Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Book Review - Long Way To A Small Angry Planet

You can blame Ellie aka @patchworkbunny (her blog is Curiosity Killed the Bookworm - you should check it out!) and Darran aka @ShinraAlpha (he's involved in the eZine, Shift - check that out as well!). I saw Darran was reading Record of a Spaceborn Few and I went "Ooooh!" and asking questions about this series. Ellie saw my questions and helped answering my questions and went "You know what? I love this author and this series so much, I will send you the first book and you can read it on your holiday."

And it came with a day or two before my holiday so, of course, I read it by the pool in Cyprus.

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, a spaceship that punches holes in space to make transport easier, she isn't expecting much. She just wants to be far away from her troubled past. That's why she's using a false name. But what she gets on the Wayfarer is more than she expects: a mishmash of species and personalities, but what Rosemary wants.

But when the crew get an offer of a lifetime, the chance to create a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet, they would be mad to not accept it. This could earn them enough money to live comfortable for years. But first, they need to get there, and while space is vast, spaceships are small and some secrets can't survive in a space that small...

This is a space opera, something I am not well read in - in fact, I'm not that well read a reader in the scifi genre, but I devoured this in three days. I couldn't put this book down and I had such a blast with it. The characters were unique and fleshed-out, each species felt fresh and different. For a sci-fi book, it tackles sexuality, gender, race, politics and goodness knows what, this book knocked it out of the park. This read felt interesting, weird yet it was a gripping read.

But, I hear you say, on Goodreads, you didn't give this a five star review. This is when a half star is needed on Goodreads. So why didn't I give it the full five stars? Because... I don't know. It's hard to explain but there was something that held me back. I wonder if it's because I read this so fast (three days is fast for me!), I didn't connect to the book and the characters so much as I would have if I read it over a two week period.

But I had such a wonderful time with this that I can't wait to continue with this series and read A Closed and Common Orbit and Record of a Spaceborn Few. I am aware that each book can be read as standalone and companions to each other. I think fans of Doctor Who and Firefly would love this series (so thank you/curse you Ellie and Darran!)

Monday, 23 April 2018

eBook Review - Girl with the Pearl Earring

As you guys know, I took a two week break earlier this month as I went on holiday with my Other Half and his family to Cyprus for a week (Wednesday to Wednesday) and in that week, I finished Girl with the Pearl Earring on the plane there (as well as starting & finishing Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers and Son of the Dawn [Ghosts of the Shadow Market: eNovella 1] by Cassandra Clare & Sarah Rees Brennan while nearly finishing The Cruel Prince by Holly Black on the plane back) so you might a few reviews flying at you over the next few weeks.

And the reason I got this is because I saw this in the Kindle Spring Sale for £1.99. It was a random find and when I read the first few lines, I went "I know this is a big deal of a read, but I think I should buy this!" and after reading Illuminae and audiobooking Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, I wanted to read something short and fast. I misremembered how long this was and thought it would be perfect.

Set in 17th century Holland, we follow Griet as she becomes a maid, working in the house of painter Johannes Vermeer. But as she works on housework, laundry and caring for his six children, she slowly becomes entangled in his world and his work...

Ok, I admit it. I am not a historical fiction reader so this is outside of my comfort zone. But I see why people really like this book as I had fun reading this. This read more like a contemporary than a historical novel, which I feared would be stuffy and a bit rigid, but I really like the story of how the Girl with the Pearl Earring was painted and the story behind that, as very little is known about Johannes Vermeer and his works.

But I really liked was Griet and her character development. I have read reviews saying that the book explores a "corruption of innocence" and "the price of genius", but when I was reading it, I thought it hinted more of what happens when two people have an emotional affair rather than a physical affair, something that is much worse. But, now am thinking about it, it does feel like it's open to the reader's mind.

Like I said earlier on, I'm not a historical fiction reader and this read, to me, like a contemporary, but I know some historical fiction readers like a lot of historical detail so this might feel a bit history-lit.

