Tag: book reviews

Throwback Thursday Review: The Inheritance Cycle – Christopher Paolini

Today’s Throwback Thursday review of the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini is going to be a mixed bag. It’s a series I started and loved in the beginning, but ultimately I have DNF’d it.

 

Goodreads – Eragon

Goodreads – Eldest

Goodreads – Brisingr

Goodreads – Inheritance

Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders?

When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands. . . .

 

My Thoughts…

I started reading Eragon whilst I was at school. I have a particular friend whom I aspired to be like at school. She was into the same books as me – in fact, it was unusual to meet her without a book in hand. (She is also the person who introduced me to Terry Pratchett, I might add).

I had seen her reading Eragon before I had picked it up, so naturally, I had to read it too! I loved the fantasy element of the book; at that time, the young-boy-coming-of-age trope was still exciting. And who doesn’t love dragons?!

If you don’t… you have no soul. Just saying.

I really enjoyed reading the first book; it is magical – and the worldbuilding! I found it very immersive.

I would say that Eragon is a book that I read in my bookworm infancy. At that point, I hadn’t really refined my preferences. I was drinking up everything I could. By the time I got around to Eldest, though, I had started to formulate my own ideas of what I liked and what I didn’t. It’s not that I didn’t like Eldest particularly, I did. I have fond memories of ignoring my duties of supervising younger kids during break and being stood next to a radiator with these books instead. Much more fun, yes?

So, what do I think went wrong?

If I am 100% honest, I think I just outgrew these books. I recall finding the second book immature in the plot and writing style. Frustration peaked because I feel the book could have been better. I wanted to like it, but I couldn’t get past the barrier that presented itself.

I haven’t attempted Brisingr or Inheritance because I don’t think I can bring myself to. The plot is well and truly lost to me so I would be back at square one, with far less appreciation for the tropes it relies on. I don’t think I will enjoy it and I don’t think I need a better reason to not read these books. If we cannot take enjoyment out of reading, then what is the point?

 

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 4th November 2018

Good evening ladies and gents! It’s time for another Sunday Summary post, in which I reflect on a very busy week!

This will be my fourth post of the week; normally I don’t schedule in so many posts, but a couple of reviews and a new reading list for the month were all due at the same time. It has been fun, although I can practically see steam coming off my hands from typing so much!

On Monday I posted my review of The Hidden Face by S. C. Flynn. The author kindly offered me a copy of the book in exchange for review; it’s been the first direct request I have had for a little while, so it made a refreshing change to read.

Then, on Wednesday I shared my (very short) TBR for the month. It’s not that I am not planning on reading this month… don’t be silly. That would be like telling me not to breathe! This month, I decided to give myself a little more freedom in the books I read as opposed to a full, set list.

Friday was my stop on the Blog Tour for Another Kind of Magic, the third and final book of the Caitlin series by Elizabeth Davies. As an avid reader of historical fiction and a great lover of magic, this series was a treat for me. If you haven’t read any of these books, please go and read my reviews… or better yet, give them a try! If you do, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

 

Books Read

Following on from last week’s Sunday Summary post, I began the week by finishing reading The Swan Keeper by Milana Marsenich. I reviewed Copper Sky, another of Milana’s books back in March this year. After doing so, Milana kindly asked if I would accept a copy of The Swan Keeper to read and review at a later date. Naturally, I accepted. I really enjoyed both the plot and the characters.

Also featuring today (and in my Sunday Summary post last week) is Season of Storms by Andrzej Sapkowski. I confess though I have read less of this book than last week. I have made some progress here, so I include it, but not a lot. The majority of my time has been spent on another book this week.

A Game of Thrones – how I love this series! I have already read this book twice over, but it really doesn’t matter. It’s the kind of treasure you could never get bored of. A Game of Thrones is one of two books I have set myself the task of reading this month; considering its size and the fact that I only started reading this on Thursday, I’m impressed that I’m already 25% through. I can, and have, literally sat with this book for hours. I look forward to many more!

There is something else. The desperate urge to include a GoT pun in this post is overwhelming. I apologise in advance.

I decided to take a little break from the book last night by taking up a hobby I haven’t really touched in a year or so. Given that my current woolly hat is a little old, used and is showing its age, I decided to test my crochet skills by making one! I haven’t made anything in a while, but I found a reasonably simple pattern online and I started to make it. Why? Well the answer is simple.

