Tuesday, 30 August 2016

BOOK REVIEW - The Gender Game

Title: The Gender Game
Author: Bella Forrest
Published by: NightLight Press
Publication date: 24th September 2016
Genres: Teens, YA, Dystopia 
Format: Kindle
Source: Advanced reading copy from the publisher.

It isn't that this book is terrible... oh wait, yes it is. 

[watch out, spoilers ahead!]

The Gender Game puts us into a dystopian world where two cities are divided by gender and a toxic river; In Patrus it's the males who rule the city, with females having about as many rights as dogs, whereas in Matrus the females are in charge and weed out any males who they think show "undesirable" traits and send them to work in the mines.
The story focuses on Violet, a juvenile delinquent who ends up in a detention centre in the Matrus city after her brother fails their all-important test and gets taken away.

Right from the start I disliked Violet immensely. We're meant to connect to this extremely angry, aggressive, self-centred and violent teenage girl, and I just couldn't do it. She gets into fight after fight putting herself in danger and her future at stake all because she's so pigheaded and stupid.
We find out that Violet was originally sent to the detention centre after she committed "womanslaughter" and accidentally killed another girl with a fork during a fight. 

"In many ways, being imprisoned had been the best thing that could have happened to me."
And everyone bloody else by the sounds of it, you psycho!

Violent... ooops, I meant Violet then gets moved to a new detention centre and vowes to finally keep her head down and stay out of trouble. Yet what happens on her very first morning? 
Yup, she only goes and accidentally kills yet another girl (this time with some braces?!). 
Of course she does.
Seriously, I have no sympathy for this character! 

This latest teensy-snafoo lands poor Violet with a death sentence.
But luckily for our heroine the Queen of Matrus has been waiting for the perfect teenage psychopath to send on a very special mission on which their whole future rides! 
She is offered the chance to take on this important task and in exchange all of her previous, horrible acts will be forgotten.


At no point in the book is it explained why this task was given to an imprisoned orphan with a history of violence rather than a trained professional.
The mind boggles. 

"...a convict who had no experience in matters of robbery or espionage."

The story then follows our intrepid traveller as she makes her way over to male-ruled Patrus with the task of stealing back a precious item that they previously stole from Matrus.

We get to follow Violet around as she makes mistakes, does stupid things and continuously puts herself in danger.
At one point she comes extremely close to being either beaten up, killed or raped by a group of Patrus men who think she's a "stray" (a female with no husband). All she would have to do to get out of this situation would be to hold up her hand and show them she was wearing a ring, but noooooo.
Not our Violet!
Because she "never backs down to bully's!"
Oh, come on girl! Stop being a stubborn moron all the time.

Other than precious Violet, the other characters of note were the cliché love interest Viggo - a ruggedly handsome cage fighter with a soft side. *yawn* and the extremely one dimensional Lee, who does, admittedly, get a little more interesting towards the end. 

From about 60% I could bear it no longer and skim-read the rest of this.
Though, to be honest, most of it was just lengthy descriptions of fights (I'm talking pages and pages of it), so I doubt I missed out on much there.

The most interesting part of this book for me was 'The Green'. 
A huge toxic forest, where the air is poisonous and the wildlife is extremely dangerous and strange.
This, however, was the thing least mentioned in The Gender Game. We only got to spend a few pages there and no explanation was given about the place.

I guess we might get to learn more about it in the next instalment, but as I definitely won't be carrying on with this series I shall always be left wondering...

Old Wives' Tales.

  • If a black cat walks towards you then it brings good luck, but if it walks away then it takes the luck with it.
  • If you spill pepper you will very soon have a serious argument with a close friend.
  • If a child is sick you should tie a red ribbon on them to stop the disease from spreading.
  • A swarm of bees settling on your roof is a sign that your house will burn down.
  • A bird getting into your house is a sign of death.
  • Ivy growing on a house protects those who live there from evil.
  • Pulling out a grey/white hair will cause 10 more to grow in its place.
  • Warts come from washing your hands in water which has been used to boil eggs.
  • Always leave a house by the same door you used to enter it, otherwise you will have bad luck.
  • It is bad luck to cut your finger nails on a Friday or Sunday.
  • If you catch a falling leaf on the first day of Autumn then you won't catch a cold all winter.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

BOOK REVIEW - The Bone Witch

Title: The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication date: 7th March 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-fi, Teens, YA
Format: Kindle
Source: Advanced reading copy from the publisher.
Amazon UK ** Amzon US ** Goodreads

Oh my gosh, this book!
This book!

With a description that contains the phrase "Memoirs of a Geisha meets The Name of the Wind" I went into this book with such high expectations, but fully expecting it to be nothing close to either of them. 
When a book is compared to two of my all time favourites I'm going to be on my guard.

"Sometimes it is good to remind ourselves how bitterness tastes."- Tea
How wrong I was.

Rin Chupeco takes the best bits from each and combines them into something new and magically thrilling to form The Bone Witch.
I was honestly sighing in contentment the whole way through this!

This book tells the tale of Tea; a newly discovered Bone Witch (or Dark asha to be more polite). Her powers are realised by all, including herself, when she accidentally raises her dead brother back to life in the middle of his funeral.
Tea is then swept off far from home by a fellow Dark asha to The Willows, where all asha live, are trained and entertain with their vast range of skills (dancing, singing, music playing). Asha are much like traditional Geisha, except that they are gifted with magic, allowing them to use runes in order to access elemental magic. 
Asha are respected and admired by all, except if you're a Dark asha that is.
Dark asha are tasked with fighting the monstrous Daeva, which no one else are able to kill. But despite this they are generally hated and reviled by all. 

