The Surgeon and The Apprentice

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Statistics:

Format – prose
Edition – paperback
Date of Publication – 2001 and 2002
No of Pages – 416 and 376
Genre – Crime/Mystery/Thriller
Age – Adult
Series – Rizzoli and Isles
Book No – 1 and 2
Author – Tess Gerritsen


In the historic city of Boston, a ritualistic and precise killer is on the loose, targeting lone women and performing acts of torture that can only be described by the professionals as chilling and unthinkable. As the police and medical examiner’s office uncover the first body and begin to investigate, the skill of the murders leads them to believe that their killer is a physician, one who revels in taking rather than saving lives.

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Review – A Conjuring of Light

 

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Statistics:

Format – Prose
Edition – paperback
Date of Publication – 21st February 2017
No of Pages – 666
Genre – Fantasy
Age – Adult
Series – Shades of Magic
Book No – 3
Author – VE Schwab


Synopsis

Across White, Red, Grey and Black London, the scales that helped to keep the power balanced are finally toppling out of control. What was once a vivacious world – ruled by the Maresh monarchy – is now turning black, the darkness intent on spreading into every nook and cranny whilst also creating space for another London to emerge.

People are living in fear, scared that their lives and everything they love will be taken over by the darkness, so it is up to Kell and the surprising addition of two other Antari to change this unwelcome fate.

What this discovery brings is the insurmountable pressure to survive. Combine that with the condition of the empire and everybody fighting for loyalty, only time will tell if more than London will fall.


Thoughts:

VE Schwab has done it again, creating a world full of magic, politics, intrigue, and complex characters that do nothing but suck you in and force you to keep reading until you’ve closed the back page.

Of course, me being me, I did the complete opposite and took time savouring everything. That might have irritated me at first, but I am now glad of it because it means I am not going to forget anything about it anytime soon. A Conjuring of Light is one of the best fantasy books I’ve read all year, and it is one of the best sequels I have ever read.

What I like about this book and the series as a whole is that magic is not an infinite entity, its usage in one world leaves another drained, and that is something not always explored in a fantasy. Usually, the magic is just there, there’s no explanation for it or where its limits lie, so to have a magic system where there are significant consequences for every bit used is interesting and rare. It is also a great message in general, reminding us all that the resources we use and take for granted are finite. But it is not just us that learn this lesson, as Lila, Kell, Rhy, Alucard, Holland and even Osaron experience this for themselves.

The growing knowledge of magic and its limits is a superb character development, particularly for Lila as she must quickly adjust to her new identity as an Antari and pick up all the rules whilst trying to stay alive and help save the empire. For Kell and Rhy, it continues to test their bond, affecting their differing relationships with Alucard, Maxim and Emira.

I love them all equally but it is Holland and his development that touched my heart. I have a soft spot for complex, misunderstood and morally grey villains at the moment and he is no exception. All he wants is to return to his London, live his own life, not be shackled to anybody else, and be free. He was given the perfect ending and whilst it broke my heart, there was no other way VE Schwab could have written it.

On the topic of misunderstood villains, Osaron also falls into that category. Yes, he is evil, possessing Holland, turning Red London completely black so he can have his own twisted Voldemort-like strength and power, but is it not something he can control. He is a soulless form of magic that needs somewhere to expand and live. I don’t condone his actions, but when faced with the selfish desire to nurture one’s ability and nature, you want to do that in the best way you know how.

Two characters I have mentioned briefly but need some extra love are Maxim and Emira. A Conjuring of Light is where they really come into their own and express their love for Kell and Rhy. Their relationship is something I wish I could experience more of and I personally loved their unique point of views within the narrative. Maxim took on the responsibility for the empire and his family with a heavy heart and that protectiveness brought out a characteristic that I felt lacking from the earlier books. Emira also came into her own and I loved being able to see her trying to cement that mother-son relationship between her and Kell. Now I’m writing this, I can’t stop welling up at specific scenes because I wanted to see her grow even more.

Just damn it, VE Schwab. Stop toying with my emotions because it is getting tiresome. Although it is amazing that whatever you write touches me in ways other books completely miss.

Anyway.

Everything about this book blew me away and I love it with every fibre of my being. I mean there are a few little niggles that I have in relation to certain details that crop up in the plot but they’re nothing when looking at A Conjuring of Light and the other two Shades of Magic books. It is a satisfying and fabulous ending and I love it. It is certainly going to be one of the best books for this next half of the year.


And that is that.

