Argh.. Trying to sum up my thoughts on Thone of Glass is the equivalent to attempting to review Harry Potter.. TOriginally posted on Once Upon A Time.
Argh.. Trying to sum up my thoughts on Thone of Glass is the equivalent to attempting to review Harry Potter.. This one swiftly became a new favourite because it's just that good. Need more? Well okay.
I believe the word "unputdownable" was created for this very book. I was completely lost to the world while I was reading it and even for a few days after, when I couldn't possibly read anything else, I wouldn't shut up about it. Can I put my finger on what's so good about Throne of Glass? What gives it that special spark that has me raving about it this much? Not at all. But I can tell you that I can't think of a single fault with the story or the writing. Language is used so gracefully to set this wonderful atmosphere. "Still, the image haunted his dreams throughout the night: a lovely girl gazing at the stars, and the stars who gazed back." So much creativity, imagination and love has gone into this novel. That is crystal clear.
Celaena is badass. She's the world's deadliest assassin and has survived as a slave for a year where other people only survive a few months at best. She's strong-willed and clever, though underneath her hard exterior she is extremely vulnerable. She may be a killer but she is a very sympathetic character and the best part about the characterisation for me is the significant lack of angst, despite the hardships the characters go through.
Still not sold? I'm convinced this book is perfect for anybody who enjoys fantasy. There's a very sweet love interest, though it isn't overbearing and thus doesn't overpower the story. There's some dark goings on with harbingers of ancient evil. There's a competition between less-than-moral people to become the King's unquestioning champion. There's action. There's an actual kickass heroine (*gasp*). There's a glass castle. And there are dogs. It's so utterly immersive that you will find yourself having to set alarms so as not to completely lose track of time while reading, and this might be the first book in years that I have actually shouted at when it came to an end. I'll certainly be purchasing the e-novellas soon.
Before you read this book you may be interested in a pronunciation guide for a handful of character and place names. I found it very helpful, personally. I hope you enjoy Throne of Glass even half as much as I did! If you don't pick it up, expect a book bully to be on your tail very soon....more
I think I'm having a fangasm. That ending. Like.. seriously. Man. I want to go review it now but my brain's too busy gushing and plotting fan-fictionI think I'm having a fangasm. That ending. Like.. seriously. Man. I want to go review it now but my brain's too busy gushing and plotting fan-fiction that I'll never write. Everything. Just.. everything. Yes. Go pre-order it. Any doubts? Go pre-order it.
First and foremost When I Fall in Love, though you’d definitely think as much from the very festive and lovely cover art, is not a Christmas themed boFirst and foremost When I Fall in Love, though you’d definitely think as much from the very festive and lovely cover art, is not a Christmas themed book. In fact, not a single part of it is set in December. What it is is a gorgeous story about moving on from a great loss and discovering life and how to love once again, and it definitely has that magical feeling. When I Fall in Love is the kind of book that can be read and enjoyed at any time of year and as such would make a perfect Christmas present for chick lit readers.
When I Fall in Love is actually the first of Miranda Dickinson’s novels I have read but I’m definitely a convert. The warmth of her writing is simply amazing and her sense of humour makes me feel right at home. She also happened to get something in my eye once or twice.. how that happened is beyond me. It was just dust I swear.
The characters in the novel really make the story what it is. Miranda has written side characters with as much life as the heroine, including characters that make just a small cameo, and without overburdening us with too much information either. They really give us a well rounded story and I loved every moment of Cher’s dating exploits and ice cream experiments in her little retro ice cream café, Woody’s bizarre quips and speeches but ever-present minuscule fanbase from his 15 minutes of fame in the 80′s, and Torin’s sporadic appearances. I did find the way Elsie treated Torin quite annoying, if I’m honest. Every time they met, he was nothing but kind but she would take something the wrong way and an argument would ensue but I have to admit that I loved the other part of Elsie that we saw whenever she was around him. To everybody else she was nothing but sweet but he brought out her passion. And I couldn’t stop laughing at Elsie and her sister’s trip to ‘that European furniture store’. I’m not saying why though, that would spoil the fun, but I had to mention it.
While there are some sad parts, that’s inevitable with a story about recovering yourself from a great loss, When I Fall in Love is altogether an uplifting novel that I’d be happy to read by the fire or on the beach. Elsie is a lovely character and I just wanted the best for her all along. I’m also very tempted to see how many items from The List I can complete before my fiancé completely disowns me for being an embarrassing weirdo....more
Surrender was never released in the UK and as such, we Brits had to accept that our Haunting Emma collections woOriginally posted to Once Upon A Time.
Surrender was never released in the UK and as such, we Brits had to accept that our Haunting Emma collections would look something like this:
Thankfully, it is a trilogy worth making do with mismatched covers as it’s a delight to read. And I did spend a fair while making bets with myself over the colour of book three. I think I went with orange but I guess we’ll never know!
It had been a long while since I’d read Betrayal, book two of the trilogy, and so it took me a while to work out who was who, who was where, and what was going on and get back into the narrative style all over again and I didn’t feel as though previous events were re-explained very well so I do think this series works much better if you read all three in one sitting. I also found it funny reading this as I was in more of an adult chick lit mood, whereas reading the first two I was in the mood for this kind of series so the teenage angst bothered me so much more this time around but it’s still a good read.
Aside from the masses of angst and the assumption that you have a photographic memory, I also noticed an awful lot of moments in which the characters proved themselves to be glaringly oblivious. There were things that had me screaming at the book in a, “They’re behind you you dolt!” kind of style. But I felt that the fun of reading Surrender overrode my annoyances.
The Haunting Emma trilogy is the kind of series you read when you don’t want to think. You want to sit and enjoy your fantasy world and have a well resolved ending. It feels comfortable to read, the battles are fast-paced and just a little epic, and the characters are loveable and fun. It is certainly worth reading even if just the once....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
Just... amazing. My favourite book series, by a mile. I immediately went to his website to make sure he's writing book three! Guys, do not be put offJust... amazing. My favourite book series, by a mile. I immediately went to his website to make sure he's writing book three! Guys, do not be put off by the size of these books. They are SO worth it.
