Tag Archive | book review

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor Review

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family.

Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought. 

DOS&B

Daughter of Smoke and Bone was January’s book club book. It was my second choice, but when I really looked at it, I was quite gutted we’d chosen it. I didn’t really have an interest in reading it. It seemed very sci-fi/fantasy-y, and Young Adult, which I’d always say I’m not really into (yes, I know the last book I reviewed, and loved with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay). One Saturday I forced myself to start it.

And didn’t stop. I read all day. I stopped to make dinner. In the evening I started watching TV, but it didn’t hold my attention, as DOSAB was on my mind. I had to carry on until I fell asleep, then when I woke up, I couldn’t stop myself from reading until I finished it.

As you can tell, I loved it.

From the beginning the story really drew me in.

Kauou wants to be able to live a normal, human, life, without interruption from Brimstone. But he, along with his other ‘Chimaeras’ are the only family she’s ever known, so how can she give them up. She’s Brimstone’s courier, travelling the world (through the door from his shop which opens to many different countries and cities across the world), to collect his ‘gems’, but he asks too much of her, and she often has to leave Prague for hours, days, sometimes even weeks and isn’t able to tell her friends why.

However things start happening that may lead her to having to make a decision. How can she choice Brimstone and ‘her family’ though, when all she’s seen of ‘elsewhere’ is his shop – she’s only been allowed through the door to earth, not the other side.

On top of all this, she wants to know who she is, who her parents are, and how she came to live in Brimstone’s world.

The best thing about this book, is it’s the first of a trilogy. Two more books. How brilliant is that! I’m really looking forward to reading them. 

It seems I love YA Fantasy/Sci-fi series’ – which I should have realised  before, when I consider books from the Hunger Games’ and Delirum series’ were among some of my favourite books of the 2013 (and 2012 – I read one of each in each year!).

The book is mainly set in Prague, but travels other countries and continents, and of course to ‘elsewhere’ and beyond, so it fits perfectly into the Antartica/Other Setting category for the ‘Global Reading Challenge’ I’m doing this year. 1 down, 6 to go.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Review

WARNING: THE HUNGER GAMES and CATCHING FIRE spoilers.

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.

Mockingjay

You know you’ve read a good book, when 24 hours after finishing it, you’re still thinking about it (a lot), and debating with yourself if it was the right ending.

Katniss has to become the face of the revolution, something she’s not keen on, but does it with her own conditions agreed to. She’s stuck with the few survivors of District 12, in District 13, which up until the end of Catching Fire she (and we) didn’t know existed. District 13 are heading up the rebellion against the Capitol. She finds the adjustment to living there hard, even with best friend Gale by her side. Especially since her ‘’boyfriend,’’ fellow Hunger Games competitor Peeta has been kidnapped by the Capitol and through broadcasts, it’s obvious he’s being tortured.

The book follows the rebels on their journey to convince other Districts to join with them to over throw the Capitol, the wars and what is a very dramatic finale.

I was hooked on this from the minute I started it. Any spare moment I could find, I was reading it, and even took a lunch break this week, for 30 minutes reading, because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I know the ending was the right one, I know it, but I was sad about it, and wanted it to end another way (this is the romance side of me!).

I read The Hunger Games in 2012, and Catching Fire in 2013. As soon as I read the first, I wanted to read the second, and third, but I made myself spread them out, so it wasn’t over so quickly. Now I’ve finished Mockingjay, I’m really sad. Three years of a series, and it’s over.

Now I have the debate of whether to watch the films, it would keep them going, but, films are never as good as books, and do I want to tar the great place they are in my heart with less than brilliant films – but what if they’re good? The casting certainly is good – each character I’ve seen looks perfect for the part! I’ll keep thinking about that one, and for the time being, keep the series of books in a very special place in my heart!

ROW80 Sunday Check In

Hi!

I read an article today which was rating the days of the week. Sunday was 4th out of 7. It’s good, but towards the end, you feel the life sucking out of you, as you realise you have work tomorrow. Yep, I’ve got that feeling. I had so much I wanted to do this weekend, and I feel like I’m heading into another week, with hardly any of those things done.

I have had a nice relaxing weekend, so all good.

Only I’ve not touched my novel – so BAD! BAD BAD BAD. I knew I wouldn’t yesterday as I had plans, but I really wanted to today. I don’t even have an excuse. Again.

