Monday, 28 March 2016

2016 Reading Challenge: Book 6 - Lady Midnight

This is also my first finished book for Modern Mrs Darcy's 2016 Reading Challenge.  Yay, it's only taken nearly 4 months to read one! Lol.

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Why I Chose This Book: I chose this book as it is a new book in the Shadowhunter world.
Genre: Fiction
Date Started: 16/03/2016  Date Finished: 28/03/2016
Would I Recommend This Book: Yes, if you are a fan of the other Shadowhunter books (The Mortal Instruments or Infernal Devices), then you will enjoy this book.

My Review
I did enjoy this book, but I felt that it was a little too long.  As I was reading it on the Kindle, I felt that although I was getting through chapters, the percentage wasn't going up very much.  I had to Google the length of this book and was surprised to find it was a monster at 720 pages long!  I think for the first book in a new series, this is quite long.  The story was quite padded out with other plot lines that didn't always seem to flow with the main plot line.  I'm sure there is a reason for it and no doubt it will all come with the rest of the series, but I felt that some of it wasn't needed for this book.

For the main storyline though, the book takes us five years after the Dark War to the lives of Julian Blackthorn and Emma Carstairs at the LA institute.  We do get snippets of what has happened in that time for our other favourite Shadowhunters, but ultimately, this is Emma & Julians story.

It starts with the LA Shadowhunters finding out about some odd mundane and fae killings in the area, which links to the death of Emma's parents.  The young Shadowhunters investigate the killings without the Clave knowing and get themselves caught up into more than what they initially thought.

I can't really say much more than that without giving away spoilers.  As I said above, I did really enjoy the story.  It's introduced us to the new generation of the Blackthorn family and it has introduced some new characters.  Other than the slowness of the book, we have some good action scenes, a bit of romance and the usually emotional rollercoaster that Cassie Clare gives us in her novels.  I will be reading the others of the series and look forward to them coming out, but this book hasn't taken over from The Infernal Devices as my favourite Shadowhunter series.

Jackie. x

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

2016 Reading Challenge: Books 4 & 5 - Clockwork Prince & Clockwork Princess

As I have read these two in quick succession, I felt it was only fair to review them together.

Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2)Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Why I chose this book: With the release of Lady Midnight coming up, I really wanted to finish The Infernal Devices series.
Genre: Fiction
Date Started: 22/02/2016  Date Finished: 07/03/2016
Would I Recommend this Book: Yes, I would say it is suitable for girls and boys from teens upwards.  For anyone who enjoys The Mortal Instruments or The Infernal Devices, this is a must read.

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Why I chose this book: After reading Clockwork Prince, I needed to read this one!
Genre: Fiction
Date Started: 11/03/2016  Date Finished: 15/03/2016
Would I Recommend this Book: Yes, definitely, for the same reasons as above!

My Review
I loved, loved, loved these two books.  As you know, I don't like to put spoilers in my reviews, so for that reason, I will have to keep this short and sweet!  I am also going to be reviewing both these books as a whole, rather than breaking them down.

It's been quite a few months since I read Clockwork Angel, so my memory of it was a little rusty.  Within the first couple of chapters I managed to catch up though, so the break didn't hold me back.

I love Cassie Clare's writing and I love how she develops all her characters, not just the main ones.  It would be so easy for her to focus on the main three, Tessa, Jem and Will, but she draws us in with the others.  I especially loved the character of Sophie outside of our main three.

Some people may be sad with Tessa's initial choice of fiance in Clockwork Prince, but I think the way it played out in Clockwork Princess really added to the emotions of the story.  I was heartbroken for the last few chapters and most especially the epilogue in Clockwork Princess.

Whilst it's not all fighting, the action in this book is not lacking.  There is just the right balance between love story and action.

I really hope this isn't the last we see of Tessa.  I'm really hoping she might pop up in The Dark Artifices series.  I am also very tempted to buy The Bane Chronicles to find out more about Magnus.  I loved Magnus in these two books, especially Clockwork Princess.  I thought it really added to his character and gave us more of an insight to his (slightly) younger self.

In summary, if your a fan of The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices or even the Shadowhunters TV show, then you will love this series.

