Review

Review: After the Silence (Amsterdam Quartet #1) by Jake Woodhouse

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1 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

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

I may not read the genre that often, but I do enjoy a good crime novel. Sadly, After the Silence is not one of these.

I picked it up initially because it was set in Amsterdam, and I’m always eager to read more books set in the Netherlands. However, the setting here is completely inconsequential: it could literally be set anywhere else in the world and it would make zero difference. We get some Dutch names, a few well-known locations in Amsterdam but otherwise you could just transport it anywhere else, which was a real shame. Not as much of a shame, however, as the absolutely atrocious characters that After the Silence contains, every single one a horrible, horrible stereotype:

  • The main character is a cop who had a career changing tragic moment pre-book, which we get to see in badly timed flashbacks. Since then he left the force, went to Japan and ‘found himself’, and came back.
  • The main female cop is constantly objectified by her colleagues, her soon to be boss makes lewd suggestions about how she might rise through the ranks and SHE DOES NOTHING ABOUT IT. This is so infuriating. She’s clearly a tough lady, judging by what she’s been through and what she does for a living, so why does she put up with this crap?
  • There’s the cocaine addicted, homophobic, racist and misogynistic cop who I’m supposed to somehow feel sorry for?? Er, no. No thanks.
  • Literally every policeman (and I say man, because Tanya is the ONLY female cop in the Netherlands apparently) is racist and homophobic and misogynistic and it made me SO ANGRY.

 

I can’t even really comment too much on what happens. It wasn’t a particularly special crime novel, there were no stunning twists or big reveals, and I was mostly just distracted by how disgusting these characters were, these people who were meant to be protecting society. And if it’s not bad enough, of course Jaap and Tanya hook up, because how on earth could a male and female cop work together without that happening? I spent the entire duration of this book feeling very angry, and the only positive was that it was at least quick to read, and needless to say I won’t be searching out the next one in the series.

Review

Review: Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) by Morgan Rhodes

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

Like any large scale fantasy novel, Falling Kingdoms has its fair share of characters, families and feuds. Although compared to a series such as A Song of Ice and Fire it’s only a handful of characters, I was very grateful for the character list at the beginning of the book. Despite some initial confusion with the characters, the world which Morgan Rhodes has created drew me in pretty quickly. It’s not a particularly original fantasy world – several kingdoms and warring peoples, magic, royal families – but it was definitely one that worked well and kept me reading.

The story follows members of three different families: Cleo, whose fiancee caused the strife; Jonas, whose brother was murdered, beginning the uneasy relations between the three kingdoms; Lucia and Magnus, siblings with a dark background. Generally, I really liked all of the point-of-view characters – there was a real mix of personalities and goals, and it never really felt like one character was ‘better’ than the other. There were no real good or bad characters when it came to the POV characters: they all had their own reasons for doing what they were doing. The dynamic of Lucia and Magnus’ relationship reminded me of that of Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia, as portrayed in the TV series The Borgias. Slowly, the stories of each family begin to intertwine, bringing around the conclusion and opening up the story for the second book.

Morgan Rhodes is not afraid of writing in shocking moments and sudden deaths (like another certain fantasy writer I can think of…), and this one was of the qualities that made the book stand out. The author is not afraid to shock, or potentially upset the reader – there is no pandering down to keep the reader happy.

My main complaint about the book was one of the romances felt really lacklustre, a bit too Romeo and Juliet, teenage angsty. I also feel like I could predict the next romance, so I hope I’m wrong! I also have no idea who is supposed to be on the cover, as there certainly weren’t any assassin type characters for the majority of the book.

The cover of the version I read claimed that the book was ‘A Game of Thrones for young adults’. I really hate comparisons like this – it makes it seem that all books coming out these days are practically rip-offs of other series, when what we really want is originally. I get the comparison here in as far as it is a political fantasy (although nowhere near as in-depth as A Song of Ice and Fire, plus there are the shifting point-of-views and a higher than average body count… but really, it’s a very different story and probably just a decision on the behalf of the publishers, trying to sell more copies by comparing it to the ‘next big thing’. Overall, I really loved the book. It pulled me in straight away and I rushed through the story, eager for each new chapter and event – and I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.

Review

Review: The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2) by Rick Riordan

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
Rick Riordan has done it again. He has created another wonderful series – although this is admittedly more of a ‘spin off’ of the first Percy Jackson series – based on ancient mythology. This time round, it’s the turn of ancient Rome.

 

Of course, Rome borrows heavily from ancient Greece in its mythology, so there isn’t much strictly ‘new’. But Riordan uses the idea cleverly – just like Camp Half-Blood, the camp for Greek demigods, there is a Camp Jupiter, for Roman demigods. Both camps are completely unaware of each other – until now. And just like between the ancient Greeks and Romans, there is animosity. For someone like me, who loves ancient mythology (I studied it quite a bit at university, my dissertation was based around an ancient Graeco-Egyptian god), this series has everything.

It was exciting to see the entwining of the two cultures, and Riordan showcases their similarities and differences very well. It was also fun to meet ‘familiar’ figures and see them brought to life by someone who has clearly done extensive research on the legends of ancient Rome, as well as the military and politics. I was really impressed by Riordan’s use of knowledge of ancient Rome to create Camp Jupiter, but after the first series I would not expect any less of him!

I actually picked this one up thinking it was the first book in the second series, when in actual fact it is number two – but I was not hindered at all by having not read the first one. Percy has memory loss for much of this book, and I believe that most of the first one is about another character who is mentioned in this one. All necessary back story was explained very well, without dumping information.

