Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead – Book Review

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Title: Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: October 3rd 2017 by Puffin
eBook: 423 pages
My Rating: 5/5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Loki the trickster god is free from his chains. Now he’s readying Naglfar, the Ship of the Dead, armed with a host of giants and zombies, to sail against the Norse gods and begin the final battle of Ragnarok. It’s up to Magnus Chase and his friends to stop Loki’s plans, but to do so they will have to sail across the oceans of Midgard, Jotunheim and Niflheim in a desperate race to reach Naglfar before it’s ready to sail on Midsummer’s Day.

Along the way, they will face angry sea gods, hostile giants, and an evil fire-breathing dragon who happens to be a former acquaintance. But Magnus’s biggest challenge will be facing his own inner demons. To defeat Loki, Magnus will need to use words, not force. This will require finding a magical elixir so deadly that it will either make Magnus Chase powerful enough to out-talk the silver-tongued Loki, or destroy Magnus utterly.

GUYS THIS WAS SO GOOD

Can it be said that I love Magnus Chase more than I love Percy Jackson?

…I think that maybe it can.

Something that I LOVE about this series is how all-inclusive it is. Representation of race, religion, disability, gender and sexuality. Yes please. There is a character in this series for everyone to relate to and it really warms my heart to see how far the author has come from the original Percy Jackson series that was white as snow and straight as a ruler.

A quick run through of the characters (because there are a lot of mains and I love them all):
– Magnus, my son. Okay, he’s actually the son of Frey, but y’know. Love him anyway. Sarcastic cinnamon roll.

– Samirah al Abbas. What a queen. Positive Muslim representation too, she is fasting for nearly the entirety of this book and still manages to hold her own in a fight.

– Alex Fierro: My other queen. I just…didn’t think it possible that I could love another character in this series more than Hearth, but apparently I was wrong. Alex is such an amazingly complex character and I really just need another book with him/her in it.

– Hearthstone: My favourite. Just. My favourite, since the beginning. He’s the most sweet-tempered character and I’m upset that he lost his scarf. Also lots of magic and sorcery from him because yes.

– Blitzen: Ah yes, Blitz. I felt like he didn’t get so much page-time in this book? (Same with Sam, actually) because we had more characters to explore. It would’ve been nice to have a bit more of him, but what we did have was good, so thumbs up.

– Mallory Keen: We literally had zero backstory on her for the first two books, so thanks for expanding on this. Her character finally feels somewhat fleshed out and I respect her more now that I know how she ended up at the Hotel.

– Halfborn: As above, we got more backstory. Although, I still feel like he could’ve been expanded slightly more. Who knows.

– Thomas Jefferson Junior: My, my. Again, I knew literally nothing about him. This book turned that around and I have a soft spot for this guy. He just…makes me smile.
Yeah, I like that this book kinda managed to reintroduce us to the last three characters, because for the first 2/3 of the series they all felt pretty flat.

My other favourite part is that Magnus isn’t the child of prophecy, or of the most famous god – he’s weak and appallingly bad in a fight (think Bilbo Baggins trying to brandish a sword at the end of An Unexpected Journey) but I love him. His talents lie in healing and caring for his friends and I honestly love that so much. I’m using the word love a lot, and I don’t use it very often to describe people.
Magnus’s snark is legendary and THE CHAPTER TITLES, PEOPLE. My favourite part of the book (well, almost) is reading them. Highlights include:

  • Percy Jackson Does His Level Best to Kill Me
  • Nothing Happens. It’s a Miracle.
  • We Devise a Fabulously Horrible Plan
  • We Devise a Horribly Fabulous Plan
  • I Become as Poetic as…Like, a Poetic Person
  • If You Understand What Happens in This Chapter, Please Tell Me, Because I Have No Clue
  • The Chase Space Becomes a Place

Okay so that last one is simply there because it rhymes. And also because I nearly cried at the last chapter.

I need more of this, okay? You cannot just leave a series like that, Mr Riordan. Just sayin.

If I’m actually being honest, the plot gets repetitive. It’s tried and true, and never fails to entertain me, BUT…I could do with something slightly different now.

This one is better for me than The Dark Prophecy, which I gotta admit started to bore me a bit. Much better than that.
Not quite on the same level as House of Hades though, because let’s be honest, that book is probably the best we’ve ever had.

Do you guys agree? Does anyone have a favourite Riordan book?

