Thursday, 15 March 2018

Book Review: Six of Crows

SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo
5 Stars
Verdict: Absolutely fantastic, brimming with character.

Kaz Brekker, criminal mastermind known as Dirtyhands because he'll accept any job, no matter how bad, is offered the heist of a lifetime. Save a scientist from the Ice Court, receive millions. To pull it off, he hires a crew of misfits desperate enough to risk their lives on an impossible task.

In case you don't know, I wasn't a fan of the last Grisha series. The characters bugged me, the pace slowed, and I didn't enjoy what happened. But I loved the concept and Grisha world.

This book takes the same world and injects life into it. The characters are real and lovable, the story is fast and original, and the world-building is stronger than ever before.

The third person narrative is split between Kas, Inej, Jesper, Nina, and Matthias, which helps keeps the story churning with emotions. I didn't have a favourite character to gush over, I loved them all, and can't wait to dip into the next one to see what's next.

These guy's all have a past, and multiple flaws that make them far more relatable to Alena. They're far from a group of pals, and their motives don't always align. That made it a fantastically gripping read.

There are plenty of twists and action, and nothing about their endeavour is easy. The book ends, tempting you to the next one, paving the way for a trilogy.

Source: Bought it.
Blog: <a href="">ScookieReviews</a>

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Book Review: Grave Mistake

4 Stars
Verdict: A generic supernatural world discovered by a not-so-generic lady.

Blair is skint, which is why she sometimes pretends to be a PI. This time her client is nuts, thinking her husband is having an affair with a ghost. Blair investigates his disappearance as a non-believer, but stumbles across a whole world of urban supernatural magic that quickly changes her mind.

Blair has a strong voice filled with attitude, and it brings the whole story to life. She's not laugh out loud funny, but I smirked from time to time reading her references and slick word choices. She's damaged and insure, but strong too. Every so often, a line would really hit the nail on the head too, but overall, the writing style is quite relaxed and voice driven, rather than beautiful or vivid.

The world building isn't exactly innovative. You've got your Wizard/mage/witch cult, a vampire society, mention of werewolves and demons, and other general supernatural dwellers urban world. The Wizard can't be bothered to turn Blair into the cult so we have a story on our hands - a bit of a weak motive for letting her tag along on a seriously messed up supernatural case, but at least that bit is out of the way within a few pages and the story can take kick off.

This is a very easy story to get into, if you're a fan of the supernatural. Although, if you're a fan, you've probably already read/watched most of what happens elsewhere. If you're looking more of the same with a strong, female voice, then this is the book for you, but don't expect it to blow your mind.

It's just a bit of fun. A quick read packed with action. A light-hearted series with attitude. So it might not win awards for beautiful writing or original content, but it's entertaining with a well defined style to it.

Source: Bought it!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Book Review: The Maze Runner

THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner
4 Stars
Verdict: Better the second time around.
#2 - The Scorch Trials
#3 - The Death Cure

Thomas wakes up in a strange glade with no memory but a sense of familiarity. He's surrounded by 60 other boys and an unsolvable maze filled with deadly beasts called grievers. The rest of the boys have survived in the glade for over two years, but when Thomas arrives, everything changes. It's the beginning of the end, unless they can solve the maze.

I read this when I was still a teenager in 2011, and straight after I finished Hunger Games. It wasn't as good so I marked it as 3 stars, but after reading another 100 books, I think this is more than deserving of a higher rating.

The mystery is intense. I couldn't remember the book very well, which put me in the same situation as Thomas - a feeling that I've been here before, but can't remember who to trust or how to solve their situation.

Like last time, I felt sorry for the way Thomas is blamed for everything for the simple reason that things happened soon after he arrived, and felt the arguments went round in circles. At the same time, it kept the tension taut throughout, so it didn't bother me as much as before.

Sure, it's a bit repetitive when it talks about the memory loss and or has a go at Thomas for things he can't control. And while there's a lot going on, the pace only feels slow because we know what's coming and we just want them to get on with it. And there are some gross spit moments that are unnecessary. These are minor quibbles on an otherwise excellent story that really gets you wonder what on earth is going on.

My only real issue with the book is the ending and the 'answer' or 'reason' to all the mystery. I'll avoid spoilers and just say that it didn't make enough sense. It feels like the author thought of the mysterious situation first and worked out a reason for it last minute. A rush of things happened in the last few pages which baffled me, more so than just a cliff hanger. It almost forces you to read the next book right away so that the story can make a lick of sense. That's where the fifth star drops for me.

Source: Bought it. 

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Book Review: Genuine Fraud

GENUINE FRAUD by E. Lockhart
2 Stars
Verdict: Confusing and pointless (sorry!).

