Category: book review (page 1 of 33)

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

What a fabulous book this is, I enjoyed every page and I’m so hoping that it will be the first in a duology or even trilogy? Fingers crossed!

City of Ghosts

Synopsis

Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn’t like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead . . . and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost. So things are already pretty strange. But they’re about to get much stranger. When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift,” she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil — and herself. And she’ll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined. NYT bestselling author Victoria Schwab delivers a thrillingly spooky and action-packed tale of hauntings, history, mystery, and the bond between friends (even if that friend is a ghost . . .).

The character of Cass is a lovely creation. She is funny, brave, tough but vulnerable and needy at the same time.

I love that Victoria Schwab set the story in Edinburgh, its a place i’ve long wanted to visit and i loved the whole ‘fish out of water’, culture shock of the family as they learn about our British way of life.  The story is so funny in many places but never turns into a farce and then suddenly she writes some really moving dialogue and I was nearly in tears.

I cant recommend this book highly enough.

Is there a book similar to this or another book by V.E. Schwab maybe that I should try next?

Strike Your Heart by Amelie Nothomb

I was kindly sent an Autumn/Winter catalogue by Europa Editions to look through and I chose this book, mainly for its fascinating synopsis but also its very striking cover.

So a huge thank you to Europa for sending me a copy of this and for enabling me to discover a new favourite author.

love those French flaps

This book is about love; too much love, not enough love, misguided love and about the relationship between mothers and daughters, between female friends and families in general.

This is Diana’s story. The story of a young, brilliant woman who grows up without maternal affection. It is the story of Diana’s relationships with other women: her best friend, the sweet Elisabeth; her mentor, the selfish Olivia; her sister, the beloved Célia; and, of course, her mother. It is a story about the baser sentiments that often animate human relations: rivalry, jealousy, distrust.

I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a writer adapt her writing style to match a character before. When she is writing the early story of Diane as a baby/young child her writing is beautifully simplistic and feels like it could be written by a child but as the character gets older so does the prose. Its astonishing! It moved me to tears in places and wreaks havoc with your emotions but its ultimately an uplifting read and well worth it.

There are some fairly unpleasant characters here who never get our sympathy and some you just want to scream at. Diane herself is someone who seems at times to be too good to be true and something of a superwoman in her daily life but I can see why she is like that and Nothomb treats us to some gorgeously unredemptive characters.

I read this over the course of one day and hated having to put it down for anything. Its not a long book at just over 130 pages but she packs so much into it.  She doesn’t waste a single word that’s not needed and whilst the story towards the end got a lot more complicated at times it didn’t put me off and I couldn’t go to bed until I’d finished it.

I’m glad to see Amelie Nothomb has a large back catalogue of books I can look forward to diving into sometime in the future.

Graphic novel mini reviews

I’ve been on a bit of a graphic novel kick lately so here are two novels I can definitely recommend you pick up if you are giving this genre a try too.

Volume 1 of Alex + Ada

A soon as I saw this on book tube I knew I had to have it. The artwork is so beautiful. Its crisp, clear, minimal and very evocative. The colours are soft and muted but stand out well and the story is quite sweet in places. I think there are another 2 volumes out by now, i’m not sure if i’ll continue reading the series mainly because they are so expensive but maybe as a treat or a gift one time.

Everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too

This is such a sweet, sweet little book. Its a quick read and can be read in one sitting but if you take your time to really take in the story on each page you’ll get more out of it for sure.

I can understand why graphic novels are as pricey as they are, I mean just look at the hard work that goes into the artwork alone!  But still they are more of a treat to myself or a Christmas/Birthday gift.

 

An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim

I was kindly sent this by Quercus books after I requested a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The premise sounds so original and fantastic and i couldnt wait to get round to reading it.

Oh how disappointed I was though.

She has come up with such a cool and novel storyline. I just adore anything with time travel in and initially it did feel a bit like the Time Travellers Wife but she makes it very hard going trying to understand her concept. Its really not explained very clearly at all. Its very airy fairy in its writing style and she committed something which is one of my biggest bugbears with authors; she used a word which frankly i’d never heard in my life and actually had to split apart to read it!

Ive always said that if an author uses a long, obscure word that makes me break off from the narrative to look it up in a dictionary then they have already lost me!  I mean who has heard of synecdochical?

Hopefully it may disappear before the final published version.

It all felt a bit dreary to be honest and I couldnt feel anything for the main character, she just wasnt 3D enough for me.

