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Finish Line 2018 > Kay's 2018 Books Challenge!

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Kay M (angeleyes003) | 209 comments I'm looking to read 150 books in 2018. Last year was an amazing journey in which I read a total of 190 books!

This year I'm hoping to decrease the amount of books I've bought/downloaded and never read before. Sure enough I'll be re-reading books as well, but I'll be mostly focused on unread books.

Let's make 2018 epic! :D

message 2: by Kay (last edited Jan 02, 2018 03:37PM) (new)

Kay M (angeleyes003) | 209 comments 1. Halo: Blood Line by Fred Van Lente

Halo Blood Line by Fred Van Lente

Type: E-book (Kindle Unlimited)
First time read?: Yes
Rating: 4/5 stars.

My opinion:

As a fan of the Halo series having played numerous games in the series, I was pretty intrigued how this comic was going to fit in the already vast lore. From the beginning it was certainly action packed and suspenseful, however as the story progressed at some stages I had a confused expression on my face while saying "What the fuck?" out loud.

The first two chapters had to be my favourite out of all of the comic, purely because of the mystery aspect. Both UNSC and Covenant forces receive a message in space and they find themselves crash landing on some unknown planet and that's when things kick up. When Team Black and the Covenant were involved in a firefight a huge machine with tentacles ambushes them and actually kidnaps some members from both sides. The ones that gets left behind goes off to rescue their comrades and they eventually find the alien structure. What really surprised me was the Spartans and Covenant reluctantly agreed to work together.

As for the unfortunate captives they find themselves locked up in cells and they're soon approached by a monitor. The monitor's intentions are dark - it wants to experiment on the unwilling subjects by dissection. Right from the beginning when they crash landed I had a suspicion that it might have something to do with the Flood. Also I didn't exactly trust the monitor - trust me, the games have taught me to never place faith in them because most of them (especially Guilty Spark) often betray humans.

When you see the monitor 'testing' out a poor Hunter and Grunt and realising the reason behind the experiments is truly horrifying in a way. For me personally it was a moment that stood out to me. It kept me on the edge of my seat because I wanted both Spartan and Covenant leaders to survive.

Overall I really liked the characters. Iona, the AI, drew me in as she's feisty in some ways and her loyalty to Team Black certainly impressed me. For me the strong point is the exploration of themes such as family and strong team work. Although they're enemies at the front, both the Covenant and Spartans realise in some ways they're not so much different. And because of that, I truly believed that they were able to have better understanding of each other despite their various species. That's why I have so much love for Halo novels/comics that focus on the UNSC and Covenant being unlikely allies.

From there, things turned a little more darker and twisted. Even though the team of Spartans are presented as a close family and whatnot, secrets lurk underneath the surface. A particular incident that happened back on Reach in their early days was what sparked it off. I admit when I saw the flashback of two Spartans locked in a passionate embrace in a shower cubicle I was like "What the hell are they doing?!" And as the story unraveled itself further the more I wanted to know what was going on.

Personally I slightly disagree with the concept of Spartans having a secret relationship despite it being a plot device. I do have a love/hate relationship with it. I hate it because Spartans are meant to be seen as fierce, legend-like warriors and due to their augmentations I would imagine them not having sexual urges. But at the same time I do love the idea because when the monitor gets inside their heads and fucks everything up by causing them to fight, they pull together as a family (with the help of Iona) and they're able to find forgiveness and strength.

What kinda let it down was how it all ended. I would have loved to see the Covenant and the humans continue working together. Sadly that never happened.

Overall the story was amazing and pretty much enjoyable. The artwork and the way the action/sequences flowed was top notch most of the time. Oh, and another thing I liked was the humour. Almost every scene featuring the Grunts had me crack up laughing - especially that part where a Hunter jumped off a sheer drop with a few Grunts holding on and when they landed the Grunts were cheering and wanted to do it again.

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Kay M (angeleyes003) | 209 comments 2. Keeper of the Peace by Jennifer Malone Wright

Keeper of the Peace (Graveyard Guardians, #2) by Jennifer Malone Wright

Type: E-book (Kobo - free)
First time read? Yes
Rating: 5/5 stars.

My opinion:

I think I've just found the most amazing series. Seriously, I'm so in love with this and I'm already grinning with pure excitement at the thought of reading the other books in the series.

Right from the beginning I was sucked in. Hannah is a Keeper and basically her job is to protect souls from the bad guys known as Reapers. Reapers generally eat the souls that hasn't passed on. What was meant to be an ordinary night turned out to less than ordinary when Hannah encounters a Reaper and then kills him in a nail biting confrontation. Then enter David, a detective, who's been called to his home town. He's investigating the murder case and of course, he has a history with Hannah. They haven't seen each other in twelve years when he moved to LA, breaking her heart in the process.

