WWW Wednesday: 20th May 2020

This Book Tag is hosted by Taking On A World Of Words.

What I’ve read, What I’m reading, What’s next.

What I’ve Read

Title: Orphan Monster Spy

Author: Matt Killeen

Star rating: 5 / 5

Mini review/synopsis:

Talented, artistic, oppressed. Sarah has been learning to survive in a world that has become dangerous for her, her mother, and all other Jewish citizens throughout Europe. So what is a girl to do when she becomes unexpectedly orphaned? That’s right. She becomes a spy in a boarding school for the Nazi elite in 1939.

Sarah is one of my favourite novel protagonists in a long time. She is resourceful, ballsy, BRAVE, and mouthy. I love how she deals with her horrific situation, how she strategises and overcomes.

Matt Killeen expertly weaves Sarah’s backstory and experiences of being Jewish in increasing oppressive Austrian/German societies in the 1930s into the wider plot, which I found very educational. I found myself doing lots of research to fill in the gaps where my own knowledge was sadly lacking in this area of European history (this was further sparked by the Author’s note at the end of the novel). The plot was SO GOOD. Excellently paced and the twists towards the end of the novel were so brilliantly unexpected, I found myself moving the book as far away from me as I could whilst still being able to read.

A thrilling, well researched book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I cannot wait to read book 2 and, hopefully, learn some more about the Captain!

What I’m Currently Reading

Title: The Big Four

Author: Agatha Christie

First Impressions: will be at least a 4 star read

The story so far:

I am loving being back with Poirot, my favourite fictional detective. So far we have had a gentleman climb through Poirot’s apartment window and promptly drop dead. Now Poirot is on the tail of The Big Four, a mysterious criminal organisation. What’s more Hastings, Poirot’s friend, is back to narrate the story for us! I’m enjoying this one so far, but then I always enjoy a Christie.

What I’m Reading Next

Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

Author: Holly Jackson

This is a re-read before I read the sequel Good Girl, Bad Blood. Click here to read my review and keep your eyes peeled for a review of book 2.

Blurb:

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . .

TTT: Top Ten Tuesday 19th May 2020.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This Tuesday:

Reasons Why I Love…The Bone Season series.

This week we have free rein to discuss something bookish we love. Enter my favourite book series that I have been following from the beginning!

I first read The Bone Season weeks after it was released as my Grandma thought it sounded like something I would love, after she had seen Samantha Shannon giving an interview about the book on BBC1. Book 2, The Mime Order, was published when I was at college. Book 3, The Song Rising, was published whilst I was hating every second of uni. This series dragged me kicking and screaming through the trauma of the end of my education and I love it.

Set in a future where the world has ‘fallen’ to clairvoyance and the Republic of Scion is trampling the world into submission, Paige Mahoney must survive in the safety of the Criminal Underworld of London. Paige’s job is to break into the minds of other voyants as the right-hand woman of Jaxon Hall, one of London’s Mime Lords. That is until she is attacked, abducted, and taken to the prison city of Oxford, kept hidden from the world for 200 years. Let the fun (and the emotional torture) begin!

Here are a few reasons why I adore The Bone Season series.

1. Each book (so far) is almost a love letter to a city. The Bone Season = Ode to Oxford. The Mime Order = Ode to London. The Song Rising = Ode to Edinburgh (with a side of Manchester thrown in). The Mask Falling = Ode to Paris.

2. World building. Following on from the fact this series explores different cities and locations, the general world building is so vast. So, so vast. We have orders of clairvoyance along with innumerable types of clairvoyant, we have the entire history of the Scion regime, we have the history of an entire different species, we have transport systems, have recreational activities and entertainment, it goes on and on and it’s insane.

3. Etymology. The genius of the words and the names. Honestly if you want a deep dive into etymology go straight to Samantha Shannon’s Twitter.

4. Jaxon Hall. He’s a sassy, brilliant, sly, pain in the ass. Please read this series he is such a great character.

5. Slightly shallow but, look how pretty 😍 Who wouldn’t want these on their shelves?!

6. It’s going to be a 7 book series! The first 3 have already been published, book 4 is on its way in January 2020 and then there will be 3 more to look forward to!! Samantha Shannon is also known to write chonky ass books so think of how much book fun is still to be had!

7. These books are a musical education. Trust me. Oh, and Samantha Shannon has created some rather helpful Spotify playlists to accompany the books.

8. Girl power! Women run the show in this series. Including the antagonists.

9. Representation and inclusivity. This series contains a multitude of characters from different backgrounds and life situations. This includes POC characters and LGBTQIA+ characters.

10. SLOW. BURN. ROMANCE. Enough said.

See more of my favourite things over on my Bookstagram!
This week:

Review: A Very English Murder by Verity Bright

A Very English Murder, by Verity Bright

Format: e-Arc

Published date: 7th April 2020

⭐️ 2 / 5

Thank you to NetGalley who kindly provided this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I’d like to apologise for this long overdue review. I was sent this e-ARC a while before lockdown began. A busy few weeks at work pre-lockdown and the initial lockdown blues of being unable to concentrate enough to read have prevented me from reading and reviewing this book. I did manage to read this in its publication week and I’m happy to be finally sharing my thoughts.

Plot

Our protagonist, Lady Eleanor, witnesses a murder. Except the body vanishes, and the police seem to have no desire to investigate. So Ellie begins sleuthing around the village to solve the murder herself. On the surface this is my perfect book. This concept is so intriguing and I thought this would be a real brain teaser of a novel. Unfortunately not.

The plot began painfully slowly and didn’t really start getting anywhere until around half way through. Honestly I thought the whole first half of the novel could have been cut and it wouldn’t have impacted the story. There was one small side character introduced in the first few chapters that popped up again later in the novel to be useful in ultimately solving the crime, but otherwise there was nothing remotely useful or entertaining in the first half of the novel. Once the plot finally got a move on, everything was very predictable. I felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities for real red herrings and twists to really get the reader going. Unfortunately, I felt the plot was severely lacking in this area.

There was a lot of effort made to drip feed Eleanor’s backstory into the novel. This was the main thing that kept me interested in the book. All I wanted to know was what happened to Ellie’s parents and more about her global travels. *Spoiler alert* we don’t find out what happened to Ellie’s parents. I can only assume this is planting seeds for later books in the series however the mystery element of this mystery novel was not executed well enough for me to read another book in this series.

Characters

Ellie is a confusing character. She spends the first 20 chapters doing absolutely nothing except despising other characters in the book for not taking her seriously because she’s a woman. Bright uses Ellie’s every line of thought or dialogue to express that the police in the little village Ellie now lives in is backwards as there are no female officers. She constantly provides social commentary that the men around her are underestimating her before she even opens her mouth based on the fact she’s a woman. She even goes as far as to suspect characters of murder based on how they treated her as a woman and not a shred of motive or anything remotely relevant. The first couple of times it’s brought up, fine, that’s setting the scene. But after that? Honestly, Jesus Christ I get it. The novel is set in 1920s England. We know the social position of women in this time. I felt it was irrelevant to the plot or the character development, especially considering no semblance of a plot was taking place. The second the plot began heading somewhere, the ridiculous commentary stopped clearly showing it served no purpose.

So Ellie was set up as being very pro-women’s rights and very forward thinking for her era, so I thought ‘great’! Surely this means Bright is going to use her protagonist to shut down irritating tropes of women in the 1920s right? HAHAHAHA WRONG. Every time an attractive man enters her field of view she suddenly can’t function and goes weak at the knees. It’s all blushing and feeling faint when an attractive man strays too close. Very cliché.

So which is it? Fainting flapper girl and a hopeless romantic, or trailblazing modern roaring 20s woman (who FYI could have romance without the stereotypical weak, woozy, fainting cr*p).

Clifford, the butler, is a pain in the rear. One of his personality quirks is he is very pedantic. Fine, that’s established early on. But sometimes it feels like this gets in the way of meaningful dialogue and it SERVES NO PURPOSE. Honestly so infuriating.

I did however love the rest of the cast of household staff who each had distinct personalities, really contributed to Ellie’s character development and felt like tangible people.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately this book just left me feeling kind of meh. For the most part it felt like I was reading FanFiction of something, and I’d like to point out I’ve read novel-quality FanFic, but this is more an inexperienced author who hasn’t found a voice. The voice is confused, the third person narrative doesn’t work when Eleanor spends so much time inside her own head and voices dialogue to the dog instead of having the novel written in first person…but maybe that’s just me?

I’m really upset that I didn’t enjoy this book as the blurb sounds like everything I adore in a novel. I really expected so much more from this book…

I’d like to thank NetGalley again for sending this e-Arc to me in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

Move over Miss Marple, there’s a new sleuth in town! Meet Eleanor Swift: distinguished adventurer, dog lover, dignified lady… daring detective?

