Series

Book Review: A Voice in the Distance (Flynn Laukonen #2)

I read A Note of Madness a little while ago and absolutely loved it. Flynn is a great character, and the story of his struggles with mental health is just fantastic. There can never be too much awareness, especially in boys/men.

This book was even more… emotional for me. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but Flynn really reminds me of my boyfriend. The ending of this novel – while fantastic and honest – was not very comforting at all.

Jennah and Flynn started dating after the first book, and so in this book we alternate between the two narratives. Hearing Jennah’s thoughts on what’s happening with Flynn was amazing. I related to a lot of it.

In case you haven’t heard about A Note of Madness, it’s about Flynn Laukonen, a young uni student in London. He struggles with mental health problems and is misdiagnosed at first, but eventually correctly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He suffers from extreme manic episodes, followed by severe depression. Fitting his music – especially competitions – around these episodes is quite a feat.

As I mentioned earlier, the ending is great. It was extremely bittersweet. I think it’s good to be honest about things like this, though, and not just throw together a stereotypical happy ending.

In this book, Flynn goes through a few treatment methods. Following attempted suicide (which may be hard for some people to read about, so be warned) he is sectioned and sent to a residential unit for a month. He also has some issues involving his medication and the side effects they cause.

The most noteworthy thing about Jennah’s take on Flynn’s illness is her admitting that Flynn can be horrible and can hurt her sometimes, and it’s okay to recognise that. Just because he is ill does not mean he is excused for harmful and mean behaviour. This is so important for anyone to realise when dealing with a loved one with any kind of mental health problems.

A really good book, realistic and reassuring but really quite emotional. 4 stars.

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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: 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.

Book Review: The Other Wind

68059I think this has been my favourite of the Earthsea novels. It tied all the previous stories together, and included two of my favourite characters – Tenar and Tehanu.

Again, there were times where I felt a little bored or lost, but when I was able to sit and really focus on reading it, I really did enjoy this book. I guess it’s not really a “light” read.

This story focused more on dragons, and how humans had broken an ancient promise by seeking immortality. Women – who were previously seen as lesser than men – are invited to Roke, and help to bring peace amongst dragon and mankind.

The history of dragons and men being one species was a really interesting concept, as was the “other wind” that Irian and Tehanu long for. The ending was pretty sad, too – the bond between Tenar and Tehanu was so strong, but they knew that they would have to let each other go.

I definitely found this the most interesting out of the series. The writing is lovely (if a little archaic, but that fits the universe Le Guin has created) and I love some of the characters. 3.5 stars.

Check out the whole series here.

Book Review: The Bane Chronicles

9781406360585-usThere are a few companion novels to Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices, but as this one is centred around my favourite character, I just had to read it.

The first thing I noticed was how well the changing time periods were reflected in the language and writing. As a warlock, Magnus has lived through hundreds of years and in dozens of different countries. I felt like, as the reader, I was really transported to all those different eras and places along with Magnus. But he still had that charm and humour that I adore so much about him, and the eccentricity we all love.

Most of this book is filled with tales from before the characters of The Mortal Instruments are even alive. If you’ve read the series you’ll notice how the events tie into references from those books. I really enjoyed reading more details on things that are casually mentioned in the main series, especially as Magnus is such an interesting character with so many stories to tell. Some of the main events include his relationship with Camille, his helping Raphael when turned into a vampire, and (of course) his relationship with Alec. We also hear a lot about what really happened in Peru…

This is definitely one of my favourite companion books – a lot of authors seem to go too far with their franchise and try too hard to write extra books. This felt more natural and was thoroughly enjoyable. 5 stars!

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Book Review: Inkdeath

12516763This is the final book in Cornelia Funke ‘s Inkworld trilogy, and the longest of them all. I have to admit that this one did get a bit tedious at times, despite being well written. It was just too long.

Meggie has read Farid and herself into Inkworld, and Resa and Mo soon followed. They get into quite a lot of trouble, especially when Fenoglio – the author of ‘Inkheart’ – uses Mo as the template for a famous character in his songs.

The plot is very intricate. Motorola returns a few times, the Black Prince and all the robbers take in Meggie, Dustfinger meets Death on more than one occasion, Mo binds the Adderhead a book of immortality – the list goes on. But Death is quite a big character here, and there are a lot of dramatic scenes. I don’t want to spend too long summarising the novel, but I can say that it’s full of action and interesting twists. While this series still has a sort of innocent, fairy-tale feel to it, it is definitely a lot darker than any children’s story.

I liked how Mo, who had been so angry at Inkworld, becomes entranced by its beauty. When things start to get rough and Meggie and Resa want to return home, Mo is the one who pleads to stay. His second identity as the Bluejay – the infamous robber created by Fenoglio – is taking over, and even he finds himself in the company of Death.

The writing is great, and the ending really made me pity Farid. I think this was a bit too long, and I did get pretty disinterested at times in the middle. It’s a shame, because I know it was probably really interesting stuff, but I just didn’t have the capacity to stay interested for so long. Maybe that’s just me, but I’m sure I’ve had no trouble reading other long books.

Maybe I’ll reread this trilogy some other time when I have no other distractions and can appreciate it more. For now, I’ll give Inkdeath 3.5 stars.Bookmarked Signature Logo

Book Review: Inkspell

This is the second book of the trilogy, even longer than the first. The characters find themselves in another dilemma thanks to the book, Inkheart, and many of them are transported to the Inkworld itself. Fenoglio’s writing proves to be both a curse and a blessing, and Mo’s bookbinding skills save his life.

This book wasn’t quite as easy to read as the first one, though there were more emotional scenes in this. It felt like quite a slow read, but thanks to the events toward the end of the book I am still planning to read the final book.

I never really connected with any of the characters emotionally, but I still found certain deaths to be pretty upsetting. The Inkworld was nice to see, too, but maybe not as impressive as it could have been made out to be.

I can’t say I was particularly thrilled by this book, but it wasn’t bad. 3 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Batman and Robin Volume #1: Born to Kill

Damian, despite being a bit of a self-centred, arrogant little boy, is one of my favourite characters. I mean, he’s a ten-year-old superhero. That’s pretty cool.

I also love his relationship with Bruce – hence why I was so eager to read this series. Bruce as a father is great in general (I mean, he’s not great, but it’s amusing and sweet to read) but I think the clash of personalities between him and Damian makes it even more interesting.

My ultimate favourite is, of course, Alfred Pennyworth. He’s as snarky as always in this, but is no less badass than any other member of the Bat family.

The plot of this novel is based on Nobody, or Morgan Ducard as he’s actually called. Throughout the book we learn about his past with Bruce, and the reason for their rivalry. 

Throughout this story Damian is developing hugely – and will continue to do so in later issues. His upbringing turned him into the perfect killer, and he’s finding it hard to agree with Bruce’s “no killing” policy. But Bruce is encouraging him all the way, and refuses to give up on him.

The moments between Bruce and Damian can be so sweet, and I loved watching their relationship develop and become more secure. Batman will always need a Robin, and Robin will always need a Batman.

4/5 stars.

Book Review: Inkheart

This book was orginally written in German, but has been translated into many languages over time. Obviously, I read the English edition. It’s also been adapted to a film, which I’m sure I have seen but can’t remember.

Meggie is 12, so a rather young protagonist. But this book didn’t feel overly immature, despite the young age of the main character.

The story is rather complicated, but it involves a lot of books, magic, and villains. It is quite an innocent book, I think, especially with the sweet, happy ending that it has. But again, it’s not immature or childish. 

Dustfinger was an interesting character, often walking the line between good and bad. I am interested in seeing more of him throughout the rest of the trilogy. Capricorn was quite a traditional, old-fashioned villain, giving it a sort of old fairytale feel. I loved the idea of the books coming to life when you read them.

I was also a big fan of the romantic perspective this story gives on books in general; I personally adore reading and loved hearing books being described in such wonderful ways. I definitely identify with Elinor in that way – even if my name is spelt slightly different!

It’s quite a long book but not hard to read at all. It’s sweet and innocent and exciting, with the kind of magic I remember from reading when I was younger. 4.5 stars.

Book Review: The Earthsea Quartet

The Earthsea Quartet (The Earthsea Cycle #1-4) by Ursula Le Guin – Paperback, 681 pages – Published: October 28, 1993

As the title suggests, this is a collection of the first four books in the Earthsea Cycle. It took me just over a month to read it, but obviously I read about 5 books at the same time so that probably didn’t help.

The first book in this collection was published in 1968, so the writing does sound pretty old-fashioned. The last book was more modern, and my favourite of the four. But the archaic style suits the story; an Archmage in the ancient land of Earthsea accidentally summons a being of great evil, and must right his wrongs. We also meet Tenar, a girl sacrificed to the Nameless god’s, who is present in two of the stories. Ged, the Archmage, makes an appearance in all the stories, but is only the protagonist of two. The switching of POV was an interesting choice and may be an annoying feature to some, but definitely gave a lot more depth to the land.

The book is “only” 691 pages long (which, for a quartet, does not seem particularly large) but did drag on quite a lot at times. I found the first three stories to be presented densely on the page, making it take longer than average to read. The last book was a lot easier in my opinion.

The passing of time was not documented much, but that didn’t seem to affect the story. I wasn’t particularly invested in Ged – I liked him, but didn’t feel much emotion from or for him. Tenar and Therru were my favourites – I’m sincerely hoping to hear more about Therru in later books.

This was a proper fantasy read, being commonly known as one of the most important books in its genre. It isn’t a light and easy read, but once you get into it it is rather enjoyable. 3.5 stars; only being raised by the fourth book in the collection.