A Book Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

An Enchantment of Ravens, by Margaret Rogerson

4.5 Stars

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BLURB

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There’s only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

Find it on…

GR | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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STATS

Pages: 300 (hardcover)

Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Published on:  26th of September, 2017

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REVIEW | Minor Spoilers!

An Enchantment of Ravens could be more aptly named An Enchantment of Words. Seriously, I was pulled right past the inky words and deep into the story. The novel was so captivating that I didn’t resurface until the afternoon light bled through the windows.

The main character, Isobel, has a lovely narrative voice. As I was reading the book, I really felt her personality shine through Rogerson’s choice of words and patient portrayal of Isobel’s thought processes. I haven’t read such engaging first-person narration in a very long time. If I had to sum up Isobel as a character, I would definitely say that Isobel is a conventional heroine. Although Isobel is quite conventional, she is so nicely fleshed out that she earns her place on my shelf of distinguished heroines.

Isobel is conventional in the sense that she is the type of heroine who seeks to forge her own path through pure will and strength, which is a popular type of heroine currently in the YA genre. Isobel possesses will, manifested through her unwillingness to turn into fae and her fierce protection of her loved ones (the latter source of motivation is very common). However, this is pretty standard for her “type of heroine”; it doesn’t really make Isobel special. What made me appreciate her as her own unique character was the type of strength she had and the source of that. Isobel very clearly possesses her strength through resilience and decisiveness. She is resilient in that she can easily see past the facades of everyday life whilst understanding and accepting her powerlessness in the status quo, yet remain positively determined to survive in a world with the odds stacked against her. I really appreciated this maturity in Isobel. She is also decisive in that she shows tremendous bravery in the face of distressing situations. She is able to follow her plans, values and decisions almost heartlessly (i.e. her emotions won’t deter her). And it is from these sources that Isobel derives her distinct grit. Rogerson embraces the unwilling heroine while developing this trope further, which pushes Isobel into the realm of realism.

The conflict of the story begins as she is dragged right out of familiarity and onto a journey into the land of the fair people. Isobel is of course, no longer within her realm of expertise (i.e her parlour) as Isobel is first and foremost a painter. I loved this aspect of Isobel’s character and Rogerson’s research into the art of painting really shows, but I digress. Since she is in unfamiliar territory, Isobel logically needs to rely on someone, which in this case, is Rook. However, Rogerson seems quite unwilling to portray Isobel as a completely powerless heroine, perhaps to avoid caging Isobel in the damsel-in-distress trope. This unwillingness is quite blatantly displayed by making Isobel scoff at various clichés like the below:

“I chanced a look at Lark, not liking the way the world blurred out of focus when I turned—this was not the time to start swooning like a storybook maiden.”

I think this quote would do much better without the simile attached at the end. Isobel is the conventional unwilling hero who falls in love with someone. So, what? Rogerson has already done so well in fleshing Isobel out that this refusal to wholly embrace the unwilling hero trope – the very basis of Isobel’s character – is really unnecessary and pointless.

On the other hand, I did really love Rogerson’s portrayal of Isobel and Rook’s relationship. As I read the book, I found myself hesitating to rule it out as simply love at first sight because it really wasn’t love at first sight. Isobel herself actually identifies her initial feelings towards Rook as a “feverish infatuation”. This acknowledgement and self-awareness again serves the highlight Isobel’s wonderful maturity. In general, Rogerson portrays the relationship dynamics between Isobel and Rook quite well; Their interactions really made the progression of the relationship seem natural. Rook’s own character development is also wonderfully interwoven with the development of the relationship.

Another aspect I loved about this book was Rogerson’s portrayal of the fae. I absolutely adore books about fae, but the portrayals of the fae are usually a hit or miss for me. I’m super glad to say that I thought Rogerson’s portrayal was a unique twist that I haven’t read before. Instead of portraying the fae as some sort of superhuman race, Rogerson took an alternate path and made the fae practically the antithesis of humans as being fae meant stripping almost everything that gives value to humanity. Personally, I felt the fae were decay personified (fae-ified? hehe):

“The pastry withered and fuzzed gray with mold. Whatever filling had been inside dribbled out as an unidentifiable black sludge, reeking of decay. Even worse, the deflated morsel squirmed in my hand; it was full of maggots.”

