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S. Shamma "Suad" (Abu Dhabi, UAE)
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The Rabbit Back Literature Society
The Rabbit Back Literature Society
by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting premise, 20 Oct. 2015
This book wasn't what I expected it to be. Not at all. I bought it on a whim when I read an article about how it was one of the best books of the year and a must-read. Even though it was enjoyable, I would never have categorized it as a must-read, let alone one of the best books of the year.

The way it was described, I was expecting a thriller that will make your toes curl. Murder, mystery and suspense were all things I was waiting for. Unfortunately, although there was mystery, and an alleged murder/disappearance, there was very little suspense to make your toes curl.

The Rabbit Back Literature Society is about a very secretive and important society of the best writers in Rabbit Back. They consist of 9 members, never picking the 10th member before - until Ella. Ella is a literature substitute teacher who lives at home with her mother and peculiar dad. After a series of strange and not so important events, Ella is picked to be the 10th member of this elite Society. However, before she can truly become a member, her welcome party is attacked by a bizarre snow storm of sorts, in which Laura White, the head of the Society, disappears. Ella begins to understand that all is not as it seems in this Society, and wants to find out where Laura disappeared to and why.

So begins a series of interviews with the rest of the Society members, who obviously have a lot hidden and Ella starts to uncover that a 10th member did exist at one time many years ago. She tries to figure out what happened to him and after weeks and months of this, Laura is assumed dead, and Ella believes that this boy may have been murdered.

It's a good book, an interesting story, but not what I expected going into it. It is well written though, and I did want to know what happened to that little boy who disappeared and Laura White. Unfortunately, there seemed to be a lot of loose ends left unresolved, but overall an entertaining book.


The Master Magician (The Paper Magician Series)
The Master Magician (The Paper Magician Series)
by Charlie N. Holmberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The magic was lost in this one., 18 Oct. 2015
I'm afraid I didn't enjoy this book at all. It was just one of those books that I wanted to get out of the way as quickly as possible because I had already started the series and felt obligated to do so. It was such a huge disappointment for me after thoroughly enjoying the first and second parts of this trilogy. The excitement was gone, the exhilarating mystery and adventure disappeared, the strong and clever protagonist became obnoxious and silly, and the beautiful romance turned into lame drivel.

I was so enamored by the whole Jane Eyre romance from The Paper Magician. I loved the magical storyline, and was intrigued by the big reveal at the end of The Glass Magician. However, it seems that Charlie N. Holmberg opted not to delve too deep into any of that and instead gave us yet another irritating killer out to get Ceony and Emery and Ceony making yet more bad decisions and running around on her own trying to save the world.

Add to that her sister. Yes, I know. You're thinking "what sister?". Well that's what I was thinking too. Holmberg saw it fit to add another storyline on the side that has to do with Ceony's sister suddenly rebelling and hanging out with a bad crowd. A storyline that added nothing to the overall plot.

Overall a huge disappointment, I literally scanned through the whole thing because I was not invested in any of the characters and couldn't bring myself to care what happened to them. Ceony and Emery lost their magic. The magic was lost in this one.


The Heart of Betrayal (Remnant Chronicles)
The Heart of Betrayal (Remnant Chronicles)
by Mary E Pearson
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite series of the year, 18 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I absolutely LOVE this series. I can't remember the last time I was so fully absorbed in a series as much as this one, impatiently awaiting each part to come out! This book was just as exciting and wonderful as the first part - and for many different reasons.

Lia, Rafe, Kaden and the Komizar make such amazing characters, each one distinctly unique in their own way. I loved the character development and how Pearson provided us with a much bigger picture of the Vendan lifestyle and Kaden's world. Even Lia, despite her hatred and need for vengeance, comes to understand them a little more and finds a sort of kinship with some of the people in Venda.

