A Monster Calls Review

  • Author: Patrick Ness
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • No. of pages: 237
  • Dates read: 16.07.19
  • Rating: 4 stars

I don’t have many things to say about this book.

I devoured it. I read it in about 2 hours and sobbed all the way through the end.

I had been putting this book off for some time as I knew what it was about and having experienced similar situations in my life like Connor is experiencing I didn’t want to be reminded. I felt, in the end, the best thing to do was just read it and get it over and done with.

Plot: Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

I loved the Monster. He was my favourite character, I loved his stories, his attitude his wisdom. He was such an interesting character and honestly I would love another book where we learn more about him and the other people he has met through his life.

The ending was beautiful. The atmosphere was written so well, the messages were detailed so perfectly but without it being shoved in your face. But I can’t deny the ending tore me in two. I sobbed so much. It was the first time I had ever had such a strong reaction to a book.

As the book goes I didn’t think it was extraordinary. The writing was pretty basic and I didn’t really feel things until the ending but I could not deny the ending was so perfectly done and I can understand why people rate it so highly.

Like I mentioned already, I was apprehensive going into this book as I had a rough idea of what was going to happen at the end. Over the past couple of years I have dealt with some personal situations that slightly reflect what is going on with this book so reading this brought back a lot of emotions and memories for me. I felt that, since I read this book so quickly I would go back and re-read it. Now, after some time, I personally don’t want to experience how I felt after reading the book. My heart physically ached and I felt very low. Because this was my physical reaction to the book and especially the themes in this book I have decided to not re-read this novel. I have never reacted like this too a book and while it was an interesting experience it’s not one I want to experience again any time soon.

The next book I will be reviewing is a book I have wanted to read for ages. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. I can’t wait to jump in and see what all the hype is about.

The Man in the Brown Suit Review

  • Author: Agatha Christie
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Murder Mystery
  • No. of pages: 381
  • Dates read: 12.07.19 – 16.07.19
  • Rating: 4 stars

And here is my other book I read on holiday! This was a really fun, more action-packed story that I read while soaking up the sun. Though being honest, I did read most of this on the plane back home but some of it was read by the pool.

Plot: Newly-orphaned Anne Beddingfield came to London expecting excitement. She didn’t expect to find it on the platform of Hyde Park Corner tube station. When a fellow passenger pitches onto the rails and is electrocuted, the ‘doctor’ on the scene seems intent on searching the victim rather than examining him . . . Armed with a single clue, Anne finds herself struggling to unmask a faceless killer known only as ‘The Colonel’ – while ‘The Colonel’ struggles to eliminate her . . .

First thing I want to say was I loved Anne’s character! I found her to be so relatable and I understood exactly where she was coming from when she dreamt of having a life full of exciting adventures and struggled with the mundanity of normal life. I thought she was smart, independent, adaptable and at times very funny. She was a joy to read.

It was good to see a female protagonist, especially at the time it was written, to go through such an action-packed adventure. I was actually shocked by how fun this plot was. I thought it was going to be a bulk-standard murder mystery and it was high-paced, high-stakes, action-packed and exciting. Far removed from my original idea and expectation.

I loved how you couldn’t really trust anyone in this story. Everyone is a suspect and everyone does something to make you suspect them. It was really fun not knowing who the murderer could be.

I felt that the plot was all over the place. I felt that the writing needed more structure. I found that with every new piece of information that was received or discovered, I became incredibly confused in where it fit within the mystery, followed by a massive info dump which would then confuse you even more. The writing didn’t help you formulate even a small idea of how that info worked in the narrative or changed the events of the mystery. I felt like I need a more structured monologue or conversation between characters discussing the mystery and how the new developments fit into it, just so I could get even a vague understanding on what was going on. I found myself hoping that it would all make sense in the end rather than working alongside the character to figure it out.

I also felt the romance was hit and miss depending on the couple. On one hand, you had a prospective couple that was given a lot of time to get to know each other and it made sense with them liking each other. Then, on the other hand, you had a prospective couple where out of no-where there’s a marriage proposal. It made no sense to me.

Overall, I really did enjoy the story but you could definitely tell this was one of Christie’s earlier works just by the messy plot structure and underdeveloped romance that didn’t make sense.