Wait for it…

Source: Giphy

 

I SAID I’M SORRY – Okay!!

But I’m not really…

 

Books Discovered

So, this is one of those rare weeks when I literally have nothing to say in this section! As I think I mentioned in a previous Sunday Summary post, I am on a book ban.

Why do I do this to myself?

 

Coming Up…

Although I had a fabulous week with lots of posts, I’m scaling back to my usual schedule next week. It gives me enough breathing space to produce some decent content.

So, what posts can you expect? Well, I am going to post two reviews this week, because I have a few to catch up on!

At the end of September, I attended an event as part of the local Manx Litfest – a storytelling of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I adored the show so much that I picked up the book as soon as I got home. I’m not even kidding. I had read the book just shy of ten years ago at school, but I wanted to read it again and form a second opinion. To that end, I am going to be sharing my thoughts with you about my re-reading of this book.

 

 

 

 

My second review of the week is going to be for a book I devoured in a matter of days. Muse of Nightmares – what a fabulous read this was! I could read both Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares all over again.

Don’t encourage me, seriously.

Naturally, I’ll conclude the week in the usual manner.

 

 

 

Instead, let’s talk about what I SHOULD be reading! I want to make more progress in reading both A Game of Thrones and Season of Storms this week. Preferably, I would like to finish SoS by Andrzej Sapkowski by the end of the week to keep momentum. A Game of Thrones is going to take longer – it’s a huge book. I’ll keep chipping away though!

 

What are you reading this week?

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 21st October 2018

It’s Sunday night and the end of another week. Whereas in previous weeks I have been delighting in the fact that I have time off work to enjoy, rest assured karma is biting me right now. Yes, I’m back to work tomorrow.

I can hear you all laughing at me now – and good for you! I would too… were I not in my shoes.

No really, I do enjoy my job. It may come as a surprise, but working with numbers actually strikes up a good balance against my love of reading and writing my blog.

So, what have I been doing with my time off? Well, reading of course! That… and talking about books. On Wednesday I reviewed Breachers by Anthony Thomas for the Blog Tour organised by Fiery Seas Publishing. As I stated in my review, it’s one of the easiest five-star reviews I have given this year! If you haven’t taken a look at that review yet, I’d appreciate it.

On Friday, I published a long overdue review of The Relic Guild by Edward Cox. I read this book back in August, but since I have had so many blog tours on the go, I just haven’t had the time to commit my thoughts to… webpage. You get the idea. This is another positive review and a book I would really recommend for anyone who loves Fantasy (particularly magic).

I’ve also been doing a lot of work behind the scenes on my blog. When I say a lot, I mean A LOT. When I migrated my blog to a self-hosted site earlier this year, I came across problems – 260(ish) broken links to media files that didn’t import properly. Yep, it was that big a problem.

Well, those are all fixed now! It took hours of manual changes, but it’s done! I also noticed a lot of the formatting on those pre-migration posts isn’t great so I am fixing a lot of those too. That’s a work-in-progress at the moment, but less urgent. I’m pleased anyway! It’s kept me busy and I had no way of making time to fix the links otherwise.

 

Books Read

Ahead of Wednesday’s blog tour review I was due to post for Breachers, I finished reading this book on Monday. I don’t like to have things so last minute for tours. If there is one thing this worked out well for though, was keeping everything fresh in my head for the review. I think maybe I should be better at making notes as I read, or drafting reviews sooner, because on this occasion this review was incredibly easy to write!

This week also saw me return to reading The Hidden Face by S. C. Flynn. I put this book down about a third of the way through last week to ensure I could review Breachers on time. Once I re-commenced reading this book, I finished it within a few days. It is a fast paced book, whilst still managing to fit in plenty of history behind the events taking place in modern day.

The next two reads this week weren’t on my list for this month. I confess I picked them up rather on impulse. First, I started reading The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. I received an ARC of this book from Orion Books a few months ago now, in anticipation of publication in February next year. You have to get a copy. I devoured this book in less than 24 hours, no word of a lie. I am so glad I picked it up.

