Thursday, January 2, 2020

The Secret Place by Tana French

I don't know what happened but apparently I have been asleep or day dreaming when Tana French and her books comes up in conversation/on bookstagram. I know I've seen her name and some of her books on shelves before but beyond that, I knew nothing.

This is my first Tana French book. I snapped it up on one of the sale racks at Chapters (I think I snagged this for $8) a year ago and it's been sitting on my shelf all this time. I am always into a good mystery and I remember thinking that when I bought this that people online talk about Tana French so I should probably read this.

The people were right. Tana French's writing style is magical, haunting, and so utterly interesting. I could not get over how different and exciting her writing was. If I could write like Tana French then I'll have reached the pinnacle of awesomeness. I don't think anyone could have accurately explained to me how her writing style is wonderful, so please, don't take my word for it. Please go read a book of hers for yourself.

This story is about a new officer who is looking to break into the Dublin Murder Squad. A former witness he knows comes to him with clues about a murder and he jumps in with one of the other detectives to try and solve it. The murder victim was a student who was found dead on the grounds of an all girls boarding school. The investigation takes them through the lives of teenage girls and all the mysteries that entails.

The book was written from the points of view of multiple characters, but in such a way that it just works. Getting the insight from all these different characters is great because there's so much going on that we really need to know what's happening in their heads.  Ordinarily I don't love it when author's do this, but in this book, it is perfect.

As far as mysteries go, it was a great one. I had no real idea who the murderer was until just before it was revealed in the book. I love it when I can't figure it out ahead of time. The trill of the hunt is always my favorite.

The Secret Place is actually the fifth book in the Dublin Murder Squad series, but from what I read online, the books don't actually have to be read in order so I feel better about that. I will be reading more of her books because this one was just so great. I need more of her writing in my life!

Recommendation: For the mystery lovers, for the lovers of great writing, for the lovers of good stories... this is for you!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Kill The Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne

Kill The Farm Boy is an adult fantasy novel that is also 100% comedy.

The idea behind this book was to turn a typical fantasy on its head. There's always a farm boy who becomes the chosen one and with a band of characters to help him along, he saves the kingdom and becomes king. This is not that story.

Let's start by talking about some of the main characters: there's an assassin who is afraid of chickens, a warrior woman in a chain mail bikini, a necromancer who is called the Dread Necromancer Steve who has a thing for cheese, a talking goat and (as the synopsis says) a bard with a fuzzy tail.

The story itself was pure gold. There's innuendos and comical scenes. The characters were hilarious and perfect for the story. The world is rich and interesting, with many layers like a typical fantasy. It's lighthearted and laugh out loud funny while still having a plot and a goal in sight.

I did find myself getting upset at a certain choice in the book, but it's a personal preference thing that has nothing to do about the story or how good the book is. I won't say more but I feel like if you were to read this book you'd know what I'm talking about and will want to vent about it too!

Kill The Farm Boy is the first in the series called The Tales of Pell and both the second book (No Country for Old Gnomes) and the third book (The Princess Beard) have already been released!! I found this series at the bookstore because of the second book in the series. I spied No Country for Old Gnomes first and realized there was another book in the series and I should probably start at the beginning!

All that to say I enjoyed this book and will most likely be reading the rest of the series at some point next year!

Recommendation: For the lovers of fantasy, those who love humour, and can be light hearted and less serious about life and fantasy stories in general.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Mystery Of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah

The Mystery of Three Quarters is the third new Hercule Poirot mystery written by Sophie Hannah.

I loved this book. It won't come as much of a surprise that I loved the other two Poirot mysteries written by Sophie Hannah. If it has to do with Agatha Christie and her beloved characters, I'm going to love it.

This book is about a group of people who have all received letters from Poirot claiming that they committed the murder of a man named Barnabas Pandy. Poirot finds this out because they come to him, very distraught, asking why he would say such a thing. Who is Barnabas Pandy? Poirot doesn't know, but he's going to find out!

It's an interesting sort of story, one that could have been penned by the marvellous Agatha Christie herself. I was totally swept up in the mystery and I loved every second of it!

