Mini Series Review: All Souls Trilogy – Deborah Harkness

 

Synopses:

A Discovery Of Witches: Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. 

Shadow Of Night: Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realize that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.

The Book Of Life: After travelling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.


So I need to get back into the swing of things, and I thought that starting with a mini review would be best for that particular purpose – especially given that my thoughts on this series can be summarised quite easily. As this is my first mini review, I thought I’d try the: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE VERDICT format – and see how that is received and if it actually works for both you and me. 

THE GOOD:

  • The story wasn’t quite your typical romance, it actually felt informative in terms of its content – I found the prominent historical aspects really enjoyable to read.
  • Book 1 and 3 moved at a comfortable pace, I felt like the storyline flowed nicely.
  • The characters were, for the most part, padded out – although I have to say that neither Diana nor Matthew were my favourites of the lot – I just found the rest so much more compelling.
  • scienceLike okay, if I looked more deeply into things, I’d probably find some problems with some of the concepts, but I think all in all these books were rather well researched.

    THE BAD:

  • THE SECOND BOOK….. Literally all my problems with this series lie within the second book. It was slow, there were too many bloody characters, it spent too much time in places which didn’t deserve it and just overall irked me.
  • (THE NOT SO BAD BUT STILL ANNOYING) Diana got on my nerves at some points, but then really – most of that occurred yet again during the second novel. Middle book syndrome anyone??

    THE VERDICT:

    Overall, I’d definitely say that this series is worth a read, books 1 and 3 make a compelling argument to oppose the crimes committed by the middle novel, so as long as you can actually get through Shadow Of Night – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars 

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Book Review: Imperfect Love -Isabella White

Synopsis:imperfect-love-cover

At 24 years old, Holly Scallanger has the perfect life. Everything a girl could want; a beautiful man, a stunning home, as well as being in the midst of preparing for the wedding of her dreams. This all vanishes the night she catches her fiancé, Brandon Morgan, in bed with her worst nightmare, Donna Sinclair, just a week before Holly is set to walk down the aisle.

Attempting to recover from his betrayal, Holly swears off the affections of men in order to pick up the pieces of her crumbling life. Unfortunately, meeting Jake ‘Hooligan’ Peters is not part of her plan. The tall, dark-haired and handsome as hell med student, sweeps Holly away from the pain of her past and reveals to her the bright future that lays ahead. That is until she falls pregnant just as Jake begins his internship at P&E; his family’s hospital.

Will this love at first sight  lead her to the fairytale she has always craved? Or, will she fall victim to a betrayal of the heart yet again?


I received an e-copy of this book courtesy of Fire Quill Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The beginning of this book almost made me DNF, it dragged so so much due to Holly’s breakup and her inability to get over it, although I can’t really blame her for that – the circumstances in which that happened really weren’t great… but they did nothing to move the plot of the book along at a good enough speed for me to remain focused and willing to read.

I should have seen it coming, should have… It says right there in the synopsis – “love at first sight” – my number one foe. And okay, I didn’t actually mind how quickly their relationship came to be; that seemed quite realistic given Holly’s state and their general chemistry. What bugged me was the idea of how quickly it progressed until they were what seemed to be irrevocably in love with each other – that didn’t seem natural in the slightest.

I liked some of the supporting characters – Bernie being a particular favourite due to her sense of humour and supportive nature. That woman was an angel to Holly and honestly deserved the very best for that. However, some of the other characters didn’t sit right with me, Jake’s mum, Mara being the prime example. She was to put it gently – a bitch… And alright, I understand that as a mother her number one duty is to act in her child’s best interest – but when the child is in their mid/late 20s… you sort of expect them to be allowed to make their own decisions sans parental control. Yeah, no. Mara was overly protective which ended up being incredibly damaging at certain points of the story but I shall leave the details of those fiascos for you to discover.

One thing that I can really commend White for keeping is the plot. So many romance novels lose any ideations of plot and all things plot related when the MC falls in love. But this book managed to avoid that to a pleasant degree – there was still a story being told, even though it did involve a lot of romance.

However that being said, it did follow a lot of contemporary romance tropes and didn’t really offer much when it came to originality; but I guess that isn’t really a thing I can blame a book that follows its genre for doing so it may just be me seeking a romance that offers something new.

Another thing I (surprisingly) liked was the ending, it was emotional and despite myself I did end up attached to the characters enough to cry which is saying something seeing as it has become considerably harder for me to cry at works of fiction in recent days.

Overall, I’d definitely say that this was a decent book and I will be looking to read the sequel to see where the story progresses.

My Rating: 2.75/5 Stars

ARC Review: Defender – G.X. Todd

Synopsis:defender-cover

In a world where long drinks are in short supply, a stranger listens to the
voice in his head telling him to buy a lemonade from the girl sitting on a dusty road.