Jackie. x

Friday, 19 February 2016

2016 Reading Challenge: Book 3 - Spy for the Queen of Scots

You may notice that I have skipped from Book 1 to Book 3.  The reason for this, is that Book 2 is a series book.  I will be posting a review for Book 2, but as my next read will be the sequel, I thought I would review the two together.

In the meantime, lets move on to Book 3:

Spy for the Queen of ScotsSpy for the Queen of Scots by Theresa Breslin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Why I chose this book: I saw this book at a book sale and we purchased it for the library I work at.  I was drawn to the book as I have recently been watching the Netflix show 'Reign', based on the life of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Date Started: 13/02/2016  Date Finished: 17/02/2016
Would I Recommend this Book: Yes, most definitely.  I would say this would appeal to anyone interested in historical fiction and would be suited for 14+.

My Review
The story tells us of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots from the view of her closest friend, Lady Ginette (Jenny for short).  Jenny realises quite early on that Mary's life is in jeopardy and makes it her personal mission to spy on Mary's enemies at court to try to keep Mary out of as much danger as possible.

Now, I will start off and say that I love historical fiction, but I am not a history buff and therefore do not know the factual in's and out's of Mary's history.  For this and other books of the genre, I enjoy them for what they are.....a fictional story based on real life events.  As such, I accept that things will be altered or dramatised for the sake of the story.  

In terms of this particular book, I felt that the timeline worked well.  Again, I wouldn't know if the dates given were exact, but seeing as the exact date was only given for key events, I would imagine they would be correct.  The rest of the book was pretty vague, with just the season or month given.  I found the book to be realistic to the era and the story believable and enjoyable.  

I loved the characters of Jenny and listening to her view of life.  The book certainly displays a completely different view of Mary to which the show 'Reign' does.  I also enjoyed how the Scots accent that is written in the book.  When reading, I was able to read in a Scottish accent, which as a welsh person, I normally wouldn't be able to do.

I read some reviews which slated the love story between Jenny and Duncan.  I quite enjoyed it.  I do enjoy a love story and I enjoyed the 'will then, won't they' that ran through this.  I also liked that we as readers were also left on the edge of wondering if Duncan was a good or bad guy and we only find out at the same time as Jenny as to what side of the fence he sits on.

It has left me with a desire to look further in to Mary's story and read/watch more historical fiction based on her life.

To summarise, if you love historical fiction and/or would like to read about Mary, Queen of Scots, then this book is definitely for you!

Jackie. x

Monday, 25 January 2016

TV Review: Shadowhunters

To start with, apologies in advance.  Rant alert coming up!  I know this isn't a book review, but I've been wanting to do a write up on this since I watched the first episode a couple of weeks ago as it's annoyed me so much!!

Warning: This post will contain spoilers on the first two episodes of Shadowhunters.

For those who've not yet seen the show, here's a sneak peak from Episode 1:

If you haven't heard of Shadowhunters, this is a new weekly show based on Cassandra Clare's popular book series, The Mortal Instruments.  In the US, you can find the show on the Freeform (ABC) channel and here in the UK, it's available the following day on Netflix.

Firstly, I am a huge fan of the books.  I loved reading The Mortal Instruments and have started on The Infernal Devices series.  The first book of her next Shadowhunter series The Dark Artifices is on my MMD 2016 Reading Challenge to read list. 

Before reading the books, I watched the movie, which was ok, but not amazing.  It was from watching the movie that I could see the potential of the books. 

I think this is why I was so massively disappointed by episode one of the TV show.  I had seen a couple of reviews online that things were different to the books, so I was expecting some of this.  I was prepared to watch the show, much in the same way that I do for The Vampire Diaries, where the show has just taken some key points from the books, but all in all, is completely different.  

That said, there are certain things that I felt should not be messed with and unfortunately, this show messed with them!  

One such thing is the drawing of runes.  Fans of the books know that the Shadowhunters draw the lines of the runes on the skin, but in the show the kinda 'swipe' the stele across the skin and the rune appears.  I mean come on! WTF! Aaarggh.  The show did redeem itself slightly in episode two, in which Jase did actually draw a rune onto his skin, but it does seem very hit or miss as to whether it is done for every rune. 

The other thing that really wound me up was the use of the Seraph blade.  In the books, to 'activate' a Seraph blade, the name of the blade needs to be called out.  All blades have names based on the Angels.  In the show however, the Shadowhunters are able to activate a blade by simply touching it!! With this and the accompanying sound effects, the show has likened them to lightsabers! Grrr.

Another peeve for me were the characters of Luke and Simon.  Luke has been changed from being a loveable meek bookstore owner to being a 'badass' cop, helping to cover up Downworlder crimes from 'mundanes' and Simon has also been changed from being totally geeky (film Simon was perfect casting) to being a muscly hunk!

That said, the show isn't a complete flop.  The main cast, Clary, Jase, Isobel, Alec and Magnus all seem to be well cast (although why they couldn't get a real blonde for Jase, rather than a bad dye job, I don't know!).  There are lots of things that have been changed that work for the show (not saying is better than the book, but it doesn't ruin the show).  I'm hoping after a couple more episodes, the above grievances won't be quite so infuriating!

Jackie. x

Saturday, 9 January 2016

2016 Reading Challenge: Book 1 - Goth Girl & The Wuthering Fright

So, here we have the first review of the year!

Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright (Goth Girl, #3)Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright by Chris Riddell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Why I chose this book: As I work in a school library, we have in stock the Goth Girl series of books.  I loved the general appearance of this book, from the shiny pages, to the illustrations.
Genre: Children's Fiction
Date Started: 30/12/2015   Date Finished: 07/01/2016
Would I Recommend this Book? Most definitely YES!  I would say that this book would appeal mainly to girls aged between 9-14.

My Review
I loved this book!  As mentioned above, the shiny pages first caught my attention to the book.  I tried to take a picture of this, but I really didn't do it justice!  This is the third in the series, but to be honest, you don't need to read them in order.  I didn't feel like I was missing any part of the story from not reading the others.  

I loved the story and the play on names for the characters.  'Hands Christmas Anderson' and 'Dean Torville' may go over a lot of children's heads, but I'm sure the adults will love them.  

In terms of the story, this book tells us of the goings on at Ghastly-Gorm Hall during the Christmas holidays.  In this particular year, Ghastly-Gorm Hall pays host to the Literary Dog Show, where fictional (kind of) world famous writers participate with their dogs in a number of tasks to be crowned the winner.  Of course, not all goes smoothly and there are some strange goings on that needs investigating.  

All in all, I thought that this was a fun story and I think this will be loved by girls and possibly boys everywhere.  After finishing the book, my initial thought is that it is suitable for ages 9-14, however, after my Goodreads posted on my Facebook wall, a friend commented that her 7 year old daughter loves this series of books.  She did explain to say that her 7 year old isn't quite able to read this by herself, but that it's something they enjoy together.  The opinion given by my friends daughter is that she likes them "as they are adventurous and she likes reading about what life was like in the past".

The illustrations in this book is stunning.  As you can see in my pictures, they are so fun and suit the story so well.  I also really enjoyed the 'Cogwheel Foot Notes'.  They just add that extra bit of fun to them and explain a little more about places or characters.  

All in all, this was a very enjoyable read and would be the perfect addition to any pre-teens bookshelf.

Jackie. x

2016 Reading Challenge update...

Hello all, how are we?

Just before I post my first review of the year, I thought I'd do a little update to the 2016 Reading Challenge and let you know what books I have added to my list so far.

As mentioned in my last post, I have decided to join in with MMD's 2016 Reading Challenge.  I have been loving thinking of which books to pick.  The only downside is that I want to read SOOO much that I'm struggling with narrowing it down to just one book per category!  This is my list so far:

A Book Published This Year

In looking up what books are due to be published this year, I was super stoked to find that there is a new Shadowhunters series due out this year!  I'm still to finish the Infernal Devices, but loved the original Shadowhunter series and Clockwork Angel.  Lady Midnight is due to be released on 8th March this year, so this will be a book for a couple of months time.

A Book You Can Finish in a Day

This was another fairly easy choice for me.  Last year I was given a couple of Quickreads books from my local library.  As I have read the other story, I figured this one would be perfect for this category.

A Book You've Been Meaning to Read

I had a little trouble deciding on this category, as there have been so many that I've been meaning to read.  In the end, I decided on this one.  This book was given to me by a friend, who had a couple of copies left over from World Book Night.  It's been sitting on my bookshelf since!  So, this category gives me the perfect chance to read this book.

A Book Recommended by Your Local Librarian or Bookseller

As I work in a school library, my boss (and local librarian ;-)) has chosen this book for me to read.  I'm going to be honest, I haven't got a clue what this book is about and Goodreads hasn't really enlightened me that much!  I can see that it's a classic and as I love a bit of historical fiction, I'm hoping that I will love this one.

A Book Chosen For You by Your Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child or BFF

When I asked hubby what he thought I should read, this is what he's come up with.  As I really enjoyed reading Ready, Player One for my book club last year, hubby thinks that I will enjoy this one too.

A Book Published Before You Were Born

This is another book taken off my bookshelf.  When I started my current job, I fell in love with the cover of this book.  Isn't it so pretty!  Now, I may be in my mid thirties, but I think I can safely say that this book was published before I was born! Haha.

A Book That Was Banned at Some Point

I loved researching banned books for this category.  we are setting a slightly amended copy of the 2016 Reading Challenge for our pupils at school and I've had so much fun compiling a list of banned books and the reasons for them being banned.  Who knew there were SO many massive titles that have been banned!  It did make it hard to narrow it down to just one for this category.  As I liked the synopsis of this book, I decided to chose it for this category.

A Book You Previously Abandoned

This is a book that I started reading in October 2014!!  I initially chose it as it looks similar to Joan Jonkers books, which I love.  Unfortunately, for some reason, I just couldn't get into the story.  I'm hoping that this time round it will captivate me and I manage to finish it.

A Book That Intimidates You

When thinking about a book that intimidates me, pretty much any classic would fit into this category .  It took me about a year to read Pride & Prejudice, so I was debating on trying another Jane Austen.  I then decided to go for a different classic - the wonderful Charles Dickens.  We all know the stories, but I've never actually read the books.  I do find the language of the older books difficult to read, so for that reason, I do find them intimidating.

A Book You Should Have Read in School
A Book You Own But Have Never Read
A Book You've Already Read At Least Once

I've not yet chosen which books I'm going to read for these categories.

It's been a while since I was at school, so trying to think of what I should have read at school that I didn't is tough.  I am toying with the idea of George Orwell's 1984.  I studied Animal Farm for my GCSE's, but the whole 'Big Brother' story intrigues me.  One of my guilty pleasure is the TV show Big Brother, so it would be nice to find out where the idea came from.  I will get back to you on that though.  I do seem to have quite a few classics already!

For the book you own, but have never read, my bookcase is full of books I haven't read yet!  Three and a half of them are listed above.  Not to mention my Kindle list.  Trying to narrow it down to just one more will be difficult!

Lastly, a book I've already read at least once.  Again, there's loads!  Just on my Goodreads I've logged 104 books and I only starting logging my books in the last 2-3 years!  I have agreed with my 7 year old son that we would start reading Harry Potter series together, so that may go down for this category, but, as that might take us a while (he doesn't have the ability to read for hours like me!), I think it will have to be a different book off the bookshelf.

Well, that's all we have so far.  How are you getting on with your lists?  Don't forget to check out Modern Mrs Darcy's post to see hers!

Jackie. x

Saturday, 2 January 2016

New Year.......New Reading Challenge

Well hello there!  It's been a while, hasn't it!  As you can see from my Goodreads profile, although I have been absent from here, I have still done plenty of reading.

Today I stumbled across a post on Facebook of Modern Mrs Darcy's 2016 Reading Challenge and have decided that I am going to join in on this challenge.  As such, I thought this would be a good time to refresh my blog and start posting reviews again.

via Modern Mrs Darcy 

I will update with which books I have chosen for each of the challenges.

Since I last posted, I have since starting working as a Library Assistant in a local Secondary School, so part of my aims for this year is to read more books suitable for the age range of 11-18 year olds.  That's not to say I will be abandoning the more adult 'chick lit' books, just adding in some books aimed at a younger audience.

For the sixth year, I will be taking part in Goodreads Reading Challenge.  My aim this years is to read at least 24 books.  I figured that equates to 2 a month, which sounds like a doable aim.  Last year my aim was to read 15 books, with the thoughts being that I would try more tricky books.  I smashed the reading target by reading 20 books during 2015, however, not so many were as tricky as I thought they might have been, so kinda failed in reading more challenging books.  Hopefully the above challenge will help with that for this year.

Lastly, I thought I would share with you my Year in Books for 2015, courtesy of Goodreads: