IAM Review…Medusa by Tony Talbot

Guest Feature

To finish our Indie Author Month for 2014, I thought I would surprise my fellow author/blogger Tony with my review of his latest book Medusa. I hope you’ve enjoyed the event this year, it’s been a little quieter on features, due to my technical problems, however, I hope you’ve liked the features from the authors you’ve met and perhaps found a new writer to try…

Mel x

Medusa-ResizeMy Review

Well, I finally got the time to knuckle down to some reading for fun last week and it has started really well: I just finished Tony Talbot’s great new book Medusa. This is the second book of Tony’s I’ve read and I was not disappointed.

We meet Lissa Two – captain of a strange ship with some interesting technical skills – in an apparently post-apocalyptic world of water. Giant ‘seasteads’ form the main areas of civilisation and Lissa uses her ship – Connie – and the particular powers she has, to salvage items for sale in the underground souks in her own seastead home. A random meeting with a man thrown from a strange flying machine; the mysterious disappearance of an apparently strong seastead and Lissa’s own questions about Connie provide the ingredients for a fast-paced, cocktail of adventure.

I really like Tony’s writing style, he has a real way with words (helpful if you’re a writer, I know!) But what I mean, what really stands out in this book for me, was his ability to create a world you felt completely transported to: there is beautiful description throughout the book, whilst he walks his characters through the fast-paced plot, leaving you the feeling that you could reach out and touch the world Lissa inhabits. Now and again, I would find myself noticing something, not because it jarred, but because it just flowed so naturally. Unfortunately, some of the best examples I highlighted would need spoilers to explain – so I’d say you have to check it out to know what I mean.

Medusa is one of those books you get sucked into quickly and struggle to find a place to pause, when reading – you just want to know ‘what next’ the whole time. Especially once Lissa’s questions start taking her down interesting paths, it gets even harder to stop: I read the second half of the book in one day. And it was worth it! 🙂

Overall, I’m going 4.5* for Medusa, I thought the characters, pace and writing in the book was even better than Eight Mile Island, the main reason it gets the same rating is because I loved the way EMI sucker punched me in it’s concluding chapters. I didn’t get quite the same left-field shock as I did with that one, but overall, I would say I enjoyed Medusa more and if you’re thinking of trying one of Tony’s books, this is the one I’d recommend.

Recommended for: fans of dystopian YA / post-apocalyptic world settings; I think people who liked the relationships in Angelfall would enjoy this, as well as Hunger Games / Blood Red Road fans looking for something with a feisty female protagonist in an unusual setting.



Just Finished…Jake by Michael Cargill


It’s a 4.5* for me.

Michael Cargill ‘gets’ people – now I’m not sure whether he gets everyone, or that he writes about people whose brains work very like mine, but with each book of his I’ve read (Jake being the third), regardless of the plot or setting, it is the characters and their realistic behaviour that stands out for me. Jake is the same, and perhaps the most realistic and relatable of all Cargill’s characters I’ve met so far.

For much of the book you follow Jake through his daily teenage life: daft ‘boy’ antics, school and home life, rolling along. Within the first few pages I was transported straight back to high school – from the noises and sounds, to the familiar mad behaviour of the lads in class (although, seeing it from Jake’s point of view it makes a lot more sense now!) As YA books go, it was very ‘real’ – with no random appearances by vampires, angels or other common supernatural types – and I found myself quite happy reading about the intricacies of Jake’s life.

His first romance is really cute – to the point some scenes had me smiling to myself at the clumsy sweetness, and I loved the development of Jake’s relationship with his little brother, and the way he began to see his mother differently through observing her parenting the new addition to the family.

Overall, Jake is a really well-observed book, Cargill writes great characters and works with the smallest of details to give realism to his writing – as I’m not in to giving away spoilers there is little more I can say about the book without ruining it, but definitely worth a read if you like normal books about normal people.

Just Finished…In Your Dreams by Amy Martin

This book is great: from the well-rounded characters, to the interesting twist-filled, but believable plot I went for this hook, line and sinker.

Told from Zip’s (Zara ‘Zip’ McKee) point of view – a heroine with a nice combination of self-depreciation, sporting ability, brains and maturity (that doesn’t seem like a 30-year-old in a 17-year-old!) – the story unfolds in traditional YA territory of high school. But the gorgeous new guy, with pale skin thankfully doesn’t turn out to be a vampire (or anything else otherworldly), but someone who suffers with narcolepsy.