Holly xx

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Oy Yew – Book Review

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Title: Oy Yew
Author: Ana Salote
Paperback: 278 pages
Published: June 27th 2015 by Mother’s Milk Books
My Rating: 5/5 stars

‘Lay low and grow’ is the motto of the waifs of Duldred Hall. The only way to escape their life of drudgery is to reach the magical height of 5 thighs 10 oggits, yet Master Jeopardine is determined to feed them little and keep them small. When the Master’s methods grow more sinister the waifs must face their doubts. What is kept in the Bone Room? Why is Rook’s Parlour locked? A new waif arrives and the fight for survival begins. But this child brings another mystery. Who is Oy?

Never before have I read something so utterly original – and in a children’s book no less! I genuinely want to sit a bunch of kids down and read this tale of woe and adventure to them.
Yes it is that good.

Oy Yew takes place in a fictional land with plenty of nonsense words and fictional nations. The words feel Roald Dahl-esque, which the geography puts me in the mind of Six of Crows. In this world, waifs are pressed into slave labour until they reach the height of 5 thighs, 10 oggits and escape…

…or do they?

The waifs of Duldred Hall discover something much more sinister lurking within its walls. The story gets creepy sometimes, but never tips into horror (which is just as well, considering it’s a children’s book).
The plot is gentle but pulls you in irresistibly. The plot line of the waifs is interwoven with that of the villainous Master Jepoardine beautifully and I rooted for them all the way.

Oy is a magical protagonist.
So…unassuming, so quiet. Yet his little heart and instincts just grow throughout the novel as he blossoms. As a character, he doesn’t say much, but as they say, actions speak louder than words.

A particular favourite character of mine was Alas. His resilience and determination stuck out and flipped my initial perception of him. The sibling-like relationship between him and Oy was sweet – it finally felt like there was someone to look after the both of them. The relationship between Alas and Lucinda was sweet too, again more sibling-like than anything else which I just loved after reading so many young adult romance books.

There are multiple view points, and more than a couple of times I had to double check who was who; some of the waifs seemed to blend into one another. That being said, the ones that were developed were written perfectly. A few of the adults blended into one another too, but being me, I wasn’t so interested in them.

This book was just…yes. I will be reading the sequel. And I will be lending it to the children that live across from me because they need this book in their lives.

I would recommend this for anyone that enjoyed Rose by Holly Webb, Hetty Feather by Jacqueline Wilson or any Roald Dahl books as a child (Or if you have children! Or grandchildren!).

I will hopefully be back sooner that I left it this time but, alas, A levels…

Holly xx

Hamilton Book Tag

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WHAT TIME IS IT??

SHOWTIME!!

HA.
I LISTENED TO IT.

I’m so late to this fandom it’s unreal. I’ve had the album on Spotify for ages and forgot about it until this summer.

…I think I may like it more than Les Mis (and we all know how much I love Les Mis)

So, originally this tag was created by Maureen Keavy on YouTube. I actually found it done by Eve at Twist in the Taile and decided to join in on the fun.

Anyways. LET THE CURTAIN RISE!

*spoilers for Hamilton, The Maze Runner, Harry Potter, Take Back the Skies and Percy Jackson abound btw, read at your own risk*

The Room Where It Happens: Book World You Would Put Yourself In

…literally every single one.
I mean…
That’s so so difficult.
I’d have to go for Neverland.
Just because Peter Pan.
This book is my childhood (and probably my adulthood too, with the way I’m going) and I’ve spent so many years in Neverland, through reading every retelling I can get my hands on, that I’d be right at home.

The Schuyler Sisters: Underrated Female Character

I have to say, the first one that springs to mind is Wendy Darling. She’s not my favourite character by any means; but she looks after the Lost Boys, and her brothers, and puts up with Peter’s ego and Tink’s jealousy so I mean…yeah, she deserves this one.

My Shot: A Character That Goes After What They Want And Doesn’t Let Anything Stop Them

Oooooh…
Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy is actually the first person I think of at this point. For determination, she tops the scale. I don’t ever remember reading a book with such a headstrong character (in the best way possible!).

Stay Alive: A Character You Wish Was Still Alive *SPOILERS*

Aside from Phillip Hamilton??? *cries eternally* (Although to be fair, he’s not actually fictional, which makes it all even worse…)
Uhmm…
That’s actually really difficult, because I have SUCH a long list of dead favourite characters.
My mind automatically jumps to Newt from Maze Runner, because he was my favourite fictional character for a LONG time…
…but my mind is now screaming ‘Fred Weasley’ at me…
Fred it is.