The world building in this book was truly excellent, with descriptions that managed to paint fully formed images in my mind. I could almost believe that the Willows were a real place and am now desperate to visit and witness the beautiful asha dances for myself!

The characters were equally as brilliant.
Despite Tea suffering from "special snowflake" syndrome, I really warmed to her as a character. I loved the way the story was told by her looking back on her life and the chapters alternated between present day where she's telling her story to a bard (and she seems like a total badass by the way!), and looking back at her past and how she got to where she is now.
I loved the relationship between Tea and her brother, and am really looking forward to reading more about it after the hints that were given towards the end of the book.

Other favourite characters include, the wise Mykaela:

"There is no greater strength then the ability to understand and accept your flaws".
And another standout for me was the loud, boisterous, larger-than-life character of Rahim the hua maker (traditional asha clothes). He was just so much fun!
"...In Tresea, the men wear fur, but not in the fashionable ways. We kill the bears, the possums, the beavers, and then we stick them on the head, like so." He gestured. "Boring and unappealing. So I move here to Kion, where the clothes have shape and the hats do not stare back."
More Rahim please!

From going into this book with such high expectations, I was not let down in the slightest and enjoyed every last page!

I don't know how I'm going to cope waiting so long for the next instalment! 

Thursday, 25 August 2016

BOOK REVIEW - There May Be a Castle

Title: There May Be a Castle
Author: Piers Torday
Published by: Quercus Children's Books
Publication date: 6th October 2016
Genres: Middle Grade, Children's Fiction
Format: Kindle
Source: Advanced reading copy from the publisher.
Amazon UK **Amazon US **Goodreads

It's Christmas.
And Mouse hates Christmas.
This Christmas is particularly awful because Mouse has to spend hours in the car with his older sister Violet, who's dressed as a pirate, and his baby sister Esme, who keeps shouting "Easta!" at the rapidly falling snow flakes.
But things take an unexpected turn when Mouse's mum looses control of the car in the snow after being hit by a flying dinosaur.
Mouse is thrown from the car and tumbles into a whole new (and scary) world. This world is filled with a whole host of fantastical characters such as a sarcastic one eyed horse called Nonky, a friendly sheep called Bar (because that's all she can say), a giant robotic dinosaur, a mildly irritating Minstrel who weirdly reminds Mouse of his Dad, and a terrifying Knight dressed in bright pink armour. 
And of course, there may be a castle...

This book surprised me completely.
Its a story about the startling power of imagination and how we can achieve remarkable things if we just imagine that we can. 
It's a story about love, family, and the staggering things we are able to endure in order to protect them.
It's a story about life and death.

It's a story you should read.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

BOOK REVIEW - Summerlong

Title: Summerlong
Author: Peter S. Beagle
Published by: Tachyon Publications
Publication date: 30th September 2016
Genres: Literary Fiction, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Format: Kindle
Source: Advanced reading copy from the publisher.

Summerlong is the story of Abe and Joanna; a middle aged couple living near Seattle between their two homes. The story starts when they meet the mysterious and beautiful (seriously, she's likened to Botticelli's Primavera on multiple occasions) Lioness Lazos, who is the newest waitress at their favourite restaurant. The couple feel instantly and helplessly drawn to Lioness and end up leaving the restaurant having invited her to live in their garage rent free. This is mainly due to Lioness getting all sad eyed about being cold and needing to live someplace warm as she just.can't.stand.the.cold.
As time passes the couple start to realise that Lioness is hiding something (they suspect that she's running away from someone) and that she's also not quite "normal".
The story follows the bumps and troubles of Abe and Joanna's relationship and how things change between them after they let Lioness into their lives. This normal, everyday story is seamlessly blended with Greek mythology to form and interesting (if somewhat dull) mix of the two.


This is a well written story which flows well between real-life happenings and interesting mythology. Its a very subtle fantasy book which would work well for people who may not necessarily be fans of the fantasy genre normally.
It holds onto its secrets, keeping you guessing for quite a while as to who Lioness really is and where she came from.


There is just not enough fantasy or magic in this story.
At least not for me.

The whole thing seemed rather mundane and boring, which is surprising when it includes some really interesting characters! 
I just don't understand how you can write a book about characters from Greek mythology and think, "Hey, you know whats interesting? Harmonicas!" what?!
There was too much focus on the relationship between Abe and Joanna. Sure, reading about a middle aged couple is kind of refreshing for me, but Lioness was so much more fascinating and yet her character seemed like it was hardly explored.

Also, nothing happens to the two main characters.
By the end of the book they both seem to think that their lives have changed dramatically and that nothing will be the same because of meeting Lioness, but seriously? 
The changes in their lives (Abe joining a Blues band and Joanna taking up Kayaking) would have happened anyway, even without Lioness factoring in. 
The other things that happen while Lioness is around are so laughably minor and insignificant that I can't see why they make any difference at all?
Abe does make a huge mistake towards the end of the book (which obviously does come with consequences) but other than this one thing, nothing of any real interest actually happens. 

So, to sum up...

Pick this one up if you fancy an easy, well written, sometimes dull story about the relationship between two middled aged people who meet a pretty girl one day. 
And nothing happens.