Battle Ground: Publication Day!

Battle Ground, Book 1 of the Battle Ground series, is now available on Amazon!

From now until Sunday 28th, the Kindle edition will be FREE to download.

Photo of Battle Ground Paperback



We’re at the Young Adult Literary Convention to launch the book, so if you’re coming to YALC this year make sure you come and say hi!

Battle Ground is going on a blog tour, starting today! Check out these book blogs for reviews and write-ups.

The next week is going to be insanely busy, so if you leave a comment, please be patient! We will be checking the blog, and we will moderate comments as quickly as we can. Thank you for your understanding!

Battle Ground: One More Day …

We’re so excited! Battle Ground will be live to buy on Amazon tomorrow – and the Kindle edition will be FREE until Sunday 28th July! Check back here tomorrow for the Amazon link, and download your FREE copy of Book One.

We’ll also be posting links to our blog tour. Check out the reviews and find out what book bloggers think of Battle Ground!

Battle Ground Countdown: Three Days!

Battle Ground, Book 1 of the Battle Ground series, will be launching on Amazon in 3 days!

From July 25th, Kindle and paperback editions will be available to buy direct from Amazon – and from July 25th-28th, the Kindle edition will be FREE to download.

Don’t forget – if you’re coming to the Young Adult Literary Convention next weekend make sure you come to the Taller Books stand and say hi!

We’ve set up a blog tour for Battle Ground, starting on July 25th. We’ll post all the links here, so check back to see what all these bloggers think of the book!

The next week will be insanely busy, so if you leave a comment, please be patient! We will be checking the blog, and we will moderate comments as quickly as we can. Thank you for your understanding!

Battle Ground: Countdown to Publication

We are very excited to announce that Battle Ground, Book 1 of the Battle Ground series, will be launching on Amazon in 7 days!

From July 25th, Kindle and paperback editions will be available to buy direct from Amazon – and from July 25th-28th, the Kindle edition will be FREE to download.

We will be at the Young Adult Literary Convention to launch the book, so if you’re coming to YALC this year make sure you come and say hi!

Battle Ground will be going on a blog tour from July 25th, so check out these book blogs for reviews and write-ups.

The next two weeks are going to be insanely busy, so if you leave a comment, please be patient! We will be checking the blog, and we will moderate comments as quickly as we can. Thank you for your understanding!

YA Review: Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2)

Title: Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 5/5

The sequel to Rebel of the Sands begins with a recap of the first book, told as a campfire legend. It’s an engaging way to begin, but when the story moved past the end of the first book, and summarised what happened next, I was frustrated. I wanted to experience the events through Amani’s first-person narration.

And they are big, life-and-death events, skipped over in a few paragraphs. But when Amani’s narration begins, we are thrown painfully back into the action, and I was hooked all over again.

Amani’s strengths – her knowledge of the desert, her bravery, her skills with a gun – make her a valued member of the rebel group fighting to overthrow the Sultan. She is at home in the desert, and she knows its power. When she is kidnapped and imprisoned in the Sultan’s harem, she finds herself far from the sand, unarmed, and in need of new ways to survive. Royal politics, possessive princes, and jealous wives all threaten her safety, but the Sultan’s interest in her could be far more dangerous.

The pace slows while Amani finds her way around the politics and threats of the harem, and finds herself in the middle of negotiations that could provoke or avoid a war. There’s a constant background of danger – from the princes, the wives, and the Sultan – but the action picks up again as the twists and intrigues of the story come together in the final chapters.

I still love Amani, and it was interesting to see her learning to survive outside her comfort zone. There’s plenty of character development here, for Amani, and for the people around her. There are some shocking plot twists, but no neat ending. I can’t wait to see what happens in Book 3!

Have you read Traitor to the Throne? What did you think of the story? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


Please keep your comments YA appropriate. Be patient! We want to hear from you, but comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.

YA Review: Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1)

Title: Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 5/5

Deserts! People making a living on the edge of the habitable world! Magic! Escape! Princes! Politics! Rebellion! This book has everything I want in an adventure story, and a strong, brave female protagonist to take me through the action.

And there’s plenty of action. From the opening sequence, where the narrator is disguised as a boy and competing for prize money that would let her escape from her home, to wild horses, trains, and daring rescues. From the opening paragraph, Rebel of the Sands grabbed me and kept me reading.

Amani is an orphan, cared for in her Uncle’s strict patriarchal household in a dead-end desert town. She plans to escape to the city and track down her mother’s family, but when a foreigner arrives in town she has to choose in an instant whether to stay with her friends, or run. As she travels through the desert, she begins to see the larger forces at work in her society. There’s a royal dispute, an occupying army, and a hidden rebellion, and when Amani finds herself hunted by the Sultan’s men, she begins to question everything she knows about her family.