The next book I will be reviewing will be A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

The Secret of Chimneys Review

  • Author: Agatha Christie
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Murder Mystery/Political
  • No. of pages: 336
  • Dates read: 09.07.19 – 12.07.19
  • Rating: 5 stars

It felt so good to get back into another Christie novel. Like I said in my previous post, I love reading a murder mystery while soaking up the sun and that’s what I did. Yesterday, I came back from a great trip with my boyfriend and it felt good to kick back and relax a bit.

Plot: Little did Anthony Cade suspect that an errand for a friend would place him at the center of a deadly conspiracy. Drawn into a web of intrigue, he begins to realize that the simple favor has placed him in serious danger. As events unfold, the combined forces of Scotland Yard and the French Sûreté gradually converge on Chimneys, the great country estate that hides an amazing secret. . . .

This was my first political based novel and I thought I was going to find that side of the novel boring and just waiting for it to get back to the mystery but I found myself very early on thoroughly enjoying the more political side to the story. It felt like the stakes were higher when you added all the politics. It becomes so much more than the normal family matter or village matter. Like I’m used to.

Anthony was an amazing, charismatic main protagonist and I loved reading the story from his point of view. He just had a way with people that was so fun to watch, he commanded every scene he was in, regardless of how powerful the other individuals were. I also loved how care-free he was which allowed us to experience some incredibly exciting scenes play out due to his lack of worries.

I enjoyed all the twists and turns that came with this novel. But, the ending was a bit OTT, you have to slightly suspend your disbelief with this ending. I personally thought it was a lot of fun but I feel some readers might find it a bit too much and not as well thought through. To me, it was just really fun.

Obviously, this book was published in the very early 1920s, so there were a few xenophobic and racist undertones, and at times, blatant racist remarks. This was uncomfortable to read. This is a reflection, sadly, of the prejudices against people of colour at the time and it is hard to read.

I can’t say too much about this novel due to spoilers so this review is a quick one.

The next post will be about The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie. I also read this book while I was away and thoroughly enjoyed it. The post will be up very soon.

June Wrap Up 2019

Here are the books I read in June of 2019.

Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve (4 stars)

This novel is a competitor to be my favourite book of 2019! I was blown away by this book. The world-building is phenomenal, the characters are all so varied and layered and the plot is just so exhilarating! Do not go into this book though having watched the movie thinking it’s going to be the exact same though because it is not!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (5 stars)

This novel was a re-read for me. Last year, I decided I was going to re-read the whole series as my knowledge of the books, especially the last 3, had severely lacked. Goblet of Fire is one of my favourites of the series and I really enjoyed the re-read. This post however focuses less on my thoughts and feelings on the novel and more my experience reading it as I decided to annotate my book, looking at themes within the novel.

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (3 stars)

The book was a bit lack lustre. I’m not going to lie. The main character was really interesting and I loved the first half of the novel but the second half of the novel was a bit all over the place and not in a good way. I was confused half the time on what was actually going on and it stopped me engaging with the story. This was abit of a let-down.

The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (4 stars)

This book was a really easy, fun and a quick read. Set in Botswana, we follow Mma Ramotswe, the only female PI in the country, as she solves a variety of cases from adultery to theft to even death! This was so engaging and I loved Mma Ramotswe’s character. But I did have a couple representation issues which I discuss in more detail in my post.

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell (2 stars)

Another DNF for 2019. The main reason for this DNF was the pacing. It was just such a slow story, it felt like the plot was just plodding along at the pace of an elephant! I just could not get engaged with the story. I also found the main male protagonist to be infuriating. But like with all DNFs there is no blog post to follow.

Dorothy Must Die Review

  • Author: Danielle Paige
  • Series: Dorothy Must Die #1
  • Genre: Fantasy/Re-telling
  • No. of pages: 452
  • Dates read: 30.06.19 – 04.07.19
  • Rating: 3 stars
  • Challenge: ONTD Challenge July Theme, “Read a re-telling.”

I mean WOW what an ending!

I love a re-telling but most importantly I love a DARK re-telling and this book delivered.

Plot (taken from Goodreads): When your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know? Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a yellow brick road – but even that’s crumbling. What happened? Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe. My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas. I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. I’ve been trained to fight. And I have a mission.

First of all, I want to say that despite its faults, and there are a few, this honestly was such a ride and incredibly fun and exhilarating to read. I will start off with the positives of my experience reading.

I really enjoyed the world-building and being able to explore this twisted and evil version of Oz. It was exciting to enter a world that you had once visited as a child and see it change so drastically. It also helped as a reader to put yourself in Amy’s shoes as you are both experiencing the same thing!

Dorothy is AMAZING! I loved her evil and tyrannical side, I enjoyed every scene she was in. She just exuded power and charisma. I found her to be such a fascinating character and I just yearned to find out more about her and her drastic change of personality.

Every character Amy meets on this journey is important to the story. Whether it is in teaching Amy a lesson or advancing the plot. I didn’t feel like any character was haphazardly written or forgotten about along the way, each character was integral to the story. Even Amy’s pet rat was important! This just made me really appreciate Paige’s writing, she clearly took a long time to map out each character and it’s relationship in Amy’s story.

I really enjoyed the plot for this story but my favourite part of the novel would have to be the last third, all the moments when Amy is in the Emerald Palace. The stakes felt incredibly high especially every time she was in Dorothy’s proximity. So many revelations were discovered or important plot points were laid out, it just was so exciting to read, I couldn’t keep up! I basically read that last third within one day. I was loving it so much.

I liked Amy at first but then I wasn’t so sure about her character about halfway through the novel, as she started making dumb decisions which also contradicted with the writing. She would feel a certain way about a character but it wouldn’t be portrayed well in the writing. Amy would say she disliked a character but I found, as I was experiencing the same scene as her, that I actually really liked the character and couldn’t understand why Amy would feel that way. I was thinking are we experiencing the same thing here? So that was confusing to get my head around but by the end of it she pulls through big time and I couldn’t help but just love her.

I’m not going to lie at times it did feel like a cringey YA story. I felt that the plot was really strong but at certain times the writing was lacking. Some of the writing and the dialogue made me physically cringe it felt like an adult trying to sound like a teenager, it felt really out of touch.

I also really didn’t care for the romance in the story. The romance sort of just came out of no-where and then there seemed like there was going to be a love triangle, which made no sense as none of the romance was set up properly, but that just faded away weirdly. I just don’t think it was written very well at all.

The next book I will be reading is The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie. I am currently on holiday when this is published and whenever I go away I love to read at least one murder mystery. I don’t know what it is but it is a must for me. I will still be having posts go out in the mean time, so keep your eyes out!

The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency Review

  • Author: Alexander McCall Smith
  • Series: The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency #1
  • Genre: Mystery
  • No. of pages: 233
  • Dates read: 24.06.19 – 30.06.19
  • Rating: 4 stars

This was an impulse buy about 2 weeks ago in a charity shop. Mystery novels are my favourite kind of novels and when I saw a mystery novel with a Botswanian woman as the detective I could not not pick it up!

I am so happy I did!

Plot: Meet Mma Ramotswe, the endearing, engaging, simply irresistible proprietress of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, the first and only detective agency in Botswana. With persistent observation, gentle intuition, and a keen desire to help people with the problems of their lives, she solves mysteries great and small for friends and strangers alike.

Mma Ramotswe is an incredible character. She is tough, loving and incredibly intelligent. I loved her confidence and nerve. She is depicted as the definition of what makes Africa and in particularly Botswana great and I loved that image of this woman be the physical representation of not only her country but the entire continent. Reading the story from her POV was really enjoyable when you read something like Agatha Christie’s Poirot it’s always through the POV of his assistant or friend so we don’t see how Poirot figures things out and can be wowed at the end by his brilliance. With this book, I loved how we were piecing together the mystery alongside her! We found out all the vital information just as she did, you feel like you yourself are a private detective.

I really enjoyed the structure of this novel. The first couple of chapters starting off describing her childhood and the people she grew up with. All of this helped influence her brilliant mind and her love for solving a mystery. I also loved how while there was one over-arching mystery, filtered through the story were tiny cases that Mma Romatswe solved so it felt like more of a short story collection as some cases would only take up one chapter.

My main reservation though was that the author was a white man writing about the experiences of a black woman living in Africa. I understand that authors should be at liberty to write a variety of characters but Mma Ramotswe’s story was so raw and honest and heart-breaking I was worried with how it was going to be handled. Purely because the author would never be able to experience what life would be like for a woman living in rural Botswana and growing up there. I do feel it was done well and I never felt that the story was handled carelessly. But I can’t really decide of this was handled well as I myself am white and also will never experience what’s like to be someone like Mma Ramotswe.

That being said, I did really enjoy this book. I flew through it and I will definitely be picking up the sequel.

The next book I will be reviewing will be Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige. I am reading this for the ONTD Reading Challenge for the month of July, the theme is ‘re-tellings’.