30 May 2013

Review: Scrap


Scrap
Scrap by Emory Sharplin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



This was a pretty original idea and I was pleasantly surprised throughout the whole book. Ok, so a few of the concepts have been done before more than a few times, but this story was a recipe for success.

This is not your usual rags-to-riches.

This story got off to an excellent start, although I was often confused as to what type of world this was - a lot of the time it felt like a medieval-type fantasy world, but then there'd be the mention of an elevator and I'd stare dumbly at the page trying to re-imagine the world. But this is a pretty fantastic world filled with magic and multi-coloured gypsies, an evil king and a poverty-ridden kingdom.

The characters are strong, and if they're a little predictable, then they're meant to be. Colt and Napier are boys after all, and Kally's a whore. Really, she's a whore. Tucker is a strong and feisty young woman, even if her name seems very out of place in this world where all of the other names are so elegant sounding. I liked how her past isn't ignored and instead is being brought into every part of the book.

This would have got a full five-stars from me if it wasn't for the talking. Oh god, the talking. Back-and-forth and round-and-round with all this banter and it's so irrelevant at times and distracting from the story. SO MUCH TALKING. I just wanted them to shut up and get on with it.

I have to say I was a little disappointed with the ending - yet at the same time I'm quite happy with it. I thought this was a standalone book, but with an ending like that with so much more still to happen, this is surely part of a series. About 30 pages before the ending excitement was building in me - all I could think was how AWESOME AND ACTION PACKED this ending would have to be. There is action and it is awesome (and scary!) but it's not the holiday I thought I'd packed for. Oh well, this just means I have to keep an eye on Emory Sharplin and see if there is a follow-up (or two?) to Scrap.

A copy of this was provided by Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.



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29 May 2013

Review: Gotta Go To Come Back


Gotta Go To Come Back
Gotta Go To Come Back by Anne Kemp

My rating: 2 of 5 stars



Well... That was, uh... Hmm...

It felt like I was reading part of a book, a couple of chapters, the kind of thing you'd expect from an excerpt or a freebie. Except this isn't, this is the *third* book in the Abbey George series. And if this third book is anything to go by, perhaps all three books could have been shoved into one and made a longer, more pleasant and less disjointed read.

The characters were shallow and lifeless and I had no clue what they looked like, not one, for the WHOLE book. I know I haven't read the previous two books, but a good series is marked by how well you can pick up any book and fall into the story. And this you cannot. The story itself is disjointed and jumpy, and I found myself confused at the beginning of each chapter (of which there were few). Perhaps this was because of the extremely short length of this story - it wasn't long enough to get a feel of Anne Kemp's writing style.

And then there's Abby, the main character - she has a very short will-I-won't-I internal battle and then TAH-DAH the story's over and she doesn't even consider the other offer so this whole book could have been avoided.

It gets two stars because it was pleasant enough for a "nothing" book - nothing happened, nothing drew me in, nothing got me hooked, but it's not the worst writing I've ever read.

Thanks to Net Galley for this!



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28 May 2013

Review: Peregrine Harker & The Black Death


Peregrine Harker & The Black Death
Peregrine Harker & The Black Death by Luke Hollands

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Not quite four stars, but at the same time 3 would be a little harsh.

If you read this then I'd advise you to completely disregard the first chapter. That's right, don't even bother reading it. It has pretty much zilch to do with the book and lowers the WHOLE tone - it's childish and unnecessary and I wish I hadn't read it.

At times this book feels childish, too childish even for it's young protagonist. It is fantastical almost to a fault. Perhaps it's too boyish for me... If anything it's a boy-book.

But the start of this book seemed to promise tea, and I love tea. Some of my favourite quotes in this book were the tea ones, lamenting the growing price of tea and wondering how the subjects of the United Kingdom would ever get by with dwindling imports.

This book is action packed and full of twists and turns and even a few surprised and mystery. And the ending leaves it open for more, which I would read despite my annoyances and some parts.

Thank you to NetGalley for a review copy.



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27 May 2013

Review: Living On a Prayer


Living On a Prayer
Living On a Prayer by Sheila Quigley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



The best thing about these books is that you do not need to read them in order. They are good as stand alone books.

But if you read them as a series, in order, you will experience something different. Sheila Quigley doesn't forget the characters of her previous books, and even minor ones make an appearance in this one.

This book has EVERYTHING. A dangerous cult, poisonous relationships, murder, drug smuggling, illegal importation, growing romance, mystery, crime, thriller... But it's NOT too much. It's perfect.

I strangely cared for some of the criminals - it was the locals doing the booze/cigarette run. Their hearts were (mostly) in the right place even if I did think it unnecessary to have to illegally sell cigarettes and alcohol to get by - surely just giving up smoking and drinking themselves would help? I was glad with the way that whole situation turned out though, Jacko has a heart of gold in this book too.

I loved the colloquialisms, but I think some people might struggle with them, especially if they don't know the accent and pronunciations.



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24 May 2013

Review: Crossing the Line


Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line by Katie McGarry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



I haven't read the first in this series, but I don't think I've missed out on much with this one. This is a fantastic novella in its own right and can easily be read independently.

I started to care about the characters within the first few paragraphs and really felt for them. That gave this short story quite a punch and made it stand out.

I loved how everything wasn't hunky dory straight away, it made it more real. Real life isn't perfect. I loved how there was conflict, rage, love, revenge... A bit of everything.



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23 May 2013

Review: The Kissing Booth


The Kissing Booth
The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



This is more of a 3.5 than a 4.

This book was pretty sweet.

I'd recommend this book to younger teens. It's the kind of story I would have lapped up when I was thirteen and fourteen, very fluffy and girly.

I certainly got exasperated at points. I couldn't understand why she (or anyone!) wanted to be with Noah: he was definitely a bully. Threatening and physically hurting other guys just for talking to her? I beg your pardon? He controlled her love life and she never even knew, then when she did find she seemed not to care.

Read this book for nostalgic feelings of being a teeny-bopper who thinks being 16-18 is the best thing ever. Nevertheless, I look forward to reading what Beth Reekles' comes up with in the future.

The kind of story I would have LOVED when I was a young teen.

Thank you to Random House and Net Galley for a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.



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22 May 2013

Review: Knight's Mistress


Knight's Mistress
Knight's Mistress by C.C. Gibbs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



First of all - thank you for the signed copy! Won via Goodreads First Reads. This has in no way altered my judgement of this book and my review is honest.

I thought Knight's Mistress was going to be just another 50-Shades-esque book. The beginning was deja-vu - intimidating-billionaire-interview, instant-attraction and inner monologues. But it's not. This book is different. This book is real.

Knight's Mistress is set over a few short days, but just like falling in love those few short days seem to last forever. And that makes this book, no matter how unrealistic the circumstances, completely believeable.

Katherine is a strong character, a no-nonsense young woman who knows what she wants and will get it. She's strong, with her own opinions, and she's SMART. She's very smart.

Dominic is your typical more-money-than-sense but he still cares. He was never going to force Katherine into anything she didn't want.

Both characters are devastatingly manipulative with each other, but they both know it and it's like a game. The balance between the characters is excellent. It focuses mostly on Kate, but when Dominic gets his narrative voice it sets them on equal footing and strengthens them as characters.

I didn't like the constants "Ummmm". Ummmm to me is an indecisive noise, the sound you make when you're not sure what to say. I'd have rathered some Hmmm and Mmmm and Ahhh to break it up a little, and it did distract from my reading.

And Katherine must be EXHAUSTED. Every single muscle in her body tensing and untensing in such quick succession, over and over? It's dangerous to be that sensitive!

And there were some scary moments. Like when he suggested her stopping her pill and taking a Russian Roulette style gamble as to whether she'd get pregnant.

The ending was not what I expected, but I was glad for the twist. Although not a major cliffhanger, I'd happily read on in this series, if only to see if things will get better. They have to, right?

I think I'll go drink some chocolate milk now. Or some coffee. I'm not a fan of either, but this book has put the notion in my head.



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17 May 2013

Review: The Hit


The Hit
The Hit by Melvin Burgess

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



I wanted so badly to be able to give this book 5 stars. And not only because it was my birthday book. And it has my surname in. Even if it's the bad guys. My name isn't exactly common and doesn't pop up in print often.

[a:Melvin Burgess|56977|Melvin Burgess|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1206545905p2/56977.jpg] is one of my firm favourite authors and his books always shock, filled with controversy. But this book didn't quite live up to my expectations, and perhaps it's my own expectations which have disappointed me. I couldn't help but compare The Hit to [b:Junk|98973|Junk|Melvin Burgess|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1171430616s/98973.jpg|2756729], they're by the same author and focus on the same type of gritty world of drugs and crime and nastiness. Don't get me wrong, this book is awesome. It's really good, fast paced and shocking.

There was something about the overall finish of this edition (perhaps it's different for others) which felt sloppy and rushed. There were bits like this: "What are going to do" "She was aware that were really rather hidden" "there'd only ever had". I think that the fantastic fast pace of this book covered up more of these sloppy lapses of sense, but when they popped up they seriously distracted me. I found myself reading the same paragraph over and again in-case I had misread and the dodgy sentences would make sense, but no :( Maybe it's because it used to be my job working in pre-press to check for errors that I spotted them and you'll have better luck.

That aside, this book has some delicious imagery. He was wearing a suit so sharp you could have tied his lapels to your shoes and skated on them. This is the magic on which this book is really built.

There are surprises and twists and turns.

This book is brutal and violent. What else could it be? From suicidal EVERYONES to fanatical Zealots to gangsters, add a bit of rich versus poor and you have an explosion waiting to happen. This book is terrifyingly plausible, this world could very well be our future. What if this is real?

I have to say, I didn't like Adam much. He was so selfish. A total dickhead. And that's being nice. I was glad when his world started falling down around him because he deserved it, and he needed that disappointment. I liked Lizzie though. Yeah, she was spoiled, and Adam pushed her into one hell of a corner, but she had her head screwed on right. I felt to awful for her at points in the book, and I was always rooting for her. I want to know what'll happen to her now - she's still got so much to experience.

I didn't like that the victims in all of this, those innocent of crime who hadn't taken Death, were seemingly ignored. Even Lizzie expresses her fear of being attacked by Deathers, gang raped, murdered. But that all seems to have been forgotten at the end. Viva la revolution and all that.

I wouldn't take death. I know how it feels to live bang on the breadline and even below, but I value my life too much. I value my friends and family. What about you?



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16 May 2013

Review: The Madness Underneath


The Madness Underneath
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



I just have to get this out of my system... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

After the first book, I wasn't expecting much from this book. It would have been wrong for this one to be as twisted and creepy as the first, it would have been too much. But it stays in the same unique universe.

But I wasn't expecting that. Or that. Or that.

Although at times The Madness Underneath feels like a filler, a space between the first and third books when nothing too much *can* happen, it is great in its own right. I don't think you could easily read this book without having read the first.

I wish that Rory could have perhaps gone back to Alistair and explained her reactions. It's like he was mentioned once and forgotten about and now it seems very unlikely that he'll ever be mentioned again.

I liked that Rory's life was falling apart. It should have been falling apart after what happened to her. I didn't like that the school didn't really make any concessions for her BEING STABBED AND ALMOST FREAKING KILLED! Surely her exams could have been postponed until the very end of term? Exams are usually at the very end of term anyway.

In my head I pictured creepier scenes. I pictured a ghostly face peering from the crack in the basement wall, and instead it was a slightly less creepy he's-behind-you.

I can't wait for the next one though, I *need* to know what comes after that ending! Shades of London might not be the best series out there, but I am hooked. Please have more than 3 books, Maureen Johnson, I could read of this creepy, unique world forever.



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15 May 2013

Review: The Other Typist


The Other Typist
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



I don't know how I can properly review this book. My head is still reeling from that ending.

All through the book you think one thing, then near the end another and then the last page, the last words, just completely smash your theory to smithereens.

This book is a delicious mix of 1920s crime, punishment and mystery. Just who are Rose and Odalie, really? I still don't know. Which one is Ginevra?

I am a sucker for a poisonous relationship in a book and all that it can bring, and this one is TOXIC. Odalie is mesmerising to everyone, even the reader who should be able to see through her. She is like an enchantress, weaving the actions and words of everyone and everything to her benefit.

I loved the lavish lifestyle of Rose and Odalie as described in this book. It makes me want to bob my long hair and loose a lot of weight so I can pull of the gorgeous outfits, and move into a sumptuous suite in a hotel.

I think you'll appreciate this book about prohibition New York best with a gin and tonic or a champagne cocktail. I know it made me want one!

I received this as a Goodreads First Read. Thank you very much Penguin for this wonderful read.



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13 May 2013

Review: French Kiss


French Kiss
French Kiss by Sarra Manning

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



This book is a little guilty pleasure for me. A fantastic start to the Diary of a Crush series.

Although it's been years since I first read of Edie and Dylan (almost a decade!) I still think back to this book - well, this series - and wonder about the characters and re-imagine the situations.

It's a slightly fluffy story, very teenagery and fun. And frustrating. If there is anything frustrating in this book then it's Edie and Dylan for the majority of this book. He treats her like crap and she lets him, so long as he kisses her again. But it's not as poisonous as it sounds, it actually works. They're both growing up and getting a grip on who they want to love.

Who is your art-boy Dylan? Pictures please!

I have to go and find my own boy now. I need a kiss.



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06 May 2013

Review: In Search of a Love Story


This is about as girly as chick-lit gets.

It's frustrating enough to have you sighing out loud about Emily and her troubles, but not so frustrating that you want to throw the book across the room. You just want to carry on reading so you know that she's going to get away from a certain guy, who is NOT Mr Right, and finally fall in to the arms of the perfect man for her. How could she be so blind?!

The beginning of this book is Emily moping around after finding out that her Mr Right Now is not a good guy. He's a dick. But Rachel Schurig doesn't let Emily mope for long. By the end of chapter three we see the end of ice-cream and pizza and alcohol and Emily mans up and gets back out there.

Is predictability bad in a chick-lit? I found is reassuring. I kinda knew where the story was going - and was pleasantly surprised at times. This is a perfect summer read and just the type of book I'd like to start my birthday with, especially with such an up-beat, happy, and perfect ending.

01 May 2013

Review: Natural Causes

Natural Causes by James Oswald

★★★★★


You can't talk about this book in any way without first mentioning the opening chapter. My toes curled, my hands were in fists, and my throat hurt. I had to suppress the urge to throw up. The first chapter of this book is powerful - the imagery is horrifying and stops just short of being too much. It is terrifying that it could even be conceivable, grotesque that it could possibly happen. But it works. This chapter serves its purpose and serves it well. If you ever forget it then you're lucky - and you will not forget it before you finish the book.

All I wanted to know for much of this book was who that poor young woman was, the girl who suffered such a fate and who did it. That you are reminded of this first, terrible act throughout the book only makes the reader more keen to finish this riveting read and solve the mystery with McLean.

The tone is not all horrifying gore. The characters bring a well needed injection of humour and mystery and a sense of realness. The reader is slowly fed information about McLean, his past does not overshadow the story at all.

This is a well rounded crime novel, with just enough of everything to make it perfect. James Oswald surely knew that to write about a Detective Inspector in Edinburgh would invite comparisons to Ian Rankin's Rebus and seemingly makes a nod to this near the very end, with a Police Constable reading one of Rankin's books.

I wasn't sure about the slight fantasy element, but it worked well with the story and resolved itself by the end. I've never read such a real crime story so well-woven with a hint of fantasy, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I am eager to read the next book. Very eager.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.