Burn: The Most Heartbreaking End To A Relationship You’ve Ever Read *SPOILERS*

This one is actually from a slightly less well-known book called Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon. The couple was Cat and Fox and I cried so much honestly. I can’t spoil exactly how the relationship ends but…it ended with tears.
(Also Enjolras and Grantaire, but technically they weren’t ‘in’ a relationship so I mean…)

You’ll Be Back: Sassiest Villain

Can I say Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses? (I have read the rest of the trilogy, I know he’s not really a villain, but he kinda fits the criteria so…)
The other one that kind of fits, but again isn’t an actual villain is Gabriel Lightwood from The Infernal Devices – I can’t think of any *actual* villains at this very moment!

The Reynolds Pamphlet: A Book With A Twist That You Didn’t See Coming

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas. I remember a twist towards the end and it somehow gave me an actual jump-scare; I genuinely nearly screamed.
(How on earth I got a jump-scare whilst reading, I will never understand)

Non-stop: A Series You Marathoned

The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan – I got the books for Christmas and read one per day; I was actually going to re-read them in the run-up to Christmas last year and never got round to it…maybe I’ll do “The Twelve Days of Olympus” and read PJO, HoO and The Trials of Apollo…who knows?

Satisfied: Favorite Book With Multiple POVs

I don’t read all that many books with multiple POVs, but the Gone series by Michael Grant is one of my favourites because of the diversity of the cast.

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story: A Book/Series You Feel Like Will Be Remembered Throughout History

I mean, the obvious answer to this is Harry Potter, enough said. It’s like… the series to end all series. The fandom of fandoms.
You see my point.

BONUS QUESTIONS!!!

Helpless: A Relationship You Were Pulling For From The Very Start

Blitzstone. Calling it. If it doesn’t happen in the last book I’m going to be MEGA disappointed. (Magnus Chase series, by the way!)
Also! Elizabeth and Aaron from the Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman. It’s one of the only books I’ve ever re-read after being lent it by a friend and it’s like…a rainy afternoon book. I recommend it!!

Ten Duel Commandments: Favorite fight scene

Arghhhh I really have no idea I tend to like…skim fight scenes?
Wait no
Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian, like that entire fight at the end of the book (My specific favourite part, from memory, is where Nico shows up and drags his father with him)

Say No To This: Guilty Pleasure Read

Aside from reading and re-reading Peter Pan? Probably the few Jacqueline Wilson books that I still own, like Little Darlings and Midnight, they’re two of my favourite for nostalgia reasons.

What Comes Next: A series you wish had more books

WILDWORLD SERIES BY L.J. SMITH YES PLEASE
Two books is not enough my friends, it’s literally set up for a final one.
The second one was published in 1990.
You see my issue here.

Right Hand Man: Favorite BROTP

…I actually have to say Percy and Jason from HoO. (I didn’t like Jason at first? Why didn’t I like him? He’s so…genuine. Like, I love him. Obviously I love Percy too.)

What’d I Miss: A Book Or Series You Were Late To Reading

Where do I even start with this.
Well, actually, I tend to run into book series just before the last book is out, somehow I get quite lucky with that!
I’d probably have to go with Percy Jackson again, because I started reading the books right after House of Hades came out.

And that is the end of this tag! Not tagging anyone, but if you want to do it feel free – let me know if you do, I’d love to read everyone’s answers!!

I will see you soon, lovely people!

Holly xx

I Write Like…

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Hey hey guys!

Yes, I am still alive. Shocker, I know.

Since I last updated a month ago, I figured that I should make a fun post, rather than my normal book reviews. I was browsing Pinterest earlier and found this website earlier called I Write Like – it basically takes your writing, analyses it and tells you which famous author that your writing style is the most like.

I ran everything through a couple of times, just to make sure that it doesn’t randomize a different answer every time, and it looks like we’re safe!

Now, since I’ve been writing a few years *cough* procrastinating *cough*, I decided to put in some of my writing and see how my style has changed over the years (or not – we’ll see)

Style One: Holly’s Story, age 12

Starting us off, I used a few paragraphs from a story I finished at about the age of 12 (since then, I have never gone back to it…a part of me thinks it’d be better off left buried in my files)

(I’m not showing the actual text that I put in because it’s so shocking…but here’s the result!)

Stephen King

 

So, apparently my writing style at age 12 was that of Stephen King.

SWEET.

Confession: I am yet to read a book of his, but I know that he wrote Under the Dome, which sounds like my kinda thing – I will check it out at some point, promise!

Style Two: Holly’s Fanfiction, age 14

A dark time I’d rather not get into if I’m being honest. I copied and pasted a chapter of the first fic I ever wrote (Yes, it’s still up. No, I’m not telling you what it is.)

Agatha Christie

(Sorry for the bad quality of this one, I had to screenshot it because the code wasn’t working)

Agatha Christie? Yes please!