The moment locks them together.

Here and now it’s dangerous to listen to your inner voice. Those who do, keep it quiet.

These voices have purpose.

And when Pilgrim meets Lacey, there is a reason. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Defender pulls you on a wild ride to a place where the voices in your head will save or slaughter you.


I received a free eARC edition of this novel courtesy of Headline Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, the premise itself intrigued me but I was unsure of what to expect.

What I received was a poignant story, absorbing and with a definite kick of thrill throughout. I was shocked to find how bloody and gruesome some of the scenes within it got (with violent deaths ), slightly forgetting that  I had strayed away from my usual YA genres. But those scenes definitely worked within the idea of the novel. One would not expect the semi-post-apocalyptic (??) world to be full of sunshine and rainbows.

The writing had me turning pages like a madwoman, it was honestly probably the book’s greatest asset, especially when things started to fall apart slightly plot wise towards the middle of the book. I have to admit I did skim-read quite a few pages, and yet I didn’t feel like I was lost after returning to my normal reading manner. But that issue seemed to be resolved towards the end of the book, and  I can definitely say that I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning and the end of the novel.

 I liked the concept of the voice and grew rather fond of it as the story progressed and it turned out that it wasn’t a totally awful thing. However, I feel like this book had very little explanation as to how these voices came to be and even less on how the human race had lost the ability to think in the first place. But I guess there will be future books, and I hope that these questions will be addressed within those.

Lacey was a pleasant protagonist, albeit slightly naive at times – but that could be explained by the fact that she was so isolated from all the problems that she later encountered and so took a while to adjust to everything. The addition of Pilgrim to the story definitely helped to develop her character, and I loved the wit and jokes that they shared throughout.

The lack of romance didn’t stop me from shipping Pilgrim and Lacey (and  Lacey with Alex), although simultaneously I was really glad that there were no canon relationships because it meant that the plot had no reason to stray away into realms of silly romantic drama in the midst of the whole world wanting them dead.

There were definitely a few things I didn’t expect throughout. The cat is an incident that Todd will NOT  be forgiven for, not until my last dying breath. There was also a plot twist that I really didn’t see coming, which was commendable; it left my mind reeling a little.

I will definitely be looking to read the subsequent books when they release, and would definitely recommend this novel to fans of dystopian fiction which doesn’t even try to sugarcoat the morbid reality.

My Rating: 3.75 / 5 Stars

Book Review: Never Tear Us Apart – Monica Murphy

Synopsis: never tear us apart cover

Perfect for readers of Colleen Hoover, Jay Crownover, and K. A. Tucker, the first novel in this darkly sexy contemporary series from bestselling author Monica Murphy kicks off an emotionally powerful two-part tale of forbidden love.
 
A long time ago, when I was fifteen and a completely different person, I saved a girl’s life. I spent only a handful of hours with her, but somehow, we connected—and I’ve never been the same. No one understands what we went through. No one knows what it’s like to be us. We survived, yet I don’t feel like I’m really living—until now. Eight years later, I find her. I want to make her mine. I need to make her mine.  But she’ll hate me forever when she finds out who I really am.


I received a free copy of this book courtesy of  Headline Eternal via Bookbridr in exchange for an honest review.

This was definitely a slow burn romance. Or as slow burn as the circumstances allowed it considering the potent link between the two protagonists, their connection as well as palpable chemistry made this book a pleasant read.

The characters separately left me with some conflicted emotions.

Ethan whilst a surprisingly mature adolescent (man, I’m not 100% sure any guy my age (or at least that I know of) would act the way he did in that situation, which could render it slightly improbable in real circumstances to some readers; however I thought it was greatly commendable and I  am somewhat thankful for it too), turned out to be a bit of a chicken as an adult. I felt that he kept his identity secret for wayyyyyyy too long; if he hadn’t done so, I think that the book may have just flowed a little better and lost a bit of length, which it totally could have without detracting from the story itself. I felt like shaking them both by the shoulders at parts.

urge to kill rising.gif

However, generally, I have to say that Katie annoyed me much less.

More importantly though, this book dealt with incredibly difficult subject matter in a way that was tactful and not overly showy. I felt it was a good representation of what rape can do to a person, and what sort of effects it has on its victims years after it happened.

It also illustrated (and I’m going to sound like a mum saying this – which is great, considering the fact that I’m definitely much too young to be one) the dangers of today’s world, especially for children who have not been educated about them. I think that if Katie’s parents had at least warned her of the so-called “stranger danger” in a more, uh, explicit manner – she would have possibly not ended up in as much trouble as she did.

Structurally, I very much enjoyed the mixture of flashbacks and present. But in saying that, some chapters were shorter than my nonexistent…. I’m not going to finish that sentence, but you can probably tell where it was going; and I feel as though that unfortunately ruined it a little bit for me. Some of them were just not developed enough for me to completely grasp what was happening within them just to be launched straight into the present/past/completely different POV.

However, whilst the length of the chapters bothered me, I do have to say that Murphy did it much better than some of the previous titles that I had read earlier this year so it didn’t really take away that much from the overall reading experience, so kudos to her.

I do not think I will be returning to this book for a while at least, but not because I did not enjoy it as such, but because the format of it, as well as its contents are very much the type of book that gets slightly worse because you know exactly what is going to happen, the element of surprise you have the first time reading it is completely taken away and the experience just isn’t as good which may alter your opinion on the book. And I do not want that to happen with this particular title – so for now, it is going to rest safely on my shelves.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

“There are no take-backs in life”  

Katie

Book Review: The Letter – Kathryn Hughes

Synopsis:the letter cover

Every so often a love story comes along to remind us that sometimes, in our darkest hour, hope shines a candle to light our way. Discover the Number One bestseller that has captured thousands of hearts worldwide…

Tina Craig longs to escape her violent husband. She works all the hours God sends to save up enough money to leave him, also volunteering in a charity shop to avoid her unhappy home. Whilst going through the pockets of a second-hand suit, she comes across an old letter, the envelope firmly sealed and unfranked. Tina opens the letter and reads it – a decision that will alter the course of her life for ever…

Billy Stirling knows he has been a fool, but hopes he can put things right. On 4th September 1939 he sits down to write the letter he hopes will change his future. It does – in more ways than he can ever imagine…

The Letter tells the story of two women, born decades apart, whose paths are destined to cross and how one woman’s devastation leads to the other’s salvation.


I received a copy of this book  from Headline Review via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

This book, I don’t even know where to begin… it made me feel a lot… and by a lot I mean my book journal (yes, I have one of those – a beautiful Leuchtturm 1917 ExLibris Journal… and it’s my baby) references to “feels” the majority of the time (aren’t I eloquent)…

By page 11, I was gripped and slapped with the cold, hard reality of this book. Hughes wasn’t going to beat around the bush, she wasn’t going to sugarcoat things – instead we are thrown into a horrifying tale straight from the beginning. Those triggered by domestic abuse should probably stay away from the book because the topic does feature for quite a large part of the story…

I really liked how the two stories interlinked by the end of the book. I anticipated that they would, but it was done quite well. Only objection I would have to the way in which Hughes executed that part of the novel, was that it depended very much on accidental happenings, and I was struggling to see all of it realistically occurring… Nevertheless, that ignored, it was heartwarming to see everything come together in that way. Especially after the introduction of William’s character.Whilst it took his image a while to establish itself in my mind and at best he was only 2.5 dimensional, I was rooting for him more than I had ever done for a character in this particular genre. I really admired his resilience in the whole situation as I’m unsure whether I’d be able to demonstrate the same frame of mind – especially with so many setbacks.

I was also largely affected by Tina’s story… and I prayed to god that she would come out in one piece. And whilst initially that wasn’t distinctly so, I’m glad that Hughes brought out her sewing kit and stitched Tina back together.  I would have been very angry had it not been the case.

Hughes did something remarkable during her book… Whilst I cried because of a dog at one point of the story; it was largely expected as dogs always turn on the waterworks in novels and films for some reason – even more easily than humans do which could be slightly concerning if one dwells on the fact… But she also managed to make me pity a truly evil man, for a split-second… but I felt deeply sorry for what had happened to him a few moments prior – it was like a punch to the gut… which was a strange sensation to feel due to his vile nature. However, any positive feelings I may have had for his character had largely disappeared by the end of the book, even when he tried to redeem himself.

I would recommend this book to fans  of historical romances with a modern twist and wonderful parallels but would definitely give a heads-up to those triggered by miscarriages and abusive situations as I think it would be unfair not to give a warning when writing about this particular book which centered around both of these topics.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

“Everything belongs somewhere”

-Ava

Book Review: A Banquet of Consequences- Elizabeth George

Synopsis:a banquet of consequences cover

Inspector Lynley investigates the London end of an ever more darkly disturbing case, with Barbara Havers and Winston Nkata looking behind the peaceful façade of country life to discover a twisted world of desire and deceit.

The suicide of William Goldacre is devastating to those left behind. But what was the cause of his tragedy and how far might the consequences reach? Is there a link between the young man’s leap from a Dorset cliff and a horrific poisoning in Cambridge?

Following various career-threatening misdemeanours, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers is desperate to redeem herself. So when a past encounter with bestselling feminist writer Clare Abbott and her pushy personal assistant Caroline Goldacre gives her a connection to the Cambridge murder, Barbara begs DI Thomas Lynley to let her pursue the crime.

Full of shocks, intensity and suspense from first page to last, A Banquet of Consequences reveals both Lynley and Havers under pressure, and author Elizabeth George writing at the very height of her exceptional powers.


 I received a copy of this book  from Hodder & Stoughton via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

So this was actually the first book I read in the Inspector Lynley series (always a bright idea to start on the 19th book in a series- isn’t it?) and I have to say it was largely enjoyable, despite not being quite in my comfort zone when considering its genre. In saying that, I would say that the book could definitely be read as a stand-alone, although I will most probably be looking to read the previous ones in order to understand the background of the lead characters slightly better in the future (however distant it may be).

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by my liking of the book as I usually have a hard time reading not only adult fiction, but also any book with split POV. However, George executed this brilliantly and I can definitely say that it was a great decision on her part as it helped piece the story together (oh how happy I was when all the puzzle pieces eventually amalgamated to make the big picture) and allowed for the development of all the characters.

The characters were well-written and kept me interested through the 550 page long book, which in my eyes saved it; because I somehow managed to predict the ending, at least for the most part… which was slightly disappointing – but other than that the story of all the men and women was riveting – I felt somewhat sorry for India, and dismayed at the end of her story because I didn’t quite understand her last actions, but I guess they were extremely commendable (as much as they were stupid and crazy). I – as well as quite a few other readers from the opinions I’ve read – hated a certain character so much that I wanted them dead… which for a second time probably makes me an incredibly mean person, but the readers of this particular novel (as well as her others from the sounds of things) will probably completely agree with me, George simply has a way of creating such characters.

George handled quite a few controversial topics with ease, they created much needed plot-twists and turns which drove the plot at a comfortable pace, when I started reading the book without any others to distract me I managed to finish it within 4 days whilst others stared at me with disbelief as I tackled the monster of a book.

Overall, despite the overall predictability of the conclusion (which was probably down to my own style of reading and nothing else) I enjoyed the book, and would definitely recommend it to readers looking for a detail-ridden, mystery-driven novel full of superbly written characters (including a dog) and plot.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

“He wants your sympathy, and sometimes, India, people mistake sympathy for love.”

Nathaniel Thompson

 

ARC Review: The Library at Mount Char – Scott Hawkins

the library at mount char cover

Shortened Synopsis:

Carolyn’s not so different from the other human beings around her. She’s sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for.

After all, she was a normal American herself, once.

That was a long time ago, of course—before the time she calls “adoption day,” when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.

Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible.

In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn’t gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient Pelapi customs. They’ve studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power.

Sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.

Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library—and with it, power over all of creation … (continued on Goodreads)


I received an advance reader edition of this book from Crown Publishing via Blogging for Books (and NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

***SPOILER FREE***

First off, this book has by far been the most peculiar book I have had the chance to read. So much so that it actually came to the point where I chose to restart it at 40% because I literally had no idea what to do with all the information that was fired into my direction. However, I was happy to find that around midway through my second time reading the book, things started to come together.

Despite my confused state of mind, I finished the book in a day’s worth of reading which is really something when it comes to my reading habits, but I guess my attitude towards it was pretty much i have no idea what's going on but i'm excited

 Whilst I didn’t particularly feel any affection towards Carolyn, she grew on me like some type of fungi, especially during the last hundred pages or so of the book when I began to understand her whole motives when it came to what she was doing, because trust me, she was doing A LOT and at first glance none of it made any sense.

When it came to the other characters, I couldn’t actually bring myself to hate any of them. Even David, whose pink tutu just made up for his allegedly missing compassion and his willingness to murder and maim, or Father, whose character really deserved slightly more explanation than it actually got- although it may just be me and my need to know every single little detail about major characters in books I read because in the end, most if not all mysteries surrounding his persona were dispersed. I liked the other characters, with various degrees of attachment to each of them – Steve and Michael (and maybe the lions) being my particular favourites of the lot although I found every characters’ backstory riveting in their own ways.

This book is very much a spoiler minefield, the storyline drifted into so many directions anyone who says they could predict the ending even towards the end of the book, would be lying. There were far too many twists and turns throughout for that to be even partially true. Hence, I have found it harder than usual to review without stepping into dangerous territory – maybe because my brain decided to do this mind blown

somewhere in the process of reading it and has somehow not yet recovered enough to be able to form coherent, non-spoiling thoughts.

One thing I do know though, is that I actually loved the book in all its wonderful darkness and dry humour (which, living in Britain – I personally found quite amusing) and whilst I am aware that it may not be for everyone due to its sinister nature and some of the themes that it covers, I would definitely recommend for people to give it a go as it is a compelling read and presents our seemingly ordinary world in a way which hasn’t been done before.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

(although this may change as I believe I need slightly more time to process what my brain has been put through before deciding)

“It’s the idea that however deeply you understand the universe, however many mysteries you solve, there will always be another, deeper mystery behind it.”

Peter