5-Word Wrap Ups | October 2016

I am going to try out this thing where I review my month’s reads in five words. Like a review for those on the move that don’t have time to read 573 paragraphs to learn if a book is worth their time or not.

  1. Poison Princess by Kresley Cole – Apocalytpic storytelling from a teenager
  2. Endless Knight by Kresley Cole – Why I’m attracted to Death
  3. Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole – End of the World Bachelorette
  4. Goodwood by Holly Throsby – Small town people, big problems
  5. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga – It’s all in the title
  6. V for Violet by Alison Rattle – History without too much mystery
  7. The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout – A little racist and predictable
  8. Jack West Jr and the Hero’s Helmet by Matthew Reilly – A cute little Jack interlude
  9. The Four Legendary Kingdoms by Matthew Reilly – All of the fucking yes!
  10. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler – “Modern” must be a exaggeration

Is it useful?

Does it make you want to read any of them?

Any that you will now avoid?

What was your favourite book of October?

 

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October Reviews | 15 October – 21 October 2016

V for Violet | Alison Rattle | 15 October 2016 | 3 stars

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I started this week with V for Violet by Alison Rattle. I usually put in a book blurb so you can see for yourself if you would be interested. After reading the book I decided the best thing I could do for you is not tell you because any description you read is about 78% spoiler. No joke. They give away a bunch of things in the blurb which are meant to be secret and mysterious.

So I am here to tell you DON’T READ ANY GOSH DARN BLURBS FOR THIS BOOK!!

I will tell you that it a historical murder mystery set in Ireland and that is all you need to know.

I liked that I was reading about a character that wasn’t very likeable (no idea if that was on purpose or not) – she’s so angry and a little angsty and she reminded me of me at her age. “No one understands me, my interests are different, why don’t I fit in”…the whole shebang!

It’s hard looking at an historically-set book with a modern brain because all my feminist hackles are raised by the quite disgusting sexism and victim blaming in the book, but at least it feels a bit more historically accurate by not shying away from it. It’s tough being a proud and disgusted reader at the same time.

The romance is a bit insta-lovey but it wasn’t the focus of the book so it didn’t phase me too much. Just a tiny bit of an eye-roll occurred over the main character falling for the “bad boy”.

The Problem With Forever | Jennifer L Armentrout | 18 October 2016 | 2.5 stars

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“When Mallory was a kid, she was bounced from one horrible foster home to another. At thirteen, a terrible accident got her removed from the group home where she was living to a hospital where she met the parents who would adopt her. But when she starts a new school and encounters an old friend from the foster system sparks start to fly.”

I found that there was nothing overly wrong with this book, but after reading some reviews I realised that she was not great – sometimes even offensive – at representing Puerto Rican people. Knowing nothing about their culture I didn’t want to make some misinformed judgements about it, this is just a warning for those that may find themselves really offended by it.

My main issue was that it was just really predictable. Within 50 pages I had predicted almost every single thing that would occur in it. Conversations and thoughts were repetitive and it made the story drag on a bit. Only so much internalised agonising by the protagonist can be handled by me. People can struggle to converse in social situations and still think straight instead of being a complete mess at all times.

I don’t feel like this story added anything new or unique to our understanding of children welfare in America or things like social anxiety.

Like I said, not a great book, not a bad one, just majorly average.

Jack West Jr and the Hero’s Helmet | Matthew Reilly | 19 October 2016 | 4 stars

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“Late on Christmas Eve, decorated SAS officer and Egyptologist Jack West Jr is about to make a discovery that could rewrite history.

In the ancient Temple of Dendur, housed in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, a legendary weapon has lain hidden for millennia.

But Jack is not the only person who knows about the artifact’s existence. As Jack examines the temple in the deserted museum, he is watched by a mysterious figure. A man intent on stopping him at any cost.”

THE HISTORY OF HOW JACKY BOY GOT HIS HELMET!! ALL THE SCREAMING!!!

