Book Review: The Book With No Name by Anonymous

The Book With No Name is the first book in the Bourbon Kid series by Anonymous.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A thoroughly fun and entertaining read, with a plot that twists and turns and keeps you guessing right to the very end.  Great stuff!  4 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

Detective Miles Jensen is called to the lawless town of Santa Mondega to investigate a spate of murders. This would all be quite ordinary in those rough streets, except that Jensen is the Chief Detective of Supernatural Investigations. The breakneck plot centers around a mysterious blue stone — The Eye of the Moon—and the men and women who all want to get their hands on it: a mass murderer with a drinking problem, a hit man who thinks he’s Elvis, and a pair of monks among them. Add in the local crime baron, an amnesiac woman who’s just emerged from a five-year coma, a gypsy fortune teller, and a hapless hotel porter, and the plot thickens fast. Most importantly, how do all these people come to be linked to the strange book with no name? This is the anonymous, ancient book that no one seems to have survived reading. Everyone who has ever read it has been murdered. What can this mean?

Favourite Quote

‘Cross my palm with a twenty-dollar bill and I shall reveal your destiny.’

What happened to silver? Dante thought…

Review

When I reached the last paragraph of this book, hope swelled within me.  The book ended with question, leaving the reader to wonder if this was indeed the end of the story. You know the type…This is the end…or is it?  I desperately hoped not.  When I learned there were in fact more instalments to read, I was so very, very happy.  As I’m sure you can tell. 🙂

As soon as I saw this book I was intrigued.  Curiosity piqued, I wondered at the title or lack there of, and then I wondered some more at the author deciding to publish under the name “Anonymous”.  It didn’t taken long for me to realise I needed to read this.

This is highly imaginative storytelling, with a plethora of characters to keep you entertained (see the summary above for a brief cast list). The pace is fast, as one plot twist occurs after another.  There is plenty of action, and plenty of gore also – something I’m not usually a fan of, but here it seemed to work.

The story is told from several points of view, allowing us glimpses of all that is going on in Santa Mondega.  You won’t like many of the characters – I’m not sure you’re supposed to – but you may find yourself laughing at some of the things that happen in the story.

There are elements from a number of different genres, including horror, the paranormal / supernatural, fantasy, westerns, crime and mystery but somehow the auther has managed to weave them all together into a cohesive whole. I guessed some of the plot twists but there were still plenty I did not see coming.

A thoroughly fun and entertaining read.  I am excited to read book two in the series, The Eye of the Moon.

Rating

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Book Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season is the first book in the series of the same name by Samantha Shannon.

Summary (from Goodreads)

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

Favourite Quote

Nothing’s worse than a story without an end.

Review

Hmm.  I really really wanted to like this book. The truth is I didn’t like the first half but enjoyed the second, and that makes it quite hard to review.  When reading the first half, I struggled to pick the book up, but, for the second half of the book I struggled to put it down.

What didn’t I like about the first half?  There was too much information about the world the story was set it, and that made it clunky to read and slow going.  At times I felt like I was wading through detail, description and definitions to get to the story.

What did I like about the second half?  I’m not sure that the second half of book was any easier to read or any lighter on detail, but the storyline did pick up and that helped both the flow of the plot and its pace.  The characters really came into their own (I especially liked Nick, Liss and Julian), there was a lot of action, and the ending was good and worth the effort of working through the slower passages.

If the world-building information had been lighter and perhaps more subtly incorporated into the story, I think this book would have been fantastic.  I understand that as the first book set in this world enough information has to be offered to the reader so they can understand what is going on but it felt unnecessarily complicated.

There is, however, no arguing with the fact that the author possesses a great imagination.  The parts I enjoyed, I really enjoyed.

Will I read the second book in the series, The Mime Order?  Yes, I think I would.

There is a lot to get to grips with in The Bone Season; the cast of characters is vast and there is a lot of terminology that is used throughout (there is a glossary to accompany the story).  If you like to become completely immersed in a fantasy / future world, then you will enjoy the level of detail in this book.

Rating

As for the rating, I would have given the first half no more than 2 /5, and the second half 4/5, so 3/5 seems like a pretty fair score.

 

Book Review: Poison Study by Maria V Snyder

Poison Study is the first book in the Poison Study trilogy by Maria V Snyder.

Summary (from Goodreads)

CHOOSE: A QUICK DEATH OR SLOW POISON…

On the eve of her execution for murder, Yelena is reprieved, but her relief is short-lived. She is to be the Commander of Ixia’s food taster. Can Yelena learn all she needs to know about poisons before an assassin succeeds?

Her troubles have only just begun, however… Valek, her captor, has a uniquely cruel method to stop her escaping; General Brazell, father of the man she killed, still wants her dead; and someone is plotting against the Commander.

