Shadow and Bone

Title: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Indigo
Publication Year: 2014
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Romance
Rating: 3.5

You’re the first glimmer of hope I’ve had for a long time.

Oh gosh I blame Charlie for this. Yet anther series that I’ve fallen in love with because Charlie recommended it to me. I have to stop reading series and start reading more stand-alone novels. Or maybe just stop reading series that Inkwellsandbooksmells recommends because I read the first book and then end up buying the entirety of the rest of the series because I can’t cope waiting. I don’t have the money for this Charlie! I don’t! But the books are so good and I can never wait to get started on the rest of the series.

Now this review is going to go back and forth a lot because there were a bunch of things I liked and didn’t like about this book starting with the love triangle. Does every YA novel have to have a love triangle now? Is this some sort of YA formula? One female lead + one best friend + one mystery, dark broody type = THE BEST LOVE STORY OF ALL TIME. Because I hate them but every time I open a YA novel I seem to stumble across yet another love triangle and it’s starting to get a little repetitive. Although I admit that this one did have a pretty good twist as things moved further along. I for one was not expecting it in the slightest and I think Bardugo did a great job at catching us off guard. But I do think that the relationships definitely could have been developed a little more before the big changes came into play. Then maybe it would have had a greater effect. Having said that I adored the relationship between Mal and Alina. I love best friend relationships and it was great reading about the two best friends growing up together. It really made me happy to see a bit of a background there.

However, while there’s a background for some of the characters, I couldn’t really see a decent world background. In my opinion this entire world wasn’t really built that well. I really wanted to love it because there were so many things that I adored like the creation of Grisha’s and all of their abilities. I thought the Fold was genius and how Alina’s power worked into that was pretty neat. But I felt like it was rather lacking other than that. There was no explanation of where the Grisha powers came from, nor how someone could develop them. I was also a little confused as to how there could be so many Corporalki, Etheralki and Materialki but there’s only one Darkling and only one Alina. But then I guess without that there wouldn’t be a plot. There’s a little bit of information about the different groups that live in this world but there is little/no description of the world. I can only hope this is fixed in the next one!

There are seriously strong chosen one vibes in this though and another timid MC who thinks that she’s unattractive and boring before she manages to enter a love triangle and become one of the most important people in the world. I don’t know but like with love triangles this plot point is incredibly overused. Having said that, I liked that Lina wasn’t a headstrong bad-ass like most MCs. I liked that she was nervous and timid but I found that it was great that as the story developed so did she. She grew as a person (although I thought that she took a huge step forwards at one point, just to take about 3 back later on) and it was amazing seeing that. I also did not see the point in the bitchy character. She literally was not needed at all, other than to give the MC a jealous opponent in order to feel even better about herself.

Then, finally there was the writing. The writing that was so flowing and beautiful and mesmerising. I loved it. Bardugo just has ways of describing scenes that has me hooked and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the next book. Now just to put this review to bed and start reading!

A Study in Charlotte

Title: A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1)
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Mystery | YA | Romance
Rating: 3.5

“Like you said, you can take care of yourself,” I told her, finally. “If you murdered hm, I bet there would be twenty witnesses who saw him put the gun to his own head.”

I adore Sherlock Holmes novels. I think I’ve read all of them as well as the many spin offs that have come as a results. As far as I’m considered, nothing can beat the BBC show – I can’t get enough of that awesomeness – but I am constantly searching for something just as good for these long seasons breaks, which brought me to rewrites. Some of them are brilliant and funny while some are like this and sort of a flop. Don’t get me wrong this was a fun read, I just found it a bit lacking at times and it didn’t really cover some serious subjects properly, or at least as far as I’m concerned it didn’t.

So first things first, the use a murder from a book to frame a real life murder is getting a little overused for me. I’ve seen it done quite a few times in literature and while it’s cool it’s getting a little repetitive. Having said that, one of the things I liked about the way Cavallaro has done it here, is reading about James’ reaction to it. James Watson is the voice of A Study in Charlotte and I found it rather humorous reading the scenes shortly following the murder when he commented on the original Watson’s writing of it. It just made me laugh. Especially the one where he talks about how he really doesn’t understand what was going through Watson’s mind when he wrote that scene.

