Monday, 28 August 2017

August Wrap-Up: #BookReviews of August #BookHaul

The books on my to-read list for August were as follows, with my reviews:

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

My 14-year-old niece has been pestering me for a couple of years now, to read this book. Or at least, read my first Patrick Ness book. So, when I saw this book in my local library and recalled that it had recently been adapted for the big screen, I thought I'd pick it up. Needless to say, both my niece and I were looking forward to me reading this short novel. 

It's categorised as a Young Adult book, but since my niece read it a couple of years ago, I'd say it's probably aimed more towards younger readers, or at least, more suitable for them. "It's best not to know too much about what the book's about," advised my niece when I texted her to let her know I'd borrowed this book. And so, I decided to go into this book with an open mind and little knowledge about what it's about. How I prefer it, anyway!

My Rating: 3-stars

I finished this one in one sitting ~ it's a quick read, and I enjoyed it. It is very different to the other YA books I've read recently, in terms of writing style, but I really liked the way the story was told. It's very clever and emotional. Ness isn't an award winning author for no reason!

I want to read other books by him now, and I will be on the look out for his YA dystopian series, the Chaos Walking trilogy; it sounds great. The titles for his books are so cool (e.g. The Knife of Never Letting Goand I can see why he's a favourite amongst teenagers and young adults.

I think that if I'd read A Monster Calls when I was much younger, i.e. when I was in my teens, I would have liked it more and rated it higher back then. Still, it's worth a read if you're in your 30s, too!

Seconds Away (Mickey Bolitar #2) by Harlan Coben

This was the second and last book I borrowed from the library in August ~ strangely enough, not many books are catching my eye lately. Back in May, I'd attributed this to my reading slump, but perhaps I've now gone through all the books in the YA and teen section of my library that I wanted to read?


When I picked this up, I didn't know it was the second book in the Mickey Bolitar series, a spin-off series to the Myron Bolitar series, one of my favourite crime thriller series of all time. It wasn't clear on the front or back of the cover. But I've read the Myron Bolitar series out of order, and I didn't find it too off-putting...

Myron Bolitar is a sports agent that also ends up investigating and solving crimes, from murders and missing persons to entrapment of dangerous gangsters. In one of the last couple of books I read in that series, his teenage nephew Mickey was introduced. Therefore, I was looking forward to reading Harlan Coben's foray into the YA mystery/thriller genre.

My Rating: 3-stars

This book was another quick read, though it's not a novella, just really accessible, like all of Coben's books. I love Coben's writing style and for his YA series, he has adapted it slightly for younger readers.

16-year-old Mickey is just as likeable, witty and sarcastic as his Uncle Myron, but he doesn't seem to realise ~ as teenagers usually don't ~ just how like his uncle he is. Myron has plenty of cameo appearances in this book, but Mickey, with his high school friends/sidekicks, is the real star detective in this series.

But it's not just a book about a bunch of teens solving crimes ~ there is a running plot thread throughout the series, which gives it an added dimension.

I enjoyed this book, so if I spot the other books in this series, I'll definitely give them a go.

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas

I downloaded this book ~ which needs no introduction since I've talked a lot about the Throne of Glass series on my blog ~ on my iPhone because I couldn't wait for my library to start stocking it. As it's the fifth book in the series, I can't say much about its plot and so on, apart from the fact that this series is probably my favourite High Fantasy series of all time. Then again, I haven't read that many High Fantasy novels...

My Rating: 4-stars

I was nervous about starting this one, perhaps that's why I didn't ask my local library if they had this book in their other branches around the country (if their counterparts in other towns stock a book a user is interested it, my library arranges for that book to be posted to them, which is really cool!) and why I didn't download it myself until now.

Why was I delaying the reading of this book? Well, I've heard that a lot of Throne of Glass fans didn't like/enjoy this book as much as the others in the series. I tried to avoid learning about their reasons, so not to spoil myself, but unfortunately I did find out one of the reasons some readers weren't digging this book that much: a beloved character didn't feature in this book, at all. But I really didn't mind that ~ I didn't like that character to begin with ~ and so I had no qualms about their omission from this book.