But I had a good time reading this and I might be intrigued enough to read another Tracy Chevalier or risk reading another historical novel in the near future...

Friday, 20 April 2018

Audiobook Review - The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

You guys on the Internet do love this book. It's getting a lot of love from other book bloggers, vloggers and Instagram. So the fact it's taken me till now to listen to the story is a bit of a surprise. I mean, this has elements that would make me spend a lot of money to buy - huge amount of diversity, adventure, fun.

Anyway, how did I get this audiobook? Well, one day, I was randomly listening to latest episodes of podcasts I loved listening to years ago and fell out of favour with them for one reason or another. One of them was Answer Me This and they announced that they were doing a thing with Audible where if you do a free trial via their website (answermethispodcast.com/audible), you can get two audiobooks for free. And I love free things so off I went and I got this and Deborah Harkness's Book of Life (review for that is here). So, thanks Answer Me This.

Anyway, Gentleman's Guide (I'm not going to state the whole title through this blog post) follows Henry "Monty" Montague has been born and bred to be an English gentleman. But he doesn't act like an eighteenth century gentleman should. He drinks, gambles, sleeps around, makes reckless decisions and, somehow, is allowed a tour round Europe for one year. After that, he has to grow up and run his father's estate, something Monty is horrid over (for reasons that are explain through the course of the book). But this year away is going to be great, he knows it. He's going with his best friend, Percy, they are going to have fun and hopeful, this will be the year Monty can tell Percy about his all-consuming crush for him...

But that's not going to happen. His little sister, Felicity, is joining them so she can join finishing school (something she is loathing, though she's been demanding an education for years) and when Monty makes a reckless (and somewhat stupid) decision, their trip turns into a manhunt with the three being chased over Europe, things might not go as Monty hope. Or will it...?

I am HUGELY TORN over this. On the one hand, I completely get why you all love this so much. The diversity with LGBT+ characters, black characters, characters with medical conditions, characters with backstory (one main character's backstory - Monty's - is a bit of a trigger-warning, so be on your guard with that), how this book tackled racism, homophobia and the slave trade in this historical settings, gender equality. This book tackled a lot of issues and yet, was still fun.

Which makes this next paragraph a bit hard to write. While this was fun in the last half-ish of the story, the first half was a struggle. Not because the story didn't really kick off for a while (it kicks off, really, after the characters leave Paris), but because of Monty. Now, I get now that Monty goes through a huge character development and the Monty at the end of the book is the Monty I liked and enjoyed reading about. But the Monty for the first half or three quarters of the book is a problem for me. He was arrogant, self-involved, completely thoughtless and reckless that I found him quite hard to like. So much so that whenever I had a moment to listen to this, I would always find an excuse not to. I would have to push myself to listen and push through because once things got into gear storewide and with Monty's and Percy's relationship, I was there. But the first half of the book, for me, was hard. And there were times in the second half of the book that when Monty made stupid mistakes or rash decisions, I did want to shake him and go "You're having such wonderful character development! Don't go backwards on that!"

So... yeah... I am not in love with this compared to most of my book blogger and vlogger pals. But, I hear you ask, will be you reading/listening to the sequel/companion novel, The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, that follows Felicity? ... maybe. I mean, I like Felicity and her no-nonsense, badass-ness so I would be intrigued to see what Mackenzi Lee does, but I won't be rushing out to buy it.

However, if Mackenzi Lee fancies writing something linked to Skippy-o (no idea if that's correct spelling or not. AUDIOBOOK!), the pirate captain who we met 3/4 of the way through the story, then I would be on board for that. There was something about his character I really connected with...

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Book Review - Illuminae

... well, if you've read my last post, that didn't take me long to read. Well, actually, I finished this the day after my "I'm On A Blog Holiday" post went live and I had been reading it for two weeks prior to that. Mainly because of my fantasy reading slump. Hopefully, by the time you're reading this, I would have kicked myself up the backside and would be back reading my beloved fantasy again.