The treatment of Kieran’s condition was very interesting – I’d never really thought about how people with narcolepsy deal with various situations and seeing Zip having to work these out as their relationship develops gave an added layer of interest for me and also showed a good deal of Zip’s character and outlook on life. It was nice to read about realistic characters dealing with real world issues, that can be just as problematic as dealing with being a YA in the first place! Hormones and high school are tough enough without passing out on a regular basis :)

All the key characters: Kayla, the parents, Kieran, Zip’s team mates… are all well-drawn and as you work through some of the twists and turns I think hold up well with their behaviour and motivation. I loved the dialogue and scene-setting in this book: Zip and Kieran bounce off one another so well that you could be watching them bantering away; and Zip is similar with her mother and Kayla over time. I had a few ‘awwww’ moments in their relationship – they are very cute and believable, without being cheesy. I also found that I really wanted to know what happened next – I read the book in a couple of days which is quick for me – all credit to the author, whose style of writing is engaging, fun and balances plot/drama with regular characters extremely well.

Overall: 4.5* A great debut and I was very pleased to see that this was ‘The End of Book One’ as I reached the last page – I would certainly look out for anything Amy Martin writes in the future and definitely want to hear more from the lovely Zip!

PS – Thanks to author Amy Martin for providing me a copy of this to read / review – love it from the minute I started reading it in the hairdressers! :)

Just Finished…Death by Jade Varden

So The Tower, Book 2 in Jade Varden’s Deck of Lies series left us with a real cliff-hanger, so what did the third book Death deliver?

Death is a great third addition to this series of books, after the flood of revelations and lies that came out in The Tower, which got to the point of being near overwhelming, Death has a more mellow pace – it’s like that period of disquiet (I certainly can’t call it calm) that comes after a storm…or perhaps that odd come down you feel after a major adrenaline rush and reality begins to sink in. Rain/Chloe/? our protagonist is still in the thick of it, with lies, odd family connections and dirty deeds seeping out of every brick in the fancy mansion she lives in…

Rain continues her quest for the truth – but what truth that is continues to change: her hunt for her identity led to a murder, her hunt for a murderer led her to more of her own secrets… Death delivers a good dose of reflection on the previous rollercoaster of events from Books 1 and 2, whilst continuing to throw up more surprises. I really liked the development of Rain’s character in this book – her experiences are certainly changing how she operates in the vicious world she’s found herself in. The re-appearance of one of my favourite characters was also nicely dealt with – definitely some good potential there for the last book in the series Judgement.

Deck of Lies is a fantastic YA mystery series, with plenty of twists and fans of soaps like Dallas, Days of Our Lives and Sunset Beach, will love the mad hookups and random family relationship relevations. Jade’s writing is style is vivid and concise, helping you to completely immerse yourself in her stories.

Overall Verdict: 4.5* If you’re not already into this series and enjoy a good contemporary YA read, then you’re missing out! I can’t wait for Judgement

Emily Read…Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

 Emily is our Goodreads pal and all-round lovely lady! 🙂 And, as you’ll know from our side-bar, her blog Confessions of a Bookaholic is one of our favourites. Throughout August and September, we will be featuring some of her book reviews on Aside from Writing so you can get to know her too!



Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Noughts and Crosses is quite a complicated and intriguing novel about a divided society. There is the Noughts and the Crosses. Sephy is a Cross, a member of the dark-skinned higher class. They can have what ever they want. Callum is a Nought, a member of the ‘colourless’ lower class. They have no rights.

Noughts and Crosses is a tragic story about love, loss and justice. Callum and Sephy have been best friends since they were children but what happens when that friendship turns to love? Noughts and Crosses explores the relationship between a Romeo and Juliet style couple in a world when love is unimportant. If you need more details here is the synopsis:

“Sephy is a Cross – a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a nought – a ‘colourless’ member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood. But that’s as far as it can go. Until the first steps are taken towards more social equality and a limited number of Noughts are allowed into Cross schools…Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity by Noughts, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum – a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger…”

I thought that Noughts and Crosses was a highly fascinating and realistic read. It highlighted some issues that still happen around our world today. It explores racism and prejudice in depth and really shows us what our world could be like today if we let it be. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes an intense read and stories about forbidden love. I would rate this book 4.5/5 stars. I hope you enjoyed my review.

Favourite Quote:
“‘Just remember, Callum when you’re floating up and up in your bubble, that bubbles have a habit of bursting. The higher you climb, the further you have to fall’”


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My blog: http://emily-confessionsofabookaholic.blogspot.com/