MG Review: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold.

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Title: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold.

Author: Terry Maggert

Length: 238

Source: Received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

I have always enjoyed reading middle grade novels, even if I may not necessarily fall in the age group they’re aimed at! I feel like they don’t tend to contain as many cliché’s as young-adult novels tend to.  After reading the synopsis I thought this was definitely something worth checking out! I’m going to try and review it from the perspective of the target audience.

This story took a little too long to get ‘started’. Had I read this when I 12, I don’t think I would’ve made it past around 40% of the book. I understand the importance of world-building and developing the characters, but at the same time it felt like the beginning dragged on a little too much. That was one of the reasons it took me so long to get through this book despite it being 248 pages long.

The character was your average middle grade protagonist, but nonetheless fun to read about. She had a goal throughout this story, and also acted FAIRLY realistically for the most part of this story. However, for some situations she was put in, I really struggled to believe that a 16/17 year old would react in the way she did.

I’m honestly struggling to write a review for this book, not because I disliked it, but because after I finished reading it nothing really stood out to me. Maybe because I’m comparing my experience of reading this middle grade book to previous one’s I had enjoyed but I just found it a little anticlimactic.

If you’re interested in reading about a book set in Alaska, and have an interest in humpback whales you might want to give this a try. Also if you’re looking for a middle grade book that is a more focused on world-building, I would recommend reading this.

Discussion post: Bad Reviews.

This is a sensitive topic amongst the book blogging community, but it’s something most bloggers have to go through when writing a bad review. UNLESS they are lucky enough to never read a book they dislike!

At some point in time we come across a book we didn’t enjoy, I feel like it’s easier to review it when you paid for the book yourself rather than received it for review! Writing these reviews are never enjoyable, but at the same time I feel like as a book blogger it is my duty to inform readers of my opinion. Sometimes people read my reviews, go on to read the book and find they have a completely different experience, which is absolutely normal! We all have different preferences, something I enjoy is not going to necessarily mean the next person would have enjoyed it just as much.

However I do take extra care when writing bad reviews, and I’ve noticed that when I approach it from an objective viewpoint, as someone just critiquing the story it’s much easier. I think it’s because it makes it less personal and a little more technical.

I’ve been on Goodreads and come across a few reviews that look something like this:

OH WOW this book was a disaster, it made me want to RIP MY EYES out!

Here’s the thing, I enjoy reading entertaining reviews just as much as anyone else, but sometimes I feel like people do toooooo much. Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I’m not saying my way is the right way to review. But I particularly find reviews like this unhelpful and frankly a little rude. The worst thing about it is some people won’t even say what particular aspect or what it was about the book they didn’t really enjoy. Someone slaved away for months, even years to produce something they were genuinely proud of. The least I can as a reviewer, is point out perhaps what concepts/characters I thought weren’t written well. Or provide constructive criticism, so that the author can perhaps pick up on this and might even agree!

Let me know what you guys think down in the comments! What is your approach to writing reviews for books you didn’t like? By the way I wanted to make some posts that are not book related, e.g. study tips or favourite movies would y’all still be interested in reading these kind of posts?

REVIEW: The Crystal Crux by A.M. Werner

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Title: The Crystal Crux

Author: A.M Werner

Published: January 11th 2016

Length: 352

Source: I got this copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I haven’t read a high fantasy in a fairly long time so I was really excited to accept this for review! Here’s the synopsis: (taken from Goodreads)

‘Once you get past the Greek warrior Bellerophon and his esoteric-laced crystals, past the menacing black dragon Ophis, past the sinister giant Sinibaldus, past the black-heart Castellan, Rugerius, past the enchanted creatures haunting Eagles Pass and the treacherous Fabbro family ruling Parthenope, you’ll discover that “The Crystal Crux – Betrayal” is a love story, a tale of light and faith in a land of darkness, war and hopelessness.
Pero de Alava has sinned against the powers-that-be. His elevated paranoia has made him indecisive and given life to frequent hallucinations and troubling visions. The supernatural is colliding with reality and the caballero fears he is losing his mind. His plans to wed Anthea Manikos unravel quickly. His best friend, Francis Whitehall, the Griffin, can’t reach him. He accepts no advice from anyone. He curses God because he has seen the prosperity of the wicked and envied them. Will his quest into hell help him right his mind again or will his jealousy drive him to be as unjust as those he despises?
Emperor Henry VI has died. He can no longer protect his pawns. Brother betrays brother, friend betrays friend. As Zor always says, “Bravest blood flows first.” The heart has been struck. It is only DAY ONE and the leaves are falling, snapping off at the stems, missed opportunities drifting away, swirling in the breeze towards the coldness of the grave. So many regrets.
“Every malevolent act you henceforth commit in the name of justice, will only disconnect you from the greater good you are swearing to perform. You will be broken and become the evil thing you loathe.”‘

I think I should preface this review by saying this. If you’re someone who enjoys heavy-world building and historical fiction you will love this book! The majority of it is world building, which was absolutely amazing, because it made me think about how much research went into actually writing about this time so accurately!

