Nevernight – Jay Kristof

After seeing endless praise for this novel I finally bit the bullet, grabbed a copy and sat down to read it. All I can say is why did I wait this long? Nevernight is the tale of Mia, ten years old when she is forced to watch her father hang, her mother imprisoned and almost finds death herself. That is until old Mercurio takes her in and trains her in the way of the Red Church, preparing her for life as an assassin so she can revenge her familia. We meet her preparing to set off on her journey to train with the Red Church and follow her on her mission to become blade. Will she succeed amount her friends and foes?

 

Never night well and truly surpassed my expectations (despite having not her a bad thing about it prior). All I can say is this is a great, well-rounded fantasy series. The world building is perfection with clearly Italian influences I could picture myself in the world of three suns alongside Mia. I also greatly enjoyed the footnotes scattered throughout the novel providing the reader with extra tidbits of information. All the twists and turns (and there were many) were not in the slightest predictable. I found myself surprised constantly, my suspicions always proven wrong. The writing has a lightness reminiscent of YA novels which is perfectly balanced with all the violence and mayhem of adult fantasy and mark my words, this is definitely adult fiction. Some scenes are very adult and incredibly descriptive.

 

Our protagonist Mia was a charming heroine. Incredibly flawed, definitely bitchy and sassy and yet was relatable and for once not the best at absolutely everything as female fantasy heroines tend to be. I enjoyed learning about her background and finding of what she truly was on the inside. This novel has one of the best first chapters I have read in a long time and it had me gripped from the very beginning, The rest was just as fast-paced keeping my attention from beginning to end and making it very difficult to put down. I do recommend this one to fans of fantasy and I know I’ll be anxiously waiting fro the second instalment, Godgrave, coming in September. I give Nevernight four shadow cats keeping Mia company.

 

 

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A Dog’s Purpose – W. Bruce Cameron

 

Every dog happens for a reason, or so this book’s cover says. I came by this book (unsurprisingly) because it has been made into a movie and I though the concept sounded great. Basically dog buddhism. This novel follows one dog’s many lives, each life  lessons are learnt that help in the next fulfilling this dog’s purpose and providing an unusual perspective on human beings and their relationships.

 

This book was exactly what I expected, no more, no less. A quick and easy, yet consuming read. It certainly did not blow me away but as I expected (and the reason I bought it) it provided me with some simple and heart-warming entertainment on a week off work sick. I have to admit, I love the concept of life after life, learning something new in each to equip you for the next and given dog’s natures the idea of them having a purpose just made sense. They are so loving and loyal that the concept just fits. I loved reading about each life and how they connected to each other over time.

 

A Dog’s Purpose was a quick and easy read. Cutesy and heart-warming. A definite must for any dog lovers out there or anyone wanting something a little beautiful and comforting. I give A Dog’s Purpose three little puppers, because what else really?

 

 

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Vicious – V.E. Schwab

After loving the Darker Shades of Magic trilogy I decided I had to pick up Schwab’s other adult release. Vicious is the tale of Victor and Eli, college roommates both filled with brilliance and ambition. This ambition leads to some dangerous research into EOs, or extraordinaries. After several brushes with death the pair validate their hypotheses with disastrous consequences. Ten years later and Victor has escaped from prison looking for Eli, who has made it his mission to remove all over EOs from existence. Who will win their dramatic showdown?

 

This was another great read from Schwab. Having not read any fiction based on superhero, I really enjoyed her take on the subject – in particular how everyone likes to think they are the hero of their story, but are they really? This novel really turns the trope on its head with the characters of Victor and Eli. Which one is the hero? Both? Neither? Their relationship and the relationship between Sydney and her sister and highlights of the book, both complex and layered I enjoyed learning about these characters. I also loved the theory behind reading the EOs that leads Victor and Eli down the road of experimentation. Mitch was another highlight, probably my favourite character in the book, he balanced out the intense relationships of the other characters.

 

The way the book was written keeps the reader engaged throughout. Switching perspectives and time the plot is slowly revealed and we learn about each other the characters and how they fit together. The novel is fast-paced and leaves you wondering who will be left standing at the end. I love Schwab’s imagination and where it takes her. This story was so different, more science fiction than her other trilogy, which is full fantasy. but just as compelling and engrossing. Vicious was a fun and unique concept with a great mix of characters. I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of superheroes and a bit of light-hearted fun. I give Vicious three guns, ever present in this novel.

 

 

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Forgotten – Nicole Trope

Nicole Trope has been described as Australia’s answer to Jodi Picoult. I can’t say I have ever been a big fan of Picoult myself but I’m always willing to try something new, particularly Australian and I was lucky enough to receive this one as part of my monthly Sensei Subscription. Forgotten is a story of a mother’s worst nightmare. One hot day. A minute of inattention. A missing baby. A race against the clock to avoid disastrous consequences.

 

This was a fast-paced read only taking me a day or two to finish it. I liked the format of the novel with multiple posts of view slowly revealing their pieces of the puzzle. Each point of view was unique with an important perspective to share. We meet four unique women each with their own demons. I very quickly found the “villain” abhorrent and didn’t enjoy her point of view as it was quite despicable and disturbing. The mark of good writing to have such an intense response to this character.

