Friday, October 30, 2015

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Title: The Iron Trial

Author: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Published: Corgi Books, 2015

Pages: 400

Series: Book 1, Magisterium

Summary: Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst – and fails at failing.

Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.
The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: Every now and again I enjoy a good middle grade book.  Especially ones filled with magic.  I had heard a few things about this book and I do enjoy Holly Black's writing so I thought I would give this book a go and see what I thought.

The concept is a mixture of new things and things we have seen before.  It's about a boy who is chosen to go to a magical school and interesting things happen from there.  I quite liked the way the magic was presented and also the way the classes were taught was quite unique.

A lot of the reviews I read for this book and a lot of people seemed to think of this book as a rip-off of Harry Potter. I have to say that I felt like this book reminded me more of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, than anything.  And only if The Name of the Wind was written for a younger audience and had a lot of its components stripped down.  Really, I feel like if this book sounds interesting enough then there's no harm in giving it a try.

I thought the ending was interesting.  It wasn't quite what I had expected and I am a little curious as to how things play out.  That being said, while the story was enjoyable, I'm not entirely sure if I enjoyed it enough that I want to invest my time in reading the entire series.  It will take a few years as I see there are meant to be about five books in the series.

Overall, I thought The Iron Trial was a fun and interesting read.  I have the second book in the series so I will be picking that up at some point soon.  At the moment I feel like I could take it or leave it in terms of this series so we will see if the second book picks up to be just that little bit more exciting.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Flipped for Murder by Maddie Day

Title: Flipped for Murder

Author: Maddie Day

Published: 27 October 2015, Kensington

Pages: 304

Series: Book 1, A Country Store Mystery

Purchase Links:
Book Depository*

Summary: Nursing a broken heart, Robbie Jordan is trading in her life on the West Coast for the rolling hills of southern Indiana. After paying a visit to her Aunt Adele, she fell in love with the tiny town of South Lick. And when she spots a For Sale sign on a rundown country store, she decides to snap it up and put her skills as a cook and a carpenter to use. Everyone in town shows up for the grand re-opening of Pans ‘n Pancakes, but when the mayor's disagreeable assistant is found dead, Robbie realizes that not all press is good press. With all eyes on her, she'll have to summon her puzzle-solving skills to clear her name, unscramble the town's darkest secrets, and track down a cold-blooded killer--before she's the next to die...  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I have found myself absolutely loving Cosy mystery stories lately and I felt like this one looked like my kind of book.  I always seem to love the mysteries that have a foodie theme to them.  Flipped for Murder was no exception.

This book had so much food, that it made me feel really hungry.  It also made me want to jump into the kitchen myself and do some cooking.  This is one of those cosy mystery stories that have recipes in the back and these one sounded really good so I need to try those at some point.  Anyway, the point is, that I always enjoy reading cosy mysteries when they have interesting side themes, and a foodie side theme is always a winner.

The mystery itself was quite interesting, although I did feel like this one didn't have the main character investigating as much.  That being said, there was another little bit of a mystery that was happening and the same time and I really enjoyed that.

I kind of managed to guess the murderer but at the same time, I had two other suspects as well so I wasn't completely able to guess.  I did find that the ending just sort of happened really abruptly.  I was a little taken aback by that.

Overall, I quite enjoyed Flipped for Murder, it was really interesting and just a fun cosy mystery.  I look forward to reading the next book in the series when it is released.

Source: NetGalley for Review

Friday, October 23, 2015

Night Child by Jes Battis

Title: Night Child

Author: Jes Battis

Published: Ace, 2008

Pages: 293

Series: Book 1, OSI

Summary: Tess Corday, Occult Special Investigator for Vancouver's Mystical Crime Lab, is used to seeing dead vampires. But there's nothing ordinary about this case. Not the lab results on the cause of death. Not the teenage girl living at the address found in the vamp's pocket, who may well be in thrall to a demon. And certainly not Lucian Agrado, the necromancer who is liaison to the vampire community. Agrado is supposed to be part of the solution, but Tess suspects he might be part of the problem.

Soon she finds herself in the middle of a paranormal conspiracy that will change her life forever... and possibly end it.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I purchased this book a couple of years ago when I was just getting into the urban fantasy genre and wanting to find as many books as I could on the topic.  I have finally picked it up and can say that I quite enjoyed it.

Night Child, started off with a really interesting first line and I was hooked into the mystery of the dead vampire and what could have happened to him.  From the beginning, events kind of spiral out and there were so many interesting things going on.

I do have to say that I didn't really like some of the things that Tess did.  I just felt that she defied orders sometimes for no reason.  Then she would be in trouble but she just didn't care and it seemed like the bosses didn't really care either.  It was a little odd.

