Friday, 16 December 2016

Book Review - Dark Matter - Michelle Paver

'How odd, that light should prevent one from seeing.'

Dark matter follows Jack, a class conscious, poor, 28 year old man joining an Artic expedition in the late 1930s. Due to continuous unfortunate circumstances, Jack is left alone at the camp for weeks at end, with only the huskys for company, during this time he suffers and intense haunting of unknown origin.

As you know I am always on the search for a good horror novel. I don't know why but I never seem to really find horror/ghost stories in book shops, most likely because I don't know who or what to look for, so when I stumbled upon Dark Matter I jumped at the chance for a good scare.

The book is written in journal format from Jack's point of view, and this is conveyed very well. He comes across as an unreliable narrator, holding things back from his journals till later on in the story due to his own embarrasment - and I think that is realistic, when I was younger and kept a diary it was the most boring read as anything interesting would be left out due to fear someone would find what I had written and humiliate me...

I think everyone's favourite character in the book will be Isaak the husky. Jack for some insane reason doesn't like dogs when he first starts the expedition, he doesn't like them and feels embarrassed for those who fawn over them. However, over time and increasing isolation Jack forms a bond with the dogs, he sees what intelligent creatures they really are, and learns that he needs this bond, especially with Isaak as times get increasingly dark.

The story behind the haunting itself was interesting, but vague. I understand that Jack himself was stuck in the Arctic so didn't have all the resources to find out what happened to cause the events he suffers, and the story mostly come to him in dream/imaginary form, which was fine, but lacked the details I would have really liked.

I wouldn't say the story itself really scared me. I read the book late one night and didn't feel I needed to stop at any point due to fear, infact I wanted to keep going, to see how far this haunting would go, how dark it would get. However, I would say that after I had finished the book, that is when I started to get creeped out. Laying in the dark, unable to really see anything but black, much like Jack in his cabin, my imagination did start to get the better of me; its winter here too, so the coldness of my toes mixed with the darkness did create an atmosphere that was eerily similar (though a thousand times less arduous) than that of Jack's.

Overall I think I would give this a 3/5. I enjoyed the book, and I thought it was well written - I will be looking for more Michelle Paver works in the future, but I would have enjoyed it if there were more subtle thrills throughout the story, if there was an eerie prescence even when it was supposedly calm. I suppose becuase I really want a good scare book I am being particularly picky - this book was good, and I can see it scaring a lot of people, but I still wanted more.

Have you read Dark Matter? If so, let me know what you thought in the comments below!


Friday, 9 December 2016

Book Review - Pretty Monsters - Kelly Link

'Except you can't judge a book by its cover. Whether or not this story has a happy ending depends, of course, on who is reading it.'

Pretty Monsters is a collection of short stories by Kelly Link. It was the first of her books that I have read, and I have since bought and read through Get in Trouble. I've never really read through short stories before; I assumed they would have little substance compared to a 'proper novel' because of their size, but actually I love these, and the length of them made them perfect to read on a commute to or from work.

I'm not going to review each story individualy, but instead the collection.

Kelly Link's stories are all a bit weird, and in this collection also a little creepy - right up my street. As suggested by the title, each story has some sort of monster interwoven in it, all stories seem to be based in a world where monsters are common place. There are wizards, grave robbers and woodland monsters.

I think my favourite story in the collection was The Constable of Abal, which is about Ozma and her mother who can see the ghosts of dead people. I'm not sure why it was my favourite, as it is with most things that you enjoy, you just do.

Kelly Link is great for building characters, and there are a lot of them in this collection, each with their own motivations and emotions and I think that is one of her strongest parts of writing. Each story feels thoroughly different from the one before, even if there are all creepy and strange, they're all a different kind of creepy and strange.

I would think that this is aimed more towards the YA group that a mature group, not that if you're older than YA you wouln't enjoy them, however a lot of the charcters in the books are YA themselves and we see the world from their view, and are really relatable in that way.

I didn't love every story in the book, I think I even nearly gave up when trying to read the second story - though I started it again mid way through and enjoyed it a lot more that time, perhaps I was in a particularly bad mood the first time... but there are a few that really stick out in my memory as enojying and thats why I think the collection as a whole is worth a read.

I think if you enojy books that are slightly quirky, that have a dark undertone and where the endings are not set out for you, they're usually open to some interpretation, then you would enjoy this book. It doesn't have full on scares, thats not what its about, but it makes you think, it makes you imagine this creepy world (or worlds) that she has created. I really enjoyed it and will be looking for more of her work in the future - 4/5


Thursday, 1 December 2016

Book Review - Daughters of The Dragon - William Andrews

'You must have the courage of the seed, Anna. Without it, you will stay buried.'

