Sampler Round Up #2

We begin this week with a double winner.

unbecomingUnbecoming by Jenny Downham (Out now from David Fickling Books)

I’m a fan of Jenny Downham, having enjoyed Before I Die and Me Against You, so I came to this prepared to enjoy. Downham does family disfunction so well, and in a few scant pages, I already have a great sense of the issues the character Katie is facing, the complications that might arise from them, and I have sympathy for Katie as a character as well. I would love to see where this story goes, and because it’s Jenny Downham, I know it will probably break my heart somewhere along the way. Tissues at the ready if I ever get my hands on a copy of this! 4/5

eden summerEden Summer by Liz Flanagan (Out now from David Fickling Books)

This one’s a debut, so no previous history with the author influencing my interest. It was all down to the tense and gripping first few pages from the sampler. Again, the main character Jess is quickly established, and hints are dropped about a past she’d rather forget. But what really hooks the reader is the knowledge that soon follows that Jess’s best friend Eden has gone missing. Tension is raised all throughout the very small 15 page extract, and I’m sure had I been reading the full thing, I wouldn’t have been able to put it down – probably not until the book was finished if the quality of the writing and story-telling kept on in the fashion it started in. 5/5

Black Light Express
Black Light Express by Philip Reeve (Out October 2016 from Oxford University Press)

This one left me a little disoriented as it’s a sampler for book 2 in the Rail Head series, and I haven’t read the first one. It’s clearly a rich and layered world, hugely imaginative and detailed – because I was lost from the get go, pretty much. But, it does sound really interesting, and I like some of the ideas explored – the freezer prisons, trains that take you around the universe and giant worm creatures that lay train tracks. It all sounded like such good fun – adventurous and thrilling. I would definitely pick up Rail Head if I saw it in the library. 3.5/5

all fall downAll Fall Down by Ally Carter (Out Now from Orchard)

I’ve been meaning to read some Ally Carter for a while and this sampler has reinforced that desire. Sassy, imperfect heroine Grace is likeable instantly, even though she has a long way to go in terms of growth and character development before she’s actually a well rounded person – but that’s good, because this is the first book in a series and the character needs somewhere to go. And what an interesting setting – a series of embassies all together, creating a little melting pot of international cultures, affairs and tensions. It’s not something I’ve seen before in a YA novel, and that makes me all the more excited about it. 4/5

this raging lightThis Raging Light by Estelle Laure (Out now from Orchard)

And we’ll end on another winner, because I just loved this sampler. I really, really want to read this. It reminds me in some ways of Everything Everything and I’ll Give You the Sun, with it’s light, poetic narration and exploration of serious issues with equal measures of humour and heartbreak. And that from fifteen pages or so. It’s a story about a girl who’s father has left, followed by her mother going on ‘vacation’ and not coming back, leaving her trying to hold everything together. And you just know that everything is going to fall apart. I will be hunting this one down at some point, because I have to know what happens next. 5/5

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