Monday, 13 March 2017

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

4 stars
Verdict: Very 'readable'.

It's my favourite type of narrator, the naive in a broken world. Charlie (if that is in fact his real name) watches, listens, and both understands more than others as well as fails to comprehend what is obvious to the reader. He's very different from others his age, more honest, possibly slightly autistic, and broken. Definitely broken.

The book is written as a series of letters from our narrator Charlie to an unknown receiver, and trying to work out whom could drive you insane. It's a character we don't know, a character who could be us, unless of course you did sleep with that girl just because you could. That aside, it's left purposefully vague.

There's not too much plot, just things that happen, the story bumbling along, and then a moment at the end that reveals a little more about Charlie, and then that's it.

A lot of the characters were pretty nice in this, including Charlie. Not the usual cliche bunch. I liked that. It certainly makes a change from the usual manipulative or just plain evil characters I usually read about.

I don't think I understand this book as well as I could. There's a lot to pick apart, to wonder, to discuss, but the book itself doesn't drive me to do that. Maybe the issues were too vast to focus on - homophobia, drugs, molesting, rape, racism, etc. It makes it very difficult to pin down what this story is about. That might be the point, but as I said, the book itself doesn't drive me to wonder for too long.

So it's quite good. That's about it from me on this one.

Source: Bought it!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Book Review: Ruin and Rising

RUIN AND RISING by Leigh Bardugo
2 stars
Verdict: Didn't really enjoy it.

The author has all the signs of an awesome writer, but I just didn't think it was an awesome book.

There’s a fantastic twist which links all three books together, and while it was amazing it doesn’t change the fact that I only enjoyed reading bits of this series. It didn’t seem so bad at the time, but I couldn’t read more than a couple of pages at a time before deciding I needed yet another a break.

There wasn't enough to get excited about, and even though there are some great sequences, they were too short and far between. A good book makes those mundane linking scene, like travelling, seem interesting, but the amount of travelling in this book was a tall order, and it ended up feeling as if a lot of irrelevant buffer material was plumped into the book’s sparse feathers.

I realised at some point that I didn't really like or connect with any of the characters, either. Alina talks too much inside her own head. She reiterates what’s just happened in a beautiful, almost poetic language, but says little of substance, telling us bits of the story instead of showing it to us. Mal bugged me because he seemed to love the idea of Alina but not who she was, and while Nikolai was interesting, his part in the book felt like a second thought. I didn’t really care for the new book three characters either. Too many, too late - they were what I expected to be darkling fodder, and I'll say no more.

Part of the problem could be me. I thought the book was heading in a different direction, and for that reason I feel the ending isn’t true to the nature of the story. Or maybe book two was too far misaligned for the series. The morals did seems a bit… skewed, and the overall message is murky.

I'm up for reading SIX OF CROWS, but this isn't a series I'll revisit.

Source: Bought it!

Monday, 27 February 2017

Book review: King's Cage

KING'S CAGE by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #3)
4 Stars
Verdict: Good but long.
Or at least it felt very long to me.

I almost tapped out at book two. If I'm honest, my main complaint of book 2 – that it’s overwritten – still holds true for this book, except for everything else works so much better this time around. The plot could have turned any which direction, and that made me read on eagerly.

Mare has handed herself over to the king in order to spare her friends, giving Maven a powerful tool to twist against the Scarlet Guard. She isn’t whiny this time – she's utterly trapped, and does what little she can to help her cause. She stays strong in a way that shows how far she’s come, and I found myself liking her again.

The writing is what made it feel long to me, yet at times it's worth it. It might be superfluous, but it’s still beautiful and vivid, full of emotion. Every word evoked a new emotion in me, although it did tend to hit the same nerve until it was deadened… You can see I went back and forth with this one.

I thought it was interesting to show the side of Cameron, a newblood aligned with the Scarlet Guard. While Cam didn't feel like a very important character, she provided a window for the ones I did care about. We even get to see Evangeline’s point of view, and while I couldn’t help but noticed how similar it was to Mare’s, it still helped develop Evangline from cliche to intriguing. 

On a side note, I got a bit muddled with the names at times. Mare, Maven, Cam, Cal, Elane, Elara… It’s asking for trouble. I'm wondering if anyone else noticed this, or was it just me?

Anyway, I have faith again in this series! I enjoyed this instalment, and will probably read the next too.

Source: From publishers via 

Monday, 23 January 2017

Book Review: Siege and Storm

SIEGE AND STORM by Leigh Bardugo
3 Stars
Verdict: Starting to lose interest

As much as I wanted to love this series, this felt like a second book to me in every way. Battles are lost, relationships are sunk and mended, but none of the events were particularly surprising. I've read other reviews and I'm just not on the same page.