It feels like yonks ago I read and fell in love with this book, looking at my Goodreads page, I suppose aReview originally posted at Once Upon A Time.
It feels like yonks ago I read and fell in love with this book, looking at my Goodreads page, I suppose a month ago is a fair while, but hey that’s why I take notes and I do remember how much I absolutely adored this book, to the point that I told off Ms. Lucy on Twitter for making me actually cry and I couldn’t read anything else for three whole days afterwards and I told a random lady in Tesco to buy it because it’s really really good (as well as many other people). *ahem* Yes.
Lucy’s writing style pulls you in from the very first page when Fran is telling us about how and why her friends broke into her flat, only to be disgusted by the state they find her in, and demanding that she go on this “Eight Date Plan” while on her 3 month break from her boyfriend Michael. She has this fantastically hilarious way of wording things, and it’s such a British sense of humour. So often I’d burst out laughing at something or other1 and I’d get the “what are you laughing at?” look from my other half.
“Walking out of the building and into the cold, hard afternoon sun, I caught sight of Michael’s bottom. I’d not realized I was a bottom sort of girl until that moment but Michael’s was exquisite. Small, manly and firm, with just a hint of muscle. I wanted to cup it gently. And then firmly. And maybe give it a soft slap just to be sure.”
My only major criticism of the writing style itself was the overuse of exclamation marks. Whilst they did add a lot more excitement to the text, often they added a little too much.
Fran is just so absolutely mental and Bridget Jones-like with her clumsy, drunken, lovesick stalking ways. She has low self esteem yet loves her life and when she suspects her currently ex-boyfriend of dumping her on her birthday to date a posh, gorgeous girl called Nellie Daniels she gets a little crazy. Whilst it could all have been fixed by a simple text, it did make for a hilarious read and things wouldn’t have worked out quite the way they did. And that was a pretty freaking epic ending. I’m also completely in love with the side characters. Dave the Glaswegian cameraman who always seems to have a cigarette in his mouth and there for Fran through thick and thin. Barmy Stefania the nutty European, exact origin unknown. Duke Ellington the evil cat. And the dates! My word, they’re so hilarious! Though it isn’t all hilarity. Fran’s mother has been dealing with an alcohol problem for years and there are some very heartfelt dealings with that problem as she tried to get her mum to go to Alcoholics Anonymous. They all give the story a kick of life and it wouldn’t have been quite the same without them.
Should you read this book? Hell to the yes. There is a lot of swearing and a teeny tiny bit of sex but it’s not too adult in my honest opinion. I thoroughly believe that it’s too brilliant to miss. Often, I find chick lit has a lot of trouble with predictability but here I just didn’t see any of the twists coming and.. Kay, finished gushing. If you have a secret penchant for chick lit while nobody’s looking or a great stonking love of it, give The Greatest Love Story of All Time a go! I love it so much and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it....more
My Soul to Steal is bloody awesome. No, really. It took me a while to get back to reading this series but when I finally picked up My Soul to Steal IMy Soul to Steal is bloody awesome. No, really. It took me a while to get back to reading this series but when I finally picked up My Soul to Steal I could not put it down.
Rachel Vincent introduces a new character into the fray in My Soul to Steal, Sabine. A living nightmare. Literally. And Nash’s ex-girlfriend. Just what Kaylee needs when she’s trying to overcome her and Nash’s problems from My Soul to Keep, right? Wrong. Sabine is one of those characters that you love to hate. She’s so… UGH! Frustrating. She’s a single-minded girl, which isn’t always a good thing, and she’s most certainly not afraid of hurting people in getting what she wants if they get in her way and she really makes me want to slap her something silly. And the fact that Nash spends so much time with her when Kaylee is clearly uncomfortable with this and he is trying to get her back.. well.. *facepalm* The boy’s an idiot. What can I say. After only a couple of weeks, Sabine and Nash expect Kaylee to go back to trusting and loving Nash, or to leave him. Relationships are not that simple and Kaylee has definitely not had enough time or space to forgive Nash.
Rant Warning. I’ve read a lot since my review of My Soul to Keep from people who really like Nash and can’t understand why people don’t like him and I have to reiterate my feelings on this. He had sex with Kaylee when a hellion was possessing Kaylee’s body and she had no control over herself or her actions and no knowledge that she was anything but asleep, and a part of him knew that, he was just too high to care. He tried to influence her into having sex with him when she wasn’t ready and not consenting. When she shook it off and told him no, he insulted her. In what twisted world is that okay? If somebody is not consenting to sex, it is rape. You can’t blame Kaylee for his Frost addiction, she made a mistake, a horrible one, yes, but she hardly held him down and released Demon’s Breath in his face, did she? It wasn’t her fault, and there’s really no excuse for what Nash did. It’s up to her if she chooses to forgive him, but she’s struggling with that and I 100% understand why she struggles to trust him. Perhaps she should have visited him when he was coming off Frost, but it’s understandable why she’s so uncomfortable after the things he did to her and the way he treated her. Rant Over.
Saying all of that, I love that the Soul Screamers series has me thinking so much about the characters, their relationships and how they deal with everything. I love that it makes me feel so passionately. Rachel Vincent has done an amazing job of creating three dimensional characters that you care about and you hate and hell, at times, I don’t mind Sabine. I want Kaylee to be okay, and Emma, and Tod, and even Nash, because they aren’t perfect. It’s so hard to create characters with imperfections that readers still care about and Ms. Vincent has done this perfectly.
Seriously, why hasn’t Soul Screamers been optioned for the screen yet? Can you imagine the Netherworld on the big screen or even the little one? It would be amazing....more
Fall of Night, Fall of Night.. not quite as bad as Bite Club, but no where near as good as Bitter Blood. In fact, thiFirst posted to Once Upon A Time.
Fall of Night, Fall of Night.. not quite as bad as Bite Club, but no where near as good as Bitter Blood. In fact, this is a Morganville novel of two parts. The part where Claire is alone in this new town, and the part where everybody suddenly appears. The first part was just kind of boring.. sorry, but Morganville without Myrnin and Eve et al just isn't the same. But then the second part woke up and we have a Morganville book that is once again fast paced and unpredictable and that made up a bit for the first half.
