Monday, 9 November 2015

Book Review | The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

The Passenger The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

"In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it...

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?"

This is such a hard book to judge. I've come out of it just thinking about it. I imagine this novel is one that's going to stay with me and be on my mind for a while, but I can't put my finger on why or what it is about it. On one half, I really enjoyed this novel. It didn't excite me or thrill me, but I did enjoy it. On the other, I just didn't find myself engaging with this novel and I don't know why.

It's nothing to do with the writing. The book is written well and Lutz has a great grasp on writing efficiently. I wouldn't say it was lyrical or beautiful writing, but every sentence portrayed something that was necessary and there was no sense of filler topics. There were no grammatical or spelling errors that I could see to put me off reading. The scenes were described well and there's a beautiful moment describing the colours of autumn which were wonderfully described. Places and situations are always explained and described perfectly. So it definitely wasn't the writing.

Characters were developed wonderfully. The main character, whose real name I won't mention as I don't want any part of spoiling the story, is described well and you really do feel for her as you can see her slowly start to give everything up. You feel her as her resolve weakens and she becomes more empty inside. Side characters, such as Blue, were likeable and mysterious and you never really know where you stood with them so that was interesting. I felt for Blue deeply. There were one or two characters that weren't developed as well as I'd have liked them to be, for example a child called Andrew, but as he was a side character and not a main I could mostly overlook that.

Plot wise, I'd say this was a sort of plateau book. It moves along on a plateau like ____________ and then suddenly BOOM THINGS HAPPEN! _____________------------_________ And so it moves like this throughout the book, with things levelling and remaining calm and then SUDDENLY SOMETHING BIG HAPPENS. Then it calms down etc. I'd say this was a book more about a personal journey than a major plot line, and that's okay. I did enjoy the plot and really did want to find out what happened next. I wanted to see how the journey ended.

So... Why three stars? Why could I not GET INTO this book? Why did it just fall flat for me, when all of the elements were there?... I honestly don't know. Something was just stopping me getting fully engaged, and I'm not sure if this was because of my mood while reading or the book itself or what. But I'd still recommend this book very highly and say it is a VERY strong novel.

3/5 stars, but very strong indeed.

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Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Book Review | Tales from the Graveyard by Susan Shultz

Tales from the Graveyard: The Complete Collection Tales from the Graveyard: The Complete Collection by Susan Shultz
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Thank you to both NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

"In a pleasant little New England town, there is a house on a hill. Its garden is decorated with gravestones.

The house has stood for ages now, and occupants have come and gone.

But those who died there never leave.

They just watch…and wait.

Susan Shultz's haunting Tales From the Graveyard series is now available in one complete digital collection.

The Blacksmith.

Jessie.

Dirt.

Sam.

Read Tales From the Graveyard: The Complete Collection today, and you'll see.

Our ghosts never leave us."

Holy crap was this book bad. It's supposed to be a short story collection of interlinked horror books. There is absolutely NOTHING horrific about them. Most of them are laughable or infuriating because there are characters you want to slap the shit out of. There is so. much. instalove. in these short stories. "Ooo a mysterious figure, I love him, he must mate with me". That's essentially every single story in this collection.

It was written with SO many simple sentences, it made me want to rip my hair out. Everything was written like this. It was really not dramatic. Despite it trying to be. It was just irritating. You see how it's so short and choppy? This is the only horrific part of the book! The dreadful writing just put me off even more. There is no character development, no depth to the writing, very poor scenery and world building. I just hated this writing style so very much.

Character wise, most were batshit crazy or just irritating as BLEEEEEEEEP. There was little to no development, and there is absolutely NO description into their mind set. Why does the first woman, Ainsley, want to eat hearts? I'm assuming the Blacksmith is telling her to, but we don't know why he is telling her to, and it's never explicitly stated that he is making her. It just says he smiles when she does. So what is that about? The rest of the characters are left pretty much one dimensional and dull. I didn't care what happened to them at all.

Plot... There was very little of it. It is all centred around one house, very similar to Slade House by David Mitchell, but not written as well and certainly not as interesting or thrilling. The rest of the plot is pretty much just "sitting around, woops I died for Blacksmith". Like that's all that happens. It's so uninteresting. I nearly gave up with it, but I hate leaving NetGalley books unfinished, so I pushed through. The ending did absolutely nothing for the rest of it, either.

I rated this a 1/5 stars. Hated it and everything about it. Blah.

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Book Review | The Travel Writer by Jeff Soloway

The Travel Writer: A Mystery The Travel Writer: A Mystery by Jeff Soloway
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.