And I really, really enjoyed Empire of Storms. Every chapter, every story arc, every character, the supporting characters more than the lead protagonist, even though she is one of my favourite female fiction characters.

This book had action and drama and thrills and everything else you expect in a Sarah J. Maas book. My favourite thing about SJM's writing is how she really takes the time and makes the effort to develop her supporting cast of characters. They have interesting pasts and grow and change and really influence the story line, driving it forward just as much as the lead protagonist.

In this book in particular, I think SJM did a brilliant job with the peripheral characters, all having a role to play and pushing the story forward. I didn't once find myself skimming through chapters or sections that were from the supporting cast's POV so that I could get to the lead characters, which sometimes can happen if the sub-plots and peripheral characters aren't interesting enough.

My favourite thing about this book was that my favourite character from the entire series had more page time, and that I also got to add a new character to my list of those I'm a fan of, though I'd started really liking this character in the previous book, Queen of Shadows.

I can't wait to see what happens in the series finale, which I think will be Book 7 (not Book 6), though I think it might not be out for a couple of years. Book 6 in the series ~ Tower of Dawn ~ I believe started off as a novella about what that beloved character that didn't feature in Empire of Storms was up to while the events of Empire of Storms were taking place. But then it got developed into a full-length novel.

I'm sure I'll get around to reading it, but if it's solely about that character's adventure, and doesn't continue the story from where Empire of Storms left off... I don't think I'll be requesting it at my local library too soon after it has been released.

Relentless (Relentless #1) by Karen Lynch

I downloaded this urban fantasy novel from the Kindle Store. It's a free series starter about 17-year-old Sara and her efforts of unearthing the truth behind her father's brutal murder 10 years ago. She has many secrets and a powerful gift, but her investigation brings her face-to-face with an evil vampire. But it's okay because she meets Nikolas, a fierce warrior intent on protecting her!

My Rating: 3-stars

This is one for Shadowhunter fans ~ I think they'll find the world in this story easy to get into because it's not too dissimilar to Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunter universe. At the time of writing this review, Relentless had a 4.31 average rating (out of 5) on Goodreads, and around 4.5/5 on Amazon US. So readers are lapping it up. I wouldn't say that I loved it as much as everyone else, though. And it's not because of the similarities to the Shadowhunter Chronicles ~ I think that if a formula works, then there's nothing too wrong with authors doing their retellings of a popular series/story, with their own spin on it. Relentless felt like Lynch's take on City of Bones, Book 1 of the Mortal Instruments series (part of Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunter Chronicles)

Like I said, I don't mind it when authors follow a formula that works. If done well, obviously. I enjoyed the first couple of books in the Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, which felt like Twilight but with aliens instead of vampires. My main issue with Relentless was the origin story behind the 'Mohiri', the special warrior race that this novel revolves around. It just didn't make sense to me. I can't get into more detail about what I mean by this without spoiling you, not just when it comes to this book, but also the Mortal Instruments series, so if you don't want to be spoiled for either, just skip the text below in bold.

So, in the Shadowhunter universe, you have the Shadowhunters (skilled demon hunters) and the Shadow World (this comprises all manner of supernatural creatures), which co-exists with the 'mundane world' (what unsuspecting humans think of as the real world). In Relentless, you have the Mohiri (skilled vampire hunters) and the Peoples (supernatural creatures).

How did the Shadowhunters come to be? Well, the angel Raziel came down from heaven and gave a human ~ Jonathan Shadowhunter ~ his blood, which made him the first Shadowhunter, made him stronger and faster and able to kill demons and protect the world. All of Jonathan's descendants are born with Shadowhunter blood and train to become demon hunters. That makes sense to me. No issues there with that origin story.

