Book Reviews :: 2016 :: Part II

tbrpiledec16For those of you celebrating a holiday this week, have a good one!

I aimed to read and review a minimum of 12 books in 2016.

This may sound like a low number, but I found myself skipping books I wanted to read in order to get short, quick reads ticked off when I had a higher goal.

I reviewed the first six books of 2016 here, and this is the list of another seven, bringing the total to 13 books completed this year. As usual, my reviews are minus beta-reads, which I mention as they are book’s I’ve read, but will not be reviewing until published.

The final book I’m reading for 2016 is The Vagrant by Peter Newman. I don’t think I will finish it before the new year though, so I’ll write about it in the next book-review post!

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May :: BETA READ (Darkening Skies: Draft Two)  – K. R. Green

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May :: Shadowbound – Dianne Sylvan 

5 Stars

Shadowbound is book 5 in the Shadow World series. I bought it when it first released, but dare not let myself read it until the next one was available.

Once again, Dianne has a wonderful writing style, and I was sucked back into the world of the characters; finishing the book in a couple of days.

I will admit that some aspects (especially after a couple of years break from Book 4 to now) were confusing in places. The Lore is full of little twists or unexpected undertones, but I feel that as the reader discovers this information at the same pace as the characters, it just makes the character’s confusion feel more realistic. I found it helpful that I’ve read her Agency series, as I didn’t need too much description of general concepts that I may have otherwise been a little confused by.

Aside from that, I still feel that the characterisation is solid, I love that she can make me laugh and cry within a few pages, and I particularly read Dianne’s books for her great sense of pace. Much like she has done previously, there is a sense of cliff-hanger on one aspect of the story, although not as bad as another book I could mention! I’m glad to already have Book 6 (Shadowstorm) in the series and will definitely turn to that one next time I want a quick but enjoyable read.

I still recommend this series; and am looking forward to seeing how the Lore will come together in the next story.

~

July :: Mockingbird – Chuck Wendig 

5 Stars

I didn’t mean to start reading this book – I was in the middle of some others, but Chuck’s fast-paced story drew me back into the world of Miriam Black the moment I opened it. The main characters still feel solid, her powers feel not-too-far-displaced-from-reality and his writing style creates a very easy read. This book seemed darker than the first, and had more twists and connections than the first, but these were executed seamlessly.

Once more, I don’t tend to read books with swearing or murder, and yet could not put this down. There’s a slight sense of cliff-hanger at the end, more-so than in book one, which will definitely bring me to reading the third instalment at some point.

~

August :: The Hero of Ages – Brandon Sanderson

5 Stars

The third instalment of the first trilogy. As always, Sanderson unravels the cords of the universe, then ties each one up until you feel you understand the world; then connects the dots you hadn’t seen were possible.

This story follows on from the first two: a story in its own right, but very much an extension of the world, and of understanding the magic system not unlike science. In the beginning, the magic has rules. Throughout the character’s arcs, we learn more rules and even some which turn out not to quite be true; at least not how they first seemed.

The ending of this trilogy had that characteristic “never would have guessed” but “obvious in hindsight” feel which I have come to know of Sanderson’s stories. They unfold so elegantly that the pieces fit perfectly; until you realise they have been laid face-down on the table. Sanderson flips the puzzle over, finally revealing a picture that you couldn’t see, yet makes even more sense than it did before.

I’ve loved this trilogy, and have recommended the series to friends as a great balance of great characterisation, fast-paced action and a well explored fantasy world.

  ~

December :: The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life – Noble Smith 

4 Stars

A half literature review, half positive affirmation book focusing on the ‘lessons’ found in Tolkien’s books focusing around Middle Earth.

As someone who read the Hobbit but struggled to get through Lord of the Rings, I mostly found the back-story useful for filling in some of the gaps in my knowledge. I think each of the chapters could have ended with some more examples of practical applications for the tips; particularly those which are a little more abstract, such as each of us perhaps needing to cast our own ‘ring of doom’ away.

For someone who hasn’t re-read the entire series many times, this was a pleasant read; however I can appreciate that hard-core fans likely wouldn’t gain a lot from it.

~

December :: Indigo – Mhairi Simpson (Novella)

5 Stars

I don’t know why it took me so long to read this. Mhairi writes a fast-paced, yet descriptive tale about the transition from ‘normal girl’ (whatever that means), to Valkyrie.

For a novella, there was a great balance between character-arc movement, setting description and emotional events. A quick read, but one which pulls the reader in to experience emotions and feelings of the characters.

If I were to critique it, my only suggestion would be that the story continue to be told beyond the end-point, or that it hadn’t ended on a little cliff-hanger!

~

December :: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things – Jenny Lawson

4 Stars

This book definitely does what it says on the tin. Some aspects are witty, providing humour while others talk about the realities of mental health experiences. I began reading this book thinking that it may contain interesting insights about those whose mental health really impacts them every day. The diagnoses mentioned by the author at the beginning are all things I’ve heard of from my day-job training, but are not conditions I know what it’s like to have the real-world experience of. So this was a book to widen my horizon of knowledge about living with mental health.

But by 50% in, I’d agreed with a good handful of comments – either for similar thoughts I’ve had during anxiety or for similar experiences. I’ve definitely woken up with a numb arm that’s fallen asleep and had that split-second thought that my arm was missing, for example.

However, there were points where I felt I was missing the joke, or felt a bit ‘switched off’ from the topic as sometimes the randomness jumped too quickly from one topic to another. I felt it could have flowed a little more if re-ordered in places, and can understand why people may struggle to follow this book.

There were some funny quips and stories, I generally enjoyed reading it, and have recommended it to a friend who I feel might find it matches her sense of humour and interest in mental health.

~

What has been your favourite book this year?

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