For fun, I went on Goodreads and I checked out the reviews for this book, many of which were positive, but some we not happy. Of course Sophie Hannah cannot replace Agatha or write exactly like her, but Hercule Poirot comes to life on the page and it's clear that he lives on in her books. I am ever so grateful that we have (and hopefully will continue to have) more Poirot books out in the world.

Recommendations: If you love Poirot, you will love this book and the other two that Sophie Hannah has written. If you love a good mystery, check this one out! It is a wonderful read!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

I am a huge fan of Victoria Schwab (or V.E. Schwab as she's also known by) and I am so on board for anything she writes. This one was no different.

City of Ghosts is a middle grade paranormal novel. It's about a girl named Cass that can pull back the Veil and see the dead. Her parents are ghost hunters doing a tv show about haunted places and she must go along with them. Her best friend is a boy who might just happen to be a ghost himself. during the trip to Scotland, Cass meets a girl who can do what she can and there's a lot more about the Veil that Cass doesn't know.

It's spooky. There's ghosts a plenty. The atmosphere was alluring and I was totally absorbed right from the start. It's the details that Victoria Schwab adds into her stories that make them such wonderful things.

This book totally delivered the adventure that I was looking for, and it gave me all the creepy ghosts I could ask for in a great way. It might only be middle grade, but it wasn't hard to jump in the story and follow Cass (who's only 12) go across the Veil and walk through so seriously creepy (but totally interesting) places in Scotland!

My only complaint was that I wanted more. I always want more when I'm loving something so there's no surprise there really, but since it was a middle grade, it makes sense it was a little bit more simplistic than an adult book.

City of Ghosts is the first book in the series. The second one is already out and it's called Tunnel of Bones. I can't wait to get my hands on it and keep going with the story!

Recommendations: For the lovers of ghost stories, paranormal stories, author Victoria Schwab, and those who love being a little creeped out in their reads!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Into the Dim series by Janet B. Taylor

There are two books in this series and both have been out for a while. Book one is Into the Dim and book two is Sparks of Light. I did see there was mention of a third one on Goodreads (which I so hope is true) but I'm not sure if it's going to happen.

I came across this series by accident at the bookstore. I was looking for another author and the first book Into the Dim caught my eye, and I picked it up. 

The series starts with Hope Watson. She's a teenager who has lost her mother to an earth quake and goes to Scotland for the summer to stay with her mother's family. Turns out that her mother and her mother's family are time travellers and it's going to be up to Hope to go back in time to rescue her mother who isn't dead, just in another time. 

First off, the detail and the time traveling aspects of this series is fascinating! I loved the twists and turns in these books and I couldn't put them down! I was worried and excited about what was going to happen. 

The first book was my favourite of the two, but I still really enjoyed the second book. I really fell for all the characters and I thought the romance aspect of the books to be seen and lovely. 

I had to go back to the bookstore right after I finished the first book to get the second one because I needed to keep the story going. 

This series has villains, family, courage, love, time travel, history, and more all beyond my wildest dreams. This series felt new and interesting to me in ways I haven't seen often. 

What really surprised me was that I hadn't seen any of these books on bookstagram. No mention of them, no one really talking about them. For an awesome series about time travel and history, I would have thought otherwise. 

The second book was great, but I did find myself becoming a little confused in the middle. It looked like the story was going in one direction but then went in a total different direction which I felt was jarring, but I ended up enjoying the outcome. You do have to read the first one before this one though. I don't think it would have been easy to follow the tangent of the story without having read the first one before this one. 

Both of these books kept me glued to the page, and I really wish the third one would become reality. This really was a stellar series. 

Recommendation: Read this if you love time travel, historical fiction, the weak growing strong and kicking butt. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Okay, this book was partially a cover buy and partially because when it was released it was all over the internet and the storyline just begged to be read.

For those of you who don't know it's about a girl, a boy, and a prince. Together they have to work together to assassinate a king and stop a war. The girl can speak to the Gods, the boy has a pretty monstrous secret and the prince has a lot to learn about who to trust. It's got romance, gothic feels, and its the type of fantasy that I love with plenty of magical things going on.

Right off the bat you get thrown into the action. There's a war going on and don't you know it!

The magical element was really different too, and I totally loved it. Having a story about a girl (and culture) of people who, when chosen, can speak to the Gods and use their abilities was pretty seriously great. The other magical element of having people who use their blood to activate spells they tear out of books they wear on their waist was so neat!

This was fast read for me, partially because I was totally absorbed in the story, and partially because it's wasn't an overly complicated read.

The writing in this book was something really great. The way the author wrote the characters, it was like you knew them immediately and you developed feelings about them so fast that when something happened, you could really feel for the characters. This was especially apparent with the villains. One second you feel one way and then it's call different! I won't say more, you'll just have to read the book!

The story was so built up that I was in a hurry for the ending because I NEEDED to know what was going to happen. This meant that the ending didn't quite satisfy me. I've since learned this will be part of a trilogy, so it makes sense the ending I was after didn't quite happen yet.

It's also possible I'm missing something in the ending because I read it so quickly. I think I might need to revisit it, especially before I read the next one when it come out. I will admit that when it was over I felt like I was missing something.

Overall, I really liked this book! It was an interesting and different gothic fantasy young adult read and I enjoyed it! I will definitely read the rest of the series when it comes out.

Recommendations: For fantasy lovers who love a good magic system, gothic elements, and interesting villains!

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Struggle With TBR's

I began this book blogging journey by keeping a notebook where I would write down my thoughts on the books I'd like to write about. At this point I am on my fifth notebook.

On the first page of the first one I placed sticky notes listing the names of all the books I planned on reading and reviewing. I think I was able to get 25 on each side of the first page if I lined them up just right.

I started this because I am a big believer of writing down simple to-do lists and things like that so that I can get that satisfying feeling of crossing out things once I've done them. This was the same idea I had when I created this sticky note list of books. Once I finished reading and taking notes on a book I would gleefully tear off its corresponding sticky note. 

A book made it onto a sticky note usually when it came home with me (either from a bookstore or the library) and I thought it would be perfect to review. Somehow I managed to fill up the first notebook before I finished the list of sticky noted books so I transferred them into the second notebook. By the end of the second notebook, the sticky note list was a lot smaller but still hanging on.

I transferred it into the third book for all of 10 minutes before I pulled half of them off and replaced them with new books that I was more excited to read. That lasted I think for another day till I pulled them all off and threw them out. 

The books on the sticky notes just became like failed tasks. A lot of the remaining books have been on the list since the very beginning and it was starting to drive me nuts. The list was supposed to make me feel more organized but instead I felt confined. 

This feeling was exactly the reason I've stopped trying to keep TBR (to be read) lists. Every single time I wrote out a monthly TBR list, I would give up after about two books. What I think I would love to read would change all the time. Either new books would find their way into my hands or my moods would change and the lists would be ugly little reminders that I wasn't keeping up with my goals again and nobody needs that kind of negativity.

I've since acquired a book cart and decided right off the bad that the top shelf was going to be where I'd place books I'd like to read soon. I went and pulled some books from my bookshelves and then arranged them on the cart. I told myself it wasn't a TBR because those didn't work for me. I told myself that I was just going to put books on there for now and grab them when I wanted to read. It's been about three months, if not more. Some of those books are still there. Do I go there when I need a new read? Nope. It's like those books I was so excited for are now being ignored because they aren't on my bookshelf, they are on my cart.

I believe that am done with ever having another TBR. Goodbye to the book lists and shelves of books set aside because I think I'll read them soon. Goodbye to the stress they cause. I am just going to read what I want when I want and throw the rest out the window. 

Don't worry about my book cart though! She's still there, and still so very useful. Right now I'm in the middle of about 5 different books and they are living on the top shelf along with books who are simply waiting to be put onto my shelf. The middle rack is a catchall from my desk, and the bottom are books I'm going to donate or drop off at a free library.

How about you? Tell me your thoughts! Do you love TBR's? Do you hate them? If you love them, tell me how you deal with them and make them work!