Recent Reads: Sept 18, Part 1 #BookReviews

 

Recentreads

Here are some thoughts on my recently read books – yes, I’m very behind!

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Midwinterblood // Marcus Sedgwick // October 2011 // Indigo // Goodreads

I’m a huge fan of Marcus Sedgwick. He’s written some of my favourite books (My Swordhand is Singing; Blood Red, Snow White; She is Not Invisible), and I’ve been slowly working my way through his back-catalogue. Midwinterblood had been on my list for a while and I’m pleased I finally got round to it.

It’s an odd book, and I mean that in the best way. It’s one of those books that’s like reading a dream. It explores the theme of soulmates in that deliciously dark tone that you’d recognise in Sedgwick’s early novels if you’ve read any. It’s mysterious and tantalising, in that as you encounter the several versions of the protagonist, the truth feels like an unobtainable thing. I found that this forced me to keep reading, but in some ways made me want to give up too.

The setting helped too. I wonder if Sedgwick had Fair Isle in mind as that’s all I could think of as I was reading which made it all the more mesmerising. 

I can’t say Midwinterblood is gripping in the normal way a thriller or mystery book is, but its strangeness made it impossible for me to stop reading. 

unicorn rating 4

 

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My Name is Leon // Kit De Waal // April 2017 // Penguin Books // Goodreads

I heard Kit De Waal talk at an event long before I picked up this book. She is a truly inspiring woman, so it’s no surprise that this novel, her first, was nominated for various awards. 

My Name is Leon what I class as a quiet novel. It’s a small story making a big point, but it’s not throwing that point down your throat. I think it was a great idea to set Leon’s story in the 80s. It highlights the mindset of that decade and lets us contrast it with today. Are we backtracking to that time in terms of equality and race relations? Would mixed-race Leon have had the same opportunities as his white brother today? Maybe.

The whole of this novel is written from nine-year-old Leon’s POV which can’t be easy, but De Waal does an excellent job. Leon can’t quite make sense of what is happening and he often misinterprets things and lashes out. It must have been tempting for De Waal to explain or rationalise Leon’s behaviour at times, but she does it perfectly and sensitively through his actions alone.

I didn’t find this a mind-blowing novel by any means, but I definitely enjoyed its big heart.  

unicorn rating 4

 

inkbonereview

Ink and Bone // Rachel Caine // The Great Library #1 // July 2015 //  Allison & Busby // Goodreads

This series is a book-lovers dream. Rachel Caine is most well known for her Morganville Vampires series, so this is quite a departure for her.

Ink and Bone introduces us to a world where owning physical books is illegal. All books,  are contained by The Great Library, and therefore knowledge within those books is strictly governed. Protagonist Jess is a book runner – buying and selling books on the black market, but when he gets the opportunity to try-out as an apprentice for the Great Library, he learns just how corrupt the whole system is. 

Books, magic, adventure, danger, a dash of romance…whats not to like!?

I enjoyed this book. Sometimes I felt that Caine had maybe bitten off more than she could chew as the world and plot got a bit lost to me at times, but she always managed to pull it back into a believable world. I liked the mix of characters, especially the professors who were ruthless, but their humanity shone though when it need to. A fun, YA read. 

unicorn rating 4

 

cboyreview

Cinderella Boy // Kristina Meister // July 2018 //  Triton // Goodreads

I knew I’d enjoy Cinderella Boy but I didn’t expect to not be able to put it down. I read it in one sitting on a lazy Sunday afternoon – I’ve not done that for a long, long time!

Cinderella Boy is a true coming-of-age tale. We follow Declan on his journey of self-discovery. From angst and torment to confidence and peace, it’s the story of a shy geeky kid exploring his gender-fluidity and becoming free from his anxieties.

I absolutely adored Declan. He had that great mix of vulnerability and strength, and I loved that although he was scared of being different and how people would react if they knew he was living as Layla as well as Declan, he knew that being both genders is who he is, and only by being himself would he be happy. It helped that he managed to bag a hot guy as both Layla and Declan.

This book wasn’t perfect, of course. I found it quite hard to believe that no one could tell that Layla was Declan…I mean just how good was that make up? It was also a little predictable at times, but it didn’t matter. It’s a wonderful, diverse story, a great romance, and the pages just seemed to turn themselves!

 

unicorn rating

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

This Week in Books 22.08.18 #TWIB

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next!

I hope you’re all having a good week. Mine has been…quick!

