Book Review: Contempt

Contempt by Michael Cordell

This is another book that I was extremely lucky to receive a copy of in return for my review. A huge thanks to the author and publisher for providing me with it! If you’re interested in this book, the link to it on Amazon is here. The author’s site is also available here, and the publisher’s website is here.

The novel begins with Thane Banning’s release from prison due to a mistrial. In fact, Thane was facing the death sentence after being accused of murder. Soon after his release, the policeman who arrested Thane is found murdered in his home, and friend of Thane’s and fellow inmate, known as Skunk, is accused. Certain that Skunk isn’t responsible, Thane decides to defend him in court – despite the fact he’s a real estate lawyer, not a legal attorney.

Before long, Thane and his colleagues work to uncover the truth about what happened, including the murder that got Thane imprisoned in the first place. Alongside all this, Thane is trying to repair his relationship with his wife and deal with the constant accusations and unfriendly glares. He’s well aware that people see him as a murderer, even after his release. This makes him even more determined to reveal the truth and clear his own name.

I enjoyed reading this, and didn’t get bored or lost or anything like that. There was enough jargon to make it feel organic, but not so much that I didn’t understand it. There was a lot going on in terms of relationships and side plots, and the ‘detective’ aspect is great.

The only thing I wasn’t sure about is how self-aware Thane is. Don’t get me wrong, it would be great if everyone was able to identify what triggered certain actions and then acknowledge and apologise for them. But I just don’t think it’s realistic. Of course, that’s not a big thing so it wasn’t really an issue, just something I noticed.

Overall, I liked this book. It was well written, it was pretty plausible, and it was interesting. If you’re into any kind of legal fiction or thrillers, or crime and detective novels, I’d definitely recommend it. 3.5 stars!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Book Review: Going Green

Going Green by Nick Spalding

I initially received a free copy of this for reviewing, but the file expired about halfway through. I was enjoying the book, though, and actually decided to go and buy my own copy on Kindle. Worth the money for sure!
Eleanor or Ellie Cooke is the main character in this novel. She turns up to work one day to find that the company has been sold; further, the name has changed and they’re entirely rebranding. Stratagem PR is renamed Viridian, and their focus is backing and supporting eco-conscious companies, big or small. But the new boss, Nolan Reece, is going to have to let some of the workers go for financial reasons. Of course, Ellie is terrified of losing her job, so she goes above and beyond to prove to Nolan just how ‘green’ she is.
The problem being that she is not green. At all.
Ellie’s antics are rather funny, and most definitely embarrassing. But over time, she learns how important this eco stuff actually is, and with the help of some sticky children, her mindset is completely changed.
Further, Nolan is a great guy. Working alongside him inevitably leads to some romance (and more hilarious events). It’s kind of an obvious plot, this romance, but it works. Especially with how this book ends. Oh, the ending is great. Not what I expected at all.

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

While I didn’t like Ellie at first, she goes through some major character development and I do actually kind of respect her by the end of the book. I even learned a fair bit about our planet through this book. Yet it was an easy, light read, and definitely fun and enjoyable. It’s not the kind of book I’d usually go for at all, but I highly recommend it. 4 stars!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Review: A River Called Time

A River Called Time by Courttia Newland

As usual, I had no clue what to expect when I started this book. Right from the beginning, it was quite clear that this is certainly a work of speculative fiction – the word that came to mind for me specifically was abstract. While this did give the book a wonderfully unique feel, almost poetic, I did find it a little hard to follow at times. Maybe I’m just not the kind of person who fully appreciates speculative fiction.

The book itself was rather confusing in general. It involved various ‘versions’ of the main character, Markriss, in alternate timelines. It also talked about chakras and astral projection, which is something I can’t say I’m all that familiar with. Again, I want to emphasise that I did appreciate the originality of this, and I did enjoy reading it. I simply couldn’t describe it to someone else – I’m not sure I entirely got it, to be honest.

Some social themes were quite clear, too, such as social inequality and racism. However, I fear that I may have missed some of the important points due to the state of confusion I was in throughout much of this book. My favourite part of this book was the third section, where the story was set in modern-day London. This is probably because I could understand and relate to it much more. (There’s a little subplot around a lesbian couple who want children which is rather intriguing, too.)

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

It is a shame that I feel like I missed so much of this book. It’s not the author’s fault – I just didn’t quite get it. I’m sure there were some really fantastic points made in this book, and I’m certain there are people who connected with it far more than I did. For me, this book gets 3 stars.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Book Review: The Guilty Die Twice

The Guilty Die Twice by Don Hartshorn

Before I say anything else, I just want to thank TCK Publishing for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this novel. It’s not something I’d necessarily pick out on my own, but I am honestly so glad I read this book! Check out the book on Amazon, or take a look at Don Hartshorn’s own website.

The label ‘legal thriller’ may not entice everyone, but I found this to be so much more than just that. Yes, it was about legal proceedings and conviction of a criminal, but it was also about family, making positive changes in the world, and (of course) finding the truth. It begins with a poignant scene where a convicted criminal is given the lethal injection that ends his life. Throughout the course of the book, through flashbacks and conversations, we learn the backstory of this particular event. The importance of Travis’s endeavour in this book is then established.

I want to highlight that this book confronts the death sentence, with Travis pointing out the flaws in such a system. This is something I definitely agree with. In fact, Travis touches on the idea of rehabilitation instead of punishment, which is something I am hoping to work on as a forensic psychologist. So you can see that this book kind of struck a cord with me.

As legal fiction goes, this was certainly not dull or confusing. It was extremely interesting, well written, and actually rather exciting. I will not share too many details of the book in case I ruin it for any future readers, but I will say that there is death, there is deceit, there is drama. What more could you want?

I’ve given this a strong 4.5 stars overall. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who likes crime books, thrillers, legal fiction, or just a good read in general.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Book Review: The Relentless Moon

The Relentless Moon (Lady Astronaut #3) by Mary Robinette Kowal

I didn’t read any of the other books in this series, but I’ve seen Kowal state that this was intended to be readable as a standalone, too. I certainly didn’t feel like I had missed anything from the previous novels. From what I understand, the narrator of this book (Nicole) is not the same narrator as in the others. Personally, I enjoyed this book so much partly because of Nicole, so I’m not sure I would have reacted quite the same to the other books.

This book offers a sort of alternate history, wherein meteors had previously hit the earth, urging developments in space travel. A colony is being established on the moon, with further flights even heading for Mars. Nicole, one of the first female astronauts, still travels to the moon despite being over fifty years old now and the wife of the governor of Kansas. This particular book is set in the 1960s, partially on earth, and partially on the moon.

Nicole’s character is fascinating in so many ways. Her relationship with her husband Kenneth, for example, and her role in all the politics around his role. She’s also one of few female astronauts, as well as being a little older than most, but with relatively high ranking due to her experience. Finally – and this is where I strongly relate to her – Nicole has anorexia. She manages it most of the time (with the help of Kenneth) but of course has the occasional slip-ups. The way in which the disorder sneaks its way into her life, particularly in times of distress, is very realistic. It’s not always an overt desire to lose weight or starve oneself. It is often simply forgetting to eat, or making excuses, or physically feeling unable to. This can lead to a devastating downward spiral – as Nicole well knows.

It should definitely be noted here that Nicole’s anorexia is in no way the main aspect of the story, or of her character. It affects a lot of things, sure, but it’s not the main story. It’s just a part of her life. I very much appreciated how Kowal did this.

As for the plot, the simplest way of describing it is that there is possibly a saboteur – or group of saboteurs – on the moon. Things have been going wrong with spacecraft, and now there are problems on the moon, too. Further, a Polio outbreak suddenly occurs, which is a bit of a nightmare in a small, close colony. Finally, Kenneth decides to run for president, and Nicole has a lot of personal issues to deal with while trying to hunt down the saboteur.

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

It’s a pretty wild ride. It’s long, but I didn’t find myself getting bored. There were times where I maybe felt a tiny bit lost, especially where a lot of space jargon was used, but most of the time I managed to follow along quite well. 4.5 stars!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021!

I think it’s safe to say that we are all ready for the new year. I know I was well and truly done with 2020! But of course, it wasn’t all bad. I managed to start my own Etsy store, I made some huge developments in recovering from my eating disorder, and, of course, I read lots of books! So here’s a little roundup of what I read, and also a sneak peek of what’s to come in 2021.

First, I’ll leave this link to my Year in Books on Goodreads here. I’m sure many of you are familiar with this little annual summary generated by Goodreads so I needn’t say more!

Without further ado, here’s a list of my five top reads from last year (isn’t it strange to say that?) with a little synopsis and explanation for why I chose it.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird. I cannot believe it took me so long to get round to reading this! It’s a wonderful coming-of-age story following young Scout Finch, exploring race and social class from a child’s perception. Lee writes fantastically and I just fell in love with this book!
  • Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me. This is Lily Collins’ biography, covering a range of topics and areas in her life. I am a fan of hers, and I find her extremely relatable for a number of reasons.
  • Queen of Air and Darkness, the finale to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices trilogy. The story follows Emma Carstairs, Julian Blackthorn and all of his siblings. I won’t say much more for fear of spoilers! I adore anything Shadowhunter, and this series is no exception.
  • One Thousand Paper Cranes, which tells the story of Sadako, a young girl affected by radiation poisoning after the bombing of Hiroshima. The book describes the horrendous affects of the bomb, both instant and long-term. It also explains how Sadako’s life suddenly turned upside down as the life drained from her body. It’s an extremely emotional read, but I’d recommend it to anyone.
  • The Hollow Places (reviewed here). This final book was an ARC I reviewed. It’s a creepy yet almost comedic story telling the discovery of another world just beyond our own. The atmosphere is incredible, full of anticipation and fear. Super unique!

And finally, here are a few of the books I’m most excited about reading in the upcoming months:

Thanks so much for reading! I hope you all have a wonderful 2021.

Book Review: Thirty Talks Weird Love

Thirty Talks Weird Love by Alessandra Narváez Varela

Thanks to Edelweiss+ for giving me the opportunity to read and review this!

I can’t say I’ve read many novels or books set in Mexico. This was definitely pretty different for me, set in a place and time I’m unfamiliar with, with a lot of language I didn’t understand, too. But the story was still relatable, as was the main character, Anamaria.

This is written as a series of poems and letters. As I mentioned above, Anamaria writes in a combination of English and Spanish. The book covers an array of topics, including race, bullying, murder, depression and suicide, and feminism. Many of these things are brought to Anamaria’s attention by Thirty, a stranger who appears one day claiming to be Anamaria from seventeen years in the future (aged thirty). She talks to young Anamaria about self love, depression, and the importance of getting help. As she tries to help Anamaria and another mystery girl, clear differences between Thirty’s life and Anamaria’s become apparent.

This addressed such important topics in a great way. It was simple and easy to read, even if I didn’t understand some of it (I didn’t get very far in Spanish class). It would likely be a fantastic book for young girls from similar backgrounds, suffering with depression, bullying or other problems – or for anyone, honestly. I’m rounding my rating up to 4 stars; I appreciated the messages this book carries and was able to relate to Anamaria in a few ways, but other things were kind of lost on me (which isn’t the books fault!).

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Review: Aura (Aura Jax #1)

Aura (Aura Jax #1) by R.J. Wade

I received a free review copy of this book through Hidden Gems, so a huge thank you to them and the author/publisher!

Dystopian novels are not new, nor are they few. It’s becoming far more frequent to see these stories featuring or revolving around advanced technology. This is one of those books, set in a futuristic world dominated by technology – as well as the Elite. Society is separated into two main categories: Workers and Elite. Workers do just that – they work, right after taking a test at twelve years old. Elite are different; they continue education and go onto work in the Telepathe, the centre of the Society. Within this group are extremely special and rare individuals, who have a Gift. This can take a few different forms, with some Gifts rarer than others.

Aurora ‘Aura’ Jax is a worker, like her mother. Her father is in prison, and the family watch the monthly announcements with dread. During these broadcasts, names are announced for the next executions. It’s only a matter of time until Aura’s father’s name appears.

Aura also has a sister, Selena. She is, in defiance of the strict laws of the Society, neither a Worker nor Elite. She is entirely unregistered. The family have moved around a lot for all of Aura’s life, though she doesn’t really know why. Life is tough for them, as it is for all Workers.

One of Aura’s childhood friends is Elite, and he gives Aura details for a bus leaving the Society. When ‘Cog’s raid their home, Aura’s mother gives herself up to give her daughters a chance to make a run for it. So they do.
The girls make it out, even finding the camp where Aura’s best friend ran away to with his mum. But they find other outcasts, too; Neeve and her father, Edward. They immediately notice that Aura is different, and agree to help the camp with resources if she helps them out. And so they help her learn more about herself, her abilities, and even her past.

This was a really exciting read, though I did find the passage of time kind of strange. I’m not sure how to describe it, but it was nothing major. The details on how different technologies work, as well as how the Gifts work, was really good (though there were perhaps a couple of little holes). I found Aura to be a little naive, I guess, and I wasn’t one hundred per cent sold on her as a character, but she wasn’t bad.

The plot was different, with lots of intriguing twists. And the ending was actually rather unexpected – it definitely intrigued me. I would quite like to read on! I definitely did enjoy this and would recommend it to any YA or sci-fi fans!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Audiobook Review: A Girl Made of Air

A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington (audiobook)

I’m still pretty new to audiobooks and trying out some different genres and styles. This was a little different for me as books go in general, but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it! The narrator was great, and the whole book had an almost dreamy quality.

The book follows a girl called Mouse, an unwanted child of a popular, beautiful circus performer. Mouse grows up with the circus, travelling with them, remaining quiet and unnoticed. When young Serendepity Wilson joins, things change – she takes Mouse in, cares for her and talks to her like nobody had ever done before. They become good friends.

Things soon change again, though. Serendipity Wilson herself becomes pregnant. Mouse doesn’t really understand it all, and she has a lot of emotions around the new child, but she is extremely fond of her once she arrives. The child – Bunnie – and Mouse become close, playing and giggling and, of course, fighting. But Mouse’s childish mistakes of the past, mixed with new mistakes, cause things to change once more. This change affects her whole life.

The book is told through letters from Mouse, transcripts and childhood journal entries. It is not chronological exactly, jumping across the timeline quite a bit. The ending is sort of in the present; the present being the moment in which Mouse is writing. It may sound a little complicated but I didn’t find it particularly problematic.

I love a unique book, and this was definitely one. It was sort of whimsical, but dark and sad, too. The atmosphere was very strange (but not at all in a negative way). The narrator was wonderful, and I really became immersed in the story. I’m not sure how much I actually like Mouse as a character, but we all have flaws, don’t we?

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

My overall rating is 4.5 stars; as much as I enjoyed it, I wouldn’t quite class it as a ‘favourite’.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Book Review: The Hollow Places

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

I am not entirely sure how to describe this book. What I can easily say, however, is that it is great. It is so unique and strange and actually really quite creepy in parts.

In short, the plot revolves around Kara in the midst of a divorce, who moves into the spare room of her uncle’s ‘Wonder Museum’. Kara (or Carrot, according to Uncle Earl) has an abundance of fond memories of the museum, which is full of taxidermy and strange relics from across the world (both real and fake). But then Kara and Simon, the owner of the coffee shop next door, discover an impossible series of corridors and rooms behind the museum. Here, they find a bunker with a rather old corpse, as well as a door leading to… somewhere else.

The other world described by Kingfisher in this book is fascinating. There is a huge sense of anticipation and fear, with little clues and hints being dropped throughout. I’ve honestly never come across anything quite like it.

Possibly the most intriguing thing about this novel is how comic it can be, too. The characters have a great relationship (not romantic in the slightest, which is a relief to me) and the dialogue is great. They’re sarcastic and just so human. I especially love Simon, with all his eccentricities and hilarious one-liners.

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

The only reason I took away half a star for this book is the fact that I’m not sure how well it would be re-read. Once you know the ending, I just don’t know if the atmosphere and tension would quite be the same. Other than that, I really loved this book. Definitely recommend!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.