Kirsty's Reviews

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Book Review: We Own the Sky, by Sara Crawford

35507387I received a free digital copy of this book from the author.

This is a YA novel that has a unique crossover with Ancient Greek mythology to give it a fantasy feel in places. Most of the story is told from the main characters point of view, whose name is Sylvia, though we do get a few other perspectives for occasional chapters. Sylvia is a teenage girl whose mother died several years ago, and so she now lives with just her father Dylan, who is an ambitious musician. The beginning of the book introduces us to Sylvia’s life both at school and at home, and how music plays such a large part in it. From there we get our first exposure to “flickering people” which she later learns are Muses, which start to play a bigger part in her life and also to the plot.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book, which I had expected to enjoy, but had not expected to totally fall in love with. The plot was gripping and totally captured my imagination. I loved the idea of artists having creative muses who help them excel at their chosen area of art. The fact that Sylvia could see these people made the story even more interesting. Having occasional chapters with a perspective of one of the muses made for a fantastic reading experience and really helps flesh out the plot and world building.

I also fell in love with many of the characters, who are diverse and feel real. The contrast between the traditional greek mythological characters, the new “human muses” and the human adults and high school children makes for fantastic reading. I just loved how everything and everyone in this book just flowed. It felt totally realistic how the teenagers would interact with each other, even with the sometimes deceptive and devious ways they could be with each other. The interactions between Sylvia and her father were a particularly interesting aspect for me. I loved seeing how their dynamic would change depending on alcohol, music and just typical family life.

I really enjoyed how different this book was to anything I’ve ever read before, and provided so much more than what I was expecting. This is the sort of book that you could read to music, as bands and specific songs and albums are frequently mentioned. I am personally a massive fan of the band Muse, so to see their work pop up in this book was an added bonus for me.

I’d say my only negative I have for this book is that I occasionally got quite creepy vibes off Vincent. On the one hand, I really liked his character and found him quite swoon worthy at times, on the other I got creepy Edward from Twilight vibes from him. I mean I like Edward overall too, but there are many similarities between them. First of all, you have the age difference caused by being immortal, which you can somewhat look over if you aren’t being picky. Like Edward though, Vincent is often seen to be in Sylvia’s bedroom, stroking her hair etc as she goes to sleep, which just makes for such a creepy vibe for me. I understand I am perhaps reading too much into all this, and it definitely didn’t detract from my main enjoyment of this book.

I can’t wait for the second book in this series to come out, as this book ended on quite the cliffhanger. I highly recommend giving this book a read if you are looking for a book that combines realistic teenage interactions without too much angst, music and greek mythology.

4 stars out of 5

Advanced Review: The Death of Her, by Debbie Howells

35296379This book is due to be published on August 24 2017.

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

This is a psychological thriller set in the beautiful county of Cornwall in England. The reader follows multiple perspectives of various different characters in this story, not just those of the police of the victim. At the beginning of the novel the reader learns that a young woman has been found beaten to within an inch of her life in a field and is being reported on the news as being named Evie. Another character named Charlotte sees this and recognises the injured woman, but she knows her as a woman named Jen. From here the reader follows so many twists and turns as the police try to find out what happened to Evie/Jen and where her missing daughter could be, assuming she even exists.

Debbie Howells is fantastic at confusing the reader, as you go on so many twists and turns as you read this book. I honestly didn’t have a clue who to trust, and felt scared for the wellbeing of multiple characters many times. Since you get perspectives from potentially multiple unreliable narrators, this all adds to the confusion and both the reader and the characters don’t know who to trust.

I loved the setting for this book, Cornwall is such a stunning setting, and I could imagine myself there with the wonderful descriptions of the locations. The atmosphere was always set so well too, I often felt tense during key scenes, and terrified on more than one occasion.

I’d say the only negatives I have for this book are that, first of all, I managed to correctly guess a major part of the plot, in terms of who the main perpetrator was. The other down side for me was that the police seemed unbelievably incompetent at times, to the extent where I genuinely wonder how they get through life, the stupidness is just too far for me to suspend my belief to.

Overall this is another tense and atmospheric read from the wonderful Debbie Howells, and I highly recommend both this and also The Bones of You. I can’t wait to read even more books by this author.

