The Memo Pad: Book Reviews Dec 2016

It’s new years eve which means, among other things, my last monthly reviews post. It’s been an up and down month. Some books I was expecting to love and that started brilliantly let me down, I DNF’d a couple that I had been really looking forward to but other books far out did my expectations. Some of them might even make it onto my best books of the year post in a couple of weeks time.

READ: 4          DNF: 2mpdec2016

Nod by Adrian Barnes *****

Dawn breaks and no one in the world has slept the night before. Or almost no one. A few people, perhaps one in ten thousand, can still sleep, and they’ve all shared the same mysterious dream. A handful of silent children can still sleep as well, but what they’re dreaming remains a mystery. Global panic ensues. A medical fact: after six days of absolute sleep deprivation, psychosis sets in. After four weeks, the body dies. In the interim, a bizarre new world arises and swallows the old one whole. A world called Nod.

I feel like this was a bit like one of those interesting books you get at Christmas time (about random facts like the etymology of words and phrases) had a love child with a zombie book. The main character is an author of books like that and so he goes off on extremely interesting tangents about etymology and history and the way he describes things is great but there isn’t that much plot to the actual story. I enjoyed reading it, but then I’m the kind of person that really enjoys those Christmas stocking filler books. If you have zero interest in such things then you probably won’t like this. I’d have liked a bit more plot and a bit less of the crude scenes too as I really didn’t think they were necessary. It’s a very different book from most you’ll pick up purely from the main character being a wordy person and for that alone I’m glad I read it. It’s good to have a protagonist that sounds completely unique for once.

 

Rewinder by Brett Battles *****

Denny was born into one of the lowest rungs of society, but his bleak fortunes abruptly change when the mysterious Upjohn Institute recruits him to be a Rewinder, a verifier of personal histories. The job at first sounds like it involves researching old books and records, but Denny soon learns it’s far from it. A Rewinder’s job is to observe history. In person. Embracing his new duties with enthusiasm, Denny witnesses things he could never even imagine before. But as exciting as the adventures into the past are, there are dangers, too. For even the smallest error can have consequences. Life-altering consequences. Time, after all, is merely a reference point.

I absolutely loved the premise of this book. Time travel historians. Need I say more? The first part of the book lived up to my expectations. The world created was brilliant and interesting, the main character Denny was really easy to connect with. But due to something that happens in the story (minor spoilers here) things change and we end up in a much more mundane, ordinary setting. This section dragged, I already know about our world. I wanted to read something set in a different fantastical place. The story did eventually pick up in the last quarter making it a decent read overall but it had so much more promise at the start.

If you enjoy reading books set in an everyday modern world then you’ll probably love this book but if you were here for the really cool idea set in an interesting new world then you might be a bit peeved about where the story went. Unfortunately I’m in the ‘ bit peeved’ camp.

 

The Poison Eater  by Shanna Germain *****

Poison never lies.
Talia was once one of the twelve martyrs of the forgotten compass, a prisoner of the unhuman creatures known only as the vordcha. She barely escaped that life with her body and soul intact. Now she has a new life as a poison eater in the city of Enthait. Here she is hailed as one of the city s protectors. No one knows her history. No one has asked about her past. She s been here long enough that  Enthait is her home now, these are her people. She loves them and they her. But in the Ninth World, the past is a living, breathing thing. And when it hunts you down, you can run. You can fight. Or you can die.

I’m not really sure where to start on this one. I really enjoyed it. It is absolutely completely other worldly. There was so much different that I’m honestly amazed at how well it was written because not once was I confused about anything. I’ve read books half as complicated and been completely lost. The world and the characters and the merging of magic and science (or mech) is all brilliant. I’m not sure how much of the world I should be crediting to the author as I found out while I was reading that it’s based on a table top rpg. I’d never heard of it before so you absolutely don’t need to know anything about it to love this book. There are a host of great characters, and they all feel fully realised even though it’s a short book. All the relationships come across really well. The one thing I would say is there isn’t much plot? I don’t think the ‘action’ started until I was about 90% in. But this is an excellent example of a character lead book, I was fully invested in them and discovering the world around them and the lack of action didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying the read. Considering it is so short though and seeing as it’s set up for a sequel I think maybe it could have been made into a longer book with the next part of the story to add to the plot.

