Category Archives: Book Review

Ash Princess Trilogy – Laura Sebastian

You may have surmised from the below posts that I like YA fantasy. You are not wrong. It is one of my favourite genres at the moment. Just a shame you have to go to the children’s section in book shops! I don’t need a fancy different ‘adult’ cover, just put it more in the middle rather than next to Horrid Henry!

Plot

We join Theo as her mother is killed and the Kalovaxians take over Astrea. Theo becomes Thora and the Ash Princess. We see that the Kalovaxians are not peaceful rulers but rather come and make the natives slaves and take all the natural resources from a country and then move onto the next one. We eventually find many countries that have been through a Kalovaxian rule and many people are now displaced.

Theo is friends with a Kalovaxians girl, Cress. However, Cress’s father is the Theyn, the right hand (and sword) of the ruler. He is the one that killed Theo’s mother in front of her. So a bit of a strange friendship! Theo does wonder if she is little more than a pet to Cress but she has literally no one else. That is until three Astrean’s sneak into the castle to rescue their Queen. Blaise, Heron and Artemisia (or Art) become Theo’s new guards (after eradicating the previous ones) called Shadows who follow her every move. This is to gather information for the resistance and try and bring down the Kaiser. During this time, the Kaiser’s son, Soren, starts to ‘date’ Theo. Theo initially uses Soren to be in a trap but once they have left the palace (he as a prisoner) she realises his loyalty to her and he becomes part of her inner circle.

As the books go on, you discover that Theo has access to power herself, able to control fire.

IMG_20200302_134326Opinion

I haven’t really delved into the plot for the other books in the trilogy because doing so would be major spoilers and I think you should learn about the book for yourself. I loved this series. I’ve seen from reading other reviews that some people think that Sebastian’s use of the Germanic light skinned invaders and the darker skinned natives along with the love triangle and other themes throughout the series are lazy and copy-cat like. Whilst I can understand that and it is true to an extent, for me it didn’t take away my enjoyment of the book. Unlike other books, such as Eragon or Lord of the Rings, the other languages shown you would never be able to ‘learn’ like some people know the full elfish language etc. For me that is better. I don’t need to learn a new language in my light reading. Maybe it doesn’t add as much depth as those other worlds but these books are much shorter and a more standard length, especially when compared to the Eragon series.

The books didn’t drag, keeping a believable pace all the way through. Sometimes Sebastian had our main character/s knocked out or in a deep sleep to make a few weeks pass and then we get an overview which is both slightly lazy but also a clever way to make time and action pass quickly.

The main 5 lead heroes are definitely written well and Heron’s homosexuality is so normalised it isn’t even a thing which I think is well done.

For those who have read some previous posts (thinking along the line of the Hunger Games review etc) then you know I have an issue with endings! I think they are the hardest thing to write in a series and all this anticipation has been built up throughout however many books and now you have to end it. I think this one was relatively well done. It was slightly predictable. The person who obviously had to die at some point did and pretty much everyone else survived but sometimes it is nice to have a relatively happy ending and not have a random death placed in (looking at you Tonks and Lupin!).

Overall, an 8.5/10. A great series I would highly recommend.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ash Princess Trilogy, Book Review, Christopher Paolini, Eragon, Harry Potter, JK Rowling, Laura Sebastian, The Hunger Games Trilogy, YA, Young Adult

Home Work – Julie Andrews

I seem to be reading a lot of autobiographies at the moment! They never used to appeal to me when I was younger and I do think they have to grab me in some way to keep me going. I loved Julie Andrews when I was younger. Sound of Music is easily in my top 5 movies of all time. This is how out of the loop I am when it comes to autobiographies – I didn’t even know she had already had one out! Home Work follows Andrews as she embarks on her Hollywood years.

Plot

As said above, this follows Andrews from her time entering into Hollywood to the mid 80s.

Opinion

As stated above, I love Julie Andrews! So it comes as no real surprise that I do like this! I hadn’t realised she was in her 80s until this book. Which seems ridiculous but with her age in Sound of Music, obviously they stay that age in your head. I wonder if we will see the final book written with her input? Her daughter is the ghost writer and Andrews seemingly has written diaries all her life as they make a great impact here so it is possible that we could get the 3rd installment post Andrews but then again, people are living well into their 90s and she did do publicity for this book so is still fit and able.

I would say that this book has made me want to get the first book on her life. Whilst there was a recap at the beginning of the book, it seemed such a fascinating period of her life and the hardships she had to overcome look like they would be interesting to read about.

I did like this book, and I found interesting to read about her experiences on the films I have seen (Poppins, Sound of Music and Victor/Victoria) but I must confess I didn’t really know much about the other films she was in and did find that to drag somewhat. Her experience in Cambodia and Vietnam when she went as part of a charity trip was horrific and one of the better parts of the book as she reacted to what she was seeing. I did think some aspects were brushed over slightly quickly. We didn’t really get into her brother’s drug abuse, which might have been for the family but seems a shame we couldn’t go further into that. Same with her step-daughter’s relationship with her boyfriend that Blake Edwards (Andrews’s husband) disapproved of enough to cut her off when she moved in with him. This comment just popped up with no forewarning of this boyfriend and was rarely mentioned again. I understand it was maybe a ‘we need to add it in as it happened but we don’t want to go over the details for the family’ situation but seemed like the family connections which I love to learn about were very much brushed over.

Andrews was very candid about her relationship with her husband, Blake, discussing his pain pill addiction, his depression and at times volatile nature were all interesting.

Overall, I’d give this 7.5/10. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Autobiography, Book Review, Julie Andrews

Unfollow- Megan Phelps-Roper

Full disclosure – I did go to an event by Megan on her book tour. It was great. She was lovely and answered every question which as some, I am sure, were challenging for her in terms of a baying crowd demanding why she said and did hurtful things and then questioning why she decided that they were hurtful things to say. I admire her bravery in facing up to what her and family did and are currently doing is not really ‘the Word of the Lord’. But anyway, she was great, it was great, the book was great.

Plot

Basically, just go and watch Louis Theroux’s documentary called The Most Hated Family in America. 

Opinion

It’s always slightly harder to review autobiographies. This is the author’s own truth. This is their story. Who am I to say, well this was a bit boring when it was their life and they lived it? That being said, I have read it and this is a review site so here we go!

This book challenged me in a good way. I have to admit, I went into this book thinking how can anyone believe in the Westboro ideology and you must be brainwashed to believe that. And I still think that BUT I also can see them as a family which I hadn’t before. They were still parents loving their children and trying to bring them up. They were still children who defied their parents as all kids do and pushed the line. It was interesting to learn that the Phelps name was first heard as champions in the race wars of the 60s and 70s as the founder of Westboro believed in equality for both black and white people and fought to help black people when other lawyers wouldn’t. It shows that the religious zeal of the family if applied to the right outlet could also be a force for good. A major lesson to take from this story.

On the whole, I found the beginning to slightly drag a little and I found it most interesting when Megan started to doubt her family’s beliefs and ideology. It gives me hope that Twitter can be used for good as well as all the other horrible things the social network is famed for.

I also found the copious amounts of bible verses placed about slightly hard to deal with. When it tied in with the story then I got it but they were placed about quite frequently. Though as Megan herself said in her talk I went to, they are in italics so you can skip them quite easily!

Overall, because it challenged my own prejudice against this family and enlightened me on a topic I thought I knew (because I had seen all the Theroux documentaries) I give this a 7.5/10.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Autobiography, Biography, Book Review

Currently…

I am currently reading Megan Phelps-Roper’s autobiography, Unfollow. It’s a great read so far – I never thought I’d feel sympathy and outrage over a family in equal measure that is so hated. Shows that every family is the same, just some have extreme outcomes.

Review to come soon!

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Presents, Side Note

Giver of Stars – JoJo Moyes

Hello, yes your eyes are not playing tricks on you! I am back… for now. It has been a tumultuous year – I recently lost my dad and as an only child that has been fun to deal with… (not). But 2020 has happened and life hasn’t gotten too much better but hey! That just means reading a book and escaping into another world is so much more inviting! My pre-Christmas gift to myself was JoJo Moyes’s Giver of Stars. Side story – when I went to the London Book Fair, I rested my weary feet in one of the presentation areas whilst it was empty… a few minutes later it filled up and JoJo Moyes walked on to the stage and discussed how she got into writing books. Never been more happy to have sore feet!

 

 

Plot

We meet our young protagonist, Alice, as she is wooed by an exotic American who takes from her stuffy, upper-class, English Family on an extoic adventure to the mid-west of America. Alice finds herself in another ‘cage’ of a family and struggles to adapt to the middle-upper class American families she finds herself in.  She finds herself accepting an offer at the local church to become part of the packhorse library, taking books to the far corners of the village where it is difficult to reach. Alice falls in love with the ladies who she becomes friends with and finds that she has found her place in the world, if it weren’t for her pesky husband and his awful Father who run the nearby mines. Think legal slave labour and you’re nearly there with their methods for running them.