The thing I love most about the Morganville books is how easy to read they are. No matter what mood you're in, how tired you are, they are easy, fun reads that are readable where many other books aren't at certain times and I will always love them for this.
At the end of Bitter Blood, Amelie releases Claire, allowing her to leave Morganville to seek out more at MIT. Oliver is exiled for the part he played in her potential downfall, despite him being under the control of Naomi at the time, and Shane is most definitely in Claire's bad books after seriously believing that she would cheat on him with Michael. I was pretty excited to see where all of this would lead in Fall of Night and I was under the impression that Shane would be going with Claire. I was wrong. She decided that she needed some space to get over the hurt he did her and somewhat teach him a lesson that she wasn't so weak as to just forgive him. I thought she was being a little bit stubborn but at the very least, she stood her ground. Good girl. Still, I found her whiny and ridiculous, more so than usual.
There's a whole host of new characters. Claire is to be roomates with her old best friend from high school, Liz. Though the moment we meet her, something is wrong. She's high maintenance and thus very difficult to be around for Claire, especially as she is trying to be something she evidently isn't, and seems to be very up and down with her moods. Claire can tell something has happened to this girl in the time Claire was in Morganville, and this guy stalking her isn't helping matters. There's the professor lady Claire's to be working with who was once an assistant of Myrnin's also. She seems pretty trustworthy, which let's face it, doesn't mean a thing in a Morganville book. Then there's Jesse and Pete who are an awesome pair of characters, who help professor lady and work in the same bar Shane does. Yeah, that's right. Shane ignored Claire's wishes and followed her to keep an eye on her. Kind of sweet, also kind of wrong. I'm still not sure what I think of this.
We start hearing talk about the Daylight Foundation, who I'm unsure about. Sure they are the ultimate bad guy for the vampires, but I don't think they'll be any where near as interesting as Bishop or the Draug in my honest opinion, though they're pretty ruthless.. which is in their favour as a bunch of scary bad guys. At the end of the day, this is the last Morganville book before the grand finale and even if it's not the best instalment so far, you absolutely must read it before Daylighters, which is going to be all kinds of epic if that massive cliffhanger at the end of Fall of Night reveals anything. Oh and what was with that vicious dog bite of Shane's? It's referred to throughout the book but nothing is ever really revealed about it. Is he a were-dog now? Some kind of super vamp killer? Was it just a rapid dog? What? I felt that storyline just kind of floundered, and sure, if it's going to be looked at later on but it needed something a little more in this book for all of the build it got.
As I said on here when I finished reading Fall of Night, and I quote, "Hmm. The first half wasn't as good as usual but then it all started happening and it got pretty intense and.. blam. I just. CLIFFHANGER. Gah."...more
I love this! It's masterfully written and unpredictable. I worried it was becoming linear at one point but I was very very wrong. And so wel4.5 stars.
I love this! It's masterfully written and unpredictable. I worried it was becoming linear at one point but I was very very wrong. And so well wrapped up at the end. Can't wait to see what Knife Sworn and Tower Broken have to offer. :)
For 17-year-old Blair Reynolds and her friends, being the bearer of secrets is getting really old. But it’s something she learns to deal with, becauseFor 17-year-old Blair Reynolds and her friends, being the bearer of secrets is getting really old. But it’s something she learns to deal with, because there’s no other option. If the people in her small town ever found out what she and her friends discovered in the woods and hid in the storage room, the whole town would be up in arms, literally. You see, folks here don’t believe in aliens from outer space. Besides, if they ever found out what two of those aliens did to one of their own, well, let’s just say what would follow would be all out war. As the months unfold, their summer becomes consumed with secrets, puzzle pieces that don’t quite fit together, and a fight for their lives that leaves one of them at death’s door.
The thing that first drew me towards Cicada, its’ gorgeous cover and book trailer, are also a perfect representation of what makes it such a unique read: its’ beauty. We follow Blair and her friends, who are a year older then she is, through their last Summer together before they go off to college and leave her behind. They have some dorky teenage fun, they discuss their futures beneath the stars alongside the music of the cicadas, and they come across a crop circle which is just the beginning of the weirdness and their struggles.
My issues with Cicada began with the characters. I struggled to feel much of a connection to them, we are simply thrust immediately into their world and expected to care with no real reasons given as to why until much later on in the book and I honestly felt more time could and should have been put into developing the characters and their story. Still, I found myself laughing with them and wondering with them. I also wanted to slap them upside the head at times, but that’s just me. There are a couple of things that go unexplained in Cicada as well which I couldn’t make much sense of. I understand that they will be touched upon again in Firefly (they will, right?!), but it felt incomplete, and the weaving of plot points sometimes felt a little choppy. I also wasn’t fond of how over-protective the guys are of Blair and Natalie. The chivalry is nice, and it does make sense especially considering they are in a small town in Texas, but I really like female characters who can hold their own. To my great joy and relief, Blair does manage that in places and I did really grow to love her as a character as she tried to take matters into her own hands. Sadly the romance fell flat for me until I heard a few songs that Belle sent my way and then it suddenly made more sense. They all have their own stories and purposes and I look forward to Blair’s enlightenment because I need to know what happens!
What I really loved about Cicada, what really pulled me in, was the absolutely wonderful story. It’s well-balanced and the pacing is good once you get into it a little. There are many tense and suspenseful moments that create excitement and plenty of foreboding and secrets, though it’s dark, it never gets too dark as there are a lot of interspersed lighter moments. I haven’t come across a story like Cicada before and by the end I was pining for the next book. I may even have cried out when I realised it had come to an end, and what an abrupt ending! Belle is evil. Trust me on that one. It is the kind of book that grips you in and you don’t quite realise it at first until you find yourself just needing to know what happens. Belle is definitely one to watch, she’s wonderfully imaginative and a good writer....more
Oh my god, I was so sad when I pressed ‘next’ on my Kindle and it said ‘END’! It was so unexpected and I was thoroughly enjoying reading Pyxis so I waOh my god, I was so sad when I pressed ‘next’ on my Kindle and it said ‘END’! It was so unexpected and I was thoroughly enjoying reading Pyxis so I was not happy to have to put it down because it is a fantastic read.
