Tag: Book Review

Book Review: Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson

It’s been a little while since I shared a book review with you all. So, today’s post is to share my thoughts on Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson.

I am a huge fan, and I really wanted to try this first book of The Reckoners series. To date, I haven’t found a book of Sanderson‘s I don’t like. Maintaining a record like that is a challenge and a very big expectation to live up to. But Steelheart did not disappoint!

 

Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – Steelheart

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

 

My Thoughts…

When I picked up Steelheart I was safe in the knowledge that I was going to enjoy this book. Not only is Brandon Sanderson becoming one of my favourite authors, but it’s also a genre that I go to again and again! Where fantasy is normally filled with classic tropes and repetitive storylines, I don’t find this at all with Brandon Sanderson‘s writing. It has always amazed me how varied his different narratives and series are. He has so many of them and yet manages to keep them all unique in their own way. They all have similarities in that some form of magic is involved, but the similarities end there!

I enjoyed the narrative of Steelheart as the book is written from the perspective of an underground organisation plotting and killing Epics. Brandon Sanderson builds this epic world over which his ‘superheroes’ (turned overlords) preside, but we get to see the gritty, dark side of things. The world is not perfect with this power. Those who wield it are corrupted. The Reckoners, trying to stop them, hide in the shadows… the dark underbelly of cities. There is something about an author who builds such a fantastic world, to then base the story out of the ‘worst’ parts of it and pull it off.

The Reckoners are the key to the story and as a group, they have a great dynamic. I really enjoyed each individual character and personally, I loved their geekiness. The technology they’ve been able to build with next to no resources is phenomenal and their determination is something else entirely. Who else would think to take on the equivalent of a superhero and win? These guys… and boy, do they do it with style!

I really enjoyed the ending of this book. I wasn’t sure how the book was going to be wrapped up, and I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. It was action-packed, very cleverly done and I don’t think I could’ve asked for any better! And the best bit is, it’s not even over yet! With additional books in the series, there is plenty of scope to take this further and I can guarantee you that I will be picking these up! Equally, I think you could read Steelheart as a standalone if you really wanted to. But why would you want to when it’s just this good?!

Have you read Steelheart, or does my review make you want to consider reading it? Let me know in the comments!

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Book Review: The Thief Taker – C. S. Quinn

In today’s book review post I’m sharing my thoughts on a book that I read around the time I moved house last year. That seems crazy to me because that was well over a year ago! It just goes to show how far behind I am on some of my reviews. Needless to say that after today’s post I can take one more off my list and I hope you enjoy hearing my thoughts on this book.

The Thief Taker appealed to me for its setting. It seemed apt given that we were in the height of our first wave of the pandemic locally at the time I read the book. Maybe that isn’t the best choice for anyone who is superstitious; I am not however and I went on to enjoy this book!

 

The Thief Taker – C. S. Quinn

Goodreads – The Thief Taker

The year is 1665. Black Death ravages London. A killer stalks the streets in a plague doctor’s hood and mask…

When a girl is gruesomely murdered, thief taker Charlie Tuesday reluctantly agrees to take on the case. But the horrific remains tell him this is no isolated death. The killer’s mad appetites are part of a master plan that could destroy London – and reveal the dark secrets of Charlie’s own past.

Now the thief taker must find this murderous mastermind before the plague obliterates the evidence street by street. This terrifying pursuit will take Charlie deep into the black underbelly of old London, where alchemy, witchcraft and blood-spells collide.

In a city drowned in darkness, death could be the most powerful magic of all.

 

My Thoughts…

As I said in my introduction, the main reason I wanted to read this book was to indulge in the setting. British history ironically wasn’t touched on all that much as part of my education. It was there a bit, but I spent most of my time studying the world wars, the Cold War and the economic Boom and Bust in the 1920’s and 30’s. With that in mind, I wanted to try something new. This particular book appealed because in addition it also had an element of mystery – a murder to be solved. It’s a genre that I read from time to time and more often than not enjoy, so I felt it was a safe bet to try something new but equally with a touch of familiarity.

I really enjoyed the mystery element. Can I say that I expected the book and the plot would turn out the way you did? Absolutely not! The story had a far wider scope and I imagined but honestly, I really enjoyed that.