My next unplanned read is Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett. Yes, folks, I’m back to reading Pratchett again. I just love the Discworld series so much that I need to pick up one of these books occasionally. In borrowing an ebook copy of this title, I also got to test out my new Kindle tablet, so it’s a win-win situation really! I’m 90% though this book as we speak, but I’ll finish that tonight no sweat.

 

Books Discovered

After last week’s performance of binge buying books, I have been far more restrained.

I saw an offer for Stephen King’s Bag of Bones, advertising the e-book as only 99p for a limited time. So, I bought it. I justified it by arguing that by using by gift card balance, I wasn’t TECHNICALLY spending my actual money.

Not strictly true I know, but I needed something… okay?!

 

Coming Up…

down the tbr holeThis week I have a little breathing space on the blog tour front – yay! Haha! For a bit of a change, I have decided to take a look at my ever-growing TBR again and potentially weed out some books I no longer want to read. It feels like it’s been a while since my last post, so this is definitely overdue!

I will be posting another book review this week; however, this will be a throwback review of an old book or series. I have so many books that I’ve read before starting my blog – it doesn’t make sense to omit featuring them!

 

 

In addition to the posts I am planning on publishing this week, I’ve decided I am also going to trial setting some reading goals here. I want to see if that works for me anyway. Compared to last year, I have read quite a bit less. I know it isn’t a competition, but I feel I need a little kick up the backside encouragement some weeks. Maybe accountability might work for me!

So, tonight I am going to finish Interesting Times. I’ve already committed myself to that. In terms of reading progress, I am aiming to pick up and finish Another Kind of Magic by Elizabeth Davies. I am reviewing this book in the upcoming Blog Tour, so I want to give myself plenty of time to read this in advance (and make notes!) As the cover isn’t being revealed until the 25th October, I can’t share this with you now. You’ll just have to wait and see!

In addition to Another Kind of Magic, I am also looking to make a start on The Swan Keeper by Milana Marsenich. This is the last book on the list for this month; if I can manage to make a start on this by the end of the week then I’ll be in a good position to read this before the end of the month! It’ll be the first time I’ll have made it through all the books on my list in a month for a little while, not to mention the couple of extras I picked up too!

I look forward to updating you next week! Happy reading!

Book Review Banner

Book Review: The Toymakers – Robert Dinsdale

*** I received a free copy of The Toymakers from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own***

The Toymakers

Goodreads – The Toymakers

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

 

My Thoughts…

I finished reading this book at the end of May, but due to other blogging commitments, I have been unable to find the time to write my review. Usually, leaving a review for so long can make it difficult to remember the impression the book made on you at the time. However, there are a few stand out points that make this book quite unforgettable.

I cannot put into words how well Robert Dinsdale captures the spirit, imagination and the magic of being a child. I may be twenty-three years old, but there were times I wished I was transported to the age of childhood innocence. It may sound daft – hey, you’re an adult! Magic isn’t real! That is where you are wrong.

In stark contrast to the joy and wonder of youth and fun of the Toy Emporium, sixteen-year-old Cathy is due to become a mother. Shunned by her parents for the impropriety of being with child out of wedlock, she flees to the Emporium to start afresh. There, she raises her child and the two of them become part of the Emporium family.

As Emil and Kaspar wage their boyhood wars, the true horrors of real war come to haunt many families. Boys are sent to the trenches. Those that come back are not the same as the boys who left to fight for Queen and country.

I was fascinated at how Papa Jack came to be a toymaker. His back-story is rich and inspiring in equal measure. The life of the Toymaker has not been easy, and it is from the darkest shadows that the brightest light shines. Beauty, love, awe, and inspiration go hand in hand with the horror and brutality, trials and hardship of the world – this inseparable combination captures the essence of life.

 

In Summary…

I don’t think I can successfully put into words just how much I loved this book! Each character is unique and has their part to play. It is a wonderful blend of historical fiction and fantasy – lovers of either genre would enjoy reading The Toymakers for themselves. As an avid reader of BOTH genres… perhaps then you can see why I enjoyed the book so much! I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in these genres. I don’t think you will regret it.

Book Review: Diana Christmas – F. R. Jameson

***I was very kindly provided with a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***

 

Diana Christmas

Goodreads – Diana Christmas

In 1959, Diana Christmas – the beautiful, vivacious redhead – was a major star in Britain. It was her moment. She was on the cusp of making it big in Hollywood. Then, she simply walked away from the limelight. Vanished from an industry that adored her.

