These ‘about me’ sections, or even sections that inform you about blogs, have never been my forte. Much to my chagrin, I was never taught the unwritten rules of what you are supposed to say. The links at the side of the blog – Twitter and Goodreads, for example – are liable to tell you more than I could ever say in words.

Mostly, this will be a book blog. I read a lot, and I love to share my views on my most recent reads. I try to read a little bit of everything, but if you look closely you’ll notice I will occasionally become obsessed with one specific genre for a short period of time. Old books, new books, yet to be released books – I read them all. If you’re an author looking for advance readers or just wish for more reviews of a book you’ve already released, please feel free to contact me. There is a contact form at the side of my blog – if you scroll down below the Twitter and Goodreads sidebar you will find it – so drop me a message and I’ll be sure to get back to you in double time. After all, finding new authors is what makes the book world go around.

Thanks for taking your time to read this. With a little bit of luck, you will find my blog much more interesting than this mundane introductory section.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Review: American Gods

American Gods American Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

American Gods is one of those books everyone seems to be reading. Be it because they’re a Neil Gaiman fan or due to the television series, everyone seems to have something to say about it. As I’m a ridiculously weak person when it comes to bookish peer pressure, I gave in and brought the book. I’ve been meaning to pick up a Neil Gaiman book for quite some time anyway, so I was effectively killing two birds with one stone.

I went into this story with too many expectations and no expectations at all. I went in with notions of a literary masterpiece. Almost everyone has something positive to say about this book. There are rave reviews, awards have been piled atop the book, and it just seems to be one of those books (you know, the type you simply must read because of x and y reasons). At the same time, I had no idea what to expect story wise. I created my own ideas based upon the title and blurb – powerful Gods and all-out war – but I honestly had no expectations whatsoever in regards to what kind of story I would be receiving.

Truthfully, my feelings towards American Gods are extremely mixed. There were times where I was really enjoying the story and then there were other times where I had no idea what was going on. In fact, I spent a large percentage of the story clueless as to what I was reading. For the first couple of hundred pages, if someone asked me what I was reading I would reply with ‘a psychedelic wet dream’. Actually, I would say that throughout the entire story. There were many great elements but it was always (what I came to refer to as) the psychedelic wet dream elements that stood out the most.

I mean, really, who would have thought powerful Gods would be so caught up with anatomy. When I think of Gods, I do not think of time spent in the bedroom or the kinds of antics I imagine teenage boys get up to in locker rooms. It simply jarred with my image of what Gods are. It made for an interesting and unique take on Gods, but it was not at all what I had imagined they would be. Even upon finishing the book, I cannot say whether or not I liked this take on the omnipresent creatures. As I said, it was different, but it did not match with the images in my mind.

Another thing that jarred with my preconceptions was the way in which the story played out in regards to the war. I know there is much more to war than the battlefield elements. There are politics to consider, the effect had on those at home, and many other behind the scene elements that are missed out in most stories. However, I feel as though this one didn’t really hit upon many of the real elements. You knew a war was building, and yet everything seemed to take part in the background. It is probably some meta way of storytelling – the whole ‘it is taking place where humans will not see’ – and yet I wanted to view more. It was almost as though multiple stories were fighting to take control of the tale – you had the war and you also had all the drama occurring in Shadow’s life. Whilst you were engaged in some elements, you were never as fully engaged as you could have been.

I realise I’m seeming to be somewhat overly negative about this one, but it wasn’t all bad. As I said, there were some elements that I really enjoyed. The book had moments where it was a lot of fun, yet my expectations seemed to have been set much higher than what the book delivered.

Although I was never entirely sure about the way the Gods were portrayed, I really enjoyed the way they were introduced to us. We had the old Gods – those we can easily think of, the real religions of the world – and we have the modern Gods – of the things we love, aspects of the modern world that are central to everyday life. These two opposing types of worship made for such an interesting tale. They develop slowly, giving us more and more information as the story progressed.

Moreover, the multiple layers of the story ensured you were never quite one hundred percent sure about what would come next. Some elements were quite predictable, but it was nice to watch how everything linked together. You always had some kind of question lingering in the background, you were constantly wondering about the significance of little things.