Daughters of the Dragon is a historical fiction based on the comfort women of Korea during the Second World War. If I am completely honest with you, which I like to be, I had never heard of comfort women before. These were women taken by the Japanese army against their will and raped and tortured for the relief of their soldiers. What is possibly worse than these crimes themselves is the fact that Japan still won't apologise, or even recognise what they did to these women.

So obviously it isn't a pleasant subject matter, and if rape and torture are triggers for you, then steer clear, however, if not, I really do recommend it. William Andrews spoke to some of the few surviving comfort women to get their true accounts, so, though embellished, a lot of the story is true.

Daughters of the Dragon starts with Anna, an American girl who visits Korea to find out about her birth mother, following the death of her own. This takes her to Seoul, to the orphanage she was born in. From here she learns that her mother died in childbirth, and despondent  from this news, her and her father leave to travel back to their hotel. On their way back however, Anna is stopped by an old Korean lady who hands her a wrapped gift, 'visit me on the address within' she tells her in perfect English. Confused, Anna opens the gift on the bus, inside she discovers an ornate comb with a two headed, five toed Dragon. Intrigued to know why this woman gave her the comb, she visits her and discovers her amazing story.

I felt like Anna was an unnecessary part of the story. I know he did this as a small dedication to his daughter who herself is from Korea, but I don't think it actually added to the story, and I feel like a grandmother wouldn't go into such details as Ja-Hee did on a first encounter with a granddaughter. If it was perhaps written in the style of a memoir, or perhaps Ja-Hee was recounting her tale to a journalist of someone of the like, it would have made more sense. Ja-Hee is the protagonist of this story, Anna is an added extra. Going along with this, I feel like we meet Anna at the start, and want to go with her on her quest to find out about her mother, and though she finds out an amazing story about her grandmother, towards the end time seems to rush, jumping ten years at a time, and in this time we find out very little about Anna's mother, and then she is dead, that is it. There is no room for emotion for her, and again this makes Anna's part in the story somewhat obsolete. 

However, these are probably the only negatives about this book. Ja-hee's story is completely intriguing. I read this in around two days, most of that time staying up late at night to finish it. I wanted to know what happened to Ja-Hee during her time as a comfort woman, I was rooting for her to survive. Its compelling and I would be surprised at anyone who doesn't get deeply involved in it. 

Overall I would give this book a 4 out of 5, I really do recommend. If you've read it, let me know what you thought in the comments below!

Friday, 21 October 2016

Cape Verde - Melia Dunas - 2016

So, it has taken me forever to get this video done, but now that I have its time to share it!

As you know, in September Ben and I went on holiday to Cape Verde. All we wanted was all inclusive food, drinks, a pool and just to chill with each other. Melia Dunas gave us all of that. The 11 nights passed, and we weren't sure what we had actually done with all our time, I could have easily stayed for another two weeks.

We had booked two excursions in advanced, just to force us to do something other than eat our body weight in food and get drunk everyday. What we picked were a 2 hour quad biking tour of the island, and then the Thomson coach tour of the island, including shark bay, cove jumping and more. 

I was really excited for the coach tour of the island, but there was a storm the first day we were supposed to go, and then when we re-booked I got a rash on my legs from the sea, so bad that I didn't move from bed all day. I was devastated to miss it as we probably won't be going back to Cape Verde, but luckily the quad biking was awesome.

There isn't much to see on the island as it is mostly just desert - and not pretty desert, honestly most parts are kind of dirty, but when you quad along the coast line it becomes really colourful and beautiful. 

Being all inclusive, we never planned to leave the hotel at nights, and luckily they had a few nights of great entertainment, including an amazing rendition of The Lion King and Chicago. The other nights were hit and miss, but the performance of these really made up for it. 

Though the buffet did some great food, I always find that I get too excited and end up eating really strange meals that just don't match. Pizza with paella, pasta and chips... I just can't sit down and have a proper meal. Luckily we booked ourselves in for the American and Fish restaurants (this was before I went vegan btw)

At the fish restaurant we both paid a little extra for Lobster - and boy was it worth it! Two small lobsters each, and they were amazing, but what was perhaps even more tasty was my starter - tuna salad with avocado, presented beautifully, but tasted even better.

At the American restaurant Ben paid extra for steak, which turned out to be bigger than his head, and I ordered the mini burger trio. Again it was delicious, but I think the fish restaurant won.

 Overall it was an amazing holiday. It was so relaxed, 11 nights full of nothing, just how we like it. Though I probably wouldn't go back to the small island again, I am really glad we decided to go - and would recommend it to anyone wanting sun, sea, cocktails and relaxation!


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Book Review - The Cove - Ron Rash

'Superstitions are just coincidence, or ignorance.'

The Cove was one of the books I bought on my kindle just because it was there, I had no idea what it was about other than some outcasts, shunned by the rest of their town. The cover looked creepy (I know, judge me for judging the cover) and I thought... I need holiday books - why not!