But, until then, let's talk Illuminae.

Illuminae is the first book in the Illuminae Files trilogy, and it starts with Kady dumping Ezra and both thinking their day couldn't get any worse. Oh, you poor teens, for their don't know that, by the end of the day, their planet had been invaded...

Two mega-corporations go to war over a tiny ice-covered planet that drilling illegally for fuel, not many people got saved from the planet. But Ezra and Lady did. But they're not on the same ship. They're on two different ships and after the fight the ships got into and with the enemy chasing them, it's going to take a long time till they're safe.

But things are going wrong. A deadly plague has broken out on one of the three ships, turning people into something close to space zombies, the ship's AI is seriously flawed and the enemy is chasing them, and it looks like the people in charge of the ships are lying to the refuges. Kady is trying to hack the ships's computer, trying to find the truth, but it looks like the only person that can help her is Erza, the boy who's heart she broke mere hours before the invasion...

So, this book - ok, this series now that book three is out - has got a lot of love on booktube and the blogosphere, and I did try to read this years ago around the time when the first book was published. Got about 100 pages in then had to stop. It was so jarring to read (I will explain in a tick, bear with me). But I wanted to try again and after the whole Page 112 Tag (and my Other Half picking it when I got super stuck), I wasn't sure if this was going to work with me...

The biggest issue that I worried about (and this is the reason why I DNF the first time and the reason why I struggled/nearly DNF this time round) is the style of this book. It isn't written like other books. It is written solely in reports, emails, interview transcripts, DM/IM, diary entries, classified documents to name a few. And because it's written in this style, it works both in favour and against the story. It takes time for you to get your head round the style - around 100 to 150 pages - and because of this, you have to go slower and the pacing feels off and it feels jarring. The whole start feels jarring because you want to get use to the book's style and the story but you can't connect to it till you get the book's rhyme.

I am going to admit this, reading the first 100-150 pages was a struggle. There was one or two occasions I did consider DNFing to because I couldn't get my head round it. But something clicked and I went "OH!" and it made my reading experience with this book interesting. I got it and it made the story go quicker. Plus, it was hugely different to read a book made completely out of reports and documents. It makes this book feel unique in the scifi genre - I do hope this isn't going to become a gimmick through the trilogy.

The story itself is interesting. Yes, there are one or two of you out there who have said it's a bit flat, character-wise, and the plot is quite cliche, and I understand why. This is a file, full of documents so the characters and the plot are going to feel more flat and distant compared to most books. The weird thing is once I found my groove in how to read this, I couldn't stop thinking about it and trying to find moments to read one more page...

I am going to say that, because of how it's written, this book is one trippy read. This book is very much a marmite read - you are either going to really enjoy its uniqueness or you are going to hate it and struggle like heck. There is no middle ground here.

So, am I going to read the rest of the series (Gemina and Obsidio)? Well... yes. Yes, I am. The publisher, Rock the Boat, has sent me the entire series so can jump right back in (but am going to read a few other things before I do), but to find a scifi book or series that clicks with me is kinda rare - like I said, I am a fantasy/contemporary YA reader - so to want to find out what happens next is super rare. My only concern is that I hope this style of writing isn't going to be become a gimmick and Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff keep it fresh and new and engaging...

Monday, 16 April 2018

The Page 112 Tag


You can blame Simon from SavageReads for this. I saw this on his YouTube Channel (if you haven't subscribe to him, you MUST!) and went "That is GENUIS! I LOVE IT! I HAVE TO DO THIS!!!". So, I have been trying to do it. But it's only taken me till now to do it! IT'S BEEN A LONG BLOODY TIME COMING! Plus, with the sudden fantasy reading funk I was in last month. I thought this would be a perfect way to get me back into that world that I think am ready to return too...

