Review

Review: The Great Bazaar and Brayan’s Gold (The Demon Cycle #1.5) by Peter V. Brett

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I first discovered Peter V. Brett’s Demon Cycle series three years ago, when I picked up The Painted Man from my local library. I absolutely fell in love with the series, and have now read and reviewed all three books in the series so far. The first book is definitely my favourite of the three, so I thought it would be interesting to go back to Arlen’s roots with these short stories.

However, fans of Abban and Leesha will also be pleased, as they each have their own short stories in this volume. My favourite was the first, the story of Arlen and the thundersticks, his first encounter with snow demons and another battle with One-Arm, the rock demon hellbent on killing him.

I’ve mentioned in previous reviews of short stories that I find them difficult to review, because often I’m left a little disappointed and wanting more. This volume does not suffer from this, being an accompaniment to a longer series, but it didn’t really add anything necessary. However, it was interesting nonetheless, and something to quench the thirst until I can get my hands on the recently released fourth book. A recommendation for anyone who enjoys Brett’s writing, and especially those who can’t wait for book five!

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Review

Review: The Ships of Aleph by Jaine Fenn

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the author, in exchange for an honest review.

 

‘Every day, I ask myself the same question: would I be happier now if I had never sailed off the edge of the world?’

The opening line of The Ships of Aleph definitely grabbed my attention in an instant. This novella from Jaine Fenn tells the tale of a man who finds himself alone on a mysterious island after a shipwreck. Even stranger, the island appears to be a replica of his home, but if he takes more than 1000 steps away from the village he collapses. Every day, he is visited by an ‘angel’, who brings him food and other resources.

I always find novellas difficult to review due to their length, and often find myself a little disappointed by them. However, I thought the story of The Ships of Aleph was wonderfully imagined, slightly creepy, and made me very curious. How did Lachin end up on this island? Who was the ‘angel’? I had to know. Jaine Fenn’s writing style and pace worked perfectly here: I felt I was given just enough information to satisfy my curiosity, but also not quite enough to stop me from wanting to learn more. And of course, the reader learns along with Lachin.

Ultimately, I’d really like a full length novel of this short story. It suffers in the same way as many novellas – not quite enough time to expand or completely resolve things. The conclusion was a bit too quick for my tastes, and left me wanting more details.

However, this was a very interesting novella, slightly unnerving in places, that clearly demonstrates Jaine Fenn’s talent.

Review

Review: The Dagger in the Desk (Lockwood & Co #1.5) by Jonathan Stroud

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I’m never sure about reviewing novellas and short stories. Sometimes I don’t feel I have enough to say about them, or that I will have developed enough of a sense of the book in such a small number of pages. Luckily, I am already familiar with the universe of Lockwood & Co having absolutely loved the two books written by Jonathan Stroud so far, and The Dagger in the Desk just leaps straight into the action.

What I didn’t realise until after I’d read the book is that it was written over six days, with help from members of the Guardian newspaper’s children’s website, who voted on the name, location and the ghost. My initial thought, before reading this, was that it would most likely appeal to the target audience even more, due to being set in a school. It’s definitely something that would have appealed to me when I was younger, having to miss school due to a haunting!

Despite the very short nature of the book, Jonathan Stroud proves that he is a master storyteller by building up the tension in only a few pages. What I’ve always found surprising about this series is that despite being aimed at Middle Grade and above, it is actually genuinely creepy in some places – and this novella was no exception. Even though the case is over and done with rather quickly, Stroud provides some eerie moments and a memorable ghostly foe.

The book was even shorter than expected, with a handy guide to the ghouls Lockwood, George and Lucy encounter through the series, as well as a sample of The Screaming Staircase. Definitely worth checking out for fans of Lockwood & Co who just can’t wait for book number three – such as myself!

Review

Review: The Slow Regard Of Silent Things (The Kingkiller Chronicles #2.5) by Patrick Rothfuss

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Having recently finally read The Wise Man’s Fear, the second book in the epic Kingkiller Chronicles series by Patrick Rothfuss, I couldn’t wait to make a start on The Slow Regard Of Silent Things. As much as I love Rothfuss’ series, I thought it would be refreshing to get a different viewpoint, see the story from the point of someone other than Kvothe. I really love Kvothe as a character, but I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time with him, as each book clocks in at almost 1000 pages.

Auri’s story is definitely something new. It’s not so much a new perspective on Kvothe’s tale, as Kvothe himself does not make an appearance, but it was fascinating nonetheless to hear from someone else in Kvothe’s world. Despite being book number 2.5, you could probably read this one after either book, but definitely not without having read at least The Name of the Wind. It makes the assumption that you already know Auri (or really, why would you have picked the book up?), at least as well as a reader can know her. Auri is another character that I’ve always loved within the series – she has that aura of mystery that actually somehow still remains, even after reading this book.

I always had a sense that Auri knows more than anyone else, and just doesn’t let on, and The Slow Regard of Silent Things only makes me more sure of this. She may be the only character in the book, but the inanimate objects seem to come to life the moment they come into contact with her, as if she breathes life into everything she touches. It says so much about Patrick Rothfuss’ writing that he can make a story about a young girl going about her rather peculiar day-to-day activities into something so fascinating and delightful.

If you’re worried that this book will reveal too much about Auri and who she is, then there is no need – it is a wonderful insight into the life of Auri that somehow leaves her more of a mystery than ever, and that’s what I really like about it.

Review

Review: Doctor Who – The Death Pit (Time Trips #1) by A.L. Kennedy

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Just like Doctor Who: Into the Nowhere, this is part of the ‘Time Trips’ series, a sequence of short Doctor Who novellas by different authors and covering different Doctors. This one in particular follows the Fourth Doctor – one I’ve not actually watched in action, but probably the most familiar of the ‘Classic’ Doctors. It has the brilliant Doctor Who trait of combining both funny and scary situations in a unique blend, whilst still being pretty horrifying in parts – and this one really is.

Unlike other Doctor Who books I’ve read so far, there is no companion alongside the Doctor when he lands, meaning we get to experience that initial excitement of someone meeting the Doctor for the first time. Bryony, the someone in question, is a wonderful character in that she surprises even the Doctor. She is ambitious but somehow just got stuck working at the golf club, and her adventures with the Doctor help her to realise that if she wants to achieve her dreams, she needs to go out and do something about them. For such a short story the characters were quite detailed, which really added to my enjoyment of the novella.

As well as being well written and developed, there were plenty of fun and humorous moments to keep the reader amused. The Doctor was his manic self, as Tom Baker’s Doctor was, and it was pretty funny imagining him in a shower cap (especially with all that hair!). Overall, a wonderful short adventure for fans of the show, particularly those who would love some more stories involving Four.

 

Review

Review: Doctor Who – Into the Nowhere (Time Trips #2) by Jenny T. Colgan

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

From the very first paragraph of this book, I immediately knew it was more skillfully written than previous Doctor Who reads – at least in terms of the description. The story wasn’t quite as fun as some of the books aimed at younger audiences. Jenny T. Colgan captures the personalities and mannerisms of the Eleventh Doctor and Clara really well, and I could easily picture each scene in my head with Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman acting them out – Clara with her no-nonsense ways, and Eleven acting like a child and showing off occasionally (or more than occasionally…).

The setting was a ‘typical’ Doctor Who planet – mysterious, a little bit creepy and naturally very intriguing to the Doctor. The forest that the two travel through felt like the one from Disney’s version of Snow White, with trees seemingly coming to life and reaching out for our protagonists. The Doctor Who books can get away with some more grisly images and moments than the TV series, and this one certainly does.

There were, however, a couple of things that bugged me. I know that Doctor Who as a TV show contains pop culture references, for example the Doctor has referenced the Harry Potter series before, but for such a short book (forty-nine pages) this contained a few too many pop culture references. The villain of the story, a nerdy computer geek, felt like a major cliche – and also completely ruined the scary image of the planet.

Overall, despite a few clunky and overlong sentences and a couple of other points, this was a fun read. I mean, it is Doctor Who after all…

And I just want to share this status update I posted to Goodreads…