Clade by James Bradley – Book Review.

Title: Clade

Author: James Bradley

Rating: 3/5

Genre: Environmental, Dystopian Future, Sci-Fi, Fantasy


Note – after a three month hiatus, I’ve returned back to (hopefully) regular blogging. Apologies for such a long time. My Masters has finally finished!

So, as a few of you know, I get kindly sent books from Titan Publishing in order to read and review them a few weeks before publication. I get to pick and choice my books from a brief synopsis, which allows me to get excited about them before they arrive in the post.

About a month ago, I was sent Clade by James Bradley, and was instantly drawn in by the blurb. Set against a very startling and believable world of climate change, Clade follows the tale of one family and their generations as they struggle to live in a world that has been ravaged by pollution and population size. The world is close enough to our own to feel familiar, but also fitting in with the sci-fi/dystopian genre of YA fiction.

clade

With each chapter virtually introducing a new character/story arc (and possibly set years apart from the previous arc), this story explores both familial and romantic relationships against the backdrop of a decaying world. One thing that I did notice was that sometimes it took a while for the key figure to be introduced, which made me drift slightly whilst reading it. The almost ‘snapshot’ image of this new member of the family (the Leith family, for anyone interested) did well in keep with the horrific world that they lived in, but it did make me, as a reader, a bit unsure about who I was reading about, and why Bradley focussed on them. This may have been because the book is relatively short (250ish pages) and in order to write about an entire generation, you need a much larger book.

However, when Bradley really wanted to concentrate on the development of the relationships and the family member, he did so with delicacy and precision. One relationship I particularly enjoyed reading about was Ellie and Adam, as their relationship is shown from extreme happiness to a complete breakdown.

Bradley’s other strengths lie with the world building. A very plausible and alarming future has been built, and Bradley keeps the reader intrigued with his tidbits about how super tsunamis/storms/earthquakes affect the rest of the world and not just the countries in which Clade is set. He has also taken one hell of a controversial and political subject and made it very readable for people who aren’t entirely clued up with the climate change deal.

All in all, Clade has been a refreshing take on the dystopian/environmental future genre. Apart from some weaknesses with the Leith family dynamic, (which could be down to Bradley being an overeager writer?) Clade is a relatively short, well-written novel that will leave you mulling over climate change after you’ve finished the last page.

Buy Clade by James Bradley on Titan Books 

 

Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G.S Denning – Book Review


Title: 
Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone

Author: G.S Denning

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Alternative History, Fantasy, Mystery, Detective Fiction, Retelling, Supernatural


When it comes to Sherlock Holmes, there have been dozens of reimaginings and retellings of the famous figure.  Whether it be young Holmes, modern day Holmes, American Holmes or Robert Downey Jr Holmes, we’ve seen Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters been changed and rejigged for different audiences.

So when I was sent Warlock Holmes for review, I wasn’t surprised that another author had given our favourite consulting detective a new story and a new life. But what I was surprised about was how much I enjoyed this crossover.untitled203_1

In the original stories, Sherlock Holmes was a genius whose deductive skills were unparrelled and his mind was virtually unchallenged by regular people. Warlock Holmes, on the other hand, is an idiot. A good man, yes. A font of archane and witchy powers, who communicates with demons, devils and otherwordly creatures, yes. Yet his deducing skills rival that of a knat. So when he meets and subsequently befriends the brilliant Doctor Watson, they make an unlikely but excellent duo. And with the help of the nilistic vampire Inspector Vladislav Lestrade and actual ogre Inspector Torg Grogsson, Holmes and Watson go through a delightfully ‘weird’ version of London and solve mysteries.

This book reimagines six of Sherlock Holmes most popular cases (excluding Baskerville) and puts the occult spin on each one. And through each one, the writing is easy, fluid and comedic. Denning sticks to the original stories quite well, which gives the stories a good standing to fall back on. And with the addition of fantastical creatures, it just adds more to the text, rather than take anything away.