It was a wonderfully complicated tale, and I’m glad I gave it a read. Not only can I finally jump into all those American God conversations that are occurring but I also enjoyed the book. Although I did have fun, it wasn’t all I had hoped it would be. I’ll certainly be giving Neil Gaiman another try, but I had wanted something more from this one – I just feel as though there was something missing (even now I could not tell you what, all I know is that I never experienced the mind blowing phenomenon everyone else seemed to).

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Review: As Old as Time

As Old as Time As Old as Time by Liz Braswell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As Old As Time is the third Twisted Tale story, this time giving us a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I positively adore Beauty and the Beast retellings, so I was excited for this one.

With the first book in this series, the Aladdin retelling, I was super excited for the series. With the second book in the series, the Sleeping Beauty retelling, I was extremely disappointed. With this third book in the series, the Beauty and the Beast retelling, I was somewhere in the middle. I wasn’t crazy about this one. It was nowhere near as interesting as the first book in the series, but it was a lot more enjoyable than the second book in the series.

I think the reason I enjoyed the first book so much is because of the story chosen. It is extremely rare to see Aladdin retellings. It was unique, hence my level of enjoyment. With the Sleeping Beauty story, I had comparisons I could make, thus allowing me to see how it wasn’t quite up to par with other retellings. With Beauty and the Beast there are countless retellings to be found. Some retellings are amazing, others not so much. To fall at either end of the spectrum this book would need to be either mind blowing or truly atrocious – thus, it was in the middle ground.

There was so much potential for this one. There was a twist added that I have never seen before – the one to curse the Beast was Belle’s mother. In addition to this, we had a world of magic. There was more to the story than simply accepting the Beast for being a monster – throughout the same message was sent. We are to accept others for their differences – be it a beastly form, magical powers, or the prejudices you see in everyday life. It is a great message to be sending, even if the story didn’t grip in quite the way it could have.

I feel as though it wasn’t as deep as it could have been. Certain elements were glossed over whereas some dragged on for far too long. Things were moving either too slowly or too quickly. I went from being gripped to being bored. It was the potential for great things that left me reading, and it never quite delivered the powerful hit I’d been hoping it would.

Whilst the book did have some good moments, moments in which an already interesting story was given new exciting twists, it didn’t blow my mind in the way it could have. It was an okay Beauty and the Beast retelling yet it was far from being my favourite.

I may carry on with this series, should more be realised, but I’m not going to go out of my way to read them. They’re okay tales to pass a bit of time, but there are plenty of other stories I’m more interested in reading.

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Friday, 18 August 2017

Review: Survivor

Survivor Survivor by Hayley Oakes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Survivor is my second Hayley Oakes read and the second Richmore book. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Condemned, I was super excited to jump into this one. I wanted more of the Devereux family and I was not disappointed by what I was given.

Survivor is a different kind of read to Condemned. Both are emotional heavy books, yet this one didn’t feel quite as intense as Condemned. Condemned pulled us into the darkness from the very start, we were constantly given glimpses of what was hidden below the surface, whereas Survivor slowly unwraps layer by layer. We’re given a wonderfully sweet story with a darkness hidden below the surface. The sweeter the story gets the closer to the surface the darkness rises. You hope the darkness never reaches the open air, and yet it slowly seeps through. Rather than being engulfed, as you are in Condemned, this one slowly seeps into you. It makes for a very different vibe, but it’s just as powerful.

It’s not just the way the story unfolds that results in a very different vibe, but the relationship between the characters is vastly different. The personalities of our characters in this book couldn’t be any more different to the personalities of the characters in the prior book, giving us a refreshingly different kind of tale. Although vastly different, they’re just as wonderful. In fact, I think I fell in love with them more. It is hard to say considering how I feel in love with the two sets of characters for vastly different reasons, but I think I may prefer this couple.