Confession #2: I actually only read my first Christie book this summer! Of course, it was Murder on the Orient Express and I LOVED it. I also read Lord Edgware Dies – and loved that one even more.

Style Three: Holly’s Fanfiction, age 16

Heh…so maybe I still write the odd piece of Les Mis fanfic…

Anne Rice

I can honestly say, the name Anne Rice is only tickling the back of my mind because I recently watched the trailer for Interview With The Vampire for media.
Although, I think that I will be putting it on my to-read list!

Style Four: Holly’s Literature Essay, Age 16

Hey, essays are very different to prose fiction. I’m curious to see which author I’m channeling when I write essays for class…

Vladimir Nabokov

…fair enough.
(He wrote Lolita. Which I totally knew without having to look at the author bio. Totally.)

Style Five: Holly’s Blog Post, Age 17

do write differently whilst blogging, I must admit. This is from one that I posted quite recently…

David Foster Wallace

…I have genuinely never heard of this guy. He wrote The Infinite Jest and The Pale King, which I have a vague recollection of hearing about.

Fun fact: The Pale King was unfinished in Wallace’s lifetime, so was published posthumously in 2011!

IN CONCLUSION

My writing style has changed significantly over the years, mostly to suit different needs and platforms. It’s interesting to note that I have literally read none of these authors, yet my writing style seems to be like them.

Maybe the authors that I do read take inspiration from them? Who knows.

This wasn’t going to be a tag, but if you want to do it, then go ahead!

See you later with another post!
Have a great summer!!

Holly xx

Murder Most Unladylike – Book Review

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

Title: Murder Most Unladylike
Author: Robin Stevens
Paperback: 316 pages
Published: 2014 by Corgi Books
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Summary (from back of book):When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up a secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls, they can’t find a truly exciting mystery to investigate. (Unless you count The Case of Lavinia’s Missing Tie. Which they don’t.)

Then Hazel discovers the body of the Science Mistress, Miss Bell – but when she and Daisy returns 5 minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls have to solve a murder and prove a murder happened in the first place.

But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

Reading this book made me realise just how much I miss Malory Towers. This book is reminiscent of Enid Blyton’s boarding school stories, blended with The Famous Five, which made up a significant part of my childhood library.

Mysteries are one of my favourite genres – I love them. Set in a boarding school full of Posh English Girls? Sign me up!

Unfortunately, we only actually got two girls who were somewhat developed as characters – Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells, the main characters are given plenty of screen time. Their peers? Not so much. That’s what was missing for me, the banter between all the girls and the arguments that usually ensue.

Hazel, as a protagonist, is a sympathetic character. I liked her, I could relate to her (and also, she’s a POC, which would’ve been pretty rare). She was bright, hated PE (same) and is a wonderfully loyal friend.

Daisy, however, I wanted to slap in the face with a copy of Les Miserables. She’s self-centred for the first half of the book, then is only slightly redeemed by remembering that Hazel actually exists. She’s so smart that she has no common sense and it’s infuriating to read.

If the other girls are under developed though, it’s because the thought went into the teachers, who are all given motives and backstories. There is one scene in particular at the end, where they are all around a table (with the girls peeping in) whilst an Inspector talks to them, that is highly charged with tension. In my opinion, it’s the best part of the book.

The mystery itself unfolds slowly over the course of the book, and the plot is quite basic. There are a couple of red herrings, but it’s honestly not that difficult to figure out once things get into the swing of it. That being said, the book is targeted at 8-12 year olds, so fair play.

It’s a relatively short book, I got through the majority of it in one day, so if you’re looking for a light-hearted mystery, then go ahead!

(Also, I loved that the Inspector’s name was Inspector Priestley. An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley, anyone?)

In all, the plot was simplistic, but engaging. As far as mysteries go, it wasn’t my favourite – that title still belongs to Enid Blyton’s Five Find Outers (and a dog) series.

I may read the rest of this series, but for the moment one is enough.

What’s your favourite mystery?

Holly xx

 

Peter Darling – Book Review

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

Title: Peter Darling
Author: Austin Chant
Ebook: 18 Chapters
Published: February 2017 by Less Than Three Press
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

This was an interesting book for me.

On one hand, I really enjoyed it.

On the other hand, I had a few issues with it.

Starting with positives:
– I finished it in one sitting, which I haven’t done in AGES. It takes quite the book to keep me hooked like that.
– REPRESENTATION
– Seriously, transgender Peter Pan
– Never thought I’d see the day…but this was awesome.
– Also gay representation too, the main love story is a same sex couple
– The humour was on point. I knew I loved the book when I read this sentence on the second page:

“Samuel was walking ahead, where Hook could admire his arse.”

