Mini Book Reviews: March & April

books march april 2

books march april 2

I know, I know, I know – I’m SO crazily behind on book reviewing! These posts can be difficult to write because they take a lot of to and fro-ing, finding the right links, the right cover image, remembering how I felt about the book and all that, then I feel like I have to word them right because every book has been written by a real person who has taken months, probably years, to craft the exact right words for their story and I feel I need to do them justice. So if a book doesn’t work for me, I still try to explain why properly rather than just “I didn’t like it”. So these can be hard work – harder than just rambling about my life!
Nevertheless, I’m catching up 2 months at a time – March and April now, then May and June at some point soon. There have been some absolutely fantastic books I’ve read recently and I’ve added a few new favourites to my list, so I just have to share them. Enjoy!

The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore – 6.5/10 (Kindle version)*

I kind of wanted to love this because it had awesome reviews from awesome people (ie. Stephen King and Lee Child – see on its Goodreads page), and I did like it, but not love it. Caleb is a toxicologist with relationship issues. He has recently split from his girlfirend in a not-so-amicable kind of way and is in the midst of studying the effects of pain on the body. Feeling angry, put out and upset at the break up of his relationship, he finds himself propping up the bar in a local establishment with an enticing young woman in a beautiful dress drinking absinthe.
In an obsessive kind of way, he needs to find out who she is at all cost – putting further strain on his already broken relationship, sacrificing his work which becomes entangled with a serial murder investigation and his self-worth, he traces her down and begins a somewhat odd relationship, if it can even be called that.
The writing in the book was very good – I enjoyed passages about Emmeline, the mystery-woman, despite them being quite flowery. I found the descriptions drew you in in the same way the absinthe of the story does. I did however find the story itself quite predictable and samey, a little wishy washy in places, although this might be forgiven as it’s being told from an unreliable narrator’s point of view. It was a good read, not quite on the brilliance the famed reviewers give it in my opinion, but still enjoyable.

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern – 7.5/10 (Kindle version)*

So I have a confession! Cecelia Ahern was pretty much my favourite author when I was a teenager/young adult (I’m still young adult, okay?!) and I totally didn’t realise that’s who this book was by until I typed that in just now – WOW! How did I miss that?! I obviously missed a few as I read another by her in June – sorry Cecelia!
Flawed was a good read – it’s a book that stuck with me for a long time after reading. Only certain ones do this, so that’s a big plus.
The story follows Celestine North, a normal but “perfect” teenager in a world where to break a rule means you are branded “Flawed” forever. A Flawed person is deemed an outcast in society, must follow certain rules (such as making sure that they are known as Flawed in all situations) and is treated as a second class citizen. It’s immediately obvious from that short description what will happen, but Celestine makes an impulse decision one day between what’s morally right and what’s deemed to be a Flawed action that changes her life and view of the world she lives in forever.
I think what I liked about this was that it made me stop and think about what’s right and wrong, what’s good and bad. It was a good read that I would recommend – a good first young adult novel from Cecelia Ahern.

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman – 9.5/10 (Kindle version)*

New favourite book alert!! I am SO in love with this book and would recommend it a thousand times. I’ve seen it on shelves in shops since reading it and have been so proud to point and it and announce “I’ve read that! I’ve read that!”. It’s a topic very much along the lines of Beautiful Broken Things that I loved back in December with toxic teenage girl friendships but in early 90s America.
Hannah Dexter, our protagonist, is your very average stereotypical TA novel teenage girl. Following the suicide of a popular boy in her school year, the boyfriend of a girl who bullies her, Nikki, Hannah befriends Lacey, someone who is entirely unlike her – cool, interesting, exciting and more. Slowly Hannah becomes dragged down to become “Dex” – the person Lacey sees her as and who she so desperately wants to be, turning their small town upside down and back again.
The ending really goes out with a bang and left me in that state of “Book Shock” (is this a thing?!) for days, but the whole novel really just spoke to me. I know the world of toxic teenage friendships inside out (doesn’t every girl?) and I devoured every page of this. It’s twisting, dark, and just engulfs you. I worry about YA books sometimes that you’ll get the stereotypical light and fluffy story – I like it a bit darker and more realistic. And this gave me that completely. There were things that were creepy, weird and challenged the way I thought about things.
Strangely the book doesn’t have the fabulous reviews I was expecting – a bit of a love it or hate it one I’m guessing. But if this is your thing and you liked Beautiful Broken Things, read this book!

The Last Thing I Remember by Deborah Bee – 5.5/10 (Kindle version)*

This book is one that I can only describe as fine – I wouldn’t go so far as to say I really enjoyed it, but I also wouldn’t say I was bored by it or found it a difficult read, it was neither here nor there for me. It was predictable, which I like sometimes, had the alternating chapter sequence I usually quite like, but felt a little stilted.
Sarah is in a coma, barely conscious but slowly regaining consciousness, hearing bits and pieces of what’s happening around her and feeling the presence of people there. But she doesn’t remember how she got there.
Her confused chapters alternate with Kelly’s – a foul mouthed teenage neighbour who visits Sarah. I found her character a little conflicting – or maybe I just couldn’t relate to her – so it was a little odd to read. The stories of course bounce off each other as Kelly and Sarah both try to figure out what’s going on, Sarah from inside her comatose state, Kelly on the outside.
The story definitely has a good premise and a small twist, but in the main part, it dragged just a little bit for me.

Ageless by Paul Inman – 5.5/10 (Kindle version)*

Another promising book with an excellent premise that I just got stuck on, sigh! Doesn’t a book about someone who never ages, or at least does very slowly, sound awesome? Like I said, an excellent premise, but it just dragged for me a bit.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of chase happening in this book – Alessandra, the “ageless” woman, is trying to stay away from the authorities who are constantly on high alert for her, trying to bring her back in. And I’m afraid the “chase” just doesn’t really do it for me.
The POVs in this alternate again, you see Aless in her life now, her life at various points when she was younger, and perspectives of those around her, with the main one being her chasers. It quickly becomes apparent that she was kept in a Nazi experimentation unit due to her unnatural life when she was younger and escaped, hence the reason for her fleeing. I found the parts of her younger life and history really interesting – terrifying, but interesting – but her “now” life a little less so.
It was a pretty good read, and I really love the fact that it’s an Inkshares book, but just wasn’t a favourite for me.

Thin Air by Michelle Paver – 9/10 (Kindle version)* (to be released 6th Oct)

I don’t know when or why this happened, but I have become a little obsessed with books like Thin Air – ones that detail a difficult, physical, journey across some kind of desolate landscape such as mountain climbing, across the Arctic, alone at the bottom of the sea or on Mars. A few examples of others I put in this category that I’ve loved are:
The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton (reviewed here)
The Deep by Nick Cutter (reviewed here)
The Martian by Andy Weir (reviewed here)
Thin Air follows a team of mountaineers in 1935 attempting to scale the heights of Kangchenjunga, a mountain that famously claimed the lives of five men in the Lyell expedition in 1907 and by 1935 had never yet been defeated. Our main character is Stephen Pearce who has been brought on the expedition as the medic, with his brother Kits, a few other men and a large pack of sherpas to assist them. The brothers are in constant competition and have climbed together since their youth, so alongside the various different sides of the story showing the technical side of climbing, the terrifying and exhilarating experiences, and the fear and creepiness, you also get the somewhat fraught relationship between the brothers.
There’s just something about the bleakness, the sheer depth of the isolation and the unfamiliarity of this terrain to me that I love in this book. Put that alongside the fact that it’s a mix of psychological thriller and ghost story, and you’ve got a winner.
I’m planning to read Paver’s Dark Matter in future now which is an Arctic expedition – right up my street at the moment!

The Other Side of Gravity by Shelly Crane – 7/10 (Kindle version)*

The Other Side of Gravity wasn’t exactly what I predicted it to be – based on the description I was thinking parallel worlds with different gravities, boy meets girl, they can’t physically exist together etc. It was still boy meets girl, but it was in a new world, on a different planet, where gravity and oxygen don’t exist, where you have to pay ridiculous taxes on everything and if you can’t afford them, you must become a slave, where men and women are not allowed to interact freely. Told from a dual POV, Maxton is part of the militia and Sophelia is a slave. You can see where this is going!
I liked this book, it was good, but it wasn’t amazing. It was quite stereotypical YA boy meets girl, but in an entirely different setting. I do like reading these kind of books so it was a nice easy read for me. And it left me on a lovely cliffhanger so, of course, I just have to read the next one when it’s out.

* Titles marked with a star were provided for review by publishers.

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