the bookish life

my geeky love for books and bookish things

Tag: books (page 1 of 10)

Book Review – The Spy by Paulo Coelho

This book was a complete cover buy. And I’ll admit, I’ve yet to read any of Coelho’s other books – this was my first. I’m impressed.

the spy

When Mata Hari arrived in Paris she was penniless. Within months she was the most celebrated woman in the city. As a dancer, she shocked and delighted audiences; as a courtesan, she bewitched the era’s richest and most powerful men. But as paranoia consumed a country at war, Mata Hari’s lifestyle brought her under suspicion. In 1917, she was arrested in her hotel room on the Champs Elysees, and accused of espionage. – Goodreads

The Spy is a novel about Mata Hari, written in the format of her final letter to her lawyer before execution. Her voice is quite unique, with a tendency to brag and gloss over details. So much so, that I was left wondering what part of her narrative was actual truth. The novel ends with a letter to her from her lawyer, which unveils some of her lies and glossed over details. It almost made her sound delusional. It was a nice touch for an ending, although the sudden change in tone threw me a little.

So was Mata Hari a feminist before her time, punished for living freely? It’s definitely a question I want to explore a bit more, as I know quite little about her. And now I’m definitely interested in reading some more of Coelho’s work.

4/5

Book Review – Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

I’m a bit late to the Leigh Bardugo party. I’ve only recently read the Six of Crows duology, and her other books in the same universe have now been added to my TBR. So I guess you could say I’ve become a fan!

But when I heard about Warbringer, I was a bit hesitant. A YA novelization of Wonder Woman? That could easily go sideways. The last thing WW needs is to be portrayed as a lovesick teen. Happily, I think Bardugo has done her justice.

warbringer

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world. – Goodreads

Warbringer provides a fresh new approach to Wonder Woman that I quite enjoyed. Yes, Diana is a teen. And yes, she has doubts, fears, and is still coming into her own. But you can see a glimmer of the superhero she will eventually become.

Bardugo’s world building is excellent, and the pacing kept me interested throughout. There was a twist that I totally did not see coming, which was refreshing! The ending though – it didn’t really sit right with me. It seemed a bit too clean and simple. But it ends on a positive note, which was pretty nice. Overall, I’d definitely recommend it.

4/5

Book Review – Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Magpie Murders is absolutely fantastic. It’s a murder mystery within a murder mystery and is a complete homage to Agatha Christie and the genre itself.

magpie murders

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job. – Goodreads

The first half of the book is the ninth novel in a successful whodunnit series by an English author. His detective, Atticus Pünd is trying to solve a murder in a sleepy little village. But the final chapters are missing! I was actually really aggravated when it cut off. But really, that was the point. The second half of the book is narrated by the editor of the Pünd series, as she hunts for the missing pages AND investigates the untimely death of the author. SO GOOD!

Pacing, characterization, world building – it’s all brilliantly put together. I’ll admit, I was a bit more interested in the Pünd novel, rather than the mystery surrounding it. The editor’s narrative voice was just so different. But that really didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story. I will recommend Magpie Murders a million times over. Go read it!

5/5

Book Review – Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast

I won Zero Repeat Forever in a Goodreads giveaway! I’d never heard of it before entering the contest, but I thought the summary was pretty interesting. And it’s Canadian!

zero repeat forever

He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind. Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall. His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting. Until a human kills her…

Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance. Shelter in place. Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have? Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.

Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival comes to depend on trusting each other… – Goodreads

Zero Repeat Forever is a really unique bit of dystopian science fiction. It’s gritty and dark, with well written and complex central characters. The rest of the characters are a bit flat, but it doesn’t take away from the story much. While the pacing can be slow at times, the overall story arc is strong, and it has a hell of a cliffhanger. I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel.

4/5

Book Review – Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

After months of seeing their beautiful covers all over Instagram, I have finally read this duology. And… these books are really freaking good.

six of crows duology

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first. – Goodreads

It’s a fantasy/steampunk/heist story with an Ocean’s 11 vibe – I loved it. Bardugo has created a complex, dark and well developed world – I found myself immersed in the story very quickly. Her characters are also extremely well done. They’re deeply flawed and at times, very unlikeable. Yet I found myself hoping they would succeed. Conversation and banter flowed easily between characters, and I was impressed with how well Bardugo covered things like PTSD. And I was thrilled that the entire story was limited to two books, because series that go longer than that are getting a bit tired.

I definitely recommend giving these books a whirl. As for me, I’m going to track down Bardugo’s other titles!