The action-packed ending wraps up part of the story, but promises more excitement in the sequel. I loved Amani – she’s tough, determined, and clever, and her knowledge of the desert and skills with a gun save her companions on more than one occasion. There are plenty of twists and revelations that I didn’t see coming, but which make perfect sense looking back. The book doesn’t pull its punches – people die, women are treated as property, and magical creatures are enslaved by the people of the desert. The danger feels real, and the stakes are high for Amani and her fellow travellers. I can’t wait to find out what happens in Book 2!

Have you read Rebel of the Sands? What did you think of the setting? And what about Amani? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


Please keep your comments YA appropriate. Be patient! We want to hear from you, but comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.

YA Review: Tomorrow When the War Began (Tomorrow #1)

Title: Tomorrow When the War Began (Tomorrow #1)
Author: John Marsden
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 5/5

I loved this book. I’ve seen the film, and I know how close the themes are to my own writing, so I was interested to read it and see how it compared to the big screen version.

And it’s better. Of course it’s better. There’s a strong female Point of View character who narrates the story (first person, mostly past tense), adding a personal element to the events. There’s much more detail about the setting and the plot, and the reader has time to get to know the characters, and to care about what happens to them. The plot was simplified for the film, so there’s a lot more action in the book, a lot more detail, and lot more danger for the characters.

The setup is simple. Seven Australian seventeen-year-olds head into the mountains for a wild camping trip at the end of the summer holidays. Their destination is a remote valley, hidden from the outside world. The group is a mix of farm kids and small-town residents who know each other from school, and they have plenty of experience of camping and surviving in the wild. On the night of the Commemoration Day fair, the narrator wakes up to see waves of fighter aircraft flying overhead. In the morning, the friends dismiss her concerns, claiming that they must have been taking part in the Commemoration Day festivities. When they return to town, the teenagers find empty houses, dead livestock, and the power and phone lines cut off.

The book follows the group as they make their way through their town, avoiding enemy soldiers, and confirming that the country has been invaded. Their families are being held at the Showground, and on their return to safety in the mountains, the teenagers have to decide what they are willing to do to fight back.

It’s a clever story – simple, but effective. The friends have to grow up fast, and learn to keep each other safe. They have to decide what they are willing to risk, and what they are willing to sacrifice, to make a difference. They learn the hard way the limits of their capabilities, and they learn to trust and support each other. The book works as a standalone story, but it is also the setup for a seven-book series. I’ve picked up the next two books from the library, and I’m interested to see how the story develops.

Very highly recommended.

Have you read the Tomorrow series? What did you think of the setup? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


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YA Review: Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking #3)

Title: Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking #3)
Author: Patrick Ness
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 5/5

I was planning to take a break before reading Book 3 of the Chaos Walking trilogy, but I found I couldn’t stop. The cliffhanger at the end of Book 2 was too much of a hook, so I jumped straight into Monsters of Men, and I’m very glad I did.

This book is wonderful. A step up, again, from The Ask and the Answer, it explores power and conflict from three different points of view. With themes of occupation, identity, and communication, it follows the characters from the first two books as the war they have been waiting for arrives.

Patrick Ness examines different types of power, and how wielding power in different ways affects the people who lead. There are vivid battle scenes, betrayal, sabotage, sacrifice, and determination, as the Point of View characters try to push events in a direction that suits them, and in a direction they can live with. The plot twists and turns, and the stakes creep higher, until events that seemed impossible in the previous books become inevitable, dangerous, and real.

I loved the central characters, and I loved the relationship between them. I really started to care about Todd and Viola, and the world convulsing around them. I cared about what they wanted, and about the events that trapped them both. I loved the complexity of the situation – not just two factions fighting to rule the colony, but three entirely different visions of the future, pitched against each other in steadily more destructive ways. I cared about the characters as they tried to negotiate and influence their factions to provoke or prevent the war, and the helplessness as each individual was swept along in the power games of the leaders.

This is a clever and affecting examination of power and corruption – of what makes a leader lead, and what makes people follow, even if the cost is betrayal and suicide. It is also a thought experiment in what it would take for everyone to live together and respect each other’s points of view. “Why can’t we learn to live with how we are?” One of the characters asks, “And whatever anyone chooses is okay by the rest of us?” This book tries to address that question. I don’t think it offers neat answers, but it puts forward ideas in a way that made me care. If everyone who reads it asks themselves the same question, then we’re half way to an answer – and isn’t that what fiction is for?

Have you read Monsters of Men? What did you think of the plot twists? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


Please keep your comments YA appropriate. Be patient! We want to hear from you, but comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.

YA Review: The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking #2)

Title: The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking #2)
Author: Patrick Ness
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 4/5

I picked up the sequel to The Knife of Never Letting Go because I was curious about the story, not because I was hooked. I was expecting more of the same, but this book was much better. I found that I connected more deeply with the characters, and with the scenario, than I had in Book 1. This is partly thanks to the alternating Point of View chapters, allowing the action to be seen through the eyes of both leading characters, and partly because the setting, and the action, is more interesting.

This is a book about power: how to win it, and how to hold onto it. There’s a ruthless dictator, manipulating people to stay in control, and a guerilla force using bombs and stealth to undermine his position. Todd and Viola, the girl he meets in Book 1, are both drawn into the conflict, and end up working on opposite sides. The tension built up between their individual chapters allows the reader to see what none of the characters can see – something approaching the full story, from both points of view.

There is cruelty and torture, but there is also friendship and kindness and sacrifice. As the hostility between the two factions builds, it is not clear where the plot is heading. The final chapters are an edge-of-the-seat read, and the conclusion is very clever, bringing together all the threads of the story so far into a satisfying cliffhanger.

The big ideas from the first book – the Noise of the men’s thoughts, the death of the women, the alien enemy, the talking animals, and the isolation of life on New World – are developed in The Ask and the Answer, enhancing the reader’s understanding of the setting and deepening the connection with the characters.

This is a more compelling, more complex story than the road-trip plot of The Knife of Never Letting Go, and as more of the secrets and lies are uncovered, the characters and the readers are left with more questions than answers. The main characters are deeply involved in their opposing sides in the conflict, and any moral outrage has to be pushed aside with the realisation that everyone is taking part in the fighting. Where The Knife of Never Letting Go was a black-and-white story, The Ask and the Answer sees the world in shades of grey.

Bring on Book 3, and hopefully some answers!

Have you read The Ask and the Answer? What did you think of the story? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


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YA Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1)

Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1)
Author: Patrick Ness
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 3/5

I like Patrick Ness. I enjoyed And the Ocean was our Sky for its ideas and gorgeous imagery, and I loved A Monster Calls for its effective exploration of real-world grief through the framework of a fairy tale. And as I’m writing YA dystopia, I thought I should take a look at his Chaos Walking trilogy. I picked up Book 1, The Knife of Never Letting Go, with high expectations, but they weren’t entirely met.

The story is built on big ideas, expressed and explained at the level of the characters. The reader is thrown into the setting and the scenario in the first sentence, and the first-person narration makes it easy to understand and accept the ideas, and move on with the story. It’s hard to grab your readers and immerse them in your fiction so quickly, and Patrick Ness is almost too successful, sacrificing a sense of wonder in order to make the big ideas feel mundane and ordinary.

On a colony planet, Todd is the last boy in a town of men, with thirty days left until his coming of age. The women died during a war with the indigenous population, and Prentisstown is the last settlement on New World. For the men, the war brought the Noise – an infection that broadcasts their thoughts, so everyone in town can hear what their neighbours are thinking. Todd knows there will be a ceremony to mark his birthday, but even his foster parents have been masking all references to the plans in their thoughts, so he doesn’t know what to expect. When we first meet Todd, he’s walking out of the settlement with his talking dog, relieved to be spending time away from the Noise.

That’s a lot of big ideas, all introduced through Todd’s narration, and all of it feels completely normal by the end of the first chapter. It’s an amazing achievement, to make the reader believe all these impossible things within 16 pages, but it comes at a cost. I wanted to feel a sense of wonder at the Noise, and at Todd’s relationship with a dog who could talk and share his thoughts. I wanted to feel a sense of displacement on an alien world, or some sense from the narrator that there might be more to life than farming and running errands for his family.

But that’s not the point. The point is to put you in Todd’s shoes, so that what happens next is more shocking and surprising. When Todd and his dog are forced to run from Prentisstown, he begins to understand his place in a wider world, and to unravel the truth about his home from the lies he’s been told.

It’s a good story, with a cliffhanger at the end that made me pick up Book 2, even though I didn’t feel completely invested in the characters and the dangers they face. I sympathised with Todd, and I cared about what happened to him, but I didn’t connect with him as deeply as I wanted to. Many of the descriptions of locations and landscapes feel gorgeously cinematic, but at the same time the emotions and reactions of the characters feel frustratingly pared back and tightly controlled.

I’m interested to see where the trilogy takes the story, and to discover the truth behind the lies and half-truths Todd has been told. I like the world that Patrick Ness has created, and I like the big ideas he’s managed to slip so convincingly into the narrative. I just wish I could feel more wonder, more empathy, more fear, and more anger, as I share Todd’s experiences on his journey.

Have you read The Knife of Never Letting Go? Did you fall in love with Todd and his world, or did you feel disconnected? Were you ready to pick up Book 2 at the end? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.


Please keep your comments YA appropriate. Be patient! We want to hear from you, but comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.