Recent Reads #Minibookreviews

Recentreads

Here are some thoughts on my recently read books

 

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Chiff Chaff // David Barnard //  February 2018 // Troubador Publishing // Goodreads

I really wanted to love this quirky book because I’m kind of obsessed with Orkney and Shetland. Not that I’ve been, but I’m pretty sure my dream home is around there somewhere.

Sadly, I just couldn’t get into Chiff Chaff and had to DNF.  I didn’t even make it to the Chaff!

The writing was interesting. I liked the use of dialect and the descriptions of the landscape, but the 16 year old narrator in the first part of the book was too repetitive and muddling for my liking. It was too much effort to figure out what was going on, so I admit it – I gave up. A great idea, but it didn’t work for me. 

unicorn rating 2

 

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Final Draft // Riley Redgate // June 2018 // Amulet Books // Goodreads

It’s always interesting reviewing books a long time after you’ve read them. It really shows whether the book has staying power or not, especially for someone like me with terrible memory!

I read Final Draft in May, and while I probably couldn’t give you a concise synopsis, parts of it have definitely stayed with me. Laila was a great protagonist full of complexities and heart. She is probably the most diverse character I’ve ever read being pansexual, biracial, Ecuadorian, suffering from anxiety, and plus size, but I never felt like it was a tick-box-of-diversity book – Redgate made Laila 100% real. It’s a wonderfully modern coming-of-age story for anyone who’s ever felt different. So basically, for everyone, right? 

unicorn rating 4

 

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Leah on the Offbeat // Becky Albertalli // Creekwood #2 // April 2018 //  Balzer + Bray // Goodreads

The highly anticipated companion novel to best-seller Simon Vs was everything I hoped. In fact, I think I preferred it to the first book. Leah is like my spirit animal, I need her to be my bff. Maybe I can join her band…

Anywayyyy, in this Creekwood instalment, Leah takes the centre stage as she tries to keep her band together and figure out who the hell she is. I thought one of the most interesting parts of this story was that Leah is out (as bi) to her mum, but is struggling to tell her best friends, especially recently out Simon. It’s usually the other way round in coming-out stories. I guess it shows how much she thinks of her friends. 

Leah…is one of those great books that takes you right back to how it feels to be a teenager  approaching the end of high school. On one hand relief, on the other, crippling fear of the unknown and the inevitable fracturing of friendship groups. Another perfectly-crafted book portraying the complexities of friendships and growing-up by new fave Becky Albertalli. 

unicorn rating 4

Have you read any of these? Let me know what you thought!

Other reviews you may be interested in: Simon Vs the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli // The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee and others

 

 

Reading Round-up: March/April 2018, part 2 #minibookreviews

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I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but I’ve been pretty rubbish at posting reviews lately. I unfortunately don’t have the time (or the motivation) at the moment. I would, however, like to share a few thoughts on some of my recent reads…

 

Anything You Do Say ~ Gillian McAllister

I had heard nothing but good things about Gillian McAllister’s thrillers, and this one was my first. I was absolutely captivated from the very first page. It’s a simple concept which begs the question what you would do if you critically hurt someone by accident? Would you try to help them and turn yourself in? Or would you leave them for dead and hope it’s never traced back to you?

It’s such a tragic dilemma, and I couldn’t stop reading. What I loved the most about it was that there’s no easy answer, and no simple outcome. Both versions of the story are fraught with grief, loss and terror, but show that the human spirit can survive more than you may think.

unicorn rating

 

The Language of Thorns ~ Leigh Bardugo

This book is so beautiful, I almost didn’t care what was inside! But of course, I did a little. This is a collection of fairy tales from the Grisha world created by Bardugo in her Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows duology. To write a collection of fairy tales and myths that her characters may have heard as children like we’ve heard variations of Grimm’s and Andersen’s just shows how vast and complete Bardugo’s world building is, and for this alone I was impressed.

However, I wasn’t as impressed by the stories as I was the concept. A couple of them were fun, and compelling but the rest fell flat for me. Thankfully, the stunning illustrations, and beautiful cover (in hardback) more than made up for it. I think it’s a book you’ll want to keep on your shelves to look at, rather than reread.

unicorn rating 3

Have you read either of these? Let me know what you thought?

 

Mini Reviews #BooksReviews #readingroundup #2018Reads

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but I’ve been pretty rubbish at posting reviews lately. I unfortunately don’t have the time (or the motivation) at the moment. I would, however, like to share a few thoughts on some of my recent reads…

 

 

Flood & Fang (The Raven Mysteries #1) by Marcus Sedgwick

This is was fun, middle grade read, with a gothic vibe – of such the kind that Sedgwick is so good at. The illustrations were inspired, too. Fans of the likes of The Addam’s Family will be sure to love this series.

unicorn rating 4

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I’m not always a fan of Fae books, unless they are written by Holly Black. And she’s done it again! The Cruel Prince is a beguiling, thrilling, and often uncomfortable read (how would you cope with living somewhere surrounded by people who could literally force you to do anything they wanted!?). Full of visceral descriptions and real, interesting characters, Holly Black’s world of Faery is a brutal beast, and one that’s hard to put down.

 

 

Scarecrow by Danny Weston

I was slightly disappointed by this YA book, simply because I thought it was going to be a horror, or at least a gripping fantasy-thriller from the cover art, but I was mistaken. I also picked it up because I liked the sound of the setting – a remote cabin in the Highlands, but the setting wasn’t explored much either. However, it was a fast-paced story with good characterisation, including Philbert, the talking scarecrow, who can either save the day, or make the protagonist look increasingly insane…

unicorn rating 3

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell

This was my first taste of Rainbow Rowell’s work – a long time coming. These two short tales set around New Year were both adorable and compelling, with beautiful pencil illustrations. I can tell even from these short stories that Rowell is a master of creating complicated, diverse and entirely realistic teenage characters. I’ll definitely read more of hers now.

unicorn rating 4

Reading Round-up: August 2017 #MiniReviews

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Welcome to my monthly post where I discuss any books that I read during the month which for one reason or another didn’t get the full review treatment. This is a way for me to keep track of what I’ve read but without the pressure of having to write comprehensive reviews for every single book. 

There were three books that I read but didn’t get round to reviewing in August…

Spectacles ~ Sue Perkins

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When I began writing this book, I went home to see if my mum had kept some of my stuff. What I found was that she hadn’t kept some of it. She had kept all of it – every bus ticket, postcard, school report – from the moment I was born to the moment I finally had the confidence to turn round and say ‘Why is our house full of this shit?’

Sadly, a recycling ‘incident’ destroyed the bulk of this archive. This has meant two things: firstly, Dear Reader, you will never get to see countless drawings of wizards, read a poem about corn on the cob, or marvel at the kilos of brown flowers I so lovingly pressed as a child. Secondly, it’s left me with no choice but to actually write this thing myself.

This, my first ever book, will answer questions such as ‘Is Mary Berry real?’, ‘Is it true you wear a surgical truss?’ and ‘Is a non-spherically symmetric gravitational pull from outside the observable universe responsible for some of the observed motion of large objects such as galactic clusters in the universe?’

Most of this book is true. I have, of course, amplified my more positive characteristics in an effort to make you like me. 

Thank you for reading.

This book was a total shock for me. I picked it up on a whim. I used to love Light Lunch (showing my age there) and also loved Sue in the Supersizers Eat series but other than that I didn’t know much about her, so I totally wasn’t expecting to get so hooked on this book. I couldn’t put it down and read it in about two sittings.

The beginning had me in stitches when Sue was talking about her family’s reaction to her writing a memoir, and there were lots of things I was surprised by in it, all carried off with Sue’s slightly self-deprecating, intelligent humour.

unicorn rating 4

 

Klaus Vogel and the Bad Lads ~ David Almond

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Fleeing persecution in his homeland, German refugee Klaus Vogel arrives in a small English town where the local gang take him under their wing. They call themselves the Bad Lads, but it’s all mischief and harmless tricks, never any real trouble.

But then leader Joe starts to encourage increasingly hateful pranks and Klaus has to make a stand for what he thinks is right.

Poignant and powerful tale set in the wake of World War II.

This was another one I picked up on a whim. It’s a short easy-read book which is dyslexia friendly that I found in my library. I’ve enjoyed a few of David Almond’s books before so I read this over a lunch break. It’s a nice story with a good message about bullying, persecution, and standing up for yourself and others.

unicorn rating 4

 

The Way it Hurts ~ Patty Blount

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There may be two sides to every story, but sometimes there’s only one way to set things right…

Music is Elijah’s life. His band plays loud and hard, and he’ll do anything to get them a big break. He needs that success to help take care of his sister, who has special needs. So he’d rather be practicing when his friends drag him to a musical in the next town…until the lead starts to sing.

Kristen dreams of a career on stage like her grandmother’s. She knows she needs an edge to get into a competitive theater program—and being the star in her high school musical isn’t going to cut it. The applause and the attention only encourage her to work harder.

Elijah can’t take his eyes off of Kristen’s performance, and he snaps a photo of her in costume that he posts online with a comment that everybody misunderstands. It goes viral. Suddenly, Elijah and Kristen are in a new spotlight as the online backlash spins out of control. And the consequences are bigger than they both could have ever imagined because these threats don’t stay online…they follow them into real life.