Resourceful and wily, Yelena gains friends, survival skills – and more than a few enemies. In a desperate race against time, the Commander’s life, the future of Ixia and the secrets of her own past will be in her hands…

Favourite Quote

“Trusting is hard. Knowing who to trust, even harder.”

Review

When I first picked up this book, I found it extremely difficult to get into so put it back down pretty quickly.  And there it stayed for months.  And yet, the second time I tried to read it, I found it engaging and addictive.  I guess I wasn’t in the right mood to read it that first time, which was a shame because there is so much to like about it.

The storyline was engaging and the world building detailed.  Ixia is an interesting and sometimes scary place.

I liked Yelena; it’s hard not to empathise with her after all she’s been through and what she must face every day as the Commander’s food taster.  And yet she grows and becomes stronger.  I also like Varek.  There is so much more to his character than you realise when we first meet him as the cold, calculated man offering Yelena the choice of being executed for murder or becoming a student and taster of poisons.  The other supporting characters were also good: Rand, Ari, Janco, Dilana, especially.

This is one of the better YA books that I have come across and I can’t wait to read the second book in the trilogy, Magic Study.

Rating

 

Book Review: The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel

The Clan of the Cave Bear is the first book in the Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel.

Summary (from back of book)

The first novel in Jean M. Auel’s magnificent epic of life on the glacial continent of the last Ice Age, when two kinds of human beings, Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon, shared the earth.

Its heroine is Ayla, a courageous and indomitable young woman whose story beings when she is a five-year-old orphan adopted by the Clan, a group of Neanderthal.

Ayla inspires first surprise, then wariness and finally acceptance by the Clan.  She is cared for by its medicine woman Iza and its wise holy man Creb.  But she makes an implacable enemy of the group’s future leader. Broud does all he can to destroy her, but Ayla is a survivor.

Favourite Quote

“Accept her into the clan!  She’s not Clan, she was born to the Others.  Who said anything about accepting her into the clan?  It wouldn’t be allowed, Ursus won’t like it.  It’s never been done before!” Brun objected.  “I wasn’t thinking of making her one of us, I only wondered if the spirits would allow her to live with us until she gets older.”

“Iza saved her life, Brun, she carries part of the girl’s spirit now, that makes her part Clan.  She came close to walking in the next world, but she’s alive now.  That’s almost the same as being born again, born to the Clan.”

Review

I absolutely adore this series, and The Clan of the Cave Bear as the first book in it is simply magnificent.  I have read this book (and the subsequent instalments) so many times, and as soon as I open the covers I am transported back in time to the last ice age.  I find this period in time fascinating, and the amount of research that was carried out in order to make it as accurate as one can so many millennia later, is clear as soon as you begin reading.  From descriptions of the landscape and the processes involved in their evolution, to plants and their medicinal properties, this book is rich in, and overflowing with, information and detail.

The characters were engaging, and Ayla’s adopted family – Iza, the clan’s medicine woman, and her brother, Creb, the mog-ur or spiritual leader of the group – were wonderful, and are my favourite characters after Ayla herself. Brun, as the strong but fair leader who often finds himself torn between tradition (which to the Clan means security) and something new (which they fear), deals compassionately with the problems Ayla’s presence gives rise to.

This story is packed full of emotional drama that left me in tears on more than one occasion.  The storyline was captivating, and though you can work out how the book is going to end, it still comes as a bit of shock and is highly emotional.  Ayla is a strong young woman with a desire to learn anything and everything, so that she is always growing and developing, and it is this, rather than the fact that she looks different that sets her apart from those around her.

The Clan of the Cave Bear is imaginative and unique, and the storytelling abilities of the author are amazing.  We get to hear the story from the viewpoint of all the characters without it getting confusing, but we are also not in any doubt that the story is that of Ayla, a young orphaned girl taken in, raised and loved by a group of Neanderthals.

This book is one of my all-time favourite reads.  I would recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction and are interested in the Palaeolithic. However, if you struggle reading great swathes of detailed description, this might not be the book for you.  Also, it is worth remembering that although Auel extensively researched the book, it is ultimately a work of fiction not a science text book.

Rating

 

Book Review: Listen by Sarah Doughty

Listen is the third book in the Earthen Witch series by Sarah Doughty.

Summary (from Goodreads)

When vampires Liam and Jon go missing, it’s up to Aisling Green and her friends to find them, but doing so and surviving what awaits won’t be easy.

Battling against things she cannot fight isn’t something Earthen witch Aisling Green is used to, but she must act quickly and outsmart the one that wants her dead and save the lives of her friends before it’s too late.