What really grips you about this series are the unexpected, unpredictable twists and turns. I was so sure at the beginning of the book of how this was going to end, only to find myself completely blindsided by an even more amazing ending! Lia is such a strong and feisty heroine, you can't help but root for her and love her. She is a great princess, and a great protagonist to the series. You rarely see her complaining and whining as female heroines are wont to do in books. I also appreciated and thoroughly respected her character for not doubting Rafe or mistrusting him at any point. She allowed her love for him to rise above any doubts and suspicions she may have had for him. After all, he did spend the better part of the first book lying and deceiving her. And then in this book, he spends the entirety of it pretending to be the Prince's emissary and doing a darn good job of it. So she had every reason to distrust and let doubt cloud her judgment. She didn't though, and for that I am grateful as it would have created unnecessary drama, when there were much more important things to worry about (i.e. defeating the evil Komizar and escaping).

When Lia realizes that Rafe is waiting for his crew of 6 people to arrive in order to make their escape, she is disheartened. Six men against thousands? What chance do they have? And yet, she continues to trust him, even though it doesn't look like they were arriving anytime soon - until they do. And when they do, it is superbly entertaining to watch their attempts at blending in and meeting Lia for the first time.

I don't know that I liked Kaden so much in this book. I did enjoy the big reveal of his past and how he became the Assassin, but I don't think his character is as engrossing as that of Lia, Rafe and the Komizar. However, the distinction between Rafe and Kaden's chracters in The Heart of Betrayal was very evident. In The Kiss of Deception, we spend the entire book guessing who is who with their characters intertwining and meshing together so you can't really tell one from the other. Pearson succeeds in making that distinction clear in this book, allowing each character to develop independently of the other and allowing Lia to connect with each one separately and for different reasons.

The Komizar, on the other hand, was such an interesting villain. The way Pearson created him and brought him to life is absolutely brilliant. He is a villain that you almost want to see redeemed, even though you know it's not going to happen. There were many moments where I found myself thinking, could he possibly redeem himself? But then I think back to all the things he's done and is still doing and take it back immediately.

And the way Lia connects with the Vendan people and creates such loyalty in them, when she was the number one sworn enemy is spectacular to watch. Add to that the Komizar's proposition and you have yourself quite the conundrum.

Man oh man, the ending is insane. That's all I could possibly say about that. I cannot believe I need to wait another year before I find out what happens and how everything ends.


Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess Stardust TP
Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess Stardust TP
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fairy tale for adults, 18 Oct. 2015
It threw me completely off guard in that there were so many differences from the film adaptation. I can't really decide which I like more, except to say that I liked both film and book very much. I have the graphic novel version of the story, and that made it even more exciting to read. The magic jumps right out of the pages with the illustrations, and you get a better idea of the events taking place and the characters' development.

I must admit, I liked Tristan from the film a lot more than the one described in the book, but I liked the star in the book more than I did Claire Danes' depiction of her in the movie. The pirates in the movie took part in some of my favourite scenes, but I also loved them in the book - except they provided different roles, in which they were comedic in one and not the other.

I was a little surprised at how Victoria was depicted in the film. Although she was a little standoffish and arrogant in the book, it was nothing like the Victoria from the movie. I felt they vilified her in the film and although that worked well enough on screen, I liked the Victoria from the book much more and enjoyed reading about her happy ending and how she actually felt awful all those years Tristan was away. I also loved the brothers in the movie and the comedic angle they gave it, but I also loved their role in the book.

In general, I appreciated all these changes, and was happy to go into this expecting to know everything that will happen only to be taken by surprise. A very enjoyable read indeed. Think of this book as a fairy tale for adults written with such skill and showcasing beautiful prose and brilliant artwork.


Stardust
Stardust
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Fairy tale for adults, 18 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Stardust (Paperback)
It threw me completely off guard in that there were so many differences from the film adaptation. I can't really decide which I like more, except to say that I liked both film and book very much. I have the graphic novel version of the story, and that made it even more exciting to read. The magic jumps right out of the pages with the illustrations, and you get a better idea of the events taking place and the characters' development.