This story had characters from a wide range of backgrounds, all battling their own demons and all developing through this story. But it also had some interesting relationships and in my opinion had the perfect amount of romance for a fantasy/historical fiction. I prefer having a relationship that feels more realistic, rather than having love triangles and clichèd romantic scenarios. The relationship between Anthea and Pero De Alva is one I loved reading about and I think it gives this story a sort of relief from all the darkness surrounding these characters.

This was a great fantasy/historical fiction but in all honesty it took me a while to get through, simply because of the intense world building! However the way A.M. Werner developed this complex world and made it feel familiar to the reader is one of the reasons I had to keep reading!

Review: A Gentleman in Moscow

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Title: A Gentleman in Moscow

Author: Amor Towles

Published: February 9th 2017

Length: 480

Source: I got this copy from Hutchinson- Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

It comes as no shock that I’ve been in a reading slump for the past 2 months, so here’s my first review this year!

I love historical fiction, and so I was a big fan of the TV adaptation of War and Peace, I still haven’t gotten to the actual book yet! So when this was recommended to people who enjoyed W&P you already know I had to get a copy of this… Here’s the blurb: (taken from goodreads)

‘With his breakout debut novel, Rules of Civility, Amor Towles established himself as a master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction, bringing late 1930s Manhattan to life with splendid atmosphere and a flawless command of style.

A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.’

This is definitely a more slow paced, self-discovery read. You follow this journey of this Count who lived such a lavish life, suddenly confined the the smallest room in the Metropol. How he manages to stay sane, and his coping mechanisms with this situation is something that really interested me! It also portrayed that a lot of things are dependent on perspective. Initially being confined to this small space gave made him feel claustrophobic, no matter what activity he tried to pursue (within the Metropol) it could never match the satisfaction he would get from freely strolling down the street! However once he changed his viewpoint, began discovering and inspecting the hotel he was trapped in, as the reader you realise that it’s all your mindset!

In honesty this was a DNF for me, not because I didn’t enjoy, but because it had a lot of world-building and character development and not much actually going on for about the first half of the book. With me already being in a reading slump I found it hard to finish it! I do know that this is a book  will definitely come back to!

Upon the Tide: Review

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Title: Upon the Tide

Author: Ryan Jo Summers

Published: June 2016

Length: 188

Source: I got this copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

I’m back with another review! I haven’t actually read that much in the past few weeks because beta reading has been taking over my life! I started this short read quite a while back and just not gotten around to finishing it. Anyway on with the review…

The concept of this book was initially what caught my attention, here’s the synopsis (taken from Goodreads):

‘New York fashion designer, Piper Kincaid, just wanted to have a pleasant visit with her cousin down in Florida. That was before she and handsome beach bum, Kade Wyatt, become the targets of a gang of robbers and killers.

Fleeing for their lives aboard Kade’s big boat, they experience risk, surprises, mystery and romance during the Great Caribbean Boat Chase. However, the biggest surprises are waiting for them back at port.’

A compelling and mysterious crime thriller aspect. Check! The potential development of a love story. Check! Again I’m still on a quest to find a romance book that I LOVE. Unfortunately it wasn’t this one and let me explain why…

I found that the characters in this story didn’t act rationally and as a reader you could tell that their illogical decisions were there for the storyline. The main characters Piper and Kade were pleasant enough, but nothing about them STOOD OUT. For me, if I’m not really that immersed by the characters I lose interest.

The main strong points of this book is the world building, as Kade and Piper board the boat and venture off, the scenes for me that were the best were those that heavily relied on world building.

My main problem with this book is that it’s a little too unrealistic to be honest. The relationship between the MC’s developed way too quickly, with both characters being way too comfortable with each other given their circumstances.

At one point Piper and Kade are having lunch in a restaurant and they get tracked by the gang through the use of the MCs credit card. They just about make it out alive and the next morning Piper leaves the boat to explore leaving behind Kade, who was asleep… I just felt like there was no logical reasoning, did she not worry that the gang members are out there waiting for one of them to slip up?

This personally wasn’t for me, I understand that I read fiction and of course if the characters made ALL decisions logically and rationally it wouldn’t make an interesting read. But I also need to be able to justify why they make decisions that they do…

Heartborn by Terry Maggert: Review

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Title: Heartborn

Author: Terry Maggert

Published: September 1st 2016

Length: 238

Source: I got this copy from The Audiobookworm in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

This was an audiobook, which made getting through it a hell of a lot easier! It’s been a WHILE since I’ve listened to an audiobook and I really don’t know why!

Let me start by saying that I LOVED the narrator for this! It really helped me concentrate on the story instead of getting distracted by my surroundings. Here’s the synopsis: (taken from Goodreads)

‘Keiron was never meant to be anything other than a hero. Born high above in a place of war and deception, he is Heartborn, a being of purity and goodness in a place where violence and deceit are just around every corner.

His disappearance will spark a war he cannot see, for Keiron has pierced the light of days to save a girl he has never met, for reasons he cannot understand. Livvy Foster is seventeen, brave, and broken. With half a heart, she bears the scars of a lifetime of pain and little hope of survival.

Until Keiron arrives.

In the middle of a brewing war and Livvy’s failing heart, Keiron will risk everything for Livvy, because a Heartborn’s life can only end in one way: Sacrifice.

Fall with Livvy and Keiron as they seek the truth about her heart, and his power, and what it means to love someone who will give their very life to save you.’

For me the most interesting thing is that the author decided to spin something that would be seen as a disability into a powerful quality! Although it is a YA fantasy I found that it wasn’t jam packed with cliches and tropes. It was a unique concept and the book was filled with witty characters and I LOVE that! There was no love triangle business that seems to crop up quite a lot in YA, it felt like genuine story told from the heart as cheesy as that sounds…

There were two storylines involved, the story of Kieron and Livvy meeting and how they impacted each others’ lives. But also the tensions building among the angels in another dimension! That aspect kept the story interesting, as one story had a slow pace we would change chapters and something major would be happening in the other world! The one thing I would say is that it had a bit of a slow start, as the world building was taking place it got a little confusing to keep up with all these new characters.

I would highly recommend this if you enjoy YA fantasy! It was such an enjoyable read (listen :’D) and I’m already looking into other books by Terry Maggert!

Born a Crime

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Title: Born a Crime

Author: Trevor Noah

Published:  November 15th 2016

Length: 224

Source: Received from Netgalley in exchange for honest review.

 

So I don’t usually read non-fiction (unless it discusses a compelling enough topic) but I’m a HUGE fan of Trevor Noah! When I found that this was available to request on Netgalley I almost lost my mind!

It follows Trevor Noah’s childhood, growing up during the apartheid in South Africa and what it was like to be born a crime!

His perspective was so interesting to read about. We all sympathise, as outsiders, reading about the apartheid and the struggles the black communities went through at that time. The injustice, the discrimination, limitation of opportunities, the list is LONG. The interesting thing was that he was retelling his story almost as if it were normal. Being born into that environment, as sad as it is, kind of normalises it for
him. He didn’t know any other way.Probably one of the strongest quotes from his book was this:

“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.”

The topics he discusses are so varied and he really has an engaging way of telling his story! The most beautiful thing about this was his relationship with his mum. She is s
uch a strong and determined woman, he describes their relationship more as friends than mother and son.

He also emphasises that the end of the apartheid didn’t have this fairytale ending. Where society was absolutely perfect after. He describes the lengthy process of a country trying to overcome the oppression it had experienced for so long…
I highly recommend this, to basically anyone! Its funny yet sobering and definitely provides a unique insight.

 

Falling for the Chance: Review

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Title: Falling for Chance

Author: Kennedy L. Mitchell

Published:  July 17th 2016

Length: 241

Source: Received from author in exchange for honest review.

 

 

 

 

Falling for chance, so this is a story about a woman who is basically trying to find herself. As cheesy and clichè as it sounds that’s exactly what it is! Emily had suffered a tragedy in her life and found that her coping mechanism was to detach herself with everything she associated with before the tragedy.

First of all I really liked the writing style of this author.It had a way of creating a really connected relationship between the reader and the main character. I really enjoyed reading from the perspective of Emily simply because she was so relatable, there is a moment in the book she meets this really attractive guy and she just literally freezes up. It was endearing to read but also really funny! The main character and her love interest had witty banter that was just so hilarious to read!

