Fiction

Book Review: Glass Sword

Glass Sword (Red Queen #2)

Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard – Paperback, 464 pages – Published February 11th 2016 by Orion (first published February 9th 2016)

When I read the first novel in this series, Red Queen, I was absolutely hooked on Aveyard’s writing. So I found the second book, Glass Sword, eager to follow Mare’s story as she fought alongside the Scarlet Guard and bring the newbloods to safety. Although the book is good, it was not as amazing as I had first hoped. Still, I’m really looking forward to reading the next one.

After the battle in the Bowl of Bones, Cal and Mare are on the run. Everyone knows their faces, their stories – the stories Maven and Elara are telling, anyway. Cal, the fallen prince, the murderer of the king and his own father. And Mare, the Lightning Girl, to one who corrupted the prince. And of course, the Scarlet Guard are being hunted.

Farley, Kilorn, Cal, Mare, and Shade steal a jet from the Scarlet Guard’s hidden island, and set out to collect as many people from Julian’s list before Maven finds them. Sadly, they are not always the first ones there. Eventually, they have a small army ready, just in time for meeting Jon – a newblood with vision that stretches farther than any Silver eye’s. He hints at their fate, the action they should take. In three days, they will free both Reds and Silvers from Corros prison.

As always, this war brings death. One death is particularly important, but I won’t ruin it. And one death honestly broke my heart. (I was kinda hoping they would come back throughout the whole of the rest of the book, even though I knew they were dead.) I was so not expecting that death.

The not-relationship between Mare and Cal is continued, and sort of developed. They clearly still care for each other, but try not to let their affections get in their way.

Honestly, I didn’t like Mare that much in this book. She came across as kind of stuck up, often pointing out how she was so “valuable” and “special”. She also became colder and more comfortable with murder, but that would happen to most people in a violent environment like hers. Still, I felt like she lost some of her original charm and personality, and became too harsh and, well, bitchy.

Also, Mare misses Maven (or the person she thought he was, anyway) which is natural. She tries to remind herself that he was never truly like that, and that he was always a monster. But I actually found myself still rooting for him, hoping for him to come out innocent. I just don’t seem to hate him as much as intended.

Despite Mare’s character flaws, the story was still great. The ending has definitely left me wanting more. What will happen now that the truth is out? Now that the imprisoned Silvers are free to tell their stories? I can’t wait to find out. 4 stars.

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Batman Beyond Volume #1: Escaping the Grave

Batman Beyond (DC Universe Rebirth) Volume #1: Escaping the Grave

Batman Beyond (DC Universe Rebirth) Volume #1: Escaping the Grave by Dan Jurgens – eBook, 146 pages – Published June 11th 2017 by DC Entertainment

Another story from DC’s Rebirth universe, set several decades from now in Neo-Gotham – or Jokerz Town as it’s been dubbed. There’s a new Batman on the streets and a whole gang of Jokerz. Terry, having been trained by the late Bruce Wayne, is wearing the cape and cowl now. The new clown-crazed criminals need to be dealt with – especially when they kidnap Terry’s old girlfriend, Dana.

Terminal, an old school friend of Dana and now the leader of the Jokerz, has a mad plan in action. It involves the original Joker, who everyone believed to be dead.

There are several big surprises in this novel. It’s a really interesting volume, definitely enticing you to read on. The readers aren’t the only one being surprised, though – every character is dealt their fair share of shock in this story!

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

I like what I’ve seen of Terry so far, and his relationship with his little brother. I look forward to learning more about them. And I’m super interested to see what happens after the final plot twist was revealed. This seems like a really interesting comic, and I’m giving this issue 4 stars.

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Book Review: Kahayatle

Kahayatle

Kahayatle (Apocalypsis #1) by Elle Casey – eBook, 385 pages – Published June 22nd 2012 by Elle Casey

I can’t actually remember where I got this – probably Instafreebie or from the author’s newsletter – but I know I got my copy for free.