Twenty years later, Michael, a young film journalist, arrives at her suburban home and discovers the still vibrant and alluring Diana. Between her sheets, he hears for the first time the reason for her disappearance – a tale of coercion, shame and blackmail.

To his shock, he learns that those who destroyed her career and ruined her life still have their claws in her.
Totally smitten, he promises to help her. But Michael soon finds that the past doesn’t let go easily…

Diana Christmas – A new thriller of desire and betrayal from F.R. Jameson.

 

This was a new genre for me to explore, and I relished the opportunity to read something new.

Michael, a recently graduated film journalist, lands himself an interview with none other than former star, Diana Christmas. Quickly finding himself between the sheets with her, he embroils himself in a history of blackmail and subterfuge spanning decades.

A forewarning to readers, some of the scenes in the book are NSFW and certainly for mature readers. I have to say that whilst I don’t read anything that… pushes the boundaries, shall we say, I didn’t find the raunchier parts too intimidating or uncomfortable to read. The narrative touches upon intimacy in a way that neither shies away from it uncomfortably nor records every sordid detail, which makes for the perfect balance for someone like me.

Each of the characters presented in the book are unique and well developed. Diana herself, much as her character would strive to do, really takes centre stage when it comes to development. The author has quite evidently invested a lot of effort in getting Diana’s persona just right. From the way she speaks to the smallest mannerisms, she is remarkably expressive of her thoughts and feelings. She can change the mask she wears at the drop of a hat… and for me really embodies the expression that the whole world is a stage. The performance, in Diana’s mind, never seems to end. Sometimes, that mask slips in the heat of the moment though, and there are a few rare glimpses of Diana’s true self.

Whilst I was less a fan of Michael overall (entirely a personal bias), his character was written perfectly for the role he plays in the story. He is the love-sick puppy forever at her heels, begging for her affections and jumping through hoops to get it. He is the type of man Diana needed and was no doubt waiting for… as he is easy to manipulate. It’s not that I didn’t like him; I just wish that there was a bit more about him. I know he is young, inexperienced with life and no doubt star-struck, but he falls into the honeyed trap hook, line and sinker! I spent most of my time feeling sorry for him really – for someone purportedly educated, he’s a little wet behind the ears at times.

*Insert smutty joke here*

He did grow on me though, I have to say.

Where I found elements of Michael’s personality a few cards shy of a full deck (my opinion extends to all people of this nature – my former self included), the same cannot be said for the narrative itself. Full of twists and turns, the sophisticated, melodramatic soap opera of Diana’s life keeps the story flowing and evolving with each new development. The unexpected, less than fairy-tale like conclusion was surprising, but more importantly, brings some consequences of the pressures of fame to our attention.

Diana Christmas truly is a thriller fit for the silver screen itself.
Rebecca mono

Book Review: Eternity’s Echoes – Evan Hirson

Hi everybody!!

Today I am pleased to be sharing my review of Eternity’s Echoes with you! I’m going to go ahead and get the boring part out of the way, so then we can begin in earnest!

***I was very kindly provided with a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***

Eternity's Echoes

Goodreads – Eternity’s Echoes

Aaron was a promising software designer with an upcoming company. He shared a quaint house on the outskirts of town with his best friends; another young man and two girls. They’d known each other since school, and lived together peacefully for years with few problems.

Travis the newcomer however had a dark way about him, and all of Aaron’s attempts to get along with him had failed.

But just as the household began to settle down again, a strange device with a peculiar attitude entered their lives.

Would it fulfil all of their dreams, or instead become a curse?

 

I was on a science-fiction high from reading Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio, before diving into Eternity’s Echoes.

Science-fiction is probably the genre I pick up the least often (aside from those I don’t touch at all, obviously…) because I don’t consider myself “technically” minded and thus inadequate to read it. Start talking to me about a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff,  or the physics behind it and you will see my eyes simply glaze over.

*Extra points to anyone who knows who I am quoting there*

I think science-fiction can be perceived as falling in either one of two ballparks – the first is that of complex ideas, detailed explanations and the requirement of some kind of quantum physics degree just to keep your head above water. Perhaps I perceive this because I definitely put myself into the second category; a reader that loves the general idea of time/space travel and advanced technology explored in many science-fiction novels, but really doesn’t want to know the ins-and-outs of how it works, why it works or which century it may or may not come from in the future.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to which side of the fence you are on… we are all different after all. So how does this have any bearing when it comes to Eternity’s Echoes?

The book certainly started off with the simple idea of time travel, how some events cannot and should not be altered else the fabric of time will unravel. Gradually, further ideas are introduced as to what is possible in time travel, and what problems or limitations there may be in using it. It all seems reasonably straight forward – a science noob like me can get their head around that. In that sense, the book is approachable for a wide audience.

After I received the review request and I looked into the book, I was pleased about the inclusion of a character who suffers with anxiety to such an extent that she remains housebound – sometimes even refusing to come out of her room. It is so rare to have a character like this in books. These are completely normal and real issues that normally get no fanfare or spotlight. This, however, was Kim’s only defining feature. Indeed, I feel all of the characters have so much more scope for development. In their current incarnation they serve the purpose of representing different types of people, but they are very difficult to relate or invest with otherwise.

I found the day to day “lifestyles” of the teenagers impeded on the progress of the plot. Considering three of the five teens weren’t even working/studying, or even have any kind of fixed schedule, I felt that more could have happened. As a result of a couple of different schedules, the narrative had to jump around considerably to allow these group “events”. Personally, I felt that this didn’t really sit well, considering the idea of the book is that the manipulation of time was at the fingertips of the protagonists.

That being said, the plot and it’s twists and turns did pull it together later in the text. The story became more sophisticated and my overall rating of the book was brought up as a result of this. This has raised the question within me as to whom the target audience is, because I feel the delivery of the narrative may be better suited to a younger audience, whilst the plot fits an older demographic in terms of complexity.

But these are just my musings. Overall it was a refreshing read to add to my collection, and it has encouraged me to pick up science fiction more often. I hope to see further development of the characters and the plot in the sequel.
Rebecca mono

Book Review: Soul Music – Terry Pratchett

Hi everybody!

So after the slight change of scheduling this week as a result of taking part in a blog tour, today I am posting my review of my first read this month – Soul Music by Terry Pratchett. This is the sixteenth book of the Discworld collection, and the third book in the Death mini-series. Death tends to crop up at some point in most of the Discworld books (at least the ones I have read so far, anyway), but these books go into more detail about his existence, family, and all manner of time-related paradoxes.

Soul Music

Goodreads – Soul Music

Other children get given xylophones. Susan just had to ask her grandfather to take his vest off.

Yes. There’s a Death in the family.

It’s hard to grow up normally when Grandfather rides a white horse and wields a scythe – especially when you have to take over the family business, and everyone mistakes you for the Tooth Fairy.
And especially when you have to face the new and addictive music that has entered Discworld.

It’s lawless. It changes people.
It’s called Music With Rocks In.
It’s got a beat and you can dance to it, but…
It’s alive.
And it won’t fade away.

 

My Thoughts…

This book maintains the typical Pratchett style of humour, one I have come to know and love, from the very first page.

This is also a story about sex and drugs and Music With Rocks In. 

Well…. 

One out of three ain’t bad. 

Actually, it’s only thirty-three per cent, but it could be worse.

The concept behind the music is that magic guides the unsuspecting soul from making the ugliest noise humanly possible to give it life, the beat, the rhythm. Pratchett humorously makes it clear that none of our protagonists have a single clue about music; but the magic takes over and guides them into becoming the rock n’ roll stars they are. Managed by none other than Cut Me Own Throat Dibbler, the band tour the Disc chasing fame… and afterwards are chased off in style by a confetti of ladies underwear and the local guards!

Meanwhile, Death has taken a break from his regular duties and as ever, is trying to discover what it is to become more human. His granddaughter steps up to take his place and inevitably, things take a turn for the worse… again!

The Death series is one of my favourites in the Discworld books, second to the escapades of the Witches. Somehow, the musings of Pratchett with regards to the nature of time add another dimension to the quirky universe and the narrative. Of course, we were still treated to meeting some of the Ankh-Morpork regulars, as is only fitting.

I also liked the way the tone was set in relation to the music. It was written in a perspective from which one understands the presence and acknowledging other people’s reaction to it, without really understanding the hype behind it all. I’ll confess I’m not a particular fan of rock music myself. Unless it’s an iconic rock song from the 80’s…say, Summer of ’69 by Bryan Adams or Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer (I am listening to this as I type), I’m not familiar at all. The rock music I do listen to is definitely my mum’s influence… they were songs she grew up with. It’s not my bag at all, so I found the viewpoint of the distant observer one I could relate to.

Whilst perfectly readable, this wasn’t one of my favourite books of the series. As mentioned above, the Witches books rank higher. Usually, if a couple of storylines are threaded together, they tend to work well with each other… but I find the storyline of Susan taking over Death’s duties and the existence of the music more… coincided than were dependent on each other. Although the book was funny and parodied the music industry (and the fame of the stars as part of it) it just didn’t quite come together in the way that I had hoped it would.
Rebecca mono

Book Review – Ekata: Fall of Darkness – Dominique Law

*** I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed are completely my own***

Ekata

Goodreads – Ekata: Fall of Darkness

On Ekata, a utopian world where violence is unthinkable, Asher has been plagued with visions of death and darkness since childhood. On his eighteenth birthday he is confronted with a life-changing prophecy which tells of a threat not only to his world, but to Earth as well.

Alexis has always felt she doesn’t belong. When an extraordinary stranger appears on her doorstep, it raises more questions than answers. If everything she thought she knew about herself was a lie, who is the real Alexis? And how could she possibly be part of an ancient prophecy?

Through startling transformation and grief, the pair defy all expectations. But when everything changes, can Asher’s humanity survive? The fate of both worlds may depend upon it.

 

I don’t think there is any way I can particularly dress up this review. I am, after all, in the business of being honest so I’ll just come out with it.

Overall, I didn’t like this book at all. I’ll start with what redeeming qualities the book did have, which brought my rating of the book up from a 1 star to a 2 star review.

I liked the concept of the world of Ekata – a world without violence. The main point of conflict within the story is a man’s desire to prevent violence on Earth… but to do so he would remove the free-will of all people. I like how the morality of such an action is called into question and how this drives the resistance party.

The tale was also well written; even if I didn’t think all that much of the content of the story all the time, what was on the page was outlined clearly so that the story was easy to follow. This also proved useful because I found myself picking it up and putting it down quite regularly, but I wasn’t hindered by this at all. I also quite enjoyed the descriptions of nature and the world-building.

Inevitably, we were going to get to the parts I didn’t like… fairly quickly, unfortunately.

This book features so many unoriginal fantasy tropes that it is not even funny. I feel like I talk about this a lot, but is it too much to ask for a little originality? This book has the classic Good vs Evil, the inexperienced young one(s) exploring their Coming of Age to face-off against the veteran… and a quest to fulfil a prophecy in order to achieve all this, tied in a neat little package with a double bow. Oh, and there’s a host of magic and a unicorn to boot! Hooray!
To say I didn’t know that some of these elements were going to play a part would be a lie; I knew it was a prophesised ‘coming-of-age’ type tale. For me though, the straw that broke the camel’ back was the budding relationship between our two MC’s.

Now, I’m a girl and I’ve been a teenager, I know how all this raging-hormone stuff works. You break out in a ridiculous amount of spots (always on the worst day imaginable) and have more mood swings than hot dinners. I can hand on heart say that if a complete stranger arrived on my doorstep, turned my world on its head and was claiming that the fate of another world rested on my shoulders, I would slam the door, bolt it and call the police I would not even remotely consider how attractive he was. Call me frigid, soulless, or even a liar if you like, but I wouldn’t… given that this is pretty much the first thought that pops into our second MC’s head from the moment we meet her, I didn’t like or relate to Alexis at all.

Unfortunately, whilst a lot of the personality traits Alexis shows in the book are indeed present in young, angsty teenage girls, the only depth of character to this tempest of emotion is a love of horses… and there is just something about girls that love horses that just smacks of “spoilt brat”. There is a quote by Terry Pratchett that I aptly read only recently, which I think sums up the whole situation entirely:-

“There is a type of girl who, while incapable of cleaning her bedroom even at knife point, will fight for the privilege of being allowed to spend the day shovelling manure in a stable.”
-Terry Pratchett, Soul Music

Asher was more tolerable than Alexis, although nothing particularly grabbed me about his personality either. I wanted to read his chapter POV’s instead of Alexis’ because I didn’t hate his, not because I was looking forward to them.

