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The Outsider, Stephen King

It’s only taken me over half of 2018, but I actually started and finished a book! Huzzah! Just 5 more to go to reach the goal I set myself in January, the goal I thought would be fairly achievable. Oops. I told myself to pick a standalone book rather than one in part of a series, just until I get back into the flow of reading more. After enjoying the Mr. Mercedes trilogy by Stephen King so much last year, I knew I couldn’t do wrong by picking his latest novel, The Outsider.

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So the gist of the story is this. A young boy named Frank Peterson has been found dead after being brutally raped and murdered. The case is an awful but simple one, as there are multiple eye-witnesses, fingerprints, blood, and DNA samples that point to one man, Terry Maitland. What’s shocking is that Terry is such a well-loved man in the community.

After Terry is arrested publically by Detective Ralph Anderson and his colleagues, more evidence is uncovered that completely contradicts what has been found already. It turns out Terry wasn’t even in the City when the murder was committed – but how?

I absolutely love a mystery story, so I was hooked on this instantly. Once I get myself into a good book I just can’t stop myself so I’ve had a few late nights recently! I obviously don’t want to go into the specifics of the story because it’s something you should read without knowing much at all, but if you’re a fan of the genre I’m sure you’ll love this.

Here’s the best part though. I was so gutted when I finished the Mr. Mercedes trilogy. I’d become so invested in the main characters and I simply wasn’t ready to let them go. However! In the midst of all the chaos involved in the investigation in The Outsider, Holly Gibney gets involved! My poor husband seemed so confused when I excitedly tried to tell him very early one morning!

Dear Stephen King – can we please have more Holly? She might just be my favourite fictional character ever!

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Book (so far) Review: Mistborn: The Final Empire, Brandon Sanderson

It feels a bit silly to write about a book I haven’t even finished yet, but I have my reasons. Firstly, it was one of my resolutions to read 6 new books this year, working out at a generous 2 months per book. Well, it’s the last day of February and I haven’t managed it yet. Secondly, it’s been ages since I’ve written about a book here, and I didn’t want to wait any longer!

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My favourite book series’ are The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss and The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks. I’ve re-read both multiple times and so I’ve been on the hunt for something similar to sink my teeth into (and obsess over) for a while now. The name Brandon Sanderson has cropped up many a time and so I decided my first book of the year would be the first of his Mistborn trilogy, The Final Empire.

I don’t know where to start in describing the story so far, because the worldbuilding is just so detailed! The main fantasy element however is called Allomancy, and it’s fascinating. Basically, Allomancers are people with the ability to ‘burn’ a metal within themselves to use it’s power. There are 8 basic metals and 2 higher ones, and each has it’s own special ability. Allomancers can only use 1 type of metal, but there are very few people out there who are Mistborn, meaning they can ‘burn’ all metals.

The way Brandon Sanderson describes the use of these powers is brilliant, I can picture the action so clearly in my head. It’s taken me a while to familiarise myself with the many characters involved, but I’m half way through now and definitely into the pace of it all by now.

What I found weird was when I first started reading the book, I got the craziest feeling of deja vu, to the point I knew how the first chapter was going to end. I can only assume I started reading it years and years ago perhaps from my local library and never carried on further!

Anyway, I’ll be back sometime soon with a proper review once I’m done, but I am loving the book so far! Has anyone else read the Mistborn trilogy? What did you think? I’m hoping it doesn’t take me the entire year to finish, because I have a feeling I’m going to want to start book 2 straight away which is even bigger than the first…

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Book Review: Lily and the Octopus, Steven Rowley

At the start of the year, when I decided 2017 was going to be my year of getting back into reading, I compiled a starting list for myself of 12 books all from different genres. The aim was to broaden my spectrum a little, to see if I could find love for a new genre, and generally to try some books I would never have given a second thought. I’ve gone through most of that list now, but the one that’s taken me the longest has been Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley.

Steven Rowley is most notably a paralegal and a screenwriter, but after writing a short story about the death of his dog, he was encouraged by his boyfriend to turn it into a novel and try to get it published.

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Lily and the Octopus is a real life story, based on the author’s dachshund named Lily. Lily’s owner Ted is a gay male in his 40’s still dealing with a painful breakup, when one morning he notices Lily isn’t very well, and has an ‘octopus’ on her head. If you’ve ever read a book or watched a movie about a tragic dog’s tale, you’ll know what that octopus actually is.

Admittedly, I nearly gave up on this book several times. It’s just not what I’m used to, and it takes a while to get sucked into the fantasy of it all, because the story is written from Ted’s perspective, where Lily can not only talk, but also play Monopoly and make smart remarks about pop culture. It’s a lot to get used to!

However, it’s not a very long book at 320 pages, and so most experienced readers (more than I) could probably burn through the story rather quickly. I struggled to warm to Ted, he’s quite a selfish character despite his love for Lily. The best example I can give is his annoyance whilst at his Sister’s wedding when people were paying more attention to the bride rather than him, because of the news about Lily’s deteriorating health.

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I can forgive that because of Lily herself, who is a little ray of sunshine in a gloomy world. As the book approached its inevitable end, I found myself ridiculously emotional. I thought that reading the words on the page rather than watching it happen on a screen would be easier to deal with, but if anything my imagination just made it all the more real.