Moreover, we get to visit our favourite characters from the prior book. Although they’re not a central part of the story, we do get to spend some time with them, and it is wonderful. Survivor works perfectly fine as a standalone novel; however, if you’ve read Condemned this book allows for a beautiful insight into what the future held for the characters. It’s always wonderful when you get to see the ‘what happens next’ and this book does so without the glimpses of our Condemned characters overshadowing the drama of the Survivor characters.

Honestly, this was another beautiful read. It deals with sensitive topics with such great care, creating a deeply emotional read that leaves you addicted throughout. Condemned already had me believing I needed to pick up more Haley Oakes books, and Survivor has merely reinforced the notion. Without a doubt, Hayley Oakes is an author I need to read more of.

I cannot wait to see what comes next.

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Review: The Irish Getaway

The Irish Getaway The Irish Getaway by Siobhan Davis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve been excited about The Irish Getaway from the moment Siobhan Davis mentioned a Kennedy Boys short story. Reading Loving Kalvin merely increased my desire to read this short story, the titbits offered leaving me super excited to find out more of the specific details. I hate to say it, but whilst I enjoyed this, it wasn’t quite all I had hoped it would be.

I have a very complicated relationship with short stories. I hate more than I love. With the Saven series, Siobhan Davis convinced me her short stories are more than worth the read. In fact, I’m impatiently awaiting the rest of those short stories. Due to this, I had high hopes for The Irish Getaway with Siobhan Davis being one of the few authors whose short stories I look forward to reading.

Truthfully, this is more of a three-point-five star read than a three star read. I did my usual debate of whether I was to round up or down, yet I’ve been in one of those weird reading moods lately where very little seems to be pleasing me in the way I hope. I’m still enjoying books, but I’m waiting on that one book that will blow my mind. I’d been hoping The Irish Getaway would be that book, and because it wasn’t I believe that is why I opted to round down. I know many fans of the series will give it a higher rating… but yeah, weird reading mood right about now.

The Irish Getaway brings Faye’s story full circle in a wonderful manner. We’re back where everything started, returning to Ireland to be giving one final tale from the perspectives of Faye and Kyler. As with the other Kennedy Boys books, this one was filled with drama and mischief. With all of the boys on vacation, things quickly get out of hand. Fun, fisticuffs, and the other ‘f’ word you can easily fill in without me saying.

I feel as though this story gave us a nice insight into many of the future Kennedy Boys books. We get to see glimpses of things that promise to blow our minds in later books. In fact, I think my preferred release order for the future books has changed. I’m even more excited for certain stories now that I’ve been giving a little bit more about some of the boys. These little tasters do plenty to build up an appetite yet nothing at all is solid – things are very much open, and there’s no telling what Siobhan Davis will bring us.

Whilst this story did give us lots of little things, I feel as though it never quite reached the one big bang that we were given with the main books in the series. It was lots of little explosions, and whilst they were lots of fun, they never really reached the intensity of the one big bang I’ve come to love in the other books. It pulled everything together well, we had some nice moments, but it didn’t quite move me in the same way the main books in the series have.

Overall, it was an enjoyable quick read. In addition to the little something more added by the short story, we are also given some bonus scenes to go with the Kyler books. Without a doubt, it is worth picking up if you’re a fan of the Kennedy Boys.

Honestly, I think it’s just my current reading mood that left me feeling a bit out of touch with this one. It was fun; I just wanted something to truly blow my mind.

Bring on Saving Brad (I’m more hyped for it now after the snippets of drama we get to see in this).

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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Review: Lovemurder

Lovemurder Lovemurder by Saul Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Love Murder is the second Valerie Hart book, and much like the first I wasn’t crazy about it. Yes, it was enjoyable; however, it’s not a series where I’ll be going out of my way to pick up the next book.

I picked up The Killing Lessons as a means to entertain myself whilst travelling. Although I started the book whilst travelling, I wasn’t as pulled in as I had hoped to be, resulting in me picking it up and putting it down. It was a decent enough read, but I wasn’t crazy about it. I spent quite a bit of time feeling as though it would only pull a three star rating from me, yet I opted with four stars in the end. I was unsure as to whether I would pick up the second book.

Fast forward to the release of Love Murder and we have a Goodreads giveaway. I decided to enter, indifferent about whether or not I would win. As is always the case when you’re indifferent, I won. It took me a while before I was able to jump into it (I selected the wrong address when entering, resulting in the book being sent to my family rather than me), but when I could I was surprisingly excited. The synopsis had me expecting big things.

I did enjoy this one a lot more than I enjoyed the first book, but my engagement was not all it could have been. Due to my lack of complete enjoyment with the first book, it took me a while to reconnect with the characters. There were details I could not remember, things I didn’t really care about all that much. All the talk of love grew annoying, to the point where I was constantly rolling my eyes. Yet the crime intrigued me. I was curious. I was pulled in. I wanted to know more.

At first, I had some Gretchen Lowell vibes from our villainess. Despite the different types of crime, the beauty and destruction reminded me of the Chelsea Cain books. These vibes were mostly pushed away. The story was completely different to a Gretchen Lowell story, even if there were moment in my mind where the two characters merged somewhat. This was much more complex, giving me a story that pulled me in.

As much as I loved the crime aspect of the story, I still do not care much about the characters. I liked them more in this one, but they continued to annoy me in a number of ways. I simply cannot connect with them, making it hard for me to find myself truly lost in the series.

I probably will pick up a third Valerie Hart book if it comes to be, but I’m not going to go out of my way to read it. There are many other crime fiction series I’m deeply invested in, and this one pales in comparison to those obsessions.

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Review: The Assassin and the Empire

The Assassin and the Empire The Assassin and the Empire by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Having read and enjoyed the first five Throne of Glass books and impatiently awaiting the sixth, I decided it was time to work my way through the five novellas offered up in The Assassin’s Blade. I’d debated reading these stories at an earlier stage, yet I found myself too pulled into the main story to take a detour. Detour now, officially over, I’m hoping book six will be well worth the wait.

With these novellas, I’ve had ups and downs. Upon finished The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, I was unsure whether or not the stories would do much. The Assassin and the Pirate Lord was an okay read, but for the most part I really didn’t care. The Assassin and the Healer improved upon the first novella, yet it still wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. It was enough to leave me with the belief the stories would improve. With The Assassin and the Desert, I found myself back at my earlier stage. It was an okay read, but it failed to give me all I had hoped for. The Assassin and the Underworld returned me to the point of the second book. In fact, it was my favourite of the first four novella – I enjoyed it much more than the other stories. The Assassin and the Empire was somewhere in the middle, for me. I didn’t love it in the way I had hoped I would, nor was it terrible. It was merely okay.

Considering how much I enjoyed the fourth novella, I was expecting really big things from this one. We all knew what was coming, and due to that, I was anticipating a truly powerful read. Instead, I felt as though it dragged. It never really hit the high point I was waiting for. I appreciate being given the background details, I enjoyed seeing what played out, but what was in my mind was much more moving than the events that played out. I wanted more. I wanted my emotions pulled at, my heartstrings damaged once and for all.

I fear I’m in the minority when I say this, but this last novella wasn’t at all what I’d been hoping to receive.

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Review: Yes, Prime Minister

Yes, Prime Minister Yes, Prime Minister by Aria Cole
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Yes, Prime Minister is my second Aria Cole book. As with my first Aria Cole read, I wasn’t crazy about it. I contemplated three stars – as my prior Aria Cole read somehow managed to pull such a rating from me (I believe I was much nicer with my ratings back then) – but I couldn’t quite bring myself to give it a three star rating.

For me, this book was a case of insta everything. You name a cliché and it happens at hyper speed. You blink and you’ve missed a sudden shift in the story, a move that is quite large yet wholly predictable. Everything was too quick, you didn’t get a chance to connect, and I didn’t really care one way or another how things played out. All in all, it wasn’t for me.

I plan to try one more Aria Cole book (possibly two, as I have a feeling I have multiple on my Kindle for some reason), and if I have the same response, I will conclude Aria Cole books are not for me. I’m just too picky when it comes to my short stories, and neither of the Aria Cole books I have picked up thus far have done it for me.

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