 

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet *****

In the icy North, where magic is might, an all-powerful elite ruthlessly guided by a glacial Queen have grown to dominate the world. Now rebellion is stirring in the rough, magic-poor South, where for the first time in memory a warlord has succeeded in uniting the tribal nations. Stuck in the middle is Cat – circus performer and soothsayer – safely hidden behind heavy make-up, bright colours and the harmless illusion of the circus. Until someone suspects she’s more than she seems . . .Captured by the Southern warlord Griffin, Cat’s careful camouflage is wearing thin. For how long can – or should – she conceal the true extent of her power? Faced with dragons, homicidal mages, rival Gods and the traitorous longings of her own heart, she must decide: is it time to claim her destiny and fight?

I really enjoyed this book. I mean REALLY enjoyed it. I was not expecting to love it as much as I did. It would have been five stars if not for the 10% of the book I skipped over because it was either annoyingly repetitive about whether or not two of the main characters should get together and how they feel about each other or excessively explicit about exactly how they were getting together (and 10% is being extremely generous). I don’t mind a bit of pinning in my books (I don’t like it but some I can handle) but there was just too much of it. After about half way every time they spoke, or saw each other or thought of each other it happened. Okay I get it. They have FEELINGS. But I wish it had stuck to the story more. The thing I don’t like about reading romance is that everything seems to pale in comparison to those feelings. And there were so many other things about the book that were more worthy of the time. The characters are brilliant, the “banter” was hilarious and I found myself laughing out loud at many of the snarky comments and conversations. The friendships in this book are lovely. And I haven’t even mentioned the Greek gods yet. Because I’m a fan of Greek gods. And the way they’ve been included in the story, so far, has been done really well. They’re not so much there as more just influencing events. It’s a little odd that the story uses Greek gods and yet it’s set in a completely made up fantasy world but it fits so I don’t have a problem with that. Have I mentioned magic or dragons yet? There’s too many good things about this book to list.

Also this cover is absolutely gorgeous. I’ve seen another cover (the one on goodreads) and seriously, if that had been the one I’d seen first then I wouldn’t have even bothered to click on it to find out what it was about so I’m glad they changed it.

 

DNF

Sister Sable by T. Mountebank

I’ve read books twice as complicated as this set up and not been confused but I had absolutely no idea what was going on and not in a good way. Yes there needs to be some mystery and tension in a book but I had no idea who these characters were, why I should or shouldn’t like them or any idea of a plot. I gave up at about 10%.

 

Dinosaurs and Prime Numbers by Tom Moran

So I was really looking forward to this book. It sounded like just the right amount of bizarre to good story, a la Douglas Adams. Well it wasn’t. To be fair I only managed to get to 25% before I have up so maybe it got better but I just felt so uncomfortable reading this book that I had to put it down. The character is, I guess, suppose to be autistic though it’s never stated. And most of the ‘humour’ is us supposedly laughing at how this guy doesn’t understand things or how he acts in certain situations. I don’t find that funny? That’s just mean. Maybe I’m being over sensitive but i just felt so uncomfortable reading this.


So that’s it. Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Happy New Year Everybody. Here’s to another year of amazing books!

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Christmas books TBR

Ten books that I’m mega excited about reading and hope to get my hands on thanks to Christmas.

So towards the end of this year I had a backlog of books on my kindle and I decided that I wanted to try to whittle that down a little (along with reading some arcs from netgalley) and save these mega awesome books until Christmas. Because honestly, what’s better than getting the books you’ve been having palpitations just thinking about reading for Christmas?

So without further ado, the ten books that I most want to read and I hope by some Christmas miracle*  I will get thanks to Christmas.

*So asking and making wishlists and buying them myself with present money totally counts as a miracle

The links are all to the Goodreads profiles for the books, I haven’t added any links for books that are sequels.25890355

 Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

This is a sequel to Ink and Bone which I read earlier in the year and it was amazing. The Great Library of Alexandria didn’t burn down and now it basically rules the world. There should be more books about books. I’ve heard mixed reviews for this sequel so I’m hoping it’s as good as the first book was.

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Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty*

A space adventure set on a lone ship where the murdered crew are resurrected through cloning to discover who their killer was — and the secret to their mission – Goodreads descripton

It sounds really thrilling. I definitely need to read more scifi this year, it’s been sadly lacking in my life recently.

* this one is not actually out yet but I will have my hands on it soon. 

