Book Review: Raven’s Peak

I recently signed up to OnlineBookClub and requested this book as my first to review on the site. It’s a paranormal thriller, focusing on a “hunter” who tracks down demons. It begins with an epilogue following another character, who we later learn more about. The protagonist is a young man called Haatim, completely ordinary and unaware of the paranormal activity in the world. Strange circumstances send him and Abigail – the hunter – off to Raven’s Peak together.

The beginning was rather interesting; Haatim was hired by a complete stranger to track down a suspected stalker. It soon became clear that this was no ordinary stalker, and the situation was definitely unique. However, the following plot felt a little slow to me, taking a while to really develop. It’s possible that the intended peak was earlier than I felt, but I personally felt like the main story only really started when the pair arrived at Raven’s Peak. This did not happen until much nearer the end. This meant that the “main” sotry only lasted for a few short chapters. There was a section between Haatim’s stalker mission and the arrival in Raven’s Peak that felt painfully slow and, quite honestly, boring.

The characters were okay, but I didn’t connect with them emotionally. Haatim was given an emotional backstory – as was Abigail, in fact – but I just did not feel anything for them. Their speech felt a bit disjointed and artificial, and they just didn’t feel particularly real to me. It would’ve been nice to develop the characters’ relationships more, both with each other and their own families.

Many books in the paranormal/supernatural genre feel very similar, and this book is sadly included. There was nothing about it that particularly stood out to me. Some of the ideas in the book are very interesting, though. I am intrigued as to how Haatim’s father is connected to the Ninth Circle, and I also want to know what happens in Abigail’s quest for saving Arthur. But this book didn’t fill me with anticipation or excitement to read on. In fact, it barely mentioned the Ninth Circle, and without that being the series title, I’d never have picked up on it.

I also noticed a few typos and grammatical errors, which would be the result of insufficient editing. While a few errors are often found in books, this felt quite amateurish and unfinished.

Overall, the book wasn’t particularly special or exciting, and didn’t feel as fluid as it should. It wasn’t bad, but it was not outstanding. 2.5 stars.


Book Review: The Returners

I have a vague recollection of reading this some time in the past which is kind of ironic considering the topic of the book itself. While I felt a repeated deja vu throughout this book, I can’t seem to remember when I actually would have read it before. I also couldn’t remember much of the main plot, which is pretty weird.

Anyway, the review.

It’s a good book. honestly, the opening paragraph of this review sums the book up quite well – it’s good, but not overly memorable. When you read it, you often think, “this is good” or “cool” or whatever, but a few months later you’ll forget all about it. At least, that’s how I felt.

Gemma Malley is an author I used to love when I was in my preteens, and I’m not sure if that’s why her books feel very adolescent to me, or if it’s because they actually are. Basically, I feel too old for them now. The protagonists are usually “cool” mid-teens, who the reader is supposed to look up to in some way. But I’m older than most characters and actually find their attitudes a bit pathetic and petty.

The story was good but I felt like there were a few loopholes, honestly. The idea of the “Returners” is interesting but not developed enough – who actually ‘controls’ them? Where did they come from? What is their real purpose? I felt like their purpose was a bit wishy-washy. Douglas’s refusal to change his attitude because it “isn’t their role” or whatever just sounded a bit… lame. Like a cop-out, I guess. I really would’ve liked to know more about the Returners and why they actually exist.

It’s only short and this may contribute to it feeling quite young, but it is well written and really enjoyable to read. Will is almost an anti-hero, and as the reader I both loved and hated him. His thoughts and attitudes were quite sporadic and it was sometimes hard to keep up, but that may have been the intention. I did like how we learned things at the same time as Will – we followed him through his own story. It was also really interesting how Will decided to handle the life he’d been forced into.

4 stars.

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.

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.

Book Review: Murder on Christmas Eve

My dad gave me a few ‘festive’ crime/detective books for Christmas, and this is the first of the three I have read so far. It contains short stories from a selection of well-known authors in the genre, including Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and eight others. All taking place during the holiday season, the tales center around bizarre events that appear to have no rational explanation.
The stories and crimes are all very strange and it’s really interesting to see how the cases were solved. Who knew a cat could solve a murder? And the case of the missing manuscript had a very unexpected conclusion indeed.

I got the sense from these stories that I would have appreciated them more if I had read other works by the authors beforehand. Still, the stories were really interesting and had that classical mystery/detective feel to them. 3/5 stars.

Book Review: Apple Tree Yard

Who doesn’t like a good thriller novel?

The narrative of this book is quite unique, being recalled as an account from the past. Yvonne, the narrator, often refers to “now” and unknown events that have yet to take place in the story. This definitely builds the suspense a lot.

Yvonne takes us through the development of her extramarrital relationship with the unknown “you” (or “X” as she refers to him in her letters). Later, we will learn the identity of Yvonne’s lover, but throughout the book we are given only speculations about his life that Yvonne theorises to be accurate.

This affair is, I suppose, both shocking and familiar at the same time. Yvonne is a successful, loved wife and mother with a safe home and good career. She loves her husband and her children. Her affair is, in this respect, unexpected and outrageous. But at the same time, as Yvonne summarises at the end of the novel, her “one-off” offence falls perfectly into the typical category of people like her. People who do not cheat on their partners because they don’t love them. Unline “you”, who cheats repeatedly for the excitement of it.

Most of the book is dedicated to the devlopment of the relationship, with other details of Yvonne’s life and comments about the present included here and there. Yvonne is eventually sexually assaulted by a coworker/acquaintance. Amazingly, this event leads to Yvonne being on trial for murder.

The court case is described fantastically, with plenty of detail about all the little things that really set the scene. The narrative throughout the book is also fantastic – it really has the ‘feel’ of a middle-aged woman. 3.5 stars.Bookmarked Signature Logo

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Batman: The Killing Joke

Batman: The Killing Joke

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland – Hardcover, Deluxe Edition, 64 pages – Published March 19th 2008 by DC Comics (first published 1988)

I went to London Super Comic Con on Friday and bought a few image books/graphic novels (I can’t wait to read them!) and decided to start taking advantage of my boyfriend’s extensive comic/graphic novel collection. As I’ve been intending to read The Killing Joke for ages now, I decided to start with that.

The edition I read included an introduction by Tim Sales, an afterword by Brian Bolland, and a final scene written and illustrated by Bolland.

This is one of the most famous and successful novels – and I can see why. The story is just fantastic – the Joker tries to prove that anyone can go insane after just one bad day, using Jim Gordon as his example. The colour palettes are so cleverly thought out, giving an eerie, creepy tone to most scenes, while the Joker’s (possible) origin story is mostly black and white with just small details in red.

Batman is obviously included, but is not a massive character in this story. The focus is on the Gordons and the Joker.

I really loved this. The origin story for the Joker that’s included can be taken as true or false – the Joker makes a comment about not actually remembering his past, and liking it to be “multiple choice”. This gives the reader the choice of believing it or not. And the Joker’s ways of putting Jim Gordon through hell are definitely in line with his character.

The Joker always fascinates me, and I would love to read all his stories. But whether you’re a “fan” of his or not, this book is definitely worth the read. 5 stars; an fantastic novel.


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.


Graphic Novel Review: American Vampire Volume #1

American Vampire Volume #1

American Vampire Volume #1 by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque and Stephen King – Paperback, 192 pages – Published November 1st 2011 by Titan Publishing Company (first published October 5th 2010)

I’ve decided to check out more graphic novels at the local library, and have started going through alphabetically. Which is how I found this series, by Stephen King, Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque.

It’s an adult graphic novel, complete with tons of action and obscenities. It’s set back in the 19th and 20th Centuries, in – you guessed it – America. It’s about a new breed of vampires; the American Vampire, stronger and less vulnerable than the original European vampire.

Of course, the two groups are rivals. Best friends fight each other, and one person welcomes death instead of becoming a monster. It’s all very interesting and exciting. The art is great, too – it really portrays the action and danger and monstrosity of the vampires.

But I, personally, got a bit lost and confused with the timeline – there are dates and everything, but I often forget them. And all the different characters got a bit confusing for me, too, but that might be because I didn’t have the time to sit down and really focus on the novel.

I’m still planning on reading the next few volumes of this series. It’s really interesting, and I like this new breed of vampires. As for the young girl born at the end….. I wonder where that will go! 3 stars.