Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Review: Heartsick

Heartsick Heartsick by Chelsea Cain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not quite the page turner that I was expecting from the hype that I had read about this book, but a quick and easy summer read. What kept me interested though was the story arc around our broken detective Archie and the psychopath Gretchen Lowell who had previously captured Archie and tortured him for 10 days before releasing him. This relationship has so much potential, which I hope will be developed in later books as there wasn't enough of it in this one!

(I did also appreciate the nod to "Silence of the Lambs" by Gretchen by at one point by calling our intrepid reporter Susan 'Clarice')

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Friday, 3 June 2016

Review: The Wise Man's Fear

The Wise Man's Fear The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved reading this book, so much so that I think that I had convinced myself that it was one of those stories that would just go on forever so was bitterly disappointed when it came to the inevitable end. There is something so satisfying about becoming completely lost in another world. Obviously I have developed my own theories about the Chandrian, Denna and our main man Kvothe himself but there is still so much I am curious about and so much to still be explained that I am busting at the seams for the sequel to come out. At worst, this was a good reminder as to why I should always wait to read a series until it is finished as I am sure that the wait is now going to be the death of me!

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Saturday, 9 April 2016

Review: The Magpie Lord

The Magpie Lord The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A bit of a surprise this one, not at all what I was expecting the story to be but found myself being absorbed by an interesting lot and intriguing characters. My only criticism is that is was too short! I loved the dynamics between our main characters, the reluctant Lord Crane, his manservant Merrick and the justicar Stephen Day brought in to help protect Crane. The dialogue was witty and sharp, characters likeable and the story flew by so quickly I have had to invest in the rest of the series to keep up my new found addiction.

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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found this to be an engaging and fun read with some interesting ideas and fun characters. Basically there are 4 versions of London which exist in different dimensions (for the lack of a better word) on the same location - Red London where magic is strong, Grey London where magic has more or less died out and London is more industrialised, White London which is controlled by evil twins who have taken the throne by force and Black London which became too unstable and greedy with its magic and fell, which resulted in the other 3 Londons sealing themselves off from the Black to protect themselves. Within these very different cities however there are certain key structures that remain constant, which is an idea that I loved. Character-wise we have the spunky street urchin and wannabe pirate Lila who I adored, Rhy the prince to the Throne of Red London and Kell, who lives in Red London but is one of the rare few who can use blood magic to travel between the different Londons and so is used by the various royal families as a messenger. Kell was also an intriguing character and I am sure that there is more than meets the eye with him too.

Whilst this was a good stand alone story, the second in the series has just come out but I have heard rumours that this ends on a cliffhanger so I might just have to wait until the third comes out so I can binge read!

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Monday, 28 March 2016

Review: Post Office

Post Office Post Office by Charles Bukowski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first time reading Bukowski and I'm glad that I finally gave it a go as I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I was going to! It read very much like someone was just sitting you down and telling you a selection of stories from their life and their experiences of falling in and out of work at the Post Office and the characters that they meet both in the offices and on their mail routes, plus his experiences at the race track. The main character Henry wasn't really a likeable chap, but you still find yourself routing for him as everyone around him seems to be unreasonable. Will read more.

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Thursday, 24 March 2016

Review: Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord

Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, I'm giving this one 4 stars because I thoroughly enjoyed this fun, witty and charming story. Yes, I always do baulk at the idea of reading out and out romance stories, but then realise that there is also so much more to it than a bit of bodice-ripping and flexing of muscles! There is a completely valid and engaging storyline (our heroine runs a "safe house" for women who need help/somewhere safe to stay and is running out of money to keep it going), strong characters (again a heroine who isn't a vapid, sappy, weak-willed sop, she is strong minded and independent plus a swoon-worthy hero who isn't full of alpha male bullsh*t) as well as wit and humour - in fact Book Riot have published a great article here today about romance novels which explains things a lot better then I can.

This is the second Sarah MacLean novel that I have read, and fully intend to read more!

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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Review: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Allie Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half blog is one of my 'go-to' favourite reads if I am ever in need of a chuckle or pick me up, so I can't believe that I have left it so long before reading her book. Depending on my mood at the time, various stories literally have me laughing and crying to myself, making me look like a loon to those around me. From her retelling of her childhood love of cake, to her dog to her battle with depression, Allie is very insightful with a dark humour that is always right on par. Love this so much.

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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Review: The Last Kingdom

The Last Kingdom The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whilst finding myself on a bit of a Viking binge recently thanks to discovering the TV series on Amazon Prime (how did I miss that series before?!) I have been searching and searching for recommended books on that period of history and was happy to see that not only had Bernard Cornwell written about the Saxons, that there was a while blooming series too! I was delighted to see that it featured my beloved Ragnar Lothbrook, although this time as a supporting character to Uhtred, son of Uhtred, the son of an English noble adopted by the Danes following his father's death.

I found this to be a fascinating look into a period of time that I admit that I know very little about. and was very interested in Cornwell's medieval spellings of the English place names and had great fun in trying to match the towns and rivers mentioned to the modern day equivalents, being from that part of the country that I think would have been just outside the kingdom of Wessex in Dumonia in the South West Peninsula. Will definitely be reading more in this saga.

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Thursday, 4 February 2016

Review: Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not exactly a ground-breaking novel in this particular genre as this is your standard urban fantasy with the usual mix of witches, vampires and werewolves. The main difference is that our heroine owns and runs a cupcake shop and I do admit to suddenly developing a craving for them now as they sounded so yummy. I found this to be very reminiscent of series such as the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong but not quite as well written, I don't mean that is a spiteful way as this is the first in this series, and as I have said in reviews before, first novels are often a little shaky due to having to introduce the characters, settings and relationships. Its not a bad novel, just not the best I've read.

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Saturday, 30 January 2016

Review: Radiance

Radiance Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

I would like to start with the disclaimer saying that the time that I took to read Radiance in no way reflects how much I enjoyed it - I seemed to take a long time to finish this one due to stress at work and being overly tired when I got home in the evening.

Now, that being said, I can't explain how much I LOVED Radiance! It was so refreshing and unique to read, the setting being an kind of alt-history hollywood heyday era where mankind has colonised the entire solar system. It isn't a continuous narrative; the story is told in a series of film scripts, newspaper articles, personal letters and recordings from a variety of characters which reminded me very much of the story telling in some video games, such as the Bioshock series, where the story unfolds by the player listening to a series of audio logs. Also numerous themes and storylines unfurl, the primary of which being the disappearance of film maker Severin Unck who was investigating a disaster that had taken place in a village on Venus.

In my mind Radiance is (amongst other things) a commentary on social media, living life in the public eye, and the glut of "reality" TV programmes that dominate our channels, where personal dramas are shot and reshot until that perfect moment is captured and shared with the world. Indeed, poor child-Severin is more at home with a camera as a companion rather than an actual mother.

It wasn't an easy book to read initially as it did take a little while (until around the 30% mark on my Kindle) to get to grips with the storytelling style and settings but I was certainly glad that I persevered with it.

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Monday, 25 January 2016

Review: Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ

Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A funny, entertaining and informative look into our guts (literally!) and all the little bacteria that live within. I certainly learned a lot about how to look after and protect my precious innards and admit that things did get a tad icky in places.

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Monday, 11 January 2016

Review: The Siren

The Siren The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Difficult to give this one a star rating, from the premise this should have been a trashing romp like 50 Shades of Grey, but turned out to be more mature and grown up, and a hell of a lot darker. I really liked the characters here, which were fully fleshed out and varied, from Nora the erotica writer trying to get herself taken seriously as a proper writer so that she can give up her night job of being a dominatrix, to the creepy-ass dominant Soren who Nora has recently left, to the gorgeously innocent Wesley, Nora's live-in intern. Throw a repressed Englishman who happens to be Nora's editor into the mix and we have a whole range of characters who, to me, represent the different struggles that Nora faces in her life. I'm sure I'm reading too much into this really, but it was a good read and you can read as much or as little into it as you want which is why I am tossing up between 3 or 4 stars. I'm feeling generous, so 4 it is!

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Saturday, 2 January 2016

Review: We Should All Be Feminists

We Should All Be Feminists We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thought that it was about time that I actually got around to reading this essay, which is basically a summary of Chimamanda's TED talk from back in 2012, especially as it has been all over the news recently after Sweden has decided to make it compulsory reading for all 16 year old students. It is a very brief insight into life in Africa and modern day attitudes towards women and the societal pressures placed on both males and females and how this needs to change. Insightful and humorous, it has also encouraged me to read more of the author's work as well as think about my own views on feminism and human rights.

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Friday, 1 January 2016

Review: Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery

Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun romp with a group kick-ass female adventurers who make up your traditional role-playing group consisting of a cleric (who in this case in atheist), dwarven tank (who shaves her beard), elven magician and halfling (smidgen) thief called Betty who was my personal favourite with her love of booze and candy. Throw in some fantastic warcrys ("Rat Queens! Put the sexy back in large wholesale slaughter!") and swearing ("fucktarts!") and this was a great way to spend an afternoon where my brain was mushy due to being in the throws of a nasty cold and lack of sleep. This volume collected the first 5 issues of Rat Queens, but I found that just as I was getting into the swing of the reading and involved with the stories, it ended all too quickly. I will definitely look into inventing in future issues.

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Read Harder Challenge 2016

And here we are with another year and another challenge list!  Courtesy of those kind people over at Book Riot here is a list of this year's very cunning Read Harder targets.  Lets see how we'll do this year!

  1. Read a horror book 
  2. Read a nonfiction book about science - Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated organ
  3. Read a collection of essays 
  4. Read a book out loud to someone else 
  5. Read a middle grade novel 
  6. Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography) 
  7. Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel 
  8. Read a book originally published in the decade you were born - Post Office by Charles Bukowski
  9. Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award 
  10. Read a book over 500 pages long 
  11. Read a book under 100 pages - A Case of Spirits by K J Charles
  12. Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender - All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
  13. Read a book that is set in the Middle East 
  14. Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia 
  15. Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900 - Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean
  16. Read the first book in a series by a person of color 
  17. Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years - Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe
  18. Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie - High Rise by J G Ballard
  19. Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes - We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  20. Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction) 
  21. Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction) 
  22. Read a food memoir 
  23. Read a play 
  24. Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness - Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh