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. 
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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
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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.  
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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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Book Review - The Book Of Disquiet - Fernando Pessoa


“I wasn’t meant for reality, but life came and found me.”

It took me many attempts to get through this book. It isn't the kind of book that enthralls you into reading it all in one sitting, rather it is a book that I kept around me most of the time and dipped in and out of when the mood struck me. 

If I am honest, I found it quite hard work to read - which seems strange. It is a emotionally draining experience. 

The Book of Disquiet is the musings of Fernando Pessoa, a bookkeeper in Portugal. There is no story here, no plot to follow, just the thoughts and feelings of Pessoa in his everyday life. Therefore if you like your reading to follow a plot, this isn't for you.

The Book of Disquiet can come across pretty self-indulgent at times, an essay of miserable tedium; tedium seeming to be the main theme of his life, It can be repetitive, he sleeps, he wakes, he feels bored, but it also includes some amazing passages that you will want to highlight to read back later.


I don't really know if I enjoyed this book or not. I think it vastly depended on the mood I was in when I read through some chapters. Overall I would probably give it a 3 out of 5, I am glad I finally read it, but I wouldn't want to read through it again.

If you enjoy emotion filled essays, if you like to see the deeper side of people's thoughts, then I would recommend this book to you. However, if you like your books to have a story, to have a purpose really, then I would say skip this for now.
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