At first I thought that Hannah was a complete bad-ass and I instantly liked her as a character. When it came to David, on the other hand, I didn't know what to make of him as I didn't know too much about him at the time. But as the story progressed I found myself admiring David and he was such a strong leading male character. What I really loved was their second chance at romance. You can tell despite their tensed reunion (in which 1) she has to do an autopsy on the man she killed and b) she finds out he's on the case) both of them really hadn't fallen out of love with one another. In some cases there are some flashbacks of their previous relationship and I felt sorry for Hannah when he explained why he was leaving town for good. But then again at the same time it must have been a difficult decision for him to make despite wanting to make a better life for himself.

I liked that they managed to get past the hurt and pain and finally reconciled. Although I felt that it was slightly quick but I can understand her intentions. The sex scenes were well written and tastefully done. What intrigued me the most was after the first night they spent together David did find a connection between Hannah and the murder victim. I didn't know what to expect at that point because it could have went either two ways. One, he keeps his suspicions in the dark or two, he confronts her and then he loses her for the second time. Thankfully he stands by her and tries to gently convince her she can talk to him about anything. I think if I were in Hannah's shoes I would have done the same thing - keep the murder a secret and try to think of a way to introduce the supernatural world to him without sounding crazy in the process.

One of my favourite parts of the entire story is when Hannah meets David's parents for the first time years ago. The way she stood up to his pathetic excuse of a father proved that she's a feisty woman that doesn't take any shit from anyone. I feel sorry for David's crappy past - he never really had a close family that loved and appreciated him.

I admit when David finally puts Hannah under arrest and had to bring her in as a suspect my reaction was me gasping and saying "Oh no!" over and over again. That was when the shit hit the fan in my opinion. The build-up and drama leading to Hannah being put in jail and David getting kidnapped by two goons that followed him all the way from LA due to a fucked up case was cleverly developed. When Hannah was eventually bailed out and her and her family went on a rescue mission to retrieve David was just pure awesome.

I was so pleased when Hannah revealed the truth about Keepers and Reapers to David. It was totally fun in when he learned how to see spirits for the first time, starting off with Hannah's deceased dad. The ending was pretty sweet and meaningful because they both got what they wanted and he finally let go of his past by smashing the shit out of his parent's house. It makes me confident that their relationship is now stronger than before now they no longer keep secrets from each other.

Lastly, I have so much respect for the Estmond clan. I'm fond of every one and the portrayal of each character is so dynamic. The one character that stood out to me was Aiden, another Reaper. His parts and subplot was so amazing and he really came through in the end when rescuing David. I just hope that we learn more about him in the next book - oh, and perhaps he won't get interrupted in the middle of sex by annoying phone calls from the Empress.

Truthfully speaking, this is a series I want to be a part of. Since I haven't read the first book in the series I have already got the first book. I so want to learn about Jack and Lucy's relationship and how they met!

message 4: by Kay (new)

Kay M (angeleyes003) | 209 comments 3. Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #1) by Mark Lawrence

Type: E-book (Kobo - purchased)
First time read? Yes
Rating: 5/5 stars.

My opinion:

I think my mind has just been blown. And I mean that in a good way.

This book has been such an amazing journey from start to finish. Granted, at times I thought it dragged on (particularly in the middle and towards the end) but the ending just blew me away. For that reason I'll give it a solid 5 stars.

I admit when I first started reading it did take me a while to come to terms with the four different tribes as well as the universe/magical aspects. It felt a little odd in having a glossary/author's notes at the beginning of the book - I'm used to it being at the end. So there was a lot of information to take in. The Prologue was so hauntingly beautiful and that alone had me aching to find out what happens next.

Nona, as the main character, was the driving force for me in this narrative. Her background as well as her unrelenting spirit is what made her unique and likeable. I felt a mixture of horror and sympathy for Nona when she and her friends were sold like cattle to the Caltess. And because she stood up on the behalf of her friend thus attacking the hell out of a man with such a rich lineage she is then sentenced to die. But just before she meets her doom her rescuer comes in the form of Abbess Glass. Glass takes her to a convent in which badass nuns teach girls to become formidable assassins. Pretty fucking awesome concept, don't you think?

My favourite teachers have to be Sister Tallow and Abbess Glass. Sister Tallow, who teaches unarmed combat is so wise. It's like I hang onto every word each time she says something important about engaging people in combat. That, or it's because I have a fascination and respect for the concept of martial arts. When it comes to Abbess Glass she teaches many lessons to Nona, which shapes her personality and whatnot. What earned my respect is when Abbess Glass protected Nona in the segment with High Priest Jacob. That moment with the candles will stick with me forever.

