This was my first foray into historical fiction. Over the past few months I had picked up four of Philippa Gregory's Tudor novels, and so when I decidThis was my first foray into historical fiction. Over the past few months I had picked up four of Philippa Gregory's Tudor novels, and so when I decided to take a break from fantasy and finally read one of these (as I have heard good things about her), I went hunting to see if the series needed to be read in order. It doesn't, but chronologically, this one, about Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife, comes first, so happily I plucked it off the shelf and gave it a read.
My first thoughts, admittedly, weren't brilliant. Her writing style feels strange to me with the constant switching between scenes and italic monologues from Catalina. At first, this threw me off a little. Though with a bit more time I got used to it. I noticed later in the book that more and more scenes were written in Catalina's point of view and this inconsistency in the writing was a little off-putting. However, this was nowhere near as bad as the point of view switching in the middle of a scene. No warning, no line breaks. One moment we would be following Catalina and then it would switch to Henry VII. This is not brilliant writing.
That being said though, Gregory is a good story teller and aside from the odd writing error, she isn't a bad writer. I did enjoy the story, even if it may not be entirely historically accurate, so long as you know that going in, it is a good story. Of course, a lot of it will be historical fact, but I figure that if I want fact, I will read a non-fiction book which I'm entirely willing to do, especially about the Tudors. This was always my favourite point in history in school and I will always have a soft spot for the family.
The ending itself felt a little rushed. One moment she's discovered she's pregnant, then several years have passed and it seems they are attempting to annul her marriage and then it just ends. I expected a little more, admittedly, and I am a little disappointed, though I suppose if Gregory had taken it further it wouldn't have been a particularly happy ending. Either way, I have given this book 3 stars because it's an enjoyable read and not everything needs to be 4 or 5 stars after all.
As for my opinion on historical fiction: I want to read more. If other historical fiction can catch my attention like this then it's well worth reading. I did keep expecting a mysterious wizard to appear, or for Arthur to appear riding a flying dragon for a while, but I think that just means that this fantasy break was well-warranted! The weirdest part for me though is fully backing a plotline and hoping it lasts or ends, but knowing what's coming not because I know the history. It's like the ultimate spoiler....more
Ultraviolet is the story of a teenage girl with synesthesia, the neurological condition that allows her to see the world in colours, taste3.5 stars.
Ultraviolet is the story of a teenage girl with synesthesia, the neurological condition that allows her to see the world in colours, taste emotions, and hear the stars. The story begins with Alison waking up in a psychiatric hospital trying desperately to work out how she got there, and how she managed to get the scratch-marks on her arms. After a while she pieces her memories back together and remembers: she killed Tori Beaugrand. Or did she?
This is the second book I’ve read recently in which something bizarre happens and the protagonist is passed off as being mad, and this one was just as good. I like this idea. So often you read a book, something bizarre happens, and the protagonist runs off with the “mysterious guy” to solve it, but they never end up forced to see a psychiatrist, which realistically is what would happen so I’m glad it’s cropping up a little more. I also couldn’t help feeling as though the early parts of the novel in Pine Hills were a little tip of the hat to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, with the bi-polar guy showing the main character around, telling her what to avoid and who is who.
Around page 300, give or take, the story suddenly switches from one thing to something else. I found it a little off-putting, whilst I saw the twist coming it still felt a bit too quick. The build up was a little too slow, although it did give us a good insight into Alison while she discovers who she is.
All in all, Ultraviolet was a good read and I’m glad I picked it up. It’s a well-written, feel-good story with an interesting premise and it’s a gentle introduction to science fiction....more
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the story of a blue-haired art student from Prague, Karou. The strange characters in her sketchbooks, demonic looking crDaughter of Smoke and Bone is the story of a blue-haired art student from Prague, Karou. The strange characters in her sketchbooks, demonic looking creatures, a mish-mash of different animals with some human qualities, are very popular amongst her classmates, the thing they don’t realise is that these creatures are very real. Karou lives a double life, when she’s not attending art college and spending time with her best friend, Zuzana, she’s running errands for Brimstone, a chimaera who owns a shop that opens up between the two worlds. However, the gateways between this world and the chimaera’s are closing one by one, burnt hand prints appearing on doorways worldwide coming hand in hand with sightings of what can only be described as angels..