Throughout the text, Denning has swapped the dynamic between Holmes and Watson, yet it doesn’t lessen the relationship between the two men. I actually love the more idiotic and dim Holmes, as he does excel in the occult-ish sense, but lets Watson take the lead. The author also has put a fair bit of slapstick and quite silly comedy throughout, but as this wasn’t meant to be a serious retelling of the Sherlock Holmes saga, I felt like it didn’t make it feel too childish.

As a whole, the book is easy to read and very enjoyable for Sherlock Holmes fans. With Moriarty cropping up as a malevolent spirit who possess Warlock on occassion, and then coming to quite a dramatic ending, I actually found myself eager for the next book. Denning has left it with a marvellous cliffhanger, and to be honest, has written such a good retelling, it almost makes it feel believable.

All in all, a funny and lighthearted retelling of Conan Doyle’s stories, and a must-read for fans.

Warlock Holmes is out on the 27th May 2016 – Pre-order it here!

 

The Silent History by Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby and Kevin Moffett – Book Review

Title: The Silent History

Authors: Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby and Kevin Moffett.

Rating: 3.5/5

Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi, Dystopia, Adult Literature, Contemporary Fiction, Social Media Literature.


“Let the unknown be unknown. The things we need will reveal themselves in time.”

Thanks to the lovely people at Nudge-book.com, I was sent this book as a gift, alongside my main review text (link to that right here). And when I read the blurb and little insider summary of the book’s history, I was instantly intrigued.

The Silent History was originally published and serialised through an award-winning app, and released little by little as field studies and testimonals. It focuses on the tale of a generation of children born without speech, without language and without any obvious means of communication with the outside world. These are called ‘The Silents’. So instantly, the children are labelled under various terms31b3rhddlpl-_sy344_bo1204203200_
– a blessing, an epidemic, a freakshow, a scientific miracle, or just outcasts. The story is told through 120 individual testimonals, ranging from parents of ‘silent’ children, to doctors, friends, leaders and random observers, and it narrates how the children were first diagnosed, and how, through the years of 2011-44, these children grew into a world that saw the ‘silents’ change from being freaks of nature and into something far more powerful.

Now, I had my copy sent to me in a paperback book format. So I cannot review this as how it was originally published, as I didn’t have, or was even aware of the app. So, I apologise in that sense. But, after reading it, I can see how amazing this would have been as a novel-by-the-way-of-an-app. I have gathered through my research that there are even parts of the book that I haven’t been able to access, due to the user interaction that only the app can provide, which adds another level of this story completely.

Whilst I was reading it, I noticed there are definite touches of Sci-Fi, fantasy and even end-of-the-world in this book. With the ‘silents’ being diagnosed, humiliated and labelled an epidemic and then basically marginalised by the rest of society, there is a real sense of isolation and tension throughout the stories. With the use of first-hand and oral recordings of the silents history, it felt very World War Z, and the scenes of the motely groups of silents banding together was highly reminiscent of the zombie genre (think countless scenes in The Walking Dead) so I thought that the whole idea of discrimination was done really well.

With the people of the narrative, I also thought these were written extremely well. The authors could definitely explain human emotions, especially when said humans were at their limits. There are sections, like Theo (the manic, overprotective father) and his silent daughter, Flora, which does show postivity and family bonds, but not traditional sense at all. The most amusing character was either the straightforward Francine or the manic, cultish Patti, as they brought humour and a sense of realness to the crazy world they ipadiphone-33203a116f049163aa165def8aeb2a65lived in.

So yes, I found the premise and the writing was of a very high level. The original writers of the app and stories had clearly thought this out. But for me, the real problem was the translation of app-to-book. Like I said, I can definitely see how this would have worked as an app. It would have been so interesting, as the characters and stories would have been slowly given out, so the story would have been kept fresh and intriguing. But that doesn’t really work on paper. I was interested for 3/4 of the way through, but then it started to lose its focus and the ending wasn’t satisfying enough. Some characters just seemed to disappear without any proper farewells, and I did have to push myself to actually finish. Maybe due to how it was written or delivered, there were some parts were the narration felt slow and the big climax was disappointing to say the least.

But honestly, I think that is due to how it was changed from app to book. It does go to show that how stories are told originally really makes all the difference!

So unfortunately, I cannot give this a 4/5. The premise was fantastic, as was the writing. But it just didn’t work as a book. Not to this reviewer anyway.