"At a posh South American resort tucked into the lush jungles of the Andes, an American journalist has gone missing, leaving the hotel’s PR agent, Pilar Rojas, with an international incident on her hands. Which is why she offers her ex-lover, travel writer Jacob Smalls, an all-expenses-paid trip to the resort in exchange for a puff piece extolling its virtues—and some behind-the-scenes digging into the disappearance. Intrigued by the prospect of winning Pilar back—and eager, as always, for freebies—Jacob hops the first flight to La Paz, Bolivia.

Although he hasn’t seen Pilar in years, Jacob finds her just as intoxicating as he did when they were together. But from the moment he hits the city’s cobbled streets, Jacob attracts all the wrong kinds of attention. Political flunkies and goons of all stripes try to scare him off the trail, while the missing woman’s not-quite boyfriend insists on shadowing Jacob’s every move. And amid ancient Incan hillside terraces, a world-class hotel conceals a secret that may kill."

This book was so bland and dull. I really did try to enjoy it because the premise was interesting and I hate rating books from NetGalley low like this, but really this was mediocre at best. Jacob himself is a constant dreamer, but it was bordering on the laughably ridiculous. I knew what was going to happen as soon as the criminal person appeared, and I knew exactly what had happened to Hilary as well. It was literally going through pages and pages of bland writing with an over-abundance of laughable daydreams in order to find out what I already knew...

The writing in this, to start with, was very very formulaic and almost written like an essay. It felt like I was reading someone's dissertation. There was no rich descriptive language, everything was very black and white. I guess the best way to describe the writing was "flat". However, the scenery was described well and I grew to really like the country it was based in. Despite feeling the suffocation as Soloway kept honing in on the lack of oxygen on the mountain. If you can overlook this, though, then it's at least written well grammatically speaking.

The characters were also 2 dimensional. One was downright ridiculous and one was the stereotypical stoic loner. Then we have the baddies who are so obvious it hurts to read, and some of the big "mob" bosses who are literally taken from "How to Stereotype, 101". I didn't care what happened to any of them so really couldn't see the point in reaching the obvious end. I persevered, however, because I wanted to rate it properly on NetGalley.

Plot wise, very very slow paced and so transparent that I guessed what had happened within the first 50 pages. So. Predictable and slow with very little happening in between that.

Overall I really didn't enjoy this book, but I gave it 3 stars because it was at least readable, even if only mediocre. 3/5 stars.

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Book Review | Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

03/11/2015 Preview Excerpt
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a preview excerpt of this book in exchange for an honest review.

"On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch."

I received a preview excerpt of this and OH MY GOSH I LOVED IT. I wish it didn't end like that, and I have preordered the physical copy of the book so that I can finish it from where I left off.

It's written well, although there are a few spelling and grammatical errors here and there, but I put that down to being an unfinished ARC copy that will be further edited as time goes on and it gets nearer to the publishing date, which isn't until January 2016. Besides that, though, it's written very well. I'd have liked to have seen more explanation in regards to threads. Dennard sort of launches into being a Threadwitch and all the things she could see and I could sort of work out on my own what they were, but it required a lot more explanation on what threads are and whatnot.

Character wise, they were pretty good. I much preferred Safiya to Iseult and felt she was a much more developed character with a lot more description into her history and her past. Iseult has all of these thoughts and emotions, and we have no idea why she needs to go into "stasis" and stop herself feeling emotion. WHY DOES SHE DO THAT?! It needs a lot more description. But Safiya was developed quite well.

Plot wise this is interesting. I can't say too much about it because obviously it's just an excerpt I have, so a lot of the plot is missing. What I read, however, was good and quite interesting and exciting. I found it full of suspense, and can't wait to continue the series on.

I'll update the rest of this review when I receive the full copy in January, but for now I give this a 4/5 stars, just because I'd like A LOT more explanation into some aspects of the world. It's a bit lacking in that department.

So yes, for now, 4/5

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Monday, 2 November 2015

Charity/Thrift Shop Haul!

Hey my lovelies! So today I'm posting about a sort of mini-haul that I grabbed today. 50p each book or 3 books for £1, INCLUDING HARDBACKS! I was blown away. So I bought six books that I've had my eye on for a while. Six books for £2. Madness. Total madness. Unfortunately this charity shop was tiny with very little stock books-wise, otherwise I would have totally bought more. So this is my haul!


Top left: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Top centre: Room by Emma Donoghue
Top right: The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes
Bottom left: A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French
Bottom middle: The Quest by Wilbur Smith
Bottom right: Death on the Nile (Poirot) by Agatha Christie

Overall I'm super pleased with this haul! I have a good variety, and I've heard nothing but good things about Room and The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes in particular. Haven't heard a bad review about them yet! But I think I'm most excited about Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I recently read Slade House, a horror short story by him, and I absolutely loved both his writing style and the plot, so when I saw it there for 50p I just had to grab it!

So what do you guys think? Do you have any second hand stores you like to visit for books? Lemme know in the comments! ^_^

Friday, 30 October 2015

Book Review | Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

"On the day of the Dunne's five year wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne goes missing. All that's left behind is a dishevelled living room, a cat, and a diary. It is through this diary that we see the inner workings of the Dunne's marriage, and Amy's struggles as a naive housewife out of her comfort zone. The format of this book is different - one chapter is a diary entry by Amy set in the past, and the next chapter is Nick Dunne's views and struggles in the present. Then it all changes."

The premise of this book is wonderful. I love all things dark and twisted, and this book seemed right up my alley. The problem is the first 2/3 of the book. Never in my life have I read something so taxing. The first part is slow, with nothing happening and written in a way that made it such hard work to read. I felt more exhausted after reading the first part than I did when I worked a full 10 hour shift at work! It is very slow, the language doesn't flow well and it took so long to read a chapter that I had to put it down after each one. It took me 6 months to read this book, and I'm a fast reader. I read so many books while reading this one because I couldn't bear to read it!

The ending of this book was predictable and unbelievable, with solutions to the various plot twists that I just didn't care about. Every single one of the characters is unlikeable and I found myself not caring about what happened to a single one of them. The character development was poor, and Gillian Flynn is very much a "tell you instead of show you" author, which really ruins the world building aspect also. The ending seemed hurried and was so hilariously bad (almost like a hilarious stage show) that it completely got rid of the "thriller" aspect for me. At least the ending went quicker than the first 2/3 of this book!

Overall, I'm glad I read this. I can't say I'd ever want to read it again, but I'm glad I read it. I can put it down and say I never have to pick it up again.

1/5 stars, although I'd gladly give it 0 if I could.

Book Review | Timebound by Rysa Walker

Thank you so much to both NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
"When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.

Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and Kate’s genetic ability to time-travel makes her the only one who can stop him. Risking everything, she travels to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the killing and the chain of events that follows.

Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost, however—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does she have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?"

This book was absolutely fabulous. It really was. Not only was it written well, I was really impressed with the continuity throughout this book. A lot of the time with time travel, I find that the author struggles to keep various continuities going, whether it be with tone or methods or, in some cases, they've completely and utterly given out different chains of events happening along a singular timeline. This book did absolutely none of that. Walker held her own voice solidly throughout, and everything was so neat and tidy with both the plot and the prose that I really commend her. She also has a really unique idea and method of time travel and that's something I really enjoy seeing, even if it took me a little while to get my head around some of the concepts and explanations behind said time travel.

This is such a well written novel. There really is nothing else to say about that. It ranges from the mid to fast pace sort of writing; I found I got through it maybe in two/three days and that's without a day of reading in the middle. Scenery was described beautifully and there was attention to detail even in sensations, such as feeling hot or cold, water being chilly etc, which I really appreciated. Of course this is done in every good novel, but I've read a few books lately that seem to leave this sort of thing out completely, so I was deeply impressed to see it here. A lot of time went into the explanation of the method of time travel and it was generally written in a clear and concise way. I only really struggled once or twice. So definite props for the writing.

Characters were developed well, as were the relationships within the book. With so much of the book being taken up with the plot and the actual description of the time travel itself, it was nice to see some detail still being paid to the relationships between some of the characters, and the development within the characters themselves as the novel progresses. Kate herself grows into a much richer character, and her relationship with her grandmother was deeply touching as they grow closer together. There's the first hint at a little love triangle, too. These characters are written so well that I already have my favourite male in this little triangle. And he shall prevail, or else... It's rare that I develop such deep feelings over love triangles so quickly, so I think this is a clear indicator of characters written superbly.

The plot in this one was good. I wouldn't say it was mind blowing because for the majority of the novel they are setting up so much backstory and history and explanatory scenes regarding the actual time travel that they really didn't have time for much else. It did really well at demonstrating the past and setting up for the next two novels in the trilogy, though. So while this novel may be a little light on plot, it was still absolutely awesome to read, and what plot there was was absolutely fantastic. I couldn't put it down, honestly. I read this book in two sittings, in two exact halves actually haha. So yes. Light on plot, but what plot there was was absolutely brilliant.

Really this book is a real gem. In fact, I've already got the next two in the trilogy. And I cried when I finished it. Because I'm a big girl and cry when books end that I love, even if there are two more in the series that I actually own. Cough. So yes, a clear 5/5 stars from me. Bravo.

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