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Char :)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

***Review*** The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2) by Philip Pullman

On the Back of the Book
Will is twelve years old and he’s just killed a man. Now he’s on his own, on the run, determined to discover the truth about his father’s disappearance.
Then Will steps through a window in the air into another world, and finds himself with a companion – a strange, savage little girl called Lyra. Like Will, she has a mission which she intends to carry out at all costs.
But the world of Cittagazze is a strange and unsettling place. Deadly soul-eating Spectres stalk its streets, while high above, the wingbeats of distant angels sound high against the sky. And in the mysterious Torre degli Angeli lurks Cittagazze’s most important secret – an object which people from many world’s would kill to possess...

Pre Read Thoughts
After reading ‘Northern Lights’ I knew that I wanted to read this, well that and I always try to read series together. This is once again for the ‘Banned Books’ challenge on GR although it’s a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. Once again I bought this at my local BHF (British Heart Foundation) charity shop. I cost me £1 and is in alright condition. My cover depicts the subtle knife and there’s an illustration of a town which is quite possibly Cittagazze. It’s nice but not eye catching. What a synopsis though! The first sentence has me wanting to open this book so fast you wouldn’t believe it. Definitely can’t wait for this.
Post Read Thoughts
I feel disappointed that the story wasn’t cranked up a notch in this instalment. The plot could have been blown wide open but it wasn’t and I was waiting for it. It took ages for the pace to pick up and the fact that this is part 2 of a trilogy meant that I wanted huge story developments. Instead all I got was a couple of pretty average plot twists that I saw coming from a mile off and that took some of my enjoyment of the book away. On the plus side the writing itself was just as amazing as it was in Northern Lights and I could fully picture the events of the book in my head. It’s one of my favourite things about this trilogy so far, along with the awesome theories that author keeps coming up with.
Will is the main character in this book and I’m not sure that I like him as I do Lyra. Don’t get me wrong, he’s well written and easy to connect with but I just preferred Lyra. She’s in this book though and it was great to see her grow as a character. She’s going to be a teenager soon and she’s beginning to mature and be able to deal with adult situations in a sensible manner. I can’t wait to see what happens with a new character called Dr Mary Malone and there was a scene with Lee Scoresby that brought tears to my eyes.
Overall I think that I prefer book 1 as it had more to it that I enjoyed. The slow pace and the difficulty to get into this are major down sides for me as I like to be sucked into a story.  As I said before the writing and the world building are amazing, it’s just that I feel the author would benefit from opening a story in a gripping way. Although the slow burners that he does write draw you in without you realising it.
My Rating
3 stars – it’s not bad, it’s just that it’s not amazing either. It’s good and when there are so many stories that are more than just ‘good’ out there who wants to settle for it? The addition of Will may make boys enjoy this as I feel they’ll relate to him better than Lyra. These are turning into good books if you want your kids to develop their imaginations.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

***Review*** Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

On the Back of the Book

My copy doesn’t say anything... so for one review only we’re going to visit Goodreads.

(Goodreads Description)

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners--one of the most popular novels of all time--that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the "most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author's works," and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as "irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be."

Pre Read Thoughts

This is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read for ages and never found the time to sit down and do so. So with a half finished blanket (see Wuthering Heights review) and winter fast approaching I thought I’d get an audiobook and get down to work. I’m also reading this for a favourites challenge on GR. I bought a physical copy of the book at my local RSPCA charity shop for £1.25 as I like knowing what page I’m on and the money went to help some poor, unfortunate animals. My cover is rather dull, with just a small picture of Mr Darcy on the cover. There isn’t a synopsis either which is more than a tad annoying.

Post Read Thoughts

I celebrated finishing this. I wasn’t a fan of it at all. In my opinion nothing actually happened I personally believe that I could’ve written the whole book in a sentence. Actually that sounds like a challenge, a challenge I simply must take up. So here we go, Pride and Prejudice in a sentence.

“One day Elizabeth Bennet met Mr Darcy, they hated each other for a while but eventually fell in love with one another and got married.”

Job done. I don’t get why Jane wasted so much time on it. Since she did though I should probably review it. The writing style didn’t capture my attention and even listening to it didn’t help. My attention kept wandering to the good looking chaps on my bedroom wall. I did get sick of hearing of ‘politeness’ though and if I ever hear the word ‘civility’ again I may have to hunt you down.

