A Twist in Time Review

A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain

(Picture from Goodreads since I read it as an ebook)

The Kendra Donovan Mysteries are, in my humble opinion, a hugely underrated series. They follow the adventures of ex-FBI agent Kendra Donovan after she is somehow transported back to 1815. A Twist in Time is the second book in the series, the first being a Murder in Time. This review will include minor spoilers for the first book, so if you intend to read it and don’t want spoilers, please don’t read on!

In A Twist in Time Kendra is unfortunately (for her, not the reader) still in the past despite her best efforts to get back to the twenty first century. She is called to London along with the Duke she is staying with after his nephew is suspected of the murder of Lady Dover. This book is full of more people being shocked by Kendra’s ‘American’ (future) manners, murder and crime, Alec and Kendra irritating each other and high society in 1815. Amazing.

I really enjoy the plot and writing style and characters of these books. It’s the perfect trifecta. The plot is well paced, with lots of action and constantly moving. The writing style flows smoothly and carried me along through the story, ramping up the tension in some places and drawing moments out in others keeping the reader gripped. Kendra’s twenty first century background means that she notices everything different between the past and present, therefore alerting the reader to key differences between the centuries especially when considering the different classes. Kendra coming from an FBI background as well means she is very observant and is always shaking things up within the 1815 method of solving crimes.

A Twist in Time is a brilliantly written historical crime novel which carries on from the excitement of the first book excellently, full of rich descriptions and historical details. I desperately want to read the next book and I will somehow get my hands on it, even if neither of the counties I have library cards for have it! I’m not sure if I could survive in the 19th century- no toilets or proper cleaning materials sounds like a nightmare, not to mention how restricted women were!

To Be Perfectly Honest Review

To Be Perfectly Honest by Jess Vallance

I went into To Be Perfectly honest looking for a light, fun YA contemporary read and that is exactly what I got. I should start with a disclaimer that I have not read the first book. However, the story is not adversely affected by this at all and you can enjoy the novel whether you’ve read the first one or not. Seriously, I didn’t even notice there was one before this until I went onto goodreads to log it.

The story follows Gracie, who is in sixth form college and after discovering her family has been lying to her decides to not lie at all for 50 days. Her definition of honesty is questionable, as in she blurts out everything she thinks, but I didn’t find this cringy, only quite funny and exasperating at times. Gracie has a girlfriend, and I loved the fact it was treated like any other teenage relationship rather than some mysterious gay relationship which weirdly goes perfectly. There were no moments that were so unrealistic I couldn’t see a teenager doing which I was thankful for. Yes, some of it was unlikely but then again I randomly buy tickets for talks in London and I have friends who have done all sorts of wild stuff so teenagers can be unlikely sometimes.

This book is very funny and relatable, although sometimes Gracie came off a bit childish especially when she was just rude in the name of honesty. It made me want to try this project but do it properly and tell the truth without needlessly hurting other people. Then again, when I have to explain that I don’t want to go out because I want to read instead it might not go down so well!

Noteworthy Review

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Noteworthy is a contemporary YA novel following the antics of Jordan Sun, a girl with an alto 2 voice at a performing art boarding school. For those who the words alto 2 mean nothing, it basically means that she has a low singing voice for a girl. She is there on a scholarship, and at home she is not wealthy. After not being picked for the musical three years in a row, she sees a chance in a prestigious acapella group at her college. The only problem is it’s an all-boys group, so she does the obvious thing and dresses up as a boy. Simultaneously, we find out more about Jordan’s relationship which ended not long ago, and her family life. But it was not solely Jordan’s story, for the sharpshooters (the acapella group) and their relationships and group dynamic played a starring role with a range of different characters.

The tone of the novel is humorous while considering some really interesting topics like what it is like to be a boy and how different it is, with Jordan seeing things from a different perspective. Inevitably, she almost gives herself away several times calling out the guys for saying things about girls. While it is funny, the story is also sad as Jordan finally makes some good friends while we know that she is lying to them, and it can’t continue forever. The longer the pretence continued the more heartbroken I got because Jordan was building real relationships with the guys in the group, but all the while they couldn’t be completely real as she was lying to them.

What I really appreciated about this novel is that Riley Redgate considers the implications of what Jordan is doing when pretending to be a boy, Jordan’s discomfort at realising that the tips she is using to look like a boy are actually meant for transgender boys and pretending to be a gay boy when something happens.

I was pleased with the ending, and I will probably check out some of Riley Redgate’s other books. I would definitely survive this book, a performing arts boarding school sounds quite fun.

The Queen of Nothing Review

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

The Queen of Nothing. The final book in the Folk of the Air trilogy. Wow. Somehow I always forget how much I love Holly Black’s books until I read the next one, and fall back in love even faster than before.

The Queen of Nothing follows Jude as she returns to the Faerie Court, facing Cardan and various other figures from her past. There are duels and betrayal and plot twists and schemes and moments to shatter your hearts into tiny pieces, and I wouldn’t want it any different. Also, Jude pretends to be Taryn for a while and I am a huge fan of characters switching places, I just think it’s great fun.

Let’s start with Jude. Wonderful, powerful, brave Jude. From the very start of this book Jude is doing her own thing, carrying out illicit faerie jobs for money in the human world. I love everything about Jude, how strong and furious she is, how she schemes and fights, how she hates to be powerless. It gives me such a rush when she asserts herself as queen, refusing to bow to anyone else’s wishes (she also uses her period as an excuse to scare off a male guard which was epic). Jude isn’t particularly close with her siblings anymore, but she loves them fiercely, and the complexity of all the relationships in the book are wonderful. I haven’t read a relationship that makes me squeal like Jude’s and Cardan’s in a long time. The innuendo. The tension. The hate and fire and love. The tender moments.

Holly Black is a truly masterful writer. Even the prologue was magical. The action thrilled me, the tension had me on edge and I had to take several moments to process the deadly beauty of the Faerie Court. Holly Black can truly make me laugh, and I smiled throughout the entire book. I am in awe of Holly’s writing of the faeries, especially since they cannot lie so Holly had to find ways to lie without being untrue.  The contrast between the mortal and faerie world was brilliant, especially the depth with which growing up human in a faerie world shaped Jude, Taryn and Vivi.

When I came to the ending, I didn’t want to keep reading but I couldn’t stop racing towards it. This was the first time I’d read for a solid hour or so in a while, and it felt awesome. And terrifying because it meant the book was coming to an end. The ending (metaphorically) killed me, such delicious dark beauty and emotions and imagery. The whole book was as intoxicating and enchanting as a faerie glamour.

Would I survive this book? In the faerie world, no. In the human world, yes.

Scorn Review

Scorn compiled by Matthew Parris

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you all have a great day, and I would like to point out that reviewing a book of insults has nothing to do with today being Valentine’s Day. Lots of love to you and your books!

Scorn gave me a great evening of reading, as well as lots of insults to harass my family with. It describes itself as the ‘wittiest and wickedest insults in human history’, and it certainly includes some brilliant insults. They are arranged in several sections, including religion, class, places, morality, politics and ancient curses. Some of the insults were funnier than others, and it’s definitely important to read this book lightly and not take any of it too seriously. I didn’t find the political ones as funny as the others, but that is just personal preference- there really is something for everyone except younger readers who should under no circumstances read this.

There isn’t much else to say since it is just quote after quote, so I’m just going to list a few of my favourites here. Please do not take offense, the insults shown are supposed to be humorous and not to be taken seriously.

Never doubt the courage of the French. They are the ones who discovered snails are edible.

Doug Larson

Unmitigated noodles.

Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany on the English

If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell.

General Philip Sheridan

Roast beef in human form.

Horace Walpole on the inhabitants of Norfolk

Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it is important.

Eugene J. McCarthy

Watching the eurozone countries trying to resolve their debt crisis has been like watching 17 people in oven gloves manipulating a Rubik’s cube.

John Lichfield

He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.

Winston Churchill on Stanley Baldwin

When they circumcised Herbert Samuel they threw away the wrong bit.

David Lloyd George. Attrib.

A writer is someone for whom writing is harder than it is for other people.

Thomas Mann

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are.

W. Somerset Maugham

Brass bands are all very well in their place – outdoors and several miles away.

Sir Thomas Beecham. Attrib.

A man with a fork in a world of soup.

Noel Gallagher on Liam Gallagher

Gemina Review

Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

I LOVED THIS BOOK.

First, a bit of context/ raving about the series as a whole. The key to this entire series is the format. Told through online messaging, transcripts, AI dialogue and other reports, there is not a single stream of narrative, which is what makes these books so incredible. They are so completely unique, yet the story pulls together brilliantly and I found myself more engaged in this series of documents than some normally written books so don’t discount them just because they look a bit different. That being said, I did try to read them as ebooks and that was a lot harder than reading them as physical books, which is ironic because the whole format is based on being online. The format is perfect for this story, it adds to the scientific/ space tech side of the story and it makes you piece together the story a little, which makes it far more exciting than having it all laid out in front of you while adding information that couldn’t have otherwise been in it. Plus, you don’t have to remember character names because of the transcripts say.