Laurel and Hank Shelton live in The Cove a small, isolated harbour off of a small, isolated town in North Carolina. Laurel is shunned to live off the land in the cove, rarely leaving its dark loneliness due to a wine stained birth mark on her shoulder, promoting the rest of the town community to see her as a witch, they both fear and despise her.

Her brother Hank lost his hand in the war, but gained enough respect from the town to gain himself a prospective wife. Finding out that Hank plans to leave her alone in the cove for his new wife, Laurel falls into a depression about her future. Till one day, a mute flute player comes into their care. Laurel falls in love with not just his music, but him, and even Hank starts to see him as someone who could stay with his sister forever.

Its a slow, sad novel. If you're looking for a perky read, this definitely isn't it. I probably wouldn't recommend it as a holiday read... to me holiday books are chick flick, Hollywood glam, easy read types. The type of books you're a little embarrassed to publicize that you're reading. Though this does have romance within it, The Cove isn't a romance novel. Though Laurel clings to the idea of a deep loving future, her loneliness and sadness overrides this. 

The contrast between the characters in The Cove, and those from the town makes you sympathize with Laurel more - they're dicks basically.  And this comes to a head at the climax of the book, when some town members finally brave entering the harbour.

The ending was both good and unexpected. It got the much needed pace quickening and suspense that I wanted throughout the book. I found that even though I didn't think I had, I had gotten really into the story, and really invested in the characters - it was subtle, but it happened.

Overall I would give this book a 3 out of 5. It was a little slow overall for me, but the ending really made up for it. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Book Review - Glass Sword - Victoria Aveyard

'And I am revealed for exactly what I am - a particularly stupid fish, moving from hook to hook, never learning my lesson.'

Glass Sword is the second book in the series by Victoria Aveyard, so if you haven't read Red Queen - leave this review now! Spoilers be ahead, you have been warned!

Are they gone?


Glass Sword starts where Red Queen left us. Mare and Cal on the run from now king Maven. The book follows Mare's hunt for other newbloods like her, those who's blood runs red but have abilities even stronger than silvers. Trouble is, Maven knows where to look too, so the race is on.

Secondary to the plot is the complicated relationship between Mare and Cal, she swears she hates him, but I think its pretty obviously untrue, and they will most likely end up together. Honestly, I have no interest in their relationship, being far more interested in that of Shade and Farley, in fact, and I know a lot of people will disagree, I would rather that Farley was the main protagonist, I just can't connect with Mare.

Not to say I didn't enjoy the book, I did, but it gets very repetitive - I got really excited towards the end when it seemed a battle was brewing, but then it just stops, and it makes you realise how dull the rest of the book really was. I know it has a huge following, and in ways I can see why, but I think I just find it predictable and lacking somewhat.

For me Mare is just.... everyone is in love with her, she is so super duper special and so very jaded, can't trust a single soul and has to push everyone away. This causes people to question her judgement and blah blah sound familiar? Sounds like every YA heroine ever really. I guess thats what annoys me most. I know she has been through a lot, and has every right to be jaded, but I think she just takes it too far, verging on completely neurotic. If the author wants me to care about her relationships with people, surely she should make the protagonist actually have some instead of just cut herself off from the world. No?

Having said all this, I still want to read the next book when it is released. I do want to know what happens, it isn't just a book I can completely abandon, because it does have its good points. The ending for one, Aveyard can write an ending!

Overally I think I would give this book a 3/5, I enjoyed it and want to know more, but there are a few changes I would like to see for it to be perfect.

Have you read Glass Sword? What did you think? Do you ship Mare with Cal or Maven? Or are you like me and couldn't really give a shit? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Book Review - The Making of Zombie Wars - Aleksandar Hemon

“What doesn't kill you makes you horny”

I picked this book up on a complete whim, I knew absolutely nothing about either the story of the author. Basically, it looked cool and I judged the book by its cover...but opposite to how the saying goes, it worked out pretty well

The Making of the Zombie Wars is hard to describe... its about Josh Levin a neurotic American teacher who is trying to make it in the screenwriting world. The books blends both his Zombie Wars script idea with his real life - though I'll be honest I didn't really pay attention to the screen play parts, which I regretted when I finally got to the end - which I didn't understand?! I think I know what he was going for but.... its just didn't seem to work with me. I would happily have finished the book a chapter early to skip the ending as to me it just didn't fit. (If you've read it let me know what you think about the ending below, I haven't spoken to anyone else that has read to book yet so I really want to know what other people think about it!)

Zombie Wars is basically about a self absorbed guy, he thinks the world is against him and is very 'pity me, pity me' - he is kinda hard to like - who goes and fucks up his life even more. There is a lot of sex and violence, so if that isn't your thing, then this book isn't for you. 

Josh's landlord is probably one of the best characters, he is just so utterly mad, suffering from severe PTSD, which really helps progress the story - when you're like, wait, when the fuck did it get to bad, just blame him. I also ended up really liking Kimmy, Josh's girlfriend, and felt pretty bad for her in the end, she doesn't deserve a shit like Josh. I can't say I liked Ana, a woman in Josh's ESL class who comes onto him, I didn't pity her like I think we were supposed too, instead I see her as quite calculated and manipulating - not that Josh didn't deserve this.

I understand why some people don't like this book - 'oh look, another whiny white guy' - but I don't think you have to like Josh, you don't have to pity him for the shit that happens, I think I enjoyed it more just watching him fuck up his live.

I think I would give this book a 4 out of 5. I enjoyed how character driven it was, and it was an actual fnny read. 

Have any of you read The Making Of The Zombie Wars? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below. 

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Book Review - Girl In The Dark - Anna Lyndsey

“My dreams are crowded with people, as though to compensate for the solitariness of my waking hours

Anna is a normal, hardworking woman, who suddenly starts to feel burning pain whenever light touches her face. The condition gets gradually worse until she has to resolve herself to the confines of her room, where the windows, and even the gap under the door, is blacked out. Unable to sit by computers, or have a light on to even read a book, Anna is stuck in the dark, listening to her radio, or sleeping the hours of her black life away.

Though a sad story, Anna writes this in a way that doesn't make you feel sorry for her. She finds the humour in her situation. She writes with hope, something I definitely wouldn't be able to find if I were in her situation.

I think anyone suffering from either depression, anxiety or a chronic illness, anything that causes people to stay in their houses, in their beds, for the most part of the day, if you are a sufferer I believe you would be able to identify with this book. You don't burn with pain when the light touches your skin, but you are consumed by the darkness in your mind - and though that isn't the point of the book, I think the idea is definitely in there.

Again, this is another easy read, it's only short and it isn't full of words and paragraphs that are hard to follow. I don't think I've ever read a memoir before, always thinking they would be sappy or narcissistic, but I can say that this book isn't that. However, having said that I don't think I would make reading this style of book a regular occurrence. Yes, I enjoyed it, but I need more of a plot to my books, I need something I can get hooked on.

Overall I think I would give this book a 4/5. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did, nor to give it such a high rating, but its hard not to be enamored with Anna's hope, and her humour, in a situation I would personally find all consuming.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Book Review - Harry Potter And The Cursed Child - J.K Rowling

“It's tough to live with people stuck in the past”

Perhaps I should call this a script review instead of a book review, but the story throughout is still strong, and I felt it would be silly of me not to tell you my thoughts on this. 

As I probably won't be able to see the play for a long longgggg time, seeing this book in my local bookstore I grabbed it without even a second thought. I am a Potterhead no doubt - though I lean more towards the books than the films - so of course I had to have this within my possession. I read this within a day, easily, which I think most people will as, being a script, it is mostly dialogue and doesn't go into depth like a novel would. I am so happy to be back reading about Hogwarts, it has been far too long.

Harry Potter and the Curse Child follows not Harry, but his son Albus and his friend Scorpius Malfoy. Albus and Harry don't get a long, Albus despises his father's fame and the implications that has on him at school, Harry just doesn't know how to reach out to his son and grow a bond between them. With growing differences of opinion, and Albus' longing to be someone other than his father's son, Albus and Scorpius take the past into their own hands, and the events that follows play out in the script.

Firstly, this isn't a children's novel, which you can argue the original Harry Potter's were, it would be silly to be written in the same way when the majority of the fans of the books have grown up alongside Harry and his friends. Instead this is a story about friendship and character, and I really enjoyed it. Some of the descriptions of spells within the script really make me want to see the play just to see how they will pull them off, I don't think knowing the story beforehand would ruin it in anyway - it didn't for the films!

My one complaint, which is a small complaint, is that I didn't like how Ron was written... he just didn't seem like the Ron I grew up loving, instead he seemed to have been dumbed down into comic relief. However, as the majority of the story follows the children of the trio it isn't big enough to ruin the story for me.

The story is pretty obvious, there aren't any major twists or surprises, but the events are great all the same.  

I would definitely recommend this script to anyone who loves the originals, I know it has been getting bad reviews from some fans from how it differs, but you have to remember that the characters have grown up like we have, and to see and feel the magic you need more than dialogue and to, perhaps, be sitting in the audience of the play. It isn't a novel, so don't expect it to be. I rate this 4.5/5 - my highest rating yet? I adored it, and the feeling of Nostalgia for the past me reading the books.

Have any of you read the script? Perhaps you've already seen the play? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below. 


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Book Review - The Man Without A Shadow - Joyce Carol Oates

“Laughter too depends upon memory—a memory of previous laughter.” 

The Man Without A Shadow follows Margot Sharpe, a neuroscientist studying Elihu Hoopes, an amnesia patient who can only retain new information for 70 seconds. Hoopes' deep loneliness, and secret childhood trauma, draws Margot in. He becomes much more to her than a subject of study.

