Showing posts with label library haul. Show all posts
Showing posts with label library haul. Show all posts

Thursday 17 September 2015

Reviewing the Evidence Time Again - Charm by Sarah Pinborough

Title: Charm (US Link)
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Romance
Series: Tales From the Kingdom (#2)

A few starting notes:

Even though this is the second book in Sarah Pinborough's Tales From the Kingdom series, it's not really a sequel as such. Oh, I'm sure there are elements which tie-in with the other books of the series, but I haven't read any of the others, and can confirm that this can certainly be taken as a stand-alone book.


Handsome prince? Check. Magic? Check. Ball? Check. Fairy godmother? Urm... there's a bit more to that one. Cinderella? Well, yeah... but she's a bit... different. So, come to think of it, are the step-sisters, and the happily ever after deal is quite complex... This is a fairy-tale, sure, but are you ready for it?

Best bits:

I love the whole inter-weaving fairy-tale world that Sarah Pinborough has created - it's full of magic, but also a creepy gothic-ness that creeps into everything.

I also really admire anyone who can bring a zing of freshness to a tale that's been told so many times - and Pinborough does, by showing that even in fairy-tales, reality is different to what you were expecting.

The illustrations give a welcome portion of gothic pizzazz to the mix, and the book is most definitely readable. I finished it in a matter of days, and found it oh-so-easy to pick up and read, and not so easy to put down again.

Not so great bits:

A lot of people will find the degree of naughtiness going on here jarring when compared to the squeaky Disney-clean image of Cinderella et. al. they were provided with in childhood. Some may even find it distasteful - I'm honestly not all that bothered, since it didn't really get in the way of the plot, but a lot of people won't like Cinders erring towards debauchery!

I know this is fantasy - own world, own rules, etc. But, the main thing that bothered me here was that I felt I couldn't get a good enough feel for the setting - was this medieval levels of technology and styles of fashion, or closer to Victorian? I just couldn't get a handle on it.


Ahhh, this is a book for the ladies (and the men who are secure with their identities.) Grab a cuppa, a cat, and a blanket (and maybe some chocolate? Yes?) and enjoy the hell out of it.

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Reviewing the Evidence Again! - Through the Ever Night

Title: Through the Ever Night (US Link)
Author: Veronica Rossi
Genre: dystopian, ya, sci-fi
Series: Under the Never Sky

A few starting notes:

As this is the sequel to the awesome Under the Never Sky, my basic rule for reviewing sequels applies - no spoilers for previous books beyond what is in the blurb of this book. With that said and done, I was really looking forward to reading this because I enjoyed the first one - and #2 didn't disappoint.


In a world split in two - the pods of Reverie, and the harsh reality of the Outside - Aria and Perry have been trying to find a way to walk the delicate line between the worlds. With things heating up, and both societies in danger, it's going to be a bumpy ride...

Best bits:

I love Aria, one of our protagonists. What we have here my friends is a realistic and imperfect dystopian female protagonist with her own ideas and motivations - I know, what is this???? Is this a strong but flawed female character????? In a dystopian YA novel????? I may have to lie down for a while!

As with the last book, the strength of Rossi's complex world really impresses me. The hardships of both the once-proud Reverie and the dangerous Outside are both painted with confidence and deft skill - it's believable, and the imagery is vivid.

We also have a non-love-interest male friend. I know! And it works so freaking well! Just one of the ways that Ms Rossi takes the well-worn path and adapts the living sh** out of it to create something which manages to feel fresh in a heavily-laden genre.

Not so great bits:

I didn't like Kirra - once you get there, you'll know. But then, I don't think we were supposed to like Kirra - she's mainly there, in conjunction with Brooke, to show how awesome Aria is, I just wish there could've been another way to show the levels of awesomeness in the main character without resorting to creating characters which exist purely to provide contrast.

There are also a few, but noticeable, moments when you want to physically shake either Perry or Arya by the shoulders and tell them to stop being so freaking stupid - but then, I suppose that real people are also pretty damned stupid, and in comparison to other YA protagonists, these two are freaking geniuses. And they do have some apocalyptic dystopian sh** to deal with, so I'll cut them some slack.


I love this book. It's fresh, well-written, and involving, bringing a breath-taking dystopian novel without diving too far into the loony end of the pool. I will definitely be on the look out for the next book.