I'm at a slight loss already as I hear the main appeal of this book is the Darkling, and to me he's too vague and absent to grab my attention. Learning more about his past would have been intriguing, but in this book we mainly see how power affects Alina and Mal's relationship.

It opens fast as Alina and Mal face the Darkling once more, but after that the pace dwindles. The author has a beautiful way with words, but spends them on the wrong things. There's so much time inside Alina's head and teaching us about the world, and not enough actually happening in the now.

As the book goes on, Alina transforms into an unlikable character. She whines, makes terrible decisions, gets jealous, insecure, and power hungry. It's the classic decent of a sequel protagonist.

Mal's development isn't positive either. I got the feeling he hated himself most of the time, and by the end of the book I stopped liking him entirely.

On the other hand, Nikolai seemed like a very interesting character. He's charming, with secrets and wit, and he added more to the plot and kept me reading. I hope to see more of him in the future.

In general, I would have preferred less broken romance and more plot. I can't see book three knocking my socks off, but I'd still like to complete the series. I love the folk-tale quality to it and the concept of the amplifies, and I'd like to see how it all wraps up.

Source: Bought it myself!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Book Review: Ink and Bone

INK AND BONE by Rachel Caine
5 Stars
Verdict: For the love of books

I found this a slow burner, but once it got going I absolutely adored it. Set in the Great Library of Alexandria, this book offers a historic fantasy feel as well as speculative fiction vibe as it asks what would have happened if the Great Library grew in power and controlled the use of books. There's even a bit of steampunk and a grande adventure - this book has a lot to offer!

I didn't initially connect with the way Caine writes, and often found the prose to linger on heavy description without building any substantial picture in my mind. Somehow, this didn't matter in the end as the plot, the magic, and the characters were so creative and intriguing that I adapted to the prose.

Every character intrigued me, each of them complicated for very different reasons. The students each have their pasts, their desires, their secrets, and strengths, as well as different cultural backgrounds. The side characters were more than just tools to move the story along - they had substance too.

I try not to throw around associations lightly, but I did find a striking resemblance to Harry Potter, if book one had been written for older teens. It's also very different, but if you love one you might love the other.

So with a mix of history and fantasy, and overall a great adventure across Europe, this was a fantastic book I'm glad I read.

Source: Bought it myself!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

5 Stars
Slow to start, totally worth it

Kell is a blood magician who can travel between the four worlds, each with a different affinity for magic but sharing the anomaly of the name 'London'. When Kell finds a dangerous artefact, he must return it to the darkest form of London before it falls into the wrong hands.

I found the beginning slow with too much exposition, but intriguing nonetheless. At first I struggled to get to grips with the different worlds as they're each very different in description, history, characters - of course there needs to be a lot of world building in a book about multiple worlds, but it made Kell's narrative heavy to read. Yet, it had many redeeming quirks, like the elemental toy and the enchanted coat, which made me think the book could swing either way for me. I kept reading with an open mind.

When Kell bumps into Lila Bard, the book really gets going. Lila's a thief who yearns for adventure, and with very little to lose, she's very happy to get herself tangled up in danger as she seeks the thrills and riches of life. She bounces well off of Kell, adding in a feisty spirit and a bit of humour, taking what could have been a dry fantasy into an entertaining adventure.

Exposition aside, the book is full of adventure, mystery and magic - what's not to love? I would recommend it highly, but only read it when you're ready to properly get into a book. You have to give a little before you get anything back with this one.

Source: Bought it!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Book Review: Homecoming

HOMECOMING (The 100 #3) by Kass Morgan
3 Stars
Verdict: Not much to say.

The dropships have landed, and now the colonists are being led by the old Vice Chancellor, who I pictured as Governor Ratcliff from Pocahontas. He’s pretty thick, arrogant, with not enough to him to be redeeming. It’s a mystery to me why he’s in charge, but there you have it. Let’s start a war.

It’s quick and light read, with not much to say. The idea behind it is brilliant, but the book itself is meh. The target audience is on the younger side of young adult, and maybe the TV series set my expectations too high. The ending went to mush too, like the last book, and that sets me off on a down note.

The problem with so many characters in a short book is that none of them really get fleshed out. The author tended to tell exactly how the characters feel or who a character is, when really I wouldn’t have guessed. Whether they were happy or sad, it felt shallow.

I’m glad these books are out there, but I can’t say I enjoyed the book series too much.

Source: Bought it!