Monday, 29 August 2016

Book Review: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

The Watchmaker of Filigree StreetThe Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed about 80% of this book. It had some interesting characters and setting with a bit of a mystery surrounding the watchmaker, Mori, his craft and his abilities. Unfortunately the end of the book was confusing and disjointed and left me feeling quite unsatisfied.

Great premise and cover and the writing was quite good, so I would probably read more by this author.

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Saturday, 27 August 2016

Book Review: A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester

A Kiss from Mr FitzgeraldA Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Evie throws herself into New York and into a life that is completely shocking for the time (1922)... she decides she wants to be a Doctor. And not just any Doctor... and obstetrician! Add to this her night job as a Ziegfeld girl and you have a recipe for a book that embraces the glitz and glam of the time, while exploring the historical progression of women in the medical field.
This book is a lot of fun and has some great characters and romances, but it also deftly explores the role of women and medicine in the 1920s.
For those that have read Lester's previous work, I would say the writing is just as compelling, but the subject matter is much more "upbeat" I highly recommend this to Historical Fiction fans.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review, and to the author Natasha Lester for agreeing to participate in a give-away and Author Q&A with our book group, Nothing But Reading Challenges.

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Friday, 26 August 2016

Book review: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond FearBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I normally scoff at "self help" books, but I am now on the Elizabeth Gilbert bandwagon! Despite the genre, she says that she wrote the book for herself, and if that then helps others, then great. And this shows, because the book is not preachy, but it is interesting and delivered by her audio narration perfectly. I felt like I was sitting in a really comfortable theatre just listening to her talk.
Sometimes it is so important to read/listen to these types of books to put a deposit in our own emotional piggy bank and remember why creativity is so vital to our lives.

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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Book Review: Replica by Lauren Oliver

Replica (Replica, #1)Replica by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is two books ; one from Lyra's point of view, and then flip the book over and you get the same story but from Gemma's point of view. According to the note from the author you can read them as alternating chapters, or read one full POV and then the other. Cool, huh?
As I had an e-copy I read all of Lyra's POV first, and them Gemma's. At the end of Lyra's book I felt like something was missing and I was a bit disatisfied. So to then start Gemma's book, all of the pieces came together and I was totally enthralled and couldn't stop reading.

Lauren Oliver has a beautiful writing style, often descriptive without being "wordy", and at times even poetic. I didn't find this came through as much in this novel, but her imagination and creativity did. It is YA, so there is a bit of "insta-love" and some very convenient, but not quite believable, acts to keep the story flowing, but to be honest, it is such an easy and enjoyable read that this is totally forgivable.

A unique way to write a novel, and I'm looking forward to the next in the series!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Book Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first read this about two years ago and I really enjoyed it - kind of a cross between "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and "Oliver Twist" but set in an alternative world, somewhat like Venice in the 18th century, but with a small magical/fantasy element.

My memories of this were not clear enough to start book 2, so I decided to do a re-read and listened to the audio which is expertly and perfectly done. It is not often I re-read books, so it is a credit to the author and shows how much the "enjoyment" memory of reading this book remained even if the details didn't.

A great story, full of some black humour, a little bit of gore (but not too much), and lovable criminal characters.

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Friday, 12 August 2016

Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens AgendaSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book had a perfect mix of humour, realistic teen characters and an easy, fast pace. It was very reminiscent of John Green's style of writing in that it is simplistic (not in a bad way) which makes it very accessible and a fast read.
I thought this book would be good not just for teens, but also their parents, as it gives a pretty realistic portrayal of what goes on inside a confused 17 year old's mind.

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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Book Review: The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

The ChaperoneThe Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When this novel begins, it is 1922 and a middle-aged housewife from Kansas, Cora, volunteers to chaperone a 15 year old Louise Brooks across the country to New York City for a month. Louise is head-strong, flirtatious, and quite wild - the complete opposite of Cora and neither of them ever see eye to eye.

Spanning 60 years, although most of the book takes place between 1922 and 1929, we witness huge transformations in society through the eyes of Cora. This was my favourite part of the book, including being transported to a 1922 NYC summer.
We are also passengers to the awakening of Cora and her small town mindset during this short time in NYC, and how over the decades that shapes her life, although this is not obvious to most people around her.

Once I finished the book, I noted in the acknowledgements that Louise Brooks was a real historical figure, and so I did a bit of searching about her also. I like that this small part of history was injected into the book, and it made Louise's tale much sadder, but at the end of the day this is a book about Cora and how that one summer altered the rest of her life.

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Monday, 8 August 2016

Book Review: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal #1)Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Set in England during the Regency Era, where magic is a normal part of the world and yet is diminishing in England for an unknown reason... sound familiar? As much as there are similarities between the premise of this book and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, in my opinion, Clarke's work is far superior.
I struggled to engage with this book and it felt like quite a chore for a significant part. The only reason I finished it was because I was reading with others for a "Book of the Month" and so felt compelled to keep going.
Cho has chosen to write the book as not only set in that period, but also her style of writing. This does create a barrier while reading and makes it difficult for the story to flow.
More than that, I just really did not like the characters. And if I have no one to like, then it becomes impossible for me to enjoy the story.
Finally, this book had so many YA components that although the MCs are adults, I still feel the book should be marketed as YA. This did not work for me as an adult Fantasy book.

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Friday, 5 August 2016

Book Review: At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

At the Water's EdgeAt the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maddie is married to Ellis, and along with his best friend Hank, the trio are a selfish, spoilt, society set with no thought to WWII raging while they are cocooned in Philadelphia.
On a whim they decide to go to Scotland, and told through Maddie's eyes, this story explores their adventures looking for the Loch Ness Monster in a town where they are unwelcome and disliked. It is only Maddie who seems to start to understand their selfish ways and questions the life she is living.

I didn't like these three characters at all, and as the book went on, I warmed (just a little) to Maddie, but for the most part found her naivety eminently frustrating. The characters at the Inn in Scotland are lovely and well developed and the descriptions of the time period were very good.

The book just really lacked something for me. I didn't dislike it exactly, but I was just never really invested. Sara Gruen is a talented writer, but I much preferred Ape House and Water for Elephants.

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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Book Review: Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan

Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire #1)Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was really intrigued from the start with this world where humans (Rhunes) are seen as inferior to Fhrey (whom they treat as gods). In reality, the Fhrey are no different to humans, except they live a lot longer and they are able to access "The Arts" (a form of magic). And so as this first book in the series begins, a Rhune is able to kill a "God" (Fhrey) and therefore a clan of Rhunes discover that maybe there are more similarities than differences after all.
The characters are well developed and I particularly enjoyed the role of Suri who is a mystic and Persephone who is a very strong female leader.

At the beginning of the novel there is a few pages of "Author's notes" where Michael explains how the series has been written to completion, as he writes all the books at once, and his explanation of how and why he does this was really interesting. He also explains that this book is set 3000 years before his other series and you do not need to read the other series in order to read this one.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Fantasy novels where characters drive the plot, an interesting world but no needless pages of world-building, and a good pace.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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