Book Review: Paper Castles (2021)

Paper Castles by B. Fox

Maybe the most beautiful things in the world are not meant to be owned or conquered or even touched. Like a rainbow or a starry sky, watching them is all you can do. And sometimes that’s enough.

\o/

Every time I find a new awesome author, I am basically Cookie in Atlantis.

There are so many wonderful lines in this book that need highlighting, but amongst my favourites are:

I always seem to be daydreaming, one foot in the ordinary and the other in an imaginary world. I’ve sat in this park countless afternoons, imagining things that I’d like to see and things that I’d like to build someday.[hard same]

&

I’ve gone from being excited about life to being afraid of it. [I know the feeling ;_;]

&

I have a weakness for monuments from old times. [ugh, yes, 100%]

&

A little fantasy never killed anyone, did it? ♡♡♡

The real world problems James faces are immensely, and painfully, relatable i.e. debt, your place in the world, love, family and loss. There were lots of really hard hitting moments that were almost too real. ;_;

This is a great first novel from Fox and I can’t wait to see what he writes next!

Book Review: Dancing in Thatha’s Footsteps (2021)

Dancing in Thatha’s Footsteps by Srividhya Venkat

Tapping quick adavus with his feet, shaping delicate mudras with his hands, and showing expressive bhavas with his eyes—everything about bharatanatyam filed his heart with joy.

This is a lovely story of young Varun, who is desperate to learn to dance and finds everything inspiring, but is made fun of by the girls at the dance school. His grandfather inspires him to dance and follow his dream. It’s super sweet and wholesome!

I really loved that Tamil dance terms are used throughout! It’s great learning new words. And there’s a helpful guide at the back for those looking.

I thoroughly adored this little book about acceptance and dance. Let all those who love to dance, do so!

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.

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: 7 Days in Hell (2020)

7 Days in Hell by Iseult Murphy

“Run,” screamed the primal, fight or flight part of her. “Run before they eat you.”

I don’t read a whole lot of horror. (I still need to finish The Exorcist, which I’m like 1/3 of the way through.) But pitch me a horror novel (really, a novel, poem, song, etc) set in Ireland and I’m so there.

This book follows Vicky and Irene, twin sisters, and their dog Ronnie, as they take a sojourn to a small Irish town and quickly find far more than they bargained for.

DUN DUN DUN.

THINGS GET SCARY QUICK, M’KAY???

I loved how immersive Murphy’s writing is. There’s such great detail and atmosphere in the scene setting. She really paints a vivid, terrifying tale. Poor Irene, Vicky and Ronnie 😦

This is a book horror fans should definitely check out – and it appears there’s a sequel, too!

Book Review: Jinnik (2020)

Jinnik: The Asset: A Cold War Memory by Gideon Asche

a soldier’s code to live by; a soldier’s code to die by

This story is set at the height of the Cold War, where tensions are running high between the US and the USSR. It reads like a memoir, although the epilogue notes that it’s historical fiction inspired by real events. There are also really interesting photographs included.

The atmosphere Asche sets draws you right in, especially with the added footnotes that give additional information, making this a good blend of fiction/non-fiction, both in the tale itself and in the presentation. There’s also impressive technical details, like car types and numbers, which went right over my head, but show the depth of Asche’s research and memory. There are also a lot of rough and brutal scenes that broke my heart, made me wince and were hard to read, and a few passages definitely made me cry, which says a lot about Asche’s storytelling abilities.

Definitely worth checking out!

Thank you to the author for the ARC.

Book Review: The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon (2019)

The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon by Benedict Patrick

The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon is my first read by Benedict Patrick and was picked for the new indie/self-publishing book club formed on Twitter at 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.

“Welcome to the Darkstar Dimension.”

Mention a book with dragons and I will most definitely sign up to read it. BRING ON ALL THE DRAGON TALES. (Heh, punz.) Add in a fabulous purple cover and I am SOLD. Seriously, this cover art is frakking amazing, I’m so impressed. In fact, all of Benedict Patrick’s books have gorgeous covers.

“The stars,” she said, lowering her voice so only the nearby officers could hear. “Does anyone recognise the stars?”

The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon follows Min, a young ship officer from New Windward recently put in charge of a crew that has somehow ended up in the wrong dimension. The crew are desperate to get home and tensions rise quickly.

The concept of this book was so intriguing to me and I dove headfirst into this story with wide eyes. It gave me similar to vibes to novels like A Wrinkle in Time or The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I love seeing different authors’ concepts of worlds, rifts and portals.

