Book Review: Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

angelology-front-cover

Angelology is the first book in the Angelology series by Danielle Trussoni.

Summary:

Evangeline has spent the majority of her life behind the walls of a convent, living a life of contemplation and prayer.  Her mother died in Paris when she was small, and only a few years later, she was given into the care of the sisters at St Rose Convent in New York by her father.  When she is old enough, she decides to become a nun at the same convent.  But, a chance meeting with a visiting historian has lasting consequences and turns her life completely upside down.

Secrets abound, and Evangeline and her family are caught up in them.  And as the truth unravels, Evangeline finally uncovers who her parents were and what they did…

Favourite Quote:

It’s funny how the past is so often judged sacred while the modern world is held in suspicion.

Review:

So, this is going to be a mixed review.  Let’s look at what I didn’t like to begin with.

First off, I feel like I should have liked this book more than I did.  I love paranormal fiction especially if it is blended with a nice dose of mystery and history too.  However, I think I’ve realised that I do not like my paranormal fiction to have a literary bend; to me, it makes the story too…heavy.  And I’m guessing it is that which is responsible for my feelings towards this book.  It was a heavy read, and that made it a slow read.

The other big problem I had with this story was the ending.  So, I had made it through the heavy, slow-paced 640+ pages, the driving force behind which was to finish the book and reach a satisfactory conclusion, only to be given the foundation of the next book in the series instead.  I had no idea this book was part of a series, so you can imagine that this was a major stumbling block to my enjoyment of it (which I freely recognise is more my own fault than that of the author’s).

And so to the good points of the book.  The characters.  They were great.  It was easy to like the good characters (Evangeline and Verlaine) and dislike the bad ones (Percival Grigori).  Also, if you like rich, fluid detail in your prose, you will love this book.  It is packed full of vivid descriptions, of settings, of people, of their thoughts and feelings.  The story was fresh and on the whole, engaging, which kept me reading until the end.  The mythology and lore that is wrapped up in the narrative is interesting and helped to create a fascinating premise, I only wished I enjoyed reading it more.

The next book in the series is Angelopolis.

Rating:

two-stars

Book Review: Under the Dragon’s Tail by Maureen Jennings

under-the-dragons-tail-front-coverUnder the Dragon’s Tail is the second of The Murdoch Mysteries by Maureen Jennings.

Summary:

Toronto, July 1895.  When a midwife and abortionist is murdered, Detective William Murdoch investigates.  Although the dead woman, Dolly Merishaw, seems to have kept quiet about the clients that had used her services, it transpires that she kept a record book as protection, should she need it, or, for a spot of blackmail.  Fallen on hard times, it seemed that she tried to get some money out of one of these old clients.  But which one?  And did they resort to murder?

Dolly wasn’t very much liked and there are no shortage of suspects.  But when one of the young boys in Dolly’s care turns up dead on the kitchen floor, Murdoch must work quickly to uncover the murderer, before any other children are hurt.

Favourite Quote:

“…The wicked shall get their due.”

That didn’t sound quite right to Murdoch but maybe it was a Methodist saying.

Review:

As I mentioned when I reviewed the first book in The Murdoch Mysteries series, Except the Dying, I am a big fan of the television series.  The first book was brilliant, and the second didn’t disappoint either.  I like the fact that the books and the TV series are so different, and I love them both.  The books are far more grittier than the cosy mystery series we see on the TV, and there is a place for each.

The author easily captures the time period and brings it to life with ease.  As I’ve already mentioned, there is a grittiness to the story, but then life was gritty, hard and dark for most people at the end of the nineteenth century, and that clearly comes through.

The pace is good and there were enough twists and turns in the story to keep me guessing.  Murdoch is a fabulous main character and is very likeable and realistic.  I was pleased to see Dr Julia Ogden make a small appearance in this instalment, and I’m hoping that there will be more later in the series.

I can’t recommend this book and series highly enough, and am looking forward to reading the third Murdoch Mystery, Poor Tom is Cold, soon.

Rating:

five-stars

Book Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

shiver-front-coverShiver is the first book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater.

Summary:

When Grace was small, she was dragged off the swing in her back garden by wolves and pulled into the woods behind her house.  Somehow she survived the attack.  Deep down she knows it has something to do with the wolf with yellow eyes – her wolf.

As the years pass, she marks the changing seasons by the presence or lack there of, of the wolves in Boundary Woods.  When they’re not there, she misses them terribly.  When they are, she knows the yellow-eyed wolf is close by, watching.  And there is something almost human about him…

Sam is a young man caught between worlds.  In winter he is destined to live his life with the pack in the woods, the only true family he has ever loved.  In summer, when the temperature allows, he shifts back to being human.

Then, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy, and she just knows he is her wolf.  But things are never that simple.  Sam’s time is running out.  When it does, he will lose Grace, forever.

Favourite Quote:

She made a soft noise that, roughly translated, meant piss off in sleep language.

Review:

First, I loved this book, even though it made me cry.  Yes, I can be terribly soft and sentimental…

As a YA book, it was a quick and easy read, and it didn’t take long for me to get swept up with the story.  One thing in particular stood out to me as I read it: it is full of gorgeous descriptions of the setting, convincingly transporting me to Mercy Falls.

Shiver reminded me a little of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books.  Star-crossed lovers, impossible odds of being together, paranormal boyfriend – human girlfriend…and yet I felt they were so different, probably due to the style of the author’s writing.

I enjoyed the mythology surrounding the wolves.  Having the temperature play such an important role in the story really added drama and tension to it.  I also liked how we got to see what was happening from both Grace’s and Sam’s point of view.

I liked Grace; she is a strong young woman, and will do what it takes to fight for who she loves.  And Sam, caught between the life he knows and a life with the woman he loves…it’s not hard to feel for him.

I am looking forward to reading the second book in the trilogy, Linger, to see where the story leads next…

Rating:

four-stars

Short Story Review: The Red-Headed League by Arthur Conan Doyle

Summary:

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson receive a visitor, Jabez Wilson, a man with a shock of red hair.  He explains that his assistant encouraged him to respond to advert in the paper offering very well-paid work to red-headed male applicants.  He wasn’t sure, thinking it was too good to be true, but acquiesced.  The following morning, he followed the directions from the advert and joined a long line of red-heads applying for the job.  However, it is only a very specific shade of red hair they are looking for, and Wilson is the only one offered the position.

When Wilson learns of the very simple work he must undertake in order to earn his high wage, he is eager to begin.  But after only four weeks the office mysteriously closes, and no-one has heard of the Red-Headed League, nor the man Wilson was interviewed / managed by.  So, he gets Sherlock Holmes on the case…

Favourite quote:

“It is quite a three pipe problem, and I beg that you won’t speak to me for fifty minutes.”

Review:

The second short story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle that I have been reading on Wattpad, is The Red-Headed League.  This is a very clever short story, but I enjoyed it less than A Scandal in Bohemia.

The misdirection is clever, the plot extremely well thought out and it is always great to see how Sherlock Holmes thinks and interprets the clues he has been given.  The idea of The Red-Headed League makes this an unusual story and for that reason, memorable, for it is so strange.  I think that it is that strangeness though, which is the reason why I liked this less than A Scandal in Bohemia.

Next up in the series is A Case of Identity, the review for which I hope to post within the next couple of weeks…

Rating:

three-stars

Book Review: Switched by Amanda Hocking

switched-front-coverSwitched is the first book in the Trylle trilogy by Amanda Hocking.

Summary:

Wendy Everly knew she wasn’t like everyone else when her mother tried to kill her when she was six years old, convinced that she was a monster.  A decade later, Wendy is living with her brother and her aunt.  They move around a lot because Wendy, who can’t settle, keeps getting thrown out of school.  But she has a secret…a secret power that means she can influence peoples thoughts and decisions to her own advantage.

When Finn, the new boy at school, starts staring at her intensely whenever they are in the same space, Wendy begins to worry.  Does he know her secret?  Or does he know more about her secret than she does?  One thing’s for sure…Wendy’s life will never be the same again…

Favourite Quote:

I look at you because I can’t look away.

Review:

I have only read one other Amanda Hocking novel before this one, Hollowland, which I thoroughly enjoyed, so when I came across Switched at the bookshop I knew I had to read it.  I wasn’t disappointed.  It took me a few pages to connect with the character of Wendy, but after reading further, if felt like that was intentional and the reason behind it unfolds as the story does.

Switched was a very easy book to read, thanks to the author’s writing style.  Also, the mythology around the Trylle is very different from what we know of trolls from myths and legends and that made the story fresh and exciting.  The other characters are likeable, and the story moves along at a good pace.  There is action, romance, loss, secrets and revelations all nicely woven into the plot.  The bonus short story at the back of the book was a great read too!

I have added Torn, the second book in the trilogy, to my “To Be Bought” list.

Rating:

four-stars

 

Short Story Review: A Scandal in Bohemia by Arthur Conan Doyle

Summary:

While Dr Watson is visiting his friend, Sherlock Holmes, the latter receives a visitor, one who gives a false name.  True to form, Holmes quickly determines his true identity: the heir to the Kingdom of Bohemia, who is soon to be married to a princess from a strict family.  Only a past lover is in possession of a some letters and a photograph of them together, which could be used for blackmail and ultimately ruin his chances of marrying the princess.

The woman in question is Irene Adler…

Favourite quote:

To Sherlock Holmes, she is always the woman.  I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name.  In his eyes, she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex.

Review:

I have been working my way through The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle on Wattpad, the first instalment of which is A Scandal in Bohemia.  It’s been too long since I have read a Sherlock Holmes story, and this, the first of 56 short stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle staring the “consulting detective”, was a great way to reconnect with them.

Of course, I loved it.  What I did find interesting was that Arthur Conan Doyle decided to begin the run of short stories by depicting that it is possible to outsmart Sherlock Holmes.  And Irene Adler is such an iconic character, possibly rivalling Sherlock in popularity.  All-in-all, a short, entertaining read and an enjoyable way to pass an evening.

Next up in the series is The Red-Headed League, the review for which I will probably post next week…

Rating:

four-stars

Book Review: The Ambassadors’ Mission by Trudi Canavan

the-ambassadors-mission-front-coverThe Ambassadors’ Mission is the first book in The Traitor Spy trilogy by Trudi Canavan.

The Traitor Spy Trilogy is the sequel to The Black Magician Trilogy (my reviews for which you can find here: The Magicians’ Guild, The Novice, The High Lord)

Set twenty years after The High Lord and the Ichani invasion, Sonea is now one of two Black Magicians in the Magicians’ Guild.  The Guild is still fearful of black magicians, so by having two, they can each ensure that the other is not getting up to anything they shouldn’t.  And that’s not the only change – Kyralia and the Guild have come quite far since our last visit.

Sonea and Akkarin’s son, Lorkin, has now completed his own studies at the Guild, but struggles a little, living in the shadow of such famous parents, and is feeling restless.  When he hears that Lord Dannyl, his mother’s friend and the former ambassador to Elyne, wants to go to Sachaka and become the new Guild Ambassador to the strange land to the north, Lorkin is determined to become his assistant.  But being Akkarin’s son has consequences, as he comes to discover.

Whilst this is going on, Sonea has problems of her own to deal with back in Imardin.  A “thief hunter” is on the loose in the city, killing off Thieves.  When an old friend is targeted, she is drawn into the hunt for the one responsible, especially because there is a suspicion that they might be a rogue magician…something she knows more than a little about…

As some of you may know if you’ve been around this blog long enough, Trudi Canavan is one of my favourite fantasy authors, which came about upon reading The Black Magician Trilogy. (Which, in my opinion, is one of the best trilogies ever written.)  And, the first book in the sequel trilogy certainly lives up to them.

It was great to catch up with some of the old characters: Sonea, Rothen, Cery and Dannyl, as well as get to know to some new ones: Lorkin, Tyvara and Anyi.  The way the plot has advanced over the twenty years between the series is consistent and believable, and the story flows with ease between the different story threads and points-of-view.

Sachaka is an interesting if harsh country, with customs quite different to those found in Kyralia.  There are no servants employed there, only slaves, something that makes Kyralians understandably uncomfortable.  And magic is quite different there too.

All-in-all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Ambassadors’ Mission, and look forward to reading book 2 in The Traitor Spy TrilogyThe Rogue.  I would gladly recommend this book to those who enjoy fantasy fiction, but would suggest that they might want to read The Black Magician Trilogy before embarking on this one.