Have you read the Shades of Magic trilogy?
What are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading and have a good day!
xx

 

Because You Love To Hate Me

Image result for because you love to hate me 13 tales of villainy
Stats:

Format – Prose
Edition – Hardback
Date of Publication – 11/07/17
No of Pages – 339
Genre – Mix of contemporary, fantasy, dystopia
Age – YA
Edited by Ameriie
Average Goodreads Rating – 3.61 out of 5


 

We all read the stories of good vs evil, of heroes and villains who often fight to the death, and more often than not, we like to root for the underdog. When the villains take centre stage, we expect the heroes to come back out on top, reclaim their rightful place, but who is to say that the villains should be slain?

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The Hate U Give

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Statistics:

Format – Prose
Edition – Paperback (UK)
Date of publication – April 6th 2017
No of pages – 438
Genre – Contemporary
Age – YA
Author – Angie Thomas


Goodreads Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

 

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Format – Prose
Edition – Paperback
Date of Initial Publication – 1886
No of Pages – 111
Genre – Classics/Horror/Science Fiction/Mystery
Author – Robert Louis Stevenson


Goodreads Synopsis:

‘All human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil: and Edward Hyde, alone in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil’

Published as a shilling shocker, Robert Louis Stevenson’s dark psychological fantasy gave birth to the idea of the split personality. The story of respectable Dr Jekyll’s strange association with damnable young man Edward Hyde; the hunt through fog-bound London for a killer; and the final revelation of Hyde’s true identity is a chilling exploration of humanity’s basest capacity for evil.


In Victorian London along with the craziness of Jack the Ripper, Dickensian workhouses, the Industrial Revolution, disease, overpopulation, and crowded conditions, scientific advancement is taking an absurd turn. No one knows exactly what is going on but it is sinister enough for passers-by and friends of Dr Jekyll to start asking questions

For a really short classic, it was filled with everything I love – amazing writing, an atmospheric setting, a simple yet intricate plot, mystery, intrigue, and overarching messages that make me question the fragility of humanity. Although I was marginally aware of the story’s climax due to its fame and presence in popular culture, that didn’t stop me from being engrossed by its development and loving it as much as I did.

It is one of my new favourite classics and it has sparked my need to finally read some of RL Stevenson’s other works.


Favourite Quotes:

“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed of frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.”

“It is one thing to mortify curiosity, another to conquer it.”

“There comes an end to all things; the most capacious measure is filled at last; and this brief condescension to evil finally destroyed the balance of my soul.”

“All human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil: and Edward Hyde, alone, in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil.”

“I feel very strongly about putting questions; it partakes too much of the style of the day of judgement. You start a question, and it’s like starting a stone. You sit quietly on the top of a hill; and away the stone goes, starting others; and presently some bland old bird (the last you would have thought of) is knocked on the head in his own back garden, and the family have to change their name. No, sir, I make it a rule of mine: the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask”


And that is that.

Have you read this classic?
What do you think?


Thanks for reading and have a good day!
xx

The Bone Sparrow

 

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Statistics:

Format – Prose
Edition – Paperback
No of Pages – 240
Date of Publication – 12th January 2017
Author – Zana Fraillon
Genre – YA Contemporary


Opening the worlds’ eyes to the reality of the refugee crisis, The Bone Sparrow shares the story of those people lost and forgotten to the world. Mostly narrated by Subhi, a refugee born in an Australian detention centre, life behind the wire fences is all he has ever known. But his world is far bigger than anyone could dream. Stories of the Night Sea bring him hope that the world Outside is full of life. That one day he can travel beyond the cage and be free. Full of hope and life, he meets Jimmie, a girl from the Outside who lives with the memories of her lost mother. When she comes to the fences, she brings with her a notebook, a notebook full of stories that she can’t read. As they Subhi and Jimmie read and discover these stories together, they unravel the world and remember that if they all sing together, their song can light up the dark.

Stories, fantasy, and imagination are a big part of what makes this story so heartbreaking. Innocent people just finding that sliver of light and gripping onto it with all their strength because it is the only thing they have in the world that they can continually regenerate between themselves. Behind the fences is a life of horror and pain. Workers (Jackets) that don’t care for the innocent people around them, poor hygiene, a lack of water, food that is old and past its best, rats, disease, and everything that you’d more commonly find if you were living in a German Second World War extermination camp. The refugees and detainees only receive better food and more than their basic human rights when Outside workers come in to evaluate the state of affairs. No one knows the truth more than the people living it and with no one to listen, they are invisible.

“Sometimes, in here when people stop talking, and stop asking, and stop remembering, that’s when they start to lose that piece of themselves.”

Written in dual perspectives (Subhi and Jimmie) we get to understand what the power of stories and memories mean for them both. Subhi might take more of the spotlight but it is his stories that carry more weight, it is his retelling of the stories in Jimmie’s book that help us to see that happy memories are stored everywhere and come to life when we need them most.