 4 stars out of 5

Book Review: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index, by Julie Israel

33871765-2I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

This book follows the story of Juniper, her family and friends and how they are coping with the loss of Juniper’s sister, who died before the start of the novel. We get flashbacks of what happened, along with learning about the present and the guilt that Juniper faces.

I really enjoyed getting to know the characters in this book, and I’d say the characters were the saving grace. Some of the relationships and the characters are really cute and I loved getting to know them all.I’ve read books similar to this before, which I have found more interesting and generally cover the topic a lot better.

There are plot holes left and right, especially relating to Juniper’s index cards, and the choices she makes can be questionable at times. This led to me feeling quite underwhelmed at times and I found that I enjoyed this book, but I didn’t love it. I don’t think it will have left a lasting impression on me, and a year down the line I’ll probably struggle to remember anything about it.

Overall, this is worth picking up if you are looking for a novel that deals with the death of a family member and you have already read lots of other options. If you haven’t read other books, then there are plenty out there that do this better.

3 stars out of 5

The Toilet Papers: Places to Go, While you Go, by Jaimie Engle

35038899.jpgI received this as a free ebook from the publisher via NetGalley.

This is a series of short stories which are for all intense and purposes, expected to be read on the toilet. I didn’t do this, though I did try and read at least one story a day. As with any short story collection, there were some I enjoyed and some I hated, I’d say there were a few less in here that I enjoyed than what I’d have expected though.

Maybe some of these stories are more a males cup of tea? Since they stereotypically spend a lot more time on the toilet than us women?

I still think this is a fantastic idea for a story collection, and would at the very least make for a fantastic gift for people to add to their own bathrooms and toilets.

2 stars out of 5

Book Review: The Honeymoon, by Tina Seskis

cover109939-mediumI received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

This is a psychological thriller about a woman who goes on her honeymoon with her husband to the Maldives. While they are there, the husband mysteriously disappears and you are left unsure whether he has been murdered by a stranger, murdered by the wife, drowned or even absconded. This book takes you on many twists and turns throughout, and everything is never as it seems.

I really enjoyed this book, which swaps timelines a lot to help build up the entire picture. You also get different perspectives as the novel progresses. The protagonist is such an unreliable narrator, which leads to you constantly second guessing yourself and not having a clue who to trust, including her.

I will say that the end wrapped up a little too quickly for me, I would have liked everything to have been fleshed out a little more, though everything is explained and you will finish this book feeling satisfied, I personally would have liked a little more. I correctly guessed the ending at one point mid way through the novel, I was never sure though, and changed my mind multiple times after that.

I also think this book had a few pacing issues, as I occasionally found it to drag a little, this was caused mainly by the protagonist spending just a bit too much time on the island for my liking, it all got a bit repetitive.

All in all this book thrilled me, and I will definitely be checking out more of this authors works.

4 stars out of 5

Book Review: Follow Me Back, by A.V. Geiger

32470611I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

This is a YA contemporary novel which also has a thriller vibe during the second half of the book. The narrative is told through a variety of mediums, from police interviews, to tweets, to multiple perspectives from the characters. In this story you follow a teenager named Tessa, who has gone through some sort of traumatic experience which has led to her suffering from anxiety and agoraphobia. She doesn’t have many people to speak to in real life, however her Twitter account has recently blown up and she has over thirty thousand followers due to some fan fiction she had written about her favourite musician, Eric Thorn. You also get to see his perspective on things, how he feels trapped in his career and his every move is controlled. This leads to him making a second, secret Twitter account, which he suddenly decides to use to message Tessa secretly, as he wants revenge on her for creating a hashtag with her fan fiction. From here the story develops as they get involved in a secret friendship online, and Tessa is totally oblivious that she is chatting to her idol.

I thought this was such an exciting concept for a book, and I’d been so eager to give this one a read. This is the sort of story you can settle into and read in one sitting, which can be achieved with relative ease as this is such a quick read. It only took me about four hours to devour this book, and trying to put it down was a serious challenge.

I found that I was able to identify with parts of this story far too much. I like many other people, have a favourite band who I “stalk” on Twitter, I get notifications for all their tweets, I tweet them regularly, try to get them to follow me, and fangirl like crazy when I get a reply off one of them. This subject is discussed at length in this book in such an insightful way. At what point do you stop becoming a fangirl and start becoming something more sinister? It is definitely a fine line.

I also loved how you got the perspective of the trapped musician experience. The conflict with management, just to be able to still keep some sort of level of choice in some of the decisions that are made. The invasion of privacy, both physically and also mentally, was also something that I thought the author did a great job at portraying. I may not be famous, but I’m sure that all of this must have had some sort of level of truth to it, and it felt believable.

I loved the characters in this book, I felt so much admiration for Tessa. Although she could be frustrating at times, you could tell that there was a genuine reason for her being as scared as she was, and that she just needed help and support. Her real life support network is shocking, and I didn’t really like anyone else who she knew in person. Eric, starts off as not particularly likeable, but the more I got to know him, the more I fell for him. Both main characters definitely go on a whirlwind of character development, and it’s astounding to think how much they have both changed by the end of the book. By the way, that ending? I can’t even grasp what that ending means, though I’m very excited to read the sequel to this the very moment it is available.

I think the real reason I loved this book so much, despite all the above, is that this just touched upon my own real life dream. I’m sure many people can attest to wishing their favourite celebrity crush was secretly talking to them on Twitter. This is the modern day equivalent of dreaming to be a princess. I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here, and I can’t wait to read more by this author. I really can’t recommend this book highly enough.

5 stars out of 5

Book Review: Den of Shadows, by Christopher Byford

34859647-2DNFed at 50%

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

This is a fantasy novel with a western feel to it, and the description had me desperate to read it. The story follows a train that has been converted into a moving gambling den, with fantastical elements and was described as being for fans of books such as Caraval.

Going on this description, I was eager to read this book, which was also advertised as a short and quick read. I was expecting to meet strange and interesting characters and to be entertained by the events on the train. Instead, I feel this is one of the most slow paced and dull books I have ever picked up. Usually I try and pull myself through books no matter what, especially when I have requested them to review. This book was just too difficult for me to find anything to like and push through with.

To go into more detail on what I didn’t like, I shall first start off with the characters. To be honest, I can’t even remember anyones names, which is never a great start. I didn’t like any of the characters, like they weren’t good people, so I didn’t feel any attachment to them to help me keep reading. Then we have the plot, at first I managed to keep myself somewhat interested due to being intrigued about the world. This intrigue soon left me when I was just faced with slow moving plot, or rather almost no pace at all, and just pages of boring nothingness.

I’m honestly trying not to sound rude or mean with this review, however I just honestly have no good things to say about this book. Looking at other peoples reviews, this book seems to have a marmite affect. Many people share my opinion, on the other hand a few people have also loved it. This book clearly wasn’t for me, and so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are a massive fan of very slow paced information dumping fantasy novels.

1 star out of 5

Book review: Bertie The Blitz Dog, by Libby Parker

30326277I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

This is a historical fiction with a wonderful twist, as you get to see The Blitz from the perspective of an adorable dog named Bertie. His story is a complicated one at first, as his first owner passes away and he spends time on the streets moving from family to family until he ends up living with his newly self picked forever family. Bertie then fits right in and makes his mark on the family during the tough times that London is going through.

I loved this book, it combined two things I absolutely love, history and dogs. I found Bertie’s perspective on wartime London both fascinating and eye opening. This also served as a somewhat educational text for me, in the sense of that I had no idea the troubles that animals went through in this time. It had become frowned upon to keep pets during the war due to rations, as the pets became an unnecessary mouth to feed. Many people abandoned their pets, other people struggled along in keeping their pets, and you see both these situations in this novel. It’s also really easy to not think about the effects of the bombing on animals, how confusing the noise must have been and the fires, the shaking of buildings. We worry about our pets with fireworks these days, and this traumatises many animals, so imagine the effects of bombs on animals back then. This book truly opened my eyes to these issues.

I found Bertie such an easy character to love, he is such a typical loyal dog, who just wants to make his family happy. His character felt a little unrealistic at times though, in fact it could become easy to forget he was a dog at all, and I found this a little jarring at times, and this is honestly the only reason why I couldn’t give this book a full five stars.

The story is fast paced, it doesn’t even drag or lose flow and I was hooked from the very first page to the last. I would highly recommend this book to dog lovers, and in fact to anyone as I feel there is something in here for everyone, and I love the lessons it teaches us about caring for pets.

4 stars out of 5

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