Tag Archives: books

Cannonball rima.

Warning: sort of spoilers to be had if you haven’t read The Declaration.

I had the sequel to Gemma Malley’s The Declaration on standby and was intrigued enough by that first book to carry on with the second soon after I’d put it down. The Resistance switches its focus to Peter, Anna’s Surplus friend (now boyfriend) from The Declaration. They’ve set up house together with Anna’s baby brother Ben and are slowly trying to work with the Underground to get to the heart of Pincent Pharma, the company responsible for Longevity.

The events of the last book are recapped succintly, and it’s on with the action fairly quickly as Peter finds himself working at Pincent Pharma, under his grandfather, Richard. Richard has plans for Peter and Anna; as Peter attempts covert operations at the company, Richard is busy working in details to snare our heroes. There’s also some focus placed on Jude, Peter’s half brother, and Sheila, Anna’s acquaintance from Grange Hall. At first this appeared to detract from the story, but as it progresses and Malley begins to pull her knots tighter, having these different perspectives becomes a strength.

In saying that, it takes awhile to learn what happened to Mrs. Pincent, something I thought would be quite major – however, the information is given in a couple of throwaway lines. An interesting choice, but perhaps the right one, given that what happens near the end of the book is a clustertruck of awful. I don’t mean awful as in unreadable, but awful as in ‘ohmygoodnessohmygoodnessthat’sHORRIFYING’. The Resistance’s big bang shock is a good one, and I admit I gasped when I read it. It seems dark for a book like this, which reads like it’s geared to the younger set; but really, The Resistance is altogether more grown up than The Declaration. The characters have been through a lot and, if the ending is anything to go by, have a lot more left to do. The dialogue is much less stilted here; the characters more fully fleshed out, and despite some implausibility regarding an escape, it’s fun to switch off and see what happens. I think I’ll be picking up the next book (The Legacy) but it’s not a rush-out-and-read-er.

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Cannonball wha.

Everyone knows death is inevitable. The Declaration explores what would happen if it suddenly was off the table – if, with the simple use of a pill, we could in fact live forever. But it wants to go deeper than that – what does an eternal existence cost?

The world Malley presents in The Declaration is set in 2140, yet in all honesty it does not seem much different from our own time, but with one crucial difference: the use of Longevity, a drug designed to make the user stop aging. However, in exchange for the privilege of using Longevity, one must sign a declaration promising never to have children. This is in order to preserve the world’s dwindling resources. With so many adults – or Legals – choosing Longevity, the strain on resources is enormous, and there are massive penalties for having a child after signing the Declaration. Such children are called ‘Surpluses’, and it’s through a Surplus teenager named Anna that we discover more about this strange and rather bleak future.

The Declaration is definitely in the ‘young’ camp of young adult, or at least for those with a high tolerance for some shoddy prose and basic dialogue. That’s not to say that it’s not enjoyable – though Anna herself is a bit of a blank, her male counterpart Peter is more interesting, and the villains are suitably malevolent. The story checks all the requisite YA boxes and more often than not does so very well. Again, the writing is not the best, yet something keeps you reading until you finish; I’d put this down to the author’s understanding of a good winding mystery. The twists towards the end were surprising and solid enough so that I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time on an inferior book.

As with every second YA book out there, The Declaration is the first in a series (a trilogy, I believe), and Malley is clearly setting up a card house to play with in the coming books. It’s an easy read that won’t tax anyone (the preteen set included), so I’d recommend it if you’re after something interesting and quick!

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Genesis and Cannonball #4-5.

Can’t read the start of Genesis without getting this stuck in my head.

Thanks, Ned Flanders. Hey, have a good day with that cycling through your brain, too!
To Cannonball news – recently I finished CBR4 book 4, ‘The Declaration’, by Gemma Malley…review will be up soon. I’m working afternoons this week, so I’m trying to cram as much stuff in before 12.30 as possible. I just started the second book in the series, ‘The Resistance’; these are fairly quick, easy reads so I feel as though I’ll need to push myself for my next CBR4 pick (unless I just review the whole bible?)

And, eep, starting the popular couch to 5k programme in about ten minutes. Got the podcast. Got some shoes. Got no motivation. But we’ll see how we go.

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Really, though?

