Friday, 16 March 2018

Book Haul #1

I've has a supper busy couple of week so I've been slacking on my blogging super hard so to make it up to you, I have put together a few of the books I have collected in February and March.

Aren't they beautiful!

A few of them are new releases that I have heard a lot of hype about that I HAD to get my hands on but there is a also a healthy mix of books that are really popular amongst the YA community and a few of my personal favourites that I finally managed to get my hands on.

So here they are:

- Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Mass

- One of Us is Lying - Karen McManus

- A Darker Shade of Magic - V.E. Schwab

- Midnight for Charlie Bone - Jenny Nimmo

- Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. Mass

- Children of Blood and Bone -  Tomi Adeyemi

- The Hate You Give (THUG) - Angie Thomas

- Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo

- Zenith - Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings

- The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

- The Bear and the Nightengale

- Caraval - Stephanie Garber

- Across the Nightingale Floor - Lian Hearn

Have you read any of them? What did you think?

Saturday, 3 March 2018

False Gods [Horus Heresy #2] - Graham McNeill

Title - False Gods [Horus Heresy #2]
Author - Graham McNeill

The human Imperium stands at its height of glory - thousands of worlds have been brought to heel by the conquering armies of mankind. At the peak of his powers, Warmaster Horus wields absolute control - but can even he resist the corrupting whispers of Chaos?


Well now. This book was a surprise.

False Gods picks up a short time after Horus Rising left us, and to be honest, for the first quarter of the book I was a bit disappointed. There was an increase in swearing, more sexual references, and overall it had a slightly more adult tone, but I wasn’t as invested in the story as I was with Horus Rising. This was not to last, however, and this book gets 9 out of 9 loyalist Primarchs of approval, because hot damn.

Where Horus Rising set the scene in terms of the culture of logic, reason and fanatical atheism present in the Imperium in the 31st millennium, False Gods did an amazing job of showing how that was destined to change. We got many different perspectives and reactions to the teachings of Lorgar’s Lectitio Divinitatus from believers and unbelievers alike, and it gave a fascinating overview of how a religion could form, even from those who preached (the irony is palpable) against religion itself.

Horus Rising showed the Space Marines of the Luna Wolves, now called the Sons of Horus in honour of the big boy himself, as very human. They had their humour, dry as it might be. They had their ambitions and desires. They were flesh and blood. In my opinion, False Gods somehow managed to reinforce that fact while simultaneously reminding the reader, in no uncertain terms, just how inhuman the Space Marines are. A bit of background for the uninitiated reading this review: A Space Marine is taken as an adolescent, and they get 19 genetically engineered organs derived from their Primarch shoved inside them. So yeah, these guys are not human any more, and False Gods shows how dangerous it would be to forget that.

My favourite scene in the book described a Chaos Ritual, one of blood magic and mutilation and cruelty. It was subtle in how it handled such a graphic subject, but the tone it gave sent a shudder down my spine as I read it, unable to pull my eyes from the page much in the same way that I could not stop reading American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis the first time around (I may even review American Psycho if I can work up the nerve to re-read it at some point). Coupled with the depiction of the Nurgle Plague Zombies on the moon of Davin, False Gods took the introduction to Chaos and Daemons from Horus Heresy and brought it to the fore.

Above everything else, False Gods was a chronicle of Horus’s fall, and at the heart of it is a character study of how insidious Chaos is, using your doubts and fears and ambition to tempt and manipulate you. In that respect, the book is superb at making the reader both sympathise with and be revolted by the Warmaster, and it is rare that a book can elicit such a strong emotional effect.

Tune in next time folks, where I review the final book of the first trilogy of this… forty-two book… series… God-Emperor, what have I dropped myself in here? My review of Galaxy in Flames will be coming as soon as I can get around to reading it.

Product details
Paperback, 416 pages
Publisher: Black Library
Language: English
Author's Website:
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Monday, 26 February 2018

Pemmican Wars (A Girl Called Echo) - Katherena Vermette

Title - Pemmican Wars (A Girl Called Echo)
Author - Katherena Vermette


Echo Desjardins, a 13-year-old Métis girl adjusting to a new home and school, is struggling with loneliness while separated from her mother. Then an ordinary day in Mr. Bee’s history class turns extraordinary, and Echo’s life will never be the same. During Mr. Bee’s lecture, Echo finds herself transported to another time and place—a bison hunt on the Saskatchewan prairie—and back again to the present. In the following weeks, Echo slips back and forth in time. She visits a Métis camp, travels the old fur-trade routes, and experiences the perilous and bygone era of the Pemmican Wars.