I’m afraid I didn’t get very far into this one. It’s nothing personal, I think I just wasn’t in the mood for a contemporary YA. The writing seemed fine but I didn’t gel with either of the protagonists at all, and all the integrated tweets and social media put me off. I’m sure this will be a hit for contemporary fans, but it wasn’t for me.

AOB

{that’s any other business for those of you that’ve never had the misfortune of having a job where people say that all the time}

 

 

Well, that really is a wrap on August now!  How did you get on?

Lazy Saturday Review: The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin #MiniReview

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I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

icedragonTitle: The Ice Dragon
Author: George RR Martin
Series: N/A
Format: Hardback, 128 pages
Publication Details: December 4th 2014 by Harper Voyager
Genre(s): Children’s; Fantasy
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads 

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From ancient times the ice dragon was a creature of legend and fear, for no man had ever tamed one. When it flew overhead, it left in its wake desolate cold and frozen land. But Adara was not afraid. For Adara was a winter child, born during the worst freeze that anyone, even the Old Ones, could remember.

Adara could not remember the first time she had seen the ice dragon. It seemed that it had always been in her life, glimpsed from afar as she played in the frigid snow long after the other children had fled the cold. In her fourth year she touched it, and in her fifth year she rode upon its broad, chilled back for the first time. Then, in her seventh year, on a calm summer day, fiery dragons from the North swooped down upon the peaceful farm that was Adara’s home. And only a winter child — and the ice dragon who loved her — could save her world from utter destruction. 

Review

This is a beautifully illustrated book (Luis Royo) from the Game of Thrones author. It’s a charming, short tale suitable for children and adults alike. I enjoyed it a lot.

Protagonist Adara was both adorable and strong and I loved that she was a sort of Winter princess, and the only one who can help defeat the dragons destroying the land. Full of rich mythology and folklore, this a much more accessible George RR Martin for those like me who are intimidated about starting the GoT books.

The illustrations are what really make this book special, and I think it would make a lovely gift. Especially for Christmas, with its celebration of Winter. Worth a read for sure.

unicorn rating 4

 

Reading Round-up: June 2017 #MiniBookReviews

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Welcome to my new post where I discuss any books that I read in the month which for one reason or another didn’t get the full review treatment. This is a way for me to keep track of what I’ve read but without the pressure of having to write comprehensive reviews for them all. 

There was only one book I read this month that I didn’t feel like reviewing in full…

The Winter King ~ Bernard Cornwell

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I never would have picked up a Bernard Cornwell book before I watched and enjoyed the TV adaptation of The Last Kingdom, but it made me think that maybe it’s my kind of thing after all. I also wasn’t aware that he’d written a trilogy based on King Arthur until I stumbled across this reissue at work, so I couldn’t resist picking it up.

I enjoyed a lot about this story of war in the time of Arthur, Mordred, Merlin and Guinevere, but for some reason it never fully grabbed my attention. I found Cornwell’s writing surprisingly beautiful, and I usually love most things Arthurian so I’m not sure why I couldn’t get into it. I did manage to struggle through, and was glad that I did but I’m not sure if I’ll pick up the other two books.

AOB

{that’s any other business for those of you that’ve never had the misfortune of having a job where people say that all the time}

 

Well, that’s a wrap on June, folks! How did you get on?

Reading Round-up: May 2017 #MiniBookReviews

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Welcome to my new post where I discuss any books that I read in the month which for one reason or another didn’t get the full review treatment. This is a way for me to keep track of what I’ve read but without the pressure of having to write comprehensive reviews for them all. 

There were only two books I read this month that I didn’t end up reviewing in full…

The Knife of Never Letting Go ~ Patrick Ness

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I loved this book the first time I read it and have wanted to reread it ever since but never seem to find the time to reread anything. I was therefore overjoyed when I got the audio book in my goodie bag at his new book launch. I enjoyed listening to it, but the narrator did annoy me a bit. He did a good job don’t get me wrong, but his voice was a bit irritating! This was my first ever audio book too, so it took a bit of getting used to. I haven’t been put off them, but I think I’ll stick to the books on this particular occasion.

The Time Machine ~ H.G Wells

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This was one of those books that I thought I’d read when I was younger but it turns out I hadn’t. I liked it a lot, especially seeing how much it has influenced science-fiction over the years and paved the way for sub-genres like Steampunk and Time-Travel novels. A true classic!

AOB

{that’s any other business for those of you that’ve never had the misfortune of having a job where people say that all the time}

Well, that’s a wrap on May, folks! How did you get on?