The Ocean at the End of the Lane is intensely captivating. It reads like a dark fairy tale of sorts, packed withReview posted first on shonamoyce.com
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is intensely captivating. It reads like a dark fairy tale of sorts, packed with heavy themes such as truth and death and sacrifice.
The narrator is a nameless boy. We meet him first as a man returning to his childhood home of fragmented memories but the story is told in the distinct and engaging voice of his younger self. He recounts the events following his seventh birthday, which begins as a run-down of semi-normal every-day happenings before escalating to something disturbing then entirely other-worldly.
This child endures certain horrors no child should witness; it is dark and disturbing. Yet, the way everything is described is such that you cannot turn away. From the death of that kitten to the suicide scene, from the abuse at the hands of his own father to the battles with faceless horrors born of the shadows, the story pulls you helplessly along, conjuring up a world that is equal parts stark horror and sheer beauty, constantly alternating between magic and harsh reality.
The three magical women the boy encounters, possess elements of both the Fates and the Maiden, Mother, and Crone ensemble. Their sense of timelessness and all-knowing power and truth came through and although their identity or purpose is never fully explained, the mystery of them is beguiling rather than frustrating.
The writing is beautiful—sheer perfection. Neil Gaiman makes poetry out of everything—even the mundane, and this tale is anything but. It is fantastical and wonderfully weird yet somehow, the heart of the story keeps its feet firmly on the ground—the themes are as relatable as they are thought-provoking.
I thought: I’m going to die. And thinking that, I was determined to live.
I loved this book. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of those rare oxymoronic gems, capable of both disturbing and fascinating the reader. It is uniquely imaginative and original while establishing and maintaining a keen sense of familiarity. Needless to say, Mr. Gaiman has yet another new fan and my to-read pile just got a little higher....more
I desperately wanted to love A Court of Thorns and Roses. It’s a fantasy romance and a Beauty and the Beast retelReview posted first on shonamoyce.com
I desperately wanted to love A Court of Thorns and Roses. It’s a fantasy romance and a Beauty and the Beast retelling of sorts. There is such hype for the entire series to the point where I convinced myself it couldn’t possibly be anything but fantastic.
Sadly, for me, it fell a little flat.
Don’t get me wrong—it’s a decent story, compelling enough to keep me reading until the end and maybe even venturing into the rest of the series. But I can’t pretend I’m not disappointed.
Feyre is an underwhelming main character. She has potential; she’s a skilled hunter and a pretty decent human being—showcased in the provisions and sacrifices she made for her ungrateful family. But between her early stupid choices, her (sometimes) redundant narration, and her artist’s eye seeing the world ‘in colour’… she became—frankly—irritating. Yes. She’s a painter. She knows the name of ten different shades of blue. I get it. I don’t need it shoved down my throat.
The Beast—Tamlin—should have had the potential to make me swoon. He’s obviously gorgeous, he’s powerful, and so on and so on but there’s something not nearly as beastly about him as I’d been anticipating. Lucien on the other hand is a great character—and Rhys is even better. Both Lucien and Rhys have far more depth, and their complexities add intrigue. Even their personalities are more interesting than Tamlin’s, although I get that Tamlin is probably intentionally silent and brooding.
The author does a good job of setting up the world of the Fae. There was a little too much exposition for my personal liking, with side characters who served little purpose other than the relaying of important information to the protagonist. That said, the extravagant wealth and enchantment of the Fae world comes through and the scenes in nature are written beautifully if a little overdone at times. I loved the different creatures of the world and I liked the setup of the various Courts with their corresponding seasons and magic. I also liked the simmering romance between Tamlin and Feyre. It isn’t as epic as I’d hoped for but all in all, it carried me through the book.
I’m in no hurry to pick up the next instalment in this series but the setup for continuation of the storyline is intriguing enough to keep it on my to-read pile, and with much of the world-building out of the way, book two—and the subtle promise of the implications with Rhys—might make for an exciting follow up to A Court of Thorns and Roses....more
Ruin and Rising, the final book in The Grisha Trilogy, wraps up the series in a neat little bow**spoiler alert** Review posted first on shonamoyce.com
Ruin and Rising, the final book in The Grisha Trilogy, wraps up the series in a neat little bow. The story picks up right where we left off in book two and Alina, Mal, and their band of misfits have yet another dilemma to get out of and one last amplifier to track down.
I loved the friendships that developed in this book and both major twists in the book were heartrending and superbly written.
Spoiler Alert ahead!
The ending is… a happily-ever-after, I guess, if bittersweet. All the loose ends are tied, all is right with the world, and Alina gets what she’s longed for.
And yet—call me deranged—I longed for more. I longed for something else entirely. I longed for a completely different scenario—with the Darkling.
Despite his flaws and the horrors of what he’d become; despite the twisted manipulation and his hunger for power at any cost; despite all of his darkness, I wanted Alina’s balancing light to be his salvation.
So, while the series was wonderful and I enjoyed it immensely, the ending leaves me dissatisfied and a little disappointed.
Although, clearly, I’m a hopeless romantic with some major psychological issues, so unless you’re like me, you have nothing to worry about. The World of the Grisha has become a fast favourite of mine and I’ve added Six of Crows (another series within the Grishaverse) to my to-read pile....more
Siege and Storm is five-star worthy storytelling. Book two trumps book one. The pacing is faster, more thrillingReview posted first on shonamoyce.com
Siege and Storm is five-star worthy storytelling. Book two trumps book one. The pacing is faster, more thrilling and intense; the world building is still luxuriously detailed but more subtle and controlled, and the characters breathe with life.
Alina steps up in this book and we get to see her embrace who she is. She possesses a newfound strength in this book and she wears it well. I love the rising conflict between her and Mal. I love the addition of chameleonic Nikolai. I love the intriguing but sinister allure of the Darkling.
In short, I loved this book. Even more than the first. I read it in a day and I’m about to pull an all-nighter for book three....more
The Scarlet Thread is fast-paced and utterly compelling, and more than that, it is steeped in rich Greek mythologReview posted first on shonamoyce.com
The Scarlet Thread is fast-paced and utterly compelling, and more than that, it is steeped in rich Greek mythology.
Kaidance has the gift of the Fates. She spends years of her life detesting who she is. She is strong but she is unaware of her full potential. Still, she is refreshingly proactive. I love her voice. She is not as naive as most YA protagonists and her smarts are believable—linked to every experience she’s ever encountered in her short life.
The world she’s thrown into is like a step back in time—an immersion into Greek mythology. The characters are intriguing and their true identities are sprinkled throughout the story in a way that makes this book impossible to put down. The story is layered and compelling, centred not just on Kaidance but also that of a centuries-spanning war.
My only gripe is the cliffhanger ending but that’s purely because I’m desperate to know how this story plays out....more
The Successful Author Mindset is as insightful as it is inspiring. It is so inspiring in fact, that it might actuReview posted first on shonamoyce.com
The Successful Author Mindset is as insightful as it is inspiring. It is so inspiring in fact, that it might actually be a hug disguised as a book. It’s also a treasure trove of quotes from other writers and professionals that’ll make you feel as though you’re doing something right if only because you resonate with the things they say. (There are days when this is all I can hang on to.)
I’m afraid of failing at whatever story I’m writing—that it won’t come up for me, or that I won’t be able to finish it. — Stephen King
More than that, though, The Successful Author Mindset is, as the title suggests, a book that maps out and offers guidance on some of the inner pitfalls of writer life—common writer problems such as the need for validation, creative block, and the infamous champion of them all: self-doubt. Along with well-selected quotes from other creatives, each topic is also accompanied by an excerpt from the author’s personal journals, documenting her thoughts, before moving on to an antidote that might help others to move past these problems.
Joanna Penn’s advice has always been my go-to in terms of the helpful writing and marketing tips she freely shares on her website The Creative Penn. But this book is not a book of tips. Instead, this is a (much-needed) look at the journey of a writer—and the inevitable trials along the way.
