Book Review: The Stars Will Guide Us Back (2021)

girl holding book, text says 'book review'

The Stars Will Guide Us Back by Rue Sparks

This is a collection of thirteen short, fantastical stories. I opted for the audiobook and I must say, I thoroughly recommend it! I’m supremely picky with audiobooks, and I’m delighted to say that Rue Sparks’ The Stars Will Guide Us Back was just wonderful! Lovely narrations by the two readers and exquisite prose by Sparks. I’m definitely going to be checking out Sparks’ next books.

Buddy read this book with The Book Trove. We’re hoping to shine some attention on independent books and authors. These books are picked totally at random and selected by vote amongst the group.

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Book Review: Caught Inside (2016)

Caught Inside by Jamie Deacon

❧ audiobook review

Another Joe Jameson narration and an absolute find. [Other great Jameson narrations I’ve reviewed are: An Honest ManThe Prince of ThornsThe Last Romeo and The Magnificent Sons.]

THIS BOOK IS SUCH CUTE ROMANCE, UGH. ❤❤❤ Luke and Theo are fantastic together and so adorable. They have such good chemistry, it’s insane.

This is a perfect summer romance read! Beaches and new love. And the constant surfing descriptions just made me think of Shelter.

Totally a compliment, FYI. I adored this book so much. Jamie Deacon’s writing is so evocative and lush and lovely.

*SPOILERS BELOW*

This book totally stole my heart. That said, despite how shippable Luke and Theo are, I do feel bad for Zara. She really deserved much better than everyone keeping secrets from her. Giles was such a prick at pretty much every point, although he was a good friend to Theo.

Really hard not to picture Rupert Giles:

But this Giles was decidedly less Watcherly. I got so annoyed at him throughout the book. He’s a good character, though, so there’s that.

One of the things I loved, but found myself shaking my head and laughing at, was how Luke is so DRAMATIC. He ought to get an award for epic overreactions, yet he’s written so well and so sympathetic, that even when he is a DISASTER, you end up rooting for him. I really adored Theo, too, although a lot of his decisions left me so frustrated.

Meredith is definitely a queen ❤

[Audiobook Rec] Caught Inside (2016)

I came across a great audiobook yesterday for anyone who is looking for recommendations. It’s by one of my favourite narrators, Joe Jameson, and is a contemporary lgbt+ romance.

Caught Inside by Jamie Deacon

Luke believes he has his life figured out…and then he meets Theo.

It should have been simple—a summer spent with his girlfriend Zara at her family’s holiday cottage in Cornwall. Seventeen-year-old Luke Savage jumps at the chance, envisioning endless hours of sunbathing on the private beach and riding the waves on his beloved surfboard. He isn’t interested in love. Though his rugged good looks and lazy charm mean he can have his pick of girls, he has no intention of falling for anyone.

Nothing prepares Luke for his reaction to Theo, the sensitive Oxford undergraduate who is Zara’s cousin and closest friend. All at once, he is plunged along a path of desire and discovery that has him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself. No one, especially Zara, must find out; what he and Theo have is too new, too fragile. But as the deceit spirals beyond their control, people are bound to get hurt, Luke most of all.

Book Review: An Honest Man (2019)

An Honest Man by Ben Fergusson

❧ audiobook review

THAT ENDING THO

IT’S PERFECTION.

I didn’t think I was going to be okay with the ending. I was really, really worried about the ending for a second there.

This book is set at the end of the Cold War, in the heart of Berlin, as Ralf and Oz fall in love.

But of course, in the end, 1989 meant neither of those things. It just meant Oz and espionage – how grand that word sounds now. And, I suppose my family, and the terrible things we did.

Angst and espionage, you say?

(I’m not sure I ever recovered from the gut-punching angst that was London Spy, but sure, I figured let’s give 1989 yearning and secrecy a try.) This is another Joe Jameson narration, and it is a truth universally acknowledged that if Joe Jameson narrates a book, I will listen to it. (If you’ve been following my reviews, he’s one of my favourite audiobook narrators so far. He voiced The Prince of ThornsThe Last Romeo and The Magnificent Sons. Three amazing books, by the way. Deffo check them out!)

This book was a wonderful historical fiction about young love and family obligations. Fergusson’s writing is lovely and I’m so glad I gave this book a chance! Oz and Ralf are wonderful characters!