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Reviewing the Evidence Time! - Sweet Evil

Title: Sweet Evil (US Link)
Author: Wendy Higgins
Genre: paranormal, romance, ditzy, angels, ya
Series: The Sweet Trilogy (#1)

A few starting notes:

So, this was a random library haul selection - according to the blurb there were angels and much ditzy goings-on, according to the cover there was a freaking huge red dress and a bloke staring moodily over a girl's shoulder, so I decided to give it a shot.


Anna Whitt is a girl from Georgia (the state, not the country,) who is a little quirky. She's the ultimate good-girl, a rule follower to a T. Except she also sees other people's emotions - and can remember being born...and the time before she was born. Inevitably, she meets a dude that's a little bit quirky like her - bad boy Kaidan Rowe - and everything turns into this whole angels/demons complicated thing.

Best bits:

Anna is actually likeable - something not to be sniffed at in YA paranormal romance. Sometimes she can be a little stupid - but she is 16, and does require plot-points to happen, so we can excuse her the slip-ups. Although I have to admit, I would've attempted to get in touch with my biological parents at about the point where my senses got hyper-charged - not several years later. She's worryingly un-curious about herself.

The whole angels and demons set-up is quite interesting, and managed to keep me reading - which is what you want really.

The whole book is entertaining and enjoyable, and I read it in a couple of days. It draws you on through the story, and doesn't require any deep levels of attention to enjoy.

Not so great bits:

Anna's modesty bugs me. I don't like her statement about dressing modest because she understands how difficult it is for teenage boys to deal with their hormones. Let them deal with them. Dress however the hell you want - it's for you, not them. Women should not have to consider what blokes think of their clothing - it doesn't matter.

There's a bunch of issues that are touched upon or referenced: abortion, drinking, drugs, adoption, suicide, lust, sin, rape, etc... Because it's angels and demons based there's a lot of pondering the nature of sin etc. etc. It's also religious in places (no big surprise,) which may not be to everyone's taste. I personally found the preoccupation with Anna's 'virtue' more than slightly annoying - particularly as for a book that's so prude-y in its attitude, it never seems to stop mentioning sex.

I also think the romance would've been better off more subtly nuanced and that demons weren't blamed for everything that could possibly go wrong, but that would be asking a bit much I suppose.


It's enjoyable, it's different - it does (occasionally) make you think. It's also an easy read for the train. I liked it - I may even consider reading something by this author again - but it's a take-it-or-leave-it kind of book.

Sunday 19 July 2015

Reviewing the Evidence (Classics Edition!) - 12 Years a Slave

Title: 12 Years a Slave (US Link)
Author: Solomon Northup
Genre: classics, non-fiction, memoirs, autobiography

A few starting notes:

I approached this book with a mix of trepidation and interest - I'd heard of the film, but not seen it, and knew a little about the story, but didn't know what the writing would be like or how the tone would be. I needn't have worried.


Solomon Northup was a black man born free in the time of slavery in the USA. He is tricked, kidnapped, and enslaved, enduring the life of a Southern slave for a period of 12 years. This is his own account of his time spent in slavery.

Best bits:

The very best bit is our narrator - Solomon Northup himself. He never lacks perspective, considers the opinions and feelings of others, and speaks with a strong voice that reverberates through the pages. His account keeps a level of admirable dignity up throughout its entirety, and he weaves the prose together better than many bestsellers today.

Mr Northup never shies away from the realities of slavery - we are told of the whippings and beatings, and the pain of separated families, whilst maintaining that same dignity. He never includes gratuitous levels of violence or suffering simply for their own sakes, and is honest about everything - the good times and the bad.

He also always gives credit where credit is due in a gracious and understanding way. He refrains from judging slave-owners simply for being slave-owners. His first master, William Ford, he has genuine affection for and Ford joins the ranks of white men who put themselves out for Mr Northup's sakes (the others including but not limited to an English sailor, and the Canadian carpenter, Bass.) Northup insists that, in his estimation, Ford was only a slave-owner because he had been born and raised in the South - something which he could not help any more than Solomon could help being black.

Not so great bits:

Slavery is understandably an uncomfortable subject - and though Solomon Northup is an excellent narrator, he uses the language and the attitudes of his time. He thinks nothing of classifying people according to their skin colour - something which actually becomes very interesting in the case of the slave Celeste who is paler than her owner - and this can jar with modern sensibilities.