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a beautifully weaved story which feels like a work of art in itself. Taylor has created a terrifying world with extravagant races of chimaera, creatures of different beast and human aspects. Karou lives in Prague and so we experience the city through her eyes described in delicate detail and with the use of such amazing otherworldly imagery like, “The falling snow and the early hour conspired to paint Prague ghostly, like a tintype photograph, all silver and haze.” It draws you right into the world and makes you almost completely forget that this story is a product of Taylor’s wonderful imagination.
I want to explain my rating because it fluctuated so much throughout my reading of this book that I almost scrapped the rating altogether and just put the review out there. For the sake of this review, it feels as if the novel is split into three parts. See, the first part of the novel grabbed me so much and made me fall in love. The writing is fantastic, almost poetic, and the premise of the story is so utterly imaginative that I felt sure this was going to be a new favourite and I was all prepared to give it a 5 star rating. Then Akiva, an angel, came into it and I realised that this was going to be pretty heavy on the romance. Anybody who knows me at all will be aware that I’m not fond of romance, especially the all-encompassing love at first sight variety. It’s just a little too heavy for my tastes.
The more romantic the book became, the surer I was that this section, which I will call section two, was going to get a 2 star rating. It was okay, the writing was still just as wonderful, but I don’t enjoy romance, and Karou’s, “Woe is me, I’m so lonely, something is missing!” got on my nerves. The romance itself ruined it for me. It was quite a sweet romance, it just happened too fast which took away from the story for me. It also bothered me when Taylor would describe a scene from one perspective and then switch to another and describe it from their eyes. It would have worked better for me if she’d switched to the other character after that particular scene had happened and then they go over their feelings rather than describe the scene again. It made things a little repetitive in parts.
And then we have the third section which is something a little different. I liked it. It was well written and tells us a lot about the characters, their world, and the history, and it gave the novel variety, but I felt it dragged a little after a while. By the end, I was torn between giving Daughter of Smoke and Bone a 2 or maybe 3 star rating because I struggled with the last half of the book so much, but the imagination of Laini Taylor in creating this mythos and her beautiful use of language deserves so much better. If it wasn’t for the romance, which you might not be so put off by as I am, I would have given Daughter of Smoke and Bone 5 stars easily but it just wasn’t for me, so I met myself somewhere in the middle. It was an enjoyable read and I did have a little bit of a soft spot for the Romeo & Juliet feel in the last part.
I would definitely recommend you go and pre-order Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which will be released September 29th in the UK. If you don’t mind romance, it is an amazing story that deserves to be read and loved. Taylor uses language like colour to paint her story creating a beautiful atmosphere. The angels are not typical angels, they’re neither good nor evil, and the chimaera are an amazing race that you will fall in love with....more
First off, I have to say that when this book first arrived, I read the blurb, looked at the cover and thought, “meh, not really my thing”, but I fanciFirst off, I have to say that when this book first arrived, I read the blurb, looked at the cover and thought, “meh, not really my thing”, but I fancied an easy read so I picked it up, as it was after all sent for review. The reason I wasn’t initially all that interested is that I’ve been getting tired of going into young adult paranormal novels with great expectations only to be disappointed. If Bloomsbury hadn’t sent a copy over, I wouldn’t have read Deception at all. So I have to say a massive thank you to them else I never would have read this little gem, and now I can’t wait to pick up its’ sequel, Betrayal. So maybe I shouldn’t go around judging books by their covers after all!
Deception is written from the first-person perspective of Emma Vaile, a 16 year old girl whose parents go on holiday and they don’t come back. Living alone and abandoned by her best friend, Emma ends up taken to a halfway house and threatened with foster care, it’s then that she finds herself on a plane to Boston with her new guardian, Bennett Stern, the hot ex-friend of her brother’s. More and more she experiences strange goings on and more questions she needs to ask. She’s seeing people who can’t possibly be there, ghosts, experiencing visions of what seem to be a past life, and seeing nightmares, and it’s all about to unravel around her, revealing secrets she could never have imagined.
It doesn’t sound like anything special, at least it didn’t to me, but there’s the trouble. It is. It wasn’t the story that grabbed me so much, at least initially, but the way in which it was written. It’s a very quick, easy read, which is sometimes just what you need. Yet even so, Nichols has managed to give her characters depth. Just when you think you have a grasp of a character’s personality and what they’re upto, they will twist around and surprise you. Even now I don’t know the full extent of every single character. It’s fantastic because you don’t know what to expect.
She paints a beautiful picture of Emma’s surroundings, particularly Echo Point and it’s easy to picture the historical, Colonial American town as Emma makes friends and explores it. And on top of that, you have this beautifully haunting ghost story that is suspenseful and gripping. I literally couldn’t put this book down and ended up missing out on a bit of sleep because I just completely lost track of time and couldn’t bear to stop reading.
As for all that I said about hating romance in teen fiction recently? Scrap it. I found myself vying for the romantic interest in this book constantly and hoping for just a little rumpy-pumpy. I was a little surprised at myself after my recent annoyance with romance in books, however, it really worked. Emma is a teenager, with teenage hormones, and she’s bound to like the hot guys. It fits quite snugly into the plot rather than overshadowing a good story or feeling like it’s put in there just to be there, which is how I usually feel about romance in young adult fiction, and I thought it even added a lot to the emotion of Deception. I did have a little issue with the reasons for why the romance was ‘forbidden’, as mentioned in the blurb. It felt a little like a convenient plot device but I was so in love with the book that I couldn’t fault it as much as I might otherwise have done after that emotional rollercoaster towards the end. I hate that phrase, but it just fits so perfectly. This book will break your heart.
There are plenty of questions and mysteries throughout that leave you wanting to read more, just to find out what the hell is going on, and before you know it you’ve run out of book. Most questions are answered toward the end and despite how frustrated you might be in the beginning as to where everybody has gone and why this, that, and the other is happening, things are quite well wrapped up, or are at least mentioned again leaving you craving more, so if you do pick up Deception, I certainly recommend you also pick up Betrayal because you’re going to need it....more
A further month after the events of Flip This Zombie, Eat Slay Love details life after Dave’s zombie bite and subsequent cure. It worked. Dave is stilA further month after the events of Flip This Zombie, Eat Slay Love details life after Dave’s zombie bite and subsequent cure. It worked. Dave is still in one piece, he’s just a little.. different. And people are starting to notice. In particular, one stalkerazzi reporter, Nicole, who they meet. She ends up being a little more useful than expected on their way to the Midwest Wall to share the cure with somebody who could do some good with it and of course, finally, safety.
Now that I’ve read the series up to date, I can happily say that the best thing about these books for me is how quick and easy to read they are. I read all three in about a week and I’m a pretty slow reader. They’re just fun little reads and it’s so easy to pick them up for half an hour inbetween other things, and because of that they have a great re-readability. And it’s very easy to immerse yourself while reading these, which isn’t as bad as it might sound considering it’s set during a zombie apocalypse because that’s generally what you look for in a good read, though I say that and a few days after I’d finished reading them I had a zombie dream. That was pretty scary, because unlike Sarah and Dave, I don’t kick ass!
Despite the same fantastically placed obstacles that we saw in the previous two novels, I didn’t feel like this story was quite fast paced enough for me, though it was a little better than Flip This Zombie in my honest opinion. There were new characters and tight, barely-escaped from situations, but it didn’t feel like the story was really moving along very much for most of the book. And I despise the McCray character. Not because of who he is (a drug-addled rockstar), but because I really don’t enjoy the American depiction of typical Brits. There was actually a part where he picked up a baseball bat and called it a cricket bat. Those two things are nothing alike! Cricket bats have a flat-ish surface, if he was going to confuse it with anything then perhaps a rounders bat but being a rockstar known in the US, I’d imagine he knows what a baseball bat is. Brits aren’t stupid, and if the idea was that his drug-addled brain couldn’t tell the difference, that wasn’t presented very well.
I found the story picked up a lot towards the end, however, and it finally went somewhere. In fact, Eat Slay Love definitely had the most gripping ending of any of the books in the series so far (I’m assuming Jesse is writing more, it was left open for a sequel), leaving you on the edge of your seat.
