Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Book Review- Under A Pole Star

Title: Under A Pole Star
Author: Stef Penney
Published: November 3rd 2016
Pages: 608
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Rating: 3/5

Flora Mackie was twelve when she first crossed the Arctic Circle on her father's whaling ship. Now she is returning to the frozen seas as the head of her own exploration expedition. Jakob de Beyn was raised in Manhattan, but his yearning for new horizons leads him to the Arctic as part of a rival expedition. When he and Flora meet, all thoughts of science and exploration give way before a sudden, all-consuming love.
The affair survives the growing tensions between the two groups, but then, after one more glorious summer on the Greenland coast, Jakob joins his leader on an extended trip into the interior, with devastating results.
The stark beauty of the Arctic ocean, where pack ice can crush a ship like an eggshell, and the empty sweep of the tundra, alternately a snow-muffled wasteland and an unexpectedly gentle meadow, are vividly evoked. Against this backdrop Penney weaves an irresistible love story, a compelling look at the dark side of the golden age of exploration, and a mystery that Flora, returning one last time to the North Pole as an old woman, will finally lay to rest. -Goodreads
A short version of this review was completed for the LoveReading Reader Review Panel. My thanks to them for the copy of the novel. 

This is the story of Flora, she was a Scottish scientist and explorer. She spent a large part of her childhood in the Arctic onboard her father's whaling boat, and as such she had developed a love of the Arctic and the native people that lived there. We follow Flora as she returned to the Arctic as an adult, and met the romantic interest in the novel; Jakob.
I gave this novel 3 stars, I thought it was ok. There were aspects of the novel I enjoyed, the author's descriptions of the Arctic were particularly impressive in this novel. Penney's use of emotive language very successfully conveyed the beauty of the landscape she was describing, but also the inherent danger of the place. There were whole passages that painted detailed pictures of the sun rising or the starry night sky.
I also really enjoyed the exploration aspect of this novel, I was intrigued by the idea of a female explorer at that time, and the struggles she would inevitably face. I also enjoyed learning how an expedition would be carried out in the late 19th century, just how much planning was involved etc. Many of the struggles Flora faced were tied up in her femininity, she faced a lot of prejudice as she tried to plan and lead her own expedition in a world filled with misogyny, and I enjoyed how the author described these, and how Flora battled past them all.
However, this novel is 600+ pages long, and it did not contain enough action or gripping enough characters to keep me intrigued throughout, and I found I had very little desire to pick the book up. 
I thought the characters had lots of promise, but unfortunately the author failed to shape them into fully developed characters, or in Flora's case she made her so cold and aloof that it was impossible to get to know her, and thus to care about her at all. Jakob and the whole cast of minor characters were so poorly developed that I wasn't invested in any of them, and at times I actually struggled to tell them apart. 
A large portion of the beginning of the novel was taken up with explaining Flora and Jakob's childhood and university experiences respectively. It added very little to the story, didn't really develop the underdeveloped characters, and was a serious struggle to wade through. I believe that this novel could have been improved by a bit of culling, removal of extra scenes that added very little to the story but took up far too much time to get through. This would have made the novel quicker to read, which may have allowed me to get more involved with the characters, and so enjoy the novel more.
The latter half of the novel is mostly about the romantic relationship between Flora and Jakob. There are quite a lot of graphic sex scenes in this novel, so if that is something that bothers you then I would be cautious about reading this novel. This didn't bother me, but due to the high number of sex scenes there was little else written about their relationship other than this. We weren't given an insight into their relationship in any way other than physically, which I find disappointing, as a relationship is built on a multitude of things, and for it to be believable to the reader it must have this evidence behind it.
Overall, this novel contains many beautiful descriptions of the Arctic, and is an ok story of the first explorers of the Arctic, but is sadly let down by poorly developed characters and limp and lifeless romance.

Thanks for reading!

Twitter | Goodreads


Thursday, 3 November 2016

Quick Book Review- Rivers of London

Title: Rivers of London
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Published: January 10th 2011
Pages: 392
Series: Peter Grant/ Rivers of London
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5

My name is Peter Grant. Until January I was just another probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth. My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit - We do paperwork so real coppers don't have to - and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from a man who was dead, but disturbingly voluble, and that brought me to the attention of Chief Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. And that, as they say, is where the story begins.
Now I'm a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated. I'm dealing with nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden - and that's just routine. There's something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious, vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair.
The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it's falling to me to bring order out of chaos - or die trying. Which, I don't mind telling you, would involve a hell of a lot of paperwork. -Goodreads

This is just going to be a very quick review of this novel, I read it about a month ago, so I don't remember too much about it!!
One thing I do remember however is how much I enjoyed this novel, it was entertaining and very funny, there were some laugh out loud moments!
One of the quotes on the cover likened this novel to Harry Potter, and although I'm normally sceptical of these kind of comparisons, I have to admit that this quote is bang on. The narrator and main character reads like a slightly more grown up Harry. He's as sarcastic and grounded as Harry, and the novel features magic which is a happy coincidence!!
Quite a few reviews on Goodreads said that this novel has been written for TV, and I can see where these reviewers are coming from, it has the perfect mix of British crime drama with comedy, and a bit of magic mixed in! However I disagree that this novel has been written solely for tv, I think it stands securely as a novel in its own right. I do however, wholeheartedly support any petition/push to get this novel made into a tv series!!
I don't know London very well, so location wise I wasn't always sure where the characters were, but I enjoyed the London setting, and I particularly enjoyed the British/London slang that the author had included. I will admit that I didn't get all of it, I guessed some, but it added to the setting of the novel, and to the appeal of the characters!
I also appreciated the diverse range of characters in this novel, depicting the diverse nature of Britain through the ages very well, and with some particularly strong women which I always appreciate!!
Overall I really enjoyed this novel, it was very funny, with the right amount of wit and sarcasm for me! I definitely recommend this novel, and I'm looking forward to picking up the next book soon!!!

Thanks for reading!

Twitter | Goodreads

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts #5

This is a weekly blog meme hosted by Bookishly Boisterous (link here) where you can write about anything that's happening in your life, book related or not!

~
1. Apologies for the lack of posts over the last month or so, I started third year of uni on the 12th of September, and I was so not ready for just how much work I would have to do! I had heard from previous third years and they warned about the work load, but until you're actually living it you have no idea just how busy you're going to be. I only have 3 modules this semester, I'm doing an English and Psychology degree but I'm not taking any English at the moment. These 3 modules are ample for me to be getting on with though, I'm spending many evenings after classes doing extra reading and making notes, not to mention all the prep work for the next day's classes. This isn't a complaint as such, I knew what I was signing up for when I applied for the degree almost 3 years ago!

2. Other than being swamped by work everyday, my flatmate and I have settled really well into our new flat. Its a little further out from the university and from the centre of town, but still only a 15 minute walk from these places, so we still feel very central. The flat is bigger than our old one, for basically the same amount of money, and we have a shared garden which I absolutely love. We have also met a number of our neighbours in the block, all of whom are lovely and friendly, which makes a change from our last place too!

3. I haven't read a great deal since coming back to uni, I spend a great deal of time in front of a computer, or with my nose in a textbook or a journal article, so in my downtime I'm not so eager to read more (normally I sleep!!). I have read a few however, and I have a couple of reviews stored up, so hopefully the blog won't be completely dead! This lack of reading coupled with staying in a flat a little out of the centre of town means I also haven't purchased any books since coming back to uni either, so that's a silver lining to the cloud!!

4. I went to my grandparents for the day on Saturday (they live in the same town I go to uni in) and we went for a lovely meal in the evening. It was really lovely to spend time with them, I get to see them much more when I'm down through term time, and as they're getting older I appreciate them and their company more. I also purchased a new pair of fuzzy Christmas pyjamas over the weekend, they have a penguin on the front (if you weren't aware I have a bit of a pyjama buying obsession, especially fuzzy ones in the winter!!) and lovely red checked bottoms. They just look and feel so cozy and I can't wait to start wearing them as soon as possible!

5. This weeks tv/movies watched: 
  • Westworld- Season 1. This is a new HBO show I think (?) which is being shown on Sky Atlantic in the UK. I had no idea what this show was about but I had seen a lot of conversation about it on twitter so I was intrigued. There's only 1 episode currently available in the UK, but I think I'll watch the next episode to get a better idea of whether to continue or not. It is an intriguing idea for a tv show, and its based on a movie according to my dad. I shall see how I feel after the second episode, I'm not hating it, but I'm not overly into it either!
  • Parks and Rec- Season 4. All of Parks and Recreation came back to Amazon Prime UK recently, so I began from the last episode I watched which was the season 3 finale. I love this show so much, its light-hearted and so funny! I also appreciate that the episodes are short, I can watch one while I'm eating my lunch and not feel guilty about it!! Ben is my absolute favourite character in the show, and him and Leslie are just adorable together!
  • Mockingjay Part 2- I watched this on Netflix over the weekend, and I thought it was a pretty good movie. It was very action packed and fast moving, and all in all was a pretty good way to end the film franchise.
Thanks for reading guys!

Twitter | Goodreads


Monday, 10 October 2016

It's Monday What Are You Reading?


This meme is hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date.

~~~

What I Read Last Week:

Nothing I'm afraid guys!! Third year is busy!!




What I Am Currently Reading:













Up Next:













Happy Reading Guys!!

Twitter | Goodreads

Monday, 26 September 2016

The Sway- Book Review

Title: The Sway
Author: Ruby Knight
Published: May 17th 2016
Pages: 230
Series: Classified #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: 3/5

Her mission is to get close to him for inside information.
His mission is to kidnap her for a supernatural militant group.
Recruited in her teens for a life of espionage, Julia Caldwell, now 19, is the youngest CIA agent on record. Her mission is simple: get close to Cole Thomas for intel on his father, a known and dangerous weapons dealer. As she grows closer to Cole, something is off. He might not be who she thinks he is. And worse, his mission will put an end to hers.
Always believing the government’s story that her purpose in life was to keep the world safe, Julia doesn’t know who to trust or who to believe. But now, THE SWAY has a different story—a different purpose for her—that goes well beyond all she ever imagined. -Goodreads
I received a copy of this novel from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

I think the best way to describe this novel is disappointing. The plot description in the blurb made it sound really intriguing,  a spy novel is always a positive in my mind, but unfortunately the novel didn't live up to its promising blurb.
The writing style of this novel was difficult to read: at times it wasn't clear exactly what was going on or which character was carrying out the action. Sometimes it read like the author had missed out passages of the text and that these missing lines would've made the whole novel read better. 
The main character in this novel, Julia really irritated me. She started out really well, she seemed mature and kick ass and in control in the beginning of the novel. I was excited to read more about this character, and I was hopeful that she would be one of my favourite characters of the year. Unfortunately these positive characteristics seemed to disappear when she met Cole (our insta-love, good looking side character), she became a giggling teenage girl who was prone to swooning and having to be carried around in Cole's arms!! Something in the plot about her getting her emotions back (??) turned her into some sort of emotional dramatic crying mess who really irritated me!
Another thing that really annoyed me about this novel was the relationship between Julia and Cole, there was so much insta-love (or more like insta-lust in this case!) and very little actual information and descriptions to base their "love" for each other on. There was very little evidence in the novel of these feelings for each other, and this really irritates me! They spent most of the novel making eyes at each other and blushing, which got on my nerves really early in the novel. I also thought the novel took place over a very short period of time (maybe this was only me!), which makes their relationship even less realistic and even more like insta-love!
I really enjoyed the beginning of this novel, that's actually what rescues it from an even lower rating. The partnership between Julia and Mickey was real and based on their time spent together, and I wish the whole novel had been about them as partners. Knight's writing in the beginning is very good, her development of the story and her character building is very impressive, somehow she is unable to continue this very far through the book.
Some of the speech was very clunky to read, it was stilted and didn't read how teenagers would talk to each other of how World Leaders would address each other either!!
This novel is quite short, its only 230 pages, and I believe it could have been greatly improved by being lengthened. Further explanations of "The Sway", the different "superhero powers", the falling in love and finding your soulmate thing, and a number of other things. This demonstrates just how many questions I had at the end of the book, and I realise that there are other books coming in which some of these questions will be answered, but I really had more questions than I had answers. I wasn't even sure what the big "world destroying event" was, and it was the driving force behind most of the action in this novel. 
Overall this novel was ok, it had an interesting, fast paced plot, but it was sadly let down by poor writing and really irritating characters. 

Happy reading!!

Twitter | Goodreads


Thursday, 1 September 2016

Book Review- Allegiant

Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: October 2013
Pages: 526
Series: Divergent #3
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian

Rating: 3/5

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered - fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she's known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.
But Tris's new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend to complexities of human nature - and of herself - while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love. -Goodreads