This week, I  finally discovered the joy of audiobooks. It’s been a long time coming, I know. The first time I tried to listen to an audiobook I went for The Knife of Never Letting Go, a book I already loved, and I didn’t like the narrator, which I realise now, makes all the difference. But this week (only around two years since trying TKONLG) I listened to Carrie Fisher narrating her memoir Wishful Drinking, and it was great. So there’s no stopping me now. I can read with my eyes closed…hurrah! If that’s not a superpower I don’t know what is!

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been reading (and listening to) this week…

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NOW: I haven’t technically started Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race yet, but I will have by the time this publishes. I’m also listening to Ginny Moon on my commute. I’m really enjoying it, but it’s getting a bit repetitive!

THEN: I’ve just finished Ink and Bone, which was great. Not I-need-to-read-the-next-book-right-now great, but still a fun, solid read. As previously mentioned, I also listened to Wishful Drinking. It’s a short read (or listen), and gives an incite into growing-up in Hollywood, addiction, and depression, and all told with the self-deprecating humour and wit of the legend that was Carrie Fisher. 

NEXT: Probably Cinderella Boy as my review is well overdue on Netgalley, soz! Also, it sounds great, so I doubt it’ll exactly be a chore!

WoW

This meme was originally started by Breaking the Spine. It’s where we choose one upcoming release that we just can’t wait for!

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The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy // Mackenzi Lee // The Montague Siblings #2 // October 2018 // Katherine Tegen Books //Goodreads

Can’t.Wait.Want.Now!

What have you been reading this week? Let me know in the comments below, or why not join in and publish a TWIB post of your own. Leave the link to your post and i’ll come take a look. 

This Week in Books 15.08.18 #TWIB

 

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next!

I’m backkkk! 🙂 Welcome to my new look blog. Hope you’re all having a good summer so far. Here’s what I’ve been reading this week…

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NOW: I’ve just started Ink & Bone which is the first book in The Great Libraries series. I’ve been meaning to read it since it came out (in 2015!!). I used to love Caine’s Morganville Vampires series so I’m interested to see how her style has developed. 

THEN: The last book I finished was My Name is Leon. I met Kit de Waal at this year’s Quick Reads launch and she was amazing. She only properly started reading books when she was 19. How amazing is that! She does a lot of work for underprivileged kids, go check her out. My Name is Leon was a great read about a young boy trying to make sense of the world  when he’s taken away from his mentally ill mother,  put into foster care and is separated from his baby brother.

NEXT: Probably Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. I’ve been told by two people now that I MUST read it. And so I shall…

WoW

This meme was originally started by Breaking the Spine. It’s where we choose one upcoming release that we just can’t wait for!

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The Wicked King // Holly Black // The Cruel Prince #2 // Jan 8 2019 // Little Brown //Goodreads

What have you been reading this week? Let me know in the comments below, or why not join in and publish a TWIB post of your own. Leave the link to your post and i’ll come take a look. 

Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine #BookReview #YA

 

princeofshadowsTitle: Prince of Shadows
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Publication Details: February 4th 2014 by Allison & Busby
Genre(s): YA; Retellings
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from the library.

Goodreads 

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From the author of the bestselling Morganville Vampires series comes an exciting retelling of the classic love story, Romeo and Juliet.

‘A plague! A plague on both your houses!’

In the Houses of Montague and Capulet, there is only one goal: power. The boys are born to fight and die for honor and – if they survive – marry for influence and money, not love. The girls are assets, to be spent wisely. Their wishes are of no import. Their fates are written on the day they are born.

Benvolio Montague, cousin to Romeo, knows all this. He expects to die for his cousin, for his house, but a spark of rebellion still lives inside him. At night, he is the Prince of Shadows, the greatest thief in Verona – and he risks all as he steals from House Capulet. In doing so, he sets eyes on convent-bound Rosaline, and a terrible curse begins that will claim the lives of many in Verona.

Review

I have to say I was pretty sceptical going into this but I was intrigued regardless. Having read Caine’s Morganville Vampire series (or most of them at least), I was pretty shocked to find this in the library. A Shakespeare retelling, really? Hmm…

You can’t help but love the tale of the two doomed lovers, right? And you know what, this wasn’t a bad retelling. It’s told from Benvolio’s POV, who is forcibly entrusted to keep his cousin and Capulet heir, Romeo, on the straight and narrow. But that pesky boy has a habit of getting into serious trouble and falling in love with all the wrong girls. Then there’s his bff Mercutio with his own doomed love Tomasso, both of whom will be killed if discovered. Poor Benvolio has got a lot on his plate!

