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!

Book Review: Behind Closed Doors, B A Paris

It seems weird to say now, but a few years ago I had to be convinced that a tablet was something I needed in my life. Not in the medical sense, the electronic. I just didn’t see the point; I already had a phone, a laptop, a TV and a Kindle, I counted myself lucky enough and didn’t need another piece of technology in my life. Now, I don’t know what I’d do without one. I use mine every day for gaming, reading, watching, blogging, you name it, and during our house move it’s been my best friend.

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My whole house may have been in boxes, but my sofa was sat in the living room and I had my tablet, so all was well with the world. Anywho, I digress, what I actually want to tell you about today is the debut novel by the talented B A Paris, Behind Closed Doors. It was one of the 12 books I chose at the start of the year, and my messy handwritten notes tell me it was my ‘Psychological Thriller’ choice.

That was all I remembered when I started reading, and admittedly I almost gave up within the first 10 pages. It opens at a dinner party between couples, and our main character Grace is desperate for her husband’s approval with the three-course dinner she’s prepared for the guests. Ugh. What happened to cooking together? Then she gushes about how perfect her marriage with Jack is, and shares photos from their perfect Honeymoon abroad. Double ugh. I went back to read the blurb to try and work out what tempted me to read this in the first place, and then I realised.

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You see, the seemingly perfect marriage is the whole point of the story. Grace is always immaculately dressed, the house is spotless, and she loves her husband dearly. They go on holiday together regularly, and stay in the nicest hotels. You know what’s odd though? If you ever invite Grace out to lunch, she’ll either cancel last minute or turn up with Jack in tow. You’d like her number to keep in touch? Sorry, she doesn’t have her own mobile phone. Also, why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows? Why indeed!

For a book I thought was going to annoy me, I read Behind Closed Doors in record timing, for me at least. I just had to know what happened next. At 353 pages, it’s not the longest novel in the world, and you could easily read it over a weekend if you were so inclined. To tell you any more would be giving too much of the story away, but let me tell you, I’m sure I nearly passed out during the last few chapters because I was holding my breath, I was so tense.

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I think Behind Closed Doors could make a great movie too, without the need to cut much material. The dialogue would need some work, because on paper it comes across almost pantomime-like at times, a little over dramatic I think. Nonetheless, I would definitely recommend this book to you.

B A Paris is releasing her second novel, The Breakdown, later this year, and I’m quite excited to give it a read!

Book Review: Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty

I’ve been putting off writing this review for so long, that I’ve actually finished reading another book already. Thing is, I don’t like being a negative nelly, but I had such a love/hate relationship with this book. Picking a book to read is so much different than picking a movie to watch. With a movie, you know the cast, you’ve seen at least 1 feature trailer, and you’ve got a pretty good idea about the plot.

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When it comes to a book, you don’t know any of the characters, and personally, I like to make the decision from the blurb on the back and recommendations alone. It’s fun to go in as blind as possible. I haven’t read enough to know what my favourite book genre is yet, but when I read the blurb for Truly Madly Guilty, I got a little bit giddy with excitement. It sounded like my favourite kind of movie! Here it is if you’ve never heard of the book before:

“Despite their differences, Erika and Clementine have been best friends since they were children. So when Erika needs help, Clementine should be the obvious person to turn to. Or so you’d think. For Clementine, as a mother of a two desperately trying to practise for the audition of a lifetime, the last thing she needs is Erika asking for something, again.

But the barbecue should be the perfect way to forget their problems for a while. Especially when their hosts, Vid and Tiffany, are only too happy to distract them.

Which is how it all spirals out of control…”

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Essentially, you have 3 couples who meet one day for a barbecue. Each chapter focuses on the viewpoint of one of these characters, first in the present day, dealing with the aftermath of what transpired, and then on the day of the barbecue itself, and as the book goes on you slowly start to learn just what happened that has caused so much chaos and upset.

The main issue I had was just HOW LONG this book was, and how many pages were used telling me nothing at all. I think it was over half way that I finally learnt what happened, and by then my reaction was sort of ‘is that it?’. It was a terrible thing that happened of course, but given so much time to come up with theories, I genuinely thought a murder had happened that someone was trying to cover up.

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I spent every day reading this having a not so quiet rage about how I still didn’t know what happened, and when I did, I raged about how it shouldn’t have been that big of a deal. Plus, by the time I learned what went down, I kind of stopped caring all together. There was a final twist towards the very end that struck a chord with me, but it was built up to in such a way that you kind of assumed it was coming.

What also didn’t help was that every character is easy to hate at multiple parts of the story. That wouldn’t matter so much if there was a lot going on, but so much time is spent just describing these characters in their day to day lives, that they just grate on your nerves a little.

Still, I think it’s a book that’s worth reading, but the key is setting your expectations at the right level before going in. Perhaps that’s my fault for going in practically blind, or expecting a Gone Girl style twist, but I expected too much. If you can focus on every chapter and enjoy it for what it is, I imagine it would be a very enjoyable read! It hasn’t put me off Liane Moriarty as a writer though, because I’ve heard her other novels are great, so watch this space.

Book Review: Bloodline, Claudia Gray

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! What are you going to be doing this evening? My husband and I have already reached that “can’t be bothered to go out” stage so we’re cooking a meal together and watching Crazy Stupid Love, which is slowly going to become our Valentine’s Day movie, I can feel it. I’ve been a bit AWOL on the blog for the last few days, it’s been a bit of an odd week, but I think I’m back now!

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Anyway, with the fear of falling behind on book reviews, I wanted to share my thoughts on the very first Star Wars novel I’ve ever read, which is Bloodline, by Claudia Gray. It wasn’t until doing some research that I realised just how many Star Wars novels have been written, which is completely intimidating, but I chose Bloodline as it was written since Disney took over so is classed as ‘canon’, and it’s set just a few years before The Force Awakens takes place. I guess part of me thought I’d learn a little more about Kylo Ren whilst he was still Ben Solo, but this book is focused on Princess Leia.

Claudia Gray is a Young Adult Fiction writer living in New Orleans. She has written nearly 20 published novels so far, and Bloodline isn’t her only Star Wars novel. She Also wrote Lost Stars, which has found a place on my ‘to read’ list.

As I mentioned, this is my first Star Wars novel. You should also know that although I’ve developed a possibly unhealthy love for everything Star Wars, I’m extremely new to it all. I basically sat and watched every movie 2 months before The Force Awakens came out, and converted into a fan from that. I can tell you that Han shot first, I could name you 5 planets without thinking too hard, and I could hold my own in a debate about theories, but I’m still pretty inexperienced.

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Why am I telling you this? Because my first thought when reading Bloodline was ‘I wasn’t expecting it to be so…political’. I know that sounds stupid. This is a WAR. Of course it’s political! But regardless, it took nearly a third of the book before I actually got into the swing of it. Bloodline deals with what Leia went through as a member of the Galactic Senate before The First Order rose, and a fateful mission she undertakes with fellow Senator Ransolm Casterfo.

So, from what I learnt, there are two factions within the New Republic. Leia is part of the Populists, who favour autonomy, and Casterfo is part of the Centrists, who favour a stronger government and military. The fact that Leia and Casterfo joined forces for a particular mission is notable, as the two factions rarely work well together, although Casterfo has several ideals that Leia firmly disagrees with.

As for my reasons for reading Bloodline, I didn’t learn much about Ben Solo, but I guess I never expected to. I’ll just have to wait till The Last Jedi. Ben is mentioned only in Leia’s thoughts, but I learnt that Han Solo never expected to become a Father, nor did he want Ben to train with Luke. Han wanted to teach Ben racing.

Once I got into the swing of it all, and got my head around the politics, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the story. It definitely picks up pace in the last third, and was gripping from then on. To tell you much about it would be a disservice to the book, because there are plenty of twists and turns along the way, but if like me, you’re looking to get into the Star Wars novels, Bloodline is a good starting point.

Book Review: The Fireman, Joe Hill

After speeding through my first two books of the year at an alarming speed, I forced myself to read the longest book on my list next to slow myself down. The Fireman by Joe Hill definitely qualifies as long with a whopping 747 pages long. I guess this would be the part where I smugly tell you all about Joe Hill and how he’s the son of the legendary author Stephen King, but err, I only found that fact out myself after already finishing The Fireman.

Sigh…just when I thought I knew what I was talking about when it came to movies, I’m a hopeless novice all over again!

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Let me tell you about the book, I can manage that much. The Fireman is the story of a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion (called Draco Incendia Trychophyton) that is threatening to wipe out civilization. The symptoms are easy enough to spot, because an infected person has intricate, black and gold markings on their skin, nicknamed Dragonscale. There is no known cure for the issue, and attempts to look after the infected are leading to entire hospitals and cities being burnt to the ground.

Harper started out as a school nurse but when everything started going south, she moved to work at her local hospital to help as many of the infected as she could. When Harper herself becomes infected with Dragonscale, her husband Jakob is horiffied. The two of them had a pact to end their lives together if they were both to become infected, but when Harper realises she is pregnant, she choses to live instead. This sends Jakob crazy (literally) and Harper is forced to flee for her life.

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She’s rescued by Captain America and Tony the Tiger (I’m only half-joking) who lead her to The Fireman, a man named John who is also infected, but not only can he control the spore, he can use it in a multitude of ways. To tell you how would be ruining the story. The Fireman leads Harper to a camp full of others like her, infected people who have learnt to keep the Dragonscale under control.

I’m not going to lie, this was tough to read. Firstly, I was well out of my depth. I don’t watch horror movies, and I’ve never read a horror novel, so it took me a while to get used to. Thankfully, my overactive imagination didn’t give me nightmares, but The Fireman would be a grim movie! It’s a long book, like I said, but it struggles with pacing issues. One day I would burn through (pun intended) several chapters without noticing the time, another it felt like every line I read was a chore.

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Ultimately, it was worth it in the end. A long book means spending a lot of time with the main characters, and I really grew to love them. Except Jakob, who is possibly the world’s biggest douche bag. There are plenty of surprising twists and turns along the way, and never for a second did I ever think I knew how it would end.

If you have the time to spare, I would definitely recommend giving The Fireman a read. I think I heard that the rights have been sold to 21st Century Fox. I hope they’ll put it on the big screen soon! I think it would make a fantastic TV Series to be perfectly honest, but that’s just me!

Book Review: It Ends With Us, Colleen Hoover

I don’t mean to brag, but it’s the middle of January and I’ve just finished reading my second book. If I read one more, I’ll have read the same number of books than I read in the entirety of 2016. Okay, that’s not that impressive I know, and my movie watching is suffering because of it, but I’m just so glad to be a bookworm again!

For my second read, I picked something from my list like nothing I’ve read before, a romance! For a while I asked myself if Fifty Shades counted as a romance, and then because I’m totally now a hoity-toity book person I scoffed at myself and told myself no, they absolutely do not count, now sit yourself down and read a real romance novel.

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So, what is It Ends With Us all about? Let me tell you as little as possible, because you’ll thank me if you end up reading it for yourself. Our main character Lily lives in Boston, with dreams of setting up her own business. She’s determined, and strong, and she makes that dream a reality. She meets a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle one night, and they hit it right off, but said their goodbyes when they realised they want very different things when it comes to relationships.

However, fate brings them together again as it always does in this genre (movie wise at least, I’m new to this) and it’s such a delight when they get together. Everything is going swimmingly until one night when Lily happens across someone from her past. Speaking of which, Lily had a very troubled life as a child, which as readers we get to learn all about, through Lily’s old journals.

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These moments were some of my favourites, as young Lily wrote her journals in the form of letters to Ellen DeGeneres. I love this, and it sounds like the kind of thing I would have done, only I’m not sure who I would have addressed my entries to. Probably Sabrina the Teenage Witch, or Kenan and Kel! Anyway, it’s through these journals that we learn about Lily’s first love, Atlas.

However, just as I was really getting into the sickly sweet romantic parts, daydreaming about Dr Ryle Kincaid wearing scrubs and that stethoscope (sorry dear Husband of mine, if you’re reading) I had the metaphorical rug pulled out from under my feet. Believe me when I say that this book gets dark. I was barely getting over the shock of it all when my heart was broken into a million pieces.

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I don’t want to say any more than that because it would be a disservice to the book and it’s fantastically talented author Colleen Hoover, but I haven’t felt this way about a book since a certain death in a Harry Potter book, when I wanted to do a Joey from Friends and put it in the freezer to keep me safe. Technology be damned, my kindle wouldn’t thank me for putting it in the freezer for a few hours so it had to go in a cupboard instead.

Well worth a read! If you’ve read it already leave me a comment, I need to talk to someone!