Smoke in the Sun by Renée Ahdieh – Book Review

Ahdieh, R - Smoke in the SunI received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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So, overall – it totally holds up.

I really enjoyed this as a sequel to Flame in the Mist, Ahdieh did a great job of picking up where she left off and I couldn’t put it down. The whole story was seamlessly delivered, with all the threads interweaving at just the right moments. If anything, I’d say it was almost too neat, there was suspense and highs and lows throughout but I wouldn’t say it was as … captivating as the first. Still brilliant, definitely still brilliant but I think I’m just a sucker for an origin story.

I loved Mariko’s personal journey the most I think, and Okami, Tsuneoki and Yumi had some really great beats as well – I only wish we’d gotten more. I think Yumi could have been used more, she’s an amazing character.

[Medium] Spoilers ahead.

Okay, so I’m going to admit I kind of shipped Raiden and Mariko. They could have worked so well. And honestly, I thought that’s where she might be going until I realise this was probably the last book in the series. What I was hoping for from Raiden’s introduction proper onwards was Okami to escape (maybe grow closer to Yumi, there’s something there) and Mariko to stay on as spy but then fall for Raiden, this may be an unpopular opinion but who cares – I’d ship it all the way.

Roku was a pretty awesomely written villain – I love when you see the development of a monster, it was also especially powerful through Raiden’s eyes. Kanako I didn’t get so much, I felt there was an easier way to achieve what she did without so much innocent blood shed but I guess that the plot invoked so many feelings from me is just a testament to how good it was.

I think the best part about the whole series – including the two ‘shorts’ (practically minis) Ahdieh published over the past week or two – is that all the characters have a flaw, a fundamental weakness that makes them imperfect and so, so relatable. I like there are no perfect specimens of protagonist – that the winners and the heroes do so through pretty questionable means because it feels more real that way. Perfect heroes and heroines are okay sure, but when they try to spin it that their flaw is they’re too loyal or care too much I just want to call bullshit and make them have a real flaw, something that brings some humanity, you know?

A great (what I think is the) end to a series I will happily include in my modern favourites – plus their covers are so pretty, I’m glad for the redesign!

Smoke in the Sun is due out on either the 5th or 7th June – my sources can’t agree! – so plenty of time for you to read Flame in the Mist if you haven’t already. This series is perfect for fans of Mulan (my favourite Disney animation!) as it is a sort of retelling but set in a Japan-inspired fictional world.

Until next time!

WWW Wednesday #9

This is a tag formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and now hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words. I made progress! Some progress! I’m finally back on track with my Goodreads Challenge and I got two ARC reviews out of the park, yay me! What are you currently reading? […]

WWW Wednesday #8

  This is a tag formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and now hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words. Late again with my post, there is just so much going on right now with my final portfolio deadline fast approaching, moving house, juggling work, reading, admin duties and blogging […]

WWW Wednesday #7

This is a tag formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and now hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words. Late again with my post, but I had a blog Tour one for this morning’s slot. As you know WWW Wednesday answers three questions: What are you currently reading? Now that I’ve […]

Blog Tour: Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope – Book Review

Penelope, L - Song of Blood & StoneI would first like to start with an incredibly grateful thank you to Brittani Hilles and St Martin’s Press for the opportunity to be part of the Song of Blood & Stone Blog Tour (my very first blog tour! I’m so excited!) and NetGalley for a sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Minor spoilers, you have been warned.

This book took me by surprise in a big way and a very good one at that. Jasminda makes a fierce heroine with an independent streak a mile wide that is hard not to admire. The ways she faces adversity, prejudice and danger throughout the book are amazing and so different from other female MCs in this genre. The world building is so immersive and elegantly done, and although the beginning parts in the town have something of a Western feel (not a bad thing), this is a fantasy novel through and through offering a unique history and a power-set I have not seen explored so well in this genre before.

The romance did have a touch of the insta-love, (well a lot of it), but I felt it was well earned throughout the book and loved that though there were parts when it slipped, the relationship’s dynamic did not falter as events unfurled. I was hooked from the word go and couldn’t put it down – even during the time at court which is almost always the most boring part of royalty-involved fantasy but was intriguing and cut right to the meat of the situation.