 

The pacing of the novel was perfect keeping the reader on the edge of the seat. I do have to admit I found the ending a little too neat for my liking. Overall I wasn’t a huge fan, however, I attribute this more to the style of book not appealing to my taste rather than any criticism on the novel. Fans of Picoult will enjoy this one, particularly ones who want a bit of an Aussie spin. I give Forgotten three stars, a good read if you enjoy this style of novel.

 

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A Closed and Common Orbit – Becky Chambers

One of my favourite reads in the second half of last year was The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. Intelligent, character-driven and thought-provoking. I was obsessed and needed the companion book. Unfortunately it had just been released so I have to wait an age to get one matching in size (OCD book nerd problems). Finally the day arrived and I couldn’t wait (well, I waited long enough to reread TLWtoSAP, which was a brilliant idea! I fell in love again). A Close and Common Orbit is not exactly a sequel but does follow characters we met in the first novel. Although *spoiler ahead* for the first book! This novel follows Lovelace, the AI we met on the Wayfarer and Pepper, engineer on Port Coriol. After the Wayfarer was damaged Lovelace was forced to reboot and lost her previous memories and experiences. Engineer Pepper comes to her rescue and houses Lovelace in an illegal synthetic body and brings her home to live and work with her. Life isn’t so simple in a synthetic body for Lovelace and we follow her struggles to assimilate, all the while learning just why Pepper would risk her freedom and livelihood for an AI.

 

This was a great read, not quite as captivation as the original novel, this one was more about the nuances and thoughts provoked by the characters and their experiences. I love the way this book was written jumping from Lovelace’s present struggles to act like a human and adjust to not having eyes and ears everywhere, to learning about Pepper’s past and where she came from. This is not quite as endearing or action-packed as you might expect but it does give the reader a lot of food for thought in the unique way that only Chambers can. I love her imagination and ability to write from every single angle possible in ways that will surprise you. I think her novels are really clever. Quietly intelligent and will challenge your thinking. The characters are unique and loveable. This was a really engaging science fiction read and lets be honest, has one of the best covers going. I highly recommend this one for lovers of sci-fi and those with an interest in social interactions and psychology – you might find this an enlightening read. I give A Closed and Common Orbit three space ships, important objects within this story.

 

 

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Anansi Boys – Neil Gaimen

I adored American Gods so had to continue and read Anansi Boys, unfortunately that also meant that it had a lot to live up to. While not exactly a sequel to American Gods Anansi Boys follows Fat Charlie, the son of Mr. Nancy, a god we cross paths with in the original novel. Fat Charlie’s father has died and on his passing discovers that his father was a god. Not any old god but Anansi, the trickster spider. This information sets off a series of events that turn’s Fat Charlie’s life upside down whether he likes it or not.

 

Overall, this one fell a tad short for me. That isn’t to say I don’t think it is a great read but I did have extremely high expectations after American Gods. In comparison I found Anansi Boys much like most of his novels, fable-like and light-hearted, which I do love but I found myself wanting something a little grittier, with the same depth and complexities that I found within American Gods. Realistically high expectations aside, this is your typical Gaiman, fun, unpredictable and ridiculously entertaining. In particular I loved the naming of the chapters, it gave me a laugh at the beginning of each one.

 

I did find that the characters in this novel didn’t quite capture my interest as much as his usually do. In fact some of his characters are up there on my list of all-time favourites. I didn’t feel as invested in Fat Charlie, Spider, Rosie or Daisy and that perhaps hampered my ability to fall in love with this novel. That being said, this was a pleasant and easy read that I could easily pick up and put down again. I also really enjoyed leaving about the folklore surrounding Anansi, in particular that Anansi’s stories have also been attributed to Brer Rabbit, a firm favourite from my childhood thanks to Enid Blyton. I would recommend this to all of Gaiman’s fans, those who enjoy folklore tales and anyone who wants am easy-going read that will stretch your imagination. I give Anansi Boys three spiders, Anansi’s kin.

 

 

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One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying was a super quick and fun read. Five walking cliches walk into detention. Only four walk out. This is the Breakfast Club with a murder mystery twist. A jock. A princess. A geek. A criminal. One dead outcast. Each one of them is hiding something, but which one of them did it? Well, you will just have to read and find out.

 

I read this novel easily in less than twenty-four hours. I don’t often read young adult fiction and even rarer, one that is not fantasy but I thoroughly enjoyed this one and read most of it with a ridiculous grin on my face. As a fan of the Breakfast Club I also couldn’t help myself but picture Cooper, Addy and Nate as Emilio Esteves, Molly Ringwood and Judd Nelson respectively (I only rematched it just last week).

 

The prose and storyline were pretty simple and straight forward, which was a nice change after reading The Shadow of the Wind the day before. The books is built on cliches and even their secrets are a tad cliche (which I don’t say in a negative way) so if you aren’t one for stereotypes maybe give this a miss, the entire premise is built on it. I really enjoyed the stereotypes at the beginning that left room for character development within the novel and I came to love each and everyone of the characters by the end of the novel, Addy in particular. The twists were not too farfetched but work within the range of the plot and finish the story off nicely.

 

Overall this was fun and consuming, a great young adult read – especially if you are a fan of the Breakfast Club (seriously, if you haven’t watched it please do so immediately) with a side of mystery with great pacing. I give One of Us is Lying three mobile phones, key to the mystery.

 

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