England, 1920Eleanor Swift has spent the last few years travelling the world: taking tea in China, tasting alligators in Peru, escaping bandits in Persia and she has just arrived in England after a chaotic forty-five-day flight from South Africa. Chipstone is about the sleepiest town you could have the misfortune to meet. And to add to these indignities – she’s now a Lady

Lady Eleanor, as she would prefer not to be known, reluctantly returns to her uncle’s home, Henley Hall. Now Lord Henley is gone, she is the owner of the cold and musty manor. What’s a girl to do? Well, befriend the household dog, Gladstone, for a start, and head straight out for a walk in the English countryside, even though a storm is brewing… 

But then, from the edge of a quarry, through the driving rain, Eleanor is shocked to see a man shot and killed in the distance. Before she can climb down to the spot, the villain is gone and the body has vanished. With no victim and the local police convinced she’s stirring up trouble, Eleanor vows to solve this affair by herself. And when her brakes are mysteriously cut, one thing seems sure: someone in this quiet country town has Lady Eleanor Swift in their murderous sights… 

TTT: Top Ten Tuesday 28th April 2020.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This Tuesday:

Books I Wish I’d Read as a Child

When I saw this topic I thought I was really going to struggle but it turns out that this list filled up very quickly.

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Didn’t go anywhere near Tolkien until I was towards the end of my teens.

2. The Little Prince/Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I came to this book whilst learning French but I would have loved to appreciate this book during childhood.

3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I watched the film as a child but never read the book (and still haven’t…)

4. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham

Same as above…

5. The Borrowers by Mary Norton

And again. Honestly I feel like this theme dominated my childhood…

6. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

One of my favourite Disney films and never even knew it was a book until I was in my teens.

7. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

Same story as with Peter Pan.

8. The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton

As I kid I was far too busy with the Rainbow Magic Fairies/Animal Ark/Magic Pony books. Goosebumps was another popular series when I was little and then, on top of all of that, the Harry Potter series was being released throughout my childhood. So with all that exciting children’s book publishing going on, I couldn’t think of anything worse than picking some ‘ancient’ books instead. I really regret that now…

9. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Unfortunately this is another story of not knowing these even existed until after the film…

10. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

Film again…This was a film I watched time and time again with my grandma. Never knew it was a book first, still haven’t read it…

I blame this on my parents and my family not reading. 😂 Ever. They are big cinema buffs though, as you might be able to tell.

See more of my favourite things over on my Bookstagram!
This week:

12 Days of Christmas 2019: Day 6

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K Rowling

“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!”

– Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
Continue reading “12 Days of Christmas 2019: Day 6”

12 Reads of Christmas 2019: Day 4

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you”

– Mr Darcy
Continue reading “12 Reads of Christmas 2019: Day 4”

12 Reads of Christmas 2019: Day 3

The Northern Lights, Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials #1)

“I wish…” she said, and stopped. There was nothing that could be gained by wishing for it. A final deep shaky breath, and she was ready to go on.

– Lyra Belaqua, The Northern Lights
Continue reading “12 Reads of Christmas 2019: Day 3”

12 Reads of Christmas 2019: Day 2

And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie

“I don’t know. I don’t know at all. And that’s what’s frightening the life out of me. To have no idea….”

– Rogers, the butler
Continue reading “12 Reads of Christmas 2019: Day 2”

12 Reads of Christmas 2019: Day 1

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

“I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”

– Ebenezer Scrooge
Continue reading “12 Reads of Christmas 2019: Day 1”

Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon (The Bone Season #2)

Title: The Mime Order

Author: Samantha Shannon

Pages:  528

Published: 27th January 2015

⭐️ 5 / 5

N.B This review is taken from my previous blog Theatre and Movies and Books, Oh My, which was deactivated in 2016.

The Mime Order is the long awaited sequel to Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season, and my most anticipated read of this year. I have really been looking forward to catching up with the characters and this book did not disappoint. As this is a review of a sequel, it may contain minor spoilers for the first book in the series so proceed with caution.

The Mime Order continues mere seconds after The Bone Season finished, with Paige and the gang speeding away from Sheol I and back to London. This book follows Paige re-adjusting to life in the city with the knowledge of what she learnt in the penal colony. Will she be able to return to her life before she was captured, or will she expose that Scion is a puppet government under the control of the other-worldly Rephaim? The plot of this book is a lot slower than The Bone Season as there is little of the action experienced in the first however I was still completely gripped with the twists and turns and the character development. There is so much world building to enjoy. We learn a lot about the structure to the clairvoyant underworld of London and the Scion regimes in place in the city. I really enjoyed this as it built on the snatches of information we gained in the first novel. I was also able to see that this book sets up where the series is heading and how that is going to happen which makes me excited for the rest of the series.

Continue reading “Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon (The Bone Season #2)”