Gemina is the second book in the illuminae trilogy written by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. It follows the attack of the Jump Station Heimdall by a bunch of madpeople/ assassins sent by Beitech to catch the people of Hypatia when they arrive. So you can already tell this is going to be WILD. Once I picked it up I could not put it down, I got sucked in like a ship into a wormhole.

The main characters we meet are Nik and Hanna, along with the murder squad and Nik’s awesome cousin Ella. Somehow from simple dialogue and transcripts the characters make huge, distinct impressions on you, and they fight believably and they hurt but they keep going and it was a whole lot of emotions going through this journey with them, especially as links with the previous book began appearing. Hanna is a legend in a bomb jumpsuit, and I love her especially. Finally, he isn’t technically a character but the employee who transcribes the videos is absolutely great, humorous and real. The worldbuilding is incredible, believable and intricately detailed. Every little is detail is thought out, from the gravity on each level of the space station to imports and the drug trade. Kristoff and Kaufman have created such an amazing universe and it is utterly captivating.

And then there’s the plot. It blew my mind. An absolute rollercoaster. The first few pages were a little confusing, getting used to new characters, but the speed picked up and suddenly my heart was being used as a ping pong ball. The action in this is sustained through most of the book but never feels tired, it’s always beautiful and believable and shocking. It is chaotic with different things happening in different places on the ship yet I never felt lost. I was so gripped I completely forgot to make any notes throughout most of the novel, which might be why this review is slightly messy. The pace is fast, picks you up and doesn’t set you down until the end where you put down the book and squeal, slightly shellshocked. I am desperate for the sequel, and my local library does not have it which is incredibly upsetting. Other things that feature in this book are airlocks, blood, snakes on drugs, sass and quite a bit of murder.

Would I survive this book? No chance, I’m just a body floating around in space. Maybe a small chance if I hid in a wardrobe and stayed there the entire time. But unlikely.

The Tyrant’s Tomb

The Tyrant’s Tomb by Rick Riordan.

For more of me saying how much I love Rick Riordan, check out my previous post!

‘We didn’t count the dead. They weren’t numbers. They were people we had known, friends we had fought with.”

What a line. Without spoilers, my heart was broken once again in this book. I really wish Riordan would stop writing such loveable characters who you see develop and grow and then doing horrible things to them. I would be perfectly happy to have a book of just daily life at Camp Jupiter and Camp Half-Blood. There’s is no need for all the pain.
I love this new version of Apollo, seeing him reflect on the mistakes he has made and truly regretting them, watching him change from a haughty god to someone who genuinely cares about the people around him. I loved the choice of the song Sweet Caroline. I love the mix of old and new characters, from Apollo and Meg to Thalia Grace. And most of all I love the line ‘We didn’t count the dead. They weren’t numbers. They were people we had known, friends we had fought with’ even though it made me cry. It just seems so relevant.
This book was so readable but never over-simplified, the world doesn’t feel at all tired or overwritten despite the volume of books Riordan has published and the mix of new and old characters and plots is just seamless. Reading this after a while of not reading any of Riordan’s books feels like coming home.
As usual, Riordan has an excellent plot, awesome characters and lots of humour. If you haven’t read these books, what are you waiting for? Go and get Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief.

Sex Power Money review

Sex Power Money by Sara Pascoe

This is an awesome nonfiction book. I didn’t know what to expect exactly, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

There was more biology than I thought there was going to be, but thankfully it was much more clearly explained and interesting than biology at school. Pascoe dives into sex and power from an evolutionary standpoint, considering how people behave in regards to sex, power and money, and why how we have evolved to behave like that.
Pascoe considers several topics within the broader headings of sex, power and money such as porn and sex work. The links she draws out between sex, money and power are absolutely fascinating and very insightful, making me consider the topics from a new perspective. Pascoe backs up her points with statistics that are weaved in very naturally, as well as including anecdotes and personal stories from people who have been largely affected by these topics in some way.
This book does not go the direction you are expecting it to, but it is thoughtful, well-researched and most of all funny. The humour is well placed, never offensive and makes what can be quite heavy subjects more readable. Pascoe also includes a reading list at the end for those interested in further exploring the topics, and does not pretend that she is the expert on everything about sex, power and money even though after reading the book you might mistake her for one
I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially those with an interest in sex, power and money and how the three things are intertwined.