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review 2020-07-15 13:00
Review: Nocturna
Nocturna - Maya Motayne

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Short review because I read this one some time ago and can’t remember much about it. I’d forgotten I requested this one, and it was book of the month in one of my book subscription boxes so I got a pretty signed hardback with sprayed edges and an exclusive cover.

 

It took a while to get into the plot, I liked the world building, I found the setting quite unique and interesting with its Spanishy feel to the language of the magic and descriptions of the country. I did get quite annoyed with the use of the world “maldito” which I personally felt was overused. Other than that, the use of language added nice dimension to the flavour of the novel.

 

It was quite some time into the novel before the two main characters even met. It was like two separate stories and where was this going to go? The plot was interesting enough, two very different people from very different lives find themselves thrown together and having to work together to solve a problem with an outcome that would be mutually beneficial.  But it did include as part of the plot a break someone out of impossible to break into or out of prison. Which is something I’ve seen recurring in a few fantasy books. That type of plot is getting a tad bit eye rolling. It did add some nice action to the novel and seemed to also add some dimensions to the characters.

 

One thing I really did like was there was little to no focus on romance until just hinted at right at the end. The relationships focused on were more friendship style. The two main characters just seemed to annoy the hell out of each other. Though as the novel progresses they seem to empathize and start to trust each other more building to a solid foundation of a decent friendship. There may be something more to that in the follow up.

 

Not one of the best fantasies I have read but definitely an interesting one with a different take on magic building. I am looking forward to more from this series.

 

Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for approving my request to view the title.  

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review 2020-04-27 12:15
Review: The Beautiful
The Beautiful - Renee Ahdieh

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I really, really, really wanted to love this. I was so excited to see vampires starting to make a comeback in YA fiction. I was thrilled when my review request was approved, then it was hinted at it would be in one of my YA subscription boxes – so I got a pretty signed hardback with sprayed edges. I did wait until the hype had died down a bit before delving in.

 

There were parts of it I really enjoyed, parts of it that were eye-rollingly stupid and parts that were just boring. The end was wholly unsatisfying (though thankfully I have pre ordered the sequel and had my review requested granted). Though there was enough of a what the??? To want to know more.

 

The 1800s New Orleans setting is vividly described. The main character, Celine is running from a terrible incident in her past in Paris and sets sail for the US with a convent, whose aim seems to be helping young women find suitable husbands. There were times I loved Celine’s character – she was strong willed, sassy and smart. Despite her worries about her past catching up with her she seemed very confident and together. She also came across as highly opinionated.

 

One thing I did like was the female friendships – Celine bonds with one of the other convent girls, Pippa, who becomes a real friend. As a former dressmaker – Celine’s stitching work for the convent catches the eyes of the beautiful and mysterious Odette who hires her to make a gown for a masquerade. Odette appears flippant and over the top, but she embraces Celine and seems keen for Celine to join her rather than head back to the convent.

 

Odette is part of a group of dangerously beautiful and alluring people, none of which seem quite normal. There’s something distinctly different about them, curious and bordering on frightening. Naturally Celine is intrigued by them. I found the male love interest, Sebastian, to be rather bland and uninteresting. A very typical stereotype – rich, well spoken, devious, and charming with a sense of darkness and foreboding. Nothing I haven’t seen in vampire novels before. He and Celine rub each other the wrong way yet unsurprisingly are annoyingly attracted to each other.

 

Doesn’t help when the bodies start turning up with strange symbols, and the police officer heading the investigation clearly has some sort of history with Sebastian and Odette and their group. Doesn’t help either that Celine seems to keep getting in his way. And she’s got things to say as well. Some of the mystery aspect was quite interesting and the plot did get more and more interesting as the novel progressed.

 

One thing that drove me up the wall though was the chapters from the killer’s point of view. To me they sounded just ridiculous. I think they were trying to sound like a sophisticated creature who has been around for centuries plotting his revenge against some perceived wrongness. It sounded woe is me over the top and stupid. Though to be fair, I didn’t actually guess who the culprit was.

 

This was a mixed bag of a novel, with good things and bad things. However, enough of a grip in the story telling that I need more from this world.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for approving my request to view the title.

 

 

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review 2020-04-21 12:51
Review: A Curse so Dark and Lonely
A Curse So Dark and Lonely - Brigid Kemmerer

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I’m a black sheep with this one. All the bloggers I follow and Goodreads reviewers seem to absolutely love this book. I’ve read the author before and I have loved everything I’ve read by her, but I didn’t love this one. I did get a Netgalley kindle copy I tried reading before the book came out, but the formatting was terrible so I decided to wait until I got a physical copy.

 

It was book of the month in one of my Fairyloot subscription boxes so I got a nice shiny hardback. I sort of waited until the hype died down a bit, but then the sequel came out – which I did get (another Fairyloot exclusive) just in case I loved the first and had to have the second one.

 

And turned out I was just sort of meh about the whole thing really. It was an interesting parallel for the Beauty and the Beast retelling, but frankly, the beast character Prince Rhen irritated the hell out of me. I found him completely unsympathetic, annoying, selfish and whiny. I did however, really like the female character Harper. She was what made the book come alive for me. She was strong, sassy, level headed, and smart. Not blown over by the opulence of the fantasy world she suddenly finds herself thrust into.  The other character I really liked was Rhen’s loyal guard, Grey who was much more likeable – a bit of a stick in the mud at times, but with a sense of honour and loyalty. I was routing for him and Harper to hook up – they had a love/hate relationship turned into friendship and mutual respect.

 

However, given it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling, it’s obvious where the romance was going to happen. I found the plot predictable, and tedious at times, for long stretches nothing seemed to happen other than Rhen whining about his curse and Harper trying to figure out how to escape and get back to her home, the normal human world. They would dance around just forming a connection and something would happen sending them back to square one of distrust and frustration. I found it repetitive and annoying.

 

Two thirds of the novel was prepping for one huge battle when the beast finally appeared. And when it did it was almost like everything happened in a rush. Which of course ended on a cliff hanger. There were a few twists hinted at throughout (and again, completely predictable) If I hadn’t already bought the second book before I read this one I wouldn’t have bothered, but as I have and quite liked Grey’s character, I’m curious to see where his story goes.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing PLC for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2020-01-30 04:34
Threatened by Eliot Schrefer
Threatened (Hardback) - Common - by Eliot Schrefer

"The same selfishness that makes so many of us hurt the ones we love makes our species hurt creatures that it admires. To hunt and destroy chimpanzees, like they would never do to us. Our treatment of animals is a great failure of our empathy"


A fascinating tale about a young orphan boy living in Gabon who is indebted to a cruel man who treats him like a slave. In a twist of luck he meets a man who changes his life and introduces him to the chimpanzees who become his family.

This was slow in the beginning but soon picked up and I loved reading about survival in the Gabon jungle and about chimp behaviour. I've been lucky enough to see up close and in the wild both Gorillas (in the Rwanda) and Chimps (in Uganda). Beautiful and eye opening experiences I will never forget. It is absolutely essential that these incredible primates be protected and allowed to live freely in their natural habitat. This book is so important, appealing to younger readers and teaching about the devastation of deforestation and poaching and learning about these endangered animals. It ended too soon I want to know more!

 

A-Z Challenge: Apes

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/3066550102
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review 2020-01-14 11:08
THE GALAXY BRITAIN BUILT

 

 

 

 

 

THE GALAXY BRITAIN BUILT: The British Talent Behind Star Wars

David Whiteley

Foreword By Robert Watts: Star Wars Production Supervisor And Producer

Publisher: BearManor Media
Release date: December 11, 2019
ASIN: B081YKQ2P7

https://www.amazon.com/Galaxy-Britain-Built-British-hardback/dp/1629334995

 

 

David Whiteley's exploration into the behind-the-scenes British talent involved with the Star Wars franchise was first made public in a 1917 60-minute documentary broadcast over BBC television. Google the title The Galaxy Britain Built, and you'll hit on the YouTube and BBC trailers, videos, and interviews conducted by David Whiteley promoting the film throughout 2017 and especially 2018.

 

If you explore any of Whiteley's online videos or his new BearManor Media book, you'll quickly learn how proud he is to have been born on May 4, 1977, known to fans as Star Wars day. So, in his opinion, he grew up with the franchise and became devoted to investigating how so much Star Wars work took place in Elstree Studios in North London. Why London and not Hollywood? Costs. The studios didn't want to invest too heavily in a science-fiction film as sci-fi hadn't been big box office for them.

 

As it turned out, the British talent who worked on the films on the smallest of budgets and the tightest of schedules were just what the project needed, especially in terms of costumes, props, and sets. The results were so outstanding that lucas returned to Elstreet again and again, using as much of the original talent as he could retain.

 

 

Whiteley's book chronicles to beginnings of the British work in the hot summer of 1976 through undreamed of sequels produced decades later. The stories are built on interviews with participants even the most devoted Star Wars aficionados might not have heard of: These include Robert Watts, Les Dilley, Nick Maley, Roger Christian, Peter Beale, Gareth Edwards, Colin Goudie and Louise Mollo.

 

All of those involved contribute so many anecdotes about how the Star Wars mythos came to be. For example, Roger Christian tells us, "We called it the laser sword because we were British! I knew the lightsaber was the Excalibur of this film! I

knew it would be the iconic image . . . I went to Brunnings on Great Marlborough Street in London, whom we rented all our film equipment from: photography, anything we needed, and I’d buy equipment there. I just said to the owner, ‘Do you have anything here

that’s unusual, or stuff that might be interesting?’ He pointed me over to the side of the room. He said, ‘There’s a load of boxes under there, I haven’t

looked at those for years, go and have a rummage through.’ And it was the first box, it literally was covered in dust. It hadn’t been out for, I don’t

know, fifteen or twenty years. I pulled it out, opened the lid and there was tissue paper and then when I pulled it open . . . out came a Graflex handle from a 1940s press camera. I just took it and I went ‘There it is! This is the Holy Grail.’"

 

The Galaxy Britain Built is page-after-page of such nuggets and revelations. I imagine many diehard Star Wars fans will have heard many of these stories before. But I doubt all of them

 

Without question, you got to be a serious Star Wars fan to one degree or another to want to dive into this book, no matter how much you think you already know about the production history of the saga. It's a fast read as we get one short chunk of one interview, then another, then another, and so on. I definitely had a feeling I was taken behind the sets and scripts and actors to see how a galaxy far away had been built with a deepened sense of just how collaborative moviemaking is. If that sort of stuff is your cuppa tea, then David Whiteley's book is just for you.

 

This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Sun. Jan. 12, 2020:

 

 

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