I'm going to be blunt. I hated this book. When I picked it up and read the blurb I thought it would be something totally different, I thought we would delve into the mystery of Eli's recurring dreams of a young girl's dead body floating in a lake. I thought that would be the main plot at least; I was wrong.

The Man Without a Shadow is about a deluded but very smart woman, Margot Sharpe, who falls in love with both her boss and then Eli Hoopes. The book is written primarily from her point of view, and because I couldn't get over the fact that she was a moron I couldn't connect with her, and therefore the story. 

I can't say I am a big fan for romance novels as it is, I think they need to be secondary to the plot and not the whole thing, but when one of the duo in love is completely deluded about the 'romance' then I really can't get on board. This is a woman who has studied the brain and amnesia her whole life, and knows that Eli cannot retain any memory after his trauma that passes 70 seconds. She knows this, but still lets her deep loneliness let her believe that he does know her, and does love her. She makes him believe that they are married, she convinces herself that, although she is in her 50s at this point, she is pregnant with his child. I couldn't even feel sorry for her, because unlike Eli her loneliness is self-inflicted. She puts all her time into work, neglecting her deathly ill mother, and believing she is too much better than her colleagues to make friends. To me this wasn't a tragic love story, but a story of a woman who, though says she thinks being female makes her weaker, falls into the same trope of obsessive love. 

I found it a real chore to finish this book, but I promised myself I would. Oates' writing is also really hard to get on board with, she has a style that often repeats exact phrases that have been said not that long before. At first I thought perhaps this was to make us understand what it would be like working with a patient of severe amnesia, but after a while the effect just annoyed me.

I didn't enjoy this book, and therefore only give it 1/5. I know there would be some out there that would enjoy this tragic love story, but sadly I can't say that I am one of them.

Have you read the man without a shadow? What did you think? Was it a tragic love story, or a book about an idiot? Let me know in your comments below. 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Looking Back To Mexico

With our holiday to Cape Verde only a month away, I found myself looking through pictures from my last holiday, nearly two years ago now, to Mexico, and I wanted to share some of my favourite memories of that trip with you.

The Hotel we stayed in - Occidental Grand Xcaret - was amazing. Though it was my first holiday without my parents, I can say that from all the places I have visited in my fortunate childhood, this was my favourite. I think it was even featured on the X Factor at some point... if that makes you think better of it I don't know. 

Its a standalone resort pretty much in the middle of the jungle, which they bring inside of the hotel, so you feel like you are wandering nature when you're walking from your room to the buffet. We spotted deer, flamingos, parrots, iguanas and more just wandering around the base. 

And if that isn't good enough, we had free unlimited access to the nature park next door, here they had dolphins, sharks and many more marine creatures, plus jaguars and monkeys. This was the only area that had access to wifi, so we visit a lot when we wanted to catch up with family and friends, plus with activities such as swimming with sharks/dolphins and cave swimming we had a lot to do just next door to our hotel. 

The resort had a huge amount of pools to choose from, the above being our favourite due to the in pool bar which we sat at for most of our days. 

We also decided to go on an excursion, which included not only jumping into sinkholes but a visit to Chichen Itza a huge Mayan ruin. The whole tour was great and we learnt a lot about ancient Mayan activities - I would recommend to anyone who visits Mexico.

This year we're taking a gopro with us. It was a little frustrating to have so many water activities in Mexico that we were unable to capture memories with due to cameras. Plus as Ben has volunteered to wear the camera, we can easily turn it on and explore the island without having to put our face behind a lens. Hopefully I should have some great photos and videos to show you soon!


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Book Review - Finders Keepers - Stephen King

“Shit don't mean shit” 

Though I haven't read many of his books, I am a big fan of Stephen King. His On Writing really inspired me, and I really think anyone who wants to write, no matter what it is you write, should read it. Finders Keepers is the first crime thriller I have read by him, and as you know a crime thriller, thought more a crime mystery, is one of my favourite genres.

Finders Keepers starts with the murder of  John Rothstein, author of three best selling novels on Jimmy Gold. Being labelled a sell out due to his last book of the trilogy, John Rothstein confined himself to a solitary life, secretly writing pages and pages of new material in journals kept in a safe along with thousands of dollars of cash. 

The story then follows both the murderer, a man obsessed with Rothstein with a drinking problem, and Pete Saubers, a young boy who's family are on the verge of a split, who then finds a mysterious trunk of money and journals years later. 

Its not a crime mystery, from the outset you know what is going to happen, but its Stephen King, you know its going to be a good story no matter what. 

What I like most about Stephen King's writing, is how he writes characters. You're in their heads all the time, and that has a way of making you root for them, even if they are a murderer. You find yourself thinking 'yeah get that arsehole' even when it is the person themselves who deserve comeuppance. 