I will admit though, I wasn’t sold immediately. For the first say.. 25% of the book I just felt as though everything was too rushed. The characters weren’t developed enough, the plot was moving too fast with no real explanations as to why we should care about what was happening to Corinne and Angeline and I was worried that I’d have to come back and write a fairly critical review because it wasn’t entirely making sense to me. But thankfully, my fears weren’t to be worried about because after that part of the novel I was utterly enthralled. Little things started to be revealed, character depth was brought in by the bucketload, and the plot unravelled itself, culminating in a novel that I couldn’t put down. I read the rest of Pyxis in two sittings and now I’m craving more so bad. Enough of the story is revealed to satiate your curiosity, but enough is left open to leave you absolutely pining for the next book and yes, it has the cliffhanger from hell.
Pyxis begins with a school bake sale along with some conversation between Corinne, the protagonist, and her friend Angeline and it is simply delightful. Some of the people who buy Corinne’s cakes start acting very strange towards her, and herself and Angeline decide that they need to find out why. The narrative is directed from Corinne’s point of view and it’s very clear that she is a teenager going by the style, which is very easy to read and gives it a nice light-hearted edge. Pyxis is fun and a pleasure to read but there is also a lot of terror in there as well. The shared dreams between Corinne and Mason had me biting my nails at times, they are so.. if you’ve ever had a nightmare you know what I mean. It’s not all fantasy and struggles, the story is interspersed with the normality of family, driving tests and dances which only makes the story feel more real. Aside from the small part that felt too rushed to me, Pyxis is fantastically written and the flow is pretty much perfect. I did panic a little when it seemed that the story was going the way of Corinne and Mason being destined to be together but the way everything ended up going fit into the story so well that it didn’t bother me at all. The romance isn’t “insta” and she does seem to have a choice, and she struggles with it, which definitely won me over. Corinne’s friendship with Mason is so warming that I think I might be a little in love with him! He is totally swoonworthy and the relationship they have is so sweet and real.
The thing that ultimately made the story feel so very real was that everything seems to have a backstory, even the things that I may have thought clichéd at first (dream sequences, bitch girl Sophie), but they all have their purpose and by the end I absolutely took that back. I just don’t know where K.C. Neal is going to take this story next and that is what makes it so thoroughly brilliant. This is a story with depth and history and the characters just come to life straight off the pages. We discover what is going on and what things are as Corinne does and she is appropriately freaked out and misbelieving of everything, it’s not until she gets proof that she believes and so the title is entirely apt. This is the discovery of the pyxis. I get the feeling that these books (The Discovery, The Peril, The Battle – tentative) as a series are the beginning, middle, and end as opposed to the books themselves containing that. It’s a pretty different way to write a trilogy and I like it.
And finally? At the time of writing this review, there isn’t a single review on Goodreads below 3 stars. Not bad, eh? I can definitely recommend this book. If you like young adult fantasy with a little bit of romance and a unique story, then read Pyxis. Trust me, it is worth it....more
Spoiler Warning: The following review and/or blurb may contain or does contain spoilers for previous books in the series.
What happens when just aboutSpoiler Warning: The following review and/or blurb may contain or does contain spoilers for previous books in the series.
What happens when just about every enemy that cowed the vampires has been defeated and as your last act, you piss them off? Well of course you lose favour with the most powerful vampire in Morganville and go back to square one, but worse. Living in fear of what lurks in the dark. And the light. See, Eve and Michael's marriage at the end of Black Dawn didn't just annoy the vampire population who see a human rising above her station but also the human population who see a human resorting to the lowest thing possible. Siding with them. So once again, the residents of the Glass House have a problem, and as a result Bitter Blood is non-stop. So much happened in this book it was impossible to put it down. We have mayoral elections, chipped ID cards, free hunting passes for vampires, a ghost hunting show in town at the wrong time, and an almost bearable Monica who is running for mayor alongside a new Captain Obvious. Oy. "Only Monica could think Vote for me or I'll break your leg is a decent campaign slogan." Morganville has become a distinctly darker place and it's better than ever.. for us at least.
We still see the story through the different character's viewpoints which, while handled much better than in Bite Club, I'm still unsure about. I did enjoy seeing inside the mind of Myrnin and really seeing how crazy he is and a little bit of why, but I don't know. I suppose I like to be kept guessing about some things. Still, Bitter Blood is fantastically written and I don't exactly fault it for its' different viewpoints I'm just a little bemused as to why Claire's narrative is in third person and everybody else's in the first.
Yet again, a fantastic Morganville installment. I know I keep saying this, and I might say it for Fall of Night too, but Bitter Blood really is the best yet. By the time I'd finished reading I just couldn't read anything else....more
Victoria Lamb has tackled a period of history with very little factual detail, Queen Elizabeth I’s visiOriginally posted to my blog, Once Upon A Time.
Victoria Lamb has tackled a period of history with very little factual detail, Queen Elizabeth I’s visit to Kenilworth Castle in the Summer of 1575, and produced The Queen’s Secret. A novel that seeks to join the few facts there are with speculation and her own creations and she has done a fantastic job with it.
The Queen’s Secret is a novel of forbidden romance, an assassination plot, and the innocent young girl at the heart of it all, Lucy Morgan. Lucy is a young black court entertainer who encounters much racism because of her skin colour, constantly pushed to the back and hidden so as not to ‘frighten her majesty’. This is in fact how she meets Tom, also black, one of Lord Leicester’s stable boys. They are fascinated by each other, and it is Tom she is with when Leicester asks her to sing for the Queen, to become a part of her inner circle.