“Sometimes Maá will see that looking back is just as important as looking forward, no matter how much sad it carries.”

I don’t have words to explain how much this book touched me and made me aware of the true reality of life behind the fences. Though it is not a true account, the mistreatment happening behind those closed doors is real. The conditions that the author describes were taken from reports of life in Australian detention centres and it still makes me shake with disgust and horror that innocent people are treated and persecuted in this way because they’re fleeing from a war zone.

As well as the stories, it is the friendship between Subhi and Jimmie that make this book powerful. They’re both not living the best life (Subhi in the centre, and Jimmie living with no mother, and a father who works away from home) and through their friendship they find comfort. They’ll do anything for each other and Subhi shows that when he decides to escape from the centre and save Jimmie from an infection that is slowly killing her.

That power behind the stories is saving and given them a better chance at life.

It’s obviously not realistic for everyone but it works.

Combine that with humanity, truth, and real life, and you’ve got a book that explores a relevant, eye-opening topic.

To those who refuse to be blinded by the glare, or deafened by the hush, who are brave enough to question, and curious enough to explore. To those who will not forget. You will make a difference. And to the rest of us, so that we may learn how. 


My rating 

5 out of 5 stars


Thanks for reading and have a good day!
xx

Review – Hunted

Image result for hunted meagan spooner
Stats:

Format – prose
Edition – e.book
Date of publication – March 14th 2017
Number of Pages – 384
Genre – YA Fairytale Retellings


Synopsis:

Yeva knows the forests around her city like the back of her hand. To go out and hunt alongside her father is everything she wants to do in life but she is forced to live and grow up alongside the city’s highest aristocrats, learning to be a lady of considerable means. However when her father loses his wealth and is forced to move his family to his old hunting cabin, Yeva is secretly relieved – she is surrounded by an environment she loves and one that draws her to enter its world to hunt and help provide for her father and older sisters (Lena and Asenka).

One day, her father goes missing in the woods and she sets her mind on one path: hunting the elusive Beast he had been tracking just beforehand.

Despite the protests of her sisters, Yeva hunts this Beast back into his own territory and she discovers the world of creatures and curses that she’d only ever before heard about in fairy tales. She begins to wonder if the tales of her childhood were true and if she can bring salvation to the Beast and his decrepit landscape.

Rich with the integrity and natural charm of Beauty and the Beast, Hunted brings a refreshing and beautiful adaptation to the forefront of YA retellings. Combining essences of Russian folklore with the feel of the original and Disney stories, this will be a retelling I will revisit again and again.


Opinions:

I’ve currently read three/four Beauty and the Beast retellings (this one, As Old As Time, Beauty, and A Court of Wings and Ruin) and this one is my favourite because the gentle, fluid writing helps it to read like a fairy tale. It is slow but the beauty of the writing and the storytelling made it become that tale as old as time that we all love and cherish.

Yeva is how I imagined her to be: stubborn, determined, strong-willed, and resourceful. She takes her nickname of Beauty and personifies it, not in her physical appearance but with her intelligence and manner of being. She might run into a few mistakes along the way but she overcomes them with that tenacity that I’ve always loved. And, similarly to Disney’s Belle, also shares the power of storytelling once she realises its power and influence on the Beast.

If Yeva reached my expectations, the characterisation of the Beast exceeded them. Though his passages were relatively short compared to the main chapters, his tortured soul shone through the powerful writing and I was instantly drawn to his inner turmoil. Is he a beast, wolf, or a human? He doesn’t know, but thanks to Yeva he begins to challenge what he believes about himself.

We no longer know which she is, which we want her to be, which we need her to be. We know only that we need her. We must bring her back.
A wolf and a man. A woman and a dragon. Hunter and hunted. Nothing in this world has only one nature.

What struck me is that this fairy tale retelling had no villain. There was no Gaston, no town mob wanting to hunt down and kill the Beast. Yeva might have had an admirer in Solmir but he was accepting, loyal to Yeva’s family and a decent man that she would have married had it not been for the Beast. With Yeva and Beast’s growing acceptance and relationship as the focus of the story, the distinct lack of a villain was no hindrance. Any struggle was between them, and Yeva’s relationship between Lena and Asenka.

Any misfortunes were always the fault of the hero or heroine, misunderstanding what was really being said.

The only gripe I have is that the Beast’s transformation was too quick. He was a Beast and then suddenly human. No in between, no thoughts from Yeva, nothing. I would have at least expected some essence of shock and surprise from Yeva as the Beast was transforming into his human form, but oh well.

Regardless, I still loved it and it got me out of a rough reading patch so I am hugely grateful for it.

My rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Have you read it?
What are your thoughts?


Thanks for reading and have a good day!
xx