As a reader I always look for character and relationship development, you want to know that as this character experiences life and as the story progresses he/she learns from this and becomes more adaptable! Emily was a great example of this but also, as we humans do, at some points made the same mistakes. It’s a balance of being absolutely perfect, and being realistic. Sometimes we know what we should do, but our judgement is clouded by our emotions!

I think for me I would’ve liked a bit more, as this was a short read of around 241 pages I wanted to read more about these characters and where they went on from here. There could possibly be an opportunity for a series later and in that case I would definitely be interested in reading the next books!

Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice Review

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Title: Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice

By: Stacy King (story adaptation) and Po Tse ( art)

Published: August 19th 2014

Length: 377 pages

Source: Received from Netgalley

 

 

Since reading the Manga adaptation of the Scarlett Letter, I’ve been waiting for the chance/funds to buy the other adaptations. The one that most interested me, BY FAR, was the Pride and Prejudice one! When I saw it was on Netgalley I literally almost peed my pants!

You could probably tell how excited I was to read this, BUT I honestly felt like it was a little anti-climactic. Whereas in the Scarlett Letter I felt like they were able to encompass the whole story, I wasn’t left feeling satisified at the end of this one. I’m not sure I can point my finger on it at this point, but I just felt like something was missing.

The art style was absolutely amazing, though at times it felt a little distracting. I was completely distracted by the illustrations when I actually read the story I felt a little let down. Maybe that’s what it was, the writing style, or the way they decided to summarise this classic. It kind of detached the story and characters from the reader. I didn’t feel like I was pulled in!

I know my expectations were pretty high for this, based on my experience of reading the Scarlett Letter, so that might be the reason why i felt a little deflated. I would still highly recommend you check out this series, in my opinion the best one so far is pretty clear (Scarlett Letter) , BUT they’re still worth checking out!

Faithful by Alice Hoffman: Review

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Title: Faithful

Author: Alice Hoffman

Published: November 1st 2016

Length:  272 pages

Source: Received for review from Netgalley

 

 

I’ve been really into contemporary fiction lately so I thought I’d try an adult contemporary! First of all, the cover of this book is sooo pretty! I was thinking about summing up the synopsis in my own words but I honestly don’t feel like I would’ve done it justice so, here’s the synopsis: ( from Netgalley)

‘Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.
What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.
Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.’

Reading through this summary I immediately knew this wasn’t going to be a light read, but I was also interested in seeing where this story would go. I feel like as a reader I’m over the unrealistic/unrelatable happy endings, that to be honest don’t really satisfy me as a reader. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that the books I read are a work of fiction and one of my favourite genres is Fantasy but at the same time, I need to be able to relate and understand the plot and the ending for me to be fully satisfied with the book. ( okay I see a discussion post in the making!)

I loved this book, I’ll admit I didn’t finish it in one sitting and wasn’t rushing to the ending but I feel like this is one of those books you need to take in slowly… If that makes any sense at all :D.

Our main character Shelby is unlike any other character I’ve read about before, that’s what interested me the most. I’ve never been in this position before ( and God forbid I ever will be) but at the same time I really understood her perspective, understood the way she reacted to the accident.

She didn’t wallow in self-pity, but at the same time she was battling her own problems. How do you carry on living after experiencing something like that and being able to walk away with nothing but a few bruises whereas your best friend…. ( not going to spoil anything here)

The author also decided to make her family situation not the ideal that I usually come across. A lot of times when I read books about a tragic accident happening, there is always a loving support family at home, that I feel like the author includes to compensate for the horrific experience. But with this book the family dynamic was not that case, she had a loving support mother, but her mother was also dealing with a lot of problems herself ( again really trying not to blurt out a spoiler).

This book is probably best going into without knowing much, you let the book tell you it’s story without trying to predict what the ending’s going to be! I would really recommend this book to anyone, even if you don’t particularly like reading contemporary, this book will hopefully change that. It does have a bit of a slow start but once you get into it you won’t be able to put it down. Again it isn’t a light fluffy read, but once in a while I read books that would perhaps change my perspective, and make me more grateful for what I have. But it also helps me understand people around me that may be going through something tough, even including myself. This book was centred around grief and tragedy and even death but at the same, and I know just how cheesy/cliché this sounds, it does show you that there’s light at the end of tunnel. You just have to be willing to start and go through with that journey… Wow this got a little deep :’), in other news basically my book buying ban has gone out the window and I’m just going to admit it by making a book haul post! That should be up soon!