The magic in this story is interspersed with science and I thought that was so interesting.  It talked a lot about blood types and how that affects vampirism and things like that.

I felt like the ending reveal felt a little weak and I just felt like it was a little bit of a letdown.  It actually took me a couple of days to get through the last 50 pages.  I dunno, it just felt a little bit cheap or weaker than the rest of the story.

Overall, I enjoyed Night Child.  I'll definitely pick up the next book in the series as I really loved the scientific aspect of the magic and so I am interested in seeing how the next book develops this idea.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Ghostwritten by David Mitchell

Title: Ghostwritten

Author: David Mitchell

Published: Sceptre, 2000

Pages: 448

Summary: Oblivious to the bizarre ways in which their lives intersect, nine characters-a terrorist in Okinawa, a record-shop clerk in Tokyo, a money-laundering British financier in Hong Kong, an old woman running a tea shack in China, a transmigrating "noncorpum" entity seeking a human host in Mongolia, a gallery-attendant-cum-art-thief in Petersburg, a drummer in London, a female physicist in Ireland, and a radio deejay in New York-hurtle toward a shared destiny of astonishing impact.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: After watching the Cloud Atlas film, I decided that I wanted to read David Mitchell's books and then after hearing more about them I decided that I should read them in order of publication.  So, here I am starting with Ghostwritten, which I have been told is not the best of David Mitchell's books.

Ghostwritten is basically set up like a collection of ten short stories, each one focusing on a certain character and part of what is happening in their lives.

The first few pages of this book were pretty confusing and I felt like I wasn't enjoying it very much.  I sat the book down for a couple of days after I read the first few pages and then I picked it back up and made myself read through the first story.  Once I got to the second story/chapter, that one was a lot more interesting and I quite enjoyed it.  I'm not going to go through my experiences with every chapter but I will say that it was a bit of a roller coaster.  Some of them were interesting but others were more confusing than interesting or they were just kind of boring.

Really, this book was somewhat interesting while I was reading it but whenever I sat it down it was just difficult to pick back up.  I just found myself doing other things instead of reading it.  In the end I got to the last four chapters and I had a feeling that I knew where the book was going to go so I sat down one night to just finish the book.

I have to say that I enjoyed David Mitchell's writing and it was interesting to see how and where characters connected, but I did feel like the stories in this one were a little boring at times.

Overall, I feel like I could appreciate David Mitchell's writing, but the story itself had so many ups and downs for me.  This was my first foray into literary fiction and David Mitchell's writing but I am definitely looking forward to reading more of David Mitchell.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Dangerously Dark by Colette London

Title: Dangerously Dark

Author: Colette London

Published: Kensington, September 2015

Pages: 352

Series: Book 2, A Chocolate Whisperer Mystery

Summary: Chocolate-whisperer Hayden Mundy Moore has just arrived in Portland, Oregon, where she's about to scarf soufflés and sip cacao-based cocktails at her friend's engagement party. Fresh from nabbing her first candy-covered killer, the last thing Hayden wants to do is mix her love of chocolate with criminal mischief again. But then the groom-to-be turns up dead before beginning his renowned Chocolate-After-Dark tour. . .

Hayden's friends insist that Declan's death was a freak accident, but she knows there's no mistaking the bitter aftertaste of homicide. In the midst of habañero hot chocolate and mocha-chunk gelato, a choco-crazed killer waits to strike again. Hayden will need to use more than her extraordinarily gifted taste buds to bring this murderer to justice, but she just might have bitten off more than she can chew in the process. . .  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I honestly did not think I would be picking up this book, as I had mixed feelings about the first book in the series, but I decided to give this book a chance. 

I think my biggest issue with the first book was the characters had really big personalities and they didn't have personalities that I liked either.  I felt like in this book they were a bit more toned down so I felt like it was better.  However, I just don't really like Hayden Mundy Moore, it's really hard to say why, but there's something about her that bothers me and usually I can ignore that but in this book I found it detracted a little from the story.

In terms of the mystery, I liked how it got into things fairly quickly and I have to say that I did manage to guess who the murderer was.  There were so many clues leading to different people but this time I was able to guess correctly.  

The chocolate aspect in this book was pretty interesting but I felt like it wasn't touched upon as much in this one as it usually is.  However, the recipes in the back of the book sound really amazing and I need to try and make some at some point.