The characters. I have no idea what to say about them except I didn’t really like any of them. I wanted to drown them in a vat of something especially Mrs Bennet. Oh Lord! Does that woman know when to shut up? I couldn’t bear her and I was sick of hearing about her nerves. She was so two-faced and she had no idea of what her kids were feeling. Mr Bennet wasn’t much better. He spent his life in a different room because he was foolish and chose his wife because of her pretty face. They both have favourite children and that isn’t right. Surely it affected them all.

The narrator of my audiobook was okay. I liked her although her voice started to grate on me occasionally. If it wasn’t for her though, I’d still be stuck on page 88. The other major plus is that I can do other stuff at the same time. I personally like to crochet. I did mention the blanket. It’s still not finished. I’m going to need another book.

Overall I’m not fond of this book, though I know plenty of people that love it. If you want a classic love story like this then I’m actually going to suggest Wuthering Heights which has a better story. I’m not sure what would improve the story for me... maybe some zombies... now there’s an idea! I actually think that if you’re a fan of classic love stories you’ll have already read this but maybe you could revisit it and tell me what I’m missing.

My Rating

2 stars – Not my cup of tea I’m afraid. It didn’t grab me and the only reason that I managed to finish it is my audiobook. I won’t try to talk you out of reading this if you really want to but if you like some action in stories, you’ve took a wrong turning somewhere because there isn’t any here.

Monday, 21 November 2011

***Review*** Northern Lights (His Dark Materials #1) – Philip Pullman

On the Back of the Book

When Lyra’s friend Roger disappears, she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him. The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies – and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about.

Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her – something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights...

Pre Read Thoughts

I have so many book that I’ve been meaning to read for years and this is one of them. I finally decided to read this when I realised that the whole trilogy had been challenged and I’m taking part in a “Banned Books” challenge on GR. I bought the book ages ago at my local British Heart Foundation charity shop for the princely sum of £1.50. The cover I have is quite dull and is possibly part of the reason why it’s been sat on my shelf for so long. The synopsis makes the book sound amazing and I can’t wait to read it.

Post Read Thoughts

I liked this book but it took a while for me to get into it and that really held it back for me. Some of the ideas were really intriguing and I love the idea of having an animal form of yourself (the daemons). The theories about Dust as they arose really caught my attention. The author is really good at his craft as I had no problem picturing scenes and I found myself being flooded with the emotions of Lyra. I’ll tell you more about her in a few moments. The whole journey is well depicted except for one scene but even that manages to work itself into the book’s favour.

Lyra is the main character and I really connected with her. She had some qualities that are hard to come by in an MC now. She also had a childlike innocence that really endeared her to me. The faith she put in the adults who saved her without questioning them was sweet, though a bit stupid. The bond she shares with her daemon, Pantelaimon (Pan for short) was interesting but I’d love to know more about  how the daemon thing works in future books. My personal favourite character was Iorek Byrnison the armoured bear. I can’t explain why he was my favourite, he just was. I will say that when he entered the story started to find its stride.

Overall I can’t find anything too negative to say about this. The only major downside for me is the fact that it took so long for me to start enjoying the story. Everything else was good, I loved the author’s writing style and the story that he’s starting to weave. Another big thing that I would’ve liked is more detail and a way of looking deeper into the ideas of Lyra’s world. I understand that this is a YA book though and not all teens want detail.

My Rating

3 stars – An enjoyable read that should appeal to boys and girls. Although I feel that girls will relate to Lyra better, there are plenty of elements that young boys should love. This is a solid start to the trilogy and I can only hope that book two is just as good if not even better.

Monday, 14 November 2011

***Review*** The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon

On the Back of the Book

Fifteen-year-old Christopher has a photographic memory. He understands maths. He understands science. What he can’t understand are other human beings. When he finds his neighbour’s dog lying dead on the lawn, he decides to track down the killer and write a murder mystery about it. But what other mysteries will he end up uncovering?

Pre Read Thoughts

This is one of November’s group reads for my Goodreads group and that’s pretty much the only reason I’m reading this. I had heard of it before, it’s just not a book that I’ve ever been interested in. I found this in my local Scope charity shop for £1.50. It’s not in the best condition but since the money goes to charity I think I can live with that. The cover I have is very eye-catching and I really like it. The synopsis is interesting and I can’t wait to see if this book lives up to the hype that it seems to have gotten.

Post Read Thoughts

I wasn’t a massive fan of this boo to be honest. The POV that draws you in pushes you away with constant onslaughts of information. My brain is exhausted from all the mathematical and scientific stuff that my brain just didn’t understand. Things that other people loved about this (the graphs and the chapters being prime numbers) I detested. The graphs broke up the story and the prime numbers took away the sense of order that normal chapter numbers bring. Something which I don’t normally complain about but feel compelled to do so with this is the language. Now, I’m all for swearing, I do it all the time but there’s a lot in this book and it’s billed on the cover as “children’s”. I was absolutely horrified to see the C-word at one point! That’s a word I haven’t seen in adult books. It’s just not written in books, it’s disrespectful. That by itself really affected my view of the book.

I didn’t really feel anything for the characters, but then again neither did Christopher. I get that he finds emotions difficult to understand because he only thinks in a logical way with science and numbers but the lack of emotional depth held back the book in the sense of character development. I didn’t like Christopher’s father. His actions weren’t right but the consequences were well portrayed by the author.

Overall I didn’t find this book to be anything special. It’s a contradiction for me, it’s everything I love about a book but it reads like everything I hate. I liked some parts of the story but just as I was starting to get into the flow of the story there’s be another page of either maths or science that I didn’t understand. The book made me feel stupid and I don’t appreciate that. I know I’m probably in the minority when it comes to not enjoying this (I normally am when it comes to these things) but there was something lacking for me.

My Rating

2 stars – I should be giving this three but some of the language used was extreme and I’m making a point of my objection by taking away a star. Other than that this is one of those books that people rave about reading. I won’t be raving though as it failed to entertain me. I recommend this if you’re a fan of books with an interesting lead character. That fact that Christopher is autistic intrigued me and I thought that looking inside the head of an autistic was interesting, though slightly confusing.

A Final Note

The language isn’t good. So I wouldn’t give this to a kid or a young adult. I’m sorry but I’d hate for a kid to read this and then go to school saying that word.

On a lighter note, this contains spoilers for Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. So if you want to read that then you should give this a miss until afterwards.

***Review*** Death Bringer (Skulduggery Pleasant #6) by Derek Landy

On the Back of the Book

“My power is practically limitless,” Melancholia said softly. “I’d describe the sensation to you but words would not be sufficient. To understand what it’s like to be a god, you’d have to be a god. Like me...”
The Death Bringer has risen.

Faced with a possible cataclysm that could change the world, Skulduggery and Valkyrie have seven days to uncover the Necromancers’ secret before it’s too late.

The clock is ticking.
Lord Vile is loose/
And after this one, nothing will
Ever be the same again.

Pre Read Thoughts

This is the latest Skulduggery Pleasant book and boy am I excited to read it. I stole this off my brother. He got this book as a birthday present off me; I’d pre-ordered it on Amazon especially and paid £9.99 for it. The RRP is actually £14.99 but this book is actually a proper hardback. The cover is pretty awesome; I love how it shows a graveyard and the shadows as it ties in with the Necromancers being a large part of the story. This is probably the best Skulduggery Pleasant synopsis yet as it actually tells you a bit about the story and sometimes it’s nice to have an idea of what the book is about.

Post Read Thoughts


I really enjoyed this however I don’t think it was quite as good as book 5 but that’s just my personal opinion and I know that some people disagree with me.  Some of the plot didn’t really appeal to me and I already have theories about the plots for future books in the series. These negatives were evened out by an amazing plot twist and some incredible action scenes. There’s even a new sub-plot and I’m really looking forward to seeing where it’s going.

Both Lord Vile and Darquesse appear in this. It was great to see them both as I’ve been wondering about Vile for the past few books and Darquesse is a character that I’ve been wanting to see more of. I didn’t like China’s storyline in this book. She’s one of my favourite characters and having her put in the position that she was. It wasn’t China. Valkyrie’s treatment of Fletcher in this was diabolical! I don’t want to see him treated like that ever again. I have a lot of love for Fletcher. Caelan is an idiot, hilarious, but a complete and utter melodramatic fool. Finally I just quickly want to say that I missed Tanith in this, a lot. She’s another one of my favourite characters and not having her involved felt weird.

Overall this is another ‘good but not quite there yet’ book. For me the fact that plots that were started in Mortal Coil were put on ice in favour of starting more new ones was a bit distracting. I’d like to see some of the loose ends tied up a bit better. I know that they’ll probably be answered in the next book but it doesn’t come out until next year. Although this didn’t appeal to me as much as the previous story I still loved this one and would recommend it to children, teens and adults  who like magical detective books.

My Rating

4 stars – enjoyable fun for all the family. I’m still waiting for the book that blows me away though and to be honest, I’m not that good at waiting. I definitely think that you should read all the books in this series that are out now and wait for the next book with me.

Friday, 4 November 2011

***Review*** Mortal Coil (Skulduggery Pleasant #5) by Derek Landy

On the Back of the Book

Meet Skulduggery Pleasant: detective, magician, warrior. Oh yes, and dead.

With Valkyrie struggling to protect her dark secret, Skulduggery and the gang are more vulnerable than ever, just as a plague of body-snatching Remnants are released upon the world...

Pre Read Thoughts

I managed to successfully prise this book out of my brother’s hands after a few hours of begging and looking cute... oh and I told our mum that I’d be quicker reading it first! He bought this off Amazon for a couple of pounds less that the £6.99 RRP because who doesn’t love a bargain? The cover is really dark and eerie with all the blues and greens. The back cover with Valkyrie stands out more for me than the front which has Skulduggery on it. That’s just my opinion though, you may think differently. The synopsis is short, sweet and very intriguing. That’s just how I like them!

Post Read Thoughts


This series just keeps getting better and better now that it’s found its stride. I honestly didn’t think that Dark Days could be top but Mortal Coil comes along and does just that. The action sequences got my adrenaline pumping and there were some twists and turns that had me wide eyed with shock. One moment literally had me crying out as the plot went somewhere that I didn’t want it to. The pace now has slower moments so there’s time for the reader to catch their breath. I once again thought that the writing had improved. The plot is now less transparent and that means that the reader has to work for their answers.

This book has a mini story in the back: hooray! This means I now get to do a mini review. The story is called “The Wonderful Adventures of Geoffrey Scrutinous” which is an excellent, if slightly long, title and the story itself is just as good. It was laugh out loud funny and the characters were definitely at their best. I loved Geoffrey in this story, he had me constantly giggling and although he was always amusing there were moments when I didn’t blame him for how he felt. The story itself was solid and my favourite of the ones I’ve read.

I know which characters I want to mention but I just quickly want to say that there’s one scene with Darquesse that I adored, I hope that there are more in future books as it’s a really interesting plot line. Someone I’ve been meaning to mention but haven’t gotten around to until now is Kenspeckle Grouse. He’s one of my favourites in the series as he’s like the grandfather that I never had. I’d love for him to be real and treat me like he does Valkyrie. Geoffrey Scrutinous is an awesome character and I loved his batty fashion sense. The character was given a place in the book because of a competition. What an amazing thing to do and congratulations to the winner! Your character rocks. Tanith’s story had an interesting development in this one. I don’t want to say too much about it but I can’t wait to see where Mr Landy takes this one. I think I know what I’d do with it.

Overall the series has finally started to get going and is showing off all that potential I saw in book one. I don’t think I can take any more twists and turns in this series but I’m hooked and that means I guess I’m going to have to. This is a genuinely good book by any standard. It is superior to a lot of books that are aimed at older people. I definitely recommend this to fans of magic, or fans of detectives. If you like both then I’m assuming you’ve already read this series.

My Rating

Main story: 4 stars – Oh me, oh my. It just keeps getting better; this series might even earn itself a five before it ends.

Short story: 5 story – Hilarious, definitely a story that I’d read again and again, and recommend again and again.

Overall rating: 4 stars – It’s not worth five yet. It didn’t always have my attention. The author seems to be determined to get that elusive fifth star from me though and I love a tryer.  Maybe next time Mr Landy.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

***Review*** Dark Days (Skulduggery Pleasant #4) by Derek Landy

On the Back of the Book

 “Valkyrie turned to the portal. The wind whipped her hair. She ran, straight into the yellow...”

Skulduggery Pleasant is gone, sucked into a parallel dimension. There is no official Sanctuary-approved plan to save him.

But Valkyrie’s never had much time for plans...

Pre Read Thoughts

Yes, that’s right folks, I’ve finally got my grubby little mitts on my brother’s copy of Skulduggery Pleasant 4. Now all I have to do is read it. I’m looking forward to delving back into the world of the skeleton detective as I’m suffering quite badly from Skulduggery withdrawal. As I have just said I have nabbed this off my wonderful brother (cheers dude!), I paid nothing but he bought it off Amazon for a couple of pounds less than the £6.99 RRP. (What can I say? He’s evidently a cheapskate.) The cover is very bright and colourful and it stands out even at a distance. The synopsis is short and to the point. I’m off to read this now. I can’t wait to finish it.

Post Read Thoughts


Wow! This is easily my favourite Skulduggery pleasant book so far. There was just something about this that the other books lacked. The pace just felt right whereas in the previous 2 books especially, I felt that there hadn’t been time for me to take a breath and analyse the goings on. The writing is improving with every book, although I still find that the fight scenes can still get jumbled. I liked knowing more about the evil plot and yet I didn’t know enough to scream at the book what they had to do to save the day. It made me appreciate how complex the story is and how many plotlines that the author is weaving  together.

Some really interesting things happen with the main characters because Skulduggery isn’t in the first ¼ of this book because of how book 3 ended. This means we get to see Valkyrie step up to the plate and be the leader instead of the sidekick. I am so pleased she got the chance as it made me love her even more. I’ve been wondering if she was capable of taking responsibility for her actions and she is which is definitely a good thing. Both Tanith and Fletcher Renn have bigger roles in this book due to Skulduggery being unable to help with their first mission. Fletcher in particular is a god addition as he’s so funny and has memorable hair. As a character he’s a grower, but once he’s done that you won’t be able to hate him.

Overall this is the book that has truly convinced me that books like Skulduggery Pleasant are the way forward for kids nowadays. It blends together lots of different elements and that  really adds depth to the book and makes it more widely accessible to girls and boys. The cliff hanger at the end just had me in shock. I hadn’t seen it coming and now I have to persuade my brother to hand over book five so I can find out what happens next. If you’ve only read the first three books because the flow was off then I recommend you carry on. This book really hots up the series.

My Rating

4 stars – I can’t say enough good things about this book. I think people should read it regardless of age or gender. It’s just a fun way to waste a few hours. The whole series is in fact, now I just have to go persuade my brother to allow me the pleasure of reading book 5. Wish me luck!

***Review*** Killer Instinct (Horror High #2) by Caroline B. Cooney

On the Back of the Book

Horror High

It’s the stuff of nightmares

There’s talk around school about a mysterious house where no one ever lives for long. But when Holly and her friends decide to break in for a laugh, they don’t expect to find it occupied – and by a vampire.

Suddenly they find themselves trapped in a deadly game. Either they all die or they choose one to stay and be the vampire’s choice for ever. It’s their choice...

Pre Read Thoughts

When I was a teenager (God, I’m making myself sound so old) Point Horror books were all the rage because, thankfully, Twilight didn’t exist back then. One of my favourite Point Horror authors was Caroline B. Cooney so when I saw this book (and book 1) in WHSmith I had to buy them. The RRP is £4.99 (bargain!) and since I bought it on the high street I’d assume that’s what I paid for the pleasure of having this book on my shelf. The cover is very dull with just some moody looking teens on it. The synopsis is very interesting though, I can’t wait to revisit one of my teen favourite authors.

Post Read Thoughts


I’m really disappointed with this, what’s more, I should’ve known. My previous attempts to read books and authors that I loved as a teen haven’t gone well and I was naive to think that this would go any better. This wasn’t at all scary and it failed to capture my attention.  This is a really short book (184 pages) but it dragged on, I honestly feel that it could have been made even shorter. The writing isn’t anything particularly special and the fact that the author was constantly changing POV in this book frustrated me as it made the story disjointed and it failed to settle down. The majority of the book takes place in one room and so for the story to feel disjointed is an incredible feat. Maybe I should give Ms Cooney some credit for that.

I couldn’t connect with any of the characters as I was rarely with them for more than a couple of paragraphs at a time. As the reader I like to be able to get to know the characters and form opinions on them. It makes it so much more difficult to review a book if you don’t feel that you could relate to at least one person. The impressions I got of the characters however weren’t positive. They didn’t seem to have any redeeming qualities and what could have made them better people was erased from their memories.  As for the vampire, I didn’t really grasp what the author was trying to do with him. My ideas of him are confused as he was never really explained. This means that he’s not very scary because you don’t have this mental image of him. He was a complete let down.

Overall I think this book is average. I don’t have anything positive to say but I’m not sat here tearing my hair out telling you that I’ve been tortured by some mean author lady. If I’d known I was going to have yet another case of realising I can’t be a teenager forever, I really wouldn’t have read this. I mean, I read for excitement yet recently I’ve read quite a few books that I haven’t liked and that saddens me. I’m not sure if I’d recommend this as Cooney’s fans will have grown up and moved on and the YA market doesn’t need me telling you about another author that’s best described as mediocre.

My Rating

2 stars – if it hadn’t been such a quick read I’m not sure whether or not I’d have finished this. It’s not as bad as book one as that one was pretty horrific. That saves this from the dreaded one star rating. I wouldn’t actually suggest you waste your hard earned cash and buy this though. I think if you can get it free it’ll waste a few hours but don’t feel that unless you read this book your life won’t be complete. Trust me, you’ll survive.


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