But let me know! Have you ever read or used The Silent History app/book? How does it compare?

Once again, huge thank you to Nudge for sending me this.

Links:

To buy the book – Waterstones/Amazon

Website – Click Here

 

Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella – Book Review.

Title: Shopaholic to the Rescue

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Chick-Lit, Humour, Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romantic Comedy


OK,’ says Luke calmly. ‘Don’t panic’

Don’t panic? Luke is saying ‘Don’t panic’? No. Nooooo. This is all wrong. My husband never says ‘Don’t panic’. If he’s saying ‘Dont panic,’ then what he really means is: ‘There’s every good reason to panic.’ 

God, now I’m panicking.

For about for about six years now, I’ve been buying, reading and rereading Sophie Kinsella’s book saga ‘The Shopaholic Series’. As a teenage girl, these novels were the perfect read for those stressful times between school, exams and then college. And now, as a twenty-one year old, this series still holds a great deal of sway over my life, as I begin to emphasise with struggles in love, work and shopping. And in the last few weeks, Kinsella published the ninth book in the series ‘Shopaholic to the Rescue’, and the minute I opened the first page, and saw those opening emails, and immortal words which make up every beginning of these books ‘Ok. Don’t panic’, I fell back into the world of Becky Bloomwood nee Brandon, and her lovable and crazy life.

Overall, the series follows Becky as she deals with falling in love, marriages, families, children, friendship, housing issues , and all of this alongside a pretty serious, yet hilarious shopping addiction. And before I get into the review, I would thoroughly recommend that you read the entire series before this one – as it does follow a pretty straight forward plot throughout, and with the changes in Becky’s life, such as family dramas and the introduction of new characters, you would need to know how they wound up in this particular scenario. And in the ninth book, we find Becky taking on her biggest and most elaborate challenge yet.

After Kinsella, in Shopaholic to the Stars, left her in LA, with her relationship with her best friend, husband and career up in turmult, we pick up when Becky decides that a rescue mission is in order. And who is she rescuing?
Her father Graham, and her best friend’s husband Tarquin, who both vanish after Graham arrives from England to track down some old friend’s, and tags Tarquin along for the ride. However, despite assuring them all that they are all fine, Becky decides that the only possible solution is to hire a RV, drive the family from LA to Las Vegas and hunt down the missing men. But when she arrives in Las Vegas, Becky and her family get more than they bargained for, and are thrown for a loop when secrets from the past get dug up, and in typical Bloomwood fashion, not everything is as it appears.

So, for the ninth (and possible last) book in the series, Kinsella brings all the big guns out. Getting all the loved, and loathed characters together for one big American adventure was a sweet touch, as we got to see how they would all interact together, and some old faces even came back from the first books to play crucial parts. Kinsella’s writing of Becky hasn’t changed much in the years she’s been writing, which doesn’t limit the Shopaholic world in the slighest, but improve it. Becky, through all the ups and downs of the last few books, is still the young girl we all fell in love with. She still worries about spending, about her family, about Suze and about Alicia Bitch-Longlegs, and she still comes up with all the harebrained schemes that made her so lovable in the first place. The interactions between all the characters are familiar and comforting, and Becky once again triumphs in the end. However, what I did like was that nothing is entirely perfect in Becky’s life. She has some issues that seem entirely truthful, and frank to be able to touch some readers in a personal way, and she doesn’t skirt over them.

As story goes, it was a light-hearted romp full of very familiar (good familiar) scenarios, and nothing seemed too manic or impossible. The scheme that Becky pulls off is very typical ‘her’ style, but doesn’t seem that repetitive, or impossible. However, I should say that perhaps Kinsella should hang up the Shopaholic series for now. To be honest, after this book (which is a continuation of the story that she wrote in Shopaholic to the Stars) there doesn’t seem much to write about anymore. This books seems to be the perfect ending for Becky’s saga, and despite not wanting her to go and to continue to have more madcap ideas, if Kinsella continues on, it could just lose its sparkle and just be one of those series that you want to end.