Admittedly James’ narration of the novel is very funny at times. It was well-written and he is really witty and funny, which makes the whole thing very entertaining. However at points I was a little disappointed at the YA route the novel took. I love a bit of Johnlock but in this book it just felt forced to me from the very beginning. He was obsessed with Holmes at first, always talking about her and the way he flew to her defence in the beginning was something straight out of a twilight novel. As the book developed and we got to know more characters, I found his obsession with Moriarty (or Moriarty and Holmes’ relationship) a little annoying. I get that it would be a popular ship, but part of me wanted this just to be a best friend relationship. However they appeared to be destined from the very beginning.

I also want to point out that while this is a retelling (of sorts) the characters don’t have to be identical to their predecessors. I feel like this is always an issue that comes up in adaptions and I definitely felt it here. Just because Charlotte is Sherlock’s great grand-daughter doesn’t mean that she also has to be stellar at deductions, a violin player, an ass, and a hardcore drug addict on top of everything. She just felt too much like carbon copy at times.

Which brings me to the issues that I felt weren’t handled properly. For starters her drug addiction: Charlotte is addicted to oxy but no one seems to do anything about it. She also smokes and again receives no comment or aid with this as far as I can tell. I just feel like this in a teenager would have been reacted on a lot more than in the adult Sherlock. Not to mention the scene with Dobson is completely glossed over and James seem to be the only person angry about this! This would have had a much bigger reaction in modern day but people are more obsessed with the murder and Holmes and Watson rather than that. I just found it a bit unrealistic, especially the way it all happened.

The last thing that bugged me was the ending. For the entire novel we were fed little bits of information and then right at the end the murderer was revealed and suddenly we get all of the information, at once. It was wildly confusing, only made more so by James’ writing. I just think that this could have been handled a lot better, especially when the facts about the first murder came out. I feel like Holmes’ would have had more of a reaction to that, but she didn’t.

Altogether I did like this book, don’t get me wrong it was funny at times and had a decent plot. But I just felt like it was trying to hard to be the original duo in modern times, with a twist. And it also badly advertises drugs and smoking. As well as uses an incredibly traumatic experience as a minor plot point. 

The Raven King

Title: The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #3)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Romance
Rating: 3.5

He was a king. This was the year he was going to die.

Well that’s it.

I’m done.

I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to recover after this series. I just hope that Cursed Child can help me to get over these.

Admittedly out of all these books I feel like this one was the weakest, which was a little sad considering it was the last in the series. But it also had a lot to cover and I think it did an okay job at it. However there were a lot of things that I didn’t enjoy. I swear I was ready to kill Stiefvater by the time I got to the last chapter and I had to read ‘Depending on where you began the story‘ one last time. I love the whole repeated chapter starters. In Once it was quirky and different but in this it just made me want to rip my hair out. The one good thing out of it was that she acknowledged all of her characters, major and minor and I thought that was a really good way to bring the book to a close.

In addition to above, her writing also irritated me in this one. A lot. I didn’t mind it as much in the last books because I loved the effect that it created but in this one it felt like she was trying to hard. Repetition is a great tool at an author’s disposal but it feels like Stiefvater had only just discovered this technique and decided to use it on hyperdrive. There were so many scenes where she repeated herself multiple times for what I assume was to improve the scene but really only irked me. I also felt like this was rushed, way too rushed. There were some good bits but the chase scene, the fight scene, the kiss scenes all seemed to be glossed over in favour of other things and I didn’t really find that interesting after reading three books of build up!

One of the other things that I found annoying was the introduction of a character, who hadn’t only briefly been mentioned before, who suddenly became a main character. Also is he the only POC character in this novel?! Bonus points to Stiefvater for being LGBT friendly but where are all the POC characters? Not to mention everyone who is introduced appears to have some sort of power or magical knowledge. How on Earth was this thing kept under-wraps when everyone seems to know something or someone or have some sort of connection with this entire thing? I found myself looking at new characters wondering what they could do. I was never 100% sure how they were going to but I knew they were going to fit in somewhere.