4/5

Book Review – The Science of Orphan Black by Casey Griffin & Nina Nesseth

Stepping away from the spooky Halloween books for a moment. Time for SCIENCE!

Orphan Black

Delve deeper into the scientific terms and theories at the core of the Peabody-winning, cult favourite show. With exclusive insights from the show’s co-creator Graeme Manson and science consultant Cosima Herter, The Science of Orphan Black takes you behind the closed doors of the Dyad Institute and inside Neolution. Authors Casey Griffin and Nina Nesseth decode the mysteries of Orphan Black — from the history of cloning, epigenetics, synthetic biology, chimerism, the real diseases on which the clone disease is based, and the transhumanist philosophies of Neolution, to what exactly happens when a projectile pencil is shot through a person’s eye and into their brain. – Goodreads

Orphan Black is one of my favourite TV shows, and I’m bummed that it’s over. I picked up The Science of Orphan Black at FanExpo this summer, and had the opportunity to talk a bit with one of the authors. So I was super excited to dive into this book – and I wasn’t disappointed.

This book is really well thought out and researched, and super easy to read without a science background. It’s packed full of fascinating nuggets about the show, and makes you realize just how brilliant this show really was. I’m now in the mood to re-watch, now that I’m aware of all these extra tidbits. If you’re a fan of the show, I highly recommend giving The Science of Orphan Black a read.

5/5

Book Review – Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Yup, I think Grady Hendrix is a new favourite.

Horrorstor

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination. – Goodreads

Horrorstör is almost more experience than novel. The design of this book is so much fun – it looks just like an Ikea catalogue, complete with a store map and an order form. Each chapter even starts with an ad for a piece of furniture, although they get progressively more disturbing as the story goes on.

Horrorstör is a ghost story; Orsk (an Ikea rip-off) is experiencing vandalism at night, and some of the staff decide to stay over to investigate. Cue gruesome craziness. Overall the story is solid, and it was really easy to picture the action. It would make a great movie, although I did feel like it ended a bit too quickly. Or a sequel would be great too!

4/5

Book Review – The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

This book is amazing. Just amazing.

Rules of Magic

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man. Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse. – Goodreads

This beautiful book is a prequel to Practical Magic, and the two tie together quite nicely. This time we’re following the lives of the aunts and their little brother Vincent as they navigate love, grief and everything in between. The world Hoffman has built is stunning and the characters are nuanced, flawed and very realistic. As soon as I had finished the book, I wanted to dive right back into it again. I think it’s definitely time to give Practical Magic another spin as well.

In a couple of weeks, Alice Hoffman is coming my local library for a Q&A. I’ve already got my ticket, and I really hope I’ll be able to get this beauty signed by her.

5/5

Book Review – It Devours! by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

Another Welcome to Night Vale novel? Yes please!

It Devours

Nilanjana Sikdar is an outsider to the town of Night Vale. Working for Carlos, the town’s top scientist, she relies on fact and logic as her guiding principles. But all of that is put into question when Carlos gives her a special assignment investigating a mysterious rumbling in the desert wasteland outside of town.

This investigation leads her to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, and to Darryl, one of its most committed members. Caught between her beliefs in the ultimate power of science and her growing attraction to Darryl, she begins to suspect the Congregation is planning a ritual that could threaten the lives of everyone in town. Nilanjana and Darryl must search for common ground between their very different world views as they are faced with the Congregation’s darkest and most terrible secret. – Goodreads

You all know by now that WTNV is one of my favourite podcasts. Happily, their second novel It Devours! channels the spirit of it perfectly. And isn’t it pretty?! I just had to buy the signed edition.

I whipped through this book in one sitting – it’s an engrossing and enjoyable read. It was great to have a story centred on Carlos, giving him more depth, emotion and flaws. The timeline and certain plot points had me scratching my head a bit, so I think I need to go back and re-listen to some episodes. Overall, It Devours! is an improvement over the first novel – which was pretty good too!

4/5

Book Review – My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

I’ve been reading spooky books this month, and My Best Friend’s Exorcism definitely fits the bill.

best friend's exorcism

The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act…different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries–and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil? – Goodreads

I loved every disgusting bit of this book. It’s funny, heartwarming and gross all at once. And this cover is amazing! I managed to recognize most of the pop culture references too, which was pretty cool.

The world building was impressive and the characters had personality and depth. I really felt for Abby and the grief she went through. I’ve also read Horrorstor and I think I have a new author to add to my favourites shelf! And I really loved the ending. It had a satisfying finality to it.

4/5

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