This is a review of the third book in the Divergent series, for my review of the second book in the series, Insurgent click here. There are some spoilers in this review, just a warning!!

I gave this novel 3/5 stars, I thought it was an ok novel, but if this hadn't been the final book I probably wouldn't have bothered to continue the series. 
In this novel we continue following Tris' search for the truth about the world she lives in, and exactly what the factions she grew up in were for. 
This novel is written in two points of view, we continue hearing Tris' voice, but we are also introduced to Tobias' voice too. I was very excited to get this insight, as he was one of my favourite characters in the previous novel, and I couldn't wait to hear more of his thoughts. Unfortunately, Tobias' voice sounded almost exactly identical to Tris' and I spent the beginning of too many chapters trying to figure out exactly whose POV I was reading. This was disappointing, Roth had made Tobias into quite a well developed character through the novel so I was expecting her to be able to carry this over to his narrative voice too.
This novel is very long, it's 500 plus pages, and it really doesn't need to be in my opinion! I feel that this novel could have been condensed into about half the pages, while still keeping all the relevant info in it. This meant that the storyline really felt like it was dragging the whole way through! There also isn't a great deal of action in this novel, for the final novel in the trilogy, I wanted an action packed and thrilling end, instead I felt this novel was a bit of a damp squib! 
I also have a problem with the science in this novel. I'm no scientist, I'm doing an English Lit and Psychology degree, but I feel like I have some grasp of Biology, and I'm sure that isn't how genetics works! If you were able to manipulate people's genes in the first place, and ended up making them worse, why not just manipulate them back? Just undo any changes you made? Also wouldn't the faction system make it harder to get "genetically fixed" offspring, because if the members of the factions have faulty genes, and they are having children with people with the same faults, their offspring will surely have the same genetic flaw as genes are hereditary? 
I mentioned in my review of the last book that I had a lot of unanswered questions, and sadly quite a few of these questions weren't answered in this novel either. I still know nothing about the rest of America or the rest of the world, call me self-centered, but I would have liked to know what the situation was with the UK! Also certain characters' actions were never explained; what was the point of David, or the full story with Tris' mum. Some of the questions which were answered had such ridiculous answers that I rather wish that they hadn't been answered at all. Genetic manipulations!!?! I mean, come on!!!!
I also need to draw attention to the ending of this novel. I know from reading reviews that everyone has a different opinion of the ending of this novel, but personally I thought it was very disappointing! It felt like a cheat from the author, in fact the whole resolution to the faction system felt like a cheat (it felt like the whole "and it was all a dream" cliche). Roth had spent over 1000 pages creating a complex world with complex developed characters, and she wasted them with a rubbish and limp ending.
Overall I am really disappointed with this series. I will watch the rest of the movies (no idea how many more there are!) because I am interested to see how they do it, but I'm in no hurry to pick up any more of Roth's books, and I think I'll give YA dystopian novels a break for a while!

Happy Reading!

Twitter | Goodreads

Friday, 26 August 2016

Bout of Books Update #4

Currently Reading: 

The Sway- Ruby Knight
Lieutenant Hornblower- CS Forester

Books Completed:

The Monsters Inside- Stephen Cole
This Is Van Gogh- George Roddam

Pages Read Today: 138

Total Pages Read: 464

Thoughts:

I'm pleased to have managed to finish another book this week, hopefully I can keep it up over the weekend!!

Happy Reading!!

Twitter | Goodreads

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Bout of Books Update #3

Currently Reading: 

The Sway- Ruby Knight
Lieutenant Hornblower- C.S Forester

Books Completed: 

The Monsters Inside- Stephen Cole

Pages Read Today: 73

Total Pages Read: 326

Thoughts:

I'm a bit disappointed by this total today, I had a 7 hour shift at work which left me with very little time to read. Hopefully Thursday will be more productive!

Happy Reading!!

Twitter | Goodreads

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Bout of Books Update #2


Currently Reading:

The Sway- Ruby Knight
Lieutenant Hornblower- C.S Forester

Books Completed:

The Monsters Inside- Stephen Cole

Pages Read Today: 111
Total Pages Read: 253

Thoughts: 
I'm really pleased to have finished my first book this early in the week. Fingers crossed I can get some good reading done on Wednesday!

Happy reading!!

Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Bout of Books Update #1


Currently Reading:

The Monsters Inside- Stephen Cole

Books Completed:

0

Pages Read Today: 142
Total Pages Read: 142

Thoughts:
I'm a bit disappointed with only reading 142 pages, but I was busy all day, even though I wasn't working! Hopefully Tuesday will be more productive as I'm not working again!!

Happy reading!!

Twitter | Goodreads