Unlike the first Percy Jackson series, this one switches point of view – it flicks between Percy and his two new companions, Frank and Hazel. Frank is new to Camp Jupiter, having only been there for a few weeks before Percy arrives. He is unsure of his parentage, and it was fun trying to guess who his father was, and other factors about his family history. For a kid’s book, it can really test the reader on their knowledge of mythological figures! Hazel has been at the camp for a while longer, and is equally as mysterious although her story gets cleared up a little sooner. I thought both new companions were well-rounded, and it was nice to have different points of view – as well as a story written in third person, rather than first person like the previous series.

Although the age on the back of the book says ‘9+’, I really feel that Rick Riordan’s stories are for all ages. Like Harry Potter, it’s a ‘childrens’ book that is so well-written and fun that you feel drawn into the action, whatever your age. I’m also excited to see that he has written a series based on ancient Egypt, and will be keeping a look out for that, as well as the rest of the books in the series!

Thoughts

Thoughts #2: Favourite Book Covers

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These are the covers that I could just stare at for hours, the kind that instantly draw me to a book – sometimes it is the reason I read the book in the first place. I definitely do judge a book by its cover…

One of the things I am always looking out for in bookshops (even if I don’t intend to buy them) is pretty versions of Homer’s The Iliad or The Odyssey. The new Penguin Classics hardbacks are beautiful, and I absolutely love the colour of this one:


Here are just some of the beautiful clothbound editions you can buy:

The cover of The Snow Child, by Eoywn Ivey, is also gorgeous. It mirrors the storybook within the book itself, and the print effect looks fantastic.

What covers do you really love? Do you judge a book by its cover?

Review

Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
When you frequently use Goodreads or Tumblr, or are part of the book blogging community, it is hard to escape John Green. I have heard nothing but pure unadulterated praise for his books, and now I am beginning to understand why.

The main protagonist of An Abundance of Katherines is Colin, a former child prodigy who loves to learn, but doesn’t feel as if he’s done anything with his life – and that it’s too late to make a difference. Every single girl that Colin has even gone out with or kissed has been called Katherine – with that exact spelling – and he can’t explain why. And every single Katherine has dumped him – nineteen in total.

At the beginning of the novel, Colin has just been dumped by Katherine number nineteen, the one with which he has had the longest and most serious relationship. In an effort to stop his best friend spiralling down into depression, Colin’s friend Hassan encourages him to take a road trip, as they have the whole summer ahead of them. And it is this road trip which changes everything.

Somehow, whilst Colin is a very self-centered person who is completely and utterly fixated on Katherines, he is still very likeable. I think this is due to his intelligence, his constant anagramming – making him a very interesting character. He is also, whilst being a little selfish, a good person at heart. He just wants the girl he loves back and doesn’t understand why things ended, so you can’t help but feel a little sorry for him. His best friend, Hassan, is another great character – partly comic relief, partly a shoulder for Colin to cry on. Both boys might seem like they’re taking the easy way out at times, but they certainly prove themselves at various points throughout the book.

It’s funny how a story about heartbreak can be such a delight to read. John Green has a lovely, fluid writing style that is both easy to read, and gets a lot across. The book felt so unique with its frequent anagrams and mathematical formulas – I hate maths, I can’t do it to save my life but I found Colin’s Theorem and the maths behind it fascinating. And that’s when you know an author is doing something right – they draw you into something you normally wouldn’t care about.

I would most definitely recommend this book, and will be reading more of Mr. Green’s work, starting with The Fault in Our Stars. But first I need to emotionally prepare myself. Wish me luck.

Review

Review: Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
With the amount of Young Adult novels, particularly of the Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic genre, being released in the past year or two, it is especially difficult to find the stand-out ones, let alone write one. But Marie Lu has managed to create something really fantastic with Legend, that definitely deserves its comparison to The Hunger Games.

 

I had seen this book on many a blog, with such strong praise and positive reviews that I immediately added it to my ‘to read’ pile. Combine that with the Hunger Games vibe, and I was sold. However, when my copy finally arrived from the library, I was initially put off by the blurb, claiming that June and Day are ‘irresistibly drawn together’. One of my pet hates – that occurs more often than not in YA novels – is insta-love. Insta-love that is so deep, the couple just know they’re going to be together forever from day one. No thank you. Lu also shows that there could perhaps be the opportunity for a love triangle, but takes that away – another thing I was very glad about!

So I was delighted to discover that it is not insta-love – but insta-attraction. Much more realistic, and not all consuming – June doesn’t spend her time pining after Day, or vice versa. They are both far too strong a character for that, and that is another thing I really enjoyed about the book. Both protagonists were street smart and intelligent, and didn’t let bad events get them down, but instead used them as a reason to work for a good cause. And whilst sometimes their strength might make them seem a little cold – mostly in June’s case – this is another good thing, as YA novels often suffer from flawless, or flawed in a cute way, characters. For example, there is one scene where June is witnessing something particularly horrible, and she merely watches without flinching. She is also, at least for the first half of the book, very snobby about the Republic, looking down on the Colonies and Patriots.

One element that Lu could have perhaps built on a little more was the reason why the world was like it was. What happened to divide the USA up? Why are there three main groups? Perhaps this is explained properly in Prodigy, the second book, and I will be reading it to find out. I was able to guess some of the rather important plot points, but there were also some truly shocking moments, that could certainly rival some of those created by Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. I didn’t find myself as emotionally invested in these characters though, and I’m hoping that this will change with the next book.

Overall, this really was a fantastic read, building up for what I believe could be an explosive trilogy. The ending was not quite a cliffhanger, but definitely left the story open enough for me to want more – and I’ll be ordering the next book from the library as soon as I’ve got through my stack of current library books!