The book’s about a couple of kids coming together after the death of every adult and young child. It’s hard to survive, with everyone fighting over any supplies, but things are getting really bad – as in, cannibalism bad.

Bryn partners herself with the skinny, gay kid hiding next door, despite knowing he’s not gonna be much help in the defense department. He tells her about the death of his little sister – eaten by other kids. They decide it’s no longer safe to stay where they are, and are proven right when attacked inside their home. They plan to retreat to the everglades, where the swamps should be inhospitable enough for others to avoid them, but still safe enough to survive in. On their way, they find Bodo, a German exchange student.

Eventually, they do end up at their destination. But the everglades – or Kahayatle, as the indians call it – hold many new problems.

I did notice a fair few grammar mistakes, and just generally found this book a little unprofessional at times. Often, I find unprofessional books really hard to read – but I actually enjoyed this. I’m even considering buying (or borrowing) the rest of the series.

The tiny bits of romance did seem a little out-of-place, not integrated particularly well sometimes. But I suppose it’ll be developed later in the series, and I didn’t find it too lovey or anything, which is definitely good.

With a bit more polishing, I think this could easily be a 4 star book. But for now, I’m going to give it 3.5. It was a good read, but there are some improvements that could be made.

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Book Review: The Monstrous Child

The Monstrous Child

The Monstrous Child (Mortal Gods #3) by Francesca Simon – Paperback, 320 pages – Published December 1st 2016 by Faber Faber

I finished this on Tuesday but have had some technical problems, which is why I’m posting it now. (Sorry.)

Apparently this is book #3 in the Mortal Gods series – but I read it believing it to be a standalone novel and really enjoyed it like that. It’s another short, new YA book, which a pretty large font to fill up more space. I never used to like short books, but I’ve found some I’ve really enjoyed recently, including this one.

One of Loki’s (monstrous) children is Hel, a girl with a perfectly normal human body… except her legs are deadLike, full-on decaying dead. Still, she’s a goddess, even if she’s never treated as one.

Hel has learned to just deal with what she’s got in life and carry on. But when she’s kidnapped and taken to Asgard – the home of the gods – she finds an unexpected light of hope. His name is Baldr, and he’s the only one who’s ever treated her like she’s normal. The only problem is that he’s married.

And then, just to make matters worse, Hel is literally thrown into the underworld, sentenced to be the queen of Nifelheim for all of eternity. It’s cold, smelly, and soon enough, full of dead people. She’s alone, plotting her revenge on the gods, with no chance of escape – but at least it’s hers. She can build her own fortress without anyone guiding her; she can order the dead around however she pleases. And she can have a high seat ready, beside hers, for when Baldr inevitably comes for her.

What she wasn’t planning was a third seat…

Anyway, Hel has created Hel for the dead, the End of Days is drawing nearer, and dear old Dad has dropped by for a favour. All very… fun. 

I thought this was a really different kind of book. The narrative voice is really sarcastic and youthful, pretty funny too, as well as still sounding like a Norse goddess. She also sounded somewhat modern, too – which I suppose would be the case if you were immortal. Sometimes I found her to find a little too sarcastic and bitter, a little too chatty and “different”. I don’t know, it just didn’t sound all that natural sometimes.

The whole Norse theme was refreshing – not some paranormal YA romance that you see everywhere – and really well told. Hel was a really interesting character, too; modern enough to relate to yet still believably a Norse goddess.

As I said, I read this without realising there were other books before it in the series. I didn’t realise that at all while reading – I didn’t feel like I was missing anything and still enjoyed it plenty. I’m going to say 3.5 to 4 stars for The Monstrous Child. I’ll have to look out for the other books.

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Book Review: Highly Illogical Behaviour

Highly Illogical Behaviour

Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley – Paperback, 249 pages – Published May 26th 2016 by Faber and Faber (first published May 10th 2016)

This is only a short book, but there is a huge story between these pages. I personally found this book amazing because I related so much to one character, Solomon, due to my own personal experiences with mental illness. (Hah! You’ll get that reference if you read the book.) But I still think that anyone will enjoy this book, and gain a deeper understanding of the mental health issues that are discussed.