One of my favourite parts of the book’s layout was the little fable snippets at the start of each chapter, I found them so clever and gave me an interesting thought process when approaching the next chapter, one of my favourites was:

“Bobcat and Horse raced to the river to see who was fastest. Bobcat fell behind on a turn in the path, and Horse began to gloat. But when he approached the riverbank, he was shocked to find Bobcat leisurely bathing.

How did you beat me? Horse cried, angry.

Bobcat replied, When the path curved I stayed straight. A road is not enough to throw me off my path.”

Although, they are all brilliant and I would like mugs or coasters with them printed on with little characters – Etsy, take me money!

I loved Jack as a character even though I wish we had learned more of his history as opposed to the brief glimpses we get, but I should imagine that will come more into play in the sequel which I simply cannot wait for despite the fact I think this could easily stand alone as the ending was most satisfying. I always find that those kind of endings are worse than cliffhangers since you have no idea where they are going to go with it.

Trigger warning: there are attempted rapes of two characters in this novel, one male and one female, this being an area of upset for me personally I felt it important to include here and (slightly less minor spoilers) though both are unsuccessful (the method of which in both made me laugh with both nerves and relief at the absurdity of evasion).

There are also two consensual sex scenes that get somewhat graphic so I’d advise 16+ at the least.

It was released yesterday and you can buy it here. (P.S. I recently became an Amazon Affiliate so if you use this link to buy it a mini percentage will make it’s way back to me 🙂 )

I can’t wait to read more of L. Penelope! If you’d like some more views on this awesome book check out Marta @ The Cursed Books awesome post and Angela @ Pooled Ink Reviews equally awesome post (complete with excerpt and Q&A).

SONG OF BLOOD & STONE - OS_Whim 3_Root.png

Until next time!

State of the ARC #1

The State of the ARC meme was created by Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks. This is my first time participating in the State of the ARC meme and I decided to do it because I really need some motivation to beat back my pile of ARCs quicker. My list isn’t quite as big as others’ but my OCD just can’t […]

WWW Wednesday #6

This is a tag formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and now hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words. My post is a bit late today as I’ve just been swamped with stuff to do for everything so without further ado, on with the questions: What are you currently reading? […]

WWW Wednesday #5

This is a tag formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and now hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words and it answers three questions: What are you currently reading? But whaaat? You’re not still reading The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan? How can this be?! Well, friends, that’s why this WWW Wednesday is happening on […]

The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan – Book Review

Logan, K - The GloamingI received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

🌟🌟 .5

Yes! It finally happened – a month trudging through this book and I’m finally done!

Okay, so I’m 80% sure this is a beautiful and haunting story about grief and overcoming loss and life, finding love, etc, etc but I’m 100% sure I just didn’t get it.

Now, admittedly, I haven’t experienced a loss so very close to me and I did sympathise with the characters greatly for all their hardships and losses (it was about 7 chapters in I realised just how morbidly depressing and beautiful a book could be) and I do have those close to me who have experienced similar conception issues as Peter and Signe but I think what was missing was my ability to empathise as I just have never experienced these things myself. A lot of the feelings and the little moments that I could tell were supposed to be symbolic and powerful and show me something just went over my head. I just didn’t get it.

I didn’t get Pearl, I didn’t get the mermaid stuff, I didn’t get the island magic that was just there, unexplained and not really magic and I didn’t get the transition into first person or the flashbacks and anecdotes or just … any of it.

This is not to say this is a bad book, not at all – it was beautifully written and there were parts that really spoke to me like when Mara experienced a revelation as a reader toward the beginning, which I had experienced as a writer a few years ago.

“Over that winter she read a hundred deaths – and when the book ended, she could turn to the first page again, and the death was undone.”

For me it was the weird power of writing – you create a character, control their lives, create them in every dimension and way, make them real to the reader and then in just a few short words, take them away as if they were never there to start with. It was just a part that really spoke to me.

There were also quotes about the many things that could happen after we die but honestly I just found the bulk of this book … boring.

Nothing really happened in the beginning then after it did I thought it was getting to a turning point where stuff would start to happen and then it didn’t but it seemed like it could then I was too far in and realised I’d already dedicated too much time to give up and thought it might throw a huge plot twist right when I wasn’t expecting it and then I wondered what I was still doing reading a book that made me equal parts bored and morbid when it just went on and on about nothing like this sentence you’re still reading because you think it might have a point when it doesn’t.

Overarching theme: not a bad book, but not for everyone and not for me.

Rapid Fire Book Tag

I saw this tag over at Amy’s blog, The Little Booknerds in the Corner, the original creator is GirlReading over on YouTube. I always love posts (and games) like these because they always remind me of Friends – both the episode when Phoebe’s mad at Ross and they play her game to help make decisions and the […]

WWW Wednesday #4

This is a tag formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and now hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words. So I actually read a fair bit this week … it just so happened that they weren’t any of the books I’m supposed to be reading. What are you currently reading? I am STILL […]

Wicked at the Birmingham Hippodrome

So last weekend, my Nanna and made the train journey into the metropolis that is Birmingham city centre (which in comparison to our city, it is) to see Wicked at the Birmingham Hippodrome. We decided to make a day of it, this is us at San Carlo’s, a delicious Italian restaurant chain that has an undeniably family-run feel: […]

Renegades by Marissa Meyer – Book Review

Meyer, M - RenegadesThis book was the March choice for the Book Dragon Lair Book Club.

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Okay, I’ll admit I adored this book. It’s not perfect for sure, but nothing is – and there were parts even I had to cringe a smidge at the cheesy superhero/villain dialogue but I feel like if you’re going to go into the superhero genre, you’ve got to go all in.

My advice for picking up this book:

If you already enjoy comic books/superheroes and know you don’t mind the tropes/dialogue then you will enjoy this for the fun read it is. P.S. Nova is totally a Batman (but less gritty).

If you’re not overly familiar or a big reader of comics/heroes etc, but enjoy YA then you will enjoy it if you go into it prepared for the odd cheesy superhero lines. But honestly, you need to go into it with an open mind and just with the intention of having a bit of a fun ride, but don’t expect a dark gritty twisted tale because this isn’t it, the darkest parts are at the start and they still have a metaphorical nightlight if you catch my meaning.

I did pretty much predict most of the main plot points but I don’t mind it if they’re good ones. I’m a firm believer that clichés are clichés for a reason and they just work with this concept. More than anything I just want them to adapt it into a beautiful graphic novel. That’s all I want. More than I want a sequel.

Minor spoliers ahead.

The love arc, whilst also totally foreordained didn’t actually feel forced and I think will lead to interesting places in future installments. I’m kind of hoping ‘Archenemies’ (the recently announced title) means it’s leading to where I want it too.

Admittedly, I wasn’t all for the big reveal because I was really rooting for Nova to get Ace’s helmet for herself and being all …

But oh well, maybe later on in the series.

WWW Wednesday #1

This is a tag formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and now hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words. It answers three questions beginning with a letter I bet you won’t get with 25 guesses! I’m just joining this on a whim, but I’m hoping to stick with it since it’s a fun and relatively […]

Anna by Amanda Prowse – Book Review

Prowse, A - anna

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Just a gentle reminder that 2 stars on Goodreads mean ‘it was okay’.

Okay, I have mixed feelings about this book that left me feeling a bit …

I’ll start with the parts I liked. The cover is very pretty and I will go to my grave before admitting seeing a photo of how gorgeous the paperback edition is on Instagram was about 80% of the reason I requested it. I liked it was relatively easy to read and fairly well written, the characters were well-rounded and I could clearly see them and their mannerisms in my mind’s eye. I also loved the idea that there were two whole books told entirely from one half of the prospective couple’s perspective – something I feel should be done in more genres.

With a cover as pretty as that I had set myself up for a nice, easy, cheesy love story which was really what I needed at the time of this reading because I was ill and just wanted a fluffy, girly book. I didn’t get this and that’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but it did re-teach me the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover lesson’ once again – will I ever learn? Probably not.

Now I can and will never use subject matter as a reason to dislike a book of this genre because whilst I don’t enjoy reading about this kind of angst and all the horrible things that can happen to people in this world because I use reading as an escape from those things, I understand that some people do and that’s fine.

Things I can use as a reason include pacing and characters. This book covered a lot of time, and in order to do it had huge time leaps varying from months to years and it just made the whole book feel rushed and left me wanting more detail in places. I would have preferred for the book to start at say, when Anna starts working or leaves the home and then revisit the early parts in flashbacks or something similar. It just would have felt … neater, but that’s just me. I just felt like I was being ushered around a store, able to browse things but not really pick them up and examine them.