Anyway, I had a quite a few goals for this week. This is how I got on with them:

2x runs, 2x 20 minute + walks, 2x 10 minute walks (getting off the tube a stop earlier): I’ve done 3 (THREE), runs (woo hoo), and 2x 10 minute walks. Not good, but that extra run is brilliant.

Print off another section of The Man of My Dreams. I’ve got another 12 pages, that I know about. Maybe the missing bits are in those 12 – I think I’ve got more missing than that though. I found a whole load more than just those 12 pages.

Read said 12 pagesI read all 12 pages, and most of the rest I found. I’ve still got some to read through, but I’ve maybe read 30 pages this week. That’s good.

Find the missing pages of The Man of My Dreams (pray they’re on the hard drive). Print more. I’ve not done this as I had found more that were printed. I need to find the rest (still got my fingers crossed for the hard drive).

Read more. As above, I read about 30.

Start with sticky notes of plot points etc. Um. No. That was my plan for today that didn’t get fulfilled. 

Fast twice: I managed once. I started on Thursday too, but had a really long tiring day, and didn’t have the patience or anything to think about fasting, or cooking. I had half a baguette with ham for dinner. Oh dear.

2 book reviews, one for here, one for Novelkicks. I’m hanging my head in shame. Nope, neither.

I’d like to come up  with some great excuses,  but I don’t have any new ones – work was still busy, I’m still exhausted.

I hope this week I’ll finish a couple of things which should lead to a small respite in the craziness. Small.

My goals for this week are almost the same as last week:

2x runs, 2x 20 minute + walks, 2x 10 minute walks (getting off the tube a stop earlier)

Find the missing pages of The Man of My Dreams (on the hard drive??). Print them.

Read 10 pages I currently have, and ones I will hopefully find. 

Start with sticky notes of plot points etc. I started this way back, last year, the year before? But I’ve put them in a note book, rather than up. They’re no where near complete. I’ve got blue butterflies and hot pink squares. That’s pretty cool right – should give me a push! Hope boyfriend won’t mind me decorating the bedroom walls/mirror again!

Fast twice – at least – I also managed this last week! Up until today, I’d lost weight. I need to stop weighing myself daily!

2 book reviews, one for here, one for Novelkicks.

Fingers crossed for this week. Good luck with your goals, whether doing ROW80, or if you’re just setting yourself goals.

ROW80 Check-in

I forgot to check in last week. I’m planning on one check in a week, at the end of the week, so Sunday. Last Sunday I totally forgot, so was going to do Monday, then work got in the way and I kept forgetting again, and now we’re here, a week later. Really, this is 2 weeks worth of check ins.

– Spend some time at least three times a week, editing. I’ve been pretty good at this. Mainly cause I’m just on the reading through stage (to remind myself of what the hell the novel is), so it’s easy at the moment. I think I’ve done this at least 3 times a week for the last 2 weeks. I’ve read up to p60 this year (A4 pages, size 10 font, single line spaced – so quite a lot). I’m getting near-ish where I have to do some real editing.  That’s scary, but I’m on a roll, so I’ll carry on.

– Exercise three times a week. If it’s walking, no less than for 20 minutes. I went for my first run of the year today. I’ve been putting it off for a week, but I finally did it, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought – in fact, I’m a lot fitter than I expected considering I’ve not done any exercise other than walking for nearly 4 months. I’ve also got back into the habit of getting off the tube a stop early and walking the rest of the way to work. It’s only 12 minutes, but that’s 12 minutes more than I was doing.

– Fast 2 days a week (500 calories a day). Done. I was going to do 3 this week, but today pretty much fell apart (I want to blame someone, but really can only blame myself, I caved in to the cookies I made last night, then left a pizza out the freezer, so had a choice of eating, or throwing away, I chose eating!).

– Check in for ROW80 once a week, one book review blog once a week. This week, complete – this blog and I reviewed Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor over on Novelkicks (read it here). Last week, I did none. I’m going to focus on the positives of this week though!

All in all, I’d say I’m doing well (this week, we’ll ignore last). The editing is going well, the reviewing is going well, I’m blogging on time. I’m also exercising and eating like I should (I’ve lost 4lb in the last 2 weeks).

My goals pretty much stay the same this week, except I may  have to reduce to 1 fast, because life is likely to get in the way! Here’s to another good week!

Leftovers by Stella Newman

A novel about friendship, hope and the power of pasta from the bestselling author of Pear Shaped.