The Scorpio Races The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

I read the first book in The Raven Boys trilogy this year and it was brilliant. I also didn’t realise that The Scorpio Races was written by the same author, I’d seen it recommended a lot so I’m excited to read that too.

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Timekeeper by Tara Sim

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

I stumbled upon this one a few months ago on goodreads and I think this might actually be the I most want to read. The premise sounds brilliant as do the characters and the setting. It just sounds so…perfect for me.

A Gathering of Shadows & This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

A Gathering of shadows is a sequel to what I honestly think might be my FAVOURITE book EVER (A Darker Shade of Magic), I’d been putting off reading the sequel because I couldn’t imagine it living up to the first book but I think the next book is out soon (already?) so  I really need to read it. And I’ve also heard so many good things about This Savage Song that I have to read that too.

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

This book is also a sequel (to Six of Crows) and it has caused me so much trouble over the last couple of months just trying to avoid people talking about it because seriously everyone is talking about it! It’s not even that I’m worried about spoilers so much (bookbloggers tend to be pretty good about not spoiling stuff without warnings) I’m just mega excited about reading it and knowing I couldn’t read it yet was making me sad!

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman

So it’s scifi, it’s told in an interesting way. and everyone has been talking about this. I was always going to end up reading this book. I mean its on my most wanted list so obviously I’m really excited to read it.

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Field One by Simon Winstanley

The data couldn’t lie: Mankind extinct in 64 years. Archive’s conclusion was simple: Make time to escape. Their solution was complex: 7 billion people must never know. Their solution is failing. The future lies with a child genius fascinated by time, an officially retired space program, an Arctic Circle anomaly, and Field One.- Goodreads description.

I actually stumbled over this one on amazon as it was on offer and it sound’s really interesting. As does the sequel so I better get a shift on and read this.


 

So how about you? Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Which one should I start first? I’m joking, I’m totally picking that myself, sorry folks. Did you get any books for Christmas or better question: which books are you most excited about having gotten for christmas?

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Merry Christmas Everybody!

This is my last post before Christmas and I just wanted to say to all of my followers:

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Whether you celebrate it or not, I hope you all have a lovely day. We have a very quiet Christmas planned. Just my parents and me. Lots of yummy food to be eaten and a good film to watch together in the evening. So whether you’re really busy or just curled up watching Christmas telly, here’s to having a nice day.wp_20161204_15_46_09_pro-2

I tend to stretch Christmas out over the course of December. There’s only so many spoons I can use at once. So presents get wrapped and cards get made early. The (massive) tree and decorations go up at the start of the month. The pretty lights and Christmas tree smell make me smile everyday. As do opening any Christmas cards I get. Getting a card in the post makes my day and then they go up on my pin board, surrounded by tinsel and lights and they make me smile when I see them everyday after that too.

My brother flew out to see us on the 16th for the weekend so we ended up opening some presents early and having Christmas dinner only with a chicken instead of a turkey. We also went out for dinner on one night as well which was also really nice. I had an amazing chocolate brownie (I’m normally really fussy about brownies as my brother pointed out at the time but this one was heaven).

How are you spending Christmas day? Any presents your looking forward to or films/tv shows you’re excited to watch? And of course, what food are you looking forward to scoffing? Christmas dinner not withstanding, my terrys chocolate orange, jam tarts and chocolate biscuits will all make sure I’m almost constantly full!

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Cross Stitch Pin Cushion

I have done more stitching than last month but not as much as I wanted. Life got in the way and by that I mean making dozens of Christmas cards takes up a lot of time and energy!

I started on the lovely Christmas ornament kit that Claire sent me as part of her giveaway. I’ve never worked on plastic canvas or out of a hoop before so it was interesting.wp_20161212_15_00_56_pro I think my needles slightly fat as I have to tug it a bit to get it through but needle sizes confuse me so while I probably have a better needle I haven’t been bothered to look.

I had to pick my own colours out of my stash so some of them are a bit different, I’ve also merged a few. (there were two cream colours and a light green that I’ve merged into one) so hopefully it’ll come out looking alright. But as I got busier I realised that there was no way I was going to get this done for Christmas so I’ve put it to the side for now and switched back to my Slytherin pin cushion and focused on stitching that.

I did have to get some more Slytherin Green (DMC 890) but luckily it coincided with my visit to the craft shop so it was easy to pick up.