I must admit, I liked Tristan from the film a lot more than the one described in the book, but I liked the star in the book more than I did Claire Danes' depiction of her in the movie. The pirates in the movie took part in some of my favourite scenes, but I also loved them in the book - except they provided different roles, in which they were comedic in one and not the other.

I was a little surprised at how Victoria was depicted in the film. Although she was a little standoffish and arrogant in the book, it was nothing like the Victoria from the movie. I felt they vilified her in the film and although that worked well enough on screen, I liked the Victoria from the book much more and enjoyed reading about her happy ending and how she actually felt awful all those years Tristan was away. I also loved the brothers in the movie and the comedic angle they gave it, but I also loved their role in the book.

In general, I appreciated all these changes, and was happy to go into this expecting to know everything that will happen only to be taken by surprise. A very enjoyable read indeed. Think of this book as a fairy tale for adults written with such skill and showcasing beautiful prose and brilliant artwork.


Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking)
Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking)
by Patrick Ness
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a drag, 5 Oct. 2015
So I'll make this brief since I've already pretty much expressed how I felt about this series in my other reviews:

This was definitely the worst in the series (as is demonstrated by my rating). At this point, I could not care less what happened to Viola or Todd or the mayor or any of the other characters. What's worse? We now have a THIRD perspective to drag this story out even further. The perspective of Spackle 1017, who was just as annoying as Todd. His conversations with the sky or mother nature or whatever the hell it was drove me insane! I skimmed through all his chapters, and it STILL took me weeks to finish this book.

Maybe we were supposed to hate all the characters. I don't know. It was frustrating, however, when Todd and Viola could not make one good decision to save their lives. LITERALLY.

How many times was the mayor supposed to screw you over before you got rid of him? Seriously Todd. Talk about Stockholm Syndrome.

One reviewer had the best summary of this book:

"Let me save you some time. Here's a summary: Todd? Viola? Todd? Viola? Todd? Viola? ROAR TODD....VIOLA....TODD! ROAR VIOLA! TODD!!! VIOLA!!! Holy cow did that get annoying."

That was pretty much it. Near the end of the book, I didn't really care who lived or died.


The Ask and the Answer: 2/3 (Chaos Walking)
The Ask and the Answer: 2/3 (Chaos Walking)
by Patrick Ness
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2.0 out of 5 stars I'm sorry Patrick, you lost me with this one, 4 Oct. 2015
As you can probably tell, it all went downhill from the first book. The Knife of Never Letting Go was a great start, but The Ask and the Answer was simply...well, not great. As mentioned many times before, I appreciate Ness's writing skills and storytelling style, and I find his efforts in creating a Young Adult story that is morally complex and thought provoking very admirable.

All of that being said, I really didn't like this story. Todd was spiraling out of control, and Viola was becoming more and more annoying with each page. Her chapters grated on my nerves. I couldn't understand why the story had to drag this way. I felt like Ness really went off on a tangent at times, adding pages where none were needed. This book truly exhausted me, and when I finished it, I dreaded starting the third one.

Where The Knife of Never Letting Go was adventurous and thrilling and fast-paced, this one was tedious and monotonous. Todd basically becomes this lifeless robot, who only comes to life when Viola is mentioned, in which he usually throws out one threat after the other - mainly directed towards the Mayor of "New" Prentisstown or his son. He is a pawn in the Mayor's game to win him over and rule the planet, in which he is asked to perform some of the most disgusting acts of torture in what is remarkably similar to a concentration camp style imprisonment of the Spackles - and later, the women.

Then there's Viola, who becomes easily swayed here and there, although she remains stronger in mind than Todd. For two people, who are constantly shown to be very attached to each other that they are willing to do anything for one another, the lack of trust in this book gets quite wearisome.

Not to mention the fact that there is really no one you can possibly root for in this book, as all characters become unlikable. So much so, that Ness suddenly makes us sympathize with the Mayor's son! One of the most hated characters in the series! Yet I suddenly found myself feeling for him, and by the third book, I was ROOTING for the freakin' guy!

Yes, the book does raise some very important issues, and I can appreciate the fact that he's created this really complex world that showcases the evil of war and how no one is innocent to the horrors and trying to stay true to oneself, etc. But I simply could not bring myself to care about any of that when I wasn't enjoying where the story was going or connecting with any of the characters.

The third book wasn't any better I'm afraid...


Sorry Please Thank You (Vintage Contemporaries)
Sorry Please Thank You (Vintage Contemporaries)
by Charles Yu
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Great book with creatively diverse stories, 4 Oct. 2015
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and devoured it within hours of starting! I had actually picked this up whilst reading Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy, since I found myself in a slump and needed a break from the series, which seemed to be dragging. Boy, am I glad I did! This was exactly what I needed at the time. A series of short stories that are completely bizarre at times, but always entertaining. I can't even begin to choose a favourite, as they all have a little something special in them.

Each story is so different from the one preceding it, showcasing the superb writing skills of Charles Yu. This was the first book I ever read for him, and when I picked it up at the bookstore, I did so very randomly based only on its title. In fact, I remember refusing to read what it's about, because I wanted to be surprised. So I actually had no idea that it was a book of short stories at all when I first bought it.

He has such a creative mind that I can't help but be jealous. Every story I read I would think "I wish I had come up with that", so simple, yet so good. Some stories were ridiculous, but hilarious.

This book opens with "Standard Loneliness Package", which describes an Indian employee's experience working at a company that outsources emotions. Any bad experience you want to avoid, you can have a person sit in on it for a certain fee, so you can skip all the negative emotions that come with it. It could be anything, ranging from a trip to the dentist to a funeral and worst of all, heartbreak. A very profound story with a very profound message, this was a great opening tale.

Another story that stood out for me was "Note to Self", which was quite literally a note to different versions of oneself in different realities or universes. This was a highly entertaining story that had me laughing to myself.

Then there's "Hero Absorbs Major Damage" which tells the story of characters in a video game that are led by a hero into different battles that they try to win. At the beginning, it isn't clear that this is a video game, so you get to know these characters and think of them as real people fighting to survive. I particularly enjoyed the interaction between the hero and the game player at the end.

"Designer Emotion 67" was hilarious. That is all you need to know.

Finally, my favourite story was probably "Adult Contemporary". This is a story about a man that is literally buying a different lifestyle, one in which his life is being narrated. Very clever story.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys wit and humour all rolled into one, and who appreciates creativity and doesn't necessarily need the story to have a "point". Because a lot of these stories don't. They just simply are.


The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking)
The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking)
by Patrick Ness
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Patrick Ness is brilliant, 4 Oct. 2015
I seem to be in the minority here, as I found it really tiresome to get through this trilogy. I started reading these books with the promise that I would breeze through them as they are unputdownable and absolutely amazing. I was already in a bit of a reading slump, but this trilogy put me behind big time on my reading and deepened my slump.

You might have noticed though that I've given the book 4 stars and that is because despite the fact that the overall trilogy was tiresome, I actually enjoyed the first book in the series. And no matter how I feel about the books in general, there is no denying the brilliance and genius of Patrick Ness, who is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors, both YA and Adult. He is incredible, his writing is remarkable and his mind is a thing of wonder.

The Knife of Never Letting Go was a very exciting and thrilling read with everything happening very quickly taking us on an eventful ride. It starts out with Todd Hewitt, who is twelve years old and on the brink of manhood (which is when he turns thirteen as is the law in Prentisstown - where he's from), and lives in a town of only men. In fact, as far as he knows, there are no more women existing in his world and there is no world outside of his town. His world is full of "noise", which basically means that every man and animal's thoughts are heard by one and all. We first meet Todd when he stumbles upon an area in which the noise suddenly disappears and he hears something he's never heard before - silence.