“Travellers to the Darkstar Dimension are not uncommon; the rifts continue to pull in people from other worlds.”

In this new dimension there’s a darkstar and a dragon that likes to encircle it. (So like, A REALLY BIG DRAGON, OKAY?) Min instantly realises she’s in over her head and has to deal with questions and confrontations from the rest of the ship’s crew. She also encounters a stranger with knowledge of the dimension and more than a few tricks up his sleeve.

“I’ve heard others say it’s like a world turned inside out, and we’re left floating on the inside, stuck in here, while everything else around us is mad.”

For those who love plot driven adventure fantasy stories without romance, this is definitely up your alley! And if you like books about dragons and rift worlds and strange planets with pink bubbles and fantastical creatures, definitely give this a try!

Children’s Book Review: Three Lines in a Circle (2021)

Three Lines in a Circle: The Exciting Life of the Peace Symbol by Michael G. Long

[Gerald Holtom] explained that when drawing the symbol, he adopted letters from semaphore, the alphabet used by people sending messages by flags. The two lines pointing downward and to the sides came from the semaphore letter for N, and the center line represented the letter D. Placed on top of each other and enclosed in a circle, the three lines stood for “nuclear disarmament.”

I really loved this little info book about the history and use of the peace symbol. The bulk of the book is a lovely little children’s book with great, vibrant colours and pictures about how the peace symbol has been used for activist movements. Each page lauds diversity, representation and acceptance. Such a lovely overall message! At the end of the book, there’s a history section about the peace symbol with a more in-depth overview that I really enjoyed reading. Definitely recommend!

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.

Book Review: Each Little Universe (2020)

Each Little Universe by Chris Durston

How do you cheer up a star?

I hear girl from the stars and I immediately think Stardust.

Each Little Universe is my first book by Chris Durston, who puts an original spin on the girl from the stars angle in this lovely debut. This book is filled with great quotes, but I’ll just post a few favourites:

So many people were part of his little universe – some still in his orbit, some sailed off elsewhere, and some gone entirely, but all still carried on in some way by the sheer fact that he was still there.

The dialogue and discourse reminded me of novels like Franny and Zooey (or like the movie Before Sunrise), with characters contemplating life with each other, asking big questions.

Fear of the unknown might be the most human of feelings. ♡

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.

Children’s Book Review Roundup

The Mountain by Rebecca Gugger – Oh my gosh, the artwork in this is simply gorgeous and colourful and just so wonderful. I loved all the extra details in each page and the way the animals and their ideas of the mountain are depicted. This is such a lovely little book, definitely give it a shot! Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.

Burt the Beetle Doesn’t Bite! by Ashley Spires – Everything about this book was cute. It follows Burt the beetle as he tries to find out what he excels at in the bug world and how he’ll be of use. He tries out a variety of roles until he finds the perfect fit! The drawings are just absolutely adorable and the info boxes are really informative. This is a great book for teaching kids to keep trying and not give up, while broadening their knowledge of the insect world. Definitely recommend! Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.

The Mole and the Hole by Brayden Kowalczuk – Oh my goodness, the artwork in this book is absolutely P R E C I O U S. I loved every single page. Poor little Mole wanting to get out of his hole, only to be thwarted by the rocks! So, so cute! Definitely recommended for little kids! Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.

Zombies and Electricity by Mark Weakland – If you want to get kids interested in science and electricity, and learning the ins and outs of atoms, protons, electrons and neutrons – well, add some zombies to the mix! I think this is a very clever way of using fun, colourful artwork to provide kids with an interactive, fun little introduction to science.

The Secret Garden: A Graphic Novel, adapted by Mariah Marsden, story by Frances Hodgson Burnett – I have very fond memories of The Secret Garden from my childhood. It’s one of those classics that stays with you forever. Seeing such a lovely book transformed into a graphic novel is super awesome! This one does a lovely job giving new form to a classic. I recommend both! Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.

The Land Puffin by Lori Doody – This is a cute little tale about a parrot who dreams of living by the sea and, determined to do so, journeys to live by the ocean where he finds a colony of puffins. The puffins are welcoming, but Pete the parrot wants to talk more! It’s a bit light on words, but overall a very sweet story about being yourself and doing your own thing. Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.

Albert Einstein by Inspired Inner Genius – This is a truly wonderful little book for young kids to get a starting point on Albert Einstein and his importance to physics. It starts with Einstein at a young age and follows him through school, work, publications and the highlights of his career. The artwork was engaging and colourful, and the structure was easy to read and informative. A great book for young readers! Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.