The story itself is so-so, though I wouldn't compare it to Misery like a lot of people are prone to do - including me from reading the blurb. Yes it is about an individual obsessed with an author, but this is a crime thriller that focuses on the after effects of what choices you make instead of the obsession. Perhaps its my darker mind, but I do prefer the Misery style. 

Overall, I think I would give this book a 4/5. It wasn't perfect, but I did enjoy it, I really got invested in the characters and was hooked the whole way up till the end.

Have you read Finders Keepers? Or perhaps you've read some other Stephen King books? Let me know what you think about them in the comments below!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Book Review - Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs

“We cling to our fairy tales until the price for believing in them becomes too high.” 

I really, really, really, really, wanted to love this book, really. Everything about it just screamed 'You will love me', the cover, the idea, the fact that Tim Fucking Burton (his true name) is making a movie out of it. I thought, finally, a creepy novel I can get into.

This is the reason you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is about 16 year old Jacob, who after witnessing a family death goes on a journey to Wales to discover the crumbled remains of Miss Peregrine's home. What follows is a very peculiar adventure.

Firstly, I would like to say, this isn't a scary book, not even mildly. I have read some reviews of people that adore this book (most people do, it seems to be the in Instagram and Tumblr book right now, so please don't hate me for my feelings on this!) and they all seem to find it really creepy. 

I suppose the photographs could be creepy, if they weren't so obviously fake, but the plot itself just isn't. The whole plot just pans out really blandly. There are teases of some depth to the world of the peculiar children, including the town raids, but they are merely mentioned and passed over. I would have loved to have seen an actual raid, to see the darker side of the children, who feel the need to vent their frustration out on innocent town members, hurting them, burning their homes. Plus I think there would be more to the characters if, perhaps, instead of being perpetual children, mind and body, that they aged mentally inside of their childish forms. I know this would make Miss Peregrine a little redundant as a teacher, but it makes more sense.

The relationship between Jacob and Emma is also.... just plain weird. That is all I have to say on that.

Like I said. I really wanted to like this book, and I know so many people adore it, but, I found it boring. And also really easy; I finished it in a day. Because of this, I give it a 2 out of 5. I will be seeing the movie, in the hopes that Tim Burton can save the plot, but I won't be reading the sequels. 

Friday, 22 July 2016

Book Review - The Girl In The Spider's Web - David Lagercrantz

“Those who spy on the people end up themselves being spied on by the people.” 

Having read, and loved, all of the previous Millennium series, I was hesitant to read the latest installment written by a new author. Stieg Larsson died suddenly, at the age of 50, in 2004. This, sadly, meant he was never here to see the success, and joy his books would bring to the world. Following his untimely death, the rights of the Millennium series were passed over to his estranged family, who, though to the protest's of Stieg's partner, hired a new author, David Lagercrantz, to carry on his works. 

The Girl In The Spider's Web follows Blomkvist, who, after receiving a call in the dead of night from a source claiming to have secrets that endanger his life, finds himself once again on the hunt for the truth alongside super hacker Lisbeth.

Though I believe there could have been more to the story after the trilogy's end, I don't think this should have been done by another author. I do not know the true intentions of the family when carrying on the story, however, I do believe there was an air of riding on the success of the first three novels. No one can know the truth of the characters aside from the original author. And I felt this while reading the book. 

I love Lisbeth, I know she is flawed, but she is a character with so much depth. I don't think this came through in this book - perhaps I am being biased, but some of what she said, I just couldn't picture coming from her mouth, and, to me, sometimes she just came across as mean, something I don't associate with her now knowing her character.

The story itself is so-so. I think it took too long to get into. I'd got about three quarters of the way through the book when I thought to myself, wait, nothing has actually happened yet. I also think it was rather predictable. Not that the books before had many twists, but this story offered an air of mystery and then gave away the answer to soon.

Did I enjoy this book? It was OK, perhaps I would have liked it better with new characters as a standalone novel, but following such a strong series? It falls flat. Overall, I would give it a 2 out of 5, this might seem harsh, but towards the end I honestly struggled so much to bother to finish the story. 

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Book Review - The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith (J.K Rowling)

I've had to use a stock photo as my book cover has pretty much rubbed off and you can't tell what it is!

“A lie would have no sense unless the truth were felt as dangerous.” 

I only, eventually, read this book because it fell into my lap once my mum had finished it. If I’m honest, I never really thought about going out to buy it; I thought J.K Rowling (or Robert Galbraith as she is known on this book) couldn’t write for adults. Which was silly really, just because I was a child when I read all the Harry Potter books, didn’t mean that adults hadn’t enjoyed them as well, and as I grew up with the books, they seemed to grow up too.

