Month: January 2018

Book Review: Glow

This is just going to be a quick review of the book I finished last week, Glow. I found it and borrowed it from my local library on a whim because it looked interesting, but I was sort of disappointed. Although I love the scientific references throughout the book I just found it a bit boring, honestly. It was meant to be thrilling and gripping… I just didn’t feel that way.

Raf manages to get caught up in some major business involving a new drug, Glow, and a massive corporation called Lacebark. Somehow the mysterious girl he met at a party is also tied up in it, as is the friend of Raf’s who recently went missing.

Somehow Raf also meets all the right people along the way, and gets accepted into helping them with their cause. I found this rather unplausable but that’s just me, I suppose. My main problem was having no investment in Raf as a character, and not feeling any of his relationships with any other characters to any degree whatsoever. He just didn’t feel real enough.

I honestly don’t quite get what even happened. Why was Lacebark killing people? Why was Win working for them? I just got a bit lost in the end. It’s a shame, because I really liked the amount of biological vocabulary scattered throughout – it made me feel like I’m actually learning things in my Psychology A-Level!

2 to 2.5 stars at a push.

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Book Review: History Is All You Left Me

Wow. Just… wow.

Okay so the main/underlying theme in this is the death of Griffin’s closest friend and first love, Theo. We’re given alternating excerpts from different moments in the past (such as when Theo and Griffin first got together, fun memories they made, sad moments etc) and excerpts from “now” (after Theo’s death). While this alone is a huge topic that is so important to address, this book manages to discuss several other issues at the same time.

The most important part of this book (to me) was Griffin learning how to move on without feeling guilty for betraying Theo. My boyfriend lost someone a few years ago and sometime’s I get scared I’m “competing with a ghost” (which is a fantastic quote from in this book, but I won’t tell you who said it because that’s a pretty big spoiler). I can only imagine how awful it must feel to lose someone you love, and how crap you’d feel for ‘forgetting’ them. But Griffin tackles this, not quickly or easily, but through mistakes and heartache and small realisations. It’s a very realistic portrayal of the journey, I think, and offers hope at the same time.

Other themes include homozexuality – which is explored through four different characters, as opposed to just one or two – and even OCD. Griffin’s OCD isn’t by any means the “main” plot, but it impacts everything in his life – which is, of course, very true for anyone with a mental illness like that. It reveals itself in tiny ways throughout his life, and is even seen as a sort of “quirk” by Theo. I especiay liked how Griffin’s new love interest at the end of the book tackles his compulsions so differently to Theo – he encourages him to move on and fight them, rather than just accepting them and letting them rule both Griffin’s and his behaviour.

I’m not sure if this counts as a theme, but there’s also the big issue of Griffin actually meeting the boy Theo was dating when he died. (Theo moved away to go to college, and his relationship with Griffin came to a weird end-but-not-quite. Theo found a new boyfriend, Jackson.) Jackson and Griffin had spent months hating each other, and refusing to even try to get on. But after Theo’s death, Griffin realises that this is the only other person who understands exactly what he’s going through. Although he hates that they had their own history together he knows that it means Jackson is grieving in the same way as Griffin. They eventually decide to help each other through the first month following his death, but when Jackson reveals how Theo told him some very personal information from Griffin’s childhood, Griffin begins to see Jackson as a weapon. Since his death, Griffin has been talking to Theo in his head. Now he wants him to watch as he has sex with his boyfriend.

Like I said, Griffin makes a lot of mistakes. He knows that. He made mistakes while Theo was alive, too – there are references to the “taboo” issue between him and Theo and the betrayal Griffin felt he committed that we are later informed about. But Wade, their closest friend since childhood, becomes the rock that Griffin had never expected. He helps Griffin see that Theo is in the wrong by asking him to wait for them to get back together when he has clearly moved on himself. Wade later helps Griffin see that Theo would be happy to see him move on, too, and that despite being his first love, Theo doesn’t have to be his only love.

So yeah, a pretty emotional book with a hell of a lot of twists. I loved it. I have another book by Adam Silvera on my shelf to read (I bought it back before I’d found this) and I am seriously looking forward to it now. Amazing book: 5 stars.

Book Review: Adamant

I can’t remember how I came across this book but I read it on the mobile Kindle app.

It alternates between two narrative voices: Ada and Kay. At first, their two narratives seem completely disconnected but they soon merge together in one single plot.

In this multiverse, there is a sort of political agreement amongst the dozens of different worlds. Ada helps smuggle runaways from other planets onto Earth, while Kay has only just graduated from the Academy and got himself a job at the Alliance. When Ada and her friends break in to the Alliance to steal some bloodrock – an important ingredient for their magic disguise formula – Kay happens to be on duty. He arrests Ada while the others escape. But there are murders happening within the Alliance, and Kay and Ada both realise that they don’t know their friends as well as they thought.

I wasn’t all that keen on Ada as a character, personally, but Kay was okay. (Haha.) Their “budding romance” was a bit strained, I think, and forced into the story too much. The sort of negative connotations around magic was quite interesting, though.

It was quite a good book, with a ton of plot twists and deception. Ada’s trust issues are really not going to be any better after all this! 3 stars.

Book Review: A Note of Madness

Tabitha Suzuma is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors.

I didn’t realise this was the first of two books, but it reads fine as a standalone novel anyway. I hadn’t intended to read on, but I just love Suzuma’s writing too much. I’ve reserved the next novel at the library.

I found this quite similar to Hurt in a couple of ways; firstly, the protagonist is a young male who is experiencing something very unpleasant but important to talk about. Instead of rape, as in Hurt, this time the topic is mental health. Flynn’s got the whole world at his feet, but suddenly he’s up all night composing or drowning himself in alcohol and aspirin. Everything feels wrong and he doesn’t know why. His flatmate, Harry, calls Flynn’s brother in to help. He’s a doctor and soon realises Flynn needs proper help. After one incorrect diagnosis and several relapses, Flynn finally feels the world go back to normal.

Although the ending is typically “hopeful” (which you can only expect, really – it’s not gonna be very helpful for kids to read stories where you never recover from your mental illness) it still manages to be realistic rather than overly positive and optimistic. For example, Flynn is offered a couple of amazing experiences in this book, the first of which he is determined to take. But he doesn’t, because his health declines so much. I can tell you how horrible it is when you have your heart set on something but your mental health holds you back… Sometimes you just can’t do it. Flynn’s health gets so bad that his brother takes him away on the eve of his big concert (he’s a music uni student).

There’s also a romance line through this, which I gather will be furthered in the next book. Flynn doesn’t pay much attention to it – doesn’t even notice it – due to his condition, until it’s too late and he’s messed it up. Jennah is an old crush of his, recently parted from her boyfriend for a mysterious “other guy”. Flynn just doesn’t put 2 and 2 together, though, and assumes she could never love him because he’s so hopeless and talentless and depressed. Things really get bad when they argue about it during one of Flynn’s relapses, and she goes missing for the night. I must admit that I immediately feared the worst after what happened in Hurt, but it was eventually resolved. I am very interested in reading how Flynn’s mental illness impacts his relationship in the future.

This is a great topic to address, especially in males. The episodes may be a little exaggerated but then I suppose that is how some people experience it. It’s different for everyone. I really appreciate the age chosen, too, because people often forget that mental illnesses don’t only develop when you’re twelve or thirteen. 5 stars; a fantastic book and a fantastic author.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. #3: Quest for Hope

Last year I was actually up to date with this series as it came out weekly, so I’ve read this story arc already. I reread it again quickly today in order to review it.

I’m quite a big fan of the Lanterns, and I really enjoy the banter between Hal and Kyle. This arc was particularly good. The ending – the revelation about Sarko, the ‘enemy’ – was fantastic. I know what happens in the next issues from this volume and I can tell you it’s pretty great.

I’ll try not to talk too much about the next issues, but this volume is definitely a superb setup for some really interesting stories. The Green Lantern Corps and Sinestro’s Corps are finally united as one force, though some members aren’t so happy about it. Guy Gardner goes about it in his own way, as is expected – nearly getting himself killed, but eventually becoming friends with Arkillo. We also see into Guy’s childhood, which was interesting.

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

The Corps’ are attacked by forgein constructs, that Kyle believes to be his own creation from when he was wearing Krona’s Gauntlet. This is where Sarko, the villain of the story, comes in.

I think this is a great arc, and I just love the chemistry amongst the characters. 4/5 stars.

Book Review: Murder Under The Christmas Tree

This is the third and final book I was given for Christmas, another collection of classic crime stories. It’s similar to Murder On Christmas Eve, so I’m not going to write too much in this review. Out of the two, though, this is my favourite collection.

The stories in this collection are, for the most part, very good. The last couple weren’t as engaging, but there’s always going to be one or two you don’t like. This collection even includes a tale about Sherlock Holmes (and Watson, of course) bt Arthur Conan Doyle himself. It was actually the first I’ve read of his work, and it was definitely as fantastic as I’d hoped.

Like the other book, the ten stories very from missing jewels hidden inside geese, to missing candle sticks, to death-by-radio. They’re all very interesting mysteries, again seemingly simple on the surface but always a lot more incricate than they seem.

A nice collection of classic “festive” crimes. 3.5 stars.

