Bookshelf Older Reads

The Phobos Novels...

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Six girls, six boys.

Each in the two separate bays of a single spaceship. They have six minutes each week to seduce and to make their choices, under the unblinking eye of the on-board cameras. They are the contenders in the Genesis programme, the world's craziest speed-dating show ever, aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars.

Leonor, an 18 year old orphan, is one of the chosen ones. She has signed up for glory. She has signed up for love. She has signed up for a one-way ticket. Even if the dream turns to a nightmare, it is too late for regrets.

Nothing is as it seems on this most ambitious of reality television programmes and each contestant is hiding a secret. For Leonor, it is the scarring from a fire which nearly killed her as a child and which she is desperate to hide from the others. But there are far worse secrets being kept by those in charge of the Genesis Programme who will do anything to protect themselves…

Victor Dixen has sculpted an incredibly well researched, plausible world for his novels. Each idea is carefully laid out and explained, often using diagrams and illustrations to support concepts. As someone who has no idea about the science behind any of these things, it reads convincingly, adding to the reality of the world Dixen has created. For those in the know, there might be more questions or dispute, but to me it reads like a great story! Having heard Victor speak at the South Ken Kids Fest this year, his interest in and knowledge about these things was evident!

The novel is well composed and the chapters are labelled ‘Shot’, ‘Out of Shot’ and ‘Reverse Shot’ depending on the viewpoint of the action. The characters are well developed and intriguing and this range of perspectives allows interesting comparisons and contrasts about motivation and reaction.

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‘Ascension’ is a compelling novel, full of unexpected twists and turns and the sequel, ‘Distortion’, continues in the same vein. Dixen’s writing lulls the reader into a false sense of knowing what to expect before turning everything on its head and leaving you stunned. The third book, ‘Collision’ is out early next year and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

Mixing love story, science fiction, treachery, deception and adventure, the ‘Phobos’ novels are perfect for older readers.

Ascension Victor Dixen

Hot Key Books ISBN: 978-1471406843

Distortion Victor Dixen

Hot Key Books ISBN: 978-1471407062

Collision Victor Dixen

Hot Key Books ISBN: 978-1471407239 (Out April 18th 2019 according to Amazon)

The Ravenmaster's Boy

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Rescued from a plague cart, Kit is adopted by the Ravenmaster of the Tower of London. There he grows up, helping look after the ravens and learning that he can communicate with them. His life changes when King Henry and his new bride, Anne, arrive at the Tower with a new raven. Kit is enchanted by the young queen and when she is accused of adultery and committed to the Tower to await trail, he becomes her ‘Raven Knight’, committed to helping her in any was he can. With the help of the Tower ravens, Kit manages to foil a plot to harm the Princess Elizabeth.

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Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, died…

Familiar figures from history are vividly brought to life by Mary Hoffman in this wonderful novel. Anne Boleyn’s fall from grace is the focus of the story, encouraging the reader to empathise, through Kit’s devoted eyes, with the maligned second wife of the Tudor despot, Henry VIII.

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Mary Hoffman skilfully uses the Tower as a backdrop to the story which is full of rich historical detail. Each character is well drawn- including the ravens. Having been plucked from the plague cart, from beneath the dead bodies of his parents, rescued by the Ravenmaster, Kit’s magical ability to communicate with these fabulous birds gives a fantasy twist to a tale set in a time when blood flowed freely and the whims of a king could cost innocent people their lives.

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It is a beautiful piece of writing, perfect for history lovers, but also those who enjoy a cracking story with plenty of intrigue, mystery and action. Perhaps best for older readers due to some of the content, but an interesting and rewarding look at the Tudors from a viewpoint not often explored in the classroom.

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars

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Saved as a baby from a terrible shipwreck, Sante lives with her adoptive family of Mama Rose and her circus performers and a golden eagle named Priss. They live ‘off the grid’, roaming from country to country, performing as they travel and, although hard, life is good. With Cat- wild and feisty knife thrower- and Cobra- snake charmer and her possible future husband- Sante is the star of the show.

A ‘mind whisperer’, Sante can tune into the thoughts of others and has a mystical connection with those who died in the wreck she survived, the unquiet dead in search of peace. When the children rescue a young girl called Scarlett, tension mounts as they become mixed up with evil and past and present collide.

No synopsis of this book can even begin to do it justice. It is the most original, amazing read, painful in places, but beautifully written. Haunting brutality and exploitation contrast starkly with the magical and supernatural.

Quite simply- this is one you must read.

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars Yaba Badoe

Zephyr ISBN: 978-1786695482