Basically, you get several books and you read page 112 from each book. Just that page. Nothing else. Because, around that page, that's when you get a good feel for the book. So, you read only that page and, once you've read all the books, you decide which book you want to read based SOLELY on that page. I used this around new year to buy a few books in Waterstones and it was such a good move. I think I will be using this trick when book shopping in future...

Because of this, using my eReader is a little out of the question (is there an eBook version of this tag? If there is, LET ME KNOW! I got a new Kindle for Christmas from my Other Half and I wanna use it!), but I have a good number of physical books on my TBR shelves (even after a mini-book cull) that I want to read! So, here at my choices for this tag!


Also, to make things a bit easier for me writing this post and you reading it, am going to only write up my thoughts and reactions in one sentence/one or two words to make it easier. So, let's get this party started!

THE IRON CAST by Destiny Soria
Reaction: Ooooh! This is good. Am intrigued over these characters and the situation they're in... This surprised me a lot! 

WITCHES ABOARD by Terry Pratchett
Reaction: Hmm. I feel safe reading Pratchett And I think I will be fine with this but in two minds. Out of the two, Iron Cast has the edge... 

THE MAGICIANS' GUILD by Trudi Canavan
Reaction: Hmmm... I'm not sure am in right mood for this one, but I know that, when I am, I will devour this book whole. 

ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Reaction: It's the last page of a report and intrigued. I think this series will be one weird reading experience so this might be a good place to start but we shall see... 

THE BELLES by Dhonielle Clayton
Reaction: The writing is lush and I think I can get on board with this. It might not be a fast read but I can handle that.

THE SMOKE THIEVES by Sally Green
Reaction: Well, that wasn't what I was expecting. I loved Sally's Half Bad trilogy so reading this was a surprise. I do think I will like this, but not sure how I feel about reading it now...

CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi
Reaction: ****! This was good, but a few others were good as well and I know I can read any of these and be happy! NOW WHAT?! 

DANG IT! After reading all these, I have four that could be perfect reading for my mood. Maybe 3 at a push. And those 4 are... 


So now what? I could ask my Other Half to pick one for me or I could read the first sentence of the four books. So... I read the first sentence and, after getting torn (again), shouted at my Other Half to pick a random number between one and four. He choose 3 so he picked... 

ILLUMINAE!

Hopefully, this will grab me by the throat and refuse to let me go. Fingers crossed. If not, we shall see what I do next... Am leaning towards Iron Cast and not sure why, but this was fun. In a weird way. Am going to have to do this again in future... 

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Legendary Ladies Contest

I'm BACK!!! Did you miss me? No? Rude!

Anyway, to kickstart my return, I have a small contest for you guys! And it's celebrate badass women  and goddesses!

Legendary Ladies: 50 Goddesses To Empower and Inspire You looks at goddesses from mythology round the world - such as Artemis from Greek mythology, Mazu from Chinese, Kali from Hindu and Oshun from Yoruba among others - to inspire and make readers channel their Inner Goddess (and not in the Fifty Shades of Grey way!).

To celebrate this blog tour of Legendary Ladies, I am hosting a small contest, all thanks to Faye Rogers PR and Chronicle Books. I am giving away a copy of Legendary Ladies, a copy go Bad Girls Throughout History and some Bad Girls stationery!

And all you have to do is fill in the form below!

Ok, the boring stuff. This contest will close this coming Friday (20th April 2018) at around 7pm. The winner will be chosen at random by Random.org and once chosen, the winner will be announced on Twitter. I will email the winner for their postal address so the publisher can send their winnings to them.

With all that out of the way, good luck to everyone who's going to enter and may the odds be in your favour.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

RSM - The Easter Edition

You guys have probably seen this coming for a while as I have been mentioning it for the past few weeks, but I am going to take the next few weeks off from the blog.

As much as I want to say "I feel OH-SO-GUILTY for taking a break from my blog", I'm not. I'm actually quite looking forward to it. Things are happening behind the scenes in that awful thing we call real life and I want to not worry about them and the blog.

But I always kinda knew I was going to take this break from the blog due to Easter and holiday am taking with my Other Half's family (there will be heat and sunshine so I will be hiding in the shade, hissing at the hideous yellow ball in the sky) so it just made sense to have this little break now.

Hopefully, I will have my laptop with me so can still write stuff and use them for future posts and I will hopefully be out of my fantasy reading slump so I have, since the beginning of the year, know what book I want to take with me (barring my kindle, of course) and that book is Priestess of the White by Trudi Canavan. And this is fantasy and I NEED to get out of my fantasy slump before I go away - I have back-up reads just in case but... I WANNA READ THIS BOOK!!! Magic, religion, Gods - what more can I ask for?

So, yes... am taking a tiny blog holiday. At the moment, am thinking two weeks. I might have one/two posts scheduled (not sure at time of writing this) so don't be surprised if something does pop up on the blog.

But then, don't be surprised if nothing pops up or my blog holiday goes over two weeks. I will be on Twitter and Instagram so don't worry too much. If anything happens, will tweet.

But before I go, I just wanna say thank you for reading my blog. Yes, I know it sounds corny and there's probably double meaning which will make one or two of you go "IS HE QUITTING?!" (am not), but I don't say thank you enough to you guys for reading my blog/twitter/instagram/facebook/pinterest/goodreads (wow! I need to maybe cull one or two of my social medias! *eyes Facebook for some unknown reason*) and doing involved. You guys rock!

Thank you again and I hope you have a lovely Easter and enjoy the next few weeks of quiet. But before I leave you, random rabbit gif to show me running away to my holiday? ... why not!

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

eBook Review - A Maigret Christmas

My fantasy reading funk is getting weird and out of hand. That's not a bad thing as it made me look at stories I bought or have advance reader copies of (physical and ebook) and, because I wanted something fast and outside my comfort zone, this called to me from my kindle folder "NetGalley TBR" (am trying to get myself organised for once!) and went "Ok, let's try this."

In this bind-up, we have three stories. Two novellas and one short story, set around the time of Christmas. The first is the titled story - following Inspector Maigret one Christmas Day when two neighbours come over and say a little girl saw Father Christmas that night. He gave her a doll but was pulling up some floorboards...

The second is Seven Crosses In A Notebook which follows a policeman at a switchboard, looking into as case that could involve his family. The third and final story is The Little Restaurant In Les Ternes (A Christmas Story for Grown Up), which follows two women after they witness a suicide.

Now, I have problems with my reading experience as my eProof only had A Maigret Christmas. And even though, I'm not 100% certain I got the full version - the story ended quite abruptly, hence my uncertainty on whether to write my thoughts and reactions to this. But, am going to talk about my experience with Maigret Christmas and hope that's alright. But am warning you now, am only talking about this one story so take what I say with caution.

I'm not a huge crime reader. I like reading crime but I don't do it as often as I like. So, trying this out ticked some of my boxes. It's crime, it's a translation and people are become aware of this (with thanks to ITV recent adaption of some of the books in the Maigret series). Hence why I tried it.

This is an odd creature as I liked elements of it, and then there were other elements that didn't work for me. I'm quite fickle when it comes to reading crime. I liked the translation work as it didn't feel false. The characters intrigued me.

But - and this is a big but - I found reading this a struggle. Maybe it's because I'm not used to reading this type of mystery, but it was a slog for me to read. I would always be checking the line at the bottom of my kindle, telling me how much I had read and how much more I had to read. I never felt really connected to the story.

But this is my opinion and I only read one story. Who knows? I might try reading Georges Simenon in the future and it would click for me, but this wasn't for me. But if you don't try new things, who will know if you like them or not? So, am glad I tried something new!