintered, the reader went on a journey to Wonderland – and even though such trip isn’t made in Unhinged, the madness and chaos of Carroll’s land is everywhere. I thought I’d be disappointed that Alyssa and Jeb didn’t go back to Wonderland to reunite with some of my other favourite characters – Sister One, Ivory Queen, Chessie and Rabid White. However Howard brings Wonderland to our world and that made the situation even… scarier.
Howard definitely explores darker themes in Unhinged, the tulgey trees and the truth behind Alyssa’s parents’ past definitely made the story more gripping. As well as the events, Howard makes the people darker: Jeb who was the one I wanted Alyssa to be with the most seemed to have developed an aspect of darkness himself. He tries to evenly split his attention between his career and Alyssa, and while this is respectable, I believe he made some stupid moves that proved Alyssa’s netherling side had rubbed off on him. On the other hand, Morpheus seemed to show a gentler side – even though he caused even more trouble than he did in Splintered, his vulnerable and caring side was exposed and I felt myself wanting him as much as Jeb. No wonder Alyssa has trouble deciding between the two of them!
I also loved how Morpheus and Jeb represented the two sides of Alyssa – Morpheus represented the dark, powerful and sultry side of Alyssa and Jeb the light, good and innocent side of her. Even though it’s a fantasy story, this element made Alyssa even more relatable because I believe we all have different sides to ourselves.
Overall, I loved Unhinged and I highly recommend it to anyone – teenagers and adults alike (though it’s definitely not for children). If you haven’t read the first one, then I suggest you read Splintered, but be warned that you probably won’t be able to shift the Wonderland bug once it’s bitten you (giggles). The only problem I have with this series is that the final book ENSNARED won’t be out until 2015! Definitely looking forward to last instalment of Wonderland goodness!
Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
Publication Date: August 27th 2013
Reviewed Megan Charvill ( and how long it’s been)
So I’m back on track! Homework and school got in the way but she’s back and has a ton of books to read, expect more reviews in the coming weeks.
Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline’s been at Gram’s bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape—both her family and the reality of Gram’s failing health. So when Caroline’s best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram’s side, or go to the party and live her life.
The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline’s fate into two separate paths—and she’s about to live them both.
Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she’s ever wanted.
Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending…
So, anyone who knows me, will know I am a complete sucker for romantic novels, so this one hit home instantly.
Just Like Fate is a book that parallels two lives, both belonging to the main character Caroline, showing what would happen if she stayed with her Gram when she passed or went to the party her best friend, Simone, begged her to go to. The chapters alternated between the two choices telling the reader her life if she stayed or went.
This book was so believable, the characters are easy to compare to those you know around you and in your own life. The plot was beguiling and left me wanting more. I was absolutely in love with Caroline and Chris’s relationship, although I may or may not have wanted Chris for myself. He was so down to earth, so cute and quirky and so easy to like and fall in love with.
In the end, it left me questioning fate, whether or not it was something to be believed or if it was just a lie.
This book gives a nice message to teenagers: Life is messy, you are going to mess up but in the end, everything will fall into place. It sounds completely cliché, I know!
Overall, I adored this book, it’s one of the best I have read in a while, I would recommend to anybody who enjoys romance and a more realistic plot.
Sales of The Hobbit have rocketed recently with the gripping film adaptations being watched all over the world. But is it really worth all this popularity? Keep scrolling…
J. R.R. Tolkien
First published 1937
Reviewed by Naomi Dinmore
Well the answer to ”does it deserve all this popularity?” Yes. Yes it does - Definitely.
For those of you who do not know, this book is about a hobbit. (Well I never would have guessed that!)
My summary of a Hobbit:
A hobbit is an ”unobtrusive” man, of roughly three feet high, slightly stout with large feet. They like living in the countryside, and most of them can be found in Hobbiton, located in the Northwest of Middle Earth. (There are very useful maps in the whole series which help you visualise it even more.)
As you can see, the detailed descriptions alone are enough to make the book five stars, but there’s a fantastic original plot as well!
”Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit hole in Bag-End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf (who I bet was the inspiration for Dumbledore in Harry Potter) and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive to whisk him away on a journey supposedly going ”there and back again”. They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug (there is an ongiong debate about the pronunciation of his name - whether it’s an ow sound or an or sound!) The Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.” (played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film, which is always a plus).
Although sometimes the language is hard to process, I found it was very rewarding because I persevered. As the reader gets used to the language, the vivid descriptions draw the reader in; and the frequent use of imagery (oh dear, it’s starting to sound like an English essay) compliments the wide range of vocabulary to make it seem like their own film is playing in their head.
Yeah, who needs the film?! (Well actually, the film is good because it heavily popularised this classic! Oh, and we mustn’t forget how brilliant Martin Freeman is! ;D)
Overall, YES! It certainly deserves this popularity, so I shall give it a 5/5