Also, his description of his mum at the start straight up gives me Sex Education vibes.

I really enjoyed this book and I’m definitely going to look out for more books by Ben Fergusson in future.

Book Review: Prince of Thorns (2011)

Prince of Thornes by Mark Lawrence, narrated by Joe Jameson

❧ audiobook review
I swallowed the night, and the night swallowed me.

This sentence is so good for one-lining the theme of the book. Darkness, and what happens when you allow it to devour you.

This is my first of the classic grimdarks, really. I’ve heard so much about the genre and have so many of the books on my list, but other than GRRM’s books (which I think are considered grimdark?), I haven’t delved much into the genre. And now I’m sure I’m going to fall face first. Can’t wait. 😉

This is a book of brittle and bleeding characters. Especially young, furious Jorg, our MC. After the horrific deaths of his family, he’s grown into a boy with no forgiveness and no desire for anything but vengeance and bloodshed.

‘I don’t require your forgiveness.’

My heart absolutely breaks for bitter, brutal, broken Jorg. What a life he’s endured already in so short a time. No wonder he’s as unforgiving and terrifying as he is. That’s all he’s ever known. Mark Lawrence really knows how to make a character study, goodness.

I cut from myself all the weakness of care. The love for my dead, I put aside, secure in a casket, an object of study, a dry exhibit, no longer bleeding, cut loose, set free. The capacity for new love, I burned out. I watered it with acid until the ground lay barren and nothing there would sprout, no flower take root.

Everything about this book left me stunned. It’s dark. Way dark. So very, highly, muchly dark.

But it’s done so, so well.

They say fear lends a man wings.

Mark Lawrence has such a way with characters and words despite this darkness that draws you in and makes you want to keep reading even when you don’t love what the characters are doing. You feel for the same characters you don’t agree with, and that’s a really special talent for a writer to achieve.

It’s the silence that scares me. It’s the blank page on which I can write my own fears. The spirits of the dead have nothing on it. The dead one tried to show me hell, but it was a pale imitation of the horror I can paint on the darkness in a quiet moment.

It must be noted that the narration for this is sublime. Joe Jameson is officially one of my favourite narrators. He narrated The Magnificent Sons, one of my favourite books from last year, as well.

Book Review: The Colour of Magic (1983)

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett, Narrated by Tony Robinson

❧ audiobook
‘I’ve been thinking about dragons all my life, but this is the first time one’s turned up!’

My introduction to Terry Pratchett came with book version of Good Omens many years ago. Watching Neil Gaiman’s incredible, lovely determination to ensure that his friend’s vision was actualised and honoured with the adaptation earlier this year made me really want to go back and read the rest of Pratchett’s works. I recently watched an interview where Gaiman talks about how every single step of the adaptation was taken with Terry’s vision in mind, and if that’s not the most wonderful, beautiful tribute from one author to another, I don’t know what is.

I remember reading about Pratchett’s passing and to this day it saddens me deeply. I’ve always wanted to read his books, and I’m glad I started with The Colour of Magic. It’s a series that SO MANY PEOPLE have encouraged me to read, and they’re absolutely right! This is a tale that brims with imagination, humour, fantasy, eccentricity and, of course, colour and magic!

If you’re waiting to get started on this author, wait no longer! Pratchett has certainly earned his place as a modern classic author and an essential, foundational contributor to the genre. I can’t wait to read more of his works!

I, for one, would love to see the turtle carrying the Discworld through outer space.

Mini Review Roundup

*mostly comic books, one audiobook

True Blood: Tainted Love #1 by Marc Andreyko and Michael McMillian [comic]

Really liked this one! The whole gang wanting a prom at Sam’s and being silly ♡

True Blood (2010) #1 by Alan Ball, Mariah Huehne and David Tischman [comic]

These comics are actually so enjoyable! I want to check out the full length volume soon for sure.

Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier, Volume 1: The Man on the Wall by Aleš Kot [comic]

I am absolutely in awe of the art in this one. S T U N N I N G. And I demand a Bucky and Daisy buddy show.

The Pack (The Pack, #0) by Mike Raicht [comic]

I found this prelude an interesting start and I’m curious to see where it goes. Much more gore-horror than I expected, though.

Ray Harryhausen Presents Flying Saucers vs. The Earth #0 by Ryan Burton [comic]

Liked the art, but was a little confused by the storyline.