Alice’s new friend and boss, Margery O’Hare, doesn’t really care what people think of her but she has a loyal group of friends and she always does right by people. Though many tarnish her with the same name as her father. Margery finds herself on the wrong side of Alice’s father-in-law and madness ensues.

Opinion

I loved this book. I love to read and my career is in publishing and I was also a library assistant as a teenager so this book is almost a love letter to me! The characters are well rounded and all have an interesting backstory that I wouldn’t be surprise of Moyes goes and writes a few prequels or sequels with some of the other characters. The main story line flows nicely and there are a few surprises along the way. It has a strong feminist message but also one of the importance of education and reading can have for women and the general population.

The slight downer is the rumours of plagiarism from Moyes from the author of The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek but I liked it that much I bought the audio version for my grandma!

9/10.

IMG_20191117_160554

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, JoJo Moyes

It’s been a while!

Well…

Somehow two years has passed since I last posted… TWO YEARS! How did that happen?

What’s happened in that time? Well you might remember that I was doing an MA in publishing. Well yey! I passed and got a Merit. Go me. Then life happened. I met someone. Got a job as an assistant publisher for deCoubertin Books. Moved house. Adopted a puppy. Phew – I feel exhausted writing that down.

So life got in the way of blogging. But I am back! Ish. I can’t remember how many books I have read or how many books I have to read. I know this past year my reading has slowed and allowed only time to re-read the best ones.

Such as… Harry Potter!

Plot

Really? Do I need to tell you the plot? Sigh… here goes.

We meet a 1 year old Harry Potter as he is being left on the doorstep of his aunt and uncles. Why is he being left on the doorstep instead of someone knocking and explaining that Petunia’s sister has been murdered by Lord Voldemort and she needs to adopt her nephew I don’t quite know but that is the way of Dumbledore.

Harry grows up in a world that is very normal, bar the scar on his forehead and living with relatives rather than his parents, oh and not knowing he is a wizard. On his eleventh birthday he finds out about his magical blood and sorrowful past and attends Howarts: School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry finds friends (Ron and Hermione) and learns to fly for the house quidditch team. All rather exciting. During his time at school, he has to battle with Lord Voldemort, see his friends die, fall in love and hand in his Potions homework. Just your usual high school experience.

Opinion

I like, many people in this world, love Harry Potter. It is a pathway to another world. A world which I really really wish existed (I really hope it doesn’t now as I didn’t get a letter on my 11th birthday!) JK Rowling has this amazing ability to create this whole new world which makes sense. As Harry has no idea about anything he has to learn about it and this is the beauty and simplicity in Rowling’s approach. You as the reader learn alongside Harry so by the time the 7th book exists you know your Boggarts from your Dementors and Transfiguration from your Herbology. Someone who has no idea of Harry Potter would really struggle to pick up The Deathly Hallows and be able to follow it just for the language and terminology used. I know when discussing Harry Potter with friends in front of my mother, she claims it is like listening to another language with how little she understands what is being said!

I feel that this also adds another layer which I doubt Rowling intended. It is like a secret club. Those who understand and those who don’t. A secret club with a few billion people but still… secret.

Verdict: You can’t love it as much as I and not give it at least 9.75/10 (I’m looking at you Order of the Phoenix for letting down the 0.25!) Also, shout out to all the Hufflepuffs out there!

(P.S. if you feel like seeing what I’ve been doing for the past year check out this Instagram account [yes this is a shameful plug])

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, Fantasy, Harry Potter, JK Rowling, YA, Young Adult

The Dragon Blood Collection – Lindsay Buroker

hatWell. Here I am. It’s been awhile! 8 months have passed since I last wrote and so much has happened! I now have an MA in publishing and seem to be getting a book published next year. I’ve had three jobs and am looking for the next as my temporary position winds down at the end of the year. A lot has happened. Have I stopped reading hence why no posts? Nope, but having 2 jobs and trying to complete an MA at the same time can leave one with very little downtime to not only read a book but to then review it!

Ah well. I am back. Just in time for Christmas. And this new book series I am about to review I would recommend to get someone for Christmas.

Plot21797289

We start of this series with Balanced on the Blade’s Edge. Here we meet Colonel Ridge Zirkander and he is in trouble. So much so that he is shipped off from his flight crew and sent to manage a prison in the middle of the snowy mountains.

Below this prison, Sardelle Terushan awakens after 300 years in a magic coma. She awakens to world where Dragons no longer exist and their dragon blood has weakened in humans, meaning no more sorcerers.  In fact, anyone with magic (or accused of magic) is so greatly feared that they are often sentenced to horrific deaths. No longer physically attached to her soulblade, Jaxi, Sardelle has to face this new world alone without magic.

