Kirsty's Reviews

Forever reading books

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

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