Viper Review

  • Author: Bex Hogan
  • Series: Isles of Storm and Sorrow #1
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • No. of pages: 400
  • Dates read: 16.05.19 – 21.05.19
  • Star rating: 3.75 stars

I got this from a book subscription box and I had bought other ones for the same company and had not enjoyed the books selected that much or at all! So going into this I was quite worried I would have the same experience but I was happy to be proven wrong!

Plot: Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles. But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake. He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father. She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?

For starters, the world of the Eastern Isles is really imaginative and I loved being in that world. I felt the introduction to the world and its history was done really well and was a very interesting part of the story. I really enjoyed hearing about the past between the Eastern and Western Isles. It was all thought out very well. Hogan’s descriptive writing of the different islands was really fun to read about. You could picture yourself there.

I have never read a pirate story before and I feel this is a really good introduction into these kinds of novels. I felt that Hogan’s writing when it came to explaining the ways of the Viper’s ship and all the sailing jargon was done really well to show the intricacies and knowledge Hogan had but also simpler enough that if you had never heard of this stuff before you weren’t incredibly lost. Also, the description of fighting was amazing, since these characters are such skilled fighters you have to have writing that matches that.

The female characters were stand out in this novel and I felt Marianne was a great protagonist. I especially loved her internal struggle of trying to figure out where she stands in the world and who she truly is. Her strength was something I truly loved about her, despite everything, she stands tall and continues to fight. It’s a very admiral trait to have in a female character.

Her relationship with her father was the most interesting part of the whole book. It’s a very traumatic and heart-breaking dynamic that could be hard for certain readers to read. You spend the whole book rooting for her, as you truly see a monster more than a man with Captain Alder. I think it’s an interesting pairing to have with a book as I am used to female characters standing up against evil mothers, not fathers.

I really enjoyed the exploration of what it means to be a woman in the world and especially what sacrifices the female characters have had to make in order to survive whether it’s on an island or on the Viper’s ship.

I thought the arranged marriage between Torin and Marianne was done really well. I think most arranged marriages are written to be evil things that act as prisons for the main character and while this can be the case, it was nice to see a more positive spin on a trope which is normally used more negatively.

My only qualms with this novel are:

I felt the magic and all the stuff surrounding the magic could have been introduced or hinted at earlier on. There were signs here and there but they were too subtle and I felt when they did the big reveal that it came out of no-where and I would have been happy if she just a normal teenager trying to survive.

I really didn’t like the whole “I’m scared of the darkness within me” trope that happens a lot in books like this. I found that it was used to much and it got quite tiresome by the end of it as personally, I would love to see her embrace all sides of herself.

Finally, the romance took some time to really work for me. I am not the biggest fan of romance in stories, as I have seen it be done horribly so I am always cautious but I ended up enjoying it, it just took some time.

The Boundless Review

  • Author: Kenneth Oppel
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Historical/Magic Realism
  • No. of page: 332
  • Dates read: 12.05.19 – 15.05.19
  • Rating: 2 stars
  • Challenge: ONTD Challenge May Theme “A book set in a country you’ve never been to”. (Canada)

I had a lot of hope for this book. I had only recently added it onto my TBR list and happened upon it while in the library. This book, to me, had so much going for it but it just lacked in execution.

Plot: When Will Everett boards The Boundless he expects the ride of his life – not a fast route to death. But when the key to the train’s secret cargo falls into his possession he finds himself hunted by ruthless killers. As the great train hurtles across the country he will need all his wits to elude his pursuers – and keep himself alive. (Goodreads)

The overall writing was quite boring, I understand it needs to be easy as this is aimed at a more younger audience but the writing could have been more exciting! This book to me felt like it was a middle grade novel trying to be a YA novel. One thing I did enjoy with the writing was that it covered a lot of deep-rooted issues like racism, colonisation and sexism which I felt was handled well but then on the flip side the character does black face and is trying to pass off as Indian in order to not be recognised by the villain and that made me feel uncomfortable.

The book tackled with a lot of genres; historical fiction, fantasy and magic realism. While I normally enjoy a mismatch of genres this felt all over the place for me. I guess it was meant to play with the question of “what is magic?” and “is it magic or just an illusion?” but I don’t think it was executed that well.

I love stories set on trains. I think it’s a really interesting setting for a novel and the description of the different carriages was fun and varied, what I expect from a middle grade novel. I loved the imagination!

The characters were fun and slightly layered which was enjoyable and I loved going on the journey with them. Will, as a main character was fine, but you stay for the secondary characters as they bought more personality to the table. My favourite character would have to be Maren, a self-assured female character that had many different sides to her. I would have preferred if she was the protagonist of the story. She was the more interesting of the two.

The next book I will be reviewing is Viper by Bex Hogan. A book I obtained from the Fairyloot March Box. I have not had great luck with the books from the Fairyloot packages so I am hoping to enjoy this book but I am a bit worried.

The Girl in the Tower Review

  • Author: Katherine Arden
  • Series: Winternight Trilogy #2
  • Genre: Historical Fantasy
  • No. of pages: 346 pages
  • Dates read: 07.05.19 – 10.05.19
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Challenge: 2019 Sequels and ONTD Challenge May Theme “A book set in a country you’ve never been to. (Russia)”

I mean what can I say!

When I read The Bear and the Nightingale last year, I felt underwhelmed and I didn’t really have the desire to pick up the next book BUT I am so happy that I did!