The book is brilliant in its description of London at its worst. If you don’t have a strong stomach then maybe take this with a pinch of salt. The narrative encourages the imagination to run wild with vivid descriptions of just how atrocious conditions were at the time. Imagine bodies rotting in the streets. People hiding themselves away and turning on anyone they think to be sick. The city turns into a cesspit; it’s one thing to have a vague understanding of how things happened in reality, reading a book such as this brings it into perspective.

With society in a state of breakdown and sickness everywhere, the book is full of tension. Where is safe? Who is lurking behind close doors or in the next alleyway – a criminal… or something worse? Our main character finds himself looking over his shoulder constantly and with London being incredibly unsafe, the narrative is full of action to keep us as readers interested.

There is definitely far more that can be added to the series. The plot has been left pretty wide open after this book so it will be interesting to see where the next instalment takes us. For historical fiction, I enjoyed the change of setting and pace and for anyone looking to delve into British history, or at least a very dark side of history, this may just be for you!

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Blog Tour Review: Ruabon – Karl Drinkwater

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s blog tour review of Ruabon by Karl Drinkwater! This is my second blog tour review for this author in the space of a week! If you haven’t read my previous review of Clarissa, shared last Saturday, here’s a handy link so you can take a look. Don’t forget to check out my reviews of the earlier books in the series, Helene and Grubane too!

Today’s review is for the fourth short story in the Lost Tales of Solace series. As I said in my blog tour for Clarissa, I haven’t actually read the main series these books originate from. So, my perspective is from not having read them (yet!).

Before I share my review, I always like to take a moment to say thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and to the author, Karl, for organising the tour and giving me the opportunity to take part!

 

Ruabon – Karl Drinkwater

Goodreads – Ruabon

Welcome to Tecant.

Nothing ever happens here.

Until today.

Ruabon Nadarl is just another low-ranking member of the scan crew, slaving away for the UFS which “liberated” his homeworld. To help pass the time during long shifts he builds secret personalities into the robots he controls. Despite his ingenuity, the UFS offers few opportunities for a better life.

Then Ruabon detects an intruder on the surface of a vital communications tower.

He could just report it and let the deadly UFS commandos take over, while Ruabon returns to obscurity.

Or he could break UFS laws and try to capture the intruder himself. For the UFS, only the outcome matters, not the method. If his custom-programmed drones can save the day, he’ll be a hero.

And if he fails, he’ll be dead.

 

Purchase Linkhttps://books2read.com/b/Ruabon

 

Lost Tales of Solace Kickstarter Campaign

The Kickstarter has an option for someone to get EVERY Lost Solace book as an e-book; but also to get the new paperbacks that will be designed, if they prefer print.

 

My Thoughts…

I literally read Ruabon in a day.

I started reading the stories last Sunday morning, before visiting my parents for the day and finished it later that night after I came back. As all the other Lost Tales of Solace books, it is a very approachable read and is equally easy to binge or pick up and put down at leisure, whatever your preference.

Having read Clarissa recently, I was amazed to see the diversity between the different stories that stem from the same universe. It goes to show just how much thought and world-building has gone into the series overall (including the main one). Although they all interlink, the books could easily be completely different stories and so read independently. That said, there are some names that will make more sense if you have read some of the other books. It’s not a big deal, but I like the subtle inclusion of information from other books as well. They’re the sort of books that you can take from them what you will; you can read them independently and enjoy them that way, or you can read them all and read between the lines… so to speak!

I love how well written the different robot personalities are. They in themselves are extremely different and were really fun to read. I imagine getting across vastly different personalities with only the written word and a limited amount of space in the book to do so is a challenge. However, I think this was done brilliantly! I personally enjoyed each individual little drone and their unique personality. Not only that, but their own existence says a lot about our main character and supplement the main storyline and character building very well.

Ruabon is a story that tells how some people can bloom under pressure. What is supposed to be the equivalent of a quiet day in the office turns out to be anything but, and quiet, unassuming Ruabon steps up to the challenge in the time of need. The fact that he even sticks his neck out on the line shows that he is not the quiet timid man people think he is. It shows a degree of calculation and understanding of when it matters most to make a stand and take a risk. His intentions aren’t necessarily altruistic, however they are very relatable. Ultimately, he wants to make his family proud and respect his heritage as opposed to pleasing his new ‘overlords’.

Ruabon is packed full of action and if you enjoy a fast-paced narrative, this is definitely for you. Again, in a condensed storyline, the unravelling of the plot and the tension of events played out in a way that is very easy to read and keep the reader hooked. I literally only put this down because I was due to go out somewhere-if I haven’t been, I am pretty sure I would have read this all in one sitting.

 

Author Bio

Karl Drinkwater writes thrilling SF, suspenseful horror, and contemporary literary fiction. Whichever you pick you’ll find interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

Karl has lived in many places but now calls Scotland his home. He’s an ex-librarian with degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science. He also studied astrophysics for a year at university, surprising himself by winning a prize for “Outstanding Performance”.

When he isn’t writing he loves guitars, exercise, computer and board games, nature, and vegan cake. Not necessarily in that order.

Social Media Links –

Website https://karldrinkwater.uk

Twitter http://twitter.com/karldrinkwater

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/karlzdrinkwater

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/authorkdrinkwater/

Newsletter http://bit.ly/newsletterkd

 

Blog Tour Review: Clarissa – Karl Drinkwater

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s blog tour review of Clarissa by Karl Drinkwater! It has been a little while since I shared a book review for blog tour. For the most part, I have stepped back from doing these a little this year as I’m focussing on reading books currently on my TBR. I have been doing promo posts for books that I really like the sound of. However, at the outset of this year I said to myself that I would still take part in tours for authors I have read before and come to love, and Karl Drinkwater is one of those!

Today’s review is for his third short story in the Lost Tales of Solace series. Whilst it may be helpful to read the main series, my review is actually coming to you from the perspective of not having read them (yet!). I do have the books to read and my reviews will most certainly follow, but today’s review comes to you unbiased – and you can rest assured that even if you have not read them, it doesn’t matter; you can still pick up these books and enjoy them as I have.

Before I jump into sharing my thoughts, I always like to take a moment to say thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and to the author, Karl, for organising the tour and giving me the opportunity to take part! I really appreciate it and having enjoyed the first two books of the Lost Tales to date, I was really excited to see how Clarissa compared! 

 

Clarissa – Karl Drinkwater

Goodreads – Clarissa

If you’re reading this: HELP! I’ve been kidnapped.

Me and my big sister stayed together after our parents died. We weren’t bothering anybody. But some mean government agents came anyway, and split us up.

Now I’m a prisoner on this space ship. The agents won’t even say where we’re going.

I hate them.

And things have started to get a bit weird. Nullspace is supposed to be empty, but when I look out of the skywindows I can see … something. Out there. And I think it wants to get in here. With us.

My name is Clarissa. I am ten years old.

And they will all be sorry when my big sister comes to rescue me.

Purchase Linkhttps://books2read.com/b/Clarissa

 

My Thoughts…

I find myself reading more and more science-fiction, and the more I read, the more I come to love it! The books I have picked up to date prove that science-fiction doesn’t have to be too technical. I think when I was younger I always had this concern that as a not particularly science-y minded person, I just wasn’t going to understand it. That’s not true at all! I’m sure there are books out there that will float your boat if this is the sort of thing you enjoy, but equally science-fiction can be very approachable. Karl Drinkwater’s Lost Tales of Solace series definitely falls into this latter category.

Clarissa is the third book of the series. I have already read and reviewed the previous two books, Helene and Grubane. If you’d like to check out my thoughts on both of these books, I’ve provided a handy link to each of these. That’s not to say that the events of Clarissa depend on you having read these two books (or my reviews), because that’s not the case at all! It can be read standalone. Some of the characters or places might make a little bit more sense, but it’s definitely not required. I personally really like this. Adding to the ‘non-complexity’ point above, just being able to pick up a standalone is a great way of trying the genre without the commitment of a dense narrative and storyline.

As short stories, each of the Lost Tales of Solace books have been really easy to pick up. Clarissa is no exception. I managed to read this in no more than two sittings. I’ve actually been reading a lot less than normal, but was still able to read this book very quickly despite my reduced reading time. It is the perfect length to be able to enjoy a full narrative, but not too long either.

The thing I loved the most about Clarissa is that it is written from the perspective of a 10-year-old child. Children’s perspectives are very under-represented in literature. There aren’t many books I have read that have them, but almost all that I have, I’ve loved! I think there is a misconception that a narrative from a child’s perspective won’t be detailed or comprehensive enough, but children are very clever. They may not understand the subtleties of some of the things going on around them, but as adults, we can still interpret that from the clues left by the author. Clarissa in particular is very clever, so the telling of her story in the universe, and the strange goings on, does not leave us readers left wanting.

Fun, approachable and a pleasure to read, Clarissa is a fantastic way of delving into science-fiction for anyone of any age. The story is engaging whilst fitting into the wider Lost Tales of Solace narrative. I think I’ve made it abundantly clear, I really enjoyed reading this short story and I hope I can convince you to pick it up for yourself!

If you want to find out more about the book, or check out some other reader’s opinions, please make sure to check out the other stops in the blog tour. I’ll provide a full list of the names of blogs and date they are touring (or have toured) below!

Finally, if you want to find out more on the series, I’m taking part in the blog tour for the fourth book of the series next week. Again, I am providing a review so stay tuned for it!

 

Author Bio

Karl Drinkwater writes thrilling SF, suspenseful horror, and contemporary literary fiction. Whichever you pick you’ll find interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

Karl has lived in many places but now calls Scotland his home. He’s an ex-librarian with degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science. He also studied astrophysics for a year at university, surprising himself by winning a prize for “Outstanding Performance”.

When he isn’t writing he loves guitars, exercise, computer and board games, nature, and vegan cake. Not necessarily in that order.

Social Media Links –

Website https://karldrinkwater.uk

Twitter http://twitter.com/karldrinkwater

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/karlzdrinkwater

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/authorkdrinkwater/

Newsletter http://bit.ly/newsletterkd

Book Review: Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel

I read Sleeping Giants in August of last year and it is a really enjoyable science-fiction novel to dive into. With an interesting storyline and characters to invest into, this book ticked a lot of my boxes. I will definitely be continuing with the series!

Today’s post is all about my thoughts on the first instalment of the series; I hope you enjoy and that you can consider picking up the book as well!

 

Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel

Goodreads – Sleeping Giants

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square-shaped hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved – the object’s origins, architects, and purpose unknown.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the relic they seek. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unravelling history’s most perplexing discovery-and finally figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

 

My Thoughts…

I find myself reading more and more science-fiction. I’m really enjoying branching out into the genre, and what I like about Sleeping Giants is that it felt like a combination of science-fiction with a bit of fantasy. All in all, the book wasn’t what I expected, but that was for the better! It was a really fun book to pick up and read and I’m interested to see whether rest of the series takes it.

Sleeping Giants is narrated in the form of interviews with characters and the odd news article. It’s an unconventional style, but I enjoyed how different it was to typical novels. Each interview marks progress within a scientific project-the finding of metal body parts across the globe and humankind’s quest to understand and assemble technology far more advanced than their own.

Sleeping Giants has a diverse range of characters that are easy to get on with. I really enjoyed the dynamic between them and I don’t feel like the interview style narrative conflicted with getting to know each character. I personally found that having the one on one interaction with them and an interviewer and they’re being questioned on their relations with others helps us understand them better.

The narrative is far darker than I expected it was going to be. From the synopsis I expected quite a light-hearted science-fiction mystery novel, however I didn’t really find that to be the case at all. Although it wasn’t what I expected, I really enjoyed sleeping giant. Whilst the tone is more sinister and events in the book take at times and unpleasant turn, I think that makes the book far more interesting than I ever expected it to be! I don’t always like surprises, but sometimes they can’t be good if well written-and for me this certainly was! For that reason I think the narrative has a lot more to offer and I will definitely be continuing with the series see what happens next!

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Book Review: This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

Today’s book review is for one of my top reads of 2020. It wasn’t a book I expected to pick up; in fact, it was a an impromptu loan from a work colleague after they read it and enjoyed it in lockdown. 

And boy, am I glad I took them up on the loan! It’s not often that I read non-fiction, or anything even remotely like this book. But sometimes, branching out pays off and honestly I loved loved loved this book! There is a definite British pride in the NHS but I think it often under-appreciated how much has to go into it in order for us to be able to access it. This book rips away the veil and gives an honest insight into what it means to be a doctor… what it costs to be a doctor, and I don’t just mean financially. You would be wrong to think that this is a dry, one interesting diary of the slog that is the medical profession. Oh no. Adam Kay is absolutely hilarious and as I’m sure you can imagine, his experience as an Obs and Gyn doctor provides no end of humour along the way!