Of course at the convent Nona befriends others. And as each of them faced each trial and tribulation their friendship deepens and they're all unique in their little own way. What made it interesting was when Ara turned up - I honestly didn't think that Nona and Ara will strike up a friendship because there was some tension at some parts. Honestly I'm really glad that they were close in some ways.

At times I forgot that the characters were actually children because they acted mature and so beyond their years. Also the world in which they live in is so very fascinating and dangerous at the same time - a world full of ice and the impending disaster in which one fateful day the moon will fall down. The element of magic is intriguing and I like how it's somehow connected to the Path (which is heavily featured in the second part in which Nona and her friends graduate to Grey class.) More than once I wanted Nona to kick everyone's arse. I just wanted her to win, especially when she was up against Zole. However the ending had me in awe of her, simply because she didn't hold back and what she did was legendary.

There were so many surprises and twists thrown into the mix, some of which had me thinking "What the hell?" The Chosen One theme is not as simple as it is - I certainly didn't see it coming, that's for sure. Also I wonder what's the purpose behind shiphearts. I'm starting to think they serve a higher purpose since it's revealed they are being stolen.

Really hated High Priest Jacob for obvious reasons. But the character I hated the most was Raymel. The personal vendetta that Raymel had against Nona made him a perfect villain in my eyes. No words can describe how ecstatic I felt when she reclaimed vengeance and went full-on rage mode. I can't think of anything left to say because I'm in a state of disbelief of how excellent this story is. It's so very dark, violent but poetic and spell binding.

Will I continue on with the next book when it comes out? Yep, simple because this story ended on such a cliff hanger. And if they were ever to make a TV series out of this, I would watch the fuck out of it.

message 5: by Kay (last edited Jan 09, 2018 03:24PM) (new)

Kay M (angeleyes003) | 209 comments 4. Keeper vs. Reaper by Jennifer Malone Wright

Keeper vs. Reaper (Graveyard Guardians, #1) by Jennifer Malone Wright

Type: E-book (Kindle - free)
First time read? Yes
Rating: 4/5 stars.

My opinion:

I'm glad that I finally read this book because now I got the chance to read what happened with Jack and Lucy. But I still think the second book in the series is better and more interesting in some ways.

One of the issues I had with this book is the amount of sex Jack has with two other women besides Lucy. Sure, I thought that Aiden (the other Reaper) was promiscuous, but Jack certainly took it to another level. I'm not used to reading books that either the hero or heroine have meaningless sexual flings with everyone else besides their love interest towards the end of the story. Bear in mind that Lucy does make a move on her best friend (who they both lost their virginity to ages ago), but I could easily understand her reasoning for doing it. However when it comes to Jack's behaviour I just think it's a tacky concept, which was something I personally didn't agree with.

Anyway, let's move onto the positives. Once again I found myself more engrossed in the world building aspect of the story. I learned a little bit more about the Keepers and the Reapers - I guess being that it's the first book it goes into heavy detail and I was thankful for that. It seems that Lucy and Jack are very important from each warring faction and both have a lot of responsibility put on their shoulders.

Jack, being a Reaper, is part of the royal family with his bitch of a mother being the Empress and he's been ordered to kill the Chosen One, the Keeper who will put an end to the Reaper's existence. One of the things that I instantly liked about Jack is from the start he doesn't want this burden and he resents his family, especially his mother. On the other hand, Lucy, the youngest of the Estmond clan finds herself inheriting the family's business when her father dies. What's more is her dad in the form of a spirit pays her a visit to announce some pretty big news. She comes across a prophecy in which proclaims that she is in fact the Chosen One.

From their first meeting they both discover they can freely touch one another without feeling the agonising burn that every Keeper and Reaper have when they come into contact. I thought it was pretty cool, but there was no explanation behind it. I wanted to know exactly why they could experience that - does it somehow link to the Prophecy? That's just my guess. When they first meet it was awesome because Lucy and one of her sisters managed to kick his arse. What was more awesome and badass is the moment in which Aiden and Jack ambush her and Aiden pretty makes an attempt on her life. The way Lucy looks out for her dad and tells him to escape really is emotional and I adore the fact that she cares so deeply for her family.

It came as a slight surprise when Jack protects her from Aiden despite the fact he too knows of the Prophecy. The tension between Jack and Aiden from that point had to be my favourite. The two men are best friends and they're so much like brothers and yet Aiden doesn't seem to understand his friend for protecting the Keeper, their sworn enemies. Most people would think that Aiden is an arsehole. Yes, he is, but he's one of the most fascinating characters. He's really an anti-hero at heart. Aiden wants what's best for Jack and he wants a better future for his race so when the Empress dies he can assist Jack in being a ruler that makes good changes. Hell, he's willing to shoulder the responsibility and just complete Jack's mission. And in spite of his frustration he actually lies to the Empress in order to protect Jack.

