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

Murder Most Unladylike – Book Review

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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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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

Ranking the Retellings – Peter Pan

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As you may know, Peter Pan is my all-time favourite story.

Off the back of my Hook review, I realised that I have actually read more retellings of the tale than I care to admit – some were good, some bad, and some just plain weird.

I’m sure there must be more than just me out here who love the story, so I figured that I would rank the retellings that I have read in order for you!

This will go from my personal worst to best.

8) Wendy by Karen Wallace
I don’t remember much of this one; just that it didn’t take place in Neverland and that I gave it 2 stars when I read it. The author tries to bring themes of mental illness in as an explanation for not growing up, but I feel like the book lacked the magic that made me want to turn the pages. It’s disappointing to say the least.

7) Hook’s Daughter by Heidi Schulz
This one I remember a bit more of – it’s based on Jocelyn Hook and her adventures to Neverland, to avenge her father. It’s definitely more on the children’s fiction rather than YA, which could account for why I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed others. The story is simplistic and Peter is an annoying brat, rather than the deeply twisted character that I’ve come to know.

6) Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean
This is actually the official sequel to Peter Pan, and all proceeds from it went to Great Ormond Street Hospital, whom J.M. Barrie left the copyrights to. It marks an interesting character journey for Peter – but he is, as always, still a child. Most of the cast from the original book return, and it’s all round an adventure that captivated me when I read it; it’s just not my absolute favourite.

5) Capt. Hook (The Adventures of a Notorious Youth) by J.V. Hart
I enjoyed this one when I read it the first time, and it can be interchanged easily with number 4 on this list. My main problem is that it doesn’t take us all the way up to the events of Peter Pan; instead, it focuses on a slower pace, giving us all of the adventures of Hook. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it got on my nerves. (Also, there was a love interest who just…didn’t make sense. It was unrealistic, and kinda pointless in my honest opinion.)

4) The Child Thief by Brom
This is the weird one. It’s such a dark retelling and *spoiler alert* pretty much everyone dies. It’s definitely high fantasy and contains plenty of weird and wonderful creatures and characters. Also, the only character from the original is Peter. No Wendy, a girl who is strikingly similar to Tiger Lily, and as far as I can remember, no Tink.

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The illustrations for this book are both beautiful and terrifying

 

3) Hook by K.R. Thompson
There’s a whole review on why I like this one; check it out here. It has a backstory of why Hook is Hook and it just…makes so much sense? It fills the hole that has been gaping for years for me.

2) Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
My favourite book of all time. Seriously, I loved it when I read it at age 13, and I love it now. Tiger Lily is one of the only books that I have ever felt the need to re-read, and I don’t think I can bear to part with the story. It covers so many topics that most people ignore or gloss over, which leads people to plaster a ’16+’ label on it, but really, any reader above the age of 12-13 who is mature can read and enjoy this book.

1) Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Much as I love Tiger Lily, the original book will always come on top. It makes me giggle in places every time I read it, and it never fails to blow me away. The character of Peter is so fascinating to me and I discover new passages that I may have glossed over every time. My copy is also very small and pretty which helps!

So, I hope you enjoyed that – anyone agree or disagree??
If you have a Peter Pan retelling that you think I’d enjoy, please leave it in the comments below!

Also, I’m going to link a Tumblr post here that I made a while back – it contains as many adaptations and me and a friend could think of, both book and film. Feel free to add to it!

Holly xx

Geekerella – Book Review

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Title: Geekerella
Author: Ashley Poston
Paperback: 319 pages
Published: April 4th 2017 by QUIRK BOOKS
My Rating: 5/5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Anything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

GUYS.

GUYS THIS WAS SO CUTE.

Oh, I loved this book so much. I finished it in a day.

I actually couldn’t care less about some of my smaller gripes about characterization; the plot and lead characters were so good they make up for it.

The plot does follow our very basic Cinderella story – Elle goes to the ball in a ‘coach’, with her punk fairy godmother and has to leave at 9 o’clock to get home, leaving her slipper on the steps.
She was relatable, a complete nerd with a Tragic Backstory – and I just, she appealed to me. I got SO angry on her behalf at her Evil Stepmother and one of her step-sisters. Elle is just one of those protagonists that I can’t help empathising with.
(Also, Elle is short for Danielle, which I found new!)

Her handsome prince? A teen actor by the name of Darien Freeman, who can’t seem to catch a break from the press, the poor sod. He also has a bit of a Tragic Backstory, and definitely parental issues. I could also relate to him; maybe not as strongly as I could to Elle, but I also got SO ANGRY on his behalf at THE WORLD.

The cast of supporting characters is stellar – my absolute favourite is Sage. She is Elle’s workmate and throughout the novel their relationship develops into friendship and I adore her crazy personality.
She fills the role of fairy godmother and I wish more books had characters like her in them – punk girls with piercings and hearts of gold.
I also loved Calliope, Elle’s other stepsister, who does a complete 180 throughout the book and ends up supporting her. (She also gets together with Sage, but their relationship is so downplayed and normalised, I love it.)

Gail is memorable, but I feel like she didn’t get enough screen-time (page-time? who knows) and deserves more credit. She has a crazy life, trying to keep Darien in check and on time, bless her. I would’ve liked to see their relationship developed a little more.
Same goes for Lonny, who is like a huge teddy bear. He made me laugh multiple times whilst reading and he’s like the big bro that every character needs.

Onto the main subject of the book: Geekery.

Fandoms. Cons. Nerd culture.

This is my CALLING.

This book is very much a “love letter to nerd culture” – there were so many references that made my heart sing. (My favourite was “On your left!”).
The fandom of this book is Starfield, a fictional TV programme that I believe is a bit like Star Trek with the special effects of Red Dwarf. If it was real, I can assure you that I would be watching it.

Reading about people’s love for fandoms and books is like wrapping up in a warm blanket and sipping hot chocolate; it feels like home. I have spent countless hours on Pinterest and Tumblr, read (and written) fanfiction for so many different series. This book manages to encapsulate all of that.

It’s also made me determined to attend ComiCon, at least once.

Also to cosplay. Any suggestions for a girl who’s 5’2?

Anyway, I ADORED this book and it warmed my heart. Highly recommended!

Holly xx