Saturday, December 31

Book Review: Betrayals

Title: Betrayals

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 416

Summary: When Olivia's life exploded--after she found out she was not the adopted child of a privileged Chicago family but of a notorious pair of convicted serial killers--she found a refuge in the secluded but oddly welcoming town of Cainsville, Illinois. Working with Gabriel Walsh, a fiendishly successful criminal lawyer with links to the town, she discovered the truth about her parents' crimes in an investigation that also revealed the darker forces at work in the place that had offered her a haven. As if that wasn't enough, she also found out that she, Gabriel and her biker boyfriend Ricky were not caught in an ordinary sort of love triangle, but were hereditary actors in an ancient drama in which the elders of Cainsville and the mysterious Huntsmen who opposed them had a huge stake.

Now someone is killing street kids in the city, and the police have tied Ricky to the crimes. Setting out with Gabriel's help to clear Ricky's name, Olivia once again finds her own life at risk. Soon the three are tangled in a web of betrayals that threatens their uneasy equilibrium and is pushing them toward a hard choice: either they fulfill their destinies by trusting each other and staying true to their real bonds, or they succumb to the extraordinary forces trying to win an eternal war by tearing them apart

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started out strong, I liked the mystery aspects of it and for the most part, how it played out, but the final conclusion of it seemed rushed. There was however, a lot of good development for the characters throughout the book. While some characters seemed a bit off from how they’ve been portrayed in the previous novels, mainly Gabriel, it’s hard to tell if the characters felt because they’re growing, or is the mystical force that brings them together affecting them, or if something was just off about them in general. Either way, it did make for a good read – despite the conclusion feeling rushed it was an enjoyable book from the series.

I’m happy a lot of the past and mythology side of things are finally coming together into something more cohesive. It’s been bits and pieces from each book, and I’ve found that in the past few books you ended up with more questions than answers, but things finally seem to be falling into place – although there’s still a lot to be explained about how all this mythology side of the story works, which I’m sure will be played out in the next book – It’s still been interesting to read about.

The ending from the final pages was very surprising. I’m interested into seeing  how that will play out in the next book. I’m unsure how I feel about it, and I definitely don’t like having to wait to find out what the result in that department will be. The love triangle as it’s called, isn’t my favourite aspect, and I haven’t been able to pick a team, but I’m still interested in what twists the author has in stored.  But, I’ve never really one to pick teams – can I be team TC? He seems cute.

Overall, it was a good book to the series, not my favourite but it does have me waiting for more.

Would I recommend it to read:  I would, it’s not my favourite in the series but was still a good read and there’s some interesting set up to the next book in the series.

What to read next: The next and final book in the series.

Wednesday, December 28

Book Review: Dublin 4

Title: Dublin 4

Author: Maeve Binchy

Pages: EBook 135

Summary: A society hostess invites her husband’s mistress to dinner. A country girl savours the delights of city life. A student faces the dilemma of unmarried pregnancy. A drink-ridden photographer tries to relaunch a shattered career.

Dinner in Donneybrook
Flat in Ringsend
Decision in Belfield
Murmurs in Montrose

My Rating: 6.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The collection was okay, but it was definitely not my favourite by the author.  The writing quality was consistent and what you’d expect from the author, but the stories and the characters in them is what seemed off for me.

The first story in the collection was interesting and somewhat amusing, although I though some of the characters in it to be a bit ridiculous and extreme, the story as a whole was well done – I wish there was more to it, as I wanted more by the end of it.

The other three, didn’t do it for me and the characters were a bit dense and unbelievable in the other stories, while some had some good topics in them, the characters fell through, their lack of growth affected the story and how I felt about them in the end, and to be blunt, I found them to be very dimwitted, how the viewed the situations the way the reacted to them – didn’t work for me. The characters in this collection didn’t work for me.

Overall, not my favourite by the author and it was not what I’ve learned to expect from her either, while it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t a great read either.

Would I recommend it to read: I’m not sure I’d recommend this particular book, it just didn’t have that same appeal to it as her other works.

What to read next: I’d read more Binchy, this particular book wasn’t the best but she has loads of others well worth reading. Marian Keyes is another one worth reading.

Book Reviews: A Clash Kings

Title: A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 2)

Author: George R. R. Martin

Pages: EBook 860

Summary: Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders--Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over an age of enforced peace are dead...victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky--a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard's son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King's Landing. Robert's two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

My Rating: 7.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: While I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first book in the series, it’s still a very interesting and gripping story at times – even if I know the outcome of how things are to  play out.

I did find myself to be bored with this book, while there are some interesting plot reveals and important plot devices, there’s also a lot of nothing, or parts I find to be boring. Perhaps because I’ve watched the show and have a vague idea about what’s happening in the story, it’s affecting how I read it, although book two is where there are some more noticeable differences in the story from the show, (which I don’t understand why they changed certain things, but I’ll leave that out). Mostly for this book, I felt it dragged in a lot of parts, and felt it was somewhat repetitive.

I still don’t like Bran and Daenerys, and I find they are two characters that are forced on us, I know Daenerys is one of the most important characters in the series – but I can’t stand her. She’s well written, but I find her whiny and repetitive, and while she grew more confident since when we first met her, I find her growth hasn’t changed much. She still has the heir she knows best because she thinks she’s the heir to the throne. I really like Arya and I want more of her, she’s such a fun character, her growth and development come naturally and I don’t feel she’s pushed onto us.
Overall, a good book but the first in the series was better, I am looking forward to the rest of the series, and seeing how it all turns out.

Would I recommend it to read:  I would, while I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first, overall as a series it’s an amazing series, well worth reading

What to read next: A Storm of Swords, book 3 in the series, 

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Saturday, December 10

Book Review: A Game of Thrones

Title: A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 1)

Author: George R. R. Martin

Pages: EBook 773

Summary: Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I’ve put off this series for some time, partially because the amount of time I’d have to invest in reading it and I was hoping to close off other series I’m reading before starting yet another. It’s been a good series so far, the first book was well done and I enjoyed it a lot.

Martin does a good job at creating a clear and different voice for each of his characters, with the focus moving from character to character, I’ve found it harder to differentiate in other novels that have done this, but it works well in this book (and so far the entire series.) While it is in third person, he still manages to create the right tone, thought process for each character, which helps pull you into the story (unless you don’t like the character, but nothing can really help with me with that).
I also enjoyed the detail surrounding his characters and their backstories, only a few things are revealed at a time, although because I’ve watched most of the show I do have some idea what’s coming, the author has done an amazing job at pacing his characters growth and secrets, they are well developed and naturally developing. I have my favourites, ones I hate because they are horrible people, and ones I hate because I find them annoying, but the cast of characters, no matter my feelings for them, is wonderfully done. I’m a Arya and Tyrion fan, they’re the two characters I enjoy the most. Not a big fan of John Snow and Daenerys, which I seem to be in the minority with, but John Snow seems to act very privileged and naive considering the circumstances he’s in, and my dislike for Daenerys has grown more now that I’m in the second book.  Although, I do have to remind myself that these are children in the books, so their ways of thinking that of teenage children.
I’m enjoying the overall story and I’m interested in what will come out of it in the end. I wish there was more detail about the old gods versus the new, although that too is slowly being revealed over the course of the books, I want more now. The first book moved fairly quickly, the pacing was right and I felt everything connected together.

Overall, an enjoyable book and looks like it will be an enjoyable series. I’m, looking forward to seeing the differences between the show and book in the rest of the series (I’ve read all the spoilers and have seen most of the TV series, so I know what’s to come who die, who lives and all that, but I want to see how much has changed).

Would I recommend it to read: The book is well written, engaging story, it is well worth reading. While it’s descriptive and detailed it isn’t overly detailed which is something I know some don’t like about epic fantasy (I love it), so I think a lot of people would like it.

What to read next: The second book in the series, Clash of Kings.

Monday, December 5

Book Review: Started Early, Took my Dog

Title: Started Early Took my Dog

Author: Kate Atkinson

Pages: EBook

Summary: A day like any other for security chief Tracy Waterhouse, until she makes a purchase she hadn't bargained for. One moment of madness is all it takes for Tracy's humdrum world to be turned upside down, the tedium of everyday life replaced by fear and danger at every turn.
Witnesses to Tracy's Faustian exchange in the Merrion Centre in Leeds are Tilly, an elderly actress teetering on the brink of her own disaster, and Jackson Brodie who has returned to his home county in search of someone else's roots. All three characters learn that the past is never history and that no good deed goes unpunished.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The fourth and final (boo), book in the series was, an enjoyable read, the I enjoyed this one a lot, although not nearly as much as the third novel. I enjoyed the plot and the mystery for this one and read through it quickly piecing out the mystery as I read  The plot of the book threw me a bit, some interesting twists from the past and a few decisions of the characters in the present and other twists actually threw me. There were a few things that I didn’t see coming, which  made for an interesting read because I wasn’t expecting what the characters were going to do.

Some of the other characters were not my favourite, I disliked a few of them, but all were incredibly well written and fleshed out, which I appreciated. I enjoyed Jackson Brodie in this one a lot, he’s such a character but one who you grow to enjoy a lot, It’s a shame that there isn’t more books, I will miss the character a lot, although I still have the TV series to finish it won’t be the same.

Overall a great wrap-up to what turned out to be an enjoyable series.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, the last two books in this series were very well done, I will miss reading about Jackson Brodie – the character alone make this book and the others well worth reading.

What to read next: More by the Author, Ian Rankin

Sunday, December 4

Book Review: Last Night in Montreal

Title: Last Night in Montreal

Author: Emily St. Mandell

Pages: 230

Summary: When Lilia Albert was a child, her father appeared on the doorstep of her mother's house and took her away. Now, haunted by an inability to remember much about her early childhood, Lilia moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers and eluding the private detective who has dedicated a career to following close behind.

Then comes Eli. When Lilia goes out for a paper and fails to return to their Brooklyn apartment, he follows her to Montreal, not knowing whether he wants to disappear, too, or help her find her way home. But what he discovers is a deeper mystery, one that will set past and present spinning toward collision

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The entire book has this atmosphere to it, and it keeps you invested in the book, I enjoyed the different view points and how everything eventually came together, although I was left with the feeling that there should have been more to the story at the end, overall it was an excellent book. 

I loved the revelation in the end, the twist – while I was able to guess at it while reading the book, it was still chilling revelation. The ending was also surprising and shocking, but I think it worked.

The entire cast of characters were incredibly well done and fleshed out, which made the book even more enjoyable to read, the characters had something about them that kept you reading the book. And their individual stories and how the crossed over worked out wonderfully.

A very enjoyable read, with a clear voices from the author – this one is well worth reading.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, this book was a bit of a hidden gem and well worth reading.

What to read next: I’d read more by the author

Book Review: When Will There Be Good News?

Title: When Will There Be Good News?

Author: Kate Atkinson

Pages: EBook 319

Summary: On a hot summer day, Joanna Mason's family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna's life is changed forever...

On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound...

At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency...

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was my favourite book of the series, from the story to the characters it me engrossed in the story from the beginning to the end.

When I started the series, I wasn’t exactly a fan of the characters or the story, but the more I read into the series, the more I appreciated the authors writing style and the characters in the series – and this book helped with that a lot.

Reggie is what really made this book, I felt for her throughout the story, and I wanted to keep reading just so I would be able to find out what happened next for her, find out if she’d be okay. She was well written and fleshed out, making her a very realistic character. I also love Jackson Brodie, he was iffy for me when I started the series, but now that I’m in the third book, I don’t want to have to say goodbye to the character – while he’s a mess, he’s enjoyable to read about and is just an interesting character to read about.

The overall plot and mystery of this book also drew you in, I enjoyed how everything worked out in the end and working out the pieces for myself as I read the book.

Excellent read overall – probably the best book in the series
Would I recommend it to read: Yes, this book and the entire series.

What to read next: Started Early, Took my Dog.

Book Review: City of the Lost

Title: City of the Lost

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 468

Summary: Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. Since then she’s become a talented police detective, tethered only to her job, her best friend, Diana, and the occasional evening with her sexy, no-strings-attached ex-con lover, Kurt. But then Diana's abusive ex finds her again, despite all Casey has done to help her disappear. And Casey’s own dark past begins to catch up with her. The two women need to run—and Diana’s heard of a place where they won’t be found, a town especially for people like them…

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was an enjoyable read, that has me looking forward to what the rest of the series will bring, it’s an interesting concept and I would like to know where the author is going next with the series and it’s eclectic cast of characters.

The concept is interesting and I think the author did an excellent job at creating this secret little town, how the town works and it’s history was very detailed thought out, which helped with the overall story, it’s almost its own character. I’m looking forward to find out more secrets and background stories for the characters, I have my favourites and I’m interested into seeing if that will change as I watch the characters grow, or if someone new jumps into the mix.

The mystery of the book had some interesting twists, pieces I was able to figure out, but there were other aspects that turned out differently than I expected.

Overall, great book.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, although to be fair I’d recommend anything and everything by Kelley. This one differs from most of her other books, as it isn’t speculative, so this might be good series to start if you want to try her.

What to read next: The next book in the series.

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge, 10th Annual Canadian Book Challenge

Book Review: The Radiant City

Title: The Radiant City

Author: Lauren B. Davis

Pages: EBook 304

Summary: Scarred by his experiences as a war correspondent, Matthew flees to Paris to heal and forget—even as he must stir up the past to write the memoir he’s promised to his impatient literary agent. Resurrecting a friendship with Jack, a Vietnam vet and ex-mercenary, Matthew enters Jack’s alcohol-dimmed world of shadowy bars and calculating lovers. But there is also Saida—beautiful, damaged and proud—who fled Lebanon with her family and now runs a café. Matthew is drawn to her kindness, and to her fierce love for her teenage son, who is growing into manhood on the treacherous streets of the North African quarter.

This is Paris far from the glimmer of tourist lights. Here secrets are divulged, guilt and passion revealed, and Matthew is caught up in an inescapable final confrontation.

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: From the cast of character, to the writing and the setting – this book was a fantastic read – it pulled me in from the start and had me captured to the last page.
The story is very character driven, and there’s so much to it, it’s hard to know where to start. There’s a lot this book covers with it’s characters, all who have a lot of emotional baggage and trauma in their lives and the author showed that to the reader beautifully. She created such a wonderful cast of characters that you could enjoy and care about. It was hard to put the book down, because of the characters alone.

I both loved and hated the ending, I was surprised by some of the events in the end, but I think it was fitting for the book. It has an atmosphere to it, that pulls you in as well, even if it’s a more dark gloomy atmosphere, it pulls you in – but it’s the characters and their stories that made this book.
Fantastic read – one I’d highly recommend.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, this book had so much to take from, lovely characters, excellent story, it’s up there with one of my favourite reads this year.

What to read next: More Lauren B. Davis

Book Review: Bodily Harm

Title: Bodily Harm

Author: Margaret Atwood

Pages: 303

Summary: Bodily Harm is Margaret Atwood's powerfully gripping novel of intrigue and betrayal, set on a Caribbean island on the brink of revolution. Rennie Wilford is a freelance journalist who takes an assignment in the Caribbean in hopes of recuperating from her recently shattered life. On the tin island of St. Antoine, she tumbles into a corrupt world where no one is what they seem - and where her rules for survival no longer apply. By turns comic, satiric, relentless, and terrifying, Bodily Harm is ultimately an exploration of human defensiveness, the lost for power both sexual and political, and the need for compassion that goes beyond what we ordinarily mean by love.

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Overall an enjoyable read, the writing as I always find with Atwood was superb, and while I didn’t exactly like the main character, I found her to be naïve and I couldn’t get into her head to appreciate her attempt to find herself, let alone like her enough to truly care about her.

The book took a turn, a twisted turn I wasn’t exactly expecting and following that turn, I was surprised about the events and how the story moved forwards. It was well done and fit into the book, but the outcomes and journey the character went on wasn’t exactly what I expected – but it was also the parts of the novel I found to be the best part of the book, as it had me the most engaged.

Overall, it was a good book – but it’s by far not the best book by the author.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it’s not my favourite book by the author, but the journey the characters go on are well worth a read.

What to read next: Besides more Margaret Atwood? I’m not too sure, perhaps some David Adams Richards.

Book Review: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang

Title: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang

Author: Kate Wilhelm

Pages: EBook 216

Summary: Now one of her most famous novels returns to print, the spellbinding story of an isolated post-holocaust community determined to preserve itself, through a perilous experiment in cloning. Sweeping, dramatic, rich with humanity, and rigorous in its science, Where Later the Sweet Birds Sang is widely regarded as a high point of both humanistic and "hard" SF, and won SF's Hugo Award and Locus Award on its first publication. It is as compelling today as it was then.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book drew me in right away in the beginning, and kept my attention throughout – it was a very enjoyable read. The overall idea of the story was interesting, especially for when it was written – especially now when something like this book is more than just a far fetched dream.

I found parts of the story moved to quickly, there were pieces that I found needed more explanation, more details that passed on in time far to quickly – I know there are people out there who would disagree, but I wanted more detail on what was happening.

I also found it hard to connect to the characters – perhaps it was because who and how they were created, they were all suppose to be the same, but there was never the case where I found that one character I enjoyed
Overall, it was a very enjoyable story, excellent example of a classic science fiction novel.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. Don’t be put off because it’s Science Fiction, it’s so much more than that and well worth reading.

What to read next: I’d say more classic Science Fiction novels, MaddAddam series by Margaret Atwood

Book Review: The Dream Woman: A Mystery in Four Narratives

Title: The Dream Woman: A Mystery in Four Narratives

Author: Wilkie Collins

Pages: 105

Summary: When Francis Raven is roused from his sleep on the eve of his birthday and confronted by the sight of a woman trying to stab him, he is unsure whether she is real or an apparition. Years later, against the wishes of his mother, he marries Alicia, a woman with a strange resemblance to the mysterious visitor, who ends up attacking him on his birthday, before vanishing from his life. Is Francis’s wife a ghost, a demon or a living human being? And will the prophecy of the night-time visitation be fulfilled one day?

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed the story, while predictable the writing and lead up to the end made it an excellent reading atmosphere. Collins writing, as always is beautiful and draws you into the story, even one that’s predictable and you know the ending.

I did find the main character to be a little, thick-headed, but he was well written and flawed, so despite his decisions he was realistic.

Overall, it was a good read, while not my favourite by the author, well worth giving this one a try.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, while it’s not a you must read this book now, it’s still worth reading.

What to read next: More Wilkie Collins.