I felt as though the novel had a slightly slow start but knowing me that could easily have been because I needed to get my head around the lack of werewolves and magic. It had been a long time since I had read a historical fiction novel and the last one I read was a Philippa Gregory which really lacked in flow. Well, once The Queen’s Secret got going, I couldn’t help but compare it. Victoria has none of those yawnworthy information dumps Philippa Gregory seems to love so much and has such a great flow to her prose that I barely noticed I was reading a novel with multiple perspectives. And her descriptions bring Kenilworth Castle to life and set the mood for the period perfectly.
One of these character perspectives we get access to, aside from Lucy’s of course, is Elizabeth’s. History has immortalised her as a great Queen, so it’s easy to forget that she was also human. Victoria reminds us that she was a woman with needs and wants, that she wasn’t heartless, she did love, but she was also jealous with a short temper just like her father even though she strived to be different from him. She has been painted here as a selfish, churlish character who was generally dislikeable and I really liked this way of looking at her.
Robert (Lord Leicester) and Lettice’s forbidden romance is very sweet, but I also found their sneaking around despite everybody else to be a bit selfish so it was a dilemma for me whether to side with Lettice or disregard her as a cheater. It took me a while to decide whether I thought Lettice was just a selfish piece of work or a woman in life looking for something good, but by the end I’d quite firmly landed on her side. Her husband mistreats her horribly and she’s desperately in love with Robert, while the Queen just comes across as insecure and spoiled. Maybe you’ll think differently when you read it. And then there’s Robert with his vastly extravagant and colourful royal welcome, inviting along top performers and putting on shows and fireworks displays in an attempt to woo the Queen once and for all to marry him, yet quite pompously, he continues sneaking around with Lettice Knollys and dragging poor Lucy in the middle. He’s quite the rogue.
Then of course we have the assassination plot afoot that Goodluck, Lucy’s delightful guardian and spy for the crown, is trying to help Elizabeth’s spymaster uncover and stop. This plays off the romance very nicely, giving the story more meat. Lucy finds herself involved in this too when she’s just trying to stay on everybody’s good side but becoming completely overwhelmed because there is so much more going on in the Tudor courts than she ever could have imagined, much of it quite dangerous when all she wanted to do was sing. She may be young, but she’s not stupid. While her decisions might not always be right, she believes in them. She’s a strong character that I’m eager to see more of.
If you enjoy a good historical novel, particularly you Tudor history lovers out there, I’m positive that The Queen’s Secret is one for you....more
How to review this without spoilers... That's quite a difficult one isn't it. Reviewing the last in a series without spoiling the ending because all yHow to review this without spoilers... That's quite a difficult one isn't it. Reviewing the last in a series without spoiling the ending because all you want to do is discuss how everything was wrapped up, what you thought of the way such-a-body acted, what was sad, what made you smile. I guess I can safely say that Hobb is fantastic at letting her story fall into place. Giving justice, sadness, and happiness in equal measures, ending her story as it began - balanced. And to me, it almost did come around in a circle, starting the way it began. I think the best literature successfully mirrors itself.
The first half of the novel was a struggle, I will admit. I felt as thought the same times were happening again and again and I almost took a break from it, right in the middle, and then something changed and the story dusted itself off and got going again, and I didn't quite expect it to go where it did. Some things I anticipated all along, some things weren't even trying to be twists, which is fine, not every change in a story should be a twist, but the things that you don't expect, you really don't expect, or perhaps you're given plenty of clues, and you have an inkling, but even so, the twist comes and slaps you in the face, mocking you for missing it so easily.
Hobb is a genius with words, and though I'd probably have rated this one more at 4.5 stars for the first half of the novel, the ending was brilliant and ended the Farseer trilogy perfectly, and so it was closer to 5 than 4, based on the ending and her writing style alone. If you haven't read it yet and like fantasy, I recommend you go and get yourself a copy of Assassin's Apprentice....more
The UK finally get The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland! I’ve been pining after this book sincThis review was originally posted to Once Upon A Time.
The UK finally get The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland! I’ve been pining after this book since it was just a young ARC in the US so when Constable & Robinson contacted me offering a review copy I may have jumped up and down waving my hands in the air going, “Ooh! Ooh! Yes please! *kisses feet*” And by golly it didn’t disappoint. It’s as bizarre and fantastic as the blurb and cover art leads you to believe.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland (in a Ship of Her Own Making) is an utterly nonsensical, charming, and of course, brilliant book with possibly the longest title I have ever seen. The characters are utterly bursting with colour, there are little things throughout that had me giggling and at one point almost in tears, and Fairyland itself.. wow. Fairyland is a fantasy world that is entirely conscious of what it is: a fairy tale world. And while knowing this, lovingly stroking it like a precious cat. It is charming and fantastic, simultaneously it’s dark and terrifying. September, the protagonist, I didn’t entirely love but that was most likely because I was way too busy loving everything else in the book. Catherynne M. Valente has such imagination that you are able to completely lose yourself in Fairyland.
If you haven’t read this yet, whatever your reading preferences may be, I suggest you do so. Recommend your local libraries order copies in and tell every book worm you know that this is a great book for young and old readers. It’s a modern fairy tale reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz with just a dab of darkness at its’ heart, just enough to rock your emotions. It is exactly the kind of book that if you don’t put down quickly, you won’t at all and it ends in such a way that everything is well wrapped up and you’re a happy reader, but it leaves a way in for a sequel. I only wish there were more books like this one!...more
In The End features Fallen Angel Lucien enjoying his life on Earth, unaware that the apocalypse is near until the signs get too much. So once the RaptIn The End features Fallen Angel Lucien enjoying his life on Earth, unaware that the apocalypse is near until the signs get too much. So once the Rapture has happened he drives over to the spot of the Final Battle and waits. This is when he meets the Angel Lalael, a reject in the Higher Realms, who limped away from the battle to catch a breather and is determined that Lucien is out to kill him. Of course, Lucien sees him as petulant and when they both end up abandoned and stuck on Earth, they stick together out of necessity.
The first thing I have to praise is the opening. This opening was the excerpt Alex sent to me when she first asked if I'd like to review her book and I was so sucked into the prose that I was left feeling a little jarred when it ended. That's how I knew we were onto a winner with In The End and Alexandra Rowland. The opening is very Douglas Adamsesque without trying too hard to be him. It's lightly humorous with a unique plot and Alex's own, very comfortable voice.