Todd's parents are dead, and he lives with Cillian and Ben, brothers who raised him since he was a child. When Todd tells Ben of his discovery, he is suddenly thrown into a whirlwind of mystery, confusion and danger. Ben tells him he needs to leave immediately, never to return. He gives him his mother's journal, and a map, and asks him to get as far away from Prentisstown as possible, using the map as guidance. Todd, who cannot read or write, is unable to read his mother's diary which explains the history of Prentisstown and how the women had all disappeared. Unable to hide his thoughts and his noise, the people of Prentisstown and the mayor, all realize what Todd has discovered and hurry to silence him before he escapes.

Todd, along with his loyal dog Manchee, escape into the forest where they are stopped by an insane preacher, Aaron, who holds particular hatred towards Todd and beats him to a pulp. This is when Todd meets the first female in his life, Viola, and their journey towards self-discovery and a safer world begins. Viola has just lost her parents in a crash, and has no one left in the world, until she meets Todd, who is the strangest boy she's ever met. One whose thoughts she can hear as clearly as her own voice.

It was very entertaining watching the back and forth between Todd and Viola, and witnessing their friendship blossom. I loved how they both had each others' backs and their protectiveness towards one another was admirable.

There were many ideas presented in this book that were quite thought provoking, such as the idea of "lying". Todd doesn't even know what the word means, because of the fact that no one can keep any secrets where he's from due to the "noise". Yet when Viola demonstrates her uncanny ability to imitate anyone's accent and voice, he is taken back and feels like he almost cannot trust her. I found that idea fascinating, in the way that Ness presented it in the context of the book.

That being said, I don't know that this book can be considered Young Adult since it discusses many serious themes and is actually very violent and brutal. I went into this not knowing much about its contents, but was really surprised at the violence and deaths. I quickly learned not to get attached to any of the characters, similarly to how I feel about Game of Thrones.

The idea behind this story is outstanding and very impressive, the execution however was tedious. A very well written, fantastic book. Deserving of 4 stars as a stand alone. Not my favourite series as a whole, however.


What Milo Saw
What Milo Saw
by Virginia Macgregor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, 16 Sept. 2015
This review is from: What Milo Saw (Paperback)
I was pleased by this book. It was a good read, albeit predictable. I wouldn't call it a page-turner or unputdownable, but I did enjoy it well enough.

This book presents us with a boy, Milo, suffering from a rare eye condition in which he sees the world through tunnel vision that will ultimately lead to complete loss of his eyesight. He has lived with it long enough that he knows how to deal with it and seems pretty capable for a boy his age. He lives with his mother and gran, who has been a mute for many years, and he seems to be the one taking care of his gran for the most part and as such has grown very attached to her.

His gran, knowing it was time for her to live in a nursing home and relieve Milo of this huge responsibility, arranges a fire at their house that everyone assumes was accidental due to her forgetfulness. His mother having had enough of these incidents finally decides to move her to a nursing home, which Milo resents for the duration of the book.

Unfortunately, the nursing home they choose for her ends up being a cold, miserable place, where the elderly live in fear and are not treated well. Only no one seems to notice this except for astute Milo, who sees more than people give him credit for. This begins a series of events in which Milo tries to save his gran from this horrid place and hatches up a plan to do so since none of the adults seem to believe him when he tries to speak to them.

The book introduces a variety of other characters and storylines into the book such as a Syrian refugee who is hired as cook at the nursing home, a police officer, a nurse, and an elderly gentleman who befriends Milo's gran. These storylines all intertwine and we watch how Milo reacts and interacts to the different characters and their problems.

I found the story to be a little odd at times in terms of plot, and perhaps some storylines didn't really add up at the end and may have seemed a bit unnecessary in terms of where the story was heading. I was not a fan of the love story that developed between gran and the elderly man at the nursing home, and didn't think it added much value to the overall story. Yes, it did show us a different side to Milo (such as the fact that he seemed too possessive of his gran) and perhaps taught him a thing or two, but for some reason I did not feel that love story and could not connect with either character. I'm not sure what it was, whether it's the execution, or the storyline itself, but I would've been happier without it.

All in all, a good coming of age book that both young and old would enjoy, one that highlights several important issues of our present day.


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