As for the romance aspect between Jack and Lucy it was kinda subtle in some ways. They can tell they're attracted to one another. What made me respect Jack more is his conversations with Liv (Lucy's sister) about his feelings for Lucy. He's been tasked with such a shitty job but he shows honesty and a tender side when he's willing to protect Lucy from Aiden trying to kill her. The forbidden romance, a typically cliched troupe, actually works well here because duty aside, they're actual human beings who I think wants to be normal.

I loved how each event eventually lead to the moment where Aiden kidnaps Lucy and brings her to the Empress. It certainly was interesting, especially when we found out the Empress' side regarding the Prophecy. I do wonder why she intended to mix her blood with Lucy's blood. I mean, did she think it would create something unique? The showdown with the Reapers and Keepers (Lucy's family with the help of Jack) was just pure exciting to read. There were some tense moments like Jack and Aiden fighting, Jack basically cutting ties with his family and choosing Lucy, and then Aiden selfishly defying the Empress by showing loyalty to his friend.

Overall, it was enjoyable but I still carry a torch for the second book (Hannah and David's story). While there was a connection between the two main characters it didn't come across as deep love for me, only attraction. Their connection could have been a bit more stronger. And once again, it warms my heart to read more of the Estmond family. Such very awesome characters, especially their dad. I can see why so many people in the town respected him so much.

message 6: by Tiffany, Administrator (new)

Tiffany | 1853 comments Mod
Kay wrote: "I'm looking to read 150 books in 2018. Last year was an amazing journey in which I read a total of 190 books!

This year I'm hoping to decrease the amount of books I've bought/downloaded and never read before. Sure enough I'll be re-reading books as well, but I'll be mostly focused on unread books.

Let's make 2018 epic! :D"

Good luck!

message 7: by Kay (new)

Kay M (angeleyes003) | 209 comments Tiffany wrote: "Kay wrote: "I'm looking to read 150 books in 2018. Last year was an amazing journey in which I read a total of 190 books!

This year I'm hoping to decrease the amount of books I've bought/downloade..."

Thank you!

message 8: by Kay (new)

Kay M (angeleyes003) | 209 comments 5. A Thousand Fiendish Angels: Stories Inspired By Dante's Inferno by J.F. Penn

A Thousand Fiendish Angels Stories Inspired By Dante's Inferno by J.F. Penn

Type: E-book (Kobo - free)
First time read? Yes
Rating: 4/5 stars.

My opinion:

I really enjoyed this collection of short stories - all of them packed a punch and it got better as it went along. I never realised that all three short stories were written for contest for the launch of Dan Brown's Inferno.

Each story worked well on their own and yet all of them are connected by one major thing: a book made out of human skin. It seems that whenever someone encounters the book a lot of crazy shit happens. It's a bit like an omen if the truth be told. I like how the seven deadly sins are incorporated into this book, even if they're used in subtle ways. It kinda makes me curious about the most famous poem, Dante's Inferno.

Sins of the Flesh is about a detective coming across a mutilated body of a famous author and finding different types of religions items to help protect him from something. Then the biggest clue comes in the form of his diary. The imagery was fantastic and the mystery and tension was developed nicely. The best scene for me is when the cop went to the church/graveyard and then came across the bad omen book. The woman from the author's past makes such an interesting appearance and from there you start to realise she could be the cause of the mysterious death. While it's not my favourite short story of the collection I felt it was a good start.

The Sins of Treachery had to my favourite out of the lot. And for some strange reason it really reminded me of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. There's a sense of sibling rivalry among the adventure to the Arctic. The brother's relationship and the differences between them is such a driving point of this story and I felt sorry for Simon as Gestas was portrayed as the most successful and daring of the twins. All along I wanted Simon to triumph over Gestas and let's just say that I was stunned at the ending. I did saw it coming in a way but it was so fantastically done. I would love to see a follow up of that particular story.

As for the Sins of Violence I felt that it was inspired by a mixture of futuristic sci fi/fantasy genre. Ari's loyalty and her resolve to free her sister from the clutches of the Minotaur really spoke to me and I liked her straight away. She is a strong female character and it was good to see that. As I was reading this it reminded me of Greek Myths, especially the Theseus victory over the feared half man/half bull, Minotaur. The descriptions were beautiful and haunting to read. A most interesting thing I'd say is the role of the Furies. I thought it was a little odd in the Furies, being female, served a male. It very much contrasted with the traditional mythology of the Furies hunting down men to wreck punishment and judgement.