A completely unexpected but absolutely riveting portrayal. Rogerson also gave the fae really interesting personalities. One of my favourite fae characters in the novel is Gadfly, who I would consider one of the villains in the story.

Initially, I didn’t really like Gadfly as his characterisation pales in comparison to Rook and Isobel. Gadfly is portrayed as a sort of iceberg character – there’s so much more to him, but because we’re studying him through the eyes of Isobel, a lot of his character is unknown to us. Perhaps that is why I feel like his characterisation is missing something. Considering this, however, I felt that I was always drawn to the mystery and twists that surround him despite his mediocre characterisation. For example, I was surprised about Gadfly’s true identity. I took his first appearance as a reflection of his identity even though Rogerson was dropping hints easily seen a mile away. Also, Gadfly’s conversations with Isobel are perplexing to the point that they vex me. Again, perhaps this is because Isobel can’t quite interpret the meaning to what he is saying since Isobel is not fae.

A fae character I would’ve liked to see more was Hemlock. She had a stunning entrance in the first half of the story. Similar to Gadfly, she had mysterious air. I wanted to know a lot more about her but she served mostly as a plot device. Other fae characters I quite liked included Aster. Aster was a very appropriate character to include in the novel as she provided a good point of comparison to the other fae. Aster also provided solid credence to Isobel’s dislike of the influence that the fae had over humans.

A fae character I didn’t really like was Lark. I felt that Rogerson was trying to portray Lark as another iceberg character who is superficially vapid but this didn’t quite come across. Hmm. Also, I don’t really understand why Lark decided to help Isobel near the end???

Let’s talk about the Alder King. Suffice to say, he ends up on my list of the most unremarkable villains I have ever encountered. That being said, the Alder King had HUGE potential. A fae who people basically worshipped? A fae who realised the pettiness of his desire for crafts? A fae who decided that it was better to care little to nothing about his race? So many questions but so little answers. I feel like Rogerson took the easy way out with this one by making the Alder King simply unfeeling.

The plot of this novel was quite reminiscent of novels in adventure-fantasy genre, as demonstrated by the first half of the book which detailed Rook and Isobel’s travelling (translation: escape from various perils on the way to “safety”). Rogerson included a masquerade ball which is pretty standard for a young adult novel. I think Gadfly sums up my opinion regarding the plot quite well. Perhaps it could’ve been more “singular”.

The world-building was definitely there. The descriptions were intriguing – especially her portrayal of the effect that the princes had on different locations with the sudden changes in weather and everything. What I did like about the world-building was Rogerson’s inclusion of the rotting parts of the land. Rogerson skilfully crafted a reflection the fae in the very land upon which they reside. I loved this parallel but I thought that it could’ve been pursued further. The rotting of the land wasn’t very well explained but I guess that this loose thread will provide the basis for future books so it’s all good.

To wrap this review off, I’d like to end it on one of the most amazing things about this novel: the humour. Oh gosh – the humour was awesome. The ironies literally had me cackling. The following isn’t one of the ironic aspects of this novel but is nonetheless absolutely hilarious:

“The thrill I felt whenever he looked at me was as captivating as it was dangerous, like having one’s gaze met unexpectedly by a lynx or a wolf in the woods at dusk.

Which was absolutely the last thing I should be thinking about. That was that. Time for this spying session to end.”

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A Book Review: The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller

4 Stars

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BLURB

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.

But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

FIND IT ON…

Goodreads | Amazon

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REVIEW

After reading the last word of The Song of Achilles, I was filled with overwhelming frustration. After the tumultuous emotional journey, the last two sentences of narrative gave me both a desired and undesired closure…

Let me explain.