 

This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

Goodreads – This is Going to Hurt

The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller and Humour Book of the Year

Winner of the Books Are My Bag Book of the Year

Winner of iBooks’ Book of the Year

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward.

As seen on ITV’s Zoe Ball Book Club

This edition includes extra diary entries and a new afterword by the author.

 

My Thoughts…

I would never have thought that a book could be tearjerking and completely hilarious all at the same time. Each daily chapter is different to the next, as can be expected really. Every day is different and brings along new patients and challenges. Probably one of the most common challenges of the job are the patients themselves, and the stupid things they have done to themselves to land them in the care of the NHS. Slightly red-faced, no doubt!

The book isn’t all humour though. It’s gritty, and it’s real and unfortunately in such a profession there are bad days as well as good days. Some patients get to walk out a little embarrassed but otherwise well, and yet others have far more to worry about. This book did make me cry. At one time the author was looking after a patient who found out they were terminally ill. He spent several hours of his day after he clocked off helping patient come to terms with their diagnosis and to help them make a plan for the inevitable. In his own time. If that doesn’t make you realise the kind of people the NHS is made up of then nothing will.

This is going to hurt is truly an emotional rollercoaster. Yet between the humour and the sad stories lies the bigger truth that the service we all rely on is understaffed and underfunded. Those in the profession often work ridiculous hours and overtime on top for the good of their patients. They have little to no social or personal lives themselves (over the course of the book and seven Christmases, the author got just one year off duty…)

What this book makes clear is that the staff who keep the NHS going sacrifice themselves for the benefit of others. In the wake of the events of the last year and the ongoing pandemic across the world, it’s all the more important to remember their sacrifices and to appreciate them! Adam Kay continues to campaign to raise awareness of the state of the NHS and his afterword tries to rally people to the cause. It is a topic that is being discussed now. Those of you who watched the BRIT awards recently will have heard the first of Dua Lipa’s acceptance speeches, in which she highlighted that it was one thing to clap for the NHS staff and another to pay them!

In a way, This is Going to Hurt is a call to arms, but it’s also an absolutely hilarious read. It’s a complex book, because on the face of it, it appears to be a light-hearted humorous account of Adam Kay’s time is a junior doctor. Yet under the surface, there is a poignant message that can also be taken from it. I love the book for both sides and I hope other readers out there do too.

This is Going to Hurt, rightfully so, was one of my top reads of last year and it is a book I know I will pick up again and again and again. And I’m sure I’ll have the same rollercoaster journey each and every time. I’m looking forward to it!

 

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Audiobook Review: Moon Over Soho – Ben Aaronovitch

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s audiobook review of Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch. I started listening to this series last year and to date I have listened to over half of it. As you can tell, I’ve really gotten into it! If you would like to find out my thoughts on the first instalment of the series, you can find my audiobook review of Rivers of London here.

 

Moon Over Soho – Ben Aaronovitch

Goodreads – Moon Over Soho

The song. That’s what London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant first notices when he examines the corpse of Cyrus Wilkins, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. The notes of the old jazz standard are rising from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not at all natural but instead supernatural.

Body and soul. They’re also what Peter will risk as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, and the assistance of beautiful jazz aficionado Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep and to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard “Lord” Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad.

 

My Thoughts…

Rivers of London felt like it could’ve been a good standalone novel. However, Moon over Soho in my opinion, has more of a series vibe and does a good job of setting the scene for the series as a whole. In this particular book we start to see some longer plot elements coming into play and I really enjoyed how it picked up on the events from the first book.

The series is told from the perspective of rookie Detective Peter Grant. He operates in the only division of the police force that deals with the supernatural. His days on the beat are far from ordinary. Peter is a very typical young man raised in Britain and he is no stranger to English charm. He is very much in tune with the darker side of people, especially in a large city such as London. Growing up in such a setting it can only be expected that he has a typical British sense of humour and I really love that! The dry humour adds a lot to the narrative and keeps the reader engaged.

Moon over Soho has a quirky plot line and I enjoyed how Peter’s family are introduced in further detail. It adds a lot of depth to Peter’s character and I feel like we get to learn a lot more of his family dynamic than the first book. By including them, more we get to explore a brand-new set of characters as well as firm favourites from Rivers of London.

I have one pet hate about the female characters in these novels so far, as it is very clear that a lot of them are sexualised – especially young ones. Take Simone for example. Like Simone, I am a larger lady. As a larger lady, I can promise you that we would never, ever deliberately wear underwear too small for sex appeal. This book portrays it as sexy, with lumps and bumps exploding curvaceously in all the right places. You can tell she has been written by someone who has never had to wear an ill-fitting bra for a single day in his life. Women know the truth of how bras fit… or more importantly, how they don’t! Wearing bras that are too small emphasises back fat, underwires dig into your armpits and small straps can rub the skin off your shoulders, to name but a few issues they cause. That kind of pain is not something that women would deliberately choose to inflict upon themselves!

Still think this is sexy, Mr Aaronovitch? My point is it isn’t a realistic expectation of what women should look like or how they do look. In a world full of body dysmorphia I think it’s important to emphasise this. Women should absolutely not do it and frankly it’s not attractive!

Okay, rant over.

Don’t get me wrong, this hasn’t impacted how much I’ve enjoyed the book but it is becoming apparent that the author does have a penchant for sexualising female characters. I’ve gone on to listen to more of the audiobooks so clearly it isn’t a huge issue for me, but I wish that he didn’t. It hardly encourages anyone to see anything in women beyond the physical appearance, which at least is shallow and at most, well, insulting.

As this is an audiobook review it’s only fair to mention the format itself and how much I enjoyed this second audiobook being narrated by the same person. I’ve already raved about how good he is at bringing life to an already interesting character and to have the consistency in this book as well (and the rest of the series I’ve listen to to date) is very satisfying.

As with Rivers of London, the author’s love of the city shines through the narrative. I’m not one with much experience of London but I didn’t find the descriptions and geography of the city confusing. Honestly, I didn’t let myself get bogged down into it because I knew I wouldn’t have a hope of understanding it anyway! It has no impact on the enjoyment of the book and honestly, I think anyone can pick this up. You don’t have to be familiar with London in any way to be able to read and enjoy the series.

 

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Book Review: The Bands of Mourning – Brandon Sanderson

Today’s book review for The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson is one I am excited to share! You may already be aware that I am a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson. I have read and started a number of different series written by him and honestly, I’ve loved them all. They are all completely different, with a vague commonality in that they have their own really unique magic systems. The Mistborn series is the one I have read the most of and these books were my introduction to the author. To date, the series consists of an initial trilogy and there are a further three books published in a later timeline. I am excited as there is an expected fourth book to this later series… but I’m also sad as I’ve caught up and I now have to wait for it to be published!

In the grand scheme of things it’s a small problem – and I’m willing to wait for the next instalment as it’s a fantastic series. Before jumping into today’s review of The Bands of Mourning, please go and check out my reviews for The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self. These two books precede this third book of the later series.

 

The Bands of Mourning – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – The Bands of Mourning

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, the Mistborn series is a heist story of political intrigue and magical, martial-arts action.

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metal minds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

 

My Thoughts…

The second Mistborn series continues with The Bands of Mourning and we are treated once again to an interesting and action-packed plotline, hilarious characters with a great dynamic and even a flashback to the original Mistborn series. As in the previous books, I am really enjoying the mash-up of an industrial revolution int the middle of a Western civilisation setting. That’s one combo I don’t think I have ever read to date and honestly, it really works! Don’t ask me how… I’m not sure that it should and yet it really does and I’m in love with it!

As always, the dynamic between Waxililam and Wayne makes the book. They are absolutely brilliant together despite being like chalk and cheese in personalities. So now, they work really well together and I just love them. There’s nothing more I can say other than they are probably one of my favourite character duos ever! Wax is a brilliant character for his upstanding moral nature. As characters go, he’s pretty altruistic. Not perfect, to say the least, but not for a lack of trying.

Wayne on the other hand is far more of a loose cannon. His ‘trading’ habit (stealing but leaving something in return – often dross) and ability to blend into a crowd come in very useful to the team… but he’s less than honest. He has good intentions for the most part and he is fiercely loyal to Wax, which makes him quite a loveable rogue.

It’s a good job our characters thrive on chaos, because there is plenty of it in their world! Where Wax and Wayne go with the flow, Steris thrives off trying to bring order to the chaos. I must admit I didn’t think too much of her when she was first introduced in The Alloy of Law.  But, I have warmed to her a lot. She’s a great compliment to Wax as well. I’m not big on couples and relationships in books, but they work well together!

I was excited by this second Mistborn series as it expanded on the magic system from the first; instead of being able to use magical power relating to one metal, the book introduced individuals who have the power to use two. What really sold me on this instalment of the series is that a third element was introduced. Whereas previously an individual has to consume metal in order to wield their specific powers, this book introduces the concept of powers being held externally via relics and able to be used by anyone!

I love that Brandon Sanderson isn’t afraid to explore new options in his worlds. Whilst he is very good at creating a consistent setting and building a detailed plot and magic system, I love that he is able to branch out and make a success of re-writing the rulebook, so to speak. So far in this series it has worked very well and makes the novels very interesting to read and invest into. But, it also reassures us as readers that there is a lot more that we can expect!

I really enjoyed how events of this book concluded. Without giving any spoilers, a certain character from the first series that has a presence in this book. It’s been that long since I read the first series that I had completely forgotten about this character! It made for an interesting twist to the plotline and I’m glad they were included. Suffice to say, I’m excited to see where the next book of the series takes us. Sadly, I have to wait for it to be published as I’m now caught up with the series… but at least it’s not over yet!

 

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Audiobook Review: Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch

Before I even took the plunge with listening to Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, I had looked at the book previously and decided against reading it; it’s more of an urban fantasy as opposed to my preference of an epic fantasy. When it comes to audiobooks I am definitely more flexible on genre then I am regarding physical books. Don’t ask me why – maybe it is the different medium that makes it easier for me to listen to? I don’t know, but anyway I’m glad to say how wrong I was about passing up reading this book at first!

The fact that I went on to ‘read’ the next four books of the series in a three month period should tell you a lot! I’ve only really given it a rest so that I could enjoy listening to some different books for a change and so I haven’t caught up with the series. Then I’d be left waiting too long for the next instalment… and that just won’t do!

Would you like to find out more details about the book?

 

Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch

Goodreads – Rivers of London

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

 

My Thoughts…

Not reading or listening to Rivers of London would have been a huge mistake. To try to encapsulate the book in one sentence, I would summarise it like this – the plot is interesting and easy to invest into, the characters are frankly hilarious and the narrative style of the book makes sure you never want to put it down! That’s a big sentence and full of praise but I can assure you that it is justified.

My favourite aspect of the novel has to be Peter Grant’s character. As I have said he is absolutely hilarious; I get on with his sarcastic wit – typical British humour – and his eye for detail. Through his perspective we get a lot of information and description of the city of London as Ben Aaronovitch has sculpted it. From the foundations of London as we know he has built a whole new city within London. Magic and history of the magical and mysterious who dwell the municipality are chronicled and shared in captivating detail. Those who know me know that this is a big plus for me – the more detail the better in my eyes! What’s also relevant is that the information is relevant to the story. It doesn’t feel like it’s been added as filler and given that there is a mystery element to the book you never know which parts actually becomes relevant until later so you pay attention to it all. For that reason I’m always looking at those details to try and fit them into the wider picture.

One of the other things I love about Peter Grant’s character, and the wider book in general, is that his character ticks box for multicultural inclusion… without actually making a point of being a multicultural inclusive book. Now hear me out, I know that might sound a little bit contradictory. I love that this book isn’t a typical British magical realism with white race characters dominating the scene laced throughout. I think sometimes being ‘British’ can be inadvertently stereotyped as that. However, more so than ever Britain is far more multicultural and Peter’s family history being diverse, but not heavily made a point of makes our character feel far more relevant in the modern world. I love that it doesn’t scream its inclusion of multiple ethnic groups from the rooftops as if it’s a huge thing – because while to an extent it is, the fact is it shouldn’t be! It’s perfectly commonplace. I personally think Ben Aaronovitch got the tone just right with this one. Are some of the characters stereotypical in their writing? Undoubtedly. Other people may disagree with me, but I enjoyed how they are written into the book.