At least my Raven Boys didn’t let me down! The misfits were still as brilliant as I remembered, or at least some of them were. Ronan was still an idiot and a badass and his friendship with Blue in this one came out of nowhere but I loved it. Their conversations were brilliant and he seemed just like a misleading trouble-loving big brother! Then there was his relationship with Adam, which was also great. I loved watching them working together and trying to figure everything out. However I felt like this forced Blue and Gansey to take a backseat. They didn’t really seem to do much at all this novel except for pursuing their relationship and Gansey attempting to come over his fear, until right at the end.

Also where’s Noah?! He was barely mentioned at all and I missed him! It also felt like he’d been replaced by the new guy, which I really hated 😦

But despite all the bad points I’ve made, I did like this book! I just wasn’t 100% happy with how things turned out. I had a list of things that I wanted when I went into this novel. I wanted them to find Glendower. I wanted Pynch to finally happen. I wanted to find out how Blue’s curse was going to come to a close and I wanted to be happy with the ending. I got 3 out of 4.

Would I still recommend reading this series? Definitely! The ending wasn’t perfect but it was good and I was content with it, there were just a couple of plot holes, which I’m probably going to stick this under a read more because some of these are spoilers. So read ahead at your own peril if you haven’t read the novel yet!:

Continue reading

Qualify

Title: Qualify
Author: Vera Nazarian
Publisher: Norilana Books
Publication Year: 2014
Genre: YA | Dystopian | Romance
Rating: 3.5

There is only one acceptable answer for anyone human. Qualify.

So we’ve been in need of a good new Dystopian novel for a while now. Cecilia Ahern gave it a good go with Flawed and there have been a couple of other good ones such as Consider, which I am dying to read! But I actually found Qualify okay! Admittedly the writing wasn’t the greatest at times and there were some really predictable points in the plot but on a whole it was an alright book. I wasn’t over the moon about it but some of the parts really entertained me.

The idea of Atlanteans and their new planet was really interested and I think that Nazarian did a great job at developing her dystopian twist. The entire concept of Atlanteans amazed me and they were by far the best part of this story. Just their entire tech and the way that Nazarian built their world with Orichalcum was stellar! That magic metal just amazed me beyond anything else in the novel! It was so well thought up and the boards!  Especially when she intertwined music in to it all. This is exactly what I want in our future! Except that I might deafen a few people with my singing skills, or lack thereof…. The semi-finals were intense though and exactly what I had wanted when I went into the book (it just took the majority of the book and a seriously long drag of pages to get there). I thoroughly enjoyed the idea of all of the tasks but that brings me to my problem.

Unfortunately my biggest issue was with Gwen. My issue was with her oh-so-perfect predictable love interest and the way she spent so many paragraphs in the book drooling over him. Then there was the love triangle that was denied for the majority of the novel but the moment the person starts resenting her she becomes whiny and intolerable. Also I have nothing against smart characters. I adore smart characters. Give me a Sherlock Holmes any day. But with Gwen it irked me that she was so incredibly smart that she managed to solve all of the tasks, despite the fact that she doesn’t see herself as that smart really. In addition to that she also gets this super special, unique singing voice. I really prefer characters to be normal, not otherworldly and unbelievable. I just think it makes them less relatable that way.

I think that Gee Four was definitely a redeeming quality for me. There was also a lot of diversification in the book, which was great to read! I adore how people are becoming more aware in recent years. Blayne was also another character that I enjoyed reading about. At first he was a bit too quiet, but it’s understandable given his situation, and as the plot went on I really warmed to him and started cheering him on! If I were to read the second book, it would be for Blayne.

Overall I feel like there were too many parts that were touched upon then never returned to. The writing wasn’t the greatest, in my opinion, and I just couldn’t stand Logan. At all. However the world creation  was something I really enjoyed, which is why this book has scored so high.

 

Everyone Pays

Title: Everyone Pays
Author: Seth Harwood
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Mystery | Crime
Rating: 3.5

These men needed to be brought to Him. To judgement.

It was hard to decide what to rate this book as – I eventually went with a 3.5 but even now I’m not sure. The book wasn’t bad but I was raving about it either. Would I recommend it? Maybe, but it wouldn’t be at the top of the list.

As far as crime novels go, it held it’s own. There was at least one point in the book where I didn’t want to put it down, though that didn’t last all the way through the book. However, to have a reader feeling like that at some point during the novel is an accomplishment in any book (no pun intended).