Lisa seeks out Solomon, the “crazy” kid who jumped into a fountain three years ago, in hopes of writing a scholarship-winning essay on him. Solomon hasn’t left the house in three years. Not even to go in his own back garden. Every time he tries to, or even thinks about it, he has severe panic attacks. So instead of trying anymore, he gave up and made peace with a life inside four walls.

As an aspiring psychologist, Solomon’s case is perfect. But they become close friends, and eventually, Lisa even brings her boyfriend, Clark, to meet Sol. One thing they never expected was Sol falling in love… with Clark.

I have had times where I have been unable to leave my house. I used to have my school work sent home, and would avoid seeing anyone for as long as I could. It never got as bad as Sol’s case, but I would happily stay inside my house 24/7. (My mum won’t let me, though.) So I really did relate to Solomon. The descriptions of his behaviours and thoughts were really accurate in my opinion. It was quite inspiring to watch him slowly emerge from his shell and start living again.

Of course, there’s also the topic of homosexuality in this. I love how Clark remained so friendly even when he knew Sol was gay – not doing the whole “ew he might fancy me” thing that a lot of guys tend to. They were best friends. But Lisa was fed ideas by her friend, Janis, that made her worry Clark was cheating on her with Sol. Yeah. Awkward.

Overall, I just thought this was fantastically written. There are aspects for everyone to relate to, I think. And hopefully, it will help people understand why some of us may seem so “crazy”.

I can easily give this book 4.5 stars. I really enjoyed it, and loved the characters and their relationships. Even when Lisa was using Sol, I could see how she had good intentions. It was so well written.

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Book Review: Dead to You

Dead to You

Dead to You by Lisa McMann – Paperback, 288 pages – Published May 2nd 2013 by Scholastic (first published February 7th 2010)

This is just a short YA book, but it was really interesting. It’s about Ethan, a teenager who was abducted 9 years ago and lived alone on the streets after being abandoned, who has returned to his family at last.

Obviously, it isn’t going to be easy for anyone. But Ethan doesn’t remember a single detail from his life before the abduction, and his brother, Blake, is adamant that he’s an imposter. The family goes through therapy together, and Ethan builds a loving relationship with his young new sister. But even with his new girlfriend, Ethan finds his new life awkward and difficult. The tension in his house is unbearable, and his own anger issues aren’t making things any easier.

I personally found Ethan’s edgy, youthful narration a bit fabricated. Almost like McMann was trying too hard to make him come across a certain way. But it wasn’t a major problem, and I still enjoyed the book.

And the ending was so unexpected, and not in the typical, predictable way. I won’t ruin it for anyone who wants to read it, but the ending raised this book from 3.5 stars to 4.

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Superwoman Volume #1: Who Killed Superwoman?

Superwoman Volume #1: Who Killed Superwoman?

Who Killed Superwoman? (Superwoman: DC Universe Rebirth Volume #1) by Phil Jimenez – eBook, 170 pages – Published May 9th 2017 by DC Entertainment (first published April 4th 2017)

I finished this ARC this morning, just one day before the file expires. Oops.

So the protagonist of this novel is Lana Lang – probably a lesser-known character from the DC Universe. She, along with the infamous Lois Lane, doubles as a Superwoman – protecting the city now that Superman is gone. Of course, they still have Lex Luthor playing Superman, but he seems to be bringing more trouble than good.

I won’t ruin it for any potential readers, but I will tell you this: Lex’s past is really coming back to haunt him now. After all these years, there appears to be a new Luthor on the block…

My favourite part of this was Lana’s battle with anxiety. Yeah, I know, I always point out stuff like that. But this was really good – I found it so relatable at times. It was so refreshing to see a big superhero character have human issues like anxiety.

And I actually found myself feeling kinda sorry for Lex. He was only trying to help (though I suppose we all know the road to Hell is paved with good intentions).