Overall, I enjoyed Dangerously Dark but I felt like something was missing.  That being said, I am curious about Hayden's next adventure so I'll definitely pick up the next book when it comes out.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Glyph by Percival Everett

Title: Glyph

Author: Percival Everett

Published: Faber and Faber, 2004

Pages: 208

Summary: Mute by choice, and able to read complex philosophical treatises and compose passable short stories while still in the crib, baby Ralph does not consider himself a genius-- because he is unable to drive. Plenty of others, however, want a stake in this precocious child prodigy. Among the most fiendish are Dr. Steimmel, the psychiatrist to whom his bewildered parents first take him, and her assistant Boris; Dr. Davis and her illegal chimps; and not-so-sweet Nanna, the secret agent. All have plans for Ralph, and no one wants to share the poor infant who misses his mother and does not take kindly to his new role as "Defense Stealth Operative." Throughout the ensuing nation-wide chase of which he is the center, Ralph ponders on the theories of literary form-- and comes to some surprising conclusions of his own that perhaps only a baby could dream up.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I had no idea what to expect with this book but it sounded like it could be interesting so I picked it up and read through it.

It took me quite a while to get into this book and I feel like it also took me a while to read this book.  It's only just over 200 pages but it's kind of content heavy.  In the beginning I found the book to be a little confusing but as I got used to the book I was able to figure out a bit more about what was happening.

The most interesting aspect of this book is that the protagonist is a baby.  A very smart baby at that too.  Now, his story was really interesting.  That part of the book is what had me sucked in the most.  It was a little bit suspenseful because I had no idea what was going to happen to Ralph and where the book would take me.

Then there were the other chapters where Ralph, (the baby), was basically talking about literary theory and philosophy and other interesting theoretical concepts.  I thought this was quite interesting but not every part of it was interesting to me.  I think that as I progressed further with the book, those parts didn't bother me as much.

Overall, I quite liked Glyph but I did feel that I may have enjoyed it a little more if I knew more about literary theory as it seemed like this book had quite a lot of references and criticisms of literary theory. It was definitely an interesting experience, and I am glad that I read it.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Voices by F. R. Tallis

Title: The Voices

Author: F. R. Tallis

Published: May 2014, Pan MacMillan

Pages: 400

Summary: Once you've heard them, you'll never forget them ...In the scorching summer of 1976 - the hottest since records began - Christopher Norton, his wife Laura and their young daughter Faye settle into their new home in north London. The faded glory of the Victorian house is the perfect place for Norton, a composer of film soundtracks, to build a recording studio of his own. But soon in the long, oppressively hot nights, Laura begins to hear something through the crackle of the baby monitor. First, a knocking sound. Then come the voices ...  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: As much as I love the horror genre, I haven't really read many horror novels so I am working on remedying that.  I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from The Voices, but from its description it sounded like it could be a good scary novel.

The Voices starts off feeling kind of cliche and there are a couple of the typical tropes that I am sick of encountering so I felt like that was a bit annoying to be honest.   I felt like the author was trying to put personality into some of the characters by introducing their interests but I felt like the ideas were half formed and so one character in particular was sneaking off and I felt like what that character was doing was half established.

While I was recommended this book as a creepy read, I have to say that so little happened to the point where I felt like the creepy element just wasn't creepy.  It was just there and it felt like it was just another part of Christopher's life and that there was nothing sinister about it.

The ending was quite good.  I found that it was interesting and it was a little creepy.  It also gave some closure but also left the reader guessing a little, which I quite enjoyed.  I have to say though, I felt like very little happened up until about the last 70 or so pages and so I had absolutely no idea how the book was going to end.

Overall, I thought that The Voices was an interesting book, but at the same time, I also felt like hardly anything happened.  I didn't really find it spooky at all so I think I was a little disappointed.  I think that if the book had more of the creepy things happening and less about the characters lives outside of the main story, I would have enjoyed it a bit more.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Title: The Silkworm

Author: Robert Galbraith

Published: Sphere, 2014

Pages: 456

Series: Book 2, Cormoran Strike

Summary: May contain spoilers!  When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives - so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.
And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before . . .  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: The Cuckoo's Calling was the first book I read this year and is definitely one of my favourites so I was definitely keen to pick up the second book, The Silkworm.

Like the first book, I felt like The Silkworm was a slow burning mystery and that was fine with me because it meant that I could just take my time with it and really enjoy the book.  I also felt like I could examine a bunch of the clues and try and solve the mystery of whodunnit.

Alas, as with the first book, I feel like Galbraith throws in so many red herrings that I did not guess who the murderer was.  I had come up with my own theory about the who and why but it wasn't to be.  I was actually a bit surprised at who it was as it had slipped under my radar.

The Silkworm is more of a book where things are alluded to but never revealed until the very end, so you have to keep a close eye on everything and do some thinking outside the box to try and guess at what is happening.  I really enjoy that aspect.

I feel as though The Silkworm was really enjoyable but because I loved the Cuckoo's Calling so much, I think I had too high expectations of this one.  So while I really enjoyed this one, I think I liked The Cuckoo's Calling a little more.  It will be interesting to see what the third book, Career of Evil will be like.