Anna was the main character I took issue with and that was a problem since it was all told from her POV. It wasn’t so much in the beginning when she didn’t speak as much but as time wore on she just got repetitive and annoying. When she was sad she whined and when she was happy she was really, really happy! So happy! So, so happy! That everything she said, ended in exclamation points! I’m being harsh and man, I felt bad for her at times I really did – I’d have actually stabbed Theo at points – but other times I wanted to slap her and tell her to get a grip.

Hers and Theo’s marital problems got real old, real fast and I found myself skimming most of their rows and not really missing anything new.

To sum up I get why this book literally has no bad reviews (as of the time of this writing) but it wasn’t for me. I’ll probably read Theo’s side just because there were a lot of blanks regarding him I’m assuming so the second book would sell but in all honesty, I just want a more satisfying ending than the one provided.

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo – Book Review

Christo, A - To Kill A Kingdom🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I had to take a few hours to collect myself after I finished this book, lest any thoughts I express be illegible. This is exactly the kind of book I needed right now, in the midst of an extended reading-slump (they tend to be an annual occurrence, around the transformation of Winter to Spring). Had I not been at work, I don’t think I’d have put it down once – sleep be damned – but alas, I love my job and would like to keep it.

Christo caught my attention immediately from the very first page, she definitely came in all guns blazing with action, world-building and intrigue. I liked the main characters, in particular, Lira, from the get-go and the descriptions of mermaids and sirens and all other aspects of their turmoiled kingdom were eerily beautiful and – for a mythology nerd like myself – thought-provoking.

There were aspects of the story I could predict purely due to the genre – the romance arc for example – but it in no way took away from my enjoyment of the book but as far as the development of the story was concerned there was a surprise around every corner and it was brilliantly well-paced and I truly loved the book.

The only faults I’d even be able to entertain would be the most inconsequential nitpicks like the romance arc but even then I thought it was well managed and transcended the cliche – and to be honest, I shipped them the whole time anyway. I was slightly dissatisfied with the ending but only because I wanted more detail and the book was so well paced the whole way through, that the ending felt a smidge rushed – but that may just be the book hangover talking. The characters stayed true to themselves in the ending though, which is great since it would have been so easy for them to fall into that huge, branch-covered-and-not-at-all-inconspicuous trap and conform to the romance arc cliche I previously mentioned, which would have made no sense. *sighs in relief*

I do wish there had been more crew members of the Saad mentioned than just the core group – as great as they are (and they really are), there were times I forgot there were 100 people on that ship but I understand that too many characters can cause a slew of writing issues so it’s more a preference than a criticism.

Despite these highly negligible issues, To Kill A Kingdom has joined my list of favourite novels and I’ve already ordered my physical copy. I can’t wait for more from this author – though not a sequel to this book, it would be The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea all over again. I have unanswered questions but not enough to warrant a whole book – it stands stronger as a standalone novel.

Overall, a stunning novel. Thank you for curing my slump, Ms. Christo.

The A-Z Bookish Survey

I saw this tag on Kelly’s Rambles, thought her post was awesome and saw she, very generously, had opened it up to allow others to tag themselves if they wanted and I thought it was just such a great idea that I thought I’d have a go. A – Author you’ve read the most books from According […]

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan – Book Review

Mangan, L - Bookworm🌟🌟🌟🌟

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This took slightly longer to finish than I thought it would but it was totally worth it. I’m not much of a non-fiction reader as I often find it does not interest me as much as fiction but the title – and gorgeous cover – drew me in immediately.

Though my childhood and upbringing was primarily during the noughties, and Lucy’s (I feel as though referring to her by her surname is too formal – I feel like I almost know her after this book, and I related to her in so many ways; being raised in the Northern fashion, being told off her hiding behind a book and causing no trouble at, etc) was in the seventies, this book still recalled on many of my childhood favourites – The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Spot the Dog, Elmer, Miffy, Meg and Mog – even if I can’t pinpoint where I remember them from as clearly as she can.

The whole book was not only a nostalgic, scenic train journey (not a roller coaster – far too disruptive) but a trove of interesting publication facts and witty commentary that had me laughing out loud on my commute – some favourites were:

“The Brontes owned a copy of A History of British Birds and by all accounts cherished it. Then again, so would you if it was the only thing available to take your mind off the TB-ridden siblings dropping all around you like flies.” 

