‘After You’ Review

‘After You’ Review

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I can’t believe how long it’s taken to me to sit down and read this book! I absolutely bloody loved ‘Me Before You’ – it was so beautifully heartbreaking,u and the film adaptation was so brilliantly done. I bought this sequel after it came out, but it’s been sat on my bookshelf since. Then I saw another book was coming out, and decided it was finally time to throw myself back into Lou Clark’s world.

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I’d forgotten how much I loved Lou as a character – her dialogue was absolutely hilarious, and despite how upset she was after Will’s death, these funny passages really helped to lighten the overall feel of the narrative. I was honestly sat there in stitches when I was reading, it was so damn funny! Lou’s somewhat dysfunctional family were one of my favourite aspects to the novel, because of how lighthearted their dialogue was. Plus some of Lou’s inner dialogue and observations of the things happening around her really helped to add to the humour, and gave a much needed reprieve from some of the more emotional aspects to the narrative.

It’s been a while since I’ve read ‘Me Before You’, but the raw emotions that ran through this novel when Lou was feeling down or at her most hopeless was so beautifully done. You couldn’t help but sympathise with her, and want her to better herself. Not to mention the fact that this novel went in a completely different direction to where I thought it was going – I thought that after the ending of the previous book, we would find Lou living her awesome life. I was so sad for her when I read about what happened after Will’s death, that she let her grief get the better of her and land her right back to where she was in the beginning of the first novel. Jojo Moyes captured this grief wonderfully, as of course everyone processes stuff differently.

Her characterisation was so spot on! Moyes really has a knack for making her characters come to life on the page. Lily was such a vibrant, complicated character, and it was so easy to fall in love with her. You felt so in tune with Lou’s own impressions of the chaos that Lily intermittently brought into her life, and wanted her to escape from her demons to live a happy fulfilling life. Plus Sam was such an adorable character – Moyes perfectly confused us with his introduction, leading us to believe he was the “compulsive shagger” that Lou believed him to be, and I was genuinely shocked when Moyes revealed he wasn’t the character we thought he was. That was so well done! You really wanted to shake Lou at points, screaming “You’re allowed to be happy!” at the page. Lou in herself was such a loveable character that it almost felt like I was just reading this book straight after reading the first one. I just loved reading her story so much!

Moyes is such a brilliant writer – she effortlessly showed Lou’s character progression on the page, and the plot was absolutely perfect. You wanted to see Lou succeed, and it was such a heartfelt warming read! I definitely won’t be leaving it 4 years before I read the next novel! Moyes has a clear understanding of her characters and her story, and is definitely a worthwhile read. Plus I was so happy with the adaptation of the ‘Me Before You’ novel – I really hope this novel is followed up with an adaptation, too!

Overall I would give the novel a 5/5 because it would have you laughing one minute, and then feeling crying another. This was such a beautiful novel, and is well worth a read if you’ve read ‘Me Before You’!

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‘The Good Girls’ Review

‘The Good Girls’ Review

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I was so disapppointed with the ending to the previous book in this duology, ‘The Perfectionists’, that I kind of didn’t want to read this sequel for a bit. Though I remembered how much I’d enjoyed reading about the various characters, so decided to give it another go. Plus there’s nothing more irritating than a cliff hanger, especially when it seems a bit of a cop out as far as endings go.

Overall this was a good read, and I’m glad I picked it up again – I loved the mystery surrounding the girls and the various people on their film studies list who ended up dead, and the suspicion over who the killer might be. I did enjoy reading about all the individual characters’ lives, though this did feel a tad hollow compared to the first book in the duology. It was nice to see characters like Mackenzie coming out of her shell, though this whole novel did feel a bit like a tack on to the first book.

I didn’t see that plot twist coming at the end, either! I was left gaping at the page when Sara Shepard revealed who the murderer was, though the excuse that she used to make it plausible was a bit far fetched. Plus that mysterious ending left you wondering whether there might be more to follow from these characters, though I’m not sure how Shepard would do this.