I couldnt finish it sadly. I have loads of books to read for pleasure and review and cant waste my time on something that doesnt gel with me.

 

Light filters in – Poems by Caroline Kaufman

I was kindly contacted by Harper Collins and given a list of books to choose from to review. I chose this and they kindly sent me a ‘sneak peek’ of what it will look like when published. They also sent a lovely little bookmark and who doesn’t need more bookmarks (not me)

So a huge thank you to the lovely folk at Harper Collins.

I hadn’t heard of Caroline Kaufman before receiving this but she began by posting her poetry on Instagram and you can find her there as @poeticpoison

So what did I think?

Hey you have a book to review! Whats it called?

Light filters in

Who wrote it?

Caroline Kaufman

Whats it about?

It’s a book of modern poetry written by a teenager to help her cope with and try to understand the depression she suffers from

Now for the important bits, did you like it? (be honest now)

Its absolutely amazing and I loved it.
I’m often daunted by poetry especially modern poetry. I used to think that if it didn’t rhyme it wasn’t a poem (so not true) and I was always afraid that I wouldn’t ‘get it’ but there is no worries with Caroline’s beautiful words. For someone so young she has written some very mature poetry. There are a mix of poem styles, some rhyming, some not and some others that more closely resemble a short story.
Her struggles with anxiety and depression at such a young age are documented here but it doesn’t get maudlin or self pitying at all it’s simply honest.
Its just a small taster booklet with 24 or so poems but I believe the finished book will have 100 and I can’t wait to read more of them.

Gimme the Pros?

Each poem is a wonderful little work of art. Sad, funny, ironic, raw but always entertaining. And so clever with it. One of her poems can actually be read backwards as well as forwards and you get a different meaning each time. Now that’s smart!
Its illustrated by Yelena Bryksenkova with some cute little black and white line drawings which compliment the text really well.
Its definitely a book I want to quote and re-read many times over. Sadly as its a proof copy I can’t reproduce anything here but its out in hardback on 28th June.

Hit me with the Cons?

No cons here!

All the feels or none of the feels?

Oh all of them and more besides!  There is so much feeling in every poem whether it’s a few lines or a page.

Okay, so enjoyment factor out of 10?

10 of course!

Would you recommend I read this book?

If you love modern poetry and powerful words and honest feelings and want to be snuggled up in the beauty of them then yes, you need this book.

 

Poems for a world gone to sh*t – Review

This was lovely surprise bookmail from Quercus a few days ago.  They are a fabulous publisher who have been very kind to me over the years, so a big thank you to them.

Poetry is something I really enjoy and a little book like this to dip in and out of is always welcome.

Hey you have a book to review! Whats it called?

Poems for a world gone to sh*t

Who wrote it?

No one author, Its a compilation of poems, old and new

Whats it about?

Poems to make life better in this messed up world we live in right now

Now for the important bits, did you like it? (be honest now)

Its fantastic! I do love discovering new poets works as well as having a special old favourite poem just at my fingertips when i need a lift.

Gimme the Pros?

Its set out into separate chapters e.g

1. What the f**k?

2. get me the f**k out of here…  down to

5. life is still f**king beautiful

Its a gorgeously made little naked hardback and the poetry has been thoughtfully chosen to both amuse and enlighten us.

Hit me with the Cons?

No cons here.

All the feels or none of the feels?

All of the feels definitely, here are two of my favourites

Okay, so enjoyment factor out of 10?

20! its a beautiful little book

Would you recommend I read this book?

Yes in a heartbeat!  Its perfect for long standing poetry fans and for introducing poetry to those who may have thought it wasn’t for them.

 

 

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

This was kindly sent me for review by Two Roads books, so a huge thank you to them.

Hey you have a book to review! Whats it called?

The Cactus

 

Who wrote it?

Sarah Haywood

 

Whats it about?

 A woman called Susan Green. At 45 she thinks her life is perfect. She has a good job,  a nice flat and personal arrangements with benefits that leave no room for messy emotional ties.

But following the death of her mother and the discovery that she is going to be a mother herself soon, things start to become a little messy.

 Now for the important bits, did you like it? (be honest now)

I did, but it never really blew me away. Its quite funny in lots of places but I found it flat and never felt the need to carry on reading everytime I had to put it down.

Gimme the Pros?

a sweet, easy read with a character that you take to right away.

 Hit me with the Cons?

I hate to say it but it’s a pale imitation of ‘Elinor Oliphant is completely fine’  They both have a female protagonist who is not your usual everyday character, who becomes a fish out of water and who is amusing in her naivety but there the similarity ends for me. There is no depth to the character and the plot ending can be seen from miles away.

And what the heck is going on with the use of the American spelling of Mom, when the book is about a British character, set in UK?

Cool Characters?

No one special

Prey tell, what of the Plot development?

Simple story and ending which as I said above can be guessed at early on

All the feels or none of the feels?

None sadly

Any other comments or are you done?

nope

Okay, so enjoyment factor out of 10?

3

Would you recommend I read this book?

I wouldn’t say rush out and buy it but i’m sure it will appeal to a wide range of readers who like their books gentle and non taxing

 

 

 

Slow bullets by Alastair Reynolds

I began 2018 with the intention to read more Science Fiction

This arrived yesterday from Gollancz/Orion. I began reading it almost as soon as it was out the package

Today I finished reading it.

Boom! mind blown!

A fairly short (at 182 pages) novella written by Alastair Reynolds.  I have to admit I hadn’t heard of him before or his writing so I can tick off quite a few things all in one go there.

Synopsis is quite long so read this to get an idea

Its a lot darker and a lot deeper than i imagined it would be and i’m not sure i’ll ever be able to understand it fully but I do love Alastair’s writing. His dialogue is wonderful, the plot begins fast paced and confusing to us readers but slows down and introduces us to the main protagonists, some of which Scur, Prad and Yesli are fascinating.

Its a tense, exciting thriller with a shadowy presence of doom always hanging in the air.  The characters are at first understandably suspicious of each other but throughout the story there is a sense of coming together which is beautifully written and the pace does not slip for a moment which i why i read this in a day.

Its not overloaded with ‘spacey’ terms and phrases so is good for a beginner like me. Its also the only book I can recall which has absolutely no romance or close friendships between the characters, its quite a revelation but a good one.

Bottom line is I really enjoyed it and it was a great place to begin my Sci Fi reading quest, so thank you to Gollancz books for sending me a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

 

All my friends are superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

I began 2018 by reading this fabulous little book (and it is little at just 110 pages!).

I had actually begun it last year but never finished it for some reason so I picked it on New Years Day and tore through the rest of it.

I adored this book, its a gentle, clever, clean read full of metaphors. This is the 10th anniversary edition which contains extra Superheroes which don’t all appear in the story. I found them all to be a little bit samey after a while. You can have too much of a good thing sometimes! But it didn’t detract from the book itself.

It contains lots of lovely illustrations throughout the book too by Tom Percival which really adds to the storyline.

It gave me all the feels this book and was a quick and easy read for when you dont have too much free time.

It gets a 5/5 from me.

Anything You Do Say eBook blog tour – Day 5

Welcome to Day 5 of Gillian McAllisters ebook blog tour of her latest book – Anything You Do Say.  I was kindly sent a copy by Penguin Books in exchange for an honest review.

Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly. But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it’s him; the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor. Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most – make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

This book is so clever, I dont think ive come across a premise quite like it before. We get to see the story from two different angles, From the perspective of Joanna if she decides to stay, call an ambulance and confess her mistake or if she runs, lies and keeps what she did a secret. It certainly is a page turner and made me more stressed with every chapter, but happily so because it meant the author was doing a good job.  However I did have some reservations with the book, here are my Pro’s and Con’s

 

Pros

Very interesting sounding premise, a sliding doors style, what if, two scenario story.

Never read anything like it before.

The book builds up pace like a runaway train.

The tension is ramped up, like waiting for the explosion at the end of a firework.

Very well rounded characters, builds up the relationships beautifully.

Really enjoyed her writing style and how she created her characters, it kept me gripped for ages.

Cons

Tension built up over 4/5th of the book just fizzles out in last few chapters

Disappointing ending which I actually saw coming a little earlier but hoped i was wrong about.

Unnecessary dialogue and rather too wordy in places which kept stopping the build up of tension and gradually annoyed me as it went on.

Teaser about halfway through the book came to nothing but that could just have been me wanting things to go a different way.

 

Rating: 3.5/5 (was a 5/5 until last few chapters)

I would still very much recommend this book to anyone who loves thrillers and crime novels.

The ebook is out on 19th October and the paperback in January 2018. Its well worth your time.

Gillian McAllister’s blog can be found here

She is also on Twitter

and Instagram

Dont forget to check out Day 6 tomorrow which is hosted by Chelles Book Reviews

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