“Even now, after 40 years in the same place, you would not be able to guess a single thing about the people who live there. Apart, possibly, from the fact that one at least must be a monomaniac who has forgotten more about decluttering than Marie Kondo will ever know.” 

“In love with a hundred-year-old vampire Bella may be, but Buffy, she ain’t.” 

It also helped me remember books I had forgotten I had ever read, Flat Stanley for example. I had completely forgotten about Flat Stanley Lambchop until I read this book! Stanley meet my Read shelf.

I think what resonated with me the most about this book, however, was just how much I related to some of the stories Lucy told. Like pretending to try and fit in with the other kids at school.

At one point she says ‘At five I was largely studying the difference between upper- and lower-case letters, but in my spare moments, I was already having to contemplate tearing down my entire personality and starting from scratch.’.

At 19 years old, this is a thought I can’t remember not having and do still and this is the first time I’ve read the feeling so aptly put into words. Whilst I don’t relish the fact that others share this insecurity, it’s almost comforting enough to begin to potentially overcome it. You know, maybe.

The feelings Lucy relates about her wishes for Alexander – her son’s – reading experiences also made me smile as they paralleled my own for my two-year-old baby brother, whom I recently bought The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Spot the Dog and The Tiger Who Came to Tea in addition to We’re Going On A Bear Hunt and The Gruffalo.

Admittedly there were parts I skipped over either because they gave away plot points in a book I intend to read or it was a large amount publication history or facts that didn’t interest me as much as I had not read/heard of the book itself but I still found it hugely enjoyable. I was slightly surprised that in all the little tidbits of obscure information regarding various authors personal lives that in the section on Alice in Wonderland none of Carroll’s more … unsavoury tastes were mentioned. This could, of course, be because they are essentially impossible to be reliably proven as fact and may well just be a poisonous rumour invented by English Literature teachers to ruin childhoods forever but it was surprising nonetheless.

I could probably write a review consisting of 90% awesome and witty quotes from this book but I’d much rather you just read it for yourself and take a quick stroll down your bookish memory lane and, like me, lament that your memories are not as distinct and detailed as Lucy’s or that you were not blessed with a bookish parent to help guide you.

Alas. But thank you, Lucy Mangan for sharing these stories, I enjoyed them immensely.

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin – Book Review

Carlin, L - The Wicked ComethSo I finally gave in.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

🌟🌟 – DNFed at the halfway mark. If I’m at the 50% mark in any book and still don’t care how the book ends, I can’t justify any time spent on it from there. I also feel the need to point out that 2 stars on Goodreads means ‘it was ok’ so you know, I didn’t dislike it.

I’m willing to come back to this book at another time because I honestly think it’s a good idea, it presents interesting and quite striking depictions of poverty, social mobility (which is a really important issue to me), and sexuality and I appreciated that when Hester got knocked over by the carriage and the handsome doctor helped her out they didn’t instantly fall in love because I definitely would have finished it there and then.

I think my main issue with getting into the story is that it’s in the first person which I generally dislike as a mode of storytelling – the writing itself is very good but just not for me.

I’ll admit I didn’t get the romance arc, I didn’t see any specific catalyst to it but the way it was written, explored and understood was quite interesting. I did skip to the last chapter because of a mild curiosity to how it worked out for them – though had it not been explained in that chapter I probably wouldn’t have looked further.

Overall, I totally get why it has such amazing reviews but it’s just not my cup of tea.

The Sherlock Effect by Raymond Kay Lyon – Book Review

Lyon, R. K - The Sherlock EffectI received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

🌟🌟 – but only because I DNFed at the third story – around 50% – and therefore don’t feel entitled to give 1 star.

I really wanted to stick with this until the end, it was 215 pages – I feel like a failure for not being able to. I wish I could say I will try to go back to it but I probably won’t. This book just wasn’t for me and I might be alone in this since generally the reviews seem good but no, just no.