It was a nice read, though the string of murders did seem a tad random. I can’t help but wonder whether I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have done if I hadn’t been left feeling so disappointed in the ending to the first book. I did like Shepard’s characters, and you couldn’t help but pity some of them because of their sad backgrounds – mainly Parker and Julie. I think that if Shepard had just made the first book longer, and included a condensed version of this second book in it, the whole story would have had more of an impact on the reader. I bloody loved the first one, and I think if Shepard had kept stringing us along for a slightly longer book, it would have been one stonker of a novel.

I’m going to give it a 3/5 because it was a nice easy read, but it could have been done so much better after how good the first book was. That was a pretty good ending to this second book, though!

‘Tower of Dawn’ Review

‘Tower of Dawn’ Review

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Normally I like to space out books I’m reading in a series, mostly to give my brain a break, and also so I can savour the world and story more. Though after that absolute stonker of an ending to ‘Empire of Storms’, I had to leap into this novel next.

We didn’t get any kind of answer to that cliffhanger from the last novel, but in a way this novel was a bit of a palate cleanser from the rest of the series. I really love Chaol’s character, and it was so awesome to see he had his own book! As much as I can sometimes find Aelin irritating, I do really love all of her other characters. I fell in love with Yrene almost as soon as she was introduced to us – she came across as such a strong bad ass character, and I loved it! You couldn’t help but love the romance between Yrene and Chaol, though it was a bit obvious that was going to happen. Plus you kept feeling sorry for Nesryn, as it felt a bit like Chaol had just been stringing her along until a better offer appeared. He was such an ignorant git about her worry for her family too, that you wanted to shake him and tell him to get a grip. Or at least to tell Nesryn where they stood rather than keep her locked in whatever their relationship to one another was.

The story was really intriguing – I loved the setting we found ourselves in, and the mystery of what happened to princess Tumelun. It did feel like S J Maas was setting up some of the Valg’s backstory which will turn out to be key in the next and final novel in the series, but the mystery was sometimes a bit frustrating. I never guessed that revelation of who had been possessed by the Valg, either! That was really beautifully done, and Maas kept you guessing right up until the last minute. I liked the setting of the ruk riders, and it was really nice for Nesryn to find her own happy ending. To be honest she did feel a bit of a random incarnation in the fourth book, almost like she was shoved in just to give Chaol a partner, so it was nice to see her find her own resolution.

Maas did a good job of keeping the mystery going right up until the last minute, while also painting a picture of what was happening to these characters. The pacing was really well done, and Maas set up the final novel in this series beautifully. I can’t wait to find out what happens in the end! As much as I’ve had my ups and downs with this series, I’m so excited to find out where Maas is going to take this. I loved Aelin/Celaena so much in the beginning, but I’ve come to love a vast majority of her characters a lot more.

It was so nice to see Chaol and Yrene end up in the good place they did at the end of the novel, and you really wanted Yrene to find out it was Aelin who helped her all those years ago. I haven’t read the prequel stories, but it was fairly obvious that was who Maas kept referencing. Overall I would give this novel a 4/5, because it was a good palate cleanser to lead us into the finale of the series. Here’s to hoping the final novel turns out to be a good one!

‘Empire of Storms’ Review

‘Empire of Storms’ Review

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This series and I have had our ups and downs, but I was really craving to be immersed back in Sarah J Maas’ world when I picked up this novel. And boy, I wasn’t disappointed! I really loved Celaena’s character when I first read ‘Throne of Glass‘, but then throughout some of the other books she came across as this really Mary Sue style character that was more annoying than anything – though because Maas gradually introduced chapters from other characters I stuck with the series. Plus Aelin did start to grow on me more in ‘Queen of Shadows‘ and more so again in ‘Empire of Storms’ – what had grated on me in the other books was the fact that she was such an arrogant character who seemed to do no wrong, and it was hard to like her at points. Aelin/Celaena redeemed herself in this latest installment, though.

One thing that really stands out for me in this series is the setting – I really love this supernatural/fantasy setting! You just get such a vivid feel for it; you can clearly picture all of it in your head. Maas always manages to surprise me with her pacing, too. Mass will introduce a plot point that you think is going to drag out over several books, but then she whacks another plot point out at you from the sidelines towards the end of the book to leave you gaping. She did it at the end of ‘Queen of Shadows’, by getting rid of the immediate threat of the King of Adarlan which had been built up over the four books – it was so unexpected! And then comes this real shocker of an ending… Wow. Just, wow. Plus the fact that the next book in the series follows Chaol rather than Aelin (which I’m making my way through at the moment) is helping to build up the tension. That ending made me fall in love with Aelin all over again, and I can’t wait to find out how this series ends!

Maas has this unfaltering ability to create such varied and interesting characters! I absolutely adore all of her characters. For a minute I thought I was going to fall out with this series when I was reading Manon’s story – I have such a soft spot for Manon and Abraxos – though Maas rescued it at the last minute. Manon has got everything I loved about Celaena before she turned annoying. I really loved reading about Elide and Lochan, too. My only criticism of this vast array of characters was it did feel a bit like absolutely everyone was pairing up. It just felt a tad unrealistic. Plus, as much as I love all of these characters, it could sometimes feel like there was a bit much going on, or that some characters weren’t getting as much exposure as they deserved. I still really like them all, though, and it was nice to see how all of their individual storylines progressed.

Plus that ending, man. Just wow. I didn’t see that coming, and was left gaping at the page because I was so stunned. I’m really curious to see where Maas is going to take the next section in the story… I am loving the next novel so far at the moment, but as far as I’m aware Aelin and all of those other characters don’t feature. Talk about a cliffhanger! Though I think it’ll build up the tension well for when Aelin does come back. It’ll be interesting to see if this latest development will break her spirit, or if I’ll see more of that original spark that I loved so much about her character.

Overall I would give it a 5/5, because the pacing was so well done, and I loved all the little snippets from all of the different characters, and just really loved it as a novel. I can’t wait to see what Maas has got next in store for Aelin and her friends!

‘IT’ Review

‘IT’ Review

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Well, it’s taken me just over two weeks, but I’ve FINALLY finished reading Stephen King‘s ‘IT’! I really wanted to try and read this before the adaptation came out in September, but that didn’t happen. One of my uni friends said he’d read it and found it really disappointing, but I was determined to read it anyway. Though it soon became apparent that it was another one of those ‘War and Peace’ books – where you’re better off just watching the film if you want to know what happens.

I really wanted to like ‘IT‘, but this novel was so long and arduous that I was more relieved that it was over once I’d finished it. One thing King was really good at was building the tension – dropping little hints along the way of stuff that was going to happen, filling you with doubt that the protagonists would manage to pull through and defeat IT. What I found really disorienting was the fact that I’d seen both adaptations before I read the book – and the book followed no chronological order. The narrative kept flipping between the characters as adults, and the characters as children, which meant that by the time King had built up the tension in one timeline, this was detracted by flipping to the other timeline. It was incredibly frustrating, as it meant the story was progressing a hell of a lot slower than it did on screen.

I particularly loved the 2017 film adaptation, so was surprised to see that we don’t see all of the children’s storylines first, and then go into the adult’s storylines. I can vaguely remember the adults being involved in the 90s tv mini series, but that jarred with the rest of the story because it felt so random and out of place. That’s partly why I enjoyed the more recent adaptation so much – it followed a lovely chronological pattern that made sense, and the writers adapted the story in a way that felt right. Though in hindsight it turns out that I’d only watched half of the tv miniseries adaptation – I had no idea until recently that you were meant to flip the DVD over to watch the second half. That second half was a lot closer to the book, so in terms of adaptation it was done really well, but the weak ending to the novel let it down more than anything.

I was kind of disappointed with this book. Just when you thought the story was actually beginning, King dragged out another lengthy passage about nothing that affected the overall story whatsoever, and you realised you were 900 pages in and nothing had really happened. This was incredibly slow compared to the film. Plus IT wasn’t as terrifying on the pages as IT was on the screen – all of King’s waffle really detracted from what he was trying to achieve with this novel. If he’d cut half of it, it could have been a really phenomenal novel.

So in short, just as I found when reading ‘War and Peace’ two years ago, I was better off just sticking to the film. Plus some of the plot points were just really random and made no impact on the overall story whatsoever… Like what was with that infamous child orgy scene? It made no sense, came out of nowhere, and just felt really shoehorned in. Plus King had built up this tension so well with Beverly’s adult partner Tom Rogan following her to Derry, and then that plot point never sees its conclusion! Stuff like that was scattered throughout the book and were really bloody frustrating. It was especially annoying that King wouldn’t stick to one timeline and then follow it up with another storyline, as the film and tv mini series do.

Overall, I’d give this a 2/5 – I really, really wanted to like it because I loved the 2017 film so much, but it was just too long, and there were far too many unnecessary details that could have been cut to make a much more succinct, brilliant novel. Oh well. I’ll just stick to the film next time I see a giant book sitting on the bookshelf.

‘Ruin and Rising’ Review

‘Ruin and Rising’ Review

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What a brilliant ending to a brilliant series! After having started this series back last January, I finally got around to finishing it. The previous novel, ‘Siege and Storm‘ left us wondering if Alina would be able to overthrow the Darkling once and for all. Leigh Bardugo started this section of Alina’s story in the perfect place, with Alina having to break free from the Apparat’s prison.

The plot was spot on – I was so happy to see Nikolai and his wonderful dialogue again, and left gaping at the page at plot twist after plot twist as Bardugo fleshed out Alina’s story to build towards that thunderous conclusion. After having left it a while before writing this review and having read the second and third novels back to back, they are starting to blend all into one in some respects.

I think Bardugo’s characters really shine throughout this story. I love Alina, and can really identify with her as a protagonist. I love how her and Mal are intertwined, and I really love how their romance wasn’t in your face all the time. It gave a more sweet aspect to their love story, because it wasn’t irritating that Bardugo was making the whole story about that. Plus I thought Bardugo was going to break my heart when it came to this at one point, and I was sobbing as I read the latter half of the book. Aargh, the feeeeels! I loved reading about Baghra, and all of the Grisha characters… Bardugo just makes them all so likeable and you want a happy ending for all of them!

God, that ending though… It was so heartbreaking, but I was happy that Bardugo included it. Not like Maggie Stiefvater’s incredibly disappointing conclusion to the Raven Boys with that massive cop out of “nope no one dies here!” That wonderful epilogue had such a sense of nostalgia to it, and was definitely the perfect way to end the series. You even couldn’t help feeling sorry for the Darkling and his need to not feel alone any more. It was so well done! I can’t wait to start Bardugo’s other series at some point, as I’ve also heard good things about that, too.

Overall, I would ‘Ruin and Rising’ a 4/5 because it was so damn good!

 

2017 Round Up

2017 Round Up

I can’t believe another year has come and gone! To tail off the year, I thought I’d do a little blog post about my five favourite books/series that I’ve read this year, and which book disappointed me the most.

It only feels like yesterday I was stood in the square with my friends, looking up at the fireworks and promising myself that this was the year I got published (HA!). Instead, I’ve moved from Pembrokeshire to Birmingham, then back to Pembrokeshire again before finally finding my current and awesome job in Brecon, and moving to my own flat in Talgarth. I’ve written a single novel for NaNoWriMo, as opposed to the two or three I thought I could get down on paper throughout the year. I managed to read 39 books, rather than the 59 I read last year, which was a little disappointing – though there were some months when I only read one or two books. A lot has happened this year, good and bad, but I reckon 2017 was a good year all in all.

So, which books and or series were my favourites this year? In no particular order:

Gilded Cage‘ and ‘Tarnished City‘: The Dark Gifts trilogy, Vic James

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I bloody loved this series. I liked the concept, and loved it even more when I started reading both books. I am thoroughly excited for the last book in the trilogy! I was pleasantly surprised with ‘Tarnished City’ – normally, sequels struggle to live up to the first book’s name. This series was phenomenal, and I’m sure that the third book is going to be equally explosive. Vic James never seems to do what you expect, and that makes her narrative shine all the more because of it.

The Diabolic‘ and ‘The Empress‘: The Diabolic triolgy, S J Kincaid

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I was blown away by both of these novels. I’d picked the first novel up and absolutely loved the world that S J Kincaid had created – it was so vivid, and her characters were so well written. Nemesis is by far one of my all time favourite protagonists. Plus you cannot imagine my excitement when I found out this is actually a trilogy! The third book is going to be beautifully vengeful, and I can’t wait to see Nemesis go all bad ass. Though I’ll have to wait a whole year or so for the last book to come out, I’m guessing!

Blind Tiger‘: Wild Cats series, Rachel Vincent

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This book really did wow me, because I hadn’t been too fussed on the first novel in the series when that came out. Vincent is one of my all time favourite authors though, so of course I was going to give it a go. I was blown away by how polished the prose was considering this is one of her self published novels, and how water right her plot was. It was just so well done, and I was so glad I gave this series another chance. I can’t wait for her next book in this series, ‘Wild Card’, to come out! Though I’ll probably wait until she sells some signed hard copies so I can add that to my collection.

It Only Happens In The Movies‘, Holly Bourne

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Bourne is one of my all time favourite authors that I discovered last year. The way she incorporates humour into all of her novels is brilliantly done, and makes sure she hits you right in the feels when the character/plot related stuff happens. This was a beautiful standalone novel that tackled tough subjects in regards to love and relationships. I found it so easy to identify with Audrey as a character, and her story really hit me in the feels as a former child of divorce. Plus her own personal experiences with love were so relatable, it was easy to fall in love with this book.

Throne of Glass‘ series, Sarah J Maas

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I discovered this series towards the end of last year, and read a majority of it this year. It’s had its ups and downs in my estimations, but the last two novels rescued it for me (‘Heir of Fire‘ and ‘Queen of Shadows‘) – I love Maas’ other series, and am determined to stick with Celaena even though she can irritate me sometimes because I love the rest of Maas’ characters. Plus I really want to see how this is all going to end, because I really didn’t see the ending of ‘Queen of Shadows’ coming! I’ve still got two books to go, but they’re next on my ‘to be read’ list.

To be honest there are loads of books and series that I could include here which were pretty awesome this year. These are the ones that most stick in my mind that I’ve read this year, though. Plus the Skulguggery Pleasant series making a comeback has to be given a shout out! Though I think the most disappointing book I’ve read this year has got to be Maggie Steifvater’s ‘All The Crooked Saints‘. Normally, her books are bloody brilliant – brilliant characters, brilliant plot… Her books really come alive in your mind. So when I found out about this novel, I forked out £40 for a specially doodled copy from America. You cannot imagine my disappointment when I read it, and found the nonsensical setting to be lacking her usual lustre, and her characters to be these horrible paper imitations of her usual standard. So disappointing!

Hopefully I can crack on with more writing next year, and actually write something BEFORE the next NaNoWriMo. Hopefully I can read a hell of a lot more books as well! Now that I’ve got all my books with me in my new flat, I’ve got no excuse (especially as I still don’t have internet yet there because of some fault on the line). So here’s to an awesome 2018!