The Cuckoos Calling follows Cormoran Strike, a private detective who, as early as the first page, is living in his office on an old camp bed, living off of instant noodles. He hasn’t had any cases in a long time, debt collectors are chasing him up, and he has just had to fire his last secretary from Temporary Solutions. Following a mix-up at the temp agency, he is sent Robin, a recently engaged girl, who is relishing in the idea that she can work a couple of weeks in her dream job of private detectives. After a very awkward introduction; which involves Strike saving Robin from falling down the stairs by grabbing her breast (?) They both set to work on the case of Lula Landry, a celebrated model who plunged to her death from her balcony window. Was it suicide like the police ruled? Or did something more happen, like so many of her close friends, and brother, believe? And what the hell was on that blue piece of paper!

I love crime fiction, I think I have mentioned it before, and no doubt I will mention again in the future - because I love crime fiction! I love the mystery that it entails, and the usual twist at the end. And I really enjoyed this book too.

A lot of people said that they guessed the ending way before they got there. As an avid mystery reader I thought I would too, and at one point I did, but I dismissed it as a silly idea and went back to trying to guess what else could have happened. Even though I enjoyed the book  I feel like this isn’t the kind of novel that you would enjoy so much once you had guessed the ending, I think it would seem somewhat tedious after that. It does follow a similar format throughout, they get a lead, Strike talks to them, he goes back to the office, and gets another lead, I think this is only interesting if you are still guessing what happened, and not just reading through to prove that you’re right.

I also have to admit, I didn’t enjoy the way the ending came out. It seemed to come out as a long, 3 page lecture, with Strike boasting that he knew everything from the beginning, instead of a quick, snappy, surprise like most twists.

What I really enjoyed about the book were the characters, Rowling really knows how to bring her characters to life. I’ve seen a few people complain that they don’t enjoy Rowling’s descriptive writing style, but personally, I really like it. Sometimes it does get a bit silly, every noun in the paragraph will have an adjective, and that adjective has to be slightly obscure, but overall I don’t mind it.

When my mum was telling  me about the book, she told me that at points she was laughing out loud at it, especially the scene where Strike and Robin meet. Personally, I just found that scene awkward, how can you save someone from falling down the stairs by grabbing their boob? Unless they were absolutely huge, which by the way Robin is described they’re not, it doesn’t make sense to me, it just seemed to be added in to assert that 'yes, this was written by a man, no multi-millionaire authors here'. Having said that, there were a lot of scenes that were slightly funny; I’m not a huge ‘LOL’ person when it comes to books, but there were parts that made me smile, and Strike, though huge and grubby, does come across as a big softie - sort of Mad Eye Moody in a way.

Having, personally, enjoyed this book, I would give it 4/5. I can see why some people gave it less, but if you’re not amazing at guessing endings of mystery, and you want a lighter hearted read than other crime fiction, then I really think you will enjoy this book. 

Friday, 24 June 2016

Book Review - The Vorrh - Brian Catling

“Walking into the night, he was in control of his world. He would shape it with the gods and demons into an understanding of forces, each with its own price, marked in blood.”

I am not sure what to make of this book. It took a little while to get into, but once I did I *think* I enjoyed it. Maybe.

The Vorrh is set in and around a vast, mystical forest on the edge of a small town in Africa. They say if you travel through the forest, full of angels, demons and more, you lose your memories, or worse your soul. It is a story of many characters who’s stories become loosely entwined thanks to The Vorrh. Oh, and there is a bow made out of the dead body of a woman…  it’s all a bit weird.

I think the main problem with this book is that it focuses on building the world rather than the plot within it. If you enjoy long, descriptive texts - which I will admit are fantastically written - then you may like this. If you don’t care about the backstory of a table; the tree it once was, who cut it down, how it came to be in this house, that kind of writing, you won’t like it - it will be a very long read. And I, at times, did find it a long read. Sometimes I could only read a few paragraphs before I gave up, finding the writing pretentious at best, other times I read continuously for hours without stopping.

I think the plan is to turn the story into a trilogy, and by the end of the read I don’t think I will carry on with the next book. I guess there is a slight mystery around who Ishmael’s (a cyclops who gets his face rebuilt) parents are, but, honestly, I don’t care. It was good while it lasted, but I’m not interested in carrying on the story.

There are no heroes in this fantasy, no character that you really root for, it isn’t written that way. The intent, I believe, is to cause unease, perhaps slight fear, at the idea of The Vorrh, did I think that was achieved. Not really, but then it takes a lot to freak me out in books.

Do I recommend this book, I honestly don’t know, and I don’t think that is a good sign. It really depends on the person. Perhaps if you love world-building and philosophy, but if you like adventure in your fantasy I don’t think this is for you.

Personally, I rate this book 2 out of 5. Though I enjoyed it in the end, I didn’t really connect to the story, and had I never read it I don’t think I would have missed out on much. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Book Review - The Buried Giant - Kazuo Ishiguro

“How can old wounds heal while maggots linger so richly?”