Of all the books Penguin sent me over the past six months, this one was probably the weirdest. But my husband said he will proudly display this on his bookshelf, which is grand, because I don’t really want it on mine. (butsecretlyIenjoyedit)




Oliver Bowden

Publishing date:  February 23rd, 2010
496 pgs


It appears to be a rule that movies based on video games will always suck. The list of failed adaptations is long, so I wasn’t sure Oliver Bowden’s novel, based on Ubisoft’s ‘Assassin’s Creed’ game series, would be able to break the cycle. However, from the beginning of the story, set in 15th century Italy, Bowden whizzes through the Renaissance – always interesting, but especially here, where a band of assassins have gathered together throughout the ages to take down an ancient evil.

We follow Ezio Auditore; at the start, a seventeen-year-old man leading a carefree life – spending time with his girlfriend, Cristina, and indulging in the occasional street brawl against a rival family, the Pazzis. The novel opens at the beginning of one street fight, allowing the reader time to get acquainted with pivotal characters; Ezio chief among them, but also his older brother, Federico, and Ezio’s main enemy, Vieri Pazzi. From here, a simple request from Ezio’s father Giovanni changes the path of his simple life forever – leading to a need for vengeance following an unthinkable loss, and for Ezio, his task to fulfil the Assassin’s Creed.

Bowden has written a surprisingly relatable character in Ezio. Through his eyes we see the Renaissance period, the descriptions vivid. Helping to set the scene are the ‘guest appearances’ made by Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli. In particular da Vinci is important to the overall plot, helping Ezio to decipher key items in his journey. It is this journey that is at the heart of ‘Assassin’s Creed’; that sees Ezio realise that he is part of something much, much bigger than his own quest – leading to a huge chase across Europe and an incredible confrontation with an unexpected historical figure.

A fast paced story combined with real historical elements make for a great read; if you’re a fan of the games, you’ll love it, if you’re not, but are after a thrilling read, you’ll find it in ‘Assassin’s Creed: Renaissance’.

Oh, something else to note: there’s a few Italian words sprinkled throughout the book, and a handy dictionary is included at the end – with a whole lot of fun Italian insults you can use in daily life.

In other news, I was trying to read ‘The Fry Chronicles’ but gave up. I love Stephen Fry to bits, but good grief. What a monumental chore. I started a Diane Chamberlain book instead – the cover says she’s the ‘Southern Jodi Picoult’, so we’ll see how that goes…

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So I just signed up for the fourth annual Cannonball read. The full one, natch – 52 books in a year doesn’t seem like that much.

Can you tell I’m completely new to this?

In honour of and in countdown to the start of CBR4, I thought I’d post some of my old reviews. Full disclosure, these books were sent to me this year by Penguin, to review for the young adult section of their website. They weren’t necessarily what I would choose to read, but some of them turned out to be pretty good. Onward!



Ruta Sepetys 

Publishing date: March 22, 2011
344 pgs


At the beginning of Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray, Lina is fifteen, living in Lithuania with her parents and younger brother. By its end, she is changed forever – having not only aged, but endured some of the worst treatment a human can bear. Lina and her family are arrested by the Soviet secret police (the NKVD) in 1941, as Joseph Stalin is extending his reach over Eastern Europe. Over a period of many years, the story follows her desperate attempt to survive a journey that takes her from her home, to exile in faraway Siberia.

I am not usually one for reading historical fiction as I find it a little bit hard to get stuck into. But this book is different. We see the entire story through the eyes of Lina, whose narrative voice is strong enough to pull you in and keep your full attention at all times. When she describes the fear, the confusion, of being placed in a tiny train carriage with 40 other scared people, you begin to feel crammed in too. As Lina’s journey progresses, more and more of her background – and the reason for her family’s arrest – become clearer. We discover everything with her. Every betrayal, every twist, is deftly described by Sepetys.

It’s not all horrible, though. The story could quickly become too dark to handle, if not for Sepetys’ knack for finding the bright spots in the dimmest times. A major source of this are the relationships between Lina and her family, and Lina and a boy named Andrius. There’s unexpected humour, and real joy when good things happen for these people. Even when some of the worst things occur, Lina’s strength and ability to hold onto hope fill the pages. Andrius tells her not to give the enemy ‘anything, not even your fear’, and she does an admirable job.

Between Shades of Gray is an inspiring (not a word I use lightly or liberally) story to read. It involves a period of history you may not have considered before, a story that needs to be told. Sepetys has crafted an almost unbearably sorrowful tale, yet manages to make tiny pieces of hope visible to both Lina and the reader.

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