My first impression was that Christopher Sherlock Webster is a spoiled, ungrateful brat that couldn’t just indulge his father for the sake of human decency. Your dad loved Sherlock, just read one of his stories with him won’t you? They aren’t long, and as you found out (a bit too late) they’re actually pretty good. My dad loves zombies, I personally think the concept is utterly stupid but I watched Shaun of the Dead and a few episodes of The Walking Dead and when his birthday came round I still bought him tickets for a zombie apocalypse experience. I’m sure Mr. Webster didn’t want to watch Barney or Teletubbies or whatever little Sherl watched in his childhood but he did. It’s just what you do for family.

Then, as the first story kicked in, I realised not only was he spoiled and ungrateful, he was also a pretentious prat that had achieved nothing of significance prior to having his rich friend drop a business into his lap that he does such a mediocre job of contributing to I think I’d have been able to do a comparable job. I knew exactly what the ending of the ‘The Fur Trade’ was going to be approximately 2 minutes into it and just to see if I was being overly analytical gave my partner the basics of the case since he’s a big Sherlock fan (listened to all the audiobooks as read by Stephen Fry) and see what he thought, this was our conversation:

‘I’m reading this modern-take Sherlock book, they’ve got this case: rich and famous singer’s boyfriend has been kidnapped for a second time by an animal rights group and they’ve asked for more money in exchange for his release again. What do you think is going on?’

*Not even really listening to me* ‘What? So her boyfriend faked his own kidnapping?’

Bingo! Got it in one, now my boyfriend is a clever sort so maybe it’s just us but I’m inclined to think this conclusion isn’t such a stretch for anyone. The second and third stories seemed weirder and more in the realm of Holmes but I still guessed the culprit in two and couldn’t get far enough into the third story to care to make a guess.

This book isn’t technically a modern adaption since the Sherlock Holmes books and canon exist as fiction in this world as they do in ours, so the Baskerville Agency is technically an overly zealous fan club with a gimmick to make money rather than an actual detective consultancy. Sherlock Holmes is not a PI he’s a consulting detective – which is explicitly stated in the original texts several times.

I’m by no means a veteran Holmes reader – full disclosure I’ve only read the first two books (I’m getting round to the rest) and watched the BBC adaption but what I specifically remember about those books was that the writing surprised me.

I had expected something more in the realm of Dickens or Dumas where you expect the writing to be overly flowery as standard, accept it as part of the story itself even, but actually found that Doyle had a very simple writing style, simple but effective. He didn’t need all the hyperbolic phrasing or unnecessarily long or archaic words to create the feel the books have. Now, to be fair this could be because Doyle writes his stories from the stoic and comparatively simple perspective of Dr. Watson as oppose to Holmes himself. Lyon writes this story from the Holmes archetype character so, you know, theoretically it could be argued that it is not the writing that’s pretentious is the character and had Doyle written his stories from the original Holmes’ point of view his writing would have resembled this. You could argue that, I wouldn’t but you could.

The benefit from telling the story from Watson’s perspective is that everything Holmes does is only shown from a third party and it’s easier to maintain the mystery and trickle feed the clues until the big reveal. The clues are still attempted to be revealed in this way in The Sherlock Effect but since you are reading from the perspective of the ‘Sherlock’ character you can’t really hear their thought process because it would give it away so what you end up with is quite a lot of dialogue.

The book was well-written despite this but these issues just meant I didn’t enjoy reading it. I’ll stick to the originals I think.

WaR: Wizards and Robots by Will.i.am and Brian David Johnson – Book Review

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I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Okay, so this book really surprised me. When I first saw the title in NetGalley my first reaction was:

‘Wizards and Robots? That sounds stupid.’ Stupid enough for me to want more information and request it just for the hell of it – figuring if they accepted it’d be an interesting experience and if they didn’t, no real loss.

I probably should have read the description since it explicitly states one of the co-authors is will.i.am – a fact that threw me a little since I knew he had recently branched into graphic novels as he appeared on Good Morning Britain with his book ‘Black Eyed Peas Presents: Masters Of The Sun – The Zombie Chronicles’ but didn’t know he’d gone into YA prose too. I’m kind of ashamed that I went into the book with low expectations because of this – I don’t really even know why I just did – because this is hands down one of the best written YA (though I feel like this could be shelved at a middle school level too) books I’ve read in a long time.

The writing itself was great, and not in an overly descriptive flowery way but just in the simplicity of the writing and the variety of vocabulary at this level of reading is just great and would appeal to young adults. The characters were all great and relatable in a big way and they all had their own arcs and development. I was also really impressed by the world-building mainly because I didn’t even know it was happening until I was in the world.