Pemmican Wars is the first graphic novel in a new series, A Girl Called Echo, by Governor General Award–winning writer, and author of Highwater Press’ The Seven Teaching Stories, Katherena Vermette.


ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

This is going to be a shorter review than I would normally write since this is a 50 page graphic novel rather than a full 400+ page novel. In its short pages, Pemmican Wars manages to combine a series of beautiful illustrations of both past and present. Echo is a fantastic representation of feeling lost and disconnected from your past in a country that is at once both native to you and alien in landscape. A sense of not belonging and questions about whether she could truly take pride in her heritage when she knows so little about where she comes from keeps you turning the pages. It really emphasises the importance of taking an objective standpoint when teaching history so as to represent every side of war rather than just the side of the victors. This would actually be a really good tool to use to teach kids, a hard-hitting historical account but broken down from a modern perspective that they can relate to.

The graphics in this book are stunning. It transitions between the wild roaming lands of the past to modern suburban settings with ease. My only complaint about this book was that it ended far too soon - I felt like I had only just began to understand Echo before I turned the last page, and I was left with a tonne of questions that sorely needed answers. I think once all of the volumes have come out, it would work far better as an omnibus collection rather than a single issue.

Either way, it was a really good read, and I am eagerly anticipating the next installment.

Product Details
Paperback, 40 pages
Publisher: Highwater Press
Language: English
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Saturday, 24 February 2018

The Hazel Wood [The Hazel Wood #1] - Melissa Albert

Title - The Hazel Wood
Author - Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.


ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve started writing the review for this book no less than five times, and every time I have struggled to sum up what I felt about it. The first and most important thing I would say about this book is that it is well written; it is actually quite a stark comparison to other books in the same genre in that it makes you painfully aware that a huge amount of young adult authors are better storytellers than they are authors. It is very clear that Melissa Albert is a seriously talented author: it’s lyrical and poetic, but not a way that makes you think it was solely deigned to be a pinned on Pinterest or stuck on a nice graphic on Tumblr (I’m looking at you Tahereh Mafi and your tripping rainfalls). It's beautiful language that masterfully paints the setting for you.

Essentially, this book can be divided into two major parts – the first half, set in New York, does a really good job of setting up the plot, planting the seed of weirdness and attempting to alienate you from the main character. I realise that most books often try and make you love the narrative that is being told and an extension of that is a connection with the narrator – Alice as a narrator is not the most likeable person when you meet her. It’s not like she is outright awful, but there is an obvious distance between her and the audience; she is angry and angsty and very hard to relate to. Now, I can’t tell you if this is on purpose or just a happy accident, but when you get to the second half of the book and all of this pent up rage and aggression is confronted, it creates a much more complex character than if Albert had gone with a simple happy-go-lucky character.

The second half of the book is a lot like if you took one wrong left turn and dropped headlong into Alice in Wonderland... but if it was directed by Tim Burton's darker and more twisted cousin. It is weird, nonsensical and wholly bizarre. If you are not the kind of person who enjoys odd and irreverent kinds of plots, then this book is definitely not for you, but if you enjoy getting in Willy Wonka’s weird boat and letting him steer you into madness then this is a really good book for you.

As is always the case with books of this genre in my opinion, this is by no means perfect, so I’m going to try and balance out the positives with some things I didn’t like about it. The primary motivation of this book is Alice’s search for her mother, and despite Alice’s conviction that she does love her mum and will do anything to find her, I was not entirely convinced. To be honest, I was more interested in seeing the journey and not really what happened to Ella. She could have been erased from this book and I would not have blinked. I felt like Albert was very good at setting the scene and painting a beautiful story, but it lacked the emotional complexity necessary to draw me into the characters themselves.

This was actually mirrored in pretty much all of Alice’s relationships, and nowhere is it more apparent than her relationship with Finch. He seemed like a nice character, but that’s about it. I didn’t care if their romance came to any fruition or not. As I said before, however, I don’t think this book hinges vastly on relationships, and it’s a really interesting story either way. The only real gripe I had with this book is one particular scene involving police and Finch, and it comes out of nowhere and does a half-assed attempt to talk about police brutality and it did not make me a happy bunny. It felt like it was shoehorned in as an attempt to be ‘woke’ or whatever without properly addressing the issue itself, and I can’t say I was too enamoured by that idea.