This book was, by far, better than the first novel and it expanded on what I liked from the first novel but elevated it and made it better.

Firstly, I was so much more invested in Vasya’s story this time around. I found her a bit annoying in the first book but this time I fully understand who she is and what she stands for. I related to her on such a deep level and I really wanted to see her succeed and live the life she wants to lead. Her character development was amazing!

I loved how action-packed this story was. The scenes which involved fighting were so exhilarating to read about and I found myself on the edge of my seat. I felt the stakes were a lot higher this time around and it made the plot incredibly engaging. You didn’t know what was going to happen or where the plot was going to twist and turn next and it was incredibly satisfying. 

Arden’s prose was so beautifully written and she really encompassed what it would feel like to live in medieval Russia. The way she writes about winter is amazing! I also really enjoyed the more formal kind of dialogue that the characters use between one another.

I was relieved to read that the little folklore creatures still had a prominent role within the story. My worry was that she would favour a more political story and give less screen time, if you will, to the chyteri. They still featured greatly and helped in advancing the plot which made me very happy.

My favourite part of the book was definitely the discussion of what a woman’s role is supposed to be at the time and how Vasya is trying to break away from that. It was heart-breaking to read how the women suffered and were treated as objects to the male characters. And how the women are raised to expect this boring life without fun and adventure. I really enjoyed reading Vasya’s inner monologue of her wanting more from life, it was so uplifting to read about a female character wanting to explore the world around her!

Final note: I love Solovey and Vasya’s friendship. What a duo!

The next book I will be reviewing will be The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel. This is a random read that I just decided to pick up at the library. Fingers crossed it’s good!

Resort to Murder Review

  • Author: TP Fielden
  • Series: A Miss Dimont Mystery #2
  • Genre: Historical/Murder Mystery
  • No. of pages: 300
  • Dates read: 26.04.19 – 03.05.19
  • Ratings: 4 stars
  • Challenge: 2019 Sequels

Plot (as seen on Goodreads): With its pale, aquamarine waters and golden sands, the shoreline at Temple Regis was a sight to behold. But when an unidentifiable body is found there one morning, the most beautiful beach in Devon is turned into a crime scene. For Miss Dimont – ferocious defender of free speech, champion of the truth and ace newspaperwoman for The Riviera Express – this is a case of paramount interest, and the perfect introduction for her young new recruit Valentine Waterford. Even if their meddling is to the immense irritation of local copper Inspector Topham… Soon Miss Dimont and Valentine are deep in investigation – why can nobody identify the body, and why does Topham suspect murder? And when a second death occurs, can the two possibly be connected?

Another solid sequel that I have read this week. TP Fielden has been a pleasant surprise and I was not disappointed by his 2nd instalment.

First of all, my main positive about this book would be the introduction of a new main character, Valentine Waterford. He was a brilliant addition to the story and it felt good to have another set of eyes to view the story from.

I really enjoyed the structure of this story where we see the reporters cover 3 big stories. The stories were incredibly interesting and varied. I sadly can’t say much about the cases without spoiling the plot but it just worked so well and I preferred the structure of the investigation into both murders compared to how it was done in the first book.

As per usual, Fielden did a great job at describing the town of Temple Regis, giving life to the town and making it feel as if Temple Regis itself was a character within the story. An omnipotent being watching the drama unfold before it. 

Two of my main stumbling blocks with this book is that first of all it took some time for the narrative to really get going. The first 100 pages while easy to read were not that exciting, once you get past the 100 pages mark the story really starts to kick and that’s when you get invested. It was a bit disappointing that you had to wait for 100 pages to get there.

My other bugbear was the characterisation of Ursula, the leader of the Sisters of Reason feminist group. I felt she was only included to play the angry, ugly feminist and she was a one-dimensional character. I understand the point that was meant to be made about the fringe feminist group and the fight for gender equality at that time. Some great points were raised, I just feel that making the leader a more masculine woman and subsequently writing her as an unlikable individual who everyone dislikes or is intimidated with no redeeming qualities was not subtle and could have been written better.

April Wrap Up 2019

Below is the list of the four books I read in April. The photo includes all the books I own. I had a pretty good April with most books being 4 stars or more!

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (4.5 stars)

This book to me was 4 stars until the very ending. I couldn’t give it 5 stars due to the fact I felt that Christie relied on the ending for her book entirely. While I felt that the ending was masterful, I felt the book as a whole was 4 stars.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (4 stars)

This book had been on my TBR list for ages and I thought I was never going to pick this us. This was until the ONTD Reading Challenge came along and set the theme of “Time Travel” for the month of April and I knew this was the book I was going to read. This book was an incredible slow-burner and I loved reading about this immaculate life/lives that Harry lives.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (5 stars)

This book was recommended to me by a friend from work, I don’t own this book so it’s not included in the photo. It was a book I had seen all over Booktube and Goodreads but never felt the urge to pick it up and did I feel like an idiot when I sat on the train back home from work and fell in love with these crazy characters! This is more of a character-driven novel and it was so, so good. Everyone should read it!

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (2 stars)

So this book… I have not done a review for this book since I DNFed it at 40% so I couldn’t give a review on a book I didn’t even read half of. But I did read that 40% in April so I think it should be noted. To be honest, the reason I put it down was due to the desire to pick it back up was minimal and while I did want to know how it ended, I didn’t want to read the extra 300 pages to get there! I just decided to put it down and move away.