My main issue with it was that I felt something was missing. You know when you're reading a book and it's great, you like it, but something isn't quite there and you can't put your finger on it? That. I also felt as though description was lacking a little. I struggled to create decent mental images quite often the way I usually do when reading. It is not effortless to imagine many of the things in this book. It took most of the novel to create any real kind of mental image of Lucien.. though once I did I realised he was one sexy Fallen, but that's neither here nor there.
Despite some of the issues I had with description, I have to give kudos for characterisation. Alex really brought these characters to life. Lucien and Lalael have been left on Earth after the final battle between Riel and Rielat and whether Lalael likes it or not, they have to stick together. Lalael doesn't instantly trust Lucien, in fact, I'm not convinced he realises the point when he does start to trust him but when it happens he does so begrudgingly. Lucien I find a funny little character. He's not as messed up as I'd expect somebody with his history to be, instead he's actually quite kind for a Fallen Angel. He has a cat called Antichrist and he cares about Lalael. Lalael's change almost made the novel for me. I was worried I'd have to count his character as a lost cause but then something happened and I found myself liking him more than Lucien which I really didn't expect because Lucien is awesome.
Alexandra Rowland has taken Douglas Adams, Neil Gaiman, and mixed them up in her own fictional pot of voodoo with her own particular brand of spices. I recommend In The End if you're a fan of Neil Gaiman style fiction. It's a really unique novel well worth a read....more
The Black Company was first published in 1984 and one of the first of its' kind, influencing such fantasy authorsFirst published on Once Upon A Time.
The Black Company was first published in 1984 and one of the first of its' kind, influencing such fantasy authors as Steven Erikson. Yet somehow, I hadn't heard of it until it was chosen as the Fantasy Faction Book Club's book of choice for February. As it's described as being a dark and gritty epic fantasy, as well as such an influential novel, I went ahead and found a decently priced second hand copy of the omnibus to join in.
It is a story about a company of mercenaries called 'The Black Company' who do what they are paid to do, and in this case end up in commission to the so called bad guys, the Ten Who Were Taken led by the enigmatic Lady. It twists black and end epic fantasy on its' head, making us wonder if good and evil are really quite what they seem. The members of the Black Company are men running away from their pasts and prefer to keep these unfortunate histories to themselves. They are very human. They get bored, cold, uncomfortable, stuffy. They aren't superheroes able to ride horses for days on end, cooking up a stew in the space of about half an hour. They struggle. And there's this unspoken camaraderie which makes you root for them.
Dat Writing Style I found the writing style immediately jarring which made it quite difficult to get into as it felt as though many things were being skipped over, and there is no real flow to the prose. In fact, if this weren't a book club read I might have put it down but thankfully the story picked up in chapters 3-4 so it is worth sticking with it. And once you get used to the style, it feels as though Croaker, our protagonist, is telling you all about this section of the Company's history in a very direct and to the point way.
There were many twisting revelations towards the end which cemented The Chronicles of the Black Company as a series I will keep reading because I now need to know what happens next. Though the final battle really fell flat with this no-nonsense prose style, it just felt boring. The Black Company's strengths lie with its' characters and their relationships with each other.
Characters Worth Mentioning Croaker is our main guy. The Company's Physician and keeper of the Annals, the histories of The Black Company. And he more or less writes Lady fan-fiction. Nobody sees her apart from the Taken and as she is so mysterious, Croaker finds himself garnering quite an obsession with her. While he wasn't the most interesting of characters, we stick with him regardless as he sees so much more than anybody else in the Company.
One-Eye and Goblin are two of the Company's wizards and we can often find them bickering and pulling epic pranks on each other, constantly trying to one-up each other. While I have seen a few say that this annoyed them, I found it a nice excursion from the Company's boredom, and it's pretty funny as well in an otherwise dark novel.
Raven is an immediately interesting character, promising to do away with his past issues before joining the Company. Once he has done so he is oddly quiet, always fiddling with his knives and being friendly with the Captain. It's almost as though he doesn't wish to become too close to the Company, keeping his ruthlessness to himself.
Soulcatcher was perhaps the most interesting of the Taken. Covered from head to toe and speaking with many different voices, we don't know if Catcher is a man or a woman or something else entirely. Most intriguing is those voices. It is said that they are the voices of all of the souls Catcher has taken but it is never quite covered. All in all, an enigma of a character and the member of the Ten who most seems likely to side with the Black Company.
Overall, I liked it. It's not a new favourite by any means but I would definitely recommend The Black Company to epic fantasy readers....more
I decided it would be best if I rate these separately even if I am reading them in the omnibus, because they are separate stories.
Sword of Shannara fiI decided it would be best if I rate these separately even if I am reading them in the omnibus, because they are separate stories.
Sword of Shannara finished, whilst I found the narrative way too descriptive of the landscape making it a little too heavy-going, and the perspectives of characters switched a little too frequently, sometimes mid-paragraph, the story was brilliant. I'll give it 3.5 stars, because it was difficult to read but the story was worthwhile. I look forward to reading Elfstones, but for now I need a break!...more
I first read The Colour of Magic when I was about 13 or 14. At the time I didn't really enjoy it or take much in, so a fair few years on I decided toI first read The Colour of Magic when I was about 13 or 14. At the time I didn't really enjoy it or take much in, so a fair few years on I decided to reread the Discworld books I'd read as a kid.
The Colour of Magic is of course excellent, and Pratchett is a genius. It is funny, and engaging, I'm glad I reread it, even if it did take me a few months and a break to read a few more books inbetween. Now for The Light Fantastic, its' follow up....more
Okay guys, I started off thinking this was yet another clichéd, overrated young adult novel not worth all the hyOriginally posted on Once Upon A Time.
Okay guys, I started off thinking this was yet another clichéd, overrated young adult novel not worth all the hype it has gained. I’d seen the vampire ruling a town thing before in Morganville and there are so many post-apocalyptic dystopian novels around at the moment that I just couldn’t see myself coming to like The Immortal Rules. However, I was convinced otherwise pretty damn quickly.
