30 September 2013

Review: Never Coming Back


Never Coming Back
Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Wow.

Even the cover of this book is moody and atmospheric. In fact, it really sets the tone for this dark thriller.

This is a series that I'd say you kind of have to read in order. I've read the first David Raker and then jumped to the fourth and I've definitely missed out on a killer story in between. And since the bookshop just doesn't seem to stock the second and third books I've gone and ordered them.

That being said, you can read these books out of order - the important details of previous events are recounted so that you understand what's happened and how the various characters are affected and how it changes them.

This book is vicious and dark and pretty scary, but also pretty heart warming. When the main character is trying to find all of these missing people, it's difficult for a book not to pull on your heart strings. But this one? Oooh my. I actually almost cried at the end. It was such a shock, almost overwhelming.

I love love LOVE this series. It's so dark and gritty and violent and shocking and even though that's usually not my cup of tea I just have to read on. Time Weaver's writing is addictive.



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29 September 2013

Review: Faeries, Elves and Goblins: The Old Stories


Faeries, Elves and Goblins: The Old Stories
Faeries, Elves and Goblins: The Old Stories by Rosalind Kerven

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



A fantastic collection of fairy stories and the second of Rosalind Kerven's books I've read this year - and I'm definitely going to read any further publications.

Fairy tales aren't just for kids - as an adult I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It took me right back to my childhood. These old stories are timeless, and wonderfully told in Faeries, Elves and Goblins. As an adult, the background to some of the stories was extremely interesting. I love reading anything that increases my general knowledge.

But Faeries are not only for children's eyes: they are more often spied by sensible matrons and reputable middle aged men.

This book has gorgeous illustrations throughout, I always paused to look them over. Even the chapter pages had me staring for a while!

The tales are from everywhere. I loved that there was something to make me stop and think "I know this one!"

Go out and buy this book. I had an e-copy via Net Galley for review, but I picked up a copy during a visit to a National Trust property and the quality is great. Definitely get the hard-copy, a screen doesn't do this beautiful book justice.



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23 September 2013

Review: Popping the Cherry


Popping the Cherry
Popping the Cherry by Aurelia B. Rowl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was a great read.

It's one of those books I'll turn to when I need cheering up but want something with a little substance - a happily-ever-after that isn't plain sailing.

Popping the Cherry is fun and flirty but also has serious moments. And it has a message which I wholeheartedly agree with - it doesn't matter what everyone around you is doing, be yourself or you'll get hurt.

The characters are pretty much your typical young adults - in college, wanting to grow up so fast but still not quite ready to be an adult yet. I love that awkward stage. I liked Lena, but her best friend Gemma turned into a bit of a bitch.

The plot wasn't unexpected, in fact I pretty much knew what was going to happen. But when I pick up a book like this that's what I want.

I have to admit, the "I'm not strong enough to control myself around you" bit angered the feminist part of me, it's a pretty bullshit excuse from any guy.

For me, this book sits between YA and NA. I was reminded of Sarra Manning who is pretty much my go-to for writing like this.


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21 September 2013

Review: A Study in Silks


A Study in Silks
A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



From the very start I was hooked. This is steampunk world building at it's best. The writing is great, the characters are great and the sense of mystery is entrancing.

A superb, complex and believable Steampunk world comes to life on these pages. The technologies are inspiring, the world a dark, dark place, especially if you fall foul of the steam barons. The author has taken inspiration from Sherlock Holmes and really made it work, weaving it wonderfully into this story - the result is quite splendid.

The characters have depth, with flaws all round, and they grow and change so much throughout this book. It was slightly infuriating knowing more than each of the characters at times but the narrative really works for this story.

The ending was not what I expected, which is actually excellent. It kept me thinking, wondering... And what a twist! It left me quite sad and surprisingly bereft. Is it any wonder I picked up the second book straight away?

A splendid steampunk tale infused with magic and darkness.



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09 September 2013

Review: The Emerald Atlas


The Emerald Atlas
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



WOW.

This was as magical as Harry Potter and as epic as Narnia. The Emerald Atlas was simply a delight to read.

This is a fantastic children's fantasy. The characters are engaging and each has their own personality, making it easy to relate to at least one. And they have flaws. They have real believable flaws.

The world is simply enchanting. It is built so well that I could imagine it all so well - at points I wondered to myself if there had been a dramatisation of this made because it really came to life. There are your common fantasy races like dwarves and witches, but then there are some brand new - and quite terrifying! - additions.

The plot is fantastic - there are aspects of mystery that don't end as you think they will. It twists and turns and helps to weave this marvellous story. And that ending. Just when you think everything has calmed down, that everything is going to be OK now... Well, I don't want to spoil it for you.

When I finished this I was left with that slightly empty yet expectant feeling that I have very rarely felt. This is a really powerful start to the series.

I can't wait to read on.



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06 September 2013

Review: Blackmoore: A Proper Romance


Blackmoore: A Proper Romance
Blackmoore: A Proper Romance by Julianne Donaldson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



I'm not sure I really felt anything for this book...

I didn't connect with the main character and quite disliked her for the majority of the book; Kate is quite a silly, selfish little girl. She annoyed me the most in that she was both selfless and selfish all at once. But perhaps it's no wonder she's a brat, having a slaggy and conspiring mother and a slaggy and disgraced sister.

Although that is one of the strengths of this book - it is slowly revealed why Kate is as she is, and she does grow as a character.

The setting made me feel even colder than this awful weather should have, so I supposed the descriptions must have been immersing enough. Only I can't remember any of them.

The end was a little too happily-ever-after for me. I much prefer more uncertain futures for the lives of characters.

Overall this was a moderately pleasant read, fun and romantic.



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04 September 2013

Review: The Operator


The Operator
The Operator by Valerie Laws

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



More of Valerie Laws' poetic, lyrical, witty writing. This woman is the queen of beautiful writing.

The late autumn sun cut through the atmosphere almost horizontally, rather than down onto the trees, picking out the rose hips in the hedges so they gleamed like beads of blood, and making the leaves glow like stained glass.

I really love Erica, I have a mega girl-crush on her. She is a captivating character. She's intelligent and strong and passionate and more than a little messed up. She makes me want to run as fast and as far as I can for as long as I can.

I imagine Stacey looking pretty much like Denise from Hebburn. She's blowsy and brave and knows what (and who) she wants. She's surprisingly strong, and once you understand her she is far far deeper than you'd ever realise. She's hilarious in her mannerisms and beliefs, and up-front about everything.

Sally is a bit of a bitch, aloof and always looking down her nose. But she just wants to get ahead in a world dominated by men. Of course she'd be bitter.

What I love the most is that these three unlikely allies all have one thing in common: they are feminists. I freaking love that feminism is not shied away from in this. Feminism is not a dirty word and it's so natural they way it's presented that you don't even notice it unless it's something already on your mind.

Maybe they were afraid she'd menstruate on their furniture.

The story twists and turns, slowly building up to a pretty epic, thrilling finale. I couldn't stop reading, couldn't stop thinking about it when I couldn't pick it up and read more. It's shocking and disturbing and haunting. This story is crazy good.

The Operator makes me long for Autumn and Winter, for long nights and short days, clouds and rain and frost.

Christmas was thundering closer like a herd of rabid reindeer.

And oh yes, I'l longing for Christmas too!



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03 September 2013

Review: Icons


Icons
Icons by Margaret Stohl

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



I wasn't completely sold on the style with this one, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Aliens usually aren't my thing, but the alien presence in this book didn't put me off. This wasn't all in your face about the visitors from outer space. Yeah, they were there, they were mentioned a lot, but it was done really well in this book so it's NOT just a book about aliens invading earth. Which is good, because it kept me reading.

I think this is part of a series (the first) but I don't think I'll read on. For me the book ended pretty well, I was satisfied with the story as a whole. But then again, perhaps it's the thought of aliens that's putting me off, as it seems there might be more in the next book.

The relationships between the characters were good. They seemed pretty natural apart from the Ambassador; I didn't understand her motives at all.

I didn't like how some things were left unexplained, but it was only little things. Pretty much everything that mattered was set out for the reader.

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



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