My final bugbear about the book is, as chronology would suggest, the ending. Given the whole prophecy and the weight resting on Asher and Alexis’ shoulders, you would expect something to happen, right? It has so obviously been set up for a sequel, but it felt like I endured 400 pages for nothing of consequence to happen. I was left sorely disappointed.

So, ladies and gentlemen, to summarise – if you like reading about moody, insecure and overly-hormonal teenagers, spending every free moment not training to save the world fawning over each other, then this book is definitely for you! I have no problem with negative emotions in books, if it is written well and you are truly immersed with the character. If, however, you find yourself carrying their emotional baggage like an albatross around your neck, or find them just plain bad company like the last party guest that just won’t leave, it makes for very difficult reading.

This book was not my cup of tea at all, which is a shame.
Rebecca mono

Book Review: Strange The Dreamer – Laini Taylor

This book is so many levels of adorable! I’m gutted I have to wait until November for the second part of this duology!

Strange the Dreamer

Goodreads – Strange The Dreamer

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

 

My Thoughts…

I have so many things to say about this book!!

Let’s start with the cover – it’s a good a place as any. Isn’t this edition gorgeous!!! I’ve just seen the paperback edition in one of our bookstores this weekend, but the hardback edition has my heart! I bought this last year, only a couple of months after its release and before I really got into social media with my blog, so any hype would have passed me by. I kept looking at it, again and again, vowing to read it soon but never making good on the promise until last month. When I shouldn’t have done. When I didn’t REALLY have time to.

Oh well, the heart wants what the heart wants.

I happened to get really lucky when I bought my copy of this book, because mine is SIGNED!! Don’t believe me?

img_0583
Here it is! That day I bought about five books (and was excited about them all, let’s be honest) – so much so I hadn’t even noticed this! It was only on one of the numerous occasions I picked the book up to flip through the first chapter that I saw it. It’s unusual and exciting in its own right, but given how much I love the book, now it means so much more!

Being perfectly honest, I am not normally a huge lover of YA books. For me, they have to be written well for it to work. The inevitable love interest that sparks has to avoid the typical teenage angst, moodiness and petulant behaviour (shown in another recent YA book I have read – and didn’t like as a result). Yes, there were complications to the relationship, longing between the two individuals and frustration at the circumstances… but that was justified. Neither character threw a tantrum. They both knew there was more going on in their lives than each other so the storyline wasn’t drowned; doomed to sink into the abyss of their anguish of not being able to be with each other.

I loved both of the characters. Lazlo Strange is an orphan of war, first raised by monks to become a scribe and then later on he spends his days working in a library. Aside from the overused trope that begins Lazlo’s story, (my only criticism), his life is an interesting one. If ever there was a man in my life like Lazlo Strange, (kind, bookish, inquisitive and intelligent) I would give my heart to him gladly. Lazlo is all-out adorable – and his broken nose as a result of a rogue book hitting him in the face as a youth is just the icing on the cake really.

Sarai is an interesting character shrouded in mystery – who is she? She has a great depth of character and we get to see conflicting sides of her. Her kind and honest nature comes out when she meets Lazlo, but knowing what she is capable of and the grief she is responsible for shows a revengeful side born from what has happened to her kind. She is also incredibly smart – in fact my favourite quote from the book is hers:-

“You think good people can’t hate?” she asked. “You think good people don’t kill?” Her breathing hitched, and she realised she’d crushed Lazlo’s flower in her hand. She dropped the petals into the water. “Good people do all of the things bad people do, Lazlo. It’s just when they do them, they call it justice.” She paused. Her voice grew heavy. “When they slaughter thirty babies in their cradles, they call it necessary.” 
-Sarai, Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

 

I found it near impossible to put this book down. When I first picked it up, I intended to read the first chapter as a sampler. I ended up reading all of part one, amounting to about 80 pages! I demolished the remainder of the book in a week. I don’t think I can really put into words how original and captivating this story is! I am also conscious of how much I can say because I really don’t want to spoil it for anyone who is yet to read it. The narrative flowed effortlessly and the voice of each character was clear and consistent.