Allison is actually a kick-ass heroine set to rival the likes of Buffy and whilst I didn’t see her as more than a regurgitated Katniss at first, she soon proved to be a hell of a lot more. She has good reason to be selfish in the beginning and eventually proves herself as the kind of character you can really get behind, agreeing with her methods. We follow her inner struggles, though they don’t overcome the entire novel, they’re just a fact of her becoming a vampire despite despising the creatures, and her decisions which whilst sometimes backfire horrendously do make a lot of sense.
The vampires are creatures worth hating, treating human beings as blood cattle, taking the ‘lucky’ few in to keep as thralls, pets that will do their biddings, and to run their closed off cities for them. They are slimy, horrid and purely out for their own gain. The rabids are terrifying. These are zombie-like creatures that live outside of the cities, though so much scarier. Faster, stronger, more powerful, but just as taken over by a craze for living flesh and blood as the zombies we know and love. They aren’t zombies. I have to reiterate that. But in the post-apocalyptic world, they reminded me vaguely of the swarms of walking dead. But so much worse.
The post-apocalyptic world and how it came to be is fascinating and horrifying and fantastic. Old shells of cities have become vampire-run towns with Kings and Councils. The suburbs have become ruins with stores of hundred year old canned goods for the Unregistered humans to scavenge. These are also the most likely places to find rabids as they tend to stay near human colonies, hoping for them to stumble into their midst. Whilst they aren’t clever, they have caught on to how their prey lives.
The Immortal Rules is well-written throughout. I am very glad I made myself read this and I am now going to book bully you guys into reading it as well. It is a unique piece of fiction which deals so well with the issues featured and I promise, it is most definitely not “yet another clichéd, overrated young adult novel”, it is so much more....more
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
This book was an enjoyable read, and it was very well written - not too easy, and not too difficult, just about right. The characters were loveable, tThis book was an enjoyable read, and it was very well written - not too easy, and not too difficult, just about right. The characters were loveable, the settings were suitable - sometimes of the inner city, and sometimes much more beautiful and/or awe inspiring.
However, I found it a little too predictable. I think I'd worked out almost the entire book from the word go, and I don't usually manage that because I don't like to think too hard for fear of spoiling a good story. Whilst the story was, to me at least, original, and interesting (else I doubt I'd have completed it), it was mostly focusing on two major themes, which intermingled. I also felt the ending was a little bit.. 'meh', to not give any spoilers.
I do think this is the kind of book that you really need to make up your own mind about, because I couldn't tell if one person may or may not like it. Though I loved the Phouka, and I believe Rachel McAdams would make a brilliant Eddi in a film adaptation. I've given the 'War for the Oaks' 2 stars, for 'it was ok', because it was a good read but it didn't really wow me....more
Did I really just read a 1,000 page epic fantasy novel in 2 weeks? Wow. I expected that to take me a month, but see, that's the thing with Patrick RotDid I really just read a 1,000 page epic fantasy novel in 2 weeks? Wow. I expected that to take me a month, but see, that's the thing with Patrick Rothfuss. He is such an utter genius with words that you can't help but be completely drawn in by them, completely tantalised in the story. There is a story on the cover jacket from Ursula Le Guin that sums it up much better than I could, and she is spot on: "It is a rare and great pleasure to find a fantasist writing not only with the accuracy of language that is essential to fantasy-making, but with true music in the words as well. Wherever Pat Rothfuss goes with the big story that begins with The Name of the Wind, he'll carry us with him as a good singer carries us through a song." I have a feeling this is a quote from the Name of the Wind jacket, but I believe I might well have a first printing of that one so there aren't many quotes on my copy.
The characters who we already know from The Name of the Wind have been developed a little further. Wil and Sim have a lot more character to them than they did in book one, and I found myself really despising Denna. The newer characters to the story are a lot more well built than sub-characters in the first book. It's nice to see Rothfuss' growth as a writer in that sense.
As for the story, I found myself utterly enthralled in parts, and a little bored in others. However, Rothfuss never seems to fail to bring my attention back with a change in pace, perhaps an interesting conflict thrown in, sometimes even a change in scenery. That is what keeps the story feeling fresh and enjoyable to read, and that is why The Wise Man's Fear is as good as, if not a little better than, The Name of the Wind. ...more
As Naithin said, The Hero of Ages started out much better than The Well of Ascension, and was generally a much more well-written novel. Though the thiAs Naithin said, The Hero of Ages started out much better than The Well of Ascension, and was generally a much more well-written novel. Though the thing that really bothered me was how much repetition Sanderson seems to use. He really likes to hammer certain points home to the point that by about halfway through the novel I was sat alone on the sofa shouting at the book in my hand saying, "Yes! I bloody know all of this you tell us every damn time we meet that character. Get to the sodding point already!" Luckily, in the last 200-300 pages, that becomes a much less prominent point to the writing and with the annoying repetition gone, I once again found myself as gripped as I was in The Final Empire, which is what eventually made me decide to give this one a 4.5 star rating. If it wasn't for the repetition, and the whiny, droning on through the novel, it would easily have been a 5. I know the whining was appropriate, but a novel needs at least a little hope, else it becomes a struggle to read. This is actually something I considered - why books 2 and 3 weren't as good as book 1. They didn't have Kelsier. He gave the story a little bit of light, some humour. Without him, the characters just didn't seem driven and the narrative wandered off somewhere. The story doesn't grip me when everything seems hopeless, even though I'm well aware that a well loved author wouldn't write a story in which everything and everybody died, because that really would suck, but still, I'm sure you understand my point.
There were a heck of a lot of moral messages paramount in these novels which really hit home in this book. There's a lot about religion, about having hope, which didn't really affect me so much as I'm not all that religious, but this is a prominent part of the story, and the idea that it's hope, not belief itself, that helps people through tough times is a pretty good moral message to put in there, I think. There was also another one I noticed, which I'm not even sure was intentional, but the more I read fantasy, the more my view on capital punishment changes. I used to believe that for really bad crimes it was a good thing but lately my view is changing. Sure, if it's going to save people, I agree with it, but otherwise, this underlying message seems to say, "Who are we to choose when people should and shouldn't die, does that make us any better than murderers?" I'm not convinced it was intentional, but it's there.
