Kid Got Shot – Book Review

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(image via pixabay.com)

Title: Kid Got Shot
Author: Simon Mason
Paperback: 392 pages
Published: October 2016 by David Flickling Books
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Summary (From Goodreads): Meet Garvie Smith. Reprobate, genius, waster, and sometime detective. Right in the middle of revision hell – until now. A boy from Marsh Academy has been shot, with no clear motive and no clues. Disgraced DI Singh is on the case, and he’s determined to keep Garvie away. But Garvie knows he’s the only one who has any idea where to look for the answers. Starting with his best friend’s girlfriend. And it’s going to take more than pointless revision or flunking his exams to stop him getting involved. Exams. What exams?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I do love a good mystery.

This one is fascinating, just like the last and it kept me guessing right up to the last second. There were three main suspects and I genuinely couldn’t make my mind up which one it was, until it was revealed. I actually discounted the murderer because I thought it was too obvious!

The main character, Garvie Smith, is one of my favourite characters in literature. The tagline for the book sums him up pretty well:

Garvie Smith

Like Sherlock – but lazier

If you want an idea of his character, think Kaz Brekker, but in our world and bored out of his mind with school.

His friends Felix and Smudge never fail to make me laugh. They’re like the three musketeers, just more modern, younger and with slightly more questionable methods. Felix is essentially a cat burglar (which I found hilarious, because Felix the cat) and his specialty is picking locks. Smudge is the stereotypical ‘dumb friend’ and his dubious specialty is reading people.

Our other main character is DI Singh, a Sikh police officer (and I will say it: this book has a lot of diversity and it is BRILLIANT) who was disgraced after the last case because Garvie interferes with everything. He’s uptight and follows the law to the letter. Turns out, he is also trained in (I think) martial arts and is brilliant in a fight. Like, he’s a total badass at the end of the book, but shh spoilers!

Garvie and Singh’s relationship developed in this book to almost friendly? Singh actually treated him like a partner in places (they did argue, we do still have that aspect) and they worked together to solve the mystery.

Another character that I always feel infinitely sorry for is Garvie’s mother. That poor woman. In this book, we had the obligatory scene where they have a heart-to-heart (and although expected, it still made me tear up a little bit). Afterwards, I thought that Garvie might actually go to his exams – spoiler alert, he did not, and I wanted to punch him multiple times.

This book also saw the introduction of more characters. Zuzana, for one. She’s Garvie’s mate’s girlfriend and she’s from Poland (again, diversity!). Also, she’s pretty smart. On a level with Garvie almost. I do have a bit of a problem in that she’s reduced to a love-interest-come-villain, but she’s fascinating enough.

Our victim is a school boy called Pyotor, who is also Polish. He falls on the autistic spectrum too, and most of what he faced from people is true in real life. I feel like this murder is more likely to have happened in real life than in the last book, but the circumstances are less realistic.

Khalid and Sajid are Asian, I believe, and it is kind of stereotypical that they run a corner shop, but I mean, it’s realistic that it gets broken into. Racism is tackled in this book, specifically the type of racism that happens in England. I’m not so sure about other countries, but people from elsewhere in Europe (Poland, mostly but there are plenty of others) face a lot of racism. This book calls people out on it and on the effects of it – it’s worth the read, seeing how people are attacked.

Again, I did love this book and it was well worth the read. I look forward to any more in this series!

Holly xx

Holiday Haul!

Basically, I have no self-control and a bunch of book shop gift vouchers left over from Christmas, so I came home with a much heavier case than when I went. Whilst I was away, I picked up quite a few books…

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I’m actually already part way through one of them, and so far I am really enjoying it. The others are by recommendation or because I loved the cover.

Here we go!

Plague by Michael Grant
Series: Gone series
Obtained: Bought from Oxfam (charity shop that specializes in books)
Genre: Sci-Fi dystopia
Right, so technically this one is cheating because I’ve already read it, but I’ve been looking for my own copy of this book for AGES. I read the series a couple of years ago by borrowing from the school library, but since then I’ve been collecting the set for myself by finding them in charity shops for £2 each. This holiday, I finally found Plague, my favourite book in the series, and the last one I need!!

Kid Got Shot by Simon Mason
Series: The Garvie Smith Mysteries
Obtained: Bought from Waterstones
Genre: Crime/Mystery
I loved Running Girl when I read it and so far I am loving the sequel. Garvie remains as sarcastic as ever and already I’m caught up in the twists and turns of the mystery.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Series: None
Obtained: Bought from Waterstones
Genre: Romance/Contemporary
I am so excited to read this one. Again, I’m a sucker for a good retelling and even if Cinderella isn’t one of my all time favourites, I still love reading something with a bit of magic. The fact that it’s nerd-based is just an added bonus.

The House of Mountfathom by Nigel McDowell
Series: None
Obtained: Bought from Waterstones
Genre: Fantasy
…so maybe I picked this one up because of the cover. It reminds me strangely of The Lie Tree (which I am yet to read) and The Grimm Legacy (which I love). Hopefully the story is as good as the cover!

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
Series: None
Obtained: Bought from an independent book store
Genre: Historical, WW1
My Lit teacher goes on about this book and how it links to the texts I’m studying, which got me curious. I’ll admit, this isn’t my usual choice, but I do enjoy a historical novel now and then.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
Series: None
Obtained: Bought from Waterstones
Genre: Contemporary
Again, wanted to read this one for a long time, it seems like a light-hearted enough book so I’m looking forward to it. I adore the fact that it has the sign language alphabet on the inside of the cover (and counting to ten in the back) and it looks like such a sweet read.

I reckon Kid Got Shot and Geekerella will be read quite quickly – the others, I’m not so sure about, but hopefully once my exams are over (under a month now! Eek!) I can power through them.

That’s all for now!

Holly xx

Hook – Book Review

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(image via http://www.pexels.com)

Title: Hook
Author: K.R. Thompson
eBook: 262 pages
Published: December 14th 2014 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary (Goodreads): Archie Jameson sat in the dark corners of the print shop, dreaming of adventure. Today, it found him.
Caught in a chilly October storm, he ducked into a tavern, hoping to escape the rain. What he found, was a room teeming with pirates.
Shanghaied by the most elderly of the lot, Archie found himself serving on a ship captained by the fiercest pirate ever to sail the seven seas— the man known as Blackbeard.

Through a series of thrilling twists, Archie finds himself captain of another of Blackbeard’s ships, the Jolig Roger. In an attempt to flee danger, his ship becomes lost under stars never before seen.
Determined to save both his crew and the woman he loves, Archie will make decisions that will forever seal his fate. Discover the untold story of the man who became Captain Hook.

This was such a good retelling. Peter Pan is one of my all-time favourite books, in case you hadn’t noticed, and Hook does a brilliant job of bringing one of the most notorious villains in literature to life.

The story behind why Hook is…Hook, is well plotted and the reader experiences first-hand how he descends into his villainous form, from proper gentleman to dastardly pirate.

One of my favourite things is reading the villain’s side of the story, and seeing why they think that they are right – this one did just that, and it actually had me sympathising for Archie right to the end. I would’ve killed Peter myself for what he did, if I’m being totally honest.

Aside from Archie, there are a whole host of other characters that bring the story to life.
– Blackbeard the pirate captain (who actually disappears half-way through the book, never to be seen again) is an inspiration for Hook, by being intelligent and able to outwit any adversary.

– Harper, oh my poor kid. He’s the youngest guy on the ship and he’s actually my favourite character. All he wants is to get home to his beloved Mary (whom he has tattooed on his forearm.)

– Smee is straight-up terrifying. He’s the surgeon/cook/whatever he needs to be and he has a real dark side. At one point he actually just turns around and stabs someone, whilst maintaining a grandfatherly figure.

– Tiger Lily is given a storyline, but a part of me is annoyed that she’s basically there to be a love interest. Not my favourite book, concerning her, although she is still shown to be able to stand on her own two feet and be a decent huntress.

– The pirates are actually defined as different characters, but I’ll get their names mixed up if I try to write them down. They make the book, if I’m being honest and all of them have their own roles within the ship.

– The Lost Boys only show up once or twice, and they have different names to those from the original book (Beetle, Patch and Runt). They are quite sweet though.

Peter is…childish. This book really captures what a child he is, but also the incredibly dark side to him. He would be a genuinely terrifying person to come across in a dark forest without a weapon, I can assure you.

The plot is somewhat simplistic, but that allows for real character development, which is so, so, so good to see.
Also, there is an interesting take on why Hook has different coloured blood, which is explained my better than any others in my opinion (even if it’s blue in this version, rather than yellow, which I think is the canon colour? To be honest, it doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s not red.)

I think I’ll give the rest of this series a try! The other two books are from the POV of a mermaid and one of the younger pirates, so those should be pretty interesting.

Anyone else read these? Anyone got a good Peter Pan retelling recommendation?

Holly xx

My Questionable Music Taste

So, I often have my phone on shuffle when I’m working, just for background noise and I don’t tend to click on anything in particular.
I was messing around this morning with making some playlists, and found my ‘Most Played’ list – that led to a bunch of other things, and the long and short of it is that I figured it’d be fun to explore my music taste with you guys!

(All songs are linked to YouTube music videos – as far as possible, I’ve tried to link to the artist’s own videos, but some of them don’t have videos for particular songs, so I’ve linked to a fan-made one)

Starting off:

Top 10 Most Played Songs on Holly’s Phone:
1) Angels Fall by Breaking Benjamin
2) Flares by The Script
3) Holding Out for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler
4) ABC Café/Red and Black by the Les Mis 2012 Film Cast
5) Lightning by The Wanted
6) Radioactive by Imagine Dragons
7) Top of the World by Greek Fire
8) The Diary of Jane by Breaking Benjamin
9) Someone You Love by Arshad
10) The Phoenix by Fall Out Boy

Most Played Artist
Breaking Benjamin

Most Played Album
Phobia by Breaking Benjamin

Top 10 Recently Played
1) If Only by Dove Cameron
2) Stars (I have no idea which version this is, but it’s from Les Mis)
3) Empty Chairs at Empty Tables by Rob Houchen
4) Wake Me Up Inside by Evanescence
5) Angels Fall by Breaking Benjamin
6) Agony by Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen
7) Demons by Imagine Dragons
8) I Will Follow You Into The Dark by George Blagden
9) Viva la Vida by Coldplay
10) Had Enough by Breaking Benjamin

Most Added Genres
Alternative /Indie
Pop
Rock
R&B/Soul

Personal Favourite Songs on Phone
1) How Far We’ve Come by Matchbox Twenty
2) Arrival at Aslan’s How by Harry Gregson-Williams
3) Unknown Soldier by Breaking Benjamin
4) Lost Boy by Ruth B
5) Waterloo by ABBA
6) Over and Done With (Sunshine on Leith film version)
7) My Immortal by Evanescence
8) The Untitled Waltz by David Arnold
9) Right Place Right Time by Olly Murs
10) Impossible Opening from “Finding Neverland” by Paul Bateman and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

That’s all I’ve got for this post, feel free to take it as a tag if you like!

Does anyone share a similar music taste to me?

Holly xx

Kill The Boy Band – Book Review

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Title: Kill The Boy Band
Author: Goldy Moldavsky
Paperback: 312 pages
Published: February 23rd 2016 by Point
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Summary (From Goodreads): Just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near them. That’s why we got a room in the hotel where they were staying.

We were not planning to kidnap one of them. Especially not the most useless one. But we had him—his room key, his cell phone, and his secrets.

We were not planning on what happened next.

We swear.

From thrilling new talent Goldy Moldavsky comes a pitch-black, hilarious take on fandom and the badass girls who have the power to make—or break—the people we call “celebrities”.

This book was a weird read for me. The plotline reads like a bad fanfiction, but the dark humour is its saving grace.

Let’s start with the negatives, for a change – as I’ve just stated, this reads like a bad fanfiction. You know the type; self-insert One Direction fics, where the Mary-Sueish OC somehow gets together with band-member-of-their-choice.

That literally happens in this book. I mean, seriously, the unnamed main character kisses her idol (although, she loses him and they never meet again). The plot is so unrealistic, it’s actually hilarious. Instead of finding this annoying, I found it more like a parody, which is new for me.

There are a couple of bigger issues I had with this book – namely sexual assault and fat shaming. Apple, one of the main character’s ‘friends’, winds up sitting on the lap of a band member that they have, tied up, with her shirt off, taking selfies and kissing him.

Um, no.

I get that fangirls can come across as crazy (come on, I’ve been there, just over fictional characters, not band members) but would they really go that far? In all fairness though, the protagonist does call her out on it.

The fat shaming is also iffy – Apple manages to knock a guy out by hugging him and apparently constantly posts about it on Twitter. It’s annoying.

Aside from that, I found the book to be one of those that’s so bad it’s good.

Let me give you the run-down: There is a boyband called The Ruperts. All of its members have the same first name. No prizes for guessing what it is.

There are four fangirls – Strepurs (Ruperts backwards) – that adore them. Our unnamed protagonist, her best mate Erin who is a Queen Bitch, Erin’s psychopathic best mate Izzy, and Apple.

The girls accidentally kidnap Rupert P, the one that nobody except Apple likes. He somehow dies (I won’t say who kills him – spoilers!) and they try to figure out who did it, as well as getting him out of their hotel room.

As I said, plotline is terrible, but if you have a sadistic streak, you might find this book is up your street. It definitely entertained me for a few hours.

Any thoughts?

Holly xx

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment – Book Review

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Title: Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment
Author: James Patterson
Paperback: 454 pages
Published: April 10th 2006 by Headline
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Summary (From Goodreads):
WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE
Do not put this book down. I’m dead serious – your life could depend on it. I’m risking everything by telling you – but you need to know.

STRAP YOURSELF IN for the thrill ride you’ll want to take again and again! From Death Valley, California, to the bowels of the New York City subway system, you’re about to take off on a heart-stopping adventure that will blow you away…

YOUR FAITHFUL COMPANIONS: Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman and Angel. Six kids who are pretty normal in most ways – except that they’re 98% human, 2% bird. They grew up in a lab, living like rats in cages, but now they’re free. Aside, of course, from the fact that they’re prime prey for Erasers – wicked wolf-like creatures with a taste for flying humans.