I dived into the novel with prior knowledge of Homer’s work. I knew roughly what happened, including key points such as Patroclus’ deception, Hector’s death, and eventually, Achilles’ death. This knowledge was always at the forefront of my mind, meaning that my decision to read this novel filled me with utter trepidation. It would be a tragedy, I immediately decided, since it utilised a romantic angle. I had already been in a bit of a book drought for most of this year, and I could feel my desire to pull away from the novel and the inevitable angst that it would bring.

However, I couldn’t do so. Why? This novel is so unexpectedly captivating. The prose is elegant but not so overwhelmingly superfluous as demonstrated by the short conversations between Achilles and Patroclus that are filled with endearing understanding. Miller’s enchanting storytelling helped me to appreciate the characters fully, with Patroclus and the top of the character list.

Patroclus is a character I never thought I would actually become attached to. He represented the type of character I usually do not like since he was a machine churning out those I-have-to-throw-this-book-against the wall feelings for me because of his constant inability to foresee actions or weasel himself out of situations. Even Patroclus himself sees his own shortcomings when he identifies what he could have done to prevent himself from being exiled. But then I realised that this is Patroclus. He was never clever, as Miller nonchalantly writes in the first chapter of the novel. Simple, I believe the word used was. All of my frustrations with him only further demonstrated this “simple” aspect of his personality and added to the magnetic realism that surrounds his character. Patroclus was flawed and that was something I could actually never fault him for. As I write this paragraph, I note that I regard Patroclus as a genuine person, which only goes to show how strong and impressionable Miller’s characterisation of a character is.

As for Achilles… Achilles is one of those characters I never really have problems with while reading. His sureness and almost god-like presence (haha) is not hugely overdone. Miller doesn’t seem to be forcing this idea of “Aristos archaion” onto the reader. Through his actions and words and Patroclus’ insights, Achilles already seems that way. With this in mind, I humbly bow to Miller with thousands of kudoses spilling from my lips.

I have to admit that I did not think the setting was superbly done. With the fast pace, and the constant change of environment, Miller occasionally passes over scenery descriptions and world-building. For me however, this immediate submersion into the story only added to its level of appeal since the lack of world-building also meant that Miller didn’t keep on throwing details and exposition at me. This also meant that there was less distraction from the focus of this novel, which I would argue is the characterisation and the intimate relationships.

The Novel was charming, particularly because of Miller’s particular spin on classical characters, as I have already highlighted above with our main characters. Odysseus was occasionally presented as a weaselly snake, enjoyable to read but also vexing because he is not on the side of the characters we are rooting for in this novel. Miller also portrays the immortals in a very interesting way. The only immortal who is given constant camera time is Thetis, but I quite like Miller’s interpretation of her. She is cold enough to be never quite entangled in the conflicts of the human realm which is, in a sense, understandable. I feel that Miller’s decision to not include too many Greek immortals was a great one because of the level of difficulty involved in portraying them without compromising the representations of their personalities in the original myths.

Considering all of the above, I’d say that the Song of Achilles is not a novel I will be forgetting soon. Even after several weeks, it still sits heavily in my mind. I also wonder how Miller’s interpretation will impact my knowledge of the Trojan war – mainly whether or not I will overly romanticise and dramatise the characters to fit Miller’s interpretation.

Finally, I know that I haven’t addressed one of the main themes of this novel, which is the the love between Achilles and Patroclus. Other than the fact that I felt this was done extremely well and that it added to my attachment to both of them, I have nothing much else to say. This aspect is definitely not something that should deter you from reading this story. If anything, it adds the story. It undeniably adds.

This novel is one that I would definitely recommend to people.

A Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green

Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green

4.5 Stars 

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BLURB

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

FIND IT ON…

Goodreads | Amazon

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REVIEW

Turtles All the Way Down was one of the most interesting books I’ve read this year. The novel is super character-driven. John Green really delves into the mind of a person with OCD (Aza), and his description of her mind is both fascinating and borderline hypnotic.

