The Memo Pad: Book Reviews

mp - august 2016

I’ve done quite a few bookish posts on my blog this month and that’s mainly because I’ve been reading a lot and haven’t done much of anything else. Family have been visiting and I’ve been saving all my energy for them and reading at all other times. Which means quite a few books to share with you. They’re all spoiler free and I would love to hear what you though if you’ve read any of them too.

Read: 5

The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey *****

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

I’d heard a lot about this book and I knew the basic premise as I’d actually watched the trailer for the film already. Horror/zombie books are not in my normal comfort zone but I prefer to read it than watch it and this sounded interesting so I branched out a little and gave it a try.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s exciting, the characters are all 3d and have their own motivations and we get to see how they all react under pressure (some of them do better than others).

The Copper Promise (The Copper Cat #1) by Jen Williams *****

There are some tall stories about the caverns beneath the Citadel – about magic and mages and monsters and gods. For Lord Frith, the caverns hold the key to his vengeance. Against all the odds, he has survived torture and lived to see his home and his family taken from him … and now someone is going to pay. For Wydrin of Crosshaven and her faithful companion, Sir Sebastian Caverson, a quest to the Citadel looks like just another job. There’s the promise of gold and adventure. Who knows, they might even have a decent tale or two once they’re done.
But sometimes there is truth in rumour. Soon this reckless trio will be the last line of defence against a hungry, restless terror that wants to tear the world apart. And they’re not even getting paid.

I have very mixed feelings about this book. I was sorely tempted to take another star away purely because my favourite character died but then that would be petty and I’m better than that…..right? Maybe I’m just use to my favourites always dying.

This book is actually written in four parts. Kind of four novellas rather than a single book and that’s how I read it (buying the four parts separately was actually cheaper on kindle so that’s what I did). There’s basically a mini adventure in each. I didn’t like the first part that much, which may have been because it wasn’t what I was expecting. I was expecting a bit more heist and a bit less magic and dragons but then there is a dragon on the front cover so that was totally my fault. The novellas definitely got better as it went along and parts three and four were great. And for that reason it just scrapes into the four star arena.

The only thing I was disappointed about was Sebastians character. There are some massive things that happen in the plot and we didn’t really get any kind of emotional reaction from him. There was plenty of opportunity to go deeper into his character and it never happened. I wanted more dammit!

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Throne *****

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

I probably didn’t need to add the blurb for this one, did I? I wasn’t even planning to read this but a friend sent it to me (Thanks!). I’m glad I read it because I am a massive potterhead but I didn’t like it much. I’m actually not even that bothered that it reads like a (not a terribly good) fanfiction I was more pissed off at how the characters were presented. I’m aware that the book isn’t the finished script but characters we know and love like Hermione, Ron and Mcgonagal were so far out of character that they were bordering on ridiculous (Ron especially and I never even liked Ron that much). If you’re going to do a sequel the least you can do is keep the characters IN character.

Break The Chains (The Scorched Continent #2) by Megan O’Keefe *****

As the city that produces the most selium – that precious gas that elevates airships and powers strange magic – Hond Steading is a jewel worth stealing. To shore up the city’s defenses, Detan promises that he’ll recover Nouli, the infamous engineer who built the century gates that protect the imperial capital of Valathea. But Nouli is imprisoned on the Remnant Isles, an impervious island prison run by the empire, and it’s Detan’s fault.
Detan doesn’t dare approach Nouli himself, so his companions volunteer to get themselves locked up to make contact with Nouli and convince him to help. Now Detan has to break them all out of prison, and he’s going to need the help of a half-mad doppel to do it.

I read the first book in this series a few months ago and I absolutely loved it (I mean seriously one of the best books I’ve read this year) so when I received the sequel in exchange for a review on netgalley I was mega excited. I was also slightly apprehensive to read it as I really wanted it to be good. Well, I am so glad to say that this book lived up to my pretty high expectations perfectly. I loved it. Detan is back and just as cocky as ever but we get to go deeper into each of the characters this time. We also get to see more of the fantastic world that was built in the first book. It’s got everything I love in a book: amazing characters, airships, adventure, cons, magic. You should definitely check this out (read the first book first!) if you love anything with cocky con-men a la The Gentlemen Bastards or Six of Crows.

Stasis (Ennek Trilogy #1) by Kim Fielding *****

Praesidium is the most prosperous city-state in the world, due not only to its location at the mouth of a great bay, but also to its strict laws, stringently enforced. Ordinary criminals become bond-slaves, but the Wizard places traitors in Stasis, a dreamless frozen state.
Ennek is the Chief’s younger son. He has grown up without much of a purpose, a man who cannot fulfill his true desires and who skates on the edge of the law. But he is also haunted by the plight of one man, a prisoner for whom Stasis appears to be a truly horrible fate. If Ennek is to save that prisoner, he must explore Praesidium’s deepest secrets as well as his own.

I honestly don’t know where to start with my review for this book. I thought about the rating for ages. This wasn’t a bad book. In fact the world building was actually pretty good. But – it’s creepy and not in a good way. I’ve looked at other reviews of the book and no one seems to have the same problem with it but I got major necrophilia vibes off this book. I mean seriously the main character, Ennek, basically gets sexual attracted to a guy who’s in stasis. And okay Stasis isn’t dead but he’s in a coma and he’s not even breathing and did I mention naked? So Ennek decides he wants to save this guy and it only gets more creepy from there. It’s a shame because if the story had gone about this even slightly differently then I think this could have been a really good book. The rest of the plot is interesting and while I think it definitely could have been shortened (it could have been condensed down and gotten on with the plot a bit quicker which would have meant less icky vibes too) it had a lot of potential. I actually have the second book in this series as I got it without realising it was in a series so I I’ll probably read the next book and hope it’s less creepy and starts living up to the potential. Fingers crossed.

Bloglovin / Twitter / Etsy Goodreads / Ravelry 

Try A Chapter Tag

I got tagged to do this by the lovely Emma (You can see her having a go at it here). What we have to do is pick five books that are sitting on our TBR piles and read the first chapter of each to see if they are something that you would want to keep reading. And, as Emma guessed, I do have a ridiculous amount of books on my TBR. So, here goes.

It actually took me so much time to choose which five books to do for this. I decided not to pick anything that I’ve only added in the last couple of months and instead dived in to some of the books that have been stewing there for a while. These are my five:

5

Smilers Fair by Rebecca Levene

This is a book that I’ve heard mentioned a lot. It always comes up on book recs and suggestions for me on literally every book related website (which I’m getting a little annoyed at now) so I think I should finally give it a go. The first chapter was a prologue (set, I’m assuming, quite a few years before the main story) which makes it kind of difficult to tell if the rest of the book will be the same but it definitely made me want to read more.

Geek Games by Margaret Fieland

Straight away I can tell you this is one, at least, that I can knock off my TBR. I didn’t get the feeling it was very well written and maybe a chapter is a little quick to judge but I didn’t much like the characters or their motivations either.

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

This one is something outside my normal genre. I read a lot of scifi and fantasy, and while I’m fine with that (why not stick to things you enjoy reading the most?), every now and then its good to find a book thats compleyely different but still interests me enough to give it a read. I did like this first chapter quite a lot. We get introuduced to Noah, who’s shy, loves to draw and gets bullied quite a bit and also his twin sister Jude, who’s outgoing and popular. I liked them both and I’ll probably keep reading this at some point.

Dune by Frank Herbert

This is one of those books that everyone always says is amazing. It’s a must read if you read scifi which is why it was on my TBR to begin with. The reason I hadn’t read it up till this point is that it’s one of those scifi books that gives the impression there are a lot of made up words. I don’t like books that make me reread every sentence three times to work out what it means. Maybe I’m lazy but the extra work is just too much for me ( A Clockwork Orange was the same for me). Unfortunately, Dune was exactly how I was expecting it to be. Maybe it gets better but I can’t see myself reading this one. I just don’t understand why authors throw so many made up words at people in the first chapter.

Sister Sable by T. Mountebank

This one isn’t really split into chapters so I read the first few pages. It started in a separate POV and it’s kind of difficult to tell exactly what the story is from this but it sounds exciting (someone is on the run) and it seems really well written. Actually, while I was getting the sample chapters for this I realised it was only £1.60 on kindle so I bought it…. I guess I’ll definitely be reading this one then!


Anyone read these books?

I’m not going to tag anyone directly but I would love to know if you do this so that I can take a look at your picks.

Bloglovin / Twitter / Etsy Pinterest / Goodreads / Ravelry 

The Move – One Year On

It’s officially been a whole year since we upped sticks and made the move from our house in East London to our ground floor flat in Guernsey (Okay, so it’s actually been more like one year and four days but I’ve been ill).

I’m not sure I can explain just how much my life has changed but I’m going to try! This wouldn’t be that good a blog post if I didn’t, would it?

THE MOVE

To start with I’m going to mention an ME awareness post that I did about a year and a half ago now. I was living in London and, as the post says, I was stuck upstairs in our house as I wasn’t well enough to do stairs. You can check out the post here – 7 Boring Things I Wish I Could Do.

The reason I am mentioning that post is because if you look down the list, two of the things I mentioned; being able to get to the kitchen and being able to get to the front door, are now possible!

Now, these may seem like small things but for me they are massive. Just having the freedom and independence to get anywhere in our home that I need to is amazing. Yes, I still spend 22 to 23 hours a day lying in bed. But I can get to the front door to check for post (I even have my own front door key!), and I can get to the kitchen to get myself a bottle of water from the fridge.

The first few months we moved here, I was constantly (mostly) accidentally giving my parents frights by just appearing in the front room. They’d gotten so use to them having to come upstairs to see me that they didn’t ever expect me to come and see them (my dad did threaten to make me wear a bell at one point because I move so quietly).

I can also now get outside as our front room opens onto a lovely patio area. Previously, no matter how lovely the day was, I would have been stuck inside staring out the upstairs window at the sunshine but now I can go and lie down outside and even, if we pace it just right, have BBQs (which I’m sure, if you read my blog regularly, you’ve gotten bored of me mentioning every single time!)

I may still be housebound/bedbound but my world has grown so much in the last year. I realise this is a bit of a self-indulgent post. Yay Me and all that. But I just want people to know that everything can change, and it can change so quickly. From the first idea of moving to Guernsey to us actually living here was probably about six months. When I wrote that awareness post the idea of me being able to do any of those things were so far off and unbelievable to me. Hang in there: things change. I definitely recommend one level living if you’re down on energy for whatever reason.

Guernsey itself is lovely and peaceful and, while I really haven’t seen much of it other than the view from the front of our flat, I’m so happy we moved here.

Bloglovin / Twitter / Etsy Pinterest / Goodreads / Ravelry 

Cross Stitch Update (SAL)

Time for another three week post of our Stitchalong. The links of everyone taking part are below and you should check out what awesome projects they are up to.

Avis / Claire / Gun / Carole / Kate  / Wendy / Lucyanne / Sue / Constanze / Debbie / Christina / Kathy / Susan

This is where I was last time I shared with you. It was the start of a new project on lovely blue 16 count fabric.WP_20160713_17_08_43_Pro

This is where I am at now (well actually I might be a little further along as I had to queue this post a week in advance. I have lots of family visiting this month and I’m not certain when I will be online to post):WP_20160804_15_45_54_Pro

The colour of the fabric in the second picture is a lot more life like than the original. The white thread I’ve been using has snapped on me a few times already. Nothing that wasn’t easily salvageable thankfully but I am starting to understand why the pack of thread was so cheap.

I’ve also been spending quite a lot of time with my squared paper and trying to sketch out some lettering for another project I’m hoping to work on next. I found it impossible to do on the computer so I’m trying it by hand. I won’t show you that though as it is currently a very big mess!

Bloglovin / Twitter / Etsy Pinterest / Goodreads / Ravelry 

Top Ten things books have made me want to do or learn

So, Top Ten Tuesdays are a book tag/meme thing that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish every Tuesday.

I’ve been following their blog for ages and I love their weekly Top Tens, they are always really interesting topics. I’ve never taken part before, mainly because I didn’t want to swamp by blog with loads of these posts, but I saw this topic and had to give it a go. It’s such a different idea and I thought it would be cool to know what you guys wish you could do from books. I’d love to know if there are any things you picked up or wanted to pick up based on a  book.

 

  1. The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen – Rolling a coin over your knuckles

I leaned against the wall and withdrew the garlin from my pocket and began rolling it over my knuckles. It was a nervous habit, and I admit that I felt a little nervous.

The knuckle roll came so automatically to me that it barely required my attention.

Okay, this first one I admit, I did actually learn how to do this. Both right and left handed. I’m by no means great at it, but I can do it. Which is more than I can say for anything else in this list.

2. Harry Potter by JK Rowling – Chess

Okay so obviously I would love to be able to do magic and play quidditch and all of the rest of it too but as that is only available to me in my imagination – Chess. I always go back to chess and try to learn then remember how bad I am and give up again. Kudos to Ron.

3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Video games

Ready player one is a brilliant book that uses so many video games as pop culture references in it. And I don’t mean all those modern games. I’m talking about all those classic arcade and platform games (which are the only games I’ve ever been good at) and I came away really wanting to play them all.

4. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – A research Journal

The journal didn’t immediately choose a page to open to; it was so well-worn and well-stuffed that every page claimed seniority. It finally split down the middle, obeying gravity instead of use.

The page it opened to was a mishmash of yellowed clippings from books and newspapers. Red pen underlined a few phrases, added commentary in the margins, and jotted a neatly boxed list….

Do I have to say more? I want a journal like that.

5. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch – Slight of hand/Card Tricks

Really, any book where the main characters are con men of any kind. They always state they are really good at sleight of hand which I guess is a must if you’re a thief.

6. Stories from the Stars – Exactly what it says on the tin

I read this book as a little kid and it was my favourite. I kept it under my pillow and reread all my favourite myths. I’ve always wanted to know more. I’d love to be able to look at the starts and name them all and know the constellations and the myths behind them. What I need is an easy digest course or something but they’re either astrology and to do with horoscopes and star signs or pure astronomy and about different types of stars and planets.

7.Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – Drawing

Karou’s sketchbooks had a cult following around school and were handed around and marveled at on a daily basis. This one—number ninety-two in a lifelong series—was bound with rubber bands, and as soon as Zuzana took them off it burst open, each page so coated in gesso and paint that the binding could scarcely contain them. As it fanned open, Karou’s trademark characters wavered on the pages, gorgeously rendered and deeply strange.

There was Issa, serpent from the waist down and woman from the waist up, with the bare, globe breasts of Kama Sutra carvings, the hood and fangs of a cobra, and the face of an angel.

Giraffe-necked Twiga, hunched over with his jeweler’s glass stuck in one squinting eye.

Yasri, parrot-beaked and human-eyed, a frill of orange curls escaping her kerchief. She was carrying a platter of fruit and a pitcher of wine.

And Brimstone, of course—he was the star of the sketchbooks. Here he was shown with Kishmish perched on the curl of one of his great ram’s horns. In the fantastical stories Karou told in her sketchbooks, Brimstone dealt in wishes. Sometimes she called him the Wishmonger; other times, simply “the grump.”

Okay so I could kind of draw but not to the extent of what I would like and my sketchbooks never looked like that. The idea of it bursting at the seems with pages full of texture and colour almost makes me want to try again….almost.

8. The Cherub series by Robert Muchamore – Lock picking

This is by no means the only book I’ve read where the main characters pick locks (I’m sure there are dozens of them) but it might just have been the first. I have looked up the theory but never quite got around to buying a lock picking set and practice locks (although I have added them to a wish list of mine…)

9 & 10. The Alpha Force series by Chris Ryan – Diving and Climbing

She walked to the base of the cliff and let the coiled nylon rope drop to the ground. Paulo hurried to pick it up and she turned to wink at him then, casually, began to climb. It was like watching a slow dance. Li seemed to flow up the cliff, gripping tiny ledges of rock with her fingers or toes. She moved one hand or foot at a time, then made sure of her holds before moving again. The coil of rope that Paulo held grew smaller and smaller as she made her way higher, a tail of rope swinging behind her.

****

Diving this reef was like being a bird. She could hover, or move up and down effortlessly with a flick of her fins. With the endless deep blue below her, it was like dreams she’d had of being able to fly.

I might be cheating a bit by naming two from the same series. Just know that I could name at least a dozen things that this series made me want to do if I really tried but these are the two that stick out in my mind all these years later.

 

So, how about you? Anything you have done or have been made to want to do because of something a character has done in a book?

Bloglovin / Twitter / Etsy Pinterest / Goodreads / Ravelry 

Presents from the Postie

I got a load of lovely surprises in the post this week that I wanted to share with you. First up, two packs of playing cards. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned on my blog that I collect packs of playing cards? I don’t think I have. It started out as me wanting to collect something from all the amazing places I was going to visit. But then chronic illness happened and I never really got to do that. I still have some lovely packs from places I’ve visited on holidays and short breaks over the years (My favourite might be a bright orange pack I got from Holland), buWP_20160729_14_26_55_Prot nowadays most of the packs come as gifts from places other people have visited (mostly my brother, I love you, bro!). These two packs are from India where my brother visited for work last month and from Spain where his girlfriend visited recently (which was a lovely surprise). It’s always nice to know that even if I don’t get to travel, other people are thinking of me when they do and bring me back a slice of the world.

I also got this awesome postcard from a friend of mine in Germany. She went on a trip to Munich and even though it rained (and she happened to be in the same place as the terrorist attack that happened!) she had a good time. And found a brilliant postcard to send which brightened up my day when I found it unexpectedly sitting in my letterbox.

I’ve also started a new crochet project this week.It’s not too early to start on christmas presents, right? Can you guess what it is yet?WP_20160729_14_27_52_ProOnly kidding, if you could then I wouldn’t have shown the photograph as it may or may not end up being for someone who may or may not read this blog every now and then. I thought I should start it early as I’m not sure how it will turn out. Some of the pictures of what others have made look great and others look … not so great. So I need enough time to find a different present if it goes wrong.

It’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be but that’s my fault for not reading the pattern dimensions. I’m a little worries I will run out of yarn as I was only using a small ball of stuff I wanted to use up. But I will jump that hurdle if I ever get to it.

The final present I got in the mail (is it a present if I bought it for myself?), is a new pen holder for my silhouetteWP_20160729_14_30_05_Pro cutting machine. A pen holder means I can get the cutting machine to draw things as well but the official pen holder (in the white below) is made of plastic and has a crack in the side (you can see it just below the M). It’s a known fault because the plastic is weak. It won’t hold a pen securely anymore, even when I tried to wrap it in tape. So I forked out for this new metal one (it wasn’t actually that expensive but the postage from america was!). The good news is that it works and I can’t see this one breaking.

Bloglovin / Twitter / Etsy Pinterest / Goodreads / Ravelry / Tumblr / Google