We have to learn to self-validate, to understand that the writing process is the point, rather than the reception of our work or the rewards that may or may not come. We need to nourish ourselves with the practice of creation. — Joanna Penn
I’d recommend this to any writer feeling the strain of self-doubt or the fear of failure. Some of us are lucky enough to be confident about ourselves and the work we create. For the rest of us, thankfully, there are books like this one....more
The World of the Grisha is rich with culture and magic. From page one, Shadow and Bone is enchanting—full of wondReview posted first on shonamoyce.com
The World of the Grisha is rich with culture and magic. From page one, Shadow and Bone is enchanting—full of wonder and originality in the midst of a new, exciting setting rife with intrigue and danger. I couldn’t get enough at first.
Then, for me, the story lagged with too many chunks of scene setting and description and I found myself disconnected with the characters. This momentary lapse was short, however.
On coming back to it, the story gathered pace. Alina met new people, she struggled with training, she came into her strength, then made some plot-twisting discoveries. I was hooked once more and the initial overdone descriptive style gave way to a sprinkling of original world building amidst an intriguing plot line. The rest of the book is brilliantly written and I devoured the final two-thirds in one sitting.
Alina is like most YA protagonists. She begins her journey as a somewhat weak average teenager and finds herself and her power along the way. She is innocent and naive but also likeable and believable, and by the end of this first book, she shows enormous intelligence and courage.
I love Mal. There’s an extra section at the end that showcases his character perfectly. A letter to Alina. He is honourable and strong and obviously the ‘perfect’ match for Alina. (Note the quote marks, please.)
Yet, my favourite character by far, is the Darkling. He walks that thin grey line of morality and while the depth of his complexities seems to have only been touched upon, I’m hoping the rest of the series will do him the justice he deserves. I’m already quite in love with him.
Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO TO TRUST WHEN YOU CAN’T EVEN TRUST YOURSELF?
I look at my hands. One of them says ‘FLORA, BE BRAVE.’
This book swept me up in a wave of intrigue and compassion. Flora Banks is one of the best female characters I’ve read in a while—a powerhouse of inner strength. She just doesn’t remember who she is and what she’s capable of.
I loved Flora’s voice and felt an immediate connection with her from page one. The narrative is chilling—crafted with an alternating pace and clarity depending on Flora’s state of mind. At times it is fluent, teeming with such life that Flora’s spirit and tenacity radiate off the page. Other times, it is purposefully convoluted, repetitive—like actually stepping into the sweeping confusion of a seventeen-year-old amnesiac’s mind.
The repetition does not detract from the story; quite the opposite, in fact. It enhances it in that every subtle word change becomes a clue in the puzzle of Flora’s world. Because that’s what it is: an enigma that propels you from chapter to chapter, neither knowing nor trusting the words even as the story unfurls before you.
Flora’s unique personality, the Cornish and Arctic settings, the story as a whole—they are all refreshingly original and compelling. Add to that the cleverly crafted unreliable narrator and you have yourself an absolute must-read....more
Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Memoirs have never been a favourite of mine, so I wDisclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Memoirs have never been a favourite of mine, so I went into One of These Things First expecting a somewhat tedious time. As it turns out, Steven Gaines’ story and writing style both fascinated and moved me.
‘I saw him fleetingly, no more than a slow camera pan as he passed in and out of frame, but I knew him so intimately from that moment that I can still smell the sun on the nape of his neck.’
It is a poignant and fairly dark read but with enough humour to offer a change a pace. The book has been compared to Girl, Interrupted although Girl was far darker and more intense than this.
The book is fairly short but the story itself spans much of the author’s life, with the central focus on his fifteen-year-old self, leading up to, and during, his time at a psychiatric clinic. His struggle with who he is and how he is perceived is nothing short of heartbreaking.
The tone of the book is conversational as he recounts his memories and experience, but with such acute attention to detail that it makes even the mundane seem interesting. It is written in such a way that his interest, mild obsession even, with Mr Halliday or Mary, becomes infectious. And I love how his description of the people in his world conjures a vivid image in the mind.
This is a story that I’m sure took a massive amount of courage to write. Acceptance among family, communities, or within general society is difficult, especially at the time these events took place. Self-acceptance is often a doubly hard, never-ending battle, and I’m glad there is a hint of it at the end.
‘There were women I loved, but not completely. No matter how wonderful the women I romanced were, I was driven by nature and design to love a man more.’...more