The Buried Giant follows an elderly couple, Axl and Beatrice, on their travels to their son's village, though they cannot remember where that is. In fact, there is a mist of forgetfulness over the whole country. And though the story is written as a dragon slaying fantasy, it looks more into whether remembering everything is really a good thing.

I haven't read any of Ishiguro's previous works, and I think this is a good thing, as having read some of his fan's views on this book there seems to be wide disappointment. This is his first foray into the fantasy genre - a very difficult genre to get right, but I think when done well makes some of the best reads.

It was another slow book, and at times, I did find it difficult to keep going. At first I was glad to have an elderly couple for protagonists, as it isn't something you usually see, but after a while the plot seemed to move as fast as they did. 

While the couple first set out to move to their son's village, feeling mistreated by their own after having their candle taken away, they get directed instead into finding and slaying the dragon Querig, who's breath is causing forgetfulness throughout the land. Though Beatrice is eager for her memories to be returned, Axl is more cautious, worried that knowing the truth could mean the end of their relationship. Beatrice argues that the love they feel for each other now must mean that the past cannot be so bad - and this is the theme that the book mostly follows. 

The dialogue can feel awkward and slightly forced at times, and by the end of it I was sick of reading the word 'Princess', and it can sometimes be a slightly confusing read, with passages that after reading you still don't know what is going on, but even then I found that I enjoyed the book overall. I think it is a very different kind of fantasy to what I am used to, it focuses on the journey rather than the adventure. Overall I would give this book a 3/5, it can be slow, and it can seem slightly repetitive, but if you're looking for a relaxed fantasy, then I would recommend this to you

Book Review - The Loney - Andrew Michael Hurley

“Hell was a place ruled by the logic of children.”

The Loney follows a religious group - arguably religious fanatics - who go on a pilgrimage to the Loney, a small village by the coast, to attempt to cure the protagonist's mute brother. What was once a quiet, god loving village, has now turned into something darker, where the group are not welcome.

I had such high hopes for this book. I was in Waterstones and had just bought two books to read when I came across this. From reading the back I thought it would be a horror story, dark and mystic. Though I left the shop without it, I couldn't stop thinking about how I wanted to read the book, I just couldn't get it out of my head, so later that day I bought it on my kindle. 

It wasn't what I expected at all. It could have been so great, a story of religion vs the occult in a way. It could have been dark and creepy, it had so much potential. However, I think it fell short. The story never really picked up, and by the time I was halfway through I just didn't care anymore. There was one segment where I thought the story would finally get darker and we would see some of the rituals of the village, but it was short lived and never mentioned again. 

I think the portrayal of Mummer as a mother clinging desperately to religion in the hopes of a cure for her mute son was written well, but overall I didn't connect to any of the characters. I didn't really connect to any of the story at all. 

Perhaps in the right setting this could have built some tension up inside me, made me feel a little eerie, but mostly I just felt bored. I am really disappointed, because as I said, I really thought this book was going to be great. Therefore, I give it 2/5. For me nothing happened, perhaps the ending could have salvaged the rest of the book, but even the small twist didn't have much of an impact.  

Book Review - Pretty Girls - Karin Slaughter

The world stops for you when you’re pretty. That’s why women spend billions on crap for their faces. Their whole life, they’re the center of attention. People want to be around them just because they’re attractive. Their jokes are funnier. Their lives are better.

Warning - This book has dark themes, depicting torture, rape and murder

Karin Slaughter is now one of my new favourite thriller writers. I had never heard of her before this book, and downloaded Pretty Girls on a whim when I had nothing else on my kindle - but I am so glad I bought it!

Pretty Girls follows two estranged sisters, Lydia and Claire Carroll. After the disappearance of their oldest sister Julia the two sisters followed different paths of grief, and after Lydia accuses Claire's boyfriend of attempting to rape her, the lose contact for over 20 years. Following Claire's husband's death the two sisters are thrown back together, on a path of discovery into who Claire's husband really was, and what happened to their sister so long ago.

It was a lot darker than I thought it would be, a lot darker than a lot of the crime thrillers I have read of late, but rather than put me off it made me enjoy the book even more. It sounds a bit odd, but the gore made a nice change. You know when men say they can feel it themselves when they see someone get kicked in the crotch? Some scenes were like that, but with shackles and saws. 

It only took me just over a day to finish this book, I was so engrossed in the story. Aside from the plot I think the characterisation of the two sisters was also done really well. You can see where they dramatically differ, and yet are both similar. Their reluctance to trust each other again after so long, but ultimately their bond as siblings is put above all else, it was written really well.

I did find that I could guess most of the story from the beginning, it lacked a twist which I think makes most thrillers so great, however I didn't find this impacted on my enjoyment overall. I would give this a 4.5/5 If you love crime thrillers, if you're not put off by gore - this book is for you!
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