He also uses the 'n' word a lot - simply because this is how black people were referred to by those he is in contact with. This is historically accurate but mightily uncomfortable.

The subject matter, as can be expected, is not always pleasant, though is not gratuitous.


This book is excellent. It is written sublimely with a voice that is not often heard in accounts of slavery - that of an actual slave. More than just an outstanding piece of literature, this is also a work of historical importance - and should be just as much as a necessity on reading lists as the likes of Anne Frank's Diary.

Thursday 16 July 2015

Reviewing the Evidence - Bloody Valentine

Title: Bloody Valentine (US Link)
Author: James Patterson
Genre: crime
Series: Quick Reads

A few starting notes:

Having previously read James Patterson books, and found his books entertaining if sometimes a little devoid of depth, and being a sucker for the excellent and always commendable Quick Reads series, I decided to pick this up in my last library haul.


It's Valentine's day. But something is wrong in the Barnes apartments - the block of flats shared by entrepreneur Jack Barnes and his extended family. An awful and gory crime has been committed...could it have been by one of their own?

Best bits:

The locked-room style aspects of the mystery at the heart of this book is always interesting - and for the most part Patterson does justice to the concept.

The other thing that really stands out about this book is the sense of secrets, hidden deep within a well-off family, bubbling beneath the surface until they spill forward. The interplay of the tension is well-used, and the view of rich families as somehow hiding sin and betrayal, though a well-trodden path, is also used to good effect.

Patterson's main appeal is his sheer readability - and there is no difference here. The chapters are short and draw you onwards through the tale, and the whole book is also short - this being the Quick Reads series - so it is handy for those in-between moments, and for the busy reader.

Not so great bits:

The ending feels a little rushed, as if we're sprinting at the finish, and I think it would've benefited from a little more detail at the end. The prose is sometimes clumsy and a little bewildering, though largely it remains clear and readable.

The characters too could have done with a little more development - the standout perhaps being Leila and Ted, who both stand out more than Zee, Jack, or any of the detectives.


This is a quick and entertaining mystery. Yes, it's a little rough around the edges in more than a few places, but it's still pretty readable, and you'll want to read to the end, if only to reach the final answer to the whodunit? question.

Quick Note: I forgot to mention before but there is a scene or two in this book that is very gory - might not be to everyone's taste.

Sunday 5 July 2015

Reviewing the Evidence - Doctor Sleep

Title: Doctor Sleep (US Link)
Author: Stephen King
Genre: horror, paranormal
Series: The Shining

A few starting notes:

Doctor Sleep Stephen King
It's probably no great surprise to anyone by now that this is the sequel to The Shining. With that in mind, I do recommend that you read The Shining first - you'll just get so much more out of Doctor Sleep if you do. I'm going to keep this spoiler-free, with the exception of anything you can learn from reading the blurb for Doctor Sleep - because I think that's only fair.


Daniel Torrance is all growed up. Except, the problem when you had an...unusual...childhood is that it tends to leave after-effects.

But now he has something else to think about. Or, at least, someone else. Abra Stone is a girl with one of the strongest examples of the Shining the world has ever seen - and she's attracted some attention. The True Knot aren't human anymore, and they live off steam - the thing that kids with the Shining produce, their essence. The True Knot are coming, they're coming for Abra...

Best bits:

It's an almost universal rule that the sequel will never be as good as the original. This is one of the exceptions. I hesitate to say that it's better than The Shining, but it's certainly as good as its predecessor. I personally also found it easier to relate to - but that's probably because the world in which Doctor Sleep is largely set is one I recognise, one not lost to the time after WW2 but before I was born like The Shining was.

The prose, plot, and characters are sublime. King knows what he's doing. I wonder why people still doubt his awesome mastery of the art. The writing hooks you in and carries you along on the tide. The characters are recognisably real in that they have flaws - some pretty major ones - virtues, and a good dollop of everyday life.

Also, and the amount to which I was chuffed by this is probably a testimony to just how nerdy I am, Stephen King's books have cross-contaminated with Joe Hill's. As well as references to other portions of his work (a brief mention of the ever present Castle Rock, for example,) there are references to Joe Hill's NOS4R2 (or NOS4A2, depending on which version you have,) which you may remember my previous review of. I also remember the odd reference to Stephen King works in Joe Hill books - and I love it. They need to keep this going for as long as possible because together I reckon they're damn-near unstoppable.

Not so great bits:

This is a Stephen King book - there are going to be traumatic things. You need to accept this. King is rarely if ever gratuitous however and deals with such weighty issues as alcoholism, various types of abuse, and some pretty unpleasant things happening to children, with his usual measured blend of realism and tact. There is also swearing, again, as per usual.

I personally would've liked it if certain aspects of the story - can't go into too much detail on account of spoilers - were brought more to the fore. For example, the actual 'Doctor Sleep' persona. And the cat - there should be more cats in everything as far as I'm concerned. This is a matter of personal preference though - I really can't fault Mr King for going in the direction he did with this, even if I would've liked to see other avenues expanded and explored.


This is an excellent sequel to a book considered a modern classic. It doesn't fall into the trap of trying to replicate the original, neither does it strain too much under the weight of its predecessor. This is carried off with skill and power. If you've read The Shining, read this.

Tuesday 30 June 2015

Library Haul!

library haul books

Ahhh, just look at that wonderful library haul! Granted, a couple are renewals, but they still all belong to that excellent library pile :) I may have maxed out my library card (damn you ten item policy!) but it was totally worth it!

Friday 19 June 2015

Reviewing the Evidence - Ban this Filth!

Title: Ban This Filth! Mary Whitehouse and the Battle to Keep Britain Innocent (US Link)
Author: Ben Thompson
Genre: non-fiction

A few starting notes:

This was picked up in a library haul and seemed pretty interesting. For those who don't know, Mary Whitehouse was the leader of the National Viewer's and Listener's Association and the Clean-up TV Campaign from the 1960s onwards.


This is a selection of the letters and documents from the Mary Whitehouse archive (yes, there is apparently such a thing,) and a running commentary by Mr Thompson.

Best bits:

This is quite an interesting book - I only had a sketchy knowledge of Mary Whitehouse before reading (her peak was a bit before my time,) and am always interested in the issue of censorship and the issue of offensive material in the media.

Ben Thompson's commentary is chatty and engaging, and clearly thought through, making the book charming enough to keep you reading. He also does well in framing the many paradoxes of a complex character who became a symbol of right-wing censorship while raising some fundamentally important points along the way.

Not so great bits:

I have to admit that at some points I found Thompson's defence of, and sometimes admiration and affection for, Mary Whitehouse a little wearing. Yes, believe it or not, she occasionally made some good points, but I would've liked a bit more of an acknowledgement that whatever good points she made cannot excuse her blatant homophobia (not to mention other statements made by herself which were more offensive than the stuff she wanted censored.) 

The structure of the book - with chapters focussing on a them - could've benefitted from said themes being more juicy. I would've far rathered reading more about the objections she had to things which have since become national treasures (Dr. Who, The Beatles,) than reading about her in-fighting with other Christian organisations such as the Anglican Church. A bit more social context for those of us not born at the time would also have not gone amiss.

Also, and this is not really the book's fault, the jacket was covered with quotes from British reviewers who clearly need to get out more. Yes, the book was amusing in places, but in no way was it 'hilarious' or 'shockingly funny.'


A fair effort to discuss the paradoxes and life of Mrs Whitehouse using the incredibly interesting resource of her own archives. There were minus points to this book, of course, but at the end of the day it is a competent portrait of the work of a woman who was trying (forcefully) to get back to an innocent, idealised, version of this country that never really existed - except perhaps in the minds of people like her.

Sunday 7 June 2015

Time to Review the Evidence - A Dreadful Murder: The Mysterious Death of Caroline Luard

Title: A Dreadful Murder: The Mysterious Death of Caroline Luard 
(US Link)
Author: Minette Walters
Genre: crime, historical fiction
Series: Quick Reads

A few starting notes:

Another of the awesome Quick Reads series (which as always deserves my commendable praise for trying to get everyone reading) this is a fictionalisation of the real 1908 murder of Mrs Caroline Luard.


Mrs Caroline Luard is found dead - shot - in the rural Kent town of Ightham. The neighbours suspect her husband - Major-General Luard, a local JP and well-off snob. But did he kill her? Or is there another explanation?

Best bits:

The pace and depth both pick up from about half-way through, as the author seems to get into her stride. It's from this point - where there's more of the fiction and supposition, rather than the fact, that the book becomes more involving.

The whole story is edible in bite-size chunks, and the atmosphere of early 20th century secrets and poverty is captured in an intriguing and encapsulating way.

Not so great bits:

As always, there are some issues here which may upset some readers - murder (obviously,) poverty, alcoholism, suicide, and domestic abuse are all touched on at various points. If this is a major problem for you, then obviously, read with caution.

The tone sticks a little in places, but not enough to really bother you all that much.


A very readable, short, and digestible fictionalised account of an intriguing and mysterious crime. Perfect for a bit of detective-ness in the middle of your everyday life. 

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Reviewing the evidence - Under the Never Sky

Title: Under the Never Sky (US Link)
Author: Veronica Rossi
Genre: YA, Sci-fi, Dystopian
Series: Under the Never Sky

Under the Never Sky

A few starting notes:

This is the first book in the 'Under the Never Sky' series by Veronica Rossi (not to be confused with Veronica Roth - author of the Divergent series.) I picked it up randomly at the library. I warn any fangirls/boys amongst you that it may well drag you into a new fandom, complete with ships and potential otp (I have a feeling this is going to suck me to fandom levels, I already want to read the rest of the series. I will resist becoming obsessed while it's still possible.) To non fangirls/boys - ignore that last sentence and try to not to get sucked into the fandom vocab, the less you know the more likely you are to continue in your somehow fandom-free existence.


Aria (pronounced like the song) has lived in Reverie her whole life. She's never even been to the outer pods. She has the Realms - the virtual worlds all Dwellers live in, in ignorance of the cracks beginning to show in the aging Reverie. Aria's world is about to change forever.

Perry is an Outsider. He lives outside the pods, with the other Outsiders. He's Marked - he has special abilities: ultra-sharp eyesight and the ability to smell feelings. Perry's world is about to change forever.

Somehow, their going to have walk the balance between Reverie and the Outside, together.

Best bits:

The dystopian system is well thought-through - you can tell that there's a history to this place that the author knows but also knows isn't relevant to the plot. Rossi walks with ease through the different facets of her world, as if she's actually been there.

The concept of the Realms is frighteningly realistic - it's only a short step from what we already have, and it's an unnerving prospect used to excellent effect.

This book is a real page-turner, it grabs you and carries you along. Even with the recent glut in dystopian fiction off the back of series like The Hunger Games, this manages to feel fresh and relevant, despite walking some well-trodden paths.

Not so great bits:

There's some weighty issues here - parental neglect, child abuse, family betrayal,  and sexual assault (starting to think that there's sexual assault in pretty much every book I read.) There's also a bunch of gore, death, and a touch of cannibalism. This is dystopian fiction - this tends to result in an absence of fluffy bunnies.

You can see the romance coming a mile off - thing is, you kind of want it. The irritating part is that it doesn't come soon enough! I hate it when books make you wait around for something that's obvious from the first chapter.


This manages to bring fresh air to a recently saturated genre. It will keep you reading, keep you hoping, keep you guessing. It's sure as hell a great novel - and I can't wait for the rest of the series!

Monday 25 May 2015

Reviewing the evidence - The Witch's Daughter

Title: The Witch's Daughter (US Link)
Author: Paula Brackston
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Series: The Shadow Chronicles

A few starting notes:
The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston
Apparently this is the first volume of the Shadow Chronicles, though it seems that the series continues along a theme rather than with the same characters. Though with this being the first I've read, it's possible I'm wrong.


Bess Hawksmith was happy enough faffing about in the rural West Country in the 1600's. Then everything basically went to hell in a hand-basket. There was death, lots of it, and magic, some of it, and fear, buckets of it.

Eliza Hawksmith was working as a doctor, treating the rich and the poor of Victorian London, until the past caught up with her.

Elise Hawksmith was a nurse on the Western Front. She met a soldier. They were in love. Could it last?

Elizabeth Hawksmith is just settling into a new village when she meets Tegan. Tegan becomes almost like a daughter to her, and Elizabeth finds herself having to protect the girl from things she's too young to understand.

And looming over it all is the shadow of Gideon Masters. A rejected suitor is a dangerous thing - particularly one like Gideon.

