Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: By a Charm and a Curse (Jaime Questell)

Questell, Jaime - By A Charm And A Curse

★★★★★★☆

Title: By a Charm and a Curse
Author: Jaime Questell
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Young Adult
First published: 6 February 2018 by Entangled Publishing LLC
Edition: ARC e-book, courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher

I had no expectations going into this young adult novel. I thought the blurp sounded interesting and that was enough for me. I have to say it exceeded my expectations. The circus part reminded me of The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern), which is a book I loved, but the story is simpler, the characters less complicated. However, that does not mean it is any less charming.

I felt for Emma as she is lured into a kiss on a Ferris wheel with dire consequences. I liked the idea of the curse that also acts as a charm. The story pulled me in pretty quickly and I connected with Emma quite easily. There were a few times where I questioned Emma’s thoughts, considering what she was going though, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed both Emma and Benjamin’s POVs.

I would thoroughly recommend Jaime Questell’s novel to any YA reader. It is a little gem.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Grace of Kings (Ken Liu)

Liu, Ken - The Dandelion Dynasty 1 The Grace of Kings

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: The Dandelion Dynasty #1: The Grace of Kings
Author: Ken Liu
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
First published: 2015
Edition: Paperback, published in 2016 by Head of Zeus

Sometimes you see merit in the book you are reading, but you cannot quite connect with it. You know, when the writing is good, but the story with its themes is simply not for you? That is how I feel about The Grace of Kings.

In many ways this is a very well written book. The battles, the politics and the intrigues are really well thought out, but I feel there lies the problem for me. Apart from the character building of some of the main characters, the characters felt overshadowed by political plots and the corruption of power.

I like a good battle and a bit of political intrigue as much as the next person, but for me that was all this book was about for much of the story and there was simply too much for it for my taste. At some points I was really impressed with the writing, at others it dragged. It ran too far into ‘dry’ territory at various points and found it hard to keep reading at times.

The Grace of Kings has plenty of merit and I can see how people love this series, but unfortunately it is not for me and I will not be continuing The Dandelion Dynasty.

4 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Wishful Drinking (Carrie Fisher)

Fisher, Carrie - Wishful Drinking

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: Wishful Drinking
Author: Carrie Fisher
Genre: Non-Fiction / Memoir / Autobiography
First published: 2008
Edition: Kindle

Carrie Fisher was one of those people that was never boring. Whenever she did an interview her wit and charm shone through. She was delightfully mad and gloriously eccentric and it’s a crying shame she is not around anymore…

Wishful drinking is a rather whimsical memoir, adapted from a stand-up show, and you can tell. You can almost hear her tell the story and it made me want to listen to this in audio-form. Maybe one day I will, because I am sure she tells it well.

Nothing about Carrie’s life was ordinary and she tells her stories of growing up with celebrity parents, her husbands and battling her addiction with self-depreciation and dry wit. You cannot help but fall in love with her as a person reading this book.

I just wish there was more to it. It just missed a certain je ne sais quoi. I just found myself thinking when it was finished ‘Oh, ok, was that it?’. Much as I enjoyed reading it, I just felt I needed a bit more. Nevertheless, if you like Carrie, this book is worth reading, just because her voice comes across so well in it.

4 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Children's Books · Reviews

Children’s Book Thoughts: Phoebe and her Unicorn in The Magic Storm (Dana Simpson)

Simpson, Dana - Phoebe and her Unicorn in The Magic Storm

★★★★★★☆

Title: Phoebe and her Unicorn in The Magic Storm
Author: Dana Simpson
Genre: Graphic Novel / Children’s
First published: to be published on 17 October 2017 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Edition: ARC e-book via NetGalley

What a delight this is! It is a wonderfully illustrated graphic novel aimed at middle grade children. It was the cover that pulled me in when I was browsing NetGalley. Simple and effective.

Phoebe and her unicorn are investigating why the electricity and magic are not working anymore. It is a lovely story of friendship and I loved it from beginning to end. Kudos to the author/artist as well for showing same-sex parenting as a very normal thing, which is as it so should be!

Even though I am clearly not the intended audience, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and raced through it. I know several children who would love this book and I would definitely recommend it as an awesome gift!

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Can You Keep A Secret? (Sophie Kinsella)

Kinsella, Sophie - Can You Keep A Secret

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: Can You Keep A Secret?
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Genre: Romance / Chick Lit
First published: 2004
Edition: Mass Market Paperback, published by Bantam Dell in 2006

Did the story blow my mind? No. Did it surprise me? No. Was the writing amazing? No. Will I read it again? No.

Having said that, all the above does not really matter, because it was definitely a fun read! It made me smile and it made my world fluffy and bright while I was reading it. What more would I want? I liked the narrative voice a lot. I could relate to Emma, even if I thought she was a complete idiot. Her beau not so much, but there you go.

Chick lit is not my favourite genre, but I have started to read more of it. I do enjoy it, but it does not stimulate me in the way some other genres do. Yet, I think it should have a place in my reading habits. It’s nice every now and then. I will definitely read something by Sophie Kinsella again. I definitely liked her writing style in this book.

A perfect book to go into my guest library!

4 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Burial at Thebes (Seamus Heaney, Sophocles)

Heaney, Seamus - The Burial at Thebes

★★★★★☆☆

Title: The Burial At Thebes: Sophocles’ Antigone
Author: Seamus Heaney (adaptation)
Genre: Poetry / Play
First published: 2004
Edition: Paperback, published by Faber & Faber in 2005

It took me few pages before I got into this short story of verses, but when it ended I felt sad it had. This is a sad story of a new king who won’t allow an opposing warrior a proper burial. When Antigone, the warrior’s sister performs burial rites despite it being forbidden, she is sentenced to death.

I had not expected to like this as much as I did. My rating is hesitant as I am not sure how to rate such a short, but powerful work of tragedy. It was classical, but very readable. I have not read the original, so I cannot compare, but it makes me want to check it out, and when adaptations do that, it is a wonderful thing.

I thoroughly enjoyed this little book and I have rated it as such.  I am glad I finally picked it off my shelves to read.

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Waterloo Story (Peter Prince)

Prince, Peter - Waterloo Story

★★★☆☆☆☆

Title: Waterloo Story
Author: Peter Prince
Genre: Fiction
First published: 1998
Edition: Paperback, published by Bloomsbury in 1998

This is a rather peculiar book written from the perspective of a young man who is recovering from mental health problems. This is his story about a company and the people who work there in the department with him.

It is not the kind of story I normally read and I cannot remember why I bought this book back in the late nineties. Maybe because I liked the cover? Or the title? Maybe both…

Fact is, nothing much happens in this book and yet, I did not mind reading it. It’s very strange. I liked the narrative voice of a middle aged man reminiscing after a chance encounter, and the descriptions of the characters that peopled his younger days at Hughes & Hughes.

Waterloo Story is not a bad book. I did not dislike it and it is an easy enough read, but I do wonder at its purpose. I just don’t quite get the reasons for its existence.

3 out of 7 stars