The Mohiri were created by an angel, too. Not Raziel, obviously, but this angel didn't share his blood with humans. No, he implanted a demon ~ yes, a demon! ~ into a human, and that gave the human what he needed to hunt and destroy vampires. And all his descendants, all Mohiri, are born with a demon living inside them, a demon they have to control, keep from taking over their minds and bodies, while using its strength and speed, etc. This, I couldn't get my head around:

Why would an angel insert a demon into a human? If I were the angel, I'd insert something good in the human, not something evil, like my angelic blood, for instance. But then I'd be accused of copying Raziel from the Shadowhunter Chronicles! That won't do. Oh well, it'll make sense to let something evil live inside mankind's saviours.


Though the demon element does add some extra drama ~ having to control the demon inside, trying to be good and not evil ~ it just didn't make sense to me.

And my issue with the origin story kept niggling away at me throughout the book, and that might be why I just couldn't get into the story. My mind kept wandering while I read, and I found myself skimming through loads of pages ~ there was a lot of inner monologue that I found a bit annoying. I might have enjoyed this book if these two issues weren't present, but like I said, readers of this series really are loving it!

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg

When I downloaded the Kindle App on my iPhone a while back, they gave me the opportunity to download up to 10 Kindle Books for free from a selection of popular titles. This book was one of them. It's about a magician's apprentice who learns how to manipulate paper with magic from a strange yet kind mentor. And when her mentor's life is in danger, she has to try and save him, facing dark and terrible magic.

My Rating: 3-stars

This book was one of the strangest I've ever read, and for a while after reading it, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. It's really different to everything I've read in the last few years, and I think it's aimed more towards adults rather than young adults and teens.

The thing is, I can't tell you why it was so weird without spoiling it for you, but it is interesting enough that I would suggest you give it a go if the book description appeals to you, just to see what it's about.

Dragon Marked (Supernatural Prison #1) by Jaymin Eve

Another one I picked from the Kindle App free offer. I don't read fantasy novels about shifters, but thought I'd give this a try. The cover was pretty and the description was interesting enough. It sounds like a prison break book ~ a couple of wolf shifters thrown into prison to prevent an ancient prophecy from coming true are trying to break out of the supernatural prison that contains all kinds of magical creatures.

My Rating: 3.5-stars rounded up to 4-stars on Goodreads

I actually really liked this one, even though shifter books aren't ones I'd reach for. The last time I read a shifter book was maybe 2012?

But this one was really good from the beginning, and a pleasant surprise, because I didn't expect to like it as much as I did, because of the shifter aspect. Like Relentless, it had a whole host of supernatural creatures, but I found these more interesting.

Why did I round it up to 4-stars and not round it down? Well, I liked this one more than the other 3-star reads this month. But it wasn't as good or enjoyable as Empire of Storms, which I read this month and awarded 4-stars to, hence my actual rating is 3.5-stars and not a whole 4. Make sense? Yeah? Good :)

Thank you for reading this post. If you're interested in my debut novel, click the image below to learn more about it:

Like all my other books, it's also available on:
iBooks   |   B&N Nook   |   Kobo |   Smashwords 

Book Details

Length: 110,000 words
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Clean Romance / Diverse Romance / Interracial Romance / Romantic Drama / Women’s Fiction

Mood: Inspirational / Feel Good / Coming of Age / Dark
Content: Sexy but No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: New Adult & College / Adult / Female Readers

Recommended for: Readers that enjoy romance novels with serious issues and characters with depth. This is a story about life, love, friendship, family, music, art, destiny and soul mates.

And the first two books in my teen urban fantasy/YA paranormal romance series, the Poison Blood series, can be downloaded for free via:

Amazon US|  Amazon UK|   iBooks US UK   |   B&N Nook Store   |   Smashwords

PB1 Book Details
Length: 29,000 words
GenreYA Paranormal Romance / Teen Vampire Romance / Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy / Teen & YA Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy / Supernatural Romance / Fantasy Romance
Mood: Dark / Humorous / Coming of age
Content: No violence / No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: Teen / Young Adult / New Adult / Adult
Recommended for: Readers that love all things related to the Chosen One, vampires, slayers and witches!

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