The story jumps around to 3 time periods in the first half of the chapters and usually this kind of storytelling confuses the heck out of me and I can only piece it together fully at the end (I’m looking at you The Night Circus ) but since the characters and settings in each one were so distinctly different from one another I didn’t have this issue.

Overall it was a really fun read, I liked all the characters and their personal development and the story was interesting and made me care about the outcome. The concept could have produced something silly and pointless but it worked in a weirdly wonderful way and most importantly this is the kind of book I can imagine encouraging primary/middle school kids to read more which is always a great thing in my opinion.

Manga Classics: The Count of Monte Cristo By Crystal S. Chan – Book Review

51fmzzsq8ql1334064964..jpgI received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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If you have read the Count of Monte Cristo, you obviously don’t need me to give an overview of the plot, if you haven’t then what the hell are you doing reading reviews on this book? Go and read the original. Now. It’s amazing and you will not appreciate this book or the story unless you have read it. And not the abridged version, the whole 1300 page monster.

The Count of Monte Cristo is easily my favourite classic novel – perhaps even favourite book in general – of all time. I read it for the first time at the end of last year and fell in love with it. I was just sad I was unlikely to have the time to read it again anytime soon because, as I’ve said it’s a monster of a book and really I think everything in it is important to the story – at least in prose form.

I have read a few other Manga Classics as a way to almost experience the classics in a consolidated way, and also out of curiosity as to how they will be depicted. Generally, I have liked them all and this was no exception as it allowed me to experience the story in only 400 beautifully illustrated pages. The way the characters were depicted was brilliant and I love how this team adapts classic stories to the manga style. That being said, being only 400 pages it does gloss over large portions of the book – Edmond’s time in prison for example and the majority of Heloise de Villefort’s whole scheming, treacherous arc. I understand why this is done but if you have not read the original, and don’t know how to fill in the blanks, it loses something.

Either way, it’s impressive how concisely they cut it down, and I also think it’s clever how they changed the perspective slightly so that some of the ‘insider info’ or dramatic irony that the reader experiences in the novel is removed and then revealed with more suspenseful way, like an unravelling mystery, in this adaption.

I will most definitely be adding this to my hard copy collection, along with Pride and Prejudice.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton – Book Review

23197837I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

🌟🌟🌟 .75

At the start of the book as the concept was revealed the idea really struck something with me but I knew because it was such an important issue that if it wasn’t dealt with well in the book it could easily send a harmful message. Going in I was really hoping that the Belles – who bring beauty to the kingdom of Orléans with their magical arcana – would somehow convey a message about true beauty being within or something whilst also beating their villains and saving the day and so on. I really hoped this because the world, whilst a beautiful idea just seemed as though that was the message it was needing.

Maybe they’ll tackle that in the next one, who knows, but for the moment the books resounding message is: ‘Society is way too concerned with physical beauty and will go to deadly lengths for it.’

And?

I had really high hopes for this book since I first heard about it in a tweet by Rick Riordan (https://twitter.com/camphalfblood/sta…) and heard many good things. I don’t disagree with Rick, it is certainly a brand new idea and world that will definitely take off in the YA genre, but the whole book just felt like an orange: the last 100/150 pages were really great, but I wasn’t sure the hassle of getting into it had been gratified.

I did generally enjoy it, the world was a brilliant idea I personally have never come across. The heroine was relatable I’d say, as were her relationships with her sisters and the rivalry caused between them by the choice of the favourite. I especially loved the fall out afterward because it rang so true because that is just how 16-year-old girls react in competition and if it had gone any differently I’d have probably put the book down there and then.

[Minor spoilers ahead: but doesn’t really give away plot points, just hints at a few]

My only issues were that I saw the betrayal coming a mile away and it annoyed me the otherwise intelligent heroine didn’t: I can’t decide whether this showed poor character development or was just representing the love-triggered blindness. I got a strong Chaol/Dorian/Aelin vibe from the start and I was pretty much right I think though it is going to happen in the next one I’d assume.
I also struggled with the description at the start, the incessant food similes made me hungry and I was kind of sick of the word ‘Belle’ by the 200-page mark.

I will likely read the next installment as I loved Edel so much and want to see how it pans out because the cliff-hanger was pretty great, if cruel.