The shock factor made me grin more than anything, in that case.

I did however have a few negatives…

I just didn’t like how the Lost Boys were portrayed. I understand that is all part of the plot, fair enough. I just…they are some of my favourite characters in literature and they were basically stripped of any individuality and character that they had (which isn’t much to start with).

There were some nice touches, and I did feel for Peter, especially when he went back to his parents (whom I have never wanted to slap so hard in any adaptation of this novel.) I also liked Ernest, although we never scratched the surface of his character either.

The plot felt very simplistic too…I mean, I was engaged, sure. But I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the story and the ending. It felt more like a fanfiction than a novel (which is something I get a lot with retellings of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland.) The story felt rushed, like action scene after action scene, with no time to get to know the characters.

One thing that I adore is the front cover (I’m sorry!!!). But seriously, look at this majesty:

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Ahem.
Anyway.

All round, it’s a solid book – it’s enjoyable, it contains representation and the humour is on point.

(One quick warning, if you’re planning on reading this one; there is a somewhat explicit scene in the novel, so you may want to skip a few pages if that makes you uncomfortable)

See you guys later with another post! (And sorry it took me sooo long to update this one!!)

Holly xx

The Orchid Caper – Book Review

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

Title: The Orchid Caper
Author: Connie B. Dowell
eBook: 13 Chapters
Published: May 11th 2017 by Book Echoes Media
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Summary (From Goodreads): A down-on-her luck burglar, a trust fund college kid with something to prove. Will they outfox a master thief?

All eighteen-year-old Darlene wants is to rob the joint. College guy Ian comes home too soon. And some ill-timed flatulence brings them together. Darlene thinks she’s toast. Instead Ian gives her a job offer, leading a heist team to steal a rare species of vanilla orchid. Only catch, she’s swiping from one of the best thieves in the biz.

With her dad’s store on its last legs, Darlene needs the cash she’ll get when the job is done. Ian’s in it to win a bet. Can their rag-tag team pinch the flower right under their mark’s nose? And can they remember not to eat beans for breakfast?

The Orchid Caper is the first in a humorous YA action/adventure series. If you love action with a sense of humour, this is the book for you.

I received a free copy of this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review.

Here goes:

This book was…interesting. The plot was, for me, too simplistic for a YA heist novel; I feel that it could have worked better as a children’s novel. It was made up of coincidence after coincidence and just didn’t ring quite true for me.

“An expert had plopped ready-made into our laps”

 

It also felt rushed – I finished it overnight, in about 4-5 hours. For a YA novel, I would expect the subplots to be fleshed out a little bit more. There were too few scenes between Darlene and Annabelle for me to really feel the antagonism between them. However, I could readily believe Ian and Aidan, and their wager felt (ridiculous as it seems) more realistic.

My other issue was Darlene and Ian, the main characters; I didn’t like them. I couldn’t relate to either of them. Darlene felt too ditzy for me and Ian was just…irritating. Despite this, they both had distinct narrative voices, with Ian being well-spoken (to the point that I felt he’d swallowed a thesaurus) and Darlene using more common terms.

That being said, the rest of the cast was BRILLIANT.
Clyde was actually my favourite by the end because I can relate to him personally – I do ballet. I know how few men do ballet in day to day life and how it can actually enhance your stamina. As someone who has done it for years, I loved him as a character. (Also, kudos for the actual ballet terminology being used; that was a nice touch).

Chad was possibly the only character that managed to make me crack a smile. A favourite scene of mine is where he is holding a conversation with a lady and simultaneously trying to figure out if she could be his great-grandma. He reminded me a lot of Leo from the Heroes of Olympus series, to get an idea of his character.

Rita reminded me strongly of “Gangster Granny” – she fills that stereotype very well. I think I cracked a couple of smiles when reading her and her no-nonsense attitude.

Another person that didn’t get fleshed out enough was Judy – I feel that she could have been one of my favourite characters, had she been given a bit more screen time.

The beginning of the book felt flat for me; however, when I got past about the 40% mark, the pace picked up and I found that I could enjoy what I was reading without picking it apart. The heist itself was enjoyable to read, and I do love reading books with a team of characters, all with different skills to bring to the table.

Little bits of it made me smile – I especially liked the moment where Darlene is recounting the missions that Rita sent them on and apparently they had to switch over the cartridges of black and blue pens as a joke.

In all, I’m giving this book a solid 3/5 – I enjoyed it, but there were a few issues (for me) that I couldn’t overlook.

Anyone else read a book similar?

Holly xx