I’m in two minds on whether I would recommend this book to be honest, it wasn’t my favourite, but gosh darn it will make you want to hug your pets tightly if you do. Proceed with caution, that’s all I’ll say on the matter!

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Book Review: Dark Matter, Blake Crouch

It sure has been a while since I wrote a post about a book I’ve recently finished! It’s not entirely because I stopped reading, either. I actually started reading the Mr Mercedes trilogy by Stephen King, and by the time I got to writing about it I was half way through book 2, and thought I may as well do a whole post for the trilogy at that point. While I attempt to put my thoughts on it into words though, I managed to whizz through another book in less than a week, and I loved it so much I couldn’t wait any longer to tell you about it!

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If you haven’t heard the name Blake Crouch, you might have heard of the TV Show Wayward Pines, based on a trilogy of books of the same name, written by, you guessed it, Blake Crouch! I’d like to read the trilogy at some point, but when I put my hit list together at the start of the year, Dark Matter was my Science Fiction pick. I’ve never read a Sci-Fi novel before so I was quite cautious, especially as I get quite baffled by the complexity of some Sci-Fi movies.

So what’s Dark Matter all about? Similar to Wayward Pines, the less you know the better, but I’ll fill you in as best as I can. Jason Dessen is an average, everyday man. He’s happily married to a beautiful wife, they have a Son together and live in a comfortable brownstone house in the city of Chicago. Jason had the potential when he was younger to be a brilliant scientist, and his wife Daniela was an aspiring artist, but they both had to give up their dreams when their child came along.

One night, as Jason is on his way home from a bar, he’s kidnapped, forced to drive to an abandoned warehouse, told to strip off and is attacked and injected with something that puts him out cold. He awakens in a laboratory filled with scientists congratulating him on his work. When he escapes, understandably confused, he realises the world he’s in isn’t his own. His home is there, but it isn’t his, Daniela is there, but she isn’t his wife.

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It’s that kind of book that grips you from the word go, thanks to this character Jason who is likeable and relatable in so many ways. Just when you think you’ve got a grip on what’s happening, the rug is pulled out from under your feet, and just when you think you’ve grasped the scientific elements to the story, something else is thrown at you that flummoxes you completely.

I was so hooked that I was reading every night until I quite literally fell asleep into my tablet screen!

I’ve since read that the movie rights have been bought, but nothing’s actually happened. I almost hope it stays that way. This book is far too complex to be packed into a 2-hour movie, but it would be fantastic to watch for sure. It would work so much better as a mini-series, something perhaps smaller than Fargo and a little bigger than The Night Manager.

Has anyone else read Dark Matter? What did you think?

Book Review: Velcro: The Ninja Kat by Chris Widdop

Today’s book review is a really exciting one for me to write. I don’t think I’m quite into the swing of how to actually review a book yet (heck, 3 years in and I’m not sure how to properly review a movie either) but when you’re blogging about something created by someone you actually know, that’s a pretty big deal!

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I may not know Chris Widdop, author of Velcro: The Ninja Kat personally, but I’ve been a follower of his blog ‘This is Madness!‘ for at least a couple of years now, and when you read someone’s views and thoughts for that amount of time, you definitely feel like you know them. I was over the moon when Chris emailed me and asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing his novel, and he was kind enough to gift me the whole trilogy!

Set in the fictional Country of Widows, a military organisation called the Devil Corps aren’t what they seem, and are waging war against the citizens they swore to protect. Only the Ninja Kat is aware of this, and has been fighting against them for some time now, solo. To some, the Ninja Kat is a criminal, and the book throws us right into the action where the Ninja Kat is ambushed and injured by those who perceive the Kat as evil.

The Kat’s journey leads to a small village of hamsters who have been deeply affected by the Devil Corps. Their village has been destroyed, and several of the villagers have been kidnapped. On the Kat’s journey to rescue the hamster villagers, we as readers learn much more about this fictional world, the history of the Devil Corps, and the tragic history of the Ninja Kat, with plenty of twists and turns throughout.

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It’s amazing that Chris fit so much action into a relatively small novel, in fact, the pace never lets up. It’s a blessing and a curse, because I never managed to find a good point to stop, so I burned through the pages much faster than I normally would! The world that Chris has created is fascinating, and the characters all being animals opens up a great opportunity for creativity, which was seized at every opportunity. It’s a serious read, but I chuckled to myself when I read about the hamster’s style of armour, and the Kat’s reaction to bees.

I’m so glad now that Chris gifted me the whole trilogy, because although the first book has a very satisfying end, it also made me want to pick up book 2 straight away!

What I love the most about this opportunity is that The Ninja Kat isn’t the kind of book I would automatically pick up from a shelf, but I enjoyed every single page. So thanks Chris, both for giving me the opportunity to read your work and for opening my eyes to a totally new genre!

If you want to give the book a read yourself, I know it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats, but Chris Widdop himself can be contacted through his official website http://www.velcrotheninjakat.com if you wanted to find out more.

P.S. Chris – your cat is gorgeous!