Other than that, this book is one wild ride down a dark and twisted fairy-tale landscape which is especially impressive considering how saturated that market is at the moment. I actually can’t wait to read the next one but I’m not sure how she’s going to pull this off considering that it felt like it had a pretty conclusive ending. I’m even more excited about reading the actual Tales from Hinterlands.

Product Details
Hardcover, 368 pages
Publisher: Penguin
Language: English
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The Feed - Nick Clark Windo

Title - The Feed
Author - Nick Clark Windo


Tom and Kate's daughter turns six tomorrow, and they have to tell her about sleep.

If you sleep unwatched, you could be Taken. If you are Taken, then watching won't save you.

Nothing saves you.

Your knowledge. Your memories. Your dreams.

If all you are is on the Feed, what will you become when the Feed goes down?

For Tom and Kate, in the six years since the world collapsed, every day has been a fight for survival. And when their daughter, Bea, goes missing, they will question whether they can even trust each other anymore.

The threat is closer than they realise...


Spoiler alert: I hated this book and I will not be pulling punches. I’ve looked at other reviews and I don’t get it, man. I just don’t get it. I couldn’t even finish the damn thing it sucks that hard. 

As you might have guessed I’m going to be writing this very freeform, kind of like I was speaking to you in person. That is partly because this is a stream-of-consciousness rant, and partly because that’s how the whole god damn book feels. 

My main issues with The Feed are twofold. Firstly, it is so painfully obvious that Nick Clark Windo wanted to write a screenplay for a TV show, probably a BBC 6 episode miniseries (I mean the thing reads like he’d only just finished reading the 2007 remake of Survivors), and boy oh boy does it come through in his writing style. Here’s the thing about writing dialogue and action in novels – you write it like it’s a fucking novel, because that’s what it is. What you don’t do, is include passages like, and I’m paraphrasing because I don’t want to pick the thing up again, “ ‘How are we going to explain all of…’ the dumbass character I don’t remember the name of gestured vaguely to the interior and exterior of the building, indicating the new world’ ”. Now see, that works just fine in a screenplay. In a novel? It’s jarring and awkward. Some people may well disagree with me and say that it makes it more realistic, but I think it’s bad writing. 

Secondly, the setting itself. Now, I have a background in bioscience, so I’m admittedly nitpicky when it comes to science fiction, but I try to encourage the suspension of disbelief in myself where possible. This being said, the whole premise of the Feed itself just makes no god damn sense to me. There’s a scene in the first chapter (Which, by the way, was from a different person’s point of view to the rest of the book – why? Like it’s not like that character disappeared or died or anything, she’s still there, just… relegated to side character) where she is trying not access the Feed, but does so. It describes all the things she’s able to do with it (generic social media stuff since the whole feel of the book can be summed up by that picture of a guy wearing a shirt saying “durr hburr technology is bad fire is scary and Thomas Edison was a witch”), and mentions that she did all that in like 11 milliseconds before switching it off again so her husband or fiancée or boyfriend or whoever he was doesn’t notice. First off – no, you can’t do all that. I don’t give a flying one how good the technology is, the human brain cannot process that amount of different information at that speed. No, not even with incredibly advanced technology, not going to happen, it’s dumb.  

Second of all, he then notices and berates her (of course). Using the Feed is described as making you slackjawed, rapid eye movements, phased out, all that typical “why is this generation constantly on their phones” bullshit – however, 11 milliseconds is not long enough to notice. MAYBE I can accept that if you were living with that technology present in all aspects of daily life you’d pick up on the cues of it a lot quicker, but… come on. 

My next big gripe with this book is how vague it was. When a writer does the irritating “six years later…” thing after the first chapter, a lot will have changed, and so they make allusions to those things and slowly make reference to them. That being said, the author reeeally wanted to keep his cards close to his damn chest with this stuff. He was trying to be all vague and mysterious, oooh what could be happening, what are they all so afraid of, which would be fine if he handled it well. He didn’t. There were ample opportunities to explain what was going on – hell he’d set it up perfectly for the main character to explain to his child what was happening in a natural conversation, but apparently flashbacks are better. See what I mean about wanting to write a screenplay? 

I’m going to be honest, maybe the book gets a lot better. Maybe it draws you in later on. But I read through a decent portion of it and I had less than 0 interest in finding out any more. I had much more interest in coming to my computer, which will probably make my brain rot and my eyes fall out if Nick Clark Windo has anything to say about it, and writing this review in one shot.

Product details
Paperback, 368 pages
Publisher: Headline (9 Aug. 2018)
Language: English
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble