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.