According to a magazine, Susie is a ‘Leftover’ – a post Bridget-Jones 30 something who has neither her dream man, job, nor home. She doesn’t even own six matching dinner plates.

According to her friend Rebecca, Susie needs to get over her ex, Jake, start online dating – or at least stop being so rude to every guy who tries to chat her up.

But Susie’s got a plan. If she can just make it the 307 days till her promotion and bonus, she can finally quit and pursue her dream career in food, then surely everything else will fall into place. If only her love life wasn’t so complicated…

A sharp, witty and refreshing novel about love, friendship and enjoying what’s left on the table.

Left Overs

 

I really enjoyed Stella Newman’s debut Pearshaped when I read it earlier in the year. From the moment I closed it, I’d been waiting for Leftovers. When I got it in the post, I was ¼ of the way through another book, which, although I was really enjoying, I HAD to put down and start reading Leftovers.

I was not disappointed.

Like Pearshaped, the main character in this novel Susie, works with food and loves food. The novel is scattered with food descriptions, recipe ideas  and restaurant stuff. For someone like me that loves romance novels and loves recipe books and food, it is just the best. Who needs either a recipe book, or a novel, when Newman brings you both?

I really liked Susie from the off. If I was single now, in my 30-somethings, I just know I’d be like her. She comes across so real, and vulnerable, still cut up over her ex, but not admitting it, and unwilling to move on. She’s not doing her dream job (join the club), and she’s not doing anything about getting to her dream job.

One of the things I liked the most about the novel, was that it wasn’t really predictable. I totally thought I saw where it was going, and was nicely surprised at the ‘One year later’ last chapter. It made it seem more real. I can’t say anything more than that without giving something away.

What I can say, is that you should read this novel. It’s only just come out, and I’m already waiting for Newman’s next book – I just hope she’s writing one!

Stalkers by Paul Finch Review

Time’s up. You’re Next.

“All he had to do was name the woman he wanted. It was that easy. They would do all the hard work.”

Detective Sergeant Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenberg is investigating the disappearance of 38 different women. Each one was happy and successful until they vanished without a trace.

Desperate to find her missing sister, Lauren Wraxford seeks out Heck’s help. Together they enter a seedy underworld of gangsters and organised crime.

But when they hear rumours about the so-called ‘Nice Guys Club’ they hit a brick wall. They’re the gang that no one will talk about. Because the Nice Guys can arrange anything you want. Provided you pay the price…

Dark, terrifying and unforgettable.

Stalkers

 

 

If there’s anything I love as much as, or possibly more than a good romance, it’s a good crime/thriller novel. I’d seen this advertised on the tube (I think) and kind of knew from the first time I saw the poster that I was going to read it.

Little did I know how much I was going to love it.

The novel gripped me from page 1, where there was a very, very small look into what was going to happen to someone. Small enough to grab my interest.

In the beginning of the novel we see Heck being a very slightly off white police, not quite doing what his superiors would like him to be doing, but not that far away. Then he gets taken off the case of the disappearance of 38 women, but he can’t let it drop, not when he’s finally got a lead. He goes off on his own to try to solve the case, which is where he runs into Lauren.

She shouldn’t be there, he doesn’t want her there, but through a few twists he has her there, and as a reader that likes the MC, I’m glad she was.

It’s quite a gory novel, but nothing that put me off, I’ve read a lot worse anyway (Craig Robertson’s Random anyone?).

I literally couldn’t put it down, I had to pick it up at every opportunity. Sometimes I found myself disbelieving that something was happening, but I think the bit just before the end is brilliant. I was disappointed in the very very end, it didn’t satisfy my want for a clean ending, but I’m hoping that’s to get the reader interested in his next novel. I didn’t need that hook, his next novel is Sacrifice, out in July, and I for one cannot wait.

Pearshaped by @stellanewman Review

A novel about love, heartbreak and dessert.

Girl meets boy.
Girl loses boy.
Girl loses mind.

Sophie Klein walks into a bar one Friday night and her life changes. She meets James Stephens: charismatic, elusive, and with a hosiery model ex who casts a long, thin shadow over their burgeoning relationship. He’s clever, funny and shares her greatest pleasure in life – to eat and drink slightly too much and then have a little lie down. Sophie’s instinct tells her James is too good to be true – and he is.

An exploration of love, heartbreak, self-image, self-deception and lots of food. Pear-Shaped is in turns smart, laugh-out-loud funny and above all, recognizable to women everywhere.