Best bits:

I like the historical settings - the images used are vivid and really conjure the essence of the period of time.

The plot is interesting enough to keep you going, and the characters are amiable enough to make you care. Which of course is what you need in any novel.

I also liked the way Elizabeth's diary is used as a frame for the other three stories - it gives an effective structure to the whole thing.

Not so great bits:

There's some pretty gory bits, so if you're not a fan of the violence, blood and guts, beware. There's also some pretty uncomfortable and down-right graphic descriptions of rape, so read responsibly.

This isn't exactly historically-accurate, what with all the witching and all, but I'm pretty sure that the black death/bubonic plague was centred in the 1300/1400s, not the 1600s - though I will admit that there were some localised outbreaks afterwards. Brackston's plague is in 1628; the history nerd in me wishes that at the very least there was some mention of the unusualness of an outbreak at this time.

The narrative has a kind of BBC4 afternoon play vibe - which is all very well and good in its place, but kind of jars with the content in places.


A decent novel with plenty of historical-drama melded with witch-y activity. Enjoyable but a little slow and sometimes off-key in pace and tone, this is most likely to appeal to fans of Alma Katsu's The Taker, or the TV show Forever - although, personally, I think that Forever does a better job at dealing with the themes.

Saturday 2 May 2015

Reviewing the evidence - Love is Blind

Title: Love is Blind (US Link)
Author: Kathy Lette
Genre: Ditzy, Romance
Series: Quick Reads

A few starting notes:

This is another book in the Quick Reads series. As I've previously mentioned, this series consists of short, easily digested books by top authors on a variety of subjects. They're normally priced somewhere between £1 and £1.99. They're excellent for a hit of reading - whether you're a reader or someone who struggles.

This particular book is what I call 'ditzy' - others may refer to it as chick-lit, women's fiction, etc. but I think that excludes any dudes who might like a bit of ditz in their lives. Although, the pink cover and subtle-as-a-slap-to-the-face title may not help when it comes to attracting male readers.


Anthea's life is perfect. She has the perfect job, perfect home, perfect body, perfect fiancé. Her sister Jane though is the ugly duckling of the family, driven to husband-hunting in the Australian outback, where what's on the outside isn't as important as the fact that you're a woman.

Anthea thinks Jane may have completely lost her marbles. She's determined to bring her sister to her senses. Except...

Except maybe 'perfect' isn't as perfect as Anthea thought it was.

Best bits:

The verbal sparring between the sisters early on is highly enjoyable for it's pantomime yet quick-witted nature. Lette's metaphors verge on the random, which makes arguments all the more entertaining.

This book is short and entertaining - perfect for slipping into a modern hectic lifestyle. The plot is fairly fast-paced and enjoyable, and less sappy than the title suggests. And a fair few points are made about modern standards of success and beauty along the way.

Not so great bits:

OK, so it's not exactly deep. Is it meant to be though? This is one of those books that is all about basking in the guilty pleasure.


A fab slot-in book for your spare time, enjoyable and non-too-taxing. This is just begging for a cuppa and a chocolate bar under your favourite blanket.

Tuesday 28 April 2015


Got a new Library Haul today - argh I love the library!

Anyone with a sharp eye may notice that Under the Never Sky and The Witch's Daughter were part of my previous haul - but that's what renewals are for!
As for the rest of this haul, the picture kind of cut off some of it, but there's a few Quick Reads, a graphic novel, and some non-fiction. There's also Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, because I've read the Shining so now I have to read it's sequel.
I'm looking forward to two of my non-fic picks in particular - 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, and Ban This Filth! by Ben Thompson. Ban This Filth! is about Mary Whitehouse and the censorship movement, so should be fun and irritating at the same time.
Hopefully some reviews will be appearing for you all soon!!!

Friday 17 April 2015

Time to Review the Evidence - The Shape Stealer

Title: The Shape Stealer (US Link)
Author: Lee Carroll
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Series: Watchtower

A few starting notes:

This is another random pick from my last library haul (I have renewed, I won't be hunted down by mercenary librarians, it's fine.) I didn't realise when I picked it up, but it's actually book 3 of the Watchtower series. That didn't bother me too much because it's not like I've never dived into a series mid-way through before.

Lee Carroll is actually the pen name of a two-person writing team.