As this is an audiobook review it’s only fair to also comment on the narration. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith narrates rivers of London (and the rest of the series I have listened to to date – again a big plus in my opinion) and I think he does an excellent job of bringing the character of Peter Grant to life and telling the story through his eyes. As a character I think Peter is quite expressive and Kobna does a very good job of portraying this. I don’t know how to put it into words other than to say that he doesn’t just read what’s in front of him. In my days of studying performing arts we would call it ‘getting into the character’… and Kobna has definitely done this!

Last, but certainly not least, it is clear from the narrative and events from the book that the author has a detailed knowledge of London and a vivid imagination in building the events of the book into the city. It isn’t so much that the setting of the events is a coincidence; London is built into the heart and soul of the story – it just wouldn’t be the same anywhere else! That definitely shows. No landmark is too big and no sidestreet too small to have escaped the notice of Ben Aaronovitch; each winding alley has its history carved into the book. I am not going to pretend that I know London well – truth is I’ve only visited briefly twice. That being said, it didn’t impact my enjoyment of the book at all. I don’t think it matters if you know the geography of the city because ultimately that’s not the point. It’s how this comes together with the story of Rivers of London to create a fun, quirky urban fantasy novel that paves the way for a fantastic series! Does it help? Quite possibly, but equally it doesn’t matter if you don’t.

 

So perhaps now you see why I binged the next four books of the series within three months after listening to Rivers of London. If you haven’t read it yet, or question whether it might be your cup of tea I ask you to throw your misconceptions out the window. I am certainly glad I did!

 

 

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Audiobook Review: Head On – John Scalzi

Today’s audiobook review of Head On by John Scalzi has been on the list for review for some time. I listened to the audiobook just less than a year ago as of writing this review. I listened to this second instalment of the Lock In series having loved the first book.

 

Head On – John Scalzi

Head On (Lock In, #2) by John Scalzi | Goodreads

John Scalzi returns with Head On, the standalone follow-up to the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed Lock In. Chilling near-future SF with the thrills of a gritty cop procedural, Head On brings Scalzi’s trademark snappy dialogue and technological speculation to the future world of sports.

Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it.

Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field.

Is it an accident or murder? FBI Agents and Haden-related crime investigators, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, are called in to uncover the truth―and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost, and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.

 

My Thoughts…

I was taken with the idea of Hilketa immediately. In what other world could a sport be made out of attacking robots, or threeps controlled by humans? To recap from the first book, the people controlling the threeps are those with Haden’s Syndrome, a severe medical condition where people are ‘locked in’ to their bodies. They are fully aware but have no control of their bodies at all. It only affected a small number of those who contracted the contagious virus (1%), but for them, it had devastating consequences. The development of the technology to allow them a semblance of a real-life via threeps was a long time coming afterwards.

Agent Shane also has Haden’s and growing up he was a poster child for the technology. Now he is a detective investigating any crimes with a Haden link. He and Leslie Vann have their work cut out for them in this latest case.

I went into Head On with high expectations. Lock In was the first book I had read/listened to by John Scalzi and honestly, I wasn’t disappointed! The book followed on nicely from Lock In and the narrative was easy to follow. I daresay that you could even listen to Head On independently; reminders as to certain aspects of Haden’s and events in the first book of the series are re-capped. Obviously, reading Lock In first is an advantage as the events of the first book are alluded to, but equally, I wouldn’t say it was essential either.

The dynamic between Agent’s Shane and Vann is just as good as in the previous book. Chris Shane is a witty character and I enjoyed his perspective on events in the book. Despite his privileged background, his understanding of society, human nature and how the world works makes him a great detective. Agent Vann is her usual blunt, abrasive self. If there was a character I had to name who hates people the most, she would be top of the list! She’s so to-the-point with her bluntness that it’s hilarious!

The depth and detail that has gone into the planning of each book is both brilliant and unnerving all at once. When I reviewed Lock In back in 2019 I said that the virus was so well-developed in its history and the impact it had on the world as a whole and that it could easily be real. In 2021, that’s not a thought any of us will want to particularly entertain, but I stand by what I said!

 

 

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