Book Review: The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories

It’s getting a bit late to post these festive reviews so I’ll keep it short. It’s only a short book, anyway.

This book contains four short stories, all crime/detective tales, starting with The Mistltoe Murder. My personal favourite was the final story, The Twelve Clues of Christmas. Every story was great, though, and A Very Commonplace Murder was particularly surprising.

James manages to include a fantastic little hint/twist at the end of the stories, changing your whole perception on what you’ve just read. This made the crimes so much more interesting and real. They were relatively simple crimes – stabbings, poisoning – but there’s always a lot more going on under the surface than you’d expect.

A fantastic little collection, with a foreword by Val McDermid too. 4 stars.

2017 Wrap Up!

I can’t believe it’s 2018 already! 2017 definitely had it’s ups and downs, but for now I’m going to focus on all the books I read! My goal was 100 books, which I sadly did not quite reach. I did manage 82, though, which I’m quite pleased with. You can see all the books I read here.

There have been tons of amazing books, but I’m going to pick the top ten that I read. (Barely any I read were actually published in 2017, though.)

  1. Hurt: This was so, so emotional. It tackled the topic of male rape, while being incredibly addictive and honest. The only book that managed to make me cry this year.
  2. Wintergirls: One of the anorexia-related books that I picked up last year. Fantastically written and super relatable. Interesting paranormal twist to it, too.
  3. The Bane Chronicles: A fantastic collection of stories focusing on my favourite character from the Mortal Instruments – Magnus Bane. The stories spread over the many centuries of Magnus’s existence, perfectly reflecting the time periods, the different locations and the wonderful personality of Magnus himself. It really felt like he was telling the stories himself.
  4. Alice in the Looking Glass: A Mother and Daughter’s Experience of Anorexia: Another eating disorder-related book, but a non-fiction one this time. Both mother and daughter (Alice, the daughter, being the sufferer) recall their experience with the disorder and her wobbly road to recovery. A wonderful book, honest and realistic but filled with hope.
  5. Bleach 3-in-1 Volume #1: I haven’t seen the show, but fell in love with the book. (My boyfriend has since bought me most of the collection which I am dying to binge-read this year.) It’s funny and exciting and the art is fantastic – a perfect manga, really.
  6. Batman: The Killing Joke: An essential read for any comic book/graphic novel fans. I’m fascinated by the Joker as a character and am planning to read as many graphic novels featuring him as I can. I knew this to be a good place to start as it’s so iconic. The art is used amazingly – colour palettes accentuating the story at key moments. We see a glimpse into the Joker’s past – but is it real?
  7. Gotham Academy: Second Semester Volume #1: Welcome Back: This series was amazing. Olive’s mother was imprisoned by Batman, and she fears she’s going to turn crazy too. But her relationships with the other students are so lovely, and I adored her as a character. This was a really moving series. Great fun, too.
  8. Supergirl Volume #1: Reign of the Cyborg Supermen: This was the first I’d read of Supergirl, and I was definitely impressed. I haven’t watched the show so didn’t have the problem of feeling like this was “based on” that series. I liked watching Kara fit into her new Earth life, and look forward to reading more.
  9. Whisper to Me: Another book I picked up without even knowing what it was about. But once I started, I honestly couldn’t stop. It was absolutely fantastic! Strange, definitely unique, and so addictive.
  10. Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice: This probably seems like a bit of a weird one, but it was surprisingly good. If you don’t get on with classic literature then this can really help you understand the story, but it’s also just really pretty on it’s own.

So there you go! 10 of my favourite books from last year. (Still weird to say.) Feel free to let me know if you’ve read any of these, or what you’re favourites have been from 2017! Happy New Year everyone, may you bookshelves be fruitful and your teacups full.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: The Justice League of America Volume #1: The Extremists

I finished this last year (it feels so odd to saort one as I want to get a headstart on this year’s reading challenge and have a healthy TBR pile beside me…

I must say the the Justice League comics aren’t my favourite. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m far more attracted to Suicide Squad and Batman and Batgirl comics. Although it is nice to see all these characters together – especially with former villains such as [Killer] Frost on the League – I wasn’t particularly wowed by this volume. The most interesting part, I found, was the development in Frost’s personal story and the possible discovery of a “cure” for her condition.

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

The plot of Extremists is Lord Havok and his gang – the aptly named Extremists – coming to Earth to create ‘peace’. As is often the case, his vision of peace is more like complete control and dominance over the world, which the JLA aren’t going to let happen very easily. So the battle begins, while Havok goes around taking countries under his control, starting with Kravia.

The plot isn’t bad and there isn’t really anything wrong with this book, but it just didn’t feel all that exciting or special. 3 stars.