All in all, a series well worth a read. I've heard that The Way of Kings is a lot better than these books, so I can't wait to eventually get my hands on a copy of that one....more
I picked up Billy and Me after I had finished a fantastic book and was looking for something that couldOriginally posted on my blog Once Upon A Time.
I picked up Billy and Me after I had finished a fantastic book and was looking for something that could follow it. I made my usual piles of potentially good reads and started reading first paragraphs when I realised I'd inadvertently read the entire introduction of Billy and Me which pretty much secured it as my next read. Here we have a heroine who grew up with Tiny Tears dolls, Mr Blobby and the Spice Girls but became shy and withdrawn around the age of 11 and found a love of books. This is the kind of heroine I can relate to and I knew right away that I had to read this as I have quite a bit of trouble finding relateable heroines in chick lit.
"Giovanna has burst on to the scene with all the emotional impact of Jojo Moyes and the lightness of touch of Jenny Colgan." Says Billy and Me's press release. How right they are.
Billy and Me is an absorbing tale of romance, friendship, and finding your place in the world. The story follows Sophie May, a young lady who happily works away in Tea on the Hill, a teashop in the small village of Rosefont Hill where she lives. She looks after the quirky old women who frequent the teashop and her best friend is Molly, the lady who owns the teashop and has a heart of gold. One day a movie crew filming a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, one of Sophie's favourite books, sweeps into town and she becomes enamoured with Billy Buskin, the main star, teen heartthrob, and gorgeously sweet guy, after he calms her down from a panic attack.
I found this novel utterly gripping. More than once, my other half would come to bed around 2am and find me still snugged up with my reading light on. I hated having to put it down but in hindsight it stretched the book out a little more which is of course a good thing!
Sophie and Billy are amazing together. Billy worships the ground Sophie walks on and Sophie isn't entirely sure why because she's "just normal" (this is just one of the reasons I wanted to slap some confidence into her but her lack of confidence was a realistic part of her character) and I found myself awwing at Billy almost constantly. He's so lovely! We get to follow as Sophie becomes a part of his life and really doesn't fit in with all the glitz and glamour but is entirely unwilling to be anything but herself. I loved and respected her for that. She always retained herself.
Throughout Billy and Me, Giovanna hints at a great tragedy in Sophie's life through flashbacks, the panic attacks she suffers and how unsteady her mum seems to be. A part of me wished this tragic past wasn't drawn out for as long as it was but the steady reveals taught us a lot about Sophie and it was clear that this event really affected her. And the way in which it was finally revealed was pretty heartbreaking.
In fact, I think my only complaint was the sometimes odd use of exclamation marks where they really weren't needed.
Billy and Me is a delightful chick lit which (while it might be a tad predictable that really isn't the point) throws the usual formulaic chick lit story out the window and gives us a heartbreaking tale of love in which the heroine learns what is important in life. I recommend Billy and Me to everybody who likes a good chick lit with a decent love story, it's such a refreshing read. Just make sure you have the tissues nearby for the bit with the "emotional impact of Jojo Moyes"....more
The Masque of the Red Death had been on my radar for a long time. I couldn't tell you if it was thOriginally posted on my book blog, Once Upon A Time.
The Masque of the Red Death had been on my radar for a long time. I couldn't tell you if it was the idea of a Poe retelling, a Victoriana dystopian story, a few fantastic reviews or a combination of all three that initially drew me to it but needless to say, it was on my radar. And then Gollancz Geeks sent over a copy with the new UK cover for review! I almost immediately started it and more or less read the entire novel in one sitting.
The story focuses on Araby, daughter of the most important scientist in Masque's world. The man who created the livesaving porcelain masks people wear to ward off the Weeping Sickness. However, he's kept on a tight leash by the mad Prince Prospero who monopolises the masks and thus only the very wealthy can afford to own them. The reason he can do this? Once a mask has been worn, only that person can use it. Araby spends her time seeking oblivion from a life she feels she doesn't deserve until she meets Will who shows her there is more to life than the privilege of drink and drugs. And then Elliott who seeks to rebel against Prince Prospero, his uncle, to create a fairer society. She becomes swept up by events out of her control with one very sure realisation: she doesn't want to die.
I wasn't sure what I thought about Araby and her friend April at first. They're clearly part of the privileged class, travelling to a night out through the poorer distract in April's expensive, flashy steam carriage, while being held up by the body collectors and a young woman unwilling to part with her clearly dead child. It's a tense and dark scene which shows us that Araby, at the very least, cares about other human beings.. but she's quite whiny in the beginning. She seems to think she's worthless and doesn't deserve to be alive so she visits the Debauchery Club with April, drinking and taking drugs to make her forget who she is for a while.. so yes, there's a bit of angst, but it goes away when we meet Will and Elliott because she finally finds something to fight for.
And from there I was lost to the world because of this beautifully gothic dystopian novel. I stopped comparing it to Poe's short story of the same name because whilst I can see where Bethany got her inspiration, it really stops there. The two stories are separate entities. Bethany Griffin's version has such a dark atmosphere and much foreboding that I often pictured night-time in a dark red haze with cloaked figures and leering old men looming around every corner. Everybody has their secrets and you do not know who you can trust. Even now I'm not entirely sure - bring on book two!
Not a fan of love triangles? Don't worry. Me neither. This one didn't bother me at all, in fact, I'm positive you'll find yourself rooting for one or the other boy. Bored of YA dystopias? The Masque of the Red Death doesn't feel like the rest. No, really. I promise you that if a girl who is more or less bored of YA finds this one so unputdownable, it's definitely worth a read. The writing is so fantastic that regardless of whether you think the story is unique or not, you will absolutely love it. It is so easy to find yourself swept up in the narrative. Give The Masque of the Red Death a chance! Yes, this is one of those books I'll be rereading and forcing on others....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
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