Regarding the characters I don’t think I connected with any of them at all! I felt like some of them were a little too one dimensional. Perhaps if there were a little bit more backstory for some of the characters, then I might have been able to connect with them more. I think there was potential to turn the book into a series and then that way there would be more of a chance to get to know the main characters. I did find the killer very intriguing as there was a small twist when it came to finding out who he was. Because the killer was different to most killers I found that the section of the book written in their point of view was really interesting.

The story/motive behind the murders was interesting in itself, let alone the actual murders and solving the murders. The book was quite graphic when it came to describing the murders, I personally didn’t mind it but if you don’t like blood and gore I’d definitely recommend you skim that part!

Overall there were bits of the book I did enjoy, so I’m glad I read it. There’s potential there to be a great book but I do think there were things about the book that did drag it down (if that makes sense).

I’d like to thank Thomas & Mercer and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book to review. This has not affected my review in any way.

Cappuccinos, Cupcakes, and a Corpse

Title: Cappuccinos, Cupcakes, and a Corpse (Cape Bay Cafe Mystery #1)
Author: Harper Lin
Publisher: Harper Lin Books
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Mystery | Romance
Rating: 3.5

It reminded me that no matter how bad any given day was, there was always another day coming, and life went on.

Cozy mysteries are the perfect thing for hot summer days (because it’s officially summer in the UK! Yes!) when all you want to do is laze around in the garden and read a good book. They are fun and filled with fluff but also offer a bit of excitement as well to spice things up! The perfect mix, if you ask me and this one didn’t disappoint.

Cappuccinos, Cupcakes, and a Corpse provided a pretty good kick-start to the Cape Bay Cafe Mystery series with a fine introduction to Francesca, our protagonist and the quaint little town that she calls home. I liked how Lin started slow to build up a bit of an introduction to the town before she jumped into the actual plot and the mystery was very interesting for a first story! It did a good job of connecting the main characters to one and another, rather than forcing them into an awkward meeting as is usually the case.

I also loved found it so amusing to see  Francesca attempt to be a detective, attempt being the detective. Attempt is, of course, the key word because her skills weren’t as up to scratch as those of the police force actually investigating the case! However I did like the motive given to our killer and I certainly hadn’t guessed it by the end of the novel!

Personally I adored the recipes that were given at the end of the novel. Those were a nice touch and definitely made it stand out to me! I can’t wait to try and whip some of those up in the kitchen!

 

The Time Machine

Title: The Time Machine
Author: H. G. Wells
Publisher: Rock Paper Company
Publication Year: 2014
Genre: Classics | Science Fiction |
Rating: 3.5

“In a moment my hand was on the lever, and I had placed a month between myself and these monsters.”

Although I’ve delved into classics before, I’ve not particularly found any that spoke to me. Tess of the D’urbervilles was interesting and Sherlock was a fun read, but the Time Machine was something else entirely. I’ve always adored science fiction and it may just be by favourite genre and reading the Time Machine just showed me a whole other side to the science fiction novels that I’ve been feeding on to date.

Although it started slow at first, after about 50 pages the story quickly developed into something that I could not stop reading. It actually reminded slightly of Gulliver’s Travels with its talk of strange creatures in a far off time. And what strange creatures they were! The Eloi are described as being as pretty as their name would suggest with delicate features and an every-happy nature. But the Morlock’s were so much more interesting. At first I was intrigued by their description and then I became horrified as night fell and their true nature was revealed.

It might just be a short novella, but I really enjoyed reading the Time Machine. Even if the ending was a bit dead! The writing was beautiful (but it did contain a lot of vocab that I had to look up, which ruined it a little for me as I was constantly starting and stopping) and it became so riveting when it came to the later parts of the story. And, what Wells lacked in character description he made up for in world description. It’s true we never have a name for the main character other than the Time Traveller, although that just builds the mystery in my opinion, and we know very little about his friends but we know so much about the world he travels to. We know about the underworld and the river and the huge sphinx. We know of the castle in the woods and the long days and dark nights. I truly adored the writing and I think that the lack of character building just forces the reader to discover more about the setting instead.

This was definitely one of the more fun classics that I’ve read and I’m tempted to look more into H.G. Wells other work as well because I’ve heard good things and I enjoy his writing style.