 Pearshaped

I had this book recommended to me by author Fiona Gibson (look at me name dropping!). We’d been talking about previous novels we liked, and as she loved You Had Me at Hello as much as I did, I thought I could trust her judgement. Then, when Laura decided to have it as Novelkicks’ book club book of the month in February I knew I had to read it.

It really was good, really good. Sophie is written so well, she’s a character I couldn’t help liking. James is an idiot, you can’t help disliking him. I find such vastly different views on two of the main characters brilliant, my emotions being mixed during the novel!

When I was younger I went through a relationship very similar to James and Sophie’s, so I totally ‘got’ it, and I know Sophie grew as a character because of it, just as I did as a person.

Enough of the characters, enough of the story – food! Mmmmm. Sophie is a dessert creator for a supermarket chain, and food lover (and I think Ms Newman must be too). I am too (the lover bit not the creator bit) and some of the pages were so alive with desserts and other foods. They were described so well, and sounded so good, I’m sure I dribbled a few times. I almost feel like put on weight reading it!

My only criticism, is one very similar to one I’ve had before, I think the cover blurb gives too much away, I think it would be so much better as a do they/don’t they novel, but I can’t take that away from Newman at all.

Heat magazine summed this book up brilliantly, ‘If you are a girl with a passion for food, (which I totally am), this modern city heartbreak is the book for you.’ Read it, you won’t regret it. I’m already massively looking forward to her next novel – Leftovers which comes out in the next few weeks.

Another Week Gone – And We’re In February Kids

My end of/beginning of month blogs must be so boring, they’re so repetitive. But still, how is it February already?

January started off really well, with me reading through the first 84 pages of The Man of My Dreams in the first week, but then I failed, and did no more for the rest of the month. I have no excuses.

I’m hoping February is going to go better, and it’s starting pretty ok – I’ve just done the next 10 pages (30 minutes). It’s not a whole lot, and I got totally into it, so felt like I could have carried on going, but I want to do a blog, and I need to do some ironing, and want to watch another NCIS: Los Angeles.

One of the Sky channels is showing the first few series of it during the day. I made the mistake of series linking it, because I’d never seen or heard of it, and I love the original NCIS, so wanted to see what it’s about. What I didn’t realise was that they were showing 2 episodes a day – so the sky box got pretty full pretty quickly. And I didn’t notice.

It got to the point it was full and wouldn’t record any more. So we started watching it. And must admit got massively into it. Which is my very long way of saying this is what’s coming between me and this first read through of my novel.

Well, that and in the last week I’ve read 2 really, really good books (Deliruim by Lauren Oliver and Sister by Rosamund Lupton), and when I’m reading a good published book, it’s hard to make myself put that down and read my, rough, first draft novel. Very hard.

So, instead of picking up another novel, I’m not going to, and I’m going to crack on with reading mine. Of course it’s harder to read on the tube going to work, because it’s A4, it’s not stapled togetehr, and Im trying to make notes on it, but tough.

I had some goals for RWO80 this week, this is what they are and how I did, and why not throw in what I’m doing this week for a goal on each one too:

Edit TMOMD for 7 Hours: I’ve done half an hour today. It’s bad, but it’s better than nothing, which I’d done the last few weeks. Next week: 15 minutes editing a day. I’m reducing it to try to get me working on it. 15 minutes is so little, I could just start it and be done before I know. Hopefully though, starting 15 minutes will make me do more. It’s my test mile…

Writing course – 2 hours: None. Oops. Next week: Same, 2 hours over the whole week. Hoping one day I’ll hit this.

2 Book revies: Done. One on here – You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlene, and The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes for Novelkicks.co.uk. I’m not sure if the review of TGYLB is suitable for NK, it’s got a lot of me in it, so maybe it should be on here. I’ll let Laura decide. Next week: I’m still behind on reviews from last year, so lets say 2 again.

2 ROW80 Check-ins: Today, check, but missed Wednesday because I was out at my bookclub. Yes, I could have done it when I got in, but didn’t. I’ll try harder next week. And, Next week’s goal: 2 check ins.

Burn 1,500 calories (on top of normal walking to work etc): I haven’ t worked this out yet. It won’t be 1,500 calories though. Maybe just below 1,000? Don’t know. Next week: 1,500 calories again, including 1x visit to the gym.

3 fasting days for diet: I only managed one. Next week, just 2 days.

And one additional goal for next week:

Social Media: Visit other ROW80 blogs, and reply to my comments on here.