If neither I nor the many other reviews of this book out there have convinced you to read this book, then I don’t think you ever will. That’s your loss. Just talking about this book makes me want to read it again! *Sigh* I’ll have to re-read before October when Muse of Nightmares is released!

Read it. You know you want to.

No really, you do!
Rebecca mono

Reading List: April 2018

Appropriately, April showers is really living up to its name as I write this post today. Winter still has it’s clutches on us though, unsurprisingly! It’s sleeting, as well as raining.
Nice. A day to stay in and read, methinks! What a better day to write about my reading list for April?
I dedicated last month’s reading list to ARC’s (with the exception of my slip up reading Strange The Dreamer). That was because this month I wanted to mix it up again this time. In amongst the requests I have, I have a list longer than my arm of traditionally published books I want to read as well. This month is dedicated to those!
As I had a slip in March, I am allowing myself one exception, as I’ll explain below. So let’s jump right in!
 

Soul Music

Soul Music
Goodreads – Soul Music

Other children get given xylophones. Susan just had to ask her grandfather to take his vest off.
Yes. There’s a Death in the family.
It’s hard to grow up normally when Grandfather rides a white horse and wields a scythe – especially when you have to take over the family business, and everyone mistakes you for the Tooth Fairy.
And especially when you have to face the new and addictive music that has entered Discworld.
It’s lawless. It changes people.
It’s called Music With Rocks In.
It’s got a beat and you can dance to it, but…
It’s alive.
And it won’t fade away.

It feels like ages since I read any of Terry Pratchett’s books. I love the satire of them and how they all are loosely based within the same universe. This particular book is in the Death series of books, which is my second favourite storyline after the Witches.
It’s been seven months since I read the last Pratchett book. This one is long overdue!!
 

Seventh Scroll

The Seventh Scroll
Goodreads – The Seventh Scroll

For 4,000 years, the lavish crypt of the Pharaoh Mamose has never been found…until the Seventh Scroll, a cryptic message written by he slave Taita, gives beautiful Egyptologist Royan Al Simma a tantalizing clue to its location.
But this is a treasure cache others would kill to possess. Only one step ahead of assassins, Royan runs for her life and into the arms of the only man she can trust, Sir Nicholas Quenton-Harper–a daring man who will stake his fortune and his life to join her hunt for the king’s tomb. Together, they will embark on a breathtaking journey to the most exotic locale on earth, where the greatest mystery of ancient Egypt, a chilling danger and an explosive passion are waiting.
Steeped in ancient mystery, drama and action, The Seventh Scroll is a masterpiece from Wilbur Smith, a storyteller at the height of his powers.

It has also been a while since I started this series! I started it on the recommendation of a colleague, and whilst the main character and narrator from the first book REALLY got on my nerves, I enjoyed the book overall. I am assured this is the best book of the series and it is set thousands of years later.
I can’t wait!
 

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Goodreads – The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas

Berlin 1942
When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

I am a complete wuss, so I think I am going to cry reading this.
It is a book I have really wanted to read for AGES, but never really had the courage to try. I know what I am like. I think I am going to struggle with it, but ultimately love it at the same time. I’m going to try and borrow this one from my library (it’ll be my first borrowed book in years!) but I suspect I’ll be buying my own copy for my bookshelves later.
 

Empire of Silence

Empire of Silence
Goodreads – Empire of Silence

Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.
It was not his war.
On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe started down a path that could only end in fire. The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives–even the Emperor himself–against Imperial orders.
But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.
Fleeing his father and a future as a torturer, Hadrian finds himself stranded on a strange, backwater world. Forced to fight as a gladiator and into the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, he will find himself fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.

Remember my exception to the rule? This technically is an ARC, but instead of reading ARC’s I have been requested to review, this is an ARC I requested from the publisher! I’m still shocked my request was accepted!
 

Children of Blood & Bone

Children of Blood & Bone
Goodreads – Children of Blood & Bone

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

By the time I have caught up with current reads, popular books tend to have come and gone. I have seen this book again and again on social media and I love the synopsis! So, I am reading it now. Not in a years time, or two, when all the buzz has died down. Now. Because I can!
 
So those are my April reads!! Have you read any of these? What did you think? What are you reading this month?
Rebecca mono