Kirsty's Reviews

Forever reading books

Book review: The Castoffs, V.1: Mage Against the Machine, by M.K. Reed, Brian Smith (Writer and Colorist), Molly Ostertag (Illustrator), Wyeth Yates (Illustrator)

33830449I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

This story begins by focusing on apprentice mages, showing us a brief introductory section to their skills and personalities within a basic plot setting. This isn’t the most captivating of beginnings, yet it is possible to see the promise and potential this series will have. From here things do get more interesting, so I highly recommend sticking with it.

The characters in this series are diverse and feature strong female characters, two things that many readers are seeking in books, so this makes this first volume stand out against other graphic novels. While you get the beginnings of character development in this first volume, I’m really excited to see where the story goes from here on out and I will definitely be continuing on with the series. The plot was gripping, tense and intriguing, whilst also being a quick and easy read.

The artwork was colourful, making good use of a strong and bright colour palette, which is what I like the most from graphic novels.

All in all, I think this is a strong start to the series and is definitely one to watch out for.

4 stars out of 5

Book Review: The Sound of the World By Heart, by Giacomo Bevilacqua

34150927I received a free digital copy of this graphic novel from the publisher via NetGalley.

The first thing that struck me about this graphic novel is how visually stunning it is. I don’t normally start off a review talking about the artwork, but this book just blew me away with beauty. I loved how the colours were so vibrant, while also looking natural and realistic. Each page was a pleasure to look at, especially the pages which featured illustrated photographs of New York, which made me feel like I was actually there with the character.

So now for the plot, which at times confused me in the early stages. We follow a heartbroken young man, as he explores New York while conducting an experiment of not speaking to anyone for sixty days. He walks around with headphones on and documents his exploration with the photo’s, yet something strange starts happening. I can’t go into further details than that because of spoilers, but at times the plot did make me question what I thought was going on. It did all make sense in the end though, and made for a beautiful read.

What I enjoyed most about this graphic novel, was just how real it felt, whilst being so powerful and raw. It’s impressive how something with so few words can leave such a lasting impression upon a reader. I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a more quiet graphic novel, something which is both stunning and has a message behind it.

4 stars out of 5

Book Review: The Killer on the Wall, by Emma Kavanagh

31180439I received a digital copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley.

This is a psychological thriller which is set in a small village where everyone knows everyone. Twenty years before the main events in this book a serial killer went on a spree and left bodies against Hadrian’s Wall, and everyone was shocked when the killer was found and arrested, as everyone knew him. So now, twenty years later the killer is still in jail, yet the murders have started up again.

This book gripped me with a very strong beginning, which was gruesome and really helped set the scene for later on in the novel. I found that the book took a bit of a dip after that though, as I found my attention drifting away, and I even considered just giving it up and putting it down. I’m glad I stuck with it though, as after the problematic start, this book really pulled me in. It’s rare that a book can chill me and spook me to the extent that this one did. It left me feeling so uneasy as I began to suspect someone from very early on. I wasn’t sure of my guess until towards the end, though it did turn out that my guess was correct. I didn’t mind that I guessed correctly so early on, as this book created an environment which left me forever unsure of everyone, and which left me feeling disturbed and scared for several of the characters at several points.

I think one of the strongest aspects of this book is that it is told in multiple points of view. This is done so effectively, and really gives the reader a chance to get to know most of the village from several different perspectives. I felt like these people I was reading about were real, that I could actually be living in this place as I believed in these characters and also felt like I knew the characters so well.

I can’t wait to check out more books by this author. If you don’t mind reading a book where the killer is somewhat obvious, yet at the same time is atmospheric and chilling, then I highly recommend you give this book a read.

4 stars out of 5

Review: The WitchFinder’s Sister, by Beth Underdown

31378911I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

DNFed at 75%, skim read from 60%.

At first thought, I decided the parts of this book I had enjoyed deserved two stars. After careful consideration (and possibly for the first time ever) I have decided to change my initial rating to one star. If I can’t finish a book, then it simply can’t get more than one star in my mind.

This is a historical fiction novel that focuses on a fictional sister of a real person named Matthew Hopkins, who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of women in the 17th century in England. Before reading this book, I wasn’t familiar with who Matthew Hopkins was, so I did some reading around about him and found everything I read to be interesting and somewhat chilling, so requested this book expecting great things.

Some early reviews came out when I was still quite early on in my reading experience, all of which were glowing reviews, so I was excited to be reading something that seemed so suitable to my reading tastes. I throughly enjoyed the first twenty five to thirty percent of this book, and struggled to put it down. I found the writing to be spectacular, and the author has talent, I’m just not sure that talent managed to shine for the entire novel in this case.

I’d say my biggest problems with this book overall were that it was too slow, and that after the first thirty percent, everything went downhill for me. I lost the initial atmospheric feeling from the first portion of the novel. I suddenly had no interest in the characters, and I felt like I was reading a terrible history book almost. The writing went very dry, and I was having to force myself to pick this book up and then push myself even harder just to read each page. Every once in a while, the atmosphere from the beginning, and the power the beginning of the book had, would come back, and I’d find my faith restored, but this seemed to be something the author just couldn’t hold.

I am someone who struggles to give up on books, especially books sent to me to review. At half way I decided I needed to do something about this, and that if I was still torturing myself to read it at sixty percent, then I would skim read. This is what I ended up doing, and then when things got better I would spend a few pages reading properly. I intended to do this until the very end of the book, but at seventy five percent I was losing the will to read a book ever again. I just could not connect with the characters or the plot for any consistent amount of time, and decided to make the decision to give up on this book for my own sanity.

It is due to my experience that I am unable to recommend this book to anyone. I thought this would be my ideal book, I really enjoy historical fiction novels, and have read some slow ones over the years, so again this shouldn’t have posed a problem to me. I did some reading around the topic of this book before reading, so I knew what I was getting myself into, and yet I just feel this book failed to deliver. The author clearly has talent, as proven in the first quarter or so of this novel, I just feel she failed to execute what she had originally set out to do, and lost her way along the way. This is a debut novel by the author, and I won’t let this experience put me off trying something by her in the future, as I do think she has real potential. This book just sadly didn’t work for me.

1 star out of 5

Book Review: Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life: (Middle School #1), by James Patterson

17427352-2I received an ebook copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley.

This book follows the story of a young boy named Rafe as he gets himself into as much trouble as he can at school. The book focuses on the usual topics such as crushes, bullying and behaviour.

I enjoyed this book a lot, though I admit that this book does have several problems. First of all, bullying plays a major part in the story, yet I don’t feel that topic ever gets fully resolved. Is this the sort of lesson you would want your young children to take from reading this book? I feel the consequences of Rafe’s poor behaviour are also portrayed in a very light manner. You don’t get the full scope of what the consequences are actually for someone who behaves as he did in a school environment. This isn’t to say that Rafe doesn’t received punishments, as he does, my issue is more that the terribleness of the nature of the punishments isn’t reflected strongly in the writing.

I loved how you could see how imaginative children’s minds can be in this book, and this is represented in many ways. I also loved how things were much more complex than what they first appeared on the surface.

I really think that this is an enjoyable read, but not necessarily entirely suitable for the age it would be marketed at. I’d exercise caution at allowing children to read it, and would want to discuss the ideas and themes in it afterwards in order to make sure they don’t take away the wrong message from this. While this book wouldn’t interest all adults, I personally really enjoyed reading this book with an adults perspective and fully intend on continuing on with the series.

4 stars out of 5

Book Review: Girl Unknown, by Karen Perry.

30844174I received a digital copy of this book for free from the publisher in return for an honest review.

I have a full video review for this book which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRqwX…

It is safe to say this book messed with my mind, which all good psychological thrillers should. The story follows a typical Irish family and gives us multiple perspectives from the family members, although most chapters are from one of the parents perspectives. From David’s point of view, who is the father of the family, we learn that a girl has entered his office and let him know that she thinks he is his daughter. From here the rest of the story develops, and as with many other psychological thrillers, I believe the best way to go into this story is by knowing as little as possible.

This book kept me guessing at every turn, just when I thought I knew what was going to happen next the plot would move in a totally different direction. I love when authors are able to keep you guessing until the very last page and this is definitely one of those reads. The tension that builds throughout is fantastic and keeps you wanting to read on until the early hours of the morning. This is the sort of book you could easily find yourself reading in one sitting, if you have the time.

As this book is told from multiple perspectives, one of the most important aspects for me was that the individual voices must sound different, and I think the authors achieved this well. The character crafting in this novel is wonderful, they all feel believable and individual. They are all fleshed out, and have multiple dimensions to their personalities, meaning that everyone has various different traits for the situations they find themselves in.

I have never read anything by either of the authors from this pen name, or any other titles by this pen name, but I hope to change this in the future. I highly recommend this book if you want a more domestic based psychological thriller.

4 stars out of 5

Advanced Review: Big Mushy Happy Lump(Sarah’s Scribbles #2), by Sarah Andersen

51nvsyl-0ll-_sx404_bo1204203200_I received a digital copy of this book for free from the publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review. This book is due to be published 7th March 2017.

I read the first volume of Sarah’s Scribbles last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, so when I saw a chance to read and review this volume I couldn’t resist. This collection is even better than the last, and covers so many important topics, making it fun, but also a must read. Topics covered in this volume include social anxiety, self perception and relationships, all told in a fun comic scribble style.

What I loved most about this collection of scribbles is how I could identify to so many of the pages. For readers it is so important to read books that you can identify with, and this one really hits the mark. Whether it be wanting to steal my boyfriends hoodies, as they are clearly more comfortable than mine, or whether it be getting that correct angle on a selfie so that I don’t have ten thousand chins. This book explores fun topics, and also more serious topics in a clever and reassuring manner. As you read the pages and giggle to yourself at the scribbles, you realise you aren’t alone, that what you feel about various different experiences in life are common feelings, you basically learn that you are ‘normal’.

While this book works as a standalone, I would highly recommend you read the first book in this collection first, as I think you will get the most out of the books this way. These books help you find confidence in how you relate to so many everyday problems, yet in a humorous and somehow also still sensitive way. I can’t recommend this book enough, and if you are trying to decide whether to read it or not, I highly recommend you just jump on in.

5 stars out of 5

Review: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett, by Chelsea Sedoti

30014132I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

This is a YA contemporary novel with a mystery aspect to it where we follow a seventeen year old girl named Hawthorn. In this book a girl who was a few years older than her in school called Lizzie goes missing while camping in some local woods. Hawthorn decides that she is going to try and solve the mystery of what happened to Lizzie, though her mission to do this leads her on an obsessive path. Hawthorn starts to integrate herself into every aspect of Lizzie’s life, which includes taking her job and also befriending Lizzie’s boyfriend.

This is the most annoying novel I have read, possibly ever! I found myself having a very strong hatred towards Hawthorn for most of the story, she is a horrible person who spends most her time obsessed over Lizzie and the rest of her time just totally self absorbed. I saw some real progression in Hawthorn’s character throughout the book which, looking back was done in a clever way. The author can write very well, which is a saving grace for this novel in the early stages. I would have struggled to get through the early chapters if the writing had been poor because I just disliked Hawthorn far too much. One particular theory she has for what may have happened to Lizzie is so out there, and so ridiculous that I had my concerns that this book was going to take a terrible turn and just ruin the entire story for me. I shouldn’t have worried though, as this was all essential to the story and also necessary for the character growth of Hawthorn.

The other characters in this book are equally interesting and also well developed. I loved the character of Rush, who is Hawthorn’s very patient older brother. He is always there for Hawthorn, even though she doesn’t appreciate it and doesn’t even realise it most of the time. His best friend Connor, is just fantastic too. He seems to be mature for his years, and I loved how he always saw the best in Hawthorn, which helped redeem her character to me on several occasions. Emily, which is Hawthorn’s best friend, deserves some sort of medal for being able to tolerate Hawthorn even when she is at her most obnoxious stages. She is a strong character, who I daresay is too loyal for her own good, though through her own character development this loyalty does get thrown into question. Then we have Enzo, he is Lizzie’s boyfriend, and also a bit of a loner it would seem. He appears to have no support network of his own. Never is there any mention of his own family or him having any other friends. His character helps convey such a strong message through this book and I saw it as a sign of what Hawthorn could have as her own empty life in the future if she didn’t learn to appreciate her own friends and family. For a twenty five year old to hang out with a seventeen year old it really does show how desperate his life has become, along with how empty and broken his life is. Enzo really is a character I could discuss at great lengths, but I don’t want to expose any spoilers in this review, so I will leave my assessment and judgement of his character there. Lizzie is also an incredibly interesting character, she represents everything that many of us feel throughout our lives, as she is that girl that we all wanted to be at school. Her life appears so perfect, Hawthorn thinks everyone loves Lizzie, as she is popular and pretty. This book teaches the reader, that just because someone appears to be living the most fantastic life ever, they may not be. You cannot possibly know everything about a persons life, you only see a small snippet of many peoples lives, you may see something that looks perfect, even though this is not a reality.

This book ties so many themes together in such a clever way, and I went into this book not expecting a great deal. I feel this is an important book for all teenage girls to read. You learn the dangers of obsession, mental health, sexual health, and most importantly of all, to realise that most of us are lucky to have fantastic friends and a fantastic family network around us. You should never take friend and family for granted, if they are a part of your life, then they care about you and not everyone has this to keep them going through life.

The mystery aspect of this book was strong, interesting and thrilling. Other than the ridiculous theory that Hawthorn becomes obsessed with, the plot moves in interesting ways and keeps you on your toes. Several times I came up with a theory myself over what could have happened to Lizzie, and my favourite idea turned out to be false.

Overall, this was the sort of read that is going to stick with me for a long time to come. I highly recommend this book, and I can’t wait to try something else by this author.

5 stars out of 5

One Week Down!

Well, this first week of 2017 has absolutely flown by! How has your first week of reading gone? It’s safe to say I am having one of the best reading weeks of my life. I have already read ten books, and I can’t wait to see how many I can complete by the end of January.

I have uploaded two more videos since my last post, so here are links to each of those, just in case you wanted to check them out.

First of all, we have my top ten reads of 2016:

This list was difficult for me to compile, mainly because my reading year was so poor. I did read a handful of good books in 2016, many of those in the list were fantastic. I just found it difficult to remember the good books, as my mind was so bogged down by the bad.

The other video I have uploaded recently is my book haul from Christmas. I didn’t receive many books last year, so for once this book haul is a relatively short one:

 

I may have had a fantastic reading week and indeed year so far but, this has led to me being very behind on reviews. I expect a written review to go up almost everyday this week, as I desperately need to catchup.

Until next time, keep turning those pages.

Weekly Reading Wrap Up #4

Hey, I’m being consistent! Today I filmed and uploaded my first weekly reading wrap up of 2017, which is a wonderful total of three books. I really enjoyed them all, and if you would like to know about what books they were and how much I enjoyed them, please watch the video below.