Ridge and Sardelle must battle their own issues to trust one another and leave this hell-hole.

22307971The next in the series is Deathmaker and here we meet two new characters. Cas is the youngest in Zirkander’s flight crew. She has an uncanny ability to always shoot her target and loves to be part of the wolf flight crew.

Deathmaker is a scientist/warrior who was kicked out by his army and now lives as a notorious pirate with a grudge against Zirkander. When captured and placed within a cell, his luck changes as he finds himself with Cas, his enemy’s lieutenant. They need each other to escape but can they trust each other.

Opinion

These are just the first two of the six book collection. So far I am hooked. Ironically, I had bought the first three as a set and had never gotten round to them, then BookBub offered me the first one for free and having read it, tried to get the 2nd one on Amazon to then be told I already had it. Whilst this suggests the blurb was good enough for me to download the books, it clearly didn’t entice me enough to want to read it. However, I am glad I did.

Fast paced, witty and enjoyable are what I would use to describe this collection thus far. The characters have depth and by making the 5 main characters known through the first two books separately means we have a deeper understanding and knowledge of them and can now move on to the rest of the series with this greater understanding instead of having just 2 dimensional characters but having them in all of the books all of the time.

The setting seems a mix between modern day and medieval. There are flying machines similar to our fighter planes and airships yet magic is tolerated as much as it was during the Pendle Witches or Salem trials and is believed to have died out. Guns are used but so are swords. Buroker has used the best of all fantasy worlds and merged them together to enable primitive mindsets to live alongside mechanical evolution with magic.

If you are not a fan of independent authors due to the utter rubbish that can be out there then I suggest you have a go at these books to alter your mindset. Buroker has managed to create a very complete and accurate book that flows and feels like traditionally published book without actually being one. For fans of the Inheritance Cycle or the Lord of the Rings Trilogy this should be on your “to read list”.

All in all a great read so far and I am excited to have a complete book series to get my teeth into once more. My verdict a solid 7.5/10. 

51098R0ACNL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Lindsay Buroker

The Geneva Decision – Seeley James

Screenshot_2015-03-23-11-38-34For those of you in the publishing world, in a few weeks we have the Bologna Book Fair! With my MA course, I am able to go to Bologna for free (well free as long as you don’t count the course fee!). So hopefully I will have something fun to report when I get back. Who knows, maybe I’ll see you there!

This book today was found, once again, via BookBub. For those not subscribed to BookBub, go for it! It’s a great way to discover new titles and genres!

Plot

We meet our protagonist, Pia Sabel, right from the get go. An ex Olympic soccer player (or football if your English!), she becomes the boss of her adoptive father’s security company. Apparently Pia had a rather traumatic first few years, where she saw her mother and father murdered and threatened to be killed herself. Luckily, her adopted dad had a bit of money to be able to employ body guards and decided to start up his own security company to help Pia.

Pia is out on a ‘job’ and spots a shady guy. Following him, she sees him shoot her potential employer. After she tackles him and hands him over to the police, we see that he has an accomplice. The police blunder and the assassin escapes, plunging Pia and Sabel security into the shady world of bankers and assassins. A journey that takes her from Switzerland to Colombia and back to continental Europe, rookie Pia makes mistakes, friends, loyalty and respect in her new playing field.

Opinion

Enjoyment wise, this was a great book. Pia was a relatable character. She had been moddle-coddled by her over-protective father all her life. Even when she was on a soccer tour, she had her own security. The two agents with her show how inexperienced Pia in the spy game and the derision showed by some of the team is one that is very believable in a male orientated world.

The problem for me with this book was the level of disbelief. How does an olympic soccer player know what an assassin looks like from his demeanor on her first case out? I’d expect James Bond, a secret service spy and ex-officer in the Navy to be able to but not Pia. Her ability to incapacitate the assassin is slightly ridiculous, when again, she has no ‘spy’ experience. The fact that Pia is the leader of her group is just asking for her to die. Yes she is the owner of the company but relying on the experience of other people is more believable, and when she is seen to have promoted someone for this specific role, she still ignores them. Why would someone who wasn’t the best shot, is a rookie and no ability to decide if a situation is too dangerous lead a team to potential slavers?

If it wasn’t for these problems, this book would easily be an 8 or 9. However, due to my inability to believe some of the situations, my verdict is 6/10. Worth a read but just lacking a decent editor.suicide-tourism

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Seeley James, Spy

Harry and the Wrinklies – Alan Temperley

IMAG0733_1Hello! I hope this finds you all well. Today’s book is one of my favourite children’s books, Harry and the Wrinklies. I can’t remember how I ended up with such a copy but I loved it and watched the tv series when it aired on CITV.

Plot

We meet Harry at the funeral of his wealthy parents and he is being shipped off to live with his ancient Aunties in the middle of no where. As soon as he sees them on the platform he feels so disappointed in how his life is turning out to be. He loved his parents and his life. However, on the drive to his new home, Auntie Florrie shows off her car’s ability and this old rusted car turns into a purring race car. This is just beginning of the strange happenings that occur around his Aunts. Upon arriving at Lagg Hall, Harry meets the rest of the inhabitants and his Aunt’s friends: Mrs. Good, the housekeeper; Nutty Slack, Gardner and Handyman; Dot, Fingers, Huggy, Angel, Max and Tangle – Harry’s new dog. In the first few days, he has more fun with these pensioners than he has ever had in his life and he realises that perceptions can be deceiving. With the stories of a haunted woods, the arrival of his evil ex-nanny and the burning question of what are the OAP’s up to late at night, Harry has plenty to keep him (and us) occupied at Lagg Hall.

Opinion

I’ve already stated that this was my favourite book and it is easy to see why. As a child, this book holds all the mystery and danger needed as well as good guys and bad guys. Everything is seemingly black-and-white but with grey areas only noticeable as you get older. The idea of grandparent like figures being as fun and as adventurous as Harry’s new family is, is one that many children’s authors have grasped and run with i.e. David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny. 

Temperley creates an idyllic world, not dissimilar to Enid Blyton’s world. Harry lives in a massive old mansion, with a tower bedroom, woods, lake, folly and animals. The ideal place to grow up. The amount of danger present does suggest more of an older child reader, with bodily harm coming to Harry often. Yet the good guys win and the bad guys pay, as how it should be.

All in all, a great book. One that I still read now and remember my love of it as a child. My verdict 9/10. The follow up isn’t as good but if you loved this one then get the sequel; Harry and the Treasure of Eddie Carver. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Alan Temperley, Book Review, Children's Fiction

Richelle Mead

All I ever seem to do on this blog is apologise for the delay in writing a new post but as it is has been the festive period I won’t this time. Christmas and New Year are the busiest time to be working in any form of customer service and working in a nightclub just adds to this. So yes, I have been busy working and studying (*cough* relaxing *cough*).

So as the perceptive of you would have noticed, there is no book title above. Just “Richelle Mead”. No I haven’t forgotten to put one up there, I just don’t see the need to with Mead. So far I have read 20/23 of her books and I cannot give any a lesser mark than the other. If you have read my Vampire Academy review, you can see how much I gushed over that and the following series’ have been the same. You may be wondering why I haven’t just written about an author before but the answer is simple. Richelle Mead is the first author since Enid Blyton that I can honestly say I will read any of their work. I kid you not. I love Rizzoli and Isles but haven’t read any of Gerritsen’s others; Harry Potter is one of the greatest series’ ever written but I am not enthralled by Rowling’s other narratives; I could perhaps say they same thing about Stephanie Mayer later if she writes any more but only due to my love of The HostTwilight never really putting itself into the ‘must read every year’ category on my shelves.  From this we can surmise that I love characters. I will follow them to the ends of the earth and back. Their relationships, quests and challenges enthral and amuse but I often find authors to be disappointing in other areas. Take Garci and Stohl from Beautiful CreaturesTogether they have created these characters and world that mesmerises and amazes, yet separately and on separate stories, I found them uninteresting.

Back to Mead. It started with Vampire Academy which lead onto the spin off series of Bloodlines. From there I decided to give the Georgina Kincaid series a go and then The Age of X and now, finally, The Dark Swan series. I am literally devouring every one of her novels as quickly as she can produce them and have even accepted the £5+ charge for the e-book editions (something I usual avoid doing – you don’t get the physical book so why pay more than £3?) Every single one has had a developed plot line, interesting main AND support characters and twists that are sometimes completely out of the blue (I’m looking at you Dimitri from VA!) The first two mentioned are YA books but this doesn’t take away from a developed Adult writer. All Mead did was tone down the sex scenes (which are quite detailed in some of the books – when you write about a succubus who feeds off of sex that tends to happen) and take out the swear words. The essence of Mead’s work stays the same, excellent dialogue and believable stories.

In conclusion; if you are struggling for a book to read, a friend to buy for or just want to explore a new author give Richelle Mead a go. Every one of her books are easily a 10/10. Trust me, you wont be disappointed!

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy, YA