curiosity quills press

Book Review: The Outs

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

Well, this was… an interesting read…

Just gonna quickly put a little trigger warning in here, as there are graphic and emotional descriptions of depression and suicide. But the story isn’t about these things, and they aren’t properly talked about until far later in the novel.

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The Outs by E.S. Wesley – eBook, 365 pages – Published January 24th 2017 by Curiosity Quills Press

You’re thrown right into the deep end from page one, having to put the pieces together as the plot progresses. We meet one of our protagonists, Caleb, in an unfamiliar room with mysterious men and a random little girl. He ends up taking her with him as he runs, trying to figure out what he did during the Outs.

The Outs are kinda confusing. They’re moments in time where electrical appliances all fail, and anything that happens is forgotten as soon as the Outs end. Oh, and anyone killed during the Outs is resurrected from the dead.

I’m really not sure how to describe this book. The plot is super confusing – Caleb and his aphasic friend, Kitzi, take this weird little girl (Amanda) who somehow has powers over everyone and everything, in an attempt to stop Deeds and his army of Deadheaders. Caleb has a psychopathic voice in his head called Crimes, Amanda’s dreams come true, Kitzi’s suicide happens to have taken place at the same time the Outs started, she can smell the truth – and somehow they’re all connected to the Outs? These three individuals – and many others along the way – each have a big part in what is happening. But how?

Honestly, I cannot explain it. There are so many little ties and strings throughout this book that all add up, and I couldn’t possibly include them all.

It definitely is a unique book. The idea is pretty good, too – the whole “nightmares becoming real” and all. But I just didn’t connect; I don’t know if it was the pacing or what, but I just didn’t feel involved in it.

I feel like I should’ve been able to sympathise with the characters more – they had good backstories, emotional and family issues that different people should be able to relate to. And the narration following Kitzi often makes references to comic books which I personally really appreciated. But I just didn’t quite feel them. Maybe it’s just me – there’s nothing wrong with the writing in particular, so maybe it’s just personal preference. I don’t know.

I had a few typos in my copy but I received an ARC, not a final copy, so that shouldn’t affect anyone buying the book. I loved the cover, and the art at each chapter start was great. Also, the inclusion of “Notes From Last Night” (a site where people recorded notes during the outs for after they forget) was awesome, too. It added a whole other dimension to the world, an extra little bit of interest.

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I wanted to like this, I really did. And I didn’t dislike it – but it didn’t feel like anything special to me. 3 stars for The Outs.

If you’re interested, you can check it out on Amazon.

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Book Review: Homunculus and the Cat

Professional Reader

First of all, I’d like to say thanks to Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book. I’ve got tons of books from the site, ready to review. Can’t wait!
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Homunculus & the Cat by Nathan Croft (The Omnitheon Cylce) – eBook, 283 pages – Published August 31st 2015 by Curiosity Quills Press

So I’ve been reading this book for quite some time now, and honestly I nearly gave up on it a few times. But for the sake of the review, I managed to keep on at it until the end.

What I managed to gather from this book is that it takes place in a whole different universe, where myths and gods are real. Winged cats with nine lives, flying carpets, even homunculi. The main characters include the Ennedi Ankh’ Si, a flying cat, Tyro, a simple human, and homunculi such as Mina and Herakles. A homunculus sanctuary, fighting for equal rights for their kind, is caught in a fire. In desperate need of help, the crew end up travelling all over the place – including to an underwater palace of a goddess, where they participate in a huge battle.
If I’m really honest, I can’t tell you much more than that. There’s some suspicious dude called Manga, and Tyro tries to rescue his friend Herakles – requiring a trip back to good ol’ America. But other than that, I’m not quite sure what happened.
The writing itself is actually pretty good. The descriptions and metaphors are great, and there’s a good deal of underlying humour in places. And the whole idea of this universe full of gods and demons and creatures both beautiful and terrible is wonderful. It’s just a shame that I couldn’t get into it. I felt like I was reading most of it through a daze, just trying to get it over with.
I will give this the benefit of the doubt – maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it, or I just wasn’t paying enough attention. Others may enjoy this a lot more than I did. But I’m going to give it just two stars, which honestly feels like I’m pushing the bar a little already.
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Book Review: Alice Takes Back Wonderland

Professional Reader

Usually, I read ebooks in the order my request to review them is accepted. However, I had to make an exception for this as it’s based on Alice in Wonderland – my favourite story. I was given the chance to review this book by NetGalley, who provided me with a free copy in return for my review.

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Alice Takes Back Wonderland by David D. Hammons – eBook (Galley), 270 pages – Published September 28th 2015 by Curiosity Quills Press

This is a great, original book. It combines dozens of fairytales in one story, each tale and character with their own little twist.

17-year-old Alice from Missouri is on medication for ADHD and schizophrenia, which she was diagnosed with after an alleged visit to Wonderland ten years ago. She’s spent all this time trying to accept that Wonderland isn’t real – until the White Rabbit turns up at her house and pushes her back down the rabbit hole.

With the help of the Mat Hatter, Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, Pinocchio, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and many others, Alice has to defeat the Ace of Spades, who is removing the Wonder from Wonderland, and trying to turn it into the human world. Alice travels between Wonderland, Neverland and even the Grimm Kingdom, gaining allies and developing a plan. Along her way, Alice rescues Tinkerbelle from Hook (or Captain Gepetto, the father of Pinocchio who’s been mistaken for the crock’odial for quite some time), brings down the Gingerbread Man (a villain in Grimm), reunites Queen Cinderella Charming with her daughter Snow White, and even falls in love with Peter Pan.

Basically, this is a cross of all my favourite stories. I’m now in love with the idea of Alice and Peter Pan being an item, with each of them being one of my uttermost favourite characters. The idea is that echoes of Wonderland, Neverland, Grimm etc reach the human world through the rabbit hole, inspiring the stories we grow up loving. But as they are only echoes, many details aren’t quite right.

There’s a lot of action in this novel, especially toward the end. Like I said, all the characters are wonderfully unique, and have nice little quirks. Some of the writing is kind of… simple, but still descriptive. It’s also rather repetitive at times, though this is sometimes used to it’s advantage – certain quotes are repeated from the original book by Caroll, entwining this modern story with the older novel.

I didn’t find this as easy to read as I would’ve liked, though I did get into it in the end. The plot is great, and the characters too. I’d give this book 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 if need be.

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Book Review: The Heartless City

The Heartless City by Andrea Berthot - eBook, 241 pages - Published by Curiosity Quills Press (first published August 17th 2015)

The Heartless City by Andrea Berthot – eBook, 241 pages – Published by Curiosity Quills Press (first published August 17th 2015)

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in return of my honest opinion.

The Heartless City is based on the infamous story of Jekyll & Hyde, with a wonderful new plot.

London is infested with Hydes thanks to Dr Henry Jekyll. Jekyll is also responsible for Iris; an American girl with a unique talent.

Buckingham palace is home to the Lord Mayor, as well as his son Cam and the doctor and his own son, Elliott Morrissey. Elliott also has a strange gift, but not one he was born with. After taking a serum intended to remove his empathy, Elliott found that it did quite the opposite. Instead, he became an empath – able to feel the emotions of those around him as if they were his own.

The characters in this old-fashioned story are all very different, including the strong, independent female figure of 15-year-old Philomena Blackwell. She refuses to fit in with the typical norms of her time, which I really liked.

Elliott’s new empathy is also used to confront the negative opinions on homosexuality when he feels his friends love for each other and realises that it is no different to the love he himself would feel for a girl. I absolutely loved this little sub-plot.

The book is written to sound like it was written in the 1900s, when it was set. However, I found the story a little slow at times, and then far too fast toward the end. Everything just kind of happened all at once. That being said, the conclusion was very clever and interesting.

It was definitely an interesting read. I tend to just read more modern novels, so this was a refreshing change. But there are definitely a few things that could be changed, so I’m going to give 3.5 stars to The Heartless City.

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