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

I really liked this volume. The art was great, the plot interesting, and the characters relatable. 4 out of 5 stars. A series I’ll be reading more of.

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Manga/Graphic Novel Review: MANGA CLASSICS Emma

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

After reading a couple of the books in this Manga Classics collection, I decided to take a look at the other titles available on NetGalley. I’ve never read the original novel by Jane Austen, but I hadn’t read Great Expectations either before reading the manga adaptation.

Emma

Manga Classics: Emma by Stacy King (originally by Jane Austen) – eBook, 377 pages – Published June 17th 2015 by UDON Entertainment

As usual with these adaptations, I’m not going to focus too much on the story as that was down to the original author, not the author of this particular adaptation. Here’s a quick synopsis though, in case you’re not familiar with the novel:

Emma Woodhouse is a single young lady living with her father. She prides herself for her ability to see into the hearts and minds of others, and her matchmaking capabilities. Her governess has just recently married a man Emma set her up with, after all. When she acquires the friendship of Harriet, she believes herself capable of matching her with a suitable gentleman. But it turns out to be a lot more difficult than she anticipated.

And her own mind – once set on remaining single and unmarried forever – is suddenly rather confused…

It is, clearly, a romance novel. But it’s not just a boy-meets-girl kinda thing. It’s a typical Austen novel, I think, with all the misguided affections and complicated love stories all tangled up.

This adaptation is wonderful; I’m a big fan of this collection. As I’ve said before, it helps you understand the story and characters a lot better, and is really useful for people who aren’t that fond of classic literature. The author manages to keep the original tone and language (mostly) intact, while still making it a lot easier to understand and relate to. The art is fantastic, too; it really expresses the different moods and scenes, and the feelings of each character.

I’d easily give this 4 stars out of 5. I really think this collection is worth looking at, whether you’re interested in classic novels or not.

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Manga/Graphic Novel Review: The Beast’s Tale

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

A few days ago I posted my review of the first instalment of this collection, Belle’s Tale.

The Beast's Tale

The Beast’s Tale (Beauty and the Beast #2) by Mallory Reaves – eBook, 178 pages – Published March 2017 by TokyoPop

There’s not a whole lot extra I can say about this one, as I mentioned the art style last time. I did like how this featured the Beast’s side – as the title suggests – and therefore provides more insight into his own experiences and feelings. It was nice to read these two parts together; the same story but from different perspectives. I think it was a pretty unique was of telling the classic fairytale.

This has never been my favourite story, but I still enjoyed it. I preferred this book to the first one, as it seems a bit more original and took a bit of a new turn on the original story. Overall, a strong 3.5 stars.

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Book Review: Evil Rises

Evil Rises

Evil Rises (Noah Reid #0.5) by Wesley Robert Lowe – eBook, 42 pages – First published June 10th 2014

This is just a short prequel to Lowe’s Noah Reid series, with a little extract from the first book included at the end. The story itself is only about 35 pages long.

There’s a little intro to the culture and the origin of Shaolin Martial Arts, which is an important theme in this story. It helped to understand the story, so I appreciated that detail.

The beginning of this story is almost a prequel to the prequel; the childhood experience of Wudan, who would later become Master Wu. Why he chose to take up Shaolin training, and then why he decided to leave “Heaven” to teach the art to others.

The protagonist of the series, Noah, is introduced in this story. He’s not a big character here, though – we’re simply given a taste of what he’ll be like and what purpose he will serve. Instead, this story focuses on some of Master Wu’s students: Tommy, Garret, and (presumably) the antagonist of the series, Chin. We see how Chin went from a young student to a criminal businessman, and are even given some of his motives. And then, after a tragic “accident”, we see his former friends and colleagues planning to defeat him when the time comes.

I like the idea of this, and having all this backstory is really interesting. But this was one of those books that just didn’t stand put to me. The writing seemed mediocre, the characters average at best. I didn’t dislike it, exactly, but it didn’t really excite or interest me. 2.5 stars, as it wasn’t awful but it just wasn’t my kind of thing.

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