The plot of the novel moves slowly… but I hesitate to say that there is a plot at all. The blurb of the novel hints at a mystery that was stale at best. The disappearance of Pickett serves as more of a plot device; It is given the spotlight at the first half of the book but its significance slowly fades as the story progresses. Thinking about it now, the decreasing significance that the plot has in the novel is sort of a reflection of Aza’s deteriorating mental health. The novel very much becomes withdrawn, shrunken to just the headspace and thoughts of Aza where the tangible, physical, real world in which the plot holds significance and Aza exists is completely neglected. In essence, the reader is following Aza into the spiral, deep down into her headspace. Green so skilfully achieves this effect. The downward spiral is even communicated in the formatting, with the absence of punctuation and disordered formatting.

It’s the only way that’s stupid if it worked alcoholics would be the healthiest people in the world you’re just going to sanitize your hands and your mouth please fucking think about something else stand up I HATE BEING STUCK INSIDE YOU…”

The most striking thing is that Aza realises how trapped she is within her thoughts. She’s presented as an unwilling prisoner, which really makes me consider the degree of utter hopelessness and helplessness that suffuses the words on the pages of some parts of the book.

In this sense, I thought that the external plot with the mystery and all only served to enhance Green’s characterisation of Aza. The internal plot – or the spiralling – was really well done. Aza adequately sums up what I think Green’s storytelling should receive:

“tons of kudos”

(Although it has been taken quite out of context…)

One thing that really tore at my heart is how Aza engages in a lot of self-hate. I really hated it was actually Daisy – her supposed best friend – who perpetrated a lot of this hate and how Aza seems to forgive her all the time. Their relationship irked me. In the most irritable way possible. Daisy complains a lot about the lack of attention that Aza gives her. When I first read this, I thought: fair. However, Daisy remains continually bitter about this, which really gripes me because I feel that Daisy never took the initiative to really understand and empathise with Aza’s OCD. After she reaches her deepest point on the spiral with the sanitizer (though theoretically, not the actual deepest since the spiral is never-ending), Daisy ‘forgives’ her… and then that’s that. There was a feeble attempt by Daisy near the end, when Green divulges the meaning of the title, but I was quite dissatisfied with the way this relationship was dealt with in the novel.

A facet of the novel I do want to comment on is the general philosophy behind this book. This novel contains, very obviously, reflections of Green’s philosophy. His philosophy emanates through Aza, through Aza’s mum, through many elements of the novel, and through the way he dealt with the endings of the various relationships in this novel. The ending I want to highlight is the one that belongs to Aza and Davis’ relationship ( A/N: I did like how Green dealt with this relationship).

“You stare up at the same sky together, and after a while he says, I have to go, and you say, Good-bye, and he says, Good-bye, Aza, and no one ever says good-bye unless they want to see you again.”

That’s the last line of the novel. It seems to mark Aza’s upward journey from that deep point in the spiral. It’s just so liberating, so hopeful – a tearfully optimistic worldview that really helped to tie the entire novel together.

A Book Review: The Thousandth Floor, by Katharine McGee

The Thousandth Floor, by Katharine McGee

2.5 Stars | ★★☆

Blurb

NEW YORK CITY AS YOU’VE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE.

A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future where anything is possible—if you want it enough.

WELCOME TO MANHATTAN, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. Everyone there wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

LEDA COLE’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

ERIS DODD-RADSON’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

RYLIN MYERS’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will this new life cost Rylin her old one?

WATT BAKRADI is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy for an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is AVERY FULLER, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Amid breathtaking advancement and high-tech luxury, five teenagers struggle to find their place at the top of the world. But when you’re this high up, there’s nowhere to go but down….

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Review

Dear Readers,

For these past few months, I’ve been in a terrible book slump (so I haven’t been posting any book reviews, sorry!). Even though I didn’t like The Thousandth Floor that much, it was- ironically- the book that has pulled me half-way out of that slump.

There were two things about this book that initially drew me in: the writing, and the concept of a thousand floor tower. McGee’s writing style was perfect for this book and it was engaging. There was some descriptive language that enabled me to appreciate the setting, but the descriptions were not too over-abundant that they detracted from the quality of the tension.

The floor-to-ceiling windows were squares of velvety darkness, though in the distance the sun was quietly rising, the skyline turning ocher and pale pink and a soft, shimmering gold.

Apart from the use of “quietly”, I think this might be my favourite line in the entire novel.

As mentioned above, I loved the thousand tower concept which established the futuristic, technologically advanced era this novel was set in. Although the individual technological machines were not that inventive (e.g. retina scanners- which I’d seen in a lot of sci-fi books), I liked the way McGee incorporated them into the tower. For example, the upper floors people had retina scanners, but the lower floors people didn’t, which was a nice contrast that made this tower interesting: the financial disparity present in one thousand floor tower is on par with that of a country.

However, there were somethings I really did not like. This book was written in five perspectives. Five. FIVE people. This was so distracting, especially as each perspective pretty much had its own story line. On top of that, I seriously did not feel engaged with three of the perspectives: Watt, Rylin, and Eris. Not even the writing could help me become invested in their story. The two other perspectives that were a little more engaging are Leda’s and Avery’s, but I disliked both of them a lot. I feel like Avery is supposed to be the “heroine” (this is a misnomer, really; are they all supposed to be anti-heroes or something?) in this story but I never warmed up to her. I even thought Leda (who is an off-her-bonkers stalker) was a far more interesting character (I don’t approve of her stalking, but it makes her character interesting) because Avery’s internal angst about love for her step-brother (which btw was totally awkward) was so annoying. I’d say that this is more of a character driven book since it was all about the tension between the characters that came about due to their personal secrets, so my lack of interest in the characters was quite problematic.

In the end, it was only the “who pushed the girl off the tower and why” mystery that kept me reading.

That being said, if you’re a fan of Pretty Little Liars, you should try this book out! It was not for me, but you may love it!

Cheers,

Kellie xo

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Published on: 30th August 2016

Published by: HarperCollins

Find it on… GR / Amazon / B&N

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A Book Review: Sleeping Giants, by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants, by Sylvain Neuvel

3.5 Stars ↤

Blurb

A page-turning debut in the tradition of Michael Crichton,World War Z, and The Martian, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

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Published on: 26th of April, 2016

Publishing Company: Del Rey

Pages: 322 pages (Kindle edition)

Find it on…

GR / Amazon / B&N

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The Review

Sleeping Giants’ blurb, cover, and reviews made me really excited to read it, but this book turned out to be more of a flop for me.

The book was often compared to “The Martian” (it’s also compared to World War Z, but I’ve never read that book so I can’t say if that comparison is accurate or not), which is a book I love, so I expected Sleeping Giants to be a little similar… but it was not. BUT, it means that this book is superbly unique.

The format was the biggest reason why I didn’t enjoy Sleeping Giants as much as I thought I would. Instead of being a long, continuous narrative (which I personally prefer), this book had prose that was split into many files. Some of the files were interviews, reports, transcribed video journals… which did make the format quite interesting. However, this type of format produced an undiminishable distance between me and the narrative. To put it simply: I couldn’t immerse myself in Sleeping Giants. Since most of the files were interviews, there was also abundant telling and marginal showing.

There was an impressive aspect about the format though. Considerable time passes between each file, but Sylvain Neuvel is still able to make the reader understood what has happened during that period. Thus, there are no significant knowledge gaps that will hinder the reader’s interpretation of the events.

Sleeping Giants has an amazing idea- one that will make you wonder about the universe and all the possibilities it brings. Unfortunately, the idea is never delineated until the nameless interrogator (you will become very familiar with him if you read this book since he is the interviewer for all of the interview files) meets a special person a long time after the start of the story. In fact, I was really only able to continue this book because the idea is so interesting.

After reading Sleeping Giants, I will make sure to research books before I dive into them haha.

I highly recommend this for fans of science fiction and the file format type of writing!

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A Book Review: A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro

A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro

———- 4 Stars ———-

Blurb

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy.

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Published on: 1st of March, 2016

Published by: Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 321 (Hardcover)

Series: Charlotte Holmes #1

Find it on…

Amazon / Goodreads / B&N

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Review

I didn’t expect to like A Study in Charlotte as much as I did. Before reading this book, I scrolled through several reviews , and this book was often given three stars. Perhaps I liked this story more because I haven’t read or watched a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories, so I don’t have a strong impression of the characters. Anyway, this book was a great adventure.

Basically, in A Study in Charlotte, Sherlock and John are real people, and each of them have descendants. Charlotte is a Holmes, and James is a Watson, and they meet (surprise, surprise :D) in the novel. I found this idea to be really intriguing and it was what drew me to the novel in the first place.

According to the blurb, Charlotte is supposed to be pretty similar to Sherlock, and she is! I was rather impressed with Brittany Cavallaro’s portrayal of Charlotte. Cavallaro is very skilled at maintaining Charlotte’s air of mystery. The enigma that was her past and her secrets truly captivated me. Another aspect of her character that I liked was her development. Through the scarce glimpses into her past (to maintain that mystery), I could see concrete evidence of Charlotte’s maturation, which made her character more realistic.

James’ character is also just as interesting. Since he narrates the story, he doesn’t have quite the same aura of mystery as Charlotte does, but his frustrations, his worries- his troubling thoughts in general are realistic. Another bonus is that James is an aspiring writer so I had a chance to peer into the mindset of a writer which is not a type of mindset I often encounter. Also James is quite melodramatic which I personally found humorous.

All in all, the characterisation of the main characters is very skillfully done. As for the minor characters… I think they could’ve been portrayed better.

A large part of this book includes Charlotte’s Holmish (yep, I made Holmes into an adjective haha) deductions. The deductions were fascinating and exciting. However, the deductions were not always logical- the link between her observations and her deductions are sometimes very weak. For example:

 

“But how do you know it’s a woman?”
She snatched the page back. “All it took was a few minutes’ research for me to find the origin of this font—it’s called Hot Chocolate, how twee—along with a few hundred others on one of those design sites. Well and fine, but that was the ninth hit on Google. The first was a website that catered to ‘sorority life,’ and I found our Hot Chocolate on the page about creating invitations for parties.”
“So she’s a sorority girl,” I said.
“She’s someone who looks at sorority websites,” Holmes corrected me.

Haha, because only females look at sorority websites right? And she could have only discovered that font from the sorority website and not that ninth hit, which is a design site. (Righttt)

The plot held my interest up until the final reveal because I was pretty disappointed by who the culprit was.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this book immensely and I would definitely recommend it to fans of Sherlock and mystery!

Also, this book cover is gorrrgeous!!

 

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Cheers,

Kellie xo

Reading Update: Mid-2016

Hello readers!

It’s now August- which is way past “mid-2016”- but I did plan to do a reading update beforehand and I’m determined to follow through with that plan haha. I’ve wanted to write these sort of posts to share with you guys what I’ve been loving and hopefully find out what you guys loved to read this year. ❤

20160807_094606editedWhat I’m Currently Reading

Sleeping Giants, by Sylvain Neuvel

This book is a science fiction novel that I recently discovered from stalking reading the reviews made by my friends on Goodreads. It was getting superb reviews, so naturally, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

I’ve just started the novel and things are seeming pretty interesting! The first few chapters are in an interview format, and I’m hoping that the book will revert back to the usual storytelling format later because I can’t stand reading books that are in an interview format the entire time. 😛

 Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn ↦

I picked up Dark Places recently, when I went to the local book fair in July. I was planning to pick up Gone Girl, but I thought this book sounded more interesting so I bought this one instead haha.

This book immediately grabs your interest when you start reading it. Seriously. Libby is a great and undeniably dark narrator. Combined with the spooky premise of the book, Dark Places is a pretty successful thriller.

Unfortunately, I left this book at home, so now I can’t continue reading it. Also, I couldn’t take a picture of it since it’s not with me. 😦

What I’ve Been Loving

(I’ve tried to choose books that I haven’t mentioned before/ a lot on this blog)

↤ Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes

This is a lovely romance that had me in tears by the end of the novel. Highly recommended! Also, there’s a film based on this book that’s coming out this year (guilty note: that’s sort of why I read this novel) which stars Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke!!

However, the message of the story is a bit controversial, but I didn’t mind it. 😛

Captive Prince Trilogy, by S. U. Pacat/ C. S. Pacat ↦

This is a great M/M romance series. It had me hooked in the very first book all the way until the last book. I had never read any books from the M/M genre before, and this series was a great introduction into that genre. Also highly recommended!

↤ Railhead, by Philip Reeve

This is a fantastic science fiction/fantasy novel. I have to admit I was drawn to this book because of its alluring cover. Railhead is so much more than just a pretty cover though. It’s an adventurous, fun, and emotional read. Loved this book!

Here are some more books that I loved reading this year! Untitled-8a

I hope you guys liked reading this post! If you’re in a reading slump, I definitely recommend these books. If you guys have any books you’d like to recommend to me or loved reading, do leave a comment! I love reading your comments- they always make my day. 🙂

Cheers,

Kellie xo

A Tag: The Love Tag!

Thank you so much to Aldii @Perfection in Books for nominating me!! She has one of the most wonderful blogs. 🙂

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Books Other People Love But You Haven’t Gotten Around to Reading

 

 

The Final Empire, by Brandon Sanderson: This has been getting awesome reviews from my friends (irl and on the internet haha) and my family!! It’s so long that reading it seems pretty daunting though.

 

 

A Book That You Love But No One Else Talks About

The King of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner: I feel like you guys already knew I’d choose this haha. I love this book so so much!! However, I haven’t really seen anyone talk about it. 😛

Stand Alone Books You Love

Art by Viria (the link is in the picture)!

Favourite Book Couple

Ahhhh this is a hard one to answer. I’m going to say Percabeth. I have wholeheartedly shipped this couple since I finished the last book in the PJO series which was when I was about 11 or 12.

Series That You Love

+ many many more series!

The Perfect Song

Oh goodness, this is so subjective… I’m going to say “Style”, by Taylor Swift because I just really like her songs. 😛


A Cute DIY

I found this on Pinterest a few months ago, and I thought it was pretty cute. It’s a DIY hanging thingy that consists of bucket like thingies where you can put stuff in! I haven’t figured out how to embed anything from Pinterest, so I’ll just put the link beneath this paragraph haha. 🙂

link

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And that concludes the Love Tag! I really hope you guys enjoyed reading this post. If you have anything to say, please comment! I’d love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

Without further ado, the nominations!

Lola @ Hit or Miss Books

Heather @ The Sassy Geek

Alice @ Arctic Books

Hope you guys enjoy doing this tag! If you’ve done it already, feel free to ignore this nomination!! 🙂

Cheers,

Kellie xo 🙂

A Book Review: Passenger, by Alexandra Bracken

Passenger, by Alexandra Bracken

3.5 Stars

Blurb

Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home… forever.

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Publishing Company: Disney-Hyperion

Published on: 5th January 2016

Pages: 486 (Hardcover)

Series: Passenger #1

Find it on…

Amazon / Goodreads / B&N

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In all honesty, Passenger was a “meh” for me.

Passenger is a story about time travel (one of my favouuurite themes). I actually really liked this aspect because I thought Alexandra Bracken presented the idea of time travel in a very nice way. For example, time travellers in this book keep a log about their travels so that they don’t run into themselves, which is an idea that definitely makes sense and was unique to Passenger. Thinking about it now, I have never read a time travel novel that actually addresses this problem.

Also, there are passageways that travellers have to take to go back/forth in time, which meant that time travellers don’t actually possess that much power. If these passageways didn’t exist, they would be stuck in their own time regardless if they could travel or not. This idea is also something I have never encountered before. Pretty interesting, right?

For the time travelling aspect, Bracken incorporated a variety of dates and places/societies which was intriguing. Through Passenger, I was able to learn about old/recent civilisations which I didn’t actually recognise (such as Damascus- I didn’t know this was an actual city in the past!).

All of that is why I was initially enjoying the book a lot. However……..

I didn’t the like the characters much. Etta was interesting enough, but I feel like her character could be developed more. At the moment, she isn’t exactly memorable for me. There is nothing unique about her personality that pops out since I’ve seen many different versions of her personality in other books: the “I-don’t-know-anything-about-this-new-world-I’ve-been-thrust-into-and-I-cbb-to-completely-understand-it-bc-I-only-want-to-save-a-relative-or-friend” person.

Her love interest really annoyed me because he elongated a period of needless romantic angst. I’m fine with his personality and his over-protectiveness, but good gracious! This dude made the romance- which is a pretty big aspect in this novel- so unbearable. As a result, I stopped reading this novel for a while.

Seriously:

He would not surrender to the disaster of loving her.
In time, the pain would pass.
But… he would regret the loss. The simplicity.

Oh my goodness. STaHp.

The plot was well paced but it was not spectacular. There weren’t many twists and turns, so there was no thrill but it was easy to follow. Etta and her partner’s journey to obtain an important object was so smooth that it became a little unbelievable. Despite that, the plot was better than the romance and her love interest.

Passenger was a cool novel, but I think it just wasn’t for me. If you liked it/want to read it, please don’t be put off/offended by my review! This review only includes my personal thoughts.

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A Book Review: I Hunt Killers, by Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers, by Barry Lyga 

4.5 Stars

Blurb

What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one 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 criminal’s point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

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Publishing Company: Little, Brown and Company

Published on: 3rd of April 2012

Pages: 359 (Hardcover)

Series: Jasper Dent #1

Get it on…

Amazon / Goodreads / B&N

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People matter. People are real.

Wow, this book was a thriller! I hunt Killers is a consistently suspenseful and engaging book that had me engrossed until the very end.

What I absolutely loved about this book was how it provided an in-depth look into the mind of a serial killer. Although the main character, Jasper, isn’t actually a serial killer, he can certainly think like one. This allowed me to sort-of understand the psyche of a serial killer. Barry Lyga’s ability to illustrate the mind of Billy Dent (a serial killers in the novel who is also Jazz’s father) through a character who isn’t a serial killer (although I think Jazz is a little sociopathic) is definitely impressive.

His mouth was twisted in a wry grin, his eyes wide and alight with what some people- none of them in this room- might mistake for an impish glee.

In a lot of books, the psychopath or sociopath is presented wonderfully, but you never actually see inside their mind or look at things from their perspective. One thing I definitely understand after finishing this book, is that serial killers are really, really possessive over their victims (or prospects).

I hunt Killers also had a great cast of characters. Of course, since we see these characters from Jazz’s perspective who can spot a lot of telltales we’d usually miss. Hence, our understanding of the characters in this book deepens to a considerable degree.

The characters also complement each other very well. Connie’s fiery personality was refreshing and it enhanced (whilst also being enhanced by) other characters such as Howie, a loyal sidekick who can’t get into the thick of the fighting because of his low blood clotting factor. This means that the relationships between the characters were also quite interesting.

One thing I didn’t really like Jazz’s constant pity for himself. It was tolerable the first few times since Jazz’s worry about becoming his father is understandable, but it eventually got on my nerves. Also, it was really clear to me all along that Jazz’s primary suspects weren’t the culprits. The identity of the impressionist did surprise me though. The plot of this book was great, but not spectacular.

But aRGH that cliff-hanger at the end. I seriously can’t wait to find out what’s next!

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