My ROW80 buddy Laura tried to push me to write on Friday, but I was out in the pub. This week, I’m going to get in the habit of checking in with her, someone to be responsible to each day helps me to write, or in this case, hopefully edit.

You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane Review

What happens when the one that got away comes back? Find out in this sparkling debut from Mhairi McFarlane.

‘Think of the great duos of history. We’re just like them.’
‘You mean like Kylie and Jason? Torvill and Dean? Sonny and Cher?’
‘I think you’ve missed the point, Rachel.’

Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart. It’s been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away.

They’d been partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on: Ben is married. Rachel is not. Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend.

YHMAH

I love the line ‘You had me at hello,’ (I had it used on me once!!), so knew I had to read this when I heard about it. I must admit I was worried, it’s a debut novel, and I’ve read a lot of debut novels recently I’ve not really enjoyed. I know that’s just bad luck, so I gave it a go.

I am so incredibly glad I it. I loved it, absolutely loved it.

The reason I’ve not enjoyed quite a few books recently is that I’ve felt the charcters were too two-dimensional, they felt too shallow and predictable. The characters in You Had Me At Hello, weren’t, they were totally real and believable.

From the very beginning, I loved Rachel, she felt like she was my friend. The opening chapter shows her splitting up with her boyfriend, which although she knows is the right thing to do, is still really upsetting to her, her feelings were raw, and it just made her, well like I said, real. She then sees Ben, who she’s not seen since university. Slowly, their story comes out, intermingled with what’s happening in the present.

Then there’s her 3 best friends and their problems and issues too. They’re all brilliant characters too.

This was the first whole book I’ve read on my Kindle (well, kindle app on my phone). I have to admit I loved reading it on my phone, it was always with me, it was light, easy to hold etc. However, now I’ve read it, I’m gutted I didn’t have the actual book. I like keeping my favourite books, thinking maybe one day I’ll read them again, but also just having them on my shelf reminds me of how good they are and makes me happy. I don’t get to have this with You Had Me At Hello. Gutted.

My final words on this – I’ve just looked on Amazon, out of 1070 reviews, 645 were 5* (not including mine that I’ll be adding shortly), and 269 were 4*. You can’t argue with that many people!

Last Week’s Loses

Last week was a mix of a week. I had some good days, and some really horrible days. That’s mainly just because of work. I hate that work can make a difference to a real life day. Well, I do when I’ve had a bad day.

In terms of my goals, last week was a pretty poor week. Pretty poor. These were my goals, and successes (or lack of them):

7 hours editing – totally failed this one, none.

2 hours of writing course – again, failed totally, not one.

2 Book Reviews – Completed one, drafted one. It’s a good thing I fiinished the one I did, it was for the website Novel Kicks, and on Thursday, it was pubished. Woop! That’s my first review for anyone other than myself. I’m looking forward to reviewing more for them. Check out my review of All That Glitters by Ilana Fox, and enter the competition to win a copy here.

2 ROW80 Check-ins: COMPLETE!

Burn 1,500 Kcals in additional to normal walking to work exercise: 600kcal done. It’s better than none. Plus, I took the big step of going to the gym though. First time this year. That’s a big step!

3 ‘fasting’ days: I only managed 2. I kept putting the second back, and ended up accidently being hungover yesterday, so really couldn’t face the idea of it.

Not a great week, but certainly not a terrible week. I’ve very happy with the review on Novel Kicks. I’m very happy with going to the gym. I’m happy I can at least do check in blogs.

I’m going to keep most of my goals the same for this week, just changing one and adding another. They are:

7 hours editing

2 hours of writing course

2 Book Reviews – 1 for here and one for Novel Kicks. I’m sure they don’t want another one so soon, but if I get it done, it’s ready when they’re ready for it. The one for on here is drafted so shouldn’t take that much effort. She says…

2 ROW80 Check-ins PLUS another blog: My check in blogs are about my progress. I don’t write so much about what I’m writing (or editing in this case). I like those blogs, so I’ll add one of those too.

Burn 1,500 Kcals in additional to normal walking to work exercise: I know I’ve not managed it so far, but it’s good to have a big goal to aim for.

3 ‘fasting’ days.

I’d really like to do a week round up and actually be positive about what I’ve acheived that week. I can’t remember the last time I wrote a blog and was really happy with everything I’d done over the whole week. I think this might be the week. I’d really like it to be, but I do have quite a lot of plans. But saying that, I’ve not got outragous goals; everything is possible.