The writing isn’t complex or challenging at all, but very personal and almost diary-esque. I’ve always thought Kinsella excelled at this particular type, and she uses it frequently in other stories. However, I must say that I’ve fallen out of love with Kinsella’s other books in the last few years, and it’s only been Becky that I’ve solidly stuck with. But that could just be my tastes changing.

So for a ending for the Shopaholic series, I’d say this is a fitting, well-done and proper conclusion. The story, the characters, and the essence of the plot is the same you fell in love with eight books previous, and the read is totally chick-lit, totally girly, and totally feel-good.

But please, let me know if you’ve enjoyed the series!

Links:

To buy the book – Amazon/Waterstones

To visit Kinsella’s website – Click Here 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt – Book Review

Title: The Secret History

Author: Donna Tartt

Rating: 5/5

Genres: Whydunnit, Adult Fiction, Crime Fiction, Inverted Detective Novel


“Does such a thing as ‘the fatal flaw,’ that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature? I used to think it didn’t. Now I think it does. And I think that mine is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs.”

When people to ask me, an English graduate and self-confessed bibliophile, ‘so what is your favourite book?’, it sends my mind reeling. Do I pick from my childhood loves of Harry Potter, or do I go to my Gothic favourites of Dracula or Wuthering Heights, or do I even bring out the doorstopper of a novel, Gone with the Wind? It honestly is one of the hardest questions I’ve ever had to answer. But I do usually narrow it down to a few select books, and have justified reasons for so. And within this, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is always there.

Now known as a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and with massive international acclaim, Tartt and her The Secret History is not an unknown book or author, and nor is it one that quietly unappreciated. As a debut novel, and written in 1992, The Secret History had an initial print run of 75,000 copies (which is a big deal, considering the usual print run is 10,000) and it instantly became a best-seller. In her literary life, Tartt has only written three fictional books, yet she has amassed a huge following, and whenever I read her books, I find myself feeling so unbelievably small when you experience the genius way she crafts sentences and plots.

So, through this brilliantly more-ish and highly addictive tale, the reader meets Richard Papen, as he gives the recollections of his time as a freshman in an imposing and highly prestigious college in Vermont. And whilst in this college, Richard quickly falls under the allure of the reclusive and almost other-worldly Classics students, and quickly becomes friends with them all. But as he falls further into the group, and the complexities that they all have, Richard finds himself tangled up in a web of terrifying crime, ancient Grecian traditions, and tragic circumstance which ultimately ends up in the murder of one of the group members by the rest of them.

Labelled as more of a ‘whydunit’ rather than a ‘who’, the novel explores the ideas of increasing anxieties, builds up of tensions, unavoidable circumstances and the panic that comes with guilt. So this novel could happily run with detective fiction anytime, and as it is written in such an excellent way, it really gives the reader the sense of actually being there, committing the crime and reaping the consequences. As the text deals with a very Classics-heavy theme, this novel certainly has elements of a ‘Greek tragedy’ to it. With whole unavoidable circumstances, hamartia, fatal flaws and an overall ‘tragic’ element, the ancient Grecian world does impact on the text. And I, as a once-Classics student, really appreciated it. But this novel can be easily read by any person who is hungry for a satisfying and stimulating read. The novel also would appeal to readers who like the ‘campus’ genre of fiction, as the college that they all attend is beautifully described, and makes you wish you could see Vermont throughout the seasons.

Through her writing, Tartt has really reached down to the subconscious of the human mind and has, therefore, made characters so unique and realistic that you cannot help picturing and drawing from them. With the complex nature of Henry – who is, by far, my most favourite character – Tartt has given him enough depth, personality and mystery to make him a puzzle. And even with Richard, who as the protagonist and newcomer to the group could seem a little flat compared to the rest of the students, he seems realistic, and gives the reader an outsider view on the strange group of students that he becomes friends with.

The novel doesn’t seem to drag, but tease the audience with little tidbits here and there, and makes the ending well-done and highly satisfying. This text works brilliantly as a stand-alone piece of work, and there isn’t necessarily anything else Tartt could have done to make it better. Easily labelled as a modern classic, Tartt is really an author to read and watch out for. I know that I am highly anticipating the next novel.

Links:

To buy the book – Waterstones
/Amazon