THE MISSIONS: Rescue Angel from malicious mutants. Infiltrate a secret facility to track down the flock’s missing parents. Scavenge for sustenance. Get revenge on an evil traitor. And save the world. If there’s time.

I enjoyed this book waaay more than I thought I would.

At first, I found the writing style difficult to read and thought it felt kind of childish. Each chapter is about 2 pages long and they ended on the most ridiculously small cliff-hangers, but I soon got used to it and started to ignore each new chapter heading. (There is one that is literally half a page though, which was a bit anticlimactic).

I also found the narrative voice was very masculine (and, I’m ashamed to admit, it took me until page 56 to realise that Max was female. I’m not sure how, considering how her actions towards Angel are pretty motherly.)
The book makes use of first and third person narratives – first person for Max and third person for anyone else. I liked this, because it saved me getting totally confused about who was talking.

Max, I found, was actually a pretty cool heroine. I was expecting her to be Mary-Sueish and annoying, but actually she’s more of a female Percy Jackson. The sarcasm that she has is limitless. I did feel a couple of times that she was too mature for a 14 year old, but considering how she was brought up, that actually fitted her character.

Fang, I also loved. He was kind of the stereotypical, brooding character, but he did actually have some depth to him besides standing around and glowering at everyone. Considering that this book was written in 2006, there’s plenty of sarcasm from him too. One part in particular made me snort out loud (for context, Fang has just been beaten up pretty bad, like knocked unconscious and broken bones.)

“Jeez, what happened to you?” Directed at Fang.

“Cut myself shaving,” Fang said.

Nudge annoyed me, gotta be honest. She feels like a stereotypical chatterbox and I just…nah, I’ll pass. She’s not detestable, just not my favourite character.

Iggy was brilliant – for those not in the know, he’s blind, so representation! He is so skilled as a person, and whilst there’s references to his blindness, it doesn’t seem to hinder him. Rather, his other senses are enhanced and he makes use of them to make up for it.

Gazzy…was an overexcited eight year old. Don’t get me wrong, he was a sweet kid and basically the personification of ‘annoying little brother’, which was plenty realistic, but not my cup of tea.

Angel, I don’t know what to think about. Clearly, she’s pretty intelligent for a 6 year old, but something just feels…off about her. I’m not sure why, considering she acts like virtually every other 6 year old that I know. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see when I’m reading the next book.

This book was enjoyable – not the best in terms of writing style, which I’ve taken a star off for, but it kept me turning the pages and it kept me entertained. I think I’d actually read this one again!

Has anyone got different thoughts on this book?

Holly xx

The Darkest Part of the Forest – Book Review

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Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Paperback: 324 pages
Published: February 5th 2015 by Indigo
My Rating: 2/5 stars

Summary (From Goodreads): Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the centre of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

My initial reaction to this book is that it is very simple.

The idea is good, and parts of it are interesting, but for me, this book is under-developed. This could be because I’ve literally just finished ACOMAF which is also about fae and is twice the size of this book, but I think the fault lies in the plot.

The book feels rushed, and I feel a little cheated. There are so many storylines that could have been explored further – Jack and his mother, Hazel’s other life, Ben’s music, the whole thing with Molly etc.
They were tied up badly, and the book felt…bland.

There were good parts, don’t get me wrong. Firstly, representation: Ben is gay and he also gets a happy ending, so I mean, that’s pretty good. I also loved the fact that Hazel becomes a knight, and gender roles become blurred into non-existence.

The Alderking was a pretty poor villain, as villains go. He didn’t seem to do much, aside from sit on his throne and rule. He was weak and didn’t feel like that much of a threat if I’m being honest.

Severin, whom I thought was going to be the novel’s main focus, ends up with maybe five scenes, I think? He faded into the background to make way for Hazel and Jack’s love story (which I found quite cute, actually) and just…he was there. He acted as he should and did everything that was expected of him, which made most of the plot predictable.

Hazel, as far as protagonists go, wasn’t insufferable. She’s not one of my all-time-favourites, but I do like her and find her compelling enough to read. Her thought processes were a little bizarre at times, but she was decent enough.

Jack was probably my favourite, because he is a real sweetheart. If Hazel wasn’t the knight, then he certainly would be.

Ben was also an interesting character, as he wants the same things as Hazel, but goes about the situations differently, which is what also caused some tension in the book.

To be honest, I actually quite liked all of the characters, alongside the first couple of chapters – after that, the plot just declines into a half-baked mess.

Some people love this book, but I think it just wasn’t for me. Thoughts?

Holly xx