Monday, 19 October 2015

Review: A Thousand Nights - E.K. Johnston

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston, published by Macmillan Children's Books on 22nd October 2015

Goodreads synopsis:

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village, looking for a wife. When Lo-Melkhiin - a formidable king - arrives at her desert home, she knows that he will take her beautiful sister for a wife. Desperate to save her sister from certain death, she makes the ultimate sacrifice - leaving home and family behind to live with a fearful man. But it seems that a strange magic flows between her and Lo-Melkhiin, and night after night, she survives. Finding power in storytelling, the words she speaks are given strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. But she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king ...if only she can stop her heart from falling for a monster.

I was really looking forward to this book. A retelling of ‘A Thousand and One Nights’, I was expecting this to become a firm favourite. I’m always on the lookout for clever retellings of classic tales and from all the hype surrounding this title, I thought it sounded like exactly my kind of book. Although I had a proof copy, the finished cover art is absolutely gorgeous and would definitely make me pick this title up if I saw it in a bookshop. Sadly, for me, the contents didn’t match the packaging. I did finish this one but my attention had sorely wandered by the time that I came to the last page which is such a shame because I had high hopes for ‘A Thousand Nights’. 

The story begins with an introduction to the character of Lo-Melkiin. He marries young girls and only ever picks one from each village or town, but none survive beyond sunrise. The nameless narrator of the story is certain that when he visits her village, he will choose her beautiful sister for his bride. Determined to stop this from happening, she makes herself look more attractive so that he will be drawn to choose her instead. I loved the way that she protected her sister from certain death at Lo-Melkiin’s hands and the way that the strength of the bond between the two siblings so obviously came across throughout the book.       

After she becomes Lo-Melkiin’s wife, she stays alive by telling him stories at night, while suspecting that there is something dark living within him. I didn’t feel any chemistry between the two leads so the romance aspect of the story fell completely flat for me. I liked the fact that our heroine was courageous and brave and more than capable of standing alone but I also wanted her to have more of a drive to safe Lo-Melkiin because she felt some sort of love for him.

About a third of the way through the book, the story became very fantastical and there was a definite increase in the amount of magic and fantasy that was woven into the plot. I’m afraid this didn’t particularly appeal to me and it seemed to throw the story off-kilter. 

I suspect that this is a book which some people will love but unfortunately I didn’t fall into that category. If my expectations hadn’t been so high at the start then I suspect I probably wouldn’t have persevered with finishing it.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Review: Angel Dares - Joss Stirling

Angel Dares by Joss Stirling, published by Oxford University Press on 1st October 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Angel is impulsive. Disguising her savant ability to control water doesn't come easily to her. Then she meets the broodingly handsome Marcus at a music festival where they're both performing, and finds herself all at sea. For when he sings, her soul answers with its own music. Like the tide, their mutual attraction cannot be held back, but Marcus's mistrust of Angel's gift is even stronger. How can they ever be together if Marcus is unable to accept who Angel is or what they could mean to each other? And with the net closing in on the Savant community it's time for everyone to choose a side.

Joss Stirling's SoulFinder series is one of my favourites.  I love the whole idea of the Savant community and the fact that all these couples are destined to be together but have to find each other first. 

'Angel Dares' was another terrific addition to the series.  The main character Angel, meets Marcus, a fellow musician at a festival and is drawn to him through their music.  He is originally distrustful of her gift and refuses to believe in the savant community which makes their relationship extremely difficult.  Angel however, is such a positive person that she won't be deterred and tries to get him to change his mind, with often mixed results I might add.

I have to say that as much as I love this series, I am a little disappointed that the direction of the stories has shifted away from the Benedict brothers and instead has focussed on some of the younger characters.  I would have loved to have seen the whole book based around Will and his personal search for his soulfinder but this was relegated to being nothing more than a sub-plot.  I realise that some of the brothers are slightly older, so I can only imagine that they were deemed too old to be the central focus of a young-adult series.  All the same, I miss seeing them at the heart of the story. 
There were glimpses of them in the book though which did keep me very happy.   

I thought the plot was good, especially the inclusion of the threat which hangs over the heads of the savants.  This led to a really dramatic conclusion which was both exciting and gripping. 

Hopefully the next book in the series will be about Victor Benedict who has always been one of my favourites.  I'm hoping that he will eventually be lucky in love! 

Monday, 5 October 2015

Review: Edgewater - Courtney Sheinmel

Edgewater by Courtney Sheinmel, published by Amulet Books on 21st September 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Lorrie Hollander used to be a rich girl who spent her money on boarding school and equestrian camp. But that was before. It’s been twelve years since Lorrie’s mother skipped town and left Lorrie and her sister in the care of her unstable aunt Gigi. Together they live in a decaying mansion called Edgewater, the eyesore in a town of extraordinary wealth and privilege.

While Lorrie is desperately trying to keep her family from collapse, she meets Charlie, the son of an esteemed senator. Terrified that he will learn the truth about her, she holds him at a distance. But Charlie’s family is hiding something, too. And Lorrie could never have imagined how their secrets, and their lives, are inextricably bound.

I found this book very slow.  I got about half-way through and then realised that nothing had really happened yet.  Although I've seen some great reviews for this title and it did sound promising beforehand, I have come to the conclusion that it just wasn't for me. 

The story is about a teenager called Lorrie, who used to live a life of privilege and riches before her family end up losing all their money.  Abandoned by her mother, Lorrie and her sister live with their Aunt Gigi in their now crumbling family home, Edgewater.  Lorrie is desperate to hide their downfall from her friends and especially handsome Charlie, the son of a senator. However, secrets long buried, begin to rise to the surface and it's only so long before everyone begins to find out the truth. 

The blurb of this book made it sound so good and I really wanted to like 'Edgewater' but in my opinion, it needed more drive and impetus.  It was so slow that I found it hard to stay engaged with the story and I didn't particularly care about any of the characters.  The most interesting character in the book was actually the crumbling Edgewater itself which has been left to sit and decay.  Most of the first half was centred around Lorrie reiterating her money problems but I wanted and needed something else to happen and I was left feeling disappointed with this title. 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Chasers of the Light: Poems From The Typewriter Series - Tyler Knott Gregson

Chasers of the Light: Poems From The Typewriter Series by Tyler Knott Gregson, published by Penguin on 8th October 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
One day, while browsing an antique store in Helena, Montana, photographer Tyler Knott Gregson stumbled upon a vintage Remington typewriter for sale. Standing up and using a page from a broken book he was buying for $2, he typed a poem without thinking, without planning, and without the ability to revise anything.

He fell in love.

Three years and almost one thousand poems later, Tyler is now known as the creator of the Typewriter Series: a striking collection of poems typed onto found scraps of paper or created via blackout method. Chasers of the Light features some of his most insightful and beautifully worded pieces of work—poems that illuminate grand gestures and small glimpses, poems that celebrate the beauty of a life spent chasing the light.

This review is short but heartfelt.  Read this book.  Buy this book.  Share this book with a friend.  If you want to have your heartstrings tugged and your emotions scattered all over the place, then read these beautiful poems.  Typewritten on scraps of paper and interspersed with Tyler Knott Gregson's own photography, this collection of poetry has been woven into a gem of a book.  I have been dipping in and out of it ever since I first picked it up and my copy is now stuffed with scraps of people, marking all of my favourite poems.  I will be reading these over and over again because they are just beautiful and they speak to me in a way that leaves me feeling like someone has just looked into my soul.      
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