Garet James, the Watchtower (a magically guardian-y type person,) has some stuff to deal with. Her boyfriend is a vampire (well, sort of,) and there's an ancient demon following them (don't you hate it when that happens?) plus there's a whole lot of time-travelling hijinks going on.

Best bits:

It's fun! The tone is light and enjoyable, and definitely readable.

The short chapters make it easy to dip in and out of, and it's easy to follow even with all the twists and turns of the plot. This is a chillax, Sunday afternoon when your brain needs some down-time kind of book. With supernatural stuff chucked in for good measure.

I'm also a fan of the urban fantasy sub-genre in general (that's where there's vampires and stuff faffing around modern cities,) and this carries it of competently.

Not so great bits:

I'm sorry, but the poetry and song lyrics just didn't do it for me. I found them naff. Very naff.

There's also plot-holes aplenty here, as is the hazard with time-travel plots - all those pesky paradoxes! But if you just let the plot-holes exist and quiet the voice that argues with them, you should be fine.


This is fairly enjoyable - a quick light read with the plus of supernatural goings-on and a good pace.

Thursday 26 March 2015

Reviewing the evidence time (Manga Edition!) - Genju No Seiza vol.1

Title: Genju No Seiza vol. 1
Author: Matsuri Akino
Genre: Graphic Novel, Manga, YA (older teens,) Fantasy, Paranormal

A few starting notes:

Genju No Seiza translates to 'Constellation of the Imaginary Beast' (thanks Wikipedia,) and is presented in the format favoured by the publisher (the now sadly diminished, but hopefully will soon rise from the flames, Tokyopop,) of reading right to left to keep the orientation of the artwork. It sounds more complicated than it is, honestly, though sometimes you do read things in the wrong order and have to check yourself.

I picked this up randomly in my last library haul, so didn't really have any preconceptions about what it would be like.


Fuuto Kamishina hasn't had the easiest of lives, and it turns out the past few lives have been a bit complicated too. It's not everyday that a birdman attaches himself to you and tells you that you are the reincarnated rightful ruler of a tiny Asian country called Dhalashar. What's a Japanese schoolboy to do when there are paranormal assassins, restless spirits, and premonitions of doom to deal with?

Best bits:

The artwork is competent and engaging. Sometimes it crosses the line into truly beautiful - which is always a good sign going forward in a series. Some of it is brutal and striking - manga rarely shies away from dramatic wounds and blood.

The characters - Fuuto in particular - are believable and interesting. You care what's going to happen to him, what he's going to decide to do with this insane situation that's suddenly landed on him. And he's different, which is a huge thumbs up as far as I'm concerned!

The plot and tone have a gothic and slightly surreal feel that I think actually fits quite well. The castle which Mayu lives in gives the whole thing this sort of other-world anything-is-possible feel that's really entrancing.

There's humour here too - not over-used, but excellent at tempering the seriousness of much of the plot. I particularly enjoy 'Professor Vision' which shows what it looks like to outsiders (this outsider happening to be the Professor, there are always professors in manga,) when Fuuto is arguing with a random bunch of animals.

Not so great bits:

The first chapter (this volume takes in Chapters 1-5) is a little rushed as far as plot is concerned, but it soon settles into it's groove.

Some readers may find some of the themes and artwork difficult to deal with - there's discussion of suicide and abuse here, for example - but I think it's handled with grace. Obviously, if you find this sort of thing distressing, this may not be the book for you.


A promising start to the series that tempers gothic seriousness with the gentle touch of humour. Engaging characters, artwork, premise, what more could you want in a good slab of manga?

Monday 23 February 2015

Book Haul - #LibraryHaul

Library Book Haul

I went to the library this morning (Yay!) and picked up this awesome haul, some fiction, some non-fiction, some graphic novels...all combine to make a happy reading addict!

I hauled the following:
Prince of Shadows; Rachel Caine
The Shape Stealer; Lee Carroll
Mr Briggs' Hat; Kate Colquhoun
The Witch's Daughter; Paula Brackston
Traitors of the Tower; Alison Weir
Under the Never Sky; Veronica Rossi

Graphic Novels:
Wolverine: Hunting Season
Genju no Seiza vol. 1
Vermonia 1 Quest for the Silver Tiger

I'm hoping to review some soon - espec. Traitors of the Tower, since it's a Quick Read and I think that that's such a very awesome scheme/series! Happy reading everyone!