Here’s where I was last time compared to now:

I realised after a bit that I had miscounted the stripes down the side (or rather forgot to recalculate them after I changed the size). Nothing major and no ripping out needed but now the middle bit on the two sides will be five stitches across rather than the three I meant to do. I don’t think that will look too bad though.

I might even get onto starting the black stitches for the next update!

The Sal group posts every third Sunday and we all work on whichever project we want so you should check out what stitchy things they are getting up to:

Avis / Claire / Gun / Carole / Kate / Lucyanne / Sue / Constanze / Debbie / Christina / Kathy / Susan / Margaret / Cindy / Helen /  and hello to our new member – Steph

There won’t be another Sal post until after Christmas so I just wanted to say Merry Christmas to all my stitchy friends.

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November Wrap-up

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Lots has happened in November, mainly writing, but between the writing lots of other things have happened to.

I’m going to start with the writing because it took up the main part of my month.

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winnerI did Nano. And I went past all my expectations (which you can see here but what it boiled down to was 20k) and I actually won. That’s right folks, I managed to write 50,000 words in one month. I would have actually written a lot more if I hadn’t been struck down by migraine like headaches everyday from about week 3. Apparently staring at a screen writing everyday isn’t good for my eyes. And even looking at anything light became unbearably painful for the last ten days. I wore sunglasses everyday, inside, during winter. And I managed about an hour a day after that. But I also gave up a few days early as I’d reached 50k and finished the chapter I was on. Just think of the thousands of words I missed out on. I’d have liked to write one more chapter as that would have been a really great place to leave off but alas, pain interfered. I’m still mega proud of my first Nano and hopefully this will help me up my writing to two chapters a month every month instead of the one a month I managed this year.

Moving on but entirely related to nano is all the crafting I got done this month. I was actually being really good about screen time and stuff not that it stopped my eyes from having a hissy fit but I took breaks, long breaks and in those breaks….crafts got done. Now this next bit will be equal parts annoying and hopefully good. Because a lot of things I’m mentioning I can’t show you, or even really talk about because Christmas is coming and gifts have been made.

Starting with something I can show you:

I’m nearly finished my mums lap blanket. It will be a Christmas present but she’s seen me making it so I can share. I think there’s probably a dozen rows left. I didn’t run out of yarn! I may keep going until I use it up though because there really isn’t much of it left.

Crochet thing number two I can’t show you. But I’m really excited about because I’ve been wanting to make this pattern for ages and I finally got around to it. It’s in the Tunisian crochet geoblin stitch (which is my favourite crochet stitch ever. I’ve already made a cowl and two thirds of a scarf using it and trust me when I say I’ll be using it more) and I got to use some lovely bright yarn. I did have to use a slightly thicker yarn and a slightly larger hook than the pattern called for though so I’m hoping it works up to the right size for what I want.

wp_20161128_14_45_49_proI’ve also finished my Christmas cards. The ones I can show you are up in my shop but there are some super special awesome ones (if I do say so myself) that I’ve made up for people I’m sending cards to that I wish I could share with you but that’ll have to wait. I’ve also started wrapping presents, just a few and mainly the ones going abroad, but that means I’ve also been able to use some of my Christmas tags which go really well with my wrapping paper.

(Incidently, there’s still a couple of days to enter my giveaway by leaving me a question for my Q&A here. You can win any of my christmas cards and tags or anything else you would want from my etsy shop. My Q&A post will be going up on friday so answers to all the questions you asked will be there.)

Lastly (and if your still with me you’re doing great!), sewing. I’m making pretty good use of my sewing machine. I only started using it in October and I showed you all the bag I made for a friends birthday. Well I’ve been making more things, two of which are finished but I can’t show you because they’re presents. But I attempted to make some Christmas baubles out of some fabric I bought. Unfortunately, I don’t really like them so won’t be making any more.

I’ve also started making some Christmas table mats that I’m going to quilt as my first foray into quilting. I’ve cut everything up and my sandwich is ready. Only the actual quilting to go. I don’t have a walking foot or a free motion foot yet (I’ll be getting them for Christmas) so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do it just using my normal set up. I’ve bought some quilting pins to hold them all together. I’d much prefer to use spray basting but I cant find anywhere that will send it to Guernsey as apparently that’s illegal or something. I’ll send my parents out to the craft store at some point to check if they have any but I doubt it as they didn’t even have a quilting ruler.

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