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

9780141365961

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

🌟🌟🌟🌟

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.

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.