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

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

 

 

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Book Review

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Title: A Quiet Kind of Thunder
Author: Sarah Barnard
Paperback: 307 pages
Published: January 12th 2017 by Macmillan Children’s Books
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn’t a lightning strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

Whilst I loved this book, I’ve found myself knocking off a star for unresolved subplots and minor characters who only appear once.

Rhys’s friends, for example; they appear once, and are then never spoken of again. Also Meg. She seemed pretty cool and I wanted to see more of her.

Sadly, we didn’t get that.

What we did get though, was some brilliant character development through Steffi. Before reading this book, I only had a basic idea of what selective mutism is. It was interesting from that perspective; mutism isn’t a widely spoken of disability, and this book did a great job of explaining it.

She starts out shy and ends up still being shy and having social anxiety – however, she has found her voice. She can use her voice when she needs to. And that’s the main plot.

Also, I loved the relationship between Steffi and Rhys. Not gonna lie, it did feel a little bit like insta-love, but it was adorable and I felt that they genuinely loved each other. The love also started out as friendship, which earns bonus points!

At points, I did feel like the book revolved around the relationship – it felt like Steffi and Rhys were only interested in one another, and all of the other characters faded into the background. I get that in the early stages of a relationship, the couple do tend to focus on one another; this one felt like it was going a little overboard, but that’s just my personal feelings.

Steffi has a best friend, Tem (short for September), who feels a little bit like a token character and makes up the racial diversity of the novel. Actually, she does have a boyfriend, Karam, for a bit and he’s Asian, which is a little bit more diversity, but honestly, there wasn’t a whole load.

Steffi and Tem speak about things other than boys, I think – I don’t remember very well, it’s been a couple of weeks since I read the book! The conversations that I remember were about Rhys and Karam, however they did talk about other things – they pass the Bechdel Test!

Plenty of themes are explored in this book – I just think that maybe too many were taken on. Disability, racism, broken families, death, sex; a lot was covered in what is a relatively short book. It does all link together quite well, but I felt rushed when reading the novel.

In all, I did really enjoy this book – it just didn’t tie up enough loose ends for me. I will admit, I cried in the final scene at the graveyard, and smiled at parts and laughed out loud at parts. It just isn’t quite up there on my all-time favourites list (But it’s probably in my Top 30).

Any other thoughts on this one?

Holly xx

Hook – Book Review

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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