Jule is on the run. I'm not sure there's really more to say. Piecing together the why and when is up to the reader, but it all revolves around an entitled college dropout called Imogene.

I struggled to get the point of this one. The story isn't in chronological order, which sounds quirky and fun, but what it really means is that you get the punchline before the context. We know how the story ends from the beginning, and we get a good sense of what's going on early on, so for the rest of the book we're just waiting for it to happen in a jumbled and confusing order. A reread might help uncover more to the story, but it's not interesting enough to go through it all again.

In the end, there aren't any real winners of the story or much of a point. The motives seemed thin and flaky at best. I was still searching for reason it was written in the last few chapters, turning the next page in thought, only to be greeted by the acknowledgements. Perhaps I'm missing something?

I just didn't really get it. It lacks the beautiful prose of We Were Liars, and the strong voice of Fly on the Wall. It just didn't hit the spot for me.

Source: Bought it to complete my 2017 reading challenge.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Writing festival 2018 - Come join us!

Thanks to everyone who has shown interest so far for the Writing Fest 2018 in April. Articles have begun to trickle in, but there's still plenty of time to take part.

If you're interested but haven't let me know yet, please drop me a note using the contact form on the left (this might not be visible on a phone).

I'm still looking for writers and book reviewers who are interested in any of the following:

1) An article related to writing or publishing fiction
2) A giveaway of your book (I'll be using rafflecopter to randomise a winner)
3) Author interview
4) Chapter one of your manuscript for an open review
5) Adding your manuscript to the beta-reader yellow pages

Show your interest - 28th of February
Article complete - 25th of March
After a round of editing, your post will be scheduled to go live in April!

Don't forget to also send me a list of social media links so that readers can connect to you, view your blog, or purchase your book after reading your post.

Cheers for reading!

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Book Review: The Gender Game

THE GENDER GAME by Bella Forrest
4 Stars
Verdict: Improves along the way.

Two sides of the river, each ruled by a different gender, both on the cusp of war. When Violet accidentally commits womanslaughter, she's given one last chance at life - to cross the river to the male dominated state where woman's rights are suppressed, and steal back a mysterious egg that contains her country's secrets.

I almost wrote this off early as another not-as-good-as-the-Hunger-Games dystopian book. The writing style is quite flat and sometimes overly explanatory. Some of the main characters, like Lee, lack personality, and there was a lot of Q&A dolled out by a dull character in said flat tone. The concept also seemed reliant on the reader not caring too much about why a delinquent who has killed two women by accident is the only one right for a secret mission. However, the pace and world building seemed reasonable though, so I was set to offer it three stars.

But it got better.

Unlike Lee, Viggo is an interesting character. He's complex and sometimes even perplexing, and the way he tries to suss out Violet had me reading on eagerly. The story started to take a different turn than I had expected, and I started to really enjoy the way the story unfolded. The writing was still flat, but that didn't matter. It wasn't confusing or too hinderous, and it's not the beauty of this story. The beauty is in the story itself.

Violet is an okay narrator. Sometimes I found she lacked emotion, especially in the beginning, but she's a strong fighter with a good moral compass. She has a tendency to act first and worry later which makes her terrible for the mission at hand but excellent for action scenes.

I have to admit, I felt uncomfortable at first reading someone's fiction of woman's rights being suppressed when this is a reality for some countries, but I don't think the author intends the story to be a political statement. It doesn't consider the LBGT community, or tackle any big issues. It's just a story of learning to love against society's prejudices. I can't get angry at what it's not, but if you're expecting it to be these things then perhaps this isn't the book for you.

It ends on a high, with book two ready to start right away. I think I'll probably continue with this series when I need a light and fast read.

Source: Kindle lending library.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Book Review: Number The Stars

2 Stars
Verdict: Holocaust story suitable for children.

This is a young children's book set in Denmark during the second world war. It's purpose is to educate the young about the holocaust, and tells the story of a young girl's family helping to save another young girl and their family.

I'll be honest. I only read this because I was waaay behind on my reading challenge, and I knew it was a short book. I needed a speedy read, and that's what I got. Besides, it was by the author of The Giver and has won awards so it sounded like a good choice to broaden my reading horizons with.

I knew it would be simple, but I hoped it would still be entertaining like Coraline, or unexpected like The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly, or relevant to all ages like A Monster Calls. Unfortunately, I didn't think it was entertaining or unexpected. The tone was very young, and it's not written in a way that can be appreciated when you're older - no quirks, no suspense, no added sugar.

It was okay because it was short. If I'm really honest, it was dull and dry. It had a purpose, which it fulfils very well, but it's not a read I'd recommend, especially if you're over the age of 10.

Source: Bought it to complete my 2017 reading challenge.