Please tell me there are other Matthew Reilly fans here because this man writes the most fucking epic books! And I refuse to apologise for swearing. He deserves to be sworn over.

This was just a 20ish-page badass interlude that you can find here. It acts as a reintroduction to Jack and other characters (because sweet baby chestnuts it has been ages since the last book). I lubbed it ❤

The Four Legendary Kingdoms | Matthew Reilly | 21 October 2016 | 4.75 stars

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“There are sixteen contestants, but only one will survive.

The last thing Jack West Jr remembers is arriving for a meeting at a top-secret military base with his family in tow.

Now he awakes to find himself in a hellish scenario. Jack has been selected to take part in the Games, a series of deadly challenges designed to fulfil an ancient ritual. If he chooses not to compete, both he and his daughter will be killed.

With the fate of the Earth at stake, Jack will have to traverse diabolical mazes, fight ruthless assassins and face unimaginable horrors that will test him to the limit.

In the process, he will discover the mysterious and powerful group of individuals behind it all: the four legendary kingdoms.”

Well this is a first.

I legitimately felt giddy while reading this. Giddy. I only get this excited when squealing over smoochy kitties. It’s probably weird that I was smiling as much as I was while reading about a bunch of dudes murdering each other, but I like me for me 😉

But this, THIS, was everything. Worth the 63 million year wait.

Myth, action, heroes, legends, death, bizarre-o science that I don’t know even where to begin for fact-checking purposes, more death, friends, enemies, even more death.
Well, compared to his other books the death count isn’t actually that high. He didn’t George RR Martin us!

If you are reading this I don’t think you need to be told to read Reilly’s books, but I’m going to anyway. READ THE THINGS!

October Reviews | 8 October – 14 October 2016

Goodwood | Holly Throsby | 8 October 2016 | 2.5 stars

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“Goodwood is a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone. It’s a place where it’s impossible to keep a secret.

In 1992, when Jean Brown is seventeen, a terrible thing happens. Two terrible things. Rosie White, the coolest girl in town, vanishes overnight. One week later, Goodwood’s most popular resident, Bart McDonald, sets off on a fishing trip and never comes home.

People die in Goodwood, of course, but never like this. They don’t just disappear.

As the intensity of speculation about the fates of Rosie and Bart heightens, Jean, who is keeping secrets of her own, and the rest of Goodwood are left reeling.”

I received this book as an review copy in a Dymocks competition and I was so ridiculously excited. I am in the middle of this giant crime binge and I thought it would be right up my alley. This book took forever to read – like 18 days – and I was a little let down by the end of it.

‘Chaotic’ is how I would best describe this book.

It’s like we are seeing events unfold through Evie’s eyes but she doesn’t feel like the protagonist, just a narrator. She was basically the relayer of information without being emotionally/physically affected by the missing people. The stronger chapters were those with Mack and Davo or Judy and Mrs Bart because I could feel the emotional trauma caused by the missing people.

Evie’s self-discovery being intertwined with the unravelling of the mystery of the two missing people didn’t feel right for me – almost like two different stories were mashed together incohesively.

It flips between characters and between tenses but there were no strong individual voices between them – I felt like I was being told events in the same tone so everyone blended together and it would take me time to discern that the narrator had changed.

I was expecting a mystery but the mystery element wasn’t too strong. I felt like this was more an exploration of the underbelly of suburbia. So if you are in people’s psyches then this may be more up your alley.

I Hunt Killers | Barry Lyga | 12 October 2016 | 4.25 stars

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“Jazz is a likable teenager. A charmer, some might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, “Take Your Son to Work Day” was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminals’ point of view.

And now, even though Dad has been in jail for years, bodies are piling up in the sleepy town of Lobo’s Nod. Again.

In an effort to prove murder doesn’t run in the family, Jazz joins the police in the hunt for this new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows?”

This, this, is what I’ve been needing in my life!

If this is what it’s really like in the head of a sociopath then consider me terrified. Jazz fully understands that he grew up in a fairly unhealthy environment and it shaped him. He is manipulative, obsessive, cunning and intelligent.

I love that this book boils down to a kid on the road to self-discovery but he is trying to figure out if he is or is not a killer. He knows that he is capable, but it’s an actual effort to remind himself that people matter. Not something the average Joe needs to worry about! It’s a book about choices – about nature vs nurture.

I thought the crime was interesting and well-plotted. Just an all-around pretty great book about killers and definitely a series that I need to continue.

October Reviews | 1 October – 7 October 2016

Perhaps a month of average books was necessary. My theory is that the more I read the harder it is for me to be impressed, intrigued and excited by a book.

My month began with the first three books in the Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole. Cole is one of my favourite supernatural romance authors but I have not been the biggest fan of her foray into YA.

So far it is has been the weirdest mix of post-apocalyptic, dystopia, fantasy and supernatural. I was overcome by how many elements there were and, although there was nothing inherently wrong with the way they meshed together, not enough time is devoted to each element because the “romance” overrides everything.

Poison Princess | Kresley Cole | 4 October 2016 | 3 stars

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“Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future-and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Derveaux.”

This was actually a fairly strong start to the series. I could feel Evie struggling with her hallucinations and the setting was clear in my head. I even liked the storytelling element. We are told from the start not to trust her version of events and there is nothing I like more than a purposefully-written unreliable narrator.

What let me down was the relationship drama. There is just so much petty jealousy and so many irritating conversations (both internal and external) about what certain characters did or didn’t do, and who they do and don’t like. Dudes. The world is ending. Finding food and water is a struggle. You are creating vegetables with your blood. You have bigger issues. This is a theme that ran throughout the three books and something I constantly struggled with.

Endless Knight | Kresley Cole | 5 October 2016 | 2.5 stars

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“Evie has fully come into her powers as the tarot Empress. And Jack was there to see it all. In the aftermath of killing Arthur, Evie realizes that there is a war brewing between the teens who’ve been given powers following the apocalypse, and it’s kill or be killed. When Evie meets Death, the gorgeous and dangerous Endless Knight, things get even more complicated. Somehow the Empress and Death share a romantic history. One that Evie can’t remember, but Death can’t forget. Evie is drawn to Death, but in love with Jack. She is determined to discover why she’s been granted these powers, and in the process, struggles to accept her place in the prophecy that will either save the world, or destroy it.”

And here cometh the love triangle *eyes roll right out of my head*

The second installment in the series was good at exploring the universe more and the history of these tarot kids – unfortunately it was through the lens of Death’s and Evie’s history. Now, I am a hopeless fangirl who can’t help but choose a side and I love me a bad boy, so I am all about the Death.

This book was also good at exploring the “evil” side of this to-the-death game. Everything is not black and white and everyone has different motives and a different sense of morality and ethics. I liked the sense of discovery in this book.

It was very dragged out though. And repetitive. And very “I broke up with you in my head therefore I feel free to do what I want with whomever I choose because I am 17 and can adult”. I just did not have time for Evie’s shit. I just want her to have a bit more backbone. Go, FUCK ALL THESE BOY PROBLEMS and get her shit together.

Dead of Winter | Kresley Cole | 6 October 2016 | 2 stars

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“Evie was almost seduced by the life of comfort that Death offered her—until Jack was threatened by two of the most horrific Arcana, the Lovers. She will do anything to save him, even escape Death’s uncanny prison, full of beautiful objects, material comforts…and stolen glances from a former love.”

And this is where I went “HELL TO THE NOPETY NOPE!!” It was legitimately an entire book about “Which boy will Evie choose?” I could even feel her exhaustion with it. And I was sitting there the entire time wondering why she should have to choose anyone at all. There was also some sort of incestuous evil twin thing going on but that was sort of glanced over because WHICH BOY?!?!

So, yeah. I think I have given up, despite there being another two or three books. I was tired and no longer cared what happened to the characters. Because, quite frankly, they were all fairly rank, desperate and fighting over a girl who is wishy-washy and condescending towards a character with Asperger’s.

Book Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

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Title: The Bone Season

Author: Samantha Shannon

Rating: 8.2/10

This book is really difficult to describe so I am just going to leave the Goodreads description here:

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.
It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

That is literally as simple as it gets! I also want to say that my rating is more of a reflection of the book’s potential. If it was a stand-alone novel my interpretation would be different and the rating would have been lower.

Let’s start with the main character – Paige Mahoney. This is definitely one of those moments where there is great potential. Paige has a fairly weak personality in the majority of this book, despite being a pretty fierce fighter. I feel like she is easily manipulated, especially by Jaxon – through most of the book you are thinking about how obvious it is that Jaxon is using her and you are confused as to why she would be okay with this sort of treatment. You later find out that she thinks that her power is her only value; her self confidence is non-existent. This is why I am hoping that there is some major character development in the next booksy (WHICH I AM DYING TO READ!)

This has also carried over to the very obvious relationship that builds between Warden and herself. The events of the book occur over 6 months which is a believable time for a relationship to develop, but it seems to occur very quickly after 5.9 months of intense hatred and distrust. In their last moments together she realises that Warden likes her for her and not for her power and then BAM! Ovaries want to get in on that. It’s reactive emotion, not proactive, and that makes me question the emotions guiding her. It reads like she only likes him because he is the only one that has ever liked her. It’s just a little sad and icky to read.

Warden is a character I am excited to learn more about. He spent most of the book as a blank slate. You don’t really know who he is. You don’t know his motivations. You don’t find out much about his background except that he has helped humans in the past. Paige even discovers that there is nothing really going on inside his head (his “dreamspace”). No wonder there is going to be 7 books in this series when so much more needs to be explained.

The universe is really confusing. There seem to be three tiers – the clairvoyants, the humans and the Rephaim. But there are a gazillion different types of clairvoyants. Every time a new one was described the information did not sink in and I prayed that the information wasn’t going to be needed for the future. I am just going to hope that they will always be explained in future references because I don’t have a memory palace to store that info!

Which leads me to the major information dumping that takes place – which I know is necessary when introduced to a new book universe. I found that I became more comfortable with the terminology used the more that I read, but I know that there was a lot that I did not comprehend in those first few chapters and it makes me sad that others may be put off the book because of it.

The idea behind the story is very good. I love the concept of clairvoyants being a reality (and a threat to society) and I think it blends well with the concept of aliens (if that’s what they turn out to be – we still aren’t 100% sure about that one). I love that it is set in England! The cockney slang is hilarious to read and turns the book into a weird dystopian/sci-fi/steampunk/supernatural hybrid that really works.

So yeah… a promising start to what will hopefully be an excellent series.

Book Review: Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

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Book: Maybe Someday

Author: Colleen Hoover

Rating: 9.8/10

I don’t even know where to start with this. So much love was felt for this book – on my CoHo scale it sits right beneath Ugly Love but above Hopeless.

CoHo Book Scale

This was definitely more of a romance than her other books, in that it was more about the relationship developing than about sexy-times or dealing with major life issues. I suppose that it makes it unique in that the two main characters aren’t bonding over their tragic circumstances; they seem to have a genuine connection that grows over their love of music.

This is one of the rare times when I have not absolutely loathed a love triangle in a story. I feel that a lot of the time it is used to add unnecessary tension and drama to a story. Yes, it is basically what drives this story, but it feels inevitable. Our male protagonist – Ridge – is a sweet, sensitive, funny and attractive guy. It is not a far-fetched idea that he would already be in a relationship, and with somebody as equally awesome as he is. This poor guy has two very different feelings of love towards two very different women and Hoover handled it beautifully. I must commend her for not taking the easy way out and making the other female – Maggie – somebody who would be easy to hate. Quite the opposite, she is adorable and fun, and in some ways perfect for Ridge.

Our female protagonist – Sydney has some great and some terrible qualities. I probably shouldn’t like it, but I love that she got a little violent. If her douchebag boyfriend cheated on her and she took it meekly I would have been mad on her behalf. (But yes, violence against others is BAD!) I like that she knows that she needs independence in her life. It’s also cool that she is following her own path in life even though it goes against her parents’ wishes and it makes life a little more difficult or her. What I don’t like is her attitude towards other women in the book. The first time she meets Tori (her new roommate) she looks down on her for what she is wearing – “being bossed around by a bitchy Hooters waitress.” Way to belittle someone based on nothing substantial. Sorry we can’t all be Susie Sunshine 24/7.

On a side note, can I just say that I am really glad that Tori has her own book (Maybe Not) because she was basically used as a prop against Sydney during the entire book – a “look how good I am compared to her” sort of thing.

The love triangle did develop and end in a fairly predictable manner, but it was still amazing to read. These two characters – Ridge and Sydney – develop feelings for each other quite naturally and they know it is wrong and everyone knows that Maggie doesn’t deserve it and it goes against their basic nature to be cheaters. It is just three amazing people in an impossible situation…until it isn’t impossible 😉

There is an element of the book I didn’t get to experience and that was the music that was created for the novel to listen to while you read it. Next time I read this book (and there will be a next time) I will come back and see how much it affects the story and reading experience.

Book Review: Winger by Andrew Smith

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Title: Winger

Author: Andrew Smith

Rating: 9.7/10

 

THIS WAS SUCH A GOOD READ AND I DID NOT WANT IT TO BE OVER!!

Characters

Ryan Dean West, also known as “Winger”, is magnificent and flawed, which just makes him all the more perfect. I can’t even deal with my love for this kid. He is 14 years old but is advanced. Being a sarcastic, funny, jock-ish genius isn’t easy. One of his greatest characteristics is that he is frightened of a lot of things but he still does whatever he feels he must – even if it means tackling someone twice his size.

Ryan Dean (that’s his entire first name … don’t ask) is, like many teenage boys, obsessed with the ladies. His main love interest is a lass called Annie Altman. The writing was good enough that I believed that he was in love with her, but I didn’t understand her appeal – she pretty much spends the entire book calling him a pervert (which he is), telling him to shut up (which he should) and talking about how she can’t love him because of the age difference (which is lame) – I just didn’t feel like she was a well-rounded character.

Chas Becker is Ryan Dean’s room mate and *sometimes* tormentor. JP and Seanie are his friends and *constant* douchebags. Joey Cosentina is his best friend and *always* beautiful. The dynamics between everyone in the story are great. You expect Ryan Dean to be teased mercilessly and bullied – and he is – but there are also levels of respect coming from unexpected people, while people who should be looking out for him are the ones betraying him.

Story

It is a fairly simplistic story – it could be labelled a “coming of age” story if one felt inclined to do so – but Lorde is it a great one. It is set in the US but it feels like a British boarding school because of all the hijinks and whatnot. What amazed me was the epic change in tone that the story has right near the end. Without giving away any spoilers, the majority of the story is comedic, even melodramatic sometimes, and then BAM! it’s a little frightening and a lot tense.

Basically, the story broke my heart.

Writing

Some of the writing was a little tedious and repetitive – this was generally Ryan Dean mooning over the hotness of some female – but it was always quirky, witty and funny so I wasn’t overly bothered by it. I was constantly laughing throughout the entire book. The sketches were a brilliant addition – in the story Ryan Dean likes to draw cartoons and us readers get to see these! It’s such an amazing contribution and gives us greater insight into the comedic genius that is Ryan Dean.

 

This will definitely be a story I reread, and probably soon. I read it so quickly because I felt I had to absorb as much as I possibly could as quickly as I could. Now I need to go hug my kitty and cry for a while. You understand.