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

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