The Final Girls #1 by Cara Ellison [comic]

I totally mixed this series up with The Final Girls, which is totally *totally* different. I ended up really enjoying it, though! It’s a solid start, I’m curious to see where the storyline goes!

The Final Girls #2 by Cara Ellison [comic]

I love everything about this cover, I must say.

The Final Girls #3 by Cara Ellison [comic]

I love that this is set in Scotland! And the artwork is great. Enjoying the characters, too!

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, narrated by Jodie Comer [audiobook]

This was a great audiobook, and it’s so nice diving back into Wonderland! Definitely recommend.

PSA: Indie Bites Magazine Now in Podcast Form!

For anyone who likes short stories and audiobooks, Indie Bites Magazine is starting to release its stories in podcast format. Check them out here.

Audiobook Review: Midnight Sun (2020)

I first read Twilight (2006) when I was thirteen. I loved it, and read all three sequels in quick succession. I was a bit hesitant to give Midnight Sun a go, however. After all, it’s the same plot as Twilight, only from Edward’s POV. (There’s also a gender-swapped version of Twilight, too. So, there’s three Twilights to choose from, really.) But then I read The Host, and I really enjoyed that, and I found out that Jake Abel (in The Host movie) was voicing Edward in the audiobook, so I decided I wanted to give it a try.

‘My life was an unending, unchanging midnight. It must, by necessity, always be midnight for me.’

Ah, the nostalgia hit me hard on this one. I was deffo not expecting it. Like, I haven’t read Twilight since I was a teenager, but diving back into this world has been so fun. And I really, really like Edward’s POV. I actually prefer his POV. And I wholeheartedly recommend reading this via audiobook. After listening to it, I can’t picture anyone else as Edward. Jake Abel is A+ casting.

Also, Edward is bloody hilarious in this. Like, the things he obsesses over had me howling. Dude has absolutely ZERO chill. And I like the insight and development of their relationship that Meyer goes into. He and Bella have a lot of conversations that they didn’t have in Twilight, and hearing his perspective on the whole thing actually makes a lot more sense now. Bella always thought of him as so perfect and it was really hard to get a read on *Edward* in her book. Now, reading his perspective, it just makes so much more sense. The books complement each other quite well in that sense.

You learn about Bella’s favourite bands, movies, books. It’s not just Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet. Bella gets cool points for Monty Python love, I’ll give her that. She talks about having jobs back in Arizona which led to her lack of a social life because she was always taking care of her mother, having no childhood because she was the adult, etc. Edward susses out why she loves taking care of people and worries about her not getting to do the things she actually wants. His concern for her wants is really sweet, honestly. Yes, he needs to chill, but it’s hard not to sympathise with the lad. Seriously, though, it’s from Edward’s POV, but Bella’s personality is explored so thoroughly in this one and I’m so here for it.

As well, his interactions with Emmett have me giggle snorting. They’re great bros in this and the family interactions really added that extra side to the novel that we never got from Bella’s POV. He’s also so sassy about Mike and the other students in the school. Like, chill dude. C’mon. Be cool. No one can conjure problems out of thin air to worry about quite like Edward. Poor lad needs a cup of tea and a calm movie.

Anyways, this book is pretty cool and Bella/Edward are still shippable.

Review Round Up

New year, new reads, new shows.

I started off the new year by reading a few comic books and finishing Sylvester by Georgette Heyer, narrated by Richard Armitage. I’ve been having a hard time focusing on longer reads at the minute, simply because I have so much to do, so short reads and audibooks are very helpful right now.

I really enjoyed Oddly Normal, which has adorable illustrations and a fairly sad storyline; Die!Die!Die! was intriguing. It’s by the same author as The Walking Dead and has gruesome opener, but looks to be really interesting. I’m curious to see where it goes! Has anyone read any of these?

I also started two new TV series: Young Wallander and The Alienist. I adored them both and cannot recommend The Alienist enough. Dakota Fanning, Luke Evans and Daniel Brühl make a fantastic trio! The mystery is intense and fairly un-guessable, which is something I’ve been waiting for. The costumes are gorgeous as well. Everything about the show is well done, honestly. If you enjoy dark mysteries, this one is enthralling.

Young Wallander is based a Swedish book series and was brilliantly done. I love the whole cast and thought it ended well. It has a second series coming, I believe, so the few things that weren’t wrapped up I’m assuming will be addressed in the coming season.