The little notes at the beginnings of chapters in Eat Slay Love read like advice from a self help book for the zombie apocalypse. These don’t quite beat the zombie marital advice from Married With Zombies but are nevertheless just as light-hearted and hinting at events to come in the chapter. It makes me wonder what other kinds of advice Jesse might give us – perhaps travel advice for the zombie connoisseur?
To read Eat Slay Love, you will really need to read Flip This Zombie first just so you know what the heck is going on from the get go. I wouldn’t recommend doing so but you could maybe get away with reading them without Married With Zombies, even so I would still recommend reading all three. Jesse Petersen is clearly a massive geek and for that I will love her eternally....more
Married With Zombies has been described as a romantic comedy. I prefer to think of it more like when chick lit meets the zombie apocalypse. Does thatMarried With Zombies has been described as a romantic comedy. I prefer to think of it more like when chick lit meets the zombie apocalypse. Does that sound like basically the same thing? Perhaps, though to me it doesn’t particularly feel like a romance as much as a story about zombies with a couple going through marital problems in its midst. Each chapter gives you a new piece of marital advice for the couple living through the zombie apocalypse. These are both fitting and funny.
This is a story about a couple who are on the brink of divorce. Weekly, they see an overpriced marriage counsellor, and they are very close to giving up on each other when things start to get a bit weird. First off, they find their marriage counsellor tucking into her previous clients and have to fend her off with her own shoe before she can eat them too. Once they escape, they discover that this wasn’t just a one off thing but is in fact widespread throughout Seattle and they know they have to get out and fast. Who would have thought that all their relationship needed was a zombie apocalypse? Married With Zombies is all about Sarah and David’s journey to find safety and their family and the obstacles they have to overcome along the way.
The story is told from the perspective of Sarah, the female protagonist, with a little bit of hindsight. Though she never really says how long has passed in this one, it does give a nice touch of a developing story and it’s comforting to know that she survives at least this book, else of course she couldn’t be telling us what happened. The thing I like the most about Sarah and David is how they are just normal people with normal problems stumbling through this apocalypse together and in the face of survival, they become a little badass. Not ridiculously so, they still have their close calls and they go through an awful lot just to stay alive and that’s what makes them so perfect. Their flaws. They’re frightened, shaking, sick, in shock, as any normal person would be if suddenly their normality was overrun by zombies.
Sarah’s voice sprinkles humour throughout the story, making light of the horrible situations they inevitably keep coming across, which is especially welcome if you’re a little squeamish. There’s a lot of brain splatter and goo. Though it is a very well-balanced story. The zombie genre is treated with respect, and when the situation gets a little too horrible, Sarah ceases joking about it. Jesse Petersen gives Married With Zombies great attention to detail. She considers the little things that a lot of writers wouldn’t. Such as, you start shooting zombies, you have an efficient way to get rid of zombies, but if you’re not careful you will run out of ammo and the noise and commotion will draw more to you.
There are an incredible amount of pop culture references in here, which reminds you that this novel doesn’t take itself too seriously which was something that I particularly loved about it, though I sometimes felt that there were a few too many. I also found some of the dialogue a little bit limp. It wasn’t all bad, but these are the kinds of things that took away a little from my enjoyment of the novel.
Married With Zombies is a fun and easy to read story that I would definitely recommend to zombie fans, you will notice a lot of the same old zombie tropes in this series but the way in which it is written and the characters in it and the way they handle their situation is what makes it a great read. If you aren’t a zombie fan, read this, and you soon will be....more
A great first novel, though having read some of Matt's fiction on his blog a while back I wasn't entirely surprised. There could definitely be some imA great first novel, though having read some of Matt's fiction on his blog a while back I wasn't entirely surprised. There could definitely be some improvements but the overall story and execution were fantastic and I can't wait to read the next instalment (get writing!). Featuring vampires, shapeshifters, Japanese folklore and a little romance from the perspective of the vampire. Well worth a read.
The year is 2195 and Nora Dearly is living in a New Victorian society with all the technologies of the future, yet she is much more interested in theThe year is 2195 and Nora Dearly is living in a New Victorian society with all the technologies of the future, yet she is much more interested in the war documentaries she used to watch with her father than being proper. Little does she know her life is about to get much more interesting when the living dead come for her in the night.
I really wanted to categorise this book as a “Futuristic New Victorian Zombie Romance With A Steampunk Twist” as that is what it is, but it was just a little too long for a category sadly. There is so much going on in this novel that you really do have to read it for yourself to see what it’s like and what it’s all about because I can’t accurately sum it up.
I wasn’t in the mood to read when I picked up Dearly Departed and I thoroughly loved and enjoyed it, it may even have rekindled my then-dwindling passion for reading. The execution of this story is just perfect. It’s so easy to get into and sympathise with the characters because it is such a cleverly weaved story. I could tell from the get-go how much love and effort has gone into this novel. The world-building and characterisation is so strong and there is never a dull moment. Everything from the history to the science to the emotions and backstory of each character has been intricately thought out and it gives the story so much depth.
The best thing about Dearly Departed for me was how it didn’t feel so much like a zombie book. Of course it is, but a lot of (not all) the zombies are able to retain their personalities and live out some kind of existence. This is why the romance between Nora and Bram (good guy zombie) works so well because Bram is still who he was when he was alive. I’ll admit that beforehand I was a little worried, I’m not usually big into Victorian style worlds or zombies1, but it really worked so don’t shrug it off as ‘not your thing’ before you try it because it is a wonderful and fun novel with a sense of humour.
I would recommend Dearly Departed for people who like their fiction particularly unique and who like their romantic leads a little flawed. If you’re into a more gentle romance, without any of the love triangles, destiny, or love at first sight overwhelming stuff, that carefully backs up an exciting story with various character point of views that keep the voice fresh, then give Dearly Departed a try. I honestly think you’ll be pleasantly surprised....more
Kieran and Waverly were the first children to be born in deep space. 16 years on, they are engaged and represent the future of their ship and the humaKieran and Waverly were the first children to be born in deep space. 16 years on, they are engaged and represent the future of their ship and the human race. One day, the other ship sent forth to recolonise New Earth appears nearby, only it should be years ahead of them by now. Something definitely seems wrong, and their fears are confirmed when the New Horizon attacks, taking the girls with them and sabotaging the Empyrean as they leave, threatening to kill all of the remaining adults and the boys. Can they survive? What exactly do they want with the girls? And can Kieran and Waverly’s love survive the cruelty of human nature or are they separated for good?
There was a lot in Glow that made me feel uncomfortable. I can’t really go into what because they are spoilers, but this is definitely a dystopian space opera. Don’t let the deep space travel part put you off if science fiction isn’t usually your thing because that is by no means what makes this book.
The characters feel so real. We follow the story through two viewpoints, that of Kieran, and that of Waverly, and they see the story in completely different ways. Where Waverly might think very highly of one character, Kieran might hate the same character and vice versa. That’s how different characters would be! We connect with people on different levels and see things very differently and they would have differing opinions. It’s not something I’ve thought about before with multiple voices but more often than not, this doesn’t come up and it’s very well done in Glow.
Perhaps even stronger than the characters for me were the emotions. There is so much fear and pain running through Glow and it’s very real. You feel every emotion that they feel because it is described so well. You know their uncertainties, their hatred, their love.. everything. It’s so clear and I was so completely astounded by how well Amy presented the characters and their emotions that I couldn’t help but fall in love with this book. Not only that, but the book is full of heart-pumping action from beginning to end. By the time you might start getting bored, the viewpoint switches refreshing the narrative, it’s entirely gripping.
There is a lot of emphasis on the romance in this book in the praise, in the blurb, in reviews, however, while it is a running theme throughout, I didn’t feel as though Glow was a romance as such. It is a story of escape and survival and the cruelty of the human race with a romance weaved through the plot, but it isn’t a romance. By the end of the book there is so much left unexplained that you will long for the next in the series. If you’re a hater of cliffhangers then the ending may annoy you, but it is by no means abrupt. I’m definitely glad I read this one!
I would recommend Glow for fans of dystopian fiction. There is an awful lot behind the scenes that we don’t know yet and it’s very sinister. To me, Glow is about how absolutely terrifying humanity is and you really shouldn’t miss this one, dystopian fans. Don’t be put off by the space opera setting, it is a fantastic read....more