Overall this collection was incredible. However I think that all three stories had an open ending as they ended quite abruptly. I would have wanted to find out the fate of the characters in more details.

message 9: by Kay (new)

Kay M (angeleyes003) | 209 comments 6. Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval (Caraval, #1) by Stephanie Garber

Type: E-book (Kobo - purchased)
First time read? Yes
Rating: 5/5 stars.

My opinion:

Please excuse me for a second while my mind is trying to recover from getting fucked so hard. No words can explain how absolutely stunning and wonderful this book. Be prepared for one hell of a long and mind boggling roller coaster ride...

I admit when I first read this it kinda reminded me of The Night Circus in some ways, purely because of the premises and the magic. But the more I delved into the story the more I stopped comparing it to the Night Circus because it was a story of two sisters and their complex yet strong relationship. First of all we're introduced to Scarlett - now she's been writing letters to the Caraval Master ever since she was a child, urging him to take his circus to their island so she can make her sister's birthday even more special. Every few years she would send more letters to him and of course he doesn't respond. And when in her last letter she announced of her arranged marriage surprisingly the Master wrote her a letter back and gave her tickets for his show.

From the start I liked Scarlett, however the same couldn't be said for Tella, her sister. I thought Tella was a selfish bitch who didn't care about Scarlett and the more she was rude, the more I wanted to slap her silly. And when their father catches Tella with Julian and immediately used Scarlett as a scapegoat, practically accusing her of being with Julian that really pissed me off. I didn't know who I disliked the most - Tella or the dad. I did end up smiling when he punished Tella though and he even said he knew she was lying. I have to say the dad intimidated me and he made me uncomfortable. When I found out that his wife abandoned him with their two daughters and that's why he became cruel and forceful, I didn't know what to make of it. I mean, I'd understand it if the wife left because he was abusing her, but there has to be a more deeper reason for why she left.

Another reason why I hated Tella is her reckless behaviour. She constantly made fun of Scarlett for her not taking chances. She doesn't seem to understand Scarlett's reasoning for wanting to get married and she thinks she can look after herself when Scarlett wants to protect her always. And when she and Julian pulled that stunt on Scarlett and used actually physical force on her I was like "How bloody dare she do that?!" It wasn't until the next chapter I discovered the reasons why she tricked Scarlett and it slightly calmed me down for the time being. At least Scarlett got her childhood wish to attend the Caraval. And when both Julian and Scarlett arrived on the island it was like diving into an enchanting world where we are blatantly warned that nothing is all that it seems. That's when the game truly kicks in because Scarlett has until the end of the Caraval to find her missing sister, but first she has a list of mystical clues to solve.

Going through each experience with Scarlett was a real eye opener and I couldn't help but feel seduced by the magic of it all. The cast of characters were a real delight to read. What intrigued me the most was the segments involving the grandmother telling them about the Caraval and the well known Master called Legend. I enjoyed taking a glimpse in the girls' childhoods and I could see why Scarlett was fascinated with everything to do with the show. The world building and descriptions were just out of this world. It was a rich feast of the senses and the language that was used was very poignant, poetic and truly remarkable. I almost wished I was actually there.

The romantic aspect with Scarlett and Julian developed well throughout the story. At first I didn't know what to make of Julian and I didn't really trust him, but in the end I grew to be fond of him. He worked well with Scarlett and you could see they were attracted to one another through his teasing and her thoughts regarding him. I especially loved Crimson, the nickname he gave her.

I REALLY wish I can explain the mind fuckery that I experienced while reading this book, but let's just say certain events will send you reeling back. Every shocking major event is like a bitch slap in my opinion. I have so much respect for Stephanie Garber for her masterful skills in inviting not only the characters but the reader to take an active part in the game. Seriously more than once I found myself questioning whether or not some characters were telling the truth. I also found myself thinking if what I read was actually an illusion and when it turned out that it wasn't, it had me on the edge of the seat wondering what was going to happen next. It certainly kept me guessing and I felt that my emotions were being toyed with.

Towards the end two character's death (not naming them if you don't want to be spoiled) had me in tears. I felt that Scarlett, Julian, Tella and Legend (even though he didn't exactly make an appearance) have came a long way in their journey. Scarlett became a confident character who wasn't afraid to stand up for her beliefs and it was mostly because of Tella, her sister. I was wrong to think ill of Tella in the first place because she honestly does care about her sister and wants her to realise there is more than one option in life.

The ending of the book is intriguing. I'll be sure to carry on with this fantastic series when the next book comes out!

message 10: by Kay (new)

Kay M (angeleyes003) | 209 comments 7. Z-Minus I by Perrin Briar

Z-Minus I by Perrin Briar

Type: E-book (Kobo - free)
First time read? Yes
Rating: 3/5 stars.

My opinion:

I think I'm being very generous in giving this book a three star rating, especially after the concerns I had.

It's just a typical zombie book I suppose and it didn't break free from the traditional aspect. Full of zombie outbreaks across the country, making sacrifices, reuniting and going on an adventure with loved ones, etc. I'm not one for reading zombie books though, however if they're unique and sound interesting I'm willing to give them a try. My preference is watching zombie films though.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) reports at the very start of the book was very well done. It was interesting to see the impending danger as well as the increase of Ebola victims and deaths take a dramatic rise over a span of a couple of months. It served it's job well as it set the tone and heightened the dread and suspense. And then we're introduced to Chris, the hero (and I use that term quite loosely) and his adventure across England with his remaining youngest daughter, Maisie.

First of all, I hate Chris. He's one of the most disgusting and terrible main characters I've ever experienced in my reading years. I really don't care if Perrin Briar intended him to be a flawed anti-hero as such. I just think Chris is a shitty excuse of a character and if someone like him existed in real life I'd bet you'd mostly see him on a talk show such as Jeremy Kyle. He proved himself to be selfish, irresponsible (for the most part), unlikable, hypocritical and truly obnoxious. First of all, he comes across his family when he arrives home to find them all dead and he doesn't show any emotion or shock at all. When his eldest daughter rises from the dead and messed up his shirt, he just calls her a bitch and he isn't at all concerned or grief stricken about his wife. What really pissed me off is the way he treated Maisie, his only 8 year old remaining daughter - he views her as a hindrance and he neglects his responsibility of being a father by not wanting to look after her at all. He goes as far as throwing rocks at her in order to drive her away from him.

Seriously, I have no idea why he's a father and a husband in the first place. It just doesn't make sense. All throughout the story I was asking myself this: Why the hell was Maisie sticking with him despite the shit he caused her and her family? Sure, I understood that Chris was the only living relative that she's got, but as far as I'm concerned he's toxic. I admit I did applaud her for standing up for herself when she said she will start calling him 'Dad' rather than Chris when he starts acting like a father.

The premises would work well if Chris were Maisie's step dad rather than her actual father. I would sympathize with him if his marriage was badly on the rocks with his wife and that's why he turned to alcohol as a result. Also another factor would work even better if Maisie was in her early teens. The reason for this is that there was no way that an 8 year old have a mature grasp of speech like that. She sounded older and mature despite her actual young age and it wasn't at all realistic in some ways. And if Chris and Maisie weren't related by blood it would give him a reasonable excuse to dump Maisie on her Aunt and her nan (a later event in the story when the Aunt wasn't there).

The only person I cared for in this story is Maisie. I didn't want her to be infected like Chris and she did have a human side to her, which was something I could relate to. On the other hand I didn't exactly care about Chris' fate - I wouldn't have cared if he died in the most horrible way imaginable. He said that he missed his wife and then he has sex with a 15 year old girl in the backseat of his car when his daughter wasn't too far away in a supermarket. I'm sorry, but that's just being a hypocritical. That's why I had no sympathy when he shows remorse/regret in his years of physically abusing his wife and two daughters. A part of me was angry and I wondered why his wife still remained with him and not protect her children from the likes of that scumbag. God, even now it still irritates me by thinking back to it...

Towards the end of the story they meet with a couple called Janice and Mark. Hearing the tragic story about their children made me feel incredibly sorry for them. And when Chris practically abandoned Maisie to kill himself before the virus takes control of him totally, I felt that maybe they can provide some care for her. It was a real slap in the face when they run off and left Maisie in danger and they weren't of use when they were trying to escape from the zombies. In a way I was glad when they finally got their just desserts in some ways in the end.

Admittedly Chris did save his daughter on two occasions and that honestly did surprise me. I did kinda admire him for that, but did it win my respect for him overall as a person? Nope. I did have some other issues with the book. One, I found it laughable that Chris didn't learn how to read and write despite him being in his 30s. It's how did he ever escape while driving and do other things in life? Two, it's unbelievable that Chris didn't know it was the zombie apocalypse until his neighbour told him. His excuse was that all was ever shown at the pub was football - well, surely if it was that important they would have special broadcasts interrupting normal TV shows. Lastly, how the hell is it possible for an eight year old girl to have a natural gift for driving a car when she hasn't done it before? If you ask me, that's total nonsense.

It wasn't the worst book I've read in the world. However I would have liked it a bit more if the hero was likable at least rather than being an utter arsehole. And somehow I knew Chris wasn't going to turn into a zombie like we were meant to blindly believe. How can a zombie sneeze on you and from that you get infected? Where is the logic in that?

message 11: by Kay (new)

Kay M (angeleyes003) | 209 comments 8. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Type: E-book (Kobo - purchased)
First time read? No
Rating: 5/5 stars.

My opinion:

It's been such a delight to reread this beauty of a story again after all this time. Undoubtedly this is one of my all favourite books - since I've been fascinated by Greek Myth for a long time I'm now a firm lover of the friendship/relationship between Patroclus and Achilles.

You can't help but feel for Patroclus at the start of the novel. He's just a young boy but already his dad is ashamed of him for not being like any of the golden Princes from other nations. He's sensitive, so unsure of himself and where he stands and he's just too honest for his good. His father exiles him - not because Patroclus kills a boy for taking something precious from him, but that he didn't have the wits to lie. The only good thing that came out of his exile is meeting the son of the sea nymph, the brave hero known as Achilles. And just watching their friendship blossom is really oh so tender and truly mesmerizing. They have a lot to offer for one another even thought they're different in a few ways. Achilles doesn't view Patroclus as an annoying or pathetic person, instead he sees something special in him and declares him as his equal. A close and much beloved companion.

When they're both a little older that's when their relationship began and it just warmed my heart to see them fall in love. Their time with Chiron, the Centaur King, is so engaging and it really heightens the slow build-up as well as set the stage for important things to come. It's amazing how Patroclus transformed from a timid boy into an unassuming, compassionate man who was spurred on by his deep feelings towards Achilles. I'm not saying that their relationship was one sided because Achilles passionately cared about him. My heart broke for Achilles when he admitted his regret/torment of marrying Deidamia and getting her pregnant, just so that her cold hearted mother wanted to protect him from going to war against Troy.

Achilles' prophecy plays such a vital and big role throughout the story. He is destined for greatness and glory and he will be known to lead the Greeks to victory during the Trojan War. And yet when he maintains this status, his fate is to die a young man and never return home. As hard as he tried he couldn't escape from his destiny when Odysseus (a great trickster and King who I have so much love and respect for) played a trick which revealed his identity, thus Achilles and Patroclus (being binded to the oath involving the suitors of Helen) goes off to fight in the war. The whole section where Achilles gets a hero's welcome has got to be one of the most awe-inspiring scenes of this book.

The attention to detail as well as the historical backdrop was just so perfect and visual. There were some historical events that I recognised and I feel that Madeline Miller stayed true to the myth, which made me so fucking overjoyed. Sure, the story did focus on the Trojan War but her representations of the characters were so very unique and memorable. Even though Achilles was widely acclaimed as a hero, in a lot of ways he was human. Whenever he was asked why didn't he kill Hector he would always say "What has Hector ever done to me?" I don't know about you, but there seems to be a boyish naivety about him. But then again both him and Patroclus know if Hector remained alive, this would ensure Achilles living for just a while longer. As far as I was concerned he had no reason to hate Hector until later on in the story a tragic moment happens.

Patroclus found himself to be respected in another light because he had skill with the arts of medicine and he began to tend to the soldier's wounds. Achilles and Patroclus never once outshone the other. Their relationship is so simple yet so complicated at the same time and they really both brought out the best in one another. Their love can only be described as unconditional filled with passion and tenderness. They were brothers in arms as well as best friends and lovers and to me that's the meaning of love.

Briseis was a breath of fresh air. Achilles claimed her as a war prize when Patroclus asked him to save her - a decision that was the beginning of Achilles' problems with King Agamemnon. Instead of Achilles getting to know her, instead it was Patroclus who befriended the woman and formed a close friendship with her. I think in another world, in another life Briseis would be perfect for Patroclus. I just don't know to describe how great she was because I can't think of any other words. All I can say is that she was prepared to do what it takes and her friendship with Patroclus was touching to read about.

Towards the end of the book was absolutely tragic and phenomenon at the same time. Even though they were mature and their love was unwavering they might not like what the other one says or does. It kinda frustrated me that because of his feud with Agamemnon Achilles acted pretty much selfish and his pride got in the way. I think Patroclus was right in what he done, but Achilles couldn't see past that because he wanted to claim vengeance on the King for stealing Briseis from him. The more Achilles remained stubborn in not fighting, the more desperate I became in wanting Patroclus to succeed in talking sense to him.

And the whole bit in which Patroclus donned Achilles' armour along with the battles against the Trojan army was sheer magic. You can tell how much saving Achilles' reputation meant so much to him and he fought so bravely. Every description was superb and it was heartbreaking when Hector finally killed Patroclus. Achilles' grief was even more heartbreaking to read and I got so emotional because he lost the other piece of his soul when Patroclus was slain. I really loved how his anger and wrath got the best of him and then proceeded to have an epic fight with a water god as well as Hector.

I think it was very interesting that Madeline Miller didn't alter the point of view - it was still from Patroclus' POV even after he had died and I think that made such an impact. I really despised Achilles' son, Neoptolemus/Pyrrhus. He acted like a right dickhead and it was disgusting that he didn't honour his dad's wish for his and Patroclus' ashes to be mingled together. In fact I was more than happy when I learned that he was killed.

Thetis is another character I truly despised from the start as she wanted nothing better than to separate Achilles and Patroclus. She disapproved of her son's association with him and more than once she told Achilles that Patroclus wasn't worth his attention. Nothing pleased me more than when Patroclus (in his spirit form) more or less turned his anger on Thetis when she visited her son's burial monument. I admit I did feel sorry for her when I learned of her history and of her wanting to save her son from the prophecy. In the end I respected her for including Patroclus' name on the monument and I was actually teary eyed when Achilles and Patroclus finally met one another in death.

Odysseus was such a fantastic character in this too. In some cases he was the voice of reason and master of trickery. Sometimes the jokes he came out with made me laugh so much and I really did admire him as a person, especially when he tried to persuade Pyrrhus to honour his late father's wishes. I think I may be biased in liking Odysseus due to the fact I've read books about him and it was ingenious of him to come up with the Trojan Horse.

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Kay M (angeleyes003) | 209 comments 9. Fat Chance by Nick Spalding

Fat Chance by Nick Spalding

Type: E-book (Kindle Unlimited)
First time read? Yes
Rating: 4/5 stars.

My opinion:

This was such an amazing book from start to finish. Nick Spalding certainly didn't disappoint me with this and I'm glad to have read it finally.

Zoe and Greg, a married couple, are both in their late 30s and throughout the years they have piled on an extra few pounds. It wasn't until Zoe's fiasco with the green dress in a changing room as well as Greg's barbecue disaster they started to rethink about their life. And that's when Zoe's best friend, Elise, comes in - they enter a weight loss competition that a local radio station host, which offers the prize of 50 thousand pounds. Both Zoe and Greg go through such an epic and hilarious six months journey to achieve their goal.

I really like the premises of the story, even though it kinda reminded me of My Big Fat Loser in some ways. Zoe and Greg is such a strong couple and the flashbacks of how they met when they were 18 and their relationship blossoming was really tender and sweet. What made me took a liking to them is instead of acting petty and horrible towards each other at times, they had a strong relationship and they shown nothing but genuine love and support towards each other throughout the ordeal of taking part in the contest. The other couples that participated in the contest were okay in their own way, but I wished I would have learned a bit more about them.

I admit I got a little bit pissed off when Elise acted like a bitch and mentioned Zoe's inability to fall pregnant live on radio air. I think that was out of order and I felt so bad for Zoe because the issue obviously bothered her. But then again Elise grew on me as I read on and I loved Zoe and Elise's banter in which Zoe says something in order to embarrass her - not only that, but when Greg joined in it was so bloody funny. Also at the end of the contest I knew that Elise was really pleased with how well Zoe progressed and that was touching to see.

The various ways in which Zoe and Greg tried to lose weight, from their diet choices and exercise routines, thoroughly entertained me and more than once I found myself chuckling quite a lot. And the more I read the book, the more delighted I was in seeing that despite their initial struggles, Zoe and Greg changed for the better as a result. They really did grow as characters and I'm just happy they took back their confidence and life. I had so much respect for Greg during the fun run challenge - in spite of being in agony and having disgusting blisters on his feet he went out of his way to lend a helping hand to a certain couple who was in last place and struggling. As for Zoe, I was proud of her when she stood up to her bitch of a boss for making her life hell. Sure, this book does have comic moments but it's not without is tender and heartwarming moments.

I think it goes to show that when you're not too careful, life does get in the way sometimes. When you find yourself putting too much weight on you're bound to take the piss out of yourself as well as someone judging you and this story deals with this. Nick Spalding does delve into the topic of what it's like to be obese and why it's important to make certain changes to ultimately gain the life you deserve. At the end I felt like I was there celebrating the couple's achievements despite the fact they came ever so close to winning the contest.

Oh, and I was pleasantly surprised in the whole segment with Zoe trying to escape from a lunatic who desperately wanted Zoe to sign her boobs. It was such a delight to see Jamie and Laura Newman along with Poppy, their daughter. It was a 'Oh my God!" moment for me because the Newmans appear in the Love series, which happens to be one of my all time favourite book series. It's clever how Nick Spalding takes his characters from another series and make them appear as a cameo in a separate book.

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