As they follow the trail, they rescue a most unlikely person, and uncover a deeper, more sinister plot. With the lives of the two vampires on the line, they must fight for their lives, try to rescue their friends, and stop the evil plans. In the face of so much danger and uncertainty, they are forced to go to war and make a discovery that will change everything. The question then becomes at what price will they be forced to pay to survive?

Favourite Quote

And then I felt his lips pull back into a smile.  “In order to kill the Earthen you must wear a pink tutu and sing I’m A Little Teacup,” the vampire responded in that same old Romanian accent.

Review

Having enjoyed the first two Earthen Witch novels, Just Breathe and Focus (you can find my reviews for them here, and here), I knew I had to read the third instalment in the series to see how Aisling and Connor and their friends were fairing.

I love this world Sarah Doughty has created.  The unique mythology is detailed and fantastic and just adds richness to this supernatural fantasy series. Witches, vampires, werewolves, shamans and sphinxes, this book series has them all and more besides.  Both the major and minor characters are engaging, each with own background story to tell, adding further depth to an already captivating cast.

Aisling is a great main character.  She is so very strong even though past experiences have left their mark.  With the love and support of Connor, she overcomes, and that is a great message.  It makes her believable…realistic…human, and reminds the reader that anything is possible.

The story is well-paced and there is action throughout, leading to an entertaining, engaging read.  And as for the ending, all I’m going to say is that it sets the story up nicely for the next book.

If you like the paranormal romance genre, you will love this series, but I recommend you start at the beginning with Just Breathe so you can fully immerse yourself in the scope and magic of the Earthen Witch world.

Rating

I downloaded a copy of Listen by Sarah Doughty for Free via Smashwords

Book Review: Torment by Lauren Kate

Torment is the second book in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate.

Summary (blurb taken from back cover)

Love never dies…

It took Lucinda an eternity to find her beloved angel, Daniel.  But he waited for her.  Now they are forced apart again, to protect Luce from the Outcasts – immortals who want her dead.  During their separation, Luce learns about her mysterious past lives.  But the more she discovers, the more she suspects that Daniel is hiding something.

What if Daniel’s version of the past isn’t true?  Is it really their destiny to be together?  Or is Luce actually meant to be with somebody else?

Favourite Quote

Sometimes beautiful things come into our lives out of nowhere.  We can’t always understand them, but we have to trust in them.  I know you want to question everything, but sometimes it pays to just have a little faith.

Review

After struggling to enjoy reading the first book in the series, I don’t know if I would have read the second, Torment, only I had already bought it when I purchased Fallen.  The covers pulled me in and persuaded me to buy them.  And I’m sort-of glad they did, because I enjoyed Torment more than the previous instalment and I wouldn’t have known that.

I’m still not a big fan of Luce – I think her attitude is all wrong and she just comes across as a really selfish person on occasion.  Again, it is her friend who I am more interested in as a character.  In the last book it was Penn.  This time round it is Luce’s hippy roommate Shelby.

Parts of the book were still slow-going in places, and still there is stuff going on which is alluded to but never explained.  It doesn’t make it mysterious, only confusing.  However, it was certainly more enjoyable than Fallen to read, and the end really set up the third book in the series nicely.  So much so, that I’m intrigued to find out what happens next, something which I couldn’t envision myself thinking at the end of book one.

Rating

3.5 / 5

Book Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

This is the first book in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate.

Summary  (blurb taken from the back of the book)

Some angels are destined to fall.

Instant. Intense.  Weirdly familiar…The moment Luce looks at Daniel she knows she has never felt like this before.  Except she can’t shake the feeling that she has…and with him…a boy she doesn’t remember ever setting eyes on.

Will her attempt to find out why enlighten her – or destroy her?

Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a thrilling story about forbidden love.

Favourite Quote

Trust is a careless pursuit at best.  At worst, it’s a good way to get yourself killed.

Review

This was another book that hooked me via a really cool front cover.  Gothic, dark, mysterious artwork coupled with an engaging blurb (see summary above) had me buying not only the first book in the Fallen series, but book number two too!

And it was an all right story.  I didn’t really like Luce though.  My favourite character of the book was Luce’s friend Penn – full name Pennyweather Van Syckle-Lockwood.  She was the saving grace of this book.  The other characters lacked enough depth for me to really be interested in why they were there.

I expected more from this story.  It tried to be too mysterious, I think, and in so doing, basic explanations of what was going on were sacrificed.  However, I did read to the end of the book, I loved the front cover and Penn was an interesting character, hence the 2.5 / 5 score.

Had I not already bought the second book in the series, I am doubtful as to whether I would have read it.  But I did, and I have, and I will be sharing the review shortly.

Rating

2.5 / 5