On one hand I really enjoyed this book. I liked reading from Benvolio’s point of view. It was an action-packed, fun retelling with a modern twist. The pages flew by. But on the other hand I did find myself cringing a lot. ‘Shakespeare turning in his grave’ was a phrase which often sprang to mind. But I guess there would be no point in retelling it without a new spin on the traditional.

I felt like the whole business with the curse was a double-edged sword. It made the story new and fresh, and Caine does paranormal very well, such is her remit! But for me, it meant that the story lost all its romance. Which is surely the point of any Romeo & Juliet story?

I really respect Rachel Caine for taking on such an iconic story and introducing a fantasy element. It’s a pretty bold move, and I think it mostly worked. Her writing is always so readable. Not one for the purists though, obviously.

unicorn rating 3

Introducing… Morganville – The Series (Buffy fans rejoice!)

I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t know anything about this until the press release landed in my inbox. And man, I was pretty excited!

Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign and Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry, Rachel Caine has adapted the first book in her Morganville Vampires series, Glass Houses, into a web series comprising of 8-12 minute long episodes, which began airing yesterday.

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Web series have been hailed as the new big thing for a while now, with the ability to reach a worldwide audience faster than any other format. You only have to look at the success of I Kissed a Vampire, Dr. Horrible’s  Sing-a-long Blog or the endless Netflix and Amazon Prime series to see that the way we watch TV is changing.

This Halloween, Morganville: The Series hopes to make a splash in the world of Webisodes…

The entire show was filmed on location in Dallas, Texas, in four separate venues, including a coffee shop, a turn-of-last-century Victorian home, a hospital,and a university, and I’m assured that nearly every episode ends with Rachel Caine’s infamous cliffhanger endings. But at least this time we won’t have to wait too long to found out what happens next. Hurrah!

But, how do you cram a whole book into such a small series?

“The first thing I tried to do, since I wrote the book in 2006,” said Caine, “was to write down everything I remembered from it without re-reading it. That was fascinating, because what I wrote down was really the core story, and that turned out to be what needed to be told in the show.”

It’s also pretty hard to believe that the whole thing was filmed in just 10 days.

Glass Houses was our first introduction to Morganville – a town riddled with vampires. The book centers around Claire Danvers who doesn’t quite fancy slumming it in the college dorms, and is looking for a room. She finds one, and a lot more in the Glass House. We meet a whole host of fun, and some not-so-fun characters, who are intent on helping or hindering Claire in her quest to survive in Vamp town.

So, is the web series going to tell the whole story?

“For practical purposes, you can only have so many characters in a show with this running time, so some characters from the novel, while really interesting, ended up not being central to the plot (like Miranda). However, I did think it was important to introduce Myrnin, a fan favorite, into the mix early, so he makes a short appearance this season,” explains Caine.

Hold the phone, is that Amber Benson?

Yep. The awesome Amber Benson, who you should all know as Tara from Buffy TVS landed the role of Amelie – the sort-of vampire queen. PERFECT!

I really enjoyed these books and I can’t wait to check out the series. I plan on marathoning it on All Hallow’s Eve. Who’s with me?

In the mean time, here are the first two episodes to whet your whistle…

 

 

Links:

http://www.morganvilletheseries.com/

https://www.youtube.com/user/geekandsundry

http://www.morganvillevampire.com/

http://www.rachelcaine.com/

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Series…

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (Click the image to visit them). This week the theme is Top Ten Best/Worst Series endings.

But here lies a problem…I am so TERRIBLE at finishing series. Even worse than I thought I was when thinking about what to put in this post. So I’m going to do the series that I need/want to finish and the ones I want to start.

Top 5 Series I Need to Finish:

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The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare: I wasn’t completely smitten with these and only made it to book 2. But then I re-read the first book, City of Bones before I went to see the film and now I feel like I should read the rest of the series.

The Morganville Vampries by Rachel Caine: I enjoyed the beginning of this series and made it all the way to book 8 so I really should sort my life out and finish a damn series for a change!

The Bourbon Kid Series by Anonymous: These books are pretty hard to find in actual shops and online they’re not cheap so I’ve been hoping to find them in charity shops (that’s where I found the 2nd one) or on ReaditSwapit…my eyes are peeled for books 3 & 4.

The Akasha Series by Terra Harmony: I only read the first book, Water but I’ve been meaning to get round to the other two. Water was infuriating but intriguing!

Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger: Again, I only managed the first book in this series, but I liked it a lot. Will get round to it one day. Maybe.

Top 5 Series I Want to Start

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Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead // The Grisha by Leigh Bardugo // The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen // Luna Chronicles by Marissa Meyer // Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder